Thursday, January 26, 2012

A few miscellaneous thoughts on motherhood

1) This is what I look like after a 14 hour toddler day during H's bath. I'm not sad, I'm not particularly overjoyed, I'm just...tired. cc will catch me in this mode and say "What's wrong?" and I can only answer... "Nothing. I'm just tired." To the bone, yo.

2) I've really embraced Middle Way/mix-and-match parenting as I approach the 2 year mark. Meaning? I used to be super... pure when it came to things like breastfeeding and cloth diapers. As in, all or nothing. If I used a disposable, I felt actual guilt and felt the need to justify it. And formula? No. The 10 months she let me nurse her, she never tasted it. Once again, I felt like I'd be cheating at...something.

So even tho at 5 months in, my soul was crying out for a break (nips all busted up, hadn't slept more than an hour in months), I wouldn't let myself even entertain the thought of bottles and powder. Even tho the thought of it sounded so utterly restful. Of course it's complicated, because ultimately I'm glad I stuck with it and did grow to love it -- but there was no reason I couldn't have taken a break here and there with some Similac. (Which, by the by, Harper adored once she pushed my boobs out of the picture for good. Like, she thought it was candy.)

But then a bunch of shit happened in our lives. And I realized all these little details -- diapers and milk and pacifiers -- don't really matter all that much in the big scheme. All these tiny people will grow up to be big people who eat grilled cheese and drink beer and won't be walking around "Oh hey! My mom was an Attachment Parent and never let me cry it out and I don't know who Elmo is. Wanna go out sometime?" Oof.

No one that matters will care how you handle the details, as long as your baby is healthy and happy and well cared for. And many, many different routes can accomplish that. Obvious maybe, but I just didn't see it that way a year ago. I beat myself up when I had to give up cloth for long stretches. I had so much other stuff to do suddenly, but felt like a failure because I was having to use disposables. When I let Harper start watching a little TV here and there, I could barely swallow for all the guilt. If non-organic food slipped past her lips, I felt a pang of worry about the future of her intestinal tract. It was exhausting.

So then I got some no joke perspective. And I started to loosen up a little, sometimes a lot. I adopted more of a 85/15 policy with my food stuff and my TV stuff and, really, all the stuff. Life is nutty and hard and weird enough without random rules thrown at me by, uh, me. Of course everyone's version of 85/15 is different, which is why the world is fun.

Right now, I use a pretty even mix of cloth and disposables. Right now, I feed Harps organic stuff at home, but don't give it a second thought when we're eating out or at a friend's house or on a long car ride. Right now, I let her watch TV:

Because I know there is always hours and hours and hours of this:

And, hey, I still think it's cool to hold onto pure for the things you really care about. Even if it's a little crazy to the outside world. Like, I don't put my own TV shows on during the day. And she only watches Netflix stuff, so no commercials for her eyes. Or I keep her seat facing backward. Also, I'm a little bit nutty about parabens. But I just can't sweat all all all the crazy stuff anymore; I'm happier this way.

3) I was chatting with a mom at the library today, and ohmygod she totally cracked the code on something for me. She's got three kids and in her words: "Once I had my second, I realized I never have to sit in a godd*mn circle ever again." Meaning, she suddenly had no time for all the millions of classes we haul our first borns around to and she just as suddenly realized she was relieved.

Both Harps and I need our ka-tivities (music class, Friends school, pool, library, etc.) because she's hungry for it and I've gotta meet some moms. But it's not my ideal scenario. I'm quite looking forward to the future: playdates with friends in homes or at parks and then Harps getting some independent time at preschool. Because I'm much too salty for the saccharin teachers and corny songs and the whole schtick. I've been doing it for 2 years and I'm just d-u-n done.

I'm always looking around for an eye to catch and then roll together with, but no one bites! Everyone seems to be so sincere and earnest (or alternately, and this is also a no-go for me, completely checked out and bored -- come on, we all gotta sing the songs even if they suck) that I just end up feeling weird and alone.

It's like I'm already a mom of more-than-one-kid without doing the work. Le sigh.

4) Harps and I are doing a ton (this is a relative term) of housework together lately. I've let her "help" for a while now, but she can do some real tasks now and I'm finding it's a great way to keep her busy and get some stuff done at the same time. When she's whining or bored, and I can't handle all the steps of another art project, I pause and think of what actually needs to get done. Then we go do it.

Major kitchen clean-ups, laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, and -- this is my favorite -- she's an amazing kale shredder. It's been making the long winter hours while away a little bit faster, gets my house cleaner, and tires her out for the sleeping hours. Wee! Child labor!

5) Can you believe my baby's almost 2?!

That's all.


  1. I went into baby numero uno pretty set on b-feeding, cloth diapering, organic food feeding, etc. etc. and the stars aligned enough that I was able to do that for the most part. But then I got pregnant again and life was pretty tough so out when the cloth diapers, food was more processed than it had been at home (we also don't care what we eat at friends/on vacation), and life goes on. No biggie.

    I do wonder now why I'm clinging so ferociously to still breastfeeding Oliver given our thrush situation, but something in me is not ready or willing to give it up yet. But if I need to, I need to and life will go on once more.

    Finally, have I told you about how I'm 10 years younger than all the parents in B's current music class? And I'm basically treated like teen mom there? I smile and am friendly and what not and they give me these half smiles and then look at the rip in my jeans. I kind of love it. (But I do not love music class. TORTURE.)

  2. Lol! I was doing some major eye rolls the first time we went to music together. I remember leaving, thinking "did I really pay over $200 for this fruity suit?!" LOL! But I can't deny how much my kids loved it, especially the baby, and that made it worth it.
    It is nearly impossible, but I try to have a "no guilt" mothering approach. I love my kids more than anything in the world and I think I'm a pretty great mom to them. So if I'm not doing something perfect in someone else's eyes, who gives a s@#$?! My kids are happy and healthy, and that makes me MORE than happy!
    You are so right, in the big picture, a little elmo and candy isnt going to hurt them. In fact, it will probably make them more well rounded (at least that's what I tell myself :) ).

  3. Wonderful! I think this is how manyyyyyy first time moms do things (the all or nothing). I did it a lot myself... I remember I almost passed out & died when my family gave Everly a drink of 7up at about 8 months old, as if that one drink would addict her to sugar and mess up her metabolism forever.

    Oh, what a waste of time that was. Not that I'd let them stuff her face full of brownies, but you get it.

    Once you have your next baby, it will be interesting to see what else you learn/how your mothering style changes (if it does). :) Constantly evolving and adjusting I suppose... but man you're much more... settled? the second time around, even though things become more complicated.

    I like the 85/15 approach.

  4. All Things In Moderation.

  5. Anonymous9:54 AM

    best post ever!
    I seriously had so many "things I would never do with MY child...." that changed right away. Cloth diapers? Bought a ton, did it for less than two months. We buy compostable diapers but have been known to use any kind too.

    Ben buys her munchkins to eat :) oh and right now I'm typing to you and my daughter is playing IN the dishwasher with dirty (or maybe they are clean now?) dishes. awesome.

  6. Yup, totally. Ditto. Exactly.

    In San Francisco you can get totally stuck between SUPER attachment parenting parents who want to know if the string cheese is organic and pac heights mamas who have shamed me that I'm doing my kid a disservice by not crying him out.

    Luckily through our little homebirth community there are two or three mamas who have our same "values" but cheat too :) They've become my goto mama friends for wine and coffee and hugs.

  7. Great post, Amy. Third paragraph is the best, yes, all will grow up to eat Chocolate chips from the bag and coconut shrimp, but what counts it is the time you spent letting them make a mess with watercolors or painting a are awesome.

  8. Just came across your blog by chance - I really sympathesised as I was exactly the same with my first, except that breast-feeding didn't work out and the real nappies went out of the window pretty quickly.... god the guilt!!! I'm now on to no.3 who has just turned one - my blog is about being pregnant unexpectedly with him and life since his arrival. But you know what? I did the whole guilt about breast-feeding thing all over again... but perhaps not as bad as the first time. I shall sign up to follow your blog, if that's OK, as I enjoyed it. Sarah Briggs, Cumbria, UK.

  9. how can you be so young and still be so wise? ditto anonymous: best post ever. you're so right! we need to let go of the self-inflicted guilt-trips and just BE moms, whatever way that may be for each of us. man, i wish we were neighbors. ditto with cindy too, you are awesome!

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  11. I know what you mean about mommy guilt--I used to totally hide the fact that Bowie wore disposable dipes and watched TV on a regular basis. I don't know how much of the other-mom judgment you incurred, but it's bad here. Finally one day I was just like, who cares. I breastfed like a champ, made my own baby food and a bunch of other great mom things. Why can't I just do what feels right for us, without the guilt? It can be tough, especially in the Internet age with everyone else who thinks they're doing it right breathing down our necks.

  12. p.s. I meant how much mom judgment you felt when living in SF specifically. Just wanted to clarify :)

  13. p.p.s. I just remembered a post I wrote about people not exposing their kids to Sesame Street. That was me being judgmental. But I didn't mean it about anyone specific, just in general. But still, judgy. GAH. The mommy community just needs a live and let live attitude. But, it's hard to remember that sometimes.

  14. Thank you all for your awesome comments! They totally made my day -- and so glad to hear we're all working on this stuff at the same time...

    @Nav: I think we can't tell what's worth holding onto and what's not until some time has passed. I think if it feels right, roll with it! For me, it's all about trying to figure out what *I* really want, like if I were stranded on a desert island and no one was watching!
    And I'm definitely on the younger side with these moms, but more of the issue here is it's all nannies. BORING. Also, I miss our Denver Music Together teachers -- our new lady is totally cuckoo for cocoa puffs and it bums me OUT.

    @MamaT: Yes, Harps totally loves it (tho I can tell she liked our old teacher better, too!) so I'm thankfully able to suck it up and disguise my fed-up-ness. I was a lot more into it last year; I think I'm just desperate for some non-sappy teachers!

    @Kalen: It'll be interesting to see what a second adds! I'm sure I'll get even more laidback, tho just the passing of time has done so much of that. I'm so much more relaxed and secure in my role, tho that doesn't mean I don't have lapses and feel like a fake!

    @Amanda: Everything you wrote made me LOL. Isn't it crazy how much the daily grind changes our vision? I think especially if you're home with the kiddos and have to deal with all the minute-to-minute choices. There's just no way to stay accountable for every crazy idea!! I love you guys and love that little A!

    @Gigi: I miss SF, but am kinda glad I don't have to deal with all the intense parents sometimes :) I think you're right that we all need to find our little niche we feel comfy with... but that can be so hard! You're a lucky lady you've found that :)

    @Sarah: It's comforting to hear it's not TOTally a first time mom thing, as I'm sure I'll be dealing with too-high expectations later on, too! Can't imagine juggling 3 kids, woo :)

    @Mandy: I'M NOT SO YOUNG ANYMORE. Heh. ;) But more importantly, I wish we were neighbs, too!! Le sigh.

    @Beth: Yep, SF guilt is notorious!! Only had to deal with it for a few months, but felt a lot of pressure on the breastfeeding and diaper front. And a LOT of talk about using an epidural. Yeesh, WTH do you care, ya know?
    I like your point that sometimes it helps as a little boost to list out the stellar things we DO do to remind ourselves of our fabness! I'll sometimes be like "She gets healthy and yummy food, tons of trips to the library, lots of arts and crafts, and hours of quality time with me." And then I'll whisper "She also loves Blue's Clues and I love that she loves it."


  15. sharon7:22 PM

    very interesting post. remember dr. burns and his dare to be average maxim? it still applies! to so many things. i often return to him and am newly surprised/shake my head all "oh, of course, he's right." we should invite him to tea i think.

    1. If Burnsy had tea with us, I could die happy. We'd make it lukewarm and then cheerfully yell: We're daring to be average! And he'd be disappointed, but have to smile.

  16. Little late to the party. Every kid is SO different too! I was an 85/15 from beginning with first. Failed miserably at breast feeding with her. I could not produce enough milk. (felt like a huge failure) 60/40 with the second and go with the flow third. Breastfeeding was not an option w/ number 3. Hated cloth diapering with number 2. Did better with breastfeeding with him until he was up every hour/half hour. Had a toddler to take care of and needed to function. Always have tube/game time, outside time and extra curriculars in mind. But, if they are trying their best in school (getting good grades) and are considered "good kids" I'm happy. All you have to do is put time into your kids. Older kids are 9 and 7. NO ONE ever talks about, breast feeding, diapering or how organic they are. (I remember those days)
    We go to the $2 kiddie gym and free toddler time :)

    1. You always put me in a good mood, Kristen. Love the 'good kids' thing -- too true. And THANK GOD no one talks about all this sh*t once they hit elementary school. Woot!!

  17. I was the same way in the beginning. I killed myself to breastfeed and after having postpartum depression and difficulty with latching I gave up at 6 weeks. I felt horrible which made my depression worse. I had to get on medicine, see a counselor, the whole nine, but I knew I was doing more for my baby by taking care of myself first.

    We were freakwads about organic foods, milk, no chocolate, no sweets, etc. Today at the age of 2, we give her Annie's Chocolate Grahams as a snack, we will give her a cookie after dinner, and dude she totally drank a whole cup of 7up with orange sherbet icecream at her birthday party. I'm definitely going to be more relaxed with baby #2. I just realized as long as baby is happy, mommy is happy, and we are somewhat healthy, WE are completley fine.

    LOVED this post :)

  18. Oh my I miss you so much! We are so on the same page! It snowed 2 feet here. I wish you were still in Denver so I could drag you on a walk around the park. Hugs to Harps:)

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