Small Wins – A Parenting Victory

I don’t have to tell you that this parenting gig is hard. Like, really hard. Most days, I feel like parenting a toddler ranges anywhere between blissfully strolling through a field of wildflowers on a sunny day and being run over by a train carrying 4 billion tons of coal to the North Pole for your child’s Christmas stocking. Rarely is it one extreme or the other – it’s almost always both. At the same time. Times 1,000.

More often than not, I feel like a complete failure as a mother, co-parent, wife, friend, and person in general. But on occasion, I’m reminded that even though I may not feel like it, I’m doing a pretty decent job raising a tiny human being. Sometimes it’s a big thing, like the pediatrician telling us we made the right call to bring him in (because he does, in fact, have strep throat) or watching my son offer up a few of his unopened Easter eggs to a little girl who arrived late for the egg hunt at school.

Other times, I’ll take a step back and notice some of the smaller things that make me think that maybe, just maybe, his dad and I aren’t doing too bad. This post is dedicated to those times – the seemingly insignificant things that often get overlooked, but deserve a round of applause – because some days it’s really hard to get up after that dang train hits you.

The internet says that “Success is a series of small wins.” So here are a few examples of small parenting wins that deserve a pat on the back. This list is really just a few of my own motherhood victories. Share your own in the comments – you never know who may be fighting the same fight. And we could all use a little glimpse into someone else’s wildflower field.

  1. He can hold a fork correctly. Let’s be honest – nobody wants to be at a business lunch and look across the table to find a colleague shoveling food into his mouth like a caveman. Table manners are good, but without proper table ergonomics, manners are just frosting on a fruitcake. If your child can get the food from his plate to his mouth using the eating utensil of his choice, he’s on the right track.
  2. She remembers that you told her she could have a cupcake after school…last month. You may see this as a negative because of the major meltdown that ensued when she realized you ate the last cupcake for breakfast weeks ago. But that long term memory is going to serve her well throughout her life. Also, this means you’ve taught her to hold others accountable for the things they say and promises they make. Well done!
  3. He doesn’t smell like a foot (all of the time). Getting a child to bathe is no easy feat. Remembering to make them is sometimes even harder. So if you accomplish both of these things at least once a week, high five to you! (Bonus points if you also get them to brush their teeth on the reg. I’m hoping nobody is counting how often my child goes to school with “stinky fish breath”)
  4. YOU don’t smell like a foot. Let’s face it – when you are in the grunt of parenthood, personal hygiene is often the first thing to go. Plus, showers are a lot less enjoyable when you have an audience that is eye-level with your lady parts. Let’s all be thankful for deodorant, mouth wash, and dry shampoo!
  5. You and your partner* still love each other. Kids are innately going to love you and vice versa. An adult relationship, on the other hand, takes work, time, and desire to keep going – all of which are hard to come by when you have a 3-year-old that has never slept in his own bed for a full night and still poops his pants. If you and your partner can keep it together long enough to come out the other side, I hear it can be glorious. (*Partner refers to anyone that loves you and is part of the village helping you raise your child – spouse, parent, sister, friend, neighbor, stranger you met in the grocery store, etc.)
  6. Your child is breathing. Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s all you can do as a parent to keep your kid alive. If you child screamed bloody murder when you suggested he wear his camouflage underpants instead of the dirty ninja turtle ones he pulled out of the laundry basket, count it in the win column because you kept your child alive yesterday. Yay…

So here’s to you, parents. I know you think you’re screwing everything up and you worry that your child is too spoiled/anti-social/busy/shy/slow/talkative/stinky/etc. But I want you to know that you’re doing something right. Everyday. It may be as simple as getting your kid to dress himself in the morning. Or maybe it’s that you locked yourself in the closet to check your Facebook in peace for 5 minutes instead of giving in to the constant urge to run away to a beach somewhere and live like Tom Hanks in Castaway (but let’s be real – the lack of internet on a remote island was the real deal breaker here).

Being a mom or dad can be so hectic that you may not notice all the small wins, but rest assured that your kid does. And every single day, he sees you trying to be the best parent/person you can be. And you know what, he’s going to be just fine.

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Instant Parent – Just Add Water

If you’ve ever talked to me and wondered “How in the world did she come up with that?” or “What in the heck is she talking about?” this post will not help answer those questions. In fact, it will probably illicit those thoughts and more from everyone who reads it. Let me be the first to warn you that what lies ahead is a post in which the miracle of child birth is compared to making a Cup O’ Noodles. Proceed with caution…

Most of us will never forget the exact moment we learned we were going to be parents. For me, it was about 4pm on a Friday in early December. 2 weeks after my missed period, 7 negative pregnancy tests, and about 3 hours before a weekend filled with boozy holiday parties. Adam had tried to reason with me that I was just stressed out – my boss had recently quit and I had some family issues going on. I agreed, but for my own sanity, I decided to take one last test before embarking on the festive weekend.

I had grown tired of shelling out big bucks for the fancy tests, so I had stocked up on some tests that I found in the $0.88 bin at Walmart – you know, the metal bin with all the generic drugs right next to the one with all the boxed theater candy. Let’s just say there were no frills included in these tests. I followed the steps, waited a few minutes, and then I saw it. That second purple line. I squinted at it, tilting the test back and forth, and holding it up to the light…just to make sure I was seeing it correctly. Could I really trust a cheapie test? But alas, it was a fact I couldn’t deny. That second purple line hadn’t been on the last one. Ho…Ly…Crap.

Adam was still at work, so I snapped a photo and sent it to him in a text message.

Guys…let me tell you…when your wife tells you you’re going to be a dad, almost anything you say is going to be better than the response I got. (And gals – maybe don’t use a text message to convey the news. This kind of thing really deserves an in-person interaction.)

The text I got back was one word: “Cool.” My bathroom mirror became a sounding board for just about every profanity in my repertoire. Cool? That’s all he can say? Seriously?! Luckily for him, my phone rang a few moments later after he had stepped out of the office and could unleash his excitement. We were both ecstatic, and in shock, and neither of us had a clue what that little purple line actually meant.

The next 40 weeks went by both fast and slow. Parts of it were a blur, while others seemed to drag on and on. As the end of the third trimester approached, we began reading up on labor, delivery, postpartum, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, anything and everything we could find related to having a baby. And while those moments of finding out I was pregnant will never be forgotten, it’s the last moments of my pregnancy that inspired this post.

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39 weeks pregnant. Using my belly as a table for my ice cream sundae lunch. Still not a parent.


Let me take you back to that Tuesday night in August of 2013. I had been to the doctor on Monday and even though my due date was that Wednesday, I was told baby wasn’t coming anytime soon. I was barely dilated and wasn’t feeling anything resembling a contraction. Adam asked to go to a friend’s house to watch baseball and hang out with the guys, his typical Tuesday evening at the time. I happily obliged, realizing this might be the last chance he would have to do that for a little while. So while he was eating jambalaya and drinking beer (more on this in a future post – I promise!), I was at home doing a load of laundry and relaxing by myself.

I went to bed a little before 10pm and Adam returned home not long after. He climbed into bed, reached over and grabbed my belly, and asked if the baby was going to come soon. I assured him it was not, and we both rolled over to go to sleep. About 10:30, he got up and went downstairs to get a glass of water and that’s when it happened. For the first time since I could remember, I peed the bed. I jumped up and ran to the hall bathroom and plopped down on the toilet (there was no grace in lowering myself to the seat at 40 weeks pregnant!). I looked down at a huge puddle of water on the floor between my legs and it hit me that my water had just broken. And just like that, Adam and I went from “being pregnant and planning for baby” to “oh crap this is really happening”. This is where the Cup-O-Noodles comparison come in – just like cooking noodles in a microwave, after the pregnancy part is over, you instantly become a parent. Just break the water and wait a few minutes (or in my case, 13 hours).

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Becoming a parent – just like Cup O’ Noodles, all you have to do is add water!


A final thought: After a long and grueling labor, none of the books and articles we read mattered. All the advice from well-meaning friends and family was pushed out of my mind. The only thing I cared about was that tiny, 7lb 15oz little boy with 10 fingers and 10 toes that was laying on my chest. In the following days, weeks, months, and years, my identity quickly and seamlessly became that of a parent. I didn’t have to practice or change myself to fill the role. There wasn’t a big “welcome to parenthood” celebration rivaling my college graduation, ushering me from being a woman and wife into the gigantic and life-changing role of being a mother. My husband quickly became the doting father, embracing his son without hesitation and vowing to give him the best childhood he can. We were parents. It happened so instantaneously that I didn’t even realize it and some days it still doesn’t seem real.

There is all kinds of advice about when to get pregnant, how to get pregnant, what to do while you’re pregnant, what child birth is like, what parenthood is like. But the piece that’s missing, what they don’t tell you, and what you wouldn’t understand even if they did is that in that moment, when the water breaks and things starts to get real in the delivery room, when you go from fantasizing about your unborn child to actually holding a tiny human in your arms…in that exact moment you ARE a parent. A mom. A dad. A family. And there’s no turning back.

And if someone could go ahead and get you a cup-o-noodles, that’d be great…because you’re most likely starving and that might be your last chance for a hot meal for the next 18 years.

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Our first family photo

How did you learn you were going to be a parent? And how did you tell your significant other the happy news? Leave your stories in the comments – I can’t wait to read them all!

Date-iversary

Today is mine and Adam’s 9 year date-iversary. Yes – we still celebrate the anniversary of our first date. Not because we are super-sappy, uber-lovey kind of people. But because, at least for me, it is the date on which I can look back and say “That. That is when you changed my life.”

Saturday, March 15, 2008, began as a typical morning. I woke up in the little farm house I was renting in Bolivar, MO and perused my closet for something to wear. I was working a double shift for maurices that day: half of the day at my store in Bolivar and half of the day at the store in Springfield. I needed to wear something comfortable and fashionable, but it also had to be green and a little sassy. I had a date that night and we were going to the St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl (at my request – I was one classy broad back then).

I settled on wide leg, pinstriped black pants and a green tank peeking out beneath a tight black tee, accented with a green bead necklace and black ballet flats.

I was unsure of what to expect when it came to my date. We had met 2 weeks prior at a birthday dinner for my friend Rachel, and he had contacted me and asked me out via MySpace – pause for reaction. Yes, my husband asked me out on MySpace. I logged into my account* the other day to see if I could find the messages, but they were no longer available. If they would have been there, you would have seen an awkward exchange about barking dogs, lack of sleep, and my love for pub crawls. We exchanged numbers and agreed that I would meet at his house before proceeding downtown.

(*turns out it still exists and yours probably does, too. The messages were gone, but the pictures, posts, and my Top 8 were still just as I had left them all those years ago)

After a grueling 15 hour work day, I walked up to his door and rang the doorbell. He invited me in and offered me a beer. Great start! (although I’m pretty sure he offered me a Miller Light which went against my strict Bud Light only beer palate back then) I sat down and instantly knew I wasn’t getting back up. My feet hurt so badly that there was no way I was going to be able to stand/dance/party all night at a pub crawl. Instead, we sat on his couch and tried to find something to watch on TV.

We started talking, looking through pictures from his time in Europe, and sharing stories from various aspects of our lives. We’d occasionally look up and decide we wanted to watch something else, so we’d change the channel. I distinctly remember watching part of The Gremlins movie and at least one episode of Full House. Before we knew it, it was 4am and we were still sitting on the couch completely enthralled in each other.

He offered to let me stay, rather than driving all the way back to Bolivar. I had disaster-date planned and had a bag packed to stay with a friend anyway, so I agreed. He left the room while I changed into PJs and crawled into bed. When he joined, he rolled over the other way and said “Good night.”

The sun glared into the room at 9am, and being a morning person, I was wide awake and ready to get the day started. There was just one problem. I was pinned against the wall with no way out of the bed without waking a guy I barely knew. I hadn’t asked whether or not he was a morning person, so I erred on the side of not and stayed put. He eventually woke up (at 11) and took me to lunch.

We both had things we needed to do that afternoon, but agreed to meet back up for dinner. After dinner, we feel right back into conversation on the couch and before we knew it, it was 2am. He again offered for me to stay, and I again accepted. This time, when he crawled into bed, he rolled towards me and kissed the back of my shoulder before saying “Good night.” He woke up first the next morning, having to get ready for work and be there by 8am. I didn’t have to be at the store until 1pm, so he let me sleep in and told me just to lock up when I left.

When I got up to use the restroom, I found a clean towel on the counter  with a note: “Good morning – I hope you have a great day” topped with a couple of purple grape hyacinth flowers tied together with a blade of grass. He sure was smooth! After spending almost 56 straight hours with this guy and waking up to that, I was hooked.

From that fateful first date forward, he has continued to woo me. He continues to surprise me. He continues to fight for me. He continues to make our relationship a priority. He likes me. He loves me. He tolerates me. He doesn’t stay up late watching TV with me anymore, but I think I’ll let him off the hook for that one.

Happy date-iversary, my love.

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A Tale of Two Tenders

More evidence the hubs isn’t actively participating. Last night I was leaving the gym after work. Adam was already home with the kiddo, so I asked him what to pick up for dinner. After the usual back and forth of “I don’t care” and “Just pick something” (I swear, if we ever get divorced, it will be over deciding what or where to eat!), I said I had leftovers I could eat, so I would stop and get him and the nugget something at a drive-thru.

His pick? Popeyes Chicken.

My leftovers? Almond flour breaded, baked chicken tenders.

It was seriously all I could do not to tear into that box of greasy, fried goodness and macaroni and cheese on the drive home. Not that my meal wouldn’t be good, but it would be pale in comparison to what my family was about to eat. But I held strong, kept both hands on the wheel, and drove like hell to get that stuff out of my car!

We sat down at the table and the tiny one dove fingers first into the Mardi Gras Mustard spicy mustard dipping sauce. I don’t even think he wanted to dip his chicken in it – he pretty much just ate it with his spork. All I could think about was how terrible my night’s sleep was going to be with both of the men in my life having heartburn.

On a more serious note, I am currently wearing pants that haven’t fit comfortably in 6 months. After just 6 days on the program, I am feeling great and already starting to see results. What that tells me is just how terrible my eating habits must have really been.

Everything but the kitchen sink…

If you’ve ever done a Whole30, talked to some who’s done one, or read even just a little bit about it online, you know there is A LOT of cooking involved. The program prohibits any type of processed foods, and that rules out all the quick and easy meals I’ve been eating for the past, well, lifetime.

I know what you’re probably thinking. “You married a dude with a culinary degree. The cooking can’t be that hard.” But as I menitoned in my first post, he’s only mostly onboard – translate: he supports my ambition and will cheer me along, but he’s not really an active participant.

Evidenced by our Sunday lunch. I picked up pork chops for me and Oscar’s baby back ribs for him and the little guy. So while he’s chowing down on smoked, meaty heaven, I’m in the kitchen trying to cook my lunch. Have I mentioned I’m not that great at cooking? I have a few staples that I’ve perfected – of course none of those are Whole30 compliant.

Basically, he had the greatest lunch ever, and I had overcooked pork and undercooked butternut squash.

But I had cooked three pork chops and wasn’t about to throw them away. So I decided to experiment. I was already planning to try some new recipes Monday night, so while at the store, I grabbed an extra avocado and tomato. Threw those in the food processor with the pork and voila! Pork salad! It’s actually pretty tasty, if I do say so myself.

Now that I’ve set the stage, let’s get to the title of this post.

One of the biggest complaints I’ve read about the progam is all the food prep and cooking. I’m here to tell you the food prep and cooking is actually the FUN part. What REALLY sucks is having to clean up your kitchen afterwards!

I made my pork salad, paleo mayonnaise, and a zucchini based hummus recipe last night, leaving kitchen in shambles! I had mayo splattered up the cabinets, hummus on the floor, and even though I only used one plate, I was up to my neck in dirty dishes. All this while feeding, chasing, bathing, and rocking a toddler to sleep. Did I mention I also did a load of laundry-I might be done with my wife/mom duties for the rest of the week!

The worst part of the story is that the faucet in our kitchen has the worst water pressure. My handy husband tried to fix it this weekend and only made it worse. It literally drips into the sink when turned on full blast! The plumber came yesterday afternoon, but of course the part we need is out of stock. Just my luck.

So there I was. My child asleep at 8pm, my husband out having a guys night, and me in the kitchen – attempting to clean hummus out of a food processor using a drizzle of luke warm water. Safe to say my goal for the next few days until the sink is fixed is to not dirty a dish that won’t fit in the dishwasher.

Moral of the story: everything was great…but the kitchen sink. On the bright side, the hummus and mayo both get 2 thumbs up!

Thanks for reading. If you try either of the recipes, let me know what you think in the comments.

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My yummy lunch with all 3 of last night's concoctions