An Apology Letter to My Second Child



My Sweetest Baby T,

I’m Sorry.

It is your 357th day here, and somehow, you have made it. You are the reason they created the saying, “Kids are Resilient.”

I imagine most second children are the reason they created that phrase.

Since you were about 3 months old, you have been put to bed happily awake with a pacifier. The minute the white noise goes on and the lights go out, you reach for your crib, and all the ‘illegal’ things that we keep inside of it like blankets and stuffed animals. I can’t quite put my finger on whether you are naturally so easygoing, or if it’s a product of your environment. You never got a 20-minute long rocking chair session or 10 renditions of “You are My Sunshine,” sung by yours truly before bed. I ‘toss’ you in your crib wide awake and always have. (And then I spend 80 minutes bringing your 3-year-old brother 22 glasses of water, exterminating wolves and monsters and reading ‘The Grinch’)

One day last week, after I put you to sleep, I went back into your room so I could hold your sleeping self and rock you.

It was the first time I have done that in your entire life.

I instantly started to cry with overwhelming feelings of guilt. You have had a rocking chair in your room since you were born, but I can count on 2 hands the number of times I have actually rocked you in it.

I’m Sorry.

I feel like I still haven’t figured out how to be a “good” Mom to you. You haphazardly are kept alive by my previous experience with your brother. I justify my inadequacies by telling myself that “I worked out the kinks” with Mason, so you are benefiting from that?After all, the oldest child gets your time, and the younger children get your experience, right?

I feel overwhelmed with guilt and sadness when I think about you being a toddler. As you swiftly approach 1 entire year old, I am reminded daily of all the things I feel I missed out on. Besides normal feelings of exhaustion, you were an easy pregnancy that flew by. I never got maternity pictures or took those weekly progress pictures. I think I have 2 total pictures of being pregnant with you. The labor and delivery was easier than most 8-hour work days. You were here in under 6 hours and 30 minutes of pushing. I felt nothing. You arrived here at nearly 9 pounds and wearing 3-month-old clothes. I literally never got “the newborn phase” with you. You slept 8-hours a night by 6 weeks old, and it’s hard to even remember you giving me a sleepless night. (Your brother, on the other hand, still wakes me up once a week!)

I joke that it took Viral Meningitis at 11 days old for you to get some individual attention. And even through that, you ate and slept as if nothing was wrong. I will never forget the nightmare morning that I woke up to find your entire arm swollen 4x the normal size from an IV leak. It took over an hour to get a new IV in, and your arm was scarred and swollen for days. You never even cried. You slept right through it.

You are so very strong. You have no complaints. You wake up quietly babbling to yourself in your crib. You have 4 teeth cutting at once and barely need Tylenol. You have an incredible pain threshold and you bulldoze your way through anything. (I predict you will be the reason for all our incident reports and ER trips)

In the most recent months, you have become much more vocal about just wanting a lap to sit on or an arm to hold you. You are complacent when you have that. You are my sensitive snuggler. All is well in your world when you can watch your brother taunt the dog from a lap on a patio chair while eating fists full of …Cheerios.

Speaking of Cheerios, I’m sorry you exist solely on those, with minimal assistance from milk and pouches.

I’m sorry I have never looked for Pinterest purees or quinoa carrot muffin recipes for you.

I’m sorry that you didn’t have ONE picture on your bare bedroom wall until you were 9 months old.

I’m sorry that the only new clothes you have ever worn were gifts from your Aunt Ashley.

I’m sorry that you have had some sort of cough or runny nose your entire life.

I’m sorry you have never been to a Story time, Mommy and Me class, Gymboree class or a swim lesson.

People warn you that “Two kids changes your world,” or that “Two is so much harder.” I anticipated complete war. The only part I found harder is the guilt I have for my inability to spend more quality time with you. When people ask me how having 2 kids is, or how YOU are as a baby, I am embarrassed that I don’t have anything to difficult to say about you. I find myself trying to make up a story about how you woke up AGAINNNN all night long. But you never have. I have nothing to offer them. 

You were made to be a second child, my sweet son. You have flawlessly adapted to all of our needs. You sleep anywhere. You quietly and seriously observe your surroundings. Your favorite activity is to look through the bin of books in the living room, and take them all out and put them all back in 1 at a time. You are the child that makes couples think that 2 kids isn’t too bad, and they could maybe handle just one more.

You have taught me to take care of ME. And among all the feelings of guilt and being overwhelmed, having a second child  has managed to make me a more confident Mom. I am more realistic and kinder to myself. As a tenured Mom, I realize there is only so much I can do in a day. While I end each day saying, “I’ll make it up to him tomorrow,” Or “I would never have done this to Mason,” I also find myself saying, “I did my best,” and “I love this kid so much.”

You have taught me to laugh more. I’ve  have so many moments in the last year where I could’ve left the situation with high blood pressure and spitting cuss words, but I have learned to adapt. Forced to adapt. I will never forget the time that Mason accidentally peed his pants at the giant park in town. It was our first outing in a few days, and I didn’t want to have to pack everyone up to leave. I improvised, took your 6-month-sized shorts off and put them on your 2-year-old brother. They were skimpy, but he spent the next 2 hours laughing and running. And I have a great picture and story to tell. 

You have taught me to adapt. Another day, I had a full cart of warehouse groceries from Costco. It started to torrentially downpour as we finished checking out. I’m talking Florida summer hurricane rain. There was no getting through it. Instead of getting pissed off that my frozen chicken was thawing, we went to the Costco café and bought snacks. You got to try your first bites of pizza, before having any teeth, and your brother was ecstatic to shovel in a slice while we waited out the storm. Everyone who passed us waved and smiled. I could tell they were thinking how lucky I was to have you two boys. In that moment of complete stress, I took a deep breath, annihilated a slice of pepperoni, and felt the same way they did.

You have taught me to ask for help, and take it. Just the other day in the airport bathroom, I was trying to wash my hands, hold you, and keep track of my carry ons. A mother and her daughter saw me struggling and offered to hold you. I immediately handed you over to grab a paper towel and pick up my purse off the nasty bathroom floor. I didn’t even question that they could be kidnappers or planting drugs when I was wasn’t looking. I really needed their help.

I normalize my shortcomings by telling myself that you came into a world with a mom, dad and brother. You will never know life without Mason. You were born to be flexible and adaptable and patient. Simultaneously, Mason will never know what it’s like to be “the easy kid.” He will never know what its like to be “the baby.” He will never know what it’s like to feel the strength and bravery YOU have to try things on your own so young. Try as he may, Mason will never be as flexible or adaptable as you. (as a first born myself, neither will I)

And if that’s what “second child syndrome” is, than consider yourself lucky, Baby T.

I wish I could say this year will be better, but I’m sure I will have many, many more days of guilt and feelings of inadequacy. On the bright side, you will probably know how to pour milk before you can talk.

I’m sorry.

I hope you always know that unknowingly, my world was incomplete until you came in it.

I love you, my forever baby and my sweetest son.






A Letter to My 3-year-old


Happy Birthday, Big Boy.

From around 5 months old, I have called you “the town mayor.” There’s really no way to explain what a special little life you are, but maybe someone could catch a glimpse of it in this beautiful anecdote.

You love going to the grocery store. Or anywhere, really, where there are people. At least 2-3 mornings a week, we stop at Publix on the way to pre-school to pick up some things. (Usually because I forgot something critical, like toilet paper or coffee creamer, during my weekly grocery trip.) On one particular morning, there was an older man behind us in the checkout line waiting to purchase his items. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and you were both wearing your green shirts. You said to him, spontaneously, “Hi, my name is Mason Dale Lapierre! This is my Mommy. We are getting cookies.”

After a good laugh, he looked at you, and he asked how old you were.

You replied with pride, “I’m 2!”

The man, who didn’t seem like the overly-happy type, especially at 7:40 am, had a giant grin on his face. He said back to you, “Why Mason, you sure are a smart little boy.”

You said back, “Yes. And did you know that Jupiter is a gas giant? And that Earth is the only planet we can live on?”

That man belly-laughed, and he summoned every employee within ear shot to come over and listen to you. You continued to tell your story about the solar system to your adoring fans.


My life is a constant struggle between finding hours to sleep, and fighting the urge to spend all the hours I have awake on this Earth with you. I have a chronic struggle with balancing my need to take care of myself and my want to be with you. You were made to bring joy to others. Your face lights up when you make other people laugh. Between your stories, your one-liners, your dance moves and the way you softly sing to yourself, you constantly remind me to enjoy the moments. I spend every day wishing each beautiful one with you would last just a little bit longer.

Each and every single day, whether it’s a new phrase or facial expression, you give me butterflies.

Usually, these moments aren’t from the zoo trips or the new toy trucks. More often than not, they are in the car rides to pre-school after a rough morning on no sleep when I drive past a construction site, and you scream, “Woooooo doggy slow down Mommy– it’s an excavator!” Or, after a spilled cup of sticky orange juice on sofa, you come up to me singing the Daniel Tiger song, “It’s okay to make mistakes.” Or, during a post-nap time snuggle session when you tell me all about the black wolf that was outside your window. “But Mommy, he was a nice black wolf. I think it was Jake!” (with the palms of your hands on your cheeks)

You keep me on my toes. Right when I think I have you figured out, or have mastered “parenting,” you bring the challenge. You test every level of my humility, patience and strength. You teach me how to communicate with everyone using a smile and a “Hi there!” You have taught me that so many arguments or difficult days can be fixed with a “big squeeze and a smooch!”

You are the most special of little boys.

As you enter your 3rd year, my wish for you is that you continue to never meet a stranger. Every day, I wonder if it will be the day that someone is intentionally “mean” to you. I worry you may become “harder.” Or less joyful. Or laugh or sing less. I used to think that I wanted to shield you from feeling the sadness, or hurt, or anger, or embarrassment or judgment. But as I enter my 3rd year as a mother, I hope to encourage you to be the beacon that you are through these experiences. I hope I can somehow normalize those feelings, and teach you that you have a choice to feel cold and hard, or you can continue to be your light-hearted little self. I love this playful, spirited, positive personality of yours; and when I take a step back, I remind myself that it’s not going anywhere.

I knew it long before you.

I married it.

The Double Stroller Days


The older I get, and the more children I create, the more I start to understand what “they” meant. “They” being people who have done THIS before me. “They” being the people who I thought knew nothing, and who had only unsolicited, unwanted, and completely ‘useless’ advice. You know these people–  the ones who tell you “SLEEP when the baby sleeps,” or “move the baby out of your room ASAP,” or “use rice cereal” or “no screen time before 2” or even the dreaded, “You’re gonna miss this, sweetheart, so enjoy every moment because before you know it they’re grown.”

The truth is, two children in two years… It’s hard. It’s nothing like I thought it would be, honestly, in both good and bad ways.

If I could sum up the difference between my first child and second child into one little anecdote, it would be this: Yesterday, when it finally got below 60 degrees in Florida, I took the boys on a stroller walk. I tried my hardest, but I couldn’t find baby Troy any socks. I found 1 infant sock, covered in dog hair under the couch. I thought about putting it on and pulling the pant leg down on Troy’s other foot. I tried, but it just didn’t work, so I put him in Mason’s oversized, 3T socks. Done and done.

With my first baby, I remember so many calm, quiet, beautiful moments. I could tell you exactly how many wrinkles were in Mason’s fingers. I was elated any time he moved up a size and I could cry over his old clothes, bag them up for #2, and rip a crisp tag off  his newest Carter onesie.  Each day was a new outfit experience. I never, ever, ever  f%#$ed with his schedule. That boy is still regimented like clockwork and still sleeps his 11-hour nights with a 2-hour nap (except for the occasional monster or pterodactyl sighting.)  If I had an appointment I had to attend, I would ensure it was scheduled for the exact 2-hour window where he was awake and happy, and if the doctor/whoever was late, I would leave and reschedule.  I documented his first bath, tooth, word and poop. I was one with him, and he with me.  My DVR was always up-to-date. My pedicure never went more than 6 weeks.  I would quite literally “miss” him when I slept. (and while I didn’t think it then, I got plenty of  sleep).  That boy had 20 sets of matching socks in Florida in July.

With Troy, some days I feel like I still don’t even know him, because I am so busy trying to keep his brother occupied, or defrost chicken or clean up dog puke. That sweet boy just observes, and laughs and watches in amazement as Brian, Mason, Jake, Mama-cat and I exist. I can’t tell you what he weighed at his 6-month appointment (that I attended weeks after he turned 6 months). I am just trying to get through the day, and because he’s so sweet and easy, he gets placed in his exer-saucer or floor mat or high chair to babble and squeal and bash cheerios. He slept 8-hour stretches from week 6, and I’m assuming it’s because I moved him to his own room without a monitor. I can’t tell you what his first food was, or how many hairs are on his head. He has had about 6 new outfits in his life, courtesy of his Aunt Ashley or Aunt Jess or Grandmas. He has worn socks about 3 times in his life, and they have never matched.

On a nearly daily basis I think about what being “first born” and “second born” is doing to their personality. Mason needs to be prepared for each and every detail of his day. Will Mommy be home today? Will Daddy? Will he be going to school? Who will be there after school? Are there raisins and ‘pirate booty’ snacks in his lunch box? Will he get to go to the park today? He is the ringmaster of the Lapierre Circus. He giveth Troy toys and taketh away. He will literally look up after his lunch and say to me, “Mommy, where is my Cecil lion? I’m ready for my nappy noodle.” (nap, in Traci speak)

Troy has never had a life where he wakes up at the same time every day. Aside from the 3 days a week we have our best friend/nanny with him, he doesn’t get undivided attention or planned naps. Just 2 weeks ago we both napped at the car dealership for 3 hours while I got my tires rotated. The first few weeks of life, I was riddled with guilt and anxiety about “neglecting” my 2nd son.  Now that he is older, and I see his budding personality, I realize that he is adaptable, flexible and happy doing almost anything because of his second-child-circumstances. His future significant other will thank me for creating such an easy-going, happy-go-lucky man!  (This may just be how I’m justifying all those car seat naps and puff cereal.)

I feel like I am some sort of combination of a maid-chef-therapist-personal assistant, who gets 40-hour “breaks” to be a 911 dispatcher. This is my 2nd blog post in SEVEN months because getting time alone to put coherent thoughts together just doesn’t arise. I live life on a “damage control” basis. There are needs of 3.5 people that come before mine on most occasions. (Yes, PETA, the dog only counts as a half, and the cat doesn’t count at all.)

And while all this is true, I feel like life was so incomplete before Troy. It’s like it was supposed to be this way all along. Watching Mason so easily slip into being a big brother has been beautiful. Troy is nearly 7 months old, and Mason has yet to try to smack a cheek or bite a Baby-T-toe.  (Then again, we don’t really have time to pay attention.) There is nothing quite like watching 2 people become siblings. The other day I was watching Troy laugh at Mason “fake falling.” Mason kept pretending to fall and hurt himself just to keep Troy laughing. I had an instant flash forward to the 2 of them at Thanksgiving circa 2047, drinking beers and laughing about the stupid stuff they did together when they were younger. (Side note, in the flashback I was still making their plates, separating the vegetables from the sweet potatoes, so I guess that never really ends?)

I think my favorite part about my second child is that I have confidence as a Mom. While I feel guilt and anxiety, it is nothing compared to being a first-time Mom. This time around, I know I am doing the best I can. I know my husband is doing the best he can. I know that we are making these happy, adorable little boys in the best way we can. There are no arguments over whether the baby should have a 3rd nap or not, or if 7:27 pm is an acceptable bed time.

I don’t feel any guilt or shame that Troy doesn’t have socks.

We are doing the best we can.

We are Veterans.

We got this.




Kids Are Resilient


It took a hurricane, where I have been mandatorily sequestered by my job, to be able to write a blog post since having a second child.

That sums up life with 2 kids.

The experience of upgrading to a family of 4 is different than I anticipated. I expected virtually no sleep. I expected chaos. I expected some emotions– lots of emotions. I expected to feel guilty and that I would be unable to handle it all at times. I expected lots of frozen pizzas, Publix subs and Paw Patrol.

And all of the above occurred.

Months before having my second baby, Troy, I did my usual over-preparation. I read all the books/blogs/Google posts the Internet offered. I interrogated every mother of multiples I know. I spent plenty of quality time with my first born. I went to Washington D.C. with my husband on a mini-getaway. I made lasagnas and enchiladas and casseroles for the freezer. Lastly, I completed the proverbial Costco trip, where I stocked up on paper products and poultry for the first 8 weeks.

And while all that was somewhat helpful…. Here are a few noted differences that Google didn’t offer….

Type A to Type Free!

I have this personality trait where I like to manage and control everything. I’m as Type-A as they come. I like to put a positive spin on it—I am leader, dependable, organized. But I’m sure my family and friends would have some other choice words for it. As it turns out, 3 is my limit. Controlling the lives of 3 people is my limit. I could keep 3 people alive relatively well—3 schedules, 3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners. Brian, Mason and I. My breaking point was July 12, 2016. I had to give it up. It turns out other people are perfectly capable of cutting off sandwich crusts, grocery shopping and singing Wheels on the Bus. This addition of another tiny human has forced me to delegate and give up control. While this is anxiety-provoking, it’s been a long time comin’. (Did I mention I have to relinquish control of my home and both of my children for an unknown amount of days during a Category 4 hurricane?) So hello, New Traci…. Traci who isn’t in charge of all of the things…. Nice to meet you, you’re better this way.

No More Sacred Nap Time

With my first son, Mason, 2 months felt like 2 years as I adjusted to taking total care of a new human being. With my second baby, I blinked and Troy was 2 months old. I feel that I missed out on his newborn stage. The sweet, snuggly first few weeks of having a newborn were taken in a sense because of the other life I have to take care of—his toddler brother. With Mason, I spent  baby’s nap time rocking him for hours while I enjoyed his sweet face and whatever new season of Orange Is The New Black was out on Netflix. With my second son, I spend his nap time trying to keep Mason from coloring the walls, peeing on the floor or touching sharp objects (and when I am lucky I scarf food, drink coffee and shower). I am constantly reminded that my time will always be divided now, and I will never get the same one-on-one time that I got when I had just one child.

Team Lapierre

I like to think Brian and I did a fairly good job of being teammates when we had and only son. We both work fulltime and opposite schedules, so there were plenty of times where we each had to watch our son independently or complete household tasks. We didn’t know it then, but we actually had plenty of downtime with just 1 child. If, at any point, one of us wanted to selfishly (ha!) go to Target or Home Depot alone, it was possible. There was always the possibility of the other parent being able to pick up the slack so that the other one could “slack.” With 2 offspring, all bets are off. When Brian comes to me to tray and take 2 hours to mow the lawn on a Saturday, I get a pit in my stomach. I beg him to do it during someone’s nap time so that I won’t miss out on his help. He is the best teamplayer, and having 2 kids really gives him the opportunity to shine. Taking on the toddler and the 2-month-old solo is a two-man job, preferably 3. I’m not opposed to a sister-wife at this point… any applicants?


The biggest challenge I have had as a new Mom is helping my toddler understand what his new normal is. My first son was the center of the universe for 2 years and 3 months. When he spoke, we jumped. We woke up on Saturdays and asked him what he wanted to do, and if he said “go see lions,” we went to see lions. If he said he wanted pancakes, we would go to the grocery store just to get the supplies to make them, with blueberries of course. Brian and and I didn’t do ourselves any favors by treating him like this, because when Troy came, Mason’s world changed drastically. Mommy can’t always rock him in his favorite chair on-demand anymore, and sometimes we can’t go to the park. And sometimes a Grandma or a Grandpa or an Aunt picks him up from daycare, and he doesn’t see his parents for a few days. Sometimes he has to stay in the house all day, and do “nothing,” because that’s how his parents were able to survive the day. In response to these drastic changes, he cries. Or he says his new favorite sentence, “That’s not nice!” Or, he throws toys or tantrums. For me, the hardest part of having a second baby is dealing with the emotions of my first baby, and not feeling guilty about it. I have to remind myself that he’s not starving or without a place to sleep or unloved, and he is fine. He is just a boy learning how to have a brother. (And lucky for my conscience, he won’t remember this time in his life.)

Twice the Love

When I was at the end of my pregnancy with Troy, I would rock Mason to sleep with tears in my eyes every night for the last 3 weeks. I was always afraid that my sweet, second child would steal me away from Mason and I wouldn’t get to say “Goodbye.” I cringe when I think about it, but approximately 2 minutes after Troy was born, I asked to see Mason. I wanted to know where he was and how he was and make sure someone knew what he liked for dinner and where his favorite jammies were. The idea of “splitting the love” between 2 kids was mind-boggling. I was always afraid that I would never love them equally. It’s unbelievable how quickly I have noticed the differences between the 2 boys, and how I appreciate them. The only comparison I can find to describe it is how I love my parents equally and differently. Where my Mom is fun and feisty, my Dad is cool and calm. They are completely different, and I love them both the same.

Becoming Brothers

When I had Mason, I remember right around 6 weeks old, when I reached a supreme level of sleep deprivation and was ready to give up, he smiled at me. I swore I could last another 6 years of sleep deprivation to just see that smile all day. This time around, the smile was great and all, but there is nothing more beautiful than watching Troy SMILE at Mason. It’s as if he remembers Mason’s voice from inside the womb. When Mason runs through the front door and asks to see his brother, shrieking with excitement, it’s the best feeling. Every morning when he wakes up, he asks, “Where’s my baby?” When I look at them, sometimes I catch glimpses of what they will look like as they get older. I think about what our family pictures will look like 10 years from now, or what their graduation photos will look like. I picture them arguing over trucks, or French fries or Christmas presents. I picture Troy starting middle school and Mason walking into school with him the first day. I can see them becoming brothers.

Since having Troy, I often find myself repeating things I used to hear my mother say so often when I was growing up. “Kids are resilient,” or “You kids don’t come with a handbook,” or “I can’t wait ’til you have kids and you see what this is like,” and “Well, I did the best I could.”

My husband and I are imperfect humans doing an imperfect job trying to raise these two perfect boys. And I’m grateful that kids, well, “they’re resilient.”





The Mommy on the Bus Says, “I Go to Work”


My son has a new passion for singing.

He graces us with his voice at all hours of the day and night, specifically when he sings himself to sleep at bedtime and naptime. He has several tunes he enjoys, but the song he sings most frequently is “The Wheels on the Bus.”

He loves to demonstrate his knowledge of people and animals, and the sounds and noises they make.

A few weeks ago he started saying that all the Grandma’s, Grandpa’s, Aunties and Uncles on the bus say “I Love you.” His favorite is the Cat on the bus says “Meow Meow Meow,” followed by the Mason on the bus “jumps up and down.” (Followed by lots of Mason jumping)

Pre-K has taught him that the Mommy on the bus says, “Shh Shh Shh,” which I’m actually okay with. I do say that often when we go grocery shopping or to restaurants, and I’d probably say it if we ever actually rode a bus.

But a couple nights ago while cooking dinner, I hear him loudly singing from his truck table, The Mommy on the Bus says, “I go to work.”

At first I thought I heard him wrong. He’s only been speaking words for about 10 months of his life, so surely he had that part wrong. The Mommy may have said, “I go to Target” or “I go to sleep” or even the dreaded “shh shh shh” but not “I go to work.”

Then my husband came home.

He confirmed the impossible—he had been hiding from me that Mason had been secretly singing that for quite a while when I would leave for my night shifts at work.

In my head I immediately started to defend myself– Two-year-olds notoriously repeat things they hear often. I have a ritual of giving him and kiss and a hug, telling him I am going to work, and I will see him in the morning when he wakes up. He always gives me a hug and kiss and says “Bye Mommy” or “Mommy go to work.” Then he goes back to playing with my husband or the dog. On bad days, (days when he hasn’t napped well or he has some monstrous teeth coming in or he’s just sick of being 2), he kicks and screams and cries “Mommy Mommy No Mommy Mommy.”

There are no words to describe days like this, except that they suck.

I hate leaving when his little 26-month-old self (yes, I just said that) needs his Mommy, and I have to go to work.

It sucks.

So when I heard this nasty little verse, I felt tears well in my eyes. I felt guilt (shocker, what’s new!) I felt sad. I felt angry. I felt embarrassed. I felt resentful.

I started saying to myself:

“Plenty of Moms work.”

“At least you work nights, so you only miss out on time with him at bedtime.”

“Daycare is good for him—he knows this stupid, effing song word-for-word because he goes there.”

“He’s more balanced because he gets alone time with me and Brian individually.”

“He will think of women as equal when he grows up.”

“He will grow up to admire the job his Mom does and brag about it.”

And while all of these statements make me feel better for a few moments, the truth is that this song is just one reminder of so many that the decision to work IS a difficult one. I chose to go back to work when Mason was around 9 months old, and it is still a decision that I make on a daily basis— the decision to go to work.

Most weeks I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. (From what I remember about being a stay-at-home-mom, I had the exact same feelings then, too.)

The only thing harder than leaving your needy, sticky, moody toddler is staying home alone with them for 10+ hours every day.

For me, work was the only thing that was able to provide me balance from my obsession with being a new mom. I became addicted to routines, feedings, schedules, strict nap times, and not letting any other adult soul watch my baby because no one else could do it “like me.” While every day I feel like I leave a 2-ft-tall piece of me back at my house, singing “The Mommy on the Bus Goes to Work,” the benefits to my mental health and relationships outweigh the consequences.

I am an extrovert to the core, and I enjoy so many things about work. I like driving in the car singing my music on the way there, getting my iced, decaf, French vanilla coffee at 3am, and talking to my co-workers and comparing Pinterest crockpot fails. Many of my work peers are also working moms with young children, and I enjoy sharing stories with them about toddler tantrums and where to find the discount wine that they require.

Above all, I feel pride doing the job I do. As a 911 dispatcher, every minute I make a difference. Every phone call or radio transmission I take is important, and it keeps my community safe and functioning. As a new Mom I feel out of my comfort zone so often, while work is familiar. I know how to do THAT right.

And here’s the thing—Mason doesn’t have any negative feelings toward those 8 little words— The Mommy on the Bus Goes To Work. He sings it while smiling and smashing trucks together. Mommy works, she says shhh, she grocery shops, she gives hugs and kisses, she watches Paw Patrol, and at bedtime– she goes to work.

He knows nothing different.

I’ve been wondering how I could write about being a working mom for quite some time, and the only way to accurately talk about it is to say that any choice—the choice to work, stay at home or work from home—they are all very hard choices to make.

All of them come with their own baggage and feelings of guilt. I know many stay-at-home-mom’s who chronically feel pressure to socialize their children more, or teach them more, or minimize screen time more or spend as little money as possible because “they don’t contribute.” (There’s really nothing farther from the truth on that last one.) I know the feelings of isolation, and psychosis and boredom that accompany spending 60+ hours a week with a wordless human who only know how to react to feelings physically. On the contrary, I know the chronic feeling of jealousy towards women who get to spend all this short,precious time with their young children.

Fortunately, there are no proven statistics that children of working mothers grow up feeling abandoned or having the inability to feel. There are also no proven statistics that children of stay-at-home-moms are mute hermits that are unable to befriend other children in Kindergarten and live at home until they are 35. We all get the equal opportunity to try our best to not mess them up, and we all succeed and fail at times doing this. (They all have the same probability of ending up on Intervention because we chose to work or not.)

I’d like to say this post has some special, happy ending where I feel triumphant because I work. Or, I’d like to say that my son’s song prompted me to spontaneously become a stay-at-home-mom and live minimally.

Neither are true.

Instead, I will listen to my son singing the Wheels on the Bus, try not to feel bad when he sings about Mommy going to work, and enjoy telling the story to my co-workers over an iced coffee at 3am in between answering 911 calls.





The Two Most Important Words a Mother Can Tell A Child


Today I went to Target.

A trip to Target looked so much different pre-baby. I would meander to Starbucks first to pick up my Venti Hibiscus refresher (with black tea instead of green). Then I would peruse the clothes, followed by the shoes, and then the house goods. I would be texting with multiple people for the duration of my excursion. About 90 minutes into my trip, my cart full of new sandals, another black maxi dress, a box of Q-tips and an unnecessary, nautical-framed picture, I would start to “shop.”

Today, I spend more time preparing for Target than actually shopping. I separate my list into aisles for convenience and speed. Produce/paper products/meats/frozen foods/miscellaneous. (And during pregnancy, I add the “sugar” section to my list) I pack a bag full of diapers, wipes, Paw Patrol toys, pouches, goldfish, gummy fruits and at least 7 trucks. In case I end up completely up a creek, I have secret pockets with pacifiers and the Ipad tablet, full of data to waste on YouTube videos of fire trucks driving down the street.

So today, Mason and I brave Target. We are both in pretty decent moods. He’s super excited about the police car his Dad got him a few days earlier, so he’s busy making siren sounds and I’m busy playing Supermarket Sweep. Around the middle of our excursion, he starts to get a bit antsy, but nothing to be concerned about yet. I move along to round 1 of my back up supplies, and he’s completely satisfied with smashing fistfuls of goldfish into his mouth while I finish picking out coffee creamer.

At this point, I’m feeling like I am in 6th grade, being forced to run the mile, and I have just finished 3 out of 4 laps around the track. My cheeks are red, I’m at the back of the class, but I’m doing okay, and I know I can finish. The checkout is always the worst for some reason. It’s like he knows he only has 5-10 minutes left to lose his shit in front of everyone, and he’s contemplating if he should do it today or not. On this date, I have my Target Cartwheel app to scan (if I forget to get that thing scanned I won’t get my free $10 gift card for those 72 yogurts I bought.) I also have a gift card to use, a few coupons, and my final form of payment. I take a deep breath, unload that cart, and hope for the best.

I am greeted by a pleasant 18-year-old with a handwritten, “sticker” name tag. (My heart immediately jumps into my chest, because without that official piece of plastic, I’m unsure if she will be able to complete this transaction without the necessary experience.) We make great small talk, she even plays a short game of peek-a-boo with Mason, and I immediately am relieved. We are going to make it.

Then, after my app and my coupons and my gift cards were scanned, the computer froze.

The aisle light is switched on.

The supervisor is called over the radio.

The lady behind me in line folds her arms and huffs.

I look at Mason, gauging exactly how many minutes of “cool” I have left, and I try and maintain some composure and positivity. He looks at me, like a tiger sniffing its prey. He smells the fear in me, and he tries to stand up in the cart and simultaneously take off his black Nike sneakers. He starts crying because he can’t do both at once. I ask him in my “I’m a good Mom” voice to sit down nicely, in which he responds, “No, Out, Shoes off!”

I cave very quickly and whip out the Ipad, which, somehow, for the first time ever, has absolutely zero power left. The blinking battery sign is coinciding with the heartbeats I can hear in my head, ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom ba-boom. You lose! You lose! You lose! You lose!

I see the supervisor come over, and with a line of 4 people/other-Moms-with-perfect-children behind me, we are pushed to a separate register to try and get this purchase done. I feel angry, annoyed and irritated, and I immediately start to blame everyone inside my head.

“What is the problem? What is wrong with their equipment? Why couldn’t that girl figure it out? Why can’t this one, she’s the supervisor? Why didn’t I come on a Monday morning alone? Why am I me???”

Then, out of some magical, Mother’s Day powers I had flowing, I decided to try something completely different. Something I don’t think I’ve ever tried in the 2 years and 3 weeks I’ve been a parent. I calmly thought to myself, “Traci, you have nowhere to be. You are literally going home to eat pizza with your kid and your husband and maybeeeee go on a walk. Cool the hell down and relax and talk to your child.”

So I did.

I shoved all my coupons and cards and apps at the Target supervisor, who began to rescan every item in my cart, and I surrendered.

Without speaking, I picked up Mason, put him back in his seat, put his shoes on while he kicked and he screamed, and I said—

Show Me.”

Show me your trucks.”

Show me your feet.”

Show me your eyes.”

Show me what a happy/sad/mad face looks like.”

Show me what noise Jake makes.”

Show me how you dance.”

Show me how you sing Twinkle,Twinkle Little Star.”

Show me how hard you can give me a hug.”
And that little boy laughed. And he danced. And he sung.

Did he ever sing.

He grabbed my cheeks and pulled my face to his and he gave me the wettest, grossest kiss I’ve ever received, to go with the strongest face hug I’ve ever gotten, and I he said, “I love Mommy.”


I spend so much time on this blog “venting” or “commiserating” or really just telling exaggerated, entertaining stories about the struggles of being a parent. The truth is—the gift of being a parent, the gift of being a mother to a son — is the most rewarding, beautiful, fulfilling feeling I have ever had in my life. I was not truly living before April 11, 2014.

I feel so ignorant to have ever thought I was.

While motherhood is all of those things, it’s simultaneously the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. (I say that with my fingers crossed, and ever so quietly, because I know in a few weeks it’s about to get so much harder with two—Just let me live in ignorant bliss for a few more weeks, please.)

The most difficult thing about being a Mother is “being present in all the places.” Being present at work, with my husband, during phone conversations and with my son all day long is mentally exhausting. There is no “me time” or time to “recharge.”

There is simply time to sleep and eat, on the good days.

It is a gift to be a Mother. It is a gift that I often take for granted. I am blessed with a funny, feisty, fiery, happy, healthy and handsome little boy that thinks I am the greatest person in the entire world. (Well the world of the 10 people he knows)

I miss the days of day-drinking, dinners and day-dreaming at Target, and I like to write about them often and about how much my life has changed. Along those lines, I would never go back to a day where I didn’t have Mason.

My goal this Mother’s Day weekend is to be present with my son. I want him to show me more flowers. I want him to show me where Swiper the Fox is hiding in our house. I want him to show me how he “puts his socks on.” I want him to show me his book about airplanes for the 800th time.

Like anything in life, the harder it is the more rewarding it is. This holds true to toddlers as well.

I am no fool.

I know that very soon there will be a day when my son doesn’t want to show me everything, or anything, and definitely not with the same enthusiasm he shows now.

I love this little boy for “showing me” how to live outside my comfort zone, be more flexible, and try my best to be more present.

Happy Mother’s Day to me. I deserve it!




The “G” Word


Wednesday 3/23/16: My Guilt Schedule

(Reader’s note: This is one morning in my life. There are many mornings with much less stress and guilt….like Sundays….but this day makes for a good blog post so I’m going with it)

6:23 am

I walk in the door after working an 11-hour night shift at my job as a 911 dispatcher. Per usual, the second I walk in the front door (directly adjacent to my 1-year-old’s bedroom) I drop my Tervis. I cringe, don’t move for approximately 4 minutes while the front door remains open, close my eyes and pray I haven’t woken him up. I feel guilty.

6:35 am

After putting my purse down, taking my shoes off, and tiptoeing down the hallway to my bedroom, I crawl into bed about 5 minutes before my husband’s alarm goes off. He stirs and rolls over, simultaneously making the poor dog and cat reposition and adjust. When the 4 of us have found comfortable placement in the king size bed, my husband’s alarm goes off. I disturbed the last 5 minutes of his sleep. I feel guilty. (**Most days** some days I try to purposely jostle them all around feeling resentment for the fact that they have all been asleep for the last 6 hours while I was at work…which also, much later, makes me feel guilty)

6:43 am

Mason stands in his crib, throwing stuffed animals and pacifiers (yes he still has them—Guilt!). He repeats, “Mama, Mama, Mama” until I reply back from my bedroom “Mason, Mason” or actually enter his room and say “Good Morning baby man.” Exhausted, I pick him up, give him a kiss, ask him how he slept, change his diaper, and put him down so he can say his “good mornings” to the cat and dog. He follows me into the kitchen, where I can’t find a clean cup to give him milk. (Guilt!) He reaches his hands up, asking his 6-month-pregnant mother to pick up his 32-lb self. I tell him, “Mommy can’t pick you up right now.” I feel guilty. After I wash a cup, we hold hands and walk into the living room to watch his choice of Dora the Explorer or Mickey Mouse Club. (GUILT!) Maybe 2 episodes (Guilt Guilt!)

My husband flies into the kitchen to turn on the Keurig, grab his lunch (that is sometimes not made from the night before…because I forgot…Guilt!) and say goodbye and “I love you” to us. I feel guilty that I barely saw him yesterday, or this morning, and I know tonight I will see him a whole 90 minutes before I head back to work.

7:35 am

After Mason’s morning “show/s,” I ask him what he wants for breakfast. He usually says cookies or pizza (Guilt!) He truly does like everything. Most mornings I “intend” to scramble eggs with spinach and a side of blueberries (ha!), but today, like most others, he gets a handful of cheerios and a pouch of smashed fruit. I feel guilty. Actually, the fruit pouch gets consumed on the way to daycare in the car. (Eating in the car—Guilt! Daycare—Guilt!)

Side note—I’m not quite sure what parents did before these pouch things. I really can’t imagine my life without these mixed fruit and veggie pouches.

7:50 am

There is usually some sort of tantrum or explosion over getting dressed. Today it was because he didn’t want to wear his black shoes (sneakers). He wanted to wear his blue shoes (sandals). He kicked his feet and ripped his socks off, crying out “blue shoes, blue shoes!” And I think to myself….Please don’t do this today. Please stop. Why can’t he just wear the blue shoes, anyways? Why do I care? Do I give in now and let him wear the blue shoes? (Guilt! Guilt! Guilt!)

7:55 am

We drive to daycare while I try and make positive conversation with my 1-year-old in the backseat.  I feel guilty for not seeing him for the next 6 hours or reading him a book before 8 am (wow…just typing that out loud makes me sound irrational). I point out every fire truck, ambulance, garbage truck, motorcycle or dump truck on the way. I probably annoy the crap out of him. (Guilt!)

8:10 am

At drop off, I am always either in my work clothes from the night before, or my “Mom” attire. Mom attire includes some sort of work out pants that are probably from pre-pregnancy and ill-fitting, along with the same boring maternity shirt or zip-up jacket to cover the hideous pants. (Guilt!) I don’t think my son’s ‘teachers’ even know what my hair looks like when it’s done, and they’ve definitely never seen me with make up.

One day I want to bring them in a picture of me on my wedding day and say, “See! I didn’t always look like this!!” (Guilt!)

I watch Mason excitedly run down the hallway, holding the door for me, the other kids and their parents, and run into his ‘classroom’ to play with…you guessed it…trucks. I give him a hug and a kiss and tell him I will see him after lunch, and most days, he says, “Ok Mama!” and he blows me a kiss or gives me a big hug and waves ‘bye.’ While leaving him has gotten easier, especially when I see how much he enjoys it, I still feel guilty. So guilty.

(On this day specifically, I forgot it was ice cream truck day, and I didn’t have the $4 for my son to get ice cream. My son will have to watch 12 other peers eat ice cream today while he eats peanut butter crackers. GUILT GUILT GUILT)

8:30 am

I get straight to bed. I text my husband, “Goodnight, I love you, I’m sorry I forgot your lunch.” And he says “Goodnight, beautiful. It’s ok I wanted Chik Fil A anyways. I love you.” I laugh to myself, and I fall right asleep.

I wake up at 9:30 am, 11:00am and for good at 12:30 pm, all in a state of panic. I’m always afraid I slept “all day”.

The rational me says, Traci, You are supposed to sleep all day. You work at night.

The Guilty Mom in me says, Mason was at daycare yesterday. He shouldn’t go 2 days in a row. You forgot ice cream day. You better take chicken out for dinner and make sure there’s some vegetables to eat. You need to walk this poor dog that hasn’t been outside since yesterday. You need to unload the dishwasher. You need to vacuum- there’s dog hair literally everywhere. You need to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. You need to send a “Thank You” card to Holly for Mason’s gift. You need to set a phone reminder to remember to pay Bank of America. You need to ask Mom or Ashley to watch Mason next weekend so you can go to a wedding. You need to schedule your next doctor appointment…because oh, yeah…you’re pregnant by the way! And because of this, you need to get some damn khaki pants that fit!!

I am still fighting the balance battle.

I don’t think it’s one that can ever be won.

I think there will be phases where I’m better at it than others….Phases where I feel more and less guilty throughout motherhood. I will never be the perfect Mom. I will never be the perfect employee. I will never be the perfect wife. I will never be the perfect daughter or sister or friend. But for some reason I always feel pressure to.

I remember back in Grad school for Counseling we learned several techniques to assist clients with anxiety. I believe these techniques, these ‘reality check ins,’ could easily apply to mothers experiencing the Mom Guilt.

When a feeling of guilt arises, I can evaluate if the thought is rational or irrational, choose to pick the rational option, and move forward.

For example:

Irrational: I feel guilty that I am not a stay-at-home-Mom.

Rational: I love my job and the purpose I feel doing it. I love my co-workers and the adult conversation. When I was a stay-at-home-mom, I was not fulfilled.

New thought: I will not feel guilty for working!


Irrational: I feel guilty that sometimes I want to spend time alone, or do something for me, like get a pedicure, go to Target, or go to the movies.

Rational: Getting pedicures, shopping and going to the movies are all positive, effective ways to relieve stress and fill myself up. I need to do things like this so I’m not a raging lunatic and drive others away from me.

New thought: I think I’m going to get a pedicure tomorrow.


Irrational: I feel guilty that Mason goes to daycare.

Rational: Mason love daycare. Mason loves seeing other kids. Mason loves the daily activities that daycare provides, like reading, singing, dancing, playing outside and doing arts and crafts. In reality, daycare does a WAY better job of helping him learn and grow socially than I could do on my own. And also, I pay for it, so I should use it.

New thought: Mason is well-balanced because he gets the opportunity to be around Brian, me, his grandparents and everyone at daycare. I won’t feel guilty that I take my son to daycare.


Irrational: I feel guilty that I don’t cook dinner every night.

Rational: Let’s be real Traci, I don’t think any household in America cooks healthy dinners every night. Brian, Mason and I all look forward to Taco Tuesdays at Tijuana Flats.

New thought: I will not feel guilty about Taco Tuesdays.


I’m sure baby number 2 will add new ways for me to feel Mom Guilt. How will I spread my love and time between 2 children? How will I feel about not having the same quality time with Mason that I get now? How will I maintain what few, solid relationships I have right now?

I’m not sure yet.

But I will start by not feeling guilty about tacos. 🙂