When Mother's Day isn't happy.

With the recent celebration of Mother's day here in the U.S., I've been reflecting a lot on my catapult into motherhood.  It's hard for me to comprehend that I've been a mother for almost five years.  On one hand, I can't remember how it feels not to be a mom and on the other hand, it all feels so new.  I still feel like a novice who is treading water in this role that feels like uncharted territory.

In my five years of motherhood, I've learned and adapted, and most of all, I've changed.  Like completely and drastically changed to the core.

I just remember how easy motherhood was before I had my first baby.  Moms, you know what I mean.  I had this idea that it wasn't so hard (and why was every mom I know exhausted and complaining?!) to mother a child.

And then I had one.

For anyone in the throes of postpartum depression, Mother's Day can be a terrible day.  Rather than being a day to celebrate who you are as a central figure in your child's life, it can really feel like a time that highlights your failures and lack of enthusiasm for your role.  I understand; I've been there.  The beautiful images of flowers and pastels that we're inundated with from every department store didn't jive with the darkness I once associated with the holiday.

Things just didn't "click" instantaneously for me in the motherhood department.  I didn't feel an immediate bond with my baby, I didn't like having someone whose needs were so intertwined with my body, and I just felt that every move I made was wrong.  I felt hopeless, and for every well-meaning person who commented on how precious my little baby was, I just sank further into the feeling of inadequacy.  Why didn't I see how precious my little one was? Why couldn't I handle an infant?  Why was it so hard for me when people with far fewer blessings and a lot less support could handle mothering without batting an eye? Why couldn't I just be happy?  Why did I want to leave it all behind?  Was it worth sticking around for?

I guess I still don't know the answers to most of those questions, but I DO know that motherhood was worth sticking around for.  I do know now, after baby #2, that even without the depression, extreme sleep-deprivation makes me a crazy-woman who cries all the time, and there's no way around that! I know that babies are not my forte, but I love love love being the mom of a four year old.  I know that a different birth experience the second time around made me happy.  I know that it was worth doing all over again. I know that there is no such thing as a perfect mother.  I learned that even on the best of days, the emotional baggage that a mother carries can be terribly burdensome.  I've learned that sometimes putting the baby books down and following your instincts is the way to go.  I've learned that I don't regret any of the hard work and sacrifices, as I'm (slowly) seeing the effort pay off.  I've learned that post-partum depression made me a better person because I'm more empathetic of others in their struggles.  I've learned that sharing my failings and inadequacies is often far more important than talking about my successes.

To all of you moms who are in the midst of what can be a very hard time, try to put a smile on your face and keep on chugging forward--sometimes that's a step in the right direction.  You're not alone in your struggle.  Share your feelings with someone you trust.  Sharing your feelings with a doctor may be helpful, too.

Hang in there, my friend.  There are better days ahead.

Preschool Lunchtime Favorite {Creamy Macaroni with Veggies}

I've taken such a break from blogging regularly over the last two years that it seems silly to say that I'm taking a break from crafty posts to share with you a recipe.  But nonetheless, yes, I'm sharing a "recipe" and not a craft on this odd occasion of actually posting.  So sue me.  (Please, don't.)

While I know many moms who are in the "I don't serve my kids PB&Js for lunch" camp, I'm totally a PB&J makin' fool for weekday lunches.  I'd say my girls enjoy the quintessential childhood sandwich at least twice a week for lunch and often dinner leftovers make it onto their lunch plates, too.  What can I say?  I'm practical that way.  Don't feel too bad for the little ladies, though--we switch things up enough to keep things interesting.

I'm not going to knock the blue box of mac-n-cheese, as it's one of my ultimate guilty pleasures.  Seriously.  Maybe you want chocolates on Valentine's Day but my knows-no-shame tastebuds would gladly take a serving of Kraft mac-n-cheese as a substitute.  Perhaps it's the fact that I didn't grow up eating it that makes it such a novelty.  Anyhow, this momma can't be trusted with boxes of macaroni-and-cheese in the house, so I've created a kid-pleasing alternative that my kids love so I can keep the blue-box macaroni out of my pantry (and off of my thighs).  I'm guessing that like me, their deprivation of boxed mac-n-cheese will one day result in a torrid secret love affair with the stuff but if that's the worst emotional scarring I cause them as a mother, I'll call it a success.

1 cup macaroni ($ .20)
2 oz. cream cheese (1/4 of a brick) ($ .30)
1 carrot, shredded ($. 8)
1/4 cup frozen peas ($ .15)

Cook pasta according to box directions, adding the carrot and peas to the boiling pasta during the last minute of cooking.  Drain; return to the hot pan and immediately add the cream cheese, allowing the residual heat of the pan and the pasta/veggies melt the cheese into a nice creamy coating.  (This recipe makes 2 large preschool-sized portions. It's easy to double or triple, based on your kids' needs and whether or not Momma wants to join in on the macaroni binge).

I love that the total cost of the recipe is $ .73 (please note that I do not 'coupon' but I do buy things in bulk so my prices tend to be lower than the average supermarket). Some fruit alongside the pasta rounds out lunch quite nicely, but if you have some leftover diced ham or chicken, it'd be awesome to throw in to the pasta, too.

Oliver & S Popover Sundress

I was recently asked by a lady from church "So, do you sew clothing very often for your girls?"

In an ideal world, my answer would be: "Yes, everything they wear is handmade with love".

The real answer is something like this: "No way José."

How's that for honesty?  I'll go even further and explain why in unnecessary details, because what is a blog without unnecessary detail?

1. Elliott initially hates anything I make for her.  No joke.  (Proof: see here and here.  Just because she's aged doesn't mean she's any better.)
2. We're given SO much clothing by family and friends.  It's kind of a waste to have more.
3. I'll flip if it gets ruined.  And you probably wouldn't want to witness that.
4. Typically costs WAY more that buying off the rack. (Anyone love the Gap Kids clearance racks like I do?  Holla!)
5. No guarantee of quality or cuteness.  (That's a lot of pressure!)
6. Whenever I sew, my world crashes down around me.  I forget to feed my family, I don't do dishes or keep up with housework, and then...after all the trouble... see #1.   

Last year though, I made the Oliver and S Popover Sundress  for Elliott.  The pattern is free (yay!) and it is quick and simple to sew.  She wore it once (begrudgingly) and apparently it has been shoved into the back of a drawer ever since, wadded up and forgotten.  

When I was picking through her clothing this morning, I stumbled across a hint of familiar green seersucker and decided that this dress would be worn a second time. I prepared myself mentally for a massive throwdown, and I kid you not, I walked into the living room and handed Elliott her clothing and she replied "Oh, I looooooove this dress!".


So, here, after months have gone by, someone appreciates my hard work.  Naturally, this had to be documented.

Little sister is modeling her big sister's hand-me-down Target mix-n-matches, which, despite their cheapness are virtually indestructible, and again this is very demoralizing in the sewing arena.  The bunny that Bennett has shoved in her mouth is affectionately (and truthfully) called "stinky bunny".  It's rarely very far from her grasp, which is unfortunate, because it sure could stand to be washed daily based on the amount of love it receives.

You know, the human spirit never fails to amaze me.  After just one little glimmer of Elliott's appreciation, all I can think about is sewing.

(For the sake of details--I purchased the seersucker at Joann a few years ago and used scraps of navy blue cotton for the yoke.  I had a small scrap of white piping and added it under the yoke for detail.  I used the 3T size with a 4T length, as the dress is very easy to customize.)

Oh, the things your kids will say.

(Note: I've had this post drafted in part for a few weeks, and after reading Maybe Matilda's post today, I got off my big rumpus and finished it up.  Rachel is truly a kindred spirit of mine.)

Seriously.  I feel like I read all of these wonderful blogs where these wonderful mothers dote on their children and photograph them beautifully and talk about how insightful and darling their children are... and I'm like, yeah, I get it, but how many seconds of the day are really like that?  On average, I'd say about 6.5.

The rest are something like this...

On our 7-minute drive to school:
Elliott: Mom, what pants are you wearing?
Me: Jeans.
Elliott: Oh, so not your black ones that you sleep in?
Me: No, I'm wearing jeans.
Elliott: ((Sigh of relief)) Oh, okay. You shouldn't wear those black ones that you sleep in.
(For the record, the "black ones that I sleep in" are yoga pants.  Heaven forbid that I drop off a four-year old to preschool in yoga pants!  And also for the record, I rarely wear my yoga pants in public.)

Here's me in my black pants with the Fashion Police hot on my tail.

Speaking of children's commentary on our clothing... do your kids ever comment on your body?  It's a blast, right?  I have this mole on the back of my leg that I'm totally self-conscious about and both of my kids mess with it whenever they have the opportunity.  They just relish any opportunity to touch it and really point it out.

And you KNOW you've made it into full-blown motherhood when you have to hold your finger up to your mouth and shoosh your children while trying on swimsuits at Target.  Heaven forbid any other fitting room patrons hear the commentary that your four-year old is about to provide. Or the questions.

Occasionally, I get on my high horse and ask for privacy in the bathroom.  On more than one occasion, Elliott has granted my request by shutting herself into the bathroom with me.  Yep, that's definitely what I meant.

For the record, the Fashion Police thinks that wiping her nose with her shirt is an acceptable alternative to a tissue.  I'm beginning to seriously question her authority on matters of proper fashion.
I recently had the great fortune of finding a one-piece bathing suit that I really love.  For me, it was a big day!  Because I stand in at just under 5 feet tall, it's not easy to find a reasonably priced one-piece suit that is flattering, modest, or even passable as appropriate swim-attire.  But shoved amidst a sea of XS string bikinis was an adorable online-return retro-styled one piece bathing suit that caught my eye... and after trying it on (please see reference above) I was practically giddy to buy it.

The first day I put my new bathing suit on to wear it out, Elliott stopped in to give her feedback.

"Mom, you look SO beautiful in your new bathing suit.

((Wait for it...))

Your bottom looks SOO BIG!"

And on that note, I'm off to crunch some celery and run a few miles in a rubber suit.

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