Cravings {a story about new motherhood}

The Honest Co. asked me to write about my experience with baby formula. I was happy to oblige, but it felt like ancient history. Funny, when it came to writing it, I didn't have to dig to deep. Some experiences never leave you. This is my personal account, and I was not compensated in any way. My opinions do not reflect those of The Honest Co. That said, while this is my story, and my opinion, what you feed your baby is your choice. Breastfeeding didn't work out for me, and I'm okay with that now. If it works for you, bless. Now, on to the good stuff. 

All those years ago, as I was sleepwalking through my new life as a mother, I would have never imagined that I would long for middle of the night feedings. Those quiet pockets of time, where it was just me and my baby, and I was meeting her most pressing need so simply. When I was in the thick of it, the very trenches of newly anointed motherhood I didn't understand just how precious and fleeting those moments were. It didn't occur to me how quickly they would end. At the time, it felt that I would be stuck in that chaotic place forever.

Motherhood didn't begin that way, there was nothing simple about it. Feeding my first born didn't come with ease. Even in her first few hours, trying to find her latch was proving impossible. Steeled by kind words from friends, books and articles, I pressed on as we went from hospital to home. Still the latch was elusive. I tried every trick, every hack, nipple shield, and breast pump. When my milk finally came in, pumping felt like a tortuous consolation prize to motherhood, and those measly four ounces did nothing for myself esteem. We, my daughter and I, went two weeks in a constant loop of nipple shield, screaming, crying, pumping, and finally a bottle of whatever came out in the pump. I was exhausted. I was devastated. More than that, I just knew I was failing as a mother.

Today, I can look back on that period and see that this was just my first hurdle in my journey as a new mom. As devastated as I was, this was the first big decision I had to make. Not the choice or crib or car seat, not the decision to swaddle or not swaddle, it was this very simple in theory, but very difficult in reality choice that I had to make.

What to feed this child? My child.

Back then I was too worried about that the "books" said. About what my friends said. Why was the most natural thing in the world, not the most natural thing for me? Listening to remarks about formula made it feel like a dirty word. This was supposed to be a joyous time, a simple time, when feeding my child was as easy as a bottle or breast. But this decision felt loaded, one wrong move and lives would be ruined... Or would they?

I was wrong about formula, and I was wrong about breastfeeding. In a time before "mom shaming" on social media platforms, I was internally shaming myself. It took me a minute to realize that this choice was all my own. A choice I had to make for my daughter, but also a rather importance choice for me.

I didn't realize we were starving. Her sharp cries at all hours were obvious evidence. My vacant stare as I tried to get her to eat, were silent screams of my own. New motherhood is both seductive and abusive. It entices with it's simple joys, breaks you with it's monotony. What had started as a small battle in my hospital bed hours after my first born's birth, forged into an all out war at home. Why couldn't I feed this tiny person? I was so unsure and self conscious for the first time since junior high. In the back of my mind I knew the answer, but the defeat I'd have to deal with paralyzed me. How was I going to fold on this first test of motherhood? I was scared I was doing everything wrong. My daughter was starving. And we both craved something bigger than both of us. We craved peace. We craved contentment. We craved ease.

Choosing to feed my daughter formula was the first big decision I made as a mother. It wasn't an easy one to make, and I still had miles to go to find my footing as a mother. Still, it was the first step in finding confidence and the first real step in finding that peace, my daughter and I both craved. I had wasted so much time worrying about what to feed my baby, and not enough time enjoying the miracle that was my baby. It was time to enjoy and embrace this new life as a mother. It was time to discover what kind of mother I was going to be, what kind of mother I wanted to be. So breastfeeding didn't work for me. The only person who noticed was me, my daughter was too busy eating to pay any mind to where we got her food. Scoop by precious scoop, we found the peace and ease we were craving. And to my surprise it didn't feel a bit like losing or giving up, it felt exactly right in my corner of motherhood.

I catch myself these days, longing for those middle of the night feedings. Usually when I wake up to go to the gym way before the sun comes up, I feel a little tug on my heart. In those quiet moments, where the entire house is asleep, I think back to those days when it was just the two of us in a rocker. The glare of the television, the sharp burp of contentment from a perfect tiny human. Those days when a bottle and the sunrise were our only company. I miss that simple pleasure of being able to meet that one and only craving, that most important need. Meeting her needs these day is rarely simple, as she is almost ten, and everything is of dire importance.

Some mornings, when I go into her room to wake her, I find myself crawling into bed with her. Reminiscent of those days long gone, it's just the two of us, and the tiny bit of morning seeping through her mini blinds. It's quiet, just her and I, no Dad, no little sister, no distractions. I indulge that craving of a simpler time for me, and her constant craving of having mom all to herself for her. We find that peace and ease that we are still always craving from each other.

One ounce at a time.

Thirty Nine {and counting}

On Sunday I'll be thirty nine. THIRTY. NINE. Weird. I don't feel thirty nine. I don't remember aging. I still feel every bit of twenty nine, even thirty, if only in spirit. In my mind I'm still young. My spirit hasn't aged a day, but my body has. My mind and my heart have grown up too. I have aged everyday to discover that on Sunday I will wake up and start by thirty ninth year. It's wild.

This week I gave a lot of thought to turning thirty nine. That digit so close to forty, it was a little shocking. I thought, wouldn't it be great to be twenty nine again? Ten years younger? When my hair was thicker hair and I had zero crows feet. To be on the cusp of motherhood again, and really if I'm honest, adulthood. I was truly still a newlywed ten years ago. I remember looking better, and that independent spirit. The freedom of being a twosome. Sleeping all day on Sunday. Rarely grocery shopping. If I didn't do laundry on Sunday night the only person without clean panties was me. If I didn't cook dinner, I was the only one forced to forage in the pantry. Sure I was married, but the Hubbs rarely cared about such things. The Hubbs and I were young and free and didn't answer to anyone but ourselves.

Then the memories slowly started to trickle in. I was pregnant the year I was twenty nine. I remember I spent that birthday eating ice cream and gluten free cake until I was almost sick. I remember propping up swollen ankles and marveling at a growing belly, loving every minute of "being fat" with a purpose. For the first time in my life I regarded my big belly with pride, not the shame that had followed me since junior high. I was elated that soon I would be a mom. Some one's mom. Welcoming a little girl into the world. Knowing that it was going to be the best thing that had ever happened to me.

As many of you know it was. And it wasn't.

Twenty nine and thirty were just about the hardest years of my life.

I've been told that twenty nine is the perfect age to start a family, and sure, for me it was. By twenty nine I was out of college and in a career, not my chosen one, but I was making money. I had lived enough to know that hangovers were total bullshit so tried to avoid those at all cost. Thanks to a financial savvy husband I was spending smarter, saving better. It made total and complete sense that he and I waited to get married and waited a little longer to start a family.

But there was something sinister about twenty nine.

By twenty nine, I knew what failure looked like, and I knew what failure felt like. By twenty nine I had floated on a string of successes since graduating from high school. In my mind I was well on my way to being the best mother and wife the world had ever seen, because why wouldn't I be. Hadn't I always achieved great success just by trying? In my mind motherhood was going to be just like everything else I had done in my life. I would work hard, and poof. I would be perfect at it.

At twenty nine I was also dumb, naive and not even a little bit ready for my new life.

To be young again.

Nope. Never mind. I don't want to be that young again.

I don't want to be the scared first time mother who just knew mind body and soul that she was messing up her kid every single second of the day. I don't want to be that zombie of a mom who spent close to a year going through the motions. I don't want to be that sleep deprived ever again. I don't ever want to be that angry ever again because I couldn't breastfeed, sleep-train an infant, or finish the laundry before my husband came home from work. I don't want to hate my body that much, because I couldn't lose the baby weight, because I was eating my feelings. I don't want to suffer from such a level of self hate, or such an insane level of self doubt ever again.

I don't want to be that twenty nine year old new mother, stumbling and hating every minute of it.

That shit sucked. That year sucked. Twenty nine sucked.

The best thing about twenty nine though, the ten years that followed didn't suck. In fact they were fantastic.

Somewhere around thirty one I found my footing. I became a better mother because I realized that it wasn't any one's business if I bottle fed or co slept. I became a somewhat better wife, but only because I realized that no one really notices base boards or dirty laundry. I found some joy in the monotony of motherhood, solace in the semi-scheduled life of my toddler. Then as soon as I got my "sea legs" I got pregnant again and right around thirty two welcomed my second daughter. This time I was ready. That breast is best bullshit went out the window. I put a twin bed in her room next to her crib, made sure the TV in there had cable, knowing I'd spent a lot of time in that nursery. I knew the routine of a new born, more of less, and wasn't scared this time. This time around motherhood brought me joy. Regardless of the chaos and the bullshit. I found that happy place where it all intersects.

By thirty five I had found the power in the written word, regardless if those words were written by me. I had always loved to write, but starting a blog changed everything. It changed the way I felt about myself. It brought me such a feeling of success when I hit publish even if my mom and best friends were the only ones reading. Blogging, fueled by motherhood, made me brave, made me strong, made me realize that I had worth. Writing helped me find my new self. The one who had laugh lines and grey hair. The new me that had an extra ten pounds that wasn't ever going away. The new me that was born the day my first child was born. The me I was always supposed to be, but was never brave enough to recognize.

Recently, as in the past year, I've given up on a lot of things. Like my weight. I go to the gym, and have a love for running that makes me absolutely loathe myself (in a good way because what kind a masochistic bitch loves to run? oh yea me). I also like to eat, and Paleo diets are full of fat, so as I count down to forty, I realize that this is my size. I'm not shy about saying I run to eat. No boot camp, ab challenge, or cleanse will do it any justice, and at this point, I'm fine with that. I also wear jeans that are higher waisted because I can't stand for my ass crack to show. Call me crazy but that just isn't cute on an old lady like me. I no longer worry about the "rolls" that hang over the waist of pants and skirts. The ones on my back and under my arms. My body is just softer and rounder these days. Ten years ago I would have bought new clothes to cover them up. Today, nah. I'm some body's mother. And lets be honest, no one is looking at the old lady in cropped jeans and a flannel anyway. I don't turn heads, and I'm totally okay with that.

My forehead wrinkles in my selfies. There are lines around my eyes. My make up doesn't do the same tricks that it used to. My hair is mostly grey these days, thankfully I spend most of my money on box dyes. Still, I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't want to wake up twenty nine again. I don't think I could do that shit twice.

On Sunday I'll be thirty nine. I'm grateful. I'm happy. I'm content. I turned out okay. I've learned a lot in ten years. I'm still an okay wife. I'm a pretty damn good mom. Ten years ago I ached for this life. I yearned to be this person. Self assured, confident, adjusted, happy. I wanted so much to be the mom I am today, I just didn't know it. I didn't know that being completely imperfect in every way would complete me in a way that would make me weep.

The question is, who will I be at forty nine?

I'm excited to find out.

We don't have time to pee... {December 2016}

I've done nothing but sleep and read since the day after Christmas. That's not the whole truth, but it's 95% of it. December was a blur, and not in the cliche way, like it was so magical and jammed packed with fun it just flew by. No, it was a blur because it was jam packed with obligation and work and school and homework and unnecessary class party bullshit.

Oh. Wow, that took a turn. Sorry. Rant over.

Seriously, though. Can I be honest for a minute here? December was kind of a shit show. Between dance and Girl Scouts and dance recitals and school and homework and oh yeah, actual work, we were scheduled to the very minute. Every single minute of every single day contained a task, a plan, a to do list, some kind of obligation. I know what you're thinking. You do this to yourself, Meg. You say yes, you want to be the room mom and the scout leader and the mom who does all the fun holidays stuff like make sugar cookies and gingerbread from scratch. Yes. You're right. I'm guilty of wanting and not wanting to be that kind of mom, simultaneously. But if over scheduling a life was an Olympic event, I'd be a gold medalist to a Michael Phelps degree.

I didn't plan for an over scheduled holiday season. You would think since I'm a retail warrior I'd plan better since Christmas ornaments hit the sales floor on October (not even kidding). You would think that since I spent the week before Thanksgiving in Disneyland that was decorated within an inch of its life for Christmas I would have been better prepared.

I wasn't.

Fully aware of the calendar I still didn't even have a chance to make cookies with the girls until the week of the 17th. The 17th I made the dough, the 18th we cut them out and baked them, and on the 19th after school and before dance we decorated them. I'm not even joking a little that these were 110% scheduled. Within an inch of our lives.

Christmas shopping was done via Amazon and my weekly day off. It's almost impossible to shop on the weekend with kids who are old enough to know what kind of Santa shit you are trying to pull. I took an extra day off to wrap gifts. And then actually followed through and wrapped gifts because if not nine days before Christmas then when? Never, it would have never happened.

One afternoon during a Target run, in between dance (Mackenzie) and dance (Caitlin), I actually told Mackenzie, "We don't have time to pee". Bathroom breaks had not been scheduled for this Target run, and if we stopped we would be late to the next pressing appointment (dance). Don't worry, I'm not a monster, I took her to the restroom. Still I said the words, because I felt them with my entire body and soul. They were cold hard facts, I had not scheduled time to pee.

We made some good memories. I promise we did. The kind of memories that come with having a harried over scheduled slash over achieving mother. My daughters will always remember the "great boot hunt of 2016" the night before the Christmas program, staying out at the mall until 9 at night when we should have all been in bed, or at least homework for that matter. They will always remember the winter dance recital where their mom didn't realize how long it would take to do hair and make up on her two daughters plus herself. Which meant a breakfast of French fries and Dr Pepper courtesy of Jack in the Box, which they bragged about all day. My girls will never forget the last minute dash to do all the things: ugly sweater selfies, teacher gifts and making reindeer food in the 11th hour on Christmas Eve. Not even kidding when I say that we made reindeer food, put that shit out and went to bed. 

These are the moments that allow great children to become great adults. I promise you. Carefully curated Christmases are for psychopaths. Or so I continue to tell myself.

We had a fantastic Christmas. Was it sparkly and Instagram ready? Of course not. But after almost ten years of motherhood, it my brand of perfect. I wasn't ready, but I'm beginning to think I never will be. Not all the decorations made it out. The craft supplies that were supposed to be our 2016 ornaments are still sitting in the bag. The wreath I wanted to re-do has be carefully repacked into its bin. That beautiful chocolate gingerbread cake that I planned on baking in October, is still waiting to be baked. I never did see Love Actually all the way through. I never did read Jolly Postman Holiday to the kids. But none of those things matter now. Not really. We could do all of those things now, in January. In preparation for next year. Maybe the key to fitting in all the things in December is to start doing them in January. Eureka! I'm a genius. 

Now, in the most cliche way I have blinked and it's January. Actually it's January ninth, and my kids go back to school tomorrow. We are back to our regularly scheduled programming, and December is but a blur. Except for the fact that I still want to sleep all day and read all night. But I've held that belief since college. I'd like to say that December 2016 was the hardest and worst of the Decembers yet, but that would be a lie. The truth is, living on the edge, over scheduled and overwhelmed is exactly how I roll ninety nine percent of the time. That's where the naps come in. 

That my friends is how you win at December-ing.