Oct 282014
 

Ana Begins
I can only assume that most parents have a conscious or subconscious idea about each new experience their child will inevitably discover as days, months and years unwind. I may be alone here, but what completely caught me off guard were the array of and often surprising feelings visiting me as my child experienced her new world. I might have been a bit at a disadvantage, as growing up feelings in my house were 99.9% taboo. In the last six and half years I have been transformed, or maybe re-born.

Alongside my daughter’s “firsts” I have opened a world of my own “firsts”. Seeing the world through my child’s eyes has brought me much joy, such as the cold sweet taste of ice cream spread around a smile or feeling the soft white sand tickling our feet. I have empathized with her frustration as a special toy has had a “time-out” do to the consequences of breaking rules.

What I DID NOT expect were the “firsts” that would fly by at jet speed and knock me right side up. “Firsts” with my name engraved wickedly large enough so there was zero confusion to whom they belong. The first time my bright-eyed and chubby munchkin pushed me away from a hug “no, mama… no” and quickly wiggled off the couch to sprint toward the toy bin. I felt jealousy. Jealousy? But, I don’t DO jealousy, especially not of a toy bin. Then there was the time she lied to me about brushing her teeth. She LIED to ME… Ouch. It hurt, but why? I’m supposed to be the grownup. It was suppose to be a simple, “Honey, we don’t lie and always tell the truth. Mommy will always love you no matter what. If you did not brush your teeth and need help I will help you. Telling a lie hurts your heart”. Simple, done, lesson learned moving on. I did not expect her to walk behind me and ask if it’s hard to have more than one kid. “Mama, you should be really thankful, because you just have one”. Double ouch! She’s 4! I felt bruised. Had I been too hard on her? Then there was the first time dropping her off at the babysitters = guilt, sadness, anxiety, doubt.

Not all “firsts” were difficult. Many were amazing and gave me strength as a mom and as an individual. The first time she made her bed and wore a smile of pride across her enchanting face. I felt satisfaction, pride and independence. The first time she introduced herself to a new friend without prompting. I felt more pride, security and joy. The first time she told me she loved her school’s cook’s homemade soup. I felt grateful, curious and comfort knowing she was loved and nourished at the place my husband and I chose to add to our village.

What I have learned through this journey as a mom is that I have feelings, and my feelings matter just as much as anyone else’s. I get to be angry, hurt, happy, joyful, proud, stressed, worried, sad, ecstatic, silly, independent, thoughtful, grateful. The key is to not enmesh my feelings with my child or her experience. My responsibility is to respect her experience separate from my own, but bask in the gift that I also get an experience, and many more “Firsts”.

To learn more about Ana, please read our introductory post about her.
Oct 162014
 

Ana Begins
“What happened to my Banana?” he said. “You use to be so fun”. Hmmph. Seriously. What did happen? I absolutely use to be fun (just ask Lorena…. Oh, wait on another note DO NOT ask her, she might tell you). As I dug the garbage out of the recycling can ready to strongly remind my family that dirty yogurt containers and used tissues DO NOT go in the recycle I wondered, “Where did I go? Should I start knocking door-to-door trying to find me”? If I had known this part of me would get lost I would have invested in a nice shiny tag that stated “When fun lost please contact Ana prior to 2008”.

I blame it on The Mom Switch. You know, that switch that goes “click” the moment your bundle gets handed to you for the very first time. Or is that the moment I quickly blame on becoming No Fun? I wish I had rolled my eyes at my beloved as I fished through the recycle bin, quietly fuming at how I am the only one who cleans up messes in this house. But I couldn’t because, dare I say it, “He was rrriig.. ri… right”. Could I live with the label, Buzz Kill, Party Pooper, Ball and Chain or even worse Annoying Mom? Could I live knowing every time my family made a mess I would shudder in resentment and annoyance at the task I would indeed have to clean up? No I couldn’t.

Why can’t I be the one to start the tickle wars, water gun fights and funny face contests? What is stopping me from making a special night dinner of hot fudge sundaes? Cannon-balls at the pool? I’m there! Singing at the top of my lungs in the car? Count me in! Fake reptiles in the drawers? The more the better! Fun Ana is back!

Just as soon as I clean up the exploded can of soda in the freezer and fish all of the loom bands stuck in the vacuum.

To learn more about Ana, please read our introductory post about her.
Aug 182014
 

Ana Begins
Episode #1
The day comes when you venture to the park with your new little bundle. Excited to be out of the house you anticipate meeting other mommies at the park. Maybe you will meet a new park friend in the process.
You have chosen a nice sunny spot right next to the sandbox, where small toddlers are busy digging. Two mommies are sitting within arms-reach. You cannot quite tell if they know each other. They seem friendly enough.

Mommy #1 “I plan to breast feed my daughter for AT LEAST one year. You know, it is the best for them and I cannot understand how any mother would think to do any less”.
Mommy #2 “I tried to breast feed my son, but I didn’t make it past two months. It was painful and exhausting”.
Mommy #1 “Did you call a lactation consultant? It really is the best for them. My two other kids were breast fed until they were two and a half and they are both in the ninety-nine percentile”.
The second mommy looks somewhat put off, then quickly announces it’s almost lunchtime and exits the conversation. Not really knowing where to go, as you never produced enough milk to breast feed at all, you say “Wow. That’s great”.
Mommy #1 looks at you, “What do you do? Are you working or staying home”? Feeling cautious you keep your answer open ended, “I am spending time with my baby for now”.
Mommy #1 quickly adds, “Staying home really is best for kids. They shouldn’t be away from the mothers until they are ready to go to Kindergarten. Why have kids if you are going to pay someone else to raise them? It really doesn’t make any sense”.

Episode #2
My daughter is very friendly and loves making new friends EVERYwhere we go. On our weekly Friday hot cocoa date we sat enjoying our treats at the local coffee shop. To her excitement two little girls walked in with their mommies and sat at the table next to us. My daughter stepped over introducing herself and one of the mommies complimented her skirt. I encouraged her to say “thank you”. Next thing I know the mother asks my daughter to turn around, puts her hands on her waste, slightly twists her and checks the tag. I sat there stunned and speechless. She turns to her friend and loudly announces, “I would NEVER pay that much for my daughter’s clothing”! and laughs.

When preparing for motherhood no one ever tells you how to prepare responses for these conversations. Or are we always aware of how we may express our preferences to others.

What I have learned from these encounters are that I have probably, without truly recognizing what I was saying, have made a statement about what I feel is best without considering those around me. I cannot control what others say, but I can control how I react, and have taken that into account when discussing touchy topics. Same size does not fit all. Everyone has their own ideas and experiences on how they want to raise their kids. With the exception of child abuse I really don’t have the right or responsibility to overstep my opinion. If I want respect I need to show respect. I have made choices for my family and I should feel confident in my choices. It’s not about me. These comments have nothing to do with the receiver and everything to do with the sender. Thinking of an encouraging phrase can help dissipate negativity.

Lastly, surround yourself with mommies who naturally offer empathy and support mutually. Motherhood is challenging enough.

To learn more about Ana, please read our introductory post about her.
Apr 282014
 

Whether it a choice or chance as we enter the path of parenthood we gather piles upon piles of rules, tactics, recommendations and demands.  We naively begin with expectations so set in stone, or we think, that our plans are fool-proof. The tactics that failed us in our childhoods at the hands of our parents are sure to be fixed by doing the exact opposite for our own offspring.  We take the successes of our parents and multiply them, thinking a double shot of proven hypothesis is sure to create Our Perfect Child. Foolproof. 

 

In the midst of making rules and schedules, following handbooks and experts we become trapped by our good intentions. The comparisons brought on by us or our peers can dig out hidden insecurities.  We feel clueless as we look in the mirror and cannot see the wonderful parent standing before us, but solely choose to see the reflection an imperfect human thinking ”I thought I had this”.

 

Let go of the third party handbooks, “expert” advice, how to’s and checklists.  Use the tools at your fingertips, your instinct, experience, mind and heart.  Be their guide, not their engineer.  Show them how to be human, flawed, beautiful, mindful, real and loving.  Because when they look at you all they see is perfection.

 

To learn more about Ana, please read our introductory post about her.
Jan 232014
 

 

I’m exhausted. What day is it? Did I shower? Did I eat? Oh, yeah I had four cheerios, a handful of goldfish, three apple slices and coffee. I’m not sure if that was today or yesterday or a combination. Thank the heavens for coffee. What would I do without coffee?

Did someone say “nap time” ?! Baby down, toddler down. Here is my break, my long hour break to do laundry, clean the kitchen. Oh wait what was I thinking? My proposal is due in three days. Laundry, proposal, laundry, proposal, laundry….. Ok – I can do laundry tonight, fold in the morning after breakfast. Ha! fold? We can fish from the bin.

If I could only find my keyboard under this pile of bills. Ugh, bills. I’ll organize them tonight, after I do the laundry. They should sleep tonight. Fingers crossed. Focus, focus. Check email….should not have checked email. So tired. When did yoga pants become my wardrobe staple? How did this happen? Oh, yeah – now I remember, (smirk). “I’m so tired”. Maybe I’m pregnant? When did I start collecting yoga pants? Dinner! It’s going to have to be breakfast for dinner. Why do I always have to plan dinner? I’m not the only one that eats. Tonight I will not make my toddler a different meal. I will not! He eats what we eat. Oh but he hates eggs – maybe I have some turkey. Grocery store tomorrow. Start grocery list… turkey, apples, eggs, milk…

Baby is up, toddler, not up…who decorated the wall blue? Was that there this morning? Get diapers, wipes. Ugh, defective diaper. Looks like laundry just moved up on the list. Strip the baby, clean the baby, change the baby. She’s such a happy girl. Slightly jealous of the baby….

I wish someone would wash and feed me too, and nap time! I want nap time… So tired.

Toddler is up. No please don’t take your clothes off. Okay two naked kiddies. Wish I could go commando whenever I wanted. They get all the fun. Not the markers! Where did he find those, I hid them…. Thank you Aunt Sally for the markers. At least they are washable.. what they heck.

 

Who wants a washable tattoo? Looks like it’s a bath night… Wait, what day is it?

 

To learn more about Ana, please read our introductory post about her.