Hey there, Momma dear. I see you and I feel you. Right now you are beating yourself up over something you didn’t do, or actually maybe something you did do or something you said, but regardless of where you fall on the feelings spectrum, I am sure at some moment you have felt a form of failure. Mom guilt is real, raw and creeps up in the depths of your gut and swirls through your soul to overwhelm you with that “gotcha feeling” that makes you just slump over in all the bad feels. Momma, I am here for you and here to tell you that you got this.
If you scroll through Pinterest you know that the site is flooded with must buy, top items and baby guide lists. I know because I can claim a handful of them out there as my own. When I was pregnant with Lo, I lived off of the must buy guides. I would save pin upon pin that provided every detailed list of the items I needed for when the baby arrived. Things that eventually proved to not be worth the hype or fit our needs and items that I now know I could not live without.
Once Lo was born, I felt strongly to create my own lists. Built upon the same lists that guided me through my first pregnancy and months and years parenting, I knew how special and important word-of-mouth referrals were when I needed them the most and started to develop and share my own lists here on the Blog for you.
But, now Lo is two years old, and rounding the bend to three, and I realize her priorities and mine have changed, and just as the time when she was an infant, now as a toddler, we still have some age-appropriate needs.
Things have been quiet around here. Looking back over this summer, as we now creep into the end of August, I counted the number of blog posts over the last three months and I am pretty disappointed in myself. I know for many of you this “hobby” of mine may be just that – a word, marked with quotations and no real weight. But, for me, there is weight in this blog, my writing, and these words. I choose every day to keep this site live for anyone to open and read. It is a real vulnerability that some may question and wonder if putting myself out there is really even worth it, but let me clarify that right now, at this moment it is. I enjoy the conversations I have offline and behind-the-scenes with newbie mommies, want-to jump in bloggers, fellow working moms, etc. It has created a larger circle for me with incredible individuals all across the world who are just an open the computer and type a message moments away.
I never went far for college. Never packed my belongings into a handful of suitcases, bags and boxes, minimizing what was important based on what I could fit into a car and then fit in a dorm space. I never had to watch my parents drive away from me in a car out of a town in complete excitement and fear. Instead, I stayed close to home and enjoyed the perks of living college out with home cooked meals and my Dad available any weeknight evening for a math or science tutor session.
This past week we took a much, let me emphasize, much needed little family vacation. More to come on that later this week as I dive into some of our time spent in the Outer Banks. It was our first time visiting and it was quite lovely.
Over and over my little girl (in between meltdowns because let’s face it, life is not all it seems to be on a beautiful Instagram feed) would look at me with a huge grin and say, “Momma, I have fun.” It made my heart melt, actually, I would just melt into a puddle after that.
1 – We give love differently and we love each other differently.
Have you ever heard of the five love languages? Words of Affirmation, Touch, Time Together, Acts of Service and Gifts. When Nathan and I were engaged we attended a few weeks of marriage classes with our pastor as we prepared for the big day. Part of the prep work was learning and understanding love languages and exploring what our personal language was and our partner’s. It was the first time I realized that we loved different and needed each other’s love in different ways. Five years later, that has not changed. Understanding each other is different is not enough. Instead, I have learned that having an underlying appreciation for the fact that we are two different people and knowing what may make each other tick is actually part of marriage success. I gauge our situations by trying to say things such as, “I feel this way because…” instead of starting on a “You did this…” By taking the blame off of the other person and expressing the way you personally feel is super important in validating the fact that we know each other thinks and feels different; therefore, we love differently.
Nearly two years ago, give or take a month or two, I was baptized at the age of 28, alongside my 5-month-old daughter. It was a special day for me for many reasons. One, I was standing before our church alongside Nathan, and proclaiming that our daughter would be raised in a Christian home, honoring our Christian faith and proclaiming our love for Jesus among our Church family, and two, I declared publicly my love for Christ and made an outward statement that I believed in the power of God and that I accepted God into my heart and life. I was spiritually connected to God and my Church, more strongly than I had ever been in my life. I enjoyed Sunday mornings, I sought worship, learned from the sermon and walked away from service feeling revived and energetic.
It is summertime! Well not like officially, officially, that happens – June 21. In my mind though, it is summer and that happens when the temperatures decide to stay in the 70+ degree digits and the kids are out of school. Now, Lo is always out of school, so I live through my friend’s children.
And, while I pretend like Fall is my favorite season because I like the weather, tall brown boots and fall foods like hot cider and warm homemade soups, really deep down, I am a summer girl. I am pretty sure if things went my way, I would live poolside in a zone that stayed 70+ degree digits year round.
Our dear friends just recently had their first child. We were invited down to their home to spend some time with their week and a half-year-old little guy and to introduce him to our very ornery, can’t stop – won’t stop, two-year-old, Lo.
I was a nervous Nancy watching my daughter bounce from step to ground, fearful she was just a mere tumble away into the peaceful newborn’s bouncy seat, where he so quietly slept. As I watched this beautiful boy stretch and yawn and wrinkle his oh so tiny nose, I looked over at my rowdy, rambunctious daughter, “No, Logan, we do not lick the concrete,” I calmly announced as my daughter was on all fours on my friend’s patio, lapping up the hard surface. In that moment, I turned back to the newborn so peaceful and dependent and then back at my puppy, I mean daughter and thought well gee this is my motherhood.
Lately, I feel like I run around chasing my daughter saying “No!” Our dialogue with our child has totally shifted and now I just find myself and my husband speak and think nothing of our dialogue until a moment later when it hits me, “Did we just say that?”
So I started this list – Parents Say the Darndest Things – with our recent conversation at our friend’s house when I asked my daughter to stop licking the concrete, in mind.
Darndest Thing #1 – The same night as the concrete and moments later Lo ripped a leaf off our friend’s hedge bush that lined their patio and placed the leaf in her mouth, “Lo, stop eating their landscape.”
Darndest Thing #2 – After a quiet moment, my husband walked into our daughter’s bedroom and found her on the floor playing in a small travel bag I have packed which contains band-aids, thermometers, and an extra toothbrush. My dear husband yelled, “No, that was in your butt, get it out of your mouth.” Hmmm… I thought from our bedroom across the hall. Turns out Lo had placed the reserved anal thermometer in her mouth. Then Nathan asked me, “Right? This goes in her butt?” Holding the red and white thermometer in his hand in our doorway. “Yes, dear, that typically goes in her butt.”
Darndest Thing #3 – One morning while playing with chalk on the front sidewalk that leads to our house, “Logan, chalk is for sidewalks, not for faces.” She had bright blue dusty chalk painted on the tip of her nose and was holding the red and outlining her face as I caught her.
Darndest Thing #4 – I dressed Logan, I gave her a bottle, her blanket and set her on the couch with a TV show so I could water my annuals in our front yard. Nathan yelled, “Ashli, did you change, Lo?”
“Yeah, why?” I call back.
I turned around to see my daughter with her top on but completely naked from the waist down standing in the front door looking out at me. “Logan, no, we do not walk around pantless.”
“Yeah,” said Nathan scurrying her along. “And, we don’t stand at the front door when we do,” I heard Nathan say as they walked away. 😐
You know how they say kids say the darndest things, well clearly us parents do too. Just another day, another dollar (no – wait) and another moment in the life of parenthood. And, I cheers to you on that!
It was a rough week for me personally. I was chatting with co-workers about work-life balance and how at the moment it is nonexistent for me. I am at a pivotal point in my life where I am asking myself every day what my priorities are and how those priorities stack out.
Being a Mom is a huge priority, but even more so a present Mom and in most cases, I feel like Lo is not getting the best of me. One of my co-workers shared a story and it really moved me. To tears actually, I tried to hold them back and turn my head so she would not see, but they came rushing down my already damp face.
She had a friend who was sharing with her that when she was talking to her now older teenager/young adult children, she told them how looking back on their childhood all she remembers doing was yelling at them and that made her so sad. But the amazing thing was her child oddly looked at her and said, “Mom, we never remember you yelling at us.”
The perception we have as a parent is just our take on how we are raising our children. We in most cases feel like we are never enough. The true test is how our children feel, which leads me to share This link. It kind of wraps up everything I am trying to say.
Our mothers shape us in so many ways. And, while as Moms, some days we feel exhausted and like failures, not giving our best or our all, our children often remind us that the motherhood magic spirals bright and strong around them, long after the toys lay quietly on the living room floor, and their childhood room remains neatly untouched and they are off in the world and a phone call away.
I thank these fellow children of Moms who shared their answer to the following question to help lift their Mom and all Moms. Happy Mother’s Day.
How has your mother shaped you?
“Through the years my mom has made many sacrifices to give me every opportunity that has led me to where I am today. She has always led by example. Her unconditional love and willingness to give have shown me how to be selfless. My mom has never set a goal she has not reached, she is determined and strong, something I have always admired about her. She is the glue that holds my family together and I know how lucky I am to have been raised by such an amazing woman.” – Jordin R.
“It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few things when I think about my Mom and what a strong influence she’s had on me. She is a well-respected psychologist who ran her own successful private practice for years, all while raising three girls on her own. Growing up, she taught my sisters and me that it is entirely possible to pursue a career but to show your family you love them. She somehow found time to make us delicious dinners and homemade birthday cakes (I love to throw dinner parties and make food for people I love because of her wonderful cooking). She worked so hard to give us so many opportunities – we went on countless camping trips and hikes, and all took dance classes, did things like tennis and art lessons. I think the latter was also instrumental – we not only grew up curious about how we could be creative and expressive on our own, but we watched our Mom pursue her talents in and around her crazy schedule. She makes absolutely beautiful quilts, makes the best homemade bread in the world and is one of the craftiest people I know. Over the past few years, she’s become a master beekeeper, something that is her greatest passion following retirement. Now that I’m older and have experienced some of the things that come with that, like starting over after a divorce, my Mom is my strongest supporter and lets me know I can do anything on my own, that it’s never too late to have the life you always wanted and deserve. That’s been an incredibly powerful thing to share with her. The long talks we’ve had over the past few years since I moved to DC to begin my life as a single person have been so special—she understands what I’ve been through and she can see what I’m becoming, if I keep believing in everything that makes me happy and realize how capable I am. This has really deepened our relationship and brought us closer in a way I didn’t realize was possible. I’m so thankful for her and love her so much.” – Becca B.
“It wasn’t until the last few years that I have truly realized just how much my mother has shaped me into who I am today. As a child who never went to daycare, or even had babysitters, my bond with my mother has always been strong. She has shown true selflessness and courage and always encouraged me to be who I want to be. I always go above and beyond to make someone feel special – something that is undeniably a trait I got from her. All of the best things about me – are because of her.” – Tracey C.
Ever since I entered this word (breech, by the way, and I apologize to her for that, often) I have known that my Mom was going to love me no matter what! Of course, I tried my best to be that perfect child, but mistakes and bad choices were made along the way. I think especially during my high school years, I did some things that didn’t necessarily make my Mom proud. My taste in certain boyfriends and my total disregard for academic achievement come to mind. Of course, my Mother let me know she did not agree with certain choices I had made, but never in a condescending or nasty way. And never did she utter the words, “I told you so,” when she could have so many times. She loved me at times when I didn’t exactly love myself.
I grew up thinking of my Mom as my Mom, but also as a teacher. When I was younger this meant getting to open her Valentine’s Day cards, having her around all summer long, and going to help her decorate her classroom every August. As I became older though, I really started to appreciate the gift that she had for reaching all students and making every one of them want to come into her classroom where they would be entertained, loved, and would actually learn a little in the meantime. She would work late every night planning entertaining lessons and activities that she felt her students deserved. She truly loved every minute she spent with her students. She always emphasized the importance of laughing with, talking to, and most importantly, listening to each student each day. She always said teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs out there, and I am so grateful that I believed her enough to discover this for myself.” – Kristi A.
“I love my, mom. She is the hardest working woman I know. She has always been there for me, helping me and making sure the decisions I make are always the right ones. I learned this right before taking the big step to move out. Every time I brought it up to her, she always would say, “Are you sure you can handle that?” She helped me develop into the man I am today because of this. She is also so caring towards her kids and others. Anytime I come home and something is emotionally troubling to me she always knows what to say. I appreciate that she makes sure to comfort me and help me through everything before I turn to leave. She has always been there to protect me. Thank you. I love you, forever and always.” – Turner M. (PS- That is my baby brother and he is the one in the black shirt behind my Mom).
Moms, you are powerful and resilient. You are lovely and beautiful. You make the lives of your children and their worlds go round. We are lucky to celebrate you.