Wednesday, August 10, 2016

THE ONLY THING STANDING IN BETWEEN ME AND A BOOB JOB IS THE MESSAGE IT WILL SEND MY DAUGHTERS

I had a vision of how my breasts would look after having two daughters. Basically: larger than my pre-baby breasts. Not as perky, of course, but bigger.
My once-small boobs grew into actual breasts during both pregnancies, which I loved after years of wearing training bras and getting teased for being flat-chested. At long last, I was able to try on cute bras, in a size so common that I actually had several to choose from. Those are the breasts I’ve always wanted; those are the breasts I wanted to keep for the rest of my life.
ALL HAIL, PREGNANCY BOOBS!
The thing is, I had somewhat naively thought that I’d get to keep them, even after I stopped nursing. But I was in for a rude awakening: My old boobs returned once again after I weaned my second daughter — except this time, they were even smaller. In fact, I’m even tinier than I was in high school, which makes embracing my body after babies that much harder.
Read the full story on Babble

Opinion: Are You Raising Your Daughter To Be Assertive?



My daughter had said no. She’d said no twice, actually, but for some reason I seemed to be the only one who heard. Her words were clearly directed to the blonde-haired boy standing only an arm’s distance away.
How much clearer can she get? I thought as I headed from the bench toward the swings. The word “no” is not difficult to understand; there should only be one reaction – stop.
Instead he chose to try and hug her again.
Read the full story on Brain, Child

I GAVE THIS WHOLE “SELF-CARE” THING A WHIRL AND HERE’S HOW IT WENT




Self-care is important and “me time” is a must — especially when you have kids. At least, that’s the message that seems to be playing like a broken record these days. (Just give a quick scroll through your Facebook feed, and you’re bound to stumble upon an article or two that mentions it.) But as a mom of two toddlers, carving out a window of time just for myself isn’t exactly at the top of my list. As a working parent, it’s hard enough finding time to set up a play date or squeeze in a date night (that actually happens) without just adding more stress to my already-hectic schedule.

Read the full story on Babble

Thursday, August 4, 2016

When your child's independence comes before you're ready


When did I become a spectator to my daughter’s life? Once upon a time, not too long ago, I was THE key player in her daily routine – I was her chef, her consultant on all things fashion, her driver, and moral compass.

“No, on my own,” she reminds me every time I bend down to help her pull on her sparkly Toms over stubby toes and pudgy feet. She thrusts her hands out in front of her, the universal sign for  STOP!
So I watch.
Read the full story on Parent Co.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Kind of Mother I Aspire to Be

As originally published on Mamalode
Growing up I was told I can be anything.
A teacher, a school psychologist, an entrepreneur, a writer.
So I worked hard, went to school, earned my degree and landed a job I loved.
Then I got pregnant and my life deviated from the plan I had worked so hard to lay out for myself.
I found myself on a mommy track where the road is anything but straight, views of the horizon are not always clear and there are hills, sharp turns and plateaus. Becoming a mom to first one, then two girls, has caused new, unforeseen, ambitions to bloom within. It’s not enough to just want things for my girls – I need to demonstrate the traits and characteristics I want them to learn, lead by actions that will actually back up my words.
Read the full post on Mamalode

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Sharing

This story was originally featured on Coffee + Crumbs





Admittedly, teaching my daughter to share has not come easy to an only child raised by a single mom. My mom always managed to carve out time in her day to focus solely on me: my wants, my needs, my ramblings. I never had to share her time or anything else, really.
Since becoming a mother to two daughters I’ve Googled “sharing for toddlers” or “tactics for sharing” so many times that I no longer need to finish typing in the word “share” before auto fill supplies the rest of my query. So I’ve followed advice of professionals and fellow moms, eventually mixing in my own methods – a little bit of threatening, pleading and improvisation.
“Please share with your sister,” I’ll plead, “If you play nicely with her you can have a bag of gummies,” I promise.
Sometimes she doesn’t need any coaxing; instead is content with letting her sister play with her beloved Disney princesses, quietly handing over a doll as though it was second nature.
Perhaps it is my daughter who is excelling in sharing, while it is I who falters.
***
My eldest daughter adores her father. She runs to him when he returns from work every evening, her sweet voice echoing through the house, calling “daddy, daddy, daddy,” as she runs toward the door.
“Hi Goosey!” he says taking her in his arms for a hug.
That used to be me.
It is only recently that it is his arms that she reaches for during a scary scene in her favorite film, “Tangled”; wrapping her arms around his neck when the evil Mother Gothal fills the screen.
When we play pretend, he’s always the prince to whom she marries, and I’m always the evil witch. Or the sidekick, Pasqual to her Rapunzel.
I can’t help but feel envious when this happens because she prefers him to me; a switch that I did not see coming. Yet it did and has left me grappling with this feeling of jealousy.
Like a spectator, I’ll catch myself looking from afar as they settle on to the carpet to read a book or play with a puzzle. Amazed by how effortlessly they work alongside one another. And how easily my daughter’s focus turned from me to him.
Sharing, I’ve come to understand, is difficult at any age, particularly for me as I am learning to share my daughter with others.
***
Growing up, I never had to fight for my mom’s attention. It was just she and I in our one-bedroom apartment where we shared everything from a closet to a bed. Privacy was limited to the restroom and when one of us would close the bedroom door to take a phone call.
I grew accustomed to our lifestyle; weekdays were spent at home just the two of us and weekends were spent at an aunt’s house surrounded by cousins. It was during those weekend visits that I experienced what it would be like to have siblings, where we would bicker about who got to be the lead in the play we were putting together or who would get the last cherry otter pop while the other would be stuck with the Dimetapp tasting grape flavor. Other times we would band together against the older cousins who would not let us play video games, instead handing us controllers that weren’t hooked up to the Super Nintendo.
Those weekends provided a look into what I was missing – a sibling connection that included secret looks, someone there to provide support if another cousin was being extra mean – and what I was glad to not have to deal with, specifically a constant contender for a parent’s attention.
***
I got used to afternoons with her at the park, just us two, where we’d play on the swings and I’d help her on the slide. At home we played tea parties wearing princess crowns or painted in the backyard. Every Saturday morning we headed to storytime at the library where she would sit on my lap, her body falling slack onto mine as she listened to tales of runaway ducklings and hibernating bears.
These days she makes friends at the park and pushes off my lap at storytime to sit on the carpet near the librarian and other friends. I’m left reminiscing how I was once her favorite playmate; a time I now realize I should not have taken for granted.
My eldest girl is an extrovert who enjoys spending time with other children either her age or a little older.
“Hi, my name’s Brynna,” she tells children she meets at the park near our house, “I’m 2 1/2, what’s your name?”
Those days I’m forced to sit on a park bench and watch her play with a new friend.
“That used to be me,” I think watching her chase a little girl.
Back home I once again have to give up time with my daughter but this time to my husband.
As I watch her face light up when she hears her father’s voice, I quickly swallow the “don’t you want to spend time with me?” that inches up my throat, instead smiling as she instructs him to sit in the playroom and help her with a puzzle, all the while talking. Their banter is smart and witty as they play off one another.
My daughter often spends time with her dad in the kitchen as he prepares meals for the week. They are both early risers and on those mornings when he is cooking dinners for the week, I can hear them conversing from our bedroom. Sometimes it’s about plans for the day, what she did at school the past week or singing made up songs. She already turns to him for guidance, whether it be help with a puzzle or what color to paint a flower; he’s there for her.
Sharing does not come easy as I learn to hand over my daughter’s time and attention to others.
“Daddy, I’m going to marry you when I get more older,” she says one lazy Sunday afternoon. My husband and I enjoy a beer on the patio while she paints and the 9-month-old bounces in the jumper.
“How old do you have to be to marry Dad?” I inquire.
“Oh, 3 ½,” she said. “Okay, daddy?”
“Of course, Goosey,” he says.
Once again I’m an interloper watching this interaction, anxiously waiting for her to shine her light on me once more.
I simply need to wait my turn. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Little Moments


Originally posted on Parent Co. 

Constantly in a rush. Always running from one chore to the next.

Continuously reminding myself to stop, put the phone down, stop thinking and just focus.

Really focus on what she’s asking. Listen with intent to what she is saying; watch her body movements and facial expressions.

What is she really saying? How is she really feeling?

My daughter, a spirited, strong-willed, intelligent and sassy toddler, consistently asks for my undivided attention. She craves it, especially during times when she senses that her parents are only partially paying attention.

“Mama, mama, mama,” she whines, pulling on my pant leg “I need attention.”

Sometimes her demand frustrates me. “Why can’t she understand I’m busy? How does she expect to eat if I can’t have 2 seconds to cut her meat? Please give me a moment” I want to say. And sometimes I do. My Motherhood isn’t perfect. The responses I dole out are not always well-thought out, but rather, reactive.1

Other times her request fills me with so much warmth and love for her that it’s easy to stop what I’m doing and focus solely on her, “of course we can play dress up; I’d love to draw with you and of course I want to see you do a cartwheel,” fall from my mouth without a second thought.

If only it was always that simple to stop everything and just connect with my daughter. This amazing child who evokes so many feelings, namely astonishment as in “did she really just come up with that all on her own?” to unabashed pride and love, requires constant attention.

As much as I try to meet her desire for undivided attention, I fail at times. Instead of paying attention just to her I have to improvise: playing Playmobil with one hand while spooning oatmeal to my 9-month-old with the other; pulling her close to me on the couch while watching TV as the infant nurses on my lap; reading on the bedroom floor using one hand to turn the page and gesture as I act out the characters, all while using the other arm to make Elmo dance in an attempt to keep the infant happy.

Our dinner table is a phone-free island where the four of us reside if only for half-an-hour without any distractions. We use that time to connect as a family. But it’s short-lived because after dinner comes diaper changing, cleanup, and playing catch up on whatever didn’t happen earlier that day. That time to connect is not enough for my daughter.

During these busy evenings, when the house is a blur of bath times and teeth brushing, prepping lunches for school and outfits for work, a diaper bag for drop off, I improvise. It’s those moments, while I’m in the kitchen cutting fruit or tossing a prepackaged salad into my own lunch bag that I catch up with my daughter. My chatterbox is animated and all too happy to share her thoughts on her day, standing in the middle of the kitchen as I move around her.

Upstairs in her room we discuss the weather and what she believes is the best thing to wear on a sunny/cool day and I present her with two clothing options.

It’s in between these busy moments; our daily routine, that I connect with my daughter.

“What did you learn at school today?” I ask as we pick out clothes

“What was your favorite part about today?” I ask as I cradle her head in my lap to floss her teeth

“Tell me about your new friend, Lucy,” I inquire as she brings me the lunchbox.

“Okay, mama,” she responds before telling me about her schoolmate.

“Mama, are you proud of me?” She asked one recent night as we sat in the playroom at her kid-sized table – me on the floor nursing the infant with my left arm, using the right hand to help her decorate a Sofia the First coloring book page with stickers.

“Of course I’m proud of you,” I tell her, looking straight into her hazel eyes. “You’re brave and smart, and so so funny. I’m so proud of you for being nice to other kids and the way you share your toys. I am so happy that you were patient with me today when your sister was crying. You’re so amazing.”

She continues to place stickers on the page, not looking up.

“I love you forever, even when we get mad at one another,” I press on. “I love you. Always.”

The moment passes as the baby stirs; once again my attention is diverted from one daughter to the next.

“I love you always, mama”, she says.

Those five words make my day.

It’s moments like this that help me realize the importance of all those little moments that we take to connect with one another  –  no matter how brief. They mean so much to her.

And they mean everything to me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Balancing Act of Curiosity



This piece was originally featured on Parent Co. 

The nose is a mysterious cavern that must be explored every day. Sometimes hourly; sometimes every few seconds.

At least, that’s what my daughter believes.

This fascination with her nose has perplexed me on numerous occasions. Including a few months ago when she sneakily shoved a piece of corn first up one nostril, then the other. Curious, perhaps as to how it will feel or where it will go, my daughter went with her gut to conduct her experiment.

It wasn’t until she started crying and tugging at her nose that I realized something was up there. One kernel slipped out but the second one was wedged in her nostril.

“Why did you do that?” I asked her as my husband ran upstairs to get the tweezers.

“I don’t know,” she cried.

This wasn’t her first attempt at sticking something up there.

Last time it was a piece of macaroni and cheese. But she was only 1 1/2, still young and unknowing.

Why did I believe 3 is the age of maturity?

“Don’t do that again,” my husband told her after pulling out the kernel.

This daughter of mine, such a pusher of boundaries, lifted another kernel to her nose, all the while locking eyes with her dad.

“Put. It. Down,” he instructed.

She slipped the kernel into her mouth; my husband and I could barely hold in our laughter, only giving into the hilarity of the situation in the kitchen away from her watchful eyes, whispering what a little stinker our daughter can be.

I want my daughters to be curious.

I want them to try new things, to face their fears, to figure out their likes and dislikes, what they can do and what they shouldn’t do.

But their level of curiosity also brings on a certain level of frustration and fear. As their mother, their protector, I’m constantly weighing the negatives with the positives.

Should I let my toddler try to push the baby shopping cart by herself knowing she will most likely fall? What about the 3-year-old and her request to do things on her own? Do I let her try the scooter without me holding the handles?

It’s a balancing act.

Yes, she can fall off the scooter and scrape her knee, but she will learn to get up, try again. I really shouldn’t let the 1-year-old color in her sister’s coloring book, but she will quickly learn that when her sister says no, she means it.

“By myself,” my daughter commands, slightly pushing my hand off the handles of her tricycle.

I stand off to the side as her dad walks alongside her as she peddles around the cul-de-sac. On the driveway, I anxiously await their arrival when I’ll scan my daughter’s face.

Will she be crying? Will she be happy?

Either way, I’ll be here ready to cheer her on or wrap her up in a hug, kissing boo boos and applying band-aids.

I’ll always be here standing off at a distance, just in case.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

This is 33

I almost forgot today's my birthday.

Luckily I have people to remind me:






Thursday, January 28, 2016

How to never get asked to host a play date at your house

When it’s your turn to host a play date, here are some guidelines to make sure it’s the first and last time anyone will ask to come to your house. After all, some moms are made to play host, and some just aren’t.

Don’t clean – anything!: Remember those grains of rice and chunks of applesauce your kids tossed off their plates at dinner last night?

Read the full list on Sammiches Psych Meds

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This mom's search history proves YouTube was made for us

I never really got on board with YouTube when it was gaining traction a few years ago. But that was mainly because I didn’t have too many questions that required
step-by-step directions. My main areas of concern prior to raising two humans was where the best Friday night party scenes were, the difference between red and white wine, and how to pull off the Uggs with shorts look. Fast forward a few years later, and YouTube has become my go-to site for everything how-to related.

Read my list on Sammiches Psych Meds 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Brynna: What did you say?

* where do you come up with these things? I must say that about 5 times a day when talking to my daughter. It's amazing what she picks up and what she chooses to ignore.

Here are a few of the WTH did you moments that have stuck with me this past week:

Me: Brynna, go put on your pjs
Brynna: Never!
Me: ...
Brynna: I am never doing it ever again!

Me: Oh no, Brylin is being naughty
Brynna: Should we put her outside with the dogs?


Brynna from the bathroom: Hey guys! Come clean my butt
Mom: Brynna!
Brynna: PLEASSSE!

Brynna: I don't want to leave Baby Arielle (her cousin)
Me: Don't worry you'll see her again soon
Brynna: But I want to live with her.
Me: But we'l never see you again
Brynna: i want to live with her forever and ever
Alex: We'll think about it
Brynna: Are you still thinking about it, Daddy?



Thursday, January 14, 2016

Daily Connections



As featured on Lose The Cape

Being an adult in real life with real adult responsibilities is not only time consuming but exhausting. In the movies, adult life consists of brunches, long boozy lunches and kids come with nannies. In real life, being an adult raising kids is messy, stressful and often has me wishing for a pause button. If there’s anything I’ve learned since becoming a mom is how imperative it is to improvise when it comes to nurturing relationships with those important people in our lives.


How I connect with …


Teachers: Knowing my daughter’s teachers is important to me, especially since they are watching one of the most significant people in my life. Luckily, my daughter’s preschool is really big on communication. Parents get daily updates, weekly email announcements of upcoming events, and a monthly newsletter. When her teacher asked for volunteer room moms I expected to hear only mom’s who were available during school hours could sign up but I was wrong. “Maybe you can help with emails or things of that nature,” the teacher told me when I asked whether or not working moms were eligible for the position(s). So far I’ve been able to help by
making fliers and sign-up sheets special events. Email has been a huge line of communication between the school and myself as the director answers questions regarding anything from how my daughter is adjusting to school to letting them know what’s been happening at home i.e. a new baby can really shake up a toddler’s world. It’s reassuring to know I can call or email her teachers with any questions I have.

My daughters: My personal time with my kids are the late afternoon hours, right before the evening becomes a blur of picking out clothes for school, making lunches, paying bills and bath time. I’m blessed with a job that allows me to work from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. which allows me to beat traffic and still be home in time before the sun goes down. The afternoons vary depending on the week’s schedule – sometimes a doctor’s appointment will throw off our usual plans, or a play date or school event will sneak onto the calendar – but for the most part, our afternoons are spent taking walks to the park just the three of us. Sometimes my husband will join us, which is also nice. Then it’s back home for dinner, some play time and getting ready to do it all again the next day. The weekends are divided between running errands, family gathering and reconnecting as a family. Sometimes my husband will take the toddler to run errands while I stay home with the infant and tend to chores around the house – with some reality television watching thrown in. I try to use our free time wisely and really connect with my girls, whether that means visiting a pumpkin patch, story time at the library or playing in the playroom.


Friends & Family: Texting is seriously the lifeline between my friends and I. Every morning I type out a good morning or TGIF to my two closest girlfriends and we remain in contact throughout the day, keeping one another in the know. Group texting is the way I connect with family and is the simplest way to pass on photos and videos of the kids. Email is how I keep in contact with my former college roommate, passing on links to articles and catching up every few weeks. New friends, old friends: email and texting keep our friendships going strong. And many times our texting and emailing lead to setting up a day to meet up.

Husband: This may be the hardest person for me to connect with on a daily basis if only because his job requires back to back meetings and long commutes leaving little time to respond to texts or emails. Our main time to connect is in the mornings before the kids are up and it’s just the two of us getting ready for the day. We’ll talk about our schedules, plans for the day, decide who will tackle any chores that need to get done that day, and anything else that we may have forgotten to mention the night before due to little humans constant interruptions. Then like that, we are gone from one another, existing in our own orbits of work and responsibilities, finally coming back to one another at the end of the day where we check in with one another, ask about each other’s days, complain about co-workers, seek advice, turn to one another for acknowledgement or support.

At dinner, we have a no phone or TV policy, which requires the four of us to talk to one another and catch up on our day. By bedtime, we are too exhausted to have long conversations and more often than not, a toddler or infant is a buffer between us in bed. So we will whisper to one another, sharing stories we forgot to mention at dinner, or marvel at how our daughters are growing; how our lives have changed.

To the awkward moms at social gatherings: You're not alone

As originally published on Sammiches and Psych Meds

To that mom sitting in the corner at the birthday party at the bounce house, I see you.

I know that you’re not trying to hide from fellow mommies or avoid conversation. I know what it’s like to be out of your element. I get that small talk is a weakness and that it affects your self-esteem. Trust me when I say I’m right there with you.

To observers, or those who don’t know you, it’s easy to assume you purposely distance yourself from others, whether it be because you’re not in the mood to talk or are too stuck up to mingle. At least, that’s what you assume others are thinking when you catch them taking you in from across the room.

Read the full post here

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

These are the things mothers learn to forgive and forget

“I’ll never forget this,” I vowed to my husband as we drove to the hospital three years ago. “It hurts so bad.”
In that moment, it is unthinkable to imagine a time when you won’t remember how a contraction feels, the tightening and pulsating, the lightning of pain that radiates throughout your stomach and up your back as your body prepares for delivering the biggest and most important package of your life.
Those first months back home, you remember the pains of afterbirth, how your nipples ached during the first days of nursing when the baby was still learning to latch and you were worried about producing enough milk. Can you recall how uncomfortable sitting, standing, walking was during those first few weeks at home? Or how tired you were due to round-the-clock feedings and nighttime diaper changes?
Read the full story on Sammiches and Psych Meds