Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the tag “happiness”

The Gym, the Guilt and the Undying Search for Balance

10257789_685963581450789_99859160733615273_nThe guilt is overwhelming sometimes.  Most of the time.

It doesn’t help that the little guys in my life HATE coming with me to the gym.  Or that they ask, “why do you ALWAYS have to go to that gymmmmmm?”

I am insanely fortunate to have found a phenomenal CrossFit gym with a supportive and encouraging coach who allows me to let my children play on their tablets and do their homework while I work out.  But, I still feel incredibly awful dragging them to sit there so I can do something that is solely and completely just for me.

All the self-help people and women’s magazines tell us that we just simply must make the time to do something for ourselves.  It is essential that we take care and have something to call our own.  But I am not sure what the point is at which I am taking too much for myself.

mom-me-time_iwqi70I already work outside of the home as a teacher.  So, that’s “mine.”  I work out somewhat faithfully twice a week.  I get my nails done every two weeks or so.  I see a chiropractor semi-regularly.  I get my hair highlighted and cut every six to eight weeks.  If I wanted to add a third gym day in or see a physical therapist to figure out why I always have to pee when I jump rope, I feel as though that is just going to far.

And, I have to admit that I don’t know who I am more afraid will judge me:  my kids, my husband, society at large or ME.

6e1f525658ca73c44d018f7598768963So, I work out two days a week and while that is wonderful, I am not progressing that quickly.  I’d love to be able to tell you that I can do real pull-ups and bench-press 250 lbs., but those would both be lies.  Since starting at my gym 14 months ago, I have not managed to squeeze out one single actual real pull-up.  Or push-up.  Or unbroken 400-meter run.

The former, couch-potato me would say, “but you’re out there and you’re doing something and you’re sweating and doing something amazing for your body.”

Yep.  I am.

But, can I justify it?

What is a mother supposed to do?  No, really.  What am I supposed to do?  What percentage of “me” time is acceptable?  How many gym days can I have without being a “bad mother”?  If I drag the kids with me tomorrow so I can pick out new frames for my glasses, do I have to counterbalance that which was done solely for my (and not their direct) benefit with ice cream or trips to the park or other bribery/rewards/”quality time with the kids”?

Today, during my front squat, my coach told me I had to take weight off of the bar.  That’s demoralizing.  While I was thankful for the lighter load to bear, I also wondered about whether that made me weak.  But, his cue to me let me know that in that moment I was taking on too much.  I needed to scale back.  I wish I had a better system in place to help cue me as to when I have taken on an improper balance of time dedicated to the different elements of my own life.

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A change is brewin’

I’m 39.

That might be really old or really young depending on who and where you are.  I have to admit that most of the time it feels kind of old, especially when I look at how much energy my kids have comparatively.

A little over a year ago, I decided that I didn’t want to be 40 and fat.  I knew I had no control over the 40 part, but the “fat” part of it was a different story.

Going back about 8 years now, I decided to become “Off Duty Mom” when I felt that too few people were talking about the ugly side of motherhood or parenting, for that matter.  I needed more people to be open about hemorrhoids, varicose veins, tantrums, post-natal constipation, potty-training, the obnoxiousness of Caillou and the vast abyss of Thomas the Tank Engine and Minecraft into which so many kids fall.

But, it seems that people are talking about those things now.  I am really happy that new mothers now won’t have to deal with what I did:  believing that everyone else had an easy go of it while I was over here crying every night at 7 PM for NO REASON WHATSOEVER (aka:  hormones) after giving birth.  Had my dear friend not said to me, 3 months before I delivered, “when I had my daughter I was not prepared for that much bleeding.  I mean there was blood everywhere,” I might not have known that sleeping on a bed that looks like it was prepared by a serial killer ready to dismember his neighbor and a small elephant or that those giant mesh undie things would be so very, very necessary.  Oh, the joy that was the icepack panty pad.  What a motherfucking fantastic invention.  And, had my mother not given me fiber pills when I came home from the hospital and just said, “TRUST ME,” I wouldn’t have been prepared for the colossal fucking ass-rip that was trying to poop after delivering a baby.

My kids are school-aged now and that comes with new challenges for me.  But, when I hit my don’t-be-40-and-fat “eureka” moment, I knew that I wasn’t just all about the kind of vanity that comes with wanting to lose weight in your 20’s.  It wasn’t about a goddamn thigh-gap.  It was about living a long and healthy life with my family.  I wanted to be strong and fit.  But, most of all, having struggled with depression and anxiety for so long, I wanted to stop the incessant message in my head that said about so much:  “I can’t.”

I repeated the ugly “I can’t” message to myself probably a few dozen times each day, every day.  It related to what I felt was utter exhaustion about e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. around me.  “I just can’t stay up any later.”  “I just can’t run and play with my kids outside.”  “I just can’t walk to the park.  We have to drive.”  The list went on and on.  There seemed to be no end to the things I told myself I couldn’t do as a mom, as a teacher, as a wife, and just as a living, breathing human.

So, I am moving on to talk about something else now that I don’t thing enough people are honest about:  aging gracefully.

Actually, cosmetics companies, fashion magazines, celebrities and other people I don’t particularly want to hear weigh in on the subject are talking about it plenty.  But, I am not hearing a dialogue about what matters to me.

So I am going to start one.

Ever seen a video online of some amazing 65-year old bodybuilding and being all “If I can do it, anyone can!  I’m 65!  Get off the couch!”

Fuck you, 65-year old.

I started CrossFit almost exactly one year ago.  I am most decidedly NOT starring in videos, lifting 150 pound over my head and telling people to get off the couch.  I am in no position to tell anyone a friggin’ thing about fitness.

When I tell people I do CrossFit, I get one of two reactions: awe or confusion.  Some people have never heard of it.  But, most think that I am fucking nuts.  They think I throw tires and run 5Ks with kegs of beer on my back.  Actually, I do push-ups on my knees and I get lightheaded after running 100 yards.

That fit, smirking 65-year old in the videos started small, too, I am guessing.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, y’all.

So, I am recharging Off Duty Mom.  I can’t talk legitimately anymore about how annoying Elmo is because

  1.  I am no longer in a place where Elmo is in my world.  It’s all K.C. Undercover and Avengers movies ’round here now and
  2. It’s been done and overdone.  Blah Blah Blah Being a Mom is Hard.

I mean, being a mom is still hard.  But, what I am finding hard at this point in my journey is how to be better to myself for my family.  How do I increase my life span and breathe in life with more joy and less exhaustion?

I will be sharing with you now the Off Duty Mom journey of growing older, becoming stronger, finding more positive headspace and not being 40 and fat.

Thanks for your readership up to this point.  I hope you’ll be interested in opening conversations about how we can (and must) take better care of ourselves not so we can compete with the 22-year old moms at the pool whose bodies just sprung right back into magazine-cover shape post-partum (“it was so easy!”), but so we can grow from our former selves.

Join me.

Day 4 of the Whole Life Challenge, or Please Make it Stop

I actually kind of fucking hate this challenge.

For those of you who do not know, the Whole Life Challenge is an 8-week fitness, health and wellness program that challenges you to treat your body well.  You are encouraged to eat right, get good sleep, drink lots of water, stretch, work out and be well.  There is a list of foods you can and cannot eat.  Let me break it down for you:  you can eat, like, celery.  You cannot eat any of the things that make you happy (dairy, soy, gluten, sugar, alcohol, soda, chocolate, etc.).

Today I am especially grumpy and I really want to quit.  Like, a whole lot.  But, I won’t, even though water tastes like unhappiness.  Yes, I have tried “detox waters” and I have put lemon in my bottle and, no, it doesn’t fucking help.  If it isn’t Diet Coke or beer, I don’t really want it.  While I am allowed one glass of wine per week, that doesn’t do much to make me feel better.  I haven’t partaken in this for the first week yet because I am afraid to waste it, should a day arise where I need that small glass of comfort later in the week.  But, nevertheless, it is not Diet Coke, nor is it beer, so it will only be a small comfort.

Look — I am terribly overweight and I need to take better care of my children’s mother.  For far too long I have sought asylum within the beautiful confines of junk food and chemical additives.  It is no good at all.  But, I wonder if this is any way to live.  A long life without chocolate is not necessarily a better life, amirite?

Everyone keeps telling me that it will get better.  But, my muscles hurt from my workout, my tastebuds are mad at me and I am tired despite getting enough sleep.  I want to curl up in a ball and feel sorry for myself.

So, there is your little ray of sunshine from me today!  Please comment and tell me something happy in your life so I can live vicariously through you.  Or comment with a picture of french fries or with a story of how fit and healthy you are so I can be happy for/hate  you…

 

Day 3 of the Whole Life Challenge, or Stevia is NOT Sugar

I want to kill people less today.

I don’t have much else to report. But, I am sick of cooking so much. There is nothing Paleo at McDonalds. Why do I have to cooooooooook everything from scratch?

On another note, I went to CrossFit today and I can’t move my legs. So, standing over a stove has been unfun.

Tomorrow is a new day, right?

Grrrrrrrr…

Today I hate people.

Admittedly, most days I hate people.  I’m an introvert and I like quiet.  And, you know, NOT being around…people.

And, if this is your first time visiting this blog you might be surprised to know, given my general distaste for humanity, that I am a teacher.  Of teenagers.  Pretty much the worst people of all people.

I actually really seriously dislike children.  I mean, mine are cool, but yours suck.  No offense.

I kid only sort of.

On a serious note (for once), I actually tremendously love working with high school students.  I like talking with them.  I like helping them with their ridiculous dramatic bullshit.  I like talking to them about Star Wars.  I like watching them “get it” for the first time.  I seriously fucking love my job.  I am truly an introvert and I prefer quiet to parties, but my favorite thing of all of the things is discussing Hamlet with a group of hungry AP English Literature students.

But, today, I had to cover a 7th grade Math class.  Just let that sink in:  I hate numbers more than I hate people.  And, remember I hate children, but not teenagers.  Seventh graders are CHILDREN.  Don’t talk to me until you’ve made it at least one full day past your 14th birthday.  Even then, I don’t really want to talk to you for very long periods of time until about halfway through your freshman year of high school.

Seniors?  Give me all of the seniors all of the days.  Love ’em.  Lazy sons-a-bitches.  Those kids are my jaaaaam.

Sure, my piss-poor attitude today is colored by the fact that by 8:00 this morning, I had dealt with two students who were ethnically intimidating a Middle-Eastern refugee student and one student who told another to “eat balls.”  This week, I have been trying to stop a small group of boys in their attempt to mercilessly and evilly bully a weaker kid.  I’ve been failing at this miserably since the bullied kid is so bullied that he is too terrified to admit to the bullying so we can proceed with assistance for him.  I’m trying desperately to get a student scheduled into all of her appropriate classes for her junior and senior years because her parents do not speak English and they cannot advocate for her at school here.  So I do.  I’m trying to encourage a kid I’ve been mentoring for four years to finish all of the credit recovery programming he’s been working on so he can have enough credits to graduate in June.  He probably won’t make it.  I’ll be devastated when/if he ultimately drops out of high school.

I’ll go home today to a car with only three working tires.  My kids will need help with their homework.  I will have to cook dinner — from scratch because I am trying desperately not to pour a bunch of food additives, processed garbage and sugar into my family’s bodies.  I’ll care for my aging dog who was diagnosed yesterday with cataracts.  I’ll probably not get to the gym though I consider this a “gym day.” I’m not trying to get into a bikini or impress anyone, but I am trying to get stronger and healthier and today that will have to wait.

It is hard to be a working mom.

That’s it.  This is hard.  And I hate people.  And I’m tired.  And this is hard.  And I love it.  And hate it.  And…this is hard.

 

I’ve Found Him

I was a total nerd as a kid.

I got picked on — big time.

The cool girls used to throw popcorn at me when I ate lunch alone in the cafeteria in 7th grade.  I was usually alone, cafeteria or not.

I didn’t date a whole lot, but I grew into myself as I got a bit older.  However, when I was a younger teen, I would snuggle up on my side in my bed with a pillow and I would lay my head on it and pretend that it was my boyfriend who was letting me nuzzle into his shoulder.

I had daydreams about meeting a boy who would not know that I was such an outcast and he’d like me just because I have intrinsic value.

I had this incredibly silly fantasy that this magical boy would really know the real me and he wouldn’t judge me because I wasn’t wearing the coolest clothes.  He would know all of my idiosyncrasies like how I only ever eat French Fries two-at-a-time.

Eventually, I met an amazing man who became my husband.  We fell in love and made a house a home and are living happily ever after.

But, it was just a few weeks ago when my oldest son, age 5, mentioned that he wanted to eat his fries “just like mommy” and he popped two Five Guys hand-cut French Fries into his mouth.

Somewhere in my torn adolescent soul I felt sure that my time would come and I would meet the man of my dreams and he would fulfill all of my silly musings about love and he would make up for all of the emotional bruising I had muddled through.

I just never expected the man of my dreams to be my 5-year old son.

Babies, boobies, bosses

If you’re expecting, you have probably read What to Expect When You’re Expecting to help you know what you can expect while you’re expecting, except nothing can prepare expectant parents or help them better accept the truth about what happens after the expected baby arrives.

Fo’ real, though.

If you are pregnant right now, you may or may not be joking with others about how “crazy” you are.  You probably have heard of “pregnancy brain” and have lost your car keys a few times.  Your mood swings may either be cute and quirky or fully alarming.  You probably complain about things like swollen feet, missing ankles, blue veins, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, heart palpitations, blood sugar, back aches, head aches and an inability to drink alcohol to make you forget all of this nonsense.

If you are pregnant right now, you probably hate skinny people.  You probably lament the fact that no one makes a decent business suit for pregnant women and/or no one makes “maternity shoes” or “maternity bras” for temporary size changes.

Your boobs probably hurt.

You’ve no doubt noticed that maternity clothing is no less expensive than regular clothing (and sometimes is much more expensive) and you HAVE to fucking buy it because you can’t be naked and the Belly Band doesn’t help your pre-pregnancy pants fit over your pregnancy-ass.

If you wore high heels before your pregnancy, you are probably now wondering who the FUCKBALLS invented high heels and what giant ASSHOLE bought so many of them and put them in your closet.  Why doesn’t the Shoe Fairy come bring you some nice, sensible footwear from Lands End?

And, I hate to break it to you…

YOU’RE SCREWED.

With science what it is these days, if you are pregnant, you may not have been screwed, per se, but you are screwed in a more metaphorical and less fun way.

You’re gonna have a BABY.

They make you CRAZY.

You will actually feel like a real lunatic a few weeks after that baby is born.  You may cry for no reason.  You may feel completely incompetent.  You may be completely overwhelmed.  You may be super-duper pissed that your significant other’s life and body were not as completely RUINED by this tiny, beautiful, precious, angelic, life-destroying animal.

You will have nothing that is yours:  not your body, not your clothes, not your space, not your time, not your food, not your one-goddamn-minute-alone-on-the-fucking-toilet-in-silence.  That baby is the boss of you.  He decides when you sleep, what you eat, when you pee, whether you shower, and whether your clothes stay clean or vomit-laden.  He is your warden.  And you love him.  And kinda hate him (or maybe just the situation) soooooooooo much.  And then you feel enormously guilty for the “hate” part and you’ll cry and be certain that you’re the worst parent who ever parented in the whole universe of parents ever.

You will want to say (or even really say out loud and everything) “SHUT THE FUCK UP!” more than one time.

You will meet several “good” moms who have their lives in perfect order and just “love” being a mother and who have no idea what you mean when you say that it is a really hard job.  You will want to murder these women, but please don’t because your boss baby needs you.

Look:  this is going to suck.  Being a parent sucks.  But, people don’t really want you to know that.  And THAT sucks, because when the baby arrives and you realize it all just sucks so much, you will feel like a complete asshole because no one else talks about how much it sucks, so you are left to believe that it only sucks for you which means that you are a bad parent and an even worse person.

But, for all of its suckitude, one day you will realize that you are no longer just treading water.  You’ll be swimming.  And your kids will be able to care for themselves.  And, you’ll not have to change diapers or wipe up sour-milk-vomit or buckle anyone in but yourself when you get in your car.

And, you’ll cry because you will wonder what happened to your beautiful babies and you’ll look back on those days that sucked with such fondness and gratitude and bliss.  And you’ll miss holding a lavender-scented sleeping infant in your arms.

And you’ll have absolutely no desire to do it all over again.

I’m Raising Your Boyfriend

When I first had begun my journey of motherhood, I was insanely frustrated by the fact that nobody was brutally honest about how hard parenting is.

1Now, I am pretty flabbergasted by how many people are coming out of the woodwork to talk about how hard parenting is.

I am actually a little pissed that I am not unique in a way.  But, I am also quite comforted to be reminded that I am not completely alone in my troubles.

I have two children:  two amazing, beautiful, kindhearted boys who are, without question, the most important and the  most phenomenal things in my life.  These two are very different and that always amazes me.  They came from the same gene pool.  They live in the same home.  They follow the same routines.  But, they have their own distinct personalities.

My firstborn is a pistol.  He is fiercely, triumphantly, vehemently independent.  He is also brave, gentle, giving, creative, smart and energetic.  But, for the sake of this post, I am just going to focus on the independence for now.

I am very proud that he is a free thinker.  No, seriously:  VERY PROUD.  As an academic myself, I have very high regard for individuals who pave their own ways.  He is an inventor, not a consumer.  He is a leader, not a follower.  That fucking rocks.

This quality made it difficult for me, though, to learn how to effectively parent.  I was really thrown into the deep end of the motherhood pool and left to sink or swim with this little guy.  As a tiny bean, he rarely wanted to do anything I told him to do:  ever.  This was very trying.  And, it was potentially dangerous as many of things I told him to do were merely for his own personal safety.

He is a little older now, though, and he and I have really gotten to know each other well.  I have always loved him with every bit of my being.  But, we are becoming friends now, too.  And, I can’t explain how awesome that is.  If you have a great relationship with your kid, though, you know just what I mean.

My baby is as happy as they come.  He smiles nearly incessantly.  And, he is so freakin’ laid back.  All. The.  Time.  He can’t be shaken (well, unless he has a new tooth coming in or desperately needs a nap).  He pleasantly goes along with just about any request I make of him.  He isn’t a mindless drone, mind you.  He is just so pleased to learn and discover and be shown the ways of the world.  He is excited to see and wonder and experience.

Toddlerhood is really rough.  If you are a parent, I am not really breaking any big news here.

For one child, the toddler period was filled with “No!” and “I don’t WANT to!” and “Aaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhh!”

For the other the toddler period seems to be filled with “Okay, Mommy!” and “Hee Hee” and lots and lots of snuggling.

I love both of these children.  One is not better than the other.  I don’t wish one is, was, or would be more like the other.

But, wow.  This should be added to the list of Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Parent: raising a young child is basically starting a brand-new relationship.  You may not be in love at first.  You each may do things that the other doesn’t understand or pisses the other party off to no end.  You may each say some things you don’t mean.  You may feel like walking out.  You may sway from love to frustration and back again many times in a single day.  You may disappoint one another.  And, it may take you both a very long time to really get to know one another deeply.

When you bring a child into a family, you are meeting a new person and starting a new relationship with him or her.  All relationships have rocky spots.  All relationships have peaks and valleys.  This is no different.

messy handsYou may be blessed with the world’s most wonderful child.  He or she may be so “easy,” as parents say.  This often translates to a child who is generally quiet and obedient; a child who sleeps well and loves to try new foods; someone who never embarrasses you in public or has poop squish up her back while you are in line at the grocery store.  You may also be blessed with a “difficult” child.  He is often boisterous, physical, and messy; he has a mind of his own; he doesn’t care what other people think; he may be a pretty big personality.  Either way, you’re still blessed.

The first relationship our children have is with their parents.  Then, hopefully, they will go on to have hundreds of other successful relationships:  with friends, romantic partners, classmates, teachers, coworkers, neighbors, spouses, families and so on.  What we build with our kids follows the same pattern we’ve forged as we might have built any other relationship of our own in the past.  And, how we build our relationships with our kids helps show them the foundation for how they should create interpersonal relationships with others in the future.

This is yet another way in which we might inevitably to something to send them into therapy one day.

Nevertheless, with our best intentions, we move forward, getting to know these little personalities better and better with each passing moment.

Is it June yet?

Tgood teacheroday, I shall further my rant about teenagers.

In case, you haven’t caught up with my blog in a while, or…um…ever before, you might not know that I am a high school teacher and a proud momma of two little ones.  I have always said that I do not understand kids at all until they turn about 13.  Most other parents likely cringe at the thought of their children going through the teen years, but I honestly have no idea what to do or say to most 3-year olds.  I just don’t have that piece of DNA in me that makes me want to sit on the floor and play with Play Doh.

I “get” teenagers.  I don’t always like them.  But, I get them.

However…

It is nearly June.  And, if you have never taught you don’t know how much you just kinda want to get away from these kids by this point in the year.

I spent some time in a “real job” in an office.  I hated it.  HATED IT.  But, I have to say that I never wanted to get the fuck away from my coworkers with quite the same desperate passion as I truly want to get away from students after 9 months together.

Indeed.

Indeed.

My coworkers never complained that “someone farted.”  And, they never broke my box fan during a before-class wrestling match that involved a disagreement over a purple pen.  They also never surrounded my desk and yelled my name at me over and over again even though I was clearly talking with someone else.  Their parents never called me to scream at me, threatening to have me fired since they “pay my salary.”  I never broke up a fist fight between my coworkers.  My office was always air-conditioned.  I got an hour for lunch at my office (not the 12 minutes I end up with by the time I microwave leftovers, find something to drink, go down the hall to the lounge and sit down).  I could pee whenever I wanted.  I never had to repeat what I wanted others to do, like, a MILLION times.  My day started at a normal time, not 7:06.  No one ever threatened to slash my tires.  No one ever looked me in the face and said, “I am going to fucking kill you, bitch.”

Now, don’t get me wrong:  I 100%, without question love my work.  There is absolutely nothing I would rather be doing.  I did some soul searching while at that terrible office job.  I bought a book called “What Should I Do With My Life?” in the hopes that it would tell me what to do with my life.  It didn’t help one damn bit.  But, I did end up back in a classroom and it was the best goddamn decision I have made in a very, very long time.

ftsMoms and dads may complain about their children.  This does not mean that they do not love them.

I happen to have 102 children.  I complain about them all the time.  But, I do still love them.

But, now it is your turn to deal with them for a few months.  Get me outta here.

Surviving Teendom

Teen angst.

Ugh.

We all went through it and yet somehow no adults seem to have figured out yet how to get the 12-19 year-old crowd to know for certain that

  1. You are not alone
  2. You are not ugly.  People who call others “ugly” are being ugly.
  3. Not EVERYONE hates you.
  4. There’ll be sad songs that make you cry.  They don’t freaking help anything.  Stop listening to them.
  5. Do not call, text or drive past your ex’s house or person.  It’s not helpful.
  6. School isn’t about algebra and sentence diagramming.  It’s about life.
  7. Your haircut is stupid.
  8. Reading books gets you farther in life than the “right” shoes, purse, belt or phone ever will.
  9. Punctuality matters.  Really.
  10. If you learn how to shake hands and look someone in the eye you will do well in both your private and your work lives.
  11. You should be the girl/guy who can be introduced to Mom or else you will never be good for anything other than a fling.
  12. It is not true that no one understands you.  We totally understand you.  We WERE you.  And we know you’re acting dumb so get over yourself.
  13. Swearing has its place.  Grown-ups do it, too.  But it isn’t for street cred.  It is only as a legitimate expression of emotion, amplitude or art.
  14. Yes, family is more important that friendship.  We’ve all had friends who were practically family, but that entire 8th grade clique of yours isn’t going to be with you when you’re 59 and your mother dies or when you lose your job with no explanation after 32 years of service.
  15. 99% of what matters to you today you will not even be able to remember in 10 years.
  16. Skinny jeans are not for everyone.  Find your own style that makes you look your best.
  17. You won’t die if you put down the electronics for a day.  Interact with humans, for crying out loud.
  18. Your mom will eventually prove to have been right about, well, everything, ever.
  19. It’s called a “waistband” because it goes around your thighs.  Just kidding.  You look absurd.
  20. Your poetry is probably not that good.

If, one day, we can find a way to convince the young buckaroos of these facts, peace will reign.  Doves will soar above the mountaintops.  Rainbows and angels’ songs will permeate all the lands.  All will be right with the world.

 

Yes, it’s my kid.

Off Duty Mom is proud to feature a special “Hooray for Mother’s Day” special publication!

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Guest Post by Stephanie Friant

You know, the one who starts poking the boy next to him during the end-of-year school show.

The one who has six different projects going on at the same time – then corrects me that it is only three.

The one who pulled the fire alarm at church because he wanted to know what it does.  (Special thanks to Fireman Luke who then handed out stickers.)

And the classic, after dumping all his books on the floor trying to find one particular story, his response to why he hadn’t picked them up was:  “I told [my little sister] to do it.”

He keeps me running.  I have spent so many days trying to get one step-ahead of him, but rarely ever get there.

I hope and pray that I can love him enough that the world will continue to be an adventure, a safe place.  Yet, I also know that at some point, I will be running miles behind him.

He has been, is, and will always be a gift.

He has stretched my mind and heart and spirit in ways I never thought possible.

This being of joy, love and unpredictability has transformed my world, allowing me to embrace the beauty of the unknown.

He is part of me and completely separate.  He is a mirror highlighting all my shadows, yet loving me regardless.

He will always be a bit of a mystery to me, yet in my own way, I get him.  I understand him as only a mother can – a being who miraculously made room for himself inside my own body, and now continuing to make room for himself in the world.  He is of my flesh, and will always be of my heart.

Stephanie Friant is a wife, mom, and friend with a calling for professional ministry.  She loves learning, writing, being outdoors, and helping others on their spiritual journeys.  Stephanie lives with her family in the Twin Cities and retreating to the cottage in Northern Michigan.

Hooray for Mother’s Day!

Off Duty Mom is proud to feature a special “Hooray for Mother’s Day” special publication!

************************************

GUEST POST BY:

Meredith Ethington

My hands are literally cracking and bleeding. My husband said to me innocently when I was complaining, “Can you just try washing them less everyday?” I scoffed, “No! I wash them when I wipe a butt, and before eating, or fixing a meal, and after going to the bathroom. Which of those should I skip?”

I was thinking about how my hands look like they belong to a 90 year old woman even though I am just a young, 35 year old mama. And, I thought of all the beautiful mother’s day poems out there about a mother’s hands. They are beautiful aren’t they? But, my hands? Not so much. Do these poems really get down and share the nitty gritty that every mother experiences everyday? Not really.

So, I crafted a short little poem of my own, which is ironic since I pretty much hated every poem I had to read during my high school and college years. But, this one came to me pretty quickly.

Busy, Dirty Hands (A Mother’s Day Tribute)

I’m thankful for my mother’s hands, which keep us kids at bay,

From destroying everything she loves, each and every day.

It seems that when I need some help, she says, “Do it yourself!”

So, then I climb up  very high and reach up on a shelf.

Her hands know how to clean up each and every mess I make,

When the shelf falls down, and I move on, to wreak havoc in another place.

Her hands know how to feed the baby, while making dinner too.

They send a text, and help with homework, while the house feels like a zoo.

Those hands wipe our bums 10 times a day, and rarely she complains,

Except, of course, when poop floats in the tub, and she’s almost gone insane.

Her hands are patient when we draw on the couch with a bright red pen,

She uses them to cover her mouth when she wants to remain quite zen.

Her hands catch every single thing that comes out of my mouth,

chewed food and vomit, are just two that no longer gross her out.

Her hands clean up the crusty things that come out of my nose,

when I wipe them on the wall, she says, “That isn’t where it goes!”

Her hands know how to clean and wipe, and clean and wipe again,

They do the same thing over and over, to clean up our pig pen.

Her hands show me so many things, like how much she must love me.

After all those hands have one dirty job, taking care of little ol’ me.

-Written by crazy toddlers everywhere

Meredith is a native Texan, recovering perfectionist, and mama to 3 kids living in Utah. She has been blogging for over 5 years, but just recently decided to make her blog public and get real about motherhood. Her tag line is “far from perfect, but blogging about it anyway”. Because that is exactly what she wants to do. Her goal is to be honest and not just blog all the happy, pretty moments. You can find her over at Faking Picture Perfect.

Advice for Moms

Want my advice?

If you knew me in person, you probably wouldn’t, but here we go…

Whaaaaaat?

Whaaaaaat?

It occured to me that we really ought to be able to offer better advice to mothers of little ones than “sleep when the baby is sleeping.” ‘Cuz that advice sucks, anyway. I don’t know about you, but when I was going through an 8-month stretch with a newborn who not once in that time slept for more than 2 hours at a clip, the whole sleep-when-the-baby-is-sleeping idea was unrealistic, unhelpful, and not at all restful for an adult.

Now, I am a total nutjob, so I am absolutely in no real position to be offering advice to anyone, really. Seriously, I am NOT keeping my shit together. Like, at all. But, I have learned a thing or two about feeling less likely to jump off of a clock tower. So, if you are exhausted, depressed, anxious, and lonely with a child or children at home under the age of 6, or if you know too well that weird feeling that comes when you know your eyes are open and stuff, but your head feels like you just swigged a bottle of Benadryl and chased it with a few shots of Tequila and a handful of quaaludes, then, maybe I can offer some thoughts.

1. Take a shower. ‘Cuz you stink. That was a joke. Sort of. You might stink, I actually don’t know. But, in reality, there isn’t a whole lot that a good, steamy shower can’t wash away — even if it is only temporary. Sometimes the shower is the only quiet place in your house, right? And, it smells like lavender and honeysuckle. And, there are no feces, crayon-stained walls or those tiny legos that make your foot feel like it is being murdered by itty-bitty Samurais when you step on them. Besides, taking a shower makes you feel human again when you are sleep-deprived, frustrated and hallucinating. Get some of the aromatherapy stuff that is energizing. You’ll feel a little better. Then someone will vomit on you. But, you felt better for a bit.

2. Wear real pants. Now, look: no one (and I do mean NO ONE) loves yoga pants more than I do. I rock some flannel pj pants about 35 seconds after coming home from work every day. But, when I was on a very long maternity leave, I started to feel as dumpy as I looked as I sat around everyday in fleece, elastic-waist pants and an old sorority sweatshirt. You don’t have to try to squeeze your ass into an old prom dress. You don’t need that kind of bullshit making you feel bad. But, put on a pair of jeans for crying out loud. Go outside. Get some air. Even if it is warmer in your fridge than it is outside. You own boots and a heavy coat, right? Your kid has a parka. Come on. A body at rest in stretchy pants tends to stay at rest in stretchy pants.

3. Listen to your kid. Hard. My older son has prepared a dissertation on the merits of Buzz Lightyear’s heroism versus the entertainment value of Super Mario Brothers. I have no fucking clue what he is talking about most of the time. And, I always feel way too busy with important things like laundry, drinking wine and blogging to really pay all that much attention. He mostly gets thoughtless replies of “Yeah,” and “That’s nice.” But, I have tried to make it a point lately to listen to some of his stories as though they are the most fascinating things I have ever heard. I look at his eyes (something I try to tell him is important to do when he talks to adults). I ask questions. I try to make him feel as though someone really hears him. Because no one listens to a goddamn word I say all day and I know how shitty that feels.

4. Adopt a mantra. In a previous post, I talked about how lifesaving it was for me to hear someone talk about training the mind to repeat a positive statement. She was a yoga instructor and mom and she told us we could steal her mantra: “It won’t always be this way.” I think about it all the damn time. Yours doesn’t have to be that one, but when you are on the brink of tears (always, right?), adopt a better voice to hear in your head other than “I can’t.” You might try “Just breathe,” or “Right now, I am grateful for______.” Someone I know uses “At least.” For her, when her toddler threw a Tonka Truck at the living room window and cracked it, she said to herself, “At least it’s warm outside. And the window can be repaired.” Find what works for you. And, don’t let 2-year olds play with Tonka Trucks near antique glass windows.

5. Do something mindless (but awake) each day. I am a television junky. I love when I have the opportunity to watch some of my favorite shows. But, I can only take so much Sprout. Speaking of which, when any other co-host in the Sunshine Barn with Chica sings the birthday song, the camera cuts to Chica dancing her little birthday puppet dance. But, Kelly gets the camera on her the whole time. Who is she fucking at PBS? That really burns my ass.

So, I should tell you that I am absolutely certain that these things all work to help you feel more alive, more alert and more like being a better mom. I know that these things all work because I don’t do them. And, I am certifiable, so clearly, doing the opposite of what I do will make you well-adjusted and happy.

Regardless, though, of whether you follow this advice, we should all just hang in there, right? I mean, there are a whole lot of cruddy parents out there and if you are reading blogs trying to get advice on how to keep your cool and be better for your kids, you are not a cruddy parent. You are tired. And sick of hearing people scream things like “No!” and “But, wait!” and “I don’t wanna!” at you. It’s okay. Really. It is.

And, of course, if you are concerned about how much you are not keeping yourself together, please talk with your doctor. You are not alone. I promise. And, it is okay to ask for help. Call your doctor, call a babysitter, call for takeout and call the Winebulance. Did you know there was such a thing? Criminey. None of us need suffer any longer.

In Need of a Chainsaw

I have realized that my life would be a hell of a lot easier if there were two of me.

Wow.  That seems so obvious.  I could be so efficient.  I could do twice as much laundry.

chainsaw post2Let’s be honest, though, if there were two of me, I’d probably just creep twice as much Pinterest and drink twice as much snobby craft beer.

But, what I started to come to understand is that on days when the going gets rough, I could really use a metaphysical chainsaw to slice myself into two beings:  one who will lovingly care for my kids and the other who will get a pedicure, shop for handbags and have a long lunch at a restaurant with tablecloths.

‘Cuz here’s the lowdown:  I love my kids.  I also love not being asked 43 times in a day about Super Mario Brothers and Thomas the Tank Engine.  Some days I feel a little run down.  And maybe I cry a little.  Or  a whole lot.  But, when I get a little time to myself, one of two things typically happens:  either I completely waste it by doing absolutely nothing of any value whatsoever, or I spend it wondering what my precious babies are doing, smiling longingly at every beautiful child who passes me at the mall.

Mom said she wishes there were two of her.  Let's practice being helpful.

Mom said she wishes there were two of her. Let’s practice being helpful.

So, it would really be great if there were two of me – not so I could be Supermom and start baking more or inventing cool crafts that involve pipecleaners and homemade slime – but so that one of me could chill the fuck out somewhere, maybe read a book, go tanning, or visit a friend, while the other joyfully absorbs the peace and tranquility radiating from the other’s blissful calm and is able to appreciate every fabulous moment with a couple of terrific little boys.

I decided when founding Off Duty Mom that I was going to be honest about the good, the bad and the ugly.  So, let me go ahead now and tell you where my chainsaw thoughts are coming from.

The other day, when I pulled my car into my garage after a long day of trying to educate the very unwilling youth of America, I turned off the ignition and just sat there.  For a good, solid five minutes or so.  I just sat.  I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car.  I didn’t want to go inside my house.  I knew that as soon as I did, two children would be bouncing and running and yelling and tossing toys everywhere.  My car was so quiet.  I had a very difficult time walking away from that quiet.

I felt pretty shitty.  The guilt was significant.  What kind of mother leaves her babies all day and then isn’t running into the house at the first chance that she gets to see and spend any quality time with them?

This gal.

And, I felt crapilicious about it.

A good mom, I told myself, is thrilled to come home and wrap her arms around her children.  And then I cried.

But, I pulled my shit together and came into the house.  My kids ran up to me and yelled, “Mommy!” and hugged and kissed me.  It felt so good.  But, it didn’t change the fact that I was so tired.  So.  Very.  Tired.

But yet, I played and I cooked and I sang and I rocked and I bathed and I brushed and I read.  It was lovely.  And exhausting after an already long day.

I thought again about how I’d love to split into two so that one of me could go get a massage.

Now, I have a pretty terrific husband who gives me time to do the things I need to do.  I have regular chiropractor appointments and stuff.  But, things would be a heck of a lot cooler with another “me” around, anyway.  And, since I am so lovable and adorable, I am sure my husband would agree that two of “me” would be pretty sweet.

chansaw postBut, I suppose that like money and time, if I had extra “me” around, I would probably just waste it.  That lazy bitch would probably just take naps, eat BBQ Pringles and watch SVU repeats all the damn time, anyway.

Ugh.

I wish someone would have warned me that parenting was going to be this hard.  Spread the word, people:  parenthood makes you think about chainsaws.

This has been a public service announcement sponsored by the marginally insane.  Thanks for listening.

Coulda Done Without…

Tell me, friends:  who among us cannot appreciate the beauty in the little things in life?

Ah, the beauty of the world around us.  Some days I just can't fucking find it.

Ah, the beauty of the world around us. Some days I just can’t fucking find it

I can’t.

Sometimes even the voices in my own head are of people I’d like to punch in the trachea.

The past two days have been days like that.  I have felt a permanent snarl on my face.  It isn’t iconic like Billy Idol’s or quirky like Elvis’ or cute like a puppy’s.  It is the physical manifestation of disappointment in the human race.  It is the muscular byproduct of my involvement in a culture of stupidity.

Let’s explore some things that are wacky, ridiculous, senseless or just generically aggravating for thinking people.

Strange Days, indeed

Strange Days, indeed

1.  Television.  I have before chronicled my irritation with some modern-day children’s programming.  What has happened?  Where are the Snorks?  Can I get some Great Space Coaster up in here?  I miss my Electric Company.  I feel sorry for kids today who will never learn who is “bouncing here and there and everywhere,” with “high adventure that’s beyond compare.”

2.  Modern technology and inventions.  Now, I am not going to bitch about kids who try sexting, or about the problems with Windows 8.  I am going to complain about the inventions of items such as antenna balls, the Snuggie, the ShamWow, The Shake Weight, the Flowbee, the KFC “Double Down,” and the laser disc.  Where are we going, world?  I don’t want to know what is next up for a world that has invented the wearable DVD player, “Two Broke Girls,” and those little decorative pieces of junk that you cram in the holes of your equally stupid Crocs.

3.  Baby Names from Mars.  What are some of you thinking?  Now, I am really sorry if you are the proud mother of an Orangejello, Nevaeh, Q’Daunteus, Le-A, Yummalewis, Princess, Rambo, Angelbaby, Cha Cha, Kredonshea, Sugar, Zither or Falopiana.  Actually, I am sorrier for your kids.

4.  Prissy Drinkers.  When I was in college, I was repeatedly annoyed by girls who would go to frat parties and not be willing to drink beer.  “I don’t liiiiiike beer,” they’d twirl their hair and whine.  Really, assclown?  You came to a FRAT PARTY.  Oh, yes, Sweet Cheeks, let me get you a Pomegranate Cosmo.  You’re 19.  Drink Schlitz with the rest of the crew.  And, get your hands on that barrel and your feet in the air and be fun, dammit.

5.  The Discriminatory Childless.  Everyone’s an expert, right?  There is no shortage of people out there who have no children of their own, but who will roll eyes, scoff, or even offer unwelcome advice about you and your kids.  Now, I used to be one of the Discriminatory Childless.  And, then I had two kids.  And, now I am sorry to that mother I yelled at at Wal-Mart that one time.

Tell that to the perky-perks.

Tell that to the perky-perks.

6.  The Habitually Optimistic.  I am a grump by nature.  It is just who I am.  My husband asks me all the time “what’s wrong” or mentions, sweetly of course, that I “look miserable.”  Most of the time I am not what I would say is “miserable.”  But, I am adorably misanthropic.  Well, at least that is how I like to think of myself.  But nothing makes me grumpier than when I am faced with a perky, doe-eyed happy-cat.  You know the type.  Ever see “Office Space?”  I think about “Accounts Payable, Nina Speaking…JUST a moment!” repeated enough times to make me want to vomit all over her rainbow-colored world.

Feel free to share with me the things you could do without in this world.  Grump with me.  Try it.  First one’s free.

 

I don’t care how your vagina looks

Why is the Brazilian Bikini Wax even a thing?

I mean, honestly, why is it sexy to leaf through Playboy and ogle women who are adults from the belly-button up, but are 9-year olds from the shorn labia down?

I suppose I understand the arguments one might make about staying appropriately groomed for swimwear and…well…that’s actually the only argument I can think I might understand.  But, I am a little wierded out by the long-running trend that glorifies having a stranger toss your ankles in the air, stick her face near your C-U-Next-Tuesday, and forcibly tear out your pubic hair by the root en masse.

What is the male equivalent of this phenomena?  What do our gentlemen friends have to do stay sexy?  Um, get a job?  Not wear Wife-beaters?  Take out the garbage?  Kill spiders?  Steer clear of Crocs, skinny jeans, and pleated khakis?

And, pray tell, why are we as a society — a WORLD society — so preoccupied with private orifices?

For example…

–How did Vaginal Rejuvenation surgery come to be?  After children, no woman’s lady parts look like blossoming lotus flowers anymore.  That’s life.  Whatevs.

–Who invented Anal Bleaching?  Has anyone ever seen an anus that needed to be bleached?  I don’t understand.  Is it…um…dirty…so the process is like bleaching your kid’s socks after he played flag football in the yard without shoes, or is it a skin color issue and a matter of the monstrous impact of white-normed culture that is the culprit here?

–Did you know that you can get your hymen restitched?  In some parts of the world, it is critical that a woman be a virgin upon marriage.  So, in case you said “fuck you” to that tradition and now have some Buyer’s Remorse, or if you accidentally jogged and opened your hymen (as is the case, apparently for most women — hymens split through natural means), you can recreate the illusion of childhood-fresh vagina-dom with Hymen Repair surgery.  Wow.

–If you don’t like how large, small, or misshapen your clitoris is, you can change that, too, through specialized plastic surgery.  Now, really.  I understand women who have suffered through Female Genital Mutilation, but I wonder how many people, statistically, have this surgery for vanity’s sake.  I don’t mean to judge, but I actually wonder why our society puts so much pressure on appearance that women feel the need to adjust this (normally) hidden part of their bodies.

–Men aren’t totally immune to this, either, though their options are more limited and the number of men who partake is grossly smaller.  There are numerous schemes, pills, devices, surgeries and home remedies to help men enlarge their penises, though.  (Is that correct?  penises?  Might it be peni?  I have never had much use for plural penises [hee hee — that’s what she said]).  There are also options for men who want to tighten their ball skin to reduce sag and options for men to be circumcised as adults.  Ouch.  While the former may be for vanity (but may more often be to improve sexual function or prowess) the latter, I assume, is more often performed for medical reasons to relieve discomfort.  These are not just to make them more attractive.

Look:  I believe in freedom.  Have yourselves waxed, dyed, plucked, primped, tanned, pedicured, shaved, implanted, lifted, Botoxed, reshaped, liposucked, dieted, styled and glossed if, when, and how you want.

But, don’t be surprised when the phenomena into which you fall becomes the topic of a post from your friendly neighborhood blogger as she rants about cultural obsessions with human undercarriage.

All I wonder is this:  have we gone too far?

At what point will humankind ever just be satisfied with things as they are?  At what point will people begin to accept one another?  When might we begin to see and celebrate uniqueness instead of trying to rip, tear, pluck and reconstruct into some weirdly agreed-upon ideal?  When do we start to love and accept one another BECAUSE of, not IN SPITE of our differences?

I imagine that will happen…um…never.

I blame video games.  And gun violence.  And Global Warming.  And President Bush.  Either one.  It doesn’t really matter.

What say you?  Feel like dabbling in some anal bleaching or hymen reconstruction yourself?  Want to recommend ball tightening to someone?  Ever seen a clitoris that really needed a makeover?  I would love to know about the circumstances.  I am all ears (actually, if I were, in fact, ALL ears, would I have to get plastic surgery on them to be pretty?).

I look forward to your comments.

 

The long, winding path to our family

The December series on fertility issues is, of course, over now.  However, we received this guest-post the other day and felt that it was important to include as well.  Many ODM readers may find this story touching, relevant and hopeful.

Many thanks to guest-poster, JD, for the submission!

We knew we were going to start a family after a year of being married.  We decided to travel to St. Lucia for our one year anniversary and for our two year anniversary we would have our first child.  Next thing we knew, two more years passed, many more destinations were traveled and still we hadn’t gotten pregnant.

We had been trying to get pregnant on our own for about a year when a friend of mine suggested my husband and I should see a fertility specialist and stop wasting time.  I hesitated on seeing a specialist because it’s admitting that there is something wrong and we will end up being that percentage of people that can’t plan when they want to conceive, or better yet, get pregnant when they aren’t even trying and don’t even want the baby (but we’ll get into that later).

At first it was exciting to being getting all the tests and appointments.  Every time they would tell me what test I had to get done, I would think that this was the one that would finally work.  The first was the test where they blow your tubes out with air to make sure they are opened.  I was told it would be uncomfortable with mild cramping, so I was prepared with my two Advil.  That was a crock of shit because I almost passed out when they were done and everything was already cleared! We tried on our own after that hoping it had worked, but after all the temperature-taking and pissing on sticks, still– nothing.  After two months of Clomid along with IUI with no results, we finally opted for the laparoscopic surgery to see if there is anything inside that is not seen.  There was only a little bit of endometriosis that was found and scraped out.  Even though the doctor told me there wasn’t enough to make a difference with fertility, I was still hopeful that it was enough.  But unfortunately, my hopes were shot down once again.

Besides not knowing if you will ever be able to have kids, the worst part is the emotional roller coaster each month.  I began to wonder what I did wrong and why this is happening to me.  You hear of this stuff happening to others and you always feel bad for them and talk about how hard of a situation it must be for them to deal with, but never do you think it’ll be you.  We didn’t want to tell our family what we were going through as they would want to keep asking for updates.  Others that haven’t gone through this don’t realize how insensitive and hurtful it can be to constantly ask.

Our next step was to continue IUI for 4 months but this time we had to begin hormone injections instead of Clomid.  Of course, insurance covers none of these treatments, so we started having to pull out the plastic and start watching our spending. This brings up a good topic: why insurance won’t cover something that will help someone who would be a good parent and can afford to raise children when it’s outside of my ability.  It’s not my fault that I can’t get pregnant, but others that receive welfare for their children do have the ability to not have kids could keep their fucking legs closed! I hate to get political, but why should I give money from my paycheck to help those that aren’t good parents and keep having kids “by accident” to receive more federal money when there is no one there helping me pay for my fertility treatments?  Why am I penalized for making too much money and having a uterus that is the black widow?  It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s life I guess….

After giving myself shots in the stomach each night for about 13 days, my husband would come to the office at 7 am to watch his porn and do his business in a cup. I would then come in a few hours later to have his washed sperm shot into my uterus hoping it would find those few mature eggs.  But of course, after 4 months of this, no baby!!  Our doctor then advised us to start looking into IVF with this being an unexplained infertility.  We set our consult appointment for a clinic in Maryland and compiled our list of questions with cost being at the top of the list.  We decided to pay more money for their Shared Risk plan which gives you 100% of the money you paid back if you don’t have a baby after six tries.

So I began doing 2-3 shots in my stomach each night for about two weeks in hopes our first shot at IVF would work.  The shots are painful but I kept telling myself it was temporary.  After constant ultrasounds, the last thing I want to do is have sex!  What’s the point?  You have doctors doing this for you.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t have to drive to Maryland 5 times during this cycle, but again, just kept hoping it would work and we wouldn’t have to do this anymore.  They ended up taking 15 mature eggs and out of that only two were of the quality we needed.  We implanted one embryo and were able to freeze the other for a later time.

Luckily, I found out that our one embryo took and I’m pregnant!!  I formed OHSS due to all the medications I was taking which has been miserable.  My ovaries are enormous and my stomach got so big after only 4 weeks of being pregnant that I looked like I was 5 months pregnant!  It’s been painful, but now that I’m eight weeks pregnant the pain has subsided a little.  I still have to take Estrace and Endometrin which isn’t fun, but I have only two more weeks and then I can start enjoying the journey of pregnancy.

From all of this, I have realized that you have to have faith that there is a master plan and everything will work itself out.  You may not realize it now but someday you will look back and realize whatever is meant to be, will be (with a little help and a lot of money!)  At times you feel alone and like it’ll never end but it eventually does.  At the end of the day, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to you.  Give it time (and again, lots of money) and your dreams will eventually come true!

Sex Sells

I have been feeling unmotivated lately.

I’ve not posted here in a while because I (for once) haven’t had much to say.  This is pretty unusual for me in general.  I typically do not shut up.  Like, ever.

So, instead of trying to force it here, I thought I would just make a post that we can all enjoy…

Here you go.

Historic movie eye candy.kevin

You’re welcome.taye2

brad carypaulgeorgejamesmarlondaniel     leo  mattwillsean patrick

The best unlaid plans

GUEST POST by

“Mom of Twins”

You are told, “if you kiss a boy, you will get pregnant.” You go through life doing the right things and following the right path: graduate high school, graduate college, get a real job, find a worthy man, marry that worthy man, and then want to start a family.

Well that is pretty much how it happened for us. I always talked about having kids and my husband made me promise to give him a year before we started a family in order to be able to do what we want: spontaneous weekends, dinner parties with friends, and sleeping in! Well, that year went by and (actually it was three years) then my husband came to me and said he was ready.

Hmmmm. I wasn’t sure I was ready.

I liked the life we had built. So we let another year or so go by. So now we were finally on the same page and we ready to go. Here comes the fun part of having a baby. Ready, set, go……..

We tried and tried and tried. Was there something wrong? This started my emotional roller coaster with the standard first step: a magic little pill called Clomid. A few months of this magic pill and still nothing. I think I may have gotten the pills without the magic.

Then the next step was to have a hysterosalpingogram.

A what????

It is a procedure where they shoot dye up your vagina to evaluate if your female parts are open. Yup, mine are all open.

While you are popping drugs and undergoing procedures, people are suggesting you relax, don’t think about it, and it will happen. How could I do that when most mornings I got to pee on a stick to monitor if I was ovulating? It is not as easy as one may think. There is always that morning where the stick starts to change colors, but it doesn’t change all the way. Then you have to make a decision: sex or no sex? Am I ovulating or not? I am indecisive by nature and now I have to make a decision whether or not the color has changed on my stick. What if I make the wrong choice and waste grade A sperm (that has been saved up the last couple of days) and make the wrong decision?

The pills and the magic sticks were the first steps toward our sex lives becoming a job, and this was only the beginning. Of course every time we had to have sex was when I really had no desire or we were exhausted. It became more of a chore and not a spontaneous act between two people who loved each other. That is when we coined the term “quick poke” which was also known as a “QP.” I will admit there were times when after our “QP” I often found myself going to sleep with pillows under my pelvis to help those poor little sperm swim toward my very wanting uterus.

After about two years of scheduled sex, pill popping, and peeing on sticks, I made a conscious decision to switch fertility doctors. This was hard because I really liked my doctor and her staff, but there was something I disagreed with her about. I had a feeling that I had endometriosis and that was a possibility for us not getting pregnant. My doctor felt that it was possible; however she did not believe that if I had endometriosis it would lessen my chances of getting pregnant. I had this “gut” feeling which started the thought of maybe I should switch doctors.

Shortly after meeting with a new fertility specialist, I had laparoscopic surgery for my endometriosis. It turned out that I had a moderately high percent of it. Well OK then….now those little swimmers will be able to finally stick to my uterus. I am all cleaned out and I felt like this could be a new beginning. I bought a new box of sticks and my husband and I got back on the scheduled sex train.

After another three or four months of not getting pregnant with just the usual sex and ovulation sticks, we decided to advance on the “you are not pregnant yet” schematic. Next were the injectables and IUIs. My mind was spinning between what drugs to take, how much of that drug to take, when my appointments were, and of course when we should and should not have sex. But we thought that of course this is going to work now that we are taking my husband’s sperm and “cleaning it up” and turkey basting it into me.

After months and months and a large sum of money (I can’t even think about it) we had our last consult with our doctor. We had a decision whether or not to take our last step on the infertility schematic or go toward a different option and adopt.

When I would get my period, I had a “heads up.” I wouldn’t feel good: I was crampy, and I was eating everything in sight. The hard thing was not getting my period; it was having to tell my husband I got it. Even though I knew it was not my fault, some how I could not help but to feel like I did something wrong, again. At this point I was physically and mentally tapped out. I could not do this any more.

We took a few months off and revised our plan to have a family. We decided we were going to adopt. We felt refreshed because even though this may be a long process, there was going to be a baby at the end. We wanted to do our homework to become more educated. So we went to some open houses at three different adoption agencies. We talked with people and listened to their adoption stories. We were becoming more and more educated about the process and more excited about this different adventure.

Until we were at our last meeting with an adoption counselor and she asked if we ever considered adopting an embryo.

Adopting an embryo? What’s that?

And that is when the spark to get pregnant started all over again. Through this entire process, I always wished that I could go through the process of being pregnant. We figured there is no reason I should have never gotten pregnant. We were always told we both had good “stuff” (sperm and eggs).

We decided to try the one last thing that was recommended. So after months of being off fertility drugs and having an emotional vacation from all the drugs we decided to try IVF. We packed our bags and took a trip to The Cleveland Clinic for our procedure. It was the best experience. They extracted seven viable eggs. The embryologist placed my husband’s grade A sperm and BAM, we had seven embryos. For three days the embryologists would call us and let us know how “they” were progressing and how many cells had divided. Could this possibly work? After those three days, the doctor placed two embryos in my uterus. We had to wait one and half weeks and I went to the doctor for a pregnancy test. My husband surprised me and took the day off from work. I got the phone call from the clinic the next day. We were pregnant.

After all the emotions, the money, and the heartache we have an instant family. We now have beautiful, healthy boy/girl twins. We could not have planned that better.

Happy nearly New Year

We have one last scheduled post in the December fertility series!

Please stop by tomorrow to read the final installment of the group. It is a story you shouldn’t miss.

Then, we return to snark, sarcasm, offensive language and cracking ourselves up. We soon shall return to posts that really made ODM what it is. We ain’t forgettin’ our bread-n-butter, yo.

And, it looks like February will be all about sex, everyone. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we will be offering a Sex-After-Kids mini-series. If any of you is interested in Guest Posting, please let us know through Facebook.

Happy holidays!

Merry, Merry 12 Days ’12

O. M. G.

Check me out, y’all.

I am being featured over at Momma Be Thy Name in the annual “Momma’s 12 Days” contest.

Head over there to read my post:  “Singing (So I Don’t Cry)” to get out of your funk and get into the holiday spirit, ODM-style.

Sure, your in-laws are coming over in a few days and your house will never be clean enough to avoid sarcastic commentary.  And, your sister-in-law is a bitch any time of year in any home or location.  But, silly Christmas posts are fun.  And, you can win prizes.

Yup.  Prizes, dudes.

What are you waiting for?

DO IT!

You know you wanna.

Sentimental and introspective (just for now)

I kind of want to learn conversational Spanish.  And Sign Language.  Just because I feel as though these things might make me more interesting.

I’d also like to say that I’ve been skydiving, though I am not sure I actually want to go skydiving.  And, I would really like to get my PhD. and learn how to drive stick.

Someday, I want to visit Greece.  And, I would like to have an idea of mine patented.

I want to learn to tap dance.

Tell 'em, Red.

Tell ’em, Red.

Some days I am afraid that I am living a bit of a hollow existence.  Now, being a wife, mother, teacher, friend, daughter, neighbor, doggy mamma and spectacular driver are all really great and all.  But, if I were on my death bed right at this moment, I don’t know if I’d feel satisfied that I’d led a life well-lived.  I don’t know if my life is interesting.

Now, people with attitude problems all over the place might get all pissy and leave comments about how a real mom would be satisfied simply with her role as a mother.  It is the most important job in the world.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.

It is important.  I am thankful every day for the gifts I have been given.  My children are amazing.  And probably awesomer than your kids, anyway.

But, every once in a while I wonder which of my dreams I am letting die because I am watching America’s Next Top Model instead of learning expert knife skills at the local culinary institute.  I have a bucket list.  That bucket list itself is dying.  I am getting too old to learn how to surf now.  And, I think every so often about how many more things will simply never get crossed off of that list because I can’t leave my house since my kids are sleeping upstairs.  And, toddlers aren’t welcome at Knife Class.

I know that the simple answer to all of this is just to get off my ass and start crossing things off of that list.  But, as any responsible parent and working adult will tell you, doing things that are just for YOU isn’t something that happens too often for many of us.  I am certainly not deprived.  And, I have a good life, but I still haven’t ever tried a ridiculously expensive glass of wine or run a 5K.  No.  Really.  RUN.  The whole way.  And, that makes me just a little sad.

You Shaw it here first, people.

You Shaw it here first, people.

I wish I could go back and tell the younger me to live it up a little more.  Everyone tells you to be so responsible, save your money, get a good job, buy a home, settle down.  But, not enough people tell you to have fun, get drunk, laugh, make a memory, take a funny picture of a friend at the base of the Eiffel Tower at 3 AM, sleep in, and own your stupid 2-seater dream car before you have to become an exhausted, minivan-driving, in-bed-at-10:00 grown-up.

As I sit today on the eve of the beginning of Off Duty Mom’s series on fertility issues we’re featuring via Guest Bloggers this month, I realize the seeming hypocrisy of it all.  I blog and crab and complain about how tough it is to be a parent.  Yet, I sat in doctor’s offices for YEARS where I cried and blamed God and cursed and puked because I was incapable of carrying a baby to term.  And now, I have brought two amazing young angels into the world.  And I still cry and whine and curse.  And I blubber about how I wish someone would give me the time to travel to Scotland or learn how to skateboard.

Nevertheless, I realize that we all feel as though we’re missing something sometimes.  We all wonder if life would just be better IF

And, at the end of the day we all have something that we take for granted, but that someone else is wishing and hoping to have.

Starting tomorrow, we will publish our first in the series of guest posts about issues of pregnancy, adoption, fertility and miscarriage.  Some of the posts are funny.  Some are heartbreaking.  Some are touching.  Some are uplifting.  I encourage you to check back often throughout December to read all of the posts.

Then, in January, I will stop being introspective, sappy, thoughtful and melancholy.  Off Duty Mom will return to tackle important issues such as the classical philosophy of Handy Manny, bathtub turds,  toddler beauty pageants, gray hairs, and public drunkenness.

Tune in tomorrow, though, for our very first (and very funny) installment in our December series from Pile of Babies author, Meredith Bland.

To be (myself) or not to be (and bake cookies from scratch insead)

Since becoming a mother, I have grown.

I mean, I haven’t grown UP, per se, nor have I really become a better person, truthfully.  But, I have learned a thing or two about a thing or two.

Several months ago, I came to terms with the kind of mother I really was, regardless of the kind of mother I might hope or wish to be.  And in the time since, I have found great humor in re-learning over and over (sometimes the hard way) who I really was.

Totally.

However, I find myself still wondering how to reconcile who I am versus who I think the world wants all of us moms to be.

Before having kids, I worried that I would make a lousy mother because I never really liked to play in the yard, get dirty, crawl on the floor, make baby talk, design handprint turkey paintings or use Play Doh.

It turns out that I still don’t like any of those things.  I mean, have you ever SMELLED Play Doh?  Jesus.

But, I really feel as though I will rock at tailgating for varsity football games, hosting sleepovers, chaperoning dances and giving advice to wayward teenagers whose own moms aren’t cool enough to tell about experiments with Zima and Jolly Ranchers or about brewing girl feuds on Instagram.

I don’t know why the Universe didn’t just allow me to give birth to 14-year olds.  I don’t know what to do with my children until that point.  Right now they are running around the room using a remote control and an old telephone to “zap” one another in some sort of faux galactic war.  I don’t really know how to take part in this.  But, they seem fine without me taking part in it at all.  Some piece of my heart, though, tells me that I am supposed to pick up that hairbrush over there, tell them that it is the ultimate celestial laser launch rocket that was invented to destroy the galactic war once and for all, run after my tiny fighting space pirates, and declare my interstellar victory as we all fall, laughing, into a pile of pillows and stuffed bears.  I could pretend, but in the end, this is just not who I am at my core.

So, I wonder if I am supposed to fake it.  Or if I am supposed to just go ahead and be me.  I want to be the awesome fun mom who dresses in a superhero cape or mentions building a snowman before the kids do.  But, I wonder if this is contrary to what I have been teaching my children about how to be honest about themselves.

IS this really what most be “above all” else?

The lessons I teach my children about being true to themselves, I believe, is one of the most critical lessons I can give them.  Am I supposed to follow my own advice or do a “better” job at being “better” with kids?  And, what does that really mean, anyway?

I know that no matter what I do, my children will eventually end up blaming me for something in some therapy session years down the road.  That’s what we all end up doing, anyway, right?  But, I would like to think that I did everything I could to send the right messages, be the right example and provide the best childhood for them that I could.

That’s a Wilde thought for ya.

Until then, I am going to go find my youngest kid some rainboots so that we can all go for a walk and splash in puddles.  I will probably whine on the inside that I am cold and dirty and cranky.  But, the kids will have smiles.  And, tomorrow, I can figure out whether I need to learn how to make Christmas ornaments out of pipe cleaners and Cheerios or not.

The clock is ticking, y’all!

If you are still considering guest-posting with Off Duty Mom for the December series on fertility, time is running out.

We are still searching for three more stories about families, couples or individuals who have all types of stories about infertility, miscarriage, premature births, in vitro procedures, and all manner of struggles and triumphs relating to baby-makin’.

Help us to make this series a success! Guest posts can be short or long; funny, touching or heartbreaking. We are open to all of it. You can stay anonymous if you’d like, even.

Too many of us know how difficult it is to start and maintain a family. If we share stories, though, more of us may come to realize that we are not alone.

Join us, won’t you?

Check out the Guest Posting page here or visit us on Facebook to submit your story.

Thanks!

Happiness, Snark and the “F” Word

I have spent about a decade and a half as a real, honest-to-goodness, working adult.  In that time, I have stayed in the same general field of education, but have worked in four very different positions in two very different school systems.

And I have complained about every job I have had.

And, of course, at a certain point, I do have to ask whether it is the job that sucks or whether it just might be me.

It is an awfully shitty moment when, as a grown-up, you realize that it isn’t everyone and everything else out there that needs to be fixed.  All the jobs in all the world can’t be awful.  Maybe it ain’t the JOBS that are the problem.

Crud.

So, what does one do when one is punched in the throat with the hot, sloppy mitts of Reality?

If “one” is “me,” then “one” makes inappropriate jokes, becomes sarcastic to a fault and hides behind the thin veil of snark and other condescention.

I don’t know about you, but I use humor as a defense mechanism.  The problem with this is that everyone just thinks, then, that I am a snotty bitch.  I, however, think that I am hilarious.  I think I know how Joan Rivers must feel.  If she can feel anything with all that plastic shit in her face.

 
See?  There I go again.

And, so I am left with trying to figure out a better coping skill here.  Throwing around ill-crafted jokery and f-bombs isn’t, in the end, really making me feel that much better.

I take that back.  It does make me feel better.  Plenty better, really.

But, it doesn’t make me HAPPY.  And, I wonder what happiness IS, even.  Not that I’ve never felt it, but I don’t know that I understand it in the way someone like John Stuart Mill or Martin Heidegger would have.

By the way, I am sure that my 200-level philosophy professor will come across this blog post one day and totally take back that “D” he gave me in 1996 because I referenced two dead guys above that I am sure he talked about in class.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I was probably hung over.

Anywho, I am now on the hunt.  I am in search of an explanation as to why I can’t settle my ass into a job, stay put for more than a handful of years, stop complaining about it, eventually retire and move to Tahiti already.  I constantly feel unsettled.  I feel as though I need to “find myself.”  Whatever the crap that means.  I question everyday what I am supposed to do with my life.  Then I make a lame joke about it all.

So, if you are working in a field or at a place that is just amazeballs, I would love to hear about it.  And, hear about when they’ll be interested in hiring a quirky misanthropic wannabe writer.  If you identify with feeling a little lost (despite being all grown up and being of an age when you are totally supposed to have your shit all figured out), let me know I am not alone.

In the mean time, I think there are some bad drivers I haven’t flicked off yet today, so I better hop to it.

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