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The following is a list of all entries from the Parenting category.

What I Learned…

We all agree that mama-ing means constantly learning and adapting and changing to take better care of your little one who is also constantly learning and adapting and changing, right? I mean it certainly isn’t static. For me, just with my one, no day is the same as the one previous. I learn something new everyday, either about myself or M or just parenting and  being a mama.

Bearing that in mind, I thought it might be fun to start a new weekly series (inspired in part by fellow Twitter mama @queen_elisheba, check her out at Lollipop Royalty) recounting what I learned over the course of the week about being a mama.

To get the ball rolling, this week I learned:

M changes so much everyday. One day he’s just learning to sit up and seemingly the next he’s launching himself forward, trying to crawl. It happens just that quickly. If I don’t pay attention, I’m going to miss something monumental.

Being present, in the moment with your child, is so important. So often we let ourselves get distracted by screens and media.  Our phones are constantly in hand and we have the instant gratification of being able to tap a screen and instantly connect to the entire world. I am so guilty of ignoring him in favor being connected to everyone else. I look at my phone when he’s nursing, when he’s playing on the floor, when I’m wearing him…my phone is my constant companion. It’s insane.

Last night, as I was nursing him to sleep, I found myself getting irate because Twitter kept freezing. I was getting impatient and frustrated and angry, all while I was trying to get my baby to relax. I was stressing out during what should be a peaceful and calming time because of my phone. I wasn’t present. I wasn’t using this intimate and quiet time to connect with my son. In fact, I was counteracting all the calming and peaceful influences and really just ruining the moment.

I put my phone away and I concentrated on M and my breath. I focused on spending that time with him, soothing him and quieting him and…mothering him. It was one of the most relaxing bedtimes we’ve had and he drifted off to sleep and didn’t wake up again for over an hour. Normally, he wakes up on and off every 15 minutes for the first hour he’s in bed. Just taking that extra step, spending that time, being with him, instead of dealing with him made all the difference and resulted in a happier, more relaxing night for everyone.

It’s so easy to pull out your phone or your tablet or your laptop and connect. As stay at home moms, I know we often feel disconnected and alone, and the pull to talk to people, be around similar women in situations similar to our own, can be a siren call. Don’t let the ease with which that’s possible cause you to disconnect from your main priority and miss out on those precious, once in a lifetime moments. Be present. Be with your kids.


Village? What Village?

It takes a village. Right? To raise a kid, it takes a community, a network of support to be there to lend a hand when mama needs help or has questions or feels blue. During those rough patches when baby is teething or up all night and mama hasn’t slept more than 2 hours at a time in weeks.Mama needs a village.

But what if you don’t have a village? What if you don’t have that community to provide hands-on help? What if there’s nobody to take the baby so you can get a nap? Nobody to sit and drink coffee with and answer your questions or give you a hug or comfort you when you cry? What’s a mama to do when she doesn’t have friends or family nearby?

Since B and I married in 2000, we’ve moved 8, count ’em, 8 times. Yes. Eight. 12345678. And 5 of those moves have been since 2009. I know. This vagabond, gypsy lifestyle we’ve had to adopt, while making us very adaptable, does not lend to the creation of or nurturing of friendships. Work friends and bar friends tend to become Facebook friends and that’s about it. You lose touch and people carry on. Out of sight, out of mind.

Since M was born in April, we’ve had two non-family visitors. The first was when he was very, very wee, maybe 2 or 3 weeks old. The second was last weekend. I don’t have a village. I don’t have anyone to whom I can say “here, take the baby while I pee” or nap or drive to the store to get some milk or wash the dishes. It is just me 15 hours a day.

So what’s a mama to do when she has no village? She finds one on the internet. Facebook and Twitter mamas have saved my sanity on countless occasions. I know that I can go to Facebook and post a question about a cough that I’m worried about or what the best colic remedy is or whether or not M should take  Tylenol before his shots…anything really, and a host of mamas will sally forth to help me or calm my fears.

And Twitter?  Man. Twitter has been a Godsend. I never used the Twitters before M got here but I have found it to be so helpful as a place to vent my frustrations. I have received so much love and support from COMPLETE STRANGERS on Twitter that it almost renews my faith in humanity. Those Twitter mamas are second to none when it comes to making me feel like I’m not messing up every step of the way. When I’m lonely or sad there is ALWAYS someone there who knows how it feels to be a first time mom who is overwhelmed. Those women are priceless.

So, while real-life, tangible shoulders for me to cry on or lean on are miles and miles and miles away, I always have the internet.

Thank you, internet.

Everyone is Just as F***ked Up as Me

You know what’s hard? Having a kid. Not the birthing part, which, yeah, it was hard. But the home-from-the-hospital-now-you-have-a-kid kind of having a kid. The kind of having a kid where you’re responsible for another persons physical and emotional well-being. The kind of having a kid where it feels like every decision you make is going to have long term ramifications. The kind of having a kid where you wonder endlessly if your fucked-upedness is having an impact on his delicate baby psyche. Having a kid is hard. And really scary.

It’s the hardest, scariest thing I have ever done. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I am CONSTANTLY worried that I’m fucking him up. If B and I get in a fight, is that gonna mess him up? If I get impatient while he’s NOT GOING TO SLEEP is that gonna mess him up? Is the fact that he HATES GOING TO SLEEP my fault? Have I done something to give him some heinous, negative sleep association? Every little thing, every single aspect of how I lived my life before has been rethought and over-examined and dissected until I have no idea who I am or what kind of person I am or was or will be. 

Someone on Twitter today told me that I don’t have to be a perfect mom to be the perfect mom for him. It’s a wonderful sentiment, it really is. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and like I can actually pull this off and end up with a kid who isn’t a sociopath. And I know I don’t have to be perfect, that nobody is perfect, and that expecting perfection is just dumb…but how much imperfection is ok? That’s really the question, isn’t it?

How much can I take advantage of the learning curve before it screws him up? I put him down in front of the TV today…and yesterday…and day before. He’s 5 months old and I’m already using the television as a babysitter. I swore he would have ZERO TV until he was two years old. Less than a quarter of the way to that goal, I gave up. Now, I take full advantage of the ol boob tube. Am I proud? Nope. Is it ok that I do it? All science points to no, it is not ok. But you know what? I would lose my damn mind if I didn’t. It distracts him long enough for me to collect my wits and regroup. Then we start over with whatever I was failing at before I began to lose my shit. Usually naptime. I hate naptime.

So, yeah, you don’t have to be perfect. You shouldn’t try. But where do you draw the line and what do you do when you feel like you’ve crossed it? That’s where I am. I’ve thrown up my hands trying to figure it out honestly. I’m just going from one day to the next, trying not to fuck him up too much. He’s gonna be fucked up. Everyone’s parents fucked them up somehow. I get that now. I just have to try not to fuck him up TOO badly. That’s the goal.

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