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!

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 far.me-and-rachel-penguin

  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

Final Pregnancy Update


Well, here I am at 38 weeks & I’m officially out of work until after delivery.  This was supposed to be my last week of work, but this past Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) I ended up in the hospital being checked for preeclampsia.  After working all night I came home feeling less than stellar, then ended up vomiting & generally feeling horrible & unable to sleep.  My doula encouraged me to speak to the midwife on call so I did.  The midwife asked me to come to the hospital to have my BP checked & lab work done.  As it turned out, my BP was borderline high & some of my labs were a little off but nothing too serious so they sent me home.  However, the midwife instructed me to follow up with the office on Monday rather than waiting till my normally scheduled visit on Wednesday.  She also asked me to keep track of my BP over the weekend which I did.  Granted I was checking it myself, which is actually not so difficult with a little practice, but I consistently got 140/90 ish readings all weekend, so yesterday morning I called the office as soon as they opened to make an appointment to be seen ASAP.  Thankfully I was able to get an appointment for mid morning.  pregnancy-meme

Unfortunately at the office my BP was 142/88 & I had proteinuria, both of which are new for me.  Up until Friday I have medically had a picture perfect pregnancy.  My BPs had been stellar, my blood work was all normal, my urine tests were fine, & my ultrasounds displayed a perfectly healthy baby.  I’ve been working out a bit less the past month or so as I’ve gotten bigger & more uncomfortable, but overall I’ve still continued to be active & made it to the gym or at least taken a good walk around the neighborhood 3-5 days a week.  My anxiety has been another story . . . but medically at least I was doing really well. pregnancy cartoon

The plan for now is for me to see one of the midwives again on Wednesday to have my BP & urine rechecked & possibly a non-stress test & to stop working until after delivery.  (Like I said this was going to be my last week anyway.)  They aren’t considering induction yet but if my BP gets worse, they very well may.  It’s just a waiting game at this point.  I’ve been so committed to a low intervention birth so the idea of an induction doesn’t thrill me because I know it carries its own risks.  However, if my BP remains elevated &/or my labs are abnormal I’ll obviously agree to it because I know it would be the best choice for me & the baby.  I’m just hoping that being out of work will help my BP to normalize.

peeing-pregnancy

Story of my life these days!!

In one way it’s a relief to know that I’m done with work because 12 hr night shifts have become a serious challenge of late.  But of course I’m not thrilled that I’m showing signs of possible preeclampsia.  And I do feel a bit guilty for “bailing” on my colleagues, but obviously I have to do what’s best for my own & the baby’s health at this point.  I know it must sound incredibly stupid, but it’s so hard for me to give myself permission to just relax & pamper myself a bit.  I’ve always been such a hardworking perfectionist that it’s difficult to accept that my only “job” right now is to simply relax & take care of myself & the baby.  There is also a part of me that is disappointed that despite trying to take such good care of myself I’m still having complications with this pregnancy.  But I’m trying to remind myself that this is largely beyond my control, & as my therapist has told me a millions times, it’s not worth stressing about things I can’t control.

waiting-on-baby

Amen!  For a planner like me, this is a bit rough.

I should probably be sleeping but I felt like I needed to write a bit before my mind would fully relax.  So here’s hoping for a good night’s rest now that I’ve vented a bit.  And laughed at funny pregnancy memes.  (You’re welcome.)

I’m sure this song was written in a very different context, but the lyrics feel perfect for me right now.  Being a soft acoustic piece it showcases a very different side of Upon a Burning Body.  It also just so happens that the lead singer’s wife is currently pregnant & due a week after me.  In fact we’ve been following each other’s Instagram accounts throughout our pregnancies which has been rather fun.  In any case, it’s how I’m going to end this post since I’m otherwise a bit at a loss for words right now.

waddling

Accurate!!

See me staring back in the mirror
You don’t have to try so hard
Suddenly life is much clearer
You don’t have to change a thingI’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay

And I don’t care what they think of me
Cause I’m not ashamed
Of the person I am today
I want you to see the happiest that I’ll ever be
Is just being myself

Because I’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (And that’s okay)

Over and over, I pay the cost of playing this game
What can I do to escape?
I will never be the man I want to be
If I can’t learn from my mistakes

I’m not perfect & that’s okay with me
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (And that’s okay)
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (I’m not perfect!)
I’m not perfect & that’s okay (I’m not perfect!)

My Biggest Announcement Ever…


Some of you may recognize the majority of this post because I originally wrote & shared it last January (2015, that is).  In any case, the post has come full circle now because I’M PREGNANT!  In case you’re wondering, yes, this was very much planned & thought out as much as humanly possible.  And no, I couldn’t be more excited!  🙂  pregnancy superpower

I had my first ultrasound on Friday.  I didn’t cry like I was told I would, but it was INCREDIBLE to not only hear the heartbeat but to actually SEE the heart beating on the screen.  Yes, I’m a nurse but I’m definitely NOT an OB nurse & I’ve forgotten most of what I learned in OB class, which is probably a blessing because it means I’m less likely to obsess over every little thing that could go wrong, but in any case I definitely didn’t realize I’d be able to actually SEE that tiny heart beating, especially this early (I’m due in December).  Anyway, immediately after the ultrasound & bloodwork, we drove up to VA to see my grandmother & my mom’s side of the family so we could give them the news in person.  The next day we visited my husband’s mom & sister (who already knew about the baby), & then on Sunday we had Mother’s Day lunch with my parents & sister & three of my dad’s siblings.  My parents & sister already knew about the baby of course, but it was so much fun to be able to share the news with my aunts & uncles in person & on Mother’s Day no less.  pregnancy cartoon

Also I feel inclined to explain why I’m sharing this exciting news “so early” (I’m 9 weeks today).  Yes, I realize it’s standard practice to wait till 11-12 weeks to tell everyone because of the risk of miscarriage, & I understand why many people do choose to wait.  However, for me I felt like I just couldn’t keep such big news a secret for so long.  Besides that, statistics show that if you can find a heartbeat on ultrasound at 8 weeks, you have a 97% chance of having a viable pregnancy (in other words NOT having a miscarriage).  I like those odds!  Perhaps most importantly, I think the standard rule of waiting 3 months is based on the idea that people shouldn’t talk about miscarriages, that it’s something shameful to be kept a secret at all costs.  Frankly I think that’s ridiculous, & if I did have a miscarriage I would rather people knew about it so they could grieve with me & understand why I was struggling.  I understand some people may feel differently & that’s fine, but I think I made the right choice for me, & that’s all that matters.

birth cartoon

Too funny not to share

Anyway, without further ado, here’s the original post that now feels even more relevant & poignant.

As some of you may know, for many years I was quite sure I never wanted to have children.  Deep down I knew I’d probably change my mind someday but I just couldn’t imagine that ever happening.  I’ve just never been one of those women who instantly connects with children or feels really comfortable with them.  Perhaps this is because I wasn’t the happiest child myself; indeed I was always in a hurry to grow up & I’ve never been happier than I have been since I reached adulthood.

P1120177

Our corgi Chaucer running in the snow this winter

In any case, as it so happens, I’ve been thinking A LOT about becoming a mom lately.  It’s probably partly due to having Chaucer (my dog) & watching him grow up & how wonderful that is.  And it’s probably partly because I’m 26 so I’m hitting what might be considered a normal age to start having kids.  (Hell, where I grew up I’m already far behind!)

When I do decide to have kids, you can be sure I’ll have thought about all the possibilities & consequences.  I’ve read all the articles about how kids ruin your sleep, your appearance, your metabolism, your sex life, your marriage, your career, & everything else.  (May I just say my husband & I are determined to prove all those articles wrong?)  I’ve never been one of those “starry-eyed” women who see babies & only think of cuddles & love.  No indeed.  When I see babies I think about the pain of labor & breastfeeding & the sleepless nights.  Does this make me cold-hearted & unfeeling?  No, I think it just makes me realistic.  And as one of my dearest friends told me today, the fact that I’ve thought about all of these things & am taking this decision so seriously is probably evidence that I will actually be a good mom.  Her saying that means the world to me because whenever I express doubt about becoming a mom or admit that I’m not particularly fond of most young children, it seems that most people give me that look that implies something must be inherently wrong with me & say “Well, if you’re not sure, you better not do it.” blankie baby

In any case, as part of my pondering about becoming a mom, my mind keeps thinking of all the things I want to teach my children someday.  I know some people will probably think I’m really pretentious for writing out this list, but the way I see it is it’s better to have a lot of plans that I might never fully accomplish than to have no plans at all. 

  1. I will teach my children the importance of asking both “Why?” & “Why not?” If the subject is something to believe or trust, the appropriate question is “Why?”  If the subject is something fun to do, the appropriate question is “Why not?”
  2. I will teach my children to play in rain puddles, piles of leaves, & grassy meadows.
  3. I will teach my children to value people of different races, ethnicities, & cultures. I will teach them that no one is superior or inferior than anyone else but especially not because of something so superficial as race, gender, or nationality.diverse kids
  4. I will teach my children that love is love & it doesn’t matter who it’s between as long as they are two consenting adults who are not hurting each other.
  5. I will teach my kids the value of good nutrition & eating well.
  6. I will teach my kids to enjoy exercise, even if it’s just running around the yard chasing the dog.
  7. On that subject, I will teach my kids that dogs really are man’s (& woman’s) best friend.
  8. I will teach my kids to love rock & roll. I will take them to rock concerts when they are old enough (probably 10-12 or older).  I will be that crazy mom who is screaming to the music with my kids & I will not be ashamed or apologize for it.  In the car we will rock out to Halestorm, Godsmack, & Black Stone Cherry (among others).
  9. I will teach my children not to judge others based on appearance. I will teach them that some of the best people in the world are covered with tattoos & piercings while some of the most deceitful people in the world are dressed in suits & ties.
  10. I will teach my children that life isn’t all fun & games but it isn’t all misery & suffering either. It’s a little bit of everything & we have to learn to appreciate all of it.
  11. I will teach my children that life’s not fair & they better get used to that real fast.choices
  12. I will teach my kids that they alone are responsible for the choices they make; thus they better be ready to face the consequences of their actions, no matter what they are.
  13. I will teach my children that sex is wonderful & amazing . . . & because of that they better be careful who they do it with & when. But I will never make them feel that sex in & of itself is something dirty or something to be ashamed of.
  14. I will teach my children about birth control & how it works & why they had better use it until the day they (& their partner) are absolutely certain they are ready to be parents.
  15. I will teach my children that education is the key to success in life . . . but they better have a plan to go along with it because degrees alone are worthless these days.
  16. I will teach my kids that there is no job that is beneath them & working hard at everything they do is essential to success in life.
  17. I will teach my kids to show respect to everyone they meet, whether it’s their doctor, their teacher, or the janitor.self respect
  18. I will teach my children that “everything in moderation” is a really great motto in life, the only exceptions being things like heroin & cocaine. Just have some common sense!
  19. I will teach my kids that things in & of themselves are never evil; it’s how we use them that makes them good or bad. For example, the internet isn’t evil just because some creeps use it to prey on children or watch porn.  Books aren’t evil just because some of them say things you don’t like.  Music isn’t evil just because some of it contains lyrics that are rude or disparaging.
  20. I will teach my kids the importance of valuing every single day they’re alive because life is never guaranteed.
  21. I will teach my kids that they don’t have to be just like me for me to love them or be proud of them. There is more than one road to success in life & theirs might look very different than mine.  And that’s ok.Dalai lama quote
  22. I will teach my kids that in order to be successful in life they need to get off their ass & get moving. Success doesn’t come to those who wait for it.  It comes to those who set goals & work hard to meet them.
  23. I will teach my children that the exact words people say are far less important than the feelings behind them.
  24. On a similar token, I will teach my children that actions speak far louder than words.
  25. I will teach my children to always be honest about their intentions with others.
  26. I will teach my kids the value of empathy & how important it is to just listen to others when they are suffering.
  27. I will teach my children that the world doesn’t owe them anything. They will not be entitled brats if it kills me.
  28. I will teach my kids that the purpose of life is to live it, to soak up every experience life has to offer, & to revel in the love we have for each other.
  29. If I have daughters, I will make sure my husband teaches them how to check the oil in their car & how to change a tire because these are all things I’ve never learned & I want my daughters to be more independent than I am.
  30. If I have sons, I will teach them how to do laundry & basic cooking because I love that I never had to teach my husband any of these things.
  31. I will teach my children that society has various expectations of them based on gender but they need to choose their own path, regardless of what society says.

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    Grayson Highlands in SW Virginia

  32. I will teach my kids to value the simple beauties of nature: the way the sky looks just before it rains, the sweet smell of honeysuckle in the spring time, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the feeling of snowflakes tickling your nose, & the way a little frost makes the whole world look magical.
  33. I will teach my children to love curry & all foods Indian & Mediterranean. If not, they might starve at our house . . .
  34. I will teach my kids that having an argument with someone doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It just means you disagreed about something & the worst thing you can do in such situations is to bottle up your emotions & hold them in until you explode.
  35. I will teach my kids to question everything & never believe something just because such & such person said it. I will teach them to judge everything based on its own merits.
  36. I will share with my kids the joy of reading & searching out used book stores in all corners of the city.
  37. I will take my children to visit their elders & teach them to appreciate all the things the elderly can teach us about life.weird awesome
  38. I will teach my children that being weird is awesome & following the crowd is for losers.
  39. I will teach my children that no one can make them feel inferior without their consent.
  40. I will teach my kids the difference between serving others & being a doormat. It’s a fine line but it’s one you have to find.
  41. I will teach my kids that in order to take care of others, they must first learn to take care of themselves. As hard as it will be to do so, I will role model this for them as best I can.
  42. I will teach my children that, like things, emotions are never evil. It’s what we do with them that matters.  I do not want them to grow up feeling guilty for experiencing anger, sadness, lust, or any other “sinful” emotion.  I just want to teach them healthy ways to express these feelings.
  43. I will teach my kids that nothing in life is perfect all the time. Life isn’t a fairytale but it’s still pretty damn good if we make good choices & chase our passions.
  44. I will teach my children that even though being a mom is immeasurably important I am still other things too: a wife, a sister, a daughter, a nurse, etc. Even though I know all children have a hard time thinking of their mothers as anything else, I hope they’ll learn to appreciate me as more than just “a mom” if that makes any sense.
  45. I will teach my children that we are all hypocrites sometimes & no matter how hard we try we all fail to live up to our own ideals at times. We just have to keep striving to do the best we can & stay humble when we make mistakes.
  46. And, perhaps greatest of all, I will kiss & hug my children every day & teach them to never doubt how much I love them.baby names

Musings From a Perfect Summer Evening


Over the past 24 hours I’ve frequently found myself thinking about just how blessed I really am.  For example, yesterday evening I spent some time at our neighborhood pool reading the new Corey Taylor book (he’s the lead singer of both Stone Sour & Slipknot, two amazing rock/metal bands, in case you were unaware), & during my time there I kept thinking to myself how absolutely perfect the evening was.  Taylor’s latest book is, as always, both astoundingly hilarious & devastatingly profound, so that alone would be enough to make for a pleasant evening.  (It’s called You’re Making Me Hate You, & you can find it on Amazon.)  Add to that the pristine peacefulness of sitting by the pool watching the sunlight filtering through the pine trees, creating dancing shadows & shifting shapes on the fence.  Furthermore I had the pool entirely to myself for quite a bit of time, so I said “To hell with safety” & swam alone for what was probably the first time in my life.  To be clear, I’m a perfectly adept swimmer, but the nurse in me was screaming “No one should ever swim alone, not even Michael Phelps!”  But I silenced that voice because, as I said to myself then, what’s the point of life if you don’t take a few (calculated & intelligently planned) risks now & then?

The pool last night

The pool last night

Additionally as I walked back to the house after my time at the pool, I found myself watching the sky in utter fascination & awe.  It doesn’t matter how many beautiful clouds or sunsets I’ve seen; each new experience is just as meaningful & stunning as the last.  As I stopped to take a picture of the vibrant blue sky with feathery white clouds, I thought to myself, “THIS is why I want to have kids someday, so they can experience the beauty of nature & the simple pleasures of being alive.”

The sky last night

The sky last night

This of course led to further pondering about why I do in fact, after much deliberation & a boatload of self-doubt, want to be a mother someday.  I don’t want to be a mom so I can have a “mini me” running around.  God knows, the world probably doesn’t need that!  Ha!  I don’t want to have kids so that I can live vicariously through them, to have them fulfill the dreams that I haven’t yet fulfilled myself. And I don’t want to have kids just out of fear that I’ll regret it someday if I don’t.  Furthermore, though it’s tempting at times, I don’t want to have kids just so I can “keep up” with my friends who are pregnant & starting their own families now.

My favorite hike in VA: Grayson Higlands

My favorite hike in VA: Grayson Highlands

No, I want to have kids so I can share with them the intense pleasures of being alive.  Yes, going to college & obtaining a great career is wonderful.  Indeed it is exactly what allows me to live a financially stable life in which I can have, within reason of course, almost anything I want (decent vacations every year, concerts to see my favorite bands, going out to eat with friends on a regular basis, etc).   But I don’t want to have kids just so I can see them grow up to become doctors or lawyers or scientists or whatever else represents “success.”  To be clear, I’ll be damned if they grow up to be ignorant fools who are a burden on society.  Of course I want them to be successful . . .

Beautiful fall colors at House Mountain near Lexington, VA

Beautiful fall colors at House Mountain near Lexington, VA

But more than that I want them to be happy, to understand that the point of life isn’t just to have a good career, own a house, get married, etc.  The purpose of life is simply to live it, to soak up as many experiences as we can during our short stay on this earth.  I want to have kids so I can share with them the feeling of the wet grass beneath our feet & the sand between our toes.  I want to sit under the stars with them & stare in wonder at the nighttime sky, to watch a sunset & feel the magic of simply being alive to witness it.  I want to share with them the beauty of the mountains & the beach & the Fall leaves as they change colors & drift to the ground.  I want to share with my kids the pleasures of exploring the world & learning about different cultures & people & ways of life on this planet we all call home.  I could go on & on, but I suppose you get the picture by now.diverse kids

As I’m finishing up this post, it occurs to me that my husband & I moved to NC three years ago today.  What a crazy day that was!  When we moved here, I had no idea if I’d really like it or not.  I had no idea if I’d be able to adapt to living in a city with almost half a million people, in a culture that is very different than anything I’d ever known previously.  In reality it took a few months, closer to a year I suppose, to start making friends & really feeling at home here, but now I love this area & can’t imagine a better place to raise kids somedayAmazing how life works out sometimes when you take a calculated risk & run with it!

One of the absolute greatest pleasures of my life: our Welsh corgi named Chacuer

One of the absolute greatest pleasures of my life: our Welsh corgi named Chaucer

I’m not sure really what the exact purpose of this post is other than to say that I’m once again reminded of the gloriousness there is in just being alive & having the chance to chase your dreams while also relishing in the simple pleasures of life that make this journey truly worthwhile.  As I draw to a close, a storm has just rolled in, & as the rain pours down & the thunder snarls, I’m reminded once again of the beauty & power of nature.  I grew up being terrified of storms, & even now I still feel an initial blip of fear whenever a storm starts.  But I’ve learned that storms can be beautiful.  So instead of sitting here in fear like I would have for most of my life, I’m going to watch the rain, listen to some music (but not loud enough to disguise the rolling of the thunder), cuddle with my corgi, & revel in the beauty of nature once again.

I didn't take this picture, but I thought it was pretty cool.

I didn’t take this picture, but I thought it was pretty cool.

Cheers!

Three Reasons Why I Won’t Be a Good Mom


**DISCLAIMER. I AM NOT PREGNANT, NOR AM I TRYING TO BECOME PREGNANT, NOR DO I PLAN TO TRY TO BECOME PREGNANT ANY TIME IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE (AKA, NEXT 1-2 YRS).  Just wanted to put that out there before anyone gets too excited & reads way too much into this post.

As I have mentioned in a few previous posts, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about having kids over the past year or so.  It’s not something I want to do RIGHT NOW; it’s just something I THINK about often which is a huge step considering just two years ago I was pretty sure I never wanted children (though on some deeper level I think I always knew I would someday; I just thought that someday would be much further in the future).  In any case, the recurring theme in my mind seems to be that despite my new-found desire to be a mom I’m not sure I’m really suited for parenthood.  Here’s why.

1. First of all, I am truly an introvert at heart.  I value my alone time very highly.  Trust me, the idea of actually living alone scares me because I do crave human interaction, but at the same time I really value having alone time to listen to music, play my flute, read books & blogs, & generally just relax.  It’s this alone time doing these types of activities that allows me to rest & recharge.  Being an introvert does not necessarily mean that I’m shy or don’t like social interactions.  It simply means that my ENERGY comes from my alone time, not from my time spent with others.  Well, one of the most common themes I hear about motherhood is that you will NEVER BE ALONE AGAIN.  Let me be clear & say that the idea of having a toddler follow me to the bathroom bothers me very little.  But the idea that I might not regularly be able to allot a few hours of time to spend by myself reading & catching up on the things that keep me sane?  That’s scary.  I don’t know if I can handle that.  I truly believe that in order to be an effective parent you have to keep your own sanity which means taking care of yourself as much as you take care of others.  For me that means I need a certain amount of alone time every week . . . But how is that going to happen when I have children, especially since I don’t have any family in the immediate area?  It will be a daunting challenge to put it mildly.  Additionally there is the challenge of never again having alone time with my husband.  That scares me greatly because it’s our alone time together that keeps our relationship strong  .  .  .

2. Secondly, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be suited to being a mom because there is so much about life that I don’t know & that I’m quite sure I’ll never know.  I’ve always had this idea that parents need to have a very firm set of beliefs to give to their children & I know that I will never have that to give to my childrenThere are just too many things in life that can never be fully answered.  The world isn’t black & white, no matter how much we might sometimes want it to be because we (wrongly) think that would make life easier.  Deep down I know that I do have a lot of values that I will try to instill in my children, values that are not based on strict rules or regulations but rather in the simple knowledge of doing what is right in this world.  But the world is full of shades of grey & parents are tasked with teaching their children how to navigate such a terrifying yet wonderful place.  And I am just not sure that I am up to the task.

3. Perhaps I should have started with this point but lastly I have never really liked babies & young children that much.  I often hear moms say “I just wish they’d stay little forever” & I have to resist the urge to laugh & ask them if they are insane.  You mean you LIKE the fact that your kids are completely dependent on you & don’t allow you even two seconds to think peacefully on your own?  How is that fun?!  When I think about having kids, I think about taking them on trips, going to the beach, hiking in the mountains, showing them how to cook, teaching them about life by analyzing everything from movies & TV shows to books & music, & most importantly of course showing them how much I love them every day.  I think about how much fun it will be to watch my kids play sports or participate in band or graduate from college & find an exciting career.  And the joy of becoming a grandparent someday.  Basically most of the things that I think sound fun about parenting all involve kids who are at least 5, if not closer to 10.  Indeed I’ve often said if kids could just arrive at age 5, that would suit me just fine.  But the idea of having an infant who is completely & utterly dependent on me for EVERYTHING for every second of its existence?  Wow, that is just incomprehensibly scary.  I know most women look at babies & just see a bundle of joy.  I see that too but I also see all the WORK that goes into those little bundles of joy: the long nights without sleep, the pain of trying to breastfeed, the upset tummies, the dirty diapers, & the never-ending fatigue from dealing with all of that.  Sometimes I wish I weren’t so capable of visualizing the REALITY of motherhood because then maybe I’d doubt my ability to handle it a lot less.  On the other hand, maybe realizing how difficult motherhood really is will make me less resentful of it when the day finally comes.  I don’t know.  I just know that I’ve never been one of those women who picks up a baby or a toddler & just knows exactly how to interact with them.  I’ve always felt completely clueless & like I must be missing some “nurturing mommy” trait that other girls clearly inherited & I didn’t.  I’m reassured when some moms tell me that they’ve never been particularly thrilled with other people’s children but they love their own to death.  I believe them.  I really do.  Additionally,  when I hear about someone else being pregnant, I fully believe that the moment they hold their child for the first time, their heart will be so full of love & suddenly they will find the strength to raise that child, no matter how scared they are.  But then I see myself in that same situation & suddenly I am full of nothing but doubts & I find myself facing the horrible fear that I might give birth to a child & not feel that inherent connection that mothers are supposed to feel.  That if I don’t know how to relate to other people’s children, I won’t know how to relate to my own either.  Why do I have faith for other people but not for myself?  Arghhhhh.

I don’t know why I’m writing all of this.  I guess I’m just trying to vent my frustrations & make some sense out of what is obviously a very complicated topic.  The reason these thoughts bother me so much is that when I have kids I really want to love them with every fiber of my being.  I want to be the absolute best mom I can be.  I am fully aware of the fact that this does NOT mean having a perfectly organized house all the time but rather spending TIME with my children & showing them love every day of their life.  I know that being the best mom I can be does not mean my children will always have perfectly coordinated outfits or even perfectly CLEAN outfits every day of the week.  Rather it means never forgetting to say “I love you,” always being there to kiss & hug them after a hard day, building up their self-confidence, & experiencing that love between mother & child that is like nothing else on Earth.  In my heart I know that having the maturity to understand these things probably means I actually WILL be a good mom.  But my heart is still full of so many doubts.

I feel like most girls grow up strongly visualizing themselves as mothers someday.  But I just never thought of myself that way.  So I have no idea if it’s normal to be full of so many doubts & questions regarding the subject of motherhood.  If there are any moms out there reading this, I would be very appreciative to hear your thoughts.

Shut Up, Brain!


“Shut up, brain!”

Does anyone else find themselves saying this a lot?  I sure do.  If there’s anything I love about myself it’s the fact that I’m very introspective & analytical.  I can never stop thinking, thinking, thinking all the time.  This is either a sign of intelligence or insanity or perhaps both; I’ve never been quite sure.  In any case, this aspect of me is both my most loved & most hated attribute.  I love being introspective & analytical because it makes me a good writer (how else do I makes sense of all the ideas dancing around non-stop in my brain?) & a good nurse (or at least I like to think so).  It also makes me a good friend, a good wife, a good person.

brain

On the other hand I hate it because it makes me anxious, prematurely “old,” & generally odd.  It makes me the kind of person who doesn’t get invited to a lot of parties or bars.  It makes me that weirdo who actually STRUGGLES with relaxing.  Yes, I know, ridiculous, right?  You know how many times in my life people have casually told me “Drink some wine.  Have a beer.  Just relax”?  If I had a dollar for each of these occurrences, I’d be quite wealthy by now.  But I don’t.  If only these people understood what it was like to have that voice in your head that never shuts up, that even alcohol isn’t capable of silencing.  That unrelenting thirst for knowledge, emotional depth, & intimacy & the never-ending curiosity that sends the mind reeling with endless questions, many of which will never have solid answers, at all hours of day & night.  On rare occasions a glass of wine really is relaxing for me.  But most of the time it just makes me pee a lot.  Tonight is the latter unfortunately.

I’ve often said if I could change anything about myself, I would change the fact that I am such a “serious” person who truly does struggle with the ability to relax.  I don’t even know how to really describe this phenomenon because it’s not that I don’t have fun or enjoy life.  I certainly do.  It’s just that there’s always that voice in my head that never STOPS.  I’m not talking about hallucinations here.  I’m just saying that I can never stop THINKING, THINKING, THINKING all the damn time about EVERYTHING.  It’s really quite exhausting.  There are times in my life like tonight where I think I’d trade everything I have to know what it’s like to just say “I’m not going to think about such & such right now” & actually do it.  To look at a situation & not probe so far beneath the surface.  To look at a baby & see only the wonderful side of motherhood instead of thinking too about all of the work it involves & how I’ll never be up to the task.  Arghh.

In the end though it’s this analytical introspectiveness that defines me more than anything else.  For better or worse, it’s what makes me who I am.  And I know there is a place in the world for people like me.  We’re needed just as much as anyone else, even if we’re never going to be the “life of the party” so to speak.  I like to think it’s this highly analytical thinking that makes me appreciate the simple things in life so much: the beauty of a sunset, the sound of the breeze rustling through the trees, the way the frost makes everything look so magical in the mornings, the intensity of emotions that music (even, or perhaps especially, music without words) can incite.  In any case, this is the hand I’ve been dealt & I’m going to play it the best I can.

So, brain, carry on; do what you do best: THINK about everything all the time.  But just leave me with enough sanity to remember that I’m not alone & that life really is amazing.  Thanks.