Above all else mothering makes me feel totally alive. Also exhausted, but that’s a part of living. These are my people and they have their own personalities and character traits. We are individuals who are fully connected, but each on different places in our journey through life. These truths make every day an adventure, an adventure that causes me to feel totally alive…even at 12am, 3am, 5am and during stuff like sleep regression and growth spurts and working through fear of the dark and brothers not wanting to share or picky eating. Each day is about being fully alive despite, and because of, the feelings that flow through the day.
What if there was less negative social justice and political banter on social media and more community action? What if we reserved our conversations about human rights and financial turmoil and whispers of war for interpersonal commitments that foster a local difference? What if we each picked a little gap to stand in, then found others standing in that gap and together make plans that build bridges or ladders?
In this season of life my local calling is in my home. I believe young families are the bricks that build a safer happier community. I’m standing in this gap and I’m glad to have surrounded myself with other brave people doing the same.
Find your local gap, then be there. Let’s allow ourselves to feel small in a big world, because all wonderful beginnings start small.
There aren’t words to describe my passion for raising our boys. Everyday is different, and still some things remain the same. Like how I tell his big brother over and over to be kind to your little brother. Today I literally said out loud, “Do not use your body to get what you want!” Said that after a common selfish toy issue. Then in my head I thought so very loudly: don’t ever ever use your body to get what you want. Not now. Not when you’re 16, 22 or 57. Never. If there is one thing I desire deeply for my boys it is this: to act in truth and love and to intelligently communicate their feelings without ever feeling the need to have power over any person. Raising people is a big deal.
In this moment the words “I love you” were being said. First by me then my him. And aren’t those three words the blazes that guide us along the trails we journey on as parents…the easy days and the hard days* marked by a solid love. For life, there will be love.
*Yesterday I drank wine for dinner and gave my kids cereal. It was a hard day.
I was walking around the mall, shopping for a hat, when a woman caught my attention. Like big time. In a way that inspired this blog post.
Let me pause for a moment: going to the mall feels semi 1995ish, but it’s the middle of August and I wanted a climate controlled place to stroll with my newly potty trained toddler while sharing a cup of Auntie Ann’s pretzel nuggets with my right-hand-man-husband, Tyler. Also on the drive to the mall, I mentioned to Tyler that “our mall” is the highest grossing mall in southern PA. So, I guess the mall isn’t as out of date as I thought.
Okay, now that you have context for my mall-stroll, let’s take it back to the inspirational bit.
There she was sitting on a leather bench shifting the weight of her Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM bag while three boys, under the age of four, swarmed around her. Side note: that bag was totally full. A double stroller sat nearby, but clearly she’d let go of the ever so great child restraint system to live a bit dangerously. She was full-on momming-it, but with some sense of self-preservation.
Maybe it was her full Neverfull bag or her designer skinny jeans with holes in all the right places. It might have been the hip, but not too hipster, trucker hat she was wearing over her dirty blond hair (I actually mean dirty in the way it means, and not as way to describe a shade of blonde.) Hats have a new meaning when you have small children.
It could have been all of those things, but what totally caught my attention was her shirt. It read, “In memory of when I cared.”
My mind went into a slow-mo scene, akin to the staple slow-mo scene in every Wes Anderson film. I slowly strolled passed her as she slowly looked up from the flurry of human activity around her. We low-waved to each other, motivated by motherhood camaraderie. Like a biker’s nod.
In real-time she didn’t see me, but I definitely saw her. Her image and her momness saturated my thoughts as I shopped for my hat.
Before I became a mom I cared about different things.
I never used to care about my mornings. Now my mornings are my anchor to the day. It’s quite and there’s just me and a good book. Usually a book that fills my mind with hope and wisdom about things that where and things that will be. And, coffee. Always coffee.
I used to care about how people perceived me. Not so much of a focus anymore. Caring about self-approval is higher on my priority list than how other’s vibe with me. Not caring about perception also makes me a better listener and observer of life than when I was “all about me”, which in general is just something everyone has to go through and sometimes gets stuck in. However, letting go of managing other’s expectations is just so freakin freeing.
There was a time when I cared about my work performance and making sure whatever I was producing was just a bit better than what the client wanted. I don’t care about producing stuff for others. In actuality, that seems to make stuff I work on more fun to work on (imagine that) and better received by clients and an audience. Mainly, though, I have the freedom to create and be creative in the framework of my sweet family. I pour more emotion and intent into this than I ever did to my work performance. (I realize that sharing this fact out loud might infringe upon future client work, but just being honest might also be something to be appreciated.)
I used to love the smell of Jo Malone Orange Blossom on my skin. I still adore Jo Malone, but after running out of the scent, like 3 years ago, I never replaced it. That’s because I currently really care about what I’m putting onto and into my body. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with perfumes. There is just more of a focus, personally for me, to spend money on different things. What I cared about then isn’t what I care about now. Also, smelling amazing while full on momming-it just seems excessive.
I’ll be thinking all day about the memory of the things I used to care about, but not in a lamenting way. More so in a way that celebrates growth and forward movement in life. I’m glad to have the memory of things I used to care about. In that gap between then and now there’s been a lot of change, and with change comes growth. Plus, the courage to rock a hat over dirty hair while your littles do their thing on a lazy August Sunday afternoon in the climate controlled mall.
Before I go, let me know in the comments: what memories do you have that show your cares have changed?
I’m at a point in my journey as a mom where time has taken on new meaning. Specifically speaking, I don’t like to be constrained by a time commitment. It really stresses me out. Now more than ever before. I respect that people assign times to begin and end things like play dates and nap times, and for the most part I can make it on time to nap time. However, getting out of the house on-time for anything else is a major hustle.
For context, at the time I’m writing this, I’m six months pregnant and raising a strong-willed very curious and super observant toddler. He’s two. I could have just wrote “he’s two” and you’d understand, but I figured I’d share a bit more than his point in time. These two truths seem to be a perfect mix of getting nowhere on time or in the time my rational adult brain thinks we should arrive or depart.
This morning I hit a tipping point and fell into freedom from the unnecessary hustle we moms so often find ourselves in. I intended to run errands, but when I looked at the weather forcast and it was too perfectly classic of a summer day to waste pushing our bodies around stores. So in an instant I said to my two-year old, “We are going to the splash park!” We both cheered. Then came the moment of total freedom, when I casually began preparing a picnic lunch and getting us ready to get out the door, without freaking about a time crunch. We’d get there when we get there and we actually got there when I secretly wanted to get there!
My heart rate stayed totally consistent while my little person begged to read a book on the couch. Throughout his protest to not wear pants, and then a second protest to not wear water sandals. I remained calm during his slow and distracted walk to use the potty. Before, during and after he begged me to play a quick game of pretend baseball. Then, I even gave myself some grace as I heard my stomach grumble for food just before I was about to load everything into the car. It’s okay, I thought to myself, no one is expecting me and I’m not letting anyone down by pausing to feed myself and my developing fetus. Eat mama, eat! So, I did.
By the time I opened the car door I felt a little tense. Mainly because I was aware of how I was judging myself to be more timely and prompt. That’s when I noticed my heart rate rising and my patience dwindling. That’s also the exact time my little person insisted on putting himself into the car seat. I wanted to say no, but slowed down and realized this is a kid who is growing and needs to gain independence where he safely and rightfully can. Like, climbing into his car seat. Even if it is totally not the way I would have put him in or climbed in if I was his age, and even though it took him nearly four minutes to do something I’d do for him in one minute.
In those four minutes I paused and had this thought: early motherhood cannot be rushed. Tiny people’s lives are developing within the hustle. As we buzz throughout our day like queen bees managing time and tasks, our littles get swept up in the purposeful crazy, when all they want to do is learn and grow. And, isn’t the point of early mothering to foster learning and growing? That’s what I had day dreamed up before becoming a mom, but it’s so easy to forget.
Maybe this is what living in the moment feels like? I don’t know because basically my entire life I’ve thought about the future and how to be most prepared for putting my best foot forward. Now, however, I’m going to proudly “slack off” and kill the hustle. I’m about 90 days out from welcoming a second person into our family, which also means my little boy is also about 90 days out from not being an only child. We have big beautiful adjustments in our future. So for now, I’m going to chillax and enjoy the thrill of doing what we want when we want. Early motherhood changes so fast. I’m going to attempt to slow it down and live in the freedom that being my own boss allows.
Let’s raise a wine glass and cheers to letting go of the hustle so often found among the hood of awesome mamas. Sip it slowly. It’s your time. I’ll join you, after my baby’s born and while I’m learning an entirely new level of time management as a mom of two under three. Hahahaha…no, really, it’s going to be ah-mazing!
To you, strong mama, who knows love.
You know what it’s like to wake up three times a night and still rise for the day with the sun.
To you, strong mama, who knows compassion.
You know what it’s like to carry and nurture a small life while facing poop, puke, endless dirty laundry and dishes.
To you, strong mama, who believes deeply in the future for your children – you are a visionary.
You see past the daily stuff, and can rise above a toddler’s melt down in the cereal aisle, to see a developing independence that will drive your Little toward great future goals.
You can look into the eyes of your frustrated kid and see passion and determination- things that will make the world a better place.
You can see past your needs and confidently walk into social situations without a shower in the past three days.
You, mama, have a tenacious love. You are deeply valued at home and in society. You are beautiful, brilliant and you are the perfect person for your important role in life- now and later on. For always.
Photo credit by Pixabay
Women in the 21st century have an ocean of choices. It took a lot of strong women before us, and those still forging new trails today, which created such a magnitude of glorious choices. Now women can have it all. But I’m over here asking myself what does having it all look like? Do I have to have it all at one time or can I spread it out over the seasons of my life?
Lots of women are riding the “we can have it all train”.
As a stay at home mom by choice, I often struggle with how to have it all. I’ve been thinking about this for the past two years, which is exactly how long I’ve been a mom. I opted out of my career in communications and chose a super simple lifestyle of momming. It’s really only simple when I’m sleeping. My decision to have a gap in my professional experience is statistically derailing my future career growth, and is definitely impacting/rewinding my financial advancement. Thinking about the future of what might be for me in the world of creative meetings and getting paid to produce content is bleak. So I’ve made the choice to quite thinking about all that jazz.
It’s exhausting and distracting and a little (a lot) terrifying. I’m currently praying the job market shifts big time for embracing the talent and sheer tenacity of the educated mother who chose to leave her job to raise her children. After all, we are living in the 21st century and women have equal rights…in my dreams…and some-what in the real world too.
I believe in the brilliance and creative problem solving of leaders.
Business owners, CEOs, Human Resource Directors and CFOs around America can work to close the gap between telling women they can have it all and women actually having it all. This would mean equal pay for men and women. Plus equal pay for women with kids and women without kids. All based on a person’s actual qualifications. This would mean offering more flex schedules or even proposing parents are given the ability to work hours that align with their kids’ school schedule. We have a long way to go, but we will get there.
However, for this season of my life I want to raise my kid, and then in another season of life I’d like to go back into my career or a career. Therefore, I’m deciding to focus on now.
My-kind-of-all for now…
Now is when my son is learning his ABC’s because we’ve been signing them together. Now is when I get to hear his tiny voice, in the other room, imagining a cardboard box is a car. Now is when he wakes up in the morning clapping while dancing around his crib signing Frosty the Snow Man during the month of April. Now is when he sits on my lap during story time at the library. Now is the time when he looks at me and says, “Hi Mommy!” as I type this as he plays with water and play dough on the kitchen floor. Now is when my husband and I try to mask his vegetables in a home cooked meal for family dinners. Now is the time I get to take daily walks with my son and our dog whenever I want. Now is the time I know he fell in love with hiking because we have the time to go hiking. Now is the time I can stop whatever ridiculous house chore I’m doing and join him under a fort made of blankets in the living room. Now is the time I can build trust with him that will grow over the years. Now is when I want to remember his firsts and his lasts and his tries and his fails.
Eventually all these nows will be thens, and I’m soaking it all in.
These are the reasons I’m going to stop letting the perceived threat of my successful or unsuccessful future steal these moments now. However, in the gaps between the awesome moments and the mundane stuff of life I let my mind wonder…
Since I was a teenager, I remember feeling deep gratitude for the brave and tenacious women who changed the landscape for women in America. I value and appreciate the ability for women to get an education, wear pants or a skirt to their dream job that goes beyond nursing, teaching or secretarial work. Women can decide when to start a family and choose to take time off to raise their kid(s) or go back to work right away. As this person with these beliefs, I struggle with choosing to stay at home. I think maybe, somehow, I’m letting down my past victors and present mama-professionals. Maybe on the days when nothing is going on and I just changed a third poopy diaper between cleaning bathrooms and shifting laundry I look to the future and miss the past. That’s when, and only when, I feel stuck in the present.
I choose not to sit in that gap between then and what might be any longer.
It’s stealing my joy. Plus, it’s taking away another belief that I hold deeply: God will always make a way and He will always provide. When it’s time for me to go back into the professional world, there will be something there. And maybe, hopefully, for the progress of all women there will be something for all 10.4 million stay at home moms who were able to choose to stay at home. A choice provided to her by the brilliant and brave and intelligent women that came before her, and in my opinion would want every single one of those women hired or, for those who kept on working, promoted.
My now is filled with it’s own version of personnel issues, creative problem solving, budget management and reallocation. Work through being sick, exhausted and hungry, show up and love your heart out regardless of the situation…type of now. Now makes me a stronger woman and a better mother. That might look weird on a resume, but I’m not really writing a resume I’m writing a life story. Now…
*For more on the population and research of SAHM check out this article from Pew Research Center.
Photo credit: Pixabay