Hey, My Kids Don’t Eat Sweets

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love sugar. Sweets kind of rule my life (and it’s not a good thing). So maybe some are surprised to find I don’t let my kids eat sweets. Don’t get me wrong they get plenty of processed sugar. They eat bread and multi-grain waffles, flavored yogurt every now and then. They just don’t eat sweets…cookies, ice cream, all that stuff.

Photo credit: Mrs Magic / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: Mrs Magic / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Both of my kids are pretty good eaters. Jones isn’t a huge fan of meat. He usually eats it, but it’s always the last thing to go on his plate. Miles doesn’t love pasta. It’s hit or miss with him, sometimes he eats it, and sometimes he doesn’t. They both eat most foods, though. Vegetables are not a problem. Jones even really likes them. “Every mom’s dream!” they all say! I’m trying to keep it this way, which is why I don’t give them sweets.

Sugar changes the way you taste other things. From where I sit, it seems that once kids realize there are things that taste sweeter than their green beans, they start to prefer those things. They start refusing (or at least not going down without a fight) other healthier foods. I didn’t really intend to not give my kids sugar. I didn’t really have a plan before Jones started eating solid foods. We started with avocado. As I went down the path of trying out different foods, it occurred to me that I wanted him to continue to like the stuff I was giving him after he turned, say…1. Somewhere pretty early on, I decided I wasn’t going to give him any sweets as long as I could help it. Jones is almost 3…and I can still help it. Most of the time, anyway. He has snatched my cinnamon roll before.

Maybe you think I’m mean, but I totally eat cookies in front of my kids, and when they ask for one, I tell them no. Usually I give them something else slightly healthier, or at least less addictive, to eat, so they don’t just have to watch me. Right now, for the most part, it’s not an issue. They don’t throw fits and they don’t feel left out. Sometimes people talk like it will get harder later to keep the sweets away. I think maybe they are right, so at some point I will either finally give in and just give them sweets, or I will change the way I eat. Most likely the latter. I’ve been dreaming of cutting out sugar for a while now, but I’m chicken. Or an addict, whichever you prefer. However, there’s only so much research I can ignore before I change my ways.

Food seems to be a universal love language. I don’t know what it is, but something about a little kid just makes adults extend their food-filled hand. So many people, SOOO many people have offered my kids all sorts of food they don’t eat. Then there are those polite people who actually ask, mid hand-off, “Can they have a _____?” The exchange is always a little awkward as I answer, and there are apologies, and then I launch into my explanation. Maybe one day I won’t feel the need to explain. Maybe it’s the sheer number of times my kids have been offered sweets that makes me think, obviously, everyone else is okay with their little tot eating all the sugar in the world, and I’m just on my own little island. I can’t say exactly, but something about it all makes me feel like the oddball. I guess it wouldn’t be the first time.

I’m sure some people think I’m all uptight when I say “no, he can’t have that”, which is fine with me. I don’t think I really have to make a case on why a 2 year old doesn’t need sugar, or why sugar isn’t good for you. Or maybe I do. Anyway, I used to think that maybe we would allow it on special occasions and things, but I’m starting to think that is just a slippery slope I don’t want to mess with. I obviously am not claiming that we are some super-healthy family…since…you know, I eat cookies. One day, though! No, for real though, my kids eat a lot of crap. Like really bad for you crap. But I somehow don’t think my kids will get addicted to those Ritz crackers the same way they would to those gummy bears. So we’re avoiding the sweets, until we (um, I) bite the bullet and go real health-nut, and would appreciate if you would just…you know…maybe..not offer them  any cookies.

How To Be Friends With A New Mama

Photo credit: Kit4na / Foter / CC BY

I think it’s probable that most people aren’t really good at being a friend (considering our self-absorbed nature and culture). But out of everyone, new moms have to be the worst. And behind them, moms of little children. You wanted to come over and chat? Sorry I sat in my bedroom nursing my baby for 2 hours straight. You wanted to go on a walk? Sorry I fell asleep thinking about it…before I texted you back.

When I had Jones, my first child, none of my other friends had babies at the time. Two of my best friends joined the club shortly thereafter, but I ventured into this whole Mom thing mostly alone. Since me and my new mom friends each had newborns, guess what, we weren’t talking to each other. Not to mention that bringing Jones into this world was a whirlwind of crazy and hell on earth, and I made my entrance into motherhood in a pretty beat up state. I was physically, emotionally, mentally fragile. In no shape to return phone calls. And I stayed that way for at least, oh….the next two and half years.

After Jones was born we were going through pretty stressful circumstances, I was kind of depressed, my husband was working 2 jobs while I was watching 3 other children in my home at given points in the week while trying to figure out what do with my own child who, for the love, did not know what sleep was. I also got pregnant 4 months later, and had another baby approximately 13.5 months after I had the first. All that to say, I know I have been the worst of friends. And for that I am sorry. But what would have been great, what I really could have used, was a friend, or five, that continued to be a good friend to me while I was sucking it up in this arena.

The thing about being a new mom, is that it is consuming. All I could think about was this new little life I was responsible for and all the things that go with it. It was easy for me to get all wrapped up in figuring out how to be a mom, and easy to forget that life was still going on outside of my little family.

So I am here to tell those of you who have new mom friends, whether you haven’t yet or don’t plan to enter into motherhood, or if you’re further removed from that new mom stage, this is not a time to expect much from them. If I had given all the energy I could muster up to being a good friend in those early months, it still wouldn’t have been enough to sustain relationships, because there just wasn’t that much of me left in those few and far between moments of the baby not needing me.

So if you’re wondering what you can do for your friends who are swimming in spit up and actually dying a slow death from lack of sleep, here are some ideas:

-Bring them a meal. Obvs. I think this is about the only thing people actually already know to do, though. New moms can definitely use meals in those first few weeks, but you know what? They could also use meals a month or 2 or 3 later, when people apparently think you must have gotten everything figured out about how to keep a tiny human alive AND clean your house AND have food prepared for meal times and whatever else there is going on. I was still sleeping, um, none at 3 months, and cooking anything was virtually impossible with Jones in the house, because of course he needed to be held 200% of the time and didn’t do all that great with the baby carrier. Oh, and coffee. Bring them coffee morning, afternoon, and night. Unless they don’t like coffee. Which they will probably soon change their mind about.

-Wash their dishes and their laundry. Because remember, some of them are dying and those things just might not get done unless someone else does it.

-Stay away during the first week or 2 (unless you are doing one of the above), when that newborn is actually sleeping (unless their name is Jones and they came out the womb and basically never went back to sleep), because this could be the last time for a while that they see 4 straight hours of shuteye. And while they will soon realize that 4 straight hours is a Godsend, they won’t feel that way in the first couple weeks. BUT, there usually is still some opportunity to take naps and they NEED to seize them.

-Go to the grocery store for them. Some don’t want to go out in public with that screaming baby, but also I never knew what I was supposed to do with the groceries in the event that my baby wasn’t screaming, and remember my baby doesn’t do so great with the carrier, and I am definitely taking that car seat in which takes up the whole buggy. And sure, lots of moms have husbands that could do this sort of thing, but guess what. They don’t want their husband going to the store after they get off work. They want their husband home, taking that wonderful, sweet, dependent baby right out of their hands for a gooood chunk of time. And guess where I don’t want to go when someone else is taking care of my child. Yep, the grocery store.

-Offer to babysit for an hour and try with all your might to convince them that their baby will be fine without them for an hour. I was so stressed out when anyone else was watching Jones because I just knew he was screaming the whole time and they were losing their minds. But you know what I should have thought? I should have thought “they offered and most people handle babies crying better than the baby’s mom.” For some of us it takes a few months or another child to realize they will survive the crying fits and won’t think that I’ve abandoned them. For some of us it takes a while to get over feeling like we need or are even able to fix every little discomfort. So remind them, and send them away. Or offer to watch the baby while they do whatever the heck they want in their own home. Like take that shower they have been thinking about.

-Don’t forget about them or assume they are busy doing their mom thing and are uninterested in interacting with people who don’t have children. Keep calling even if they never call you back, and don’t give them grief about not answering/returning your calls. Chances are you called in the middle of a diaper/outfit change, or while they were holding their sleeping babe (and no they will not move when that little one is asleep on their chest), or maybe even they themselves were stealing a quick nap. Also note that text messages are probably your best bet for getting a response, and instead of playing phone tag you can schedule a (potential) time to talk/Skype/whatever.

-and the most important thing you can do, if you’re asking me, is talk to them. And let them talk. Ask them how they are doing. Help them process the huge transition they are going through. You may not be able to relate, but let them talk about sleep and poop because that’s their life and you’re their friend.

The truth is being a new mom can be really lonely. Of course, some people have “easy” babies and are able to do more, and some settle into their lives being turned upside down with a little more grace. But I think for a lot of moms the days are long, but they fly by and then they come up for air and realize it’s been 6 months since they talked to their best friend. I realize life happens and things change, but if there is a time to fight for your relationships, it’s when you/your friend has their first baby. Like I said, motherhood is consuming and sometimes it’s hard to see how alone you are in the middle of it. Remind them that they need to make friendships a priority. Remind them what an enormous blessing motherhood is and at the same time that there is more to life than motherhood.

New moms, I deeply know how hard it is, but make an effort to be a good friend. Try not to get lost in the figuring it out. For the most part I think new moms don’t know what they need, but in those moments that you do, communicate to the people close to you. I wish I had admitted to someone “I need friends. I’m in a daze and I’m exhausted, but I need you to keep being my friend.” Family is a wonderful, beautiful thing, but it isn’t everything.

Friends of new moms, be patient and gracious, and be dedicated. New moms need you.

What I Would Say to Those Who Want A Natural Childbirth

I knew next to nothing about pregnancy and childbirth when I first got pregnant three and half years ago. I knew even less about the medical industry. Thankfully, my husband and I had talked about a few things before hand, like using a midwife and having a natural childbirth (which didn’t seem like a big deal before I got pregnant), but I was pretty much clueless. I think some people thought Johnathan was brainwashing me/making all my decisions for me (not true, for the record), but I could not be more thankful that he encouraged me to research and learn. So, I hope you do, too. I hope you research and know what you are getting yourself into with childbirth. I am super passionate about informed decisions. 😉

Even though it’s gaining much ground in the US, I still think it’s pretty common for people to roll their eyes when they hear the words “natural childbirth”, “midwife”, or “waterbirth”. It seems to me like there is a growing animosity towards the whole “natural living” thing. I’ve realized that a lot of people are offended when you make decisions different from them, even though it most likely has nothing to do with them. A lot of people are not going to understand why you would want to have a natural childbirth, and by that I mean un-induced, un-medicated, no medical intervention birth. (You do not have to be in a birth center or having a homebirth, it is possible to have a natural birth in a hospital. Some places just make it harder than others.) So it is likely that some people will think you are crazy or dumb.

So the first thing I would say, is that it’s ok to figure it out. IT IS OKAY to not have your mind made up about all this the moment you find out you are pregnant. Give yourself the space, and demand the space from others, to think about it all. It is also not too late to change your plans as long as that baby is still inside your body. I have heard countless stories of people who were unhappy with their care provider, but stayed with them anyway. There are some amazing doctors, nurses and midwives, and there are some horrible ones. I have read articles making fun of “that mom with the birth plan”, but let me tell you, you have every right to want your birth to go a certain way. Depending on who/where you choose to deliver your baby, it is possible that you will be the only one fighting for your birth to go the way you want. The biggest thing you can do is find a provider that you trust, that respects you, and gives you room to make your own decisions. Of course, you have to understand that hospitals have certain policies and protocols that may interfere with some of your plans, and each provider has certain preferences as to how they provide care.  There are different freedoms and limitations depending on if you are at a hospital, in a birth center, or at home. So talk through how you want things to go. A good provider will be able to tell you what is within and outside of their control, and will do it without insulting your intelligence.

The internet is a wonderful thing, so google the crap out of everything. This is another thing people want to scoff at, but the truth is, there is a ton of good, quality information out there. Of course, there is bad information, too, and you have to use proper discernment to figure out what is valid and what isn’t. It’s always a good idea to click on the links in any articles you read, and make sure more than one person/site is giving the same information. I can’t tell you how many times I have clicked on links to find that they don’t actually back up what the author is saying. Be very wary of any info you come across that is more or less attacking one side or the other. If an author sounds like they think this option is great and this option is stupid, then that’s probably what they think, and they aren’t being realistic about both sides. The most common approach I’ve seen people take in trying to persuade others that they are right, is trying to convince them that the alternative is unintelligent, which is powerful stuff if you aren’t aware of it. Another good rule is to not put too much stock in personal stories. I’ve read an article about a mom’s waterbirth that went horribly, and the article made it sound like this was the norm. There are articles out there about how someone’s waterbirth was beautiful and blissful. I had a waterbirth with Miles, my second, and you know what? It wasn’t that great. I probably won’t do that again if I ever have another kid. You can read these stories and learn from them, but then move on. Every single person’s experience is different and it is unwise to think yours will go the way someone else’s did. On the same note, while the internet is a truly amazing resource, so are the people who have been through childbirth. It is all too common for us to turn to the internet and never ask our questions to real people with real brains and insight. I would have never known that some people eat or encapsulate their placentas (yes, that is a real thing) if I hadn’t talked to a real person about it. I actually only knew two people who’d had a natural childbirth, and I think I would have been much better prepared had I had more conversations with people who had done it before.

Understand that part of making decisions is being prepared for the potential consequences. If you are educated about the options, and aren’t making decisions out of feeling pressured or manipulated, then you need to accept that you will have to live with your decisions, whatever the outcome. Part of being able to do this peacefully is knowing the risks, benefits, and the likelihood that those things will occur. I can’t even count the times I’ve heard someone say “I would just be so scared something would happen” but it felt like people were really trying to say, “Wouldn’t you blame yourself forever if something horrible happened? Cause it would be your fault, ya know.” The truth is, there is absolutely the chance that something could go wrong no matter where you give birth. (People seem to forget that horrible things happen in hospitals, too.) There will be things that no one can predict or control. But thankfully, there is a God who is completely in control of all things. There is no decision I can make that will abate His sovereignty. We are human, and we have to do our best and be wise in the choices we make, but the Lord is always bigger than us, and fully capable of accomplishing his will regardless of us.

Lastly, know that natural birth is excruciatingly painful. In all honesty, I am saying this because I was not prepared for this one. I don’t know if it’s just that most people get epidurals or what…but this is something that I didn’t take all that seriously. I have actually heard more than one person talk about how much they enjoyed childbirth, but most people tend to just gloss over and joke about the pain. I know it’s not the same for everyone, but they usually say something like “It hurts, but then you have your baby and it’s all worth it!” They don’t say (or didn’t to me, at least) that having that baby in your arms at the end of it will not make it hurt one ounce less in the middle of it all. I wish somebody had sat me down, told me to listen really close, looked in my eyes and said, “This is going to be the worst, most unimaginable, “kill me now” kind of pain you will probably ever be in. It is going to absolutely suck.” Then maybe I would have paid attention. My default mode of thinking was “Women all over the world do this every day without medicine, and I can do it, too.” Which was 100% true, but I did not know that during labor I would have truly given absolutely anything for someone to just cut that baby right out of me and end my misery. Not in a joking kind of way. In a very real, get me a doctor with a knife, I don’t care what my research has told me, I want this over now, kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, “they” were right and it was totally worth it, but I won’t be sad if I never have to do it again.

For us and our “low-risk” pregnancies, the potential for unnecessary intervention inside a hospital was riskier than having our baby outside a hospital. We believed that a natural birth was the safest option for our babies and for me.  For every risk of birthing a child outside a hospital, there is a risk to birthing a child inside a hospital. The likelihood of those risks coming to fruition is what pushed us towards a birth center.

Unless this is a completely normal thing where you live or among your friends, be prepared for some judgment. The people who go against the grain don’t get the luxury of making uninformed decisions. That privilege is only afforded to those who do what everyone else does. Believe me, people will ridicule you for doing something different no matter how much research you did. Maybe things are different now, but the first time I got pregnant I had pretty much no one around me, besides my husband, encouraging me in this decision. I felt pretty lonely in all of it, but we did it, and I couldn’t be happier that we took the route we did, and I would absolutely do it a third time…if I had to.

Christians and Caitlyn Jenner

If I’m gonna do this blogging thing, I might as well come out swinging, amiright?! I know it’s a little late in the game, and all this talk about Caitlyn Jenner is starting to die down…but with this new blog I’m implementing a 24-hour rule in which I think my thoughts for at least 24 hours before posting them on the world wide web. Then, hopefully when I post something, if I post something (I’m not making any promises when it comes to consistency here), I’ll at least be sure that I’m ok with people reading it. I may change that to 48 hours…

I’ve read a bunch of stuff in the last couple days…mostly my “friends” posts on social media showering praise and support to their new transgender BFF, Caitlyn. Some of the articles or blogs or whatever they’re called were alright, but probably my favorite piece I came across was Jon Stewart’s calling out of the media’s reaction, because at least it was funny. Sadly true, yet funny precisely because it’s true. Anyway, the objectification of women is a topic for another day! But you should watch it anyway…because it’s true.

BUT, the reason I really want to write about this is because everything I’ve seen has been about picking sides. All about how “I WILL NOT call him Caitlyn because he is not a woman and I know everything” or “I WILL call her Caitlyn because peace and love and this is what makes her happy and hello, progress.” But I’m not here to pick sides. I have my beliefs and opinions, sure, but I don’t really think anyone cares, or needs to hear them (for today 😉 ). I’m not really talking to non-Christians here, because from my limited experience, non-Christians are far more accepting and vocal about their acceptance of transgender individuals, and the LGBT community in general. So to you, Christians, followers of Jesus, I want to say…can we stop only talking about the transgender community…and start talking to them? There are people, precious souls, that are tormented by the disconnect between their assigned sex and the gender they most identify with. So much so, that they feel they can’t go on living in the body they were born with, and having no other option…since they can’t just move their soul to another body…go through drastic surgeries and treatments to try to make what’s in their mind match up with what other people see.

I find it heartbreaking that for 60+ years Bruce Jenner lived a life that didn’t feel like his own. I find it scary that a majority of the people that undergo sex change surgery regret it, and many attempt suicide at some point. I also find it really sad, that in all the stories I read, this is something these people deal with completely on their own for years and years. So, can we stop just posting about all the love that we have for the hurting without actually engaging with them? I mean I guess posting about loving people is better than posting about hating people…but it seems a bit hypocritical when we don’t actually do anything to tangibly love the people going through the hard stuff. Can we stop talking about people, and start talking to people? Can we invite them into our homes and into our friend groups and into our lives? Can we know them, so well that they don’t feel like they have to hide what they are going through? Can we say OUT LOUD that it’s okay to be confused, and it’s okay to think you have it all figured out. Because right now, Caitlyn appears happy and free, but there were years of confusion and pain that came before it, and there will be days of doubt ahead.

I am all about speaking the truth in love, but it would probably help if we know the people we’re speaking to first. So to the transgender community, and the rest of the LGBT community, and the rest of the people who are hurting for that matter, this is me telling you, personally, I want to know you. I want to walk with you. And we can figure out the rest after that.