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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My 2 Minute Crisis Inspired By School Lunches

Word to the wise: When you randomly think to yourself “I should put the school lunch pictures I have in my phone… on my blog!” do NOT go ahead and do a quick browse of school lunch posts on Pinterest. Because when you realize that you literally only have six pictures in your phone, and you see that the standard amount of “lunch ideas” is 125 (not a joke)… you’ll start saying “okay, maybe I won’t.” And then you’ll have to start giving yourself this huge existential type pep talk about who you are, and why you won’t do the whole comparison thing and THEN you’ll start being too hard on yourself for not updating your blog more often with all the other stuff floating around in your head, and start to wonder if a post about what you pack in your kids lunch box is “interesting” and immediately realize that you need to chill the eff out and just post the pictures because WHO CARES if it’s interesting or not?!?! So. Here’s a very limited amount of inspiration for lunches.

XO,

Bryanna Lee

The Actual Hard Part of Having a School Age Kid.

As many of you are aware, we now have a real life school aged child. People warned me that leaving our girl on the first day (or week, for some) would make for some tough emotional work as a parent. I mean, my entire Facebook feed was flooded with “Dear baby, on your first day of school” articles and a lot of really emotionally charged statuses regarding kids growing up. I want my kids to stay little as much as the next mama, but truthfully, it wasn’t really like that for me. I was nervous, sure. But it was pretty mild, I knew that was where our girl wanted to be, and that she was going to have an amazing time learning and having the opportunity to make new friends. Plus, it kind of takes a lot for me to cry, so there’s that.

Most of the moms I know personally all have little ones in similar ages and stages as mine, so it makes sense that I didn’t see a lot of practical advice being handed out. Hey, we’re all in this together! Luckily though, I have a friend (singular, yes) with a child older than mine, and before she moved she filled me in on the one struggle that us parents tend to overlook until it’s too late, and you’re drowning in it, and it’s taking up all of your counter space, and you’re laying awake at night thinking of how to deal with all of it. Yeah… I’m talking about school work. You know, the cute little worksheet and drawings your babe proudly brings home to you, without fail, almost every day. Just yesterday my little one brought home like four sheets of school work to show me. FOUR sheets. It was probably somewhere in the middle of week two that I realized I couldn’t see my beautiful white countertop, and decided I needed to follow my friends lead, and start organizing this stuff. As much as I love and obsess over each and every little pencil scratch, it all can’t stay.

I know, it’s so so hard to pick and choose what to keep, and it pulls at our heart strings to throw away anything related to our children, but I promise you, it’s for the best. Because let’s be honest, how many of us actually sit around looking at the school work of our past? I know I don’t. So I figured I might as well get ahead of the curve and only save some of the stuff they’re never going to look at. And I also figured that there is likely a mom out there like me, who knows she can’t keep each and every scrap, but can’t throw it all away, and has a hard time deciding what to keep. And since we’re all in this thing together, I felt it was probably a good idea to share what I came up with to minimize the school work takeover. All you’ll need is a binder (I chose a two inch), and some page protectors. Oh, and some sort of rules to follow. Mine are as follows:

  1. If it is a drawing/art or has actual writing on it, it can stay.
  2. Everything else goes.

Easy right?

 

Another trick I have picked up is to do this daily, so you don’t get tricked into thinking something needs to stay when it really doesn’t. That’s the worst.

Hopefully this is helpful to someone out there. At the very least, I kind of wanted to post about it so that I can look back on it a few years from now, ya know, just incase I somehow fall into the adorable schoolwork black hole.

Happy counter clearing fellow mom friends!

 

 

The ONE Essential Trick You Need to Know When Traveling with Kids

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So, we recently got back from our summer trip back to our hometown. After we got there, I realized that I had completely killed the whole traveling alone with kids thing. And I found myself with every intention of writing a post about our experiences. It would probably be titled “10 Things to Do When Traveling with Kids” or something else super cliché – kind of like the title I chose for this post. Anyway, I wanted to write it because traveling with my kids alone was one of the things I was most nervous about, and it was also the thing that everyone asked me about when they saw us. So many people asked us about our trip that even my oldest daughter at one point wondered out loud if anyone had anything else interesting to ask us about. On constant rotation were questions like: “How were the girls on the flight? Was it awful? Did they love it? Bet you won’t do that again, huh?” My answers at that point in time were (respectively): amazing, it was so fun, they totally loved it, I would definitely do it again. So, yeah, I was a little bit on my high horse. And I kind of thought, as I discussed with my beautiful fellow blogger friend Lauren (who you can and should visit over at laurendow.com) while I was there, the things that people keep asking you about is sometimes also the thing you need to talk about on your blog. Sometimes, that’s just how you know, especially if you have only good things to say. I one hundred percent thought that this was the case with our travel experience. I felt like I had so many good tips, I mean, I had managed to get my kids across the country by myself with no catastrophes, and I wanted to give myself that pat on the back. So, I sat down one afternoon and attempted to get something down into my notes app on my iPad, but alas, vacation took over. The post was never fully written, and soon enough I found myself starting the trip home.

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It was time for round two. “Let’s do this” I thought. I had my husband with me, I had all my tried and true tricks of the trade, all I had to do now was do exactly what I did last time and everything would be amazing, so fun, totally the best, right? You guys. I was so wrong. I can’t even describe how wrong I was. Rather than proving that I did in fact belong to the secret society of alpha traveling moms, my kids (okay, it was really just one of them) made sure I was humbled. The “tricks” I had for our first trek had little to no impact on the way home with the specific child in my personal care.  Granted, our poor girl was feeling under the weather, and flying with any type of illness isn’t very fun for anyone, let alone a three-year old. So, instead of enjoying snacks, playing games on electronic devices, coloring, and reading books, we spent nearly the entire first flight (four hours long) with angry cries and screams being hurled at me, for the listening pleasure of those around us. From the way she was crying you would think I was the worst parent ever, because there was no calming her down, and even if I did calm her down, it only took a small misstep on my part to send her back into a frenzy. After surviving that fiasco, I knew that the only way we could even attempt to get through our second flight was by putting my pride aside and giving her the good stuff. I needed to find children’s Benadryl. And praise the Lord, I found some. As we were just about to take off on our second flight, the little girl who had just made me question my sanity and parenting skills, rested her little head on my arm and fell asleep.

I spent that next hour or so half heartedly watching a documentary, but mostly thinking to myself: I am so glad I did not write that post. I would have felt like the biggest dummy in the world if I had. I realized in those peaceful semi quiet moments that this place I have here was never about sharing how I was successful at some random thing. It’s actually the opposite. It’s about realizing how human we all really are, and not holding that against ourselves or each other. It’s about knowing that sometimes life is awesome and that’s great. But also no one is perfect, we don’t always get it right… and owning and sharing that with each other is the only means of creating a world that truly accepts and values authenticity and truth. That’s what I originally wanted for this little corner of the internet, and that’s what needs to continue to be my guiding force.

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So, with that being said, my advice for traveling with little ones is as follows:

  1. Smile at others.

Hope that helps!

On Finding Yourself

There are pieces of me I haven’t met yet. This is because I did a lot of grown up things before I fully knew myself. At almost thirty, I am still discovering my true sense of style. My sense of humor. My softness. My hardness. There is so much to me that I never bothered to develop or give thought to, mostly because I figured I had the time. I had no idea that I would take a sharp turn into motherhood before I fully developed my other passions.
In some ways, I feel watered down. A different version of the woman I would have been. Sometimes I feel trapped in very specific roles. Wife. Mother. Homemaker. Roles that are different from the roles that I saw for myself: Advocate. Creative. Liberated.
As time moves forward, I have started to see glimpses of her. The other me. Our lives run parallel in alternate realms and sometimes I can get a brief sense of how to join the two. I have seen ways in which the me I became can join with the me I envisioned. But as quickly as the feeling of “yes! here she is!” arises, the feeling is gone just as fast.
A few months ago I started to truly feel connected to myself in a much deeper way. I was writing more, stuff was pouring out. I was finding myself drawn closer to the things that made me feel more alive, closer to myself, closer to those around me. And then one day I woke up and found the feeling evaded me completely. I was at square one again.”Who am I? Who do I want to be? Who can I become?” were questions rattling around in my head and soul. I thought I had found the loose thread, the one that if I pulled it, the drapery would unravel revealing a beautiful truth never before seen. I thought I was holding the thread tightly. But suddenly it felt as though it slipped right through my fingers, leaving me scrambling through my mind, picking through the tassels frantically and without proper care.
If you want to find yourself, you have to be patient. You can not give up on the days that you feel like the bottom of the platform fell out from underneath you. Kick your legs and tread the water. Flap your arms until they become wings. Don’t turn your back and shy away into the cave of comfort. There is little growth there… She is not hiding in there. Alternatively, if you want to find yourself, you have to give yourself permission to be the person you want to be.
Rather than viewing these two women as separate entities who I had to find a way to melt together, maybe I could just stop that, and give myself permission to be every version of myself that I want to be. There is a me I’m not being, this is true. She is flightless because she limits herself unnecessarily. Today that ends. Who’s with me?

Heaviness + Happiness

“Momma!!!!! Mommy!” It’s about 2AM and I can’t be sure if I’m dreaming – but then I hear my name being called again, so I pop out of bed and quickly walk (run) down the hall to the girls room. I try my best to mentally prepare myself for vomit or poop every where since we just spent the day prior with one of the girls sick – but when I get in the room I smell nothing, which tells me I’m in the clear… for now. As it turns out, someone just needs to go potty. I help with that, and then return back to bed where I lay awake for a solid hour before I enter anything that even slightly resembles sleep… I happen to be one of those people who just can not fall asleep quickly. As a young adult and new mom I would make up for it by taking a nap during the day, but in this stage of life naps aren’t a thing anymore (dear naps, if you’re reading this, please come back!!!) Sometimes my inability to obtain deep sleep means I can’t remember sleeping at all by the time the sun comes up, which most times means I will definitely need to drink an extra cup (or two) of coffee in the morning.

As I lay there tossing and turning, I mull over some of the things that have been bouncing around in my head lately. Like: why is growing up at times such a lonely experience when literally everyone does it? And why does it seem like people constantly assume that I don’t personally struggle as a parent or wife or human? Why do I assume that of some other people? I find myself reflecting on something I said to a friend the day before when she mentions I’ve always been so calm when it comes to parenting, realizing that this has to be what makes it seem like I’m constantly in control in all other areas. I think back to my jumping out of bed heading to a possible vomit dungeon mere minutes before. It’s true. I was given the invaluable gift of calmness, it’s something that has seen me through some of the harder times in my own life, and has also been something those close to me can depend on during their own hard times. I may not always have an immediate answer, but I will always be calm. In supremely chaotic moments I am often able to remove myself, take out emotion, and just observe, before deciding on which actions make the most sense. During the times where I lose that control, I suffer from immense guilt as a result, as I’m sure most people do. Because of that, it’s pretty rare that I find myself crying in a moment of pure panic or stress – to be honest if I’m going to cry I usually only do it when I’m completely alone and far removed from the situation that upset me. Even those who are close to me have likely only seen me visibly upset a handful of times. It’s a blessing, my calmness. It’s what I think (or hope, rather) could make me a great social worker or counselor one day. But still, sometimes I look around and feel like it can be hard for me to be as vulnerable as I would like to be, or to ask for help in the moment I need it, or to truly feel seen. Because my shield of calm, and sword of logical thought means my body armor is assumed to be made of similarly strong stuff, when really, a lot of the time I’m not wearing any. Very little gets passed that shield. And if it does, I have my sword.

Truthfully, I kind of always imagined that I would be a good parent based mostly on the fact that it was important to me, and also on the fact that my lack of impulsivity started to surface during my teenage years. Despite these two things, I’m not perfect at it, no one is. Parenthood is hard, even if you are predisposed to it, even if you prayed for it. I don’t have sons, so I can’t comment on that aspect, but I know for sure that attempting to raise women who trust in themselves, while trying to grab hold of your own magic, at times feels so damn difficult. On top of that, there’s just this never-ending general sense of emotional tiredness that inherently seems to come with adulthood. I can vividly remember crying from this emotional exhaustion many times during my children’s newborn and infant years, lots of which was spent with my husband away from me.  Sometimes I still want to cry from that exhaustion, but instead find myself more inclined to tighten my grip on my shield of calm until the feeling simply passes. That’s the thing – emotions are so fleeting for me.

The thing that gets to me, I guess, is that it seems like no one accurately described to me how dual natured and complex the feelings of growing older can be. On one end your days can feel so hard, to the point that even cooking dinner seems like an insurmountable task. But on other days things are much easier, they just flow, and it’s all so perfect. Nothing actually changed between those two days, except your personal temperament. That feeling of “man, this is so hard” comes and goes and sometimes it doesn’t feel worth mentioning because in the very moment it goes, that is the exact moment you realize how lucky you are to have health, a home, and any happiness at all. That’s probably why people just swallow it. But when the feeling comes back, it hits like a ton of bricks, and it brings a hefty load of guilt with it. How can life be so so good, and still feel so trying at times?

Walking into adulthood can really be incredibly draining. Especially once you are married and have kids, which happen to be the two things that you would never willingly give up. But at times it seems like no one is really talking about that either, likely because those are the two things that our lives are supposed to lead up to- even more so if you are a woman. People are definitely out there saying “growing up SUCKS!” and “kid’s make you so tired- parenthood is HARD!” but it’s rare that people are like “Oh, and also, it’s confusing, cause sometimes you’ll be really happy- but sometimes you won’t fully feel that, and that’s okay.” That’s the conversation I’m interested in having. That’s the thing I’d like to see change over time, having people know that you can totally be sure of your place but still feel… something. I don’t foresee myself being one of the “you have no idea how good you have it, kids” type of people, but I do want my children to be aware that even the people with tough exteriors can feel the heaviness of life from time to time. Even the people who have it all can wake up some days and feel alone in some way or another. And that’s okay, as long as you are trying. Your best is allowed to fluctuate and change. Because parenthood, marriage, and womanhood are hard in their own right but even more so when you start to try to juggle them. Sometimes you can get the parts moving in complete unison, and other times it’s a bit more difficult, and it’s not because of something you did or didn’t do. That’s truly how it is for so many people. You’re not alone in it, at least… you don’t have to be.


I wrote this sometime last week but the further I moved away from this writing- the more I started to realize that all of what I was talking about is likely what makes life so full and interesting. Maybe the point of that hard feeling isn’t just to wonder why they exist or even to know if everyone does have their moments, but is instead the following moment, the one that comes after you feel like you can’t go on – the part where you inevitably realize how good you really do have it.