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Entries from blogs tagged with “mommy”

Finding My ‘Me’ Thing

It’s funny. They tell you that you’ll change when you have a kid. I was always like, “Duh. Of course you’ll change. You’re a parent. How could you not?”

But really, I had no idea just how much changes. As in, parts of you become unrecognizable (and I’m not even talking about the stretch marks and loose skin).

The me I was before I was a mom completely shifted. The spontaneous, laid-back, adventure seeker I used to be was bound, gagged and stowed away. I am now a planner, a worrier and an example-maker. I am someone’s mom.

I'm kind of lame. And to be honest, I’m really not OK with being lame, even if that means I’m a good mom.

I’m mournful for the person I once was. No longer am I the girl who climbs slippery trees and leaps into the river while on canoe trips. I don’t spend hours wandering Target alone just because I have nothing to do that day. I no longer have the biggest potty mouth of my friends and freely throw out every opinion that pops into my head. Gone are the days when I get lost in a book for hours on end.

There are no more impromptu craft projects that turn our house into a wreck. I even cut off a toxic friendship in the name of setting an example for my daughter.

My preferences and wishes are now second to two tiny people who need me. Who are watching me. Who are learning so much about how to live in this world … from me.

It’s a terrifying role to be in. Especially so because these are the two people I love most in the world and want to turn out the most unscrewed-up.

And as much as I love these girls and love being their mother, there are days when I mourn the old me. I miss my carefree days and the adventurous person I was. The longer I’m in this new role, I realize that there’s no way I can ever go back to being that person.

Yes, I’ll be able to read more books and go to Target alone when the girls are older, but I’ll never feel completely OK climbing that slippery tree over a Missouri river. What if I fell and broke my neck?

I won’t ever feel pure excitement at the idea of an impromptu road trip. What activities do the girls have going on? I don’t even think of myself as me most of the time. To me, I’m HJ and B’s mom. That’s who I am. And to me, it’s one of the hardest parts of being a mom.

To live mostly for the benefit of someone else is a hard transition to make even if it’s done out of love.

I love being a mom, but I hated losing “me.”

Things turned around for me when I signed up for a weekly ladies’ night group a few months ago. With each outing, I saw that old me creep back in, even if it was just for an hour or so. I wasn’t there to be someone’s mom and it was an activity that was just mine.

No one needed snot sucked out of their nostril. No one needed a drink refill. It was just a group of other gals who wanted nothing from me, but for me to just be me. It was insanely therapeutic.

That’s when I finally understood why so many of my mom friends now run marathons, start selling Mary Kay, post picture after picture of every friggin’ meal they cook and dabble in photography. That’s their temporary escape and time to just get to be themselves. It’s where they are able to shed the “just a mom” persona and be nothing more than themselves. It’s their “me” thing. Everyone else just figured it out before me. (I’m usually the last to know most things.)

So while I may not still get to be the wild and adventurous girl I was when I didn’t have my own spawn, I’m enjoying this new period of self-discovery. On the docket this summer is a sewing workshop, a pie-making group, and a painting night.

Watch out, Lawrence. Things are gettin’ serious.

Me (before stretch marks)

Me (before stretch marks) by Megan Spreer

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5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Pregnancy

When it comes to pregnancy, people lie. That is, until you’re pregnant yourself. Then the truth magically comes out of people. My cousin, who is 15 weeks pregnant, messaged me this week to say that her morning sickness not only hasn’t gone away like people said it would, but it has now escalated to the point where she’s vomiting. I chuckled to myself at the fact that yet another pregnancy lie was being exposed to her. It’s cruel, yes, but you just can’t know all of the horrible, terrifying, and scary things that happen to your body when you’re pregnant — until you are. Part of the reason is because: 1. You don’t care to listen to pregnancy talk until you’re pregnant yourself and 2. Veteran moms don’t tell you out of fear that the world’s population will plummet in the future.

I’m going to break a rule here. A large number of my very good friends are currently pregnant or trying to get pregnant and I’d feel like a huge jerk if I didn’t give them the tiniest heads up. You’re welcome, friends. Here are five pregnancy truths that no one bothered to tell me before I jumped on the crazy train.

  1. You won't have the “glow”. Nope. That’s sweat. Even in January. You will be hot all the time. I was pregnant with both of my girls through very cold Kansas winters and I rarely wore a coat. I wore a tank top and shorts to bed in mid-winter and still woke up sweating. You will sweat, sweat, and sweat some more. As someone who is normally cold all the time, I thought this one wouldn’t apply to me. Ha! Not so.

  2. Your hair will be thick and shiny. This one is true. Between prenatal vitamins and the hormones coursing through your body that make your head shed less hair during pregnancy, your hair will look fantastic. What they don’t tell you is that just a few weeks after you have your baby, that awesome hair is going to look not awesome glogging your shower drain. For some women, it even falls out in clumps postpartum. Then, you get to have the fun tiny crazy hairs all over your head when it all grows back in.

Friggin' baby hairs

Friggin' baby hairs by Megan Spreer

  1. You won’t be able to enjoy these last months alone. It’s the last time you’ll truly be able to be fully productive and enjoy things that you love like reading, watching your favorite shows, and shopping alone. You know how you’ll spend this time? Sleeping or complaining that you can’t sleep. You’ll be so exhausted from the moment you pee on that stick until forever that you won’t have the energy to do anything you should be doing.

  2. Don’t get sick. For real, don’t. When you’re pregnant, there is a very long list of medications you can’t take and a very tiny list of the ones you can. And even if the thing you take is on the “Okay” list, you’ll still worry that it will cause your baby to grow a third arm. So basically, you’ll just be extra miserable on top of the fact that you’re swollen, uncomfortable and spending most of your time in the bathroom already.

  3. You don’t get to eat for two. Yeah, you’re feeding two humans, but don’t eat soft cheese, cookie dough, cake batter, fish, sushi, cider, unpasteurized juice, chicken salad from the store, sprouts, lunch meat, hot dogs, sunny side up eggs, eggnog, homemade ice cream, rare steak, and smoked seafood. Then, when you find something you CAN eat, you’re only supposed to gain between 25 and 35 pounds. Um, I gained 60 pounds with each child and someone was going to die if they took away cookie dough covered beaters. Just sayin’.

It’s not all bad though. You get to come home from the nine (actually closer to 10) months of crazy with a tiny, perfect person who you’ll love more than you knew was possible. Also? Maternity pants. You wear those babies with pride. They are the most comfortable things EVER. They are my new Thanksgiving pants. Extra points if you know where I got that idea.

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Don’t Be Like Mommy, Love Your Body

I can still vividly recall a conversation with my husband last June. I was sitting with him at a restaurant, barely able to breathe through my Spanx, still carrying 20+ pounds of baby weight and feeling frumpy and gross.

He scolded me for my insecurity. “You’re beautiful.” he told me. And he went on to say that I could weigh 100 pounds more and still be beautiful. “It’s all about how you carry yourself. If you walk around like, ‘This is me and I don’t care what you think’, it’s sexier than a girl who’s skinny and gorgeous, but insecure.”

He then dropped a whammy on me: The way that I carry myself, talk about myself, and think about myself is going to be passed on to our girls. The way that I carry myself should be the way I want them to view themselves.

Whoa, man. I didn't even think about that. He was so right. HJ was already mimicking my every action as I got ready in the morning. From brushing my teeth to putting on make-up, she’s right there watching. She copies it all. I've even caught her checking out her own butt in the mirror.

As a mom of now two girls, I think a lot about how I can help them form a healthy self-esteem and a positive self image in this world. On one hand, there are the Miley Cyruses who take it too far and then there are the girls who develop unhealthy relationships with food and themselves to reach a standard of beauty that is unattainable.

It’s hard. I want them to be confident, yet humble. I want them to love themselves, but not be vain. I want them to have the balls to walk away from someone who puts them down and hold their heads high while saying, “Whatever. I’m awesome.”

The truth is though, it’s hard to teach that when you yourself aren’t built that way. As a ginger (I’m a natural redhead), I got teased a lot growing up. I was pale, freckled, and had a last name that didn’t help that teasing subside (Heffley sounds too much like a Heifer cow to small town kids in Kansas, apparently).

I always wanted to change my appearance. I wanted brown or blonde hair (the societal norm) and tan skin. In fact, I lived in a tanning bed the last two years of high school and now I’m paying the price with annual skin screenings and mole removals. I don’t want my girls to go through that. I don’t want them to want so desperately to change they way they look that they ruin their body.

So since that conversation with my husband, I’ve been working hard to love my body just as it is. Yes, I’m pale. Yes, I have no butt. And yes, my body is even more flawed than it was before I had these amazing girls. But, I’m going to rock it. Because how else are my girls going to learn that true beauty comes from your own confidence?

Plus, someone needs to make pasty paleness the new trend. I’m a trendsetter right here, folks.

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Marriage Advice: Take Him on a Beercation

One of the things that I heard often when Aaron and I first got married was the whole “Don’t stop dating your husband” spiel. “Put him first, kids second,” and “Keep the spark alive,” were also occasionally thrown at me.

Well, six years in, I will honestly say that I suck at this. By the time he gets home from work everyday, my brain is spent. I often (okay, most of the time) just put our marriage on autopilot. We can’t have a conversation without at least 10 interruptions from the littles and our bed is usually occupied with four other tiny feet. A hug is even broken up by a high-pitched shrill of “That’s MY Daddy!”

The spark is black, my friends. A date to us is sitting on the couch at 10 p.m. watching our latest Netflix obsession. RO-MAN-TIC.

It’s hard to put anything or anyone else before or even on the same level as your kids. They are loud and way more demanding. There’s also that instinct that kicks in that makes you incapable of doing anything else but care for them sometimes. And sadly, if I don’t have time to eat lunch, I certainly don’t have time to do anything else.

So this year to celebrate Aaron’s 30th birthday and our six-year anniversary, I decided to go all out. Well, as all out as a couple with two tiny children and a small budget can go. I booked a beercation.

Yes. A beercation. That’s vacation with the "vaca" taken out and beer put in its place. I wanted to take him somewhere where the entire point of our presence was to drink and enjoy beer.

Backstory: Aaron and I met through our shared love of craft beer. I was a bartender at the Lawrence Old Chicago and he was a World Beer Tour member who came in under the goal of trying all 110 beers. We challenged each other to a drink off for our first date. Yes, we're always romantic, OBVIOUSLY.

I decided to book our trip to a very cost effective destination of St. Louis. Plus, our anniversary weekend just happened to also be the weekend of the St. Louis Microfest. JACKPOT. Microfest is where more than 80 breweries get together for a two-day festival in order for people to get a chance to try a variety of beer. We bought tickets for the Saturday afternoon session. For that we got four hours, 80+ breweries, barbecue, and people-watching: It was AWESOME.

We were finally able to have full conversations, eat a hot meal in one sitting, and just be us for 48-ish hours. It was weird, but totally great. I was able to fully listen to things my husband was doing at work and talk about something other than the level of wetness of someone else’s pants. It was nice to see him again as him, the guy I used to laugh with over a Boulevard Wheat and not just my relief butt-wiper, story reader, and baby snuggler.

I think he liked it too. He took me shopping on the way home. I think that speaks volumes.

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Working Moms Do Not Have it Easier

This May marks a year since I left my full-time office gig to be at home with my girls. Granted, I still work (from home), but my life is very different than it was when I was at a 9 to 5 most of the day. There are things that I miss about working away from home and there are things that I love about getting to go to the park in the middle of the afternoon. Duh.

I’m very fortunate to have gotten to experience both worlds. And I can honestly say that I don’t know which one I prefer. There are things that I love and things that suck about both. So before everyone gets all flustered and relaunches a Mommy War over this one, let me just share the thoughts that have gone through my brain as I have been a party to both sides.

When I was a working (in an office) mom: This is so chaotic and stressful. I hate dropping off my baby and being away from her all day. I’ll never get everything done that needs to be done. If I see one more Facebook post from that stay at home mom bragging about their latest craft project, I’m totally defriending her. Seriously, what do they do ALL DAY? Must be nice to just get to play and live in a world of sunshine, hearts and flowers everyday. Whatever. I work, take care of my child, AND keep the house in order. They seriously have it so easy.

Now that I’m a stay at home mom: Ugh. How dare he (my husband) sit on the couch when he gets home from work. He got to go out and be productive for eight full hours and speak to adults. It’s his turn to man the children while I get a break. If he asks one more time what we did all day, I might get stabby. We survived today! No one died. Nothing burnt down. I consider that a success. I can’t wait for (insert random event) on Saturday. I will get to wear non-yoga pants, makeup, and Frozen won’t be playing on repeat for a full three hours. Wait. Did I shower today?

Seriously, guys. Both sides are hard. Working parents are busy. Like, having to wrangle wild monkeys while juggling steaming hot potatoes busy. And stay at home parents have it tough too. Having to do everything everyday for other human beings, while getting them fed, keeping them stimulated, maintaining the house, and not having regular contact with other adults is a brain challenge of epic proportions. There is no easier road. Both sides are damn hard. If you’re like me, no matter which side you’re currently on, you still secretly (or not so secretly) wonder if you’re screwing up yours kids by working or not working. You constantly hope you’ve made the right choice. And seeing your mom/dad friends on Facebook show the highlight reel of their choice just compounds your feelings of inadequacy.

So here’s me saying what we all need to hear: You’ve made the right choice. Yes, you. Whether the choice was made for you based on financial reasons, because your career is who you are, or because you just can’t bear to leave that sweet baby, you did the right thing. A happy parent is the best kind of parent. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It’s YOUR family and only YOU know what’s best.

There. Carry on.

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We Should Really Call it Grandmother’s Day

Mother’s Day is now 18 days away. I didn’t realize how close it was until my brother called on Monday to discuss plans for my mom this year. I’m gonna be real here. I’m dreading Mother’s Day. Why? Because Hallmark, Pinterest, and every commercial on TV have done nothing but set new-ish moms up for disappointment.

They portray an unrealistic expectation of how that day is supposed to go: Mom wakes up to smiling faces bringing her breakfast in bed after allowing her to sleep in. Then they adorn her with presents, hugs, and I love yous. She spends the day just basking in the glow of being a mom and her perfect tiny creatures who do nothing but rain sunshine and sparkles on her all day.

I call B.S.

Reality: Dad is still sleeping when Mom awakes to the baby crying because he doesn’t hear her. Mom then feeds the kids a breakfast of cold cereal and dresses in whatever still smells good and doesn’t have something crusted on the sleeve. The kids may hand her a handmade card or a macaroni necklace (which she loves regardless of the level of ugly it is). If the husband is really good, he’ll get her a spa day, but most of the time, that only happens on TV. The rest of the day is spent shuffling around to visit the grandmas. When dinner rolls around and the family gets hungry, they’ve already forgotten that it’s Mother’s Day and ask Mom what’s for dinner.

It’s not the husband’s fault. You’re not HIS mother. It’s not the kids’ fault. They don’t know what the heck is going on or that it’s anything other than Sunday. It’s the greeting card companies’ fault and all those lying commercials on TV. And that’s precisely why I spent a small portion of last Mother’s Day crying on the couch. These friggin’ companies are marketing to the wrong people. Don’t give moms unrealistic expectations of Mother’s Day! We’re the ones paying attention to that commercial, not our husbands and kids! Stop it! Flowers, jewelry, tear-jerker cards? Unless a miracle happens and my almost three-year-old learns how to order and buy these things, it isn’t happening.

We’ve totally just labeled this day incorrectly. Let’s call it what it is: Grandmother’s Day. Because let’s be honest, the only people who are going to get properly adored and pampered that day are the ones with kids old enough to have their own money and know better.

I’ve spoken to several moms of young children and almost all of them said their last Mother’s Day was lackluster. Not in a bad, bitter way. They weren’t complaining. They just said, “Eh. It was just another day. We went out to eat. That was nice, except for the hour-long wait.”

So this year, I decided to help my husband dodge a bullet. I told him to get me a bottle of my favorite perfume, make plans for dinner (it can even be pizza) and we’ll call it good. I’ll just plan to spend the day thanking my mom (and his) and apologizing for all the years of craptastic Mother’s Days we subjected her to.

What does Mother’s Day look like at your house? If it looks like a Hallmark commercial, I'll give you my husband's email address.

Grandma and Baby HJ

Grandma and Baby HJ by Megan Spreer

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Excuse Me While I Breastfeed My Seven-Year-Old

I still remember the day very vividly. I was waiting tables at the Lawrence Old Chicago (may it rest in peace) and I walked up to my first table of the day to take their drink orders. When I looked down, I was horrified to see a mom openly breastfeeding her toddler. Not only had I rarely, if ever, seen a woman breastfeed so freely out in public, but I had NEVER witnessed a mom breastfeed a child old enough to ask for it... with words.

I was shocked, disgusted and downright offended. I was sure this woman was mentally scarring her child. She was a negligent mother and I was sure of it (Of course, as a 22-year-old, I had EVERYTHING figured out).

Now, I’m her. Well, not exactly her, but in the same species. It’s just one of the many things that switched in my head when I had my own children. I rarely use a cover now. I only go to a back room if I know it will make the people I’m around very uncomfortable. B is past the age of one and I don't see us stopping any time soon. Therefore, I'm the one nursing my toddler who asks for it by saying, “Meh.”

I'm a crazy hippie. I'm a weirdo. Call me whatever you want. The fact is it’s good for her. Ask the World Health Organization. They recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age and continued breastfeeding with solid foods for up to two years and beyond.

That being said, my current views on this were rocked last week. A friend of mine showed me a clip from a documentary where a child was still breastfeeding at the age of seven. She (in a British accent) says, “I'd rather have lots of breastmilk than a million melons.” Sorry, I have to laugh again as I type that.

In all seriousness though, it disturbed me that this elementary school-aged child was still breastfeeding. She drew pictures about it and even named her mother’s breasts. But I’m kind of conflicted about how I feel about this. Science has shown that kids who are breastfed longer have higher IQs. The health benefits are great — for both mom and the kiddo. However, at what point do we sacrifice a healthy relationship with breastfeeding for a higher IQ?

I mean, I personally don't have problems with a three- or even a four-year-old breastfeeding for occasional comfort, but I would be totally creeped out by 12-year-old doing it. So where is the cut off and why? Is it when they learn about sex? Is it when they go to school? Is it when they potty-train? Even though I no longer agree with my previous stance on this, I’m still not sure where to draw the line.

At what age is it detrimental to the child to continue? Or is it at all?

I don’t think I’ll nurse B much longer if we even make it to age two. That’s just where my comfort level ends. I get why other women would continue though. But there are those (even some in my own family) who think it’s crazy to continue after a year.

What is your stance (whether you breastfed or not)? At what age or stage is it time to throw in the towel and tell the kid the milk machine is closed?

By the way, if you want to check out the documentary I saw, you can watch it here. Beware, they show boobs (I know! The horror!).

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The Easter Bunny: The Stuff of Nightmares

Dying eggs, chocolate bunnies, Grandma’s potato salad — these are all things that come to mind when I think of Easter. They are things that I’m excited to pass down to my children as we continue to establish our own holiday traditions. There’s one thing from my childhood that I’m omitting though: visiting the Easter bunny. Why? Because that guy is absolutely terrifying.

I’ve always personally thought this, but it was further validated last week when my friend shared this image on her Facebook page:

Right? HORRIFYING.

Why on Earth did we ever decide that an adult-sized human dressed up as a giant animal would be a good idea? Then we tell kids that the creepy bunny comes and hides eggs for us to find? I think we have enough trouble with nightmares from the day my husband forgot to turn off Jurassic Park after nap time ended. We don’t need to add the fact that the giant furry man knows where we live.

Seriously, though, why a giant man bunny? What does that have to do with Easter? Why does he have eggs? Did he raid the local farmer’s chicken coop? Because that’s illegal. We probably shouldn’t teach the kids to steal and hide the goods around our house. That could backfire.

So now I have a conundrum. I kind of have to stick with the Easter bunny schtick because it’s everywhere. Maybe I’ll just tell them it’s a magical real bunny. As in, normal size and normal proportions. Not a furry. But I won’t be buying into the whole “The Easter bunny poops jelly beans” thing that was on a movie a few years back. NO. We do not need to associate poop with ANYTHING edible. You can only imagine where my toddler and preschooler’s minds will go.

This year, we’ll be putting on some pretty dresses, dying some eggs, hiding some plastic ones, and making Grandma’s potato salad. And this idea that my husband’s aunt shared with us:

Magic Jelly Beans & The Lollipop Garden

Magic Jelly Beans & The Lollipop Garden

You plant the “magic” jelly beans the night before Easter and when the kids wake up the next morning, suckers grew where they planted the beans. HJ will lose it. She LOVES suckers.

What does your family do? (If you say “We go visit the Easter Bunny” I promise I won’t judge. I will applaud your bravery.

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I’m Becoming My Mother

“If you took better care of your things, they wouldn’t get broken.”

As soon as the words escaped my mouth last week, I cringed at the flashback of my mother telling me the same sentence, word-for-word as a kid. I was notorious for losing things, misplacing things, and being inconsolable when those things ended up broken as a result. So as karma would have it, HJ inherited the same tendencies and I am saying the same phrases my mother said to me when my daughter crumples to the floor in a fit.

Dang it.

It’s not that my mom was a terrible mother. (Hi Mom!) She was far from it. She was loving, caring and all-around fantastic. I think it’s just that when most of us start this motherhood journey, we promise ourselves that we will be a better and improved version of our mothers or do things totally our own way. We assess all of the things our parents did wrong and vow to not repeat their mistakes. We have a list of ways we want to tackle parenthood and know we will be the “cool mom”. Our kids will just be amazed at how fun and not lame we are.

Then you give birth to a mini version of yourself and your plans are shot to hell. It starts when you sing the same songs she sang to you as a baby and then before you know it, you’re shouting, “If I have to tell you ONE MORE TIME …” Face palm

My mother’s characteristics have carried on through me in other ways, too. I happily give my kids dessert after lunch and dinner solely to see the glee spread across their faces. I try to save a buck by visiting the dollar aisle at Target and The Dollar Tree when it comes time for Easter baskets and Valentines. (Or because it’s Tuesday and I am easily excited by cheap junk.) I only cook recipes that take fewer than five or six ingredients and less than an hour in prep/cook time. And I destroy one room of the house each week with some craft project, although I half blame Pinterest for this.

These traits have snuck up on me. As a rebellious teenager, there was no way I would ever be like my parents. I was going to do everything my own way. The next thing I know, I’m volunteering at church, watching "America’s Funniest Videos," and wiping my baby’s face with my own spit.

I’m sorry, teenage me. I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture, but I just can’t stop it. It’s involuntary.

And now that I’m older (a smidge wiser), I see that becoming my mother isn’t such a bad thing. She was and is a fabulous mom. I, however, refuse to wear shirts with watering cans on them. She does that. (Sorry, Mom.)

Mom and Me in 1986

Mom and Me in 1986 by Megan Spreer

In what ways have you seen yourself morph into a version of your parents?

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I’m a vaccinator

There is a measles outbreak in New York. As a parent, reading headlines about this is pretty concerning. As a parent of a child who has yet to receive her MMR vaccine, it’s terrifying.

Vaccines are one of the hot button topics in the Mommy Wars. It’s almost become one of those things you don’t talk about in public circles right next to politics and religion. People are passionate about their vaccination choices. And I don’t blame them.

Jenny McCarthy and her campaign alongside the now discredited MMR vaccine/autism study by Andrew Wakefield got a lot of people’s attention. I know I hadn’t heard anything negative about vaccines until then. But it seems that this study and media coverage launched the general public’s awareness that vaccines are NOT mandatory as many may have previously thought.

I’ll just get this out there: I’m a vaccinator (Wow. That sounds a lil’ Schwarzenegger-ish. It’s not that intense, I promise). I get the recommended vaccinations for my kids and occasionally space them out if they have illnesses or if I feel like they need some time in between for their bodies to mellow. I’m not a doctor. I’m just a mom.

But, I know there are so many out there who disagree with me. I get that. Injecting your baby with a virus (weakened or not) is scary. It’s also scary that the shots don’t come with a list of ingredients. AND the Internet puts out a lot of scary things about vaccines. It also doesn’t help that there are more celebrity moms joining the vaccination and anti-vax movements and delivering their opinions through mass media. It makes an already difficult decision that much more daunting. Just last week, Kristin Cavallari joined the anti-vaccine ranks in Hollywood. I think I see an article for either side at least once a week on my Facebook news feed.

There are many out there who will say that I’m only vaccinating because big pharm companies have launched a fear campaign to make me scared enough to blindly vaccinate. You know what, though? I’m kind of okay with that. Because if it came down to it, I’d rather my child get an ugly side effect from a vaccine than die from a preventable illness. But, I can say that because my kids are healthy, handle medications well and don’t have any current medical concerns. If they had medical issues, I might feel differently. I don’t know.

It’s scary out there though. In addition to the measles outbreak in New York, almost every year, I read about a whooping cough outbreak here in Lawrence. One of my kids was exposed to H1N1 this year and I also just happened to miss getting her a flu shot. She was fine, thankfully, but you can bet I won’t miss that one again. These illnesses scare the bejesus out of me. If there is a way to protect my kids, I’m all over it. However, the anti-vax camp says I’m injecting toxins into my children as I try to protect them from these infectious diseases.

It seems like a lose-lose.

So I will continue to vaccinate. I also respect the many parents who believe that they are protecting their child’s health by opting out of vaccinations. I’m not judging them. Every child is different. Every parent is different. You can find an article or study to back up almost every claim in the world of parenting. We’re all just doing our best with the situation and information we’re given. It’s all done out of love for our kids.

Does your family vaccinate? Why or why not?

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More Babies or More Stuff?

It’s almost here. My sweet baby B turns one this week. It’s a day that seemed just too far away to ever be a reality. I was just busy pinching chubby fat rolls, having snuggle fests, and pretending to eat tiny toes to notice how quickly the year was going by.

And now my baby is a toddler. It’s bittersweet for so many reasons. I love the baby stage. I love the tiny clothes. I love that I can snuggle or rock her to sleep. I love gummy grins. Babies are just so unbelievably awesome. On the other side, I love watching her learn new things. She’s walking and talking. It’s so much fun to watch her become a real person.

But she’s not my baby anymore. Perhaps though, the saddest part is that B might be our last baby. We haven’t definitively decided this, but we are leaning more and more in that direction. And it makes me heartachingly sad.

I’m from a family of five kids. Our house was busy, chaotic at times and always so much fun. Having a large number of siblings was like being a part of an exclusive club. We get each others’ humor, we covered for each other as kids, we laugh at the same inside jokes about our parents, we retell the story of my baby brother screaming at the car wash at least twice a year, and we can call or text anytime for help, a laugh or a babysitter. It’s so awesome. Because of this, I have always wanted to have a large family of my own. I don’t necessarily want five kids, but three has always been my minimum. That is, until modern day has hit me straight upside the head.

Having a child is just so unGodly expensive now. After you pay the several thousand bucks to the hospital and doctors for having your new bundle, there are diapers, a crib, formula (if you’re not breastfeeding), clothes, blankets, the million and one apparatuses everyone tells you that you need, and if you have to put the baby in daycare, you may just have to work to pay for that huge expense alone. The list of expenses grows quicker than the kiddo does.

Once in the toddler phase, there are swim lessons, dance lessons, preschool, doctor’s appointments, new car seats, new beds, and the clothes to replace the ones that they outgrew in just a matter of weeks. Then, once they reach school age, the costs skyrocket. My sister has three school-aged children and I choked on my lunch the day she told me how much it costs to have her oldest in football, her middle child in gymnastics and her youngest in soccer ON TOP of what she paid to enroll them in school. They went on a Disney vacation a couple years back and ended up renting a small condo because Disney was going to require them to pony up for two rooms to stay on the resort because they had three kids. Their rooms are only designed for a family of four.

I just don’t think having more is going to be feasible for us. I want to be able to allow our kids to participate in extracurricular activities, go on fun vacations, and be able to eat healthier foods than fast food junk every night. But I feel like I’m having to trade a child (or two) for a certain quality of life.

And that makes me feel conflicted and kind of icky.

I don’t want to miss out on the joy of having another child to love, but I also don’t want to have to tell my kids that they can’t enroll in dance class because we have to be able to eat that month. We don’t have to make the decision today or even tomorrow, thankfully. But it’s there in the back of my mind every time B hits another milestone.

For now, I’m packing the baby stuff in the attic and hoping that we are able to feel good about the decision we have to make in the somewhat near future.

Weigh in: How did you decide how big to let your family grow?

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Why I’m the Parent on the Bench

You know that parent you always see sitting on the bench at the park? You know the one. She’s the one who is checking Facebook on her phone or texting pictures to relatives and friends. You may call her inattentive or lazy. You may even judge her for not being more involved with her children. She’s off in her own world and her children are playing all by themselves or with the new friends they’ve found at the park.

I am her.

Granted, I know where my children are, who they’re with and what is or isn’t in their mouths at the time. But I’m not the parent who is climbing up the stairs and holding my child’s hand down the slide. I’m not the one holding HJ’s waist as she navigates the monkey bars. Nope. Not doing it. I’m sitting right there on the bench.

I know. I sound like the worst mother in the world. Hear me out, though: Have you noticed the epidemic of kids (and adults!) who seem to be unable to do much without being given specific instructions? I’ve worked at companies with interns who sit and stare at walls without being told explicitly what they should be doing at every moment. I’ve seen kids in fifth grade who don’t fix their own plates at potlucks. I went to school with kids in high school whose parents did their science projects for them. I’ve heard horror stories about parents calling college professors to dispute grades. I’ve seen too many of my own peers unable to stand on their own feet as adults and still have their parents give them gas or grocery money on a monthly basis.

I think it’s sad and it’s something I don’t want for my kids. It’s my job as a parent to teach them to use their brains to figure out how to navigate the world... not show them how to do everything, or worse, do it for them. By sitting on my park bench, I’m just beginning to teach my kids about independence, problem-solving, and using their imagination. If they get in an argument with another kid, I sit back unless someone’s well-being is in danger. My girls need to learn how to handle disagreements between friends. That’s a skill they will need even when they’re 80. If they aren’t tall enough to climb up the green ladder? I will sit and watch them use their brains to step on the side of the structure to get a boost up so they can reach. If I jump in there every time they fight with someone or every time they have trouble accomplishing a task, what am I teaching them? That Mom will do it.

No. I want them to learn to trust themselves to figure things out. I want them to know that they are smart enough to find the solution. If they still continue to struggle after considerable effort, will I step in? Of course. I will help them problem solve and show them shortcuts to help them along the way, but I WILL NOT be the parent who does it for them.

So for now, you can find me sitting on my park bench watching my children learn (while also checking Facebook occasionally). I’ll save you a seat if you’d like.

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Preschool scouting will drive me crazy

It’s preschool enrollment time. If you’re like me, you probably found this out because some other mom casually mentioned it in conversation and you played it off like you totally knew all along.

Sike. I did NOT know this until almost too late and also, since when do kids start preschool at age three? They need two years of kindergarten prep? Just how intense IS kindergarten these days? That’s okay. It doesn't matter because we're doing it anyway. HJ is need of some regular socialization and needs someone other than me and her dad telling her what to do. Plus, I can’t be the mom with the crazy, bouncing-off-the-walls kid who didn’t go to preschool. We've already established that she'll still be in diapers by then (Just kidding. Potty training is a requirement of attending preschool. God help us).

Back to my first observation: Why is it important to enroll your kid in preschool in February/March when they don't start till the fall? Because waiting lists, people. Yeah. This is crazy. Classes can fill up before enrollment is even open to the general public. How’s that for nerve-racking and panic-inducing? Thankfully, this is Lawrence. I've heard that big city preschools get waiting lists for YEARS before a child can attend. As in, moms find out they're pregnant and put the fetus on the waiting list. I cannot even pretend to be that on the ball.

Before I started paying attention to how this all worked, I simply thought preschool is preschool. They learn shapes, colors, the alphabet, numbers and how to make friends who don’t eat glue. We’d simply pick the one closest to our house and be done with it.

WRONG. Guys, there’s about a billion factors in this process: Do we want full-time or part-time? Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays or Tuesday/Thursdays? Mornings or afternoons? Do we want it to cost around $150 a month or almost a full mortgage payment? And then there’s the style. Oh. Dear. God. The. Styles. Is our kid better suited for an arts-based preschool? A Montessori program? A high level of parent involvement co-op? Then there’s faith-based, highly-structured, daycare-housed, or in-home preschool. And once you figure all that out, you have to figure out the pick-up/drop-off routine and determine whether or not it will work while toting around your chubby one-year-old.

I was overwhelmed. Every time I tried to talk to my husband about it, he shrugged it off like, “It’s just preschool.” Whatever. Husbands are no help in my house.

My soon-to-be preschooler

My soon-to-be preschooler by Megan Spreer

So I narrowed down our “wants” and scheduled tours of three highly recommended (by friends on Facebook, of course) places in town. I was sure that after touring them I would be able to easily make a decision.

Nope. Not even close. The decision was now even more difficult. I loved all three. Like, wanted to hug the directors and be BFFs loved all three. What made it worse was that I had only a matter of days to make a decision. One of the schools was filling up quickly and already had a huge wait list for one of the classes.

What does one do in that situation? You throw your arms up, say “It’s just preschool,” and pick the one closest to your house.

How did you decide where your kid went to preschool (and am I the only one who thought it was incredibly overwhelming)?

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Mommy Needs a Timeout

When HJ was brand new, we got offer after offer from our family to take her off our hands for the night so we could have a date night. I was new to leaky boobs, new to SIDS anxiety and so new to all things in the realm of mom that I was positively sure that these people were high to think I’d let my new baby out of my sight for that long.

What if she got sick? What if she missed me? What if she wouldn’t take a bottle? There were too many what ifs and too many chances for her to think I abandoned her for me to even consider the idea for almost her entire first year.

Ha! Now that I’m a mom of two and am almost three years into this gig, I was counting down the days until I handed them off to Grandma and Grandpa for the ENTIRE weekend this past Friday. No, it’s not because I love them less. It’s not because I regret becoming a mother. And no, it’s not because I want to give them away.

It’s because I need to sometimes.

As a parent, so much of my day is dedicated to teaching, redirecting, caring for, and tending to these tiny people that I often neglect everything and everyone else...myself and husband included. Sometimes Mommy (and Daddy) just need a timeout. I need to recharge, regroup and remember who Megan is...and let’s be honest: I need to shave my legs before it looks like I have new ginger-colored fur boots.

Sorry for that visual.

In all honesty though, I’m a better mom when I can send my kids somewhere else every once in a while. Sometimes I need the chance to miss them and wish I could kiss the chubby folds of B’s neck. I need to turn off Disney’s Frozen soundtrack long enough to want to again sing “Let it Go” complete with an interpretive dance. I need time to be just me. Not me as the resident butt-wiper. Not me as the hair-brusher. Not me as the drink-fetcher. Just me.

And then, when they come back, I have recharged patience, a full night’s rest and I can again see them through the eyes of a parent who remembers just how blessed she is. It makes me again appreciate the chaos of our lives.

So thank you to our parents and babysitters for letting us escape from our children from time to time...even on days I just need to shave my legs.

Aaron, especially thanks you for those days.

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The 10 Unofficial Rules of Living with Small Children

It’s no joke that your life gets flipped-turned upside down once kids enter the picture. Not only do you shift your level of what is considered gross, but several other aspects of your everyday adjust as well. Don’t have kids yet? Take this list and tuck it somewhere for later. Have a kid or two or five (you crazy Duggar, you), let's scare the bejesus out of the kid-free people.

1. The hours between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. are sacred. This is known as “After Bedtime.” It’s also the time of day when my husband and I will cram as much of our adult lives into this incredibly small window before we must go to sleep. We watch what we want, we eat what we want, and we recuperate from the day.

2. Unless it stinks or is visibly stained, it’s clean. Having a kid automatically increases the amount of laundry at your home by 100 percent. Thus, we learn to wear things a little longer. I will visibly cringe (and sometimes curse) when I spill something on myself because dammit, I'm gonna have to wash that.

3. The good candy must be eaten silently and while hidden. That is, unless you're prepared to share bites until it is gone, put away or cleaned up. In fact, this goes for all food that you’re eating. It doesn’t matter if it’s something your kid doesn't even like. They like it the minute you have it and they don’t.

4. Dinner shall be eaten before 6 p.m. Kids go to bed early. If you want to have time to eat, clean up, bathe them, put them in pajamas and avoid meltdowns, you HAVE to start early. And now we're ruined by this. When our friends without kids plan a social dinner after 7 p.m., we panic a little bit. BUT WE WILL BE STARVING BY THEN! Who eats that late? (See, we're ridiculous.)

5. Finding the mate to shoes and socks is a daily athletic event. I don't know what happens or why, but children seem to be experts at losing one of their shoes or one of their socks. Without fail, we are looking under the couch, digging through the toy box or searching the car for someone’s footwear before we leave the house. Every. Single. Day.

6. Poop is a regular topic of conversation. And you won't even be talking about your own. You will talk about your kid's poop without even flinching or realizing that it’s not acceptable dinner conversation when out with friends. You'll tell your husband about it, your mother, and whoever brings up anything remotely related. (Wait. Maybe this is just me?)

7. Businesses with drive-thrus are your new favorite. Pharmacy drive-thrus, liquor store drive-thrus, coffee shop drive-thrus and every other kind will make you so gleefully happy. You will wish that other establishments put one in. Sometimes just the mere thought of loading up your kids, taking them out, putting their coats on, carting them to the back of the store, grabbing one gallon of milk and then repeating the whole process to get home is utterly exhausting.

8. Most meals will be eaten one-handed and/or as quickly as possible. The minute you sit your toddler down for a meal, it’s like setting a timer. They eat quickly, if at all, and will need something or be ready to get down and destroy something in a matter of minutes. It’s especially bad at potluck type dinner events. You usually can’t balance two plates and keep them in line so therefore, you make them a plate and just give up on the thought of eating yourself. The leftover “yucky” stuff from your kid’s plate will hold you over until bedtime.

9. Your phone will be loaded with adorable photos you forgot you took. You will take a photo of every adorable thing they do and then you’ll so quickly move on to the next thing or place or part of your day that you’ll usually completely forget about that photo until you use up the memory on your phone or go to get a new one.

10. You will never complete a task without being interrupted every five minutes. Have a Pinterest project you want to try? Don’t even start it until the kids are in bed AND ASLEEP. You will not get through five minutes without someone needing a diaper change, a drink, help with a toy, or someone is screaming because they were pushed/hit/slapped. The same goes for cleaning your house. You might as well just accept that you'll live in filth until they go to school (Moms, please tell me it gets better then?).

For you veterans out there, did I miss any “rules”?

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Parenting: Some days it just sucks

I’m just going to get straight to it: HJ broke our 50 inch television this week. *Cue ugly cry face (me, not her). It came out of nowhere. While her favorite show was playing, she just walked up to it and launched a wooden ball directly at the screen.

That’s it. No words. No screaming fit. She just threw it and the screen went black. I honestly think she just wanted to see what would happen.

So it would be an understatement to say that it was a frustrating day. Aside from the fact that you cannot repair plasma TV screens, that our homeowner’s insurance does not cover toddler exploration mishaps, or that the last major entertainment purchase that my husband and I made before kids was now dead, the toddler wars are wearing us out, mentally, physically, and now financially.

Whenever I talk about the stress of being a parent online or even in person, I get a lot of “These are the BEST years!”, “They grow up so fast, appreciate this time!”, and “Raising kids is amazing!” While I agree with these sentiments, I’m sorry, but I do not feel this way every day.

Am I allowed to say that?

While I love my children with every inch of my being, I do not love being a mom every day. There, I said it.

I am incredibly blessed to have these little people and most days I DO love being a mom, but sometimes I wish I got to have a time out. In fact, there are days when I wish there was a farm I could drop them off at just for a few hours while I go home and take a nap or even bathe alone. Is that awful?

As magical and adorable as these years are, they are HARD. Teaching tiny people how to be big people is a constant and demanding job with no pay and little praise. We, as parents, are responsible for creating new people who need to grow up to be functioning members of society and hopefully not psychopaths some day. It’s kind of one of the most important jobs, right? Future adults who don't suck? Yes, please.

We were at the grocery store yesterday and I saw a dad corralling his two little girls. He was using the same voice I had just used with HJ to get his toddler back into the little car at the front of the cart.

I said to him, “It looks like we're having the same kind of night.” To which he said, “Yeah. I’m a single dad and raising them alone. It’s tough. Especially when it comes to doing their hair.” I couldn't help but laugh and be thankful for his honesty. This guy was a rockstar.

But the best part of that conversation? That we could talk about and freely admit that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. I think parents need to be able to do that. They need to be able to reach out to each other and say, “Hey, this sucks today.” And they need to be able to do so without judgement or having someone say something to the effect of “Enjoy this sucktacular day! They're going to grow up and be even worse!”

Just no. Stop saying that, people. I promise we're not about to put up our children on Craigslist. We're just having an off day (like I’m sure you had a time or two whether or not you’ll admit it) and we just need a hug... or wine. Actually, wine is better.

Really though, we just need to be able to reach out when this incredibly important and demanding job just sucks. It doesn't make us bad parents. It makes us human.

And to that dad at the grocery store yesterday, your girls’ hair looked fantastic.

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Placenta-eating, breast milk-sharing parents are gross

I knew what I was getting into when we decided to have kids. I knew that babies spit up, drool, go through an enormous amount of putrid smelling diapers, and that they tend to be pretty messy in general. Those are the things in which I was prepared to handle.

What I wasn't prepared for though was how much I’d let my own personal views on what’s disgusting evolve. I don't know if it’s the lack of sleep, the enormous amount of love I have for my kids, or if I left part of my brain back at the hospital when I gave birth, but now that I’m a mom, I can be pretty gross. I now don't even flinch when it comes to bodily fluids and the like. It can take two to three spit-up episodes on my shirt before I'll actually go and change. If we're out in public and my kid has something hanging out of her nose, I'll probably just pull it off with my bare hands and wipe it on my own pants. Those of you without kids are probably dry heaving right now. My apologies, but it gets worse. So much worse.

These acts of disgustingness are just the tip of the iceberg. With baby number two, I moved on to a whole new level of ew. I think it just proves that parents will put aside ANY of their own discomfort for the sake of their kids’ well being. At least, that’s what I’m going with.

Seriously though, this is what I mean:

- The NoseFrida: Both of my girls hated the blue bulb snot sucker that they sent us home with from the hospital. In fact, we named it “The Blue Ball of Death” because they’d scream as if they were dying in excruciating pain every time we used it. So when my girlfriend showed me her NoseFrida, it was as if the heavens opened up. Sure, it’s kind of gross to suck snot out of your baby’s nose with your mouth, but look! She’s not screaming! Watch B and her NoseFrida here: http://youtu.be/u6kxl_71d0s

- Eating your placenta: OK, so I didn't actually do this. I was afraid my husband would have me committed, but I find it so intriguing that if I had his blessing, I may have done it. Of course, I'd have gone the whole putting it into pill form route. Actually chew-- ugh. I can't even type that. Gross. BUT, some say ingesting your own placenta has many benefits such as lessening the chances of postpartum depression, increasing breast milk supply and is full of vitamins and nutrients. Dr. Google has tons of info. Just ask him.

- Sharing breast milk: Milksharing is becoming increasingly common between moms with low supply issues, adoptive parents, and for babies who are ill. From what I've heard, there’s some stipulations to follow, some paperwork, but the gist is that moms with an oversupply of breast milk give it to other parents to feed their babies. I was lucky and never had any major supply issues, but if I had, I'd totally have looked into this. Several people I've told about it look at me like I have two heads. To be honest, I think it’s funny that some people don't think it’s gross to drink milk from an animal, but yet would scoff at the idea of drinking milk from another human. Think about it: We'll drink milk from an animal that we've never even seen but think it's gross to drink milk from a person whom we know and know that she's hygienic and such. It's not rational... to me, anyways. That being said, I still drink cow's milk.

What kinds of gross things have you found yourself doing or changing your mind about after having kids?

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Failing at Potty Learning

Remember that post I wrote a few weeks back in which I polled people on the most annoying things parents post on Facebook? One of responses was potty-training posts.

Well guess what?

I am one of those people. You know why? Because potty learning (that is the now the preferred term, I've been told) is equal parts hilarious and frustrating as all hell. Reaching out to a support system (a.k.a. Facebook) is sometimes the only way to retain your sanity.

HJ will be three years old in May and she is determined to wear diapers for the rest of her life. However, since it’s frowned upon to send a kindergartener to school in Huggies, we decided to start taking this whole process a lot more seriously lately. We've been gently encouraging toilet use for the past year. It went well the first two weeks and then crashed and burned since. We've desperately been searching for ideas that would work. So far, here’s what we've tried:

  • Buy her really pretty or really special underwear and she won't mess in them: I bought her Bubble Guppies and Minnie Mouse undies. I talked them up, got super excited with her about wearing them, and made a grand production about the fact that she was wearing “Super Special Big Girl Panties.” Aaaaand she peed in them five minutes later. She was completely unfazed by the wet undies and I didn't realize it until I stepped in the puddle in her bedroom.

  • Start a sticker chart: I got a piece of cardstock out, drew her name in some block letters that I mastered in my dance squad days, and excitedly explained that she'd get to put a new sticker on her name every time she used the potty. Well, that was cool for a day. The stickers lost their luster when she realized that they couldn't be removed from the cardstock.

  • Stage a lockdown: I got this idea from Pinterest. It claimed “Potty Train your Child in just ONE day!” I should know better. Pinterest is full of lies. This one said to lock yourself in your house for a day or two, put the kid in underwear, wear an apron full of candy, and set a timer for every 30 minutes. You're supposed to have the kid try to go when the timer goes off and reward them with candy. These constant visits to the potty gave HJ a complex and she refused to use the potty for weeks afterward. She was beyond over it. Thanks a lot, lying Pinterest mom.

  • Tell her the potty is hungry and thirsty. She didn't care.

So that brings us to our current strategy:

  • Bribery: Yes. I know this is the frowned upon solution, but a combination of taking away all electronics and giving them back after potty trips with a piece of candy has shown a 50 percent success rate. The times it does not work are when HJ decides she just wants a piece of candy and yet does not need to use the potty. Instead, she has a meltdown.

Super awesome.

Now, I'll need to finish this blog because HJ just peed on the fireplace brick ledge and the girls are playing in the puddle.

Please send wine.

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Twos are More than Terrible

Technically, these are the Terrible Two-and-a-halfs. We got a six-month grace period before the hurricane hit our house. And thank the sweet Baby Jesus for that.

The twos are no joke. My once always sweet little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl has the ability to mimic Linda Blair in The Exorcist at the drop of a sippy cup. The meltdowns come from every angle.

She will melt down if I ask her to put on her shoes before we leave the house. She will launch into a fit if there is juice and not milk in her cup. She will freak if her sister touches a certain toy. She will howl if I can’t find the song she wants to hear at that exact moment in time on the radio. And other times, these exact things won’t bother her in the least.

The mature, level-headed me knows that this is all a product of the fact that HJ’s frontal lobe isn’t fully developed and she doesn't yet know how to react rationally... yadda yadda, blah blah blah. The other part of me watches as she hurls her body to the floor in a fit of rage and wonders why God sent a tiny terrorist to my house two and a half years ago.

Seriously, who IS this child? And why is she kind of a jerk?

As quickly as it comes on, the storm will pass and she'll climb up into my lap and snuggle. My head is spinning and I'm learning patience from places in my soul I did not know existed. Holy crap.

This must be what my husband felt like when I was pregnant. The mood swings, the fits of rage, and the passion behind simply telling her it’s time to put on some pants can bring you to drinking at 10 a.m. It’s rough.

For instance, last night we made our bi-weekly trek to the local home improvement store (we're renovating our kitchen/dining room). HJ was attempting to scale boxes of tile, piles of carpet and (the straw that broke the camel’s back) shelves of GLASS light fixtures. She was banished to the cart with B. You can imagine the howls that lasted for three aisles. The horrific sounds that my husband and I were desperately trying to shush summoned an employee over to make sure no one was dying. Obviously a dad or grandpa himself, he pulled a piece of candy from his pocket and it was as if the skies opened up and rained hearts and flowers in the neon lighting section. HJ went back to her adorably precious, smiley self. Bless that man.

It’s mind numbingly frustrating. Sometimes the tantrums come on so quickly and seemingly unprovoked that I will just sit back and watch in awe. The girl is nothing short of dedicated to her current emotional state. It’s kind of impressive at times. I wish I had the ability to feel that passionately about anything, let alone the amount of chocolate syrup in my milk.

I was lamenting over this recently with a friend who had gone through the same types of things with her now preschooler. She laughed with me and gave me encouragement that I wasn't scarring her for life in any way. Then she said, “I have to tell you though, this is nothin’. Just wait till she turns three.”

Friends are mean.

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But I’m not Depressed

I have often been asked the same few questions since I gave birth to HJ: Are you experiencing prolonged sadness? Are you having unsafe thoughts? Do you feel sad more than you are happy?

As an educated person and as someone who read my copy of “What to Expect when You’re Expecting”, I knew these health professionals were making sure I wasn’t experiencing Postpartum Depression. I wasn’t depressed. So, I answered the questions by mostly shrugging them off and said “Nope. I’m good.” Every time.

I didn’t even give any thought to it. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t having thoughts of doing unspeakable things to my precious babies. I figured that whole thing must have just passed me over. I wasn’t depressed.

Fast forward to just three months ago. I was sitting with two of my girlfriends chatting away while our kids played around us. Fueled by the sleep deprivation brought on by B, the baby dictator, and the constant stress of parenting two small children who always seem to find every sharp object and expensive item in the house, I was being honest. Like the super kind of honest that can only come about when you just can’t possibly give another eff.

I said, “I wished I could always feel the way I feel after two drinks. Not drunk, not even buzzed, but just able to relax.”

The truth was, I couldn’t relax. Ever.

My girlfriends, recognizing that something was off, pressed me further and asked me to elaborate. So I went on. I told them about how I was constantly worried about the judgement of others over my parenting choices. I told them how I seem to always have to jump out of bed every night to check the locks for a second or third time. I told them about how my mind never stopped going over all of the things I was doing wrong as a parent. I told them about how I white knuckle the steering wheel every time I drive the kids to see their grandparents in Kansas City or Topeka because I am sure that we’ll blow a tire, hit a deer, or crash in some fiery head-on collision. I even told them about how I was still having vivid images of what could have happened to HJ had she fallen from our top story balcony on our vacation that was over a year ago. A YEAR AGO.

As good friends do, they gently told me that it sounded like I was experiencing some high anxiety which was also a common postpartum symptom. My friend even confided in me that she’d experienced the same type of symptoms and her doctor prescribed her an antidepressant to help her cope.

Wait. What? I had no idea. I thought depression was the only symptom women got with hormone fluctuations after having babies. I mean, it’s called “Postpartum Depression”.

Apparently, there are technically a variety of symptoms that women can experience after birth. I've been told they're referred to as Perinatal Mood Disorders.

At my doctor’s appointment, I was so ridiculously excited to realize that I wasn't just the resident party pooper at my house. My hormones were just outta wack. He helped me find a combination of medication, exercise and support to calm my high-strung self down.

In other words, I took a chill pill (literally.)

No longer do I jump out of my skin when someone drops a bucket of blocks on the tile floor. I can finally go to sleep at night without stressing over the millions of things I should have done that day. I'm a nicer effing person. And I like other people so much better.

But the best part? I feel like I can finally enjoy this crazy, hectic, non-stop on-the-go time as a mom.

Hallelujah.

*If you want to find out more, please check out Giles Bruce’s article from a couple weeks ago. It has some great resources and stories from awesome local people.

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