Memoirs Of A Modern Housewife

My life is nothing like the Bravo Housewives!

Archive for the tag “Home”

That Moment When: Pressured to Parent (A Certain Way)


The beginning of summer my family and my brother’s family drove over 1,800 miles in a surprisingly uncomfortable 12 passenger van with 4 adults, 2 teenagers, 2 school-age kids and a one year old. My five-year old, who absolutely hates being in a car for any amount of time threw us off guard as she pleasantly road in a booster seat from Minnesota to Memphis overnight. No whining or complaining to be heard.

This trip was one we were all excited about as we were seeing family who we hadn’t seen for as long as she was born, so over five years. I thought she would have some shyness, some apprehension but she welcomed her aunts, uncles and cousins with open arms. She laughed, played, and tried new things without a moan.

Day three, among the loud laughter and conversations, I could hear my child crying hysterically. I stopped what I was doing and ran out to find her with one of my aunts who was patiently trying to comfort her.  She was hysterical and I couldn’t figure out what had taken place because I couldn’t even understand her through the sobs.

That Moment When: Pressured to Parent

Apparently all the children received silly spray and she’d used all of hers as they were still running around playing with theirs. Everyone was trying to reason with her, tell her they would get her a new one, offered her drinks and other toys, etc. but I knew that the silly spray wasn’t the problem.

I was surrounded by family and some of their friends. People who have not been around my little one longer than a few minutes or days and I can tell by the looks on their faces that they assumed I was raising a spoiled, undisciplined child. You know the look. The look that says, “What are you going to do about the way she is acting…you’re the mom, show her (and us).”

I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to the heat rising on the back of my neck; the feeling like I had to do something was becoming more and more intense with her wails. But I did something in that moment that I didn’t think I would under the pressure.

I waited to respond.

I thought about the day and realized that she’d been in the sun all day and played hard, harder than she ever had in all of her five years. We live in the frozen tundra and Memphis was 90 degrees by 9 am. She was flushed, sticky and I am sure everyone’s efforts were overwhelming her.  I was too busy interacting with my family that I didn’t notice that she hadn’t been drinking enough water and didn’t take a moment of rest, which for this child is a must.

I’d missed it.

This melt down could have been avoided and this super embarrassing moment was brought by me. Now I know she is responsible for her emotions (as much as she can be for 5) and we work on that daily. I also know that kids have to let off steam sometimes. However, if you have a high needs/sensitive child…you know that emotions are always overflowing.

I thought about how she must be feeling; physically and emotionally and began to ignore the spectators. I asked my daughter to come to me. She came and I pulled her on my lap. I wiped her forehead and started fanning her as she started to calm down and relax. I asked her to tell me what was going on.

She began to go on about the silly spray. I let her tell her story and when she was done I calmly validated that it sucked that she used all of her silly spray and was missing the “fight” with the other kids but that she chose to use hers before the planned fight. I also told her that she was tired, probably dehydrated and needed a bath and some quiet time. She protested but I assured her that it wasn’t a suggestion.

We packed up the family and headed to where we were staying. I put her in the bath with her little brother where I can hear them laughing and splashing. I had her take sips of water, lay on the couch and watch a show in the air-conditioned house. She slowly returned to the kid I know.

I had to remember that I know her and that no matter where I am and who is around me I am her mother and I know what’s best for her.

Have you ever had a moment where you felt pressure to respond or parent a certain way? Share your experience below in the comments, would love to hear from you!

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Seed, Time and Harvest


I have a desire to garden but I have been trying to deny the urge. I really enjoyed my square foot gardening a few years back, I called it “Garden Therapy”. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed the labor of getting on my knees, playing in the dirt, watering and even weeding. Every morning when the sun would rise I would jump out of bed (sometimes still in my pajamas) and look at what had grown. I was like a little kid checking on it every few hours. It helped me appreciate being outside no matter what the temperature or weather conditions were because I knew the sun, rain and even wind was purposeful.

Square Foot Gardening 2

Garden Therapy

 

I also had containers everywhere with  every herb I could find and every time we opened the patio door you would get hit with a mint or basil smell. Because we have a limited outside space right now I think I may focus on doing some container gardening mainly.

Herb and Flower Mix

Melon

Herb Mixture

 

Another bonus was that my children grew to love it. In the beginning (the hard work phase) they helped because I asked but didn’t know what to expect. By the end of the summer they were running into the house to tell me what had grown overnight, would take turns watering the plants, didn’t mind weeding and even oversaw newborn bunnies that were born in my oversized squash area.

Planting Seeds

"Larry" the cucumber

Poots watering

Another reason I enjoyed gardening is because it correlates with life. Everything in life starts out as a seed and requires time before you can reap the harvest. This is true whether you are expecting a good or bad harvest. Every seed has the potential to grow. Over the spring and summer months I will post about our gardening efforts but also how the experience has helped me to look at life choices from a different perspective.

Harvest Time

 

I hope you’ll join me and if you have any good tips please post them below, I’m still a bit of a rookie ; )  

Second garden

 

The Importance of Support and Breastfeeding


***This is an article I wrote for my doula website a few months before my little guy was born. I just reread it as I was going through some archives and thought it would be helpful here. It certainly reminded me as to why I am still nursing.****

Taking a snooze after nursing

Taking a snooze after nursing

 

The other night I lay awake thinking about this little one that will be arriving in the next few months and doing so caused my to do list to continue to grow. I’m thinking about the birth, my birth team, vaccinations, breastfeeding, among other concerns and plans that expectant moms often think about.

One thing actually brought a wave of comfort and peace that helped lull me back to sleep. I was reflecting on when my now three-year was six-months old. Earlier I had taken her to her six month check up and was giving my husband the report that evening over dinner. “Petite little thing, not uncommon for breastfed babies, thriving, overall a  healthy happy baby”. As this little one sat on my lap my husband’s face changed to one of adoration and pure sweetness as if he’d gotten a beautiful revelation.

He looked at me and said, “That’s amazing. You’ve kept her alive just with breastfeeding her. I can see how much of a sacrifice it is for you but you do it without complaining and our baby is healthy and thriving because you were determined to do it.” He went on to remind me of the trials in the beginning, but how I had become a pro and baby and I became a team.

At that time I don’t think I really grasped what he was doing or what he said really meant to me. I went on to breastfeed until she was a little over two years old and in hindsight having a supportive spouse made all of the difference.

As I sit and think about what my life will be like the next few months or years (depending on how long new baby nurses), instead of thinking about what I will be missing out on; freedom of spontaneity, clothing choices, convenience and other things I can’t think of now, but will while I’m nursing, I will instead think about how short of a time it really is, the gift I am giving this little one and those kind words of encouragement my husband gave to me.

Do you have anyone who is encouraging your decision to breastfeed? Feeling supported is one major component of successful breastfeeding and how you will feel about the experience.

Seek out other moms who have had good experiences. If they can do it (minus the percentage who physically cannot breastfeed) so can you. It helps to observe and be able to ask questions.

Have an open communication with your spouse or partner about why it’s important to you and baby and how they can help. A lot of times they want to help but are unsure of how to.

There are also local La Leche League International groups that are available by phone and also meet on a weekly or monthly basis. I found this connection to be invaluable especially when I would hit a breastfeeding obstacle.

Most hospitals have on staff lactation consultants and specialists. It is important to meet with one who is actively involved with continuing education and who is not so easily ready to give up on you.

I would like to note that if you have decided not to breastfeed or are/were unable to for what ever reason that this article is not meant to be condemning but supportive to those who have chosen to do so. Truth be told, breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful, natural things in the world but it can also be one of the most challenging situations a woman may encounter. For some women knowing that they are not alone and have support is enough to help them go a few more weeks, months or year if she and baby decides.

Books to consider:

The Breastfeeding Book: Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Your Child from Birth Through Weaning by Martha Sears and William Sears

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (La Leche League International Book) by Diane Wiessinger

The Nursing Mother’s Companion: Revised Edition by Kathleen Huggins

Meeting My Kids Where They Are


My 8 month old is teething and possibly experiencing separation anxiety. I am physically and emotionally exhausted because I am “the one” who he seeks for comfort. The days and nights start to run together.

My four-year old has twenty notebooks that she uses to doodle in all day, every day. Notebooks all over the house, random sheets of paper with what appears to be scribbles cluttering her room. I am tempted to dispose of them when she is not around.

My fourteen year old comes home on the third day of school. We chat about her day as I prepare dinner and out of the blue she asks, “What do you do if you don’t get asked to the prom.” This is her third day of high-school and she is worried about being asked to the prom.

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These are a few examples of the daily interactions with my children. I can often catch myself getting annoyed, not thoroughly engaging in a conversation or thinking that their activities and requests are petty compared to the big things that my husband and I have to deal with. Health, financial, relationship, and other issues that on our level the kids wouldn’t understand if we tried to explain it to them. I know they wouldn’t because some things we can barely get a grasp on.

It had become easy to break a promise of a story or a walk when something “bigger” came along. It had become easy to feign listening to a story about teenage drama. Drama that I was so glad to have survived during my own high-school years. It had become so easy to become frustrated and almost resentful because of a lack of sleep and to have someone need you constantly without a break in sight.

Hard to admit, but true. Then one evening I watched Poots (four-year old) laying on the floor, feet swinging in the air, humming a tune while she drew and it dawned on me. That is her world. For a moment, I imagined what it must be like to be four. What are your concerns, your delights, what hurts you, scares you and why. My heart began to ache because I realized that all she can see and know is what she has learned this far. I am living life as a thirty-two year old. I’ve experienced life, all that she will come across eventually but she hasn’t experienced all that I have. Everything is new and exciting to her. Every emotion exhilarating and bigger than her sometimes.

In her little eyes drawing her pictures is pretty cool and takes up a large part of her day because it is so much a part of her world. Her drawings are creative and shows her bubbly sense of humor. She wants us to look through every book, help illustrate a story for each page and then read them all. Over and over again. This is how she is experiencing life. It is up to me to meet her where she is and escort her through life. Prepare her for life; relationships, work, hurts and laughter.

I then thought about my little guy. He’s only been here for eight months. Eight months. I expect him to have it figured out. To know that there are other ways to be comforted. Some adults haven’t figured out the proper way to comfort themselves. We sometimes use food, drugs or other self destructive behavior. What’s wrong with relying on your primary caregiver when you are a baby. The one who nurtured and held you tightly for nine months previously. He loves to be around me, on me, touching me in any way. I joke with my husband about how I think sometimes he wishes he was “back in”. My frustration, when I think about it is not with his needs. It really points out that I am not taking care of myself. I am trying to be super mom. When really my kids just need a loving mom.

I often coin the phrase, “you couldn’t pay me to go back to high-school.” I mean it. It wasn’t awful. Just hard and hurtful as you navigate relationships, school and preparing to leave the nest all while finding yourself. What my fourteen year old daughter is dealing with is hands down more difficult a time than I grew up in. I think about what it was like to be her age, in high-school and I remember, this is her world. This is her life right now. A big part of her life. I am lucky that she feels she can share her day and concerns with me and I would be wise to respect it by actually listening. Turn the running water off and look her in her eyes. No more talking to the back of my head.

A friend whose daughter just started college told me something a few years back (she has a similar relationship with her daughter). She said there would be nights when she was exhausted, ready to lay her head down and would hear the soft voice of her daughter asking if they could talk. She initially thought about how tired she was and all she had to do the next day but realized that those things would always be there. The opportunity for her to walk her daughter back to her room, lay across her bed and hear about what was troubling her wouldn’t always be there.

I think of this today as I (once again) reset my priorities. I must meet my kids where they are. In the age and stage of life that they are experiencing. Not the stage of life I am experiencing.

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Fourth Trimester (Survey)


If you are an expectant mother or have had a baby in the last six months would you please consider taking the time to participate in a quick survey relating to the postpartum period.

I am working on a new project to help mothers during the postpartum period that I am very excited about and your input would be valuable to the process.

Click here to participate in the online survey. 

Thank you so much,

Natalia

Click here to take survey

I’m Such A Liar (Sometimes)


Pretty harsh reality, but it’s the truth. I just now realized in all of my thirty (cough-cough) years how refreshing the truth is.

I was at a family function this labor day weekend. We were all assigned a dish and/or a meat to put on the grill. I was supposed to bring chicken legs/wings.  I must add, my family teases me often when it comes to cooking either by comparing it to my mother’s or out of fear that I have slipped tofu or something healthy but “weird” into the dish. There is a certain seasoning mixture that I always use but for some reason I decided to deviate from it, to try something new.

As I was preparing the chicken the aroma of all of the seasonings smelled great and I couldn’t wait to present my new recipe to the group. I included my marinated chicken in the rotation of things to be grilled and went about eating and mingling. I kept asking, “Has he grilled mine yet? I want to taste it first.” Not tasting a dish before serving was something I rarely did unless it was a recipe I was pretty confident in.

When he finally grilled my chicken I (doe-eyed and all) asked what he thought. He paused and said, “I can taste the seasonings but there was no flavor”, and continued to grill. I didn’t know what to say. His delivery was kind and not meant to insult me. In fact, it didn’t insult me.

Let me elaborate or this story may seem petty. After the initial shock of failing on a dish (I tasted it and it was pretty bland), there was a sense of freedom that came with my uncle’s honesty. I am the kind of person who doesn’t always tell the truth. This was hard to admit until now. If someone wronged me, I usually shook it off…too often…and then stuffed it. If someone asked my opinion about something I danced around the truth because of FEAR. Fear of hurting someone’s feelings, fear of them not liking me, fear of a confrontation, fear of their reaction or rejection.

I have some friendships that are superficial and shallow because we do not tell each other the truth. The hard truths. We may say if an outfit is not the most flattering but we would never say, “Your attitude really stinks and I don’t want to be around you.” We just disappear leaving the other person wondering what happened. I have family members who I love but whose lifestyles aren’t healthy and I fear for the phone to ring in the middle of the night. I don’t tell them this because of fear.

When I do not tell the truth I am not being authentic. I am not allowing people to know the real me, my real thoughts, what is going on in my heart. That’s not okay. Not only is that bad for relationships, but emotional and health wise it’s pretty toxic. My body is often tense,  with fists clenched, jaws clamped and stomach churning.

Many psychologist and therapists say that depression (sometimes) is the caused by suppressing your emotions. It is no surprise that I struggle with depression every once in a while. It’s not something I am proud of but it’s the truth. I push my true feelings down, bite my tongue, hold my peace and lie so much that it eventually explodes. Unfortunately the explosion may be towards my husband, my kids or myself.

I believe there is a right way to be honest, with tact and grace. I can’t be responsible for everyone’s feelings anymore. I have to start owning mine.  I also want to show my children that it is okay to speak the truth (in love). I am on a path to be more authentic, to free my soul and have true(r) relationships.

What about you? Do you find it hard to speak the truth? Sometimes or to certain people?

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