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Autumndaize.

Where it started.

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This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or 

autumn daize part 1. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

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A little about me-I am the author after all. My name is Allyson, but most call me Ally, and this is my very first blog-go easy on me 😉

I bet your all wondering about the blog name, so I’ll explain-which should help give away my reason for starting this blog. Autumn is my favorite season for numerous reasons.  To name a few, leaf peeping, crisp air, pumpkins, Halloween, apple picking, my birthday, and when I conceived my beautiful son Jayden. Basically it’s the best season ever,  but I’m a bit bias.

The daize part, well daze was taken so I added the I, but otherwise daize (or daze for all you grammar police) is the perfect description of what my life has been the last 3 years. Hence the name of this blog. So much has happened that I figured it best to put words to paper-well internet paper to be exact. Hopefully my story, which is still being written,  will inspire, make you laugh, or just keep you from boredom.

Succumbing to the intense need to settle down and be a real adult, almost three years ago I started house hunting. In total the process took four months. Shortly before signing the paperwork, my boyfriend of eight years proposed. Talk about hectic. The next year was a whirlwind between being my best friend of nine years’ maid of honor, settling in our home, and planning my own wedding. If I took away one thing from this time it was to take time to enjoy your surroundings; the planning, relationships you build, the big day, everything.  It went by too fast.

Almost a year after I tied the knot, Jayden came along. I literally am just starting to breathe. Despite a terrible high risk pregnancy and a traumatic delivery,  in addition to bad PPD, three months have passed and I literally couldn’t be happier. Word of advice to expectant mommies-do not commit to a new job/promotion upon leave ending. Luckily I’m finally settling in but coming back from leave is hard enough, coming back from leave to a new job is almost impossible. I literally felt like I was trying to run up hill with 20 pound weights; I was so physically drained from training and so mentally overtired that I crashed hard.

I finally feel like I’m in a good spot with personal and professional life. My takeaway from my experiences of a new working mom are simple; Jayden won’t love me any less for supporting him. If anything he’ll love me more. I’m a badass supermom, and I’m living with no regrets.

Stay tuned.

Raising children among the “grey” scale in the 21st century.

I have been working on this article for quite some time, and decided to finally dive full force into it. I will warn you, if you have strong beliefs -that’s fine – but if you do not respect the beliefs of others’ whom are different from yours, scroll along-there is nothing for you here.

Before we start, I will briefly describe the grey scale in terms of raising a child in todays world – according to me.

To me, raising a child on the grey scale is raising them to not conform to societal requirements; I.e. raising them in a way which allows them to make their own decisions, and not make choices based on one view of society or another. This can be in terms of sexual preference, gender identity, or any other choices in life that they decide to make. This “grey” area I refer to is in between the common black and white areas – the this or that paradigm. Me raising Jayden on the grey scale means he can CHOOSE what he wants in regards to identity overall, rather than pushing him to the male or female-or black or white-identifiers.

Growing up, I was used to hearing the terms gay, straight, and bisexual. They were common and actually used quite frequently. I learned early on, certain individuals held stigmas to some of these terms, while others embraced and supported them.

I myself fell into two of these categories, and as much as my child and teen years were wonderful and I was supported by amazing parents, I never really had “that talk” about sexual preference-my own or others’ in general, or gender identity.

Back in those days, I had no idea what terms such as gender neutrality, transgender, or gender queer were. I was shielded by my own ignorance and lack of life experience. But, I was only a young teenager, so not knowing was ok, right?

Looking back, I wish I had known what these terms meant. Maybe I would not have judged others as much who identified according to them. I also wish I had known so I could, as an adult, have more knowledge to help me to decide how I wanted to raise my own children.

I am still unsure sometimes, 8 months post partum, how I want to raise Jayden in terms of this very controversial topic. He is, after all, too young to even make a choice on clothing, specifically. For now, I dress him in boyish – yet colorful – clothing .. simply because he can’t yet decide and until he can, I will dress him with the clothing that was bought for him.

I am the first to admit that I am still inexperienced with what some of these terms mean.

What I do know, is that I want Jayden to be raised to respect all choices in this realm, whether sexual or gender-related. I want him definitely to know that choices in life are not all black or white. There are many grey areas. I want him to not be associated with the typical male or typical female descriptions that society places on each sex.

For instance, in the eyes of our society, men are associated with terms such as strong, bold, brave, and powerful, while women are associated with terms such as soft, tender, sensitive, and warm. Jayden can be strong and soft at the same time. He can be bold and tender. He can be sensitive and powerful. These words should never be black or white-they can apply to anyone, of any gender.

In todays ever changing world, I don’t want Jayden to feel like he has to pick what he wants to wear or say based on his gender. I don’t want him to have to feel pressured to conform to the “he” or “she” pronouns because society wants him to. Whatever he does pick-by his own accord, whether it be he, she, or their-I want him to give respect to all individuals he encounters, and be respected by all whom encounter him.

I don’t want him to be shamed for playing with barbies. I don’t want him to be stared at in the grocery store for wearing a pink shirt or a headband. I want him to be comfortable in his body, in his cloths, and with his choices. If he choses to be identified as male, then that’s great, and if he choses to identify as their or she, then that’s great too!

I want him to choose what he wants-whether it be sports, activities, clothes, sexual preference, or gender identity.

At the end of the day, we don’t refer to each other as human-he or human-shewe are all human-no pronouns attached to that. We all deserve respect, whether straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or gender queer.

As HUMAN’s we have come a long way. We are more open to these gender and sexual preference choices. We are more open to learning about these terms. We are more open to interacting with those of all different races, sexes, and preferences.

But we still have a ways to go. Some are still conforming to societal stigmas that promote judgment, hate, and even violence.

Raising Jayden to make his own choices, and raising him to respect others’ choices is the best way – to me – to raise a child in the 21st century – and to avoid the judgment, hate, and violence we still encounter in this world every day.

But I also understand that each parent has their own view and ideas on how to raise their children-and I respect that as long as it is displayed in a peaceful manner.

Raise your child how YOU want to – but raise them to respect those who are different from them and those who make different choices then they do. The less judgment and stigma in this world, the more peace and love we can all bask in.

I decided as part of this article to poll several different mothers on their views on these topics. I was interested, for my own knowledge, and for some opinions in general, on these topics and how they would/will handle raising children in today’s world. Below are the questions and answers.

As a side note-prior to answering, I knew none of the mothers’ stances on the topics. I also chose mothers whom live inside and outside of the US, and of all different ages and religions, to allow for some diversity in terms of location, religion, and age.

I will preface the interviews by stating that prior to interviewing these lovely mothers, I did have some pre-conceived ideas on which age-religion-location would feel which way. This was based mainly on my lack of knowledge of these topics and opinions on them – after reading the interviews – my ideas completely changed.

  • For instance, I thought since the younger ages are exposed in recent years to a more diverse and open society, that they would support any sexual preference and gender choice.
  • I thought that the older ages would be more structured to support societal beliefs of a “black or white” lifestyle: male or female, gay or straight. Basically a “one or the other” opinion.
  • I thought that being more religious would mean more against the “grey” lifestyle and raising children that way as a result of religious teachings and beliefs.
  • I believed that those against allowing their children to choose for themselves their gender preference or sexual preference would not support them if they made choices opposite to their parents beliefs.

BOY WAS I WRONG.

The first mother I interviewed was a mother whom I have only known a short time. She admins a mom group on Facebook, so we often talk about issues revolving around motherhood. Her name is Camille Heather Martin, she is in her mid 20s, and she lives in Ontario, Canada.

Camille – and all the other interviewee’s answers – are listed in order below.

  1. As a mother in the 21st Century, how have you or how will you raise your child(ren)? Will you teach them that it is ok to make their own choices regarding sexual preference and gender identity? Why or why not?
  • “Well, I don’t believe it is a choice. And even if someone believed it was, it would still only be the individual’s to make. Not anyone else’s. Anything else would be a human rights violation. Both my husband and I are apart of the LGBTQ spectrum and we know what it means to be ashamed of who we are because of rejection, ridicule, and hatred. I know that there is no “fixing” something you cannot fix… there is only denial and self-loathing. Suppressing a child’s identity is neglect and abuse. Our jobs as parents is to provide fertile ground for which to sow the seeds of being good human beings, not to pick which type they will end up planting”.

2. How were you raised as a child? Did it help you decide how you wanted to raise your own child(ren)?

  • “I was raised with the golden rule of doing onto others as you would like them to do onto you. Yes, I believe we all try to model the good and learn from the bad”.

3. If your child came to you and asked if he or she could wear clothes of the opposite sex and do their hair like the opposite sex-what would your response be?

  • “Why are you asking for my permission? Do you, my love!

4. If you could say one thing about the societal stigmas regarding sexual preference and gender identity, what would it be?

  • “We fear that which we do not understand. Fear triggers a fight or flight response. We try to hide, ignore, or eradicate it out of fear and ignorance”.

The next mother I interviewed had a different outlook. Cheyenne Jenkinson lives in Nebraska, US and is in her early 20s. I met her on an online chat for women suffering from PPD/PPA.

1. As a mother in the 21st Century, how have you or how will you raise your child(ren)? Will you teach them that it is ok to make their own choices regarding sexual preference and gender identity? Why or why not?

  • “I plan on raising my child to be interested in the opposite sex. And, to love himself in how he was created. That is my belief. But, while it may be hard, I will support any decision he makes”.

2. How were you raised as a child? Did it help you decide how you wanted to raise your own child(ren)?

  • “I was raised by a single mother, with a very religious belief. I want my son to grow up the same way”.

3. If your child came to you and asked if he or she could wear clothes of the opposite sex and do their hair like the opposite sex-what would your response be?

  • “My response would probably be no. Simply because that’s not who he is. And, I want him to love himself”. 

4. If you could say one thing about the societal stigmas regarding sexual preference and gender identity, what would it be?

  • ” While I may not agree with others sexual preferences, I’m not gonna judge them for the choices they make on who to love”.

The third mother is actually someone I have known for years through my job. Though she would like to remain anonymous, she has allowed me to list her state-MA (US) and her approximate age -50s.

1. As a mother in the 21st Century, how have you or how will you raise your child(ren)? Will you teach them that it is ok to make their own choices regarding sexual preference and gender identity? Why or why not?

  • “I raise my children to be respectful of differences. That does not mean they always will be but they do a good job. My daughters do better with gender fluidity than my son. My kids will always be free to be who they are as far as gender and sexual preference”.

2. How were you raised as a child? Did it help you decide how you wanted to raise your own child(ren)?

  • I was raised in a world that was isolated. I did not know that it was isolated until I got to college. I grew up Irish Catholic and had never even met a Jewish person let a lone a gay person until I went to college. Not being exposed at a young age made me want to expose my kids at a younger age to differences and preferences”.

3. If your child came to you and asked if he or she could wear clothes of the opposite sex and do their hair like the opposite sex-what would your response be?

  • My response would be to look at the desire to where different clothes etc and break it down. Why do they feel they want to do this? Do they understand what impact it might have on them in school or with friends etc. If they are comfortable then I will support them”.

4. If you could say one thing about the societal stigmas regarding sexual preference and gender identity, what would it be?

  • We will learn from the generation that is coming up now as they are more tolerant and accepting of differences”.

The next mother, Rebecca Cone Bennett, I worked with as well. She lives in NH (US), and is in her early 40s.

1. As a mother in the 21st Century, how have you or how will you raise your child(ren)? Will you teach them that it is ok to make their own choices regarding sexual preference and gender identity? Why or why not?

  • “I teach my kids that who they are is always ok and that we are open to them exploring and being themselves regardless of how that looks. I think that sexual preference really isn’t a preference but a hardwired predisposition and believe that gender identity is also part of the genetic makeup even if the chromosomes say differently.”

2. How were you raised as a child? Did it help you decide how you wanted to raise your own child(ren)?

  • “I was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian household and was taught that being gay was wrong but at 18 I had a boyfriend who was raised by lesbian parents and I realized that their relationship was very similar to my parents in a lot of ways. I also had a friend soon after who was transgender and I came to my own conclusions as I realized how damaging and destructive the lack of parental support could be. My sister also came out as a lesbian later and it was easy to see it was more than a rebellion”.

3. If your child came to you and asked if he or she could wear clothes of the opposite sex and do their hair like the opposite sex-what would your response be?

  • “If my child came to me and wanted to wear clothing and hair of the opposite sex I would be fine with it but would also prepare them for what the reactions of their peers might be”.

4. If you could say one thing about the societal stigmas regarding sexual preference and gender identity, what would it be?

  • I think that the stigmas around LGTBQ kids are dangerous and offensive. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in young adults and is much higher for teens who are LGTBQ and I feel that lack of parental and peer acceptance weighs heavily on that statistic. I feel that love and unconditional support of your child (regardless of whether you think it is a phase or “real”) reduces the likelihood of suicide, increased mental health issues and trauma and strengthens family bonds“.

Daphne, the next mom, I actually went to school with. We did not chat much during our teen years, but lately we have a few times and I loved reading her views! She is in her mid 20s and from NH.

1. As a mother in the 21st Century, how have you or how will you raise your child(ren)? Will you teach them that it is ok to make their own choices regarding sexual preference and gender identity? Why or why not?

  • As a mother in the 21st century I feel like it’s more important than ever to raise your child to be kind and understanding of others. For me, something I feel is important is the belief in a higher power and that at the end of the day there is something out there greater than yourself. As a mother my greatest hope for my children is that they remember love and kindness is the answer to a lot of the problems they may face”.

2. How were you raised as a child? Did it help you decide how you wanted to raise your own child(ren)?

  • “I will encourage my children to be who they are, I don’t believe sexuality is a choice that we make but rather a choice that was made for us long before we knew of what sexuality even was. I hope to raise my children with enough love and courage that they will have the confidence to follow their own path and love endlessly as well as selflessly, the gender of who they love will have no effect on me as a parent but how they love, that will be something I will take pride in. My upbringing was a lot different than the way I raise my own, but I do believe my parents did the best they could”.

3. If your child came to you and asked if he or she could wear clothes of the opposite sex and do their hair like the opposite sex-what would your response be?

  • If my child came to me and asked to wear clothes of the opposite sex I would be okay with it. I think society has a way of telling us who we are expected to be from the moment we are put on this earth, such as, boys wear blue and like trucks while girls wear pink and like dolls. This is stressful for kids and from day one we are telling them you like what you are told and not what speaks to you as a human being. I can honestly say that the one goal and dream that I have as a mother is that my children are not only happy and loved but also confident and free. If we put our kids in a bubble of expectation from the day they are born they will never fit the bill, we are ultimately setting most up for failure. I want my children to find their own way (with me cheering them on of course)”.

4. If you could say one thing about the societal stigmas regarding sexual preference and gender identity, what would it be?

  • As a woman and mother who is also gay I can say that there is nothing easy about straying away from societies norms to be who you were truly meant to be. Yet, the fulfillment and the happiness that comes from it, the feeling of drawing back the curtains and finally being out of the dark- that’s what I want for my children. I don’t want them to ever feel alone or scared. I think society has come a long way even just in my lifetime, we are more versatile and adaptable, more welcoming and understanding. I hope that continues to trend up and we see each other as the people we truly are as opposed to some societal outcast”.

Rory Carter – I met years ago through our passion for equines. She is in her mid 20s and lives in NH (US). She is an inspiration to me, and though we don’t talk much-I will admit openly I follow her life, and rescue sanctuary for animals-online 😉

1.As a mother in the 21st Century, how have you or how will you raise your child(ren)? Will you teach them that it is ok to make their own choices regarding sexual preference and gender identity? Why or why not?

  • “I have raised my three year old daughter with a very open, accepting approach. There are no such thing as “boy” and “girl” toys, clothes, games, etc. in our house. Whatever she likes she likes. We don’t make a big deal about it at all, she’s just free to be who she is. Some days she asks me if I think she’s handsome and I tell her she’s the most handsome person I’ve ever met!”

2. How were you raised as a child? Did it help you decide how you wanted to raise your own child(ren)?

  • “I was also raised very openly. Religion, clothing choice, music, etc. was never forced on me as a child. I was allowed to develop into an individual, and I’ve always wanted to do that as a mother”.

3. If your child came to you and asked if he or she could wear clothes of the opposite sex and do their hair like the opposite sex-what would your response be?

  • “I would tell her it’s her hair and clothing, she’s free to make that decision. As long as it’s age appropriate of course!”

4. If you could say one thing about the societal stigmas regarding sexual preference and gender identity, what would it be?

After reading these answers, I have learned so much!

First, never assume-just because in the past things have been a certain way doesn’t mean they cannot change. Not only was I wrong about certain ages and religions feeling a certain way, but I was wrong in general to assume this. These interviews have definitely opened my eyes that ANY age can FEEL any way and BELIEVE any thing.

Second, a trending thought seemed to be that if a child chose to dress or identify opposite to their birth sex, or chose to love the same-sex, that the mothers would ensure they discussed with them what may happen in terms of opinions or actions of others regarding their choices/lifestyles (i.e. potential bullying, isolation, etc.). I think this is EXTREMELY important. Having this conversation could avoid a potential self harm situation, depression, or social anxiety or self isolation. If children are spoken to about this in advance, they may be able to ignore or appropriately respond to any potential bullying or isolation right away and live a much happier life.

Thirdly, I respect and understand the differing opinions on gender identity and sexual preference as not being a choice as much as a predetermination from birth. I understand both sides, and to a point agree with both. I am bisexual. I do not remember one day waking up and deciding, hey-I like girls. It just happened. To me, this was more of a predetermined aspect of my sexuality versus a choice I made. But I also believe at the same time that some of these areas of discussion can be choices and that we should encourage our children to be confident about any choices they make and support them regardless of those choices. I guess I love being grey 😉

 

Lastly, Though all four mothers’ opinions on the topics differed-and my own did as well, we all had one general similarity – that we believe in a judgment free lifestyle, and will support our children despite the choices they make. This is KEY in creating a judgment and stigma free society that promotes peaceful interaction, diversity, openness, and love.

Four easy to make – low cost – salad dinners for the busy mom or dad.

I LOVE salad, but traditional salads for a dinner meal doesn’t always fill me up. These 4 meals below will be sure to fill up everyone at the dinner table AND are healthy too! **Please note, the names are TOTALLY made up by me ;)**

#1-the nutty professor

I titled this this way because it was a TOTAL experiment-gone right!

Items to buy:

-two bags of Batavia Lettuce

-1/2 a head of iceberg lettuce

-1 bag of walnuts  – diced

-1 bag of pecans – diced

-3 clementine’s – cut into 4s

-1 apple, shredded

-2 medium tomato’s – diced

-Chicken slices marinated in Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing and grilled

-Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

*Mix all together and enjoy a sweet treat! The flavors are to die for, the salad is fun and festive with all different colors and shapes, and the meal is filling and healthy!

#2-Ranchero delight

Ranchero delight is a taste of Mexican food-without leaving your house!

Items to buy:

-1 full head of ice burg lettuce

-1 bag of kale, 1 bag of Batavia Lettuce (should only need to use half of each)

-1 bag of white rice (use 1-2 cups depending on size)

-Ranch dressing: or for even more fun-make your own (ingredients below) by blending the below together:

  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • dash of salt

-Monterey jack shredded cheese (cups depend on how many are eating-3 cups for 4 eating, 2 for 3, and so on).

-Pinto beans (marinate for 30 minutes on low in the dressing before mixing in)

-3 hard taco shells-use a “kitchen hammer” as I call it to shred these to sprinkle on top

-Squirt of lemon juice (after all mixed together)

-2 cups of ground turkey – mixed in

-2 cups of corn

-Sprinkle of pepper

 

#3-The old timer, Caesar

Classic and beautiful, this “old timer” is sure to fill you up, while reminding you that simple is sometimes smarter. We all have those busy days where we just need to throw some dinner together. Here is a simple meal that will help on those busy days!

-2 bags of romaine lettuce

-Caesar salad dressing-squirt lemon to give a little zing

-Shredded feta cheese

-Croutons

-3 eggs hardboiled and diced to add flavor

-Grilled chicken

#4-Who said spinach wasn’t yummy??

Never a lover of spinach myself, this salad changed my outlook. With lots of flavors and colors, it is an exciting and healthy treat!

-Diced strawberries (2 cups or dependent on size of meal)

-Full blueberries (2 cups or dependent on size of meal)

-Spinach (1 bag)

-2 cucumbers, diced and marinated in strawberry vinaigrette dressing for 10 minutes and then steamed on low for 5.

-3 hardboiled eggs, shredded or on the side

-Light sprinkle of strawberry vinaigrette

 

 

Healthy – and happy – eating!

This whole motherhood thing looked so easy.. (*Warning-some cussing*)

Until I did it.

I thought it was going to be as simple as giving my kid good night kisses and doing a night time story time. Easy peasy, right?

See, during my teen and adult years, I wasn’t privy to what motherhood really was. How intense it would be. How emotionally and physically draining it would be.

It didn’t show me the gross sides, the sad sides, or the frustrated sides of being a mother.

I didn’t really appreciate how hard being a mother was until I became one.

The diapers. They seemed so easy to deal with when I babysat, or when friends had children. Changing a blowout myself for the first time was THE GROSSEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. Especially since – TMI – my finger got involved as well if you know what I mean.

And don’t let me forget baby gas. Sometimes, I feel like Jayden’s gas is worse than hubbys, and his is rancid. Forget candles, forget that smelly spray. Some of the smells are grounds for evacuation.

The bottle prep? Seemed so simple. But this too is not. Try making a bottle when your 8 month old is screaming loud enough to hear outside your house because he wants a bottle.

The clothing is a whole other ball game. You may be able to prepare and get used to the colder temps and warmer temps, but dressing a baby in -10 degree weather is NOT something I prepared for. Is he wearing too much? Too little? No idea. Might as well never leave my house at this point.

Jayden isn’t even mobile yet and some days I feel like I am drowning in poop, formula, and spit up. Literally, I think there was one day recently (unless I dreamed it, and lets be honest that is totally possible with the exhaustion) that I changed cloths 3 or 4 times because I became a human rag for him.

Don’t even get me started on sicknesses. This kid has been sick more times than I can count. Currently he is on an inhaler. He isn’t even in a full daycare. I have his pediatrician on speed dial for “the next” illness.

Who knew it cost money to have a baby? I mean I did, but I didn’t realize I would still be paying off my birth. 8 months later.

And who knew babies cost so much money? Shit is obnoxious. 30 bucks twice a week to feed my kid? Unreal. 10 bucks for wipes? Really? I figured hand me downs and buying in advance during pregnancy would help. I mean it has, but those wipes that I bought in advance (like 100 packs) are long gone. I don’t even remember using that many. Hand me downs are great, till you move up a size and need more cloths. These kids grow too fast!

And working and mothering-Gosh, that’s possibly the hardest goddamn thing yet. Coming home completely exhausted and wanting to nap is not possible with an 8 month old. I cant even function 90% of the time I get home late. I find myself moving things around and not finding them for days because I am on robot mode. I don’t even recall sometimes if I ate dinner or not. I am lucky I can make it into bed some nights.

Fact is, motherhood is overwhelming, whether your a SAHM or working mom.

We have days where we are so happy, then we have days where we want to kill anyone that talks to us. Then still we have days where the Kleenex box is our best friend. So much for healthy balance huh?

But eventually we find routine. The bad days make us stronger, the “oopsie I bleached your soccer uniform” days make us giggle, and the good days make us grateful. This is the best balance there is. We learn to deal with the overwhelming days, drink 5 coffees on the days of exhaustion, and most importantly we learn NOT to smother our partners in their sleep because their snoring is keeping us from getting much needed rest.

I had a terribly overwhelming week last week. I was a ball of emotions; happy, sad, anxious, stressed out. I bickered with hubby, and took out my stress on those who didn’t deserve it.

But this week, I reflected and gave myself a pat on the back. I survived last week. My child survived. My husband survived (lucky he did with how often his snoring woke me up). I reminded myself that though this whole motherhood thing looked so easy, it isn’t. It will never be easy. But we push through. We get done what we need to, regardless of if we do it that day or the next week.

No matter your struggles today, tomorrow, or next week-always remember that YOU are enough-happy, sad, angry, or anxious. Your baby should always be a reminder to you of why you work so hard, so take a minute, pause, and remember that. Take a minute and remind yourself that no matter how you saw motherhood in books, magazines, or movies-this is real life, and real life has its ups and downs. Real life motherhood is hard as fuck, but you are a rockstar mama and you will succeed at it no matter how hard it gets!

Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018. 

Beautiful. Chaotic. Anxiety filled. New beginnings. Wonderful memories. Tears. Laughs. Smiles. Frowns. Self hate. Self love. Accomplishment. Failure.

These were all emotions that 2017 brought. It was a rough year, between a high risk and stressful pregnancy, a traumatic delivery, and the start of a new career with a new baby right at 2 months post partum.

But it was also the most beautiful year of my life, filled with new friends, new memories, new experiences, and new outlooks on life.

After giving birth, I threw myself into mommy mode. I pushed past my feelings of sadness about not naturally giving birth, and kept every portion of my day filled with activity. Diaper changes, mommy group,  laundry, and cleaning. My first two months post partum are a daze now. I struggled with, and eventually sought help for, PPD and PPA. I embrace those dark days now because they made me a better person and better mother. They gave me a strength that I did not know I had, and helped me realize things I did not know about myself and others in my life.

Then came going back to work. It was the worst. I literally felt like a piece of me died. I know SAHM’s have it hard, but leaving you brand new baby after 2 months of being with them every waking hour is brutal. Especially when you leave them to start a new job in a new field. I was a mess. Thats putting it lightly. 

I won’t lie, I almost quit. I hate thinking back to that first week. I by no means am a quitter. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, leaving my baby for a job I had no idea how to do. 

Fast forward 6 months. I COULDN’T BE HAPPIER. I can’t even believe I’m saying that. But its true. I LOVE my job, my staff, my life. Jayden’s sitter is amazing and it helps that she’s a friend. She loves him to death and that alone makes me more comfortable leaving him.

I definitely still have my bad days. And when I say bad I mean no desire to leave my bed, cry for no reason, eat all junk food days. But I deserve these days. I work my ass off as a mother and a working mom. We all deserve these days. 

So to all those Mama’s out there who have rolled out of bed at 3 a.m. to comfort your wailing child, may 2018 bring you comfort in knowing that everything you are doing for your child is for the best. Whether your letting him or her cry it out or snuggling him or her at 3 in the morning. Either way you are doing your best. Prayers that 2018 brings a baby who sleeps through the night!

To all those Mama’s who sometimes choose caring for the baby over self care; you-are-not-alone. Half the time I forget to brush my teeth in the morning. The other half I’m just throwing my hair up in a bun putting on whatever smells cleanest and leaving the house. My nail polish is flaking off, my eyebrows will soon turn to a unibrow, I don’t think I’ve shaved my legs since I gave birth, and I’m lucky to remember to put on deodorant in the morning. May 2018 bring you more time to focus on yourself. And if it doesn’t, oh well. I’ll be right there with you writing myself notes to remember to brush my teeth and put deodorant on.

To all those Mama’s who look in the mirror and feel self-loathing, whether it be that you haven’t lost the baby weight or that your scar from your C-section is a constant reminder of how you wanted a natural birth and how depressed you are that you did not have one. To all of you those Mama’s who constantly hide your body because of the stretch marks or baby pouch that you still have. May 2018 show you how beautiful you are. Your stretch marks are a roadmap to the journey you went through carrying your child. Your c-section scar is a reminder to you of all you went through to bring your beautiful baby into this world. Your baby weight is a reminder of how well your belly protected your precious bundle when they were inside you. Embrace your body. You went through nine months of nurturing and carrying your baby. You will lose the baby weight, the scar will fade. In 2018 spend your time loving yourself and enjoying your baby – let your body be a reminder to you of your beautiful creation.

To all my Mama’s with the mom brain. You know I can relate. I don’t even know which way is up or down most days. For 2018, laugh when you want to cry. Mom brain is totally normal and acceptable. Take those mom brain moments and laugh at them, a little humor in your day will go a long way.

To all my Mama’s feeling overwhelmed. You are definitely not alone. I am overwhelmed 90% of my day between work and being a mother. In 2018 ask for help if you need it. We are all a team. Go to your mom village, mom friends, or even your own mom. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. We can’t do everything. We can’t be everywhere. Take the help that is offered.

To all of those Mama’s with fussy babies, whether they are colicky or just once in awhile fussy. It is not your fault. You are doing everything you can and more. Going into 2018, make sure to tell yourself that  you are a phenomenal mom. One day you will look back on those moments when you cried along with your LO out of frustration and smile knowing that you got through those tough times and came out even stronger.

To all of those Mama’s dealing with sleep regression, or just babies that don’t sleep in general. Just know you are doing everything you can to get past this tough part of raising a child. This is only temporary; one day your baby will sleep, and you will have new things to worry about like report cards, first cars, or boyfriends or girlfriends. For the new year, take breaks often-don’t let yourself get to the point where you burn out. Our babies need us strong, mentally and physically. Ask for help as needed and don’t be ashamed to do so. One day you will feel such accomplishment when your baby sleeps through the night.

To all those Mama’s feeling guilty when looking at the dishes stacked, laundry overflowing, and no dinner on the table- some days you just need to come home and leave the house a mess and order takeout. You can’t be super mom everyday and regardless of whether you clean or not you are still a rockstar.

To all those Mama’s who questioned whether what they were doing was right. We are all still learning, everyday. Being a new parent is scary, exciting, stressful, and wonderful all at the same time. There’s no book or manual that could ever tell you how to be a mom. Everybody parents in their own way. You are not alone in feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing or feeling like maybe what you’re doing is wrong. I question this myself multiple times a week. For 2018 just know that as long as you’re baby is safe and happy and thriving that is all that matters. 

For all those Mama’s out there working multiple jobs to take care of one or more children- my utmost respect goes to you. You are what I strive to be. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be in your shoes. I know some moms specifically who work multiple jobs with multiple children and they inspire me to be a better person. I give so many props to them for taking care of multiple children and working multiple jobs. You are all selfless and some of the hardest working moms I know. May 2018 bring you much success and hopefully once in awhile a break for you to enjoy yourself and breathe a little bit.

And to all those people in general who have gone through struggles this year, whether you are a parent or not- life gives us tough times to make us stronger. Take your struggles from 2017 and make them into successes. You deserve the best and I hope that 2018 will bring you that. Just remember that you are loved, and despite what 2017 brought you, in 2018 you have a clean slate to start over and be the best person you can be.

For the parents out there, your child will look back one day and thank you for all you have done for them. All the blood, sweat, tears, blowouts, spit ups, and messes. You are a shining example of what others should strive to be. Hard-working, committed, motivated, and strong. Let your hard times go, you are only human. There will be days where the house will be messy. There’ll be days when you come home and all you do is bicker with your significant other. There’ll be days of tears, anger, and resentment.
One of my hardest learned lessons this year has been to stop letting others dictate my life. I’ve had friends and family judge me based on how I parent or what I do with my career. To be honest, it is none of their goddamn business. Your child – your choices…your career – your choices. Stick up for yourself. Don’t let others make you feel badly about the decisions you make. I spent too much time allowing that and it has literally torn me up inside, and even made me question some of my own decisions.

My only resolution this year going into 2018 is going to be to enjoy my life, everyday. I’m going to enjoy my growing family, friends, and my mom village. I’m going to enjoy spending time with those who build me up and who I can build up in return. I’m not going to feel guilty about overflowing laundry or dirty dishes or high credit card bills. I’m going to live my life everyday to the fullest and enjoy my son, husband, family, and friends as much as I can.

For everyone tonight celebrating the close of 2017 and beginning of 2018, surround yourself with positive people. Surround yourself with non judgemental people. Surround yourself with people who offer kindness. And don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back, you made it through 2017 and there’s a whole new year to look forward to. I hope tonight you can take a minute to reflect on yourself and how beautiful you are and how beautiful your life is. Despite the hard times you have made it through, and have come out a much stronger person. Going into 2018, strive to be the parent or person in general that you want to be without any guilt or regrets. Let 2017 come to a close with lessons learned. You’re not perfect, none of us are. But you’re doing the best you can and that’s all that matters. 

So say goodbye to 2017, and hello to a brand new year to make memories, strengthen relationships, and watch our little ones grow big and strong! Say hello to a chance for each of us to start fresh and enjoy our beautiful lives.

An open letter to all the father’s out there, part 2.

I should have probably written this post long ago, but I will admit-I didn’t even think of it.

It isn’t that Jayden’s daddy isn’t there for us or a good daddy, he is the best daddy there is for our little boy. It’s just that as new mothers, we often get so caught up in learning how to parent ourselves that we rarely recognize the person next to us is also learning to be a parent.

My husband is the most selfless, caring, and kind man there is. He loves with all his heart, and does whatever he can to make me and Jayden happy. He loves Jayden unconditionally. Sure, we bicker about finances. Sure I nag him a little (OK a lot) about getting things done. Sure I don’t always agree with him. But having Jayden made us better with communicating in general. Now we can talk as adults and communicate our wants, needs, and while we may disagree still about things, we can talk it out in a much more calm manner.

So to my hubby, and all the other fathers out there-your rocking it!

We appreciate every thing you do for us and our family.

We appreciate that you let us nag you even when you want to strangle us the most.

We appreciate you being a shoulder for us to cry on over spilt milk. Literally.

We appreciate the nights where you said I got this, and told us to go back to sleep when the baby was screaming. It may not happen as often as we’d like, but we definitely appreciate every instance that you allow us much needed brakes.

We appreciate you working 8 or more hours a day to support our family.

We appreciate that you come home after a long work day to cook us dinner, take care of the baby, and help us clean the house.

We appreciate that you put up with our obsessiveness in regards to pretty much everything when it involves baby or home life.

We appreciate you for being so understanding and accepting of our flaws. We know we have them. Sometimes the things we say or do are unavoidable during times of stress. We thank you for being so supportive during these times even when you don’t want to.
We appreciate your hugs, your pats on the back, and your smile. Sometimes all we need are those things to make us feel alright.

Most of all we appreciate the father’s that you have become and will continue to be. We appreciate you JUST the way you are.

Without you, without your support, we wouldn’t be where we are today. So thank you. Thank you for being you and being the best father you can be to our babies. Thank you for working with us even when some days you would rather work without us.

We know that it’s not easy. We know that it’ll probably never be easy. But we appreciate everything you do for our children and family as a whole. Through ups and downs and all of the in-betweens, we promise to work hard to keep building a family foundation that can weather all storms.

And to all my mama’s out there with amazing fathers in their children’s lives, I know it isn’t easy sometimes. Fact is, it’s damn hard most of the time. I know that communication isn’t always the best between each parent. I know that there may be yelling, disagreements, hurtful words said. No doubt there’ll be stress. But at end of each day try to think about the life that you are building together. Try to communicate the best you can during these tough times; the better the communication through each disagreement the easier it will be to communicate in the future. Help each other learn, don’t criticize when one person does something wrong. Oftentimes our partners do not show us that they are stressed out or anxious, but we may feel their stress by their actions. Be understanding. Be soft and kind. Little do you know that their anxieties may be the same as your anxieties and vice versa.

Love conquers all, so love each other deeply. Appreciate each other daily, even for the littlest of things. Know that you are in this together, as a team. Parenting is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But it is also one of the most rewarding. Praise each other often, your little one will look up to you one day with admiration for how mommy and daddy stuck it out during the hardest of times. You are an example to them. Teach them to appreciate others’ actions no matter what the circumstance is. They will go far in life with your guidance!

Lastly, repeat after me – both you mommy and daddy. You are a rockstar. Never forget that. You are kicking ass and taking names with this whole parenting gig.  You know that there will be hard times but you push through no matter what. At the end of the day all that matters is your family. Know that you are doing the best you can, and that is good enough!

Picture of my baby and his amazing daddy 🙂 just because they’re that damn cute!

It is just a boob.

So, I was hesitant to post this as I know it is a “hot topic”-but I just have to.

Last week I was listening to a radio station when I heard the host mention that he was upset his wife was breast feeding in public. As a background, the show has two female hosts and two male. Right away a debate, on air, ensued. The men both agreed strongly that breast feeding publicly was wrong and should be done in a private setting. Some ill natured comments were even made-that I myself took offense too and I no longer even breast feed!

The two women disagreed with the men, and stated that they felt that it was not wrong and that it was natural.

I have seen this debate countless times. But this one in particular got to me. The way the men were judging women who breast feed in public was disgusting, especially for a public radio station.

I understand free speech and all, but how do those mothers now feel who were listening in? They were shamed and judged for doing something that is natural and needed to nurture their growing child.

A couple weeks before I heard this, I saw a picture of a woman breast feeding at Disney. On the post, while many supported this mother, many other shamed her. She was told she was just doing it to get attention. She was called classless and gross. Some of the comments were so hurtful that I wanted to reach out and just hug her. That poor mother. No one should have to deal with such hurtful comments and judgments. She was literally just feeding her child in a long line at an amusement park.

As mothers, we have plenty to deal with. I have said it before and will say it again, our choices for our children are OURS. No one has a right to say otherwise. Just because YOU wouldn’t breast feed, or don’t agree with others doing it publicly, doesn’t mean YOU have a say in how others feed their child.

My own personal view on this, while it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, is that breasts are not just for pleasure. Kids need to eat. I wouldn’t starve my kid because breast feeding in public was inappropriate to you. We don’t always have the ability to feed in private, nor should be bend over backwards and delay a meal to find somewhere private to feed, just to please others.

Don’t like it? Don’t look. Simple as that.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when that opinion turns into a bashing session towards women and how they are wrong for feeding their child in public, that is not right.

It is 2017. Get over it, move on, and let us feed our babies the way we were made to.

Rant over.

Damn you hormones! Then and Now, a Look Into Mommyhood-The Best and Worst Times.

Early on in my blogging  career (precisely 3.5 months ago) I wrote an article about post partum hormones and surviving the first 6 months.

The article, though it came from me directly, helped me to better understand the effects of my post partum hormones, and gave me ways to cope with the “bad days” and embrace the good. It also helped my hubby with how he “coped” with my hormonal outbursts (see a good chart on “what to say” below-I chuckled…but it is so true!). It is amazing how therapeutic writing can be.

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Fast forward, 6 months post partum and the hormones are STILL here, as present as they ever were.

Whether you struggle with PPD/PPA or just normal post partum emotions, all new mothers deal with the onset of hard to handle emotions caused, in large part, to our hormones. One day we can be laughing, the next we can be crying. One day we love our amazing husbands, next day we cant stand them. One day we could be angry, the next content. The cycle goes on and on and on.

These emotions can last weeks, months, or even years.

Many times, even after the hormones balance out, we still feel overly emotional.

Us women get a raw deal huh?

For me, while motherhood has been full of ups and downs, it has also been full of some of the most exciting and wonderful moments of my life.

Back when I first became a mother, I questioned whether I could do it. Can I raise a child and sufficiently nurture him or her?

I questioned whether what I was doing was beneficial for the baby-would picking him up when he cried make him more spoiled and expect to be consoled 247?

I drove myself crazy with what ifs; What if he wont eat? What if he wont sleep? What if he doesn’t poop for 4 days?

At times, I let the judgment of others guide me to make decisions I didn’t agree with. I regret that now.

I am thankful my poor husband stayed by my side, boy did he have a lot to deal with.

Going back to work, specifically, has been a blessing and a curse. I still am hormonal. Don’t ask me what is wrong, I will think of 5,000 ways to hide your body. But it has given me back my sense of normalcy whilst I raise my now rambunctious 7 month old. but it has also made me more snappy, more high strung, and more tired.

I definitely feel like I work two full time jobs-three if you count cleaning up after hubby..all with little “me time” in between.

But what I have learned from this whole experience is there will no longer be “me time”; but rather, “us time”. I place my family first now, above all other things. Dishes can wait, the laundry can wait. My family needs me now.

I now try my hardest to keep my hormones in check, whereas before they ran wild. I find ways to calm myself down before I become too overwhelmed, and apologize when I am snappy (even if it takes my stubborn ass 3 days).

I no longer question if I can raise my son, only how I will do it. I plan for the present and future-and am confident he will grow into an amazing little boy.

I no longer question my decisions on how I raise him either. He is my child, and as long as he is safe, loved, and happy-that is all that matters.

I ignore the naysayers now-I don’t have a place in my busy life for judgmental people. My child, my choices.

I also no longer drive myself crazy with what ifs. If he doesn’t sleep, well he is a baby still-then I don’t sleep. If he doesn’t eat, well maybe he isn’t hungry (this never would occur-little man is a piggy!). If he doesn’t poop-pear juice works wonders.

Now, if I am hormonal and emotional, I say damn you hormones, and move on. I don’t obsess, I don’t question, I don’t feel guilt. I do what I need to do and do it over if I fail.

I have had the best and the worst times during this journey of becoming a parent, but all of my times, no matter good or bad, have helped me to grow into the person and mother I want to be. I will still have bad days, and cry. I will still be hormonal and angry, but I will be a mom, and I am human. Hormones or no hormones, I am a damn good mother and that is all that matters.

So be proud of how much you have grown and accomplished, and how much you will grow and accomplish in the future.

Be grateful for the “then” times-they educated you for your “now” times.

Motherhood isn’t easy. Life will never be easy. Hormones will be there, but you wont let them win. By 6 months, you are no longer a newbie. Take your experiences and grow from them. Laugh about the hormones that caused you so much grief, and learn new ways to handle them. Cry when you need to, laugh whenever you can, and love with your whole heart.

Take 5000 pictures of the same outfit, expression, or event-I do, and don’t give a shit how annoying it is to others. I am living by MY rules.

Hormones wont control me, and they wont control you either. Live how YOU desire, and make choices that are your own.

Your little baby will look at you with such pride and admiration one day; until then be the best you can, hormones or not. You are doing an amazing job mamas! Never forget that!