Things I NEED My Children to Know

I don’t want to give them everything, I want them to know how to be happy with just enough. I don’t want to fill them with soul crushing standards, I want them to know that it’s okay to be multi-faceted. I don’t want them to think they always have to be happy, I want them to know that it’s okay to not feel like laughing (especially when the joke wasn’t funny).

I want them to know it’s okay to not look perfect, and that it’s okay to not have or do what everyone else has or does. It’s okay to choose to let small things roll off your shoulders for the sake of your own sanity, or to say no and not feel bad about it.

I want them to know that how they feel matters, and that it’s also completely within their control to decide to act or not act on that. I want them to know that NO ONE, not even me, gets to decide who they are.

I want them to know how to forgive themselves when they desperately need to. I want them to know that when they see others enjoying massive success, that it does not diminish their own success, and that those people are still human, and they too, cannot possibly be perfect, even if it looks that way.

I don’t want them to hold bad days against themselves, I want them to know in their heart of hearts that everyone, even the people who swear they don’t, has bad days, and that everyone, even them, deserves gentleness on those days.

I don’t want them to waste precious time hating their body, I want them to know that their body is just a vessel. It could be slimmer, it could be stronger, it could be a million other things, but it would not change WHO they are. I don’t want them to mistake a persons attractiveness (or what they may see as a lack thereof) as an indicator of personality traits – I want them to know that nothing could be further from true. I want them to know that a person can be a super model and still be a really rude and demeaning person, and that a person can be “average” or “ugly”, and still be the kindest soul on earth.

And I want them to know that when it comes to me, their mom, there is no perfection here, so they don’t need to bother trying be just like me, they can instead be just like them, and know that I will still love them.

A Fun Weekend in San Diego

A couple of weekends ago we were able to check off two of our San Diego Bucket List items AND do some of it with some of our close friends who stopped in from Florida on their way to Mexico.

I think one of the best parts of our current duty station is that we are in a city lots of people don’t mind visiting before they head out on (or home from) their vacations. It’s kind of hard to resist sunny San Diego, and Southern California in general, if I do say so myself. Since we do tend to move around every few years, I forced myself to sit down one day and create a “bucket list” a few months ago. A list of things I want to do, or see, before we inevitably have to leave a place with so much to offer. As luck would have it we were able to check two items off of that list in one weekend!

The first stop was at The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. If you live in SoCal, or follow anyone on social media who does live here, you’ve probably seen your fair share of pictures from this field, which is open in the Spring (typically early March- mid May). While we were there we joked about creating a new Instagram focused on taking pictures of people who were clearly there to take pictures for their Instagrams- this place was crawling with people creating “content.” To be honest, it’s totally understandable, it’s a beautiful place, with so much to offer. Aside from the fields, there was also green houses, multiple gardens to walk through, wagon rides, delicious treats, and a stamp hunt, as well as an awesome play ground for the kids to play in. We particularly enjoyed letting the littles lead us through the Sweet Pea Maze – which by the way, is one of the best mazes I’ve walked through.

The girls had a blast, which isn’t hard to do with these two particular friends of ours. We didn’t walk all the way down the field, but where we did go was outrageously pretty. From the top of the fields you can see the ocean, another reminder of how unique San Diego truly is.

Our second bucket list item was visiting The San Diego Zoo Safari Park. On this particular weekend they were running and irresistible promo for their Día Del Nino celebration; all children were free with the entry of a paid adult. My husband gets in free to most museums and zoos around here, so we only had to buy ONE ticket (which I had a groupon for). Our hometown heroes had a flight to catch so we weren’t able to do this with them, but luckily we have great neighbors with a daughter the same age as our big girl, so we all went together!

The Safari Park is the sister of the San Diego Zoo, and it’s settled on 1800 acres. Half of that is set aside as protected native habitat. The cool thing about the Safari Park is that they give real space to the animals in their care. So while you aren’t as close to the animals as you could be at the San Diego Zoo, the views are breathtaking, and you get a lot of walking in. At the Safari Park you have the option to purchase “Safari’s” some of which get you much closer to the animals, others are experiences like zip lining.If you’re ever in San Diego and looking for something to spend an entire day doing, the Safari Park is a great option if you’ve got some money to spend and a love of animals.

Now that these two items are checked off of the list we’ve only got a few more left to go:

  • Take the “Coaster” (train line) north.
  • Disneyland
  • Visit San Francisco
  • Visit Joshua Tree
  • Visit Salvation Mountain
  • Cabin at Big Bear
  • See the Redwoods
  • Visit LA for food trucks and museums
  • Yosemite Half dome

Considering I’m pregnant this summer, getting the majority of these done seems like an elusive goal, so we’ll see what actually gets done. I’d be happy with getting at least half done I think.

For all my fellow California people (or if you’ve visited!) is there anything I missed? Or anything on the list that isn’t “worth” the hassle of getting there? Do you have a bucket list for the place where you live? With this “lifestyle” we tend to know a lot of people in literally all corners of the world, so I may be able to help you create one if you want!

When Life Has Different Plans

For the past year or so, we have been debating whether or not to add another baby to our family. One of us had been team “not completely convinced” while the other was team “maybe“.

Maybe. Because I could see our lives with just two, but I could also see it with three.

Maybe. Because I loved the idea of our youngest being a big sister, but also really enjoyed the idea of possibly getting to start a career with the degree I busted my ass for, and never used.

Maybe. Because for some reason something was telling me “one more” and I hated ignoring that, but understood why “no more” could also be a good path for us.

For the majority of these discussions between us, I had an IUD. But as many may or may not know, it wasn’t exactly working out for me anymore. It was definitely doing what it was designed to do, but I’m a very physically sensitive person (as in I KNOW my body) so for me, there was a little bit more going on than I preferred. I made the executive decision that birth control was no longer going to be solely my arena. If my husband ever seriously found himself on team no, then maybe we should consider a vasectomy. So after two years, out came the IUD. Until we made a decision either way, we chose to just “be careful”.

Friends. Being careful is not a way to prevent a baby, even if there are no “slips.” Before I could get a period after getting the IUD out, I was pregnant. I spent about a week wondering (and googling- let’s be real) exactly when I would get my first IUD-free period before the nausea settled in. I genuinely thought I was experiencing the dreaded “mirena crash” as my body began to rapidly change. But on my third day of that all day queasy feeling, as I stood in the shower, I kind of just knew… my period was not coming.

It’s funny, because even though I knew that we both had actively been a part of the creation of this baby, I still felt confused, and shocked at how it happened. Thoughts and emotion flooded my brain within seconds, all before even taking a test. I considered not mentioning it until I knew for sure, but quickly changed my mind, I didn’t want to feel that sense of confusion and shock by myself any longer than I had to.

I went down stairs, and sitting on the edge of my husbands chair said “I know this doesn’t make sense,” – because it didn’t, “but I think I need to get a pregnancy test.”

My husband seemed doubtful (because like I said- HOW?) but he trusted me. We talked about if we were scared, and both decided we weren’t. Took a trip to good ol’ Target and then while he went to go grab some lunch for us, I stayed home with the girls, and took the test. After peeing on the test, I glanced at it and could see the plus sign immediately starting to form, but thought it could be the lighting tricking me, so I set it down on the counter and forced myself to wait the few minutes as instructed.

Two minutes later, I picked it up and saw it clear as day. No trick of the light, no wild imagination. For a second, I considered crying, but instead, I started laughing.

This is the stuff that life is all about right? We think we have a plan, we think we know what’s next, but we genuinely have no idea how things are going to go. The hand we played in our third child feels kind of minimal, to the point that for a few weeks, until I saw the ultrasound, I kind of didn’t really believe it.

As time moved forward, I experienced the worst all day nausea, and uncomfortable bloating, headaches, and exhaustion. It can be hard to see the light when your body is putting you through the ringer, but I also believe my body needed to do these things for me to believe and trust that there was truly another life inside of me. It hasn’t been a walk in the park this time around, but I know how fleeting this time is, and I’m starting to move into the space of enjoying this part of the journey. Along with that, how it happened has started to become less important, as the technicalities of being a family of five has started to take center stage. I’m scared of being “outnumbered,” I worry about the inevitability of roles changing, I stress over the idea of splitting myself even further.

As before, I know these worries will all fade out as our little one joins our family, but hey, I’m pregnant! I can’t help it!

For those who are into pregnancy announcements, here’s a little video I made of my husband and the girls reactions to the news. We truly appreciate all the love we hace received since announcing our big surprise! If there’s anything you’d like to see me post about regarding pregnancy, feel free to comment and let me know!

On Taking Things Personal

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the way in which we are wired to take things personal. It’s something I have been trying hard to move away from. In almost all of our relationships and experiences we are likely participating in the “single player” function. When we are functioning in that mode, we are so often stuck in our own heads, and likely believe that all of what is happening around us, including the actions, thoughts, and feelings of others – particularly has to do with us.

It’s almost so instinctual that I’ll even hear myself doing it toward our children! Scary, but true. I’m sure other parents kind of know what I’m talking about here – if they act up while we are out, there are times I am tempted to take it to heart, and very personal, thinking to myself “why can’t they just behave for 5 minutes while we are in the store?” If they wake up in the middle of the night and wake me, for a split second I am tempted to think “come on. they know I’m tired, why would they wake me up!” – but in reality their little minds do not think that way. All they know is they heard a sound, woke up, and are pretty sure there’s an effing monster under their bed (even though their bed has no room under it for a monster to lurk- not comfortably at least). In the moment of the hard crap, it’s almost instinctive to think that what my children are doing is in direct correlation to me.

The truth is this: what others say, do, think, or feel (or lack thereof) has little to do with us and everything to do with them. Yes, even children. Even children have needs and wants particular to themselves (who knew?!) because they are actual little people who are having their OWN experiences.

Because so many of us are living as the center of our world, it can be so hard to remember that the people around us are experiencing situations in a completely unique way, and their way can be similar or completely opposite to how we are experiencing it. It can be hard to remember this, especially when someone hurts you. Or when someone breaks your trust. Or when someone does something that (in your humble opinion) would obviously cause a reaction in you. “Why would they do that? They KNEW it would hurt me.” Maybe they did know, maybe they didn’t.

Here’s the thing, well, a couple of things. ONE: it’s entirely too taxing to try to guess why anyone does anything- because life is 100% subjective and our paths and journeys are exclusive. A difficult thing to come to terms with, but important, nonetheless. And TWO: it’s not your place to figure out someone’s motives, and it won’t bring you peace. This can be crazy hard to come to terms with when you feel like you need to “say something” to someone so they can know what you think. But the truth is, what you think about someone else’s choices only needs to be said when that person asks you. (Of course, if you’re dealing with a dangerous situation of any form, you should say or do what you need to keep yourself and loved ones safe- what I am talking about here are general opinions.)

I think this is essentially why it’s so important to know your personal boundaries, and to take care of yourself. Honor how you feel, listen to what your body is saying to you, always. No one can feel things for you, no one can change anything in your life except for you. What a powerful gift. Knowing this makes you free from having to wonder about the meaning of anyone else’s actions. Knowing this allows you to start to come face to face with the fact that you are responsible for you. And not for “them”. This is something I am mindful of teaching my children, because while circumstances may be what they are, my children are still wholly responsible for their actions (which have consequences, good or bad).

I one hundred percent believe in the idea that Life does not happen to you it happens for you. So YOU can learn what you need to learn. All of this is true for others, too. Even when I deeply resent their choices.

Here’s the takeaway, the most important part in all of this: when you come face to face with adversity or trials in relationships, or even just someone being a little too sassy, you can rest assured that the only part of the equation that you are responsible for and the only part you can actively control is your part of it. How you react, what you do, or say. You get to make the choice for yourself: am I going to react? Or am I going to use some self control? There is so much power in what we decide.

I’ve been struggling with this a little bit lately regarding certain situations in my personal life, obviously I enjoy sharing my point of view, so it can be hard to keep my mouth shut when it comes to certain situations… which is why I decided to write this here. If anyone else struggles with taking things personal from time to time, just know, I hear you wholeheartedly, and you do have a choice.

Don’t Be Perfect

I know you’re tempted to. I know you want to do it all. I know you want to show up at all the things looking your best. I know you want to have a home cooked HEALTHY meal on the table every night at the perfect dinner time – not too early, not too late. I know you want to make sure you exercise enough, sleep enough, and keep your house clean enough. I know you’re desperate to show up at your kids games, practices, lunches, field trips. I know you want to be the perfect spouse. The perfect friend. The perfect family member. I know how you think “hypothetically, it’s not too hard.” And I know how you feel when another day passes and you find you didn’t do it all.

But, all of this, it’s not necessary.

Having little eyes looking up to me, I know how important it is to be the best version of myself I can be. It’s not a weight carried lightly by me. I’m internally motivated by the thought of how my children will remember me. How they will remember our lives together. It is a driving force in many moments. These thoughts are often where my patience is born. But with that, there is another truth that must be acknowledged. My children still need to see me mess up. They need to bear witness to my failures. They need to see me as a human with real flaws, real emotions, so that they don’t feel as though they need to hide theirs. So they don’t feel the need to measure up. They need to hear me apologize when I’m wrong, just as they need to see me stand my ground when I am passionate about something. They need to see my strength, and they need to see my weakness.

And it’s not just the little ones in our lives who benefit from this. I really do believe that this is important for anyone around us to see. It is essential to remember that perfection is an illusion, and when you decide to show up as you are, you end up holding space for others to do so as well. Don’t apologize for the messy house, you live there. Don’t feel the need to always have your makeup on, or wear your best clothes, you deserve to be comfortable.

Being perfect means there’s a specific standard. If you’re feeling that pressure – in any situation – take a minute to think of whose standard of perfection it is. Ask if it’s truly even your standard. And then ask yourself what the benefit of reaching that standard actually is. If mastering the juggle is what will bring true joy and happiness to the short existence we are all blessed with, by all means, pursue perfection. But if sometimes it feels like you’re wasting energy and minutes worrying about how you appear, or what someone else thinks, then it is officially time to consider this truth:

Your instinct is not wrong.

Have you found ways to ditch the need to be perfect? How did you do it? I love to hear back from those who support my writing so let me know in the comments or any other way that feels right!

Paying Homage.

Today my Facebook reminded me via its handy dandy memories tool that prior to sharing my personal thoughts and experiences here, I first did it there. Around this time last year, and for the first time, I publicly shared a piece of writing. That piece of writing is still one I love and I think it does deserve a place here. If you’ve never read it before, or if it stirs something new for you, by all means leave a comment and let me know!

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I wrote this yesterday after reading and internalizing posts where others expressed confusion, contempt, and even some disgust. I hope it can shed some light on the “why” that so many seemed to call for. I dedicate it to my mother, my grandmothers, and the other admirable women of color I am blessed to call family. To the wonderful women I have gained through marriage. To my girlfriends, who have exemplified strength in so many different ways. To my high school drama teacher who set the foundation of my own sense of womanhood through her example. To the important men in my life who have never made me personally feel anything other than loved and supported. But mostly, this is for my children.

Marched.

Here in the United States there is no guaranteed paid maternity leave.

So, I marched.

I personally know women who were physically, mentally, and emotionally abused by men they loved deeply.

So, I marched.

Once, I saw a mother lose temporary custody of her children because her abusive husband convinced her to let him see them after he had recently tried to kill himself in front of them.

So, I marched.

I know a woman who spent years in the same job field that her husband would much later join, and hardly made more than him at the time he entered the work force.

So, I marched.

I remember being sexualized at the age of thirteen by men twice my age, and seeing it happen to friends as well.

So, I marched.

When my husband was out to sea, I became highly paranoid that the alcoholic who lived below us would one day snap and try to hurt me because my kids were loud.

So, I marched.

When he was deployed, I hid knives in each room of my house, I kept a panic button next to my bed, and sometimes slept with the key to our gun box on a lanyard around my neck. So, I marched.

I know women, myself included, who have been made to think they are not as worthy as other women because of outward appearances.

So, I marched.

I know of women who were date raped, but never reported it.

So, I marched.

Once, one of my husband’s higher ranked coworkers told him I would need to pause my career for his to succeed, and he wasn’t wrong about that.

So, I marched.

When I was interning as a new mom, there was no where for me to pump breastmilk, I had to do it in the bathroom.

So, I marched.

When I go out with my daughters, people always mention how we better have a gun in the house.

So, I marched.

I marched. I marched. I marched. At one point I cried. And then I marched.

On Love of Self.

It’s happening. My five-year old is picking up on “beauty standards” and it’s damn near heartbreaking. About a week ago she expressed to me that she wanted us to buy her a painless hair removal tool she saw on a commercial, “no” I said, “you don’t need that.” “But it won’t hurt me, the commercial said that it is painless” she replied. I let the conversation fade out with a quick word on the natural tendencies of our bodies to grow hair, not just on our heads. She expressed resentment at the thought of it. I wished there was someone I could call and scream at to make that commercial disappear forever. I thought of all the other little girls sitting there, being indoctrinated into beauty culture on that very day, by that same stupid commercial… or by the hundreds (thousands… millions?!) of other commercials or media they may be exposed to. Maybe it would happen tomorrow. Maybe it had happened already. Either way, one thing I know for sure is that it will happen. My children will have images of unrealistic standards shoved down their throats and there is little I can do to stop that. Hours later, it dawned on me. That little painless hair remover may not physically hurt you, but it will hurt you! It will hurt you, it already has.
The way many of us feel about ourselves is not the way we should feel. It’s the way we have been made to feel. It’s the way we were suggested, even pushed, to feel. The way we think we should feel. And seeing it happen to someone so perfect and pure, someone so innocent, is beyond disturbing. I can remember how it felt in middle school to realize that my hips, legs and thighs were double the size of my friends. Somewhere around the age of thirteen, I can remember the way I lied about my stretch marks during camp when a boy pointed them out.  The way I bled and cried and cried over the curse of it. The way I tried so hard to pick the right outfit to cover, shape, hide. I can vividly remember how it felt as a freshman in high school to look in the mirror and truly hate what I saw reflecting back to me. During that time it felt like I couldn’t measure up because my measurements were not near small enough. Trying to fit in genuinely felt exhausting. What I would give to go back and tell that girl how perfect is an illusion, and how enough I already was.
As I reached the end of my senior year of high school something finally clicked, and I was able to work through some of  the negative aspects of my self view over the next few years in college, just in time for me to become a mother. Somewhere along the way it sunk in that there are entire industries built off of our insecurities, business models that hope we will continue to feel like we can’t cut it as is. Escaping that mentality wasn’t easy so the fact that I did makes me feel lucky. I know that so many others (men included) don’t get past the idea of the ideal until much later in life, if ever.
When I had my children, I knew that I could love what was to become of my body after because I had already stopped believing that my worth was directly connected to the size of my jeans. But what I did not expect was just how strongly becoming a mother would make me realize how much I really believe in spreading self-love. Because now I deeply believe that if I can love myself fully and without inhibitions, maybe my children can do that too. Maybe they can skip the hard years. A momma can hope, right?
Even though it has been years since I felt  ashamed of this body of mine, I’ve still found myself hiding it. Covering the natural curves of my hips. Being sure to downplay the truth of my body shape, in hopes that I don’t offend those around me, that I don’t willingly “mark” myself, make myself a target for the unwanted looks and whispers. I love my body, but I still fear it at times. And in owning that, I am able to own the fact that there is still work to be done.
Loving yourself fully doesn’t mean not taking care of yourself. Often times people believe that the “self love movement” is all about being okay with treating your body however you want, for better or worse. For me, it’s all about knowing that my value as a person is not relative to how I appear at any given moment. It’s making choices that feel good and right for me, regardless of if the people around me would make that same choice. It’s about honoring and loving my own body above other bodies, and listening to it, allowing it to grow and change as it needs to.
I want that inherent knowing for my children, I want that for me, and I want that for you. 
And now this part is directed to my girls (who I know will find these words somehow) and to anyone else who needs to hear this:
When you see a picture, or a video, or a movie, or even a Snapchat (or whatever you have in the future) take it with a HUGE grain of salt, because the truth is it takes a TEAM to make that happen.  It took all hands on deck to get the body sexy enough, to get the hair to fall just so, to get the makeup that perfect. There’s someone whose sole job is to keep it all in place, someone who knows exactly when to snap the picture and exactly when the light is hitting them at the perfect moment. And then after that there are people who EDIT that shit. Even after all that hard work, they still fix the tiny imperfections so you would never even know they were there.
What you’re seeing over and over again, it’s not real. It’s not even close. YOU are real. And there’s nothing wrong with you, it’s okay to love you. And if that feels really hard to do, find me, and let me be the one to tell you the truth of your REAL perfection.

5 Tricks to Survive Parenting

I realize my last post may have left some of you wondering if parenthood is even sustainable. It is. It totally is. A lot of us do operate on a mode of necessity, especially when you’re doing hard things on top of it, but it truly is possible to enjoy parenthood, even if life is throwing a bunch of crap at you. That’s kind of the gig in its entirety, to be honest. So while last week was all about secrets, this week is about things I have picked up along the way to get through. Think: tricks of the trade. Methods of survival, if you will. If you don’t have children you might think me using the word “survival” is a bit dramatic. IT’S NOT. I said it before, and I’ll say it again, kids are the jam. They’re funny without trying, they’re not always incessantly pessimistic like adults can be, and they’re cute and cuddly. They are all that is right in the world. And when they are like that, you’re thriving.

But. Some days you’re really tired and they’re being kind of mean, and they slapped you in the face before you even had your coffee. There are times when those cute little faces are twisted up and beat red, throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of Target, all because you wouldn’t let them eat the spilled popcorn off of the ground, and you’re wondering if someone is going to call CPS on you, because they are screaming that loud. So yeah, some days it is mostly about surviving until bedtime, and praying for a reset, while hoping they don’t slap you in the face again the next morning. On those days, it is up to the adults in the family to figure stuff out. And using coping mechanisms works wonders. Mine are as follows:

Don’t rush their growth. Sometimes it seems as though people can be in a rush for their kids to make it to the next benchmark. NOT ME. I’ve always been totally fine with taking things slow. Why? Because sometimes you find that the less they know, the more freedom you as the adult have. I’m not saying to intentionally hold your child back from learning things that are important to learn… I’m just saying that trying to push them to learn things early just for the sake of them learning it, isn’t really all the necessary. What will happen if they aren’t the kid who reads the best by the end of kindergarten? I’ll tell you what. Nothing. In fact, you’ll be able to continue spelling words you don’t want them to hear for longer. Just saying. Plus, babies don’t keep. I like to enjoy them for who they are and where they are.

Get a mom/dad friend. You need to have at least one friend in your personal circle that has either been parenting for a little bit longer than you or is becoming a parent at the same time as you. Having friends who have kids in middle school when you’re having your first child is fine, but I promise you they’re going to do that whole “better you than me, pal” thing I mentioned in my last post. Instead, you need someone who is going to be right there with you. You need someone who you can text “HELP ME” and they will know not to call the police, but instead will commiserate with you and remind you that you’re normal. And that bed time is only a few hours away. And that wine exists.

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Tape saves the day. 
Use what you have. We live in the times of the “pinterest mom” and the “instagram influencers” – every where you turn someone is cooking up some elaborate birthday party, or taking their kids around the country in their renovated school bus. You find yourself wondering: am I doing this right? Am I providing them with enough? The answers are undoubtedly yes and yes. In fact, I would argue you could probably do less than what you’re doing and still be doing enough. As I have mentioned before, comparison is the thief of joy, my friends. Your kids don’t need the newest toys to be happy. Stick them outside with pots and pans filled with water and cups. They don’t need to go to Disney every weekend, take them hiking and let them literally kick rocks. You have everything you (and they) need, sometimes you just have to think outside of the box a little. Better yet, you probably just need to get a box. A brown cardboard one. Kids love those. You’re welcome.

Expect the worst. In any plan you make regarding your kids, you should be hoping for the best, and expecting the worst. Think ahead. Whats the worst possible outcome? Prepare for that. Bring the extra clothes in case they pee on themselves even though they have been potty trained for three years. Bring the plastic bags in case they start throwing up in your car when you’re 20 minutes from home. Bring the wipes, for all of the above. Bring snacks. Bring drinks. Bring your iPad or kindle, and for crying out loud make sure that thing is charged. Your kids may normally be super well-behaved, but they’re human too. And just like you some days they are just not feeling like themselves. Take the time to  be prepared for anything and everything, so that way when they are actually decent, you’ll feel like a rock star.

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Learn to laugh. I’m telling you right now, if you don’t learn how to laugh, you won’t make it. You will spend your whole time parenting thinking you’re not cut out for it, that you are failing. Parenthood is hard, so let it be funny. Let your instinct be to laugh, rather than to immediately take things personal. When I say my kids are sassy, I mean it. The other day my husband told me that after I strapped my youngest into the car and closed the door, she announced to him and our oldest that “Mommy is rude!!!” because I wouldn’t let her eat candy in the car. I could have been hurt and taken that personal, but I chose to laugh instead. Most situations that seem really annoying in the moment, can become comical if you let it.

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Bank on that, and enjoy them while they are unintentionally hilarious. 

XO,

Bryanna Lee

 

13 Secrets No One Tells You Before You Have Kids.

Thinking of making babies? YAY!

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LOOK AT THAT NEW DAD HAPPY FACE!

Trust me when I say, becoming a parent has been the absolute best thing I ever did. I am who I am because of them. Literally any cliché’ thing you have EVER read about the way your heart grows when you go down the path of parenting – I one hundred thousand percent agree. I mean, guys, I actually cry sometimes now. Tears. Real Ones. No icebox here (if you know that song reference, I love you). Real talk – kids? They are the light, they are the joy bringers, they know how to make you smile even when you didn’t know you needed it.

BUT! I have to be honest… The parents who had kids before me, they were hiding things. Once I became a parent, it became glaringly obvious that people had been leaving things out. When they smiled and said “Your baby is SO precious! Time flies, savor those newborn snuggles” they really did mean it, (and by all that is holy,  if you have a baby please do it, baby snuggles are the best snuggles) but they also kind of thought “better you than me, pal.” Why? Because! There are things you don’t know, until you know. The beans I’m about to spill are arguably some that every parent knows. Which kind of makes this post a digital high-five for my fellow mom’s and dad’s out there. But for everyone else, you know i’m all about telling the truth, and I need to come clean. Sure, we all know kids can be cranky, and they wake up a lot, and we have all heard about the mythical tantrum (you know, the ones your kids are never going to throw) but there’s more. There’s so much more.

  1. Be prepared to possibly have to hug them when they are sitting on the toilet or while they are throwing up. Gross, but true. Sometimes all you have to offer is exactly what they need.
  2. They figure you out quicker than you figure them out. Our kids had us both figured out around the 4th week of life. The same cannot be said for us.
  3. Backwash. They literally never figure out how to drink things with out pushing their spit back into the cup. Okay, I guess at some point they do, but we’re not there yet. Obviously.
  4. Bodily fluids, in general. One day you’re gonna put your nose dangerously close to something hoping it’s not a bodily fluid, and you will be wrong.
  5. Guilt about literally everything, even stuff that makes no sense.
  6. The worst parts of you will surface in your child. Were you loud and obnoxious as a teenager? Painfully shy as a child? Do you suffer from resting b*tch face? Guess what, they get the ultimate data dump and will do all of those things you have worked so hard to get past. To be fair, they don’t know how to control that yet, meanwhile you’ve had years of practice.
  7. Whether you breastfeed or not, you no longer own your body, same goes for dad.
  8. Speaking of things that are no longer yours, you can add your bed to that list. Even if you choose not to co-sleep, they will think your bed is the end all be all on the list of “cool places to hang out.” Their bed bounces, but not as bouncy as yours. Their bed is comfy to hang out in, but not as comfy as yours. Can’t find your kid? Look in your bed.
  9. They pull on everything. Curtains. Necklaces. Earrings. Clothes. This is why you see us walking around in workout clothes and pj’s all the time. It’s not because we are lazy, it’s because we don’t want to risk our shirts getting all stretched out. Or worse.
  10. Their cold is your cold, you might as well kiss your whole “I never get sick” bravado goodbye. You’re going to get sick, and it will be almost every time they do. Oh, and no one takes care of the grown up. Tough luck.
  11. You have to cook FOR EVERY MEAL. No skipping allowed, or else you’re going to be hearing “I want a snack” ALL. DAY. LONG.
  12. Wiping butts. And noses. For way longer than you expected.
  13. You will likely forget all of this, and want to do it again. And again. Because who can resist those tiny perfect faces. Even when they do suffer from one of the most intense RBF’s you’ve ever come across.

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XO,

Bryanna Lee

How I figured Out Self Care

“The way we love others is the way we need to love ourselves.”

Have you ever heard this? I’ve probably heard it a million times and have always done the whole “yeah yeah” type thing, scrolling on to the next post. But for whatever reason recently it has been sitting with me. A lot.

The way you love your partner, is how you need to love yourself. The way you love your children, is how you need to love yourself. The way you love your best friend, is how you need to love yourself. The way I love the people around me is the way I need to love myself.

As far as body image goes, loving myself has kind of come naturally to me as an adult, especially after having kids. But taking care of myself has been a bit different. There’s a book I read a couple of years back (and subsequently pushed onto literally everyone in my personal circle) called The 5 Love Languages, which discusses and describes the different types of love languages a person may speak. Apparently, the whole “men are from mars, women are from venus” thing isn’t too far off. Except, you come to find out that we’re all on totally different planets, and they aren’t determined by what gender we identify with. At the end of the book, there’s a quiz (you can take it online here) where you get to find out what language you speak, and are highly encouraged to have your partner find out what language they speak as well. Turns out, your girl speaks two languages nearly equally: Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Meaning, I love it when people do things for me (hello, my name is Princess Bryanna) AND I really enjoy a good hug. You can imagine what holding hands with a crush, or having them offer to carry my books was like for me as a girl. Try: EVERYTHING.

When you read the book, the author explains that the whole point is not necessarily to know what your language is. Instead, the point is to know what your partner’s language is, so you can love them in the way that means the most to them, and so you can see their love for you a bit more clearly. The author wants you to be altruistic about it, even if it is impurely. He aims to help you realize that if you know your partners love language, you can love them better. But inevitably what happens is you become painfully aware of your own love language, and you can become tempted to keep tally’s. It can be a little like donating to charity. A lot of the time people do it because we like how it makes us feel, when we hypothetically should be doing it to selflessly. The author asks you to rise above that, and love for the sake of loving, rather than receiving. (As a side note, considering the act of donating has an amazing effect on our health as shown in multiple studies it kind of doesn’t matter why you do it, as long as you do).

Lately I’ve been realizing that knowing my love language isn’t just a benefit for my husband, though. It’s actually a huge benefit for me. And it’s not because I get to keep tabs on whether he is loving me in my language. It’s because now I have a clear picture of what my love language requires from myself. Part of really coming into my own, so to speak, has revolved around the concept of self-care. Which for me, is taking the time to actively listen to my inner voice, and acknowledge my needs in every aspect of who I am. This means listening to what Bry the woman needs, as well as what Bry the mom needs, rather than letting any one particular facet of who I am over ride all the others.

Realizing this tiny nugget of self-care gold has been a game changer for me. Call me crazy, but I don’t feel loved when others buy me gifts (this love language is literally called “Receiving Gifts”), so it stands to reason that when it comes to self-love, I don’t need to go shopping as a part of my self care. What I need to do is do things that will make my life easier later, like meal planning, and keeping a handle on my weekly cleaning list. This is because me doing those things actually helps me to free up energy down the road, which allows me to do other things like take my kids outside, write, paint, or any other thing I love to do. When I frame my primary love language as a way to take care of myself, I find that I’m no longer stressed out about all the things I need to do. I do it, and I do it happily, because I know I will be even happier later.

I’m not a therapist, but I am a huge advocate of people listening to their inner voice, and honoring what they hear. And that’s because when I listen to myself, like really listen, I think it leads to more emotional stability, and ultimately it leads to a higher sense of self-confidence and happiness with my life. With the internet being one of the main ways people engage with one another, it has become so important for me to be able to take a step back and check in with myself.

Self care has to be a part of that check in, and knowing what I need in regards to caring for myself is absolutely essential. At times “self-care” can feel like a daunting task, but it shouldn’t! And if that’s you, if you just read this and thought “I have zero time for that” I’m begging you to reconsider. Start thinking about the way that you like to receive love from others, and just try to do that for yourself. Start with the basics, and build from there, that way you don’t find yourself completely drained while trying to still give to others. You’re important too, you’re worth that love!

And hey, if all else fails, you could always donate to a charity… or go shopping… just tell your partner I made you do it, I’ll totally shoulder that for ya!

XO,

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