Hey there, Momma dear. I see you and I feel you. Right now you are beating yourself up over something you didn’t do, or actually maybe something you did do or something you said, but regardless of where you fall on the feelings spectrum, I am sure at some moment you have felt a form of failure. Mom guilt is real, raw and creeps up in the depths of your gut and swirls through your soul to overwhelm you with that “gotcha feeling” that makes you just slump over in all the bad feels. Momma, I am here for you and here to tell you that you got this.
I never went far for college. Never packed my belongings into a handful of suitcases, bags and boxes, minimizing what was important based on what I could fit into a car and then fit in a dorm space. I never had to watch my parents drive away from me in a car out of a town in complete excitement and fear. Instead, I stayed close to home and enjoyed the perks of living college out with home cooked meals and my Dad available any weeknight evening for a math or science tutor session.
Our dear friends just recently had their first child. We were invited down to their home to spend some time with their week and a half-year-old little guy and to introduce him to our very ornery, can’t stop – won’t stop, two-year-old, Lo.
I was a nervous Nancy watching my daughter bounce from step to ground, fearful she was just a mere tumble away into the peaceful newborn’s bouncy seat, where he so quietly slept. As I watched this beautiful boy stretch and yawn and wrinkle his oh so tiny nose, I looked over at my rowdy, rambunctious daughter, “No, Logan, we do not lick the concrete,” I calmly announced as my daughter was on all fours on my friend’s patio, lapping up the hard surface. In that moment, I turned back to the newborn so peaceful and dependent and then back at my puppy, I mean daughter and thought well gee this is my motherhood.
Lately, I feel like I run around chasing my daughter saying “No!” Our dialogue with our child has totally shifted and now I just find myself and my husband speak and think nothing of our dialogue until a moment later when it hits me, “Did we just say that?”
So I started this list – Parents Say the Darndest Things – with our recent conversation at our friend’s house when I asked my daughter to stop licking the concrete, in mind.
Darndest Thing #1 – The same night as the concrete and moments later Lo ripped a leaf off our friend’s hedge bush that lined their patio and placed the leaf in her mouth, “Lo, stop eating their landscape.”
Darndest Thing #2 – After a quiet moment, my husband walked into our daughter’s bedroom and found her on the floor playing in a small travel bag I have packed which contains band-aids, thermometers, and an extra toothbrush. My dear husband yelled, “No, that was in your butt, get it out of your mouth.” Hmmm… I thought from our bedroom across the hall. Turns out Lo had placed the reserved anal thermometer in her mouth. Then Nathan asked me, “Right? This goes in her butt?” Holding the red and white thermometer in his hand in our doorway. “Yes, dear, that typically goes in her butt.”
Darndest Thing #3 – One morning while playing with chalk on the front sidewalk that leads to our house, “Logan, chalk is for sidewalks, not for faces.” She had bright blue dusty chalk painted on the tip of her nose and was holding the red and outlining her face as I caught her.
Darndest Thing #4 – I dressed Logan, I gave her a bottle, her blanket and set her on the couch with a TV show so I could water my annuals in our front yard. Nathan yelled, “Ashli, did you change, Lo?”
“Yeah, why?” I call back.
I turned around to see my daughter with her top on but completely naked from the waist down standing in the front door looking out at me. “Logan, no, we do not walk around pantless.”
“Yeah,” said Nathan scurrying her along. “And, we don’t stand at the front door when we do,” I heard Nathan say as they walked away. 😐
You know how they say kids say the darndest things, well clearly us parents do too. Just another day, another dollar (no – wait) and another moment in the life of parenthood. And, I cheers to you on that!
We are back – Logisms Part 2. When I typed that in my mind I heard the voice from the Cha Cha Slide. You know when the guy says, “This is Part 2.” Is there a Part 1, Part 3? I have been to many, many weddings since the Cha Cha Slide was first introduced and to this day, I am always cha cha in again and turnin’ it out to part 2.
Because I want no reader in the dark, This is what I am talking about.
So, I am back with Logisms Part 2, and if you missed Part 1, well, you missed out. Luckily for you I care and will easily redirect you to Part 1, Here.
Yes, you read the headline right. Parents, I figured it out. As I stared at my wide-eyed, what the heck just happened to me two-year old, who laid on the bathroom floor in disarray looking up at me, it hit me… living with a toddler is like living with a drunk person.
You see, I asked my daughter to join my in the bathroom as I was home alone with her and needed to iron my clothes. Our ironing board is attached to the back of the bathroom door, so technically I lock myself in when I need to iron. Of course, she could not do damage with me by her side unlike if I was locked in a room with her free to roam the house. It was two minutes. That is it! And, in two minutes she caused enough damage for an hour worth of repair work.
“Look at me Mommy!” And as I turned, my two year old, Lo, had moved her potty over to the wall, stood on top of its lid and was hanging from our towel rack. When she lifted her little feet backwards into the air the towel rack ripped in a hurry from the wall, pulling some of the dry wall, and she crashing to the ground.
Yep! Just like living with a drunk person.
#1 – They spill their drinks all over the floor
I have physically witnessed my daughter laugh as she squeezed the life out of a juice box and watched the sugary substance spill all over the floor. Leaky bottle in the bed? No worries! We like sleeping in wet bed sheets. If there is a drink in our home without a screw top lid, well then we are just that – screwed.
#2 – They are always getting hurt
Clumsy! My toddler will walk straight into a wall or door. This morning when we opened the front door to leave, she tumbled outside onto our porch. Flat out tumbled. It is like her feet are their very own tripping hazard. She had so many bruises on her face that my husband posted this to SnapChat last month.
#3 – They cry… a lot!
Their emotions are all over the place. Lo has cried recently because I would not allow her to open glitter eye shadow she found in my old makeup bag (heck, I cried that I wore that stuff), because her bottle of milk seemed too cold, because the toy bucket in the shower had cold water in it from the night before, and because I told her she could not eat butter out of the butter container with a spoon.
#4 – They ask why way too much
Everything is why? Everything! Our dinner conversation the other night went something like this.
Me: Eat your food.
Me: Because it is dinner time.
Me: Because you have to eat before you go to bed.
Me: Do you want to be hungry before bed?
Me: Because I said so.
Lo: Because Why?
#5 – You cannot have nice things
Hence my story above. We now have a hole in our bathroom wall and ripped drywall. All thanks to a “Look at me Mommy,” hang! Don’t even get me started on my carpets!
#6 – They do not care what scene they make in public
It does not matter that the restaurant is full and your client is seated with his wife across the room. They could care less if the lady at the end of the grocery store aisle goes to your church. Really care less as they knock over the display and you are left deciding if you should clean it up or run for cover. Heck, the mere fact that there are eyes upon them means nothing, their emotions show through regardless of who is around. There is no need to impress and zero care about causing a scene.
#7 – The flip their dinner plates
Don’t like that? Ah! Just throw it off the table. We love cleaning up beneath and around you.
#8 – My phone has drunk dials
I do not know why I have not yet learned from my mistakes. Lo has called a business contractor on my husband’s phone at 9 pm at night and Facetimed one of my old colleges. Awesome!
#9 – They want pizza, Oreos or chicken nuggets for breakfast all the time
My daughter wakes up asking for gummies! Partly my fault since we do give her a vitamin gummie so she then thinks she can have a bag. She will cry for pizza for breakfast and ice cream just before dinner. It is like she could eat all the time.
#10 – They can fall asleep anywhere
In the car, on the floor, across your lap, any where other than their crib or bed. My favorite was after a long day and a missed nap, she walked in the house, boots and snow coat still on, scuffled over to her toy couch and face dived into the cushion and just laid there.
Motherhood and all its craziness, I mean greatness! More motherhood reads here:
- When You Give A Two Year Old A Mini Shopping Cart
- The Best Parenting Advice I Can Give
- Sunday Morning and Poison Control
“Play-Doht” – Lo’s mispronunciation of Play-Doh. The t is not silent. No, definitely not silent. Who knew after so much consideration on her birthday and holiday presents, after money spent, that through it all, Play-Doh would rise to the top of her favorite toy list?
I did not expect such a hit from my daughter who is driven by her imagination and thoroughly loves make believe. No, not at all. My two-year old tends to entertain herself well with passed down Barbies and plenty of baby dolls. She talks to herself as she lugs her doll through the house, with a diaper bag over her little shoulder and a bottle in her hand. But, mention the word Play-Doh and she drops her toys and stops in her tracks and runs to the dining room table. I have at least successfully taught her that the we only play with Play-Doh at the table.
It wasn’t until she laid there lips slightly puckered upward, those big round eyes closed with her naturally long lashes whispering against her face and her tiny baby hands clutched into fists that I watched and wondered her dreams. She was so peaceful. The home was so quiet. Her beauty so breathtaking that the clock had passed two minutes before I realized I had just sat there starring at her with a smile on my face.
A true genuine smile that slowly faded and a pang in my gut and an incredible sense of guilt overcame my body. I felt heartbroken in that instant. Heartbroken for my beauty as she rested her head on a big comfy pillow with her legs across mine.
Happy New Year’s Eve! Wow. Another year. How does this happen? How does time move so suddenly? How are we going to be joining together to count down from 10 this evening and kiss at the stroke of midnight to celebrate the turn of a New Year?
I feel relieved that the year is over, yet blessed that I have had this time. I feel exhausted from the stresses that occurred in 2016 and yet so grateful for every bump along the way. Mostly, I am optimistic that 2017 will be my year and your year. That good will come from the days ahead of us.
Looking back on 2016 one of the proudest accomplishments has been this space. I started to feel like 2016 was the year small successes and victories started happening. Baby steps if you will towards something much bigger for this space, my writing and for me. You are behind that, because you as a reader are also a supporter and I adore you!
There have been many great moments that have come from some of my experiences that I have translated to words here for you. These are my Top 2016 blog posts based on views. I hope you take a moment to re-read a favorite or read one you may have missed along the way.
#7 – Mama Bear Syndrome
#5 – Dear Little Sister
#1 – 10 Hotel Hacks When Traveling With Kids
So, there we are. The top 10 posts of 2016. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I really cannot express my gratitude enough. This space is therapy for me. It is finally the hobby I had been searching for. When I am having a rough moment in time, I think how I can translate what I am going through into words. When I experience pure joy, I cannot wait to share with you. So, once again, thank you.
May 2017 bless you and your family and may we look back on 2016 and seek all the good.
Logan was born on a cold winter night. Three weeks early, the little bug not yet out of my womb already earned her first tally on the parenting wall of scares. A wall we all put up the moment we find out we are to be parents. Tallies that we mark with every tumble and fall, scrap and bleed. After laboring for 5 hours, we were rushed into an emergency c-section and then there she was. All red and swollen and wide eyed.
“Where have you placed me?” I often wonder each child thinks when they enter a room full of strangers in masks and bright overhead lights piercing rays into their sweet innocent eyes. And, then they hear your voice and know they are home.
Having a child changes your perspective of the world. It happens instantaneously. For some, you recognize the change the moment the newborn is placed in your arms. Others it take a few days or weeks. Sometimes it occurs when you finally leave your child to return to work and maybe for others it isn’t until you take a moment to really slow down, look around you, reflect back and realize that you did change in that very first moment you looked your baby in the eyes.
I was a young twenty something year-old, fresh out of college and immersed in securing a position that I could define as a “career” versus a “job.” “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I recall the HR manager asked me. It was easy to answer then. “To be secure with a job in a career path I love.” Followed by, “To be a great asset to the company, so much so that I am working my way up to director status.” That was my goal. It happened.
I remember that same twenty something-year-old girl, who chased the dreams of love and marriage. Defining myself and my aspirations by the next phase of life. Remaining hopefully that soon I would be sporting a diamond on my left finger and setting a date for “I do!” Finally, it happened.
I look back now and can recall the moment that the ideological shift of worshiping my own professional success took a backseat to building a family foundation. Not long after I was pregnant and months later my daughter with big beautiful eyes stared back at me. My dream of hearing “You’re promoted” turned to “Come here, Momma.” It happened.
Up until then, I was chasing life situations. Goals that I could check off a list. Been there, done that, to-do’s being accomplished in this thing called life.
Then something happened. I quit chasing things. Instead my mind raced to my feelings and emotions and I defined myself and every success in my life by how I felt that day.
I am thirty years old. Wow. I am going to just go ahead and congratulate myself here and now for announcing that so boldly. I am thirty years old and I have fought the majority of my life to be happy. Let that sink in a second. I know I am.
Happiness has become somewhat of a dream we are all chasing, especially as Americans. We have become obsessed with being happy. You hear it all the time now, more so than ever before. “How does that make you feel?” we ask our children. “Are you happy?” Your Boss asks you during your review. As we check off life achievements we place happiness on the pedestal. A high reaching pedestal, I might add, to jump after.
I crossed that road this year. A co-worker asked me in a pretty raw, vulnerable meeting, “What motivates you?” I looked up and without missing a beat I answered, “Happiness!” I could literally read her thoughts through her non-verbal response. But, then she vocalized it and said, “Well then we aren’t aligned.”
That conversation haunted me for days, weeks and months after. Not because of her response, but because of my answer. The happiness answer.
It is not that it is not true. It is very much true. I want to be happy and happiness does motivate me. Who doesn’t want to be happy? But, why am I chasing it? When it cannot be chased.
The reality is that we as adults are chasing this very thing and as parents, we are the worse. If not for ourselves, for our children. We are so focused on making them happy humans. Think about it! I will use myself as an example to really let this sink in.
I was obsessed with taking Lo to a real Pumpkin Patch this Fall. It consumed me. I had to do it! In fact, it ruined a good Sunday with my husband because plans to attend one fell through. Lo napped at an odd time, right in the middle of the day and our hopes, well my hopes of Pumpkin Patching it, well they faded. In my mind our day together was shot. I felt more and more like a failure as I scrolled Facebook as she peacefully napped, seeing other moms and dads out at a local farm partaking in their fall event. I placed my success as a parent on accomplishing this task. I wanted to give her that experience and I wanted to see her happy, make her happy.
We finally did it. Yeah for us! But, we never stepped foot into the pumpkin patch itself. My daughter instead was happy, content even, with the sliding boards that scattered the farm. She giggled over the bouncy balls that were thrown about a lawn surrounded by a hay bale fence and she stomped around in glee in a Silo filled with corn kernels. In fact, the farm had an over abundance of options, and more entertainment than could ever keep my two-year old laughing and playing for hours, maybe even days on end. Although, after an hour she climbed into the stroller and was ready for a nap, grabbing her blanket and binkie and quietly watching the hundreds of kids play around her, as I pushed her through the field.
The point is she had no clue we drove two hours to this farm festival. She had no clue that this was the one thing her own mother drove herself crazy for weeks to accomplish. She could not tell you if you asked her right now what we did and where we went. Yes, she was happy at the time, but she also was content during the commute home as she watched Frozen from the DVD player and she was laughing as we stopped at Panera Bread to get her Mac N’ Cheese for dinner.
To dig even deeper, I am sure if we never even went, and spent that weekend at home on the swing or playing hide n’ seek for the 800th time, my daughter would have sported the same smile and giggle.
We become so paralyzed by the notion to make our kids happy. Whether you are like me and must take your child places, or you feel the need to buy them the latest toy craze or you cannot leave the super market without buying a toy, we fail to realize we are buying them the happiness we are chasing. We see it all the time, kids want to engage with us. They want to have small, meaningful connections. We as parents create yet again, this idea that we must make our children happy and we chase this happiness dream for them. And, as I stated above happiness cannot be chased.
Happiness is not a goal. It is an emotion that is the result of decisions made or living within a good moment.
It is not my job to make her happy. Instead, it is my job to make good decisions for her, until the day she can make them for herself. It is my job to worry about her being a productive human being that is respectful and decent in this world, that knows right from wrong, that respects authority, that appreciates morals and that can appreciate the life she has been given. It is my job to build her a strong foundation so that she can stand tall and shine. Maybe the most important thing I can do is to love her and care for her and to make her feel beautiful and important. To make her feel valued. It is my job to build her core and her self-confidence, much like my very own.
I realize my daughter is the focus of everything I do now. She is the source of every decision I make and the only reason my dreams that became my realities, sometimes feel like my nightmares. Chasing after a finish line that I believed once I ripped through the ribbon, happiness would burst from the other side. Although, each and every time, I looked back, I realized happiness doesn’t just sit there like a trophy waiting to be grabbed.
When we place all of our dreams and goals on happiness we fail. Why? Because no matter how wonderful or perfect one’s world may be, just as happiness may exist in it, so does sadness, failure and exhaustion. They easily can creep in and destroy ones happiness. Maybe it lasts for 5 minutes, an hour, a few days or weeks, the point is happiness will come and go through our lives. You cannot chase it and catch it.
Instead, contentment is what we should strive for. I can feel defeated from a bad day, but still hold my head high because I am content. I can feel like a failure of a mom because I don’t want to work 55+ hour weeks with a daughter at home, but feel content as I lay my head on my pillow to sleep knowing my daughter has a hard working, independent mom she can one day look up to.
And, for our children this too should be what we strive for. Who cares if they are happy? You are going make them turn off a video game for dinner, take away the iPad out of punishment, make them finish their peas, set them in timeout, tell them, “no,” tell them “we cannot afford that,” and send them to their room. Guess what? They will not be happy. They will be hurt, sad, mad, frustrated, and probably yell, “I hate you,” and slam a door in your face, maybe even a couple times before they turn into adults and move out. But through the emotions, when happiness cannot be found, when you have worked hard to create a decent human being that is loved, they too will lay their head on their pillow and feel contentment and not even know it. And, that, well that is why I could care less about happiness and that is what I define as success worth chasing.