The Negative Emotion-Guilt Complex: Mom Edition

Woah, I’ve been wanting/needing to write for a couple weeks now but between working two days a week & caring for an increasingly needy & grumpy baby there has simply been zero time for blogging.  I am desperately hoping I can get enough out in these few minutes while Rachel is sleeping to clear my mind & try to save my sanity.  Warning: this will definitely not be an eloquent post.  It will most likely just be word vomit.  But I’m not writing this for anyone else; I’m writing it to try to save myself from my own mind.

One thing I’ve learned very quickly about motherhood is that it makes your flaws become glaringly obvious- at least to yourself.  And I have long been aware that my greatest flaw is feeling guilty for any kind of “negative” emotion (e.g. frustration, sadness, jealousy, anger, etc).  I thought I had made a great deal of progress on this issue but being a mom has been made realize how much more work I have to do.  Furthermore, I swore up & down I wouldn’t let myself become a victim to “mom guilt” but damn if I am not just as vulnerable to it as everyone else!  mom guilt

The first six weeks of Rachel’s life were undoubtedly the most difficult to date.  But the past two to three weeks have also been extremely challenging, perhaps more so in some ways because I had gotten used to her being so happy most of the time.  Between teething & being in the middle of a huge developmental leap, Rachel has become extremely grouchy the past few weeks.  And because she naps so little these days I think that is making things even more difficult for her & thus for me as well.  Everyone tells me I’m so lucky that she has started sleeping through the night more often than not, but frankly things were much easier for me when she was waking up once or twice at night to eat but then napped more & was in a MUCH better mood during the day.  Besides, just because she is sleeping eight to ten hrs straight a lot of nights doesn’t mean I am.  I’m still getting up to pump, not to mention I’ve never been the kind of person who can sleep more than about five hrs straight anyway.  (Hell, even as a kid I remember waking up at least once or twice most nights.)  In any case I’d gladly sacrifice some sleep to have my happy baby back.  parents quote

Anyway, the point of all this is that I am really struggling right now.  For the first time in my life I am actually jealous of moms who work full time because they aren’t stuck at home with a screaming infant more than two or three days a week (not all day anyway).  And for the first time since giving birth I am truly missing my pre-mom life.  By no means do I regret becoming a mom of course, but at the same time I do miss the freedom I had to go out & do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted (within reason of course).  I knew I was going to lose that when I became a mom but honestly I didn’t start missing that freedom until these past few weeks when Rachel has become so grumpy that even going to the grocery store has become a serious challenge.  Not to mention I miss my alone time when no one needed anything from me.  It’s so hard being needed ALL the time . . . empty cup

Here’s the thing: Rachel has in many ways been a pretty “easy” baby.  Once she got over the ridiculous cluster feeding she did for much of the first six weeks, she has been, all things considered, a pretty happy, “simple” baby.  And compared to some babies, maybe she still is.  But see, half my problem is that I’m constantly feeling guilty for being frustrated because I know that “so many women have it worse.”  In case it isn’t obvious, this leads to a serious boatload of guilt because I’m constantly feeling guilty for “complaining” or feeling overwhelmed when I know that others are facing “bigger” struggles.negative-emotion-motivates-change-dan-rockwell

But the truth of the matter is there are no easy babies!  As a dear & wise friend said to me today “Someone basically handed you a tiny stranger & said ‘Here you go; she can’t communicate either but good luck figuring out everything she needs while you have no time for yourself & are coming to the end of your rapidly fraying rope.'”  Amen!  Furthermore, constantly telling myself I should be grateful because others “have it worse” is incredibly unhealthy.  I thought I’d matured enough to realize that there are no negative emotions:  there are just emotions & then there’s what we do with them, the latter being what really matters.  But apparently I am still struggling with this as much as ever.  The truth is, especially as new moms, we can & do experience a multitude of emotions all at once.  And it’s ok to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, angry, & jealous while also being grateful & in love with the tiny human you’ve created.  In fact it’s not just ok, it’s NORMAL.pema chodron quote 2

It also occurred to me today that I’m doing something that almost no one in my family has ever done.  I’m living in an urban area & one that is several hours away from my family as well as my husband’s family- & trying to raise a baby to boot!  To be clear, I’m not saying I’m better than my family because of this, not at all.  I’m just saying raising a baby is never easy but it’s probably even harder when you don’t have anyone who is “obligated” to help you who is close by & can babysit for you or just help out on a regular basis, even just for 20 minutes so you can clear your mind.  That being said, I am very glad to live where we do & to raise Rachel in a different environment than that in which we were raised, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its own unique challenges.  guilt

It has also occurred to me lately that my husband & I haven’t had any true alone time together (as in away from the baby) since Rachel was born other than a quick trip to Target when she was a few days old & my parents were in town.  And that hardly counts!  Not to mention the amount of true alone time I have had is incredibly small.  And as an introvert alone time is not just precious to me, it’s crucial.  So no wonder I’m feeling a bit frazzled!pinterest mom

One of my friends in college told me several times that I’d make a great Jewish mother because I always had so much guilt, most of which was completely baseless.  Unfortunately he was right, & unfortunately I haven’t made as much progress on this issue as I thought I had.  However, my hope is that writing all of this will help me to remember that whatever I’m feeling right now is valid.  Just because my situation is “easier” than some others doesn’t mean it’s easy.  And it’s ok for me to be frustrated & tired & even angry sometimes.  In reality I’ll be a much better mom if I can just be honest about how I’m feeling & stop feeling guilty about it.  Because as long as I’m constantly stuck in a quagmire of guilt, I’m not actually processing my emotions– & that’s a recipe for disaster.  And I’ll be damned if my daughter grows up to feel guilty for every so-called “negative” emotion she experiences!  So that means I need to stop this guilt train right now & just admit that this stage is hard but that doesn’t make me a bad mom or a bad person.  It just makes me a human being. kidney stone

Anyway, I’ve written all that to say this: I’m in over my head.  But I’m doing the best I can & I know this phase Rachel is going through right now is exactly that: it’s a phase which means, by definition, it will pass.  I’m reminded of the phrase “It may pass painfully like a kidney stone but it will pass.”

I Love My Baby But I Hate My Stretch Marks

I’m not sure if anyone checks this blog regularly enough to wonder why I’ve been so absent for a good month or more now, but in any case the reason is that I started my new job a few weeks ago so between that & the everyday adventures of caring for a baby I’ve been a bit busy.  I’m only working two days a week which is perfect for me because it gives me just enough time away from Rachel to really miss her but not so much that I feel like I’m really missing out on these momentous days of her early life.'I can't even get rid of my own stretch marks. Any other wishes?'

Anyhow, I’ve been coming across a lot of articles lately about loving your postpartum body & learning to embrace your stretch marks & less than flat tummy, yada, yada, yada.  Maybe it’s because Spring just started & thus we’re coming up on bikini season but I for one am struggling a bit with loving what I see in the mirror lately.  Logically I know I am doing about as well as I could hope considering I’m just under 4 months postpartum & I’ve lost, depending on the day, all but 3-5 lbs of my baby weight.  I’m going to the gym on the weekends when my husband can watch Rachel, & I’m taking walks around the neighborhood at least three days a week.  I’m even lifting weights at home occasionally, though I could definitely step up that game a bit more.  Furthermore my husband certainly doesn’t seem to have a problem with my postpartum body.

'I seem to have lost the body I had before I had children.'

In reality, I don’t look THAT different, especially in clothes.  But things definitely fit differently these days, that’s for sure.

But no matter what logic tells me, every time I see the stretch marks on my not so flat tummy I’m less than thrilled.  Please don’t take this to mean I don’t appreciate my daughter; without a doubt she is worth every stretch mark a thousand times over.  But that doesn’t mean I have to love them.  Unless these “tiger stripes” fade considerably (which I know they probably will with time) I’m quite sure I’ll never feel comfortable enough with my body to wear a bikini again, at least outside of my fenced-in backyard.  To be clear, feeling comfortable wearing a bikini in public is not high on my priority list.  But I have to be honest & admit that every time I see a picture of a mom with a flat stomach & no stretch marks, I feel a pang of envy.  And I’m not talking about celebrity moms because I’m perfectly aware that they are not living realistic lives.  I’m talking about moms I actually know.

mom stretch mark

It totally is but that doesn’t mean I like my stretch marks.

I know the body positivity movement tells me I should embrace my “imperfections” & part of me wishes I could.  Even though I’ve never worn much makeup or been terribly interested in fashion I have always valued looking decent.  To be clear, I’ve never been one to expect myself to look like Victoria’s Secret models or movie stars or anything like that because I’ve always realized most of their pictures are highly photoshopped anyway, not to mention they don’t exactly live “normal” lives like we plebeians do.  Nonetheless I have to admit I’m not as happy with the way my body currently looks as I’d like to be.  Now this isn’t a huge deal; it’s not something that’s seriously affecting my overall happiness or life satisfaction or anything.  After all, with Rachel around I have more reasons to smile than I ever have.  And being annoyed by stretch marks certainly isn’t going to stop me from having another baby someday if/when I decide the time is right.

magic eraser stretch mark


Before anyone tells me I’m being selfish & that thousands of women would be happy to have my body (either because they’re significantly bigger than me or because they’re struggling with infertility- or both), yes, I am perfectly aware that all of this is a bit superficial, & trust me I do feel guilty for thinking about this enough to bother writing about it.

But even so I admit I wish I liked my postpartum body more than I do.

I’m not really sure what the point of all this is other than to clear my mind a bit.  But I’m sure I can’t be the only mom out there feeling this way, right?

The Reality of Mom Life

This blog post has been two days in the making.  Actually longer than that because I came down with the stomach bug from HELL this weekend & am just today feeling more or less like a normal human being again.  I would seriously take pneumonia or the real flu (you know, the respiratory one) over the stomach bug ANY day of the week.  I know some people say “But the flu lasts a week; the stomach bug is just 24-48 hrs.”  HA!  Maybe for some folks but for me it’s always taken 3-4 days minimum to truly recover from a stomach bug, & it was MUCH harder this time because I was breastfeeding & caring for a 12 week old baby the entire time.  Thank goodness for my husband for helping to care for me & Rachel & for my parents for coming down on Monday to help me when my husband had to go back to work.  It’s been my nightmare ever since Rachel was born that I would come down with a stomach bug.  Well, it happened.  And it sucked.  Royally.  But I lived to tell the story.  Which brings me to the point of this post.Lavendar hanging from an old vintage door, room for copy space

Motherhood is a lot of things.  At moments it is the most glorious, wonderful thing I’ve ever experienced.  At other times it’s so incredibly hard that I wonder what I was thinking getting into this.  The good news is, as the weeks have passed, the former moments far outweigh the latter moments.  And I’ve learned that I am SO MUCH STRONGER than I ever thought possible.  So in honor of that I thought I’d post some of the realities of being a mom, at least for me, many of which are really quite humorous.  If you’re a mom I think you’ll find yourself smiling & nodding along.  If you’re not, hopefully this post will make you want to join the club.  Or not; that’s a totally acceptable choice as well!motherhood-quote

(FYI, I used feminine pronouns throughout this post simply because my baby is a girl so it was just easier for me that way . . . Also, this post is most applicable to moms with infants.  As I only have one child myself, who is just 12 weeks old, I obviously can’t yet speak to motherhood beyond this point.)

Being a mom means . . .

  • Learning to do almost anything & everything one-handed.  This includes cooking, cleaning, using the bathroom, signing for pizza delivery, texting, typing, etc, etc.  The list could go on forever!
  • As soon as you finish laundry for the day the baby will have a poop-splosion (i.e. an explosion of poop) that soils her entire outfit & possibly yours as well.  So then you have to decide if you want to hand-wash everything or run the washing machine for just a handful of items.  Usually I go with the former & figure I’m getting a taste of what motherhood must have been like for my great-grandmothers in the days before washing machines.
  • As soon as you take the burp rag away thinking for sure the baby won’t spit up on you, that is the exact moment the baby will spit up on you.motherhood not for sissies
  • As soon as you change the baby’s diaper, get her outfit on her, & put her down for a nap or to play in her bouncy seat, that is exactly when she will have yet another poop.  Babies are not economical or efficient.  But they are born with a sarcastic streak, I swear!  I know mine has one . . . But then again, how could she not with parents like me & my husband?
  • Googling everything under the sun at all hours of night & day, scouring the interwebs for any sign that whatever “strange” or annoying thing your baby is doing is normal . . . or for how in the world to make her STOP CRYING?!
  • And eventually figuring out that, despite all of your doubts, you really are the expert on your own child.  After a while you recognize patterns & pick up on cues that in the early days were all just a mysterious blur.  And when you realize how far you’ve come you feel like a TOTAL ROCK STAR.  And you are!!motherhood grocery store
  • Never eating a full meal in one sitting (or at least very rarely) because the baby always needs something as soon as you sit down to eat.  You soon get used to either eating cold food or reheating things a bunch of times.
  • Taking the fastest showers of your life because you’re scared to death the baby will explode while she’s out of your sight . . . until you realize she actually won’t & you WILL hear her crying over the sound of the water . . . So then you start taking longer & longer showers just to have some time to yourself.
  • Making up excuses to drive places just because the baby loves her carseat & takes some of her best naps while you’re in the car.
  • Loving & appreciating your own mom more than ever because you realize just how amazing she truly is.daughter quote
  • Feeling a sudden, however slight, connection to every mom you meet just because you know you share so many of the same daily struggles & delights.
  • Being willing to make career changes you never considered before becoming a mom.  For some this means becoming a stay at home mom.  For others it means changing careers completely or going part time.  For me it has meant leaving hospital nursing to pursue part time clinic work. (I was originally planning to go back to the hospital part time but decided the schedule as well as the hectic, often stressful shifts there just didn’t fit with my priorities anymore.  That’s a whole other blog post that I’ll get around to writing eventually.)
  • Experiencing a love like you’ve never experienced before.  It really is indescribable.birth-of-mother
  • Loving (& often missing) sleep more than ever.  I’ve almost always been wise enough to choose sleep over housework or any other task when I know I really need sleep . . . And I know I’m saner for it.  Trust me, if you have any doubt, the best choice is always sleep.  Husbands, moms, dads, & friends can all help with housework or caring for the baby.  But none of them can sleep for you.
  • Learning to love your body for what it can DO as well as how it looks.  It means learning to embrace your “flaws” & knowing that even if your stomach is never quite as flat again (Who am I kidding?  Mine was never super flat anyway.) & even if the stretch marks never fully fade away, you’d still choose your precious child over your old body a thousand times over.
  • Learning to give yourself a lot of grace.  I learned very fast that there were certain things I just wasn’t going to be able to do as a mom, at least as a new mom.  For example, using cloth diapers is just not going to happen any time soon.  I need my sanity, & there is no way I could handle all the work that comes with cloth diapering & stay sane right now.  It also means learning to forgive yourself when you find yourself getting frustrated & angry with your own child sometimes.  We have to learn that none of us is perfect & we all have our less than stellar moments, but it’s all just part of the journey.children-work-quote
  • You can’t watch/read the news without feeling like your heart is going to break.  Every tragedy in the world is suddenly magnified a thousand times because you realize that was someone’s BABY who was hurt/killed.  So, if you’re like me, you decide to filter most news through your husband & friends & otherwise be the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.
  • Every time you start to think about having another baby in the future, something happens & you’re convinced there is no way you could ever handle more than one child.  At least not for another 3 or 4 years.  But then you worry that if you separate your kids that much they won’t be “close.”  But then you remember that having them close together in no way guarantees that they will be close to each other, just as having them further apart in no way guarantees they WON’T be.  Basically when it comes to having kids there are no guarantees.  Ever.  Which brings me to my final point . . .
  • Being a mom means learning to laugh at the chaos, to “roll with the punches,” to take whatever life throws at you & find a way to not only survive but thrive.  As I said at the beginning, being a mom means learning that no matter how hard things get, you somehow find the strength to keep on trucking because you are SO MUCH STRONGER than you ever thought possible.

    'Hey, half my chromosomes are YOURS, you know.'

    Considering my husband is a geneticist by trade, our daughter may very well say this to us someday.  Ha!

Beyonce is Overrated & Not a Role Model

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day & sorry, I’m not sorry if this post breaks your heart a little bit.  But first a preface on why I’m writing this today:

I didn’t watch the Grammys this year for a number of reasons, mostly because I have a 2.5 month old baby, so my bedtime is about 8 pm these days in order to make up for being up to feed her in the middle of the night . . . But also because the Grammys have become so ridiculously stupid that they are honestly a joke.  I mentioned this last year but when “Call Me Maybe” gets nominated for a Grammy you know the music industry is in a truly shitty place.  (Actually to be truly honest, I don’t think I’ve ever watched the Grammys & after the way Metallica was treated at this year’s show I’m pretty sure I never will.)broken-heart

Anyhow, all this talk about the Grammys & how “devastating” it is that Beyonce’s Lemonade album didn’t win album of the year has me thinking about just how overrated she really is.  Yes, I said it: Beyonce is overrated.  I know she has become this sacred cow that no one is allowed to criticize or else you’re deemed sexist, racist, misogynist, or whatever else is considered politically incorrect these days.  But the fact of the matter is I couldn’t possibly care less about being politically correct.  (One of the biggest & best ways being a mom has changed me is that it has made me FAR less concerned about other people’s opinions.  There is so much freedom in being able to express exactly how I feel & not worry about what others will think of me because of it.)beyonce

Now let me expound on this matter a bit lest you think I’m just some hateful bitch who is jealous of Beyonce’s talent, wealth, beauty, or fame.  Does she have a great voice?  Yes.  Is she a talented dancer?  Sure.  Is she beautiful?  Absolutely.  But is she worth all the hype & praise that has landed her being called a role model by someone as imminent as Michelle Obama?  Hell no!    (P.S. I can’t help but wonder if Michelle’s statement was colored a bit by the fact that Beyonce helped raise millions of dollars for Obama.  Hmmm . . . ) I’m sorry but I find it extremely hypocritical that Beyonce has somehow become this feminist icon when she is just another pop star who has allowed her sexuality to overshadow any other aspect of her persona.  beyonce-superbowl

I’ve been trying to give Beyonce the benefit of the doubt for years now, but when I watched her Superbowl performance I couldn’t help but be disappointed (though not surprised) at how sexually suggestive it was.  However, when I read all the praise about her latest album, I decided to peruse the lyrics & see if maybe this album was more serious than some of her previous releases.  But alas, my suspicions were confirmed when I found lyrics as inanely stupid, not to mention sexually explicit & derogatory, as these.  “Suck on my balls . . .”  Seriously?  This is the stuff that people consider worthy of a Grammy?  Oh, & then there’s this jewel in which she sings “When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay.”  Say what now?!  Love Drought is actually not half bad, but she ends the song with “Them old bitches so wack, I’m so tough, wassup?” & completely ruins any momentum she had gained.  Worst of all are the disgusting lyrics in Don’t Hurt Yourself when she sings “Who the fuck do you think I is?/You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy/You can watch my fat ass twist, boy/As I bounce to the next dick, boy.”  Umm, what?!  As if the grammatical felonies committed here weren’t bad enough, “bounce to the next dick” is considered a lyric worthy of a Grammy?  Please!  beyonce-lemonade

And let’s not forget some of Beyonce’s earlier work which includes such gems as Bow Down Bitches in which she repeatedly sings that illustrious phrase or Partition in which she crudely describes herself performing oral sex on a man in the backseat of a car.

Now explain to me again how this woman has become a “role model” for women & little girls!  I don’t know about y’all but Beyonce is not a role model for me & she sure as hell won’t be one for my little girl either.role-model

Not only are most of Beyonce’s lyrics grammatically incorrect well beyond the grace of poetic license, more importantly they are vapid & just plain ridiculous.  And what’s even sadder is the lyric credits for most of the songs are a mile long.  Seriously, it takes five or six people to come up with this nonsense?  Apparently so.  If you’re wondering why I care so much it’s because music is like a religion to me.  As the great Corey Taylor so wisely stated “Music is not a fucking soda.  It is not a fucking insurance rate.  It is not a fucking T-shirt.  It is the only real religion that is worth devoting your soul to.  It is the last remnant of the primal scream, the funeral dirge, & the wedding march.  It is the light that keeps me out of the shadows, & it is the reason my immortal soul is not in dire straits.”  And as Taylor also stated “Bad music is a form of murder to the true art of music in general.”  THAT is why I care so much about crap like Beyonce’s music being glorified the way it is.

corey taylor quote

Since I’m going for full disclosure here, let me be truly transparent.  As some of you may know, I am a big rock & roll fan.  And as you’re probably well aware there is plenty of sex in rock & roll.  After all the phrase “sex, drugs, & rock & roll” exists for a reason.  However, if you study the music scene today I think you’ll find that most modern rock bands are actually much tamer than the “glory days” of rock that spawned that phrase.  And as far as modern female rock stars go, ladies like Lzzy Hale of Halestorm & Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil have figured out how to be beautiful & sexy without letting that dominate their careers.  Yes, they both wear outfits that could be considered provocative at times, but that isn’t their only wardrobe.  Nor do they perform sexually explicit dances on stage.  While they both have a few songs that definitely reference sex, those songs are well written & far more mature than this crap Beyonce is “writing.”  I say “writing” because I seriously wonder how much she contributes to her own songs when she needs so many different songwriters to help her with the process . . .

lzzy hale

Lzzy Hale has certainly become a sex symbol in the rock community & one can easily see why. But that isn’t why she’s famous. She’s famous b/c she is an insanely talented singer & guitarist . . . who just happens to be pretty hot too. 

The point is most musicians become sex symbols in one way or another & that includes men as well as women.  Tim McGraw & Luke Bryan are certainly examples of this.  What bothers me is when a musician’s entire career becomes wrapped up in being a sex symbol.  I believe that is exactly what has happened to Beyonce, & worse yet the music for which she receives so much adoration is frankly stupid & trashy & only feeds into the overly sexualized image she has created for herself.  She’s not so much a singer as she is a product, a veritable piece of meat.  And isn’t that exactly what feminists hate to see women become?

women not pieces of meat

As far as I can see, Beyonce is just making herself into another piece of meat.

What it comes down to is this: I am by no means a prude.  I do not have a problem with music & sexuality being blended in some ways & at some times.  But I do have a problem with a woman who has become nothing more than a stereotypical sex symbol being regaled as not only some “amazing musician” but as a role model for young girls.  Sorry but no!  Beyonce isn’t a good role model for little girls any more than Britney Spears is (or should I say was because I’m not sure anyone cares about her anymore?).

So there you have it. Beyonce is overrated.  End of story.

And sorry, I’m not sorry.

I Am Not a Victim

Yesterday evening I came across a quote that resonated very strongly with me.  The quote is from an interview with former Guns & Roses & current Sixx A.M. guitarist DJ Ashba.  Ashba grew up with an extremely abusive father & when asked what advice he would give to kids growing up in difficult situations, he responded:

“No matter what you’ve been through in life, you must remind yourself that this is YOUR life. There’s nothing in life you can’t have if you want it bad enough. You just have to be willing to work as hard as it takes to get it.

You have two choices. You can sit around & feel sorry for yourself, or you can get up, dust yourself off, & never lose focus on your goals. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you & stand in your way. Use the negativity as motivation to fuel the fire inside you. Follow your heart, never doubt yourself, & always remember, the hardest part about reaching your dreams is never giving up.”  

(You can read more of that interview here.)dj-ashba

Now the rest of this post might be a little controversial but I’m going forward with it anyway because it’s something I’ve been needing to get off my chest lately.

Yes, I am a feminist in the sense that I absolutely support women having equal rights under the law & generally being treated as the capable human beings that we are.  As long as there are places in the world like Saudi Arabia where women are treated basically like cattle I absolutely believe that feminism is still a needed cause.alan-ball-quote

HOWEVER, I must go on record to say that there have been very few times in my life that I have ever felt that I have suffered or been mistreated because of my gender.  I read all the time  how girls suffer in American schools, particularly in the STEM fields, & how we women make less money than men, etc, etc.  I am not denying that there are some cases in which girls & women still face discrimination (particularly women who are also a racial/ethnic minority, which, to be clear, I am not).  However, I must say that from my own experience in school, all the way from kindergarten through high school, it was BOYS who I felt suffered.  I don’t know about the rest of y’all but when I was a kid it wasn’t exactly cool to be smart or get good grades.  But it was ok for girls.  To be clear, you weren’t going to win any popularity contests for being a nerdy girl but at the same time you could excel academically & not be sneered by most of your classmates.  On the other hand boys who excelled in the classroom, regardless of subject, were frequently subject to intense teasing & general disregard by other students, both male & female alike.  In my school there were very few males in any of the advanced learning programs.  I fail to believe this was because of a dearth of academically advanced boys.  Rather I think it was a symptom of the greater problem that being smart was considered especially uncool for boys so many male students chose to suppress their abilities in order to “save face.”victimhood-cartoon

I am not so naive as to think that my experience alone represents that of all women, even of my own age & demographic.  However, having spoken to many women of my generation from a great variety of areas throughout the US it seems to me that for the most part we have not faced a great deal of serious systematic discrimination, especially in the academic world.  Hell, women have been attending & graduating college at a greater rate than men for years now.  I’ve also read multiple times that women of my generation are, on average, actually making MORE money than our male counterparts.  In light of this, I think it’s time we dropped the victimhood game.


Ironic, isn’t it?

Are there ways in which our society could improve to further help women?  Certainly.  Greater maternity leave would be a great one.  But so would greater paternity leave.  On that subject, fathers in this country have been systematically demeaned for decades now, & it’s obvious to me that we are now suffering the consequences.  Do a quick Google search & you will quickly find that children, regardless of gender, who grow up without a father are much more likely to suffer from pretty much every bad outcome (more likely to become teen parents, drop out of school, have behavioral issues, end up in jail or using drugs, etc).  fathers

All you have to do is turn on the TV to see that our society does not value fathers.  Fathers are consistently depicted, both in TV shows/movies & commercials, as bumbling idiots who are basically oversized children.  Maybe this is true for some men . . . But then one wonders if some men are like that because that’s the image that’s been shown to them for so many years now.  Don’t feminists often argue that women typically pursue more traditionally feminine careers such as nursing & teaching because those are the kinds of roles in which they see women depicted?  Feminists have argued for years that we need more female doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, etc so that little girls will see that they can become anything they want.  In theory I completely agree with this statement.  However, I find it interesting that no one seems to be arguing that we need more male teachers & nurses & other such traditionally feminine roles.  It’s my opinion that all fields could benefit from a more balanced gender ratio.  But it’s intriguing to me that it’s so easy to find scholarships for women seeking to enter traditionally masculine fields whereas you are hard pressed to find scholarships for men seeking to enter traditionally feminine fields, even if they face similar challenges in so doing.male-nurses

At the same time, I understand that there may never be as many female lawyers, politicians, or CEOs because most women simply don’t want to do that kind of work.  Or at least they don’t want to deal with the long hours & high demands of such careers, especially if they are also moms.  And I for one don’t see anything wrong with that.  Just as I don’t see anything wrong with the fact that we will probably never see as many stay at home dads as we see stay at home moms.

Call me insensitive, brainwashed, or stupid, but I for one think all of the recent focus on women’s rights in the US would be better spent focusing on parts of the world where women truly do not have basic human rights.  And just to be clear, having the government pay for your birth control is NOT a basic human right.  After all if we women are as strong & independent as men, why do we need the government to take care of us?  And if we’re truly such equals, why aren’t we eligible for the draft?  Funny how most feminists love to dodge that subject!  [To be clear, I’m not saying men are superior to women.  But I’m also not ignoring basic biology that makes it obvious that women are less suited to combat & thus shouldn’t be eligible for the draft (& probably shouldn’t be involved in combat at all, in my opinion).]  There are parts of the world where female babies are routinely aborted for being the “wrong” gender.  There are parts of the world where female rape victims are stoned or otherwise killed because of what a man forced on them.  And yet modern American feminists are bitching about men sitting on the subway with their legs spread too widely?  Get a damn life, y’all!

I wrote all that to say this: yes, there have been a few times in my life when I wished I were male because I knew it would have made my life easier.  But those times have been few & far between.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky.  But my instinct tells me that most women, of my generation & in the US anyway, have had similar experiences.  At the end of the day I do not feel like a victim because I’m a woman.  I simply do not see myself that way, nor do I view my fellow females as such.  And I for one will not be raising my daughter to view herself as a victim.  I will be raising her to pursue her dreams, just as DJ Ashba encouraged us to do in the quote that started this post.

To end this post I’d like to share some quotes that I believe are relevant to this vicious cycle of victimhood that modern feminism seeks to perpetrate.victim-quote

“The rest of us have never embraced your victim mentality; we are not victims. We are people, the same way that men are. We are equal, yet different. We, unlike you, realize that is not mutually exclusive.”  ~ Lori Ziganto

“Stop bitching about everybody else & what they’ve done to you & start cleaning up your own shit yourself.  The only person who can make you a victim is you.”  ~ Max Patrick

“You cannot be happy if your primary identity is that of a victim, even if you really are one.”  ~ Dennis Prager

“Women’s liberation fought for the right of women to leave the home & become involved in the public sphere; feminists now want to convert this realm into a series of safe spaces & censored zones. If you don’t like what someone says to you on the street, say something back, put your headphones on, or just laugh – it’s really not that bad.”  ~ Ella Whelan

Can I get an AMEN?!

The Best Baby Gear You Actually Need

Despite developing preeclampsia at 38 weeks, overall I was blessed to experience a relatively easy pregnancy, physically anyway.  Mentally it was a bit more difficult at times but I survived.  In any case, one of the more stressful/annoying things about pregnancy for me was trying to figure out what baby gear to buy.  I don’t know about y’all but the sheer amount of options for every thing known to man was just overwhelming to me.  Who knew there could be dozens of different options for something as (seemingly) simple as a bottle?  Or a pacifier?  Not to mention the more complex items like strollers & carseats!  I’m so thankful that my husband helped me narrow down our options with those bigger purchases because if it had been left totally to me I’m not sure we’d have ever gotten them.  Just kidding; I’d have eventually made a decision of course.  However, since baby gear was something about which I had zero previous knowledge my normally decisive self was left floundering a bit.  Thus having his support was very

Anyhow, I thought it might be useful/fun to share my picks for the best baby gear that you actually NEED & might want to put on your registry.  I also want to give a huge thank you to one of my dearest friends who helped me set up my registries.  I’d have been lost without her suggestions!

  • Carseat: Obviously you need a carseat.  You can’t even legally leave the hospital without one!  We chose the Chicco Keyfit 30 & have been very pleased with it.  My husband did the installation in our cars & he said it was very easy & straightforward.  Rachel apparently loves this carseat because she always falls asleep every time she’s in it for more than about 10 minutes.chicco-keyfit-30
  • Stroller: For our stroller we chose the Chicco Activ3 Jogging Stroller & again have been very pleased with it.  The Chicco Keyfit 30 carseat fits into it perfectly which is a huge plus.  This stroller has great suspension & can definitely be taken “off road.”  Again, I think Rachel must like it because she always falls asleep in it on our walks around the neighborhood.chicco-stroller
  • Burp rags: Doesn’t really matter what brand/style you buy; just be sure you have at least 4 or 5 of them.  I’ve found that keeping one in every major room of the house (nursery, master bedroom, & living room) & in the diaper bag is a huge help.  That way there is always one handy whenever I need it.
  • Baby carrier: At the recommendation of the aforementioned friend, I chose the Lille Baby 360 6-position carrier.  I’ll admit I didn’t use it much in the first few weeks because Rachel was a little small for it.  However, since she was about 3 weeks old this thing has been a lifesaver.  When she’s having a fussy spell, quite often strapping her in this thing is an almost instant fix.  (And because my hands are free I can move around & cook or do laundry or type a blog post or just about anything I need/want to do!)  This carrier adjusts easily to fit both me & my husband, & it has great lumbar support which will be even more important as Rachel gets bigger & bigger.  I’ve been using it to take her on walks around the neighborhood with Chaucer (our corgi).  She always falls asleep on our walks & it’s good exercise for me too.


    Rachel is in there, I promise.

  • Bouncer: My mom bought me ours & it’s something that Rachel is starting to really enjoy now that she’s moving her arms around a lot & starting to explore the world a bit more.  I think she’s going to love it even more as she gets older.  The vibration feature is soothing also.  This isn’t the exact print we have but it’s the same seat.
  • Rock & Play: I am so incredibly grateful that just a few days before Rachel was born my mom told me that a coworker of hers swore by the Fisher Price Deluxe Rock & Play for helping her baby to sleep.  It has been a total lifesaver since Rachel has been not so fond of her Pack & Play for sleeping.  Plus with her reflux issues the rock & play is perfect for keeping her head elevated a bit.  I love that it’s portable so it can easily be carried from room to room throughout the day.  I’ve found that if I keep her in it right beside the bed, I can lie on my side & gently rock her to sleep.rock-and-play
  • Pacifiers: I never bought one before Rachel was born because I had this big idea that I wasn’t going to use one.  As it turns out Rachel was one of those babies who was basically born with her thumb in her mouth.  In fact she has her fingers in her mouth in the very first picture I have of me holding her not long after birth!  At first I was afraid to try one because of the whole “nipple confusion” issue, but once my lactation consultant told me she felt Rachel (& I) would benefit from one, I decided to go for it.  She recommended the Soothie brand.  I had mixed results with that one so I ended up buying a bunch of different brands at WalMart & experimenting until I found one that she really seems to like.  I can’t wait to get the MAM brand which I ordered on Amazon at the recommendation of several friends.  (The stores around here kept being sold out of those which is perhaps a sign that they really are good.)


    This was the first picture taken of me & Rachel after birth.  If you look closely, you can see she already had her fingers in her mouth.

  • Diapers: While I was pregnant I had a vague idea that I might try cloth diapers for the sake of being more environmentally friendly.  I knew it was unlikely that I’d follow through with it but it was still something I hoped I’d do.  Once Rachel arrived & the reality of caring for a newborn set in, I realized this idea was nothing more than that, an idea.  I’ve found that I really like the Pampers diapers with the line that changes color when they’re wet.  Eventually I’d like to try to switch to biodegradable diapers but for right now I’m definitely going to use up all the Pampers & other ones we’ve been given.  As a new parent I’m learning you have to give yourself a lot of grace because you just can’t do everything, & this is definitely one of those things.pampers
  • Wipes: Following right along from the previous subject, obviously you will need plenty of wipes.  We’ve found that the giant packs of wipes that Sam’s Club sells are a good deal & work plenty well.  We don’t have a wipe warmer & while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having one I also think it’s far from a necessity.  If someone gives you one or you aren’t working on a limited budget, go for it.  Otherwise I think it’s something you can safely skip.
  • Boppy: If you’re even just THINKING about breastfeeding, be sure to get a Boppy pillow.  These things are so genius.  I love mine so much that I ended up buying a second one (the first one was a gift) so I could have one for the nursery & one for the living room (or to take on trips out of the house).  Even if you don’t end up breastfeeding, the Boppy is still a great tool for tummy time & helping your baby learn to sit up.boppy
  • Diaper bag: I actually ended up with 2 diaper bags because I bought one myself & then received one as a gift.  I purchased this Skip Hop backpack diaper bag because I liked that it was a backpack & also pretty gender neutral.  It’s a little small but so far has been perfect.  If/when I need more room I’ll use the larger one my sister in law gave me.
  • Halo sleepsack: I’m so grateful that my aforementioned friend recommended these to me because they have been a lifesaver.  In the hospital Rachel was already a little ninja, breaking out of her swaddle constantly.  With this zip-up version of the sleepsack, you have the option to swaddle with arms in or arms out.  I’ve found that Rachel really likes to sleep with one arm in & one arm out.  No wonder she was breaking out of her swaddle in the hospital; she wanted to have one arm up!


    See?  She really does like to sleep with one arm in & one arm out.

  • Clothes: All I need to say about this subject is that you will almost certainly end up with way more baby clothes than you’ll ever need.  I know everyone says not to buy too many newborn outfits because babies outgrow them so fast, but I would recommend getting at least 3 or 4 newborn outfits (unless maybe your doctor/midwife has already told you to expect a very large baby) for the first few weeks/month.  I think I only bought one newborn outfit before Rachel was born & because she ended up being on the smaller side (6 lbs 12 oz & 18.5″ long) everything else was way too big for her, so we ended up using the same outfit over & over until we could get to WalMart to buy some new ones.rachel-penguins
  • Sound machine: I have always slept with a fan for as long as I can remember so when I was in the hospital I was thrilled to find that they had sound machines which made up for not having my fan for white noise.  I fell in love with the ocean waves option & was thrilled when a friend of mine from work bought me a sound machine with an ocean waves option.  I’ve found that sleeping with that & the fan makes for excellent white noise that both Rachel & I find soothing.  You can get perfectly adequate but inexpensive sound machines at WalMart but if you don’t feel like buying one there are plenty of free white noise apps you can download on your phone (try White Noise Baby).
  • Washcloths/hooded towels: As with burp rags it doesn’t really matter what kind you get.  Just be sure to have several of each.  duck-towel-rachel
  • Thermometer & bulb suction: Again, the brand/type doesn’t really matter for these items, as far as I’m concerned but they’re definitely items you’ll want to have around if/when your baby inevitably gets sick.
  • Breast pump: When it came to buying a breast pump, I was totally clueless so I did what any new millennial mom does & queried my Facebook friends asking for recommendations.  By far the most popular choice was the Medela In Style so I went with that one.  I ended up having to buy larger flanges because the standard size provided with the pump were a little small for me (thanks to my awesome lactation consultant from Emerald Doulas for recommending the larger flanges) but otherwise the pump has proved to be an excellent choice.  It’s easy to use & clean & very portable.  The bag is awesome too because you can carry it around without it being obvious what it is.medela-pump
  • Changing table/pad: I don’t have a link to the exact changing pad/table we have because I bought ours off of Craig’s List so I’m not sure of the exact brand/style. In any case I love that it’s basically a chest of drawers also because it has tons of storage space underneath the changing table part.  I’ve been able to store all of our diapers, baby bathing supplies, lots of blankets, etc in the cabinet areas.  Also considering how much time we spend changing diapers it’s nice to have a table that’s at an ergonomic height that is good for our backs.
  • Diaper genie: If you’re on a strict budget this is one you can definitely skip, but I was blessed to receive one as a gift & it’s certainly a nice thing to have.  Of course if you’re exclusively breastfeeding baby poop doesn’t even really stink (as I’ve been pleasantly surprised to discover).  It’s still very useful though & I’m sure we’ll appreciate it even more once Rachel starts eating solid foods & having more stinky poops.


    Photo credit: Megan Cash Photography

I’m sure I’ve skipped a few things, but if you’re a first time mom reading this I hope you’ve found this list helpful.  Happy baby shopping!

… I just realized that sounds like you’re shopping to buy a baby.  Let me rephrase that: happy baby gear shopping!

Reflections of a New Mother

Six weeks ago today baby Rachel entered this world!  So much has happened in those six weeks, so in a way it seems like a long time, yet in another way it seems like no time at all.  I know all new parents say this but it really is hard to imagine my life without Rachel now that she is here.

The last two days have been pretty rough (although the past two nights have been great), so I thought it would be therapeutic to share some of my reflections on motherhood thus

  1. Being a mom is incredibly hard.  I always knew it would be; I was never naive enough to think this would be a walk in the park or all fun & joy.  Of course not.  But you just can’t understand how truly difficult it is until you do it.
  2. Motherhood is full of extreme emotions.  On any given day I cycle between extreme love, joy, devotion, fear, anxiety, frustration, & a whole gamut of other emotions.  This is all totally normal of course but it is exhausting at times to feel like an emotional yo-yo.
  3. That being said, the extreme joy & love truly do make up for all the more “negative” emotions.  I always worried that moms said that just because they felt they had to but it really is true.  Trust me, I’ve had moments when I’ve wondered if I made a mistake in becoming a mom.  And I’m sure I’ll have more of those moments for the rest of my life.  But the point is those are just moments.  They don’t last forever.  me-and-rachel-fire
  4. Taking care of yourself is absolutely imperative to surviving motherhood.  This is just one of many reasons that being a single mom (or dad) is clearly not how parenthood was designed.  I’ve quickly learned that it’s essential that I eat a reasonably healthy diet, drink plenty of water, spend some time outside, listen to music, take a shower, read a little here & there, & generally do all the things that help keep me sane.  My mantra these days is “You cannot pour from an empty cup.”  In other words, Rachel needs a healthy, sane mommy & that means I need to take care of myself every bit as much as I’m taking care of her.  Which feeds right into my next point.
  5. Being able to take care of myself is largely dependent on my husband’s support.  I know every mom says this but once again it is so true: I’ve never loved my husband more than when I see him with our daughter.  When he changes her diapers, pushes her stroller, wears her in the baby carrier on his chest, & cuddles & kisses her my heart truly melts.  Furthermore, when he does the dishes or the laundry or cooks me dinner I want to kiss his feet.  Parenthood is definitely meant to be a two person job.  I never doubted that but now that I’m living it I can attest that it is 100% true.daughter quote
  6. Moms are the most giving people in the world.  I can’t say thank you enough to all the wonderful ladies who have reached out to me for encouragement & support over the past six weeks.  Y’all know who you are & you’re all amazing.  I hope someday I can encourage other new moms the way so many of you have done for me.  Seriously, THANK YOU!
  7. Breastfeeding is hard.  Like woahhhh.  To be honest, it’s actually not been physically painful the way I feared it would be.  However, it is still very demanding, both mentally & physically.  While I was pregnant I set two breastfeeding goals.  My ultimate goal was/is to make it a full year, but I will be perfectly satisfied if I make it to six months.  My minimum goal was to make it to six weeks, & I’m happy to say that as of today I’ve fulfilled that goal.  Woohoo!  I haven’t made it this far without a TON of support & encouragement though.  It’s truly been a team effort in so many ways!  There have been so many days when I’ve wanted to throw in the towel & I’m sure there will be more of them, but knowing I’ve already made it this far will hopefully continue to encourage me on the difficult days.breastfeeding-cartoon
  8. Being a mom with anxiety & OCD tendencies is hard.  Thank goodness for a fantastic husband, a great mom, some dear friends, a wonderful therapist, & Zoloft.  And music.  (I switched from Prozac to Zoloft about 3 weeks ago at the suggestion of Rachel’s pediatrician because Zoloft is considered better for breastfeeding.)  Even if you don’t have a history of anxiety or depression or any other mental health issue, don’t be afraid to seek help as a new mom.  I think EVERYONE could benefit from a few sessions with a good therapist & no one more so than us frazzled, sleep-deprived new mommies.
  9. As much as I love Rachel now & am enjoying many things about the newborn/baby stage, I still very much look forward to her being a little older.  I know most moms say they miss the baby stage & often yearn for those days, but I seriously doubt that will ever be me (at least not often).  I’ve always said I prefer older kids & teens, & I still think that is true for me.  Trust me, I am not rushing anything.  I am enjoying (most) of where we are right now.  But there is a part of me that still can’t wait for the day when I can have real conversations with her, even about the hard stuff like death, sex, war, etc.  Yes, I’m crazy, I know, but I really do look forward to that day.  I also can’t wait to take her on hikes & to concerts & share the joy of all of those things with her.  It might make me weird, but I don’t think it makes me a bad mom to say that I will probably love being a mom even more as she gets older.motherhood-quote
  10. There is absolutely no room for comparison in motherhood.  I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: motherhood is not a competition.  Some moms breastfeed, some use formula, some do both.  Some moms make beautiful baby books, some don’t.  Some moms decorate a perfect nursery, some don’t.  Some moms co-sleep, some don’t.  Some moms wear their babies, some don’t.  And some babies will sleep through the night or learn to walk/talk faster than others.  The point is none of these things makes one mom better than another.  We are not competing against anyone.  Some moms seem like they have it all together while others of us are just happy we took a shower & did a load of laundry today.  As for me, I’m never going to be the mom who pretends she has it all figured out.  I think the world could benefit from more candidness.  The truth is my house is frequently a little messy (& it was like that long before I became a mom; I just have a better excuse now), I’ve shaved my legs a grand total of twice since I gave birth, & sometimes I hate breastfeeding.  I’m not “perfect” but I’m doing the best I can, & that’s all any of us can do.  At the end of the day if mom & baby are healthy & happy that’s all that matters.  Everything else is just details.
  11. Being a mom really is the best thing I’ve ever done.  End of story.  🙂

I’m not sure this song totally fits with the post but I discovered it last week & I’m in love with everything about it so I’m going to share it anyway.  (Yes, I’m still listening to “heavy” music.  Thankfully Rachel seems to like it!)  Check out the lyrics below:

I’ve always been a fan of the night life
‘Cause it’s the only life I had
Expressing my mind with paper & a pen playing my guitar
‘Till my fingers bled on the carpet
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
It wasn’t easy being rejected by the thing I wanted so bad
To be accepted, to be wanted
To wake up & say this is gonna be a good day
Maybe I wasn’t like all the normal kids
I was born just a little bit different
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
More than your word
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born just a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
I was born a little bit different
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You say I’m just a loser in the background
I can never seem to get it right
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
You told me I would back out, I would break down
I’m not even putting up a fight
But I’m learning my worth is more than your word
I got sick of it
I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it
I tried to fit in, I got sick of it