Waiting for Shattered Glass

Last night, I drafted the following letter to my toddler. Since she’s too young to remember, I want her to someday understand the significance of this moment in history.

 

Dear Maddie,

My heart is aching. Beyond the obvious political implications and concern for social justice in America, I am grieving lost moments. I had envisioned these scenes so many times, I never stopped to ponder the alternatives.

  • The moment I wake you up and tell you we have a woman president
  • Dressing you in your “Future President” shirt for school today. (Yes, it was only available in the “boys” section”
  • Teaching you to say “Madam President”
  • The moment you would someday realize the first president you remember is a woman

And never having to encourage you that yes, someday, a woman could be the President of the United States.

Last night ended differently and today many are filled with fears: safety, economic security, access to equal opportunity, and many more.

I really don’t know what will happen in the years between now and when you are old enough to read this letter. I do know this:

America and its diverse people have faced obstascles before. Opposition to social justice and fear of the “other” have slowed the nation’s progress before. Yet we have managed to claw forward. Those who are fighting for equality and representation are resilient people. They’ve had no other choice, after all. Promise me you will always be brave and resilient with them. Even when it is really tough, at least try. That’s all bravery is anyway. Promise me you will fight for injustice, act with empathy and integrity, and never ever give up hope.

Use your privileges and your voice to ensure access and end oppression. Work tirelessly to ensure that tomorrow’s America is our best America.

Tonight all I wanted to do is play with you; your energy, your giggles, and your kindness are comforting. While watching Elmo (your current hero), you gifted me with one of the best moments of being a mom.

For the first time, you said, “I love you.” Not just once, but again and again to both Dada and me.

I love you, Maddie, and I can’t wait to someday be with you when we watch that glass ceiling shatter.

Love,

Mama

 

“Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as you can.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton

“The worst thing that can happen in a democracy, as well as an individuals life, is to become cynical about the future and lose hope.” – Hillary Rodham Clinton

Greetings from ATL

After a whirlwind 4 weeks, I am here in Atlanta. You can find a full-length explanation of the move here, but this is a quick recap:

  • B got an exciting new job
  • We put the house up for sale
  • Sold the house
  • Came to Atlanta for a night to look for a house, find a daycare, and for me to have a job interview
  • Bought a house
  • Found a daycare
  • I got the job
  • And a whole bunch else in between

On Wednesday, we finished loading up the trailer, cleaning, and got ready to hit the road. Then we said goodbye to my mom and left. It worked out great to leave around M’s bedtime and stop for the night. M snoozed, B and I could talk, and the pup enjoyed the great Illinois scenery (haha).

Apparently my impressions of LaQuita hotels were wrong. We crashed for the night in the most beautiful, brand-new hotel right off the highway. All of us – 2 adults, toddler, and dog – stayed in a room. After snagging a heaping plate of breakfast items for the road, we were off again by 7:35am!

For those of you contemplating a road trip with a toddler, really think about that choice. M is a wonderful child, but what toddler wants to spend 10 hours strapped in a seat? She pretty much screamed/cried/whined the whole ride, less the 2 1-hour naps. Here’s how I attempted to keep her happy:

  • I sat in the back to play with her.
  • We packed lots of toys and kept rotating new ones in and out
  • She got a special new toy just for the trip – check this out:
  • Cheerios. Goldfish. Repeat.
  • When all else failed, I pretended I was napping so she would try to settle in or at least ignore me 🙂

It was a long, but doable journey, and I only had 1 brief meltdown!

I’m writing this from the beautiful VRBO we are renting for a week. It’s in the heart of the city. We will be here until the trailer arrives with our belongings on Tuesday.

Until next time!

The (former) Accidental Iowan

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bottle

Baby bottle, not booze. Ok, now that we’ve cleared that up, I have a confession:

I didn’t breastfeed.

Did I want to? Sure, but it just didn’t work out that way. There are many reasons why it didn’t work out, and I don’t want to share the gritty details, so here’s a quick list.

  1. She was super stubborn about it from Hour 1.
  2. I had, um, “technical issues”.
  3. Maddie was born Saturday morning and we left the hospital Monday morning. Our hospital doesn’t have a lactation consultant available on the weekend.
  4. Between a newborn, moving, house stuff, and everything else happening it was impossible to dedicate the time and energy to fixing all the problems I was experiencing.

By week 2, I was exclusively pumping. She was gaining weight, I felt physically and emotionally better, and it seemed as though we were hitting a stride. My goal was to pump for 3-6 months and ensure that at least half of what she was getting was breast milk. According to our pediatrician, this was great! Maddie was healthy and thriving!

In mid-June my other half when to a conference for several days. Maddie was six weeks old. I told him everything would be fine, that it would be easy, and refused help from friends because I didn’t want to look weak. Trying to pump with a baby who screamed anytime she wasn’t held was challenging. I even tried multi-tasking – pumping and feeding her simultaneously. That worked until she decided to get hungry in between pump times!

By this point, I was starting to burn out from the pumping/feeding routine. I was bitter that Maddie was sleeping “through the night” while I had to get up to pump. My supply wasn’t increasing. Our morning routine was always hurried and I had to get up way earlier than everyone else. Plus, I wasn’t too crazy about having to take pump breaks at my new job and have my training schedule built around my boobs.

By the time Ben got home, I never wanted to see my pump again. At the same time, I felt like a complete failure: why wouldn’t I want to give my child what’s best? What kind of a mother was I? I’d already failed at breastfeeding and was taking a shorter maternity leave – what was I actually doing right? Mid-June is also when the postpartum depression and intrusive thoughts kicked into high gear.

The day I stopped pumping was liberating.

Ben was super supportive and confessed he was hoping I would concede to formula. He saw what it was doing to me. We headed to Costco and stocked up on Kirkland’s formula ($17.99/can). While the guilt never totally left me, I firmly believe I did what was best for my family. Maddie was meeting her milestones and I felt more in control.

Switching to formula made me a better mom.

I’ve known this all along, but it’s taken me a year to be open about it because of the extreme judgment and guilt. I had friends who had babies around the same time who happily breastfed for a year. I was too embarrassed to tell them I used formula; I even lied about it some times!

The lesson? Do what’s best for you and your family. For me, it was much easier to focus on Maddie,taking care of myself, and being a good mom when I switched to formula.

Why I No Longer Compete with Daycare

I spent an inordinate amount of time titling my last post,  Finding New Partners in Parenting, which chronicled the differences in childcare between Iowa City and Atlanta. Normally titles come easy to me, and I try to follow good blog/SEO title guidelines. Here are some of my brainstorming tricks:

  • Lists
  • Thesaurus
  • Pop culture references
  • Shock value

But nothing was working. I decided to give up and just be generic. It didn’t occur me until after publishing that perhaps not everyone views childcare the same as I do – as partners in parenthood.

There’s so much pressure to be a good parent, especially for mothers. It’s easy to feel guilted, inadequate, and stressed. Whether it’s decisions on vaccines, childcare, feeding, discipline…there’s always someone quick to comment. I know I occasionally have to check myself for defensiveness and sensitivity in this realm; I tend to read too much into what people say. This can also include my daycare provider.

In the infant room, it was common for the daycare providers to tell us about something new Maddie was doing – they saw her crawl, told us she was ready for more formula, etc. I initially felt very guilted and hurt they were seeing these milestones or communicating these changes. To a certain extent, I was internally competing with them to be the expert on my child! Then I realized they are my biggest allies.

These people literally receive professional training on raising children. They know way more about child development, nutrition, discipline, etc. than me (and most new parents). Why wouldn’t I want them in my support circle?!?!

If Maddie is spending just as much time at daycare and she is with us, then I should consider the staff my partners in parenting. It’s impossible for me to notice every little thing, and as a first-time mom, sometimes I don’t even know I should be looking.

I’ve started taking this new approach, and it’s worked wonders. I feel more confident as a parent. Communication lines are two-way; the staff and I make better decisions together. Best of all, Maddie is thriving and is so loved by so many wonderful people!

While it’s easy to feel guilty about working and putting your little one in daycare, just remember, they are experienced partners along with you. They want the best for your child too.

(And unlike unsolicited strangers, they usually aren’t judgmental)

 

Finding New Partners in Parenting

In Iowa City, daycare is in high demand. Like, some people plan conception around when their daycare will have openings. It can take months to find a center with an opening at the right time for your baby. OR, you can find one with an opening earlier and pay the monthly tuition to hold the spot. Which brings me to my next point, tuition.

The cost of childcare runs anywhere from $600-$1200 per month around here. From my experience, in-home averages around $650-700 for an infant. Daycare centers around right around the $1000 mark – I currently pay $965/month.

After my experience here, you can imagine I was a little reluctant to launch another childcare search in Atlanta! An hour, a dozen phone calls, and 2 spreadsheets later, I was pleasantly relieved.

Child care in Atlanta (or the suburbs) is CHEAP. Every center I talked to was under $650/month. Center, not in-home! And most had openings for Toddler 1!

After my initial shock wore off, I started to get suspicious:

  • Is the quality lower?
  • Will Maddie receive the same level of care from the teachers?
  • Are the facilities up to par?
  • What curricula do they use?

A week later, (most of) my worries were eased. We toured a center that was so wonderful! It was like a mini elementary school. Very structured classrooms and curriculum, bulletin boards, circle time, snack tables. I was in awe of the teachers’ ability to command her classroom while staying approachable to each kiddo; who else could get 9 1-year-olds to sit still at a table waiting for their afternoon Goldfish?!

The best part? $580/mo.