I Promise to No Longer Feel Shame for Being a Mother

I was twenty years old when I first set eyes on those two pink lines; initially I was overcome with joy, but then I wasn’t. Regardless of the fact that it was my choice to have a child, I constantly walked in shame with my oversized belly and lack of precious metals on my left hand. What felt like a millisecond of intense happiness quickly faded as I stared intently at my blouse which said U.S. Marines. Thoughts of verbal abuse and belittlement flooded my brain. Up until that point I had been regularly surrounded by men whose views and opinions of me were loud and hostile. I dreaded every second of wearing my maternity uniform because that just labeled me as a slut, whore, typical female Marine.

I worked my ass off when I was pregnant. At 37 weeks I was exhausted. When I presented a letter to my superiors that stated I was to work fewer hours, I was laughed at. I was so tired and burnt out I submitted a request for leave which would take place the following week at which I would be 38 weeks pregnant. I didn’t make it that far.

The morning of my last Friday before leave I woke up at 5 a.m.I pulled my hair back into a bun so tightly it pulled my forehead and eyes back, I looked like a meerkat. I left home at 6 a.m. to get to work as always 15 minutes early for morning formation. At the time I was counting steps; I walked four miles that day by the time I got off at 430. That night my now husband took me to dinner for a final hoorah before the baby. We ended up walking the mall afterwards and got home around 9 p.m. I was awakened from a short sleep at 10 p.m. by a flow of liquid comparable to the Hoover Dam breaking. This is how I began my 20 hour labor.

I wanted to be tough, so I declined meds. Contractions had not started so I was given something to get them going, and boy did they. I endured 8 hours of pain only to hear that I was dilated to about a 3. I couldn’t take it any longer especially after I had basically been up for over 24 hours. I had an epidural and was able to take a quick nap before contractions in my back became unbearable and it was time to push.

The second I met my little Barrett I knew I had never felt a love like this before.

I went back to work when he was 6 weeks old. I was blessed to get him into a fantastic daycare on base less than a mile from where I worked. I cried for thirty minutes the first day I left him and daily thereafter. Up to this point I had never let anyone at work see my emotions. But when I got back the verbal harassment and abuse were terrifying. What was said hurt me beyond repair. I remember rushing to the bathroom numerous times to break down and cry. One of the worst concepts that I was disparaged for was the fact that I got 32 days off of work and that it wasn’t fair to the men that all I had to do was sleep around to get time off. I don’t need to explain the physical pain I faced after giving birth, but the emotional pain of having to leave my child and face scrutiny from my peers was heartbreaking.

I was exclusively breastfeeding and I was only producing about 6 ounces a day at work. Sometimes I would rush to get work done and slip out to take my son some milk. Not only did I face contempt from my peers I was suffering internally; I felt so worthless because I wasn’t making enough milk for my baby.

Many say I’m lucky because I lost so much weight after giving birth. My pre-pregnancy weight was 135, third trimmest was 150, two months postpartum I was 105. I didn’t know it, or I didn’t want to admit to myself at the time, but I was severely depressed. I felt so weak and faint all the time. Sometimes I think the only thing that kept me going was my sweet child.

I continued that routine for two years until my contract expired. I welcomed my second son almost three years after. I began working again in the civilian sector when he was 18 months old. I have battled physical and mental barriers and have never once taken credit for all that I have accomplished. I have always been ashamed of what I am.

It is now my goal to no longer be ashamed of being a mom, a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, for feeding my baby formula, of anything. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Everyone has struggled at some point and lost hope. The power comes in that choice of building yourself back up.

I want to hear of others’ stories of struggle because we are all so much alike in our struggles whether we show it or not. It is my hope that other women build each other up rather than break each other down.

5 Products I Never Knew I Needed

  1. Noise Cancelling Headphones

I scoffed at my husband when he came home from a business trip with a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones. I thought they were a luxury item and completely unnecessary, until I used them. I have since seized ownership of them because I use them EVERYDAY. I never realized how triggered I get at the sound of my kids screaming, whether they are playing or just crying like young toddlers do. When I wear the headphones while cleaning or cooking I am able to focus, which is something I didn’t know I could do previously because screaming kids and loud toys. With these magical headphones I become patient Mama and can actually reason because my mind is cleared of audible distractions.

  1. Birthing/Exercise Ball

I originally got a birthing ball for my first pregnancy which I used to sit on at work during the last few weeks of pregnancy. I’d roll my hips around in hopes to give the baby an eviction notice. I also used the ball while in labor at the hospital. I kept that same ball and reused for my second pregnancy. In addition to birthing uses the ball is also great for exercise, I’ve been using it for every ab workout lately.

  1. Collapsible Wagon

This was also my husbands idea. I have used the wagon for years now beginning with my first and now with both my kids. I prefer it over my huge double stroller that is just an inconvenience to lug around. The Radio Flyer collapsible wagon is lightweight, has a detachable sunshade, and I think the kids enjoy it more too. Overall it’s just much easier to use and navigate than my stroller. I have even ridden in it with both my kids on top of me while my husband pulled us around at the fair 😊

  1. Phone Mount for Car

I am strictly against phone use while driving and had always assume that those phone mounts made it easier for people to do so. I bought one for $3 because I was going to be driving a new route and it was too difficult to prop my phone in my cup holder and pay attention to the navigation. The one I purchased worked well for almost 9 months which is good for the price. It just clipped onto the air vent and was easy to glance at while not losing sight of the road for too long. I will eventually purchase a better quality one to replace this one when I no longer sticks to the vent.

  1. Coat Rack for Entryway

Installing a cheap coat rack right in my entrance way has saved my from cluttering up my house every time I walk in the door, which almost always involves me holding a kid, my purse, and whatever clutter I can grab onto when exiting my car. It’s a reliable place to store my purse, keys, and wallet so I never lose them (which I always used to do).

My love-hate relationship with San Diego

I lived in San Diego, CA for four years and, at the time, I absolutely hated it.

  1. I lived on the third floor of a two bedroom apartment where finding a parking space was nearly impossible.
  2. Out of all the time I lived there, I don’t remember seeing the same person twice at the grocery store. There are so many people and everyone always seemed to be in such a rush. I grew up in a town of fewer than 13,000 people.
  3. My fifteen-mile commute took at least thirty minutes and sometimes up to an hour and a half.
  4. The weather was almost always the same. Foggy and a little chilly most mornings and warm and sunny just before noon. It seemed like there were only two seasons: summer and slightly chilly summer.
  5. Everything was always crowded: the beaches, the malls, the grocery stores, the many lakes, everything.

My move from San Diego taught me a very valuable, and very cliche, lesson: the grass is always greener on the other side. This was my first home away from home and boy was I spoiled.

Ironically, I love San Diego and I miss it so much. Most of all, I miss the food; sushi, Korean BBQ, Thai food, ramen, pretty much all restaurants on Convoy Street. There was always something to do, from the small neighborhood events to Padres games and everything in between. I took my son to the Fleet Science Center and Balboa park at least five times while there. I grew up a Giants fan, but man was it fun to root for the Padres after a few Sculpins at beautiful Petco Park. Weekend drives to Julian or Borrego Springs. I definitely did not know a good thing when I had it. There is never a shortage of things to discover there.

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Photo by Stephen Niemeier on Pexels.com

This seemingly innocent, but extremely selfish act kills thousands each year

Teens, adults, moms, dads, grandparents, politicians, and even police officers, they all have one thing in common: being distracted behind the wheel. The carelessness of most people getting behind the wheel of a nearly two-ton hunk of metal is astounding.

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, car accidents attributed to more than 37,000 deaths a year in the U.S. as well as over 2 million injuries. The costs of car accidents also exceed $230 billion. Yet, every stop sign, intersection, cross-walk, residential street, and so on, you will see that most drivers disobey the simplest laws. Laws that should be more common sense and courtesy rather than laws.

The sad part? Most people don’t even see it as an issue. So what if you don’t fully stop at a stop sign, yield when approaching a cross-walk, or god forbid, drive 25 mph in a residential neighborhood or school zone. No one considers anyone but themselves while behind the wheel, and that is a major issue.

This is not a generational problem, just take a short drive and you will see all demographics carelessly endangering the lives of those around them. This is a society problem. Selfless acts don’t only come from giving tangible things, but simply from being aware of your surroundings and being courteous at all times.

Don’t reply to that article that pisses you off: use it for motivation

Whether its an ignorant comment on social media or an article that makes you question the sanity of the author, do not reply. There have been numerous instances where I am so passionate about an online argument that I create a response out of anger. Not only do I end up looking back and regretting it, but I also wasted valuable time. How often do you find yourself on Facebook in the comment section of a post by some completely random page arguing with a random stranger? Most comment threads are filled with comments that are just plain rude, its hard not to reply to the trolls. This is the primary reason I deleted my social media, the privacy terms with just the tipping point. I recently read an article which claimed that stay at home moms don’t do nearly as much work as working moms (I’ll hold my opinion on that). Some topics like this infuriate me and I wanted so bad to conjure up a lengthy response, but I didn’t. I used that anger for the rest of the day to accomplish tasks that I would never really get done.  The outcome? I felt amazing. Instead of adding to the cesspool of online garbage, I was able to translate those emotions into beneficial actions (and I didn’t look like an idiot). At the end of the day, does the content online really affect our lives? Only if we let it.