Is A Chronic Illnesses Really A Secret Superpower?

Have you ever had a “light bulb moment” about an issue that completely changed your perspective? I’ve been struggling with the challenges my chronic illnesses present for years, but motherhood was a curveball I didn’t expect. But was I really as unprepared as I thought?

Light bulb moment!

What if…?

 

Today I had the privilege of sharing my story of chronic illness, motherhood, and attempting to achieve superhero status. Head on over to Mom Babble to check out the post and let me know what your “light bulb moment” was!

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How to Survive a Four Hour Drive with a Toddler

Prior to becoming a mother, I told myself I wouldn’t be caught dead driving long distances with a child. I figured I could put off accepting any kind of out-of-town social event until the kid was say, oh I don’t know – how old are they when they stop misbehaving? Oh right. Never. My genius pre-motherhood plan lasted less than two years. Last week my husband, eighteen month old son, and I set off on a cross-state drive for a wedding and I’ve lived to tell about it!

If you want to survive a long, family car ride without needing to call someone for bail money (presumably for assaulting whoever woke your sleeping child), then read on:

1. Expect the Unexpected

Before our trip could even get off to a proper start, I somehow managed to dislodge the right side of my front bumper. I’m talented like that. I’m like ninety percent sure it wasn’t my fault, but let’s not squabble over details. There we were: in the predawn hours, dragging rubber and plastic down the highway, praying to the travel gods the baby would stay asleep while anxiously looking for a safe place to pull off .

This looks safe, right, Honey?

“This looks safe, right, Honey?”

Despite neatly packing snacks, quietly transferring my sleeping son from the crib to the car, and carefully hanging fancy clothes without wrinkling them, I was not prepared for this. So what do you do when the proverbial fecal matter hits the fan? Aside from performing a ritual goat sacrifice, I strongly suggest you embrace the chaos. The more you try to fight against the craziness, the less calm you (and everyone around you) will be. Just try to roll with it – even if you’re screaming internally.

Just breathe in and out.

Just breathe in and out.

2. Breaks. SO. MANY. BREAKS.

Keeping in theme with the previous rule, you’ll need to adopt the mantra “F*** The Schedule!” When the mini vehicular catastrophe was finally remedied (thank you, zip ties!), we were a solid two hours behind schedule. I thought to myself, “That’s okay. We factored in a bonus hour for breaks, so we’re really only one hour behind. I can make that up with clever driving and no breaks. It’ll be fine!” Oh how innocent I was.

So young, so full of hope I was.

So young, so full of hope I was.

A funny thing happens when you try to drive long stretches without a break. Perhaps “funny” isn’t the right word. Pee. Yup that’s the word: PEE. Pee happens when you don’t take breaks and you have a toddler with the bladder the size of a thimble. Unfortunately my seizures left me with the inability to smell (True story! Ask me about it some time) which meant I was blissfully unaware of the urine soaked car seat and horrifyingly wet toddler until it was too late. Do yourself (and your upholstery) a favor, and take as many breaks as necessary. Those with functioning olfactory receptors will thank you.

WHY, GOD? WHY?!?!

WHY, GOD? WHY?!?!

 3. Baby = “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

Okay, this one may sound like I’m a horrible person – and maybe I am, who cares? – but one of the perks to having a baby is that it is the best excuse you’ll ever have! I’m not recommending you lie and say your baby is sick to get out of a party because, ya know, karma. But if you have a legit situation which has created some negative outcome, don’t be afraid to blame your exit strategy on the baby. Just don’t get drunk with power.

drunk with power highlander

It’s deceptively easy to use the excuse too much.

The final key to being able to survive a long drive with your toddler is to not worry about what others may think. Merely showing up in one piece should be accomplishment enough, in my opinion. Yeah, we were late and probably smelled of baby pee, but we MADE IT! The ride back? Now that’s an entirely different story…

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!

Profile:

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!

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