Daniel: “You have a Mommypotamus Facebook page now.”
Me: “I have a what?”
Daniel: “A Facebook page where you can share links. I created it while you were napping.”
Long ago in a land far, far away. Scratch that. Here on this couch just a few months ago that very conversation occurred. Before I knew it I was shown a page with random photos of my life alongside a little notice indicating that I had “become a fan” of . . . myself.
A fan? Really? I don’t think so.
I tried to protest, but Daniel informed me that was the only way I could interact with people on the Mommypotamus page. Of course, I could leave it up to him, but that didn’t work out so well when he began impersonating me on Twitter. Oh yes, that really happened!
So I remained a “fan,” gagging over the implied narcissism until the wonderful day FB eliminated that button in favor of the noncommittal “Like” button. Liking myself is a bit easier to swallow, but lately I’ve been fighting the urge to click “Unlike.”
Just to see what it would feel like.
I know what it feels like in real life. This may not be the best way to put this, but life got BIGGER when Micah arrived. My great big beautiful life (in a teeny tiny house, if you must know:)) just got greater, bigger and more beautiful. I want all of it: Romance, family time, sweet moments with my babies, blogging and cooking. The only problem is me. I am too small for my life right now. I’m slowly growing into my new role as mother to Micah and being stretched in all of my old roles, but right now I’m coming up short . . . a lot.
Sometimes I get frustrated with my inability to just pop into this new phase and roll with it. I think clicking “Unlike” would be SO THERAPEUTIC. Went out in public in MOM JEANS because they are the only ones that fit? Unlike. Left the bathtub running while I went outside to play kickball with Katie? Unlike.
Unfortunately, Daniel swears the world will implode (or at least my page will crash) if I do that. So I won’t. I guess what I’m saying is, some parts of being a “work in progress” are messier than others. Now, for example, is pretty messy.
I have tons of good stuff planned for this community. Seriously, I did NOT glow with excitement last week when I told a friend what someone donated for an upcoming giveaway. Said donation is NOT worth hundreds of dollars and is NOT something moms and foodies will both fight over. Okay, I totally did and it totally is.
Thanks for sticking around while my life undergoes major construction. I promise we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled parenting posts, recipes, and whatnot. In the meantime, maybe you could tell me what you would UNLIKE if life came with buttons.
* image from FastCompanyRead More »
Today is the post I’ve been dreading all week. The more I thought about it and read your comments, the smaller and less helpful my ideas seemed. So, prepare to be underwhelmed. You are probably doing most, if not all, of these things.
One thing I regret about my last post is that it seems like I am saying it is possible to fully recreate a tribal dynamic. I am NOT saying that. To the degree that it’s doable for every unique situation I think it’s worth it to try. But in the end most of us will, like Leah, choose to say “In the ideal world, I would…..but in light of my present reality, this is the decision that is best for all of us.” I know I do.
Why did I, of all people, decide to write this post? I am wondering that myself. Although I have a fabulous support system now, it wasn’t always this way. For the first 18 months of Katie’s life I tried desperately to cram my former full-time job into part time hours. My in-laws did not live around the corner then. And while my mom did watch Katie several mornings a week while I juggled conference calls, press releases, and naptime with all the grace of a drunk elephant, dinner was a joke if it got made at all. I constantly beat myself up for not being able to achieve as much professionally as I had been able to when I slept 8 hours a night. I felt guilty for working at all, even though I didn’t even have to walk out my front door to reach my office.
Many (maybe most) of you have probably handled more challenging situations for longer periods of time. You are probably more qualified to write this post than I am. I wish I had known some of you back then. I had NO mom friends. No one to in the trenches to talk things over with. That’s why I’m writing this post . . . to get a discussion going in the comments so that I can learn something! So here’s my best shot:
Daytime Backup. If you’re already in the crunchy scene you may know some homeschooling families. In my experience girls that homeschool are great with children, and because of their flexible school schedules they can come during the day when hubby is at work and you need help the most. We have an amazing girl that comes over sometimes to play with Katie while I catch up on things. She’s only thirteen, but I don’t mind because I’m no further than the next room. And since she isn’t a full-fledged sitter yet her rates are incredibly budget friendly. If you’re interested in exploring this idea but don’t have any homeschool connections you might want to contact this list of Homeschooling Support Groups (categorized by location). From there you should be able to get in touch with a local chapter.
Widen the Circle. Seek out other moms to share ideas, inspiration, tasks, and pool resources with. This can take many forms. Some are practical, like designating one person to pick up milk at the farm for all of us or helping out with our area of expertise (midwifery, cooking, financial management, bargain hunting, home organization, etc.)
One of the most rewarding but least obvious sources of inspiration are mentor relationships. You may be thinking “Um, yeah, I’m sure there are a lot of experienced moms out there just dying to revisit life in the trenches with little ones.” Probably not. And even if there were, there aren’t a lot of moms out there that I can honestly say I’d want to emulate. So, where does that leave us? For every exceptional mentor there are like, a bazillion moms in the trenches needing encouragement and guidance. How does that work?
In my circle there are two moms that speak on occasion to my Wednesday morning mommy group. By loving on us in a group setting they are able to reach more moms without draining too much time away from their other commitments. Tana and Vivian were crunchy before it was cool. They’re fun, accepting and wise. I learn how to be a better mom just by being around them. For the record, this is also true of my own mom
Do you need to make some new connections? Whether you’re looking for fellow trench dwellers or a mentor, consider checking out your local La Leche chapter, Holistic Moms Network, or church group to find moms with similar philosophies.
A personal chef would be better, but . . . Although they are not actual people, you might consider making your crockpot and freezer part of your tribe. When you make your famous crockpot chili why not make it a double batch and let your freezer hold onto the extra for you? On occasion you will find that your freezer will say to you “I’ve got this. Take the night off.” Okay, maybe not, but don’t let their lack of personality stand in the way. Let your freezer help.
Let technology be your butler, accountant, and personal shopper. In other words, Automate EVERYTHING. Bill payments, budgeting (We use Mint. It’s free!), calendar reminders. I do as much holiday shopping online as possible, too.
Rework Work. Dad’s these days are cool. They take their daughters on Saturday morning coffee dates while mommy sleeps in and inspire crunchy moms to declare that real dads wear their babies. Although most dads work outside the home, some are finding that they can adjust their schedules to be at home during peak activity times. When Katie was born Daniel asked his boss if he could start going in early so he could get back home before his baby girl was in bed for the night. We’ve been enjoying that schedule for 3 years now even though Katie has been going to bed later for a long time now. My friend Whittney’s husband made the same request and is home at 3:30 every day . . . just in time to take the kids while she starts dinner.
While that one may work for a few of you, here’s one that may apply more broadly:
Once my little one had slept “through the night” a couple of times (and this age varied with all three), my husband took over the night care. The fact that they were sleeping for 6+ hour stretches at a time communicated to me that they did not need that middle of the night feeding. With Dad there, all it took was a bit of rocking and they just went back to sleep.
All that said, I am not and have never been a militant parent. If the baby had previously been sleeping “through the night” and was on their third or fourth waking, I assumed that they genuinely were hungry and would gladly nurse them. And if there happened to be a time when h/she fell asleep at the breast, I wouldn’t wake him before I put him down. It was simply a general guideline.
Comment from Leah on THAT Mom
I’ll admit, when Katie was a baby I constantly refused Daniel’s offers to help at night. I worried that the lack of sleep would affect him at work. I rarely considered how MY lack of sleep was affecting his ability to enjoy being at home. (Sadly, I wasn’t just THAT Mom, I was THAT Wife, too. : ()
Disclaimer: Have you seen the Babies documentary? A couple of weeks ago I rented it from our local video store. Ironically, of the four cultures it explores only one is tribal, and it is only in that culture that I never saw a man helping with childcare! So, while having The Chief help out is a very beneficial idea, it may not be anthropologically accurate.
At six weeks old Micah is sleeping 6-7 hours straight at night and napping well during the day. He is becoming comfortable sleeping in a variety of situations and has even consented to falling asleep in the co-sleeper after being placed in there awake!!! This is a huge improvement from the way we did things with Katie. I’ll be sharing the details of our sleep plan in the next post.
Special thanks to Whittney H for helping me with these ideas.Read More »
Pumpkins are the official herald of fall’s arrival, even in Texas where we wear shorts to the pumpkin patch.:) If you love pumpkin pie but don’t want the hassle of making one from scratch, here’s a very easy recipe that is guaranteed to satisfy.Read More »
As discussion continues on the original post in this series, I’ll admit I am more than a little intimidated to share my strategy with you. Ya’ll are smart mommies . . . you don’t need my silly plan! But I do. Writing it down and sharing the results makes me more accountable to stick with it. Even if I fail completely you can still read the comments . . . that’s where the good stuff is anyway (not that I agree with every perspective shared.)
I keep reminding myself that though I believe in many of the attachment parenting ideals, we do not live in a tribal society. I don’t have numerous people living a stone’s throw away to help me with daily tasks. It’s just me and my husband. Our families live far away and we can only ask so much of our friends. We have to adjust to our situation the best we can.
~ Comment from Pippi on THAT Mom
So where were we? It’s hard to remember since I haven’t been getting much sleep lately. Hmm . . .sleep. Something about that subject seems vaguely familiar. Were we talking about sleep? Ah yes, I remember now! This series is devoted to avoiding THAT Mom. (If you don’t know who THAT Mom is, start here. However, if you don’t already know you probably don’t need to read this post!)
As Pippi duly noted, we don’t live in a tribal culture. Few moms have an extra pair of hands to hold baby and help with dinner while momma catches up on much needed sleep. Sadly, most of us moms have come to believe that help isn’t there because it isn’t necessary. We believe we should be able to do this all by ourselves.
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG!
The saying, “It takes a village,” wasn’t created in a focus group. It comes from experience. The nuclear family arrangement works in many ways when it comes to housework, but the fact remains that my toaster cannot supervise Katie while I crash for a few hours with Micah.
With few exceptions, most of us don’t have a tribe. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need one . . . it means we need to create one. Krippendorf did. And so did I.
For Daniel and I, creating our tribe meant intentionally living within five minutes of extended family. You are probably trying not to hate me right now. I get that.
You may be thinking, “Wait a sec, I thought this was supposed to be your plan to get sleep without letting Micah cry it out. Why are we talking about tribes?“
Good question. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few weeks, it’s that there’s a learning curve associated with this experiment. I tried the 90 minute sleep cycle for a few days. At first it worked beautifully. Then, disaster. Overtired baby. Overtired mommy. Maybe I should have actually READ the book before trying to implement it!
No matter how knowledgeable I become, there will always be an “experimental” factor with each new child I welcome. There are going to be failed attempts, missed naps, and meltdowns. I need some margin for error. If I try something new and it BOMBS, my tribe sometimes (but not always) helps out by watching Katie while I grab an extra nap. It helps me get back on track. The setup is not perfect and we make compromises where necessary, but it helps.
If you’re reading this there’s a good chance you’re working on your own sleep experiment. Maybe you don’t have family nearby and you’re thinking this step is totally impractical. Maybe so. I debated writing about it for that reason, but since it’s part of my strategy it felt like the honest thing to do.
Wondering if there’s a way to make this work for you? In my next post I’ll share some ideas that may help. In the meantime I’d love to hear from you!
Question #1: What are some of the creative ways you’ve pulled people into your tribe for additional support? I know some of you have gone it completely alone, but others have leaned on relatives, friends, neighbors, or others.
Question #2: When family lives far away, can you lean on friends, or do you worry too much that they’ll think you cannot handle mommyhood?
[info_box]Mommypotamus here. I needed some extra sleep to, ahem, work on my next post about sleep. Hopefully it will be ready tomorrow, but in the meantime enjoy this fabulous birth story submitted by American ex-pat Kate S along with new submissions from Melodie, Theresa, Carolyn, Pomomama, Michelle and more. [/info_box]
My husband, my two year old daughter and I moved to South America in the spring of 2009 and one of the first things I did was find a midwife even though I wasn’t pregnant again yet. I had my first baby at home in Texas with Ann Crowel, Cindy Haggerton and Ann’s apprentice, Abby. It was an awesome experience and I hope I get to have all of my babies this way!
We don’t use any form of birth control so we were counting on our babies being somewhere around two years apart. As it turned out they actually had the exact same due date! Apparently ecological breast feeding works for me :). We were all so excited about Baby Two even though the only midwife in town didn’t speak English and our Spanish was (is) coming along very slowly. My midwife, Jesica, was due one month before me with her first baby, which also was a little unsettling for us but we put it in God’s hands. Jesica works with two doulas, usually only one per birth but we asked if we could have both of them – and I’m so glad we did!
From eleven weeks on my midwife came over to my house for my prenatal checkups – and stayed for two hours! That’s South America for you… they like to take their time :). Despite the language barrier Jesica was very concerned with getting to know me as best she could so that I would be comfortable with her during the birth. A few months before I was due the doulas, Romina and Laura, started coming over once a week (for two hours) just to hang out in order to get to know me better as well. I could go on and on about how wonderful doulas are right here and about how everyone should use them, and about how they are some of the most caring, comforting, and amazing women – but I need to get on to the birth!
Jesica ended up having her baby right around her due date so we were in the clear for Baby Two to arrive around my due date – August 4th. My stepmom arrived July 22nd and I was hoping I would go into labor a few days later after she had time to adjust to my daughter’s schedule and routines since she would be watching her during the birth. Well, we waited and waited but nothing happened.
My daughter Mariana’s second birthday, August 2nd, came and went and I was really hoping the baby would come that day. Then early in the morning on August 5th, the day after my due date, I started having contractions. I went and woke up my poor husband who had been working late and had only gone to bed twenty minutes before! He quickly got up, called my stepmom and started helping me get comfortable. My daughter woke up a few hours later and my stepmom took her out for the day – I don’t know what we would have done without Grandma! I had never spent more than a couple of hours apart from my daughter and it was so much easier for me to relax during labor knowing that she was in good hands the whole time.
Jesica, her new baby, and the doulas came over as soon as we called them to tell them my contractions were somewhat regular and about ten minutes apart. Jesica, was very concerned that her baby would be distracting to me during labor (even though I told her I didn’t mind her being there) so she took her home and said she would return soon. After a while my contractions slowed down which was very frustrating since I really wanted to have this baby. The doulas just kept reminding me that the baby would come when it was ready and that I needed to relax and take a walk. So my husband and I took a walk.
When we returned I told my husband to go take a nap because I knew that I would need him to be well rested when the labor started to progress. Then the doulas taught me how to play an Argentine version of Gin Rummy while the contractions started picking back up :). They were increasingly painful.
Romina and Laura would massage my back with sage oil during each one, relieving much of the pain. By this time it was evening and Jesica had been back a couple of times to check on me. I had been sitting on the toilet backwards and on the birthing ball as well. When my husband woke up, after building me a fire (August is winter in Argentina) he insisted that I get off of the birthing ball and walk up and down the stairs to get the baby moving despite the pain because, as he said, “that’s what Dr. Cindy would tell you to do.” (After Dr. Cindy had me walk the stairs twice during my first birth, my daughter finally started to progress). I walked the stairs a few times and then requested the bathtub because the pain was becoming so intense. The bath was AMAZING and gave me a much needed break. After a while though, the comfort of the hot water started to wear off and I had to move on to another pain relieving technique, while staying in the water, which was singing (if you want to call it that It was more like the sound whales make. I made the same crazy sound during my daughter’s birth and it’s like my body remembered just what to do to help relieve some of the pain. Around 11pm the midwife returned to check me. I was 6 cm dilated and she told everyone that she was going home to check on her baby but that she would be back in half an hour. My husband told her that with my first birth I went from a 6 to a 10 very quickly. He told her that she might not want to leave. She said, “oh no, we have time.”
Well, she didn’t return half an hour later. She didn’t even return three and a half hours later. Like I said, they like to take their time down here. The doulas were getting very anxious for her to return, texting her every few minutes without any response. I had no idea at the time what was going on. I was very focused on my contractions and as long as SOMEONE was rubbing my back and holding my hand during them I didn’t really care who was there.
Here’s where it gets a little graphic so I apologize :)… Laura had been trying to get me to have a BM for a few hours. I had tried on the toilet earlier and nothing happened. Now I had been in the bath for several hours and she again reminded me that I probably needed to have a BM. I think I knew if I pushed out a BM I wouldn’t be able to hold the baby in and I didn’t think it was time to push but… I did as I was told and out came the BM and with the same push the baby crowned! I was on my hands and knees and my husband was holding me up from the side of the tub as I exhaled underwater before letting out the loudest scream ever during my next contraction and Whoala! Our son, Sebastian Gabriel, was born! With one push!
All the pain was gone and I was holding this amazing new life in my arms! Sebastian immediately latched on and started nursing (and hasn’t stopped yet!) Laura, who caught my baby, was thrilled but scared to say the least. In school she was trained never to catch the babies, that is the midwife’s job, but where was the midwife? She arrived just in time to deliver the placenta, a few minutes after Laura and Romina had gotten us out of the tub, bundled up and onto an impromptu pallet of towels on the floor. I couldn’t believe it when she told me I did not tear at all! I thought surely, after pushing Sebastian out so quickly I would have torn. I think sitting in the warm bath for several hours probably helped. I think Jesica was having some postpartum issues, getting adjusted to being a new mom and being away from her baby. Praise God for those doulas! And Praise God Sebastian came out without a hitch, perfectly healthy, without the slightest complication!
There’s nothing like climbing into clean sheets by a fire with a new baby just minutes old :). What sweet sleep! Below is the birth announcement my witty husband sent out.
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Hello friends and family,
Thank you for your well-wishes and congratulations. For those we have not yet contacted, our son, Sebastian Gabriel, was born at (around) 3:00am on Friday, August 6th. He was (around) 7 pounds, 7 ounces, and (around) 20 inches. The exact time/measurements will forever remain a mystery, as will the location of our midwife, who was not actually present for the birth (long story), although she had been present throughout the day.
Like Mariana, Sebastian was born in the warm surroundings of our home (in Argentina), with a fire burning in the hearth and in Kate’s lower back. We hired two doulas, Laura (25) and Romina (31). They had each given birth at home. The responsibility of the doula is to massage, assist, and to be a loving companion to Kate through the birthing experience. It is hard to imagine two women more ideally suited for this task. They remained with Kate for 24 straight hours, from the early morning contractions (which lasted for about 6 hours), through the lull in the day (when Kate played cards and rested), and into active labor (the final 7 hours). We had come to know them quite well prior to the birth, as they frequently visited our house with their young daughters.
By 11:30pm, Kate was 6 cm dilated and in a great deal of motherly pain. We drew a warm bath for her, where she would labor for the next three and half hours through contractions roughly one minute apart. By 2:30am, right around the time I returned from the pub (just kidding), Kate began showing the signs of an imminent milagro (miracle). At 2:58am, Kate screamed, the baby crowned, Kate screamed again, and Sebastian was born. It wasn’t exactly a water birth because Sebastian never touched the water (Kate was on her knees in a tub that was half-full, and I was holding her). Laura caught Sebastian mid-air, swung him to Kate’s chest, and I immediately assisted them both to warmth and dry land. It was not how we drew it up, to say the least. Then the midwife arrived in time to deliver the placenta (uh, muchas gracias!).
…and that is how we met Sebastian.
It’s time to visit your local pumpkin patch, take a hayride, jump in a huge pile of raked leaves and then head indoors for creamed onions.
Why creamed onions? Because it happens to be the favorite holiday food of the seventeenth commenter and winner, Latisha! Congratulations!!!
If you didn’t win why not visit Stitch Tac Sew and order something for your little one? I mean, seriously, check out this ADORABLE pumpkin hat! Micah got his very own this week to wear at the pumpkin patch! Thanks, Nikki!
Speaking of squishy little bundles of cuteness, can you tell me who:
Because if you can’t, you’ve got some catching up to do! These are just a few of the many wonderful stories shared by strong, beautiful mothers on yesterday’s linkup. I’m still working through them all, but so far they are incredible! Check them out!Read More »
Steam is rising from my favorite red mug. The day is clear . . . no commitments, errands to run, or phone calls to make. It’s just me, my babies and your stories.
My children’s births weren’t that dramatic, but I still managed to have a lot to say about them (here, here, here, here and here) and I’m sure you do, too. It’s time press “Publish” and get this party started!
Simply sign up with Mr. Linky below using the URL to your specific birth story post (and not to your blog homepage…this will help find your post without having to search your blog for it).
It would also be SUPER-NICE if you would link to this post from your blog so your friends can share in the fun, but it’s not a requirement ; – )Read More »