So this is a totally random post because I have to admit something has been going on with my cerebral capacity (as in it has been decreasing at an alarming rate recently), and I just can’t seem to find the time or brain power to write much lately.
The other day my 9-year-old decided she wanted to make dinner for us. She’s always been on the ambitious (and infuriatingly stubborn) side, so she decided to whip together a cheese soufflé. I was busy sifting through a heap of fall festival emails when she was asking me about the recipe. I am 99 percent sure I explained it correctly but when I dropped in the kitchen to check in, I saw that she had never even beat the egg whites to soft peaks. I also discovered our kitchen had transformed into a war zone. The counters were dusted in flour. Every single mixing bowl I own (and I like to bake, so I have a vast collection) was out on display. Shards of egg shells littered the floor. And there in one of the many dirtied bowls was a lumpy, yellowish, and heavy-on-the-flour mixture.
“Where are the egg whites?” I asked.
“I poured them all in to the cheese and flour and yolk mixture,” the sous chef replied with absurd confidence.
“What? Did you not beat them first? Into the snowy peaks I told you about?”
“That’s what I told you to do!”
“You must have said it in your mind.”
Now I am almost sure I said it out loud, but I do feel like a total mombie lately. But I also know this child has many, many positive attributes, but she does have an issue with pride. Nothing is ever solely her fault.
“I think I did say it out loud, but let me ask you this. When you ask me a question, do you sometimes think ‘she doesn’t know what she’s talking about?’ and then just tune me out instead of even trying to listen to what I have to say?” See, I get this feeling a lot.
“Yes,” she admitted. “But that’s just because you’re usually wrong.” At least she’s honest. Brutally so sometimes apparently.
For the record: I have been wrong a few times, but I am mostly right when it comes to my children’s questions and mostly know more than my 9-year-old.
The other day I was working with my fourth grader on her math, and I admit that I did have to read a stinkin’ word problem three times before I knew what it was asking. My husband and I both agree some math problems are poorly written, however.
My daughter looked at me dubiously when I finally started to explain what the problem meant.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yes!” I exclaimed over enthusiastically because honestly I can’t be sure of anything these days.
Oh, and there was that stupid long division problem recently. So I got the wrong remainder. Cut me some slack. I made straight A’s in all my advanced, high school math classes, and I majored in journalism with a theatre minor so it’s been awhile since I’ve had to practice long division, okay? And, anyway, I was trying to teach her math while my 3-year-old was running around screaming and my 5-year-old said over and over in her high-helium voice, “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy…” To be fair, this little one never seems to grow impatient or raise her voice at me, but she just will tenaciously keep at the Mommy, Mommy” thing, and sometimes when I am trying to multi-task like a fool, it grates on me. “Stop saying, Mommy!”
“But I need you…”
Doesn’t everybody these days?
I am losing a little confidence in my brain’s ability to perform as it once did and a lot of the times or just slow, like eventually my brain will get me the right word or answer or sentence. And it’s frustrating because once upon a time I was a witty intellectual/writer/thinker/bookworm who made excellent grades and was teased for being a brainiac nerd. Now I’m teased (by a 9-year-old no less) for usually being wrong.
I blame my brain mush on my hormonal state. Seriously, I feel like my hormones are all over the place. This is the first time in a decade that I am not pregnant and/or nursing, and I’m not sure my body knows how to handle it. My cycles are all over the place. My family medicine doctor wants me to go to an OB/GYN or an endocrinologist to get some tests because she feels I might have early menopause symptoms. Ironically, a few months ago an editor approached me about writing a health article on menopause, but I turned it down, saying something about how I wasn’t ready to think about that yet. Clearly, I am now ready. I am resisting seeing another health professional. I am tired of doctors except the one I’m married to.
I am sleeping as badly as I did when I had my nocturnal newborns, so this could be another reason that I can’t always (usually) string coherent thoughts together.
Regardless of why I am incapable of being as quick-witted as I once was and have had a bit of writer’s block of late, I was recently cleaning up a ridiculous amount of spam I’ve been getting on this site lately and started to come up with all these snarky responses I could shoot back to all the weirdos and bots who make it their mission to spam blogs and websites like me own.
I do have to admit to being tempted to click on the backlink of one such spammer, which read: “Am I psychopath? test online.” But I resisted. I already know I’ve got the crazies. No need to confirm it.
But because I needed a good laugh (I’ve been feeling really stretched thin lately like I am just barely treading water), and maybe you do, too, I’m sharing some recent spam comments, and what I’d like to say back to them (my responses are in italics, and I posted spammers’ comments as is in all their resplendent, bad-grammar glory):
This website is actually quite pleasant.
Why, thank you.
Watch Lucy free online.
Who’s Lucy? I’m not even going to think about clicking on your link to find out.
It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this superb blog!
Really? Why don’t you send me 500 bucks to my PayPal account? My suberb blog and shoe collection will thank you.
It’s very easy on the eyes.
Maybe I should start sharing some pictures of the atomic waste my toddler refuses to release into an actual toilet. That might not be so easy on your eyes.
Hello superb website! Does running a blog such as this require a lot of work?
Nope. Especially when you only post once every 7-10 days per my style lately.
Oil Rig Jobs in Texas.
It’s been nice knowing you, Georgia.
A rolling stone is worth two in the bush, thanks to this article.
Huh? I don’t believe I mix metaphors too often.
Are you talking to me or my toddler?
After reading this remarkable paragraph, I’m glad to share your site with collegagues.
I am honored. Are any of your colleagues literary agents? I am working on an amazing work of fiction and need to secure an agent.
Retro Air Jordan Shoes.
How did you know I used to follow the Chicago Bulls and had a major crush on Michael Jordan when I was around 13?
For a large number of people, being in the sky flying is no big deal.
Whom are these large number of people? I’d really like to get to know some flying humans.
Do you have a spam issue on this blog?
And here’s a good tip: if your bag’s cleaning instructions call for air drying in a tumble dryer, try throwing a few tennis balls in with the sleeping bag. You wouldn’t want anything within your bag poking you in the back, why would you think your dog would.
Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your
blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything.
I wish my blog would eat your second comment as well.
Have you еver considered аbout adding a lіttle bit morе than just youг articles? I mean, what you say іs important and all. But just imagine if youu ɑdded sοme greаt visuals or video clips tօ give your posts mоre, “pop”!
Are you saying pictures of my perfect progeny don’t add enough “pop”? Spammers gonna spam; haters gonna hate.
At all times follow your heart.
Awww. Thank you for that wisdom. I’ve never heard that before.
The storyline reaches a heart wrenching climax, filled with the grief of separation and regret, yet supports the commitment of ever new origins and ongoing cycles of cosmic becoming.
You really should read William Strunk and E.B. White’s The Elements of Style. You’re no Faulkner, and sometimes less really is more.
I-a on’tday eakspay ouryay anguagelay, ubay I-a eakspay igpay atinlay.
God Bless you man.
I’m a woman.
Shopping for a nfl jersey?
Actually, I’m not, but thanks. I am usually found shopping for baby wipes, groceries, and an occasional pair of chic shoes.
“Competition is a laborious fixation, except it produces vast results.”
If you say so.
My family members every time say that I am killing my time here at net, except I know I am getting know-how everyday by reading such good content.
I’m tempted to judge you for allowing yourself to be sucked into the black hole of social media, but I am actually killing time responding to ridiculous spammers such as yourself, so we’ll call it even.
It doesnt seem like it would be very difficult to see who’s using it, if you get our drift. All joking aside, for a moment, viagra benefits aren’t just limited to the bedroom; athletes have found that it assists in blood flow, which helps in getting oxygen around the body faster and aids in endurance.
Think it could help with my hip and hamstring?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on detachment. Regards.
How about detaching yourself from spamming?
Hello i am kavin, its my first occasion to commenting anywhere,
I don’t belive you, Kavin. I think you comment everywhere you can.
You are so awesome!
I don’t even understand how I ended up here.
Neither do I.
If possible, you should drink water in a silver glass.
You learn something new every day.
Hello, I want to subscribe for this webpage to take hottest updates.
You might want to try another Kate Wicker. The only thing hot around here is the load in my toddler’s diaper right about now.
Frozen shoulder therapy is a very inexpensive remedy for tthe condition. Now-a-days, when technology seeems too makei mpossible possible, Halal food lovers can get their stuff, without moving out of their houses. After striking the frozen ground, the rain droplets freeze instantly and sheen the area with a thin layer of ice.
I don’t understand you, but do you know anything about Ebola droplets?
Shame on Google for not positioning this put up higher!
That’s right, Google. Did you hear that? Shame on you for placing Kate Winslet over Kate Wicker when people search “Kate Wi…”
Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept talking about this. I am going to forward this article to him. Fairly certain he’s going to
have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!
(NOTE: This comment appeared in the spam folder after my “top 10 reasons to nurse a toddler” post)
Really? Your male roommate constantly talked about nursing toddlers?
Ԝe are the leading movers and packеrs in Mumƅai India.
I’ll add you to my Rolodex in case we ever decide to move to Asia.
What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience concerning unexpected emotions.
What he said.
I have been surfing online more than 2 hours today. Yet, I never found any interesting article like yours.
Get a life.
Ridiculous quest there. What happened after?
(NOTE: posted after “snowy day art”)
We had some hot cocoa, and my toddler almost got frostbite running outside naked. Talk about a ridiculous quest.
Undeniably believe that which you stated.
Write more, thats all I have to say.
Use better punctuation; that’s all I have to say.
Rest and take a rest.
your views are nice for new people.
What about old people?
Simply too Chaotic To Control?
If you’re talking about my children, then, yes.
We definitely need more smart people like you around.
I won’t argue with that.
Do you have any video of that?
(NOTE: posted after “this is what extended breastfeeding really looks like”)
But one of the trends in San Francisco nowadays is the Speed Dating.
Lucky for me I live in Georgia and am married.
You’ve got terrific info these.
Hopefully, my info is better than your grammar.
Alakazaam-information found, problem solved, thanks!
You’re welcome. I wish my kids were as easy to please.
to lose weight and get rid of all the excess fat they have on their bodies
You do know the name of my book is Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body and that I’m not a fan of diets.
You can not continue to function in today’s society with replacing lackluster appearance.
I function just fine taking a shower every third day, thank you very much.
How To Dress Techno These days
I’m thinking boho chic migh be more suitable for a suburban at-home mom.
you may be a great author
What’s with this “may be”?
Everything typed made a ton of sense. However, think on this, what if you added a little content? I am not suggesting your content is not
solid, but what if youu added something that makes people want more? I mean Just Popping In | Kate Wicker is a
If you don’t have something nice to say, then how about not saying anything at all?
Please let me know if you’re looking ffor a writer for yojr site. Youu have some really great posts and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write somke material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me aan e-mail if interested. Cheers!
If I was looking for a writer, it wouldn’t be you. Ever heard of Spell Check?
Now that your surgery is approaching get a manicure, pedicure and haircut.
If I do end up getting hip surgery, I’ll take your advice into consideration.
You’re so interesting!
Most people who have a blog think they’re pretty interesting.
This is very interesting, You are a very skilled phorumger.
I don’t think phorumger is a word.
The next step up the ladder is chardonnay.
I prefer Malbec.
Minecraft also includes monsters that attack mostly at night from which you have to shelter from to stay alive.
I still don’t understand what Minecraft is.
Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your blog?
My blog site is in the very same niche as yours and my users would truly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please llet me know if this ook wirh you. Regards!
Really? Soda Shop India [backlink included with comment] targets moms, Catholics, and/or those seeking a positive body image? Who knew?
The person who wrote post is actually Preston.
Um, no it’s wasn’t.
You’re very intelligent.
I’m glad someone thinks so.
I know it’s been pretty quiet around here, and I still haven’t gotten around to posting a birthday letter to my wild man (tsk, tsk). I’ve just been so busy. I’ve had a few speaking engagements (one is this Friday, and I am so looking forward to the mom retreat), which are always such a joy but also require a hefty chunk of time. I am team manager for my oldest daughter’s soccer team. Three out of four kids are playing the sport this year, so there’s all that soccer schlepping. I’m not sure when I became such a soccer mom, but I am trying to embrace it. I’m also volunteering at the older girls’ school occasionally and am trying to teach the child I am homeschooling more than Look-at-Mommy-try-to-control-little-brother-unsuccessfully–yet-again. Yes, Todzilla remains a loud, physical challenge, but, oh, he can be sweet. Oh, and I landed a fun writing assignment that has nothing to do with poop, parenting, or eating disorders. I am writing about fashion – and loving it! The novel is at a standstill.
I am also traveling to Atlanta almost every other week for ongoing medical treatment. Several more imaging studies have shown that I have femoracetabular impingement (the pincer type, if you’re really interested), which could very well be the culprit behind my high hamstring tendinopathy, more recent hip and back pain, and may require surgery down the road. I am trying to do what’s best for my body and to trust my amazing health care providers, but a part of me is tired of wasting a whole year of my life not running much at all after the partial tear of my high hamstring, which was diagnosed last October. Yup. It’s been a year since all that happened. I bailed out of a race the first weekend of October, but pushed through a half on October 20th. That was my last long run. Sadly, I’ve only been able to manage 10ish miles a week, and now the hip, back, and high butt pain has gotten bad enough that I’ve stopped running yet again.
Like pregnancy bedrest, miscarriages, pining for babies that won’t come, and parenting in general this lengthy and difficult journey has really humbled me.
The other day I was feeling particularly low when my daily Living Faith entry really, really spoke to me. Just when I think all of this faith stuff is wishful thinking, something Spirit-led like this happens to me. Here’s the passage:
Self-emptying to the point of “ouch!” is one of life’s most painful challenges.
To empty ourselves of attitudes that are foreign to the mind of Jesus, to clear out the patterns that limit our worldview, to let go, let go, let go as God invites us: This is the kind of emptying that Jesus modeled. His was a profound surrender, ultimately embodied in: “Not my will but yours be done.”
-Sr. Chris Koellhoffer, I.H.M. Sr. Chris, a sister of Immaculate Heart of Mary, is a writer, spiritual guide and retreat director
That’s just what this injury has forced me to do: to empty myself to the point of a literal and emotional “ouch.” I’ve had to empty myself of my wishes to run or my silly dreams of being a running star when I probably look more like Sponge Bob Squarepants sprinting down the street. It is demanding a “profound surrender” from me, and I am still resisting – a whole year since I was first asked to let go and to accept a path I never would have chosen on my own. I still have days where I cry, days when I ask “why me?” instead of “why not me?” There are days when I forget to focus on all that I can do and the abundant blessings before me. But I am working on it. This long road is forcing me to. It’s also teaching me not only to remain hopeful but to learn to be okay if my hopes are not a reality. I hope to run and compete in races again and to just partake in everyday activities without pain but if that doesn’t happen, it is going to be okay. I am going to be okay.
(As always, thank you for bearing with me and my random rants.)
I’m a big advocate of not categorizing food as “good” or “bad” and also just striving for moderation. I encourage people to not buy into the big, fat lie that being healthy means nothing unless you are also thin and only eat “clean” foods. I know that I personally have to steer clear of fully embracing any new healthy trend that eliminates complete food groups or makes me feel like I am depriving my body of anything. Since I spent so much of my life denying myself calories or delicious food or purging myself of anything that I felt was a “bad” food, my body and mind revolt against any kind of dieting mindset – no matter how healthy.
For example, I have been trying to eat more clean lately, which basically means filling up on whole, real food and avoiding processed garbage that is devoid of nutritional benefits. On the surface, this is a good, healthy decision except I found that I started feeling guilty about grabbing a handful of cereal, albeit healthy cereal, if I didn’t have time to make steel cut oats. Or I felt like the day after I had a glass of wine, I needed to “detox” my body by drinking more water. I have to be on guard against these feelings of guilt because they can backfire on me or send me back down a dark path where controlling my weight becomes my way of grasping the control I so desperately seek. Toddler having more crazy tantrums than usual and leaving you flustered? Well, stop drinking wine (even though it might be good for your frayed nerves), cut out chocolate, eat more veggies (even though the urologist told you your daily, liberal spinach habit contributed to your recent bout of kidney stones), swear off all sweets! You are in control. Look how healthy you’re being. Pat yourself on the back.
Oh, that cookie looks so good. Just look at the chocolate chunks in that sucker. Mmmmmm…. But I can’t eat that cookie. It’s huge. I bet it’s at least 500 calories. Maybe more. I don’t want to even think about how many fat grams are probably crammed into that circle of deliciousness. It looks so chewy and gooey and good. I wish I had a super fast mutant metabolism. Then I could eat it and not have to worry about it showing up later in the form of cellulite on my thighs or as a soft pooch on my belly. At least I can suck in my stomach. Why can’t we suck in our butt or thighs? That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? Your jeans get a little tight on your bum, and you just suck those cheeks in.
Gosh, that cookie is calling my name, and I have been good today. All I had for lunch was a big salad. I did use some dressing though, but it was the light stuff. I’ve been exercising every day, too. Don’t I deserve a little treat? I mean, it’s just a cookie. I could skip a meal tomorrow to compensate for the extra calories. Or I could workout twice in one day.
Maybe I should try on my jeans first. If they feel big, then I should definitely just eat the cookie. Or, I could weigh myself. Or better yet, why don’t I just have one bite? I don’t have to eat the whole thing. One tiny morsel won’t hurt me. That’s the perfect solution. Here, I’ll break off this tiny piece and put it in my mouth….
Oh, my goodness. That is so good. It tastes even better than it looks. Maybe I’ll have just one more bite. Besides, the chocolate taste like dark chocolate, and dark chocolate is good for you. I mean, I’ll be fighting cancer if I eat some more of this cookie. Just one more tiny bite… Oh, so yummy. Well, gee. Now I’ve already messed up. What’s the point of leaving half a cookie? I might as well go ahead and eat the rest of it. Yummy! That was so good.
Wait a minute. What did I just do? I can’t believe I just ate that entire cookie! It’s the size of a freakin’ plate. I swear, I’ll never do that again. I need to go to the gym…right now. I’ve got to burn off some extra calories. I’m so weak. Geez…the stupid cookie wasn’t even that good. It tasted kind of artificial, really. It was too chewy, too gooey.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned – with a cookie.
No more cookies for me…ever. Except maybe at Christmas. And I can have some cookie cake on my birthday. But that’s it. I’m detoxing my body of all processed food starting tomorrow. What’s wrong with me? I feel fat already. I bet I’ve already gained a pound, and my jeans will definitely be tighter. I’m going to go try them on now…
A little funny? Yes. And a bit sad, too? Definitely. And for the record: I have come a long way and my little tête-à-tête on this particular ended with me laughing at my ridiculousness and buying – and enjoying! – the damn cookie.
Perhaps you’re wondering who really might spend as much time as the monologue above suggests thinking about a stupid cookie besides that furry blue monster that entertains preschoolers. I’d bet more people than you’d think.
And even if most of us don’t agonize that much over one cookie, I’ve heard plenty of people talk about their constant struggles with food choices.
Now let’s think about all that cookie and body angst this way: Just consider for a moment what would happen if we took all the time we spend obsessing about what we eat or how we look and used it instead to pray or to think of ways we could simply be kinder or live more fulfilling lives. We may not end up looking like super models, but we’d surely be more at peace.
When I was first married, the vestiges of my eating disorder sometimes surfaced, and I’d start to think of food in terms of my morality. I am a good person if I say no to the cookie and eat only wholesome food. I am a weak, bad person if I, however, do eat the cookies. Whenever I would categorize food as “good” or “bad,” my husband would remind me: There is no good or bad food. It’s just food – fuel for your body. Some of it’s better for your body, of course. Whole grains, lean protein, and fruits and veggies are the premium fuel. But consuming the other stuff – cookies, salty chips, butter and fried food – in moderation won’t sabotage our health – and it certainly doesn’t make us less of a worthwhile person if we like to enjoy a bowl of ice cream from time to time.
There are plenty of people who choose to eat clean or whatever new fad is all the rage and do it with a healthy balance and also discover that they feel better. But there are some of us who have to be careful to embrace too rigid of diet plans. Saying no to an occasional cookie is a good exercise in self-control, but if you swear off everything and have had past struggles with your body image or eating intuitively, it could all backfire.
I have learned that if and when I start obsessing about ice cream or a piece of chocolate, it is best to simply just allow myself a small indulgence and I really savor its taste. On Sunday night my husband and I ordered our favorite Indian takeout. I ate more than I usually do, but I simply tried to enjoy the melange of flavors without eating up a side helping of guilt.
If I start to feel guilty about noshing on something that’s less than nutritious, then I remind myself that the virtues of prudence and temperance are helpful in achieving balance when it comes to healthy eating and living. When we apply the order of reason, enjoying an occasional ice cream sundae or full-bodied glass of wine won’t kill us, and indulging in them every once in awhile does not make us bad or weak. So many healthy eating trends or diets take an all or nothing approach. I’d argue that the dieting and health industry is designed to help people lose weight AND gain it back when they can no longer adhere to swearing off birthday cake on their birthday for the rest of their lives. This way people start to see themselves as the failure while the diets or clean eating or the banning of carbs or the detoxing with juice for three days are the solutions. The weight loss industry doesn’t really want us to succeed. They want us to keep coming back, feeling like big failures.
Don’t believe the lies. Believe in yourself. Believe you have the power to have a cookie for dessert every once in awhile and when you decide to say no to the cookie, it’s because you made the choice, not because eating it would have been a sign of just how pathetic you are.
The next time you really find yourself wanting a cookie or chips or chocolate or whatever you find yourself craving, first ask yourself if that’s what you are really hungry for. Maybe a walk or calling a good friend would satisfy you more. But sometimes having a taste of something delicious is really what you desire and want, so go for it. Give in to a craving. Eat it slowly, and savor the taste, the texture, everything you love about it. And when you’re finished, do not feel guilty. I repeat: DO NOT FEEL GUILTY. Do not think you have to exercise more or eat less tomorrow to atone for your “sin.” Eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so enjoy it!
Here’s an old post from the archives as part of my Recycled Series. I dedicate this to both of my sister-in-laws – one who has recently welcomed a baby into her arms (whom I had the joy of spending a lot of time with on Monday) and to another who is on the eve of new motherhood and also a cousin of mine who recently had her first baby. I wrote this when Mary Elizabeth was just a little nugget.
Recently, I had the rare opportunity to go to the grocery store toting only the baby. She was a happy, wiggly little thing, and I quite enjoyed our visit as well as her many admirers.
Typically, I’m in such a rush that I avoid onlookers. I’m not overtly rude, but I don’t stop to make idle chitchat either. My goal is to take care of my grocery list before one of my kids melts down or surreptitiously takes shampoo off a shelf, pulls it into the car she’s cruising along in at the front of the cart, and starts smearing it all over her body (thinking it’s lotion of course), and isn’t caught in the act until a confused Mom smells mango, even though that type of fruit wasn’t on her list (yes, this is a true story. I won’t fully reveal the guilty party, but she often wears pigtails and exclaims, “I two!”).
But today was different. I had only one child with me. This was easy street.
During our visit we were stopped by the grocery paparazzi several times and received the following comments:
“She’s a big one for almost 4 months!”
“She’s so small for almost 4 months, isn’t she?”
See how fickle the paparazzi can be. You’re too fat one minute and a weak waif the next!
“Well, you’ve got an angel there.”
“Oh, look at that funny hair.”
I swear, I combed it. It has a mind of its own.
“He’s so cute. Errr…I mean, she. Sorry.”
No worries. Apology accepted.
“Is that comfortable for you to have her attached to you like that?”
Yes. Very much so.
Now in the olden days – as in when I was a newbie mom with just one child in my care – I admittedly would have fret over some of these comments.
In fact, I vividly remember when my husband and I ventured out to a salad buffet-type of restaurant with Madeline when she was around the same age as M.E. is now, and an older man and his wife stopped to ooooo and ahhhhhh over our little brawny bundle.
“Wow! He’s gonna be a linebacker. How much did he weigh when he was born?” the man asked, smiling.
I looked at my daughter’s pink and yellow outfit and then back at the grinning and obviously nearsighted man. “She weighed 6 pounds and 15 ounces.”
“She? My goodness. What are you feeding her?” the man asked, still smiling.
“My milk,” I replied, not smiling at all.
“She’s beautiful,” his wife added, probably noting my annoyance with my firstborn daughter being mistaken for a beefy linebacker.
This was not an isolated incident. Everyone use to comment on how chunky Madeline was. I know now I should have been proud of those rolls and extra dimples (they were of my own making and made for a healthy, happy baby, after all). But I used to worry my daughter was destined to a future in the NFL and that it would be all my fault for nursing her too much too often.
Fast-forward four years, and my daughter is tall and slender. But what if she’d stayed on the roly-poly side? What difference? Why was I so hung up on what strangers had to say about my baby?
I wish I’d had the confidence I have now. To appreciate the fact that I was feeding my baby somehow, someway with my body and that she was perfect just the way she was.
While I was a fairly laid-back first-time mom in many aspects (I didn’t constantly check to make sure my infant was breathing, for example, and I nixed the whole idea of having a perfect nursery, didn’t bother to use a Diaper Genie, and didn’t put a call into the pediatrician with a question until she was 15 months), the most innocuous comments could occasionally drive me to collapse into a heap of self-doubt. Was I nursing her enough? Too little? Was I, by subscribing to what experts called “attachment parenting” but what just felt natural to my child and me, setting my child up to be a leech who would be rooted to me like a barnacle for the rest of her life?
How tiresome it must have been to spend so many of my waking hours fretting over others’ unsolicited (and probably well-meaning) commentary about parenting!
And what a blessing it is now, that as more of a seasoned mom (although I realize more than ever with three completely different, tiny human beings who are constantly growing and changing under my care that I’ll ever have this whole parenting thing figured out), to not be crippled by the relentless foray of unsought pearls of parental wisdom tossed my direction at every aisle in one random grocery store visit.
Yes, M.E. is a chunky love. Is she too big or too little for four months? We’ll see at her well-child visit in a two weeks. Honestly, I don’t care what the growth charts say. She started out small, and now she comes in chunk-style – just the way I like my babies. Of course, Rae was on the small side at this age, and she was perfect, too. (Yes, I’m biased. I’m their mother. I’m supposed to be.)
I feed M.E. when she’s hungry, when she begins to stir in the night, when she cries during the day, or when she just wants to be close to me. I take note of her rolls, and I pump my fist in the air in triumph. I have a healthy baby, with strong limbs, who is growing each and every day! I “wear” her as I go about the daily grind. She’s a lovely accessory, and yes, it is quite comfortable to keep her so close to me. She sleeps close by and I sometimes hear her soft sighs and marvel at the wonder of her. I soak up her smiles and watch as her cheeks move in involuntary sucks long after she’s ceased nursing and is sleeping, curled into me. I don’t really care what others think or say about my baby. She is tiny for four months. She is big for four months. Perhaps she’s an androgynous sprite with hair that defies gravity to the casual onlooker. And I wholeheartedly agree with the “experts” that she’s an angel attached to me.
This post is not an endorsement of any particular type of parenting. If you’re new to my blog or are just wondering why my baby appeared to be “attached” to me as I foraged for food for my family at the grocery store, attachment parenting, or some semblance of it is the ideal I strive for, but I’ve found some of its principles – which seem to change anyway – are not always a constant reality in the trenches.
This is, on the other hand, an endorsement of mom intuition – a gift I believe all women-turned-moms possess. Use it, and use it wisely.
This one’s for all the new moms who – after a trip to the grocery store or anywhere out in public (or even during a click-by on some random new parent discussion board where a plethora of welcome and sometimes not-so-welcome advice awaits) – might find themselves lying awake in bed at night reciting an inner monologue of self-doubt about their mothering. Silence the inner critic. Once you become a parent, it is a waste of precious energy to seek popular acclaim from the experts and all those who make their public opinions known. Parenting gurus are an opinionated lot, and each has his or her own idea of the right way to parent. If you try to listen to everyone, you’ll end up with confused kids and no firm parenting principles of your own.
Please ignore the sweet old lady in aisle 7 who tells you your baby is too big. Ignore the cashier who says your baby is awfully small. Ignore comment number 7 on the discussion board that says the only way to be a good mom is to do this or to not do that. Ignore the friend who advises you to let your baby “cry it out” if every ounce of your maternal being is saying it doesn’t feel right. Tune out the finger-wagging advice that tells you you’re spoiling your baby by keeping him close to you all day. Be the mother you want to be. Better yet, be the mom you feel called to be. Smile politely at all of your baby’s admirers (they really do mean well), and snuggle up with your little one. Then repeat after me: Your baby is fine, and so are you.
Mother knows best, and you – not the woman who tickles your baby’s toes in the produce section – are your child’s mother. Be secure in your role. Because your baby doesn’t feel more secure in anyone’s arms but your own.
In the aftermath of what seemed like a life-shattering breakup at the time, I would belt out Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” I still have the song on my very eclectic workout playlist, and the other day I found myself shouting the lyrics and building up the tenacity to deal with another man in my life. This one weighs roughly 40 pounds and he’s not breaking my heart, but he breaks plenty of other things: Window blinds, flower pots, wire whisks from the kitchen (he likes to bend anything that is the least bit malleable), big chunks of my hair and his sisters’ hair off the scalp when in the throes of a titanic tantrum, toys, windshields (he did this with his head and was not injured in the least – thank God! Don’t ask. The car was parked in the driveway lest you think he was cruising around without a carseat in the front), etc., etc.
I’m supposed to be working on his birthday letter. Our little bruiser recently turned 3, but I’m spending too much time avoiding unidentifiable flying objects he has hurled in my direction to work on anything productive, and I’m afraid the letter will turn into a collection of grievances against the poor guy. I keep telling myself, “This too shall pass.” This mantra has always helped me get through rough parenting patches, but right about now, I find myself editing the phrase and gritting my teeth while thinking something like this: “This sure as heck better pass soon before I have a nervous breakdown or do something I’ll regret.”
Of course, there are tender moments when my sweet, little man cuddles close, but even his kisses and hugs are fueled with boy-power. I’ve had to remonstrate with him repeatedly to not hang on my neck when he hugs me because he’s pulled so hard, I’ve felt sharp jabs of pain.
We recently went to the beach to see my husband’s grandparents, and Thomas just kept asking, “When are we going to go home? Tomorrow?” He clearly wasn’t digging the change of scenery. He refused to nap, was sweaty with heat and exhaustion, and cried when sand got in his shoes and cried if we took his shoes off. He screamed when he was happy, and he screamed when he was sad. Dealing with his mercurial moods was completely exhausting.
Upon our return, a friend of mine first asked him, “What did you do at the beach, Thomas?”
“I got crabs!” he shouted.
The crustacean kind, of course.
After we all had a good laugh, I told her he had been ready to come home after a day away, so she queried, “Thomas, do you like the beach or home better?”
“Home!” he shouted.
My little boy craves routine and is definitely a homebody. When I take him to library storytime, he’s as still as can be and clings to my lap like a barnacle. But at home, he turns into the Incredible Hulk and plows from room to room leaving destruction or teary, melodramatic sisters in his wake.
My normal discipline strategies aren’t working, probably because I am so exasperated and tired from it all that I am not very consistent. The boy who once fell asleep so easily so long as I was beside him both at bedtime and for naps now pinches my nose and throws books around the room when I try to settle him down. The other day I was desperate for him to nap, so I finally held the door shut while he threw every possible toy at the door and screamed for 30 minutes straight. One day recently I actually did get him to sleep. It only took me two hours of cajoling him and putting him back into his bed. By the time he fell asleep, it was nearly time for me to pick up his sisters, and I was too worn out to get anything done, so I sat on the couch and cried.
It’s a terrible combination: A tired mama and an even more tired toddler.
Yes, this little man in my life is making me cry and cling to Gloria Gaynor’s words: “It took all the strength I had just not to fall apart.”
The saving grace is that he is the difficult one now. Madeline (my almost 10-year-old) is at that golden age where she’s helpful (for the most part, although her room looks like a disaster zone) and loves to be in my company. Rachel (7) and Mary E. (5) are getting along much better than they have in the past. Last year Thomas was easy, but I was having difficulties and stressing out over another child. God really doesn’t give me more than I can handle. Sometimes it just feels like it, but I’ve rarely been in a place where all my children were going through challenging developmental stages.
And I know that it is now – when books like When Your Child Drives You Crazy clutter my nightstand – that the most growth is going to happen within me.
Moms, don’t be (too) weary if you’re traveling down a difficult path right now in your parenting journey. Don’t wonder if you’re the only one who finds a newborn baby, a toddler, a preschooler, a 6-year-old, a tween, a teenager, a young adult, a grown child, a special-needs child, a girl, a boy, whatever difficult to mother. Because you’re not the only one. Wherever you’re at and whatever you’ve been given right now is probably the hardest for you. Maybe that’s the point. What would be easy for you may not be the best for you.
If God is trying to prune us and sanctify us through the vocation of parenthood, then it makes sense that He gives us just the kind of children we need – the kind who will push our buttons and throw us down to our knees and force us to realize that we cannot, absolutely cannot, do this on our own. We need good girlfriends we can vent to. We need spouses or other loved ones to lean on. We need community. We need to take care of ourselves to better take care of those entrusted to us. And we need faith. Faith is what makes our weakness – whether it’s spiritual, physical, or emotional – stronger. We have to have faith that this will pass, that we will survive.
Sometimes we have to simply show up – and to stay put once we’ve arrived even if every part of us is screaming to just go, escape, get the heck out of there before you or your child really loses it.
These are the kind of things I have to tell myself day after day right now as I try to figure out this rambunctious, toddler boy thing out.
I openly admit that I don’t have it all together. I have done things I regret. I haven’t always been gentle and firm. I’ve given up on God many times.
There are moments when I feel like my toddler is winning, but then I remind myself this isn’t a war. This isn’t about who is right or the most stubborn or the most in control. It is about love – the kind that sometimes really, really hurts to give. No, it’s not a war, but there is fighting. I have to keep on fighting to give of myself, to trust that a child who has started to pull our dog’s tail is not destined for juvenile delinquency. I have to fight to forgive myself and my boy when we reveal our raw humanness. At some point or another, we are all scared and tired moms who keep fighting. We are burnt out moms who are overwhelmed by keeping up with laundry and wayward tots or teens all day long, but we keep fighting and giving.
A mother doesn’t have superhero powers or even super patience. A mother is just a person – a woman like you or me – but she does super-amazing things. She is the woman with people in her care whom she loves and sometimes wonders how she loves them because they are driving her absolutely crazy. Yet, she still does love them. She gives, she fights, prays, and works. She shows up day after day for what sometimes can feel like a thankless or even pointless job. And it’s in this showing up minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day that just may make a mother a saint.
It took all the strength I had
not to fall apart