Today’s Mothers Will Spend A Lifetime Letting It Go

The year is 2076.

A woman, frail and old, lies dying in her bed. A well-loved woman, she is surrounded by her children, her children’s children, and even a few great-grandbabies. The blinds are drawn and the mood is somber.

Her grandson, now a strapping man with his own children, leaves her bedside to meet with some other relatives and friends who have gathered outside her room.

“It can’t be long now,” he tells them. “She’s really starting to lose it. She just said something about 8,000 salad plates when we offered her a sip of water, and she’s making up words. I could swear I heard her talking about ‘fractals.'”

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Eating For One-ish

A few weeks ago, long after the kids were in bed, my husband found me basking in the glowing light of the refrigerator. The door slowly closed, exposing me and my late-night snack in full glory: a milkshake in one hand and some homemade guacamole in the other.

His eyes widened, a sudden surge of panic rising in his throat. He choked it down and with a solemn whisper asked: “Are you…?”

“Am I WHAT?” I asked impatiently, as I shoved some tortilla chips in my face and walked past him. Adorable, I know.

“You’re not… no. No, you can’t be.” He managed a hard swallow and grasped the countertop for support. “Pregnant again?”

My jaw fell right into the chocolate ice cream rimming the frosted glass. “PREGNANT? Who said I was PREGNANT? Have you been drinking?”

As his expression softened with relief, I saw him stifle a laugh. His eyes drew down to my hands, which were now dipping tortilla chips straight into the milkshake.

“You have got to be joking right now,” I said to him, ready to launch into a rant about how a woman can eat 3 avocados worth of guacamole if she damn well wants to. He snorted behind his grin, raised his hands in surrender, and retreated to the living room.

My husband is not a judgy man, and if anything, laments about how my pregnancies have affected his own weight. Our mutual foodiness is something that has brought us closer in many ways over the years, so his observation struck a momentary chord.

It’s not an easy pill to swallow, but I am ready to talk about it.

My name is Catherine. My baby has been on the outside for five months, and I still eat like I’m pregnant.

In my earlier years, I was never a big eater, and certainly not a passionate one. Some may have even called me picky, uninterested in all things gourmet. But similar to the phenomenon that occurs after a few bottles of wine, being pregnant makes food so much better to me. It tastes better, smells better, feels better, and a considerable amount of my gestational period is spent inventing new recipes or trying new food combinations to quell my cravings. I love it. LOVE IT.

Is there anything more comforting than being surrounded by the smoky, piggy goodness that is chipotle pulled pork roasting in your oven all day? Have you felt the full-body satisfaction that comes with painting a pie shell with molten chocolate before filling it with strawberries and cream? Do you know what it feels like to bite into a spicy chicken sandwich and achieve nirvana?

These things come naturally for a pregnant lady, and everyone understands it. They welcome it, even. But the minute that baby pops out, suddenly it’s weird for me to be considering a kielbasa taco? (Okay, that one was weird. You win, judgers.)

I began to question myself. Am I eating my feelings? Am I so busy feeding the kids that I forget to eat and then shove as many calories into my pie-hole as I can to make up for it later? Do I have any leftover pee sticks to be sure?

The next day, I attended a CPR-certification class with a few friends. And as I hovered over the snack table with them, one of whom is actually pregnant, I timidly recounted how embarrassing it was that my husband thought I, too, might be eating for two again based on my snack intake the night before.

They stepped back and looked at me. “But… you’re nursing. Right?”

RIGHT! How could I forget about nature’s grace period? I learned three things that day:

1. There are few things more important in life than some lady friends to remind you exactly how normal you are, even as you’re trying to smuggle caprese salad in your napkin for the ride home after a class about choking hazards.

2. An extra 500 calories a day to support a breastfeeding baby can look like anything I want, damnit. In fact, I think the recommended guidelines specify, “500 calories, plus or minus a cobbler.”

3. They say breast is best* for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to its ability to shamelessly extend a mother’s pregnant eating habits.

*Unless we’re grilling, in which case I really prefer thighs. Charred with some brown sugar and spices. Remind me to pick up some more avocados. And tortillas. And ice cream.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day! But Please Don’t Touch Me

I woke up this morning with my sleeping two-year-old’s finger up my nose, her skull resting squarely on top of mine, and I’m pretty sure her hot mouth-breath was steaming the lines out of my forehead.

I have spent hours upon hours today with many small children — whom I love dearly! — climbing on my body, pulling at my clothes, wiping their fluids on me. They poke me, squeeze me, sneeze on me, rub their faces into me, curl up on me, and wrap their limbs around me so tightly I have nightmares of being squeezed to death by squids when I finally close my eyes at night.

And although I love you too and always strive to make us a priority, I’m going to ask that you keep your sexy man hands to yourself for a hot minute. Mama needs some PERSONAL SPACE before I can mentally switch gears from mom to wife.

So please keep the following in mind before you turn up the slow jamz:

It may be Valentine’s Day, but our kids spent a solid three minutes today pinching my stretched-out bellybutton before I felt the baby’s diaper thundering in my bare hand. So I’m going to need you to hold your horses.

It may be Valentine’s Day, but I haven’t even peed since I woke up this morning. And during that solitary trip to the bathroom, our newly potty trained child followed me in… and offered to wipe me. So let’s just pause a moment while I try to burn that endearing hypothetical out of my immediate chain of thoughts.

It may be Valentine’s Day, but I’m wearing the same bra I wore yesterday and then fell asleep in last night. And then the baby spit up into my cleavage and it pooled there for awhile until this bra soaked it up and I forgot about it. So I’m going to need some time to regroup, and maybe to torch the Victoria’s Secret catalogue that’s sitting on the kitchen counter under the spatter of orange macaroni powder.

It may be Valentine’s Day, but our daughter wiped her nose on my arm today, then examined it and told me it was mashed bananas. (It was not.) So why don’t you just keep your distance until I can scrub both the arm and the memory?

It may be Valentine’s Day, but I just spent 85 percent of the day on my knees. Let me beat you to the punch line of that joke by telling you it was spent scraping dried spaghetti sauce off the floor, rounding up approximately a billion sensory beans, and scrubbing pee-pee out of the carpet. So as sexy as my hole-in-the-knees mom pants are, I’m going to go ahead and take a breather.

It may be Valentine’s Day, but that crazed look in my eye is the result of repeated exposure to toys that light up, honk, or sing “Let It Go” in Spanish. So please don’t be offended when you find me huddled in a dark corner rambling incoherently to myself instead of waxing poetic about romance tonight.

It may be Valentine’s Day, but I cooked three meals today with the big kid wrapped around my leg, the little one on my hip sucking my ponytail, and the middle one sprawled on the floor crying to be held. Or danced with. Or guided through “the biggest jump ever.” So for dessert, I think I’ll have an order of silent meditation — make it a double!

It may be Valentine’s Day, but I just (finally!) got the baby down, and I have already bartered with God about letting her stay asleep this time. If we wake her, I will likely have to nurse her for another twenty minutes, and to say my ta-tas are experiencing an identity crisis in moments like these is the understatement of the year. So let’s just be quiet for, I dunno, six more hours.

I love you, you are super hot, and I swear I will make us my priority again soon (maybe next Valentine’s Day?). But today, our kids were so ON me they might as well have still been INSIDE me, and I desperately need to recharge before I can look into your dreamboat eyes and think of anything but how good it would feel to shut mine and pass out.

So for now, let’s just enjoy some champagne and strawberries that haven’t been cut into quarters. Let’s sit by the fire and remember why we fell in love a lifetime ago. Hold me close throughout the night, shielding me from the toddler who tries to jump on my face at 3 a.m. Thanks for understanding — your ability to love me through this season of marriage (and willingness to wipe up all the spills while I recharge) boosts our prospects for tomorrow. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Talking to Parents of Large Families — For Dummies

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Hello there, friends and strangers!

I can sense you are feeling a bit uncomfortable about the number of small children accompanying me (or perhaps just the one who’s wearing nothing but mittens and a cut-off?). There are only three of them, but I understand that can be overwhelming and may even seem to border on reckless to an innocent bystander like yourself. Let me temporarily halt the tyke-frenzied chaos surrounding me to address your questions and concerns about the pack of baby elephants in the room that is my flagrantly giant family.

No, I don’t know how babies are made! I also don’t know how birth control works (do I really have to take it every day, or can I just crush it into a fine powder and make a wish as I blow it into the breeze?), but I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please, tell me more. Be as specific as possible and feel free to include your political agenda so I know who to vote for. If you could also draw me a diagram of my lady parts, I might be able to figure out what I’m doing wrong and where the hell all these tiny people keep coming from! LOL I can’t call the Pope — I don’t speak Italian!

You say the ideal number of children is one less than I already have? THANK GOD YOU SAID SO — here, take the middle one.

Yes, my hands are so full. SO. FULL. It’s probably a result of my small carnie hands. Your hands, though, look empty — and, if I may say so, devilishly idle. So pointing out my hands full o’ baby sounds to me like an offer to help. Feel free to finish my grocery shopping for me and stop by around 7 p.m. to babysit while I date my husband. Don’t worry — you can give me pointers on how to avoid having more babies after the date!

I know what you’re thinking: There’s a lady who wants some parenting advice! Thank you for your terse suggestion to give my crying baby a pretzel or perhaps my car keys. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that!

While you’re here, would you mind disciplining my children? Because I’ve obviously got more than I can handle well, and in what probably looks like a very embarrassing and high-stress moment for me, what I really need is to pause and listen to a hindsight account of how you got your kids to obey you in 1974. Could you also drive it home to my two-year-old that her emotional meltdown is cramping the day of a perfect stranger? Because you’re right; no one likes little girls who cry!

Are we done having kids yet? I’ll let you decide. It will depend entirely on how much your face looks like this while I’m considering my answer:

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How will I send them all to college? In a van! Get it? I always like to start an unsolicited discussion about my financial well-being with a joke. But seriously, I knew there was a reason I brought my bank statements out with me today. PHEW!

Who are these Duggars you speak of? Tell me all about them!

You don’t know how I do it? I’ll give you a hint: it involves a dungeon and a third nipple.

I’m so glad we had this chat. I hope you now feel comfortable enough to deal with being near me and my disease — I mean, family of small children. At the end of the day, a mother is only as happy as the saddest stranger in line with her at the post office! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Yaz to prepare for its balloon send-off. I’ll say “Ciao!” to Francis for you!

The Way To A Woman’s Heart: Start By Strapping On A Bjorn

This post is most satisfyingly read when lustily narrated in your head by Beyoncé. I’ll give you a minute to go put on some slow jams. Light a candle if you’re feeling fancy. This one goes out to my number one (and only!) husband.

Hey there, Hot Dad.

Did you know that you, along with all the other Hot Dads of the world, have to do approximately nothing to get our attention? That’s right. You have to do little more than exist in the vicinity of your children, and we get hotter than a malfunctioning Lite Brite.

Remember the last time you and I took all the kids out together? I was holding our two oldest on each of my hips, sweating bullets as I went through every trick in the book to distract them and keep up the appearance of having well behaved children? No one really noticed, but that’s totally fine. Seriously! It’s my job, right? Nothing to see here. No big deal that I am owning this situation and basically earning the rights to that #1 Mom mug in this moment — in heels. I live to serve!

But I looked over at you, doing nothing but snapping your gum at the smiling baby in your arms, and then glanced at our surroundings. Women, from all directions, were gazing at you with glimmering, doe-eyed expressions. From little girls to that biddy with the walker, they were spellbound.

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Take All the Advice and Be A Top Mom in 2015

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Marking the beginning of each new year is a barrage of promises geared toward self-improvement, even for hard-working moms. In fact, considering how much advice is out there telling us how to mother the right way, it often seems that New Years resolutions were made just for us! Everyone has an opinion on how to improve our parenting skills, so be sure to cross-reference your personal list of weaknesses with this list I’ve compiled — or, as I like to call it, How to Be the Perfect Mother in 2015:

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