Pixie Dust Planning on Etsy.Com

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Real Mom Mission Statement

Sometimes I write my blog with a feeling that the mothers who are reading it are my gal pals. They know me, have coffee with me, and have shared a story or two of their own trials in life. That is the way I write. I want you to be my partners in crime and for other mothers across the world who often forget that they are not alone. In fact, as a writer, I would go so far as to say that it is my "Mission Statement." I want all mothers, fathers, legal guardians, foster parents, or any other wonderful human being who has taken on the hardest job in the world to know that, no matter what your style of parenting, how many children you have, no matter the differences that separate, someone out there feels the way you do. AND IT IS OK. You don't have to be June Cleaver, a Real Housewife of Some Rich City, or even be the PTA mom. My mission is to get the message out that motherhood is messy, hectic, hard, and sometimes downright unpleasant but all of those feelings are normal. As long as you love your babies to the moon and back, you are entitled to have days where you feel like it might be nice if they could stay on that moon for an hour or so before coming back.

The thing that saddens me most about motherhood, is there's a lot of judgement going around putting pressures on us as parents on top of all the other issues parents are concerned about. From the moment woman become child bearing age, judgment is on our trail. Is it ok or not ok to use birth control, when is the right time to become sexually active, do women and men have different standards they should be held to, when is the right time to get married and then to start a family, is working while raising children acceptable, does being a stay at home make a woman a creature with less value, what kind of birthing technique is acceptable, to breastfeed or bottle feed, to co-sleep or have a nursery...the questions, the judgments, and often the unsolicited advice are a never ending steam of chatter. That is where the outside pressure to raise our babies the best way possible comes from.

However, where does the positive support come from? Who is telling our daughters, teenagers, sisters, best friends, wives, patients, and partners that whatever they decide really is fine. There is no perfect model to which all children should be raised by nor is there one for the perfect mother and wife. No mother should ever feel uncomfortable with a parenting decision she has made because she was pressured into it.

One of the most common of those pressures today is the debate over bottle feeding versus breast feeding. There are countless organizations devoted to helping new mothers learn how to breastfeed, support them when they feel they would rather rip their breasts off than breast feed for one more second, and even lactation consultants who visit new moms only moments after they deliver their little miracle.

I hate "all" statements because not ever person or situation is the same. For example, with my first son I had planned to try breast feeding but knew I had obstacles to overcome and wasn't very comfortable with doing it regardless. We had other issues pop during delivery and postpartum for both my son and myself, so breastfeeding was the last worry on my list of priorities. Apparently, that did not matter. I had so many visits from the LC that were more like being visited by a salesmen while you are busy bleeding out buckets of blood postpartum, not sleeping, and trying to wheel yourself to the NICU to visit your first born. Sounds like a ball, eh? Not the right time to try and sell me on an idea.

To make a long booby story a short booby story, I ended up with a sign on my door bluntly telling the LC's that they would be be shot upon entering my humble hospital suite. You wouldn't dare mess with a mom who is suffering Postpartum Depression and who's baby is in the NICU , would you? Didn't think so.

For the birth of our second son, about three years later, I knew better and was fully prepared to advocate for myself and my strict plan to not breastfeed at all. I was prepared for a full on war with not only my perinatologist but with the nurses who would care for us in the days at the hospital. Every hospital is different because I had a totally different experience than before. In fact, my admitting nurse to the Mommy and Baby Unit about two hours after I delivered my son said that out of the five women in the unit, only one mom was breastfeeding and was having a very hard time with it. She commended me on making a decision that was not an easy one and being ready to advocate for me and my brand new little angel. I was elated to find there were nurses out there who were perfectly fine letting the mother make her own mothering choices, whether they liked them or not. I actually got more support from that nurse than from an online group of woman that I have relied on as dear friends for many years.

As I said, breastfeeding is just one of many of the hot topics in society, much as many of the different that come with parenthood.  I started writing with a specific purpose when my first, and at the time only, son was just passing his first birthday. I was coming out of that awful fog that surrounds new, sleep deprived parents in the first year of their child's life. I was determined to make a place for mom's to feel safe, comfortable, and confident in the way their were (safely) raising their brood.

Not every day is a Huggie's commercial, full of happy smiling babies who sleep and coo and cuddle next to mommy who is in full hair, make up, and an all white dress. (Those parts always crack me up. Since I become a mommy, I believe the color white has been eliminated from my closet either by choice or by baby defecation.) As REAL mom's we all have days we would like to stay in bed, drown out the noise outside, and watch tv all day. Sometimes we get mad at our kids and put them in timeout for their sake just as much as for our own. It is one of the hardest things in the world to and if we are honest with ourselves, we set each other up to be better parents and raise better children.

Who cares if the only clean room in your house is the one in your Pinterest board of dream homes. Who cares if you are wearing comfy pants from a pile on your floor and that you think your make up may even have reached it's expiration date. Life is messy, parenting is hard, and our children are worth every bit of it.

I hope you all find this a place where you can be honest about your adventures through motherhood and will enjoy reading stories about mine. This blog is for REAL mom's who know that life isn't always rainbows and butterflies and that when woman get together and discuss the gritty realities of parenthood, it makes us all better people for it.

I shall end my lengthy post at three in the morning, almost four, in my bed in California by with one humorous thing and one question for you readers. Two hours ago, my seven month old baby woke up whining for a bottle because eating three eight ounce bottles and have of the produce department today wasn't enough. In the moment I was rocking him in the crook of my arm, holding the bottle in the right, and reading a book on my Kindle in my left, I thought of words of wisdom spoken in the literary gold, Go The F*ck to Sleep. " The eagles who soar through the sky are at rest/And the creatures who crawl, run, and creep./I know you're not thirsty. That's bullshit. Stop lying./Lie the fuck down, my darling, and sleep."

Now that you are laughing because you too believe and have lived the words spoken in that book, it is time for me to learn a little more about you, my fellow reality parent partners in crime. Share with me what piece of parenting you have been unfairly judged about, whether it was from a stranger, a friend, or a family member. How did it make you feel to have someone else tell you how to raise your child? Know you are not alone and that you don't have to be June Cleaver to be a great mom.

Til next time my dearest friends, ciao.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Have You Become a Facebook Fan?

I am hoping to go from 123 Facebook page "likes" to 150 by the end of the "Read an Ebook a Week" promotion, which ends March 10.

Do you think you might be lucky 150? The person to become 150 will get a free copy of my Ebook. If they already have it, they will get a free copy of "Mommyhood: The Ugly Truth, Volume 2" which hasn't even been released it!

So spread the word and "like" my Facebook author page. The more fans we continue to get, the more prices I will give away!!


Teeth on Time

Well it has finally happened! There were many of us who were skeptical this day would ever arrive. Some of us starting to wonder, would my youngest son be the side act at a Circus? The Toothless Wonder! He will gum you to pieces!"

My first son, Little Dude, received his bottom front two teeth in the same day at four months old. We were honestly baffled because he had no teething symptoms. The only give away was a lot of drooling, but often babies will show signs of teething before popping a tiny ninja knife. (If you have not had your hand in a baby's mouth, whether they have one tooth or ten, they will leave your hand looking like it just had a brief encounter with a pocket sized Great White Shark.) It was an exciting day when the Little Dude popped not one but two teeth at such a young age and with such ease. I thought that the drama of teething had to be a myth because this was a walk in the park.Silly, naive, newbie mom I was. My first mistake was thinking you can compare your children.

Our second Drama Llama, Littlest Dude, has been as different from his older llama brother in every possible way. He was born three weeks early and decided it was time to get rolling...and quick! We showed up to the Labor and Delivery room and I was already 3 cms dilated. I couldn't even get that far after nine hours of drug induced labor at 39 weeks with my oldest son!

Once that cutie entered the world, in an amazing minute and a half versus my first sons 34 hour labor complete with two hours or labor, the differences didn't stop there. He was quiet, calm, easy-going, and peaceful. He was also blond! The two boys had very similar faces but it was clear that Drama Llama #2 was going to be a whole different show.

You would think I had learned my lesson, that my boys were so different from each other and should not be compared to one another. However, there is apparently something I suffer from called "Newbie versus Newer Baby Comparison". Newbie mothers have their things, second time mothers have theirs.

As soon as my Littlest Dude hit four months, I eagerly searched his month when he woke up in the morning, before and after naps, and before bedtime. He was drooling so much I thought we should get a hot tub because all that drool would fill it up for sure. My husband said no, silly practical husbands.

Months five and six passed in the same manor and I was starting to grow worried. I was convinced this little baby of mine would grow into a man and find the woman of his dreams. She would be sweet, beautiful, loving, and caring. She would be the daughter I never had. They would become engaged and my new daughter in law would invite me to help plan their extravagant wedding. That's when I would have to break the shameful news; my son would have to eat baby food at their wedding and this would be more than his beautiful bride to be could handle. The wedding would be cancelled, my son would be heartbroken, and all because of his teeth! (A moms imagination can run wild when left unattended...)

With two days looming before his seventh month birthday, it looked like we had averted his wedding crisis. I was cleaning his gums with his special Elmo baby tooth and gum cleaner and rubbing them down before bed when something quite sharp poked me. I ran over it again and again. It had finally happened!! My little boy had become a man. OK, even I can't get quite that carried away here but he finally did have a tooth and I was thrilled! He even squeezed it in while he was still six months old.

My oldest son was in the nursery with me "helping" to put his baby brother to bed. Both of us started a new dance called "The Baby Has a Tooth Dance". It looks exactly how it sounds so be grateful you were not there. My husband came up the stairs to see what exciting event had caused us to break out in song and dance (although I am thinking he is finally figuring out now much sets it off). I think he too wishes he had not seen Little Dude and I busting a move to Littlest Dude's new tooth accomplishment.

Part of me was happy knowing his body is doing what it should be and I don't have to wonder if something is wrong. The other part of me learned a lesson that they really are two different little boys. Little Dude didn't get his first tooth early and Littlest Dude didn't get his first tooth late. They each got their first tooth exactly when they were supposed to. On their own time.

Special Deals for my Readers!

As a proud author through Smashwords.com, I have partnered up with them for a promotion this week called "Read an Ebook Week". It goes from March 4- March 10 and promotes not only indie authors but the readers who help make our books a success! For the entire week, authors who are part of the promotion will be offering their books at a discounted price via a coupon code that can be entered directly through the author's Smashwords Author Page. Enter a code, get a book for a great discounted price, and promote reading! It is a winning situation for everyone involved.

This is my first year taking part in this promotion and I am willing to make a deal with all my new readers out there! If I can sell 50 books (in honor of my coupon code REW50) by March 9, I will release, "Mommyhood: The Ugly Truth, Volume 2" on March 10, the last day of the promotion, and will even give it a discounted price as well! So spread the word and let's get some new fans reading about my adventures in Mommyhood! If you have not yet purchased Volume 1, follow this link and enter coupon code REW50 for 50% off my book! https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ShannonHarrigan

I would also love to hear what books you have purchased because of this wonderful promotion. I am not just an author and mommy but an avid reader (I know, how do I find the time. Imagine this; a toilet with a locked door. Four hands sticking their chubby, wriggling fingers under the door, smearing my floor with what I can only hope is peanut butter. My laptop on my lap, a story I am trying to read in one window and yet another story I am trying to write in another. It's not a pretty picture, but it's reality.)

Looking forward to seeing my book sales increase, learn about some of your new book purchases, and make some new moms laugh today.

Happy Reading!

Drama Llama's Mama

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Occupation: Mom?

Recently, my husband and I have found ourselves in a situation much like many other American's right now. Out of a job, in debt, and about to lose our home. I can't throw myself a pity party because I know that a vast majority of the people reading this are experiencing the same thing. I wish I could say knowing that we were all suffering together offered us some comfort, but all it does is make us feel bad for one another...and then realize we are competing for all the same jobs.

I haven't worked since I was put on bed rest with our first son sometime in my second trimester. That was four years ago. I was great at my job and made a decent paycheck for a girl with no degree. I had only life experience and  work experience. I was just 24 when I was given the job and only weeks away from marrying my husband. I had landed a wonderful job at that point in life when nothing but possibilities lie ahead and no one or nothing has had a chance to shatter the illusion yet.

My husband and I continued our daily grind for a few years, graduating from a shoe box apartment to a slightly larger duplex in the outskirts of a more affluent neighborhood. We had been trying, unsuccessfully, to start our little family and this home was a great place to keep trying. We must have sensed it because not even a month after moving into our new place, we became pregnant. It was a very exciting time. All mothers remember what it felt like the first time they discovered they were going to have a baby. It is a feeling you can never fully recapture again, no matter how many children you may have later in life. There is just something magical about the first born child. Anyone who says any differently just doesn't want their other children to find out.

Since it was a small challenge for us to become pregnant, of course it would make sense that this stubborn fetus I was carrying around wasn't going to make the pregnancy easy either. After a series of complications, I was put on full bed rest until I reached term and that was the end of my working days.

I stayed home with my oldest son, enjoying my role as a stay at home mom. We had faced a few financial hardships with only one income but we felt it was worth the sacrifice to be able to have one of us home raising our son.

Just after his second birthday in October, the baby bug bit me. Those damn bugs bite hard! By Christmas I was pregnant with son number two. Complications were much more dangerous this time around and we struggled to afford my constant care and finding care for our oldest son.

After our second little trouble maker was born, we had no intention of me going back to work. We were to broke to survive well on one income but we were also to broke to afford day care for two children. Since life never goes as planned, I had two minor surgeries in the three months postpartum and had a very difficult time recovering from one in particular. This sounds like a great time for my husband to get laid off, don't you think?

So here we are, up at midnight for the countless night in a row, applying for jobs and getting nothing in return. Today we realized, if we were going to keep a roof over our heads, we were going to need to see if I was "hireable" as well. It's a long shot, but a parent will stop at nothing to find a way to provide for their children.

Since it has been four years since I left the workplace, it would be a grave understatement to say my resume needed some fine tuning. I included my work history, skill set, and other qualifications and sent it off to my Aunt for review. As a hiring manager herself, she has been helping my husband and I make our resumes as top notch as they can be.

My resume looked great....except for the giant gaping hole that has been my life as a stay at home mother. She wanted to include my time at home with my boys somehow, but that was the question. How do you include motherhood on a resume? Lifelong job, pays nothing, work weekends, holidays, nights, and even in your sleep. No vacation, sick time, insurance, or 401k. My bosses would love to write my a letter of recommendation but one still sleeps in a crib and the other can't even spell his name. 

I researched a little bit and there doesn't seem to be a very clear cut answer. I noticed the most common method was to include a sentence about being on a work hiatus for motherhood in the cover letter, but not all applications require one.

Should being a full time stay at home mom be listed under job history or other qualifications? Or does it simply have no place on a resume?

In the end, I added subtle information about being a stay at home mother and left it at that. If they wanted to know why I dropped off the face of the workforce planet, they could ask me in the interview that I am holding my breath I get.

In the meantime, I would love to hear what other mothers, working and stay at home, have to think about this topic. Do you believe we should be able to include our work as mothers on a resume or is this just another one of the sacrifices mothers make?