Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming a Mama

Now that I’ve been a mama for over a year now (!!), I know all the things practically nothing about parenting.

One thing I do know is that I can’t win.  You win, baby boy.  But please don’t read this until after you’re done being a teenager, because I never said that and you can’t prove that I did.

Here are a few other things I’ve learned in the past year, because sometimes I find something that works for me and those make for good days.

1. Nothing could’ve prepared me for the harsh realities of having a child.  Nothing.

There isn’t any advice anyone could’ve given me and there isn’t any book I could’ve read that would’ve made me feel prepared.  I think I intuitively knew this already, which is why I didn’t read any books.  I just went to doctors appointments and read how big my fetus was (and what piece of fruit he was being compared to…ooh, a grapefruit!) on my pregnancy app.

Yeah, I got some advice and I went to my birthing classes and those things prepared me to a point.  But I knew then, and it’s been confirmed many times over in the past year, that there isn’t anything out there that can fully prepare me for such a profound life change.  I knew I’d just have to wing it, and that’s cool.

2. Never underestimate the power of song.

I sing a lot normally, and I sang a lot while I was pregnant.  I sing in the shower, in the car, while doing the dishes.  So, my wee babe heard a lot of my voice singing Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift and Sara Bareilles.  During the past year, when Dylan has been freaking out over diaper changes or having his face wiped clean, we’ve found that he will dramatically calm down if we sing.  It doesn’t matter what song, and it doesn’t have to be me, either – my husband sings to him and Dylan pays attention.

The hardest part for me has been to remember to sing – especially when we’re having such a hard time that I am close to tears myself – and then to figure out what to sing, which leads me to the next thing I learned.

3. I can make a song out of anything or adapt any song to fit my needs.  Seriously.

I sang Katy Perry’s Firework as a lullaby and Dylan loved it.  I changed the lyrics of Madonna’s Express Yourself to go: “you’ve got to make him express your milk, hey hey hey hey!”  We’ve sung the classics to death – some favorites are the Wheels on the Bus (Brian added the vital missing verse that goes: “the drifters on the bus go stab, stab, stab…all day long!”), You Are My Sunshine, Black Socks, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Bingo (where we sing: “there was a family had a boy and Dylan was his name-o!”), etc.

But the best skill I’ve discovered is my ability to make a song out of any stimuli in front of me.  The best example is Crotch Food (the term we use for food that lands in Dylan’s crotch during the course of a meal).  I don’t think I’ve ever sung it the same way twice, so it’s the song that keeps on giving.

4. Formula makes a great substitute for coffee creamer.

It’s chock full of DHA – what every new-mom-brain needs!  It’s iron fortified!  I was out of milk and/or cream!  Need I say more?!

5. My mama bear instincts are fierce.

I’ve gradually learned how to advocate for myself, and now those skills just naturally spilled over onto my son, covering him with gooey, fierce, sticky mom love.  I’ve learned that if you threaten my ability to do my job as a mom, or judge me or undermine my authority as the mom that I will do whatever it takes to get Dylan and I out of that situation.  Because rawr.

6. The most challenging part of having a kid has been making sure caring for him doesn’t get in the way of my relationship with my husband.

This has been huge.  We’ve had to figure out how to divvy up household tasks and childcare, and it’s very easy to feel like the tasks aren’t equal or fair, even when we’re both working hard to keep our household running.  We have less time to connect and more stress and it’s been very hard not to build resentments and feel unsupported.

I’ve had to remind myself that my husband and I are on the same team.  We made Dylan together, we’re raising him together, we’re a family together, and we’re on the same team.

7. I’m still trying to figure out who I am now.

It’s like I am going through adolescence all over again.  I’ve been through several major life changes in the past two years – getting married, getting pregnant, moving out of state, transitioned from working outside the home to inside the home, and I’ve been home with my kid for the past year.  It’s been disorienting, depressing, isolating, challenging.  I’m having to make new friends, which is hard for me.  I’m having to get used to my new body and grieve my pre-baby one.  I’ve been grieving most of my old life, honestly.  It’s been so weird and surreal to embrace my new identity as a “mom,” and I’m still not used to it.

8. Dr. Seuss books make me feel stupid.

Seriously, you try and pronounce all them non-words in Oh Say Can You Say? on little sleep.

9. I need to keep trusting my intuition.

He’s my kid and I’ve been with him every day of his life.  I know this little guy pretty damn well.  I also trust my judgement a lot.  I need to keep reminding myself that I am good at caring for my little man, that mistakes are ok, and that at the end of the day we’re both going to be just fine.

10. Keep finding the humor in the small things.  The ridiculous things.

We laugh when Dylan farts.  He laughs at his own farts.  Farts are funny, you guys.  We just bought these new knock-off Cherrios for Dylan and some of them are brown and wrinkled and look like buttholes.  It’s hilarious!  It looks like my kid is eating buttholes!  And those are only a few examples; I could go on.

An Imaginary Spruce Goose

Brian and I are chatting yesterday evening after he got home from work.

Me- Dude, I feel like Howard Hughes.

B- …you’ve been building a Spruce Goose behind my back?!

Me- What?

B- Several thoughts on that.  First, that’s an amazing feat.  How did you hide that from me? Where are you storing it?!  Also, how are you paying for it?  With Dylan’s college fund?!  We need to discuss this.

Me- Remember reality?  Because I’ve been handling Dylan’s nasty diaper rash this week, I’ve been washing my hands like 12 times a day.

B- I enjoy clean hands.  And secret wife-built ginormous airplanes!

Me- Well I don’t enjoy hands that are cracked and bleeding.  Or baby bums that just won’t freaking heal!

B- …but airplanes make everything better!  ….right?

Me- You two boys are making me crazy.  I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I start peeing in jars.

B- Just be sure you use jars with child-proof lids.


Note: I reserve the right to paraphrase my life in its entirety.  All of Brian’s dialogue appearing in this work is fictitious, except for the parts that aren’t.  Any resemblance to his actual sense of humor is purely coincidental (probably).

The Moral Support Brigade

My two kids kinda hate each other.

Well, the younger one ADORES the older one, and he follows her around, chases her, wants to play with her…..and she’ll have nothing to do with him.  She even hides from him.

I guess it makes more sense that my oldest is a six year old cat who was an only child for the first 5 years of her life.

She’s been careful to give Dylan a developmentally appropriate-wide birth.  For example, when he was just a poopy blob, she would venture a sniff to the head.  But now that he’s starting to WALK, ladies and gentlemen, not only will she not touch him with a ten foot pole (if she had opposable thumbs), but she displays a look of pure panic at this recent development (which I translate to: holy shitfuck!) and runs like I do when I’m running from zombies.  Which is probably a good thing, because her hanging tummy waddle could use a little slimming.  Mine could, too, now that I think about it.

My cat’s also not too bright.  To her credit, she has identified areas of the house where Dylan can’t go and she’s learned that those places are sweet, sweet havens of peace (notice I didn’t say “and quiet”).  Two such places are the staircase (where she sits and waits in an attempt to trip us, ideally making us fall to our deaths) and the downstairs bathroom.

See, we keep the cat’s poo box in the bathroom, and so we had to figure out a way to let the cat into the bathroom, but keep the boychild out.  Child gate! You say.  Yup, that’s what we thought, too.  We installed one, and it definitely kept the wee lad out.  Unfortunately, it also kept the feline out as well.  I tried to train her to jump the gate like a normal cat would, but she was uninterested and actually threatened to go poop in an undisclosed location unless the gate came down.

Long story long – I was lamenting about my son who loves to eat cat litter and my cat who can’t jump, and my dad suggested rigging up some sort of string that allowed the bathroom door to open just wide enough for my fatty catty to get through, but not wide enough for the child who ripped through my vag (my words, not my dad’s).  It was brilliant, it was cheap, and it worked.

And that’s how the bathroom became a toddler-free cat haven…until a human has to use the facilities, that is.

So twice now this week when I’ve had to use the potty, I will unlatch the bathroom door and the cat will scamper in.  I don’t know what she’s expecting…a pooping party, perhaps?  Each time I warn the cat in plain English, “You know Dylan will be in here before you know it and you’ll be cornered.  You hate that.”  And each time I waste my breath.

So in comes Dylan, because mom clearly needs moral support to do her business.

And then, in an effort to give mom some privacy from the rest of the house which is now empty (either that, or in an effort to hold us hostage for promises of extra chunks of cheese at lunch), Dylan pushes the door shut, turns toward us, and cackles manically.

This is the cat’s cue to lose her shit.

WE’RE TRAPPED!  WE CAN’T LEAVE!  WHAT DO WE DOOOO?  I’ll go this way- no this way- no, on top of the toilet- nay, behind the toilet!!!!!  AAAGGHHHHH!

Cue boychild to squeal with delight while he bears witness to the cat’s manic panic attack.

And I can’t do anything to let the cat out until my personal business transaction has been completed.

Sometimes I feel like I run a zoo.

…maybe I should start charging admission.

The Gray

Today I took a walk with Dylan, and I am so glad I did.

We squeezed it in, forced it into the tiny space of time between the end of cleaning up from lunch and the moment when D self-destructs without warning, in need of a nap.

I am glad I forced it.


Because I can feel the Northwestern winter creeping up on us all too soon and it’s freaking me out.


We had a few days of gray and rain and coolness already, and I hoped that we hadn’t said goodbye to summer already.  At this time last year, I remember it still being quite hot, or is that just me seeing through the foggy, thick pea soup of having a newborn and carrying around the extra heat-producing baby weight and wanting sleep so badly I’d do something illegal to get it…?

I can handle the depressive gray for a few days here and there.  And when I know it’s only temporary, then I actually like a change of pace where the weather’s concerned (of course, then my therapist self reminds me that everything is temporary if you give it enough time….so there).  Last Sunday I actually started to feel that twinge of excitement and coziness that I get around Halloweentime.  It makes me want to throw on a sweater, watch movies, and consume warm, sugary beverages (as opposed to the warm months, which make me want to consume cool, sugary beverages).

This will be my third winter but only my second fall in the Northwest.  This year, approaching Fall and Winter feels different.  Last year, I had a snuggly newborn and I was overwhelmed and tired and had a great excuse not to go anywhere or see anyone.  I didn’t get dressed, and I breastfed and cuddled and snoozed and rocked and bounced and sang and ate and watched TV.  Yeah, the weather sucked, but I was too wrapped up in my own personal ball of crazy – each gray day blending into the next – that I didn’t notice.  Or maybe it was that the gray backdrop matched my gray days and so everything seemed to fit.

But now – now I have a kid on the verge of walking.  He wants to MOVE.  And go outside and see things and explore.  And as for me, I want a life, too.  Seeing the world through his eyes also makes me want to go outside and see things and explore.  But the weather.  The gray.  That makes it hard.  It’s like The Nothing from The Never Ending Story.  Sounds a bit dramatic, but I assure you, Seasonal Affective Disorder is real and it sucks.  I have to push through it and I am not looking forward to pushing.

Which reminds me why I pushed to get outside and walk today.  Because it was SO NICE outside.  It was beautiful, and for that I am very thankful.  School was just letting out, and I enjoyed getting to see all the littles getting picked up by their parents who love them.  Dylan and I watched and I told him that’ll be us in 4 short years.

Four very short gray winters from now.

I was totally going to write a post today, but garbage trucks are evil

I was totally going to write a post today, but then the garbage truck came by while we were eating lunch.

Dylan hates the garbage truck.

It’s loud and it’s seriously like one of those evil transformers that’s come to destroy us all.

After that, he refused to eat and was inconsolable, so after lengthy attempts to get food down his gullet, he went down for an early nap….and then so did I.

Some days, mothering really takes it out of me.

In other news, today is the one year anniversary of when we gave Dylan his first bath.  Can you BELIEVE I have a one year old?!  And that garbage trucks are going to destroy us all?!

Neither can I.

Also, Dylan waved goodbye properly for the first time yesterday, as opposed to his normal reaction of pointing menacingly like the evil monkey in Chris Griffin’s closet.  #milestones #mykidisnolongeranevilmonkey

I’ll write a better one next time, folks.  Next time.

Six Things I’d Do Differently During Labor and Delivery (and some things I wouldn’t)

On this day last year, I was induced to give birth to my first child.

I can’t believe it’s been an entire year…it went by super fast.  As I usually do, I’ve been looking back on my experiences a year ago and have been having all the feelings.

I plan to eventually have another kid, and that makes me think of what I might like to do differently with the second labor and delivery.  And even as I write that previous sentence, I realize how pointless it would be to count on my wishes coming true, because for all I know, my second labor will be totally different because that’s how the universe works.

But, for the hell of it, here are some things I’d do differently, followed by some things I did that were totally right for me.

Things I’d do differently whilst expelling a baby from my body

  1. Advocate more fiercely against being induced

We have Kaiser Oregon insurance, and for some reason they have a guideline to push induction at 41 weeks.  I know plenty of other midwives/doctors/facilities who won’t induce until 42 weeks.  Either way, I don’t like feeling pushed to force my body into doing something it clearly isn’t ready to do.  Next time, I plan to bring this topic up sooner with my midwife and advocate for as natural a process as possible.

2. Ask my midwife when she plans to go on a frickin vacation

My midwife went on vacation the very week I was due, and then I had to have the induction discussion with a midwife I had just met.  It sucked.  Medical people – please tell your pregnant patients well in advance when you’re planning a vacation.  Grr.

3. Bring (even more of) my own crap to the hospital for delivery

Our Kaiser hospital claimed to be a “breastfeeding friendly” hospital.  What that really translated to was, “We won’t provide you with simple things like breastfeeding pillows, and the things we do provide, we’ll judge you for not bringing your own.”

I’ll start with the breastfeeding pillow.  I had one, but I left it at home.  My hospital only provided those thin, plasticy hospital pillows, and I had to stack 6-8 pillows around me in order to get my kid in the right position to even try latching.  It was awkward and very inconvenient.

Since my boy had trouble latching, they asked if I had brought my breast pump.  I said no.  They gave me one, but it came with a glare.

Next time, I am bringing all my own stuff.

4. Do everything I can to minimize interruptions and distractions

Nurses and doctors and photographers and clowns and dancing bears were coming in and out of my room juuust about every 30 minutes.  Are you frickin kidding me?!  There is no way anyone can get any sleep or try to breastfeed with that parade of crazy.  This hospital claimed to offer “collaborative care” for my baby and me, meaning that the baby’s doctor and my doctor would work together as a team.  Well you know what?  That never happened.  It didn’t help to have my doc come and take my vitals and then my baby’s doc came to take his vitals 20 minutes later.  After this happened to us many times, my husband and I finally had to actually yell at a nurse to get her to leave.  And my husband doesn’t yell.  We were pissed.

Next time, we plan to tell everyone straight up to take our vitals at the same time and to minimize visits.  And we’re bringing paper and tape and a pen to make signs to put on our door telling the photographer to stay the hell away.  And you too, dancing bears!

5.  Advocate to switch nurses if one isn’t meeting our needs

There was one nurse who came in juuuust after I was finished trying to get my boy to latch.  And by try, I mean that we spent 20 minutes wrestling with my boob and his mouth and he was having none of it.  I put him down so we could both sleep and we’d try again later.  Enter nurse, and she insisted that it was time to nurse.  I told her we’d just tried.  Like, just.  She didn’t believe me.  She brought my baby to me and insisted that she watch while I try to get him to latch in front of her.

Looking back, I should have asked for a new nurse right then.  If I have to do it over again, I hope I have the ladyballs to do it (ask for a new nurse), because she made me feel like crap and she sucks at her job.  At the very least, I’d have my husband go to the nurses’ desk and request a new nurse.  Passive-aggressive advocating is better than no advocating at all.

6. Advocate for leaving the hospital sooner

My boy was having trouble breastfeeding, and so it took us a bit longer to figure out a feeding plan that would work for us.  I am thankful that things didn’t turn out worse, because had my boy lost any more weight they would have discharged me and kept him and I would have been very worried and peeved.  Buuut, I still feel like they took their sweet time getting us ready to go.

We were in the hospital postpartum for 2 days, but when you tack that onto being induced and laboring in the hospital for 2 full days prior, it felt like a looong time.  We were tired and cranky.  I wanted my own bed and my own shower.  Next time, I am going to be packing my bags much sooner as long as we’re all good and healthy.


Now, I know I’ve just done a bit of bitching, but overall I am satisfied and have made peace with my experience.

Hell, there were even some things we did really well that I’ll totally do again:

  1. Brought my own pillow

Cannot emphasize this enough.

2. Brought my own snacks

Because you can’t always (or ever) count on hospital food.

3. Brought my own DVDs

Our hospital room had a DVD player, and I think watching Ryan Gosling helped to move labor along.  Seriously.

4. Made a labor playlist

Music really helps to calm me down, and although it didn’t magically end up taking the pain away, it definitely helped.  Perhaps Led Zeppelin will work for you, too.

5. Yell at people who aren’t meeting my needs

This includes husbands.  Sometimes, you just need to take your pain out on others.  It’s not healthy, but it’s like giving birth: you don’t always get what you want.

Relax Says Frankie

Before becoming a mom, I used to know how to relax.

I was good at it.

I could curl up with a book for hours on the weekends.  I could go to Starbucks and lose myself in sugary caffeinated heaven.  We took vacations and unplugged and were carefree.  At work, when things got particularly stressful or when I was getting a headache, I would carve out 10 minutes, set the alarm on my phone, shut my office door, and I’d lay on my therapy couch (and even on the floor before I had a couch) and just focus on my breath.  It did wonders for me, some days, or at the very least it allowed me to get through the day.

And now…

Even when I get a break, it doesn’t feel like a break.  My kid takes one nap a day now, maaaaaybe two.  Maybe.  And I don’t know when the nap is coming.  Today, it came early.  Tomorrow will be different.  I also never know how long it’s going to last.  19.5 minutes?  30 minutes?  Once in a blue moon, it’s been 1.5 hours.  And each time he goes down, I ask myself, How do I want to spend this time?

Sometimes I clean, do laundry, or otherwise get stuff done.  Other times I try to relax – watch TV, drink iced coffee, read my book, write a blog post, garden, etc.  Note the word try in that last sentence.

I’ve noticed that even when I try to relax, I just can’t.  My posture is rigid, my breathing is shallow, my ears are perked.  My son might wake up at any moment.  Right now, my son is doubled over in the most uncomfortable yoga sleeping position not 10 feet away and I am trying to type as quietly and as quickly as I can and I am trying to pull words out of me even though I don’t feel totally motivated to write in this moment.  But right now, this moment is all I have.

Let me be clear that, for me, this is not a guilt thing.  I do not feel guilty for wanting to relax or for trying.  And when I am successful at shutting the world out for a bit (including my son) I give myself a little pat on the back.  Because everyone needs that, especially moms.  And as an introvert mom, I need quiet shut-out time to recharge my batteries so I can be a better mom to my little snot machine when he wakes up, whenever he wakes up.  At least I know guilt isn’t getting in my way.

It’s very tempting to use things to induce relaxation.  I know it’s cool for moms to joke about wine and coffee, but I can totally see the dangerously slippery slope that is self-medicating when one is no longer in charge of one’s daily schedule.  Ugh, I have to wake up now?!  Better use some coffee.  Poopsticks, today was tough and I only have two hours before I crash in bed, so if I want to relax RIGHT NOW, I’d better use some wine, because wine.  Amirite?!

Sometimes I do this.  Sometimes it’s TV or food.  But I try not to.  And I am also trying to feel okay knowing that I can’t just magically make myself feel relaxed when I want to feel that way, especially when someone else is calling the shots.

I want to remind myself that, sometimes, I end up feeling relaxed when I hadn’t planned on it, and wasn’t even trying.  Which means…I don’t want to keep feeling like I am chasing relaxation, some feeling of peace that I may or may not get from a barista or a bottle of pinot.  Chasing things always takes me out of the present, where I’m more likely able to create peace for myself.  And that it’s okay when I can’t hurry up and settle down RIGHT NOW and for exactly 19.5 minutes.

With that said, he’s awake and screaming.  This time I was given about 45 minutes.

Time’s up.

Love Me, Pet Me, Feed Me

Sometimes I feel like a rockstar mom and sometimes I feel like a shitty mom.

Actually, I feel like a rockstar mom some days.  Or maybe some hours.  Some moments, really.

And I feel like, too often, I am trying to push away the shitty mom feelings.

On the bad days, I’m not able to step back and gain perspective on the day until Brian gets home and I can separate myself from the kid, breathe, and take a break.  When I finally do get that perspective, often times I realize that the D-man is just having a rough day and it has nothing to do with me.  Just because I can’t calm him, just because he won’t nap, just because he follows me around the house screaming and begging to be carried doesn’t mean that I am a shitty mom.  But man, it sure feels shitty.

Today was one of those days where I didn’t get a break.  Dylan only naps once a day now, but that’s because he sleeps like a champ at night so I’m good with that.  But today he did the thing where he chose to nap during a car ride and not while I could actually relax and take some time for myself.  This means I am literally watching the kid for the entire day, including while pooping.

I chose to go get some pictures framed today so we can actually start decorating this house we’ve lived in for…10 months now.  These days I have to force myself to get out of the house and run errands because I have this mental block on doing things like that with a baby.  They seem so hard.  I always feel rushed.  There’s so much stuff to pack.  Often, it hardly seems worth it.  But today, I went.

He was cranky, even after the car nap.  The saleslady was being super helpful, which I appreciated.  We finished just as Dylan was reaching his limit (his diaper was also reaching its limit) and so we headed to the bathroom.  Here’s the thing: Dylan hates public bathrooms.  He’s scared of the sound of the industrial flushing of the toilets.  Imagine being in Powell’s bookstore, which is a crowded madhouse on any normal day.  Try doing this with an infant in a stroller.  Try doing this when there’s a line out the door for the women’s bathroom and only one changing table…that’s currently in use.  With several stalls (meaning several toilets) and the 10 minutes it took for the woman in front of me to change her baby, that equals roughly 183556738 flushes.  Dylan was screeching and is forever traumatized.  So today, upon entering the bathroom, despite us being the only ones in there, he started whimpering.  He was screaming by the time we were done.

And then, by the time we got home, the outing had taken long enough that it was time for him to eat again.  (Eating has become a whole other ordeal, since he now grabs the spoon and flings puree everywhere in an effort to feed himself.  And finger food goes everywhere but his mouth.  But, I digress.)  And even after eating he was still clingy and fussy.  Around this time of day, the cat also starts screaming at me for food, and today was no exception.  Picture me standing in the kitchen, looking down at my two monsters – one furry, one fleshy, both on all fours – crying up at me.  Love me, pet me, feed me.

I’m not really sure where this post is going or how to end it.  And, honestly, I have mixed feelings about how today went.  On one hand, we got a lot done.  On the other, it was stressful.

I did my best

I did my best

I did my best.

Don’t Tell My Kid Not To Cry

Parents are supposed to work super hard to keep their kids happy, like, all the time.  If your kid is crying in the grocery store, then something’s wrong.  If your teenager is depressed, then you’ve failed as a parent.  If your child is angry and frustrated, you’d better punish fe because that’s just unacceptable.

Okay, so I exaggerated to make a point, but I think all the above is complete crap.

Popular rhetoric often says “I just want my kid to be happy,” and I think that’s a horrible goal – because you’ll fail.  We all will.  It’s also just not the point of life.

Unfortunately, I hear this (or read it) all the time.  What’s even worse is that I hear the negative side of this message (“Don’t worry!”  “Don’t feel sad!” and “Ooh, don’t you cry!”) to which most of us don’t give a second thought.  I suppose it makes sense to me that we would wish someone happiness, but I hate it that in the process, we too often demonize sadness and the expression of more so-called vulnerable feelings.

Like everyone else, I want the best for my kid.  I want him to have it all (whatever that means).  I want my kid to have a normal, rich life and that means experiencing the full range of emotions on a regular basis.

All this essentially boils down to: Don’t tell my kid not to cry.

You may think this message [being told not to cry] is harmless, but I assure you, it’s not.  By telling my kid not to cry, you’re telling him that his feelings are invalid.  You’re telling him that sadness is bad…or weak…or embarrassing.  If he internalizes the message as he gets older, he may interpret that he is bad or weak for feeling such things.

As for right now, he’s a baby.  Crying is normal.  (It’s also normal for humans of all ages, for that matter.)  Crying is how he communicates that he needs to be cared for.  As a parent, it is not my job to stop my baby from crying; it is my job to develop a tolerance for it.  And I suggest you do, too.

There’s a diaper commercial that I saw recently that promises that if you use their product, your baby will “always be comfortable.”  And I was like, “Are you kidding?!  Babies are hardly ever comfortable!  They sit in their own pee and poop and they get horrible gas and colic and they have huge teeth shoving their way through their hard gums…no one would be comfortable with all that going on!”  But the implication is that, as parents, it is our job to make sure that our kids are always comfortable.

The Princess Bride had it right: “Life is pain, Highness.  Anyone who says differently is selling something.”  Like diapers.

But back to that commercial.  What crazy high standards!  Nye, impossible standards!  And dare I say it – unhealthy.  As humans, we are meant to feel emotions – all of them – so we can bond with each other and learn from our mistakes and protect ourselves and live full lives.  I desperately don’t want my kid to feel self-conscious about living an authentic life just because other people may be squeamish around tears.

The other layer that plays into this issue is gender.  Although my son can’t express his gender yet, chances are he’ll identify as male, and little boys get the “don’t cry” message far more than girls.  This double standard scares me, and I hope to give my son the much more powerful message that he should be able to feel sad for any reason and express his sadness at any time.

I also want my son to know that whenever someone tells him not to cry (or whenever someone invalidates any of his feelings) that it says more about that person’s discomfort around authentic displays of emotion than it does about him.  Because as long as he’s being authentic, and as long as the way he chooses to express himself doesn’t hurt someone else, then he’s one brave little man.

When Worlds Collide

Something exciting happened, you guys.  And it was something I’ve never done before.

At long last, I was finally able to meet a fellow blogger in the real world!

Thank you so much, Dawn from Tales From The Motherland, for driving all the way to my home to meet me and my baby boy!!

Meeting someone in person whose writing I’ve consumed for quite some time is a very odd, exciting experience.  There was this collision of worlds as I tried to piece together Dawn’s voice and mannerisms with her presence on the page.  There was a mixture of intimacy and understanding along with this semi-awkward (for me) getting-to-know-you-phase.

It’s hard for me to meet new people, and that’s why blogging is extra special to me.  Through my blog, I get to “meet” people and delve into meaningful conversations right away; I get to skip the meaningless (for me), anxiety-ridden chit-chat and get right to the point.  Plus, there’s the added bonus of being able to take extra time and compose and edit exactly what I want to say.

Finally meeting Dawn in person was pretty awesome.  Because we dig each others’ writing, we already knew each other on a deeper level, and getting to see each other face-to-face added another layer to our relationship.

Dawn and I talked about a bunch of things in our too short visit (which means we’ll have to do this again sometime): blogging, family, living in the Pacific Northwest, raising kids, blogging, both of us being mental health providers at times in our lives, blogging.  I got to pick Dawn’s brain about moving forward with blogging (however that may look for me) and about her recent success on The Huffington Post (go read one of my favorites here!), which is much deserved.

At one point, Dawn commented (and I’m paraphrasing) on how we all present a certain self in our blogging, and that she appreciates it when that self lines up with the self we present in person.  I’m glad that she thought that my writing matches how I present myself in person – I really appreciate that feedback.  It also got me thinking about how rapidly my self is evolving, especially since becoming a mom, and how that is reflected in my writing.  Basically, my visit with Dawn gave me the kind of feedback I’d never had before, and really got me thinking about my writing and inspired me to keep on working at it, even if it’s only in 20 minute increments while my little man sleeps.

Dylan's still not sure about our redheaded visitor...

Dylan’s still not sure about our redheaded visitor…

So thanks again, Dawn!  I’m so glad we finally got to meet and I am happy to call you a friend – both online and in person.  If y’all haven’t read her stuff yet, I highly recommend you check her out.  You won’t regret it.

(Here’s Dawn’s post on our meeting, in case you missed it.)