For My Girls: What I Learned by Getting Divorced

Divorce filings spike in January, and continue to increase through March. If your new year started off with a decision to end your marriage, please remember that you are still an excellent mom.

coping with divorceFor my girls:

Once upon a time, I wasn’t married to your father. I know that may seem hard to believe, but it’s true. Once upon a time I was not married to anyone at all, and then, for a little while, I was married to men who are not your daddy. I’ve tried to tell you all your life that sometimes even grownups make mistakes, and that mistakes are really just opportunities to learn. I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned from getting divorced; hopefully that will help you avoid a divorce of your own, but, girls, this is the most important lesson I learned: even if you get divorced, it will be okay. Plus, your daddy and I will love you both no matter what happens.

Here’s the first thing I want you to know: people aren’t always what they seem. Sometimes it takes a really long time to figure out who is really there behind the early efforts to show off only your very best traits. If your boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, spouse, whatever starts showing you sides that you don’t like, it’s okay to bring it up. You probably won’t ever find someone who has nothing but good traits (even daddy has stinky morning breath, and he’s late all the time), but the bad traits shouldn’t be things that scare you, or things that make you feel insecure. Trust your instincts, and if you need support, just ask.

Here’s another lesson I learned: it’s okay to walk away. Even if you’ve already spent money on a big wedding, even if it would make people mad at you, even if you’re dressed all fancy, and even if you’ve already said, “I do.” Can I tell you a secret? If I had been more confident, and less scared of being alone, I would have broken up with my first husband about two weeks before our wedding. My second husband would have gotten a big fat “no” when he chose to propose to me in a way that suited him fine, but gave me an awful panic attack. That said, sometimes you don’t realize until afterwards that things were already broken. That’s okay, too – don’t beat yourself up about it. Remember that you are loved, by me, by daddy, by each other, by God (if that helps). Aunt Kathy, too – you know she would go to the mat for you. She’s a bruiser.

This one is really important, I think: it’s unrealistic to think that you and your partner won’t fight, and sometimes they will make mistakes that hurt you, but they should act in ways that make you feel good most of the time, and they should be willing to work hard to support you and make you feel good. Katherine, I don’t know if you remember how sad I was when I was pregnant, or just after Izzy was born. I actually had postpartum depression with both pregnancies. I’ll never forget how hard daddy worked to take care of me during those times. He adjusted his work schedule so that I could go to therapy appointments, he assuaged my fears about taking the medications I needed to make me well, and when things were really bad and I was scared to be alone, he would come home to me, and if it made him angry, he never showed it.

Finally, this one has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, and I’ve had to learn and relearn it again and again. My darlings, my sweet ladies, you must trust me in this: you deserve to be loved. No matter how imperfect you feel or look; when you are at your best, but also when you are at your worst. You are worthy, you are good, and you deserve to be loved.

Love you always,

Momma

This post was originally written for the Writing Through Your Divorce workshop, which is hosted by Magda Pescayne.

Moms: Darned If You Do, Darned If You Don’t

You know why the Mommy Wars are just plain dumb? Because no matter what choices you make as a mom, there are hundreds of totally vocal jerks out there ready to put you down for it. And some of those jerks are even your fellow moms!

winning the mommy warsForget working or staying at home… if you want to see a real Mommy War, hit up some forum discussions about breastfeeding, extended rear facing car seat usage, co-sleeping, babywearing, and potty training. Mom support is the best, but fact is we’re not giving it to each other half the time. Observe:

  • Pick up your baby as soon as she cries? You’re spoiling her!
  • Let your kid cry it out? You’re a horrible, cruel, and cold mother!
  • Formula in a bottle? Gross! Unnatural! Poison!
  • Can’t breastfeed? Nonsense, everyone can! You didn’t try hard enough, slacker!
  • Breast milk in a bottle? Nipple confusion! You’ll ruin your baby’s teeth!
  • Breastfeed in public? Grossssss!
  • Breastfeed for more than a year? Even grosser!
  • Breastfeed until your toddler weens herself? You are obviously some kind of dirty hippie! Or a pervert!
  • Baby bundled up? TOO HOT!
  • Baby undressed? TOO COLD!
  • Extended rear facing? Your baby can’t see anything and will be so bored!
  • Turn the car seat front facing as soon as recommended because baby is miserable? You don’t care about safety!
  • Letting baby sleep through the night from day 1? She won’t get enough to eat!
  • Waking baby up to eat during the night? Never wake a sleeping baby!
  • Co-sleeping? Are you nuts? You will roll on baby! Or you’re a pervert!
  • Putting baby in a crib in a nursery? Meanie! Poor baby will get lonely!
  • Pumping? OMG moooooooo!
  • Not pumping? What if your milk dries up!?!?!?!11?
  • Question your decision to have a baby? You were obviously never meant to breed!
  • Never question your decision to have a baby? You’re a tool of a the patriarchy! Dirty breeder!
  • Enjoy your time away from baby? You cold-hearted witch!
  • Cry when you’re away from baby? Well, aren’t you the needy one!
  • Put sunblock on baby? You’re going to give your baby cancer!
  • Don’t put sunblock on baby? You’re also going to give your baby cancer!
  • Wear your baby? Oh, look how crunchy frou-frou YOU are!
  • Leave your perfectly happy baby in its carrier? Neglect! Neglect!
  • Working mom? Why are you letting someone else raise your children?!
  • SAHM mom? You lazy moocher!

And so on and so forth until we’re all exhausted and questioning our every little decision about everything.

You know? I’m actually pretty sure that’s how marketers get us, just like back in the day when Listerine invented halitosis to sell more Listerine! So next time you feel like you’re about to get into it with another mom over your choices or her choices or some hypothetical mom’s choices, stop. Breathe. And suggest back patting over bickering because we moms are all doing the best we can.

Can you think of more ‘darned if you do, darned if you don’t’ scenarios that we all end up having to deal with when we become moms?

 

On the Anniversary of My Miscarriage

Once upon a time, I had a miscarriage. Somewhat inconveniently, the fact that the twins were no longer growing or even alive was revealed to us on my mother’s birthday, so once a year I spend the a whole day feeling terrible except for 15 minutes during which I suck it up and I phone up my mom to wish her a happy one. Maybe if that appointment had happened on some more random date like January 16 or July 14, it would be easier to forget. Probably not but at least it wouldn’t be attached to a date I’m supposed to remember annually.

how to recover from a miscarriageAnd so every year my mother’s birthday rolls around again and there I am on the anniversary of my miscarriage…

Thinking about who those girls might have been.

Or how we would have made it work without going broke.

Remember the moment the neonatologist said “I’m sorry, but your babies have passed.”

Imagining what life with twins would have been like.

Or trying to imagine life without Bo since he never would have been born or they’d lived.

Wondering why, as in “Why me?” even though that is such a stupid question.

Wondering if it was something I did or didn’t do that caused it. Another stupid question.

Thinking about fate. Was I destined to lose those babies in some karmic turnaround.

Contemplating how it takes the body so long to realize it’s not pregnant anymore.

Wondering if anyone but me ever thinks about those babies.

Searching for other mothers’ miscarriage stories.

And asking myself if I’m odd for holding onto it now years later – especially when I’ve tried to talk to my husband about it and it turns out he’s not even the least little bit sad any more.

Wishing my culture had a way to mark the passing of a fetus the way the Japanese have the bodhisattva Jizo.

Every year I ask myself: Will this day ever be a day without some mourning ever again?

But not only on this day.

I can be dealing with the mundanities of life or be entirely absorbed in the task at hand and there it is. I’m there on the table and the tech is putting the ultrasound wand down and excusing herself from the room. Or I’m blindsided with the recurring thought that I could have had three girls instead of one girl and one boy. I’ll remember how exciting it was to have the consulting OB ask me if twins ran in my family. How devastating it was to have to tell the world that those twins were dead inside of me.

I don’t have some profound way I planned to wrap up this post because it is what it is – my musings. In lieu of a clean, snappy conclusion, I’ll ask you to please, please, please share your miscarriage recovery story if you have one. You never know… you could be helping a mom who is hurting right now realize she’s not alone!

11 Awesome Outdoor Winter Activities for Toddlers

Get off your Butts and Climb out of Your Caves, Mamas…

Winter “hibernation” tendencies naturally kick in right about now, especially when you’re home with a toddler, it can be way too easy to stay inside for days at a time. But c’mon, can’t you remember your favorite memories from childhood? I’m pretty sure if you grew up with winter weather, some of the most treasured ones involved the great outdoors blanketed with snow. So get off your butt, bundle yourself and your little ones up, and get outdoors for some of these toddler-friendly winter activities:

1. Sledding

As soon as your kiddo can walk (maybe even crawl) he/she can sled… on your lap of course. Channel your inner child and hit the local hill with your toddler. Tip: avoid large, steep hills. An accident with your toddler can get very ugly very fast when you consider your weight against theirs.

2. Make a Snowman (or Sandman)

When the sticky stuff starts to pile up and all you can think of is how miserable it will be to dig yourself out of the driveway, scratch plans to go into town and hit your backyard for some snowman making adventures. If there is no snow and you live near the beach, consider making a sandman instead! Tip: Don’t forget to bring along the carrots, buttons or rocks, a hat, an old scarf, and a camera to document your new family friend.

3. Build a Snow Fort

If you’re feeling extra motivated, search Google and you’ll get the inspiration you need to build the backyard snow fort or igloo of your dreams… er, I mean your child’s dreams ;)  Seriously though, if you do manage to tackle this one, please share your masterpiece with the Mom Meet Mom community!

4. Shovel… No Kidding

Toddlers love to do house and yard work and let’s face it, that won’t last long, so take advantage of it now. When the white stuff starts to really stick, break out the shovels and let your toddler lend a “helping hand”. Hint: most hardware stores sell kiddo shovels.

5. Roast Marshmallows

We always associate camp fires with warm summer nights, but how cool would it be to break out the beach chairs, bundle the family in the warmest snow gear and blankets, and light up a winter bonfire? What the heck… call up your mom friends and their hubbies (if you’re married) and make it a party with s’mores, hot cocoa and some winter lagers or Baileys for the grownups!

6. Play Ball

You don’t need a grassy field or packed dirt mound to enjoy a fun game of soccer, baseball or football. Bundle the kiddos up in their snowsuits and let them indulge in the sport of their choice. Invite the neighbors’ kids for an extra fun time (and give those mamas a break while you’re at it). The good news is there will be no grass stains and way less bruises when the playing field is white instead of green.

7. Hit the Playground

What’s better than going down a slide? Going down a slide in a snowsuit with a pile of soft snow to catch you at the bottom. Next time you’re looking for a place to let the kiddos run wild, remember the parks don’t shut down in the winter. Just watch out for ice!

8. Make Snow Mazes

This will be a huge hit. Go online and look for a simple but fun maze pattern. Once you’ve selected a good one, print it out, grab your shovel and start digging out back. Consider watching Alice In Wonderland beforehand so your kids can get lost in their imaginations and the magic of this activity.

9. Host an Outdoor Playdate

Find some moms near you and arrange an outdoor playdate. While the kiddos run it out in your backyard, you can relax and catch up on some adult social time with other moms like you.

10. Pop a Tent

While it’s far from the first activity that comes to mind in the blistering cold, backyard camping can actually be pretty fun in the winter as long as you prep so it’s safe. And if you’re not ready for an overnight, set up just for daytime camping fun. Who knows? Your kids might prefer to start with daytime camping, anyway.

11. Go for a Hike

Break out the snowshoes, toddler back carrier (if they’re still too little for long walks), and hit the trails for some winter wonderland hiking adventures. Remember you don’t need to go far with your toddler for them to enjoy this. A small local park is plenty sufficient and safe for winter hikes.

What are your favorite winter outdoor activities for toddlers? Let’s hear ‘em! And if you’re committed to staying indoors – which is totally understandable considering the current cold snap – we’ve got you covered for indoor playdate ideas for toddlers!

27 Things No One Will Tell You About Motherhood Before You Become a Mom

Well, except for me because I always make a point about telling it like it is. Or at least nodding with a slightly sardonic smile on my face when non-moms tell me all the things they’re going to do when they’re parents. Sure, sure, I say, that all sounds great. Then I show them this list because I want people to know what it’s like to be a mom before they take the plunge because why not? Here are a whole bunch of things no one told me before I became a mom – do me a solid and share them with the moms-to-be in your life!

things no one tells you about motherhood1. During pregnancy, you can get varicose veins… in your private zone. That’s right, your privates will be different even before you give birth. And they’ll definitely be different afterward.

2. You may not fall in love with your baby right away. You may not even fall in love with your baby for months. You may even feel… nothing staring down at the newborn who’s just been placed in your arms. And that’s okay – bonding is a process, not a momentary opportunity that can be lost.

3. Or you may fall in love with your baby so completely that you feel like nothing else in the entire world will ever matter again. And that’s okay, too. It won’t be long before you figure out that the intense love for your child doesn’t take away from your love for others.

4. Sleep deprivation will cause you and your partner to fight about ridiculous things. Once, I screamed “Just give me the goddamned baby!” We were fighting about who would change her, winner take diaper.

5. Your breasts will smell if you’re nursing. Milky, but not like cow milky. After a day in the same nursing bra you will have your own fascinating aroma.

6.Breast feeding doesn’t just happen for most women. Most of us will have varying degrees of issues when it comes to nursing. Maybe your baby eats like a champ but you battle recurring mastitis. Or a weak latch makes it difficult for your baby to gain weight. In plenty of cases, it just doesn’t work out.

7. When you’re not second guessing your choices, other people will be second guessing your choices. Sometimes loudly, right to your face.

8. The thought of your partner touching you – I mean just giving you a hello hug – after you have had a baby attached to you all day may make you physically ill. Eventually this will change but it can be weird for both of you.

9. You will be bombarded with advice, most of which will be wrong or outdated or outright crazy or just plain not right for your baby.

10. You will do things you have steadfastly said you would never do for most of your adult life. Maybe it’s co-sleep. Maybe it’s formula feed. Maybe it’s hand-feeding your one-year-old cereal puffs at 3 a.m., but it’ll happen.

11. You will accidentally hurt your child. Probably more than once. I have: bitten my daughter’s finger, hard. Dropped her on the stairs. Banged my son’s tiny head into a doorway so hard we thought he’d have a dent in his skull forever. You get the idea. When it happens you will want to crawl in a hole and die.

12. Your pets will be demoted. If you’re like most people, BK (i.e., before kids) your dogs or cats or iguanas were your babies. After a real baby enters your life, chances are you’re not going to feel the same level of unconditional love toward your animals. Especially if they do something like bite your child or start peeing on their stuff.

13. It may be years before you sit down and actually enjoy a hot meal because you will be responsible for making sure your little ones 1. sit, 2. eat, and 3. stop throwing the @#$% silverware on the floor.

14. A solo trip to the grocery store or a dental appointment will feel like a mini vacay. You will put on real pants and eyeliner for the occasion and silently curse the fact that your visit with the hygienist is over.

15. You will find yourself saying words like ‘runned’ and ‘breaked’ and ‘bink-a-dinka-do’ and ‘dipey’. Accidentally. In conversations with real, actual grownups who may not have kids and will think that your brain has turned to vanilla pudding.

16. Having a kid is a lot like having a really crappy roommate. They’re messy. They don’t contribute to the household. They might just turn out to love partying all night and sleeping all day. And they can be really mean.

17. There may be a day where you legit wish you hadn’t had kids – just for a second, I swear – but the thought will pop into your head one day while you’re looking at your Facebook feed full of childfree 30-somethings going to Iceland and eating in fine Manhattan restaurants where they make dessert right on the table.

18. Your parents may not be as helpful as you assume they’ll be post-baby. In fact, their visits may end up being more work for you because they’re expecting to be fed and entertained. You, on the other hand, were expecting them to do a couple loads of laundry.

19. You will sometimes be that person in the supermarket with the screaming child or the baby who just threw up or whatever, and you will feel terrible about all of the times BK you looked a frazzled mom or dad out in public and thought about what you’d do better.

20. Your interest in poop – its frequency, its color, its consistency, and so on – will never be as intense as it will be in the first six months of your baby’s life.

21. Everything will become a threat. You will suddenly be hyper-aware of all of the things right there in your very household that could possibly kill your child. Not just the big stuff like water boiling on the stove. I’m talking about things like a pencil. Or a blanket. Or your own incompetence.

22. You will look at yourself and see a whole new person and that will be okay because you will, on some level, treasure the sacrifices you make for your kids.

23. And yet, there will be guilt. SO much guilt. Every decision moms make is a potential minefield of guilt, guilt, and more guilt because there’s no one right way to be a mom but you can’t open your browser without someone telling you they’re right and you’re wrong.

24. Mothering is not for the faint of heart. You will suddenly understand this the first time your child sustains a bloody head wound or you find yourself bringing a tiny tooth in a Tupperware of milk to the dentist.

25. Babies and young children have an innate death wish, and you’re the one who has to stand between them and their impulse to do things like, oh, dive head-first off the tops of bookcases or drink poison.

26. You will sometimes dislike your children, but you’ll still love them. The intensity of both emotions may surprise you.

27. There’s very little in this life as satisfying as finally getting a really tricky booger out of a little one’s nose.

Now you tell us – what truth about motherhood do you wish someone had told you?

Top Celebrity Moms Who Gave Birth in 2013

This past year brought along with it some of the biggest celebrity birth stories in history. C’mon, who didn’t sit around the TV awaiting the name and sex revelation of the next royal baby of Cambridge? Guilty. So before we officially  close the doors on 2013, let’s take a look at some of the hottest celebrity moms who gave birth last year.

 1. Princess Kate

The Duchess and Duke of Cambridge welcomed baby boy, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge on July 22nd.

2. Kate Winslet

Kate and hubby Ned Rocknroll welcomed their first child (Kate’s third) on December 7th. Babies name still unknown.

3. Jennifer Love Hewitt

Jennifer and husband Brian Hallisay welcomed their first baby, Autumn James Hallisay on November 26th.

4. Halle Berry

Halle and husband, Olivier Martinez welcomed their first child, Maceo Robert Martinez on October 5th.

5. Fergie

Fergie and husband, Josh Duhamel, welcomed baby boy, Axl Jack Duhamel on August 29th.

6. Penelope Cruz Luna Bardem

Penelope and husband, Javier Bardem welcomed their second, baby Luna Bardem, on July 22nd

7. Busy Philipps

Busy and husband, Marc Silverstein welcomed second baby Cricket Pearl Silverstein on July 2nd.

8. Jessica Simpson

Jess and husband Eric Johnson welcomed second baby, Ace Knute Johnson, on June 30th.

9. Kim Kardashian

Kim and Kanye West welcomed baby, North West on June 15th.

10. Kristen Bell

Kristen and Dax Shepard welcomed baby girl, Lincoln Shepard  on March 28th

11. Shakira

Shakira and Gerard Pique welcomed baby Milan Pique Mebarak on January 22nd.

12. Holly Madison

Famous Playboy bunny and boyfriend Pasquale Rotella welcomed baby girl Rainbow Aurora, on March 5th

13. Maya Rudolph

Maya and husband Paul Thomas Anderson welcomed their baby in September.

14. Ivanka Trump

Ivanka and husband, Jared Kushner welcomed Joseph Frederick Kushner, on October 14th

A big congratulations to the celeb moms mentioned above and others that we may have missed! It will be interesting to see who makes the list for 2014!