In my past columns I have written about children's issues and how I have best handled those issues with ways to tackle each situation. As a mother, I have found myself engulfed in my children's lives.
But this column won't be about children issues. It's about mom issues. This is definitely a mom-to-mom message.
I had to sit back and decide what makes me happy and finally made the decision after my third child that Mom does what makes her happy. This was after receiving the best advice I've ever gotten about parenting about five years ago. At the time, I was a determined mother who knew that doing the best thing for my child was to breastfeed for at least six months. But when my third child was 3 months old, she started to develop a white film in her mouth. As nursing became harder for her and a fever also developed, the pediatrician diagnosed thrush (an oral yeast infection). He also warned me that if I continued to nurse I might get thrush on my breast. Since I had breastfed my first two babies until six months, I decided I was not going to lose that battle to thrush. Then it happened. I got it on my breast. I was defeated by dry, cracked skin and bleeding nipples.
It's when I called my gynecologist for a prescription for the proper ointment and antibiotics that he gave me the important advice. At the time, I couldn't hold back and broke out in tears. I begged him to tell me to stop nursing. (In my mind, if a doctor tells you to stop, it's the right thing to do.) The doctor said something that I would never forget and would love to share with any mother going through a hard time. He said: "A good mom is a happy mom. Amber, if you're not happy breastfeeding, then STOP!"
I ended my nursing right then and there. I had three children to take care of. So, when baby No. 4 came 22 months later, he never saw a breast. He went directly on the bottle, because I knew that after running around the house with four kids younger than 7, there was no chance a baby was hanging off this boob! I did what made me happy.
I then knew something else was missing. I went from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-time/part-time working mom. I have not really figured out the best way to describe what I do, but when asked my occupation, I find myself writing "a full-time working stay-at-home mom." It may not make that much sense, but to my household, it does: Mom does what makes her happy.
When I turned 30 after birthing four children, I knew that there was more for me to accomplish. When asked about my biggest accomplishment, I will always answer my four children, because they are my biggest prize. Family comes first! Although family is my first priority, it doesn't have to cancel my second, third and so on.
After my first son was born, I received a B.A., became certified in philanthropy, founded a nonprofit and started a clothing line for children. As I lie in bed at night, my brain can't go to sleep and I find myself thinking about everything from scheduling to when I'm getting my roots done.
I still don't have the answer to the question I get constantly: "How do you do it all?" I do know that as crazy as my life may be, I am truly happy. To be a good mom is to be a happy mom. From one mom to another, I urge you to ask yourself, "Is there any accomplishment, hobby, career or even just-me time that I need?" If so, DO IT! Your happiness shows through your parenting: "A GOOD MOM IS A HAPPY MOM!"
Amber is a mother of four, executive director and co-founder of PitCCh In Foundation (PitCCh.org) and creator/designer of CCandy for kids. (CCandy.com)
First seen in 201 Magazine.