Am I an Old Mom?

Am I an Old Mom?

I had a long-term boyfriend from college that lasted WAY too long with too many hopes of him being the actual “one” when in reality there really isn’t THE one. He was the one at one point but I believe (don’t tell my husband) that there are many people out there that you are compatible with and capable of falling in love with. Timing is critical when it comes to where you are in your life and what person you are at that time. If my ex-boyfriend came to me today and got down on one knee asking me to marry him, Lord have mercy on us all I’d say “No thank you” and run for the hills. You see, the person I was at age 21 to 30 was a completely different woman than I am today. I’m truly thankful that I was the person I was, learned all I did, and experienced that relationship.

 

When I was newly single, I was 28 years old. You may read that and think, “Man, she was a baby! She still had so much time to find someone new and create that family she wanted.” But you see, that 28-year-old woman moving into her new apartment, living alone for the first time, starting over, when ALLLLLL of her friends were married, had kids, were engaged, close to it, living in the suburbs, living the family life… was terrified. Terrified YET also very excited and proud that the huge weight was off my shoulders and I could move forward and trust the journey that was in front of me. So even though the number said 28, that didn’t matter with where I thought I should be in life. That schedule I was supposed to follow. WHO created this schedule for our lives? I’d love to meet that person. This person decided when you go to college, when you should have a serious boyfriend, you need to get engaged by X age, have a child by X age, have X amount of kids, move to the ‘burbs, stay at home, go back to work, when to go back to work, and this list goes on. Why aren’t we making our OWN schedules and what works for us? At 28, the schedule I had in my head (which I wasn’t meeting of course) was I should have been married and have at LEAST one child. Because that’s what most of my friends were doing. Not all, but most. Today, I look back to the woman I was at 28 and see that was neither the time for marriage nor children for me. That time was an opportunity where I was learning so much and my heart wasn’t open to let certain things in.

 

Being newly single and living on your own for the first time is an experience like no other. I was also afraid to be by myself but at the same time there was pride in what I was doing and confidence that this was where I needed to be. My parents helped move me in and set up my apartment where I remember my mother folding my jeans and stepfather setting up my sound system. I felt like I was stepping back and moving into my college dorm. The reality was I was making the biggest step forward in my life. I didn’t want them to leave; yet I yearned for that first night in my own place. A Mary Tyler Moore moment where everything falls into place and you realize you’re going to make it. So many emotions were traveling through me that evening and as I lay my head on the pillow, setting my alarm for my first morning by myself.

 

I lived in that apartment for over 2 years and in that time I not only dated, but I had the chance to truly learn how to live on my own. I didn’t need a roommate, a boyfriend, or a parent to help me. These 2 years hold some of the best memories I’ll ever have and I’m so grateful that I took that leap and didn’t settle for what my “schedule” was telling me. I swear to this day that if I met my husband during those 2 years, or earlier, I wouldn’t have married him. I wouldn’t have appreciated him nor was I in a place to open my heart to him. The war wounds of dating and the path of independence I took shaped me to the woman he met and married. I only wish I had that mindset of trusting the journey that was right for me back then as I do now. My timing was unique to me and there wasn’t a schedule I needed to follow other than what fell in my lap.

 

When I met my husband, I was 30. My best friend and her husband set us up after a SLEW of online dating, along with too many bad set-ups and blind dates to keep track of. We fell hard, and fast, and he proposed within 6 months and I let my Mary Tyler Moore apartment go and moved to the suburbs to be with him and his 2 children. Ready-made family in less than one year! Shocking as it was, it felt right and this was the path I should take. Obviously I also over-analyzed at times and friends around me questioned if I was doing the “right thing” or “rushing into it” but I confidently told them “You know, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always a Plan B. But right now Plan A feels good.” My years of selfishness (or whatever we want to call it) and living on my own gave me confidence that I could figure anything out. I’d get back on my feet with any mistake and embrace whatever I could learn. I’d be stronger. Those feelings are still always in the back of my mind. Not that I see divorce in the future, but let’s be honest, ANYTHING can happen. My husband could sit me down tonight and tell me he’s leaving me, he could fall ill, or the worst case scenario. I don’t live life as if bad things will eventually happen, but I do live life feeling prepared. Maybe that’s why I waited longer for some things in my life, the important things?

 

Just as of recent I believe I feel this way because of, you guessed it, my past. I’ve become quite spiritual these past few years and am totally into psychics, mediums, psychic mediums, my yoga instructor reading me Oracle cards, or simply paying more attention to the signs and signals that are around me. My recent Oracle card reading really hit something that I know has been in the back corner of my brain since I’ve been in middle school. The word on the card was “COMMITMENT”. At first, I was confused as to what that could mean and she pulled it referencing my past. We sat and talked for a bit trying to brew up whatever this meant to me. The more I talked to her and just let some things out, the more it made sense to me. The word “commitment” became this past promise and pressure that I have put on myself. My parents had an on-again-off-again marriage that, for me, started when I was in middle school when they became separated. The marriage was back and forth depending on how my father’s alcoholism and eventually other addictions played on stage. My mother hadn’t worked since I was born; which I’m sure played some part in her decision to stay with him. The thoughts of “What do I even do? What do I put on my resume? Where do I even look for a job? Will I be able to support my 3 children?” probably ran through her head as she was back and forth on her decision to stay with my dad. Those thoughts would be going through my head FOR SURE and I’d be terrified to be thrown out into the cold. I don’t know what was worse though: those feelings going through her head or my father’s constant instability with his addictions and losing his job? Either way, what a terrifying feeling for a mother to have. Sure you may have family to help or a friend to lean on but we are talking about full on survival mode. I didn’t realize this until my Oracle reading, but during that time, and when they finally divorced my junior year of high school, I created a promise and a COMMITMENT to myself to always be prepared. To always have something of my own, to have a source of income, to be able to find a place to live, not to rely on anyone, confidently leave a bad situation, never stay because I depend on that person, and to always have Plan B resting on the shelf.

 

I wasn’t baby-crazy right after our wedding. Sure, I thought about having a baby. My husband has 2 children where I felt we had a pretty awesome family as it was. I was working a lot, traveling for work, having fun with friends, traveling with my husband, at times my stepchildren, and enjoying the life we had. For some reason there wasn’t a huge rush, even though I received the “You’re over 35” lecture from my OBGYN along with the “high risk” label. When I started to actually think about it, it didn’t happen as quickly as I thought it would. So many of my friends just got pregnant, plain and simple. I never heard anyone struggling to get pregnant and was very unfamiliar with this world. There wasn’t any concern and my doctor had the typical “well, come see me in a year if you haven’t become pregnant” response so I thought it wasn’t a big deal. For me, it was a feeling of whatever happens would happen. At the same time, I also wondered if I was just “old” with the warnings my doctor gave me.

 

My husband and I were in Puerto Vallarta for my best friend’s wedding where we tagged on some days prior to enjoy some time to ourselves before the wedding. We stayed at a Westin hotel away from the wedding festivities to enjoy some quiet time, sun, and umbrella drinks. What was supposed to be one on one time ended up being a 3-day party with about 40 gay men lounging at our pool each day. Of course we became best friends with them all and had a blast and even better, I made a connection with one of the men. He was a Health Coach and lived by me where we got to talking over our drinks about his career. I don’t know how it came about that I was having a hard time conceiving, but I find a gay man can open all of my doors and Pandora’s box in less than an hour. Since he was just starting out, he offered to talk to me more when we got back home with the possibility of working with his 6-month program and me to see if he could help. Hanging out with a fun gay man for 6 months? Did he even have to ask?

 

When we got back to reality, we met up after work where he did an initial consult with me to get to know me, my lifestyle, how I was eating, moving, drinking, the whole shebang. I was honest with him. Again, gay men can also be my truth serum. I feel so comfortable telling them anything with no fear of judgment. “Girl, you have a LOT going on with that body of yours!” I don’t think I realized this until I laid it out and talked it through with him. I worked long hours in a stressful industry, traveled for it, entertained clients a lot which involved many cocktails and late nights, I wasn’t exercising, I wasn’t sleeping well, my spirituality was bleh, I wasn’t connecting to my husband, and was pretty much in stress-mode all the time. I wanted change after writing this all out, seeing all this on the paper, and actually talking about it with him. So I followed the changes he gave me and was loyal to our meetings, homework, I reached out when I needed help, and I was passionate about taking care of myself. Within 3 months I was pregnant. I truly believe that the changes I made, along with taking some pressure off of myself, made this happen.

 

My pregnancy was amazing and I never felt better, due to working with my health coach along with the motivation I had inside me to be the healthiest I could be for Brooklyn. It’s so crazy how pregnancy motivated me to not only make some amazing changes with my health, but also to become a health coach myself. I’ve had my slips and slopes since then but I’ve truly changed my lifestyle and carried it through to this day. I don’t know what it would have been like to have a baby in my 20’s or early 30’s. I was in the worst shape, I drank too much, smoked cigarettes, ate horrible food, was pretty darn stressed out and wasn’t connected spiritually like I am today. I don’t think I would have the teachings I have given Brooklyn if I wasn’t where I was when I had her. And where I am today. It’s crazy how today I have more energy, alertness, happiness, confidence and connection than I had 10-20 years ago. Maybe I would have figured it out in a different way. It would have still worked out to what was meant to be. That’s the beauty of this all. I can look back and wonder, question, talk about it, but this path that I’ve taken is the path that was meant for me. Now it’s your turn to connect and appreciate the path that is meant for YOU.

Do You Constantly Feel Behind in Life?

Do you constantly feel you’re behind, catching up, adding to the pile, and it’s overwhelming you? Ugh, so do I. Maybe it’s the long list of to-dos that just keep growing no matter how many I cross off? Otherwise it is the “you should be doing this at this point in your life” pressures we put on ourselves. When to go to college, when to move in with your partner, when to get married, have kids, travel or knock something off your bucket list. For our kids, that pressure is there and real as well. When to start school, where to go, when they should be reading, are they falling behind, activities and then they hit the social pressures. I am guilty of disconnecting from the life that was meant for me. The timing that works for Brooklyn. How we are each unique and don’t have to honor any schedule or pressure. Who is creating this schedule and why do we feel we need to follow it?

As a new mom, there are so many emotions and pressures around you.  You’re being tossed information from so many different sources that claim to “know it” and after one says this, then the other writes this, a friend tells you that you should do this, the news says another thing with one of their “experts”… can you feel the anxiety attack coming?  Who the heck are these “experts” anyways and why should anyone dictate how your life unfolds, and your children’s?  I love reading, listening, watching and learning but what I’ve come to is the point of taking little tid bits of things that speak to me and brush away the things that just don’t.  I don’t know if this comes with age, confidence, a thicker skin, and eventually giving zero F’s about what Dr. Whoever or Coach Whatever says to you.  Doing what works for you and your family is at the forefront.  If you’re not there, don’t stress yourself out … again, another “scheduled item” that doesn’t need to be YOUR schedule.  If you are fine and confident about how you run your show, then keep going that road.

When that point of “I feel I can’t keep up” comes to you and you’re anxious, frustrated, irritated and maybe even depressed, let’s pause and take a breath.  Whew.  OK so what helped me, and this takes time, is to write.  Every year I create a “What hasn’t worked vs. What has worked” spreadsheet.  I write my goals, and why they are important.  I write my values, and why they are important to me.  I write my important things in life, and why they are important.  I write my action steps, and why I need to do them.  Every year I do this.  Every January.  I then take some evenings or an hour when Brooklyn is at school to write my story.  Nothing crazy, a page or so, of visions and what I see happening to me that coming year.  What I saw in the past year with how I felt about it.  Writing is so helpful with connecting with what you truly want.  Even better, hand writing.  I commit to just one entry a day in my writing journal and use one that gives me writing prompts.  The “Start Where You Are” journal by Meera Lee Patel is an awesome one with beautiful watercolors which just add to the pleasure of physically writing.

With how disconnected we can become as all the information is thrown at us, it helps to find ways to quiet the outside and listen to what’s going on inside.  It’s there, I promise, you just have to find the silence to hear it.  You’re not alone and there are still days where I need that help with reconnecting and using the tools that work for me.  With the connection you can figure out what the days, weeks, months, years and lifetime will become for you as a mother along with your family.  This can be a gift you give to your children for them to use as they grow and have more and more piles in front of them.  Don’t worry, you’re not behind.  You’re right on schedule with where you should be.

A Letter to that Mother in the Corner

A Letter to that Mother in the Corner

Hello mother and friend,

I am watching you and see you are struggling.  The look in your eyes not only longs for answers but also sleep.  I may know how you feel but you also have a very unique story.  You’re longing for answers, confirmation that what you’re doing is right, to have confidence that what you’re doing is right.  You don’t take care of yourself.  You feel guilty.  I know and understand, as I did it myself.  Heck, some days I still do it.  You’re sitting with your child on your lap, unshowered but doable with a pits and bits wipe down with a baby wipe.  You make the internal statement that you  wish you had the energy or desire to put on makeup and look as if you gave somewhat of a fuck.   But you just don’t. Or you would.

I see you sitting in the corner.  Like Baby from Dirty Dancing, I can see your insecure expression, tightened lips, and fear of where you are at in life.  In the movie, Johnny’s hand stretches out across the table and passes Baby’s parents without even glancing at them.  There wasn’t even a question if Baby would grab it because she yearned for it. Even if her father disowned her. My friend, no one is here to save you, but I am here to be by your side and be your friend.  You see, I’m looking in a mirror and am starting to remember things that I’ve gone through. I’ve forgotten how hard it can be and what my life was like. How I hid it from the ones that love and care about me. The ones that wanted to help.

Many may come by after the baby is born, reach out to see how you’re doing, or even bring a meal or help pick up your house.  But then the visits will stop.  The reach outs and “need anything?” texts will be fewer.  You’re not reaching out either, you don’t want to bother anyone or make anyone notice that you don’t “got this”.  With as much help as your mom has been, you even feel you’re asking too much from her.  You don’t want to be told what to do or how it was done back in the day. You want to figure it out on your own. Where are those mommy instincts they talk about anyways?

You have your baby in the stroller and she’s all cuddled in with a beautiful rose blanket with a satin trim. The special bow that her aunt gave her at the baby shower is around her tiny soft head. Her eyes are closed peacefully as a shade from the stroller is blanketing her from the sun. It’s easy to look at this scene as an outsider and smile for you. New mothers and new babies can stop a conversation and any train of thought. Even with the soft filter and calmness that comes from you, I know this is one of the shortest periods of your day. I hope you’re enjoying it because when you walk in that door of your house, you’re back. It’s not a happy “Honey I’m home!” feeling where you are excited and feel welcomed. Most of the time you dread coming home and going right back to where you were 30 minutes ago. The place you were escaping when you left for your walk.

You don’t know what else to do with her right now. Sitting in your home seems to be the safest and easiest option. It’s winter, it’s cold, gathering the items for the diaper bag, wondering if she’ll need to be fed (AGAIN) and if you’ll get any glares for nursing her, what if she cries, what if she has a diaper blow out, what if you run into someone (remember, you haven’t showered nor have any makeup on), you really don’t feel like talking to anyone, and next thing you know the excuses build up and you just toss in the towel and say “F it!” and sit back down on the couch with her. She’s nursing round the clock anyways so perhaps this is just temporary and you should be staying at home.

Daytime television hasn’t been a part of your life in years. OK, so let’s see what’s on. There are still soap operas on television? The news, nah. There’s always HGTV. Eh, not in the mood to watch entire homes get renovated in less than 6 weeks. You feel inadequate as it is. Oooh, “Golden Girls” has a marathon on Hallmark Channel. Now THAT’S quality television. I’m right there with you and binge watched “Golden Girls” as I sang the theme song as a lullaby to my daughter when she would cry. Because I didn’t know any lullabies other than “Rock a buy baby”. Which is such a morbid song anyways. So why not sing about being a good friend instead?

I see you, I can relate to you, and I want to help you. Actually I want to give you a great big hug and tell you that 5 ½ years from now it will be different. Time will fly in a blink of an eye where you will find yourself sitting and watching a mother in a corner who looks as lost as you feel right now. Remember your feelings and how you can be a true mother and friend. I hope that you can feel like me right now, where you want to throw a party and invite every mom you know. And I hope every gift you see would have a card attached saying “Thank you for being real. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for being a friend.”

Can you tell how much I love the Golden Girls? I think those ladies saved my sanity.

Love,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

How to Make Less Judgment & More Connection

How to Make Less Judgment & More Connection

I was grabbing some deeeelicious avocado toast from my local love, Early Light Café (you seriously need to get Dawn’s avocado toast on her homemade spicy gluten free bread. She tops it with sun-dried tomatoes and you can even add BACON!). I was waiting for my food when I happened to listen in on a women talking to her friend. Call it a weakness or a guilty pleasure but I love listening in on conversations.  I actually learn a lot.   As she’s talking to her friend, I noticed a few things. One, she was doing most of the talking and her friend couldn’t get a word in edge-wise. Two, she was ripping on public schools and Common Core. Three, she was proclaiming her stance on homeschooling and what she’s been doing for her daughter.  It was done in an elitist sort of way, as if it as the only way to learn and it was the best decision a parent could make.  Her daughter was by herself at a kiddie picnic table while she waited for her soft serve ice cream her mom ordered. I see the owner pouring liquid ice cream into her ice cream machine and noticed that of course ice cream wasn’t ready to be served, it was 9:30am. So I sit and put 2 and 2 together and realized something through watching this mother talk and seeing her daughter being served ice cream at 9:30am.  Am I judging her? Nope. Because I’ve let Brooklyn have ice cream at random times too. So it wasn’t that. What was it then?

What I realized was that we moms can throw that side eye way too much, and not even realize that we may think we’ve “got this” in one area but we tend to forget that we don’t in others. Watching this woman talk made me think about times I MYSELF have done this. Proclaiming versus talking about all the amazing things Brooklyn was eating or that she was finally sleeping through the night or watching a toddler having a meltdown and just THINKING in my brain that something must be wrong with the parent. Oh trust me, I’ve had many “come to Jesus” moments where my ass was given a hard kick back down to the earth in order to ground me. Times where I’m finally realizing how perfection is impossible.

I may think I’ve “got this” in one area. Let’s say in the confidence area for Brooklyn. I could sit and exclaim to a new mother or a friend all the things we are doing, all that Brooklyn does, and how amazing she’s been doing. And it is! I should be proud and talk about it with other women. However, I also need to remember that as confident as she appears THAT day, the day before she had a massive meltdown at 4pm because of how exhausted she was from her day. So I may feel I’ve killed it in one area, but there are other areas where I still struggle.

We need to talk and celebrate the successes and share what has worked for us. Damn straight! But let’s also remember the delivery of the message and to humble it out with some funny struggles that will make you more relatable. The mixture of success and failure will not only make you easier to talk to but it will also make you less judgmental towards others. When you mix it up, you become vulnerable and therefore build stronger connections. And when you build stronger connections you learn more and grow to the fullest. You become a happier parent and woman.

Let’s have you try it the next time you’re chatting with another mother. Notice how other mothers talk to YOU and how it makes you feel. How connected you are to them while they are talking and after. Do you want to talk to them again? Do you leave drained or do you leave wanting more? Perfection is impossible, yes, but success can still be celebrated with a balance of imperfect stories and connection.

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Create a Future Leader in Your Kitchen

Create a Future Leader in Your Kitchen

One of my 10 steps in discovering (and creating!) an adventurous eater in your family is Involvement.   Getting the kids involved in meal time has so many doors to open the world of being a leader. It’s not only about them cooking, it goes even further back in how that meal is placed on your table. Giving them the tools to spark that confidence, that might simply be hiding, can not only get them to taste what’s in front of them but also build leadership skills.

When we feel we’re too busy or in a rush to get meals in front of our family, not only is it totally stressful, but we are losing out on important lessons for our children. Thanks to Brooklyn’s Montessori education, I’ve been taught how important life skills are in academics and I have done my best to look at everything I do in my kitchen as a teaching versus a chore. I believe that our life skills foster independence and create leaders in our children. How does this work in the kitchen?

The moment you ask your child to be involved in what is in your kitchen, the teaching begins. Brooklyn helps choose what meals we will be having as a family, creating the grocery list, we shop together, prep and cook. What’s equally important is she helps set the table and clean up after the meal is done. Life skills create a solid human being and as a parent you should never feel guilty teaching your child to contribute as a family member. Does Brooklyn complain at times when I ask her to do something? Of course! She’s a normal 5 year old. We then have to work a bit harder to teach her how important her role is in our family. Even if your child complains, when they feel they are a part of something big, their pride shines and the leader inside them slowly comes out.  So how can your children get involved?

  1.  Create place cards for meals.  The creativity can be so simple at an early age.  They don’t have to cook a full-course meal to be a part of it!
  2.  Use my “Let’s Set the Table!” reusable placemat (you can get at Shop Here!) to make setting the table fun.  Our children’s book, “I Tried It!” has a fun little jingle that Brooklyn says with her cats for them to remember where everything goes.  You can get the book with the same link above!
  3. Grab some recipe cards or books and have your children choose a few dinners that week.  We have our creative Meal Planning Flashcards that you can use with your child to choose foods they want to try, along with creative recipes they can make on the back.  My recipes are SUPER easy and SUPER fast.  And SUPER tasty!  Have them choose a few items they will have in their lunchbox that week too.  100 Days of Real Food has wonderful and convenient suggestions for lunches.  Or follow some of the hundreds of Instagram accounts that give fantastic lunch options that are beyond easy.
  4. Have them find the items on your grocery list when you get to the store.  They will be so proud when they find things.  Brooklyn loves finding her dad’s items and telling him when she gets home that she picked them herself.
  5. Simple prep at home can go for miles.  We have wonderful tools we use in the kitchen that are safe, actually work and are fun.  Sign up to get my “Discovering the Adventurous Eater in Your Child” e-book on my website to see all the tools that work for Brooklyn.

Simple teachings surrounding what makes your family table a positive one, builds a strong foundation for your family. Allowing your child to tell you what they want for dinner that week, how they think the peppers should be cut, showcasing their creativity while helping, and demonstrating how helpful they are to you will create the adult you hope they will be. Someone who knows how to make decisions, help their friends, contribute to something huge, have confidence to voice their opinion, and not be afraid to let their creativity shine.

What ways do you use your kitchen as teaching opportunities? I’d love to hear and learn from you!

Simply Yours,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

Learn About My New Children’s Book, Now Available!

Learn More Here!

Let's Make Meals an ADVENTURE!

Subscribe today for instant access to my brand new eBook, Discovering the Adventurous Eater in Your Child!

You have Successfully Subscribed!