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Monday, October 6, 2014

Mom of the Month - Libby Butler

So, so excited to share October's Mom of the Month, Libby Butler! She's kinda related to me (married to my husband's cousin) and we've become great friends over the last few years. When another mom nominated her it made my day, I've been waiting for her to be recognized for her hard work, determination, and overall 100% dedication to her children. She's one of those mom friends you can sit down with and just spill your guts to without having seen each other in months. She's fiercely devoted to her babies, they are her world. I admire her so much. I know you will, too, after reading such honesty from her. Love, love what she shared!

Thank you, Libby, congrats, awesome momma!

Describe your children in 3-5 words. 
Robyn: smart, loud, silly, strong-willed, active, loving (I know that is 6 but I can't narrow it down)
Simon: sweet, curious, persistent, moving, giggly 

How old are your children?
Robyn – turned 3 on 9/12
Simon – will turn 1 on 10/21

All images from Libby Butler 

How would you describe your pregnancies?
Robyn – I was SO psyched to be pregnant...happened quicker than I expected – but since I HATE to wait I was happy for that :) I was sick and on prescription anti-nausea medication and antacids from 7 weeks to finally a sweet relief at 38 weeks. Other than feeling sick it was a rather easy pregnancy. I lived close to the ocean and took advantage of the cool air and cold water since I was due at the end of the summer. I worked until my due date although she didn't show up for another 10 days! 

Simon – This pregnancy was very different, yet very similar in that it was essentially an uneventful pregnancy. I didn't have any medical complications. I had pretty significant morning sickness, although it went away around 16 weeks. However, I wasn't as naive as the first time around. This pregnancy was 6 months after a miscarriage so I was anxious and worried all the time about losing my baby. I was also exhausted. When pregnant, there is a big difference between spending time away from work lounging on a couch versus spending time away from work chasing a toddler. I was just SO tired and didn't have the down time – my body hurt and the 3rd trimester was so uncomfortable. I had a little bit of PT that helped my pelvic pain...but carrying a toddler around in addition to a pregnant belly just hurt. I gave up on work a week before my due date – luckily he was born 4 days early so I never technically missed a day. 

4. Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words.
Organized, patient, anxious, dedicated, loving 

5. What type of mom do you hope your children think you were someday when they're old enough to tell you?

Mostly I hope they think I am a loving mother. One of the things I admire most about my own mother is that I have never wondered if she had a favorite child. To this day, my sister and I both feel she loves us equally. My mother is loving, consistent, fair, and a constant supporter. I hope my own children see me that way and respect me like I respect my own mother. 

6. What things have you done as a mom that you're most proud of?
I am most proud of letting go of my own need to control things to allow my daughter to be her own person. I have to mentally tell myself to step back, to give her space to make her own decisions. Luckily at 3 those decisions don't have much weight so it's good practice for when she is older and the stakes are higher. I send her to school in some pretty ridiculous outfits and mismatched socks and shoes – but I figure she is pretty standard for a preschooler :) I don't even bother trying to buy outfits that match anymore. 

I try to stand back when she is playing so she can find her own way in the world. Sometimes it means she's on a playground holding her own on a merry-go-round with a half dozen 7 year old boys or letting her wait to get a turn on a zip line in amongst a group of adolescents. 

It would be easy for me to step in but I try to lag back to let her find her own way. It's really hard, I'd rather be there all the time holding her hand and keeping the world nice to her, and I still do that sometimes, but I try to let go when I can. 

On a more superficial note, I am proud of the play space I have created for my kids. I have been VERY fortunate to have lots of hand-me-downs from my family and I shop the secondhand shops for good toys. I have a toy room that gives me so much joy watching my kids play. 

7. What have been the most difficult parts to being a mom?

I read somewhere (maybe on here) – say no when it's easier to say yes, say yes when it's easier to say no. Wow that is hard to do sometimes...and it's still a work in progress for me. 

A good example of saying no when it's easier to say yes is in regards to technology and TV use. There are so many times when it would be easier to turn on the TV (and don't get me wrong – this still does happen) – but it certainly takes a lot energy to redirect the 3 year old to something else – especially when the 3 year old has a one track mind. 

And then on the other hand, saying yes when it would be easier to say no – it's hard trying to remember that a small inconvenience for me may be worth a lot of fun for my kids. Yes, it would be fun to touch EVERY SINGLE dew covered spider web on the front lawn. I may have to go to work a few minutes late in dew covered shoes but my daughter had a blast running around the yard. 

I suppose the lack of sleep is also a challenge. I'm still up multiple times in the night either feeding a baby or pulling a 3 year old into my bed. I feel like I NEVER get enough sleep. If a kid is awake – I'm awake. There are some nights I am just too exhausted and end up falling asleep with my daughter at 7:30 haha. 

It's difficult having to be a working mom. Although I wouldn't want to stop working because I really like my job. But I feel like the time is so precious and there just isn't enough of it. 

I so much enjoy watching my kids play and learn – I could spend all day at the playground or the beach or the merry-go-round. I wish the days were longer or I could work shorter hours. It's difficult coming home from work and only having a short time to get dinner, baths, and kids to bed. I try to stay focused on the kids, put my phone down, and save any household business until after bedtime. I just want more time. 

8. What is your favorite baby product(s) that makes your mom job easier?
  • Wipes
  • Food pouches
  • LL Bean back pack
  • Sleep sacks 

9. What advice about being a mom would you give to a brand new mother?
Don't buy anything with snaps or buttons. Seriously, don't do it. Okay, maximum of 3 snaps...but no buttons! I don't care how cute that pink fuzzy owl sleeper is, trying to snap 15 buttons at 3am sucks. 

Find a mommy support group. This could be a casual group of moms you know, or a more organized group offered through a local hospital – but find other moms to connect with when you are home with a baby. It's so hard being a new mom and having all that pressure of needing to do EVERYTHING right. And hormones are raging and things that really aren't that much of a big deal in the long run seem like huge decisions. I remember feeling so stressed and anguished about giving my daughter a pacifier when she was first born. And then my son came along (probably second born thing) and all I wanted him to do was take the f*ing pacifier...but he wouldn't! So my point, talk to other moms – find people to trust. 

And finally, get out of the house everyday (or most days – no pressure!). Even if it's just to go through the drive-thru to get a coffee – get out. 

10. What is a typical day like for you?
12:00 am – feed the baby
4:00 am – feed the baby and go to bed in my daughter's room for a couple of hours of peaceful sleep (her bed is empty because she is in my bed) 
6:00 am – get up to get ready for work
6:30-7:15 – get diapers off/changed, kids dressed, feed my son
7:30-4:00 Work 
4:15ish – 3x/week pick up kids at daycare, 2x/week go straight home because my son is there with one of his grandmothers
4:30 – feed my son
5:00 eat dinner – hopefully something that was prepared the night before otherwise my husband and I are horrible at figuring out what to eat 
5:30 son gets a bath (and maybe the 3 year old but this is hit or miss) 
6:00 feed my son and put him to bed
6:30-7:00 read books with my daughter in her bed
7:00 – 8:00 usually fall asleep in my daughter's room while she goes to sleep
8:00 – 10:00 – get ready for next day, pick up, laundry, watch TV while surfing the internet
10:00 - go to bed
11:00 – make room in my bed for my daughter 

11. What 5 things would you like to do with your kids someday, if anything were possible and money no object?
  1. Go to Iceland (my honeymoon location) 
  2. Go to a big amusement park 
  3. Go to a top ranked playground 
  4. Go on a long camping trip 
  5. Take yearly vacations with my sister and her family 

12. What are your favorite HALLOWEEN activities to do with your kids?
I've only really celebrated Halloween once since having children. On top of having a 10 day old baby last year, it was cold and rainy. After that night, whenever it rained, my daughter thought we should go out and get candy. It sounds like a good idea to me.

13. Tell us a time where you felt like you failed at parenting... but then realized you truly had not failed, things worked out fine.
I hate telling people this stays between me and the 1,400 of you ;) I was and still am so ashamed for how I felt after my ultrasound with my son. I had promised my husband that we wouldn't find out the baby's gender because he didn't want to know – and I had gotten my way during my first pregnancy by finding out we were having a girl. But, I was so wrapped up in worrying all the time and being anxious about losing the baby, I felt like I needed some time to make the pregnancy real, something to make me sane...and there is nothing that calms my nerves more than organization. 

So, my husband agreed to find out the baby's gender so I could start planning and preparing. When the ultrasound technician brought up the very clear image of a penis, my heart sank. I was terrified. I was disappointed. I really wanted another girl – a sister for my daughter, just like I had. I cried all the way back to work and put on a “Oh I'm so excited to have a boy” face. And inside I cringed whenever anyone said something to the effect, oh a boy and a girl, how perfect. I felt horrible. There I was, lucky to be pregnant, lucky to have been told I was having a healthy baby boy, yet I was so filled with mixed emotions because I had always envisioned having 2 girls. It wasn't that I didn't want a boy, it just didn't fit with what I knew, I wanted a girl. 

It took me until I delivered my son and met him to feel comfortable with having a baby boy. And I loved him as soon as I met him. The crazy thing was, I felt more connected to him after his birth than I did with my daughter. He was everything I wanted, he was perfect. 

I look back on those days, and my insides burn with shame. I never want my son to know how I failed him for not realizing how much I wanted him. So maybe I still did fail at parenting, but things worked out more than fine. I wish I knew then what I know now – I wouldn't trade in my sweet loving little boy for a thousand girls. 

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