Being pregnant – finally! – after a long stretch of infertility is a roller coaster of emotions. You’d think it would be nothing but happiness, but there’s a healthy dose of other feelings, many unexpected. Surprise, shock, joy, relief, worry, fear. Confusion.
Don’t get me wrong, the happiness is a big part of it, a huge part. But that doesn’t mean the other feelings just cease to exist.
Some of these confusing questions I know I’ve struggled with include: Where do I fit into the topic of infertility now? Am I an inspiring success story? A harsh reminder of the fact that others are still waiting and wanting? Do I have any business talking about infertility with others who are still struggling? Am I still infertile?
At the moment, that last question is somewhat irrelevant. Likely it always will be from now on. I’m halfway through carrying these little ones after all, and have no plans anytime in the near or far future to try getting pregnant again. So does it really matter if I can or can’t get pregnant again? Probably not. There’s a little bit of a tree falling in the forest-esque quality to the question:
If I’m being totally fair and honest, I never really considered myself infertile to begin with. “I am infertile” sounds, to me, so absolute. I preferred to think of it as struggling with infertility. Battling infertility. Conquering infertility. In my mind, labeling myself as infertile sounded like it was a part of me I would never escape instead of something I could eventually, hopefully, overcome. In my case, especially, since I had a daughter already and was actually dealing with secondary infertility that made it even more complicated in my own mind. How can I be infertile if I have a child? That doesn’t make any sense. Calling myself infertile didn’t make sense.
Is that an accurate way to look at it? Not necessarily, but it’s how I felt about it the entire time I was fighting that battle. Which was a long time. At least 10 years, though pinpointing a more precise length of time is a little complicated due to various personal factors (a story for another time perhaps,) so I usually just simplify and leave it at 10 years. 10 years is a long time to be dealing with anything. That’s 120 months, which is an important measure of time when trying to get pregnant.
120 chances to get my hopes up, only to have them crushed not long after. At least 120 chances to feel like a failure (although let’s be honest, the feeling like a failure part happens a lot more than just once a month,) and who can even begin to guess how many tears shed.
The sad thing is that spending that long with something as a prominent part of your life, it does become a part of you whether you want it to or not. I may have preferred to avoid certain labels that made it seem as though it was an inescapable part of my identity, but it still often felt like it was. And now it’s not, and that does take some getting used to.
This recap of my experience is all to make the point that while my journey with infertility has seemingly come to an end, it still happened and it was a significant and often hurtful part of my life. The fact that I was finally lucky doesn’t erase any of the pain of those years.
So back to my original question which was where does that leave me now?
I’m very much aware that my presence may be unwelcome among women still currently fighting their infertility battle. I remember all too well the way it felt as my friends got pregnant while I…didn’t. How it hurt even though I was happy for them. How watching them experience something I wanted so badly would break my heart over and over again. I don’t want to make anyone else feel that way.
I’d like to think I can provide some value for Infertility Warriors still fighting that battle, even though I’m aware it’s likely not true. What do so-called “success stories” really mean with a topic like this? The harsh and uncomfortable truth is that just because I finally got lucky doesn’t mean they will. I hope they will, but I can’t help them get there. I can offer encouragement and support but what is that worth? I could make a list of the various remedies and things I tried that may have been the tipping point, but who’s to say what made the difference or if it was just time? Is it obnoxious to tell others the things that I tried that could have helped? We all know how annoying it can be when people try to solve our impossible problems for us with heaps of useless advice that isn’t actually applicable to our situation, don’t we? And I obviously have no business offering medical advice.
I will continue to do everything in my power to offer emotional support for anyone struggling with infertility. For me it’s still such a fresh wound, I don’t think I’ll likely ever forget the way it felt, or the things I wished someone would have said to me at the time, especially in the darkest moments when I felt like there was no hope.
If I can help give someone a tiny fragment of hope or comfort, I want to do that.
My at-the-moment approach to this topic is that I won’t hide my experience, but I also won’t claim that it’s still something I’m struggling with. I won’t speak over those still in the thick of the fight, but I’ll make sure they know I’m here if they need a shoulder to cry on or someone to vent to. I’ll try my best to remind them they aren’t alone and they aren’t to blame. I’ve got their back in any small way that I can.
Let me know your thoughts with a comment below! I’d love to know if anything in this post really resonated with you, or if it’s something you’ve experienced on either side of the subject.
When I recently found out I’m pregnant, it was a pretty big shock. Only because of how long it took to get pregnant and I had somewhat given up, of course, not because I’m somehow unaware of how babies are made. Finding out shortly after that I was expecting twins was a…well double shock I guess you could say. The surprises were going to keep coming of course as I quickly learned that when it comes to twin pregnancies, things can be drastically different compared to singleton pregnancies. So even if you’ve had babies before and think, “I know what to expect,” there’s a very good chance that No, no you don’t know what to expect.
The next unexpected bit of news that came along was at my first appointment with my new OB, when he informed me that it turns out my twins are what is called monochorionic diamniotic twins (mono-di or MCDA twins) which essentially means they are each in their own sac, but sharing a placenta. This can come with it’s own set of complications, the main one that was explained to me is the risk of something called Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome.
I’m going to pause here briefly to state I am in no way a medical professional or an expert on this topic in any way shape or form. Everything I write here is purely what I have learned from my own searching, paired with some of what my doctor told me and wrapped up in a little bow of my own feelings and experiences. I make no assurances that any of this is completely accurate at all. I strongly advise anyone dealing with this same issue, or even just curious, to seek out their own information from a reliable source as this blog is meant to be a collection of my thoughts and experiences, and should not be mistaken as containing medical advice or medical knowledge.
How I understand it, Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS) is essentially an imbalance in the nutrients each twin is receiving via the placenta. One twin (the donor twin) gives away more than it receives and the other twin (the recipient twin) receives too much, and so both twins are at a risk of various complications.
That’s the most simple version. I could elaborate but to be completely honest going into all the various scenarios makes me feel a little uncomfortable. As I stated above, I encourage anyone curious to know more to seek out details from a more reputable source to get the full picture.
One big change this causes for this pregnancy compared to when I was pregnant with my daughter is that this one needs to be monitored a LOT more. When I was pregnant with my daughter I had a grand total of two ultrasounds. With this pregnancy I’ve already had three, and I have two more booked, and there will likely be several more in our future. Pretty much every two weeks, I need to have another ultrasound. Basically they need to be able to keep a close eye on the twins to ensure they’re growing at the same rate and to watch for signs of TTTS or various other complications.
Carrying these types of twins also can potentially require more specialized care. Being pregnant with twins at all is often enough to put the pregnancy in the “High Risk” category from what I understand. But adding this into the mix means we’re definitely there. I had to be referred to a different OB more specialized to handle delivering twins, as well as another specialist focused on high risk pregnancies. In the last week I’ve been getting multiple calls a day to schedule various appointments at multiple different places and it definitely made my head spin a little. Unfortunately for me, all of this new medical support team aren’t actually located in the town I live in but rather the nearest large city so I’ll be doing some commuting to ensure these babies are safe. Absolutely worth it of course, but definitely something I wasn’t expecting.
On the plus side, I should get very familiar with the hospital I will eventually have to deliver at, so that’s nice.
Twins often come early. I did a bit of Googling and found that about 36 weeks is the average pregnancy length with twins. If the twins start showing signs of TTTS, one of the potential courses of action is to deliver early. There’s no definitive answer on how early as it’s all entirely dependent on how the babies continue to grow, but there is a good chance my Expected in October babies might just grace us with their presence sometime in September instead.
Obviously early delivery can also result in it’s own set of unexpected issues such as longer hospital stays or various health issues and concerns. I’ve basically already come to terms with the fact that I will very likely need a c-section and that the babies might need to stay at the hospital longer than expected. Neither of those things make me particularly happy but I’m realistic enough to know that it’s a possibility and if that’s what it comes down to, there’s a valid reason why it’s necessary and I’m ok with that.
When I first heard all of this, I will admit I did start to panic. I was so scared and completely overwhelmed, especially for all these new details, concerns, risks, specialists and appointments. I’ve since done some (A LOT of) reading and I’ve found a lot of great articles and resources that reassured my fears somewhat. I discovered that the chance of both babies being perfectly fine and healthy is much higher than I had originally thought, and that was very comforting. Additionally, the sheer fact that the twins are going to be monitored as much as they are makes me feel pretty hopeful that we’re all going to be in good hands and well cared for.
I have yet to meet any of these new medical professionals I’ll surely be getting to know very well over the next several months, but I’m choosing to be optimistic about the whole thing. There’s really not much else I can do to take charge of the situation, and I happen to believe in the power of positive thinking at least to a certain degree.
Columbia University Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology explaining what monochorionic diamniotic twins are.
This comprehensive guide and information of all things related to Mono-Di twins and TTTS (and other conditions I found over on Wiley’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Hub.
Leave a comment if you’d like and let me know your thoughts. I’d especially love hearing from other twin parents who might have encouraging stories to share.
Stay safe everyone!
I am obsessed with long hair.
When my daughter was young, she had the most amazing hair; long, and curly and bright red. It’s still red, but now she wears it cut short, because that’s what she prefers.
“But wait,” you might be thinking, “I thought this was about ear piercing, why are you talking about hair?” Bear with me, we’re getting there.
Anyways, back to the hair. Years ago my daughter decided she wanted to cut off her long hair and donate it. I was proud, of course, though a little sad to see those long locks go. I was never the kind of mom who kept her daughter’s hair cut to shoulder length so it would be easier to manage, and like I said, I love long hair. But when she wanted to cut it, within days we had it chopped off.
See, just because I have a preference for long hair, and just because I really loved her Disney Princess-esque locks (No, Seriously) that doesn’t mean she has to have long hair if she doesn’t want to. Because it’s not my hair.
That brings us to ear piercing. When I gave birth to a little 8lb redhead that was declared to be a girl, it seemed like almost immediately people started asking when I was going to pierce her ears. To be honest, it kind of confused me. The way people asked so frequently and insisted I should “get it done early so she won’t even remember the pain!” …you’d almost think it’s a requirement to have her ears pierced. Which it’s not. Like, at all.
“You should pierce her ears so people don’t think she’s a boy!” people would say, as if it mattered if some stranger assumed my daughter was actually my son.
My answer then was always the same: I would take my daughter to get her ears pierced when (if!) she asked for them to be pierced.
Because it’s not my body so what gives me the right to literally POKE HOLES IN HER SKIN just so I can decorate her with shiny items she doesn’t need? What if she grows up and doesn’t actually want them? (and yeah, yeah, I know: “She can just take them out!” but then there will be holes left in her skin that don’t need to be there because she didn’t need her ears pierced in the first place!)
Furthermore, if and when the time came when my daughter wanted to get her ears pierced, I would take her to a licensed body piercer and get it done properly by a trained professional, with a needle and not by a gun at a costume jewelry store or a salon.
Look, I’m not against body piercing at all. I’ve had several myself, including some that I took out only to later have them re-pierced because I missed them. I’ve had piercings in a couple places that might make you squirm, and a few that you may not have even heard of. I think if someone wants to pierce any part of their body they should go ahead and get it done – by a trained professional, and after doing thorough research to ensure they’ll be able to care for it properly.
The funny thing about having (and voicing) this opinion is that people – mostly other mothers – get downright offended by it, particularly if they happen to have pierced their daughter’s ears as a baby, or if they had their daughter’s ears pierced with a gun. They respond with barely concealed irritation as if they need to defend their choice.
“Well I got my daughter’s ears pierced at the mall with a gun when she was 3 months old and it was fine!” they snap, as if I’ve insulted them by explaining my choice to wait. Which is so funny to me because I’m not judging someone else’s decision to do the opposite, nor do I go around just volunteering my views on the matter. But if you ask me the question, I’m going to give you my answer. If my answer has the potential to offend you, maybe don’t ask the question.
I made my choice because it felt right for what I believe and what I know.
I don’t believe pierced ears are necessary or a requirement.
I don’t believe it makes sense to get it done early so “they won’t even remember it!”
I do believe in letting children make their own choices regarding their body, their appearance and how they express themselves. This includes haircuts, their personal clothing style and yes, piercings.
I also KNOW for a fact that it is safer for many reasons to get any body piercing done by a trained professional with a sterilized piercing needle, and not with a piercing gun at some random store in the mall. This is a fact. You cannot dispute this. “I did it and it was fine.” does not negate the simple fact that piercing needle & trained professional is a better choice than a piercing gun, 100% of the time.
But, here’s the other thing, I also don’t care if you made a different choice, or if your beliefs or reasons are in complete contrast with mine. Whatever your choice, that was yours to make and is your business.
We all make our own choices and raise our children the way we feel is appropriate, and we (hopefully) make those choices armed with the various knowledge we’ve gained over time, and with the best of intentions.
The fact that piercing baby girls’ ears is such a normalized thing, so normalized that people actually find it weird when you don’t do it, is just so baffling to me. If I had a dollar for every time someone cried incredulously, “Haven’t you pierced her ears yet!?” I likely would have earned enough to pay for her college education before she even turned 5. When did we all collectively decide this was a necessary rite of passage? I just don’t get it. But I don’t have to get it. Because it didn’t feel like the right choice for us, so we didn’t do it.
As it turned out, my daughter decided she wanted to get her ears pierced when she was about 9. We went to a tattoo and body piercing studio and got it done by one of my friends who had been piercing professionally for over a decade at that point. She knows what she’s doing, she’s incredibly well trained and the entire staff there was fantastic. It was a great experience, and for awhile my daughter liked having pierced ears.
Then about 3 years later, she decided she didn’t want to wear earrings anymore and took them out.
And yes there are now holes left behind.
But at least she chose for herself.
Drop me a comment and let me know what you think. Do you think you should let kids decide when to pierce their ears on their own, or just get it done young so they won’t remember it? Do you have pierced ears? What was your experience?
(Or girl. We really don’t know yet…)
I have written a little bit about my experience with secondary infertility. Well, to be totally honest I’ve written a lot about it, but I’ve only actually shared a fairly small amount. Some of it has often felt too personal to share (even though I definitely believe in talking more openly about this topic so we can all do what we can to help remove the stigma,) and a lot of what I’ve written personally is still in a state that just doesn’t feel finished enough to publish anywhere.
But it’s no secret that I’ve struggled to conceive for a very long time. The short & simple version is that I unexpectedly got pregnant when I was 23 and went on to have my daughter in 2007. I never imagined that I’d have issues getting pregnant again (I barely even understood that infertility was an actual thing at that point, as it wasn’t really something I had even heard many people talking about prior to this) and I sort of arrogantly assumed that having more babies would be easy. I was very wrong about that. Painfully, embarrassingly, soul crushingly wrong.
Fast forward over the next nearly 14 years, and month after month of high hopes followed by crushing disappointment. Tracking, and trying various natural fertility boosting methods and just being obsessed with this topic in general. I had basically given up.
Then around Valentines Day this year I started to get a feeling. Something just felt…different. I can’t even recall now what specifically felt different but there was something. So I took a test.
And it was positive.
And over the next few days I took a few more tests, and they all kept coming up positive.
To say I was in disbelief would be an understatement. If I’m being completely honest I still have a hard time believing it’s actually happening, despite the exhaustion and the horrible nausea I experienced through all of the first trimester that should make me feel pretty sure.
It’s a surreal feeling, one that comes with a great deal of complicated emotions and anxiety. Every slight twinge of discomfort makes me panic and I spend more time than I care to admit worrying. It’s also been so long since I’ve gone through this that everything feels new and unfamiliar again. What are the rules of what I can eat or can’t eat? How much weight should I be gaining? And so on and so on.
Adding to all of that is the fact that this pregnancy genuinely is so much different than before because of one huge thing: I’m carrying twins. Yep, when I went for my first ultrasound to confirm how far along I was, the tech pointed out that there were actually two babies in there. Which means that almost everything I might have known to expect based on my previous pregnancy can be tossed straight out the window. Everything from starting to show, to feeling movement is likely to happen a lot sooner with twins than single pregnancies (especially if it’s not your first pregnancy.) I can’t even be confident that I know what to expect when it comes time to deliver, never mind caring for two newborns at once.
If I sound nervous, it’s because I am. But I’m also extremely happy and so thankful for this experience. It’s been a long wait to get to this point, and a part of me honestly thought it would never happen so I’m grateful for it even while being nervous.
I’m going to wrap this up now, as I feel like I have rambled on long enough.
Leave me a comment if you’ve gone through something similar, in any way at all. Maybe you have twins, or also got pregnant after a long stretch of trying. Do you have kids with a very large age gap, or were you raised with one and have some comforting stories to share? I’d love to hear from you. And if you are someone who wants to be a parent but are still waiting for your good news, please know you’re in my thoughts and I’m sending so much positive energy your way in hopes that you will be celebrating very soon! ❤
(This isn’t technically a parenting topic, but it is a part of my life and I am a parent so you know what? We’re going to talk about it anyways. Besides, I do think things like this are an important part of overall wellness, so from time to time exercise related topics will appear here on this blog.)
Recently I started a new workout plan, and part of it includes yoga and let me tell you, I hate it so much.
Very unpopular opinion here: but yoga sucks. It’s terrible and I hate it. So much.
Now, I’m probably being a little unfair here, because yoga can obviously be really awesome. It has a ton of benefits, and there’s a reason it’s so popular. But I’m terrible at it, and it makes me feel pretty crappy about myself when I huff and puff and struggle to do the things that the perky brunette with amazing abs on the screen does effortlessly. Even the person behind her who’s purpose is to demonstrate how to modify each move is doing this shit better than me.
So I hate it.
Most of the reasons I hate yoga are specifically things I know it can be really beneficial for. Bad balance? Check! Breathing issues? Check! Inability to relax? Obviously. Poor flexibility? Ugh, check.
The thing is, I want to be good at it. And I know the only way to get good at something is to stick with it even when it’s hard. So I keep trying, even though I’m terrible at it. I want to be the kind of person who does yoga for fun or to relax, or who can actually pull off some of the more complex poses (right now my favourite is the “corpse pose,” and I’m probably not even doing that right!) without feeling like I’m going to injure myself. I look at pictures of way-more-coordinated-than-me people doing weird upside-down bendy things on surf boards or horseback and I’m like, “Yeah!” but also, “Meh.” (out of jealousy, of course) and while I have no illusions that I will ever get to that level of yoga ability, I do want to be decent at it. Or at least not panting like a dog after only 20 minutes.
This awesome post over on a website I recently discovered called Freedom Genesis outlines some of the many benefits of yoga, several of which I had no idea where even…things, and several that I don’t understand even a little bit.
Now, because I’m such a baby about this whole thing, I had to go buy myself special yoga supplies to motivate myself to actually do it. And as I shopped, I found a bunch of really cool things that I think could be helpful for someone else who needs a little help learning to love yoga. My logic is that if I associate the at-the-current-moment unpleasant experience with other things that make me happy, maybe my brain will start to love yoga. Or something.
This super cool yoga mat that has pictures of different poses printed right on the mat.
This mat is much prettier though and comes in a variety of different options, and I just happen to be a sucker for pretty things. (I love the Vivid Zest one!)
Ok but while we’re on the topic of pretty mats: OMG. I think I just fell in love. This one in Night Sky needs to be mine ASAP.)
Yoga blocks can be the difference between kind of being able to do certain poses, and curling up in a ball and crying. Highly recommend.
I used to be obsessed with those metal water bottles for a really long time, until I bashed myself in the mouth with one and almost chipped a tooth. Now I like ones that are safer for a clumsy dork like me to use, like this one that has a straw AND motivational phrases on the side to encourage you to keep drinking water throughout the day. Plus it holds a gallon of water, so maybe I will actually get somewhere close to the required amount of water a day (doubtful still, but I’ll try.)
If lugging around a giant water bottle doesn’t sound very appealing, this 32oz option is likely a better choice. Plus those gradient effect colours are beautiful and I kind of want one in every colour.
With all things, I believe the most important part is just to try and to keep trying to improve a little bit each day. When I’m struggling, I try to remind myself of all the other things I’ve done in life that seemed impossible at first and before long became second nature.
Hopefully eventually yoga will become one of those things. Or at least I’ll learn to hate it a little less.
I’ve started posting some of my posts from this blog over on Medium as well and recently I uploaded one that I haven’t posted here about how to find the motivation to work out when you don’t want to, which is honestly probably advice I should remind myself of sometimes when I’m being grumpy brat about yoga.
(Disclosure statement: links contained in this blog post may be affiliate links. This means that if you use these links to make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You are in no way obligated to use these links, and your support is very much appreciated either way.)
It should have been easy. All the typical hurdles of naming a person didn’t really apply to me. One of the perks of being a soon-to-be single mom is that there’s no one to argue with over name choices. Also, the list of people I hate or really dislike is so small it wasn’t really like I had any names I really needed to avoid lest they bring up uncomfortable memories later on. (I did briefly worry because my first choice for a “boy” name was the same as the middle name of one of my ex’s, but ultimately decided it didn’t really matter because I loved the name and worst case scenario said-ex might one day hear of my child’s name and assume I had chosen it because of him and at the very least I’d get a good laugh out of that.)
Additionally, and probably the main reason I assumed it would be easy, is that I’ve always been a bit of a name nut. I love names. I have always kept lists of names I love, and I enjoy spending time looking up the meanings and origins for various names. As someone who has written stories her entire life, I’ve always really enjoyed naming characters. I quite arrogantly assumed that when it came time to name my future child, it would be a breeze.
As it turned out, I was half right. As I mentioned, I knew what I wanted to name “him” if he was a boy, and that name popped into my head with barely any thought.
But a name option for if I were to have a girl eluded me through almost my entire pregnancy. When I say eluded, I don’t just mean it was a little difficult, I mean I was having damn near daily temper tantrums, sobbing on the floor hysterically, because I HATED Every. Single. Name.
Even names I had once loved. Even names I love now.
Blame it on hormones. Blame it on the crushing weight of the overwhelming responsibility of having to name a HUMAN BEING. Whatever the reason, I just could not figure out how to choose a name.
What made it even worse – in a way – is I knew I was having a girl. Not “knew” as in confirmed by an ultrasound but KNEW in that way that pregnant women just sometimes know things about the tiny, future human being they are temporarily sharing a body with.
So I knew I was having a girl and I had no idea what to name her.
Then one day I was at the grocery store, in line to pay for my groceries, and I saw a baby name book I hadn’t read before (I had read a lot of them at that point) and just because clearly I was in the mood to cry in the grocery store, I picked it up. I flipped through a couple pages and then there it was:
Of course – for me, just because I’m a weirdo – it couldn’t be her name until she was born (I needed to meet her face to face first) but it felt right.
And it was the ONLY name that didn’t make me cry, so there’s that.
Once she was born, the name was clearly a perfect fit. Have you ever met someone and just had an idea of what their name should be? That’s how I felt when I met her.
Naming humans can be hard. It’s a ton of responsibility and pressure and if you start adding in factors like other people’s opinions that makes it even harder. I personally believe in keeping baby names at least mostly private until the baby is born and officially named. I read a comment somewhere once that basically said that most people find it a lot harder to insult a name once it’s already attached to a living, breathing person and I think there is a lot of truth to that. Once the baby is born and that name belongs to them, (most) people are far more likely to be tactful when discussing their name.
This article from the website The Tot has some really great tips for choosing a baby name, including some I definitely didn’t consider that may have made the whole process much easier.
Now that I am no longer pregnant, I love a lot of names again. I haven’t found any that make me cry and I still don’t hate very many people. And I still love my daughter’s name.
If you had any similar awful experiences naming your children, I’d love to hear about them. If only to soothe my own wounded ego. It’s been 13 years and I’m clearly still not over it. Or leave me a comment and let me know your favourite names or if you regret what you named your kids.
I hate the Elf on the Shelf.
There. I said it. You can leave me any number of hateful comments if you wish.
I don’t necessarily dislike the Elf for any one particular reason. I’m not some huge Grinchy Scrooge who hates fun and Christmas and magic. I don’t go out of my way to insult or belittle the people who are obsessed with that damn thing. I just find it…creepy.
To be fair, I have seen tons of really awesome Elf on the Shelf…shenanigans? My own (future) sister-in-law (not the one who opened my eyes to the wonder of the Instant Pot) has two adorable (creepy) elves that she busts out in December and I love seeing the pictures she posts of all the cute and creative ideas she comes up with.
But I still don’t want one – and have never wanted one – in my house.
Maybe it’s because the idea of a doll moving around the house and watching our every move just gives me Chucky vibes. Maybe it’s because even though I’m a fairly creative person, the idea of needing to come up with a new idea every day (and not forgetting, lest you ruin the magic!) gives me hives. Whatever the reason, I have a fairly negative instinctive reaction to the elf. So negative in fact that I vowed that if one was to ever end up in my home, it would shortly find it’s way into the garbage. (And then probably right back on my kitchen counter the very next day because that’s how these things work! Have NONE of you seen any doll-based horror movie!?)
Luckily for me, my kid is 13 now so I think the Elf days have passed us. Even when she was younger, she never mentioned this Elf that seemed to be taking over everyone’s homes. As far as I know, she wasn’t too emotionally damaged by the fact that everyone else seemed to have one in their house and we didn’t (maybe I should check on that…) And I certainly wasn’t going to introduce one into our lives if I didn’t need to. So I didn’t. And we have lived blissfully Elf-free ever since.
The funny thing about not liking the Elf on the Shelf is that you can’t say you don’t like it, otherwise people who happen to love it will get mad at you, or at the very least extremely defensive. It’s almost like they think you are personally attacking them in some way.
Here’s the thing, if you love the Elf, good. I’m happy for you. I hope you come up with tons of great ideas for how to set up that (potentially evil) thing around your home to delight and amuse your children for years to come. I even genuinely enjoy seeing the pictures you post (as long as they don’t get too close to the face *shudder*) and all the incredibly creative scenes you create. Just because I don’t like the elf doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it or that I’m judging you because you’re into it. I just don’t want one.
We definitely could all use a little more magic in our lives, this year especially.
But please don’t be offended that I hate the Elf. We don’t have to like the same things. I’ll still like you. Unless you give me an Elf. Then we’re done.
What does it mean to be a good mom, exactly?
Is it going out of your way to give your children all the experiences in life you wish you had? Or making sure they never want for anything – even if that “anything” includes $400 designer jeans they’ll grow out of in a month or the newest iPhone?
Maybe being a good mom means keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table and clothes on their backs, by any means necessary. Or letting them go when you’re not in the right place to care for them.
There are so many ways to be a good mom, and for every Good Mom Thing we do, there are 30 other things we’re doing or not doing that make us feel like we’re failing. That’s just the nature of motherhood, especially motherhood nowadays at the height of Comparison Culture where heavily edited, carefully curated glimpses of other people’s perfect lives leave us feeling as if we don’t measure up.
Here are some thing you might be able to relate to that let you know you’re a good mom.
(Please note, just as a general disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list, there are many other great examples. Additionally, almost none of the examples on this list are requirements to be a good mother. You are still a good mom even if many of these do not apply to you. And finally, this is not a keeping score type of list. If you can say you check 5 of the 7 boxes on this list, that does not make you a better mom than your sister-in-law who can only relate to 3 of the 7, or vice versa.)
#1. You Love Your Kids. Even if they annoy you sometimes. Even if you wish for more time to yourself. YES, even if you sometimes fantasize about what a child-free life may have looked like for you. Despite everything, you love your kids.
#2. You Want What’s Best For Them. Even if what’s best for them isn’t exactly what they want all of the time.
#3. You Worry That You’re Failing/You Worry That You’re A Bad Mom. Does this sound weird to you? It’s totally understandable if it does, but hear me out. The fact that you worry that you’re failing means you care, and just simply caring is one of the most important things.
#4. You Understand That Your Kids Are Their Own People and Not Just an Extension of You. This means respecting their interests and their choices. Letting them express themselves the way they choose, whether that’s the way they dress, their choice of music or even what they prefer to be called.
#5. You’re Selfish Sometimes. This is something that I think a lot of mom’s struggle with, but, making yourself a priority is definitely a Good Mom habit for multiple reasons. It prevents you from burning out, which helps you be at your best. It also models a very important self-love mentality for your children. Your kids need to see you going out of your way to make yourself happy, not just to make everyone else happy.
#6. Your Kids Get Mad at You Occasionally. Motherhood isn’t just having kids. It’s preparing them for life, helping them become the adults they’re going to be someday. Sometimes this means letting them learn lessons the hard way, or saying no to things even though you know they’ll be mad about it. Obviously this doesn’t mean go out of your way to make life difficult for your kids so they are forced to learn through negative experiences, but sometimes not picking them up when they fall down is the right choice. Letting them figure out the solutions to their own problems instead of swooping in to save them every time.
#7. You Do Stuff With Your Kids. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant, it could be anything like picking up a new hobby together or taking a road trip. Family movie nights, or taking an evening walk. If you have activities you often do with your child, that means you’re giving them your time and attention in some form or another, while creating new memories.
As I said, there are a ton of other ways to tell you’re a good mom, these are just a few. Leave me a comment and let me know some of the things you can think of that let you know you’re a good mom.
I almost always cook dinner in my house. My fiance and daughter make their own breakfasts and lunches, and are responsible for getting their own snacks, but dinner is all on me. Which is fine with me. For one thing, my family never complains about anything I make and they’re both always extremely appreciative of every dinner no matter what it is, and also I kind of enjoy being the one to feed them (if anyone had told me 5 years ago I’d be typing those words I would have laughed in their face.)
Recently however, I implemented a new household rule, which is that on Sunday nights my teenage daughter has to plan and cook dinner, and let me tell you…it’s been a pain in the ass.
OK, OK, I’m mostly just joking. It hasn’t been that bad. It has been an experience though, and eye opening in ways I didn’t expect.
In a nutshell: The rules are that every week before Sunday arrives she needs to tell me what she wants to make so I can ensure we have all the necessary ingredients. Then on Sunday she does most of the cooking with assistance and instructions from me as required. Eventually we’ll move to her doing all of it on her own, but for now since she’s just learning, this is what works for us. I try to discourage her from repeating meals because the point is to learn something new, and I attempt as much as possible to be hands off during the process which for me is the hardest part.
Eventually I’ll add more details and rules into the mix. Soon I’d like to have her making the grocery list and assisting with the shopping as well so she has a better understanding of what food actually costs. But I don’t want to pile on too much just yet.
Now, I know a lot of families with much younger children have them help out in the kitchen a lot more and might be thinking, “k she’s a TEENAGER, this shouldn’t be a big deal.” and to be honest, it’s not a big deal. It’s just something new we’re trying to I’m mostly enjoying.
For her part, she doesn’t really love this new task, but has been fairly cooperative so far with just a slight amount of grumbling. She feels incredibly proud of herself with each new meal she cooks, and she gets the hugest smile on her face when her dad and I compliment her cooking. So I’m going to call that a win for now.
As for me, learning to sit back and let her do things without interfering is so damn hard. You’d think I’d have a handle on this after 13 years of parenting, but I don’t. Not at all. I’m a bit (a lot) of a control freak and I get really impatient if I’m watching someone do something that seems inefficient to me. And let’s be honest, watching your kid learn to cook seems really inefficient sometimes (why is she stirring like that???) so this has been a learning experience for me as much as for her.
Oh god I just realized she starts learning to drive next year.
Her dad can do that.
Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear what kinds of chores your kids do. Which ones do they hate, which ones do they complain about the least?
I have one amazing daughter who I would not trade for anything in the world. She is absolutely my favourite person on the entire planet and my life is so much better in every way because she’s in it. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the fact that I was never able to give her a sibling breaks my heart. And I’ve never been able to because I deal with unexplained secondary infertility, which in a nutshell means I was able to have one baby but for reasons unknown I have never been able to have another.
For a really long time I didn’t admit this to anyone. I think I was ashamed and embarrassed by it. I had assumed it would be easy to get pregnant again. I got pregnant accidentally – while on birth control even! – with my daughter after all, and during a very unhealthy period of my life. So why shouldn’t it be easy to do it again? If I’m being honest now, I was almost cocky about the whole thing. I wanted a big family, and I didn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t happen.
Then a couple years passed with no luck. And a couple more and now, 13 years later, I’m still a mother of only one.
I really shouldn’t say “only” as if it’s a bad thing. Like I said before, I would not trade this gangly, hilarious, incredible, artistic human for ANYTHING in the world. But I can’t deny that not having the big family I had hoped for breaks my heart. I can’t push from my memory the many times my daughter has asked for a sibling and I had no idea how to respond. I can’t stop looking at large families and not feeling bitter resentment. And for a very long time, I kept it all to myself.
One day I stopped keeping it bottled up inside, however. I don’t remember the exact circumstances of the first time – it wasn’t that significant of a life event to be stuck in my mind – but at some point I stopped smiling politely while awkwardly trying to change the subject when people asked when I was going to FINALLY have another baby and I just replied bluntly and honestly: “I would love to have more children, but I’ve been battling unexplained secondary infertility for years and haven’t been able to have another.”
Once I started being more open with my struggles – and started saying the name out loud – things shifted. I’m not going to say it made everything better. But it made it different. For one, people stopped asking me when I was going to have another – which is something people feel shockingly comfortable asking, even demanding sometimes, as if they have some sort of special access pass to the inner workings of my uterus simply because they…know me? I have legitimately had co-workers tell me “You have to have another! You can’t just have one! She needs a sibling!” without knowing just how much those words were killing me at that moment. So I decided to start telling them.
As you might imagine, some people didn’t like this very much because it makes them feel uncomfortable. But here’s the thing: I don’t care. I don’t go out of my way to bring it up but I don’t shy away from it either if it’s actually relevant to the conversation and I don’t care if I make someone uncomfortable by being honest about my circumstances when they start prying into the details of my life (a complaint I have actually dealt with a handful of times, and which makes me laugh because if you don’t want to risk hearing a potentially awkward response, mind your own damn business.)
One of the best parts about opening up about this part of my life, is that I didn’t feel as alone in it anymore. That’s one of the interesting things about infertility, it’s a LOT more common than we think, but we don’t talk about it as much as maybe we should. When I started talking openly about my infertility – even just letting it drop casually in relevant conversation – I noticed other women I know would start to approach me to share their experiences as well. In many cases, I was the ONLY PERSON (other than their partner and doctor) that they had ever told and as cheesey as it sounds, it feels nice to know I can help someone else feel like it’s something they don’t have to keep a secret. It’s nice to be someone they can confess their feelings too without worrying they’d be judged, because they know I understand. There’s something really meaningful about that for me.
Opening up about infertility struggles does in a lot of cases open you up to a whole host of other questions sometimes – Have you tried IVF? Have you considered adoption? – and a lot of weird advice and quasi-reassuring stories of people they know who went through the same thing and went on to have twins or more! (thanks…?) which can all be annoying in it’s own way, of course. I haven’t found the best way to deal with those yet.
If you figure it out, let me know.