Motherhood: It's Okay To Be Good At Other Things

Thursday, October 29, 2015

"I'm not good at this," I thought to myself as I gripped the steering wheel, cringing, and biting my tongue from yelling at my daughter in the back seat.

"I'm good at many things.  But, I am not good at motherhood.  This sucks."

me. tired. and my beauties.
Yes, even I suffer from the dreaded cloud of total insecurity when it comes to parenting.  Me, the gal who has her Masters in "relationships", who's written countless articles on what it means to be a mama, who wears the title "Parenting Expert" granted from and of course has the blissful Facebook and Instagram photos to prove how seamless life can look from the outside.  Aren't I supposed to know what I'm doing???

Ever feel super crummy like everyone else has it all together and your parenting world is spinning out of control?  Me too.   

The day had started off so well.  I got Matilda off to school on time.  Daphne and I made actual breakfast together (eggs and everything) and sat and read storybooks until my vision blurred.  I suggested we go to the library for some free fun, and that's when the day started to crumble.

The library was closed.  I called around and find out every library in a 15 mile radius was closed. The baby started crying. Daphne was whining and disappointed. I fumbled for change in my purse as I suggested we go ease our strife with a drink from Sonic.  She was thrilled, until we got there, and as soon as I handed her the grape slushie she declared she didn't want it, and her whining turned to grouchiness so fierce that even Oscar would have been ashamed.

By the time I got home, I was covered in grape slushie, spit-up, and a whole lot of frustration.  I put my kid in her room, threw her some pop-tarts, hit the play button on the DVD player and walked out.  We needed a moment apart, and I found myself huddled on the couch taking deep breaths and once again bewildered at the fact that someone so small and sweet can rouse me into such a frenzy that I want to punch a hole in the wall!

Children are demanding, irrational, LOUD, unpredictable little humans whose selective hearing and sporadic obedience is enough to bring any adult to their knees.  They drive me crazy.  They wear me out. And yes, I love them with the depth of love that is greater than my life and stronger than a hundred horses...but, man, it can be rough some days.

Can I get an AMEN?

This week I've talked to at least three other moms who did stupid things just like me, who got down on herself, who felt all alone in the guilt that we should have done better, who question whether they are truly the best person for the job and get to wear this insane title called Mom.

We are all surviving this parenthood thing, shoving our guilt out of the way most of the time to just get the next task done.  It's hard and it can strangle your spirit if you let it.  But, this guilt is full of lies and I'm determined to steer this ship towards honest and calm harbors.

Amidst my anger and frustration, a small voice echoed inside me.  "You know it's okay to be good at other things too, right?"  Hmm.  I hadn't thought much about it.  But, if this was any other job, I'd be able to shake off the terrible moment of the day and move on to a task I was better at.

Reality is, we are going to be terrible at this mom-thing sometimes.  We have ugly moments and frustrating times, just like any other facet of our life.  And sometimes it's okay to cry and be good at something else in that moment.  It's okay.  I promise.  Your kid won't disown you.

I can do many things well.  We all can.  Truly. Those other parts of us are still alive and well even if we don't exercise those muscles every day.  They shape us into the kind of parents we are and sometimes we have to go out of our way to stir them up and make use of them.

Nothing else in life is 24/7 like parenthood, we're just going to be bad at it more often than probably anything else.  That's just the truth (and simple math). Those weak moments?  Those pop-tarts-for-lunch-watch-your-dvd kind of days?  They are going to happen and they happen to everyone.

Motherhood is not what you do.  It's who you are.  So yeah, I'm gonna do some stupid things now and then and I'm gonna do the wrong thing at times, sure...but, who I am?  Who I am is far going to exceed in the race of filling my kids up with the right stuff.

Who I am is greater than just the sum of my parts - the writer, the wife, the cook, the laundry lady, the maid, the gal who loves Jesus and needs Him every day...they all add up to an honest person my kids get to interact with on a daily basis, and with the grace of God I am more than I could ever have been if I tried to do this thing all by myself.  Parenthood is an act of faith, no doubt.

We're gonna make it, mamas.  You are good.  You are good at many things.  You are a good mama, even when you are more normal than you'd like to be. You are not alone.

The Three Words I Never Thought I'd Say

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I know they say to never say never, but I really never thought I'd be saying these next three words:

I miss school.

I know, I know, I know.  It's ridiculous.  I'm only out of school for a couple months and instead of reveling in the fact that I'm free of homework, don't have to read hundreds of pages, or trying to shuffle my schedule to take part in a group project, I'm kinda sorta sad that I don't have class.

This is what you call transition.

I was just getting used to the fact of being labeled "student" again, and now I'm not. There I was, constantly under the burden of learning and engaging and regurgitating information, formulating ways to apply it in personal and professional settings, looking for approval from peers, supervisors, and the daunting grades that would post on my student profile, and suddenly I'm back to the "real world" with no scale for knowing exactly how I'm doing.  Whew.  

I gotta confess:  I loved it.  

There's no grading system for motherhood or extra credit for laundry.  There's no supervisor patting me on the back for staying up late with a kid who is throwing up or defrosting dinner on time.  It was nice to have an area of my life that was so entirely structured.

I liked knowing what was expected of me (syllabus), I liked engaging in deep conversations over topics I'm passionate about (classmates), I liked receiving praise for hard work I poured into projects that took time and energy (grades), and I liked gaining the encouragement from those who are far more advanced in the field than I am (professors).  Grad school was a wonderful little bubble for me to travel to and live in for a short time, and like most things in life - it passed by all too quickly.

What transitions are you experiencing lately?

Transitions have a way of making us appreciate the past.  Every milestone I meet in life comes with both grief and celebration, leaving me with that pit in my stomach that both longs for an encore of what has been and the anticipation of what is to come.

Just because you want something to happen doesn't mean you're going to like it all the time.

That's the grand illusion of transition.  We expect that if we have been waiting and wanting something to happen that when it does, we should only ever be grateful and thrilled that it did.  

But, too often I forget that honest feelings don't void gratitude.

Maybe you're not just out of grad school and missing the camaraderie of the classroom...but, perhaps you can relate to one of these:

When you get married, you miss being single.
When you break up with someone, you miss being a couple.
When you have a baby, you miss life before children.
When you send your kid to school, you miss them needing you all day.
When you start a new job, you miss the freedom of familiarity.
When you move away from home, you miss your family.

You get it.  Transitions in life aren't easy, even when you welcome them with open arms.  As a new mother with a new degree and a husband with a new job, I know I'm feeling transition in multiple areas of my life right now.  I'm so grateful we have an unchanging God who always knows which direction is up!
James 1:17 (NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Create for a Cause: Why You Should Start Crafting it Forward

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Love crafting?  Love kids?  Then you are going to fall in love with Crafting it Forward, a new organization that delivers happiness in a box and helps you spread love to others one simple craft at a time.

Save with pardymama and start spreading the love!
Email and give CODE: $10off/PARDYMAMA to save today!!!

Crafting it Forward delivers new boxes of super fantastic, DIY craft supplies straight to your doorstep. You make the craft with your kiddos and as stated on the Crafting it Forward website:  "memories are made, creativity is cultivated, and love is spread...because once the craft is enjoyed, it's passed on to a children’s hospital or  senior center to be enjoyed all over again. Together, we are crafting with purpose."

My oldest two daughters (ages 5 and 4) were super excited to get our Crafting it Forward box.  We had a rainy afternoon to chill inside, and this activity filled the afternoon with excitement and creativity.

I'm not a "crafter".  I can't stress enough how uncoordinated I am when it comes to creating with my hands.  You might be rolling your eyes at me, but I assure you that my creativity hits its limit with writing.  I was relieved to see that this box of DIY fun came with simple instructions even I could follow with no problem!

To be honest, I was a little concerned that my girls might be upset to "repackage" the craft they just created.  I didn't want them to think that I didn't value it, or that it wasn't worth keeping.  But, when I explained that it was headed to another place to help brighten someone else's day, they were entirely on board.  Not only was the craft a lesson in creativity, but it was an opportunity to teach my girls about generosity and service.

Ready to Craft it Forward???  A subscription would make a wonderful Christmas gift for your child or a young family you know.  You can choose to subscribe to the crafting box each month, and you can also sponsor a child with illness to receive a crafting box to enjoy for himself or herself.

Save with pardymama and start spreading the love!
Email and give CODE: $10off/PARDYMAMA to save today!!!

Check out their website and share the link with a friend today.  Together we can start putting smiles on the faces of others far and wide!

Breastfeeding: What I Wish I Knew

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Breastfeeding is awesome...when it's going smoothly.

But for many women, breastfeeding is a total enigma right up until they nearly give up.  It's weird, daunting, wonderful, and rarely without challenges.  While I'm here to sing the praises of nursing your infant, I can also tell you that it's TOTALLY OKAY to get freaked out by this "natural" part of motherhood.

I'm blessed to be successfully breastfeeding for the third time, and we're well into a rhythm of pumping and nursing.  But, even with lactation classes, friends' and sisters' wisdom from their experiences, and reading up on "what to expect"...there were still things I didn't discover about breastfeeding until I did it myself.

Here are five things about breastfeeding that I didn't have a clue about until I did it:

1.  Hurt so good.

I had heard that "it doesn't hurt if you're doing it right", which is incredibly discouraging and very misleading.  While that is generally true for breastfeeding regularly and consistently - it is not necessarily true for the first couple weeks!

Reality is, your body has been through hormone-mania and you thought the pain portion was over since labor ended, right?  Your nipples are not used to being exposed to air and getting constantly tugged at, so yeah - it's gonna hurt.  Many women opt to use nipple shields in the first few weeks to help minimize the pain while still breaking in the skin of the nipple.  (A nipple shield is a malleable plastic guard that covers the nipple while still allowing milk to pass through when nursing.)

I bit the bullet and was able to tough my way through it (granted, I was still on pain killers from my c-section) but I won't sugarcoat it - my eyes would well up with tears the first week or so every time the baby latched on.

Two things that helped:  1. Gel packs (specifically made for breastfeeding by Lansinoh) that you keep in the fridge and place on the nipple after feeding, and 2. Nipple cream/butter/balm.  I would recommend "Boob ease", Lansinoh's lanolin, or Earth Mama Angel Baby's nipple butter.  Be liberal!  And know that the BEST remedy for breastfeeding pain is to KEEP will get easier.

2. Milk ducts in a row.

Up until I actually saw it coming out of my own breast, I had no idea that there were like a dozen little holes in the nipple that expressed milk.  I guess I had figured my breast would mimic a baby bottle and therefore only have one tiny outlet for milk.  Not the case!

These teensy little pinholes in the tip of your nipple are each individual milk ducts that deliver nutrition to your infant.  While I had heard the term "milk duct" I didn't understand that there are several in each nipple and any one of them could get clogged for various reasons.

A clogged duct is not uncommon, and usually solved by nursing consistently, but if you see a duct get swollen or red or crusty, be sure and ask your doctor or lactation consultant before it worsens.  Best to keep all your ducts in a row! (Sorry, I couldn't help myself.)

3. Let Down for what?

The term "let down" was a huge mystery to me.  I thought that it basically meant when the baby latched on, my breasts would let the milk out, end of story.  Wellll, turns out depending on your milk production, "let down" can happen just about any time.

You will especially experience let down if you either 1. Hear your baby cry, 2. Haven't fed your baby in a while, or 3. Forgot to wear nursing pads, are wearing a white shirt, have an important meeting with a male coworker, and forgot to bring a sweater!

Let down basically means you are filling up with milk right then and there and unless you feed immediately, you will leak.  It can be a sudden, tingly sensation in your breasts, and if you are ready to nurse then you will feel relief.  But, if you are filling up with milk at an inopportune moment, it can be quite uncomfortable and you will have to awkwardly "hug" your breasts by crossing your arms and applying some pressure that can help suppress the flow until it stops.

4.  All or Nothing

This is pretty straight forward, but also really important.  I had no idea that when one breast was expressing milk the other would too!  Some women don't have this issue, and if the milk supply is somewhat low it can rarely happen.  But, regardless of production, you have no control over letting the milk out or not.

When the baby is nursing on one side, your body just knows to let the milk out, but if you experience let down while nursing (which is what generally happens each time) then your other breast will start expressing milk even if your baby isn't latched on to that side.  In other words, it's all or nothing.  Either both breasts are ready to go, or neither are.  Of course, if you have emptied out one side by either pumping or nursing, then your other side is still full and needing to release milk somewhat soon.

5.  Made to Order

Did you know your milk is made exactly and exclusively for your baby?  Your body takes in information from the baby's saliva every time they nurse, then specifically churns out the nutrients the baby's body needs.  Crazy, right?!  When I learned this, it surpassed all my "I-know-breast-is-best" knowledge and just blew my mind how God had created my body for this experience.

I mean, we all know that breastfeeding is free, healthy, builds immunity, and can even boost infant intelligence, but in a recent study reviewed in an article by Science News, now there is evidence showing that these nutrients are perfectly designed just for your infant:
Part of the immunity that breast milk imparts, it seems, may depend in part on a mixture of milk and baby saliva flowing upstream. This backwash may actually cause a mother’s body to create made-to-order immune factors that are delivered back to the baby in milk, some scientists think.  Full Article HERE.

I want to encourage every new mama to try out breastfeeding, but please hear me out that I'm well aware there are times and circumstances that this isn't an ideal option for everyone.  Absolutely ONLY YOU know what is best for your baby (though I hope you get the input and support of friends, doctors and lactation consultants if necessary).  But, if you choose to hop on the breastfeeding train - welcome!

I hope these tips have shed some light on a superpower you didn't know you necessarily had.  After all, a nursing cover is just a superhero cape worn in front! 

C-Sections Are Easy...and Other Lies

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I've heard it once, I've heard it too many times..."C-sections are the easy way out."

original photo by Mathieu Photography of Daphne's birth

Now, I'm not one to get a megaphone and stand on a soapbox, but there are times and places when the record needs to be set straight and that is one of those comments I just can't bite my tongue if I hear it.

I've had three c-sections now (two unplanned, one scheduled) and I'm here to pull back the curtain on the topic and debunk some common myths about cesarean sections once and for all.

Since most women don't plan for a c-section, many are fearful and undereducated when the time comes to get one if the need arises.  With nearly a third of all births ending in surgery today, it still shocks me how much is left unknown to the mother prior to entering the OR.  Since it's so rarely anticipated, many mothers-to-be don't feel the need to understand what might happen if they need a c-section, often leading to disappointment and fear if their birth plan leads down that road.

If you are pregnant, I hope this list not only stirs up some good questions for you to consider, but I hope it helps shed some light on a very confusing topic that can feel too controversial to ask questions about (after all, if you are asking questions about c-sections, how serious can you be about planning a natural, drug-free birth?  Right?  Rubbish.)

Here we go.

1.  C-sections are the easy way out.

Let me dispel this myth in one sentence:  There is no easy way to get a human body out of a human body. 

I labored for 20 hours before my first c-section and it didn't make me any more of a hero than when I waited patiently for "my turn" this last birth.  They don't install a zipper to easily access the baby the next time - so, even if you've had a cesarean in the past and know what to expect, there is still a new scar and a long recovery to regain feeling and control of those stomach muscles that have just been cut through.

While it might take a shorter amount of time to get the baby out, a c-section (usually) has a much longer recovery with different hurdles to overcome than a vaginal delivery.  (Note, I didn't say harder, just different - every birth and every woman is different!)  But, I will tell you that having your body cut in half to remove a human is not easier than pushing a St. Bernard through a pinhole.  Neither are short of a miracle.

2.  You can't do skin-to-skin.

False.  I was the first person to hold my baby girl as soon as she was safely out of my body.  The doctor placed her directly on my bare chest and I immediately got to snuggle her up since my hands were free to move (even if I did have an IV in and a pulse monitor on my finger).

With my first two c-sections, my husband got to do skin-to-skin with the babies before I did.  The hospital we were at only offered it like that and we didn't know to ask any different at the time.  But, as I learned more, I knew to ask about it this last birth and was able to experience the "first hold" for myself (magic!)

Skin-to-skin is beautiful and healthy, and I would absolutely encourage it regardless of your birth plan.

3.  You don't bleed as much.

Sorry to say, this is not so.  In fact, during the c-section you lose much more blood than in a vaginal delivery.  But, many women believe that's where the bleeding stops - in the OR.  False.

While the placenta is removed in the surgery, there is still plenty of blood and tissue that needs to be shed after the birth.  Just as in a vaginal delivery, this makes its way out naturally and blesses you (ha) with a period that can last 6-8 weeks after the birth.  So, buy those Hummer-size pads for overnight protection and stock up - you're gonna need them no matter how this baby comes out.

4.  Resuming sex will be easy.

This is another myth that many women aren't asking enough questions about.  Look, clearly you were sexually active prior to the pregnancy, so why are you shy about asking your doctor about resuming sex after you've been given the green light (around 6 weeks, same as with a vaginal delivery).  Truth be told, your body has been through trauma so any activity (whether walking, kayaking, or having sex) is going to feel different at first.

Your hormones have crashed after birth and might be going haywire (which could cause night sweats, vaginal dryness, and other uncomfortable sensations) and if you are breastfeeding your skin is going to be super dry.  All this to say, tread lightly and patiently.

Your sex life will resume, but not without its setbacks.  Talk to your husband about your physical limitations and set your expectations accordingly.  Be liberal with lubrication, take a deep breath, and know that the more honest you are up front, the easier it will be to help get your intimacy back on track.  However painful it may be in the beginning, rest assured that your body is still healing and this frustrating phase is only temporary.

5.  C-sections aren't natural.

Name me one thing that is natural about experiencing a miracle?  The myth isn't that c-sections are natural, the myth is that childbirth in any form is.

By definition, a miracle is supernatural.  True, your body can't inform itself to be prepared for surgery.  No, labor may not precede every birth.  But, when you hold a new creature in your arms for the first time and witness their first breath and cries and feel your heart melt at the sight of them, there is no denying that all the preparation in the universe couldn't have come close to readying you for this moment.

No miracle is natural, so the shock and exhilaration of being part of one is going to feel extraordinary regardless of the means it took to experience it.

No doubt there is a lot of confusing information about childbirth floating around the internet.  It can be hard to wade through the fact and fiction and prepare yourself for what to really expect.  The best thing I can tell you is to try and learn from others' stories and do your best to learn the facts of multiple scenarios.  While a c-section might be the last thing on your mind, it also might be necessary when the time comes and the more information you are armed with up front, the less scary or disappointing it can be.

Don't let the joy of a miracle be stolen by the fear of the unknown.  Have more questions about c-sections?  Comment below or hit me up at

Cozy Mama GIVEAWAY!!!

Friday, October 2, 2015

I woke up this morning to chilly, rainy weather.  It's FALL, people!  Time to curl up with a cup of coffee and a book and be COZY!

So, I'm having a GIVEAWAY for all cozy mamas out there!  

I'm giving away a signed copy of my new book, For All Maternity, along with a super-cozy, gray chevron stroller blanket from Pottery Barn Kids!  I'm also including some of my favorite baby items including gift cards for nursing pillows and covers, Pampers to-go pack and more!!!

Check out this STASH I've got for you, valued at over $200!!!



Yep, that's it! And you have 4 weeks to share as many posts as you like!

Better yet, follow me on any social media platform to get a BONUS ENTRY (Like the PARDYMAMA FACEBOOK PAGE, and follow @pardymama on Instagram and Twitter!)

The giveaway is open until the winner is announced on OCTOBER 30, you have LOTS of time to spread the word and enter multiple times!!!

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