Saturday, December 6, 2014

Life matters, no matter the packaging.

There's a hashtag floating around, #blacklivesmatter and for some reason it has been a bit of a craw in my side and I couldn't figure out why. I think part of it is because the racism running rampant in our country angers me. But I also think that if there are going to be protests over things like police officers overstepping or using excessive force, then there should be protests over the neighborhood thugs doing the same. There should be protests over the incredibly low breastfeeding rates among black mothers, when it's a well-documented fact that breastfeeding a baby generally contributes to healthier children overall. There should be protests over the incredibly high abortion rates among black women versus other races. If black lives matter, then ALL black lives should matter from conception to natural death. If black lives matter, why is abortion so acceptable when it's involving an unborn baby whose heart starts beating right about the time a woman realizes she's late for her menstrual cycle, but it's unacceptable to cause enough harm to make that same heart stop beating once the person is born?
Page 6 of this report from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene breaks down the numbers by age, borough, race, and pregnancy outcome. It's eye-opening. This is JUST in New York City.
Where is the outrage over the loss of life at the hands of others across the board? Why are only the police vilified when every single day across this nation, not one person stands up on behalf of their neighbors who are killed at the hands of other citizens, often the same race as the victim? What makes the lives of the born more valuable than the unborn?

If you want to be one of the voices crying out that black lives matter, lets make sure there's an accounting for ALL black lives lost, born or unborn. Let's make sure we're calling into question everyone who is ending the heartbeats of other black lives regardless of the job title they hold. Let's go one step beyond that, and declare that ALL lives matter regardless of the outer package containing that life.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Tenants, landlords, farmers, and parents

I love my pastor's homilies. He shoots from the hip and minces no words. His message came from today's Gospel reading that as parents we are the tenants who must produce good fruit (Matthew 21:33-43). He commented that the kids are wanting to serve, but parents are preventing it. "Parents, they can not drive." He commented that when we fail to tend our gardens properly, they yield bitter fruit. Likewise, when we fail to teach kids the things they need to learn, our own children also become bitter fruit (aka brats). Sometimes, weeds overtake the garden and our kids choose their own path that we wouldn't have chosen for them.

Twice last week, it was suggested to me to use the cry room on both Saturday at the vigil Mass, and then Wednesday when I went to Mass because I was seeking some time of peace on a difficult day. The message was not received well, and I physically bit my tongue to avoid making more problems for myself. I was angry, hurt, frustrated, and felt unwelcome in my own home. So, today, I brought it to my pastor's attention after church, wishing I could have caught up to him before Mass because this would have been related to his homily today.

I feel like a bit of a tattle tale, but honestly, the pastor needed to know this was happening. If the two individuals said it to me when my family has served as liturgical ministers, they were going to say it to others. The first is unfamiliar with my family since it was a different Mass than we normally attend. He was polite and I want to believe he was well-intended, but the second being familiar with us may not have been. They are also older, from the generation that was raised to be seen and not heard. There is a time and place for children to be seen only, but it's a short list.

As I suspected, the pastor did not disagree with me. He even said "how else will they learn?" My kids get louder, more disruptive, and more distracted by the other unchecked kids running around in the cry room. Plus it has a tile floor, making the noise reverberate. No thank you, my kids have my permission fidget all they need to, so long as they're quiet and not getting overly disruptive to the prayers of those around them. I will not be taking them to the noisy room, but instead, will continue to remind them to be respectful of those around them, be quiet in the presence of God in church, and set the example for other parents in teaching their children. If I have to take them out of church, there are consequences for junior, and then - this is key - WE GO BACK IN THERE.

This goes back to my beliefs as a parent that we are raising our children in preparation for the adult world. When my kids are somewhere with me, they must behave appropriately even when they are bored, don't want to be there, or don't like the place. There is also time and place for children's fear to be addressed, but in this instance, my youngest 3 kids have been coming to Mass with me since birth after I learned the hard lesson with the oldest 2 with regards to church. It's not an unfamiliar or unsafe place that would merit a freak-out from my neurotypical children. After what feels like a million years, the kids start figuring out how to participate in the Mass, how their actions impact others, how to adapt to their surroundings, and how to deal with things they may not like.

Perhaps my kids being difficult is divine intervention to get that person behind us to get out of their own heads for a minute and pray for peace to come to the frustrated mother who can't seem to get the pre-Kindergartener to stop doing obnoxious things in an attempt to get mom's goad, or the baby who's figured out his voice carries very well given the acoustical design of the sanctuary to not be quite so loud till he's back outdoors, or for the older sister who is being annoyed by the pre-Kindergartener because button-pushing is a favorite activity. Perhaps, the bouncing kids are supposed to be a reminder to the estranged grandparents that it's time to reach out again to their child in an attempt to mend the fence. What ever the reason behind the lessons presented, they are being presented because that annoyance is supposed to teach something. Instead of clucking or ostracizing, pause a minute, and listen to God's whisper, and find out what message you are supposed to be receiving.

I am keenly aware my kids are disturbing the peace. I live with them. Peace comes about midnight when they're all drooling on the pillow, and even then there is no guarantee it will remain till sunrise. As a mother of an interfaith marriage who wrangles her children at church solo, I want nothing more than my children to be quiet and not disrupt your time at Mass. Because when they do that for you, they also avail it to me. And by the time my nest is empty, someone near me will have a full one, and the shoe will be on the other foot. I hope I can remember the challenge, and offer prayers for peace for them, and not cluck at them.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Seize the day, before something seizes you

I have a group of online friends who all had babies around the time Blur was born. My friend Lauren is among this group, and is also on my Thirty-One team. Her oldest son has been in the hospital all week after having a seizure at school, and many more seizures after that. Please keep this family in your prayers. Someone from another online group has set up a fundraiser as well, to help the family cover living expenses while their son is in the hospital and mom is camped out at the hospital. Whether you're only able to offer prayers, or you can help this family, anything you can do will be appreciated.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The gift of a wardrobe

There was a post in my crackbook feed several months ago, proffering the contents of a closet being culled as the owner worked her muscles into compact form and these fell off her. I'd just had a baby, and faced the potential of a wardrobe challenge over the coming year. With each subsequent baby, my body takes its sweet time to go back to something smaller. Here, the heavens were opening up before me, and someone was blessing me with something I needed so very much. I took what I could use and passed along the rest to someone else.

I was going to be traveling through multiple seasons with a not-pre-baby-size body, and I trusted that it would be a short lived transitional wardrobe. I would be ok with being the size I am now, because I know I'd be more in line with an "average" size, and it might actually be easier to find things that fit me. Somehow clothiers think my pre-baby size equals twig, not scenic tour with curved roads. I wasn't willing to buy a whole new wardrobe at retail for potentially one season. I wasn't willing to buy out of season on clearance hedging bets on what size and shape I would be for that future season. I still don't know where my body is going to land, so I still can't hedge bets for later.  My luck, I'd buy a size down and my butt would refuse to go any smaller. There are some things that no self-respecting mother should ever allow her clothes to do to her.

This gift was an answer to a whispered prayer for future need. That future is the current moment and season. I have been wearing the 3 pair shorts from that bundle so much that I've killed the hems and have to re-hem them all. They are my "uniform", and literally get worn daily. Today was just below Hell Hot, and I could wear a pair of the pants. Like usual, I have ghetto bootie gap because of my curves. I've killed my belt with that issue. As I was changing into my pajamas tonight, I was feeling extraordinarily grateful for pants that fit, albeit a smidge loose. Far better they are loose than too snug! Between the pants from that bundle, and a seriously awesome pair of shoes from another friend, plus the shirt I found on clearance while I was still pregnant (that was a safe bet to make, pants not so much), I looked pulled together at church today. I felt like a grownup, and not a schlub. As a liturgical minister on hiatus, I am seen and known at church, whether I know everyone or not. Therefore, I am an example to others. As such, I should be the good example, not the horrible warning. As a business woman, my appearance does matter to those who may eventually do business with me. If I look like a bag of butt, people will treat me as such.

It may seem like a simple thing to the giver. She was just clearing out the stuff that was too big. But to the recipient, it has been a literal God-send. I am able to pull together outfits, and dress professionally where needed. I can take kids to appointments or school functions and not embarrass my offspring or myself. I can wear shorts that aren't cotton elastic gym clothes because that was my only other option short of consignment shopping, which is always a crap shoot regardless.

And thanks to another generous friend with big feet and excellent taste in shoes, I have some seriously cute shoes that go with almost everything. Pregnancy changed my feet too, and I killed some shoes, but my feet have followed the same path my hips have. So several pairs of my shoes still don't fit me, or they are no longer comfortable to wear. This will come as sacrilege to some, but there are only so many occasions that flip-flops can be worn.

Anyone who has that one outfit that makes them feel super, powerful, or gives a new posture, knows how important it is to feel good in the fabric dressing your person. So when you're clearing the closet, and passing it on, you really ARE blessing someone else in more ways than you might imagine. In short, I don't just have clothes and shoes. I really do have a functional wardrobe. If you knew me 15 or 20 years ago, you know how monumental this is. And if you know me at all, you know how swollen with gratitude my heart is that I have this gift, and that people shared it with me.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aliases and blurry pictures

That's how I put my kids on the internet. I use funny names, blurry pictures, pictures without faces, or pictures of the back of them. I keep it real without being reality tv online.

Why?

Well, it started when I was ranting about the asinine behavior of my oldest child, who has become dubbed with the alias of Evil Genius. He's an adult now, but when he was a kid, I didn't use real names, and still don't. I didn't want something I posted online about him to come up in a search by potential employers and it prevent him from getting a job. I followed suit with the other kids. Plus, I live in a city that isn't entirely Stepford and Mayberry. I have a public presence online, and my kids deserve some modicum of privacy where it can be afforded. And on my blog and crackbook feed, it absolutely CAN be afforded. I do not note relationship connections in my profile, and I don't accept the ones others attach to me. Why am I going to just GIVE people that detail? If they know me personally, they know this information. I have nothing to hide, but everything to protect from unscrupulous folks.

So, if you see pictures on my blog or crackbook, they do not include the faces of my children, and they won't be tagged with my kids, nor will their real names be used. The exception might be the grownup adult children, but even that is a rarity. Why? For the same reasons I did that when they were kids.

There's also a matter of other relatives who live in places that still carry some Mayberry to it, who forget that we don't live in Mayberry. We have to lock doors, use aliases for the kids, and I don't just blurt out where we live either. Handy internet searches come up with information really easily. I've found pictures of my children posted with faces shown, full names, our city, and that just makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I can't be everywhere all the time with my kids, and I shouldn't have to be either. They need to learn how to function independently of me, and not be in fear of their safety because mommy made someone mad on the internet and that someone happens to be a sociopath.  Quite honestly it isn't difficult to do some minor sleuthing that even my tween can manage, and begin a stalking campaign. No, I am not paranoid. But I absolutely AM careful. And while you may be ok with posting all the details of your life online, *I* am NOT. If you have people in your life who do the same things I do, please respect their wish for any privacy still left in this world. If you do not uphold their privacy, you are going to find yourself prevented from seeing your loved ones from afar via the social network connection. You're going to wonder why nobody sends you pictures, when the fact remains they don't trust that you're going to respect their privacy.

There is a group of women in a mommy board group I belong to, who after almost 6 years of connecting online, STILL do not know what my kids look like, or their real names. There are a handful I've met in person, and they finally learn the kids' names that way. A couple of them who I've connected with via the private message aspect know the kids' names or have seen pictures. But I absolutely trust that they'll uphold our privacy, and they have.

So, you'll have to suffice with names like Devildog, Evil Genius, Hot Sauce, Clone, Blur, Speedy or Devilpup. And if you don't like that, tough noogies. It's not your blog, your household, your family, or your privacy. Enjoy your Mayberry and your Stepford. I'm in Big Fish and have to act accordingly.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Of snails and puppy dog tails

That's what my little boy is not made of at all. He's a greased pig, flying out a greased chute and like his siblings before him, he has a mind of his own. He crossed over to the 7th month on my dad's 87th birthday. He's crawling, negotiating from sitting to crawling and back to sitting. And then he decided to start pulling up on things. NO, dude, just NO. This means he's going to walk at 8 months like all the others too. We have tile floors, and none of the other kids learned to walk on tile. For the first time ever, I'm giving consideration to buying one of my kids a helmet. He lacks spatial ability quite yet, and is still grossly top-heavy. It's mildly amusing that we can barricade him off from some place by a chair because he hasn't figured out ducking under the rungs...I give that 2 more weeks tops before he wrinkles that corner of his brain. I'm trying to stave off another few weeks the inevitable walking, at least till he and I return from a trip to the crazy bag lady convention.

He's also teething - EN MASSE. He *just* got one tooth to pop through the surface of his gums a couple weeks ago, and dang if I didn't find the 2nd one today. I was not expecting that to happen so soon. I've caught him trying to gum the refrigerator door because it's cold and his mouth hurts. I'm praying he is not mid-teething on our trip, and that he hits the Sir Sleeps A Lot phase of a growth spurt while we're traveling.

He's got a decent receptive language, understands a few basic signs, and tries to mimic what we're saying. Daddy is his favorite person. I'm just his favorite when he's hungry. He loves his sisters, and when the big boys are home, he loves them too. Hot Sauce won't admit that he likes his baby brother, but you can tell when he's home on leave who his favorite person in the family is. Evil Genius talks to him in Spanish, like he did for the girls. Moments like that make me wish the older boys were still home, because I feel like the youngest sprog is missing out on some things they have to offer.

And I think I finally have a pseudonym for him. I've called him a variety of things, but as days pass, and he leaps over milestones in proud fashion, I keep thinking "dude this kid is just fast." Since we already have a spawn nicknamed Blur, and given part of his name, I think this little boy's moniker online is going to be Speedy. If he stays fast, it will suit him. If he's laid back like Hot Sauce, it'll be an amusing irony.

Somehow, I think he'll be quite a bit like the other siblings, and do things fast, and the name will be oh so apropos.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

One little thing can cause big issues

Today, I am in the mood to talk about mouth ties. Tongue ties and upper lip ties are small little things. But they can create really big issues. And long term, they can become even bigger issues.

I have 5 kids, and 2 have a known mouth tie, 1 is suspected. That one is now an adult. But the youngest 2 kids have confirmed mouth ties. The fourth child has an upper lip tie that did not impede her ability to nurse till 14 months of age. I ended up with major vasospasms and had to stop due to pain lasting all day. I now believe that the tie + a growth spurt changed the mechanics of her mouth and latch, and my body didn't do well after that. I was ok with weaning at that point. Because upper lip ties (ULT) can cause speech problems, dental issues such as decay or orthodontia needs, we are monitoring her mouth over the long term.
The youngest is now 6 months old as of this blog post. But he and I had a rocky start. I was told in hospital that he had a tongue tie, but that it was minor. He had a champion latch, nursed well as far as we could see, and seemed to produce the requisite # of diapers typical of a newborn. Then we went home. He was a speedy exit, like #4, and he too was a bit jaundiced. The ped wanted to monitor the bilirubin levels, so we had to get labs drawn. Instead of leveling off or coming back down, #5's went up as the first week progressed. I was advised to try pediatric rehydration drinks, formula, pumped milk....but the baby refused anything but the breast. I dutifully pumped so I could do what I had to do to feed him, despite his refusal of any bottles. Meanwhile, we made about 5 or 6 lab visits in the first 2 weeks for bili checks. It was draining in every possible way, and if this had been my first child, it would have definitely painted my perspective of motherhood in the negative.

By day 10, my son was going through maybe 4-5 diapers a day, when the "norm" for newborns was almost twice that. He should have been having a poopy diaper at least every other day or so, not just a smear. His bilirubin should have been back down to what it was when he was born, not doubled that. I knew what the problem was, and was looking for a way to solve it. I was considering a laser revision with a local pediatric dentist who trained under Dr. Larry Kotlow.

That same day my friend took her 3 day old for frenectomy, and related my situation. I'd just gone to the lab that morning and our own ped at lunchtime for yet another round of the same. I was about ready to find a new ped over it for their not listening to me. My friend's pediatrician is also an IBCLC (highest level of schooling/certification a lactation consultant can attain), and helped with a UNICEF breastfeeding campaign in the 1980s. She told my friend, "tell her to get in here right now" because my supply was not going to hold out too much longer the way things were going. I high-tailed it to her pediatrician's office. While we had to wait, I decided to do a weighed feed. Weigh baby, feed baby, weigh baby again. Half an ounce in 10 minutes of feeding. A while later, we weighed, ped revised the tongue tie, I fed him for 10 minutes, and we weighed him. This time, a full ounce difference. Over the course of the weekend, he pooped 4 times in 3 days, peed through the "normal" number of diapers for a newborn and other things that made me sing.

He could move his tongue past his gums. YAY! look at those cute faces he makes now - and still does! My nipple was no longer flat, lipstick shaped, or in pain. And here's a biggie: He was able to empty the breast!!! Yes, he was getting full and I was getting emptied. I was no longer engorged and in pain from the backup it was causing. And then on Monday, just 3 days after revision, we went back to the lab and ped again for yet.another.draw. The phlebotemist was one of our previous foot-stickers and she said "oh my gosh, you have meat on your feet now! The blood draw was so much easier and faster versus the 10 minutes of screaming, squeezing, and scraping to get any drop of blood they could out of his tiny foot the previous week. The scale at the ped's office indicated he was up several ounces from that Friday. His color was getting better.

All that improvement over such short time, because one pair of sterile surgical scissors, 2 sterile cotton swabs, and a pediatrician with actual breastfeeding experience and knowledge made things right again. There's plenty of debate over circumcision versus remaining intact, and the thinking that leaving a mouth tie intact is on the same level as circumcision. But that's comparing apples to oranges. This is the ability to feed, nourish, and grow that is at stake. This is future issues with apnea from a high palate. This is potential for speech problems. This is potential for things like TMJ, neck and back issues. This is potential issues for the mom trying to feed her baby - mastitis, mangled nipples, breast pain, nipple pain, needing nipple shields, having to pump and feed vs nursing directly at the breast. Tongue ties are even related to acid reflux issues.

This is NOT an old wives tale.

Medical school barely spends time teaching about breastfeeding, much less anything that could interrupt that. A couple generations of formula feeding has drastically changed the landscape of medical training in regards to the art of feeding a baby the way nature designed. So, as such, women were told "oh your milk is bad" or "you're not making enough milk". And subsequently, babies were moved off the breast and onto a bottle. I don't know about my mother-in-law who was told this twice, but I could pump 4 ounces at a time that first week, which is more than a newborn would typically consume. The problem was not me, or parts of me. It was with that little frenulum being too attached under my son's tongue. My supply was never an issue. Again, had this been my first or maybe second, it would have stressed me out, and given me some emotional and mental scars. This was my FIFTH child, and as a veteran, I still had some emotional and mental hiccups over it despite my logical brain knowing what was happening and how to rectify it.

So, if you are in a position to provide medical or dental care, please, I BEG YOU, do not dismiss or minimize the presence of a mouth tie. Please reach out to other trained professionals such as Dr Larry Kotlow in New York, or Dr Bobby Ghaheri in Oregon for advice. Educate yourselves on breastfeeding, its mechanics and physiology for both baby and mother. Advocate for the mother and the baby. Don't just stick your gloved finger in baby's mouth and say "baby has a good strong suck, baby is fine." That tongue has to move milk from breast into the baby's mouth. It's not like a bottle nipple where sucking does the job of transfer. Don't take a wait and see approach. If we'd waited longer than 10 days, baby and I both would have suffered even more.

In the Breastfeeding group on one site, and a Tongue Tie Support group on another site, there are posts relating how the tie impacted the ability to feed a baby directly at the breast. On the Tongue Tie Support group, there are posts DAILY relating how frustrated parents endure doctor after doctor refusing to revise a lip or tongue tie because the doctor doesn't believe it has a negative impact. Or a doctor says it's an old wives' tale. Or a doctor blames a mother's supply. These doctors are pediatricians, general practitioners, ENTs, dentists and other well-trained people. They're all misinformed, and misunderstand. There are kids in speech therapy who are learning to make sounds close to the ones they're missing, when all they could potentially need is a revision to a mouth tie, a little retraining on how to use the tongue, and some time for the mouth to heal from the revision. There are newborns who can't or won't latch for several weeks and suddenly they get a little bigger and can get more of the breast into the mouth and figure out how to eat.

If you're in school for a medically related field, take up this topic in one of your research papers. Share it with your peers, educators, patients and friends. The only way for this to gain more respect or recognition is for other providers to share it. Many highly-educated people still attach a stigma to mothers as being uneducated or uninformed or misled. Mothers are in the trenches, and we've got battlefield medicine skills and experience that hasn't reached the books yet.

I have a friend whose 4 year old had challenges nursing as a newborn, and has been going to speech therapy, but still unable to rectify a set of sounds known to be related to mouth ties. She shared a picture of her child's mouth, and I told her that it looked to me that there is a tie present and she may want to explore that as a potential means to help her child's speech. She contacted Dr Kotlow, who indicated it seemed like a tie to him, and that the child might benefit from revision. She has a mix of relief that there is a solution, and sadness that the speech therapist hasn't connected the dots. How many more suffer without the benefit of knowing?

You can also use your preferred search engine to search for "tongue tie baby" or any similarly worded query and come away with a broad range of blog posts, support group forums, medical provider pages, and other information from well known medical facilities. My point here is that if you ever have a patient who is exhibiting the signs of a mouth tie, do not dismiss it!


Some helpful links:
Dr Lawrence Kotlow http://kiddsteeth.com
Dr Bobby Ghaheri http://www.drghaheri.com/about
Blog post on The Leaky Boob regarding mouth ties written by Dr Ghaheri & Melissa Cole, IBCLC that also has photos http://theleakyboob.com/tag/bobby-ghaheri/

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bad assumptions

Today's post brought to you by this blog post someone shared on Crackbook. http://sylcell.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/to-the-lady-ashamed-of-being-pregnant-with-her-fourth/

I was not so much ashamed of being pregnant with my 5th, but just defensive. I got a few comments with my 3rd. "Oh, good, you are finally having a girl after 2 boys. You can stop now."
I got a ton more with my 4th. "don't you know what causes that?" "Don't you have tv/internet?" "are you Catholic or Mormon?"  So, naturally, I was guarded with my 5th. I was having my own internal struggles with it as it was. I did not need other people adding to it. But add to it they did. Because people are rude, insensitive, and can't see beyond the end of their own noses, they decided it was ok to say things they should keep to themselves. And because they didn't keep it to themselves, I took to my blog about it in response.

Then there is the assumption that parents with larger-than-average families are unintelligent, incapable, or "just a housewife".  I am reasonably intelligent, more capable than most women and a few men, and if you saw my house, you would not call me a housewife. MamaX3 has a degree, mad skills that I could only dream of possessing, plays more instruments than I can even name, sings, and runs me in circles. Someone said that she was "just a housewife". A short time later, a Disney movie was on and the kids were singing, so MamaX3 joined the song. The visitor was impressed. And MamaX3 took that moment to inform the visitor of her academic accomplishments, musical ability, a few skills, and tied it nicely in a bow with a pointed glare and "I CHOOSE to raise my children."


We are raising people who will be more compassionate, considerate, resourceful, and helpful than the bulk of the parents around us will raise their kids to be. We will raise people who go on to do excellent things, some may even do extraordinary things that impact history. We will be satisfied with raising people who do any variation of those things, and simply have great positive impact on those around them. So, while you're busy making a bad assumption about those of us with more than 2.3 children, we're a little busy helping shape your world of tomorrow. I've got 5 funny, intelligent, resourceful, and considerate souls who have already done some great stuff. What's your contribution?

Monday, May 26, 2014

I know more than one of you

I can only speak for myself here, so if this does not apply for you, then feel free to let me know. However, I'm sure almost every direct sales consultant has heard from at least one customer that they have another friend or consultant in their circle. And people feel bad for saying it to us. They feel like they're breaking up with someone or cheating on their other consultant. And that's a legitimate way to feel. But it's ok.

I have had people say "oh a girl at work sells it", or "I knew this other consultant first", etc. Really- I absolutely do NOT take it personally. You're not rejecting me. You're just being honest and helping me keep my expectations on par with what you're able or willing to do. I want other consultants to respect the relationships I've worked to build with my hosts and customers, therefore, I respect that relationship you have with someone else. If things change, I will welcome you to join my community and will not hold you hostage. I would hope you'll stay with me because I put you at ease, keep things interesting, you're entertained, and I'm not putting pressure on you or spamming you.

Again, it's not about me. It's about those I serve. If your budget lacks wiggle room, believe me, I get it. If you already ordered from your other consultant, no hard feelings. If you are staying out of it because you know more than one consultant, I respect that. If one of your consultants has told you that you can't order from anyone else, that is total malarkey. In saying that, the relationship was made to be about them, versus being about the connection, mutual respect, and friendship. Order from who ever you're comfortable doing business with, not who puts pressure on you. If you support a friend's hosting effort by ordering from a show with another consultant, that is fabulous of you. I won't hold it against you. Because, as I've already said, it is not at all about me. It is entirely about those I serve. To make it about me belies the purpose of me working this kind of job.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

How we roll

I went to a friend's birthday party recently. It was also a direct sales party and the consultant is a friend of mine for the last 6 years, who is also an "adopted" member of a very large Hispanic family we both know. One guest is an acquaintance I met through my new sister-in-law. We were talking, and she commented that she appreciates how I don't bombard her with emails, messages, and her Facebook feed with overt messages about Thirty-One.

Quite simply, it's not how I roll. And it's not how Thirty-One rolls. We have specific guidelines about how we are to relate our business through social media outlets. We are absolutely not allowed to do any hard selling. So, no "book your party" "place your order" or other "buy from me! buy from me!" posts. We are not allowed to post the link to our Thirty-One site unless it's something that comes up in conversation, and even then we would be wise to say "I'll message you the link". Every contact we make with someone needs to be through their permission, or via invitation. We are not allowed to spam, come close to spamming, or be in anyone's face.

We ARE allowed to share our experiences, celebrate our hosts and customers, celebrate what the business has done for us and the rewards we gain, or encourage our teammates. And who wouldn't love encouragement? That means we can tag hosts and thank them for an awesome girls night out, or comment about how excited you are to see what they choose with their host rewards. We can post a status or picture of what ever we're doing that our commission helped pay for - dance, vacation, leadership incentive trip to some exotic locale.... or in my case, pay the plumber, fix my van, replace a clarinet.... We can post that we're thrilled with the opportunity to help a charity with our business through a fundraiser.
If someone complains or Home Office finds out, we could be subject to losing our permission from the company to operate as an Independent Consultant with them.

If you're in a direct sales business, be respectful of your customers' time and energy in your social media feed. It's valuable time you're wasting by offending people with overt sales tactics. You're painting the image of a slick-haired used car salesman. It's valuable energy you're expending with little to no return on the investment. I sold a long-standing product line for 10 years, with hardly any success. I learned a lot - techniques, verbiage, just how crazy tenacious I could be, and how long I could drag a dead horse. I was not well-matched with my leadership, and the sales training we got went against my natural grain. It was difficult for me because I felt like it was an act - and ultimately it was. One of the core values of Thirty-One is Authentic - Be you, be real. THAT, I can do.

How do I roll? I hate being pushed about buying something. In turn, I hate being pushy trying to sell something. I don't want to drive people away from me, because then they won't recommend their friends to do business with me. They may not say outright "don't work with her" but they'll remain silent, and that's just as bad. Either way, people won't be doing business with me, and that means I won't be earning income.

How does Thirty-One roll? I got a call congratulating me on becoming a new consultant. I got a ribbon on my nametag at conference indicating it was my first one. I've been thanked when calling home office to get THEIR help with something, because I'm helping keep THEM employed. I got a call when I promoted to Senior Consultant to say congratulations, keep up the good work. I got a call back from someone I talked to when she had to abruptly get off the phone, and she apologized to ME! I sensed she needed to get off the phone, and I felt like a cad for keeping her on the line. When she called back, I apologized to HER in return. When there was a bit of a mix up with some supply orders, they got things rectified. They operate under what Dave Ramsey calls in EntreLeadership as Servant Leadership, and the overall culture is vastly different. The home office staff looks forward to coming to work each day, and their work gives them a sense of purpose and energizes them.

So, when it comes down to it all, this is not about me. As soon as I make it about me, things stagnate. It's about those I serve. There's a Zig Ziglar quote that says "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
That is so true in this line of work (which doesn't feel like work to me because I enjoy it so much).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Of fire trucks and dreams

Clone needed black pants for her band concert this week. She hit a growth spurt RIGHT after we got her a pair for the December concert. Such is our luck, right? So, off to a second-hand store that sells kids' clothes. The store has this giant toy firetruck near the registers, with a sign on it that it's not for sale, just for fun.

Clone was in the dressing room, repeating every try-on session I've ever had. We've got ample bootie, and it poses challenges with proper fit, and my need to veto a lot of what she has tried on for putting too much cash and prize on display. She's got a long femur too, so it's a trifecta making virtually every skirt or pair of shorts too far north on her legs. I was poking around looking for cute onesies for chunk boy's summer wardrobe. He is his daddy's clone - long torso, short legs, not skinny. The kid's elbows have dimples.

Meanwhile, this little girl who may have been around age 3 or 4, was there with her mother. The little girl pointed out the fire truck to her mom, and mom promptly said "That's for boys." That little girl shrank. Not only did her mother shut her down, but then she squashed her daughter's interest in dreaming. I said something about knowing some women who are first responders that would disagree. Mama didn't seem interested in, or pleased with, what I said. Honestly, I did not care. Lord, please let this child go on a school field trip to a fire house and find at least one or more women in the line of duty. My heart breaks for that family, broken down before dreams even begin to take shape.

I heard "you can't" as a child. My mother heard it in her childhood. Some of the problem was that my parents didn't have the extra money for things. But pride got in the way. "Can't" should have been followed by "afford". The word "can't" in my childhood was translated to ability, not finances. It prompted me to be honest with my kids when things were unaffordable. "It's not in the budget" or "we don't have the extra money" is honest, and pride-piercing. But it's not dream crushing.

My dad let me tinker with his tools when I was a kid. I entered adulthood with small skills that paid dividends. I could make small repairs and saved money on replacing items or hiring someone to fix stuff. We lived in base housing when tropical storms blew through Camp Lejeune. Base housing has a list of self help items they can give residents to do things like change air filters, replace the hook and eye latches on screen doors, replace broken porch light globes etc. My screen door was ripped, and I couldn't open the door for fresh air without bugs moving in with us. I went to the self help shop at the housing office to ask for screen material. The guys looked at me like I was nuts, and said "it's not on the list of stuff we can give you."  He may have said something about my husband, but it's been so long, I forget.
I looked at him and said "Well, I have tools and a staple gun, and I can fix a screen door. Or, I can add one more piddly ticket to your list of work orders, and it'll be months before I get a screen door fixed because other people have trees in their houses." He paused a minute, sighed, and gave me enough screen for my door. I was an antithesis of the typical Marine wife, and I don't know that he'd ever experienced anyone like me before. The guys in the maintenance department appreciated that when I called for repairs, it was really worth their time, and not BS calls like someone's closet doors being off track and they didn't know how to get them back on there.

I realize it's an anomaly to see non-traditional roles in play. My sons can cook and clean, and my daughters love motorcycles. They've all played with kitchens, cars, dolls, and tool sets. Clone will say she'd rather hang with the boys because they have something interesting to say, versus girl gossip. Blur was at a party recently. There was a bounce house and the boys were being brutes. The other girls ran away, but my feisty redheaded little girl stayed put, refusing to cave to the boys' attempts to get the bounce house girl-free. A time or two, she may have done that running back block.

I want my kids to accept dreaming as a possibility. I want them to take leaps of faith and do things that interest them. I want them to not have to battle the inner bully of self-sabotage and self-defeat that I have. Logically, I know I can do things. Internally, I constantly nudge that timid child out of the corner, making her try new things, and do things she resists. It started with getting my motorcycle endorsement two years ago. It's incredibly empowering to learn to ride. It's incredibly soul-strengthening to get in the saddle over and over and build the skill and confidence to venture among the "cagers". I got sidelined a bit, but I will be getting back in the saddle in a couple years. My body still needs to rebuild, I have a new baby, and I'll need to take the endorsement course again because I have already forgotten a lot of it. In the meantime, I've found myself surrounded by a lot of awesome cheerleaders who help me stifle the inner bully, and spurn the timid child forward. I want my kids to see me go after goals, achieve things, and not defer dreams. I want them to strike out in search of their own dreams, and the best way to do that is by example.




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Size matters, depending on how you see it

I, unlike soooo many people I know, hit a kind of genetic lottery at conception. I got my father's father's lean lines and high metabolism, and my father's mother's hips that made childbirth a greased pig in a greased chute kind of delivery. The extent of my exercise consists of walking 30 feet to my mombus to get in it and go somewhere, and what ever movement haphazardly tending home generates. Aside from the things I'm allergic to, I eat pretty much what I want, including those baked goods and sweets. And jealous people comment about how lucky I am because my size is single digits and I shrank after having baby #5. The assumption is that I am back to pre-baby size/weight etc.

uhh, NO I am not.

I still have 20ish pounds lingering on my small frame, I am still a couple sizes larger than pre-baby, and I have a limited wardrobe because history tells me to wait longer and my old clothes will fit again. So I'm still frustrated getting dressed each day between size and fit issues, and nursing accessibility and comfort. I won't wear it if it isn't comfortable and moves with me and for me.

There's the other issue that is the bane of dressing my frame - my curves. I don't hate my curves. I love that I'm curvy. It's not a problem for me until I try to find pants that lack the ever-pervasive ghetto bootie gap in the back, while respecting the budget. Victoria becomes no secret, because I also strive to avoid butt cleavage like I try to avoid displaying mammary cleavage. So, if ya see the mom-drawers, be glad it's not full exposure. I'm sexier for leaving something to the imagination and carry myself with confidence, not because I put cash and prizes on display.

Now, I believe big can be beautiful if you wear it well. And I have seen some gorgeous women whose size labels would wrap around me twice or more. I don't see size the same way some people do. I'm blissfully oblivious to that niggling detail about other people. My own sister has had weight shifts up and down, and asked me my opinion about it, and I annoyed her because she thought I was placating her comments. No, seriously, I did not notice the change.

But apparently, the rest of the world sees those changes, and their tricky minds craft fallacies. I've been told "oh my gosh, you're already back to pre-baby weight!?!?" Which bugs me to hear that. NO, no I am not, and I don't appreciate you assuming that I did. If I wanted to shrink the hips and thighs a little, I know exactly what to do to achieve it, and that it will take some time and a lot of power walking on my part to get there. The fact is, that I don't want to bother getting off my blessed assurance right now, and I'm not pissing and moaning a lot about it because it's my issue to own.  I'm just embracing the physical package I have at the moment and we'll see what comes later. I have other things I want to do and when I am ready, I'll do the walking. Some of this size won't go away till the boob monkey weans, and that won't be anytime soon.

Between babies, after I'd shrank back to my small, normal-for-me size, many a friend listened to me lamenting about trying to find pants that fit. "Oh, it must be sooooo haaaarrrrd for you to be a size 2! waaaah!" Unfortunately for a couple of them, they got the receiving end of my OH SNAP moment. It's proportion and perspective folks. If not for the hips and thighs, I would've been a size 0. Comparatively, it's akin to someone being a 20 on top, and a 24 on the bottom. Then there's the challenge that clothing makers assume if the wearer is a size 2, they are young, with no curves, and not having borne offspring. So, yes, dressing a slender but very curvy form is a challenge and has its own caveats. Having an insanely high metabolism can be a challenge and have its own caveat. And it doesn't help that there is no standardized sizing in the fashion industry like there is for men's clothing.

Instead of making assumptions about a person's physical state, strike up a conversation and ASK them. Persnickety Ticker gets the assumption from others that she has a heart problem because she's big. Nope, it's the other way around. She was born with a bad heart, and had heart attacks at girl scout camp during P.E. sessions. The guy who had a major accident and has permanent facial disfigurement gets the assumption that he can't speak properly, or has a cleft palate. How much are you missing out on a friendship, wisdom, knowledge, or experience, because you make an assumption based on the outer package? This goes for prejudice of all kinds. Age, size, pigment, hair type, native language, height, physical ability...you name it, there's a prejudice for it.

Stop hating on people who can not help the genetic lottery they got at conception. Stop making the comments that paint failure on someone else. You telling me that I went back to pre-baby size/weight, whether true or false, just slaps the woman near us in earshot. She has struggled for years to even come close to losing any of the baby weight, and the baby is in middle school. Then she sees me and associates me with a painful experience. Nevermind the fact that I did nothing intentional to cause harm, but that tricky brain installs that message to her spirit and we potentially miss out on something cool.

I can't take responsibility for your insecurities. I have plenty of my own, and I need a bag with wheels to hold them. Own what you are, what you have, how you're made, and stop hiding behind comments whether well-intended or back-handed. I am overall an awesome woman with a curvy silhouette, kickass sense of humor, and I love what I love. I am not without imperfection, fault, or shortcoming. And I can't help the package God put me in, I can only do what I can with it.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bittersweetness

It's been an interesting several weeks since my last post, fraught with cognitive failure and the pendulum sweeping the other way to sheer brilliance for a fleeting second. I should be sleeping right now, because the clock is ticking on the incessantly hungry infant's tummy. But I am sitting in the silence and relative stillness of the house, with only my brain running at warp speed. Such is the joy of an ADD brain. It's 1 am and I'm unable to get my brain to shut up at all tonight.

I have been seeing this one blog post about "The Last One" in my crackbook feed numerous times this week. Finally, I read it. And in doing so, my eyes welled up and my brain started running even faster. I never imagined I'd have FIVE kids in my life. I figured  after #3, and we were good. Then I had a 4th, and thought we had 2 of each, we were golden. HAH! Have I mentioned that I was supposed to have a home office and a motorcycle?

The Tie Breaker is 3 months old and careening through his milestones with warp speed just like his siblings did. And I was looking at him asleep in my arms tonight, wondering what purpose God has for him to send him to us after we feel like we've screwed up at least one of our other kids some how or another. I am still shocked and awed that we were entrusted with the care, feeding, and training of another miniature human. I am boggled that my friend thinks so highly of me to ask that I would be Godmother to another of her children, when I am a slacker in so many ways, including my faith. But at the same time it's all humbling. How haughty of me to think I should strike out on some kind of adventure in my life that didn't necessarily include starting parenthood alllllllll over again.

And I am chronically struck by the sheer fact that we have TWO adult children, yet there are 3 more home, and that the youngest is a brand new sprog. I do derive bemusement from telling people our kids are 3 months old on up to 20 years old. Part of that is just me still trying to digest it. Part of it is that I am amused by the shock others have when they learn we're a larger-than-average family, and NOT a blended household. Yeah, we're rebels like that. I sometimes think that I should have been a sociologist.

But with all of that comes an occasional pang. I miss my boys sometimes. Reality is though, that they are at the point where they must transition into adulthood, despite my desire to keep the little boys they used to be. They're grown and turning into fascinating adults. And every time the baby smiles, I see both his brothers too. And then I see a quirk from one of his sisters. I thought I was done having kids after the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. And I'm certainly feeling done after the 5th. With each of those done feelings comes a hint of sadness behind the celebration. First steps for them, but the last first steps for me. First teeth (oh lordy, who are we kidding, teething is abysmally miserable), first words, etc. And I find myself doing something I was incapable of 20 years ago. I find myself dwelling on the smile, the diaper change, the nursing (not always, because oof - someone is constantly touching me!), the giggles, the cooing, the completely different means this kid needs to get a burp out of him, the comforting a baby with reflux and knowing you can only do so much. Then I dig in my memory bank, wondering if the oldest 2 had any of these quirks and issues, and I just didn't have the knowledge then that I do now. Parenting would have been a whole different experience for both me and the spawn, had I been connected with the kind of people who share their story. When you know better, you do better. I hope I'm doing better.

And those well-intended words those veteran moms and old ldies shared when my oldest 3 were born: "Enjoy those babies". It is difficult when in the throes of sleep deprivation, missed showers, gross diapers, the whole kit-and-caboodle. I find myself feeling more present in this segment of the mom-gig. I constantly work to have balance and avoid losing my sanity. And I want to enjoy my kids. I just don't always find the wherewithal to do it. Despite my efforts to find balance, I sometimes don't have it. I rely heavily on my middle child now, and I have mixed feelings about it. She needs to make her own transitions toward growing up, but she's still a child too. And again, we strive for balance. She's incredibly helpful and has the capacity to follow her brothers into adulthood with a different brand of thinking and experience that will hopefully catapult her beyond her peers.

Each of the older kids loves the younger siblings. As much as I hate to admit that I miss my sons, one of them hates to admit he misses his newest brother. When they're here, they're awesome with the younger kids (usually). When they're here, I also selfishly breathe in their presence because I know they're not staying long. And I enjoy those fleeting moments, because I painfully recognize them for what they are. And then I look at this newest person to join our world, and think how much more I really do have the privilege of getting to know him before we launch him. It's a perspective that was impossible for me to properly possess two decades ago.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

nursing bra fix

Early on in my 5th pregnancy, I needed bigger bras. Knowing that the girls were only going to get bigger, and that I'd be nursing later, I decided to get the nursing bras instead of buying twice. I went to Destination Maternity and happened upon a buy 3 get 1 free sale. I got 4 bras, but 2 had extra fabric around the straps as cushioning. Unfortunately the idea was poorly implemented, and fabric wrapped around what I call the "pop top clip". Those two ended up languishing in the closet after baby arrived because I couldn't close them one-handed. I took them to a friend who sews to seek her wisdom. She took a seam ripper and cut away the extra fabric on one of the bra cups. Magic! The pop-top clip moved a whole lot easier. I brought them back home to finish the task.

I thought if I had this complaint, others did too. So I took pictures of the way I remedied the problem. If you use scissors, use small, sharp ones, and for the love of all that is holy to you, DO. NOT. CUT. ELASTIC!! For this to work, you must cut ONLY THE FABRIC LOOPING AROUND THE CONNECTION. The fabric that makes contact with the pop-top-clip is all you will remove, unless you opt to remove the cushioning fabric so you can adjust the straps shorter. That's up to you. Do not cut the seam in the bra strap or your bra will be of no use. Again, if you remove cushioning fabric, cut ONLY the outer fabric, NOT the elastic of any kind.

Here's your idiot clause/disclaimer:
Please use caution when handling any sharp object. I used a seam ripper. If you use scissors, do not cut the elastic of the bra straps. I am not responsible for blade or seam ripper placement when you do this, as I am not there to physically guide your hand directly to avoid rendering your nursing bra useless. Pay close attention to where you cut, and how you cut. If you lack the skill and confidence, you can hire your local tailor and show this blog post to explain what you want done. If you lack common sense, then definitely hire a local tailor. Come to think of it, if you lack common sense, child-rearing may not be an appropriate life for you.












As you can see in the after/before picture, there is significantly more room for the clip to operate. I don't know who designed this bra, but they didn't think very far in its wear and use when they thought of these things. It makes me think a man with no experience or exposure to breastfeeding and the logistics it requires had a hand in this detail.

The bras adapted here were Motherhood Maternity brand, molded cup, non-underwire bras purchased at Destination Maternity in the Spring of 2013.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Parental Wringers

Because of the speedy exit Mr Mambo#5 was jaundiced, just like his sister was. The muck didn't get squished to the southern exit. Apparently newblings need more than 20ish minutes being squished out of mama's nether-regions for that to happen.
And so began the incessant trips to the lab, back to the pediatrician, lather rinse repeat. He was also tongue-tied. The perinatologists and the pediatricians all said that it was minor. But it was indeed NOT something to be left unrevised here. In our case, baby boy could not extend his tongue far enough to pull milk out of the breast. He was always hungry, always nursing, always gassy and unhappy. He wasn't moving enough of the foremilk to get the fattier hindmilk that keeps him fuller longer. He was exhausting himself nursing all the time, trying to fill his little belly. I was pumping sufficient amounts of milk, probably more than he was moving out of there himself. Babies are supremely more efficient at transferring milk than a pump is. If I was able to pump 3 ounces from one breast with a nursing newborn, then something is definitely amiss.
Add to this scenario, twice a week lab checks, with ped follow up - and a 4 year old in tow. I was supposed to be recuperating. Pregnancy and childbirth takes a big physical toll on a woman's body. And I had a pediatrician's office not listening to me about the tongue tie being part of the problem. They kept suggesting the same things: supplement even an ounce of formula or give pedialyte, or pumped milk - anything to improve what he was taking in, so he could flush the bilirubin faster before it started posing more and major health problems. The problem was my child hated anything but the "gourmet groceries" as Mrs. A calls them. He would begrudgingly suffer a bottle of pumped milk - very reluctantly suffer it.
A friend was at her pediatrician's office, getting her son's tongue tie revised 3 days after he was born. She related our situation. The doctor told her to call us and get in there *NAO*. It was Friday, at 5:30 pm, and the pediatrician could have said "tell her to come in here next week." No, she said NOW. So, we hastily packed up everyone and left. My lil man was 10 days old, barely gaining, still jaundiced, and barely going through any diapers. Average is 10 diapers a day, but we were using maybe half that many.  We had to wait a while, and finally we got his tongue tie clipped. The pediatrician regularly does frenectomies, and understands the impact a tongue tie has on breastfeeding. I was about ready to take him to a pediatric dentist who would laser the tie, as trained by Dr Kotlow. But someone closer to home could do it, and covered with insurance and a copay. And she was insistent that I get to her office immediately, on a Friday evening, because my supply was at stake.
The first day after the revision, he was a little cranky and clingy, but that's to be expected. Then he started making up for lost time. He filled so many diapers over that weekend, and actually did more than a smear of poo. If he had a blowout diaper, I would've celebrated because it meant the bilirubin was moving out of his little body. Thankfully he didn't, but if he had, I would have cheered anyway. Diaper output immediately doubled. And then we had yet. another. follow-up. that Monday. He lost an ounce and the ped's office got all panicky. DUDE! He finally started producing diapers that were worth changing! Look at the whole picture here, will ya? I was supposed to go to a weight check on the Friday of his 3rd week, and I was exhausted. I refused to get in my mom-bus one. more. time. that week. My sanity, and that of my 4 year old needed to push pause on this incessant going places. Not to mention, the household budget needed a break from the fuel expenditure when I was not working to pay for said fuel, and copays.
I'd already had an appointment for the next Monday, so, really, I didn't feel a need to cater to the demands of the pediatrician's office when my sanity just was D.O.N.E.  and I needed to rest. This was not my first rodeo, and I felt safe staying home despite the objections of the nurses at the doctor's office. If mama is fried, the kids suffer. I learned that a long time ago. And I didn't care that they thought I was being neglectful. Yes, it's *just* a weight check. But to my 4 year old, it was yet another disruption this baby has caused her life, and making mommy impatient and cranky with her. She was devolving into a petulant, foot-dragging preschooler who was making mommy late for everything. We stayed home, and I napped on and off all day, with the little girl happily able to do what she wanted.
That next Monday, I had another ped appointment in the afternoon. I made them fax the lab order before my appointment, because I refused to spend my day waiting around and dealing with inefficient travels. I'd done this enough in the 3 weeks, I had a good gauge of the timing. Sure enough, he gained almost half a pound in a week, and the bilirubin was almost what it was when we left the hospital. No more wringers for us. We could resume a typical well-child check schedule.

And then 3 weeks later, for the well child check, Mr Mambo porked up an entire pound. No wonder I was losing circulation in my arms while holding him. Silly medical people, this mama is smarter than you think she is. Maybe you should listen more and wring her less.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Update on Kathryn

Kathryn is making progress.
Colin has more information.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Marrying young has advantages

I never thought I'd marry young, or have this many kids. But life has taken many scenic tours for us, despite what I call our Grand Plans of Marvelous Theory. Here we are, 2 decades together, still running headlong into the cloud of insanity that is our life.

A cousin who is 4 months older than our freshly minted Marine son, got married in May 2013. The same year in December, a friend's daughter who is about the same age got married. And no, neither one was a shotgun wedding. Of course, that has been the assumption and accusation, however unfair and inaccurate it might be.

Colin over at Catholic Husband shared a blog on his Crackbook wall that has me saying a whole-hearted AMEN. In the time of most marriages failing, regardless of the age of the spouses in the beginning of the marriage, there seems to be a resurgence of marrying young instead of waiting till mid-life crisis leers in the wings. And yes, a lot of young marriages HAVE crumbled. But not all of them do. In fact, some of the stronger marriages I've seen (and lived) are those initiated at a tender age.

Here, let me just copy what was posted on Early Mama as written by Gemma Hartley.

So here are 7 reasons I love my young marriage:
We Get To Grow Up Together
There’s certainly something to be said for “finding yourself” before settling down. But I think there’s something equally, if not more wonderfully, beneficial about growing up alongside your husband. Getting to experience such a vast majority of your life together — to grow as individuals side-by-side — is utterly amazing.
I’ve been able to watch my husband transform from the long-haired, baby-faced teenager I used to make-out with at house parties into a hardworking, loving husband and father. Living through that sort of transformation can deepen your respect and strengthen your bond. (Not to mention you'll probably have some epic stories to tell your kids.)
We're More Flexible
In the same way young motherhood has the advantage of flexibility, so does young marriage. We didn't have enough time to get set in our ways, so we've been more open to compromise. Because we got married in our early 20s, we were still figuring out how to "live like grown ups" — which wasn't only easier to do together, but more fun. The thrill of upgrading from a folding card table to a real-deal wood dining table is so much better when you have someone to share the experience with.
We Know the Statistics
Trust me, no one is more aware of the grim statistics surrounding young marriage than people who get married young. Relatives, friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers seem oddly eager to tell us how our relationship is doomed – how we’re na├»ve to think it could ever work, because just look at the facts! And yes, we know there are plenty of people shaking their heads behind our backs as well.
But you know what? Being aware of the statistics just makes us more determined to beat the odds. I think we are more willing to do the work to make our marriage successful because we know there are people out there waiting for us to fail — and we want to prove them wrong. I think we know better than most that problems will arise, and I believe knowing that makes us more apt to rise to those inevitable challenges.
Easier Parenting Transition
The transition into parenthood is never easy, but I do believe young marriages have a major advantage here. When you’re used to crazy schedules and not having lots of extra “me” money or nice vacations, becoming parents is not such a huge lifestyle adjustment. I think young couples are more prepared to roll with the punches, and that goes a long way in parenting.
Accomplishing Milestones Together
Of course most couples get to go through the major milestone of becoming parents together. Young couples, however, get to experience all sorts of amazing milestones side-by-side. Graduating high school or college, moving into your first crappy off-campus apartment, landing that first big job, saving up for your first grown-up car – these are awesome experiences my husband and I get to share in addition to becoming parents.
No Wedding-Fever Pressure
When my husband and I got married, we were definitely the first among our friends. Now we’re going to a lot more weddings, have a lot more married friends, and feel a lot more “normal.” In a few more years, we’ll become the majority and our unmarried friends might begin feeling the pressure to settle down – whether they’re ready or not.
In Meg Ray’s TED talk "Why 30 is not the new 20," she describes the enormous pressure that comes when everyone around you seems to suddenly marry at once. She describes the story often sounding like, “Dating in my twenties was like musical chairs, everybody was running around and having fun. But then sometime around 30 it was like the music turned off and everybody started sitting down. I didn’t want to be the only one left standing up.”
Marrying young has left that pressure off my plate completely, and even though I don’t think about it often, it is a huge relief.
A Great Romance
Great love stories can happen at any age. But the wild and passionate romance of a young relationship is a force to be reckoned with. We made-out in the backs of cars and held hands under the lunch table and stayed up all night day-dreaming and kissed beneath the Reno Arch at midnight to ring in a new year. We’ve done things too inappropriate to write out for the world to see, because we know what it is to be young and in love.
Young marriages get to run the whole course from young and stupid to old and wise. It’s a beautiful journey to make together, and one I wouldn’t trade for the world.
***

Yes, all of this fits us. Yes, we have endured some things that would have toppled anybody else's marriage. And yes, there are days at least one of us has wanted to punt the spouse to the curb with Wednesday's trash pickup. But the difference was that we were doggedly determined to prove those naysayers wrong, and make them eat their own words. Plus, in our case, the romance is still alive. That is documented by the ages of our five children - 20, 19, 11, 4, and the newest sprog born a few weeks ago.
Wedding pressure? Yes, we skipped that in spades. We eloped, and didn't keep contact with most of the peers. Between the 2 of us, less than a handful of the friendships we had as kids survived into adulthood. We felt no pressure in that regard what so ever.
Milestones? WHOOOOboy do we ever have a litany of those.
Parenting? We did this whole thing backwards, and got married after having 2 kids together.
Yes, we know the statistics, but we ignore them in favor of diving into what happens in our own household, not that of the millions of others with problems. It's none of my business really. I have enough on my plate, that I don't need to go LOOKING for problems that aren't mine to solve.
Flexibility? Yea, I learned a lot of that while Devildog was serving in the Marine Corps. We've got that covered, and SOOOO much more.
Growing up together? We did that with our kids too. And to tell the truth, we are still just big kids with big responsibilities. Our bodies tell a different story, but our hearts, minds, and souls decry the body's complaints. We are still young at heart, and that will serve us well when our children finally all fly the nest. We still have a lot of living to do together.