Mom Life: “Fake It ‘Til You Make It”?

“No one wants to see an unhappy kid.”

“No one wants to see a struggling mom.”

If you’re a Mom Blogger, Mom Youtuber, or Mom Social Media Fiend, you have probably heard some variation of those phrases.  No one wants to see a mom with a messy house, dirty kids with stained play clothes running around yelling like little banshees.  If we wanted that, we’d only have to look up from our own social media to see such an imperfect life, right?

Why?

I struggled with this for quite a while, even before I started my instagram.  I knew I’d never be able to show an Instagram-perfect house with white walls, not when my husband painted the house in shades of the primary colors, out kitchen in a dingy yellow, the living room in a deep red, and the bedrooms/bathrooms in a dusky blue, and the house itself is often shaded by trees and has openings for airflow, not natural lighting.

Plus, I live near Flint, MI.  If you haven’t been following the news, just know that it’s not exactly a hotbed of awesome things right now.  We still have issues with drinking water!  So it’s not like I’m living in a glamorous area.

And I’m having issues with conceiving a second child.  This is kind of a gray area, because I’ve seen a lot of bloggers and vloggers talk about their struggles with conceiving, but it’s almost like, once they had a baby, their problems were done.  Mine were not.  I had problems prior to my son’s conception, which were part of the reason that my previous relationship failed, and now I’m having issues with conceiving, and there’s more than a small part of me that fears my marriage will suffer from this, even though my husband has given no sign of anything otherwise.

Also…  My kid is selectively cute.  He’s cute when he has an audience, which means he’s adorable on camera, or around other people (even my husband), but with me…  Well, there’s a reason he has the nickname “Terror”.  He can turn this on and off at will, which often leaves me looking like the bad guy when he’s suddenly precious, but I’m still disciplining him for a previous transgression.  Oh my goodness, those moments are the worst – I’ve lost count of how many times people have said something like, “Momma, calm down, he’s fine now.”  Yes, he’s fine now, but that’s because he knows he’s in trouble.

So, what do I do?  Do I edit those moments?  Do I try to film us only doing fun things?  Do I only film in one area of my house, or outside?  Do I pretend that I’m content being the parent to one child, even though I’m not?  On the last part, that’s what has been suggested to me.  No one wants to hear a mom talk about how she wants another child – that’s just rude when there are people who can’t conceive at all.  When I’m asked if we’re thinking about having another child, I should just respond with something like, “We’re open to whatever happens!” or “Oh goodness, no!”  It’s “not right” to talk about having problems.  It might hurt someone’s feelings.  It might make someone uncomfortable.

As you have probably seen from my videos, I don’t care about that.  I remember wondering if there was something wrong with me, if I’m the only person experiencing X issues.  I’ve started to take that into other areas of my vlogging, too, specifically the “To Heck With It All” DITL video I posted last week, where absolutely nothing went right.

I’m not perfect.  Life doesn’t always work out.  Sometimes, I get to be the mom that looks like the jerk mom.  I get to be the one telling a well-meaning grandparently figure “No”, that my child is going to cry because we are leaving, they have been a right pain in my behind and I’m not taking it.  My house isn’t always perfect.  It’s dark.  It’s moist (thanks, riverbank living).  It’s messy at points.  Life happens.  It’s not always sunshine and Clifford.

And that’s just fine.

Thank you so much for stopping by, and as always, have a good one!

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Secondary Infertility: October 2017

PSA: I will be discussing a form of pregnancy loss in this post.  Please feel free not to read this if that will bother you.  Thank you.

First and foremost, this month will not be good news.  This just wasn’t our month.  Before it even started, I knew it was going to be a rough one – the end of September and beginning of October, our house was plagued (heh) by sickness.  My son and I got pretty sick in September, and my husband managed to fend it off until the first week of October, which honestly upset me a bit (we still haven’t done my birthday dinner).  Finally, once things started looking up…they didn’t.

My husband couldn’t shake the sickness, and our water heater went out.  While we were getting the water heater checked out, we ended up finding out that our furnace was having issues.  We had to replace the water heater, and the furnace is still waiting on a part, but is luckily still usable.

Things start looking up again!  My husband’s car is working pretty well!  But then, disaster.

My husband’s car has a belt slip off.  It’s raining and dark when he finds out, so he just calls me to get him, which I do.  On the way to drop him off the morning after, my truck’s transfer case, which we replaced LAST November (just before my husband’s car stopped working) blew, about halfway to his work.  Giant hole in the side.  Not a chance in heck of even babying it home or to his work.  We had to leave it at a gas station with a promise that we’d pick it up.

In the meantime, we receive notice in the mail that my husband has a civil infraction in his name, for parking over a sidewalk.  The only problem?  He had no idea about it, because it wasn’t his vehicle.  He’d never even been to the place where the infraction had happened.  Luckily (and thankfully) that was easily squared away, but it was still an added stress on our plate as we were trying to figure out what to do about me suddenly being without a vehicle.

We rented me a car.  Everything went well.  Until we found out my truck’s necessary part, which we’d been told was in stock at three different places near the shop where we’d taken it, was actually a mislabeled part.  In all three spots.  And the part we needed wasn’t even available in the state of Michigan.  Oh, and we didn’t know if they’d even be able to get the part in by the next week, let alone have it installed and my truck ready to go!  Did I mention that we rented a vehicle, and it was expensive?!  Thankfully, the part ended up coming in on Friday *as I was returning the car*, and we got the call to pick her up on Monday.

Yes, this past Monday.

This has been a heck of a month.

So, when I felt like death warmed over on Tuesday, I didn’t think anything of it.  I was an emotional wreck, constantly yelling, losing everything even when I literally set it down for seconds…  And I jokingly told my husband, “I’m taking a pregnancy test in the morning, because I am not acting properly.”

At 1AM, I woke up ready to puke.  I managed to hold off for the moments it takes to get to the bathroom, and while I was in there, I decided to take a pregnancy test, just for giggles.  It’s too early, almost a week before I’d even consider my period to be early-but-close…

Positive.  Not glaringly so, just faint.  And I was so out of it that I simply went back to sleep.

Woke up the next morning with the image of the test in my head.  It was a positive, but it was faint.  That could mean it’s an early, early, early test, or the beginning of a miscarriage.  Only one way to find out, right?  Went into the bathroom, sat down, started rummaging through the drawer to find a test to take.

My period.

This isn’t my first chemical pregnancy.  I know what that’s all about – the baby wasn’t viable before a heartbeat was even there.  If I hadn’t taken the test, I wouldn’t have known a thing about it.

But I did.  And at the time of my video, it was still a bit painful.

It’s two days after I recorded that video, two days after I got my period, and I thought I would give a mini-update.

First off, I’m fine.  Like I said in the video, this isn’t my first chemical pregnancy, loss, whathaveyou.  This is old hat.  It honestly doesn’t even bother me to think about it now.  If I’m honest with myself, I know that this was biologically no different than me having a “weird” period, and if I hadn’t tested, I’d be quite sure that that’s all it was – a period, one week early, probably brought on by all the stress from this month.  On an emotional level, I’m fine now.

I didn’t make that video for me, even though it probably seems like I did.  Sure, it was cathartic, but that’s not why I did it.  You see, when I was 22, 23, 24, and my husband and I were still trying to figure out what was going on, I googled everything.  I remember the first time I had a chemical pregnancy, and I got the rundown from both my doctor as well as Dr. Google.

But not many people openly shared their stories.  I knew it was common, but I felt alone.  So I decided, even though I’ve done this before, I’d make a video for those who are like the young me, wondering what happened, what I did, what other people felt and how it affected them.  I made that video because it was something I would have wanted to see at that time in my life, had it existed.

Hopefully, this helps that one person, reaches that one person who needs it like I needed it, and if it does, I’ll be happy.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and have a good one! 🙂

Mom Life: Musings of a Mom Stuck in Car Line

I’m struggling with a topic for today’s post.  I’m running behind.  Over the weekend, I was supposed to interview my husband about marriage, but our weekend was so relaxing that work never once crossed my mind.

Work. For the first time in three years, I realize I have a job again.  Sure, it’s not an “actual” job.  My schedule is flexible – in fact, I’m writing this in my son’s morning car line, but this has still become a job.  I’m still allotting time for making and editing videos, making thumbnails, posting on Instagram, figuring out topics for both my blog and my Youtube channel…  It does add up.  It’s far from the hardest job I’ve ever had, but I still find myself wondering what I have to do to make it “officially” a job.

I admit it, a decent part of my days are spent trying to figure out how to make an income off of my vlogging and blogging.  I look at the news and try to find current events that interest me, that I think would resonate with my audience.  I watch current trends, and try to see if I can’t find something of my own to do, something that will make me “go viral”.  I can’t speak for all of us Mommy/Daddy Vloggers, but I think what I do is pretty normal. And yet, for some reason, I keep coming up short.

So here I sit, in my kid’s car line, writing this blog post.

Honestly, I don’t even know what I’m trying to get out of this post.  Is it a rant?  Is it a plea?  Is it just word vomit?  Am I losing my mind?  <— That’s the real answer, I’ll admit.  And yet, I’m still writing it.  I look like the pretentious jerk in car line, with a laptop, typing away, partially out of boredom and partially because I’m hoping for a breakthrough moment where I figure out what I’m trying to say.

I haven’t.

That’s life.  How often have I stood in the kitchen trying to figure out dinner, or spent time wondering what I should do as a parent?  More often than not, I have no idea what I’m doing.  I’m just winging it!  Just like this post.  Maybe someday, I’ll have it together, figure out what to do to get where I want to be.  I probably won’t, though, and that’s fine.  As long as I have my family, I think I’ll do just fine. 🙂

Sorry, 7:30AM rambles.  Anyway, I hope you know what you’re doing more than I!  Thanks so much for stopping by, and have a good one! 🙂

Mom Life: The First Field Trip

It’s a day I’ve been looking forward to for ages, and simultaneously dreading: the first field-trip.  In Michigan, at least, it’s almost an unofficial tradition for a schoolchild’s first field trip to be some sort of cider mill or pumpkin patch foray.  Twenty-one years ago, my own kindergarten class did this same thing; fifteen years earlier, my husband’s did, too.  By the time you’re reading this, he’s already gone on his trip.  You’ll probably see the video later this week, actually; I’m trying to blur the dates, just to be on the safe side.  I’m writing this in the past, though (at the beginning of the month, actually), so I may use future tense.

I admit it, I’m kind of nervous.  I’m going to be a chaperone for the trip, which is a bit nerve-wracking.  This will be the first time I’ll see him interact with his class, and I don’t know how I’ll feel if he’s the little hellion I know at home.  At the same time, I’m so excited to watch him run around and play with his little friends, getting cider and donuts and picking out a pumpkin with his friends.  It’ll be so much fun, I hope.

It’ll also be bittersweet, I think.  I wasn’t able to partake in this tradition, myself (my kindergarten year was filled with custody battles, and I was pulled out of my first school within days of entering as part of a power play, and by the time I was put into my second school, my class had already done their trip), and honestly, it was kind of a bummer; most of the kids I knew had pictures or memories from their first field trip, and I didn’t.  Watching my son do this kind of reminds me that I didn’t have a normal childhood.  I was put into kindergarten for literally days, then removed for months, dragged in and out of courthouses to remind my parents that “they” were the ones ruining my life, then moved to a new district and enrolled there, removed from first grade due to a lack of care from the school, and put back into the same school in third grade (before School of Choice was a viable thing), only to move out of the county in fifth grade.  There are a lot of things I missed out on as a kid, some of which was totally unavoidable, and it’s just made me want to give my son as much as I could.

That’s just parenthood, though, isn’t it?  The entire point is giving your child something better than what you had.  My mom & dad tried to do that with me, and now I’m trying to do that with my own son.  Sometimes, it manifests as big things, like growing up in a house instead of an apartment or a trailer, or having two parents who love each other and their families instead of two guardians whispering lies about his parents in order to keep his love to themselves, and sometimes, it’s something small, like a field trip to a pumpkin patch, and those memories.

I know which type I prefer. 🙂

Mom Life: The Most Difficult Parenting Choice

I still remember when I made my most difficult choice as a parent.  It was right after I found out I was pregnant, and it was a decision I should have never had to make; ultimately, it came down to allowing certain people around my son after his birth.  I call it my most difficult decision because, either way, there were going to be people hurt by the choice – including myself, if I was being honest.

The agony went on for days, then weeks, and finally months.  Even after his birth, I still struggled with the decision.  When I finally made my choice, it was like the weight off my shoulders found its way into my stomach.  What if they meant harm?  What if they were harmless?  What if I was paranoid?  What if I wasn’t?  What if…?  What if…?

What if I was wrong?

It was at that moment that I learned something:

Sometimes, as a parent, you’re making choices with loads of research, even if it is technically not professional or peer-reviewed.  Car seats, doctors, breastfeeding or formula, carriers, strollers, bottles, toys, even names are all things we parents meticulously spend time Googling, and with the world at our fingertips now more than ever, it would be stupid not to do so.  Our babies lives are in our hands, those little squishy heads with plates less stable than the San Andreas Fault and a future far more uncertain.  We want what’s best, and we don’t have all the answers, so we look for someone who does, someone who can tell us “This is exactly what you need to do, to have, to buy, to want.”  We know what’s best, we know what’s right, and we choose it.

But sometimes, we can’t do that.

We can’t Google “Should I let certain people around my baby?” and get the same definitive answers as “Should I buy a diamond-encrusted teether?” (No.  Choking hazard), you know?  No one can tell us the outcome of certain choices we make, because it’s impossible to see into the future.  Six years ago, no one would be able to tell me if allowing specific people around my child was perfectly harmless or a recipe for disaster.  No one would be able to tell me if my son would simply have love showered on him by more relatives, or if his entire world would be fractured at some point by people who only saw their own desires.  Do I allow them in, giving my son the same support system I had as a child, or do I keep him at a distance, safe, but irrevocably away from their love?  Do I spend my days wondering what we would be doing if we were still in contact with these people, or do I spend my days in fear, wondering if they are simply gaining evidence to take my baby boy from me?  Do I accept the gifts, the shower of love, the knowledge that my son would have around him more biological family than I ever did, or do I shut them out?  What about me: do I remember the good times with these people, or cower in fear of the bad that may never come?

Ultimately, I made my choice.  I ended all contact with these people, and my husband and I formed a shield for our son, one that extended outward to our other family members.  Warnings were given, letting those not in the know a small taste of the situation, a few signs of what these people may do or say, and what types of responses to give (complete silence).  I lived in fear, terrified that they would show up on doorsteps, at workplaces, at friend’s.  Blocking people on social media became the order of the day, and I was ruthless – family members, friends, friend requests that raised the hair on the back of my neck.

But, with time, my fear subsided.  No contact was made, no interest given.  I realized things about myself and about them.  I stopped looking over my shoulder every time I went to the store.  I openly spoke about my husband and son, using their real names in public conversations.  I’m still cautious, but I’m not paranoid anymore.

I know there are some who will say that I was in the wrong, that no child should be kept from their own flesh and blood, that my son will hate me one day for what I’ve done, that I am selfish and using my son as a pawn.  They are the same people who said something similar to my own parents over twenty years ago.  They are the same people who caused my parents to doubt, to wonder, and to ultimately give in.  They did what they thought was right, even though it didn’t turn out to be the best thing in the long run.  Because of that, I had an incredible resource at my fingertips, one I could not let go to waste, one that was better than Google: experience.

Unlike them, I have that experience to draw on, I have my childhood to look back on.  I have the memories of being pulled in two directions, the lies and the secrets I was told, the disgusting things that were said to me under the guise of “caution”, how easily poison can be dripped into an impressionable ear, how easily bonds can be severed between parent and child.  Unlike them, I went into this knowing what could go wrong, how words and actions could be twisted.  Did I want to put my child through that, purely for the sake of not offending the delicate sensibilities of others?  No.

Because of my parents’ ordeal, I knew that what is best isn’t always right, but it wasn’t until I became a parent that I actually learned it.

The Age of Marriage, Part One: Hers

Hey everyone!  Yesterday on the vlog, I did a Husband Tag video, mainly because you guys have met the Kiddo, but you haven’t really met the Husband.  According to this article, the average age of first marriage in the US during 2012 (when my husband and I were married) was just over 28½ for a man, and just over 26½ for a woman.  At 21, I was about 5 years younger than the national average at the time; my husband, at 37, was almost a full decade older.  I thought it would be kind of a unique experience to talk about the differences my husband and I had just getting married for the first time at such different points in our lives.  Today is my part of the story, and Friday will be my husband’s (which I will type up, otherwise we’ll be lucky to get it before Christmas.  Ladies and gents, I married a Luddite).

So, being married at 21 was kind of weird.  I was among the first of my graduating class to get married, even among those in the military and high school sweetheart-type things.  Most of my friends and former classmates were either in college or out living these awesome adventures, and suddenly I was a wife & mom.  I felt old.

I remember getting ready to get married,  people asked me what I wanted to do for my wedding.  I think, because I was young, people expected I would want something more like a fairytale, Disney-approved shindig?  I honestly don’t know.  I remember one friend of mine trying to convince me to do a wedding binder and buy wedding magazines.  When I’d tell people my mom was the one making most of the decisions for it, it was…weird.  I wouldn’t say that it was “the-air-was-sucked-out-of-the-room” weird, but I definitely noticed a change after I said it.  I definitely think it was unexpected for a bride to not care, especially a young bride who was supposed to have grown up planning her wedding.  That…probably contributed to the rumor that my parents forced me into my marriage, actually.  Oops.

I remember the first time someone actually called me Mrs. MarriedName.  I don’t mean friends or family, people jokingly “trying on” my new last name and reminding me of my new life, or even when I changed my name.  It was right before my 22nd birthday – we’d been married under 6 months, and I was filling out some sort of paperwork and the person took my paperwork and said, “Will that be all, Mrs. MarriedName?”  It was absolutely insane to me, that I was a married woman – just a year before, I’d been wild and free without a care in the world, but everything had changed.

Only for me.  Outside, the world went on, and it left me behind.  Overnight, I became an anti-person, caught in this strange limbo.  I was excluded from hanging out with people, often by accident – they wouldn’t mean to exclude me, but when you can’t make the fourth impromptu after-work happy hour, it’s inevitable that you’ll no longer be invited – but sometimes, it wasn’t accidental.  It was like, by getting married, I’d suddenly aged 50 years.  An attractive guy would walk by and my friends would automatically want to include me in the conversation, only to cut over me with something like, “Oh, sorry, I forgot: you’re married.”  I was married, not dead!  That didn’t matter.  I was too old, too…mature-seeming? for my friends.  I wasn’t mature at all – I was still growing, still trying to figure out my life, but I was in a different stage than most of them and that made it awkward.  I was still me.

At the same time, I was still really young.  People would make comments about “You’re married?  But you’re only 21/22/23!”  I didn’t like joining mom groups or hanging out with women who were older than me but were also moms of young kids, because inevitably they would end up trying to mother me like one of their kids.  Oftentimes, they assumed I wasn’t married, and even if they knew I was married, it was dismissed – after all, everyone knows young marriage doesn’t last, right?  Parents of my high school friends would pity me because I was so young, I shouldn’t be married already, especially if their child wasn’t married or in a relationship.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “But my son/daughter/cousin/niece/friend’s nephew/kid I used to babysit is your age and can’t even remember to [insert whatever menial chore here] – I can’t imagine them being married right now!”  That’s nice.  I’m not them.

It was just really strange.  On one hand, I was taken too seriously, and on the other hand, I wasn’t taken seriously enough.  I was stuck at that point between matron and child, honestly – too old for the party scene, too young to really be a “true” wife & mother figure.  Over the last few years, I’ve grown into my role and accepted the fact that I’m always going to be an “old married woman” – I have a few years on most of my peers.  Some of them have started dating, got engaged, and married in the time that I’ve been married to my husband.  It’s really strange to think about it.

At the same time, I’ve been able to grow up in my marriage.  Marrying an older guy meant I could deal with growing pains and not worry about whether or not my husband would resent that I wasn’t the girl he married – he dealt with the same thing.  Also, marrying an older guy meant that I was really the only one “changing” – my husband had already experienced his 20s and the growth that comes with it.  I think that’s been a lot less stressful for me and my marriage, versus marrying a guy my age and both of us growing into very different people, possibly coming to resent one another, and dealing with a divorce before the age of 25 like so many others I know.

Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on marrying young; I should have his version up soon (I can’t promise that it will be up on Friday, as much as I’d like to, because of his work schedule).  Thankd so much for joining me!  Don’t forget to check out the husband tag I posted – and, as always, have a good one.  Bye!

What I’m Learning About Being a Cleaner Person

Hey guys.  This isn’t a vlog-post, obviously, because today’s video is actually me cleaning my pantry, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about over the past few weeks.  You see, if you follow my Instagram or my Youtube, you’ve watched as I tackle spaces in my home, even some that I don’t think are “bad”, and tidy them up completely.

And while I’m still learning, I think I’ve already learned quite a bit.

  • Pick things up.  This is one of those “Well, duh”, but you have to understand – I’m a messy person.  “Pick things up” doesn’t come naturally to me.  Letting things drop on the floor, stepping over piles, ignoring clutter on surfaces – that’s my normal.  I’ve actually had to force myself to make an effort to clean, by either catching myself in the action (“What are you doing that doesn’t go on the floor you put that in the sink right now”) or, if I absolutely must do something else, make a concerted effort to return and clean up once the more important task has been completed.
  • Put things away.  Fold the clothes, don’t just leave them in a basket (or in the dryer!).  Swap out the laundry, don’t just wash the same load 2-3 times (unless it needs it, and some things need it).  Put the food in the pantry, not just on the counter.  Make an effort.
  • Do not cram things.  “Out of sight, out of mind” only applies until the cabinet door/drawer/fridge door/closet door is opened and everything avalanches.  CRAMMED =/= CLEANED, it’s just putting off the inevitable “get rid of things” that I’m trying to avoid by shoving it into whatever available space there is.
  • Do not buy into the sunk-cost fallacy.  Do not worry if Mom will ask about that coat rack thing.  Do not worry if my brother- or sister-in-law will ask about anything they gave me for the Kiddo.  I will not beat myself up for getting rid of something I don’t use, even if it was given to me by someone I love.  There are some things I should keep because they were gifts, like family jewelry, not the 800 coats my mother has given me over the last two years, and yet I only wear a few thicker hoodies because I get easily overheated no matter what the weather.
  • If something doesn’t fit, get rid of it.  If something does fit, but I don’t wear it, get rid of it.  See the coat thing above.
  • I wish I could post something inspirational about learning how to curb an addiction and not buy a specific thing, but I can’t.  It’s books.  Books are my weakness.  I need a library – not just, like, a room, but an actual separate building for all of my books.  Don’t ask me to get rid of them.  I’m not that clean yet.

Anyway, these are just a few small things I’m learning about being a clean person.  I’m not 100% there yet, so I don’t follow these things all the time, but…  I’m trying.  Are you a messy person trying to get clean?   Are you a “reformed” messy person (I put that with quotes because I’m thinking of it a lot like a drinking problem – it’s never really gone, it’s just lying in wait for the moment it can strike again).  Are you a naturally clean or semi-clean person?  HOW DO YOU DO IT?!  What have you learned on your path to cleanliness?