Tag Archives: mom life

The Present of Presence in Motherhood

22 Jan


Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Earlier this morning, I was re-reading some posts about Emilia at 4 and 5 months, and as my heart twinged a bit that her (and Caroline’s) infancy is long over, it was a nice reminder of how time alters perspective. As I read about her developments, I almost forgot the impatience I felt back then for the next thing she’d do. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to charge through her childhood, or rush her learning to walk and talk, but I remember feeling so incredibly excited for it.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that in the moment, a lot of the baby milestones can seem so inconsequential almost — observing a baby studying a pattern for example. Or learning just one sign, like “milk” in ASL (American Sign Language.) It’s only later when you realize you have a toddler who can recreate a pattern with blocks and utilizes sign language to emphasize her point as she speaks that you become more aware of how foundational and BIG those seemingly small achievements were when that girl was only months old.

Something else I’ve realized on reflection of those early newborn months is that it can feel difficult, frustrating even, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Days and nights blur together, particularly if you’re breastfeeding, and those first 12 weeks especially, can feel like a monotonous eternity regardless of whether you’re napping when the baby naps. What I want to say to myself back then, with my first, is to savor each and every second and to be assured that it won’t always be like this. For good and for bad. Babies must be so cute and endearing because taking care of one takes such a great amount of effort that accomplishing any other daily tasks seems impossible. A reminder, (or for the first time moms, simply sharing this insight), that these long, difficult, all-consuming, exhausting baby days have a finish line, is something I wish more women verbalized in discussions of motherhood. We hear (and see) all about the parenting highs on Facebook and Instagram, but the low moments are less discussed. It’s one legacy I’ve taken upon myself to share loudly and often to absolutely anyone who will listen.

That said, if anyone except ME (a future self?) had advised me in this way, I’d have probably screamed — or cried— depending on how Emilia had slept that night. Even now, as a mom of two with almost four years of parenting in the rearview, it is nails on a chalkboard to me whenever I’m casually advised to “Enjoy it, it goes by so quickly!” 

I’m finding myself creeping into that territory though; of all those well-intentioned, seasoned moms and grandmothers whose kids are in high school now, and college. Whose children are getting married and having their own babies. The ones who pause as I struggle through the grocery store juggling and entertaining two girls, but who only see two sweet little girls with their mother and lean in to say: What beautiful little girls, enjoy it! It goes by in a blink.

Just reading that post I referenced before, about Emilia at 4 months old, rocketed me back to those intense “new baby” months when Brian and I would just sit together on the couch, Emilia in my arms, just staring at her in utter wonder. She can track us with her eyes! Is that a smile? That’s her ‘milk drunk’ face. Wait, no, that’s her ‘poop’ face!, as we’d both peal with laughter. It’s amazing how time has tempered my memory of the intensity of this period of time.

For example, in my walk down memory lane, my absolutely brutal experience learning to breastfeed didn’t even factor. I certainly documented it with blog posts and it colored so much of my first weeks and months home with Emilia — yet, somehow, time has softened how difficult that experience seemed. I had a tongue-tied baby who couldn’t latch so each and every 45 minute nursing session every 2-3 hours found me sobbing hysterically, bleeding, and unsure I’d be able to withstand the pain of the next feeding. Nursing for as long as I did made me feel stronger, better. It reinforced what I’d known long before I’d even gotten pregnant: that there wasn’t anything I wouldn’t endure for my children.

So here I am, with the 4th birthday of my eldest on the horizon and I’m reminiscing about when she was just months old. It’s made me pause in those trying, day-to-day, “grind” moments with young kids, and realize that these moments, right now, are what I’ll be fondly remembering before long. A year from now, I’ll miss the way Emilia mispronounces “dumpling” (ducklings) and “earmuffs” (earmops). And how Caroline puts her hands to her mouth to mock shout “Nya Nya” (Emilia) whenever we arrive at preschool pickup.

If nothing else, longing for the sweet newborn smell of my girls’ and how completely they’d relax into me while they chest-napped reminds me — today — to be present and to savor every single second with them, for better or worse. Because I know I’ll blink and they’ll be in highschool. And then college. And then getting married. And then, hopefully, if their own, (ideally) joy-filled childhoods have inspired them as I hope they will, having their own babies.

These are GREAT days

9 Oct

Edit: Posting this a bit late (by about 3 weeks, so please excuse my delay…)

This coming Tuesday will mark 12 weeks since we welcomed the newest little addition into our lives. I remember my friend Brittany telling me after I had E and was in the depths of sleeplessness and breastfeeding hell that the first 8-12 weeks are the hardest and that after that things really take a turn. She was talking about life at home with just one child, but reflecting back now, there was NO way of really comprehending what I now know to be true, and that is that this isn’t forever.

The newborn phase is fleeting. They don’t eat every 2-3 hours forever. You won’t only wear pajamas and nursing tops forever. And then when they’re not newborns anymore, you miss the chest naps and the teeny clothes and the smell of their heads.

When you’re a first time mom and you haven’t been around other moms with newborns, you just don’t know what you don’t know though. So in some ways, it has been a lot sweeter this time around to have that knowledge and be able to really savor C’s newborn period and snuggle her as much as possible. There were tears, don’t get me wrong. I also suffered from an awful bout of post-partum depression for about two weeks right around the four week mark (when my hormones must have finally balanced out). And I also went back to work pretty much immediately after having her, (part-time and only at night, but even so…)

Still, as wiser as I felt this time around, I was also managing a toddler at home who was adjusting to having to share my attention which was totally new territory and tested me in and out every day for the first 5 weeks. I can’t count how many days I just didn’t know how I’d survive on my own. I am lucky that I didn’t have to thankfully. I had a LOT of help, especially from my own mom. [Thanks Mom!]

Having said that, as I reflect on the last three months, as usual, only the good comes to mind and it’s clear that there just needed to be a period of recalibration as I learned how to manage the day for the three of us. On the difficult days, I often remind myself: These are GREAT days. Before I can blink, C will be crawling, then walking, then talking. And I can already visualize E in kindergarten. The time will fly and before we know it, we’ll be longing for these exhausting, chaos and laughter-filled days with our girls so I try to really savor every single second.

E is just about 2.6 years old now and C is just about 3 months old are they are so sweet together. C is smiling and starting to laugh and is such a mellow, sweet baby, while E is in the throes of toddlerdom. She has done SO well potty training and has been staying totally dry overnight since last weekend, which is huge. We’ve been dry during naps for months now, first with a diaper on which we discussed as being “just to be safe, but not to use because diapers are for babies and she is a big girl,” but I delayed night training until we’d settled in with the newborn, as the amazing book I’ve mentioned non-stop these past few months advised.  (We had a rough few days of repeated sheet washing and on night 4, ta dah!)

She was making the entire night, then I think she would panic in the morning when she woke in her bed so we made a big deal of placing a potty in her room with a little battery operated candle beside it. This morning, although she did pee the bed, this was the first morning we actually found her ON the potty so the idea has clearly sunk in. She also absolutely chugged water before bed last night so I should have known this was coming. I purposely am not calling this an accident though because she’s still learning so it’s not fair to label as such. (I’m very into thoughtful word choice, can you tell? Kids are so smart, I don’t see how I can’t be.)  Anyways, I love how we approached potty training — she was ready; we just had to guide her with the write language and reinforcement. She’s such a smart kid.

Lately, I’ve been working 6-8 PM so I’m missing bedtime which has been hard for E. I usually give her something when I leave and ask her to take care of it for me. It could be a Sugar lip tint from my purse or sometimes, it’s the necklace I’ve put on that she tells me is “So beautiful” as I’m headed to work. But then she mimicked it back to me the other day. “Mama! Mama! Here,  [thrusts a small bear into my hands]. You take good care of this while you at work.” I nearly died.

Also, I mentioned going to a kids boutique down in Marshfield with my family last week, but then we had to skip it to get on the road in time for E to nap, so she was distraught when she woke in her carseat in our driveway and dramatically exclaimed: “MAMA, I THOUGHT WE WAS GOING TO THE ‘TEEK.” [It was heartbreaking, but I had to bite my inner cheeks to stop from laughing/smiling.]

To make it up to her, late last week when I was dying to go poke through a favorite thrift shop, I prepped a Bento box for her and got both girls out the door by telling her we were finally headed to the boutique. She was ecstatic and wonderfully cooperative getting her shoes on herself and packing up a little backpack of toys to bring. We were having a really great day actually and I wasn’t at all daunted to attempt a solo trip out with the two of them.

She picked out a cute little purple car to buy that I was a little less than impressed with but seriously loves the thing. But I nearly died laughing the first time I heard her reference her new purple car to dada that “I got at the boutique!” It made me a little sad that my grandmother isn’t in our lives anymore because that was how she often referred to thrift stores. My appreciation for thrifting definitely came from her and my mom so it made my heart a little achey just for a moment.

Anyways, as I posted the other day, life with two is getting more manageable as I develop my own tricks to make it easier – whether it’s making sure I log in quality solo time with each child, making sure each is well-fed while seated at a table during mealtimes, or ensuring everyone gets the sleep they need, myself included. I’ve also found that being as prepared as possible for the day’s activities makes a huge difference. This could mean laying out my own clothes, prepping lunch or water bottles for a trip to the gym or playground, or prepping snacks to grab and go.

I’ve also been practicing the art of completely ignoring Emilia’s whining when she begs for snacks she shouldn’t be eating or wants an explanation for why she can’t or shouldn’t do something. It’s difficult because it needs to be a committed ignoring — no eye contact, no laughing, no showing any signs of annoyance. So far, it’s incredibly effective. It’s a totally different tactic than what I usually do which is to distract and “change the channel” as her pediatrician calls it where I just direct her attention elsewhere so she forgets why she was upset.

I’m not going to lie though, there have been moments since she turned two when I fully felt the meaning of the phrase terrible twos.  Like most milestones, Emilia hit them a little sooner than we expected and blasted through to the next, so now I feel like I have a 3-year old, going on 13-year old. She can be sooooo dramatic. The worst of it was probably around bath and bed time. She hates having her hair shampooed. And bedtime…. well. That would need to be another post. I’m not ready to dive into that [as I clutch my knees and rock back and forth.] But she’s doing amazingly well now and only needs a little singing before she’s off to dream land.

So the moral of this really long story? Savor this craziness. These ARE great days.

Building a Capsule Wardrobe

31 May

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For a while now, simplifying and streamlining my life has become a bit of an obsession. I think it started a few years ago, in 2012, when I discovered Karen Kingston’s Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui The immediate energy bump I experienced by tossing crap completely hooked me.

My greatest takeaway from the book was that employing feng shui allowed me to focus my time and energy on what really matters.  All objects have energy and unless it’s positive energy, it has to go.  It’s not as hippy dippy as it sounds.

There is a chair I dragged home from the curb (to “refurbish”) languishing in my office right now. I feel frustrated every single time I see it because I have to climb over it to get to my desk. As much as I love its potential and want to prioritize the project of reupholstering it, the truth is, it’s a drain on me because it’s 1.) in the way and 2.) a reminder of yet another crafty project I just don’t have time for anymore. That is the power of feng shui.

Since then, I’ve become obsessed with carrying this idea into my wardrobe via a capsule wardrobe. I found this great article on The EveryGirl that details what it is and how to build it if you’re interested. I also love Who What Wear’s How to Build a 5-piece French Wardrobe by Cat Collins, since she emphasizes purchasing quality basics. I think basics are the foundation pieces for effortless personal style.

Per Cat Collins…

A basic is something that…

1. I can wear this over and over and over again, until it falls apart
2. Goes with everything I already own
3. I pretty much can’t live without it
4. Is the glue that helps me keep the rest of my wardrobe together
5. Is made of a good material that will last for a very long time

The guidelines are fairly simple: First, make sure you have quality basics across all categories of apparel, and eliminate clothing from your wardrobe that you don’t wear, love, and love to wear. Buy new basics to fill any gaps, and remember quality over quantity. Second, limit your new purchases to five nonbasic items per season (once in spring/summer and once in fall/winter) that add a bit of personality and make your wardrobe feel current and fresh.

Are you up for the challenge of building a capsule wardrobe? I’ve been pairing back my closet and cleaning out in the hope of effortless style. I’ll keep you posted.

Top image via The EveryGirl