God bless all those southern women who
monogram every towel and tote bag
as if they’ll forget their name.
Forgive me, Lord, for wishing
they would show up in yoga pants
just once for preschool drop-off.
God bless those girls who painstakingly
apply fake eyelashes
so that someone will like their selfie.
Forgive me for not wearing make up and squinting
so hard in photos that my eyes shut, but I just don’t give
And I’m trying to forgive every man
who drives an F-150 and backs into parking spaces
at the Walmart, but some things I’m just not ready for, Lord.
When I took the Myers-Brigg in college, I fell write on the line between introvert and extrovert, and I think I still fall somewhere along that line. I like people, have lots of friends, and enjoy a good night out. BUT, I need alone time. I need quiet. I enjoy going to out to eat or a movie by myself.
And guess what? Kids do not like giving you alone time. EVER. They like to climb in your bed, eat breakfast with you, go to the bathroom with you, touch you and talk to you all day. Mae literally likes to pretend that we are stuck together with “glue.” Oh and I have someone on my boob every two hours. I’m good until about 2 PM each day, and then I need a BREAK.
I experience total sensory overload at the end of the day.
The other night after putting the kids to bed (this is a 1-2 hour process), Jimmy and I started folding laundry, and he was kindly asking me about my day, and all I could say was “I need to fold these clothes in silence,” and I really did. I could barely get words out. I needed quiet. Thankfully, my husband, an introvert, totally understands these requests.
Being an introvert goes against so much parenting advice. The experts say to narrate all that you do to your baby, so they are exposed to enough words each day. Studies say academic achievement might hinge on kids getting 30,000 words a day. No pressure. But his sister talks enough for the both of us. I feel like she hits 20,000 words by breakfast.
Mae does have “quiet time” every day, but that doesn’t mean I get quiet time since we have a second child.
I guess this is why I like being a working parent. I get quiet time in my office and my commute to work. How do introvert stay-at-home parents do it?
Mae loves storytelling. She’s a child who picks up the salt and pepper shakers at a restaurant and starts telling their story. We tell her a story each night before bed. She asks me often for a “once upon a time.”
So I should have known she’d love podcasts just like her father and me.
Children’s storytelling podcasts have become her favorite way to pass the time. She asks for a “cobcast” just about every time we get in the car, and I don’t mind giving her one because it is sans screen, keeps her quiet, and teaches her new vocabulary. Win win win.
Here are her three favorite podcasts. Do you have any to suggest? You can get them for free through a podcast app like Downcast:
Stories Podcast: lots of classic stories like Paul Bunyan!
Disney Story Central: all the Disney stories your kids already love.
Storynory: a bit more advanced but still super fun!
My parents, like many of yours, are divorced. And I’m so thankful.
My freshman year of college my parents separated. It was a tough year. But I wasn’t angry that my parents were divorcing. I was angry that if they were going to do it, they’d taken so long and waited for me, the baby, to leave the house.
And after many years and much growth, I’ve come to view their divorce as a gift. I’m no longer forced to pretend that they should be married, that they were functional together. What a relief! Kids take on all that pressure.
I also now get to decide how and when I want to spend time with them and that time isn’t intermingled with all the baggage of their relationship. My parents’ divorce allowed me to figure out what I wanted my relationship to be with each of them, instead of having to just try and survive their relationship with each other.
I know this isn’t novel for many of you, but it might be what some who are in going through a difficult marriage or divorce need to hear. Truly, your divorce can be a gift to your children.
So balancing and navigating life with a toddler and a baby takes a lot of strategy to make things work. And I’m all about figuring out how to make life go more smoothly for all of us. I’ve come upon two really helpful hacks:
- The Okay to Wake Clock + Chore Chart. We got Mae (3 years old) the Okay to Wake Clock before her brother was born because I really needed to know a predictable time she’d get out of bed in the morning. This clock glows/lights up at whatever time you want to signal that it is okay for your child to get out of bed. Mae’s time is 7:30 AM. However, Mae would not cooperate at first. Once James was born, I randomly picked up a cute chore chart at Target. You move over ice cream scoops for each chore completed, and after she gets three scoops, she gets a sticker. And she really just likes moving over the scoops and all the praise she gets. So we made “waiting for the light” a chore. Bingo! She became much more interested in cooperating. It doesn’t always work, but it helps a lot, and I can try to time things accordingly with when she gets up. For instance, I need to drink my coffee and eat breakfast before then! (Other chores on the chart are feeding the cat, tidying toys, setting the table, etc.) You can get really cool stickers for a $1 at WalMart. For Mae, it’s important to switch up the stickers to keep her interested.
This isn’t our chart, but you get the idea. I got ours for $3 at Target.
2. I turned a lower cabinet in our kitchen into Mae’s Cabinet. There are snacks and cups that she can get to. Now when I am breastfeeding James or busy with him and she asks for a snack or drink, she can do it herself! She was SOOOOO excited about this independence. She has learned to use the water function on the refrigerator too. (Yes, sometimes she makes a little mess). I realized that having to make her wait for snacks and drinks was a real issue for her. She’d get so impatient about it, so this is an awesome fix. Now she asks for a snack, and I say “Sure! You can get it yourself,” and she is so proud to do so. Major parenting win!
What are your favorite parenting hacks?
I’m sitting in the screened-in porch with a sleeping baby at my boob. It doesn’t get better than this. Well, maybe if I could have a margarita too.
I did so many deliberate things to plan for a better postpartum experience this time. I saw a psychiatrist. I started meds early. I planned self care.
But now I realize the best thing I did was tell my friends and family I needed them. The best thing I did was make myself vulnerable, say I was scared and worried, and ask for help.
Because I was open about my past experience, our village has really stepped up and taken care of us. It makes me overwhelmed just to think of all the support I’ve received. We haven’t had to cook a meal yet. That’s how many friends have brought us food over the past 6 weeks. Some of my best friends call or text to check on me weekly. They stop by just to hold the baby. They take off work to spend the day with us. They watch Mae so I can bond with James.
So I’m so thankful that I was willing to ask and receive help this time, and I am so blown away by our loved one’s, and even acquaintances’, kindness.
There is so much going on in the world to make me doubt humanity but I have been so loved, protected, and cared for, that I truly can’t question people’s goodness.
Thank you so much.
While my experience this time around has been much better in so many ways, my body was changed much more by this pregnancy.
I didn’t get a single stretch mark with Mae. I assumed that would happen again this time, and I was mistaken. So I am having to accept these new marks on my stomach and body.
Since I’m not anxious, I’m actually eating (this is a good thing), but it means the pregnancy weight is flying off me like it did last time.
Breastfeeding is going well. I’m so thankful for this. But I can see how my breasts and nipples will change the longer I nurse.
And I’m tempted to say something how about we “sacrifice our bodies” or all the we give up, but I’m really trying to re-frame my thinking about my body. If I think I sacrificed something, then that means I think my body is less than, not as good, and really I should think my body is AMAZING, and I do on good days.
My body made a big, beautiful baby boy, and then my body has continued to sustain that child with food it is providing. Think about that. My body has created and nourished a human. My breasts have provided approximately 420-500 meals already to just this baby. I’m convinced that if men could breastfeed, they would tally their meals in this way and brag to each other.
But the baby is up, and I must provide another meal, and I am trying to think of my body as a strong vessel, and all that my body can DO. My body is not just to look at; it is mainly to be used, to hug my children, kiss my husband, walk and discover the world.