Why I Won’t Win “Mother of the Year”

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Ever since I became a mother, one thing has really become clear to me.

People judge you.

For some strange reason, everyone automatically assumes that they have the right to comment on everything that you do involving your children.

Welcome to the world of micro-scrutiny. A place where taking your children out of the house puts your role as a mother on public display and your ability to parent is constantly being questioned.

These so-called “well-intentioned” people, from family to friends to acquaintances to total strangers have offered up their opinions about all aspects of my capabilities as a mother, from the way I feed my babies to the way I discipline them and every little detail in between.

I have had people criticize me for the tiniest of parenting infractions, like giving my child a sip of my soda.

Really, has a few drops of cola ever killed anyone?

I’ve also been told that I shouldn’t breastfeed because it’s “gross” (say what?) and that Bronx wouldn’t have had any growth issues if I had just put him on formula.

That’s not including the gastrointestinal specialist that told me I was personally responsible for causing the malnourishment of my son because I breastfed him while I was pregnant.

And just today, I got a load of crap about my double stroller. All because it wouldn’t fit easily through a door that was modified with one of those finger guards for kids.

Yes, I was berated for not investing in a narrower stroller, or for my decision to use a double one instead of trying to carry around two children under two with my bare hands.

I’m not really sure which one.

And then there are the people that give me dirty looks and view me as irresponsible for having so many babies so close together, at such a young age.

Except my youngest two aren’t as close in age as people assume (I’ve already gotten inquires about them being twins! Seriously?!) and I am not nearly as young as I look.

I thought that appearing younger than your actual age was supposed to be a good thing, but it mostly works against me.

In response to all the negativity, I learned early on to put on my “perfect mommy” face.

The one where I never lose my patience, the one where I go out of my way to keep my kids happy and smiling. The one where I pretend that I appreciate the unwelcome comments and advice.

The problem is that the June Cleaver act gets old pretty quick.

And after four years of playing into this phony facade, I am finally ready to admit that I am not the perfect mother.

Hell, I’m not even close enough to play her in a movie.

Not even a Lifetime movie.

But I try.

Even though there are times when I just have to let things go for my own sanity’s sake. Times when I overreact and lose my temper. Times when I think that I might go absolutely crazy.

There are even times when I suddenly realize, with desperation and horror, that I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have fallen far from the days before I had children, when I would watch Supernanny with my husband and rant on and on about how we would never have those kinds of issues with our kids, because the parents on that show were complete morons.

I mean, Come On! Parenting is easy. It’s all just common sense!

I used to think I had all the answers.

And now, I know I don’t.

Which is why my kids sometimes get stuck with PB& J for dinner when I’m in a pinch (not exactly the best nutrition, oops!), or why, on a particularly bad and hectic day, I’ve forgotten to completely finish buckling one of the kids in their car seat (I know, it freaked me out when I discovered it too!) or why I’ve spanked (OMG! Yes, I actually spanked when I swore I never would) my oldest in the heat of the moment because I’ve ran out of patience for his bad behavior.

I’m not proud of it, but sometimes I have had an epic fail or two as a mom.

At least the most significant shortcomings fit into just one short, confessional paragraph.

That doesn’t make me a bad mom, just an imperfect one. I’m only human. I do the best that I can, even if it means that I mess up every now and again.

So, even though I will never be crowned “Mother of the Year”, it’s okay. My reign as Suburban Princess will continue on.

Which means the kids are still going to end up late to preschool and when I actually find the time to make dinner, the dessert will probably be on fire.

Because, honestly, I’m no Betty Crocker either.

Eyes Wide Shut

We took Daegan to see a pediatric ophthalmologist last week.

Where he confirmed that Daegan does, in fact, have congenital Ptosis.

Unfortunately, this means that Dr. Google Howser was right.

We have to go back in three months so the doctor can determine if the condition is affecting his vision. If it is, my poor little baby will probably have surgery before summer’s end.

If it isn’t affecting his vision, the doctor informed us that the operation will be delayed until just before he enters kindergarten.

Which would then mean that my poor little baby would have to walk around looking milk drunk for the next five years.

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Five years!

As awful as it sounds, I’m hoping that they find a reason to do this sooner rather than later.

I would just hate to have to prolong the inevitable.

Angels Unaware

This is a photograph of my precious Daegan.

Taken on the day that my grandmother died.

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It’s a strangely eerie, but beautiful coincidence.

Shutting Down the Factory

My six week postpartum visit was last Friday.

It was more than a little awkward.

Because my doctor is adamant that I take a long sabbatical from procreating and as soon as he entered the exam room, he was talking up birth control options.

He started out by trying to sell me on the idea of Mirena, an IUD that can prevent pregnancy for up to five years.

Since Matt and I have agreed to take a five year hiatus from reproducing, this does seem like the logical way to go.

Great. I would totally sign up, except I have read the warning labels for Mirena. Developing Pelvic Inflammatory Disease and/or having something attach to or go through the wall of my uterus is a risk I am not exactly comfortable taking. And personally, the idea of having a foreign object lingering around in my lady parts for half of a decade just kind of freaks me out.

I was actually surprised that my doctor even brought Mirena up in the first place. I shot him down on this option once before, 18 months earlier, when I had Bronx.

Apparently, this guy doesn’t have the greatest memory. Either that, or Mirena is cutting him a piece of the profit every time he prescribes it, and he figured he’d at least try once more to win me over.

I told him to forget about it.

With the IUD option off the table, he suggested Depo Provera, which is an injectable contraceptive that prevents pregnancy for up to three months.

I told him no way.

My problem with foreign objects apparently extends to synthetic hormones that hang around for extended periods of time as well.

I pled my case for the pill. Asked if I could please go back to the brand that I was on back in the day, even though I was breastfeeding.

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I couldn’t go on the mini-pill (which is the pill that is recommended for breastfeeding moms) like I did after Bronx was born .There was no way that I was going to subject myself to that world of crazy willingly again.

My OB agreed to let me go back on my old pill. He said that it potentially could effect my milk supply, which is why they normally steer clear of it, but apparently, it’s not very likely because the hormones are in such low doses.

He said he’s never seen it happen.

I left with my prescription. Not even ten minutes later, on the way to the pharmacy I realized that I have an issue I wasn’t ever really aware of until now.

I am a control freak. Especially when it comes to my fertility.

I want to be on the pill because I know that I can stop it at any time. That way, I am never more than 24 hours away from clearing all the extra hormones out of my system. The Pill can’t bench my baby-making machine for three months or five years like those other contraceptives.

As soon as I stop taking it, I can be right back in the game.

And I take a huge amount of comfort in that. It’s like my own little security blanket.

Of course, in reality, we are taking a long break. As soon as cycling resumes, the pills will start up and my ovaries will be notified that they are laid off until further notice.

And by further notice, I mean until all the ones we have now are in school.

After almost five years, the factory is being temporarily shut down.

2012 may be the first year since 2006 that I won’t spend pregnant at some point or another.

Which will be nice, especially if the world doesn’t end that year.

Stupid Mayan calendar.

The Google Curse.

I love modern technology. And no, I’m not being sarcastic here. Without the internet, or smart phones and their never-ending apps, or DVR, I don’t know how I could survive.

It would be rough, not to mention extremely inconvenient.

But as a mom, I think that the ability to online investigate every medical issue that arises in our family has made me a closet hypochondriac. It’s too easy and too tempting to scour the web for possible diagnoses just by typing in the symptoms.

I always think that the knowledge I obtain will put my mind at ease, but most of the time, the total opposite happens.

Instead, for every bit of useful information I find, I also encounter countless other websites and articles describing in graphic detail (and sometimes even with pictures!) all the horrific medical conditions that could have befallen my poor children, based on the symptoms they have.

In turn, I fret over the possibilities and become one nervous wreck of a mother.

That, my friends, is why Google is the devil.

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Case in point, when our pediatrician couldn’t come up with any definite conclusions on why Bronx wasn’t growing, I went home and immediately conferred with Dr. Google.

The search results weren’t pretty.

I was bombarded with a list of links a mile long that covered everything from celiac disease and short bowel syndrome to prader-willi syndrome and progeria.

The stuff of every parents’ nightmares.

When Bronx’s urine samples became an issue and his sweat test came back inconclusive, Dr. Google generated more web pages about kidney disease and cystic fibrosis.

I keep telling myself that I should stop feeding into the search engine paranoia, but it’s hard. In the back of my mind, I can’t help but wonder, “What if it is this?”

It hasn’t gotten any easier to escape Google Howser, M.D. since Daegan was born a few short weeks ago. Daegan was born with one eye that will not completely open.

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The pediatrician said that it was probably a blocked tear duct and is going to refer him to an ophthalmologist. But since it has been four weeks and I feel bad that my poor baby constantly looks milk drunk when he’s awake, I put on my Nancy Drew hat and went to the computer to do some research.

Part of my problem is that I somewhat have doubted the blocked tear duct theory from the start. Bronx had a blocked tear duct once and it never kept his eye from fully opening. My doubts were further confirmed when I searched “blocked tear duct” and there was no mention anywhere of drooping eyelid as a symptom.

However, I did find a multitude of sites about Ptosis, a condition where one or both eyelids have a weakened muscle that prevents it from opening completely.

Then there were other web pages that mentioned in-utero nerve damage as a cause for eyelid drooping.

Now I’m nervous that the ophthalmologist may find that his eyelid issue could potentially effect his vision development and that he could have something going on that could warrant surgery.

All those “maybes” make me anxious, and I don’t play well with anxiety.

So, damn you, Google. Damn you straight to hell.

Bring on the Birthdays!

I am always looking for things that I can do for my boys that are creative and special, so I was super excited when Build A Sign contacted me awhile back and asked if I would be willing to try out some of their products.

They make a variety of products that you can customize for personal or business use. I decided to design a vinyl birthday banner for each of my boys.

Build A Sign’s website makes it super easy to customize every detail of the product that you design. I was able to create these amazing banners:

DSCN2721DSCN2720   DSCN2719

The banners are huge and they look fantastic. They are also very sturdy, so I think that they will probably be durable enough to last for a very long time. I cannot wait to use them every year at the boys’ birthday parties!

Wait. . . Did I just get scammed?

In the past few days I have discovered that I handle death much like I handle other life stressors.

I engage in obnoxious amounts of retail therapy.

Because for some stupid, superficial reason, buying things makes me feel…strangely better.

While trying to navigate my way through the grieving process, I have purchased the following items:

  • A new double jogging stroller
  • A new baby swing with an A/C adapter
  • A bunk bed and dresser
  • A Nikon D3100

That’s just the online stuff. I also have hit up the local stores buying more (smaller) home items and baby gear.

In short, I have lost my mind…and most of my money.

It hasn’t been total madness though. The things that I bought were carefully considered ahead of time. I talked myself out of buying other items that I finally concluded (after much internal debate) weren’t absolutely necessary.

Although, my husband would argue that none of it is really necessary. He’s a real stickler for the want versus need comparison.

However, coming from a man that won’t even replace his socks when they have more holes than Swiss cheese, I doubt his opinion is completely relevant here.

Unless I tell him about the phone call I made this morning. Then he might have a reason to complain.

Yesterday, while I was at my grandmother’s funeral, the store that I ordered my new camera from called twice. They left two messages on my answering machine.

They never said exactly why they were calling, but they asked that I call them back right away.

So I did this morning.

Turns out, they just wanted to know if I wanted the option to sign for the package upon delivery. Which I eagerly agreed to.

I certainly don’t want the UPS guys just leaving something like that on my front porch. Or, in the bushes next to the porch, which is sadly a much more common occurrence.

But, before the camera guy would let me off the phone, he starting giving me a spiel about memory cards.

memory-cards

He went on and on about how I had to have a special type of memory card. One that would be compatible with the kind of camera I had just ordered.

I hate annoying sales pitches. So I cut him off and told him I wasn’t interested.

After I hung up, I did some research online and discovered that the memory card that I am currently using in my Coolpix won’t work. Even though it is an SDHC and is HD video capable, it only has a speed rating of 4. Nikon’s website suggests a card with a speed rating of at least 6.

So I looked around online some more and finally, against my better judgment, I called the annoying sales guy back. Forty minutes and a good amount of Q & A later, I had added a 4GB Professional High Speed (500x) card with a Class 10 rating.

According to the sales guy, it’s the only type of memory card that won’t cause errors and that will shoot with no delays. It will also allow me to use the HD video capabilities on my new camera without any issues.

Sounds good. But…I still can’t help but wonder if he was just BS’ing me to up the order total.

The card was an extra $99. But I did get the camera from the same place for a pretty amazing price. Which is probably the biggest reason that I let him talk me into the memory card. Plus, it’s supposed to make the camera function at it’s best.

I hope that I am getting a deal.

I know some of you out there know a thing or two about the camera industry. What do you think?

Did I just get scammed?

Saying Goodbye.

My grandmother died yesterday.

A little over a week after her 83rd birthday, from complications related to a heart-valve replacement surgery.

My mom was a single parent, and my grandmother lived with us growing up. She helped my mom raise me and my two little sisters.

All of us were extremely close to her. And she was absolutely head over heels for her great-grandkids.

copyright - suburban princess diariesMy grandma with Bronx in 2009

Fortunately, until now, no one in my immediate family has passed away.

So I’m frozen. I have no idea how to act, how to feel, how to grieve. Things feel strangely calm for me right now. I have no idea if that will change. I think I am in shock. I am terrified that it is only a matter of time before I completely lose it.

I used to joke with her that she would outlive all of us. I told her that if nuclear winter hit, it would be her and the cockroaches that would survive.

Up until recently, I totally believed it.

It seems so surreal that she is gone.

But she is.

I don’t really have much faith in the possibility of an afterlife. I think it’s most likely an invention of necessity, created to help comfort the grieving.

If there is an afterlife though, that lady is already starting to work some serious mojo from beyond.

After getting into my van last night to head home, my iPod started playing just the last few seconds of the Counting Crows song, “Colorblind”.

The lyrics went like this:

“I am ready,

I am ready,

I am fine.

I. am. fine.”

So either my iPod is omniscient, or Grandma was trying to tell me something.

A Perfect Storm.

I probably should have known better.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that having back to back pregnancies after struggling with post-partum anxiety isn’t the best way to avoid it a second time.

I imagine that the sleep deprivation and killer migraines don’t help in that department either.

Add to that the fact that my maternal grandmother has been hospitalized for the past six weeks and her condition is worse now that it was when she went in.

It’s the perfect storm. Not just for another bout of PPA, but also for a major case of depression.

Normally, I would call my grandma because talking helps get all this mess out of my head.

And I really should never be left for too long alone with my thoughts.

It can get overwhelmingly crazy in there really quick.

But my grandmother’s tracheotomy tube has left her unable to speak. And that’s kept my days disturbingly quiet at times.

It’s been really hard not to focus on all the gloom and doom in my life right now. Everything is bleak in all directions. 

I’m thankful the boys keep me busy. The distractions help the time pass and my head stays busy with to-do lists and schedules.

Because the less time I have to think about how the rest of my world is slowly crumbling at the edges, the better.

This too shall pass. And I just have to hang in there until it does.

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