I’m at that Stage


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Something has shifted recently. Everywhere I look marriages are rocky, hanging on by a thread or have already taken a nosedive off a cliff. Then I remember that I’m 35. And most of the people I know have been married as long as I have, or longer.

If I’m not hearing about divorce, it’s separation, or infidelity. Every time I hear about another marriage falling apart it shakes me to my core. I have a fleeting moment when I think: but we’re solid, we have a strong foundation, we’re going to make it. But I believe we all have those feelings about our marriages, until we begin to doubt them.

I had no idea how hard marriage could be. Our two personalities, sometimes like oil and water coexisting in the same home. Sometimes clashing together, sometimes melting like butter. But always constant, and never questioned.

Then children come along. And they need you. Your protection, your love, your energy, your everything. How can a marriage not suffer just a little bit under all this pressure and exhaustion?

I know I have lost myself in these roles of wife and mother. When I have a day to myself, I often can’t remember what I like doing. What Cristina likes doing.  I have to think about it for a bit, and then a list of things come to mind: reading, watching a move in the theater alone, eating all-day breakfast in a restaurant – near the window with a good book, getting my hair done, shopping, writing, sitting by the lake and listening to the waves…

I don’t have enough of these days to fill my bucket. I need more of them. I feel like there are only breadcrumbs left of me sometimes, and I want to make a whole loaf of bread with them, but how?

This shit is hard. But it’s also required. All these stages in life are needed to shape me. One day I will look back on this version of myself and want to reach out and hug me. Because I’ll recognize how raw and used up I was. I’ll want to say: I’m so proud of you. You did it. You bloomed.

And then I think of my husband. And how he must feel at this stage. He listens to me complain all the time. He works so hard. For the past five years it was only him working, supporting our family. I think about all that pressure. And then coming home to me, who hasn’t spoken to a grown up all day and I just start talking and won’t stop… and the kids miss him and jump all over him… the two of us, just needing a friggin’ break from all this chaos for just a minute!

This stage is hard. I can understand why some marriages can’t withstand the pressure, and crack.  I can understand how spouses can feel used up and exhausted and have nothing left. But I also feel like we need to hold ourselves accountable for the promise we made to each other.

We need to speak up when we’re suffering, I don’t mean complain, I mean have an honest conversation with your spouse about the pressure. And listen to them too, cause they’re just as thinned out as you are. Just hear each other, and be sympathetic. The worst thing you can do is shut down, or be selfish and only take care of your own needs. Because the moment you said “I do” you became a team – and it should always be the two of you facing the exhaustion, pressure, worry, needy kids, overwhelming tasks together.

I could go on writing, but I’m not a therapist. I’m just a woman who is figuring her shit out and sharing it with you.

My only piece of advice here is to take care of yourself – this is the advice I suck at taking myself by the way so I kinda hate that I’m giving it. Ask for time alone. Offer each other time away. And ask for help with the kids, AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE, so you both can have time together without the pressure of everyday life.

Who’s at the next stage? With preteens or teens who have calendars filled with activities and attitudes that can sting… how do you keep your shit together and your marriage strong?

I Don’t Have the Wheel


Scream

On the days I have my shit together, I really kick ass. I get my workout in, eat healthy, connect with my kids. It’s the version of myself I always want to be. But she doesn’t stick around for long. Anyone relate to this?
It takes one bad night of sleep when one of the kids is up a few times to derail me. The next day I’m exhausted, crave nothing but carbs and allow myself to “have a day”. That’s all it takes. The permission I give myself to stop trying so hard pushes me into full sabotage: may as well just enjoy this day, I’ll get back on track tomorrow.
Next day: may as well rid my cupboard of all this bread and junk food today and start fresh on Monday; I’ll shop for veggies and really healthy choices.
Two weeks later: May as well just accept these rolls and love them because I’m never gonna have the body I had in my twenties.
During this time all the sugar and starch I am binging on is creating brain fog and impacting my hormones. Sending my anxiety through the roof. I’m angry. I’m resentful. I’m sad. I’m in a rut. I feel trapped. I feel annoyed. I feel like a bad mom. I feel like a burden. And the cycle continues.
All this isn’t only caused by food, I’ve had anxiety and depression all my life. But usually they’re just a grey cloud that I monitor in the rearview mirror as I navigate through my life.
But when I stop taking care of myself the clouds turn black and engulf me like smoke; making it hard to see, to breath, to distinguish truth from reality. Making it easy to believe all my negative thoughts as the truth. Making it so hard to get out of my head.
It’s such a slippery slope. I’ve been on this ride for years. Sometimes I have the wheel, most times I don’t. Most days all I can do is wake up and brace myself for the ride. But I will continue to get on every day. Because some days I wake up and have my shit together – and those days feel amazing.

Bumpkin Reusable Snacks Bags are My New BFF


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I am currently obsessed with these Bumpkins Reusable Snack Bags! Waterproof, washable and absolutely adorable, they now replace my endless use of ziploc bags for carrying my kids’ snacks around in my bag.

They come in a bunch of cute designs including firetrucks, Dr. Seuss, dinosaurs and more. My kids love unzipping them and indulging in their snacks. And not only am I saving myself from a car full of little baggies, it’s way better for the environment too.

More info:

  • They’re labtested food safe 
  • Zipper closure
  • These ones measure 7″W x 3.5″H but there are other sizes!
  • BPA, PVC, Vinyl, Phthalate and Lead free
  • Machine washable & dishwasher-safe (top rack) 
  • Sold in single or multiple packs!

Bumpkins Reusable Snack Bags are the BEST for school snacks too. Tupperware can take up space so these are a great alternative. I highly recommend these adorable snack bags for daily use or even back-to-school gifting!

10 Random Things I’d Tell My Twenty-Year-Old Self


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  1. Stop saying “I’m sooooooooo tired.” There are new mothers who hear you and may punch you in the face.
  2. Don’t take life so seriously. Have more fun.
  3. After you have your second kid, your waistline increases an inch the second you look at a cookie, so eat them now! Dooooo it!
  4. If you think you compare yourself to other women a lot now, just wait till you become a mother – you’ll do it a few hundred times a day. We gotta figure out how to stop this, it’s a bad cycle.
  5. Stop dieting. Just get in the habit of walking or running daily – it’s the only way.
  6. Stop looking at moms with their kids having tantrums and thinking: “I will never let my kid behave that way in public, EVER, period.” Because my darling, you can’t control a toddler’s emotions. So stop judging and start saving some money for therapy.
  7. Let go. Learn to let go of things you can’t control now. It’ll make you better at not sweating the small stuff as a new mom.
  8. Stop shaking your head at your sister-in-law, Lynette and wondering why she’s so moody after having your niece Adele. You’ll experience the wrath of hormones at war inside your body one day. And that’s when you’ll suddenly love her so much more.
  9. Baby wipes take that mascara off better than those Oil of Olay cloths you spend so much money on. You’re hilarious.
  10. Stop saying “I’m bored.” Be happy that you currently have nothing to do and enjoy staring at a wall while listening to nothing.

I Hate You, Parenting Articles


parentiung

I read parenting advice from all different perspectives. And with each paragraph I read I shake my head and realize I’ve been doing it all wrong. At the end of the article I’m convinced that one of my children may turn out to be a serial killer. Who knows, maybe both will.

Why are there so many methods? How do I know which one will work?I believe that  all these different theories were written by people who think their own parents did it wrong. After years of trying to fix themselves they believe they’ve come up with the right way to raise a child.

I want to know how their children turned out…or better yet if they even have children. And if their children did happen to turn out to be brain surgeons or violinists or CEO’s of big companies – I’d like to know what these successful people really feel about their childhoods and how their parents raised them. I wonder if they gave me the password to their computer if I’d find a file with 52 pages of a book they’re writing about parenting and how to do it right.

I hate how these articles make me feel. I hate that I’ll always feel inadequate even when I’m doing an okay job. I hate that I question everything:

  • Did that three-day potty training week from hell scar him?
  • Is he going to marry a bitchy woman because I yell at least twice a day and he’ll find bitchy women to be comforting and familiar?
  • Will he develop a tick when he sees blueberries because of that morning we had a power struggle over eating two more blueberries before he was allowed to leave the table?
  • Will he be behind in kindergarten because he’s home with me and not in daycare like many other toddlers? He can only count to 14 and not 31, maybe I should put him in preschool twice a week.
  • Will he develop OCD because I try to pick those boogers out of his nose every chance I get?
  • If I ignore this tantrum right now will he grow up to be resentful and angry because I’m not validating his feelings?

No matter what I do I’m questioning myself, doubting every decision I make. And as if my own fears aren’t enough I read parenting articles that confirm them. The articles make it official – I’m doing it wrong. Well guess what parenting articles?

 

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Have a nice day 🙂

 

Unleashing My Inner Hulk


When Jacob whines, I want to grab a chair and throw it through the window. When he has a tantrum, I want to have my own tantrum too. I want to stomp and shout and cry and shriek and smack my head against the wall.

I never knew that I could feel such turmoil and violence inside of me. I feel like any second I’ll morph into The Hulk and start throwing furniture around the room. But while all these feelings are building up inside of me and my blood is reaching a hot, scolding boiling point, this is how I look:

internally screaming

I look patient and kind and understanding. Somewhere on my skull there is a throbbing, pulsing vein as I contain these feelings. They are pushed down into my gut for the time being. But they get their chance to be unleashed at the right moment. Whether it’s when I’m alone in my room and I scream into the pillow, cry while I’m showering, sob as I tell my husband about how horrible our two year old treated me today, kick the stuffed animal that’s in my path, scrub hardened food off a plate with way more pressure than needed…

There are many opportunities for me to unleash. And I never let one pass me by. Having my own little fifteen-second tantrums, while alone and out of earshot from my children, are what let me remain calm and collected during my toddler’s tantrums. I’m able to stay in a logical frame of mind – remembering that Jacob is only two and has yet to learn to control his emotions. I can stay calm and guide him through his frustration and anger, rather than react to it with my own yelling and screaming.

I also tell any moms who listen about how tantrums make me feel like my head will explode. I think it’s good for us to share these stories. It makes me feel less crazy when I know a fellow mom cries in the shower too. And better yet, I learn new unleashing techniques!

What are some of the ways you unleash after a day of listening to tantrums and whining? Let’s all help each other stay sane.  

20 Questions


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“Mamma?”

“Yes Jacob?”

“Can I wash the ants?”

“No honey. They’ll drown.”

“But they need a bath, Mamma.”

“Ants don’t have baths.”

“But how they get clean, Mamma?”

“They don’t, I guess. Ants just stay dirty.”

Jacob’s vocabulary is pretty extensive for a two year old. It’s one of the many reasons I’m a proud mommy – and also one of the reasons he exhausts me. I wish I had the time to document all the questions he asks me throughout the day. Some of them really stump me.

Lately I’ve been consumed with our one-month old Joshua. But now that he’s settled in and I’m able to get a routine going, spending more time with Jacob is getting easier. I can really see just how much he’s grown in the short time that Joshua has been home. I can see the little wheels turning in his mind as he becomes more aware of the world around him.

He’s always been a curious toddler, but now that he has the vocabulary to support his curiosity the questions never stop…and some of the are hilarious:

1) “The sky is grey Mamma! A storm is coming?”

2) “Is it Christmas?!!!???!!!” (Said when we had a small blizzard in April)

3) “Is the spider sleeping?”

4) “Is Pepper feeling sad?” (Said when our cat Pepper was stir crazy during winter)

5) “Can I see Joshua’s poo?”

6) “The ants live under the rock?”

7) “Are my feets too big for my boots, Mamma?”

8) “Is the puddle too deep?”

9) “Is the duck flying home?”

10) “Can the plane come down here now, Mamma?”

11) “Where does the bird live?”

12) “Where does the spider live?”

13) “What’s that?”

14) “What’s its name?”

15) “What’s that noise?”

16) “Your hair too long, Mamma. You cut it now?”

17) “You feeling grumpy, Mamma?”

18) “What’s a turtle say?”

19) “Is the zebra a horse?”

20) “Is Jacob just a baby?” (Said on Day #2 of Joshua coming home. And yes, you’ll always be Mamma’s baby)

Ever get stumped by your toddler’s questions? What cute things do they ask you?

 

Second Baby Boy = Second Chances


Joshua Edward Cole has arrived on March 24th! He is the EXACT opposite of Big Brother Jacob so far. At this stage with Jacob, I was asking my husband if the hospital would let me return my colicky son to them. I know, it sounds horrible for a mother to say that. But I was a first-time mom with a newborn who screamed and nursed. There were no two hour lulls like with Joshua.

At Joshua’s 48 hour appointment, I asked the doctor if he was ill. She asked me why I thought that and I told her that all he does is eat and sleep; maybe he had jaundice if he was so lethargic. She giggled at me and mentioned that Joshua was doing exactly what newborns are supposed to do.

I had it in my head my entire pregnancy that I was heading into a storm – a newborn (which I assumed would nurse and scream like Jacob did) and an active 2 year old. I have a vivid imagination so instead of getting excited about our new addition on the way, this is more along the lines of what I pictured:

Image by Heath Robbins
Image by Heath Robbins

It feels like God has sent me a little miracle. Maybe with a note that says:

“I owe ya one, Kid. Here’s a little baby boy who will be a sweet newborn. Now go on, fall in love with being a Mommy. I know the first time around those moments passed you by in the chaos.”

They did. I can’t recall moments with Jacob when I was able to sit down quietly with my chin on his soft little head and breath in his beautiful scent. I’m not saying they didn’t happen, I just can’t bring those memories to the surface. I was so busy being anxious about what would happen next and when the screaming would start that I couldn’t live in the moment.

Joshua is my second chance at falling in love. And I’m taking all the little moments in… because they’re already almost gone. He’ll be one month soon, then before I know it he’ll be a toddler, running away from me giggling, and after that, closing his bedroom door in my face so he can have privacy.

I sit here and try so hard to etch these sweet moments in my mind, I hope they never fade. I hope I can bring them to the surface when I need to and relive them. Until I need to do that though, I’m going to live in these moments right now and be thankful that God has blessed me with another little boy to raise.

THREE Ways This Pregnancy Is Different from the First


In case my 700+ blog followers don’t know yet, we’re PREGNANT! Before you read on, just know that I AM excited about it. The following post is just about my pregnancy this time around…and how it’s not as awesome as the first one.

Napping is Hard

When I was pregnant with Jacob and I was tired I simply got comfortable and drifted off into a nice little piece of heaven. This time around, I’m lucky if I can close my eyes for a few minutes without a matchbox car being driven over my forehead.

I Don’t Feel Like a Million Bucks

Just like my first pregnancy my skin looks great, my hair is thick and I have a nice glow. Sounds soooo terrible, right? Ha! Well during my first pregnancy I had time to pamper myself. So my nice skin could be moisturized, and I could put makeup on to accent my cheekbones and eyes. And I could style my hair into a fun messy bun, or large beachy waves.

Now I’m lucky to put chapstick on and my hair gets thrown into a ponytail. I’m too tired to try looking nice. And on the days that I want to put the effort in, my two year old decides he wants to put makeup on like mommy, and I have a bigger mess to clean.

My outfits are a joke. Track pants and sweaters are my go-to items. Fast and comfortable. In a nutshell it’s hard to feel like a million bucks these days.

I’m Not as Giddy as the First Time

Maybe it’s because I know what’s coming. Oh my, that sounds so foreboding! I don’t mean that I’m not looking forward to having a precious newborn arrive, I’m referring to the Dark Days that are the first 6 weeks post partum.

With my first pregnancy I had NO idea what to expect. I thought it would be like playing house. What a rude awakening I had. Being a first time mom was HARD! So I just feel a little overwhelmed about how much my new bundle of joy will need me, as well as how much my toddler will need me as this BIG change happens.

BUT!! This time around at least I know that it passes! I can remind myself that it’ll go by in a haze but that things WILL get better. And although it’ll feel like there is no end in sight, I will KNOW that there is because I’ve done it before and it MUST have been worth it if I’m doing it again.

How did you feel during your second pregnancy? Any tips on ways to lift myself up a bit?

NOW I Get It!


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Photo source

There were a couple of things people would say to me over and over again during my pregnancy and after Jacob was born. At first, I took these phrases with a grain of salt and shrugged them off. But soon, I preferred to shovel a spoonful of salt into my mouth rather than hear yet another piece of advice.

Enjoy your sleep now!

I was so sleep deprived from discomfort. I had to accommodate this massive watermelon at my midriff, get up to pee three times, prop myself up to avoid acid reflux, and it was always so darn hot! My blood would boil when people would tell me to stock up on sleep.

And of course, just a few days after Jacob was born I understood what they all meant. Waking up because of my own discomfort seemed like a luxury compared to waking up to the shrieking cry of Jacob…who needed me, no matter how run down I was.

Enjoy these moments, they fly by.

I refer to the first month of being a new mother as “The Dark Days.” I was exhausted, terrified, lost and desperate. And Jacob pretty much cried the whole first month. Of course, when visitors would come by he was a sleeping angel. So as they held my sleeping son, they’d tell me how precious this first little while was. I’d nod and smile, but really I was wishing he was in college already. I was too tired to understand how today, right now, I would give anything for those tender moments with him as a newborn.

Now that he’s walking running he doesn’t want to cuddle. He is never still and quiet; content to be in my arms. I totally get it now. So when he does feel affectionate, I drop whatever I am doing and run to him.

What are some of the things people say to you that drive you bonkers?