Don’t Forget Your Baby

#istandwithmombrain
So a mom in Arizona left her baby in a shopping cart recently and now the whole world is falling apart (sarcasm). I can’t lie, upon reading the headlines, my initial reaction was super-judgy… Like, “what braindead mom could forget their newborn?”… Then I realized that while I’ve never forgotten my baby before (and hope to never experience something so tragic), I’ve had more braindead mom moments than I’d like to admit, but feel so compelled to discuss.
I’m not going to necessarily jump on the #istandwithcherish bandwagon, but I am going to totally sympathize with the terror and embarrassment that comes along with having mom-brain. Mom-brain is real, it is not a joke, and I fully understand it now.
Somewhere in my early 2nd trimester, my once multitasking, intelligent, highly capable brain began turning to mush. I’d leave my car running in the parking lot at work, leave my wallet at home while running errands and completely forget whole conversations that I’d have with coworkers, family or friends. 
My husband thought it was funny- how I went from being such a type-a, control-freak multitasker, never living in the moment because I was always planning the next – to forgetting what I had eaten for breakfast and eating the same thing for lunch. 

Pregnant mom-brain is like pregnancy weight gain. You know you can’t help it, but you’re sure hoping it’ll go away eventually. Everything is cuter when you have the pregnancy get-out-of-jail-free card. 
My baby was born in January, I fell more in love than I could have ever imagined, and naturally all my brain could focus on was her. For the first few weeks I didn’t know which end was up, what day it was, whether or not I had showered/eaten/paid bills. And then I realized, mom-brain was here to stay.
In my last 7 months as a mom, I’ve continued to let my mushy brain make me responsible for so many ridiculous things. Things I would have been so judgy of before… driving off with my coffee on top of my car, forgetting my groceries at the store and having to return hours later to pick them up, completely missing lunch dates with friends, and most recently, locking my keys in the trunk after grocery shopping.
None of these things are as epically life-altering as forgetting your baby in a shopping cart, or worse, forgetting your baby in a sweltering hot car. But they make you realize that yes, EVERY single part of you changes when you become a mom- especially the control center of your being.
You see, my mom-brain is 100% due to the fact that at all moments of the day, I am thinking about my child. No, not always in a lovey-dovey can’t-wait-to-kiss-her way, but more along the lines of:

– what time is it and how long do I have before she needs to nap?

– did she finish all of her food at school?

– do I have enough of her food to get me through the week?

– Is this restaurant too loud for her?

– what if she misses her nap today? I am doomed?

– what if she wakes up in the middle of the night?

– what can I do to ease her teething pain?

– why does the car smell like poop again?

– where the hell did the poop go?

– how do all her socks disappear? 

Add about 500 more things to that list, and you get the picture. 
See, your brain no longer works for you. Your brain has been hard-wired long before you created this tiny human to live in survival mode, constantly planning, anticipating and worrying for the well-being of your child.
Pregnancy was just a test run for all of this. I totally get that now. All those moments my hubby found funny and cute are now more real than ever, only much, much scarier once your child enters the picture.
Had my baby been with me last weekend when I locked my keys in the car, she would have either been:

A) locked in the car in 100 degree weather.

B) standing in the middle of a parking lot in 100 degree weather with her hysterical mother. 

We are all very lucky that she was home with daddy that day. But shit really does happen. It can happen to any mom, at any time. Not because we are bad, evil, women out to destroy our child’s lives. But because we are real, we are moms, constantly thinking on overdrive for the better of our families. And don’t get me started on the mom-brain challenges for us working moms – we have to work twice as hard to not appear as flakey as we feel.
It is NEVER okay to leave your baby in a shopping cart, Cherish… But world, it is never okay for you to peg her as a “horrible mother” because her mom-brain got the best of her that day.
There is no way around it, every mom has had her mom-brain moment here and there (and everywhere).
So for now, until they invent a magic pill for this whole mom-brain thing,
  #istandwithmombrain

You Don’t Understand 

I try to keep this blog as positive as possible, but ever since the feeling of separation anxiety has consumed me now that my child is in day care, there are a few things I no will no longer stand to hear.

Yes, this is my first child. 

Yes, she’s still very young and yes, she’s an “easy” baby. 

But rest assured, if she were my second, third or fourth, if she were a two-year-old nightmare running rampant through my house – I’d still feel the effects of having to part with my child, at any age, for any reason.

I’m very open with discussing my feelings on the topic. When friends, family or coworkers ask “how it’s going,” I can’t help but mention that the dreaded “it” has been very, incredibly tough on me.  
I have received so much comfort from family and friends that know me well, but there is always the other side of that coin.

I have received advice that only pains me more, comments that make me want to scream and eye rolls that make me want to scream louder.

“Oh please, you’ll get over it eventually.” (This one pisses me off the most)

“Haha, oh you’re THAT mom.” (What mom, exactly, are you referring to? The one that would rather be enjoying her 7 month old infant all day? Yea, piss off, that’s me)

“Omg what’s wrong with you?! I couldn’t WAIT to get back to work,” eye roll included. (Sorry, not sorry, but I couldn’t WAIT to raise my child. 

Look, I made this decision to go back to work because it was the best choice for my family as a whole. Nothing is more important to me than the wellbeing of my family so I’m doing this regardless of how much it hurts to kiss my baby goodbye every morning at 8am. 

But I did NOT sign up for everyone’s unsympathetic opinions and advice.

The truth is, no one under the golden sun (aside from my husband, my mother and a few close friends) have any idea why I harbor the emotion and sensitivity that I do.

No one could ever understand why for me, giving Bella up each morning pains me the way that it does.

No one could ever understand exactly why becoming a mother to my Bella brought me the happiness and strength I was searching for my whole life.

No one, absolutely no one, could understand the need I have to feel constantly connected to my little human, the one who can’t speak for herself yet and the one who seeks comfort in my arms.

And no one besides me gets to carry around the pit I have in my stomach, day in, day out, and every other moment in between. No one.

So until you know me, my story, where I came from, what I’ve been through and exactly why I am this being of sensitivity and attachment…..

Please keep your opinions and eye rolls on this very delicate topic to yourselves.

Thanks in advance.  

 

Abandoning Reckless Abandon

  I couldn’t WAIT for last night’s girls night out. I had organized a girls-only birthday dinner for a good friend of mine and was fantasizing about the wine hitting my lips in an environment other than my living room. Literally, fantasizing. 
I was also dying to see my friends in an environment other than mommy and me or the mall. I was just as excited as my first trip to Vegas 7 years ago. I wish I were exaggerating. 
But then, something happened … I woke up the day of this planned birthday celebration with a knot in my stomach. Like, the type of knot you’d feel before a first date or a job interview. I panicked – hardcore.
What? Am I the only new mother who has freaked out about the opportunity to get out for a night and let loose?
Listen- I’m all about the latter, or I guess I used to be. 
Before I became a mom, I never understood what my mom meant when she would say “no matter what I’m doing, I’m always worrying about you.” Jeez, as usual, my mom had a point.
It’s all fun and games until you are woken up at 7am by the sweet sounds of your hungry baby. Until you’re still the one who has to roll your old, tired ass up out of bed and start the mommy show. Until the night you’re up past 10pm becomes the first night in history your child wakes you up at 2am.
I laugh thinking of the nights out my husband and I had pre-Bella. When one of us only had to budge the next morning, sometime before noon, just to let the dog out. 
Partying with reckless abandon, I call it.
Well, when I entered motherhood, I quickly abandoned reckless abandon.
I can’t even deny it, I was the old lady on Saturday night that I never thought I’d be.
Visibly buzzed off of half a gin and tonic, I couldn’t shake the thought of getting home super-exhausted, having to work the following morning AND having to switch into mommymode about 3 hours earlier than my body would be ready for.
I was as uptight as I’d ever been. The girl I always used to roll my eyes at. The girl who probably could have used another drink. I couldn’t believe it.
But, I have to say it, I’m not sorry. 
This is who I am now. 
I’m beyond proud that I am the mother I never thought I could be. The mother who favors flip flops over heels, late mornings in bed with my family over late nights out, take-out over reservations. Cuddling up next to my husband instead of being squeezed in next to him at a crowded bar. Waking up to my daughters smile instead of a hangover. 
I still love my girl time to death, and cherish my friendships more than ever, and am so happy to have celebrated such a deserving friend. (I love you Bethy).
But I will never, ever, leave the house again, without mommyhood on my mind.
I’ve happily abandoned reckless abandon. 

Multi-Mom-Tasking

I just breezed through Whole Foods, to buy myself a stash of wine for the upcoming weekend, with my baby on my hip (she got sick of the cart), while on the phone with my grandmother who was busy enlightening me with the details of my grandfather’s colonoscopy.

I didn’t even drop the baby (or the wine), not even when my beloved grandmother got on the topic of bloody stools.

I don’t mean to toot my own horn here, but BEEP BEEP.

Take the baby out of the above equation and you could still call it multitasking – it’s all we ever seem to do these days. We use our cell phones while we do EVERYTHING, from sitting in the bathroom to dining in the finest of restaurants.

I have even mastered the art of having a full blown cell conversation on speaker while browsing my instagram feed and scrambling eggs at the same damn time. It’s ridiculous. I’m not proud of this… I should probably be making an appointment to get tested for ADHD, actually.  Let me do that while I type this.

Throw a baby in the mix, and voila! You’ve got – multi-mom-tasking.

I hate having to juggle taking care of my baby with anything else when she clearly comes out on top of a long list of shit I have to get through every day.  But it’s just the reality of our lives – especially if you’re a full-time working mom like I’ve recently become.

It is not easy getting myself up out of bed, presentably dressed and out of the house in the morning all before 7:45am, but now I have to do it for two.  Throw in a baby, her morning bottle and a giant poop to stall things a bit, and you tell me if you wouldn’t have to combine morning activities.  I have no choice but to multi-mom-task.  I’m frazzled, I’m rushing, she sees it, she feels it.  I swear she sometimes looks at me like i’m insane.

I’m chugging my medication, er, i mean coffee, while I feed Bella, while i’m scrolling through emails, while I’m thinking of cute classroom ideas, while helping my husband find his keys.

I’m working at my amazing new school (which I have the pleasure of bringing my daughter to) while worrying about whether or not she’s napped or finished her pears.  While texting her teacher to find out. While still thinking of cute classroom ideas.

Ok now I’m no longer trying to toot my own horn, I’m trying to make a point here.

While most of us have no choice but to multi-mom-task every single minute of every single day, I can’t help but wonder, how present we really are in our most important task of all, being Mommy.

My husband and I took a great workshop on mindfulness and the importance of being a mindfully present force in your child’s life, as they learn everything they know from you, and their inner voices are shaped from the world and words you expose them to.

Each time I am multi-mom-tasking, I immediately flash back to a video i saw in this workshop, of a happy baby trying to interact with his mother.  The mother purposely acts aloof and distracts herself with something else, until the baby starts crying and acting out for attention – all to prove the point that babies are babies, and babies are seeking YOU and your attention at all times.

Babies don’t know when you’re running late for work and have to feed them while putting your makeup on (yes, I’ve done this).  They take it as, “Mommy is doing weird things to her face instead of holding me and feeding me.”

Babies don’t know that the phone call you’re on while they’re crying out for you in the playpen is an urgent work matter and that they have to wait patiently.  They take it as, “I need mommy.  Where’s mommy? Why is mommy talking to that shiny thing again?”

Babies don’t know that when they are dragged to the supermarket after a long day of day care and just want to get home to their calm environments, that mommy is out of food (ok, ok, wine) and has no other time in the day to shop for such necessities.  They take it as, “I’m tired and cranky and just want to lay with Mommy and she is busy doing other things.”

Please don’t get me wrong – i’m not saying we all have to drop what we’re doing, stop multi-mom-tasking and gaze lovingly into our babies eyes for each waking moment of their day.  No way. Not happening.  I’d be unemployed, homeless and starving.

I am also not saying that multi-mom-tasking is ruining our children.  They’ll be fine capable adults even if they are exposed to the Whole Foods wine-run/colonoscopy phone calls.  Frankly, sometimes I feel the more realness I can expose my daughter to, the better.

But it IS ruining the beauty of our experiences as mommies.  If you’re anything like me, you probably look at your child at any given moment and think – “Jeez, where has the time gone? When did you get so big?!”.

Well, the answer my friends, is that time waits for no one.  Not even when you have that pressing work call, that emergency wine-run, that urge to scroll through your Facebook feed for the 100th time in a day.  While your busy with your daily life, your baby continues to grow and change, at an epic, mind-blowing rate of speed.

But while multi-mom-tasking, we have to try to keep doing the loving mommy things that our babies thrive off of, to remain somewhat present in the beauty of that moment.

For example, I could have dropped the colonoscopy call while at Whole Foods.  Bella always likes to hold on to my finger in the shopping cart which I could have done if not on the phone.  That is always a beautiful moment to me.

The way she stares at me and twirls my hair while she’s taking 45 minutes (yes, 45 minutes) to finish her bottle.  That is always a beautiful moment to me – way more beautiful than trying to put my makeup on for the day. (She does NOT need to be learning this yet)

I have been so good and remaining present in each busy moment of my day – this week has just been crazy with adjusting to our new full-time work and daycare schedule.

Now that I am losing many hours of my daughters life to daycare, I am making it a point to enjoy as many mindful moments with my beautiful Bella as possible. Turning my phone on silent when I’m playing with her, feeding her, bathing her, walking with her.

Because for me, nothing is as important as the moments I have with her. Nothing is as important as the feeling of her love for me, her need for all of my undivided mommy-attention and again, the way she twirls my hair in her teeny little chubby fingers while I’m feeding her.

I’m vowing to curb my multi-mom-tasking just a bit… I hope you’ll join me. I think we’ll be more fulfilled mommies for it in the long run.

Baby + blush brush = not a good choice.
Baby + blush brush = not a good choice.

She’ll Be Fine 

 She’ll be fine.

 As chronicled in probably every other blog post I’ve written in the last month, it has been a huge challenge for me to wrap my head around the fact that my daughter had to start day care, full time, at the tender age of 6 months, so that I could resume my teaching career after an amazing maternity “leave”.

 “She’ll be fine,” I’ve heard from so many people – the people I don’t know very closely (and likely the people who cried when their kids started day care also).

 Yes – I know she’ll be fine. ​Thanks, darlings.

 Her being “fine” is hardly my concern. She’ll be more than fine, she’s a fricken’ champ, that daughter of mine.

 You see, for the people who don’t know me well, they think this is about me being some over-protective, germaphobe mother who is scared to let her daughter come in contact with the outside world.  

 This is not me. Not at all.

 My daughter has been experiencing the outside world since she was born. I have never kept her in a bubble, cocoon, or quarantined from anyone at any point in her life. She’s been experiencing daily life along side her mommy, from the supermarket to the beach and everywhere in between. She’s happy, socializes with the best of ‘em and babbles up a storm to anyone with a smile.

 So yes, she’ll be fine.

 But it’s me I’ve been worried about this whole time.  

 I’ve worried about the age-old struggle of working moms everywhere – not enough time with their kids.

 I’ve worried about the other age-old struggle of working moms everywhere – how do you balance motherhood AND work life?

 I’ve worried about not finding the balance.

 Letting my house go to shit.

 Letting my friendships go to shit.

 Letting myself feel like shit for all of the above (and below).

 Forgetting how to turn the oven on and cook for my also hardworking husband because I am too exhausted to form a sentence let alone prepare something edible.

 Succumbing to my exhaustion and foregoing date nights. Girls night outs. Trips to the gym.

Being too tired to engage my daughter in our nightly reading routine and turning on Elmo’s World instead.

 Going to bed right after my daughter and skipping my nightly TV-in-bed routine with my husband.

 All of these things are important to me… They may sound simple to you, but they are what makes me whole and keeps me happy.  Keeping a nice home, preparing edible meals, maintaining relationships … but damn if it doesn’t seem like a LOT of work, on top of full-time work!!!!!

 Well, all those cheeky know-it-all’s were right about Bella. She was FINE. She is fine. She went in with a smile on her face, was still smiling each time I peeked into her classroom for a visit, and let out the cutest squeal and clap when I came to pick her up at the end of our day.

 She’ll be fine.

 So, will I be fine? My kind of “fine”?  

 Before today, I was convinced I couldn’t be… But you know what, I may just end up “fine” as well.

  
 We’ll be just fine. Thanks  

 

The Last Day of This Life

Today feels eerily similar to the day before I was due to welcome my baby into the world.  There is the same stillness, calm-before-the-storm type of quiet that you can’t help but feel really uncomfortable by.

The day before I gave birth was filled with so many emotions, a lot them driven by fear and a state of shock that i couldn’t shake, so I chose to barricade myself in my bedroom with a Chipotle burrito and the TV remote.

Well, today feels the same.  Minus the burrito, or the ability to barricade myself in my bedroom with a teething infant making her presence known throughout the house. Ok, Ok, I AM at home, trying to snuggle with Bella while I snack on dark chocolate.

This is the last weekday I’ll ever have as a stay-at-home mama, the last morning I was able to wake up to the sound of Bella stirring in her crib instead of an alarm, the last day of doing nothing but meeting my daughters needs at every moment.  The last day of what has been undoubtedly the longest stretch of happiness, pure bliss rather, that I have ever experienced in my whole life.

So naturally, I am mentally and emotionally paralyzed today.  I left the house without my wallet this morning, left my coffee cup on top of the car before pulling out of the driveway, and for the first time in months, didn’t even bother putting makeup on before leaving the house.  I can’t think straight, I am on the border of panic – it’s hard to breathe.  Everything, EVERYTHING is about to change, and I have no control over it.  I so desperately want to be the Badas$ mama I wrote about weeks ago, and I know I can be, I just didn’t realize it would come this quickly.

As of Monday, Bella will be in day care full-time because I will be back to work full-time.  My brain will now have to split itself into a total of 20 different compartments.

  1. Bella
  2. Husband
  3. House
  4. Dog
  5. 5- 20. All of my new students

Notice how I didn’t even include myself or my family on that list, wow, scary.  Well, I guess this will be the new normal, a new normal I am forced to get used to.

I know, in reality, it won’t be as bad, or as hard, as I am anticipating – nothing ever is.  But each time I look at my daughter today, I can’t help but think about the fact that between the hours of 8am and 4pm, every single day of the week, I won’t have the ability to look at her.  Is it just me, or is her smile cuter than ever today?

Each time I look at my daughter, I can’t help but think about that the fact that many other women will have the privilege and honor of staring at my daughter all day (and yes ladies, it IS an honor) as they try to meet her needs throughout the day.  Is it just me, or am I the only one who understands her language?

Each time I look at my daughter, I can’t help but grow an enormous lump in my throat, and try to quickly swallow it so that she doesn’t see me cry.  Is it just me, or is my daughter the only one who senses when I’m sad, and starts to giggle to cheer me up?

I have spent the last 6 months and 2 weeks falling more and more in love with my child.  She has been a part of my daily routine, she has become my daily routine actually, and to say I have enjoyed every second of it is a huge understatement.  We have bonded on a level that I can’t even explain, she has a smile that she reserves only for me, and now she has finally learned to put her mouth on my cheek as an attempt to kiss me!

Jeez, here comes that lump again, taking over my throat.  Bella is napping now, so please excuse me while I cry.

While I cry, I hear the annoying advice I’ve received about this issue replaying over and over in my head.  Only it’s not annoying, it’s true, I just don’t want to hear it.  People insist on informing me of the benefits of becoming a working mom, and how day care will be wonderful for my already well-socialized and outgoing daughter.

So from now on, I’ll have to remind myself that this advice is proven and true.

From now on, every time I wake up to the sound of my alarm clock, I’ll be driven out of bed by the thought that what I am doing will ultimately be the best thing for my child – socially, emotionally, and financially.

From now on, every time I pull into the parking lot of our new school, I’ll unclick Bella’s car seat with a smile instead of tears, because I know she’ll light up with joy as soon as she enters her new room full of toys and smiles.

From now on, every time I hear a student say, “You’re the best teacher in the world, Mrs. D!”, I’ll know how proud my daughter will one day be when she can understand what this means.

And from now on, every time I look at the face I love most, the one I grew in my own body, I’ll thank my lucky stars for being able to feel the pangs of leaving her, because this pain comes from love – the greatest love I’ve ever known.

This is the last day of THIS life, but the start of a whole new one, one that my daughters face will always make happier.

Like two peas in a pod.
Like two peas in a pod.