In Her Eyes..

In her eyes, I am everything. I didn’t realize that. When she looks at me I can see wonder in her eyes. Sometimes, I will catch her attention. She will pause, stare me straight in the eyes, and then crack a smile so big I just want to squeeze her cheeks. Sometimes she’ll give me a giggle. Oh how sweet her giggle is. Sweeter than any dessert I’ve tasted.

She is my everything, and apparently, I am hers.

And not until I saw this info graphic, did I realize how she sees me compared to how I see myself.

I’ll be honest, since giving birth, no scratch that, since getting pregnant, no scratch that even, since before getting pregnant, I’ve had body image issues.

I was made fun of a lot when I was younger, and I think that we carry that with us for years even if we don’t consciously do so. I’ve always been extremely self conscious about how I look because of it though and I’ve always strived to achieve this perfect “look” but we all know perfect doesn’t exist and the more we try to reach for it, the more disappointed and let down we feel.

I always thought that the ideal body type was being skinny, but you had to have large breasts or a large butt or a pretty face or nice hair, or all of the above. I never thought I had any besides the skinny factor and I thought well as long as I’m skinny then at least I’m halfway attractive. And then once I got pregnant last year, that kind of went out the window.

It honestly was so hard for me to accept my changing body. In the first few months I gained 6lbs and I began to weigh a lot more than I felt was comfortable. By the fourth month I was 115lbs, more than I had ever weighed in my life! I started to feel fat, which was stupid because I was pregnant! My body was changing and stretching and molding to carry my little girl. How could I hate it so much? It was doing something so incredibly beautiful!

I cried about it a lot. I felt unattractive. I was wearing a size large in clothing and that bothered me. But then something changed. It was after my sixth month, when my ObGyn started giving me a really hard time about my anxiety issues, saying that it was becoming dangerous for my baby. My focus started to go off me and onto her.

What did it matter what I looked like? I need to focus more on being healthy rather than looking beautiful! Beauty is superficial anyway. It fades with time, for everyone!

I started to focus on my body in a new light. This was my baby’s home right now and I needed to make it the best home for her. I needed to think positively and see my body in a more positive light. It was working so hard to create this human being. A miracle really.

I strongly believe now that our thoughts have a huge impact on our health. If we think positively of ourselves, saying affirming thoughts like, “you are perfect just the way you are,” or “you are beautiful inside and out,” then I think our bodies will really take in those thoughts and bless us with good health.

I feel like even on a molecular level, something will change, in a good way.

I started accepting my body, even thanking it for what it was doing, for growing my baby.

I started thanking the way my skin would stretch. The way my breasts would start growing. The way my hair would change. All in preparation for my baby.

And then I gave birth. And I was proud of my body at first, for being so strong, for enduring the pain of bringing my child into the world, for being so capable just as God created it to be.

But then my brain switched back. It started to remember the reasons why it wasn’t enough. It started to slowly forget how strong and capable it had been for the last 9 months. It started to compare my body to other bodies once more.

I began to hate it. I began to notice the flaws. The flabbiness of my stomach. The way my skin looked. The bags under my eyes. The lack of muscle tone. The disappearance of my butt. The way my legs looked chunkier and had a bit of cellulite.

I hated it and would look at it with disgust every time I saw myself naked in the mirror. I forgot how it gave me such a precious gift just a short while ago.

I still look at it on days and wish I was someone different.

But then I saw this photo above that my friend shared and it changed everything once more.

It reminded me that it’s not about me anymore. I am somebody’s mother now. My little girl looks up to me and in her eyes I am perfect, and right now, her eyes are the only eyes that matter.

In her eyes, my tired face and sunken eyes are not those things at all. In her eyes, she sees the face of her beautiful mama looking back at her, happy to see her and showing her love and kindness.

In her eyes, my flabby stomach and squishy midriff isn’t considered fat or unattractive. In her eyes, I am the perfect pillow, a place of safety and comfort.

In my eyes, I feel unworthy, not enough, too emotional, unfit, and weak. But in her eyes, I am strong and stable, I am perfect in every way. I am her everything.

I’m realizing that children look at us the same way that God looks at us. How He sees us as worthy, capable, perfect creations. And how our children see us the same way. They don’t look at us like we are lacking something or imperfect. They don’t notice the extra layer of skin sticking out of the top of our jeans. They don’t notice our sleep deprived eyes or undone hair.

They see mama. Beautiful mama that loves and cares for me. Beautiful mama that provides for me. Beautiful mama that keeps me safe and warm.

And none of that other stuff that we worry about matters.

I hate that there is such pressure on women to bounce back quickly to their “pre-pregnancy” bodies. And even those that do get to that weight, like me, doesn’t mean that they don’t feel the pressure still.

Once we become mothers and go through that process of pregnancy and birth, our body is different. It is not the same as it once was and never will be. And that is how it is supposed to be!

We need to stop placing pressure on ourselves to BE more and just BE.

We need to start seeing ourselves from the perspective of our children and most importantly, God.

We are enough. Just as we are.

God thinks so. And our littles think so.

That should be enough reason to convince ourselves to think the same.

xx

Mama with Grace

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The Mama with Not So Much Grace.

It’s Monday. This is exactly how I feel; like burying my head in a blanket or pillow and just turning off from life.

Every day is too much to handle.

I am literally rushing from one thing to the next with little down time in between. Going back to work is still as much of a nightmare as it was week one. I am literally running down stairs dodging coworkers trying to make it to my husband’s car in order to breastfeed my daughter on breaks and somehow manage to get my work done, eat meals, drink enough water, and keep my sanity. Actually, I’m not so sure about that last part, as I feel quite insane right now.

Breaks do not exist anymore. And it’s freaking me out. I keep questioning how others do this? How do they balance work and home life? Do they have nanny’s? Extra help? Etc?

Currently, I go to work for ten hours while my husband watches our daughter and then when I get home, he goes to work for the rest of the night. We barely see each other. We don’t even have time for each other even when we do because it’s all about taking care of baby and taking care of our own immediate needs like you know…eating, sleeping, showering and the like.

I want to know. What is the secret? Is it really just this hard for everyone? Because if not, I’m starting to feel like there is something very wrong with me, like I just can’t handle things, that I’m just not very capable of working full time and being a mom full time.

In fact, all grace that I used to give myself has gone completely out the window and has been replaced by a massive load of guilt.

Yes. Guilt. Lots and lots of guilt.

I feel guilty because I work full time and am not around for my daughter.

I feel guilty because when I do get home from work I am so incredibly tired that I don’t want to do anything, let alone take care of a baby, play with her, cook dinner, or do laundry.

I feel guilty because I am just this massively angry person now. I feel bitter because I have to work full time and I get mad whenever I see other mothers that are fortunate enough to stay home with their children and raise them completely. I feel angry because my husband gets to stay home instead. I feel angry because I wish he had the breadwinning job and not me. I feel angry because I am so tired and I don’t get any of my needs met on a regular basis like getting enough sleep, eating enough, or even getting to shower as often as I’d like. Forget time for me. Forget relaxation or exercise. Those are luxuries.

And on top of that, I feel guilty because I feel angry.

And I feel guilty because my daughter just wants to stay up and cuddle or comfort feed with me sometimes and honestly I just want her to go to bed so I can get in a more few hours before I have to wake up at 5am.

I feel guilty because she stares at me with longing eyes when my husband brings her to work so I can feed her and I know all she wants is to just spend a little more time with me but all I’m worried about is how quickly I can feed her so I can get back to my desk and tackle the 50 tasks I have to complete before the day’s end.

I feel guilty because we barely eat home cooked meals any more. My family has been bringing us fast food and we eat whatever is easy because I am simply too burned out to prepare a meal, and I know it’s hurting our organic diets and we’re not getting the nutrients we need but I just cannot find the energy to cook dinner for two hours a night like I used to.

I feel guilty because I barely get to read nightly with my daughter like I used to and feel scared that she is not getting enough stimulation or learning throughout the day.

I feel guilty because my husband misses me and we haven’t had a single intimate moment together for months because we are just so damn busy and stressed out and tired. I feel guilty that I haven’t been a good wife, that all I seem to do is complain or yell or cry about how hard life has become.

I feel guilty that when I am not angry, I am depressed and it’s just not getting any better. I feel guilty because I am not a good friend lately. I barely say hello to people. I barely make conversation. I barely ask how anyone is doing because I am so self-absorbed in my own stress and chaos that I can get outside myself for a single second.

I feel guilty because I haven’t prayed in forever and every time I try to I get distracted. I feel guilty because I barely make time for God anymore.

I feel guilty because I feel like I am losing myself. My husband complains that I don’t dress up anymore, that I wear sweatpants every night, that I don’t look happy and cheerful like I used to. And I feel guilty because I know he’s pulling away and it feels like it’s my fault but I don’t know how to fix it right now or I just don’t have it in me.

I feel guilty because my sex drive is gone. My hair is falling out all over the place. I still look like I am a few months pregnant and I haven’t exercised for at least half a year.

I feel guilty because I thought I would be different and I’m not.

I feel guilty because this is all too difficult. It is not easy. And I feel like I am not a good mother nor a good wife.

I feel guilty because I’m driving everybody away.

I feel guilty because I know something is wrong and I haven’t put much effort into making it any better.

The weight of all this guilt is burying me.

And I know I am supposed to give myself grace.

I know I am supposed to think positive and pray.

I know I am supposed to trust God and trust that it will all work out.

But I am having such a hard time doing so.

I’ve been through tough times before. I am no stranger to falling apart and piecing myself back together, but this feels different.

I feel like I am losing on all sides.

My job. My child. My marriage. My finances. My self.

All at once.

It is much too hard.

And I’m not sure what to do except maybe keep running until I can find some peace.

I know that’s not the right answer though.

I know the right answer is to reach out for help and to pray.

I know the right answer is to forgive myself and give myself grace instead of piling on more guilt.

I know the right answer is to make the best of things even if they are hard because they won’t always be hard.

I know the right answer is to trust God even if I don’t know what exactly His plan is or why exactly He is allowing this or when exactly it will get better.

But let’s first start with grace….

Because that is exactly where God would say to begin.

xx

Mama with Grace

Day 1 vs. Day 2

This is my life now.

And I don’t know exactly how to be ok with it yet, and I think that is expected.

Since going back to work yesterday, my days now consist of getting up at 5am, feeding my baby girl, leaving by 6am and taking on a job for a full 8 hours that isn’t the easiest. During that time, I pump twice just to keep my supply up, attempt to get in enough water and food intake for the day while juggling to do all my work, and then managing a quick feed on my lunch break because my daughter still won’t take her bottle.

My good friend told me something yesterday that stuck in my head. She said,

“Welcome the stress. Welcome the anxiety. Welcome it all.”

And I think I get it. Don’t resist it. Don’t get mad that it’s there. Just accept it all. Welcome its presence in your life at this time.

Day one was very hard. I wish there was another word I could describe it as but my brain feels much too limited right now to use any large vocabulary.

I cried. A lot. I cried myself to sleep the night before. I cried on the commute to work. I cried in the bathroom stall. I cried as pumped. I cried at lunch. I cried again when I got home. I didn’t think I had so many tears in me. No wonder I felt so dehydrated.

As soon as I got to work, I felt a complete uneasiness. Everything felt foreign, even though I have worked there for nearly 15 years. I felt like I didn’t belong. I still do. Like its just something temporary and all is going to go back to normal very soon, meaning I get to go back home and be with my daughter.

My coworkers welcomed me back. Some looked genuinely happy to see me, while others it seemed like they were saying hello out of courtesy. I felt like I couldn’t concentrate on anyone though. I was so disconnected. At one point, a coworker was saying hi to me and asking how my daughter was and I completely looked past her like I didn’t even hear what she said. I quickly apologized and said she’s fine, but I just wanted to run away.

And then the actual work. For a second I completely blanked and couldn’t remember what to do, what to say. I felt completely incompetent. I just wanted to quit on the spot and say “I give up! I can’t do this. Bye.”

And they gave me so much work for my first day, which I thought was a bit unfair, but some things also couldn’t be controlled, like the volume of incoming calls from customers. It was Monday after all.

I was going crazy. I didn’t even eat or drink anything until well past 8:30am, almost three hours after waking. My blood sugar was so low. I was shaking. I was anxious. I was parched. Time was moving so fast I felt like I blinked and another hour would pass.

9:30 rolled around and I knew I had to stop what I was doing and pump. I could not risk losing my supply. My daughter’s pediatrician warned me that mother’s usually lose their supply when they return to work due to the high levels of stress. I am determined not to let that happen.

I ran to the lactation room. It was locked. Someone was in there. I waited and waited. Decided I would try again in 5 minutes. Still in there. I tried again in 10 minutes. Still in there. I couldn’t wait any longer. I ran to the bathroom and ended up pumping in the stall. It was terrible. Unsanitary. I cried again. I felt hot. I wanted to run away once more.

I ran back to my desk. I didn’t want to get in trouble for being gone for so long. I had so much to do. Voicemails. Messages. Work piling up. How could this be only day one?

Then it popped in my head, “oh I have a baby at home.” I felt so guilty. I was so busy that I didn’t even have time to text my husband to ask how she was doing. I quickly texted.

“Did you feed her at 8?”

“I tried, but she wouldn’t eat.”

“Did you try again?”

“I tried again at 9:30 but she still wouldn’t eat.”

It was 10:45am. The last time she ate was at 5am! I was freaking out. I knew this would happen. She had been refusing the bottle this whole time and I just figured, well if she’s hungry she will eventually eat, hopefully. She didn’t.

My husband said she had been crying all morning, non stop. And sleeping whenever she wasn’t crying. She was getting lethargic. She needed to eat. I felt even more guilty. I couldn’t do anything. I felt like I was letting her down. I’m supposed to be there. I am her life source. I’m supposed to feed her and I can’t because I have to do this stupid job to make stupid money so that we could live while my daughter is suffering and needs her mother.

I know my husband was doing the best he could, but I don’t think anything can replace a mother. A child needs their mother.

I told him he had to bring her here. I had to feed her. I didn’t want her to get dehydrated. So he brought her at my lunch hour. I didn’t eat lunch and instead she fed the entire time. I just cried and kept kissing her head and hands, telling her over and over again how sorry I am. I didn’t leave her on purpose.

Time was up so soon. I had to go back and somehow finish my day. I felt angry. I felt like I wanted to yell at anyone in my path. I’m sure my coworkers sensed it. Although whenever someone asked me how I was, I couldn’t help but lie and say I was fine. I wasn’t fine. I was dying inside. I wanted to scream. I wanted to scream at them for telling me “oh, it’ll be ok.” No it’s not ok.

I somehow managed to make it through to my second break at 230pm. I pumped again. Called my husband.

“Did you feed her?”

“Yes, I tried, but she wouldn’t eat. She just cries and sleeps.”

I didn’t know what to say. I only hoped time would go faster so I could get home and feed my baby. My poor baby.

Time eventually caught up with my wishes and I got home at 4:10pm. I dropped everything and held her. She gave me the most tired smile. She looked almost lifeless. I could tell that she had been crying a very long time. But she was happy to see me. She actually hugged me. She clamped her arms around my neck when I picked her up.

I immediately sat down and fed her. She ate with a fury. Normally she eats so distracted. Stop and go. But no, today she ate furiously. Gulping it down like her life depended on it. It did. I felt so happy that I could feed her. But I couldn’t stop crying.

The guilt weighed me down. I kept apologizing that she had to go through that today. All I wanted was to hold her and not let go for the rest of the night. She fell asleep again almost immediately after she ate. But this time, with a milk drunk smile. I felt relieved. She was happy and fed. And mama was home.

That night I held her hand as she slept next to me in our bed. I didn’t let go. I watched her sleep for a good while and prayed over and over again for God to do something. I prayed for him to help us get through this rough transition.

She cluster fed all night. I didn’t mind. And I wasn’t tired. It’s amazing how you find the energy when it is coming from a place of love.

It was now Day 2 and I was terrified of a repeat of yesterday. I didn’t cry as much, but I definitely still feel angry, emotional, depressed.

I tried my hardest to turn the feelings into gratitude instead. Listing reasons why I felt grateful.

At least my husband is watching her and she is not in some daycare.

At least I have a good paying job that will support us and provide the things we need.

At least I got to spend 4 months with her.

At least I get to see her during my lunch hour.

The workload lessened a bit today so I didn’t feel as stressed and the memory of doing my job came back to me so I was back in the groove of it, feeling confidence once more. But just because I was doing my job and getting through the day, didn’t mean I was ok.

I’m still not ok.

My daughter still cried a ton today. She still didn’t eat for a majority of the day. And she went to bed an hour earlier than she normally would because she was so tired. I only got to see her for 2 hours today.

Two hours is not enough time.

Do you hear me? TWO HOURS out of TWENTY FOUR is not enough time to see my daughter grow.

And during those two hours I barely was able to do one of the many things I want to do with her.

I couldn’t play with her because she wanted to eat. I couldn’t read her a story because she wanted to sleep. I couldn’t take her for a walk because it was already night. I couldn’t do any of the things we used to do together.

But at least I got to hold her. At least I got to kiss her. At least I got to feed her.

I am grateful for that.

Will it get better? I don’t know. Actually, I do. And no, it won’t.

It will never get easier leaving my daughter. It will never be acceptable that I only get to spend a few hours with her each day.

But this is my life now.

And I’m going to keep welcoming it.

And I’m going to keep fighting to find a way to make it ok again.

xx

Mama with Grace

She is My Why.

As I journey further into the world of network marketing, what I’ve learned that is key to finding success in the business, and really in life I could say, is knowing your why. For a lot of people that might mean that they are doing it simply because they hate having a boss or want to do something they are passionate about or maybe it’s someone like me who is tired of the corporate world and wanting to work hard from home instead.

Why is it important to know our “why?” Because by identifying our “why” we begin to discover what our driving force is that will ultimately bring us success.

The more specific, the more powerful; the more we turn to our “why” when we feel doubt, the more we will be able to face our fears and push through.

My “why” is my daughter.

Never would I have dreamed that a tiny little being like her would inspire me so much.

She has flipped my entire world upside down.

Now everything I do, every decision I make, I think of her.

And she makes me want to be the best version of me, not for myself, but for her.

She is my reason why.

She is the reason I will get up in the morning and work hard. She is the reason why I will make the sacrifices I need to now so that later on, I will be able to give her the best life.

She is my driving force. And I will do whatever it takes to become successful enough to take care of her and provide for her the best I can.

As I mentioned before, my ultimate goal is to transition from corporate job to running a successful business from home so that I can be with her night and day. So I don’t have to sacrifice being away from her any longer. So that I can achieve our goals of homeschooling her and providing her with the best opportunity for education.

I’m going to do it. I am beyond determined.

It’s going to be hard but now that I know my “why”, I can use that as my motivation to keep going and not give up.

Even though I have to return to my corporate job in two days, it’s not an end-all.

Yes, I am incredibly sad still and even anxious about returning but I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I have a goal and I’m going to keep reaching for it until I get there.

This weekend was my last weekend of maternity leave. I was determined to make it the best I could, to really soak up every single second of it with my little.

On Friday, we woke up early and spent the early morning cuddling and watching Sesame Street. As soon as the sun came out, we strolled around the block soaking in the sunshine. We came home and we played on the floor with some toys, did some reading and learning and then cuddled some more for a nap.

After lunch, we decided to head out to Hobby Lobby. We walked through every aisle and took our time. I would bring pieces of beautiful art close to her and her eyes would open up wide as she took it in. She would look up at me from the stroller from time to time and crack open a smile so big, it would just melt my heart. I would tell her how much I’m going to miss our day trips and how I promise we will do it again soon.

At Hobby Lobby, they have a section of wall art for the nursery and there was this one piece that I loved. It was a very simple piece, just one line of a verse.

“For this child, I have prayed…” 1 Samuel 1:27

It was a great reminder from God. How grateful I am for this child. Even though I wasn’t entirely prepared for having a baby when I found out I was pregnant, I remember praying for her nightly. Praying for her to be healthy and strong, beautiful and smart. I was constantly thanking God for this little miracle growing inside me and now that she is here, I can’t believe it sometimes.

I never knew I could love like this.

Of course, I love my husband so very deeply and equally, and that love is a whole other kind of love that I am very grateful to have and experience, but the love of mother and child is completely unique on its own. It’s another level that cannot be explained.

I love that love is not just one thing. It is not just one definition. It is many levels. Many meanings. Many depths. One love is not more than another kind. They are all equal but unique.

Anyway to continue with my story, after Hobby Lobby, I decided we would go to the bookstore as that is my favorite place and seems like one of hers as well.

As soon as we parked, it started to pour! It wasn’t supposed to rain but it did look like it was getting darker as the day went on. I wasn’t entirely prepared though. Yes – I am that mom.

So we decided to wait it out. I went in the backseat with her and unbuckled her. I fed her a bit and after she just sat on my lap as we watched the rain pitter-patter against the window. Again, her smiles came one after the other.

Then, poop. Lots and lots of poop.

Yeah, you didn’t expect that twist.

So it’s pouring rain, I can’t exactly just go inside the store to change her as I can’t get the stroller out without getting us both soaking wet. So I decide we need to change it in the car.

And of course, I’m in my husband’s Prius C, which is very, very tiny. No where to place her down at. I decide we will need to do it on my lap.

As I’m changing her, I’m praying that it’s not a complete blow out as I don’t think I could deal with that mess with her on my lap. Luckily it’s not, and luckily she doesn’t pee on me as I’m transitioning on her new diaper.

Then I sit her back on my lap, as if nothing happened and we continue to watch the rain come down. It was a beautiful, yet comical moment. And I felt so much joy in those few moments.

Finally the rain stopped and we were able to go inside. We walked around looking at all different kinds of books and even picked out a few to bring home.

Once we got home and finished our nightly routines, it was time for bed.

We bed-share so I tucked her next to me and she grasped hold of my arm like she normally does when she falls asleep. I couldn’t stop staring at her for a few moments before I decided to close my eyes and simply pray.

Dear Father, please make it possible for me to stay home with my little girl soon so that I may be present for her in all ways. Provide a way for us financially so that it could be possible. Thank you for this baby. Thank you for allowing her to open my heart in a way that I never knew possible. Amen

I closed my eyes. Happy and complete.

It was the best day ever.

She is definitely my reason why.

xx

Mama with Grace

The Working Mom’s Dilemma.

It’s not enough time. It never is.

Four months. That is all the uninterrupted time I get with you.

Four months of getting to know the ins and outs of your days and trying to figure out some sort of manageable routine.

Four months of spending every single second with you, tending to your every need.

Four months of round the clock feeding, changing diapers, playing games, and rocking you to sleep.

Four months of spending the afternoons doing absolutely nothing but staring at your perfect little face smiling back at me.

Four months of happiness, tears, frustration, and complete and utter bliss.

It’s not enough time.

I don’t want to leave you at 5:30 in the morning while you’re still asleep. I don’t want the only time I see your face to be on a tiny phone screen at break time. I don’t want to miss the new discoveries you make, the way your eyes light up when you learn something new, or the new sounds you make with your voice.

I will miss our morning walks. I will miss our movie marathons and cuddle sessions.

I will miss the days of comforting you when you are sad or hurting.

Because now, I only get you for a few hours a day. And that is definitely not enough.

And I know they say quality over quantity but it’s not always true.

Spending hours with you is my favorite thing in the whole world and taking that away is nearly crushing me.

Six days. That is all I have left until I go back to work full time. The corporate gig. The job taken just to pay the bills.

To say that I am terrified is an understatement. I am worried about your future. I wanted to teach you so many things throughout the day. Take you to places where you will have fun and learn. I wanted to continue allowing you to meet with your friends at the park. I’ll barely have enough time to come home and make dinner, play with you for an hour before I have to put you to bed.

It’s not enough.

I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to leave you. I don’t want to miss anything in your life, especially so early on.

How is it fair? A child should be with their mother especially this young at all times. I read a study that said children should be near their mother at minimum for the first two years of life in order to develop properly psychologically, otherwise most children will start to have early-on attachment issues like feeling abandoned or insecure.

I know I have to do this for you though. I know I have to work for us. To provide. To give you all that you need.

But at what cost? The cost of barely seeing you. Missing out on so much.

It is not fair.

My heart is breaking because I have to leave you. And it’s a pain worse than the physical pain of bringing you into this world.

I’ve spoken with other mothers. I asked them how it felt to go back. One told me, “I’m not the first and I definitely won’t be the last.” I’m not sure how that was any sort of consolation.

Another said it gets easier, that you start to actually enjoy being away during the day because you feel productive again.

Another said they love their job so it felt great to be back.

And another said, their children love daycare and it feels great to get away.

Somehow I don’t relate to any of these mothers. And it saddens me to hear the so many of them found it almost too easy to go back.

Yes, it may end up ok and things will work out and everyone will get used to me going back to work. But no, I’m sorry it will never get easier leaving my child every morning. It will never be a choice I willingly want to make.

No, I don’t love my job and I could care less about my career or being productive.

And yes, I may not be the first or the last, but either way this is hard.

I never thought it would be like this. When I was pregnant, I thought it would be no big deal. Just go back to work and continue on with life, just with a child now. I thought it would be easy, as if everything would go right back to how it was.

But it’s not. I feel different. I am not the same as I once was. I don’t have the same beliefs as I once did. I am far from that person pre-motherhood.

What do I do? This is my dilemma.

Am I strange for being this way? Am I too attached? Do I love too much?

Yes, yes, yes.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am more motivated than ever to figure out a way to stay home but still somehow provide for my family.

I’m praying God will provide a way. I’m praying that He will hear this desire of my heart and help make it possible.

Maybe not now, but soon.

I just don’t understand when God allows more than we can handle in our lives, but I guess it just means I have to keep giving it over to Him completely. Praying that He will give me the strength to endure and to keep going and eventually to wisdom to find a better way.

Because I’m telling you, I am determined and where there is a will, there is a way.

xx

Mama with Grace

Postpartum Self Care.

I’d like to add eating organic “Oreo” cookies to this list, because that is exactly what I am doing while baby is finally asleep. Oh, and also eating meals with both hands. That definitely falls into the “luxury” category these days.

I’ll be honest. My self-care rituals have gone out the window. Not really by choice, but simply because I just don’t have the opportunity or time anymore. Little one demands so much of me these days, that there really is not enough energy leftover to take care of my own needs.

I’ll be happy if most days I can get in a few meals and a shower. I know, it shouldn’t be that way, but it is reality. Most moms I know would agree.

And I, of all people, should understand the importance of taking care of oneself. I mean, I did write an entire blog about it in my former life (which you can read here).

All aside, self-care really is important. And I think for moms especially because we live a life where so many demand so much of us; our littles, our husbands, significant other, family members, jobs, friends, just to name a few.

I read somewhere that being a mom is like working 2.5 full time jobs. That is insane!

And it bothers me when people say that moms don’t really do much but take care of the children. They don’t realize what taking care of the children entails, but also the fact that we take care of so much else in our lives too!

It truly is a thankless job and one that requires sacrifice.

I went to a birthday party today as it was one of my daughter’s friend’s 1st birthday. At the party, there was a lovely female musician who sang this beautiful song in honor of the birthday girl and some of the lines from the song really stood out to me because it rang so true. It was basically a song about the process of becoming a mother and how the child transforms the woman into a mother. I believe the song is called “the mother” by Brandi Carlile if anyone cares to listen. But the song goes:

The first things that she took from me were selfishness and sleep.
She broke a thousand heirlooms I was never meant to keep.
She filled my life with color, canceled plans and trashed my car,
but none of that was ever who we are.

That first part where it talks about the daughter taking away the mothers selfishness is SO TRUE.

One of the first lessons I learned about being a mother is how selfish I am. How stuck inside my own head I am. How I am mostly thinking about me.

When you have a child, thinking about you goes out the window. You have to put that child’s needs first, especially when they are very young because they depend on you fully. They are incapable of taking care of their needs, so it is up to you to nurture them. That sometimes means forgoing your own needs. Skipping a shower. Losing sleep. Eating after they are done feeding even though you are starving.

Does it mean you are less important? No, not necessarily. It just means that being a mother means you have to make sacrifices and making sacrifices is not a bad thing because it means you are putting another’s needs above your own, which is what we are called to do at times.

BUT, we are important too and we must not forget that.

BECAUSE we cannot fill others when we ourselves are empty. We must remember to fill ourselves up once in a while too so that we can continue taking care of our loved ones.

So how do we take care of ourselves? How do we fulfill our needs especially as a mother?

I’m figuring out that self care pre-pregnancy and post-partum are very, very different.

Before you get pregnant, it’s all about what you WANT. Eyebrows? Nails? Hair? Go do it. Workout whenever you want. Go shopping. Whatever.

After you give birth, self- care starts to be more about nourishing yourself with what you truly NEED.

A ten minute break all to yourself to just collect your thought and meditate.

A meal without interruption.

A day to go run errands all by yourself.

A workout session that makes you feel good both mentally and physically, rather than doing it just to push yourself to lose a few pounds.

I think self-care when you are a mom moves to another level. A deeper level. You start to question what you truly need in order to feel replenished and recharged.

To make this post even longer than it already is, I’m going to bring up postpartum bodies and how it ties in to self care.

Lately, every time I take a shower, right before I get into the shower, I stare at myself naked in the mirror. And lately, I’ve even noticing how my stomach is a lot softer than it used to be. It still even looks a bit like I am a few months pregnant. My breasts seem saggier than they used to be. My butt is practically nonexistent. My face looks more tired than it used to be. I look aged. My hair, always unkept.

I don’t know why it has taken me this long to notice it all. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy with baby or maybe it’s because I’ve been in some sort of denial. But I don’t look the way I used to pre-pregnancy and lately, that is bothering me a lot.

Part of my self-care goals is that I will eventually start working out again. Maybe it will have to be less than what I used to do. Maybe I will have to incorporate baby somehow, but one way or another, I want to fit it in.

Partially because I am not very fond of my stomach and butt, but also because I just want to feel good again. I miss a good workout session and the feeling of endorphins filling up my brain and body.

The second part of my self-care goals is to speak kindly to myself. This one is probably harder than figuring out time to work out.

I don’t know why it is so hard for me to speak kind things to myself. I’m very hard on me. I constantly feel like I am not enough on multiple levels. And even though I’ve been working on this for years, I seem to make enough progress only to fall behind again.

But ever since giving birth, I have fallen way behind on the kindness factor.

It’s time.

It’s time to start being kind. It’s time to start a self care routine.

Of course, my little girl is still going to need a lot from me and so is my husband and all the other parts of my life, but I have to make a conscious effort to also take care of me.

I need to fill me up so I can fill everyone else up too.

So I’ll start now.

You are beautiful. Your postpartum body is beautiful. You are a good mother. You are a good wife. You do enough. You are enough.

Your turn.

xx

Mama with Grace

The Moms of Target.

Target is a wonderful place. Honestly, I’ve always wondered what all the stay at home moms do during the day and today I found my answer.

They raid the aisles of Target.

This morning I got up at 7:30am with baby, had breakfast and decided that today was going to be the day I would tackle grocery shopping. I’ve been putting it off for weeks simply because it is HARD to do, especially with a four month old.

Trying to navigate the pram, entertain baby, and carefully pick out your items is not a task for the faint of heart, and especially more so at Target.

So we get there at around 930am. From the drive over and her screaming the entire way, I can already tell this is not the best idea.

I made sure to feed her and change the diaper before we left but I guess I forgot about the fact that she had been up since 730am, without a nap, so it was getting to be that time.

Nonetheless, I was determined to get my shopping done. No turning back now, so we would just have to make do.

I quickly take out the pram and strap her in. Still screaming. I start my shhhing to try to get her to calm down and I fast walk towards the entrance.

I’m already catching the attention of the workers outside repainting the fire lane curbs.

::Winces:: I promise I am a good mother and I did feed the baby, so no, she’s not hungry.

I quickly move past them and inside.

I pull to the side for a quick wellness check on the little and already spot the stay at home moms.

There’s always a few types that stroll the aisles of Target.

The strong-willed, take no crap mom.

She is the one that gets in and gets out. She has a list and you better believe she’s determined. I don’t know how she does it with three kids trailing her and a baby in the shopping cart. One wants ice cream. The other, a new toy. One wants to go home, and the baby just in it for the joy ride. And somehow she manages, lassoing them all together as she throws another box of cereal in the cart. I sympathize with her for taking on the challenge, but she is one strong-willed mama. She’s been through the trenches, and she’s not taking anything from anybody.

If anyone would understand my crying child, she can, because she’s been through it before. She quickly gives me a nod as I move past her towards the snacks.

Finally little one seems to calm herself. I decide this would be the perfect time to gather all the things I need before time runs out. I quickly grab my eggs, rice, beans, yogurt, frozen veggies and other essentials I use throughout the week.

Got everything on my list. Check!

Time for a bit of “me” time, since baby is now asleep.

I head towards the book section. If you’re a reader, like me, don’t you love how Target seems to have a great book selection? They always have the most amazing picks, kind of like a mini-version of Barnes and nobles.

Next up, I quickly browse the baby aisle where I run into pregnant mom.

Oh she is so full of hopes and dreams she is ready to burst figuratively (and literally, I guess). She seems like she is almost due and picking up a few last minute essentials before baby’s arrival.

I want to stop and give her a bit of advice, you know, mom to mom. I want to tell her that having this baby is going to be tough, but worth every bit. That there are going to be plenty of sleepless nights, moments of crying – her and baby, and days where she feels like she isn’t very good at this whole mother thing. But there will also be moments to complete bliss with her baby, smiles and coos that will melt her heart.

I see her looking at the wipe warmer and I just want to warn her not to buy into all the gadgets and gizmos that they try to sell you. That most for the loads of baby clothes you will get from others, won’t ever be worn because they outgrow them so fast. I want to tell her to buy a lot of diapers, because really diapers, wipes, blankets and a lot of patience and love is all you will really need. And most importantly, I want to tell her that she is going to be a good mom, and not to worry.

But I just keep going. I’m not the type to make conversation with strangers. I’m better at writing out my thoughts instead of saying them out loud to others.

I pick up a teething mitt for little one. It’s so cute with little cacti printer on the mitten part and the silicone shaped like a cactus. She’s teething right now so I’m sure it’ll be perfect for her since she can’t quite fully grasp the other teether I bought her. I have to still hold it for sometimes.

I browse a few more things and then make my way towards the active wear. They always have such cute things but working out is far down my list of things to do. I do my walks daily but yoga or anything more is kind of out of question right now.

Then I turn the corner to the women’s clothing section.

And there she is.

“Has it all together mom” With her fancy pram, designer sunglasses, hair perfectly done, cute outfit and Starbucks. She strolls around with her perfectly behaved child that plays quietly by himself. No crying. No fussing. She has all the essentials packed in her cute leather diaper bag – snacks, wipes, extra diapers, you name it. She probably doesn’t work. You won’t find her scrambling around and looking like a hot mess.

She’s intimidating, but deep down I know her secret.

She’s not as perfect as everyone thinks.

And her child isn’t either.

She may look like she has it all together but really she’s just the same as all of us moms.

She probably struggles with something. Maybe her baby is well behaved right now but in an hour he will be screaming on the car ride home. Maybe she feels lonely or sad. Maybe she puts herself together because she is trying to feel like herself again, trying to feel beautiful especially after all the changes her body just went through.

I look at her and behind those sunglasses I know she’s just the same as me.

I know she’s experienced the kind of meltdown I just had prior to coming inside the store. Her child has probably screamed their head off in the parking lot while construction workers turned their heads wondering what is wrong.

She’s probably felt moments where she questioned her own sanity, or where she didn’t know if she was a good enough mother or whether her husband still thought she was beautiful.

I passed her by and I just smiled, speaking to her with my eyes as if to say, “you don’t have to pretend that you have it all together.”

I realized that deep down inside we are all that mom.

We are all trying to pretend we have it all together in some form for the sake of proving that we are good mothers.

But good news is, we don’t have to.

As long as we are loving our children and taking care of their needs, then we are good moms.

That’s all we really need to have together and the rest will just flow how it flows.

If moms supported one another, encouraged one another instead of placing each other in different stereotypes, then maybe there would be less separation between us all.

Maybe it would be easier to get out of our postpartum depression or let go of our anxieties. Maybe we could bounce back faster and feel more confident about ourselves.

Maybe we wouldn’t feel the need to pretend to be something we aren’t. And that pressure to be perfect will be off.

What mom was I today?

The hot mess mom.

The one who has the screaming child. Who can barely find time to shower, let alone do her hair. She’s the one that has the completely unorganized diaper bag and when she pulls out her wallet from the mess, everything else falls out with it. Her child is always missing a sock, or hat, or something. She forgets the blanket at home when it’s cold or an extra pair of clothes when the one her child had on gets soiled. She’s terrible at diaper changes on the run. And when confronted for conversation, can barely remember her name.

In truth, aren’t we all of these moms at some point?

What if we created a new type of mom.

The perfectly imperfect one.

The mom that is perfect just the way she is. The mom that is doing a great job because she’s really trying. The mom that loves her kids so much. The mom that does her best everyday no matter how hard it is. The mom that is beautiful inside and out.

I want to be that mom.

How about you?

xx

Mama with Grace