Finding my Voice Through Motherhood

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.

You Asked for This

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.

I asked for this.

Big Ups to All Our Mom Haters!

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!”

You do you mamas, I support you. You got this!