My First Mother’s Day

This year I get to celebrate my first Mother’s Day. I have been trying to think of the best way to honor my first mother’s day, my past, present and future and all the moms that have ever inhabited my life, especially my mom. But I can’t. It is too overwhelming.

What I do know on this Mother’s Day is that being Ben’s Mom is an absolute privilege. Every night, when I put him to sleep I kiss the top of his head and tell him “I love you. You are the best thing I have ever done”

When my days are hard at work, a client is upset,  or work has taken a bit too much out of me, coming home to him standing at our big picture window in the dining room, waiting for me, waving furiously, makes me understand that I always have an enthusiastic audience.

When I wake up in the morning and I haven’t brushed my hair and my skin has no make up on it, showing all the signs that I am not 20 anymore and I don’t feel like I could ever be beautiful again, Ben looks up at me and reaches his arms up to be held. He tucks his thumb in his mouth and leans his head against my chest and I think, no I know, that I am the most beautiful I will ever be.

When I have those days where I feel like I may never be a good enough mom, and find that balance between work, and marriage, and life and friends and family and my son, I open our door to our kitchen and see my little maniac running towards me and I somehow find my footing once again.

When I think that maybe I am not going to ever be the mom that Ben deserves, that doubt that every parent, every mom has. He will turn and look at me and say mama and so will my heart along with any doubt.

 

 

To all the mamas out there; seasoned professionals, hopeful mamas, grandmas, greats, aunties, and nanas, fur mamas and of course new mamas, don’t ever let the world make you think you haven’t done the best thing ever. You are a mom, and even though we will spend our lives trying to teach our children, they will somehow end up teaching us everything we need to know.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Being a good parent and a good partner

My husband and I were lucky enough to be able to spend a few days in the Bahamas last week, thanks to him winning an incentive trip through his work. We went by ourselves and left the Bubba with Carolina and both sets of Grandparents. Obviously we missed Ben terribly, but it was nice to be able to hang out with each other and not worry about things like laundry, or how much formula was left. We spent 3 days together and did not discuss his poop at all.

But it left me wondering how do you connect with your partner once you become a parent? We may never get an opportunity like this again, and we have to find that balance between being parents to our sweet boy, working full time and still being considerate of each other. Spending that quality time together.

There are the obvious ones like date nights, but even those aren’t always possible and finding a sitter can be tough. So here are some helpful ways to be show you are thinking of your partner, even in the craziest of times

  1. Does the diaper genie smell like it could be used to strip the wallpaper? Take that bad boy out with out being asked. Or at the very least, give your spouse the heads up that something must have died in there so the next time they open it, they can be prepared.
  2. Is your kid a messy eater? Save your partner some of the scraps of the best food your kid missed from their high chair (tots), place it on a paper towel and call it a snack. It shows you care about their nutrition AND made a conscious effort to clean the highchair. Bonus: if your spouse experiences Hanger, this will help stave it off.
  3. Leave a note in their lunch bag letting them know you are thinking of them always. Sweet nothings like “We need wipes” or “Butt paste” will really show them you always have them at the top of your mind.
  4. Did your partner have a tough day at work? Be sure to crack open a bottle of wine, put on a pair of sweat pants that doesn’t have drool or spit up on it and even leave some of the wine for them to drink. It will really help set the mood.

These are all the ways the Maffeo’s keep it fresh in our household. I welcome all of your suggestions for making sure that your spouse knows they are special. And don’t forget ladies, unbrushed hair and make up you didn’t take off from the night before is simply bed head and a smokey eye the next day.

 

 

A Hard Day

Today was a hard day. Actually, every day is a hard day. I miss my son every day that I go to work. I walk out the door and see his little face looking at me and think  “Does he understand that I will always come back?”  What parent doesn’t think of what they are missing while they are at work? There is a risk that I will miss his first step, his first words, all of that.

I work because I need to, I want to and a few years from now he won’t be sitting at home waiting for me, but rather I will be sitting at home waiting for him. I, personally, am better when I am working. I wrote a while back, that one of my saving graces, while racked with the worst of my postpartum, was going into work. It gave me piece of mind that I wasn’t a complete failure.

But every day is hard. I miss him every day. To find that balance between motherhood and being a professional who is proud of her career.

I stopped today though and thought about what this all meant. It meant I was madly in love with my son. He will cringe of embarrassment, should he ever read this blog and this particular post, but I have fallen head over heels for him. I knew it was possible but I think most parents have this moment where they realize they not only feel that protective instinct over their child, which gets them through the first few months of chaos, but they genuinely love and like that child.

Puppy Chair

As Ben develops his personality I see all theses bits and pieces that make him a little bit me, a little bit Mike, but entirely his own person. His toughness, his silliness, his intelligence (yes, he is a genius according to me), his love of playing and observing, his fake cry which sometimes turns into a laugh because it is so ridiculous and he knows it. All of these things have meant that I have been lucky enough to be a part of his little world from day one. I know what the whines and cries mean. I know that if I start to play and make loud noises he will mimic me and poor Mike will roll his eyes. I know what it means when he smiles or puts his arms up.

I know that, despite the fact that I leave most mornings and have to see his little face crumple a bit as I walk out the door, that he loves me too and whether I am there at the end of his school day or the end of my work day to see him, he will always know that I am his and he is mine. And that makes any hard day worth it.

My little daredevil

93320996-4CFE-42A0-9ED4-A82B32634F71.jpegThe running joke in the Maffeo family is that Mike was a tentative kid. There is a picture of him jumping into a pool along side a bunch of other kids, and he is wearing arm floaties, a inflatable tube and I think goggles, whereas the other kids are just wearing their bathing suits (it was three feet of water). When he would ride the merry-go-round, he would only sit in the benches and never on the horses that go up and down, because, in his mind, they couldn’t be trusted.

Meanwhile, yours truly would walk around the neighborhood barefoot, climb the highest tree, talk to anyone that would listen and basically had no fear.

People have been saying for all 10 months of Ben’s existence on this earth that he looks exactly like Mike. Which he does. His big happy grin. His eyes and eyebrows and ridiculous lashes are exactly like his dad’s. Which makes me very happy since I think his dad is pretty handsome. However, it fails to take into account the parts of me that may have glommed onto Benjamin. I mean, I did carry the kid for 9 months. I should have some influence right?

It turns out, I may have snuck in there somehow. My sweet, funny, smart boy is a total daredevil. He has no fear. For a new parent this is a blessing and curse. It means we have to be on constant patrol. There is no turning our backs for one second without fear that he may have crawled over to the stairs and is now making his way up them. Or that he is now trying to climb up onto his toy chest or onto the coffee table. Oh, what’s he doing now? Standing up in the tub and trying to climb out of it naked? FAN-FRICKIN-TASTIC

His favorite is when he is going fast in anything with wheels. His walker, a grocery cart, the stroller. His face lights up and he laughs and laughs. Mike can often track us down at Target by listening for the sound of a cart moving too fast and laughter coming from a few aisles over.

I know that this is something that may not translate well when it is time for Ben to get his driver’s license. I may regret instilling this fearlessness in him that allows him to feel he can climb on top of anything or go anywhere. But for now, I love watching him explore. I love seeing him learn something and get better at it. Watching his face light up from laughter or recognition that he has achieved his goal.

Because here is the thing, I am always right behind him. Making sure he will be ok. My little daredevil doesn’t know it yet, but my hand is hovering right above his head or around his waist making sure he doesn’t bonk his head too hard. Or if he falls, it is only a little bit. Just enough to teach him that he might fall, but never enough to truly get hurt.

Or maybe he does understand that. Maybe he knows that we are right behind him all the time. And he is learning that he can go explore and make mistakes. He can discover the world around him. He can fall down sometimes, but we will make sure it doesn’t hurt too much.  I have learned in the past 10 months, as parents we will spend the rest of our lives trying to find that balance between letting our kids be the daredevil, letting them fall down and making sure they know they are safe.

And to all the parents out there, from the veterans to the newbies, may you always find the joy in watching them explore the world.

 

Fears I Didn’t Plan For

I was a senior in high school when Columbine occurred. At the time it felt like this incredibly scary, unique, unheard of event that would never happen again. I remember our yearbook that year, made a conscientious effort to embrace the unique cliques that walked the halls. To try and make every one feel that they belonged.

But it turned out I was very wrong. It was not an isolated incident. It was not a one off or something that I would hear about again.

Many years later, Sandy Hook happened. Right where my husband had lived for many years. Those tiny little lives taken. Not much bigger than my son now. At the time my heart was broken, but now I cannot think about those parents pain without crumbling into a million pieces. My love for my son is so over whelming that it can bring me to tears just thinking about him. I cannot fathom what those parents felt that day and feel to this day.

And now this. Now Parkland.

People are angry. And the students are angry and demanding action. And the parents are angry and demanding action. And I am angry and demanding action.

The students are standing up for their right to be safe in school. The right not to die when they go to math class, yet for some reason they have been told to sit down and be quiet. The adults will handle it. But here is the thing; we haven’t handled it. Things have not gotten better, they have gotten worse. Telling our kids to be kinder to their fellow students or smile at each other isn’t going to solve the issue. It is a red herring. Telling kids that they should have stood up for the kid being bullied before he walked into their school with an AR-15 is a misdirection because no one should have access to an AR-15.

In a few years, I will send my little guy off to school, and there will be the inevitable tears (from me) because it is his first day. And I will have the typical mommy jitters. Will he make friends? Will he love his teachers? Will he love class or hate it?

But now there is a new one. Will he be safe? Not from stranger danger, or the flu, but from a school shooting. Do I have to live in fear of a phone call from the school.

Will I get a call or a text like the parents of:

Alyssa Alhadeff, Martin Duque Anguiano, Nicholas Dworet, Jaime Guttenberg, Luke Hoyer, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, Joaquin Oliver, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Helena Ramsay, Alex Schachter, Carmen Schentrup,  and Peter Wang

received on February 14th from their kids, saying they loved them? Did they know that would be the last time they spoke to their children?

Because that is something my heart couldn’t survive.

The whole wide world

No you don’t know

I was very lucky when I was pregnant. I loved most of the doctors in my practice. My main doctor was just about my age and had recently had her first baby. She thought the concept of a “geriatric pregnancy” (anyone over 35 and pregnant) was stupid and hated the term, which made me love her even more.

The front desk staff was great, the nurses were funny and attentive. All in all it was a great experience…..until the end. At the end you end up going to the doctor once a week, whenever you can find the time. You fit these appointments between your work, peeing, panicking about all you haven’t gotten done, peeing some more and your exhausting schedule of cookie eating. This also means you see whatever doctor you can within a practice. Any office also asks that you see every doctor in the practice so whenever you go into labor you are familiar with whomever is on call. I was lucky and had my regular doctor deliver Ben, but in the moment Elmo could have delivered Ben and I wouldn’t have cared.

At one of these last appointments I finally met the only male doctor in the practice. I had no qualms about having a male OB. I figured he would be just as great as the other doctors. Then he opened his mouth. He asked how I was feeling, which is fair, but still a dangerous question to ask a 9 months pregnant woman. I answered honestly and said I was pretty tired and could barely get out of bed because of my huge belly (see photo from last week). He laughed and said “I know how you feel, I have a big belly too and can’t get out of bed easily either”. Uhhhhh no you don’t.

Ahhh it only got better from there, when I predicted I would go into labor before my due date (May 27th) he remarked “we have due dates for a reason”. Listen, my expertise in medicine is limited to my late night searches on WebMD, but I had been living with this little creature for the last 9 months and had a feeling. I knew what I knew, and it turns out I was completely correct. Ben was born over a week earlier than his due date.

You know who had no experience being pregnant with my son? This doctor. When people impart their words of wisdom on you during pregnancy or during child rearing, they think it is because they are being helpful. This doctor, who more than likely was actually getting a full nights rest and did not have a 7  pound baby playing a very convincing version of In the Air Tonight on his bladder all day, did not realize that I was veeeerry close to hitting him in a blind pregnancy induced rage.

Pregnancy is a very unique feeling, and being a parent is an even more unique feeling. Everyone thinks they are entitled to an opinion about how you are behaving as a parent. Even those that have never parented. That appointment was the first time I felt like saying you have no idea what I am feeling and would best be served by being quiet.

My advice to anyone that is a new parent or soon to be parent is to forget the din. Trust your instinct. You will be right more often than wrong. You will find your path with your child in tow. You will definitely make mistakes, but you will always correct. For those that feel like doling out some unsolicited advice to parents, I highly recommend you keep it to yourself. If you ignore this advice, I cannot promise you that the force of a 1,000 very pregnant ladies will not come down on you as punishment and frankly, that image alone scares the bejesus out of me.

Kenny Rogers

Teaching Ben how to gamble……what? Whaaaat???? No one will ever see it coming.

 

 

 

Counting Down

When you first get pregnant you start counting. Counting how many weeks pregnant you are. We have a picture for every week. From week 5 to week 38.

Every one tells you to start banking your sleep. Which doesn’t work, by the way. Try telling a woman in her third trimester to enjoy her sleep, she may hit you.

The other thing they tell you is that you need to savor these early days, really remember them, record them, because they fly by.

But then, when the baby is born, you  start counting again. You count dirty diapers, hours between naps, hours between feedings, days between showers.

You count how much he weighs, how long he is and how long a baby can possibly cry for (3 hours).

Eventually, I started counting away the days. Days until I had to go back to work, days until he might start to grow out of his colic. Days until Ben might start hitting milestones, sitting up, rolling over, babbling.

Then I started secretly wishing.

Wishing for him to just be a little bit older. Because, I thought, it will get easier. I will feel better, he will be able to communicate more and maybe stop peeing on me. I will feel more confident in being his mama and everything will just be a bit easier.

I think a lot of parents feel that way. Those first few weeks or months, especially with your first baby, are a whopper. You just don’t know what is about to happen and are walking right into the fire.

And then, without warning, I stopped counting. Because all of sudden Ben started to grow so fast. He was crawling, teething, standing on his own, laughing, babbling, communicating with us, and I finally understood what people meant when they said it goes so fast. We are still so early in this journey to raise our little peanut, but already I know time is moving so quickly. Everyday he learns something new, whether it is learning to feed himself or discovering another thing in our house he should definitely not be playing with.

So I recently pledged that I will stop counting away the days, hours and minutes and simply sit back and savor the silly, smart, wildly energetic, sweet, little boy that is growing faster than I ever thought possible. He has so much more growing to do and so does his mama.

The 38 weeks pregnant photo realllly captures how I was feeling. Ben was born 6 days later.