Mama I Will Be

I’ve thought A LOT about what I want to do when all the kids are in school, I still have a little under four years to decide.
 
I need creativity in my life somehow. I still think freelancing in journalism is the best fit. It would let me work in graphic arts AND write. But I also want to keep sewing. So maybe I can find a job for a crafting magazine or at least steady freelance work in that area.
 
I need a degree. The curriculum for the early childhood associates degree is a bit different from when I was in school a few years ago, instead of the ONE semester I had left, I’d be looking at another year or more to finish a degree I’m not sure I want. Unless I want to try being a teacher’s assistant part-time, or subbing. It looks like most schools require you to drive a bus if you’re a TA now-a-days and I’m not doing that. Have you seen me drive a car? Bahaha, no buses in my future.
 
I do know that once they’re all in school, I’m still their mama. I will still need to be present to help with speech therapy, homework, extra curricular activities. And while the inner girl who still wants to be a rock star has fought it, I’ll probably end up being a PTO mom. Because darn it, I do care about this stuff. I care about ALL OF IT.MamaIWIllBe
 
I will still need to be available to my kids as I have always been. That’s my main ‘career’, mama! I’ve seen how far my kids can go when I immerse myself in their lives and it’s worth it. Do I get a salary? No, but I’m making a difference in this world. Yes, B’s speech therapists and his teachers play a big role in his success. But, so do I. He and I have sat at our kitchen table, sometimes both working through tears, to master new words, blends, fine motor tasks. I have seen my son’s eyes LIGHT UP when he finally gets what we’ve worked so hard at. That wouldn’t happen without a parent there to help it happen, it wouldn’t.
 
So, where ever I land, it’s going to be with them first. These children will be grown so quickly. Ya know, then, I might write that book I’ve always wanted to. I may never get to retire because this world won’t count my years of being a stay-at-home towards social security or any of that. I’ll know that I had value, even when I had no monetary contribution to give. My children will know too.
 
Scoff at me, call my old fashion. But mama was, and is, and has always been my calling. It has been the one thing I have striven for from the get go. Infertility,miscarriage, I BEAT THAT. I beat that so many times to get these three. And they were worth it. They may leave me tired, frustrated, almost hollow some days. More often, they leave me laughing, filled with love, and joy. No career will give me that. I was built to be ‘mama’. And so mama I will be.
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When Babies Aren’t Babies Anymore

Today, it hit me. I’ve been a mom for over five years, but today I finally got it.
 
For some reason I’ve never been able to envision my children as more than ‘babies’. I’m fully aware that they grow, but in my mind, they are and were always going to stay babies. My five-year old had a little exercise to do on what he might want to be when he grows up. So I asked him and he told me very bluntly and clearly that he wants to be a police officer so he can carry a gun and catch the ‘bad guys’. Now I hear about bad guys every single day from my son. He is an avid superhero lover and loves nothing more than to tell me what superhero he is and how is going to fight those ‘bad guys’. I always just thought of this as play, I never realized he might be doing adult work and thinking about how this play equates to life. I should have, he is a smart boy and like his mama he is alllll about analogies and comparisons. This small child is figuring out this world, whether I’m ready for it or not.
 
He and I had a chat about police officers, their guns, and those bad guys. I am not ready to tell him that the bad guys in the real world don’t carry weapons that shoot freezing webs, that the things they do are far worse than what he sees in all his superhero movies. But part of me knows that this precious boy who I was still seeing as my baby probably already knows more of it than I wish he did. We talked about how police officers might also help those who don’t have as much as others. I showed him articles about real police officers doing toy drives for needy children or helping a mom or dad who couldn’t afford a car seat get one. And he grinned. He grinned so big telling me he’d like to help too. That’s when I broke.
 
Boy to ManThat’s when my heart burst in sadness and happiness all at once. I’m raising a little boy, but I’m raising him to be a man. A man I pray for every single day. An honest, caring, loving, smart man who will do things to make so many proud while making this world a better place. I pray daily for my children’s health, their happiness, and the strength to be the mother they need. I pray that he beats speech apraxia and that he accomplishes much. But I never think about him as an adult. At least I didn’t until today when my mind finally broke that baby mold I’d placed him in. I could see him, my baby, as an equal. Not a child, not my baby, but my grown son. I knew then that I’d always pray, that I’d always be worried and hopeful for him. That it would never stop and only grow. It also meant I’d get to experience his triumphs and joys. Not just the first steps and the conquering of a speech disorder, but a graduation, a true love, a JOB. Today I got it.
 
I always knew that police officers, doctors, firemen, military, etc all had dangerous jobs. They do, whether it be guns or disease they fight against, they put their lives at risks. I never looked at these people as someone’s son or daughter. I knew they were and I was grateful they had the bravery to put themselves out there so wholly to help others, but I never got that behind all of them, there was likely a terrified mama. A mama who was so proud but so scared of what her child was doing. A mama who stayed up at night worried, wishing just maybe that child was sitting behind a desk in an office instead.
 
I have no idea what my children will grow up to be. My only thought is that they grow to be good. That they’re kind to others and have morals and values and that they love. I’m lucky enough that one of them also has more bravery in his youth than I probably have as an adult. Somehow, I’m doing something right and I hope they continue down that right path. For all those terrified mamas behind the brave, the good – thank you. I don’t know how you do it, but thank you for raising courageous good souls who add beauty to this world instead of marring it.

Sewing Inspiration: Fat Quarter Shorts

My absolute favorite thing to sew is children’s clothing.  It’s small, it begs to be cute, and it’s fun!

I make my children a lot of light weight pants from cotton fat quarters.  The elastic waist is potty training and cloth diaper friendly and they’re super comfortable for all the moving around and playing kids love to do.

Here’s a little sewing inspiration from my Sunday sewing…

FQPants2

FQShorts

Being Happy As The Parent You Are

There was a time in my life when I couldn’t imagine anything more fulfilling than being a mother.  I longed desperately to be a mother and finally, finally got my wish.  A struggle with infertility had made being a mother feel like the only thing I needed to be complete.  And for a while, it was.

Before ChildrenBefore having children, I worked full-time.  I enjoyed working and had no intentions of becoming a stay-at-home-mom.  However, once my oldest son was finally here and those weeks were speeding by to the end of my leave, I realized that I just couldn’t leave him.  I trusted the daycare providers we had chosen and visited, but there was a strong bond between my heart and this new being’s that pulled me ever so close to him.  There was no way I would be returning to work.  That was just over four years ago and I’m now a stay-at-home-mom to TWO little boys.  My boys are still young, but they are no longer babies.  They are capable of playing independently for longer stretches of time and I’m no longer caught up in bottles, naps, and mountains of diapers and spit-up laundry.  I’m still quite busy being their mother, but I’m often not nearly as content as I was in those first three years.

Occupation of MotherBeing a stay-at-home-mom has awarded me the luxury of witnessing so many of my children’s firsts.  I saw first steps, crawls, rolls, laughs, words.  I’ve watched fine motor skills become more precise and language skills flourish.  I’ve watched my children began to discover just who they are and what they enjoy in life.  It has truly been miraculous.  When they were infants and still loved to nap, I reintroduced myself to sewing and learned that my talents and passion for it were stronger than I’d remembered.  I learned to crochet, cook from scratch, and grow a garden.  I became an advocate for living more naturally and frugally.  I learned to help moms learn to cloth diaper and embrace more natural products.  My children not only brought me (and my family) joy, they brought me back to life.  They were an awakening I hadn’t known I’d needed.  It’s almost painful for me to look back on a life before them because there was always such a strong emptiness with me back then.  There was always anger covering a pain where my soul was aching for these little beings that I didn’t even know yet.  There was part of me there…but my kids brought back the rest of me.

Love Yourself MamaI love being able to stay home with my kids.  We make sacrifices so that I can be so involved in their lives and I truly wouldn’t change that.  I would be lying though if I told you that it still left me totally and completely fulfilled as a person.  I wish it did!  I know mothers who are truly content and happy being ‘just’ moms and I admire them so much.  While my children changed me for the better, I am and will always continue to be an individual.  My own wants and desires did not fade to black when the occupation of mother was added to my résumé.  I am very proud of the me who was so content and happy staying home and devoting her every being to the care and love of her children.  I’m still that mom, but one wants to add in parts of my old self once again.  After all, isn’t melding parts of our old and new how we evolve into something better?

We all too often doubt who we are as mothers.  We shouldn’t.  Whether we’re the mom who is juggling a career and motherhood, the mom whose whole life is staying home, or the mom whose found a balance somewhere between – we should embrace the parents we are today.  We won’t get to relive these moments, we won’t get do overs.  If we’re teaching our children to love and we’re loving them back, we’ve got at least part of it right.  Love yourself mama, your kids already do.

Parenting Without Judgment

My social media feeds are always filled with moms or things about parenting.  Mom friends, mom blogs, parenting sites, parenting products…I’m bombarded with motherhood all day every day, even when I’m taking a ‘break’ from my own children.  Most days, this is what I enjoy.  I was born wanting to be a mother.  I nurtured baby dolls from a young age and was overjoyed to finally get a baby cousin when I was older.  I even pursued a degree in Early Childhood Education.  I would say for many years, I was a bit obsessed with children.

What You Don't SeeThen I had my own.  And yes, they are snuggly, often sweet, and always irreplaceable.  I still love hearing about other people’s children and I still find pregnancy and infancy fascinating.  Yet, as I sit here in my third pregnancy, I can say that after this baby, I think I am ready to close the chapter on ‘baby obsession’.  I feel like I have fulfilled all the wants of motherhood, babydom, and ‘pregnancy euphoria’ that I could handle.

I am by far not the same person who gave birth to my oldest son almost four years ago.  While some of me has remained the same, much of what I have experienced and learned has changed me.  There is no more wild-eyed curiosity at all things baby.  I no longer wish to stroll through baby stores and baby departments for hours.  Almost every baby thing I need is packed away downstairs in my basement.  Yes, I am excited to see my new little bean on the ultrasound screen.   I am excited to feel s/he kick and move.  To find out the sex, nail down a name.  I’m more scared of delivery now than I ever was.  After hemorrhaging on the delivery table twice, I’m left a bit scared of what’s to come.  Granted, my doctors and nurses were amazing.  The bleeding was stopped, I did not get dizzy until I stood up afterwards to pee, and I required no transfusion.  So things went really well for me.  But, hemorrhaging is still scary.  Especially when you have two little ones already and tend to be the type of person who reads up on every potential bad outcome…  It’s scary.

I spent yesterday in a horribly melancholy mood.  As I scrolled through my social media feeds, I saw moms doing fun things with their kids.  I saw birth announcements, newborn cloth diapers.  I saw moms praising their children, some lamenting.  Normally when I feel like I’m not being the best mother, those posts about what crafts, perfect outfits, or nutritious meals other mother’s children are having make me feel bad.  Yet somehow, yesterday, they didn’t.  

Measure WorthMy children weren’t doing anything fancy.  They played with scented stickers, watched some shows about letters and learning to read.  They built forts, played mailmen, and chased our cat.  We had peanut butter crackers and graham crackers for lunch.  Yes, I let them drink juice and no, nothing was organic.  We even had super, not healthy pizza for dinner and boy did we gobble it up!  I wasn’t ‘exceeding’ any expectations yesterday, but I didn’t let myself feel the mom guilt I so often do. Why?  Four years of parenting has taught me this…

What you don’t see in those photos of moms with manicured nails, perfect hair, and NOT in their pajamas, is that they have dirty piles of laundry too. There’s a room in their house where toys likely cover the floor.  They have days they aren’t taking photos where they get stuck in their yoga pants and ill-fitting t-shirts just like me.  While we love to take pictures of craft time, learning time, and ‘good’ days, we’re not taking photos of tantrums.  We’re not taking photos of us crying in the bathroom because it’s Thursday afternoon and we’re lonely, tired, and need a break.  There are rarely photos of poop explosions, crayon walls, and food covered kitchen floors.  Yet these things make up parenting just as much, if not more so, than the other things.  

My transition from idealistic motherhood to the real life thing was not easy.  Find a mom who says it is, and I’ll bet she has a full-time nanny.  The more I let my children guide me and let go of the expectations to be ‘perfect’ – the more we thrive.  I don’t measure my worth as a mother by what other people, or other mothers, think of me.  I don’t care if you bottle feed, breast feed, cloth diaper, baby wear, work, stay home, eat organic, vaccinate, or live off easy meals.  What I care about is that you love your children.  That you provide for them.  That you teach them what it means to have love, respect, and compassion for our world and the people in it.  I don’t devalue you if you need help from SNAP or WIC, we’ve all needed help at some point and it does not determine your worth as a parent or a human.  I don’t care if you home school, public school, or send your kids to private school.  Just teach them, in whatever way you can.  

Stop JudgingThe point is, all these little things that others choose to judge us for – they don’t matter.  What matters is that our children grow up loved, educated, and nourished.  There won’t always be good days and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If every day were filled with rainbows and lollipops, we wouldn’t learn.  If we received everything we ever wanted, we’d know nothing of value, respect, and hard work.  

Motherhood took off my blinders.  The world isn’t always nice and pretty and there are certainly people in it who are out to destroy any piece of happiness and contentment you offer yourself.  However, you don’t have to let others judgment change you.  You don’t have to take it to heart.  In turn, you don’t have to be the one who judges.  

If you see a mom who looks like she needs a hug, offer her one.  Offer the mom with two kids just trying to do her grocery shopping a hand, not judgment.  Play peek-a-boo and make her kid laugh, it doesn’t take much effort.  Stop rolling your eyes at the whining toddler, the crying baby.  It’s stressful enough without a stranger’s judgment.  Don’t sigh and make a scene when you get behind a mom or dad using WIC in the checkout line.  Think about how you would feel if you had to humble yourself to ask for help to feed your baby.  I guarantee you, it isn’t easy and they are doing what they need to do to make sure their child has what they need.  Don’t turn your nose up at the kids munching happily on nuggets and fries.  You don’t know their daily eating habits or how long of a day their parent(s) may have had.  

Stop judging and start respecting your fellow human-beings…  Stop judging yourself and embrace the world through the eyes of your child.  They’re too young to care about those things that we place our value in.  They see your value in its truest terms – how you treat yourself and how you treat others.  As parents, that’s a lesson we would do well to learn.

Storing Dirty Cloth Diapers

Storing Dirty Cloth DiapersOne of the biggest deterrents to trying something new is not understanding it.  There’s a misconception that cloth diapering is time-consuming and complicated.  It’s not, doesn’t have to be at all.  Today we’ll talk a bit about storing dirty cloth diapers until wash day.  How often do you HAVE to wash?  Generally you should wash every 2-3 days and between washes your dirties will need to stay in a pail or wet bag.

Diaper Pails

Even if  you’ve never cloth diapered, I’m sure you know what a diaper pail is.  Disposable diapers often have their own pails and the same can be said for cloth.  Diaper pails don’t have to be fancy.  I use a flip top trashcan…it’s really that simple.  I don’t use a pail liner in my pail.  Instead I clean and disinfect it after I dump my diapers into the washer.

Pail liners can make diaper laundry easier, especially if the diaper pail you’re using is difficult for you to lift, or would need to be carried up or down stairs to the laundry room.  If you’re going to use a pail liner, I would recommend having at least two.  This way you can wash the dirty pail liner with your load of diapers and switch to a clean one while your diapers wash.  Of course, if you have more in rotation, your liners will last longer because they won’t be going through as many washes.

Pail liners will either have an elastic top to hug the pail or a drawstring.  You can even purchase them in antibacterial versions.

Hanging Wet Bags

Another convenient way to store dirty cloth diapers is a hanging wet bag.  These can be hung over a door knob, towel rack, or any hook to make storage convenient.  If you’re changing diapers in a few different rooms or on different stories of a house, hanging wet bags can be great.  They don’t take up much space and transporting them to the washer is super easy.

The Grovia Perfect Pail can turn any hanger into a diaper pail.  The top self-closes so you can easily drop in your dirty diaper and forget about it until wash day.  The bottom is nice and sturdy and even unzips to make emptying into the wash a breeze.

The nice thing about wet bags is that you just dump the diapers into the washer and throw the wet bag in too.  Easy peasy!

Before You Store

Storing dirty cloth diapers really isn’t much different from storing dirty disposable diapers.  As a bonus, they aren’t going into a landfill.  Dirty cloth diapers are really just laundry.  Before you throw your poopy diapers in the pail or wet bag, dump the solids into the toilet.  Having a diaper sprayer can help you get as much poop as possible off the diapers before you store them for wash day.  You may also want to hand rinse your night diapers before storing for wash day because it helps keep ammonia at bay.  Just rinse, squeeze, and throw in the pail/bag.  The SprayPal keeps you from touching the poop/pee at all.

What About The Smell?

Diaper pails and wet bags that breath generally don’t generate a lot of icky smell.  The smell is typically contained in the pail or bag.  If you really want to make sure your pail is as odor free as possible, you can use a bit of baking soda or a pail deodorizer just as you would in a disposable diaper pail.  Another bonus of cloth?  You’re flushing the poop down the toilet and poop isn’t sitting in your diaper creating extra stink in the first place.  A cloth diaper pail will rarely, if ever, smell as rank as a disposable diaper pail.  Trust me, I’ve used both and I much prefer cloth.

I hope this has helped debunk any myths you’ve heard about how complicated cloth diapers are.  At least when it comes to storage.  You can browse through our other cloth diaper articles to see how easy cloth can be.  Have a question about cloth?  Leave a comment or shoot us an email, we’d be happy to help answer any cloth questions you have!

*This post contains some affiliate links to one of my favorite cloth diaper retailers, Kelly’s Closet.  It also contains my 100% honest, unbiased opinions as a mom who has used cloth diapers on two children over the last 2.5 years.

How Being a Stay-At-Home-Mom Is Different Than I Imagined

Being A SAHM Is Different Than I ImaginedBefore I became a stay-at-home parent I had my own preconceived notions about what being one meant.  I assumed that laundry was always caught up, houses clean, and there was a bit of leisure time once everything for the children was done.  Clearly, I had never been alone in a home with an infant or toddler before.  While some of my uneducated guesses did ring true, many did not.  Here are the ways that my life as a stay-at-home mom is much different from what I imagined.

  1. Cleaning My Home
    Before I had my first son, I could get away with cleaning the house about once a week.  We’d fill up the dishwasher  a couple times a week and I might have to run the vacuüm twice.  I only really had to mop maybe once a month.  In short, we weren’t really home enough to mess the house up much so it more or less stayed clean all the time.
    When I brought my newborn home, I was amazed at how many bottles he went through in a day and how long it took me to clean them. I was washing bottles in the morning and at night, mountains of bottles.  Our breastfeeding plans didn’t work out and I hated all this bottle washing.  There were also burp cloths littered all over the living room, his bed room.  He wasn’t even able to crawl or sit up, but he was already changing my tidy home into a messy one that I couldn’t keep up with.

    When he was a bigger baby, my house did stay remarkably clean until I got pregnant with his brother and was almost too sick to move from the couch for the first several months. Now that I have a toddler and a preschooler, hahaha.  Our house is clean, it isn’t always tidy.

  2. Laundry
    Honestly speaking, this one didn’t change much for me when I first became aS AHM because I was no longer washing my work clothes and my ‘normal’ clothes.  The babies laundry sort of took the place of my work clothes so the laundry was more or less the same.  I did laundry on Fridays or Saturdays and didn’t do it again for a week.  When I started cloth diapering my son at fifteen months, I added in a load of diapers 3 or 4 times a week.

    Then we brought home our second baby and wow.  I don’t know how that changed the laundry dynamic so dramatically, but I now do laundry at least every other day.  There is one thing I will say, our laundry room always smells like fresh laundry.  It isn’t always wrinkle free and my husband now has to pitch in and put a lot of it away, but at least we’re not suffocating under mountains of dirty clothes the way we did in the first few weeks as parents of two.

  3. Utility Bills
    I had no idea that our energy and water usage would increase so dramatically.  Sure, part of that is adding extra humans to your household.  The other part is that now you’re home almost all the time.  My house used to sit empty for nine or ten hours every day.  It is almost never empty now.  Toilets get used more, sinks, appliances.  Our house is certainly lived in now.
  4. Groceries
    I was never one to eat out a lot while at work. I’d pack my breakfast, lunch, and a few snacks.  I worked an hour away from home which meant a two-hour drive daily so I was away from home for about 12-13 hours every single day.  I packed a lot of quick things – cheap, processed things.  I didn’t enjoy eating those things so staying home has allowed me to get back to real food.  Real foods cost more, and we’re feeding more people now.  So, obviously, our grocery bills went up.

    We also spend more on things like hand soap and toilet paper.  The toilet paper was crazy to me at first, I couldn’t figure out why we were going through it 2-3 times faster than before.  You don’t realize how much time you spend at work vs. home and how that even affects how much toilet paper your house goes through.

  5. Downtime
    I assumed being a SAHM would mean I’d get a few more hours of downtime every week.  Time to relax, unwind. Oh man guys, this one slapped me in the face.  Before children, despite working full-time and commuting 10 hours a week, I had a lot of downtime and didn’t realize it.  My husband and I would spend Sundays lounging around the house after a night out on Fridays and Saturdays.  We had a lot of fun, and a lot of lazy Sundays.

    I have not had real downtime since before I went into labor with my son.  In fact, labor was my last downtime.  Seriously, it was the last time I didn’t have something I HAD to be doing chore or kid wise.  Any hobby I do now is multi-tasked with cooking dinner or caring for my children.  Date-nights are few and far between.  And I sit through them thinking oh no, I forgot to tell them where this is.  Oh crap, I left laundry in the washer.  Did I remember to fill up the cat’s bowl?  I mean seriously, there isn’t downtime as a SAHM.  If there is, you’re using it to budget or clean out the kid’s closet.

  6. Money
    Obviously, your finances change in a big way when you quit your job, forfeiting half your income.  I assumed that it was going to be hard.  And at times it has been.  However, if I had continued to work, all but about $200 a month would’ve went towards daycare and my 10 hour weekly commute.  Much of that would have also went into car maintenance.  Our finances were going to change either way and $200 a month wasn’t worth me only seeing my son for a couple of hours a day for me.  By the time I had a second child, I would have paid to work.

    So yes, we have far less money coming in, but we have become better with our money.  We have learned what we can live without and how that often improves our lives instead of hurting it.  We are so rich in love and happiness, we don’t need ‘things’.  Becoming a SAHM taught me a lot about money.  We learned to budget, coupon, thrift/clearance shop, and enjoy the simpler things instead of always wanting a new material possession.  I enjoy what we have learned about money, but never dreamed that being a SAHM would benefit us in this way.

  7. Motherhood
    I did not plan to be a SAHM when I gave birth.  It wasn’t until my son was a few weeks old that I sat down to do the numbers and realized that it might be a better suited option.  I had never dreamed I could be a SAHM.  When a coworker or friend told me they were going to quit their job and stay home, I’d always think, “Well,that must be nice”.  I pictured my children in daycare, and me spending all my free time with them.  I saw them learning at daycare and playing at home.  I thought SAHMs must spend all day doing ‘lessons’ and have a little preschool set up in their homes.  Maybe some SAHMs do this, and I commend them.

    My children spend much of their days playing.  I do formalized lessons with my preschooler once or twice a day, but much of their learning is through play.  We read, do flashcards, learn shapes, but we don’t have ‘school’.  I pictured myself as the mother who was always doing crafts and learning activities, perhaps bouncing through play groups, but it isn’t me.  I am not the mother I pictured.  Sure, we do some of those things.  But we don’t do them all the time.  Some days I am just trying to float and not drown in all my responsibilities as mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend.

    I’m not one of those super moms.  I’m a normal mom.  I love my kids, I want the best for them, and I do my best to give them a good foundation.  I value lessons in love, support, and acceptance far more than lessons in math and science.  Reading to my children while I snuggle them is one of my favorite things.  There is no chalkboard in my kitchen as I imagined.  There is a tidy box of workbooks, flash cards, and boxes full of crafts that we don’t touch every day.  I’m not the mother I envisioned, but I don’t hate the mother that I have become.

  8. Meals
    I assumed that stay-at-home parents prepared nice meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I thought, hey, they’re home, they have the time.  Oh boy.  Why didn’t any of these SAHPs that I knew warn me?  They probably enjoyed watching me those first few months as I struggled to get my teeth brushed and find time to get out of pajamas (it didn’t always happen).  I did prepare nice meals when I had one infant.  Once he got more mobile it got challenging.

    Once I was pregnant, had a toddler, and sick as a dog, I’m not sure I cooked a ‘nice’ meal for months.  My husband handled dinner while I tried to eat anything that wouldn’t leave me sick.  Some nights I cook something nice and some nights we do easy.  My kids prefer cereal for breakfast.  And their favorite lunch time fare includes things like peanut butter crackers, grilled cheese, and chicken nuggets.  I can do fresh-baked breads, stews, and decadent desserts.  Alas, I forgot that SAHPs have KIDS, who normally prefer something simpler.

  9. Friends
    The hardest part of staying home for me is friends.  I feel like I never see mine and I lost so many when I stopped working.  It stung and hurt like hell to see friendships melting away into nothing.  I cried many tears and then I realized there wasn’t much I could do except try to reconnect or just let it go.  I thought staying home meant I would have more time to spend with them.  I do, but they’re at work.  And I can’t cart my kids around to concerts or drag them out on Friday nights.  Sure, I can get a sitter now and again.  I cannot predict a fever or a sitter cancelling.  People without kids don’t always get that.  I miss my friends.  I miss concerts, late nights just talking.  I miss messaging back and forth at work, having friends over for sporting events, just because, or just laughing over dumb things that don’t matter.  I would love for these people to come back into our lives and realize we’re not that different from our pre-kid days, in fact we’re way more laid back and fun.  We still listen to loud music, enjoy concerts, and yes, I still have a potty mouth and a sense of humor.  I miss being more than someone’s mother…

    The flip side of this is the amazing mom friends I have made.  They are fiercely supportive and caring.  While most of our chatting is done online, they are a lifeline I didn’t know I needed.  They have seen me through late night fevers, nursing troubles, postpartum blues, depression, and anxiety.  I never expected to form these bonds and friendships with these women, many whom I’ve never met in person, but I am grateful that I did.

  10. Family
    Naturally, your view of family changes when you have children.  I think I had a close family before I had children and started staying home, but my open schedule has allowed me the freedom to grow closer to my family.  I have bonds with them I didn’t have before.  I can swing by for lunch dates, pop in on their days off, or have a little day trip that I never could’ve done without lots of planning while I worked.  I didn’t fully expect or anticipate how much closer we’d grow.  My extended family is amazing.  My children are so loved and cherished.  And I feel as though I could never repay all the kindness and support my extended family has offered to my little family.
  11. View of Self
    I never realized how much my view of myself would change as a SAHM. I thought I would just be blissfully happy to spend my days in my home with my children.  There have been times that I felt worthless.  I have gone through periods where I felt like my lack of financial contribution and professional status meant I didn’t mean much to anyone.  I have been reminded of all that I do contribute and do to keep our family running and happy.  It has taken time for me to see this and value myself and what I do.

    I have a confidence in myself I did not before.  I also know that I have limits and imperfections like everyone.  I know that my value is not tied to how much money I make or what job title I have.  That’s a lesson I probably didn’t know I needed, but it has changed my view of the world and myself.

  12. My Marriage
    I am amazed at how much my marriage has grown and changed in the last few years.  Parts of becoming a SAHM were very hard on my marriage – the stress of changing finances and becoming parents can be tough.  There have been dark moments and difficult arguments.  There has also been growth and positive change.  I am even more amazed at how we’ve matured and grown closer.  I love my husband more fiercely now than I did before.  There is no doubt in my mind that I can happily spend forever with him.  We’re more honest, open, and closer than we were.  Parenthood and the changing dynamics of our family fixed something I didn’t know was broken.

Whether parents work or stay-at-home, their lives change.  Each time you bring a new child home, get a new job, even change working hours, your family changes and grows.  Change can be scary, but it can also be beautiful.  I’m supportive of parents who work and stay home.  Both offer challenges and rewards that have to be tailored to each family’s needs.  I’m blessed to have found the balance that works for my own family and to be thriving in our little corner of happiness.

Stay-Dry vs. Natural Fiber Diapers

StayDry Vs NaturalFiber DiapersIn the world of cloth diapers, there are a plethora of fabric options.  Today we’re going to talk about the fibers that line diapers.  Here, we still get several options but they can be broken down into two main categories:  stay-dry and natural fibers.

Stay-dry diapers are almost always lined with synthetic materials.  These materials can vary but are typically microfleece or suede cloth.  These fabrics work by wicking moisture away from baby’s bottom to leave a more stay-dry feeling on the surface.  This is great for babies who are sensitive to moisture and more prone to diaper rashes.  Diapers lined with a stay-dry material can be especially useful for overnight use when babies are often in a diaper for a prolonged period of time.

If you’ve purchased several diapers that didn’t come with a stay-dry inner and you find that the moisture irritates your little one’s skin, you can buy or make stay-dry liners.  The liners are washable and reusable just like the diapers.  They’re typically made of micro-fleece and can simply be laid inside any diaper to give a stay-dry feeling.

Some people prefer to use only natural fiber diapers.  While some natural fiber diapers are topped with a synthetic stay-dry liner, many are not.  Natural fibers are less prone to getting stinky than synthetic fibers.  Natural fibers are typically easier to wash and if the diaper is all natural, it is typically more absorbent.  Many natural fiber diapers are topped with bamboo velour.  While bamboo velour isn’t stay-dry, it doesn’t feel as wet as cotton or regular bamboo and hemp.  There are also babies who are sensitive to stay-dry materials and do better in natural fiber diapers.  Natural fiber diapers can come in a variety of fabrics just like stay-dry diapers.  Some of the most common fibers used are bamboo, hemp, and cotton.  These diapers are often fully absorbent so your baby won’t have a stay-dry feeling.  For most babies, this isn’t an issue.  But some may be sensitive to the moisture or just not like the feeling.

Feeling the moisture in their diaper can help with potty training.  Children may not like feeling wet and when they learn that peeing in the potty means their diaper or underwear stays dry, they grow to like that dry feeling.  Most potty training pants will be equipped with feel natural wet inners even if the core is synthetic.

For parents who want a natural stay-dry feeling, there are a couple of options.  While typically not as easily obtainable, they are out there.  Raw silk liners are all natural, but offer the stay-dry feeling you get with synthetic materials like fleece and suede cloth.  You can also find all natural wool liners that will offer a stay-dry feeling.  Wool is kind of cool in that it can both repel and absorb  moisture.  So a wool liner can right again babies bottom for a stay-dry feeling, or it can go behind your soaker for extra absorbency.  Raw silk and wool liners do require more delicate care than your typical synthetic liners, but if the benefit of a natural fibers against baby’s bottom is important to you, raw silk liners can be well worth it.

No matter which option you choose for your baby, choosing cloth diapers is a smart parenting choice you can feel good about making.  Like all your other cloth diapering options, you can choose a combination of them all.  Many parents like to use stay-dry materials at night and natural fibers during the day.  The great thing about cloth is that it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing choice.  You get lots of options and combinations to make it work best for your own needs.

 

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Birthdays: A Mom’s Perspective

Bittersweet BirthdaysAhhh, birthdays.  They bring forth so many emotions for parents.  For one, we are thrilled that our children are growing and thriving just as they should.  We are celebrating all that they (and we as parents) have accomplished in the last year.  Sometimes we are just glad to have made it through a challenge and come out on the other side.  For those of us still so close to the magical years of babyhood and toddlerhood, we are in awe of how quickly time travels through these all too short years.  Part of us longs for a small bubbly baby or a bounding toddler once more.  Part of us celebrates no more sleepless nights, bi-hourly feedings, or spit-up stained shirts.  Overall, no matter how old they get, a birthday will likely be a reminder of a ‘labor day’ for many mothers.  It is a day of great remembrance and joy.

My youngest child just celebrated his second birthday.  My oldest will turn four at the end of the year.  And me, I’m that mom.  I am fighting against a force that I know I cannot win – Father Time.  He will move swiftly through my life at times when I just need a few more minutes, weeks, or hours.  And he will crawl at times when I want him to just speed up already.  Such a ornery man Father Time.  I spend a few weeks preparing for their birthdays.  We make decorations, plan menus, and then we bake whatever celebration treat they want.  It has become a tradition for me to me make them a birthday outfit to fit their chosen birthday theme. Birthday Kisses Through all this labor to prepare for their birthday parties, I am laboring in my mind on how I will not cry as they blow out yet another candle.  I will not stifle their new freedoms and their growing maturity.  I will celebrate in happiness and glee right along with them.

This is the first year I have prepared for a birthday and actually managed not to cry.  No one warned me that I would strongly fight tears as I prepared the birthday banner or sang happy birthday to my child for the very first time.  There was no warning about the lump the size of a golf ball forming in my throat and making my eyes water like a faucet…

I spend the weeks leading up to a birthday perusing through photos or rereading  journal entries I made during my pregnancy.  I will reread their birth stories at least once and dig around for videos of them in their infancy.  During the actual day of the birthday I will often glance at the clock and oddly I can remember what stage of labor I was in at that time X years ago.  Like how the nurse brought me a popsicle at 11:08AM back in December of 2010.  I don’t know why I remember these things, but I do.  They are likely tied my ‘new’ mom status and perhaps will fade with the years.  I will remind my children of the exact time they were born and they will give me a blank stare and go back to what they were doing.  But I, I will feel all those feelings of holding your baby for the first time all over again.  I will steal a hug that lasts too long and a kiss on the forehead just as I gave at birth.  Parental AccomplishmentAfter all, a birthday for them is also a celebration of triumph for me.  A day we brought forth a child and added more light and energy to our family.  A day we beat our infertility and losses.  A day we won – in a big way.

Our children’s birthdays offer so much for celebration.  Each year we gain more experience as their parents and get to bare witness to their personalities in bloom.  We get a chance to look at how far they have come and imagine just how far they are going to go.  While they are digging through presents and enjoying a day where it’s okay to have more than one piece of cake or another bowl of ice cream – we get to dig through memories and devour all those warm, fuzzy feelings of parental love and accomplishment.  We get one day where people are happy to hear about what our child did at this age or that and we can share all the photos we want without that all too familiar sigh of, “Oh man, she’s in one of those moods.  Get ready to be photo bombed.”

I am blessed with a large family who loves to celebrate my children almost daily.  We delight in spoiling them on special days and sometimes just because.  Birthdays for us all are quite special.  I pray that we get many more to celebrate, winding through the memories of each one past until they all become a jumble of happiness and triumph.  I may not always have those ‘new’ mom memories of just what I was doing on the day of their actual birth, but I hope I always carry those deep feelings of love and true happiness in my heart.

Happy Birthday sweet babies.  You can grow to be 100 and in my eyes and heart, you will forever be those little bundles wrapped in a warm sheet and handed to me for the very first time.