New Moms: How to Drink More Water

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With the combination of having baby #2 and being 35 years old, I’m finding it harder to lose the baby weight this time around. Everywhere you look there are weight loss scams and pills, but I don’t want to lose the weight in an unhealthy way. There has always been one thing the health nuts have tried to beat into our brains, though, and that is to drink more water.

While I find the recommended 64-ounces of water to be a little impossible (seriously, I’m pretty sure I would float away), I do accept that I need to drink more than 2 glasses (on a good day). Being a mom usually means forgetting your own needs. Over and over again. How many times have you made it to 2pm and realized that you haven’t eaten all day? Or had anything to drink? Especially when our little ones are infants, we’re just trying to get them through the day and fit a little sleep in there for ourselves. Brushing our teeth and showering means it was a successful day. Am I right?

So, I thought about a simple solution to get myself to drink more water and I think it could help for the other new moms as well. If you’re not a new mom, I still think you could use this trick, however you’ll have to find another trigger. I have a possible example at the end of this post.

Here’s my idea:

Every time the baby has his/her bottle, pour an 8-ounce glass of water for yourself. Make your goal to have it finished before the baby’s next bottle. If you’re breastfeeding, a) you need more water to begin with, and b) make it a 6-ounce glass because your baby is probably feeding every 2 hours instead of every 3.

My son usually drinks 6-7 bottles per day. This adds up to between 48 and 56 ounces of water. BF moms, you should get about the same amount if your little one is feeding every 2 hours throughout the day and can go for a 4-hour stretch at night.

No, it’s not the recommended 64-ounces, but it’s pretty darn close. And if it helps me to lose a couple of those pesky pounds that are hanging on for dear life, it’s definitely worth a shot.

For those 9-5ers out there, what about drinking a glass:

-when you wake up (6am?)

-before you leave the house (8:30am)

-before lunch (11:30am)

-in the middle of the afternoon blahs (2:30pm)

-when you get home from work (5:30pm)

-after you get the kids in bed (8:30pm).

There’s your 6 glasses. If you can fit in one or two more, great. If you can’t, at least you did that much.

I can’t guarantee this is going to help me lose the weight, but I’m willing to give it a shot. I have one month before I go back to work. And it’s going to fly by. I’d like to be back in shape before I go back. It’s a lofty goal, I know, but not unattainable. And if I can get in the habit of drinking more water before then, I can figure out a way to continue the habit after.

Good luck to you and let me know if this plan works for you.

The Scare

 

Sunday started just like any other day. My husband has been picking up a ton of overtime lately to try and get us ahead and save for the new house we so desperately need for our growing family. I’m exhausted from being home with the baby and waking up all through the night. We were arguing because of my exhaustion and lack of patience, and then he went to work. Again. I went about my afternoon, taking care of Little E, straightening up the house, etc. At one point I went to readjust my left boob in my bra (like all women do at some point during their day), and that’s when my life as I knew it came to a screeching halt.

I felt a lump.

Let me give you a minute to let that sink in. A lump. And not a small one. This sucker is about 3cm x 3cm.

Suddenly, our petty fight was put into perspective. A little lost sleep was the least of my worries.

This is what all women fear their entire lives. And while I don’t have a history of breast cancer in my family, I did not (and do not) take this discovery lightly. I cried. A lot. Feeding my almost 6-week old baby and crying over his poor little face while I imagined all the things I might not get to do with him. Praying that I would be there to see him grow up, get married, have children…

I imagined all of the worst case scenarios possible. A double mastectomy, radiation, losing my hair, withering away to nothing while my husband looked on, helpless. I imagined things progressing quickly and him having to raise our son alone. And what would happen to my daughter? Would he get visitation for her if she went to live with her father? Would my husband ever see her again? Would she know her brother at all? I’m crying as I type these words because I’m imagining it all over again and it destroys me.

T worked a double that night so we didn’t fix our fight that day. Monday, I went for a walk with Little E and a dear friend just to get out of the house. I didn’t mention my discovery at all. I got home after T had already left for work – another opportunity to talk about it gone. Late that night he told me he was working another double. I told him we needed to talk. He thought it was about the fight. I had to tell my husband via text message what I had found because I couldn’t hold it in anymore. He said all the right things (just like he always does) and switched his shift for the following day so that he could accompany me to my 6-week postpartum checkup, where I would relay my findings to my doctor.

The next day, we went and he held my hand. I told my doctor about the lump, he checked it, and scheduled an ultrasound for two days later. It was one of the longest waits of my life.

Yesterday I went to the hospital bracing myself for the worst news possible. First, they took me back for a mammogram. (It’s just as bad as every woman says it is. I promise.) The only consolation was that I would know something before I left the hospital. The tech took pictures of both breasts, just in case, and then I was able to put my hospital gown back on and wait for the ultrasound. When it was finally my turn, I walked back unsure of what they would discover. The ultrasound tech took her pictures and the first thing she said to me about it was, “That looks like a lymph node.” My heart dropped. Once cancer gets to the lymph nodes it spreads like wildfire. Finally, the exam was complete and everything was sent to the radiologist.

As I waited in that room for her to come back, my mind wandered again to my husband and son patiently waiting for me. I can honestly say this was one of the scariest weeks of my life.

Turns out it’s just a cyst. Nothing to be concerned about and probably brought on by all the hormones from just having a baby. I got really lucky. This time.

You hear all the time that tomorrow isn’t promised. You agree, like the post on Facebook, maybe even share it, and then you don’t think about how fragile life is again until you’re presented with your own scare. This was my wake up call. My “live for today and make the most of it”, “appreciate everything you have because it could all be gone tomorrow” moment. And it worked. It scared the ever loving sh*t out of me. But I’m gonna hold my baby a little tighter today, hug my husband a little longer, and smile a little more because this time I do have tomorrow.

Getting Back to Me

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Tuesday will mark 6 weeks since Little E officially joined our family. And I can honestly can these past few weeks have flown by. Maybe that’s because each day is a blur of bottles, diapers, and a lack of sleep. Maybe it’s because I’m still on leave from work and Peanut is out of school so there’s really no reason to keep track of the days. Either way, in regards to losing the baby weight, what started out as “Mother Nature really blessed me” has quickly turned into, “Nope, I’m the same as everyone else; I’m gonna have to work for it.”

After I became a mom initially, my body was different. I went back to my pre-baby weight, I looked roughly the same, but my jeans didn’t fit anymore. Something had shifted and I couldn’t quite place what. Also, the weight at which I felt I looked healthy changed. What used to be my normal now made me look emaciated. I found I felt better 10lbs heavier than what had been my target weight. Maybe that had to do with being a mom, maybe it was just from being older and my comfort zone changing. I’m not sure. This time around, I don’t expect to be happier 10lbs heavier, but I’m not going to focus on a number.

See, I say baby weight, but honestly, I could care less what the scale says. I just want to get toned and feel better when I look in the mirror. I’m not going to starve myself in the process, and I’m not going to beat myself up to get there. But I’ve always been in pretty good shape and this flabby feeling is not something I enjoy. After my first baby, I bounced back fairly quickly, but I was also alone and no one saw me naked so there was no pressure to look any certain way. Also, it was fall and sweater weather is perfect for hiding that leftover baby pooch. This time, it’s summer. Bathing suit season. And while I have no misgivings about getting back the 6-pack I had in my 20s, I would eventually like to look good when my husband sees me naked and not have this flabby mid-30s mom body.

Conveniently enough, I had an invite to do a 30-day workout challenge on my Facebook feed. So, I’m going for it. I bought fresh fruit and an Oster MyBlend personal blender yesterday (the Cartwheel app had a 30% off offer), I signed up for the 30-day challenge, and my plan is to look and feel better about myself by my birthday next month. Also, my sister-in-law (and fellow new mom) is going to start walking with me so we can lose our baby weight together.

So, here’s to trying to present the best me possible, to hopefully getting to a better place mentally about my body, and to turning 35 – because no matter what shape my body is in, I’m pretty impressed with all it’s done for me so far.

 

Delusions of Productivity

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(He’s mocking me with that grin. I know he is.)

It’s true that you forget the first few months of parenthood. I’m a second-time mom but there’s 6 1/2 years between my kids. Honestly, I forgot pretty much all of it.

I forgot that even though the baby eats every 3 hours that doesn’t mean you have 3 hours to be productive until the next feeding. It takes at least 30-45 (2:30-2:15 hours left) minutes for the feeding and to change the baby. Then you have to get him back to sleep. There goes another 20-30 (2-1:45 left) minutes of your 3-hour span. We’re down to

Did I mention making the bottle, cleaning all the dirty bottles hanging out next to your sink, doing/folding laundry, showering, going to the bathroom, etc? Those things all cut into your 3 hours as well. Not to mention trying to fit whatever broken sleep you can in there somewhere.

But again, I forgot about all of that. Somewhere in my delusional mind I thought I was going to have all this time to write this blog, find and execute a job working from home to supplement my income, and still go have lunch with real adult people. And this time I’m supposed to do it all while entertaining a 6-year old on her summer vacation. Hahahahahaha!

Over the past month I have found time to have lunch with friends a couple of times. I’ve even managed to get on a schedule where my house does not look like a disaster zone. I’ve gone on Pinterest a couple times to look through my “extra income” board for a side job, but as soon as I start reading an article or making any headway I am jolted back into reality either by the cries of my infant or the never ceasing, “Hey, Mom!”

I keep telling myself that once the baby is sleeping through the night I will be productive again. I’ll be a good mom, start writing in this blog more, get a side job and do well at it, go back to work at the casino, and still maintain my somewhat presentable home. Part of me believes it. The realistic part looks at my 3-month old nephew who is sleeping through the night but only takes one nap per day and laughs hysterically at that other part of me.

Only time will tell, but I’m pretty sure the realistic side is gonna be saying, “I told ya so” about a month from now.

Take Us As We Are

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Okay, no, that’s not what my house looks like right now, but I feel like it does. And to be honest, I don’t care. As many of you now know, we have a new baby in the house and I’m recovering from a C-section. This means we also have visitors on an almost daily basis. To those visitors, this is what I have to say:

You are welcome here whenever you’d like. Please feel free to stop by and see the little man. We have plenty of food and drinks, we are almost always home lately, and we would love to see you. Just call first and let us know you’re coming so that you’re not overlapping with other guests.

We are happy to share Little E. We understand that the little man came into this world with a lot of people loving him and we are grateful for it. That’s why we are happy to share him with you. Yes, I expect you to wash your hands before you hold him. Other than that, I’m pretty relaxed on the subject. Most of you have your own kids. I trust you’re not going to drop mine.

Don’t judge my house. Let’s face it. I’m happy to have you over for a visit, but I’m not going to clean for you right now. There are stains on the tablecloth, papers on the counter, and blankets all over the living room. Depending on the time of day, there are also unfinished bottles next to the sink. Oh, and the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned since before I went into labor. Call ahead and let me know you’re coming. Those things aren’t going to change.

Don’t come over if your kids are sick. Use common sense here. If you have kids, you know how the game works. Your kid goes to school, gets sick from some other little walking germ, brings it home, gets your whole house sick, goes to a birthday party on the weekend, gets every kid there sick, and the cycle continues. My little guy has no immune system yet. If your kids are sick, stay home. We intend to keep him. There’s no rush for you to come see him. He’ll be a little older by the time you meet him, but hopefully he won’t be sick then. Because you stayed away. Thank you in advance.

Right now, I am thoroughly enjoying spending time with my family. Peanut had a 3-day weekend, T is off of work for as long as I need him, and I’m off until mid-August. I’m soaking in every moment of this bliss before life kicks back in and we’re all running in different directions. I welcome any of my friends and family over to share in the peaceful chaos that is our life right at this moment. Just don’t judge me based on the condition of my house.

And Then There Were Four

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First off, please let me apologize for not posting in a while. I was kind of busy giving birth. That’s right. We have a new little man in our home! Yay!! Little E is absolutely wonderful so far and worth everything it took to get him here.

See, last Tuesday started off like any other day. Peanut was at school, I had lunch plans with one of my besties for her birthday, T was sleeping in because he worked the afternoon shift that day… Nothing out of the ordinary. Until 9:36am when the first contraction hit. The next one came 9 minutes later. I texted my friend to let her know what was going on, but still thought I had plenty of time. So I jumped in the shower. Three contractions later, I was getting dressed and waking T up to let him know he should probably get ready for the hospital. The contractions were a steady 3-4 minutes by then and gaining in intensity, but I still wasn’t panicking. We had time, right? Wrong.

By the time we got to the hospital I was in so much pain. I was admitted immediately and that’s when the real fun began. Not only did I go from 5cm to 8cm in a matter of what felt like 20 minutes, the entire nursing staff in my room was panicking. Unbeknownst to us, the cord was trying to make its way into the world before my little man, so every time I pushed, his heart rate dropped. After much yelling and screaming (from both the nurses and doctors and myself yelling back at them) and no pain medication, I was wheeled back to the OR for an emergency C-section. T was forced to stay in the waiting area with very little knowledge of what was going on and our conditions.

The hospital staff did a wonderful job and Little E came into this world at 12:27pm weighing in at 6lbs 11oz and 20.5in long. He is everything our little family didn’t know we were missing and watching my family with him has made my entire being that much more worthwhile.

T is an amazing daddy. Especially considering he would never even hold a newborn up until a couple months ago. He has been so hands on and you can tell how absolutely in love he is. It’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever witnessed. He’s been wonderful with me too. Not that I had any doubts. Things are just so much different this time around than they were when I had Peanut. It’s much harder to get around after a C-section. T has been completely understanding and has been taking care of bottles, laundry, dinner, etc like a champ. We have a pretty good system so far of waking up with the baby, but that will probably change once he goes back to work. For now, I’m so grateful to have him home and to have such a loving, supportive husband.

Peanut is such a great big sister already. She’s been helping with feeding him, giving Little E his pacifier when he cries, and just helping me with all of the things I can’t do yet. She still doesn’t completely understand the depth of my incapacitation (and no, I’m not playing the invalid and letting my family do all of the work, but I am taking things easier than I normally would). I showed her my staples last night after she spent the day utterly frustrated by my lack of enthusiasm for playing outside, and she finally understood. She had no idea I was in that much pain or that I literally had 19 staples going across my belly. She also gets frustrated thinking that she’s not being a good big sister every time we correct her or when what she tries to calm the baby doesn’t work. But we’ve been talking her through everything step by step and she’s trying her best. That’s all we can ask for.

All in all, it’s been a pretty emotional week for everyone in our house. But it has been 100% worth the ride. I’ve seen sides of my family that I didn’t know existed and I have reached new depths of love. Welcome to the family, Little Man. You’re in for a crazy ride.

Thank you

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I know it’s sappy, but with this pregnancy drawing to a close I want to take this post and thank all of the people that have dealt with me over the past few months. I know there have been times when I have been down right intolerable and to the best of my knowledge I haven’t lost any friends permanently over it. So let’s start there.

To my friends, thank you for dealing with the fact that I had zero motivation to do anything during trimesters one and three. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to hang out with you. It was simply that I could not leave the comfort of my pajamas, my couch, and Netflix. Getting dressed and putting in effort to look half decent were not on my to do list for those long months. And even though I kept the house half-decent (you’re welcome, my loving, obsessive-compulsive husband), the thought of entertaining anyone at our house made me want to take a nap. Otherwise I would have invited you over to sit and watch Netflix with me. Thank you all for realizing that this was just a phase and not thinking I was abandoning you forever. I hope I was still there for you in some way if and when you needed me. Co-workers, thank you for dealing with my unbridled rage towards people in general and letting me vent my work frustrations on you. And thank you for telling me how good I still looked, even when I felt like my body resembled E.T. (which I still believe, by the way).

To my family, thank you for tolerating my mood swings and crying fits (those of you who saw them). I was far more emotional during this pregnancy than my last one. Granted, there were far more life-changing events this time around too. I married the love of my life and I lost one of the most important people in the world to me, my grandfather, along with a few other ups and downs. And while I’m so grateful I had my mom, stepdad, brother, and sister nearby this time around, it was definitely hard being away from all of my New Jersey family. There was definitely more reason to be emotional this pregnancy.

To my in-laws, thank you for welcoming me and my daughter into your family so completely, for trusting me with your son/brother’s heart, and for making us feel like we were completing the puzzle of his life. Thank you for helping out and babysitting on the days where our schedules overlapped and neither of us could switch shifts. Thank you for helping to organize our wedding and baby shower. We could not have gotten through the past few months without you.

To my mother… I could not have gotten through the past few months (who am I kidding? past few years is more accurate) without your help and guidance. You’ve supported me through motherhood, through my relationship with T and all the insecurities about taking the giant leap to move out of your home and in with him, through my wedding, and now through this pregnancy. You’ve watched my Peanut almost every weekend so that I could work and help support my family. You’ve been understanding when I worked through the night, which made me sleep all day and left me barely able to make it to your house on a Saturday to spend time with her. Not to mention the days when I felt like I had been hit by a truck and really couldn’t make the drive up. Never once did you make me feel like I was burdening you or like I was a terrible mother, even though I felt like one.

To my daughter, it’s been a rough couple of months for you, little one. I went from playing in the yard with you and running around like a maniac to having no energy at all. You’re taking on the role of big sister soon and there will be so many changes in your life. The one on one time hasn’t ended, I promise. It will just have to be planned better now. Thank you for understanding on the days where you’ve had to play by yourself in the playroom because I physically just couldn’t move. Thank you for falling asleep next to me on the couch instead of tearing the house apart when I’ve fallen asleep at 7:30 and you’re still awake. We’ve had some hiccups here and there, but we’ve talked through them and I think we’re going to be okay. I know you’re going to be the best big sister ever. Even if you can’t have your “bunk-crib” invention. Trust me, you’re going to enjoy having your own room once the baby is here and up at all hours of the night. Most of all, I’m sorry that you’ve had to bear the brunt of my mood swings and impatience. Thank you for being so understanding beyond your years. I don’t know what I did to be lucky enough to call you mine, but I’m happy I did it.

Finally, to my husband… I don’t even know where to start. You had no idea what you were getting into when we agreed to start trying for a baby. Neither of us expected for it to happen so quickly. But I wouldn’t change a thing. You have supported me through every up and down from this pregnancy. You’ve cooked when I had no appetite for anything; you’ve cleaned when all I wanted to do was lay on the couch. You’ve calmed me after my weekly emotional meltdowns and you stood by me when, early on, I started spotting and was convinced we were losing the baby. You’ve dealt with my nonexistent libido, the way I can go from happy to crying to irate in seconds, the way I always have a story to tell you right as you’re walking out the door… and you’ve done all of it in the most loving manner possible. You are my rock. And while I wouldn’t be in this position without you, I couldn’t have gotten through it without you either. Last time, I went through all of it alone. And while I knew it would have been easier to have someone who loved me by my side, I didn’t realize how much of a difference it made. I can’t wait to see your face when you look into our baby’s eyes for the first time. I can’t wait for all of the firsts that we get to share together. Most of all, I can’t wait to see you just be a dad. You’ve already done it with Peanut, but this time you get to start from the beginning and learn with the baby. I can’t wait to see what a great dad you’ll be and I have no doubt you’re going to put everything you have into being just that.

I don’t know if we’ll have another baby after this one. That discussion is still on the back burner for now. But I’m grateful to have this experience and to go through it with so many loving and supportive people by my side. It’s definitely been a trip so far. And I can’t wait for the next leg of the journey.

Taking Back My Blog

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting as frequently lately. Some of you may not care. This post is for the first group. LOL.

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I was so excited when I initially left the interview last month with the professional blogger. I was so eager to become successful at this and to follow her plan to get there. I was also very overwhelmed. Trying to get over 1000 followers on Pinterest is no small task. Especially when you can only follow about 300 people per day and only about 5-10% of those people will follow you back. That was her first step. The KEY step in me being successful. And it was taking forever.

Between that and the pressure to refine my blog, talk about one specific topic, and not veer off course, I got really stressed out. What the hell was I going to talk about? I changed my site, my focus, all of it. But then I hit a block. I completely psyched myself out of this whole blog thing. Of course that happened AFTER I signed up for the $50/month course on professional blogging. Because why would I start doubting myself before that?

What it comes down to is this: I don’t know enough about any one topic to be consistently interesting about that topic. I know varying degrees of information on tons of random topics. That’s what made me a great bartender. All the useless information just floating around up in my head. If you know me, you know how randomly my mind works. I can make the weirdest associations for people and situations out of the blue.

I can talk to you about what I know about finances and savings. I can research on the internet and on Pinterest to find articles to back up my claims and even suggest new things for you to try. But all that amounts to is me spitting out someone else’s words. That’s not creativity. That’s fraud. I can tell you my cleaning strategy for keeping a clean house. It’s not that exciting, and frankly, there are days when I say, Screw it! and don’t do anything around the house. I’m human. I can tell you all about my pregnancy and every fun and gross thing that’s happening with my body right at this moment, but do you honestly care? Only if you know me. And even then, not really.

So, I decided to take the professional’s advice, but to take it with a grain of salt. I will follow her strategy for getting followers and gaining a fan base. That seems pretty legit. But I’m also going to stay true to me and talk about whatever the hell I want to on any given day because that’s who I am. I’m all over the place. And I’m okay with that. I got into this to have fun with it, to see where it could take me, and to reach out to people… And I’m going to do it my way. I really hope you take the journey with me.

How to Just Get Through It

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The past couple of weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. From the loss of a loved one, to the exciting potential of a future career, to the usual arguments with my 6-year old, and back up to looking at our dream home, all while being 6 months pregnant… emotional is the simplest word I can use.

A week and a half ago, my grandfather passed away. While everyone in the family knew it was coming and many of us took the opportunity to travel to see him in his final days and say our goodbyes, it didn’t make the loss sting any less. There is a hole in our family that will never be replaced. The thought of never hearing his laugh again breaks my heart. He had a great laugh. I’m just lucky that baby #2 gets to have such an amazing guardian angel looking out for him/her.

Then there were the repetitious arguments with my 6-year old about brushing her teeth correctly, finishing her homework, finishing her dinner, etc. That cycle never ends. I feel like it’s preparing us for the teenage years when we fight over much bigger issues. She’s going to be my rebel child. I just know it. Hopefully the new addition is calmer like my husband and me.

On the plus side, I had a very informative meeting with a professional blogger late last week and she gave me a step by step guide to promoting my blog and getting on the right track to start making an income from it. While my goal is to hit my current income or higher by the end of the year, maternity leave is coming up fast and any income there will be helpful. I’ve also decided to revamp the website and keep track of the process that I go through in order to get to that goal. If I can stay at home with my kids while still earning a decent living doing something I love I have to try it. I’d be crazy not to.

Finally, today we went looking at a house. Not just a house. THE house. It met both of our requirements for what our dream home should have: 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a separate family room that can be turned into a playroom, on an acre of land surrounded by farm land, with a pool and a gazebo in the backyard. It even had a tree on the edge of the property that would be perfect to build a tree house in. T, who is the least impulsive person I know, was the first to suggest we put in an offer as soon as we heard there were 2 other offers being submitted on it today. Then we crunched the numbers and it wasn’t in the cards for us. While we could make it work, there are just too many variables and too many other things we need to get done before we’ll be able to buy it. If it’s already off the market by then, it wasn’t meant to be. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Now, for the million dollar question and it’s very simple solution…

When life keeps throwing you curveballs, how do you take it in stride instead of getting overwhelmed? Well, I’m not exactly an expert, and I’ve been known to get overwhelmed quite a few times, but I’m also pretty logical when it comes to these things. In my family, we always look for the funny side of a situation. That’s just how we deal.

As far as my grandfather goes, it’s cliche to say that he’s in a better place now, but he is. His quality of life had dwindled down to nothing. By default, so had my grandmother’s. She spent every day taking care of him and going above and beyond to make sure he was comfortable. She’s incredible. Now she doesn’t have to automatically decline an invitation to go out to dinner with friends, come out to western PA for a baby shower, or even miss church because she’s unsure whether Poppop will be having a good day or not. It’s the first time in 54 years that her life doesn’t revolve around him. As a newlywed, that feels earth shattering to me. But, at the same time, it has to be a little bit liberating for her. They always loved to travel and she hasn’t been able to for the past few years because of Poppop’s health. Now she can go anywhere her heart takes her. Please don’t think I’m being callous by saying this. My grandparents equally mean the world to me. I’m blessed to have had them both for as long as I have. But if I’m going to look for a silver lining in this dark cloud, it’s going to be her and the opportunities that now stand before her. I hope she’s brave enough to take them.

As for my daughter, I’m going to remind myself that I wouldn’t have the life I have if not for her. If she had not come into my life, I never would have left New Jersey, I never would have decided that I had to set a better example for her and start dating men who were worth my time instead of just taking up my time, I never would have met my husband, and I never would have appreciated him the way I do. So, let her have her phase. We’ll get through it. Hopefully unscathed and stronger for it. I’m going to take a deep breath and remember that this is the life I always dreamed of, even if it didn’t happen exactly how I planned it to.

As far as our dream home goes, I’m gonna chalk that one up to a learning experience. We now know exactly what we have to do in order to be ready to list our current home and we have a plan in place to get it done. We also have a plan to pay down some of our debt, which, in turn, would free up some of our monthly income and allow us to afford a bigger mortgage without becoming house poor. I’d much rather wait and do things the right way than rush into buying this home only to have it all flip upside down on us at the worst possible moment. What’s the point of buying your dream home if you’re not ready and you lose it to foreclosure? Or you ruin your marriage in the process fighting over money all the time? No thanks. I’ll hold off on that one.

Basically, I’m telling you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The situation you’re in right now might not be ideal, but it may be leading you towards a better scenario. Seven years ago, when I was pregnant and alone, do you think I thought it was the best place for me to be? No. But it led me to here. And I’ve never been happier, closer to my family, or had such an amazing group of friends as I do right now in my life. And I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.

How Do They Do It?

I see these moms out there who absolutely adore their children and never get angry with them. They live these perfect lives where finger paint gets all over the walls and they laugh it off with their, “Kids will be kids” mentality. They are honestly proud of each and every minuscule accomplishment. I stare at these women in awe because I will never be one of them. Ever.

When Peanut was born, I loved everything about being a mom. I didn’t mind getting up in the middle of the night. I didn’t mind that I was exhausted all the time. I was so in love with her and I loved seeing the world for the first time again through her eyes. This was my purpose in life. This was why I was here. I was made to be this beautiful creature’s mom. I didn’t care that we were broke or that I had been forced to regress in life and move back in with my mom in order to get back on my feet. Nothing mattered but her.

I saw friends that would get so frustrated with their infant or toddler because the children couldn’t verbalize what they needed. I understood, but at the same time, I didn’t. This poor little being needs you to help guide him/her to what they want. You have to teach them. And teach I did. Before she could verbalize, I looked through an American Sign Language book that I had from college and taught her words in sign. She knew what sound every animal I could think of made. She spoke clearly and in complete sentences so quickly. She was so damn smart and so ahead of herself that I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.

I went back to work the summer before she turned 3, which meant she started spending more and more time with my mother, and that’s when our disconnect started. I would wake up in the morning after closing and cleaning the bar the night before and they would just be gone. No note. No text or phone call. She would come home with shoes for days and new outfits galore. I couldn’t compete. I was just starting to get my life back together. My mom gave her undivided attention nonstop and took her on endless shopping trips while I still had other things I had to do- laundry, errands, an erratic work schedule, etc- and bills to catch up on. She started choosing Grandma over me every single time. Every. Single. Time. A part of me died inside. I gave up. I started sleeping until 2 in the afternoon. What did it matter? What was I missing? She was just going to ignore me anyway.

I know this was a childish way to react. I’m not saying I was right. I’m just being honest about what happened. I had tried to talk to my mother about backing off a little. It fell on deaf ears. And who was I to criticize anyone? Me, the single mom, living at her mom’s for free, while my mom babysat for free, trying to get back on my feet. I felt like I had no say in the matter. I was just there and I wasn’t even doing that well.

About a year later I got the job at the casino I work at now. I was working full time, but it was the overnight shift. This gave me much more time with my little girl again. I didn’t leave until bedtime. I was there for dinner and her bath, I got home just in time to get her up and ready for preschool. I was more involved again. Things were starting to get back to normal and I was starting to enjoy being a mom again. Weekends were still the same old scenario, though. I would wake up and the house would be empty. Even on days that I had made plans for us, no one would be home and I would have no idea when they would get home. Or, even better, my mom would make plans with my daughter without telling me. Then, when I already had plans for us and vetoed their plans, I became the bad guy. She still does this.

I started dating T early that fall. By Christmas we were madly in love and discussing moving in together. I told him I wanted to wait until Peanut was done with preschool that May. That gave us time to make sure this was what everyone wanted and time to do things the right way. The truth is that I would have been out of my mother’s house that spring come hell or high water. I love her dearly and I will always be grateful for everything she has done for me. Everything she still does for me. However, we had overstayed our welcome and it was ruining my relationship with my child. I needed out. We moved in that June, spent the summer solidifying our little threesome as a family, and he proposed to both of us that December. I had dropped down to part time at the casino when she started Kindergarten and from then on I have only worked weekends so that I’m home more often and more involved. I thought we were finally on the right track.

Everyone warns you about the terrible 2s. Some people warn you that the 3s are even worse. No one warns you about the psychotic 6s. Or maybe that’s just my kid. She spends 2 weekends a month with her dad, one near his home, the other near ours. The aftermath of these weekends is an entire week of trying to make her act like a human being again because she’s just been spoiled for 48 hours straight. The other 2 weekends a month are spent at my mom’s. The same thing happens. T and I spend the majority of every single week trying to reestablish control over an entitled 6-year old and we’re not the ones causing the behavior. It has strained our relationship on occasion, and it definitely puts a strain on our little family. There are only so many times you can be the bad guy before you start to give up.

Those same friends that were so frustrated with their 2-3 year olds? They have great relationships with their kids now. It feels like our roles have completely reversed. I’ve thought many times about trying to get a more traditional job, even though it would be a significant decrease in pay. I’ve gone for my real estate license and failed at making that into a business. I got certified in phlebotomy, but couldn’t find a job for the hours I was available. I’ve tried to do more with my life than just be a bartender or waitress, tried to go a more traditional route. But the truth is, once you start making the kind of money you can in a restaurant or bar, it’s hard to go back to the regular 9-5 grind. I would have to work so many more hours just to break even, which means more time away from my child.

Basically, I’m at an impasse. I’m hoping things will be better when I go out on maternity leave and I’m home all the time, but I’m also worried about my little attention seeker. If she’s not getting enough attention now when it’s one on one, what will happen when her brother or sister gets here and they need all the attention? Will the outbursts get worse? I don’t know if I can handle worse.

So, to the moms out there whose children can do no wrong, who smile at your offspring and say, “That’s okay” even though the living room looks like a bomb exploded in it, I would like to know… How the hell do you do it? How do you not get so frustrated that you yourself explode when you’ve told them 18 times to calm down and they’ve looked into your face and done the exact same thing again? How do you not freak out when you have the same fights about brushing hair, brushing teeth, putting clothes in the hamper, doing homework, etc, day in and day out for the entire school year? Because I’m at the point where I lose my cool now. I’m over the repetition. I’m over all of it. Seriously, how do you do it?