Sunday, March 28, 2010

I Am A Girl Like You

For whatever reason, when my oldest was young, I had sworn against everything that was Barbie. Movies, dolls, clothes, sleeping bags, hair accessories. Everything. Why? I have absolutely no idea. I had Barbies. In fact, I've given my kids my Barbie dolls. Go figure.

When Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses came out, I really didn't see the point in keeping her from the toys, books, games, movies, etc. There really wasn't anything wrong with them. And the movies are actually super cute. *cough* Yes, I said it. The Barbie movies are cute.

The songs are sweet and uplifting and the stories are actually fun to watch. They're some of the only cartoon movies that I can watch with my kids over and over again.

Yeah, I get that Barbie doesn't look like a normal human being. She's a doll. Dolls aren't always supposed to look human. They're just toys. Well, in some cases they're apparently movie stars too, but that's beside the point. Who cares if Barbie's proportions aren't that of a normal person. Does the stupid doll REALLY promote a negative body image in little girls? Or is it just parents buying in to the "Barbie promotes a negative body image" blah. I used that as my excuse when I wouldn't let Alanna play with the dolls.

Funny thing was though, I didn't even believe it.

Now both my kids pretty much own every single Barbie movie you can think of. Both of them have an ARMY of dolls. Because they're fun to play with. What little girl doesn't wish that she could be a ballerina princess. What little girl doesn't fantasize about being a faerie or a mermaid at some point in her life. I mean honestly, there's nothing wrong with the movies.

I'm not ashamed to admit, I know the words to almost every song in every movie that we own... some even better than my kids. :-P And I sing them even when the girls aren't singing with me.

(ok so this isn't a video from the movie, but the song is from Barbie in The Princess and the Pauper, I love it!)

The movies are adorable. The songs are uplifting. If you ask me (and I know you haven't, but I'm going to tell you anyway) I think they're the types of movies that make girls feel GOOD about who they are. Not the opposite.

When my kids watch these movies, they believe that they can be anything. Even if right now anything means faerie princesses and surfer girls that turn in to mermaids.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sometimes You Know You've Done It Right

Kids surprise you.

Things that bother you don't bother them. Things that would make you do a double take they don't even glance twice at. Things that make everyone else self conscious.... they don't care who's watching.

Sometimes they just know what the right thing to do is.
Sometimes they just have a heart that's way too big for their tiny little bodies.

Your kid/s will one day do something that makes you so proud you feel like your heart is going to break because of it. It may sooner for you than it does for someone else. It may take YEARS. But mark my words. One day your child is going to say or do something and you're going to think to yourself "That can't possibly be my child, when did they get to be so amazing?"

Back in December of 2006 I worked in the nursery at the YMCA. It was a good job because I could bring Alanna with me. Well, one evening there was about an hour left to go in my shift when a little girl was brought in in a wheelchair. Now I say little because according to her mother, while she may have had the body of a 15 year old, she had the mentality of an 18 month old. She couldn't talk, couldn't cough, couldn't even swallow on her own.

Mom asked us to maybe throw a cartoon musical on for her. And to wipe her mouth. Due to the fact that she couldn't swallow, she drooled a lot. No problem. I was on top of it. Half an hour later, mom came in to check on her little girl. My Alanna, who was only 3 years old at the time, walked over to the other sided of the room with her. She climbed up on the footpegs of the girl's wheel chair and said hello. The girl grabbed a fistful of Alanna's hair.

Under any other circumstances, Alanna would have yelled and screamed and tried to runaway and probably would have lost a handful of hair. Not that night. No. That night she stood there. And she waited for the girls mom to carefully remove every strand of hair and free her. Without even a word.

Before the girl's mom had walked out of the room again, Alanna had picked up the washcloth and started to wipe the girl's mouth for her. She did that for the next 20 minutes. My 3 year old little girl. She was wiping someone's mouth because they couldn't do it on their own. The lady that worked at the front desk who had been standing at the doorway conversing with the nursery staff had to leave because she started crying. And one of the girls that I worked with came up to me and said "It makes you want to cry doesn't it?"

She was a tad too late.

I already was. She had to remove herself to another section of the nursery because she told me if she stood next to me she'd start too.

Alanna saw me crying. My precious little girl. She grabbed her sleeve with her hand and said "Come here mommy, I have to wipe your eyes."

That was my moment. My "She can't possibly be my child." It just astonishes me. Things that make adults uncomfortable, children don't care about. They see someone who needs help and they help them. Regardless of what they need help with. They might ask questions, but the answer doesn't stop them from doing what they think is right. Children are astonishing and amazing. And sometimes they make you so proud you don't know what to do with yourself.

Believe me. You'll have that moment.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Staples and Stitches

I had 2 c-sections. One was an emergency c-section, with my oldest daughter. The other I felt was forced. I do realize though that it was my fault for not being able to stand up for myself and thinking that doctors always know best. I didn't want the second one. Honestly, I was terrified of the epidural more than being sliced open.
Go figure. I've got 8 tattoos, and the thought of an epidural that TAKES AWAY PAIN scared me. I've had rubber pucks shot 90 miles an hour at my face (granted, I had a helmet on, but still... something hitting you that hard makes your head ring for a minute or 2). I've fallen off of horses and right on to my head. I've taken a softball to the mouth that I'm surprised didn't take out my front teeth. And I'm scared of an epidural.
Anyways, I digress.
Just a few pointers for those of you who maybe have been told you're having a c-section, or you've elected to have one, or even those of you who want a vaginal birth...
Just like with a vaginal birth.... you will bleed. It will look like you've been stuck and hung upside down like a pig. But don't worry about it. I know it's tempting to be self conscious and to worry about what everyone thinks. Don't. It doesn't matter. Worrying won't stop the bleeding. Won't change the fact that the pads they put in those funky mesh underwear feel like diapers. It probably won't change the fact that someone you don't know is going to have to help you walk to the bathroom and will more than likely see you naked in the shower when you're finally able to take one. Believe me, people understand.
Even when the pain meds have kicked in and you're feeling good.... take it easy. Yes you need to get out of bed when you can and walk around... but don't over do it. No need to run marathons. A day or two after I had Lydia, I swore I couldn't feel a thing. I was going down the hallway to take a class on one thing or another (I honestly can't remember what it was about, fat lot of good it did me eh?) and I was feeling oddly.... normal. And from what I was seeing, I looked like the only one who did. I wasn't taking my time walking around. I was up and down like I hadn't just had a body pulled out of my abdomen.
Let. Me. Tell. You.
When the pain meds had worn off a bit... I was one sorry you-know-what. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. And then that bus had shifted in to reverse and then backed over top of me. And then threw it back in to drive and rolled over me again before driving off. And THEN a car that wasn't paying attention had slammed in to me from behind and I flew in to the back of the bus.
Yes. It was that bad.
So take it easy.
And the squirty bottles they give you to use when you go to the bathroom? They are your friend. Take it with you when you go home. Along with the little pillows they have you put over your stomach for when you cough.
Don't let your pride take over. I hated not being able to sit up on my own. And having to have people help me stand up. But again, let me tell you. It's better to have people help you than to hurt yourself. If you have to, if you absolutely DO NOT WANT anyone to help you out of bed, do what I did when no one was in the room. Use the bed controls to help you sit up enough so that you don't have to use your stomach muscles to get yourself up right. Use the bedrails to situate yourself. Turn slowly. Don't move too fast.
With Alanna.... my "help" was passed out on the sofa and wasn't responding to her crying, pillows being chucked at his head, threats of violence. So I figured if he wouldn't help, I'd do it myself. Forget the deskful of nurses outside my door. So I pulled myself up. Went over and got Alanna. Sat back down. Turned. So far so good. I went to go lean back on my bed, which I had NOT put all the way into the upright position. I stuck my elbow out behind me to help me kind of guide myself back into the semi sitting up position.... and I missed. I fell backwards and slammed into the bed (as hard as you can slam in to a bed). It felt like someone had ripped my stomach apart. And I didn't have the bonus of the epidural on board.
Moral of the story... don't be stupid. I know it sounds harsh and normally I would apologize for that, but not here. Pride cometh before a fall and I just cannot stress how much you have to put that behind you. Well, at least pride in the sense where you're all "I can do it myself. I don't need help. I'm fine without anyone. I've got everything under control. Leave me alone." Be safe. Don't cause yourself anymore unnecessary pain. I promise you, while it may be uncomfortable in that moment, you won't regret it later on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not Everything's A Work Of Art

I read a countless amount of blogs and journals of women who craft and scrapbook etc. It's great. It really is. I wish I had to creativity to turn burlap sacks in to cute table runners, and create banners out of tissue paper. Sometimes I wish I was the mom who had plastic bins full of decorations for every season and occasion one can think of. Actually... for a long time that was what I wished. Not just sometimes.

I wished that I could decorate my house in greens and blues and yellows for spring. Jewel tones with cute little knick knacks for fall. And I wished that during Christmas time it looked like my tree threw up all over the rest of the abode as well.

Decorating. Being crafty. Being creative. It was exciting to me.

I have since learned that my aptitude in decorating, save putting pictures of my kids on the wall and painting the every-once-in-a-while mural of cartoon characters for someone, is nil. I can't sew. Not much. I did manage to create a rather nifty scarf once for someone that was then used to pull my daughters sled up a hill and then stuffed in a closet. So that nixed THAT idea. I like to scrapbook, but I've lost the time I used to have to do it (and on number 2 it actually started looking like I knew what I was doing!). I can't build things that don't already come with directions. I don't antique things. I don't decoupage things. I don't create pretty flower arrangements.

It's not me. So I'll say what I said about being mature. Being an adult doesn't mean you have to be. Likewise, being a mom doesn't mean that you have to be crafty. I thought there was like some... sparkley mom gene missing from my DNA. But of course, there isn't. I'm just not wired to decorate.

It's ok if you're not either. I know being a mom (at least I thought this way, you may not) you might think that you have to fit in to some homemaker mold. Or some super working mom mode. And you don't. If you can't paint flowers on the wall without a stencil taped up first, it's fine. If the only thing you can draw are cartoon characters, and only when you're looking at them, it's fine. If the extent of your antiqueing is actually buying from an antique store... IT'S FINE.

There isn't a rule that states you have to be a certain way. Would I like to be more creative like all of the women in the blogs that I read. ABSOLUTELY. But if I'm not? It doesn't matter. My kids decorate my walls just fine with crayons, I don't need to worry about painting them certain colors. Or finding the perfect pring to frame and hang. I give mad kudos to the women who can keep an eye on their kids AND make their houses look immaculate and like they've shot off the page in a magazine. My kids wouldn't sit long enough to color the entire page in a coloring book, so I don't know how you do it. Maybe when they're older my creative gene will come out of hiding and show itself. But for now it seems to be scared.

And that's ok.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Being A Mom

Ever had a toddler climb up on a chair. Or on a coffee table. And then tell you they're going to jump? You sit there and sternly tell them "Oh no you're not. Get down. NO. DO NOT JUMP OFF THE COFFEE TABLE. STOP!!!" And they've not paid attention to one word you've said. They look at you and laugh and then take flight. Yep.
You know why?
They have no fear.
You know why?
Because they know that you are going to catch them. They know that you won't let them do a swan dive off the kitchen table onto the floor. Because you're mom. You won't let them fall. At least not for a long time.
The first few months after they've learned to walk, you chase after them trying to keep their cute little faces from getting knicked and scratched as they tumble to the floor. If they don't have to hit the ground, then by golly they won't! Because whatever it takes to stop them, you'll do it.
Sometimes being a mom doesn't mean that they won't fall. But that they know you will be there to help them back up when they do.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on who you are) you can't walk in your child's shadow forever. Waiting to catch them if they trip. Or grab the back of their jacket to stop them from smacking the pavement. Sometimes they have to fall. You know they're going to. And I know it breaks your heart to see them in pain. But 99% of the time? They're ok. They just want to know that you're there. And that you'll make it better.
Sometimes being a mom means that when they do fall... you laugh. Not to be mean... but to show them that it wasn't as bad a tumble as they thought it was. If you don't "OH MY GOSH ARE YOU OK WHERE ARE YOU HURT IS SOMETHING BROKEN?!?!?!?" then they won't really even care. They'll see you laughing. And they laugh. Throw in an "oopsie" or a "BONK" and they might even repeat after you. Or start saying it on their own. They have to know that not every fall is going to break them.
And they look to you to let them know what kind of fall they've had. Being a mom means catching them when the fall could do some serious damage, helping them up if they've been bumped and bruised, and letting them know that it's not that bad... they'll be ok, heck they might even laugh at it later. And yes, I'm not JUST talking about clumsy toddlers. :-) Good job.

Everyone has the same kinds of falls. Some of them just don't include eating pavement.

Like... Oh My Gosh. No Way!

It's ok to be immature when you're a mom.

Sure there are situations that require you to step up and be the adult that's denoted by your age. But you don't have to be that way all the time. I've been on both sides of the "you're kidding me" fence with that one. Like really? You want me to play WHAT with my kids? I have to behave like WHAT kind of animal? Why? And then... on the other side... I like Barbie movies. Especially the musicals. Haha. So you catch me singing the songs more than my kids. I can do the Wiggles "Hot Potato" dance with the best of them. And my girls and my neices LOVE it when I jump on the trampoline with them because it bounces them WAAAAAY up in the air.

It's ok to not be the mom that sits back on the porch sipping a wine cooler in the shade while your kid plays in the yard. There is no rule that says when you become a mother you give up the right to be immature. Thank God for that. Because I love shamelessly beating my 7 year old at Candyland as often as I can. Course there's the flip side that she always kicks my butt doing the Wii Fit obstacle course. But I'm getting better. I swear.

Is there anything WRONG with being a mature adult who doesn't like to get their hands dirty runnin around after kiddos? No. Not at all. But there's also nothing wrong with chasing kids with caterpillars either. :-P

Remember You

Ever been on a plane?

I am not a seasoned traveller, only flown a handful of times. BUT, I have flown enough to remember the finer points of the safety instructions at the beginning of each flight before take off.

If cabin pressure drops or whatever (ok, so maybe I didn't pay THAT much attention) those oxygen masks drop down for you to slip over your head and put over your mouth. Anyways... instructions are that even if you have small children, you are to put your mask on before you help anyone else with theirs.

Seems kind of selfish right? In a panic, looking at your poor kiddo your motherly instinct kicks in and tells you to save them first right? That making sure they're ok is more important than YOU being able to breathe properly. Isn't it? Ok.... peep this. Say you do go for their mask first. And you can't breathe yourself. So while fumbling around to assist your little tkye, you pass out due to a lack of oxygen. And then your little person is still left without a mask. What good did you do.

How are you supposed to take care of anyone else if you can't take care of YOU.

Yes... my kids are important to me. I would give my life for either one of them in a heartbeat if I needed to. But I had to remember that I was still human too. As much as I like to think I'm super mom... I'm not. I'm "slightly above average" (thank you Sportacus) mom. My kids are not my identity. They are not what makes me me. If I immersed myself in my kids so much that I neglected myself, I would go crazy.

Remember you. Yes it's great to be a wife and a mom. But remember... before you were either of those you were YOU. And you still are, just with a few other titles attached. So don't forget what you liked to do. Don't forget stupid songs you liked to sing when you were bored. Or your favorite book. Or even some stupid soap opera that you just HAVE to watch. Whatever helps you remember that you are still your own person.

That one took me a little longer to remember. And I'll tell you how I did. I was working one day and my supervisor walked up to me and said "How are you at carving pumpkins?" To which I replied (thinking he meant regular jackolantern type carving) "I'm decent". Oops. He handed me a picture of the vice president of TMobile (where I work) and said "Good, I need you to carve this face on to this (incredibly massive) pumpkin." Which he then proceded to kathump right down on my desk. "Um.... ok."

How the heck was I going to carve a person's face into a pumpkin... and make it look like him?!? I was panicing (panicking?). But then I had a V-8 moment. You know the one right? Where someone comes up to you and smacks ya in the forehead? Yeah, that one.

In college, I took relief printmaking. Carving pictures into things that weren't supposed to have pictures carved into them is what I DID. And I was GOOD at it. I just had to remember I knew what I was doing. And I did it. And let me tell you..... it was fricking hilarious. It was a hit. That big stupid pumpkin that was plopped down in front of me helped me remember a part of me that I had forgotten existed. I was an ARTIST. Not just a photographer, but an ARTIST. How is carving faces into pumpkins art you might ask? It just is. :-)

Hold on to what makes you happy. Remember to take care of YOU too. Because if you're going crazy, or you're too tired to function, how are you going to take care of anything else? I remembered... I love to read. I love to take pictures. And holy cow... I remembered I like to do WAY more than that. And it makes me happy. It lets me remember that I'm still a person. Yes I am a wife and a mother. But I'm also me. I'm Tara. And it's ok for me to remember that every once in a while.

Do You Smell Something?

One thing I learned pretty quickly being a new mom at 19.... babies don't care if you need to shower. They sit in their own dirty diapers so if you smell, it doesn't phase them. And they seem to have the keen sense to know, even when they are completely and totally fast asleep, that you have JUST stepped in to the shower and under the water because that's when they wake up and they cry.

They aren't content to lay there and babble to themselves while you finish washing your hair, they want to be picked up and they want to be picked up NOW. Crap. Right?

I figured out the hard way that if I waited until they went to sleep, and I thought they were down for the count, before I went to take a shower... I'd never get clean. So what did I do? Put them in a bouncy seat. Bring them in the bathroom with you. Set them on the floor in it a foot or 2 away from the tub. Should they be able to stay in bed so you have some you time? Yes. After a while. But realistically... what's more important to you? Showering alone, wondering whether or not the baby is going to wake up and need you? Or just showering.

Really. Baby is in the bouncy. Or maybe a Johnny Jump Up in the door way (it's your house right? who says you have to have the door closed). And you're in the shower. Baby can see you. Heck, play peek a boo with the shower curtain. Wash your hair. Scrub down. And you're all set. You got clean, and baby didn't have to exercise their 6th sense and drag you out of the shower when you'd barely gotten your toes wet. Everyone is happy. Or at the very least... taken care of. :-)

You don't have to try and work around them.... work with them. Takes a lot less time.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Mother Is Never Just A Mother

I can't tell you how many other blogs and journals I have floating around on the internet. But I figured I'd create one that actually might be of some use to someone. Even if just a little bit. I am by no means an expert at being a mother. Believe me when I say there are many many more women who are much more capable than I who've had years more experience than I have. But I do know that I can at least offer advice. Or a shoulder. Or just silly stories that can entertain you for at least a few minutes during your busy day.

I'm 26 years old and I've been a mom since I was 19 years old. Yes, that is only 7 years. But in that 7 years I've had 2 children. I am very aware that there are many other women who have had more children in the same time frame... but 2 was enough for me. Heck, sometimes 2 feels like 2 too many, but I love my girls with every single fiber of my being. They are my world. Anyone who knows me knows that.

In the last 7 years I have learned that a mother is never just a mother. A mother is a physician. A burp rag. Sometimes, unfortunately, a toilet. LoL. A comedian. A chauffer. A bank. A ghostbuster. An artist. A librarian. A teacher. A student. A hair dresser. A makeup artist. A dictionary. A jungle gym... there are so many things a mother is to her child.

I don't know exactly how much I have to contribute to the world as far as knowledge goes. Because every parent learns these things along the way. I only hope to eliminate unnecessary suffering by sharing everything I have learned.