Mean Girls

I have something to admit. Sometimes I feel like a failure. I feel it most acutely when I think about our dog, Charlie. Because, you see, we gave her away.

There came a time, in the midst of that blurry first year with the kids, that we realized it would be selfish to keep her in our home. We were just not able to care for her the way that loving ol’ girl deserved to be cared for. I won’t go into the details, because this post is not about how difficult our situation was.

This post is about mean girls and judgement.

We were so thrilled to find her a loving home, on a beautiful farm with hundreds of acres and other doggie friends to play with. No children, no more leashes and hurried walks, no more hiding behind baby gates. This weekend, however, I received a scathing email from the woman who found this beautiful home for our pup. She felt the need, now that Charlie was all settled in, to let me know her thoughts on the decision that we made for our family. I was floored. I hadn’t felt such judgement or hatred in such a long time. I tried to explain that she didn’t know how hard we had tried, how long we had all been hoping our situation would improve; how she didn’t know what went on in our home.

She told me I wasn’t the first person to have kids and a dog.

After a weekend of hurt and anger, I am now looking inward and asking myself why it hurts so much. The answer is because part of me thinks she’s right. I failed. I couldn’t have kids and a dog.

And then I started thinking about all the other people who have judgements thrown on them, regarding breastfeeding or formula feeding, bed-sharing or placing their newborn in a room by themselves, returning to work or staying home, daycare or hired help. Every time I’m on Facebook I come across another article describing one of these judgements, telling moms everywhere that they may be failing at the most important job on earth. Or our food choices: animals, dairy, organic, processed…we all have kernels of self-doubt inside of us, making us vulnerable and sensitive. I couldn’t handle the judgement because it hurt so much to wonder if the right decision had been made.

As I place more space around her words, I am using this to remind myself that I need to choose the comments I let into my world. As the young kids say, haters be hatin’. There will always be mean girls.

Some will say mean things behind your back, and some will say it to your face. Some comments, you won’t really care about, and some will really hurt you, because they will hit your place of self-doubt. The mommy wars, dietary choices, politics, bullying – these issues will always be around, because there will always be mean girls (and boys) who are operating from their place of self-doubt. The only way around it is to take care of ourselves, to know our own reasons are enough. To take care of others, by offering support, listening and – before we dole out opinions and advice – remembering: we cannot, ever, truly know what it’s like to be someone else. Our paths in life are too varied; our perspectives are too unique.

Words that come from insecurity are damaging. Words of understanding come from a place of love.

My anger from the words that were written to me is finally receding, and so I will push out words of love:

To the person who wrote them, I allow that you do not understand our reasons for giving up our dog, and I forgive that you felt the need to tell me that. Perhaps you too have been hurt by words.

To our dog Charlie, I am so sorry that we were unable to make things work with you in our family, and I know that you will have everything you deserve in the last years of your life.

And to myself, I release myself from guilt, because we chose the hard decision, the unpopular decision, the one that was best for ALL of us.

My lovely readers, I urge you to offer words of love to those around you, and to yourself. And especially to those whose choices you don’t understand.

Every word counts.

Sarah


Detaching

Winter babies!

Winter babies!

I will be back at work in one week. My babies are 17 months. I have been practicing “attachment parenting” for that long – bed-sharing for 8 months, baby-wearing every day, breastfeeding on demand – and now I have to let go. Now I have to push myself away and untangle myself from their little toddler world. This is day 3 of Detachment Parenting.

 

I am sitting in a coffee shop, typing on my laptop, which is fun. I feel like I’m 21 again, when I used to scribble away in coffee shops in Montreal, except it’s not 2am and no one smokes any more.

 

I feel like I’m forgetting something. I look around constantly, trying to think of what’s missing. I’m slightly on edge, I feel out of place and disoriented.

 

It took so much energy to figure out this motherhood thing. Learning how to get through a day with two infants, now two toddlers. Finding that rhythm, figuring out how not to go crazy, searching out connections through Facebook or twin groups, stressing over the dishes and laundry that wasn’t getting done, the cooking that wasn’t happening. And then it’s over. I’m going back to work, and a whole new way of living will have to be discovered.

 

I’m not happy about it. But I’m not unhappy about it either. I have images of leisurely coffees, solo bathroom breaks, maybe some adult conversation… But the mother in me is aching. My body is aching. My body remembers the little things that lived inside of me, that fed from me. That needed me every second of every day.

 

Something about it just seems so over. I no longer mourn not having had only one baby. I am proud and thankful for the experience that I had. It was the.hardest.thing. I will ever do. It was so intense, so all consuming. But I have emerged a better person, I’m more aware of my place in this world, what is important and what is not. But, BUT…because it all happened at the same time, it’s all over with at the same time too. We only want two children, that’s what works for us. I spent 32 years thinking about having babies, and now babyhood is over. My body is mine again, my toddlers walk and run, talking is on the tip of their tongues, they are funny and kind, they get angry and sad. They are their own little people.

 

When Jude was nursing 3 or 4 times a night, and I would be rocking him, half asleep, so exhausted, I would tell myself to enjoy it. I would tell myself that it would be over soon. It’s a really really hard thing to believe at 3am when all you want to do is sleep. But now I’m so glad I did. I took a long mental picture of every snuggle, the way he would clasp his hands while he nursed. The way he wouldn’t let his eyes close fully. The way his feet pushed against the chair. The way he would wiggle back into his crib when he was done.

 

I wrote previously about how it was both horrible and beautiful. The amazing thing about motherhood is that slowly, the horrible falls away, and all you remember is the beautiful.

 

So I have chosen the pictures I will be putting up in my office. I savor how happy they are when I return home in the afternoon. I am holding them extra tight as we enter our final months of breastfeeding, and I am letting myself feel the sadness and joy of watching my children grow up.

 

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I will be taking my blog in a new direction with my return to work. I am noticing the need for more conversation around food for children, and I am so excited to get back into the details of what I’m feeding my vegetarian babies! I will probably retire this blog, and begin something new, so please stay tuned!

 

Sarah xoxo


All About Boob: Part 2

I’ve been thinking about this post for a while, mostly because after this article came out, I realized that I am extended breastfeeding. It sort of snuck up on me. The one year mark has passed, and we are still going strong on the boob. When I was pregnant with twins, and when they were newborn, the message I got was loud and clear: It is very very difficult to breastfeed two babies exclusively or for a long period of time. I didn’t set out to prove it wrong. In fact, my breastfeeding success is mostly due to the fact that I am lazy. In the beginning, the thought of preparing formula, or pumping seemed like so much work, that I just decided to go for it. It definitely wasn’t easy, and now that Thea’s teeth have come in, it’s pretty obvious that she has an undiagnosed upper lip tie, which probably led to a lot of the problems I had. I was sore for months. MONTHS. Couldn’t stand under the shower, sore. Couldn’t lie on my stomach to sleep, sore. Took a lot of Tylenol sore. But slowly, we all figured it out, and now that we have it down, I don’t want to give it up!

I never imagined I would be nursing toddlers, but here we are. I’m slated to head back to work in February, so I’m hoping by then we’re down to only nursing before bed, but that seems unlikely given my little girl booby-monster.

Booby Monster

Booby Monster

 

Jude feeds less, really just before nap and bed…and 2 or 3 times during the night.

As a believer in Attachment Parenting, I’m trying to find the balance right now – basically of how to un-attach myself a bit. Extended breastfeeding definitely makes that more difficult. I can’t leave Dad in charge of bedtime or nap time, because they need boob to go down. And with two, I’m still really feeding every 3 or 4 hours. So that’s not a lot of alone time. But all that said, here’s my list of why extended breastfeeding rocks:

1. Instant soother – bumps, scrapes, fingers caught in doors, teething, colds, you name it, booby fixes it!

2. Cuddle time – Jude is just too busy for much cuddling, but when it’s booby time, he nuzzles in and I get my cuddle fix from him.

3. Nutrition – They pretty much eat everything now, but sometimes I worry that I’m getting all their nutrition in. At least I know they are still getting breast milk, so I don’t stress too much…yet!

4. Weight loss – I know, it’s pretty vain, but I’m burning 1000 calories a day breastfeeding these two! So I can enjoy guilt-free Starbucks lattes! (Mmm…peppermint mocha…)

5. Breastfeeding Embassador – I had NO idea how to breastfeed. I hadn’t really seen anyone else doing it. Now that it’s so easy and natural, I like showing other new moms how great it is, especially mom’s of multiples, since as I said, we aren’t given much hope that it will go well.

I know that not everyone can breastfeed, and that formula or pumping or a combination is a great option for some. Breastfeeding has been such an unexpected part of my parenting experience. I hadn’t really given it much thought, other than knowing that I wanted to try it. Looking ahead, I’m not sure how long we’ll go. I would love it if they self-weaned when they were ready, but I know that they need to be able to go all day without me when I’m back at work, so my goal right now is to make it to 18 months. And maybe I’ll be able to fit back into my old bras one day!

My toddlers

My toddlers


Life is Messy

I realize I do not write here often anymore, but that’s okay. This is for me now, and if someone else reads it, then that is okay too.

The house is a mess. I have two toddlers, and I was not very good at keeping it clean to begin with.

My relationship is a mess. Two babies will do that, although I do not blame them. Babies come into the world and they create parents, and those parents have babies inside of them, who maybe were not held enough, who maybe watched their parents struggle, who maybe still want to be held and loved. These new parents look in the mirror everyday and worry, that they are making mistakes, that they will stumble and fall just like their toddlers. These new parents do not remember what their relationship used to be like, do not remember when times were easy and they could fall into each other at the end of the day. New parents can forget how to lean on each other or how to dream about the future, when the everyday is a sea of stress and details.

My career is a mess. I have not worked in almost two years. My French is leaving me, my drive is dwindling, I am forgetting the government-speak that I used to relish throwing around.

My body is a mess. It folds where it used to stretch, it hangs where it used to perch. It tires easily and feels sore most days.

My eating is a mess. I feed my babies, breast milk and organic vegetables and whole grains, and when it comes time to feeding myself, I am exhausted and boring. I am eating Halloween candy and take-out sushi and yoghurt by the tub-full.

But – Life is messy. This is life, truly dirty, messy life. It is full of tears and snot and poop and sleep, or the lack of sleep. It is hurt, and anger and it is laughter and joy. My babies are growing. A year ago I was swimming in the new-born phase, and now we have wrapped this new reality of walking/talking/climbing around us and it is equally scary and awe-inspiring.

For all the mess, it is so raw, so real. It is creation, it is art. It is beautiful.

I know someone who had a baby yesterday, and there are a few more on their way in the coming months. I am not nostalgic for those early days, but I would like to offer a bit of advice: Let it be messy. It will take awhile for order to return, and when it does, let it be new and different. Let everything fall into chaos, and know that something new is coming out of it. A family; whole and perfect in it’s insanity. Be okay with the mess, the mistakes, the past and the future. Just let it go and trust that life will continue whether the dishes are done, whether your husband hugs you before he leaves in the morning, or whether you give your son Advil for the 20th day in a row to combat molars. Hug your babies, be kind to yourself, feel every minute that passes. And breath, breath, breath.

Love and kindness,

Sarah

Climbing into toddlerhood, here we go!

Climbing into toddlerhood, here we go!

 


One Year Update

I figured if anyone is still following me, I owe you a one year update. Because yes, one full year has come and gone. I now get to play the “this time last year” game, which currently is, This Time Last Year I was in a non-sleeping newborn psychosis. I was told it got better…but I did not believe that. I now realize that my babies were not good sleepers, aaaand I had twins. I also insisted on demand feeding, so I co-slept those little buggers, and I would nurse from side to side all night long.

And then they started moving. Jude went into his own crib, and one night, fed up, I put Thea in her own crib and…after 2 minutes of cries, she slept. All night. And has every night since. I have one sleeper! It was a miraculous night.

Jude still wakes up, I’m not going to lie. Once is a good night, three or four times is a bad night. But hubby and I are back in our own room, and I feel like a real person again. So yes, it does get better. Slowly, and without warning, but it does.

When I first started breastfeeding, I told myself to just make it to six months. Then I decided to go for a year. We are still going strong, and I often think about all the people who told me breastfeeding twins was near impossible. It took a lot of determination, and as I’ve discussed before, it was so so difficult in the beginning. I credit the amazing twin moms of my local La Leche League group, as well as a fear of having to wash and prepare a million bottles every day.

The best thing about this year? Getting over my fear of twins. I was so scared that I would be overwhelmed (and some days I was), that I would sink into a depression (and I did have those days too), that I would never have a life again, (ok, some weekends I still feel pretty lame), that I wouldn’t LIKE being a mom…but I did not account for actually enjoying being a twin mom. They play together, they make each other laugh. They are now napping on similar schedules and they go to bed at the same time. I can now appreciate how hard two DIFFERENT ages must be, and even though I mourned not being a mom-of-one, I am so happy that my children chose to come at the same time. This is our little family now, we are complete.

Over this past year we have moved twice (with a third time pending!), we have faced financial uncertainty, hubby and I have definitely had relationship struggles…our lives have been irrevocably changed.

But in the evenings, after dinner, when we play in the living room before bath time, sometimes they give each other these big wet kisses…sometimes, they hold sticky hands between their high chairs…sometimes Thea helps to wash Jude’s hair, and they always wave hi to each other when they get up after nap.

It really makes it all worth it.

Happy Birthday little people!

Cake!

Cake!


Catfish

Last night I watched the documentary “Catfish”, about meeting people through Facebook. My husband was very skeptical about it, often exclaiming “who would believe anything from Facebook?!” The thing is, I’ve made a lot of new friends through social networking over the last year, and so I want to write down a few thoughts on it.

Being a new mother in this day and age is very, very isolating. Especially being a twin mom, taking those two little babes to a play group, or even the park was extremely difficult in the beginning. Being a mom in my 30′s – ie: I was quite set in my ways when the bubs came along – and being the first of most of my friends to pop babes out, my days and nights radically changed. It was lonely. When my husband kisses us goodbye in the morning and that front door bangs shut, a sort of terror can come over me as I look at my two infants and envision the day ahead…a day of diaper changes, breastfeeding, soothing cranky pants, kissing boo boos, and reading books filled with one syllable words. Self doubt can creep in, wondering if I’m doing this right; it can seem like the strangers I meet on the street are handling things so much better than I am.

Fifty years ago, we would have had our neighbours all around us, commiserating and living side by side. Without air conditioning, everyone’s windows would have been open, and we wouldn’t feel like it’s only OUR children who are up all night. My grandmother did not need to travel across town to find other stay-at-home moms. She shared recipes and house cleaning tips over the fence while literally airing out the laundry!

Yes, I’m idealizing and simplifying things…but social networking, and Facebook in particular, has served a purpose for me. It has created a community for me, so that I don’t feel quite so alone. When I have a question about something, I can post it on a wall, much the same way I might have called over a fence in days past. I know I’ll get a thoughtful and helpful answer from other moms, no matter how far apart we are.

Social networking can be a wonderful tool, I think, and the great thing about it is that we can control it’s presence in our lives. I overlook mama-drama, I choose the groups I join carefully, and I don’t over-share personal info. In this way, I have found the support I needed to make it through this first year, while my real-life community has been continuing their lives – working and going out for dinner and doing all the things a used to do – and my online community has been a touchstone while I transition to Mom-of-two.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had the support of those around me (you know who you are!!!), but when you’re in the fish-bowl of the first year, sometimes you just need to talk to those who get it too.

I’ve met a lot of moms online who are now my real life friends, and I’ve met a lot of moms who I might never meet. Are those moms real?

Does it really matter?

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Baby carrots: green pâté!

Green pâté recipe:

1 cup chickpeas
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1 handful kale, washed and de-stemmed

Purée with a blender wand and spread on un-salted rice cakes. They loved it!

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