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.

 

 

Gosh, I will miss that gummy smile

 

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I wake up because I hear your little babbles next to my ear from the bassinet you sleep in at my bedside.  “Bah Bah Bah” your babbles slowly get louder and louder– I hope it’s because you are counting sheep back to bed (hence the Bah), but it’s highly unlikely. You are having a late-night conversation with me. My everything is too tired to participate though my heart knows it’s time for me to check out why you awoke, willing my sleep-ridden body out of bed.

My husband lays to my side. He doesn’t move or notice your loud babbles. Oh, some men. I laugh at the way he plays dead.  I look at my iPhone that flickers 2 AM. “You have to be kidding me” I say mid yawn, I just dream fed you at 11 PM. How could your seven-month-old body still be hungry? Growth spurt?  Or is it your teeth trying to break through your soft gums? Torturing both of us, because I hate to see you in pain even more than the tiredness that comes from these wakeful nights. And gosh I will miss that gummy smile if your teeth are the culprit.

Your babbles get even louder “BAH BAH BAH.” Those sheep must be having a full-on ragger!

I get up and look into your sweet baby browns.

“What’s going on sweet girl?” I say and you smile at me so big and bright, you have a magical twinkle in your eye. I can’t help but smile back at your happiness.

I lift you, taking you down the hall to the playroom where I feed you daily. I marvel at how I can hold you on my left hip. We bounce down the hall in the dark–silence and the beat of the heater fill our house. You feel so good on my side– you are no longer delicate and dainty.

I feed you your bottle and listen to your feeding noises, little gulps and grunts, while staring into your eyes.

As much as I hate these hour and half wake ups that have been going on these past couple of weeks, it is our time. It’s the only alone time we get. As exhausted as I am because we are up early with your big sister—I will always treasure this time. This time, just you and me.

Your sister is demanding with my attention. She is the spicy to your sweet and sugary. She demands the spotlight—a lot of the time taking it from you without even meaning to. Most of the time she does mean to, she’s still a little jealous of you. So baby girl, this is my way of apologizing on her behalf.

The only other time in your life we were alone was hard. You were born a month early and found yourself in the NICU for the first two weeks of your life. It was a tough time. It broke my heart to leave the hospital without you. I never was without your sister for a night until I gave birth to you—but those two weeks I had to leave you in other hands—great ones—but they weren’t my own hands. My hands that love you more than anything on this earth. I don’t think anyone else in this world besides your father can say that.

Now here we are, me and you, alone again. You, still in my hands, but now much bigger. You are not the delicate little baby I held—swaddled up to keep your little body warm. You keep getting bigger and bigger and soon bottles will be replaced by real food and you will want to be more independent, like your sister. So I will embrace these wakeups because they are so short-lived, days go by fast and furious, and I will miss this one day too soon.

After you are done with your bottle, I give you some Tylenol for your maybe-teeth and you talk to me while I pump—making your yummy breakfast.

Then around 3:30 AM we head back to bed. You and me, us–together.

I tuck you in and you smile at me one last time before we close our eyes for the final stretch of the night. Gosh, I will miss that gummy smile.

Today I Was Over It

Today I was over it.

My toddler woke up in a mood. While I was pumping she waddled over to my six-month-old in her Rocker and pretended to hit her on the head smiling her mischievous Dennis the Menace smile.

“No, I won’t let you hit the baby.” I said trying to remain calm like Janet Lansbury advises, but getting ready to unhook my polka-dot-Minnie-mouse inspired pumping bra and take action knowing my toddler all too well. She smiled at me again, and hit the baby’s head harder–the baby’s face starting to scrunch up to cry. Okay, Janet, this is where I couldn’t give no reaction anymore.

“That’s it!” I took off the bra, liquid gold spilling everywhere, and swooped her up placing her in her purgatory— time out.

Today I was over it.

I was over the fight to put her diaper on after her bath. Her little kicks into my stomach every time I got close to her and her screams because diaper changes are the worst thing you can do to someone, don’t you know?

 Today I was over it.

When we switched rooms, my toddler ran down the hall instead of to the playroom where we usually convene. Her little body moving from side to side– while I ran after her, baby cuddled into my chest. I caught up to her by the stairs and grabbed her little hand as she tried to pull it away because once you turn two you are totally independent. Turning to bolt again, I forced her up—the toddler in one arm, the baby in the other. We walked down the hall like this.

Today I was over it.

The outfit changes. The baby had a poop explosion while I was feeding her this morning. Mustardy poop covered my shirt and the baby’s clothes. Then I went to art class with my toddler, blue paint covering outfit number two by the time she was midway through finger painting.

Today I was over it.

Always having to have my shit together. Getting the bottles prepped, everyone changed, bathed, cleaned—out the door on time. Not having any time for myself.

Today I was over it.

When bedtime approached I was so relieved. After putting them both down I got into bed myself to unwind when five minutes later I heard through the monitor a cry from the toddler’s room. I ran down the hall, feet pounding like a dinosaur.

“What baby?” I asked as I entered the room.

She gave me a soft hug saying “tissue tissue” as salty snot dripped from her button nose. I wiped. “Book, book. Please.” Please! Just like I had been teaching her…

“Okay just one.” I grabbed the one on top of the pile.

I read her The Very Hungry Caterpillar as she turned the pages.

“Thank you mommy,” she said in her sweet husky voice.

“Your welcome baby.” I kissed her forehead, placing the blanket over her lower half, the shushers’ soothing sound playing in the background. I closed the door.

I heard soft cries come in echoes “neh, neh” from the baby’s room across the hall. NOOOOO. I ran back down the hall, as I tried to decipher the meaning behind the cry—maybe she lost her pacifier? Then I saw her scrunched up face. All she needed was to see me, her mommy, and her frown turned into a magnetic smile as I couldn’t help but smile back at her sweet little face. As I stroked her little head, she leaned to the side, falling right back to sleep.

That’s when I knew

Today I was over it but I am never over both of you.

You are my heart.

Holy Sh!t I Am Sue Heck…And You May Be Too…

Eyes wide, lashes beating against my forehead (thanks lash extensions!), my dark baby browns stare my rejection dead in the face—head on, whatever it is. My smile becomes lopsided-a smirk—not quite a frown… at least yet. Why? Because I was expecting it anyway. I set myself up for the rejection; just praying for the 1% chance it wouldn’t be, so the blow isn’t as harsh. Newsflash: it always stings.

Ever feel like you keep putting yourself out there only to get the same bad results every time? Let’s say you are a mom trying to get your toddler to eat vegetables and you disguise them in the sauce but your toddler screams “yucky!” and spits them all over her highchair. So then what do you do? The next day, you try the same thing but a different dish, with the same “yucky” “spit” result. You will also probably try it again the day after. It could be because motherhood and insanity are by definition the same things–obviously.

Look I am a fighter, I fight for what I believe in, but when enough times you don’t get positive feedback, you may start feeling like a failure. When do you give up? Never! Then when you keep trying, doing, trying it again and again you may have what Oprah coined an “Aha!” momentI had this yesterday. This became my “Holy sh!t, I am Sue Heck” moment. Why? Well, for those who aren’t familiar with The Middle, Sue is the lovable character who puts herself out there and fails spectacularly every single time, but none the less never stops trying. That is us, mamas—we are all Sue Heck’s!

Do I want to be like that? Sometimes. Unlike Sue, I am not an eternal optimist who doesn’t get deterred in the face of adversity. Let’s be real, most of us aren’t cheerful optimists to the Sue-extreme, so the outcome isn’t so “oh well”. I mean I have never met a person so unaffected quite like Sue! While she quickly rebounds with her next grandiose idea, I unfortunately can’t. After a while, I do what my almost two year old would do—throw a tantrum of epic proportions or sulk.

But yet as moms, we keep trying and trying because we have bigger goals then just our pride: our kids. We want them to be healthy and thriving individuals so we put that beyond our sanity. And you know what? The one thing to love about Sue is that one day she will make her mark because she won’t give up and that will be us—and because we worked so hard our victory will be even sweeter.

So mama, when your toddler does one day eat your healthy cooking or actually goes to the bathroom on the potty—those are the days when you think, “it’s good to be Sue Heck.” When you’re a mom being a Sue will eventually pay off and like the Heck clan, your whole family will love you because of your dedication and heart.

Hatching An Egg The Second Time Around

First of all, if you are pregnant with your second child, props because it’s work to get here! After a long day of having your toddler climbing you like you are human Monkey Bars, the last thing you want to do is be touched in any form, at least on some most days. So yes, getting to this point—high five to you! The first time around, there were countless times I wished I was a chicken and could just hatch an egg. I think we all have these wishbone moments—where we wish when cracking that chicken wishbone for this baby’s healthy eviction another route. But this time, so far being pregnant with child number two has been treating me well–besides the headaches and nausea of first trimester– but I digress to some encouraging facts I have gathered:

1). It goes by fast.

I am already 16 weeks pregnant and I feel like I took the pregnancy test yesterday…maybe I did? (Damn forgetful pregnancy brain and your momnesia ways!). My pregnancy is like the Roadrunner running away from the Tasmanian devil on Looney Tunes-fast AF. I hardly even look at my Ovia app, where last time I obsessed about my baby’s fruit and animal size. It was important when she was an avocado. This time I just think oh that will be a nice food to give my other out-of-womb-child tonight. We haven’t done avocados in a while…

2). You are too busy to think about how exhausted you are, most of the time.

I am taking my fourteen month old to classes, running after her, as she is finding her walking groove–transitioning from her crawl. We are always on the “go, go, go” as she says often, especially when she is using her walker. So yes, I am always exhausted anyway, and don’t have time to feel it until around 7-7:30 PM when my little girl closes her eyes for the night and I can just sit on the couch and veg. But let’s be real, that’s what I did every night before I was pregnant anyway.

 3). You already have maternity clothes from the first time around.

In fact, I never stopped wearing them! I am one of those freaks that love maternity clothes. Baby number one is almost fourteen months, and I just never stopped wearing them because they are so damn comfortable. It’s also not because I don’t fit into my other clothes, because I do, it’s just a comfort thing. Why would I want to squeeze into jeans when these are like jumping into butter? Exactly! They are also nice and stretched from pregnancy number one—so they are that perfect consistency of soft comfort. One bonus for working at home and being the primary caretaker for my daughter—I am going to rock my maternity for life and no one can stop me!

4). Your attitude about your body changes.

You already have stretch marks and fun pregnancy battle wounds from the first go, so it’s like bring it on to more. I struggled with eating disorders for years, but pregnancy actually did something wonderful for me. It made me realize how amazing our bodies are as women. Being pregnant actually took me from in recovery to recovered because I really treated my body like I always should have without much second thought, or at least third thought (we all have bad days!). That has continued to this day. So if I get another mark or two, bring it on because pregnancy has brought the best thing in the world into my life—my daughter.

5). You’re not as nervous, because you have already done this whole baby thing before.

You are a pro mama. At least you are no longer a virgin to this whole baby world. Throw up-bring it! More poop diaper—shit, bring that too! Pat yourself on the back mama–you got this. Now that whole multiple baby thing, let’s just not think about that…

6). You are actually looking forward to the birth.

I mean, free childcare and drugs at my disposal—it will be like a full on party!

So far, pregnancy number two has been treating me well. I will keep you posted but no wishbone moments…yet. All you mamas out there try to think of these positives. Oh and remember, in those tough moments, you have another beautiful baby on the way—double high-five to that.

Get Low, Low, Low

It’s called getting low. At least that’s what my hubby and I call it. When you don’t want to do something in parenthood, but you do it because you absolutely have to—that would be the start of getting low’s Wikipedia definition. Then you duck, tuck and get as low as you can and slither out of the room, like what they tell you in Fire education–stop, drop without the roll. But for effect if you want to do the roll, go ahead by all means.

For instance, last night my daughter was wickedly teething. The amount she was teething made me want to be all tough and Bostonian, like a Ben Affleck movie, hence the wicked. Well, she woke up screaming at around 10 pm. After some Tylenol and a pity viewing of Little Einstein’s, her favorite show, which I like to think she enjoys because she is a baby genius, not because of the bright colors and catchy tunes. But I digress.

After twenty-minutes when she seemed a little better I went to put her back into her crib when she started screaming. And when I say screaming I mean-wah, wah wah, getting increasingly louder with each subsequent wah. It’s awful. One thing I can’t take is hearing my baby crying. My heart cramps together in pain and my blood starts boiling like a teapot— it hurts my first-time-mommy soul. So I did the first thing that came to mind. I got low, and slithered out of her nursery, pretending it didn’t happen. Five minutes later, she was back to sleep.

Another instance where this works is when you are putting your baby in the stroller after a class, when she does not want to be in there more than anything. And hell yes, she will let you know it. Oh and also the fifteen other mothers in the class. She screams incessantly and all of the other mothers are looking at you like girl, what’s wrong with your baby? You can’t get her to stop-try a bottle, a WubbaNub, nothing works. So you duck, tuck and get as low as possible and sneak out the door and start hauling ass down the street.

This can really work in any situation. Let’s say you are feeding your baby at a restaurant and she throws up—puke covering her head to toe. Then you take her to the bathroom and realize you forgot her change of clothes. Crap. Well, you put her in the diaper and winter jacket with the 7AM—pay the bill of course, we don’t promote dining and dashing– and then duck, tuck and slither out of the restaurant before anyone can even notice.

So the next time something happens where you want to avoid seeing your baby upset or the judgmental eyes of other mamas; or worse, the judgmental eyes of other people that don’t have babies and don’t understand–do whatever you got to do. But always remember in the back of your head as a rabbit in the hat magic trick of the trade, when all else fails with your baby, duck, tuck and get low low low low low low low low.