Category: parenting

Your Baby Is a Good Baby

Your Baby is a GOOD Babyhttp://chasingayden.com/your-baby-is-a-good-baby

Motherhood is a strange place, (yes place), that truly cannot fully be described to someone who hasn’t experienced it. You cross over, not only in to this incredibly life-altering new role, but also in to an alternate Universe. In this Universe there are all sorts of opinions and ideas and expectations orbiting around you. This isn’t like a gradual immersion in to a new lifestyle, either; oh no. The moment that baby is birthed, there is a shift and you are now a permanent resident in this new world.

A protective, mama-bear-esque instinct accompanies this new territory, and your baby cub is instantly the most beautiful, incredible and precious creature you have ever laid your eyes on. So naturally, you want the world to receive this tiny being with the same adoration.  I think this is especially true for first-time moms.

After I had Ayden, I remember people asking me almost immediately, ‘Is she a good baby?’ My knee-jerk response was, ‘yes, she’s soo good’, subconsciously validating myself via my newborn.  I then started to notice more and more, other moms praising the ‘goodness’ of their babies, but not talking so much about common hardships that accompany the arrival of a newborn.

I struggled with postpartum anxiety, and found myself often comparing me (and even my baby) to others, especially via social media. I started to experience the woes of a baby that liked to party throughout the night, and who almost instantly fell asleep while nursing, thus rendering me a human pacifier. Sleep deprivation had me in its death-grip, and slowly but surely, I started questioning the ‘good-ness’ of my baby, and in turn myself. It wasn’t pretty, but it’s what my truth looked like.

6 weeks post-baby, I finally had enough of my noisy head, and called my OB, who without hesitation offered a remedy for my PPA (postpartum anxiety), and almost instantly, sanity returned to me. This is when I had an ‘a-ha’ moment that would shift my perspective in a much-needed way.

All babies are inherently good. The idea that a baby could not be ‘good’, (regardless of how much or little they sleep, cry, nurse, barf, fuss, fart, spit up, etc), is absurd. The question itself, ‘is she a good baby?’, is kind of ridiculous if you stop and really think about it. Does anyone really ever answer, ‘no! She’s a terrible, bad baby!’ So why then do we continue to ask and answer this question?

I am not even sure I have an answer to this question other than humans really like to categorize things as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. And I am not in the business of making people wrong for being human. All I am saying is that language is a powerful thing, and whether you are on the asking or receiving end of this question, it’s something to consider. You don’t have to take in and digest things that don’t fit for you. You do not have to categorize your baby, unless you want to. This is something I think I might have appreciate hearing when I was a new, first-time mom, so here I am passing it on.

This post felt important for me to write for the new mom out there, who maybe feels less-than, because her baby isn’t living up to the unrealistic, (often posed/staged) baby photos that flood our social media feeds. This is for the mom who when asked, ‘is he/she a good baby?’, thinks about her sleepless nights and fussy baby, and begins to question the very good-ness of her baby and herself. I want you to know, deep down in the pit of your soul,

your baby is a GOOD baby. 

 I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences with this; your comments and feedback are always welcome and appreciated!

xo, Em

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

Be Responsible For Your Greatness

Yesterday morning I was on a conference call in correspondence with a 10 week seminar I am in the middle of. It is a course on commitment, but really it is a course on self-discovery. I was working out some ‘stuff’ (I will get to this later) with our seminar leader, when she said something that struck me inspired; “Be responsible for your greatness.”

Be responsoble for your greatness

You see, we were discussing the filters in which we view our worlds; the limitations that our life-long beliefs about ourselves create. I have been working on identifying my hidden motives in life, and even more so, asking myself if they are in line with my true goals and desires and commitments. Many times the answer is ‘no’.

Confused? (I was). Here is an example: I have a desire, a goal, a commitment to being physically fit. Not an uncommon one. But I also have an inclination to Netflix and chill… with a bowl of cereal. Or ice cream. Late at night.

This isn’t exactly in line with my initial intent to be physically fit. Hidden commitment: 1; Actual commitment: 0.

The power is in taking ownership of all of this. To recognize where we are falling short without putting a ‘bad’ label on it. Let’s call it collecting data. If I can identify my hidden commitments, admit that I CHOSE the hidden commitment (taking ownership of it), then I become empowered to make some Real changes that are more in line with my actual commitment.

So back to our conference call, and back to my ‘stuff’ that I promised to tell you about. I have a secret. It’s a doozy–maybe even the biggest secret I have ever kept. Are you ready? Here it is…  Most of my life, I have been playing small. In reality, I have an entire UNIVERSE inside of me that is dying to be seen and heard. I have been holding back and trying not to take up too much Universal space. I have been inauthentic, because I haven’t allowed myself to be fully self-expressed. I have given you a sliver of ME, in fear that the Whole and Real me might be ‘too much’.

The impact of living this way is that I sometimes walk around feeling limited in my relationships, limited creatively, feeling resentful, jealous, envious, self-doubting, angry and aimless.

But. I am deciding–declaring, that it stops today–right now. The new possibility I am inventing and creating for myself and my life, is to Live out Loud, fully self-expressed. I am letting my freak-flag fly high and proud, and I am inviting you to join me. Even more so, I am asking you to hold me accountable to my commitment. I am asking you to hold me to my Greatness.

I am brilliant. I am dynamic. I am an artist. I am empowered. Go on, say it with me… If it makes you uncomfortable, good. But in reality, who is someone as fantastically talented, inspired and GREAT as YOU, to be living an ordinary life?  Live in your greatness, today. Be responsible for your greatness, today.

xo, Em

 

Discovering Anxiety Isn’t Real

How I discovered that my Anxiety isn't Real. http://chasingayden.com/

What is my anxiety? Like really, WHAT is it?

This past weekend I completed the Landmark Forum, and immersed myself in a world–a realm, of self-exploration. But not just theoretical and intellectual self-exploration. I am talking, go-back-into-your-childhood, soul-digging, bare-naked (not literally), SELF exploration. So to say it was intense, would be putting it mildly.

Anyway. Some of what I discovered was that as humans–or actually, I will keep this to Me; I have sacrificed many happiness’s, relationships and possibilities in my life, all in the name of self-justification. Or put more simply, I have been blind-sided by my need to be Right, my need to Win and ultimately, my need to avoid responsibility for myself.

So you might be asking,  what does this all have to do with anxiety? Well let me tell you; EVERYTHING.

Let’s first break down what anxiety really is. It is a reaction to a perceived threat. Perceived, not real. A reaction to a real threat, is Fear. (Like if your safety is in literal danger). With that in mind, it begs the question of what am I perceiving to be a threat, and maybe even more importantly, what is being threatened??

Here is how it works, and I will use a quite real example. I was making a phone call that I didn’t particularly want to make. I became present to and aware of a physical feeling in my throat and chest–a feeling I know all too well; anxiety. It typically stops me dead in my tracks, and allows me to retreat from the thing I was setting out to accomplish. It allows me to justify not continuing on, for the simple fact that said event is producing anxiety–must be a sign to stop, right? Wrong. What it must be, is a mechanism for me to dodge responsibility. It allows me to remain in my comfort zone, and it allows me to be ‘right’.

Here is the crazy part; at the very moment that I acknowledged this, the feeling left my body. Truly. I was able to continue on to make what would be a pretty pivotal phone call, and therefor open up an entirely new possibility for myself and my life.

#mindblown

As a person who has struggled with anxiety in the past, this revelation was nothing short of liberating. And I had to laugh at the fact that (subconsciously) I want to be justified so badly, that I will actually produce a physical response, in order to remain that way. Knowing that my anxiety isn’t Real, has empowered me to work through it when it pops up in the future, instead of just accepting it and allowing it to dictate my life. In the words of the Goddess herself, Oprah, “When we know better, we do better.”

Thanks for letting me process in this space…

xo, Em

*** This post speaks about my own experience with anxiety. In no way, shape or form is it an attempt to negate or belittle Anxiety Disorder, or anyone else’s experience in dealing with anxiety.

 

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

How Motherhood Made Me More Creative

When I was a kid I loved to draw. I loved to sing. I loved to act. I loved to dance. And the beauty of it all was that I did so with reckless abandon. I had no fear about being judged, I just created because it was what I loved to do. It’s part of what makes children so pure, I think. The complete lack of awareness that anyone might be watching or worse yet, judging.

How becoming a mom made me a more creative person, and reconnected me to my authentic self. Are you blovked creatively? This is a blog post about how I became unblocked, and about how motherhood was the channel that allowed me to become my creative self. http://chasingayden.com/how-motherhood-made-me-more-creative

As I got older, [insert puberty], the perils of insecurity and self-doubt began to take their toll on my ability to create freely. I continued to create in the ways that I loved, but I did so in secrecy and in the confines of my lavender-painted bedroom walls.

As I emerged in to adulthood I became busy and preoccupied with silly things like paying the electric bill and holding a job. I found some creative outlets like working in film production and joining an improv / sketch comedy theater group, but eventually drifted away from it again and stopped creating with the reckless abandon that I once had.

Enter motherhood. For me, early motherhood looked like a lot of ‘down-time’, something I was not used to. Nothing could have prepared me for how much downtime and alone(ish) time I would have as a new mom, and at times I felt a little crazy-town. Also, when you are home a lot, you begin to critique and dislike everything about your house. Which led me to the endless tail-chase of home improvement ‘projects’.

In a sense, I began nesting again. I would find little projects on Pinterest, and do them. I would try to do the projects while Ayden was asleep, but she would inevitably wake up mid-crafting sesh. I started to notice that when I was creating, her energy was super calm because my energy was super calm. It was like my creativity was soothing for both of us, so I started allowing myself to create in ways that I hadn’t in years.

What has happened is that in allowing myself to be the creative being that I was always intended to be, I have gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of who I am at my core. It has also allowed me to see others as creative beings, and to appreciate their abilities rather than feel threatened by them.

I firmly believe that my creativity is directly related to my spirituality. When I create, I feel connected to the Universe. When I feel connected to the Universe, I am at peace. And when I am at peace, I am a better human.

So I started this blog. I started doing little DIY projects. And in creating this space in which I allow myself to be vulnerable and imperfect, messy and reckless; I have found a wonderful little creative outlet. I urge you to find an outlet, if you haven’t already. I urge you to let go of whatever holds you back from being the creative being that you were born to be, because we are all artists in our own right.

If you feel like it, drop a line in the comments below sharing how you create with reckless abandon. Or about what holds you back. Or about anything really; I would love to hear from you.

xo, Em

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