Saturday, May 20, 2017

Foster Care. Babies. Fertility. . and Feeling All the Feels.

We have people ask all the time about our journey through fostering. How did we start, what's the process like, do you deal with the birth mom, so you get to adopt for sure?  Those are a few of the ongoing questions. If you know Jen and I well, you know that we are both blunt and honest. I suppose that's good, but some people like things sugar coated... Well, there ain't no sugar in our stories!

I decided, for my mental health, and for all those that are interested, that I wanted to finally write about it all, even though it's an unfinished story... But I can't write about our Foster Care story without starting at the beginning. So here it goes... I hope you're on your lunch break or need a novel to read because this is a lengthy one. It's about healing, and letting go, and being able to lose your shit and come out on the other side smiling.

We started the fertility process, with my uterus, over 6 years ago, maybe longer. I think I blocked out some of it. We tried, with many different donors, and lots of injectable medications, for me to get pregnant.  I had PERFECT cycles, everything was spot on, numerous follicles, etc. I'll spare you all the lingo that I memorized. But I should have gotten pregnant. I thought for sure I would, because I wanted to, and so did Jen. Spoiler alert; it didn't work.

What many people fail to do in this sort of high stress and traumatic situation, which infertility is, is people shut down. Not everyone, mind you, but many... They don't FEEL all the FEELS. They don't talk. They don't cry. They move forward - to another process, bad habits, more options, new plans; they keep thinking about other ways or other things. Again, they do not FEEL all the FEELS. Get where I'm going with this? That was me. And I didn't even know it back then. I thought I was good. I thought I was 'past all that'. My way of not thinking about it or breaking down was easy... We tried Jen. She reluctantly stepped up. I say that, not because she didn't really want to get pregnant (although she was not thrilled), but she was always told she could not get pregnant (damn PCOS). So she spent her life believing that. We tried anyway, and our fertility doctor said, "no problem!" Sure enough, obviously, Jen got pregnant! And on the SECOND try. If you know the fertility process, you know that's very fast and super awesome! And if you don't know this process, I'm telling you, that is fast.

So what did I do? I was elated! and then I was sad, for like two seconds (note: his is where I blocked the feels)... and then I was happy! So happy that we were having a baby... and then a baby boy!! Which is exactly what we wanted. Healthy baby, for sure, as long as it was a boy. 😉  Sue us, we aren't girl-raising people.

So then our baby was born. So I got caught up in loving him, as I should, and learning to be a mom and living this new life.  I still wasn't feeling... I wasn't feeling anything about not getting pregnant.. Life was good, often stressful as new parenting can be, but things were good. We decided we weren't having any other kids; one was enough. We felt firm, Jen maybe a little more, but we were all set. So we carried on with life, parenting, working, and trying to sleep as much as possible. AND THEN...

I started thinking about how great a sibling would be for Atticus, and I always thought about fostering to adopt. Of course, during that time of thinking, my dad passed away. A dad I had not spoken to in over 11 years. A dad that was in foster care a long time ago, and although I was not told specifics, it was not a good experience. So fostering became more of a thought at that moment.

Well, so we talked about it... went back and forth... and back...and forth. We decided to get certified! What the hell. It wasn't how we planned on a second one, but shit, we didn't plan it at all! Jen even tossed most of our baby stuff randomly when I was at work.  ; ) She's kicking herself now... a gentle kick, but still. So we did our classes, and home study, and CPR, and everything we were supposed to do. We were ALMOST certified. .. and then it hit me. I'll never have a biological kid.

It was always in the back of mind that we still had vials of sperm, for the same donor we used with Atticus. I wanted to get rid of it; I needed closure. So we did. We notarized a letter to the sperm bank telling them to destroy it. DONE.

So I went back to thinking about my dad...  There's are too many thoughts around that, but mostly I felt if I had a biological child, being the last Reese in the family, maybe I could raise this kid the way my dad and his dad should have been raised. Maybe I could change the cycle of trauma. I had big dreams with that phantom baby...

So Jen actually brought it up to me, that this foster thing seem so hard and what if I regret not getting pregnant and I'm resentful or sad for the rest of my life... Well I got to thinking. She was right. I would always wonder... what if we tried again. What if it works and this was all meant to be? But we got rid of the sperm so we would have to use a different donor. I had a weird feeling, so I called the sperm bank... Before I did though, I told myself that if by some miracle they still have it, many months later, then it's a sign. Guess what.. They had it! The paperwork was misplaced to destroy it and so they still had it in the lab! I called Jen with the news! That meant we had to try, and we both had reservations for many reasons. So we stopped the foster process and said we were done, it wasn't for us.

From this step forward we didn't tell anyone what we were up to, not even my mom. Jen finally convinced me to tell her, but I wasn't happy about it... I did not want to tell ANYONE. I needed to handle it alone. I finally told a couple close friends at the end of the process. It did explain my odd behavior.

We went to a consult with the fertility doctor and I set my guidelines. I would only try 2-3 times and I would not use the injectable meds again.. I gained weight, my hair fell out, I felt like ass all the time, and they were about $1500 PER try! So no more.  She agreed and the plan was to just take Clomid. Easy peasy. I went to therapy, talked about it, all good, and we began...

Clomid made me a FUCKING NUT job. Mhm, ask Jen. I am usually not that hormonal or crazy, but I was in rare form and each month got worse. I guess it's dawned on you by now that I didn't get pregnant.. Right you are! The third great cycle and nothing... NOTHING. Except my period was late and I was so bitchy. I thought there was a chance. Nope, Clomid makes your period late. Son-of-a...

So there I was.. NOT pregnant, AGAIN. Remember those FEELS I blocked, I was still blocking them.. But they came out in anger and binge eating. Fun times. So I went to therapy, again, and she reminded me that I need to be emotional, that I need to feel this or I will never get better and move on.  Yep, I hear ya, thanks... Still nothing. nothing real, just anger geared at people I love. I decided I wanted back in the foster program. I was depriving Atticus of a sibling by not getting pregnant and I felt horrible.

So we completed our certification... but months later, and still no call about a baby.
So we made another decision that no one knows about.. We were going to try for Jen to get pregnant, only twice. That was the deal. What's better than a baby I give birth to?  HERS!! She gave me Atticus, and I like him. So why not have another?!

By the way, I love my son, in case you didn't catch my sarcasm above!

So we did a cycle with Jen and then we decided to stop the foster process for good, since we hadn't received a call, and if Jen wasn't pregnant we would stop trying for a second kid altogether. We decided on a Thursday. We were taking our name off the list.. On Friday morning at 10am Jen got a call about a baby.. because that's how our life works...  and she was in the middle of a fertility cycle, with two weeks remaining before we knew if she was pregnant. It was GO TIME. We had to make a decision. She called me about the baby, thinking for sure I would say no. Because I had my mind made up.

I didn't say no. I said Yes. I had to. Something told me to say yes, as weird as that sounds. His story sounded right for us. It sounded like he was going to need a forever home. We could end up with THREE kids. On the other hand, we could end up with one. I wasn't sure which one I wanted less.

I'm sure Jen will correct all my timing in this story, because I am not good at that.. remembering shit in the right order. But I try.

Let me back up a little, to those feelings I kept mentioning. The ones I suppressed for years.  Well, a few months before we tried Jen, and a few months after I was not pregnant again, it happened. I was in therapy, with my most favorite therapist on Earth, and I lost it. I cried. This was HUGE. Not like sweet little tears running down my face, but like sobbing, with snot and gasps for air between a waterfall of emotions... I have never ever ever cried in therapy, regardless of how terrible or traumatic the issue, since I started going at the age of 21.

I don't think my therapist said one word that session. I suppose I could've saved 100 bucks and broke down in my car and talked to myself! I told her I was exhausted, I didn't like who I became through all of this, that I sucked as a mom, and that I never healed from infertility the first go round. (She gave me the 'I'm not surprised' Therapist look). I held it in for a long time, and I was tired - so tired of keeping it all in and trying to pretend it didn't hurt like hell. That it didn't hurt that Jen got pregnant easily. That it didn't hurt that my friends were having babies. I would never have a biological child. I would never change the Reese legacy and somehow change the past for my dad and papa. I was so tired of pretending, of not feeling. It was not serving me or my family well.

I slowly realized that feeling those things DID NOT mean that I resented Jen getting pregnant. They don't mean that I don't love Atticus. They're feelings. They are NOT FACTS.

So I let it all go. I told her I needed to feel things. I needed to cry and let it all out once and for all. I needed to heal, and in order to do that, I had to really break down...  It would not be pretty, and I'm a gal that likes to seem put together. ALWAYS. I knew it would be worse for awhile. And it was. Jen saw me break down. Like really lose my shit...  But I broke down way more than she knew. I cried on the way to work. I cried at work. I cried when I saw pregnant women. I CRIED. And it sucked. For someone like me, I felt so weak at first. I felt like a real loser. I had to hide and cry in the bathroom when I was alone with Atticus. I felt so weak, like I said, at first... Slowly, slowly, very slowly, I stopped crying daily. Then I cried once a week when I thought about it. It became less and less. SLOWLY.  I started to feel like ME again. I was hurt, and my heart was still cracked, but this was what healing feels like. I was feeling all the feels... every painful one. AND I was still alive. I didn't die. I didn't get divorced. My son still loved me.

I suppose some people will read this and think I'm nuts or a sissy or maybe overly emotional.. The point is I was never emotional enough... Some people may think it's not that big of a deal to not get pregnant. There's more involved than just not birthing a baby. Your body doesn't work as it should. You are not in control. It's in your face all the time.  We are taught that to become a mother you get pregnant and have a baby. Not that there aren't other ways, but it's not how we're taught. And I don't just mean by our parents, I mean society in general. Most of society thinks that moms birth their babies...
What I think of all that? BULLSHIT.

There are so many ways to be a mom. It took me a long time to feel that for myself. I always felt that adopted moms were moms. Step moms were moms. Lesbians moms that didn't give birth were moms. Surrogate moms were moms. Women who lost their babies were still moms. Women who had their kids taken by the system, still moms. But me? I thought I would never feel like a mom unless I gave birth.. And, honestly, it took some time to get my head right.  I'd love to say this all came easy, my wife having our baby. But it just didn't, and to pretend it did is a disservice to other women. Sharing real stories is the only way we heal and support others who may be suffering alone.

I am Atticus' mom. I look at him and I forget he doesn't have my DNA, especially when he's being overly dramatic, coercing me to do what he wants, or wanting his nails painted. I'm a mom. It no longer matters how I got here. My path is my path... but the path gives way and you just... You arrive.

As for becoming a mom, again... Well it's been even harder than not getting pregnant. What I tell myself daily, when I feel like we made a mistake, is the timing was perfect. The timing was not at the right time, but the timing was perfect. We got a call for OUR baby when HE needed us, not when we needed him. His birth mom could not and can not care for him, or his 7 older siblings. Is he ours officially? NO. Will he be? Maybe.  Jen and I are black and white people. Is it a Yes or a No?... That's how we live our lives. This process...this fostering cyclone of a process? It's GRAY. All sorts of GRAY. It's foggy, smokey, charcoal, and hazy... And all I want is solid Black or White.

That is not how the system is designed. We just weren't prepared. When I mentioned above that maybe we made a mistake... go ahead, judge us. But it has nothing to do with this sweet baby.  We get to have thoughts, we all do... And ours sometimes drift to that when Atticus is screaming or having a tantrum because he really needs love and attention, and we don't have the capacity. We are stressed and tired and just out of energy some days. And not because of kid number two.. But because of all the other shit, really.  Oh, and two stressful jobs between us. On those days, we think... was this the right move? Raising someone else's baby...  Did we do the right thing? Will the current overwhelming nature of our life pass?

There are weekly visits with the birth mom, the social workers, the doctors, the paperwork, the rules, court dates, the unknown, the term "IT DEPENDS" in reference to anything in the Foster Care System... It makes my head spin. At times it makes me angry at a woman I don't know.  It makes me angry at a woman who used drugs while pregnant with her babies, when all I wanted was to be pregnant.

But wait... Do you guys know why I didn't get pregnant? Because these two boys are my babies. I got my babies. Atticus was meant to be our son, my son. And now Aero... he's our son, my son.

I realized, what does that anger solve? I'm not a hateful person, and I know addiction very well, Jen and I both do. It was in our homes and in our friend groups.. It was all around. And now we have a chance to raise a beautiful baby outside of that world. This is it. This is Motherhood for me. This is motherhood for us. It's not pretty right now. It's work. It's learning patience and acceptance. It's learning that his birth mom gave him life, which gave us a second baby and a chance to change his future. It's about loving where we are and especially those who help us survive. It's about reconnecting in parenting together instead of pushing each other away. It's about priorities. It's about being silly with these kids and not giving a shit if the house is messy.. Well, I take that back, we're getting a mother fucking maid y'all!!

That's our story so far.... It's a long one. It's unfinished. It's ours.

To Be Continued...

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I Hear Writing is Cathartic...

CAUTION: These are my thoughts in raw form. It's really more for me than you, in the best way possible. But, who knows, maybe some of you can relate, understand, or find comfort in these words.

This posts contains swear words, so if you're a cuss word sissy you better exit now... wink face.

Soooo, here I am. . . after a much needed break from social media, negativity, the news and, honestly, a reprieve from my usual self.

I just attended my first yoga retreat this past weekend, which I signed up for two weeks before Thanksgiving because, well, I needed to go be alone in the woods and meditate.  For those of you that know me well you're probably laughing out loud or you spit out your morning coffee. Hell, I find it weird too. All this yoga, thoughtfulness, and inward reflection is NOT who I've been all my life, or really even a year ago... But I learned a hard lesson this last year, and I'm not speaking solely about the election decision because that is only a teeny tiny piece of this jumbled puzzle. Maybe epiphany is a better word, although, that seems a bit dramatic... But, hey, I think we can all agree I have some dramatic tendencies at times.

There have been some tough personal issues going on lately, actually compounding over the last year, that have given me an abnormally heavy heart; and I realized that I have been reacting the same way to situations for about 37 years now... minus maybe the infant years, but pretty sure I was a hot tempered mess then too! Sorry Mom!
I read a quote recently that really resonated with me... I'll paraphrase because I've seen it written many different ways.

*If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done*

Holy Shit >>>> BAM... It might as well have read, WAKE THE FUCK UP MEGHAN!! For some reason, at the moment I saw this on some random IG account, while involuntarily trolling social media, it hit me... What the hell is it going to take to make a real change? I don't want my old life. I don't want to live half ass. I don't want to recover from the past anymore, and I don't want to continue a cycle of mediocrity and unresolved trauma. My family deserves better. I am not miserable, don't get me wrong, but I am not living up to my potential... as a wife, as a mother, as a worker, as a daughter, as a friend, and just as a human. 

I have always wanted to be perfect.. That's really fucking exhausting. Not to mention, what the fuck does that even mean?!? Perfect to whose standards, certainly not my own?? 37 years y'all... of trying to be great at everything and slowly realizing I'm really not that great at everything, or much at all.. because it was contrived, disingenuous really.  Because really, who is great at everything they attempt? No one. and if you're that ONE PERSON that is, I hate you. (JK, kind of)
You have to find the one or two things that make you happy and just do it, screw expectations. Because if you LOVE it, you will excel at it. I now know that, so learn from my mistakes.  All this striving for perfection, or achievements I never really wanted, well I'm over it. I am inching rather close to 40. <<deep breath>> Yowser. So why waste any more time.

So far here's how my life breaks down:
Kid years: I just wanted to play outside and draw... I was super introverted most of the time. 
Teens: Emotional roller coaster on crack. Again, trying to be who I, or others, thought I should be.
20's: HOT MESS. Anxiety attacks daily. You poured it, I drank it. You asked, I probably did it. Regrets, by the boat load.
30's: Life got on the right track, settled down. REALIZATION: That old shit isn't working anymore.

I've been thinking hard about how we repeat patterns... The comfort that exists in always reacting the same way, because it's so scary to do things a new way. How will you know the outcome?! I think we can safely say it's all about control. And when your life was once out of control your brain changes... You are rewired. It's an unnoticeable switch... It's gradual enough to just be normal.. You begin to make decisions that don't need to be made because of fear. You react instead of becoming thoughtful. You plan for the worst case instead of relishing in the possibilities of the best case [which actually sounds so much more amazing, doesn't it?!]. You are conditioned to believe that you are the only person with your best interest at heart so those almost unbreakable walls are gradually built around you. (I don't like ANY walls, clearly)

I am not religious, or spiritual, or anything really.. although, I am working on trusting energy in the universe because you can't dispute that the world is made up of energy no matter what you believe in...  But many, many let downs have taught me that this life is not mine to over control. When I say let downs, by the way, the realistic translation is that I got EVERYTHING I needed in life, but not the way I wanted it or how i had planned it in my head. Oh my gosh you guys, that's a MOFO wake up call!! 

This is what happened to me when I tried to PLAN the SHIT out of everything:
>> I found a great life partner, that I didn't go out seeking or quite frankly would've chosen on my own (I mean that in the most awesome way wife!!)... I got the job I needed to influence my future, that has had many obstacles, and that I did not choose. I got the most amazing child in the world, but not at all the way I wanted or expected, and who is teaching me more than I will ever teach him. We bought our first home that we never thought we would get, the perfect home for us, after numerous failed offers and disgruntled attitudes. I have friends that have been with me through it all, and I am sometimes not sure why they stuck around so long, but they are the ones I needed.
 >>>> After all those instances it still took a LONG ass time for me to get it. I GOT IT ALL!! Everything I wanted... but I was still having a pity party that it did not go the way I planned in my head. I realize now how stupid and childish that is. Not to mention the unnecessary stress!! It worked out, every damn bit of it. The comfort I now feel with that weight being gone is just heavenly (but I am still working on it, because I'm still me). 

I am slowly learning to do things differently. To be grateful. To love just a little more when it feels like it's not possible in the moment. // To ALWAYS take a breath before reacting \\ To do more small things alone, so that when I am with others I am present and not just existing

One lesson I can share, and one I now swear by, is this... YOU ARE ONLY RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR OWN FEELINGS. Let that sink in, because I swear to you, it relieves a shit ton of stress and takes care of the one person that matters most. YOU.  Because you are NO GOOD to anyone else unless you take care of yourself. It may feel hurtful or aggressive to others, but you are not responsible for their perceptions or brain wiring or trauma. This has alienated some friends and family at times, but at my core I know taking care of me makes every other relationship even stronger... I don't mean that you should be rude or hateful [duh]... What I mean is, set out to always have the best intentions, but if others react poorly, rudely, or misinterpret, allow them to work it out on their own. It's not your job to fix someone else. Man, it's amazing how healthy that is, yet how awkward it feels at first. Cuz really people, we aren't taught how to be healthy! We are not taught to set HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. We're taught how to make others happy first,  to sacrifice ourselves, and then get mass amounts of expensive therapy, and then be told to take care of ourselves.. Thanks, thanks for that cruel world (oops, drama flair)!

I'm oversharing today... Pretty much you can think of this as the culmination of all the days I haven't been posting on Facebook. HA. And maybe my next posting will be another blog post instead of spending my days thinking of what I can take a photo of to share on social media. .  

Thanks for reading. I hope you all had a wonderful, butter-filled Thanksgiving, as I did! Gobble Gobble

Oh, here are a few photos from my awesome yoga retreat...If you live in Cali and want a great yoga retreat, check out Sagrada in Santa Margarita!! I used to call of this stuff HOKEY... Now I call it survival.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

9 Ways to Survive the First Year as a First Time Parent

You start out as a happy thriving couple. You go to dinner, movies, friends' weddings, parties, you have sex, you make eye contact, you laugh at your spouse's jokes. Life is pretty great. So, why not make the couple into a throuple! 
"Let's have a family together"

This is the greatest thing you will ever accomplish as a team, and a potential reason for the demise of that team. Yes, I may seem like a pessimist, but I promise, I'm a realist. There are many divorces that occur because raising a person tests every amount of patience you have, and depletes your mental sanity on numerous occasions.

Adding a baby to any semi normal couple is still a jaw dropping, eye opening, cry-on-the-phone-with-your-mom kind of event. 
I was very adamant from day one that we remain a couple, and individuals, above all else. I felt that our son would be better off if we were sane, rested, and happy as humans and as a couple. So, being a bit hardcore, I set up rules that we pretty much still follow, in order to have a well rounded adult life as parents. Let me warn you, it's not easy. What is easy, is falling into the lazy, "we are just parents" trap. You are not just parents. Ever. 

1. Date night. This is most effective after the meals stop being delivered, after the parents and in-laws stop cleaning and doing the dishes, and after the initial newness wears off and you are just fucking exhausted already. So, about three weeks! This does not mean a fancy dinner that requires two hours of prep time; it means leaving the house with your spouse to have a meal. You can discuss how exhausted you are, how frustrated you get when your little angel won't sleep at night, or just sit in rare and beautiful silence while being able to eat a full meal, in one sitting.

2. Get referrals for good sitters asap! Like, I mean before your child is even born. Start asking friends for referrals and get to know the sitter. This is really critical if you don't have family nearby! Having a good sitter on standby is like skydiving with a parachute... You actually have to have it.

3. Go away overnight at least once before your child is 6 months old. I feel like this is where I have to resuscitate people. I know it seems overwhelming to some parents, but it probably saved my marriage. We weren't on the verge by any means, but if we went six months with no break... Well, I'd be picking out curtains for my new studio apartment. We went away over night very early. I won't say how early, because people tend to think I have no soul. I will say that my mom stayed with him and it was glorious. And if you don't have a mom/dad or mom/dad-in-law, make a pact with a friend. Two of my best friends watched our son overnight before he was even 6 months old. I'm not saying you need to be as crazy as I am, but you trust your friends... and they don't want to see you in a looney bin just because you don't have grandparents around! Us parents have to stick together! So when when they come knocking on your door raising money for their kid's sports team, DO IT.  Buy the damn candy bar. You owe them.

4. Learn to recognize your spouse's "I wanna go buy diapers and not come home" face. You will see it, I promise. I had that look when AK was about three months old, we were back to our work routine, and we had yet to figure out that he had acid reflux, eczema, and an allergy to dairy and soy. GOOD TIMES. I really thought that moment in time was a permanent condition. I was very close to losing my shit. 
So, if you see that look, tell your spouse to go nap at a quiet friend's house, or get a massage, or, hell, go sleep in the car! They will do the same when you have that look. And you will have it. 

5. Put the baby in his or her own room to sleep at night, and for naps (we waited two weeks, but that may be extreme). AK was a loud ass gremlin baby, so he had to go. Try hard. When a baby becomes comfortable with their own bed, they sleep better, and it becomes habit. So if they sleep in your bed, they will be comfortable, and it will become a habit. I don't think I need to keep going, you get it. I sure hope you do! I mean, you will have a four year old in your bed before you know it. Are you asking for a divorce? Because the small cracks do eventfully cause a rupture. 

6. Routine!!! I have found, with my whopping one kid, that babies and toddlers love routine. There is comfort in stability for them. Once we started our nighttime routine (at 3-4 weeks) of feeding, bath, snuggles, reading a book, and then into the crib, our life became semi manageable. That kiddo went to bed the same time every night since he was about one month old, whether he slept through the night, and with or without a nap. We were so strict that my own momma thought I was a lunatic (yes, she said that). Other than teething and colds, my almost two year old still goes to bed at 6:30 (ish) every single night (and I hate to say it out loud, but he consistently sleeps 12 hours). Now, maybe we got lucky. Or maybe it was the routine. If we wanted to repeat this adventure I'd place my bets on routine (but we don't).

7. Go out alone. This was really key for both Jen and I. We both love to be alone. It's almost impossible to work, raise a baby, spend time with your spouse, AND have alone time. But you have to try!! 
Go to Target by yourself. Even if you're buying huge post pregnancy pads, diapers, dog food, a nasal sucker thingy, and frozen pizza, you will feel like a new person! That will be the best 45 minute trip ever. Oh, and buy a candy bar to devour on the way home. Nothing feels better than a secret sugar fix.  *once you have a toddler this means even more to you!! (You'll see)

8. Tell your OCD side to simmer down!! Stop trying to keep a perfectly neat and tidy house 24/7. Just give it up. It will consume you. I'm happy to provide more details, but as I've hinted, I prefer to stay married. 

9. One parent always carries more of the burden (or good times) in some respect. Don't beat yourself up. And it will vary everyday. Atticus sometimes prefers Jen when he's sick. She got up with him more for the first year of his life. (I'm a comatose sleeper). He sometimes prefers playtime with me. I love to chase him, read in weird voices, and throw him in the air.  My point is, you will not be number 1 all the time. Learn to take those hits with ease... so when your 'baby' is 12 you aren't butt hurt when they don't want anything to do with you.

What's most important the first year is survival and adaptation. Just let your new life sink in, mourn your exciting old life, and fall in love with parenting. You can't do that if you tucker yourself out cleaning, feeding, crying, wiping, bathing, arguing, soothing, folding...  Take some time to do nothing, or maybe, just maybe, look at your spouse without wanting to kill them for not hearing the baby last night (personal experience). I'm pretty sure you are both doing your best. But remember, no one is their best ALL the time. So cut yourself, and your better half, some slack! 

These are all just my experiences and advice. What works for my baby may not work for yours. Try it, or don't. 
But do make time for yourself and your spouse, that I can promise you is a MUST! 

Enjoy the ride y'all!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Wish I was the Mom I am on Facebook

Don't you? If I only judged parenting based on Facebook or Instagram posts, then life seems dazzling with a toddler. It's easy to get sucked into THAT world. It's very easy to doubt your skills as a mom and compare yourself to the perfect moms of social media: wearing lipstick, matching clean clothes, and perfect beachy waves! Bitches!! But then I think, "oh shit, that may be me." Although, I do hate lipstick. What I mean is, we all post the best photos. So we all pretty much look our best to the outside world.

Social media makes parenting seem like buttah, nice and smooth. Well guess what, it's not. No one posts photos of themselves chugging coffee while trying to eat yogurt and swat at a screaming toddler at 6:30am: A toddler that may be issuing breakfast demands that sound like German! "Uutz Mooof momma!!" Huh?!

No one posts the photos of themselves trying to use the bathroom alone for two seconds of adult peace, while a toddler flings the door open and tries to crawl in your lap (gotta see about that door lock!) Although, maybe they do it and I dodged that photo bullet. 
Even if you post stressful 'real life' parenting photos, they aren't real.  It's just you smiling. Right before you lose your shit.
So let's call it what it is; it's how we all cope and unwind. I see your photos on Facebook, and I know you're home hollering at your spouse, wearing two day old sweats, swearing at the dog, and letting your kid eat crap food. You can pretend they eat gluten free, but I can smell the Doritos through your hashtags!! And that is A-OK. Because bribing kids with junk food works. I'll be damned if I'm gonna ruin 2 minutes of my day, when (on occasion) a bag of fruit snacks will solve it!
Remember the recent photo of the mom breastfeeding on the toilet?! Yeah, it received lots of attention and opinions. My opinion of her choice does not matter, nor do I care... However, I don't look that good on a toilet. So maybe she thought that was a rough photo of parenting in action, but it looked like a model posing with a fake kid. I couldn't reenact it if you paid me.

Of course this shit is hard! We're raising people, not gerbils. So it's not always going to look good, unless you follow us on Instagram! I joke, I joke.
Seriously, we are all human. Parenting is a huge task that no one is prepared for. It's like floating in an amazing pool with endless margaritas, and someone tosses you a bowling ball. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Just remember that don't have to get your kid on Ellen, or post a rad You Tube video that goes viral, to be a bomb ass parent!

Keep all this in mind when you see a smiling angel kid on Facebook when yours ripped you to shreds all day. No matter your parenting philosophy or style, we will all have the same meltdowns, milestones, and snuggles. If you aren't a parent yet, and you want to be, don't let the Internet fool you... Shit comes out of babies like hot lava no matter what you feed them, you'll laugh at that crazy alien newborn until you almost pee your pants, and you'll cry at things that make you feel like a complete emotional moron. And I didn't even get the hormones!!
Enjoy the ride, and give yourself a break. Eventually all our kids will know their ABC's, they will talk like everyone else, and they will like one parent more on any given day. So relax and try to enjoy the crazy ride!! (And stay off effin social media on your bad days!)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Faith: To Have or Have Not

Caution: This is a long one

I am aware that this post may cause a ruckus, although, my opinionated nature has never been a real secret. I think what's essential for each of us is to believe in whatever the hell we want, and to mind our own damn business on the topic of religion. I feel more uncomfortable when people ask about religion than I do when they ask about having a husband.
I've always been in awe of people that believe in a God of some sort and/or spirituality. Some days it might be nice to have a backup plan, but (unfortunately) I don’t work that way. I do find religion fascinating.

I've never really struggled with my faith. In all my ups and downs in life, I am satisfied with knowing that I should do the best that I can and leave some sort of legacy and impression on the world.  By world I mean my world.  I hope to leave memories and love with my family and friends, and even those that know me only briefly. It’s a very unambiguous way to think of things, knowing I have one shot at this life.  It’s a bit heavy for some to consider, I understand.  But it’s always been enough for me.

“God has a plan,” “Things happen for a reason,” “It wasn’t meant to be,” “God never gives you more than you can handle,” “You have to have faith.”  I struggle with all of these. At least one of them I’ve used before, more than once. Sometimes, shit happens(!), and we say what we can to comfort people. When there are no explanations, we often go to “comfort clichés.” I can’t fault anyone for that; sometimes it’s just nice to say, or hear anything, especially for situations you don’t understand. During the rocky year when I was trying to get pregnant, I kept hearing that it will happen when it’s supposed to, or to have faith... What did I expect anyone to say? It’s shitty to go through and it’s even shittier to comfort someone going through it. It (obviously) worked out. Hence the adorable ginger you see constantly on my Facebook and Instagram! But it sure wasn't on my terms. Shocker… 
It’s very hard to go through that and not have faith in something larger, believe me. It’s times like that when you rely on your own intuition and strength. It’s not easy, that I will say. 

Now add a child to the mix.

I wondered if I would change my views… all the while knowing that is not in my nature. I know people that have kids and start going to church more and becoming more active in faith organizations, or just have stronger beliefs. I can certainly understand how that happens when you have someone other than yourself to consider. Someone once asked me, “Well, what are you going to tell Atticus when someone close to him dies?”  Now THAT is a very loaded and monumental question. It didn’t take me long to answer… And I’ll tell you that answer. But first…

I don’t think it’s what you say to your kids that’s so critical (don’t read too much into that). Meaning: I don’t think it’s detrimental to your child’s mental health for you to tell them you believe in God or not, or people go to heaven, or there is no higher being. I think what we need to remember is that kids need stability, compassion, and independence.  They need a choice. And most importantly, they need to know that their parents know what they believe in and stand by it. I think indecisiveness is the murderer of independence in children.  

Don’t freak out because I put that in bold. I just feel strongly about it for myself. Children need things to be outlined for them. They need answers one way or another. Black or white.  How can they become their own people when they don’t see their parents making direct decisions or standing for something. There’s a saying (and fabulous country song) that I LOVE: “You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” I agree, do it!! I get that some things will be in the middle as they get older, but when they are wee ones, they need a little assurance and decisiveness from the people they look up to.

I sure hope Atticus doesn’t just go with what Jen or I believe in. [Insert here that we do not have the exact same beliefs].  I hope he figures it out for himself, and I have no preference. If he became a priest I’d be happy (Aries: I function with extremes, mind you). I mean, I want him to be happy, intelligent, and completely his own person.  Some parts of my life were not ones I had any control over, so I made a deal with myself that I would allow Atticus to grow into his own and be in total control of his life. My only job is to love and protect him above all else. I will not live through him, I will not choose his life path, and I will not place emphasis on what I think he should do. I will just support, and step in as he requests.  I do say all of this knowing that I have the ability to change my mind. I say this mainly because I do not want him playing football.  Sorry Jen.  CONCUSSIONS!!

Okay, so back to what happens when people die. My response to that question was this:
I will tell him that when people die our memories of them become part of who we are. Those people remain with us by our choice to remember them always. I think it would be easier for me to say they went to heaven; little kids seem to accept that answer.  The problem is, I don’t believe that myself. I don’t want to give him the impression that my beliefs waiver when something bad happens. People die and they become part of the earth again, whether they are buried in the earth or their ashes are scattered into the wind. They just become part of this world again after death. That comforts me as much as death can comfort anyone, and I will share that with Atticus one day. Although, I hope it’s very far into the future.

So you can say Atheist, Agnostic, whatever…  People tend to walk farther from you if you say Atheist, so I just never really say anything. I do promise though that I don't bite, even if you disagree! I don’t put up a fuss when someone says they’re praying for me: I find it endearing actually. We share our beliefs and rituals as best we can with others, and the meaning is always what matters. If you tell me I’m going to hell for being gay I’ll probably just raise an eyebrow. I’m not 20 anymore… I won’t tell you how I used to react to that sort of thing. If you know me well, you don’t need an explanation.

I have learned that you CANNOT change someone’s beliefs easily, especially with your own opinion, or even with logic. I used to be so annoyed by that. Now I realize that is a trait I respect more than ANY OTHER. If you believe in it then by all means stick with it. If you falter, I lose my faith in who you told me you were. I don’t think we need to advertise it, but isn’t that what I’m doing right now? GUILTY.  Spewing my belief secrets for a blog post.  [shaking my head].

That’s it for now y’all.  Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings as always.