When I first started blogging, I was so excited when I started getting nominated for various blogging awards from fellow bloggers. Then I realised that they really are modern chain letters and I started to find them annoying and stopped participating. It seemed that everyone else grew tired of them as I hadn't seen anyone else promoting a blog award. Then I read a post by my bloggie bestie Risa on 10 Ways I'm Rocking Motherhood. I thought it was just a creative list, so I was quite shocked to discover at the end it was one of these chain letter blog posts, but I was even more shocked to see my name! What me? I'm rocking motherhood? Seriously?
I decided to take the plunge and list my motherhood highlights and I really encourage others to do the same. We're so hard on ourselves. We're our toughest critics. It's worthwhile to remember all the things we do well.
1. I'm the Executive Chef of our house
I make all our meals. I google search for new recepie ideas. I plan our weekly meals with attention to what leftovers can work for lunch, effortless meals for my late nights and gym nights. If I make a simple mistake, such as forgetting to defrost some chicken... it can wreck my delicately crafted plans. I also have to work around the fact that Husband won't eat leftovers for dinner as he doesn't like to eat the same meal two nights in a row. I could be sympathetic if this were an OCD thing; but it's not. His mother let him get away with being a spoilt little brat. I used to make a large meal on Sunday, so we could just re-heat it on Monday, when I work late, but he started boycotting leftovers for a second night's dinner. I tasked him with coming up with an alternative and noted that it had to be specific. "Something easy" he replied. Still not specific. "Something quick" Like re-heating leftovers!!! I thought my head was going to explode.
I create meal plans. Then I make shopping lists. Then Kate and I do the shopping. Then I run out during my lunch at work and pick up stuff I forgot during my weekend shopping trips. On Sundays, we go to the Farmer's Market. Then I come home and cut up fruits and veggies for Kate's and my lunches for the week. I still make my own packets for her. I used to make a big meal on Sunday (so we could have leftovers on Monday), but now I do something simple since lunch prep takes up so much time. Meal prep extends throughout the week. After cleaning up dinner, I cut veggies, meat and prepare dry ingredients to make quick work of cooking. Yes, the crock pot is awesome, just walk in the door at night and dinner is ready! Yet, you still have to spend time doing your prep work. I know this doesn't really make me a rockstar of a mom, as it's sort of my job, but it's exhausting. Often unappreciated by my spoilt brat Husband who will decide at the last minute that he doesn't feel like having what I've planned, prepped and started making. As if I have a back up alternate meal ready to go. (I'm so close to declaring every night a FUFFY -Fuck yoU Fend For Yourself-) If Kate doesn't like something, she'll throw it on the ground, which also makes me feel unappreciated. (Earlier this week, I hear myself cry out 'You zoodled the cat!') Actually, she's become a little more polite and sometimes she'll hand her food back to me, which still makes me wonder why I bother. I'm sure most every mom has these same challenges and the same struggles, so I acknowlegde that I'm no different, but I want to give a shout out to everyone who feels their meal planning/prepping/cooking efforts go unappreciated. I appreciate all the work you do. It's all consuming and exhausting.
2. I still make myself a priority
I still remember when my cousins had their first baby. We went to visit them a few months into their journey and listened to them describe how time consuming a little infant can be. "If you guys have kids.." My cousin's husband warned "all the sports and activities you do will go right out the window." I thought it was an odd remark considering that my cousin and her husband didn't do any sports or activities before they had kids. I smugly thought to myself Challenge Accepted! Well in a way he was right. As my mother abruptly pointed out, I'm no longer playing tennis or field hockey, but technically those stopped before Kate. I'm not bothered about field hockey, although I miss hanging out with my old teammates (I was so happy to get together with our old goalkeeper while I was in London. The goalies and sweepers are bonded for life). I'd really like to play tennis again, but I can just about manage to keep up with swimming and going to the gym. Let me tell you; it doesn't always happen. There are days when she wakes up early in the morning and especially if she has a cough or cold, the mom guily overwhelms me and I'll stay home from swimming. Then I'll log on to Face.book and see what I missed at practice and the swimmer's guilt sets in. I'll try to take her to the gym while she's napping and sometimes she sleeps, sometimes she wakes up after I've barely rowed 500 meters. But there are some days where one of the life guards at the poool will play with her if she wakes during swim practice, or I'll coordinate with another Cross Fit mom to bring her kids to play with Kate in the gym's kiddie area. Kate recently hit a PR and stayed in the play area for an entire workout. No it, doesn't always happen, but it will never happen if I don't try.
Yes, gone are the days when I could run 1-2 10 Ks per month and aim to complete 3-4 half marathons per year. At least for now. My fantasy of being the long distance stroller pushing mom is being dashed by the reality that Kate doesn't like being in the stroller for a long period of time. A 5K is her max and race strategy is now all about making her milk and snacks stretch thoughtout the race. Maybe when we move up from the jogging stroller to the little thing that is like a tent on wheels and she doesn't have to be restrained, it will be more fun for her. Or maybe I'll just have to wait until she's big enough to run along with me. Maybe the window is closed for now; but out the window? That's not going to happen.
3. I made sure Husband was going to be a 'Hands-on Dad'
When Kate was only a few months old, I read an article on Scary Mommy, or some other parenting website. The author had two kids, aged 5 and 8 and one day she discovered that her husband was so inept that he couldn't even call their local pizza parlor and place an order for the same pizza and sides that they have every Saturday night for the past few years. It dawned on her that she had been parenting all by herself all this time. As moms usually do, she blamed herself for not ever requiring her husband to share any responsibility or teaching him what to do. I felt that this article carried a warning: don't let this happen to you! I consulted the lone Dad in our New Parents Group. The poor guy who is now probably permanently cross-eyed from trying to avert his eyes away from all the breastfeeding moms sitting around the circle. "Don't just ask for help," he advised "Assign a specific task". "Lists are also useful" he offered. I wrote out the inventory of the diaper bag on a little index card and I'm thinking I should do the same for packing Kate's lunch. When I gave Husband the task of washing pump parts and preparing Kate's bottles, he took it very seriously and I feel he earns some of the credt for giving Kate breast milk for one year.
Don't let me lure you into thinking that we operate in some kind of utopia where the work load is split 50/50. Ha! Most of the time, I feel like I am the default parent. I take care of packing the lunches, her school bag, giving her bath, putting her to bed, picking out her clothes to wear. I do most of the diapering, because Husband admits he is "lazy" about it. Sigh. At least I know that he can do these tasks when I need him to. He gives Kate her dinner, does her bath and puts her to bed on nights when I have my department dinner meetings. Once he cmplained that I didn't have any food ready for her dinner. "Oh, you mean you had to figure out how to heat up some meatballs? It's a good thing you have a doctorate" On Friday mornings when I leave the house by 6:30, sometimes Kate is still asleep and he has to give her breakfast and get her ready for Day Care all on his own. It may mean that on some mornings, such a last Friday, "breakfast" involves giving her a container of blueberries and letting her walk around the house with them... but I've learned to let that go. I did not think about smushed up blueberries all over the house as I drove to work. That was his problem.
4. I involve her in the household chores
Shit has to get done! I want her to appreciate that life is not all fun and games and we all need to work at times. She'll help with the laundry and emptying the dishwasher. She's still really curious about the vacuum and I know that when I've vacuuming, she'll actually sit still for five minutes and I don't have to worry about her getting into anything. She's also getting a bit better at engaging in her own independent play while I'm cooking or putting her clothes away.
5. I enjoy my time away from her
I love that little girl with all my heart and then some more. Everyday I feel fortunate to have her in my life. But I need a break now and then. It's nice to have some separation and to go out of the house and spend a few hours away from being mommy. There are some mornings where I don't really feel up to going to the gym. Then I remember it's a hour of kid-free time, plus driving time and suddenly I feel like working out! I used to feel guilty about the fact that I didn't cry dropping her off at Day Care and I don't think about her during the day, but NonSequitur Chica reassured me that it means I feel comfortable with her Day Care Attendants and I'm busy at my job. We'll see how I do when I go to Dallas for the weekend at the end of the month. I realised it will be the first time being away from her for a night since she was placed in my uterus in embryo form on October 21, 2014. How much I miss her may also depend on if my parents are driving me nuts.
6. I can manage parenting solo
I totally admit I was terrified when Husband had his first business trip after I went back to work and I was left on my own with Kate. Not only did we manage; it wasn't too hard at all (not that I'll admit that to him). My biggest challenge was trying to get up before she woke so that I could shower and would hope that she wouldn't wake up while I was in the shower. Not I opt to sleep as long as I can and I'll give her some milk and brings some toys into the bathroom while I scrub. I know I've said it a million times and I'll say it again, that I don't know how single parents manage and I'm in ever in such awe, but I can manage for a few nights or a week every now and then. Actually, last month when Husband was away, I found that with Kate going to bed earlier and sleeping through the night, I could enjoy having the house to myself like the good old days.
7. I'm a master bargain shopper
Since we don't need to buy them that frequently due to our cloth service, I only buy diapers when they are on sale or sponoring a promotion. I never waste a BBB 20% discount or $5 off coupon. My parents are also signed up and they forward me their emails and mail circulars. I've been known to make separate transaction during the same trip when I have multiple coupons available. I would often purchase exactly $25 worth of Baby.ganics stuff so I could earn another $5 BBB gift card. I make use of all my Cart.er's Reward points and Gymbucks and Gap Cash. I shop the Clearance racks and looks for Kate's next size. I've sold a lot of her used baby equipment on a Face.book group and I frequent a local conseignment shop. At least a third of their inventory are clothes that have never been worn or worn once or twice maximum. I hit the Dollar Store when I need cheap toys for travelling. As soon as I can be confident she won't destroy the books, we'll start going to our library.
8. We follow the No TV Before Two rule (sort of)
Please note! I am not criticising any mom who lets her kids watch TV! Actually I'm a little bit in the camp of "My mom let me watch Sesame Street before I was 2 and I turned out okay". I can say to this day that I still remember a lot of what I learned on the Street. I still sing 1-2-3-4-5, 6-7-8-9-10, 11, Tweeeellllvvvveee! I often play 'one of these things is not like the other' I learned cultural awarness. As we lived in Wonderbread Whitetown, the first people of colour I saw were characters on Sesame Street. I discovered people speak different languages because there are other countries and other languages. The first Spanish words I learned were from Luis and Maria. I learned about death when they said good-bye to Mr Hooper and I first learned about adoption when Gordon and Susan brought little Miles into their family.
More so, it was a call to action for Husband and I to cut down our own TV time. In the words of the great Eleanor Roosevelt, "You cannot ask of others that which you are not willing to do yourself". We ditched cable and switched to Roku. Now we only watch a handful of shows in our room and we listen to Pandora in the kitchen. I decided I was going to have to break my no TV for Kate rule when we flew back from England (direct to SFO is 11 hours). Years back, I worked with a women who flew a lot with her 4 year old and thought that personal DVD players were magic. "The key to it's success" she explained "is that it's only a treat for the plane. We tell her it doesn't work at home." Ah, take advantage of your kids while you can. In my case it backfired. Kate had no interest in watching The Secret Life of Pets or Finding Dory. (I enjoyed them both, but I watched them with subtitles, so I feel I need to see both again to appreciate the movie with the voice actors) I downloaded some signing videos for my iPad and that held her interest... for maybe 20 minutes. Then she tried to send an email to Kimberly Q.
Our rule has been that the only time TV is on in front of Kate is if it's sports. [and the Gilmore Girls revival] When the election was in it's final weeks, we started watching political news shows while she was in the room. Now that it's a total shit show and we want to be aware of just how much is fucked up, we're kind of watching political stuff all the time. I'm recognising that I need to be careful with Real Time with Bill Mah.er and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, not only for the language, but a recent episode led her to dance along with "A Man Like Putin"
9. I'm doing things I said I would never do.
Well actually, it all started when I said that I would never do IVF... Two stim cycles and five transfers later, I'm going to Mommy and Me singing activities with Kate. I have a horrible singing voice. I was rejected from school chorus in the Fourth Grade and I have traumatic memories from that. I always said that I was never going to do any activity that involved mommies sitting in a circle singing with their babies. That's why I signed us up for signing classes...and we learned songs on the first day. Then I tried Baby Yoga... and there was also sitting in a circle and singing! Finally I relented and we started going to baby music. In the privacy of the dance studio, I sing, dance and play instruments. Something I never wanted to do and for such a long time, never thought I would never have the opportunity to do.
10. I know I just really lucked out
I have to be humble and admit that some of the things that make Kate a great baby are just sheer luck and I can't take any credit for it. Nursing went well, but it wasn't because I have any special skills. She's a good sleeper because that's just the way she is and not because of anything I did. She just happens to be an easy kid and fso far parenting her has been pretty easy. So much so, that I really fear she's saving all the hard stuff for her teenage years.
I nominate all the moms who read this blog to write your own list of the ways you are rocking motherhood. Maybe it's an idea for your next post, or the post that brings you out of blogging hibernation. Maybe just write it down on a piece of paper and stick it in your sock drawer. Reflect on it the next time it feels like motherhood is rocking you and know; you've got this.