By Brandy Black
I have gotten some flack lately for “throwing my wife under the bus” in my writing. Well, I should be honest, Susan has been hearing it and has reported back to me. She claims that she isn’t bothered but I feel I should set the record straight. I vowed that I would do two things when I began writing. I will always be honest and I will always read my writing to Susan before it is published. It is an unfair advantage that everything comes from my perspective and truthfully I need her perspective in pretty much every aspect of my life, or at least I want it. I also think it is important for my voice to be true to my life and not sugar coated with what I think people want to hear or what might make me or her look good. Let’s face it, relationships are hard, marriages even harder and marriages with kids, nearly impossible at times. It is not easy making the shift from a young doting couple with very little responsibility to parents, homeowners, and heads of household. We actually had a friend tell us last night that we should publicize our troubles more often because people can relate. So yes, I write from MY perspective, it may be selfish, at times could be angry, misunderstood, unloved, unheard, lost, confused but it represents all of my very honest stages of parenting with Susan. I’m sure some can relate and others probably agree with her. That’s the point. We all play very different roles in our relationships.
I have been pretty honest throughout time about going to therapy, the struggles we face, the fact that I miss the days of missing her. We have had moments in our relationship when we didn’t think we could make it, we came close to calling it quits and yet here we are still holding on. In our wedding ceremony, far before it was legal, 10 years ago, we made 80 guests vow that they too would help support our marriage. I crave hearing honesty from other parents. In the first year of parenting I got to a point when I couldn’t live in a bubble and pretend I wasn’t sad and sometimes lonely in my marriage. When I would talk to friends about their challenges I realized it wasn’t just us. Having those honest people in my life have helped me get through the tough times. I want to be that candid voice. So, sometimes I’m honest at my wife’s expense but always with her approval.
But in hearing this criticism I realized that it is far too easy to focus on what she does wrong and not what she does right. It is a life lesson really. How often do I stop and thank her for allowing me to throw a fit about the missing school ID sign only to have her find it in my car. I don’t stop to thank her for taking me out every Wednesday night without fail until midnight , and then turning around and waking up at 4am for work the next day, without complaint because she knows that I need those nights for sanity. She is the calm beneath my tornado.
She is my best friend. She makes me laugh and on some nights I remember why I fell in love as I watch her shuffle from side to side, hands in pockets, head down, kicking rocks. But if I’m being honest and not sugar coating, I hold back, I don’t tell her that I find her incredibly sexy, that she makes me laugh more than anyone, that she is and always will be my best friend. I don’t know why I stop myself, is there too much water under the bridge? Do I feel like I will lose control and become vulnerable again? Having kids, changed me, made me stronger, tougher and the very thing she loved most about me, my need to be taken care of, to lean into her, to be small in her arms, disappeared and I became a Mama Bear! With it she lost her baby, the one that needs her, shows her her value with doting eyes and an open heart. I’m working on allowing my heart to be exposed again, to say exactly what’s on my mind, to never hold back, to see her as my wife and not the other mother of my children. It’s a delicate dance, a 15-year-relationship, one that could end at any second, because let’s be honest, they all can.
By Meika Rouda
I haven’t been writing much this year. A slow spell of overwhelm came over me and I found it hard to muster the energy to write. It felt selfish of me, a purely indulgent act when so many other things needed to get done. First off are the kids, they need, well, everything. Food made, butts wiped, shoe laces tied, booboo’s kissed, nightmares scared off, hugs and kisses and books read constantly. Then there is housework, the laundry, the bills the groceries and the dinner to be made for my husband not to mention the bonding dinner time conversation so we can continue having a loving relationship even though I just want to go to bed and read a book alone. The writing was for me and me just isn’t a priority right now. I don’t mean to sound like a martyr but I realize I am always in a rush, not just on a daily basis to get the kids to school or be at an appointment on time but in a rush to make things happen. I want to finish my book and move on with other projects. I want to see The Next Family Anthology come to fruition and be published. Everything feels like it needs to happen now or else. Or else what? Maybe rushing isn’t what it is about? Right now I need to think about my family, my son’s multiple doctor’s appointments to treat his self control issues, my daughter’s gymnastic classes, my husband’s demanding job and allow myself a stint on the sidelines. I haven’t exercised in ten months and the lines on my face are growing at an alarming rate but still I am grateful that I have this life. That these children who tirelessly need things are my children. I am grateful to have this time to be with my kids even if they drive me crazy sometimes. I know that my time will come, my time will come.
By Melissa Mensavage
For the last few months I’ve felt stretched very thin. No solid focus on any one thing. No completion of a task fully.
I hate unfinished projects or tasks. I mean literally, I’ll wash half of the dishes. Or get one of three loads of laundry done.
Is this motherhood in general? Or is this single motherhood?
Either way, its driving me crazy.
A perfect example is the due date for my writing. It comes every month and its on my mind, but a three year old and an 18 month old suck the life out of me playing referee. Mind you, we are getting better at playing together, but that is only roughly 15% of the time.
I love this task. This lets me take what is on my mind and in my life and put it into words. LOVE IT!! Brandy has been very kind, and I swear I will do my best every month to be on time. I know as a mother she gets it, but as an editor … she has a responsibility to get content published to keep her readership.
They say raising a child takes a village … or whatever the saying is. I’ve been trying to do it all on my own lately because I feel like I rely too much on my village. I don’t want to burn that bridge for when I REALLY need them. So here I am doing all of the doctors appointments with two kids, referee, illnesses, parties, household chores, etc, all on my own. And I guess that is why I am stretched so thin.
Will this burn me out? I am pretty sure of it. When? Don’t know. I do know that I am seeing the signs – I’ve been yelling at the kids quite a bit lately. I hate that I yell. Or I get frustrated with the fact that they don’t know everything. (I mean how stupid is that? They are kids, babies still and they shouldn’t know everything!)
As you can see this post is short this month because I am multi-tasking my passion for writing with my passion-less job. Need to cut it short so I can make sure I still collect a paycheck and have insurance.
Maybe someday in the near future I’ll be able to focus again, or maybe this is the new way of life. I am so unfocused right now I cant even come up with a closure to this jumbled post.
Happy Holidays everyone.
(Where’s the egg nog?)
By Carol Rood
When I decided to become a mother it was no light decision for me. I had always said I didn’t want children, and to be honest, I meant it. I had many men come and go in my life, and never wanted to have children. Then the day finally came and I met a certain man and decided maybe being a mom wasn’t such a bad idea.
A few years later along came my “Joe Cool”. I was so excited, and scared all at the same time. I was also full of hormones and went through a short period of “postpartum blues”. It probably didn’t help matters that I transferred from San Diego to Pensacola Florida when Joe Cool was only 6 weeks old. That was a bit crazy. Trying to schedule a military move, and handle being a new mom was quite a doozy!! Not to mention I had a C-section and had to recover from that as well. But we managed, and life went on.
Then a couple of years later we were handed a surprise baby, “The Genius”. He was so different from Joe Cool. He was wiggly, and wouldn’t lay still, and full of energy. Energizer bunny baby for sure!
We definitely had our hands full. Their father was a stay at home dad and went to college in the evenings. I was in the Navy working a full time job, and taking care of the kids in the evening while hubby went to school. It was a busy time. I thought It was demanding. I thought it was difficult. Joe Cool is currently 16, and The Genus is 14. Looking back on those times when they were little and required so much attention, I now realize that those were the easy times of being a parent.
Now don’t get me wrong, those days had their challenges: Learning to poop and pee in the potty. Learning how to do things for themselves. Letting them “cry it out” at night as I sat outside their bedroom doors listening to them cry and call for me, and crying myself. But even with all of that, those years were wonderful years. My boys adored me. I reigned supreme as “The Mommy”. What I said went, and there was no arguing. Just a little time out could work wonders. I always knew where they were, who they were with and what they were doing. (Yes, I know I am a control freak.)
Now that they are teenagers things are so much more complicated. They have internet access, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter accounts. They have phones (as long as they can pay their phone bill), with internet access. So I learned about Facbook and Instagram and Twitter etc, so I would understand their world. I put programs on the house computer to monitor screen shots and keystrokes, etc, so I could see what they were up too. I set parental controls on their phones so they can’t text during school, or after 10:00 when they should be in bed on school nights. All of it exhausting work.
Then I had to become a detective. Asking, “Who are you going to be with?” “What are you doing?” “Where are you going?” “When will you be home?” “Who is driving?” “Will there be adults present at this event?” “Will there be girls there also?” “Do you like any of them?” “Will there be adults present?” Around and around I go.
Then just to be even more sure I was getting the straight story I put a “Locator” service on our phone account where I can see where they are based on where their phone is. Anyone who has a teenager or young adult knows that they are NEVER very far from their phones!!
I was proud of myself, and thought I was on top of things. Boy, was I wrong. Because THEN I found out about Kik.
Kik is an app they can download onto their phones for free so they can text other people that have the app, and it doesn’t go through the phone account. So they can text all night long, and I would never see anything on the phone bill, and although I can “lock” their phones at a certain hour, I can’t make the data stop at a certain time, so they can still have access to the internet and their apps.
And THEN I found out about Snapchat. Snapchat is an app where they can send pictures, which can be viewed for just a few seconds, and then never viewed again. What a great way to send “taboo” photos that don’t stay in your gallery so your parent can see them if they scroll through your phone. So sexting via Snapchat has become the new rage. GREAT!! And of course as an adult I know that once something is on the internet it is there forever, but try convincing a teenager of that!
Luckily for me I love in a community where I know many of the parents of my kids friends. I have met them at swim meets, or soccer games, or school events. If I don;t know them personally I probably know someone who knows them. I call this group of parents my “mom posse”, and have used the posse many times over the years.
As a matter of fact I utilized it just the other night. Joe Cool was at work and Karol and I decided to go to the movies. Towards the end of the movie Joe Cool called me three times. I guess he forgot that you shouldn’t talk on your cell phone during a movie (note my sarcasm). When the movie was over I called him and asked what he needed. He said, “Hey, M. and A. want to go to the baseball field and watch the meteor shower tonight and they want me to go with them.”
Now even though Joe Cool is usually honest with me, I was like , “Sure, of course three teenaged boys want to go to a dark, empty field and watch a meteor shower…….right……” So I immediately texted both of the other boys’ moms to check if the meteor shower story was “legit”. I received a response form M’s mom that went something like this: “LOL, yes it is legit. I am on my way to pick up Joe Cool now.”
When they pulled up, I went outside and M’s mom and I had a good laugh about the “mom Posse” and how these teens won’t be able to get away with much of the stuff we did. The boys didn’t seem to think it was as amusing as we did. Oh well!!
I will say that it is a different world then when I grew up in the 80′s. There is more available for kids these days to lure them into trouble. Sure the drinking and experimentation is the same, but there seems to be more opportunities for those things to happen now than when I was a teenager.
So being a detective is as important as being a mom, and unfortunately for my boys, I will always be in their business and trying to keep up with what is going on in their lives. I am not their friend, I am their mom. I can be their friend later, when they have graduated college and they are living on their own. For now I need to parent them and keep guiding them in the way they need to go so they CAN get to college, graduate and be out there on their own living their lives!
By Brandy Black
Our daughter is in Kindergarten now. The immense change that has already transpired this year blows my mind, our conversations have evolved in ways I’ve always dreamed of and I’m so proud of the girl she has become. I worry, everyone knows this, about protecting my kids from the evils and misunderstandings of the world. I would do anything to ensure that none of my children feel hurt or pain even though I know this too is one of life’s little gifts.
I do know, however that life will be a bit more complicated for my children because of the parents they have. Even though the country is changing rapidly and laws are slowly embracing LGBT families, we are not safe from bullying and discrimination. My wife and I are lucky to live in a city that is rather accepting of a two mom family and we rarely face outward discrimination but there will always be an opportunity to educate those around us. I correct people daily that make the assumption that I have a husband or my children have a daddy. I don’t mind this, it is understandable that they jump to that conclusion, I often wonder if I inadvertently do the same. But what I am most grateful for is those around us that are thoughtful and understanding of families like mine.
I went to our first parent/teacher conference for grammar school. Our 5-year-old has two teachers. Both teachers referenced me as Mama and Susan as Mom, they had taken the time to get it right, to know that those words have significant meaning. Susan could not be with me (thank god for the voice memo app on my iphone so that I could record it) and my daughter’s teacher seamlessly referenced her in conversation as my wife. I volunteer at school once a week and one day in class the teacher was talking to the children about their parents and she said “Mommies and Daddies or Moms and Mamas” and I actually laughed, which I realize wasn’t the best reaction especially considering how happy it made me but I was genuinely surprised. All of these simple choices in wording can make a family feel like they have made the right choice in schools, friends, colleagues etc. It is the simple use of parent/parents in place of Mommy or Daddy that are inclusive rather than exclusive.
Our school has a dance coming up called the Daughters’ Dance. This is inclusive rather than the exclusive title it had in previous years “Father Daughter Dance.” I was told that a child with heterosexual parents had a best friend that had two moms and she felt that Father Daughter Dance did not fairly represent her BFF’s family, she petitioned to the school to have the name changed. And so they did. From what I understand it wasn’t that they were trying to be exclusive it simply hadn’t occurred to them. These things are simple, and sometimes take a little thought that perhaps not all parents are the same, perhaps there is only one parent in the family. It has been a work in progress but awareness and understanding makes all the difference in the world.
I realize living in a big city like Los Angeles can make life much easier for two moms than raising a family in a rural part of the United States, I know that there are families that struggle to be understood by those around them. I spent quite a bit of time with the Executive Director of Family Equality talking about the laws that need to change, the support that is lacking for the LGBT community and the challenges that we face but I don’t want to forget to celebrate the wins that happen every day. The teachers, friends, doctors, colleagues, and even strangers that make my day by bending down to my daughter and saying “You’re a pretty lucky kid to have two moms.” It’s not that my kids are any luckier than anyone else, it’s that they are just as lucky.
By Lisa Regula-Meyer
I’m a biologist, and as such, I care about the words we use for things. Words, especially names, in biology mean a lot- they can tell us details about who an organism is related to or similar to, or some of that thing’s history (where it was found, who described it), and they can be very descriptive like the newly discovered ligament in the knee. It’s being called the “antero-lateral ligament” because it’s found on the lateral (outside) side of the knee, and is anteriorly placed (or closer to the abdomen than the foot). Names of things can also give an idea of when it was discovered, as trends in names have changed greatly over time, from being more honorific to being more descriptive. Yeah, I kind of like etymology.
While there’s a ton of thought that goes into naming something in biology that we don’t think of going into naming everyday objects like “cat” or “ball,” to a person just learning any language, there can be a lot of thought in figuring out what words like “cat” and “ball” mean. This is even more the case for new learners of any language- young children. Trying to discern how general a term like “cat” or “ball” is, and how large a group it encompasses- deciphering what makes a ball a ball and not a cat- is tough work. My cat is rather large and often curled into a spherical shape- will she bounce like a ball does? This new ball is soft and squishy like the cat- why doesn’t it make sound? From an adult perspective, these questions are ridiculous and sound like something a person on drugs would come up with, but to someone who is figuring out the meanings of words for the first time, they’re valid questions.
And then there are proper nouns, that have a specific thing to which they’re tied, but of course those terms are not marked in some way in verbal communication. Thus, every bearded man wearing flannel becomes “Uncle Mark” until we learn otherwise. Possibly the most difficult are those terms that can be specific or general, like “grandma” or “doctor.” As adults, we know these terms are roles, and act as descriptors for the names with which they’re attached- I am Dr. Regula Meyer, noting both who I am and what I do; “Grandma Sue” tells both the specific person and the very important group of people to whom she belongs, grandmas.
Lately, Kenny’s been figuring this out with me as we talk about common names and species names, and he’s learning that not all “finches” are the same type of “finches” and how to tell them apart. We’ve even stocked up on our bird feeder supplies, in hopes of continuing watching and learning through the winter. Miss E, on the other hand, is learning more simple levels of this discussion, and trying to figure out family configurations. What roles are there in a family, who fills them, and what do you call them? She’s made the mistake a few times of calling either daddy or papa by the term “mama” because they were doing something that the “mamas” of her classmates do- baking, hugging, reading, and whatnot. I’m sympathetic to this plight, while I can laugh at it, remembering all the times that Kenny has (and still does) call me “dad” or Dwight “mama.” It’s rough building all those neural pathways to fix a language in your brain. Even harder is having to make all those connections on your own, without someone who speaks “Babyese” to help explain the nuances.
Speaking seriously, this is why reading and talking to children is so important, so that they can experience words in multiple scenarios and make those connections, generalizations, and specifics more quickly. Taking a more light-hearted approach, it makes for great stories when they’re older, about incorrect or inappropriate use of words as they were still practicing these language skills. And finally, from a more reflective position, thinking about all the work that goes on to try and communicate, even with people closest to you and whom you hold dear, might give us a bit of appreciation for the tough life of a child, how they can expend so much energy and get tired so quickly, and maybe why tantrums happen to frustrated, tired kiddos who have spent all day trying to decide just what exactly “blue” means.
By Parenting Consultant, Ann Brown
As I write this article, we are already encroaching upon 2014. Because I am an old crone compared to you who will be reading this, I can remember, back in the 1960’s, the awe I felt when I imagined what the new millennium would be like. The idea of the year 2014 was mind-blowing to me. It still is.
The world your children will grow to inherit is already so much different than the world I inherited. My world had the first color TV, a man on the moon, polio vaccine on a sugar cube, the Pill. My childhood was filled with wonder, not only at the marvels of the time but also at the natural, almost magical happenings around me. I was five years old when my childhood cat had kittens. My sister and I sat on the kitchen floor while Gigi delivered nine gooey, red and white striped babies (Moses, Hebsibiah-Tzipora*, Pegasus, Penny, Fluffy, Sarah, Rebecca, Piñata and Pierre) onto my favorite Lanz nightgown with which we’d lined a cardboard box from the grocery store garbage bin.
Karen and I watched silently as Gigi did what ancestral knowledge guided her to do. She hadn’t read What To Expect When You’re Expecting Kittens, or gone to Lamaze class or sat in a crowded primary school auditorium with the rest of the fourth grade girls in her class to watch the 8mm movie about menstruation; the movie from which I gathered that when you are around twelve years old you get your period and continue to get it every day until you are fifty or so..
Witnessing the miracle of Gigi’s delivery and the birth of the nine kittens incorrectly answered as many questions in my young mind as it created new ones, and my sister and I spent years afterwards jumping to some alarmingly wrong conclusions about how species procreate, including, but not limited to, my sister’s insistence that babies are made in the shower (my sister recently explained to me that she was pretty sure people were naked when they made babies and the only place she could fathom anyone would be naked would be in the shower) and the belief that if a cat and a dog made babies, half of them would be kittens and half would be puppies. Our homegrown information about the miracle of life also reached, tragically, to the miracle of death where in the process of our extensive research, I am sorry to confess, many innocent pet turtles with painted shells, purchased regularly on Los Angeles’ famous downtown Olvera Street, gave their lives in such heroic ways as being lost behind the living room couch and being abandoned in the blazing LA sun when we grew tired of turtle races in the tall grass of our front lawn, only to be discovered days or weeks later by my mom and flushed down the toilet. I fully expect to see those turtles, their backs brightly painted with the colors of the Mexican flag, waiting for me at the Pearly Gates with a major chip on their shoulders. And well I deserve their wrath. Although I might point out, just fyi, that the paint those poor turtles were covered in was probably toxic and they weren’t destined to live a long, healthy life, anyway. Not that I am trying to worm my way out of my own accountability.
My world still has sources of wonder that are beyond my understanding: installing apps into my i-phone, using the hashtag correctly; things that have turned me into an embarrassment, a dolt, a technodinosaur; someone who, say, would have tried to play a vinyl record on her Polaroid One-Step camera. I kinda like that. I like knowing that every day, if I wanted to, I could find something unbelievable in this ever-changing world.
I’m not so sure that your kids will be as mystified by life as I was and am. Your children live in a world of instant information, of explanation, of empirical evidence. Parents today need to work hard to protect the gift of wonderment for our children. The world is so scientific, so informative, and so little is left to the imagination. Children are expected to learn the way adults do, and adults are expected to learn like machines. There is a dearth of acceptable opportunities for learning by experience or apprenticeship or just plain passage of time. Learning by experience leaves room for misinformation, to be sure but it also makes room for imagination, hypotheses, confidence, perseverance and acceptance of occasional failure. It also makes room for something even more important – the space to not know something until the time is right to know it.
What leaves with wonder is a sense of possibility that lives outside our realm of control – a sense that we might be surprised by life! There’s not much today about which your young children cannot access information. Computers tell them that teeth fall out because of physiological readiness, TV commercials tell them that Christmas toys are made at the Mattel or Nintendo factory, not in Santa’s workshop. Our kids are woefully sophisticated these days about the ways of their world.
I think that’s a shame.
Granted, maybe I am woefully uninformed about certain things – I still say “i-pad” when I mean “i-pod”, and vice versa– but I believe that if we crowd our young children’s minds with facts and information, it will be at the expense of leaving no room for magic and wonderment.
When my children were little I used to cut their apples in half in a way that the seeds made a star shape in the center. Now, certainly there is a botanical answer to why that is so (or so I presume) but my kids thrilled to believe it was magic their mom could summon by saying, “apple, apple from the tree, make a star that we can see!” before she cut into it. I imagine that my cerebral, brainiac boys figured out the scientific reason for the seed placement long before I did (uh, I still haven’t….) but they still enjoyed the flourish and pomp with which I cut their apples. In fact, even though they are both grown up, out of college and out of law school, I cut apples that way every once in a while, just to remember the old days. When I knew more than they did. A long, long time ago.
Children have a way of figuring things out. True, they are usually wrong. But they need the opportunity to be wrong and later discover a new answer. They have a lifetime to learn what they need to learn. The Information Age offers us a tempting buffet of learning everything now, quickly, all at once. It takes willpower to hold back, to give our kids factual information and experiences slowly, in appropriate moderation. It is hard because today there is a sense, in our culture, that we can know, and thereby control “it all.” That we can “fix” life. Yet…there is so much in life that you can’t muscle your way through – tragedy and joy alike. Our culture steps a bit roughly on the hope of the unexpected. In grooming our kids for success from infancy, we squash the “Gee, I wonder where life might take me?” that earlier generations had. At age 6, my son hated for people to ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up. He shed tears of frustration over kindergarten career day. He felt like they were asking for too much of a commitment. And I don’t blame him. I think it shows great wisdom – not wanting to open that present yet. Why ruin the adventure?
The tradition of misinformation being passed from sibling to sibling was continued when I had kids. One day, I overheard my then-four year old son telling his nine-year old brother about menopause.
“It happens to all of them and it takes a really long time,” my four year old explained.
“How long?” my nine-year old asked him.
There was an awed silence. Then the nine year old spoke. “Explain it to me again,” he said, “because it really doesn’t make sense.”
The four year old sighed with an exasperation I’ve recently recognized when he’s had to explain to me for the gajillionth time how the Electoral College works and why we have the Iowa caucuses.
“Okay,” he said evenly, “it’s called menopause. And she stays in the cocoon for a whole, long winter and that’s where it happens.”
I was rooted to my hiding place behind the door. This was something even I didn’t understand about menopause. Guess my big sister didn’t tell me everything, after all.
“In a cocoon?” asked the older one, “are you sure?” He was beginning to sound alarmed. Frankly, so was I. I had to break in.
“What are you talking about?” I asked them. My younger son eagerly shared his knowledge with me.
“Menopause,” he said, “you know, how the caterpillar goes into the cocoon and comes out a butterfly.”
I was slightly hindered by a weak high school background in science and a college degree in Ethnomusicology but even so, I felt capable of asserting my educated opinion.
“Do you mean ‘metamorphosis?’” I asked him.
He considered my question for a moment. “Oh yeah”, he said brightly.
Albert Einstein said, “there are two ways of looking at the world: that everything is a miracle, and that nothing is a miracle.” I choose to keep some wonderment, some miracles in my life.
Especially when it comes to installing apps on my i-phone.
Ann Brown has a private practice in parenting consultation
At the end of this month I will have what I hope to be my final appointment with my doctor for my post-partum depression diagnosis I had received after I gave birth to my youngest son, Theo. Eighteen months of periodic check-ups with my primary care physician, bi-weekly therapy appointments and countless mornings where I forced myself out of bed.
I had no clue I would ever suffer from such severe depression. I had mentioned previously that I had situational depression episodes throughout my life but nothing a night out with friends drinking my sorrows away didn’t cure. Or a few weeks time of eating and watching sappy romantic comedies. Though neither of those solutions would have worked in this case.
My world was black. My thoughts were fuzzy. I couldn’t comprehend too much. I was in care-taker mode of an infant and a two year old. I didn’t sleep. I cried. A lot. And then I cried some more. I hated myself. I hated my kids (oh do I have guilt for that). I hated the world. I hated that I wasn’t married.
My mother and I fought constantly. She was trying to help me, and I was being a perfect bitch. She comes from an era where you either just deal or you brush it under the rug. She didn’t get it why I was so crazy. So when I showed up at her house, sobbing, to drop off Max so I could go to the doctors, I think she might have gotten it then. I know she was concerned.
And during this whole time – this first 4 weeks of Theo’s life, all I said to myself was, ‘What have I done?’. What had I done to my family dynamic? What had I done to bring this kid into the world – who is not perfect in my eyes (yes, of course he was he just wasn’t what I knew – Max.).
About a year prior to this I sat in my fertility doctor’s office saying to him with confidence I wanted to try for another baby. He smiled and said, ‘fantastic!’. I smiled knowing in my heart this is what was right for me and my life. I got pregnant after the first try. I was shocked, I had expected it to take a bit longer. I was then excited and felt SO blessed beyond means. Little did I know about the change that would occur when I brought Theo home from the hospital. When people ask how it went, or how it was going, I was honest. It was hard. It was a huge change for all of us.
Yet, we made it. We made it through the tough parts. I started taking an anti-depressant after my initial appointment. I started feeling better about three days after that. Therapy helped. Getting some sleep made it even better. I started to research this diagnosis on the internet. (A big fat no-no.) Women die from this. For some reason they couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I pray for them. I pray for their children. I am thankful everyday that those types of thoughts NEVER crossed my mind.
Its been a rough October for us. We were plagued with illness after illness. The boys are finally healthy. Though I had a pretty bad case of bronchitis, and now an ear infection, I feel great. I feel happy. I am SO thankful for my two beautiful boys. Life is good.
I never could comprehend why people would take their own lives. I never understood why they didn’t think they were worthy of living. After the black period I experienced, I now get it. It breaks my heart to know that people don’t feel worthy. I wish a hug would help. And maybe it does in some situations. So to anyone who might be feeling this type of pain or know of any one, you are worthy. You belong here.
By Rosy Barren
By Brandy Black
I am maniacal about my children’s sleep routine. When I got pregnant I knew nothing of what I was doing, feeling totally overwhelmed, I began to read lots of books and what I learned was that sleep is very important for children, for anyone really. But kids learn and grow in their sleep and this stuck with me. There are many different ways to parent, and lots of alternatives for sleep training or lack there of but I followed some very simple rules with my little ones and lucky for me all three of my kids sleep from 7PM to 7AM and most importantly they find sleep on their own. With my first child the schedule was probably not as important as it is now with 22-month-old twins. With two sharing the same room, a routine is a must for mommy survival.
I followed E.A.S.Y from a book called The Baby Whisperer, a book that I will forever keep a copy of for my children’s children. Eat, activity, sleep, you time, this is the basic structure I followed with babies. The rule is not to feed them to sleep because they then become reliant on another person or thing (bottle) to help them sleep, the concept is for babies to find their own sleep so that they will never have to struggle with bedtime. I have enough trouble getting myself down at night and sometimes need to be coaxed away from my thoughts by a mindless television show. I wanted to do them a favor and allow them to fall asleep like my wife does. I swear, the minute her head hits the pillow, no matter the time, she is out. Lucky girl.
The trick is to start a routine, one that tells the child’s brain, it’s bedtime, get ready for it. So we always begin, even at 2-days-old with pajamas and sometimes a bath, after this we read a couple books and then a song. When I begin to sing, they start yawning, their little bodies melt into me as I rock them. One song, then, put them down in their cribs and say goodnight. We never stray, same thing every night no matter who is watching them. We once had a sitter tell us that the minute she put on the bedtime song, it was Pavlovian, our daughter’s eyes began to close and she made her way to the bed. It works but you have to maintain consistency. This is easy for me, I’m a rules girl, I have methods and practices and discipline. My wife on the other hand changes things up daily and routine is not in her nature. She fought it but ultimately realized that kids like to know what’s coming, they like to feel in control and the more you can set them up for success the more secure they are.