Check on Your Quarantined Mom Friends… We are NOT O.K.

We are all feeling a little stir crazy right now.

No one ever imagined that the lockdown situation would have lasted more than 2 weeks, a month tops… but here we are.

While it’s easy to find statistics for death tolls and infection rates plastered on Facebook walls and media outlets, there are some other rising numbers the media doesn’t seem to be covering.

The mental health crisis happening right now in America is a silent pandemic. I haven’t spoken to a single person who isn’t feeling a mental strain right now.

Humans are not meant to be isolated from one another. Virtual connection has literally been proven through science to leave people feeling lonelier. That’s right. You actually feel more alone connected through a screen.

Human brains produce oxytocin when we hug, kiss, smile or even just see someone we love walk into a room. This hormone is very helpful in boosting our immune systems.

Isolation causes depression and anxiety which actually weaken your immune systems. This can’t do much good when we’re worrying about fighting off a virus.

I completely understand why we are being asked to stay home, wear masks and gloves, and social distance. I am very thankful for our health care and other essential workers, and wish to support them by any means I can, and if that means abiding by these rules I will.

Now that being said…. I am f*^$king losing it!

A day before Mother’s Day our state was told that the lift of the NYS “pause” would not be happening next week. Now it is moved until June.

I literally felt my soul die a little when I heard this. Yes I can read, yes I listen… I know that he is opening regions in stages… but I can say with certainty from numbers that my region won’t be one of them.

I am blessed to be able to earn an income from home. My husband is considered essential and is working as well. So we haven’t even had to worry about half the burden so many are dealing with right now.

I have had family members and friends who have contracted the virus, and even been hospitalized for it, but I have suffered no great loss from this.

I am lucky to have my husband and daughter to keep me company while we’re stuck at home. Something I do not take for granted at all. I feel for all those doing this alone.

Still, my mental health has been suffering since the start…. and I am in no way alone.

Every single friend I have spoken to in the last few weeks has talked about the mental toll this is taking on them. We are all feeling it.

The media isn’t sharing the fact that suicide rates, depression, anxiety and domestic abuse is on an exponential rise right now, but if you google it on your own you’ll find it.

We need human connection.

You could argue that I’m getting plenty of human connection at home right now… and I don’t want to complain because I realize I’m blessed.

Let me paint you a picture of what being quarantined at home with a toddler looks like right now.

We wake up every day around 6:30.

If I want any time to do anything for myself I have to get up by 5:30 or it isn’t happening.

She just finished getting her molars in all at once, and now her canines decided they’re gonna come in all at once as well! If you don’t know, this means she’s cranky AF from the second she wakes up til nap time 5 hours later.

About an hour after she wakes up she demands her breakfast. Although she can say quite a few words, I still have to guess what she’ll want to eat for breakfast each day… and if I get it wrong it’s tantrum city. Some days I can get through this first wave of tantrums, and somedays I want to cry too.

After breakfast I usually try to get some work done from home. This means I use my trusty babysitter Sesame Street to watch her for an hour or two so I can sit at the table and attempt to get something done uninterrupted…

5 minutes later… I’m interrupted.

She wants to “help work”. It’s adorable but after a few minutes I wanna cry. She isn’t much help… in fact she just makes it impossible to get anything done. My husband is a real hero on the days he is home, and this interruption can be avoided for the most part… when he’s not home I’m pretty much interrupted every few minutes until nap time.

Work is harder than ever before and ten times as stressful. I miss being able to drop my girl off to a babysitter so I could get my work done, without having to stop and change diapers, make sure someone isn’t going to jump off a couch to her doom, or eat something she shouldn’t. Now I want to cry about an hour into work because it takes me twice as long to do anything.

Finally it’s naptime! Emphasis on FINALLY!

This is the two hour period of time I use to cram in any important things that need to be done. Usually I use this time to get as much work as I can done. If it’s not a workday I clean my house, I try to take a shower that’s longer than 3 minutes, and I may even shave! Cleaning is almost impossible stuck home with a toddler unless they’re napping, so I usually pick my battles and save it for bedtime or days off. You can tell me cleaning can wait because no one is coming over… but a messy home just makes my anxiety skyrocket!

Two hours goes way faster than it used to… she’s up again! I kinda missed her, but I’m also kinda stressed about her being awake again. Bye bye productivity time.

Lunch time means the same battle that happened for breakfast. This time she usually throws most of the food to the dog and demands my food… which is the same as hers, but for some reason tastes better off my plate.

The next few hours are a blur of tantrums, reading the same books ten thousand times, trying to give her some outside time (and myself because otherwise I will cry), and trying to finish my work.

Now it’s the race to get something edible together quickly while my daughter has a meltdown.

She is crying because she wants to be cooking with me but I can’t let her up by the stove that’s hot, or near the knife I’m using to cut the veggies. I try to use the tv again as a distraction but this time she usually doesn’t take the bait. I end up cooking a meal listening to her scream at me and pull on my legs until I pick her up… this makes cooking dinner very stressful and take much longer.

She usually throws half of that on the floor too.

Bedtime… a mad dash to get a bath, some pjs, and a bottle. We read a book, the tantrums melt away and now she snuggles up to me and daddy. At this point of the night I finally feel peace… I feel so loved and forget some of the stress for a while. I rock her and sing her nightly lullaby and lay her down….

Peace and quiet… just what I need.

Now if it’s a work day I get right back to it! I usually work for another hour or so, then I clean the house… and by the time I’m done… bed time for mama.

Guess what… repeat that every damn day.

On days off you can pepper in a little extra outdoor time, and a LOT more chore time.

There are no breaks.

No babysitters.

No binge watching tv shows.

No naps for mama.

No trips to the nail salon for an hour.

No unaccompanied trips to target where I can aimlessly browse the store.

No cocktails with my best friends.

No nights out with my mama tribe to share our battle stories, and decompress.

No alone time… real alone time where I can do something just for myself.

This is what it’s like to be quarantined as a mother of a toddler.

Add on the strain or trying to educate your child from home, having multiple children, being a single parent, being unemployed or a single income family now.

Try being a brand new mama who just went through a traumatic experience birthing a baby during a pandemic… many alone, and now you’re navigating this new chaos completely isolated. The mental strain can be unbearable.

Every single mother I know has compared this to feeling like they did the first few months after giving birth. Those baby blues, the isolation. We are all feeling like postpartum is hitting us hard again, without that new bundle of joy.

In a normal situation we need that human connection of a night out with a friend. We need in person conversation with anyone who isn’t a child or your partner. We need that time to vent, to cry on each other shoulders, and to feel supported and less alone… we can’t do that right now and it feels all the more isolating.

So check on your mama friends. They already do so much on any normal day… and right now they are handling double the normal physical, emotional and mental load.

They’re therapists, teachers, and caregivers to their children. Support systems for their family. They always feel the pressure to be everyone’s everything, and even more now. That’s a lot.

When all this is over I hope all the mamas get the chance to have the ultimate moms night out. Leave your cell phones on silent, and tell your husbands to figure it out. We have a lot of decompressing to do.

Dads you guys deserve one of these nights too if I’m being honest… I see you.

In all seriousness, this is a very hard time for everyone mentally. We all need a little extra love right now, and are all craving some human interaction. But mamas, I know how hard this is hitting you.

We are always the ones telling our children and families it is going to be alright, and right now that’s what we need to hear desperately.

You are not alone, and if you need a support group please contact me. I would love to get one together.

We will get through this. We got through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and it made us stronger… so will this.

I hope we can all experience a hug with our friends, a long leisurely trip to target, or a moms night out soon.. but until then just know you aren’t alone mama.

You are stronger than you know, and you can do hard things. That’s what moms do. We got this.

Big Ups to All Our Mom Haters!

There you are scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook, reading posts about parenting, and advice. Something resonates with you so you click on the comments. There you see a mile long list of people judging the author of that post for her take on raising her child.

Now you feel attacked because seconds ago you were nodding along like “hell yeah mama,I feel you!”

Or, maybe you joined a group on Facebook for mothers. Maybe a topic is on a particular parenting method you’re trying out. You write a question because, let’s be honest, none of us actually know what we’re doing here. You ask for help on whatever subject you are stuck on. You post, and close out your phone hoping some angel will help you out, and make you feel like you’re not alone on this.

An hour later you check your post, it’s blown up. Many lovely, supportive mamas have written back to you giving advice or saying “you got this!” “Do you!” … but then there are the few “I don’t know if you know this but that’s NOT how you should do this”, “I would NEVER!”… you know what I’m talking about.

Here you are, a tired, confused, mentally drained mama just trying to figure out how to raise a kind, happy, little human, grasping for a life line… instead they cast you out to sea without a raft.

Listen ladies. This mom thing isn’t easy. It’s hard, like really, REALLY, hard.

We put our heart and soul into every waking moment we have with our kids. We want the best for them. BUT NO ONE HAS A HANDBOOK!

Not to mention the fact that every single person, mother and child, are so different. What works for one kid may not work for the next.

You may have found the perfect parenting book for you, and the methodology works like a charm for you and your kids. Maybe your family is exactly as you want it… but guess what, your idea of the perfect family may not be mine! You know what else? It’s totally fine.

We all come from different places, different types of families, different backgrounds, so it doesn’t make sense that there’s a one size fits all method of parenting.

I’m so happy that you give your child zero screen time ever, and that it works for you. Seriously, I applaud it, and I tried that. But when I’m trying to get dinner ready and my daughter is overtired cuz she refused her second nap, snacks won’t distract her, she refuses to play independently, wants to be held, and I’m home alone… I let her watch 20 minutes of tv and feel ZERO guilt. Someone else may give their kid a few hours of screen time a day and I want them to feel ok with their choice too!

Just because I want to limit my kids intake of screen time, doesn’t give me the right to tell someone else how they should raise their own kid. I knew this inherently before becoming a mom, so I kind of thought everyone would.. turns out I was wrong!

I have decided to incorporate montessori and Waldorf style parenting, and a respectful parenting approach when it comes to raising my daughter. I joined some Facebook groups for ideas on activities, ways to set up our home to be helpful in this, and support. I don’t do everything by the book. I’m a firm believer in taking what works for you, and leaving the rest.

I never really post, but have seen post after post of new moms trying to learn how to incorporate some of these things, being berated for not doing it the “right” way. Some people are purists, and if they see a mom say their kid is doing anything that strays away from the exact ideology they scold!

You bet your ass I comment on those posts, backing up the poor mama who reached out for help and got yelled at instead.

Moms, you know how exhausting and hard figuring all this out is. So why are we attacking one another for having different beliefs and making different choices?

If you disagree with another mom’s choice of how she feeds her kids, how much screen time she allows, that she lets her kids play princess, that she isn’t pushing gender neutrality, that her 3 year old still has a binky, that she lets her son have a doll, that she cosleeps, that she doesn’t cosleep, or anything else she may choose to do, DON’T COMMENT.

Yep it’s that simple.

If you see another mom being judged for asking a question, or stating how she does something, back her up. Tell her she’s doing an amazing job, and doing the best for her kids.

All that matters is that she’s taking care of her children. That they are loved, fed, and supported. It doesn’t actually matter how!

It’s hard enough trying to learn what works best for your kids, and how to approach all the curves parenthood throws at you. No one needs a negative Nancy telling them they’re doing it wrong on top of it all.

Let’s be the kind of people we want our children to be. Kind, happy, and supportive.

If someone tells you about something they are doing with their kids, and it doesn’t align with your type of parenting, just smile and nod. You’re entitled to raise your children the way you want, and so is she.

Lift one another up, don’t tear another mom down. We’re all struggling in this together. Yes, even the moms who claim to know it all… surprise! They don’t!

Don’t let the mom-shamers get you down either. For every opinionated loud mouth mama I have met, there are 10 more who are ready to cheer you on.

My best mama friends and I do everything completely different and somehow we all still manage to tell each other we’re doing amazing when we need to hear it most. Find a mom tribe that supports you through it all.

Remember that we all feel lost, like we are failing, or don’t know what the heck we are doing at times. Be kind, always.

The way you’re treating others shows your children how they should treat others. So before you go shaming another mom on the internet, or in real life, think about how you’d feel if your kid did that to someone else.

We’re all gonna get a little mom shaming from time to time, and for those moments I like to use the beautiful words from Shawty-Lo: “Big ups, to all my haters!”

You do you mamas, I support you. You got this!

11 Things I Learned From the First 11 Months as a Mom

11 months ago I entered into the greatest chapter of my life, motherhood. It’s actually super freaking weird to think that it’s almost been a year that I became a mother… but just as weird to think that it’s only been 11 months!

It feels like a day and a lifetime all at once!

That’s just one of the many things I have learned over the last few months. Motherhood has taught me so much more than I ever knew possible, and I’m literally just getting started at this whole mom thing!

Before having my daughter I read all the “must need” lists and the “things no one tells you” lists, but damn was there more than that to find out about.

Nothing you read in a book or on the internet can prepare you for what lies ahead so I’m not gonna pretend like this list will do that.

I am however going to share with you the 11 most surprising and important things I learned over the 11 months that I have spent fumbling through motherhood! So without any further adieu, let’s get right into it!

1. Adult diapers are God’s gift to postpartum mamas:

Yes you read that correct. Adult freaking diapers!!!! This one I did actually learn from the internet. Some women say to steal the mesh undies from the hospital, and some say get diapers so I bought a pack and brought a few to the hospital just so I could see which worked best.

So listen… you’re gonna push this beautiful little baby out, or you’re gonna have a c-section… and no matter what your body has to get rid of the house they partied it up in for 10 months, and they made a big house party mess in there mamas!

It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and after 9 months of no period at all, get ready to have the longest one of your entire life! Don’t worry though, you just pushed a bowling ball through your hooha or underwent major surgery… this is nothing!

Now, sometime after the nurse takes you to pee for the first time (which if you’re like me takes you about 40 minutes to finally manage the courage to do it), they’re gonna hand you this disturbing pair of mesh undies and stuff ginormous pads, and an ice pack the size of your femur in it and say put this on.

The ice packs are a blessing, steal as many of those bad boys as you can… but that mesh underwear ain’t holding anything in mama!

It took me 3 hours, and I ripped into my hospital bag and was a diaper wearing queen for the next month! Do yourself a favor and order yourself like 3 packs on amazon. You can even get the pretty kind with flowers and bows on them so your husband will find you super attractive when he catches you brushing your teeth in your adult diaper! Jk… you don’t want him finding you attractive for a long time… and trust me these will do the trick

My personal favorite was “poise” discreet! Trust me! Diapers ain’t just for that new baby!

2. Sleep when the baby sleeps… if you can.

Now this we all hear for the entirety of our pregnancy, and it won’t stop once that little bundle of joy comes screaming and crying into your life. Honestly, it may be the best freaking advice you get!

Here’s the thing tho… your husband will most likely have to go back to work at some point. That leaves you all alone at home, with dishes, laundry, and animals, a person you have to feed and clothe, and keep alive now. Sometimes it’s really really hard to sleep when all you can think of is the pile of laundry at the foot of your bed, or the dishes stacking up in the sink.

I napped when I could, and honestly it was always the best decision; however, I also found it really difficult a lot of times to fall asleep with the running list in my head.

Also, at some point most mamas have to go back to work too! When the heck am I supposed to nap then?! No really someone tell me cuz I would love a freaking nap!

3.Instagram is not reality, everyone’s crying on their bathroom floor it’s not just you

4. There’s no need to “bounce back”, and actually your body needs the extra pounds:

So there’s this thing called the internet… you have heard of it right? Well all over it you can see photos of celebrities “bouncing back” after having babies. Not only that, we see it on tabloids, on tv, on instagrams. We see headlines like “how Kim got her body back after baby!”

This is literally RIDICULOUS. First of all… those people don’t bounce back, they work their literal asses off to get their bodies to shrink back to their old size. They have millions of dollars, personal trainers, nannies, and personal chefs to ensure that they have time to devote to getting back into shape. They also have stylists that help them hide any imperfections they may still be working on… oh and plastic surgeons on speed dial.

We are not celebrities. Our careers do not depend on how we look in a bikini… so why the hell do we care?!

Your body just took 9 months to grow eyeballs, brains, bones, a beating heart… and 9 months to gain all that weight!!!! You are not gonna lose it in a month! Probably not even 9 months. I’m 11 months out and I’m still 8-10 pounds heavier than I was pre-baby. I’ll probably never get back to my weight before baby and I’m ok with that!

I’m not gonna lie and say I didn’t want my body to bounce back. I did. I looked in the mirror everyday for the first 9 months after having my daughter and scrutinized my jiggly flabby skin, the little extra weight I now have around my belly and cannot for the life of me get rid of.

I worked really hard to get back to loving my body, and being positive about it.

Also, I heard on Jillian Michaels podcast a few days ago that you’re not gonna lose that last 10 pounds if your breastfeeding because your body literally needs it to do so! Wish I heard that months ago when I was working out and eating super clean and couldn’t figure out why my scale wouldn’t budge at all since 2 months postpartum!

We should love our bodies. We’re not gonna get our body back post baby, because it’s not the same anymore! It’s better! It created, housed and birthed a little human. It’s stronger than it has ever been before.

We should love it and be so proud of it for what it’s done for us, not worry about the last 10 or 20 pounds.

5. Break up with your old jeans mama:

So as we just discussed… our bodies change after having a baby. Even if you lose all that baby weight, there’s a good chance your clothes won’t fit right. My shirts were all 2 inches too short and some of my jeans were never to button again.

This isn’t just because of weight gain… this is because our bones literally shift when we are pregnant to make room and make way for a baby to shoot out of your pelvis.

My hips are wider than they were before and they’re never going back. Chances are yours aren’t either. So say bye bye to all your clothes that no longer “spark joy” as Marie Kondo would say, and go buy yourself a new pair of killer jeans that make you feel amazing!

6. Cravings are worse once your baby is born, at least for me!

We always hear about pregnancy cravings, all the weird things you suddenly want as soon as you see a positive on a pregnancy test.

Well let me tell you… they get worse! I did have a few weird cravings during my pregnancy. Mostly mint chocolate chip ice cream, and grilled cheese with tomato on rye. It wasn’t crazy tho. I only made my husband search for a restaurant that would make a grilled cheese once because we were out and that’s all I wanted in life.

After having my daughter the cravings were so much more intense. I sent my husband out for milk shakes like 3 times a week! I wanted something, and I wanted it right now! I talked to some other mamas when I started experiencing that and they agreed!

Pregnancy cravings were a joke compared to my postpartum cravings!

7. People will just touch your baby… seriously:

I had my daughter in February. Smack dab in the middle of cold and flu season, so for the first few months I left her home most of the time that I absolutely had to leave the house. Our pediatrician had recommended we ask strangers to keep their hands to themselves, and keep her out of stores and crowded places so it wouldn’t happen.

I thought to myself why would a stranger touch my baby? Yeah right lady, like that’s gonna happen!

Whelp…. It does. Like a lot!

I couldn’t tell you what zoo these people grew up in that they think you can just go up to someone’s shopping cart and grab their baby’s hands or face but they do it!!!!

I know that it’s never meant to be harmful, or rude but people please stop touching babies unless you ask first and are given permission. I don’t know you or where your hands have been.

Next time someone does it to my daughter I’m just gonna reach out and touch that persons face and say “oh you’re so cute too!” I bet the won’t like that either!

8 The unsolicited advice gets worse.

Yeah, you thought all that advice you got when you were pregnant was gonna taper off? Yeah right! Think again mama!

It’s JUST begun!

I am not even to toddler tantrum age yet and I’ve already been flooded with lots of advice on how to discipline a child, sleeping, feeding etc..

11 months in I have learned to just smile and nod, because people mean well and this will be going on for 18 more years so I may as well just accept it right?

9. People will ask you how ur doing things, and then act like it’s the wrong way:

So here’s the thing… there are literally a million ways to parent. Go to amazon and search parenting books. Now tell me how many different books you find… yeah it’s crazy!

We are all different. We live in different places, grew up with different religions, beliefs and ideals. We all have different trauma, and life experiences that have molded us. We all come in different sizes, shapes and colors…. it kind of makes sense that we don’t all parent the exact same way right?

As a new mom, you are just trying to get a grasp on this parenting thing. You may do some research… or like me just kind of wing it until u have an actual question like “wait…. when and how do I feed a baby real food?” Or “wait… my baby is supposed to nap regularly?! How the eff?!”

Naturally, people are always curious about your new life as a mama, and what you and that cute kid you made are up to. So they’ll ask questions.

Some people are freaking awesome and super supportive of anything and everything you tell them that you are doing with your baby! They’ll applaud you, and cheer you on for the great job your doing. These are your people!!!

Others… well they’ll ask something like “oh when will you start feeding the baby real food,” and you’ll tell them you did and that you started with avocado and they’ll say… “avocado! Why not rice cereal?! We started with rice cereal, it’s what the doctor said to do.” And the convo will continue and you may start to feel judged for all your choices as a mom.

Don’t worry, the choices you are making are the right ones for you and your baby, just as that persons choices were right for them!

As I said, were all different and that’s what makes us great. So shrug it off when you get a look of disapproval when someone asks how you’re doing things. If it works for you and your family that’s all that matters mama!

10. Baby’s don’t just teeth on toys…

Around 7 months my sweet girl started popping teeth left and right… around 8 months she decided teething toys were not really her style.

She would settle in while I nursed her and look up at me with her sweet little gaze and then CHOMP! The first time it happened I jumped and screamed and thought to myself “oh my she must have done that on accident!”

So we continued nursing… a few minutes pass and again she clamped those freakishly strong toothy jaws down once again! I jumped and yelled again, which made her giggle, and so the game continued.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that my little girl was doing this on freaking purpose!!!!! She was using me as a human chew toy!

I’m telling you this because although I was told breastfeeding would be hard, no one EVER brought up biting! Like come on people! It would have been nice to be prepared!

So here you go ladies, fair warning that your little one may one day decide to test their new teeth out on your nips. Thank me later for the warning.

11. You seriously can’t remember life before your kid, and wouldn’t want to:

My husband and I talked about the idea of children for years. I remember right after we first moved in together, no ring on my finger, him looking at me and saying that he would like to have kids before we’re 30. 25 year old Rachael rolled her eyes and said listen dude, my body my choice and no way Jose!

The conversation usually came up and he would always say let’s just have kids as soon as we get hitched. To which I would usually respond something like “that sounds great but don’t you wanna have fun for a while before we have to plan out date nights and outings a month ahead?”

In my mind we would be married for a few years and then consider children.

Well jokes on me!

2 weeks before our first anniversary, I was at a restaurant with my husband and realized I had zero interest in the beer I just ordered. I handed it to him and said I would drive… he was in disbelief because I NEVER want to drive.

After finishing our meal, a friend met us at the restaurants bar, he ordered a drink. I was probably 10 feet away from him, and my nose immediately identified his dark and stormy… and it hit me. I never had a super powerful sense of smell before, and I’m not one to turn down a weekend beer… holy crap…I’m knocked up!

I peed on a stick the next morning and BAM, our lives were changed forever.

My daughter was born 9 months later, and we entered the realm of parenting. We never looked back. Yes, I have to have at least a weeks notice if someone wants to go out to dinner so I can find a babysitter. No I can’t just up and leave the house whenever I want anymore. Yes traveling is a big to do now. Yes my entire life revolves around a tiny human now.

You know what though… I literally cannot for the life of me remember what it felt like before! I remember having lots of fun with my husband, being spontaneous and just going out to dinner or a bar cuz we felt like it. Meeting up with friends with 30 only minutes notice. I just don’t remember how that felt… and honestly I wouldn’t go back if I had the chance.

Yes parenting is a lot of work, and takes a lot of self sacrifice, but oh my goodness is it the most rewarding experience I have ever had. The love and fulfillment I feel from snuggling my daughter or watching her learn and grow is unlike anything I have ever known before.

Daily, my husband and I talk about how we can’t remember life before her, and how we wouldn’t want to.

This whole mom thing is hard, it’s exhausting, it’s emotional… but if someone gave me a chance to pick a different life I wouldn’t even dream of it.

These have been the best 11 months of my entire life, and I can’t wait to see what the next 18 years has in store!