Category: Mommy Wars

Body Beautiful – Part I

Dear Moms,

In my last call to arms I asked you to take up charge in my Whatever Army and fight against expectations for perfection. I asked that you spend more time accepting each other rather than judging each other. Now, I am asking you to join me on another quest. This one won’t be so easy and it will require you to dig deep and sift through years of programming. Moms, I want you to accept yourselves. I don’t mean accept who you are. I want you to accept your “mom bod” just the way it is with scars and flaws and every inch of stretched out skin.

Mom Body Beautiful

I feel like the pressure society puts on women to lose the baby weight is ridiculous.  I had an emergency C-section after being induced with my first. I was considered high risk due to high blood pressure. We later found out the cord was around my daughter’s neck a few times. I chose a C-section for my second daughter and glad I did. When they delivered her the cord was also around her neck. I honestly go between being disgusted with my size, and feeling beautiful knowing my body was able to grow and nourish two perfect beautiful girls. –Carrie mother of two daughters ages 3.5 and 2

The term mom bod can have a negative connotation. It segregates us as something less than vs. more than. Bringing a child into this world requires we place ourselves closer to death. If only stretch marks and extra weight were the only tribulations we faced during pregnancy and labor. So many of us have experienced medical complications and traumatic births and survived. The truth is moms our bodies have power and we need to celebrate that!

Mom Body Beautiful

Suddenly, you have a body that seems foreign to you. You don’t know how to dress it. You may find that the pounds don’t come off as easily; you may have the “mom pouch” and extra stretch marks. We might not see this reflected in the media, but our bodies have done something amazing–maybe more than once. While it’s hard to embrace something that society does not deem to be perfect, in reality it IS perfect because it’s ours. The people who love us will love us for who we are not for what size the tag on our clothing says or how many stretchmarks we have. –Gizella, mother of son age 6 and daughter age 4.

Every mother’s body has a story hidden just beneath the surface of our skin. Our skin becomes the book jacket to our stories. The stretchmarks, red lines and scars on our bodies read like paragraphs of secret language that only other mothers can understand. Every pound we gain during pregnancy tells the tale of how far our bodies will go to accommodate our baby’s safety. Every stretch of skin chronicles how week after week or bodies grow to build a safe home for our babies. And, (for some) sagging breasts illustrate our bodies ability to provide nourishment to our children.

Mom Body Beautiful

As soon as I had my daughter 6 years ago, I thought about how I could get rid of the 50 pounds I put on. I want to have more children, but a cancer diagnosis soon after birth caused me to give up on that dream. There are days that I struggle and days that I’m OK. I’m proud of my body. It carried a kind, sweet soul in it for 10 months and I’m happy to see the changes in it. I struggled a lot more with the neck scar I have left from my cancer battle. It changes you. But, it strengthens you. Now, I wouldn’t give it up. –Liz, one daughter age 6.

(Liz was diagnosed with thyroid cancer only 4 months after giving birth. She cites it as the most common cancer diagnosed during pregnancy (second to breast cancer). Her doctors believe the hormones released during pregnancy caused the cancer to grow more rapidly.)

The reality is we willingly put our own lives in jeopardy so we can bring life into this world. Many of us do this more than once. By nature we have everything we need to create and sustain life inside our bodies. Yet somehow, leftover weight and sagging skin are perceived as horrible side effects that we must rid ourselves of. Instead I ask you to see the “side effects” of your pregnancy as beauty marks and medals of Honor. You would not have those marks without enduring pregnancy or child birth. Instead of viewing them as nagging reminders of the body you can no longer have, I hope you see them as souvenirs of the start of your amazing parenting journey.

Be happy in the skin your in NOW.

Now that I’m a mom, I tend to feel invisible to the world. There’s a freedom there – the freedom to stop trying to look good, the freedom to wear yoga pants and a pony tail every day. I wouldn’t say I’m more secure in my body, I’ve been insecure about my body since I knew what the word meant. I’ve spent the last 40 years being annoyed with, ashamed of, critical of and generally hard on my body. I did suffer post-partum depression and anxiety with both of my babies. I was so hard on myself during that time and felt like a failure in so many ways because I was an imperfect mom. I feel like celebrating woman’s bodies in this way helps us all be easier on ourselves, even if just for a moment. –Katy mother of two ages 8 and 4. 

Please stay tuned for Part II of Body Beautiful.

All images belong to Leyla Cadabal Photography http://leylacadabalphotography.com/. Any use of these photos without express written permission from the original photographer is prohibited. 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia and The Novice Mommy.

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Dear Moms of The World

Glasco3

This week has been incredibly eye opening. On Monday I had a lovely visit with a more seasoned mom who has raised three children, all three on their way out of the nest. I was a little on edge with two whirling littles, mostly because we are so noisy. I was worried they’d make a mess, break something or just completely melt down. Thankfully, they were complete angels! It was such a wonderful experience spending time with a mom whom I did not have to itemize my organic food choices with, or plead my case for having to formula feed babies instead of breast feeding. It was just nice to be accepted as a member of this mom community where we all work our hardest to provide the best for our kids.

Then Tuesday came and the shaming began. Articles started popping up in my Facebook news feed about the stigma of having a c-section. I was curious to know if anyone actually felt shamed for having a c-section. I had a c-section and people often ask if I did. Maybe that’s par for the twin parenting course? Maybe I am too busy to hear these kinds of reactions, or maybe I’ve just been really lucky I haven’t crossed paths with such ugliness. But, no one has ever commented on how I “took the easy way out,” or worse, “didn’t actually give birth.”

dear moms

Dear Moms of the World,

What are we doing????! Are we really that insecure about our positions as mothers that we need someone else to feel superior to? Aren’t we better than that? Aren’t we in charge of role modeling loving, caring, productive behaviors so we can raise loving, caring and productive human beings? Why are we “mean girling” potential friends and judging moms whose stories we most likely don’t even know?! Why are we freely dumping our personal opinions onto the world wide web and not sorry when it hurts? Can we all agree that every decision we make for our kids is hard? Can we all just have a giant group hug and drink a hot cup of coffee til this whole me vs. you thing blows over? I know I’d really like that.

Sincerely,

The Whatever Mom

 

 

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Things I Won’t Do For My Kids

Welcome to Week 3 of the No Frills version of The Whatever Mom! Hope you are enjoying my personal insights into this parenting gig!

Eating Utensils

 

We had the luxury of going to dinner at two different restaurants this weekend. We are lucky if we eat as a family at a restaurant two times in the same year. This was pretty exciting for all of us. I am not ashamed of the dance of joy I did when my food arrived… food I didn’t have to plan for, shop for or cook! I was even more delighted that I didn’t have to wash the dishes after our meal either. And, this happened TWO DAYS IN A ROW!! If you’re a mom you know the joy of which I speak.

You may be shocked to learn that dining with little ones is not always a relaxing experience. I have to say I am pretty proud of the way my kids behaved and we didn’t even have to bribe them! We reviewed the rules with them before entering and again once we were seated.  Hubby and I were so excited to be out among the living! (I even wore make up and left the frumpy pants at home! I was that excited!). My excitement, however, was dampened when we were seated near a woman who was clearly annoyed by my child’s enthusiasm for being out in a restaurant.

My girl wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary for a 4-year old (I was actually feeling really grateful for that!). But, nonetheless this woman is shooting me looks and glaring at me as if to send the message “do something about your kid.” At first I felt like I needed to rush in and appease this woman’s expectations for my child to be seen and not heard. I felt like I needed to apologize for her discomfort sitting near a small child. Then I realized it isn’t fair to punish my child when she really wasn’t doing anything rude, or breaking any rules.

I shared last week my kids can have terrible tantrums in public, but they can also be really good in public! No, really! I felt like we were having a good night and my kids were being charming. So, why all the scrutiny from this onlooker? Is there truly NO place for parents to go without being watched and quietly critiqued? My emotions took several twists and turns as we ate our meal and I felt the burning gaze from this woman. Here are the cliff notes of my inner monologue:

I will not apologize for who my children are. Both of my girls are talkative little story tellers full of excitement and energy. I will not expect them to stop talking because it is bothering someone else to hear them. Although most mornings I’m wishing for a pause button on their conversations while I finish my coffee. Only because they wake up like this and its hard to fain interest so early in the day. I could have shushed my child for talking too much, but it wasn’t bothering anyone else except this one person. I was raised in an environment where children were to be seen and not heard. It didn’t stop me from talking. In fact, I think that’s why I talk to every single person I meet because I was rarely allowed to share my thoughts. (And now I have all of you!). I ran through the check list of things in my head: my girls wasn’t shrieking, jumping, yelling, kicking, running or throwing things. She was just being bubbly, chatty and a little wiggly (in all fairness so was I). That’s who she is as a person. I will not ask my daughter to squelch that so someone else can feel better for the 1 hour of their life they have to sit near her.

I will not feel guilty for having spirited children. It is amazing how other people’s glares or judging stares can make us immediately feel guilty. It can make us feel like we have already failed as a parent just walking in the door. I am not entirely sure where this pressure comes from, but I often find it stopping me in my tracks. I want my children to be perceived as the beautiful little people they are. Trust me, they are NOT without faults (hence the reason this blog is not titled, Damn Right My Twins Are Better Than Yours!). My children love to be fully engaged in what’s happening around them. They will soak in all the details and discuss them and ask a ton of questions about them. They notice details like the ceiling fans are not moving and want to know why. They’ll notice every last do not smoke sign, point them out and then count them.  They notice there are two forks on the table and ask why and then rearrange them in an order they like best. It’s just who they are. Again, no one’s throwing knives or running across tables here. It can be completely exhausting to get through a meal with this intensive Q&A (I almost always finish my wine before my meal). But, my child wasn’t asking this person 1,000 questions. So what am I really feeling guilty about here?

I will not explain my children to other people so that they are more comfortable. During this trip we also met up with family. We had to skip out right after our meal to get on the road and  make the 3 hour drive back home. Oh how I wish we could have stayed longer and really soaked up the extra time with everyone. But, I could see how hard my kids worked to get through the last 2 hours in a restaurant, after they worked hard to get through the 1.5 hours at church after not getting nearly enough sleep the night before. I knew in my mother’s heart I could not push them a minute longer let alone another 2 hours of socializing. I spoke with my husband who agreed we should take this opportunity to exit. Not everyone understood why we were leaving. I really wanted to explain that I was saving them (and myself) the torture of a one hour shrieking meltdown once my kids had reached their max. I wanted to explain how Sensory Processing Disorder works; how I am the expert in my kids and I know what’s best for them. I wanted to explain that the last two years of extreme meltdowns has taught me how to recognize when my kids are going to blow. I didn’t explain anything. They just observed my kids being awesome, why can’t we just leave it at that?

On this Whatever journey of mine, I am learning to let a lot go. That includes the pressure from strangers to guide my children in a way that makes THEM comfortable. I have to spend 24/7 with these little people. I also have to make sure they grow up to be productive members of society. I can’t cave under the pressure from outsiders and adjust my parenting style according to the standards of every stranger annoyed by my kids. I have bigger things to worry about in life; like making sure my kids aren’t throwing knives and jumping over tables.

I wanted to be angry and for a second that mama bear in me started to imagine ripping this woman’s face off. But, instead of getting angry (or removing body parts) I gave her a little tip of my glass and said, Whatever!

 

I am having bumper stickers of this one made.
I am having bumper stickers of this one made.

Have you ever had a situation where you felt you wanted to defend your child to a stranger?

 

 

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Dear Lonely Mom – You are Not Alone

I had a different, fun little piece ready to share, but when I opened my Facebook page my news feed was full of posts about Robin Williams’ suicide. My heart broke. Not because Hollywood lost a great actor, but as humans we lost a great one– his kindness, compassion, wisdom and joy now gone from this earth.

Depression is a scary, unpredictable beast. There are several members of my family who live with this every single day. From seasonal affect disorder to bipolar depression to clinical depression. Not everyone who suffers from depression talks about it or even appears depressed. Many people with depression are capable of getting up every day, going to work and appearing happy and complete. No one else hears that inner voice convincing them suicide is their only option.

No one is immune- not even moms. After hearing the heartbreaking news about Mr. Williams, I thought about moms who may suffer from depression. How many moms get up every day and go through the motions of taking care of their families and leave themselves last on the list? How many moms won’t reach out for fear of judgment or losing their kids?

I often feel lonely in my mothering journey. There are few adults to speak with or to help navigate the difficult days. Being at the service of two demanding toddlers reminds me how difficult the days are compared to my carefree life before kids. All my single friends have moved away or feel they are intruding when asking to spend time with me. My mom friends are just as busy as me. When we get together there’s not much time for bonding between interruptions. Social media is great to keep in touch, but there are days I don’t have time to connect. Some days exhaustion overrides any emotion I have, and I go to bed feeling numb.

I do not have depression, but often feel uneasy about sharing with my friends the loneliness of my day. I don’t want to burden them and so I keep quiet. I wonder how many moms with depression feel the same way. Loneliness itself does not make a mom depressed, but living in a silent, lonely state for a prolonged amount of time can certainly contribute to depression.  According to an online article at OCfamily.com “Statistics show that twice as many women suffer from depression as men, and experts say moms with children at home are a particularly vulnerable group. Women ages 25 to 44 are the hardest hit with clinical depression, the years when most moms are raising their children … Just being a mother does not cause depression, says Dr. Stotland. She treats many depressed and anxious mothers who are overworked, under pressure and do too much with too little support or help with tasks such as childcare.”
“It isn’t that women want to have it all, it’s that women have to do it all. Nobody says that a man with a job and children wants to have it all,” says Dr. Stotland.”

Suffering in silence is not a safe way to live. If you think you may be depressed, have postpartum depression, or maybe you have difficulty finding joy in life please speak to your doctor right away. Please don’t worry that someone will think less of you, or that you can’t be a good mom. Taking care of your own needs is part of being a good mom. Don’t worry about what other people will think, please just worry about your own health. No one will think you’re being selfish. If they do, Whatever! They are not living your life. Most of all please don’t think suicide is your best option. It will end your pain. It will also end your joy and your tomorrows. It will leave a big whole in this world and in the lives of the people who love you. No one can replace you and the important role you have as Mom.

Dear Lonely Mom,

Please reach out.

Please call me for coffee.

I won’t judge you.

Please know you are not alone.

Love,

The Whatever Mom

robin williams suicide hotline

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

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http://www.afsp.org/ Find local resources and resources to cope with a suicide loss, and to educate yourself on the risk factors and signs of suicide.

 

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The Whatever Mom Wants You to Join the Whatever Army!

We’ve all heard the term “Mommy Wars.” It just doesn’t sound right. Moms are supposed to be peaceful role models for their children. We teach our kids not to fight, to think of other people’s feelings, and to be kind to others. I have struggled the last few months to find just the right words to sum up my thoughts on the “Mommy Wars.” Turns out I don’t need to find the right words; one picture has a thousand of them! So, why not include a whole bunch of pictures? I was inspired to create my own photo montage with local Hudson Valley moms after I read the CT Working Moms Group blog a year ago. I sent out the call to arms to all my Whatever mom friends. They eagerly jumped on board!

SAHM

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tatoo

As the project unfolded, I realized I know most of the moms pictured here personally. We all met through a Hudson Valley Moms’ Facebook group. We’ve celebrated birthdays together, brought each other meals, and have encouraged and supported each other through the trials of motherhood. There we were standing next to each other smiling and holding signs reflecting our “opposing” mom choices. This just goes to show that even though we make different choices for our families, we can still be friends and even respect each other’s personal choices. Without the different opinions and choices presented by other moms in my circle I wouldn’t know I have options in my parenting.

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Twin moms

Hudson moms

Crunchy mom

I admit I am still a little confused as to why we even have a war going on. My mom world does not come to a screeching halt when a mom decides to feed her kid formula or non-organic potatoes or even McDonald’s for dinner. I don’t even feel a slight shift in the wind when a mom uses 409 to clean her floors. And, I’m quite sure that if a mom falls at the playground and no one is around to hear her she still swears like a trucker (oh wait, that’s probably just me).

Tech rox edit

Formula fed

birth edit

Gay edit

Food edit

Most people hear Mommy wars and picture this:

Mom life edit

I hear Mommy wars and picture this:

Glasco3

I am convinced that not once has a Harvard grad mentioned in their acceptance speech their gratitude for their mother keeping a meticulous house; making perfect dinners and throwing over the top birthday parties; nor cited those exact reasons for all their success. I am also convinced that if at the end of the day you have kept your kid safe and alive, you’ve pretty much done your job. We all bear the same burden of motherhood. By burden I mean the labels (fun mom, mean mom, Pintrest mom) and the judgments (spoils her child, doesn’t discipline, too strict). No matter what our style of mothering is, we have all run the same course: stomach bugs, sleepless nights and feelings of self-doubt. All of these quintessential mom moments level the battlefield on which we fight our “Mommy war.”  None of us is free from flaws, and certainly none of us makes perfect decisions. We all have the same end goal- to raise healthy, happy and productive humans. Does it really matter what path we follow to get them there?

So here’s your call to arms Whatever Moms: do whatever it takes to let go of your fears and worries that you are not enough. Take up the charge to own your mom choices. Decide right now to be confident in your decisions because any decision we make in the best interest of our children is the best decision we can make for them. The question isn’t “which side are you on?” The question is, “can we all stand together?”

 

 

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO: Danielle Sidarous for lending your excellent photography skills. Your time and talent is very much appreciated! All the moms who participated in creating this montage. Thank you for your commitment to helping me complete this project! And my husband, Keith for racing home to help twin wrangle while I got to do something besides wipe butts all day!

Important note: republication of these photos is expressly prohibited without consent from Danielle Sidarous. 

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The Day I Became the Whatever Mom

January 31 018

I think it is important to share that I am afflicted with a type “A” personality; which basically means I am very high strung and I want things done my way. I tend to fall apart when things do not go according to plan. And, by fall apart I mean I have a full systems meltdown (which I did when my girls were around two and a half).  I am very lucky I get to stay home with my twins. I do not however have access to family, back up child care and my husband works 98% of each day. So, most days I am out numbered.

Now, let me share with you that having twins as your first born is hard work. There is already a major learning curve to being a first time parent, but you throw in that extra needy little human and things get tough. Whether you have one, two or several, that first year is all about getting your parental bearings. Even with all the curve balls I hit that first year, it was still the easiest so far. Both kids were on the same eating and sleeping schedule. Juggling feeding and bathing two babies alone was difficult, but I managed. By the grace of God they both took two naps a day which gave me approximately three and a half hours to complete my household chores, maybe rest and watch TV. They were in bed by 6 p.m. and I had three more hours to get things done (and drink some wine). Since they were so portable we went for a walk three times a day. Errands were nearly effortless when I only had to pick up their carrier and lock it into the stroller. I was able to get things done, maybe not as perfectly as I could before kids, but my house was orderly, my kids were clean and dinner was on the table every night. I felt like I was THE domestic goddess. My type “A” was happy!

It all changed when my twins started walking. In opposite directions. I could no longer keep them contained and everything they touched was now out of place. They started protesting against diaper changes, wardrobe changes, bath time, car seats, the stroller and what was on the menu. It was exhausting. But, somehow I was determined to continue operating at a level of perfection only I had created. Until one day I landed myself in the ER with my first ever panic attack (a fore mentioned full system melt down). I hated it. I hated feeling like I did not have control. That was the scariest part. After meeting with a neurologist (I was convinced it must be “a tumah”) I realized I needed to make some changes. I needed to let some things go- namely my expectations.

My kids deserve a healthy mom. So, “whatever” became my mantra. I started saying “whatever” to the dishes now and then. I started saying “whatever” to the crumbs on the floor and the splatters of paint on the table after art projects. I even started saying “whatever” to keeping every single thing perfect. I lowered my standards from unattainable perfection to “whatever works.” I’m not going to lie. It was and still is difficult to do. I still get a twinge of “oh man I should be doing THAT!” when I go to other kids parties, or see friends awesome Pintrest projects. I get in a rush to make things bigger and better than I have planned. Then reality sets in that the only extra hands I have are little ones and I call upon my mantra of, “whatever” and I let it go.

I started this blog to give moms permission to do Whatever it takes to get through the day as a parent. You don’t need to keep it all together and make perfect crafts. You don’t need to put perfectly hot meals on the table every single night and hand deliver perfectly folded laundry. So, give yourself permission to leave the dishes in the sink a little longer while you play dress up with the kids. Our little ones actually want to be with us and shower us with kisses for a very short time.

Is your mail piling up? Is the laundry calling your name? Does your neighbor give you funny looks because you feed your kids out of a squishy pouch while driving to school? Repeat after me, Whatever! It works for me!

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