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

It’s okay not to be ‘okay’…

I am a day late on shedding some light on World Mental Health Day, but perhaps that’s fitting… and perhaps it deserves more attention than one day. Procrastinating? Cancelling plans? (Guilty!) Wheels in your mind spinning, but getting nowhere? Any of that sound familiar?

I, myself, have suffered from my fair share of depression and crippling anxiety. Words that I never imagined I would put out into the world on display. I have a wonderful family, a daughter I still can’t believe is really mine, and an over all pretty beautiful life… so why would I ever want to shed light on the darkness the world doesn’t see?

It’s a weakness. The stigma. ‘Snap out of it’. ‘You’re just having a bad day.’ ‘You have a great life, why are you so bummed? There’s starving kids in Africa’.

Scientifically, no one needs a reason to be depressed. It’s a flaw in chemistry, not in character.

Imagine if you got blamed for having cancer. Or if your pancreas isn’t able to make the right amounts of insulin. The stigma that we should be ashamed if our brains aren’t able to make correct levels of serotonin is just… silly.

Though I didn’t plan on sharing this tid bit & putting my ‘crazy’ on parade for you all… I realized that would be contradicting the exact point I’m trying to make.

Shortly after Milana was born, December of 2016… postpartum in full swing. I was a mess. I remember the day like it was yesterday. The day of my husband’s company Christmas party. The days & weeks leading up, the postpartum was full blown.

I had heard a few things here and there about postpartum depression, but no one TALKS about it! I was too busy reading, researching, and gaining a false sense of security like anyone knows what the hell they’re doing while preparing to push a human life out of YOU! What to Expect When You’re Expecting… yes, you were a nice resource & I read you front to back. BUT nothing can compare you for what’s to come! Many days, I still don’t know what to EXPECT! (Except for that glass of wine at the end of the day!)

I was so worried about the pregnancy, the birth process… that I suppose at the time, everything that followed took a backseat. Not knowing what the hell you’re doing being sent home with a tiny little delicate human assuming & TRUSTING that maybe you’ve done a little research on that as well. The overwhelming lack of sleep being the next.

I’M A NEW MOM! Easiest birth in the history of child bearing, perfectly healthy baby girl. YES, I was on cloud 9! I truly had it ALL & felt complete. Fast forward a couple days, weeks, and failed attempts at breastfeeding & the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced (yes, worse than childbirth!)… it was a different story.

….the big whammy, the worst whammy, the most unexpected of them all – Postpartum Depression.

You would think that would have entered my mind at some point considering if you are & have ever struggled with depression and/or anxiety – you clearly have a higher risk for getting a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like PPD. But, at first I shrugged it off as the ‘baby blues’. Let’s face it, you’ve got a lot of new challenges – and a lot less sleep. I assumed (and kept telling myself) that the emotional & crazy overwhelming feelings came with the package.

Ya know what’s worse than the downward spiral, the non stop river of tears? Not knowing WHY. Not having a reason WHY (at the time, and in my nativity thinking that I needed to supply or justify one). I remember how helpless it felt not being able to convey to my husband, my parents, friends, anyone… WHY.

Though I didn’t experience the extreme PPD that I had heard nightmares of, but… depression is depression. The stigma, the ‘hush hush’ & silence that surrounds it, and the feeling we have to validate how & why we’re feeling the way that we do… is well, BULLSHIT.

BUT, back to the day it all came to a head. As I was scavenging my closet for something to wear to my husband’s Christmas party… should be the jolliest time of the year, right? Don’t get me started on finding something to wear. That’s already a challenge to begin with – throw in a post baby body & the endless tears that I just COULDN’T. STOP. It seemed downright impossible.

Through the tears, I managed to half ass some makeup and put on a happy face. And, just like that… I DID! Danced the night away and put a happy face on! HA. KIDDING. That would be one helluva boring story…

I assured my husband I was fine and to go ahead, but followed it with the typical wife, new mom… ‘don’t linger, I need you!’

Fast forward 20 minutes. FULL. BLOWN. PANIC ATTACK. I’m no stranger to panic attacks & crippling anxiety. I experienced my first around the age of 16. But, this one… this was one for the books. I felt like I was drowning, like I was screaming for help, but no one could hear me. The world was spinning, and I couldn’t find the damn ‘off switch’. Except, this time I felt like I was dying. Ya heard me right. Dying.

Yes, I had experienced all of the lovely tricks on the mind that anxiety can play on you. This time the physical symptoms kicked in – BAD. Heart racing, mind spinning, blood pressure feeling like it’s about 500/200.

Long story, short (kinda/sorta)... I ended up in the Emergency Room. Experiencing such a crippling state of anxiety, the kind where you think you might just die right then and there. I did slightly weave into conversation that I had had a history of anxiety & depression. They ran all kinds of blood tests, monitored my blood pressure, and vitals…

Enter Doogie Howser. Explains to me everything is normal, blood panel is fine… (as he looks at me like I am batshit out of my mind crazy) and then continues with the most condescending question I had ever gotten from a medical ‘professional’.

“So, you ready to get outta here? These beds are for sick people.”

I was in SHOCK at what had just come out of this dudes mouth, like he had legit just received his certification online that day and I was his first lucky patient!

As I sit here and think about the big picture and the stigma, the silence, & the shame that surrounds the mental health world – we as a WHOLE need to cut that crap out! If you don’t understand it, that’s OKAY. However, it doesn’t mean it isn’t so. I encourage you to do your research, to allow yourself a little brain checkup from time to time without the shame, and to check on your strong friends, too. Who knows? Maybe the ones who appear to be the most put together need it the MOST.

To anyone who is silently struggling: You are incredible. Nothing is more terrifying than battling with your own mind every single day. You make this world a little more wonderful, YOU got this, better things are coming your way, and you are NOT alone.