The Blog You’ll Never Read

In my childless days before Oliver, I felt like I never had enough time to get it all done. Between work, the drudgery and obligations of every day life, and spending time with family and friends, my schedule was always packed. When Oliver was born and I suddenly found myself knee-deep in diaper changes and marathon feeding sessions,  I couldn’t imagine how I ever felt busy before. How much time I must have wasted, I thought. Watching television, spontaneous lunch dates with friends, lounging on the couch all afternoon in my pajamas—those were frivolities I could only dream of. If only I had the luxury of that kind of free-time in my new mother-of-one life.

Then I had another kid.

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If caring for one little being feels like a climbing Mt. Everest kind of feat, imagine strapping a twenty pound weight to each leg and keep going. That is life with two kids. Now I laugh when I think about how busy, how all-consuming caring for one child felt. I marvel at how I could ever feel stressed or pressed for time. This mother-of-two thing, this is hectic. Not only do I have to do so many of the things that made my pre-baby days feel busy, I now have to do it with two kids in tow. It can be overwhelming on a good day, panic-inducing on a bad. Simultaneously nursing a baby, cooking dinner, and reading Spot Goes to the Beach with your toddler—that requires some serious multitasking skills.

When you have two kids finding time to do anything for yourself becomes a challenge. A minute here. A minute there. Seconds carved out between feedings and naps and building Lego towers, all strung together into a few precious hours a week. That time is sacred. It’s essential. It helps to create an identity outside of “mom;” it adds definition and layers to a life that can feel very one-dimensional at times.

Knowing this will help you understand the story I am about to tell. Let’s call it “The Only Time I’ve Been Reduced to Tears Since Having Two Kids.” Or maybe “Sleep Deprivation and Hormones: The Perfect Recipe for Sweating the Small Stuff.”

This story is about a blog—one that you will never read. I wrote it last week, or more accurately, I wrote it over the last eight weeks in one or two sentence increments. Sometimes I wrote at night after both kids were asleep. Other times I wrote while nursing Parker in the carrier while Oliver played in the other room.  On the rare occasion when both Oliver and Parker would nap at the same time I’d tip-toe into the kitchen, open my computer and see how many sentences I could churn out before Parker woke up and decided the only acceptable place to nap is in mommy’s swaying arms.

After eight weeks of mini-writing sessions, I finally finished the blog. “I can have it all!” I chanted enthusiastically as I danced around my kitchen, arms fist pumping into the air. I can balance two kids with all the other responsibilities of a stay at home mom and still find time to pursue my passions. It might not be easy, but it is possible. I closed the computer, planning on doing a final read-through later that night before posting.

But my computer had other plans for that blog.

During a routine, automatic update, the blog disappeared. Poof. Gone. Vanished into thin air. I stared at my blank screen, bleary-eyed and on the verge of post-pregnancy hormonal tears, willing the auto-recovery to work. When it didn’t I called my on-call tech support husband and begged him to work his voodoo computer magic. When that didn’t work I resorted to less rational tactics—relentlessly tapping the keyboard, restarting countless times, blowing into various ports hoping to dislodge some evil, blog erasing dust. Nothing. The blog was simply gone.

I started to cry—big, ugly tears that were equal parts sadness and pity. It’s not a big deal, I told myself. It’s just a blog. You can write another one. But like most people on a downward spiral fueled by hormones and lack of sleep the irrational part of my brain took over. All that hard work for nothing, it screamed. All of your “me time,” wasted on something that won’t amount to anything. It’s not fair! (Note: nothing is ever fair to the irrational part of the brain).

I took a couple big breaths, paced the room and stomped around angrily like a toddler on the verge of a meltdown. I let out a big, loud, guttural groan.

“Mommy, what are you doing?” Oliver asked, looking up from the picture he was painting on the table.

I stopped in my tracks, my cheeks turning pink from embarrassment. In my frustration I forgot Oliver was sitting front row and center to my mini fit. I realized I could either lie or use this as a teaching moment.

“I’m mad right now because my special story I wrote is all gone. Sometimes when I’m mad I scream to let the anger out, then I take a deep breath and talk about it.” I gave myself a congratulatory pat on the back for my imagined parenting win.

Oliver stared blankly—a cricket chirp inducing stare. Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. And back to coloring he went. I moved on to the growing pile of dishes.

Five minutes later, my hands immersed in soapy water, Oliver came up to me wielding a pink sheet of construction paper.

“I write you a story,” he said, proudly presenting his scribbled paper. I took the paper, feeling tears welling behind my eyes again.

“Will you read it to me?” I asked. “What does it say?”

Oliver looked at me contemplatively, smiled really big and yelled, “poop!” He laughed. I laughed. I wiped away a stray tear and gave him a hug, marveling at how far my arms had to stretch to reach around my no longer little baby. It was a very real reminder of just how fleeting this phase of motherhood is—how, by the time I stopped to note how quickly these first two years passed, they were already gone. And it got me thinking.

Yes, motherhood is stressful, hectic, and overwhelming, especially with two. At times it truly does feel like I can’t possibly handle anymore, like “me time” is my one life-line to sanity in a never-ending cycle of diaper changes and crying spells and sleepless nights. For most parents who are lost in the haze of the baby stage it feels like it will never end. But it does, often without us noticing. Oliver is proof enough of that. One day all too soon that completely dependent baby will turn into a toddler who is capable of independent play, a toddler who can feed himself, walk on his own two feet, a toddler who needs his mommy just a little bit less than he did before. Life will once again settle into a predictable pattern and from that pattern, free-time will emerge. Maybe it’s not as abundant as before, but it’s there, a few hours of calm in the midst of the chaos.

Yes, losing my blog was unfortunate, but it’s not as tragic as it initially felt; it’s not a moment really worth my tears. There will be time for writing in the not so distant future, in a time when both my babies don’t need me as intensely as they do now. And it’s in that moment, when I’m alone with my computer and the thoughts in my head that I’ll finally understand that the moments really worth crying over are the ones lost because I didn’t realize how precious they were until they’re gone.

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What NOT to Say

You said what?!

You said what?!

I’ve been seeing a lot of parenting and pregnancy related lists showing up in my Facebook newsfeed lately. Most center on what NOT to say.

Top ten things NOT to say to a pregnant woman. Top ten things NOT to say to adoptive parents. To a woman with multiple kids. To the parents of an autistic child. To someone dealing with infertility. To the woman who pushes her Chihuahua around in a baby carrier pretending he is a human baby.

Okay, so that last one I made up. I’ve yet to see that list, but I’m sure if I search the internet hard enough, it’s out there, lurking in some obscure corner along with all the other articles that let me know just how easy it is to royally tick someone off.

After reading through many of them, I’m convinced that a master list needs to be made for those who don’t have the time to read hundreds of Dos and Don’ts. If I made that list it would look something like this.

Number One Thing Never to Say to Anyone

1. Hello

Reading all these lists, I’m starting to feel like the only way I can avoid saying something that someone won’t like, is to say nothing at all.  It’s a spin on the old advice “If you can’t say anything nice.” Now it’s, “You can’t say anything nice, so don’t bother trying to say anything at all.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about trying to be sensitive to another person’s feelings. If someone expresses to me that something I say or do makes them uncomfortable, I will stop, even if I don’t understand the discomfort. If you are one of the pregnant women who, according to the Top Ten list, hates for people to ask her how she is feeling, I will not ask you how you are feeling next time I see you, whether you look like you’re about to keel over from third trimester exhaustion or not. Or let’s say you’re one of the women with multiple kids who hates to be told “I could never do that,” I will politely pick my jaw off the ground and keep my opinions about your super-human status to myself.

But what I fear will happen, the more I see these popping up in my newsfeed, is that eventually people will be so worried about saying something offensive that they won’t bother trying to say anything at all. They’ll stop trying to make new connections with people.

As a stay-at-home mom who spends 75% of her time with a toddler, I often feel isolated from the adult world. Many days the only conversation I have with another adult before my husband gets home is the casual conversation I have with the pregnant woman in line behind me at the grocery store or the dad pushing his daughter on the swing next to me at the park. Those small connections are meaningful, even if they never move beyond small talk, beyond me asking that mom-to-be how she is feeling, when she’s due, or if she knows the sex of the baby—all of which are considered insensitive according to one list or another.

When dealing with Oliver, who is well into his terrible-two stage of tantrums , I always ask myself something before rushing to anger or frustration over a tantrum. Why is he upset? If I can uncover the source of the distress, it’s much easier to address and then accept it. I would ask you to do the same thing the next time someone says something to you about your parenting or your pregnancy that you find offensive.

Ask yourself what is the intention behind the question. Is the asker just trying to be friendly? To show she cares? Is the question stem from an experience she had herself? My guess is that 9/10 the asker does not mean to offend. If that’s the case you have two options. If it’s someone whom you don’t know very well I suggest you shrug it off and move on with your day. If it’s someone whom you care about and are close to, a friend or relative, then tell them their comment is hurtful and explain why. Those people want to know and will likely alter what they say in the future.

Better yet, why not create lists of things TO SAY? Tell people what you would like to hear. Something like this—

Top Five Things to Say to Parents

1. You’re doing a great job.

2. Your kids are such a joy to have around.

3. You should do whatever works for you and your family.

4. How can I help?

5. Your kids are so lucky to have you as a parent.

Because if you only tell me what NOT to say, I might not say anything at all. And I hope it’s not just me who thinks that’s a shame.

Making the Cut

Oliver got his first haircut, oh, about 4 months ago now. I wanted to write about it then, but I was too traumatized by 1) the disappearance of Oliver’s gorgeous blonde locks, and 2) the immediate realization that my baby is not really a baby anymore. Seriously, when did that happen? I had to wait until his hair had grown back a little before I could tackle this post without PTCD flashbacks. That’s post traumatic cutting disorder for those not in the know on my made up lingo.

The actual haircut, like most activities outside of Oliver’s comfort zone, was met with its fair share of (adorable) tears, whimpering, and ultimately resignation. I think it helped that he has an acute awareness that scissors are sharp and potentially dangerous, and it’s best to sit still when said scissors are inches from your face. It also helped to have Grandma there to distract him. Never underestimate the value of a well-placed Grand Parent to help you through a potential meltdown.

When all was said and done, Oliver left the hair salon (can I call Great Clips a salon?) as happy as can be, and thanks to his toddler brain, probably has no recollection of ever going at this point. I, on the other hand, left the hair salon feeling so devastated I’m thinking of starting a support group for those with “cutter’s remorse.”

I feel like I walked into the salon with a chubby-cheeked baby and walked out with a little boy—one who will soon be too old for kisses and hugs and cuddle time with his mom.  And while I’ve always known this independent streak would come one day, something about cutting off those few inches of hair made that day seem so much closer.

On good days (the only ones I can seem to remember anymore), I used to wish that Oliver could stay a baby forever. Now, with a fun, spirited toddler on my hands, I find myself glad to be out of the baby stage and wishing to stay in the toddler stage forever. It seems like whatever stage we are in, I just want it to last a little bit longer than I know it can, like clinging to the last grains of sand as they fall between my fingers.

What I’m learning though, is that I can choose to stare at my empty hand, wondering where all the sand went, or I can look ahead, far down the beach, and see that there is so much more.

Out of necessity, motherhood has been a crash course in embracing change. And while I can’t say I always welcome it gracefully, I am learning to accept it, let it settle in, and then reassess. I’m learning that if I keep looking back, I’m going to miss a lot of the present. And missing out on the present will only create more longing for the past when this stage flies by too.

When we got home from the salon, I stuck Oliver’s hair clippings unceremoniously on the kitchen counter. At some point they unknowingly made their way to the garbage. I’m considering this the ultimate lesson in letting go. And not to ever stick anything of value next to the garbage can.

Thankfully I still have the real thing to run my hands through. And while it’s not full of baby curls and surrounding the chubby cheeks of my itty-bitty baby, it is attached to the head of one ever-evolving big boy who is brimming with his newfound personality. And that’s one change I am grateful for.

 

Marathon Mom

Since becoming a mom in July, 2012, I’ve achieved personal records in the 5k and half marathon. In April, this sleep-deprived, busy mom ran the Toledo Marathon 35 minutes and 45 seconds faster than a 19 year-old me with no responsibilities.

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Photo Credit: Danielle McKay, my awesome best friend who waited for me at the finish line!

You think that is a coincidence?

Running 26.2 miles may be hard. But being a mom is harder, and it’s given me a competitive edge not matched by the best training program out there. You see, a standard training program can only tell you so much—when much to run, what to eat, how much to rest.

But that’s where it ends.

Anyone who has run a marathon knows that making it through training, and then the race itself, is as much mental as it is physical. This mental toughness isn’t something you can learn from a book though. It comes from lived experiences. From trying times when you have to dig deep, quiet your fears, and keep moving on.

For me, it comes from being a mom.

From learning the importance of trusting my gut to finding the perfect time to run (it is always after the baby poops but before your partner has detected the smell), read on to find out about all the things I’ve learned about running, and myself, from motherhood. Then leave a comment to let me know how parenthood has impacted your running!

1. Perfect runs aren’t born from perfect conditions

In the same way you don’t have to be a perfect parent to raise a happy, well-adjusted child, you don’t have to have perfect conditions to get in a great run. So it’s raining and cold. Or you’re tired and cranky. Or your favorite pair of shorts are in the dirty laundry (this one seriously happens to me all the time). It’s okay. Get out there and put one foot in front of the other. The way I see it is you either get a great run or a lesson in perseverance. Win-win.

2. Do it now. Later won’t come

My free time is precious, and with a toddler, there is very little to be had. If I don’t use my “me time” wisely, I’ll quickly end up with back log of dreams I wanted to pursue but never did. So when I commit to something like running a marathon, I commit to do it now. I set aside the time, and whether I’m feeling like it or not, I lace up my sneakers and hit the road. Because in Mommyland, it’s now or never.

3. Educate yourself, but always follow your gut

There is a lot of information out there about to properly raise a child. It’s up to you to pick and choose what works best based on your unique situation. Same holds true for running. The training plan that helped your friend reach a PR might have you sidelined with an injury before you make it to the starting line. Or the newest and best pre-race meal might send you to the port-o-potties instead of into the corrals. You know your body. Listen to it.

4. Sometimes the best thing about a finishing a hard run is that it’s over with—that’s okay

Just like the best thing about a tough parenting day is crawling into bed with a full Netflix queue, the best thing about a really hard run can be that it’s over with. Pat yourself on the back for surviving and don’t look back.

5. A few bad runs don’t make for a bad race.

A common inner monologue I had the first few months of my son’s life went something like this. “Oh no, this kid will not stop crying. He’s been crying all day. He’s going to keep crying all week. I think he might cry forever. This will never end. This is my life from now on. I can’t do this.” I’ve had the exact same thoughts while training for a marathon. A couple bad runs with tired, sore legs and I’m convinced I’ll never make it to the starting line, let alone finish the race. Surprise, I did. And you likely will too. Everyone has bad training runs. Plan on them. Work them into your training routine the same you would any other workout. View them as your mental toughness training, because that is just as important to build up as physical strength.

6. Don’t use Google to diagnose running injuries—ever. An achy knee is sometimes just an achy knee

I once convinced myself that Oliver had leukemia. Turns out it was something called Roseola. Had I waited for the doctor appointment instead of endlessly searching Google all weekend I would have saved myself a lot of grief. The internet can be great for gathering information, but it can also be great for freaking yourself out. If you’re really concerned, seek the advice of a medical professional.

7. Enjoying the process is just as important as the finish line

I don’t mean you have to love every single run. I don’t enjoy every day of being a parent. But if you can’t find joy in the journey, you are going to be miserable 99% of the time. Focus on what makes you happy about running—socializing with friends, getting outside, the strain of your muscles as you speed down the road. Because those are the things that are going to keep you going when the finish line is out of sight.

8. Flexibility is as important and preparation

In parenthood and in running, you can’t plan for every potential setback. Sometimes, unexpected things happen and your ability to adapt will be what sees your through. Instead of focusing on every problem that might arise, focus on developing a general problem solving strategy.

9. Don’t take yourself so seriously; it’s just running

Many parents have lots of high expectations for certain events—think 1st Birthday, Christmas, vacation to Disneyland. And when the inevitable hiccup happens, they loose perspective and freak out. The same thing happens in running. People fall short of goal times. Injuries spring up. It’s understandable (and okay) to be disappointed when you put so much effort into something. But after the disappointment fades, remind yourself what’s really important. Why did you start running to begin with? Chances are it’s not about the finishing time at all. If you can remember this, it will be much easier to laugh at yourself when the inevitable shit hits the fan….or should I say wall.

10. If you can raise another human on little to no sleep, you can also go for a run—doesn’t mean it will be fun

There will always be an excuse not to run. You get decide if that excuse is good enough to keep you inside. Sometimes they are, and that’s okay. But when I think about all excuses I had to step over on my way to making it through my son’s first year of life, I realize I am stronger than many of my perceived obstacles.

11. It will never feel like the right time to sign up for a marathon. Don’t let that stop you.

There is a common expression that says it will never feel like the perfect time to have a kid. That is so true. Ask any mother to be and she can probably give you at least one reason why it might have been advantageous to wait. Most of this boils down to fear of the unknown, of inadequacy, and of failure. It’s the same for running a marathon. At some point you just have to decide that your goal is important enough that you are willing to face the obstacles you are bound to encounter along the way.

12. The best time to go for your run is right after the baby poops, but before your spouse has detected the smell

You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. It’s scientifically proven that your running speed is positively correlated with the amount of poop your husband has to wipe off of the baby’s butt.

13. Whether or not stale graham crackers constitute proper pre-run fueling depends on what kind of day you’ve had

The baby is sick and has been up all night. The toddler just spilled the entire box of Cheerios and is licking them off the floor like the dog. Oh, and where did the dog go? He’s pooping on the carpet next to the crib. This is the day you grab the stale, stuffed in the cracks of the couch graham crackers and call it a win because you are managing to make it out the door.

14. Always remind yourself of the example you are setting

You are the first and best teacher for your child. If you’re having trouble finding motivation, think of the example you set by establishing a goal and sticking to it. Is it too early to sign him up?

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What would you add to the list?

If You Have a Facebook Account, This One’s for You

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If you’re a Facebook account wielding woman in her late 20s, chances are your newsfeed has recently been invaded by an army of chubby-cheeked, diaper-wearing little ones. I know mine has. And I’m not going to lie. I LOVE it.

Watching people you knew way back when—the same people who pushed you on the swings at school or told you boys had cooties—grow up and have kids of their own feels a little like coming full-circle. Not to mention, giant, toothless baby grins and toddlers in oversized overalls are a lot more fun to look at than the drunk college party pictures that once dominated the screen.

But to all my fellow Facebook moms and dads, I have one small problem with all the pictures you post. It’s a problem that is entirely MINE, and not a fault I find in YOU. Let’s clear that up right away. But I think it’s a problem that a lot of people have, so in talking about it, I’m hoping to provide a possible remedy.

So what exactly is my problem? Let me set the scene.

It’s nine o’clock on a Friday night, and I am sitting in bed performing my compulsory internet browsing. You know the drill—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, favorite blogs, Weather.com. (I know. I know. I lead an exciting life.) As I surf through the latest round of too-cute kid pictures, I find myself fluctuating between enchantment and envy.

This is the point where I usually turn to my husband and say something ridiculous along the lines of, “why can’t Oliver be as well behaved as all these other peoples’ kids.” Note that well-behaved could easily be replaced with numerous descriptors—happy, calm, easy-going, giggly…and the list goes on.

I’m rolling my eyes at myself as I type this. It seems so absurd now. But it didn’t when I said it.

At the time I was thinking, come on moms and dads of Facebook, where are all the pictures of your kid splayed across the floor mid tantrum because you wouldn’t give her a cookie? Where are all the pictures of red-faced colicky infants? What about the toddler screaming to get out of his restaurant high chair five minutes after sitting down?

Clearly because you don’t post images of these trying instances, they never happen. Right? Sounds silly, but that is the exact thought process I used to go through. I’d look at your happy, smiley baby, compare her to the fuss ball clinging to my leg, and end up feeling like I must be doing something wrong.

I know I’m not alone in making these kinds of comparisons. There is a whole psychological theory that delves into the intricacies of why we do it and it mostly boils down to determining personal and social worth. In other words, it lets us know how we measure up against others and in doing so, solidifies our identities.

In the Facebook era though, this presents a real problem since the images we use to make comparisons usually only represent the highlights of parenthood. These ideal moments set the bar artificially high, making it easy to feel like you are falling short.

The turning point for me came when I started to sift through the pictures I post of my own little guy. The first image showed Oliver grinning ear to ear during a trip to zoo. Another picture showed Oliver laughing, his face covered in bubbles. And then there was a rare picture of him sitting nicely in a high chair, quietly coloring.

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On and on it went, one smiling picture after the next. In fact, out of the hundreds of pictures I have posted, there are only a couple that show Oliver less than exuberant. I am as guilty of only posting the happy moments as the next person. And why not? These are the moments that bring the most joy. They are the moments that make me feel like a confident and competent mommy. Most importantly, they are the times that reassure me that the hard times never last forever. The next smiling, happy kiddo picture is just around the corner.

When I realized the problem lay in my perception and not myself, I decided to take action. First, I recognized that the images I see on Facebook represent a single moment in time, likely one of your best. For every smiling baby picture that you post, I’m sure you could have posted another of your little one crying.

Next, I focused my efforts on limiting comparisons between Oliver and other kids, especially within the context of social media. Comparing my three-dimensional, lived experience with a two dimensional image is not the way to foster happiness.

The last thing I did, and possibly the most important was to choose to focus on joy. So maybe Oliver does cry and whine more than the average toddler. Maybe his tantrums are more epic. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. It doesn’t matter. By downplaying the struggles of parenthood and emphasizing the joys, I find that I am a happier mom, no matter the circumstances.

These are lessons that took me awhile to learn. They are ones I sometimes still have to remind myself on my worst days. But I’m getting there.

So Facebook moms and dads, keep posting those smiling little faces. Keep sharing the laughter and the fun. And maybe every once in awhile, post a picture of your kid screaming his head off. I can promise you that if it shows up in my newsfeed, I will be one of the first to like it.

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If Oliver Were on Match.com

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Name: Oliver
18-month old dude, but I’m “mature” for my age; already in what I like to call my terribly awesome two stage. I live with my parents, but don’t worry, I have my own crib.

Seeking: 15-21 month old guys or gals, dogs and squirrels of any age are also welcome

Height: 98th percentile; translation: tall enough to get into the drawer where mommy used to keep the knives

Body type: Munchkin

Religion: Disney

Smoke: No

Drink: I’ve been off the bottle for a couple weeks now.

So what should you know about me? I am laid back and easy going (assuming mommy does exactly what I want, when I want). I’m an intellectual who enjoys long conversations—my current favorite topics include poop, dogs, and bubbles—trying to engineer the perfect lego structure, and brain teasers like reconfiguring the cable box. I’m an early to bed, early to rise kind of guy who also appreciate a good mid-day cat nap. If you like to sleep in, we probably wouldn’t click. When I’m not sleeping I like to curl up on my daddy’s lap with a good picture book, catch all the latest movies (so long as they star Mickey Mouse), and stay active—couch diving is my new favorite sport. Other interests include wallets with easily lost credit cards, iPhones, basketball, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider—although not necessarily all together or in that particular order. I live a pretty structured life, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to let loose and have fun—streaking around the apartment and sneaking chocolate syrup from the fridge are just a couple of the wild and crazy things I get up to.

I’m looking for someone who wants to share in all the highs and lows of toddler life. Someone to share my cheerios with. Someone to celebrate the new milestones with. Someone to cry with when we’re cutting our molars. I also need someone who has a good sense of humor—if you can’t laugh at a messy poop explosion or a fart noise, forget it. Ideal first dates include chilling at the park—the slides are my favorite, baby story time at the library (smart chicks rule!), or any location where my mom can also get a cup of coffee while we hang.

Contact me if you’re interested. I swipe my mom’s iPhone often enough that I’ll respond within the day.

Hello My Name is Oliver, and I’m a Bottle-aholic

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Oliver has been hitting the bottle hard lately, often consuming up to five drinks in a single day. What started as a harmless recreational habit has morphed into a full-blown, wake mommy and daddy up in the middle of the night screaming for more addiction. And as his sleep deprived, I’ll do anything to get you to go back to sleep mother, I often give in to his demands.

For the longest time I told myself it wasn’t that big of a deal—he’ll grow out of it eventually, right? At twelve months old, that white lie was somewhat believable. At eighteen months old, it’s morphed into straight-up denial.

Since admitting the problem is the first step toward solving it, I’ll say it. Oliver is a bottleaholic. And I, his mother, am his bottle-wielding dealer.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I came close to weaning Oliver off the bottle for good. After scouring the internet for weaning advice, we made a valiant one-hour stand, replacing his milk bottle with a cute, animal-adorned sippy cup, but were met with so much screaming that we decided it was easier to shamefully facilitate his addiction than intervene.

If you think the mother-child bond is strong, it’s nothing compared to the level of attachment Oliver has for his bottle. If that thing could also cook his lunch and change his diaper, I’m pretty sure I’d be out of a job.

After our first failure, I began searching for other like-minded, bottle-feeding mommies. Sitting in bed at night, my computer perched on my lap, I would read a message board comment to my husband. “See, this lady said her kid is five and still drinks out of a bottle.” Or my favorite, “this person says that your baby is only a baby for a short while and we shouldn’t be so quick to make him grow up.”

Meanwhile, Oliver’s dependency on his bottle just got worse. Shortly after recovering from his month-long illness, which in a previous post I fondly referred to as Coldmagedon 2014, he started to demand his bottle more and more, especially in the middle of the night.

A few nights ago, as I lay in bed on the brink of tears, listening to Oliver cry for what must have been the thousandth time that night (no exaggeration on that number), I thought to myself, so this is what it feels like to hit rock bottom. But then I remembered the other half at that expression—you can only go up from here. I’ll amend that to say at least it can’t get worse, because at the moment I wasn’t really sure how it was going to get better.

The next morning my husband and I mutually decided that we were going to go cold-turkey on the bottles. We were just done. No amount of screaming, hitting, kicking, whimpering, whining, or cute little scrunchy faces was going to get us to change our minds. I gathered all the bottles, tucked them away in Oliver’s closet, and drove to Babies R’ Us where I proceeded to clear the store out of every sippy cup style they had to offer.

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When I handed Oliver his milk-filled sippy cup later that day, he looked at me like I was handing him a cup of poison and angrily pushed the cup away.

“But Oliver,” I said in my sweetest, most nurturing voice possible, “this is a special big boy cup just for you. Yum. Yum. Yum.” I pretended to take a sip.

Oliver grabbed the cup, screamed, and threw it on the floor. I grabbed sippy cup model number two and tried again. Then number three. Then number four. And so on until the kitchen floor became a mine field of sippy cups waiting to spew their milky contents from their questionably “spill-proof” lids.

After freaking out about Oliver’s hydration level, calcium and protein intake, caloric needs, and my inability to comfort the screaming being in front of me, I did the only thing I could. I decided to give it time. I’d give Oliver a week to adjust to his new bottleless existence and then reassess.

The following week felt like a scene from a bad Western film—Oliver and I facing off, guns drawn, waiting for the other person to flinch. Neither of us was willing to surrender. By week’s end, with no progress made beyond a couple sips he took one day during a moment of weakness, we called a stalemate. I wasn’t willing to give him a bottle. He wasn’t willing to drink milk out of anything other than a bottle.

And who can blame him really? This was the first real loss his 18-month-old self had really experienced in life, or at least the first one he was cognizant of.

The interesting thing about weaning Oliver is that in the end, it was a lot less stressful than I imagined it to be. Yes, there was some screaming. Yes, there were tears. Yes, there were some nights he probably went to bed a little thirsty. But at week’s end he was still a happy, thriving toddler. In fact, he was a toddler that was eating more actual food, waking up less at night, and having a lot less digestive issues. And here I thought I’d be dealing with a starving kid who would never ever sleep again without his trusty bottle.

Could it be I was more attached than him?

Maybe Oliver will eventually waive the white flag and drink milk from a cup. Maybe he won’t. Luckily for me, I’ve come to realize that milk isn’t the Holy Grail of toddler nutrition, and I can still meet all his nutritional needs with a balanced diet.

For now I’m counting this as a success! Goodness knows I’ll need this win under my belt when round two, mommy versus binky begins.

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For those wishing to replicate my weaning tactics, I give you my 12-step program.

The 12 Steps

1) Admit your child is a bottle-aholic!
2) Admit your child is a bottle-aholic because you facilitated it.
3) Sulk for a few weeks and deny the problem.
4) Allow the problem to get worse.
5) Scour the internet for ways to wean your child.
6) Fail at your weak first attempt to kick the habit.
7) Become overwhelmed and scour the internet for other people to commiserate with.
8) Allow the problem to get worse.
9) Hit rock bottom.
10) Go cold-turkey.
10b) (Added per my husband’s request) Spend an entire day telling your husband you aren’t giving him bottles while you secretly give him bottles because weaning is hard. Feel guilty about lying, come clean, and actually go cold-turkey the following day.
11) Live through a week of tantrums, but stand your ground.
12) Celebrate! Your child is no longer a bottle-aholic

After completing the 12-step program:

1) Kick yourself for not going cold turkey to begin with.
2) Realize your child has a bunch of other bad habits your should work on breaking.
3) Return to sulking and denying—let’s deal with one thing at a time.