parenting

Back to Reality – Post Election Reflection

Thanksgiving is over, and now it’s back to reality for most of us. Starbucks better be ready today!

I rarely share anything about my political views on social media, or in any setting outside of the confines of my personal circles for a number of reasons. One, being my job. I just can’t. I work in a position that somewhat reports to, connects with, and networks with elected officials. There will be no blue, red, green or whatever party colors displayed on any of my posts intentionally to support a political party. And, you will never get any rants about which side is better or about what crazy thing a politician said.

However, I will comment on the fact that history was close to being made this past election. A huge glass ceiling was about to be broken, and I was feeling all kinds of blessed to potentially see a woman make history. Side note: I feel this way about any woman who has broken a glass ceiling in any area of professional success (Shirley Chisolm, Patricia Roberts Harris, Patricia Roberts Harris, Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Misty Copeland, etc.). Now, one glass ceiling was broken this year for sure! Hilary Clinton is the first female presidential nominee for a major United States political party. However, I think there were a number of women along with their friends, daughters, sisters, and moms hoping for the big win on election night.

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Our daughter looking on as I completed my ballot. The actual ballot is not in the picture. I don’t want no problems behind this innocent picture.

My husband and I took our daughter with us to vote, and in the back of my mind, I thought this is a moment I want to capture for her. I want her to look back and know that she was a part of this election, even though she was not the legal age to vote. I still feel this way, but my thoughts on why I felt this need so strongly are more clear post election hype.

Raising a girl today is a little different.Women are less focused on sitting still, legs closed, and being pretty. We are more focused on empowerment, equality in the workplace, equality in education, more opportunities in education with programs for girls focused on STEM courses, equal pay, and so many other things that move toward a more empowered woman no matter what her path in life is. Then, we want our girls to hold to some moral standard on top of all this. Knowing this, I really wanted my daughter to have a win like this one to reflect on in her future. Today, it seems that no matter how much more empowered we become as women, men seem to still dominate. Even in areas where women are dominate, such as non-profits, men seem to hold more leadership positions.

We can continue to empower our girls. However, the reality is that we only have a limited number of examples to show to our girls. I may be able to look up a Forbes list, but I doubt my daughter will know those names in our discussions later in life. Or, will she even be interested? And heck, will I even be an example to her or not?  I believe that more glass ceilings will continue to break. But, will it be enough for the generation of women coming up today? Will it be enough to shatter the thought that you can not have a family and successful career – one has to suffer? Will it be enough to shatter the stereotype of what a true leader looks like? Will it simply be enough to encourage our daughters to lean in, be present at the table, speak up, and all those other actionable phrases we use to coach women today?

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I wanted a win for my daughter. Honestly, I really needed a win myself. Women are making big moves everyday, and we may or may not hear about them. I’m hoping we start hearing and seeing more of those wins for women today, and the women of tomorrow. So, here we are, back to reality before the Christmas holiday. There is still time to make some moves before the year ends! You may not be running for president, but at least be running for something that makes you a better woman/role model. You never know who’s watching you break your own personal ceiling.

 

 

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Mom Shaming is Not Ok, Love and Support is

Special shout out to all the first time moms out there! Another special shout out to moms of multiple children that range in toddler years! Let me not forget the moms of multiples, triplets, quadruplets, etc.! Wait, l can’t forget the single moms! We also have to shout out those moms working to develop careers and maintain home! And, what about those moms who thought they were done parenting, but God decided to bless them with another little one – 10 to 15 years after their last child. The point is, the list can go on and on with the different lifestyles that a lot of moms are working within while trying to raise the next generation.

We all know this, and we are all aware of the fact that we are all working with different situations. So, where does the mom judgment and shaming come from? We are all doing the best we can out here, right? But, for some reason some moms feel the need to make comment on how other moms are out here just trying to survive! Trust me, I see you moms out there! I know some of you are really hanging on by that last chicken nugget your kid didn’t eat! And, I support you!

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There! I said it! I support you! How hard is it to show, in our actions and words, support? It isn’t very hard, but time after time we judge instead of supporting. I remember talking to another mom about my process for making our daughter’s food. And, as soon as I started going into detail about how I pick fresh organic veggies and fruits from the store to puree, the subtle eye roll happened. Now, I understand that it sounds so extreme to go through that process for some moms. I also understand that time is not on your side when you are doing this. I can recall the many nights up making food for our baby, and wishing I could let go of the need I felt to make our little one’s food. Reality took care of that for me. I took a more demanding job, and the days/nights of making fresh pureed foods went out the door. I settled for the best organic brands I could buy. Then, I settled on the best rated brands organic or not. Now, I am thankful if she decides she likes chicken enough to eat some frozen Tyson Anytizer’s. Don’t judge, Tyson does wonderful things with chicken. And, Publix is always making my life so easy with the buy one get one on Tyson and Purdue products. But, back to the eye roll. My dialogue about my process for Leyah was in no way a jab or dig at the other mom. The reality was that I was tired as all get out doing all that I was doing – working full time, and caring for our home. If she had even given me the chance to finish talking before her eye roll, I would have went on to ask her about what she does to make sure her family is fed. And, I would have gladly welcomed some new suggestions. You see, I am a first time mom. We all know that first time moms do the most. It’s only because we think we have to, and because the judgement is real. I didn’t need an eye roll that day. I needed some support, and I needed a mom secure enough in her parenting skills to say, it’s ok.

Support means saying, “it’s ok.” Those words mean so much to a mom who is suffering from whatever unrealistic expectations that some magazine or baby expert site have put in her head as the only way to ensure your child is perfect in every way. It’s easy to judge, but hard to accept. You see, saying, “it’s ok,” means that we accept whatever is being said or done. It’s ok, means that I may not carry my infant in a Moby wrap, but I accept and appreciate the moms that do. Those children may grow up to be the true lovers and peacemakers of the world. It’s ok, means that I may not let my child cry it out, but I accept the mom who does.

Truth is, every mom needs to hear “it’s ok,” you’re awesome,” you are enough,” you’re doing a great job,” and any other supportive phrase you can think of. Even if we don’t all agree on the how, we all agree on the outcome. The only outcome most of us are expecting is that our children feel loved. It’s ok to show love in different ways, and it’s ok if we don’t all agree, but it’s not ok to shame another mom for simply trying to love the best way she knows how.  Next time you talk to that new mom, check yourself. Are your words, tone, and body language supportive; or are you passing judgement?

I got the inspiration for this post from a post from Parents Magazine (Found Here). I will leave you all with this wonderful video from Similac. Please watch it until the end. It will not be a waste of time.

Little Hands = Little Blessings

When it’s time for our little girl to go to bed. We sit on her floor, we hold hands, and we pray. This is by far one of the best moments of my evening! I am sure you all can image how hard it is to get a 2 year old to sit still. But, most every night, she sits, takes my hands, and prays. Her sweet, “Amen, ” warms my heart, and brings a spirit of joy at the end of whatever day I may have had. It is in those moments that I find peace, and it is in those moments that I realize that this little girl is our blessing.She is truly our gift from God (Psalms 127:3).

These moments at night help me to reflect on who I am. This little blessing is influenced by me in every way. Every emotion I show, and every word I say in her presence is a moment she will remember or imitate. I’m a reflection for her. A reflection of what she will see a woman as. My actions and mannerisms, though it is cute now when she copies me, will be more permanent as she gets older. These moments at night help me to be a better reflection for her. When we pray, I reset. I reset my thinking, and remove all the negative insecurities that I have let into my mind throughout the day. I remember that God has made me wonderfully in His image, and I say the same words to my daughter.

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Sometimes it takes the smallest acts to bring us back to our core. People say that meditation works wonders, and I believe in taking some time to quiet our minds. However, it takes more to overcome insecurities and negative emotions that may present themselves when we least expect it. Knowing that my little blessing is tied to my actions, has helped me overcome most all the insecurities that were once present in my life. I have changed a lot for her, but it was truly for me and my growth too.

Find your little blessings in life that make you feel like your most confident you. It is in the small things that we find our greatness.

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You’re Gonna Be Great… Hopefully…

I really wanted to have an excuse for a shopping trip this weekend. But, I kept reading and seeing everything under the sun that had to do with family, working moms, becoming a parent, and all those other things that give you warm fuzzy feelings inside – and bring life into prospective. I do not have a clear perspective on life, but I do know that becoming a parent really forces a person to figure out what is really important and what is not. Number One: The child is always the most important! Sounds crazy, because we read and see tons of articles and videos that say take care of you, the marriage, your health, your career, etc. Those things are not wrong. You truly have to take care of you to be the best parent to your child.

I saw a post on LinkedIn by Betty Liu, News Anchor – Bloomberg Television. She wrote about what helps her be a “happy, balanced working mother.” I have read this article at least 5 times since Friday. I keep reading it, because of this one line: “I have near zero guilt about being a working mom.” It just baffled me that someone actually put it out there for people to see. Then, I realized, I totally feel her on this! I wanted to just give Betty the hands raised in celebration emoji x5! If you just saw the sentence without the rest of the article, it may seem so harsh. But, read the entire post, and then you’ll get it (This Crazy Thing Helps Me Be a Happy, Balanced Working Mother)!

I was so ready to get back to work after having our daughter, I was almost ready to run back to work! I even got the, “we weren’t expecting you back for like a few weeks,” from a person at our corporate office. The best me, was and is a career driven me. If I’m not working on something, I kind of feel lost. I’ve since changed jobs, and moved into a role that requires more leadership, more time, and is overall ten times more demanding. And, I did it knowing full well that maybe our future will hold the opportunity for another little one. *gasp! I’m sure there are women that try to plan their careers around their family planning, and sometimes that just can’t be done. We plan, and God is like: “No, I totally have something better for you. But, while it’s happening, you won’t think it was better. But, in the end, you’ll see! Thank me later!”

I am not saying I never have any guilt, but I don’t feel like I have the same amount that I hear women talk about. I love my munchkin, and wouldn’t trade her for anything. She’s really too little to understand now, but as she grows, I do want to explain to her why mommy works. I hope that she feels empowered, and knows the importance of working hard to achieve whatever success she is working toward. I hope that as she grows, she sees that you can truly have the best of both worlds. Sure, there are and will be compromises. But, if you are sure of what you are doing, and are happy in your choices, you will not be left with a feeling of guilt or anxiousness at the end of the day. Side note: acceptance of what is, is a good meditation mantra. If you don’t meditate, try it!

I’m truly grateful. I am grateful that I do have a wealth of resources around me, which make it easier to try to take on the world (my little world). I have a husband who is loving and supportive. We are both just trying to figure it out, and trying to be the best parents we can be. We both have dreams and professional goals. Our baby girl has not one, but two, sets of grandparents within a 15 mile radius. We operate on a schedule. Naps and bedtime are routine. I have learned to relax, and I know for sure that what I do maybe the best to someone, and the worst to someone else – as said in the video in this blog. As with this post, it maybe the best to some and the worst to others. But, I just hope that it puts a working mom’s mind at ease.

Talks for Our Baby Girl: Be Who You Are at Your Core (Fruits of the Spirit)

There was a point in my life where I became overly concerned with how I came across to other people. I slowly started to adjust my responses to make sure I was not offending. I started over thinking every single word that came out of my mouth to people that really needed no justification of my actions or my life. My life became more difficult, because I was trying to make life less difficult for everyone else. That makes no sense, right? But, who wants to be called mean when you are just straight forward? Who wants to be labeled as difficult, when you simply question the laws that need to be put to the test every now and then? Who wants to be called something that they know they aren’t? I don’t think anyone does, but it will happen. So, when I talk to my daughter later on in life, I imagine I would say something like this:

Everyone forms their own opinion of you whether it is right or wrong. Usually, it takes 30 seconds for someone to form an opinion about someone. It’s hard to agree with opinions, because there is no way we can truly know someone in 30 seconds. These are the opinions that are the hardest to change, and no matter what… that person will think what they think – and feel how they feel.
So, be grateful for the people that have known you for more than 30 seconds of your life; the ones who have seen you at your worst and at your best; the ones who know you at your core, and still love you. Everyone isn’t going to like you, and that is ok. So sleep at night knowing that you keep love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your spirit to guide your actions daily (Galatians 5:22-23). Sleep knowing that every opinion formed about you is only a piece of you. That piece of you is miniscule compared to the seconds you will spend with the ones who will love you for who you are. I’m not certain who you will become baby girl, but when people tell me now that you are like your mommy, I smile and say a prayer. The smile is because I know you will be amazing at whatever path you take in life, and the prayer is that you seek out wisdom and hold tight to her. That wisdom will keep you from ever feeling doubt when someone calls you something that you know you are not. And, that wisdom will keep you from repeating your mommy’s mistakes. You will make your own mistakes in life. But, don’t ever let your mistakes be the ones you made because you acted in any other way than the way YOU would choose to act. Because, in the end, it’s only you who will have to live with the consequences or rewards of your actions. Don’t live a life of results that are all based on someone who has only known you for 30 seconds saying, “you’re mean.”

Our Daughter, Leyah, and Daddy.

Our Daughter, Leyah, and Daddy.

#WCW for My Daughter

Wednesday = hump day, and I am desperately trying to make it over that hump! I was doing my usual browsing on social media earlier and I kept coming across this: #wcw. This week I’ve seen a number of women posting themselves as their own #wcw. I thought this was silly at first, but then I realized that sometimes (if not all the time) you have to be your own “woman crush.” 

I went through years of my life not feeling as though I was beautiful. Its tough to go through a period of your life feeling as if you are less than others, because you don’t have long hair; you have a little extra weight; or your clothes aren’t as stylish. I didn’t feel like I every truly fit in anywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I had friends. But, I still felt insecure about so many things. Life definitely changed for me. I have a husband who loves me, and a wonderful daughter.

I developed an eating disorder during the last part of my high school years. I was bulimic, and it wasn’t pretty. In fact, it was kind of confusing… I think some people wondered how I could still be heavy, but have an eating disorder. It just didn’t seem to make sense. Well, real talk, fat girls can have eating disorders too! That’s not something to be proud of, but society often associates anything surrounding bulimia or anorexia with skinny women. I remember someone telling me it was OK for me to not eat or throw up my food, because I had so much fat and could stand to lose the weight. Hearing things like that make body issues harder to deal with.

I dreaded my bad habit, but I just couldn’t stop. I felt bad during, but afterwards I would feel as if I had done something toward making my physical appearance better. I felt like I was doing something to help make me more of a “woman crush.” When I was actually crushing my self identity. Every time I went to the bathroom after eating, I was telling myself that I wasn’t good enough. I was telling myself that my superficial view of beauty was more important than my health.

I had to readjust my thinking, and this took years… It has taken me years to break a habit that took all of 5 minutes to start. And now I’m trying to break a number of other habits all for our baby girl. I want her image of herself to be healthy. I want her to understand that her beauty is not measured by any other standard than the one that she sets.

My goal is to never have her hear me degrade myself or my body in front of her. I know that she will hold on to what I do and not what I say. So l want to crush all of my negative habits. This includes jokingly talking about my body, but seriously meaning the lighthearted comments that we as women make in jest.

I NEVER want our daughter to ever feel less than any other person. I do not want her to feel the way I did growing up a little chunkier than everyone else. Right now, at this moment, she is perfect in every way. She’s our baby girl, our heart, and our joy. Her smile makes me smile, and her happiness is all I wish for. I wish for her, a lifetime of happiness. I wish for her, a lifetime of knowing she is beautiful by God’s standards and not the world’s. She is beautifully and wonderfully made in His image, and that is perfection at its best. I want her to be her own #wcw, but not just a woman crush on Wednesday, EVERYDAY!

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Date Night

My husband and I are pretty serious about our date nights. I definitely believe that we need that time to unwind and just be adults instead of parents all the time. We went out the day after Valentine’s Day, and everywhere was still packed this time around! I guess everyone else had the same idea.

I know each and ever parent struggles with the balance of home, work, parenting, and relationship building. It can be so very hard!How can it not be, it’s hard to just get out of the daily check list routine:

  • Bottles for daycare
  • Food prep
  • Laundry (who cares if it’s folded… it’s clean isn’t it??)
  • Who’s picking her up from daycare
  • What’s for dinner
  • Appointments (is it already time for that 4 month check up??)
  • Grocery store list
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning – yea… that dust has been there for a month now!
  • Bills – Oops! I forgot to pay another one on time!!!
  • Gym… I guess

Bah!!! The list goes on and on…. And, most of the time our relationships with our partners suffer. I remember Giuliana Rancic coming out and saying that her and her husband put their marriage first and their child second. A number of people criticized this without truly thinking about it. I can’t say I disagree with her one bit. It is very unhealthy to solely depend on your baby to provide you with fulfillment in life. This is primarily why relationships where a baby is brought into the picture to hopefully “fix” the relationship still fail. Both you and your partner have to be in tune with one another, and even after baby, that connection can’t be lost. A solid marriage is the best foundation you can give your baby, because that little one will definitely benefit and learn more from parents that are happily connected than from parents that are disconnected.

Date nights are definitely the best for my husband and I. Even the few moments at night when we just have some time together throughout the week work well! It’s kind of like a daily check in, because I definitely get consumed in parenting during the week. I don’t know about anyone else, but after work I go into auto pilot. It’s workout, pick baby up, feed baby, clean baby, put baby to sleep, clean kitchen, fix bottles for the next day, food prep for next day, and finally shower and sleep to do it all over again the next day. And, somehow dinner is cooked in the middle of all that.

The times where my husband and I have had a big disconnect, are the times where we both notice we haven’t had time just for us. A date doesn’t have to be much either. Stay within your means, and make it special to the two of you. I’m sure relatives or friends will come to your side to care for your little one a few hours. If not, save up cash for a sitter that day or night. That time together can be planned and done, it just takes effort. If you aren’t willing to put in the effort to keep the relationship going, then you and your partner should be having a totally different conversation… I’m just saying!

Love, live, and never regret!

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The Hubby and I – Date Night