10. 03. 2015

stay at home parent

 

Why is being a stay-at-home-parent so dang hard?

 

All jobs are hard. I think about my friends who hold high-powered positions at high-powered companies. I think about myself when I used to work before becoming a stay-at-home-mom. These professional types of jobs are hard.  As in ALL CAPS HARD. They involve a lot of pressure, unreasonable demands, impossible multitasking and insane amounts of stress.  So why is it that I sit here during nap-time - a period of the day that doesn't exist in any other job - in the comforts of my home sipping iced tea and saying to myself DANG.  What I am doing is really, really hard.

 

It's in these moments of feeling like I'm not really doing a whole lot that I tend to ponder the deeper dynamics of why I also feel like what I'm doing is so tough.  Of course there are the obvious answers. There are many responsibilities involved in raising children and you spend the majority of your time working for irrational, screaming, dependent, demanding and trouble-seeking little mini-bosses.  Your nighttime sleep is often interrupted by multiple trips to check out what's under the bed and to deliver sippy cups of water.  Your day seems like an endless string of cooking, cleaning, feeding, clothing, reading, singing, reminding, reminding again, fixing, reminding for the last time and enforcing. You also often long for adult interaction and a reason to change out of your pajamas.

 

But there is something that makes this job hard in an altogether different way.

I couldn't quite put my finger on it for awhile.  What is this "different way" that makes stay-at-home-parenting so tough (and I don't mean different as in harder than other jobs - I just mean that it pulls at me in different ways)? But then it hit me.  And it was so obvious.

 

It's personal.  It's ALL personal.

 

Being a stay-at-home-parent is investing one's self fully in the growth and maintenance of one's family - one's personal life.  Your main focus and barometer by which to measure success or failure is your personal life.  And when something happens in your personal life you take it personally because, well, it is personal.  And when you take something personally, it tends t0 get under your skin in the most piercing ways.  It hurts you deeply and pushes you far.  When it's personal, what appears to be a fleeting moment of failure can cause an indescribable sting, and permanently burn itself into your heart and mind.  When you're frustrated, angry, overwhelmed or disappointed about your personal life, it stays with you and causes you to constantly worry, scheme, plan and prepare. Yes, you have pockets of time to yourself in this role, but these pockets are filled with thinking, planning and preparing to support everything that is most personal to you.  And at the end of the day or week, you can't clock out of this type of thinking and work.

 

Fortunately, though, what makes being a stay-at-home-parent so hard is the very thing that also makes it so wonderful. The personal nature of this role, which causes it to hurt so much, is also what makes it feel so good.  The joy I feel when things go right boosts me up in wonderfully personal ways.  When I watch my family succeed, grow and thrive - all parts of me glow with pride. These moments feed my confidence, patience and optimism, as well as fill in holes in the unfolding story of who I am.

 

So while it's not always obvious, being a stay-at-home-parent is very demanding and difficult. It will  tear you down and hurt in ways you didn't know possible.  However, the very things that hurt you also restore and uplift you in uniquely wonderful and intimate ways.  So while it's tough work, it's hard to complain about the compensation.

02. 03. 2015
The moment I became a mom, I was bombarded with comments, advice, stories, questions and concerns from anyone and everyone.  I frantically tried to make sense of it all. Was I feeding my baby too much or too little? Because so and so said to do this, but so and so said to that do.  Was I holding him too much or not enough? Because I heard that I needed to do this, but I also heard I should do that.  Sometimes the input was helpful, but it was mostly overwhelming and I often drove myself crazy trying to reconcile everything. After a particularly intense session of questioning and unsolicited advice from several woman, my husband's friend's wife turned to me and said, "what about YOU, mama? How do you feel? I've heard all about the baby but I want to know about you" This stopped me in my tracks.  I honestly had not been asked about myself since I had given birth aside from the "how do you feel after delivery" type of questions.  I had not been asked how I felt about this insanely crazy thing called having a baby.  This question made me really think. How have I been feeling?  Well, now that you ask... I found breastfeeding anything but magical, my body still hurts in places that I didn't know it could hurt, my baby weight is hanging on like I'm still preggo, I have anxiety about going to sleep because I know I'm going to be interrupted a few hours later and my emotions are just generally all over the place.  In response to my comments, this woman did something wonderful - she just listened.  Once I started, I felt myself relax and I remember feeling so incredibly thankful for her giving me the space to vent these feelings.   I think people often fixate on trying to help new moms by filling up their conversations with parenting solutions and remedies.  Or people try to commiserate with new moms so they feel compelled to share numerous personal parenting stories. Or, worst of all, they judge new moms and feel obligated to point out where they think the new moms are making mistakes.  Don't get me wrong, I think there is a time and place for these things (except for the judging, of course) but sometimes new moms just need... space. Space to vent and just TALK without hearing solutions, judgement or other parenting experiences. And this isn't even the single best thing that she said! She's good, right?! Are you ready for the BEST thing that she told me? The SINGLE best thing I heard as a new mom?? Here it is.... Drumroll......... IMG_1804.jpg  

"You are doing a great job."

That 's it. A simple verbal pat on the back. Hey, great job. Keep it up, champ. I can't express how comforting it was to hear those words.  I think new moms crave this type of affirmation.  When you are emotionally, physically and mentally exhausted, and have no idea what you are doing as you forge into new and unfamiliar territory, a little positive reinforcement can be game-changing.  It can be just what a new mom needs to hear in order to boost her confidence as she tries to tackle all that a swaddled and screaming bundle of joy can throw at her. So to all you new moms out there.... Despite feeling overwhelmed and under-prepared, let me tell you this. You are doing a great job. No one is more qualified than you for this job and you are CRUSHIN' it. Way to go.
08. 02. 2015
gluten Free snacks In the midst of a crazy trip to NYC a few weeks ago, I decided to drastically change my 2-year-old son's diet and jump on the gluten free bandwagon. Did I mention we were in the middle of a crazy trip to NYC?  This was clearly the best time to make a huge dietary adjustment.  This is what happens when I'm tiny-NYC-apartment-bound while kids nap.  I end up having a lot of meetings with Dr. Google and learn all kinds of interesting things.  Anyways, the main catalyst behind the change, aside from just wanting my son to eat healthier (because 3 meals a day consisting mostly of goldfish just ain't right), was to help him with his digestion and to get him, um, more regular. I have been giving him miralax for way too long and Dr. Google told me that there is new research out that suggests this might not be the best idea for young children. I also stumbled across some articles that pointed out there are often behavioral benefits to a gluten free diet. Behavioral benefits?? Hmmm interesting, tell me more... Some parents mentioned that going gluten free helped their kids seem more, for lack of a better word, rational.  They said their kids appeared to have less tantrums and just seemed more settled overall.  Dr. Google, this sounds too good to be true.  Are you filling me with lies? Either way, I figured going gluten free was worth a try. So I gathered all of our cheese-its, goldfish (ouch this was a painful one to let go), cereal, pasta and bread, and tossed them in the garbage. I then immediately pulled them back out of the garbage because it was 5 pm and way too cold and late to drag 2 cranky kids to the grocery store.  Gluten it was then for snack, dinner and breakfast, and THEN we would embark on a shopping trip and a gluten free lifestyle. It was tough at first to get a hang of figuring out what products were gluten free. I'm still far from being able to quickly identify gluten free foods, but I'm learning.  But I will tell you this - it has only been 2 weeks and it IS making a difference.  My son is more regular without miralax. WOOHOO, freedom from Miralax!  And I also have to say that it has made a change in his behavior.  Again, it has only been two weeks and I've heard that it takes 4-6 weeks for gluten to exit your system, but I see a shift and I sense more is coming.  I've tried telling this to other moms and I tend to get that "hmmm well that's interestinggggg" response. I can see them thinking that my hippie, organic, all-natural californian side is coming out.  But honestly, this has nothing to do with California.  It has to do with is the removal of gluten helping to improve our lives in several ways. I'm not going to say it's a miracle cure for anything - it's just given us a great boost in a few areas. To elaborate, beyond being a bit more regular, my son also seems a little more plugged into everything, more engaged in activities, wakes up in the mornings and from naps in a WAY better mood and I also swear his language has grown more rapidly now than when he was "hittin' the gluten." I'm sold. Peace out, gluten. Show yourself the door. This is just beginning and I'm excited to see what else might come from this change.  I'll keep you posted, but in the meantime I wanted to share some gluten free products that we have come to love. And by we, I mean my EXTREMELY picky two year old food critic.  Of course we do a lot of fruits, veggies, meats and nuts, but you all know those types of things are gluten free.  Here are some more snack-type products that I didn't know were gluten free or are really good gluten free versions of the real stuff that my PICKY two year old loves. Oh and FYI we get all these products at Whole Foods, Walmart or Target, and take note that this list is a combo of healthier items as well as more "treat" options. * Cheetos - I mean! I gotta start with this one.  Did you know these babies are gluten free???!  Actually, Frito-Lay makes A TON of gluten free products - Check out Frito-Lay's Gluten Free list to see their other products. * Gultino Cookies - My son especially loves the oreo ones.  He has no idea they are not regular oreos. * Utz Potato Stix - interesting and different little Gulten free snack. My son thinks they're mini french fries - sure, I'll go with that. * Fiber one fruit snacks - These have the added bonus of fiber and my son LOVES them. He thinks they're candy. I love when I can trick him when it comes to food. *Craisins Dried Cranberries - These are so good and they have fiber in them as well! *Hershey Products - A lot of their products are gluten free. I like to give my little guy some chocolate chips for a dessert.  Yummy for a treat! *Immaculate brownie cookies - HOLY gluten free these things are AH-MAZING. I "make them for my son" but my husband and I eat 90% of them before my son has one. These cookies are insanely good and I'm VERY particular when it comes to cookies. *chex cereal - Good ole chex - thanks for being there for us.  Your cereals are so yummy you'd never know they didn't have gluten. *Earth Balance Aged Cheddar Popcorn - I love chips, but this popcorn makes me and my son say, "chips, who?" SO delicious. *Arrowroot cookies - These are really tasty replacements for animal crackers. Really good. *popchips - You know when you try to give your child healthy chips and they look at you like oh you're so silly I see right through you and NO I will not be eating these? Well, they won't do that with PopChips. They pretty legit. *Kale chips - My crowning domestic achievement lately - homemade kale chips.  SO easy, really good and super healthy.  All I do is get lacinato kale, wash and dry it, then rip off the leafy part into small, chip-size pieces. I then toss them with olive oil and salt and microwave them on a dish with paper towels underneath and top for 3 minutes.  YUM! Do you have any fav gluten free products??