Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The not-so-obvious changes

When I became a mom/parent, most of the "new things" were obvious. My sleep changed, my diet changed, my availability changed, my time management changed, you get the idea. My social life changed as well. Not that I lost a lot of friends (actually, I gained some friends back, since I was the one without kids and they had already been down the temporary separation of peeps with no kids), but the idea of socializing itself had changed.

I vowed not to be one of those parents that never hangs out because of my kid(s). I vowed never to be a slave to bedtimes, naps, and routines. Most of the time, my kid goes to sleep when he's tired and it's my choice to take him home, or attempt car sleeping. I pay the price when I don't take him home, but sometimes that's worth it.

Recently, I took K to a party. It was a party that was technically for adults. K is really adaptable, friendly, and generally in good spirits in other places. While I was excited for the invite (it was from someone I didn't know well, but wanted to get to know better), I knew that I would be juggling K and socializing. 

To be honest, it was hard. K doesn't walk, but he's an excellent/fast crawler and he's curious. Wants to get into everything. EVERYTHING. So I had him in the backpack for a short bit, until he got uncomfortable, and then I let him out. But I had to run around following him, taking things out of his hands, and monitoring his every move. Ugh. Exhausting, but I don't know if I would do it differently next time.

If every social gathering K goes to is built around him/other kids, then 1) I don't get to visit with adult friends who don't have kids (or their kids are grown), 2) I have to make a bigger effort to organize playdates and our schedule is always in flux it seems and 3) now I have to do things based on my kid, instead of the other way around. When he gets more vocal and mobile, I know this will shift, but for now, I'm still into hanging with my friends, with kids or not.

And here's the part I didn't anticipate: many of my friends won't ever have kids. So they'll continue to hang out with the adults, and I guess I won't see much of them anymore. Because the truth is that many events aren't geared toward kids. In fact, traveling in groups isn't designed for kids unless it's designed for kids. We can't "road trip" to concerts or take our kids to a late-night movie. We can't even go to a late-night movie unless we have someone watch K at our house. Otherwise he won't sleep or we'll have to wake him to take him home and it's not always/usually worth it. 

I didn't anticipate the sadness I'd feel either. Camping with kids doesn't really work for people who don't have kids. There's no more staying up until all hours, drinking (okay, I don't do this anyway, but alcohol and babies isn't a good mix for me), being loud, etc. Just like at home, there are things we need to do, milk gets made, diapers changed, new surroundings acclimated to, and camping seems to fall off the radar the second the baby comes. Boo, I say. That blows. So now camping is about kids and planning and what I loved about camping was kinda not planning. 

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give up having a family to have beer around a stinky campfire. But no matter how much life I lived before baby, I'll just miss some things. And in the in-between stage (usually from birth til your child is about eight or so), the not-so-obvious changes occur. I don't want to, but I need to think really hard about "hanging out" now. It's not hanging out...it's dragging my kid to an event, where I want to socialize, but where it's not easy for him to crawl/play/be. If papa doesn't come along, then I am the point person for blowout diaper changes (many, if not most, of them occur outside the home for me), food meltdowns, and crappy naps. I don't want to subject any of us to that. 

But it just makes me sad and I didn't think about that part of me having to say goodbye. 

I look forward to finding new ways to hang out, complete with my kid and hubby/papa and not worrying about crying at night or diaper blowouts. That's why meeting new people and making new friends with kids is great. No one cares. I don't have to track my conversation. I don't need to follow my kid around. And everyone is glad he's there.

I'll probably still drag K to a few parties...because while it's easier to be with other families, I also don't want to talk about my kid all the time. And so continues the paradox of parenthood (the name of my next blog, after I've let everything go...).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Other ways of letting go

15 Things to Give Up to be a Happy Parent

This article speaks to part of the reason I named this blog "Mama Lets Go." I wanted to be happy with being good enough. And I wanted good enough to be more than the bare minimum. I wanted to get off the perfectionist treadmill and get on to the enjoyable stroll outside, which involves living my life.
I have adapted many of these suggestions to much jubilee and elation on my part. Also, the less struggle, the more I can enjoy what's happening, even when it's hard.

I am lucky enough to have a very large community of mamas, who graciously share their advice, experiences, feedback, and support. It helps to see what's on the horizon, examine my expectations, and then release to the present/real experiences as they happen. There are still tears, frustrations, mistakes, missteps, and sharp learning curves, but as I learn how to navigate this new world with K, I learn so much.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Be lucky for what you have

I was taking a walk with K the other day, he was in the stroller and I was pushing him along. The walk was a little too long for both of us, and K started to cry and get restless...and I thought, "Hey kid, be thankful you get to stroll along, with someone pushing you. God knows, I wouldn't mind being pushed around in a stroller." And then my next thought was, "Actually, that's silly to think. He wants to be up and out and crawling/walking around. Not belted in, subject to my whims (speed, sun in his eyes, hills, boring scenery)."


It's beginning. And if left unchecked, I could be saying, "Hey, we walked to school in the snow, uphill both ways, no shoes, and then had to come home and use a CORDED phone!" Saying that K should be "lucky" to experience something is really silly. He doesn't know what my life is/was like. He's on his own path. He probably doesn't feel lucky to be in a stroller, not in control of his journey. He's not tired. His feet aren't aching. And he doesn't care what his Vitamin D count is (that's why I wanted to walk, but I didn't ask him if he wanted to walk).

I have been a bit worried that I would start designing K's life based on my experiences. For some things, this makes sense. We don't want to give K sugar, because I believe it's actually more than just a bad thing in his specific body (K's ancestry, from both sides, did/do not bode well with sugar in all its processed forms). Not just because I'm a "hippie mama." I used to say, "NO Disneyland!" But then, I realized that I could HELP make Disneyland a fun experience (proper sleep, snacks, timeouts, etc), rather than the feared experiences I witnessed when I went as an adult. He's not just some kid, he's our kid. With that, comes us, and our communication as parents and as a family about how we can make the most of experiences.

It's interesting to examine things like this. At almost 36 (yikes!), it's easy to say, "Been there, done that," and then skip over experiences because I've judged them to be whatever, or I've simply already experienced it. I hope I can remember that K has a beginner's mind. He is not jaded or bored or incapable of wonderment...he's not even a year yet! I don't want him to see that I'm "over it," because then he might think that it's not cool/fun/worth it (kids tend to want to be like their parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc.).

I'm not sure how my parents did this. My mom did do new things for her (and of course it was new for me), but she also repeated things willingly (many a trip to Snoqualmie Falls, trips to Israel, Belize, Europe, etc). Balancing the "been there" with the "new and exciting," I guess.

Anyway, I really don't want to start telling K how lucky he is, or that he should be grateful. He'll figure out soon enough what he's grateful for. Doesn't make much sense if I keep telling him what HE should be grateful for. I'll just focus on what I'm grateful for...:)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Shameless Plug for Mom Time Retreat- Relaxation

My very first retreat offering, for moms to recharge their batteries and refill their wells, is open for registration!

We've got yoga classes, massage, delicious food, loosely structured activities, free time, comfy beds, and Hypnomothering (a new offering from Seattle Hypnobirthing which focuses on easing the transition into motherhood)


You can email me, contact me on Facebook, or give me a call (info on Facebook) to ask questions or sign up!

The competition of motherhood

Dare I say it?
"Who me? I'm not competitive!"

Since I'm all about honesty, especially here, I'll be the first to admit it. Not only am I competitive, I'm competitive about motherhood. I don't know why. I wasn't raised that way. I'm not surrounded by competitive people. It's not even a competition!!

But as K learns new words everyday, and does cool things, and I read about the age range of developmental markers, I can't help but feel good. Not smug, or righteous, let's be clear, but I feel like I'm in the game and doing a pretty good job of mothering.

Then I hear about friends feeling like they are losing in the game. And I feel ashamed. 1) Because I'm even thinking about it as a game, and 2) because I perpetuate the culture of "better than" when I really just want to feel accomplished at SOMETHING.

So it's a weird paradox. I don't want to hide my pride and excitement at K's cool developments and I don't want to encourage mamas (by my pride and excitement) to feel less than about any mishaps they have endured (for whatever reason).

Then it can kinda go in the opposite direction where I downplay anything that K does that I find amazing (he signs and says dog, and also recognizes them in real life and in books and makes the sound a dog makes...which isn't the onomatopoeia of "woof" but the actual sound he hears dogs make) so that no one thinks I am gloating about my kid. God forbid I'm proud of my kid for doing cool things.

Where is the balance? 

And sometimes, K does stuff that I had no hand in, but I still feel proud...because I think that's normal. He's beautiful and I'm happy about that. He's content, and I'm happy about that, too. He's social and doesn't cry (yet?) when he is cared for by others and I'm relieved about that. I don't want to take credit (maybe he was born that way), but I also don't want to make like it's nothing. Being social and easily consoled IS amazing! I love it!

Judgment and competition go hand in hand, it seems. When I see someone doing something I wouldn't do, I immediately want to justify/explain why I wouldn't do that, and why my decision NOT to do that works for me. Now that I am a mom, I find that I hear so many different (successful) ways to do things and now my immediate thought is shifting to "That seems to work for them, it just doesn't work for me."

This allows us to both be right, to both win, and it allows me to carry on, without dwelling on who's winning, anyway.

Seeing other moms feel like they are losing, affects me too. I hate that people I LOVE are feeling badly about experiences they've had, things they've done, said, or thought, and results that are less than ideal, especially regarding parenthood. I don't want to be that mom who judges. I want to offer help (if asked) and support.

No one wins in a competition of motherhood. We're all moms. Period. That's about as far as it needs to go. Competition helps no one.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

What's really going on

My friend writes a blog on mothering too, and her latest post was about the conspiracy of silence in mothering. Although I hadn't written any posts exactly like that one, I was a bit sad because I agreed with a lot of it.

Read the post so you know what I'm referring to, but from my own take, and in my own words, it's actually a huge disservice to not talk about conception, labor, birth, and mothering (specifically mothering, not just the umbrella, parenting, because they are not the same).

A friend of mine a long time ago, after the birth of her child told me it was REALLY physically painful. Like, grab-my-shoulders, don't-kid-yourself, painful. It scared me, but I was grateful. And in turn, in the midst of my sleeplessness, I told people who were on the fence about kids that if they liked sleep, didn't have a ROCK SOLID partnership, complete with previous challenges to test whether they would be able to hack this parenting thing, and had a lot of money issues, that they should REALLY think about having kids (or not having kids). I was shushed by another friend (consequently, a father), that I shouldn't say stuff to people like that. And my heart sank.

What was so wrong about telling people that this is really hard and to be as prepared as possible? I tell people all the time that if they don't have faith that their body can accomplish a physical feat (marathon, triathlon, long distance bike ride, etc.) that instead of crossing their fingers, they should either train harder, OR pick a new goal. It's not mean or pessimistic...it's honest. Hope is good for a lot of things, but not for physically demanding things or child-rearing. Hoping to "make it out okay" can actually be life-threatening. And while having a child has many awesome things associated with it, it also has a LOT (like, a lot, a lot) of really negative, horrible things associated with it.

Women die of depression from the various things they experience during this process ALL the time. We don't like to talk about it. We also don't like to talk about stillbirth, abortions, miscarriages, children birthed with permanent defects or disabilities, postpartum depression (which can become chronic depression and necessitate drugs), financial upheaval, divorce, sleep deprivation (the kind that's not just funny and cute, but really health-depleting), malnutrition, etc.

When any one of us mamas feels something more intense than "I love my kid, I'll survive this hard stuff," we often don't know where to go with it. We don't want to feel like a downer, or ungrateful, or God-forbid, regretful. No mom wants to feel guilty in public that she might have made a mistake in having a child. Because that looks an awful lot like "My kid was a mistake." And you might as well pin a scarlet A on your clothes...but actually, it's even worse than that. And the people that get pregnant accidentally (not from extreme circumstances like rape or incest), but birth control failure, or relationship didn't work out, etc., and then choose to not carry the child to term...well, case in point, I don't know a lot of those, because I think no one wants to talk about that...and I might not either. Because I don't want to not be supported in a decision that I felt was best for me AND my potential kid. I don't want to be judged, questioned, pitied. I don't want people to think I'm too weak or too (enter your thing here).

That darkness, that loneliness and isolation among women is pretty darn horrible. I want to say it's second to violence. Harsh, I know. But when we can't/don't/won't support women by sharing, listening, and not judging, we continue to perpetuate that darkness. And in that darkness, lots of things lurk. Not just treatable stuff, but post-traumatic syndrome type things. From that, a million other things come too...and I've heard friends, people I know WELL, say stuff that I myself would be deeply troubled by...and I have a support system, therapist, and health insurance. Do they? I know of several people who committed suicide or turned to drugs because they felt trapped. Yikes. They could not care for their child the way they felt their child should be cared for and couldn't go on.

I don't want to be a part of that conspiracy. I don't want to lie to someone and say that "You forget the pain, and then it's all worth it." Because I'm deathly (literally) afraid to get pregnant again. It was horrible for the first half...I felt guilty for even the THOUGHT that I wanted to stop being pregnant, let alone the though that I was not enjoying it. When people asked me about it, like it was the weather, and I told them the truth, I felt ashamed. In groups, when a mama feels bad for having negative thoughts so she doesn't share them, we all suffer. And I don't want to play that way.

I don't want a mama to not feel like she can't tell me that she's hating life. And I don't want to even think a mama is home crying herself to sleep AGAIN because she thinks she's the only one going through this. I can't bear the thought, honestly.

Another friend told me that if I wasn't absolutely sure about having kids, that I shouldn't. I appreciated that. I really did want kids. Even though this first one was hard (the process, not the kid), I will do it again. Willingly. It will still be hard, but I want to do it again. But I would tell the same thing to someone else. You have to really want it. Worse case scenario, want it. Want them. Want a life that includes their crazy path, and isn't just a complement to yours.

That was a lesson I learned quickly. I'm not just having an experience of motherhood, I am raising/guiding a PERSON. With a life of their own. Not just an actor in my play. They are writing their own play (and I'm a player in theirs, too). And if/when we have another child, that child isn't just an actor in our play either. He/she is not just a playmate for the first child. They too have their own trajectory. And I need to respect that. And respect myself in that...that waiting for one child to be old enough to not need my attention so much isn't just about sibling rivalry or affording college, it's for my own survival. And theirs too. I don't take that lightly, either.

Anyway, I've drilled the point home, I'm sure. I just wanted to say that I want to tell the truth about motherhood...I want to share both sides. I even want to listen and support people who may not have balanced sides (they may really not enjoying parenting...and that's none of my business to judge).

Thanks to all the folks who write to me, publicly or privately, about my writing and this blog. I'm not doing it just to toot my own horn or get accolades or high-fives for my opinions/methods. I am sincerely passionate about sharing and pulling the veil back and it warms my heart when mamas (papas, too, of course) feel seen and heard. That's my aim. We're all in this together.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Letting go of me

A friend of mine posted something yesterday that really spoke to the process I feel I go through on a regular basis now.
She talked about letting go: "What I heard was that I would be letting him go and the truth is that I let myself go over and over and over....."  and THIS is exactly my point of this blog. It's more about all the things I wrapped around myself...some of it for protection, other parts for identity, and still other parts for no reason at all (probably just passed down stuff). And with my little person staring at me, with all that innocence and newness, I am forced (okay, gently, non-verbally requested) to look at all of it.

Like decluttering. I started doing it last night. And I have a strange tendency to keep things I don't know what to do with. I resist making a clean break...for the obvious reasons ("This might be that screw that is SO important, that we keep keeping it---but have no idea where it goes!!!"). And yet, when I look at K, he's so...uncluttered. I don't want to pass on my garbage to him. Not the actual garbage or even the stuff I just don't know about. If there's no strong reason to keep it, then why would I do it?

I also tend to hold on to ideas, beliefs, cultural norms, etc., that I'm too lazy to look at.

My mom friends and I are still talking about sleep and food and toys and communication...and I all of a sudden care what people think (okay, I always cared, but I work hard at not caring because in the end, it's me hanging out with me). So I don't want to share my weird ways. Or admit that I don't like going to the doctor if my kid gets sick. Or that we aren't doing a lot of "methods" unless you call "Trial and Error" a parenting method. I also don't want to admit that I'm not worried about my kid. Like hardly ever. In fact, I worry that I'm not worried about him...so that's what comes out when I talk to other moms. He has bruised knees (from crawling on hard surfaces) and dirty fingernails and we don't use soap (I can count on one hand how many times I've put bubbles in the bath). I enjoy that he likes playing with our used yogurt tubs and egg cartons and I cringe when he gets new toys...because he's perfectly happy with the same toys he's had since birth. And in general, he doesn't even like toys...he likes mama's and papa's stuff...so what looks like "too poor for toys" is really "he doesn't care, so we don't either." I use my intuition. I talk to him like he's an adult when we're alone. I talk to him telepathically when I'm not around him.

But then I hear about "development" and "milestones" and "genetic traits" or "hereditary things." And I freak out. As if the freaking out makes it better. And I tend to downplay any big milestone because I don't want to encourage competition or judgment from other mama friends...because I think I had something to do with it (I know I didn't/don't, in fact, I'm surprised he does anything at all, since I've probably taught him a lot of nothing)...I brush off any "smart" comments, just like I feel weird about any "He's beautiful" comments. As if admitting his charm/beauty would somehow make me a monster and give him a ego...

And in all of this, he doesn't really care. I truly believe that. At 10.5 months, I think he cares about being held, eating, sleeping, smiling, playing (he looks intense when he plays, so that word is funny to me, because it doesn't *seem* relaxing). I'm the one wrapped up in it all. So the letting go is all about me.

I try to keep my writing in this vein...1) because if he ever reads this blog, I want him to feel like it's not an expose on him and 2) because these thoughts are mine. I'm projecting a lot of the time anyway, and that's not fair, since he doesn't get a say, yet.

So the letting go is multi-fold...sometimes it's philosophical, and other times, it's about dumping the unflattering clothes so that I can simply feel good...as well as pay for a damn haircut (instead of getting a cheap one and feeling horrible later) because I like short, neat hair.

Stay tuned for more de-cluttering...it's gonna be awesome.

Friday, July 5, 2013


"That's how we progress, we put ourselves out of the comfort zone..." -Sting, in the documentary 2012: Time for Change

I was writing down the feeling I'd like to have (regarding some vision work and feng shui goals) and freedom came up.
I want to feel free.
I wanted to write about it, because I know there's something I'm not letting go of that leads to freedom, or at least that seriously impedes the freedom I want.
I know I need to look at a lot of things to get at the root of not feeling free. It's hard to accept that my captor is likely me. That all the "obstacles" are in quotes because I made them up or at least, I made up that they are obstacles at all.

One thing that I don't like admitting, least of all in public, is that I don't like to let go of stuff. It's really hard. Harder than I thought. And I also don't take any time to examine why it's hard to let go of stuff. I think, "This is hard. So I'll stop looking into it. I'll just keep things until someone notices."

Man, am I crafty though! In a big house, it's easy to hide things. In fact, it's also easy to justify keeping them. Those things combined lead to a house full of stuff (read: crap) and this trapped feeling. And the trapped feeling FOLLOWS ME AROUND.Even outside the house. Maybe especially outside the house.

For example, I have a lot of things I want to give away or sell. I've already let them go in my mind, but for some reason (aha, the imaginary obstacle) I haven't dealt with them and they're still in my house. Ack. But I don't know why, really. It's gotta be about some fear...What if I need it? What if I could sell it for more? What if someone ELSE needs it (so sneaky, is my brain!)? What if I need it for the NEXT kid? A B&B guest? A family member? The president of the united states? Aaaaaaaahhhhh!

And not dealing with stuff is like a permanent nag that takes up space (rent-free) in my mind.
I hear this nagging voice more than 5 times a day (this is where that stat comes from that talks about how we don't have a lot of new thoughts, just the same ones playing over and over)...now the stuff has transformed into a thought, "I need to get rid of stuff", and this thought (and unfortunately, many countless others just like it) takes up space another thought (likely a better, more creative, more fun, more efficient, and more productive one) could be occupying. And these are just my thoughts!!! What else is being bumped out because I am torturing myself with complacency?

Stuff and thoughts present basically the same problem for me. Things I don't want, taking up valuable space, so I have to work extra hard to find more space...so then I either, hide the stuff (physical) or try to think up new ideas (but potentially, without clearing out the old stuff, I am just adding the potential of more negative self-talk, since I have a tape that plays, "Great idea, but you don't have ANY follow through, so give up now.") Wow. That's intense. I mean, if I were talking to someone else with this problem, I would be heartbroken for them. I might even cry. Because all the good ideas are trapped or stifled, at best. In fact, some of those ideas are actually great, and maybe even amazing. Can you imagine? Amazing ideas just slipping away left and right because I am not motivated enough to clean up my brain and house?

There's a phrase in recovery that I like/hate: Are you willing to go to any lengths? This is a tough question. But it's the question that, when honestly answered, tells me how much pain I am willing to endure before I seek help. It also leads to another recovery (para)phrase: When it hurts badly enough, you'll do what it takes. Crap, so does that mean it doesn't hurt badly enough?

I have a hard time thinking that is true. Cause it feels pretty horrible right now. Like, up at night, losing sleep, feeling useless, hate my kid seeing me this way, kind of horrible. I also know that many times my clutter frustrates my husband. And I hate when that happens too.

When I read/talk about the examples we are for our children, there's a lot about body image, health, morals, and ethics, race, beliefs, etc. But shit, I'm still holding onto magazines from 2009, in case I feel like reading up on the past. So what does THAT tell my kid?

I'm also holding onto stuff that I don't need, "just in case," and what does THAT also tell my kid? That I don't trust the universe to bring it back to me if I need it again. And why don't I? Has the universe ever done me so wrong that I couldn't figure a way out of it (without creating a warehouse of stuff to solve the problem?). Simply and honestly, no.

The universe has never done me wrong. In fact, when shit has happened, I am constantly amazed about how the right thing at the right times ALWAYS appears. In fact, I can't think of the opposite proof. I cannot think of a time when I was so down/wronged/lost that no one, no thing, and no feeling couldn't help me. From strangers to family members, I've always been held in place. A very good place, I might add.

Letting go of the idea that I need to save everything (especially broken or wrong for me things) is not a small feat. In fact, for me, it might be one of the larger ones. I don't want to make a big declaration here that I will get rid of everything, but I want to state that my intention is to declutter my life, not because it's trendy and I saw it on Pinterest (but that helps), but because I want to free myself and my brain (and my house) from things that trap and keep me (and my family, to be honest) down. Because I have a lot to offer. And no fancy workshop, or spiritual CD or self-help book or even professional organizer will do the work for me. I just have to do it. Literally, one day (and drawer) at a time. And I don't want to hit bottom before I can start going up again.

I will take a picture of K and put it up where I am working on decluttering, to remind me that K is watching and experiencing me, with or without my consent...and he sees the stuff (literally and figuratively) that clouds my life...and I want him to know the real mama that called him here, that can do real healing work in the world, that has felt free before and really wants to feel it again...he'll love me no matter what, but I want him to feel like he can hold me in the light without doing it to help me...that he just does it because I embody that light already.

Here I go...


My favorite baby

My inspiration

My inspiration