Opposites of Parenthood

Opposites of Parenthood
 
One of the best things about parenting is the love. I love my children. They love me. It’s great. I get hugs and random notes and snuggles. It’s like marinating in the best love-sauce ever. I never get enough of it. Parenting is the best job in the world just for the love. When my kids come slinking up and say “Mom, I need a hug,” I slap a sympathetic smile on my face and hide my inner cheers of “more hug!”
 
Alas, there’s a flip side. No, the other side isn’t hate (although sometimes I do get that temporarily from my teens), it’s worry. I worry about my kids. A lot. Okay, maybe more than I should. I try to stop. They’re fine, I tell myself. Leave them alone and they’ll come home, all in one piece. But, I say, what if they need help? What if they’re in trouble? Maybe I’m a bad parent. Maybe I ruined them. Maybe I should have done something differently, better, more, less…The sleepless nights of physical demands from infants turn into sleepless nights of worry.
 
Another great part of parenting is watching my kids grow up into good people making good decisions. Yes, she made a new friend today. Yay, he listened in church. Whew, she resisted bad peer pressure. Hooray, he aced a test. Hallelujah, they didn’t crash the car! Maybe I’m a good parent, after all, or maybe my kids are just that good all on their own. I’ll never know, but I guess it doesn’t matter as long as they turn out well. They have so much promise, and I love seeing it develop.
 
On the other hand, it’s parental anguish watching them make bad choices, particularly when there’s nothing I can do to help or fix things. I want to help. Oh, I want to help, but there are times when either I CAN’T do anything, or, for the sake of their growth and independence, I SHOULDN’T do anything. Either situation is sheer torture because I want to save them, protect them from the world. I hate watching them be short-sighted or endangered. I cry when I think they might not get the chance to be as amazing as I know they can be.
Being a mom was always my career of choice, from the time I was a little kid, and it still is, even now that I know how hard it is. Parenting is the best of times, and the worst of times, all rolled up in one adorable, hair-whitening package.

New Year, New Mom Goals

New Year, New Mom goals

Someone once said don’t wait for a new year to start resolutions, start making goals today. I mean, isn’t the stat like 90% of New Year’s resolutions don’t make it to February? I don’t know. All I know is that there were like 10 ladies in the fitness center during my workout time that I’ve never seen before… I’ll come back in February. Totally kidding, I hope they reach their goals.

I digress.

While I believe in that statement wholeheartedly, it’s hard when a new year comes around to not reflect on the past and plan for the future and, ultimately, start New years resolutions.

One of my “goals” this year is to exhaust more effort into my kiddos. Now I’m not saying I don’t give them all the love and care they need each day, I do. But I often catch myself doing the bare minimum of keeping them alive. And I’m in no way saying that’s a bad thing. We all have days, weeks, months, maybe even years where it seems the best we can give is simply keeping them alive. Life is hard, having kids is hard. Keeping them alive is good. I totally get it. I get a lot of anxiety when it’s just me and the kids and I often get depressed so for a while the bare minimum was what I could do. However, I feel like I’m in a place right now where I can give more, and I want to.

I’ve been asking myself, How much time and energy am I devoting to my kids vs maybe other not so necessary things? Often I feel obligated to read that book, play that game, or go to that place. I want to replace obligation with opportunity.

Here are some Opportunities I thought of:

1. What activity can we do together that we both enjoy?

2. How can I turn this activity into a life lesson or teaching moment?

3. I have 15 minutes at least one evening a week to plan a craft, or a preschool lesson instead of thinking I’m busy or tired.

4. What can I research to learn how to teach my kids patience, responsibility, and love? I’m certainly no expert.

5. Can I take time to cuddle for 10 minutes instead of thinking of my to-do list?

6. Instead of me doing all the shopping, planning, and preparing for dinner, I could get my kids involved. It’ll definitely take longer, but worth it.

7. I want to sit and talk to them at least once a day.

8. Listen more and yell less.

9. Have more patience especially on my impatient days.

10. Have less impatient days.

I’m not saying I want to lose myself or overwork myself, but I want to discover myself through my kids.

Those that know me well know that I struggle with being a stay-at-home mom and the baby stage. I want to look at my kids more like opportunities to learn, grow and love. This year I’ll be working, so it’s an even better reason to start anew.

Here are some New Year’s Gifs for your viewing pleasure:

 

The Happy Highs and the Lonely Lows

These are my own highs and lows of being a mother. It’s so good, but comes with some challenges.

The Lows:

Lonely. I have had some of the loneliest days being a mom. I never knew just how much I relied on adult interaction. It can be so hard to not talk to anyone all day but a baby, or a 4 year old. You really have to put yourself out there and get out everyday to talk and be part of the community. It can be really hard at times. I’ve gotten depressed over being lonely. 

Getting ABSOLUTELY NOTHING done. Some days are just spent keeping the kids alive. They always need something from you. ALWAYS. even if you’ve gone out of your way to make them comfortable before you sit down and start working in that scrapbook that you’ve been trying to finish for 4 years. You might get lots of things started, but nothing seems to get finished. And if you do start something your children need to be in your lap at that moment. It’s also hard feeling productive. Some days are completely dedicated to your kids and even though you’ve cleaned noses, wiped butts, picked up toys, made dinner, started laundry, started a project, changed clothes, gave baths, read a story, played hide-n-seek, gave hugs, cured boo-boos, and wiped tears, it seems unfulfilling and repetitive.

Speaking of in your lap, Space. Oh my gosh. I’m excited for my kids to go to bed just so they’ll stop touching me. No matter where I am, they find me, and sit on me. If I’m on the couch they are right there! Every time. I mean, I love my cuddles, but I hate being climbed on all day. I am not a jungle gym. Every room in the house seems to belong to them, even if you didn’t intend it that way. Somehow your very nice ________ (everything) becomes theirs. They always find me when I have to go to the bathroom. You just want some space.
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Messy. Everything is messy, all the time. They are so destructive. Destroy is their motto. I mean why do you need to beat the DVD case against the TV? Or tear all the ornaments off my tree? OR empty the box of Cheerios all over the floor. Nothing is safe. And you always think “they can’t hurt that”…..oh, but they can! I clean the house 5 times a day, and if I don’t it looks like I haven’t cleaned it in a week. Asking them to pick anything up is just as exhausting as doing it yourself, but you want to teach them good habits so you involve them anyway.

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The Highs:

They’re MINE: They love me more than anything (right now). They come to ME when they’re feeling down, hurt, afraid, and tired. That makes me feel so special. I am their number one. I created them and brought them into the world. That’s magical stuff right there!

Discovering yourself. My kids have taught me so much in the 4 years that I’ve been a mom. I’ve learned service, and what it truly means to put someone else’s needs before your own. I make sure everyone is fed before I start eating my dinner sometimes, and boy can I get Hangry!

I’ve learned patience. So much patience. I’m still not completely patient. There is soooo much more patience to be had. But I’m learning it….that’s for sure!

I’ve learned Humility. There’s nothing more humbling then a 4 year old putting you in your place. How are kids so smart? She humbles me everyday.

I’ve learned how to be the person my kids need to be even if it puts me outside my comfort zone. I also want to be the person that my kids look up to and see as their hero or example. I’ve tried to emulate that person through prayer, scripture study, and being a force for good and optimistic.

Love. You learn so much about love and how much your heart can love. With each addition to my family I have that much more to lose in life. I love them more than anything. I would do anything for them. My heart aches when they are hurting or frustrated or can’t understand something. You just want to do everything for them, but teach them how to do it on their own at the same time.

Cute. They’re cute. So much cuteness. I love hearing my daughter talk to me about her day in complete sentences. Or how she asks me questions about life. I love to watch my 1 year old push toys around the house and learning what to do when he hits a wall, or how he watches Rae with the expression “what the heck are you doing”?

Alexander 2017 (22 of 24)

I guess I’ll keep them. 🙂

 

The Ups and Downs

The Best Parenting Advice. . .

While I was pregnant with my first, I was told by many, many people that, “Children are the greatest joy.” I was also told repeatedly that, “Life would never be the same.” Or even, “Say goodbye to your freedom.” Let’s just say that the moment that strip turns positive, suddenly all sorts of mixed advice comes from everywhere and everyone.

All of this random and conflicting advice was so hard to understand at the time. How could my kids be the best thing ever, but also destroy parts of my very being and life? It didn’t make sense then, but it definitely does now.

You know Forest Gump? Well, I’ve never seen it. But, I do know that Mr. Gump believes, “Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.” Just like the contradicting advice that I got while I was pregnant, every morning I wake up as a Mom, I’m not sure what my day is going to be like. Some days, it seems like I am raising cherubs sent straight from Heaven; other days, I wonder what evil creature took possession over my child’s body the night before. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” has never made more sense until becoming parent.

Cleaning up spilled orange juice for the third time in a row, listening to my children scream at each other over toys, waking up to change sheets in the middle of the night for various bodily excrements, feeling so isolated from regular human society while I pick up toys and wipe snot all day long — the worst of times.

Listening to my children say, “I love you, too, Mommy,” watching my babies fall asleep while I rock them and sing songs in my arms, licking the brownie batter off of the spoon together, squeezing their chunky, dimpled bums, hearing their excited laughter when we talk about visiting grandma’s house, trick-or-treating in their sibling-coordinated costumes — the best of times.

I think I stopped hating myself so much when I realized that it was okay to sincerely loathe this parenting thing one minute and then fall back in love with it the very next minute. It’s absolutely impossible to explain this emotional whiplash to an expectant mother, but for all those who tried, thank you. Now that I’m a few years in, I know that all of the ups and downs are normal and to-be-expected. I believe that is what everyone was trying to teach me when they gave their advice to me as a wide-eyed newbie. It’s okay to love it. It’s okay to hate it. It’s okay to miss parts of who you were before kids. It’s okay to long for graduation day. It’s also okay to cry at night because of how fast your children are growing up.

My advice? You’re doing okay  Your kids are okay. It’s all okay.

-Sam

Truth Bombs at 2 AM

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My terrible sleeping habits of staying up for an early morning bedtime continue even though the 2 AM breastfeeding sessions stopped weeks ago. So instead of dreaming about out of this world coupon sales, I’m letting out sighs of despair while scrubbing chocolate milk stains and whatever else my children rub into their clothing.
Two days ago these clothes were piled into colors, special fabrics, and bleach jobs all awaiting treatment from the laundress. Who is yours truly, of course. My piles lasted until my daughter left the bathroom sink on, which doubles as the laundry room. The floor was covered in water. In order to clean up the mess, The Hubbs compacted my soggy piles into one large basket before soaking up the rest of the liberated liquid. Now, armed with my Sams Club special size Shout bottle and a sponge, I can feel the anger from two days ago begin to surface again. Oh how angry I was. Angry and ready to teach a lesson to my inattentive child. I yelled, she cried. Lectures were given and a bedroom hastily cleaned in order to avoid more anger. Progress had been made. I wasn’t happy about the methods, but I couldn’t deny that I was happy about the newly made bed and clean room. I wish I didn’t have to yell, and that she would not cry. I worry that as a result there could be an ever growing rift between us. Irreparable and untrusting. In the quiet of the night I continue to furiously work on the new water stains and wonder if there is anyway to get the mildew spots out. The steady stream of running water is therapeutic, but I need more. It’s lonely at 2 in the morning and I need company. In a moment of good judgement I begin to listen to the World Wide Women’s Conference from two weeks ago. I had half listened to the talks live. Figuring now would be as good a time as any to allow myself some spiritual growth. Heaven knows how much I need it!
\What I learn while laundering in the wee morning hours:
1. My children drink too much chocolate milk
2. I should utilize the bib drawer more often
3. I want to hire out my laundry
These were my common sense lessons, except for #3, that’s just a wish. However, as I listen to the words of wise spiritual leaders one thought begins to stick in my mind. The last but most valuable lesson of the night.
4. Carry Christ’s torch
There is so much chaos anymore. A lot of it’s political, some caused by natural disasters, illnesses, the economy, even religion. Some of the chaos is in the US and lots of it is world wide. Whatever it is, non of us goes untouched. We all have our own cause, our own torch to carry in hopes of enlightening those around us.
As I scrub out my 96th chocolate milk stain I hear Elder Uchtdorf talking about life filled with disappointment, ever continuous opposition. The irony of his words hit me and I realize these stains aren’t going to end. I will not wake up one morning and not have a new stain waiting to be scrubbed. Everyday there will be new opposition whether it’s self inflicted or forced upon us. Whether we are perfectly righteous or perfectly wicked. No matter if we manage to incite others to our thought patterns or not…. there will always be those who oppose.
As the conference comes to a close I hear Elder Uchtdorf speaking of WWII saying, “This war was caused by my own nation…. They silenced those they did not like. They shamed and demonized them. They considered them inferior—even less than human.” To admit that it was his people who induced world wide havoc less than a century ago is not only humbling but compelling. A plea to be listened too. It is not our torch that will bring the world to it’s knees, invite social justice or rectify a loss.
My torch will not lessen chocolate milk stains or bathroom mishaps. It might result in hastily cleaned bedrooms, but at what cost to my relationship with my daughter. His torch though, is bright enough to right the wrong, heal the suffering, enlighten the confused. We can find confidence through His atonement, His love and ultimately His plan. I am reminded of the Proverb, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) So what can we do but let it be His torch we carry. Allowing His light to illuminate our way. My tactics to scrubbing out these brown stains are always changing as new tricks are discovered. Tonight my new tricks go beyond laundry and the words “I’m trying to be like Jesus, I’m learning to love as He did” becomes a little more relevant. I find myself grateful for these small moments at 2 AM when I’m hit with a spiritual truth bomb.
To listen to the inspiring words of the World Wide Women’s Conference visit LDS.org.
-Courtney

Secondary Parenting

I’ve been thinking about “secondary parenting,” which is what I call it when aunts & uncles, or grandparents, or teachers, or neighbors, etc. give your children advice or tell them to behave. I know parents for whom this is an annoying experience, but I actually like it, for at least two reasons.
First, except for the occasional random person in the supermarket, the “secondary parents” are usually people who care about my children. As far as I’m concerned, the more people that love my children and want to help them improve, the better.
Second, no matter the age of my children, from toddler to adult, they have always listened to someone else better than to their parents. Alas, that seems to be one of the rules of the universe. Parents are dumb and out-of-touch, right? We tell them the rules of life: they scoff. A teacher or leader or relative tells them the SAME thing: they nod sagely and wonder why their parents never mentioned it. *facepalm*
Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do our part. If we don’t lay the invisible groundwork first, these second “parents” are going to be treated like the original parents: dumb and out-of-touch. It’s only when they’re the second witness that the magic works. The children might not admit that their parents are right (about anything, if you have teens or two-year-olds), but when their secondary parents back up their first ones, it makes a difference both in the way the children behave and in their belief system. Give it enough time, and they might actually start to think you know what you’re talking about.
It might not take a village, but you can’t do it alone. So the next time your child is careening through the hall and his teacher swoops him to a stop and says “walk, please,” reinforce her message to your child and whisper “thank you” over his head.
Thank you, teacher who told my son he really did have to redo substandard homework. Thank you, aunt who told my children weeding wasn’t going to kill them. Thank you, random stranger who kept my child from running into the street and topped it off with a reminder to hold Mom’s hand. Thank you, everyone who helped my children decide what they want to do when they grow up. Thank you, all the wonderful secondary parents in my children’s lives, for everything you’ve done for our family.
-Martha

Dating in Marriage

My husband likes to say that marriage is like a tree. If you want it to grow, you have to water it. If you were to plant a garden and go to all the work of tilling the soil, buying little plants, digging holes and planting them, you wouldn’t just forget about your garden and hope that it gets enough rain, would you? So why do we do this with our marriages? We go to so much effort to be our best selves when we’re dating and engaged, to plan dates every week, to serve each other and do little romantic things to make each other happy. Why should this stop when we’re married? If you are married, and want to stay happily married, it shouldn’t! Obviously things change when we’re married. We become more comfortable and relaxed with each other, we see each other at our best and worst, and our love grows and deepens.
But then kids come along, and we get so caught up in caring for them that it’s easy to let our marriages be put on the back burner. There are so many excuses we could make. We’re too busy. Too tired. Can’t find or afford a babysitter to go on dates. Can’t afford to pay for date activities anyway. And we’re already married anyway, so we don’t need to keep trying to keep our spark alive or impress each other. It’s game over, right? No way!
I believe that having a strong, happy marriage is one of the most important things we can do to be good parents. Kids thrive when they are raised in a loving, safe home with a mother and father. When we have a strong and happy marriage we can teach our kids so much through our example. We show them how to have healthy relationships with friends and future romantic interests. We show them how to be kind, respectful, loving and thoughtful. We show them how to handle disagreements in a positive, mature way. And when we are in a happy, strong marriage, we can have the strength to handle trials in life, and the hard days of parenting (or just the stress of life). When we have a hard day with our kids, it’s so good to know that we can turn to our spouse to vent and cry and they’ll be there to support us.
We can’t let our marriages slide. We have to work hard to keep loving each other, and to keep our relationship strong and happy. How can we do this? There are so many things we can work on, but the most fun way to keep our spark alive is by dating! Dating isn’t just for single people. It shouldn’t end the day you get married. Dates don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. You don’t even have to leave your house. What matters is that you are doing something together with no distractions. No kids, work, Facebook, etc. Just you and your spouse doing something fun together. Here are a few of our favorite at home dates (for after the kids are in bed), and cheap/free dates (for when we can swap babysitting with friends).
– Make, or just eat ethnic food and watch a movie of that ethnicity (for example, make Indian curry or crepes and watch “The Hundred Foot Journey”)
– Buy a few different kinds of fancy chocolate or cheese, and have a chocolate or cheese tasting. Sparkling cider and candles wouldn’t hurt either 😉
– Go bowling with a coupon
– Paint or do some kind of art together
– Carve pumpkins and eat caramel apples
– Walk around downtown and go window shopping. Buy a dessert or snack to share at a bakery or cafe
– Go on a hike or nature walk
– Go to a free museum
– Make cookies and play a board game or work on a puzzle together
– Make butterbeer or pumpkin pasties and watch Harry Potter
What have been some of your favorite dates? I’m always looking for new ideas!
-Allison

Endurance

Early March in Provo:

We have the parks to ourselves most of the time. We all have to wear several layers of clothes to stay warm and the stroller is crowded with fleece blankets. Despite my preparations within a few minutes fingertips and chubby cheeks are pink and noses start to drip. My 2.5 year old begs for hot chocolate and to go home after only ten minutes.

You’d think that because I brought so much stuff to the park the kids could stay forever, but they are just beginning to use their atrophied muscles again after the long winter indoors. Their strength has been lost and they have no stamina. A half hour at the park yields an hour or two nap once we get home.
For the most part, I’m pleased with those results because my levels of endurance are also at a low point. I can’t endure picking up the legos 12 times a day. I can’t endure another showing of Finding Dory. I just can’t endure another minute inside our tiny house and once the temperature reaches 50 degrees, all I can think of is summertime!
Fast forward to September in Provo:
We have a play date first thing in the morning with plenty of time out on the swing set and sandbox in the back yard. Immediately following our play date we’d either go to a park, on a short hike, or to a splash pad for lunch with my sister and her kids. Six hours of constant activity and three changes of clothes in March would give me the afternoon off, but in September only the baby naps. My 3 year-old demands that we do watercolors and play house (where she is always the mom and I’m usually referred to as “Hey, Kid!”) as soon as we walk through the door.
The recipe for a napping house and a free afternoon doesn’t work by the end of the Summer. I realize that my toddler is now 3 years old and maybe doesn’t need a nap, but I need her to need a nap! Somehow her endurance levels have surpassed mine and I can’t wear her out without being totally worn out myself. I find myself reaching for Dory… take the reins, you beautiful tropical fish… Mommy needs a nap.
-Emily
Mini Bio:  I love studying the pros and cons of different (non-traditional) methods of teaching and learning and enjoy experimenting with my 3 year old and 18 month old girls. Read more about Emily on our About Us page.

Real Mamas Blog

Have you ever hit it off with someone that you just met for the first time? You made it past the small talk and found something you could relate to. Maybe you even got to that level where you could share your struggles without feeling judged. Best of all, you could be yourself.

Welcome to Real Mamas! We’re a group of 9 moms who have shared hours of real talk about life and parenting, which was new to us all when we met. We laughed and we cried. We talked through the rough and tough, and encouraged hopes and joys. We were the exact kind of support that each of us needed.

Our story:

Once upon a time, we all lived in Provo, Utah. Most of us started our little families there, and we depended on each other for love, comfort, fun, and most importantly, SANITY. We’ve gone our separate ways since then. Some mamas are still in Provo, but mostly we have scattered to other parts of Utah and beyond. We’re just a bunch of cool moms doing our thing and trying to be the best mamas to our (sometimes) wonderful children while keeping the kids alive, being a wife, and finding time to live our dreams.

We hope the different perspectives of our mamas can offer you solace during your own mommy journey. You’re not alone in whatever you might be struggling with–whether with parenting or just life–and our goal is to bring you some uplifting voices and a boost to your sanity.

If you check out our About Us page, you can read about all our lovely mamas. We invite you to read along and share with us this crazy thing called motherhood!

-Charlie

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