so much for that plan

I’m being eaten alive by my children.

laugh.

go ahead.

all of you.

all you wiser parents of older kids.

all you who rolled your eyes when I was all pinterested out in the Spring.

go ahead.laugh.

Every plan this summer has been a flop.

The binders have become an emblem of torture for the kids.

The Reading Challenge…HA!

The weather has been horrendously hot, humid and stormy.

My house is trashed daily.

Car trips are filled with fighting and flying toys.

And they’re fighting. so much fighting.

We’ve had nasty colds, viruses, allergic reactions to medicines, teething, pink eye….to name a few.

I keep questioning whether we should have just skipped a few mortgage payments and just put everyone in all day camps.

This summer is definitely giving my ‘free range’ ‘let the damn kids play’ theories a run for it’s money.

The worst part.

It’s all me.

I’m the one who is angry about another kid getting sick, the oppressive humidity, the house being trashed, the over scheduled summer, my 4 and 6 yeard olds lack of interest in my perfectly organized age-appropriate binders and worksheets. (Really Anna, REALLY?!)

I’m the one who can’t find the patience.

I’m the one who has convinced herself that she’s socially awkward and has self-diagnosed herself with every mental health issue within googles reach.

I’m exhausted.

Like really really walking zombie exhausted.

and I’m being the parent that I hate.

I can feel the stress radiating through every aspect of my life.

….sigh…..

Fear not friends, I’ll be OK. It’s only July 20th. I have lots of summer to turn it all around.

My favorite adventures with the kiddies are on the horizon.

My future holds cooler weather, lots of trees, lakes, rivers, and endless boundaries to roam.

I will be zen.

My kids will be healthy.

and my age-appropriate worksheets will make great campfire kindling.

Nama-motherlovin-ste.

Mommy Dating

I’ve dated a LOT of Moms.

It’s true.

I’ve picked up Moms in parks, on the subway, in doctors offices, at the gym, in locker rooms, at preschools, elementary schools, even online.

We make eye contact, assess, exchange cute banter about current situation, talk about the kids….feel out the chemistry.

We exchange info, someone promises to reach out….maybe we’ll run into each other again.

Sound familiar?

(It should.)

You hangout. Things progress. You have fun. The kids aren’t as obnoxious as others you’ve seen, so that’s a plus. …. Or maybe they are, but you like her enough to let it go. It’s good to be open and accepting , right?

You hangout, you text, you laugh, and you don’t stress about the state of your house when you’re together.

Things might happen fast. You share spirits away from the home base. You call it a “Mom’s Night Out” to keep it simple, you remind yourself It’s just an excuse to get out of the house- no pressure.

You end the night with laughs and promise to do it again soon. You hope it’s not awkward the next morning at playgroup.

Congratulations, you’ve made a new Mommyfriend.

When you’re away, with regular friends, with coworkers, with family, you describe what you did over the weekend, how you had such a blast with your MommyFrrr…..

wait.

That sounds unfair, untrue, and so so annoying.

She/they are more than that! You’ve been through the ringer, they’ve seen you in good times, but more often in bad, they’ve held your hands, poured you a drink, listened to the crap (and there’s a bunch of it!)

It just can’t be. They’re more. You’re become more, together.

Since the beginning of time… Or at least, since I’ve became a “Mom”  I have grouped new friends, made post baby, without relation to my life before baby as a “Mommyfriend”

But that was then. In the beginning, when I was new to the game. The term worked. It helped lighten the reality of what I was really doing (dating for friends in same phase of life/realm of existence).

So here I am 6 years deep, with almost all of the many life complexities worked out (psych!)  thanks to the help of my new and not so new Mommyfriends.  The camaraderie is evolving and deepening.

You get to a point when you need to ask.

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Are you?!

Gulp.

Can we 

Be friends?

Summer with Kids Survival Plan

It’s almost here.

So many emotions.

I just, I don’t know…

It’s just such a complicated relationship.

I love…

I loathe…

For weeks I have been having bi-polar-menopausal type reactions to the onset of summer vacation. En serio.

One minute I’ll be jumping for joy that the temporary end of pick ups and drops, homework, projects, packing lunches, snacks, backpacks, and additional miscellaneous parental responsibilities are in site. No routine, no rules, lets get wild kids! The world is ours for the taking! Free range play or bust!

And then, like clockwork, the heat flashes.

Days upon days with all.the.kids.at home.with me.all.day.every.day.

No, no, I’m excited.

Really, I am.

I mean, I will be OK… it will be GREAT.

F.

Here’s my plan. Join me.

We’re in this together.

The Summer Survival Plan of Attack

1) MOMMY CAMP. My brilliant/superMom friend has been organizing a week of “Mommy Camp” for the last few summers. One Week, 5 days of easy/affordable activities for parent(s) and their littles. You don’t have to sign up, or commit. She sends the schedule for the week, there’s a point person per day/activity, you can come and go as you please. Activities include: Lake Days, Children’s Theaters, Playgrounds, Museums, Zoos. The best part(s) your kids play with the other kids, you get to catch up/meet new friends, it’s easy, and you get to explore and experience where you live! Make it happen.

2) Always Find Water. Pool, lake, spray parks. It’s hot, your hot, their hot. Water anything. Endless entertainment.

BathingSuites, Towels, Snacks, and for the really littles- the best floaty in the history of the world  —>

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Stern’s Puddle Jumper (Amazon)

3) Pretend to have your Sh!# together Summer Binder.  My children will be like 3 grades ahead of your kids by the end of the summer. Oh yea, you just wait. I am going to Pinterest the summer away with educational activities, reading challenges, and science experiments.

Kids will spend 20-30 minutes “working” and “creating” in their flawless Summer Binders that I made with blood, sweat and tears for them. They will love it, me, and relish in their summer creativity…sigh…. Probably not. But I’m going to try.

Some seriously cute ideas and printables on this creative Mom’s site.

And my littles are most excited about the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenege

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4) Let other people entertain them.

I found a great list of stores that offer Kids workshops. Check it out HERE.

Museums, gyms, and indoor play areas usually offer free events and/or open play times.

I’m a big fan of local activity blogs- KidFriendlydc.com and http://redtri.com/

….and when all else fails, when it’s so hot your sticking to each other….

4) Go to the Movie!

$1 Kids Movies @ Regal Theaters 

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You can see documentation of my summer anxieties and excitements with oodles of educational/somewhat cute/not so annoying summer ideas on my Summer w. Kids Pinterest Board 

…and friend BeyondDomestica on Facebook and Instagram! Follow and share your Summer Survival Plans. Please, I beg you. We’re in this together, right, RIGHT?!

Don’t leave me alone with them!

How many weeks until school starts?!

Dah!

and then there was you

It’s 10 o’clock the night before your 6th birthday. It’s taking every ounce of self restraint not to walk upstairs and cuddle you like a baby and tell you everything. Your story, our story, is epic. And someday, when you’re older, I will tell you everything. But not now, not tonight.

Every year, for the past 5 year, in the days before your Birthday I think about those crazy 9 months and how that one day, the day you came, changed my life.

I look back now and think about how unready I was, how unprepared… how I should have been more scared. And there were many (many) moments, when I was. But there was something about you from the very first time we thought about you. We knew that we already loved and wanted you.

anna prego
Pregnancy is not kind to me. With you I had preclampsia, gained 90 (yes, NINETY) pounds, had swollen hands and feet for 80% of the pregnancy, and was throwing up DAILY. It was brutal.

I keep looking at the clock, reliving the hours before your birth. 10:30pm at the hospital getting checked in to our room for induction. I had pre-clampsia when I was pregnant with you and that day I had gone to my 37week appointment, Daddy was there. The Doctor came in and told me that the protein count in my urine had tripled and that we should plan on checking into the hospital that day. It was a big shock! I was rushing around trying to get everything ready when I noticed Daddy sitting at his computer. “Cris, we don’t have time for this, we have to get everything packed!” He looked at me with fear in his eyes and said, “I have to order a filling cabinet, we have nothing to put her birth certificate in!” Everyone deals with fear differently 🙂

After a dramatic pregnancy, labor and delivery- you were here.

eliza infant

YOU.

My first. My baby. My girl.

When you were born, my world, my entire being was transformed. I could never have imagined that it was ever possible to love someone so much.

eliza baby nyc

The first year of your life, we roamed the city. We would explore every inch of Manhattan. We would meander around Central Park for hours. I made my first group of “Mommy Friends” and experienced another level of friendship that was (is!) so essential and meaningful. Although we are no longer in NY, those NY Mamas will ALWAYS hold a place in my heart and are still some of my dearest friends.

We had a lotta fun little girl and I knew early on that you were special.

eliza mama beach

Eliza, you are amazing.

Being your Mama is an honor.

You are strong, clever, beautiful, and kind.

Eliza 2 1:2 Eliza 2

eliza riverelizaphoto-21eliza the engineer

I am so proud of who you are and who I see you becoming.

I will do my best to be there for you, to listen, to love, to let you explore, to encourage, to cherish the wild, to challenge when needed, and to help you stay true to who you really are.

Happy 6th Birthday my love.

eliza boat

We love you to infinity and beyond!

Eliza at wedding

So, she just had a baby…now what?

**Disclaimer**

When the author of this post (ahem, me) wrote this first draft she was hormonal, sleep deprived, un-showered.

and….well,

proceed with caution.

and please don’t be offended.

*                     *                    *

Pregnancy for me is every synonym of terrible. 10 months of bloated, nauseous, uncomfortable, exhausted, grossness, wherein I inevitably gain about 60-90lbs. Oh yea, a real sight.

But then, on or around the 6th (or 100th) time that you are convinced that you could not get any bigger or uncomfortable…. There’s a baby. Poof! Snap of a finger! Baby!

(Hardly, but we’ll save THAT experience(s) for another time)

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Whether it is by pushing, c-section, or adoption- Having a baby is an unparalleled experience. 6 Million years of procreating has led us to an experience of utter devotion and awe of babies. I am deeply blessed to have three beautiful, healthy babies. Everyday I am thankful for their health and existence.

This post was first written in a dark place in the mama lowlands….about 6 weeks in, when the adrenaline has receded. I felt exhausted, fat, and isolated from friends and the general population of people who didn’t have a newborn gnawing on their poor poor nipp….OK OK OK, happy place, happy place, I’m not there anymore.

No, for realz. This post is intended to give ‘the new Mamas’ a voice. To share with you, a very summarized version of what it’s like in those first few weeks and, hopefully, how you can best be there for that new mama in your orb.

God speed.

It is overwhelming having a newborn.

In those first few days/weeks the most important thing for Mama to do is to recover from childbirth, which is not a comfortable experience. Mama can hardly walk, is crampy (worst with each pregnancy!) bloody, exhausted, hormonal, and feels like a deflated balloon. She stands in the mirror and wonders if she will ever have a belly button again…

Mama and baby are enamored and mystified with each other. All they want to do is bond and get to know each other in a calm, safe, and quiet environment.

They are trying to figure out breastfeeding, which is emotionally and physically draining and more often than not, pretty tricky. The BEST way for Mama and Baby to figure out the labyrinth of breastfeeding is to have skin to skin contact all day. No joke. No shirts, nakey baby… all. day.

Mama and Baby are both going through a lot and rest is so important.

These things are hard to do even with the simplest of basic human needs like eating and  going to the bathroom. Of course if there are other dependents to think about, it is even more complicated. The onset of visitors makes these things near impossible.

I get it, everyone wants to meet the baby, it’s exciting and new, and it’s pretty freaking awesome seeing such a new little human. But take it from me, Mama needs some time.

But how, Anna?! HOW do I help my dear Wife, BabyMama, Daughter, Sister, Friend get through this and know I love her and I’m here for her!

Fear not friend, read on.

Your FRIEND just had a baby

Drop off food: Keep it simple.

Meals that won’t require her to do much/anything and put them in containers that she can throw away or keep. Whole Meals- pesto pasta with vegetables, enchiladas, soup with yummy bread. If she has other kids, make sure you consider the picky eaters…i.e. simple is best. I had a friend who brought me pesto orzo loaded with veggies and feta and then a ziplock bag full of noodles and butter for my older babes (GENIUS)

If meals aren’t possible (or needed) treats like banana bread, oatmeal cookies, muffins, bagels, and good beer are great options.

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I love the idea of a Taco Box
Be a friend: Mommy-mush-brain is real and she may not be her usual sharp and witty self, cut her some slack and catch her up on the preschool gossip while handing her some trashy magazines and a 6-pack of good beer.

Take care of her other dependents: If she has other kids, take them to the park, offer a play date at your house, or give them a ride(s) to/from school. If no other kids, but a first-child-dog, you guessed it, take that damn dog for a walk.

Your DAUGHTER/DAUGHTER IN LAW just had a baby

(all of the previous, and…)

Help HER: If you are there, help HER. As much as you want to be there just for the baby (don’t deny it…)  Mama is the one who needs you. And what does she need you to do?

Pick 1 or ALL of the following- Clean, cook, wash the dishes, take out the trash (there will be lots of trash), tidy up, wash and fold the laundry, go grocery shopping, help with thank you notes, help with the other dependents, and…

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Moral Support: Mama is going to be moody and emotional. She is going to keep face for the outside world, but with you, her Mama, she will probably cry, a lot. Its a tricky mix of exhaustion and hormones. Try and recognize when she needs to just let it out and when she may need a little ‘break from baby’. Biology is amazing. As exhausted and overwhelmed as she is, she will not want to separate from baby, if only for 20 minutes! GENTLY offer up “It looks like baby is out for a bit, why don’t you take a shower and rest while I finish folding the laundry.”

Your WIFE/BABYMAMA/PARTNER just had a baby

(all of the previous, and…)

Be her Gladiator: Everyone is going to want to come and see the new baby. We have now learned that endless visitors are not the best thing for mama and baby. Be the gatekeeper! You be the one to tell friends, family, and neighbors when (and when NOT) to come by. When family is mad that they can’t come within an hour of getting home from the hospital, you deal with it…be her flippin gladiator.

Fake it till ya make it:  Even if you can’t understand what she has/is going through; even if you love baby but can’t quite bond with it just yet (totally normal in those first few weeks!) Just love both of them. Show her you love her, show her you love baby. Rub her back, listen to her, tell her you love her more than you ever have before. Be in awe of the process.

Show her: 2 words.

Push Prize.

No, no, no, don’t roll your eyes. Give her something.

It doesn’t have to be diamonds, or expensive.

Give her something that shows how much you value her experience. A letter or photo-book with memories from her pregnancy and new baby, jewelry, a book of poems, a piece of art, a journal. Give her something that she will be able to have always, to remember this wild and beautiful time.

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And Mamas, I promise, it gets easier….and then harder, and then easier again 🙂 Have faith in 6 million years of evolution. It works. Trust your intuitions and if you need help, ASK. Hell, even if you are a stubborn, I can do anything type a gal, ask for help.

As wonderful and hard as it is- feel, remember, be present and enjoy the ride of this fleeting time.