I’m “That Mom”

I read a lot of things online.  Especially things pertaining to parenting.  And I see a lot of criticism, cattiness, and judgement from and to other moms.  I have been the receiver of motherly judgment and cattiness as well as criticism and let me tell you, yes, “I’m that mom” and I really don’t care what anyone thinks about that.

See, we are all “that mom” in some way or another.

Before we have kids we look around us and see something we don’t like.  Maybe we see a mom getting frustrated with her child in the grocery store because she’s lost her patience, or the mom starring at her phone at the playground, or perhaps the mom giving her child a sucker for a moments peace and we think to ourselves, “I’ll never be that mom.”  Well, let me tell you, we are all “that mom” at one point or another and I’m okay with that because it means I’m being the best mom I can be for my kids–not yours.  We all work differently.

Being a parent is challenging and there really is no one way to do it.  If something works for your kid, I can guarantee it won’t work for mine.  If I give my kids a sucker from time to time to get through the grocery store I can guarantee it was a necessary action for the health of all parties involved.  My child acts differently than yours.  My child responds to different discipline than yours.  I have a different patience limit than you.  I allow my children different things than you do yours due to our different upbringings, ideals, spirituality etc. And I will defiantly cook my parsnips and spinach differently than you.

Each family unit is different for a variety of reasons.  And each child is different within those units.  Let’s be patient with each other and kind–applaud the mother handing her child a lollipop in the grocery store because she is willing to take that step in order to get through the shopping trip so she can feed her family in the coming days.

I wish women still made bread together.  I wish motherhood and parenthood was not a competition but rather a comradeship.  I wish that mother in the store who is frustrated with her child could get more pats on the back and words of encouragement that it will get better.  Because it will–especially when we are reminded to look for it.  Help your fellow parents to stay strong and feel good about what they are doing.

We are raising the next generation of people–lets show them how to work together.

There’s Some Changes Happening Here!

I’m in the midst of improving EMotherhood.  How do you like it?

Some things to notice:

-The recipe category now has a Paleo drop down.

-I’ve included a Betterments (personal improvements) section which includes a drop down of a photography challenge, a dance challenge and the Paleo Whole30 challenge.

-I’ve changed the layout and design.

-I’ve added a link of favorite blogs I follow–check them out!

-Add me on Twitter and Pinterest via the buttons on the right!

 

I’m pretty excited–I hope you all find the new format to be easy to navigate and attractive!

Keeping Self

Parenting is hard.  Oh it is so so hard.  Maybe it’s adulthood in general but I don’t know adulthood without parenthood, so I can’t speak to that.  I spent my entire 20’s trying to figure out how to raise children.  At first, I tried really hard to keep parts of myself while attempting to raise my children but over the years that seems to have faded.  And I don’t think it is supposed to.  Somehow, I think it is really important to keep things about yourself that mean something to you–that keep you ticking.  In the chaos that is parenthood, it is easy to lose site of it though.

I’ll be thirty this year.  When I was younger, I really looked forward to getting into my 30s.  The 20s were hard.  Really hard. And I experienced a lot of judgement for being a young 20-something mother.  I thought maybe once I’d turn 30, everything would get easier.  I’d get accepted into the right social networks and I’d feel better about myself.  I’d be accepted as a member of society instead of feeling like an outsider.  But instead, I’m realizing that I’ll miss my 20s.  There was hope then… I was still young and still had things to look forward to–or so I thought.  What I’ve been realizing  lately is that I don’t know what they are anymore.

We have a photo stream screen saver on our TV and I don’t recognize myself.  I can still see ‘me’ in our wedding pictures but beyond that, I really don’t look like myself anymore.  I was so caught up in child raising that I gave up everything of myself.  I gave up my makeup, my hair, my clothes, my dancing, my passions, my schooling, my musical instruments, my decorating, just about anything that made me a strong individual was lost. What’s strange is I really don’t know how it happened.  The stress, the changes of having children, moving, dealing with adulthood just overtook me.  And instead of demanding I keep parts of my self, I gave into the roller coaster of life–I didn’t demand it stop for a few minutes so I could get off.   So I could connect with myself and not get swept away.  And now, only now, am I realizing how wrong it was. How very very important it is to keep bits of yourself despite the way life changes you.  Now, when I need a break, when I start burning out, I have nothing to fall back on.  Nothing to remember who I am–as an individual.  It scares me.  If I have the time to take care of my appearance, I don’t have any makeup to put on and I don’t even remember how to style my hair.  I don’t remember how to dance–it was my life and I find it strange muscle memory isn’t stronger–the idea of taking a class feels embarrassing.  I am so unpracticed at the piano or any of the other instruments that I used to play,  it’s a challenge to get any satisfaction out of sitting down and playing for 10 minutes.

See, there has to be something–even just one thing that we as parents need to keep all our own.  That the distraction of children and life can’t take from us.  To remember our true being.  I hope to develop something in the future to grasp onto.  Something to bring peace back into my soul.  My escape for when times are rough.  Maybe it will be blogging.  I don’t know.  But I think as life goes on, I grieve the ‘me’ that used to be.  As I’m sure all do at some point.

As a youth, I never believed all the older members of society saying how hard life was.  I was optimistic to a fault and believed life was fairies and butterflies.  There are still moments of glory and beauty. Thankfully my family is the one who shares those moments with me.  But it is hard.  And it’s ok to realize that, accept it, grieve your losses and move on.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t happy in your current circumstances, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your family, it just means you are taking one more step toward personal growth.

Versatile Blogger

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I was very surprised and excited to log onto my blog yesterday and find that Kelly, from the very entertaining Free Little Words  blog, nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award.  Thank you, Kelly!  What a fun game, too!

Here’s how this works:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Here’s the 15 blogs I have selected:

1. The Homestead at Spring Creek

2.  Velo Mom

3.  Allison Slater Tate

4.  The Thinking Mother 

5.  Handmade Homeschool 

6.  Love Life With Kids

7.  Wonder in the Woods

8.  Sara Sweetless

9.  Barn Raisin

10. Our Homeschool Journey 

11.  This Crunchy Life Blog 

12. A Homeschool Mom

13. Mummyshymz

14. So Here’s Us

15. My Thoughts on a Page

Here’s those 7 things about me:

1.  I’m addicted to the sun and warmth–in fact I live for it.

2.  I  struggled with parenting until I became inundated with parental duties thanks to child #3 (now I’m truly in love with my daily life)

3.  I am passionate about dance, choreography and music.

4.  I’m a wanna be hippie that belongs in a commune somewhere…. probably on a beach….. barefoot.

5.  I love artistic photography with a passion.

6.  Despite blogging a lot about parenting, homeschooling, and homemaking, I really love food blogging the most.

7. I have a dream of traveling the world with my husband and kids.

So there it is!  Have fun ya’ll!  I love reading all your blogs!

“Those Days” And How To Overcome

Every mother has “one of those days.”  I make a significant effort to not talk about them.  Positive thinking…super mom complex….denial… call it what you will but it rarely makes things better to dwell on the worst.  But…..today is “one of those days” and I’d love to share with you things I’ve learned to “deal.”

Baby number 3 is a fuss bucket–she’s oh so cute and sweet but she fusses incessantly. As in, hubby and I haven’t slept for a year, the kids are so used to her crying they don’t even look her way anymore, my arms are constantly full of baby–but not just sweet snuggly baby able to be put in a front back….no… that would be ok… we’re talking wiggly, unsatisfiable, back arching beastly kinda baby.   This is the kid that brought me to tears because I just wanted to fold the laundry without her screaming or without using one hand (the other being full of baby). And today she has been oh so difficult.  The funny thing is, if I were to give you a list of how my day went, it wouldn’t seems so bad.  Things like taking an entire nap time to make Paleo chocolate crepes that didn’t work so well instead of cleaning and doing laundry.  Things like cutting my own hair because life has been too busy to make it to a salon.  Things like trying to rock the baby to sleep while still dripping wet wrapped in a towel after attempting a shower only to have her refuse the milk and the nap…

It doesn’t seem that bad… but sometimes we as moms (and dads… and siblings….) get tired, get stressed, get burned out even if we are trying to stay positive.

In the past, this sort of day would have gotten me down for weeks.  You see, the biggest pressure I experience is giving into the pressure and judgement of society.  The age old stay at home mom question of “what did you do all day.”  It has to look like I did something with my day or I go into panic mode.  The kitchen is a mess, the laundry is behind, the beds are unmade, the kids watched TV (it’s a Birthday–no school), there is food and toys spread all over the floor and here I am taking deep breathes writing a blog post.

Since when is holding a baby “not enough?”

I’ll tell you when.  When we stopped being a community.  When we stopped being a village.  When we stopped supporting each other.  When women stopped making bread together while caring for their children.  We each started living in our homes as single families and no one else knows what’s going on in your days.  No one knows when you are struggling or when you are thriving.  Your worth is based on what can be seen–not necessarily on what is important.  I am a stay at home mom, not a stay at home maid, not a stay at home secretary, not a stay at home chef, not a stay at home nanny. I am a mom.  So on days like this, if the laundry is 10 loads behind and the dishes are everywhere it is because I was holding a baby and telling her I love her even though she is screaming.  It is because I tried a new recipe for my son’s birthday.  It is because I tried to comb my toddler’s hair.  It doesn’t mean I’m not working, it doesn’t mean I am lazy.  It means I am working despite being stressed out emotionally.  It means I’m still doing my job even though my own selfish desires are calling to me (like wanting to get dressed or pee).  It’s because I understand how short this time is going to be.  Soon the dishes will always be done and laundry will always be folded but there won’t be a baby in my arms.  There will be a grown woman in her place.  And I’m going to miss kissing her little head–even if she is crying while I do.

But knowing these things doesn’t always help–let’s be real.  I’ve been through babyhood three times already–I know how hard it is and how easy it is to get burned out.

So here’s some tips I’ve come up with to help myself:

  • -Mantras are amazing.  They work. I say repetitive things to myself like “this will pass,” “I love my life/family/child,” “this is worth it,” “I can do this.”  It doesn’t matter if you really believe it at the time.  Pick something that works for you and repeat it over and over until you do believe it.  Or at least until it distracts you enough to get through the difficult moment.
  • -Smile in spite of your situation.  Studies have been done to show smiling actually can boots your mood.
  • -Instead of getting angry laugh at the situation–there have been many times when I’ve been close to tears and realized how silly my children were being and laughed.  It was surprising to me how it made everything a little easier.
  • -It’s also ok to cry.  Crying is better than anger.  If the baby won’t stop screaming, put her/him in a safe place and cry. It’s ok–it’s hard to keep up the good attitude all the time and kids are much more forgiving of tears than harsh words.
  • -Stretch.  Take a second to do your favorite yoga pose.
  • -If the kids are in a good place for you to take a break, work out.  And work out hard.  I can still remember the first time I “worked out my frustration.”  I was swimming laps and I was so frustrated with my kids.  They’d been little beasts for days and I remember taking all my anger and frustration out on the water–one aggressive stroke after the other.  I felt amazing afterwards!
  • -Deep breathe.  When we are upset, we tend to breath shallowly or even hyperventilate without even realizing it.  Stop and even go as far as to practice your labor breathing.  We did Hypnobirthing with our last child and it has made me a better parent to practice the meditations and deep breathing exercises.
  • -Know that it is ok to let the baby cry, the kids watch tv, the toddler run around the house naked for a while if you need to get alone.  Do your hair, get dressed nicely, do something to feel better about yourself–even if it’s five minutes.
  • -Ask for help.  In our society, there isn’t a lot of people around just waiting to be asked but if you have a friend or if your husband is home, just ask for help.  You are super mom–you don’t have to prove that to anyone.  But you do need a break now and then–even superwoman needs a glass of wine and a hot bath!
  • -Leave the house (with your kids).  I am really good at this when it is not perpetual winter–like right now.  It is a lot harder to be angry and down when you are smiling at people as you walk down the street with rays of sunshine warming your soul.  Just get your kids and leave.  Leave in the middle of the tantrum, leave in the middle of the crying, get those kids and get some sun and some exercise.
  • -Be forgiving of yourself.  It’s ok to struggle.  You are the caretaker of people–of souls.  This is not an easy job.  Learn, forgive and move on more enlightened when you make a mistake.
  • -Be happy.  Find things everyday to rejoice about.  It helps it really does.  Even if it’s one simple thing.  Dwell on it. Be thankful for it.
  • -Always know that you as a mother are loved.  You are love–you made more love for the world.  Love yourself and love them.  It’s all going to be ok.

No ‘Poo

I’ve read several times about “no ‘poo” as it’s made it’s way around the interent.  “No ‘poo” (no shampoo) is the method of washing your hair with baking soda instead of traditional shampoos.  I was skeptical that it would work for me.  I have really course, wavy, dry hair and didn’t want to make it worse.  Over the years I have spent a lot of money on expensive hair products and was always looking for something better because nothing worked.  I also hate all the chemicals in regular shampoos, so I’ve been using more natural products but they weren’t treating my hair kindly either.  In an attempt to improve my hair and to become more crunchy, I finally took the plunge.

I got some squirt bottles, some baking soda and some vinegar.  Even after the first wash I could tell a positive difference in the condition of my hair. Now, three weeks later, I’m hooked.  I won’t go back.  Even my husband uses it and has been impressed.  Also, it costs pennies.  PENNIES, people!  The best thing I’ve found for my hair costs hardly anything. It’s natural, it’s cheap and it actually works!  My hair is shiny, less frizzy, has less split ends, doesn’t tangle, styles better and is so, so sof!    I’m in love.

There have been a couple times I’ve wanted to cleanse using some actual soap so I used Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Liquid Soap before using the baking soda and it worked beautifully.

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Here’s how you do it:

Get a couple condiment type squirt bottles. (I got mine from Target)

Fill one with about 4 Tbs of baking soda and then fill with water.  (This will take some adjustment for your hair type, length etc–you want it to feel “slimy” on your hair when you use it)

Fill the other with half apple cider vinegar and half water.  (You can also use the vinegar straight) The vinegar acts as a conditioner and is purely optional.  I have found the longer I use the baking soda the less I need vinegar with every wash.

When in the shower, wet hair, squirt the baking soda mixture all over your scalp and work it through your hair.

Rinse.

Pour the vinegar onto the ends of your hair and leave on for a few minutes (I found it smelled more if I put it on my scalp so I keep it on the ends but you can do either).

Rinse.

Dry hair (once it is dry you will not be able to smell the vinegar at all).

I use olive oil on my hair as a leave in treatment (just a few drops) and it works perfectly as a styling agent, de-frizzer and conditioner.

My hair has never been in such good shape–it’s amazing.

Debt Repayment and Lifestyle Sacrifice Part I

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I’m going to stray from my typical posts for a minute and talk about debt repayment.

My wonderful husband and I got married 4 years ago.  We were still in college (I was finishing up my Bachelors degree and he was finishing up his Masters degree) and when we graduated we had a pile of student loans.  We were both glad to have gotten higher education but the loans weighed heavily on both of us.

Hubby got a well paying job directly out of grad school (such a blessing) and we immediately  started making payments on the loans. Of course, when you have one child and another on the way, food expenses, rent in an expensive city, clothing, diapers, medical bills etc., you are only paying on interest.  We were financially stressed knowing we would be paying these loans off for the next 30-40 years.  We were also trying to buy a house (which didn’t work out).  It was an incredibly stressful situation for a newly married couple.

I have always sworn to never be that person that stresses over money. Never be that mom that can’t make a purchase without freaking out about the budget.   I watched my parents fight about finances almost my entire life and I swore that would not be my path.  But as soon as we joined bank accounts after getting married, and I stopped adding any money to the pile, I freaked.  I did not know how to handle spending “my husband’s money.”  I felt like an intruder and the student debt stress multiplied that by about 100.  Every cent I spent at the grocery store “could have gone to student loans,” I’d tell myself constantly.

So finally, we decided not to worry about it.  We could make minimum payments until we felt we could do more.  I needed to be able to cook for the family and clothe the children without feeling guilty about the looming debt.  We left the city a few months later (our new four month old and our 5 year old in tow) and moved into a remote little house in the mountains.

The debt still loomed but our rent was slightly cheaper. I was able to budget more strictly since I had to plan my grocery trips  in advance of the 45 minute drive to the super market and we were less concerned about nice clothes.    Halfway through our stay on the mountain top, we acquired a huge amount of medical debt due to a fraudulent health insurance company.  This crushed us even further and the weight of our debt was now drowning us.  We did not know how we would get out of it.

After a long string of events, our mountain paradise turned out to be too isolating for us and a painful commute for my husband.  This is when we decided to try and buy a house again.  Our rational was that we were so far into debt, it didn’t matter if we added a house to the pile.  We needed stability (after moving 3 times in the last 3 years.) We needed convenience to work, school,  and shopping.  We were ready to settle down.

We put down money on a new build and broke ground on a house in the suburbs.  As our current lease got closer to ending, we found out our new house would be finished about three months later than we had thought it would be.  Oh, and I was 7 months pregnant with our third child.  So we decided to move in with our in-laws for a couple months after our lease ended, and prior to our new house being built.  I would have the baby in their small town and hubby would work remotely.  Then, when the baby was just a couple weeks old, we would move into our new palace.  It was an exciting time full of hope as well as acceptance of our pile of endless debt.  We were living the American dream (debt and all).

More to come….