Beyond the Hustle

I’m at a point in my journey as a mom where time has taken on new meaning. Specifically speaking, I don’t like to be constrained by a time commitment. It really stresses me out. Now more than ever before. I respect that people assign times to begin and end things like play dates and nap times, and for the most part I can make it on time to nap time. However, getting out of the house on-time for anything else is a major hustle.

For context, at the time I’m writing this, I’m six months pregnant and raising a strong-willed very curious and super observant toddler. He’s two. I could have just wrote “he’s two” and you’d understand, but I figured I’d share a bit more than his point in time. These two truths seem to be a perfect mix of getting nowhere on time or in the time my rational adult brain thinks we should arrive or depart.

This morning I hit a tipping point and fell into freedom from the unnecessary hustle we moms so often find ourselves in. I intended to run errands, but when I looked at the weather forcast and it was too perfectly classic of a summer day to waste pushing our bodies around stores.  So in an instant I said to my two-year old, “We are going to the splash park!” We both cheered. Then came the moment of total freedom, when I casually began preparing a picnic lunch and getting us ready to get out the door, without freaking about a time crunch. We’d get there when we get there and we actually got there when I secretly wanted to get there!

My heart rate stayed totally consistent while my little person begged to read a book on the couch.  Throughout his protest to not wear pants, and then a second protest to not wear water sandals.  I remained calm during his slow and distracted walk to use the potty. Before, during and after he begged me to play a quick game of pretend baseball. Then, I even gave myself some grace as I heard my stomach grumble for food just before I was about to load everything into the car. It’s okay, I thought to myself, no one is expecting me and I’m not letting anyone down by pausing to feed myself and my developing fetus. Eat mama, eat! So, I did.

By the time I opened the car door I felt a little tense. Mainly because I was aware of how I was judging myself to be more timely and prompt. That’s when I noticed my heart rate rising and my patience dwindling. That’s also the exact time my little person insisted on putting himself into the car seat. I wanted to say no, but slowed down and realized this is a kid who is growing and needs to gain independence where he safely and rightfully can. Like, climbing into his car seat. Even if it is totally not the way I would have put him in or climbed in if I was his age, and even though it took him nearly four minutes to do something I’d do for him in one minute.

In those four minutes I paused and had this thought: early motherhood cannot be rushed. Tiny people’s lives are developing within the hustle.  As we buzz throughout our day like queen bees managing time and tasks, our littles get swept up in the purposeful crazy, when all they want to do is learn and grow.  And, isn’t the point of early mothering to foster learning and growing? That’s what I had day dreamed up before becoming a mom, but it’s so easy to forget.

Maybe this is what living in the moment feels like? I don’t know because basically my entire life I’ve thought about the future and how to be most prepared for putting my best foot forward. Now, however, I’m going to proudly “slack off” and kill the hustle. I’m about 90 days out from welcoming a second person into our family, which also means my little boy is also about 90 days out from not being an only child. We have big beautiful adjustments in our future. So for now, I’m going to chillax and enjoy the thrill of doing what we want when we want. Early motherhood changes so fast. I’m going to attempt to slow it down and live in the freedom that being my own boss allows.

Let’s raise a wine glass and cheers to letting go of the hustle so often found among the hood of awesome mamas. Sip it slowly. It’s your time. I’ll join you, after my baby’s born and while I’m learning an entirely new level of time management as a mom of two under three. Hahahaha…no, really, it’s going to be ah-mazing!

To You, Strong Mama.

To you, strong mama, who knows love.

You know what it’s like to wake up three times a night and still rise for the day with the sun.

To you, strong mama, who knows compassion.

You know what it’s like to carry and nurture a small life while facing poop, puke, endless dirty laundry and dishes.

To you, strong mama, who believes deeply in the future for your children – you are a visionary.

You see past the daily stuff, and can rise above a toddler’s melt down in the cereal aisle, to see a developing independence that will drive your Little toward great future goals.

You can look into the eyes of your frustrated kid and see passion and determination- things that will make the world a better place.

You can see past your needs and confidently walk into social situations without a shower in the past three days.

You, mama, have a tenacious love. You are deeply valued at home and in society. You are beautiful, brilliant and you are the perfect person for your important role in life- now and later on. For always.

 

Photo credit by Pixabay

The Top 10 Essentials For Raising A Baby: A list for the new parent.

I had my first, and so far only, baby when I was in my mid-thirties. It was a perfect surprise for us, but we both knew we were totally ready to be parents.  At the time, we had been together for 11 years. You’d think that was plenty of time to ease into the role of “parent”, but we were wrong.

There is no amount of time that adequately prepares you for taking care of a tiny little infant human. You just need to show up and do it. Looking back, we both reflect on the first three months of our son’s life as a blur. We were always tired, always hungry, and always asking ourselves if we were doing it right. I’d change that last part.

There is no “do it right” route. There is, of course, safe ways to keep your tiny human alive and healthy, which could be considered doing it right.  We did that. We just don’t totally remember it all. Then, right around the fourth month of his little life, things changed. We changed.

We began to understand our baby’s likes and dislikes. We began to understand our own likes and dislikes as his parents. We were still sleep deprived and still always hungry, but we were less concerned about doing it right and more focused on loving and living together as a messy growing family of three (plus our dog and cat so that would make five of us in our home). I think what happened during the fourth month is the intense love and awe that we felt, from the moment we heard our baby cry, started to win over the fear of being perfect parents. That made a huge difference.

Recently, when I friend asked me what a few essentials are for helping new parents with their first year, I crawled back to those first three months of my little boy’s life (and maybe I began wanting another baby, but we won’t talk about that now) and really thought about the essentials. Since every parent is different, because every baby is different, the essentials will be different. Right? Right. And, let’s define essentials as: making life with an infant easier and safer.

I jumped on Facebook and conducted non-scientific qualitative research. I asked parents to share the top four items they couldn’t live without in the first year of their baby’s life. There were so many on-point recommendations, and so much mention of legal stimulants (for the parents). I have narrowed in on the most mentioned helpful essentials and dropped them into a list for you or your friend, or your friend’s friend.

The Top 10 Essentials For Raising A Baby: A list for the new parent.

  1. Diapers and Wipes (Pampers was a hit, night diapers and cloth were major too)

  2. Baby Carrier (car seat, wearable carrier, stroller)

  3. Crib (Pack n Play, Fisher Price Rock n Play)

  4. Community (friends, family, trusted babysitter)

  5. Legal Stimulants (coffee, wine, beer, bourbon)

  6. Swaddle blankets (muslin wraps, Zipadee, sleep sack)

  7. Monitor (video or just audio, but more so video)

  8. Sound machine

  9. Pacifier

  10. Patience

Parenting is a blast. You’ll learn so much about life and your limits. You’ll learn how to love while also getting pooped on, literally. If you’re doing this parenting thing solo or with your partner, remember one thing: you’re not supposed to be perfect, you’re supposed to unconditionally love your Little. And, that begins with liking you. Plus, stocking up on the essentials helps. Cheers, to you, Parents!

Natural Birth Plan vs. Reality

By: Teresa B. Duffy

It took us two and a half years to start our family. Once we got over celebrating getting pregnant we signed up for a natural birthing course. It was helpful and empowering. The course underlined the fact that the human body is made to do amazing physical feats of greatness. Especially a woman’s body. #inawe

After the course we wrote up our natural birthing plan.

Okay, so below is our birth plan with updated insertions of “what actually happened”. If you’ve lived longer than five years, you’ll know that expectations and reality don’t always line up. And, with that, here we go….

Duffy Baby’s Birth Plan (Original plan. Reality’s playback.)

Our main priority is to have a safe and natural birth for Teresa and baby. Below is a brief overview of our desired natural birth plan for bringing baby into the world.

Naturally progress: to progress naturally through the stages of labor and delivery.

What actually happened: I was in labor for 46 hours, three of which were “active” labor. That means the midwife said, “push” a lot. My husband and I took a natural birthing course in which we studied the progression of labor into delivery. Textbook knowledge did not translate well for us. Odd, because we are both educated people: me with an M.A. and him with a B.F.A. But, birthing a child is not like a normal education…it’s like, birthing a human. There are no tests.

Fetal Monitoring: to be ambulatory during labor, and prefers intermittent fetal monitoring with EFM or Doppler.

What actually happened: I waddled around my house, to the car, and down the hospital hallway saying, between contractions, “I feel connected to every woman in history who has ever birthed a baby!” I was so tired and walking hurt and showering was awful and sitting on an exercise ball was hell, so I was on the hospital bed for hours.

Cervix Measuring: the same medical personnel checks dilation, please limit the amount of measurement checks to ¼ of normal checks.

What actually happened: I think I had four different midwives and one OBGYN check my dilations. Someone should have been handing out Solo cups, because it was a party.

Medical Interventions: our wish is to avoid medicinal intervention including Pitocin, forceps, C-section, however if necessary for the safety of Teresa and baby, Tyler would like to be present.

What actually happened: About a day into labor a midwife said to us that we would not be able to naturally birth our baby, and to sign papers for a C-section. We decided to stick with our natural birth plan. Then about 30 something hours into labor I was given Pitocin. That was closely, but not close enough, followed by an epidural. Then at 46 hours, while I was all drugged up and had puked on myself two times, I signed a bunch of paperwork to approve a C-section. In hindsight, we should have done that way sooner, but both my husband and I are a bit stubborn.

Midwife: Tyler views the Midwife as a highly valuable part of the team to obtain the desired results mentioned above. Professional guidance in avoiding pushing too early (not fully dilated) to avoid a potential episiotomy, but if needed a pressure episiotomy is preferred.

What actually happened: I have no clue what Tyler and the midwives all talked about, but I think he did a lot of slow blinking, head knodding and definitely didn’t eat enough. He never left my side. Love him for that (and much more)!

Birth Team: Tyler and Teresa desire to be together at all times. They have trained together through the Bradley Method course and trained to anticipate the stages of labor and delivery.

What actually happened: We were together the entire time. It was awesome! He was up with me for two full days. Then, when our sweet baby boy was born Tyler fell fast asleep on the hospital cot for a good eight hours. It was nice to watch him sleep.

Attire & Food: Teresa desires to wear her own clothing and plans on drinking clear fluids and eating Cliff’s Shock Blocks or consuming Carbo Pro mixed with water as needed for sustenance.

What actually happened: Someone at some point dressed me in a hospital gown because I saw it in a picture of me lying on the hospital bed. I don’t remember consenting to wearing it, but in hindsight who the eff cares about what I’m wearing? I tried eating a lemon ice pop and I tried eating a some other stuff I don’t remember. I do vividly remember puking all of it up.

Delivery Position: Teresa would like to respond to her body’s needs and move into different positions. Recommendations from the Midwife are welcomed.

What actually happened: At one point there was a giant exercise ball between my legs and I don’t know why but I went with it. I remember feeling like a whale trying to do a downward dog at another point in labor. Nothing worked. I had no clue what I was supposed to be responding to.

Bonding & Cutting the Cord: Delay cutting until blood stops pumping; Tyler would like to cut the cord. Teresa would like immediate skin-to-skin contact with baby and start to immediately breastfeed.

What actually happened: At 4:59pm on April 12th I heard a sound that pierced my heart and changed my world forever. My baby cried after two days of trying to make his way into the world. It was bliss. I had tubes stuck in my nose, my body was numb from the chest down, and I was wearing a blue shower cap. I held my healthy baby boy as soon as I could and began to nurse him. I was alive and he was too. That was all that mattered. Also, I think my husband got to cut the cord.

Baby’s first bath: Tyler would like to assist the nurse in giving our baby its first bath.

What actually happened: As I mentioned earlier, Tyler fell fast asleep after his two-day-no-sleep streak. And, I didn’t know this, but they don’t bathe babies until a few hours after they are born. Someone with the skills of a babywhisperer bathed my sweet boy and then handed him back to me for endless cuddle time.

Original Closing: Again, we will be flexible on any of the above preferences should a complication arise. Thank you for your support.

More Realistic Closing: We were flexible, which actually is a really great approach to parenting in general.

| photo credit PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay |

Trust Yourself

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I’m a member of a few moms groups. Love them!  We talk about stuff that makes us better moms. Like, what to do when your toddler sticks his hands down his pants in public, or how to get nail polish off your walls, or when and how to sneak vegetables into your toddler’s meals, or recommendations on a good counselor for depression/anxiety, which I call “adjusting to the new normal”.   These are things that are helpful. Then, there is the stuff that isn’t so helpful.

Feeding Fears

It’s the stuff that new moms let get to them. How should my kid react to large groups of people or should my kid be spending more time with board books and less time with music or is it the other way around? Should I spend more time imagining with my kid because I work full-time? Who’s scared of the [fill in the blank], and what will you do if your kid has it/does it/misses it?

A Fire Pit of Shoulds and What Ifs

As a mom you’ve been given a huge responsibility without any prior experience. Most working professionals wouldn’t make it past the first ninety days if they were given your role without any training, and that’s what parenting is: a crash course with the real tiny person. Nobody else was given your role, and they don’t have your kid, you do. That’s the way it’s meant to be, and that’s why “ifs and shoulds” need to go up in flames.

The questions of doubt typically starts with the words “What if?” and/or “Should I?”. These words need to leave our thoughts because I think they are corrupting our freedom as parents. All the moms can stand around the crackling fire on a crisp fall evening, while their kids are home with a babysitter who isn’t charging for that night.  Everyone will have a glass of wine, beer or bourbon while watching those ifs, shoulds, and doubts go up in a blaze.

Then, just for the heck of it, moms will look across the flames and speak words of encourage to each other.  They’ll say things like, “You’re doing the best you can and that’s what your kid needs!”, and “I’m not giving you permission to compare your parenting style to my parenting style…want another glass of Merlot?”, and “I promise not to give advice unless you ask for it, and it can’t begin with ‘should I be…'”.

Go With Your Intuition

Let your intuition guide you. Read a few things here and there, but don’t take them as fact. Except that stuff about not feeding honey to your kid before one year. That’s a fact. But most of the other things about parenting are about your best attempt. “Try” without fearing, without should-ing, and without what-if-ing.

Be In Community

It is so important to be in a community of moms to learn with and shoot the shit about all the shit you clean up. But, please moms, I beg of you to trust yourself. Your little person, whom you have an emotion for that words can’t describe, is learning to trust. When you trust yourself your kid will trust you, and that is the beginning of something grand.

Cheers to Trusting

I’ve been a mom for almost two years, which feels at times like twenty years or ninety days depending on the day or my caffeine intake. At the exact moment I held my little boy I felt something I still can’t put it into words, but that feeling is what makes me connected to my son and the perfect mom for his personhood. And, for that, I choose to trust myself.

Go ahead, choose to trust yourself and embrace the journey of trying. Cheers to that!

| photo credit LuciaGrosse via Pixabay |

 

Moms Are Visionaries

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I was starting my fourth load of laundry on the Monday after Christmas holiday. There was no food in my house. Correction— my pantry looked like the crackers and chip aisle at my grocery store got together and had a carbohydrate baby. Unknown to me, we ended up with all the loot (chips, chocolate, pound cake, crackers, gold fish, more chips) leftover from our family’s holiday vacation. Also, my refrigerator looked like a science project and earlier that morning I had tossed everything.

On my agenda for the first week of the new year: laundry, grocery shopping, pick up the dog from the boarder, more laundry and put away all the presents, unpack luggage, clean up after the cat. Drink wine while making dinner (that’s my favorite).

Can we all give a big shout-out to glamorous! G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

Kidding. I never have been a girl that likes glamour anyway. Lucky for me!

So, with my head in the dryer searching for the other 18-24 month sized sock I had this thought: Moms must be visionaries.

A visionary is someone with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.

When was the last time you had an original idea or made time to think beyond the next thing on your list?

Original thoughts about where you are going will only help you lead your kids. And kids need leaders. They need you to dream big and show them the trail to explore on. Okay, since I just teased a woods metaphor, let’s go there for a moment…

Bullets on your “To Do List” are just trees in a really beautiful forest. Don’t get lost in the trees. Find a trail, or even better, blaze a trail with your kids as your helpers. Tell them your visions and dreams and invite them onto that path. Eventually they will learn from you how to make their own trails through the woods, navigating through the trees—exploring.

My little boy will only be wearing a size 18-24 month old sock for a few weeks longer. I’ll only be eating chips and crackers until spring. Dinner will always (usually) need to be served, but thank God for wine and my own kitchen—my point is this:

Being a mom is equal parts daily-stuff and vision casting. Don’t get stuck in the next bullet point on your list. It’s our privilege to continually look ahead and lead, while balancing the daily. This is the gifting of a mother. And, for the love of sanity, let go of glamour and hold onto original.

| photo credit Prawny via Pixabay |