Monday, September 8, 2014

Mommy Wars: Caused By Ill-Fitting Bras?

After having three babies in four years, I think I can finally narrow down the root cause of the Mommy Wars: ill-fitting bras. And, if by the end of this short essay you don't believe so too, then at least let's agree that ill fitting bras are undoubtedly the cause of RTF or Resting Bitch Face. 
If you're reading this and you've never been pregnant nor birthed a baby, let me give you the quick and dirty on what happens to your breasts. When you're pregnant, your boobs get huge. We're talking so voluptuous that if prior to getting pregnant you were an A or B cup, you would want to show them off to everyone were you not growing a tiny human inside of you that simultaneously liked to make your body do gross things like burp and fart uncontrollably. When you're pregnant and you have these gorgeous pregnant boobs (but feel like crap) my heart goes out to you, truly it does. And to your husbands who wish so badly to motorboat you, just one time. Just really quickly. You won't even notice, they'll say. Fitting your pregnant boobs into a bra is laughable. As if burping and farting uncontrollably wasn't embarrassing enough, try waddling into the nearest department store for a professional bra fitting. The truth is, we've all done it. So, we stuff those lovely lady lumps into whatever we have lying around the house. 
A few short (who am I kidding, they feel like an eternity) days after giving birth, your milk will most likely come in, as it should. My milk came in with a vengeance after each of my babies, leaving me sore, swollen and looking like a mega-botched boob job gone one hundred kinds of wrong. I'm pretty sure that during this time, one of my nipples was pointing north, the other east. At the same time. Wearing any kind of bra during this stage of the game is futile. You're nursing your brand new bundle of love every seven minutes, or so it seems, so like many others, I chose to walk around topless during the first three weeks of my sons' lives. My apologies to the UPS and FedEx deliverymen who were all to often subject to many a nip-slip during those days. Speaking of nipples, oh, those babies will grow to be about the size of dinner plates. Just an FYI.
Once you've got the breastfeeding thing under control (trust me, you will eventually), it's time to put those puppies away. If you're a first-time mom, you'll spend gross amounts of money on nursing tanks, tops and bras or any other piece of lingerie with a plastic clip or hidden sleeve on it that Pinterest says you need. If this isn't your first time at the rodeo, you know how easy it is to just whip one of those puppies out of the top of any old tank top, or shove down the cup on any old bra and it'll get the job done just fine. 
But here's the kicker- with a newborn (and potentially other children in the house) you're not schlepping anybody to the store to try on new bras. I mean, that kind of Crazy isn't even suitable for Wal-Mart. Not to mention that you have absolutely no idea what size bra you should be wearing so you try to squeeze into any one of the four different sizes you have lying around your house from college through now. 
Double ouch.
Now you've rolled up, tucked in, patted down and stuffed your sore, swollen bosom into a bra. Chances are you're leaking everywhere and if you aren't, well then you definitely smell like spoiled milk from when you once did. Now imagine someone approaches you and asks if your brand new baby is sleeping through the night. Or they want to discuss sleep training methods. Hello, Mommy Wars. Why? Because chances are you're wearing an ill-fitting bra (if you're wearing one at all) and the sheer uncomfortable-ness of shoving those babies into a snug Over The Shoulder Boulder Holder is all to blame. 
Perhaps if we all had appropriate fitting bras, we could each take a deep, deep breath and we'd eradicate the Mommy Wars. Just like that. After all, we would feel more supported and undoubtedly more confident in ourselves as mothers, therefore feeling more mindful of our decisions as well as fellow mothers'. 
Now that we've established the root cause, let's do something about it. Let's all get at least one well-fitting bra that we cannot only fit ourselves into comfortably, but one that might showcase just a glimpse of ourselves before we had babies. Perhaps, maybe even for just a little bit, we might even feel, dare I say it... sexy.
For 100 years, Vanity Fair® lingerie has been the brand that women look to for undeniable support, lift and a little bit of luxury. Making style both comfortable and effortless, it offers beautiful lingerie in styles that are trend-right and feature sleep fabrics with clean lines for a smooth look under clothes- even if your outfit of the day is yesterday's yoga pants and a baseball tee. 
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And all along here you thought I was truly kidding about well-fitting bras and the Mommy Wars.
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Friday, September 5, 2014

You Say "Vacation.." I Say... "Family Business Trip."

"Mom!... Hey, Mom! Mom, look!" 

"Mom. Mom? Moooooom? MOM!"

I waited. I waited and I prayed and I cursed a little. I turned to my husband, sighed and said, "Aren't there enough mothers here to answer that child? Come on!" 

We were on the first "vacation" we would take as a family all summer long. And by vacation, I really mean that it was the first four days of the summer that we would find ourselves alone, unfettered and uninterrupted at the family beach house. It was also the last week of August if that gives you any inclination as to how long and how busy and how full of "Hey! Mom! Look!" the rest of our summer had been.

It wasn't really a vacation. Well, not the kind that comes to mind when hearing the word, that is. 

Any getaway involving your children is, by no means, a vacation. It's merely a trip you take somewhere else where you're expected to conduct the same daily rituals just with less sleep and none of your usual distractions.

But despite that, it was so much fun and so, so necessary. 

I had moments during our time at the beach where I felt like I was seeing our boys for the first time. Discovering things about them that I hadn't noticed before and probably would have never noticed had it not been for our time away.

I was seeing them in a way I hadn't seen them in all summer long. Taller, older. Funnier. Their excitement was palpable and every little thing was SO COOL. MOM! 

And if you can believe it, I didn't raise my voice for days. Well, outside of a few necessary moments at the beach house that's also a Don't You Dare Touch Museum. If there's a breakable seashell or vase or candle holder or decorative plate or picture frame to be had on the Eastern Seaboard, you can safely bet that not only do my in-laws have it but they've also decorated with it somewhere right within reach of my 2-year old. 

We won't even mention the Swivel Chair of Future Stitches...

But back to what I was saying. It seems funny now to think about but it was as if I blinked and my oldest turned 4. As if I turned my back for a single moment and he grew two inches, tells the funniest stories, has inside jokes between him and his brother and is gearing up to start his second year of preschool in just a few short days. Did you know he was a funny kid? I mean, he was always a little goofy but now he's just downright funny! 

And my middle baby! My middle baby who never, ever stops moving. Whose neck is now visible at all times, something that screams to me that any little sign of baby is long gone on his bones. Speaking in full sentences, with a mind of his own and a mission that I may never understand. Ever. Always on a mission. 

And to see the two of them together. To watch them seek each other out as brothers and playmates. Sometimes you just need to go somewhere different to see your children differently. To see them more as individuals and less like tiny heathens. 

My husband and I even managed to sneak out on one of those elusive things we adults with offspring like to call "Date Nights." We only held each other's hand while crossing the street. We didn't have to worry about anyone running off somewhere dangerous and I didn't have to barter, beg and plead with my husband to finish his dinner. We got to eat everything on our own plates while it was still hot and we never once had to stop talking for the interruption of tiny loud voices. 

And most of all, we didn't have to share if we didn't want to. 

I saw my husband as just my husband that night. As the man I married nearly seven years ago- the man I fell in love with before careers, mortgages and babies. Funny how one can so easily lose sight of our foundation. 

I took pictures. Not great ones by any photographer's standard and not very many at all with my "real" camera. I captured video when I remembered- reminding myself that I should do so because it's only so long before my middle baby starts saying "crabs" instead of "cwabbies," and only so long before my oldest refuses to indulge his Mama while sitting for the infamous Favorite Parts of Vacation Interview. One day maybe I'll splice those pictures and those videos together and maybe even set them to music so we'll have a more concrete recollection of our time together. 

But until then, I'll remember the peels of laughter as we sat and strung chicken necks to a line and set them out in the bay to bait crabs. How I loved watching those tiny tanned legs run a mok up and down the beach, daring each time to get a little closer to where the waves crashed into the shoreline. I'll remember how I watched our boys grow by the minute it seemed from the sidelines of the shaded umbrella while bouncing the baby on my knee. I'll remember how each night at bedtime my husband and I tried to make it "a personal best," seeing who could get "their kid" to bed earlier than the other. 

Come one, you know you do it too. Summer, thanks for being so sweet to us. 

But the next "vacation" we take? I have a feeling we'll be leaving the kids behind for that one... 


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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Last Little Baby.

As I stood there, in that moment, I silently pleaded with time, begging her to stand still. I did this because I know too well that in a year's time, in even two month's time, I will have mostly forgotten this season of our life together, most definitely this ordinary Tuesday evening. That even though the days are achingly full with a messy conglomeration of mundane and amazing, that even though they feel long, these days are rushing by.  

There in the dim light of the family room as I danced between Legos, action figures and Matchbox cars, I told myself, "Remember this. No, really. Stop and remember this. The weight of him in your arms. How his head fits so perfectly in that space between your neck and your shoulder. As if that space was made especially for that- for cradling babies and swaying with them as their eyelids turn heavy and their breathing slows. Remember the ache that burns in your forearm as you try to adjust his warm, sweaty body around on your chest, slowly, every so slowly as not to disrupt him.

Remember how tired you feel. Remember how the exhaustion seems to bear down on you, to shroud you in a fog that causes you to forget things like where you last placed the car keys and relatively important doctor's appointments. Remember how the exhaustion is somehow worth it. "

It's as if, in this moment, I've had a revelation. 

"Look differently towards the early morning wake-ups," I tell myself. "Try seeing them as extra time to spend with each one of them as opposed to trying to divvy up your time when they're all at your feet, clamoring for your attention. I have news for you. You're always going to feel tired until the one day when you don't. And you will miss this."

Inhale slowly... 

"Remember the sweet smell of his freshly bathed head as you sway. Back and forth, back and forth."


It's so funny how our bodies replicate this movement at the most subconscious level- like when we're standing in the checkout line at the grocer, our children safe at home, spared the agony of a errand full of "Sit on your bottom. Don't touch that. We don't need that." Your mind races as you try to remember your grocery list and just like that, you sway. Back and forth. Back and forth... 

"Remember how his fuzzy hair tickles your lips as you mindlessly brush them repeatedly over the top of his head. How his warm breath quickens against the inside of your neck as you do this. Remember how innocent the feeling, as his eyelids flutter against your skin as you wonder what he's dreaming about."

This was around the time, two years ago, that I first felt the sting. The sting that comes with growing babies, fleeting moments and passing time. Back then, the sting stirred me. It made me realize that I wasn't done yet- that our family wasn't complete. It was unexpected and as I sat in tears on the nursery floor, folding tiny onesies and newborn sleeping gowns that no longer stretched to fit, I knew there was one more baby to be had. 

I told myself to remember these moments back then too but deep down I always knew there would be one more baby. So I didn't listen. I didn't take myself seriously and I let the full days and the exhaustion take hold. The days and nights and months and years blur together now. I reassured myself that it was okay though, because there would be One More Time....

One more time I would watch my husband light up as he laid eyes on his brand new baby for the first time. One more time when I would stop breathing, just for a handful seconds, a handful of seconds that felt like an eternity as I waited to hear that very first cry. One more time that my world would come to a screeching halt and I would fall head over heels, hopelessly and wholly in love with a brand new baby. 

A baby whose whole life began and grew right there beneath my heart. 

"Remember this," only this time, I'm stern with myself. Forcing myself to take this mental snapshot of this very moment. The rock, the sway, the weight of it all. 


Because tonight I feel that very same sting only this time it's the sting that comes with knowing I will never again experience these moments. The ache that each wonderfully acheived milestone brings with it as I realize it's the last first time I'll watch my baby smile. The last first time he'll discover his toes. The last first time I'll hear that sweet giggle and fall hopelessly and wholly in love with them all over again.  

I know there are many more Firsts ahead. Brand new firsts that won't take the place of the first first's but ones that will be celebrated with just as much ferocity because of their newness. First tooth, first steps, first days of school, first car...

But one day, even those firsts will become Last Firsts. 

That's the thing about the last little baby. You'll cling to him as much as he clings to you and neither one of you will want to be the first... to let go.    

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