5 Moments We Should Share with Expectant Mothers

I’ve noticed a trend over the past few years. I’m not sure how long it has been going on because I paid it no attention until my husband I decided it was time to start trying for our first child.

It was as if the second other women heard my ovaries were open for business, they felt it was their job to share horror stories about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Why do some women do this? Why is the first reaction to try and scare another woman? Are we searching for some kind of validation in this? It’s so silly to me. Listen, we all know pregnancy, childbirth and parenting is hard. I don’t know a single person who went into it thinking it would be a breeze.

I’m not saying we need to sugar coat or hide the hardships of anything. Doing this only sets women up for failure by giving the illusion that hardships mean something is wrong when the craziness is totally normal! But, let’s not embellish. Let’s not focus on the hard. Let’s focus on the good! Does the good not outweigh the hard? It does for me, especially when I stop to think about the wonderful journey motherhood has been.

This idea of finding the little moments in the day to day helps me focus on pulling out and cherishing the wonderful that comes with motherhood. Those moments that cause you to pause in awe of this little human you’re raising. What’s been amazing to recognize – it’s not the big moments, the milestones (first word, crawling, walking). Those moments are wonderful. The moments that capture my heart the most though, are the ones that happen in the mundane moments.

Below are 5 moments I’d like to share with mothers. Five different kinds of moments you can look forward to and you can hold close to your heart on those days when the hard makes you feel like you can’t breathe.

1. There will be a million moments that you will look at the world in childlike wonder through their eyes. It’s freeing. It’s nostalgic. It’s wonderful. Children are blessed to see the world through unsullied eyes. The first time they play in the grass, pluck a dandelion, splash in the water. Watching your child take in the world around them for the first time is humbling and amazing.

2. When you share something you love with them (a childhood toy, favorite activity) and the joy in their face mirrors yours. I love to read. Thankfully my daughter also loves to read. When she walks up to me with a book and wants me to read it makes me so happy. When she walks to the front door and points to go outside, it makes me radiate with joy that she loves nature as much as I do.

3. Those times your child snuggles into you, reaches for your hand, wraps their arms around your neck. Oh my goodness. Your insides will melt. Any stress you are feeling will instantly melt away, if only for a moment. I don’t care what you are in the middle of doing. No task is more important than stopping to reciprocate a hug, snuggle or kiss. A million kisses will not come close to being enough.

4. When you see someone else love your child *almost* as much as you do. When I see my parents or siblings loving on my daughter it makes my heart swell. I love seeing others dote on her and teach her. I love seeing how this tiny little human my husband and I created melts the hearts of those around her. It’s a pride I didn’t know I could feel.

5. Unconditional love. Alright so I can’t speak to the tweenage and teenage years because my daughter is only 17 months old. But, let me tell you she has seen me on my worst days and still loves me unconditionally. I am still her person. Momma has a meltdown over how tired she is. Still loves me. Momma is stressed and snippy because work deadlines loom. Still loves me. Momma hasn’t showered in 3 days and stinks. Yup. Still loves me and wants all the momma time she can get. It’s a love I’ve never known before and wouldn’t trade for anything.

To the expecting mothers, new mothers, seasoned mothers and everything in between. Motherhood is so hard. So. So. Hard. There are days that I wonder if I can ever do anything right. On those days, I hold my baby close and breathe in her sweet, sweet baby smells and think about the magnificent in the mundane.

Share with me your favorite everyday moments you share with your littles.


Motherhood: Learning to Let Go

Raise your hand if you are a total Type A. Come join me friends! Let’s dive into our crazy together.

One piece of advice I was given before having my daughter that I knew would be true, but still decided to fight anyway: Let go of things you cannot control. Really this is solid advice for anyone. Which is why pretty pictures with this quote scrawled across them are constantly flooding my Facebook feed. Cliche, yet true. So annoying.

This has been the hardest part of being a parent. I want to control absolutely everything and micromanage it all. Everything. It makes my teeth ache when things don’t happen as I want them to. As a first time mom, I read all the books, all the blog sites, all the recommended sleep schedules, feeding ideas, toy ideas. All. Of. It.

You can try to control it all, ohhhh how you can try. I did. I still do. I’d classify myself as a recovering control freak / people pleaser. I read all the books so I would have all the tools to control how everything progressed with my daughter. If you seasoned mom’s are laughing at that statement, go right ahead. I now see how preposterous it is as well. I read so I could make sure I did everything “right”. Wouldn’t want Kathy Nobody to think I’m a bad mom if I’m following my mothers intuition and doing things my own way!

Here’s what happened when I tried to continuously pigeon hole my daughter into the molds of infancy the books laid out. I lost my ever loving mind one day at a time. “Eat. Play. Sleep.” I recited it like a mantra and felt like crap when it never worked for us. Yet I kept trying and kept trying. Constantly feeling this little cloud of disapproval over my shoulder. Waiting for the imaginary fairy who determines whether or not you are a good mom to smite me.

Then something happened, very slowly. I mean very, very slowly. I started to realize and notice some mom’s around me, in person and in online groups, seemed to be at ease with motherhood. HOW? How are you not in a constant state of stress? Then I noticed something else. They all had something in common. They all followed their intuition. They all listened to and let their hearts guide them when caring for their children. They don’t care if they are doing things differently. They don’t care if Betty is judging them. If their children are happy, healthy and thriving, why should they? Lightbulb moment for this first time mom.

Over the past several months I’ve started to become more confident and less obsessed with control. I’ve gradually begun to release the notion that I have to do things the way the books dictate. I follow my intuition and my daughters lead. Of course I provide structure and routine. It would be impossible for me to completely forgo this (recovering control freak, remember?). But within our routines I allow for flexibility and change.

Maybe today we’ll take two naps, maybe tomorrow we’ll take one. I have completely let go of the sleep expectations. From day one we have struggled. I did not have that newborn that slept all the time. This has always been (and still can be) the biggest trigger for me. Probably in part because the second the umbilical cord is cut, everyone and their great Aunt is asking you if your child is sleeping through the night. Do you see the bags under my eyes and my oily mom bun? Obviously not Karen.

I’ve gradually begun to just freaking roll with whatever Adaline throws at me. Sleep can still be a struggle. Steadily, I’ve started to not dread bedtimes and nighttime. Part of this is because I’ve embraced the fact that I LOVE having my daughter sleep in bed with me. Yup. I said it. Our typical routine includes having her fall asleep in her crib at night. During this time I get some work done and shower once it’s gotten to the point I can’t go another day without one. When she wakes up, I bring her into bed with me. It makes any other nighttime wake-ups so much quicker and easier. I simply plop out a boob. She nurses and rolls back over to sleep. She also sleeps longer stretches next to me. Am I recommending you do this? No. Figure out what works for you. That’s the take home point of this post.

I talk about sleep, but this goes for everything. Eating. Maybe you want to do baby lead weaning, maybe you want to start with purees. Follow your gut, what is it telling you will work with your child? Leisure activities, clothing, toys, anything you can think of. Quit trying to live up to everyone’s expectations. They are not raising your child. Different does not mean wrong. What we do with Adaline, we may not do with our next child. Every child is different, so I don’t see why we have this notion that we must treat them all the same. It is absolute ludicrous. I only wish I had understood this months and months and months ago.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since being a mom?

Flying with a Toddler: Five Tips for Mom

Yesterday I posted about tips to help make travel easier for your babe. But, what about Mom!? Here are five things that I’ve learned from trial and error the few times I’ve flown with my daughter alone.

  1. Yoga pants are a curse. Listen. Chances are when you are flying with a toddler or even more than one child (God bless you), you will have said child hanging off of you in the bathroom stall. The first time I flew with Adaline alone I was wearing a comfy pair of yoga pants. Ladies, by the time I got those pants down, peed and then struggled to stretch them back up WHILE holding my daughter… I was drenched in sweat like I had just run a marathon. Never again. Today I’m wearing comfy pants that I can pull up and down one handed with ease.
  2. Keep it to one bag if possible. I fly Southwest for 99% of the flights I take so I can check two bags for free. Last time I flew, I checked a bag and then carried an additional bag as well as Adaline’s diaper bag while wearing / carrying her. It was a mess. This time I opted to check one big suitcase and carry one bigger backpack that still is small enough to be a carry on. Whatever you can condense, do so! The less you have to juggle the easier your trip will be.
  3. Direct flights. If at all possible get a direct flight. I personally am willing to pay more, within reason, to have a direct flight. The fewer times I need to wrangle a toddler in and out of a plane the better.
  4. Use your bathroom breaks wisely. I’m not suggesting you let yourself get dehydrated, but if you are like me and can’t even fathom trying to go to the bathroom in the teeny tiny restroom on the plane, plan when you will pee. I have found it to be helpful to go right when I get to the airport and right before boarding. I try not to drink too much during this time and save water for the plane. This way by the time I’m about two seconds from wetting myself it’s about time to get off the plane and I can go in the destination airport.
  5. Smile at any judgy, clearly have never spent time around a child haters and treat yourself to a glass of wine on the plane. Keep in mind if everything seems to be falling apart, this moment is temporary. Traveling is stressful even for the most put together moms. I assume so anyway, I am certainly not in that category.

Share with me how you make traveling with a toddler a little less stressful on yourself!

Five Tips for Flying with a Toddler

Tomorrow Adaline and I are headed to Texas to visit my husband. We will be taking about a 3 hour direct flight.

Oh boy. Let me tell you my anxiety is already as high as the plane about it. This will be the second time I’m flying alone with her. We made this same trip in May. Here are a few things I’ve learned.

First things first. Let’s just rip the bandaid off. Traveling with a child is hard. You can do all the things and it can still be a total mess. So just keep in mind if your flight is going every way but how you hoped. It is temporary! It seems to be never ending, but you won’t be stuck in that flying tube forever.

I always stress about how crying may affect those around me. Truthfully, I’ve never had anyone give me the stink eye. Anyone who judges clearly has never been around a child before. So my first and most important tip. Do your best to remain calm even when you are frustrated and tired. If someone throws you a stank face. Give them a smile.

The first time Adaline flew she was about 4 months old and we flew from Ohio to Arizona. Just shy of 5 hours. She needed a nap during this flight. This was the breaking point. It was so loud she couldn’t sleep. Everytime I’d get her down an announcement would come on. She would wake up and scream. Now that Adaline is older she only takes one or two naps a day. So we try and fly before or after she needs a nap. A lot of moms suggested to me before that first flight to try and fly when she would sleep. You know your child better than anyone. If they are the type of kid who can sleep through anything. Then fly during their nap or bedtime. Problem solved. If your child is like mine, read on.

Here’s what I did last flight and what I’ll add on this flight.

  1. I wore her in the airport and timed our arrival so she would nap on me BEFORE we had to be on the plane. She didn’t take a super long nap, but it was enough that she didn’t need to sleep during our three hour flight. I’ll be doing this again tomorrow with fingers crossed.
  2. Snacks. All the snacks you can think of that they might want. I had no issues bringing snacks and a sippy cup of milk. Nothing makes a toddler rage more than being trapped in a too small seat and being hangry.
  3. New toys! Before our last flight I purchased a few new toys that I could easily stash in her diaper bag. It helped to keep her occupied a little longer since they were novel. I searched for “Montessori” toys as they are open ended and can keep a child focused longer. This time around I bought a new coloring book and crayons since she’s been all about coloring the past few weeks.
  4. The tablet. I know screens are a touchy subject with some. I’m the first to say, they should be used sparingly. Adaline gets to watch videos on my kindle during traveling only. This includes longer car rides and of course flying. It keeps her distracted for long periods of time and it’s worth it for my sanity! If you have Netflix or Amazon Prime you can download videos to your tablet so you can watch them without wifi.
  5. Adaline is still nursing a few times a day. So I attempt to get her to nurse during take off and landing to help with the ear pressure, but she usually doesn’t nurse long enough. So last time I cupped my hands over her ears and it seemed to help somewhat. I was given a suggestion by a friend to try and put sound reducing ear muffs on to help with this. I will be trying this tomorrow!

I’m ways open for some new ideas and tips for traveling with kids. Tell me what has and hasn’t worked for you!

Slowing Down Childhood

Nothing makes the days stretch on and months fly by more so than being a mother. Some days seem endless. Yet somehow, you shut your eyes one night and the next day you wake up and another season has passed.

Before I was a parent and even the first year, I was always thinking about what comes next. Always looking forward to what laid ahead. Not always appreciating the chapter I was in. This is so easy to do when stores put out bathing suits in January, Halloween candy in July and Christmas decorations in October. Target needs to just chill!

The first year of Adaline’s life, I would find myself saying, “I can’t wait until she rolls over… crawls…walks…sleeps through the night (she still doesn’t do that, so ha on me).” or “I can’t wait to dress her up for Halloween, Celebrate her first Christmas” and so on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being excited about things in the future and looking forward to them. That’s part of the fun of being a parent.

Here’s the thing. When my daughter turned one, it was like a slap in the face. Somehow through the sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, long nights and endless snuggles and love a year flashed by. It made me wonder. Did I spend enough time relishing each moment of that first year? Or was I too focused on what comes next. Too focused, and let’s be real, stressing about whether or not she was doing things on time and whether or not I was parenting correctly per the books I read. (That will be an entire post by itself one of these days).

After her first birthday in April, I made a mental challenge with myself to truly appreciate our current seasons and chapters. Changing my language from, “I can’t wait until…” to, “I love how right now we can…”. It made this Spring and Summer so enjoyable. Not that we wouldn’t have had a wonderful time anyway. But, I am constantly making an effort to notice the little details of each day and it’s helped me to appreciate the beauty in the mundane.

This Spring, I marveled at how the blossoms came out. I relished walks with my three girls, Adaline has two fur sisters. I was able to watch the trees go from bare, to blossomed to full of green leaves. See the grass turn from brown to green.

This Summer, I have loved playing in the yard. Finding shade under the trees. Looking at how the different trees and their leaves look when the breeze is blowing. Gingko trees are the best I’ve decided. I love the way their leaves seem to shimmer when the wind blows. I’ve sat and just paused and thanked God for blessing me so abundantly while Adaline colors with chalk. Something so simple, yet so beautiful that I get to experience.

These are things I would miss if I continued to constantly obsess about milestones and focusing on what my daughter isn’t doing yet. By the way she’s met all of them in her own time and it’s been wonderful. I would have missed these minute, but mighty details of our days if I was stuck only looking into our future.

I encourage you to pause for just a moment today and really soak in everything going on around you. What do you hear, see, smell? What is your child doing today that is just amazing? I’d love for you to share with me what you are loving right now, today!

This is a girl who knows how to live in the moment.

I will never…and now I do: Mother Edition

Prior to having kids, you look at other parents and you may scoff. You roll your eyes at the disarrayed hair and makeup, the sweat pants. You say to yourself, “I will NEVER be one of THOSE parents”. I like so many women before me, had a list of all the things I would never do. Well, I’m here to tell ya you can just throw that list right out the window.

For your enjoyment, here are five things I said I would never do and now do with zero second thoughts.

1. Sweat pants and crocs as appropriate attire for running errands. You betcha! In fact, when you squeeze into your “nice” pair of yoga pants, you will feel quite fancy. Put on a pair of jeans and you will feel like you are dressed to go to Cinderella’s ball!

2. Lay in bed unable to fall asleep while singing, “Johnny, Johnny, Yes Pappa” or any other random children’s song at nauseam. In fact, you will constantly have children’s songs running through your head. Not only this, but you will find you actually start to have favorite children’s YouTube nursery rhyme channels. My personal favorite is Dave and Ava.

3. Hide your child’s favorite book after reading it for the 17th time so they have to pick another one. In reality, you don’t even need the book though, because you can recite “The Pout, Pout Fish” from cover to cover by memory.

4. Use your shirt, your pant leg, the back of your hand, anything but a tissue to wipe your child’s nose, mouth, hands and whatever else is necessary… because why are the tissues and wipes always out of reach!!??

Become a pro at scooping your child up mid toddle to sniff their butt for a poop check. Speaking of poop, you will obsess about it. Does my baby poop often enough? Is it supposed to be that color? Does my baby poop too much? What about this texture?

Alright mommas, share with me all the “I swore I would NEVER” things you do ( I have more, but didn’t want to write a novel)!

Lonely as a Mother

Loneliness. That’s what I feel as I sit here alone in my daughters room.

We just spent almost two hours working together to get her to sleep in her crib. I find it so disheartening how our sleep is right now. Just a few short months ago we could go through our bedtime routine, I would plop her down in the crib and she would fall asleep. When she’d wake up in the night, we would nurse and go right back to bed.

Then the first molar started coming in, back in May which feels like three years ago instead of three months ago. Since then she has gotten five more teeth and is now working on two more molars. I know it’s the shortest of chapters in her childhood. I know everyone goes through this.

What nobody tells you before you become a mother is how lonely these seasons can feel. How exhaustion will make you question everything. You will feel like a failure as a mom. You will feel like you are doing absolutely everything wrong. I’m her mother, shouldn’t my presence alone be of comfort?

Some nights, you will feel so lonely in it all. Even though rationally you know thousands of moms are struggling in the trenches with you right now. I’ve never felt more alone, frustrated and disheartened than when I’m in my daughters room struggling to help her sleep.

I have no qualms about rocking her, co-sleeping with her or giving her what she needs during the night. Part of my parenting philosophy includes tending to my child’s needs during the night. Just because it’s dark doesn’t mean she suddenly shouldn’t need me for 12 hours straight . But, wow, can the late hours feel lonely.

I write this to feel some catharsis, because alone in her room I have no one to release the emotions that want to erupt out of me. Maybe some commiseration with other moms (and dads) who are in the trenches too can read this and know you may feel lonely, but you aren’t alone. Just like all the hard seasons, eventually this one will fade away and be but a faint memory.