"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.


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Recovering from Momopause

At 34, I’ve already had my quarter-life crisis, and I’m too young for a mid-life crisis. (Right? RIGHT?) But something is definitely going on with me. I’m suddenly incredibly into the idea of totally and completely changing my physical appearance. In addition to my desire to get fit and back down to my college weight (after 3 babies, this is harder than I ever could have imagined), I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting a nose ring; getting a really short, edgy haircut; and highlighting my hair some insanely bright color. Like fiery red, or maybe turquoise. And maybe some more tattoos.

Essentially, I want to go from average, plain Jane mom to someone more along the lines of Pink.

And after much soul searching, my friends, I’ve discovered that the reason I’m feeling compelled to do this is because I want to drag myself out of what I’m terming momopause.

mom · o ·pause (noun) \mah muh poz\

The cessation of the ability to care about one’s physical appearance after having kids; period may be as brief as a few weeks after delivery or possibly permanent (usually dependent on one’s level of motivation and the number of kids one has); more than not results from loss of time to oneself for maintaining even basic hygiene (e.g., brushing teeth, showering) due to selflessly caring for others (including, but not limited to, a spouse or significant other, children, pets, strangers) and putting their needs first.

Here is where a visual may be helpful. This is me on any given day:

Hello, my name is Mackenzie, and I suffer from momopause!

Hello, my name is Mackenzie, and I suffer from momopause!

Eeeeeek, can’t believe I just showed a full-body shot here. Ah well, here I am in all my glory, I suppose.

Before kids I showered regularly, did my hair and makeup, and liked, at the very least, to look presentable. I enjoyed getting my nails done from time to time (or even doing them myself at home) and going clothes shopping. Today, I’m lucky if I can find a clean shirt to throw on over my most-comfortable pair of yoga pants and brush the mess that is my hair before running out the door. (And if I don’t have anywhere to go, fahgeddaboudit.) And it’s an extra lucky day if I can remember to brush my teeth. Terribly cliche. But true nonetheless.

It’s not exactly that I don’t care what I look like, because I’d be lying if I said that were the case, I just don’t have the time to do much about anything. (Note in my definition of “momopause” I said it’s the “cessation of the ability to care about one’s physical appearance…” Like, there just isn’t time even if I wanted to do anything about it!)

So, how am I going to recover from this momopause? Well, the first step is admitting that I do in fact suffer from momopause. I think the picture I shared here speaks for itself. But, if you want a full-on confession, here it is: Hello, my name is Mackenzie, and I suffer from momopause.

The second step is to make some changes–you know, the piercing and dye job and tattoos I was talking about earlier. Ok, well I probably won’t pierce my nose or get any more tattoos (probably), but I think I will look into doing something fun and a little outside of my comfort zone with my hair. And I’m making a pledge to drag myself into the shower more often–for my sake as well as those around me–and get dressed up even on days when I have nowhere to go. (And by “dressed up” I mean throw on some jeans and a nice, colorful, stain-free shirt.) Maybe even get back to getting my nails done every now and then. Basically, treat myself to some fun and allow some time for me to feel good about me. Like I used to.

An important point I’d like to make here is that I’m not doing any of this for anyone other than me. I honestly do not care what other people think about how I look or dress (well, maybe with the exception of my husband), and if it made me feel good, I’d keep up this low-maintenance, no-time-to-do-much, chic look for eternity. But it doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me feel frumpy. And older than my years. And completely un-me. And I need to get back to feeling like me.

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I’m In: The Orange Rhino Challenge

“IF YOU DO THAT ONE MORE TIME YOU’RE GOING IN TIMEOUT!”

“WHAT MADE YOU THINK THAT WAS A GOOD IDEA?!”

“HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU NOT TO DO THAT?!”

Enough with the all caps already, right? Well, if that annoyed you just reading it, can you imagine how my kids felt hearing me scream those things? How I felt after losing my cool and screaming at them? This happens in my house more than I’d like to admit. Which makes my kids feel shitty. Makes me feel shitty. So I’m going to do something about it.

I love my kids. Fiercely. And I tell them that so many times a day they often roll their eyes at me. I’m the first to admit, however, that I have very little patience. This is something I’ve known and dealt with my whole life and something that I actively work on. I didn’t say successfully work on, but actively. I’m trying. Really. Or so I thought I was until I read The Orange Rhino’s “10 Things I Learned When I Stopped Yelling at My Kids.” (If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you read her post. It so precisely describes, in my opinion, probably every parent’s struggle with the guilt associated with yelling at your kids.)

button5This amazing woman made it her mission to stop yelling at her kids for 1 year. A whole mother-loving, freaking year. (And as of today, she’s made it 418 days!) And she didn’t just say she wasn’t going to yell, she actually came up with a plan for how to meet her goal. Like an actual plan, with guidelines for what constitutes yelling, a yelling meter to distinguish various levels of yelling, tracking resources, rules for counting days . . . And then she turned her plan into a challenge. A challenge for other parents to stop all the yelling, too.

After reading all about The Orange Rhino Challenge, I realized that my “efforts” to work on my patience and stop yelling weren’t efforts at all. They were just thoughts that didn’t translate into meaningful actions. The conviction in my head and heart was there, but what good is that if I’m not following through with my actions? “Actions speak louder than words,” I always say. Say. Words. I wasn’t doing. “Aww hell!”

But now I am. I am going to take the challenge. I am proclaiming that as of today, April 1, 2013, my goal is to make it 365 days without yelling at my kids. And then, like The Orange Rhino, I want to keep going. And going, and going. I want to stop feeling shitty when I break down and yell at my kids. I want my kids to stop feeling shitty when I break down and yell at them. I want to stop breaking down and yelling at my kids! I want to learn new methods for dealing with my anger and lack of patience. This problem is all on me. Not my kids. I want to do better by them. I want to be a good role model for them because, quite honestly, I am already starting to see a lot of this yelling behavior beginning in them, and it breaks my heart. I want it all to stop.

It’s a lofty goal, I know, but I’m in. For my kids. For me.

Who wants to join me? (If you do, I promise we can hold hands and sing “Kumbaya.” But quietly. Didn’t you hear there’s no more yelling around  here?) 🙂


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Multiple Personality Parenting

Each of my kids has a different mom. Sort of. No we didn’t adopt. No we didn’t use surrogates. I definitely grew and birthed all three of them. Believe me, I remember. But I have a mommy confession: I parent each of my kids differently. I suppose you could call it multiple personality parenting. But I like to call it doing what’s best for my kids. Each one of them. Individually.

Before having kids, I knew exactly the type of parent I wanted to be. My hubby and I talked through everything. I was going to breastfeed. We weren’t going to use binkies. We weren’t going to introduce tv for the first two years. We’d make all of our own baby food. We wouldn’t eat fast food. We weren’t going to co-sleep. We weren’t going to use spanking as a form of discipline. In other words, we had it all worked out. We were so pleased with the kick-ass parents we were going to be.

And then we actually had a kid.

And you know what? Aside from a few circumstances beyond our control (our first was born 11 weeks early and couldn’t breastfeed, for example), we were pretty much able to be those kick-ass parents we dreamed of being. Belle was such an easy baby. She slept well wherever–in her crib, the swing, the pack ‘n play. She ate well. She naturally fell into a sleeping and feeding schedule very early on. She travelled well. She hardly ever fussed. Looking back, it’s no wonder we were able to be those ideal parents we had set out to be. We didn’t have any resistance, and Belle’s personality meshed so well with how we wanted to parent.

And so we had a second kid.

And boy did this throw a monkey wrench into things. Enter Saurus. I am not exaggerating when I say that he was the complete opposite of his sister in every single way as a baby. He was the king of fussy babies. He didn’t sleep well. He cried all the time. We could never seem to get him on a consistent sleeping or feeding schedule. And god forbid we try to take him out of town. Or out to a restaurant for that matter. Any time we’d start to make progress with him, something would happen to land us right back where we started.

I was in shock. I was depressed. I was confused. I felt like a failure. And I was left analyzing every parenting philosophy that my husband and I swore to abide by and that worked with our first child. I felt like I was a first time mom all over again. I had done all of this before. What the hell was the problem? What was I doing wrong?

I started getting angry. And frustrated. I blamed my child. What was wrong with this kid? Why couldn’t he just sleep like his sister? Why couldn’t he eat like his sister? Why couldn’t he be easy-going like his sister? Why was he making it so hard for me to parent him like I did with his sister?

Because he wasn’t his sister. BECAUSE HE WASN’T HIS SISTER!! This realization hit me like a ton of bricks. What the hell was I doing? Why was I trying to parent my children the same exact way when they clearly had very different needs?

This was another “aww hell” moment for me. I realized that the perfect, kick-ass parent I was able to be with Belle was because that was the type of parent she needed. Saurus, on the other hand, needed me to be an entirely different parent. In many ways, the type of parent I had never intended on being. Where Belle was content to be put to bed awake and drift herself off to sleep without a peep, Saurus needed to be rocked, and swayed, and cuddled until he fell into a deep sleep and could finally be put into bed. Where Belle could sit in her swing and be content for 30 minutes to watch her little birdies fly ’round and ’round, Saurus couldn’t stand to be in one place for more than 5 minutes at a time. Where Belle was independent, Saurus was clingy and needy.

This was a difficult realization for me. One that was not apparent in the baby books I read or in the advice I was given from family and friends. Sure, the “do what’s best for you and your kids” mantra was thrown around a lot–heck, I’ve even shared that advice with people–but the missing piece for me was that this mantra applies to each child. Individually.  “Do what’s best for this kid. But also do what’s best for that kid.”

And then we had a third kid. And although at 8 months he’s just now coming into is own, we’ll be parenting him the same way as we parent our older two. By whatever methods work best for him.

Don’t get me wrong. My kids are not running around willy nilly doing whatever the hell they want. We have rules and we have consequences for breaking the rules. We have expectations for our kids to behave in certain ways in certain circumstances, and we have consequences when this doesn’t happen. But our approaches for fostering these behaviors are not the same for each of our kids.

With Belle, for example, the mere mention that she might have to go to timeout is usually enough to get her behavior in check. With Saurus, we usually need to not only put him in timeout but also take away a toy or privilege before he understands we mean business. With Belle, a hug and a quick kiss is usually all it takes to help her feel better when she is upset. With Saurus, we often have to hold him in a tight embrace until he is calm.

And we’ll do whatever works best for the baby. Once we have some more time under our belts and learn what this is.

What about consistency? What about being fair? How can you possibly parent your children so differently? Well, we’re consistent when something works. And then when it doesn’t, we find something else that does. Our consistency is always doing what is best for our children. And this seems pretty fair to me.

I’m learning that as my kids get older, my parenting needs to evolve every day, every second for each of my kids. Sometimes what’s best for one kid is best for all. But sometimes it isn’t. And sometimes what’s best for one kid on one day, isn’t what’s best for that kid on another day. And that’s ok. At least for me. Because I know that “I am exactly the kind of mother my children need.” Each one of them.

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Thanks to Leslie over at The Bearded Iris (http://www.thebeardediris.com) for letting me quote her here. When I saw this image on her page it really resonated with me and boiled down everything I wanted to say in one sentence. I just knew it would fit perfectly here.


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A Day in the Life: In Pictures

If you didn’t pick up on all of my whining these past few days, I am sick. Sicker than I’ve been in a very long time kinda sick. And not surprisingly, it suuuuuuuuuuuucks to be sick when you have to take care of other human beings, including one that is also sick. And a baby. And can’t do anything for himself.

As I was sitting home the other day being all sick, I started taking pictures of the havoc the kids were wreaking on the house and texting them to Super as I lay–head pounding, nose running, eyes burning–on the couch with very little energy to get up and redirect their never-ending energy. Partly because I wanted him to be prepared for what he would be coming home to, and partly because the child in me thought it was kinda, sorta funny. Like, holy cow, how can all of this stuff possibly be happening funny, not holy cow, that’s not gonna be fun to clean up funny.

After my third picture, Super texted back that I should include the pics in a blog post about what happens at home when mamma is sick and can’t do jack crap about it. “Brilliant,” I thought. But then I really started thinking…what was happening in my house on this day was no different than what happens on any other given day, really. The only difference this day was that I was too incapacitated to really care. (I’m not going to lie, it was a nice change of pace.)

It also got me thinking about a great post I recently read about how we really need to stop telling lies on Facebook. So I decided to share a photo essay from a day in our life. Our real life. Scabs and all.

Now, because I didn’t think of this until close to the end of the day, these photos are not all from one day, BUT, I can promise they were all taken before I (errrr, Super) came up for the idea for this post. And they definitely represent a usual day with the wild things! Enjoy.

[Quick note: The editor in me feels I must share this…I am a little bit technologically challenged, so I know that all of the captions are not the same size or font, but I just could not get it all to be consistent, and this is driving me bat shit crazy. But, I don’t know how to fix it, so it is what it is. Recognize.]

This is how our days start -- with all the monkeys piling up in our bed

This is how our days start — with all the monkeys piling up in our bed

pic1

We do some tv

We do some tv

pic 2

pic 3 pic 4

pic 5

pic 6

pic 7pic 7

pic 8   pic 9

pic 9

pic 10

pic 11

It’s all exhausting. And all worth it.

What does a typical day in YOUR life look like? I want to see!


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Letting Punky Brewster Be

Making coloring look good!

Making coloring look good!

Belle is quite the little fashionista. Always has been. The girl has been dressing herself since she could put on her clothes all by herself. And even before that she was picking out her own outfits, often giving me looks reserved for angsty teenagers who hate their parents if I offered her anything less than highly fashionable.

Boots wit da fur

Boots wit da fur (with leggings rolled up and leg warmers)

My mom says I was like this when I was little. When recounting stories of my outfit choices, she always refers to my “Punky Brewster” look. Growing up in the 80s, my outfits usually went something like this: rainbow something or other, a faded tshirt with some sort of animal on it, and shorts with piping along the hem. Oh, and jelly shoes. Had to have the jelly shoes. So, the girl gets it honestly. You could say fashion is in her jeans! (Heh heh.)

Although, I think for me, my fashion sense stemmed from not really caring what I was wearing–you know, just throwing stuff together (I was probably more interested in getting outside to play); for Belle, it’s just the opposite. She does care and is very deliberate with her choices.

Even baby Saurus is in awe of her style

Even baby Saurus is in awe of her style

I have to admit, it took me a little while to embrace Belle’s Punky Brewster style. I’d buy her outfits in which everything matched, you know, where all of the pieces were bought to go together–the pants with the shirt and the matching socks. I’d fill her drawers with said outfits, all the corresponding pieces together in one place, so all she would have to do was grab an outfit and go. Instead, Belle would grab pieces from two different outfits and put them together. And it wasn’t a quick or thoughtless venture either. She had to have just the right mixture. When she’d come to me with the black and white polka dot pants paired with the multicolored striped shirt, my type A personality would take over and I’d try to get her to change one of the pieces so that things matched. As you can imagine, this led to tantrums and tears.

Not afraid to try something new

Not afraid to try something new

I tried to hold my ground. After all, I was the parent and she was the child. It pained me to find her drawers completely disheveled after I folded her laundry and put everything away nicely and neatly. Plus, I had bought those polka dot pants to go with the polka dot shirt, dammit, and that’s what I wanted her to wear.

But then I had one of my first (of many many) “Aww hell!” moments. In the grand scheme of things, what did it matter what the child was wearing? At least she was wearing clothes, right? And who was I to tell my clearly budding fashionista what to wear? Heck, 9 times out of 10 she’d look better than me. (And sadly, this is still the case.)

Most recent dress-over-nightgown-over-pants look

Most recent dress-over-nightgown-over-pants look

So, I let go. I stopped buying “outfits” and instead just started buying a bunch of tops and bottoms and let her have at it. I no longer care how her clothes go into her drawers or how they come out. As long as she is happy, I’m happy.

And, I wouldn’t be surprised if 15 years from now you’ll be seeing people wearing clothes Belle has designed. Well, either that or she’ll be a teacher. Or a doctor like her daddy. Or a police officer. Or an artist. She told me the other day she wants to be all these things when she grows up.

Go for it, girl! One thing is for sure, whatever you do, you’ll be stylin. 🙂