The one thing every new mom should have

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Chances are if you are reading this you are either a mom of the expectant, new, or experienced caliber or you are looking for that perfect gift for a new mom.  You are in luck because I am about to show you the holy grail of parenting good for all ages and stages.

As a ‘two year old mom’ I most certainly seen it all and I know exactly all the right things to do at all the right times – I hope you all had a good laugh at that.  Most days I don’t even know if I am wearing a clean shirt any more.

At any rate I have learned that our society has a very awkward stance towards moms.  The message seems to be there is no ‘right way’ which would imply that there is not really a ‘wrong’ way either.  While people will tell you there are an endless number of ways to accomplish the same goal, they will also use that breath to tell you how every parenting decision you are making is out and out wrong.

‘But there is now right way’.

While creating my registry I remember a particular moment that someone asked me what kind of bottles I was registering for. I don’t recall who this person was but I remember thinking that I was a little shocked that they replied the way in which they did to my bottle choice because we weren’t close and I considered that person an outer circle friend.  But the response was classic –

‘well you know not all babies respond to bottles the same, the Advent with (insert whatever feature here) are the best’

I really wanted to punch this person in the face.  I mean if every child is different there is no way to say that Advent is the best and since my child hadn’t been born yet and they haven’t invented an in utero telepathic baby babble translator yet, it was a little tough to ask my daughter what she wanted me to buy for bottles.  The other annoying thing is this – my goals with bottles were different than hers.  I wanted to primarily breast feed and to use the bottle only when I couldn’t be there … and so I picked the bottle that my research showed would best support that goal.

But the worst part is how absolutely stupid comments like that make a mom to be feel.  Let’s be honest, a new baby (I only have one but I imagine it is the same with each new addition to the family) is a little stressful and scary.  There are always so many unknowns and since that child has never before been born in this world no one freaking knows!  Mom’s if you haven’t figured it out already that is the huge secret that most other moms don’t readily share – not because we don’t want you to know but because we don’t want to feel like we are failing.

At any rate you are probably wondering about this holy grail situation.

Here it is – every mom needs someone in her corner without question.

For me that person happened to not be a friend but my own mother.  With the exception of naming my daughter my own mother has been the one person in the world that I can call when I am crazy pants mommy needs a break bawling my eyes out.  When I am beside myself because my beautiful little baby won’t stop crying and when my daughter has just done the most amazing thing ever.

It doesn’t have to be your mom, but since mine was I was lucky enough to have her there from the start.  If it is a compliment to her own parenting because she is confident she gave me the right tools or to my own ability and intelligence I don’t know but she is the person who always reminds me that ultimately I know best.

There are so many rules and guidelines out there.  A million different products to make your life easier and a thousand different schools of parenting.  It is so overwhelming to be responsible for another life as is but to then have everyone putting in their two cents where it is not wanted or needed just makes it worse.

So if you are looking for that perfect gift for the new mom in your life – give her a free pass for a 2 am phone call, a sobbing crazy person rant, or a baby free girls dinner … and by baby free, I mean don’t even mention the baby unless she bring it up first. Write her a little note to tell her ‘you are doing great’ or ‘you know best’.

And if you can manage to be that friend, keep the stink eye and snarky comments at the ready for that opinionated man who just told your best friend she shouldn’t be breast feeding in public, for that pushy person trying to tell your friend that bottle feeding is bad for baby, or any other ‘well intentioned’ person trying to ‘offer friendly advice’.  I promise you she will be more grateful for that then she will ever be able to express.

It doesn’t hurt if you throw in a load of her laundry or just turn a blind eye to the pit that has become her house …

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The falling sky

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I am a fairly self aware person but I had a moment of clarity today when a friend sent me an article about risk.  If you have 5 minutes you should read it.  It’s good.

The article talks about breaking hearts and letting others down and staying in touch with your feelings vs. your person.

What struck me is that I spend a lot of time in my life worrying about who I will be letting down.  What constructed image will I be shattering if I make decisions based on what is best for me at the time instead of just what ‘feels best’ in the moment.

What am I capable of if I just get out of my own way and allow myself to be successful?

Maybe more importantly, how would it feel to have faced that fear head on?  How much more free and liberated might I feel if I wasn’t walking around in a social straight jacket designed to keep me in line and hold me back?

The article above references this feeling that the sky may shatter – what must that feel like to either have your sky shatter and to still be standing or to realize nothing bad happened when you laid all your cards on the table?

Pictures – more than 1000 words

View More: http://michellegrosephotography.pass.us/chantel

I may have recently mentioned A turned two this month – and I may have mentioned before that I just can’t get enough of her … 90% of the time.  The trouble is those precious grains of sand are slipping thorough the hour glass so quickly it is hardly believable.

We are so lucky that we know so many talented photographers to help us catch moments of these precious moments for us. We did A’s 2 year pictures with Michelle and we were not disappointed.  Both times she has taken pictures for us she has captured a moment that holds everything that is my relationship with A.

It has been so fun to look back at her pictures and notice how different her interaction with the camera has become over the past 2 years.  She went from looking in the general direction of the camera all the way to not just looking at the camera but looking at the camera knowingly and with interest.

View More: http://michellegrosephotography.pass.us/chantel

Too quickly that sweet little girl is going to go from eyes full of curious interest to knowing determination.  Her sweet, silly personality is going to be that of an independent young lady.  And while it is undeniably fun and exciting to watch her grow, it is also underscored with just a little bit of sadness and guilt.

View More: http://michellegrosephotography.pass.us/chantel

Someday my little girl will no longer walk up to me with her arms reaching up saying ‘mommy, I hold you’.  My sweet girl will no longer give me big kisses accented with a loud ‘muah’.

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I can’t freeze time, and I sure wouldn’t wish for anything that would cause A to not reach her full potential.  So while the moments captured in this little sample of our 2 year photo shoot won’t last forever, when she is being a little too sassy, getting just a little too grown up, or decides to be just a little too old for her age, I can pull out these precious images and remember these little moments.

The annual bucket list

At the start of this year I had a friend share with me a list of 10 accomplishments he hoped to achieve before the sun set on 2014.  I happened to come across the almost year old email today and we quickly did a check in … and he accomplished or is on track to accomplish all but 1 of the goals by end of year.

It got me thinking.

I don’t do resolutions because they suck.  They are usually poorly thought out and frankly extremely influenced by outside sources.  Number one resolution?  Loose weight or kick a bad habit like smoking.  While those are great aspirations, if they were important to you, wouldn’t you have started already?

Of course every journey starts with one step somewhere.  If you want to loose weight do it … but setting that goal at the first of the year along with 90% of Americans doesn’t make it seem like something you really want.

Anyway, this friend and I (sorry I am talking about you publicly again) have decided that a list of objectives or as I like to call it annual bucket list is a great way to keep life moving in the path you want.  So between now and the first of January we will meet … over drinks, because who doesn’t love a reason to go to happy hour after work?  And talk about the goals we are setting forth for ourselves.  And then to make sure we are staying accountable/on track we will meet quarterly to ‘check-in’.

Sounds reasonable right?

Since the conversation (earlier today) I decided on a second dynamic to mine.  Good living to me is ‘healthy living’ but more than that ‘well’ living.  What I mean is there is a difference between health and wellness.  Health is the absence of disease and wellness is the ‘good life’.

So I will set out 14 goals for 2015.  1 health goal and 1 wellness goal around each of the 7 dimensions of health.

Not only will I be sharing them with him but also here.  Accountability is a big thing for me since I am really good rationalizer.

While it is still a little early to look that far ahead, here is to a great Holiday 2014 and an even better 2015.

The life of an introvert’s longest lasting friend

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I don’t make friends easily.  In fact I don’t really make friends at all.  They kind of make me.

Let me explain.  I am not exactly willing to invest time in a friendship.  Mostly because it is exhausting and takes energy that I could use for other things.  And I don’t like navigating that tricky grey space between too personal and friendly innocent inquiry.

That isn’t to say I don’t care.  I do care … maybe too much.  And I don’t have boundaries.  My closest girl friends know more about me than they probably want to.

One of my longest standing friendships has been on my mind recently.

The poor girl has probably learned more about me than she ever bargained for and has (I am sure) rolled her eyes at me more than I care to think.  She is usually the first … okay second to my husband … person I go to with things, and is probably one of the few people that has been tasked with listening to my ugly cry over the phone while still having a conversation with me.

In the last few days I have been thinking about our friendship.  I have an idea of who she is and what her likes and dislikes are that were formed starting in our 3rd grade classroom.

I think her and I have relied on each other to keep the other grounded and who we are insight.  Its a great thing to have … except I wonder if I have stepped back and given her the space to grow within our friendship.  To be someone different.  I don’t know, maybe she is a mani pedi kinda girl – which by the way, if you are I am down for that!

I wonder about some of the things we don’t do together … like go out for a drink … that I know she does with other people and think about A.) how bizarre it would be if we did that and B.) what am I missing still seeing the 3rd grader in her and C.) why is this the way it is?

Investing in a friendship is hard and sucks the energy right out of me, has that stunted our friendship?  Am I too self-absorbed to put the time in?  And does it matter?

I don’t know many people that trust me enough that when I text them and say ‘can I write about you on my blog’ I get a ‘yes’ no questions asked.  Very few people in my life have had the task (or should it be privilege) of seeing all the ugly from my first crush to my first heartbreak, from my wedding to my first child, from my first home to my first puppy … okay those last two don’t go together so well.

I think about how we met and how our friendship evolved and don’t understand how 20+ years came out of my sassy little self walking over to the one person in class who could not have probably cared any less and asked ‘do you like my perm’ or whatever variation came out of my self assured 3rd grade mouth.

Seriously – she is shy, I don’t invest if I don’t have to … it’s a little amazing we made it past that first 20 second exchange – but am I lucky we did.

Along for the ride

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I think it is fair to say that I love my little girl more than life itself.  And if you read my post about the women in Starbucks you probably noticed that I love to people watch and/or eavesdrop.  I can’t help it, human behavior is just undeniably fascinating.  And it happened again tonight in Panera.

I was watching a mom with her kids and I think her and her husband were working on buying a new house.  And it made me wonder about what their children would want.  And then it came full circle back to A.

I love her dearly and like to think I make decisions with her best interest in mind but I also have my own goals and own agendas.  I have my own hopes and dreams for myself as well as for her and her future.  How many times am I going to drag her along for the ride when maybe it isn’t in her best interest or something she really wants?

Post 100

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I assume that after I hit publish wordpress will give me a ‘congratulations you just published your 100th post’ notification.  I feel like this should somehow be a monumental post … and aren’t we conditioned to feel that way from a young age?

In elementary school we celebrate the 100th day of school … Okay that is actually the only example I can think of but it seems like such a big number.  Like I should have learned something, I should have accomplished something, I should have something profound to share.

And yet, I look back at the last 100 posts and realize, this blog is a freaking mess.  I started it almost a year ago because I just wanted to.  I didn’t have a clear vision of what this would be and I didn’t have a plan.  I just sat down.  All I knew was that I had some stuff going on and somethings to say.  I figured at least one person out there would be interested.

I have tried to organize my thoughts (and posts) but seem to always fall short.  Honestly if this were a sheet of paper I would have crumpled it and started over long before I ‘published’ it but it somehow seems like more work to delete all of my words to rethink and reorganize.  And so you end up getting what you get.

I wish I had beautiful profound well thought words to share.  I wish I had learned a great deal about something, instead here is to a hundred more … and the next big mile stone in my mind being post 1000.