parenting

How To Be A Parent 

Not too long ago I found myself back in my counselor’s office basically weeping over being a parent. I found myself paralyzed in fear over parenting Wyatt. Like, I could not do it because I was terrified of messing it up. Really of messing HIM up. And I can’t mess up a kid who already has a messed up beginning, right!? The pressure! My God! After a couple of weeks, my counselor looked at me and said: “Where is the Courtney I met all those years ago? The one who did not give a shit about what other people did or said? Where did she go?” And I was like: Dang it. You are right, sister. She got lost. I lost her! I lost her in all of the stupid crap out there that tells you how to be a parent. 

And so I spent the next few months trying to find and get that girl back. And good news! SHE’S BACK. And she don’t give two shits. (JK but not really) 

So this is for all of us who got lost in the parenting books and studies and classes and what everyone else is saying and doing. This is for all of us who found ourselves again. Because being a parent is hard enough without all the extra noise out there telling you how to be a parent to the kid only you know best. Let’s do this. 

How to be a parent in like almost 20 steps:

Do not give your baby formula under any circumstances. It causes brain damage. Breast is always, always best. Unless that isn’t an option, then formula is great. Drink up! But beware, giving your child the nutrients they need is being a good parent that can also kill your child. 

Do not ever put your child down. You should wear them at all times. This is nurturing the bond between you two and increases their felt safety. You should put your child down because this helps them learn to crawl and walk and do things on their own which will increase independence and it will be the downfall of your attachment with them. Baby wear until middle school.  

You should come up with a routine and stick with it always. But don’t do that because then you will never be able to do anything ever again and will feel like you might die. Schedules are very important for children that should be kept exactly always and never. 

Do not leave your child in a room by themselves to fall asleep. Unless you want to let them learn to self soothe which is a great coping skill that also makes children feel abandoned and like they are going to be eaten by Voldemort. 

Don’t spank. Ever. Under any circumstances. Unless you believe in discipline that produces drug addicts. Because that’s what spanking does. It makes your child more likely to do drugs. 

Do not put your child in time out. It is scientifically proven to be ineffective and damaging to your child’s brain and heart. You will actually destroy your child as a human being if you place them in time out. 

Always speak to your children like Mother Theresa would. Do not raise your voice ever. Raising your voice causes your child to undergo unnecessary trauma. And trauma quite literally changes the shape of your child’s brain. 

You should be aware of your parenting triggers before you become a parent. Is it crying? Whining? Being completely sleep deprived? Maybe all of the above? Again, you should know these before having children. Do not give in to your triggers. Keep your cool always. Do not get frustrated. Losing your cool will guarantee a lifetime of counseling for your child. It will also give them the same triggers you have when they have their own children. Relax!  

Always give your child 13 bajillion choices. Any more than 13 bajillion and you are encouraging entitlement. Any less than 13 bajillion and you’re just being plain neglectful.  

Do not avert your eyes from your child at any time during the day. Averting your eyes from your child causes your child to have a shorter attention span. If you do have the balls to let your eyes wander from your jewel, well done, you have just given your child ADHD. 

When your child is throwing a tantrum do not show any signs of anything on your face. Always remain neutral. If you laugh that gives them a positive reaction and they will continue to throw down. If you show frustration that gives them a negative reaction which makes their brain go into flight or fight mode. Leave them alone. Stay with them. Let them throw the tantrum and ignore them. Put them in a safe place and let them work it out. Contain them with your arms, rocking back and forth and whispering words of love in their ears. 

Your child should watch tv anywhere from no minutes a day up to 3 hours. It’s best for their brains if they see no electronic screen until 5 years of age. 1 hour of tv a day starting at age 2 is good for your child which also causes shorter attention spans, hyperactivity and makes your child’s brain smaller. 30 minutes of tv is best starting at age 1. 

When playing with your child always let them lead. Your child is in charge and should make all play related decisions. Do not ever decline an invitation to play. Unless you want them to learn how to play independently which is a developmental milestone that also causes aggression in children. 

Do not do things for your child if they are able to do it themselves. They will never be able to grow into functioning adults. Continue to do everything for your child. They need you and this is nurturing for your child’s relationship with you. If you want your child to be able to be in a healthy relationship in the future you should continue doing everything always and never for your child. 

Do not ever say No to your child. You should always say Yes. Unless you can’t for safety reasons say Yes then you should come up with a creative way to not say No. You should tell your child No sometimes. This helps them understand rules and boundaries. Do not negotiate with your child. Communicate to them who is the boss. 

Do not use sticker charts as a way to reward your child. Don’t reward your child for anything. This causes entitlement and you can expect your child to live with you forever. 

Sometimes you will need to go with your gut. You will need to make in the moment decisions with and for your child. You should always prepare for these situations even if you do not know what they will ever be. Every single moment is a teachable one that will make or break your attachment with your child. Do not mess up. Feel confident in yourself! 

Don’t ever wake your child up. Unless they are napping and you want them to sleep at night. A child should nap between 1.5-3 hours daily. There should be exactly 5 hours in between the morning wake up, nap, and bedtime. Do not make your child go to sleep. They will tell you when and if they are tired.

You should cherish every moment of parenting. Parenting your children is a grace that you should also not feel pressured to enjoy every moment because that’s ludicrous. Enjoy every single moment always and sometimes. 

Easy enough, right!? Go forth. You’ve TOTALLY got this. 

Mornings With A Toddler: A One Act Play

Open scene on dad in shower, mom laying in bed, and toddler waking up crying. 

Mom: Good morning, buddy! 

Toddler (crying): Want to go eat. 

Mom: Okay. Let’s go. What do you want to eat? 

Toddler: Peanut butter sandwich and banana. 

[Mom fixes peanut butter sandwich and cuts up banana while toddler sits and cries because he wants all the foods NOW.]

Toddler (eats bite of sandwich and starts crying): Don’t like it. Want pasta. Want turkey. 

Mom: You love peanut butter! Let’s take some bites! Pasta and turkey aren’t for breakfast. Maybe we can have those for lunch or dinner. Mmmm bananas. 

Toddler (crying): DON’T LIKE IT. Go lay in mommy’s bed. Want cars! 

Mom: Okay. Well, you have to eat something for breakfast and you can lay in mommy’s bed after you eat. You can have your cars when you start eating. Would you like something else? Eggs? Sausage? 

Toddler (SCREAM CRIES LOUDER): DON’T LIKE IT. GET DOWN. 

[Gets toddler down because coffee has not been made yet and mornings are not safe until coffee has been consumed.]

Dad walks in. 

Mom (looks at dad with semi crazy eyes): This is why I don’t do breakfast. 

Toddler (sobbing hysterically): I WANT CARSSSSSS. 

Mom and Dad: You may have your cars when you eat your breakfast. 

Puts toddler back in high hair. 

Toddler (crying): I want cars. 

Dad: Eat your food. 

Toddler (crying): I WANT CARSSSS. 

Dad: If you want your cars you need to start eating. 

Toddler (eats food happily like this is the first time he’s had this discussion with an adult, because WHY?) 

Dad leaves to go to work. Before dad leaves, mom looks at him with a “Don’t you dare ask me what I did today” look because, THIS, this is what I’m going to do all day. Hugs. XOXO. 

Toddler: I all done. Want to get down. 

Mom: Let’s take two more bites of banana because you’re two! 

Toddler: I don’t like baby bite. Not like it. 

Mom: All the bites of banana taste the same. The size doesn’t matter. Just eat two. 

Toddler (starts crying): DON’T LIKE BABY BITE. 

Mom (shoves two pieces of banana in toddler’s mouth): YAY you did it! You can get down and go play! 

End scene as toddler runs off to go play and mom lays head on kitchen table because, how is it only 7:50 a.m.? 

Because Laughing Is Better Than Crying: Part 2

Because toddlers simultaneously make me want to 1) sob uncontrollably while laying in the fetal position 2) eat their faces off because they are so cute 3) laugh out loud 4) pull my hair out and 5) lose my will to live. You can read part 1 here.

I would like to ask my doctor for a Xanax prescription. Because, meal time with a toddler.

My husband and I have started having “second dinner” because 5:30 p.m., really? Unrelated: why did I have to unbutton my jeans while sitting the other night?

This afternoon I sat on the couch checking Instagram while my toddler blew a piece of trash around the living room. YOLO, ya know?

Why is Wyatt on the ground crying? I wouldn’t let him scratch a mole off my face. So there’s that.

Did you know you can “read books wrong?” Yeah, me either.

He asks for snacks all day and refuses to eat at meals. Again, YOLO! 

I don’t understand the whole: “I’ve been up all night for all of the nights with my toddler but I #wouldn’twanttobeanywhereelse” mentality. Have you ever heard of in your own bed asleep? Because that’s always the exact place I’d rather be.

But have you ever stepped on a matchbox car? Because that is the exact way my child is going to learn how to cuss.

Because what’s worse? Cutting your arm tendon like the guy from 127 Hours or trying to explain anything to a toddler?

Hate (v): to cancel a play date after your friend has already told her toddler about it. Used in a sentence: So. Yeah. Buddy. We actually aren’t going to play with Emma today because she is sick their hearts are full of hate. [56 hours later and we’re still talking about playing with freaking Emma] LET IT GO, FOR CRAPS SAKE.

I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy telling him he cannot bring 27 cars with him to church.

How many words can two ears hear in one day before they explode? Asking for a friend.

The good news? I finally finished blowing and filling up the kiddie pool in our backyard. The bad news? Summer is over.

Want to know what life with a toddler is like? Have a friend set 19 random alarms that will go off during the night. Run a full marathon tomorrow. This will actually be my next baby shower gift.

Do I work out? I carry around 30 lbs of dead weight because my toddler “fell and hurt knee.” Two week ago. So yeah, I work out. Is there anything else?

My favorite part about dinner is waiting for the bowel movement my toddler will inevitably have. Nothing wets the appetite quite like a runny BM halfway through the meal. Except the opposite of that.

Try to explain rest period at the pool to a napkin. That is life with a toddler.

Okay buddy, you can play with my thongs you pulled out of my drawer. Said no mom ever to her toddler.

One time I served a broken cracker. One time I peeled his banana. One time I opened the crayons at a restaurant. One time I gave him grapes when he asked for grapes… Surely this is what The Bible meant when it said, “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” No?

On Laughing And Spanking

I don’t remember how old I was or what exactly I did. I was probably old enough to know better, but whatever. It wasn’t my first and it definitely wasn’t my last. I was getting smarter back in those days. Not smarter like, making better decisions, smarter. No sir. But I was getting smarter like, snarky and I can outwit you and think on my feet and make you laugh when you really weren’t wanting to laugh, smarter. Yes. [Editor’s note: I’m sure I was SUCH A JOY to parent. Except I don’t think so.]

And so on this certain day of whatever year it was, I stood in the foyer of my childhood home, awaiting yet another spanking from my dad. Me sweating it out. He giving a speech of a lifetime and preparing his arm for the activity that lay ahead. There were bogus statements made like, “this hurts me more than this hurts you” and “I’m doing this because I love you.” There was a “heartfelt apology” on my behalf.

And then the game began.

As the spanking was about to go down I though, I KNOW HOW TO TRICK! I will make him laugh. You can’t discipline and laugh at the same time!! I will win this game old man. I. Will. Win. And so I gave it my best effort. I really did. I told some jokes. Good, solid jokes. I got some laughs. I relaxed my tense body because, this was working. (!!!!)

Then out of nowhere my dad looks me dead in the eyes and says, “You know, I can laugh and spank at the same time.” AND THEN HE DID. I swear to you. Stone cold. He laughed and spanked me at the same time. I may or may not have been yelling things like: BUT YOU LAUGHED!! THIS IS ABSURD! HOW CAN YOU DO THAT!? MY JOKES WERE SO FUNNY! OWWWW! WHAT THE HECK, MAN!?!

And then last night, we were eating dinner and Wyatt was putting on a legit comedy show. Like, we may start charging actual dollars, legit comedy show. [Someone help me. I see exactly one trillion parent teacher conferences in our future.] I had lost my will to keep a straight face. I had also lost my will to live because, I CAN’T STOP LAUGHING AND I’M SO OVER THIS AND EAT YOUR FREAKING DINNER. I said in my best Mother Theresa voice that if he didn’t stop acting like Eddie Murphy and eat his food, I was going to take his car away that he had brought to the table. He said okay.

And then the game began.

He did something hilarious, and we both busted out laughing. Wyatt took the bait. He refused to take another bite, and did another thing hilarious, like I WILL WIN THIS OLD WOMAN. And then I took his car away because, bring it child I’ve already lived your life. He started crying and out of nowhere I leaned in, looked him dead in the eyes and said: “You know Wyatt, we can laugh and discipline at the same time.” Because, OMG WHAT!?

Touche dad. You win. It’s not even all that hard to do.

The Story Of Wyatt

Whenever we started the adoption process I remember praying so hard for our child, whom we knew nothing about. We prayed two kinds of prayers back then. We prayed “alive” prayers and we prayed “not born yet” prayers. Because when you don’t know anything, you pray for everything. And so we prayed.

Our “alive” prayers went something like praying for safety, a full tummy, and health. We prayed he knew he was loved and wanted. We prayed for healing in his heart- for the hard things he had undoubtedly experienced. We prayed for his heart to be opened and prepared for the change that was about to go down. We prayed he was happy and that he spent all the days laughing. We prayed for his caregivers- for strength and love. We prayed, always, for biological parents- that if there were any way they could raise him they would. We prayed that if there was another option, a way he didn’t have to lose his everything, it would happen.

And then we prayed “not born yet” prayers which sounded a little different. All we prayed for was his biological mom, because really that’s all there was to pray for. We prayed she was safe and healthy, and that she had enough food. We prayed she felt loved. We prayed support would rise up around her. We prayed for resources for her. We prayed she would choose life. We prayed for things like the delivery and we prayed she didn’t have to do that part alone. We prayed that if there was any way for her to do this, keep her baby, she would.

And so for months we prayed those two prayers. Over and over and over again.

Then we met JT, and those prayers shifted a little. We had a face, a name, a smile to pray for. And so we prayed, and then we went, and then we came home. Y’all know. And I will always be weirdly grateful that sweet boy didn’t have to lose his everything- that Uganda is still his and always will be, grateful that he’ll grow up knowing that red dirt in his heart.

I so remember getting chills when I read JT’s story, because May was a big (sad) month for him and May was the month we both felt so strongly that we were supposed to start the adoption process. And I don’t think for a second that was a coincidence. If God could part an actual sea, why would he not be able to burden two people on behalf of a little boy a zillion miles away, you know? And so I so believe that was purposed, and I will go to my grave believing that we were always supposed to pursue him. I will go to my grave firmly believing we were always supposed to walk away, too. But we were supposed to go, we always were.

A few months later, the tiniest one year old I had ever seen hit my inbox and I wanted to say no. But we didn’t and I knew we never were. And I so remember sitting on my couch reading Wyatt’s story through tears because I knew, yet again, it wasn’t a coincidence. As we were praying all those prayers a whole year ago, a zillion miles away Wyatt’s mom was doing exactly what we were praying for. As we were feeling burdened, Wyatt’s mom was in the late stages of pregnancy. While we were begging God to keep her and her baby safe, He did. As we were asking God to be in the delivery, He was. While we were praying prayers for life to be chosen, He chose it for him. As we were feeling burdened with a sense of urgency, God was saying: Yes. But not yet. I have something else for you, and then Yes.

And I so believe that was purposed. Every last bit of it. We could have said no. We really could have. But oh my word am I glad we didn’t.

IMG_0670 (2)Wyatt Mukisa, you are our greatest blessing. Truly. You were purposed, always. You were designed for greatness. You were sought after. You were chosen. You were wanted. You were a leap of faith. You were our best Yes. We’re glad you’re here, buddy boy. You’re our favorite.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. -Psalm 27:13

On Standing For Life

Over the weekend Dustin and I started seeing all of these pictures flood our social media accounts with the hashtag, stand for life, attached to them. Most threw out a scripture and wrote a little blurb about why they stood for life. It was a movement started in response to the Planned Parenthood videos released earlier. The minute I started seeing these pictures my insides started squirming… it’s not that easy, right? You can’t just post a picture with a pretty filter on it and say you’re standing for life. That cannot actually be people’s response to those videos, to an issue that is enormous and complicated, there’s more to it. Posting a picture isn’t actually standing for life (insert all the exclamation points)… And so I’ve taken the last few days to sort through some feels about it and this is what I came up with.

A few weeks ago, Dustin and I were talking about how funny Wyatt is. We were telling stories and laughing, because he is actually really funny (and I don’t think just anybody is funny). It got quiet for a minute and Dustin said, “I feel sad his biological parents are missing out on him.”

Yes. That, though. Always that.

Wyatt is a miracle, like an actual miracle. Because sometimes life isn’t chosen but rather it is found, and that’s the kind of heavy stuff that makes you think about all the things differently. It’s also the kind of stuff that changes the world, ya know? And so we sit around praying that one day this kid will feel so confident in who he is, in his story, that he will share it with others. And when he does, I swear to you, something big is going to happen. Like, drop the mic kind of big.

I stand for life. Yes, for sure. But standing for life as a blanket response to the Planned Parenthood videos feels somewhat dismissive and totally incomplete. I don’t think we can stand for life without standing for a hundred other things first. I don’t believe we can be pro- life without being pro a heck of a lot of other things, too. I’m not huge on saying I’m standing for life and then not like, doing the dirty work of actually standing for life (other than choosing for myself not to have an abortion, because I have endless support and resources to name a few). Because to truly stand for life is to stand for something rather messy, in my opinion. To truly stand for life is to stand for support and resources and education. It’s to stand for biological family first and then it’s to stand for another family second. It’s to stand for you possibly being that family. It’s to stand for giving of our time and resources. Because if you really want to defend the defenseless our hands are going to have to get dirty (and also our homes and probably our hearts, too).

And so I also stand for empathy. I stand for not having the first clue what it is like to feel like abortion is my only or best option. I stand for intense heartache for my son’s first mom. I stand for grace. I stand for women in crisis. I stand for organizations supporting women in crisis. I stand for family. I stand for organizations doing the hard work of keeping families together. I stand for foster care. I stand for every church getting involved in their respective city’s foster care system. I stand for adoption as a last resort for kids.

So let’s stand for life. Duh, yes. A thousand times yes. And then let’s also like actually stand for life, because that’s the kind of stuff the world needs.

wywy“Heaven blew every trumpet
And played every horn
On the wonderful, marvelous
Night you were born.”

On The Night You Were Born, by Nancy Tillman

Because Laughing Is Better Than Crying

I’m just a girl trying to find some humor in parenting. Because what doesn’t kill you makes you funnier, right?

I created a game today where I lay down and Wyatt rolls cars on my back while my eyes are closed. So basically I won today.

In our house we pretend water is different colors. It just makes day drinking easier to explain.

If I were going to prepare a friend for life with a toddler I would hide one of every pair of shoe and ask them to find them as I stand there and scream. Also? You need to be somewhere that requires shoes 10 minutes ago.

If I could describe the toddler in one idea it would be this: They don’t give a damn. They give zero actual damns.

Ways I have been a jerk today: I wouldn’t let him consume trash, I asked him to stop licking the potty, I wouldn’t let him play with a knife, I wouldn’t make him pasta. Also it’s 7:45 a.m.

The toddler is like a PMS-ing adolescent girl. Except the symptoms last until they’re five.

Wyatt can reach the light switch in our playroom. So if you would like to experience a seizure come on over!

One time Wyatt elbowed me so hard in the chest he burst a blood vessel. Life is fun.

One time I texted my husband actual tears because, see above.

There is nothing more rewarding than hearing about how perfect my child was at his grandparents house. Wyatt slept 19 hours last night! Wyatt ate arugula and asked for more! Wyatt wrote the first draft of his college essay!

“Mommy play!” is like the cutest way of inviting you to come sit and do everything wrong.

Hell hath no fury like a 2 year old who did not want his hot dog cut up.

JK. Hell hath no fury like a 2 year old who wanted to play with a doll he pooped on but wasn’t allowed to because, HUMAN FECES.

He cries when it’s time to take a bath and he cries when it’s time to get out. Toddlers make like this much sense.

My favorite thing about the toddler is that they change their minds every .04 seconds and refuse to tell you about it. And by favorite I mean: Where’s the Advil?

Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent of a toddler, but I feel like trying to dress a cat would be a great place to start.

Kroger had a 2 for 5 sale on blueberries this week which means Wyatt will hate blueberries for this week only.

There is nothing more safe than driving while parenting. And by that I mean I’m pretty sure I could drink and drive safer than I can parent and drive.

Because what’s worse? Waking up a toddler from a car nap or peeing on yourself?

On Being Ready

I visited Wyatt for five weeks before I was legally allowed to take him with me. For five weeks I drove two hours there, stayed a few hours, and drove two hours back to the city where I was staying. Five weeks. Those were some of the longest and hardest five weeks of my life to date. I loved going to visit him because I got to see him. I got to know him, on his turf, and in his environment. I got to teach him to roll cars back and forth and to play peek-a-boo. I got to hold him and sing to him and rock him to sleep. I hated going to visit him because I had to leave him. I had to walk away from a child I was trying to form a relationship with, a child I was supposed to view as my own, but was waiting for someone else to tell me if that was or wasn’t going to happen. I was asking a child to trust me, to risk love, and then every single time I walked away. And so those visits were both sweet and terrible.

The screams that would occur when I left still to this day make me sick to my stomach. There is something so unnatural, almost outer body, about having to walk away from a screaming baby, a baby who is screaming specifically for you. A baby who is screaming for you to stay, and then five weeks later will scream all over again for months because you took him away. Grief is so confusing like that. And so when it was time to go, I would hand him back to one of his sweet caregivers and walk away. I would turn around and walk the walk back to my car never once looking back. I couldn’t look back. And so I would just walk, with a giant lump in my throat, thinking this had to be the world’s worst plan. How can this, what I’m currently doing, be good for a kid? As I would walk, listening to the screams of the baby who is now my own, I would say over and over and over again: “Please God let him be okay. Please God let him be okay. Please God let him be okay.” All the way back to the car, and the two hours back to the city, those words, on repeat.

One of my favorite things to do while I was visiting Wyatt was to sing him songs and rock him to sleep. One of my most favorite memories is showing up one day and having a girl say to me: “He cries when you are not here and he sings your songs.” Bless. So I would sing and rock and hold him while he slept. And I would say: “please God please God please God.” Over and over and over again while he slept in my arms.

Please God, let this happen. Please God, let me be okay if it doesn’t. Please God, let this be right. Please God, keep satan away. Please God, let me believe regardless of the outcome. PLEASE GOD PLEASE GOD PLEASE GOD.

The other day I rocked Wyatt and held him while he slept. I haven’t really done that much since the Uganda days. He had woken up riding the whiny train, and in our house if you whine before I have had one sip of coffee you get to go back to bed after breakfast. So that was where we were. I was rocking that sweet, whiny boy back to sleep. I held him and rocked and he fell asleep, and it all just reminded me so much of Uganda I almost couldn’t breathe.

I was reminded of how scared I was to love him. I was reminded how terrified I was to risk hurting another tiny human being again, how terrified I was of being hurt all over again. As I rocked I thought about faith, how much going back to Uganda was just that: an act of faith. I thought about how guarded I was, how prepared I was to walk away for good, forever, to come home again sans a child. I was reminded of how much I had to reconcile: getting to a place where I believed that God was still good, even if the same thing happened again. I just sat and rocked and remembered how hard all of that was.

And then I sat and rocked and thought about how sweet it is right now, six months later. I thought about how thankful I am, for him, for how he’s growing and changing. I thought about how thankful I am, for him, for how he’s growing and changing us, too.

Later that day I had a friend ask me how I got to that place of doing it again and I almost laughed because I was like, I DIDN’T. I knew we weren’t done but I was in no way ready to go back. I was never ready to actually get on a plane and do it all over again. That’s why it was a secret, because I didn’t believe it would really happen. That’s why I didn’t talk about it, because it made me physically sick to my stomach to think about. That’s why I didn’t buy one thing for Wyatt before we left, because I didn’t believe he would ever live in our house. I got a tattoo, for crying out loud, because I needed something on my actual body that would help me go back. I bought a necklace with the word “courage” on it and wore it almost every day I was there, just as a reminder and more like a trick into believing I had courage. I was never ready, though. I don’t think I ever would have been ready.

Six months later and I think I’m finding that I’m just really thankful that I wasn’t.

Because You’re Doing A Great Job

I don’t care about your schedule, if you have one or if you don’t. I don’t care if the same things happen at the same time every day or if they just happen when they happen. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you breast feed. I don’t care if you buy formula. I don’t care how long you do either of those. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve ever flung poop onto a check out counter and acted like it didn’t happen, and I don’t care if you don’t have a clue what that experience is like. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you let your kid cry sometimes. I don’t care if you never do. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve ever had middle of the night fights with your husband over that tiny human you both love, who won’t stop crying and won’t sleep ever, and neither of you know what to do other than fire cuss words at each other. I don’t care if you’ve got the no sleep up all night with a crying kid for all of the nights figured out. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if your kiddo goes to a private school or a public school. I don’t care if you home school. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you co-sleep or if you don’t. I don’t care if you sometimes co-sleep because sleep is golden no matter how it goes down. I don’t care if your baby sleeps in your room or in another room. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you work or if you stay at home or if you work from home. I don’t care if your kid is in day care or has a nanny or stays with your mom. I don’t care if you went back to work because you had to or if you decided you wanted to. I don’t care why you’re staying home. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve ever yelled at your kid. I don’t care if you haven’t. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you buy only organic. I don’t care if you buy canned vegetables. I don’t care if hot dog consumption is at an all time high in your house. I don’t care if you make dinner every night or if take out is the name of your game. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you put your kid in time out. I don’t care if you spank. I don’t care if y’all just talk it out. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if your kid throws a tantrum at my house or at the park or at the grocery store. I don’t care if they never have the one meltdown not ever. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’ve showered or if you haven’t. I don’t care if you’re in work out clothes always or if you put actual real life clothes on the majority of the time. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if your kid watches TV or if they’ve never seen a TV show a day in their life. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if there are dishes in your sink or clothes piled high in your laundry room. I don’t care if the dishes and the laundry are always put away. I don’t care if your floors are kind of sticky or if they are mopped weekly. I don’t care if there are toys all over your house or if they’re thrown all in one room. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if dinner is a 4 or 5 or 7. I don’t care if the time you serve dinner is solely based on how the afternoon goes. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you’re smack dab in the middle of a really hard season as a parent and I don’t care if you aren’t. I don’t care if you don’t really know what that means either. You’re doing a great job.

I don’t care if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing as a parent. I don’t care if you do. You’re doing a great job. 

I don’t care if being a mom is the hardest thing you’ve ever done, ever. I don’t care if it’s the easiest. I don’t care if you’ve found your mom groove yet or if you’re still waiting to find it. You’re doing a great job.

Because what I’m learning is that mom guilt and comparison are the easiest things in the world to engage in.They really are. I lie at the playground all the time because, guilt and comparison. (We can talk about that another time. I’m trying to quit.) I’ve almost had to get off Instagram because, guilt and comparison. I’m finding that it’s just so easy to forget that I’m doing a great job. I already am. 

And so are you. Because let’s be real, no matter how you’re playing this mom game? You’re doing a great job. Promise. 

On Crying Babies And Paper Bags

The other day Dustin called and asked what I was doing. I responded really nicely with: “Well Dustin. I’m currently driving home to put a paper bag over my head.” He then, cautiously, asked why Wyatt was crying and how the day had been. I was so calm and kind and quiet and non emotional as I responded over the screams of my child in the back seat with: “HOW HAS THE DAY BEEN?! The day has been straight from hell. Thankyouverymuch. Wyatt has literally cried all day. He woke up crying and I feel confident that we are going to put him to bed crying. He has thrown exactly 37 tantrums and has had 29 meltdowns. The latest BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET while I changed his nasty blow out diaper on the trunk of my freaking car. (We were at a park with no bathroom. Everyone calm down.) So he’s screaming because… I changed his diaper? Wouldn’t let him eat a book this morning?  I tried to feed him something other than Teddy Graham’s today at lunch? He rolled his car under the couch after I had told him a bazillion times I wasn’t going to get it anymore? Wouldn’t let him eat the toilet paper roll he got out of the trash? Told him he couldn’t throw balls at the tv? Oh, no those were all earlier. He is currently screaming because he can’t have my keys BECAUSE I’M DRIVING. I have crap all over me and a head ache and his crying all the minutes of this day is making me want to drink. I cannot “redirect” anymore today. I cannot with the redirection, that ish is for the birds. I’m literally about to lose my mind. So I’m going home to put a paper bag over my head and wait for you to get home.”

I have said exactly one million times since becoming a parent that if I were a bad guy of sorts, and people were trying to get information out of me… No need to torture me or deprive me of sleep or food. No, just put me in a room with a crying baby and I will tell you all the things in 90 seconds or less. Literally all of the things. JUST MAKE IT STOP NOW PLEASE.

I become totally irrational when there is all this crying. My heart starts beating fast. I get really hot. I literally want to cut my ears off. The crying makes me all kinds of panicky and anxious. And then there are the sometimes I take all the crying personal, because what in the world are you supposed to do with it all? (We shall surely talk about grief and babies and parenting those grieving babies soon. Everyone get ready because it so much a thing.)

I hear people say things like: “It’s so funny when toddlers get frustrated (i.e. cry their heads off over something ridiculous)” or “I think I’d just laugh if my kid threw a tantrum in public (Side note: I can’t even with the fact that some people have lived multiple YEARS with their child and never had a public tantrum. I have been with mine for exactly 19 seconds and have picked his flailing body off of so many tile floors it actually makes me want to die a slow death just thinking of it all.)” or “Even when mine throws a fit I think it’s so cute” or “Aww, sweet Wyatt’s a crier? Awwww.” And I’m like, ARE YOU ALL ON ACTUAL DRUGS!?!?! Because I hate it. I think exactly none of it is funny or cute or like so fun or awww. I’m just not there yet. HOW DO YOU GET THERE? Someone write THAT blog post please.

Oh right, paper bags. So several weeks ago I came across an old blog post of Glennon Melton’s and was like, OH MY WORD. YES.  I FORGOT ABOUT THAT. I had read it before, back when I was not a parent… So I totally read it like: “Good Lord. I will surely never feel like that or need to do that. That’s so funny though that she feels like that and needs to do that. I will laugh at this because this will never be me.” Right? Because we were all idiots before we had kids. Anyways, she talks about how she doesn’t do well with the crying and the tantrums and the we were having such a fun time… WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?? moments of parenthood. She doesn’t love them or even like them. They make her crazy. Her solution? Put a paper bag over her head. Her children are still screaming. They are all still in the same room. She just has a paper bag on her head. She even put a smiley face on the paper bag so her kids can remember these times as happy. But for some reason the paper bag on the head makes her feel less crazy and less anxious and more like all of the things will actually be okay.

AND SO I STARTED DOING THAT. Putting a paper bag over my head. And it works so good! I swear to you! It really does make me feel less like, THE WORLD IS ENDING and more like, IT’S ALL OKAY HERE IN THIS PAPER BAG. It also makes me die laughing. Every. Single. Time. It also *sometimes* makes Wyatt stop crying because, WHAT IS ACTUALLY GOING ON? And so now when Wyatt won’t.stop.crying I just look at his sweet little face and say the following, “Mommy is going to go put a paper bag on her head. I love you so much.” And then I do just that.

All I’m really trying to say is: try this y’all.

paper bag