Tag Archives: motherhood

SPFquoteJune20

Monday Musings: What is a good mom?

“Remember that being a good mom is ultimately about the relationship you develop with your children and the important life skills, not about how your life looks on the outside to others.”

From the book Motherhood Realized ~ powerofmoms.com/motherhood-realized

Many of us find the age of the internet a blessing and a curse.  Never has been so much information been readily available and accessible. What we do with all that information depends on our personality: do we obsess over it, comparing notes, trying to get it right; or do we let it go in and out without attaching significance to it; or maybe something in between….and maybe it all depends on the day and the topic.  Regardless, there is a lot for parents to read and consider as they grow their families.

Today’s quote really resonates with me for a couple of reasons.  First, I love the idea of working backwards in our relationship…what kind of relationship do we want with our children when they are adults?  And which life skills do we want them to have? When they leave the house, as they build healthy relationships…what does that picture look like?

Once we have an idea of the end-game, it helps to make the daily minutiae more meaningful. Maybe it helps us stick to our plan to have them help even though it takes longer to get things done (anyone else with me on that one??) It certainly helps me guard my tongue – we know that words can never be taken back. Bearing in mind the adult relationship I want with my children helps me (most days!) to speak gently.

The other reason this resonates with me is because it is reflexive.  It’s easy to compare ourselves to others…what are they doing? Is it right – wrong – hippy hoodoo – who cares?  Remembering that I am only building a relationship with my children and that there is no one else to impress keeps me from playing the “better than” game.

I have to be the best mom for my children…not the best mom in the world. Just mine call me mother, and keeping that at the forefront releases me to love and accept other mothers where they are, rather than comparing them and asking if they are a better or worse mom than I am.

What do you think – what does this quote inspire in you?

SPFquoteJune13

Monday Musings: Struggles

“Successful mothers are not the ones that have never struggled. They are the ones that never gave up despite the struggles.”
~Sharon Jaynes

This quote takes on a whole new meaning today as I think of all the mothers who will go forward without their sons and daughters after the tragedy in Orlando. There are not enough words to express our deep sorrow.

In today’s image-driven society, it is easy to set ourselves an impossible standard portrayed by filtered pictures that show the best of our moments with our children.

I love this meme that has been making the rounds on social media:

HOTMESS

http://pin.it/fO4RF9G

As the popular saying goes, the struggle is real. Some of us struggle with being on time. Others, organization. Some, our temper. Others, mood disorders. Some, with self-esteem. Others, self-acceptance. And the list goes on and on.

The point is, you are not alone. I am not alone. Somewhere, someone is struggling with the same inner demons that you are facing. Take comfort in the fact that even though we don’t all want to admit it, we are all hiding something.

What matters more is how we go above and beyond that to do our best for our children. Are we providing a safe place for them? Are we recognizing their needs? Are we responding to them?

We won’t get it right all the time. We can strive to do better; resolve to show them the best that we have to give more often than not.

I truly believe that if we operate from a place of love, we will make the right decisions for our family. A parent that makes decisions from a place of love for their child will make decisions that are best for their family.

And by the same token, we must also allow ourselves a measure of grace. For we are only human, and it is impossible to be at our best all of the time. Inevitably the pressures of “adulating”, the fatigue of trying to do too much in too few hours, the stress of daily life will sometimes crowd out our best intentions to show up as whole, patient humans raising other humans.

So today I invite you to name one small thing, just one, that you can strive for today. What is one small way that you can do best by your children and your family today? Then go for it! Do it, and go to sleep tonight with the satisfaction that you did one thing right today. Even if it was just keeping everyone alive for the day – it was worth it.

I leave you with these closing thoughts:

https://goo.gl/ZF07yF

CLEANHOUSE

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/174936766748325198/

 

 

SPFMar28

Just One More

Our sweet friend that I was praying for was called home to be with our Lord last week.  I really feel like we got a miracle, although it wasn’t the one for a complete recovery.  She was able to have two lucid days to recognize, share and laugh with all the family and friends that came to see her. The doctors were shaking their heads in disbelief on Sunday…and she lived for two more days beyond that. It was a gift to share two more days with her here on earth – for that I am grateful.

As I looked for pictures of her, I started to panic. I knew I had one of her that I loved…and it took almost two hours to find it because I had to go that far back in our digital files.  After I finally found it, it was bittersweet. I had the picture I wanted, yet in the process of looking, I realized how few I had of her to remember her by, and I have not even one of the two of us together.

Neither of us was crazy about having our picture taken, and knowing how much I hated to have my picture taken, I wanted to honor her wish not to be photographed.  In my head, we had years with her…why would I need a picture to remember her by? This was a person with whom we celebrated birthdays, who we saw over the summer in the mountains, who we could pop in and see on the weekend…why would I risk upsetting her for the sake of a memory when I knew she was a forever kind of friend?

Along those lines, I am also going to encourage you to make memories now. We are all tired, short on time, and have homes in various states of disarray.  Lately, every time she was on my mind, I would hear she was in the hospital again.  Instead of taking the time to go see her after each discharge, I said a prayer of thanksgiving that she was well, thinking that there was still plenty of time. I had envisioned that we would travel with them after our children were older – and by then we wouldn’t care about taking pictures, right???

Wrong on both counts – our friendship is out of time, and I sit here with a short stack of pictures to share with our children when we talk about this wonderful friend who came to visit each of them after they were born, who came to baptisms and birthday celebrations, who kept special toys in her home for the times when children came to visit…so little of that is recorded because I wanted to honor her desire to stay off camera.

What is the fine line between respecting someone and recording their presence in your life? I still don’t know. Personally, it has made me grateful that I heard Jen McClellan of Plus Size Birth speak at a conference two years ago. Her message to “Capture Motherhood” really resonated with me, and since then, I have made an effort to be in more pictures with our family.

So today, I am going to add one more voice to the growing body of posts on the blogosphere that say: take the pictures. Life is messy, and for too long we have been deceived that the only worthy pictures are the “perfect” ones that we would print on a holiday card.  The truth is that out of the whole year, there are only 2-3 days that we really dress up for; that leaves 362 days of “real life” that we have the rest of the time.  Catch some of it on camera…so those that want to remember you in pictures will have something to look at and share along with all the wonderful stories of living life with you.

Along with taking more pictures, I am also going to try to remember to tell people what I love and appreciate about them more often. This friend was part of my journey of becoming a mother – I don’t know if I could ever thank her enough for her help the first time I tried to breastfeed in public. Without her by my side, I would have been even more of a mess that first time.  She calmed me down, found a way for me to latch Puma in privacy, and sat by my side as tears of pain and embarrassment rolled down my face. I know I thanked her that day.  Looking back, I can see how pivotal that moment was for me, and I wish I had told her again how much that moment means to me today. It always felt silly to want to say something…now I wish I had.

If you have those special people in your life, give them an extra big squeeze today as you tell them why they are important to you.  And get that picture with them, too.  Capture life.

My story of hearing Jen speak HERE

Jen’s Plus Size Birth blog HERE

Birth Without Fear events HERE

SPFJan25

Motherhood Journey: 11 years and counting

Puma was born in the wee hours of the morning, eleven years ago today.  It has been quite the ride.  As the day started yesterday, I thought about the fact that we were already in labor with her on the 24th, and how we had to wait 24+ hours to find out if we were having a boy or a girl.

It also made me reflect on the many lessons I have learned as a mother over the last few years. I am not going to write them all down…here are some highlights.

Everything is better with sleep. We first learned this in her birth journey.  We had to make some decisions for her birth that we wouldn’t have had to face if I had given into the exhaustion and slept. The lesson has remained with me since that day. If either myself or the Sweet Peas are not “ourselves”, then it’s off for a nap-time or an early bedtime.  The household is much gentler when we are all rested.

Tears and fun do not go together. Whether it’s playing a game, reading a book, trying out a new concept in school…if someone is crying (including me!), then it’s not the right time for whatever we are doing.  Sometimes we need to refer back to No.1. Other times, especially when it’s school-related, it means that I need to check my gut and see if maybe the Sweet Pea isn’t ready for the concept, or if I need to get creative and present it in a different way.  If I pay attention, then the day turns around quickly.

Anger is an unmet need. Our chiropractor, Dr. Ross, gave me words to express this little nugget of wisdom!  Inevitably, our Sweet Peas forget that I am not a mind-reader.  Or that I can’t hear more than one thing at a time…when they are all talking to me I will miss something, and then down the line someone is angry or upset…because I didn’t hear them!  When I see that one of the children is angry or upset, then I get right down to their eye-level and ask them, “What did you think was going to happen?  Can I help make it better?”

Find time for connection.  As parents, we have a running “to-do” list. I can become focused on it to the point of forgetting to spend meaningful time with our Sweet Peas.  It helped me to realize that what I think of as “time” and their concept of “time” are two completely different things.  Five to ten minutes of undivided attention means the world to them.  Whether it’s asking them to bring me their favorite book, or telling them I can play dolls…Legos…kitchen…cars….with them until the timer rings; that time when I am on the floor with them means the whole world to them, and it only takes me a fraction of the day.  After all, I had them with intention, and they are the most important “work” of my life.  When I flip my perspective, it makes me realize how the rest of what I do is mundane and time with them IS the most important time I will spend in the day.

Parent individually. Each child requires you to be a unique mother. Each one has a different “love language“. Recognize, honor and respect their individuality. They need something different, and you one size does not fit all, even within our own family. Along the same tangent, if I spend my time trying to mother “better than ___”, everyone loses. Don’t look forward, don’t look back, resist the temptation to look around – look down.  What does the little person in front of you that moment need from you right now? Then give it to them with your whole heart. I have found that nothing is as rewarding as the spontaneous hug or kiss because I am there. Present.

Peaceful Mama rocks motherhood. This mama is well-rested, centered, joyful, and handles the upsets of the day with panache.  Crazy Mama is just how she sounds…CRAY CRAY!! She yells at the smallest provocation, she’s generally loud, and nobody likes her; least of all, me.  I took some time to reflect and some personal coaching I did with Blue Russ helped me realize that at the crux of all the yelling was lack of sleep.  When I get more sleep, things are automagically better.  To enhance the peacefulness, I start off my morning with a meditation and a prayer for the day’s intentions…those are the keys for Peaceful Mama to reign.  Finally, I top it off with flower essences and chocolate every day.  Magic happens!! The daily upsets of life happen, and a reasonable woman shows up to deal with them…even when yelling might be construed as appropriate.  Now, in my fantasy world, Peaceful Mama shows up every day.  Realistically, she shows up about 80-90% of the time, which is better than it used to be.

Ask for forgiveness – it matters.  For the days when Crazy Mama shows up, the most compassionate thing to do is own up to it.  I owe it to my Sweet Peas to acknowledge that I messed up and that it is my fault, not theirs.  It gives us a chance to re-set and do better for the rest of the day.  By being humble, it also shows them that humility is not to be feared.  They learn that sometimes we need to be forgiven, and that respect is earned, not given or demanded.  All these lessons are ones I hope they will remember as they grow in their own personhood and forge lasting relationships in their own lives.

Ask for help – it makes a difference.  To borrow an idea from Pam England, we have this myth in our culture that women need to do everything, do it well, and do it with a smile on their face.  It is one of the most dangerous myths we embrace, for it is asking the impossible.  Here’s an example that also reflects back to the idea of teaching humility: when I know I haven’t gotten enough sleep, I confess it to the Sweet Peas as soon as we are all up in the morning. I state up front that I am going to need help that day, and that I will also need to take a nap at some point during the day. Then we proceed through the day, with them helping instead of me just doing for them all day long.  They take on more than their usual chores. I hang up the myth of having to be Super-Mom. We all have a real day, and chances are that if I take care, Peaceful Mama can still show up through all the tiredness.

A shift in expectations can make all the difference in the world.  I just heard a great phrase from one of the grandmas that I have had the pleasure of meeting through our birth work.  She shared this nugget with me, “Every time we brought a baby home, our expectations went down another notch.”  Brilliant!!! Have you seen THIS meme from The Perfect Mess blog?

HappyKids Meme

Such a great thing to keep in mind. Back to that super-woman myth…we only hurt ourselves and continue the myth with our children by trying to do everything all the time.

It’s impossible.

Even the people who look like they have it all together have skeletons in their closet.  Trust me. There is a messy room, drawer, life skill…something that they are really good at hiding.  Which brings me to the next lesson…

Be yourself. Be comfortable in your own skin, in your own priorities, and live your life the way you were meant to live it. That is the best lesson I feel I can teach our children – not perfection, not super-ness…just realness – living, learning, loving and growing every day.  As you can see, there are lots of links out to lots of people and resources in this post…they teach me and I am grateful for their lessons. There are countless other people who make up my tribe who I haven’t linked to, which brings me to…

Find your tribe. Once you know who you are and which “hats” you want to wear, this becomes more apparent.  Who are the people that nourish you? Who are the people who accept you as you are, who you don’t have to put your “face” on for?  Spend time with them. Build each other up. Encourage each other. Life’s journey is much easier when you are traveling with people, instead of comparing notes and one-upping. So. Much. Easier.

So, happy birth-day to our original Sweet Pea. She is a wonder to behold – I cannot wait to see where her life journey leads.

Which lessons have you learned as a parent?

image

On Capturing Motherhood

Usually when I attend a conference, I write synopsis blog posts for my readers so that they can have an “on-the-scene” recap.  As I was reading over my notes to share the wonderful presentation by Jennifer McLellan of Plus Size Birth, I had the distinct impression that it would be very unfair to her to share my notes.  She is an accomplished writer and speaker…publishing my notes would be plagiarizing her work.

So instead, I am going to share how seeing her presentation changed my life.  It was one of those lightbulb moments that will forever stand out in my memory.  Today I can see a delineation in my motherhood journey between “before Jen” and “after Jen”.

Here is a little backstory, so you can get a picture of why seeing Jennifer speak has changed my life…

I have struggled with body image since I was about five.  I have a beautiful mother and I never felt like I lived up to her.  When I was little, I had foot problems so I had to wear ugly corrective shoes.  After I outgrew those, I had to wear glasses – and not just glasses – “coke bottles”. I have terrible eyesight.  Elementary school was no fun as far as looking like a “normal” kid.

On top of that, I was a late bloomer – very much an “ugly duckling”, in the story in my head, anyway.  Once I finally felt like I fit in, I gravitated towards jobs that were heavy on body image.  I worked in the retail clothing industry when I was in college, and I was a professional dancer once upon a time; so there was a whole slew of “not thin enough” messages from those industries.

I see pictures of me when I was dancing professionally and I cannot believe that I ever thought I was “too fat” – there is one in particular that haunts me: I was skin and bones.  (Those pictures are hard to look at, too.)  Then, my thyroid went out of control with my first pregnancy and my doctor didn’t catch it until I had gained 80 pounds – gar!!  I went on to gain another 20 pounds for a total of 100 pounds of weight gain that first pregnancy.  So I went from thinking I was too fat, to now actually having a fuller figure, and real weight to lose.

What has been constant throughout most of my life: Feeling betrayed by my body.  I hated myself and I could barely stand to look in the mirror.  Makeup is the mask I hid behind, because you know, if my face is fabulous, then the rest of me is too, right??

On the flip side, I am a huge believer in the power of positive thinking, and the idea that our thoughts are things…so lots of internal conflict.  While I hated my shell, I knew I had to be positive to teach my children a healthy relationship with their body and with food.  How could I teach them to love life and believe in themselves when I could not live sincerely?

I was lucky enough to catch Jennifer speak at the 2nd Birth Without Fear Conference in Austin, TX in the fall of 2014.  I had seen some of the videos she shared in her presentation as they made their rounds on the internet (the ones I remember were from the Dove®  body image campaign; see videos HERE), and I have seen blog posts written by people encouraging people/women to stop feeling ashamed of their bodies and start embracing life…but none of them inspired me to take action. I still lived with hate in my heart towards this body that betrayed me on a daily basis.

There is something magical about Jennifer.  She started with humor, and then caught my heartstrings with her sincere message that we are enough, and that it is important to capture our motherhood.  Not just in words or pictures of our children.  

She challenged all of us to start being in images with our children.   One part of her presentation invited the audience to write a love note to themselves…that was a hard line for me to cross.  I hated my body. I knew that in the eyes of my children this body represents love, and they sincerely mean it when they say, “You are beautiful, Mommy”.  

I used to scream inside when they said that!   Learning to stop feeling betrayed by this flesh has been a slow process – one that started with biting my tongue the first time my daughter told me I was beautiful around eight years ago.  I knew that if I told her I was fat or pointed out the flaws I saw, that would be the message she would learn, too…a cycle I could not bear for her to learn.

Thanks to Jennifer’s challenge, I can put words to why I need to stop hating myself, and I have one very good reason to love myself. I keep that note I wrote in Austin at the front of my journal to inspire me to embrace my body as a partner instead of the enemy.  It is a reminder that my body is not something to hate or to be ashamed of, and instead, I am learning to treasure it as the vessel that grew and birthed four strong, relatively healthy children.

I used to enjoy scrapbooking.  Ideally, I want our children to have pictures of all of us embracing life together.  Then again, I kept seeing my body as a mismatch with what I felt like I should look like and I stopped stepping in front of the camera. Our pictures for the last ten years have been a lot of the Sweet Pea Kids out and about as we explore the world around us, and a once-a-year family shot for holiday cards where I hide behind them.

Thanks to Jennifer’s inspiring message, I have stopped waiting to reach my ideal body image before I can be in pictures again.  I am in front of the camera *now* because I do not want them to wonder where I was in their lives. I have started living it with them, front and center in front of the camera, just as I do when there is no lens there.

I have been pleasantly surprised to see those pictures – I no longer cringe when I see myself next to our children.  With a new gaze, I see the fun we are capturing and the memories we have made, and I am so grateful that Jennifer’s message was the catalyst to make me stop wishing and start doing. I truly cannot thank her enough for her presentation, and for the love note she made us write.  It’s the first positive thing I have said about my body in almost 20 years.  I can finally start to find some congruence and acceptance so that my message to our children is genuine instead of forced.

As to the more humorous side of her presentation, her 10 tips for taking better pictures really work, too!! HERE  is part of that presentation in her own words, published as a blog post on her own blog (see, it’s a good thing I listened to my instincts!!). So whether you take in the fun part, the inspirational part, or embrace the whole message of her “Capture Motherhood” challenge, you will be blessed.

Find Jen’s speaking calendar HERE Since I make every effort not to compromise our children’s privacy, I will share this picture I took with my DH.  This smile is so different than a picture I would have taken a year ago.

Why do I see such a difference? People who knew me in high school or college, or when I was dancing professionally, wouldn’t recognize the shape I carry around these days. That used to mortify me.  Since seeing Jennifer and writing that love note, I have come to accept that my heart that loves God and seeks to love others is the same, and that heart loves my children and pumped blood into them, and this body that grew to a tremendous size to grow them, are the reason why they are here today.
I will not apologize or be ashamed anymore. This vessel is the reason why four pieces of my heart walk around outside of my body, and I couldn’t be prouder of the work it has done.

Carnival of Natural Mothering: What I Wish I Knew

We are excited to participate in this month’s Carnival of Natural Mothering from Growing Slower!

What You Wish You Knew

Remember when you got your first positive pregnancy test? What do you wish that woman knew? Write a letter of love and encouragement to that awesome mama just starting her journey.

Read more at http://www.growingslower.com/p/carnival-of-natural-mothering.html#BLyjPcmFfALHIW9e.99

Carnival-Button-1

I found out I was pregnant one Friday after a long week of work and travel, I was so tired at my desk late that afternoon that I called my husband to come drive me home – I honestly thought I might fall asleep at the wheel because my eyelids were so heavy. I was wearing a long, loose, beach-y tunic with tights that day because I felt so bloated… I did not have even the slightest idea that I may be with child.

It was June 17th, 2011 and one trip to the bathroom, pee stick in hand, dramatically changed the course of that evening and every single day since. I was going to write a generic letter to any/all mamas that had just received that positive test but the real love and encouragement comes from addressing the very specific things I have experienced and/or struggled with throughout my journey, maybe some of you have or will encounter similar and can find a little solidarity that I was once there too, and came out the other side better than I could have imagined.

what I wish I knew

Dear Cassandra,

You will wake up tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day for many, many weeks and not believe or feel you are pregnant, don’t worry, really don’t, you are. You are and you will stay that way, pregnant, and then really pregnant until the very end. You do not have to worry about what is beyond your control, you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and happy and that is all that really matters. You will take great care of yourself and subsequently the baby growing inside of you during this journey that is pregnancy, no matter how other people make you feel: other women that have come before you, people at work, anyone, it is so very important. You will be extrememly grateful for every moment you spent stretching, every chiropractic appointment, every massage, every walk, every herbal tea, every green drink concoction, every yoga class, heck even every pedicure, when you naturally deliver a healthy baby that continues to grow into a very healthy child, while simultaneously taking up all of your time and energy leaving self care a distant, but fond memory :)

You will be in amazement the entire process, just because millions(?) of women have grown and birthed babies before you do not let it take away from how utterly miraculous the entire process is. You will think about pregnancy and birth 100% of the time, it is a lot, but do not fret. You will be prepared, prepared for birth yes, prepared for motherhood, no. There is nothing you could have done differently though, it truly is something that you can never be prepared for. It is instant and it is permanent, you will often feel like you are barely hanging on, but it will pass, and then return – it is one heck of a roller coaster that is for sure.

Adding a human being to your family who is entirely dependent on you every second he is not asleep (which in his case will not be often) is not like you imagine. It will be more exhausting, more demanding, more physically and emotionally draining, more trying, and more compromising then you can even wrap your brain around at this point. You will hate everyone who says that being a parent is hard, but SO WONDERFUL, you will feel lied to and you will feel frustrated with yourself for rushing into something you could not have second thoughts about. You will be mad that all you want is time alone but then do not enjoy it because being away from your baby makes you uneasy, you will be more tired than you could ever imagine yet unable to fall asleep because there is a small but heavy head cutting off the circulation to your arm that you would rather let lose blood flow permanently than move it and risk waking up the baby. You will wait for things; your body, your life, to feel “normal” again and constantly wonder how you missed the memo that once a baby comes out of your lady parts they are forever changed.  You will become a night owl, your body and brain will literally adapt to the fact that if you want to get anything done it will have to take place between the hours of 10PM-1AM. You will cry, a lot. And then cry some more and some days you will wake up and cry because all you want to do is go to the bathroom and brush your teeth by yourself. And then you will spend the first night away from your child, and you will wake up in the morning and cry because you miss him, and then cry harder because you don’t want to cry, you want to enjoy yourself gosh darn it and now you’re crying!

You will know that becoming a mother made you 6,567,943 times better as a person, you will know you would not be where you are today without embarking on this journey, you will know that every thing happens exactly as it should – but it will still be hard, too hard, and some days you will wonder how you can possibly live another day with no sleep, no alone time with your husband, carrying 25 pounds on a hip that definitely notices it, cleaning someone’s else’s extremely smelly poop, pushing a Cozy Coupe around the block 13 times and literally not having 10 seconds to drink water before it was seized by miniature hands and dumped on the floor.

You will wait to forget what it was like to stay out all night with your husband and how amazing all day Netflix marathons on the couch are, you will hope that the sadness you feel when you see a person reading in a coffee shop or while admiring someone’s nice, unwrinkled, unsoiled, new clothes won’t always be there. You will wonder why it is taking you longer than everyone else to use words like awesome, amazing, wonderful, joyful, and rewarding in relation to parenting.

You will know deep down that having a young child IS difficult no matter what, but that it is also temporary, a fleeting memory in the entire journey of parenthood and you will remind yourself of this, but it will not always help.

There will be times when you feel like you are losing, losing your mind, losing at marriage, losing at life.

You will wonder when you will ever be able to “do” anything ever again, and if there is re-emergence from the crazy, dirty, messy, chaos of your current daily survival called motherhood. And then one day, one day far away yet so close, you will realize you have in fact, surfaced.

You will make dinner multiple nights in a row, your son will be happy to spend hours with babysitters, you will be working again and able to feel good about getting yourself a few things just for you that you need/want, someone will say to you & Eric that you look young and in love, and when you tell your son that you’re going to put on makeup and do your hair in the bathroom and he can play with his kitchen/tools/legos in the playroom until you are done he will nod and *gasp* do it.

And the moment will come, the moment you are at the ocean’s edge on a beautiful day standing with your husband seeing your now toddler intently watching and listening to the waves crash, smiling and laughing profusely when some ocean spray gets his leg, running wildly, entirely carefree and lavishly happy that you will know that this moment would be nothing without him. Your capacity to feel the love, gratitude, overwhelming joy, happiness, reward and peace right then would not exist if he did not. His hugs, his kisses, his laughter, his stories, witnessing his connections with others,  they make life something it would not be otherwise.

Everyone’s children are different and therefore everyone’s experience of parenthood is vastly different. You may never not miss how much time you used to spend on yourself or with your husband, it may take you longer than the “norm” to describe parenthood as joyful and awesome, but you will arrive. You will take your son somewhere just for him, class, the park, the aquarium, a play date at least once everyday during the week, you will squeeze in emails during walks and work into the night, you will shop for healthy food and even if you don’t make dinner every night health will always be a priority for your family. You will share information, clothes, and baby gear with other mamas, make dishes for new families, get dressed up for work dinners despite a small person hanging on your leg, your hair will almost always be messy and your house even messier but you will be so happy. There will be shiny days, and hard days, days that fly by and days that drag on and you won’t be happy all day every day, but you will be happy every day. And most of all you will be grateful, grateful for the profound experience that is parenthood, grateful for the opportunity to grow and change into a mother and person that you are very proud of. Be easy on yourself, each day is a new opportunity to do better and be happier than the day before <3

Love & Mothering,

Cassandra, March 2014 

Thoughtful Thursday: On Being “That” Mom

me taking the 1,456th pictures of my son & I, can't get enough of him!

me taking the 1,456th pictures of my son & I – can’t get enough of him!

 

 

Happy Thursday! Today I thought I would share some random thoughts about mama-hood that are always bouncing around my head. Specifically about stereotypes and being “that” mom.

The mom that always gets funny looks & sideways glances, at the park, at toddler classes, at the museum, at restaurants. I am definitely “that” mom.

“That” Mom whose child always has snot/drool/etc. on his face

T gets a runny nose with every set of teeth that come in, it has happened every single time since his first set at 5 ½ months. I know it is due to his teeth and sometimes even progresses to a cough. Read more about that here. I know he isn’t “sick” and I follow his cues on if we need to stay home, take it easy, or go about with our normal activities. In addition to that, I try really hard every day to respect my son’s body and space. I allow him to wipe his own face and recently his dad taught him to blow his nose, yes it is not as efficient as me holding him and doing a rough swoop to get everything but when/if it bothers him, he knows how to take care of it himself.

“That” Mom who is always super late

Living on a toddler‘s timetable is a foolproof way to never get anywhere even remotely on time. T likes to take his time: waking up, getting dressed, eating, going to the bathroom, going to sleep, walking, pretty much everything. He needs natural, organic transitions from one activity to the next and we have a much more harmonious relationship when I provide that. Both of us are happier and working together and it makes for much smoother, calmer days. Do I sometimes feel like my entire life is dictated by what a very small human feels or wants right then? Yes. Is it hard to deal with sometimes? Yes. But in reality, that is my life. Right now, my entire days revolve around facilitating my son’s journey; it is a very short period in what I hope to be a very long life for him, so yes, he most often decides when.

“That” Mom who always has stuff on her clothes

Yes, I am a mess everyday. I walk and bike where we need to go and am often sweaty. I always sit on the ground with my son and inevitably get grass, dirt, dew, you name it, on my clothes. My son is also a “nibbler”. He has food out all day long (and snacks when we are out and about) and alternates between playing and eating and checking in with me for a hug, kiss, pick up, nursing and whatever is on his hands always ends up on my shirt, pants, or in my hair. If it’s not that, it’s one of the above that is now a permanent stain. At a point in the future, parenting will be much more hands off, and maybe then I will manage to keep myself clean. I parallel it with the quote by Mary Randolph Carter that “A perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life”. My clothes are definitely representative of all the “living” we have done that day.

‘”That” Mom who treats her toddler “like a baby”

I wear my son in a front carry most places we go. I am almost always hugging him, cuddling him, kissing him, or just rubbing his back while he sits in my lap. He sleeps in our family bed for naps and nighttime. I nurse him whenever he wants and if he wants my attention or me close by, I give it to him. He amazes me almost daily with how much he knows, understands, comprehends, and observes for someone so young. He is definitely a little person of his own, and far from having the dependant nature of an infant that only knows being close to mama, breastfeeding, and touch, but he still enjoys those things, and in my opinion, at this point they are nothing but beneficial. He will grow up and be his own, independent being, but as of now he has only been on this earth for 17 months of what will hopefully be 100+ years. In the grand scheme of things, he is still a baby.

“That” Mom who is always talking about her child

Being a mama is my job right now, and I take it very seriously. So yes, I pretty much only talk about my work. And yes, I can tell you are not that interested but it’s my life and it is pretty all consuming for me. I also am just so obsessed with my son; he is the best.

“That” Mom who never tells her child no

I was explaining “gentle hands” to T after he was hitting me the other week and another parent I was talking with commented, “Gentle hands? Does that actually work? Doesn’t he know what ‘no’ means?”

I choose to always explain why or how we do things with T. Regardless of whether or not it is most effective immediately, I believe it is the right way to interact with him and will yield the most positive behavioral results in the long run.

It has been a crazy journey thus far, but as of now I have really embraced what kind of mama I am. I find myself being less and less self conscious about all of the things above as time passes too. Mostly, it has been a lesson for me in not judging, not labeling, and not isolating myself because some people choose to do things differently. No matter what kind of mom I am, I am trying my hardest everyday and that is all that matters. Funny looks, comments, and my own insecurities aside, I try to remind myself of that as often as I can.

There is also no greater feeling than being surrounding by other mamas who support, uplift, and laugh with you no matter *what* kind of mom you are that day. Finding our tribe in Arizona was invaluable to me that first year, we are still working on finding our perfect place here in California <3

Share your thoughts with us! How do you see yourself in your role as mom? How do other people see you? Has being a mom made you less prone to judging others?? I love hearing other mamas stories and perspectives!