At 20 or 40, tired is tired.

This is the week when the peak season at work, my personal fitness goals and my baby’s teething rituals all coincide to produce the desperate fatigue that should come with a warning label. I would wear the label on my shirt front and center, allowing me to stumble across campus mumbling to myself and wiping obsessively at a stain on my sleeve without making excuses for myself.

“I’m old. I don’t have the same energy as a 20-year-old.” I commiserated with a fellow 40-year-old who is the mother of a toddler. It would be so easy to slide down that pity path, ignoring the reality that it’s all relative. Many of us, but especially women, seem to view aging as a limiting factor.

I spend enough time fretting my way through mom forums to know that 20-year-old moms of young children are just as tired as I am. Stay at home moms, working moms, moms who travel abroad, moms of one child, moms with 5 children. All of us are tired.

We obsess over the development of our children, research their ailments (real or perceived), face night-time feedings, drive them to school and sports, wipe noses, kiss boo-boos, break up fights, calm tantrums, read books, play games, sing songs, dance, chase, pick up, hold, and repeatedly return them to beds.

Then there is the constant cleaning up from potty accidents, bed wetting, food slinging, booger wiping, muddy boot stomping, and toy box explosions.

All of these tasks are small and easy when considered on their own, but combined with a sleep deficit and the nagging feeling that despite all of these heroic efforts we are not living up to our own expectations, these things can weigh us down more than larger tasks-like filing taxes or climbing a mountain.

Which brings me full-circle to this week.

I plan to climb a mountain this summer. I’m going to “bag a fourteener” to be exact. For everyone outside of Colorado, a fourteener is a peak that is over 14,000 feet. There are a lot of them here.

It’s week three in my training for this adventure and I have that nagging voice telling me that I have no business trying to do this. I am 40, after all. I have been defeated by laundry. My body is not what it used to be. There is no way I can make it.

I am not sure if that voice is really mine, or the imagined voices of everyone around me. Either way, it is really getting me down. It threatens to keep me down. My fatigue makes me feel like my body would never allow me to do something like this, so why even try?

I try because these past few weeks, my loving and supportive husband has nearly pushed me out the door to train because he knows the benefits of exercise. He willingly looks after the kids, and I feel a real high from the exercise.

For about an hour.

Then I hit a wall of whining 4-year old, or wrestle a baby through a 30-minute breathing treatment, and I am back to energy level zero.

I am not sure if I will bag a fourteener this summer, but if I don’t, I will blame the kids, not my age. Because at 20 or 40, tired is tired.

 

 

How Kids Yoga Stories is Helping My Son Manage Big Emotions

Two years ago, I was introduced to the wonderful line of Kids Yoga Stories, by Giselle Shardlow, when I won a giveaway hosted by Pragmatic Mom. At the time, kiddo #1 and I were working on movement.

BogpMESIYAEBKpR

He was only two and a half when we won the book, so his attention span was short and he was soon on to the next new book, and from there, the book was lost among the piles in his bedroom. Then we moved cross-country.

Several weeks ago, we rediscovered this book, and I had that Eureka! moment. The winter months in Colorado can require creative energy outlets, and this was just the kind of outlet he needed that day. I asked him if he wanted to go through the book, and he begrudgingly answered, “yes” in that 4-year-old way that suggests he would rather be swinging from the rafters.

I told him we would go through the book before story time that evening. As we moved through the poses, we laughed at how we looked like animals, wonderful mother/son moments that have become more special now that kiddo #2 is around.

We ended with us lying down with our eyes closed, breathing deeply and slowly. He sat up afterwards with the refreshed sigh that I recognized from my yoga classes of yesteryear.

The next night, he was begging to do yoga again. We talked about how it calms us down after a long day and gets us ready for bed. He was hooked.

A few days ago, my little guy who is full of big emotions, asked me mid-meltdown if we could do yoga to calm down. My heart made a little leap and I ran to fetch the book. Lo and behold, my son was on to something. He had learned a way to manage his feelings that didn’t involve screaming and punching things.

I have so much to learn from him. I had not considered the benefits of doing yoga with him in the moment, in the thick of it. I now keep the book downstairs, where many of his big emotions happen during his transition time home from preschool. It’s hard to be four.

Taking a page from his book, I signed up for lunchtime yoga at my workplace, and rediscovered my own refreshed sigh again.

 

Drive Time Quote #3

The drive to preschool is never dull. The conversation to follow occurred on such a drive, and has led to many discussions about death and heaven since.

4-year-old: Mommies are dead.

Me: Mommies are dead? Which mommies?

4-year-old: All mommies.

Me: Um…not me.

4-year-old: But the others are. Mommies die, then they are wrapped in blankets and sent to museums.

(…..)

Me: OH-MUMMIES! Mummies die, sweetie. The word is muh-mee.

 

My Google History: A Mother’s Quest for Truth

The best part of middle-of-the-night wakings is that I have that extra time in my day to do research. I am willing to post my google search history from the last week if you will share your own search history favorites with me in the comments section.

102.5 fever 8 month old

102.9 fever 8 month old

Immune disorders in infants

Baby sticking tongue out

Reactive airways disease

RSV recurrance

Bounce house locations

Can doctor know if wheezing is viral or bacterial by listening?

Flying geckos

Sand lizard lifting feet

Baby upper lip blister

Umberto Eco death

Transformer Optimus Prime

First baby sign language

Preschooler wetting bed are boys harder to potty train at night?

When should teeth come in?

Why is my baby not talking?

When will my baby sleep through the night?

Is my baby sick or teething?

Are moms over 40 all tired?

Energy levels new moms over 40

Goats laughing

(it goes downhill from there)

 

 

 

 

Let’s Give Thanks to Todd.

I am quite certain that my son is not hard of hearing. He has been able to annunciate words like platypus and ominous since before he was 2. That is why I was surprised that when it comes to all things holy, he stumbles.

The first time he asked me about my parents and their whereabouts, we were in the car where we have many deep philosophical conversations of 15 minutes or less on the way to day care. It went something like this:

Son: Mimi is Daddy’s mommy. Mommy, who is your mommy?

Me: Her name was Ramona.

Son: Who is your daddy?

Me: His name was Charles.

Note the subtlety of verb tense is lost on a 3 year old.

Son: Where do they live?

Me: They live in Heaven.

Son: Is that in Kentucky?

Me: According to some…(I laugh to myself) No, heaven is a place we can’t see yet, but everyone hopes to go there one day.

A long thoughtful pause

Son: Do they love me?

Me: Of course.

Son: Mommy, why are you crying?

Me: (sniffling only)

Son: Mommy, why do they live in Kevin?

Me: Hea-ven, honey. Heaven.

And just like that, Kevin entered the vernacular of our family the way other words like piss-sketty enter the vernacular of many other families. It wasn’t until a recent visit from one of his aunts that our vernacular broadened to include another misnomer. Let’s just say she put the fear of “Todd” in him when he was misbehaving on a road trip.

This will provide giggles for us for the rest of our lives. This will be brought up at every Thanksgiving dinner from now until we are in Kevin. See? I just can’t help myself.

 

 

You Won’t Find This in Potty Training Guides

I’m all for parenting books and their advice. I don’t agree with all of them, but I respect the need for so many people to seek advice. The sheer number of those available should meet the needs of most people, especially those like myself without parents to turn to in times of crisis or chaos. I get it.

What I need most are blogs. All the mom blogs in all the world offer a level of reality and comfort that no published guide can offer. You tell your stories without filters, you don’t worry about what an agent says, and you deliver the message in a way that exudes strength, determination, and a can-do spirit despite wanting to run screaming from your homes. It’s why I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Maybe someone will connect with my stories and find solace in their moments of despair.

Like the one I had last night.

My husband was out-of-town for business, and I was leisurely talking to my friend on the phone as both kids were fast asleep in their beds. She was sharing the contents of her day with me that included a lice infestation on her youngest daughter’s head. It turns out helmet shopping is a dangerous undertaking. As all moms who have gone through the lice crisis before, she was exhausted, embarrassed, and subconsciously scratching.

I had to interrupt her horror when my eldest opened my door with a suspicious smile on his face and said, “Mommy, I just wanted to tell you I love you. And I have poop on my hand.” The referenced hand moved from my doorknob to the edge of my baby’s bassinet.

From there, things moved fast. I told my friend I had to go. I followed him to the bathroom to make sure proper hand washing was observed and to grab the disinfectant.

The bathroom looked like a crime scene. I took in the towels crumpled on the floor near a puddle of what I hoped was water. I noted the light brown streaks on the counter, the edge of the bathtub, and on the toilet itself.

As he was washing his hands, I realized I should check to make sure he wiped. He had not. I put my hand on the toilet paper to grab a length of it, and my hand found the hidden part in the back where he had wiped his bottom with his hand and then wiped his hand off directly on the roll because it was a new one and he couldn’t get it started. Note to self: put on rubber gloves before this type of investigation.

I lurched back in disgust and surprise, only to step (with bare feet) into poop previously camouflaged on the brown bathroom mat. It took this mom only a half beat to assess that particular piece of evidence. He always sits on the floor to put on his undies.

My friend on the phone (the one with the lice infestation) once warned a more naïve version of myself, “Kids are gross.” I was giddy with my first pregnancy and needed a dose of reality. That is why we moms stick together. We have all earned the badge of courage for facing our worst nightmares. What is your latest war story?

 

8 Truths About a Second Pregnancy

1. You have amnesia

Unless you just had a baby and you became pregnant a week later, you have amnesia. The memory of your discomfort during your first pregnancy has been replaced by millions of new memories as the baby grew into a complicated human that falls apart when a graham cracker doesn’t break on the dotted lines and inserts the word “poopie head” into all of his favorite songs.

I can’t remember anything before my son was a year old. I was genuinely surprised this week when I turned heads in Barnes & Noble. No, not because I was rocking my flattering ruched shirt seams, but because I spontaneously farted in line with the gusto of a 14-year-old boy in a competition. I won.

2. Your partner does not have amnesia

After surviving 9 months of complaining and decreased sex followed by another few months of no sex after the birth of #1, your partner is wary going into this well-charted territory. He or she will put on a brave face, but don’t expect the same level of care and attention. My husband is concerned about me and our baby of course, but the farts aren’t as cute, the wrestling of pillows throughout the night is annoying, and he quietly accepts it when sex becomes more awkward and less frequent.

The bright side? It is comforting when his memory fills in the gaps and reminds me that Braxton-Hicks contractions and leg cramps are normal. Your partner now knows how to care for babies, and you need someone with a fully functional brain during the first weeks at home. You have your expert at your side.

3. Nobody gives a hoot

Unlike the endless attention of a first pregnancy, anyone who has met the aforementioned poopiehead is only curious about the sex of the new baby, and when will it arrive. They assume you have everything you need, especially if the baby is the same sex as the first. They have seen your bump before, and acknowledge it with the same enthusiasm I reserve for greeting my dental hygienist.

Strangers are the exception to this truth. They will fawn over you…right up until the point when they ask the dreaded question, “is this your first?” “No,” you say, “This is my second.” Their eyes will glaze over, and they will begin scanning your groceries more efficiently, regretful for the wasted attention given to your repeat performance. Just be grateful nobody wants to touch a previously used abdomen.

4. Delivery is still daunting

The mantra of my saint-like OB/GYN is worthy of note: every pregnancy is different. My water broke 3.5 weeks early the first time, and I was not contracting or dilated. I had wanted a natural birth, and ended up with Pitocin followed by an epidural after 11 hours of artificially induced labor. I don’t know what it is like to labor at home for hours before deciding that perfect moment to head to the hospital. I could end up having a cesarean this time. They may have to pull it out of my belly button as my son predicts. Amnesia mixed with ambiguity is unnerving, but again, nobody gives a hoot because you are a baby-having expert after one go of it. So get used to fretting alone. Or hire a doula.

5. You will vow to do things better this time

As I contemplate the coming group of firsts of my second child, I know for us this will be our last shot to get it right. I vow to properly document, organize and celebrate every milestone as well as the everyday things like his sweet voice speaking his first sentences. I will back up those pictures and videos (don’t ask). I will shush the inner worrier and enjoy those first weeks, savoring the feeling of his tiny sleeping body on my chest after nursing.

6. You are going to leak

My OB/GYN suggests diplomatically that our bodies are often “compromised” after a first pregnancy. Skip this one if you are one of the dedicated few who really kept up the Kegels after #1. Otherwise, march yourself into a drug store and buy a pack of Poise. If you haven’t yet, you will. There will come a day when you either tire of washing the extra laundry after sneezing/laughing, or you will pee yourself while in the grocery store like I did.

7. You are breaking a heart

Yours or theirs, it doesn’t matter. From the moment you discover your first child will become a sibling, you will obsess over this for the next 9 months. First, you wonder when to tell him or her about the impending intruder. Then you worry about how to help this transition occur with minimal psychological scarring. You can’t imagine loving another child as much as the one you have, and you wonder how you will split your time, affection and energy between two complicated little humans with different needs. You know that no amount of advice from books, forums, or friends will prepare you or the child for this change in the household. It’s the other ambiguous situation lurking just behind the birth event.

My own three-year old reacted to the news with excitement until his processing center registered that he would have to share his toys with his baby brother. This furrowed his brow. Several days later, while snuggling before story time, he looks up at me with big eyes and tells me, “I don’t want to share you with my baby brother.” He followed it up with a possessive hug, and I felt our hearts splitting apart in unison as we silently contemplated the future.

8. It will all be okay

The most important truth is that by now you have had enough parenting under your belt to know there is no manual, that no two pregnancies or children will be the same, and that you have the strength of heart and character to do this. Laugh at your farts, revel in knowing what you really need in the hospital bag, and take comfort that your heart will know exactly what to do when your family grows yet again.

I’m Pregnant and Grieving. Again.

During my last pregnancy 3 years ago, I kept Kleenex stuffed up all my sleeves like my grandmother used to do because I was always on the brink of tears. I once sang Christmas carols during my entire hour-long commute because everything on the radio made me cry too much to see the road.

You see, my mother had passed away in 1988, my father in 2008; I lost two uncles, in 2002 and 2008; in the past year, I lost my two remaining grandparents. Losses have a way of compounding, and when pregnancy hormones are in the equation the pain can be exponential. Powerful enough to make Guns ‘N Roses songs tear-jerkers.

I have walked around today in 2015 with my face unnaturally bunched, trying not to cry when I am in public. Now there are no grandparents or parents to call upon for help in the hierarchy of my family tree, and my own little family just moved over a thousand miles to a new city during my first trimester. This pregnancy, the grief promptly set up shop on the left side of our bed where I spend increasing amounts of time

When I look inward to self-diagnose the endless tears, I am reminded of a question posed by an insensitive former friend 6 months after losing my father, “Why are you still grieving?”

Here’s what I’d love to tell him:

Because when I found out the news of my pregnancy, my hand lingered over the phone after I called my siblings. Who do I tell now? There are no phones anymore on the other end of my instincts.

Because when other people have parents fawning all over them during their pregnancy, taking them out for pedicures and buying “My Grandma Rocks” and “Grandpa’s Little Slugger” onesies for the baby, I drive solo to Babies R’ Us to buy what I know we need: tiny fingernail clippers and those awful nose bulb snot remover thingies.

Because watching so many loved ones face death and miss out on the lives of their children makes me terrified it will happen to me. I worry that my beautiful 3-year-old and the one I haven’t met yet will have to grow up knowing too early what real grief is, and I that will miss out on the multitude of milestones that will lead them into and through adulthood. I worry that my husband will be left to try to do it on his own like my Dad had to.

Because my kids will never know these beautiful souls and will only be able to dutifully point to their photos and recite their names and associations.

Because when your loved ones were not lost recently, nobody anticipates your struggle, so nobody asks. It can be lonely.

 

[This is where my chin raises defiantly]

 

So how do I know it will fade (again)?

Because I know to ask for help. I have incredible siblings, friends, and in-laws who answer my calls when I need them.

Because my husband will sit and keep the tissues flowing for as long as I need him to do so.

Because when I held my first son for the first time, that little life became the most important thing to me, overshadowing my losses. I can only hope that in 9 more weeks, the immediate love of welcoming a second child into the world will again replace the pain I feel right now.

Mostly, because every once in a while, my son gets my grandfather’s glint in his eye, or my mother’s focused expression, and I know that they are all right there for me to silently appreciate and it’s my turn to be that person to another human being.

I’ve got this.

Pregnancy Through the Eyes of a Child

All kids have a real curiosity about the mystery of pregnancy and childbirth, and rightfully so. In addition to his questions involving how a fetus pees, our son has begun to ask more practical questions.

As I tucked him into bed the other night and walked to the door in the dark, he asked me, “Mommy, where does the baby come out?” I replied with the best answer I could come up with on the spot. “In the hospital, honey. Goodnight.” And then I ran like hell.

The next morning, he wanted to push further. “Mommy, why does the baby come out in the hospital?”

“Because that is where my doctor is, and she will want to make sure that me and your baby brother are okay. She will probably want me to stay for a day or two so they can give us check-ups.”

“Oh,” he said, “so the doctor pulls the baby out?” He points to my belly button. Oh dear. Here we go. Am I prepared to be factually accurate?

“Well, she helps to pull him out down here.” I gesture vaguely toward my nether regions.

“SHE PULLS HIM OUT OF YOUR BUTT????” Hysterical laughter ensues.

At this point, I do the wrong thing. Instead of being a 21st century parent, I revert to a more modest time and offer him a cup of grapes and try to dazzle him with the presentation.

I was sure I had properly distracted him. Later that day, however, I hear him telling my husband through belly laughs, “The doctor is going to pull my baby brother out of Mommy’s butt!” I have no doubt he told all his preschool teachers the same thing.

Let this be a lesson to you. Be honest. Face it, or your kid will tell everyone he sees in Home Depot his theories on childbirth and you will be the butt of everyone’s jokes.

 

“Does the Baby Pee Out of There?”

My three-year-old son has enjoyed feeling my belly as it grows to wait for kicks and punches from his baby brother. He has asked a lot of questions, although none about how he got in there. Whew.

Today he was pointing out my distorted belly button that no longer resembles the kind that holds a true function—sticking your finger in it. With wide eyes, he asks me, “Does the baby pee out of that?”

I must mention that my son’s verbal skills have surpassed his cognitive development, and I am often struggling to explain things in a truthful but age-appropriate way. I had anticipated the next questions, and I knew he would ask where the baby pees. We just finished potty-training again after a move-induced regression. He wants to know where everyone and everything pees.

As I contemplated the complexities of nutrients, placenta, amniotic fluid, and knowing the baby is swallowing his own urine at this point, I chickened out and said simply, “No. Nobody pees from their belly button.”