When technology fails, blogging to-do lists must change

I have so few free hours in a day to myself, so I have learned to take the (free) time that I most often spend doing blogging related tasks very seriously .

I’ve learned that the best way that I can avoid spending too many hours on any particular task (i.e. tweeting, writing posts, or reading blogs) is by creating daily blogging “to-do” lists. Yes, as a mom even my hobbies must be resigned to a list.

It’s sad, but very necessary.

And I love crossing things off my lists, and then creating new lists, often long lists to have a “record” by which to measure my daily blogging productivity. It’s an obsession  of mine, a sad but necessary one that comes, I like to tell myself, with motherhood.

This week’s “to-do” list was particularly large. On that very long list of  things to do were small things like writing posts, editing posts, responding to comments, visiting  blogs, editing pictures writing emails, and large things like creating a header and taking the steps needed to officially change blogging platforms.

It was a lot to do, but, I figured that so long as I did everything in the order planned on my list, starting over the weekend and continuing at 6 AM sharp on Monday morning,  I could do it.

So on Sunday night, I went to bed ready, really ready for Monday to come so that I  could get down to continue the unfinished blogging business from the weekend.

And when Monday came, I was really ready. I woke up at 5 AM, showered, ate my  breakfast of champions: Oatmeal with Blueberries, and sat down in my office chair. Yes! “This feels right!” “I’m going to get so much done!”I thought to myself as I turned on my  computer.

I started by working on an overdue post on marriages post-children and then observed,  casually, that my computer only had a 10% charge. Now, this wouldn’t have been a  problem if my computer charger were in “good” condition, but it wasn’t, mostly as the result of it being Nya’s toy for one too many months. 

After weeks of having issues sustaining a charge, I had learned that to use my  charger, I had to twist, turn, blow on it, pray on it for it to work. And, I did all  this, this Monday morning, however, it didn’t work. It (the charger) died (officially pronounced at 7 AM. Yes, I kept at it for 2 hours) and so did my list of oh so
important blogging tasks.

By 7:30 AM, my 10% charge was depleted along with my hope to conquer some of my elephant  to-do list.

I was devastated. I felt as if the world were going to end.

I wanted to cry, and just be miserable the whole day, but I couldn’t. My daughter, who woke up around 8 AM, and my other, unwritten to-do list of laundry, dishes, and  errands wouldn’t let me.

In spite of my disappointment, I had to keep going.

And, keep going, I did.

Instead of editing pictures, tweeting, or editing posts during my daughter’s nap, I took a much needed catnap and managed to write this post by hand (i.e., with paper and pen) when I awoke.

And, I survived, survived much of my day (until my husband returned from work with his computer) without my beloved laptop, my blogging weapon of choice.

And, the sky didn’t fall because I couldn’t check things off my list.

Really.

While very stressed out yesterday morning at the thought of not being able to follow  through with my original plans, it all worked out in the end.

And through the experience, I learned something.

I learned how important it is in life to not allow what’s not working or what’s broken or what’s lost (and this could be anything, a relationship, a job, a charger) to overshadow the things that are. I was reminded of how important it is to be open to (and receptive of) changed plans, other options, and alternatives. 

My blogging to-do list is still long, but that’s OK. I know that I’ll conquer it in time.

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Anyone else have a blogging to-so list? Has failed technology stood in a way of you accomplishing things on that list? 

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Oh, and until my new charger gets here (and because I refuse to use my smart phone), I’ll be mostly “out-of-commission” during the day. Still, feel free to contact me by email or twitter or through a comment. I’ll be sure to respond as soon as I can.

An experiment in doing it all (I’m a stay at home mom, again)

Before motherhood, I had read much about how to balance it all, or the marriage, children, job, and sexy figure. “It will be tough,” they often said, “but, you can do it. It can be done.”

I guess in choosing to take on “it all,” you could say that I believed them, or the voices that said it could be done.

The stakes, it seemed, of not believing, or not being able to balance it all as a woman in the 21st century appeared too high. So, I gave “it all” a try. I worked a full time job, breastfed, rocked, and burped a child, exercised every other day of the week, and remained married, all evidence that it all was possible.Image result for stay at home mom

“Yes! I did it,” I told myself in the first few weeks of my project of “it all.” “I did it all.”

(sigh)

When times got tough, I stuck it out, convinced that was what any woman who wanted it all would (and should) do. I found “strength” in the images of those celebrity moms who managed it all so easily.

The wrench in my plans of continuing to do it all came soon after my proclamation of “success.”

Fatigue.

I was tired, dead tired.

Doing it all, as I assumed everyone else was doing it, was exhausting. I couldn’t think straight. My skin seemed to show premature signs of aging. I found another gray hair. I sometimes forgot my keys atop my car when taking trips with Nya to Target. Oh, and doing it all was also expensive, what with childcare, convenient foods to save time, and creams to mask those aging eyes.

Despite these inconvenient truths of doing it all, I wanted to continue to prove to myself that if anyone could it, I could. I wanted to set an example for my daughters (and sons). I wanted to know that on my grave someone could engrave “She was the woman who did it all!”

So, I went on until I could no longer fool myself into believing that everything was ok beneath my picture of “having it all.”

No longer fooled, I changed my mind about having it all and gave a big part of my picture of “it all” up, namely my job.

So, I write this in the same place that I started this job as a stay at home mom with a renewed sense of what having it all really means. (sigh)

My statement on being a stay at home mom

It’s one question that used to make me sweat profusely and get all hot and bothered. Asked with an ease and nonchalance, “So, what are you doing now?” The one doing the asking, of course, is employed, my age, and interested in knowing my career status. “What are you doing now?”

(sigh)

For some reason, even writing it out makes me cringe.Image result for My statement on being a stay at home mom

While perfectly OK with being a stay-at-home mom on most days, whenever asked about my career status (or lack thereof) I once got defensive, very defensive. No. I didn’t sound defensive or even look it. I just felt it (or defensive.)

“I’m raising my daughter!” There, is that what you wanted to hear?!? (deep breath)

Of course not.

To most of my twenty-something, college graduate peers on the up-and-up in their careers, the thought of leaving a job to stay home with a child is mostly unfathomable.

I know because I once thought my current life circumstance unfathomable for any woman of “promise.” So, my old thoughts on the matter drove my insecurity in twenty-something settings. If attending a friend’s engagement party, I would wonder, “Will they ask what I do for a living?” “Will there be an awkward silence when I respond honestly.” “Will they somehow think less of me for choosing this path?”

And, there would always be an awkward silence, then tripping over words to cover the silence, words about “daycare being expensive” or something else about it being good that we’re able to afford all that we have on one income or “good for you!”

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Making the decision to be a stay at home mom is tough and was tough for me. Most women, myself included, don’t as young girls, imagine that they will grow up to wipe their children’s butts all day and have to schedule in “lunch times.”  Most women, no, most human beings who have worked in their life find earning an income and receiving favorable performance reviews empowering.

But many women do choose, in becoming mothers, to become stay at home moms, not because they can’t do anything else or because their husband’s put them up to it, but because they’ve decided that they’d rather stay home. And, there’s nothing wrong with that or with mothers who choose to go to work each day. It’s their choice. Both realities are tough and come with their share of sacrifices. Trust me, I know.

In becoming a stay at home mom, I’ve learned these truths, and it is these truths that I’d most like to get stamped on a card or maybe even a flyer that I can then give to anyone who asks what I am doing now. I’m doing what I think is best for me and my family right now. Please, don’t judge me for that.

This is supposed to be a rant from a stay at home mom feeling misunderstood or unappreciated, but it may appear that way and for that, I apologize.

Moms who work inside and outside of the home for pay or not, what do you wish to tell the world about your lived reality as a “working” woman? Please use the comment field to speak your mind to the world.

10 Lessons Learned about Starting Babies on Solids

For today’s edition of Babyology, I thought I’d offer ten lessons/tips that I have learned about starting infants on solids.

1. In the beginning, it takes 15 or so tries of giving a baby a new food before you can definitively know their opinion on it. After three “unsuccessful” tries and pureed sweet potatoes down the drain, I concluded “Oh, she must hate sweet potatoes.” This “truth,” of course, set in my motherhood paranoia and led me down a mental trip of guilt of her one day becoming that “chubby kid” who only ate McDonalds and couldn’t make it up the hill at camp. (sigh). Over time, I realized in giving her the same foods other and other again that it wasn’t that she didn’t like, for instance sweet potatoes. It was just that sweet potatoes and all the other weird veggies that I was giving her were so different from breastmilk. Once she became used to the texture, taste, smell of these veggies, she loved them. Now that she is older, it is much easier to introduce her to new solids.

2. Solids are ok.  I was (and still am) in denial about my daughter’s interest in solids. I have to tell myself often that in her starting solids, it does not mean that she is rejecting me as her “other food source.”

3. Spoons are weird objects to a baby. Can you imagine someone attempting to shove an unfamiliar object into your mouth? (I hope you answered “no” to this one.) Whenever I would give Nya solids in the beginning, she would attempt to wrestle the spoon out of my hand. I would like to say that she was always unsuccessful in her attempts, but, hey, even for a six month old, she is a strong girl with a very good grip. Once I figured out how weird having a spoon in your mouth for the first time could be, I made an effort to first get her used to the idea. When giving solids, I would take out two spoons, one for her to play around with in her mouth and another for me to use to feed. I also randomly gave her spoons throughout the day for her to play with. She now is less interested in grabbing the spoon and understands that spoons are ok to go in the mouth.

4. Do not give solids on carpeted surfaces. I learned this one the hard way. In the beginning, I thought it would be a good idea to just put Nya in her Bumbo seat in our carpeted living room for each meal. By the end of each meal, needless to say, there would be stains, crumbs, spit up in the surrounding area. If you do feed your baby on carpeted surfaces, use a tarp or towel beneath where the baby is sitting.

5. Babies like peas. Peas were the first (and I think only) food that Nya liked on the first try. If you are not having much success with the standard sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, or applesauce, give peas a try.

6. Be prepared for stinkier, thicker poop. I miss the days of Nya’s exclusively breastfed poop. In one of my fondest memories in the beginning of her life were changing her very mustard colored, vanilla cake mix smelling poop. (sigh) I can’t say that her poop rivals that released by my uncle after thanksgiving dinner, but it is definitely more smelly than before. The consistency of her poop has also changed from runny yogurt to thick toothpaste/peanut butter.

7. Your baby will always seem more interested in what you are eating than what they have in their colorful bowls. Even if it is the same thing (albeit pureed beyond recognition from its original form).

8. Water proof plastic bibs are the way to go! I used to used the cloth bibs that you can buy in bulk from Babies R’ Us. That is until I realized, as a result of a “necessary” trip to Target, that some genius had invented an alternative. The plastic bibs are easier to clean and seem to “catch” more food.

9. When using solids to complement nursing, it is easiest to create a flexible schedule for yourself. Before creating a schedule, I could never figure out when to offer solids. I always worried that I was feeding her too much or not enough. I used this schedule by mother-2-mother as my guide and revised it to my liking.

10. Make your own rules! Go with what works for your baby. Don’t worry as much about how things should be.

As Nya matures, I continue to learn more and more solids. She is now eating veggie and fruit-based purees, oatmeal, and cereal but I plan to incorporate more textures and protein.

What lessons have you learned about giving solids? What foods did your children enjoy? 

I should be happy; My daughter’s ready to wean from breastfeeding

I never thought I’d be sitting here at seven in the morning writing a post about my surprisingly intense feelings about weaning my daughter from breastfeeding, but I am.

I never thought I would (or could) feel these feelings or that I would be so sad that in becoming pregnant again my milk supply has nearly diminished, but I do.

Of course, I thought I would be celebrating this time, this time of, what was supposed to be, my renewed “breast and body independence.”

I thought I’d be celebrating that my daughter is ready to step fully into the next chapter of her childhood.

Eating a bowl of cereal

But, I’m not.

I thought this day would be the answer to all of my motherhood problems, or the sleeplessness, the saggy breasts, the constant feeling of being needed.

But, now that I sit here, awoken from a night’s sleep uninterrupted by my daughter’s need for my milk and after a day, a full day, of no nursing, I feel sentimental about the whole thing.

Perhaps she tired, I thought to myself when drinking this morning’s cup of tea, of my little milk and of crying because of that little milk. Or perhaps, and more likely, she was ready to end things.

And, I thought I’d be ready to end things, too. After all, breastfeeding as a pregnant mom was (is) painful (very painful). I only kept own, biting my upper lip and pinching my thumbs to get through the “latch” because I wanted to believe that she wasn’t ready.

I know now that in truth, I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to move on because I was afraid of what moving on would really mean. I was afraid of losing the one tool in my motherhood arsenal that helped my daughter through illnesses, boo-boos, sleeplessness, and tears.

I was afraid of my daughter growing up so quickly and wanted, in continuing breastfeeding, to slow something down, to keep something still.

In spite of my fears, I know that where we are today was inevitable. And, that’s motherhood. The moment you think you can’t take something anymore, you realize that you can and when your child has moved on from that thing you then find yourself trying to “pick up” the pieces to reclaim what once was, but never will be again.

Oh, motherhood, you do mystify me.

Moms: Any words of advice for this sentimental mom? I know that I should be happy about this day, that I couldn’t breastfeed (nor did I want to) my daughter into elementary school, but I just feel very sad about it all. How do you get over feelings of sadness that come with the ending of phases in your child’s development?

Breastfeeding for Weight loss?: What really works

You want to know what I “love”? I “love” it when celebrity moms show up on red carpet events two to three weeks postpartum looking skinny and toned and when asked about how they lost the weight, they pull the “just breastfeeding card.”Really? Let me get this straight, you dropped 50 pounds, managed to get super defined legs and abs in three weeks just by breastfeeding?In pulling the “just breastfeeding card,” these celebrities also make it a big point to say they didn’t do it through their assumed usual ways of, oh, I don’t know eating nothing but fennel soup, detoxing,  and exercising for hours on end.

And, while the breastfeeding advocate in me salivates at their promotion of breastfeeding to mainstream audiences, the formerly breastfeeding mom in me knows that their promotion of breastfeeding as a diet is, at best, well, misleading.

Breastfeeding burns a lot of calories and can lead to weight loss, but, and as the millions of mothers out there who breastfed their children until preschool and are still carrying around their baby weight will very quickly tell you, it doesn’t always work that way. Breastfeeding is not a magic pill (sorry, if I just broke your heart).

I lost all 40+ pounds of my baby weight from my first pregnancy within six months, not three weeks. Breastfeeding was a big part of my weight loss, but it wasn’t the only part. The other parts, or how I used breastfeeding to increase my weight loss postpartum are included below by way of some tips.

Breastfeed your baby on-demand. Breastfeeding can burn between 600- 700 calories a day. In order to best take advantage of it’s natural calorie burning properties, and to keep your baby happy and gaining weight (which are very important) you should always, always feed your baby on cue, or own demand. Scheduled feedings not only limit your natural calorie burning potential but they negatively impact your milk supply, and, thus, your baby’s happiness. hehehehe.

Breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months of your child’s life. When you begin to supplement your baby’s feedings with other things (formula, cereal, etc.), your weight loss potential decreases, mainly because you aren’t burning as many calories as before. Exclusive breastfeeding has other great benefits to your baby, too, like a decreased risk of infections, food allergies, etc.

Eat lots of proteins and complex carbohydrates. Breastfeeding hunger is an ugly, ugly monster with two heads and bad breath. It’s a monster that will roar all day long unless tamed with good foods like lean meats, legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and veggies.  While pizza buffets and Doritos are OK sometime, you’ll find that in eating these things, you’ll be hungrier sooner and have only more love handles to show for it. Really.

Eat when you are hungry. When you are breastfeeding, it is not the time to skip meals or diet. Doing so only increases the toxicity levels in your milk and will cause your body to hold on to the fat that it thinks it needs in order to make breastfeeding possible. The key is to eat when you are hungry, not bored or tired or stressed (emotions which happen often in motherhood), but when you are genuinely hungry.

Eat more at the front end of your day, rather than the back end. A reader and dear friend, Lucy of the blog Lucille in the Sky, suggested this to me in a comment on this blog. And, boy am I thankful that she did. By eating more for breakfast and lunch and making wise snacking choices during the day, I was less hungry by night when my body naturally began burning less calories.

Do moderate exercise (cardio and strength training). I know what you’re thinking, “What the— But, I don’t have the time!” But, oh, you do. You just have to decide to make the time. I thought I didn’t have time either, until I figured out how to exercise with my baby. I would walk in the morning, or if the weather was bad, I would turn on Exercise TV, strap my daughter in a Moby Wrap, and do an at-home walking workout that I would highly recommend by Leslie Samsone. Walking alone helped me in the first four months to lose 90% of my baby weight. The final 10% or 10 pounds, well, they were stubborn. To get rid of them, I had to add a strength training regimen into the mix. I was (and still am) too cheap to buy a gym membership, so again I did a workout (every other day) on Exercise TV called 10 pound slim down by Chris Freytag. It’s a 30-day program that works.

Drink lots and lots of water. Hydrating yourself while breastfeeding is important, not just for weight loss but for a lot more. When I was breastfeeding, I aimed to drink at least 8 glasses of water.

Get lots of sleep (when you can). As hard as it was, I eventually had to give into the idea of sleeping while my baby slept. It was really the only way. Co-sleeping with my baby also saved me from having to deal with all the night wakings.

Don’t stress. Most people eat more when stressed because stress produces “protective” hormones in your body (Cortisol and Adrenaline) that cause you to feel, over time, very hungry.  As a mom (breastfeeding or not), you should make it a priority to de-stress in the best way you know how (of course, other than eating).

Don’t focus on the scale. The scale is not always your friend when you are breastfeeding. It may, even with all these changes, show the same number over and over and over again, even though you know by looking in the mirror that you’ve lost weight. It is for this reason that rather than focusing on numbers, focus on how your clothes are fitting. The numbers will fix themselves, usually, when you wean your baby.

Enjoy breastfeeding. This is the most important tip! I’ve seen the forums of moms pumping x amount of milk a day (beyond what their baby needs) in order to accelerate their weight loss. And, while I respect that approach, in my opinion, there’s more to be gained by taking the more traditional approach of feeding-your-baby-when-he’s-hungry. Rather than focusing on how to use breastfeeding to lose weight, it helps to focus on feeding and nourishing your baby and taking care of yourself. By doing these things, you will lose the weight in time. Really. Just be patient and enjoy breastfeeding your baby.

Moms: Did you lose weight through breastfeeding? Please do share your experiences with other readers. Any tips that you can add? What do you think of celebrity moms’ promotion of breastfeeding for weight loss?

The toddler update-y post

I realized in reading over some older posts that I haven’t done any toddler update-y types of posts in the past months for my sweet little cherub. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What kind of blogger (who identities at times with the online collective of mommy bloggers) are you?” I know.

Rather than writing much about her, I’ve been writing about myself, mainly because it seems more right (more safe?) for me to talk about myself and my perceptions of motherhood and parenting for better and worse and not specifically my sweet, innocent child, who may one day come to resent me for it (but I digress).

Besides all this, my daughter has been so sweet, or rather life has been so sweet these past months with her, so much easier, it seems, than before. And, sweet children who are seen through rose colored lenses by their dear mothers do not make for entertaining mommy blogging, or so I once thought.

She’s been sweet, mostly. And, I say mostly to not give the false impression that we have not, in all of her sixteen months of old age had to deal with tantrums, picky eating, mama face slapping, biting, attempts to throw herself out of her crib, head butts, and, you know,  (ahem) all of the other nonsense that comes along with toddlerhood, because we have.

Trust me.

We have.

It’s just that so often those moments are overshadowed but other, more sweet moments:

Communicating with the world. 

This month, Nya has been communicating more and more. Along with signing more (which has come easier in her older age), she has developed her own language, a language that I call toddler-ese. She speaks when “reading” a book in the privacy of her room while I do laundry in the room over or when attempting to tell me or daddy that she wants something. Ba-gee, ba-gee, ba-gee. For more cow’s milk, she signs for milk and says “na-na,” which I only recently realized is the same word that she uses when pointing to my mama’s “num-nums.”

Running away. 

Nya went, very quickly, from walking to running…away from me. She puts her hands in the air when she runs and takes heavy, flat-footed steps as if in full, unapologetic command of her new world. She still will rarely choose to hold my hand in public, except of course when she approaches uneven pavements. Then, she, knowing that I’m close by will discretely put her hand out for me to hold, and as soon as she’s made it over the adverse pavement, she’ll let go. Just like that.

Sleep is a good thing. 

Sleep. It’s long been a challenge for she and, mostly, I since the beginning, but things are improving. Thankfully. She’s still independent sleeping and will often sleep through the night. But sometimes, she’ll awaken for water or because her tummy hurts, and when the latter happens after 5 am, we’ll co-sleep.  It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, and I still enjoy it, if only on occasion. For independent sleeping, she sleeps in her crib but that may need to change soon as she can now lift one leg over the ledge. Yes. It’s almost time.

Bedtimes have also been easier in the past week. Sticking to a more consistent routine, I know, has helped with this, but sticking with a more consistent routine is tough sometimes. But, we’re doing our best in spite.  She has more consistently been going to sleep at 8 PM and waking at 8 AM.

Food is good for you. 
Nya is eating better this month. Thankfully. She’s been eating more veggies and proteins, and drinking more and more cow’s milk which has been great both for me and for her traditionally slower weight gain. Of course, however, she still has her moments where the only thing she wants to eat is oatmeal, but we get through it.

16 months is filled with easy and tough times.

When it’s an easy time or a tough time that in hindsight proves to be anything but, I just sit back and enjoy it, thinking I hope to remember this one day from now.  Sometimes, when easy times prove picture worthy and a camera is nearby, I will take a picture, but sometimes when the moment is too good, I may not.

I’ve been mostly taking pictures of those moments of her childhood but not writing about them as much, which must change. Writing, after all, is my way to record these things, so record I must, lest I forget something not captured in the impressions on our faces in the pictures taken.

I’ll try to keep up with these update-y posts monthly, I think.

We’ll see.

Moms who blog: How do you keep things balanced in talking about your kids on your blog? How do you try to respect their rights to an offline existence? Anyone have (and maintain) a journal, baby book or something else for that purpose? Am I the only one who feels conflicted about this?

It’s OK to Look it Up in My Gut Instead of a Book

Melody, today’s guest post author is a new mom to a very cute four month old and very dear friend (met through a google search that led her to this blog).  She’s not yet a blogger, but she is a fabulous mom, wife, educator, and writer. Here, she shares the secret, that she learned early on, of how to be a better mom: trusting your gut. Enjoy!

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That’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, “I did look it up, and that’s not true.” That’s ‘cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that’s how our nervous system works.    -Stephen Colbert, White House Correspondents’ Dinner, 2006

Of course, Stephen Colbert’s logic doesn’t work with facts, but it’s become an incredibly useful mantra for me as a new parent. My daughter just turned 4 months old. I prepared for her arrival by reading lots of books about pregnancy, birth, infant care, and even stuff about the toddler years, just for good measure. What I should have spent more time figuring out was how to look stuff up in my gut.

So I read all these books looking for what’s “normal” about sleep, feeding, illnesses, development—you name it. Because I was nervous and eager to learn how to be a good mom, I read everything about what to expect with an infant. Turns out that I read too much about what’s “normal” and so everything my daughter did ended up seeming weird.

She never seemed to fall within any average.

She was never “on time” with her development or her sleep or her milestones.

Looking back, of course, I realize I had a perfect baby with an easy disposition that I should have enjoyed more. But at the time, in my haze of fear, anxiety, sleep deprivation, irrational spousal aggravation, and newly shredded self-esteem, I was convinced that my daughter was off the mark, and that it was, of course, my fault. Deep down, I think I knew she was OK, but I let my head convince me otherwise.

Head v. Gut

When I got pregnant, everyone told me I would feel so in tune with my body, that I would be awash in maternal instincts, that all I had to do was listen to my body and it would know what to do. It sounded so easy that I was confused and beyond frustrated when I couldn’t. Then I realized that women are taught their entire lives not to listen to their bodies, or their inner voice. The lessons are everywhere. Don’t eat, even though you’re hungry. Keep working, even though you’re exhausted. Don’t speak up, even though you’re angry. Don’t tell the truth, because it your feelings aren’t as important as someone else’s. It’s a wonder that by the time we’re adults, we’re left with any gut feelings at all.

But, I’m a woman who’s learning to trust her gut.

Our doctor told us that babies don’t start teething until 6 months. At 4 months, however, B started drooling incessantly, biting everything, fussing, and waking 4 times a night. “I know it’s too early for this, but let’s just see,” I said as I grabbed a teething ring in Target. She chomped away happily, and offering it during a fuss calmed her down. She was teething, and I knew it!

Other than teething, another gut testing challenge of ours is sleep. She naps for maybe 30 minutes at a time and seems tired all the time. To help matters, we’re trying a routine, and it seems to be working. I don’t know precisely why, but it is…working.

Back when I was 7 months pregnant, I met a woman who, in talking about her motherhood challenges, said this: “When I finally decided that I would just look at my kid to figure out what she needed, I discovered that I did know what to do after all.” 

I didn’t realize then how much her words would stick, and how right she was. Over the past few months, I’ve looked at B more, listened to her more. And, as a result, my instincts are getting better.

Of course, they still get challenged all the time by experts and other parents, but mostly by my own insecurities. Nothing like motherhood fills me with such intense contradictions of thought and feeling. Nothing else in the world makes me feel so powerful and so helpless at the same time. I have much to learn about my daughter’s coming months and years. I’ll certainly be checking with books and experts to guide us through. I’ll remember to check with myself too.

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What lessons have you learned (perhaps the hard way) by trusting your gut when it comes to your children, parenting, or motherhood?