8 Essentials for Moms

Some of these things you can buy, and some of the stuff isn’t found in a store nor can you ship it to your front door. However, all of these eight things are going to make your transition into motherhood a little bit easier.

#1 Pockets

Pockets will be your extra hands. I recently saw a mom meme that said something like, if evolution was a real thing, why don’t mom’s have three arms? We don’t. So buy stuff with pockets. Get yourself a few sweatshirts or sweaters with pockets. Pajamas with pockets. A robe with pockets. Find a pocket for your t-shirt. Get pockets on your nursing bras. Just everywhere. Pockets.

#2 Slip On Shoes

You’ll be carrying your baby everywhere. When running out the door, 10 minutes late, just slip your shoes on. Honestly who has the time and energy to bend over and tie laces? Not you. You’re a mom to a newborn. You have to keep a human alive. Ditch the extra work, grab your diaper bag, baby carrier complete with cuddly baby, water bottle, baby blanket, car keys, snacks, phone, lip balm….you get the point. Just slip on your shoes.

#3 Time

Imagine freezing time. You’re standing in your kitchen meal prepping your heart out before your baby is born. It’s going to be perfect!  You’ll simply need to pop a homemade frozen lasagna in to the oven for dinner on a day when you didn’t: shower, didn’t take off your pajamas, and your baby didn’t let you put her down. Didn’t even put her down when when you had to use the bathroom. Yes, that’s something moms do. Use the potty while holding or wearing your baby. This is a day when you are desperate for more time. You won’t have more time. You will see more of the 24 hour day than you care to. You will shake hands with 3:52 am like a boss. Time will slip away and be stuck at the same time. Just realize the time you have is yours. Don’t be tempted to do more with it to impress anyone. Give yourself permission to do less and to love more during that first year, and even beyond the first year. Time will have an entirely new agenda and meaning for you as a mom. Go with it. Not against it. And for the love of time, eat your reheated lasagna in your pajamas even if it’s 2:43 am. You can’t freeze time.

#4 Pants Sans Zippers

As previously mentioned you might find yourself needing to hold or wear your baby a lot. Even in the bathroom. Go ahead and gift yourself with one less annoyance: just pull your pants up and don’t worry about zipping or buttoning anything. Aint nobody got time for that! The other liberating fact about pants without zippers:  they feel like you are wearing your pajamas even when you are not. As a new mom this will become hugely valuable. Your body has gone through extreme changes growing a baby. It will go through extreme changes once you’re carrying said baby on this side. Let yourself wear your maternity pants as long as you want to. Be okay with leggings, which also look adorable with slip on shoes and can be paired perfectly with all tops that have pockets. So in summary: pockets, leggings, slip on shoes. It’ll save you time and you’ll feel comfortable. Tired, but comfortable.

#5 Comfortable Socks

You’ll be on your feet more than you think. Give yourself the gift of simple joys like quality socks. Even in the summertime, having your feet hugged by fabric and fluff makes you feel a little like you’re walking on a cloud. Reality will say you’re walking down the hall for the 20th time to get something, but you forgot what it was. If you step on a toy or the dog, your socks will cushion the blow. Oh, and socks will cover that pedicure you got before your baby was born, but now it’s been about seven months later and you’re not sure what your toes look like because again, aint nobody got time for that! Socks will help.

#6 Nalgene or Yeti or Both

Get both. Stay hydrated. A Nalgene will hold you accountable to drink 64 oz a day or more. Those little measuring marks are like your personal pep rally in a bottle. Drink, drink, drink… . The Yeti is awesome for extreme cold or hot needs. Coffee, tea, iced anything…fill that Yeti up and it’ll stay the exact, or darn close to, the temp you poured it in at for 24 hrs. And as we have already chatted about, you’ll see more of the 24 hrs in the day than ever before in your natural born life. Stay hydrated, Mama!

#7 No Expectations

Really, toss those commercial reels in your mind from Gerber, Pampers, State Farm, whatever your mother tells (love you, mom!) you or your favorite mom influencer on Insta. Just ignore those ideals you hold so closely to your heart. You are about to birth a new person into the world. People have their own ideas and agendas. Your baby will have his own agenda. It starts with how he enters the world and just rolls right on through the rest of his life. When you surrender and let go of your expectations you will be so free to enjoy life as a parent. Really. Hang on, you’re about to go on an adventure and the itinerary is going to be filled with alternate times, milestones, and missed appointments. You, however, will be filled with an intense love for your new normal that it’ll all balance out…if you’re wearing pockets.

#8 Smart Watch

Get a watch that will tell you how many steps you’ve done. Who is texting you. A watch that glows at a touch so you can actually see that you’re waking up at 4:19 am. I personally love my Garmin 230 Forerunner. It has helped me eat enough during the day so I didn’t fall over from lack of calories. This is a reality when exclusively nursing a baby while chasing around a toddler. I could visually see that while still in my pajamas and feeling like time was melting all around me, I actually walked a 5k inside my cozy house. My watch partnered with me to track the hours I did or did not sleep. And that data helped me rationalize my extreme exhaustion at one in the afternoon. I was kinder to myself and my toddler, because I had data telling me I only slept for three hours the night before. It was smart when I was not. Get a smart watch.

Before I go, I want you to know, you will be the perfect PERFECT perfect mom for your child. You are made for such a time as this. Buy the leggings, drink the water, dump your expectations, and fall deeply in love with your time as a mom.

Love you more than candy,

Teresa

Postpartum Anxiety

This time last year I thought I was going to die.  If I wasn’t going to die I thought one of my kids would. The winter months were frozen with fear of getting sick, then dying. It was awful.  I wasn’t sleeping much and my hormones were a mess. It also turns out that I was clueless about postpartum anxiety.

Last February my low point collided with a moment of long approaching clarity.

Read more

Co-momming and Grocery Shopping

vintage-1892082_640

I was reclining in the chair, at the dentist, a drill was grading away at my tooth when I realized that I was way more relaxed in that moment than when I’m pushing a cart filled with groceries and two kids. It was so relaxing to just lounge there and not do anything. I don’t know if this was a great realization or a tragic one.

I remember that first grocery trip as a mom of two, and I still get sweaty palms just thinking back on it. There’s so many decisions to make while picking out groceries. Then there’s the crowd of other casual shoppers sans kids who seems to be in a totally different minds space. The cart is never big enough for two small people and all the food. Someone will need to use the bathroom or eat or both. One or both kids will lick the cart or grab items off the shelf, most likely both will happen. Both are annoying, one is gross.

When my friend Helena told me she was deciding between going grocery shopping with her newborn and toddler, or to the park I let her know I needed to go grocery shopping too! With slight hesitation, I suggested we go shopping together, then take the kids to the park. I hesitated because it never occurred to me to invite another mom to go grocery shopping. What’s the worse that could happen?

Evidently this invite was exactly what we both needed in our lives. We met up to shop like two co-workers showing up for a meeting. We planned our route through the store and set our expectations about how we’ll split up and then meet up, but we’d never hesitate to text for backup.  Just knowing we were in this together, even though sometimes in separate aisles helped calm our minds. It was not perfect, but it was wonderful.

We are co-laborers, co-workers, co-mommers. Why not meet up to do the hard things together? Even if “hard” gets redefined to all the normal stuff we did pre-kids. I remember strolling through my prefered grocer on a Saturday when I wasn’t a mom, and taking my time. I didn’t love it then, but I didn’t hate it either. It wasn’t hard. It was a function. Now it’s hard and a function of survival. I haven’t researched this, but I’m pretty sure groups did not go hunting and gathering alone. So why go grocery shopping alone?

In multi-family homes, 70% of people grocery shoppers are women.  I must share that Tyler is an awesome grocery shopper and does lots of weekly trips for us. I love when he comes home with extra fun stuff to eat. His bounty actually represents his enjoyment for grocery shopping. Mine is all form and function. Anyway, back to moms and shopping with kids, each time I pass a mom with young kids in a cart I stop myself from high-fiving her. Next time I should, and I should recommend that she calls her friend to meet up in aisle nine.

Helena and I shopped for about 40 minutes, which evidently is two minutes below the average time women take to grocery shop, and within that time between the two of us there was one potty break, two crying kids, and two snack times. At one point I lost Helena and she wasn’t answering her texts. I didn’t panic. I just kept strolling on like Pete The Cat.  Then I found her sitting in an Adirondack chair.  Not a complimentary chair for nursing moms, but for sale chair in the outdoor aisle. She wasn’t testing to buy, she was nursing her newborn. Her toddler was swiping through family photos on her iPhone. We just rolled into the scene like cool cats and began chatting. My son chatted with her son and me with Helena. I was baby wearing, she was baby feeding and we had each other’s back. We decided our hunting and gathering was done for the day and it was time to check-out and get to the playground.

That was a success co-momming meeting. I’d do that again. Thanks, Helena. You’re the best.

P.S. Women do 51% of the grocery shopping But when was the last time you were at a grocery store and saw a mommy & child space complete with a nursing area and some crayons and coloring books for big sister or brother?  The average shopping time of 41 minutes for women, that’s not saying with or without kids, is a long time for little minds and bellies. Maybe there can be a change in the grocery store experience for moms with kids? For now, invite your friend.

| photo credit Prawny via Pixabay |

An Odd Place To Be Inspired

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?

 

 

 

Trust Yourself

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I’m a member of a few moms groups. Love them!  We talk about stuff that makes us better moms. Like, what to do when your toddler sticks his hands down his pants in public, or how to get nail polish off your walls, or when and how to sneak vegetables into your toddler’s meals, or recommendations on a good counselor for depression/anxiety, which I call “adjusting to the new normal”.   These are things that are helpful. Then, there is the stuff that isn’t so helpful.

Feeding Fears

It’s the stuff that new moms let get to them. How should my kid react to large groups of people or should my kid be spending more time with board books and less time with music or is it the other way around? Should I spend more time imagining with my kid because I work full-time? Who’s scared of the [fill in the blank], and what will you do if your kid has it/does it/misses it?

A Fire Pit of Shoulds and What Ifs

As a mom you’ve been given a huge responsibility without any prior experience. Most working professionals wouldn’t make it past the first ninety days if they were given your role without any training, and that’s what parenting is: a crash course with the real tiny person. Nobody else was given your role, and they don’t have your kid, you do. That’s the way it’s meant to be, and that’s why “ifs and shoulds” need to go up in flames.

The questions of doubt typically starts with the words “What if?” and/or “Should I?”. These words need to leave our thoughts because I think they are corrupting our freedom as parents. All the moms can stand around the crackling fire on a crisp fall evening, while their kids are home with a babysitter who isn’t charging for that night.  Everyone will have a glass of wine, beer or bourbon while watching those ifs, shoulds, and doubts go up in a blaze.

Then, just for the heck of it, moms will look across the flames and speak words of encourage to each other.  They’ll say things like, “You’re doing the best you can and that’s what your kid needs!”, and “I’m not giving you permission to compare your parenting style to my parenting style…want another glass of Merlot?”, and “I promise not to give advice unless you ask for it, and it can’t begin with ‘should I be…'”.

Go With Your Intuition

Let your intuition guide you. Read a few things here and there, but don’t take them as fact. Except that stuff about not feeding honey to your kid before one year. That’s a fact. But most of the other things about parenting are about your best attempt. “Try” without fearing, without should-ing, and without what-if-ing.

Be In Community

It is so important to be in a community of moms to learn with and shoot the shit about all the shit you clean up. But, please moms, I beg of you to trust yourself. Your little person, whom you have an emotion for that words can’t describe, is learning to trust. When you trust yourself your kid will trust you, and that is the beginning of something grand.

Cheers to Trusting

I’ve been a mom for almost two years, which feels at times like twenty years or ninety days depending on the day or my caffeine intake. At the exact moment I held my little boy I felt something I still can’t put it into words, but that feeling is what makes me connected to my son and the perfect mom for his personhood. And, for that, I choose to trust myself.

Go ahead, choose to trust yourself and embrace the journey of trying. Cheers to that!

| photo credit LuciaGrosse via Pixabay |

 

Moms Are Visionaries

By: Teresa B. Duffy

I was starting my fourth load of laundry on the Monday after Christmas holiday. There was no food in my house. Correction— my pantry looked like the crackers and chip aisle at my grocery store got together and had a carbohydrate baby. Unknown to me, we ended up with all the loot (chips, chocolate, pound cake, crackers, gold fish, more chips) leftover from our family’s holiday vacation. Also, my refrigerator looked like a science project and earlier that morning I had tossed everything.

On my agenda for the first week of the new year: laundry, grocery shopping, pick up the dog from the boarder, more laundry and put away all the presents, unpack luggage, clean up after the cat. Drink wine while making dinner (that’s my favorite).

Can we all give a big shout-out to glamorous! G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S

Kidding. I never have been a girl that likes glamour anyway. Lucky for me!

So, with my head in the dryer searching for the other 18-24 month sized sock I had this thought: Moms must be visionaries.

A visionary is someone with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.

When was the last time you had an original idea or made time to think beyond the next thing on your list?

Original thoughts about where you are going will only help you lead your kids. And kids need leaders. They need you to dream big and show them the trail to explore on. Okay, since I just teased a woods metaphor, let’s go there for a moment…

Bullets on your “To Do List” are just trees in a really beautiful forest. Don’t get lost in the trees. Find a trail, or even better, blaze a trail with your kids as your helpers. Tell them your visions and dreams and invite them onto that path. Eventually they will learn from you how to make their own trails through the woods, navigating through the trees—exploring.

My little boy will only be wearing a size 18-24 month old sock for a few weeks longer. I’ll only be eating chips and crackers until spring. Dinner will always (usually) need to be served, but thank God for wine and my own kitchen—my point is this:

Being a mom is equal parts daily-stuff and vision casting. Don’t get stuck in the next bullet point on your list. It’s our privilege to continually look ahead and lead, while balancing the daily. This is the gifting of a mother. And, for the love of sanity, let go of glamour and hold onto original.

| photo credit Prawny via Pixabay |