‘Coz We Are Living In A Material World …

Last year I noticed that my oldest son (then 8 years old) was starting to become obsessed with materialistic stuff. Always talking about the size of this or that house, the cool new toys he saw advertised, expensive cars, etc.

He wasn’t lacking anything he needed (or even wanted for that matter) but I realized that I haven’t been doing a great job at teaching him the difference between what he needs and what he wants. I knew I needed to talk to him. During our trips to the city I would give him change to give the needy, but I didn’t feel that he really understood. I started thinking of what I can do to get him more involved.

I then met these two wonderful women who ran a small organization called “A Cake from the Heart”. They would recruit people to bake birthday cakes for children whose parents really couldn’t afford to buy or bake them one.

This caught my son’s attention right away. In our house birthdays are HUGE. I love to bake so I make so many cakes for him and his brothers. A small cake for their actual birthday at home, a cake to take to school to share with their friends, a cake for their party … and each time it has a theme and a design. For him to hear that there are children who might not even get a regular simple cake for their birthday broke his heart. I decided to get my two older kids involved with this.

In one month we baked 17 cakes for needy children. We asked for their ages and tried to find out what they liked (soccer, dinosaurs, etc) so that we can make the cake as fun as possible.

The boys helped me bake and design the cakes. I took the boys with me the first time we went to deliver a cake to the organization. When we stepped inside my boys saw all the second hand items that other people had donated. They saw clothes, toys, baby gear and more.

On the way home, my older son asked me what else we can do to help. He said he never thought about how hard it was for some children to just be able to afford clothes and how sad he felt for them.

We decided together that twice a year (when we de-clutter the house) we would take the toys and clothes that they have outgrown (or got bored of) and donate it to needy families. My son even got a few of his friends involved.

Around the holiday season we got his class involved and this year we are doing a school-wide project collecting gifts and clothes for the needy.

As hard as the experience was for him, I think it opened his eyes to a world he didn’t realize existed and helped him become a little less obsessed with the materialistic world and a little more driven with helping others.


It Takes a Village

When my oldest son was 2 years old, my husband and I decided that we wanted to have another baby. I got pregnant so quickly with my first son, I never even gave it a second thought. But this time, months went by and every month was a devastating personal defeat.

About a year later I woke up one morning and just felt it! Took a pregnancy test and finally had that pink stripe on the stick. I was so excited! I already started planning how I would tell all my friends and family, took out all my maternity clothes from storage, and imagined how I would set up the new nursery.

Around 6 weeks later I had a rough night. I kept tossing and turning but wasn’t sure what was keeping me up. That morning, I woke up to heavy bleeding. I couldn’t breathe. I knew what it was but was in denial. I kept thinking about every other reason this might be happening trying to ignore the knot in my heart. I went to my doctor and found out I had something called a “chemical pregnancy”. A pregnancy that just didn’t stick. The doctor tried to assure me it wasn’t a miscarriage but call it what you will. I was pregnant and dreaming of a second child and then … I wasn’t.

I went home and cried my eyes out. Took a deep breath, put on my make up and went to work. I thought being busy would help distract me. Boy … was I wrong!

Sitting in my office, a close friend walked in and noticed right away that something was wrong. As soon as she asked me what was going on – the waterworks turned on. I told her I had a headache and just wasn’t feeling good. I could tell she didn’t believe me but didn’t push it.  I went to wash my face and sat back down to work. A co-worker came in to talk to me about something and as soon as I looked at her, I felt the tears slide down my cheeks. I decided I needed to go home.

I went to my boss planning to tell him that I wasn’t feeling great and I needed to go home. As soon as I walked into his office he looked at me full of concern and asked me what was wrong. I immediately started crying and told him what had happened. I couldn’t believe I was telling him something so personal. I never opened up about the things I was going through. Never “aired out my family laundry”. He listened to me and let me express my grief and then he told me how sorry he was. He shared with me that his wife had also gone through a miscarriage and he knew how horrible it felt. He told me to take off as much time as I needed and that he would bring my 2 year old home from the staff daycare.

That night I decided that going to work the next day would be good for me. It would keep me busy and preoccupied. The next morning, a friend walked into my office and asked me why I had left early the previous day. While I was planning on telling everyone I wasn’t feeling well, my mouth opened and my story came out. I decided to just be honest with anyone that showed concern for me.

I wasn’t sure why I was telling everyone my story, it was so unlike me, but I knew it was helping me cope with my feelings. I found out that so many people I knew had gone through something similar! There wasn’t much advice to get but knowing I wasn’t alone helped.

A few months later I became pregnant with my second son and recently also had a third. Raising my beautiful children is unbelievably rewarding but parenting is HARD. It’s full of struggles, concerns, hardships and, sometimes, just plain aggravation.  Being able to talk to others parents, ask for advice and share experiences helps through it all.

I decided that I wasn’t going to hide behind my painted smile anymore pretending everything was perfect. I was going to be real and honest. People always said “it takes a village” and I realized that, all along, I had my village.



*If you need someone to talk to please always feel free to reach out! @almost_sane_mom (twitter) — almostsanemom@gmail.com

Meant to be a Mother

I got married at 23 and couldn’t wait to be a mother. At 24, when I got pregnant, I had already read all the pregnancy books and subscribed to all the parenting magazines. I felt like a pro. I had my birthing plan all mapped out.  My pregnancy was flawless. None of the morning sickness I read about. I felt great.

But then … the 9th month and reality hit. The pain, the swelling and my due date coming and going. My doc suggested we induce as he estimated the size of my son to be “quite large”. I wasn’t having any of it. I already pictured my water breaking and the excitement of running to the hospital. My bag was all packed and ready for me in the car “just in case”. Well … week 40 turned to 41 and then … 42. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sleep. Doc said it was time.

OK, so one snag in the plan wasn’t the worst. I’ll be induced but then everything else will fall into place.

Contractions hit hard and the epidural didn’t work. My doctor told me I need a c-section. I was as stubborn as they come. No way! I am not having a c-section. That was not part of the plan.

But then … 28 hours later my fever spiked and my blood pressure dropped. Before I knew what was happening, my husband was signing forms and I was being rushed into emergency surgery. I passed out before my son was born. I wasn’t even conscious to receive my baby! I woke up a few minutes later. They showed me my perfect baby boy and I immediately fell in love. (I even quoted Monica Geller from Friends “No woman will ever be good enough for you!”) As they wheeled me off into recovery, I pictured holding him in my arms and nursing him and creating that amazing bond that I read about everywhere. “Breast is best”.

But then … my fever wouldn’t go down and I couldn’t hold my baby for 24 hours. In those 24 hours the nurses held him, and cared for him and fed him with a bottle. By the time I got to hold my son, he wouldn’t go near my breast. It was too much work for him. He wanted the bottle. Again, my stubbornness took over. I read that it could be hard but you should just keep with it. So I did. I didn’t see or feel any milk coming out but it was the natural way so I was sure he was getting what he needed from me. I was his mommy!

But then … I opened his diaper to change him and saw BLOOD in his urine. I frantically called the nurse in and she told me it was brick stain from not being fed adequately and she gave me a bottle of formula to give him. The lactation consultant at the hospital suggested that I try nursing him every time he’s hungry but then also supplement with a bottle. I went home and did just that. But every time I tried to nurse him he would scream and cry and claw at me until I gave him the bottle. And then while giving him a bottle, I would cry that I wasn’t able to breastfeed my baby. It went on like this for a month.

I wasn’t able to deliver him naturally, I wasn’t able to hold him right after he was born and I wasn’t able to breastfeed him. I felt like a failure at motherhood and it had only been a few weeks. I felt that I wasn’t meant to be a mother.

But then … my mom sat me down one day and opened my eyes. She told me that the bond between a mother and her baby is not created through breastfeeding alone. I could hold him close to me while giving him his bottle and create that same bond. Love him and look into his eyes. Motherhood was hard and it was only going to get harder (thanks for the encouragement!) but the best mom is the mom who does her best. Only HER best. Not the neighbor’s best. Not the best that was written about in the magazines. She needs to do what’s best for her and her family. I realized that crying while feeding my son was definitely not the best. Not for him and not for me. At his next feeding, I prepared that bottle and sat with him in the rocking chair. Looked into his big brown eyes and felt that connection. Felt the love and bond between us that 9.5 years later is still there and still strong.

I was meant to be a mother. I was meant to be HIS mother and I was doing MY best.