Why I’ve Stopped Reading Most Mom Blogs

>> 10.24.2014

Shortly after I gave birth to Ada, I found myself in this whole new club. I was no longer just a young woman. Nope. I was now a mom. Three letters that -- after that final push -- gave me an entirely new definition of myself and the world around me. In the early nursing days, I took much comfort in reading mommy blogs of all shapes and sizes. Honestly, it was a nice escape from the isolation of having a newborn in the bitter Northeast winter. These blogs were my window to the outside world, and the sun was surely shining out there.

I definitely bought into the whole aspirational aspect of a lot of these blogs. These moms lived in fun, exciting, and relevant places that made my own spot in upstate obscurity seem very small and unimportant. Their littles kids were impeccably dressed and always sent me clicking to some new, expensive boutique to drool over tiny duds. Smiles abounded on their chubby faces that had me wondering what exactly I was doing wrong with my cranky baby.

Maybe if I tried to be more like these moms, my life would fall into place, I mused.


And the thing is, I’m not usually the kind of person to fall into these trappings. My whole life, I’ve sort of done my own thing. Like, you should see how I dressed in high school during the Abercrombie craze. Just think embroidered bell bottoms and vintage Beatles t-shirts. I digress. With this new-mom identity, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I was now responsible for painting this picture of family, but I had no numbers as my guide. For the first time in my life, I felt too tired to forge my own way. Instead, I wanted the happy, shiny life . . . and I wanted it now.

So, I clicked and read and lusted over silly stuff like printed toddler leggings. And every new type of baby carrier on the market, even though I already have two well-funcitoning ones of my own. I grew frustrated when my perfectly fine 135-pound body didn’t squeeze down to its previous, pre-pregnancy size. I bought an Ace + Jig dress on super clearance -- no returns -- because it seemed like what all the moms were wearing these days, and I’ve only actually worn it out once because it fits like a freaking potato sack.

Stupid Saltwaters. I have two pairs.

They’re pretty, but that’s not the point.


Somewhere along the way, either I had enough, felt tired, or just wised up. I like to think the latter. I think my biggest turning point was Ada’s surgery because it gave me a huge dose of perspective. Regardless, the gloss dulled -- big time. The toddler outfits that cost more than my own weekly wardrobe seemed more appalling than appealing (seriously -- there’s no reason to spend BANK on toddler shoes). The countless cutesy + all organic food plate photos went stale (really? your kid eats ALL of that, everyday?). And the whole authenticity of a lot of these lives felt suspect and, worse, steeped in veiled sponsorships.

Slowly, I unsubscribed from most of the blogs, magazines, and Instagram accounts that I felt gave me nothing more than envy or annoyance. If there was no substance behind the glamour, no heart behind the words -- delete! (Some people can strike a great balance of having nice things and being an awesome person. Others, not so much.) I also tossed all the upscale catalogs (Land of Nod, I’m looking at you!) that perpetuated this whole dream world. I mean, it’s hard to completely avoid all of this stuff, but it’s been a liberating exercise to control what I can. To break free (from the storm inside of me).

Sure, there are plenty of moms in my own neighborhood who tote around their Coach diaper bags and spend $$$ on hot yoga and Barre classes to keep their lean physiques. The difference now is that I don’t want to be one of them. I’m content in my comfy thrift store clothes, my self-dyed Henna hair, and my kid’s Target sweater stained with pumpkin puree from this morning’s breakfast.

The premium you pay for the good life -- both in dollars and sanity -- isn’t worth much when you consider it’s not necessary a good life at all. Instead, it’s far too often a life full of a bunch of stuff that won’t matter when all that’s left are the photos in the memory books. I no longer use my kid as my vessel to find self-worth. Strangely enough, the letting go brought much more exuberance to my family and wholeness to my sense of self as a mom.


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Vlog: How Preschool’s Going

>> 10.23.2014

I try not to be entirely flaky with this blogging business -- consistency keeps me going. When it comes to vlogs, though. I can’t get myself in a good rhythm. Usually when I end up having time to take video, I’m a hot mess. Like, seriously seriously. Working from home has its perks, but I definitely take advantage of the dress-down policy . . . to a fault.

So, today I tossed on my Thursday best to drop Ada off at school + my hair was terrible. But I decided to stop making excuses and slapped on a hat. Also: Where we live, well, I guess we get as many cloudy days as they do in the Pacific Northwest. It’s legit like a cave, so this was the best I could do with regard to light.

I’m working on my technical skills.

Without further apologies, here’s a vlog all about how Ada’s doing in preschool. I also introduce you to my new parenting bible, a 1940s edition of the Better Homes and Gardens parenting book. Good stuff. More to come. Thanks -- as always -- for your patience.


Oh, and if you want to follow along, you can subscribe to my YouTube Channel and check out all my previous videos, too. I’m still testing the waters with what you guys might like to see, so if you have video suggestions -- please let me know! The one I did on Dying My Hair With Henna seems to have struck a chord. I’ll try to do an update on that soon.

PS: CONGRATS TO NATASHA. You won the Real Food Prenatal Vitamins #giveaway. I’ll be in touch with you soon about your prize.

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Staying Home: 3 Years Later

>> 10.22.2014

When I made the decision to leave my full-time job to stay home nearly three years ago, it wasn’t something I took lightly. We’re not in the position to be a one-income family by any stretch of the imagination, but we had saved enough backup funds that we could let things slide for a few months while we figured it out. I took an extended leave from work (my union allowed up to 7 months), found a steady freelance gig, and pulled the plug.

I remember in the beginning, it was all newborn craziness. I had never experienced tiny babyhood before, and I felt overwhelmed with the new responsibilities. Diapers, breastfeeding, caring for someone besides just myself, etc. After a while, though, I had this surge of “what am I going to DO with myself?” that set in when Ada was around 3 months old. She didn’t move a lot during the day. She still spent a good chunk sleeping and then nursing, repeat.

I was used to being needed in the real world and -- though I was certainly needed at home -- it was a rough transition to find equal value. I was used to interacting with adults and now I spent my days talking a lot . . . but with little response aside from a giggle or goo-goo. I was used to my to-do lists five miles long and an inbox bursting at its virtual seams (and I didn’t miss that at all, but it helped to validate my existence). Committee work. Countless meetings. Deadlines. You know, being a legit adult who contributes to society, at least by the more traditional definition.

Had I made the right choice?


First of all, I felt fortunate to have a choice at all. But this isn’t to say that dropping out of the FT working world was easy or automatic. It took years of thinking and planning. It took creative budgeting and countless Excel spreadsheets with different scenarios. Sacrifices like not taking vacations or buying whatever we want or even need. Driving old cars. Leaning our grocery budget as much as humanly possible. Living generally with less. Over time, it's become our new normal, but I can’t say I don’t miss more mindless spending, however impulsive + irresponsible it can be.

The thing is, whether you work from home or stay at home or otherwise, I’m not convinced it’s easy to feel one hundred percent fulfilled. Not necessarily from within, because after years in this stint, I truly feel this is where I am meant to be. I’m happy. I’m finding balance. I’m doing well both professionally and personally. However, what gives fulfillment is so very personal and subjective. Yeah. It’s just the little things that pile up and bug the heck out of me. For example, I was recently chatting with a woman I’ve known for years but hadn’t seen in quite a while. She asked me what I do nowadays, and I said that I stay at home with Ada and work around 20-30 hours a week as a freelance writer.

Her response was a surprised expression and: “Oh, I didn’t realize you did anything!”

Wow.
Thank you.

My freelance work aside, isn’t staying at home with children doing something?

I’m not trying to add another fervent piece to the flooded at-home mom versus working mom debate, but seriously. Comments like this one hurt and are honestly ignorant. They jolt that internal peace I have with my decision at its core. WAHMs don’t get a lot of support when it comes to understanding what we do either. There are all different ways to do it, but when I tell people I work at home, they don’t know what that means. Or they immediately assume I host purse parties for extra spending money on things for myself (like pedicures, and I’ve had but one of those in the last three years). Who cares if I did? I mean, I think most of us are at least doing what we feel is good in our unique situations.

I could go on about this for days, so I’ll get back to the topic at hand.

Over the years, my role as a SAHM has morphed with each new stage. Now that Ada is in preschool a couple mornings a week (and soon to be three mornings -- excited about her school’s new offering!), I have more time and have chosen to expand my workload. When I have another child to care for, I’m sure it’ll change all over again. It’s this weird amorphous way of living . . . but it’s all I know anymore. So, three years later I’m feeling more confident in my decision to stay at home and get work where I can. I can’t guarantee I’ll always do what I’m doing now, but it’s what feels best at this time.

I sort of fell off track with writing about this stuff in the last year when my life got more hospital focused. But I think I’ll begin again with some more thoughts on what it’s like to stay home, how we make it work financially, and anything else you guys are interested in.

Let me know!

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