Desperate For Balance

I am a mother of three children.

I am a mother of three children, and I spend my days changing diapers, kissing boo-boos, and giving hugs.

My job of raising these beautiful children bring me joy. And sometimes, it breaks my heart.

My oldest is 6, my middle child is 4, and my youngest is 12 months. My oldest is in her first year of homeschooling, and I have yet to figure out a good way to balance my time between all three.

It’s very easy to spend time with my oldest, since we spent a lot of time studying together. And my youngest, well he’s just a baby (at least to me), so we connect with nursing and cuddling and co-sleeping.

But my poor four year old. It’s hard to find time to spend one-on-one with her.

The other day she asked me for some crayons and paper, and even though I had tons of stuff to do I sat down and doodled with her. She immediately hugged me, thanked me with all her heart for coloring with her, and as I looked into her sweet face I saw that she had tears in her eyes.

That’s when it hit me: My daughter is so thankful for one-on-one time with her mother that it brings her to tears.

Talk about feeling like the world’s crappiest mother.

I need to find more balance. I need to find more ways to connect with my sweet, thankful daughter.

I need help.

For those with more than two kids, how do you keep your balance?

I am a mother of three, I spend all my days kissing boo-boos and changing diapers…and I desperately need to know.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice?

The other day I went grocery shopping with my youngest, my 9 month old. After filling my cart with groceries, we were waiting to check out when I heard the two women behind me in line start talking about how adorable my son was. Soon after, he started getting fussy and without a second thought I picked him up, latched him on, and held him in my arms while he nursed.

Almost immediately, I heard the two women behind me start debating with each other over whether I was really nursing him (!) or if he was just falling asleep in my arms. It wasn’t a “OMGoodness how dare she do that in public!” type of debate, just a friendly back and forth of wondering if I could possibly be nursing him. I smiled, listening to them go back and forth. I swear I saw some skin when she first picked him up. No, you’re wrong, he is clearly just sleeping.

The debate abruptly ended when I starting loading my groceries onto the belt while still nursing him; both ladies decided that he must have been just sleeping, because there is no way someone could nurse a baby and load her groceries onto the belt at the same time.

It was an interesting experience for sure, but it of course got me thinking about how our culture perceives breastfeeding, specifically breastfeeding in public. And although these two women were not hostile about the possibility of me nursing in public, many nursing women have experienced humiliation, hostility, and plain old disapproval while nursing in public.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a culture where it didn’t matter if my son was nursing or sleeping, because neither was a big deal? Because both of those acts were perceived as perfectly normal behavior for a baby and his mother?

I was grocery shopping. My baby wanted to nurse, so I nursed him. I’m his mother, it’s what I do. Just because I was surrounded by people who might not understand, approve of, or agree with my actions did not stop me from meeting my child’s needs.

I nurse everywhere. In fact, I even have a small collection of photographs of me nursing my babies in “unusual” places: the top of a Ferris Wheel; at the Basketball Hall of Fame. And by nursing in public, not only am I meeting my child’s needs, but I’m normalizing breasfeeding simply by doing it then and there.

Because wouldn’t it be nice if my daughters nursed their babies in public and no one batted an eye?

I’m interested in hearing your experiences with breastfeeding in public. What kind of feedback did you get, if any? What is the most unusual place you have nursed your baby in?

Is He A Good Baby?

Is he a good baby? You ask, as you ring up my groceries.

It’s 5PM on a Friday. I’ve been waiting in line for quite some time, and my two girls are getting ready to have meltdowns. I’m holding my baby boy in my tired, aching arms because for some reason he decided he didn’t like to ride in the sling today, and he is too young to sit up in the carriage.

I know you are trying to make conversation. I know you are reaching out to me, a stranger, because you think the baby I’m holding is adorable. I know you are trying to be nice.

I know all these things, and yet I still have to grit my teeth and pause before answering. You have no way of knowing that you just asked me the question that I despise the most.

When my girls were infants, I never minded that question. They both fit society’s idea of what a “good” baby should be; neither cried very much and were very content, and both slept through the night starting at four weeks old.

But my son? At three months old, he is what the revised version of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding calls a “Sparkler”: a baby who is “doing, fussing, and demanding all the time.” My son never seems to be content. He’s always fussing, always demanding to be held, always needing some kind of input.

My son does not fit society’s view of a “good baby”.

But then…does that make him a bad baby? No. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as a bad baby. All babies are good babies.

To be asked that question all the time can be draining. I have a friend who, when asked this question about her lovely infant daughter, will sometimes reply “Well she’s a bit of an arsonist but we are trying to break her of that habit”. Why can’t our society just accept babies as they are, as nature designed them, instead of trying to turn them into scheduled, convenient packages that fit into our lives exactly as we want them to?

Having a baby whose problems were not solved by bringing him to the breast; having a baby who at times I can not calm, not matter what I do; having a baby who cried so much at me that at times I took it as a personal rejection…it hasn’t been easy.

But he is not a “bad” baby. He’s my baby. He’s my baby with his own strong personality. He’s my baby that I love to hold, even when he is fussy. He’s my baby that I will wake up in the middle of the night for and stay awake, just to watch him sleep peacefully. He’s my baby that I kiss and hug, bury my nose in his hair and breathe in the wonderful baby smell.

Is he a good baby?

It’s 5PM on a Friday night, and my arms are so tired that they feel like they are going to fall off. You are smiling at me, waiting for my answer.

Yes, he is.

Then I bury my nose in his hair….and breathe deep.

Shelly is a homeschooling mom of three and birth and postpartum doula. She blogs daily at Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother.

Chip, Chip, Chip


Last night, I put the kids to bed, poured some wine, popped in a movie and picked up my knitting.

Then I heard it: the awful sound of something, or someone, falling down the stairs. All of them.


Sure enough, it was my 3 year old, who had gotten up to ask for a glass of water. By the time I ran over there, she lay at the bottom on the stairs, shrieking.

I picked her up quickly and checked her over. No bruises, eyes clear, no vomiting, no bumps. She was crying and scared, but ok.

And then, it started.

I want Daddy! I want my Daddy now!

My soon-to-be Ex-husband moved out over a month ago, and the transition has been a little difficult for both girls, but especially my 3 yr old. For the first few weeks, she cried for her daddy every night, for hours. Nights were spent holding her, comforting her, and trying to respect the power of the emotions she was feeling.

Every episode was like a chip at my heart. It made me doubt every choice I made, or would be making.

Gradually, she had begun to accept the situation, and things were getting better.

But now she sat on my lap, tears coursing down her cheeks, begging me to call her father and tell him to come home.


I hugged her and told her that I understood how she felt, and how it was okay to be sad. I explained that we would call her Daddy in the morning and she could speak to him then. She eventually fell back asleep.

This morning she woke up happy and calm. I asked if she wanted to call her daddy and she shook her head no.

You listened last night Mommy, so now I don’t have to.

Maybe, just maybe, my heart will survive this after all.

Shelly is a WAHM to two girls and a baby boy. You can find her daily at Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother


She has this special spot at the top of the stairs, where she likes to go when she’s upset.
DSC_0177Sometimes, it is me who she’s upset with.
I tell her its okay, everyone needs time alone to cry once in a while.

She learns that emotions are okay, and how to handle them appropriately.
I learn Patience, as I give her space and wait for her to be ready to rejoin us.
Continue reading Patience

Co-sleeping: They Say So Much


Next month, she’ll turn 3. And yes, she is still in our bed.

They say she’ll never become independent. They say she’ll never learn to sleep on her own. They say we’ll never get her out of our bed.

They say a lot of things.

But they aren’t there at night, when her heartbeat and mine start beating in sync, our own song of love. They aren’t there in the morning, when she wakes up with a smile and confidence from knowing she belongs.

Because right now, at this time in her life, this is where she belongs.

It will change, and probably soon. The signs are already there. So, despite what they say, she will continue to be welcome into our bed for as long as she wants.

They can say what they want, but it won’t change a thing. She is where she belongs.

Shelly is a WAHM to two girls. You can find her daily at Adventures of a Breastfeeding Mother.

Weaning: What If Mom Isn’t Ready?

My daughter is 2.5 years old and showing signs of weaning. At times when she would normally nurse, she is now telling me that my “na nas are broken” and is starting to nurse less and less.

She is completely ready. I, however, am not.

She is my youngest, my baby. When my oldest daughter weaned at 22 months old, it didn’t bother me as much; probably because I was pregnant and knew that another baby was coming to take her place at the breast.

This time, there is no baby. There was going to be a baby boy born in about two weeks to take her place at the breast, but we sadly lost him in the second trimester.  July 4th was my due date, and as that day looms closer and my youngest nurses less and less, I realize that for the first time in over five years I will have both an empty womb and empty breasts.
Continue reading Weaning: What If Mom Isn’t Ready?

Eating Wholesome Foods: Additives To Avoid

My birthday is coming up this month, and at the top of my list of wanted gifts is a bread maker.

Four years ago, if you had told me that someday I would want a bread maker so that I could make my family’s bread from scratch, I would have laughed in your face. Until I was purple.

In fact, even after kids and marriage (yes, my husband and I are one of those couples who likes to do things in opposite order), my husband did the majority of the cooking for our family. Meanwhile, if I so much as looked at a toaster it would pop out burnt toast.

This arrangement was all fine and dandy for me, until about a year ago. When I did some reading and researching and realized how strongly our health correlates to what we put in (and on, but that’s another post) our bodies. And I took a look at the things that my children were eating and did not like what was listed on the label under ingredients.

So, after a discussion with my husband, we changed our shopping strategy. Out went the processed food and in came the wholesome goodness. Now, we are far  from perfect and still have some processed food in the house, but what we buy we only buy after carefully examining the labels, and with the knowledge that in our journey, we are taking baby steps and will get there some day.

Bread has been causing me trouble (seriously, how much sugar does bread really need?) and so bread maker has made the top of my wish list. In the meantime, I am still examining labels, cursing at food companies who can’t seem to lay off the sugar, and doing as much research as I can.

There’s one book that I’ve found most helpful, and that’s Staying Health With Nutritionby Elson M. Haas. Now, this is book is huge (1,139 pages) and therefore not the type of book you sit down and read cover to cover (at least, not if your life is anything like mine, as in homeschooling two small children while working from home and studying to be a CBE), but man is it full of information!! I use it more as a reference and I love it. What I really love about it is that Haas has a chapter devoted to additives and has a really cool chart that lists which additives to avoid, which are okay in moderation, and which are probably safe. I wrote this list down and carry it with me into the grocery store to reference while I shop. So, without further ado, the Food Additive Chart:

Additives to Avoid: artificial colors, sodium nitrate and nitrite, BHT, saccharin, sulfites, sulfur dioxide, BVO

Additives to Limit: BHA, MSG, sugars (sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup), artificial flavorings, THBQ, Prophyl gallate, EDTA, hydrogenated vegetable oils, salt, aspartame, caffeine, propylene glycol, gums, xylitol, aluminum salts.

Probably Safe Additives: vitamins A, C, &E, beta-carotene or carotene, carrageenan, annatto, acids, alginates, minerals, glycerin, gelatin, pectin, natural flavorings, calcium proprionate, polysorbate 60, 65, 80, sorbitol, sodium benzoate, lecithin, vanillin, and potassium sorbate.

Hope this list was hepful. What steps do you take, if any, to ensure your family eats a diet of wholesome foods?

Shelly is a WAHM to two girls. You can find her daily at

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