Lessons of My Tantruming Toddlers

So this was my Target run this morning with my cute little, potbellied, snot-nosed companion.

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#3 Tantrums amidst candy and beer

Gold-star parenting, taking a photo of my raging 1.5-year-old, right? Pffft… the photo was worth it.

I remember back when my first child (now a sparkle-loving, highly articulate, graceful-as-an-elephant kindergartener) would throw public tantrums. Oh how I would shrivel! My face grew red, I could feel real and perceived eyes on me. I gave SO many shits about what others thought. Granted, when my bull-headed mini-me would rage she would do so for at least 30 minutes. No amount of distraction or redirection, ignoring or punishing would calm the storm. She just needed to let loose until the tides turned. And so she did. And so I learned.

Along came my second child. My daughter, but 20-months old at the time of his birth, was still in the infancy of her tantrum season. We’d walk the aisles of a grocery store and she’d wail. We’d shop Target and she’d walk behind me losing her ever-loving mind. Her infant brother, tucked neatly into his stroller, had been prepared for these animal noises in-utero, so he was utterly unaffected by her demonic yowl-and-flail maneuvers. I’d remain outwardly calm, inwardly reminding myself to stay steady, willing myself to pale the increasing blush in my cheeks. I’d nod at the reassuring smiles from on-lookers, I’d respond to kind words with a silently mouthed “thank you.” I’d ignore unsolicited advice to “teach her a lesson” or “get out the belt.” I kept on with my errand. I preserved.

My second child came of age and would tantrum in public. He’d sit down in the middle of a busy aisle or attempt to run across the street and I’d scoop him up into the crook of my elbow so that his belly rested on my hip, his squat legs kicking the air behind me. We’d go about our errand or family walk as he flailed in my arm, securely positioned in the “carry of shame.” Often both he and his sister would simultaneously unleash their inner demons. Onlookers would reassuringly smile and I’d smile back. Passersby would offer kind words and I’d respond in jest. After a few minutes, he’d relent, his sister would eventually follow suit. He knew his sister had calloused me; he could not win.

Then my third child arrived, 2.5 years after my second. He tantrums and I giggle. He hops with anger in a store aisle and I stop to take a picture. Do onlookers sneer or even notice? I haven’t the faintest. Do people seem unsettled by the fussing of a toddler in a public space? I neither know nor care. I’m just living the fleeting humorous moment, because this too shall pass.

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Real Talk: Postpartum Hair Loss

You get pregnant. You’re round and glowing, you urinate every 20 minutes, and produce more gas than Exxonmobil. But, if you’re so fortunate, your suffering is eased by a glamorous perk: pregnancy hair. What you don’t realize is it’s only on loan.

Your hair has never been so full, lush, and manageable. It is your crowning gestational glory. Until postpartum hair loss hits. Some time around 3 or 4 months postpartum your body realizes that baby it’s been brewing has made a departure. And now it is time for all of that phenomenal hair to do the same.

While you were pregnant, your body held onto hair instead of shedding regularly. Now your hormones have reset so shedding has begun again. The problem is that you’re now shedding 10 months of mane all at once. That means a thinning hairline, bald patches, mangy ends, overall thinness. Not pretty.

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Me 4 months postpartum after my 3rd child. I lost a lot of hair, as I always do postpartum. I have never shared this vulnerable image but do so in the hopes that others feel solace knowing they are not alone.

Mother nature may be kicking your leaky, stretched, hormonal, dark-circled self in the ovaries but that’s the price you pay for 10 months of pregnancy hair and a baby. There are ways to manage the hair loss though. After having three kids and three rounds of confidence-obliterating postpartum hair loss, these are my tips for regaining a sense of follicular normalcy.

1) Remember this is natural, unavoidable, and – most importantly — temporary! You will hit a point when you think you will go bald. You will have clumps of hair clog your drain after just one shower. You will cry. You will survive this. This WILL stop. Know this. You will NOT go bald.

2) Don’t believe the hype! People will claim this potion, that vitamin, or this treatment will magically halt the hair loss. FALSE! Nothing is stopping this hormonal train. The best you can do is manage the aftermath. Don’t buy the snake oil.

3) Regrowth is your hope! Biotin supplements and prenatal vitamins are your key to speeding up regrowth. Some shampoos offer the same claim too.. the jury’s out on that. If it makes you feel better, buy them, try them, and go for it. It won’t stop or reverse hair loss, but the vitamins at least will help new hair replace the shed hair sooner.

4) Camouflage is your friend! Hit up a beauty supply store and buy a hair piece (faux bun, hair-covered hair tie, or faux ponytail like these) or dry shampoo/texturing product, whatever works to hide your thinning ends and allows you to wear your hair up with confidence. (Bonus: Wearing your hair up very temporarily keeps the hairs from shedding, but know that as soon as you release your hair so will your scalp. Also, updos can get uncomfy given the hair loss can place unwanted stress on still-rooted hairs as others depart throughout the day. So proceed with reasonable caution.) Grab some root concealing spray or powder (this is my favorite) to hide any thinning edges and bare patches. There are ways to hide the hair diaspora.

5) Cut and color boost more than your confidence! A shorter cut makes hair appear thicker. Hair dye makes hair appear fuller. The combo could be just the image-enhancing, volume-feigning move you need.

Postpartum hair loss is embarrassing but it shouldn’t be. It’s entirely natural. Your body just did an amazing thing: it created a human. YOU created a human. You are amazing. You are beautiful. Your hair will return and this will all be a memory. You’ve got this!

My Kids are A-holes: My Afternoon of Mommy Hell

When it’s 12:30 and you’re already wishing it was wine o’clock,  you know it’s bad.

I love my kids. I always wanted to be a mom. I’m immensely fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to parent my own biological children. Nonetheless, on occasion, my kids can be real assholes.

I knew my day was apt for a left turn when all of the kids were awake before 7:00am. Still, it was going to be a busy day complete with two school drop-offs, grocery shopping, grocery unpacking, preschool costume parade which coincided exactly with the inconveniently scheduled kindergarten early dismissal, lunch prep, breast milk pumping, and packing and shipping of frozen breastmilk for my milk recipient. There was lots to do but, fortunately, The Hubs was there to pitch to make it all work.

The Hubs took on school drop-offs and the yougest and I headed to the grocery store. Errand completed, groceries unloaded, lunch heating, and we had 15 minutes to spare before heading to the preschool parade. Just enough time for a nursing session. The Hubs manned kindergarten pick-up and the youngest and I drove to preschool. Perfection! That’s when the day went sideways.

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– We arrived at the school and the yougest was cranky. If he wasn’t attempting to waddle into the street, he was a fussy puddle of baby on the sidewalk. He repeatedly flung his chubby face at the glass double doors and streaked his way down the the glass in toddler melodrama.

– After the parade, the yougest and I headed to the classroom to retrieve the now-exhausted middle child.

– The middle child, dressed as the blue-haired merman from Nick Jr’s “Bubble Guppies”, refuses to leave the classroom or don his backpack until I put his blue wig in the backpack. Fine. Blue wig in backpack… whatever.

– We get to the car in the bustling preschool parking lot. He wants me to remove his costume pants right then and there. No. We live 3 minutes from school. You can survive. You’re wearing scale-printed leggings for goodness sakes! Get in your car seat.

– As I buckle the boys into their car seats, the middle child asks to hold his treat bag. I say he can but he may not eat anything from it. I hand him the bag. He flings it beside him in frustration because why look when you cannot eat?

– I pull out of the parking space and the middle child asks what’s for lunch. He throws his shoe when he hears it’s not noodles with meatballs.

– We haven’t even exited the parking lot when he throws his sock after I tell him that, no, I will not make him a separate lunch.

– We’re not even out of sight of the school when he throws his other shoe upon realizing, to his utter horror, that there’s a commercial on the radio. He shrieks that he wants music.

– Music comes on. I turn up the volume and he screams he doesn’t want music. I turn it louder and tell him I won’t turn it down until he stops screaming and whining.

– He eventually stops screaming and whining. I turn down the music.

– He wants his treat bag from the school party. It’s right next to him but he claims he can’t reach it. He can. He won’t. He freaks out and throws his remaining sock. Verdict: no treats for the rest of the day. He flips.

– I remind him of our in-car shoe removal policy: as soon as we park he has to collect his socks and shoes and walk inside as he is. He freaks out.

– We get home. The Hubs has successfully retrieve the eldest from school and is already back home. I unbuckle my youngest and unfasten the middle child. Within the seconds it takes me to walk around the minivan to let out the middle child, he has managed to refasten himself in the car seat and is losing his mind over being stuck in the car seat. I free him (though I really don’t want to.)

– I walk the emotional middle child through grabbing each thrown foot covering. He wails the entire time and walks barefoot into the house, the mermaid flippers appended to his scale-bedecked leggings wiggling with each step.

– The shoe-less Bubble Guppy melts as he gets inside. He remembers he didn’t want lunch.

– I put his treat bag on the counter so I can heat lunch, and he attempts to swipe the bag. I retrieve the bag and remind him that he doesn’t get treats today. Threat: his treat bag will be thrown away if he tries to steal it again.

– He complains about the lunch I’m preparing. I tell him to skip lunch then.

– He steals the treat bag. I throw the bag away. He screams. I tell him to go upstairs.

– He yells in the hallway that he’s hungry and wants lunch. He rips leaves from the fall garland and throws them down the stairs.

– Fuming, I put him in his room.

– I plate lunch. Everyone — minus the middle demon spawn — is eating. I hear him throwing stuff in his room (plastic hangers and stuffed animals) and yelling at me through his pacifier. Whatever. I’m eating.

– The tantrum is over. I send my eldest to fetch the middle child and to remind him that, if he’s good, he can come have lunch.

– Now wearing only tight whities, the middle child sits at the table, face red and puffy from the tirade, and happily exclaims that the lunch is yummy. The F… really??

– My eldest finishes lunch and goes to get a lollipop. I open the shrink wrap and lollipop shards fall all over the floor.

– I vacuum the lollipop bits. My youngest tips back in his chair (we have bungeed it to the table for just this reason) and gets stuck in the reclined position. I save him.

– My middle child can’t pick up the small pieces of lunch with his fork, so I have to feed him the rest. Meanwhile, my youngest demands immediate release from his booster seat.

– I clean up the middle and youngest children and get them ready for naptime.

– I send my middle child upstairs to go potty before naptime. He somehow pees in his underwear and in the toilet simultaneously. Skills.

– I go upstairs. I step in the pee puddle barefoot. Because, of course.

– I clean up the puddle and get my middle child ready for a nap.

– I nurse my yougest for his nap. Halfway through he pops off and wiggles down to the floor. No nap today.

– I put my youngest in the playroom where my eldest is chilling, and I get my breast pump together.

– I sit down to pump. 5 minutes in: “He stinks!” Complains my eldest. “Poo poo!” squeals my youngest.  I’m pumping so I tell them to hold on until I’m done.

– I finish pumping. Subpar output — a kick to the areolas for a pumping mom — but it’s reasonable given my stress level.

– I change my youngest: “poo poo” was an understatement. Total outfit change required.

– I have 15 minutes of break time before naptime is over. I pour a mug of hot tea and sit. Ahhh!

– 5 minutes later, the yougest is melting. He has decided that he wants to nurse and that it is now his naptime. Sorry, kid! You can nurse but you’re not napping.

– It is 2:00. Naptime is over. Post office, barber shop,,and dinner prep here we come! I unlatch the youngest and we gear up for the remainder of the day.

We survived. I didn’t lose my mind… entirely. I’ll call that a win.

 

 

 

 

To-do List vs. Reality

What my brain thinks I can do within a 26-hour window of time is significantly more, I’ve learned, than what I am actually capable of doing. Especially with a highly mobile, descruction-loving, boob-barnacle 15-month-old in tow.

Once a month my 5-year-old and 3.5-year-old head to my parents’ for an overnight. My parents love it. The kids love it. The Hubs and I love it. The 15-month-old thinks it’s time to binge-breastfeed.

The week prior to the sleepover I mentally construct and weed through my to-do list. (Most of this happens when I’m nursing at 3am.) I have learned that I can only count on accomplishing 1 big to-do list task or 1 medium to-do list task and a smattering of small tasks. This means strategy is required in selecting the exact tasks to place on the sleepover docket.

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My original, wishful, unrestricted sleepover to-do list for this month looked like this:

Big Tasks: 1) Sort through coat closet and reorganize it with a double hanging rod, 2) Donate the growing heap of stuff on the dining room table, 3) Clean the deck, 4) Organize the garage, 5) Clean the inside of the minivan, 6) Clean my closet, 7) Organize the kids’ outgrown clothes

Small Tasks: 1) Go to a store to purchase 4 birthday gifts for upcoming parties, 2) Go to Ulta to purchase Halloween make-up, 3) Go to Target, 4) Purchase my Halloween costume-making stuff, 5) Fold and put away laundry, 6) Set out the week’s outfits for the kids, 7) Do a workout DVD, 8) Buy new curtains

Social Plans: 1) Dinner out with The Hubs, 2) Walk with mom friends

Hahahaha! No.

This is what I actually accomplished after the 15-month-old decided the first 5 hours were dedicated breastfeeding time and refused to nap.

Big Tasks: 1) Sorted through coat closet (sans reorganization with a double hanging rod), 2) Cleaned the deck (only because The Hubs kindly took over this task entirely… thank you!!), 3) Grabbed a handful of trash and an assortment of odds-and-ends from the minivan after searching for a Post-it note in the center console

Small Tasks: 1) Used Amazon to purchase 4 partial birthday gifts for upcoming parties, 2) Went to Ulta and purchased Halloween make-up, 3) Folded (but did not put away) laundry, 6) Set out the week’s outfits for the kids

Social Plans: 1) Dinner out with The Hubs

Oh, reality, you’re a bitch.

So, next time you see my crumb-dusted minivan with everything from swim floaties to winter mittens scrambled inside, my baskets overfilled with teetering towers of folded laundry, my dining room table donation heap, and my worn and stained curtains (with one set on the floor because the 3.5-year-old tried to twirl in them Cirque du Soleil style), know that at least my coat closet is half-cleaned, dammit!