How to make a Paper Purse

 

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Sophie and Sofia Aren’t Babies Anymore (and that’s okay?)

 

Sofia Graduation

At the baby shower they tell you things like, “Don’t blink,” and “It’ll be college before you know it,” and “Take lots and lots of pictures, or you’ll miss it.”

Well, it turns out they’re not joking. That is a real thing. And it is happening to us, of all people. (We will accept any sympathy you can spare the next time we see you.)

See, this is the month that Sophie and Sofia leave their preschool days behind. They’re getting ready to graduate, and take on elementary school life as confident little ladies who know what they want and don’t need much help anymore. (sniff)

Yesterday there were temper tantrums and onesies and noisy toddler playdates with zero sharing or turn-taking. Today there is double-digit addition, and cooperation, and helpfulness, and new school uniforms and (Don’t say it…) kindergarten– right there on the fall calendar.

And there’s this weird little war inside your chest when these things happen, because part of you is running backwards trying to find the little baby that you lost slowly, without even knowing it was happening. You want to find where that dependent, squishy toddler wandered off, and bring her back.

But this other part of you is all energized with this intense joy and pride that your little girl is so smart now, so thoughtful and responsible, and so ready to take on the big, new world.

And still another part of you is kind of panicked because it really is a big, new world, with new puzzles and problems to solve– And what if there’s bullies? What if the teacher isn’t right for her? What if she doesn’t make friends right away?

There are a thousand tiny joys and heartbreaks both behind her and before her, and you want to make some guarantee that it’s all going to be okay. But you can’t.

All you can do is hug her tight, and tell her you’re so, so proud of who she’s becoming, and take a lot of pictures. Because at this rate, college starts roughly tomorrow.

So to the babies who made us mommies, our wise little Sophie and Sofia:

We love you. We’re unspeakably proud of who you are. And it’s totally cool if you slow down a little. Please?

We’ll be here cheering always.

xoxo,

Ana & Dani

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The Mother in the Mirror

Someday, when you get out of the house with your new baby, it will happen. It has to happen. Think of it as a rite of passage. You drag yourself, your toddler, and your newborn out the door for the first time as a mom of two. You barely manage to remember to brush your hair, because it took you 45 minutes just to get the baby fed and the toddler into unstained clothes and a clean diaper. Then you buckle them in, drive to the grocery store, put the toddler in the cart and the baby in a sling, and try to recall what the heck you need in order to survive the next week.

And at this very moment, when your brain and body are both exhausted and on overdrive, trying to complete the bare minimum shopping you have to do before the toddler gets cranky or the baby gets hungry, some smiling older woman puts a hand on your arm and says, “Oh, enjoy it while you can. It goes by so fast.”

She is probably a very nice, well-dressed woman, with her hair perfectly in order and her teeth brushed and her shoes matching her outfit, but you want to slap her right upside the head. Because yes, of course, you should be enjoying this time. What kind of monster mother wouldn’t enjoy this time? But truth is, life with tiny people is NOT always a party. And no, you do not, in fact, enjoy every waking, waking, waking moment of this. So what does that say about you? And who needs a guilt trip on top of the stresses of sleep deprivation, constant conflict with a two-year-old who hates pants, a never-ending list of work and laundry and diapering and feeding tasks, and more sleep deprivation? Nobody.

So you smile (sort of), and say, “Yes, it does go fast,” even though it feels like you will be wallowing in the trenches of poop and colic and sleeplessness for the rest of your foreseeable life. Then you push right past her as quickly as your flip flops will take you, and try to remember why you were in the soup aisle before you were so rudely accosted.

Later, if you’re still awake after the babies are in bed, you might think about that woman again. You might imagine a whole litany of scathing comebacks to use the next time someone insinuates that you’re not enjoying your children properly. But there’s good reason to just smile and nod your head. Because that woman is you. Not yet. But someday.

You’ll be older, and well-rested, and your kids will be away somewhere at a friend’s house or a school activity. You’ll visit your friend who just had a brand new baby. She’ll let you hold her and rock her on your shoulder, and you’ll smell the shampoo scent on her hair and think, “Oh. Oh, I remember this.” And something powerful will wash over you as you fish for moments and hints and flashes of your own two babies. But it won’t feel like enough. You’ll wish you had memorized their weight, their quick little breaths, the swirly cowlick on the tops of their heads. And you’ll wish that you had paused a little more often, to rock in a chair, to watch them play, to savor that time.

Today you are on the side of the mirror where there is spit up and unnecessary laundry and split peas ground into the carpet, where the car seats always smell just slightly off, and your new shirt lasts three washes before it’s christened with ketchup or juice. But someday you will be on the other side, looking back. And all of your littles will be bigs, and your new problems will be phone calls from the school about detention, or how to pay for soccer clinics and science camp at the same time, or where to put the growing collection of instruments and basketball shoes and college brochures.

And someday, on the other side of that mirror, you’ll see a woman cradling her brand new baby, hustling through the market with one hand on the cart and another on the sling, and you’ll just want to warn her that it doesn’t last long. You’ll wish that you could hold your baby like she does, one more time, and breathe that scent from the top of his head, and wrap him tighter in the sling, just a little longer. And you can’t. But she can. And you don’t want her to miss it.

xoxo,

Ana & Dani

 

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Why New Moms Need New Moms

mommy roundtableWhen my first baby was born, I had all kinds of dreams and plans for how our lives would go. There would be long walks to the park, afternoons on the beach, weekly playdates, library visits, baby yoga, the works. Some of that happened. Some of it went up in a flaming ball of fail. I half expected the occasional failures and frustrations, but what I did not anticipate was the sometimes soul-crushing solitude of motherhood.

It’s not something that gets a lot of print in the baby books. They warn you about post-partum depression and its brutal twin sister, post-partum psychosis. But they don’t tell you that what really sends you into the depths of despair isn’t the sleeplessness (well, not JUST the sleeplessness), or the unending litany of diapers and work and spit-ups and laundry and marathon nursing sessions and hormones– Oh, the hormones!… No, what really pushes you past what you can bear is that it feels as though it’s happening to you, and only you, all by yourself. And in a way, it really is.

You may have a wonderful, supportive partner right beside you every night. I did. But that didn’t make me feel any less alone when the baby woke up for the eighth time that night to nurse. You can share laundry duty and dishwashing and toddler bath time. That isn’t the same as sharing the pressure to do it perfectly, or the worry that something’s not quite right with the baby’s development, or the sheer exhaustion of constantly tending to everyone else’s needs. That’s all on one pair of shoulders, and for some sick, cosmic reason, they’re yours.

Some of us are lucky enough to be able to call our own moms and talk it out, or drop the kids off for an hour or two of break time. But these days, most of us aren’t that lucky. Due to shifts in the job market, a crappy economy, and urbanization, young parents tend to skip town and raise their families far from the people they love and trust. If you’re one of the leavers, that opens a huge gap in the place where your natural mentors and friends should be. Humans aren’t meant to live that way. From cave-painting times, we’ve been tribal animals. We need community to keep us healthy and happy.

That’s why these days, more than ever, it’s essential to build friendships and mentorships, wherever life happens to throw us. When I finally found a group of moms to talk and laugh and worry with, my baby was a toddler, and I had another newbie on the way. That little group of mommies, alike and different in a thousand ways, gave me what I needed. For the first time, I heard other moms talk about potty trials, and relationship weirdness, and food allergies, and the appalling lack of shower time, and I wasn’t alone anymore. It may have saved my sanity.

That’s why we do what we do here at Mommytrain. We want to help you find what we found: good friends who are walking the same scary/awesome path you walk. We want to build solid parenting communities, with education, fun, and plenty of talk time.

Our newest way to get there is the Mommy Roundtables, every other Friday night, from February 21st to April 4th, 2014. We keep it small, like six or fewer mamas, so that we can learn to trust one another and feel comfortable talking honestly. It’s held in a neutral location, in the cozy Mommy Lounge at Pamper & Play. Just us, no kids allowed. Sometimes we bring in experts, to help us work on marriages and partnerships and parenting. Other times we just talk shop, like mamas do.

The roundtable venue is what works best for us, but there is no right way to create the parenting community you need. In fact, your mama tribe may change and grow as your kids move on to new stages of life. If you can’t make it out to our roundtable nights, start where you are right now. There may be other new moms in your neighborhood, or at your library’s toddler story time, or even the local gym. All it takes is one solid connection, mom to mom, and you can build from there. One day, you might look back on that first meeting as the start of better, fuller years for yourself, your partner, and your kids.

xox,

Ana & Dani

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We’re Thankful for You

Friday, November 15, 2013

thanksgiving craft

We might say it a lot, but it’s true. We’re thankful for you. All of you. Especially those of you who joined us for the recent Veteran’s Day get-together at Pamper & Play. You guys are like our new best friends.  If you weren’t there, you missed some seriously fun times. We didn’t have much of an agenda. No speakers or big activities. Just a simple Thanksgiving craft for the mamas on the patio, while the littles played inside.  And people, those hours are the best– when it’s just you and a few other moms, chatting and laughing and crafting and joking around together, with no runny noses to wipe and no toddlers to entertain. You should’ve been there.

The kids were so happy inside with the Pamper & Play staff that they didn’t even come looking for us at all, for two whole hours! Do you know how much we can gossip and carry on in two hours? A lot. I mean, really, that’s what this MommyTrain thing is all about, right? Meeting people who get it. Making friends. Hanging out with women who have walked a mile or two in shoes that look a heck of a lot like yours. That’s why we do this.  And yes, there was the customary MommyTrain raffle, and giveaways, and Lunch Right lunches, and Clean Bee Baby services, but those ended up being nothing more than icing on a very sweet cake.

So yeah, you guys rock. And we are most certainly doing this again. Maybe weekly. That’s how much we like you.

xox,

Ana & Dani

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Milestones: It Happened One Playdate

milestones it happened one playdate blogWe didn’t suspect a thing. For four years now we’ve been getting together, the four of us mommies and our brood. We mamas would sit and have coffee, and cry over our breastfeeding woes, and lament the extortion of organic baby food, and coo over those irresistible designer baby sandals that get lost on the very first outing. Every once in a while somebody would have to stop and nurse a wailing daughter, or redistribute the wooden blocks to the squabbling toddlers, or quiet a hungry girl with a GoGo squeeZ snack. It took a bit of the wind out of our sails, to break the flow of conversation (precious minutes of grown-up interaction slipping by!) for the constant interruption of soothing and entertaining the crowd of babies. But we made it work. It was the best part of our week, quite often.

And then… This playdate happened. It started like any other playdate, but before we knew what hit us, the unthinkable had transpired just ten feet from the table where we sat sipping our lattes…
Our babies grew up. I mean, yes, they were still only three or four years old. But one minute they were side by side on the slobbery, toy-strewn rug, living their separate toddler existences. The next, they had set the push mowers aside and started to actually play. Together. Like big kids. With role play and dress-up and perfect mimicry of our mannerisms and grownup mommy chatting idiosyncrasies.
They put on a show for us. For which they told us to silence our cell phones. (What? No mommy guilt here.) They took care of their younger siblings, even sat them down at the table for a few rounds of GoGo squeeZ applesauce. And, I mean, we could have taken advantage and gone on with mommy group time. Heck, we could have had a full-blown adult conversation on the economy for the very first time with next to NO interruptions, but we didn’t. It was too enthralling to watch our babies turning into little girls. Into friends, like us.

xoxo

Ana & Daniela

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