Becoming a mom can make you ugly – really

I was just jarred by a memory that I had long forgotten, probably because the part of my brain that controls self-esteem made me forget it.

In the days and weeks after having a baby, you really can look and feel like crap.  You still look pregnant, even though the baby and all that junk that comes with it (holler if you looked at your placenta and wish you hadn’t) are out.  And you can’t really find clean clothes and remember to brush your teeth, let alone put on makeup.

Eliza was maybe two-months-old, and I had a rare moment to get out by myself and feel like a person, so of course, Greg whisked me away on a romantic date, the kind you see in diamond commercials.  Okay, no really, I went to the grocery store alone.  I started my journey through the aisles, basking in the ability to focus on … whatever the heck I wanted.  Early on, I passed a woman who smiled gently at me, making eye contact, and I didn’t think anything of it.  Then I passed her again somewhere in the middle of the store and she did the same thing again.  It made me wonder if I knew her, and I tried, in my sleep-deprived, round-the-clock nursing and pumping state to conjure up a memory of this person because I was sure my brain was misfiring.  And finally, in the freezer section, it happened a third time.  But this time, she approached me.

Now, let me set the stage by saying I am pretty sure I had changed out of pajamas, grabbed a purse instead of a diaper bag and showered that day.  In my mind, I was not someone in need of a “What Not To Wear” intervention.  So this woman said very gently and sweetly, “May I give you one of my business cards?”

I am being totally honest when I say my first thought was, “This woman thinks I look good and wants me to model for her.”  Remember, I’ve already mentioned I was beyond sleep-deprived, and, of course, on the hormonal roller coaster that is life with a newborn.  I’m sure that visions of grandeur are par for the course, perhaps as a defense mechanism.

So I said, “Sure.”  And she handed me her card, smiled really big, and I walked away.  And then I looked at the card.  She was a Mary Kay consultant.  This woman thought I needed makeup.  She didn’t think I looked good.  She thought I looked like crap.

I was devastated, defeated and disappointed.  This woman had NO IDEA what I had been through, having a child get stuck all up in my junk for 30 hours before flying out like a cannon ball on the third suction attempt and ripping what was two holes into one big gaping mess.  My moment that was making me feel like an individual who had freedom to do normal things like go to the grocery store (on a Saturday night) was stolen from me by a woman who – seriously – was not attractive herself and had on way too much makeup!  (Take THAT!)

Fast forward to now, when thinking about this upcoming weekend brought back the memory.  A friend just started a Mary Kay business and she’s going to “fix me up” on Saturday.  And I’m here to tell you that if you’re in the ugly phase after having a baby, please know that all mothers have been there and it does go away.  I’m not offended by getting made up by a Mary Kay consultant now because I’m in a totally different place.  I can safely say that my body, my brain, and my life seem so much more like my own again.  It just takes a little (or in some cases, a lot of) time.

And of course, having had several good dates with my husband since then has made a difference, even if they didn’t include receiving diamonds.

Breaking out without breaking the budget: creative ways to get me-time

This morning Zach woke himself at 5:40 by pooping.  I changed his diaper, put him back in his crib with a few toys, and told him he needed to give me at least another hour.  By 6:24, he was crying again loudly, so in an effort to keep him from waking up Eliza, I covered his mouth firmly with my hand and stubbornly yet gingerly made my way down the creaking stairs.  I actually sat him on the sun room floor in his hysterical state and yelled at him to stop crying because it was too early for me to deal with it.  Of course, Eliza found her way down the stairs a few minutes later.  This has for some reason been the story of my mornings for about two weeks (since he got the chicken pox).  Well, not the yelling part, but the getting up part.

Needless to say, I need a break.  But I always need a break.  Every parent – working or not – always needs breaks.  I love my job and I love my family, but I have to get away sometimes.  It can be really challenging both financially and emotionally to break out of the house.  But I know I have to find ways to do it.

So, here are three suggestions:

1. Swap babysitting with a friend – I think my mom friends and I talk about this way more than we actually do it, but it really does work.  I’m going to challenge myself to commit to doing this for two date nights a month (so with two friends a month).  On Valentine’s Day, I babysat for a friend with three kids.  I put my own kids to bed, drove over to her house, and from about 7:30 until 9:30, she and her husband had a date night for I’m guessing about $30.  Her two eldest were awake and we just watched a movie and read books and they went to sleep at 8:30.  Then I read a book in the peaceful quietude for an hour.  It was actually a lot more restful than being in my own house.  What’s funny is my friend thanked me profusely, but said how much she felt guilty about having me care for her kids.  How silly is that?  I’ve put lots of my friends who don’t have kids yet to work so Greg and I can get alone time (thanks Jenn, Josh, Amy, Andy, Brandon and Gaby – just to name a few!).  There’s nothing to feel guilty about.  Real friends help each other out – even if that means sitting in your house for you so you don’t have to be there.

2. Start a Mom’s Night Out – Just today, I finally sent out invitations to the neighborhood moms I know for a monthly night out.  I polled everyone for their weeknight availability and we set a standing date and time of 8 p.m. on the third Monday of every month.  There are only two rules – stay under $20 a person and 20 minutes of travel time.  Starting it that late means that kids will be sleeping or close to it when we meet.  We will all rotate the responsibility to plan the event, and I’m sure we’ll do late dinners out, coffee shop meetings, and the like, but even doing chick flick nights or manis and pedis in someone’s home would be enough of a break.

3. Share babysitters – It’s a lot of fun to get together with moms during the day while your kids play with a babysitter.  You can do this pretty inexpensively and possibly even find a mother’s helper who is home-schooled or can come over after school.  My friend, Tracy, organizes bi-weekly meetings like this at her house where we drink tea and (in theory) knit.  I LOVE these.  We all pitch in for the babysitter and rotate bringing snacks.

If you have a great idea of how you balance your budget with your need to get away, post it here in the comments section!  I’ll probably read what you write sometime around 5 or 6 tomorrow morning – unless Zach decides to have some mercy on my tired soul.

I really can’t even pee in peace.

As a mother of two children younger than two, I find that many days I can’t even pee in peace. (In fact, sometimes I end up holding it far too long for the right moment when my 22-month-old daughter, Eliza, won’t try to shove something into my 6-month-old son, Zach’s mouth; I am convinced I will be in Depends in my 50s, and I will blame it on my children. But I digress … )

This blog is going to be about sharing successes, failures, and tips – from me to you and you to me. I know I am not the only at-home mother living in madness on this block. Before I became a mom, and then one who quit her job to stay home (wait a minute, why did I do that again?), I had my good days and bad days at work. But my life was my own. I made most of my decisions based on what I wanted to do. Things completely changed, and I know everyone warns you they will, but there is really no way to prepare for motherhood. Especially if you are a Type-A personality whose:

– idea of chaos was not having the laundry caught up (LOL!);

– concept of lack of sleep was based on going to bed at midnight and having to get up before 7; and

– idea of “put-together” changed overnight from having a pedicure, makeup applied, nice clothes, strapless bras, and 3-inch heels (I don’t know how anyone finds anything taller than that comfortable) to feeling pretty decent if I’ve managed to brush my teeth, get a shower and change out of my pajamas.

I could go on and on. But I won’t. (At least not in this first post.) I hope that if you visit, you will be affirmed, inspired, and perhaps learn or share something.  But I must go – BOTH kids are napping at the same time (hallelujah!) and nature calls!!