No Longer New

Eeek…has it really been almost two weeks since I’ve posted?  Yes, it has.  Some wild and wonderful things have been taking place in our household over the past two weeks (more wild than the normal toddler-pulling-cat parade, and more wonderful than Ben & Jerry’s ANYTHING, if you can believe that…) BUT, since I’m not at liberty to divulge the wonderfulness yet, you’ll have to forgive my sporadic writing.  I know, all 42 of you are terribly sad, right?  Wink wink, nod nod.

And so, today I’m reflecting on my momness, and it’s lack of newness…

Back to school…while my son isn’t in preschool yet, we have always referred to daycare as “school”, since something in my mind tells me this will make the transition easier once he does start kindergarten.  But, because preschool is part of the center he attends, there’s always a Fall Open House, since there are kids moving up to start preschool.  The teachers also try to coordinate other classroom moves to occur around this time, which means more than half of his current “class” in the 12-18 month toddler room has now moved up to the 18-24 month room.  We said goodbye (for now) to a few of his friends, and welcomed a big group of very new toddlers.
 
Miles is now the second oldest in his class; my sweetest boy is, for now, one of the “big kids.”
 
While dropping him off at school last week (the “first week” in new classrooms for those moved), one of the new moms arrived just minutes after us.  She talked to her little guy, and handed her list of instructions to one of the teachers.  She had lengthy conversations about how her son likes to eat his cereal, the best way to get him to eat peas, and how much milk he usually drinks with snacks and meals.  I couldn’t help but giggle in my head while listening to this “new” mom.  Because I knew that once they were at school, all bets were off.  I knew that Miles would eat twice as much broccoli here than at home; that he would love chicken and rice at school, but refuse it from me.  My heart was filled with empathy for this still-new mom.
 
And that’s when I realized something…I am no longer new.  Oh yes, I am still a first-time mom, but I am not a new mom.  We survived the first year: newborn, infant, rolling, crawling, learning to walk and talk, dropping the bottle and eating dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets.  One big, beautiful blur of important moments, quickly jotted in a baby book for me to reflect on when I have a smelly preteen.
 
Those new mom days, they’re something else, right?  So many moments of uncertainty (not that we have it all together by this age, either…) So much time spent googling, searching, asking, comparing.  And the worry – oh, the worry – is he eating enough?  Drinking enough?  Napping enough?  Getting enough sunshine?
 
Suddenly, and without you even realizing, it’s just a familiar routine.  One day you just know that your son will expect peas and corn and PB&J for lunch every Saturday.  You will know from the moment you put him down for his nap whether it will be a quick two hours, or a glorious three hours.  You will see the summer cold before he even has his first cough.  You know more about poop than you ever imagined possible.  And your super mom senses will tell you when he’s about to throw the plate of ravioli at the dog.
 
I chat with the still-new moms every morning, and listen to their worries and concerns about weaning from the bottle, or dropping the second nap.  I remember asking those same questions to my veteran mom friends; I remember my frustration when answers like, “You’ll figure it out” or “It will happen on its own” were the only responses.  Because as a new mom, I felt like somewhere in the great book of mom knowledge, there were answers and they just weren’t sharing.
 
But they were right.  We figured it out, and if we didn’t, things happened on their own.  We followed Miles’ lead.  And slowly, I just became a mom – no longer new.  It’s an incredible feeling, knowing your child so well (right now…)  Words cannot describe the bond we share, but a series of goofy faces and fart noises sure can.
 
I am happy and blessed and thankful each day to be just mom; no longer new.
Regular Mom,
K
New mom.

New mom.

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What parents of young children want you to know…

People without kids, I get it.  I used to be one of you.  I totally understand your uncomprehending stare as I excitedly explain why this new sippy cup is THE sippy cup to have.  I try to converse about things that we mutually understand, but here’s the deal: my life is no longer mine, which means that my brain is no longer mine.  It belongs to the almost-toddler across the hall, snoozing away.

And because I used to be you, there are things that I realize now as a parent that I didn’t almost a year ago (this could apply to some of you with older kids, since I understand the first five or so years of your kiddo’s life ends up as one big blur anyway…thank goodness for baby books, right?!)  There are lots of times that my husband and I will say to each other, “Man, if they had kids, they would totally understand…”

You should know…

  1. I’m not ignoring you.  Yes, I absolutely saw your call/text/email/Facebook message.  Once I get to a stopping point, after laundry, dinner, play time, walks around the block, bath time, and endless story books, I’ll think about responding.  Or watching “True Detective” and drinking wine.  Whatever comes first.
  2. I would love to meet you for lunch.  Does 11am work?  People without kids, do you nap?  Napping is awesome, right?  Once you have kids, the opportunity to nap becomes the most awesome two hours in the history of time and space.  The reality is that naptime often falls around lunchtime; so if you’d like to do lunch, we’ll have to make it brunch, because parents don’t screw around with naptime.  Similar situation for dinner; bedtime is 7:30p.  Meeting for dinner means eating at 5p.  Be flexible with your friends who have young children.
  3. Yes, I’m paying attention.  I understand that you are asking for something as simple as my turkey meatloaf recipe, but understand that if said conversation is occurring while my toddler is in the same room, you may as well be asking me to explain quantum physics.  I hear five out of every ten words you say, because most of my attention is focused on the whirling dervish looking for the floor food that I undoubtedly missed.
  4. I’m not trying to be rude.  If you invited us over, and we came, this means that your level of tidiness is acceptable.  However, this won’t stop me from scrutinizing your floors, rugs, baseboards, and anything else on the floor.  I’m sure you do a fantastic job mopping, but unless you have a  tiny person crawling/rolling/waddling around on the floor constantly, you just don’t know how clean (or unclean) your floors might be.  So I’m not trying to be rude if I stare at your kitchen rug, I just need to know if it’s carrying salmonella before my kid lays on it to pretend he’s napping.
  5. I’m not trying to be rude, part deux.  If you invited us over, we will respect your space and rules if you can compromise and respect ours.  Please do not leave your TV turned to programs/movies that are unacceptable (example: anything with Steven Segal).  My compromise will be not asking you to turn the TV completely off (which you should do, because nothing is more entertaining than my son, trust) but I do expect you to at least make it family friendly or, at the very least, non-offensive.
  6. I’m not trying to be rude, part…three?  We have pets (actually, we have a zoo).  We love pets.  We love your pets.  But if you invite us over, and know your pets do not interact well with children, please give us a kid-friendly space, put the pet somewhere safe, or understand when we politely decline future invitations to get together.  Toddlers love cats, but the feeling isn’t always mutual.
  7. Don’t feel weird if we have nothing to talk about for a while.  You do Cross Fit, martini Thursdays and Gossip Girl.  We have dance parties to Raffi, smash carrots into bits and teach the kid how to gently pet the cat (LOLOLOL).  If you pretend like you’re interested in organic pumpkin-banana yogurt for toddlers, I’ll pretend that I noticed your haircut.  Deal?
  8. We are selfish with our son’s time.  I know you want to hang out/babysit/kidnap my super awesome son; I get it, he’s really really fun.  But when you’re two parents working full-time, the evenings and weekends can become sacred.  Don’t get offended if we decline your offer; sometimes we just want to hang out as a family.
  9. I know what I look like.  Yes, I am fully aware that I’ve been wearing these yoga pants for three days.  As long as the kid looks great, I give not two rips about my own appearance.  This isn’t Fashion Week.
  10. You will hear about how awesome being a parent is A LOT.  Seriously, being a parent is the most awesomely rad and rewarding (yet challenging) blessing that you could ever, EVER imagine.  You may hear about it so much that you decide you’d rather poke yourself in the ear with a green onion than listen to me ramble for one moment longer.  Your life is also important, and full of wonderful, meaningful moments, and you should share them.  I promise not to try and top your story with a, “GUESS WHO GOT HIS SPOON INTO HIS MOUTH!” tale.
  11. One day, should you decide to have children, I will tell you things you don’t want to hear.  Then your child will arrive, and you will tell me I was right.  This is 110% true; many mom friends told me what life would be like, what would change, what would become more important and what would become less important.  And there were things I didn’t believe or agree with back then that I now find to be absolute truths in parenting.  I have eaten humble pie, and I have told them just how right they were.  But it’s a good kind of right.

I can’t emphasize number ten enough; it is the honest-to-goodness and absolute truth.  And, like my awesome mom friends, I will refrain from ever saying, “I TOLD YOU SO!”  I will nod and smile, knowing that now you are also a member of the greatest club in the entire world, and I will invite you over for Wine Wednesdays.  Because, in case you don’t already know, moms are actually pretty cool.

Cheers,

K

SERIOUSLY AWESOME.

SERIOUSLY AWESOME.

I have entirely too much spaghetti in my hair.

This week, after a hiatus that exceeded two months, one of my fave mom bloggers announced that she was uncertain of her blog’s future.  It gave me a case of the sads, because she’s a mom that I really connect with, and will miss dearly should she decide her writing days have reached an end (for now).  But I also have a deep level of understanding.  Kids get older, and you develop a desire to protect their privacy (teenagers just aren’t as cute and funny as toddlers, right?)  Your adult life begins to reemerge, and maybe you’d like to get out of the house more.  And, at the end of the day, the internet is a crazy, crazy place.

As a writer, you choose to put yourself out there…the good, the bad, the hysterical.  At first you think that just a few friends and family are reading; before you realize it, total strangers are criticizing your parenting abilities, if that’s what you have chosen to publish for the world to judge.

When I started this blog many, many moons ago, it definitely had a different tone.  It was, after all, about cooking.  Becoming parents completely turned our world upside down (in an awesome way) and I realized it also provided me with endless material.  Honesty is of utmost importance to me.  Our life is not a Pinterest board; if you’ve come here looking for 101 ways to crochet doilies for your toddler’s tea party, or 12 easy ways to prepare an organic, seasonally harvested, sustainably grown dinner from scratch while teaching your baby to play Mozart…sorry ’bout your luck.  And while you may find TMI, please know it’s for the humor factor, and not to shock or totally gross you out (although, if you’re a parent, I am positive there is nothing that can ever shock or totally gross you out anymore).

We all parent differently, but we are all on the same team.  I’m doing an awesome job; you’re doing an awesome job, and even Honey Boo Boo’s mom (in her own mind) is doing an awesome job.  There are just varying levels of awesome; some days are more awesome (awesomer?) than others.  Monday you may have an angel of a baby, and Tuesday you may have a fussopotamus (you may use that word, and you’re welcome).  By Thursday, he could be a fussosaurus (that one, too).  And Friday?  Sweet as honey.  It happens: teething, growth spurts, mental and physical development, stuff.  It’s a crap shoot 98% of the time, and the other 2%?  Teething.  But it’s still 100% awesome.

I want you to know enough to make you laugh, but not make you uncomfortable (unless I find humor in your lack of comfort).  Most importantly, I want you to know that I get it.  Life isn’t a Pinterest board, Facebook post or Instagram photo.  Oh, those moments are beautiful and magical, but let’s be real…there’s some shit that goes on in between.

Here are the things I’ve said in the past week that I want to share, because hey, kids!

  1. “I have entirely too much spaghetti in my hair.”
  2. “Miles, please do not eat the cactus.”
  3. “Honey, the kid is stuck behind the couch again.”
  4. “Miles, please do not eat the cat.”
  5. “Honey, the kid is stuck in the cabinet again.”
  6. “Who taught you to pick your nose?”
  7. “If you throw yourself off the changing table, you have to put on your own diaper.”
  8. “Is that poop?” (trick question because the answer is always YES)
  9. “You are not storing food for hibernation; please chew and swallow.” 
  10. “Show mommy how we sit like a big boy in the (insert anything he’s supposed to sit in, because he’s definitely in the act of climbing out while I say this)”
  11. “Did you know you’re allowed to sleep past 6:30am on Saturdays and Sundays?”
  12. “Where did your pants go?”

And things I did in the past week:

  1. Carried my son, all 25lbs of him, football style, through Target while pushing the cart with one hand because he not only figured out how to unbuckle his cart cover, but also climb out of the cart.  One woman told me I had a “cute little Houdini.”  I asked her if she could carry the cat litter for me, because either the Fresh Step or the kid was going to stay at Target if I had to haul this stuff out alone.
  2. Went head to head in two separate dinner battles.  Lost two separate dinner battles.  Bananas and cereal for all!
  3. Refrained from uncontrollable and hysterical laughter as Miles learned how to blow a raspberry with his mouth full of yogurt, successfully covering everyone at the table (and the dog) in banana-pumpkin deliciousness.  Okay, we laughed a little.  Now he does the yogurt-spit face a lot.  Parenting fail?  I don’t know, it’s pretty damn funny.
  4. Got poop on my hands and face.  MORE THAN ONCE.

Of course these are the tiny moments in a sea of “I love yous” and endless hugs, of first steps and real, actual and intentional first words (KITTY!)  And at the end of the day, these moments may frustrate some, but right now, they fill us with laughter (okay, and wine…sometimes these moments fill me with wine, but only after the kid goes to bed).  Sure, there are frustrating moments, and I am positive that as we creep ever so close to the toddler stage, you’ll get some of that from me, but deep down I (like all parents) know that it’s a passing phase, a fleeting moment, and while there are nights that I feel like Holyfield after 13 rounds when I finally sit on the couch, it’s still the greatest feeling in the history of all time and space, ever.  Ever.

Keeping it real,

K

YES TO ALL:

Are you ready to become a parent?

If you read that title and thought, “LOL!” then I can assure you that you’re well on your way to qualifying for parental status.  Aside from the necessary sense of humor, what else helps to make the leap from childless to child…full?

We’ve been asked before how we knew we were “ready” to start a family (and I’m using the term “ready” very loosely here, folks).  Well, to be honest, we thought about it and prayed about it, and we just decided to give it a go.  At first, I planned things and used a calendar and joined mom-to-be blogs and lost my damn mind.  Then, I gave it up and just said to heck with charting and graphing and doodling and diddling, and we went at it with reckless abandon (TMI? I don’t care)  Then, one day, God said: BOOM!  And so we knew we were ready…because if God trusted us to bring a child into this world, it meant we could do it!

Becoming a parent is an incredibly great responsibility, and not one without sacrifice.  Folks are going to tell you that you will have to give up a few things when you bring home the fruit of your loins.  If you’re ready to sacrifice the following, you might be ready to welcome a little bundle of (screaming) joy into the world:

Sleep.  Oh yeah, as soon as you tell the world you’re knocked up, you’re going to get the endless, “SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!” lines.  It’s going to be irritating, and you’re going to wish it would just stop, but you know what?  They are 147% correct.  Those first newborn weeks, man…they are something else.  They’ll make you question your parenting ability, your decision to have a child, and your sanity (and if you think you never did any of that as a parent, you’re a big fat liar).  But in a few weeks, if you’re lucky, your kiddo will hit that magical 10 hours of sleep window…then 11…then 12!  And you’ll think you’ve won the sleepytime jackpot.  Except when you close the nursery door at 7:30p, you’ll probably have laundry to fold, dishes to wash, or a blog to write.  You’ll finally sit down around 8:30p, just in time to catch some TV or read a book before you hit your 9:30p bedtime (because sleep is precious).  Which brings me to…

Entertainment.  No, you aren’t giving up all entertainment, because the greatest entertainment in the history of time and space is sleeping in the nursery across the hall.  I am talking about your TV, reading and computer time, though.  Before we had Miles, I could easily watch six episodes in a row of Toddlers & Tiaras.  Our DVR was so full, I thought it would explode from the overwhelming Honey Boo Boo of it all.  Now?  Well, we still watch TV, but I can promise you that we are way more selective than before Miles.  Not a single episode of Bad Girls Club or Gypsy Sisters has aired in this house since April 21, 2013.  Admittedly, it’s garbage television, but the real reason it doesn’t catch any air time here is because we’re too busy trying to squeeze in Jeopardy, Law & Order, Criminal Minds or New Girl with our precious 60 minutes of couch time.  And when the choice is between seeing Nellie get into another bar fight over her baby daddy, or watching North America on NatGeo, the choice is simple.  Quality over quantity.

Entertainment, part deux.  The same goes for reading material and length of time spent reading.  Before Miles, I would pick up every weekly issue of OK!, Us Weekly, In Touch and *gasp* The National Enquirer.  I could spend an entire Sunday afternoon reading about bad botox, affairs and scandalous behavior.  I don’t have room for the gossip rags any longer; now, if I have some spare reading time, I’m diving into another Stephen King novel, or reading something to enrich my life.  And no more six hours of laying on the couch on Saturdays to finish the entire novel, either.  A half hour before hitting the hay is about all I can spare.

Grooming.  You know those gals you see at Publix wearing yoga pants with bananas smeared on them, hair in a ponytail, no make-up, dazed and confused look on their faces?  The ones you swore you’d never become?  Well, guess what…you will.  No, not right away, but it will happen.  It creeps up on you like the Freshman Fifteen.  First, you wear the yoga pants to the post office.  Then to Dunkin’ Donuts.  The overwhelming comfort of their heavenly elasticity will take control of your mind, and block things like blue jeans from your view when you peer into your closet.  And shaving your legs?  If you’re a night showerer like me, you’ll spend five minutes contemplating whether or not you have the energy and time to spare (60 minutes people!  Wine or razors, you make the call) and if you’re a morning showerer, your head is probably too foggy for decisions involving sharp instruments.  As a mom, you will embrace the “natural” look, welcome your inner hippie, and know that not a single soul really notices because your kid will always look incredible and, bonus points, the kid is also an amazingly adorable attention hog.  Trust me, no one knows you’ve worn that t-shirt three days in a row because LOOK AT THE BABY!!!

Diet.  Here’s what I’m going to tell you about post-baby weight: you’ll lose it.  Without even realizing it happened, you’ll lose it.  Well, if you’re sensible while your pregnant, anyway.  Don’t worry about dieting after you have the kid; you will naturally shed the pounds through your ability to forget to eat when they’re very tiny, and, when they get older, from sharing everything on your plate.  You will try new foods like cereal puffs and purees, and realize that this is why you’ve lost 10 pounds.  Gone are the nights of eating half a pizza and drinking an entire bottle of wine (again, if you say “not me” then you’re a big fat liar).  But don’t think you’re necessarily bikini ready because…

Your body.  Of course you know you’ll sacrifice your body; if you’re the mom-to-be, you’re going to be hauling that watermelon around for a few months.  You may be blessed with stretch marks, cellulite, or (if you’re lucky like me) a few spider veins.  Here’s what you need to know about these battle scars: you won’t give a shit.  Maybe at first I was super self-conscious about the spider veins.  Okay, very self-conscious.  I would stare at them in harsh fluorescent lighting, stretching and squeezing my skin, trying to decide whether I should see a vein specialist.  And then, I’d see Miles.  I realized that these tiny little blue veins, something no one has ever noticed, were such an incredibly small sacrifice to have this tiny person sitting in front of me.  It’s not about me; it’s not about how I look.  All that matters is this sweet, big boy.  And, since he’s a big boy…

Your body, part deux.  Working out and exercise will fall to the wayside (sort of).  But, after a few months, you will realize that hauling your giant meatloaf son around, chasing him across the living room a dozen times an hour and having endless dance parties will give you an entirely new work out routine that those damn Crossfitters have yet to learn.  Sure, my stomach may resemble biscuit dough, but have you seen my triceps?  P90X couldn’t do that.

Sleep (again).  Did you think your sacrifice of sleep ended with the newborn days?  Spoiler alert: NOPE.  Because just as your sweet babe starts sleeping through the night, you’ll get hit with the first cold.  Then, your kiddo will grow to an age where he starts to make friends, and you’ll worry if he’s making the right friends, or if he’s being bullied, or if the other kids like him.  He’ll become a teenager and holy cow if you thought you had sleepless nights before, well just you wait…because here comes dating and driving.  Your kids will grow up and leave the nest, and you’ll still stay up worrying.  And one day, your kids will have their own kids, and guess what?  Yep, you’ll still spend waking hours praying, thinking, hoping and worrying some more.  Welcome to the mental illness known as “parenting.”  This brings me to our final sacrifice…

Sanity.  You think I’m kidding?  Ha.  Get ready to look at a tiny little person and feel an overwhelming and uncontrollable sense of ferocious love.  A love so strong and powerful, you realize you would bench press a Buick if that’s what they asked you to do.  You will cry tears of joy and fear, all at the same time, because this teeny tiny person is yours.  Yes, you will go absolutely positively cuckoo bananas with love for this person.  Then you’ll look at your spouse, your life partner, your soul mate, the one you’re journeying with through this adventure, and you will feel crazy love all over again at the thought of “we did this!”  If you thought Publix commercials made you cry, just wait…

Still with me?  Good.  Here’s what you should take with you, if nothing else from these 1,655+ (!!!) words: you are ready.  You will think you aren’t; you will be frightened, and you will question your judgement, but God knows that you are ready.  You will learn as you go, just like millions of parents before you.  You will make new parent friends, or reconnect with old parent friends, and you will have a support system unlike any other.  And, when doubt is overwhelming, you will peek in that nursery at 8:30p, look down at your sweet, sleeping, meatloaf of a baby, and feel the ferocious love.  And you will know  that you were born to do this job.

Get busy,

Kristin