Points Plus for the Rest of Us

Okay, I started the Weight Watchers.

It needed to happen. The 3-year-old has been tapping my big belly for over a month now and asking when his baby sister will get here. That’s when I have the privilege of explaining to him that Mommy is done having babies and he’ll just have to go through his life surrounded by brothers. This is usually followed by tears and questions of who will be the one to save him from a chilled heart with their sisterly love? Thanks Frozen. So you see, the only answer was diet and exercise, or a reversal of my tubal ligation, but HAHAHAHAHA, NO!

I’ve been planning to change my drinking eating habits for a while now, but the fact that I’m attending my 20 year class reunion, coupled with the whole Frozen-sister debacle has kicked this fatty into high gear. I’m a mom on a mission. That mission, to be out of maternity pants in 45 days, if I can’t pull this off I’m going to have to resort to Spanx and starvation… so fingers (and saggy boobs) crossed, this works.

I haven’t tried the Weight Watchers in 3 years. I’ve accomplished my goals with this program in the past, but that was over a kid ago. I love that the plan allows for flexible fruit and vegetable intake, but if I get my hands on anything, the children want a bite before I can even grab it. I love that I can gain extra points through exercise, but here’s the downside… none of these “activity points” are REAL Mom things. Yes, they have running while pushing a stroller, but let’s be real, unless you are going for an “actual” run, with a child, the only time you’re running-with-a-stroller is while attempting to catch another child who’s gone too far ahead of you on his bike. Or you’re trying to catch a ball that’s rolling into the gutter and the earth will freaking implode if it’s lost… and you’re usually not doing that for a steady 10 minutes, but 10 minutes earns you 1 activity point with Weight Watchers.

Just to put it in perspective, a tablespoon of honey is worth 2 points, while a delicious glass of wine is 4 points. You see where I’m going with this.

So here’s my idea… Like the Girl Scouts allow you to design your own patches, I’ve come up with my own activity point system for Mom stuff. These scenarios aren’t always pretty, but they are real, these are straight from the trenches of motherhood people and I think I could have earned about 10 extra points today alone!!!

Hysterical, Physical Toddler Temper Tantrum: 5 points for every 30 minutes

We were privy to a lovely tantrum-session tonight that lasted an hour. I think 2 glasses of wine would have been a good reward, or a burrito, or a frontal-lobotomy, instead I rewarded myself after bedtime with a celery stick. Go me.

Homework: 2 points for every 30 minutes

Homework time often makes me feel like a cattle-herder of sorts, grabbin’ up all them little doggies while they try to make excuse after excuse to stay away from the task at hand, “I need the potty. I need snack. The baby is so cute. Can I kiss him? Mommy, were you ever my age? Were you nicer than you are now?” You should get activity points for this, shit, you should get a medal for this.

Packing the kids up for and schlepping them to athletics: 2 points for every 10 minutes

I know it seems to be sedentary, but there is so much mental preparation and mindfulness that goes into these practices and games for a mom. Everything needs to be washed, easily accessible in their rightful place, the uniforms, car-pools, coordination… it’s almost like producing a Olympic gymnastics routine. Timing is everything and it’s exhausting.

Laundry and Housework:

Gotta hand it to Weight Watchers… they have these down for activity points! Woot! But you only get 1 point for 10 minutes of work. The think-tank over there has obviously never tried to do laundry with children around. I’m giving myself an extra 10 minutes every time.

Serving Meals: 2 points for all meals combined

Half the time in my house the kids act like this is a diner. I’m not Flo, and no, I’m not getting up at 6 AM to make you eggs on a school day, but people do, hell, you probably do, and that deserves points. Do you know why so many restaurants fail? Because making meals is hard. It’s tough stuff, and it’s even more difficult now that you’re on the Weight Watchers. These kids want scrambled eggs (with cheese), bacon and toast while you are having a 1/4 cup of non-fat greek yogurt in a corner with a baby spoon. Go ahead, take the points, you’re gonna need ’em.

Weight Watchers is like an adult potty chart, but instead of stickers I get wine.

I’m running tomorrow. It’s totally worth the extra points.

It’s a Small World After All

Ahh…

The epic and famous Disney World ride. When we made the pilgrimage to Disney during my childhood, I’d insist on repeating that ride on loop. My parents joked about the earworm of a song which played over and over again in their heads for the remainder of our vacation. Did I care? Nope. Not one bit. Kids are assholes like that.

Last week we took our children to the Magic Kingdom. We were in Orlando for a soccer tournament, so the theme park would be a one day event. My Husband and I had prepared ourselves for the absolute worst. Hot weather, exhaustion, a 5-month-old, 2 older children with conflicting interests and a 5 year difference in age, plus tantrums. Due to the fact that Magic Kingdom doesn’t serve alcohol, we readied ourselves like soldiers going to battle. Bad behavior would not be tolerated at any level. Even though tickets to the Disney parks now cost an insane amount of money for a family of 5, we were willing to haul ass if anyone lost their shit, including the adults. No one was going to end up like Clark W. Griswold today.

Maybe it was our attitude going in, take no prisoners, if-this-isn’t-fun-we-run attitude, that made the actual events of the day so surreal, but I’m still having a hard time believing it wasn’t a dream.

The kids were AMAZING. They were on-their-best-behavior BRILLIANT.

We actually had… wait for it, wait for it… FUN.

I know!! Family fun!! It’s like the fucking Loch Ness Monster to most parents. We walked the park, picking and choosing what we would and wouldn’t do as a unit. Many situations involved Hubby and the older boys hitting up and attraction while I fed the baby, rocked the baby, tried to keep the baby from melting. This was fine with me. Watching my sons agree, and enjoy their precious time with their father was breathtaking. “And who knows when they will ever behave this well again?” kept echoing in my subconscious. That bitch always knows how to ruin a party.

With all the new rides at Disney (completely unlike the trips of my youth), combined with the “Fast Pass” system and the insane amount of other people at the park, It’s a Small World, was never even discussed. The 3-year-old didn’t know it existed, the 9-year-old couldn’t have cared less, and me? Although it was my childhood favorite, I wasn’t about to sacrifice our fantastic vibe for a personal trip to yesteryear in 98 degree heat. That was a non-issue. As we walked past the legendary portal, I gave it a second glance. Hubby saw it in my eyes, but he knew my motives to keep on walking. They were his motives too. Harmony.

By this point in the day it was hot. Actually, hot is the understatement of the year, it was abysmal. Even as year-round Florida residents we were suffering. The baby looked a great deal more than his genetic half-Irish at this point. While looking for some shade I found the Holy Grail of the theme park… an air-conditioned, covered alcove with misting fans… HOLY SHIT!! Is this heaven? “No, it’s Iowa” quoted my inner bitch in her sarcastic tone. We’ve obviously watched Field of Dreams too often. Note to self: Don’t let the inner bitch pick movies anymore.

With my ideal spot secured, I sent the big boys along to their next ride. Our day was almost over and I was happy to have a luxurious place to feed the baby and rock him to sleep. I stood there, pushing the stroller, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. When I looked up, a woman of Asian decent had locked eyes with me from 20 feet away. She too, was pushing a stroller but with adorable, identical twins. I gestured that there was room in paradise, and she made way into my happy place with a nod of her head that sounded like thank you to my brain. We rocked our children while reading our phones, and sometimes our eyes met and we smiled. You know, that knowing mom smile? It’s the smile of being in the same boat, usually up shits creek without a paddle. I reveled in the fact that even though we couldn’t communicate verbally, we did, mom-ally.

The alcove had open air walls. People could see inside. Moms are the most resourceful and resilient bunch to ever walk the earth. When other moms saw us, and our strollers, they knew this place was comfy and safe. In the next 45 minutes we were joined by another Asian mom, a mom in a sari, and a mom in a full traditional Berka covering all but her smiling and thankful eyes to have a cool spot for her children.

That’s when it hit me like a ton-of-bricks. As an English-speaking American, I am in the minority of the ethnic pie-chart that makes up the world. That doesn’t bother me, not one bit, but as Americans, it’s easy to forget there is a whole globe of other people out there too. Other moms. Just like me. Who only want our children to be safe and happy. I’m sure that’s what Walt Disney was trying to project with It’s a Small World back in the day. Before ticket prices were exorbitant, before lines were 7 hours long, despite wars and politics dividing people. As a kid, I KNEW THAT.

Although I didn’t get to ride the actual attraction that day, I was reminded though the connection of motherhood, it’s a small world after all.

 

The Mother I Thought I’d be Versus The Mother I am

I always knew I’d have children.  That was just something in the cards for me.  I never thought I’d have 3… but that’s for another blog.  I remember being a teenager and talking with a friend about where we saw ourselves at 35… I said, point-blank, married with kids.  And she said she was never having kids because she’d never be able to be “the mother she wanted to be”.   At the time I thought her words were so bizarre, so strange.  How could she know the future?  You are the person who decides how you will act, what moral compass you will follow.  You dictate your future.  At 15 I was really into that whole dogma.

Now, looking back on that conversation, I’m shocked at the words of wisdom provided to me by a person who was so young.  She was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY right on.  I am nothing like the mother I thought I would be.  That doesn’t mean that I’m not a good mom, although I do have my moments of total insanity.  But I’m not “that mom”.  That imaginary figment could never fly around here.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will always be able talk to me, about anything, and I won’t judge them.

Mother I Am…

They talk to me, about anything, and I judge the ever-loving shit outta them.  I judge them so hard I’m Judge Judy.  I don’t always hand down a sentence but believe me, I judge.  And they aren’t even teenagers yet. Oy.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My kids will always be able to pick the radio station in the car.

Mother I Am…

Fuck that.  After hearing Timber a million times I’m picking the radio station.  “When you have a car you can listen to what you want.”  {Did I just say that? My mother used to say that}

Mother I Thought I’d be…

I will actively play with my kids all the time.

Mother I am…

I can’t believe I even thought this was possible when I was younger.  Like, I actually resented my mother at times because I didn’t think she played with me enough.  And she played with me a lot!  Between the housework, the siblings, the drop-offs and the pick-ups, I’m lucky if I get to eat a meal sitting down.  Play with you?  Another game of Candy Land?  We’ve already played 5.  You must be joking.

Mother I Thought I’d be…

My children will travel.  We will see the world together.

Mother I am…

Traveling costs money.  Traveling with small children is a mind numbing siege that I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  The last trip we took was a 2 hour car trip to a soccer tournament and I actually considered putting duct tape over the mouths of the older 2.  Travel?  I don’t fucking think so.

Mother I thought I’d be…

Each of my children will have their own personality, and I won’t let their behavior, good or bad, change how I feel about myself.

Mother I am…

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  When they accomplish something fantastic… I too, feel fantastic.  When they act like animals… I see that as a direct reflection of my parenting failures.  Just because I feel this way doesn’t make it right.   But it’s still how I feel.

No, I’m not the mother I thought I’d be.  Far from it.  I have cobwebs in my house, I’m not hip, I’m embarrassing, and I’m not always fair.  But I am here for them… 24/7, no matter what.

And I’m laughing.

And I’m trying.

 

 

Don’t Call It The Baby Blues

I know I’m not alone in this. I know the statistics, I have lots of Mommy friends who’ve experienced the same thing and I’m sure that you, sitting there reading at home, will be nodding your head in agreement at some point of this post.

Yet, even with that knowledge, this topic is still hard to talk about.  It feels wrong and shameful and selfish in so many ways. And that is what is so fucked up about it. The taboo. The unknown X-factor that is super scary. The knowledge that it can go from manageable to a mental shit show in the blink of an eye.  Postpartum depression is real, it really happens and I am still completely terrified by it.

I’ve heard people refer to postpartum as “the baby blues”. Nothing pisses me off more. It sounds so trivial, so minimized. Like it could even be the name of a chord progression in a song. I realize that some people are too stupid to understand medical terminology…. so “the baby blues” sounds perfectly fine to them. But I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman, who’s fought with the demon that is postpartum, refer to it that way.

My youngest son is almost 3 months old. So it seems to me that I have dodged the bullet this time around. Which is probably the only reason I’m even venturing into writing about it. Because otherwise I’d be in the bathroom crying right now.

Here’s a disclaimer that I feel I need to point out. I am not a parenting or mental health authority, by any means. I’m just a gal with a computer, a big mouth, too many kids and a shit-load of thoughts running through her head.  If you need help, ask for it. Call a doctor, or a friend, hell, you can even send me a message, I’ll point you in the right direction.

After my first son was born I was a fucking wreck. I’d never stayed at home before, I’d always held a job. A job where I was able to use my brain on a daily basis, and interact with other adults. Now, I’d given birth and became a stay-at-home housewife overnight. Rote behavior was my new best friend. Wash laundry, fold laundry put away laundry. I imagined this is what postal workers must feel like… and knew the madness behind the repetition. I was so ashamed this was happening to me. People kept asking if I was alright and I kept lying through my teeth. Completely sure it was all my fault with a smile on my face and a lie in my eyes. And my son, this beautiful, perfect child whom I felt I didn’t deserve. I couldn’t stop staring at him, convinced that my husband was the only reason I had been so fortunate. Looking back I can’t believe the tricks my brain played on me. I ended up self-medicating, trying to get that inner voice to shut the hell up. It was awful, and it got really ugly before it got better. Embarrassing ugly. I’m not proud of my behavior. I alienated friends and family. Although I never endangered my son, I endangered myself. If it wasn’t for my husband’s determination, things would have been very different. I owe him my life.

When I got pregnant the second time I was petrified. I had a glorious pregnancy and vowed to myself I wouldn’t let my brain get the best of me. But that isn’t how postpartum works, unfortunately. You can’t will yourself into good mental health. There is no recipe for what causes it. Sometimes it just is. And after number 2 was born, I found myself falling down the rabbit hole again. Scared shitless that I was powerless.

This time around I consulted my Doctor. I wasn’t embarrassed like I’d been the first time around but I was worried. Really worried. I couldn’t go back to the person I was before, I wouldn’t. My Doctor put me on an antidepressant and it did help. But the thing about antidepressants is that while you don’t feel sad, you don’t really feel… anything. I’m a pretty passionate person, so this was a real shock. No ups, no downs, not to mention no orgasms. You’re just… kinda numb.

But the antidepressants were a very good call. After about 6 months my Doctor and I weaned myself off and my hormones had regulated themselves back to normal levels. I felt really good. Great even. But the time on the medication had helped me to put on some weight that I had a very hard time taking off. Still, I would have done it again in a heartbeat.

You can just imagine my fear when we decided to have a third baby. Beyond fear…. real, true, fucking panic.

But here I am. Another awesome pregnancy under my belt (and thighs, and boobs). A beautiful baby boy smiling in my face and that postpartum monster is nowhere to be found. I have no idea why?

Believe me, I’m just too busy being thankful (and making lunches and washing dishes and folding laundry).

If you are lost in the sea of postpartum depression please know you aren’t alone. And you shouldn’t be ashamed.

And it will get better.