I had my first panic attack in second grade. I’d left a book in my desk that I needed for a book report. Although I’d read the book, and had almost everything that I needed to write a stellar report, I didn’t remember the author’s name. Since there wasn’t a google to help me, I flipped the eff out. I cried and cried, shaking on the couch, asking my mom to call the school over and over again. I begged her to take me back to school so that we could find someone who could open my classroom door. Luckily, there was one janitor still on duty, and he saved a 7 year old’s sanity that night.
I continued having panic attacks for years to come: On my 9th birthday when my parents split up and I was convinced that I would kill myself. In fifth grade when I finished a math evaluation first and doubted that I could really complete a test before everyone else. Going into 7th grade when I had my first big audition, high school auditions, and music juries (after every.single.one), fights with boyfriends, etc. It seemed that as I got older, the stress of life caused the attacks to become more frequent, longer lasting, and they were always coupled by a lingering, foggy depression.
By the time I left for college, I had accepted that anxiety was just a part of who I was, and coping with it in a new place would have to feel as natural for me as finding new friends; not my favorite thing to do, but definitely necessary for survival. Luckily, friends came quite easily, and the stress of college seemed inconsequential compared to the stress of 12 hour days at a performing arts high school and my home life. I found ways to release my anxiety before it bubbled over; I spent a lot of time alone journaling, reading, researching anything that interested me. My favorite thing to do was to go to the Music Building at night with my violin, find an unlocked practice room, and play and practice all of the music that had brought me so much anxiety in high school. I’m not sure if I did that to master the music or to show the music that it hadn’t mastered me. I would play and drink coke, and listen to Muse, journal, all in the stillness of the night, comforted by the tiny space of a room that kept all of my noise and anxiety contained.
By the time junior year arrived, those self care tactics had slowly dissipated. I had less time to myself, and found more comfort in being with others than with my own thoughts. My confidence was wavering as I was less sure about becoming a teacher, anxious about my life after college, and was really pressing into figuring out who I was spiritually. The panic attacks returned with a vengeance. Sometimes they would build for days, other times, I would seemingly fly out of a room to get air. I remember one night, having a panic attack in my room of the apartment that I shared with my best friend of now 18 years. (WOW). AS I slowed my breathing, opened my eyes, and uncurled myself from the fetal position of the floor, I saw that there was a note that she had slid under the door.
“To Tereva 4rm The Girl Next Door”
“…Remember the feeling of racing down Wal-Mart with a red thong flying. Think about the feeling you get when a lil grubby child calls you “Miss Crum”. Remember Fudgsicle, singing “Summertime” to your adoring fans at Lillians. Think purple tiaras. Think about butt bumping competitions. Remember the feeling of laughing so much that you start shaking. Remember your Grandma’s cooking. That’s some good stuff! I want you to remember how OVERWHELMING the love in your life is and put that before anything else.
Well, mushy letters are fun. Tonight is gonna be a good night. I love being your friend and all that comes with it! Thanks for being amazing.
<3 your cuddle bunny”
I’m quite sure that night ended with us watching Fresh Prince episodes until 2am and there might’ve been a butt bumping competition as well.
I had never really let anyone into the dark part of my world. I presented to everyone as being self assured, funny, and outgoing, but for quite a while, only Karima knew the subtle signs when anxiety and depression were brewing.
Some time later that year, while taking a trip home to Miami before graduation, I had one of the worst panic attacks of my life. I was in the car on the way to Karima’s home where she and our best friend (of now 11 years?! WOW!!) Morgan would meet to carpool back to Gainesville together. The car ride was miserable. I don’t know what happened, but by the time I arrived at Karima’s home, I was in a heated argument with the person who was driving. I was on the verge of tears and felt the anxiety rising. My breaths were getting more shallow and I just remember asking “Please stop. Please stop. Please stop.” To this day, I’m not sure if I was asking it of myself or of the conversation. When the car stopped, I flew out to get fresh air.
The thing about panic attacks is that you feel overwhelmingly stuck and the only thing that you want to do is to move away from it. The feeling of suffocation overwhelms your body. You believe with everything that you are going to black out from the lack of oxygen. It feels as if your body is against you and is plotting your murder without your consent. Which in turn makes you panic even more because you believe with everything that you will literally die.
“I’m having a panic attack” I whispered to the person. “Please. Please. Please.” I needed to feel reality in that moment. That I was alive. That I wasn’t going to die. That I wasn’t alone. That it was a stupid argument in the scope of things. That I wasn’t going to be homeless on the streets after graduation. I sat on the hot concrete in the parking lot. And I heard the car door slam. And I heard the car’s engine rev and leave.
I was alone.
In a parking lot.
Sitting on the concrete, truly believing that I was going to die.
I can’t explain the significance of that moment in my life. It was heartbreaking and life altering. I was literally abandoned during one of the most vulnerable, scariest times of my life by someone I should have been able to trust to protect me.
And that caused more anxiety.
I don’t know how long I was there in that parking lot. It seemed like hours in panic time. But I remember going back to the letter that Karima had slid under my door months before. I remembered that she and Morgan were just a few steps away in the apartment. I remembered the nights that we spent talking, sacrificing sleep and participation points to listen and pray with each other. I remembered how although she hates hugs, she always gave them to me freely.
And that helped me to breathe.
When I told Karima and Morgan what happened, after many failed attempts at talking, I remember the silence that hung in the air. It was heavy and marked by grief. When I finally got the nerve to look up, it was as if the pain that I felt was reflecting in their eyes. I was ashamed (illogically) to invite another friend into this world of anxiety that I struggled with, and humiliated by being so worthless to someone else that I was left in a parking lot. And then, the words came that smoothed my heart. “That. Is FUCKED UP.” Morgan has always been pretty frank.
We sat in silence for a while. Everyone kind of sitting in pain, not knowing where to go next. And then we all embraced. It started out kinda silly as a way to end the never familiar silence that always follows pain, but ended in tears, and one more emotional tie that leaves me forever willingly bonded to these two sisters.
When I saw my daughter in my womb for the first time, I was shocked. Although I desperately wanted a daughter, I was convinced that this second little chicken nugget would be a boy. Or maybe I secretly hoped that she would be a boy so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the anxiety of being a daughter’s mother. While mothering, nurturing and protecting seem to come quite naturally for me, the anxiety of doing right by my daughter kind of hovers over me. I’ve thought a lot about what I want my love for her to be marked by, and I keep coming back to Morgan and Karima.
Although they are my friends, my sisters, they have in many ways been mothers to me. They have laughed with me in times of joyful abundance, cried with me when my heart has been bruised. They have stayed with me when I have been hormonal and irrational, and they have knelt down with me when I have been weak and broken. They rally around me in protection when something is fucked up, and tell me the hard truths even when I want to be coddled.
That is the kind of mother that I want to be to my daughter.
Fierce and strong.
Compassionate and Constant.
Present and Gracious.
Constantly flexing between mother and sister.
Guide and Partner.
And that excites me. When I think of the examples of love that I have, the anxiety vanishes and I am genuinely giddy with the anticipation of adventures, learning how she loves to be loved, baring my teeth at anything that threatens her safety, confidence, or dignity, and teaching her as early as I can to always remember the overwhelming love in her life, and to put that before everything else.
I will be a good mom to this daughter of mine.
Whoever she is, whatever she becomes, whatever she has to battle, I will overwhelm her with love.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear…” 1 John 4:18
Random Confession: In college, I spent a season of time being kinda obsessed with T.I. That little man and all his swag and southern-ness, just had me in a tizzy. (Shutup. I do recognize that I just said swag and tizzy in the same sentence.) In fact, I do believe that he is part of the reason that I have become quite the accomplished shower rapper. T.I., you taught me bout the game.
It has been a long behind time since I’ve blogged. There’s no way to jump back in without acknowledging the cobwebs on this site. It’s not as if I haven’ t been inspired. There are really beautiful things all around me. I’ve been having some really sweet, rich months, and sometimes I just need to savor those moments; let them rest thickly on my life. Be thankful for them without rushing them. And some things, I realize, I just like to hold as sacred.
My marriage is…more than I deserve. Our relationship is so flawed by our inescapable human nature, but so redeemed by the all covering love of Jesus. And, it doesn’t hurt that Matt pretty much tells me this all the time. Foreal.
My little Chi-Bear is not so little anymore. He’s learning to construct real sentences like, “NO, Bubby!!! Out, Daddy, boo-boo!” Which obviously means “No, Bubby! (our dog, Pickles). If you go out there, Daddy may hurt you (while he’s mowing the lawn)and you’ll get a boo-boo!” He’s also crazy talented and composes awesome songs. Every.Day. Often times there are tambourines, and maracas involved. I managed to catch two of my favorite jam sessions here:
This one shows his amazing range.
This one shows he’s Pentecostal lol
And may I unashamedly point out how proud I am that he’s learning some basic theology? “Where does Jesus live?” Yep. In that awesome heart of yours.
Chi’s most notable accomplishment, however, is that he is…wait for it…POTTY TRAINED!!! He’s been potty trained for about a month now! I completely took his lead, and boy was he eager. We still use diapers for nap time and bed time, but it is rare that we will find them soiled. When I first began venturing down the potty training road, some of y’all were looking at me sideways. It’s ok. No shade. I too was terrified for me, but Chi really was ready. I guess he’s trying to make up for NOT being ready to sleep for the first 13 months of his life :shudders:
I hope that I can commit to blogging more regularly. I really do. I need accountability. With my life! There are so many things that I
want need to do! Sometimes I get overwhelmed by being underwhelmed. Does that make sense? It’s been very difficult for me to find my creative niche in Gainesville. It is part of the reason that I longed for something more before moving to Chicago. It seems that the only artistic opportunities that are readily available for me are within church circles, and I haven’t found that to be the place where I am called artistically. Every now and again, a girl just needs to twerk.
I digress. Again. It’s way past my bedtime, and I’m perched up in Starbucks like I don’t have a baby that will be hollering for me at the butt crack of dawn. I just needed to write. To say thank you to those kind souls who read this and who take the time to encourage me to continue writing, and seeking, and growing. Your words inspire me!
Last night, or rather this morning, I had an almost awesome dream. I was at a benefit concert of some sort in New York, and J.T (also known as Justin Timberlake) had just finished performing. I didn’t see the performance, but I knew that he was making his way out of the auditorium, because in dreams, you just have this secret knowledge of everything or nothing. So, I leave my seat, and see some of my friends, and since I totally know J.T, I’m all, “Hey, let’s go grab Justin so we can get a picture before he leaves.” So we head out to the lobby, and Justin greets me like an old friend (because we are in my subconscious, apparently) and I tell him “Let’s take a pic!” My friend, who is a photographer, positions us in typical picture form :side hug, turn this way, ok smile!: and I’m sure this will make the greatest instagram photo yet. I take the camera to make sure he got my good side, and there is no photo there. Ugh.
So, we take the picture again. And again. And there is still no picture on the camera. I tell Justin no worries, that I’ll catch him later (because I’m sure we were just gonna go kick it at some after party or something?), but I’m still bummed that I didn’t get the picture.
And then, “Sweetie, do you need 5 more minutes?” In comes Matt with my little chicken butt (aka Chi) in his arms. As Chi banged on his tambourine with his maracas (Do you KNOW what that FEELS and SOUNDS like?) I was definitely awake.
It’s been some hours since I’ve woken up, but that feeling of extreme frustration is like sticky molasses covering my thoughts. I can dilute it, but it’s still there. I have been feeling stuck for a while. Have you ever felt that way? Like you are trying so desperately to get somewhere, but you can’t move. You can’t even think of the next step that you’re supposed to take, so…you just stay.
When I first became a mom, I became so overwhelmed with loss. Even though I had this beautiful gift, there was so much loss to mourn. And I think that that mourning process is so necessary and beneficial. I mourned the loss of “me and you” with Matt . I mourned the loss of my freedom, my friendships (because they definitely change), and even my selfishness. It’s a wonderful feeling to not know how selfish you are. To just operate out of what is convenient, good, and best for you. And then, you have a child, and you are forced to sink or swim. If you swim, you leave traces of your selfishness behind with each lap. If you sink, it’s probably because your selfishness grabbed you by the ankle, and dragged your ass down.
But now, now that I’m sinking less and swimming more, I’m finding that I am overwhelmed by possibilities. I am in an incredible position right now. I have so many options available to me, and I seriously don’t know what to do with them. I never imagined that I would be a stay at home mom because I’d never imagined that I would have the option to choose. But I do, and there are now so many other things that I can choose: dance, taking writing courses, volunteering, exercising, vlogging, reading, researching, learning, going back to Grad School, o em gee, the possibilities are endless! And this sounds like such a bratty first world problem thing to be complaining about. And it really is. But, I wonder, how many seasons of my life did I let pass by without seeing and seeking out the possibilities that were available to me?
As cliche as it sounds, I don’t want to have any regrets at the end. I love that I’m able to devote myself to mothering, but it is equally good for my soul to excel in and put energy into my gifts, talents and interests outside of my family. So, I go to dance class 2-3 times per week. (I’d live at the dance studio if I could!). I write as often as I can (even when I’m not blogging). I recently began volunteering with an organization that I love, and I’m even beginning a new hobby (sneak peak coming soonish!)
What about you? Are you stuck in any part of your life? (I can’t be the only one!) Are there things that you need to eliminate to make room for new additions? Are you seeking out opportunities to nurture your gifts/talents? Whatever your case, I encourage you to carpe effing diem! Get involved in your community, serve others (which I believe is the way to get out of 98% of any emotional funk you will ever encounter throughout your life. 98%. It’s true.), get creative, just start something.
There is truly too much life to live. So take off the velcro suit and move, baby!!
I got my boobs back!!! They are all mine again. I didn’t know that I missed them so much, but I truly did. Thanks, boobies for hanging in there…err…
I made a commitment to myself and Chi to nurse him pretty much on demand until he was at least a year old. I was open to allowing the self-weaning process to lead us, but I began itching for more freedom. Nursing a baby is definitely a life-style choice. Because Chi didn’t take bottles, I needed to be around for every feeding. As he grew into toddler-hood, nursing was mainly a comfort measure and a sleep inducer. I believe that the nursing relationship should end when one or both parties are ready. In this case, I think we both were. Chi would ask to nurse when he was tired or needed comfort, but he was also open to alternatives…like canned pears (lol) or time with daddy. When I felt confident that he didn’t need mama’s milk, and I made sure that we had other ways of bonding fully established, I made the decision to fully wean him from the boob.
The process (for us) took about a month. It felt slow enough that he (and my supply) was able to adjust, but quick enough that it wasn’t dragged out. Were there tears? Yes. And Chi was like “Mama, suck it up. I’m good with my pears and the daddy-man.”
Our last nursing session was on New Years Evening. Which also marked Chi’s 16th month of life. Besides giving birth, there is nothing more meaningful nor beautiful that I have ever done with my body than sustain his life. I know that my journey as a mother will be marked by a million good-byes; leaving the body that we shared, moving away from my breast to self-comfort, beginning school, sharing his heart and fears with others, college, marriage. I will have to say goodbye to my boy a million times, and I’m sure that each good-bye will be difficult in its own way. While I am so relieved to have more freedom to do things that I enjoy (like going to dance class without double bra-ing it up for fear that my milk jugs will fall out of my leotard. Not like that happened or anything…:sigh:), I ache to have more cuddle time with my little man. He now cuddles with daddy at night, content to eat a graham cracker, or cheerios, listen to his bed-time stories, and let daddy pray over him and rock him to sleep. As mamas, there is a sort of dependence that we crave from our babies even though it is natural and necessary for the unit to grow independently.
Chi is growing so quickly, and I am slowly learning how to adjust to being a more well-rounded mother. There were so many times during my time nursing Chi that I truly wondered if I would last til the 1 year mark. In hindsight, those moments were just rough seconds in the lifetime journey. Those were seconds that he needed his mama, and they flew by way too quickly. Now he needs me less and less each day.
So, here’s to me! (Yea, I said it!) For providing milk on tap for 16 months straight. For abstaining from dinner time wine and morning mimosas. Here’s to leaky boobs, and all of the confidence that was gained from nursing in public. Here’s one for all of the friends who continued conversation without missing a beat as I whipped out my girls to calm my hungry baby. Here’s to countless nights, rocking my baby to sleep; wrapped in mama’s arms, soothed by the echo of my heartbeat, and nourished by the sweetest blessing the Lord has every allowed me to experience.
Lots of you ask to see more of Chi, and I totally get it. I’m not much of a social media user, but I’m trying! He’s learning so much! He knows animals and sounds, he’s learning colors, He’s WALKING!!! (which means I’m running. A lot.) He’s learning some basic theology (you’ll be amazed when you see the videos…coming soon!), and is singing several songs. Every night before bed while nursing, he hums “Jesus Loves Me”, “Be Thou My Vision”, and “Amazing Grace” as I sing to him.
But in order to get the full experience of Chi’s singing skills, check out this video of us singing together shortly after waking up. (Ignore the bathrobe, possible crust in eyes, and bags under eyes.)
You’re gonna hear him ROAR!!! AH AH AH AH AH!!! (He’s only 15 months!!! Mad skills)
There has been much controversy lately regarding a series of books listed in this petition. I signed the petition and urged my facebook friends to do the same. I’m not gonna lie; I thought it was a no brainer. I assumed everyone would agree with me, especially after this heart wrenching story of Hana Williams. The petition, as I stated lists 3 books: Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Don’t Make Me Count to Three, and To Train Up a Child. I received a message from a dear friend asking for me to consider reading the full text of specifically To Train Up a Child, and on my wall and another friend’s I saw many in a frenzy in defense of these books. Today, I spent a good chunk of my time reading To Train Up a Child, much to my displeasure. I do not have opinions regarding Shepherding a Child’s Heart or Don’t Make Me Count to Three, because I have not read these books. I will not read these books because 1. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 2. I do not believe in fear based parenting 3. I’m so OVER reading books to tell me how to raise my baby. I strongly believe that parenting is more about my transformation than my forcing transformation on my child. I accept the challenge to be continually transformed, to discipline him with grace (not to be confused with leniency), and to be the best example of Christ that I can.
There are so many disgusting, atrocious quotes from this book. Too many to quote here, but I will give you a few to chew on.
“When the time comes to apply the rod, take a deep breath, relax, and pray, “Lord, make this a valuable learning session. Cleanse my child of ill-temper and rebellion. May I properly represent your cause in this matter.” No jerking around. No raised voice. The child should be able to anticipate the coming rod by your utterly calm and controlled spirit.
At this point, in utter panic, he will rush to demonstrate obedience. Never reward delayed obedience by reversing the sentence. And, unless all else fails, don’t drag him to the place of cleansing. Part of his training is to come submissively. However, if you are just beginning to institute training on an already rebellious child, who runs from discipline and is too incoherent to listen, then use whatever force is necessary to bring him to bay. If you have to sit on him to spank him then do not hesitate. And hold him there until he is surrendered. Prove that you are bigger, tougher, more patiently enduring and are unmoved by his wailing. Defeat him totally. Accept no conditions for surrender. No compromise. You are to rule over him as a benevolent sovereign. Your word is final.
Otherwise, tell him to bend over on the bed or couch; and while he is in this position give some choice admonition. You have his undivided attention. Slowly begin to spank. If you go too fast, you may not allow time enough for the inner transformation to occur.
For the under one year old, a little, ten- to twelve-inch long, willowy branch (striped of any knots that might break the skin) about one-eighth inch diameter is sufficient. Sometimes alternatives have to be sought. A one-foot ruler, or its equivalent in a paddle, is a sufficient alternative. For the larger child, a belt or larger tree branch is effective.”
Am I in the freaking Twilight Zone?! If we are teaching our children about our God through our discipline…I mean… there is so much to say.
“So, my suggestion was that the father explain to the boy that, now that he was a man, he would no longer be washed in the house. He was too big and too stinky to be cleaned by the babywipes. From now on, he would be washed outside with a garden hose. The child was not to be blamed. This was to be understood as just a progressive change in methods. The next dump, the father took him out and merrily, and might I say, carelessly, washed him off. What with the autumn chill and the cold well water, I don’t remember if it took a second washing or not, but, a week later, the father told me his son was now taking himself to the pot. The child weighed the alternatives and opted to change his lifestyle. Since then, several others have been the recipients of my meddling, and it usually takes no more than three cheerful washings.” -Training Up a Child on Potty Training
More helpful advice for the parent who is super enthusiastic about winning the “Most Unqualified, Inhumane Egg/Sperm Donor on the Planet” include:
-pulling infant’s hair to curb biting while nursing (as opposed to helping baby relieve teething pain through other means)
-spanking infants if they refuse to nap (…if you’ve read half of my blog or talked to any parent, you know that babies don’t freaking sleep. They are not being rebellious. Their brains are developing. )
-linking baby-led breastfeeding to obesity, nicotine and other addictions.
“It is not going to harm your child for him to be falsely accused a few times (that’s life). He will have to learn to deal with it sooner or later. When accused, if you have doubts about his guilt, patiently search out the matter. If you determine that he is falsely accused, tell him and then quietly drop the matter. Don’t let him see your defensiveness on his behalf.
If he is roughed-up by his peers, rejoice; he is learning early about the real world. Don’t make a sissy out of him. If you jump to his defense every time another child takes away a toy, pushes your child down, or even pops him in the nose, you will rear a social crybaby.”
I can’t make this stuff up. This book is hellish. I will not change my opinion of it. I understand that we, as Christians are convicted in different ways by the Spirit, but I CAN NOT believe that the Spirit of our God, who calls us to be good stewards of our children, our neighbors, would call us to this type of “leadership”.
In my parenting of Chi, the Lord often brings me to somber thought and grace by asking “How did Mary raise Jesus?” Although my little monster is far from a parallel to Christ, I believe that God gave the best mother to Himself. And I believe that Mary raised Jesus with unmatched tenderness, grace, wisdom, patience, honor and Spirit led discipline. Can you really imagine Mary hosing off Jesus’ behind in the cold? Or turning her head away from his pain? Being emotionally unavailable to a feisty, seemingly super imaginative Jesus, for fear of raising a “cry baby”? There is a certain honor that we are called to bestow upon and within our children. We are called to fill them with dignity and humility. Humility meaning having a right view of oneself. Not a lowly, self deprecating view, but a Godly understanding of who we are in relation to God Almighty.
Really, Mary spanking Jesus because he refused to take a nap?
This is some bull.
Seriously. If anyone can really support this book, I’d really like to have dialogue. There are about 5 more pages that I could type. There is so much research based evidence that proves that these types of parenting techniques will produce emotionally messed up children/adults. Children/Adults that I will spend my life defending and treating. And I take that call and responsibility very seriously. The Lord has made it my passion, so you must understand the gravity of this issue for me.
My child is worthy of honor. Although he is born in sin, he is covered by grace. Although the consequences of his sin is death, we will “train” him to be thankful for life, which is a beautiful phoenix, paid for for all eternity. We will raise him to trust our words, and to trust that the wisdom that we lay as his foundation is for his good, just as he can always trust the words of his perfect Father. We will create an environment that is safe. A place where he knows there need not be any trepidation in drawing near to his parents, because we want him to have the healthiest, clearest, and most Biblically based understanding of who he is and whose he is.
Parenting is so hard in this day and age. There are so many of us that are ill prepared. Who am I kidding? All of us are ill prepared. I pray that we would learn more and more to trust the the God who lives in us and is willing to lead us and speak to us. That his word is beautiful, and the brightest light for our path. I thank God for the community that I have, and I pray that we would learn to lean more and more on the community and voices of people who are near us (especially in this internet age). But because we often live in isolation, we often feel forced to parent and live in extreme measures. We see our children, our spouses as against us. We create wars in our homes and ultimately in our hearts. Parents, you are not called to defeat your children, as this book instructs. You are called to submit to Jesus.
If you feel led, I ask that you would please sign this petition, asking Amazon to ban books advocating child abuse as parenting techniques. If you feel that not all of these books are along that line, create your own petition.
:Sigh: I don’t know where to start…but have you ever just felt like running away?! Ohmygawdi’msotired!!! This isn’t going to be one of those posts that ends with a moral, or a smile, or a “but life is great” take-away. No, this is going to be pretty monotonous straight through.
I am so overwhelmed with this ONE child that I have. Don’t get me wrong; he is soo cute, and hilarious, and takes up most of the love in my heart. He is a beautiful blessing, blah blah blah, I’ve said it all before, but he is more work than I feel I can handle! I can take the climbing on the couch, in drawers, knocking over cups of water, throwing everything in sight, using his plate of food as a frisbee, constant stank poos, tantrums when all of the orange, or raspberries, or grapes are eaten, because that’s what babies do. They destroy, poop, cry and eat. But what I can’t take are the daily battles( 2-3 times per day) for sleep. I’msoexhaustedIcan’tbreath!!!
You’ve seen my posts on facebook, you’ve probably gotten a frantic email/text/facebook message asking you for advice on how to
tame my monster soothe my cherub to sleep, but GOT-DOGGIT (that’s Black talk right there), nothing works! I am was am against Cry It Out Methods for Chi. I see how it works for some babies and hell, if I am ever drunk enough blessed to have another baby, I will seriously consider it. At around 10 months after battling with Malachi at naps, bedtime (pretty much exactly what we’re still doing at 13 months), our pediatrician suggested that we give it a try. We did. We were successful at first. But instead of getting progressively easier (baby cries for 15 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 5, then,baby magically puts themselves to sleep!) this mutant baby got progressively worse. A lot worse. My instincts told me that something was off, so after talking to the doctor, she suggested we stop, and assumed that he was at the peak of separation anxiety. She suggested we start again after 12 months.
Is this even coherent? Look, the point is…ain’t nothing working and I feel like my emotional ish is about to hit the fan. I can’t imagine having another baby (I used to want such a big family!) .I am emotionally and physically drained! Although Chi’s night sleep has gotten much better (wakes only 3x/night), I’m still rocking him for naps until drowsy, which can take a minute, then he wakes 30-45 minutes later still very tired but refusing to sleep. The afternoon nap is even worse. Usually I have no choice but to let him cry for 10+minutes because he pretends to be full of energy as soon as I place him in his crib, so I leave. When I come back he finally submits and falls asleep. Only to wake 30-45 minutes later.
- read every book
- watched every sleepy cue
- put him on a schedule
- changed the schedule
- went back to the schedule
- read every sleep article on the net
- watched every sleep video
- hired a sleep doula
- anointed him and his room
- prayed like crazy
- begged him to sleep
- locked myself in the closet
danced for the sleep gods
- binged on ice cream
- had several pity parties
- researched tubal ligation vs. vasectomy (I’m NOT repeating THIS ordeal) (i’m not joking. This will soon be a serious post in my ‘Marriage’ category)
Please, please, please help me. I am so in need of prayer, encouragement, stories of how awful your babies were. Please don’t tell me about your angel baby who slept through the night in the womb (whatever that means). I want to hear about AWFUL babies…to make me feel better :hangs head:
And, I apologize if you’ve seen me out in public in the past few weeks. I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday and damn near cried.
I just want to run away. Real talk.
In August, we ventured out on our first family vacation. With a bourgeois puppy and sleep allergic 11month old in tow, I’m not gonna lie; My basement was backed up for about a week preparing for this trip (if you know what I mean! I can’t help it. Happens every time I’m stressed). So! :black girl blush: after packing diapers, wipes, sunblock, coconut oil (don’t leave home without it! We us it as a skin and hair moisturizer for the whole family), squeeze pouches of food, puffs, sippy cups, bibs, cheerios, and the other essentials, like clothes, we were ready to head out.
Mind you, I packed Chi’s stuff a few days in advance, which means I stuffed all of my belongings in a bag the night before. Before baby, I would’ve packed enough clothes and make-up to last me a good month just in case my luggage didn’t arrive (always pack clothes in the carry on), or…I wanted to change outfits 3x’s a day. Not that I ever do, but just in case. This time I barely made it out with enough underwear and toothpaste. Parenting changes lives, y’all. Trust.
I woke Chi up at 6am (he was still in his crib at that point). I was scared. My little man is sensitive, so waking him up early can be a joyful experience (“woah, Mama! you woke me before I woke you?! You win the day! Gimme some love! :smiles and babble), or a run and hide for your life kind of thing (“Curses, you woman!! Let me sleeeep!! I will cry and scream until the authorities come and lock you away!!!”).
Luckily, this was a joyful experience. I crept into his room, leaned over his crib, and sang his theme song while rubbing his back. (Yes, baby boy has a theme song. I made it for him when he was about 4 days old, and Matt and I sing it every time we wake him up.). He rubbed his eyes, and allowed me to scoop him up without protesting. I sat in the glider and nursed him as he drifted in and out of sleep. I was hoping that I might be able to load him into the carseat while asleep, but his furry brother came galloping into the room exclaiming “Ruff Bark Bark Bark” and some other ish that means “It’s vacay time!!!” in dog speak. So Chi was up and ready to go. He entertained himself in the backseat as we drove from G-ville to Jacksonville, with only a brief spell of crying which was coupled with the stench of “baby let it OUT!” So, I changed his diaper in the car and we boarded the shuttle to get to the airport.
At this point, it had been about 2 hours since Chi woke, which meant it was nap time. He was starting to get a little fussy, so while on the shuttle I nursed him. Here’s the thing. Have you seen this commercial ?It didn’t take a second child for me to get to this point. Once you have a screaming hungry baby and heavy, leaking jugs of milk attached to your body, you couldn’t care less about who’s looking. I don’t remember when it happened, but around 3 months of breastfeeding, I decided that I was not going to be ashamed of feeding my baby. It’s ridiculous to allow the brokenness of society to have such power over my body and mothering. So, I nursed him and he started to drift off, but with all of the sights, he just couldn’t commit.
I usually try to wear clothing that will allow Chi and I the privacy that we need. On this particular day, I wore a blazer that covered the majority of my breast, and gave him a dark space that he could nestle in should he fall asleep. The last time that I traveled with Chi, I boarded the plane while nursing him. This time, I left the shuttle with him still latched on. I try to make sure that when he does unlatch, I can quickly cover my boob to ensure no one gets a free peek. I almost didn’t make it this time because he was soo excited to see where we were. This is the only part about breastfeeding that still makes me a little anxious, but I am rarely in these kinds of situations.
Throughout our travels to and fro, I nursed him in the Ergo and eventually got him to sleep there as well. And on both flights, I was able to nurse him to sleep on the plane. Everyone around us commented on what a great baby he is (well, duh!). There were no tantrums, no melt downs, no tears! I nursed him as we ascended into the air to avoid his ears from popping. Every time he seemed tired or overwhelmed, I offered him milk and he’d calm down or sleep.
*A little known fact about breastfeeding is that it releases oxytocin and prolactin, which helps mothers relax and even makes you feel sleepy. Like the ‘itis hit you hard! So his frequent nursing really helped to comfort me as well.
I’m always aware of who’s around me when I’m nursing in public. For the most part, people are very respectful. I’ve had the occasional stare-er, but they’ve always been women, who are mothers, and we usually end up having conversations about our children and how precious this stage of motherhood is. As I write this, I have been breastfeeding for exactly 1 year and 2 weeks! That’s a lot of milk and so much bonding time with my boy. We are in the serious weaning process now as he’s eating full grown man meals now and my milk supply is slowly dwindling.
As our breastfeeding experience is coming to an end, I have plenty of memories to laugh at (fighting with a screaming baby for 15 minutes trying to get him to nurse under one of those covers), and so much to be proud of. I feel like a Breastfeeding Ninja, whatever that means. When I first began, I was running to the parking lot to secretly nurse my baby in the car. Now, I’ve nursed in the mall, airport, doctor’s office, at the park, church, Target, restaurants; basically everywhere that Malachi and I have traveled together.
You go, boobs! And you go God for giving me such portable feeding devices! To infinity and beyond!
I never wanted to be a stay at home mom. Housewife. Home-maker. “Non-working”. The truth is, I’d never imagined that when I had children, I would be able to choose how much time to invest in hands on motherhood. As a child, I’d always imagined that my schedule would mirror the the women that raised me and who’s lives I mimicked as I raised my 7 plastic baby girls. I would wake early in the morning, and in the still of the house, I would quietly shuffle around in my house slippers, humming some melody that wanted so desperately to be sang. Something beautiful and sleepy that would lull my family back to sleep if I couldn’t resist singing a few words. Ella, or Billie. I would take my morning wash up, primp my face, take out my pink foam rollers, and dress myself in my fabulous outfit that I’d decided upon the previous night.
Once dressed, I’d go into the kitchen, and quietly cook a breakfast for my family to wake up to. A pot of grits simmering on the stove, and turkey-ham, cheese and egg sandwiches keeping warm in the oven. I’d always make sure to wake thirty minutes early to do this. Lord forbid my children had to eat cold cereal on a week day. Once breakfast was complete, I’d make myself a cup of coffee, pour it in my thermos, and before I left for my job, I’d go and wake my children. I’d go to each of their rooms (of course at least one baby would be in my own bed), making certain that their butts were out of the bed, and then I’d head out, leaving their rooms filled with the scent of my Jean Nate body splash.
At 3:15, I would call home to make sure that everyone made it home safely and had started their homework. If one of my children were old enough to watch the others, they would be at home. If not, they would be at their grandma’s. By 5:30, I would have picked up the children, and I would begin preparing dinner. Meatloaf or spaghetti, or baked chicken. Something simple for a weekday. If my husband were home, we’d sit around the dinner table and eat our meal, teaching the children proper etiquette and asking about their days. If he were working late, I’d spread a table cloth on the living room floor, and we’d all lay on our bellies and eat our dinner and drink our Kool-Aid, and I’d laugh as the kids pretended to churn mashed potatoes out of their mouths.
At some point, the distinct smell of ivory soap would fill the air as baths were given, and slowly, one by one, my babies would get in their beds, say their prayers and give me the rest that I needed. My youngest would probably wake once before I went to bed, and would require me to snuggle up close until their breathing became heavy and deep again. I’d drink a cup of hot tea and watch
Arsenio Hall HGTV. My husband would come home and we’d canoodle on the couch before retiring to bed.
And then, I’d do the same thing all over again.
Man, that life sounds so exciting! I understand why I was so attracted to motherhood. I don’t even know what my mother did when she went to work. Something with the IRS. But I knew that that life was for me! I was about that life! My mama smelled good, looked fly, and got more compliments for her cooking than Julia Child (in my eyes). Perhaps the grass is always greener, but on most days, being a working mom seems glamorous and freeing.
Before I had Malachi, I was a MSW student at Loyola University Chicago. I was nauseous during orientation, as I was 7 weeks along. I knew that I wanted to finish school, but I also knew that that would be an arduous task being so far away from family and friends. At 7 months, I took a leave of absence, hoping to return to school after 3 months post- partum. After 2 weeks of being a mom, I knew I couldn’t return. Who would I trust to leave Chi with? How would I nurture our breastfeeding relationship with ease? How would we afford good childcare?
And so it was decided. I would stay at home and take care of Chi full time. And thus began the most challenging job
I’ve ever had I will ever have. I wake early in the morning (never on my own accord) to a tiny hand in my shirt for breakfast milk, or the sweetest sloppy “good morning mama” kiss, or the most common occurrence, a never ending high pitched song of “Daa-Da! Daaa-Da!Daaaa-Daaaa!!!: as Chi crawls over me to slap Matt awake:
I don’t smell good on most days. 6 days out of the week I’m wearing yoga pants, running shorts, t-shirts, bare face. I keep my hair braided to cut down on time I have to spend looking “together”. I have meltdowns on a pretty regular basis when I realize out loud “Shit! Its 4:30 and the chicken’s still frozen! Shit! sorry, Chi! Don’t listen to mama. Bad, bad language!”
My back aches at the end of every day from leaning over a crib, coaxing a baby to sleep during nap time. My feet are sometimes punctured from stepping on tiny matchbox cars that are flung around the house. Daily life has lots of disappointments :Failed naps, fighting naps, not eating a lunch that I’ve worked soo hard on! (Come on! Who doesn’t like grilled cheese, child?!), tantrums, food throwing. And this sounds kind of petty. But when you’re sometimes running on 6 hours of sleep, without any down time, and chasing a crawler who wants to be held and left alone simultaneously, it’s cray cray.
But, I often have to remind myself to reflect on the beautiful parts of my days as well. Snacks outside by the pool, sweet cuddles, seeing Chi growing physically and emotionally as he learns to cruise and share his food and toys with me, being chased by a squealing crawler, lunch dates and park outings and tickling toes and dance parties.
And this life, is beautiful.This life is difficult, and it drains my energy, but each morning, it fills me with purpose and and a deep respect for the intricate art of motherhood.