Well…if you are doing it right (trying your best), it is ANYTHING BUT easy…Mommin’ is also the most rewarding, yet physically and emotionally taxing role on the planet. It makes no sense and it does not come with a manual to help us navigate through all of the crazy situations that arise. It is an all day, every day, never ending job that I have no room to complain about because I SIGNED UP FOR IT. So, I choose to fasten my seat belt and prepare for the bumpiest ride of my life…
Just as I mentioned in my last post, I do not claim to be an expert in any of the areas I decide to write about. BUT, I do have experience raising two small humans and I would like to think that I’m a pretty solid mama bear. With that said, if being a good mom is measured by how many bumps one has had to face, give me an award…I’ve earned it…we all have.
From the minute I decided to express my feelings about parenting in a post, I have to admit I have spent a major amount of time staring at my computer, struggling to find the right words…deleting, rewording, cutting and pasting…This is such a sensitive and emotional topic for me personally, which sends my thoughts into a tailspin that will not slow down long enough for me to organize them into a coherent post. Just as I do with everything else in my life, I will try my best…here goes nothing.
***Disclaimer*** I realize that I use the word “struggle” a lot. That got me thinking…I want to be very clear that I am using this as a relative term. Everyone handles “struggles” differently. I am very, very aware that what I view as “struggling” may be trivial compared to that of others…with that said though, they are very real to me…The last thing I would want is for someone to read this and feel worse because their “struggle” is much greater than what I describe and feel like I don’t understand or appreciate my situation (or theirs). I have learned that you never know how you would handle any given situation until you are actually in it.
From that first day that Jason and I met on March 14, 2005 until our first daughter, Corinne, was born, we had been inseparable…I mean like disgustingly attached at the hip, complete with little pet names (we still have those), annoying everyone around us, the whole nine yards. Then, our 8 lb 1 oz Gogo girl showed up and nestled herself right smack dab in the middle of our love affair…RUDE…just kidding! Just like that, our relationship changed. This little helpless being needed both of us. We didn’t have as much time for each other anymore. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely NOT! Is it difficult to adjust when a life changing event such as having a child happens? YES! We were no exception…While I was so very happy to bring my sweet girl home, the adjustment was anything but seamless. Keeping in mind, our closest family member is 8 hours away, so we were (and still are) on our own until my mom came and helped out a few days later. I can remember the day after we got home, Jason came strolling down the stairs dressed in his gym clothes and told me he was going to the gym. Umm, what do you think you are doing, bro? You are not seriously going to leave me here with a newborn and jet off like our world has not been rocked, are you? Think again, dude…(I am pretty sure the name I chose to address him with was not a friendly pet name either). Needless to say, he went to the gym (looking back, I’m proud of his decision)…
Yes, I was tired…but, so was Jason. Yes, I was scared…so was he, but we were handling this situation in different ways. Jason was not doing anything wrong by going to the gym. He was actually doing the right thing by carrying on with life as usual. I chose to let it stop me in my tracks…actually, it was not my choice at all. It was postpartum depression…major postpartum depression. I used to be super embarrassed to admit that I had it because no one ever told me how hard and stressful having a baby would be. All I had to base my feelings on were social media posts of all of these happy moms, smiling, going out to dinner with their two-week old baby, while I’m sitting over here like, “I don’t even want visitors (I was that mom that put a note on the door daring you to even think about ringing my doorbell)…they will give my baby germs…maybe the hospital will let me have some of that extra potent hand sanitizer to take home…please don’t drop her…I will never be able to read a book again…what the hell have we done…can I get a redo?” This is one of the major reasons I chose to write a blog because I know there are people out there who go through the same stuff in silence…I hope to open the doors to conversation!
To be completely honest, I was not truly happy being a mom until Cori was 6 months old. I am that mom that lost herself throughout the infancy stage. I was scared 100% of the day and straight through the night. Fear of failing as her mother consumed me and made me second guess my every move. I could not take my eyes off of her. In my mind, no one knew what she needed but me, and I wasn’t even completely sure what she needed…The sight of a baby monitor was enough to get my heart racing. Does that mean that I did not want to be a mom? That I didn’t love my girl something fierce? Of course not. So many moms right now are going through the same thing and are not educated on postpartum depression. Either that, or they are too embarrassed to reach out for help. Trust me when I say that you cannot beat it on your own. Please reach out to someone. Deep down somewhere inside me, I know that I am one of the strongest chicks on the planet, but I could not beat it without the help of doctors, friends, and most importantly, MY HUSBAND. So, yes, everything changed when we had our first child. There were plenty of times where I told Jason that “she needs me, you want me.” Gosh, I was so wrong and I wish with all my heart I could take it back. He needed me then more than ever, but I could barely help myself. He was going through changes as well.
After navigating through the first 6 months of parenthood together, we were changed for the better because we had to struggle…we had to figure it out TOGETHER… We got through more than just having to decide where to go to dinner or what movie we should see. We got through one of life’s biggest changes and came out stronger than ever. Our experience with our first daughter could have scared us enough to only have one child, but we chose to use what we learned to be proactive about my feelings and prepare for another emotional roller coaster when we had our little spitfire, Abbie Cate. Thank God we took our chances, for now we have not one, but two beautiful girls. Beauty in the struggle: I was actually able to enjoy the infant stage with AC because I learned from my mistakes. I had a plan in place just in case I experienced postpartum depression a second time.
I have a handful of friends that express fear of having a baby because of postpartum depression, knowing that they are prone to some degree of anxiety or depression already and may even take medication to treat these conditions. I encourage all of them to not let fear get in the way of one of life’s greatest gifts. I will say the same to you…If you have a doctor you trust, talk with them about medication during pregnancy. Trust me, I did not eat lunch meat, soft cheese, hot dogs, or do anything else from the moment we decided to even TRY for a child, but I did take medication for anxiety for the first 7 months of pregnancy with both girls. It is a risk-benefit situation and there are plenty of medications that are safe to take…if you are a nervous wreck throughout the pregnancy, that is surely not good for your baby, so I chose to trust…Do not let fear steal your joy…be proactive, get things in place, talk to others about your feelings. Above all, it will be okay.
So long, infant stage…I remember constantly thinking, “once they can sit up, it will be easier”, followed by “when they start walking, I will have more time to do stuff.” Wow, wrong again, Gogolinski. Each stage of child rearing brings different joys, experiences, and CHALLENGES. Let me give you just a peek into how we lived our lives with our first born. Anyone who hung around with us knows good and well we were a well-oiled machine, scheduled to the max, and could not be convinced to raise our girl any other way.
Whoever said that you cannot put a newborn on a schedule has never met Jason and Nicole Gogo. We were so militant with her schedule it was insane, but man, did it work!!!! It worked because we were both on the same page as husband and wife. We would not let her eat unless it was at least 3 1/2 hours after her last feeding, which meant keeping her content while we pulled our hair out listening to her howling. When she would wake up at night, we did not take her out of her room. There was no chance we would turn the light on…We sat by the night light so she wouldn’t think it was time to party at 3am. No matter what we had planned, we were home by 7pm to get her in bed….as a NEWBORN…good grannies…no…we never heated up a bottle…we were firm in our belief that it needs to be room temperature so that we could prepare the night bottles ahead of time, keep them in the upstairs laundry room, dump the formula in, all while basically sleepwalking the entire time. While this worked most of the time, there were those days/nights that I just couldn’t believe Cori would not fall in line with the idea that if we do A, she will do B…how inconsiderate of her…
My whole point of telling you this is to show you that this worked for us, but it’s not for everyone. It is to show you that even though we looked like we had it together the whole time, it came at a cost…our method was way too rigid. It is to make you laugh and realize that you aren’t so crazy after all. So many well meaning people will give you advice (this is different from discussing what worked for them in conversation), only to leave you with feelings of inadequacy and confusion. Just be gracious, smile and nod, go home and tell your husband how clueless those people are 🙂 Do what is best for YOUR family. We do lots of things that others do not agree with in terms of parenting and that’s okay. I just know that we do what works for the four of us…Above all, it goes by too fast. I would give anything to turn back time and do it again…
Here We Are
Cori and Abbie Cate (AC) are now 8 and 6 years old. We have been blessed with two well-rounded, smart, and generally happy girls. It has taken hard work, consistency, and team work. My hat goes of to those of you that have to do it on your own for whatever reason. I could not do it. The pressure of raising children in this world we live in is nothing short of terrifying. Kids are exposed to so much more than we ever were (I just made myself sound very old). I blame a large portion of this problem on the state of our economy. If you think about it, it makes sense. So many people are struggling financially…more dual income families, longer work hours, multiple jobs to make ends meet, less supervision…more tired parents unable to give their children the attention they deserve. I get it that people are so overwhelmed just trying to keep afloat. This is where the dreaded technology comes in…kids are literally left to their own “devices.” I find it absolutely bizarre that I have to explain to my eight year old why she cannot have a phone. What? Nonsense…I had my first dang pager in college and when I came home, my mom and dad made me put it on their nightstand (not a minute later than my midnight curfew). I get that I am pictured next to the word “overprotective” in the dictionary…but it is a scary world people. Technology rules that scary world. We go out to dinner and look around at all of these children (and parents) on their devices and a feeling of frustration, sadness, and confusion comes over us. When we went out to dinner as kids, it was special…we talked to our parents about life…where did that go? For now, we just have to continue telling our kids that just because those people are allowed to do certain things doesn’t mean they can. Guess what I am also aware of? My kids are allowed to do things and say things that other’s feel are inappropriate…I am okay with that…I am not judging you and I am not concerned if you are judging me. Again, it works for US…technology works for some families and that is totally cool, more power to you. I am just expressing MY feelings about MY family.
Jason and I reflect on our parenting daily…it always comes back to the fact that parenting our children well is even harder because it is easy to fall into the trap of appeasing them to keep them quiet, content, and manageable. Nothing good comes from that…it is a band-aid, a temporary fix. I try to tell myself that it is not easy because we are doing it right by sticking to what we expect from our children. It makes it that much harder when they are too young to fully understand your rationale for doing certain things and just think you are not as nice as other moms. Do not get me wrong…there are some days that I say “yes” to something only to get a minute of peace and avoid a meltdown…I am guilty of going through Walmart promising candy at the checkout if they stop fighting with each other. No one is perfect. I do not claim to be…But I sure as heck try.
Both of the above quotes really hit me. There is so much truth in them no matter what parenting style you choose. I can tell you that my mom and dad had to deal with their fair share of feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, and disrespected because my brother and I did not always like their rules, but they had the end goal in mind…to raise respectful, responsible, independent children. They were so consistent and I doubt they ever did something just so we would hush up…they fought through it and stuck to their beliefs. I cannot tell you how many times I screamed at my mother and father over what I thought was “unfair”. There are so many things I wish I could take back. I can tell you that the reward for them has been so much bigger than the struggle because we understand now that we are adults…my brother and I only hope to raise our children the way my parents raised us! That is the biggest compliment they can get as parents. I am living proof that if you are currently struggling with a rebellious child, stubborn teenager, or the dreaded middle school tween angst, keep strong. They will appreciate ALL of your efforts when they have children of their own and it is oh so worth it…short-term pain, long-term gain!
Ending on a funny note, this little meme made me laugh so hard. It could not be more true. Here’s to many minutes spent locked in the restroom just to get a speck of peace and quiet…