Babies: My Gratitude Photo Journal

This week, and every week I am grateful for babies.  I love them all.

Sleeping Babies

And those not yet asleep

For babies willing to humor us

And for show tune babies

For traveling babies

And for babies getting to know their brother

Especially, I am grateful for my babies

Because without my babies, life would not  be nearly as bright, or engaging or lovely.


No Better Mother

I think Owen was four months in this picture. "Normal" was nowhere in sight. But I was madly in love with him anyway.

I was reeling for months after my first child was born.  I could not believe what was happening.  Everything was surreal, I felt like I had stepped into a life that was meant for somebody else.

Somebody more organized, rational, patient, sane.

I went through the motions and acted like I was okay.  Like life was just as it should be.  But I knew it was not.

I knew that this was a horrible mistake.  That I was wrong to think I could care for a baby, and raise a human to be good and honorable and sane.

I knew that life was never going to be the same.  I was going to be tied to this tiny little creature forever, and there was no turning back.  I feared that I would never feel normal again, I would never have my life back.

This baby needed me all of the time.  He nursed incessantly, cried when he was not being held, and slept like a baby as long as he was in the arms of myself or my husband.

In a few short moments my life had drastically changed.  I had no idea what I was doing, and I was not prepared.

I was not ready for the lack of sleep and how it would affect my body, or for how lonely I would feel in the middle of the night while I was awake and only with Owen.

I did not know how important the comfort of another human would become to me, and that not knowing how to achieve it would devastate me.

I had tunnel vision when it came to my son, and all I could see was what he needed.

The periods of caring for Owen and getting him into a restful state were so intense that they consumed every part of me.  This made the moments when he was sleeping contentedly on my husband the most difficult because I did not know what to do with myself when my baby did not need me.

I often found myself standing in the middle of the kitchen, hair strewn all over, wearing breastmilk stained pajamas that had been on for days and a blank stare.

I was shell shocked.

It is so strange to me, I look like myself. But I was not. Not at all.

And here I am four and a half years later, and I made it.  Of course I made it.  We all do.

And looking back now I do not feel that my mental state during that time was inappropriate or silly or dramatic, I honor it.  I gained great strength from knowing that I pulled it together, and stuck it out, and made lots of good choices.  And I developed a stronger sense of confidence and purpose than I had ever known.

And I accepted that the “normal” I thought I was longing for would never come back.  Ever.

I traded it in for a level of joy, completeness and gratitude that I never imagined possible.

Because with Owen’s birth, everything seemed bigger, more hopeful, brighter and chock full of possibility.  I wondered what I did before this gorgeous little being joined our family, and how I ever felt happiness without him around.

Those first weeks and months with my first baby were the  most difficult of my life, but every moment was just as it needed to be. I know with every bit of myself that no matter how long the days are, and how many mistakes I have made, this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

And that ultimately there is no better mother that could have been given to my children, than me.

An unfair trade: I gave up "normal" for these two. Whoever got my normal, lost big time.

Dear Mom and Dad: A Love Letter From Your Baby

Dear Mom and Dad,

We haven’t met yet, but I am the one down here hanging out in the most comfortable place around. And before I make my grand entrance I need to ask you for a few favors.

Accommodating them may mean parenting differently than you were expecting, but I promise it will be worth it.

First, I will be healthier and happier if you breastfeed me. So please nurse me, whenever and however often I want. This is how my tiny little body works. It needs to nurse a lot.

I know this will be hard for you mom, and that for the first couple of months you will wonder if you will ever have a moment to yourself.

But here I am. And this is what I need.

It will get better, I promise.

Next, please do not leave me alone. Ever.

If you try to and I cry, please pick me up. Hold me, nurse me, sing to me, rock me, cuddle me. Do whatever you have to so that I become calmer.

I breathe better when you are holding me. I am safer.

Where I Am Happiest

I do not cry to bother you, I cry because something is wrong. Horribly terribly wrong.

I know it may not seem like that is possible, when my diaper is dry and I have just nursed. But I am so little and my body is growing so quickly. And I only feel right when I am being held, or nursed.

I have been living in nirvana while I was growing in your belly and now I have to wear clothes and I get cold, or hot, or hungry, and I do not understand it. It has never happened to me before.

You will be frustrated, I know. I hear that it is really, really hard.

But, here I am. I am your baby.

Instead of spending your time trying to make me, a little tiny baby ,behave as you want me to, will you use your resources to bring in help? Family, friends, anybody who offers.

Anybody who will support you while you focus on the most important thing in the world; me.

So that you can just spend all of your time making me comfortable.

I know a lot of magazines and people and books will tell you that you will spoil me, or that you need to make time for yourself. But right now, while I am still so little, you have to take care of me. I have to be most important.

If you are able to do these things for me, we will be closer than you ever dreamed possible, and we will be able to relate. Always.

Even when I am 16.

If you wonder if this is true, please go to the source to find out. Do not talk with people who have done it differently, instead talk with those who have made these choices. Look at the science that supports it.

And try to find the science that does not.

As soon as I am born you will start making decisions about how connected we will be. You will decide how much time we will spend together and I will understand what you are telling me.

If we spend all day and all night together, I will know how much you value me.

If you hang out with me on the floor and play, I will know that you think I am fun.

If you smile at me, I will know that you are happy to be my mom.

If you always try to make me comfortable and stop my crying, I will know that you believe what I am telling you.

And that matters to me. And to the world.

And finally; always trust your instincts with me. That is why you have them.

If anybody tries to tell you that you are doing it wrong, but with every part of your being you believe that your choices are just what I need, respectfully ignore those people.

Soon we will meet. I will be confused and scared and lonely and wondering where I am. Comfort me, love me, do what your instincts tell you, and we will all be very, very happy.


Your Baby

Permission Granted: A Gift For New Families

When Sydney, my second was born, I stayed in my pajamas for a lot longer.

Last night I went to dinner with my Mom’s Group. We spent some of our time reminiscing about our first playgroup, and acknowledged the vast difference in who we were then, and who we are now.

We chuckled about how we all thought the other had it together and was managing just fine.

We talked about the fact that before having children we did not understand the depth that our marriage could reach. That our relationship with our spouse is so much more complex and full, now that we parent children together. As we marveled at how simple our married lives were before children, one of my girlfriends said “we were just boyfriend and girlfriend then, really”.

One of my girlfriends had just come from visiting a friend with a new baby of her own, where she offered her some insightful advice. And as she shared it with us, there was a conviction and certainty that I have never heard in her voice before. She told her struggling and brand new mom friend:

“Stay in your PJ’s all day. Order out, and do not clean your house. Stay in bed all day if you want. Just you and your baby. Nurse, and go to sleep, nurse and go to sleep. Trust me, this is what you should do.”

And isn’t she right?

But our collective Mom’s Group unanimously felt as though everyone expected us to get back to “life before baby” as soon as we were physically recovered from delivering.

Believing this made us manic as we attempted to manage it all while trying to look like we were fine.

What a gift, I thought, that my friend had given this new mom.

I thought a lot about this on my ride home. I remembered how tough my first weeks and months were as a first time mother, and how much different it would have been if I had understood that I did not have to do the things I thought I did.

That my house could be a mess, and that gym pants and flannels were expected attire during this period.

And that everyone around me thought it should be this way too.

And so I think all new mom’s should be given the very profound and wise advice shared by my girlfriend. That with as much conviction and confidence as my girlfriend had, we should tell every new mom:

“just take care of yourself and your baby. Recover, adjust and deal with the rest of it later.

If your (mom), (aunt), (friend), (neighbor), comes by and gives you a hard time about the condition of your home, ask her to clean it.

If you read in a magazine that your baby should not sleep with you but in your very core you know that you should, use the page of that magazine to make a beautiful paper snowflake.

If a book tells you to let your baby cry, but everything in you is telling you to pick her up, with your baby in your arms, ask your partner to add that book to the fire. And it will keep your new family cozy and warm.

Trust your instincts, do what feels right and know that you are doing an amazing job.”

Really, this might be the very best gift we can give to a new family.

Owen and I when he was days old. I wish I had stayed like this for three months.

A Movie By Pondering Jane: My Happy Baby

Okay, so my sister who works in film said “I would not so much call this an animated short as…” and that is where she left it.
At any rate, I had so much fun making this and hope to make a couple more. Click below to view the movie.

My Happy Baby!

Just As You Are: My Gratitude Photo Journal

This week I am Grateful for things just as they are.

Like Muddy Boots

And Our Own Fly Boats

For My Knight in Shining Armor

And For Trying on Hats

For Moments of Solitude

And Abandoned Structures That Make My Mind Wander

Mostly of course, for these two little people, who I will always love just as they are.

Learning To Know You: A Love Letter To My Son

My Beautiful Owen

Dear Owen,

Yesterday we went swimming.You, your dad, Sydney and I. You had been asking for all of us to go for days.  You have been taking lessons and are doing so well, and you love being in the water as much as I do.

We had so much fun.  You smiled fully the entire time we were there.  We all did.

Believe it or not, this is a new thing that I am learning, that some things make you happier than others, and that there are activities that bring you lots of joy.

And whether it is swimming, or acting, or playing superheroes, your smile is always different when we are doing something that you truly love.

Just as my smile is when I am doing something that I love, and everyone else’s is too.

I know that my smile was different each time I was at a Dave Matthews show, or when I am laughing really hard with my girlfriends.

And so I should have understood that some of the ways you spend your time would bring you more joy.  And that I should be creating those opportunities reguarly.

Instead I have gotten into the habit of choosing things that I think you would like, instead of listening to what you are asking for.

And it is not to say that sometimes my suggestions are not appropriate, because certainly they are.  And I do know that part of my role as your mother is to expose you to things that you may not have thought of.

But you had to ask me to sign you up for swimming lessons for two weeks before I heard you.  And I should have listened the first time you asked.

Now I understand how to pay more attention.

But this is my first time being a mom, and you are my first child.

And while I feel fortunate that immediately upon becoming a mother I knew the things that I would not do, learning how to make the best choices to ensure you become who you are meant to be, instead of  who I think you should be will be a long process.

This is a tough thing for me as a parent;  standing back and observing who you are instead of inundating you with the possibilities.

I am glad that this knowledge has been brought to my attention while you are so young, because unquestionably I was headed toward forming you into who I thought you would like to be.

And now, with this new understanding,  I get to know you.

I get to learn about what really makes you happy and what holds your interest.  I get to see first hand how your beautiful and curious mind processes information and what intrigues you.

As I sit quietly, I watch how you play.  I notice how you move action figures, and that you get really frustrated when Sydney does not understand how hard you worked on a block structure.

This shows me how invested you were in your project.  It also shows me how patient and forgiving you are.

And I am having so much fun getting to know you. You continue to teach me new things and inspire me to be better at being patient and intentional and at listening.

Mostly though, I always want to be better at being your mom.

We are finding our way, Owen. And though we are hitting some challenges, we are getting better.

I am getting better.

And that is never something I will stop working on.

I love you Owen.



Recipe Share: White Bean Dill Soup & Sweet Potato Biscuits

Sweet Potato Biscuits

I would not share it if I did not love it.

I doubled the amount of pasta and beans.  Once they were cooked I removed about 3/4 of the pasta and beans and stored them in the fridge.

Throughout the week I added the cooked pasta and beans from the fridge a little at a time, along with water and seasonings (and a little veggie broth) and it lasted literally all week!  Score!

The biscuits are getting rave reviews from my meat eating husband and vegan sister.  They are easy and fun for the kids to make with you.

And oh yeah the kids seem to like them too.

This recipe comes courtesy of a website that you must check out called “Happy Health Life”.

Click here for the recipes!

Organic Faces: My Gratitude Photo Journal

I am reminding myself to be grateful for what is in front of me no matter how it was created.

And So, This Week I Am Grateful For

Amazing And Hand Crafted Gift Packages

And The Fun That Old Toys Bring

For Making Bread With Friends

And For Candy Not Consumed

For A Father Enjoying Nap Time

And For Energy That Abounds

With this goal to practice more gratitude in my daily life,  I try to find it in what is in front of me.

And everyday, it is these two fresh and organic faces:

And really, there is nothing to be more grateful for.

My Motherhood Is.

This is also my motherhood.

My motherhood is a constant contradiction of wanting to be with my children so much that I do not want to leave them to work, and being so bored from playing cars that I desperately want to be in an office full of adults.

My motherhood is the moment of seeing my children after hours or days of not being present. Of letting our moments together pass unnoticed, as I went through the motions of meeting only their most basic needs.

My motherhood is bloodshot eyes from a night without sleep, and still needing to ensure the health and safety of two people incapable of doing so themselves.

It is the loss of patience credited to too many hours spent with only my whining, demanding children.

It is an endorphin rush from an unexpected gesture of affection from one of my beautiful babies.

It is pure wonderment as I climb into bed because I have nothing tangible to represent another day completed.

It is mental longing to be doing something other than spending time with people under the age of five, and a physical pull that keeps me in the same space with my children.

It is a flash of regret after reaching frustrations point of no return.

It is the feeling of pure joy and child like giddiness that comes from watching my two children laugh together and enjoy each other.

My motherhood is a morning spent giving my two young children baths, mindlessly. And enviously thinking of those accomplishing tangible goals at the very same moment, like providing a report to their boss, or the sale of a newly designed cake.

It is understanding that this is my choice, and that I continue to choose this daily.

It is comprehending that not too long from now, I likely will affectionately and longingly recall these days, when my primary focus was caring for, teaching and shaping my children.

My motherhood is desperately trying to remember this while I wipe another snotty nose.

It is an overwhelming contradiction of dejection and joy, with no resources readily available to make sense of or combat it. And knowing that even if I could find tools to help me navigate motherhood, I would have no time to utilize them.

My motherhood is, by design, two tiny people who are the priority in my life.  And the acceptance that really, I believe this is for better not worse.

And so is this.

What is your motherhood?