On Having Kids

This morning, a twitter friend was talking about how she decided at a young age that she did not want to have kids. But no matter how she insisted, she couldn’t find any doctors who would give her a tubal. She now has one child, and went on to say that people think she’s being funny when she says she doesn’t recommend kids to friends.

That started me thinking about how much my life has shifted in the last 2 years. For the first 15 years of my adult life I was child-less and husband-less. I’m counting from 22, when I got out of college. I spent that time doing pretty much whatever I wanted to do, without having to answer to someone or make elaborate plans. If you have kids early, then you don’t have all that time to get into that independent routine.

HH has been a father since he was 17. 17. So, his whole adult life there has been a child to raise. I honestly cannot imagine my 17 year old self having a child, not even my 22 year old self.

So, while I love our little Toots to the moon and beyond, when I found out I was pregnant, I kind of saw that as the end of “my” life for a few years. I spent so much time coming and going and doing whatever, and I knew that was coming to a swift end.

The simplest things need “a plan” now. You cannot be spontaneous with a child. You just can’t. Babysitters must be arranged. Schedules must be coordinated. I don’t know about every other mother, but for me with a child under 1, sleep is at a premium. Lemme say that again: sleep is at a premium. There have honestly been times where I had to decide to sleep or eat, and I have chosen sleep. And that over the top sex drive that’s supposed to kick in for us women when we get around 40? Non-existent for me. (I’m sure much to HH’s chagrin, LOL). I just want to sleep.

I mean, if I want to stop and do something after work I’ve got to go home first, because I’m carting around breast milk that I pumped during the day at work. Forget that mac & cheese commercial talking about liquid gold. Breast milk is liquid gold, and it absolutely cannot be wasted!

They say when you become a parent, you become less selfish. Maybe most folks do. But I still want my “me” time and often feel guilty about taking it, which is crazy. I’ve got to take care of myself to be there for HH and the kids. And yet, the thought of coordinating breast feeding, pumping and schedules just to take one yoga class makes me feel like, “just forget it.”

I’m just being honest here.

And I still don’t necessarily like everyone’s babies just because I have one now. LOL! I don’t envision a future where I spend my entire weekend wrapped up in my child’s sports activities. But who knows – that could very well be my future, and I’ll deal with it. My coworker’s son plays baseball and she was saying how the parents of the kids on the team become your main friends. Uh, I don’t want to lose my old friends.

Parenting is hard. Everybody knows that. It is physically draining. Some nights I’m pissed that my kid loves my b00bs so much that she wants to breast feed at 2:45am. I’m frustrated with HH’s work schedule which leaves me solely on baby duty every afternoon and evening on the weekends. He has days off during the week, so he can go freely because she’s at daycare. I miss being able to just decide to go to ATL or to VA on short notice. Matter of fact, we had a come to Jesus convo about this, because I really don’t think he understood how things were from my point of view. Again, he’s been at this since 17. Also, neither of my stepsons was breast fed, so he didn’t have that either. I think in his mind, it should’ve just fallen into place for me.

Uh, no.

Lemme tell you, when my sisters and brother started having their kids, I was not jumping up talking about, “I can’t wait to babysit!” Nope. Matter of fact, when my sisters kids used to visit in the summer time and play with my better’s kids, it was nothing but a cacophony of aggravation, in my book. I used to chuck the deuces, go to my room and close the door. LOL!

I’ve never had that internal ticking clock. Not at any time in my 20s or early 30s. Matter of fact, I tried my hardest to date men WITHOUT kids, although as I got older that got harder to do.

At the end of the day, parenting is not for everyone. I respect the people who can say without a doubt that they DON’T want to have kids. It’s smart that they know this. And if you want them, have them. If you’re healthy, don’t let that “advanced maternal age” speech from the doctor scare you away completely.

Just know that sometimes it may not feel like candy canes and rainbows.

And you may not feel like every other parent feels about parenting – I know I don’t always feel the same as my peers.

And that’s ok. You won’t get sent to parenting hell for that.

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I Guess We’re the Village

CH has a friend. We’ll call him S. S is in the ROTC with him, and doesn’t live too far from us, now that his family has moved. I feel some kind of way about his family and his home situation.

A few weeks ago, he came to spend the night. They had an ROTC event, and he was going to ride with CH. This was a Friday night. Saturday I went to pick them up, and CH asks can he spend the night again. Sure, if that’s ok with his aunt and/or grandmother. He stays. The next day, HH heads to work and tells them to wrap their weekend up by 5:00.

At 4:55, CH comes to me wanting to know if I can give S a ride home. Something about his aunt didn’t want to drive in the rain. And? I’m supposed to drag my 4 month old out in the rain? No! Make arrangements to get your kid. Or, as an ADULT, you call me to square the situation away. Don’t send messages through the kids. As you can tell, I was a bit perturbed. We don’t send CH anywhere without arrangements to pick him up, or prior agreement with other parents to drop him off.

Long story short, these trifling azzed people his family do not come and pick him up or make arrangements for him to be picked up. HH has to take him home at 11:30pm.

Who does this?!?

He’s been over another night since then, but now that they live closer it’s walking distance. One day I asked CH what’s the deal. This was a day that I was nice enough to drop him at home, since I was running errands. To my chagrin, we pull up and there’s two cars in their driveway (grrrrrrr – you got 2 cars but can’t give your kid rides anywhere?!?) Anywho, CH says he lives with his aunt and grandmother, and from the little interaction he had with them, he even felt that they were trifling. He said that S always calls or texts him on the weekends wanting to know what he’s doing, and saying he’s trying to get away from the house. I asked him what does S plan to do after HS. He said he’s going into the military.

I don’t know where his mother is…but it appears his aunt/grandmother took him in, and they act like it was done under duress. Why would you take him in if you didn’t want to be involved in his life?

I feel bad for him, but I am not about to entertain and feed him every weekend. He looks to be well clothed. When they’re not paying attention, I check for signs of any physical abuse, and I haven’t seen any.

Yesterday morning he walked to our house so he could get a ride to ROTC. He came back with CH in the afternoon and stayed here until CH sent me a text asking if he could stay the night. I said no, maybe next weekend before we head to NY. I wasn’t feeling well, and Lailah was on one. I felt kind of bad, but I just wasn’t in the mood.

I’m trying not to make too many assumptions. Maybe he’s trouble when he’s home. Although I don’t think so, because he’s super polite when he’s here. If I go grocery shopping, he’s trying to beat CH to the car to get the bags. They made breakfast for everyone last weekend and cleaned the kitchen. He clearly knows the rules here. LOL

On the one hand, I feel good that our home is an environment that he feels comfortable in, but on the other, you’re not going to hand your kid off to me and I’ve never even met or talked to you. It takes a village to raise a child, but my goodness. I just really wonder what goes on at his house, that he always wants to escape…

2 Minute Gratitude List

The other day, I read a blog on Ten Things Moms Need to Remember. I posted it on my FB page, and several mommy friends thanked me for posting it.

Even though I haven’t said much to friends, or posted much about it, most weeks I feel like I am not getting it right. Lailah is the most precious gift I’ve received, but I have a hard time dividing my days between work, her, HH, CH, and on yeah – myself! I feel like I am getting it wrong almost daily, which leads to at least two people being frustrated. It’s like a rain cloud that just follows me around. It frequently brings me to tears (in the shower, of course, because I feel like I can’t show this frustration to everyone). I’d say that it’s a small cloud, because in the scheme of things I have a ton to be thankful for. But the cloud is still there.

Number 8 on the list of 10 things to remember is “keep writing your gratitude list.” This is something I used to do a lot of. I even had a phone app and a journal app on the iPad. Neither of which have been used much lately. The author of the blog posted a Google docs link to a free printable for completing a 2 Minute Grateful List:

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You set yourself a timer for 2 minutes, and list the things you are grateful for today. On her blog, she mentioned a lot of little things I don’t even think of. Like coffee. Music playing. Freedom. The sweater she was wearing. The possibilities are clearly endless.

I started writing these earlier this week. My lists are kind of small right now. It’s hard to write a long list when you are feeling frustrated. However, I’ve found in those 2 minutes I feel a little better. I put the list up on the fridge each day so I can look at it when I’m in the kitchen.

At first, I was going to just do this without telling anyone. I wanted to see if I could keep it up on my own. I changed my mind because I figured you guys could help keep me accountable. I know at least two of my Twit.ter friends will harass remind me about the list.

Do you write a grateful list each day or periodically? If not, have you ever thought about trying it?

See What Happens?

CH got his report card yesterday. Or maybe it was the day before. I’ve got my days all mixed up as of late. Life with an infant will do that.

Any who, at the beginning of the year, his chemistry grade was a H.A.M. There was tutoring available and he wasn’t taking advantage of it. He was acting like a D was cool. Uh, no.

So needless to say, I was psyched to see his final grade as a B! Like maybe some of what I said was sinking in. He did get a C in math, but there’s some delay in the final grade on the state exam. He could possibly end up with a B in there as well.

I got home today and HH told me to go look in CH’s room. I knocked and went in to find a tv on his tall dresser.

Me: nice! See what happens when you bring those grades up?

Him: wait. This is because of my grades?

Me: not solely, but do you think this tv would be here if your report card had C’s and D’s?

Him: *looking as if a lightbulb came on* nope!

Now, I actually didn’t know HH was gonna get him a tv today. We need to flesh out the rules for usage and what things constitute removing the satellite box and Xbox. But I hope he sees now that there can be good consequences for doing what you’re supposed to do. It’s a welcomed change from having to discipline all. The. Time.

We shall see how long this lasts. LOL

My Thoughts on Step Parenting

This blog is, like, weeks late. I read this blog where a blogger was asked to give her thoughts on step parenting. It stemmed from this post from another blogger, Drollgirl. I don’t want to re-hash what they said. I agree with points in both blogs. Just want to add my two cents, before Lailah wakes up from this catnap she’s taking. Her sleep schedule is a whole other blog in itself. LOL! Anywho…

Like Drollgirl, I grew up with my siblings and both my parents. There were no step parents and no step siblings. I had no direct exposure to the blended family, though some of my friends did.

One of the lines in Drollgirl’s post stuck out to me. She said that her boyfriend told her, “…I would never be a mother to his kids — they already had one.” That’s pretty much my approach. I’m not here to be CH’s mom. She is alive and well and very much a part of his life. He lives with us because he’s at the age where he needs his dad’s foot up his butt guidance.

I remember trading teen stories with a coworker who has a teenage son the same age as CH. At one point, he was basically telling me that I should refer to CH as my son. To which I politely told him, but he’s not. To me, referring to him as my stepson is ok, because he refers to me as his stepmom. We know our roles and assume them accordingly. I always love how people who have never experienced step parenting have the most advice. Not. LOL

CH calls me by my first name. I’m ok with that. If he’s talking to one of his friends on the phone, I’ve heard him refer to me as his “stepmom.” That’s what I am. I have no complaints. He comes to me to talk about relationship questions, same as he does to HH. We talk about school. When I direct or ask him to do something, he does it. We’ve never had that awful “you aren’t my mother!” moment. Does he get on my nerves? Yes. Do I get on his? Probably. But I think that happens in all parent/child relationships.

I do think it’s important that all the parents are on one accord. CH also has a stepdad, as his mom is remarried. I’ve never heard him say anything negative about him. If I could change one thing, it would be that his mom and I communicated with regard to him. I think that’s where Jada Pinkett Smith’s story is rare, and may have folks thinking that step parenting is a cake walk. Kind of like The Brady Bunch and Modern Family.

One thing I noticed at Thanksgiving, and even now when we’re talking about them, he refers to my mom as “Grandma” and he calls my siblings “Aunt” and “Uncle.” He refers to their kids as his cousins. I found out the other day that he called my niece to talk after he broke up with his girlfriend. To me, that means we’ve done a pretty good job with the “blended family” notion.

It still throws me off when he calls my mom “Grandma.” I always think he’s talking about my mother in law. Then I realize the context of the convo and figure out that he’s not. I think he does a little better job at the blended family than I do, at times.

Step parenting is up and down. One week it’s easy, and the next week you’re over it. That’s the best way I can sum it up.

The One Where We Went to the ER

After Ms. Lailah sounded like she was wheezing and she vomited up her breast milk like Lin.da Bla.ir in The Ex.orcist.

What can I say? I’m a new mommy. And she sounded like she could not breathe very well. This is that lovely cold that started Thursday evening. Good ol’ daycare germs.

Of course, when we got there, she had fallen asleep and seemed to be breathing normally. But even HH said she sounded like she was wheezing, so I know it wasn’t just me.

She had a chest x-ray and it was clear. She wasn’t running a temp when we got there, but her temp had been slightly elevated previously. The doctor said he wasn’t surprised at that or the previous wheezing.

In the end, they told us to use a humidifier in her room (which would be our room, right now) and to use saline drops three times a day to help clear out her nose with the bulb aspirator.

So, HH is in the 24 hour CVS getting the saline drops and distilled water. I suspect we will all crash and burn when we get home.

One Month In

Little Miss L is one month old! I can’t believe it. That means it’s almost time for me to go back to work. *sigh*

Yesterday, while she was asleep, I went through my bin of fall/winter clothes. I realized that my new upper body is NOT fitting in anything marked “medium” any time soon. So, all of those sweaters and tops from New York and Company are in a box – they will either go to friends or to a women’s shelter. I can still fit some of my pre-pregnancy jeans, so at least there’s that. *looks down at chest*

Miss L is in charge of all schedules. I prayed to every deity known that she would give me a long stretch of sleep last night. What did I get? Woken up every 2-2.5 hours to nurse. Booooooo! LOL! And what is she doing right now as I type this? Coming up on 5 hours of sleep. Seriously, little girl?

We have been doing a lot of co-sleeping. It’s just easier with nursing. However, I’ve also been trying to get her used to sleeping in her Rock n Play next to the bed (the Pack n Play was taking up too much room, and we need to take it to daycare next month, anyway). She sleeps in it, but fidgets and grunts a lot. The doctor said that’s just normal baby noises. I’ll have to take her word for it. I am wondering when I will stop jumping at every noise. It’s not my intent to co-sleep for a long time, but since we have a split ranch, it will be a couple is months before she’s out of our room and into her crib.

It’s funny to check in on high school friends on FB, and see that their kids are in high school or older, and here I am just getting started. However, that’s ok with me, because looking back on some of the chuckleheads men I dated, I know that I was absolutely not meant to procreate with any of those dudes.

I know that everything happens when it’s supposed to happen, but I sometimes wish that HH and I had had more time to ourselves before CH moved down, and more time being married before we had a baby. We’ve had so many major life changes in a very short time. There’s something to be said for adapting to change!

I never thought that I would be a mom, yet here I am. Every time I look at my little mini me, I’m so glad the universe entrusted me with loving and caring for her.