A Page of One's Own

Epiphany

Aug
05

The last few months have been vulnerable for me. And as much as I say that I’m an advocate for authenticity and taking risks for connection, I hate being exposed.

I was very excited about a job opportunity about two months ago, but I tried to not let myself get too excited. I wanted to protect myself from being disappointed or hurt. With the second baby almost ready to party, Branden traveling for clinicals, and a busy 20-month-old, my options for employment right now are limited. Two months ago, I thought that I had found something that was a perfect fit. Anxiety followed the interview, along with self-doubt and the stress of trying to balance the needs of everyone in my family.

That day, I took Charlee to Petsmart to watch puppies. Her eyes lit up as she raced to the dog pen, planted herself in front of the cutest puppy, (who only wanted her for the graham cracker she held) and giggled and giggled. I watched her, untrained to mediate emotion and reaction, unaware of social norms like not getting too excited, too sad, too happy, too fearful, too much of anything–and I felt inspired. She let herself be joyful when she was happy, and tired when she was tired, and sad when she was sad. It seemed like a much better practice, the feeling what you were feeling out in the open, than protecting and faking. I watched her interact with the dog with pure joy, and I decided to lean into the discomfort of being vulnerable.

I decided to let myself be excited, joyful, disappointed, confused, or whatever else I needed to be, with the entire process of job hunting. 

I ended up getting the job and turning it down. I ended up having another offer and turning it down. I have interviewed for multiple jobs, been excited about a few, been disappointed a few times, been plenty stressed and overwhelmed, and felt extremely vulnerable the whole process.

Vulnerability is selling myself to a job.

Vulnerability is saying “I’m worth more than you are offering,” or “That’s a lot of money, but it is too much time away from my kids at this point of my life,” or “Thank you for the offer, but it isn’t going to bring me the fulfillment that I’m looking for in employment.” 

Vulnerability is saying “no” when I really want to say “yes.”

Vulnerability is telling people I am smart enough to do what they are asking.

Vulnerability is being rejected.

For me, vulnerability is a lot less about opening up, exposing myself through words, and a lot more about navigating myself. I have a husband who will probably be away when my second baby is born, and then I’ll have two kids, and I’ll be trying to make enough money for us right now, while attempting to remain sane and make time for myself–for my desires of personal fulfillment and growth.

I let myself feel this vulnerability, thanks to Charlee and her puppy friend, and it has been emotional. Self-doubt has arisen for me in interesting ways: Am I worth this amount? Am I being selfish for being picky? What if the best thing for me right now is to say no, to not work, and to trust that everything will work out?

A job recently came up that honestly would be perfect. I won’t go into details, but I have let myself feel thrilled with the prospect of doing the work that this job entails. I have gone through an extensive interviewing process. I have met with the owner of the company in person in Salt Lake. I have asked for a job to be open specifically for me, although they weren’t looking to hire. I have spent hours proving that my skill set will be an asset to their project. I have done my best.

Two nights ago, I sent in my last test after the last month of ups and downs working on different projects for this job, and I felt absolutely nothing.

After I hit send, my emotion was flat, and I had the epiphany of all epiphanies.

Although I will be blessed to get this job, I don’t really care. After hours of work and anticipation and hope, I am going to be fine either way.

Because no matter what I do, nothing will compare to the fulfillment I get from a moment with my daughter or my husband. Nothing could even touch it. 

And I don’t say this to be preachy, because I’m aware that each of our situations are different. Maybe that connection for you will be through employment (which I hope can one day be the case for me) or maybe it will be through loving on your pets or caring for some cool plants.

But as I woke Branden up at one in the morning to try to figure this out, I realized that human connection, for me in this moment with the people I love most, is infinitely precious in ways that no external achievement could be. My moment of realization came when the internal, finally settling in, became more important than the external.

I said out loud to Branden, “This right here is as good as it gets.” And as depressing as this realization could have been, it actually felt light and joyful. The day-to-day is difficult, and nobody cares, and being a mother and a wife most days leaves me doing all my nervous ticks and not sleeping well. I am tired. But this is as good as it gets.

I realized then that one day, I am going to miss my daughter waking up screaming “MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY” and then constantly saying “no” to everything I offer.

I’m going to miss Branden driving 30 minutes both ways to retrieve her “lamby” that I forgot, while I rock Charlotte, way past her bedtime, and she asks me for songs until my throat is hoarse.

I’m going to miss Branden falling asleep with exhaustion everywhere he sits down, and I’m going to miss buying everything we own at a thrift store and making homemade mac n’ cheese in an already-trashed kitchen, because that’s the only thing that sounds good to me.

I’m going to miss Charlotte’s irrational fear of the sound of running water, and that her favorite color is very apparently green, and that her curly little hair is thick and wild and impossible to control.

I’m going to miss not being able to afford a gym, and I’m going to miss going to exercise classes every morning at a nearby church. I’m going to miss teaching myself to dance while 32 weeks pregnant.

I’m going to miss meeting Branden for lunch on days I have completely had it. I’m going to miss the inability to keep my house or car or self clean.

I’m going to miss date nights where we are both too exhausted to do anything, so we ask each other questions for hours with 20 fans blowing on us because we don’t have AC.

I’m going to miss him awake at 1 AM listening to me talk about this, when he has to get up at 5 to study for his test the next day.

I’m going to miss the little MMA boxer in my belly trying to break its way out, and I’m going to miss trying to craft a nursery out of things we already have, and I’m going to miss good friends helping me more than I can thank them.

Because one day, Branden and I are going to have kids all grown up, and we are going to have money and a comfortable place of our own, and it’s still going to be as much about connection then as it is now.

So I am relieved that I let myself feel uncomfortably vulnerable the last few months, because I let myself feel all the excitement and build-up, and then at the end, it wasn’t what I thought.

This is as good as it gets.

Good Enough Parenting

May
22

If I could go back sixteen months to the night my baby was born, when I had no idea what I was getting into and every idea of how to perfectly parent, I would tell myself only one piece of parenting advice, and it would be this: You are going to mess it up.

You are going to completely mess it up at some point and in some way and in some facet of your child’s life, so give up on perfection. Give up on not making mistakes. Give up on being the ideal parent and completely tune out the million things your kid should be doing before age one and shouldn’t be doing before age five. Give up, and let it all go, and accept that your kid will probably be in counseling one day because of something you did or didn’t do.

That’s what I would tell myself. I would tell myself that I am enough being me and being a mom. I would tell myself I am a good enough parent, and that being a good enough parent is exactly what is needed. I would tell myself that being a good enough parent is actually enough despite the mistakes I will make, constantly and for the rest of my parenting life. I would tell myself that being a good enough parent is enough.

So since I can’t go back sixteen months, I’ll tell you all that instead.

(Except for the people who give talks in church about parenting whose kids never rebelled, forgot to brush their teeth, talked back, threw a tantrum, etc…Just don’t talk to those people.)

I wrote this in my journal a few weeks ago, about my own enoughness as a parent. Your version of this will be different. We all bring our own fight to the table.

“I’m a damn good mom.

I’m not a squishy mom, like when Charlotte trips I don’t gasp or react–I let her get up because I want her to be tough. I don’t buy her all the toys. She can imagine.

But I notice things about her and I write about her. I think about her constantly. I choose her to be my person, my number one. And sure, I would do anything for her, but I don’t think that’s what makes me good.

I am very concerned with being the best version of myself possible. I work at it. I choose to be self-aware even when it is excruciating and I change when I need to. It has been and still is the longest journey.

But I am more concerned with being a better me than the best mom, and that’s what makes me damn good.”

I think that this is my biggest strength in parenting. I am an excellent communicator and empathizer, I am self-aware, and I want to live a life focused on the values I believe. But still, I have plenty of reasons to not feel good enough. We all do. I could write an entire book on the million things we could feel bad about as parents–ruining your kids’ lives and chances at happiness, for instance.

To illustrate, let me tell you about this week.

Branden had a conference in Las Vegas where he met interesting people, made meaningful connections, and participated in the political side of his profession.

Meanwhile, Charlotte and I almost died. She fell down cement stairs about an hour after Branden left, leaving her face scraped and bruised. She cried, almost non-stop, for five consecutive days. The only time she stopped was when we were around other people. Then she was adorable. I have tried everything to help her, to no relief or avail. I will save you the stressful details, but I had a pediatrician tell me this week that in his twenty two years of practicing, he has never heard of some of Charlotte’s symptoms and honestly isn’t sure what to tell me.

I am five months pregnant, without a husband, working, entirely exhausted and emotionally frustrated. The job I care about most in my life–the job I would give up all the others for–the job of taking care of my daughter–I often feel I am failing, or flailing through. So this week, she ate graham crackers (seriously) whenever she wanted them, I haven’t done her hair, and we have worn pajamas all day the last few days. I have chosen to let go of the expendables in order to save our sanity.

If there is one universal theme I have noticed with parents, both young and old, it is the feeling of shame that hits, almost initially after becoming a parent, that they are not parenting good enough–they let something go, lost their temper, let their kid fall down cement stairs (ahem), should be teaching them how to put puzzles together at six months, teaching them Mandarin by age two, teaching them business strategy by age four, creating competitive little humans in a competitive world, and feeding them only organic crap.

With everything we are supposed to do as parents, it is no wonder that shame is universal. Most parenting books, podcasts, talks and advice is laced with the message: You’re not quite doing enough. You’re not quite caring enough.

Well I’m calling that out. Because to be honest, I would have to hire a small army–at least twelve people–to help me raise one child doing all the stuff I should be doing. And I would have to have a mind-reader on hand to come in and tell me at any given moment what is wrong with my kid and exactly how to fix it.

I absolutely love this quote on “good enough” parenting.

Good enough parents do not worry too much about their imperfections. They strive to do [good] things, but they recognize that they will not always succeed as fully as they might wish, and they forgive themselves for that. Good enough parents recognize that even love is never perfect; it is always at least somewhat fickle. In Bettelheim’s words, ‘Not only is our love for our children sometimes tinged with annoyance, discouragement, and disappointment, the same is true for the love our children feel for us.’ Good enough parents accept this as part of the human condition. Good enough parents understand that nature has created children to be quite resilient. As long as parents don’t mess up too badly (and sometimes even if they do), the children will turn out OK, and OK is good enough. -Dr. Peter Gray

To me, this means that it’s okay to pick your battles. It’s ok to prioritize. It’s ok to say that you are sorry, to mean it, and to show willingness to change as a parent. It’s ok to not be an intentional parent 100% of the time, or even 50, depending on the day. It’s okay to try.

I believe in good enough parenting. I believe that it’s messy. I love my baby so much I would move the world for her, and I also was so frustrated with her this week that I was writing KSL ads to my friends (half kidding) about taking a free baby for a few hours (or years.) I believe that the reality of loving a child is hard, and giving up control slowly, constantly, is painful more often than rewarding. I believe that we all feel bad for being as frustrated as we sometimes are, and we all believe that we should be handling parenting with more patience, love, and general enjoyment. (Once again, except for some people who give the talks in church about parenting. Because they’ve arrived. Or they don’t actually have kids.)

So I don’t buy into the shame, and you shouldn’t either. It’s exhausting. You are a good enough parent, no matter what phases your kids are going through or what mistakes you have made. You are a good enough parent, and so am I.

And if you’re about to become a new parent: You are going to mess it up. Give up. You are good enough.

 

Being A Mother//Being Myself

Mar
09

There is a natural progression to what life as a middle-class, religious, conservative woman looks like: elementary school, middle school, high school with a boyfriend and a sub-par job, college, adventures–a medical or religious mission, a study abroad–, dating around, settling down with “the one,” a job or career, and finally, then, motherhood. Finally, then, you’ve arrived.

At least that’s what I thought. I have been taught from religion or society or something that motherhood is the grand destination to life. Once you have become a mother, you’re there.

A good friend said to me today, “Kaylee, you know there’s nothing wrong with being goal-oriented and ambitious?” and she said it like that should be the most obvious statement in the world, but it felt so good to hear and also so surprising that I have felt…lighter…all day. It feels like a strain has been lifted off of my shoulders.

I have been thinking all day about why this statement surprised me and have reached a conclusion, or rather, a question that might lead to a few conclusions: what if being a mother, arriving at what I thought my destination would be, does not “fill” me completely? And that question led me to another: why do I feel so incredibly shamed for still trying to be myself–one who desires achievement, who is rarely content but always hungry, starving for creating and trying and experimenting with  my talents– after getting married and having a baby?

I know that this is a touchy subject for probably every woman, so I want to make something clear: I believe that women are unique. I believe that many women find complete fullness from motherhood, from the very moment they first hold their first child. And this is not lesser in my mind. We are all different, with different needs and desires and ambitions and disappointments. This is not an argument against stay-at-home mothers or for working women. I anticipate being “filled,” being completely fulfilled as a mother in some future moment of my life. I admire and respect women who choose to stay at home–my mother was one such, and the blessings of what continuously come from her sacrifices are unparalleled.

And if what fills you the most is cooking dinner, doing crafts, creating beautiful gardens, meditating, reading, or focusing all efforts into your children–how wonderful! I appreciate that you are different than me. I need friends who can cook me dinner and teach me how to be organized and help me craft.

This also isn’t an argument against working mothers. I know incredible women who balance beautifully their many roles.

I wish as women we could recognize and truly appreciate that we are different, and what a relief, because we need Pinteresty women and lawyers and surgeons, humble, giving women and cooks and yogis and talkers and listeners. We need all sorts. We need workers and watchers. We don’t all “fit.” Maybe none of us fit.

I am a mother first and foremost. I would do anything for my daughter, and she brings me more joy than I can imagine anything else ever will. She is my world.

And I think it’s okay for me to be a mother and to still be myself, just like I think it’s okay for you to be a mother and be yourself, whatever that looks like. For the last year, I have been trying to “fit” and “fulfill my duty” to Charlee, to Branden and really to my culture. I have struggled with condescending comments from women like “being a mom is the best thing ever!” and “being a mom is enough; enjoy every moment!”

I know. I know it is. I love life with my daughter. I am a mother and I get it, and I would not trade it for anything. But how did sacrificing who we are as individuals, as women, somehow get wrapped up in our perceptions of what it means to be a good mother? (I can’t speak for you. Maybe it’s just me.)

When did it become black and white? Or is it? Why is it either a “stay at home” or a “working” mom? And why does it feel like there is a “versus” in between the two? It feels black and white.

But today I realized that it doesn’t have to be. I will be a better mother for chasing my dreams and filling myself daily, weekly, and monthly. I will be a better mother and actually, I will be a better person if I remain authentic to myself no matter what else is happening in my life. And the reality of what that will look like, I imagine, will fluidly move as I change throughout the years.

I’m an intense person who loves achieving and loves making and reaching goals. So that’s what I’m going to do, or at least, try to do.

I’m about 117 pages into my first book.

I decided today to become a health coach and teach people about intuitive eating.

I need room to explore how I personally can live what I believe.

I go to counseling every week because I like learning about myself, and I am passionate about self-improvement.

One day, I will get my Masters in Fine Arts and be a certified teacher.

And today I realized, for the first time, that this isn’t selfish. As a mother, I choose to sacrifice myself in certain ways and to hang onto myself in others. This isn’t selfish; it’s self-care.

I want to view motherhood as this forever journey in my life, not its final point, which at some times I will do full-time and at others I will share with other goals.

And that’s okay, at least for now.

 

 

 

Thank You, Stranger

Dec
28

Being a parent is tough. You hold this little kid in your arms having (literally) no idea what you should really do. This bewildered feeling, in my experience, has not gone away for the last eleven months of motherhood–new day, new huge question mark in the air following me around.

And you know what is mega helpful to me, as a loving and concerned parent?

When you, dearest stranger/family member/anyone other than my husband, tell me how to parent.

You have no idea how much of a relief it is to have you approach me and yell in my face: “SHOULDN’T THAT BABY BE WEARING A HAT?” It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and wonderful inside, knowing that you trust that I love my baby (who I carried for 40 weeks in my uterus, pushed out of me, and have spent every moment of her life with) more than you do.

Haha, just kidding. Don’t test me right now. Don’t tell me to put a hat, a coat, a blanket, or a diaper on my baby, or my baby will be completely naked for the next year (or five years) of her life. Rolling around in the snow, eating the yellow snow actually, completely naked.

Back to the whole “being a parent is tough” bit. Man, I’m not kidding. Every mistake you make as a parent causes brain damage, according to google. There is no way to raise a little human without inflicting some serious amount of brain damage.

You let your kid cry? BRAIN DAMAGE.

You pick your kid up when crying? BRAIN DAMAGE.

You use a bottle instead of a sippy cup, OR a sippy cup instead of a bottle? BRAIN DAMAGE.

You feed your kid solids too early, too late, you use the wrong color car seat cover? BRAIN DAMAGE.

All of these things can be stressful if you let them get to you. Brain damage seems like a steep cost for getting the wrong car seat cover, but don’t risk it.

All of this aside, I can also confidently and without reserve say that the WORST part of parenting is the unsolicited advice. It is hilarious. It is as if every human in the world suddenly gets a say in how to best raise my kid. Which totally makes sense, seeing as they are all the one awake with her all night/changing diapers all day/etc etc…

I put together a little list, so you can know if you are an unsolicited advice-giver to young parents. If you answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, seek help, or just stop offering unsolicited advice.

A. Do you or have you ever started a sentence with the words “you should” to a young parent?

B. Do you or have you ever reacted negatively, (including body language such as eye rolling, shoulder shrugging, etc…) when a young parent does anything?

C. Do you or have you ever said the words “When I was young parent” in a condescending tone without being asked to speak that sentence?

D. Do you or have you ever approached anyone in Target, Walmart, or Home Depot to offer helpful ideas on how to raise a child, including but not limited to how to best feed, comfort, clothe or love their child?

You want to be helpful? Thank you. Go buy me diapers, or a cute outfit for my baby, or better yet, go get me some caffeine.

Xoxo, Kaylee

When Sundays Go Wrong

Nov
07
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Pre “The Terrible Sunday”

I genuinely do not know how anyone with a child under 17 makes it to church and stays there for more than 45 minutes. Sundays are the struggle of my life.

This morning, Branden and I woke up to Charlee having a complete meltdown. She knew it was Sunday. She was just an absolute grump all morning. Regardless, I told Branden, “I’m going to look good today. I never try anymore. I’m going to try today.”

I also decide to dress my baby. She has had no dresses for the last few months. She wears pants to church, if I get to putting pants on her. Sometimes she wears a shirt to church and that works too. Anyways, today I decide to dress my baby. I put her in a new floral dress from my mom, a huge bow, pink nylons and moccasins. She looks adorable.

Back to me.

I proceed to put on a funky white dress and black tights. As I stand by my mirror putting on makeup, I hear a solid thud behind me. Charlee had pulled herself up on my dresser, slipped, and smacked her cheekbone directly on the metal of a bookshelf. I drop my mascara, sprint over, and scoop her up quickly. The moment that I picked her up, I feel something wet run down my arm. I smell diarrhea.

I look down to check the damage only to see a huge bruise forming on her cheek. She is screaming in pain, and I am frantically running back and forth with her at arms length, searching for wipes.

My dad is in the bathroom (he is visiting his parents) and I start banging on the door with my elbows. Charlee is screaming, Branden is trying to figure out what in the world is happening, I am acting as a barrier between Charlotte’s falling poop and the carpet, and my dad is answering the bathroom door in his underwear.

Dad takes one look at us and snaps into fix-it mode. He grabs Charlotte, (she has poop in her hair; how does she have poop in her hair?) turns on the bathtub, and sticks her in. She is still completely hysterical. Branden and I are now running around the bathroom, bumping into each other and bumbling around with poopy wipes and poopy hands and poopy clothes. Dad is still in his underwear, rinsing off Charlee as she claws at his hands. Branden hands her a sucker. As if that will help.

My white dress (dry-clean only) is covered in the diarrhea of an angry little baby. I take it off and throw something on without looking twice.

Twenty minutes later, we finally walk into church. Charlotte is back in her PJs (at 9 AM). She looks like a boxer after a bar fight wearing a pink “G is for GIGGLES” onsie. As we walk in, I see that the doors to the chapel are still open. I do a hang-loose sign as I strut through the doors and say “YES. WE MADE IT IN TIME FOR THE SACRAMENT.” I say this too loudly and the people in the chapel turn to look at me.

As we walk forward, I realize that we, in fact, did not make it in time. The sacrament is happening as I walk in. Everyone is reverent. I am hanging loose. (I don’t know why it ever felt right to do a hang loose sign as I walked into that church.)

Not only this, but everyone and their 17 children decided it was a good Sunday to chill in the lounge outside of the chapel. It’s packed to the brim. We waddle to find an empty space with our little boxer baby and my dad. (Dad is now dressed in clothes.)

About 30 minutes later, I finally look at what I am wearing. I lean over to Branden and say. “Wow. My outfit makes no sense.”

I am in a red, polka-dot dress with black tights and dark green vintage boots with pointy toes. Nothing makes sense anymore. This doesn’t particularly bother me until he says “You look like Minnie Mouse,” at which point I begin glaring at him and don’t stop for the next hour. Just what I’m going for. Minnie Mouse.

During the second hour of church, the little boxer baby starts sucking on my neck, searching for food. We are in the front row of Sunday School because (SURPRISE) we are late. She then pulls down the front of my dress repeatedly. on the hunt. I am being undressed by a baby in pajamas with a black eye.

It was at this point that we left the church building.

All that I’m saying is that church is impossible.

Oh, and also, right before my dad left for the airport, she blew out all over him again. Bath numero dos.

You’re Doing Alright, Mama

Sep
30

14238246_1291013377605642_1927252795496066075_nLet me tell you how to parent.

Exclusively breastfeed. No bottles in the house. Bottle-feeding creates attachment issues.

Dress your baby in soft, new clothes everyday. Spot them immediately when they get food on them. They’ll stain quick.

Feed your baby organic food from the start. They’ll be addicted to refined sugar by the time they’re 7 months old.

Don’t lose your cool. They’ll remember. Other parents don’t lose their temper.

Be a stay-at-home mom, or welcome round two of attachment issues.

Don’t let your baby cry. You can’t spoil them.

Thirty minutes of tummy time a day. It is crucial for their development.

Let me tell you how I parent.

I gave my baby a bottle about three weeks in; I needed sleep.

She wore pajamas for a solid three months.

She eats cheerios with all her meals.

Sometimes I get so mad I have to walk away.

I work.

I let my baby cry. Some days she really screams.

The most tummy time I ever gave my baby was maybe ten minutes a day.

Along with becoming a parent came a host of struggles that I expected: exhaustion, anxiety, fear. But one emotion that I didn’t expect, but which has stuck to me longer and harder than the rest has been guilt.

Anyone who knows me knows that I hate unsolicited advice. I hate people telling me what to do, even if it is well-intentioned. But with a new baby, I found it impossible to escape the advice, which advice one way or the other would destroy my child. No matter what I did, it was wrong by someone.

This last week, I have talked to at least one friend every day who has expressed to me the ways that they are certain their kids will be forever ruined by their imperfections.

I just wanted to write you a quick note today: You’re doing alright, mama. You’re doing alright, dad.

You certainly are doing a host of things wrong. I certainly have already made enough mistakes to ruin my daughter. But here’s the thing that advice does not and will never account for: You love your kid. They don’t.

You’re doing alright. You fight with each other. I like to think of that as the work that goes into creating a relationship. You lose your temper. I like to think of that as a reminder to kids that their parents were once very much like them. Your kid doesn’t agree with you. Your house is a wreck 90% of your life. You missed a soccer game.

And you’re doing alright.

The only proof that I have of that, and the only comfort I can give you today, is that my baby learned to give kisses today. She claws my whole head with her tiny fingernails, pulls me in close, and lands an open-mouth slobber bomb right on my mouth. She’ll only kiss me.

Your proof will look different. Maybe it will be tucking in your two-year-old, who tells you for the first time he loves you. Maybe it will be an honest moment with a child learning not to lie, who trusts you with her guilt over anyone else. Maybe it will be when your teenage daughter comes to when she needs to breakdown, even after years of fighting. Maybe it will be a college-bound student missing you. Maybe it will be your oldest, now an adult, telling you a sincere thank you.

I just wanted to write today and tell you, that mama, you’re doing alright.

 

Worth It, I Promise

Aug
02

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A friend of mine said to me this week, “People always talk about what’s hard about parenting, finishing with the phrase ‘Oh, but it’s worth it!’ What makes it worth it? I want to hear more about that.”

In response to that, and to all young parents: Oh, but it’s worth it.

Let me expound.

The first two months of caring for my spicy, sassy baby girl, I literally thought the end of my life had arrived. At the end of every day, I thought: Women are insane. That is the only explanation. They are all crackheads. Or they enjoy raging hormones and baby vomit and exhaustion.

I truthfully had no idea how the human species continued to reproduce.

Now that time has created distance between that moment a
nd this one, I have glimpses of what I could not see then.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Three nights ago, I sat reclined in a lazy-boy chair just after 9 PM. Charlotte laid on my chest a few inches from my face, pushed up by her darling little arms. With the lights dim for bedtime, she buried her face in my neck and wrapped both arms around me. She nuzzled into me, her mother. Deciding against sleep just yet, she threw her head forward and gave me a big, open-mouthed kiss. Giggles from both her and I. Loud breathing a centimeter from my face. Eskimo kisses. Snuggling. I laid my cheek on hers. More kisses, more laughing, more heavy breathing and eskimo kisses.

I sat on the floor criss-cross applesauce, with Charlotte propped up between my legs. I am not good at girlfriends. My husband leaves early and gets home late. A close friend had just said hurtful things that seemed to re-confirm my feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. I cried softly. Behind a closed and locked door, Charlotte grabbed at the air, three, four, five times. Her tiny hand looked blurry to me. On the sixth time she grabbed at the air and landed on my hand. Having found her target, she relaxed completely. We sat there frozen for minutes; silent tears on my face, my child comforting me.

Branden and I simply cannot decide on a love song. I want mushy country, Hunter Hayes, cry while you listen; he wants classic, not-as-romantic, acoustic. He grabbed my hand to try out a song, and I swept Charlotte up from where she lay playing with her newly-painted pink toenails. We swayed back and forth to “Holy” by Florida Georgia line. I laid my head on his chest, and he gently attempted to pull in Charlotte for a family moment. She arched her back with all her energy, looked at him defiantly, and grunted loud and long. PUT ME DOWN, I could almost hear her say. Branden and I looked at each other and laughed. I adore and am frustrated by her stubborn and independent soul.

She wants to walk before she crawls.

She refuses to roll over while I watch.

She will grab and consume anything within a 5 foot radius.

She will not look at Branden or I if she is upset with one of us. She stares at the ground, for hours at a time.

She hates silence and always screams with joy in moments that are meant to be quiet.

She talks while I talk. Branden and I cannot have a conversation without her gibbering away.

She falls over from sitting up from smiling too big.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

I can promise you a few things:

You will be tired, and ugly.

You will buy and use one trillion diapers.

You will say as you change those diapers, “One day you’ll thank me for this!” knowing full well that the “thank you” is a solid 20 years away, or maybe never.

You will feel like you are messing your child up. Every day.

You probably will mess your child up.

You will not get paid.

Your freedom will be limited, and it will be sad at moments.

 

That being said, I can also promise you this:

Somewhere between the 1,000th and 100,000th diaper, you will get a smile.

Your child will look at you and to you in moments of happiness and struggle.

Your child will need you like they need no one else.

Somewhere between the 100,00th and 200,000th diaper, your child will recognize you and hold onto you.

Your child will have his/her own little personality, and you will have the privilege of watching it emerge.

That will be a miracle.

You will put in an incredible amount of effort for moments, mere moments, of feedback. But those moments will fill you up, fill up your soul, fill up parts of your soul that you did not know existed.

It is worth it, my friends, I promise.

 

 

 

 

So You’re The Mom With the Out-Of-Control Kid

Jun
12

IMG_9212Has anyone ever been in an airplane with an uncontrollable child? Did you judge the kid’s parents and wish that they would figure out how to help their child, for heavens sake? Last Tuesday, that child was mine, and I was the mother you were judging. The stress of it almost killed me. Honestly, I’m quite lucky to be alive.

The day began like any other, with a somewhat happy and somewhat grumpy baby. She slept good, got a great nap, and we were on our way to the airport and then on to Washington. The first flight was fairly uneventful, with me chatting with all my airplane neighbors and Charlotte sleeping peacefully in my arms. The second flight was the longest two hours that I have ever endured. I think I was on that two hour plane ride for at least a year.

Charlotte began the second flight with smiles, cooing at my new neighbors and grabbing at my painted fingernails. But the second that the plane left the ground, we were all, all of a sudden, going to die. Charlotte decided that she hated me, and planes, and all people, and all food, and all happiness, and really, all the world.

Moms say that babies have different types of cries. I never understood this. Charlee cries and I’m like “Oh no, a baby somewhere is crying.” I had never understood when a mom says, “Oh, that’s my babies tired cry.” “Yep, little Johnny is hungry!” What?

I didn’t understand that cries really can be different until this awful day.Charlotte’s cry was different than it had ever been before. It actually wasn’t like any cry I have ever heard from a baby before. It was a cry that I now have dubbed the “airplane cry.” It sounded like a hyena who just got shot by an arrow in the leg while trying to hunt for prey because it was starving to death. That’s the only way I can really think to describe it.

Charlee began this high-pitched scream of a cry and did not stop. The second that the seat belt sign flipped off, I shot up, pushed the stewardess with the lemonade out of the way, and stood bouncing her at the front of the plane. And mind you, the airplane was tiny. Everyone was listening and watching.

The bouncing didn’t work, but I bounced and bounced until I sweated. When that didn’t work, Charlotte and I walked the aisle while the overhead voice said “Just a friendly reminder: wear your seat belt at all times unless it is an emergency.” I truthfully do not understand how that lady didn’t understand how much of an emergency this really was.

The walking didn’t work, so I tried nursing. She wouldn’t do it. I tried the binky. She screamed louder. So finally, I walked to the back of the plane and locked myself in the bathroom so that the poor citizens who were just trying to drink their lemonade and catch a nap would have a break. Charlotte and I stood in the one foot by one foot bathroom for about ten minutes. Just stood there. I may or may not have started crying at this point.

The horrible seat belt “ding” signaled to me that I was about to be forced again to my seat. I sat down with a puffy face and Charlotte screamed, if it was possible, even louder. The only way that she would cry a normal cry, not the hyena cry, was if I held her as she vertically planked and lifted her repetitively up and over my head and back down. I did this until my arms gave out and I thought I was going to throw out my back at age 23. Then,when I could literally not lift her anymore, I sat her in my lap and she screamed like she was dying.

The second that the plane touched down, I was on my feet trying to bounce her again, dripping in sweat, an absolute mess.

Everyone shuffled to their feet, getting their bags from the overhead bins and grabbing their cheesy headrest pillows. But just as this happened, the plane suddenly grew quiet as everyone turned to look at me. All of the people sat down slowly, and one man said, “We should probably let her go first.”

I nearly sprinted off that airplane, literally ran through the airport tunnel, and shoved the little hyena at my dad. The stress of that day took at least twelve years off my life.

 

 

 

 

My Moment Has Passed

Jun
08

Last week, Branden and I walked around downtown Provo for a free concert and festival. Branden strapped Charlotte to his chest with our baby carrier. We walked around holding hands, picking up all the free things, and stopping every three seconds with someone saying, “OH MY GOSH, LOOK AT THAT ADORABLE BABY AND HER CHEEKS!!!” Those cheeks are becoming legendary. It’s really the talk of the town.

I noticed that nearly everyone dressed the same. Holy hipster. Everyone had the same type of glasses, the same look, and the same haircuts and styles. (If you are of the older generation and don’t know what hipster means, picture someone dressing from 30 years ago and then picture them having not showered or eaten in a week or two. That is hipster, more or less.)

After about an hour of observing all the rad kids and their possies, I started to squirm a little. I’m rarely self-conscious, but I genuinely began to feel a little outdated. Branden and I walked around, in our shorts and t-shirts, with my hair up in a bun and quite undone (like always.) We both talked to Charlee in annoying, high-pitched voices and covered her ears at the concert so she didn’t go deaf.

We walked into a store called “unhinged,” full of amazing second-hand everything–clothes, shoes, books. It was perfectly hipster. Looking at everything, I think I must have gotten overwhelmed or something, and I sneezed and peed a little all at the same time. No one is allowed to judge me until you have carried a child for 9.5 months and then pushed that child out of you. When you have done that, and you still don’t pee when you sneeze….congratulations. Or judge me. Or whatever.

My self-consciousness skyrocketed. “Crap, Branden, I just peed a little. Look at my pants. Can you see anything? Well don’t act like you’re staring at my butt. No, crap, stop, look away!”  I was doing the frantic whisper that is actually louder than a normal talking voice. I’m pretty sure everyone heard me.

And in this moment, I thought and then said out loud to Branden: “When did I become this girl?” (I heard Cristina Yang’s voice in my head: “Do you know who you are? Do you know what’s happened to you? Do you want to live this way?”)

And now I know. My glory days have passed. I am a sneezing, peeing, baby-carrying, dirty diet-coke drinking, knee-length shorts wearing Mormon mom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that this is a bad thing by any measure. I just have arrived there sooner than I anticipated. I thought I would be rad at least a second longer.

It’s kinda like the old person who realizes his blinker has been on for 5 miles, but he’s too deaf to hear it. Then, he knows. Or like the sixty year old woman shopping in Forever 21 who looks around and realizes everyone else in the store is actually 21. Then, she knows.

Well, then, I knew.

I FaceTimed Brittany the next day and asked her “Brit. Tell me the truth. Am I hip or am I kinda lame?” to which she replied, “Mm. Kinda lame. Definitely, kinda lame.”

“Is that like, okay, or is that kinda sad.”

“Mm. Kinda sad. Definitely, kinda sad.”

Expect cool hipster pictures as Brittany works to make me cool again. My first step: stop writing posts like this telling the world that I peed in a hipster store while talking to my baby in an annoying voice.

Adults of the Universe Are Being Scammed

May
25

Branden and I have this thing. No matter where you are or how poor you are, buy whatever little kids are selling. Half-cooked cupcakes, lemonade, dandelions. And overtip the kids. Give them a 5 for a dandelion–that kind of thing.

Last Saturday, we saw 4 little girls selling brownies on a street corner. We stopped and bought a brownie. We ate half on the way home, untying the little pink bow and unwrapping it from its thick plastic cover. We re-tied it up for later and threw it in the backseat.

A few minutes later, we heard rustling of the plastic which continued without another noise for the next two hours. Charlotte had somehow grabbed the half-eaten brownie package and was playing with the plastic and the ribbon. We let her do this till her little hearts content, and she was the happiest kid in the world. Just a baby and her brownie.

Since then, this has become her favorite toy. She loves it. Anytime she is fussy, I throw her the half-eaten brownie , and she just grabs at it stares like it is a new puppy or a new car or something. We call it her “brownie friend.” Her brownie friend goes everywhere with us. To Target, to the the doctor’s office, to PA school and to the grocery store. It is like an imaginary friend, except it is actually a brownie. Branden wants to eat the other half of the brownie but I’m a little sentimental about it by this point and won’t let him touch it.IMG_1964 (1)

We try to distract her from her brownie friend with the fun toys we spent too much money on. She doesn’t even care. She likes the pink bow and the plastic and nothing will sway her from this love.

What I’m trying to say is that the baby-accessory making bosses of the world are scamming us all. They are all sitting in their multi-million dollar mansions eating their caviar and nutella and other things rich people have with their expensive, thick toilet paper laughing with each other. “What other little talking, flashing, singing, chirping little toy can we sell for one million dollars to all the sucker parents? Even though their kids are going to play with half-eaten brownies and blades of grass [Charlotte’s other favorite toy is her “grass friend”], what else can we get them to blow all their money on?”

Really though, everything in the baby world is crap. A baby onesie is a centimeter long and takes three cents to make. Sure, I’ll buy that for $30. Done. Let’s get two of them even though I don’t have twins.

A baby bath for $50? Sure. My baby needs her own bath even though I don’t have my own. And while we’re at it let’s get the $1000 stroller because obviously that is way more comfortable for my 0 month old (who doesn’t even know why in the world she is screaming most of her life or what food is or what a car is or how to talk or how to sleep) than the $50 one.

Anyways. If you need some easy money, start making baby toys or baby clothes or baby spaceships. And my baby will be over here playing with her brownie friend.