This is great! I wish I had been informed about this before I became a mom. I used to be one of those judgy-wudgy people who disliked when people nursed in public. I regret this so much - I was ignorant and had no idea what I was judging. I had no idea I would nurse my own child one day (even when I was super preggo). I did not prepare. I would never have imagined how it would change my life in positive ways and how magical it truly is. I also had no idea how many people struggle with it and planned for it only to have their hearts broken. That some exclusively pump. That they sometimes want to breastfeed really bad but they just can't and their bottle-feeding has nothing to do with your comfort and everything to do with feeding their baby the best way they can. That sometimes pumping doesn't work and direct feeding is the only solution. That breastmilk is a miracle and its potential has only begun to be revealed.
Parents are out here trying to make it through the day. The last thing any parent needs is you judging or shaming them for doing their best.
Parents need support. All parents need adequate family leave to bond with their baby and establish breastfeeding. They need education around breastfeeding. They need access to resources and equipment to facilitate successful breastfeeding. They need adequate insurance coverage to buy pumps and hire lactation consultants. When they return to work they need time and a safe, clean, private space to pump. They need somewhere to store their milk. They need TSA agents to respect their milk and not treat it like it's some kind of security threat.
Notice how "they need your unsolicited advice, dirty looks and judgmental BS" is not on that list?
Feed your baby whenever and wherever. And really, you shouldn't have to nurse or pump in the bathroom (that's gross).
#sorrynotsorry #feedthatbaby#normalizebreastfeeding #fedisbest #transinclusive
I read a lot of mommy blogs and parenting article sites. My Facebook feed is probably 60% parenting articles, 30% memes and 10% people I actually know. It's ridiculous. Those of us in the supposed Xennial/Milennial generation (you know how I feel about generations based on this previous post) were raised on Googling. What did parents do before the internet? Cry all the time? I can't imagine.
But it's a double-edged sword right? There is a wealth of information at your fingertips but a lot of it is biased, factually incorrect or just plain dangerous. You really have to turn on your bullshit detector. And aside from official aggregate websites for this type of parenting information, you also have the almighty Facebook Mom Groups. These are safe spaces where you can post a photo of your child's actual diarrhea and you will get 50 women chiming in to tell you what to do about it. Before I was a mom I balked at this. Now I'm like - AWESOME!
That being said, I have one particular bone to pick. It's those articles based on a parent's ONE experience with getting a child to do something. The ONE time they got them to fall asleep at a specific age, on a specific day. This magic trick worked on their ONE child, and now they are writing an advice article. Me, the reader, desperate to get my child to simply go the fuck to sleep, will read this and think - YES! I have found the solution! I will breathe deeply while holding my child and she will magically match my deep breathing and magically fall asleep.
HOW ABOUT NO? Let me tell you something. My child has never been a good sleeper, but what I do know is just when I'm about to crack from the sheer torture of 2 solid weeks without sleeping through the night, she suddenly sleeps like a goddamn champion. She passes out in 5 minutes and doesn't wake up til 7:00 AM. Guess what I did to facilitate this miraculous sleep turnaround? NADA. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
Kids change - constantly! Once you get used to a certain way of things being, and you think you have it figured out, they change. They couldn't live without the blue cup, and now it's all about the green cup. That talking Elmo was their favorite, now it's scary and it must be hidden in a closet where it is now haunting your own dreams. Things are good for a week or two, and then you better hold on to your butt, because things are going to get cray-cray again. It's like kids have a built-in detector for when you're about to have a nervous breakdown and become all cute and sweet and "Mommy you're my best friend - I'm going to float on a puffy little cloud through my bedtime routine, kiss you on the forehead and sleep for a minimum of 8 hours."
There is no magic trick. There is only the inevitable ebb and flow of good and bad, light and dark, happiness, and near insanity. This is parenting. The less you try magic tricks and just accept that while sometimes things are going to suck, everything will eventually turn around. It's a rollercoaster with no brakes and everything is on fire, but it's totally worth it when once again, you're on that puffy little cloud with your tiny best friend.
Please don't run away! Trust me - you want to hear this.
There is nothing wrong with the word vagina. There is nothing wrong with your actual vagina. It is a word that describes a part of a human body, much like "elbow" or "femur." It's okay to say "vagina." Presumably, not at a work meeting, or in the grocery store, but you know, in private conversations with friends and family or medical professionals. For the purposes of this blog post, however, I mean specifically when talking to your children.
You do not have to say any of following, (unless it makes you super happy, but this is not just about you):
Maybe I saw the "Vagina Monologues" one too many times in college. But if being a mom has taught me anything, it's that kids are REAL. They are so real because they haven't learned how to fit themselves into a tiny box yet. They haven't learned social decorum, shame, guilt, etc. that keeps us wanting to take up as little space as possible with our bodies and our thoughts. When I talk to my daughter, I use the right words.
I learned in an adolescent sexual development class that there is no specific age to start being real about our bodies or sexuality with children - just normalize and be matter of fact from day one. If you are embarrassed, they will be too. I say "vagina" and once my daughter is older and has a larger vocabulary I will help her differentiate from "vulva" and "vagina." I remember hearing it called different things as a kid and I was so confused. I will make sure she knows the correct words so she can tell me if she is in pain or if someone (including other kids) touch her inappropriately (or if she happens to be exploring herself in public places, where apparently such things are frowned upon).
I never want her to associate her body or sexuality with secrets and shame. I want her to feel comfortable setting boundaries. I want her to be proud of herself and have high self esteem. I want her to know what is normal and what is not so I can advocate for her, until she can advocate herself, whether it's in the doctor's office or in her personal relationships. The shroud of secrecy over our bodies and sex is what leads to bad relationships, lack of sexual agency, abuse, sexual assault, etc. It's time to end the madness!
This goes for boys too - they should understand what's appropriate, what consent is, and how to appropriately handle any strong sexual feelings or surprise boners without thinking there is something wrong with them. They should know that a girl's short skirt or spaghetti strap is not an invitation or a "yes."
I'd like to see rape culture, body shaming and slut shaming end in my lifetime... a girl can dream. In the mean time, let's just start with calling our body parts by the right names, 'kay?
Subscription boxes - surely you've heard of them. They can be anywhere from utterly frivolous to overwhelmingly practical. I believe sharing is caring so I'm rounding up some of the ones I've tried for better... or worse! Full disclosure - My posts do contain my affiliate links but this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by any of these brands. I share of my own free will!
Full disclosure - this may get political. But don't unfriend me just yet!
So we are in a tough election season. Our two less than ideal choices are giving me flashbacks to the Kerry/Bush election in which I donned a pin that read "Kerry Sucks Less." We hoped for the best and we got Dubya. Many years later we're now faced with a historic win for either a first woman president with a questionable vagenda or a first rich idiot president (first?). I can't say I have studied their platforms in detail as the mere act of reading the 24 hour news cycle is enough to give me a panic attack. I will say that I can't help but notice that it stirs up some strong feelings in many of my friends and family, especially given our climate of police brutality and protesting footballers.
Often the frustrated exclamation of both liberals and conservatives alike is "if you don't agree with me, then just UNFRIEND ME!" We are either #BlueLivesMatter or #BlackLivesMatter, as if the two were mutually exclusive. As if the solution to all of our problems is to isolate ourselves into distinct tribes in which we only speak with those whom we agree. I can't really blame people for being exhausted and feeling as though talking to their brick wall opposites has simply become unproductive. Everyone is just fed up.
But if all of our social media feeds are simply two opposite viewpoints howling into the void, garnering attention from only like minds, and pushing us further and further into opposing camps... how are we supposed to function as a society? Is our sole purpose in life only to be surrounded by those who think and feel exactly as we do? Or perhaps is it better to be challenged by a fresh perspective, forced to justify your own thoughts and feelings with facts and research, and perhaps consider changing your mind upon learning something new?
If I only surrounded myself with people who agreed with me, I would have no family and I would not be married to my husband. I often questioned my choice to date and then marry a conservative when my heart so clearly bled for the liberal feminist cause. For many years it's been "agree to disagree" on some issues and to find common ground in our shared values - the things that really matter and are non-negotiable. But when it gets to be this tough - a moment in history when we are all on the edge of breaking - agreeing to disagree is no longer good enough. To avoid discussing these big ideas would be detrimental to our relationship in the long term. And as we raise a child together, we seek to model compassion and respectful communication. So why stop there?
We must seek to understand each other, even if we can't agree. Instead of being defensive, we must be curious. Surely there are people on either side of the aisle who are out of their minds and make the rest of us moderate, level-headed folks feel wary and hold grudges against the group at large. The media loves to feed us sensational headlines that make both sides look like idiots and make us further want to defend our position (because we sorta agree with those idiots... but we're not idiots... are we?).
This is not to say that anyone should continue to endure any type of abuse or outright hatred directed at them. I would never begrudge someone to zealously unfriend a bigot, racist, sexist, xenophobe or other hateful person. I also understand how exhausting it can be to explain the same things over and over again to those who refuse to listen, learn, or budge even one bit towards returning your generosity of spirit and openness. By all means - maintain your sanity and wellbeing by disposing of toxic relationships. For those that you do love and trust, and ultimately feel you can both teach and learn from, be sure to give them a chance.
I can go on and tell you why I'm voting for Hilary even though she's not perfect and I can try to convince you that Trump is a terrible, terrible person. But I probably won't. Because like you - I'm scared of how hard it will be to disagree with you - someone I care about. But I won't tell you to unfriend me. Because maybe, just maybe - we should talk about it and come together instead of turning our backs on each other. Because maybe now, more than ever, we need each other.
I don't really set New Year's Resolutions. I always feel they are unrealistic, and winter is the time of year where I most prefer not to move, exert myself, or really go outside. I hibernate. I'm certainly not making any drastic life changes.
This past year, I became a mom. And for those of you that have crossed the threshold into parenthood, you know what that feels like. It's like a switch is flipped and suddenly everything you've ever thought, believed, wanted, or known snaps clearly into focus. Your values, your deeply held convictions, all become crystal clear. You know what is important now, and what is a bunch of crap you can't be bothered with.
It may also come with age - being in your thirties means you've tried on a few different hats. Maybe you've had three or four "big girl jobs." You know what you're good at, and what you're not. In a lot of ways you have paid your dues and are maybe setting your sights on what the next 20-30 years of your career will look like. (Anyone else shudder when they read that?)
So I didn't make a New Year's Resolution. I know who I am, and I do not resolve. I did get hold of a cool journal, called the 52 Lists Project. I decided this would be my year of #selfcare and#selfreflection and #selflove. Yes, I use hashtags in all my writing now. (Thanks, internet)
I don't spend a lot of time thinking about myself these days. I spend a lot of time playing mindless games like Candy Crush and rotating between Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. At the end of a busy day of adulting and momming, the last thing I want to do is work on myself. But I need to. We all do.
I've been in therapy for about a year now. I've learned a lot about myself. I've learned about how I am in relationships, how I deal with conflict, and what I need to work on. The main thing I realized is that despite getting everything I've ever wanted in life - the husband, the house, the baby, amazing job, is that something was still missing. How could something still be missing? I beat myself up for not being grateful enough.
Was it spirituality? A connection to God? I went to church a few times and no, it wasn't that. Although church can be lovely. Was it friendship? My friendships have certainly changed significantly since becoming a mom, but I talk to my best friend almost every day and I've made an effort to stay connected to most of them despite our busy schedules. So what was it?
The answer: ME. I am missing me. In everything I do, I am other-focused. Not because I'm a saint, but because I abandon myself. In every day and every chance I get I find a way to forget myself or put myself last. Who's fault is that? Sure it's easy to blame one's parents, the media, one's partner, and, obviously the patriarchy. But given my relative privilege it's time to stop blaming everyone and everything else. It's time to put in the work and start taking care of myself for real.
I'm grateful for my experiences. I'm grateful for the journey. And in some ways, even though it feels like I've gotten "everything I've ever wanted," my journey is just beginning. When I strip away the blame, when I strip away the guilt, when I strip away the "should haves" all that is left is me. It's both terrifying and exhilarating - but here goes nothing.
My whole life I have not enjoyed exercising. Gym glass was always tough for me as a kid. I could not run very fast or for very long. I could not climb the rope. I did not enjoy the monkey bars. I preferred to spend recess curled up under a tree with my diary, recording my playground observations, or with my latest book. When forced to interact, I would chill at the top of whatever tall structure there was and chat with my friends, or teach them French vocabulary. I took 1 dance class, did soccer for 1 season, and took all the light sports in high school: archery, step aerobics, even "aerobic walking." HA! I ran a cool 10-12 minute mile and nearly barfed afterwards. I did not pretend to be sporty.
As an adult, my exercise became tromping through the city streets, dodging slow walkers. It became hauling ass up and down subway stairs and running to catch the train before the door closed. It became hauling groceries up 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. Only when I returned to my native land of NJ did I realize what I thought was a sedentary life was actually quite active.
1 pregnancy, and 10-20 pounds of weight gain later, I have been hit with the reality of my aging mom bod. In addition to my loathing for the gym and physical activity in general, I also enjoy the finer things in life, mainly delicious food that is bad for me. Bacon, fried anything, cheese, carbs on carbs on carbs. I absolutely love food. I know that any weight I put on is my own fault but yet I don't care. I'd rather be fat and happy and enjoy my life, to be honest!
And then: A routine physical and a blood test revealed elevated liver enzymes - this was the wakeup call I needed.
A friend of mine who is into yoga, healthy eating, and all things organic shared a free workout plan with me by Betty Rocker. Normally I am one to cringe at these types of things. I hate working out. I hate challenges. I hate being told what to do. Something about this one felt different though. I have to say - I really like her. She is genuine, encouraging, sweet, and energetic. She feels like a person I would be friends with - not some intimidating gym person spouting "No excuses!" (Because trust me, I am really good at coming up with excuses).
I also was browsing Pinterest and came across 100 days of Real Food. I am always trying to figure out what to feed my finicky one-year old, who rejects food she loved only the day before. It only so happens that when mommy is quietly enjoying her own delicious food (or her rejects) that she shows a sudden interest. I started to think that it would be really nice to be able to feed her off my plate without having to grab the box and read the list of ingredients.
It also occurred to me that if I am so concerned about putting the right food into her little growing body, why am I not affording myself the same courtesy? Why don't I value my own body as much as hers? Why do I consume chemicals, fat and salt and not think twice about the damage I may doing whereas with her it is my primary concern? Obviously it's because I'm her mama and I'd move heaven and earth to give her the best of everything because SHE is my everything. But what about me? Where do I fit in? How many times do I forget to value myself? Where am I?
So I started Betty Rocker and I must say I was really impressed with what I am truly capable of (not to say I didn't sob audibly through the first 4 or 5 workouts). But 15-20 minutes a day when I would otherwise be crushing candy is not that much of a commitment. The noticeable changes in my strength, the mood lift, and the energy increase were all palpable. I finally broke free of the "exercise is not for me mindset" and it felt really good.
I have an "I'm a bad cook" mindset also and default to microwaveable meals whenever possible. But I started a 100 days of Real Food meal plan with my family anyway. Thanks to the meal plans and shopping lists I made some gorgeous meals like Halibut with sweet potato and fresh green beans, and a whole chicken in a crock pot which became stock, which became soup. I felt like a galdang pioneer woman!
It all boils down to a choice and the readiness and willingness to make that choice. It's not about not making excuses - sometimes we really just can't or don't want to do things and I don't think we should have more guilt thrown at us by holier than though "experts" who know nothing about us. I think the best thing is to realize that you are worth it, that you are capable, and you will actually enjoy it. Do it when you're ready, and do it in a way that is authentic to you. Take care of yourself and love yourself - you're worth it!
I love making teacher appreciation gifts. Mostly because...Pinterest, but in all seriousness, teachers deserve our thanks. Having accidentally stumbled upon a job posting for my child's own daycare I was saddened to see how little they make. These women who are going or have gone to school, earned degrees and numerous certifications, all so they can not only keep our children alive for most of the day, but come up with unique and fun lessons and activities to stimulate their tiny minds and help them grow. My child loves her teachers as evidenced by her leaping out of my arms and into her teacher's for an extended snuggle upon returning from our week-long vacation. The fact that teachers cannot afford their own services on their salary is appalling and is a stark reminder of the need for childcare support and reform on so many levels. But I digress. If I can put a smile on their face and tell them how much they mean to both me and my child, gosh darn it I'm gonna do it!
So, full disclosure, I am not a good cook, or a "foodie" or any way at all skilled in the realm of food. However, mama does love to eat! This is a simple, filling meal you can have for breakfast or lunch (or elevensies for the breastfeeding mamas).
The ingredients are simple:
Enjoy! The best part of this is you can eat it cold ten minutes later because your baby won't let you sit down, and it will still be delicious. It also helps you stay full for a while which is good when you're running around like crazy.
I also like to think that the healthy fat from the avocado is canceling out the bad fat from the bacon, so it's like the ultimate health food. Trust me, I'm not a nutritionist!
I hope you enjoy this tasty meal. I know I will!
What are some easy, delicious treats you make for yourself?
Check out my Multimedia Portfolio for a webinar series of three on-demand workshops I did for student parents. In addition to these presentations I compiled some awesome resources. While mostly for college students, a lot of these resources were also helpful to me as a new working mother. i hope you enjoy!
Articles and Websites:
Planning Tools for Busy Parents
Fun Things to do with Your Kids
Nice to meet you!
I am a tech pro, blogger, DIY'er, reader, TV binger, music lover, nerd and semi-crunchy mom. I write about professional development, being crafty, motherhood and politics. Thanks for joining me and letting me share my thoughts with you!