As a mom, I am always questioning myself. Am I doing this right? How can I be better? I wish I had more patience. Motherhood is a constant finding of oneself. It’s the feeling of wanting to be needed, but also needing time to yourself. It’s all these little contradictions. It’s hard as hell, but it’s worth all its difficulties.
Recently, I was chatting with a friend who is also expecting, but this is her first. She asked me tons of questions about labor, and she confessed to me that she was petrified of labor.
It brought me back to my pregnancy with Caleb. I don’t remember being scared of labor itself, just apprehensive about all the unknowns. When you’re used to being in control of just about everything, something that brings so many unknowns, like labor, can be a little scary.
But whenever the conversation came up, and people asked me how come I wasn’t scared, I would always respond with, “Because my body was made to do this. I was born to be a mother.” The fact that millions of women have been doing this, since the beginning of time, with way less knowledge and way fewer medical advancements, was always a huge comfort to me. I always used the image of Mary, and said, if she could give birth in a stable, surrounded by animals on a bed of hay, then I can certainly do this in a hospital bed, surrounded by doctors.
This time around, I am way less apprehensive about the process itself. My body has already done this once. It can certainly do it again. But like always, those little fears creep in. Should I be induced? What if I forget how to push? What if the pain is too much to bear? What if I don’t make it to the hospital in time?
But every time those fears creep in, I remind myself, I was BORN TO DO THIS.
You can find this tee at Therapy For Moms Shoppe. Therapy for Moms started out as an Instagram account that was meant to just help moms get through the days. Their latest venture has been a shop with products created by moms, for moms. They have some great pieces to help remind you of the journey you are on - some funny and some uplifting. Lisette, the founder, reached out to me a few months back and sent me this tee, asking me to share my story. I thought this was a great reminder of how we as moms can forget that we are made to do exactly what we are doing, and that as much as we doubt ourselves, a mother's instinct kicks in.
So don't doubt yourself, momma. Because you were born to do this.
Want one of these tees for yourself? Visit Therapy for Moms Shoppe and get 20% off your order when you use the code JENISE20. It will get you 20% off your entire purchase, excluding $5 Deals and Therapy Boxes. Coupon expires 2/2/18.
Yesterday, I posted in my Instagram stories about an activity I did with Caleb after school one day. He had received this big cardboard rocket ship for Christmas, and it was meant to be painted. I had been putting it off because I knew that I needed to make this an outdoor activity and that it would certainly require some cleanup. And while I know my kid is excessively messy and loves to smear stuff all over himself, I'm still a little shocked at the reactions that people sent me when it came to my stories. "OMG. I'm dying for you." "Ugh, what a mess." "I don't know how you deal with that." "Ummm, that's my worst nightmare."
On Tuesday, I picked him up from school and he was in some kind of mood. I let him be for a little bit and after a few minutes of silence, I asked him if he wanted to paint his rocket ship this afternoon. He yelled, "NO!" loudly and shook his head. I let him be again, and after about two minutes, he said, really softly, "Mommy, I want paint my rocket. You paint with me?" Of course, I had suggested it, so I wasn't about to say no.
The rest of the way home, he was way more low key and mentioned painting a few more times. By the time we reached home, he was ready to go. He wanted to paint right this minute. I knew this was something I needed to do a little bit of prep for, so I kept giving him tasks he had to complete before we could go out and paint. I had him change out of his uniform and into play clothes, I gave him a snack and some water, and made him use the potty. He was clearly annoyed with me. But I knew once we were outside painting, I wasn't letting him back in until he was completely done.
While he did all of that, I prepped the paint, and pulled out his smock and some of his paintbrushes. (One small tip - keep all of this stuff together in a basket or bin so when you need it, it's all in the same place and you don't have to hunt stuff down; also, use disposable plates and cups to hold the paint so cleanup is just throwing those things out). We took everything outside and went to town on that rocket ship.
For the first few minutes, he worked really quietly. I watched, I took a few photos, and I relished in the fact that I had managed to bait and switch him into a good mood. He was completely concentrated on what he was doing. Then he turned to me and asked me, "Mommy, can you paint with me?" How could I say no to that? So of course, I joined him. We painted in silence together, no distractions, no arguments, me not bossing him around. And he looked over at me, often, to make sure I was still "on task." I painted with him for over twenty minutes, and guys, let me tell you, I will cherish those twenty minutes of doing something with my son for a very long time.
After twenty minutes, I sat back down, because, well, pregnancy. I let him keep doing his thing. I watched and I talked to him and asked him questions. And then all of a sudden, he was smearing paint all over his smock. Then in his hair, and all over his face. But I didn't tell him to stop.
You see, kids don't have this same sense of order that we do. They also explore in lots of different ways. Caleb likes to feel things. He has, on numerous occasions, smeared himself with paint, yogurt, hummus, and a few other food items. I know that my kid is prone to doing this. So I'm proactive about it. Instead of flipping out because ohmygodhesmakingamess, I make sure I sit him in his high chair, or we take the paint outside. He doesn't feel like he's being stifled, and I'm not really freaking out because it's a controlled mess. Also, having been a special education teacher for many years, and working with a number of kids on the Autism spectrum who suffered from sensory issues, it always warms my heart a little to see that my son has no sensory issues.
But really, at the end of it all, we killed well over an hour of time, we spent quality time together (I consciously only took a few photos with my phone), and he had a chance to do some sensory activities, which is never a bad thing. I'd certainly consider that a win in my book.
And afterwards? There was nothing a little bath time couldn't fix. ;)
So let your kids make the messes. As a matter of fact, make the mess with them. I promise, it's not a moment you will soon forget. And at the very least, you'll get some fun pictures and amazing memories out of it.
Chalk it up to not being a first-time mom or something like that, but I have been terrible at documenting my belly this pregnancy. For some reason, when I read my 33-week update this morning, I felt a little guilty about not having captured my belly more, so before we headed out today I had hubby snap a quick one on my phone.
So yes, I am 33 weeks along. You read that correctly. Thirty-three! I can hardly believe it. That means that in just about seven weeks, there will be a new human living amongst us. Pretty crazy thought. I've been feeling about as decent as it gets when it comes to pregnancy.
Some things I'm feeling:
And since the holidays are gone, Caleb's birthday has passed, and my due date is drawing near, I'm getting my butt in gear and starting to prepare for this little girl's entrance into the world. Here are some of the things I'm working on:
There are about a million things running through my head at the moment and the mental load is real. But I'm so excited to become a family of four and I can't wait to have my little princess in my arms!
Until next time!
While we're on the subject of independence this week, let's talk about it on a more personal level. In this day and age where helicopter parenting (it's a thing, I promise, look it up) is so popular and so damaging, let's remind ourselves to be more like America and loosen the reigns a bit. When I was teaching, the one thing I always swore was that I wouldn't be a helicopter parent. And while what you say before you have kids and what you do once you actually have them are two different things, this is one thing I have tried to stick to. And while Caleb hasn't started school just yet, and I don't know what I'll be like once he does, I am trying to make sure he doesn't feel like he is still attached to me by the umbilical cord.
According to the article I linked from Parents Magazine, helicopter parenting means that parents are overly focused on their children. In this day and age where we are so consumed with perfection, we sometimes forget all the great parenting skills our parents had, whether they were intentional or inadvertent. I find that I have to be very conscious and tell myself not to hover. We have been taught to fear so much, danger lurks around every corner. The other day, when talking about traveling abroad, someone told me, "You have to watch your stroller every second or they will walk away with the stroller and your child in it." I get it. We want to protect our kids. We NEED to protect our kids.
But it cannot come at the cost of their independence and ability to do things for themselves.
I think helicopter parenting is a term that is typically applied more to school aged children and parents who are making sure their children succeed at any cost, including completing assignments for them. However, I definitely think the tendencies can begin before school begins, and I am trying to do a few things to foster independence in Caleb that will help him adjust to life away from home and Mommy & Daddy's arms.
He plays independently. A lot.
Momma's got work to do. The house needs picking up. Blog posts have to be written, meals need to be made. When we over schedule our kids from such a young age, they never learn to be bored and use their imaginations. They feel like they need to be entertained at every moment. And I do not have the time, nor the energy, to entertain him every minute of every day. He's got a playroom full of toys of every kind at his disposal. This doesn't mean I won't play with him for a little while, or schedule play dates or take him to do an activity of some kind, it just means I'm not planning every second of his day.
He isn't attached by the umbilical cord.
They cut that thing the second he popped out. Literally - it was cutting off his air supply. There's no need for me to keep him within arms reach when we are in open areas. At the playground, at the park, at the beach, I give him space. If I see he needs help or there is imminent danger, I stop him or help him. But otherwise, I'm letting him build up that confidence. And I'm always paying attention and just a short distance away.
He gets hurt. And gets in trouble. And everything he does is not adorable or funny.
My child isn't always in the right. If he hits your child without reason, I'm going to scold him, but you can go ahead and scold him too. If I tell him not to do something because he's going to get hurt, and he keeps doing it anyway and gets hurt, I'll comfort him, but I also talk about the consequences of our actions. And contrary to popular belief, everything he does is not adorable, and we shouldn't laugh when he does something he really should not do. Is this hard sometimes? YES. But it's important for them not think that everything they do is adorable.
It isn't easy. I've had to make a very conscious decision for some of these things. And I know once he starts school, it won't get any easier. But when he applies for college or a job and stands out because Mom isn't the one doing his communicating for him guys this really happens, like for real), then I'll know we did a good job.
A while back, I posted about accepting my MomBod. And while I don't beat myself up about my weight or the way I look anymore, If I'm 100% honest, I don't always love myself the way that I should. I brush off compliments and say, "Oh no way, they're just being nice." And really, that's a knee-jerk reaction that we develop to compliments when we don't feel worthy of them. And I don't want that to be what my son learns from me - that I, or any woman, doesn't feel worthy enough to accept a compliment from the ones they love.
I didn't realize just how much I did this until recently, when Eddie told me how beautiful I looked while we were at the beach last week. I nearly rolled my eyes and I definitely made some kind of guttural sound like "ugh, yea right." And he called me out on it. He wasn't upset or hurtful, but he definitely made me realize that I'm not as receptive of compliments as I should be. And in the last few weeks, Caleb has started to tell me, "Mommy, bee-ful (his version of beautiful)!" I don't ever want to shoot down his complimenting me. Because guess what? In their eyes, I am beautiful.
Lately, I've been having Eddie take outfit photos of me. Not because I don't want to work with photographers, but because there is something different in the way Eddie captures me. I don't know if it's because he knows my best angles, or because he's looking through the lens at someone he loves, but I'm always so happy with the way those photos turn out, and I tend to nitpick at them way less than I do at other photos.
I actually had him take some photos of me this past week, on the beach, in a bathing suit. We had gotten up early and the morning was beautiful. I threw on my swimsuit and a sarong, and I grabbed my camera on the way out the door. I asked him to take a few shots of me, not knowing what I would use them for. When I started browsing through them, I was pleasantly surprised. Because before I noticed my belly sticking out, I noticed my smile. Before I noticed that my boobs didn't look perfect, I noticed how relaxed I looked. And I noticed that I did, in fact, look pretty.
And you know what? Since that moment on the beach, I haven't felt self-conscious about the way I look. I have been focused on making memories with my family, and relaxing, and enjoying the time we have been spending together. Because years from now, my son and my husband won't remember that I had a little extra back fat. They will remember jumping in the waves with me, and building sand castles with me, and walking up and down the beach with me. And that's what I want them to remember. Not that mom was too ashamed to take off her cover-up to jump in the water with them.
So from now on, I'm going to try to be more accepting of compliments. I'm going to try to see myself the way those who love me see me, for myself.
And you should try it momma. Because you're beautiful, just as you are. Trust me.
P.S. I want to shout out a blogger who epitomizes body confidence and positivity, Sarah Tripp at Sassy Red Lipstick. She is gorgeous, and every time I see her posts, I realize that I am normal, and that I should be happy with how I look, right now. Go check her out, I promise you won't be disappointed (her hubby also happens to be her photographer and they're the cutest).
Bathing Suit & Hat: Target
If you have been following me on social media, you know I'm not posting as frequently because we are on vacation at the beach. This year, we decided to do a staycation on a beach close to home. We arrived a week ago, and we'll be here for another little bit. Unfortunately for us, the weather has been terrible! We've had a few flashes of sunlight and clearer skies, but for the most part, it has been soggy and rainy.
We have decided to make the most of it anyway and we have been doing a lot of reading, playing together, and spending time with one another. It has forced us to slow down and enjoy one another, which is something I will never be upset over.
But since our time in the sun has been limited, I try to have my beach bag ready to go at all times so we can just run out when the sun comes out. Truthfully speaking, my beach bag is always packed and ready to go in our linen closet, especially in the summer months, when last minute beach days are always a possibility.
Keep in mind a couple of things:
1. We are staying on the beach. If I was spending a day at the beach and was further away from home, I would probably pack a lot more.
2. Caleb requires a lot less now than he did last summer or the summer prior. Now he's happy to play in the sand most of the day and run around chasing the birds or run from the waves.
I'm using a Longchamp bag that my mom gave me for Christmas as my beach bag. This one is colorful, and it doesn't let the moisture in. Plus, I can zip it up to keep the sand out when I'm not using it. It cleans up easily enough, just wiping it off with a damp cloth.
Inside my bag I keep a few essentials (not everything is shown in the photo above):
A couple of other things we take to the beach, but that are not in my beach bag:
And for Caleb, since sunscreen application and re-application is important, but sometimes difficult, I dress him in a swimsuit and swim diaper, but I always put a rash guard with SPF on him to protect him from the sun's rays and preventing a sunburn.
And there you have it, our beach essentials! I hope this is helpful, and I hope you have some amazing summer beach days! I'm off to enjoy some sunshine. :)
In case nobody has told you yet, momma. It's okay.
It's okay to feel overwhelmed.
It's okay to feel like you're drowning sometimes.
It's okay to want to escape.
It's okay to cry.
It's okay to not want to have to clean up after anyone.
It's okay to leave the dishes in the sink.
It's okay to take some time to yourself.
It's okay to feel like you don't have it all together.
It's okay to NOT have it all together.
Motherhood is hard. Working moms have it tough. Stay-at-home moms have it tough. Work-from-home moms have it tough. And some times are tougher than others. And it's okay to feel the pressures of motherhood weighing down on you.
I've had meltdowns more times than I care to count in the last few months. Call it the terrible twos getting the best of me. Call it overworking myself. Call it trying to be a perfectionist in everything I do and feeling like I'm not succeeding at anything. Whatever you call it, I've been feeling it.
And guess what? Until I asked for help - from my hubby - it wasn't going to get better. Until I asked for help with the dishes and the laundry and the picking up and time for myself. I wasn't going to stop having tantrums on par with Caleb's.
But the thing is, I don't have to be perfect. I have to be present. I have to be happy. I have to be loving. Perfect doesn't fall into any of those categories.
But one day you'll wake up and feel better. One day you'll have an amazing morning with your little one, and maybe you'll be lucky enough to wake up and the dishes will be done, and the house will be picked up. And there's nothing wrong with me, or with you, when you're not okay.
But until that day, momma, it's okay to not be okay. Because soon it will be.
While I was getting ready to write this, Eddie looked over at me and says, "Wait, so you're writing a list on what to get for Mother's Day for other moms to read it?" So I almost nixed the idea. But then I thought, "No - because I'm usually the mom that has no idea what to ask for, and I would love to have some ideas of what I could ask for this year." Plus, we have other moms we buy for don't we? So I decided to stick with it and publish this list anyway. Use it to buy for the other moms in your life, or send it to your significant other in an e-mail. Or not. I included things I've been pining over or things that have been a hit as gifts in the past.
For every mom
I have been swooning over Taudrey's stuff for a LONG time now. Their pieces are all handmade and personalized. They are a local Miami company - I actually went to the same high school as Tiffany (and I taught her little brother, too!) the owner and designer. Their pieces are dainty and beautiful on their own, mixed with other pieces, dressed up, or for everyday. I actually have this necklace, with Eddie & Caleb's initials. This is another beautiful option. As a matter of fact, you probably can't go wrong with a whole lot from this company, and there's a Taudrey goodie included in this week's giveaway! Read all the way to the bottom for details on how to enter and win!
For the mama to be
If you haven't heard of Lauren Arboleda at Food from the Heart, you should definitely go check out her blog. She has healthy and delicious recipes that you would never guess are so good for you. And she recently published her first book, Pregnancy from the Heart. She includes tips for pregnancy, healthy eating, including a fertility diet, recipes, tips for staying active, and what to do to get ready for baby. What I love about this book is that she isn't giving you tons of technical terms - it's like you're reading the words of one of your best friends!
And guess what? We're giving away a copy! I've teamed up with Lauren and one of you lucky readers will get a copy this week! Follow the instructions at the end of this post to enter! Not expecting? So what? I'm sure you know someone who is - and even if you don't, the recipes in here are definitely usable for those of us who aren't pregnant!
For the practical mama
One site I am always checking for new products is Mark & Graham. They do a lot of personalizing and their preppy modern take on items is so lovely. If I were to choose just one thing to add to my list is would be this super cool car organizer.
For the mom who needs a break
You can't go wrong with a day at the spa, a massage, or a mani/pedi. Just saying.
For the mom who's always on the go
I've talked about how much I love my Vauva pack backpack before, and the more time passes, the more glad I am that I got it. I have used these bags for Disney trips and every local outing imaginable. Heck, sometimes I put my camera lenses in there even when I don't have Caleb with me.
For your own mom
We actually gave my parents a family photo session for Christmas this year, and they absolutely loved it as a gift - I don't think we could ever top that. I know that as a mom, memories with my family are one thing I will always cherish. So why not gift mom a photo session? Check out local photographers in your area (oh, hi, Miami mommas - time for a shameless plug), and book a session for mom! I promise it will be a hit!
For the mom who loves to cook
Anything from LeCreuset is always a hit for me. The quality is amazing and cast-iron is always a good idea! For our anniversary, I actually got a special edition Beauty & The Beast soup pot, and it is a permanent fixture on my stove because I love it so much. That one is no longer available, but look how beautiful these flower ones are!
For the sentimental mom
Make her something, or help your kids make her something. Any mom will love a handmade gift, more so when it comes from their children! I'm leaving a couple of pins below to give you a few ideas!
For the shoe lover
Last year I got a pair of Soludos and I have not stopped wearing them. What better gift to kick off the summer season than an adorable pair of espadrilles? Soludos has all these cute designs and you can find a pair for everyone on your list! How cute are these flamingo ones?
This won't cost a thing...
Give mom the day off. It can be on Mother's Day, or another day of your choosing. Let her sleep in. Don't let her wash dishes. Take care of bath time. Get the kids ready for brunch. Keep the house picked up. Sometimes as moms, that's all we need!
At the end of the day, know that whatever you get your Mom, she will be happy. It will be a gift, from you, from your heart. And you can only truly understand that when you become a mother yourself. It's not about the presents, it's about your presence. But something thoughtful and from the heart never hurts.
Anniversary Giveaway #3
I'm a little late with this one, and I apologize, but I was stuck in bed with a stomach virus and it was not pretty! But this week's giveaway includes the beautiful Pregnancy from the Heart by Lauren Arboleda, and a Taudrey hair elastic/cuff that says "Mom Life." Perfect Mother's Day gifts for the moms in your life! Enter below for a chance to win! Giveaway will run through 12:00 am Friday and the winner will be announced Friday morning, as usual!
A couple of months ago, my friend and I were chatting about things we wished existed that would be a great service for moms. One of the things we talked about was a nail salon that somehow had a playground incorporated into it, where you could take your kids when you have nobody to leave them with while you go get your mani/pedi.
Lo and behold, about a week later, an ad for Pod22 showed up on my Instagram feed. It was exactly what we had been talking about. Pod22 calls itself an urban break room. It's an indoor playground facility with lots of kid friendly play structures and padded flooring. It also has a lounge area, wifi, and a nail salon. One of the things that called my attention about Pod22 is that they have supervised play. Your kids aren't just running around - they are being watched by someone else so you really can relax!
The first thing I noticed when I stepped in is how modern and open the space is. From anywhere in the space, you can see almost the entire playground area. You enter, sign a waiver, and hand your little one over to the play supervisor. In Caleb's case, he was one-on-one with her the whole time I was getting my mani/pedi. The playground area is very clean and well kept, and is visually appealing for kids and adults alike.
Once he was entertained, they led me to the nail salon, an enclosed area with a glass wall where you can see your child in the playground area. The glass is tinted from the outside, so it's not very easy for your child to notice you in there, and the attendants do a great job of keeping them away from the windows.
My manicure was lovely. My manicurist was friendly and did a really great job on my manicure and pedicure. As a matter of fact, a week later, and my manicure is still perfectly intact aside from new nail growth. The fact that I could see Caleb the whole time I was getting my manicure and pedicure was comforting, but since I could tell he was having fun, I was really able to relax. At one point I looked out the window and saw him dancing to the "Hot Dog Song" from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which made me crack up.
As a matter of fact, he had so much fun that as soon as we sat in the car, he knocked out for his nap and slept for nearly 2 hours! That's a successful playtime to me!
Another great thing about Pod22 is that you don't necessarily have to go and get a mani/pedi while you are there. You can use supervised play and sit in the lounge area. They have great wifi, so if you have work you need to get done, like oh - say - a blog post that needs to get posted, you can take your kids to supervised play and get some work done.
They also have memberships available, which include supervised play and give discounts on services. And they offer birthday party packages, which is definitely a super option, especially if your child's birthday is in the warmer months when doing something outside is really difficult. Another plus is dedicated parking in the back of the building, which can be hard to come by for some places.
For me, the one drawback is the location - it's a little over 13 miles from home for me. That being said, there is nothing else like this in Miami, which makes it worth it for me to make my way there, even considering the distance.
I really can't begin to say enough wonderful things about this place, and I guarantee Caleb and I will be back again soon! I only wish I had come up with this idea myself! lol
So if you are in the Miami area, check them out, and let them know I sent you!
*I received free services at Pod22 in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. They also provided me with photos to include in the blog post.
When I was younger, I always used to make fun of my mom for her collection of pointy-toed shoes. Once I started working, I realized that they were the easiest way to pull an outfit together, and I grew my collection of pointy-toed heels. I still have some of those, but I don't wear them nearly as often now.
When I got pregnant with Caleb, pointy-toed flats became my go to shoes for work. And now that I'm home, I slip on a pair whenever I want to feel put together but still comfortable. The collection is always growing, and I have some in every price range.
They easily make a blah outfit chic and way more polished. They're appropriate for nearly every situation, and I'm more stable on my feet, which is a necessity to run after my little guy.
The ones pictured above are my favorites! From top, clockwise: Valentino, Dr. Scholls, Nine West, BCBG (similar here and here), Old Navy (similar here).
About this Mom
A Miami wife and mom documenting her days with her toddler and all that comes along with it.