I tend to ask myself this question every day. As mommies, we never feel like we’re doing it right, or less than perfect. So without further ado, here’s what kind of mother I am.
I am a hugger. No. A squeezer. I am a kisser. Like a lot. Right in the mouth. I am a Chick Fil A mom and no I don’t always order grilled nuggets. (So sue me). I am a baby wipe mom-to clean butts, faces, shoes, counter tops, chairs, my car, you name it. I am a “let’s get you to daycare in time for breakfast” mom. I am the mother of a two year old with a tablet newer than mine. I am a “he doesn’t need anything else” mom and then I later go buy way too many unnecessary toys. I am a nose picker mom. Shove my giant finger up that lil baby’s nostrils and fish those boogies out. I am a no shame mom. I am the mother of a two year old who still uses a paci. I am a mother who gets criticized for having a two year old with a paci. I am a mother who doesn’t care about being criticized about having a two year old with a paci.
I am a military mom. I check on my son at least three times before I go to sleep so I can soak in as much of him as I can before my deployment this year. I am an EXTRA squeezer here lately. I am a sad mom sometimes but grateful for technology for when I’m gone. I am a worried mom that he won’t always have matching clothes to daycare when I’m gone; or that dad didn’t scrub his hair enough during bath time. I am a stressed mom because I pay attention to the little things and dad is more a big picture kind of guy. I am a grateful mom. Without my husband, I couldn’t do any of it.
I am an oversharing mom. Everybody gets videos and pics of my son and I have no shame. I am a messy mom. But like, organized chaos. I am a dog mom and now I am a fish mom because my husband has no self control AND NOW WE HAVE 8……. *deep breath*
Finally, I am a proud mom. I made that kid and he is awesome. I am not perfect but I am perfect to him. On Saturdays when I look like a crazy bag lady all day, all my son wants to do is love on me and play.
Yesterday I made one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. And today I had to follow through on that decision.
April 7th, 2009 is your birthday. I’ve had you since you were 3 months old! You were such a fun pup. My mom was so mad at me for getting you because I had a job at the time and she said everywhere I went, you went too! So guess what buddy? I took you to work, the beach, the bars and literally everywhere. You were my best friend!
I took you to Mississippi with me and we spent 3 fun years there too! I took you kayaking, I took you to the dog park WEEKLY, and I used to set up doggie play dates for you!
In 2010 I met Cedrik and in 2012 you met him. The second he walked through our apartment door you jumped on the couch and peed on it! I got so mad at you! I spanked you and sent you to your bed. But Cedrik came with Snoopy! You guys didn’t hit it off the first day but after the initial meeting, you two became BFF’s!
Cedrik and Snoopy invited us to come live with them in Savannah, Ga and we happily obliged! We got married and you and Snoopy became official brothers! We had so much fun! And you were never alone during the day again!
While we still had fun, I know we stopped doing a lot of the fun things I used to involve you in. We stopped going to doggie parks and I didn’t have any friends to set up play dates with. At least you and Snoopy had a big back yard to play in!
In 2015 I started getting really fat and cried into your fur for weird things, but you didn’t care. You were loving every minute of it! One day, Cedrik and I had to leave the house in a hurry and you were so confused and concerned! I gave you a pat on the head and said I’d see you soon.
Three days later I returned with another human! A little tiny one! You were so curious and stressed out that first week! Every time he cried, you cried. Every time I picked him up, you stared him down and sniffed him all over! I thought you two would be buds!
I went about this whole baby/doggie integration thing completely wrong. Every time you got near the baby I would say “No!” or “Go!” No wonder you were stressed out! And I’m so sorry for that. As the baby got older, you started getting more and more tense around him.
One day, the tiny human was playing with Cedrik and you thought Cedrik was being attacked! So out of instinct, you lunged at the baby and nipped him on his cheek! I screamed. Cedrik screamed. And you got a spanking. We were so angry at you, we discussed several options. Ultimately, you don’t just give away a family member because of one small incident so we decided to just be patient with you to see if you could get along with the baby.
Things were fine since then. Until yesterday. The tiny human got too close to you and you got so angry, you bit him on the mouth. He bled a lot. He bled so much that we couldn’t really see the damage so we took him to the ER. I screamed a lot. And Cedrik yelled at you and you got another spanking. Luckily he is okay and will probably just have a small scar at the most. You bit him hard, Zeus and it was very scary.
I’m sorry, Zeus. I’m sorry I didn’t do more research on how to get you ready for a baby human. I’m sorry I created a tense environment for you. I’m sorry I always got angry instead of trying to work with you.
Because of this incident, Zeus, I decided it is not safe for you to be near the baby anymore. I have decided it will be less stressful for you and more safe for the tiny human if you go live with my friend, Lyndsey. Remember her, Zeus? She used to go with us on all our adventures back in the day and you love her!
She has a dog named Charley and he looks sort of like Snoopy! She already loves you so much so you don’t even have to go with a stranger! I know she will take great care of you Zeus da moose. You will be much happier and much more stress free with her.
You will always be my first baby. My spotty boy. My lumpy head. My moo moo. My Zeus da Moose.
The end is near! I made a 90 on my fourth test and I have one more test to go before I am completely finished with this!
Cedrik and Noah are flying in next week! The anticipation is unreal… Every single day I wake up more excited than the last. It’s finally here. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I can finally go home soon.
This past week, I got to see Katherine again. We went tubing down the San Marcos River and it was UH-MAY-ZING! We know each other from growing up in Mississippi, so getting to float down the river was very Mississippi of us. I also invited a classmate and his fiancee to join us, and Kat invited one of her friends too. It was an awesome relaxing day. It would have been even better if I made it all the way through without losing my Maui Jim’s. I broke the first rule of river tubing: DON’T TAKE EXPENSIVE SHADES TO THE DAMN RIVER. *a moment of silence for the $200 sunglasses please* At one point I was thrown out of my tube because no one told me my butt was about to play the role of an anchor on an upcoming rock. That’s when I lost the shades. I also got stuck on a rock (sans float) while the river kept rushing against me. Needless to say, I look like I got into a prison fight and the other person had a baseball bat. Still, it was a very fun day.
Notice how I made sure I was tied to the beer tube LOL
These past 5 weeks, I have been amazed at how baby Noah is growing. He started to crawl the day I left home. He is now pulling himself up on everything and standing. All of those things I saw on FaceTime. Today, it happened. Cedrik took him to a baseball game and they FaceTime’d me afterwards. When Noah saw me on the phone he said, “MAMA! MAMA!”
I’ll just wait while you soak that in for a second
MY BABY SAID MAMA! I had to point the phone upwards at the ceiling while I burst into tears. Tears of joy because I finally heard my baby call me mama. Tears of sadness because I haven’t been able to hold my lil peanut in over a month and now he’s calling me mama. Four months of hearing him say da-da and I finally hear clear as day “MAMA” and its through a phone. It was truly a bittersweet moment.
This week has been unusually hard for some reason. Even though I have about 5 days until I see my family, I’ve been extra sad lately. I guess my positivity well is running a little dry and being away is slowly taking it’s toll on me. I just have to keep fighting and keep studying and stay focused for the home stretch. One more test and I am out of here!
I made a 100 on my second and third tests and nothing or no one is keeping me from graduating! I got my eyes set on the end and nothing can bring me down.
Before I came to Texas, I was told by practically everyone, even doctors, that I would not be able to resume breastfeeding after these 6 weeks. Well guess what? With a little determination, a LOT of pumping, a hope and a prayer, I have been able to keep a steady supply all on my own. TAKE THAT SCIENCE! (or is it biology?) All that work, an entire foam cooler of breast milk that never made it home, people telling me to just let it go… I overcame! In two weeks, I will see my lil peanut again and we can go back to breastfeeding until his first birthday like I originally planned. BOOM. *drops mic*
Baby Noah is a crawling machine and he just recently started pulling himself up on things to stand! *faints* I feel like I am missing everything 😦 I missed his whole crawling phase and now this… I cannot wait to squeeze that little guy.
Cedrik is still doing ok but I think his energy is slowly but surely starting to wear down. I feel bad for the hubs but I’m sort of glad he’s going through it. For the first 6 months of Noah’s life, he was working on testing for Master Sergeant. That means he would work 10 hours a day, and then come home to study. Or he would stay at work longer to study. So what did that mean for me? 24/7 baby duty. He changed the occasional baby diaper, but occasional diaper changes don’t even tap into your energy stash. Now that he’s doing everything, he’s had a front row seat to being a full-time parent, and full-time military. It’s tough work but we can tackle it together when I get back.
I went bowling with some classmates last weekend. It was actually pretty fun! There were TV’s at the end of each lane where you could choose what you wanted to watch in your lane. The place was packed and we had to wait an hour and a half for a lane, but luckily there was a margarita place called Chuy’s right across the street where we passed the time.
One of the nicest bowling alleys I’ve ever been to.
These were so comfy!
Last weekend I also got to see a very good friend from high school! Katherine and I are more like sisters, so it was so amazing to get to spend a day with her. This weekend we’re going on a super fun outdoor adventure, so I’m pretty excited we get to see each other again. She lives in Austin now, and I haven’t seen her in about 5 or 6 years! So much fun!
After this coming weekend, I will just have one more weekend to spend here before I start packing my bags for the trip back! Cedrik and Noah are coming for my graduation and to accompany me on the drive back. Knowing they are coming has given me more motivation than ever. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! Being away from your family really makes you appreciate every single minute you have with them. This has been tough, but I am on the home stretch now.
Just as quickly as this training began, that’s how quickly it is getting nearer to graduation day. Week 3 flew by in a flash and now I’m pretty much halfway finished with this course!
We have been jumping from instructor to instructor because our original one was on medical leave until Wednesday of this past week! He informed us that we were about 3 days behind on material, but that if we worked hard, we would still graduate on time. As if we weren’t stressed enough about passing tests… Overall, he seems like a great instructor and he prepped us well for test 2. I made a 100!! Woop Woop! 2 down, 3 more to go!
You remember that freezer full of breastmilk I shared a picture of in week 1? I shipped it home!
Countless hours I researched “How to ship breastmilk” when I was pregnant finally paid off. Thanks to YouTube and Google, I learned how to do this safely with a styrofoam cooler, dry ice, packing paper, packing tape, a box, and LOT’S of patience. Not to mention I had to stand in the post office with a giant box that had “PERISHABLE BREASTMILK” labels all over it. People were staring at me as if the box had said “BEWARE, EBOLA VIRUS INSIDE”. I held that box proudly and looked every one of those judgy bastards in the eye with a “And what?” smile.
And now for the bad news…
The cooler never got to Cedrik. It was supposed to arrive on Friday… Well, here we are on Thursday the following week and my shipment full of 3 week’s worth of breastmilk is turning into cottage cheese somewhere. I will be paying a little visit to the post office and expressing the importance of the liquid gold that is breast milk. And I learned my lesson. Next time, use UPS or FedEx…. Ugh…
On a brighter note, Lil’ Peanut is just getting cuter and cuter by the day! He’s crawling, holding his own bottle, and swears he’s carrying on a conversation with people. The other night I was Facetiming them and all of a sudden he just pushed himself up on Cedrik and stood up for a minute. So many milestones in the past month! At least I got to see it though. He and Cedrik seem to be having some amazing baby/Daddy bonding time which makes me really happy too.
I can’t express enough how FaceTime and the baby monitor have helped me get through this time away. Even though he gets to see me through the phone every day, I’m worried he’ll cry or not want me to hold him when he sees me in person. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
This weekend I mostly studied, but I did get to see an old friend from Savannah who is stationed here now! We went to an adorable cuban place off the Riverwalk for dinner and spent the rest of the night at an Irish pub drinking whiskey and Irish ale like a couple of grizzly men. It was amazing!
Week 2 has been better than week 1. Training has me so busy with studying and notecards and homework, I don’t have time to mope and think about how much I miss my family. I’ve developed a nice routine.
0545 – Wake up
0600 – Brush teeth, do hair, get dressed, pump.
0645 – Go downstairs and eat breakfast
0700 – Head out for training
1100 – 1300 is lunch. Thank goodness for those 2 hours! I have time to eat, pump and take a little nap before I have to go back!
1300 – 1530 Finish up training day
1630 – Pump, Workout
1730 – Shower, dinner and study for the rest of the night
In between all those after-training activities, I try to FaceTime with the baby and husband as much as possible! Every time that little face smiles at me and flashes me those dimples, I tear up.
Sleep is hard to come by in a hotel with thin walls. I can hear little kids excited to go to Sea World in the morning stomping around all night. I can hear other people’s TVs. One night I heard rhythmic, Arabic/Muslim chanting from about 9pm-midnight. I had to call security that night. Not to mention, I’ve always loved sleep and yet I can never get any at night. And of course I just stare at Noah through the baby monitor until I fall asleep.
On a brighter note, I passed my first exam with a 94! Woo!!! One test down, 4 more to go! The sooner I can get through all this, the sooner I get to squeeze my loves!
The hotel I’m staying at has a stove, full fridge/freezer, and it includes pots and pans, plates, glasses, etc. So at least I don’t have to eat out every single night! I’ve been alternating between burger patties and chicken breasts this week. Lunch is usually a healthy choice steamer or a lean cuisine. I’ll have to alternate two other meats next week to switch it up. This hotel also has a “Social Hour” on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They cook or grill food and have free adult beverages for the long term residents! The best part, IT’S FREE!! I went last Wednesday night and enjoyed a baked potato bar and salad. It was actually delicious!
Training wise, everything is going steadily. Being on Lackland again for the first time since basic training has given me some flashbacks of getting yelled at in the 100 degree heat in the middle of the street. Ahhh, the Air Force. The good thing is, now that I’m a Staff Sergeant, most of the brand new airmen are terrified when they see me walk by and either pop to attention or get really nervous. You should see their faces when I’m like, “HELLO THERE!” and smile. It’s like they just saw a unicorn or something. I never yell at them. They’ve had it hard enough.
There are 17 students in the class and 5 of us are prior service. That means that we have all been in different career fields and are now cross-training into a new career field. The rest are NPS (Non-prior Students). Those are airmen are straight out of basic training. Being prior service has it’s perks in tech school. 2 hour lunches, we get to show up 30 minutes later than the NPS, and we get to leave 30 minutes earlier than them in the afternoons. Not too shabby.
As far as Texas goes….
On a scale of “Damn, it’s hot!” to “I’m melting”, I would say it’s about “Satan’s asshole” degrees outside. Like literally in the 100s almost every day. I don’t know how the NPS are making it marching everywhere. Let’s just say our classroom always has a certain “new airman musk”. I’ve learned to keep Febreeze in my backpack.
I decided to go be a tourist this July 4th weekend!
I mentioned last week that I would probably go to the Alamo and I actually got off my butt and did it! It’s pretty cool to see, but a little disappointing as well. Much respect to the Alamo and it’s history, it’s just a bit of a tourist trap. I didn’t go in because there was a huge line and the Texas sun was already melting my face off. But I did take some cool photos while there and bought a few souvenirs. In my mind, I pictured the Alamo being like out in the middle of the desert somewhere with tumbleweeds blowing around it – like the church in Kill Bill or something. Nope! It’s right in the middle of downtown San Antonio! Across the street there was the Guinness World Record museum and other novelty stores. I also went in the Guinness museum. Worst $20 I ever spent. It was like $10 more expensive than a Ripley’s, and 10 times smaller with more lame stuff. I definitely do not recommend that one. (Suddenly I’m a Trip Advisor review writer).
Saturday was definitely a day of firsts. I went to the Alamo, I had my very first Boba tea (bubble tea), and I went to ‘In n Out Burger’ for the first time ever. All three were pretty amazing. You already read my Yelp review above on the Alamo, that boba tea though…
It was definitely something to write home about. If there was a place to buy boba tea in Savannah, I would probably keep it in business all on my own. In n Out Burger was good but nothing too special. I gave it like a 7 all around.
I finished up the holiday weekend grilling out with some classmates at the hotel pool and waiting for the fireworks from SeaWorld. My hotel is literally 5 minutes away from that kill shelter…. I mean park.
It turns out, the fireworks were blocked off by the hotel itself and we could only see like the very end result of the fireworks…. I wound up going back to my room, putting on my July 4th “Merica” socks and FaceTime’d Cedrik and Noah for the rest of the night. Week 2 was good to me.
Those are a few examples of what I’ve been hearing since I found out I’d have to be away from my baby and husband for about 2 months this summer.
I know, I know. It sounds a bit dramatic. I realize there are mommies and daddies that are away from their families for a year or longer in military situations. I realize that in retrospect, 2 months is an overnight stay compared to what others have experienced. That being said, I haven’t been away from home that long since I went to Basic and tech school almost 9 years ago! I didn’t care back then. They could have sent me away for a year. I didn’t have a husband or baby. I would have gone. Things are different now.
The FIRST night away from my peanut was hard. The morning that I left, I just hugged him and kissed him and cried my eyes out and talked to him and took a video in bed so I could watch it every morning while I was gone. My eyes were super puffy from crying the night before too.
I also cried a few times in the car. Especially when the little receiving blanket I brought with me to smell him while I was away got some coffee spilled on it. “Hi, my name is Leilani, and I’m obsessed with my kid.”
I spent the night at the halfway mark which was Biloxi, MS. I was exhausted and sad and all I wanted to do was lie down. Instead, I decided to get out, go get some supplies for the other half of my trip, and ride around in Biloxi for a little bit. Luckily, my husband positioned the baby monitor so that I could see Noah in his crib like I usually do every night at home. That helped.
I’ve never been away from him for more than 8 hours at a time. And now, the first time that I’ll be away from him, it’s for almost 2 months. For a breastfeeding mommy, this has taken an emotional toll on me. My goal was to breastfeed for 1 year; now he’s almost 8 months and I may be finished. I’m one week in and still pumping – and very successfully actually.
Hopefully I can maintain a supply so that I can resume breastfeeding when I get back home. According to Noah’s pediatrician, my supply will slowly dwindle until it drops completely, due to being away from baby for so long. I will keep trying! I have to remind myself that it’s ok if my milk supply dwindles. I breastfed for 7 months and still the baby is drinking breastmilk due to all the stash I froze!
Besides the baby mama firsts, I’ve never driven so long in a vehicle by myself. 18 hours from Savannah, Ga to San Antonio, TX with an overnight sleep in Biloxi. That’s rough. Props to all you truck drivers out there. If I knew I had to make those long interstate trips for a living, I would probably choose another job. I’ve made the trip to Biloxi from Savannah before and it seemed like an eternity. However, knowing that I had to drive the same amount of time two days in a row (roughly 8-9 hours) made the trip seem like a piece of cake. No GPS needed for that one.
While I stay busy, I forget about missing home. My training begins at 0730 and ends at 1600. By the time I get back to my hotel, I have to do homework, study, workout, eat and get some sleep. But yesterday, Friday, I was really missing home. There was no homework. No alarm to set for class in the morning. It was just me, in my room, creeping on the baby through the monitor again.
It’ll get better.
This morning I woke up feeling rejuvenated and well rested. Something I haven’t felt since before I was pregnant! And even though it felt wonderful, I still missed my peanut and husband. #DatMomLifeTho
I’ll do my best to stay busy this next weekend away. Maybe go to the Alamo. I’m about 5 minutes from SeaWorld as well, which is actually free for military, however, after watching Blackfish, I just can’t. I could maybe check out Aquatica too. I would go to Six Flags but I may see if my fellow prior service classmates want to go as a group.
Cedrik is doing amazing daddy things at home. I left him a “Noah’s Day” checklist on the fridge to go by and it seems to be helping. We FaceTime at night which is nice. THANK YOU, TECHNOLOGY. Also, my baby has started to crawl. *cue waterworks* I’ve been away literally 5 days and he is crawling. Who knows what else he’ll develop while I’m gone! What if I get back and he doesn’t warm up to me? What if he cries out of sadness when he sees me again? I can’t think about that right now.
The quicker I get through this training, the quicker I can progress militarily and the quicker I can get back to my family!