What I Fall Behind On

Last weekend was beautiful weather for February in the Midwest. We spent most of the weekend outside when we weren’t eating or sleeping, in an attempt to reawaken my children’s interest in something other than Netflix and arguing over the middle of my lap.  It was incredible. We only had one meltdown all weekend and it was when we were picking up our toys for bed and my son decided, despite my best ferocious mom warning tone not to, to swing his racetrack around his head, which then hit his sister, and next hit me when I moved him to the couch to calm down before saying sorry. (Which he chose to give a hug instead of saying sorry – his sister was in heaven).  We spent Saturday morning exploring a new park and nature center, we visited a new coffee shop where my kids didn’t embarrass us, and Sunday we went to our neighborhood playground, we took walks down our street, we ran around our backyard, my kids got muddy, and went down the slide a million times.

I was determined to soak up every last drop of sunshine and every free moment with my kids. And nap when they napped.  Which on Saturday was not at all. But then Sunday evening came and they were in bed and I looked at my list of meal prep items for the week and I though FUCK. Then I proceeded to spend two hours in the kitchen Sunday night and 2.5 hours on Monday night to make up for what I didn’t do over the weekend. I was exhausted and annoyed at myself for being so behind. I don’t know the last time I helped with laundry (thanks to my husband for taking on that undesirable chore). I don’t know the last time I didn’t trip over my own clothes or shoes on our bedroom floor. I don’t know the last time I actually mopped our kitchen floor. Wait, I do – it was before my daughter’s 1st birthday party, May 29, 2016. But don’t worry, we use an incredibly convenient product called pampers sensitive baby wipes for the daily spills. They are actually quite effective; their intended purpose is apparently for wiping shit off bums so I figure cottage cheese on hardwood is a similar enough application.

I’ve been grappling with guilt the last few days over my lack of planning, lack of housekeeping skills (which, I think have the skills, just lack time and energy), and my lack of patience for when my kid whines for the 10th time that he wants me to play with him instead of doing whatever unimportant adult chore that I’m doing. “I can’t run around with you right now, I have to sweep the kitchen floor because we had blueberries two days ago yet somehow there are blueberries still on the floor.” Logically, I realize feeling guilty doesn’t solve a damn thing, though it’s hard to feel anything but when you realize something always falls behind. However, I am fully confident that I’m picking the right things to fall behind on. I never want my relationship with my kids to be what falls behind.

So, that’s why I run around with them for an hour after work instead of cooking fresh-baked rolls for dinner. It’s why my bathroom tile has a foot trail of makeup all over it that hasn’t been cleaned up  yet because where are the wipes? It’s why I overlook dust and dirt and crumbs and piles of clothes that need folding. If I’m going to fall behind in something, damn right it’s the stupid adult chores of keeping a house clean. I dream of endless time to keep my house unrealistically pristine 24/7 (or at least endless money to hire someone to), but in the meantime, I try to appreciate the present: my dream of laughing happy children tackling me on the carpet and hiding plastic snakes down my shirt. This is what I dreamed of when I was pregnant with my second child. I just wanted to play with my kids together and hear them laugh. It’s that simple. Moms and dads: you don’t have to be perfect. You certainly don’t have to keep a clean house. As parents, we have a million things we can fail at, but I urge you to focus on what you’re succeeding at instead. Kids are happy, loved and fed. This is the only way we don’t drown under an emotional state of perpetual self-disappointment. Also, this is the only way I can feel better about not mopping my floor for 9 months: hoping that another parent, out there in the universe, has a chore that they are half-a-year late on.

Advertisements

Sometimes I make good things…

Once a year, I come up with a really yummy recipe. I peaked early this year, and in April created a twist on sausage, egg and cheese breakfast casserole in the form of “egg cups”.

First, let me tell you that I hate vegetables. I really just don’t understand why they have to taste so bad. The only way I can eat them is covered in butter and salt. (Hence why I loved corn on the cob growing up. Corn’s a vegetable, right? Or a grain?) I had decided that I needed to hide my veggies somewhere in something I eat daily because I’m 4. So I started making my breakfast casserole recipe but in egg cups and adding broccoli. After determining that broccoli gets old after eating it every morning with eggs for 2 months, I figured out that Pico de Gallo counts as veggies!! So I now purchase fresh pico every week (thank you KROGER!) and go through it like a boss. You can really make these egg cups with any ‘fillers’ as long as you use egg, milk and cheese as the base. Sorry vegans. There is nothing in this recipe you can eat except the pico. I like my dairy. I also like my bacon. God created bacon for us, and it is good. So I eat it.

I use a silicon muffin pan because scraping baked egg out of a metal one, no matter the copious amounts of Pam applied beforehand, is a shitty way to spend 20 minutes after the kids go to bed. This is the one I use. It’s inexpensive and works really well.

Preheat oven to 350. Find at least a 10 in x 10 in space to work on your counter. You might have to take 15 minutes to actually clean the kitchen first to find it. If you’re going to clean the kitchen first, be sure to pour yourself a drink. I’m partial to vodka and blackberry cucumber LaCroix.

Fry up some bacon*. I use thick sliced bacon raised on a 6th generation family farm in the Pacific Northwest. Each pig gets cuddled to sleep at night and in the morning they are given a breakfast of fresh handpicked daily non-gmo no pesticide vegetables. When their time comes to serve the ultimate sacrifice of becoming bacon, they are gently put under to the sounds of enya in a calm and relaxing room. It’s expensive bacon, but I can tell when I eat a pig that doesn’t get cuddled to sleep. I use a cast iron skillet instead of the oven so I can collect all of the bacon grease and use it to fry up sweet potatoes or chicken later.
*Tofu, Sausage, deli ham, etc.

Beat 6 eggs with 1 ¾ cup whole milk (trust me – whole milk is so much better).
Cut fried bacon up into bite sized pieces.
Place your silicon muffin pan on a cookie sheet. Trust me – do NOT try to transfer a silicon flexible pan filled with eggs to the oven on its own. Learn from my mistakes.
Fill each ‘cup’ of your muffin pan with bacon. Probably err on the side of caution and add more than you think you need.
Top with pico. Again more than you think you need.
Top with shredded cheese of your choice.
Pour egg and milk mixture in each cup stopping just before the top.
Place cookie sheet + muffin pan in oven and bake for 40 minutes – check it and if you like it a bit crispy on top go for 45-47 minutes.

Pro tip: do not try to remove the eggs from the cups the same day. Let them cool for 15 minutes, then place the entire thing in the fridge and they come out much easier while cold later. Also, when you blog a recipe, you can call yourself a pro even if you don’t deserve the title.

Reheat throughout the week in the microwave and enjoy. Tastes best with a side of bacon (yes, more) and as much caffeine as possible. Don’t judge me.
image

Two is louder than one

Recently I was at an indoor play space inside of a children’s museum.  I was in the middle of a 10 minute journey/vision-quest with the 3 year old to the bathroom, and wrangling my 14 month old down from steps on a play structure that she had no business being on by herself, a mom asked me “so how is it with two kids?”

I couldn’t think of one intelligent, thoughtful thing to say. I actually don’t even remember how I answered it. Did I make it seem terrible? Or wonderful and worth it? I hope I sounded happy and grateful to be living this life with two kids.  But really, how is it with two kids?  I don’t really know how it is compared to anything else.  I can compare it to life when I just had one kid, but then I start to feel guilty thinking about how ‘easy’ it was then, all the meals I actually was able to eat slowly, and wishing it was still so damn easy.

So later, I sat down to really think about how I would describe life with more than one kid to a parent with only one.  Not the “oh my gosh it’s magical and I’m busy but happy” reality, but the “yea, it can be really really hard and frustrating and challenging but also really great” reality. (Parents of 3, 4, 5, 6+ kids have a million more struggles and a million more tears, a million more laughs. I’m not trying to make this out as some parenting achievement for having 2 kids…although I took both kids to the rec center by myself last week and dealt with the clean-up of the 3 year old’s poopy pants “mom there’s poop everywhere” while I let the other sit on the floor of the public restroom finishing her apple strawberry squeezie and touching EVERYTHING – so I will take a pat on the back for sweating through that without running away to drink).

Crumby

I could sweep the floor every five minutes and I’d still find crumbs. They multiply like a Quiverfull family.  I don’t know where all the crumbs come from, but I have suspicion part of it is because we lost our dog last October and she was my crumb cleaner upper, hiding the severity of our crumb problem with her swift clean up.  Additionally, it might have something to do with me setting cheerios on the floor in front of my daughter to keep her occupied while I clean the kitchen. That’s kind of counterproductive, but it keeps her happy. That’s my job, right?

Hilarious

Watching my kids interact with each other (it happens once a week for 20 minutes when my 3 year old is feeling generous and loving) is hilarious.  The 14 month old chases the 3 year old around, and visa-versa, and they laugh and laugh. It’s the simplest damn thing, chasing each other around the house playing their own version of tag – but it is pretty much the funniest moment of their entire lives at that point, so we laugh too.

Unpredictable

Even having one kid, you live in a constant state of “well fuck I didn’t see that coming”, so with two, that’s magnified, intensified and sticky-ified  As someone who enjoys having control of situations, loves a plan, and hates being late – this has been a minute by minute struggle for me since my first child was born. I am better today at it than I was yesterday, and each day, I allow myself more grace and more flexibility than the day before. I still like to have a plan, because that helps with my stress level, but I know now that plan is likely to fucking explode and I’ll be left picking the pieces out of my feet with tweezers, but at least I KNOW that’s the likely outcome and I can have the tweezers ready and a cushion of time to do it before we need to leave the house.

Survive by Man-to-Man

With one kid, if he or she blew through their outfit 2 seconds before leaving to take them to daycare, you had another parent ready and able to assist with the swift clean up.  But with two, that other parent is probably wrangling the other kid, so you’re on your own with that blowout.  Have fun. Middle of the night wake-ups coordinated and orchestrated with perfection are another tag-team effort. The noise on the monitor of a random yelp makes your heart stop beating and your stomach drop.  You wait nervously for the continued yelping. Then you look at your partner to figure out how likely it is you can get out of going in. Then you hear another yelp, at a different pitch. The second kid is up. You’re both screwed.  Single parents and parents of more than two kids, you play zone like a pro and I’m in awe of you.

Loud

So. Much. Constant. Noise.  This is why, when at 9:30 at night you realize you are out of milk, you volunteer immediately, RUN to your car, and enjoy complete silence for the first time all day. Even when the noise is joyful, it’s so so loud.  Even the white noise is too loud some nights through the monitor.  Just noise. All the time. (Subsequently, I’m positive when our kids are older and hanging out with friends more and never home, I will feel like it’s too quiet.)

Compromise

You will start buying lunchables to save time.  You will wipe your kids down with wet wipes before bed to avoid the disaster of bath time when you are too damn tired to deal with it x2.  You will allow juuuuust a little bit more tv than your comfortable with so that you can quietly drink your coffee.  Occasionally, you won’t be able to keep your promises, as much and as hard as you try.

Heart Bursting

You will see your youngest watch their older sibling’s every move with such intensity and obsession that in any other realm of society it might be considered dangerous.  But in your realm, it’s the most heart bursting thing you’ve seen since the rat in ratatouille lived out his dreams. (Why does that movie make me cry so much?). You will witness your oldest tend lovingly to your youngest – bringing her a toy or her blanket when she’s fussy.

Forgetful

When you have more than one kid, you have 50% more stuff to forget when leaving the house.  I’m pretty sure leaving the house on the weekends to run errands or go to a play date takes at least 3 separate visits back into the house once we are all loaded up in the car.  I often wonder why we don’t just live in an RV and that way we just travel with everything we own everywhere we go.

Worth It

Every illogical tantrum, every poopy diaper, every sweaty marathon to get out of the house, every “I don’t want sissy looking at me”, every god damned episode of paw patrol, every stray lego, every dust bunny, and every tear is worth it if that means I can witness them become friends – not just siblings but two people who chose to like each other. If it means I can always have someone to cuddle with. If it means I get an unsolicited “I love you mommy” from the 3 year old and an open mouthed slobbery off-center kiss from the 14 month old, it’s so incredibly worth it.

lunchable

 

 

 

 

I get it now…

Ugh. How long has it been since I’ve posted? Perhaps the length of time since my last post is a good indication of how life is going.  Don’t get me wrong, life is great, just really really busy and (still) being a part of #teamnosleep takes a toll.  BUT – I had to share some thoughts about our recent vacation to Lake Michigan aka the most beautiful place on earth aka the big lake aka please just go there.

I won’t talk about all the wonderful memories made, because there were a ton and that’s a little too sappy.  What I will talk about is how damn hard vacations are with little ones, even when you have help. My kids are 3 and 1, so they are at the perfect age of needing their parents for every damn thing.  Weirdly, this doesn’t change just because you’re on vacation.  Most notably, they needed us for at least 2 hours in the evening to fall asleep – which meant we missed the gorgeous sunsets and relaxing porch-sitting with drinks in hand.  I never realized how much I took that time for granted pre-kids.  Post-kids Kate is SCREAMING at pre-kids Kate: “GO ENJOY THE EFFING SUNSET YOU IDIOT YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE IT AGAIN FOR 8 YEARS!”

To be fair, my family helped a ton while we were there, entertaining one kid while we dealt with an angry other kid, but bedtime is the dirty work that mom and dad have to do. I totally understand now why my parents would set out their folding lawn chairs outside of our motel rooms when on road trips after they got us in bed. It all makes sense now. We were crazy dictators who finally quieted down and went to bed – and by god they were going to enjoy their vacation, even if it was for 5 minutes overlooking a cement parking lot.

Really, all I wanted to say was, to parents who are vacationing this summer with little ones: more power to you. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s more work than normal parenthood (what’s even “normal”?).  It’s frustrating and exhausting.  These last two days back to work I have been more tired than I have been in a long time.  My body actually hurts from all of the activity of just parenting for a week straight at the beach.  But, in the end, you might catch 3 minutes of the fleeting sun on the beautiful shore with your perfect adorable children and husband, and it’s all effing worth it.

 

IMG_0599 (1)

24 hours in Kraleyville

Years ago as a non-parent, it was really hard for me to understand why parents’ lives were so busy when their kids weren’t even old enough to have after school activities, homework, a social life, or kneecaps.

Then I had just ONE kid.  And immediately understood.  Then I had ANOTHER kid, and not only did I understand, but I questioned the sanity of every family with more than one kid.

Life with two working parents and two children 2 and under is really busy, but don’t get me wrong, it’s exactly how I want to live my life right now.  I choose to be a working mom, I actually really enjoy my job, and I choose to have children. So this is my reality that I navigate Monday through Friday.  Obviously I’m thankful for the co-parenting support I get from my husband, we are pretty much just doing what we can to keep everyone fed and laundry going.


24 hours in Kraleyville

5:30 am – first alarm goes off.  This is usually a pointless alarm because I’ve just laid back down in bed at 5:15 after getting up with the baby to nurse her at 4:45 so I’m already awake but want to pretend I don’t have to be an adult.  It doesn’t work.

5:45 am – second alarm goes off.  Get the fuck up, Kate.

5:50 am – third alarm goes off.  Baby starts stirring because somehow she hears the alarm through the wall and two shut doors because she was born with* the same sonar systems that bats have. (*not yet confirmed by doctors)

5:51 am – I run to the bathroom and get in the shower in hopes that if she does wake again, I’m occupied and papa has to go.  Forget to condition my hair.  Turn shower back on.

IMG_64576:00 am – get out of shower and hook up the pump while I brush my teeth, dry my hair and put on makeup. Inevitably forget that I’m pumping and bend over to pick something up and spill milk out of the collection bottle. Cry a little bit.  Forget to put on deodorant. Regret it the rest of the day.

6:20 am – finish pumping, go downstairs to pack up baby’s bottles and my pump bag/lunch.  Realize I forgot to put the ice packs back in the freezer last night and wonder when I won’t have to be responsible for remembering to freeze ice packs.  Probably another 15 years at least.

IMG_6464 (1)6:30 am– Papa wakes up toddler and sets him up in our bed with his 6 buddies and Sofia the First on tv.  I get a hug from the toddler. (By far the best part of my day) Gather clothes for baby by searching in whatever clean clothes basket we have lying around.  Locate socks for her.  Sometimes the socks come from a dirty clothes basket. #noshame

6:40 am – wake up baby (if she isn’t up already) and nurse her.  Heart bursts while she smiles and chatters at me after eating.  She farts.

6:50 am– Put baby in pack and play in our bedroom, finish getting dressed and remind my son that we need to potty, brush our teeth and get dressed. “Two minutes” he says. (Mr. Master Negotiator. His only tactic, however, is suggesting “two minutes”)  So we set an alarm.

6:52 am– 70% of the time: Alarm goes off, toddler turns it off, turns off tv, and we march into his room singing “Potty, Brush our teeth, and get dressed. <clap> <clap> Potty, Brush our teeth, and get dressed  <clap> <clap>”.  The other 30%: Toddler has a fit about turning off the tv and we have to barter our life away to get him to get ready, he throws himself on the ground 14 times throughout the process and I leave for work in tears wondering why I ever thought I could be a mom.

6:53 am – smell poopy diaper suspiciously coming from the pack n play.  Tell papa before running away with toddler.IMG_3072

7:05 am – Convince toddler to come downstairs, get his shoes and hat on, and wait for papa to pull his car out of the garage.  Put baby into carseat on the kitchen floor.  Baby sits quietly amused by my dwindling negotiation skills with the toddler.

7:10-7:15 am– “Mama hold my hand please” – walk toddler to the car and give him a “Hug/Kiss” and remind him that he gets a present if his underwear stays clean and dry all day at school.  Kiss baby in the car.  Remind papa what time she ate and any last minute things he needs to tell daycare teachers. (because #momsthinktheyhavetodothis)  Kiss papa goodbye. (And I would not be lying if I said this is usually the first kiss of the day)

7:18 am – gather the rest of my stuff and leave. Contemplate cleaning or putting a load of laundry in while the house is kidless, but then I laugh at my funny joke.

7:19-7:35 am– yell at every car on the road going 10 mph under the speed limit. Question the Department of Motor Vehicles for thinking 80% of the drivers I encounter deserved a license. Starbucks if there’s time.

7:35 am– arrive at work.  Fill up my 64 oz wFullSizeRender (4)ater bottle – heat up oatmeal and get to work.

10:00-10:30 am PUMP/Fill up water again/drink mediocre lactation tea

10:30 am-1:00 pm – WORK (eat somewhere in here at my desk trying not to drop food on my pants.  On special days, head out to run errands kidless)

1:00-1:30 pm – PUMP/Fill up water again/more mediocre tea

1:30-4:00 pm – WORK/try to avoid elevator conversations about weather/try not to fall asleep in 2:00 meeting

1:00-4:30 pm – PUMP/Fill up water again/float awayIMG_6497

4:30-5:00 pm WORK (watch the clock)

5:01 pm – practically run to my car so I can go pick up the kids and get home before 6:00.  Cross my fingers my 4:30-5:00 meeting actually ends at 5:00 so I don’t have to be the asshole that gets up and leaves at 5:08 while everyone else stays.   Feel terrible guilt for not being a #teamplayer.

5:02-5:28 pm – 26 glorious minutes listening to party anthems from college days (“Get Low” Pandora…add it now) with terrible misogynistic lyrics and lots of swears but damn if that beat isn’t everything I need in my life.  Forget for .01176 seconds that I have children somewhere between the window and the wall.

5:29 pm – arrive at daycare and sit in the car giving myself a pep talk for the mayhem that is about to ensue

5:30 pm – pick up the toddler first.  Receive giant running hug and I’m immediately pulled to his cubby by sticky and sometimes wet tiny hands to get his stuff.  Toddler dodges children on the way who want to hug or talk to him.  Locate bag of soiled clothes from potty accidents.  Silently sigh and hope for a better day tomorrow.  Negotiate hat and jacket.  Apologize to every adult who tries to say goodbye to him due to no response from the toddler.

5:35 pm – “Mama we go get my baby?”…pick up baby sister in her room.  Toddler helps IMG_4038carry her carseat over and holds her blanket and pacifier while I load her up.  He avoids answering infant room teacher’s questions. Avoids all eye contact with everyone.  When other babies get too close to sister, “see mama. See? Too close!”

5:43 pm – risk life and limb navigating to the car as far as attempting to hold onto toddler’s hand while carrying baby in carseat and 3 bags in heels.

5:46 pm – finally everyone is loaded up and we can drive home

5:47-5:54 pm – have my most important conversation of the day with the toddler. We talk about his day, who he played with, what he learned, how he helped his friends, and he asks 32 times where papa is and where his house is.  I try to work into the conversation about how important it is to always talk to his mom after school even when he’s in college. 🙂

5:55 pm – Arrive home. begin the process of getting unloaded and into tIMG_1990he house.  Get baby out. Get toddler out. At some point papa comes out to help.  Get 6 bags out of the trunk and into the kitchen.  Ridiculous, right? Purse, pump Bag, my milk cooler bag, toddler’s lunch bag, toddler’s soiled bag, baby’s milk cooler bag and empty bottles (and sometimes a 7th bag if I bring my laptop home)

6:00 – 6:45 pm – TOTAL AND COMPLETE CRAPSHOOT.  Either the toddler is immediately hungry upon getting home and pulls food out of the freezer/fridge or he wants to play. General chaos for 45 minutes ensues.  Keeping him sitting down while eating, making sure he has the appropriate acceptable food on his plate according to his high standards, nurse the baby while trying to eat my dinner, convincing toddler the dance he’s doing is because he has to pee and at some point try to have a conversation with my husband.  Tons of laughter as we play whatever the game of the week is: marching band, soccer, horsey, music show, tools.  Baby watches toddler like a hawk and attempts to be as close as possible to him at all times.  Toddler squawks at baby when she’s too close.

IMG_3352

6:45 pm – tell toddler it’s time to go up to bed. “Two minutes!” – so we set an alarm

6:47-7:30 pm – Papa and I take turns every other night.  Go up to bed for bath, brush teeth, 3 books, songs, hug/kiss, night night.  Toddler runs around for “two minutes”  as his aptly named alter-ego “Elephant Superman” after his bath in his Elephant hooded towel. He makes mama be “Monkey Superman” in the monkey hooded towel.

IMG_6439 (1)7:30 pm – Leave toddler’s room.  Get baby ready for bed – nurse her to sleep while looking at my phone for the first time since 4pm, instead of lovingly staring at her gorgeous eyelashes while they flutter in the shadows. Try to put her down at 8 but she wakes immediately.  Hold her again a little longer. This time I commit to no phone so I can just cuddle.  Put her down by 8:15. Realize I’ve never read more than 3 books to her and she’s 9 months old.  Feel terrible mom guilt about #secondchildproblems.

8:15-8:30 pm – eat dinner if I didn’t scarf it down during after work madness. Eat second dinner if I did.  Finally remember to put pumped milk in fridge.  Find all the bottle parts and pump parts that needs washed and add them to the pile that I hope the husband washes.

8:30-9 pm – PUMP (I have a terrifyingly low freezer supply so I’m trying to make up for that)

9:00-9:30 pm – I should clean something.  Instead, I discuss with my husband if we should watch a Netflix. Select New Girl (of course) and commit to 1 episode that usually ends up to be 2-3.  Realize I haven’t worked out in over a year and a half and probably should do that instead but I just laugh and more than likely search for chocolate.

9:30 pm – BED! Remember to kiss husband goodnight.  Realize I’ve spoken maybe 50 words to him all day.  Feel terrible wife guilt.

9:30 pm- 10:00 pm – Go upstairs and brush my teeth, take out my contacts, and lay in bed scrolling through my phone (yes I know the harm this does and know you aren’t “supposed to” look at your phone before bed but for the love of all that is holy I need this completely stress free time where I can forget I have real responsibilities in life)

10:00 pm –  BED! (for real this time).  Thinking about everything I didn’t get done today and try to brush that aside.

10:15 pm – baby wakes up. Husband goes in. (Now that baby has finally agreed to let papa comfort her back to sleep…which only took 7.5 months…his shift is bedtime to 1am). He’s my hero.

10:30 pm – I finally fall asleep.

1:15 am – baby wakes up hungry. I go in. (I really wish men could lactate). Nurse her back to sleep.IMG_3570

1:40 am – put sleeping baby back in crib and pray my knees don’t crack too loud when I stand up straight and walk away.

1:58 am – finally fall back to sleep myself.

2:45 am – baby stirs. Puts herself back to sleep.  I’m now awake because I expect that it didn’t take and she’s going to be up any minute.

3:15 am – I finally fall back to sleep after going through the next day’s to-do list in my head.

4:45  am – baby wakes up. I go in.  She has pooped which I can tell the moment I open her door from the putrid stench that hits me like a brick wall.  Change the diaper of a tired, hungry, flailing baby in very dim lighting. Contain the poop within wipes and diaper only.  Feel like a super hero.  Nurse her back to sleep.

5:15  am –  lay back down in bed and try to fall asleep before my alarm goes off, contemplating if I’ll have enough time to stop at Starbucks before work.  I will.  Second success of the day.  (First was the clean diaper change).

Then….do all of it, every crazy bit, again.

I truly do have the best job in the world.

 

IMG_6356 (1)

You know you’re a pumping mom when the prospect of using of a new (fancier, quieter and more efficient) breast pump after 2.5 years is enough to get you excited to actually pump.  I don’t know a single mom who truly likes pumping.  It’s annoying.  It’s sometimes uncomfortable.  It takes time out of your work day.  You stress about how much milk you’re getting.  You can’t wear zip back dresses to work anymore.  You tend to live in increments of 3 hours because you’re so used to watching the clock.  You are basically a dairy cow.  Oh and all the parts to wash. So many parts. (I can’t take too much credit for that though, my husband lovingly and with minor complaining washes my pump parts for me.)  But it’s really not all bad.  Since I don’t know anyone who likes pumping, I figured I should try to find something positive about it to maybe help me and other pumping moms see the positive in it.  Below are 6 reasons why pumping is fun.  (Okay maybe not fun).  “Good”.  We’ll go with “good”.   And to all my work from home or stay at home moms who pump – this is more focused on working away from home and pumping just because that’s my experience. So feel free to comment and share with me your reasons why pumping is “good” for you wherever you pump.

  1. You can finally sit down for 20-30 minutes. Sitting down for longer than 5 minutes at a time, as a parent, is a coveted activity.  For working moms who get to sit at your desk anyway most of the day, these 20-30 minutes are even better because they are ALONE minutes.  How amazing is that?  No hiding in the bathroom pretending to take a really long time like you do at home for some peace! (Assuming you aren’t pumping in a bathroom. And if you are, go to your HR department immediately and show them this and demand better.)
  2. You can eat uninterrupted. Eating and pumping goes hand in hand for me. Nutrition in, nutrition out. The uninterrupted part is a bonus; you don’t have someone stopping by your desk prefacing their conversation with “I know you’re on lunch but I have a quick question” and then stand there talking while you stare at your food getting cold.   Oh cool, yep, I love cold chili, please, continue talking to me about your dog’s groomer so we can make sure these beans hit the optimum prime frigid temperature before you finally say after 15 minutes “oh well I’ll let you eat”.
  3. It sparks discussion among co-workers.  I can’t tell you how much information I’ve divulged to curious co-workers, male and female, single, childless or parents themselves.  People have so many questions when you say “Sorry I have to run but I’ll be back in 20 minutes I need to go pump”. Sharing information is a good thing if it helps encourage someone to someday pump or support a loved one who wants to.  I’ve heard the following:
  • Pump what? Some iron? (This one made me giggle. We have a gym in our office, so this was not an entirely weird question)
  • Does your baby come here for that? (No. Although she probably would prefer to supervise me to make sure I’m doing it right. It’s her food, after all.  She surely would like to oversee the preparation.  You could say she micromanages me a bit in all aspects of her care.)
  • How do you transport the milk to your daughter throughout the day? (I have a contract with a local bike messenger.  We insure the milk and he’s fired if he spills a drop.)
  • Can you do it laying down? (NO BUT PLEASE INVENT THIS!!!)
  • How can you get work done while pumping? (Like any human gets any work done while doing something else.  I think the term is multitasking.)
  • Oh wow, you’re STILL pumping? How old is your baby? (Yes. ___months/year(s). <<END OF SENTENCE>>)
  1. You kind of feel like you have a super power.  How crazy that I can stick a plastic contraption on me and food comes out?  Science is neat.
  2. You can cross things off of your forever long to-do list like pay bills or Amazon Prime all the shit you have no time to buy in person.  To be fair, I only do this during my lunch time pump break because I figure I’m on lunch anyway.  For my morning and afternoon pump break, I bring my laptop and do actually do work.  Because I’m ‘leaning in’ or something like that.*
  3. You have an excuse to eat a lot of cookies. If you haven’t heard of lactation cookies, they are delicious AND they help with your milk production.  So there’s no guilt because it’s for a good cause. You can make homemade lactation cookies like one of my incredible mom friends, but since I can’t even fathom making yet another mess in my kitchen that my husband ultimately and begrudgingly cleans up, I amazon prime them of course.

 

*Full disclosure; I have not read this book in its entirety.  I started reading it and closed it without hesitation when I started feeling resentment towards the author for thinking she has it all figured out. (So maybe 20 pages in)  No one has it all figured out.  Well except maybe Ellen DeGeneres.  I think she’s got life figured out pretty well.

Keeping it all together

IMG_5414
Trying to get ready for work after a particularly rough night

I have no idea where the last few months went.  Somewhere between working 55 hour weeks and getting on average 2 hours of sleep a night in between, (thanks little one) I kind of stopped doing anything but trying to keep myself and my children alive.

Things are looking up though!  I haven’t been working as much and while improvements are still needed in the sleep department, at least baby girl isn’t sick anymore and is a little bit easier to get to bed at night.

This brings me to a topic that I have a lot of passion about: keeping it all together.

When I say I have a lot of passion about it, all I really mean is that I really really want to keep it together when I’m running on 40 minutes or an hour of sleep and have an 11 hour day at work in front of me (THIS REALLY HAPPENED. TWICE).  I have dreams where I get up and work out before the kids get up, get ready, curl my hair and put on makeup, then get both kids ready for daycare.  I guess these aren’t really dreams when you only sleep for 40 minutes, but somewhere between the 18 millionth time nursing babe to sleep and the head bobbing while sitting up in a chair (because she won’t even sleep next to you in bed) you have thoughts that aren’t really realistic.  I am going to call those dreams.

In this dream, my kids sleep through the night at 3 months old, my house is clean, and I have clothes ready for the next day that don’t require ironing. This dream includes the entire family sitting down for dinner after work.  This dream includes time to have conversations with my husband that don’t consist of “remember to bring more diapers to daycare” or “did you pay that bill?”  This dream allows me to have more than 45 minutes every week night with my son before it’s his bedtime.  This dream takes place in a house that has every last item organized and in its spot.  Every last dust bunny vacuumed up, and every last streak of soap scum removed from the shower door.  This dream does not require 45 minutes every night prepping for the next day. This dream has my husband and I working flawlessly as a team of parents, never disagreeing or clashing.

I am going to go ahead and recognize that this dream is impossible.  And my reality is probably something that I would have cringed at pre-kids.

FullSizeRender (2)
Refusing clothes moments before leaving for daycare

My reality is that most days I go to work with limp, barely blow dried hair, and nothing more than coconut oil and powder on my face.  I scramble through a laundry basket of clean folded (ok sometimes they aren’t even folded) clothes every morning to find something presentable to wear because I don’t have time to put the clothes away. At work, I struggle to think clearly and take pity on myself for not being as sharp as I used to be.  My reality is, my son eats whatever we can get him to eat as soon as we get home at 6pm, and I scarf down his leftovers or a snack while he eats so that I have energy to put my daughter to bed in an hour without dinner for myself.  My reality is that I forgot to pay the CC bill and we have a late payment fee.  My reality is I sometimes forget to kiss my husband hello when we all get home from work because my mind is so set on the next task.   My reality is, despite how well I think I’m balancing work and family, I occasionally come up short on one end or the other.  I haven’t ironed in 2.5 years.  I just started buying work clothes that don’t require ironing or I throw them in the dryer with a damp towel (like a tumbling sauna!).  My reality is, when I actually have conversations with my husband, I can’t remember them at all.   I wouldn’t be able to make it through some weeks without my mom helping us out.  I can’t tell you the last time I didn’t feel rushed.  My reality is, despite the million things my husband willingly and lovingly does to co-parent, sometimes I find the one thing he didn’t do the way I would want it done and bitch at him about it.  My reality is I don’t get to see my kids some mornings because I have to be at work before they wake up.  My reality is, sometimes I’m distracted at work thinking of all the million things I need to worry about when it comes to my kids.

IMG_5263
When bedtime takes 3 hours, this is the dinner I get

When I step back and look at my reality, I’m not annoyed.  I’m not unhappy.  I don’t regret having a family and being a mom.  In fact, I’m quite the opposite of those things.  I don’t feel like I’m failing at keeping it all together, because my reality is actually my version of keeping it all together.   Everyone in my house somehow manages to laugh every night during those 45 minutes between daycare and bedtime.  Everyone has a full belly (well, that’s questionable the way my toddler eats).  Everyone has a warm place to lay their head at night, even if it’s only for 40 minutes.  Everyone shares their daily struggles and frustrations with each other, and the others do what they can to help that person feel better.

When I look at my life this way, I realize that this is, in fact, keeping it together.  It might be held together with McGuyvered resources often found in houses of small children; diaper cream, sweat, tears and an unknown sticky substance from the toddler’s fingers…but what matters is, it’s together.  And just when it’s on the verge of breaking, it gets reinforced with a burst of laughter, or an unsolicited hug or a developmental milestone finally reached.  And this is all that matters.

To my fellow moms and dads fighting the good fight; your reality is perfect just the way it is.  Don’t for a minute feel like you aren’t keeping it together when, in fact, that’s all you’re doing every day, every minute, every tantrum, every outing outside the house, every chore, every doubt, every rushed meal, every second.