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.

The Work of Special Needs Parents

I don’t often talk about the struggles  of being a parent to a special needs child/ren.  I feel guilty because my children are for the most part healthy. They don’t need fancy medical equipment, but they have very real disorders that need a lot of my time.  Apraxia of speech, oral sensory issues related to apraxia, fine/gross motor difficulties,  a phonological speech disorder, congenital trigger thumb, and possible hip dysplasia in my infant.  It takes its toll.  So here’s a brief glimpse into the mind of a special needs mama.

I feel myself buckling a lot lately, thinking I can’t, but then somehow I always do.

I am lucky. For the most part, my kids are healthy. But I am so, so very tired of specialists and therapies. No, my kids do not have any life threatening conditions. You really wouldn’t know that HOURS of our weeks are spent running speech drills, working on coordination, me researching how to best help them. Am I thankful that our life has not been a revolving door of doctors? Yes. But I’m still tired.

There are still days when I angrily ask God, why??? Why can’t we have ‘normal’. We don’t want to be special today we want to be plain ol’ normal, no speech, no upcoming surgery, no doctors calling to ask if we’ve taken our child for this screening or that screening yet.

SpecialNeedsParentingPlease don’t ask me how I do it. The answer is raw and dirty. I cry. Behind closed bathroom doors. In my van in the front seat before I dry my eyes so they can’t see. In bed silently while everyone else is asleep.  I tell myself to suck it the hell up because there was a time when there were no babies. When my womb was empty or healing yet again from another loss.  I get so mad at God all over again because shouldn’t I get to  have it easy after it was SO HARD to become a parent to begin with.

In brief moments, He answers. He gently laughs and reminds me, this is it. This is what I was preparing you for. You worked for it. And now you work FOR THEM. Cry, let it out, then remember the strength you built through all the waiting and the loss. You get to be the mother of special children, and one day, no one will know the struggle until you tell them.

You’ll use it to encourage others who are crying behind  bathroom doors and in front seats of vans. You’ll use it to tell the mom whose child is struggling that one day this will only  be a memory. And I move on. And do it. Just do it, do the work to help the child that you prayed for.

Because the child is here, alive, and well.

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.

Valentine’s Diapers

Valentine's DiapersOne of the perks of using cloth diapers is that you can match the diapers to your baby’s outfit or even pick diapers to match holidays and events.  Cloth diapers have come a long way from plain white squares of fabric and rubber pants.  Nowadays, you can find cloth diapers in almost any color and print.  Here are some of my favorites for Valentine’s Day.

Thirsties Limited Edition Sweetheart Collection – A diaper with a fresh white background and a splash of pink hearts make this the perfect Valentine’s Day diaper.  Available as a cover, pocket, or AIO diaper you also gets lots of options to meet your cloth diapering needs.  Orchid and rose are also great.

BumGenius Dazzle and Countess.  A deep purple and a bright, hot pink make these adorable peeking out from under a cute Valentine’s dress.

Rumparooz Spice is a gorgeous muted red.  Sherbert’s purply pink is rich while Amethyst is softer.  Tulip is the perfect baby pink while Crimson is red hot.  Lux would also make a fun valentine’s print with it’s blends of pink and red.  Rumparooz offers so many Valentine’s friendly colors you could set up an assortment for the whole day!

Grovia’s Persimmon and Poppy add a little more color variation to the lineup.

Applecheek’s Love HappensSuddenly Royal and Jem add two pretty purples to the assortment.

BabyKicks Red would be perfect for your little gentleman.

Best Bottom’s Strawberry Shortcake gives us a little pop of yellow with our pink.  Very Cherry gives a classic red and white while Wild Berry blends two purples.  If you want to mix in a little green, try Plum Pie.  For a splash of black and white try Cookies N Cream.

ButtomBumper’s Cherry, Plum and Pixie are adorable.  Bubble Gum gives us a little bit of green with all the pink and purple while Licorice gives us a black and white chevron sure to compliment all those reds and pinks.  Sweet Cherry mixes it up a bit with fresh cherries and flowers on a pink backdrop.

Funky Fluff offers Love Bug and Pink.

I’ve always loved Itti Bitti’s rich, velvety colors.  Mulberry and Papaya are simply decadent.  Danube and Hanako add some adorable prints.  And Bubble Gum gives us another pop of pink.

Tidy Tot’s rounds out our Valentine’s Day diapers with Violet, Cheeky Cheetah, Pink Circles, and the adorable Tweet Heart.

Of course, the best part about all of these cloth diapers is that they can be worn every single day to add a bit of love to your baby’s tushy.

*This post contains affiliate links for which I will receive a small portion of the sale if the link is used to make a purchase.  Of course, you don’t have to use the links to purchase, but we appreciate when you do!  You can read our full disclosure policy here.

 

Learn To Help Yourself

Take Care of YourselfLast week, I did something out of character for myself – I gave up.  I had a to-do list that was miles long and a pile of papers for my kids, my family, and my goals.  I felt in over my head.

As parents, we spend so much time taking care of our children and our families that we often become the background noise in our own lives.  We spend each day ticking off items on a list – appointments for the kids, a project for friends, maintaining our homes, work obligations….  At the end of those long tired days it is very easy to just snip off the end of list that we’ve put ourselves on and forget those tasks.  But the easy way, isn’t always the best way.

As I stared down the barrel of what looked like sleepless nights and a plate fuller than what I thought I could handle, I started taking off the parts that were for me.   When your days are already filled, it’s hard to imagine adding anything else even if it’s something you want and believe in.  I thought taking away those parts would make me feel relieved and at peace, but instead it left me feeling empty.  Yes, my days would be clear to fully devote myself to my children and my family, but there would be little room for myself.

Room for self – that’s an important part of being a parent that many people forget.  It’s easy to do.  From the time you become pregnant people’s reaction to you changes.  It goes from, “Good morning, how are you,” to , “How’s the baby, have you picked a name yet?”  For nine solid months your life will revolve around your growing baby and that growing belly.  When the baby enters the world, your own focus is fully centered on feeding, diapering, bathing, and loving this new being.  You will think of your child almost every single second of every single day.  Their care will, at first, leave little time for your own.  You may feel guilt when you leave them for the first time even and if you aren’t careful, you may very well lose yourself entirely.

The role of mother does not have to be the only one you take.  It does not have to replace your role as wife, friend, daughter, co-worker, even business owner.  While it can permeate each of your other roles, molding and shaping who and what you are, that isn’t a bad thing!  Motherhood can teach you patience, compassion, and perseverance.  It can show you just how strong you always were and how much you can accomplish when you are dedicated.  It can teach you to be humble and you will learn to multi-task with far greater ease than you ever have before.

Last week I gave up.  At least temporarily.  I threw in the proverbial towel and I resigned myself to give up the roles I wanted for myself.  Lucky for me, I’m not alone.  I have friends, family, prayers, and a power greater than myself.  Thanks to a combination of all these, I was guided back on track.  I realized that deciding to give up on the parts of myself that were just for me might make completing all my daily duties easier, but it wouldn’t be living in its truest sense.  When we exist without passion or goals, we aren’t truly living and I want to do more than exist – I want to truly live.

There’s a popular saying that God only helps those who learn to help themselves.  In one sense, I very much believe this.  I believe that God helps those in need, but I also believe we have to play an active role in bettering ourselves and our lives.  When you’re given an opportunity – take it.  When you’re given a chance to try something you’ve always wanted, you owe it to yourself to do it.  To be the best parent you can be, you must also take care of yourself and learn to let go of guilt when you do.  An evening away or a decision to take on roles in addition to that as a parent are good for you and your children.

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.

The Pursuit Of Happiness

Validate my lifeEverything happens for a reason…it’s a cliché I often loathe.  Rarely, if ever, spoken in times of happiness it’s meant to offer comfort.  More often it incites anger when one’s nerves are still raw.  Given time to heal, time to breath and let life fill one’s soul again, there is truth to be found in those words.

When unsavory things happen in our lives it is easy to brush them aside and move along forgetting to take note of what the event has to teach us.  Dwelling on the event is hard, letting the emotions in to feel is painful.  If we want life to go on, we must see the lessons it has placed before us.  Brushing off hard events as bad luck or simple mistakes is far easier, yet I feel as though the events often carry lessons we were ignoring.  Little snippets of knowledge placed into events so that some good comes from the pain.

I was certain of the path my life was set upon a few months ago.  Precise plans and goals laid before me, a concise timeline to the road my life was to take.  I had plans mapped out and still I felt restless, as I always have.  Then life was placed in my womb, only to be taken away a short time later.  The bitterness and anger ensued.  As is often the case I questioned all I had planned and wondered if there was a better path to be set upon.  Over the course of a few weeks, my plans were altered beyond my control and then thrown back on course.

Perhaps the seeds of life planted into my womb were never meant to grow into a child, but an idea.  Perhaps that tiny growing soul was sacrificed to teach a lesson that I have long sought after but never found.  While I mourn the loss of the precious baby that never got to experience life and all the wonders it entails, I am grateful for the awakening it provided.  Once I stopped searching for what I was meant to do, life presented its answers on its own.

While I have been ever-present in my children’s lives, leaving behind work and school so that I could care for them full-time, I feel like I may have missed the mark in some ways.  I’ve performed all the motherly tasks, loved them without condition, but I have spent many hours wondering what I would do when I was ‘done’.  What would I return to when they were in school?  Would a career, or a new educational path be waiting on me?  I’ve rethought my career choices many times and I dare say that I have often sacrificed these valuable years with my young children by planning a future that always felt so uncertain.  My reason for uncertainty was, and always has been, that I am doing what I was meant to do.  There is no reason to constantly reconsider my choices.

At one point in all this soul-searching and life questioning I decided to checkout.  It was all more than I wanted to handle when I was already emotionally lost and reeling from the departure of a soul I’d never get to meet.  Sleepless nights spent staring at a dark wall, tears burning hot on my cheeks before I’d even knew they fell – they took their toll.  Mind and body weary, I decided to just let it go and not think about careers or college paths.  Then the magic happened.

I sat down to play with my boys, fully immersed in their world of super heroes, race tracks, and stroller races around the kitchen island.  I soaked up their crayoned projects and I joined in their silly dances and dress up masquerades.  I laughed with true happiness as we rolled around on pillow forts and fed baby dolls with wild hair.  I cried tears of true joy as my toddler curled up upon my lap to nap.  I watched, truly watched him, as he slept.  The long eyelashes void of earthly cares.  The innocence that surrounded his play and slumber slowly seeping into my own veins and reviving me from the life I had been physically present in, but emotionally absent.   Seeing myself finally at peace and at ease in the life I had unknowingly been fighting brought back the calm we all needed.

I’ve often felt judged for my decision to stay at home with my children.  I have always felt a need to explain myself, to justify my reasons for staying home and not returning to work.  Perhaps it’s because we live in a society where women are so often taught that they can do whatever men can do.  Perhaps it’s because we live in a world where monetary gains take center stage in the worlds of success and apparent happiness.  We pay entertainers, athletes, and brokers large sums of money while many child care workers and teachers barely make enough to scrape by.  It’s a message that even when unspoken is quite clear in today’s modern world.

Whatever the reason, I have spelled out my financial reasons to stay home more often than I can count.  Rarely have I spoken to or justified the emotional needs that I am meeting or the bonds I am fostering.  Rarely have a referenced the moral obligations I feel I am meeting or the motherly bonds that I am enriching.  While I spend my days feeding my children’s bodies, nourishing them for life outside my home, I am also fostering their hearts.  I am teaching them right from wrong, compassion, empathy, love, and how to apologize.  I am not opposed to women, or men, who work to support their children.  I support them, I admire them.  I am also finally giving myself permission to validate my life and recognize that it is okay and acceptable to be content (and happy) in this simple way of life.

I don’t need to explain or justify my life as ‘just’ a mother.  I don’t need an answer for, “What will you do when they start school?”.  My life as their mother does not end when they depart my home for a few hours each day.  My life as their mother and their support will not end when they move from my home.  I don’t need to serve some greater goal to feel like my life has meant something.  My children, and my husband, are my greater goal.  The work I do in my home truly makes me happy, it is that missing puzzle piece that has left me so restless all these years.  Upon recognizing that I am doing what I want to do and that I am happy, truly happy, my restless soul has found peace.

I am not lazy.  I am not without goals.  I do not need to be rich.  I do not need a larger home, a nicer car.  I do not need society to accept my lifestyle.  I am in no need of ‘saving’ nor have I been brainwashed into believing that ‘a woman’s place is at home’.  My husband would support my desires to do whatever I chose.  A woman’s, or a man’s, place is wherever they find happiness. The pursuit of happiness is grand in that it can mean many things.  I have found happiness in life’s simpler pleasures and its everyday tasks.  For me, that is enough.

Strength in Grief

Strength in GriefI’ve gone through the grief process associated with miscarriage several times now.  Each time is a bit different and as my maturity and life changes, the process changes a bit too.  It’s never easy and for someone like myself who feels things deeply, it can be overwhelming and feel devastating.

The loss of a child who had just started to grow within your womb is a hard one to understand for those who have not been through it.  People often have no idea how to express their concerns or feelings of empathy.  Some of your family and friends just ignore it almost entirely because they don’t want to upset you.  Others will do little things to comfort you or just be there while you vent.  This can be a double-edged sword because you need to talk about the loss, but are sometimes relieved when no one forces you to.

When you reach that ever looming stage of anger, you can be surprised who you direct that anger towards.  There can be a maddening rage over anyone whose pregnant, recently had a baby, or those who just ignored your loss all together.  You can direct your anger towards yourself and the body you feel failed your baby.  You will at some point likely cast anger on your spouse, wondering why they don’t feel or express their anger, frustration, and pain the same way you do.  It’s all normal, and it’s okay to feel these things.  They way you direct your anger, hurt, and loss is the most important aspect.

For me, I can sometimes wallow in my pain for weeks.  I’ll let myself fall into a depression that I lose all strength to climb out of.  Laying on the couch, not really watching whatever happens to be on the television.  No desire to eat, feel, or talk.  Just numb to life and what is going on in it.  Or I will switch into overdrive staying constantly occupied with something, anything, to take my mind off the pain.

The trouble with overdrive mode is that you crash…hard.  All the physical exertion to avoid the mental pain leads to exhaustion both physically and mentally.  I stayed in overdrive this time, until I crashed.  Dead tired, just so exhausted mentally and physically.  It hit me late last week and I couldn’t distract myself anymore.  I’d been crying in the shower, over the washer, anywhere I was alone.  And suddenly, crying was all I could do.  My empty womb was all I could think about.  The idea that I may never carry another child successfully hit me hard.  As I sorted through my children’s closets and packed away outgrown clothes I realized that there might not be another child to wear them.  Still, I folded them neatly, labeled the bin with the size and contents, and added them to the ever-growing stash of outgrown baby things in my basement.

I grieved, and then I decided to push forward because those clothes were not going to go unworn.  That currently unused crib, rocker, swing, and all those bins of baby clothes would be worn again.  I had prayed on it, thought about it, talked about it, and it was going to happen somehow.

While I may be quite experienced in dealing with the grief of a lost child, it has created a strength and determination in me that did not exist before.  If I want something, I figure out a way to make it happen.  While the number of children I have lost is higher than the number of children I have living, I really don’t give up.  To me, that means I have yet another angel looking over my family.  Another little miracle worker to make the impossible happen and to bring forth more happiness and light in our lives.

The healing that takes place after miscarriage is often a long process.  Your body often heals long before your heart.  You’ll go through days where you’re okay and you’ll go through days where you need to let yourself grieve and process all the emotions that have been thrust upon you.  It isn’t a road with a clear path and the outcome can often be surprising.

What I’ve learned is that you have to let yourself feel it all to heal.  It’s messy and it’s often scary, but in the end, you’ll come out okay.  You’ll likely be changed, but you can work to use it to your advantage instead of letting it consume you.

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.