Mom Jealousy

Oh jealousy, you fickle fiend, always rearing your grumpy green head at the absolute worst moment.  As if I wasn’t stressed enough – planning my son’s first birthday and traveling back and forth between the Florida coasts to visit family – that familiar feeling decided to come creeping up recently.  Logically, I know it’s just my own insecurities making me feel like I’m losing some imaginary mom competition (Mompetition?), but that doesn’t seem to help me shake the feeling.

Just can't shake it!

Just can’t shake it!

I’ll be honest.  I get jealous.  A lot.  I get envious of moms who appear to have it all, moms who seem to be able to do it all, moms who don’t worry, healthy moms, moms who have all the answers.  You name it, I’ve either been jealous of or insecure about it.  But I don’t really linger on the jealousy.  It’s more of a fleeting thought that flickers across my mind when I see a woman at the grocery store, hair perfectly in place, bright eyes, carrying multiple things with ease, that I wonder to myself how I must look in comparison.  Messy ponytail with strands pulled undone by little hands, bleary eyes, struggling to find where I last put my debit card.  How could I not feel a little twinge of envy?

yup

Riiight?!

It’s not all pity party, though.  Sometimes I get these “epiphany moments” where I’m inspired by some random BuzzFeed article, convinced that I’ve found the ultimate life hack to turn me into Super Mom or a Pinterest board with the perfect sensory play project to guarantee my baby will be the next Einstein.  I’m full of optimism that I can finally be the best mother my child deserves and the best me that I deserve.

Such blind optimism

Such blind optimism

Of course things never turn out that way.  Something will inevitably go wrong and then those insecure feelings come back.  It can be a vicious cycle.  And normally, if I find out that I’m not alone in my self-doubt, I’ll start to feel better.  Yet somehow this isn’t one of those times.  I’ve heard every woman I know, chronically ill or not, vent about their issues of Mompetition (I’m trying to make this word happen, if you can’t tell).  And sure, we get together for a GNO and all chime in with our own horror stories and commiserate with each other, but most of the time we still go back home full of angsty sighs that would make a 90s grunge teen look like sunshine.

Angela Chase ain't got nothing on me

Angela Chase ain’t got nothing on me

But you know what snapped me out of my ‘Envy–>Self-Doubt–>Repeat’ cycle?  It may seem totally insignificant, yet it was a game-changer for me.  Not too long ago I was out to lunch with my best friend and my son.  On paper he should have been fine; he had just eaten, napped, and been changed.  Except, right around the time when I was getting ready to eat, he decided to have a meltdown.  So there I was, in a restaurant full of judge-y eyes, feeling the “shame sweat” begin to bead up on my forehead, trying to gently bounce him on my knee and maintain a smile as if he wasn’t letting out a demon-summoning shriek.

...basically

…basically

And you know what happened?  My best friend, God bless her, looked me dead in the eye and said, “Hey, you are doing great right now.  We all need to feel validated and I’m here to tell you that you are doing great.”  At the time, I just shrugged, nervously laughed, and mumbled out an awkward thank you.  But as I drove home, with my untouched lunch in a to-go box and my mini-monster blissfully asleep in the car seat, I let her words really sink in.  She saw, as only another woman can, the exact kind of panic I was in.  And she didn’t try to flatter me with superficial cliches nor did she avert her gaze and pretend not to know me (which I wouldn’t have blamed her for).  Instead, she told me exactly what I needed to hear.  It’s not about comparing yourself to someone else; it’s about being told you’re doing great, warts and all.

Gorgeous

Gorgeous

So to all the women (mothers or not) who have validated me, I sincerely thank you.  And in case no one has told you yet, you are doing great.

Why It’s Okay to Complain

Maybe it’s because I’ve lived with health issues my whole life. Maybe it’s because I’m a new mom. Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s not. But I’ve long felt the necessity to stay strong and never complain. Perhaps I felt as if I were betraying all the strong, fierce feminists that came before me. I’ve always thought that if I complained, asked for help, or took a break that it somehow meant I was giving in and letting my struggles get the best of me. Thankfully, I’m here to tell you that that’s just not true. It really is okay to complain sometimes.

It wasn’t easy to allow myself the freedom to complain. Honestly, it still isn’t easy even now. I still hesitate sometimes when asking for help. And when I do ask for help, I’m convinced that the other person is secretly mad that I bothered them. Again, this could just be me dealing with my own issues, but from the other moms and women with chronic illnesses I’ve talked to, it doesn’t seem like I’m the only one. So here are five reasons why it’s not only okay to complain, but it may just be the best thing you could do for yourself.

5. It Puts Your Pain into Words

So often, when I’m having a health issue or beyond exhausted, pain just becomes a part of this unspoken routine. Even before I had a child, I still couldn’t just take a day off whenever I was in pain or sick. If that was the case, I would have been home more days than I worked. So, you learn to just “deal.” But I did eventually get to my breaking point, as we all do. So I complained. And it was awesome! I got to put into words exactly what I was feeling which did two things: 1) it helped me articulate just how debilitating my health issues can be, emotionally and physically, and 2) it gave everyone around me a better picture of what I was going through and how to help. Contrary to popular belief, glaring at someone does not actually tell them what’s wrong.

4. Better Out Than In!

That saying has stuck around for a reason. It really is better to let it out than to keep it all in. When you keep things in – health issues, relationship problems, anger, sadness, etc. – it becomes toxic. And what’s even scarier is, if you hold on to the problem long enough, it becomes a part of you. One day, I caught myself in the mirror and realized I looked miserable. Not sad, not unhappy, not even angry, just plain miserable. I was holding in all this frustration that it was physically manifesting on my face and it wasn’t cute. So I wrote down a list of all the things that were causing me stress or pain. Then I showed it to my husband when he got home. The conversation that followed wasn’t exactly cute either, but I caught myself smiling for no reason the next day 🙂

3. Perspective

Not all the things I put on that list were really stress-worthy. Sure, some issues on the list were serious (like finances and health), but some were downright silly. I wrote “all out of Baked Lays.” It’s funny now, but at the time I’m sure it was a very legitimate thing to be stressed out about in my life. But reading it on that list not only let me see how small and easily fixable some of my problems were, but it also showed me (and my partner) that if you let things build up, it only takes one little thing to push it over the tipping point. That saying “the straw that broke the camel’s back” definitely fits here. And not to worry, I finally got my Baked Lays and all was right in the world again.

2. Healthy Alternative

I’m not suggesting everyone who bottles up their issues immediately becomes destructive, but I have seen firsthand the negative consequences that can come of it. One of the most important things I should point out first, is that this can happen to women and men. I’ve seen both mothers and fathers who never complain, yet they are visibly unhappy and some are even resentful or bitter. I’ve also seen pain eat away at someone until they’re just a shell of who they used to be. Partly because of what I had seen, I knew it was important to me, my partner, and my son that I never let myself become overwhelmed under the weight of chronic illness and motherhood. So if a little venting from time to time prevents you from a life of resentment or unhappiness, then I say it’s worth it.

1. Forming Bonds Stronger than Denture Cream

Believe it or not, giving myself permission to complain didn’t help just me. It was like a magic wand had been waved! Out of nowhere, all these friends and mothers were released from their guilt-ridden spell of silence. Suddenly I was getting texts and calls and Facebook comments and messages from both friends I’d known forever and people I’d just met saying things like, “Oh my God! I thought I was the only one!” or “Finally, someone is talking about it!” I began to forge new friendships and strengthen existing ones by simply “complaining” on social media about how real the struggle of balancing motherhood with chronic illness can be. So if you haven’t already, be the first person to break the “Guilt and Silence Spell” and enjoy the deep sense of camaraderie that you will find among friends new and old.

What Your Parenting Style Says About You

In our four-part series on parenting styles, we looked at four very different kinds of moms.  We talked about everything from being super-strict (like the Helicopter Mom) to ultra-lenient (like the Laid-Back Mom) and hippies (like Crunchy Mamas) to geeks (like Techie Mommies).  And whether you identify fully with one style or just pick out a couple of similarities, it says something about you.  So what does it all mean?

Besides the obvious judging, of course

Besides the obvious judging, of course

 

Let’s take it back a bit first.  The whole idea for a series about different kinds of parenting came about in a rather serendipitous way.  I was at a local mommy & me type play place and couldn’t help but notice that there were so many different kinds of moms there – moms on their phones, moms hovering, moms talking about amber necklaces, moms “asking” their kids to obey, etc.  And it got me thinking: where do these habits come from?  Are we just carbon copies of our own childhood, mirroring our parents?  Is it instinct?  Or is it a combination?

It's confusing, I know, but bear with me

It’s confusing, I know, but bear with me

I think we can’t help but bring some of our experiences into the process of parenting.  If you were raised never to eat meat, and you continued that lifestyle into adulthood, then chances are you’re probably going to pass that on to your children, too.  Yet I also remember poring over countless books and online articles during my pregnancy, bound and determined to learn everything I could to raise the most perfect, well-rounded little person… and then I clearly remember forgetting everything I ever read or experienced the moment I held my son on my chest for the first time.

Similar reaction, basically

Similar reaction, basically

So what does it all mean?  Obviously I’m not a doctor or an expert by any stretch of the imagination (unless you count my own, then yes), but I believe that all mothers instinctively want what is best for their child, and that may mean something different to each mother.  For the Helicopter Moms out there, they show their unconditional love by being a constant presence in their child’s life.  And for many of the self-professed Hoverers I’ve talked to, it’s because they themselves felt unsure or distant from their own parents as a child.  So they have vowed to do the exact opposite for their children by doing everything they can to be there for and protect them.

Not all moms share in the same upbringing or ideology, and that’s okay, too.  A lot of the more “hands-off” or free-range parents I’ve talked with don’t even dig that deep when I ask them about why they parent the way they do.  For them, it’s not something they even have to devote that much thought to – it just came about naturally.  Though they may tend to do their research when it comes to important issues (like health or education), at their core they care more about living in the moment with their child than anything else.

As I finished up the last of the four-part series last week, I was already wondering how I wanted to tie up the whole thing.  And wouldn’t you know it, the idea came to me in the same place that started it all.  Back at the play place with my fellow moms and my baby’s bffs, I stopped (subconsciously or not) putting parents into categories.  I stopped seeing “Crunchy Mamas” and started seeing the beautifully complex women that they always were.

You are amazing, don't ever forget that

You are amazing, don’t ever forget that

So that’s my takeaway from the whole thing.  You may have some helicopter tendencies or geek out from time to time, but that’s kind of the point.  We differ a little bit in our parenting styles, but when get right down to it, each and every one of us just care about helping our little one make it through this crazy world.  What do you think?

What’s Your Mom Style? Part IV

Can you believe it?  We’ve made it to the last “mom style” in our series!  We’ve looked at three different kinds of parenting so far (Helicopter Mother, Crunchy Mama, and Techie Mommy) and now we’re at the finish line!  Last up in the style spotlight is the…

 

Laid-Back Mom

 On the Parenting Style spectrum, the Laid-Back Mom is the complete opposite of the Helicopter Mother.  She couldn’t care less about rules and curfews and doesn’t see why this bothers you so much.  She sees herself more as a “peer” than a “parent.”


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The Laid-Back Mom is the definition of hands-off parenting.  She doesn’t have a day planner and certainly doesn’t worry about filling the calendar with play dates and extra-curricular activities.  Mellow to the max, she also doesn’t scare easily; so unless there’s blood or broken bones, she’s not batting an eye at most boo-boos.  Her laid-back style extends to all areas of her life, not just her children.  If she doesn’t keep her kids on a strict schedule or say “no” often, chances are she won’t exactly be the queen of time management in her personal life either.

cool mom

Partaaaay

Pros:

One of the biggest trademarks of the Laid-Back Mom is that she doesn’t care what other people think.  This can be a great quality to have when it comes to dealing with other parents’ competitive nature.  There won’t be any Helicopter Mother tendencies, like pushing her child to be the best at all costs, with this mom.  Since she doesn’t force her children into anything they don’t want, she is allowing them to have their own identity and do what makes them happy.

Minus the creepy wink

Minus the creepy wink

Cons:

In an attempt to keep everything chill, she avoids confrontation and rarely uses or enforces rules.  A house with no restrictions can lead to a chaotic environment, lacking structure for the child.  The child isn’t the only one to suffer negative effects from an overly hands-off approach.  The Laid-Back Mom can become so permissive that her kids take advantage of her and she will end up feeling like a doormat.  Like with any parenting style, things tend to go south when taken to the extreme.

The Belcher's always know what's up

The Belcher’s always know what’s up

Subtypes

The Progressive Parent

A bit of a mix between the Crunchy Mama and the Laid-Back Mom, the Progressive Parent rejects the stricter style favored by their own parents or grandparents.  With a distaste for anything deemed “old-fashioned,” this mom is all about embracing a more liberal and open-minded lifestyle.  Some tend to err on the side of being a bit self-righteous, and will freely tell you how wonderful and forward-thinking their parenting style is and why you should be progressive, too.

Ohhh gooood for youuuu!

Ohhh gooood for youuuu!

The Hipster/Trendy Mom

Just like the name sounds, these parents are all about the new and the now.  You know the joke “How did the hipster burn his tongue?  Because he ate his pizza before it was cool.”  Well that same “too cool for school” cliché applies to their parenting style.  They tend to impose their own pop culture faves – onesies with rock ‘n’ roll bands on them, quirky/unusual names, baby mohawks, and anything “ironic” – onto their unsuspecting children.  But who knows?  Maybe a new trend will come along and this, too, will be passé (wink wink).

Liz Lemon gets me

Liz Lemon gets me

 

Wow!  We’ve reached the end of our “What’s Your Mom Style?” series!  But here’s a little spoiler alert: next week’s post will have a nice little roundup and review of some of our favorite mommy moments!  Chime in below with what you’ve thought about the series and thanks for reading!

Here's a little Cas as my thanks to you

Here’s a little Cas as my thanks to you

What’s Your Mom Style? Part III

So far we’ve met the Helicopter Mom and the Crunchy Mama.  Who’s the next mom to make it into our parenting style spotlight?  It’s none other than the…

Techie Mommy

Have a parenting problem?  Well she’s got an app for that!  Smartphones and tablets are always within reach for this gadget-geared gal.  In her opinion, there’s no issue that can’t be solved by technology, electronics, and/or the all-knowing internet!

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The Techie Mommy is a lot like The Force: you can either go good side or dark side.  Some moms can integrate technology into their daily routine successfully whereas others let gadgets and gizmos overrun their life.  Either way, the typical Techie Mommy can be seen glued to her smartphone, snapping and uploading pics with her baby distracted by bright colors on a tablet.  The “electronic babysitter” can come in handy when all other baby-calming methods have failed, and she will be sure to tell you all about it, too.  Armed with all the knowledge the internet has to offer, this digital diva is always the first to diagnosis an ailment, know the best-reviewed gadgets, and won’t think twice about shooting down your old-school crafts in favor of her ultra-cool DIY Pinterest projects.

I can't be the only one who feels like this

I can’t be the only one who feels like this

Pros:

Technology certainly isn’t going away, so it’s not like we can pretend it doesn’t have its benefits.  For instance, video baby monitors come in handy for the perma-nervous first time mom and even experienced mommas can feel a little safer knowing their children are just a phone call (or GPS tracker) away.  Technology can also help bridge gaps, like being able to show pictures of your baby to a faraway relative or quickly capture and preserve memories with older generations.  My personal favorite?  The internet allows me to share my motherhood experience with all of you!!! (Shameless plug, sorry)

Aw wittle gwamma and gwammpa kitties

Aw wittle gwamma and gwammpa kitties!

Cons:

Admit it.  We’ve all been to the playground and seen the mom searching for wi-fi, seemingly oblivious of her child’s whereabouts. These parents are so busy plugging in that they tend to check out of their immediate surroundings.  Some studies have even shown that our society’s burgeoning obsession with snapping pics of everything from the sentimental to the mundane are actually harming our ability to remember the event!

Great job

Way to be “in the moment”

Subtypes

The Savvy Supermom

This mom is able to do everything!!!  Or at least that’s how she makes herself look on Facebook.  Her social media presence is well-tailored and every event is a selfie opportunity.  In a given week, she posts pictures of all the tasks she easily completes (“Supermom, able to leap tall laundry piles in a single bound!”), she keeps herself looking fresh and fit (perhaps her Instagram filter helps?), and she and her little one are taking the town by storm since she always makes sure to “check in” at all the best spots.  No one can compete with this tech-savvy, Google-searching, hashtag tweeting, tutorial pinning Supermom!

Fair question

Fair question

The Geeky Gal

While there is a definite difference between the terms Nerd (think FanGirl) and Geek (think Pocket-Protector), they find a kind of happy medium in this mom.  Her parenting style is equal parts “Well WebMD says…” and “Did you see this scientific statistic?”  For her, technology is a definite step forward in the evolution of mankind, so why not use it for all its benefits when tackling the challenges of motherhood.  As passionate as they are about their gaming and obscure pop culture references, they are even more passionate about their child.  But just make sure to never get on this mom’s bad side, because she can ice you out in the digital world and in real life.

It’s a real thing, people

 

 

Alright, so for you folks keeping count, this is mom style number three!  Have we highlighted your style or parenting yet?  If not, there’s always next week 😉  Stay tuned!

What’s Your Mom Style? Part II

In last week’s post you met the “Helicopter Mom” – and her associates, Tiger Mom, Lawnmower Parent, and Peacock Mom – which might’ve felt like looking in a mirror or perhaps reminded you of someone you know.  Now for a swing in the other direction, we’ll be looking at the…

Crunchy Mama

Like the name says, these mamas are as crunchy as the granola they love to munch on 😉  Sometimes mainstream media gets a kick out of making “hippie” puns for a quick laugh, but to Crunchy Mamas, their parenting style is no joke!

 

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Crunchy Mamas can range from the casual, cloth diaper kind to the all-natural, green extreme.  But in general, most of these mamas shun mainstream parenting traditions, reject hospital births and circumcisions, and opt out of processed food and synthetic materials.  They prefer discipline-free parenting, use essential oils and homeopathic remedies, choose home births, and highly esteem breastfeeding and vegetarian/vegan/paleo diets.

Well when you put it that way...

Well when you put it that way…

Pros:

There’s a lot to be said for giving your children a technology free and fruit ‘n’ veggie filled childhood.  Crunchy mamas strongly value health and wellness in their household.  If being “crunchy” means teaching your children to eat well and respect the environment, then that’s not so bad (even if that means poppin’ a placenta pill or two!)

Look at the healthy puppy!

Look at the healthy puppy!

Cons:

Some criticize Crunchy Mamas for being too far off the grid when it comes to the extremes of this parenting style.  Breastfeeding your child well beyond their toddler years, rejecting public school and traditional education settings, and perpetuating a general mistrust of modern medicine could potentially lead to issues for both mother and child down the line.

Dependency is a possibility

Dependency is a possibility

Subtypes:

Attachment Parenting Mama: 

Where the Crunchy Mama focuses on physical well-being, the AP mother emphasizes emotional healthiness.  Even before the baby is born, the AP Mama is already preparing herself by eliminating any negative energy prior to birth.  Baby’s cries are viewed as non-verbal communication to which the mother should always respond sensitively.  Skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and co-sleeping are all trademarks of Attachment Parenting.

A perk of baby-wearing: Adorable costumes

A perk of baby-wearing: Adorable costumes

Ahimsa Parenting:

The Crunchy Momma focus on physical well being and the AP moms emphasize the emotional side of things, but the Ahimsa Mama strongly values spiritual wellness.  This yogi mommy is all about bringing up socially conscious children in a mindful environment.  Ahimsa, popular in Eastern belief systems like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, is a Sanskrit term meaning “non-violence.”  Just like Ghandi, this peaceful parent wants nothing more than harmony and respect amongst all living creatures.

If a kitten and puppy can get along, so can we

If a kitten and puppy can get along, so can we

 

 

So there’s the second installment in our series on the different parenting styles of moms.  What did you think?  Is this “Green” style up your alley or is it too “hippie-dippie” for your liking?  Share your thoughts below and make sure to check back next Monday and see if the new post is more your cup of tea!

What’s Your Mom Style?

Remember the fun quizzes you would take as a teenager?  “Who’s Your Celeb Twin?”  “What Decade Do You Belong In?”  Well I figured we could have a little fun here, too, and talk about our different mom styles!

So each week we’ll look at a different kind of style of “mom-ing,” if you will.  Can we make that a thing?  Mom-ing!  It’s just so catchy haha.  Anyways, in today’s spotlight we have the…

Helicopter Mother

Sure, the term has some negative connotations these days, but it’s not all bad.  Right?  I’m a glass half-full kinda gal, so I like to believe that deep down inside, the Helicopter Mom just wants what is best for her child.  But sometimes she can get a little carried away with her good intentions.

 

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The term “Helicopter Mom” comes from her tendency to hover over her child/children.  She can be overly immersed in every aspect of her child’s life.  And not only is she aware of everything going on with her child, she is equally involved with their doctors, teachers, and the parents of her child’s friends.

fresh prince mind ya business

Just sayin’

Pros:

The upside to so much hovering is that if there ever really is a problem, they will know about it immediately.  An otherwise ignored illness, a bully on the playground, will all be caught and addressed by the all-seeing Helicopter Mom.

MY BABYYY!!!

“MY BABYYY!!!”

Cons:

The children of Helicopter Parents face a potential future of entitlement, inflated ego, anxiety issues, and a fear of failure.  If their parent(s) have been there their whole life, micro-managing everything, righting every wrong, coddling, and swooping in to save them from anything bad, then they may not be prepared to deal with the real world.

"Mom you're embarrassing me!!!"

“Moooomm! You’re embarrassing me!!!”

Subtypes:

Tiger Mom:

I can't help it, I love Supernatural

I can’t help it, I love Supernatural

Deeply concerned with academic performance and fiercely protective, these moms tend to be stricter than Helicopter Moms.  The end result is highly valued.  Success is measured by grades, trophies, and medals.

Lawnmower Parent:

lawnmower mom

…and these moms mean it!

Also known as a Bulldozer Mom, this mom will go to any length to make sure her child never has to face any kind of obstacle or problem.  She will mow down or bulldoze anything that poses a threat to her child, whether it’s making a bad grade disappear or canceling play dates with rough kids.

Peacock Mom:

Your child may have an inflated ego...

Your child may have an inflated ego…

Proud as a peacock, this mom frames every doodle, takes loads of pictures, and fills your Facebook feed with all her little one’s accomplishments.  Not only does she love showing off her own child, she is constantly comparing her child to others.  “Oh your son isn’t crawling yet?  Mine has been crawling for two months now.”

 

And that finishes the first installment in a series on different mom styles!  Stay tuned for the next mom style!  Remember, everything on here is just for funsies and shouldn’t be taken too seriously 🙂  Hope you enjoyed it

How Chronic Illness Prepared Me For Motherhood

Math and I aren’t really best friends.  In fact, we’re barely on speaking terms.  There is one thing that Math and I have in common: a love of Venn Diagrams.  Get it?  “Have in common” haha, oh man, puns.  Point being, a light bulb went off for me recently when I was thinking about how my chronic illnesses interact with my new-found motherhood.  I started thinking about what the two things have in common and how having a chronic illness got me ready for the challenges of motherhood.

Thank you, MS Paint

Thank you, MS Paint

5. Just Dealing with It

Not all of us are lucky enough to live life without worrying about finances.  For me, I worked two jobs to put myself through college.  Looking back, I have no idea how I managed to do all of it.  Actually, I have no idea how I manage to accomplish a lot of things.  But, just like many people with a chronic illness, when I am told I can’t do something, I am just that much more determined to do it.  So you learn to deal with it.  Have to pull an all-nighter to cram for finals but you’re in the middle of a flare-up?  Tough cookies.  There are just some things in life that you really can’t bail out on no matter how much your chronic illness sucks.

If only I could fix my scoliosis like this

If only I could fix my scoliosis like this

And learning to just deal with the suckiness of it all turned out to build up this thing I call a “Stamina Callus.”  Just like you need calluses to be an awesome guitarist (I think?  I don’t know I’m not musical), you need to have a certain stamina level to survive motherhood.  So when the baby needs to be fed and I’ve only had 2.7 seconds of sleep, I can just do it.  Thanks Stamina Callus!

4. Compensating

Compensating, to the average person, means to counter-balance something.  To a person with a connective tissue disorder, it means constantly shifting your weight or changing your stance in order to prevent or manage a dislocated joint.  I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos when I was a teenager, but I had been living with it my whole life, obviously.  Even from a young age, I remember wondering how my T-Ball teammates could just jump off the bench and run on the field.  Whereas if I had done that, my hip probably would have given out and I’d just wipeout before even exiting the dugout.

So funny, but so true

So funny, but so painfully accurate

So bending over to pick up a fifteen pound infant a gazillion times a day really didn’t seem so bad after a lifetime of faceplants.  I already had experience balancing, being uncomfortable, and knowing when to ask for help to avoid a really bad spill.  And trust me, once you have such precious cargo in your arms, you become even more aware of the dangerous, slippery world around you.

3. Sleeeeeep

Clearly nothing compares to the lack of sleep you experience once you become a mother.  But I would bet good money (like four bucks, maybe?) that the fatigue associated with Lupus and other autoimmune disorders could be a close second.  Lupus fatigue also comes with a pesky side of anxiety.  It’s like you can feel it coming on, yet you know you have little to no control over it.  Imagine you are driving a semi-truck on an icy road on the side of a mountain and right as you are about to go around a scary curve, this blindfold begins to descend over your eyes and you are defenseless.

Supernatural GIFs are always appropriate

Supernatural GIFs are always appropriate

The fatigue/anxiety combo actually was a pretty accurate test run for being a new mom.  In those first weeks, you’re desperately exhausted, yet every time your head hits the pillow, you immediately panic thinking the baby needs you.  I’m not gonna lie.  That panic is still with me almost eight months later.  I still hear “phantom cries” and get up to check on the baby “just one more time.”

2. Must… Remember…To…?

Have you ever walked into a room and completely forgotten why?  Well, some people with chronic illness experience these “mental fog” states on a fairly regular basis.  With the amount of times I’ve searched for my keys whilst holding them in my hand, you would think I was driving to get the early bird special with my AARP discount.  Not only do we experience lapses in both short and long-term memory, but we can be absent-minded as well – and not in that adorably awkward, professor way.

Totally believable

Totally believable

Long before pregnancy or motherhood had me putting dishes in the fridge, I was bringing the remote into the bathroom.  That makes for a really weird sentence, but you get the point.  I guess I just wasn’t as rattled or shocked by memory lapses since that had become the norm long ago.

1. Time for an Epiphany

Once, when I was walking across the stage at my hard-earned college graduation, I suspected it.  Then, again, after fighting through red tape and regaining my license after seizures, I wondered about it again.  But it wasn’t until I held my child in my arms did I realize my suspicions were true: “I AM A FREAKING SUPERHERO!”  And guess what?  You are, too!  Women living with chronic illness and balancing motherhood are amazing.  We are warriors, we produce life, we rise from the ashes again and again.  Can you tell me how that’s not the making of a superhero?  Exactly.  So go find your cape because it’s about time you accepted the truth that you are an amazing forth with which to be reckoned!!!

Whoooo! Go girl!

Whoooo! Go girl!

5 Confessions Of A Chronically-Ill New Mom

With the past few blog posts dealing with heavy topics such as inability to breastfeed and body image issues, I figured we could do with something a little lighter.  So here are some of my embarrassing, honest, awkward, and funny confessions as a new mom dealing with chronic illnesses!

1. Eau de What??

Some of you may know this about me, but I can’t smell (thanks, seizures!).  This has its pros and cons.  Pro: I can walk by a horrifically awful dumpster and not have any reaction.  Con: I can walk around for the better part of a day with baby puke on the back of my shirt and not realize it.  And if you’re thinking that example sounds oddly detailed, you’re right, because it actually happened.  Unfortunately I can’t always blame my inability to smell.  Sometimes I am fully aware of the pureed sweet potato on the front of my shirt, but I am just too darned busy to change.

Confession: Some days I may smell like a combination of spit up, poop, and old food. I don’t care. It happens.

I'm insecure, so this is what I imagine people are thinking when they're around me

I’m insecure, so this is what I imagine people are thinking when they’re around me

2. Nature’s Napkin

You remember when you were a mom-to-be and you could spend hours on Pintrest looking up cute little DIY projects and clever hacks for life with baby?  Oh, it all seemed so possible and so adorable!  Those were the days.  And then your baby sneezes with reckless abandon directly into your mouth.  Snot happens.  As was mentioned in the above confession, I am often covered in so many fluids, I would make a hotel room on CSI look clean.

Confession: When my son is sick, and he thinks my shirt is a tissue, I oblige because I’ll do anything to make him feel better.

Sneeze away, baby

Sneeze away, baby

3. Back Burner Syndrome

Let’s face it.  When you’re a new mom, you’ve got your hands full.  Slowly but surely, more and more things start to be placed on the back burner.  It starts with not sorting the mail on a daily basis, then leaving clean laundry in the dryer, and finally you’re just lucky if you can remember where you put something.  Some of that I can blame on the “Lupus Fog” or  my memory issues (thanks again, seizures!), and sometimes I’m just prioritizing.  Surprisingly, my house actually stays pretty clean, but I guess I just feel guilty about not being able to “do it all.”

Confession: Laundry and dishes can wait.  My baby’s needs cannot.

Dust it off, boo

Dust it off, boo

2. I’ll Tell You What I Want, What I Really Really Want!

While the Spice Girls may have had more R-rated things in mind, what I really really want is much more G-rated.  I just want to be able to go to the friggin’ bathroom for like more than five seconds.  And I know I am not alone in this, so don’t even try to play like you wouldn’t ugly-cry tears of joy if someone said you could have a luxuriously uninterrupted, hot shower.

Confession: I love every second I get to spend with my baby, but there is only so much my bladder can hold.

How I feel when I finally et to go to the bathroom

How I feel when I finally get to go to the bathroom

1. Silver Lining

Oh you know me, always looking for the silver lining.  This time I really have found one!  I used to get bummed (and borderline offended) when people would assume that because I don’t look my age and have crazy hair that I must be a teen mom.  I even had one older lady behind me in the check-out line make a snide remark to her friend, “It looks like babies having babies.”  To which her friend replied, “I’ll bet you it wasn’t even planned.”  Perhaps their hearing aids weren’t properly adjusted and they thought they were being quiet?  But then I realized, I hadn’t been a teen in almost a decade!  Those crones’ comments were more of a self-esteem boost than getting carded at a restaurant 😉

Confession: When rude people think I’m a “teen mom” they’re actually just telling me I look great for my age!  Thanks, haters!

AND I'M OUT!!!

AND I’M OUT!!!

Why I’m Not A Mom (and neither are you)

No, no, no.  Calm down.  No one needs to call Social Services or anything, my son is very well fed (as is evidenced by his Michelin man legs).  I’m just on my  soapbox  again.  I don’t like the label “mom,” never have.  Mom is a palindrome; it’s written the same forwards and backwards.  I also have an irrational fear of palindromes, in case you didn’t know.  The “M”s on either side of the “O” are like little bookends.  They’re little, mean bookends confining the “O” in the middle.  The word is stuck as it is and can be nothing else.  Yes, I’m writing this on very little sleep.  So allow me to explain, since my previous sentences sound like the ravings of a madwoman.

Ooooh watch out!

Ooooh watch out!

Seemingly, when you become a mother and other people begin to refer to you as a “mom,” the world around you gets a little smaller.  You’re now “just a mom.”  The media isn’t interested in you as a “woman” anymore.  Magazine articles either cater to alluring, interesting young women or to “moms” and their quilting and hors d’oeuvre making.  You find yourself wondering if you should just resign to wearing sweats and always smelling just a bit like baby spit up.  The suggested ads in your Facebook are suddenly about minivans, artichoke dip recipes, and losing weight.

Yes, FB, this is totally accurate

Yes, FB, this is totally accurate

What happened to everything else I am?  I love to travel, discuss religion and politics, sketch, and watch an ungodly amount of BBC America.  I’m still an activist for animal rights, environmental issues, gay rights, and raise awareness for invisible illnesses.  I still shop at H&M, Urban Decay, and (embarrassing as it may be) Forever 21.  Why does becoming a “mom” mean to many that I am no longer that person to so many people I’ve encountered?

I FINALLY GET TO USE THIS GIF!

I FINALLY GET TO USE THIS GIF!

I am so proud to be a mother and so humbly grateful to have received a gift that many women desperately want.  Through all the ups and downs, I would still do it again for my sweet son.  I am responsible for him and to him now.  But I’m also obligated to show him what a strong woman looks like.  What disservice would I be doing to him if I sent the message that once a woman has a child she ceases to have any other identity except that of a mother?  Or what would it imply about women who are unable or choose not to have children?  Are they less of a woman or somehow less caring?   How would he then treat women?  I hope to show him that women can be nurturing yet independent, kind yet bold, and yes girls can like mud and science and Tonka trucks, too.  I hope he will in turn exhibit respect and empathy towards others and strive to be aware of his impact as well.

because babies holding hands is adorable

because babies holding hands is adorable

So that’s why I’m not a mom and neither are you.  We’re mothers, partners, artists, goofballs, chefs, secret-keepers, dancers, nerds, and everything in between.  We owe it to ourselves and our children to be a full person, flaws and all.  Children learn so much about the world by watching what we do, how we act, what we say.  Show them, tell them that you are, not were, an artist or a nerd or a thrill-seeker or a musician.  Let them see all that you are so that they might know who they can be.

They'll grow into those shoes quickly, trust me

They’ll grow into those shoes quickly, trust me