When it Comes to School… I’m Minding My Own.

So I guess we’ve found it, the new thing to shame each other about.

Sending our kids to school. Never thought we would be here, but here we are!

Day after day I’m seeing decisions about states and their counties roll in… and with it LOTS of opinions about what the right thing to do is.
Here’s what I’m NOT seeing. People using any sort of empathy. No one wants to listen but everyone wants to speak and we’re all feeling some type of way but honestly?

I’ve had it.

I’m a completely live and let live type of person. I TRULY believe in a persons right to autonomy and self determination (it’s the trained social worker in me). We may be from the same place, but I recognize we are still different.

We may have the same skin color, but have totally different traditions. We may be the same gender, but choose to express it oppositely.

You may breastfeed your child, like me, or not. I know that what I like, you may love, or hate, and that’s fine with me.

Here’s my point. This is all of our first time parenting during a pandemic, so it makes sense to me that ALL of us are going to struggle with it. Not all of the moments are peaceful, and we’re missing a lot of stuff we never thought we would miss. We are all in our feels.

So tell me why I’m seeing people seemingly obsessed with casting stones? Half of the teachers on my timeline feel like they’re being sacrificed, the other half desperately want to go back to work. Half of the parents on my timeline are terrified to send their kids back, the other half are planning to have the kid do a tuck and roll (saw a mom comment this and it genuinely made me laugh).

Each side is being passive aggressive, or outright nasty, to the other for not planning on doing it the same. So yeah, I’m at capacity for the “opinions.”

Over here, I’m going to do what I think is best for MY kids when the time comes. I’m still not sure, or convinced either way about what that is, but I know that the 10,000 think pieces being posted a day about what the right choice is no matter who wrote them aren’t helping me, they’re just confusing me.

Over here, I’m minding my business when it comes to circus’s that ain’t mine. Not because I don’t care, but because what other people do in regards to their family is about THEIR family. And I wish them the best, whether we do this pandemic thing the same or not.

I really do.

A new path.

A few weekends ago, one morning while we were eating breakfast on our patio, it dawned on my husband and I that we are coming up on his 10 year mark in the military. TEN YEARS. We love our life being a military family, so we’ve always known that we wanted to do this thing for the long haul.

After 20ish years in… the dude can retire! So, that means he is halfway there.

In all this time, I have fully enjoyed being a stay at home mom, though there have been times that I have struggled, especially with not having more academic or career based achievements. I’m at a point now where I mostly just enjoy it. I don’t resent being a stay at home mom, it feels right for our family.

Still, I would be lying if I said that I don’t have dreams outside of this role, and after our conversation- I wondered what life would look like ten years from now. And by wondered I mean… panicked. Ten years isn’t a long time in my eyes, I mean, look at how fast the first ten went by!

I knew in that very conversation that I needed to figure out me, for me. Because while I love doing what I’m doing… I don’t want to look back and say, “man… I could have done both.”

So when I started to imagine myself doing something, my first thoughts were that it had to be something I love and feel passionate about, but it also has to have an aspect of flexibility and freedom. If there’s anything I love to see, it’s people who are truly their own bosses. I had to figure out how to start building “a career” while keeping in mind that we will face three more moves, multiple deployments, and an unknown amount of “temporary assigned duties” in the next 10 years.

With an academic background in social work, I’ve always imagined that I would find myself working with people in some sort of supportive role. But what? I didn’t know… so I decided to do something I do a lot; pray that it would be made clear to me.

And then sometime that following week.. I had a dream that my job was to visit postpartum moms and help them out at their house for an hour or two so they could rest, eat, shower… whatever. In the dream, I was heating up dinner, cleaning a kitchen, showing a mama that “S technique.” Making tea nearby for her while she nursed her baby and vented a little.

When I woke up I remember thinking, well that’s a literal dream job if I ever saw one. I honestly had no idea at that time, that it is in fact a job!

For the past year I have intentionally prayed over and over that I would see clearly the purposes of my soul. Yes, purposes. Plural. Because I deeply feel that we all have many.

Fast forward a week out from that dream, and something in me just made a snap decision to follow up on a path I had dog eared years ago as maybe, kind of, possibly one for me: to become a doula.

For those who may not be familiar, a doula is a person who provides emotional, physical, and informational support to parents (usually the laboring one, but many times both) as they welcome their baby into the world. A doula is not a medical professional, they do not provide medical care, or deliver babies. What they do is work hand in hand with the parents, and sometimes the birth team, to ensure that the families wishes are supported and advocated for if/when necessary.

They aren’t there to force you into a natural birth. They aren’t there to convince you not to get pain management. They aren’t there to make you feel like you’re not doing it right. It’s just the opposite: They’re there to support you, in whatever way you need, wholeheartedly. They’re there to be in your corner as you navigate the incredible journey that is bringing a child into this world.

During my last year of college, I became obsessed with learning every thing I could about birth and breastfeeding. Every time a research paper was assigned, I chose something in the world of reproduction. I read a lot of studies and journals… and though I hadn’t really come across too much information about doulas, I learned so much. Enough to advocate for myself a little, and enough to know I wanted to breastfeed, and that I needed familial support to do it.

The first time I heard about doula work was when I was pregnant for the second time. As a young military spouse living far away from home, I found myself pregnant only 12 months after our first daughter was born, and was enamored with the idea of having someone there to support me. I remember asking one of my close friends if maybe she wanted to become a doula for me. The more I learned about birth work the more I thought… maybe this is something I could do after I had my baby. I remembered my mentors in my final internship encouraging me to work specifically with breastfeeding mothers. I decided to look into this doula thing, and honestly? I was way too intimidated to actually try. I didn’t feel worthy of it, at all. I was so overwhelmed with even beginning to figure out how I could make it happen that I shelved it almost immediately.

But as time has gone on, my interest in birth, breastfeeding, postpartum, and parenting in general has only grown.

So I reached out in some Facebook communities: any doulas here? Can you answer a few questions for me?? I just wanted to see. What’s the process? Is it attainable? What’d YOU do?

And then suddenly, a door I remember feeling too heavy to push open, felt significantly less so. My questions were answered, and then light bulbs were turned on in rooms I never even knew were there.


I’m not at the end goal yet. I haven’t even started. And to be honest, the closer I get to starting the more I’m realizing that I’m a little (okay… very) nervous.

I’m scared I’ll fail.

I’m scared I’ll convince myself I’m not worthy of this after all.

But now, as I wait for my actual training to begin, I’m realizing you can be terrified and proud. I know this will be hard, but I don’t mind. I wonder how I’ll do it, but I know that I will.

And I’m hopeful that when I look back ten years from now, I’ll look back and say “see, I told you you could do both!”

If you’re dragging your feet to start that thing, or follow that calling, this is your invitation to join me in feeling that fear, but doing it anyway!

Because: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear” – George Addair

A Grocery Store Story.

One of my faults is that I am highly moralistic. It’s a problem for me during times like now, because it can blind me from remembering that we all just don’t see things the same.

After years of sociology and social work classes and reading, I know that the reality is that there is no reality. We are all raised differently, fed differently, loved (or not) differently. Our experiences in this life are so unique that they could never be replicated, which is why even siblings from the same parents or conditions can find vast differences between their lives.

Even knowing this, it is sometimes still hard for me to understand why what is clearly right or wrong to me is not clearly right or wrong to everyone.

So yesterday as I watched a homeless black man get the police called on him, I didn’t know what else to do, except tell him that they had been called before they had a chance to get there.

I didn’t know him, but I as I bagged my groceries and watched him I saw him get ignored, I saw him get shut down, and then I saw him begin to offer to help return peoples carts in exchange for the quarter that it would yield.

He seemingly posed no threat. He certainly wasn’t harassing anyone. He had quick and clearly polite conversations with many people walking in and out of the store. With some people it seemed like he simply said hello.

I had watched him for maybe 5 minutes and could see that. I wondered why the manager who called the cops couldn’t. I wondered why she didn’t just go out there and talk to him… or maybe offer him a drink and a sandwich. I wondered why she didn’t see that calling the police on this man could endanger him for no reason depending on who showed up. I wondered why she didn’t just try to be a steward of her community instead of calling the police over for a non emergency situation.

I felt anger bubbling up inside of me because it all just seemed so wrong… So as I exited, I handed him what I had for him, and told him that the cops were called on him… and then I sat in the parking lot to make sure he left safely.

Maybe to someone else that was the wrong thing to do. Maybe someone else would have done more. In fact looking back, I wish I would have at least spoken to the manager.

I can’t speak to what others may think about my choice, and I decided in the car that I shouldn’t have spoken (even if in my mind) to what that woman’s choices were either, because I don’t know her. I didn’t even bother to speak to her, the same way she didn’t bother to speak to the man outside the store.

What I do know, is that as we stand here in this moment of what will be a historic year… we have to do more than wonder. And we have to be willing to do what we think is right, every time. Even if it’s small.

But more importantly we have to be willing to see where we could do more. We truly just have to be willing.

A Story Worth Reading

A friend of mine recently shared her story and I knew I wanted to share it here, because it’s one that everyone should read, and because I am crazy proud to know her. Though our stories are so different, I saw myself in her words, and I know so many of the people who share this space with me will too.

Follow the link below and leave her a comment on her page so she knows you were there!

https://www.laurendow.com/blog/eating-disorder-recovery-and-mental-illness-my-story

– Bryanna

On Harvard Opinions.

I’m sure you have seen it by now.

The article floating around that essentially says homeschooling is “bad” for kids and should be banned.

With nearly every family in the country trying to continue their children’s education at home… I honestly can’t even begin to conceive what would make someone think now is the time to spread that message.

There’s been an underlying debate, about whether the “distance learning” model most schools have adopted can even be considered home schooling… it seems like the jury is still out on that.

But, the fact is a lot of families are suddenly trying to figure out how to:

• Manage their house while everyone is home.

Telework or keep their businesses afloat while everyone is home.

• Manage their child’s school work and keep their behavior on track… while everyone is home.

It’s sink or swim. And a lot of people feel like they are either currently sinking, or they’re pretty damn close. Because (did I mention this yet?) everyone is home. And no one gets to take breaks from this to go on a “non essential” store run, or visit with friends, without feeling extreme guilt for possibly adding to the chaos.

As soon as I read the article, I was immediately transported back to 6 months ago. When I was residing in a hotel with my children while we waited on our lease to begin at our new home on base. Something that is pretty common for military families when they change duty stations.

The hotel was on base, so it was small. The room was the standard two bed, one desk, one dresser, mini fridge, and a microwave type of room. We still had about a week to go in the hotel when I started to see news stories and articles on social media about a study that found that 95% of baby food items contained at least one toxin.

We were living in a hotel.

Eating fresh and healthy foods without being able to cook turned out to be more of a struggle than I had bargained for. To be honest, it wasn’t something I even thought about until we were on day three of eating dinner at a restaurant. At this time of our lives my husband was in training and couldn’t be with us. So eating at restaurants, alone, with all three children was a task.

I couldn’t do it anymore. So I went to the grocery store and tried to find whatever foods I could that could be microwaved. I need to simplify my life for my sanity. Pre cooked meats, sides, and canned foods were the obvious answer.

Purées and yogurt melts for the baby were a staple snack during not only this time, but the entire month before as we drove all around the country. So to see an article saying I was poisoning her when I was already feeling vulnerable, felt beyond unfair.

I couldn’t help but feel blamed. I couldn’t help but wonder why the people who can stop the toxins from ever making it into our food, don’t.

I felt judged.

I felt shamed.

I felt like I was failing my kids.

I knew, deep down that I was doing my best. I was working with what I had. I was in survival mode and it had to be enough until our situation evolved. I knew that when things were different, I would be able to make different choices.

Right now, that’s what we all have to do. As we start to see “experts” talk about how badly our kids need peers and public education… how we are going to end up somehow screwing this all up – we have to remember that if we are loving parents who our children can depend on, then we are doing enough.

Seeing that Harvard article made me remember all of the people I’ve met who were homeschooled who are great people, and it helped me realize whether my kids end up homeschooled forever, or just for a season, they will be okay.

We have to filter out the noise, and know in our heart of hearts that it is there purely to make us doubt ourselves.

There’s a whole system built on making us feel inadequate. There are entire industries that thrive on our fears and misguided perceptions about ourselves and our capabilities. These cultures know that they do better when we feel worse. So we have to be careful. Not just now but always!

While we are all asked to fall in line, then blasted for it, we have to remember that we are ALL just doing our best with what we have. And when things change, so will the way our “worst” and “best” looks.

We have to remember that now is not the time for guilt and shame or fear of failing.

It’s quite the opposite. Now is the time for unstoppable courage to look around and say “I can do this…” and believe it.

Pandemics and Epiphanies pt 1.

These are some very intense and emotional times! To anyone reading this, I want to preface this by saying: I hope you are well.

It’s funny, isn’t it? How something so unexpected can change the way we live. It can change the way we view one another, how we treat one another and it can also change the way we love one another. On one end I’m able to see that honoring myself is something I must do. I must speak out loud, rather than in my head, because it is a part of who I am called to be.

And on the other end I know, without a shred of doubt, that for me this pandemic holds a lesson when it comes to this particular chapter of my life.

I’ve always believed that childhood matters.

I believe it’s better served simple. 

I’ve always believed that what you say and do when you’re parenting makes a difference to the people you bring into the world. (And I know, for sure, that our effect doesn’t stop when they walk through the world as adults.)

I’ve always believed that trying to better myself for my children is worth it. Parenthood is better served from a healed, and whole parent. 

And even though a huge part of me has always believed that my voice will become their inner voice at times… Somehow, I still found myself letting the little things build up and cast a shadow on who I want to be for them.

But now, they’re home day in and day out, and things feel different, so they’re paying extra close attention to what my voice is saying. They’re hanging on every word and leaning in closer than ever before (literally and figuratively).

At some point yesterday I made the mistake of mentioning to my husband that Italy had over 400 deaths in one day due to the pandemic we are all facing. I didn’t think any of the children were listening, but one was. 

“What did you say, mom? They had 400 ducks yesterday? Is that what you said, mom? Ducks? Why do they need so many ducks?” 

I didn’t have the heart to correct her. Because it’s too much. Even for me. I can hardly handle any of it. So I honestly don’t want her to shoulder it until she has to (man, hasn’t that always been it.)

I realized almost instantly that we are right back in our bubble we had a couple of years ago before they started school. When they were little and we filled each other’s days just being together. As we have become accustomed to them being in school, we also became buddies with the hustle and bustle of it all. The morning rush, the homework drama, the race to get to bed on time.

I realized that in that moment I could choose which direction her mind went. It could go toward the reality of the world, or it could linger in a child’s world where someone had 400 ducks around them. So I chose the ducks.

I’m starting to realize that though it comes weighted with worry and confusion, having them here with me is so far from the worst thing to happen to me, or the worst thing that could be happening.

To be honest, I’ve always felt like this part of my life was moving too quickly so to be forced to slow down a little has helped me see that being present is truly all that matters.Their screams and laughter and seemingly non stop bickering over meaningless things, like stuffed animal placement, all of that means they are still here at home with me. 

Their thoughts, hearts, and minds are more important to me than ever before. I want to make sure that when they look back on this time, they remember being together. So them being here is exactly right.

There’s genuinely not a piece of me that wants that to change right now. 

I don’t know how this ends. And I don’t know where this is going. But I do know that even though things have changed, and it’s been steep learning curve, I am so thankful every morning to wake up and see them healthy and still thriving.

I know that I’m going to have my moments because I am a human, but I also know that the best thing I can do right now is just love them, hug them, accept them, and loosen up a little.

The best thing I can do is try my hardest to serve them the childhood they deserve, the one I always wanted to give them, while I still can.

2020 Guide to Valentine’s Day

If you’re going to buy flowers, visit your local farmers market and florists. I loved the bouquets I could find at the Little Italy Farmers Market in San Diego, CA.

As you probably know… This week is Valentine’s Day!

Considering it falls on a Friday this year, it’s basically set up to be the ultimate “date night” for couples and galentine squads who are into that sort of thing.

The sad news is that if you weren’t making your reservations at your babes favorite restaurant, or getting tickets to that movie/ exclusive event like months ago, you should start planning to execute plan B… cause y’all ain’t goin’ out. Sorry.

Likewise, I have no doubt that the bars and night clubs will be packed with singles ready to mingle… I haven’t been blessed with promotional texts in what feels like 50 years, but I can vividly imagine what kind of parties are being planned.

All red or all white dress codes. A big selfie wall made of roses with the word “love” or maybe just some hearts. Free champagne all night for the ladies.

Ah, to be young and hip-ish again.

Deep down, I can’t deny that I love all the mush. Valentine’s Day can feel kind of performance based to many but I kind of live for it… for other people. Gift giving and receiving isn’t one of my love languages and I lucked out because it isn’t my husbands either! I think in all of the years we have been together, we have gone out out for Valentine’s Day once, and celebrated it casually a hand full of times. We typically don’t exchange gifts, there are no big gestures, and aside from fleeting moments while watching the Pearson men go all out on This Is Us… neither of us feel bad about it.

I will admit, now that we have growing daughters (who watch our every move) I kind of feel a responsibility to perform at least a tiny bit on Valentine’s Day… so i’m not ashamed to admit I actually requested flowers this year. I know, flowers die and are super cliché but I also know that in the little minds of little girls seeing a man give a woman flowers is what romance and love look like. I’m probably reinforcing some negative gender stereotypes or standards… But it won’t be until they are older that they’ll look back and see what our love was made of. So for now, I’m happy to help them see love in a way that makes sense to them.

While giving gifts and showering the apple of your eye with love and affection is certainly not frowned upon… I can’t help but think about what kind of gifts people really want these days.

So, if I may. Let’s get real for a few minutes.

Flowers, chocolate, jewelry, fancy dinners and sexy (but tasteful, of course) lingerie are hardly ever going to be turned down, but… It’s 2020. If you really want to be a good love bug, the best gift you can give are the ones that can’t be bought.

Instead of flowers give fulfilled promises. It’s time to think about that honey do list… it’s time to think about the things you have said you would do (or stop doing) and really give it your all. It’s time to start putting your clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor… I’m talking about those unspoken inherent promises, you know?

Instead of chocolate give connection. Put the phone down, turn the tv off, close the kindle app… and connect with your person. It’s seeming like true personal connection is dying, which is sad because it’s one of the things humans actually need to feel happy in our lives. From the moment we are born we literally need to be touched a certain amount of times per day to thrive, and going without physical connection has real consequences. Being next to each other but not being in the same place isn’t what we are created to do, so it’s time to get re-invested in your physical and emotional connection with the people around you, especially your sweetheart.

Instead of jewelry give joy. When is the last time you did something just to see someone smile? Do me this favor and this Valentine’s Day do favors for your boo bear without them asking. Think about what makes this person happy – is it a clean house? A full gas tank? A venti iced upside down soy caramel macchiato with four pumps of cinnamon dolce…? (Oddly specific.) Whatever it is, being the joy bringer is a gift not only to your doll face but to you too. It’s been shown that doing things for others has a positive effect on how we view ourselves. That’s real. Look it up.

And finally, instead of lingerie give their love language. The whole “love language” thing… I know, it’s probably a broken record by now. But people talk about it constantly because there’s something to it. You don’t have to be a best selling author with 40 years of marriage and family counseling as your career to know that love isn’t a one size fits all experience. What makes you happy, what makes you sad, what annoys the hell out of you… all of that is unique to you. And that goes for your sugar plum too. No one is a mind reader, but if you know your #bae’s love language… you can honestly get pretty close.

Listen, if gifts or fancy dinners are you and your sugar’s thing then definitely go for it. But to be honest, unless it’s been pinned on their Pinterest board… you can probably bet they want one of these everlasting gifts listed above. Just double check first. Cause this is all totally subjective. And get a card, regardless.

As a small side note, I feel kind of accomplished by how many different ways I referenced partners … also the fact that I didn’t wait six months to blog again, so if you want to give me a pat on the back for either of those things I’ll gladly take it.

Until next time!

30 Years + What I Have Learned in Them.

Man… It has been way too long since I sat down to write here. Looking at the date of my last entry really just shocked me a little.

Maybe it was the anxiety of moving across the country, or the fact that I had a baby eating up all of my brain space… I’m not sure what it really was that kept me away, though I thought of it often… I just had a hard time actually sitting down and putting my words down. But here I am.

I’ve gotta say, it feels good.

You know what else feels good? The fact that I turned thirty years old this week… finally. I made it. It kind of feels like I have been waiting forever (plus a day) to turn thirty. Seriously, since I was probably about twenty-four… I have been lusting after thirty. I always knew it would just feel more me. I honestly have never mourned getting older, likely because I don’t place value on youth in the way that others might.

Oh, sure. It was nice back when I could drink more than three drinks without having a hangover… that night. And yes, I miss the days where I could eat whatever I wanted without worrying how it would effect my “gut health” – but honestly, I love the idea of finally being able to view myself as a bonafide adult. There were so many times in the past six years when people would find out my age and audibly gasp with horror at how young I am… (see that, I still consider myself young after all.)

With the twenties behind me, and the end of the decade upon us, I felt compelled to do what everyone does when they turn thirty.  I deleted my social media apps and really leaned into the feeling of being my true age, and then I made a list of the thirty things I have learned over the years. They are as follows.

  1. Praying and meditating will always calm a worried heart.
  2. Loving yourself is not selfish, and is completely necessary to create success for all other areas in your life.
  3. Your relationship with your spouse should be one of the most important things to you.
  4. No amount of advice from others can compare to your internal instinct. Unless the advice is from an expert.
  5. A good nude and a good red lipstick are the only two colors you will ever need.
  6. Your word is all you have. Be careful with what you say and what you promise.
  7. Children are truly God’s gift and have so much more to teach us than we have to teach them.
  8. The lessons we need to learn will keep returning to us until we face them head on.
  9. What you put out into the world, is what you will see, and what will return to you.
  10. When you feel like no one is checking in on you, that’s a good time to check in on others.
  11. Active listening, rather than waiting for your turn to talk, is a skill worth practicing.
  12. It is okay to feel like you don’t have everything figured out.
  13. It is okay to feel like you failed at something.
  14. It is okay to feel like you made a mistake.
  15. It is okay to feel sad.
  16. It is not okay to live in that place, or to hold it against others.
  17. Being a parent is crazy hard but incredibly important work.
  18. You never have to do anything you do not want to do.
  19. Anything you do decide to do, should be in line with your values and morals.
  20. How people behave is a reflection of them, not you.
  21. Being right is not more important than being kind.
  22. You are an example and inspiration to someone, whether they are a child or an adult, whether they have said so or not, someone is looking to you.
  23. Keeping that in mind, the only person who is responsible for your happiness is you, so doing things in an attempt to please others is often misguided.
  24. Sometimes all you need is a hug.
  25. Sometimes all you need is some fresh air.
  26. Saying how you really feel might be hard for others to deal with, but dealing with it is on them, not on you. You should always say how you really feel.
  27. Closed mouths don’t get fed.
  28. Nothing in life is “one size fits all”- especially not yoga pants.
  29. The small inconveniences of life do not dictate your life. If it won’t matter a year from now, it doesn’t matter at all.
  30. Joy, play, and gratitude are the keys to your happiness.

With all that I have learned this far, I really can’t wait to see what the next decade brings! Happy Holidays, friends!

The Secret to Finding Your Village

A new friendship for Zoey.

The Tribe… The village…

If you are a woman, I know you have heard these terms. There has been talk about how we need to bring back the village. Apparently, the village has died. Which sucks because as it turns out women need other women, and mothers need other mothers. We need, in our very immediate circles, people who we know have not just our backs but the the backs of our children.

But more than that, the truth is that we need people outside of our circles to be willing to help, too. Because many hands make light work, especially when talking about children.

There was once a time when children could roam the town, discover nature’s delights, go down to the river (so to speak) and be totally fine. Parents used to set boundary rules (“stay in the neighborhood,” “don’t leave our street”) and let their kids live. Of course, some kids fell victim to tragedy but many didn’t.

How? The village.

People helped out, people stepped in. People weren’t afraid of hurting each other’s feelings by parenting someone else’s kid in their absence.

Studies have shown that while neighborhoods have gotten safer, parents have become more fearful of letting their children just be kids. Rather than leaning in to the statistics though, we have decided to build our walls higher. Both physically and emotionally. That’s definitely me.

I can hardly let my kids play outside in our fenced in back yard without imagining awful scenarios. I marvel at my neighbors who are able to set those boundary rules and not fall over from anxiety. And I know those parents exist, cause while I sit bench-side at the park or basketball courts eyes locked on my kids just waiting for the next injury… their kids are there too, sans adult. And doing just fine I might add.

There are times though. Certain situations call for an adults eyes and ears and since I am there anyway, I step in if warranted (which is seriously so rare).

Why? Because the village.

I believe that the village worked because people weren’t so offended by others parenting their children. They welcomed it, they insisted on it. Parents worried less because they knew other adults had their eyes open.

Something happened when we started hiding behind our cell phones. While the world suddenly became accessible to us via the internet, our real life communities inevitably grew smaller. We stopped being village members and started being lone wolfs.

Enter the: “stop judging other moms” trope. Also the “we don’t want your unsolicited advice” shtick.

This might be an unpopular opinion… but I call bullshit.

If we want the village back, we have to be okay with hearing the opinions of others. We have to stop thinking that anyone who offers advice is inherently against us. Seriously… what the hell kind of sense does that make? When someone reaches out and gives their advice why is our instinct to get annoyed?

In the tribe, when one woman sees another struggle with her newborn she doesn’t just swallow her words and mind her own business. She takes the baby and says “here, try it this way.” She doesn’t leave the new mother to figure it out on her own.

Women aren’t supposed to be doing womanhood alone.

Mothers aren’t supposed to mother alone.

I believe that. So I give unsolicited advice. If you are my friend you know this to be true. I will blatantly tell you what I have tried, what has or hasn’t worked for me, and sometimes even what I think your planned actions will yield you. Not because I think I’m right, but because I give a shit. Because I care about you, and because I believe I am part of your village. I want you to succeed. I want you to feel less stressed and more confident, so I share what works for me, not because I think it will work for you, but in hopes that it can.

If you want a village, you can’t keep ignoring the wisdom of other women. You can’t keep thinking your mom, sister, friend with (more) kids/experience just doesn’t get it or is out to get you.

But most importantly… you can not keep swallowing your own wisdom just because you’re scared of coming across as “judgmental.”

We are so scared to hurt other people’s feelings that sometimes we keep our mouths shut on really important topics. We want to come across as nice, but we forget that nice isn’t always kind.

So tell your friend about pace feeding, tell your cousin their child’s chest clip is too low, tell your brother to turn his babies car seat back around. Tell your neighbor their kid was being mean at the park. Step IN when you see a child doing something they really shouldn’t be. Yes, even if their parent is right there.

Give the advice. Open up your can of wisdom. Because without it, we all struggle, some of us make big mistakes, and it’s not always necessary.

What is necessary is community, trust, and true friendship. And it has become so clear to me that if you want that… if you want the village, you’ll have to open your ears, heart, and mouth.

If you are desperate to find your village… You’ll have to start being a village member.

Motherhood is a shit show.

At least, that’s what they say.

Can I be really transparent? Sometimes parenting is a struggle. Sometimes it is hard to figure out the right way to respond to that particular child in that unique situation- because I’m not a child psychiatrist… because I’m not a childhood development expert… because I’m not a fortune teller (enter those intrusive “how will this effect them as adults” thoughts).

Parenting my kids is hard because no one else knows my kids the way I do. Aside from themselves, I know them best, and I’m just getting to know them! Bet that’s true for you too, huh?

Throw in the power struggles, the attitudes, the boundary pushing… Throw in that sometimes the adults have their own things going on. Sometimes we are struggling with inner demons so large that it feels impossible to take care of others.

Throw in marital struggles, the addictions to numbing behaviors like shopping or wine or our phones, the “lack of personal time,” the endless chores…

Yep. You have a shit show on your hands.

But here’s the truth: I love it. So much. I know that probably makes some people want to gag, and scream at me to kick rocks. I know, because it’s annoying when someone tells you to enjoy something that is clearly emotionally (and maybe even sometimes physically) demanding. I get that.

But honestly? I think you can find something to be challenging, and still appreciate it.

I do find it to be hard and exhausting to be in this role, but I love it.

I find it hard, but I don’t find it impossible.

I find it hard, but I don’t find it to be hopeless.

It’s hard, and I’m okay with that. Why? Because it’s one of the most important things I will do. It’s my “sphere of influence.” The little people in my world, they are the ones I will influence the most. Ever.

I’m okay with this being a difficult task, because it should be. And I am tired of people out there making it seem like happy moms are happy because their kids are great… maybe they just have better coping mechanisms, and better strategies for diffusing situations. Maybe instead of looking at her and judging her for having it all together, you should lean over and ask her specifically how she would handle a situation you are struggling with.

I’m also tired of people making it seem like the mom who is a “hot mess” isn’t happy and doesn’t have happy kids! Maybe she just doesn’t tie her emotional well being in with appearances. Maybe instead of judging her for not having a clean house or for not “trying,” you should lean over and ask her for her opinion and insight as well.

What it boils down to is this: I know that this chapter, while filled with its trials and tribulations… while chock full of second guessing myself… while riddled with moments of self doubt and confusion… is also brimming with the most joyful moments of my existence.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling guilty for leaning into my joy. I’m going to make it my mission to silence that little voice inside that says being happy is for suckers. You know what I’m talking about… the voice that tells you that if you are happy something bad will happen to you? Yeah. That one.

Bad things are going to happen. Parenthood will always be hard, because life is hard. But we can handle it. (And if we can’t, we can be brave enough to ask for help and lean on those who can lift us up.)

So i’m going to employ every tactic I know to remember that now is now, and I’m not only blessed to be here, but also to have what I have.

I’m going to give myself permission to love being a mother. Like, really love it. Love it so much that I enjoy it despite its lack of curb appeal.

And if you have been waiting for someone to give you permission, well hey sister, you just got it.