The Loneliness of Motherhood

“But we push forward. Again. We place our loneliness aside. Again. We save making our mom village for another day. Again. We put our kids and family ahead of ourselves. Again. Afterall, that’s what any good mom would do, right? So we chug along day after day, heart longing for connection, heads unable to find the time to create it.”

No one ever mentions how lonely motherhood can feel sometimes. While you may be going through the same journey as someone else, no journey is quite the same and no one will really understand what it is you face or tackle each day. Even if we were to speak up, we risk the chance of being labeled as “selfish” or a “bad mom.”

God forbid you say anything about having a bad day, mention anything about the way you’re feeling or even have the nerve to ask for a break.

Every mama has been there… where she finds even the smallest moment to herself to just let all the tears come out, whether it’s in her car, in the bathroom, under the covers or when all the other adults have left the house. That one cry that she’s held in for what seems like an eternity because she fears the judgement that comes with showing her emotions or any type of vulnerability.

Expectation vs. Reality

Why is there this expectation that moms can never have a bad day? The expectation that we always have to have things together. The judgement that comes along with asking for something we need or speaking up about how we feel, we’re being selfish?

We don’t see any of this being placed on dads. Instead, dads are praised for “babysitting” their children. They’re praised for spending in half the amount of time with their kids that moms do. They’re praised for “helping around the house.” They’re allowed to have bad days. They’re allowed to be tired. They’re allowed to feel angry and frustrated.

The reality is, we, as mamas, have bad days too. We shouldn’t be judged for needing a break. We shouldn’t be judged for not having the house cleaned or put away by the time the other adults in the house come home. We should be treated like what we do each day deserves some recognition and that it’s not just “staying home with the kids and playing.”

How is any of that fair?

Behind the Curtain

I hate that there’s this curtain that we have to put up so that we’re not judged for our abilities as mamas. While things do get tough, we have to act like it’s okay and that we’re always okay with it. We can’t show that it’s breaking us or risk the chance of being called a weak mom.

When you’re exhausted, you can’t just say you’re exhausted because of constantly having to hold it all together, instead you have to come up with some stupid excuse. Lately, for me my excuse is this pregnancy. I’m not really sure what excuse I’ll use after the baby is born but I still have 7 weeks to figure that out.

Yeah this pregnancy has been kicking my butt. But in reality, what’s been even harder for me is having to hold in how I’m really feeling to avoid the judgmental comments and the feeling that even if I have only one bad day, I’m a failing as a wife and mama. I couldn’t possibly have the right to “complain” about what’s really been going on because I “chose this life” and that if it’s hard it’s “because I don’t know how to prioritize things.”

So I put up the front that things are okay, that I’m okay… when in reality, as soon as I have the second to myself, I’m letting out every frustration, every doubt, every feeling I have of being a failure out in what has to be a controlled crying session because any second, one baby will either need me or someone will walk through the door and begin judging me for crying or showing any emotion other than grateful that I get to stay at home and work from home.

In a week when it was meant to be celebrated for something I worked so hard for for the last two years to accomplish, I felt like the biggest failure in my life. Yeah, I finished school and got my master’s. But I’m choosing to work from home and to most people it just looks like I’m sitting on the couch all day on my phone and not doing anything worthy of my degree or recognition. In a week when every mama should be celebrated for all that she does, I felt like the biggest disappointment because there wasn’t any recognition or praise, it was just another day of chores and trying to keep everyone else happy.

Time for Yourself

It’s time for us to stop hiding how we feel and acting like we always have it altogether… Unless you really one of those mamas who has it all together then I gotta hand it to you, I’m not sure how you do it. I put on a front that I have it all together, but we all know very clearly now that I really don’t.

Mama, it’s time to sit down and be honest with ourselves.

-We’re allowed to speak up when we need a break
-We’re allowed to speak up when something is bothering us
-We need to reach out to another mama who won’t judge you
-We need to reach out to someone who has gone through it before

If you find yourself not having that group you can look to, I’m here for you. I’m still working on myself, but I never want another mama to feel like she has to go through all of this alone.

Here’s my advice to you:

-Give yourself grace and forgive yourself
-Make a playlist of songs you can listen to when you’re feeling down that will help life your spirits
-Put aside some time each morning or night for yourself and only yourself
-Create a gratitude journal that only you can see for the things that you’re grateful you’ve done for yourself
-Stand firm when you say you need a break and take that break to enjoy yourself

While this journey of motherhood can certainly feel lonely sometimes, it doesn’t mean that we have to go through it alone. We just have to find the right group of support that’ll be there free of judgment.

Knowing and Celebrating our History

“We all carry inside us, people who came before us.” -Liam Callanan

My heart is breaking as we hear more and more about the different events happening around our country where Asian-Americans are being targeted. With the most recent shooting that took place in Atlanta and it being deemed as a result of a “bad day,” it leaves me with a gut-wrenching feeling that my family isn’t safe (and one of the biggest reasons why I don’t go most places now without my husband).

The events of this last year have been disheartening to know that the country my family fled to for safety is now a place where many have turned their backs on Asian-Americans and the safety and well-being of our future generations. 

Family Story

April 30, 2021 will mark 46 years since my grandparents and parents’ home country of Vietnam fell to communism and they fled the country in search for a safer place to raise their family.

Grandpa was a General in the Vietnamese Army and knew that he had one last chance to get his family out of the country with the last airlift the Americans were doing for officers and their families a week before the country lost. He told Grandma to pack enough clothes for the kids that they could carry but not to pack anything else. Grandma thought it was like any other time they’ve had to relocate to a new place.

From what I’ve been told growing up, when they arrived at the airfield, Grandpa told Grandma that if she wanted all of their children to survive, she had to get on this plane with them and leave without looking back. She didn’t have a chance to think about it, to say goodbye to the only land she knew or say goodbye to her family. In order for my grandparents to ensure that all nine of their children survived, they had to leave behind everything they knew to start over in a strange land. Grandpa told Grandma that it would be about another week or so until he could join them, but that he would see them again soon. Little did they know, a week or so would turn into 17 years later.

Growing Up as a First Generation Born Asian-American

While I didn’t experience discrimination or hate at the level that some others have had to face around the country, growing up in a city that was predominantly Dutch and unaware of the different Asian cultures did come with some setbacks. As a child, it didn’t effect me too much when people questioned my ethnicity or asked me what kind of language I spoke before they even knew my name, but now as an adult reflecting back on my experience, I realize that I grew up around racism and discrimination for most of my life and I just didn’t realize it.

“Where are you from?” This was always the first question that was asked before strangers even asked what my name was. As if my country of origin was more important than my name. I was very confused as a kid with this question and always answered, “Michigan?” I questioned where I was from because I wasn’t sure what they were trying to ask.

This would follow-up with a “No, what Asian country are you from?” Ooh, so they really wanted to know what country my parents came from. Just because I was Asian, I couldn’t possibly be from the United States! I would simply answer with a “My parents are from Vietnam because I’m from the U.S.” leaving them completely bewildered.

“What’s your last name?” This was a funny question and always gave me a kick when I gave them my answer! Those who asked me this question didn’t even know my first name yet. As if knowing my last name could actually tell them what my ethnicity was. Before I was married, my maiden name was Viola-Vu- no big indication of what ethnicity I was because my dad was adopted and took on both last names- his adopted (Viola) and birth (Vu)- to create a new last name for him, my sister and I.

Even now with my married last name, people are stumped when I give them my name. “Hi, I’m Megan Swank.” and they would look at me with this confused look until I followed up with a “I’m married and took my husband’s last name.”

“Oh I wasn’t expecting that” The above comment always led to some version of this next comment, especially when there was a substitute in my class and they would be going through the roster. I always knew when my name was coming too and that there would be some rude comment about whose name it was. “Megan Viola…Viola…” for some reason a hyphenated last name always stumped them! “Viola-Vu,” I would say and raise my hand. “Huh, I wasn’t expecting that.” This comment always left me so confused. Like what kind of person were you expecting with this last name? Not an Asian girl apparently because there were times when they would ask “Are you sure?” Like am I sure that my last name- yeah I’m pretty sure it is!

“I mean aren’t you all
from the same place
anyway?”

“Was English your first language?” or “You speak pretty good English for an Asian person.” Why yes it was, or actually it was one of the two languages I learned first! Yes, it’s possible to learn two languages at once, especially if you’re raised in a bilingual household. My parents may be from Vietnam, but they made sure my sister and I learned English AND Vietnamese when we started to learn how to talk. That didn’t stop school from marking me as an English Language student just because my parents checked the box that two languages were spoken at home. This not only made me resent knowing Vietnamese, but it made me want to stop speaking it. It was only once I became an adult and I saw what an asset it was to be bilingual and how much others regret that they didn’t have this skill.

“The Vietnam War shouldn’t have even happened and all those people owe us for being over here.” This comment was made in a high school geography class during a unit about the different wars the U.S. had been involved in around the world. I was the only Asian kid in the class and on top of that there were only 6 Asian students TOTAL in the entire school. The comment was made by one of my fellow classmates who didn’t know I was Vietnamese and said that his family had every right to be angry about the Vietnam War. I guess his grandfather had fought in the war because it was 2007 and he was only a freshman in high school.

My teacher, who knew I was Vietnamese, a first generation-born Vietnamese-American and could see me moving uneasily in my seat didn’t bother to say anything to address the issue, rather he allowed the conversation to keep going and asked what others thought. I’m not sure if this was an invitation for me to speak up, but instead I curled further into my seat as the conversation continued and tried my best not to let tears show. The few friends that I had in that class knew that I was uncomfortable but didn’t want to speak up against the others either, I guess in fear that they would be lashed out for supporting a war that was “meaningless” to the Americans.

This is the first time I’ve ever spoken about this, but I vowed that when I became a teacher, I would make sure that NONE of my students would ever feel the way that I felt in that classroom. In every single one of my classrooms, I made sure my students understood that where they came from, who they were and the experiences they brought to the classroom were 100% celebrated and appreciated! I wanted my students to feel safe in our classroom, not scared to speak up about who they were.

“You don’t look Vietnamese. I mean aren’t you all from the same place anyway?” I’m sorry but what does a Vietnamese person look like or what characteristics do we have that other people don’t have? No, we do not all come from the same place! On top of that just because my family is from Vietnam doesn’t mean that we speak the same Vietnamese dialect as another Vietnamese family. Our country has hundreds of different dialects depending on where your family originated from. Throw in all the other Asian countries and that’s hundreds of thousands of other dialects, traditions and backgrounds!

Raising Biracial Children 

As a mama now, I’m realizing more and more each day the importance of talking to our children about the history and cultures they come from (on both sides). I never want my children to feel scared to be their 100% selves or to feel like they can’t speak up for themselves when they feel like they’re being treated unfairly or that they aren’t represented properly. I want to teach them to stand up for themselves when they feel that they’re being judged on their character based on the color of their skin.

I remember when Bryan was only 3 months old and I had gone to the store to pick up some pre-made formula bottles for him so that we were ready for our trip back to Texas and this elderly couple had gotten into the express checkout lane behind me. This lane was a 20 items or less lane and I only had 6 packs of formula bottles and maybe 5 other item in my cart. The couple looked into my cart and counted each formula bottle as an individual item and made a comment, thinking that I couldn’t understand English because I was Asian.

“She can’t even count the number of items in her cart correctly. So young to have a child, that poor baby is going to have a hard life.”

Yes, I did look young for my age and still look pretty young, but at the time, I was 26 years old, married, had a college degree and was working as a full-time teacher, but because I was Asian, they assumed I couldn’t speak English and that I wasn’t capable of taking care of my child. It took everything in me to hold my tongue, not let them see me cry and not turn around and yell at them. Instead, I turned around, smiled and asked if they would like to go in front of me since they only had two items and I had 11. KILL ‘EM WITH KINDNESS!

I only hope that I can continue to show and teach my children how to appreciate the different traditions and cultures they come from so that they don’t ever feel ashamed of who they are. This world is full of people who are rude and hateful, but it’s also beautifully diverse. Just like the family they come from, my babies will taught to appreciate the diverse cultures, traditions and experiences this world has to offer.

I am Human

Today I was a “bad mom.” Today I lost my cool one too many times. I had little patience and I yelled… It’s the end of the world! Or at least that’s the way society has made mamas feel like when they aren’t up to “standard.” What is the “standard?”

To society, good mamas are the ones that:

  • Bake the perfect cookies for the babies
  • Never raise their voices
  • Never get angry
  • Never lose their patience
  • Always cooks the best meals
  • Always has a clean house
  • Does the laundry… and keeps up with it
  • And the list keeps going…

If that’s what we’re being judged on when someone considers whether or not we’re a good mama…then let me tell you… I’m a “bad mom…”

We need to stop letting society’s idea of what being a good mom is effect the way we think about our own abilities as mamas! I’m going to be honest, there have been days when I felt like the worst mom in the world because I burnt the cookies or I raised my voice and had no patience. But does that really make me a bad mom… or does it make me human?

I have been reminded so many times in this wonderful journey of motherhood that someone else’s strengths may be my weaknesses, but my strengths may be someone else’s weaknesses. There’s no such thing as a “perfect mom!” Why? Because everyone’s idea of perfect is completely different from the next person’s! So why are we still comparing ourselves?

When did it become okay for us to judge each other in the way that we choose to parent our children? When did it become okay for mothers to be compared to each other? Every family is different, every child is different, therefore, EVERY MAMA IS DIFFERENT! Say that again! EVERY MAMA IS DIFFERENT!

I am Human

In the 3 years that I have been a mom {I’m still considering myself a newbie, I am in no way as experienced as those mamas who have been doing this for years, let alone decades!}, I have learned that as soon as I think I have a handle on motherhood, life throws me a new year of lessons as my babies continue to grow and learn about themselves! Being a mama is a learning and growing experience!

We are all human! We were not meant to be perfect, nor were we meant to have all the answers! I have learned to accept a few things about my parenting style and I’ve been happier because of it!

  • I will always burn the bottom of cookies and my babies will learn to love them!
  • I will lose my temper sometimes, but I will also learn to apologize and take responsibility for my actions.
  • I will feel like I don’t have it together 24/7 and that’s completely okay!
  • I will need help and it’s okay to ask for it!

As long as at the end of the day, my babies know how much they are loved, their bellies are full and they are clean, I would consider that a major win!

So stop comparing yourself to other mamas, or stop judging others for their journey and focus on yourself and your journey! We’re all human and remember we are more than just “Mama.” We don’t have to be perfect, or the best at it, we just have to know that we’re growing and learning with each day that we have with our babies!

Breakpoint Reached

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” -James 1:2-4 (NIV)

The last few weeks, the journey of motherhood has pushed me to my limits. It has pushed me to my breaking point and it has made me feel like I wasn’t worth being a mother. That I had failed my kids and that I will continue to keep failing my kids because I wasn’t good enough.

Last week, I allowed myself to be vulnerable and opened up about the trying week I had had as a mama and wanted to remind all mamas that we aren’t alone in all of this.

But what I needed to remind myself was that sometimes it’s okay to be alone. Sometimes it’s okay to need to stand alone and stand your ground when it comes to your children.

While last week, I hated being the “bad guy or the mean parent” to my babies, this week, I hated that I needed to be the “bad guy” towards my family. I needed to stand my ground and to be able to say “No,” even if it meant that it would upset some family members.

We live in a society that pushes several different opinions on us as parents and we are constantly being told or made to feel that if we don’t do something one way or we don’t let our children do something, we are not being good parents. We are not doing what’s been done for generations or we’re not parenting the way we were parented, and that’s not good.

No one can judge us and how we choose to be parents, but God. Only His opinion matters the most.

I truly believe that God not only made us unique as individuals, but He also made us unique as parents. Every mama and daddy’s journey through parenthood is completely different than the next.

Yes, we may experience similar situations and people may offer their opinions and advice, but that’s just it… Those are only opinions and advice. It’s not something we need to do every time or something we must follow.

Today, while listening to Sunday Service with Hillsong East Coast and hearing the opening scripture in James 1:1-13… I realized that while I may be going against the grain or what’s expected as a mama, I’m creating my own path.

I’m becoming a unique mama and not a mama like the rest of my family because every situation my babies and I go through on this journey is completely different than the one that anyone else before me has gone through. While we can use others as our examples, it doesn’t mean that we must use them as instructions down to the T.

“Our calling doesn’t come without negatives voices.”

This journey of motherhood will always come with trials and the opinions of others, it doesn’t mean that we cannot pave our own way as mothers, that we are bad mothers if we don’t follow this advice or we choose to do something differently.

We need to find the joy in our journey as mothers again if we have lost that joy. Or if you haven’t lost that joy, continue to hold onto it even when others are finding a way to show you that what you’re doing makes you a “bad parent.”

God made us mamas for a reason and brought each of our children into our lives at a certain point in our lives for a reason. Our journeys as mamas has a purpose and we need to trust that God’s plans for us will alway be far greater than the ones we have for ourselves.

God will make a way when there seems to be no way.” -Meredith Pizzurro

I’m putting my faith in Him that His plans for me as a mama is far greater and that all the trails I face on this journey is only shaping me to be a stronger mama for my family.

Dear God, I pray for all the mamas on this journey you have given us and that you give us the strength, grace and patience we need to be the most amazing examples of your love for our children. I pray for the mama reading this that she feels your love and your guidance on her journey and that she understands and embraces her uniqueness that this role brings to her life and her children’s lives. Amen.

Mama, I hope you have an amazing week ahead of you with your babies and if there’s anything you need, know that I’m always here!

Add a little “swank” into your life and follow your heart! Have an awesome week!

Seriously, Why?!?!

I could already feel the eyes rolling to the back of their heads as I told family and friends that I’ve started my own business. I could hear the “virtual” walls going up between us as they mutter “OMG! You too?!” Six months ago these reactions are the exact same ones I had too…

Now? I’m shouting “YES ME TOO!” And I don’t care what anyone thinks because I’m not doing this for them, I’m doing this for my family- Tory, myself, Bryan and Kennedy. My family and friends can either support me or not, that’s their choice. I’m simply here to share the opportunity with them, it’s their choice to take it or not.

Why? Would You Do This?

This is a silent question that I hear from the silence and unanswered texts from those that are close to me. I was told not to pre-judge people when I reach out to them, so why are they pre-judging me before actually listening to me, not just hearing me.

You really want to know why Stacy (I have too many friends named Karen)? I was getting worn out working 3 part-time jobs, going to school part-time and raising a family with my husband.

“Well, why you gotta work 3 part-time jobs for then?” (In the snarkiest voice you can imagine).

WHY?!

I’ll give you 4 reasons- two of which should need no explanation, but apparently they do-

  1. Bryan
  2. Kennedy 

IMG_5668

Childcare, for those of you who haven’t looked into it recently, is EXPENSIVE! On a teacher salary…nearly impossible for two toddlers, 5 days of the week, 4 weeks of the month, 12 months of the year. I’d be paying more in childcare costs than I was making and the waitlist was a year and a half out! It’s like we had to put our children on the waitlist even before they were conceived!

I was tired of missing out on all of the big, little, maybe pointless to some, moments that Bryan and Kennedy were experiencing each day. As much as I loved being in the classroom, I was quickly realizing that as much as I loved my students as my own, it wasn’t the same and there were two babies at home  who completely had my heart.

I applaud the full-time working moms, it’s not easy!

I grew up watching my strong, dedicated, loving mom work full-time as an IT Analyst, raise two very strong-willed and busy daughters and go to school part-time to earn her Masters in Business Administration.

IMG_1910
My favorite picture of my mom and I.

So you can see where I got my strength to pull off 3 part-time jobs, part-time school and raising a family… but this life and path were not for me! I’ve known from a very young age that when I became a mom, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m blessed to have been able to fall in love with someone who supports this dream.

Yes, we have been in quarantine, we haven’t been able to go to the store or get out of the house for a break and I’ve heard my name called about 100x before noon each day, but to say I haven’t loved each day at home with them, would be such a lie!

3. Something I worked hard to create

You remember saying my mom had two very strong-willed, busy daughters right? We grew up watching a woman that put 100% into everything she did- whether it was church, school board, school volunteer, her Master’s degree, work, etc.- you never saw less than everything she had in her to succeed. She got all A’s in her graduate school career while working full-time and raising two pre-teen daughters…well, except for the one class she made an A- in because she went on my 6th Grade camping trip, but hey, no one’s perfect right- she’s close!

What worked for my mom, doesn’t work for me. What works for other full-time working moms, doesn’t work for me. Every mother, heck, every person’s journey in this life is completely different from the next. So if someone wants to work a 9-to-5 job, by all means, go ahead, I’m not going to stop them! So why do they feel the need to insert all these opinions about my choice of work?

I’m proud of what I’ve worked hard to create and continue to work hard to build so that I can be present 100% of the time at home with my babies instead of trying to squeeze in hours of work into the late nights after my babies have gone to bed.

IMG_6086Before this quarantine, I was going to bed around midnight after I had clocked in some hours of work at the church and studied for classes. 2-3 days out of the week, I would wake up at 3:00 AM to be at work at the gym by 4:30 AM and working until at least 11:30 AM on most days so that I was only missing an hour of the day when my babies were up.

You can see how quickly I was wearing out, but that doesn’t seem to matter because people still felt they had a right to pass judgement on how I’m choosing to make a living to support my family. I’m building a business that allows me to be at home with my babies, but at the same time I’m still a partner with my husband to provide for our family.

4. A healthier life inside and out 

If I have shared with you this new adventure in my life, it’s because I thought that this IMG_6123opportunity could help you in your life or more importantly, I know how dedicated you are to living a healthier life.

Quite honestly, it’s just like shopping at your local health food store or makeup brand, instead you’re redirecting all your purchases to a “store” that provides healthier products for your skin and body. So it’s not about buying product you’ll never use for it to collect dust, it’s about replacing what your currently use with something better.

“When faced with an obstacle, a decided-heart finds a solution, an undecided-heart finds a way out.” -Cecilia Stoll

There will always be people in life ready to tear down you down because they believe that you should be living life the “correct” way or have an opinion for everything. It’s all a matter of how you take that negativity and use it, either as just an obstacle to overcome or a roadblock that you can’t get over.

My “why” will forever be my family and the only motivation I need to create a better life for them.

 

Two Under 2

“The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the center of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.”
-Jessica Lange

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It’s 10 a.m. on a Wednesday morning and I’m already on my second cup of coffee as my two babies take a nap (we’ve been up since Daddy left for work at 6 a.m.). In this first month of motherhood with two under 2 and my new life as a stay-at-home mom, I’ve quickly learned how much flexibility and patience it takes to get through a day.

Mommy’s Got 99 Problems, But Her Kids Aren’t One 

Going to the bathroom… Much like teacher bladder, mommy bladder is REAL! This Mommy is seriously driving that struggle bus! The only difference is that when I was a teacher, I actually knew what time I could go to the bathroom and just had to plan my breaks around my class’ schedule. As a mom, I’m not sure how long my kiddos will sleep for or how long Bryan can entertain himself before he starts screaming (loud enough to wake his sister up)! There have been days where I won’t realize until after my husband has come home from work that I haven’t gone to the bathroom all day (that can’t be good)!

img_5559Showers… I have never appreciated them more than I have now (granted I wasn’t allowed to take showers the first 4 weeks postpartum- check out my last post “Exhausted…Postpartum Recovery”– and I’ve only been starting this week)! It’s the only time I have some quiet to myself- not even complete quiet…I always hear Bryan screaming in the background because I’ve left him in his crib. I’ve had to scream from the shower to calm him down! “You’re fine buddy! Just give Mommy 5 minutes!” Or I’ve had to reach my hand out of the shower to bounce Kennedy in her bouncer when she starts to make noise so that she continues to sleep and I can finish my shower (all of this is happening when Tory’s gone at work- I’m not waking up, if I’m asleep, at 4 or 5 a.m. just to shower before he leaves). Having my hair dried and straightened when Tory isn’t home? HA! Forget it! There’s not enough time for that!

8 STRAIGHT hours of sleep… HA! That’s hilarious! I’m a big fan of naps and coffee now! img_5715Just when we finally got Bryan to sleep through the night, enter Kennedy into our lives. Now, as soon as she cries, there are times when she’ll wake up Bryan too! She’s not sleeping at night either! Last night, I was up from 12:30 a.m. until 5 a.m. with her! She was fed, burped and changed… Why wasn’t she sleeping? Who knows! As soon as I set her down in her bassinet she’d started crying! So I tried her swing downstairs, I tried her crib in the other room (maybe the mattress in the bassinet was too thin), I tried walking back and forth while rocking her. Every time I looked down at her, those grayish blue eyes (yes, she might have gotten her Daddy’s blue eyes!! YAY!) would be staring right back at me!

Clean house… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to keep a clean house everyday. That’s not exactly on the top of my list of priorities. I would rather be spending my time playing with my kids when they’re up, teaching them new words, letters, numbers and colors than cleaning up every mess they make or constantly picking up toys. The best I’ve done is kept up with laundry. Even before we had 2 kids, the most I swept and wiped down the countertops was once a week if not every two weeks. Life with a kid happens so quickly, I don’t want to spend most of it cleaning up! I read this article the other day on Love What Matters and I completely agree with everything this mom had to say about being a stay-at-home mom.

img_5494Work and School… Thank goodness I’m only working part-time and I’m somewhere that doesn’t mind me completing some of those hours from home! I’ve worked it out to where I’m going in one day for a 12-hour day, another day for 4 hours and the rest of the week I’m finishing the other 9 hours from home. I’ve been trying to study to transfer my Texas teaching certificate to Michigan, but have you tried studying with a 17-month-old? Bryan gets into everything! I can’t take my eyes off him without him reaching for my laptop or climbing up on the dining room bench to get to my flashcards. Throw in a 1-month-old who will cry just as I’m about to settle down with a stack of cards to look through… Needless to say, my studying hasn’t gotten that far.

Disney Jr. reruns and Finding Nemo… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched the same episodes for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Mickey and the Roadster Racers, Puppy Dog Pals, Elena of Avalor, Sophia the First, Doc McStuffins and Muppet Babies… Does Bryan get tired of it? Nope! He watches each show like he’s never seen the episode before. Oh and don’t even get me started on Finding Nemo! There have been days when we’ll watch that movie 5 times! I know the movie backwards and forwards now. Thank goodness we have Finding Dory now so I can at least change it out. But try changing it to another movie… he won’t have it! All hell will break loose! Disney Jr. changed their morning lineup this week and it’s been the old school shows like Little Einsteins, Handy Manny and shows I remember watching…Bryan hasn’t been the happiest (try teaching a toddler to be flexible…HA! You’re killing me Disney!). He’s been getting into more things around the house instead.

Mommy’s Got Ninja Skills

My reaction time in the past month has doubled! If it’s not one thing it’s another and there’s absolutely no time or ability to be slow! If I’m even half a second off my game, disaster will strike!

In my case, the disaster is my 17-month-old getting into something he shouldn’t, putting img_5694something in his mouth he shouldn’t, or about to hit his little sister because he’s playing too rough or he’s trying to climb onto my lap while I’m holding her.

I’ve had to lunge across the room while holding Kennedy to catch her backpack from falling onto Bryan because he decided to pull the strap off the shelf (yet I couldn’t prevent a can of peaches falling on my head the other day). I’ve had to sneak up on him just to put food in his mouth because he’s gotten so picky about what he wants to eat (boy, you’re 17-months-old! You can be picky when you start paying the bills- that’s what his Daddy always says)! This morning, it was me pushing the brew button on my Keurig before I placed my coffee cup under it (what mess that would’ve been)!

I used to be such a heavy sleeper, but after we had Bryan the smallest movement he made I would spring up from bed to check on him. Now with two, it’s like my Mommy radar is on even higher alert! When they sleep longer than they usually do, I’m still up just to check on them to make sure they’re okay (Kennedy slept for 4 hours one night and I still had to get up at the 2 hour mark just to make sure she was still breathing).

Bryan will make a slight movement in his sleep and I’m able to tell the difference between whether or not he’s looking for paci that’s dropped out of his mouth or he wants a baba without him fully waking up.

They Call Me Mommy

I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for the time I’m getting to spend with my babies. img_5701Don’t get me wrong, I do miss being a teacher as my friends and old students start school again, but I love every second I’m able to be home instead.

There are days when I’m not entirely sure if I’m able to make it or if I’m doing all that I can for Bryan and Kennedy. There are moments when I have to remind myself that regardless of what others are telling me I should be doing or what I’m doing wrong, at the end of the day, I’m just doing the best I can to provide a good life for them.

I live for those moments. Those moments that may seem small to everyone else, but to their Mommy it means the world! Like this morning when Kennedy was crying in her crib and before I could get up from my work, Bryan had reached for her baba on the table and tried to feed it to her. It’s moments like that, not captured on camera (although I wish it was), that will always be one of the best memories I carry of my time with my babies.

Being Bryan and Kennedy’s Mommy is the best “job” or title I’ve ever held. It’s by far the most rewarding and I know that throughout the years as I watch them grow, there will be even more moments that make me so proud of them.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.”
~Deuteronomy 4:9

“That Mom”

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you- plans for your welfare and not foe woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

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PC: Christopher Martin

16 months ago we held our sweet little boy for the first time. As we looked into his beautiful brown eyes and counted all his little fingers and toes, we couldn’t help but think of all the hopes and dreams we had for him.

As parents, people always want the best for their kids. We dream of dreams while they’re young and can’t dream of their own just yet (or at least voice them). We can only hope for the brightest future and for them to have more than we ever did!

The {Unwarranted} Opinion of Others

Since we have become parents, we have been on the receiving end of so many opinions. “You need to do this, you need to do that…” all so that our son “can be this or that.”

I’ve constantly needed to remind myself that all these are just unwarranted opinions of others trying to stick their noses in others’ lives. These are the opinions of those who think they know better.

It’s one thing for family to give their opinions, after all, they too only want what’s best for our kids (for the most part). The “advice,” more so opinions, that have really gotten under my skin are from strangers, acquaintances, or people who think they have a say in our lives. It always starts with a “In my opinion…” Let me stop you there… unless we have a relationship or I’ve spoken to you about my kids on a regular basis, I don’t want your opinion.

“You need to let your daughter be this.” {Do I really?}

“Your son is going to be (insert occupation/relationship/personality here). {Oh is he now? And you know this how?}

“She needs to wear this.” {Why?!}

“He needs to do that.” {No he doesn’t need to do anything}.

What needs to happen is others butting out of our personal lives when they’ve never been invited in.

Before and After

Before I became a mommy, I told myself I wouldn’t be “that mom.”

That mom that’s over protective. That mom that’s defensive.

Now, as I learn more about what our moms {and dads} did and sacrificed for us to be who we are and have all that we do, I can understand more now, why they were/are the way they are.

Those moms {and dads} are protective of their kids’ rights to dream their dreams and choose for themselves what path they take in life. Those moms {and dads} are defensive so that their child may never have to experience the unfairness life has to offer before they’re ready to experience it.

Have I become like those moms? Yes, I have {and I don’t mind it}. I will do everything in my power to protect my children’s rights to live their lives as they choose {when they can make those choices}. I will love them unconditionally no matter what plan God has for them. I will support them 100% even when it’s not a plan I had hoped for.

Why?

Their happiness is what’s most important! Not my plans, hopes or dreams. At the end of the day, I can dream as many dreams as I’d like, but what I’m concerned most about is that they’re happy, healthy and safe!

#Mommylife

As I sit here, sipping on my cold up of coffee {I’ve reheated it several times, but let’s be honest, when’s the last time I finished coffee in one sitting}, watching my toddler son nap and feeling my unborn daughter kicking, I can only prevent my children from the opinions of others for so long. I pray that they one day can understand that God’s plans for them are far greater than we could ever imagine.

“I can do all things, through Christ, who strengthens me.” ~Philippians 4:13

Dear New Parent, You’re Doing Great!

Dear new parent,

I know there will be days or situations that happen that will make you question your ability to be a parent or question if you’re doing good enough for that little baby in your arms. You are NOT alone!

In these first 4 months with Bryan I can’t remember how many times someone has said something or something has happened to make me feel this way. I wish there were more people, other than my sweet husband, reassuring me that I’m doing the best I can or that Bryan could verbally tell me that he’s happy, but there isn’t.file1-4

It’s sad that there are more people judging Tory and I on the ways we choose to feed Bryan, burp him or even let him sleep. Whatever happened to the idea that every parent does parenting differently and respecting that?! Did people forget that they were once new parents as well? When did it become okay for others to insert their opinions on your parenting styles and belittle you or undermine your ability to be a parent in front of your child (I’ve even gotten this from people who have never been a parent themselves)?!

I mean, yes, Bryan is still too young to understand what’s happening, but if he continues to be around people, even family members, that are constantly telling us that we’re not doing things right and go against what we’ve said, how will he ever learn to respect his parents and our decisions?

It hurts to hear that I’m “neglecting my child,” because I left him at home with his uncle and aunt (it’s okay to ask for help)- instead of taking him with me, because I know there would be an opinion about that too- so I could go to the store. Or that I’m neglecting him because I’m not letting him finish his bottle (when he’s clearly pushed it out of his mouth), that I’m not feeding him on his schedule- I just fed him an hour ago and he eats on a 3-hour schedule- so you decide to mess with his schedule and feed him anyway. OR, this one just irks me, that I’m not letting him sleep enough so he’s not going to grow properly. You are NOT at home with us at night, so you don’t know that he’s sleeping longer at night now and only takes little cat naps throughout the day instead of sleeping hours on hours all day!

If that didn’t get to you, here’s something that will! Your baby sleeps in his bouncer, swing or crib at home, but others think that he can’t sleep unless they hold him or carry him the entire time and won’t listen to you when you say you let him fall asleep on his own without having to rock him to sleep. So they undermine your authority again! They continue to carry him and create a habit that you- NOT THEM– have to break! Now, you’re the one dealing with the crying and fussiness because they’ve taken him off his schedule and routine, that you, his parent, has created.

It hurts to hear that you, the parent, have ruined your baby’s schedule and routine. Excuse me?! He has a perfect schedule and routine, but you didn’t think so because it’s not how you did things!

It is so hard to blend two different parenting styles while having to juggle the opinions of others about how things used to be done and how you’ve chosen to do things now isn’t good for your baby.

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It hurts being told that you and your husband had your baby too early in life because you guys aren’t ready to be parents (check out our post about how parenting is a full time job) and are too busy going out all the time. Really? Where have we been going? To work (so we have money to pay the bills), to the store to buy food and formula to feed him. We can’t take him to the  store or anywhere out of the house without being told that we are hurting him by exposing him too early. So are we supposed to stay cooped up in the house until he goes off to school?!

I’m constantly being told that I’m not doing things right or being told that I shouldn’t be doing all the things I’ve been doing- like going grocery shopping, lifting bags, doing too much at work (I’m not even sure how there’s an opinion on that considering no one that makes that comment even sees me at work) or even doing too much around the house.

I listened for a month and tried the recovery process that was traditional for our family {not everyone in the family even did it or was made to do it}, and to be honest, it was miserable! I couldn’t do anything I wanted-like shower, all I wanted was a hot shower after being spit up on all day or to wash my hair- I felt more disgusting the entire month than I felt helped. I couldn’t eat what I wanted, and even now, 4 months later, still get yelled at for eating certain things. That recovery process stressed me out more than it benefitted me. It makes me miserable even thinking about having any more kids because I’d have to go through all of that again. I know that if I object, I’ll get more backlash than I do now for the way I’ve chosen to raise my son.

Honestly, when did it become okay for people to insert their opinions, expect you to follow them and then say that you aren’t doing things right because you chose to do things differently?! When did it become okay for people, who have NEVER been parents, to comment on the way you raise your child?! How are new parents supposed to learn what works or doesn’t work for them if they are constantly being ridiculed for their decisions?!

So to my new parents, as hard as it may get or for all the backlash you will receive, remember you are not alone, there’s a whole bunch of other new parents experiencing the same things!

So when your little one isn’t having the best day, remember it’s all worth it when you hear that giggle or laugh. When someone is telling you that you aren’t doing something right, look at your happy, healthy baby and know that you’re doing the BEST you can! You’re doing great! Hang in there and good luck!

Sincerely,

A new Mommy that’s still learning

 

P.S. I know that there will be MANY opinions that come with this post, but someone had to say something and why not come from someone who has experienced a lot of it!

Parenting is a Full-Time Job

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Bryan’s first Easter {4.16.17}

Last week I talked about how it’s okay to ask for help when you have it (check out our post “It’s Okay to Ask for Help”). I have definitely missed having so much help, especially at night when Tory’s gone off to work (there’s no such thing as a break time when it’s just you and baby-just like that commercial for Nyquil: moms and dads don’t take sick days).

For the past month we had a lot of help from my mom. She came from Houston to stay with us and to help me recover and take care of Bryan. To be honest, she did a lot when it came to bathing, feeding and watching Bryan.

Mom created his daily routine. A routine that he has gotten used to and I’ve tried my best to continue it so that this transition is a lot easier for him (and for me).

IMG_2701It’s been a week since she returned to Houston (and Bryan’s a month old now) and we survived! Survived? I sound like I just came out of some sort of battle! Well, it is! It’s a battle against your own thoughts of failure. It’s a battle against your fears. It’s a battle between sleepless nights and curbing your frustration (baby feels everything you feel).

Growing up I used to love the idea of being a stay-at-home mom (don’t get me wrong, I still do and want to when the time is right). It is definitely NOT as glorified as it’s made out to be by society!

Stay-at-home parents (we can’t forget those dads; it’s not just a job for mom. Or quite frankly even those few grandparents who have changed their lifestyles to be parents again-but don’t get me started on that) don’t just sit around all day and wait for the baby to wake up or the kids to get out of school (HA! I now laugh at people who think that’s what it’s all about). They don’t go on extravagant shopping sprees, lunch dates with their friends and makeovers (well at least not 95% of them-there’s always the exceptions). It’s a full-time job!

I may have only had to do it on my own as a stay-at-home mom for the last week

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Bryan loves cuddle time with Daddy

(and for the next couple weeks until I return to work) but my hat goes off to all the parents who do this 24/7, 365 days a year! You guys are the best and so amazing for all you do (I hope someone has told you that today, if not, I am)!

I’ve learned that it’s all about establishing a routine and sticking to it. Yes, Bryan is only a month old and his routine may change each day based on his feedings, but there are still some things that are consistently done the same and at certain times of the day in order for him (and honestly mommy) to stay happy (and sane for mommy)! It’s never too early to start a routine with baby, whether it be bath time, bed time or tummy time.

I’ve accepted that dinners will be separate (occasionally Bryan will sleep long enough that Tory and I can eat dinner together). I’ve accepted that my dinner may go cold because Bryan needs a bottle. I’ve accepted that my coffee will be microwaved several times throughout the day before it’s finished (I now understand why my mom’s coffee was always cold or forgotten in the microwave).

I’ve accepted that I no longer have 8-hour sleeps and that I’m working on 2-3 hour naps throughout the day (lets face it, there’s still chores to be done when the baby sleeps). I used to be a heavy sleeper, but now even the slightest sound from Bryan and I pop out of bed like a pop tart out of the toaster to his side. I used to roll around in bed a lot but on the nights when Bryan sleeps in our bed, I’ve stopped moving and I’ve learned to stay on my side of the bed. I’ve accepted the idea that going to the bathroom is like a race against the clock (more like hoping and praying the baby doesn’t start crying).

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Family nap time-Daddy and Bryan are always out!

In this first week alone, I’ve learned a lot about what a parent will do or has to change in their lifestyle to care for his/her child because I’ve changed a lot in my own routine to work with Bryan’s. Ive learned how to do most things one-handed while holding Bryan in the other.

I’ve started to slowly get the hang of things on my own when Tory’s at work. The first night, I’ll be honest, I was so terrified of being alone with Bryan.

Caffeine has definitely become my best friend! I used to be able to check my emails, texts and pick up phone calls whenever I wanted, but now it takes me hours to respond and days to check my email just because I’m trying to squeeze in a nap, run to the bathroom or try to finish up the dishes before Bryan wakes up.

Would I trade it in for my old lifestyle? Not at all! Every sleepless night, duration of fussiness or cold dinner has been worth every second with Bryan. I have a whole new appreciation for all the stay-at-home parents!

 

I welcome all their advice because they’ve gotten it down to a science! I only hope that what I’ve done for Bryan has been the best for him. Everything else for me, can come second (definitely the opposite of how I felt weeks ago. Check out our post “Newlyweds to New Parents”).

It’s Okay to Ask For Help

We are nearly at Bryan’s first month of life and though it is exciting, this first month has definitely been one of grit, tears and a very big learning experience as first time parents.

17523613_1106777462801973_8635050676621369670_nThough I have learned a lot about what it really takes to raise a child (I’m not saying I know it all, because I’m far from it), I have also learned a lot about myself. A child definitely makes you think less of yourself and what you may want and need and more of what you can do to raise your baby in a safe, healthy and happy environment.

This post may contradict a little of what I wrote a couple weeks ago in my post about not forgetting that you are just as important as the baby (check out our previous post “Newlyweds to New Parents”), but in these last couple weeks I have definitely had a small change of heart.

It was a huge wakeup call for me the other day when Tory pointed out that no matter how tired I am, I still have a small human who relies on me to be my 100% self to take care of him. But how can I do that when I’m drained and feeling overwhelmed? How can I be 100% for Bryan if I can’t even give myself 100%?!

In this first month of parenthood I have learned that there are some feelings that others still seem to shame new parents on (in my experience, you may not feel the same), or at least we feel ashamed (I know I have) for admitting it to others. You know what, it’s 100% OKAY to admit you need help! 17861748_1106777876135265_7380787502588670829_n

I honestly wish I had realized this a little earlier because it would’ve saved a lot of restless nights of feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated and inexperienced and insecure. It would’ve saved so many nights where I tried my best to hold in my tears so that my sweet baby wouldn’t pick up on my mood.

Overwhelmed

Trying to juggle a crying infant while cooking dinner and making his bottle has been a challenge I have faced several times during this month.

I know that my mom has been here to help and Tory is home during the day, but I didn’t want to ask for help. I wanted to do it on my own, thinking that when my mom returns to Houston, it would just be me and Bryan at home when Tory’s gone at work each night. So my mindset was that I should learn how to do it on my own, right? WRONG (so completely wrong)!

Always remember it’s okay to ask for help when you have it and when you can! My overwhelming thoughts could’ve been spared had I just asked Tory to cook dinner one night or just asked him to watch Bryan while I cooked dinner. Instead, I chose the long, tiring route.

17862533_1106777692801950_4429030472683010049_nExhausted

For the first weeks since we came home from he hospital, I exclusively breast pumped to feed Bryan. As you all know from my last post (“The Breastfeeding Debate: To Breast Feed or Not”), breastfeeding directly had been out of the question so I had been working on a pumping schedule of every 3 hours. But what was exhausting was that the pumping, feeding and changing schedules never matched up.

So when people say “sleep when the baby sleeps,” they must’ve figured out how to do everything in their sleep because it sure hadn’t worked for me!

Frustrated and Inexperienced

Babies can always sense when you’re feeling a certain way. I’ve tried my best to stay17862760_1106777516135301_7102259811872923429_n as calm as I can, but I have to admit there have been days when I’ve had my fair share of frustration.

Frustrated that my baby wouldn’t eat for me the way he does for his daddy or his grandma. Frustrated that he seemed to cry bloody murder when I rocked him to sleep but fell asleep so quickly and easily for his daddy.

There have been days where I felt so inexperienced to the point of tears and I look over to see how easy Tory made it look.

Granted, he had experience with his niece and nephew when they were infants. Of course I have nieces and nephews of my own, but I just got to play the role of aunt and gave them back when they started to fuss. I had never had to play the role of caretaker, let alone try to fuse two completely different cultures of parenting together to raise our baby.

Insecure

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Left photo: 39 weeks pregnant. Top right: 1 week postpartum. Bottom right: 2.5 weeks postpartum

I know this doesn’t relate to asking for help, but I’ve also experienced days where I felt like I wasn’t in my own body (it might also have to do with the lifestyle I’ve been living the last month- check out our post “The Long Road to Recovery”).

I felt insecure (in the past I’ve never felt this way about my body) and I couldn’t openly admit it.

I wanted my old body back. I missed fitting into my old clothes instead of having to wear my husband’s t-shirts. I missed my toned abs (from years of being an athlete in high school and college). I missed not having to wear a bra 24/7 (I’ve felt so restricted, especially at night when I go to bed, they are not meant to be trapped in a bra all day!). I missed not leaking milk or bleeding all the time (this may be a “TMI,” but who are we kidding, every mother knows what I’m talking about and it’s no surprise!).

When would I go back to “normal”? Or was my new normal the little flab left on my stomach from pregnancy? Was it the new chest size that hurt my back all the time? Was it the swollen fingers where my engagement ring wouldn’t fit anymore?

How could I admit this without feeling some sort of guilt? Of course my body was different. I had 9 months of gaining 50 lbs. of pregnancy weight to prepare me for postpartum. I have a precious baby boy, why would I be insecure about my new body? This body brought me the best gift life could ever give me.

It Gets Better

Each day is getting better little by little, but I wish I had known earlier that it’s okay to ask for help, be honest about how you feel, and there are people who won’t judge you for it.17884078_1107761639370222_1145566842131192844_n

It’s okay to admit that you need a break. We’re all human, we can’t constantly do something 24/7 and not expect to need a break once in a while.

It took me a while, but I’ve realized that as your baby grows, so does your level of experience. The exhaustion, frustration, inexperience and insecurity will disappear and you’ll be able to do things one-handed, half asleep or even imagine it in your sleep, and you’ll be able to embrace the body you have no matter what size or shape it is. So hang in there, because you’re not alone!