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

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.

“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

Motherhood: a story about procrastination, reheating coffee, & witty banter with the Starbucks barista 

Well, well, well…

My dear, sweet, life of the party, pint sized dictator O N E year old is finally napping AND I am finally able to take a deep breath, enjoy a cup of coffee (which has now been reheated for the third time today), and write my very F I R S T blog post.

I guess I should preface this first post with the fact that I created this blog TWO YEARS AGO! I found out I was pregnant with baby numero uno and after the initial nausea, the constant ‘I don’t know why I’m crying’ spells, and the hours upon hours of sleep (what a sweet memory that has become), I did what most excited expecting mamas do – I started reading any and all mommy blogs I could find. The adorable babies, the joyful (and perfectly styled) mamas, the beauty of pregnancy… eeeeekkk! My love for fashion, photography, and babies inspired me to start a blog of my own.

… As you can see (two years later), it sounded a lot better in my head.

I hated pregnancy. I hated the nausea, heartburn, constant trips to the bathroom, the judgemental looks at my bump with no ring on my finger because HOLY SWELLING, batman. Judge away, mamas. I desperately wanted to be one of those women who loves pregnancy and don’t get me wrong – growing a human is beyond magical and beautiful. Women are BADASS magical unicorn superheroes. Throughout the whole process, I found myself calling my mom a couple times a day (sometimes crying, sometimes laughing) expressing how sorry I was that I put her through that hell and how thankful I was that she still even liked me. Okay – now I’m getting sidetracked…

Long story short, I got pregnant and decided I was too sleepy and too hangry to start a blog. Anyway, the kid is nearly 14 months old now, aaaand here I am! She is our world. My everything, my greatest accomplishment and worth every second of it. These are my absolute favorite days. But, mommin’ ain’t easy and not always pretty. Since my days are often filled with random thoughts, daydreams, and sarcastic banter with the cashier at Target or Starbucks (YAY for adult conversation!), I thought why not share it with you guys? So, w e l c o m e to our little world! Follow along if you like cute babies, fashion, sarcastic comments or if you’re just pregnant, sleepy, hangry and just want a little insight on life with baby without actually having to do a damn thing.

Enjoy! XO

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Email 💌: Jaclynmichelle11@gmail.com