Why Bringing a Toddler to the Beach Is Anything but a Relaxing Day in the Sun

30 Jun

There a million lovely things about being a WAH/SAH parent. There are a million and two things about it that can suck on a soul draining level. And then there’s those things that straddles both sides of the fence.

Bringing a toddler – at least, a toddler like Ben – to the beach is one of those things.

As the weather became nicer out this spring I heard from several friends how they thought of me each sunny day with envy, knowing that I would likely be spending the majority of the day outdoors. They weren’t wrong, as Ben and I do try to make it outside as much as humanly possible during the precious months of Minnesota spring and summer. And yes, it is awesome to spend more time outside than in. However, for the majority of the year we are trapped indoors as the grey sleet and snow comes down around us, making us stir crazy for the days when sunset happens later than 4:11p.m., but that’s another post for another day.

While the access to fresh air and sunshine is definitely on the “pro” SAH list, bringing a toddler to the beach for the day is not a relaxing experience. Sometimes it isn’t even fun for the adult because guess what? Being with kids is work. Taking care of kids is hard work. Keeping kids safe is really hard work. Here is what my “relaxing” beach day typically looks like with Ben:

Wake up to screaming toddler between 5:30-6a.m. Change toddler into dry diaper while he kicks at me and rolls wildly around the changing table.

Feed starving toddler breakfast. Cut up banana so he has something to satisfy him while I try to make eggs or peanut butter toast. Stop one hundred times to decipher what he’s anxiously gesturing “more, please” at.

Eat cold eggs and toast while Ben paces around the kitchen table. Half of my food ends up in his mouth, even though he insisted he was done eating off his own tray.

Stand in kitchen and pack lunch and snack for the beach. While cutting fruit Ben decides he’s still hungry, so every third piece goes to the toddler sitting on my feet. Every time I open the fridge toddler needs to help put something in (like his truck) or take something out (like the glass bottle of steak sauce).

Ice toes after glass bottle is dropped on my feet. Make mental note that he can reach the top shelf now.

Use bathroom and get my swimming suit on. Help Ben brush his teeth, then his hair, then retrieve the brush from the bathtub after he is finished brushing his hair. Keep one hand on the flatiron and repeatedly say “no touch” while chubby little fingers desire nothing more than second degree burns.

Tell Ben that it’s time to get his suit on so we can go bye-bye. Curse as he runs to the gate at the top of the stairs, adamant that bye-bye is happening NOW. Try to coax willful toddler into his bedroom to the dreaded changing table. When that fails, pick toddler up in a defensive stance as arms and legs go flying. Sacrifice shoulder to a defiant chomping in order to keep legs and knees from kicking pregnant stomach.

More sobs and screams on changing table. Try singing favorite songs, which has a 50% success rate of calming Ben down. Take a few more kicks and punches as he fights for freedom. Totally deflate his hopes when he realizes that getting the swimming trunks and swim shirt on were only half the battle – next comes sunscreen.

Dodge bites and generally wiggly-ness while trying to protect toddler from future wrinkles and skin cancer.

Set toddler free, who immediately runs to the gate demanding to be set loose. Listen to shrieking and sobbing while I tell him that I have to take Ace outside to go potty before we can leave. Get fingers pinched in gate as he shakes it while I sneak past with the dog. Offer distractions (go find your fishies! Go get your books! Where’s your animal puzzle?) to no avail.

Listen to Ben scream while Ace takes her time to pee.

Get dog in kennel while Ben sobs “bye-bye”. Reassure toddler that I didn’t ditch him.

Open gate for Ben and remind him a thousand times to go down the stairs on his tummy. On his tummy. On his – pick up crying Ben and make sure the stumble down the last step didn’t do any serious damage.

Sit Ben down on bench and wrestle on shoes. Check beach bag for: hat, towels, sunscreen, water bottle, sippy cup, sand toys, swim diapers, regular diapers, wipes and dry change of clothes. Carry Ben and bag to the car, get Ben buckled into car seat.

Go back inside for keys and cell phone that I forgot on kitchen counter.

Drive to beach and unload belongings and Ben. Remind Ben that if he wants to walk he has to hold my hand. We’ll argue about this several times before we finally get to the sand.

Pick our spot and unload towels and sand toys. Enjoy 10-15 minutes of Ben being entertained by the sheer joy of the water, the sand, filling up his bucket on the shore. Wonder if today is the day that he’ll be content playing like the other kiddos –

Nope. Chase Ben as he tries to run to the parking lot. Redirect to the beach. Redirect to the beach. Redirect. To. The. Goddamn. Beach.

Walk with Ben to the water (lasts for 10 minutes). Build castles for him to destroy (lasts for 5 minutes). Show him how to sift sand (lasts for 5 minutes). Redirect to the beach. We’re playing at the beach. AT THE BEACH.

Open up lunches. Ben gets to eat while I remind him to sit on his bottom. Sneak in stray bites when he is engaged in his food. Realize that I’m starving, but push the hunger aside as Ben takes off toward the parking lot.

Carry a screaming Ben back, get bit twice. Encourage him to rediscover the water or his toys. Enjoy 10-15 more minutes of Ben playing within my line of sight. Sneak in a few more bites of lunch that has gotten warm and mushy, but hey, food is food.

Redirect Ben to the beach for a dunking to clean off as much sand as possible. Carrying angry toddler to dry towel (get bit or kicked 2-5 times). Pin down toddler while peeling off second layer of skin swim diaper off of wet body. Dodge kicks while dressing in dry clothes. Hastily throw my shit in the beach bag without taking an assessment that I’ve grabbed everything while holding Ben’s arm with one hand.

Remind him of the holding hands rule while we walk to the car.

Drive home, carry sleeping toddler into his room. He smells like sun and sunscreen and a childhood spent outside, driving his mama crazy while he explores his world. Kiss him a few hundred times before lowering him into bed. Feel exhausted, sore, grimy with sand…and strangely happy. I’m the opposite of relaxed, but the days of laying in the sun reading a book and dozing on and off seem like a distant dream. I’m on toddler time now, which comes with a hell of a lot of ups and downs.

And plenty of sunshine.

A Family That Lasts.

23 Jun

What’s the point of having, of creating, a family? No really – someone give me a good answer here.

When I was growing up I was surrounded by cousins and aunts, uncles, grandparents, and of course my parents. I have an unlimited supply of silly, happy, warm memories. When we moved from Missouri to Minnesota in 1994 we were fortunate enough to have been relocated to a place where my mom’s two brothers lived. This eventually meant 5 new cousins. From 1994 – 2001ish these cousins were frequently at our house. And by frequently, I mean multiple days a week. My mom was either the babysitter, or our house was home base while my uncle went through a divorce.

And then dad died, and then my uncle died, and saying “my family in Missouri” is rocky at best, and my family in Minnesota seems to be limited to a couple of visits every year, although we live within a half hour of each other.

Mom and I got to talking about this tonight – what happened? And why does it happen? Do people just grow apart and go their separate ways? Is it really that easy to fall out of a once beloved family members good graces? Do the bonds of childhood really count for nothing when you’re in your 30’s?

Don’t any families stay together?

Mom said she’s just accepted that what was is no more, and while it’s sad and she wishes we were all closer that it just isn’t how it is. I get that, to a point. But then I wonder why bother making a family at all? Will Dustin and I put all this time into our two kids only to have them reach their mid-twenties and be strangers? How can you make sure that the family you build stays together?

(I guess my gut reaction is don’t let people die, because boy does that fuck everything up, but I realize that’s a bit illogical).

I guess I just want Ben and the other kid that’s on its way to be – and more importantly stay –  a family. I want this after I’m gone, after Dustin is gone, after the obligations are over. I want them to be like those siblings and family members I grew up believing in, the ones that take their families on vacations together, the ones who voluntarily call (or whatever communication is popular for their generation) each other. The ones who do more than Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving appearances.

Now I can’t force this or control it; but if I could, I would give them that. Family and friendship. Love stronger than death or the damages of the human condition.

I would give them a family that lasts.

Is that even possible?

Don’t Want Another Baby? Your Only Child Will Be Just Fine. Promise.

16 Jun

Last night I got an hour-ish break from the (still) crazy hell-beast that is my toddler to go get a cavity filled. Yes, this counts as a break, because by 3p.m. I was more excited about having shots of Novocaine than dealing with Ben for another 10 minutes. (It got even better a few hours later when he whacked me in the forehead with his head as hard as he possibly could , resulting in my still swollen eyebrow…don’t worry, he’s fine).

The hygienist and I were chatting about our kids and how exhausting they can be, and she mentioned that all her friends are popping out their second and pressuring her to do the same. She has a two-year-old, and doesn’t feel like she wants another one. “Is that horrible of me?” she asked after I told her I was an only child. “Are you mad at your parents?”

I instantly thought of my (and I dare to use the word) cousin, who at the high point of the falling out with my dad’s side of the family wrote me a particularly lovely letter where she said that my parents were selfish monsters for only having one child. It went on to say that I was such a rotten child from infancy that she almost couldn’t blame them, since who would want to risk another one like me. (Deep breath, deep breath, karma is a bitch).

I bring this up because obviously, the pressure and the corresponding guilt to have any or multiple children is on the minds of many a lady. As an only child who survived to tell the tale, I can promise you that:

You will mess up your firstborn much worse by having another baby that you don’t really want than by stopping at just one. I’m serious. You and only you know what’s right for your family. Maybe you and your partner feel really comfortable being a family of 3. Maybe you feel like things aren’t complete until you’re rocking a mini-van with each and every bucket seat packed with a kid. If you feel like you wouldn’t be a good (or as good) a parent to more kids, then don’t have them. It really is that simple – and it’s perfectly OK!

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Being an only child did not ruin my life. Not even a little. I won’t lie and say I never asked for siblings when I was younger, but hell, we lived in the middle of nowhere Missouri where the nearest gas station was a fifteen minute drive away; of course I was envious of my friends who had built-in playmates (or a farm full of animals, same difference). But when I look back on my childhood, I don’t lament the siblings I didn’t have; I just remember the fun I had playing with my parents and my cousins and friends. I remember getting lost in books and imagination games. I don’t remember anything being ruined, that’s for sure.

And speaking of parents…being an only child has a huge advantage to the families I know with 4+ kids: lots of one-on-one time with the parents. I had a friend growing up who had three siblings and she very distinctly remembers only being alone with her parents for the 15 minutes each of them were allotted at bedtime. No disrespect to larger families – in fact, more power to you, because no way could I do it! – but I much preferred not having to share my mom and dad with a small army.

Oh yeah, the selfish only child thing. Bullshit. Let’s get one thing straight – only children are no more or no less likely to be spoiled rotten humans than children with siblings. Selflessness is a core value that is learned, it does not come from being an only child. How we parent our kids, what we role model for them and who they spend their time with will shape their character far more than having or not having siblings.

There’s a big difference between being nervous to add another child to your family (hello, me) and feeling a strong uncertainty that you want that new child at all. Listen to your gut (not the gut of your pregnant friend/sister/coworker or an eager grandparent) and trust your mama (or pre-mama, if you’re deciding to have kids at all) instinct before you make any decisions. Kids are awesome, but they are so much work and deserve to be 100% wanted, whether they’re your first or your sixth.

The Day I Almost Sold My Toddler.

11 Jun

It’s been 4 days since the worst day I’ve ever had with Ben and I’m still reeling. Still exhausted. Still covered in bite marks. Let me preface this post by saying that if you’re on the fence about having kids stop reading right now. Days and experiences like this will definitely add some serious weight to the “no chance in hell” side of the scale.

It sort of started last Monday when Ben’s eye teeth began to make an appearance. He was whiny, clingy, and irritable enough that I brought him to the doctor on Wednesday just to rule out an ear infection. (I’m actually not a FTM of a preemie who rushes to the doctor for every little thing, to which I thank years working in daycares.) The doc said he was perfectly fine, save for the 3-4 teeth trying to break through.

On Friday Dustin left us for the weekend to go shoot a movie for the 48 Hour Film Project. This involves making a short movie in – you guessed it – 48 Hours. It also means leaving a pregnant wife alone with a toddler for the weekend. I’m not complaining; I’m actually very happy that we have the type of relationship that allows for both of us to wander off and pursue non-parenting things from time to time.

I decided to tag along with Tia and Emmett on a short trip to Wisconsin to visit her mom. Ben and Emmett had a blast playing in the backyard (minus those harrowing 5 minutes when we tried to turn on the sprinkler) and exploring Grandma Kathy’s (or Uma in Emmett speak) house. But trouble struck at bedtime. Tia and her husband hadn’t had a chance to set up the AC yet this year and Ben and I spent the night tossing and turning in the stuffy heat. He was cranky when we got up, and cranky while we packed up our stuff, but I thought the 2 hour nap on the ride home might cure him.

Oh, how wrong I was.

We got home around 11:45a.m. and until Dustin walked in at 5:30p.m. Ben did nothing but scream, cry, hit, slap, and bite me. He would ask to be lifted up, and the moment I had him in my arms he would slap me across the face. When I put him down he would scream and lunge for my leg to bite. I tried to get the tired devil down for a second, much-needed nap and instead of laying there peacefully until he nodded off he stood in his crib shaking the bars and screaming so loudly I feared the neighbors would call the police.

At one point we were both looking at each other and sobbing. Where the hell did my awesome, sweet kid go? And really, how bad would it be to toss this thing in the dog kennel with a sippy cup and some fruit snacks and just wait it out?

When Dustin got home I was sweaty, with frayed hair flying all about my face. There was spit and leftover mac-n-cheese sauce on my shoulders. I didn’t even wait for Dustin to set his bags down before I handed him a writhing, screaming, foaming Ben and retreated to the shower, the white flag waved, muttering “He won. He won the whole day.”

I took a half-hour shower followed by a unisom. While I waited for my sleepy pill to kick in I busted out my  emergency box of yellow cake. I finished off way too much cake in bed before passing blissfully the F out.

This week has been better-ish. It’s helped that we’ve had 3 days of gorgeous weather in which to play at the beach and splash pad (read: wear him out to the point of utter exhaustion so he doesn’t realize his teeth still hurt).

Until today, when he suddenly spiked a 101* fever. Now he’s miserable for a different reason, still burning up after motrin, and he’s listless and just wants to lay on one of us with his blankie and whimper. Which makes me realize I miss the savage teething hell-beast; at least that creature had the energy to scream and cry.

I still might sell him…but I’ll be cool and wait til he feels better. Yup, that’s good parenting, no doubt about it.

I think

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3 Reasons for the 2 Month Delay

1 Jun

Hi blog, it’s me, Sarah. We go back a couple of years, though for the last sixty-ish days I’ve been distant, ignoring your reminders to update. I promise, it’s been for some pretty good reasons.

1. I’ve been busy, ok? 

I know that everybody says that they’re too busy with such and such to get to the important things, like writing, but really, it’s been crazy. From Easter to present we’ve spent a few weekends out-of-town, had some end of the year programs for Ben, a couple of birthdays, a major home renovation project. Throw in day-to-day life with a willful, teething (does it ever end?) toddler and downtime has been rare at best.

2. Work, work and more work. 

Don’t get me wrong, we are ever so grateful for Dustin’s freelance work, but it seems to be either feast or famine, and over the past two months it’s been in a feast mode. He’s been burning the candle at both ends on up to three intense projects and this means that we’ve had very little one-on-one time. When he’s been able to go for a walk after work with us before starting his projects that trumps blogging any day of the week.

And now for the big one…

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Baby #2 is due on 12/18/15! 

I could – and will – write at length about what it’s like to be pregnant post-preemie, but for now I’ll just say that I’m about 70% terrified and 30% happy. I mean, I’m overall happy but the idea of doing this again, and of how it could turn out…do you think a baby can sense ambivalence from the womb? I’m definitely playing this one safe, and for me that means trying to keep a healthy distance between me and attachment. Especially since we’ve already had a scare with some bleeding and an early ultrasound following said bleeding  that showed a slower heart rate and about a week delay in growth. (Since then the baby almost caught up and gave us a heart rate of 156 at the second ultrasound.)

For now the plan is to be seen every 4 weeks until 20 weeks. I was in last Thursday and my blood pressure is good for me (138/80) but still a bit high, so I’m back on BP watch every couple of days here at home. I have to do a 24 hour urine collect sometime this week to get a baseline (along with lots of blood work last week) for all my functions and protein leaking as part of Preeclampsia Watch 2015. The urine collection kit is hanging in our new entry way. Hello, old friend, our fridge has been missing you. I’m also a “test patient” in that I will be taking baby aspirin once a day to try to improve blood flow through the placenta. I would do anything to buy as much time to cook this kid as possible.

After 20 weeks we will re-evaluate since that’s sort of when I went haywire last time. This time could be nothing like last time. This time could be worse than last time. For a girl who lives and breathes by having lists and calendars and plans, this whole high-risk unknown pregnancy shit is pure torture.

There you have it – stay tuned for my usual, regular, reliable content! Thanks for hanging in there in my first trimester absence. They say the second trimester is supposed to be the easy and full of energy one (though these are the same women say that pregnancy is easy and breastfeeding comes as naturally as blinking, so…time will tell.)

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Stopped for a quick family photo during the Baby Steps 3k. Told ya I’ve been busy. 

Full-Time Mom Seeks Part-Time Job: Why is This So Hard?

17 Mar

I’m (newly) 31 years old and have held a job for the better part of the last 17 years. I’ve swept hair at a salon, cashiered at a grocery store, worked my way from an aide to a teacher to an assistant director at early childhood centers. I’ve been an administrative assistant, an office manager (this position alone actually has a thousand sub-headings), and a marketing assistant. I’ve done family photography for several years. I’ve written 3 books (and have even seen some time on best seller lists). I know Social Media, Outlook, Excel, Office, PowerPoint. I’d say this all counts for something.

So why is it so hard find a job that doesn’t involve me right back to where I started, ringing up groceries and asking a customer if they want paper or plastic? And am I running the risk of becoming this:

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I left my full-time job after Ben was born. We didn’t have a choice, and I don’t regret doing everything we’ve done to keep our preemie healthy and safe. And with a lot of sweat, blood and tears (and the occasional migraine…okay, more than occasional) we’ve made it 15 months with me technically “unemployed”. But it can’t last forever, and my goal lately has been to try and find a job that isn’t just ringing up groceries. And let me be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a cashier. A job is job, and money is money, and food on the table is food on the table.

But after almost two decades of  work, do I really want to put such a “step down” on a resume? Isn’t it bad enough in this male driven work world that I left a job at all to “just be a mom”? What happens if I cashier, and then in a few years when Ben is older and I’m ready to work full-time again I have to explain why I went from a career to a cashier?

So I’ve been looking around, and it’s been stressful. And disappointing. I interviewed back in January for a company that got me so far along in the process that I did a job shadow and a background check…and then I never heard from them again. I interviewed last week for a design and communication position and while the job was perfect for me, they need the 20 hours to be filled in the morning and in the afternoon. I did some shakey math and even if we put Ben in daycare 15-20 hours/week, and juggled the heck out of Dustin work schedules, I would probably be making very little after the cost of putting Ben in daycare.

Isn’t it 2015, a world in which working remote has taken over the traditional expectations of being chained to a desk? How does one find the remote positions? Or at the very least, a job that uses my skills and dare I say a bit of my passions and interests that fills a need during the late afternoon and weekends? I’ll even give up my weekends and time with my family if it means we get to keep Ben at home.

So the search continues. I know that something will come up, I just wish it wasn’t hiding itself so well.

Why I STILL Need A Car Wash.

8 Mar

My Friday was so out-of-a-movie crazy that it simply has to become a blog post.

Ben was in a mood from the moment he woke up (6:08a.m. is way too early) and spent the morning throwing food from his tray and crying over every big and not-so-big thing. At one point he was crying because I had locked him out of the kitchen while I tried to clean up/eat my breakfast, but was consoled by trying to grab a chunk of Ace’s fur while she walked by. He started to giggle and leaned forward to head-butt her (she’s such a saint) when Ace turned around and stepped on his hand. Normally this would just make him giggle harder, but on Friday…oh, the humanity. The tears. The gut-wrenching sobs.

Who needs breakfast, eh?

We finally hit the road to meet up with Tia and her trio for a morning at the Maple Maze. This went well, and Ben enjoyed crawling around contemplating what life would be life if he were big enough and daring enough to crawl into the climbers or, dare I suggest it, walk. 

He fell asleep in the car, and not wanting to potentially wake him up I decided to get a car wash on my way home. The car was filthy and I was getting really tired of wearing salt and road dirt on my shirts, pants, diaper bag, hair, elbow, everything. The day was bright and sunny so it sort of surprised me when the first car wash I stopped at was closed. The second gas station I tried had a big “out of order” sign on the car wash entrance. But like Goldilocks, the third gas station was just right. I filled up the car at the pump (one of the most glorious inventions for parents everywhere) and waited patiently for my car wash code to be printed out on the receipt.

After a moment the pump BEEPED in my face and displayed a message. “Unable to print ticket. Please see cashier inside.”

This. Is. Why. I. Paid. At. The Pump.

I spent at least 5 minutes debating whether I should just chuck my $4.99 to the already rich oil companies or wake up Ben, carry him inside and get the receipt. I just can’t throw money away, so I unbuckled my snoozing baby and began the walk inside. Just before I got to the door I noticed a damp sensation creeping up my arm. I shifted his weight and the dampness hit my side. I flipped him over and his entire butt and half his pant leg are drenched. Apparently someone dreamed about having their hand in a warm bowl of water, because his diaper had literally burst.

So I stood in line behind a construction worker buying cigarettes and playing that little machine that tells you if your lottery tickets are any good until the cashier asked if she could help me. “Yes, I bought a car wash and it said to come in for the receipt. Guess I picked the broken pump, number 7.”

She stared me down. “Are you sure you bought a wash?”

Deep breath. “Yes. Otherwise I wouldn’t have woken up my sleeping kid to come in here for a receipt. That’s why I paid at the pump…but it’s broken.”

She stared at me like she was deciding whether or not to press the panic button, but finally gave me my code.

We walked back to the car and I got Ben buckled back up – who was really not loving sitting in his soaking wet clothes – and, seeing the mile long car wash line (by this point it was the lunch hour and every Minnesotan had the same brilliant idea as me) decided to skip it, drive the 5 minutes home and get my kid into some dry clothes.

But on the plus side…we went to play Bingo that night and Dustin won $50! So I guess it all evens out. Somehow.

7 Reasons Why Turning 31 Was Way Better than Turning 21

3 Mar

On Saturday I celebrated my 31st birthday. It was fantastic for a number of reasons, the biggest one being that Dustin and I were not sick with sleep deprivation and worry that at any moment Ben’s hernias could slip out-of-place and require emergency surgery. Man, last year kicked our asses!

Birthdays are often a time of reflection, and over the past week of mulling over life and the passing of time (you know, little stuff like that) I came to a conclusion: turning 31 beat turning 21 by a longshot.

Alcohol is an enhancement, not the focal point. Sure, I have fond memories of sitting around a living room drinking and doing a number of silly things (drunk Twister is still a favorite). But I’ve found that nowadays, if there is alcohol involved, it’s an enhancement to the already awesome time we’re having. There doesn’t need to be drinks flowing to have a good time. This is not to say that I boozed it up in my twenties – quite the contrary, I was pretty boring among typical standards. I’m just happy that now it’s “normal” to be boring.

But if you do drink, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Even if you were one of those kids who drank plenty before they were legal (I wasn’t…go ahead, nerd alert me) you had to act all shocked and surprised when you spend the next day with a hangover. And then you had to tell stories the following weekend about the hangover you had last weekend. At 31, Dustin and I knew what was going to happen to us after margaritas, cheap vodka, Captain Morgan and Long Islands.

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Twin Cities Pride and see the Vodka Sno Cone van…because even people in their thirties will act like children a couple times a year!

Even if you don’t have it all figured out, you probably have the most important part figured out. And by that, I mean YOU. I’m guessing that by the time you’ve reached your thirties, you know at your core who you are. People change all their lives, but I believe that our core components are hard to shake by this stage in the game. Being in your twenties can be terrifying and can involve trying on many different personas, which is, of course, all part of the process of learning the type of person you want to grow up to become.

You’ve already had some big wins and some epic fails, and you have enough distance to realize that it will all even out. Between the ages of 16-26 I lost a dad, an uncle, worked long hours at jobs that treated me like crap and paid even worse, and married and divorced an abusive monster of a guy. Those were the fails. The wins? I put myself through night school for my B.A., walked out of said job to search for better skies, landed a job that turned into a career, had the nerve to divorce said monster, traveled the globe…see how the “win” list is much larger? Age really does put perspective on things. If you do your part and meet the world/God/universe half-way, the scale will balance out…eventually. Promise.

Love doesn’t suck. And if it does suck, you know better than to take it. People – in particular women – in their younger years are a bit more likely to hang on to a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship. Or they hang on because they aren’t concerned with how much time is being wasted with someone who can’t or won’t give you what you want. You get older and you stop sacrificing your happiness for someone else’s agenda. If you’re married in your thirties odds are you’ve learned by now what you will and won’t tolerate, and if you’re not, you know what you’re looking for and you’re too smart to settle for anything less.

You have really valuable friendships and you know quality over quantity is what counts. This may be the biggest one for me, because after the heartbreak that was my high school (death of a parent in the middle of your high school career does not make relationships easy) I was really sensitive about being in my twenties and not having a friend to my name for longer than a year or more. And now? I couldn’t care less. The friends I made in my twenties are, for the most part, still here in my thirties. At least the ones that are worth keeping are here – the rest? I don’t lose sleep over them, let me assure you. I’ve also learned to identify quality people from the ones who are all flash but wouldn’t show up for you at 2am when the hard stuff strikes.

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My mom and her best friend of…25ish years, taken in 2006. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one or two friends like this in your lifetime. Hold on to these people. They are priceless. 

And last, but certainly not least: growing older is a privilege, not a right. Scroll through your FB feed, watch the news, look up the right key words on Pinterest and you will find a plethora of people mourning friends, family and (yikes) children taken from this world way too soon. At 21, most of us still have a bit of that “invincibility” complex left over from our teen years. By 31? We know better. I feel lucky to be this age, and I feel lucky for every day and year that comes after, because really, none of us knows when the clock stops.

Does aging bother you? Is there something you miss about your twenties now that you’re in your thirties? 

Pregnancy Isn’t a Blessing: 7 Things Not to Say to Your Friends Who Aren’t Pregnant Yet

24 Feb

The sensitivity that exists between those who are trying to conceive (TTC) and those who have already conceived and successfully given birth can be so high that even the strongest of relationships can crumble into a bitter, hurt mess.

The truth is that, although we spent much of our adolescence being told that pregnancy can happen anytime we so much look at a member of the opposite sex, getting pregnant does not come naturally for every couple.

This bears repeating: pregnancy does not come naturally, easily or cheap to many, many couples.

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There is a reason why Facebook and other Social Media groups exist to support those who are struggling with infertility or struggles conceiving naturally. A common thread among these groups? The stupid things people say to the person who is having difficulty getting pregnant.

It may seem odd that I’m writing this post – after all, we conceived Ben naturally after 7 months of no planning, but not preventing. But since I have several family members and good friends who have struggled with various difficulties in the baby making department, please allow me to be a sort of liaison between the cluelessly knocked-up and the frustrated infertile.

So let’s say someone you’re close with – and want to keep in your life – tells you they’re trying to get pregnant but haven’t had any success. Acceptable responses include but are not limited to: I’m sorry to hear that; what can I do to help you right now; I’ll listen whenever you need me to; what flavor of ice cream should I pick up before we continue this conversation? Any variation of these will do just fine.

Responses that are never okay and will start the process of driving a wedge between you and this person you care about include:

Stop stressing about it, it will happen. Has being told to stop stressing over something ever made you stop stressing about it? Nope, didn’t think so.

But you’re too young to be dealing with this stuff! Because young people never have health issues.

You better hurry up and have kids, you’re not getting any younger. I promise, any woman who wants a baby is painfully aware of her age and her biological clock.

You guys should have kids, you’d be such good parents. I never, ever say this to couples. In fact, I try my best to avoid bringing up kids until the other party does. Why? Because they know they would be good parents. They really want the chance to be good parents. Choosing not to have kids because you want a kidless life is one of many reasons why people don’t get pregnant…and from my experience, it’s usually low on the list.

Have you thought about adoption? To a couple who still has their heart set on conception, saying this is like saying you think it’s time for them to give up. They’ll come to this decision on their own and in their own time. Adoption is an amazing gift for both baby and parents – but it isn’t the right choice for everyone, and it’s not your job to push.

I can’t believe I’m pregnant againI firmly believe that just because your friend is having trouble getting pregnant it doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to talk about your pregnancy. However, there is a difference in talking about the baby kicking and complaining that you didn’t even mean to get pregnant with your third baby. Save the “it was an accident” details for yourself, or share them with friends who already have a mini-van full of rugrats.

Maybe God is trying to tell you something. This is the second-worst offense in my opinion (and yes, I believe in God) because when did you get a direct line into God’s plans for your friend(s) who want desperately to have a child? I want to believe people have good intentions when they say this, but mostly this response will come off condescending, uncaring and just plain hurtful.

My pregnancy is such a blessing/I was blessed with this pregnancy. This takes the cake for the first worst offense. By saying that you are blessed because you’re pregnant you are implying that your friend is NOT blessed because she ISN’T pregnant. Ouch.

What’s the worst or best thing a friend or family member has said to you while you were trying to get pregnant? Please, educate us so we can all be the awesome friends we were before this whole TTC thing!

I’m Ignoring My Kid Right Now.

16 Feb

I put Ben down for a much needed nap around 10:00 a.m. He was sound asleep until about 10 minutes in when he had a huge coughing fit (he’s pretty much drowning on teething drool these days), started crying, and now for the last 45 minutes or so he’s been rocking out in his crib like it’s time to par-tay.

I’ve been sitting at my computer listening to him rock the crib casba and not doing a darn thing about it because a)he needs to sleep b) I have a gajillion things to do in the time when he is supposed to be sleeping and c) I was really looking forward to a shower without him standing in his gated off section of the bathroom chucking legos and plastic blocks at the shower curtain.

But now that I’ve paid a few bills, followed up on some work emails and written this lame post (but it’s still a post, right? right?) I guess I’ll go rescue him from the cruel and unusual punishment that is his crib, blankey and sound machine.

I’ll try for the “momma under fire” free shower tomorrow. Today I will wave the white towel of defeat and hope he doesn’t figure out how to climb over the gate and ambush me.

Happy Monday indeed!

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