Friday, May 11, 2018

Mother's Day

I gave up my sleep. I think that was the first thing to go. From the second I was pregnant, I was uncomfortable and practically an insomniac. People would always joke that it was my body's way of prepping me for the lack of sleep that comes with a newborn...and, of course, the word "joke" is used quite loosely here, because we all know that there's nothing funny about a pregnant woman who can't sleep.

My body. I gave that up, too. There are some women who get pregnant and have just the most precious bump with this glow that could make angels sing hymns of praise quietly in the background wherever she roams. And I was not one of those women. Cute little baby bump morphed quickly into "WOOOOOOOAH BABY" bump. The "glow" for me was just sweat from being nauseous constantly. Stretch marks etched themselves into my skin, like they were really hoping I would take up a side-gig as a zebra somewhere once the child was born. Everything I ate, drank, breathed, read, listened to was given a one-way ticket to the innocent life growing inside me, which is both remarkable and stressful beyond all understanding.

The sacrifice of my body went well beyond the pregnancy. The contractions came, but the progression of labor did not, and after days (with an 's', multiple days, emphasis on the plural here) of laboring, I was thrust into an emergency C-section. Exhaustion with no rest to be had. A new baby with no instruction manual. I couldn't move without tears of pain. I couldn't properly feed her because my hormones were so messed up. I couldn't think straight because of my pain and my hormones...

And I did this all over again for a second child. (Although, the second time around, we scheduled the C-section. I did not have the strength for a full-fledged, no-edits-made round two.)

BUT...if I went back in time, I wouldn't change a thing. I would keep it all the same. Every second of it. The phantom pains in my body that I still experience after all of this time. The loss of nerves in my stomach from the incision to bring you both into this world. The pain in my heart from the cries of a colicky baby, and the fatigue of my arms from holding her for hours at a time while she screamed. The tears that I shed as I gave him Benadryl again and again, praying I could figure out what to feed him so he could gain weight and stay free from hives. The pressure that hangs on me regularly, because I always have to convince myself that I'm not (entirely) screwing it all up...

Yes. I would do it all over again. Because the joy that they both bring into my life cannot be measured or contained. There are moments throughout each and every week that make me catch my breath, where I desperately try to hold onto their genuine goodness and remember all the small details of that quick timeframe. Abby checking in on a kid on the other soccer team after he scrapes his knee on the field. The sound of Teddy's not-so-little pitter-patter as he races in to tell me he's finished up another puzzle, with more pieces, all by himself. The endless art projects. The snuggles on the couch in the early morning. The cries for just one more story before bed...

My children have already begun to grow into compassionate, thoughtful, intelligent, sassy humans. "Pride is not the word I'm looking for...there is so much more inside me now..."

This weekend is a time to celebrate mothers, but really, I'm celebrating my kids. I'm a totally changed person, inside and out, because of who they were, who they are, and who they will be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Lacking simplicity

It broke my heart when I logged into this age-old site and realized that my last true post was in 2016. Has it really been that long? Have I put off writing to that extent?

I even checked my other projects - little things here and there that I've been working on, including a journal that I used to keep daily. The last entry of any kind was well over a year ago.

My initial reaction was to cuss under my breath about how tapped out I am at the end of my work day. My job requires a level of concentration, multi-tasking, organization and emotional detachment that is well beyond anything I've ever had to do. And, although that is definitely a huge part of it all, that's not the "real" reason for me abandoning a creative outlet that has brought me joy for as long as I can remember.

Truthfully, it boils down to one thing:  A lack of simplicity.

I've trudged through some of the most complex and difficult moments of my life since 2016. The only true take-away from it all has been that life is layered. Grace is that bottom layer that I'm constantly digging towards, and joy and peace are interwoven throughout...but it sure feels like I keep getting stuck in these multi-layered situations where I can't even figure out how to emotionally process everything.

My kids are both getting older, whether I want to fully acknowledge and/or accept it. I'm trying to hold on to the sweet and sassy moments that make me laugh absurdly hard. I'm also digging deep into the wells of my motherly patience in new ways. I'm trying not to lose my mind when my three-year-old gets out of bed for the hundredth time because we didn't snuggle with a particular stuffed animal. I know that snuggle time with him and a pint-sized, overly-fluffy Chewbacca doll is a fleeting thing, so, I dig deep. The multiple outfits that are strewn across my daughter's bedroom at any given point make a stupid amount of laundry for me, but she's also figuring out her own little style before she wanders into kindergarten next fall...Dig deep, Pam. It's all new, and exhausting, and wonderful. As tired as I am, I don't want my stress and exhaustion from all of the other nonsense in my life to force me to miss it.

See? Layers.

I'm getting older. I tried my best to prevent that from happening, but there ya go. I'm marking the big 3-0 this fall - and THAT is hitting me hard. Thirty always seemed like this far-off number where I would truly have my shit together. It's not that I don't entirely have my shit together. I put my big-girl pants on every morning, one leg at a time, just like everyone else. But isn't there supposed to be some magical moment in which I fully understand the stock market, or bitcoin, or why youtubers who scream at the TV while they play videogames will make more money in one day than I ever will in a lifetime? Is there ever going to be a moment where I won't panic every time my doorbell rings unexpectedly, because God forbid someone come into my house unannounced? I just had high expectations of myself. A clean house on a regular basis, a well-rounded knowledge of both wine and whiskey...you know, adult-y things.

To add to the whole "getting older" theme going on here...Tim and I are getting older together. We talked about that in the marriage vows and all, but it really shouldn't be happening this fast. We literally applauded ourselves because we were able to get through not just one, but TWO movies this week without falling asleep on the couch. Beyond the aging, we've gone through some heavy, heavy things together in recent years. We've changed as individuals, and our dynamic as a couple has changed, and I don't really know when that happened. It's not bad - it's 100% certifiable every day life, and it's expected in a relationship. It's shocking to look back and view the milestones that we've crossed...and again, I've found joy and peace woven throughout.

Getting older isn't the problem. It's the fact that life has thrown me wave after wave of moments and choices and sacrifices that never have fully-good or fully-bad outcomes. It's complex, challenging and terrifying. Writing forces me to chisel words into the developing wrinkles on my forehead and the permanent rings under my eyes. It's uncomfortable. So uncomfortable that I've been avoiding it, rather than embracing it.

So...with any luck, the trials and tribulations have (temporarily) passed. And with determination and caffeine, I'll hopefully have the patience and the stamina to let my fingers fly over the keyboard more than once every two years.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Groundhog Day

"Hun. Could you get up and get him. Please?"

Another 5 AM wake-up call after a night where Teddy woke up once in the middle of the night. Wait - maybe it was twice. I can't remember. (Although I can remember running into the door frame as I went to get him back to sleep.)

Tim doesn't usually answer my request right away, because we are both secretly giving in to that amnesia state of mind where Teddy falls back asleep, both kids sleep past 7 AM, Clinton and Trump drop out of the presidential race, and all is right with the world.

But, after a few moments of Teddy squawking - followed by him banging his paci against the crib's bars of oppression - Tim rolls out of bed and trudges towards the door. It's our unspoken contract:  I get up with Teddy in the night, and he lets me sleep in for an extra fifteen minutes so I can be a kinder, gentler soul.

Fast-forward to 7:30 AM, where Tim is kissing foreheads and running out the door while I'm pouring myself a strong cup of coffee. Breakfast gets made, put on the table, partially eaten and thrown everywhere. I send the kids off to seek and destroy play while I clean up the Cheerio carnage, all while downing my own bowl of Moses-knows-what.

Playdough, play dates, bikes, blocks, pretend kitchen, arts and crafts...this section of the day features my better mom moments, where Patient Pam reigns and the kids are in pretty decent moods.

12 PM:  Lunch time (the one meal that isn't thrown all over creation and back), followed by nap time for Ted and "quiet time" for Abby. "Quiet time" is a pretty relative phrase. It's mostly a "play independently in your room and don't you dare wake the 19-month-old while I lay on the couch in a comatose state for 20 minutes" time.

Everything past that point is a bit of a crap shoot. I realize that the house looks like a grizzly bear had a dance-off with Hurricane Katrina, and I desperately try to clean anything to make it look like I'm a competent adult that adults on a regular basis. I'm usually fielding work calls, emails and texts around this point, too, all while Teddy gets more and more anxious about the fact that I'm refusing to sit with him on the couch and watch Leapfrog or Sesame Street episodes for the seventieth time.

4:30 PM:  Dinner prep. Or, more accurately, "the hour of reckoning", where I lock the kids out of my pitifully small kitchen in order to protect them from the stove. I frantically try to cook something that can be eaten by my picky daughter AND my allergen-ridden son AND still taste desirable to myself and Tim.

Locking my kids out of the kitchen is, of course, perceived by both my children to be a sign of me shutting them out of my life forever and ensuring them that they will never eat or drink again.

I toss graham crackers over the gate like I'm feeding leaves to the giraffes at the Detroit Zoo. This ensures me incremental .75 seconds of peace and ensures that my children won't even try a single bite of whatever the hell I'm serving for dinner.

Dinner is served around 5 PM. I eat it cold. The sight of the dishes in the sink make me literally lay on the hardwood floor in exhaustion. The kids crawl on top of me in fits of alternating giggles and sibling rage (because one is taking up too much space on mommy and it's not their turn and so on).

The rest of the evening is a cyclone of daddy-coming-home-let's-play-bath-time-bed-time. I lay on the couch after it's all said and done like a defenseless slug, a shell of a human being, who still has emails to answer. I fall asleep on the couch halfway through a glass of wine and ten seconds into a show that I've been trying to watch for weeks, waking to Tim's gentle shake of my shoulder so I can slupp my way up the stairs.

I sleep for ten seconds, and it's 3 AM, and Teddy's awake. I somehow make it down the stairs, pour him a sippy, give him a couple of quick drinks, and put him back to bed. It takes twenty minutes - tops - but it always feels so much longer than that in Lack-O-Sleep-Ville.

My head grazes the pillow. It's 5 AM. And Teddy's awake.

"Hun. Could you get up and get him. Please?"

___

Parenting really is Groundhog Day. But it all happens in such a way that major milestones happen and you don't even fully realize it until the moment has flown by.

We blink, and Teddy moves up to the toddler room at school.

We blink, and Abby is practicing writing her name with a colored pencil on construction paper, her tongue stuck out in concentration and her eyes so focused they could set the paper on fire.

Doctors appointments happen five blinks from now, where we're told Teddy has exploded in height, hence the pants that are too short and super loose around the waist. At the sixth blink, Abby needs new shoes, and she insists on ones that flash so she can endlessly entertain herself by jumping down a darkened hallway in the house. At the seventh blink, Teddy is pointing to his crib to put himself to bed - not wanting to snuggle anyone but his stuffed turtle and pacifier.

...I'm so exhausted I can barely move, let alone write, but I don't want to close my eyes to go to bed. Another set of blinks will propel us all forward. I'm not ready for that.

Although I am definitely, definitely ready to start sleeping past 5 AM.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Keep moving forward

It's been ages since I've written up a blog.  And truthfully, it's not for a lack of trying - it's embarrassing how many half-hearted, lousy entries I have drafted and stored away, never to be seen by anyone but me.  (Well, me AND the NSA.)

I keep stumbling upon topics that make me unbelievably passionate, topics that have me stewing for the entire day as I mull over ways to say what I want to say.  As soon as I get to the keyboard, though, I blank.

...Actually, it isn't blanking.  It's almost as if my brain is shutting down before I allow myself to spill out all of the pent up frustration and emotion that I've been twisting and twirling endlessly in my head.  A cross between mental fatigue and a safeguard.

For example, the whole story regarding the gorilla and the three year old threw me into this downward spiral of reading way. too. damn. much.  I read articles about what happened, and then the comments on those articles (which, might I add, is a one-way ticket to hating humanity for me).  Then I read through the mindless memes that people plastered over their Facebook pages - one in particular was of the gorilla saying something to the tune of "I was taking better care of the kid than its mother".

Then I read the multitude of blog articles, supporting what I will snarkily call "The Common Sense Clause" in which the toddler *feigned gasp of surprise* is more important than the gorilla, and the mother *more dramatic feigned gasp of surprise* had a moment of sheer, you know, motherhood when her toddler bolted from her.

So, I developed the rhetoric in my mind.  I layered the sass with the facts, figured out the exact tone I wanted to use throughout the blog, and sat down at the computer...

....Only to think "Screw it.  It's not worth it."

The same can be said for the political situation that our country has thrown itself into.  As far as how we look on an international scale, we're currently somewhere in the vicinity of a reality TV show that hasn't ever seen a rating above that of "Caillou".  I am disgusted and mortified for the state of our nation, where we're continuously distracted from the corruption of those that govern us by senseless and divisive issues.

The horrendous shooting in Orlando is an ideal example of this.  Over 50 people lost their lives.  Unmade beds and unfolded laundry in baskets.  Endless piles of tissues by mothers' bedsides, baby photo albums left open on coffee tables, covered in tears.  The phones of the dead ringing over and over and over again as friends cross the bridge to the cold, cruel reality that the only voice that will ever answer will be that of the voicemail greeting.

But what has my Facebook feed been flooded with?  Pure, unadulterated, scathing, hateful, bashing bullshit.  "Obama is a spineless leader."  "Trump will take any opportunity to get the Muslims out."  "This is all because of the gun laws."  "You're trying to take away my rights as opposed to going after the terrorists."  And on and on and on and on and on and on andthenoiseneverstopsandit'smaddeningbeyondallcomprehension.

We, as a nation, couldn't even allow for one 24-hour period where we mourned the dead and focused on holding up our brothers and sisters who are suffering from crippling grief and fear.  We, as a nation, couldn't put aside political pandering and buffers that continuously prevent us as nation to fully love the way that we are all called to love.  We, as a nation, failed - and we are all pointing our fingers at the other side like toddlers with tear-stained faces, screaming "It's all their fault".

And, yet again, I sit down to write - and I can't fully formulate a comprehensive thought.

I don't lack for inspiration.  I lack the hope that words calling for compassion and kindness will fall on deaf ears.  When a call for prayers is met with spitting "Prayers don't work, time for action," and a call for action is met with a sneering "You're not turned enough towards God, so it won't make a difference," the whole world is forced into a standstill when we should be actively striving to love one another.

So, for the people out there who are feeling fatigued and frustrated beyond belief:  I hear you, and I love you.  Keep moving forward in action and prayer and however else you can promote peace, even when the rest of the world batters you into a feeling of hopelessness.



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

CHAOS.

The word "overwhelmed" seems to resonate in my life at this point in time.

For starters, our world has been rattled by our six-month-old son over the past three weeks.  What started as a double ear infection quickly turned into the realization that he is highly allergic to amoxicillen.  After being referred to an allergist and watching the poor little guy endure a skin test, we learned that he's also highly (if not severely) allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts.  Shortly after the skin test, he got a ridiculously bizarre GI bug that spun out of control and dovetailed into another allergic reaction, resulting in one ER trip, one abdominal ultrasound, one blood test, and a total of five doctors' office visits over the course of seven days.  He's fine now...but, let's be real...

My friends - the past three weeks have royally sucked.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around Teddy's allergies.  Can you imagine a world without cheese?  Because I can't.  Cheese is a staple in my life.  A life without cheese is a life without culinary joy.  You may think I'm exaggerating, but you clearly haven't seen the bottom drawer of my fridge...

On a more serious note, though, moving to a more vegan lifestyle is only slightly daunting for me.  We'll do what we have to at home to keep Teddy healthy.  What concerns me is what happens once he leaves our house.  I really don't want to be that parent who has to send their kid out in a hamster ball, but I also know that my husband and I have to fill a new role of "advocate" as well as "parent," where we monitor everything that our child comes into contact with until he's old enough to know what he can and cannot have.  As for the fear of what could happen when he's out and about...I'm keeping that at bay right now.  I just can't deal with it at this point in time.

This is the overriding stress in my life right now, but there are a plethora of other "little factors" that are certainly contributing to my nail biting and short temper:

(1) Abby has completely regressed in regards to potty training.  We're starting over from square one.  I can't really be upset with her about it - life has been very difficult for the past couple of weeks, and she's just controlling what little bit that she can.  But, even though I'm not upset with her specifically, I'm so frustrated that we have to go through the pain of potty training again.

(2) Work has been wonderfully challenging and rewarding on a multitude of levels, but I continuously feel a sense of workaholic guilt.  This job goes beyond the label of "job" for me.  It's step one to God's greater calling for my life - a calling to ministry.  I'm growing deeper into my faith and love of Christ, and I am really excited for the promising changes that we can expect to see on campus this year.  I'm just trying to learn how to work at a part-time status when I want to give full-time+, all while still maintaining a healthy life-work balance.

(3) My home.  My home.  I hate the condition that my home is perpetually in.  It seems like, no matter what I do, no matter how much I pick up during the day and perform disaster recovery when the kids go to bed, some furry, fat monster comes forward in the middle of the night and barfs up a ground-covering spew of dust, goldfish crumbs, and baby toys.  It's like an every day manifestation of Martha Stewart's broken dreams.

(4) What the heck is the secret to staying fit with two small children?  I eat healthy, I'm not even remotely worried about that.  But getting workouts in?  It's freaking laughable.  "Work out when the kids nap," you say.  They don't nap.  Ever.  And they especially don't nap at the same time.  "Work out when they go to bed," you suggest.  After the previously-mentioned disaster recovery, I typically fall asleep on the couch within 45 minutes.  I won't even allow you to toy with the notion that I'll wake up before the children (meaning around 5-5:30 AM) to exercise.  I'm still waking up two or three times a night.  The thought of losing more sleep makes me want to vomit.

So, my friends, that's where I'm at in life right now.  I'm hoping to experience a sense of calm in the coming month or two, but I'm not counting on it...I'm learning to operate fairly well at a decent level of chaos.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Random thoughts

I haven't had much for a full blog post lately, so rather than waiting for inspiration to strike in my brain, I thought I'd jot down some of the more prominent thoughts:

1.  New job, new beginnings.

As of last week, I officially became the Director of Catholic Campus Ministry at Oakland University through St. John Fisher.  God truly blessed me (and my family) with this position.  For starters, a life in ministry has been tugging at my heartstrings for a long, long time - I just never felt that I was...well..."religious enough" for such a position.  Little did I know that there were many people in my life who felt the exact opposite and have been pulling for me to get into this line of work for years.

Furthermore, this job a.) is part-time for this year, but has the potential to grow into full-time (meaning I get tons of my time with my kidlets while they're itty bitty, and then when they go off to school, I can go back to work), b.) pays well enough to justify the cost of daycare for two kids and still bring home a bit o' bacon, c.) encourages me to continue researching, reading and challenging myself and my faith, and d.) surrounds me with people that I can have intelligent conversations - sometimes heated debates - with, but it's in a respectful and open environment.  I love that.  This is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

2.  The kidlets' first day at school.

With the beginning of a new job brings the whole category F5 tornado of emotions that is dropping the kids off at daycare.  Excitement to be alone for a few hours and have an adult conversation, guilt for feeling excited, dread that I didn't pack enough of everything for them, fear that my son would hate his day...

My daughter I wasn't too worried about - after all, she was going back into the same classroom with the same teachers and the same kids.  Plus, my daughter thrives on activity.  She loves being busy, engaged and creative...so although there were a few moments of shyness in the morning, she moved right past them after a few minutes of snuggles and enjoyed the rest of her day.

My son, though...my son and I haven't been apart for more than a few hours since he was born.  We're thick as thieves, he and I.  So, despite the fact that I completely trust the ladies in the infant room (let's face it - if they could handle my daughter as a baby, they can handle anybody), dropping Teddy off in the morning was rough.  He cried his "Wait - why are you abandoning me?!" cry, and I let my tear drops fall right on into my coffee as I drove to work.

That being said, though - every picture that was taken of my hunka chunka's first day had nothing but smiles, smiles and more smiles.  When I picked him up, he was exhausted but happy as a clam.  My daughter squealed and ran to me, shouting "Mommy!!  You came back!  I'm so happy!", and her teachers claimed the only rough moment of the day was when she saw her baby brother and couldn't go be with him.  Cue the sound of my melting heart.

3.  Pinterest fails.

My hubby and I are trying to lose weight (and both doing well, I might add).  That being said, our diet is getting a bit boring, and I'm constantly trying to find new recipes that are quick, yummy, and super healthy.

But Pinterest...oh Pinterest.  Pinterest is doing nothing more than inspiring me to be an absolute fatty lately.

For example:  When I do a general search for "healthy recipes" under the "Food & Drink" category, I don't particularly want a step-by-step tutorial on bacon-wrapped onion rings that you can throw on the grill.  Or on how to deep fry your own elephant ears.  Or the different versions of buttercream frosting that you can lick straight out of the damn bowl like a sugar-crazed child delicately dab onto your homemade banana cupcakes.

And, might I add, there's really only so much you can do with quinoa.  I get it.  It's the newest super food with tons of protein and goodness and blah blah blah...

Just show me different ways to cook up a chicken breast and give me some new ideas for veggie side dishes.  That's all I ask.

4.  A quick home rant.

I live in a pretty rural area of Michigan, but we just so happened to pick one of the few homes in the area that's actually in a somewhat cramped subdivision.  I'm not crazy about it, but we have a beautiful and spacious home in a safe neighborhood, and there's a little bit of room for our kids to play...

That being said, there are a couple of things that are making me twitch these days...

A.)  While grilling up some chicken the other weekend, our neighbors were sitting on their deck, and they shouted over to us "HEY!!  That smells great!  Come on over for drinks if you want!"

Even though they were being neighborly and sweet, I legitimately can't stand the fact that my house is so close to other homes that people can freakin' smell what I'm cooking for dinner.

B.)  In my experiences in life, people generally mow their lawns on the weekend.  So, Saturday and Sunday afternoons have a tendency to be kind of loud and obnoxious, but after that, it's quiet.

Nope!  Not in my neighborhood!

People here feel the need to fire up their mowers (and every other stupidly loud lawn gadget) every day and every night.  No, really.  I'm home every day and every night, so I can guarantee you that on any given moment, someone will be cutting their grass.  And it's not like it just ends at six o'clock when people have dinner.  We have people that cut their grass at nine o'clock at night.  They don't even break for federal holidays!  My neighbor two doors down fired up his riding mower at 9:13 PM last night!!!

What good is a summer night when all I hear is
 
*BRRRRRRRRROOOOOOWWWWWWWWMMMMMMMMMM
putter putter putter
BROWWWWWWWWMMMMMM*


Well, that's all I've got for this evening, friends.  Sorry for the schizophrenic styling.  Better to write a little than to not write at all, though.  Have a great week!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dear soon-to-be-mommies

Dear soon-to-be-mommies:  

Hi.  

I feel compelled to write this because of recent events in my life.  I'm going to preface this whole letter to you by telling you that I love my children to the point where my heart physically aches.  

Now, moving on:

There are some of you who have read every article under the sun, discussed a multitude of topics with a plethora of mommies, and have even taken part of the raising of a child in some capacity or another.  There are others of you who have never even held a baby, who are terrified of what's to come, and who feel guilty because of that terror.  

There are some of you who have had magnificent pregnancies where you've been glowing from head to toe the entire time.  There are others of you who are convinced the "glow" is sweat...sweat that comes before and after puking throughout the whole. damn. pregnancy.

Some of you want to breastfeed, and some of you can't imagine restricting your life in that capacity.  Some of you want to use disposable diapers, and some of you will tackle cloth diapering.  Some of you will only allow fifteen minutes of educational screen time, and some of you are planing on raising your children on strict television diet of Archer and Jurassic Park.

Save for maybe that last one...I'm going to promise you - It's alright.  You've got this.

And, no matter what you choose, most of the time it's really not that big of a deal.  

Let me explain where I'm coming from on all of this.  I have been both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom.  I know what it's like to be home with my kids with very little support network (simply because of where we are geographically located) and I know the routine can be both ridiculously rewarding and absolutely grueling at the same time.  I have treasured the snuggles, the smiles, the baby milestones that I've witnessed only because of my time at home with them, and I've also locked myself in the bathroom for a minute and shed a few tears just because of the overwhelming loneliness and the longing for a newspaper and a cup of coffee (or a few shots of tequila with a good friend - it all depends on the day).  Every single day, no matter where I am at, or what the situation is, I take a deep breath and say "It's alright.  You've got this."

I chose to be a stay-at-home mom because of where we were at in life and the need for a stable environment for my children during tumultuous times.  I'm choosing to go back to work part-time because I feel like I'm a more patient mother who can spend better quality time with her kids after a couple of days of work.  After a ridiculous amount of time feeling guilty about this, I've realized that it's really not that big of a deal.  What works for me and for my kids is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum of what works for other families.  My daughter thrives in daycare, and other children do better at home.  One situation isn't particularly better than the other...and again, it's really not that big of a deal.  

Why am I stressing these points?  Because we are currently engrossed in a culture where everyone is an expert in something and the internet is teeming with articles on how to raise your kids to be intelligent/empathetic/hard-working/independent/compassionate/self-reliant and so on.  All of these opinions are helpful and wonderful, but not a single one of them will every completely work for your kid.  You have to figure out what works for you, and then dance away to those fresh, newly-discovered beats.

It goes beyond that, though.  This part of my letter to you is probably going to put me in a bit of hot water, but whatever:

There will be days where you wake up and think "I really just want to go out and get breakfast alone like I used to."  There will be days that your toddler is acting like an inconsiderate and slightly overbearing dictator, and you will be - literally - shaking with anger over the DUMBEST THING IMAGINABLE.  You will miss your old life, and there will be moments where you're holding your crying baby and you'll think "God...this kind of sucks."  

That's ok.  

When you realize that you are absolutely burnt out, find some capacity to "walk away."  Whether it's going for a long drive and burning a tank of gas while your kids sleep so you can sip on a coffee and listen to NPR, hanging out with a friend and quietly ranting about your children while they play in the other room, calling your mom and having a good cry...even actually physically walking away from your child who is on their second or third hour of screaming for a minute or two is completely alright.  Just like your kids, you will have good days and you will have bad days.  You know you're a good mommy when you find a way to start over.

That's not as hard as it sounds, really.  I can't tell you how many times my daughter has pissed me off to the max, only to come up ten seconds later and do something so stinking cute that my heart of stone melts into a puddle.  (Her newest trick is to come up to me when I'm clearly frustrated, sit down next to me and pat my leg like an old friend.  "Hi mommy.  How are you?  Are you feeling better?")

So.  Don't panic.  Try not to hyperventilate every time you look at the bassinet, and stop searching feverishly through message boards when you wake up in the middle of the night to pee.  You will have good days, you will have bad days - and you will be blown away by how much you love your little peanut regardless.  

And, if you need someone to be real with you who won't blow rainbows and sunshine up your ass every ten seconds - you know where to find me.

Love,
Pam