Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the tag “relationships”

I’m Raising Your Boyfriend

When I first had begun my journey of motherhood, I was insanely frustrated by the fact that nobody was brutally honest about how hard parenting is.

1Now, I am pretty flabbergasted by how many people are coming out of the woodwork to talk about how hard parenting is.

I am actually a little pissed that I am not unique in a way.  But, I am also quite comforted to be reminded that I am not completely alone in my troubles.

I have two children:  two amazing, beautiful, kindhearted boys who are, without question, the most important and the  most phenomenal things in my life.  These two are very different and that always amazes me.  They came from the same gene pool.  They live in the same home.  They follow the same routines.  But, they have their own distinct personalities.

My firstborn is a pistol.  He is fiercely, triumphantly, vehemently independent.  He is also brave, gentle, giving, creative, smart and energetic.  But, for the sake of this post, I am just going to focus on the independence for now.

I am very proud that he is a free thinker.  No, seriously:  VERY PROUD.  As an academic myself, I have very high regard for individuals who pave their own ways.  He is an inventor, not a consumer.  He is a leader, not a follower.  That fucking rocks.

This quality made it difficult for me, though, to learn how to effectively parent.  I was really thrown into the deep end of the motherhood pool and left to sink or swim with this little guy.  As a tiny bean, he rarely wanted to do anything I told him to do:  ever.  This was very trying.  And, it was potentially dangerous as many of things I told him to do were merely for his own personal safety.

He is a little older now, though, and he and I have really gotten to know each other well.  I have always loved him with every bit of my being.  But, we are becoming friends now, too.  And, I can’t explain how awesome that is.  If you have a great relationship with your kid, though, you know just what I mean.

My baby is as happy as they come.  He smiles nearly incessantly.  And, he is so freakin’ laid back.  All. The.  Time.  He can’t be shaken (well, unless he has a new tooth coming in or desperately needs a nap).  He pleasantly goes along with just about any request I make of him.  He isn’t a mindless drone, mind you.  He is just so pleased to learn and discover and be shown the ways of the world.  He is excited to see and wonder and experience.

Toddlerhood is really rough.  If you are a parent, I am not really breaking any big news here.

For one child, the toddler period was filled with “No!” and “I don’t WANT to!” and “Aaaaaaagggggggghhhhhhhh!”

For the other the toddler period seems to be filled with “Okay, Mommy!” and “Hee Hee” and lots and lots of snuggling.

I love both of these children.  One is not better than the other.  I don’t wish one is, was, or would be more like the other.

But, wow.  This should be added to the list of Things They Don’t Tell You About Being a Parent: raising a young child is basically starting a brand-new relationship.  You may not be in love at first.  You each may do things that the other doesn’t understand or pisses the other party off to no end.  You may each say some things you don’t mean.  You may feel like walking out.  You may sway from love to frustration and back again many times in a single day.  You may disappoint one another.  And, it may take you both a very long time to really get to know one another deeply.

When you bring a child into a family, you are meeting a new person and starting a new relationship with him or her.  All relationships have rocky spots.  All relationships have peaks and valleys.  This is no different.

messy handsYou may be blessed with the world’s most wonderful child.  He or she may be so “easy,” as parents say.  This often translates to a child who is generally quiet and obedient; a child who sleeps well and loves to try new foods; someone who never embarrasses you in public or has poop squish up her back while you are in line at the grocery store.  You may also be blessed with a “difficult” child.  He is often boisterous, physical, and messy; he has a mind of his own; he doesn’t care what other people think; he may be a pretty big personality.  Either way, you’re still blessed.

The first relationship our children have is with their parents.  Then, hopefully, they will go on to have hundreds of other successful relationships:  with friends, romantic partners, classmates, teachers, coworkers, neighbors, spouses, families and so on.  What we build with our kids follows the same pattern we’ve forged as we might have built any other relationship of our own in the past.  And, how we build our relationships with our kids helps show them the foundation for how they should create interpersonal relationships with others in the future.

This is yet another way in which we might inevitably to something to send them into therapy one day.

Nevertheless, with our best intentions, we move forward, getting to know these little personalities better and better with each passing moment.

The best unlaid plans

GUEST POST by

“Mom of Twins”

You are told, “if you kiss a boy, you will get pregnant.” You go through life doing the right things and following the right path: graduate high school, graduate college, get a real job, find a worthy man, marry that worthy man, and then want to start a family.

Well that is pretty much how it happened for us. I always talked about having kids and my husband made me promise to give him a year before we started a family in order to be able to do what we want: spontaneous weekends, dinner parties with friends, and sleeping in! Well, that year went by and (actually it was three years) then my husband came to me and said he was ready.

Hmmmm. I wasn’t sure I was ready.

I liked the life we had built. So we let another year or so go by. So now we were finally on the same page and we ready to go. Here comes the fun part of having a baby. Ready, set, go……..

We tried and tried and tried. Was there something wrong? This started my emotional roller coaster with the standard first step: a magic little pill called Clomid. A few months of this magic pill and still nothing. I think I may have gotten the pills without the magic.

Then the next step was to have a hysterosalpingogram.

A what????

It is a procedure where they shoot dye up your vagina to evaluate if your female parts are open. Yup, mine are all open.

While you are popping drugs and undergoing procedures, people are suggesting you relax, don’t think about it, and it will happen. How could I do that when most mornings I got to pee on a stick to monitor if I was ovulating? It is not as easy as one may think. There is always that morning where the stick starts to change colors, but it doesn’t change all the way. Then you have to make a decision: sex or no sex? Am I ovulating or not? I am indecisive by nature and now I have to make a decision whether or not the color has changed on my stick. What if I make the wrong choice and waste grade A sperm (that has been saved up the last couple of days) and make the wrong decision?

The pills and the magic sticks were the first steps toward our sex lives becoming a job, and this was only the beginning. Of course every time we had to have sex was when I really had no desire or we were exhausted. It became more of a chore and not a spontaneous act between two people who loved each other. That is when we coined the term “quick poke” which was also known as a “QP.” I will admit there were times when after our “QP” I often found myself going to sleep with pillows under my pelvis to help those poor little sperm swim toward my very wanting uterus.

After about two years of scheduled sex, pill popping, and peeing on sticks, I made a conscious decision to switch fertility doctors. This was hard because I really liked my doctor and her staff, but there was something I disagreed with her about. I had a feeling that I had endometriosis and that was a possibility for us not getting pregnant. My doctor felt that it was possible; however she did not believe that if I had endometriosis it would lessen my chances of getting pregnant. I had this “gut” feeling which started the thought of maybe I should switch doctors.

Shortly after meeting with a new fertility specialist, I had laparoscopic surgery for my endometriosis. It turned out that I had a moderately high percent of it. Well OK then….now those little swimmers will be able to finally stick to my uterus. I am all cleaned out and I felt like this could be a new beginning. I bought a new box of sticks and my husband and I got back on the scheduled sex train.

After another three or four months of not getting pregnant with just the usual sex and ovulation sticks, we decided to advance on the “you are not pregnant yet” schematic. Next were the injectables and IUIs. My mind was spinning between what drugs to take, how much of that drug to take, when my appointments were, and of course when we should and should not have sex. But we thought that of course this is going to work now that we are taking my husband’s sperm and “cleaning it up” and turkey basting it into me.

After months and months and a large sum of money (I can’t even think about it) we had our last consult with our doctor. We had a decision whether or not to take our last step on the infertility schematic or go toward a different option and adopt.

When I would get my period, I had a “heads up.” I wouldn’t feel good: I was crampy, and I was eating everything in sight. The hard thing was not getting my period; it was having to tell my husband I got it. Even though I knew it was not my fault, some how I could not help but to feel like I did something wrong, again. At this point I was physically and mentally tapped out. I could not do this any more.

We took a few months off and revised our plan to have a family. We decided we were going to adopt. We felt refreshed because even though this may be a long process, there was going to be a baby at the end. We wanted to do our homework to become more educated. So we went to some open houses at three different adoption agencies. We talked with people and listened to their adoption stories. We were becoming more and more educated about the process and more excited about this different adventure.

Until we were at our last meeting with an adoption counselor and she asked if we ever considered adopting an embryo.

Adopting an embryo? What’s that?

And that is when the spark to get pregnant started all over again. Through this entire process, I always wished that I could go through the process of being pregnant. We figured there is no reason I should have never gotten pregnant. We were always told we both had good “stuff” (sperm and eggs).

We decided to try the one last thing that was recommended. So after months of being off fertility drugs and having an emotional vacation from all the drugs we decided to try IVF. We packed our bags and took a trip to The Cleveland Clinic for our procedure. It was the best experience. They extracted seven viable eggs. The embryologist placed my husband’s grade A sperm and BAM, we had seven embryos. For three days the embryologists would call us and let us know how “they” were progressing and how many cells had divided. Could this possibly work? After those three days, the doctor placed two embryos in my uterus. We had to wait one and half weeks and I went to the doctor for a pregnancy test. My husband surprised me and took the day off from work. I got the phone call from the clinic the next day. We were pregnant.

After all the emotions, the money, and the heartache we have an instant family. We now have beautiful, healthy boy/girl twins. We could not have planned that better.

Last call, y’all

Tomorrow is the deadline to submit a post for our December fertility series.

Please remember that you may remain anonymous if you wish, but these stories-your stories- are important to tell. So many of us have been through struggles with infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy illnesses, birth issues, testing, sterility and a host if other issues related to the process of conception.

I am still hoping to add a few more stories to this series. It would be particularly important to hear from those of you still in this fight, and/or from the men impacted by these issues since these stories are less common to read about. Many of us don’t speak up until after we’ve found peace. Many men don’t talk about their roles in these fights at all, but for men these battles are no less painful to endure.

Please share your thoughts.

Send us a message through our Facebook page or via the Guest Posting page here.

Happy holidays. Thanks for considering working with us!

Life in the Middle

I realized recently that I’d been living — for a long time — in the middle.

Perhaps the opposites of both “happy” and “sad” are, in both cases, numb, lifeless, middlehood.

I have had a job that is okay for about 4 years now.  It’s not good.  It’s not bad.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My days, otherwise, are not active.  They’re not entirely sedentary.  They’re somewhere in the middle.

My clothes, shoes, handbags and other girly things are not extravagant.  They’re not meager.  They’re somewhere in the middle.

I am not too fat.  I am not too skinny.  I am somewhere in the middle

I don’t get to read a whole lot.  Yet, I am not living totally booklessly.  I am somewhere in the middle.

My diet is not healthy.  It is not indulgent.  It is somewhere in the middle.

My weekends aren’t typically spent doing adventurous things.  They’re not spent entirely in front of the TV, either.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My daily work is not terribly engaging.  It’s also not completely boring all of the time.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My home is neither large nor small.  It is somewhere in the middle.

I’ve not fully lived up to my intellectual potential.  I am also not exactly sitting around as an aimless high-school dropout.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I don’t get to spend most of my time with my children.  I don’t see them infrequently, either.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

I’m not a bad cook.  I’m not a great cook, either.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I am sure I am not always the best example for my kids.  I am certain that I am far from the worst.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I don’t wake up each day excited for the possibilities it will bring.  I also don’t wake up and find it terrifying or exhausting to think about getting out of bed.  I am somewhere in the middle.

All of this has left me wondering whether I am really living my life well.  And, if I am not, when do I intend to start doing so?

Perhaps too many of us are afraid to take real risks because with the chance of experiencing very high “highs,” we have to risk experiencing very low “lows,” too.  My old job was like that.  There were tons of hills and valleys.  No — mountains and abysses.  Or, meteoric peaks and vortexes of darkness.

Yet here I am now living a life that is… tepid.

So, I am trying to dig in to my “bucket” list.  It is time to cross some things off, face some fears and start living life as a better me.

None of us gets a second chance, right?  There is but one lifetime for each of us.

I’d like to know what each of you has done lately that demonstrates that you’re living the best life you can live.  I know I am not alone it this middle ground.  Let us all gather strength to conquer a better existence together.

I’ll start:  last month, I faced one of my biggest fears.  I have spent my life absolutely embarrassingly terrified of boats.  I can swim.  I am not afraid of water.  But, I am afraid of getting sucked under an enormous body of water Titanic-style.  And, I am scared of being helpless and stranded away from land and civilization with no control over my whereabouts.  But, I got on a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico in May and set out 5 miles away from shore to lay my godmother to rest in the beautiful waters off of Clearwater, Florida.  Never in a gazillion years would I have imagined that I could do that without becoming hysterical or needing prescription sedatives.  But, I did it.  I didn’t even cry once.  Or rely on pharmaceuticals for an easier go of it.  Now, I am not jumping up excitedly trying to clamor onto another boat anytime soon.  I am not miraculously cured of my baseless fear.  But, I faced it.

How have you made yourself proud lately?  Let us know.  Your comments are always welcome.

Tell us how you’re getting or staying out of the middle.

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