Category: family

Things You Might Learn About Your First Child, After Having Your Second Child

Hello my beautiful friends! As most of you know by now, we welcomed our sweet baby girl in to the world on March 30, 2017. Frankie Grace is made up of the purest form of sweetness you could ever imagine. We are all so very smitten with her; no one more so than her wonderful big sister, Ayden.

I knew that adding another member to our family would come with some changes and even some growing pains, but all of the anticipation in the world couldn’t have possibly prepared me for the explosion of love that has happened in our family. It’s seriously a beautiful thing. However, and this is an AND statement, bringing a new child in to the mix, definitely came with some fun(ny) discoveries about our first child. Maybe you can relate:

Child #1 Suddenly Has an Instant Growth Spurt

My first born baby-child was a cute little 5 year old the day before I gave birth to #2. But somehow in the span of 24 hours, she became a Giant KID. I am being 100% serious. Her face changed, her eyebrows changed, her hands grew–everything! 2 months later, and I am still staring at her trying to figure out who she is.

Child #1 Becomes Louder than LOUD

Have you always been this loud?! Seriously, child. Why must you YELL when you speak? Why must you speak at such volumes when the itty bitty baby is asleep? In fact, why must you speak at all? Just kidding… sort of.

Child #1 Does Not Know Her Own Strength

Do you remember Lenny from ‘Of Mice and Men’, when he loved the baby mouse so much that he actually squeezed it to death? Yeah… Fortunately my first child loves (and I mean LOVES), the new baby. Unfortunately, she hasn’t quite figured out that she’s got a good 35 pounds on her baby sis. Can you say aggressive hugging?

Child #1 Has an Incredible Capacity For Love

I knew this kid was a lover, but this new baby sister unlocked an entire new world of feelings for our first. It is quite miraculous to see the instant love and care that our oldest had for her baby sis. Cue allllll the feelings.

Child #1 Wants to Help with Everything

And I mean EVERYTHING. Only it’s not exactly helpful to have an extra little body and set of grabby hands, trying to assist in every little task.

Child #1 Becomes a Monkey Gymnast

Suddenly, every baby contraption and piece of furniture in our home has become a potential jungle gym. I honestly don’t remember if my first born was climbing the walls (quite literally) prior to the arrival of numero dos, but I am sure as heck aware of it now.

Child #1 Has Way too Many Dolls

Speaking of baby contraptions… I am pretty sure that my oldest thinks that all of the baby equipment and swag is for her baby dolls. In fact, I did not realize just how many dolls this child even had in her possession. I can tell you that there are enough to occupy every single baby chair, swing, car seat, basket, bassinet, carrier and changing table, simultaneously.

Child #1 is Incredibly Resilient

As with most things in life, no one can really prepare you for monumental changes, like adding another human to your family dynamic. There will be a transitional period, and it will  make you question your life choices. The good news is, it passes. Child number one will not only survive it, but might just knock your socks off with her resilience through it all.

Does any of this ring true for you? I’d love to hear about your experience!

xo, Em

Birth Plans, Expectations and Motherhood

Well, some time has lapsed since my last post, but you’ll have to excuse me as I have been busy growing a human. 😉 So here I sit, 39 weeks (and some change) pregnant, and all backed up with stuff I meant to write about. However it’s hard to think of much else other than pregnancy and the anticipation of a new baby at this point, to be honest.

Birth Plans, Expectations and Motherhood

I tend to like to write about the secret truths that aren’t always talked about as openly as I believe they should be. And lately I have become present to some doozies.

A couple of months ago, my doctor asked me what my birth plan was. I consider myself a pretty easy patient, as I don’t have many demands or plans about my delivery, (or so I thought). My response was, ‘Well… I’d prefer not to be induced, and not to have a c-section.’ He was pretty confident that we could achieve those two goals, especially because I was able to go in to natural labor with Ayden. I didn’t think too much of that conversation again until recently.

My first labor experience was not the most ideal of situations. I had a very long labor (36 hours), and by the time my contractions were full-force at 1 minute apart, my body was stuck at 2 centimeters and not progressing any further. As I understand it, typically by that time, you would be pretty close to push-time (and close to 10 centimeters dilated). There were some scares during labor, with the baby’s heart rate dropping, and I was closer to an emergency c-section than I ever knew. It was a dramatic scene, and drama is really the last thing you want in your delivery room.

So, cut to present day… 39 weeks with baby number two and desperately hoping for a different labor experience. Last week I geared up for my 39 week appointment. This pregnancy has been different than my first in several ways–for starters, it has been more physically grueling. But on the upside, this baby dropped a few weeks ago, and Ayden never dropped until labor. I was super confident that I would leave my doctor’s office finding out I was 2 or 3 centimeters dilated. I was excited to get checked! But to my dismay I was 0 centimeters dilated. 0% effaced. 0, 0, 0!

I honestly didn’t even realize the weight I was placing on those numbers. I didn’t know that I was using them as a scale to determine whether I was doing things ‘right’, or whether my body was doing what it ‘should’. And finding out that there was no visible progress, I made it mean that my body was wrong, and that I had failed.

It took a few days of processing, (and me being cranky), to realize the full impact of thinking this way. And when it hit, it hit hard. Thankfully, I got honest with my Mama-tribe, and when I heard my own words sort of repeated back to me, I realized how incredibly untrue these perceptions were. When I thought of my friends birthing stories, I did not rank them in order of meaningfulness, importance or legitimacy based upon how they brought their children in to the world. In fact, it didn’t even cross my mind. I respect and admire each of these women for the mere fact that they are incredible, aware and loving mothers. So why then, was I placing this burden on myself?

In mulling this over for a few days, I realized that I was letting some strange, imagined, social media-imposing, societal expectation dictate how I felt about my own body and labor story. And I realized, it is total bullshit. You don’t get extra credit for delivering your baby with or without drugs, surgically, naturally or induced. The reward isn’t any less sweet, and you certainly aren’t a failure for not doing it someone else’s way. It seems logical when I write this all out, but the pressures (real or perceived), of bringing a life in to this world, are hardly logical.

The past few days have been emotionally intense as a result of this realization, but I am grateful to have uncovered this about myself at this exact, perfect time. It has cleared a path for acceptance, and I am left with the mantra / affirmation, ‘I trust my body; I trust my baby’. I wanted to write about this, because I can’t possibly be the only mother-to-be who has fallen prey to this thinking-trap. And I will be completely honest, I still hope that my body will naturally go in to labor, but if it doesn’t, that is ok too. I am still a mother-freakin’ rock-star. I prayed and waited for this miracle-baby, provided a strong, healthy vessel for her to grow, and soon I will bring her earth-side by whatever means necessary.

As moms, we have the power to break these ridiculous stigmas, together. We can empower one another to let ourselves off the hook, and show each other grace by first showing it to ourselves. Motherhood leaves so much room for judgement, and I will be the first to admit I have at times been guilty of it myself. But that judgement is almost always a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. In taking a stand for myself, I can better stand for you. And so the journey of learning  continues, and this unborn baby has already made me a better human, just by her very existence.

xo, Em

The One Word That Changed My Parenting, (And Could Change Yours Too)

Isn’t parenting a trip? I find myself constantly evaluating and re-evaluating myself and thinking about how I might have handled things better or differently. There are also little victories along the way that leave me feeling like a mama-boss. But for the most part, this journey is all about learning what works best for our family, and learning from others.

The one word that changed my parenting

About a year ago I completed a life-changing, personal development course. It gave me plenty to reflect on in regards to how I communicate with myself and in turn, others. I realized that I had created a world of ultimatums and limitations (both personally and in parenting), using just one common word; ‘but‘.

For example, I might say to Ayden: “I love you, but you cannot stay up all night”.

This statement creates limits and also implies that one thing is mutually exclusive of the other. And in this instance, it unintentionally puts a condition on my love for my child. Obviously the latter is far from the truth, but our words are oh-so powerful, and being the word-nerd that I am, I like to be very clear with my kiddo in my parenting communications.

Instead, if I said: “I love you, and you cannot stay up all night”, the entire meaning of that statement changes in to something more loving. I have now created a dialogue that expresses that my love is unconditional to her behavior, and desire to stay up all night. For me, this realization was a ‘light-bulb’, a-ha moment.

Here’s an example of how you might try applying it in the way you speak to yourself:

“I want to go to the gym, but I am tired”.

In this statement, I have pretty much decided I am not going to the gym, because I am tired. (At least that would most likely be my reality.) 😉 Let’s try it as an ‘and statement’;

‘I want to go to the gym, and I am tired”.

To me, this statement feels more empowering. It leaves space to go to the gym despite being tired.

If you allow yourself to be a non-judgmental observer of your own life and dialogue, you might uncover ways and places that you can replace ‘but’, with ‘and’. The way we speak to others always starts with the way we speak to ourselves, so the best place to practice this is with yourself.

As for parenting, I know it sounds a bit subliminal, but it is my belief that our children are subliminal creatures, always reading between the lines and always drawing their own conclusions when they don’t fully understand things. When I use ‘and statements’ with my daughter, I feel better about what I am saying and how I am saying it. I typically gauge my own behavior on how it makes me feel.

I hope you will give this a try and let me know if it had the powerful impact on you, that it had on me. I am all about easy and simple ways to improve my relationships, and I love when I can pass these little gems along.

Thank you for reading, AND please feel free to share it if it spoke to you.

xo, Em

30 Day No-Yell Challenge

Recently, my husband (gently) let me know that I am ‘a yeller’. I don’t like admitting this or sharing it publicly because who wants to be a yeller?! (Not me). But the fact remains that sometimes, when I feel frustrated or unheard or backed in to a corner by my opinionated 5 year old, I raise my voice. It is effective in that she typically submits when I reach that point, however, it is also met with fear. And then her fear is met with my own guilt. Kind of an ugly cycle.

If you struggle with yelling at your children, take on this 30-day, No-Yell Challenge with a community of other mamas. http://chasingayden.com/30-day-no-yell-challenge

I grew up in a loud house. There were 4 of us, and we are all talkers. Things often got loud-very loud. It was almost as if in order to be ‘heard’, you had to be loud. No one is to blame for this, it is just the way things were. After Mike pointed out my yell-y ways, I started reflecting on this. I am not in the business of pointing fingers and placing blame, but I do have a genuine interest in understanding why things are the way they are. I find it to be helpful in breaking less-than-desirable habits or patterns.

At a baby shower on Sunday, I sat with a friend I trust, and admitted to her that I am a yeller, but that I no longer want to be a yeller. To my surprise, she disclosed that she too is a yeller. I was kind of relieved, because this is a fellow mama who I admire and respect. I felt like less of a schmuck to be in such good company. It didn’t change the fact that I still had this character defect to sort out, but it did remind me that I am not alone in this. We pinky-promised that ‘just for today’, we would not yell at our children.

On Monday I realized I hadn’t raised my voice once, on Sunday. It got me thinking about the power of accountability. It also got me thinking about how I was going to potentially break myself of this yelling business. I started thinking of ways I could divert myself from yelling. Here are a few ideas I have come up with:

  • When I feel like yelling, I could actually say “I feel like yelling”. Sometimes labeling the behavior takes the power out of it.
  • I could find ways to be accountable to my family, by letting them know that I don’t want to be a yeller anymore. I could employ them to help me break the habit.
  • I could sing out instead of yelling–like literally sing. (A suggestion from my fellow yeller mama on Sunday).
  • Instead of repeating myself to the point of anger, I could set an immediate consequence for my child, thus averting the need to yell.
  • I could employ other mamas to take on a 30 day, no-yell challenge with me. 😉

So this brings me to that final idea… After learning that a mama who I have often placed on a pedestal, was actually struggling with the same issues as me, it made me realize there are probably a lot of us who don’t like how we feel when we raise our voices in anger. I heavily rely on my mama community for so many other areas of support; why not this too?

‘They’ say it takes 30 days to create a good habit, so I have decided to challenge myself to a 30 day no-yell challenge. And I am inviting anyone who wants to, to join this challenge. My only rule for myself in taking on this challenge, is to forgive myself when I fall short (because it is bound to happen), and to continue with the 30 days no matter what. Awareness leads to willingness, and willingness leads to the ability to change. If this speaks to you at all, I hope you will join me!

See you on the quiet-side!

xo, Em

 

My Daughter; My Greatest Teacher

I wrote this post about my daughter many weeks ago, because I felt absolutely called to write about this topic, and then never posted it. I do this sometimes. I start writing a post, only to abandon it, leaving it in the dugout of the blog-o-sphere among the other would-be posts. This morning I finally pulled it out of my saved drafts, put some finishing touches on it and here I am sharing with you.

My Daughter; My Greatest Teacher   A blog post about teaching our daughters to have self esteeem, through practicing to love ourselves http://chasingayden.com/my-daughter-my-greatest-teacher

When something becomes undeniably clear to me (especially in my motherhood journey), I just know that there is another mother or father or person who can probably relate. I know these things because you’ve told me this, which has me inspired to continue to write from a truthful space. So thank you, for relating to me and letting me know when you relate to me. Without that, I may not be brave enough to ever hit the ‘publish’ button.

When it comes to motherhood, I am literally learning more about learning more, on a daily basis. I always think the lessons are going to be about about my child or her age or her stage or her season. But the deeper in I get in to this mama business, the more I seem to uncover and learn about myself.

What I continue to discover is that most important thing I can do for my daughter, is to make peace with myself. Maybe that sounds obvious or simplistic to you. Maybe it sounds unrelated to parenting. But here is what I know. Our children are watching us when we don’t think they are watching us. They view themselves as extensions of us. This means that they don’t fully understand the difference between us and them as separate human beings. I have always been intentional and cautious about the way I speak to myself in front of my daughter, because I have battled my way out of the nasty habit of negative self-talk. And if I am being honest, (and you know I am), I still have to battle that mean, little inner-critic, from time to time. It is important to me as a mother of a girl especially, that I empower her with a kind view of herself and equip her with self-esteem.

Here is what has become true for me though, my actions toward myself speak just as loudly as my words–sometimes even louder. My actions toward myself, are a direct result of my thoughts of and toward myself. You simply cannot fake self-love or self-care, which both have everything to do with self-esteem. In essence, my sweet daughter is learning how to treat herself, by watching how I treat myself.

What I have also noticed, and don’t particularly like to admit, is that the behaviors that get under my skin the most when it comes to my daughter, are the very things that I am not quite ‘ok’ with, in myself.

Example: I was always labeled a ‘hyper’ kid. I was told I talked too much, I was too distract-able and I was too loud. What I ‘heard’ as a child was, “you are too much, something is wrong with you and you are not good enough as you are.” No one said these things to me directly, but this is how I internalized it. So I spent many years feeling this way, and I did destructive things to myself to try to become ‘smaller’, and to have less of a presence. Only in my adulthood, have I come to realize that these things that I believed about myself, were never true. I was perfect in the exact way that I was created, chattiness and all. I have worked very hard to have this simple realization and to overcome those old ideas, and self-destructive behaviors that accompanied them.

When my 4 year old acts like a 4 year old, (distract-able, hyper and chatty), I tend to lose my patience much quicker. I immediately hone in on her ‘me-like’ behaviors, and I am quick to shut it down. Specifically when this happened recently and my daughter wouldn’t–actually, couldn’t sit still, I felt my frustration grow quicker than it should have. I was having a physiological reaction to her behavior, and my emotions felt disproportionate to what she was doing. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t want her to be like me.

But here is the flip-side to this. My sweet Ayden thinks I am “the most perfect, ‘bestest’ mommy in the whole world”. (She’s told me, so I know it’s true!) She is quick to forgive me. Always. She is quick to tell me wonderful things about myself. She is my greatest champion, as I am hers. And in that moment of realization that I was battling myself via my daughter, I made a decision to embrace her ‘me-like’ behaviors. In fact, I think they should be celebrated.

 The love I have for my daughter, challenges me to love myself in ways that I didn’t know I wasn’t loving myself. And more so than anything I could provide for her materially, this might perhaps be the most valuable and lasting gift I could ever bestow upon this child. My actions and attitude toward myself will ultimately dictate how she learns to treat herself. My commitment to her, to myself and now to you, is to practice seeing myself through the eyes that she sees me with. I am openly inviting you to do the same in your own life. Even if you aren’t a mother or a parent, you can practice seeing yourself as your loved ones do.

Your comments, thoughts and realizations are always welcomed and appreciated.

xo, Em

Discovering I Am Not Less of a Mom; PART 2

Hello my friends! I had to write this post not only as a necessary update to you, but also so I never forget this special time in my life!

Let’s see… last we left off, I was discovering that I am not less of a mom raising an only child. I was totally blown away by the incredibly loving and overwhelming response to that blog post. Writing about such a vulnerable subject left me feeling a bit exposed, and open for judgement. However, your comments, feedback, re-pins and all around support made me feel like that post–my story, had a real purpose. You reminded me that I am not alone, and reading your stories in response to mine, left me feeling totally connected and inspired. So THANK YOU for receiving my truth so lovingly.

Discovering I Am Not Less of A Mom; Part 2 http://chasingayden.com/part2

Writing that blog post was therapeutic for me. At times I have gone back to re-read my own words. Not in a self-obsessed kind of way, but so that I could remind myself of my own strength (and yours), in a sometimes challenging situation. But since then, some things have shifted and changed, and I just couldn’t keep this to myself, after you replied with so much of your own beautiful honesty. So here is the next chapter of that story, and a reminder that there is almost always a next chapter, even when it seems like you’re at a dead-end.

In regards to coming to terms with having an only child, where I landed was in a place of acceptance, (for the most part). This may have not been ‘my plan’, but I have come to learn and know that life unfolds in unexpected ways, and often results in better outcomes than I could have imagined in the first place. So I backed off of the argument with my sweet husband, and refocused my energies on creating a beautiful, fun and meaningful childhood for our Ayden-girl. I looked for opportunities to be grateful for our little trio. And life sort of just resumed.

A year and several months passed, when (literally) suddenly in one week, I found out 10! – Yes, 10! friends were newly pregnant. Some with their first, others with their 2nd and a few with their 3rd. This put the count of currently pregnant friends up to 14, and counting. I was genuinely happy for each friend, however many of the feelings I had struggled with before, resurfaced. I did not want these feelings to resurface, in fact I tried to push them back down. But there they were, staring me square in the face. It felt very selfish to make anyone else’s pregnancy mean anything about ME, and I tried not to judge myself for it. But, I am human. And sometimes I am selfish and self-centered, and I knew I needed to address these feelings once again. (Cue eye roll).

A friend suggested I write my feelings down in the form of a letter, to my husband. It was a great solution and really took the drama out of an emotional situation. It had been a long while since we had even discussed the possibility of having another baby, and at this point I just wanted to share my truth that deep down, buried under a lot of soul-searching, I couldn’t deny my heart’s true desire. I typed the letter out, without trying to make it sound ‘good’. I didn’t care if it was well written, even though I am a total word-nerd. It just had to be honest and loving. I hit the ‘save’ button, and decided not to read it to him for a few weeks; when my emotions weren’t so intense.

Here is where the magic happens. Mind you, I never read that letter to Mike. I never even mentioned that I wrote it. The following week, on a Tuesday night, he came home from work bearing flowers for both me and Ayden, (he’s a keeper!). One of my love-languages I have discovered, is gifts, so this token of thoughtfulness was beyond appreciated. At dinner he made a strange comment to Ayden about becoming a big sister. I teared up, because my husband is not careless with his words. In fact, he is quite intentional, and wouldn’t dare to bring up such a sensitive topic if he couldn’t back it up with some action. Coupled with some other non-blog-appropriate actions earlier in the week, I knew something was up. I decided to let him broach the topic, in fear that perhaps I was imagining it all. Later that night, my amazing husband went on to tell me.. “So, I have been thinking…” I immediately interrupted, replying, “–Are we trying to have a baby!?”  And you guessed it, ladies and gents, after all of this time, something–God; the Universe; All that is, had changed his heart. Prayers that I was afraid to say out-loud, had been answered.

I almost didn’t want to write this post, because I didn’t want to take away from my original post. I still firmly believe that even if Mike hadn’t had a change of heart, I wouldn’t be any less of a mom. But my hope is that this post–our story, might give someone else hope, who is struggling to trust that there is a bigger plan for them in life, than merely what is in front of them at this moment. What I have learned from this journey, is that while I claim to be a spiritual person, I had created a limit on the capabilities of my god / higher power. I trusted in some areas, but not in the area of growing our family. It’s been very humbling, actually. It has forced me to go back and re-examine my relationship to my spirituality.

Anyway, what I really wanted to say is that we are expecting baby # 2 in March of 2017, and I can’t wait to document this epic journey, (morning sickness and all).

Discovering I am not less of a mom, PART 2: Our journey from being a family of 3 to a family of 4

Your thoughts and feedback are always so very appreciated, and welcomed. Join the convo below!

xo, Em

 

A Letter To New Moms

Dear New Mom,

Hi. It’s me, your future self. I come in peace, but even better yet, I come with something maybe more valuable than peace; hindsight. I want to talk to you about this Mr.-Toad’s-Wild-Ride-of-an-experience that we call Motherhood. And I want to tell you that while you really, really may not believe it in this very moment; You got this. (I promise).

A letter from one mom to all new or expecting moms. Words of wisdom, experience and inspiration. Http://chasingayden.com/a-letter-to-new-moms

I want you to know that regardless of what social media might have you believe, every new mother struggles. I mean that–every last one of them. Regardless of how ‘easy’ or ‘good’ a baby is, it is still a baby. Which makes them 100% dependent and unable to meet their own needs. That is a lot of pressure, even for the rock-starriest of moms. Pictures say a thousand words, but pictures also lie. Remember that the next time you get caught up in a social media scroll-a-thon.

I want you to know that I see you struggling to just make it out of the house so that you can feel like a sliver of a human, despite many, many lost hours of sleep. Has anyone commended you today for even attempting to leave the ease of your nest? I am here to say, kudos to you. The reality is that the tinier the human, the more stuff they require. It may not ever get easy to leave the house with your child, but the load will eventually lighten.

Transitioning, (let’s call it what it is) in to motherhood is a spiritual and wonderful experience, but it can also be incredibly lonely. (Have you noticed that?) I used to wonder why women didn’t ‘warn’ me about matters like this before my baby came. What I have concluded is that I wouldn’t have heard them, even if they had. (Maybe they did!?) I want you to know that you are not alone. Call it a right of passage, if you will.

Perhaps physically you are alone with your baby in the middle of the night, while the rest of the people and pets in your home sleep peacefully. (I’m campaigning to change the saying from ‘sleeping like a baby’; to ‘sleeping like a husband’.) But rest assure, you are in fantastic company. You are part of a Mama Wolfpack, many of whom haven’t truly slept in months, (maybe even years). Thoughts of self-doubt and even feelings of mourning your ‘old life’ (before baby), are completely normal, but ride it out mama, because it will pass.

Speaking of self-doubt, I want to talk to you about the way you’ve been talking to yourself lately–especially the way you talk about your post-baby body. Knock that off. That very body we speak of grew and housed an entire other person. Just marinate on that for a minute. Pretty incredible, right? What is more important than bringing a life in to this world? I honestly can’t think of one thing; not a flat stomach, smooth skin, sexy bikini, narrow hips–none of it. So when your mind wanders to that dark place of self-criticism, (because let’s be honest, it will at times), remember how fantastically capable and beautiful your body is.

The last thing I want to say to you is this: Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for being imperfect, but also know that there is no one more perfect than you, to be your child’s mother. Forgive yourself for learning as you go, because that is what motherhood is. Forgive yourself for losing your patience sometimes, because we all do. Forgive yourself for the hard moments and celebrate the beautiful ones. Forgive your messy house, dirty dishes and mountains of laundry that seem to accumulate faster than you can fold. Forgive your husband or partner for also being imperfect, (they are learning as they go, too).

The days are long, but the months are fast. Just as you think you have it all figured out, your sweet baby will change the plans on you. Expect it. Embrace it. Laugh about it. Celebrate it.

Motherhood may not be or look exactly like you though it would, but this is it. You have arrived. You were meant for this. But most importantly, you got this.

 xo, Em

The Mama Wolfpack {What it is, and Why Every Mom Needs One}

Hello Inter-web friends! I am so excited to be coming to you from a newly repaired (and upgraded), computer. This has nothing to do with the following blog post, but I can’t contain myself long enough not to mention it. One word; RELIEF. Any-hoo, let’s get to the real reason we are gathered here today–to discuss the importance of ‘The Mama Wolfpack’! (I felt this was exclamation-point-worthy, and if you choose to read on, you will see why.)

What is this ‘Mama Wolfpack’ I speak of, you ask? Aside from my hubby, it is quite possibly the most important facet to my sanity, as it pertains to parenting. My Mama Wolfpack is pretty much a third-party co-parent. Let me break it down for you:

The Mama Wolfpack // What it is and why every mom needs one // http://chasingayden.com/the-mama-wolfpack

Mama Wolfpack
[Mah-mah wulf-pahk]

noun
1. A group of women who have children, and spend valuable time together

2. A group of moms who frequent the park (or other recreational places) together, while simultaneously discussing important life-matters.

3. A group of mothers who support and encourage one another, never passing judgment and only seeking to lift each other up. (Same ideals and opinions regarding ‘hot-button’ topics, are not necessary due to lack of judgment.)

4. A group of women who gather together with their children, and discuss how to be better wives and partners, through sharing their personal experiences with each other.

5. A group of mothers who speak candidly and without censorship with each other, about their struggles with motherhood and marriage. A group therapy session, for all intensive purposes.

6. A group or gathering of moms who act as a network of support, (near and far), to help one another navigate through motherhood and marriage.

7. A group of mothers who will respond to text messages in the middle of the night, or wee hours of the morning.

8. A group of mothers who love each others children as if they were their own; a ‘village’ of moms.

Now that I have clarified what a Mama Wolfpack is, let’s discuss the importance of it, (as if we even needed to at this point).

The Mama Wolfpack is (in my opinion), vital to the sanity of a new mama. My belief is that once a woman chooses to house a tiny human in her belly for 9, (let’s be honest, 10) months, she is a mother. Granted when the baby arrives, things change and things get ‘real’, for lack of better word. But regardless, I believe that it is important to start looking for your wolfpack during pregnancy.

Here’s why:

  • As a human, but more importantly in this scenario as a mother, having people to relate to is a literal life-saver. From the onset of pregnancy, your body and mind change almost immediately. Hormones are real. Long stretches of sleep are a distant memory. Sneezing without peeing is nearly impossible, (see; ‘sniss’). You will want to have people to relate to; trust me. And this is a theme that will carry you all the way through motherhood (or at least until your child is 3 and 1/2 years old and counting).

 

  • All moms and parents deserve a safe-haven. With all of the finite opinions out there regarding vaccination, breastfeeding, sleep-training, diapering methods, organic vs. non organic, co-sleeping and so on, you need a safe-place. Let’s take vaccinating for example, since it is the current Facebook-war topic. In my Mama Wolfpack, we have moms who choose to not vaccinate at all, moms who go ‘by the book’ and everything in between. We all respect each others choices, and I have yet to hear an argument over the subject-matter. Sounds nice, right?

 

  • Still not sold? Let’s talk marriage and relationships. Most people put their best foot forward in public, and especially on social media. Marriages, relationships and families can often come off as looking ‘perfect’ via little square photos. On a rough day for a new mama surfing Instagram during nap time, this can create a downward spiral of unrealistic expectations. Having a network of other mamas who are willing to be open and honest about their marital and parenting struggles, (trust me everyone has them), not only softens the blow, but helps to make you realize that you are completely normal.

So how do you find your Mama Wolfpack?

After I became pregnant, I thought I had to be friends with every other pregnant person or new mom. This wasn’t a conscious thought, but it didn’t occur to me that I could be selective. What happened was, I found myself surrounded by ‘default’ mama-friends. This wasn’t completely a bad thing, but I also didn’t feel empowered because I hadn’t given myself a choice in the matter. I found myself surrounded by some personalities that didn’t necessarily ‘work’ for me. So I made a conscious decision to surround myself only with those that felt loving and uplifting, and in turn began working on being that same kind of friend.

What I am saying is, find people that feel good to be around. To me this is much more important than having the exact same parenting style as someone. Your Mama Wolfpack may only include one or two other mamas, or it may be like mine, extending to other states, internet friends and support groups, family and so on.

I hope this post has been helpful or at the very least, relatable. I would love to know about your Mama Wolfpack, why you think having one is so very important or anything else you would like to share on the topic matter. Join the party, in the comments below.

xo, Em

Displacement, Migration & Blog Planning: An Update

epic blog

I like to think of this as a Lifestyle / DIY blog, although lately it has been much more of a lifestyle space. Typically I blog from the comfort of my own home, but for the past 4 weeks–(4 weeks!), we have not been living at our home. I suppose ‘displaced’ would be the appropriate word to describe our current situation, but in reality we are staying with my in-laws. 

Update; chasing ayden

I also just tackled the ever-so-fun task of switching my blog from WordPress.com, to a self-hosted site, (a detailed how-to is in the works). For those of you who don’t blog, this is a bit of a milestone–yay!, (and bit of a pain in the a$$.) I used several tutorials to help me with the first steps, but ultimately relied heavily on the help of the insanely talented (and patient), Deb Foley. (If you would like to avoid the headache of this task, I highly recommend her services.)

Needless to say, things have been chaotic, but I hate to be out of touch for long. Also, I didn’t want you to think I was just being a slacker. The good news is, I have had a ton of time to get my (million and counting) ideas down on paper, (in my new blog planner). I have some really exciting things planned for this year that I can not wait to share with you.

epic blog
blog planner by: By Regina

 

In addition to my own ideas, I would love to know what you would love to see more of: collaborations, DIY, contests, personal pieces, life hacks, tutorials, photos, etc! So please join (or start) the conversation below.

xo, Em

Discovering: I Am Not Less of a Mom

not less of a mom

There’s something I have been wanting to write about, but have been putting off. I think I have been avoiding it because I know some feelings are sure to arise. I am not a big fan of being publicly vulnerable, but I am a person who processes feelings through writing. My intention for this blog, has always been to be relatable to others, and to keep it honest. Which brings us to this post–a touchy subject for some folks.

not less of a mom

A funny thing happens when you start dating someone–people start asking you if or when you plan to get engaged. Then you get engaged, and people demand to know if you have set a wedding date. You set a date and get married, and then everyone wants to know when you will be having kids. (Ok, in my case we didn’t go in this exact order, but stay with me here). Then you become pregnant, and people want to know the baby’s gender and name. Baby is born. Life changes–you cross over in to the parenting world. And then people start asking when you are having another, since your first is so cute and all.

It is actually a bit exhausting, and if you don’t have some solid internal boundaries, it can add up to a lot of pressure. I blame human nature and our desire to inquire. (I am most definitely guilty of some of these inquiries.) But with that being said, I am going to tell you what may (or may not) be going on, on the other side of these questions.

After Mike and I had Ayden, our world was rocked, (and that is putting it mildly). No one was getting much sleep at night, Ayden was a difficult feeder, she liked to party at night and  only wanted to be held. Mike was working full-time and in school full-time. Money was tight. Emotions (hormones) were wacky. Life was hectic. That aside, Ayden was also an incredibly happy and smiley baby, who hit all of her fun milestones crazy-early. One thing was for sure, life was in session in the McAllister home.

A couple of months in to parenthood, we started getting the inevitable questions about when we would be having more kids. Most people had an opinion about the matter telling us things like, ‘You don’t want them too far apart’, or ‘You don’t want her to be an only child–then she won’t have anyone’, or ‘Don’t wait too long!’ To be honest, these comments felt intrusive and presumptuous, though I didn’t fully realize it at the time.

And then there were the comments from other moms (of two or more children), ‘One is so easy’, or ‘You only have one?’ Granted, this was not my interaction with all moms of multiples, but there were a few and it caught me off guard. I don’t believe that these comments were meant to be malicious, and I have learned to try not to take others personally (operative word being ‘try’), but if I am being honest, (I am), it felt a little passive aggressive.

Once upon a time, when being parents was just pillow-talk between Mike and I late at night, we planned on having two children. We each grew up with a sibling, and it seemed the natural thing to do. We also had very strong beliefs about exactly how we wold raise our hypothetical children. We were strong in or convictions. We would never raise our voices, never let our baby ‘cry it out’, never allow our child to throw tantrums in public, would allow for only minimal TV watching, never use modern technology (iPhones / iPads) as a means of child supervision, make all of our own baby food, etc, etc. We were so sure. And we were so wrong. If I have learned one thing from becoming a mother, it is that plans change quickly after a baby is born.

Cut to: Ayden’s 2nd Birthday, (the time of year we had planned to begin trying for baby #2.) We sat at or dining room table, us two. The conversation began. And then it happened; Mike had changed his mind. I couldn’t believe what he was saying; was he allowed to do this? Was he allowed to change his mind mid-game? I won’t go in to too many details about why, because this is my story to tell. I am speaking from my own experience, and it would be unfair to my husband if I attempted to write his story.

I will say this; that conversation led to more conversations, arguments, tears, praying, debates, soul-searching, a counseling session (with a not-so-great shrink), lots and lots of writing, weighing of options and eventually over time, acceptance. For the sake of my marriage and family, I had to come to a few conclusions:

  1. If I believe in a higher power (which I do, and choose to call it God ), than I am not really in charge of the whole game-plan. I cannot impose my will on anyone else; even my husband. If we are meant to have another child, then it will happen. If we are not meant to have another child, then we won’t. God is either everything or nothing. So in a sense, this situation was forcing me to dig deeper, spiritually.
  2. I was not willing to deceive or trick my husband in order to become pregnant again, and I was not willing to leave the marriage over it. This meant I needed to find a way to be ok with his change of heart. I didn’t have to like it, I just had to find a way to be ok (for now), with it.
  3. In order to become ok, I needed to find a deep sense of gratitude for the blessings that I already had in my life. I had to focus on all of the beautiful things, people and experiences that I am lucky enough to be afforded. I had to recognize that Mike and I are jackpot winners, when it comes to Ayden. I had to remember that not everyone who wants children get children, that some people lose hildren and that I have been blessed beyond measure in becoming a mother. I found that when I stay busy focusing on loving and appreciating what I have, I spend less time worrying about what I don’t have.

This doesn’t mean that some days I don’t drift in to the worrisome head space where I compare myself to or feel envious of others. And on those days, when I feel extra sensitive about it all, I do my best to be gentle with myself. I write a gratitude list about my life, I write down 5 things that I love and appreciate about my husband, I forgive him all over again for not always being perfectly in line with my desires and I remember that nothing is set in stone.

And some days, I am so content with our little trio, that I could explode with joy. I feel a deep sense of closeness between the three of us that is more fulfilling than I am capable of putting in to words.  I feel lucky. I feel full.

Sometimes I feel like the only person in the world that has experienced this with their spouse, which makes it even more daunting to write about. But the chance that someone may read this and relate, forces me to write my truth. Also, I have learned that when my feelings are fear-based, they’re usually off-base.

At the end of the day we really don’t know what other families are going through; whether it be fertility issues, losing a child or situations like mine. What I do know, is that it is never safe to assume. What I have decided to learn from this is that I can be happy. I can be happy if our parenting journey begins and ends with Ayden, or if we go on to have more children. And quite possibly the most important thing that I have learned is that either way, I am not less of a mom.

Click here, to read PART 2 of this story! 

xo, Em

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