Motherhood has been the most incredible transformation of my life. In so many different ways it has changed me for the better. For one, it has completely changed my relationship with my body.
If you’ve followed me for a while, you may have heard me discuss the fact that I had a very unhealthy relationship with my body. For most of my high school years I struggled with disordered eating. I would restrict my calories to about 500 a day, and workout for an hour a day after school in my bedroom to burn off as much of that as I could.
When I went to college, I did the exact opposite. I numbed myself with alcohol and ate my feelings. I went from calorie restriction to binge eating and drinking.
No matter what I would look in the mirror and dislike what I had to see. It didn’t matter when people told me how great I looked, or my boyfriend (now husband) would tell me how beautiful he thought I was.
It wasn’t until I was 23, and my husband encouraged me to work on my relationship with my body, and get healthy that I began to heal my relationship. I learned how to fuel my body instead of deprive it, and how to exercise my body healthily instead of punish it. Healing my body helped me to heal my my mental health too.
My deepest healing came however when I became pregnant with my first child. I remember worrying that my unhealthy habits or thoughts would creep back up as I watched my body change drastically and quickly. Instead I found myself in awe of my beautiful new body and the life it was creating inside of it.
That feeling only continued after birthing my daughter. This past pregnancy, the love I have for this body grew even more. I watched it once again blossom into a beautiful home for another lovely little girl.
I saw it’s power as it labored and birthed her quickly and powerfully. I sit in awe of it now as I watch it shrink slowly back down. I cannot believe how after 9 months of housing a little human and birthing that tiny person, it is capable of caring for 2 children day in and day out as it continues to heal.
The other day, my two year old daughter saw me getting dressed after taking a shower. She has started to become super curious about the human body since she saw my tummy shrink since her sister was born.
My last pregnancy I didn’t have a single stretch mark, while this time I gained quite a few. She innocently touched them and asked me “mom…. what are these?!”
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little upset when I first saw them appear on my belly a few weeks before my baby was born. I mourned the fact that I would never wear a bikini or crop top again, and complained about them to my girlfriends and husband. That being said, I have made it a mission only to talk about my body in a loving, positive way in front of my daughter. I know that the way I look at, and talk about my body is how she will in the future.
Without even thinking I responded to her “these are my Super Mama stripes! I earned them by growing two incredible little ladies in my belly!”
She got the biggest smile when I said that and asked “Wow! Can I have those too?!”
This made my heart so happy. I explained to her that yes, someday she can earn them too. She looked so proud that her body could do the same thing mine had just done, it made my day.
I couldn’t tell you where that explanation came from, it just flew out of my mouth. I can tell you that it not only made my toddler proud of my body, but it has actually made me more proud as well. Now every time I look into the mirror, I no longer see ugly stretch marks. Instead, I see my Super Mama stripes, reminding me how amazing and powerful my body truly is.
Motherhood has taught me many many things. I am so grateful that becoming a mama has taught me to truly love my body, and appreciate it for all its beauty.
So moms, next time you look in the mirror and don’t recognize that body staring back at you, know that this body in front of you has transformed from human into a super human. The body you miss has now created and birthed life, it shouldn’t look the same.
Think of Spider-Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel and all the other superhero’s who have come before you. We are just like them. So be proud of your new body, and of your Super Mama stripes!
It’s not a secret that becoming a mom literally changes everything.
Your schedule is no longer about you, you have to think of a little persons needs before your own, you can’t just leave the house at a moments notice, and last minute plans just can’t happen anymore.
What may surprise you is how much you change inwardly once you become a mama
I remember saying to myself “I’m not gonna be one of those moms that let’s motherhood change them!” I’m pretty sure most, if not all of us, say this at some point. We all picture ourselves continuing on being who we were prior to motherhood, just with this little baby tagging along for the ride.
While I’m pleased to say I never fully lost myself, (although, like all moms I have certainly had my moments), I am definitely not who I was prior to becoming a mom.
I’m not so different that I’m unrecognizable. I’m not so different that if I were to hang out with my friends without kids they wouldn’t know what to do around me. However, deep down I am changed forever.
Yes I’ve changed in the normal ways you expect. I’m not out until 1 am with my friends anymore…. I honestly don’t even know what 1 am looks like anymore. I’m not getting my nails done every two weeks, or getting together every weekend with my girlfriends for a glass of wine. I’m genuinely happy to spend my weekends with my little family watching my toddler explore snd learn.
But there’s one way I’ve changed that I LOVE, and that’s truly surprised me.
I’ve found my voice, or at least I’m finding it!
My whole life I’ve been the girl who did as she was told (with a few rebellious spurts in my younger years). I’ve never really been one to say no when someone asked a favor, even when I really wanted to. I would never rock the boat if I disagreed, because I HATE confrontation.
Once I became a mother, that has slowly started t shift. Ask my husband… Almost instantly after becoming pregnant with my second I have pretty much no fear speaking my mind.
If someone asks me to do something now ,and I really don’t want to, or in my gut I feel like it’s a bad idea, the answer is no. No more people pleasing.
That doesn’t mean it’s anything personal against the person asking for the favor, or inviting me to something. Time just becomes a precious commodity once you have another human to care about. They tend to take up the majority of your time, especially when they’re so young. Adding more events, or favors to your plate can be stressful.
Personally, I know I am a better wife and mother when there’s a sliver of time in my day carved out for myself, and if that means saying no to a night out with friends so be it. I can’t pour from an empty cup, and sometimes the best way for me to fill my cup is an hour of alone time. For this reason, I am super comfortable saying no to plans. After all, once you’re a mama alone time is so hard to come by.
I’ve also experienced the fun of postnatal anxiety. So saying no to things involving my kid when in my gut they just don’t feel right has become second nature now. I know that if I follow my intuition I won’t regret it; but, saying yes when my my head is screaming no always results in anxiety.
I really found my voice recently at the pediatricians office. A doctor I don’t normally see, but have had to with limited staff, tried to pressure me into multiple vaccines at once. I delay and space them out as a matter of preference.
I found myself being lectured… no more like bullied, by the doctor about why I may have a point but she didn’t think it was correct. Now, normally when someone of authority talks to me like that, I cower and just agree so the argument ends. This time, mama bear snapped.
I nicely, but firmly, told her it was my preference, and that while I appreciate her opinion, I’m doing what I personally feel comfortable with. She huffed and puffed but eventually gave in. Ever since, she’s been kind and understanding when I say no to something she suggests.
When it comes to my own personal beliefs, and the beliefs of others, I’ve always wanted to remain respectful. I was raised to treat others as I would want to be treated. I personally don’t want someone shoving what they believe, or their ways of doing thing down my throat. Therefore, I try to do the same.
My personal code of ethics is to keep my beliefs to myself unless you seek me out. If you genuinely want my opinion I’m happy to give it. I’ll talk personal beliefs all day with anyone open to it.
At some point during your pregnancy, (pretty much as soon as you announce it to anyone), it’s almost like a sign is tattooed on your forehead. It reads: “unsolicited advice welcome here!” It’s not really welcome here, but it’s given to us anyway, and it doesn’t stop after the baby comes. It just gets worse.
This advice, and outspoken opinions, come from a well meaning place… usually anyway. A loving family member or friend gives you a piece of information they personally found helpful. They truly want to better your experience with their suggestions.
Sometimes this advice, suggestion, or the belief they are unknowingly pushing on you, just doesn’t align. Sometimes it may seem, or even BE critical of the way you do things, or what you believe. I used to smile and nod, again, trying to remain the peacekeeper.
These days, if it rubs me the wrong way, or feels too pushy, I shut it down. I don’t do this in a rude way. Instead, I politely say “thank you, but this is how I’m doing it”, or point out where my boundary is, and respectfully ask that it is followed.
I cannot tell you how freeing this is.
Motherhood is the most challenging, wild, experience of my life. It’s also been the most beautiful transformation I’ve ever experienced.
Yes, I’ve had my moments where I look in the mirror and don’t know who I’m looking at anymore. Yes, I’ve had days where I need a break and want to rip my hair out. More than anything though, I feel like I am more myself than ever before.
Motherhood has made me stronger in my convictions. It has made me realize that speaking my mind, and standing up for myself, and the family I’ve created is much more important than keeping the peace. It has been more freeing than anything.
When I birthed my little girl, I was born again too. I became a mom. Mothers are warriors. We love hard, and we fight hard for our families.
The greatest gift I’ve received as a mother is my little girl. The second greatest gift I received was my voice. I’m still finding it, and learning to use it, but I will forever be grateful for it.
So from one mama bear to another, don’t ever be afraid to let someone hear you roar. It is a gift, so never be ashamed to use it.
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in the frustrations of our days…. or hey our year if it’s 2020.
Our kids blatantly ignoring us calling their names, the fact that you’ve cleaned the kitchen 10 times today and have to do it once again, or that your husband doesn’t seem to know what the hamper is for. We’ve all been there.
A few days ago I found myself trying to get some reports done for work, and trying not to rip my hair out as my daughter was climbing a table in the other room. I had corrected her about 100 times that morning, and even rerouted her attention multiple times. She’s at this fun age though where she knows she’ll get mommy’s attention away from work if she does what I tell her not to.
I was so very close to snapping, losing my shit, and having one of those mommy moments we’ve all had and later regret. You know the ones where you go psycho and scream, and then later realize you just argued with a 20 month old?
I happened to be listening to a podcast…. which for the life of me I cannot remember who or what it was about…. mom life. The guest on the podcast spoke these words right before I hit my boiling point: “you asked for this.”
I literally think I laughed out loud as she began to explain how every time she gets upset with how her company, or being a parent, or a wife is going she reminds herself of those four words.
“You asked for this.”
Now, you may not be into all the woo woo spiritual things like I am, but I fully believe that this was a message from above.
I NEEDED to hear those words at that exact moment, or I would have gone Mad Max on my poor kid, who really just can’t understand why I’m not giving her my full attention on workdays.
This resonated with me. I sat there shaking my head, and giggling, and realizing I DID ask for this.
I asked to be a mother. I prayed for it over and over. I planned for it, and did everything in my power to make that happen.
I wished and hoped to be able to spend all of my days with her…. not the way that it happened (you know a pandemic), but here I am home full time with my little girl. I got what I asked for.
I wanted to have a free spirited, strong willed, little girl who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. At only 20 months, boy can I tell you, I sure got it.
I wanted this. I asked for this. I prayed, and prayed for the life I have right now.
Yes it’s hard, yes it’s messy, yes it’s frustrating at times, but that is what this life comes with. Deep down I knew that. I knew it would be sleepless nights, arguments, a messy house and endless worry about my child’s well being, but still I wanted this!
We can’t ask for something and then decide we only want the good parts. That isn’t realistic. Life isn’t perfect. If you didn’t know that, maybe this year is showing that to you.
Not even a day later, I was walking with my daughter on the farm. It was a cold day and I grabbed my winter coat that had been tucked away since April. I reached into my pocket and felt a small tiny marble.
I pulled it out of my pocket and started to laugh.
I’m pretty sure I said out loud “okay! I get it!”
It was a small clear glass marble I had gotten at a shop in Salem Massachusetts on our baby moon. The shop had a huge bowl of them with a sign that said “free wishes, take one make your wish, and hold on to it to remind you of it.”
Guess what I wished for folks.
I wished to be able to stay home with my daughter full time, while still being able to help my husband financially. I kept that little marble in my pocket since November 2018, and here I am almost exactly 2 years later and that wish has come true.
Yes, somedays while working from home I want to pull my hair out. It’s hard to wear two hats at once. Yes, it’s annoying to stop my work every few minutes to make sure my daughter isn’t jumping from the bay window to her death. Yes, it’s hard to focus when your kid constantly asks for snacks, or asks for you to play with her. Yes, work takes longer because of all the tiny interruptions.
Yes, it is more difficult than heading to an office, then leaving work there at the end of the day.
Honestly though…. I wouldn’t want to go back.
So now whenever I start to lose my shit, or I feel my frustrations bubbling up at my daughter, I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself “you asked for this.”
You asked for difficult, you asked for challenging, you asked for repetition and monotony. It comes with the territory of the most rewarding thing you’ve ever wished for.
Along with all the frustrating parts of your wish you got far more amazing aspects.
You got unconditional love, the best hugs and kisses on the planet. You got the sweetest little “I love you mommys!” You got the best little adventure partner, and beach buddy. You get to experience childhood again.
All that outweighs the hard stuff that came with it.
I asked to be a mother. I asked to be at home with her full time. I asked for all of it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My first pregnancy was a dream. No morning sickness, great news at every checkup, and I was calm, cool, and collected through the entire 40 weeks.
This time around I’m facing some new territory.
This time I’m dealing with a pandemic, taking care of my toddler, and oh hey, prenatal anxiety decided to walk into the party.
Now, I have zero reasons at this moment to be anxious or stressed about this pregnancy. Every appointment has gone like a dream. Although I had nausea at the beginning, it was very mild compared to other women’s experiences. I’ve been able to workout 5 days a week, work, and keep up with my 20 month old.
I guess a worldwide pandemic could be cause for anxiety, but honestly it’s not even the first thing on my mind when that sinking, overwhelming feeling sets in.
Instead I’m anxious about all the things that COULD go wrong but haven’t yet.
This is not like me. If you know me, I’m pretty chill. I like to go with the flow, and I don’t tend to freak out or worry too easily.
My first experience with anxiety was when postpartum anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks 2 weeks after giving birth to my daughter. I had never before felt that way. It terrified me! I couldn’t breath, my mind raced, my heart raced and I couldn’t pin point a single thought or reason for it.
It took me about 9 months, research, talking to people and talking with other mothers who have gone through it to finally control it. I learned tools and methods to calm it (which you can find in an earlier blog post), and eventually it just kind of faded away.
The last 5 months I have been pretty calm…. but every once in a while the fear just takes over. It doesn’t just take over, it overwhelms me worse than my postpartum anxiety did.
The thing about pregnancy is you are SO out of control, and you feel it. Your body no longer feels like the one you know so well, you can’t do some of the things you normally can, and no matter how well you take care of yourself you have ZERO control of the outcome.
For some reason this time around that lack of control over the outcome has freaked me out.
I have no idea why since the first time around I had a dream pregnancy. Then again, sometimes I think that’s the exact reason.
I know so many women who have done everything right, and been healthy, and something just went wrong out of nowhere. I know many that this has happened to multiple times… so in the back of my head there’s a voice saying “why would you be so lucky?”
I think about how blessed I was with an easy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and an easy birth all the time. I try to focus on my own experience and use that to focus on how well this second one has been going as well.
Anxiety, however, has no rationality. It just attacks, and it takes your positive thoughts and twists them. It sounds more like “you had such a good pregnancy the first time, while so many others suffered…. why would you think this time would go so well?”
I’m only 19 weeks pregnant, just about halfway through, but early enough that fetal movement isn’t super strong or regular. This NEVER bothered me with my first.
This time if I don’t feel the baby move more than once a day I go into full blown panic mode! My doctor even reassured me at my last doctors appointment that before 22 weeks she doesn’t even usually ask about it, and the fact that I feel it at all is amazing. You would think that would reassure me… but nope!
A major trigger I have noticed is social media. It makes sense that I didn’t see many pregnancy loss stories prior to being a mother, because I didn’t follow mommy accounts yet. This time they are pretty much all I follow.
The month of October is Infant and pregnancy loss awareness month. I think this is super important to bring to light, and beyond necessary to be shared. Sharing stories of your losses helps other mamas going through it, and show others that they are not alone. I love that women are speaking their truths, sharing their stories, and connecting with others about the pain they share.
Now for me…. this has been SUCH a trigger. I have never felt the sting of pregnancy or infant loss, but something about seeing post after post this past month has caused my anxiety to skyrocket.
One day last week, I read two posts in a row about mamas losing their babies at 18 weeks… the exact gestational stage I was at. I lost it.
I realized I hadn’t really felt much movement for the past few days. I reached for the Doppler my sister in law let me borrow a few months ago and my heart sank! I couldn’t find her!
It took me 5 minutes of pure panic until I found her little heartbeat and calmed down. I reached out to my husband and best friends and explained how I was spiraling. They reassured me all is well, and baby and I will be fine.
This was helpful at the moment but still…. the anxiety creeps back in all the time. I’ve been abstaining from mindless scrolling on social media, and it has been a real help.
Prenatal anxiety is a bitch. I want to enjoy this pregnancy like I did the last. I want to walk through my day with my daughter, and not be freaking out while I should be having fun with her. I just want to feel more in control of my mind.
Thankfully, this is not my first rodeo with anxiety. Postpartum anxiety has helped me to be much more prepared for prenatal anxiety.
I am so grateful to have the guidance and tools from my postpartum experience to help me calm it. Instead of it lasting hours, I use my breathing techniques and other tools to calm myself within a few minutes. I use art, being in nature, and exercise to keep it at bay.
Without knowing these tools I don’t know what I would do.
I wanted to share this so that other pregnant mamas know they are not alone. About 10% of pregnant women experience perinatal anxiety or depression. There are resources for you. There are forums to talk to other mamas going through it. There are therapists trained to help with this exact type of anxiety.
If you’re feeling any type of anxiety or depression during your pregnancy please know you are not on your own. Talk to a loved one or a friend. If it’s crippling you tell your doctor. Don’t suffer in silence.
Pregnancy and motherhood can feel isolating and lonely to begin with, but you’re not alone. Anxiety can heighten those feelings, but again, you aren’t alone.
Share your feelings, don’t be afraid of them. Journal it out if that helps. Just get the help you need mama, because you deserve it.
Let’s normalize these topics of women’s mental health. It is so important to know you never stand alone.
We will get through this, and come out the other side stronger because of it.
That first time you read that positive pregnancy test, you jump for joy, and dive head first into the first trimester of pregnancy. It’s wild. You embark on a journey like no other you’ve seen before.
You feel like you’ve been hit by a truck, feel like your boobs have been used for punching bags, and you’re probably puking. All the while you’re thinking “no one prepared me for this!”
The second time you would think you’d go into pregnancy saying “Been there done that, this should be a breeze!” However, in my newfound experience in my second pregnancy…. that just ain’t true!
In full transparency, my first pregnancy was a breeze.
Not a hint of morning sickness, no aches or pains, maybe some sore boobs, but honestly my only real symptom was pure exhaustion. Exhaustion like I had never experienced before. Taking naps in my car on my lunch break and still falling asleep at my desk, and napping at home after work level exhaustion.
I expected that the second pregnancy would most likely be a little different, because as we know “all pregnancies are different”.
Well it started off different.
This time I knew. I knew before I even took a test. I told my husband, and one of my close friends that I swore I was pregnant a few days before I could test.
I was able to recognize the signs. My box of wine in the fridge suddenly went untouched…. and I had been having a glass every other night since covid hit because I mean that’s what you do in quarantine right? Suddenly I didn’t even wanna think about alcohol. That was the first weird thing I realized the first time around, before ever thinking I was pregnant. This time it was a giveaway.
I started craving orange juice. Immediately. I also started having vivid dreams, and I just had this innate feeling that I had a tiny little creature beginning to suck the life out of me.
Sure enough I tested the earliest day I could in my cycle and there it was… a second pink line.
Just like the first time there were tears, excitement, and joy! I expected my symptoms to begin sometime in the next few weeks and that I would be needing some naps very soon.
Boy was I in for a shock.
This pregnancy could not be more different.
Yes, I did get the giant wave of exhaustion…. but it was ten times worse…. probably because, Idk, now I have a toddler to chase?! Also naps?! What are those? So I began my first 3 months of zombie life.
SPOILER ALERT: the exhaustion didn’t stop past first trimester. Although, yes I am definitely LESS exhausted now that I’m in that blissful second trimester stage, mama ain’t got time to rest working from home, taking care of a 20 month old, and a house. Mamas, this just comes with the territory!
Next came something I was blessed beyond measure not to have dealt with the first go round: nausea. Boy was I unprepared for that.
From weeks 6-10 I spent nauseous pretty much all day. I lived on pizza, Mac and cheese, pasta and crackers and ginger ale. Even water made me nauseous. Also…. although it “went away” I’m 17 weeks along now and still experience nausea every once in a while… I even puked for the first time yesterday… what an unexpected turn of second trimester events that was!
Aches and pains came quite fast this time. Round ligament pains showed up somewhere around 8 weeks and have been more intense this time around. Headaches too! Headaches galore. Oh and back pain. I swear I can feel where I had my epidural!
That belly shows up waaay sooner too. I started showing around 8 weeks, and started really popping by 12. My husband and I actually had a good laugh comparing my 12 week pregnancy belly to a photo of me pregnant with my first at 17 weeks…. my belly at 12 weeks was larger this time.
That’s just how it goes. The body remembers what it went through the last time and starts preparing the womb a little quicker this time.
Besides the physical symptoms being different, so is the rest of the experience.
The first time around you read all the books, you check the apps daily to see how baby is developing, you make lists and lists of names. You spend hours dreaming up the most beautiful nursery. Your husband beams at you, and you beam back at him as you think of the little bundle of joy joining you soon.
This time you know from experience what’s going to happen to your body, and you’re lucky if you remember to check your apps once a week. I’m proud I know what week I’m in, but i couldn’t tell you how many weeks and days I am unless I find my app. Last time if I was asked how far along I was I could tell you down to the hour!
In planning the nursery, instead of searching the baby furniture stores for the most beautiful crib and furniture set, in perusing Facebook marketplace. You realize how little of the baby registry stuff you ended up using, and are just happy to have a place to put the baby.
People keep asking us about a name, and the truth is we haven’t even had time to really sit down and discuss it! While we’re just as excited about bringing this little girl into the world as we were our first, there’s very little sitting and and imagining what that will be like.
The truth is, the second time around you have a little one you’re already spending all your time focusing on. We’re so focused on her and her needs, feeding her, entertaining her, and keeping her alive that we have little time to discuss the new baby.
Something else I hadn’t experienced before was the thoughts every second time mama has. “Will I love this one as much as my first?!” “Is she going to love the baby, or resent her?” “Am I going to be able to handle two?!”
I’ve talked to so many moms of multiples, and they have all assured me that these thoughts are normal, and that yes I will love them exactly the same amount and that yes they will love one another. Also… my grandma had 10 children so surely I can handle two!
Pregnancy is wild no matter if it’s your first, second, or any time after. Your body reacts differently to each pregnancy. You may feel differently mentally as well. You may have completely forgotten some of the pesky pregnancy symptoms.
The truth is, pregnancy reminds us that we aren’t as in control as we think we are.
Whether it’s your first or second, it asks you to go with the flow. Just like motherhood, we have to adapt, change and let go of the control we wish we had and give ourselves grace during this time.
No matter how different your pregnancies are, the result will be the same. You will be handed this sweet innocent little baby, and your heart will explode into a million more pieces.
It doesn’t matter how prepared we are for pregnancy, or what it may throw at us. You’re a mama now, you can handle anything!
A thought recently popped into my head, and I haven’t been able to get it out.
So here it is:
How can we as parents tell our children that they need to learn to listen, when we haven’t seemed to learn to listen at all?
I mean think about it.
Look at your social media platforms. Your Facebook wall is riddled with people sharing something they believe, things they feel strongly enough to share.
Instead of reading, or watching, truly listening, and letting their words or feeling sink in, most people who disagree angrily type a rebuttal.
It seems that we are so desperate for our own beliefs and feelings to be heard that we can’t hold space for anyone else’s.
Yet here we are, every day, scolding our children to stop talking over us, to stop arguing with us, and just listen to what their parents have to say.
Funny isn’t it?
What’s good for our children to learn, seems to be lost on us adults.
We’re all guilty. We don’t even realize we’re doing it!
When someone states how they feel, maybe even share some statistics to support that feeling, instead of listening and holding space for that person and acknowledging that they’re feelings are valid, it seems our rational minds shut down and we revert to toddler behavior. We primitively think “surely their feelings cannot be valid because that means mine aren’t!”
Rationally we know this isn’t true. We all have different life experiences, and all of them are very real and very valid.
Intelligent, rational, educated adults react this way. In person, and behind their computer screens.
So how can we expect our children to learn to be good listeners and acknowledge other people’s feelings if we seem to have lost the ability ourselves?
We seem to forget that we are all the same on the inside. We all have feelings. We all have hurt and pain. We all bleed, we all cry. We all experience anger and love.
Whether you realize it or not, we all feel deeply, and we all want to be heard, adults and children alike.
There is room enough for everyone to share their beliefs and feelings, we just need to share that space. Truly share it. That means being a good listener.
It doesn’t mean you have to agree with that person. It means that you hold space for that persons feelings.
You listen to what they have to say without interrupting, without judgment, without arguing. I mean think about it; if your kid interrupts you while you are trying to speak what do you do? You reprimand them, and tell them what they are doing is wrong. Tell them no arguing, just listen to what I have to say!
So why is it ok for us as adults to do this on a daily basis to one another? How will our children learn to listen and work together, when their greatest teachers can’t seem to do so ourselves?
In a world where everyone’s opinions are louder than ever, it’s time we start walking the walk, and talking the talk.
Instead of deleting your friend off Facebook for their post on antiracism and structural racism statistics; read it, take it in, look at their sources and sit with what they are telling you. Assess how it makes you feel, and instead of hitting unfriend, realize that they are asking to be heard, not asking you to take up arms with them. You may not agree with what they have to say, but you may connect with them on a deeper level knowing a pain they are feeling.
If your friend is posting police lives matter, and you feel like that is attacking your cause, don’t press unfriend either! Read it, listen to their message, sit with their pain too. How does this make you feel? Why does this make you feel this way? Don’t respond in anger, just let them be heard just like you want to.
What if your child “unparented”you because they didn’t like what you were telling them. That would be ridiculous right?
Kind of like how ridiculous it is to let people voicing their differences in opinion be a reason to end relationships with them. Think about that next time you hit “unfriend” because you can’t believe your friend on fb feels differently about something than you do.
Political posts, religious posts, feminist posts, spiritual posts, Veganism, keto diet, parenting, and any other hot topics people love to argue about on the internet (it seems like everything)…. just read it, watch it, observe what that person is trying to tell you they are feeling.
They are trying to show you a piece of themselves. They’re asking you to look at their hearts, their pain, their struggles, their triumphs, their love, their victory, their passions and just hold space for them.
They aren’t trying to force you to believe what they do, because no one thinks they’re going to change your mind based on a post on the internet.
We all just want to be listened to.
So think about that next time you tell your kid “you’re not being a good listener!”
WE are not being good listeners.
WE, the adults, need a good hard lesson in listening. WE need to do better.
Think of how much better the world would be if we listened to one another, really listened. We could understand, and use empathy to work with on another.
Understanding someone’s pain or belief doesn’t mean that you feel the same way, it just means you acknowledge that it is very real for them.
When we can do this, we can work together.
We tell kids to do this all the time when they play with, or work on projects with kids they don’t necessarily get along with or enjoy. So why is it different for us as adults?
It shouldn’t be.
As parents we all want to raise our children to be good, kind, successful… think of how much better, kinder,and more successful they will be if they learn to listen to others, and be able to work through differences.
So let’s teach our children to listen by first being good listeners ourselves.
Start today, and be the example for your child.
It starts with us.
When we listen so will they, and because of it, the world will be a much better place.
No one ever imagined that the lockdown situation would have lasted more than 2 weeks, a month tops… but here we are.
While it’s easy to find statistics for death tolls and infection rates plastered on Facebook walls and media outlets, there are some other rising numbers the media doesn’t seem to be covering.
The mental health crisis happening right now in America is a silent pandemic. I haven’t spoken to a single person who isn’t feeling a mental strain right now.
Humans are not meant to be isolated from one another. Virtual connection has literally been proven through science to leave people feeling lonelier. That’s right. You actually feel more alone connected through a screen.
Human brains produce oxytocin when we hug, kiss, smile or even just see someone we love walk into a room. This hormone is very helpful in boosting our immune systems.
Isolation causes depression and anxiety which actually weaken your immune systems. This can’t do much good when we’re worrying about fighting off a virus.
I completely understand why we are being asked to stay home, wear masks and gloves, and social distance. I am very thankful for our health care and other essential workers, and wish to support them by any means I can, and if that means abiding by these rules I will.
Now that being said…. I am f*^$king losing it!
A day before Mother’s Day our state was told that the lift of the NYS “pause” would not be happening next week. Now it is moved until June.
I literally felt my soul die a little when I heard this. Yes I can read, yes I listen… I know that he is opening regions in stages… but I can say with certainty from numbers that my region won’t be one of them.
I am blessed to be able to earn an income from home. My husband is considered essential and is working as well. So we haven’t even had to worry about half the burden so many are dealing with right now.
I have had family members and friends who have contracted the virus, and even been hospitalized for it, but I have suffered no great loss from this.
I am lucky to have my husband and daughter to keep me company while we’re stuck at home. Something I do not take for granted at all. I feel for all those doing this alone.
Still, my mental health has been suffering since the start…. and I am in no way alone.
Every single friend I have spoken to in the last few weeks has talked about the mental toll this is taking on them. We are all feeling it.
The media isn’t sharing the fact that suicide rates, depression, anxiety and domestic abuse is on an exponential rise right now, but if you google it on your own you’ll find it.
We need human connection.
You could argue that I’m getting plenty of human connection at home right now… and I don’t want to complain because I realize I’m blessed.
Let me paint you a picture of what being quarantined at home with a toddler looks like right now.
We wake up every day around 6:30.
If I want any time to do anything for myself I have to get up by 5:30 or it isn’t happening.
She just finished getting her molars in all at once, and now her canines decided they’re gonna come in all at once as well! If you don’t know, this means she’s cranky AF from the second she wakes up til nap time 5 hours later.
About an hour after she wakes up she demands her breakfast. Although she can say quite a few words, I still have to guess what she’ll want to eat for breakfast each day… and if I get it wrong it’s tantrum city. Some days I can get through this first wave of tantrums, and somedays I want to cry too.
After breakfast I usually try to get some work done from home. This means I use my trusty babysitter Sesame Street to watch her for an hour or two so I can sit at the table and attempt to get something done uninterrupted…
5 minutes later… I’m interrupted.
She wants to “help work”. It’s adorable but after a few minutes I wanna cry. She isn’t much help… in fact she just makes it impossible to get anything done. My husband is a real hero on the days he is home, and this interruption can be avoided for the most part… when he’s not home I’m pretty much interrupted every few minutes until nap time.
Work is harder than ever before and ten times as stressful. I miss being able to drop my girl off to a babysitter so I could get my work done, without having to stop and change diapers, make sure someone isn’t going to jump off a couch to her doom, or eat something she shouldn’t. Now I want to cry about an hour into work because it takes me twice as long to do anything.
Finally it’s naptime! Emphasis on FINALLY!
This is the two hour period of time I use to cram in any important things that need to be done. Usually I use this time to get as much work as I can done. If it’s not a workday I clean my house, I try to take a shower that’s longer than 3 minutes, and I may even shave! Cleaning is almost impossible stuck home with a toddler unless they’re napping, so I usually pick my battles and save it for bedtime or days off. You can tell me cleaning can wait because no one is coming over… but a messy home just makes my anxiety skyrocket!
Two hours goes way faster than it used to… she’s up again! I kinda missed her, but I’m also kinda stressed about her being awake again. Bye bye productivity time.
Lunch time means the same battle that happened for breakfast. This time she usually throws most of the food to the dog and demands my food… which is the same as hers, but for some reason tastes better off my plate.
The next few hours are a blur of tantrums, reading the same books ten thousand times, trying to give her some outside time (and myself because otherwise I will cry), and trying to finish my work.
Now it’s the race to get something edible together quickly while my daughter has a meltdown.
She is crying because she wants to be cooking with me but I can’t let her up by the stove that’s hot, or near the knife I’m using to cut the veggies. I try to use the tv again as a distraction but this time she usually doesn’t take the bait. I end up cooking a meal listening to her scream at me and pull on my legs until I pick her up… this makes cooking dinner very stressful and take much longer.
She usually throws half of that on the floor too.
Bedtime… a mad dash to get a bath, some pjs, and a bottle. We read a book, the tantrums melt away and now she snuggles up to me and daddy. At this point of the night I finally feel peace… I feel so loved and forget some of the stress for a while. I rock her and sing her nightly lullaby and lay her down….
Peace and quiet… just what I need.
Now if it’s a work day I get right back to it! I usually work for another hour or so, then I clean the house… and by the time I’m done… bed time for mama.
Guess what… repeat that every damn day.
On days off you can pepper in a little extra outdoor time, and a LOT more chore time.
There are no breaks.
No binge watching tv shows.
No naps for mama.
No trips to the nail salon for an hour.
No unaccompanied trips to target where I can aimlessly browse the store.
No cocktails with my best friends.
No nights out with my mama tribe to share our battle stories, and decompress.
No alone time… real alone time where I can do something just for myself.
This is what it’s like to be quarantined as a mother of a toddler.
Add on the strain or trying to educate your child from home, having multiple children, being a single parent, being unemployed or a single income family now.
Try being a brand new mama who just went through a traumatic experience birthing a baby during a pandemic… many alone, and now you’re navigating this new chaos completely isolated. The mental strain can be unbearable.
Every single mother I know has compared this to feeling like they did the first few months after giving birth. Those baby blues, the isolation. We are all feeling like postpartum is hitting us hard again, without that new bundle of joy.
In a normal situation we need that human connection of a night out with a friend. We need in person conversation with anyone who isn’t a child or your partner. We need that time to vent, to cry on each other shoulders, and to feel supported and less alone… we can’t do that right now and it feels all the more isolating.
So check on your mama friends. They already do so much on any normal day… and right now they are handling double the normal physical, emotional and mental load.
They’re therapists, teachers, and caregivers to their children. Support systems for their family. They always feel the pressure to be everyone’s everything, and even more now. That’s a lot.
When all this is over I hope all the mamas get the chance to have the ultimate moms night out. Leave your cell phones on silent, and tell your husbands to figure it out. We have a lot of decompressing to do.
Dads you guys deserve one of these nights too if I’m being honest… I see you.
In all seriousness, this is a very hard time for everyone mentally. We all need a little extra love right now, and are all craving some human interaction. But mamas, I know how hard this is hitting you.
We are always the ones telling our children and families it is going to be alright, and right now that’s what we need to hear desperately.
You are not alone, and if you need a support group please contact me. I would love to get one together.
We will get through this. We got through pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and it made us stronger… so will this.
I hope we can all experience a hug with our friends, a long leisurely trip to target, or a moms night out soon.. but until then just know you aren’t alone mama.
You are stronger than you know, and you can do hard things. That’s what moms do. We got this.
If you follow my Instagram page (thatcultivatedlife.life) than you have probably seen me baking a ton in the kitchen with my 1 year old.
Yeah that’s right, baking with my 1 year old! Call me crazy, but it has been so fun, and she absolutely LOVES it.
I’ve been looking for creative baking ideas that are easy (and nutritious) so that she can be more involved in the kitchen with me. I figure if I’m gonna be baking more, I am gonna let her eat it… and if I’m gonna let her eat, it I want it to be healthy and not a sugar bomb.
So I’ve been hitting the drawing board and creating new recipes to test in the kitchen with her.
She has mastered pancakes, and moved on to cookies, and I can only eat so many of those. So yesterday, I felt it was time to move on to the world of muffins! So I sat down and wrote down a recipe I hoped would work out… it worked out ridiculously well!
I wanted to make sure I wasn’t jaded about how delicious they were, so I shared them with a few people. First my daughter, who devoured hers, without sharing with her dog, or uttering a single noise… that means she was fully enjoying it. I also brought some to my in-laws, my husband and my cousin… all of them said they were great.
So I figured I would share it with you all too!
I highly encourage you to make these yummy muffins and get your kids involved.
It’s gonna get messy, they will probably spill things all over the place, but they will have so much fun! They will get a basic idea of where food comes from, and feel a better connection to it.
It also may show them a new hobby they never knew they loved! I have been baking and cooking in the kitchen since I was 5 (thanks Grandma Bracken), and to this day it’s my therapy.
Embrace the mess, let go of perfection, and get those kiddos cooking! And if it’s not your thing, no judgment here. Just give these a whirl yourself and enjoy!
So without further adieu, the yummy gluten free, egg free muffins of your dreams…
2 cups almond or oat flour (I used almond)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 flax eggs (2 TBS flax meal, 6 Tbs water, mix together and set aside for 5 minutes)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or oat milk)
2 small Granny Smith apples diced and tossed in about 2 tsp of flour (this helps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin)
Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease a muffin tin. This will make about 9 regular sized muffins.
Mix together all dry ingredients. Add the syrup, apple sauce and almond milk and mix well. Add the diced apples and fold into your batter. Pour into the muffin tin and bake for 1 hour, or until you can pull a toothpick out of the center cleanly. Allow to fully cool in the tin (they’ll continue to bake for a few minutes out of the oven), and enjoy!
Happy baking! Let me know if you made these and tag me on Instagram or Facebook! (@thatcultivated.life).
There you are scrolling through your Instagram or Facebook, reading posts about parenting, and advice. Something resonates with you so you click on the comments. There you see a mile long list of people judging the author of that post for her take on raising her child.
Now you feel attacked because seconds ago you were nodding along like “hell yeah mama,I feel you!”
Or, maybe you joined a group on Facebook for mothers. Maybe a topic is on a particular parenting method you’re trying out. You write a question because, let’s be honest, none of us actually know what we’re doing here. You ask for help on whatever subject you are stuck on. You post, and close out your phone hoping some angel will help you out, and make you feel like you’re not alone on this.
An hour later you check your post, it’s blown up. Many lovely, supportive mamas have written back to you giving advice or saying “you got this!” “Do you!” … but then there are the few “I don’t know if you know this but that’s NOT how you should do this”, “I would NEVER!”… you know what I’m talking about.
Here you are, a tired, confused, mentally drained mama just trying to figure out how to raise a kind, happy, little human, grasping for a life line… instead they cast you out to sea without a raft.
Listen ladies. This mom thing isn’t easy. It’s hard, like really, REALLY, hard.
We put our heart and soul into every waking moment we have with our kids. We want the best for them. BUT NO ONE HAS A HANDBOOK!
Not to mention the fact that every single person, mother and child, are so different. What works for one kid may not work for the next.
You may have found the perfect parenting book for you, and the methodology works like a charm for you and your kids. Maybe your family is exactly as you want it… but guess what, your idea of the perfect family may not be mine! You know what else? It’s totally fine.
We all come from different places, different types of families, different backgrounds, so it doesn’t make sense that there’s a one size fits all method of parenting.
I’m so happy that you give your child zero screen time ever, and that it works for you. Seriously, I applaud it, and I tried that. But when I’m trying to get dinner ready and my daughter is overtired cuz she refused her second nap, snacks won’t distract her, she refuses to play independently, wants to be held, and I’m home alone… I let her watch 20 minutes of tv and feel ZERO guilt. Someone else may give their kid a few hours of screen time a day and I want them to feel ok with their choice too!
Just because I want to limit my kids intake of screen time, doesn’t give me the right to tell someone else how they should raise their own kid. I knew this inherently before becoming a mom, so I kind of thought everyone would.. turns out I was wrong!
I have decided to incorporate montessori and Waldorf style parenting, and a respectful parenting approach when it comes to raising my daughter. I joined some Facebook groups for ideas on activities, ways to set up our home to be helpful in this, and support. I don’t do everything by the book. I’m a firm believer in taking what works for you, and leaving the rest.
I never really post, but have seen post after post of new moms trying to learn how to incorporate some of these things, being berated for not doing it the “right” way. Some people are purists, and if they see a mom say their kid is doing anything that strays away from the exact ideology they scold!
You bet your ass I comment on those posts, backing up the poor mama who reached out for help and got yelled at instead.
Moms, you know how exhausting and hard figuring all this out is. So why are we attacking one another for having different beliefs and making different choices?
If you disagree with another mom’s choice of how she feeds her kids, how much screen time she allows, that she lets her kids play princess, that she isn’t pushing gender neutrality, that her 3 year old still has a binky, that she lets her son have a doll, that she cosleeps, that she doesn’t cosleep, or anything else she may choose to do, DON’T COMMENT.
Yep it’s that simple.
If you see another mom being judged for asking a question, or stating how she does something, back her up. Tell her she’s doing an amazing job, and doing the best for her kids.
All that matters is that she’s taking care of her children. That they are loved, fed, and supported. It doesn’t actually matter how!
It’s hard enough trying to learn what works best for your kids, and how to approach all the curves parenthood throws at you. No one needs a negative Nancy telling them they’re doing it wrong on top of it all.
Let’s be the kind of people we want our children to be. Kind, happy, and supportive.
If someone tells you about something they are doing with their kids, and it doesn’t align with your type of parenting, just smile and nod. You’re entitled to raise your children the way you want, and so is she.
Lift one another up, don’t tear another mom down. We’re all struggling in this together. Yes, even the moms who claim to know it all… surprise! They don’t!
Don’t let the mom-shamers get you down either. For every opinionated loud mouth mama I have met, there are 10 more who are ready to cheer you on.
My best mama friends and I do everything completely different and somehow we all still manage to tell each other we’re doing amazing when we need to hear it most. Find a mom tribe that supports you through it all.
Remember that we all feel lost, like we are failing, or don’t know what the heck we are doing at times. Be kind, always.
The way you’re treating others shows your children how they should treat others. So before you go shaming another mom on the internet, or in real life, think about how you’d feel if your kid did that to someone else.
We’re all gonna get a little mom shaming from time to time, and for those moments I like to use the beautiful words from Shawty-Lo: “Big ups, to all my haters!”
I don’t even know how it’s possible that today you are an entire year old. It feels like the doctor placed you on my chest only weeks ago, not a year. It also feels like I have never known life without you.
A year ago today, at 12 am my water broke, and 19 hours later my life was changed forever.
When they placed you on my chest, you stared into my eyes and stopped crying. It was as if your soul had known my soul for a thousand years. My heart knew your heart. For the first time I felt a wholeness I have never felt before. I felt a love like I had never known before.
Every parent I knew had told me “you can’t describe it, you just can’t know what it feels like til you’re a parent yourself”, and boy were they right.
Words cannot describe the kind of love I have for you. I can try my best, but words don’t exist to truly describe it.
I still have that feeling every day. Every time you wrap your little arms around my neck and hug me, every time you give me an unprovoked kiss, every time I tell you to say “night night” to daddy, and you turn around with a smile and give him the biggest kiss, every morning I go to grab you from your crib and you beam up at me with your beautiful smile. Every day I feel that rush of overwhelming love for you, as if it is the first time you were placed on my chest.
This first year has been a crazy one.
I won’t sugar coat it… you were kind of a lot to handle the first few weeks of your life. You, like mama and dada, had no idea what was happening. You were floating around in my comfy, warm, safe belly just hanging out when all of a sudden my uterus forced you out of a cramped tiny canal, into a bright, cold, and loud world. I cannot imagine what an adjustment that must have been for you.
The first 3 weeks you cried…. a lot. There were moments when mommy cried too, and daddy and I stood in your nursery at 3 am perplexed about what could possibly be the problem as we changed you, fed you, burped you rocked you, and still you cried.
It was scary. You were this fragile little thing. You looked so breakable, and I just wanted to know what was bothering you so I could fix it. It was heartbreaking.
Looking back, I kind of feel like this is God’s way of giving us practice for your teen years. I know at some point in your older years, I’ll see you breaking, and won’t know how to help you. I hope we’ll have the type of relationship where you’ll feel comfortable coming to me and telling me what it is that’s hurting you, but I still won’t be able to fix it. That already breaks my heart.
These are the thoughts I have now as your mother.
I think about every moment of your existence that has already happened. I am in awe. In 12 short months you have changed so very much. You are talking, walking, dancing, playing, eating almost as much as mommy can (you definitely got your love for food from me).
I still remember like it was yesterday the first time you stubbornly flipped from your belly to your back in protest… at 2 months. You hated tummy time, so I guess that was your way of letting me know you weren’t having it!
You have kept that same stubborn determination ever since (also a trait you definitely got from me). You flipped from back to belly by 4 months, and were so determined to get to wherever you wanted to be you crawled a few days before you turned 5 months. You sure gave me and daddy a run for our money. Now you’re walking and I’m really in trouble!
I absolutely love your independent spirit. I see myself in you. I get it completely.
My mother always said “just wait til she wants to do everything on her own!” I think she saw that as something to be sad about, you trying to do things on your own. I truly admire that about you. I am that way. Watching you figure things out all on your own makes my heart sing. I hope you continue this love of independence.
I also hope you never hesitate to ask for help when you need it, a trait I am sorely lacking in. We need help sometimes. As someone who likes to do everything on my own, I can tell you now that it is draining. So never feel like you can’t ask me or daddy for help, no matter what it is.
Your laugh is the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life. You make us work for it, but that just makes it so much more rewarding.
Your smile can light up a room. Every time you crinkle you’re little nose and flash those tiny teeth at me, I swear my heart stops for a second. It is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen.
You are quite the little animal lover! Almost every morning when I go to get you from your crib the first words that come out of your mouth are either “kitty” or “Rangeley!” I don’t know how you did it, but you clearly have those two wrapped around your little fingers. I have never seen a cat let a baby kiss them on the head, lay on them, pet them and follow them around the way Madi cat lets you. Rangeley has never brought a child a toy, but over the last few months she has brought you many. Watching you lovingly play with them and snuggle them makes me so happy. You have such a sweet gentle loving soul already my girl. I hope you never lose it.
I love the way you beam when I play music for you. Since day one, music has delighted you. I’ll never forget the first time daddy sang to you, and you sang back at him. You were 3 months old and he sang “ah ah ah”… and you repeated it right back with the biggest smile. Since then you have discovered lots of music, and your favorites by far are Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Shakira, Miranda Lambert, and The Beach Boys. You love to shake your booty, and head bang to the beat. I can’t wait to see what comes from your love of music! Grandpa is hoping you follow in his footsteps as a musician, but you can be anything you want my love!
I remember feeling like I wanted the first 3 months of your life to hurry up. They were the hardest. It was the time we were learning about each other the most. Now I wish we could go back and I could have every second all over.
I can’t imagine how fast the next few years will go, because I truly feel like I blinked and here we are on your first birthday.
I love every second I have with you precious girl. Every tear, every moment of frustration, every single milestone, cuddle, everything.
I am so grateful that by some chance you are my daughter. That your soul and my soul are connected forever.
I know a time will come when you will be older, we will have our disagreements, and you may not even like me sometimes… but the love I have for you won’t ever weaken. You’re a part of me.
I want you to know that even when you think you can’t come to me and tell me something, you can. I will never judge you, and if you feel like I am show me this letter to you and remind me. Know that a mother’s love is unconditional, and I will love and support you through anything. Anything baby girl, and I mean it.
I am so grateful for you, and I thank God every single day for you. I love you, and I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life watching you grow into the beautiful woman you were meant to be.
You will move mountains, and I will be here to help you, or support you along the way.