Don’t Be A Fear Pusher, Be An Encourager

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I hate when people push their fears onto me. I have been getting this a lot lately.  I am pregnant with my third baby, and people have been panicking on my behalf like they are the ones giving birth to this tiny human, even though I have the Buddha belly and hormone spike to prove otherwise.

“How are you going to do it?”

“How will you leave the house with three under four?”

Then said mom muses out loud, “I mean, if you decide you want help, you can always hire someone.” Geez, thanks. Also, thanks for offering to spend my money. Appreciate it.

Thought: Well I wasn’t worried about those things, at least those particular things…but thanks for surfacing those fears.

People tend to project their fears onto you and like verbal diarrhea they spit fire at you, not the most encouraging questions.

And look, I have enough fears. I promise I don’t lack in the anxiety department.  I mean, I am the mother that checks on my kids before I go to bed each night even though I have two monitors for each of their rooms. I tiptoe in, sneaking as best as I can, hoping the carpet will create a soft sponge-like effect on my often-heavy feet. In my mind, I am ninja-like doing forward rolls and high kicks—all while making no sounds. In reality, I may be jerking and creaking with each step. I sneak in at night to take a whiff, make sure no one dirtied her diaper and is sleeping in it.

Because: my babies not feeling comfortable, when I could possibly prevent it, is something I do think about, a lot.

While I am in there, I pull a blanket over my oldest. I wake her up at times, but she’s used to seeing me at this point. She gives me a weary look, as I say “It’s only mommy go back to bed.” And she does, while I stroke her head.

Trust me, if you are thinking about your children’s potential poopy diapers to the point where you risk waking them on a nightly basis— you are a worrier. Bringing a new life into this world, into this house, will be a big change for my two children. I fear my 18-month-old who has no idea what is going on, will feel replaced when I cradle the new baby into my arms. I dread to be away when I give birth because that will be the longest I’ve ever been away from my littlest. So yes, I have fears, but they are different from your worries.

Instead, if you want to be helpful or feel compelled to say something, tell me:

“You got this mama. You will be great.”

“Three kids means three times the love.”

“Three healthy kids, what a blessing!”

So please, let’s not push our fears onto each other. If we must project, let’s push encouragement instead. As mothers, as women, we can do anything. And you know why? Because once it happens, we have no choice but to make it our beautiful, messy, imperfect new normal.

Our new normal we would never trade back for anything, ever.

 

I Have Never Been A Girly Girl: But I Was Meant To Be A Mother Of Girls

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I have never been a girly girl. I am not into the color pink, design, or dressing up. I never wear makeup and haven’t had a manicure in god knows how long, and I am not into any activities that are associated with the traditional role of a girl. But there is one thing I am sure of; I was meant to be a mother of girls.

When I was newly pregnant with my third child, I was so nauseous, aka vomiting-level-nausea, that I thought I must be pregnant with twins this time around.  When at six weeks the doctor only heard one heartbeat, my next theory was I must be having a boy. With my first two girls, I had a mild sea sickness like nausea feeling or nausea light compared to this, so this had to be a sign of a different gender. Well, we got the test back and–dum da-da-dum–it was another girl! I laughed so hard because I always joked with my husband that we would have all girls because his interests are more traditionally feminine. But now, this is our reality.

And you know what? I couldn’t be happier, because I believe now more than ever that I was meant to be a girl mom.

I was meant to be a girl mom because I have been through struggles with my body and mind, so I know what is important. I will let my daughters know that society is wrong, thin is not the most important thing, and diets are never the answer. And even if they are thin, it doesn’t mean everything in their life will come together. At my thinnest, my life was in complete shambles, and I was a shell of my former self.

I won’t let my daughters think they have to be perfect. I played the trying to be perfect people pleasing game for way too long and the only conclusion I came to was that perfection doesn’t exist and if you try to be perfect, you are going to end up completely miserable. I will encourage them to be themselves and do what comes naturally as long as they are kind and considerate human beings.

I will never criticize mine or someone else’s body and appearance in front of them. I know how harmful that can be. That when I do that, they will just look at themselves and reflect what they can do to improve their own bodies.

I have been there. I have been in a place where mealtimes were warzones. My whole being had been completely taken over by a thing my mom called “the devil inside of me.” I was possessed in these moments and couldn’t be reasoned with. The devil (my eating disorder) would pick those fights because he wanted me to give up on my recovery and myself. That would be my excuse to self-hate, not care to recover anymore, and completely self-destruct. I wanted the permission to give up on myself. If only my mom would first. Luckily, she never gave up on me, and here I am.

I have been to dark places as a female. Not thinking I’m enough, looking at others and feeling like a misfit and a complete reject. So, I will know how to snap my daughters out of it before they are sucked into that scary world of self-doubt. I will teach them that their uniqueness, what makes them original and sets them apart is their sweet spot. That will be the part I will love and cherish about them the most.

I will teach them that being a good human, that cares for others, their family and friends, and wants to better the world is the most important thing. Being happy and healthy is the most important thing. Being successful is not about what they have material wise or an ongoing list of achievements. But I want them to never give up on their dreams and what makes them happy. I am a true believer if you want something enough and never give up, you can make it happen for yourself.

I want to have strong, independent, smart and kind girls. I want girls who support and encourage one another — girls who build each other up. We need more girls like this in our society.

So even though I have never been a girly girl. I am not into the color pink, design, or dressing up. I never wear makeup and haven’t had a manicure in god knows how long, and I am not into any activities that are associated with the traditional role of a girl.

There is one thing I am sure of in my heart; I was always meant to be a mother of girls.

The struggles I have been through in my life have lead me to this role.

I See You…

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Wouldn’t it be easier if we could all remain truth tellers? If words could easily spew from our lips. If we could all be completely transparent.

We wouldn’t lie …

If people’s words back to us didn’t cut us sharply like swords. And it always shocks me how easily those words are said—without a second thought of how much hurt they can cause. 
If we didn’t feel the glaring eyes of others constantly hovering over our backs like a hovercraft.

Those words, those looks, that judgment—gives us shame.

Yet, we sit there and judge each other in whispers and sometimes in screams.

But what if…

If we weren’t afraid. If we didn’t have shame.

If we didn’t have to hide any part of ourselves.

If we didn’t have to get to the age and maturity where we don’t care anymore.

Why is it that we are so hard on each other? We know how hard this life is. We have each driven on the bumpy, winding roads of life—different highways and intersections but they all have challenges. We have learned how to drive on these roads, from years of practice. But of course, there are accidents, traffic, and roadblocks along the way. The potholes can be deep– sometimes you can get stuck– get a flat tire, the engine blew— and while you are waiting for help you can find yourself waiting for hours, days, maybe even years thinking about your next move. Sometimes it’s hard to make that call to ask for help.

To the person that is stuck deep in the pothole trying to claw her/his way out, I see you.

I see you trying to get through the day.
I see you going through the motions.
I see you functioning on auto-pilot.

I’ve been there.

To that person, please speak your truth. I hope courage finds its way into your tank. You can make any car model stronger. It starts by making the call to get repairs.

Then you must take action—make sure you know how to deal with future potholes. This is the hard part. This is the dirty work. You have to work to make a change. Change doesn’t miraculously happen—this life isn’t that easy. There is no magic fix, no abracadabra and you get a sweet bunny out of a top hat.

And after some time, your car will be back on the road–running smoothly, oil changed, gassed-up and ready to cruise again. Yes, there will be bad days once again, but you can deal with roadblocks better when you know how to be your own mechanic.

You will accept the judgment because it’s inevitable and you will be more understanding of other car model’s track marks—a small dent in the hood, a nail in the tire, and a crack in the windshield. You have been there.

And like me, you will see others and understand. You will give them a nod instead of a whispering hover.

You will wear these dents with pride–they made you, YOU.

I Had Enough

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Lost. I heard the baby wailing in the background. Her wails were piercing roars, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost it for the first time.

“I can’t do this anymore!” I screamed, pushing hard on the break. The baby, who is intuitive like me, got nervous and cried louder. My toddler joined, and then I did something I am not proud of—I screamed again. I have never cried in front of my kids—but today I started panicking. My body felt tingly, and I lost it. Heart racing with anxiety as tears drip-dropped down my cheeks. I wanted to run out of that moment. Turn around and go home. I can extinguish any emotion if I have to. Usually.

Not today.

I had enough.

Today I was completely lost in the web of motherhood. Tangled in knots, trying to find my way out, but only making my way back to where I started– stuck in that same darn knot.

The day started to take a turn for the tangled when I was leaving for camp with my two littles. I Bjorn the baby each morning; I mean that Bjorn is my lifeline with two littles and only two hands. And when I didn’t see it, I was left with the realization— my husband took the Bjorn to work accidently—and he was definitely not getting any sexy time later.

Now, you may be thinking; you can just put the baby in the stroller. Well, my stroller isn’t allowed in the classroom because it’s a fire hazard. So, I went to class with the baby in one arm, the toddler in the other arm. And…to no one’s surprise—it was sh!t show.

This about sums it up: I left the splash pad, baby in one arm, toddler in the other arm—insisting on being picked up too, of course. We were almost back to the classroom–thank goodness because my hands were breaking…. And then the fire alarm went off. The frightened toddler screamed as we continued walking past the classroom and out of the building for a fire drill. The toddler was too afraid to let me put her down—so I had to continue holding both in the blaring heat of the sun until they let us back inside. Yep. That’s the kind of day I was having.

I had enough.

We left class a little early after my toddler had a full on break down because she’s a toddler and when you are having a difficult day as a mother, they can sniff it out, and make it worse for you. In all actuality, she was jealous I was holding her sister so much, and she finally lost it.

I had enough.

We got home, all was fine, both kids napped, and then that afternoon we had a birthday party. I should have sensed my mommy karma was off and counted my loses, staying at home, but I decided to go for it.  I mean the toddler napped so maybe this mama’s juju was on the up and up.

Think again.

I put the address in the navigation and…got, so freaking lost.

It was a five-minute drive that turned into a 45-minute drive. This brings me to the beginning, with the baby crying to the point where I hit the break (and my breaking point), screeching to a full stop and screamed at the top of my lungs.  With that, the baby started screaming, and the toddler joined in and wanted out of her car seat. Kids feed off your emotions. They got scared because mommy was upset and I was even madder at my reaction. That for once, I couldn’t keep my cool in front of them. I felt like such a failure.

I had enough.

I took the baby out of the car seat comforting her and apologizing.

A passing driver stopped her car, “Are you guys okay?” she asked the frantic mother, aka me, rocking her baby in the middle of the street. I’d think no!

“Yes, we are just lost and the baby’s upset,” I said, admitting defeat.

“I’ll help,” she said pulling out her phone and trying to direct me. This person’s kindness was so sweet and needed at that moment, but I am not the best at taking direction, plus I was so frazzled—so I could hardly listen. But it was enough to get me back to thinking rationally.

I had enough.

I got back in the car. I breathed. These are not horrible, horrible, horrible things happening just little grievances. I need to hold it together. I can do this.  I breathed in again and regrouped. I needed to get to this house where the party was because it was closer than home and my crying kids needed out.

I calmly called my husband, and he guided me the rest of the way. Of course, I was around the corner, and there were two streets with the same name within a couple of blocks of each other. Because… Of course.

We made it, and I cheered, my toddler, mimicking my enthusiasm with cheers of her own. It was an outside party. As soon as I saw that, I knew that there would be a mosquito banquet with me as the main dish.

Total sh!t show? Yes. But at least I was out, experiencing life. Trying things. I used to be afraid of my own shadow, and that held me back from doing anything. Old Dani would have stayed in after the morning from hell she had. New Dani, was going to conquer the day head on—her kids kept her courage strong. The day could get better. And maybe it didn’t this time, but the chance that it could, kept my tribe and me going. A tribe leader needs to be brave. More times than not, I am happy to have left our comfort zone—leading my tribe into adventure. An hour later and about twenty mosquito bites deep— we got home.

I had enough.

Then my eldest did something so sweet. She came up to me and gave me a big hug, saying “mommy, I love you.” I felt that same tingly feeling as before, but it calmed me. I felt at peace as she wrapped her arms around me.  Even deep in, stuck in the tangled web, on these horrible days—I love leading our tribe, being the brave chief mom. Because I had enough of this day, but never of my role as a mother to you.

 

 

 

 

 

Accepting My Body

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I look down in the shower at my body.

The water is drip-dropping down my hair, off my nose, down my torso—to my toes covered by a layer of skin—my old friend, fat.

This body has been through the ringer. All bodies have. But you can always find the beauty in the dark. You just have to not give up and keep looking.

Fat, ugh, THAT hideous word.

I can be frank with you. I have NEVER liked you. I have gotten to the point in my recovery journey where sometimes you fall out of memory, but then I look down and see you. You are kind of like that mean relative who I never want to see because you make me feel bad about myself but we are attached by common family so you pop-in every so often. Yes, that would be YOU fat.

“I feel fat.”

“Do I look fat?”

“Gosh, I look fat in these!” I would say your name way too often for many years. To myself, to my family, to anyone I could confide in.

When I first found out I was pregnant, the emotion of thrill was quickly followed by fear. Fear, that I wasn’t strong enough in my eating disorder recovery to handle the weight gain that goes hand-in-hand with pregnancy.  I was finally at a place in my life where I was doing well with my body and now—this would be a huge test.

So fat, as I gained weight with each of my babies I slowly embraced you. I embraced my expanding waist-line with an additional coating of you. I embraced you creeping into my breasts, making me ready to become the family cow. I had to make peace with you.

Fat, you will always be there, a form of excess flesh—protecting my body. Fat, pregnancy made me accept you for what you are, extra padding for this mommy—the strongest kind of woman there is. Extra padding that helps lift my daughters’ one in each arm. Extra padding that gives me the energy and strength to care for them.

This body has been through the ringer. All bodies have. But you can always find the beauty in the dark. You just have to not give up and keep looking.

My children are the beauty I found in the dark. They have helped me accept my body as it is, finding better coping mechanisms. They have reminded me that fat isn’t the enemy—be ridding my body of it, was my way of disappearing, not wanting to be seen. My babies make me want to take up more space and live. In fact, I am afraid to not be here because no one can love them as much as I do.

Pregnancy was the most space I ever took up. And gosh, my body was beautiful– because my babies were inside. This body created them. This body, fat and all. This body, it deserves to be cherished because it does so much.

I look down in the shower at my body.

The water is drip-dropping down my hair, off my nose, down my torso—to my toes covered by a layer of skin—my old friend, fat.  I now more than accept you. I love you for helping me finally find the beauty in the dark—my girls. I am glad I didn’t give up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One More Book

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It starts with one story read each night when you aren’t old enough to read. You listen to the words daddy reads to you, taking it all in, holding onto each word of his deep voice—wanting him to read one more, just one more—because you know that means more time with him. You look at the pictures and you help turn the pages. You cuddle up in the warmth of each other’s bodies.

You don’t see daddy all day, so if he’s home to tuck you in—I know I will see that jack-o’-lantern-light-up-the-room smile form between your cherub cheeks.

“Pumpkin face, it’s time for bed.” I say, picking up some toys off the floor.

“No way!” You demur.

“Look it’s Daddy, and he is going to read you stories.” Then Daddy appears into the room in his work clothes, fresh from rush hour traffic and a stressful day–ready to put on his daddy cape and save the day. He is your superhero.

“Dad-eee!” You screech with glee. Then like you just gave him a secret hand shake or a double thumbs up only you two can see, you walk past me grabbing daddy’s hand to go to your room.  He tells you to pick two books and you do. Then you lay on your big girl bed in daddy’s arms.

Him reading, you listening.

You start getting antsy when you see the last book coming to an end.

“Book, peas,” you say wanting one more, sensing your time together is about to end.

“Okay, just one more,” he answers your raspy plea. You pick one more– and you both dig in.

You like to hear the stories but what you really love is your time with him. You, laying peacefully on his chest. Him, reading to you and making silly voices for different characters. The two of you—laughing, smiling, eyes twinkling at each other.

One day you will get older, and you won’t want to read with daddy. He will be there for other things like life advice, homework help, and to grab you and your friend’s bagels after a sleep over party.

You talking, him listening and vice versa.

When you are sad, he will let you lay peacefully on his chest—and try to make things all better– taking you back to the times when he read to his little girl during story time. When you are happy, he will celebrate you, because your victories will be his. He will always have that twinkle in his eye for you, his little girl. When it comes to you, he will want one more book, one more moment. Always.

Mama Friend I Forgive You

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I overhear a lot of things at my daughter’s classes. And I must say, there is too much complaining amongst mommy-kind about each other. I hear it in whispers, laughs, sometimes anger.  I thought I needed to set the record straight on my opinion about this epidemic. So here it is and this is my take on how I know a mommy friend is a keeper.

You forgot my birthday mommy friend. Don’t worry, I am not counting my presents and making an exclusive invite list to my big birthday bash at a chic high-end restaurant and YOU BETTER BE THERE OR ELSE. I am most likely ordering in dinner with my family and having my two-year old blow out my birthday candles. I too, believe it or not, am not perfect, and get confused about what day of the week, month, it is here in Mamaland—which is a lot like Disneyland in the high probability rate of tantrums that happen, minus the fun rides. Yes, it’s THAT much fun. This means, I more than get why it may slip your mind. In fact, I more than forgive you and probably didn’t even think twice about it.

You made a borderline offensive comment mommy friend.  You made a joke at my expense about my parenting style. How “I am crazy for breastfeeding so long and co-sleeping” but you didn’t mean to. You thought I’d laugh along. People make mistakes. Yes, my feelings were hurt in that moment, but I’ll get over it. I always do.

You didn’t call me back mama friend. You said you were going to, but I never heard back. Now it has been five days and no call back. I am so NOT mad. Come on, I have done the same thing to you. Life gets busy. Trust me, at the end of a long day of changing countless dirty diapers, dancing non-stop to The Wiggles, at least two toddler tantrums, a lot of tears shed, the last thing I want to do is call anyone back, including you (sorry, not sorry). I am in no way holding it against you.

You ignored my text mommy friend. I saw that you read it. IPhone’s can be truth tellers like that. Big deal. It happens.

You had to cancel plans over four times in a row fellow mama—a different excuse each time. I get it, things happen in life. I’ll most definitely do it to you. Even though I won’t mean to.

What is my point with all of this?

Look I know how it is to feel overwhelmed, down, depressed, so sad you feel like you are drowning but you are eyes-wide-open while the water is caving in on you—it’s absolutely terrifying. I know what it is like to be so in the grasps of depressions hands, that it is literally suffocating you and you can hardly breathe. You want to scream but you are underwater so you can’t–thoughts are blurry, self-esteem absent. You can’t see the positive in anything. Your soul is literally drowning. I know how it is to go through really bad times. I think most people once they hit a certain age do.

This is why I take other things into account and overlook these little insignificant things. Because when you go through hard times you realize what truly matters in a friend:

1). You have always been kind to me and my family— genuinely wishing us the best.

2). We always laugh hard together or have good talks.

3) . You are always kind to my kids, treating them like your own.

4). If I needed you, I know you would be there or at least attempt to get there.

In my mind, even if you are just thinking positively about me and my family you are a good friend. Motherhood is hard. There is a whole lot going on at all times—spaghetti on the walls metaphorically and literally. The kids take up 95% of the day. So why would I get rid of you based on being forgetful, a one-off joke, a simple lapse of memory? I wouldn’t.

Everyone’s life is messy-a sprinkling of good and bad times, hopefully the good outweighing the bad most of the time. Everyone is going through something. It may be different degrees of that something but it is still messy, raw, and I am sure hard as heck And on top of that, we are raising children and have their problems at the forefront. That’s a lot to take on!

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Unfortunately, no one does. That’s why when you find another good person or good people, hold on really tight and don’t drop them for insignificant reasons. Motherhood can be lonely. We need each other.

Repeat after me: I ________ forgive my fellow mama friend for the small thing that got me upset and will not drop them or complain to others in my tribe. Understanding breeds understanding, kindness breeds more kindness—and I want us mamas to be each other’s supports instead of knocking each other down for stupid lapses or oversights (Plus, hello momnesia—it’s real!). We are all aboard this mama train for a ride of a lifetime so we might as well chugga chugga choo choo along and stick together.