This is How WE Do It!

This is How WE Do It!

Montell Jordan’s “This is how we dooooo it!” song rings in my mind as I think about this topic of advice. From the moment you announce you’re pregnant, the advice & opinions come flooding in to a level where it can feel drowning. You may also have some unnecessary emotions as a result.

“I don’t want to seem unappreciative.” Here is my take, you are appreciative or you wouldn’t be questioning yourself.

“What if I don’t agree? How do I respond without hurting her feelings?” Guess what? You won’t be rude because you’re already being so considerate thinking about NOT hurting her feelings. Kindly say “Thanks so much for your advice! I’ll definitely think about that.” She will never know if you took her advice or not. If she asks, just politely tell her it didn’t quite work but you finally found something that did. And thank her for being so helpful. Just because you don’t agree with her advice, or it didn’t work, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. If that person makes a big deal about it or challenges you, you can politely say, “Thanks again for being concerned. I’m just happy we figured out something that worked.” No drawn out answers or explanations are needed. The more words that come out of your mouth, the deeper you fall into that hole.

“OMG, her response was so harsh! She’s making me feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Or that what I believe in is wrong. Wait, is she right?” This emotion goes right with my love/hate with mommy Facebook groups. I’ve loved them for many reasons and the connections I’ve found through them. There’s been some awesome advice that has worked for me along with brilliant mothers who kindly share tips that have worked for them. The key here is the FILTER that you need to bring in your backpack when it comes to all the advice you’ll receive. I don’t necessarily agree with banning or leaving social media in its entirety. You don’t have to do that if the truth in you is you really don’t want to leave it. If you decide to stay, dabble, and enjoy the positives of social media, then you must create your own unique filter. Recognize the realities of mommy Facebook groups or comments you may receive from a post you put on your personal page. Realize that comments and opinions come from their own story, challenges, and what has happened in their life to react the way they did. Remember that they don’t know you in any way where their response has nothing to do with you as a mother. In my experience, my true friends on social media were never the problem with social media. However, I wasn’t being 100% honest on my personal page. Most of my questions about mommyhood and what confused me about Brooklyn were within the walls of closed mommy Facebook groups. And there my friends, is where it can be a wild jungle. The big girl pants need to be put on, the shield is raised, and women prep their defense strategies. When you’re a newbie to this, it can be surprisingly harsh and unbelievable. How grown women can all be in this big boat of motherhood but so quick to throw someone off the ship. Words can be judgmental, responses can get off subject, side arguments can be created, and you as a mother, the person asking for help, can walk away feeling more defeated than confident. On the other side of the coin, I have had pretty awesome advice from women in that same thread that I still treasure, and share, today. I had to delete the comments that were out of line or that created negative energy inside me. Notifications on posts I gave advice on were turned off after I finished my comment to the mother asking for help. It’s so easy to scroll and consume information on social media. A mommy Facebook group can be addictive scrolling and suck you into the dramatic responses that are attached to the post from a mom just asking for some TLC. I also ended up leaving many of the groups and focused on a couple that were positive for me and were a great resource of help, not “one ups”, competitive responses, or “know it all” moments.

Outside of your social media accounts, your computer also holds the power of Google. I can’t tell you how many late nights I had with a crying baby, leaking boobs, spraying boobs, weird poop, odd noises coming from her, when to feed her, how many times she should pee, poop, is she spitting up too much, why does she have this odd rash, what’s that smell, when to introduce solids, how to get her to sleep, why is she crying, why am I CRYING, and on and on and on. Yes, her doctor told me many things. My lactation consultant at the hospital told me things. My breastfeeding class told me. The books I read before she was born told me. But I forgot. You see, when I’m in survival mode, I panic. When I panic, I forget. That pairs well with my just over-analyzing things as well. Two waves that cause me to question everything and deflate my confidence as a mother. I also had Brooklyn during the waves of baby apps. Recently I deleted some of the apps and ended up looking at some of the data they recorded for me. What kind of data you ask? Well what else does a baby do but poop, pee, eat, and sleep? Yes, they also cry and mine cried a LOT those first few months. I never did find an app to collect crying data, which is a blessing. What I didn’t realize, or pay attention to, is Brooklyn was a baby in an unpredictable time. I couldn’t control when she was going to pee, poo, sleep or be hungry and that drove me crazy to not be in control. Instead of just letting her be a baby, realize many things were out of my control, and allowing my brain to open up to the signs she gave me… I studied, analyzed, researched, asked, questioned, logged, obsessed and it put me in this beast mode. Don’t get me wrong, doing your own research is important along with that mommy compass. But what I was missing was creating quality research, in less time, and how I used that research. I just kept collecting information. Thinking if I do another search or read another article, that some magic fairy would come out and say “THIS is the advice that will work for you!”

There are also loved ones around you that will tell you “how it’s done”. A new mom is treated as if she is clueless, too sleep deprived to realize, and needs saving. I also believe there are people out there that simply just love to tell you what to do. Prove what they know. I’m an open-armed mama with advice from friends & family but I just need the message to be right for me to allow it inside me. Perhaps a “You will figure out what’s best for you. When I had (baby), I tried X and Y where X just seemed to work best for him. Know I’m here if you want to bounce ideas off of me.” I get that most new moms won’t go out and actively ask for help, I’m guilty of being that mom. Where friends and family just want to help and give you something to put on the bookshelf. Take it and put it on the bookshelf. It’s like reading a book. There are pages of words. Thousands of sentences. Pieces of the book that will speak to you and some that you aren’t quite a fan of. You still read the entire book. Yes, some skimming may be involved but you still consume it. It’s OK if you aren’t a raving fan of it but you can always learn from what you’ve read.

This goes with any information that you hear or read the moment you find out you’re pregnant until the end of time. Listen to it. You never know if you’ll pick out a gem from that big rock. No piece of advice or information is ever a waste of time. If anything it also helps you figure out what DOESN’T resonate or work for you as well as what may. There will be a lot of people that want to tell you “This is how WE do it” and I had to figure out a way to not be consumed or overwhelmed with all the options. I needed to find out on my own that I didn’t need to read EVERY baby book, join EVERY mommy Facebook group, use 65 different search words to find an answer on Google, listen to 45 different mommy podcasts, or ask every friend and family member for advice. I not only had to condense the resources and use only a few, but I also had to trust that inner voice on what spoke to me. Many times I truly knew what to do, I was just clouded with noise. I didn’t know how to politely say “Thanks so much for your advice” and know that person will never know if it worked for me or not. I stopped worrying about hurting someone’s feelings just because I didn’t agree with what they were telling me. I had to gain confidence in myself and find the strong connections that my heart told me to reach out to when I needed help. This takes time; it’s not an instant thing. Hopefully what I am telling you will at least get you started.

Sincerely,

Michelle Mansfield Blog

RIP The Life I Once Had: The Mourning Period

I’ve always been attached and connected to things that others may say goodbye to in an easier way. I felt bad if a stuffed animal wasn’t played with enough, I am ultra-nostalgic about trips, college, and apartments I’ve lived in. I reminisce about times in my life that others may not even remember or prefer to let go. Not that I live in the past or feel I live like Billy Hicks in “St. Elmo’s Fire”, but I just value & appreciate certain things more than others. No right or wrong in this. It’s very personal. Listen, there’s no way I want to go back, but there are times I miss time periods and experiences.

One time period that I had a hard time saying goodbye to was the 15 years before I had my daughter. One thing that I realize is I married later than most of my friends, and had my daughter even later. I had a bit more time to get a little too comfortable in the “me time” world. Living in the city, on my own, working on my career, and doing what I wanted, when I wanted. There was nobody to answer to but me, and technically my boss. Relaxing on the couch on a Sunday watching movies or “Sex & The City”. Traveling with girlfriends. Staying out late, and sleeping in later. Grabbing coffee on a Saturday and reading the paper… alone. Taking a walk on the shore of Lake Michigan on a whim. Bringing a book on that walk, stopping to sit in the grass, and actually read without interruptions. Playing music so loudly your neighbor knocks on the wall. Working out and not having to arrange childcare. TGIF actually meant something. All this sounds a bit self-centered but this was the time in my life when I could be with NO GUILT. This was the time I didn’t have to check with my husband to see if it was “OK” for me to meet up with girlfriends for a drink (never has my husband said “no” btw). I didn’t have to rush home, feel guilty for being gone too long, feel selfish for leaving her for the weekend with my husband or parents, or check in to make sure she was doing OK.

Listen, it’s perfectly normal and SANE to tell people that you LOVED that time in your life. It’s OK to tell people that you MISS it at times. Be proud that you had an amazing time before you had a baby. Whatever you accomplished, the memories you built, the laughs, culture, exposure, growth, strength, and creativity you created should all be CHERISHED. These years have shaped you into a strong woman and hopefully confidence to match. The years & experiences before you became a mother have all prepared you for the mother you are meant to be.

Let’s make you feel even better with something that took me years to believe. It’s absolutely healthy to admit that you wish you had some of those things back. Maybe you don’t want all of them back, but you can say it out loud and remember that you should never feel guilty for admitting it. There are some roadblocks that you’ll need to get through with this though. Some may tell you that you chose this new life, they may even say “Well, you had 9 months to prepare for this”, tell you that being a mom is the best part of life, that you should be grateful, how they never felt the way you did, they don’t even think about their life before baby (I mean, unless you have amnesia or no fun before baby came, I don’t understand how this could even happen), they are even happier now (which is definitely awesome but don’t let this make you feel YOU need to feel this way), they love being a mother (and you don’t?), and all the other BS that is simply their opinion. That’s it, they are only opinions. They are their experiences, interpretations, meanings, and stories that literally have nothing to do with your life up to this point and beyond. I had to learn and try really hard to filter the advice and comments I would get on a daily basis. There is definitely room in my head space for advice, and I’ve taken some awesome tips and hacks with me along the journey, but I had to filter the ones that didn’t fit my life or my family’s needs. There’s nothing wrong with politely saying “Thank you for sharing your opinion” and not doing anything with the advice. They’ll never know.

So my journey to motherhood probably started the moment my best friend and her husband said to me “We have someone we want to set you up with.” I had been single for a couple years after a very long-term relationship and they had never attempted to set me up with anyone during this time, which intrigued me. Why now? “So, who is this guy? Please don’t tell me it’s one of your friends from high school.” We all grew up together, my friend & her husband are high school sweethearts, and I immediately thought of guys we went to high school with. “No, it’s no one you know,” as he laughed and knew where I was going with that. “So how do I not know who this guy is? Is he one of your secret suburban friends?”

Getting married: He was divorced; I was open to it because honestly, divorce was the LEAST of my worries after all the dating stories I had. They told me he had 2 children. I actually wasn’t nervous about that at all and thought it was a huge positive that he was an active dad. Then they told me he lived in the far western suburb that they lived in. NOPE. “Why not?!” they asked me. “How and when am I going to see this guy when I have to pack a weekend bag to visit you two?” I replied. I didn’t have a car, I worked long hours, traveled for work, and loved living in the city. I was one of those women that proudly exclaimed she was never leaving the city and will be raising my family in the city. No negotiations. Note: Never exclaim you’re going to do something and never say the word “never”. Most of the time you bite your tongue and it’s actually harder to adjust to the change. Instead, I am trying to still have my beliefs and stance but also tell myself that I don’t know what the universe has in store for me or where I’ll be in 10 years with what I want. So to enjoy what I’m doing in the present but to also be open to things changing.

No one can tell you how life truly feels after your baby is born. Nor can you anticipate what it will be when you find out you’re finally pregnant and during your pregnancy. There are movies, television shows, reality shows, books, and even some funny stories from friends and family, but the true reality is different for every mother. We all have our own interpretations, reactions, feelings, chemical makeup, and history to make our experience our own. I won’t say that my friend’s stories, mother’s advice, or a paragraph in one of the 30 “what to expect” baby books didn’t influence me in some way. My husband had already raised 2 grown children and he had some incredible tips and tricks that had me saying “How did you know that?” His response was always “Well, I just remember from when the kids were babies.” See, the advice, tips and tricks I was OK with… if they worked! What wasn’t talked about was how I would actually feel about my new role as a mother. I was never warned that on my way home from getting diapers at Buy Buy Baby that I would be getting texts from my husband saying “She’s hungry”. Then “She’s starting to cry.” Then “She’s crying really hard.” I’d be panicking in the car, because I can’t get there any faster than I am, and would say out loud “What have I done?”

Oh yes I had huge regrets about having a baby. There were so many changes going on. Too many changes. Not only was my body torn up, burning, squirting, sore, floppy, and just exhausted ALL the damn time but I had let go of so many things.

My career. I was a power suit wearing, control top pantyhose pulling, on an airplane, presenting in front of dozens, wheelin’ and dealin’, making her goals and some pretty nice dough, wining and dining, clicking down Michigan Avenue in her heels kind of woman. What was I now? Well, I was now a waking up every hour, spraying my crotch so it wouldn’t burn, shoving nursing pads in my ugly nursing bra, wearing the same pajamas for 3 days, staring at my baby because I couldn’t figure out why she was crying, social media skimming, asking Dr. Google everything, wondering if I would ever feel good about my body, having conversations about sore nipples, out of any sort of routine, and just plain insecure and confused about the woman I just became and who I may change into.

 

Even with the visits and texts asking how things were and congratulating us, I was so lonely at the same time. My water cooler conversations at work, lunch dates, drinks after work, dinners with clients, meeting friends out for cocktails, weekend trips, vacations with my husband, concerts, plays, errands with no rush to get home, reading in the morning without looking at a baby monitor, and just doing things when I wanted to do them versus fitting them in and panicking about returning home. I honestly felt these things defined me and I was lost knowing that I would never do most of those again. At least not for a long time. There was no definition of time when it came to doing the things I loved again. It felt that these things would never be a part of my life and that I would have to create an entirely different person with this new role I had.

When I recently surveyed moms on the challenges of letting go of one life for another, I received some very interesting responses. One that stood out was a mom telling me that I should be happy about being a mother, that a career can’t make you happy, and I should be celebrating where I am today. This was inside one of those oh-so-lovely mommy Facebook groups where you get this life-changing advice from someone that has never even met you or knows your full story. We ask for it, so we need to expect that anything can be said and usually is. I responded to her comment, very politely of course, with defending my feelings along with the many other moms that expressed how hard it was to let go of their past life. Maybe not everyone feels this way and that’s the beauty of everyone having their own story. Perhaps this mom that responded hated her job or didn’t really have a life she missed and the most important thing to her was becoming a mother? I definitely can understand that. For me, and many on this Facebook thread, there was definitely huge change and a mourning period. To acknowledge this, especially while you’re experiencing it, is so important for your happiness. I pushed it aside and I truly believe it added to the depression I was already experiencing.

Based on this mother’s comment, it goes to prove that the outside is telling us we SHOULD be grateful and happy to be mothers. Who said we weren’t is my response? These outside voices, whether they come from your mother, friend, colleague or a social media post, need to be blocked from entering your brain. Sitting in your spot, finding those feelings, acknowledging them, and talking to them with someone you trust, is what will fuel your soul to figure out how these changes can fit into your life. Never push them under the rug and just because one person tells you she didn’t feel that way, that doesn’t mean your feelings aren’t real. They exist and are alive and you need to take care of them. Your career is an important part of your life. Your travels with friends is an important part of your life. Your lazy Sundays on the couch with zero interruptions are a wonderful part of your life. What’s awesome is you’ll get these things back eventually. Because you already had them, you know how to get to them once things die down a bit. It’s perfectly OK to put some activities on a bookshelf while you focus on the human you are raising. You’re not saying goodbye, you’re simply saying “Until the next time, my friend.”

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

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