Tag Archives: motherhood

Finding breathing room and seeing the light

9 May

ImageOne, of what will certainly be many, black eyes in the P house.

I’ve been struggling a little bit lot over the past few months.  Not really with my mood, but rather with the “voices” in my head.  No, I’m not actually hearing anything, silly.  I just mean the kind of self-defeating conversations you have with yourself when you feel like you have made a poor choice or you aren’t living up to your own expectations about what being a mom and wife looks like.

My boys (ages- a couple days from 2 & 5 and 7/12- his words, not mine) are having a rough go of the sibling thing.  They are at two completely different stages and have mostly different interests…except of course when one brother is playing with something- then it becomes absolutely the ONLY thing the other wants to do. 😉  Anyway, I feel more like a referee than a mom most days, and I’m fairly certain that I’ve been about as sweet as rotten eggs as a wife since our second became mobile.  L2′s nickname is “the bionic child”, and for good reason.  He challenges me to my core with the physical intensity required to keep that boy safe.  While being extremely independent, he is also an expert climber, jar opener, mess maker, and sharp item finder.  Being awake means he’s at risk for injury and so I can’t leave him alone.  Even for a minute.  Even to pee.

L1 is at an equally delightful and challenging age.  The one where his curiosity has blossomed from self endangerment (which he never really suffered from) to research.  However, it also means that he asks a million questions a day and is incredibly sensitive because he is analyzing everyone’s words and actions.  What used to be wishy-washy playground talk by 4 and 5 year olds has become “the world is going to end because so-and-so told me he’s going to lock me in the squidapod…”.  What in the world is a squidapod anyway???

Yesterday was a random day.  My husband was out of town.  A couple of friends and neighbors stopped by.  The landscaper was moving mulch from some trees we had cut down last week.  It was sunny and warm, but not too hot.  The stuff of ordinary Wednesdays in May in Atlanta.

But, for me May 8, 2013 was extraordinary.  Why?  Because it was the first time in as long as I can remember that I felt like I was doing an okay job.  That my boys weren’t constantly in a competition to see who could irritate the other more.  That I didn’t feel the need to rush to beat the bedtime clock.  That we just were.

This morning we slept in a little.  We had just enough (but not too much) time before school to do the things we had to do.  We got to school on time.  Not late, but not too early for carpool, either.  L2 and I came home after dropping off L1 and he and I played a bit.  I cleared out my inbox a bit.  We ate a bit.  He actually watched part of a TV show!  He brought me a shirt out of his drawer and asked to get dressed.  He threw his own trash away and helped me clean up a few of his toys.  We hugged and laughed and giggled.  He fell down and bumped his head and instead of getting hysterical he walked over to me and asked for a hug.  We snuggled.

I found some breathing room in the past 24 hours.  For the first time in over a year my shoulders are not pulled up to my ears as an outward sign of the inward stress.  I am breathing a bit more deeply and peacefully.  I am seeing the light of what life will soon be like more regularly.

While I adore the infant phase and I am able to tolerate the toddler phase, by far, 5 years old is my favorite so far.  I miss the newborn smell and the ease of a child who can’t harm himself since he doesn’t move much.  But, I also miss being able to pee by myself.  And, reading.  Oh how I love books…and I miss them so.

My kids are growing older everyday.  Whether I like it or not, they are rapidly changing and developing.  So instead of living my life in mourning for their infancy, I am going to choose to be present and find the beauty in having older children.  The contentment and freedom that come with their independence and ability to communicate their needs.  The joy of finding myself again as I get to know them better.

Bless your heart 😉 ,

Amber

Holidays: When Happiness and Hectic are one and the same

6 Dec

DSCN3935

I LOVE Christmas.  I mean, like really, really love.  Like mail out my Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving, love.  Like my decorations MUST be up before the end of November, love.

But, I also recognize the emotional nature of this season.  I mean, by it’s very virtue the “holiday season” is meant to elicit images of extra activities, service projects, alternative (or even just regular) gifting, worship services, family obligations, remembrances of loved ones gone and experiencing illness…ah, the list goes on.

As an Atlanta mom, I feel blessed that weather is generally not an impediment to my task list.  I also find the distance between us and our families of origin, who live in Pennsylvania, a bit of a relief, in that all of that “over the river and through the woods” talk can be the stuff of Christmas Carols instead of my Christmas reality.  And, I would be lying if I didn’t mention the exhale that not being in the midst of the family drama, every family, no matter how functional, inevitably encounters at one time or another, allows us.

But, no matter what the reason or the season, life is way, way too short to let a busy pace, the worries of yesterday, or the anxieties of tomorrow take up the happiness of today.  Whether you are anticipating Hanukah, in the first few days of Advent, or simply appreciating the season, I wish you moments of peace, joy, and contentment in just being.

Bless your heart ;-),

Amber

Loud and Clear

8 Nov

I’ve been having a rough go of it lately.  There’s just a lot going on and I don’t seem to be able to successfully tackle much of it.  For every one step forward, I find myself three steps (at least!) behind.  My (mostly self-induced) to-do list is unbearable and I just want to hibernate.  This weather doesn’t help.  There’s a reason we live in Atlanta, right? 

Thirty minutes ago, I walked outside to take Halloween decorations to the basement for storage until next year.  Just. check. one. thing. off. the. list.  On my way down the steps, I glanced further out into the yard and discovered that the babysitter had allowed my son to leave his shoes outside over the weekend and there they had remained during the past three rainy days.  Where were they?  Next to the uncovered sandbox, which was now filled with four inches of mucky rainwater, leaves, and pine straw.  I gruffly walked over to clean up the mess, fully prepared to do so and then promptly stomp back inside to write about how life really had thrown lemons at me.  This was evidence.  Rotten lemons, at that!

Except, about 25 or so buckets of cold, stale, rainwater later, I found myself in a completely different place.  This mundane, uncomfortable, and presumably time-wasting task had revealed something to me that was becoming more clear with each and every scoop.  

I am so blessed, I thought.  My baby is so exhausting.  But also? He is the happiest, sweetest little boy ever.  And?  He’s sleeping peacefully inside while I scoop this water.  And?  He’s for the most part healthy and developing well.  My older son has some challenges that have been coming more to a head recently.  But?  He has more zest for life than nearly anyone I’ve ever met.  And?  He’s got the best teachers ever.  And, by a miraculous twist of luck, fate, or God’s grace, he’s in an environment that suits him so well for most of the day. I can be sure he’s learning, and growing, and even loved there.  Even more-so, I have a safe, dry home over my head.  

You see, instead of a silly, plastic sandbox filled with a few toys, I am so aware that I could be digging through a flooded home searching for salvageable belongings.  Instead of returning inside to a peaceful home with soft music playing and a white noise machine whirring from my toddler’s room, I could be mourning the loss of life of a loved one.  God spoke gently, but strongly, to me today through that yucky sandbox.  “Be grateful,” I heard, ever so firmly, but kindly.  “Even this task, this time, is a gift.  I am with you and you have so very much.”

Disarming the “Mommy Wars”: One Mama’s Fight to End the Guilt and Stigma of Bottle Feeding AND Support Breastfeeding

4 Oct

My friend Suzanne Barston has been writing at The Fearless Formula Feeder for a long time.  When I say “my friend”, though we’ve never met in real life, I mean it.  Suzie has walked almost my entire motherhood journey along side of me.  We began blogging at approximately the same time and found one another because, well, way back then, nearly five years ago, there weren’t many of us out there.  Moms who had postpartum struggles that is, especially with breastfeeding, who were willing to talk about it publicly were few and far between in 2008.

I had been suffering from a paralyzing and life-threatening (I was so ill that for many weeks I would tell my husband daily that I wanted to die.) postpartum depression and anxiety, and a big source of my irrational guilt was my son’s initial inability to latch (enter never-ending pumping sessions and bottle feeding breast milk), followed by my “decision” to switch to formula when pumping was getting in the way of my recovery.  I was vulnerable and isolated (figuratively and literally, as the few friends and family members I had around me at the time had either formula fed by choice and didn’t understand my desire to breastfeed or had successfully breastfed and were a silent reminder of my “failure”).  I hadn’t found much support online either, as most of what I read encouraged moms to breastfeed to combat the blues and even supported breastfeeding while on psychiatric medications, if under the care of a physician who supported that choice.  Now, I totally agree with those statements for those mamas for whom that feels right.  However, I was not that mom and that made me feel even more like a failure, especially after my dreams of a natural childbirth were already dashed thanks to a very unexpected c-section after a ridiculously long labor.

Finding Suzanne’s blog and forging a relationship with her was probably the number one factor in my eventually overcoming constant anxiety about not having breastfed my son and moving past the guilt that riddled me for months and got in the way of positive thoughts and interactions in the beginning of my motherhood experience.  I knew that not only was she a support and ear, but that she actually did her homework to provide factual information, not just opinions.  The emotional and analytical sides of me were appeased and reassured by reading her blog posts and eventually joining the Facebook page associated with her blog.

Please know that this blog, Atlanta Mom, is not ever going to promote taking sides or making judgment about moms’ choices, if they are well-intentioned.  However, as the author here I wouldn’t be exhibiting integrity if I didn’t share my own story honestly and encourage others to end the stigma and the competition that has arisen within parenting in the past few decades.  I believe strongly that mothers need to band back together, not tear each other apart.  That’s why I started Beyond Postpartum over four years ago and it’s also why I’ve created this blog.  We are stronger.  We are better.  We are more informed.  We are doing good, when we share and care for one another.

One of the ways that Suzanne has decided to reach out to mothers and even healthcare providers is to publish a book she’s written based upon her diligent research on infant feeding.  Unlike just about any other parenting “expert” out there, Suzanne’s unusual position to support families no matter how they choose to feed their babies is a breath of fresh air.  Below you’ll find a press release about the book and a link so that if you’d like to you can easily purchase it on Amazon.

BOTTLED UP: How The Way We Feed Babies
Has Come to Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn’t
by Suzanne Barston

As the breast vs. bottle feeding debate heats up, some experts believe breastfeeding advocates may have gone too far. While breast is certainly best from a nutritional standpoint, thousands of mothers find themselves unable to breastfeed for physiological, emotional, or situational reasons. Once breastfeeding has “failed”, they are unable to find the support they need, and some are even feeling shunned or bullied.

BOTTLED UP: How The Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, And Why It Shouldn’t by journalist Suzanne Barston (University of California Press, August 2012), probes breastfeeding politics through the lens of Barston’s own experiences as well as those of the women she has met through her popular blog, The Fearless Formula Feeder.

“Breastfeeding has become the yardstick by which parenting prowess is measured,” says Barston. “Yet, it’s not always the right choice for every mother and every child. 
In fact, in some cases the pressure to breastfeed has created a dangerous atmosphere for both mothers and babies.”

Barston, who was devastated when she was unable to breastfeed her son, calls herself a “lactivist” and a formula feeding defender. “It’s an odd stance, but one that is sorely needed,” she explains. “I understand the debate on a level most don’t because I have engaged in the conversation on BOTH sides for nearly four years. My point of view is controversial, but it shouldn’t be: Support those who want to breastfeed, and support those who don’t want to.”

Incorporating medical literature, expert opinions, and popular media, Barston offers a corrective to our infatuation with the breast. Impassioned, well-reasoned, and thoroughly researched, Bottled Up asks us to think with more nuance and compassion about whether breastfeeding should remain the holy grail of good parenthood.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne Barston has worked for the past decade as a writer and editor for health and parenting publications, including as the Editor-in-Chief of Los Angeles Family Magazine. She has impressive internet following within the mommy-blogosphere at The Fearless Formula Feeder, and is also the resident “Bottle Feeding Expert” for a video-based website launching in September called KidsInTheHouse.com.

Because, like I said earlier, Suzie rocks and all, she’s also agreed to send a signed copy of the book to one reader here at Atlanta Mom.  To enter all you have to do is comment below with your email address so that I can be in touch if you win!  If you’d prefer not to share your email address publicly, please comment that you’ve emailed your mailing address to atlantamom930@gmail.com.  The winner of the book giveaway will be randomly selected on October 15, 2012.  GOOD LUCK!

I hope those of you who aren’t familiar with Suzanne’s work will take a moment to browse her blog, to join The Fearless Formula Feeder Facebook community, or to consider reaching out to moms who make different feeding choices than you and reassure them that you support them.  We’re all in this motherhood thing together, so let’s be good to one another instead of guilting each other, k?

Bless your heart ;-),

Amber

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