Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another episode to talk about our chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful lives as older moms.
So, I was looking at some of the Older mom Facebook groups, there’s not a lot but there’s a few. And there was a mom who was talking about feeling ‘the big overwhelm.’ You know, her children are young and she is really just overwhelmed by everything she has to do. I mean she has a toddler, a newborn, and a job, and a husband and household chores to do. And of course, it can become incredibly overwhelming.
I had newborn twins. Emmi, let me tell you about Emmi. She woke up every three hours on the dot, every single night. Not three hours from the time that she finished breastfeeding, but every three hours. Every three hours. So, I would breastfeed Emmi, and because Andy was a little weakened (she had had more health issues as a result of being premature), she never cried. But of course, I knew she needed to be fed. So, I would breastfeed Emmi and as soon I was done with Emmy, I would breastfeed Andy. Then I would pump because the lactate nurses, (I guess they’re called lactate consultants nowadays) said that the more you breastfeed, the more you pump, the more milk you produce. And let me tell you when it’s all said and done if I didn’t latch them on and I pumped, just pumped for the day. I could fill an entire gallon of milk. That’s a lot of milk ladies.
Most of the comments were supportive but there were a couple of comments that said things like, “Well, you chose to become a mom.” Yes! It is a choice and it’s a wonderful choice but it doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. And it doesn’t mean that because we’re committing to being moms, we shouldn’t take some time to recharge, and that’s something that we don’t often do. Especially when we have young children. I mean, I have to tell you after my fertility struggles having my daughters was incredible! I wanted them more than I wanted anything in my entire life. But the first 18 months of their lives was absolute, sheer hell! Hell, okay.
And so, to be honest with you, by the time I was done breastfeeding Emmi, then Andy, and then pumping, I got maybe thirty, forty-five minutes before Emmi would start bawling that she was ready to breastfeed again. I was exhausted! And then when they started walking, I used to have like this deathly fear that somebody was gonna report me for child abuse. Because no matter how much I followed them around, they were all bruised all the time from falling. And I was a first-time mom so I didn’t know that this was completely normal, okay? So chasing them around, making sure they didn’t take things into their mouths, I mean, it was constant. I was exhausted. Simultaneously, I finished my Ph.D. program and a master’s degree and I looked for a job. And then I started a new job in which the previous professor had left nothing. No resources, no materials, nothing! So, I had to start everything from scratch.
It got to the point where the only way I could get any sleep was if I put the girls in my bed. So I coslept. I know they say not to do it, but how else was I supposed to get any sleep? I mean, come on! And people did say things to me all the time like, “Well, this is the road you chose.” Yes! And I don’t regret it! But that didn’t mean, just like it doesn’t mean now, for all of you ladies that have these new babies, that you don’t need support; that you don’t need help! There should be no question about it. You should have a day when you don’t have “to adult!” Where somebody else takes care of your kids for the day. You have a husband or a partner, they can take over for the day. It’s not gonna kill them. You can tell them I said so! Blame it on me.
So, it’s okay. It’s okay to say, “Today I’m going to take a twenty minute shower. Somebody else can take care of my twins.” Or in my case right now, somebody else can take care of Bug, my five year old walking terror. I mean, yesterday he freaked the girls out, okay? I decided to take a nap. I told the girls to watch him, and two of the girls went to cosplay, and the other one was reading history. And they left him downstairs watching a TV show.
Three minutes later, there’s banging on my door. “Mom, mom, mom!” I don’t even panic anymore. Okay, those days are over. Over! I don’t panic anymore. I get up, okay, I’m like, “What’s going on?” “Bug is missing!” This is in the middle of a Florida torrential storm! It was coming down like it was the end of the world, and we were gonna be floating in Noah’s Ark. It was terrible! And so the girls were running up and down and they don’t know where he is. And I’m totally calm. I’m like, “Let’s search, room by room!” They were like, “What are you doing mom? He could be outside in this rain!”. And I’m thinking well, he’s not gonna melt! That’s the nice thing when it’s not your first child. You already know that it’s not the end of the world. You already know that he’s got to be in someplace, okay? You know this!
So, we’re looking for him. We didn’t find him. He is not inside the house. Is it time to panic? No, ‘cause we also couldn’t find Dad. Okay! So, as it turns out, Dad had him. Dad had taken him. Dad had texted me to say, “I’m taking Bug with me, I’m going to the storage unit.” Wasn’t that nice? Except nobody checked the phone. And it was a great lesson for the girls. When Mom wants to take a nap, Mom needs a nap, and you’re in charge of taking care of your little brother, that doesn’t mean you just sit him in front of the TV and ignore him. You have to engage with him. You have to supervise him. Emmi said to me, “Mom, I don’t know how you did it when we were little.” Well, I was in my forties, I still had good knees so I was able to keep up a lot better than I can now that I’m fifty-four.
But the whole point is, we do need those breaks. And frankly, let me show you how I de-stress. I have two de-stressing buddies. Okay. Meet, Muffin! This is Muffin, my daughter’s Shih Tzu. You can even follow Muffin on Instagram. I think she might even have more followers than I do right now. Muffin is not even supposed to be my dog. She’s supposed to be Emmi’s dog, okay? And Emmi does take good care of Muffin, but Muffin is my de-stressing buddy. Okay, if you go to YouTube you can see how I love her, and pet her and enjoy having her. I mean, ten to fifteen minutes with this dog, and I feel renewed! I mean, look at that face. Meema loves you. Emmi doesn’t always let me play with Muffin ‘cause she knows now that I’m gonna be a spoiling Meema. I don’t plan on raising my grandchildren. I plan on spoiling them rotten.
And then let me introduce you to my best buddy in the world, (come on buddy, come here). This is my dog. Say hi to everybody. Say hi! I’m going to have to admit that I have never sat with them together and Pudgy, alias Barbie did not wanna share her mom. This is my dog. As you can tell, she is extremely possessive (though no one was hurt in the making of this podcast or video, everybody’s fine). And she’s extremely possessive. We take our naps together when we have a chance to take a nap (which isn’t often). And we watch TV together (which isn’t often) but when I do, she’s always with me. And right now she’s insisting on licking her sister off of me ‘cause she doesn’t appreciate the fact that she was sitting with her mom or in her chair.
So, these are my de-stressing buddies. I also like to take long walks when I have the opportunity, which, unfortunately, isn’t very often. And biking, I love to bike. My knees don’t always allow it because ever since I had my accident, I’ve been having knee problems. But I’m slowly building more and more into it. (Okay Barbie, I’m clean. It’s okay, baby.)
The thing is that, no matter who you are and no matter what stage you are in as a mother. Especially as an older mother who doesn’t have as much energy as a 20 year old or a 25 year old or even a 30 year old would have, you need to find ways to take 10 to 15 minutes during the day. Just take a break. Recharge. And whenever you can, take people up on it. They might not mean it when they say they’ll babysit your kids, pretend that they did, okay? Take Grandma up on it! Take your husband up on it! So they’re going to struggle. Your child’s going to be fine! And it will be a good experience for Meema to bond with her baby; for Dad to bond with his child. For your friend to help you out.
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made when my twins were young was I didn’t believe that anybody could take care of them the way that I could. Okay, not even their Dad. I wanted to be there as much as possible, all the time. And it didn’t help that we had a really bad experience with nannies. Later, when the girls were older, we had a fabulous experience with babysitters, but our nanny experience was not a good one.
So, I really thought my babies were only going to be well taken care of whenever I was taking care of them and at no other time. But I was wrong. And in fact, I think would have been a better mother in their younger years, had I been willing to take those breaks. Had I been willing to allow others to help me take care of them. Yeah, my Pudgy’s a snorter. Shih Tzu’s are not supposed to be snorters but this one is.
Anyhow, I think part of the reason I was so unwilling to let go was that, once, I let my sister (who is an RN) take Andy to her home. And Andy was fine, (she must have been I think six months old). She was fine in the car. She was fine when she took her in the baby carrier inside her house, then she realized that she was going through a door that wasn’t her home. And she looked at the house, and Andy freaked out! Freaked out! My sister who’s a great mom tried to calm her down. She must have spent twenty to thirty minutes, and this baby would not stop crying. It was nonstop!
The funny thing was, that once before, she had taken both babies and everything had been fine, but this time she only took one ‘cause she wanted to spend some individual attention with the girls. And oh my goodness! She had to go home with this crying infant. Our houses must have been twenty minutes apart. Andy cried the whole time, and it wasn’t just baby cries. It was like those shrills that made you think that the world is coming to an end.
Then, Andy gets home, gets through the door, sees me, and cries even harder! I don’t know if she was trying to say, “You abandoned me! You’re a monster!” I know I certainly felt that way! And so it took me, I think about an hour and a half to calm her down. I mean the shrill stopped, then it was the heavy crying, and the crying got softer, then it was just the sobs and then it was hiccups. We took a shower together. I breastfed her. I tried to bottle. I put her in a little blanket burrito. It took so long to calm her down.
So, I think part of my insecurities were based on that experience. So, I never wanted to leave them alone. But I was so overtired. So incredibly overtired. So I think one of the things I would say to a new older mom is, “Give yourself a break.” But I do think if you were going to do something like I tried with my sister, maybe go and spend some time at home with the baby first. You know, do a soft introduction rather than what I did (that didn’t turn out very well!)
And then when the girls got older, they recognized other people, that I should have let them spend time with people that they were comfortable around. But the reality was that I was insecure. Not in my parenting but insecure that they would be safe. Insecure that they would be loved enough. And the thing is, ladies, I’m sure they really are. They’re loved by other people, loved greatly and deeply. And we need to give our children and those people an opportunity to bond and give ourselves an opportunity to rest. Okay? Because motherhood is a wonderful choice, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need a break.
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