More than Mama

In these little years, it be incredibly hard to not let motherhood completely consume you. You’ve got these tiny little humans depending on you during their every waking moment. Whether you’re with them all day or not, they’re on your mind 24/7. And that’s great! That’s evolution at it’s finest— you’re hardwired to put their best interests above your own. There have been countless hours of sacrificed sleep, endless skipped meals, and definite periods of life where you’re kids looked like a BabyGap ad while you were rocking three-day-old yoga pants and a ponytail.

Sweet Mama, you’re doing an amazing job, but there’s something I want you to remember: you’re not JUST Mama. You’re so, so much more than that.

You’re a wife

Before those little sweet humans arrived, there was just the two of you. And when those same littles grow up, it’ll be the two of you again. Don’t let that spark fade, Mama. Kindle the fire, nurture it, and let it grow.

You’re a friend

Remember all those people you used to talk to before motherhood consumed you? They miss you. They’re still there, waiting. Reach out to them.

You’re a child

Funny how it all comes full circle. Those things you swore you’d “never do” or “never say” to your future children slowly manifest themselves to humble you and remind you to call your mother. Do it. Remind her how much you love her and thank her for raising a strong, self-sufficient adult (#humblebrag).

You’re a goddess

YAS, Mama. You are a mother-freaking goddess who should be treated as such. With no makeup on, dry-shampooed hair, and athleisure wear as a daily staple, you’re still fire. You are a strong and powerful woman who is a force to be reckoned with. Don’t forget it.

You’re a warrior

You have taken on one of life’s most noble tasks: you’re raising the next generation. You’re grooming and teaching and molding and sculpting these tiny humans into incredible global citizens who will no doubt change our world. You’ve got this.

You’re YOU

There is only one you, Mama. You’re the one that your littles need right now, even when you don’t feel like you’re doing enough. The world needs you, in all your stunning mama-goddess-warrior glory. Embrace it.

Xo

The Motherhood NO ONE Warns You About

If you’re a new(ish) parent and you aren’t being bombarded with parenting advice, stories, and helpful “tips” 24/7, consider yourself an anomaly. In today’s society (especially in this world of blogging and social media), it seems like everybody is an expert. You have kids? Great, tell me how to parent mine. Oh, you DON’T have kids, even better! Keep the advice coming. It can be insanely overwhelming and while sometimes helpful, often times leave you feeling like you’re doing this whole thing totally wrong.

Guess what? You’re not. You’re doing YOU and your family and that’s totally legit and bad ass. There are a few things, however, that I feel like we don’t talk about enough. Things that happen much later– after that “new mama” stage, once you *think* you have things under control and handled. Things that are totally real and true, but you won’t really understand ’em until you live ’em.

  • You’ll do weird, gross things all day long and not be phased: Between changing (and examining) dirty diapers, wiping snotty noses, and eating random scraps of old toddler food, you’re definition of “gross” will be markedly different than that of your childless friends. You’ll do things that you’ll vow to never tell another human about and then proceed to tell your spouse in painfully specific details, because if you had to experience it, so do they.
  • You’ll be insanely silly and pray no one sees you/heard what you said: If you’ve never gotten WAY TOO INTO a game of make-believe, showcased your horrendous dancing or singing in the name of pretend concerts, or told knock-knock jokes that make virtually zero sense to entertain a child… just wait. You’re time is coming… you just better hope no other grown adults (or cameras) are around.
  • You’ll have REALLY hard minutes, hours, days, and even weeks… but you’ll bounce back: Man, parenting is so.freaking.hard. I don’t know that there’s a truer test of self-confidence than parenting a young child; those little humans will break you down and test every ounce of patience you didn’t even know you had. The crazy thing? Moments later (if you’re lucky), they’ll be back to their incredible selves and they’ll remind you why you don’t just up and leave ’em. {Real talk, though: post-partum depression is NO JOKE and if these moments aren’t passing, there’s ZERO shame in seeking help}.
  • You’ll have ALL THE FEELINGS: People talk about being more emotional after having kids and I always equated this to a more compassionate, lovey-dovey kind of emotional. Wrong… sort of. This one swings all over the dang emotions map. Feeling sad for your kiddo? Grab some tissues and get ready to cry a river. Feeling happy for your kiddo? Mama, that pride is shining out of you like beams from the sun. Feeling angry at your kid, because of your kid, or at someone else FOR your kid? Ohhhh Lord, ain’t no wrath like that of a mama bear. Also, you should probably grab those tissues again, because as a parent I’ve angry-cried more than I ever would’ve predicted. Parenthood brings out #allthefeels for all the reasons.

There’s probably about 10 more things that no one told me about (like how awful breastfeeding can be, how ridiculous mom-shamers are, how to teach my kids to be bored once in a while), but #mombrain is also a very real thing. And if you’re a mother, you know that I currently have approximately 12 other things demanding my attention at the moment, so off I go.

Until next time, Xo.

Jess

 

Parenting: It’s Hard AF

Mamas, have you found your parenting “sweet spot”? Where you feel like you’ve finally hit your stride and things are easy-breezy? Like you’ve finally figured this whole #momlife thing out? If you answered yes to any of these questions, GIVE THE REST OF US YOUR SECRETS!!! WHY ARE YOU HOLDING OUT ON US?!? Seriously though, I need to know what you’re doing. For me, I seem to ride on this wave—the parenting ocean, if you will. It seems like every time I start feeling really good about my mom skills, chaos erupts and everything changes. Never get too sure of yourself, right?

Don’t believe me? Girl, just wait. Read on, because after all, if we can’t laugh about it then surely we’ll cry. And to be honest, there’s been more than enough crying at my house today. I thought I had this whole “mom of two” thing locked down; we were a well-oiled machine. UNTIL. There’s always an “until”.

Exhibit A:

I am not exactly what you call a homebody. I get so bored staying home all day, so we frequent places like Target and H-E-B on the regular, simply because it gets us out of the house. I felt like we had gotten pretty darn good at it. UNTIL… I decided to bring both kiddos with me to look for a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding. This place happens to not allow carts in the dressing rooms, which led to our downfall. Said place also has the kind of dressing rooms that are open at the bottom, creating apparently the most exciting obstacle course for a one year old to climb through. Rather than try on dresses, I spent the duration of our time in the dressing room wrangling my toddler and trying to corral him into one 3×3 square instead of crawling full speed at half-naked strangers. There was quite a bit of what can only be described as a “stern whisper” as I tried to simultaneously convince O to stay in the room and M to stop yelling at her brother. Talk about a good time.

Exhibit B:

Same day as above. Abandoned the dress idea and thought it would be easier to look for shoes. But, of course, I forgot any sort of carrier for O and we went somewhere that lacked carts. As I tried on shoes, I assigned M the task of keeping her brother in the same aisle as us. It started out great as O explored the shoe boxes in my immediate vicinity. I’m super picky, so I finally found two pairs to try. In as much time as it took me to pull the size 7 rose gold beauties out of the box, chaos erupted. O decided to make his move, crawling at lightning speed to get as far away as possible. M takes her role as big sister and subsequent protector VERY seriously, which led her to run behind him, also at full speed, and full-body tackle him to the ground to stop him. This, of course, caused him to immediately start screaming and crying, causing everyone in the building to give us the side-eye as I scrambled to pick up my children and high-tail it towards the parking lot. Wonderful.

Exhibit C:

Both my kids slept in—WIN! However, that meant we were running super late for our morning routine. I scrambled to make breakfast and get everyone ready to leave for Stroller Strides. At the same moment I realize it’s time to go, I also remember that I need to load the stroller into the car AND stop to get gas. Cue even more rushing around. As I put M’s shoes on, I turn too quickly and knock a full cup of coffee onto the carpet. I half-heartedly clean it up, salvage the approximately 3 oz of coffee left in the tumbler, and we get out the door. As I pull out of the gas station, the cup goes flying from my cup holder and my last few drops of goodness cover the passenger seat. Oh, and that same afternoon, we packed up ALL the things, lubed up with sunscreen, and attempted to go to the pool. We were there somewhere between 5 and 7 minutes before O lost his ever loving mind. M wasn’t ready to leave, so she also start bawling. So, we packed EVERYTHING back up, avoided the eye contact and came home. Super worth it.

So uh… yeah.

It’s still hard. I feel like there’s this whole secret world of parenting that no one really tells you about. The parts where you will feel like you have NO IDEA what you’re doing. Where you’ll cry out of sheer frustration, not because of what your kid is doing, but because you don’t know how to “properly” handle it. Where you’ll lie awake at night and second guess what your kids eat or how they behaved at a playdate or whether you’re royally screwing them up or not.  The good news (the bad news? I haven’t decided) is that as long as you’re worrying about these things, I can promise that you’re a good mom. We’re all good moms. We’re good moms when it’s easy and we’re good moms when it’s hard. We’re good moms even when we feel like awful moms. Because as it just turns out that even when things seem easy, parenting is hard AF.

True Life: We Live With a Tiny Tyrant

Have you ever had one of those moments where your child is screaming and crying because they want something or maybe they’re upset about something so irrational, that you yell out “TOO BAD!” As you’re walking away? … yeeeaaahhh, not my finest parenting moment. 

Here’s the deal y’all: three is no joke.

The whole time we were in the twos, I had heard all about how three so much worse. I kept thinking how that was totally fine because twos were a dreamboat for us. I figured, “well, this is a breeze, so some slight degree harder than this will still be nothing”.

*Insert me eating my words at this exact moment. *

We’ve housed a three year old for approximately two months and in the last couple of weeks, she’s taken up residence as our house Tyrant. She rules the roost with iron fist and a heart of gold. I realize that the last sentence was kind of contradictory, but it makes sense, I swear. That’s because the most confusing part of raising a three-year-old: it’s actually more like raising two totally different three year olds at once. 

One of our three year olds is sweet and caring and utterly hilarious. This one loves playing pranks, inventing new games, coloring pictures for friends and family, and snuggling before bed. She gives the most precious hugs and kisses and declares her love for you every other breath. But the other one? Well the other one has epic meltdowns in the middle of stores. The other one balls up her fists in rage and screams in your face with tears in her eyes. She wont leave the house because you didn’t style your hair the way she likes. (True story) This one makes you realize the truth behind the saying “the days are long, but the years are short”, because these days feel SO long. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t a post about how I have a solution for you if you’re living with a threenager. This is more of a reminder to myself (and I guess to you!) to remain calm. To read about how children’s brains develop; about impulse control, or lack thereof, at three years old. To remember that these little tiny bodies are housing big feelings and even bigger emotions that they haven’t learned how to handle yet. To remember the second half of that quote: “…the years are short”. As parents, it’s our job to teach our little ones how to handle themselves when they’re overcome with emotions in a short, short period of time. Think about it: we expect our kids to go from toddling little babies to acting like mature, reserved adults. Clearly that logic is flawed.

Some days, I’m really good about staying calm and using what I know about nurturing this delicate developmental stage. And other days (Hell, a lot of times it’s in the same day), I shout “TOO BAD” while walking out of the room. When that happens, I almost immediately turn back, feeling awful for being so frustrated and insensitive. No one WANTS to act like a lunatic. It’s a trying time for all of us. 

I hope that I’ll read this in six months and laugh. That I’ll be able to write a follow-up post all about how “it gets better” and I’ll write about my glorious advice to you. Until then, I’ll keep sending myself subtle reminders to hold it together, to take lots of deep breaths… and drink lots of wine. Cheers, friends. 

Xo 

“I want you to know…”: An Open Letter to Myself

Hi friend,

How are you? Aside from all the niceties, REALLY how are you? You look tired. I know that you’re sick of hearing that, because obviously you’re tired. I know you get frustrated that you can’t do it all; that you aren’t the perfect mom; that you don’t have it all figured out yet. But there are a few things I’ve been meaning to tell you and I think it will be easier if I put it all down on paper.

I want you to know that you don’t have to do it all. I know that you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and that everything needs to be perfect all.the.time. That if it isn’t perfect, you’re failing as a wife and as a mother. I know it’s hard, but it’s okay to let things slide once in awhile. It’s okay to ask for help. If you let go of just a little bit of control, I promise everyone will survive. No one is expecting you to have it all together all the time.

I want you to know that you’re not alone. Motherhood is a strange beast. It can bring you overwhelming community and deafening silence. I know that it can feel like no one really understands, but how will you know if you never try? I’ve learned that adult friendships are often masked with a veil of falsehood. No one wants to admit their struggles or hardships. There’s this unspoken fear of looking “less than”. I want you to know that we’re ALL “less than”. No matter how it looks on social media, some days are picture perfect and you never want them to end… and others, well the others are filled with watching the clock until it’s an “appropriate” time to pour a glass of wine. That’s NORMAL. That’s REAL. Allow yourself some grace; you’re doing a great job.

I want you to know that I love you, despite how many times I might say otherwise. Don’t be so hard on yourself. The world is hard on you enough, so why be that way on yourself? Sometimes you can be your own worst enemy. You might not have the perfect body and your nails might be chipping 99% of the time, but those things don’t define you. Remember that every imperfection, every dimple, every out-of-place hair makes you unique and tells your story. Your story is important. Let it shine.

I hope you know that I’m proud of you. I know that your days are long, busy, and often stressful. You worked tirelessly, often with little thanks. You’ve worked hard to get to where you’re at. Those degrees that sit unused on the shelf? I promise they’ll be worth it– someday. It’s hard to not know exactly where you are or where you’re going. For now, I want you to take some time for you. Be present in the moment. Give yourself grace. Live more “hands free” and free-range. Your life isn’t perfect, but it’s not supposed to be.

You’re exactly you and that’s just perfect.

Love you always,

me

 

Fave Finds {5/8/17}

 

Current

o b s e s s i o n s :

  • NYX Wonder Pencil: If you’re reading my blog, I am going to assume a few things about you. You’re probably a female, most likely you’re a mom, and you’re probably in your 20’s or 30’s. If you don’t meet these criteria, DON’T GO! There is still a lot of goodness here for you! However, if you ARE a female (or heck, maybe you’re a dude who wears makeup– I’m not one to judge!), you need one of these wonder pencils. This little pencil is my jam when I need to brighten up my eyes… aka everyday. It comes in three shades, is under $5, and you can find it everywhere (Target, H-E-B, Ulta, and Amazon all have it!). I primarily use it to line my waterline and blend into the inner-corners of my eyes, but you can use it as a concealer pencil or lip liner, too. It’s sooo simple, but makes a huge difference. {If you’re interested, I’ll post a tutorial on how I use it! Let me know in the comments!}
My itty-bitty wonder pencil
  • Kitchun No-Grain-OlaThis no-grain-ola is ahhhh-mazing, y’all. So I posted about following a low-carb diet, which includes no grains. The biggest struggle for me has been finding snacks that are low-carb, low-fat, and NOT fruit. Okay, and the whole no sweets thing is super duper hard, but really, this covers both, which makes it even MORE amazing. These Kitchun “granolas” are dairy free, soy free, grain free, and Paleo certified. So… what ARE they?! They’re little bags of Heaven filled with nuts and seeds and topped with things like organic maple syrup and/or raw honey. Listen, I get that technically this counts as “sweets”, but I figure that if it’s between a handful of this and a few cookies, this is a clear winner. I recently found out that they have a line called “Batch, Please!” which follows the same nutritional guidelines, but are {c o o k i e s}, so I’m definitely going to need check those out! I bought mine at H-E-B, but you can also find them on Amazon.
yes, yes, and more YES
  • Silk Almond Vanilla Creamer: Apparently I’m on a food kick here. Can you tell that this “diet” (read more here) has me a little hyper-focused on what I’m eating?! Anyway, this isn’t actually a new thing for our house, but I am so in love with it that I figured I would share for all my dairy-free friends. This creamer is where.it’s.at. It’s rich, creamy, and free of any dairy, lactose, carrageenan, gluten, or MSG. If you’re going to use a flavored creamer, it’s nutritionally super comparable to a dairy version, like Bliss All-Natural Creamer, but with carbs and sugar being slightly lower (4g vs 5g). Oh, and it tastes like Heaven, so there’s that.
  • Homemade body butter/lotion: Certainly I’m not the only one who just found out how easy it is to make your own lotion? I have been using straight coconut oil for some time now (I leave a jar in the shower and just slather it on directly after washing!), but this is even better and ridiculously easy. I’m not going to go into TOO much detail, because I’ve got a tutorial coming up for you, but know this:

making your own all-natural lotion is {simple}, {cheap}, and {effective}

  • ONE little MOMMA’s blog and Instagram: I’ve been following Kilee on her instagram for a looonnggg time. This chick has INCREDIBLE style, adorable kids, is a bad-ass entreprenur, AND she’s gorgeous, so following her is easy. In terms of go-to ideas for “mom style”, she’s got it all figured out. She somehow always looks put together, even if it’s just a t-shirt and jeans. She has her own business, Nickel and Suede, where she hand-crafts gorgeous leather goods and apparel. Her leather earrings are killer: bold statement and totally lightweight. I strive to be more like her, style-wise, and I often debate cutting my hair short again just because her hair always looks awesome! On her blog, she writes about “everyday style, beauty, and real life”. If you aren’t following her, you need to be. You can also check her out on instagram @onelittlemomma. I should add, this is in no way sponsored; she actually has no idea who I am or that I’m writing this! I just genuinely adore her and her style!
I mean, am I right, or am I right?! She’s #goals.

WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY DIGGING?

WANT TUTORIALS? HAVE YOU TRIED ANY OF THIS AWESOME STUFF?! TELL ME ABOUT IT!

Well, Here Goes Nothing…

Everyone has that one thing that makes them feel fulfilled. You know, that thing that makes you smile, no matter how awful your mood. That thing that just gives you warm and fuzzy, pure, child-like excitement. Do you know yours? I ask because I only recently discovered mine. My husband, Kyle, and I were talking about my reasons for starting this blog. As we sat and picked through my vision and what I hope to accomplish here, he made a statement that really opened my eyes. He paused and just stared at me.

“Do you know what I’ve noticed, lately more so than ever?

You seem like you’re at your genuine happiest

when you’re helping other people. Have you noticed that?”

Surprisingly, I hadn’t really thought about it before. It makes total sense, though, given my day to day. As a trainer, I help people reach their goals and find their confidence. As a special education teacher, I help my students become more productive members of society. And as a mother, I get to watch my children grow and learn and become the amazingly brilliant little humans they are. All of those things give me that warm and fuzzy feeling where I smile until my cheeks hurt.

Through blogging for FIT4MOM Austin and Austin Mom’s Blog, I realized that I *also* find joy sharing stories with others. I truly love reading about other women’s lives and being able to share my experiences with them (maybe I’m also just a tad bit nosey?! It’s debatable)  Sharing our stories is so, SO important. Why? Because motherhood is hard. Adulting is hard (yes, I am using “adulting” as a word). And we have a beautiful gift of the internet, which allows us to connect with people all over the world. How can we NOT take advantage of that?!

While I love blogging for others, I also feel like I need my own creative space. A place where I can write about my goof-ball husband, who finds it hilarious that I nearly jump out of my skin for no reason at all–at least once a day– because I’m a big scaredy-cat.Where I can write about my failed gardening attempts and how in my mind I have a bangin’ vegetable garden, complete with chickens and goats and a fully-functioning compost bin. Where I can write about the endless crafts and recipes I whip up with my kids as part of our semi-homeschooling curriculum that I make up as I go. And where I can write about what I struggle with as a wife, as a friend, and as a mother.

It’s my hope that this writing will help you find a little bit of joy. That we can build connections, near or far, over our successes and our struggles. That if I share a little bit more of my story, maybe you’ll be compelled to share a little bit more of yours. It’s always scary to put yourself out there, but what a shame it would be to waste an opportunity to connect. So, I’m inviting you to follow along on my journey. Maybe you’ll decide to share a little bit of yourself back, maybe not. Either way, here goes nothing…