Throwing Your Child’s First Birthday

Throwing Your Child’s First Birthday

We just celebrated my daughter’s first birthday! I cannot believe it. She’s one. What a whirlwind of a year. From horrible experiences at daycare to awesome daycare experiences, difficulties breastfeeding to fights on social media, it’s been a fantastic year with my darling daughter. We just threw her first birthday and it was amazing, tiresome, and perfect.

The thing is, you throw the kid’s first birthday party for the parents. She has no idea what’s going on. She notices random people, some of whom she doesn’t know, are showing up at her house and giving her stuff. Sure, she likes it, but her favorite gifts were the cardboard boxes and wrapping paper the actual gifts came in.

That’s unfair to say. We love our friends so much and everyone was so kind. She made out like a bandit. But really, when you throw your kid’s first birthday, don’t be scared to get what the parents like. Like beer. You can have beer at your kid’s party. She’s one. It not like she’s going to take a few brewskies to the back and break into them with her posse. Other kids might. Watch those kids.

I felt so bad because so many people asked me what my daughter wanted as her gift.

“Well, the last time we talked, she was unsure.”

Once again, what a mean response. But I really had no idea what to say. Our friends and family were so generous with toys (which she loves), clothes, and games. Honestly, giving diapers or formula is also a fantastic gift. That’s the great thing about a first birthday, there’s really no pressure. She has no idea what’s happening. She’s going to love it.

The biggest thing we loved about the party is that we invited folks whom we loved. There was no obligatory invitation. We invited those who lived nearby and who wanted to spend the day with a bunch of kids running around and to see our daughter in a pretty, frilly dress. We were surrounded by love.

I guess the point of this post is to say thank you to everyone who helped with her party. She loved it. And also to those moms out there who want to appeal to everyone for your kid’s party– don’t. Do what you want to do. If you want to have a cake, have a cake. If you want to dress your kid up as a bear and have her run around while you eat pizza, do it. Celebrate your child how you want. Because they have no idea what’s happening.

Emmie Dress

Advertisements

Raising a Daughter in a Slut-Shaming Society

Raising a Daughter in a Slut-Shaming Society

Here’s I’m a Horrible Mom, jumping on the bandwagon and talking about what’s heavy in the news. You know what, though? It needs to be talked about.

When I was in school, I had a friend who disclosed to us that she had had sex with her boyfriend. One time.  This was not super rare– a lot of kids were having sex. Even so, her “friends” took it upon themselves to spread the word, forcing the word “slut” to link to her name. The worst part– it was her female friends who turned on her. Her female friends, the ones she spilled her most private secrets to, had marked her as an easy-target.

When we females begin to slut-shame, it makes it okay for the boys to do so. If girls will call her a slut, what’s to stop a boy from doing it? If girls think she’s “too loose” and discuss it, why should boys respect her? Her girlfriends don’t.

Parents. This is unacceptable. It is unacceptable to raise your child, male or female, to discuss another student’s sexual encounters and to bully them for their decisions. Even if this girl had slept with ten guys, it is her responsibility to be safe and it is not for her friends to spread judgement. Stop.

Parents. Sex is real. It’s real. Acknowledge it. No one wants to think of their child as a sexual being. That means they’re growing up. It means they’re experiencing these urges which can lead to major consequences.

What do you do? You teach them. You tell your children what these consequences are. You tell them what sex is, that it is natural to feel what they feel, but be aware of the responsibility that comes with it. Do not shame your children for feeling something natural.

Look, the thought of my almost one year old daughter ever wanting to have sex scares the shit out of me. If it were up to me, she would wait to have sex with one person whom she loves deeply.  And I’ll tell her as much. Of course I don’t want my daughter to have the responsibility of sex and with multiple partners at a young age. But what I really don’t want is for her to be so ashamed of herself that she won’t talk to me. What I really don’t want is for her to feel like she can’t even talk to me to make sure she’s being safe. What I really don’t want is for her to hate herself for experiencing something and feel ashamed. I will love her and teach her and guide her. But I will never make her feel shame.

What I really really don’t want is for her to go in unprepared.

Parents of boys: Raise them well. Teach them to respect women. Teach them that a woman who is harassed was not asking for it because she feels attractive in a tight skirt. Teach your boys that consent means she wants it 100%. Teach them that calling girls sluts makes them look like jackasses, and really, girls definitely don’t want that. No one wants that. Teach them that it’s not hard to avoid harassing women.

It is not hard to not assault women. It is not hard to not rape women.

Parents. Teach your children to stand up for those who are being bullied and taunted. Teach them that their decisions are their own, just as their peers’ decisions are their own. If a girl is told continuously that she’s a slut, she will shut down and give herself to people not because she really wants it but because she believes that’s what’s expected of her. Do not give in because it is what’s expected. Make your choices because you want to.

I will teach my daughter that sex is about love and fun and sometimes, honestly, it’s not that good. Sex is something beautiful and sometimes weird and awkward, but it is a connection. Have that connection on your terms (and your partner’s, obviously).

I will not judge my daughter for her decisions. I will help her to make the right decisions for herself. And when she falls and makes a choice with consequences, I will be there to help her. I will raise her strong. I will raise her to love herself. I will raise her to love her body and to never be ashamed of it.

I will mess up sometimes. I will say the wrong thing. But I will always make sure that she is loved.

Teach your children love and empathy. Raise better humans.

Competitive Moms vs Moms Who Just Want to Do Their Own Thing

Competitive Moms vs Moms Who Just Want to Do Their Own Thing

The beauty of belonging to a mom’s group or having friends who are moms is that they feel your pain. Oh, you can’t go out for brunch like y’all had planned because your little angel is throwing a tantrum, pooped all over themselves, and needs a bath? No worries, Ma. I got you covered. We’ll brunch next week. You’re worried that your daughter’s demonic noise is an actual demon inside of her? Thanks, Mom friends, I now know she’s just figuring out her voice. No demons as of yet, except the one that makes her personality. Just kidding. My kid rocks.

The trouble with mom friends, however, is that sometimes they try and one-up you. Not like, “Oh! I’m so excited and had to share, but my daughter started walking today!” Nah, I get that. And even if I get jealous that my kid has yet to walk, they’re just sharing their good news so I’m happy for them.

No, I’m talking about the mom friends who aren’t really friends– they’re soul suckers whose children have the be good at everything. The best at everything. They’re the helicopter moms who complain to the teacher when their child gets a 99 instead of a 100 because “is misspelling ‘diamond’ really worth a whole point off?'” I’m projecting.

“Hey, giiirllll.” You know the Competition of One-Uppers (I’m not feeling very clever) is about to begin. You see the smug smile from across the room. The pretentious wave– you know, four fingers fluttering and lips pursed? Little do you know, that wave is the predator luring you into a false sense of security. You know you’re in their web, however, when that prolonged “giiirllllll” ripples slowly out of their mouths, like a hot stew being poured onto your lap. At times, it can be replaced with a “Maaaaama” and a chuckle. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a one-upper.

“Sooooo,” God, everything is prolonged. They love the sound of their voice. “How’s your daughter?”

“Super, Doris.” Notice I don’t ask how her child is. Because. I. Don’t. Care.

“Well, little Princess Bexley of Nottinghamshirepost is FAANNNTASSTTIC. Tell me, has your daughter begun to do her sign language?”

“She’s doing well with it. We’re still working on—

“Ohhhh, that’s just FINE. Little Bex-Bex has learned the ENTIRE ALPHABET in German, French, American, AND British sign-language. Isn’t that IMPRESSIVVEEE for an 11 month old?”

It would be impressive if that weren’t a bold-faced lie. You have a few options here. You can try to one-up her, but then you just get into this ridiculous match of “Who’s Lies Sound More Sincere.” You could just punch her in the face, but that would have more consequences than is necessary. You could pat her on the back and move on. You could just be antagonistic…which is what I do…

“Oh, that’s super-duper for Bex-Bex. My daughter just learned to make demon sounds, so I’m super proud! Tell Bex-Bex to get ready for it, it’ll scare the pants off of her.” Then wave the four-fingers, smirk, and strut away with your little demon.

Look, I try very hard not to judge other moms for their decisions and how they raise their kids. I really do. But please, please, please don’t be this mom. Absolutely share how proud you are of your child. Milestones are huge! Share, share, share! And be honest. If a mom has asked you if your kid has walked and she has, say she has!

There is a code, though. One child’s successes do not set the bar for another child’s failures, especially in the infant stage. Once their in college, let them push each other down the staircase to get roles (Showgirls). Obviously, I’m kidding. Let your child’s own progress determine their successs, but push them to work hard and be the best they can.

If a mom does this to you, you don’t have to be horrible mom like I am. Don’t be antagonistic. Look, Princess Bexley of Nottinghamshirepost is going to have a hard enough time with a name like that. Just smile and nod and walk away.

Then have your child chase her child making demon sounds.

Moms vs Social Media

Moms vs Social Media

Recently, my sister purchased a bear onesie for my daughter. When I say a bear onesie, I mean she becomes a bear. I didn’t know I had the ability to feel such unadulterated elation.

Before I had a child, I always said, “I will never dress her in real clothes. I will put her in ONLY animal costumes.” As a mother, a wife, and a go-getter, I failed myself. I had failed to put my daughter in any animal costume. Obviously,  I’m a horrible mom. Then, my sister, my wonderful, beautiful, hilarious sister, bought her exactly what I’ve been looking for: a bear costume.

My daughter looks so cute, crawling around and growling like a bear. She’s the cutest f-ing thing I’ve ever seen my life. Because I’m a proud millennial, I posted the picture on Instagram and Facebook. I would have tweeted it, but honestly, I’m just too verbose. It took me a like 700 words to explain how I pack a diaper bag. So, I posted a picture with the tag: “You guys! There’s a real bear problem in Virginia!” (I was visiting Virginia at the time).

Most of my responses were laughs, comments about how cute she is, and sarcastic, “Oh no! What a terrifying bear!” But then, I received a PM.

You see, here’s the thing. Social media is for friends and close family, sure, but also people whom you’ve met once or twice, and obligations you have to include in your lives in order to avoid awkward encounters. Of course, there are also acquaintances you don’t really talk to, but kind of talk to, but when they do talk to you, it’s always about how your parenting style sucks. Ah, there we are. Social media.

My messenger dinged. I got super excited. Because I’m basically like a teenager with no friends. So, whenever I get a message, I immediately go back to the creepy middle-schooler with a bowl-cut who was getting asked to hang out by the popular girls.

“Hi.” One. Word. This could be dramatic.

“I don’t know if you remember me, but we met at LaLuna Bar one night.” (It’s not called LaLuna bar, I just think that would be a cool name).  “I just wanted to tell you that I think it’s INSANE that you would put your baby daughter in a BEAR COSTUME in THIS HEAT. How DARE YOU subject her to this for the sake of a PICTURE! HAVEN’T YOU HEARD OF HEAT STROKE!”

All of the high expectations I had for a new friend were shattered.

“Oh, hello. Yes, I do remember you. I appreciate your concern, but we kept her in the house (where it’s air conditioned). We took it off after about five minutes. She’s fine. All is well. Except for the honey. She ate all the honey.”

“YOU CAN’T GIVE A BABY HONEY! DON’T YOU KNOW THAT?”

“No, I know…it’s just that she’s dressed as a bear…so, honey? It was a joke.”

“LIKE KEEPING YOUR BABY IN THAT HOT BOX?”

“Yeah. Like that.”

Blocked.

The thing is, I knew she was fine. I would never ever put my child in harm’s way. I hate that I felt the need to defend myself to this person. She was basically a stranger. She doesn’t know me, and what do I care what she thinks of me?

Let’s talk about attacks from strangers. Recently, someone posted my blog about a negative encounter with a babysitter on reddit (thanks, btw!). One mom wrote, “She clearly has a lot of mom guilt. Her entire blog is about how she can’t deal with others. Get over it.” This hit me. I was really angry that this person didn’t understand that the point of my blog is just that, that moms shouldn’t feel this mom guilt. I got angry that this mom didn’t understand me. Then I laughed because this stranger mom and my feelings about her proved why I write this blog– stop the unnecessary judgement. Stop making moms feel guilty for trivialities.

Social media is great because it allows me to post things about my life that my family and friends who don’t get to see me often can see, all in one stop. I love when my father leaves clever witticisms on my Facebook (he’ll probably comment on this blog saying a clever witticism is redundant).

Even though it connects us, I feel like social media has this hold on us where we need to present the best sides of us. I can’t post that I’m having a bad day or people will thing that I’m looking for sympathy. I can’t only post that I’m having a good day because they’ll think I’m rubbing it in their faces or I’m “hiding” something. (Yeah, I’m hiding my hatred for you.) I can’t post cute pictures of my baby without someone saying something horrible about her.

So, here’s my advice, from one “horrible” mom to you: post whatever you feel like. If you think a picture is cute or funny, post it. Seriously, as long as your kid is actually safe, post it. Post when you’re tired. Post when you need sympathy. Post when you had a freaking awesome day and want to brag. You’re entitled to your own social media. You’re entitled to have good and bad days.

Most importantly, you’re entitled to dress your kid up in a freaking bear costume.

 

 

Moms vs Depression

Moms vs Depression

Honestly, I have the greatest child in the world. I know most parents say that, but I do. She’s sweet, she sleeps through the night, she’s cuddly,  she’s stinking cute. There are no negatives to my amazing daughter. My husband on the other hand…there is no other hand. He’s also freaking amazing. He’s sweet, hard-working, handsome, and super supportive. But no, this isn’t about how amazing my life is, even though it just that.

What’s frustrating is that sometimes, even though my life and family are amazing, I can’t get out of bed. I’m so tired that I just spend hours crying. It’s frustrating because there’s typically no inciting incident, or if there is, it’s so trivial it might as well have been nothing. Sometimes I can’t put my daughter to bed because I’m afraid it’ll be the last time I do so. If my husband puts her to bed, I don’t have to think about it.

“Well, do something that makes you happy!”

OH! I mean…of course! Like, love my job? Have an amazing family? Have an incredible support system? I’m so lucky that I have these things– but that’s just it, I already have them. It’s so frustrating because there’s no reason that I’m depressed. I just am.

“But why are you depressed. Can’t you just… get over it?”

There’s a bunch of different kind of depression, and I won’t pretend to be an expert, but basically, mine is chemical. That means I just am this way. I don’t handle it well, either. I completely surround myself with work– I pick up two, three, sometimes four projects so I’m too busy to be depressed. I run around and drown myself in random stuff I want to learn: once it was knitting, cross-stitching, writing a novel, making two podcasts, researching famous mistresses, reorganizing my closet, staying up until three scrubbing the kitchen. Nothing really gets done– it’s all half-assed stuff to keep me preoccupied. Then, real stuff doesn’t get done.

Then, I get anxious about how busy I am. So, I don’t feel depressed– I feel anxious. I have nightmares about not completing projects. I don’t sleep so I can finish cross-stitiching this pattern and restarting it because I hate the way it looks. I reorganize the downstairs (again), but I don’t finish and I leave the whole place looking like a mess. Then, every six months or so, I crash. Hard. My husband is left to pick up the pieces.

So, now I have this kid who’s pretty freaking cool. Like, she’s ten months and screams when Chevelle screams on the radio. My little metal-head is my pride and joy– we’re forcing her to be an astronaut one day.

In all seriousness, I’m anxious because I don’t want to crash. I’m anxious because I don’t want to be depressed around her. I’m anxious about being anxious. I don’t want to have crazy side-projects that keep me from her and drive me insane. I want to be there for her and I want her to have a normal mom.

So, I see a therapist. He’s easily one of the top five most amazing people I’ve ever met. Some days, when he’s too real with me, he’s top fifteen. But he helps. So much. And I haven’t crashed in at least 7 months. He helps me handle my shit.

It’s still not easy. Some days, I want to throw myself into a corner and hide. It’s not as easy as just fighting, though. Sometimes you fight all you can, but you still feel sad. I think when people tell you to just fight it and you have episodes of depression, you feel like it’s your fault because you didn’t fight hard enough. I want you to fight, but fight with the right tools. Reach out to professionals. Know that people care. Depression might win the battle but it doesn’t have to win overall. Take the steps you need. See a therapist. Take medicine if that’s something you and your doctor have discussed. Exercise. Find a healthy way to be yourself. Win the war.

Being depressed is not a failure.

It’s frustrating that I can’t enjoy my daughter and my life 100% of the time because that’s what my daughter deserves because she enjoys life 100% of the time. I’m working towards being me as often as I can so I can love her like she deserves. Some days, I might fail, but I will not fail overall.

In case you need it:

Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Staying Fit As a Mom vs Living Your Mom Life

Staying Fit As a Mom vs Living Your Mom Life

This post is an extremely personal, comical, and descriptive account of my attempts at weight loss post-baby. It includes the physical details of what it’s like.

Moms work desperately hard to get back to or do better than their post-baby bump. It’s hard. Sometimes, I just want to wear burlap sacks and pretend I’ve lost the weight, but I’m starting a fashion trend.

I stand in the mirror facing my post-baby belly. Yup, extra large. To be fair, it wasn’t super small when I became pregnant, but it did lack the giant bear-claw scars that now cover it. Coconut-oil did nothing for me. Stretch-mark oil did nothing for me. My daughter was just too powerful– she wanted her presence known before she got here.

“Can I get liposuction?” I ask hopefully to my husband while holding our baby. Perhaps the reminder of my 50 hour labor will inspire him to pretty much let me do whatever I damn well please. No luck.

“No. You can get a gym membership.”

“But that doesn’t get rid of my stretch marks.” To be fair, I don’t really know if liposuction does get rid of your stretch marks, but it was worth a shot.

“But that’s our daughter. I don’t want you to get rid of them. They’re beautiful because they come from her.” Awww.

“But when I want someone who makes more money, they won’t like them!” Not so cute of me.

The thing is, he’s right. Those stretch marks are my daughter. I worked hard for them. They show that she grew, was healthy, and was well-taken care of. It’s still frustrating to see, but I love that my husband constantly reminds me of how beautiful I am because they represent something so beautiful.

Okay, stretch marks= beauty. Check. There’s still my super gut.

Y’all. I’m so tired. Just to complain a little bit (because it’s not like I ever do in this blog), I’m a full-time teacher, part-time mom (just kidding), and in graduate school. I don’t want to work out. I don’t want to prep meals. I don’t want to think about the crap that enters my body. I especially don’t want to run. A) Because leggings make my already North American sized donk look like Antarctica. B) When I run, I take little steps because I’m short. All the other tall people pass me. I know they’ve been going for like 50 miles and I’m on mile .2. I get it. Your endurance is fantastic. 3) My boobs are too big to run. They’re like angry leprechauns hanging off of me and punching me in the face for every indecent thought I’ve ever had.

Here’s the thing. I don’t want my daughter to grow up being unhealthy. I love pizza more than anything. Second only to bread. Third comes my daughter. Even though she typically comes third in my priorities, isn’t she worth my eating only half of this pizza instead of the whole thing? I roll my eyes, but she definitely is.

So, I kicked it into gear. Y’all. This tired mom went to the gym at 5 a.m. so I could be at work at 7:30, work until 6:30 pm, be home by 7:30 pm, work on grades and grad school stuff until 11, and go to bed. Three times a week.

I didn’t lose any weight. I got angry. I wanted to give up because obviously my whale body is meant to be permanently beached. So, I talked to my trainer. Ah, apparently even if you work out, you need to eat better. Shucks.

So now, I add diet into the mix. I use the MyFitness Pal app along with a nutritionist to help me plan my meals. She’s super great. The biggest thing was just figuring out what I’m putting into my body. I didn’t realize that something that says Healthy might really not be. Did you know that you can’t eat an entire loaf of whole-grain bread just because it’s whole grain? Now I do.

I still eat what I want, but I just enter it into the app. That way, I know if I’m coming close to my daily limit of macros (protein, carbs, and fat). I “mess up” a lot of the time. I’m constantly going over my macros because sometimes I just want to eat bread and cheese. And it’s okay to mess up. I walked into a pole the other day, so there are worst things that can happen than my eating a roll.

Every day, I just think, my daughter is worth my being healthy. A lot of people ask me how much weight I want to lose, and honestly, I don’t care. I want to be fit and healthy. I want to be able to carry my daughter without huffing and puffing. I want to be able to chase a bratty kid who hits or bites my daughter. I want to win in a wrestling match with that kid and still have the energy to get up and cheer.

Even though pounds aren’t everything to me, I am proud of the five pounds I’ve lost. It’s a process,, and I’m never going to be a size 2. But I’m going to know about food and I’m going to be able to make my daughter healthy.

You can live your life and be healthy. You don’t need a nutritionist necessarily (although mine is super freaking awesome). Just be aware of what you’re eating. If I’m going to gain a pound, I want to know that cheese was worth it.

Staying at Home vs Working

Staying at Home vs Working

When I first had my baby, I was lucky enough to receive a pretty good (though not perfect) maternity leave. I always knew I would go back to work, but there was a side of me who thought, maybe I’ll stay home after I go back for the semester (I’m a teacher).

So, I had a long maternity leave–12 weeks. The first month was tough. I thought, all moms feel this way in the first month. It’ll get better and I’ll want to be home with her all the time. I will eventually love to stay at home with my baby.

Folks, I hated it. I hated staying at home. Don’t get me wrong: I acknowledge how incredibly lucky I was to have stayed with her as long as I did. But I could not stand staying at home all day. I got to a point where I didn’t clean, I didn’t cook, I just sat and watched my baby.

I’m not organized. I’m not super tidy. But I love my baby. The thing is, staying at home with a baby is super hard. You constantly have to watch this baby, clean everything, do the grocery shopping, run errands, try to fit in seeing people –all with a baby. Most of the time, you can’t see other adults because your baby’s nap time won’t fit in with their baby’s nap time. Sometimes friends without babies can’t fit in time to see you or don’t feel like seeing your baby.

Being at home with her all day caused me severe anxiety and depression. On top of that, I felt extreme guilt- why can’t I just be home, be productive here, and love staying with her? Why can’t I be a good mom and a good wife?

All I wanted was to go back to work. I needed to see people and feel productive. I felt like a pile of filth with this thing I had to take care of. I questioned everything I did and there was no one who could provide logic to my paranoid ideas.

I hated myself for not wanting to stay at home with her. Even so, I went back to work.

When I told people I was going back to work, I got:

“Oh…don’t you think your daughter would want you home?”

I bet she would prefer some time to herself, actually.

“Well, what are you going to do with her all day?”

The cats will take care of her. She’ll be aight.

“That’s great that you’re going back to work! You don’t want to lose yourself.”

Now wait a minute. Just because I can’t stay home all day doesn’t mean I would lose myself if I were to. It would mean I have a new purpose, a new passion, a new love. Staying at home with your child is just as commendable as going to work with a child. You, stay at home moms, are amazing. You are organized. You are wonder women. I just can’t be you.

“Oh, do you hate your baby?”

Well, she’s  no pizza, but she’ll do.

“Oh, is money tight for you all?”

Since when does my wanting to have a career mean that money is tight? And since when does someone staying at home with their baby mean money is great? Most stay at home moms budget incredibly well because they’re good at that stuff. I want to work because I like to work, even though I miss her so much.

I hated going back to work. I love my job, but I missed my baby. By the time I got home, I was exhausted. When she cried, I got angry, which, of course, made her angry. Thank God I have an incredible husband who helps. The guilt I felt, though, remained. The thing is, when you have a child, and you love what you do, you both win and lose every day.

In the long run, what’s best for my baby is a happy mom– a woman who wants to work hard in her career and come home feeling accomplished for her baby. I would be doing her a disservice if I did something I didn’t love.

So to sum up: sometimes I really don’t like my baby, but I love her all the time. Sometimes, I really don’t like my job, but I love what I do all the time. But I will always love pizza.