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The Worries of a First Time Kindergarten Mom

My eldest is about to start kindergarten. She has all her supplies, and her new school clothes. We are going to get her hair trimmed and buy her new shoes. I’ve got her bus pick up and drop off times, we went to orientation, we are all set.

She asks me every day how many days left until she starts school. She cannot wait to ride the bus, eat in the cafeteria, and explore her new playground. She is so excited. I am so excited for her.

I am also scared.

I’ve done my best to encourage her to love herself. I’ve tried so hard to teach her that, while not everyone is kind, we can choose to be kind to everyone.

I’ve tried to help her see how it doesn’t matter what others think of us, as long as we are happy with the way we act and the way we treat people, as long as we love the clothes we are wearing or the backpack we have, it’s okay if someone else doesn’t like it. That their opinion doesn’t take away from who we are and what we like.

I’ve tried to instill confidence in her. To give her a shield (or ten) against the onslaught of negativity I know the world is waiting to throw at her. I’ve tried to take negative experiences for her and turn them into teaching moments.

I’ve tried to help her learn that friends are nice to each other, that you don’t have to play with someone who is choosing to be unkind to you. That it’s okay to say “You are not being nice, and I don’t want to play anymore.”

I’ve tried so hard to make sure that she only keeps the best parts of me and the best parts of her daddy, and left all our insecurities and faults behind.

I’ve done everything I can.

But when she gets on that bus in a little over a week, will she remember?

Will someone make fun on her on her first day? Will they make my baby cry? Have I taught her enough, along with her dad and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and preschool teachers, to let it roll off her back and keep on shining?

When she chooses kindness, will the other kids in her class reciprocate?

What about the older kids? Will they be nice to her? This is the first time she will be at a school with kids who are older than her. And ten year olds must seem pretty huge when you’re five.

Have I done enough? Have I given her enough? Have I loved her enough?

I watched her at orientation last week – she had almost every child in that classroom gathered around her to play a game she had gotten started with two children while the grownups wandered around the classroom, trying not to cry. (Okay, maybe just me, but still.)

I think she may have two best friends already, and school hasn’t even started.

She’s informed me she wants to ride the bus the first day, that she doesn’t need me to walk her to class.

She says she doesn’t need me.

She says, “Mommy, it will be fine!”

She is creative and beautiful and intelligent. And she KNOWS it. She KNOWS.

She is a confident little social butterfly who loves everyone she meets and thinks she is beautiful and thinks she is funny and thinks she is nice and smart and good at art and is learning to read and SO proud of herself.

So I have to trust her. I have to believe that my baby is as ready as she can be. That what we have been able to teach her for the last five years is enough. That she will take the strength of our love with her, and thrive.

And, let’s face it.

She has always been strong. Certainly stronger than me.

Run, baby, run.

You’re going to be fine.

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Mommy as a Human

Battle with PPD: Won

After I had Miss C in June 2015, I was hit by paralyzing postpartum depression. I was angry all the time, mentally and physically exhausted, and honestly didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I wanted to run away from everything and everyone and not be in charge of a superglue baby who needed me every second and a toddler girl who was feeling a bit displaced by her baby sister.

One night, I had been trying to get Miss C to bed for literally hours. She would not stop screaming and crying. She was about 7 or 8 months old, and I just hit a breaking point.

I walked out of my bedroom and handed the baby to my husband. I was sobbing. I choked out “I don’t want to be a mom anymore.”

I grabbed my keys, purse, and phone, ignored my husband’s bewildered questions, and I got in my car. I turned on some music and put the volume all the way up and hit the freeway headed south. I sobbed as I drove, feeling like a horrible mother, a horrible human being, and an awful wife.

I just drove and cried and sang along incomprehensibly to my music through my sobs.

I pulled off the freeway when I saw signs for the airport. I didn’t have any money, so I couldn’t really “escape my life” by getting on a plane, but the airport is a good hour away from my house and I figured I needed to stop and regroup.

I parked in the cell phone lot and texted my best friend, who lives all the way across the country. I broke down. I confessed I had been super depressed and that I didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I told her that I resented my baby because I couldn’t get any sleep and I couldn’t give my toddler the attention she needed. I told her that if I had money I would be getting on a flight to South Carolina. I told her everything. I told her I didn’t care if I died, and some days, I wanted to.

She didn’t judge me. She listened. She talked about what we would have done if I’d actually gotten on a plane and the Target run we would have had to make to buy me a toothbrush and some clothes.

As we talked, I watched planes take off and land and taxi around and people parking and then leaving as whoever they were there to pick up arrived.

She gently joked with me until she made me smile, and then she made me promise I would make an appointment with my doctor to get some help. She helped me realize that PPD was making me feel that way, and that I needed help and that I really did love my kids and things would get better for me.

She was right. I needed help, and I got it.

I was put on an antidepressant. I met with my doctor every few weeks to make sure I was doing okay. And when I unexpectedly ended up pregnant just a couple weeks after starting my antidepressant, my doctor and midwife both spoke to me about the risk of me going off my medication versus the benefit and let me make a decision and supported my decision.

I truly believe that my friend and my doctor saved my life. I do not believe I would have survived without my friend pushing me to get help, and without the help my doctor gave me. Postpartum depression is very real and can be deadly if it goes untreated.

Over the last few weeks, with help and guidance from the same doctor, I have successfully weaned off of my antidepressant. I may end up needing something for anxiety, I’m not sure. But right now, I’m doing okay.

I asked my doctor if we could try weaning me off the meds because I have gained a ridiculous amount of weight while on them – a side effect of the meds I was on was an increase in appetite, and I literally felt hungry all the time.

Now, I feel hungry until I eat and then I don’t feel hungry anymore! It’s weird after three years of literally feeling hungry all day long.

So far, me being off the meds has been going well, but I’m checking in with my doctor often to make sure all is well. I’ve actually had a bit more energy since I’m off the meds – they made me feel a bit sleepy a lot of the time. I laugh more, too, so I wonder if the antidepressants had made me feel a bit robotic or if that’s just my imagination.

Either way, I’m glad to be feeling more like myself without the assistance of medication. We will see how long this lasts.

Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out for help if you are feeling sad, depressed, or anxious. It could save your life.

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Bedtime Battles

If you had asked me before I became a mom what the most frustrating part of parenting was, I probably wouldn’t have had a good guess. Something general like, “back talk” or “not listening.”

I would have been wrong, in any case. Because in the last 5+ years, the Most Frustrating Thing Award has gone to bedtime. Every. Single. Time.

When B was 10 months old and started fighting sleep. When she was 14 months old and thought bedtime was playtime. When she was 2 and decided that she didn’t really need to stay in bed (or even her bedroom) just because we said so.

When C was born…right up until now, at three. She has always fought sleep like it was her arch nemesis.

And E…she goes back and forth between being easy and being a nightmare to get to sleep. Currently, she is sleeping in her toddler bed. It’s taken a couple of weeks to make that transition, but, fingers crossed and knock on wood, I think we’ve got it down.

B and C share a room. We don’t have a choice, and when E is old enough to hold her own with her big sisters, she’ll go in that room as well. Trying to get a 5 and a half-year old and a 3 year old to LEAVE EACH OTHER ALONE, SETTLE DOWN, and JUST GO TO SLEEP is a freakin’ nightmare, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying.

If one wants the little lamp on, the other one screams they want it off. This role can change from day-to-day. If one wants the fan on high, the other wants it on low. If one wants the closet door shut, the other one insists on opening it. They want to share a bed tonight (for five minutes, until they change their mind), NO they DO NOT WANT THEIR SISTER IN THEIR BED EVER!

Entire toy bins get dumped on the floor. I go back and forth between their room and the couch so often, I should be tracking my steps. If the oldest gets up to go to the bathroom, the freshly potty trained 3 year old insists she has to go to. This wouldn’t be a problem if the oldest didn’t try to convince us she needs to go to the bathroom every ten to fifteen minutes all night long.

I tried putting a baby gate in their doorway to discourage so many trips to the bathroom. I figured, if they had to have us come let them out, maybe that would show them that it’s not a game.

Oy.

Biggest mistake ever.

Granted, it’s only been two nights, but now, they open the door and “whisper shout” across the apartment at us (because they know if they wake up their sister in the room next to theirs, they’re busted). “MOMMY. BATHROOM.” “MOMMY. COOKIE.” “MOMMY. WATER.”

I swear, it’s like a revolving door at Grand Central Station here.

Husband and I sat down today and figured out a solid bedtime routine that will go into effect tomorrow. We decided that we will stick to it like glue for the next three weeks and see if bedtime improves. I REALLY hope it does, because by the time they finally fall asleep (lately sometime after 11PM and hopefully before 1AM), I feel as if I’ve run a marathon and my hair is always sticking up like I’ve stuck my finger in a socket.

They know how to push all my buttons. Rawr.

So, new routine –

Dinner around 5:30.

Cleanup after dinner and put toys away.

Baths around 7:00.

Brush teeth.

Story.

Song.

In bed with lights out by 8:00.

 

Hopefully, that’ll work. Because I’m exhausted.

 

 

Mommy as a Human

I’m Doing Everything Wrong

Sometimes, I worry that I am screwing up my kids. That I’m doing everything wrong, and some day they will get a therapist and their therapist will tell them that their issues stem from me being a bad mother.

Some of that is standard mom worry, I think. But some of it…? I don’t know. I am not a great mom.

I’ve gotten bad about yelling. I ask something of them calmly two or three times, and then I get frustrated because they aren’t listening, and instead of really getting their attention and helping them focus, I explode.

I immediately feel awful, and I apologize for losing my temper. But I hate that. I hate the example I am giving them when instead of being patient with them, I yell.

I know timeouts don’t work with my kids, but I’ve been falling back into the habit of using them out of desperation. When I’m holding onto control with the bare edges of my fingertips, putting them on timeout and giving myself time to calm down seems easiest in the moment.

But really, banishing them to their room every time I get angry doesn’t accomplish anything except to make them feel frustrated and turn getting them into their room a whole other battle.

Especially Miss B. She and I are so much alike. All she wants is to feel like I hear her. And I know that. So why is it so hard when my temper is flaring to acknowledge what she is saying and reassure her that I hear her? That I’m not ignoring what she is saying, but I need her to hear me?

And Miss C is almost three and going through her “why” phase. I’m trying so hard to give her real answers, but eventually I just say “because” or “that’s just the way it is.” I don’t want to discourage her from asking questions, but I mean…how much detail can one possibly go into about why we have to go pick up her daddy from work or why her sister goes to school? I give a LOT of answers before resorting to “because.” Good grief. She’s inexhaustible.

Miss E, my one year old, has started scratching my face in addition to hitting me and biting me. I know it’s a stage that will hopefully pass quickly, but it’s making me so angry this time around and I know my reactions are exacerbating the problem. Ugh!

I think I have Burnt Out Mommy Syndrome. I’ve been trying to schedule some things for me lately, to get out and spend time with friends and do things for myself. I got my hair cut and styled a couple weeks ago and I love it. I also bought myself makeup with the help of two of my friends and started wearing it nearly every day…I’ve never done my own makeup before, and I’m about to turn 30!

So…weekly goals for this week:

1) Take at least fifteen minutes to myself every day.

2) Do not yell at the kids.

3) Use consequences that work instead of timeouts that don’t.

4) Unpack one box a day from our move.

I’ll check in and let you know how that actually works out.

In the meantime, I’m going to eat this butterscotch pudding and watch a Disney movie. 💕

Mommy as a Human

Life is Nuts

This blog has been on my mind lately. I’m not sure why, since I can’t seem to commit to writing on any sort of schedule. Maybe it’s because being a mom has been such a struggle lately.

Not because of my kids. Kids are crazy, that’s part of life. Just because I’ve got a lot going on in my brain.

I’m trying to help my five year old navigate the big emotions that come with having friends in a Pre-Kindergarten class. She is very competitive, and that’s causing her some stress with her (also competitive) friends. I’m also trying to prepare her for kindergarten in September, and keep my patience through her “that’s not fair” stage.

I’m trying to help my two year old prepare for starting preschool in the fall, and I’m trying to get the whole potty training thing going for her.

My almost 17 month old is going through a hitting/scratching/biting phase.

I’ve got a mountain of laundry. We moved in February and still aren’t unpacked. My husband injured his foot/ankle during said move and has an MRI scheduled soon to try to figure out what the heck is going on with it. He is in a walking boot and using a cane. They’ve done X-rays and it’s not broken, but a regular sprain should have healed by now. He isn’t very mobile so the household chores he would normally be helping with have fallen to me.

The girls are getting used to their uncle living with us, and he’s getting used to living with them, so adjustments on all sides.

I went back to work in October and then ended up leaving in February, for a variety of reasons. So we weren’t really adjusted to me being back and then I was home again and the kids are readjusting to that. My five year old keeps asking me in a worried voice if I “have to leave her again” to “go to work and not be home for her bedtime.”

I’ve started looking at going back to school. We are paying off debt and trying to get financially stable. I’ve started joining some committees and getting more involved with the preschool – and next year there will be two schools to be involved with, in two separate districts, since the preschool is in one and kindergarten is in another. I’m sure that will present a whole new list of challenges.

It’s just life. It’s nothing special. But when I think about it I start to feel overwhelmed and my patience grows thin and then parenting gets harder.

I’m hoping once we finally get everything unpacked and I make it through the mountain of laundry and figure out whether I’ll actually be able to go back to school and we know what’s wrong with my husband’s leg…maybe I can breathe for a minute.

I have two play dates scheduled for the kids this week, and I’m thinking about braving the Children’s Museum and the library to get the kids out of the house and doing something different.

I’ve also been thinking about doing some more work on my blog and maybe sharing recipes or fun stuff I’ve done with the kids. We shall see.

Until next time…hopefully sooner than ten months from now…

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A General Sort of Post

It has been almost a year since I posted a blog. Life has gotten just a little (okay, a lot) crazy since our newest little was born (on Thanksgiving!!) and I’ve let the blogging go to the back burner.

But we are l still here. So here’s a bit of an update.

Ella was born just after 11PM on November 24, 2016. She was just as beautiful and perfect as her sisters, and she fit right into our little family. She is now almost 7 months old, and is our laid back, bubbly, happy, smiley little baby. She goes with the flow and flirts with everyone in sight, and her big grins and giggles make everyone around her smile, whether they want to or not, haha.

I was very happy that, this time around, my PPD was not nearly so extreme as it was for Chelsea. The depression itself was quite mild. This time it was more postpartum anxiety that got me. A lot of panic attacks and fear of inadequacy as a parent going on to start with. But I had feared the PPD so much that I was in constant contact with my doctor and midwives, and was able to get the help that I needed with my PPA sooner rather than later. 💗 Remember: there’s no shame in asking for or accepting help!! Always reach out to a care provider if you feel like something is wrong. No one who matters will judge you for getting the help you need to be a good mom/happy human. ❤️

Chelsea turned 2 at the beginning of June, and she is my adventurous little daredevil. She has no fear, which scares the you-know-what out of me. But her bright blue eyes, mischeviois little grin, and delighted little laugh tug at my heartstrings. She is shy, and doesn’t talk much unless we are at home. But she is determined to keep up with her big sister, and loves to play and crawl into my lap for snuggles.

Briana is four and a half now. 😭 She started preschool in January, and she’s a sassy little thing. We’ve been butting heads a lot because she acts just like me. (I KNOW that’s why it gets under my skin, lol!) Bri loves school and is quite upset that we are done for the summer. She loves to learn, and is looking forward to Pre-K in the fall with her same teachers again. She wants to know the “why” and “how” of everything. She’s my budding little scientist. I’m doing my best to encourage her love of learning, and try to answer all her questions (with the help of Google at times).

Husband has a new job (yay) and is doing quite well. 

I’m still doing the editing stuff from home, which is a blast, and also selling Jamberry, which is fun.

I’m perpetually sleep deprived, and I feel like pulling my hair out most days. I’m more snappish than I want to be, and yell more than I care to admit. But at the end of the day when I get to kiss three precious girls and tell them I love them and that I hope they sleep well…it makes me realize it’s all worth it. And I do my best to not beat myself up too much about the moments when I fail to be as patient and kind as I aim to be.

I never really got the meaning of that saying, “The days are long but the years are short.” At least until I became a mom.

I’m hoping to start blogging again. I may be going back to edit all my blogs to just use the girls’ first initial. Just for privacy reasons. I’m feeling particularly paranoid lately, I guess.

At any rate…if you’re reading this, thanks for sticking around. ❤️

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One Step At A Time

I came into the bedroom to give Chelsea her bottle of milk. She still wakes up most nights around 1:00 to have a drink. She drank her milk and handed me her bottle, and then crawled into my lap (I had put her on my bed and sat next to her, that’s what she prefers at night).  She put her head on my shoulder, wrapped her arm around me, grabbed my shirt, and went immediately back to sleep. I’m still sitting here, ten minutes later enjoying the weight of her here on my shoulder. Smelling her sweet baby smell. Kissing her sweet little face.

I realized today that she doesn’t want to snuggle unless she’s sleepy anymore. I realized that although she wants constant reassurance that I’m still here, she’s more interested in chasing Briana around these days than cuddling with mama for very long.

She’s growing and changing so quickly. And I thought I was ready this time, that I knew how fast it would go. I was wrong. It goes so much more quickly when you have two to chase after and divide your attention between. And when you’re pregnant as well, everything goes on fast forward.

I realized that in 14 short weeks, she won’t be my youngest anymore. That I will have three babies to look after and love and chase and teach and giggle with and marvel over. That I will no longer have enough hands to keep hold of everyone when I am by myself. That someone will always be left feeling as if they are being cheated of my attention.

But earlier, Chelsea fell, and I was all the way across the apartment, and she cried out that heartbreaking “I really hurt myself” cry, and before I could get to her, Briana was there.

“It’s okay Chelsea, I’ve got you. Sissy is here. Did you get an ouchie? Do you need a Bandaid? Let me help you up.”

Chelsea stopped crying and let Bri help her up. Bri kissed her forehead and held her hand and said “Let’s be careful so you don’t fall, okay?”

And my eyes welled up a little bit as Chelsea giggled and started walking along with Briana, not even looking around to see where I had gone.

And just like that, another stage passes. Just like that, they’re a second, minute, hour older. Every time you blink. Every time you glance away. Every time you sleep, wake up, and start another long and exhausting day.

Just like that they’re one step further away from you, one step closer to independence. They’re learning to lean on each other. They’re forming a friendship, and it’s the kind only siblings can have. It’s amazing and beautiful.

And it means they need me just a little less. And that’s beautiful, too. And also a little heartbreaking. And a little scary.

Some days the thought of having another baby is completely overwhelming. I feel as if I can barely handle two. My PPD is under much better control now, but there are still days that I feel like I’m drowning.

But then, on days like today, when Bri steps in and helps her sister, even with something small. When I hear her tell Chelsea not to do something so she won’t get hurt. When she sees me getting frustrated because the kids aren’t cooperating and says “I’m sorry mama. I’m ready to listen.”

On days like today, I know I will figure it out. That David will be there to help me. That David’s parents and my family and our friends will always be willing to reach out and jump in with extra hands when I need them.

On days like today, I know I will be okay. On days like today, I hold onto the fact that all my babies are still little, and still need me, but that their growing independence will be what helps us transition from a family of four to a family of five.

One step at a time. For them, and for me. For all of us.