I Call ‘Bullsh*t’…

Rarely do I delve DEEP into the ‘big issues’ on this blog or social media in general. Whether it’s politics, personal matters, relationships, family, etc. Mainly for fear of ‘stirring the pot’, judgement, and all the other crap that I have come to realize… just. doesn’t. MATTER.

AND, to keep from talking about the big issues that plague us everyday (if you’re not one of them, you’re full of crap), would take away from the importance of transparency and authenticity that I have preached over and over and the fact that despite the misconceptions and perfection that we so often see on social media… it’s not real life. It’s a string of moments that simply made the cut. The ones we share with the world to simply say ‘look how happy and perfectly put together my life is’, which not only affects our sense of success and magnifies our shortcomings, but also furnishes our children with an unprecedented brand of expectations, and BOOM – *cue the anxiety*.

Motherhood. Style. Beauty ‘tips and tricks’. Vacations. Happy times. Smiling faces. Don’t get me wrong – I not only enjoy, but LOVE sharing, engaging with, and reading about all of the above. I truly do.

But, something inside of me recently has had enough of this illusion of unattainable perfection. We’ve ultimately let social media determine our self-worth and value. We get caught up in this cycle of looking to others for validation and reassurance rather than seeking that from ourselves. We have come to believe that there is more value in on how you “package yourself” than there is in the “real” you.

Basically, I call bullshit on it all.

Let’s start talking about the real shit. The shit we deal with on a daily basis. The everyday struggles that are not worthy of hanging in an 8×10 or displaying on our beautifully and strategically thought out instagram feeds.

Did you know that according to a new survey from the American Psychiatric Association, more than a third of American adults view social media as harmful to their mental health. Just 5% view social media as being positive for their mental health? 45% agree on positive and negative effects.

That’s probably where you’ll find me.

Social media is not a bad thing. I’ve found GREAT joy, an amazing community, entertainment, support, and love from complete strangers on the internet that I’ve connected with via all social media outlets. I’ve also seen A LOT of highlight reels. Am I guilty? Yes. Do I blame those for only sharing the happy times? Hell no. Do I think this phenomena has created a sense of isolation, social anxiety, envy, and harmful effects on one’s mental health? You betcha.

We need to start talking about THAT. The pictures that didn’t make the cut. The relationships, the struggles, the drama, the dysfunctional family dynamics, the sadness, guilt, regrets, hurt… we’ve let social media replace real life and real connections.

SO, allow me to take the first step: Let’s get messy.

FAMILY.

Social media will present you with a lot of ‘Leave it to Beaver’, fresh ouuta page 29 of a Land’s End catalog kind of families. Rarely do we see the reality behind the matching seersucker get ups… and I can guarantee you wouldn’t see that reality in any catalog.

Dysfunctional family? Yup, I got one. They’re batshit crazy. Ya love ‘em and stick with ‘em despite it all. Because they’re ‘family’.

Well, again… I call bullshit.

First of all, to anyone out there who is battling internally with sacrificing love for respect or vice versa (whether it’s family, a friend, or significant other), neither is worth sacrificing. I started to deeply reflect on that sentiment the other day when I asked my husband the famous question: ‘would you rather be loved or respected?’. I came to the conclusion that the two come hand in hand. Don’t allow either one to be compromised. I am, of course, still battling this myself – therefore far from an expert.

However, it did light a fire within me. Made me dig deep, rethink, and reevaluate all the relationships we simply tolerate or worse – fight for. Whether it’s walking on egg shells, seeking approval, love, respect, kindness, honesty, etc. IF you’re constantly seeking it…

Walk away.

And know the thing you should be focusing on is the fact you have that love to give. If you have that love and respect inside you to give to the wrong people… imagine what you have to give to the RIGHT ones. The ones who deserve it and have earned it. It’s not always blood. It’s not always family. And that’s OKAY.

For the folks in the cheap seats, let me repeat myself – THAT’S OKAY.

I have expelled much energy and time seeking explanations, closure, answers from all the wrong people. I think sometimes we get too busy and caught up focusing on all the ways people abuse that kindness and trust, that we neglect to acknowledge the fact that we have that inside of us to GIVE! AND that’s what makes us who we are.

Don’t compromise that for anyone. Don’t let all the explanations and answers that have gone unsaid leave you bitter and ultimately consume your mind and thoughts. If you’ve done your part, you’ve done your part. That’s all we are responsible for.

It’s OKAY for us to talk about these real life, messy, and complicated topics.

Perhaps, I got a little side tracked – but main case & point being… we don’t see any of that when scrolling through our feeds, do we? Leaving most to think to themselves – ‘oh, dear god… look at this magical unicorn of a family, meanwhile, my kid just yelled proudly from the other room “Mama, I pee peed on the couch!” and your husband has been in the bathroom for an hour playing candy crush.

See where I’m going with this?

I know I am not the only one who refrains from talking real life on these platforms for fear of being judged, not receiving the validation we’re seeking, airing our dirty laundry where we could just post a photo of our avocado toast and call it a day.

AND, then comes…

MOTHERHOOD & SOCIAL MEDIA:

As if we didn’t need another outlet to highlight our incompetence and shortcomings… Maybe it’s time we bring back the ‘community over competition’ notion.

That Pinterest worthy casserole? Maybe she perfected the one recipe she knows how not to screw up and THAT deserves an ‘atta boy’. (hi! 👋🏼)

The perfectly dressed Von Trapp children who are smiling while eating vegetables and asking for more? Maybe ya didn’t catch the total meltdown mama dealt with for an hour prior to that photo…

The immaculate kitchen? *Not pictured* the clutter and the mess that was making her so anxious, she finally said ‘enough’ and slaved all day to make it look that way (and taking breaks to keep the kids entertained!) It’s an accomplishment… and one she should be proud of and broadcast to the world!

The beautiful bouquet of flowers that adorn her dining room table? Maybe those came from an apologetic spouse and what you didn’t see was the huge fight that they’d had the night before and the tears, anger, and frustration. You just see the flowers.

It’s easy to judge someone’s life based on the photos we see while mindlessly scrolling. Ultimately, we are all sharing the WINS. So, to the exhausted mom who’s hanging on for dear life while scrolling and thinking to herself- how? Why? What? You are not alone. You are enough. AND if you EVEN find yourself questioning if you are – you are.

IF it sounds like I’m being a tad contradictory.. you’re probably right. Calling bullshit on the facade, but cheering on the individual creating it? This is simply a mere reminder that we can admire someone else’s green grass without hopping on the self-loathing roller coaster. We don’t have to completely disconnect from all social media to counteract this epidemic – we just have to change the way we approach it. It’s important to remind ourselves that behind these beautifully curated feeds are human beings. I think that’s what we’ve lost on social media – reality. The reality that no one has ALL their shit together ALL the time. The reality that we all have our own struggles. The reality that social media ISN’T reality. I think if we don’t lose sight of that fact, we can start to enjoy social media again and put to rest the stress and anxiety that comes with the slippery slope of comparison.

At the end of the day, I suppose this is nothing but a rant to encourage more of us to celebrating progress instead of perfection. We’re all just wingin’ it.

Try this…

When you see that photo of a perfect & spotless living room and look up to see your mess of a house, dishes piling up, and what appears to be a Leap Frog crack den – I want you to see that mess is magic. A messy, magical life playing, creating, having fun, and just being kids. A home that’s lived in and loved in.

These are signs of life, not failure. Remind yourself that what you see everyday behind your screen are brief moments in time, and not someone’s whole story. If all we see is each other’s perfection, we are very likely to miss each other’s pain.

Today, a huge burden has been lifted off my shoulders with that realization. Repeat after me: TODAY, I WILL NOT COMPARE MYSELF TO STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET. I will not place my value and happiness in the hands of my social media following.

Today, I will break the cycle.

Motherhood… not for the weak hearted.

Mom guilt.

✖️

It’s inevitable. Motherhood often feels like a game of guilt management. Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming and debilitating. Sometimes just a low simmer, but in some capacity, it’s always there… and there is never any shortage of fuel to feed the beast that leaves us with the general feeling of incompetency. Top it off with our carefully curated social media world, which not only affects our sense of success and magnifies our shortcomings, but also furnishes our children with an unprecedented brand of expectations, and BOOM – *cue the crippling anxiety*. 👋🏼

Being a mother is as hard as it is beautiful.

Sleep training, cry-it-out or coddle?

Breastfeed or *heaven forbid* the ‘F word’ formula?

Screen time at a restaurant to keep the kid from screaming bloody murder?

Looking at your phone while your child plays on the playground? (Cut it out with the Judgey McJudgerson looks over there, Karen.)

McDonald’s for the second day in a row?

… Around every corner, we will be faced with some sort of scrutiny or judgement. Someone who puts that false sense of doubt in our minds that we are doing it ALL wrong

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. The majority of us are doing our best. And, that’s all our little ones need. Happy moms. Loving moms. Not always the Pinterest mom, the dedicated room mom (stop it, Donna. Just stop), or the perfect mom who has all her shit together all the time complete with matching monogram ascots (Spoiler alert: they don’t.)

Motherhood is not for the weak.

It’s watching their chubby little legs run fast down the sidewalk and seeing that they’re going to trip but not being able to get there fast enough.

It’s holding them and carrying them upstairs and then suddenly realizing that your arms can hardly sustain their weight anymore.

It’s dropping them off at school and watching them walk into the building and holding your breath — literally, holding your breath — watching them wave at you while they stumble along carrying a backpack that’s bigger than them until you see some kid say hello to them, and they don’t look back.

Currently for this mama, it’s days that consist of multiple tantrums, lots of sass, and the occasional target run when she manages to throw anything and everything she can get her hands on. BUT, I know her determination and that strong and stubborn will will truly take the world by storm one day.

It’s the promise of them finding their own way — the dream of them becoming who they already are — that isn’t for the faint of heart in the here and now.

I don’t think any of us realize how all-consuming this job is. I think it’s time we talk candidly about what the ‘books’ didn’t tell us. The good, the bad, and the ugly. So often these days we see this highlight reel on social media constantly on repeat as we scroll through Instagram depicting happy, well behaved, perfect children who eat their vegetables, never talk back, and don’t know the word ‘NO’. Hell, I’m guilty! That’s what the platform of social media has evolved into. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE seeing AND sharing those beautiful and perfect moments.

Is it everyday reality? Um, no.

Am I saying the everyday reality is unbearable and I want out? Not for a single second. EVER.

Maybe it comes down to the 2019 cliche notion of us comparing our bloopers to some stranger online’s highlight reel. Yeah… 2019 is making it unbelievably easy to compare every step of our journey to another’s. There is no RIGHT way to parent. YES, I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I devoured any and all baby books preparing me for giving birth, parenting, and all the other sources that provide a false illusion that we actually know what the hell we’re doing. Hell, that’s enough to send you into a whirlwind of overwhelming WORRY & comparison!

Bottom line – there is no right or wrong way. You could have a PhD in psychology and still make a multitude of mistakes in raising your children.

At the end of the day, when this little sassafras looks over at me with that little mischievous grin & runs at me full force with a big hug and sloppy kiss… I see a happy kid. Fed, clothed, and above all, loved to the ends of the earth. She’s blissfully unaware of the weight on my shoulders that I carry everyday just trying to keep up. And she doesn’t need to. That’s the magic of childhood, and something I never want to take away from her.

Our job as mothers is to provide shoulders for our children to stand on and pray that they grow wings to outsoar us. The best gift is to watch them fly and hope they look back long enough to appreciate who and where they came from.

Mom guilt is a bitch. And, today… I’m telling it to eff off. I think there should be solidarity in the club for every parent who is trying to do the right thing and operating from a place of love, shouldn’t there? We’re all in this together, no matter the age or the stage. So… today, I’m tuning out that snarky inner-critic self talk. Today, I’m reminding myself to bask in those rare, ‘super mom, I totally have my shit together’ days, and just keep rolling with the punches, learning, loving, grinning and bearing those (‘That’s it, I’m changing my name and moving to Mexico) kinda days until I get it right – which I’m pretty certain, as a mom, I will never fully get there.

…and that’s okay. Maybe that’s just the universes driving force that propels us every morning to try harder, do better, and love bigger.

Also, wine. Wine helps, too.

Cheers, mamas! XO

Your Late 20’s: The Middle School of Life

Growing pains, without the braces.

“So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”

– Office Space

It’s official. In the blink of an eye, I have approached my late 20’s. I can’t help but reflect on the past decade of discovery, transitions, decisions, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way (mostly the hard way).

Our generation does come with it’s own unique set of difficulties and challenges which require a fresh and innovative approach if they are to be overcome. Now, there are a million and one articles out there that will tell you how important it is to travel and see the world, to knuckle down on your dreams, and enjoy your youth before committing to a marriage or career that may not leave you fulfilled or happy, so, as much as I agree with all of that, I won’t bother you with it again.

Yes, everyone has their own journey, their own struggles, dreams, accomplishments, regrets, lessons learned, etc. However, this is my blog…

SO, here are a few of my personal meandering thoughts that I’ve come to consider enormously important to my own happiness and well being, and maybe, just maybe, might be imperative to yours as well.

1. Make more time for meaningful relationships. Be intentional with who you spend your time and energy on. Surround yourself with the people cheering you on, who fuel your passion, and inspire you to do and be better.

2. Learn to cook 1 meal. ONE. (Y’all, that’s a huge one for me… and one I’m certain I’ll put off until the eve of my 30th birthday.) Whatever. We can just skip that one. Carry on.

3. Do something that gets you out of your comfort zone, out of your shell and into the world. Safety nets are comforting, but will rarely get you where you want to be.

4. Get comfortable with saying no. Don’t want to go to that party? Stay home. Don’t want to leave your bed or put pants on that particular day? Say ‘screw the pants and bail’. ‘No’ is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation. Give yourself permission to rest without feeling guilty about it. BUT, don’t get too comfortable. Balance is key.

5. Dance for no reason (when did we stop doing that?!). My 3 year old reminds me of this on a daily basis. They don’t care who’s watching, who’s judging, or even if there’s music.

6. Run a marathon. KIDDING. Just making sure you were still paying attention. However, if you’re into that kinda thing – you do you, boo.

6. Be more mindful of what and where you’re spending money. Shop small. Support a friend, a small family business, a local mom & pop shop. When you support a small business, you’re supporting someone’s dream.

7. Don’t feel rushed to have it all “figured out” (whatever that means). Keep it simple. One foot in front of the other. I’ve met many 20 somethin’s who have a set game plan in place (you GO, GLEN CO CO!), and I have met plenty of 40 & 50+ yr. olds still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up. It’s not a race.

8. Get to know your parents. Ask questions. I guarantee you, you’ll eventually want to. Do it while you have the chance. They’re growing older, too… and maybe they really did know what they were talking about when they warned you about that ‘bad boy’ back in high school.

9. Go to the movies alone. You don’t have to share your popcorn and you don’t have unnecessary commentary in your ear while you’re trying to pay attention to Ryan Gosling’s abs.

10. If anyone makes you feel self-conscious for posting selfies, keep taking more selfies because you won’t look this good in your 60’s. (Unless you’re Christie Brinkley… in which case, maybe slow down on the selfie game).

11. Leave any relationship, friendship, job, or situation that’s no longer serving you. The time fillers, the coffee dates that leave you feeling drained and uninspired. Drop it, boo. Time is precious. Just ask any mom.

12. Quit chasing after the people who have left you, cut you off or abandoned you. Start cherishing the ones who have stayed through it all. The only people you owe your loyalty to are the ones who have never made you questions theirs. You never have to chase what wants to stay. You cannot convince people to love you. This is an absolute rule. No one will ever give you love because you want him or her to give it. Real love moves freely in both directions. Don’t waste your time on anything else.

13. Make amends. Friends, family, yourself. Let it go. Maybe not for their peace, but for yours. The more we declutter the weight of the past, the more room we create for the good stuff. And it’s all about the good stuff, right?

14. Focus more on being ‘happy’ rather than being ‘right’. Put that pride aside, hold on to your own truths, and let that be enough. I promise you’ll sleep better.

15. Learn to rest, not to quit. It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t stay there. Nothing is permanent. Keep going.

16. Stop handing out 3rd and 4th chances. Don’t waste your time on those who have showed you their true colors. Believe them when they show you, and move on. It’s not selfish, it’s self respect.

17. Chalk up all your struggles, disappointments, failures, and short comings as stepping stones to who you’re becoming. These set backs are not because you’re doing something wrong, it means you’re doing something right. It makes your sweet days of success that much sweeter knowing you fought to get where you’re at, and you didn’t give up.

18. Stop complaining. Count your blessings. The more goodness you acknowledge in your life, the more goodness the universe will throw your way. Remind yourself that someone out there would kill for what you have.

19. Drop the baggage. The grudges, the guilt, the mistakes. Remember what it taught you, but also remember the airline ‘excess baggage’ fee is not cheap. You’d be surprised at how liberating it can be to travel with just a carry on. 😉

20. Go after what you really want. Don’t wait for the right time. There isn’t one. There are 7 days in a week and ‘someday’ isn’t one of them. The Universe is never going to put it’s hand on your shoulder and say, “Today is a good day to start.”

21. Be uninhibited with your life, but especially with your emotions. Start your search for whatever you’ve been looking for and do not settle until you know you’ve found it.

22. Fall back in love with your life by falling in love with yourself first. Be kind to yourself. Forgive your own mistakes, try to love all your wounds, stop blaming yourself for the things that didn’t work out, and learn to accept all your flaws. The love that you give to yourself is worth more than any love you could ever receive from other people.

23. Lastly, know when to unplug. Know when to put the phone down, stop reading nonsense advice from some hippie stranger on the internet, pour yourself a damn strong drink, and continue on being the badass you truly are.

“Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong. Even while you wait for certain things to fall into place, may you never forget you are still free to thrive in this space; making the most of little things, making room for brand new things, fully living with all you have, even in your in betweens.”

-Morgan Harper Nichols

There you have it, folks.

A Letter to My Daughter on Her 2nd Birthday

My Sweet Milana,

TWO is quickly approaching. Sunday to be exact.

Each age, stage, and phase has brought us so much joy, a whole lotta laughter, definitely a few tears, sleep deprived stress, inevitable self doubt, and our fair share of challenges…. and a crazy kind of LOVE I didn’t even know existed in my wildest dreams. I wouldn’t trade one second of it.

Sure, your first birthday was filled with a lot of emotions, but it was mainly all happiness – I mean you not only turned one, but your dad and I survived our first year as parents.

But, two… two feels different.

Of course, in the moment – at the end of a VERY long day, I do a little victory dance. We survived another day. In the grand scheme of it all though – the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the long days that seem so long & so grueling that feel like an eternity… they’re not.

Do you want to know a secret? Even on the days when you’re most exhausting, an unruly toddler, when I feel as if I don’t have anything more to give, and I can’t wait until it’s time for you to go to bed – I miss you as soon as I put you down. Funny how that works, huh? You are my great love. My greatest source of chaos, and my greatest source of peace – one of the many conundrums I’ve come to accept as a parent. I can’t resist your smile and your laugh – even your silly fake crocodile tears!

Of course, even pre-child Jaclyn knew that time is fleeting and we’re not allotted as much as we’d like, but there’s something about watching you from the very beginning…. a tiny human who I felt move inside of me & witnessed growing from a little apricot, to the size of a pineapple – every week in my belly. “Babe, did you know all her organs are fully developed already?!”, I remember running in so excited to tell your dad. Reading about and feeling your growth with every passing week was magical. And, now growing leaps and bounds, learning, exploring… before my very eyes, everyday.

Suddenly, I’ve blinked (I should really quit doing that), and you’re a little girl – with enough SASS to run the world, SO much personality, a newfound sense of independence, my main source of entertainment & my biggest source of pure happiness. I could not be more proud of you – and at the same time with each new word and skill, I can’t help but also feel a twinge of sadness. (Comes with the territory, I suppose?)

I need a little longer. I need more time. I need more time to soak in all the goodness, even at times when the ‘goodness’ is grueling. What a wonderfully exhausting stage it’s been. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, for I know it won’t last and before I know it you will be three.

… and then we will experience a whole new phase of life. Together.

But, for now, I’ll enjoy you being not-yet-two. I’ll take the extra cuddles you’ve showered upon me this week, because in these moments it’s as if time is frozen when it’s most perfect.

I know one day down the road, you might be calling mom & dad up and thanking us for all the things we sacrificed and all the love we’ve given (I know I sure have – more times since you were born than possibly in my whole life!) BUT, I’ll tell ya right now… thank YOU. Thank you for teaching me patience. Thank you for reminding me to slow down and enjoy the little things… nature, rocks, sticks, flowers. Thank you for allowing me to see the beauty in this world that is too often chaotic, cruel, corrupt, and unfair. Thank you for showing me what life is and should be about. The little things. Perhaps, I had forgotten along the way. Thank you for being my sweet daily reminder.

Tomorrow we celebrate you. But, today… today, mama is a little blue – so, bear with me. I’m mourning the end of an era, but also embracing all the new and exciting things to come (doing my best, at least). I don’t want to miss a single second. I love you and cherish our sweet bond like no other.

You light up your Mommy & Daddy’s world like you wouldn’t believe.

You are forever my sunshine, little one.

Love,

Mommy

… because sometimes, ya gotta look ‘mom guilt’ in the face and tell it to EFF off.

‘Ello there,

So I’ve been neglecting this blog lately not by my own choosing, but due to the fact I now have a full blown teething, growth spurting, pint sized little dictiator on my hands. *Props to you mamas who can keep a clean house, a cooked meal on the table AND manage to consistently tend to a blog post.* I idolize you and think you’re kind of an asshole at the same time. I, however, am not that mom. Far from it.

Just when you think you have a proper schedule down, a babe who sleeps through the night, and you feel that after 18 months maybe a morsel of your sanity is slowly returning to where it once belonged.

P S Y C H . Reality swoops in to slap you in your overly confident and naive face. Reality has a way of doing that…

Between the growth spurts, what seems like endless teething, and the overall ‘Screw you, hippie. I’m gonna do what I want’ attitude in true toddler fashion… I have started to come to terms with the fact that sometimes I am downright powerless. Despite what the “experts” who have devoted their livelihood to the science behind toddlerhood say or the pediatrician who spends 10 minutes with you before moving on to the next hostage situation, or the lengthy articles that come with every desperate google search… sometimes you have to silence all the outsiders and do what’s right for you. Lately, I’ve realized that sometimes it’s okay to put down the parenting manual. It’s okay to veer from ‘the plan’. And when I say ‘plan’, I mean that false sense of confidence that you were ever in charge to begin with.

Don’t get me wrong – from day 1, I have acknowledged the importance of keeping a schedule and that babies crave routine and consistency. I have been the mom who has drilled the grandparents about bedtime routine, snacks to give, do’s and don’ts (like they haven’t done it before – but look how I turned out.) Consistency is key. At least that’s what I kept telling myself. I still believe it’s important, of course.. and if you’re one of those moms who has managed to keep a strict schedule, never turn on the tv, feed your child all organic, all while teaching your toddler Japanese – then bravo to you! You suck and you can move along now…

One day recently my toddler with her new sense of independence and defiance, said ‘screw you and your schedule. you’re in my world now, old lady.’ It’s been a rough few weeks for this mama. (can you tell?) Milana has seem to go from a helpless baby to an independent toddler overnight and we’re all having to adjust accordingly. There have been many napless days, fitful nights, and mid target run tantrums (it’s target for god sake… what are you whining about, kid!?) Turns out growing teeth is a real bitch. I’ve had my moments of frustration… moments of questioning if I’m doing the “right thing” as a parent. Throw it in the towel and give her a bottle to soothe her to sleep? Accept the fact that a nap is not likely today and save myself the stress of trying and load her up to take her to the swings? Rock her a little extra longer before bedtime instead of sticking to the strict routine that every book, expert, and doctor has drilled into every parent’s head? I have come to the conclusion that yes… yes, it’s okay to not always go by the book and stick to ‘the plan’.

These ‘experts’ I’ve been referring to will tell you to not give in. Don’t throw it in the towel. Don’t give up and bring the babe to your bed. Well, after all.. they are the experts and I’m just a clueless first time mom who’s just wingin’ it, BUT I have started to give myself some slack and put the guilt to bed. They say don’t interact with your toddler at nighttime when they won’t go the eff to sleep. Reinforce your dominance, mama!

Well, last night I gave in. Sue me. I would usually be kicking myself with mom guilt for doing what’s “easiest”, but not last night. Last night, I brought her to bed with us. We cuddled, we babbled, we laughed hysterically (probably due to the fact that all three of us are deliriously tired!). She wasn’t distracted by a toy or a book (or the occasional electric outlet). We had her all to ourselves. Just the three of us. Our own little world where I can’t help but venture to that dreadful place in my mind that tells me ‘this isn’t going to last forever – hold on as tight as you can.’

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those “last times”. The last time I was able to swaddle her up like a little mummy, the last time I gave her puréed sweet potatoes or the last time I watched her nap in her baby swing (what a blessed affair that was 🙌🏼). I don’t want those moments and ‘last times’ to pass me by because I’m so busy trying to do everything right. Whatever the hell the “right” thing is.

Now, before I get crucified by the crunchy moms out there, I’m not saying to throw your schedule out the door, let your tot take charge and hold on for dear life. I’m saying it’s okay to improvise and not always go by the book and to not beat yourself with mom guilt because of it. It’s okay to do your best, give it your all, and when that fails – to give yourself a pass, to leave room for those unexpected sweet moments in bed at midnight, even when it goes against all of your parental instincts. Leave room for those rare, bittersweet moments when you look at a loved one and are struck with the realization that your time together is finite and therefore precious beyond measure.

I cannot get this day back. She won’t always cry when I leave the room, she won’t always wake at night for extra mama or daddy cuddles, I won’t always have to carry you in asleep from the car. I want to hold on this wonderfully exhausting stage and take it all in before it passes me by… and not feel guilty about it.

So until then, eff off mom guilt. The dishes can sit in the sink a little longer, the laundry can pile up, the cleaning and scrubbing can wait. So quiet down cobwebs – dust, go to sleep…

I’m rocking my baby, because babies don’t keep.

Domestication 101 or something like that…

I guess I should start by saying…

My husband didn’t marry me for my cooking skills. Or my ability to do laundry. Or my promising future as a domesticated suburbs housewife. I think most likely it was my sarcasm, manipulative charm, or maybe I just have a damn good personality. Either way – he did. And thank God. Otherwise, I’d probably still be on the phone for Chinese takeout while I clean up the remnants of the grilled cheese I had lit on fire prior. That actually happened. I still have PTSD every time I get too close to a stove or accidentally turn on the FoodNetwork. Luckily, I married a man who’s a god in the kitchen and has no prior history of kitchen fires.

Though I never thought I’d be the one to ‘share a recipe on my blog’, mainly because of how 1950’s/suburb/housewifey/stepfordish it sounds and, oh yeah… The fact that I don’t cook – BUT it was THAT delicious and THAT easy enough that I wanted to share it with all you other kitchen virgins out there.

Last night we attempted Stuffed Shells Florentine. I say ‘we’ as in he did most of the cooking and I drank wine, chimed in with the occasional sarcastic comment, offered my unbeatable wifely moral support and charisma, and basically just got in the way. (Whatever – I cook really ridiculously cute babies and I’m going to stick to that for now).

Ingredients:

2 cups of shredded or chopped grilled chicken breast

2 cups of chopped spinach

1 1/2 cups of minced garlic

1 1/2 cup of minced yellow or white onion

2 tbsp of oregano

1 tbsp of basil

1 tbsp of garlic pepper

1 tsp of garlic salt

1 large box of shells

1 large container of ricotta cheese

2 jars of Rao’s tomato sauce (YUM!)

2 packs of mozzarella cheese

1 packet of shredded Parmesan cheese

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and cook pasta shells according to package


2. Combine spinach, basil, mozzarella, onion, garlic, salt, garlic pepper and oregano into a large bowl


3. After that’s well mixed, add the ricotta and mix thoroughly


4. Stuff shells with Ricotta mixture, using about 2 tablespoons for each shell. Arrange in lightly greased 13×9-inch baking dish.


5. Pour Rao’s pasta sauce over shells (or whichever you prefer – Rao’s is my new favorite).

 
6. Cover with a layer of Parmesan & mozzarella


7. Bake for 45 min at 350

8. Broil at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes until cheese is bubbling and brown

Voilà! Bon Appétit! 

“You won’t know you’re okay until you get there..”

‘Ello lovelies!

I have collected a couple of my meandering thoughts and ramblings that I’ve been reflecting on the past couple weeks – kind of sappy, kind of informative (maybe I really should consider a career as a movie critic?) Don’t worry, I won’t. but here it goes..

Recently, the hubs and I got to sit down and watch a WHOLE movie. Straight through. (WHAT?! Biggggg YAY for tiny parent victories!) We watched ‘The Hollars’… A.) because a friend recommended it & B.) John Krasinkski. So naturally I was already a big fan. P.S. the folky soundtrack is the BEST. An independent dramedy that depicts the emotional crises of facing death, divorce, bankruptcy, marriage, and parenthood? Count me in. Sounds like a totally uplifting movie, right? It has all the cliche, bittersweet moments and laughs one would expect. It ended up making this mama cry big fat ugly tears. Seriously, not the tears that quickly subside after the credits roll, but an hour later…. there I was. Crying like a baby. I thought Nicholas Sparks was the only had this uncanny ability to turn me into a ball of mushiness (except for that time I was pregnant and would get hysterical over a home insurance commercial – don’t get me started on the puppy commercials… damn you, Sarah McLachlan), however this one caught me off guard. There were also lots of laughs in between the sobs – as was fore mentioned about that whole pregnancy ordeal.

I’m no professional movie critic, it may have even done really shitty – that didn’t stop me from watching it three times in one week. This post is not meant to be one big movie review from the eyes of an emotional first time mama… although it seems that’s what it’s turned into. Whoops… But, I couldn’t ignore the parallels I saw with my own life, my own comically dysfunctional family, my own fears of failure, not being good enough, preparing myself for parenthood, etc. (Side note – preparing yourself for parenthood is a big. fat. joke. The books, the classes… it’s all a scam to take your money and give you a false sense of security and feeling like you totally got this and you’re gonna rock it! Nope. Nada. What to Expect? Ha! Read it front to back. I STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL TO EXPECT and the kid is almost 15 months old – and don’t get me started on car seat instructional manuals.. just my two cents.) I don’t think either one of us will ever know what to expect, but I guess that’s what makes it a grand, exciting, scary, and wonderfully exhausting adventure.

“You won’t know until you get there that you’re okay.”

One line from the movie that hit home.. And damn you, John Krasinski for the perfect delivery and perfect face, smile, everything, etc. The story brings together end of life issues and the beginning of life issues and the fears that come with both. The fears we have for ourselves, the fear we have for others… something I think we all can relate to.

My dear father in law passed away roughly two weeks before Milana was born. Within two years, I witnessed my husband lose his mother on Christmas Day and then his father weeks before he became a father for the first time. Talk about two years of an emotional seesaw. Not to mention the fact I was 38 weeks pregnant and we closed on our house on a Tuesday, started moving Wednesday, and (SURPRISE!) I was checked into labor & delivery on Thursday! Holy stress, batman!

He fell into fatherhood effortlessly – I knew he would. I swear, some days I think he adapted and took on the role much more gracefully than I did at times! His only wish is that his wonderful parents could have met his daughter and seen him in a light that they never had before – a caring, loving, HAPPY, and the most devoted father.

It made me reflect on the meaning of all that lies between those two bookends of life. You find yourself standing in both worlds – one that is full of possibility, excitement, and joy, and one that brings grief and sorrow. We mark our lives with such events, but life is really not about either as much as it is about all that fills in between. I saw my husband’s internal battle between being worried about his fathers declining health and also the worries about what it will mean to be a father, responsible for another human’s well being. Now we will be the parents, we will be the person that this little girl looks up to. Your whole life (in most cases, if you’re as fortunate as we have been), you look to your parents for answers, for guidance, reassurance, etc. I STILL call my mom with questions about, well, everything, most of which I’m embarrassed to admit and I can ONLY hope and pray I know the answers to those questions when it comes the time that Milana calls me up and asks about what’s okay and not okay to put in the microwave. Thank you, google. 🙌🏼

Back to hubs though, he transitioned so gracefully – far more than I can say for myself. The ending of one life and the beginning of another. Without skipping a beat, he took on the challenge and has loved every minute (even the ones at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m.) and doesn’t complain in the slightest. He has actually taught me more than I ever expected – of patience, balance, and keeping calm (even if you’re freaking the eff out on the inside).

What I took away from that line “you won’t know until you get there that you’re okay” is not to panic when life has it’s difficult patches. Once they arrive, you’ll realize you’re capable of coping with them and you won’t know until you’ve passed through them that you’ve survived unscathed. No matter what obstacles or crisis life throws our way, we got this and we’re going to be okay. You don’t realize what you are capable of until you get there. Mind you, she’s 15 months… so get back to me around year 5.

But for now, we’re here, we’re capable, and we’re okay. 💛

XO