BIG, BIG NEWS ALERT

IT’S HAPPENING!

You know how people tell you that you should shoot for your dreams? This year, after far too long of mulling over it, I went for it. I launched myself towards them and I didn’t look back.

I’m so excited (and quite honestly, in a bit of disbelief) to announce that I’ve signed with an AGENT and MY BOOK is officially underway. It was written about motherhood for YOU. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, it’ll look a lot like what you see here – and I hope you’ll love it.

My agent and I had a chit-chat this morning about next steps, and he will be pitching it to publishers come January.

Keep your fingers crossed, send your prayers, and your best vibes.

I’m so excited to share the next stretch of this journey with you and am forever grateful for your support and friendship. ❤️

All my love, always.
A

P. S I see you, Maxwell.

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I Won’t Miss the Mess

Fun fact: I cleaned my house yesterday.

Like spent a solid few hours cleaning my house.

I did the tidying thing.

The vacuuming thing.

Heck, I even did the wiping the finger prints off of every surface thing.

Things looked good yesterday night. Someone could “drop-in” and I wouldn’t be ashamed.

My house was cozy and my mind was calm.

Man, does a clean house make my mind calm.

But then this morning the boys woke up in a needy mood.

Which is meant we were going to be late for our morning plans.

Which meant I would be rushing.

Which meant I wouldn’t be putting things away as I went.

Which also meant the boys would be tearing things apart as a way to express their frustration and get my attention.

So, everything I did yesterday? All those hours I put in? You wouldn’t even know.

I mean look at this.

The diapers on the floor. The tree missing ornaments. The random pieces of cardboard and clothing scattered about. Not to mention the banana smooshed into the floor and milk spilled on the couch.

Anxiety.

This is what my anxiety looks like in the physical form.

This is what my mind looks like trying to keep up with everything on my plate.

Look, you can tell me that one day I won’t have little munchkins to clean up after.

I get it.

I cherish my moments.

But this living in a constant state of chaos thing? It’s killing my nerves.

This constantly cleaning and stepping on toys and feeling like I’m always in the middle of the same mess, drains me.

My husband pulls his weight.

I pull my weight.

We have bins and storage compartments and we tidy every. single. day.

But we can’t keep up.

Not in this season of life.

With two youngsters, ages two and ten months, we tend to find ourselves up to our elbows in stuff. Physical stuff, emotional stuff, financial stuff, just stuff.

And we try to purge and we try to maintain and we try to manage.

But there never seems to be enough time. There always seems to be something else.

There’s always stuff.

Quite honestly, this season of parenting looks a lot like my living room. It’s a lot of disorganized chaos.

And every day I give my best and honest effort.

Some days it falls apart.

Some days we keep it together.

Some days it looks like actual humans live here rather than a village of monkeys.

Look, I get it.

I get what you’re thinking and I know it, too.

I’ll miss having my babies tiny.

But man, guys. I don’t think I’m gonna miss the mess.

Actually, I know I won’t miss the mess.

Because the mess sucks me dry.

It takes up my time and then creeps back up on me on the bad days.

It’s reflective of the days I simply can’t handle the chaos.

It’s my Achilles.

I can honestly, without a doubt say – I’ll miss my tiny munchkins rummaging on the floor but I sure as hell won’t miss the mess.

Shame the Shamers

I have something to say this morning outside of my typical mumblings.

Some may not like it, some might, but I feel like it needs to be said.

In recent weeks I’ve seen my words all over the internet which has been a huge blessing.

But with a larger reach comes a larger audience and not everyone is as kind as the people on this page.

I’m all about telling it like it is in my day-to-day.

Some people can relate, some can’t.

Which is normal because motherhood is different for everyone.

Some of us have joyous pregnancies, for others, it can be messy, scary, or even heartwrenching.

Labour and delivery is full of the unexpected with the end result always being some type of recovery for mom.

Then comes motherhood and our beautiful baby.

Some of us have the baby that latches, sleeps, coos, and smiles.

Some of us navigate colic, and nursing struggles, and have appointments lined up every two days.

Some of us have it “easy” and have postpartum depression.

Some of us have it “hard” and have postpartum depression.

My point is it doesn’t matter how it happens or why it happens or how hard it is or how easy it is we still need to feel loved and supported.

Last night I scrolled through the comments on a post and my heart sank.

“This woman clearly needs help.”

“She’s obviously battling PPD. I feel so sorry for her. Someone help her.”

“Ladies, her kids might be really challenging.”

“She’s so selfish to think she should come first.”

And on and on and on…

The thing that riles me up the most – a lot of these women are mothers and sadly, the mom war lives.

I shake these comments off. I know who I am. But I worry about the other mothers reading these comments.

Here’s the thing – not everyone is going to be kind and supportive and understanding in this big old world of ours but never EVER let that shame you.

Never EVER let that stop you from sharing your feelings and finding the friend who gets it.

Never EVER let that stop you from asking for help.

Do you know how many “me toos” I’ve heard since starting this page?

Do you know how many private messages I get a week saying “that’s how I feel but I’m too ashamed to say it.”

Never EVER feel shame.

Motherhood is full of ups and downs, highs and lows and everything in between.

On the good days, we forget the bad.

On the bad days, we forget the good.

Let’s not forget there are people who understand what you’re feeling, whatever your case may be. You just need to find them. And the only way you can find them is by sharing and by speaking up.

And for what it’s worth – that mother who appears to have postpartum isn’t crazy. She’s one of the one million women who walk this path.

She needs the world to see that she’s human. She loves her babies and her life, her family and herself. She loves to laugh, she loves to cook, and she loves a good Hallmark movie, but sometimes the days are dark – and there’s nothing crazy about that. If anything, that deserves a “me too.”

The Upside of Down

Some of you may not know I have a job outside of wiping butts and boogers.

It’s true, there’s a life outside of cutting cheese into hearts and having an audience watch you pee.

During naps and after bedtimes, sometimes at three in the morning, I work on a magazine that I’m the editor of.

I’m also writing a book… And I work as a freelance writer putting together nifty little articles for some of your favourite spaces on the internet.

If you asked me when I became a mom if I could handle doing the working-mom-thing, the answer would’ve been no.

If you asked me when I actually went back to work after my first born, I would’ve broken down and cried in your arms.

At the time, it wasn’t right for me – but neither was the job.

I’ve been spending my entire life trying to find my place.

Navigating this big old world, trying to define myself, and redefine myself, and redefine myself once more as the world tells me I need to be more like “her”, more like “them”, more like that “mom”.

I’ve lost myself so many times trying to find the place I thought I had to be or be the person I thought I should be, that I completely lost sight of who I was and what I wanted.

The truth is, I love being home with my babies – but I also love being Anneliese. An ambitious, creative woman with a passion to better this world.

And what’s even more? I’m a better mom when I get to be that woman.

Working all hours of the night on my passions and all hours of the day on my babies can drain my soul sometimes – but it also lights a fire within me.

It pushes me closer towards the woman I always wanted to be.

When you start shushing the noise and start listening to your soul, your life comes alive.

And who would’ve thought I would’ve learned all that in a pit of darkness?

But sometimes, there’s an upside to down.

I’m Going to Have My Hands Full? I Had No Idea.

This piece was originally posted on Her View From Home

That’s it. It’s time to call you out.

Yes, you. The person who feels the need to interject their commentary on strangers in the grocery store, post office and yes, even in a public bathroom.

I’ve met you before – about a year ago – when my belly was busting at the seams and my ankles were overflowing from my shoes. You were astounded by my size and convinced there wasn’t a baby, but in fact a toddler swimming around my womb. And if I recall correctly, you rubbed my belly…just to be sure. Thanks again for that 😉

Now here we are again, a year later. My belly not quite big enough to draw your attention, but my situation appealing nonetheless.

You see us – me (pregnant belly and all), my husband and my one-year-old son – and instead of smiling at our beautiful (and exhausted) young family, you share a critical piece of information we may not be able to live without:

You know, you’re going to have your hands full.  Smirk, smirk. Giggle, giggle. 

It’s cute. It’s innocent. It drives me batty (that’s not the hormones talking).

I’m not quick on my feet to come up with a witty-response to your well-meaning comment. That’s why I’m taking it here – to the internet – to rant in all my glory.

Look, I get it. We’re going to be busy and I’m terrified. But, that whole having a newborn thing? I’ve done it. I know exactly how hard it will be and exactly what to expect. I may not know how to manage a baby on the boob while keeping my toddler Picasso off my walls or change a wet diaper while my older one decides my grandmother’s antique bowl is a potty… but we’ll figure it out, just like we did the first time around.

I love when you approach me and comment on how beautiful my son is or how my pregnant glow reminds you of a Christmas display. I’m not screaming, “Stranger danger!” when you come my way. But I’m not sure what the criteria is for the other type of comments. Is it seeing a parent with one misbehaving child? A family with two, three, heck, four kids? How many kids does it take to demonstrate a mastery in the art of multi-kid-tasking? (When I figure it out, I’ll let you know).

Whatever it is, please just try to smile and nod the next time you feel a parent is downright doomed (we kind of feel that way already and it’s always the last thing we want to hear).

************************************************************

Now, to the parents. I know you’ve heard this before. Hit me with your best comebacks!

Making the Most of Nap Time

As mom’s we get a few glorious moments a day to do as we please or catch up on what we must. These moments are our children’s nap time or as I like to call it: mom time.

Now that Jack is exiting the world of the fourth trimester, nap time is becoming a luxury. Gone are the days of eat, sleep and poop. The days of Elmo’s Song on repeat, “don’t put that in your mouth” and “ouch, that’s mommy’s hair” are among us. We’re also entering the wonderful world of the four month sleep regression. For the mom’s who have been through it, you know what I mean. For the mom’s not yet there – stock up on the wine.

When I was still adjusting to life as a mom and living on minimal hours of sleep, I’d usually find myself slumped on my couch trying to grasp my new reality. These days, with a little more sleep and a new appreciation of these quiet moments – I go all out.

My favourite nap time mom-moments range from cozying up with a cup of hot tea (key word, hot..unlike that morning’s coffee), sitting in complete silence, or stalking Donald Trump’s Twitter account for his next tirade.

These moments may seem simple to some, but for us mom’s, these moments are our daily dose of extravagance. Below you’ll find other indulgences from well-seasoned mommies. Check it out:

The thing I want to say, I’m not sure it’s appropriate to publish. But who am I kidding, ain’t no body got time for that. 

I sip on a hot tea while watching the Maury Show. 

Take a shower, blow dry my hair, paint my nails. I like to pamper myself! 

Watch those late night shows that are too dirty for little minds while getting into the hidden treats I’m not willing to share. 

I work… and cut up my own apples.  

Then there are the mom’s that aren’t as lucky:

My daughter will only nap in my arms for 30 minutes at a time, so I sit there with her dreaming of sleep. 

Mine don’t sleep! On the rare occasion I’ll nap with them. 

Mine sleeps until I put him down and then BAM! eyes open. 

crfzsya

Whether you’re indulging in those guilty pleasures or simply trying to survive the day – sometimes it’s the simplest of moments that are the most precious.

How do you treat yourself during mom time?

 

Breast to Work

Empowering Woman: Tineke

It took me quite a while to get breastfeeding well established and to really start enjoying it. In the first months it was quite difficult (understatement..), not only painful (don´t get me started on cracked nipples or mastitis) but also the pressure of an underweight baby who needed to eat very often (and took his sweet time meaning you were basically only having 1 hour breaks in between feeding sessions) and not knowing how much milk you actually have and whether he was eating enough. By now I can say I loved breastfeeding but it took quite some tears and screams to get there.

So when my 16 weeks of maternity leave were over I definitely wanted to continue breastfeeding for a little longer. I guess my situation was quiet luxurious in the sense that I work 4 days a week of which 2 from home. So the 2 days from home were easy to cover: until midday when my partner was taking care of Lucas at home I would plan my breaks from work around feeding Bottletimes and in the afternoon when he was with his grandparents I had to extract milk once and then the evening session was live with mommy again. However, the days that I did go into the office were much more complicated. I have a very long commute to my office (2,5hours) so I would leave the house a little before 7am and come back only after 8pm. In the beginning I still did a morning feeding around 6am but once Lucas got a better sleep rhythm he wouldn´t wake up before 7 / 7.30am anymore meaning that I was not home for any of his feedings. Then my challenge was where and when to extract in the office or even on my way to the office.

When you have a baby, sleep is not a commodity anymore so there were some trade-offs involved. This basically meant that I could choose between getting up 20 minutes earlier to extract milk or leaving my first pumping session for the commute… Yep, sleep is scarce so I chose the second option. So I would extract milk in the train under a huge scarf hoping and praying that the passenger sitting next to me would keep sleeping (advantage of the early morning train!) or working and at least not notice that something was moving under that scarf.

Then the next challenge came with the fact that in my office there was no nursing place. Our “office” is basically a little village with over 10k employees divided over different buildings and we have loads of convenient services in the village (gym, childcare, pharmacy, doctor, dentist, optic, travel agency, supermarket, Starbucks, hairdresser, and the list goes on) but no nursing room to Pumpbe found. So that left me with the option of the toilet (which was very cold because of no heating system, and let´s not get into the background noise) or booking a meeting room. The inconvenient part of meeting rooms is that most have windows so there were only a few I could work with. I would try to book these meeting rooms that had no windows or at least windows at strategic locations so I could set-up my “extraction station” with a barrier on the table from my bag, laptop and my notebook standing up open so that if somebody would come in, not too much would be visible. After a few months with the combination of toilet and meeting rooms, I finally found out that the reception had a closed printing room behind them and although it had no chairs I did use that option for the last weeks of breastfeeding. On the commute back home at night I would repeat the scarf trick.

All of this involved quite some logistics, not only the choice of scarf but also to bring your small cooler bag, make sure you put it in the fridge as soon as you arrive, don´t forget it in the fridge when you leave, getting the milk from the toilet / meeting room to the cooler bag in the fridge without everybody noticing what you´re doing and most importantly, keeping that cooler bag stable in your backpack on the commute back home. I did come home one night noticing a lot of little white spots on my black boots, yep, one of the bottles with extracted milk had opened and spread through my backpack…. The worst part was that my immediate thought was not “uh oh my laptop” but “noooo, after all the effort 250ml down the drain…”.

Meme

Another challenge is when to pump. When I had relatively ok days with some meetings here and there I would just block my calendar every 3 hours for 30min but when you have full-day workshops or team meetings it gets a bit more complicated because obviously the breaks there are never on convenient times for your pumping schedule. So I would sneak out a few times a day with my grey Medela bag. (Also in Spain you never know when a break will actually happen, because hey who needs an agenda or if there is one why stick to it, so of course I would often go out in the middle of a discussion and 2 minutes after I came back they would break..)

After 4 months of this, when I had some business trips coming up and when Lucas had started eating solid food and therefore only has 2 milk feedings left I decided it was enough, but it definitely has been an interesting experience! The downside of stopping with breastfeeding is that it gets a bit depressing to look at your “new” breasts in the mirror (You would almost understand why in Spain they tend to keep breastfeeding for years!). Also I am already a bit nervous for Lucas´ next monthly check-up and the speech that I am going to get from the breastfeeding-taliban-nurse, but that´s a whole other story!

Photo credit Medela: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/dharder9475/23919221670/”>dharder9475</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>

 Photo credit extracting in office: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafemama/118317846/”>cafemama</a&gt; via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com”>VisualHunt</a&gt; / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>

About Tineke

Tineke I am Tineke, a Dutchie living in Spain, happily not-married to César and mommy of Lucas. Before becoming a mom I always thought I was busy, however since we have Lucas the term “busy” got a whole new definition! Trying to juggle two demanding jobs, a busy social life while squeezing in some sports, keeping the house somewhat liveable, pursuing both of our entrepreneurial ambitions ánd having sufficient family time makes me wonder how I ever thought we were busy. And all of that in a country which is not my home country and therefore causes quite some cultural clashes in this whole motherhood thingy.

 Want to read more about my adventures as a working mommy abroad?

Workingmommyabroad.wordpress.com

Instagram: @workingmommyabroad

Twitter: @tinekefr