Grief and Parenting

My beautiful grandmother recently passed away, and though her 99 years were long and happy, there’s still grieving to do. She was “ready” to die, but I wasn’t ready to loose her.

As a momma of three kiddos (4, 2, and 9 months), who starts earning her Master’s in Counseling in a couple of weeks, I’m extremely aware of how necessary it is for me to at least try to be aware of the state of my mental health.

I am aware of the pain that her death has caused. It’s much easier to sweep it under the rug and pretend that it doesn’t exist. It would be easier to push on with parenting, cooking, cleaning, prepping for grad school, and focusing on my family without acknowledging the presence of pain. My family can’t afford that, though. I have to grieve, for all of us, and I have to do it now.

Grieving is necessary

Grief is a choice. “Grieve” is a verb. It’s an action word. It’s not just feeling pain. It’s using the pain to heal.

In her 1969 book On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlines the stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. My work with caregivers of cancer patients taught me that these stages are more fluid than they seem. They can be short or long. They can coexist. They can jump around. They look different for everyone.

Grieving isn’t checking off boxes on a list. It’s as simple (and as hard) as choosing to allow yourself to do it. Contrary to common beliefs, feeling is hard! It’s easier to be unaffected and move on. Feeling can be messy and uncomfortable. Feelings happen for a reason, though, and the pain of loss has to be processed.

To me, grief is reserved for the loss of strong attachments. I can’t speak to what Kubler-Ross says, and I can’t promise that I’m right, but I don’t think that it’s necessary to grieve every loss. I think that we have to grieve the loss of people and things that we’re attached to in order to form new, healthy attachments. Grieving helps us move forward. It’s not disconnecting from the memories of a person, but it is, in some ways, letting go of the attachment to them.

This is a hard concept for me, a Christian who believes that people aren’t gone when they die. I still believe that it’s right from a psychological perspective. I think that if I chose not to grieve the loss of my grandmother, and continued to talk to her and rely on her for emotional and physical support, I’d stop being successful at forming or fostering new attachments with people who are alive and able to reciprocate. We need healthy reciprocal attachments. They’re how we thrive through the pain and joy that life brings.

Grieving as a parent

Grief has a way of seeping into everything. I can’t compartmentalize my grief. It comes and goes in waves. I can anticipate it’s ebbs at flows sometimes, but at other times it washes over me without anticipation. I can’t control it, but I’ve found that if I don’t allow it to do it’s thing I feel sad all the time. If I stieffle it, my living breathing attachments suffer more than they do if I just let grief have it’s place.

Working through feelings like anger and depression is hard work. It requires almost as much attention as three kids under the age of five.

So,what does this mean? It means that I’ve had to step back from some things and lean on my husband and other strong attachments for the space and time to do the work. I’ve had to step away from moments with my kids. I’ve had to talk about her with my kids. I’ve shared my sadness with them when it arises, and I’ve shared my joy with them, too.

If you are in the midst of grief, be patient with yourself. Communicate with trusted friends and attachments. Seek counseling. Use the tools around you. I’m so sorry you’re hurting.

Gaining Control 101

(Taught by a novice, at best)

This post was initially going to solely be about healthy eating on a busy schedule, but I realized that none of this was really about eating healthy. It has all been about gaining Control of my own life, and making decisions that positively impact my present and future. Thanks for reading.

I have been “pre-diabetic” since I was 18. I’ve always been overweight by medical standards, and I’ve never really been exceptionally fit.

My last two pregnancies (with little brother, and baby bug…she’s new, I’ll tell you all about her later!) were met with gestational diabetes. My mother and father are both diabetic, and I’ve always blamed genetics for my predisposition to have diabetes. I guess i just figured that it wouldn’t be my fault if I became diabetic someday. I was kinda like a ticking time bomb, giving into the fact that it was going to happen someday. I was just waiting for the bomb to explode.

When I had gestational diabetes, I was taught to monitor the amount of carbs I ate. I was told not to cut them out completely, but to reduce the amount I ate. My doctor wanted me to increase my protein and fat, because those are the things that help lower the impact of the sugar in the carbs. The result of all of this was that I ate all of the protein and fat, and almost none of the carbs. When my blood sugar was good enough, I ate a bunch of dark chocolate, followed by more protein and fat to “balance it out”.

I’d say that this balancing act mentality is one that I’ve always had, until now. In every area of my life…everything has been a balancing act. Talk about feeding my anxiety! I have to be nice, but not too nice. I have to look good, but not too good. I have to be liked, but not enough to build deep and meaningful relationships…and god forbid someone actually get through that barrier! Then there are a million more things to balance. If I don’t they’ll leave me (and tell everyone that I care about how awful I am).

I have let external, unpredictable things, control me my entire life! Not anymore. I decided to start with gaining better control of my heart and mind. I started with tackling the lies that I thought about myself about two years ago. I’m still on that journey, but with it has come reworking how I see others, and dropping my judgment mentality. It has also been accompanied by exercising (which is a HUGE reality check when you’re trying to gain control of yourself).

Once I started feeling good postpartum, I decided that it was finally time to tackle the food balancing act. I stopped skipping meals because I was busy, because it always resulted in me binging on whatever I could get my hands on (usually goldfish and cheese sticks). I stopped choosing higher fat options. I’ve dramatically reduced the amount of dairy that I eat (because it has always made me sick, and it has always been my favorite!). I started being more rigid about eating whole grains (I used to feel like eating a piece of whole wheat toast as a snack between my white bread meals was a healthy decision. Now I just replace any white carbs with their whole grain alternative. Honestly, I don’t like them as much, so this has resulted in eating fewer carbs all around). And I’ve incorporated much more fruits and veggies, which I love, I was just too busy to eat them before.

So here’s the how to

I’m no expert! Hear me when I say it: I fail all the time, but this has been my most successful method of eating healthy when I just don’t have the time.

I make the time for it! I prioritize it over other things. I sometimes even put it before other needs, like sleep. In the unlikely event that all three of my kids are asleep, I want to nap! On those days I used to grab a granola bar and call it lunch. Now I go back downstairs and prep some veggies to have on hand, or I sit down and think about what I’ve eaten so far that day, and make a plan for the rest of the day. I make sure that I’m getting enough protein, fat, carbs, and enjoyment from my food,without overdoing it.

This doesn’t mean that I cook all day and ignore my three wild kids. It means that I include them in the process when I can, and I do the rest when they’re not around.

How I prepare

So there’s this huge movement in meal prep these days, or batch cooking so you can always have a healthy meal on deck without having to pull out a frying pan and stand at the stove for thirty minutes. I love this idea! I think it’s brilliant to cook enough to have some later, but I get bored, so instead of cooking a lot of the same meal to have later, I ingredient prep. I cook (or cut) a lot of the same ingredient to have later, then I store it in the fridge and mix and match as I like.

Some things that I’ve kept on hand in the fridge are ground turkey and chicken, cooked and ready to go, sliced bell peppers, sauteed and raw, sliced cucumbers, sliced onion, homemade tomato sauce, sliced sweet potatoes (which can be quickly cooked in the toaster and topped with your favorite toast toppings), whole grain pasta, brown rice, chicken breasts, heaps of spinach and romaine, prewashed and chopped… Having these on hand allows me to make a healthy,well rounded meal in just a matter of minutes. I just pop it in a bowl and heat it up in the microwave if I need to.

I don’t work outside of my home right now, but I imagine that this would be possible to do if I did. I’d try to wake up a few minutes early and pack a lunch instead of picking up something at a drive through.

Eating this way has made it easier to get everything that I need in order to feel healthy. It’s also super helpful to have prepared ingredient on hand when I do have the time to make a big meal for my family. I can just grab a handful of pre chopped veggies to toss in the pan with the meatballs or chicken breast that I’m grilling!

Preparing to prepare

This is definitely the hardest part! Preparing to prepare can be daunting, and it seems expensive in the beginning until you realize how much time and money you’re actually saving.

What I do is make a plan. I open the fridge, freezer, and pantry, and take inventory of what I have. Then I sit down and make a list of Staples that we need. Things on my list every week are cucumbers, bell peppers, oranges, apples, bananas, nuts, ground meat, wheat chex (I make a check and nut medley every week. It’s a good filling snack when I’m craving chips), grapes, grape tomatoes, frozen fruits, romaine, fresh spinach, and turkey pepperoni, milk, cashew milk (and usually nuggets and waffles for the boys). Then I think about dinners for my family and add ingredients where needed. I typically add some type of cheese to the list (so the boys and I can make a pizza), and a few types of meat (roast, chicken breast, smoked sausage)

I end up spending a lot of money in the produce and meat sections (like $80) and then another $20 or so on things like cereal and goldfish, snacks for the boys, and dried goods.

I typically spend between $90 and $120 each week, depending on what we need to supplement our fridge and pantry.

Eating this way, or ingredient prepping, has saved us so much money on frozen foods that are just as quick and easy to grab and heat up. My stomach is upset much less often. The kids and I are eating far more veggies, and fewer empty calories. As a result, were more able to focus, more energetic, and less grumpy.

I don’t deprive myself when I want a cookie or a salty snack, I just require myself to make it. I get the boys hands washed, and give each of them a mixing bowl. We get out all of the ingredients and make a batch of cookie with healthier ingredients. If I want a cookie badly enough to go through all of that, then I deserve the dang cookie lol.

Eating healthy is not easy, but blaming everything else for not eating healthy is.

I still have anxiety. I’m still fluffy. I’m still tired a lot of the time. Our life is still organized chaos. My house is still a mess. The kids still scream from time to time. Eating healthier doesn’t fix everything, but it makes me feel good, and it gets rid of the balancing act!

What do you do to eat healthy? What are some of your tips and tricks?

Parenting with Anxiety: Part 1 “Parenting Fears”

If you have read many of my other posts, then you know that I have anxiety. This is part one of a mini series that I’m writing about parenting with anxiety. I hope you enjoy!

I have anxiety. I think I’ve always dealt with anxiety, but it was diagnosed in 2015, and I have lived with a better understanding of it since then.

I’d like to get a few misconceptions out of the way before I start talking about anxiety and parenting. Maybe it will serve to get us all on the same page. Anxiety is a big deal. Anxiety does not indicate low character. Anxiety does not indicate weakness. Anxiety is common. Anxiety doesn’t go away when ignored (in fact, ignoring it increases ones risk for depression). It is helpful for me to talk with people about my anxiety, and I’ve heard the same from other people who deal with it. I could talk about each of these things for hours, so if you’d like more of my input on any of them, let me know.

We were so excited when we found out that we were pregnant with big brother! It took us a little longer to get pregnant that we thought it would. Looking back now, I can see what role anxiety played while we were trying to get pregnant. At the time, though, I just thought that my fears and concerns were normal. They seemed to mimic everyone else’s fears and concerns, but I couldn’t turn mine off (this is the piece that I didn’t realize was different! I thought that every mom prospect was continuously worrying about why her body wasn’t conceiving. I thought we all had constantly pounding heartbeats and shortness of breath.)

I remember feeling so relieved when we found out that we were pregnant. My thoughts of worry and fear about never being able to conceive went away, but the lump in my throat, pounding heartbeats, and relentlessly interruptive thought processes didn’t. They just changed a little. I went from worrying about not getting pregnant, to worrying about not being able to stay pregnant, to worrying about health issues for baby, then it seemed to land on worrying about being a horrible mom. This is where it has sat for a while. though there are definitely other worries that often distract me from this one, when I’m not caring for myself well, this is the huge worry that consumes me (well, this and social anxiety, but that’s a different topic for another day.)

I’m going to use the words “worry” and “fear” interchangeably today, though I know that there are some subtle differences between the two. I’m sorry if my doing so annoys you. It’s how my brain is working today!

All of my worries about parenting aren’t indicators of anxiety on their own. The way that my mind decides to process them (or not process them, really) is the issue. Now, when I’m able to see that my mind is stuck in an unproductive pattern of worry, I’m better able to break the cycle. Sometimes this is by doing something like getting back on track with eating right and exercising. Sometimes it takes more focused work on my thoughts, like writing or talking with a friend or counselor. It even sometimes requires me to talk to my doctor about getting back on a low dose of medication (or trying a different medication if I’m currently taking one). I’d like to also note that though prayer and faith have been invaluable tools for handling my anxiety, they haven’t taken it away (I think that Christians sometimes feel like having anxiety means that they’re doing something wrong. I don’t think that this is the case at all!)

So, here are some of my parenting fears, and what I am choosing to do to keep them from taking over…

I fear hurting my kids. I love my kids deeply, and the thought of them being hurt (emotionally, physically, or mentally) by anything makes my stomach flip. But the thought of being the cause of their pain (now or later in life) sometimes keeps me up at night. My boys are only two and three right now, but I am extremely aware of the fact that they’re always learning about themselves, and I’m a big part of that. I’m sometimes terrified that they’ll learn inaccurate things about themselves, things that I don’t believe about them, based on my actions and words. I replay conversations with them over and over, picking through my phrasing and tone. This is what my anxiety looks like.

The truth of the matter is that parents do have a lot of power to hurt their children. My desire to keep them safe from harm is okay. It’s good for me to check myself and make sure that I’m motivated by the right things (them and their well-being, not my own selfish desires). It’s okay for me to replay these conversations and take mental notes on what to do differently next time. What’s not good is getting stuck! My boys need me to be able to act quickly. They need me to intervene, and if I make a mistake when putting out a fire I can and should learn from it and try not to do it again. These mistakes have been wonderful opportunities to apologize to my boys. “Momma is sorry that she raised her voice. I know that that scared you. I love you very much.” I still yell, but I’m working on it, and this let’s them know that I know it’s not okay. It makes me more accountable when I do it in the future.

My fears of hurting them and who they become as adults are just as pervasive as my fears of hurting them day-to-day. I don’t want to be at the tail end of their first 18 years and realize that I haven’t raised self-respecting, resilient, productive, loving, kind people. I have huge fears that I may somehow be the one to stunt them in any of these areas. When my anxiety gets the best of me, I do my best to remember that the little descisions that I’m making to be aware of the effect that my behaviors have on them are preventing these huge concerns. Baby steps!!

I was planning to share more fears today, but I think that I need to finish digesting all of this before I continue.

If you are an anxious parent please remember this: there are resources everywhere to help you! There’s help for anxiety, help for depression, help with parenting, help in the form of friends and family, childcare help…you’re not alone!! Talk to your doctor and the people around you. Make others aware of your anxiety, so that when you’re stuck they can point you to help! Anxiety is miserable when you are doing it alone, but it’s manageable with help!

Thanks for reading. Sorry for the abrupt ending. Feel free to like,share, and comment. I’d love to know how you deal with your parenting fears!!

Things Moms Aren’t Allowed to Say: Part 4

This is part 4 of my series on things moms aren’t allowed to say.

I “fake it till I make it” a lot. It’s a survival technique that has served me well in motherhood. My boys get the love, patience, attention, care, and laughter that they need, and I get extra time to get there. And that’s ok.

The first thing that I faked as a momma was that swoon-worthy feeling that some moms say they have the moment they first meet their little one.

I did not fall in love with big brother right away. In fact, I’d even say that I didn’t fall in love with him for a while. It took weeks for me to really feel attached to him.

Big brother was an ‘easy baby’. He ate well and slept through the night, but I was still exhausted.

We’d had a tough nine months leading up to big brother’s arrival, and the effects of that weighed on me long after he was born. I had post partum anxiety that I was unaware of. Babies are a ton of work. I didn’t know what loving my baby was supposed to feel like. My body was healing from a c section, and I was in pain when I held my baby. I didn’t feel the way I thought new moms felt about their babies, but I faked it really hard. No one can know that I’m not a natural mother! Ever!

Not loving your newborn is not an option. Actively loving them is physically caring for them, and a newborn must be cared for. I didn’t feel the love, but I did it, and eventually (after a while and meds and counseling) the feeling followed.

I realize now that tons of mother’s don’t feel massively affectionate toward their newborns. Tons of moms have to take time to bond with their tiny strangers. Love is a choice. The feeling is irrelevant, though it makes the choice a LOT easier.

Other things that I have faked as a momma (get ready for this…):

I don’t clean my house that often. If it was clean when you visited it’s because I anxiety cleaned right before you got here.

I sleep as late as I can! That makeup that you saw me wearing was a three times a month thing that happened in the parking lot.

Homemade food only happens for people other than my family. I only pull out my recipe box for the five or six functions that I have to cook for every year. I know you think I’m a fantastic cook and my family is ‘so lucky’, but they eat ready rice, smoked sausage, and frozen veggies when I cook for them.

My kids don’t get bathed everyday. Their fingernails aren’t dirty because we played outside really hard before coming to church. It’s leftover from last night. That fresh smell in their hair isn’t shampoo, it’s baby wipe residue…because what’s the point of bathing a three year old boy every day? He has eczema, it dries out his skin. And he’s just going to get super dirty again today.

I am not patient. My kids drive me bonkers sometimes. Sometimes I raise my voice. You don’t see that though, because I fake it when you’re around. I fake it a lot at home too! I walk away and be impatient with them somewhere else. That way they don’t see my freak out, and I get to pretend like I deserve a patience award.

I fake a lot as a momma. I consider myself an open book. I’m fairly honest about my faking it, but I don’t walk around openly being the mess that I am.

I don’t think I’m the only mom who does this! Actually, I know I’m not!

New moms, a lot of it is a mirage. Your perception of other moms is a mixture of what they’re allowing you to see and what you’re choosing to see. It’s likely very inaccurate! I’d encourage you to really get to know some other mommas. You’ll see that we’re all doing the best that we can to get through each day with happy, cared for children. It’s not always fun, and it’s rarely easy!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below. I’d love to know if you’ve ever faked it too.

Things Moms Aren’t Allowed to Say: Part 3

This is part three of my series on things moms aren’t allowed to say.

I know I’m not alone when I say that being a mom is not enough to fulfill me, but I still feel like the world’s worst human when I say it. Being a mom (specifically a stay at home mom) has its fulfilling moments, but it’s not always enough. I want more.

It is in my nature to be a caregiver. I love loving people, and I’m good at it! Before we had kids I focused a lot of my caregiving energy on cancer patients and their loved ones as a cancer information specialist at the American Cancer society. Before that I was a residential coach at a boarding school for autistic teenagers.

So, when it came time to decide whether or not I wanted to be a sahm, it felt like a somewhat natural transition. It felt like my communication and relational skills would be used in the most important way. I was wrong.

I love being with my kids! I love that I’m blessed to be able to teach them myself, and watch them grow. I love that they get to be together all day, and build a bond that is unbreakable. I love play groups and mom groups. I love building relationships with other sahms. I really do like being a sahm, but I sometimes feel like I’m wasting some really useful parts of myself.

I think it’s okay to not be completely fulfilled by my current ‘job’. I think it’s ok to want more.

Kids are exhausting! Jobs that are focused on kids have really high turnover rates. Daycare workers and camp counselors have an out. They can give two weeks notice and move on to the next job. Moms can’t quit when burn out sets in. We have to push through, and eventually we do, but it’s hard!

Some days I just want to leave our house without my kids and go do something else. Some days I want to feel like a productive part of the outside world.

I often want more. Have I said it enough to soothe the shock factor, or are you still gasping each time you read it?

I want more. Being home with my kids is not enough to fulfill the parts of me that like interacting with people who aren’t in the same stage of life as I am. It’s not enough to fulfill my desire to contribute to things that aren’t my family or home. IM NOT A BAD MOM FOR ADMITTING IT!

For a while I made and sold jewelry. Now I write. Both of these things have utilized parts of me that Momming doesn’t utilize. My adult brain gets extra stimulation, and I have a creative outlet.

I sometimes feel like it’s wrong to get more joy out of writing a blog post than I do from changing a diaper or playing with mega blocks, but then I realize that it’s ok to be who I am. It’s not wrong for me to seek out fulfilling activities that allow me to both be a mom and be myself. If anything, it makes me a better mom.

When I was working, all I wanted to do was stay at home with my son. Now that I’m home, I so often want to go to work. I don’t think that finding a job would be a solution. I think that I am doing what I’m supposed to do! I want to be a stay at home mom. I think that it is an important job.

I think that the solution, for me anyway, has been admitting that I’m not completely fulfilled. I am no longer ashamed of saying, “This isn’t enough for me. I want more.”, and finding the more that’s right for me.

I know a ton of moms who stay home and do things like direct sales. I know a ton of moms who work full time. I know a ton of moms who have creative pursuits like this blog.

If you’re beating yourself up about not being completely fulfilled by motherhood, STOP IT RIGHT NOW!! I don’t know a single momma who is just a momma (and if that’s the phrase that you use when asked what you do for a living, stop that too!)

Stay at home moms, what you do is important and useful to your family and your community. You’re growing productive members of society!

Working moms, what you do is important and useful to your family and your community. You’re bringing in a paycheck and growing productive members of society!

I don’t have the credentials to say this, but I’m saying it anyway. Motherhood isn’t supposed to fulfill you. That’s not why we have kids. Motherhood is supposed to challenge you! Motherhood is mostly about them, not you. Motherhood is keeping people alive. Motherhood is choosing to do things that wouldn’t have been on your radar otherwise. Motherhood is hard, and beautiful, and exhausting, and joy-filled.

You’re not only the parts of you that love being a momma, and that’s okay!

I don’t know if any of this will be helpful to anyone else, but writing it has been good for me. Thanks for reading!

Things Moms Aren’t Allowed to Say: Part 2

This is part two of my series on things moms arent allowed to say.

About a week after Big Brother was born I got a congratulatory call from a college friend. She’d gotten married about the time that we found out that we were expecting big brother. It was exciting to be experiencing big joy alongside her.

She called in the afternoon. I was still in the hospital dealing with postpartum yuck (this is when I learned that im allergic to every pain med that hey give you after major surgery) and lingering neurological issues. Hers was the first phone call that I actually answered after Big Brother was born.

We talked for a while about how Big Brother and I were doing. I told her how perfect he was and what a great daddy my husband was turning out to be. She rejoiced with me.

She asked how I was feeling about being a mom, and she wanted to know if having a baby had changed everything yet. She had a ton of questions about our decision to have a baby. I felt like maybe she was doing research.

Toward the end of our conversation I asked her if she and her husband were thinking about kids in the future. This seemed like the natural direction of the conversation. I felt like she wanted me to ask.

“I don’t know, LJ. I always thought I wanted a big family, but my friends kids really annoy me…yours won’t, of course, but I think mine would! Can’t you just picture little mes running around?! It’s terrifying!”

How could she say that?! Maybe she shouldn’t be a mom! Kids aren’t annoying, they’re perfect! Look at my perfect little angel baby. He’s just perfect. He will never annoy me! I’m his mother!

I laughed with her and said something about how they’re not annoying until they’re old enough to talk, and we were far from that stage. We ended the conversation, and I picked up Big Brother from the bassinet and inhaled his perfection. Annoying? My baby? Never!

Fast forward three and a half years.

My kid annoys me! Both of my kids annoy me! Sometimes.

We’re still in the toddler/little kid stage, so I can speak for all ages, but these dudes can be nuts! They’re gross, they are irrational, they are loud, they’re needy, they grow attached to tiny things that they then loose and throw gigantic fits, and they’re whiney.

Toddlers are the worst sometimes, and it took a few years for me to admit it.

I think they’re annoying and I still love them. I even like them most of the time. Why aren’t moms allowed to say that they’re annoyed by their kids? Do we have to love everything about them all of the time because we made the choice to become moms? Is it our responsibility to stay tight lipped about how terrible they can be because it makes us look bad to tell the truth? I don’t know what it is, but it’s ok to let it out every now and then.

I’m in a mom group at my church. The first time I ever heard a young mom say that her son was annoying I almost spit out my drink. It felt so harsh!

Little Brother had just been born, and big brother was almost two. Little Brother was attached to my boob all day and Big Brother was always climbing on me- vying for my attention. My kids annoyed me too, but I didn’t dare say it.

“Guys, this kid is driving me nuts. Can I give him away? Like just for a week or so! He’s always scratching me- on purpose! He just walks up to me, puts his nail in my arm, and slides his hand down to my wrist. It doesn’t matter how short I cut his nails! He does it everyday. Nothing works. I’ve taken things from him, we’ve spanked… And don’t get me started on how gross he is! Y’all, he LIKES his poop! Who likes their poop? He doesn’t want me to ‘throw it away’ at diaper changes. Every time I open the diaper genie he has a huge fit! He’s so annoying!”

She vented for a few more minutes and all of the other moms nodded in understanding. They said supportive things and swapped stories about how annoying their kids are too. I was flabbergasted. Then it was my turn. They looked at me expectantly.

I was holding my little bundle of perfection. He was gnawing on my boob because he’d eaten fifteen minutes prior and there was no milk to be found. It was the only thing that calmed him, and I couldn’t have my three month old screaming at the top of his lungs in front of all of these moms who were getting a break.

“Let me hold him for you. It’s easier to complain about them when you’re not holding them.” A sweet momma at my table held her arms out for little brother.

“No, it’s ok…” I hesitated a little. “I guess I have been more annoyed than usual lately. I mean, he’s always attached to me. I just wish he’d stop being so needy.”

My instant feelings of shame we’re met with karate kicks to the groin.

“Don’t you dare feel bad about it, momma. We all feel that way at some point! They keep getting more annoying for a while, so you should practice getting it out now.” All of the moms laughed a little, then they went around the table bragging about the same kids that they’d just complained about.

Each mom had a tale of how wonderful their little terrors had been that week. Their joy and pride more than accounted for how annoying their kids had been.

Looking back at that specific group makes me wish I’d had toddlers then. My stories could have competed nicely with theirs. It would have been nice to take advantage of an open opportunity to use the ‘a-word’.

I don’t often desire to shout, ‘they’re annoying the boogers out of me’, but when I do, I say it. It’s usually to my husband or a close friend (because shame and guilt). Sometimes I even go I to my room, close the door, and say it out loud to myself. It’s super cathartic!

My toddlers annoy me, and I love them. I’m proud of them. I love watching them grow. I know that most of the annoying things that they do are just their ways of learning about the world. I don’t expect them to be charming and decent all of the time, and you shouldn’t expect that of them either.

Moms, don’t be ashamed of how you feel. If you think your toddler is the worst sometimes, you’re definitely not alone. And it’s not your fault! Toddlers act without thinking, they feel without guilt and shame. They are impulsively imperfect.

When I stopped trying to hide the fact that my boys can drive me nuts I became more patient and understanding with myself and them. And I developed better relationships with other moms (who wants to hang out with the perfect mom and her perfect kids? Not me.)

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear stories of how your little bundles of perfection annoy you. I’ve had a ton of belly laughs as a result of my boys’ annoying behaviors. Please comment below if you’d like to share your experiences!

Things Moms Aren’t Allowed to Say: Part 1

I’m going to be writing a short series on “Things moms aren’t allowed to say”. I interact with other young moms a lot, and there seem to be certain important things that are only spoken about in hushed tones. I’m going to use my tiny platform to open a few of these up for discussion. I’ll share my experiences, and I sincerely want to hear about yours! Please email me at mrsmeljb@gmail.com, or comment below! Your stories can be kept secret if you just need to vent, or I will happily feature them in the next day’s post.

Becoming a momma has been the biggest joy of my life. Each of our children is a gigantic miracle that I do not take for granted! I am constantly overwhelmed by the fact that my body is able to get pregnant and stay pregnant for nine months. I know that I am incredibly blessed to be able to take part in this process of bringing life into the world. Pregnancy can be the worst, though!

I am not someone who likes being pregnant. I know that there are some women who genuinely feel good during pregnancy, but I am not one of them.

I’m 34 weeks pregnant right now, and not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me how I’m feeling. I always tread lightly and try to say something like, “I’m okay”, or “we’re getting close to the due date, so I’m getting really excited!”. Occasionally though, when a good friend has asked, I’ll be 100% honest. I’ll say, “I’m so ready to be at 39 weeks! I feel like I’m bursting at the seams. She kicks me non-stop. I haven’t slept in weeks. I’m always peeing. My head feels like it’s going to pop off. I keep crying at my husband for no reason. And right now this bilateral sciatica is hurting so badly that I can’t sit, stand, or lay down without wincing. And I’m super excited to meet her soon!”

Pregnancy can be rough. Why is it taboo to say something like “I don’t like being pregnant”, or “pregnancy is the worst”?

I remember the first time that I said “I just really don’t love being pregnant.” I was picking big brother up from daycare and my little brother bump had just become visible. It was the week after I’d submitted my two weeks notice at work, so big brothers daycare knew that he would be leaving for good soon. The daycare director had just gotten back from maternity leave and I stopped to chat with her on my way to big brother’s classroom.

We talked for a few minutes about how motherhood was treating her. She was so in love with her daughter, and she was excited to be able to have her at work with her. We talked about how her husband was dealing with all of the changes in their home, and she told me how cute my little brother bump was.

Then she asked the dreaded question, “How are you feeling?” I was four months pregnant at the time, so I was over the hump of the first trimester. I was no longer puking every ten minutes, and I wasn’t as tired as I had been, but I still didn’t feel great. I had tons of tummy trouble, my anxiety was out the roof, and I was sore a lot of the time.

I must have had a strange look on my face because she put her hand on my arm and asked again. “You ok?”

“I just really don’t love being pregnant!” The words flew out of my mouth (along with a few misplaced tears). I instantly felt both guilty and relieved. I couldn’t believe that I’d said it out loud!

“I know exactly what you mean!” By this point she had moved her hand down and was holding onto my wrist. “Pregnancy is the worst!”. She shook my arm a little with each word, as if to emphasize her point.

Of course we both immediately spouted off how thankful and blessed we were to be able to become and stay pregnant, but then we shared stories about the awful things that our bodies and minds can go through during pregnancy.

I remember hooking big brother into his car seat in the parking lot and feeling so incredibly relieved that it wasn’t just me! She had hated being pregnant too, and she wasn’t a monster.

Now, whenever I’m talking to a pregnant friend, I make sure to give her permission to speak freely about how she’s really feeling. I’ll ask leading questions like, “how has it been so far? Are you feeling uncomfortable?” If she’s having a great pregnancy, I rejoice with her, but if she even hesitates for a second I’ll let her know that my pregnancies have been super uncomfortable. Y’all, I’ve had a few friends burst into tears when given the permission and freedom to speak openly about how they’re feeling.

I totally understand the responsibility to respect the process and the blessing that pregnancy is. I understand the desire to not be offensive or hurtful to families who haven’t had successful pregnancies. I get that pregnancy is not something to laugh about or take lightly. But I also understand how important it is for pregnant women to take care of themselves, and a HUGE part of that is being free to talk about how hard it is!

So, don’t judge mommas who don’t like being pregnant- for whatever reason it is! Not enjoying the process of bringing life into the world doesn’t make them bad moms. My pregnancies have been the worst, but my kids are the best things ever. I love them so much more than I ever thought my heart could love.

If you’re pregnant right now, and it’s the absolute worst, don’t be ashamed to confide in someone. You are not the only one who “just really doesn’t love being pregnant”.

Mommas, please share your experiences below! Perhaps what you went through will help another momma feel less alone!

Thanks for reading! Feel free to like and share!

My email address is mrsmeljb@gmail.com, and I’m always up for connecting with other momma’s!