some Do’s and Don’ts I wish I could go back and tell myself

Last night I was able to get away for a bit to read and write. It was glorious. Especially after yesterday’s post about how stressed I felt. Then I come home to find my husband planned a get away for us this weekend. Just me and him at a nice little B&B called the Hyatt. Seriously, I love the Hyatt near us. They have Starbucks coffee and really nice rooms. His parents are back in town and he arranged to have them watch the boys. Super smile:)

Before yesterday I actually tried writing that blog a few times but each morning I sat down at the computer I started sobbing and couldn’t stop. Every word that moved from my head to my fingertips was too angry and sad. The purpose of this blog is to relate to others, not bring you down. So last night as I wrote in my journal I started laughing a bit at some of the lessons I’ve learned in my 10 years as a parent. Motherhood is really funny. The things that we moms do for sanity are sometimes downright hilarious. But no one wants to talk about them. So I started looking up, through other bloggers, and books, how women cope. With being at home with kids all day. With homeschooling. Or new moms who don’t get much sleep (let’s be honest… none of us do, but new moms have it the worst). It is so hard to admit that while it’s a true blessing to have children, and I honestly absolutely believe that, admitting the hardships would make me seem ungrateful. I don’t want to be ungrateful. I love my kids intensely, as we moms do, but I am only human. Here are some of the recommended “do’s” that I completely ignored either out of convenience or hours upon hours of research (such as vaccines… I was on bedrest for 3 months and spent the whole time researching the ingredients in vaccines so I’m not a crazy conspiracy theorist, just educated. I spent more hours learning vaccines than doctors do in medical school. They are not to be given all at once in the first 4 months of life unless you plan on leaving the country… there is a much, much safer way to vaccinate… another blog perhaps…)

Being a new mom gave me an excuse to be tired and gross myself out by skipping a shower here and there. The first time I lied down and realized I hadn’t showered in the last 24 hours I felt like a bum. Now I wear that experience like a badge of honor. I gave so much of myself to my baby that I put his needs above my own. I was a real mom. I had post-partum depression HARD CORE with my first, but my family didn’t know the signs or what to look for. I hid a lot of how I felt because I drowned in guilt for feeling disconnected from my son. I felt like his babysitter, not a mom. If anyone should say I didn’t love my kid I would have flipped ’em off, but at the same time I felt like I didn’t love my little boy “good” enough. I stared at him for hours wanting so much better for him. I let my parents care for him because they did it so much better than me. They knew how to love him outwardly the way I was supposed to, but couldn’t. I was depressed for a year. And  then I read Brooke Shield’s book, Down Came the Rain (I think that’s what it was called) and I knew what was wrong. I began researching PPD. My feelings mirrored Brooke’s almost exactly and I had all the classic symptoms. And then I knew that what I had gone through was PPD. I wasn’t an awful person, just a mom who suffered. I thought that moms with PPD killed their kids (and some do), but that’s not it… I never wanted to hurt my baby. It was me. I was disconnected. I was affected by the painful, forced, violent birth. And the long bloody recovery that I know now is NOT normal. I had two kids after that and was up walking around within days. Everything about the pregnancy and birth was violent. My baby, my oldest made me a mom. He was everything good I never knew existed in the world. He changed it all for the better and I could see that through the PPD, from afar I could see the light inside of him. He made everything okay. Thank goodness for him.

I’ve always been very relaxed about schedules. So it would come as no surprise that I didn’t record when any of my kids ate, slept or pooped on those little charts the hospital gave me. If my kid stopped voiding or pooping, I would know. I changed their diapers. I didn’t need yet another thing to do, like to keep a chart. And then I found out later that no one even looks at those things. It’s for the parents. So they would know if something was wrong with their baby. News flash… we know. When my son stopped soiling his diapers, I knew. He was a breastfed baby and I changed him constantly. So when he stopped for days and eventually a week, I brought him to the hospital. I didn’t keep a legalistic chart of when they got their needs met, I only took a worrisome motherly mental note when they didn’t do their normal baby stuff.

Being a new mom gave me an excuse. I could go to the grocery store in my jammies. People had to forgive my confusion over how to use an ATM or park between two white lines. On the flip side, I no longer had people help me like I was a piece of china that couldn’t be broken… like when I was pregnant and didn’t need someone to lift a grocery bag for me, but anyone within a half mile radius would come to my aid. Now that I was a new mom juggling my baby in his car seat, the diaper bags, stroller, and groceries as well as my other two toddlers, people weren’t as helpful as when I was the woman with child. Weird how that worked.

Another observation, or word I wish I could go back and tell myself: only my first newborn will be a handful. After the second and third kid I will come to know the dirty little secret that newborns are a breeze. Compared to the other kids. Also, all of those precious names that I spent hours picking out as a little girl would be nixed by my husband. We would either be naming our kids after Hunter S. Thompson or Quentin Tarintino. We went with Hunter.

Some “do not’s” I’ve picked up through reading other mommy’s blogs are…

DO NOT:

~ Name your son after a boy you had a crush on in high school.

~ Keep the baby’s name a “secret” until born. News flash, Walter Cronkite… none of us give a crap.

~ Punch the parent of a child whose name can’t be pronounced by 90% of the country… in the face. (Again, do not do this.)

~ Attempt to answer the parent of a child coming out of third grade with “learning disabilities” because he’s not reading at level when they ask you if you are qualified to homeschool. Same goes for the parent of a “normal” child (who is a public schooled child because they are normal) when they ask you about “socialization.” Just let them think your homeschooled child is weird. Usually they don’t want to hear the answer anyway… I have found through the honesty and kindness of heart of a mom online that when the word homeschool is overheard it stirs up all kinds of emotions for the non-homeschoolers. 1) Why did little Jimmy’s teacher go to college for 4 years if you can do it better at home? And I only say better because it’s one-on-one teaching… teachers know it’s better and so do parents. 2) “Non-homeschoolers feel that they are judged by homeschoolers.” Which makes me sad. My parents didn’t homeschool and they are fricken’ awesome parents. Most of the homeschoolers I know don’t give a flying crap about how other parents choose to educate their children. I don’t think I am better than other parents or teachers. And homeschooling certainly has nothing to do with my worth. It’s a family decision. Like taking the Christmas tree down the day after Christmas. It’s a choice our family makes because it works well for so many reasons and leaving it up really doesn’t work well.

These are some of the notes and musings I have been writing in my journal. Maybe one day I’ll get to pass it along to my kid and his future pregnant partner/wife. I sure do have fun thinking about all of the funny thing motherhood turned me into or made me do. I LOVE reading about other moms and their experiences as well. I’ll have to link you to some of my favorites sometime.

Have a good week friends.

Love,

Jackie

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