Mama’s Hands

Never underestimate the small moments and simple touches.

My mama’s hands are one of my fondest memories. We attended church 4 times a week. As a child sermons are naturally a bore. I would fight with my siblings to get the seat next to Mama just so I could occupy myself, holding her hand. These moments to her were probably seen as nothing more than a clingy child pulling and tugging in impatience of dismissal. As a mom I often feel these small gestures to also be a nuisance at times. What she couldn’t have know was the memories these long sermons of studying her hands meant to me.

I can recall every nook and cranny. Her fingers, long and lean, her knuckles rather large for her rather tiny framed hands, giving her an almost skeletal appearance. Her nails were filed to a oblong curve, making her slender fingers seem even longer. I would use my own nails to push back her cuticle beds and wonder why the ridges across her nails were do much deeper than my own. You could tell when it was cotton season. She didn’t make it to church as often then, but her hands much dryer than usual. They would catch as they ran across the fabric pew. She would apply more lotion during this time of year; she always had lotion in church. She would let me apply it for her. I remember every bump of the knuckle, every dry patch, the wart right by her nail bed that she didn’t like me picking at.

I would sit in service and wonder if palm reading was real. I would imagine what each line could possibly mean. Does this freckle mean she is happy? Does this line mean she will live a very long time? I would often find myself transfixed with the meaning of each line on her palm before realizing it wasn’t an appropriate thought to be entertaining within our Pentecostal church. 20150626_185947

These memories are so minute in the grand scale of things. However, they are more vivid that any birthday party, Christmas gathering, school event, or game night. These are the memories that I cling to because they do not fit the cookie cutter idea of childhood memory.
I wonder everyday. Will my boys remember my hands? Will they looks back and remember Mama always had paint up her wrists and thumbs. Mama always had fabric dye in her nail beds. Mama always had uneven jagged nails. Mama’s wedding ring was always sideways with chew marks on the bottom. Mama had scars on the backs of her hands. Mama had a faded out tattoo on her wrist.

So while we tend to focus on things like providing our children with the nicest clothes, newest toys, cleanest house, biggest parties, let’s stop and think, “Is this what they will really remember?” Maybe it’s our hands, our face, our hair, even our feet, but the best memories are the ones they create on their own.

The greatest memories come from the small moments and the simple touches.

Dirty little little chubby fingers are the sweetest!
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I’m Never Leaving the House Again… with Kids

I go to the post office at least once a week. I do not like it. I do not look forward to it. My printer is broken so I have no option to ship from home, plus some things I would have to lug into there anyway. My husband, and even friends, never seem to understand the disdain in my voice when I say “Post office” so let me elaborate.

Here is the events of today’s “quick run” to our local post office.

Get up round 9, remember I HAVE to get some things shipped TODAY. Start dressing myself and kids.

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I finally have tire aired up, bottle washed, kids in clothes and shoes, packages together, dogs taken out, carseats put back in the car,  and I at least have a bra on so I can say I’m dressed.

Kaston screams for the majority of our 7 minute drive.

We arrive. Paxton decides he is “stuck” to his carseat. I have to pry him out with magic while holding fatty Kaston. He has to wait for the “magic” automated doors to close so he can open them himself “magically”

Line is backed up, no problem, I need to grab a shipping envelope and label some stuff anyway. Grab what I need, no pen. No pen in the entire post office other than the ones at each teller station which are ALL full. Lord forbid you dare try to fill out anything that close next to someone checking out. People don’t want you to see them shipping socks to their grandmother or returning their overpriced shoes to the seller.

I shove my unpackaged stuff into the shipping envelope and wait. Kaston decides he needs to grab every pile of forms off the counter. 15 minutes of fighting him later Paxton decides he HAS to pee. I try in vain to get a tellers attention, I finally shout out to nearest worker “I need a potty! Kid has to go now!” She then tells me “No, sorry, we can’t let you go here” before scurrying off to the back again

What did she just say to me? MY 4 year old can’t go HERE? I have seen people allowed to use the restroom multiple times. Do they not realize I’m here all the time. I yell back to her across the room of people, “That’s fine, he’d rather pee in your parking lot anyway”

So I leave my packages on the counter and escort him outside. Once situated between my 2 open car doors he decides he doesn’t have to pee after all. False alarm.

I’m irritated to say the least. I go back in expecting the people within to have the common courtesy to let me back in my place in line, if not that then at least take pity on me. It is beyond obvious I have my hands full. Keep in mind I have Kaston’s hefty butt on my hip this entire time.

What sorcery is this? It is literally an entirely different line of people!? What happened in the 5 minutes that I was gone to move the line ahead by 10 freaking people? I waited 15 minutes and only 4 people went through!? Of course nobody cares whether they may have seen me ahead of them earlier, so it’s to the back I go…again.

At this point, Kaston, who hasn’t had spit up issues in weeks, begins spurting spit up like a garden hose. It’s all over him, me, and the counter. I find ONE single wipe in my purse and clean him and the counter best I can. I have’t even shoved the sopping cloth back into my purse before he lets out another wave, This time I manage to catch two heaping handfuls in both hands. I am looking around frantic for any sign of a paper towel. Nothing. I know I can’t even walk to the counter and ask without spilling this everywhere. I am precariously balancing him on my hip and it just won’t work. I have no choice but to say “screw it” and rub what looks like over a cup of warm spit up all down my shirt and pants legs.

During this battle, Paxton has disappeared from my side. I see him attempting to hide behind the card rack. This can only mean one thing; he is about to crap himself. I hurry him back to my side in hopes he can make it just a little longer. We wait another 20 minutes.

The teller finally calls us up, at the precise moment Kaston decided he doesn’t want to be held anymore. Crazy considering he NEVER wants to be put down when we are at home. He has started to go into that wild buck kids do. I’m flipping and switching him every which away while trying to fill out my labels, since I finally have the privilege of a pen. I attempt to sit him on the counter while I dig out my wallet, he wildly grabs at everything. knocking things over in the process. I put him back on my hip. Teller hands me ANOTHER form to fill out and asks me to fill it out to the side. This means I will have to wait AGAIN.

All the while I am trying to keep my eye on Paxton, who is pouting that I made him stand beside me. I notice he has stopped whining which means he is probably trying to poop again. Yep, pretty sure I smell it.

We finally make our exit nearly 40 minutes after arriving. I rush to the nearest drive thru to feed Paxton and pray they have coffee. Taco Bell is the closest thing. No kids menu so of course he is now crying because he didn’t get a toy with his food. My coffee tastes like the beans went through a donkey’s lower intestine before they made it into my cup. $1.79 wasted.

Kaston screams, yet again because he is strapped into his torture device of safety. He manages to fall asleep in the last 30 seconds of our ride home.

I wake him to unload, so he is screaming again. I throw Paxton on the potty to finish his crap. He is now crying and whining because he hates it. I grab Kaston back up and try to calm him back to sleep. He isn’t having it. It takes every song I know and 15 minutes of rocking to get him to stop crying. At the precise moment he stops crying, Paxton yells that he is finished.

Great…. I can’t leave him just sitting on the toilet 15-20 minutes with a crappy butt while I get this one to sleep, but if I put this one down he will start to cry again and I will have to calm him all over again. I choose the latter. No sooner has his butt hit the crib mattress, he is in tears again. I rush to wipe butt as fast as humanly possible and try not to cry.

It isn’t even 1:00 yet. Can I go back to bed.

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Yes I am aware of the atrocious grammatical and punctual errors…. my kids are yelling again… “Ain’t nobody got time for dat proofreading!”

Our Extremely Unromantic “How We Met” Story

Disclaimer: This post may contain adult content.

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Today makes 7 years since I met my amazing husband in the most unromantic way imaginable. I truly thank the Lord that I do not have daughters who will someday, with doe eyes and visions of romance and fantasy, ask “How did you and Daddy meet?”.

I would be forced to lie through my teeth, telling her about candles, flowers, fate, timing, and all that love at first sight bull. That is not even close. This is how it happened.

On Feb. 23rd, 2008 me and my two best friends decided to stray from the city club scene to meet up with one of their moms and visit a hole in wall bar in a tiny interstate town an hour away.

I was 17, a senior in high school. Yes, that is under the legal age but it was high school, a time to be dangerous and have fun. I went out every weekend with my friends to the clubs, but we NEVER drank and we most certainly NEVER went home with guys or brought them home with us. We sincerely loved to dance and be together, just us girls.

Me and my two friends get all dolled up for our night out, not really knowing where we were going. Her mom had arranged to meet us at her boyfriends house near the bar. I have to admit I did not notice Jerry at that time. He jokingly offered me a seat saying “I don’t bite” to which I replied “I do.” And there it was, our first exchange of words.

We all headed to the bar minutes later. I insisted on taking my own car so we could make a swift get away from what I assumed would be a uneventful wasted night. We arrived early to avoid being carded when the crowds hit. Success! I don’t think it would have mattered anyway. It was one of those towns where everybody knows everybody and we were with the regulars.

Within minutes of arriving we started to plan our escape to go somewhere else. Then I saw him, saw him, SAW him. It still wasn’t love, even sexual attraction. He was just cute.

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He approached our table and began asking the ice breaker questions. “How old are y’all?” …”Uh oh, Here we go!” I thought. I was NOT in the mood to be hit on. Wasn’t my thing. When I dropped the “I’m 17” bomb, I figured he would laugh and high tail it out of there and save me the trouble of having to be rude to him later.

When he announced he was 30 I was shocked yet confident I wouldn’t be seeing him again that night. He did disappear temporarily. I later learned he was off downing enough alcohol to justify himself hitting on a 17 year old. Nice… what a keeper. He and his cousins occasional stopped by our table to offer to buy us drinks. My companions were more than eager to take them up on their offer, but I was always the mother figure in the bunch, feeling the need to keep a level head and look out for their best interests. Boring, I know, but I take some pride in knowing I was somewhat of a responsible teen, even when doing illegal things. *cough* sneaking into a bar *cough*.

After about an hour the DJ had already started playing and my friends had decided to stay, with the pleading of Jerry and his cousins. They had spotted guys of their own and they were going in for the kill. I eventually agreed to have one drink, all the while Jerry was charming the hell out of me. He was funny. Funny is my weakness. His smile, why didn’t I notice that earlier? The way his eyes scrunch up, it’s sweet. The drunker he got the funnier he was. No matter how much he laid it on me I was very suspicious. I was NEVER the one to get hit on when my girls where with me. I knew there had to be a catch.

Let me stop here to point out, he was not a sloppy drunk. It was not until later I realized the true level of FUBAR he was.

Things had stayed at innocent flirting until we began talking tattoos… I know, even classier huh? He and a friend pulled off their hoodies to show one another their ink, and there it was. Oh my! Why did he ever have these things hid under his shirt? Arms… ooh sweet 19″, pick me up, carry me home, throw me around, squeezed me tightly arms. Before I realized it, I had my hand clamped down on a bicep..

It had happened. I had crossed that boundary between words and looks to physical touch. Y’all know the one I mean. Where it becomes obviously clear you’re interested. Up until this point I wasn’t aware I even was. As my friends started to migrate to the dance floor for a slow dance with their new found interest, he asked me to dance.

I don’t slow dance with dudes in bars!” I thought self righteously. My friends had abandoned me at the table, he was so sweet and funny, I wanted to get a better feel on those arms, oh what the heck. Why not?

Jerry is short. It’s no secret. After standing from my bar stool I really realized that. I motioned him to wait and removed my 6″ heels then followed him onto the dance floor barefoot. This was the first, last, and only romantic part of this entire night. Being face to face with this man, trying so hard to get my attention, I caved. Maybe it was the lights, the music, the overwhelming amount of tobacco in the air, but something made us kiss. It was wonderful. As somebody who does NOT like to kiss (I know, I’m weird) it was that perfect movie moment.

I, slightly embarrassed, returned to my table with my girls as the song ended, while he ventured off grinning like the cheshire cat to make sure his boys “saw that right there, son!”. Then my girls started in on me.

“You should keep it going”

“We can stay here in town tonight”

“Come on, lived a little”

“Just try it, one time”

My friends where actually suggesting I, me, designated driver, hair holding, mama bear, have a one night stand?! WHAT!? No way! This wasn’t my thing. My thing was to make sure nobody ran off with them and if they did end up in somebody’s truck, I find them and get them home slightly hung over the next day. That was my job.

The night moved on. We had a blast. My girls and I tore up the dance floor, dancing to every song like nobody was watching. Jerry continued to make his advances and by the end of the night he was glued to my side. My girls constant encouragement led me to start thinking really hard about the offer to stay the night. Peer pressure, what can I say?

By time we left the bar he ended up in the car with us. In true small town tradition, we headed over to the only 24 hour food joint open for late night grubbage, where Jerry managed to show off his artistic skills by drawing a rat holding a huge veiny penis on a napkin. His level of drunk was becoming very very very apparent. But hey, I love the arts. Can’t knock him for some artistic expression huh?

The details after this get a little blurry. I’ve read that the brain likes to shut out bad memories so I can only assume that’s what was happening. We all ended up back at the house we had started at. I will save you the gritty details and say this. What followed was most awkward uncomfortable 10 minutes of sexual engagement I have ever experienced. He was three sheets to the wind and I was a nervous wreck. That is the extent of my memory, thankfully.

This is fun? Really? Women do this? Every weekend?” I thought laying in a twin size bed with a man 13 years my senior. I was exhausted from a long strange bizarre day, so I passed out like a light.

Early the next morning I felt him stirring.

He’s leaving. ok. I did it. First, hopefully last and only one night stand is done.”

I mean that’s what is suppose to happen right? They leave, then you avoid the awkwardness of daylight. I waited until I heard my friends stirring in the living room before getting up. Much to my surprise, HE WAS STILL THERE! What the hell man! You’re making this even weirder. It was slightly obvious he may be feeling just as awkward as myself. I assumed in his sober state, in the light of morning, he would revert to being a courteous stranger. That’s how it’s suppose to happen right? Hollywood said so!

No. He ended up pulling me down into his lap.

This guy really likes me? Sober?

I was soooo confused. I was relieved to see he was just as funny and charming sober as he was drunk. Maybe I didn’t do so bad for myself?

We swapped numbers.  I assumed it was the courteous thing to do. As we gathered our things he asked what we had planned. “Heading home I guess“I told him. “you?”

Going to get my kids.” He replied.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR! KIDS! Eeeeew! I slept with a dad! Gross! Not one, not two, but he had 3 kids!

He overheard my friends and I discussing gas funds as we got ready to head out, he then reached in his pocket and handed me a bill. I didn’t think to even look until I got to the car. I then thought, “Holy crap. I just became a prostitute. I just got paid for sex!” What have I done!? My price?…… $10…. Yes whole damn $10.

He still gets an earful about that one. He swears it was the only bill he had in his pocket that wasn’t a $100 and he was just trying to help us with gas. I should have gotten a few $100 for the awful performance I suffered!

Half way home, through all the “omg“s and “I can’t believe you did that“s I hung my head in shame and exclaimed, for clarity to myself, “I just slept with a 30 year old dad.”

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A DAD!!!

He was so charming though. I truly liked this man. I could imagine how much fun he would be and I could even forgive how awful our night together was, just to hang out with him. But Mama didn’t raise no fool. I knew I wouldn’t be hearing from that guy again. He was probably beating himself up knowing out there, somewhere,  was a girl who would always remember his sloppy drunken attempt at a good time.

Before I could make it home my phone rang. He was calling me!? This is NOT how it’s suppose to happen! Even if he was interested, he is suppose to wait 3 days while I sit on edge awaiting his call. I immediately thought, “Aaah, he knows how bad he was. He’s trying to leave a better last impression with his actions this morning

He started to call me every day, multiple times a day. Our conversations would go on and on about everything. I never thought in a million years we would have so much to talk about, being at such different stages of our lives. We NEVER mentioned the events of our night together. It was a short period of time we both wanted to forget as soon as possible. After 2 weeks of continuous contact he picked me up to stay the weekend with him. That sealed it. It was the best weekend of my life until that point.

Sober…. sober was amazing. Totally, completely, overwhelmingly, made up for every horrid second spent in the tiny twin bed at his cousins. I wanted to be with him every second after that. I became physically sick when he would have to leave for work hours away.

In a very short period we became so determined to be with one another, he was driving 4 hours home every chance he got so we could be together. I was skipping classes to squeeze in every precious moment with him I could. It was quite a thing to have my 30 year old boyfriend in the stands at my high school graduation a few months later.

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Graduation 2008

Less than 3 months from that night in the bar, I moved in with him. It was the same night I graduated high school. I packed my bags and haven’t looked back. A month after moving in, he proposed to me. 3 days shy of a year since that night in the bar, I became his wife.

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The rest is history.

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Why You Shouldn’t Expect Me to Visit.

I often feel incredibly guilty about not visiting my friends more. They often make the long trek south to visit us which makes the guilt even worse. So I feel I should explain, to my friends without children or friends with older children who may have forgotten, why it is that you should not expect to see me anytime soon on your door step. I promise it’s not you.

  1. I don’t have the time. Remember prom? We spent hours upon hours getting ready and wished we could do it everyday? Lucky me, I do get to do that everyday! I spend hours upon hours getting my little bunch ready to leave. Only now I look more like the hungover morning after prom when I finally get out the door. Only took 4 hours, but you can bet I have enough gear to survive in the wild a few days!
  2. You live too far away. I use to measure distance in things like miles, minutes, songs, or cigarettes. I now measure distance in bottles. If you live more than one bottle away, I am NOT coming. Here’s what will happen. My toddler will be lulled to sleep by the gentle hum of the car. My youngest will finish his bottle in roughly 10-15 minutes. He will then realize he has been swallowed by a loud roaring robot monster, he can’t see mom from his rear facing seat which means she is gone forever, and he’s strapped down in an obvious torture device. I will have sung every lullaby in the English language and be on the verge of tears when I arrive. Now I will have to wake my sleeping toddler. I love you, but no friend is worth what is about to go down right here in this driveway.
  3. Your house isn’t kid safe. I’m flattered that you lit all your lovely scented candles in preparation for my arrival. Your home truly smells like a majestic unicorn fart, but did I mention my 3 year old caught my table on fire last month? I would love to drink coffee on your lovely deck, but that wood doesn’t look treated and is a splinter catastrophe waiting to happen. My, what a lovely pool! Can we go in now? I’ll just lock every door and window, and block them all with furniture now.
  4. Your house isn’t kid/mom accessible. My youngest can not sit unassisted, which means I will be holding him this ENTIRE visit. You have no bumbo, swing, bouncer, play saucer, or even a high chair. You know what you have? A blanket in the floor. Let’s just hope he developed a sudden love of tummy time on the ride over here. The toddler can’t work your remote, but he is trying. I hope you have your rentals locked because I’m sure he just ordered pay-per-view.
  5. I’m not going to have fun. Believe me, you won’t either. While you are telling me about the fun weekend away you had and the interesting people you have met, I am only thinking about how much I am dreading that drive home. It will be very obvious to you that I am only half listening to what you say. I am constantly interrupting you mid sentence to calm a crying baby or get my toddler out of your refrigerator. By time we say good bye I am both mentally and physically exhausted. I am going to ride home worried about how badly I must look to you with my dirty hair, spit up on my clothes, no makeup on my face, chasing tiny people around your house.

So no, it is not you. I love you. I miss you. If you expect me to visit though, you have lost your mind. Let’s give it a few years. Then I’ll be there, watching you wrestle your kids. Don’t worry; I won’t expect you to come to me, I’ll give you home field advantage.

Dear Breasts

Dear Breasts,

Why? What happened to us, or more importantly what happened to you? I held up my end of the deal. I have loved you, held you, played with you, flaunted you, fondled you, put you a hypothetical pedestal for as long as I can remember. I have spent more money on providing you with a warm supportive embrace than on any other items in my wardrobe.

I have lathered you in coco butter to keep you smooth and supple. During that short clubbing phased, I even let you wear glitter! I have proudly exclaimed you as my favorite attribute, sacrificing the feelings of my eyes and smile. Pushing you high above the appropriate necklines, I allowed you to become my defining feature in the teen years.

Remember our first Mardi Gras? We had so much fun. I let you girls take center stage. I gave you both your moment in the spotlight and boy how you shined. Remember high school? I kept grimy perverse hands from you; reserving you for only those I thought worthy of your awe inspiring fullness…. at least it seemed that way at the time.

When you showed up overnight at the tender age of 12, I did not get angry. I welcomed you with open arms, and it took both of them to keep you up. I forgave you, left boob, when you decided to make a surprise appearance at my wedding reception. I forgave you both of growing so out of control that I can never own lingerie or a store bought bikini. I have always forgiven you!

We were best friends. You were my wing women, helping me to snag up my husband. You helped me to excel in tip earning jobs. You made up for all the things I didn’t like about myself. You gave me self esteem I so desperately needed. I have always loved you, but now….. why have you failed me?

I have pampered, primped, and primed you for the day you would fulfill your one true purpose, your destiny, your meaning in life. I have been the Merlin to you, my King Authurs. I have been preparing you for an important role, unbeknownst you. You know what though breast? Authur pulled the freaking sword out of the stone and united a whole freaking kingdom!

All you had to do?……. Produce milk.

Your one purpose! The one thing you were born, bred, built, created for… milk. Generations of biology and subconscious chemical attraction has led you to me. You had ONE job, ONE J-O-B! I poured my love and devotion into you. Even after every suggestion from others, I never once even considered having you reduced. I supported you and your overwhelming neediness knowing that one day you would return the favor. Lies!

You even let me believe my failure at breast feeding 4 years ago was MY fault! After massaging, supplementing, changing my diet, drinking herbal teas, trying every wives tale and doctor’s suggestion, I learned it was you all along. You made me look weak, embarrassed even, when pro-milk moms would ask why I didn’t breast feed, they would assume I was making excuses or just lazy.

So now I go, to prepare bottles for the $20 can of formula I had to go out and get after midnight. Preparing bottles for my son, OUR son, which you helped bring into this world with your seductive bouncing only to ignore him like a useless baby daddy once he arrived. This is your fault breasts. I did my part. I leave you with this, you deserve every inch of saggage coming your way, TRAITORS!

Sincerely,

One disappointed formula feeding mother with a useless rack.

Ignore all the Hype, Babies are Easy

Babies are easy

Note: Every pregnancy and every woman are different. This is written based off MY own personal experience.  I know a lot of women cannot relate, but I know a lot also can.

For your whole life, especially if you are a female, you have been drilled with the notion that babies are hard. Our mothers and aunts wanted to scare us into being sexually smart, and it usually works. Once we are married or out on our own it is still drilled into us so as to curb our desires for children until we are 100% for certain that we are ready. Nothing wrong with that thinking, but I’m glad to say babies are not hard.

Now before you read further keep in mind when I reference Baby, I am referencing a healthy infant. My first son had so many digestive issues that were not resolved until after his first 4 months of life. Believe me, baby was excruciatingly hard.

So… Now for the bombshell. Babies are not hard, motherhood is.

A healthy baby will sleep the majority of the first few months. They will eat and poop and just want your touch. The late-night feedings are the closest thing to hard they will be. You will be tired and groggy and wonder why that thing is still crying, you just held it for at least 20 minutes! During the day they will sleep, you will go about your chores, budget your bills, do the laundry, only now your stopping to feed, play, hold, and rock baby. I see that as you now have a mandatory sit down break every 2-4 hours.

So where is the negative? Why not just pop out kids to your hearts content?
Because motherhood is hard.

 Delivery.

I am sad to I was never able to deliver vaginally, I cannot speak on the behalf of those who have. I can only offer them an envious glare. Both my boys were cesarean sections. Maybe I am weak, though I have always had a good tolerance to pain or illness, but both surgeries where nearly unbearable.

I was fortunate enough the first go-round to pass out from the combination of an epidural (I was trying to go for vaginal.) and the surgery meds. My second delivery I was only given the spinal. I did not fully go numb and when the doctor began cutting, I screamed. I do not remember the majority of this, thank Yahweh! After my outburst on the table, I was given a sedative that sent my mind on a drug induced adventure that lead me from my home to a delivery table in a strange futuristic sci-fi laboratory. My mind really screwed with me there. I woke up 20 minutes later thinking I had been out for days.

Once the recovery room stopped spinning and I realized my husband was not reading my mind and that I was in fact actually using my mouth to talk, I started to worry. I thought I had been out for days, and I needed to know where my baby was. However, it would be nearly 24 hours before I ever laid my eyes on him.

I couldn’t feel my legs for the next hour and would not be allowed to walk till the next day. Standing up felt like my guts would fall out the hole in my lower abdomen. I vomited almost immediately after the feeling had come back and the pain… oh the pain! Surgery also causes trapped gasses to move around in you. I don’t mean “just fart it out” gas, I mean holding my shoulders because they are the only thing more painful than a toothache and earache combination.

You deal with the gas for a few days to a week then you deal with the incision another 6 weeks. The first 3-4 weeks I couldn’t laugh, cough, sneeze, gag, strain, yell, nothing! I am on week 5 as I write and still have to hold my incision to cough and brace myself for pain when I sneeze. Your doctor also forbids you to drive at least the first two weeks.

Delivery is hard.

Hormones.

From the moment you get off the delivery table those invisible chemicals of destruction set on fire. You think the pregnancy hormones were bad, HA! Now, if your bundle of joy comes out all pink and snuggly, these hormones will bring you tears of joy and elation. Those tears, however, can easily turn into worry, panic, and the realization of what you have just gotten yourself into.

If your bundle of joy comes out and is in distress or unprepared those hormones can send you into panic. As if having a sick child isn’t scary enough, they make your mind feel like it is suffocating under the overwhelming negative thoughts of “what if?” When I first saw my second son, hooked to wires and tubes, I had a brief moment of “I can finally lay eyes on my child” followed by a 2-week long worry of “Why is this happening to my innocent child?”

Our first encounter

Our first encounter

I began to think “What I had done wrong?” blaming myself for trying to induce labor by walking, having sex, getting a pedicure. Nurses and family assured me that nothing would have made him come unless he was ready, it didn’t help. I was discharged and sent home, while leaving my new baby at the hospital under the watchful and caring eyes of the NICU doctors and staff; leaving the hospital with a diaper bag where tiny outfits, blankets and socks, were all still neatly folded in the bottom.

After coming home, without the celebration of baby, I recall being so angry at myself and my body. My first pregnancy lead to me going into early labor at only 28 weeks. I was put on meds and full bed rest to wait out the rest of my weeks. The memory of that failed attempt at a healthy pregnancy and the premature baby laying at the hospital led me to hate my body for not being able to correctly do what a woman is supposed to do. I kept asking myself why, of all things on earth, the most natural of them, I could not do right. That kind of anger will eat away at you.

I began pumping my breast the first day in the hospital, though I could not feed my baby at the breast it did offer me pride and comfort in knowing I was providing for him with the best there was to offer. My supply came in early and plentiful. I continued to pump the entire 13 days of his stay. Driving 2-3 times a day to see my boy and deliver his milk. I remember the pride I felt when the nurses jokingly told me “Please, no more, we have plenty as we are running out of freezer space.” A few days before his discharge he performed a perfect latch. After a failed attempt at breast feeding my first, I just knew this time I had it.

This glory was short lived. After working with a lactation consultant doing pre and post feeding weigh-ins, we discovered he was what they refer to as a lazy sucker. He could latch but couldn’t suck enough out to constitute a meal. It was a downer, but I was okay; I had a great supply and could pump away. I figured I would continue to let him try at the breast, then offer a bottle of reserved milk, and finish off with pumping out another 3-6 ounces. This feeding process took well over an hour to accomplish, but the site of a freezer and fridge full of milk kept me going.

Less than 3 days after he came home things changed. I was pumping less and less each session. My abundance was dwindling. I switched pumps, let him latch more, took herbal supplements, drank herbal teas, even gave beer a try. I talked with multiple consultants and nurses and researched every breast-feeding site and forum I could find. His appetite was growing faster than I was pumping. It took a little over a week for him to burn through my reserves and catch up to my pumping. We had no choice but to drop the “F” bomb… formula.

Now I am not judging anybody who uses formula and there are many reasons why somebody would do so, but it is not for my liking. My first son’s constant digestive issues were only worsened with each formula we tried. I wanted to avoid it like the plague. Sure enough, within 2 days of supplementing with baby number two he went from happy and content to much more frequent crying and wanting to be held. Within the last 3 days I have all but completely run out. He has lost all interest in even latching on. Hormones saw this coming a week ago and crept back in.

That same hate I felt for my body only 2-3 weeks earlier hit me like a semi-truck. The 2 most natural things for a woman to do and provide, I had failed. I wondered why, if I couldn’t do the things that are required of a mother, God would allow me to be a mother. My mind imagined what if? What if he can’t stomach formula? What if a time came I could not access formula? What if? What if? What if? I continued to struggle with the pump in hopes that more sessions and longer session times would increase my supply. I continued to let him latch for as long as he could before becoming exhausted and wanting the bottle. It felt like I was always in my rocking chair with suction on my nipple. I convinced myself it was better for me to stress about providing for my healthy baby than stressing because he was sick without it.

I broke down. I sat in my bath tub, allowing my breast to soak in the hottest water I could stand, massaging and placing them directly in front of the water jets, anything to promote a better flow. All the while crying, beating myself up for failing, remembering the words of the nurse who told me “I really admire you, most give up.” I was feeling as though I would not only be failing my child, but I would be seen as a quitter by my fellow pro-milk moms.

Hormones, they made the worst of a bad situation. All the breast-feeding pages and groups I had joined online were now a constant reminder of my failure. One by one I removed each of them as the constant photos of smiling babies on the breast made me angry with envy. My nursing cover, that laid gently across the back of my glider rocker, now lies in a crumpled mess in the bedroom floor.

Hormones are hard.

Self-Esteem.

I have never considered myself Miss America, but I am instilled with a healthy level of confidence. I can embrace my tiny chin, large forehead, thin hair, pale complexion, and I love it all.

I wish I could say your body has settings like the personalized driver settings in a car. When baby comes out it doesn’t recognize the non-pregnant mom and adjust to her original setting. There is extra everywhere. That adorable belly is now a sagging piece of skin. In some cases, what was once silky smooth now looks like purple and pink claw marks. People will tell you they are battle scars and be proud of them. I’m no idiot; they make you feel ugly. Your hair, though fixable, will sit in a mess on your head because you are too tired to try, or your recovery makes reaching any higher than your nose painful. You haven’t been able to reach your legs, much less your crotch, for weeks and you will hate to see what they look like. After a C-section you will catch a glimpse of your no longer bandaged incision and feel like Frankenstein. The clothes you wore before you were pregnant are still much too small and your maternity clothes are much too large.

It’s one thing to know you look a hot mess, but it’s completely different to feel ugly. When you feel a hot mess, you can dress it up and paint it on. When you feel ugly, no amount of makeup or clothes will take it away. Those same hormones will only add to your already low tolerance for the mirror. The first time I stood up completely naked from my tub, I had no choice but to be face to face with a mirror with full view of the damage. Once again, I cried. Be prepared it happens a lot after baby.

All women want to feel wanted. They want to feel sexy. You see this often in “loose” women; we say they are seeking attention for their low self-esteem. Married women are no different. There have been days of recent I just wanted my husband to touch me. I have gotten internally angry with him after days have gone by with nothing more than a good-bye kiss in the morning. I painted my face, squeezed into the most decent clothes I could fit in. Why does he not want me?! Am I not sexy in his eyes anymore? What am I doing wrong?

Then he tried. He attempted to touch me in a sensual way, and I swatted him away. WHY! Here he was doing what I had been wanting all this time, and I swatted his advances away. In that moment, when his hand brushed against me, I suddenly felt every insecurity I had experienced in the past weeks. “I am gross”, is all I could think. I know I have stretch marks where he use to only feel smooth skin. I know I haven’t been able to take care of my nether regions. I know there is an overhanging belly hiding a crooked and red still healing scar. I know my breast will probably leak on him. I know if I allow him to study my skin and face closely, he’ll see the dry skin, the stress induced acne, the overgrown eye brows. I know I am still limited in my physical activity, and he will think he is hurting me by even the slightest movements.

It is a vicious cycle. Why would he even attempt to make advances if I only push him away? Why do I feel this overwhelming need for his attention to feel better about myself but feeling worse when I get it? Why am I crying to be held but disgusted to be touched?

Self-Esteem is hard.

 Pride and Paranoia.

Don’t lie. We have all judged that friend who asks for a weekend baby sitter more than once in a 2-month period. We say, “She needs to be home with her kids anyway!”. What do we know? She may be with her kids sun up to sun down Sunday through Friday, maybe her friends have finally asked her out again for a kid free night.

We say we don’t care what people think of us, but the moment a stranger compliments your parenting skills, you will change your mind. Nobody wants to be considered a bad parent. We are already paranoid that we aren’t good enough. To be called a bad mother would probably be the biggest injury to my pride. I am paranoid that any slip up will lead me to looking like that girl we are all silently and not-so-silently judging on our news feed.

We get prideful. We are scared to ask for help. The whole time you are pregnant you hear, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.” which should be true but isn’t. If you want to remain prideful, you have to suck it up and deal with it. It shouldn’t be this way. Every parent needs a break, maybe not every weekend but at least once a month would be nice. The minute people hear you’ve left your kids for the second time in 3 months with a relative you become considered a selfish parent.

Like I said, I am guilty too. I think my judgement comes from another place, however. I am jealous. I am jealous that I do not have family closer. I am jealous that I cannot leave my kids without a good cause without immense guilt. Jealous that I feel it is unfair to leave my kids with other people. Feeling these things doesn’t make them all true but you can’t help how you feel. My pride is often too scared to ask for help.

I am paranoid. Scared I will wear out my “help me” card. This fear left me in a quite an odd position recently. My step daughter had been staying with us to help with the new baby. I felt I was asking for her help much too often. I have every reason to need help. Telling somebody else to feed your baby while you cook supper for the family seems ok but still feels wrong. So, when she decided to sleep in one morning, I didn’t want to bother her. She had been helping enough already, and I was worried she would get tired of it. Then the urge to go to the bathroom hit me. After a C-section, straining is incredibly difficult, so when the need to go hits you, you take it and take it fast. It just so happened to come during feeding time. In my prideful and paranoid state, I let her sleep. 10 minutes later I found myself in the tiny alcove in my bathroom, only large enough to hold one toilet and one person. There I sat with an infant in my lap, holding a bottle in my only free hand, a toddler, in true toddler fashion, at my side shoving an empty sippy cup in my face and dangerously close to my infant’s head. With the toddler came his entourage of my small hairless dog and his dad’s 70lb American bully. There the 5 of us were in this tiny alcove when I realized, how am I going to wipe my own butt?

Don’t worry, I made it out with a clean butt and with the realization that I had to overcome my fear of asking for help and just wake the girl up next time.

Pride and paranoia are hard.

Leaving the House.

Baby, like I said, is easy. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Love. His things are not easy. Your infant will only weigh a few lbs., but those lbs. become tons when you are trying to pack him everywhere. So, you have to heave around the bulky complicated stroller or invest in a sling that will make you think you are killing your kid everytime you put them in it. The infant carrier, or car seat, will make your 7lb baby now feel like a awkwardly shaped 40lb burden. I relate hauling around a car seat to carrying a very wide bucket full of water while being sure not to spill a drop.

The diaper bag, you will always over pack it and yet always forget one important thing you need. If you leave it in the car, you will most definitely need it. If you pack it around with you, you won’t need it at all. You will eventually no longer carry a purse period because seriously, who has that many hands.

On long drives you will be ever so cautious constantly checking the back seat, of which you can’t see your child because he is turned backward. When driving alone without a fancy backseat mirror you will pull over just to check they are positioned ok. You will stop to feed your baby much like you stop to feed yourself, because baby is easy.

So this precious few lbs. of easy to maneuver human being is the least of the problem. It is the 800 lbs. of equipment that will make you wish to never leave home again.
Leaving the house is hard.

The Culmination of all this.

After the baby is home, the routine is set, and the new normal sets in, it can become anything but. I am sure if you have made it this far that it is no secret I am suffering from post-partum. There is no shame in it and recognizing it for what it is helps to understand that all these things I feel are not as real as they seem. They are only my hormones playing against me.

I consider myself blessed this go around. After my first pregnancy I spiraled completely out of control. I said things to my infant that a mother should never say to a child of any age. I wrongfully blamed him for all my problems. I did not abuse my child, but I can never take back the way I felt about him. I can never escape the guilt of my lack of affection for him. He was beautiful and precious and perfect, and I couldn’t see it. You never get that time back.
I have but one regret in my entire life; I regret not getting the help I needed sooner. When he was just crawling, I was so busy wrapped up in house work and errands that he wasn’t getting any attention. He started to cry and follow me around the house. In hindsight it was precious. He was crawling all over our big old house following me like a puppy just wanting love. I couldn’t see it. This was the day that I will never forget.

Had I been in a healthy frame of mind it still would have been stressful, but the culmination of all things listed above created the perfect storm. He was right at my heels, crying to be picked up and I snapped. I, an adult, standing feet above him, began yelling. Not just the yell an angry mom does, but the scream of a seriously sick individual. I just screamed, “What! What do you want?! Why can’t you leave me alone!” along with things I can’t even remember. Things I do not wish to ever remember. He stopped. He froze. The look of terror I put on his face will always haunt me. It was a look that caused me to freeze as well. I just stopped. I scooped him up and cried like a baby, apologizing to this tiny child for reasons he couldn’t even understand.

I called my mom as soon as I could catch my breath, “Come now, I am scared, and you need to get Paxton.” I just knew from that moment on that he would hate me, fear me, run from me. I cried for days after the incident. My husband couldn’t understand why, but I couldn’t and still will never be able to express how violently my words came out or how scared, a child that had never experienced fear before this point, looked.

My mom did come, right away. She knew exactly what I meant when I said I was scared. No, I wasn’t afraid I would physically assault my child by any means. I was afraid I would do permanent damage to our relationship. I was afraid I would hurt myself out of guilt. I was just all around scared of being a mother.

I am very happy to say that I did eventually get help. My son had been over a year old before we ever bonded. I have very few photos of us even together though I was with him every day. Now, you would never in a million years have ever thought any differently. He is my world and though he will always be a daddy’s boy he has mommy’s heart as well.

Even if you don’t suffer post-partum, the stress or excitement of baby alone can wear on your marriage. Be prepared. Prepared to be exhausted and snappy with your husband. He is only human and eventually he will snap back. You are both tired, while you suffer from those hormones, he is stressing about providing for a growing family. Dealing with a stressed-out husband can be as bad, if not worse than dealing with a crying baby. Men have needs too and men can become depressed just like women. Keep him in mind they carry their stress much differently.

The Culmination of all this is hard.

My firstborn

My firstborn

So, now you see why I say babies are easy. They are the least complicated piece of a very large and complicated puzzle. Dealing with yourself will be the hardest part of raising your baby. You are creating a person and a life, but you are creating a mother first.

Creating a mother is hard.

Both my boys now

Both my boys now

You’re Only in Your 20’s Once!

After our move I kept feeling like something was still not right. I finally figured it out looking through photos on facebook… I needed a new look for our new life here.  I was raised Pentecostal which meant I always had loooong hair. Which sound beautiful but I was unlucky enough to have super thin, super fine, stringy hair. Around puberty my hair developed a natural beautiful luscious curl. By time I was old enough to appreciate the natural curl it mysteriously vanished just as quickly as it had arrived.

Because of this upbringing, the idea of short hair was inconceivable. I would never!!! The shortest it had ever been was about shoulder length near the end of my pregnancy. I assumed it be easier to manage, it wasn’t. Other than that my hair has been pretty much the same with the occasional pop of red but always brown/black…

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My straight thin hair with my step daughters beautiful full thick naturally smooth hair. NOT FAIR!

Point is, I made the big and brave decision to not only cut it short, but to shave it! Well, shave part of it anyway.

Most people where aghast with the idea but here is my theory. I’m only in my 20’s once and if I’m going to do something extreme I better do it now! 

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This is the photo I sent from the chair to a few close friends and relative. Their reactions where priceless!!!

I was afraid I wouldn’t like the shape of my head or my face would look chubby. Turns out it makes my neck look more slender. Or as a friend of mine said, “like a majestic giraffe”

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My wonderful Hollyn (stylist) was sure to leave enough length on one side to not scare me. She also left me enough to hide my scalp if need be. Turns out I LOVE showing some skin… scalp skin that is. I feel like a total post-apocalyptic badass.

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I was scared shitless. I’m not going to lie, but I took a risk and it felt GREAT! My husband however took a minute to love it as much as myself. He told me I could not get angry if he woke up in the morning and assumed there was a guy in bed next to him resulting in an injury to myself.

So often we are made to feel like long hair is a sign of femininity and beauty. Never imagined I could feel so sexy and feminine with a lack of hair. It’s empowering. Amazing what one haircut can do.

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The girls say I remind them of Miley Cyrus, as many people have also said. We decided to do Miley impersonations the other night. Silver gum wrapper grill included.

What I’m hoping to say here is: if you always wanted to make a change, no matter how extreme, just do it. If your in your 20’s do it a LOT. For some reason people get much more judgmental the older we get. Not that really matters so just do it! Do it! do it! do it!

A Month of Toddler clothes in ONE Drawer!

I don’t hang my toddler’s clothes… ooooh how dare I?! I hate children’s hangers and I hate hanging clothes. He’s a toddler; I don’t think he cares if he has a wrinkle or 2 or 7. The only things we hang are bulky items such as coats, sweaters, hoodies, and dress or special occasion clothes. This does cause a clutter in the storage of other clothes but I have found a system I love and is pretty easy to stick to.

I saw a post at the dawn of Pinterest that suggested packing infant clothes in zip-lock bags when traveling. I thought “Hmm.. pretty simple yet effective, but how about all the time?” ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY!!! The husband can no longer say “but I cant put together outfits like you” when asked to dress the kid. They are all preplanned. Storage is sooooo easy because entire outfits will no longer take up nearly as much space.

Supplies: Box of SLIDER gallon zip-lock storage bags. That’s it!

Note: I usually slack on this in winter as pants and winter clothes are more bulky and a pain in the tit. PERFECT for summer however.

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All this in one dresser drawer! You can even switch to shelf storing with this easy trick.

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Start by trying to gather all you child’s clothes that they actually wear, wash them, and have all together.

Set aside about an hour, give or take depending on how much clothes your child has, to do this. It’s actually kind of fun and once you get it done the first time it will be a snap to keep it going.

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Start by sorting clothes accordingly. I like to separate mine into shorts, collared shirts, and t-shirts. If you have a daughter you may want to do dresses, shirts, skirts, leggings/stocking. I do not like to do pants because of the bulk so I usually store them all together to just grab whenever I need a pair. Here in Louisiana summer we won’t be needing them anytime soon.

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Start sorting into outfits. You will most likely have a LOT more shirts than shorts so I usually pair one collared shirt and one or 2 t-shirts with each pair of shorts. Kids are messy and having a backup shirt is always nice. This is also like having more than one outfit in one bag, saving space! Once you have all your outfits together get ready to bag

Note: I always end up with a couple of extra t-shirts that don’t match anything; these become sleep and play shirts.

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One pair of shorts & 2 shirts.

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Try to put into bag as flat as possible. This usually mean only folding shorts over once. Use slider bags because they make this step so much easier. Close bag leaving about a 3″ gap open and squeeze out excess air. Once you have done about 8 or 9 bags, stack them on one another, each being slightly opened, then sit on em or squish them. This will push out even more air making them even smaller to store. After pushing out air seal bag.

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Voila!

If you have a bow wearing daughter you can include bows that are exclusive to a certain outfit into it’s bag so you always have it together. You can also add socks to the bags so you always have a pair handy when getting your little one dressed.

The Math: I ended up with 17 bags. 14 of these bags had 2 or more shirt options in them. (We’ll say they all had 2 for maths sake) That’s 31 outfits in  a 7″x19″ space. Can’t beat that. Nothing better than walking into your child’s room and grabbing a bag and having an instant outfit with backup clothes to throw in the diaper bag. Even better when we’re going away for a few days. I grab a handful and throw them in the suitcase and he’s set.

To keep this up, keep a box of zip-lock bags in the drawer with their clothes or where-ever you sort laundry.

Hope this was helpful. I promise you this is super easy. I am…well… I wouldn’t call it lazy so much as “unmotivated” and even I keep this up.