Guest Blogger: Mommyhood NEXT RIGHT

Nellie & I head home tonight, so this will be my final guest blogger. It’s been a blast hosting such an awesome variety of writer’s here, and I hope you all have enjoyed them, too!

My last guest blogger is Jessica of Mommyhood NEXT RIGHT. Today she’s got a helpful guide on how to make parent friends at the park – which is great, because I’m socially awkward and probably come across as a creeper to other parents.

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Growing up, I’ll be the first to admit that I was mostly shy…or, no, I was antisocial. I spoke a lot when spoken to but hardly initiated conversations. I avoided unnecessary eye contact on public transportation, pressed “close,” “close,” close” to avoid riding in elevators with strangers who could possibly, dreadfully, say something like “Hi.” *gasp, and would use my often dead cell phone to feign being “popular” in large social crowds.

This all sounds so pathetic now, but that’s how I was. Really.

But since, becoming a mom, I’ve changed. I’ve become a more social person. I say “Hi” now to random strangers, random strangers who are usually pushing strollers. And I am not as quick to press the “close” button on the elevator at the doctor’s office. Oh, and most importantly, I’m now a professional at meeting and becoming friends with moms and dads at parks.

How did I go from fake cell phone calls to making parent friends at parks? I know you want to know, so I’ll save the awkwardness, and just come out with it. Here’s my step-by-step guide for making friends with parents at the park.

(Disclaimer: The steps listed below are intended to guide you to parent friendships. While many do have success with these steps, individual results may vary.

Step #1. Make eye contact. Yes, eye contact. Stare. But don’t stare too long, or too intently. Smize (smile with your eyes), show teeth when you smile and relax your body. Breathe. And smile. And…look away. Now.

Step #2. Position yourself close to your wanna-be friend. If he or she is at the slides and your child has just run to the slides, that’s your chance. Slowly walk over to your suitor, not too close, but not too far away and stand…for about two minutes. Don’t stare at your potential friend. Just watch your child.

Step #3. (When your child begins playing with your child) Initiate small talk. Common “safe” topics: children’s ages, weather, park architecture, and stroller admiration. Common “unsafe” topics: religion, politics, other moms and dads nearby.

Step#4. Keep talking. From small talk, move into parenting woes and talk of local things to do. Look for connections and make connections.

Step #5. When either you or your potential friend is packing up to leave the park, ask for their number and/or email address.

Step #6. Call or email the same day. Between kids and spouses, things are forgotten. So to keep your existence fresh in their mind, contact them the same day or at least within the same week as the first meeting. No later. No sooner. (Usually)

Step #7. Meet with your potential friend and be yourself…awesome.

You’ve made a new parent friend. Congratulations!

 

Nipped

Whenever someone asks me, “So when are you going to have another one” (and they mean a baby and not like, a Snickers bar. Because my answer to “when are you going to have another Snickers bar” would be “do you have a Snickers bar? If so, right now.”), my response is generally to:

  • Stare blankly, feeling a mixture of terror at the question and terror wondering if they’re fucking crazy and if I should run.
  • Stumble over my words and try and find a polite way to say “it’s none of your business what I do with my vagina and uterus”
  • Laugh hysterically
  • Smile sweetly and say “we’re enjoying our first too much to make her a sister!”

Okay, that last one almost never happens. More often than not, it’s a combination of staring blankly in terror and laughing hysterically. The fact of the matter is, motherhood is hard (duh) and I’m just now starting to feel rested again. Eventually, yes, I do want a 2nd and maybe a 3rd but up until recently my brain couldn’t handle the thought of another child.

Then the other night at chorus, I held my friend’s 7 month old and as I was looking down at her gummy smile and watching her kick those chunky little legs, I was suddenly able to contemplate my future as a mom of 2. It’s amazing how your mind has the power to (almost) completely wipe out the memories and feelings of sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and frustration. I suppose that’s what perpetuates our species and keeps us wanting to have more children.

I’m not saying that I have full-blown Baby Fever yet, but I think that the Baby Bug has maybe given me a little nip. And if that is in fact the case, it looks like it might be time to start getting serious about tackling the things on my Baby #2 Bucket List. I haven’t lost any weight and we’re no closer to getting a 2nd car really.. But Josh’s job has the potential for us socking away money in savings rapidly. So there’s something we should be able to chip away at. I also know that I do not want to get pregnant before BlogHer ’11 (SQUEEEXCITEMENTZOMGTHREEMONTHSAWAY) so there’s that.

I also confess, I worry about having a second one. Can we afford it? Is it crazy? How could I possibly love another baby the way I love my first? I know that people say your heart makes room and I also know that’s a common worry of moms of 1 when it comes to having a 2nd.

So, moms of more than 1 kid.. How did you know that you were ready? Were you worried about loving your 2nd as much as your 1st? How far apart are your children?

Your Baby is Walking? OMG! Congratulations! Your Life is Over.

I wrote a blog a while ago about how Nellie is a perfectionist. I commented that at nearly 15 months and still not walking it was hard not to worry.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can now stop worrying about her lack of walking and switch to worrying about something else,  because on Friday evening, this happened:

Now, Nellie’s been pulling up and cruising and taking a few unsure, wobbly steps for a few weeks now. Almost never more than 4, and always resulting in a tumble. This past Friday night I was sitting at the kitchen table and she was holding on to a nearby chair. I was looking at my laptop screen when all of a sudden, she let go of the chair and walked all the way across the living room. I looked at her for a good ten seconds before I realized what had just happened. There was no tumbling, no falling. It was as if my kid had just decided: “yep. I’m going to walk now.”

I promptly freaked out, and looked at my daughter who was standing in the living room. “Come here, Nellie! Come to mommy!” I squealed at her.

And then she did. She walked right back over to me. My daughter walked right over to me in that adorable, arms-up, wobbly toddler way. I squealed again and scooped her up, hugging her and praising how amazing she was. Because, duh, she’s the first kid ever to do this.  Then I snatched up the camera and took the video above. Please note my awesome parenting skills as my kid tries to play with an electrical socket.

After a few more treks about the apartment to make sure that this was for real, I announced to my Facebook friends and family that she was finally, officially walking. I was met with congratulations from everyone, but also:

“Your life is over!”

“Welcome to a whole new world!”

“Did I mention your life is over?”

“Put everything you own on top of the fridge.”

“Hide your kids, hide your wife.” (ok, I made that one up.)

“Hey! Did you know your life is over?”

So far, my life is still very much marching on and I love watching her walk. She’s so cute in her wobbly, crazy steps. I’m still not used to the sight of my tiny daughter walking but it gives me a thrill every time I see it. She has also entered a super cuddly phase, where she will give you a hug if you ask her. She also likes to force Josh and I to kiss, but that’s a whole different post.

Dear readers, I have officially entered the realm of having a toddler. A real, toddling toddler. Is my life over? No. It actually feels like the excitement has just begun.

One Chapter Ends..

And a new one begins. The Baby Chapter in my daughter’s life is coming to an end and her Toddler Chapter is about to begin.

Here I sit, on what I can consider my daughter’s last night as a baby. She’s not walking yet but she’s still a toddler. Tomorrow, I’ll have a toddler. The 7 lb 2 oz baby  that I gave birth to just one year ago is now a crawling, standing, babbling little girl. How did it go by so quickly? Did I stop and enjoy the little moments enough? Will I remember what it was like to cradle her in my arms and listen to her newborn grunts & snuffles a year from now?

I felt okay with everything until today. I really did. It’s just a birthday, I’d think. I’m blessed she gets a birthday.
And I know how blessed I am. I have a living child for whom to throw a party..

But about midday, I began to feel sad. And weepy. I looked at a few of her newborn pictures and almost started to cry. My child is almost a year old. I, like so many mothers before me, am running the gauntlet of emotions. Pride. Love. Sadness. Joy. Fear. Trepidation. Longing. It’s so hard, and confusing, and wonderful. I don’t know if I’m going to make it through her party tomorrow without crying.

We’re having a very small family party at my mother-in-law’s house. I’ll be armed with my camera, ready to capture every sweet moment.. Every smile, every taste of cake. Forever caught on film for me to re-visit as she grows. Today, I kept running through the last hours of my pregnancy in my mind. In a matter of hours, I’ll no longer be able to think, This time last year I was ____ weeks pregnant.

I’m excited for the new chapter in Nellie’s life to begin. I’m also sad for the one that is about to close. That stage of my baby’s life is gone forever. New adventures, memories, and moments await us and that thought makes me smile and anticipate what is yet to come.

But as I gaze upon the photos of  my daughter just moments after her birth, my heart can’t help but break just a little bit for those precious times that only exist now in my memory.

Keep me in your thoughts tomorrow, my friends. At 4:15 PM tomorrow, my child will officially be 1 year old.

Bye bye, baby. Hello toddler.

For a Minute, There

For a minute there, I lost myself. I lost myself.. — Karma Police, Radiohead

When I was pregnant, I knew everything. I believe I’ve mentioned this before. One of the things that I just knew was that I wasn’t going to lose my identity when I became a mother. I’m a firm believer that a woman’s identity doesn’t lie solely within the boots she wears. Wife boots. Work boots. Mommy boots (shout out to myself! Is that lame?). Too often when a woman becomes a mother, that becomes her life. Her identity. She identifies as “Jack’s mom” or “Sophie’s mom”. While I am very much “Nellie’s mom”, that’s not all that I am.

…….. But it is kind of all I’ve become.

Most of my dialogue is about my child, because my life revolves around her. I am not saying there is anything wrong with this but it does make it difficult to relate to people who don’t have children. One of my best friends (and coworkers), R, has a baby who is two weeks – TO THE DAY – younger than Nellie. She and I talk all the time. We talk about our relationships with our respective partners, about the frustrations of trying to keep our places clean, about the funny shit our kids are doing right now. Conversation between the two of us comes very, very easily. I have noticed that when I’m around friends of mine who don’t have kids, I struggle to find something interesting to say where I used to be able to talk the ear off of anyone whether they liked it or not. Now? It’s “Nellie does this” and “Nellie is so funny when she…”

Again, nothing wrong with it but it makes me feel uncomfortable. Awkward. Like one of those parents I used to roll my eyes at. You know the ones. The ones that can’t shut up about their child. YEAH. THAT’S ME NOW.

So how do I find myself again? Where did I go? I feel like I’ve lost myself in a mixture of sippy cups and Cheerios. Of weight gain and frumpy clothes. With my new “mom exterior” (frizzy hair, no makeup, body fat) I find myself so much more self-conscious, wondering if people are talking about me and commenting that I shouldn’t be wearing my pants tucked into my boots because I’m too fat. And honestly, I probably am too fat but it’s fucking cold and the boots keep my feet warm.

Even the chorus I used to be so passionate about singing with has taken a backseat to Life. I cannot dedicate even half of the time I used to and it’s got me feeling sad. When I do make it to rehearsal, I find myself feeling detached. Like an outsider. Don’t get me wrong the ladies are wonderful and still welcome me but I’ve missed so much, I feel like I’m an imposter. Like I don’t deserve to be there because I haven’t worked hard enough. Chorus has always been my thing. My hobby. And now it’s just another pile of work on top of my already-busy life… I just can’t find the time to work on my music and it sucks.

So where do I find Natalie? Where has she gone? I know that I’ve changed. I have become less interesting, less funny, more judgmental and stressed out. Maybe it’s a little bit of residual PPD, maybe it’s just typical of being a new (ish) mom.. I really don’t know. But I feel isolated and anxious a lot. I struggle to find things to say. I feel annoying.

Maybe I’m just crazy. But for several minutes, here, I have lost myself and I’m not sure where to find me. I’m trying to be kinder to myself; washing my face twice a day so I don’t break out. Eating better. Taking a multivitamin. Stretching in the morning. Treating myself to something that’s just for me once a month.

But it’s hard. I still feel off. I still feel lost a lot of the time.