Motherhood and You

Motherhood is all consuming, a never-ending cycle of care, but don’t let it consume you. Don’t simply become “mom”, don’t lose yourself, who you are, in caring for your children. Don’t cling to them as they start to grow up and grow away. Being a mom may be the most important hat you wear, or title you receive, (however you want to think of that), but it is not solely who/what you are.

All too often, starting almost immediately after birth, we become consumed by being a mom. By taking care of a little human being that depends solely on us for EVERYTHING (daunting, so daunting), by trying to be everything for this little being, and all too often we lose who we are in the process. We become so wrapped up in that “mom” role that we don’t take care of ourselves (a post for another day), we don’t take care of our significant other, we don’t take care of our friendships.

These things start to fall to the wayside, and it isn’t until we are a couple years in (or longer for some) that we realize that we don’t know who we are anymore. We have become a mom, the greatest blessing of all, but we’ve lost who we are in the process.

This is a normal thing that just about everyone experiences to varying levels. That isn’t to say that we can’t get back to who we are, or avoid this entirely, I’m just saying that this is a normal thing to go through. In fact, even the most prepared parents (the ones who swear that parenthood won’t change them) go through a level of this. It’s a natural instinct when we have a child that our world changes to revolve around this baby and it’s a very sweet time in our lives (postpartum depression/anxiety/and other issues aside). That doesn’t mean that it lasts forever. Our children will grow, they will mature, they will become independent and need us as parents less and less. That change is why it is important not to lose who you are when you become a parent.

How do we handle this? How do we allow motherhood/parenthood to take over our lives, and still maintain who we are?

Little things. What do you like to do in your free time? What did you like to do before you became a parent to relax?

Did you like to exercise? Find a gym that has childcare. Have your significant other take over the parenting duties for a few hours while you hit up a workout.

Did you like to read, write, watch TV, YouTube, etc.? Great! Naptime and after Bedtime are great opportunities to do these! (In fact, I squeeze a lot of my reading time during naptime and after the kids go to bed).

Did you like to shop or explore new areas? Perfect, you can do that with baby OR if you want baby free time, have your significant other or family watch the baby while you get a little break.

The main takeaway from this is not to have time away from your child, although that is needed too, but to find time within your day to do what works for YOU. What makes YOU happy. So much of motherhood is spent tending to others (and not just your own children, being a mom turns you into everyone’s mom) and it is easy to lose ourselves in that. So so easy to be swept away taking care of everyone and everything else.

If that is what fills you up and makes you happy, perfect! Do more of that. BUT don’t forget to take a little breath for yourself.

Big things. Find time for you and your significant other to have a little time together at the very least once a month. Take care of that relationship or it will fall to the wayside. Check in with each other throughout the day, send that sweet little text. Have a moment while the baby is napping. Hire a babysitter when baby is a little older to get much needed date nights in (no matter what those actually look like).

Everyone says that one day your children will go up and leave and then what will be left is you and your significant other. This is true, but what is more important is the example that you are setting for your children. From the get-go, our children learn from us. They see what a stable relationship and family looks like from us, so water your own marriage and your children will see how to water their own (when that time comes).

Make sure that you and your spouse are on the same page as situations arise so that you can be a cohesive unit. Parenthood can help your marriage thrive and grow into new heights, or it can fall to the wayside. More than likely it will ebb and flow between both (again, completely natural), but the continual watering will help everything stay on a balance to continue to go towards success and happiness.

Ultimately, motherhood is a phase of life. For those of us who are mom’s (in any form) it is an all-encompassing blessing. It never ends and takes a lot of who we are. BUT it doesn’t have to be solely who we are. We were somebody before we were “mom” and while being mom takes precedence, don’t say goodbye to who you are. She is still there, and she should be able to shine as well.

Hotel Living With Two Toddlers

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about something that I’ve referenced before, but felt deserved it’s own blog post and that is living in a hotel with two {very active} toddlers.

One of the things that we knew ahead of our move was that we were going to be in a hotel for quite some time. This wasn’t a breaker for us, just something that we tried to prepare for ahead of time as best we can. Knowledge is power and preparation is key for this type of situation. We weren’t really able to prepare the boys though and honestly we didn’t know what we were actually walking into with our room set up.

I’ll start by saying that we are lucky. At this point we actually have a little one bedroom/one bath apartment style set up, with separate living room and bedroom areas. This allows us to have our own “space” separate from everything else when we need a little breather (which does happen). I don’t want to trivialize what this has been like at this point, but I do feel like it is important to acknowledge that we have had a better option than some of the other families.

We have two very active, very loud little boys. They love to run, wrestle, and create as much noise as possible. We’ve never had a problem with this and have generally let them explore and create and play as they want to (realistically, within reason so no one gets hurt or anything). They thrive on being able to have the room to run in circles or sing a song or heck, even just play with their own toys.

We packed several of their toys in their luggage and have purchased a couple of items, but the vast majority of their toys are still in transit with the rest of our household goods and we wont get any of them until we get a house. So they get a little bored playing with the same games and toys (which I realize may make them sound incredibly spoiled which they are not, but boredom is a factor at times here).

I think the hardest thing for the boys has been that they can’t just play as they please. We are trying very hard to keep our noise level down as best we can (considering we are at the top floor of our little building) and while I know that at times kids will just kids and others will be understanding, I also want to be understanding towards them. I know that not everyone wants to hear the pitter patter (or elephant thuds) of feet across their ceiling during the day. When they will, I encourage the boys to sit and draw/color, read a book (sort of), or watch a movie/tv show that they like to watch. They do get to wander around and be active, just in a quieter way.

The biggest help has been getting out as much as we can. We try to leave the apartment 3-4 weekdays in the mornings, whether its just going to a café or shops or going to a play group, and then we are out and about on the weekends. I try to leave one day to have a cosy day at home just to break up all the out and about stuff and to give them a bit of a break. I find that by doing this, they aren’t as “hyped up” on the days that we are in the hotel apartment and are more likely to take it easy.

Our boys are quite resilient and aside from a few rough days here and there have been doing remarkably well, but it’s not all sunshine and daisies. They do fight (A LOT), we do run into issues of noise (although most of that is just us being extra aware that we share walls) and sleep and there have been a couple of moments that we have just needed a little 10 minute break. I’m not going to lie and say that I haven’t just wanted to scream at moments. It hasn’t been “easy”, but with everything that we are experiencing, the memories that we are making, and this opportunity that we’ve been given has made it all worthwhile.

Friday Morning Cups – A Two for One

IMG_9865.jpgI’ve been talking and listening to a lot of people lately (both in person and online) and I’ve been hearing two different things: 1) Complaints about location, living in a hotel, how small the area is, how spread apart everything is, etc. and 2) How positive I am about the whole situation, that they don’t see that a lot and how great that is. 

▫️

Here’s the deal. Life in general is what you make of it. Situations arise, things happen, life doesn’t go according to all of your dreams, there will always be something. It happens to all of us. The difference from one person to another is what you make of it. How you handle the highs and lows. What outlook you choose to adopt. 

▫️

Does living in a hotel apartment suck at times? Sure! Of course it does. Does it suck for my kids to be confined to one room at times? Yes. (We also have a pretty good set up, I’ve seen a couple of the other apartments in our building- doesn’t change the overall sentiment). 

▫️

I could name all the things, but honestly it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I CHOOSE to handle this new situation. I am CHOOSING to look at the bright side. I am CHOOSING to look at the wealth of options and good things that we do have. There is SO MUCH good right now, that while the bad can be bad at times it doesn’t affect our overall positive outlook. ▫️

I fully believe that THIS, this seemingly mundane thing, has made all the difference in our whole move and transition. 

▫️

What is your outlook? I challenge you to find the good. Focus on the good. Smile. 

We’ve all got one of those pictures. The one that just “didn’t work out”. The first picture is one of those pictures. I had Andrew who just wanted to be held, Colton who wanted to run wild and free, and me who just wanted one picture with both boys. The funny thing is I almost prefer this picture to our “perfect” picture (swipe to see the perfect one). This first picture shows the particular moment in time. The imperfections that makes our family perfect. Life is not perfect, our family is not perfect, but we are us and both of these pictures represent us. I look at this picture and I laugh. I see my children loved and happy just having a fun time. I laugh at my own “over it” look (and I do very much remember that feeling). Those memories are more important than having that perfect picture. Reality is always better than perfection. 

My #1 Piece of Advice

Whenever I have a conversation with someone who is just starting something, whether it be motherhood, a new job, marriage, whatever, inevitably the conversation goes somewhere towards advice. I get this a lot when I talk with other expectant moms or engaged couples. Big life changes can be daunting and sometimes it helps to talk to someone else who has been through it (and sometimes it doesn’t, I get it either way).

While I try not to offer unsolicited advice (I remember how much I hate that myself), if I get asked for any tips this is ALWAYS my go to answer:

“Be open to the idea that NOTHING is going to go the way you have it planned out”

Yep, Type A, planner/organized/list maker me just said that. This one piece of advice is the one piece that I feel like everyone tap dances around, but never just comes out and says it. It can be applied to any situation and is both blunt/honest and yet kind. It’s the best piece of advice I ever heard and it is the single most true thing anyone has ever said about life.

We can try and plan things out, set goals, and map out the direction our life will take. I would hazard a guess that our lives end up going that path 75% of the time. Life throws curveballs all the time: that dream promotion went to someone else, relationships come to an end, pregnancy is not the dream that we thought it would be, the list goes on and on.

When we get those curveballs, we fall into two categories:

Category 1: We freak out and try to resist wherever it is that we are being pulled in order to stay on track with our perfect life plan. We desperately cling to our plans/lists/goals and crumble at the curveball that has just been thrown. A good amount of us end up staying in this category, unsure of how to pull ourselves out and get back to where we want to be.

Category 2: We roll with the punches and try to adjust our plans and goals around whatever the curve ball may be. These are the people who are taking the advice given above and putting it into action. They are the ones who seem to always have their stuff together and always seem to getting places.

I’m not saying that we can’t dwell or process the curveball when it is thrown our way. Absolutely in some cases we will need to process and deal. The difference is that if we make our goals and plans knowing that they may shift and change as life moves forward, then we can continue on after we’ve processed the curveball. When we make our life plans, if they are made with this knowledge, then we can bounce around the curveballs (and maybe hit a few of our own) with ease. Knowing that we will get to where we are meant to be.

So, whether you are engaged, an expectant mother, a soon to be graduate, or looking at a major life change, just keep in mind that things may not go according to your plan. Welcome those curveballs and keep moving forward with your life.

A Raw Moment In Motherhood

This isn’t “fed is best” or “breast is better”. This isn’t a Postpartum Depression post. I touch on both of those in this post, and they may be something I touch on in the future, but for now I just want to be open about what I experienced as a new mom in the hopes that sharing my story will help others who have been through this and also help me feel a bit of closure about it.

When we got pregnant with our first, I wanted to breast feed. There wasn’t even a thought or discussion of doing anything else. It was just a decision. Breastfeeding and then pumping a bit her and there for my husband to do a bottle or if I needed a break.

I was so sure about breastfeeding the thought that I would not physically be able to had never even crossed my mind. Our bodies are truly something incredible with the abilities that are built in when it comes to our children.  I had grown this little child from a small seed to a full baby (all 41 one weeks of my pregnancy) and I felt so strong in my own body and it’s capabilities.

We first started to see problems when he was about 2 weeks old. Our sweet easy going newborn became different. He just didn’t seem to “fill up” with a full belly. I would nurse him for what seemed like a long time, both sides, just for him to be hungry an hour or so later. It just seemed like we were struggling. I knew that part of this was part of a growth spurt (after hours of online searching) and tried to go with it for about a week.

At the tale end of 3 weeks old (on the cusp of 4 weeks), I decided offhand to go ahead and just try and pump and give him a bottle of pumped breastmilk. I was exhausted and somewhere deep down just knew that something wasn’t right. The moment I started pumping, I knew. It became even clearer after the first 2 or 3 pumping sessions. I should have been producing more. I knew that pumping wasn’t ideal for getting milk out (thank you google), but after going back and forth with breast and pumping, I also knew that there was no way he was getting much more the natural way either.

***Now, let me clarify something before everyone jumps in with comments. I tried EVERYTHING. I took every supplement, herb, tea, diet plan, anything that I read could even have a smidge of helping us out. I researched the hell out of breast feeding, pumping, power pumping, increasing supply, etc. You name it, I tried it. I’ll get into that in a minute, but we will just say I pushed beyond what I should have pushed to make this work. Again, this post is NOT ABOUT THAT.***

I cannot even begin to put into words the feeling that comes with the knowledge that your body is failing you at something. Something that you should be able to do, that is built into our bodies and you cannot do it. Very rarely am I at this loss for words and on this, this I have no words.

This alone feeling was different from the times I felt it before (with my abuse and trauma). There wasn’t anyone that I felt like I could talk to about it, that would really actually understand how I FELT rather than just say why don’t you do this, or this will help (which honestly doesn’t help when you have a woman on the verge of tears at every second), or the worst, this is obviously not working for you. I felt so so alone, like I was fighting a very solo battle.

***I did have a very strong support group in my husband and our family, but nothing can replace the feeling of having just ONE person say, “hey I’ve been there. I know how you feel”. ***

It was a never ending, physically and mentally painful experience. It is something no one prepares you for. Something no one even thinks to talk about. Something those going through it don’t know who they can talk to about it.

I pushed my body past its breaking point, in both a physical and mental state. I was doing everything I could to pump any bit that I could do, while simultaneously trying to balance my infant, work, home and myself. I beat myself up over and over wondering why. Why was my body letting me down. Why was this the one thing I could not do. I had seen all those posts of those moms who had breastfed so easily, you see them more than anything else, why was I struggling?

I finally switched over to formula for him at 3 months. I was broken. I felt like I was constantly fighting. Fighting my own body, fighting my own mind (hello Postpartum Depression), and I was tired. I felt like I had failed my child, failed my family, failed myself. It took me a full year to feel better. To know that even though I couldn’t do this one thing didn’t mean that I failed. It didn’t mean anything less for my children. Didn’t lessen me as a person or a mother.

And it doesn’t lessen you either. Motherhood is a beautiful time of trials (physically and mentally), of taking care of yourself and your new child, of blessings, of new adventures. No matter how we are doing this, what our bodies can do is incredible. What we can do is incredible. Don’t be afraid to let go of what you thought motherhood was going to be and embrace what it is. I wish I had done that earlier on in our first year of parenting.

 

Friday Morning Cups

This picture may seem simple. May seem harmless. Just a book and a cup of tea. Nothing more to see, right? Wrong. Now I don’t expect you to infer what I am about to say, nobody could just from this picture. But that is why I’m saying it. That is why it’s just a simple picture, with a much more powerful caption. Often times this isn’t something that is spoken about beyond the “shtick” that many moms have started to claim. There is nothing wrong with that, but it can be a dangerous line between what is normal and a funny “just a mom thing” and what is needing a little more attention

☕️

Here sits my now cold cup of tea untouched along with my unopened book (that I started a night or two ago and haven’t touched since). If you know me, you know that either of these things being untouched is unheard of. Instead, I have been sitting here in my chair, staring out the window, utterly spent. Trying to recoup what little I have left.

☕️

Motherhood is the most incredible gift that I have ever experienced but it is also a uniquely exhausting and trying time. It is a constant, overwhelming, role and there comes a time (for all of us), when we are just spent. When we have nothing left. When the simplest of things (like drinking a cup of tea or reading) can just sit for hours without being touched. We are not good at asking for help, we are not good at saying that we are overwhelmed, we just keep trying to hold everything together, while seemingly pulling our own selves apart. There is a level of exhaustion that is normal and then there is a level where you may need to talk to someone or need to ask for help.

☕️

Don’t do what I did for a long time. Don’t try and hide how you’re feeling, or pretend like you’ve got it all together. Don’t always put yourself last. Every once in a while (preferably before you feel that last fraying string snap), tell someone. Reach out. Say I need a minute, 5 minutes, an hour (he’ll be ambitious and go for a couple hours if you can). You’ll be better for it. Your spouse will be better for it. Your children will be better for it.

A Mother’s Take on Toddlerhood (While In The Thick of It)

As of writing this post, our boys are aged 2 months shy of 3 years old and 16 months. So, right smack in the middle of what Toddlerhood is. While each age comes with unique challenges, I think toddlerhood can sometimes get an especially bad rep. When you hear from other parents talking about their experience, I’ve heard toddler and teenage years can be some of the hardest years. Personally, I think toddlerhood is just very mis understood. Not in a bad way, it can be so hard for us to understand as it has been years since we went through it and we don’t remember it. I think this may have been one of the most important shifts in thinking when it comes to parenting.

***I’ve touched slightly on an outline of what I will be saying, which can be viewed HERE***

As parents when our kids are acting out, misbehaving, throwing temper tantrum after temper tantrum, it is very easy to become flustered. Happens to the best of us, and it is completely normal to just want to throw your hands in the air and walk away. AND sometimes that is the best thing to do. Sometimes that can be the key to diffusing whatever the situation is.  It can be easy to lose our patience as we ask for the toys to be picked up for the fourteenth time, or to not play with the food, or to not touch something. It can be so draining to feel like you are just repeating yourself with no action or apparent listening. I think this is why people say toddler hood is tough.

And it is.I am not disputing the fact that parenting one toddler, let alone two, or three is tough. It is draining. (Make sure that you take care of yourself during this time, otherwise everything I say after this point will not work)

BUT(gotta love those buts right?!)…

If we think it is hard on us as parents, think about how hard it is on our children. They are being thrust into a whole new level of mental development, they are growing physically, they are trying to figure out how to navigate the world that just seems to be getting bigger and scarier. They are trying to figure out what are boundary lines, what they can and can’t do. How to articulate their feelings, hell what they are feeling. They are working on developing better communication skills and most of the time are bursting with things to say, things to do, places to see, parents/grandparents/relatives/friends to remember. ALL AT THE AGE OF 2.

Can you blame them for getting frustrated with not being able to say something, or talk about something that they really want to tell you, but they just don’t have all the words? Can you blame them when all they want to do is find the toy that they hid from themselves in a game? Or try to put the train tracks together a certain way and it’s just not working?

Imagine feeling angry about something, not being able to understand first that you are feeling angry and then second how to tell someone what you are feeling angry about? That is frustrating. Then imagine, as you are getting frustrated and angry, you see your parent, loved one, person you look up to, start to get frustrated. It escalates quickly (and again, it happens to all of us from time to time, no doubt about it).

Our children get thrust into this world and it is our responsibility as parents to help them, to guide them, as they learn. We cannot do that if we don’t at least try to understand what they must be going through. What we see as well, he’s angry about x, y, or z, is not what they see. They just have all of these things building up inside with no way to let them out. We only know that because we’ve learned that as we’ve grown up.

So, before you talk about the terrible two’s or the threenagers, try and think about what your children are experiencing. Sure, parenting is hard work. It is tough and draining. BUT think about what it is like through your child’s eyes, without having all of the knowledge that we as parents (or adults) now have.