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WE HAVE MOVED TO A NEW SITE!!! http://www.mommyhood-shivonne-costa.squarespace.com/ As of June 18, 2015, this is our new location. Please come join us!! I started blogging the week I got married. I thought it would be nice to blog the full first year, you know, to cherish those memories and share them with my family and friends. Little did I know, it was going to be my greatest coping skill for the craziness that comes with marriage! I found writing to be a fantastic way to reframe an ugly marital spat into a humorous event, allowing me to smile at the situation by the end of the post. And now, I am honored to share my struggles and joys of fostering, adopting, birthing, and raising 4 beautiful children. It's my hope that others gain laughter and new ways to see their own frustrating life situation through my writing. Because I love to write! PS, look for me on Facebook - "Mommyhood-Shivonne Costa"

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Disillusionment of Spanx

I nearly lost my life getting into a pair of Spanx the other day. It’s true. I’d like to say it was a solitary trauma, but unfortunately there was a rematch during the removal process that I just can’t go into. As I laid there on my bed, trying to catch my breath and hold onto consciousness, I thought to myself, I cannot be the only one who thinks this is the stupidest thing ever invented by anyone… Ever.
            Honest to God, try as I may, I cannot think of a more ridiculous garment ever invented. And before everyone jumps on the corset band-wagon, let’s take just a moment to realize that women who wore corsets had an instant boob lift and tummy tuck, all in one piece of underwear. Yes, I recognize that they also had bruised/broken ribs and that they couldn’t eat or breathe, but there was a definite visual benefit to be had when wearing a corset.
            Now let’s look at Spanx. Even the word itself is moronic. I envision the makers of Spanx (all men, of course) sitting in their office, chairs arranged in a circle with a pair of the silly things on a table in the center of the group. All the men staring and staring until one particularly doofy gentleman called out, “Spanx! We’ll name them Spanx!” The other men spitting coffee out of their noses as they place bets on how many women would actually purchase something named Spanx.
            Well, as it turns out, the doofy gentleman won the bet. Not only does every woman from here to Timbuktu own a pair, but we actually risk life and limb to wear something that sounds like a dominatrix tool. Unlike the corset-wearers of old, with their defined waists and ample bosoms,  Spanx-wearers end up looking like overstuffed, vertical uni-boobs from knee to neck. (I can hear the skinny girls now. All the Trish’s and the Bambi’s and the Lexi’s of the world are tweeting each other  selfies as we speak – displaying their perfect measurements and contemplating whether or not pants come in sizes smaller than 0….. P.S. Bambi, they don’t.)
However, for the rest of the ladies (the normal sized ladies on up), this is probably what you’re feeling after you’ve wrestled yourself into a pair of these suckers.

            And this is on a good day. Congratulations, you look like a stuffed sausage.

            And do we know why this is? Because when we look at ourselves in the mirror and see rolls of flab given to us by babies and too many nachos, we think to ourselves, I wonder if there’s some kind of crazy contraption that will squish all of my insides into a long tube so that I can zip my pants instead of having to use a hair tie to secure them?? (Women who don’t understand that last comment can keep on moving ‘cause they just don’t even know how real the struggle is.) Then, not only do we actually purchase (with real, hard-earned money) a pair of these “miracle” undies, but we do a jig that can only be likened to the rain dance of the fat people as we try to get into them. We squirm, jump, suck in, pull up, tuck in, lay down, and twist ourselves into a sweaty mess, made even sweatier by the oh-so-breathable Spanx material.
            Again, the men sitting in a circle around the Spanx, calling out material options willy-nilly. “Syran wrap,” one says. “Fleece,” says another. Finally, Mr. Doofy comes to the rescue. “I know!! Nylon! Ha, these women will be so drenched after just one hour in their Spanx that they’ll lose 10 pounds and have to buy a smaller size! Ca-ching!!”
            And it’s not enough that you finally manage to get yourself into the crazy things. No, that’s just when the depression kicks in. Because, whereas you once had vivid dreams of magically turning into Marilyn Monroe when you finally weaseled your way into your garment, you now realize that you look more like this.

Great. Now your butt has moved to your upper back, and I’m guessing that your thighs have moved to your knees. Why? Because Spanx won’t make us skinny, ladies!!! They just move our fat to NEW LOCATIONS! So you can button your favorite pair of jeans, only now you need to wear a bra on your shoulder blades and go up at least two shirt sizes. Problem. Solved.
If you’re crazy enough to leave the house like this (and don’t worry, we’ve all been this crazy once or twice in our lives…. No judgment here), you’re probably wearing your nice jeans (with the hem let out to allow for your newly acquired double knees), big shirt, and two bras so that you can sweat your butt off as you paint the town red. What’s that, you say? Feeling dizzy are you? Oh, that’s just your organs encroaching on your lungs, slowly collapsing them with each inhale you take. You’ll be fine. You’ve got another three hours at least before you’ll need medical attention. Oh wait, what’s that now? You have to pee?

Once you’re finally back home, dehydrated and in need of an aspirator, you can finally get those dang Spanx off! Or can you? Because short of the Jaws of Life, those puppies aren’t coming off without taking some flesh with them. But at that point, you won’t even care. You just need to pee and breathe and eat and take your back-bra off, for the love of Moses!
So, you do what every panicked woman does in a moment like this. You reach for the scissors and literally cut yourself out of the precious Spanx that you’d dreamed would change your life.
But they did, didn’t they? You are walking away from this experience wiser than  you once were. You are more accepting of your body. You are more willing to reconsider your exercise plan that perhaps was growing dusty next to the ab-roller you’d purchased that night you housed the entire gallon of ice cream before realizing it was gone. You do this so you never, ever have to go through the disillusionment of  Spanx again. EVER.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why My Kids Can't Listen To The Radio

           I fear that this topic may cause some…conflict. My words may reflect “preachy” when very little is further from my style of writing. I try to keep all things on a real level because we, as parents, are all just trying to do our best and survive each day, am I right? You do your parenting and I’ll do mine, and maybe we can swap war stories every now and again when we see the other dragging and falling apart at the seams.
So I want you to know, need you to know, that my heart is to share something that is so very important to me without causing anyone else to feel “less than”, judged, or ridiculed by my far-from-perfect opinions and perspectives. In my capacities as a mother, therapist, Christian, and simply as a person, I’ve had a passion to share my feelings on this topic for quite some time. Many people will not understand me, and several may tell me I’m na├»ve and sheltering my children too much. You may tell me exactly where I can shove this article.
And to those people, I say this: I still love you. And I love your children and my own enough to post this.
Here it goes.
I don’t let my kids listen to non-Christian radio. (I know, I can hear the groans now, but please stay with me.) I don’t let my kids listen to non-Christian radio, not because I’m against secular music. Personally, I enjoy and appreciate almost every genre of music. (Although I still think that heavy-metal is sung by people who weren’t hugged enough as children…. Just saying!) God hand-picked and delivered gifts and talents to so many people for the mere purpose of bringing pleasure to the world, meeting people where they’re at, and giving the voiceless words they can really get behind. Words they can move to as well as words that will move them. This is true whether the musicians themselves hold the same beliefs as I do or not. Music is music and I love it at its core. It makes us feel things and express things and cry and soar and yell at the tops of our lungs as we drive down the road with our windows open!
I don’t let my kids listen to non-Christian radio simply because my kids are kids. They aren’t teenagers, they aren’t young adults, they aren’t even pre-teens, for that matter. And if radio channels had ratings, Christian radio would be the only kind of station consistently rating above the PG-13 category. I am quite aware that there are occasional songs played on every station that are perfectly lovely and that my kids may either benefit from or perhaps just not “get” because they’re too young to be influenced by the words being sung. But as many of you other parents are, I am busy. I am tired. I don’t need another hat to wear, another role to play, another task to complete. Simply put, to be the radio police? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I don’t want to see one more child bopping to Justin Beiber or hear one more child singing “Baby” anything! These are children, folks. They don’t need to be calling anyone their Baby because they are still babies themselves. In a society filled with parentified children, shows about teen moms, and those who have suffered abuses of all kinds, we need to run with abandon towards innocence and purity for our little ones. I want to stray so far from the middle line on this one because I want the small people that I protect to enjoy the few years of their lives unmoved and unshaken by all things that are “gray”.
But, even in our diligence to watch what our children are exposed to, we’ve all had those moments where our beautiful, wide-eyed, sweet little ones unsuspectingly belt out words to a song that makes our hair stand on end and our tummies roll. And honestly, nothing saddens my heart more than hearing my grade school kiddos belt out lyrics about booty-shaking or drinking a cold beer. My kids are not 21 and the only time they should be shaking anything is if they’re doing the hokey-pokey!
 Even my two-year-old knows when something is inappropriate. There we were, watching the American Idol finale. On comes a song that featured a group of half-dressed female dancers. Naturally, they began to shake what the good Lord gave them. My baby looked at me and said, “Mama, they’re shaking their weenies!” And he was right. Maybe it makes me a prude, but I don’t care. I’m sticking to my guns that toddlers shouldn’t learn about pelvic thrusting, butt clapping, or twerking…. At least until they’re 6.
Something that I think we as parents can all agree on is that there are lots of inappropriate songs in the world. There is literally a song entitled, “Rape Me”….seriously. None of us are going to ever play this song for our children because of a little thing called common sense! Miley Cyrus naked on a wrecking ball? Yeah, probably not going to find that in too many 10-year-olds’ CD collections. However, there are so many gray areas with music, aren’t there?
Look at Taylor Swift. Sweet girl, beautiful voice, pleasant songs about love (or falling out of it)…. No cursing or outright references to sexual content. But I just can’t let my kids go there. Why not? Because my kids are 9, 7, 2, and 1. They are in desperate need of learning concepts of pure love, compassion, friendship, justice, generosity, sharing, truth-telling, and faith. They need to hear their role models sing songs about peace and kindness, treating others how they themselves want to be treated, humility, and giving to the poor. I want my children to learn about the kind of love that extends to all people, not the kind of love that leaves a girl’s heart-broken in two after she was cheated on by the supposed love of her life. I like Taylor Swift. But I don’t trust her with my daughter’s heart, her identify, or her little girl view of relationships. No one should be in charge of those things except her Mama, her Daddy, and her God. (When that first boy breaks her heart, then she may listen to Taylor Swift!)
And please don’t misunderstand. Many of these songs are amazing….for adults. Even some for teens. And if you find yourself reading this and wanting to scream at me because your small person knows all the words to most of these songs by heart, please know that I am not looking down a righteous nose at anyone. You’re the Mom. You’re the Queen of your house. You’re the rule-maker and the enforcer of all things in your child’s world. My only hope is that we can all be diligent together - to really pay attention. To listen to what’s blaring from the speakers. To evaluate the concepts being taught under the veil of beautiful or fun music.
Because, Mamas, it takes a village. There are days that I need you to be there for my children. And there are days that you need me to be there for yours. If we can come together and agree to uplift innocence instead of cleavage, think about how far our daughters will go in this world? And if we preach chivalry instead of booty calls to our boys, how the dating world will change for our young men (and, in turn, our young ladies)!
Therefore, I say No to lyrics about stalking the object of one’s affection (Lady Gaga). No to words about partying (Shop Boyz). No to hooking up with strangers (Carly Rae Jepsen). No to craving sex (Jennifer Lopez). No to wanting a “bad boy” (Brittany Spears). No to having swagger. No to staying out all night. No to falling apart over a break-up. NO to grinding and swearing. NO to being like the “cool kids”. NO to obsessing over one’s looks and the opposite sex. NO NO NO NO NO, A MILLION TIMES NO!!!!
Let’s keep them young. Just for a little while longer. We won’t always be able to protect their hearts, so let’s do our best while we still have the chance.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Birthday Eve

            May 12, 2014…. There I was, 216 months pregnant. Big and hormonal, sweaty and not giving any craps about anything, holding one baby on my hip and another in my gut, looking like the red-neck woman’s pregnant best friend. Even my toddler couldn’t believe I was still pregnant. He was supposed to have been here days ago, months really, if you take into account the size of my watermelon-esque mid-section. He wasn’t supposed to wait this long, get this big! How in the world is this even going to happen tomorrow? I mean, he has to be the size of an NFL linebacker by now. And, I don’t know much about labor and all, but I’m pretty sure linebackers don’t come out all that gracefully.
            I’m 100% terrified, to be honest. I’m one half terrified of him coming out, and the other half terrified that he’ll stay in…. Scratch that. Maybe it’s more like 40/60. Either way, there’s some serious fear going on. I keep crying. And then I puke a little. And then I double over for 45 -90 seconds, and then I cry some more. I haven’t slept in days. Literally. I mean, I have not slept. Here’s hoping the fourth night’s a charm? Although, I don’t see that happening with all cramping and puking and contracting and crying going on.
            But the doctor said we’re headed towards a c-section if this baby refuses to come on his own. For some reason, he just won’t drop. She’s worried about the cord. I’m worried about the cord. But the only thing I know to do is to walk. Well, waddle. I’m going to waddle a trench down my driveway if it’s the last thing I do. And since I think I’m dying, it very well may be the last thing I do.
            Waddle down the drive. Waddle up the drive. (Quick pee break while near the house.) Waddle down the drive. Waddle up the drive. (Another pee break. Rest ankles for a minute while I contract.) Waddle down the drive. Waddle up the drive. (Pee. I almost made it to the toilet, too. Wipe every sweaty inch of my body with a paper towel.) Waddle down the drive. Waddle half-way up the drive. Collapse in the drive. Contract for a minute. Roll around for a while because I’ve fallen and cannot get up. Cry. Decide I will deliver the baby at home, in the drive. Decide I don’t want the neighbors to see my vagina. Roll some more. A gust of wind and fairies help me up. Waddle up the drive. (Pee….dang. Not even close.) Decide to stay indoors where it’s safe.
            It was finally time to sleep. I was amazed that my husband could snore so loudly on a night like tonight. Didn’t he know that I was expecting any second? Wasn’t he worried at all? I laid awake, gripping my stop watch, fearing that if I let the contractions get too close together, we’d never make it to Pittsburgh in time. What if something went wrong on the drive down? Oh, no…. (this is where things started getting gross, so I’ll spare you the details, but apparently a woman’s body “rids itself of all things when baby is on his way”). I finished ridding and then took a shower to rid myself of the ridding remnants. And there was husband, still sawing logs with his chainsaw snout. But 3:30 a.m. was go time, and go we did.
            May 13, 2014…..I continued to rid myself the entire way to the hospital and throughout the endless hours of labor that followed. Since I had already been in labor for the three previous days, complete with regular contractions and all, I was basically a pro. I did my breaths, I spread my legs for every Tom, Dick, and Harry wearing a doctor’s coat, and I prayed for him to drop. But that’s when his heartbeat went away. And everything seemed to fade a bit. The pain grew small and the doctor’s grew quieter as the heartbeat in my ears thudded louder and louder.
            “I need you to flip, now,” said the nurse to a woman who hasn’t been able to roll over independently for at least two months. My husband, my nurse, and my momentous girth got me flipped in a colossal team effort. An effort we exerted every 15 minutes or so, each time we lost the heartbeat. We did this for hours. I couldn’t see straight anymore. Baby wouldn’t drop anymore. And the doctor’s couldn’t wait anymore. It was time.
            Thirty-minutes later, despite my horrible experience in the OR (something I don’t even want to allow myself to re-tell, just in case there are any pregnant mamas-to-be out there), he was here. Wyatt Patrick Costa had finally arrived. The poor little man had been twisted inside of me to the point that his head was stuck and unable to move down. I would still be pregnant to this day had my doctor not made that hard call for me.
            He was so big….so long! He looked like he needed a good steak. But since all I had to offer was milk, he settled for a liquid diet.
            I was so sick afterwards that I couldn’t hold him, couldn’t experience his skin on mine or take in his tiny little features or plant kisses on his long fingers. I’ve always felt sad - cheated that I missed out on the best moment of my life.
            But today, on the eve of my son’s first birthday, I realize that I didn’t miss out on the best moment of my life. Because every day with him is my new best moment. I constantly caress his soft skin as he’s cuddled up against my chest. And I admire those big, beautiful, brown eyes and memorize the heartwarming tone of his laughter day in and day out. And I have planted no less than a million kisses on those long fingers, tiny toes, and every other kissable inch of his perfect little frame. His conception was a miracle, his delivery was a miracle, and his smile reminds me that today is a miracle.
            I love you, Wyatt, with all my heart. Thank you for giving me a new best moment each and every day.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout The Birds And The Bees

     "Mommy, what is sex?"

     I don't know about you, but when I envisioned this question making it's way to our house, I didn't anticipate the words Mommy and sex to be in the same question! Seven years old has to be too early for this, right? Although, it's not like I live with my head in the sand. I knew the time was drawing near when someone in my house would pop the inevitable sex question.... I had just hoped it would be once they were done with bed wetting and all.
     But ready or not, the question was out there with nary a warning or hint of its coming. There I stood, innocently pushing the baby in his swing - Taylor on the swing next to us and Cameron playing in the dirt at our feet. And there it was. "Mommy, what is sex?" Taylor's Minnie Mouse voice echoed out. I think that even the baby choked on his thumb at that moment. Cameron's head popped up and he immediately stood to attention, quickly forgetting whatever muddy contraption he'd been constructing just moments before.
     I gasped out a few Ums and Hmmms and Wells.... enough to write a book on How NOT to answer the sex question to your children. Finally, I created a sentence.

     "So, where did you hear that word, Taylor?"
     "All the kids at school say it."
     Stupid public school with its stupid sex-talking first graders....
     "And..... um, what do they kids at school say about it?"
     "They say that people do sex all the time."
     Phew.... if she's still calling it "doing sex", she can't know that much, right?
     "And what else do they say about it?"
     "Um.... they say that you have to take your clothes off."
     Sweet Jesus.
     This is where Cameron, in all of his third grade knowledge, piped in.

     "Nah-uh, Taylor. You don't have to take all your clothes off, just your pants."
     Taylor looked at him with annoyance and back to me, the Queen of great answers.
     "Mom, you don't really have to take your pants off to do sex, do you?"
     Ok. Moment of truth. Tell my young children the anatomically-correct version of sex or.... make up a crazy story about people doing sex with their pants on and babies magically appearing in cribs 9 months later.
     "So here's the thing.... people.... adults.... when they're married.... they want to have babies, you see? And when they want to have babies, they do a thing called sex."
     I looked at them to see if this was enough to answer their questions, to see if I really had to go on or not. They stared back at me with confused eyes, eager for clarification.
     "Um, ok. And when the mom and dad have sex, that's how the mom gets pregnant and can have a baby. Do you get it?"
     "Mom," Taylor interjected. "Do they take their pants off?"
     Good grief.
     "Yes. They do take their pants off."
     "But not their underwear, right, Mom?" Cameron added with utter certainty that he was correct.
     "Actually, they do have to take their underwear off.... it's just how it has to work."
     Both kids stared at me with mouths hanging open, disgust creeping into their eyes.
     "But Mom.... you had a baby," Taylor said in shock.
     Oh no. Ooohhhh no.
     She literally whispered the next question, I kid you not.
     "Mom, did you take your underwear off with Daddy???"
     I could see now that our relationship was forever going to be changed. No matter which way I played this, she was right. I DID have a baby. Her beloved Daddy and I had done sex... pantless... in the very house where she rests her head at night. And every single time our bedroom door will close from this point forward, she will assume we are doing sex all over again.
     I started to feel very warm. And uncomfortable. Warm and uncomfortable.
     "Um, that's how it works. If you want to have a baby, you have to take your underwear off. I don't make the rules, it's just how it has to happen."
     "Do you have to take your shirts off, too?" I felt like Cameron was staring at me like I was no longer the Mother he'd grown to know and love.
     "Well.... sometimes. You don't have to, but sometimes people do take their shirts off."
     Taylor literally laughed out loud. She offered no explanation, just cracked up for a good 30 seconds.

     "What's so funny?" Cameron asked.
     Choking back hysterics, Taylor responded, "I was just thinking how funny Mom would look with a shirt on but no pants!"
     Cameron joined the laughter instantly.
     Hey, now! Am I seriously getting body-shamed by my 7- and 9-year-olds??
     "Guys, come on. Be serious here, would ya?"
     They took a moment to compose themselves while I continued to push Wyatt in his swing. I watched him with envy as he enjoyed the spring breeze without a care in the world - no one demanding answers from him or picturing him half-naked. He's a lucky little guy.

     "Is sex the same thing as humping?" Cameron asked.
     Oh my GOSH, it's hot out here! What are we doing, breaking the heat record for the month of May already??
     "Uh, yeah.... same basic concept. But please never say that word again. Ever. It's inappropriate and... just.... don't."
     "Do you get a baby every time you do sex?" Taylor questioned.
     "No. Then we would be China."
     "Then why do people do sex, since they won't always get a baby?"
     I can't even do this....
     "Um.... practice. They practice making babies."
     "Does it feel good?"
     And it just got 10% hotter. She is just on a roll today, isn't she?!? Deep breath, Mama, deep  breath.
     "Does it feel like when you have to sneeze and it finally comes out? Because that feels good, but when I can't sneeze, it doesn't feel good and I hate that."
     "YES! That's exactly right! Good way to think about it."
     Yes. I did allow my child to compare sex to sneezing.... I had had enough truth-telling for one day!
     A silence settled over us. My panic started to subside, the May weather seemed to take on a more refreshing temperature, and I no longer felt the need to pop a Xanax.

     "So, will I do sex someday, Mommy?"
     OH MY GOSH! HEART ATTACK!!! Someone please call for a medic.... I thought we were dooonnne!
     "One day you will get married and you and your husband will want to have babies.... then and only then will you.... do sex. OK??"
     Taylor looked at me with big eyes. I think she realized she'd hit a nerve. So she nodded her agreement and then went back to swinging.
     Cameron, who had remained silent (probably fearful of giving more wrong answers) ended the conversation with this beautiful gem....

     "Mom, I don't want to have kids when I grow up. So that means I don't have to do sex, right?"
     "Cameron, that's exactly right."
     He beamed happily at the praise.
     "Good... because I look really stupid without my pants on."

     Bless these children..... Bless them.