Category Archives: mommy wars

Mom in the elevator

Dear Mom in the Elevator,

I’m sorry. I apologize for leaving so quickly. I saw you and your husband in the elevator at Children’s. You were wearing the badge of the NICU. You had hit the elevator for the respite floor. You looked so spent. So wiped. So scared.

As I left with Boo for her cardiology appointment I turned and said, It gets easier.

Then I left.

I’m sorry. I should have said something sooner. I should explained that it gets easier but not better. That today you are worried about your newborn and tomorrow you will be worried about you toddler.

But I swear it gets easier. You will be hit in the gut many times over the next few years decades. Right now, believe it or not, is the easiest time of your life with a sick newborn. You have the support of awesome nurses and physicians who allow you to nap, to eat, to cry and to ask questions. 

Soon, hopefully, you will be discharged. You will be scared. No, you will be terrified. As much as you looked forward to the moment of taking your baby home you are scared to your core. Because at this moment you realize you are parenting without a net. You are taking a child home that just 8 hours earlier was on a cardiac (or other) monitor. The doctors and nurses assure you that they are healthy enough to go home. As much as you (and everyone you know) prayed for this moment in time you are terrified that you are not ready.

But you are. There are just somethings you have to do to make sure you and your child stay whole.

You need to create a village. That friend that says call me, what can I do, I’m here for you. Hold them to it. Call them and say HELP ME I’M SCARED. More scared than you ever imagined. Unless you have been in the NICU you cannot describe the level of terror. They won’t get it, but they will hurt for you. They will be there for you. But only if you let them.

But I get it. I understand the moment you thought your child was going to die. The moment when you realized they would live. The moment you were told they were coming home.

It scared the crap out of me. I mean, like almost threw up I was so scared.

There will be moments in the future when you will worry, when you will cry, when you will say this is not what I signed up for…but they pale in comparison to the moment.

The moment when you go from being a parent in the NICU to a parent without a net.

Here is what you need:

  • Your partner. You are in this together. Remember that and hold them to it.
  • Your best friend. They promised to be there forever. Hold them to it.
  • Your mom. She loves you, no matter what. She might not understand what you are going through, but let her be there.
  • Your pediatrician. If you do not have one that is willing to be answer your call at 2AM find a new one. Their job is to be there for you and your child. Hold them to it.
  • Your friends. Here’s the thing. They want to be there for you. But they don’t know how. They are afraid to call and bother you, they don’t want to burden you, they are ashamed that they complain about their child talking nonstop when yours is nonverbal, they don’t know how they can help. So tell them. Tell them what you need. Be it a pizza delivered, a bathroom cleaned, a shoulder to break on or a text fest where you just spew. But let them be there. Don’t hide what you are going through because then they cannot help. You need them, it’s your job to let them know it.

Lastly, and this is the most important, listen to your inner warrior mom. You know your child better than any doctor, nurse or provider. If they smell funny to you then something is going on. I once had a nurse tell me that mother’s instinct trumps doctors order any day of the week. Remember that. 

When you gave birth to a child with a medical issue and/or special need, you didn’t just become a mom (sorry to tell you). You became a warrior mom. One who advocates, medicates, does therapy, uses Google to the ends of the research and who loves their child beyond all measure.

It does get easier. Not better, but easier. The caveat to being easier is to have your village. Go find them. Embrace them. Lean on them. I should have done it earlier. I am one of the lucky ones. My village found me. 

Dear Mom in the elevator, you are not alone. You are scared. You are terrified. You feel overwhelmed and heartsick. But you are not alone. Create your village. Embrace them. That is what makes the NICU experience bearable. I remember just 5 years ago keeping people away. I missed out on the support I needed. It took years for me to get it. That my village was there waiting to be tapped. Once I understood this journey became easier.

Not better, but easier. 

Don’t make that mistake, Dear Mom In the Elevator. Let your support system be there for you now and forever.

A parent who has been there and has the t-shirt.

A parent that is there for you, if you need.

A mom who wishes she spoke up sooner. That she said HELP. That she allowed those who love her and her child to help them.

PS–I had a different post almost ready for this Finish This Sentence Friday, Dear Mom…but then the elevator happened.

Holy crap I’m a cohost and really hope I didn’t screw this up 🙂 Please link up below!

In a blink of an eye

Just yesterday I gave birth. Just a night ago I rocked a baby to sleep. At midnight I dealt with my baby’s first fever. At breakfast I watched my baby take her first step. At lunch I heard her say her first sentence. At twilight I watched her ride a bike for the first time. At dinner we spoke about fractions. At bedtime she brushed her teeth without prompting.

That is how quickly a decade can go. In a blink of an eye I went from being worried about a pregnancy test to being worried about doing Every Day Math with my child.

My favorite decade was this one. The one when my little girl went from drooling, to teething, to eating to talking non-stop.

My favorite decade was this one. The one when my little girl learned to roll over, sit up, crawl, walk, run and swim.

My favorite decade was this one. The one when an imaginary little sister was replaced by the in real life one. 

My favorite decade was this one. The one that led me from reading bedtime stories to watching my child fall in love with the written word.

My favorite decade was this one. The one where princesses and fairies are slowly replaced by horses.

My favorite decade was this one. The one where Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Leprechauns, the Tooth Fairy and Tinkerbell existed.  

My favorite decade was this one. The one where Sesame Street was replaced by Word Girl that was eventually replaced by Shake it Up. (I kind of miss Sesame Street)

My favorite decade was this one. The one where the girl who would only wear dresses (that twirled) will now only wear leggings and T-shirts. 

My favorite decade was the one that went faster than my 8th grade history class. The decade that showed me what was important in life. The decade where I received not one but two beautiful children. The decade that hasn’t happened yet. The decades still to come where I will watch them grow and flourish and become the best that they can be.

Photo Credit: Family Tree Photography

My favorite decade was this one, what was yours?

Finish the Sentence Friday

Stop staring. I think to myself. Stop whispering. I think to myself. I know my child isn’t behaving. I know she is disturbing Mass. I know she just pushed your son. I’m sorry. I really am. But stop.

You don’t have to point. You don’t have to say that your children knew how to behave. That they sat quietly with a book. That they were polite and perfect. You don’t have to tell the waiter that dinner was lovely but you wish they would seat disruptive children in another part of the restaurant.

Trust me, I think that is a fabulous idea. Take the old smoking section of the restaurant, make that the adult only section. (Cause let’s face it the smoking section was always in the bar). Make a section where the families can sit. Where moms and dads can enjoy a meal they did not cook or do the dishes when the child didn’t even taste the meal. 

Where they would not feel judged. 

What I really want to scream out loud is WE ARE DOING THE BEST WE CAN.

It’s been a long decade, year, month, week, day, hour, minute. We are holding onto our sanity by a thin thread. You might believe that your child was a perfect angel. That they never raised their voice inappropriately. That they sat quietly in Mass. That they never pushed a friend or hit a sibling.  Your child would never have colored outside the lines (or on the wall).

The truth is, just like childbirth, you have forgotten what it was like to have a young child. That you were once like us. Parents burnt out by work, family and homework. You are looking back at the good times of being a parent. The time when you son got an “A+” or your daughter kicked the winning goal.

You are forgetting the pain of doing fractions. The fight to brush their teeth. That beds will be unmade. That there are temper tantrums (sometimes being performed by the parent). That we are all tired, hungry and just done. So we went to a “family-friendly” restaurant for respite.

And got spite instead. As you sat in the booth across the aisle and sipped your wine. I did feel bad when Boo screamed (with joy, mind you) so loud over the pop corn you were startled and spilled your wine. At least it was white and will not stain. When you cringed because Abby was speaking in her outdoor voice. That your experience was spoiled by Boo hitting Abby because she wanted to use the crayon Abby was currently holding.

I get it. You were just looking for a night out as well. You were not expecting to be seated across a family whose children were really excited about cheese & crackers for an appetizer. 

You could have ordered me a glass of wine, with a kind nod of a survivor who had been there, done that and survived. Instead you remarked, loud enough to be heard, that when your children were young they knew how to behave.

I really wanted to scream out loud, LIAR. Your children were probably spoiled brats or bullies or the neighborhood menace. But I didn’t. Instead I mentally thought how great it was that Boo enunciated pop corn for the first time. I blocked your stare of condemnation. I ordered my own (second) glass of wine and planned on tipping our waitress well, really well.  

I promised myself that in 20 years when my children are grown and I am seated across a mother trying to do her best I will order her a glass of wine in your honor.

Finish the Sentence Friday

Tell me, how would you finish the sentence, What I really want to scream out loud….

The Mommy War with herself

The other day Rachel from Tao of Poop had a wonderful post about how she wonders why she says she is JUST a stay-at-home mom. See, Rachel brings up a great point. What happened that made us think poorly of ourselves, and others, for being a stay-at-home mom.

Quite frankly I blame ourselves. We women are to blame for the mommy wars. And I am not talking about the war between the stay-at-home and working mom. But the war we have with ourselves.

The feminist revolution happened when I was too young for it to impact. When I had Abby you fell into one of two categories: the stay at home or the working. One of us definitely looked down on the other. But for different reasons, I think, at least for my generation.

There is this theory that the SAHM (crappy acronym by the way) is the lucky ones. We working moms think their houses are spotless, their kids are well behaved (and probably don’t watch TV) and they have real family meals every day. We also think you could drop by and use their bathroom and they won’t be running in to give it a quick scrub down first. Working moms, at least this one, views the SAHM as their superior, falling just behind those fools saints moms who home school. We feel they have the patience we could never attain.  

In truth, the stay at home and the working moms are equals. We are all fighting the same battles. We are trying to manage our house in this 24-hour world. All of us at some point have hidden in the closet eating the last M&M. We are the CEO of the house, the Keeper of the House, the Chief Financial Officer of the House, the Cruise Director for every day off/vacation/snow day, the Executive Chef, Homework Tutor and Head Stylist/Fashion editor. 

Where a SAHM feels she has to apologize for being “just” a mom, I feel I have to apologize for working and not being there. I am not at the girls school parties. I am not chaperoning field trips.  I am not doing a project for science. My house is never company clean and some days (gasp) my kids wear their pants from the day before. I drop Boo off and feel that I am “just” working when I should be with my child. I rarely meet Abby’s bus in the afternoon and feel guilty that I only see her for two hours before bed. That those two hours are usually filled with screaming and crying over math homework doesn’t help the guilt.

The Mommy Wars suck. But the war we create in our own heads? The guilt we feel by whatever choice we made, that sucks more. 

We are not just moms. Not anyone of us. I am declaring a truce in the Mommy War. We are no longer thinking poorly of ourselves. We promise to end the judgement of how we are doing by the mom next door. We will embrace who we are, dust bunnies and all. I declare a new mantra:

I’m a mom, no qualification necessary.

Who’s with me?