I Was Scared to Become a MOM

When I found out I was pregnant I had a major identity crisis. I feared becoming a single label: “mom.” It seemed like that mom life would be the only life I’d get to live.

I was so upset by that. I didn’t want to lose myself or sacrifice the person I was. I didn’t want to be so consumed with my daughter that I was no longer the wife / friend / employee / person I was before…

And that fear caused a problem. It took a while to enjoy my pregnancy. I wanted to be pregnant, but I didn’t know how to connect with what was happening. I adjust to new people and new experiences slowly. It felt weird and distant. M was born and the weirdness didn’t instantly go away- although it changed.

After sorting out my ppd and taking care of my health, I had the realization that M was mine. Everything she did and all her care was my job- I didn’t have to seek approval or validation for my actions from anyone (in tandem with K, of course). And that didn’t scare me at all- I started feeling more comfortable referring to her as my daughter.

Truthfully, I’ve only just starting thinking of myself as a mom. Maybe Mother’s Day helped a little? I resisted the all-consuming title for a long time… even though I was, by definition, A MOM. I admire other moms, I wanted to have a kid from the start, I look up to so many amazing mothers out there. It’s not the fear of being old or having that soccer-mom-mini van-driving,-lob haircut-vibe…….. it’s just the uncomfortableness of a new and limiting name.

When I announced I was pregnant the MOM CLUB showed up in full force and I felt like such a phony. People offered me clothes, toys, meals, advice, their kitchen sinks, etc. It felt weird… It felt fake to be accepted just because I was now “one of them.” I truthfully hated the idea of it… but secretly loved the support and help.

(I realize now that being a parent is tough and the so-called MOM CLUB is actually just women who have been there/done that/are still in trenches who want to help someone else that’s wandered into this war zone of untold horrors and blessings. Lol.)

A lovely blog friend shared with me that she felt very distant from her pregnancy, too, and only connected with her daughter once she was born. Another blog friend told me that the “instabond” moms have with their babies is sometimes a myth and for good reason. It makes SENSE that getting to know your baby and bonding would take time. They are a person after all- someone with their own wants and needs and likes and dislikes and personality and feelings. It’s a relationship that takes a little time.

M is five months old now and I love love love being her mom. Having a child didn’t make me love kids. I’ve never been a big kid person. But now that I’ve gotten to know my baby I am sure that I was meant to be her mother. No regrets, no hesitation, no second thoughts. I live for the day she calls me “mom.”

And life was unclear at first with a new human in the mix. Our days and priorities have changed accordingly… but I’ve found that deep down, I haven’t. I might be a little more distracted and usually covered in spit up, but I have a good relationship with my husband, I try to support and love my friends as much as I always have, and I still enjoy and excel at my job- although I work less days and sometimes long to be home with M when I’m in my office. I read a little less but I’m still a reader. I blog a little less but I’m still a blogger. I’m still a type-a perfectionist but things are a little more lax around here. I’m still me. I’m just a mom, too. And I think I had to go through that stage of insecurity to fully and gratefully accept this role.

This feels like a raw confession of sorts. I’ve never not loved M… I just didn’t know how to serve her and stay true to me. And I feel happy that we’ve figured this out a.k.a. I’ve realized the joy and fulfillment I have in being HER mom.

It’s tough to struggle with your identity. Whether it’s a job or a hobby or a label… it’s weird and uncomfortable to be sorted into a category by default. I feel lucky that I’ve ended up enjoying this new role. I’m embarrassed by how much I doubted myself, but thankful for those who built me up and helped me transition into motherhood. I don’t take the people in my corner for granted and I will teach M how important “our people” are- not least of all her incredible dad.

If you’re struggling with something big, reach out for help. Someone to talk to, an outlet to share your frustrations, prescribed medication to stabilize your mental health. It’s important. Your quality of life matters- don’t dismiss it when something feels wrong. ♥

Wear the D@mn Shorts

This is a tale of self-confidence…

Last weekend we’d planned to spend some time with friends lakeside. The Friday before the trip I started brainstorming outfit ideas. I was thinking my cute swimsuit paired with my cut off high-waisted shorts.

‘But your thighs are so flabby and chunky. That’ll look terrible- all that cellulite and the scars. You should pick a different pair of shorts,’ I thought to myself.

Let’s pause my story and insert that I try very, very hard to encourage others to treat themselves kindly. It makes me mad when my mom nitpicks about herself or when my 10 year old cousin complains about her “fat” or when my friends are getting down on themselves.

“You aren’t fat, you have fat. Everyone does. It’s why you’re alive.”

“Don’t you dare talk badly about your arms/leg/tummy! That’s how you lift groceries or get from A to B or nourish your body!”

“You look great today! And who’s so important that you’d take their opinion over mine?!” 😉

Those are a few of my go-tos when it comes to encouragement.

But for whatever reason, that Friday afternoon I was hating my husky, pale, chicken-pox-scarred thighs. I’d like to say it was a fleeting thought, this discouraging self-talk, but it browbeat me into 30 minutes of outfit changes.

It’s funny… The internet is notorious for highlighting people’s “perfect lives.” That said, some of the most body-positive, encouraging, beautiful-inside-and-out people push their perfectly imperfect & totally embracing messages via social media (looking at you Lindsay, Aubrey, Chelsea, Dana, Christina). And I’m am 100% on board with that.

And yet I fall victim to my “zitty face” or “flabby tummy” or “chunky thighs.”

I’m usually extremely comfortable in my skin. My body is relatively healthy. I was given working limbs and organs. I am able to care for myself and others. Overall, I got very lucky with the skin I’m in. But we all have moments of weakness.

Fortunately, our moments of weakness happen at different times. When I’m feeling poorly, someone else is sending out positive vibes meant for me. So when you’re feeling badly, just know that someone is sending out those positive vibes for you, too. (Might I suggest any and all of those ladies up there! ☝️ )

I don’t think anyone is always positive and encouraging, but someone somewhere is always sending out some good vibes. So go seek it- it’s 100% meant for you. Someone loves you. They love your wide hips or your small shoulders or your pointed ears. Whatever features make you cringe in the mirror, I guarantee someone thinks nothing of it and loves you completely. And you should, too.

What I’m trying to say is: wear the damn cutoff shorts, my friends. ☀️

You Are Smart! (ep. 2)

Last month I shared a post to remind you that you are great. This month I’m changing the message.

You are smart.

I struggle at least once a week with this. Why do people read faster than me? Why can’t I figure out the tip percentage? Why am I having such a tough time remembering that article I read? Struggling is all part of being human and your intelligence isn’t reflected in those moments. You’re here, reading these words, and that means your brain is working. You remember your manners and you think about how to reach out and spread kindness to friends and family members- that takes some smarts! We all misspell words and accidentally say, “You, too” when the gate agent tells us to enjoy our flight. Laugh it off, crack open a book, show yourself some grace, and bring some kindness and inspiration to the world with your thinking skills!

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Now it’s time to brag:
Tell me something that’s made you feel especially smart or wise in the last few days or weeks!!

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You Are Great! (ep.1)

Today I was going to go on a political rant, but then I decided not to. First of all, you can probably guess how I feel. But secondly- and more seriously- there is too much negativity floating around in my world (and probably yours), so today I’m filling this space with positivity. And on that note…

You are great.

You are a smart and capable human. I’m sure you’re facing some serious struggles right now, but you have so many people who love you! And you are going to do awesome things today, tomorrow, and in your lifetime. Don’t get tripped up on today’s problems- soon enough they’ll be old news. Put on your favorite shirt. Treat yourself to your favorite dessert. Put on some new, wacky nail polish. And never forget that your amazing eyes are reading these words and your amazing brain is processing this paragraph and that’s so incredible- You’re an incredible person!

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This is going to be a monthly thing; we could all use a monthly pep talk. When you need the refresher, check back here to remind yourself how absolutely great you are! (And come back for a new awesome message in September!)

Now it’s time to brag:
Tell me something great that you have done or that has happened for you lately!!

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The Way We Talk to Kids

Today I need to talk about something that has nothing to do with me right now… but someday it will.

I feel so, so passionately about the way we speak to children. I think that our words make an incredible impact on the way they see themselves. If I’m ever blessed with a daughter I know that feminine compliments include words like beautiful, adorable, and cute.  I’m ok with these (and if she looks anything like my hubby then she will definitely be a cutie), but I need a few more words in her vocabulary. I want her to see herself as smart and adventurous and brave and determined. I want my kids to see”unique” as a positive trait. If I ever have a son I want him to know that “emotional” and “kind” are WONDERFUL things to be.

I got an email last week from a baby clothing store and this was part of the ad:

Baby Clothes

Typically I just scroll past these clothes (since my favorite Baby Elliot is only in 9mn outfits), but I found myself stuck on this ad.

Why, why, why do the boys’ shirts say brave, explorer, extraordinary and the girls say NOTHING? Girls get to pick between flowers or lace. Whhhhhhhhy?!

I am a feminist, but this is not a feminist post. This is my future mom-self thinking how much I LOVE that yellow/tan shirt and how I’d buy it for a daughter, but I would never put her in that floral jumpsuit thing-y. It’s a cute romper, but I want my daughter to have a choice between t-shirt or blouse, skirt or cargo shorts… This ad doesn’t give her a choice.

(I know that this ad is directed at parents, not kids, but come on… Not ONE adventurous shirt for the ladies.)

Let it be known right now: If I am ever pregnant with a daughter feel free to buy her whatever outfits you’d like, but please don’t shy away from blues, greens, and boy-associated ensembles. (I mean, if it says “Daddy & Son” probably leave it on the rack, but I’m good with trucks and bugs.)

Ok… on to the next point.

I’ve mentioned it before (like during the holidays), but I have a part time job at a kids’ clothing store. (No, it’s not the same one that sent me the email.) I took a few months off-ish, but I really like working there so I’m back to floor sales now.

While I was working last week a mom and daughter- maybe 10 or 12 years old- came in to browse. The mother was very put together and stylish, but the daughter was a typical kid: messy rained-on hair, athletic shorts, and a colorful tank top. I noticed that the daughter’s hair was just past her shoulders and curled into little spirals at the bottom. Yes, it was a little frizzy from the Ohio humidity, but that’s the nature of curly hair.

I asked the little girl if her hair was naturally curly. She said yes and her mother rolled her eyes. I said I thought it was very pretty- she’s very lucky to have curly hair like that. Her mother, with a look of disgust, replied, “No, she’s not. It’s a pain.” The little girl thanked me and quietly followed her mom to another corner of the store. All I could do was stand there and glare at the back of the mother’s head.

Why, why, why would you tell your impressionable child that her hair is “not good”?? She will go her entire life looking at magazines and television commercials of skinny, beautiful models with smooth, straight, flowy hair. As one curly-headed girl to another, let her have my compliment! (It took me +15 years to figure out how to manage my frizzy hair… now I love it.)

I know that 90% of the time it’s unintentional, but kids soak it up at least 90 % of the time.

Am I just being touchy or does that ad rub you the wrong way, too? Are you intentional in what you say to kids?

-Louise