motherhood

You Think Mothering Might Break You, But You’re Wrong

Today it nearly broke me—trying to mother.

I was not exceptional.

It was not my most shining performance of mothering while also being a mother.

But then my 5yo begged me to cuddle her. And she wasn’t sweet about it. She was angry and crying and, frankly, pretty rude. And I looked at her face, and I wanted to win. I wanted to teach her a lesson about cause and effect.

Cause: You act like a 5yo shit all day and say things that hurt my feelings because you’re testing limits and learning to express emotions and opinions.

Effect: I deny you your nighttime snuggle.

Translation: I don’t give you my love. I show you the err of your human ways by leaving you alone in your bed to cry and feel the 5yo interpretation of a) my mother is cruel, mostly because b) she doesn’t love me.

I looked at my 5yo’s face and my stubborn will (also inherited by said daughter) urged me to flee, desperate to protect me from all this messy mothering discomfort. I craved space between me and her. To rebuke her childish display of demanding more of me. More. Always more. I felt her clawing through my wall of defenses—energetically, physically, emotionally.

I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath. I brought my attention to my thoughts.

“I know you don’t WANT to, but also WHY NOT, Gervase?” I could hear my truer self gently prodding.

“Who do you want to bring to this situation?”

I looked at her face. Chin quivering. Angry tears.

“Okay,” I said quietly, laying down in her twin bed cramped with 18 tiny stuffed animals and 3 decorative pillows. 

There is realistically no way for a grown woman and small child to lay side by side in a twin bed and still maintain personal space. The 5yo inherently knows this. Soon our noses were touching and I could smell her sweet breath on my cheeks. I kissed her forehead and laid there in the dark under her bed canopy in stillness, as I felt my heartbeat slow and my tense body soften.

I felt the current of energy traveling from her body, into mine and circling back around into her—cocooning us, now that my defensive wall was down. I think they call that connection. I waited until our breathing and heart beating was in sync. And in that moment, I suddenly recognized, I was mothering her and not just performing my role as her mother. There is a difference.

“Good days and bad days - I’ll love you forever,” I whispered.

Her eyelids became heavy and she nuzzled her whole face into my neck so my chin was above her head. She was so warm and soft.

I love her so, so much.

I love being her mother and I love mothering her, and still sometimes it feels like it might break me.

Sometimes I feel maybe I am not up to this test.

Maybe I will, despite every single attempt, repeat my mother’s cycle of being a mother but not mothering.

Or maybe . . . my truer self shakes me, I won’t.

Maybe - parenting is a blurry microcosm of good days and bad days. Giving when I feel I’ve got nothing left to give, by waving the white flag and lowering the bridge.

And maybe that’s the real difference between mothering and being a mother.

Because I can say from personal experience, not all mothers need to or will choose to mother. And that’s okay. I think growing up yearning for more from my mother shaped me into the kind of mother I am.

The kind who fights this good fight every damn day, without making that my kid’s fault.

Baby girl, my hope is that you feel my mothering in your bones. You know it in your soul, long after our season of nighttime snuggles has ended. I pray you never grow up to think you were not enough or are fundamentally flawed just because I had to work at it—this mothering thing. Because I love this work. It’s my favorite. And you are my greatest teacher.

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When You Give a Mom Advice But She Asked for Camaraderie

When You Give a Mom Advice But She Asked for Camaraderie

And while mom #1 didn't explicitly ask, "Can I ask you for a judgment-free space to express the human experience I'm having?" I heard the ask in her story.

I finally interrupted, "Hey, of course we know you love your kid and are doing what you think is best. Of course you're allowed to say that it feels hard and exhausting. Of course you get to feel those feels. We hear you. We've been there. This shit is hard sometimes. Sometimes I want to go to bed at 4pm and my girls are not even that wild. No judgment, girl."

When it Feels Like You're Pushing a Boulder Up a Mountain

Something was seriously out of alignment, and I knew it.All the signs were there. My throat started to feel swollen and scratchy. I couldn't focus or complete complex tasks, and the weighted feeling of overwhelm clung to me like a suffocating Eeyore-like cloud. So many moving parts; so little time. Blah, blah, blah.

"Here I am again," I thought. "I'm a mess. I can't get it together. I'm going to F it up. She always has it together." Running the same sob story mix tape of my story-telling days about who I am and what I'm capable of.

"What should I do? Why does this feel so hard? Where is the energy leak?" I asked myself. (Literally. To myself.) And then the answer I heard, "Let it be EASY."

"What feels so hard about this? What would make this NOT SO HARD?" I asked myself next. And then, the TOTALLY OBVIOUS ANSWER right there in front of me. A simple scheduling switch. Pushing something back a few weeks - changing my mental state entirely and affecting the quality of said product not at all.

If it feels like you're pushing a boulder up a mountain, then you probably are. I'd like to invite you to pause. Reconsider your rigid life choices. Find another way up. Perhaps a curvier path with a not-so-steep incline? Or, shit, just skip on down and explore a new destination entirely!

I don't know. Just an idea. From my hard-learned earth lessons to your bursting inbox.

Love, G

When the Nursery Walls Start Closing In

I’m crashing again. Dropping out of the bottom of a wave that feels like it might smash me to pieces.

It’s 9pm and my beautiful, round-cheeked, incredibly perfect 8-week-old has been resisting her bedtime for almost two hours now. Her nursery feels more like a prison to me with every passing minute. I feel claustrophobic within these four walls, hour after hour. Baby is snorting and snuffling like a tiny pink piglet against my chest, having been sick for a week now. She needs me so much, and yet my mind seems unable to focus on HER. I’m five moves ahead in the next scene—the one on my couch. God I want that couch. With my husband. I want whiskey. I want to numb out the groundhog days and stretched-out nights of newborn life with whiskey and TV, and I want it an hour ago.

Naturally, I hate myself for these thoughts. I can smell my own weakness. My ingratitude. Impatience.

Why am I so focused on what I want her to

do

instead of how fleeting this moment is? I berate myself. From today until forever I will have neither the ability nor right to control her, I think. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Even though I know I can’t control my newborn or her sleep or my thoughts about the situation in this moment, I try to anyway. 

I try to coach myself through it.

“What is the end result you are trying so hard to control right now?”

Her sleep schedule.

“Do you actually have control over this?”

Apparently not.

“What can you focus on that you DO have control over?”

I try focusing on my breath for a change. It seems like the obvious choice. It is steady. I focus on my love for this child. It is fierce. Solid. Anchor deep. I ground in this moment long enough to notice how much easier it is now than it was just four short weeks ago when I felt the crushing isolation of newborn life. When breastfeeding still felt like cruel and unnatural painful torture. When instead of four or five hour stretches of sleep, I had to be content with two or three. And still . . .

It’s not enough in that moment. I cannot be still. Gratitude feels forced and shallow. It doesn’t feel real for me right NOW.

And then, shit. I’m falling again. Back under that wave and drowning under the weight of my thoughts—my own toxic thoughts. I would do anything to rid myself of these merciless postpartum thoughts.

I dream of weightlessness. Selfish, self-satisfying freedom. Joy. Where is my joy? I am a joyful person. Shiny and happy. Where am I?

What is happening to me?

Postpartum thoughts are not like ordinary thoughts. Under no circumstances may they be trusted. They are unforgiving and rash. Anxious and irrational.

A woman postpartum is adjusting to imbalanced hormones that can take up to a year to right themselves. Our sanity’s delicate reliance on 8 hours of sleep, moderate exercise, sunlight, self-care and healthy diet is reliably disrupted by a newborn’s needs. I don’t have the solution to this. I can’t figure out a way to realistically balance all these things with the demands of a new baby and a toddler. At least not right now. Not yet.

I find myself trying to relentlessly, anyway.

mom and baby
mom and baby

Suddenly, the breath of the tiny body on my chest slows. Deeper inhales; longer exhales. The weight of her warm, soft body sinks into my chest. I’m suddenly aware of the fact that we’re attached—My heart, her whole body, snuggled in like she was before she joined us earth-side.

I take in the quiet and feel my own blood pressure slow in tandem.

I focus on her breath now. I anchor into it. And then . . .

Oh my God, THIS IS MAGIC. How could I ever NOT want this? Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for sweet silence and this moment. The silencing of her cries silences my own spiraling thoughts, and I’m back. Back to this moment. Back to gratitude and overpowering love.

Yes, YES. This is me. Here I am. I like this me. I'm addicted to this discovering of myself amidst motherhood. To the endless personal challenge of growing bigger than myself and becoming more of who I want to be. Raising tiny humans helps me do this. It plants me firmly in soil that DEMANDS my own personal growth. Demands I be still. Demands I look within. Demands I grow bigger and do better and find the teachable moments. This mothering soil tests me and shows me that yes I can DO this. There is no right or wrong way. There is no perfect or imperfect. There is only THIS. Like a devoted farmer who will not be discouraged by a passing storm, I keep planting the seeds of the kind of woman and mother I have chosen to be. The type of strong and resilient daughters I hope to raise. Sometimes I plant in neat little rows. Sometimes I just throw them out and pray they root.

That same wave that dragged me under is now cresting and I’m riding it, buoyant and gleeful. I CAN HANDLE THIS. I sit in the moment and let it linger. I inhale the intoxicating scent of her milky breath and feel her warm, smooth cheek on mine. God I love her. So much love it hurts. I am so so grateful.

Less than 30 minutes later I’m back on that blessed couch with my partner. I’m more relaxed than I’ve been in weeks. We’re connecting. Laughing. Present.

“This is my favorite moment I’ve had since I can remember,” he tells me.

“Me too,” I whisper. And I mean it. I mean it so so much.

I am so happy. So completely MYSELF on this couch, with the power out post-hurricane and candles burning and everything that felt so utterly upside down and overwhelming just an hour ago is suddenly exactly everything I need and more than I could have asked for. I feel so so lucky and happy and I’m aware that I’m cresting yet another wave. Two in a row?! Hell yes. Here I am. This is me. This is us. We are good. I am good.

And then the lesson hits me like a hurricane. Down one minute and up the next and nothing is wrong or bad. I’m not doing it wrong.

Hard doesn't equal wrong or unworthy or weak. Sometimes hard is just human. Our pain is our greatest teacher, if we spend enough time sitting with it instead of running from it, judging ourselves.

I am that woman in the nursery and I am this person with the whiskey and the candles and the romance. I am too much and just enough and maybe THIS is actually normal? Maybe I’m not the only one?

Maybe I can just accept myself as the perfectly worthy and imperfect woman I already am and keep riding these waves with as much grace, courage, gratitude and love as possible to become more and more of whom I’m meant to be. For my daughters. For the man on the couch. For me.

It’s a few nights later and I’m back in the nursery. I’ve been in the glider for another two hours with the baby. Midway through, husband rushes in to relieve me for a spell but I shake my head and smile a NON-passive aggressive smile.

“I’m good. I’ve got this,” I say.

I am presence, patience and gratitude. No wave riding tonight. We are still. As I feed and rock and snuggle our creation, the love overpowers the overwhelm for a change and I smile recognizing some seeds have taken root.

I am better today than I was yesterday and still holding on for the ride.

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This article also appeared on

The Huffington Post.

The Painfully Honest Truth About 6 Years and 2 Kids

The baby was crying again. Actually, replace crying with shrieking. The baby was alerting us—7 minutes after the last alarm—to the fact that she was in critical pain. Or had to fart. Or wanted to a snack. Or was having trouble falling asleep. I have no idea, actually, why she was shrieking that loud (or how in this blessed world our 3 year old could sleep through it in the next room, THANK YOU, SWEET BABY JESUS), but it was obviously our problem. One of us braced for another round of what was quickly becoming quite literally back-breaking shushing, rocking, holding and swaddling, as my post-pregnancy wrists and back—still trying to rearrange themselves after 9 months of baby-building work—buckled under the weight of my giant 9-pound baby. (I am weak, okay.) My husband and I are pretty diplomatic about alternating shifts during nights like these with our newborn. Or just tapping out when we can sense the other is about to lose it from patiently working through 20 or more prolonged minutes of shrieking. I was rescued from my last such shift. Husband silently crept up behind me in the nightlight-lit nursery like the hero he is and found me forcefully rewrapping our newborn’s swaddle as she wailed. I don’t know how long I had been in there. 30 minutes? An hour? When he touched my shoulder I looked up, a sob catching in my throat, “They say the tighter you wrap it, the more it calms her,” I said, before I fled to my bedroom, feeling like an AWOL soldier deserting my post. I laid in bed pretending to sleep with a pillow over my head, but I could still hear the wails, and the guilt slowly washed over me as the minutes ticked by: 10, 15, 25. I could feel my blood pressure returning to normal just as my husband of six years collapsed into bed beside me. Again. A parenting battle won. For at least another 7 minutes.

It was 2:48am.

“Happy anniversary,” I had whispered then in the dark.

“Happy anniversary, baby,” he had whispered back.

We laid there on our backs, making sure our sides touched, and I reached for his left hand and threaded my fingers through his, as I always did before falling asleep, even just for 7 minutes.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

This is our marriage today—six years after our raucous wedding day and eight years after our first date circling the Festival of Lights, when husband hid two wine glasses in his car’s glove compartment and won me over forever by asking if I wanted red or white.

It is not usually sexy.

It is not always kind.

It is not always patient and lately it only feels warm in the moments we steal late at night with our sides touching and our fingers threaded together.

But it is real and it is solid and it is incredibly committed.

This is real life.

I am tired. He is tired. I miss me. I miss us, and I know he does too.

When the sun rises, it is officially the daylight hours of this six-year anniversary, and it proves to be no more romantic. This six-week growth spurt is going nowhere fast and our normally chill baby is fussy all day.

I gift him two extra hours of sleep. He gifts me two hours toddler-free. I write him a card on notepad paper at 2am that is sweet, if not embarrassingly last-minute. He buys me a card on his toddler shift that day and leaves it, blank, in a plastic bag in the kitchen for a few days.

“We need to get out of this house together ASAP,” I tell him while baby-wearing and chugging my third cup of coffee.

I text the sitter on a whim and ask her if she can come an hour earlier than I initially asked, and she blessedly can.

When she walks in the door at 5pm, we are ready for her. We throw her our baby, tell her the toddler can watch as much TV as she wants, and we BOUNCE. We agree beforehand that the total price tag of this night for shenanigans + sitter will be 100% worth it and we throw caution to the wind like the wild, delirious new parents of two that we have just become.

“We need to celebrate the fact that our marriage has lasted this long,” I tell husband.

I really like celebrating.

The night that follows is perfect—well until I find myself in the hospital, but let’s not rush ahead.

We spend an hour together walking the bridge and burning off some physical and emotional steam while talking about things that are hard to talk about with small children around needing your total attention. The walk starts off a little tense, with both of us in our own weird survival funks from said growth spurt. We are a bit shell shocked. We are trying not to force the process that we hope will inevitably follow of loosening from business partners to best friends to lovers.

wedding couple
wedding couple

Being married with babies can easily start to feel like you run a business with a tall guy you really like who you can also boss around and blame things on. Then you might work your way out of those roles into the best friends place. Awww, best friends are so cute, right? This means you really like each other and want to spend every day together but forget to do things like kiss and hold hands because you’re still running a business and you have shiz. to. do. And then sometimes, if you’re lucky (and stubborn), you get back to the lovers stage. And I’m not even really talking about sex, though that’s a nice bonus. On this relationship stop, you can’t keep your hands off each other and you smile and laugh a lot. You obviously still keep your kids alive, but you kiss your partner as much as you kiss your kids and you actually mean it when you tell him you love him just as much as you love your angelic offspring.

Three hours and a bottle of champagne after we start our walk, we’re back on lovers lane. We remember what it feels like to be connected. We bask in the part of our identities that is not mom or dad. Fun Gervase, relaxed Kev. We lean into the spontaneity of a night out that ends with karaoke. It is exactly what we needed.

Cards and gifts don’t matter to me or husband. You know what does? Quality time and how we show up emotionally and energetically in our relationship. When I’m okay, he’s okay and we’re okay. Tonight teaches us that lesson for the 200th time.

So about that hospital visit . . .

Because we wanted to create an anniversary that we would remember for-e-ver,we decide that a growth spurt, bridge walk, a couple bottles of wine and karaoke are not enough . . .

Home in bed later that night, I startle awake to the baby’s wailing alarm, per usual. Unsure of the time and definitely not fully awake yet, I launch—literally, LAUNCH MYSELF—from the deepest sleep towards the bedroom door. As someone with low blood pressure and a propensity for fainting, particularly when I’ve been drinking for several hours, I catch myself mid-fall on the bookshelf right outside our bedroom door, seconds later. The bookshelf just happens to carry a large glass-blown decorative plate from our travels in South America atop it (DEFINITELY NOT BABY PROOFED). Aforementioned plate crashes to the ground and shatters at my bare feet.

Husband comes running from the nursery where he was ALREADY HANDLING IT, to find me standing in a pool of blood in the dark insisting I’m totally fine. I could have stayed in bed where I belonged. “This is a waste of much blood and stress,” I can’t help but thinking as husband dutifully cleans up crime scene.

Three hours later (because I need to sober up), I drive myself to the emergency room and tell that same embarrassing story to about 13 ER staff members over the course of four hours. “Kind of an odd hour to be doing housework,” the lady at the front desk tells me at 4:30 am when I tell her about the plate attacking me. “It was our anniversary,” I mutter. I was just celebrating.

She is the worst.

Six hours and six stitches later, I hop on one foot (literally) back to my car and drive home to where husband is doing his best to hold down the fort without me. He will, regrettably, need to continue doing so for the next 48 hours since I cannot stand upright, let alone care for my children. This is terribly inconvenient, of course. #MomoftheYear

The weird thing is that my husband and I are kinder and more loving towards each other for those next 48 high-stress hours than we have been in weeks, which just goes to show it’s not necessarily about the quality of the “hard,” but about the quality of the breaks and connecting opportunities we take in between the hard #ThisIsRealLife moments.

Because, let’s be honest, marriage is hard work.

Raising tiny humans is hard.

But still— it can still be kind of a fun ride if you take TIME to create the moments you and your relationship and your #momlife need to survive it in one piece.

Why do women have a warped concept of marriage after kids?

Because nobody tells the truth.

Because everyone pretends theirs is the best.

Or everyone secretly feels like theirs is the worst.

We aren’t talking about it honestly and we definitely aren’t portraying it honestly through the filters on Instagram.

This is REAL life.

What if marriage after kids wasn’t the best or the worst?

What if it was both and we could totally handle it?

Marriage is an adventure. You get to fight in it and forit. You get to design it and evolve it and be surprised along the way. You can choose to stop the busyness and the hamster wheel living and celebrate it, without excuses. Celebrate the growth spurts and the date nights. The hospital visits and the picture-perfect moments, because you earned it ALL, and you do not get the GIFT of the highs without the lows. You don’t get to have one without the other. At least not if we’re talking about REAL LIFE MARRIAGES.

We’re here to live the full range of what it means to be human, and there’s nothing wrong with that experience. Your life doesn’t all have to be Instagram-ready to be fulfilling and freaking epic.

Yesterday, I brought the baby into our bed at 7am and she cooed and smiled at us for 10 minutes before the toddler climbed into bed and the four of us snuggled and laughed and loved harder than we ever thought we could love.

This is real life.

It hard then it’s easy then it’s hard again, and it’s all totally okay.

Happy (late) anniversary to the best life partner I could have ever chosen for this crazy ride.

I promise to keep apologizing to you, being honest with you, loving you and being brave enough to live the highs and the lows with you every year till we’re old and fat and these kids we’ve raised will pour our champagne and change our diapers.

**Note: This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.**

Why I'm Celebrating Myself

Last night I had a mini celebration. For myself. Relaxing with my hubs on the couch recapping our days, it hit me that the past year of my life as a wife, woman, mother and mompreneur deserves some serious pats on the back. Is it because I’m making six figures? No. Is it because I went on a tropical vacation and boasted of my location independence? Nope. It’s not that I haven’t lost my temper with my kid, and it’s definitely not because I haven’t cried any tears. I have. Plenty. My tears free me from the confines of my crazy-ass thoughts and so Imma keep on letting them FLOW (and you should, too, btw).I celebrated EASE. Growth. Happiness. Acceptance.

I’m nearly FREE from limiting beliefs, negative thoughts, unhealthy relationships, mental illness, guilt, anxiety, shoulds and many fears that, a year ago, had plagued me my whole life and I hadn't even realized it—fear of missing out, fear of not measuring up, fear of letting people down, fear of what others think, fear of repeating my parents’ mistakes, fear of money, and on and on and on.

I let ALL that shit GO.

I celebrated a new relationship to money, and a true understanding of my inherent worth and the value I have to share with the world. Clue: It’s not complicated.

Girl with Firecracker
Girl with Firecracker

I celebrated full freaking alignment with my current identity without being attached to it. When I evolve with the seasons with my life and I'm always exactly where I'm supposed to be, life always feels like a vacation.

I celebrated the full embodiment of a new way of living, loving and learning. It is so easy for me to teach other mothers about this way because I am SO COMMITTED to walking my talk, even when it’s not shiny and happy. Even when it’s dark and human. I am living authentically and transparently, and it feels rather nice.

I celebrated stepping into the roles of truth-teller and healer, which I’ve actually been playing for years without acknowledgment. What was that word again? Oh yeah, ALIGNMENT.

I celebrated a second pregnancy that has been incredibly healthy—in body, mind and soul. Blissfully devoid of prenatal depression, which cast a dark shadow over my first. And on that note, I celebrated nearly a year off antidepressants—with the help of a new way of thinking, my life coach and acupuncture. I feel mentally stronger than I ever have in my life, and that is the result of a LOT of intentional work on MYSELF. Depression is real. It's not something to be ashamed of, AND it doesn't define me.

I celebrated new friendships that are precious to me. Mentors in my life who have massively pushed it in the direction I wanted it to go and the proof that investing in MYSELF was my WISEST choice in becoming the wife, woman, mother and mompreneur I knew I could be.

Women don’t celebrate themselves enough. We’re taught it’s conceited, and so then we seek that external validation from our partners, friends and parents.

I celebrated myself and then my hubs celebrated with me. Doing this “work” on myself for the past year has helped me co-create such a rock solid partnership with my husband that it seems crazy I ever thought I shouldn’t or couldn’t.

And now we're more aware every day that our lives are AWESOME. Because of who we are and what we've created, not because of a status or photoshop finish. Our shiny, happy and human REAL LIFE truly feels awesome, because we stop to celebrate it. It's like waking up in your second trimester without morning sickness one day and not getting down on your knees and saying "thank you thank you thank you! I will never take feeling awesome for granted again!" That's what we do with our lives. And so instead of always waiting to "arrive" somewhere or "achieve" something, every day is celebration-worthy. A gift. This one incredible life.

Maybe you’re wondering how? How do we create this? It's a total commitment to healing, growing, stepping into the bad-ass woman you were born to be and making the most of YOUR one incredible life and the gifts you were given. But obviously it takes a wee bit more than commitment, yes? There are mindset hacks, strategies, ways of reframing language, thoughts and beliefs so that you create a world that supports you, cheers you on, believes in you and your little light.

Oh, and having a coach helps. A lot. Having epic coaches and mentors to call you out on your bullshit and help you spot the logic-bound lies that are keeping you overwhelmed, anxious, dissatisfied and imbalanced is key. I would know. I've hired a ton.

I’d love to teach you everything I’ve learned since becoming a mama. Tangible strategies to make your life EASIER and give you more to celebrate. I’m still scheduling a few more 25-minute complimentary Truth Chats with women like you are ready for ease, growth, happiness and ALIGNMENT. If that’s you, I’d love to meet you. Schedule your Truth Chatand let’s jam about how you’re accidentally making your career, marriage and #momlife harder than it has to be and the exact steps I used that you can implement to say goodbye to “Fear of . . ." for GOOD.

What are you celebrating today, Beautifully Messy Mommy? Let's celebrate YOU.

And if you're craving more sisterhood and celebration in your life, head on over to our private Mommy Soul Tribe Facebook groupwhere we celebrate ourselves WEEKLY and lift each other up on the daily.

PS: Don't forget to grab your free Truth Chat here asap. I'm rolling into my third trimester here (with compression tights and errrthang), so these will NOT be available forever!

Dear Mama in the Dark

I waved to a fellow mama dropping her daughter off late to school today. “It’s nice to know my kid isn’t the only late one!” I joked cheerily. I was having a good day. It’s sunny outside. I managed to summon the ambition to walk my kid to school and enjoy some fresh air, even though she had had an accident seconds before we walked out the door. I was all raindrops on roses.

She seemed a bit zombified. “My girl won’t go to sleep. She went to bed at 11:30pm last night and then couldn’t wake up this morning.”

“Oh man. That is rough for YOU. I was so excited to get my alone time when Aria was little, I put her to bed at 7pm.”

“I’ve tried everything. She’s just a night owl. We have zero time as husband and wife. It’s rough.”

She got back in her minivan and drove away, coffee in hand. Mustering a smile as she waved goodbye.

This may not seem like much—just part of the classic parenting rite of passage—but to me it is. These are the dark spaces in between the bright moments of mothering when we don’t say what we’re actually feeling for fear of making ourselves too vulnerable and open to judgment. “I’m having a really hard time. I need a friend (and a drink). I need space from my child. I want more time with my husband.”

Dear Mama in the Dark
Dear Mama in the Dark

As I walked back home down the Greenway, pushing an empty stroller in front of me, I was struck by how all-consuming those human moments are as parents when we’re IN them. Just last week, my toddler turned on me (as toddlers are programmed to do). Meltdowns and tantrums every 3.5 minutes, screaming and crying and the words, “I don’t want to!” over and over. My nerves were shot. I was losing patience. My preggo hormones were raging. I literally reached a point where I COULD NOT TAKE IT ANYMORE. I wrote to my Mommy Soul Tribe that day about the turning point when I lost my ish. I left my LO with her father and walked away from them. I walked far. I walked fast. And every step farther away felt like this giant weight lifting off my chest. With the accountability of my Soul Tribe, I forgave myself later that night for NEEDING space from my toddler and for taking it. I also forgave myself for leaning HARD on my husband that afternoon into evening. I clocked out and handed over the reins to him. I was so grateful for my partner that day.

So when I looked at this exhausted mama a little closer today and really SAW her and HEARD her: “We have zero time together as husband as wife,” I felt what she was feeling and my heart went out to her. She’s where I was just days ago. In the quiet dark spot—the space we’re ashamed to speak of—in between the brightness of mothering. I am her and she is me.

The hard bits won’t necessarily all be the same for all of us. And they won’t happen at the same time. And maybe sometimes we’ll smugly think, “Well my kid slept through the night at 6 weeks,” and a year later your kid will start biting other kids at school and guess what? WE ARE ALL THE SAME AND DIFFERENT. And there are smooth, easy days and weeks and times when the hard is HEAVY. So let’s all be in this together and always tell each other “You’re doing an amazing job. I feel the same way some days. This, too, shall pass,” and be grateful for the sunny days. Because we all know that when the dark days hit us over the head, it feels like they will stay forever, and then one morning you wake up more rested and your kid snuggles you and kisses your pregnant belly and tells daddy she loves him and sweetly asks for pancakes and just like that - that human moment in parenting time is over. And it’s whiskers on kittens again and you can just barely remember what was ever hard about it in the first place. (The parallels with childbirth are suddenly dawning on me . . . )

So, dear mama having a dark day - to you I say, “Just put pants on. This, too, shall pass. You’re doing an awesome job and I have 200% been there. Take whatever scrap of space you can when you need it and put yourself and your marriage first for a day, too. That’s okay. It’s important. IT MATTERS and can make all the difference on the bad days. And don’t forget to LEAN HARD on your partner. He can take it and he wants to see you happy.”

If you are wondering how to lean on and also prioritize your partner so you can have the relationship you signed up for, register for the next FREE Mommy Masterclass. The topic, by popular demand, is Staying Connected to Your Partner After Baby. We go live on March 28th and you don’t want to miss this soul tribe partay.

What Balance Actually Looks Like for a Mom

I just had this amazing conversation with virtual friend and fitness coach, Laura Waller about fitting fitness into your #MomLife. (Stay tuned for the interview, which will be shared for a special edition of tomorrow’s #TIRL Thursday!) But something came up in our interview that really had me thinking about this idea of balance for moms, because I know it’s something that we ALL crave as human beings.The word balance is a bit of a trigger for me because I think what it actually IS and what it SOUNDS LIKE are two different things. Laura and I talked about how life with kids is constantly changing because kids are constantly GROWING into different creatures with different sleeping, eating and behavior patterns, and I know as a new mom I fought against that HARD. I wanted a SCHEDULE. I wanted to know what to expect so I could plan around it and create my own sense of “balance.”

But that is not what I was actually trying to create in my life. I wanted CONTROL—over my life and schedule and to-do list and social calendar, and I think as mamas we accidentally associate this control with BALANCE. And when you are trying so hard to swim upriver (metaphorically) in a new world where it feels like floating downstream would mean relinquishing some control and parts of our pre-baby identities, we get frustrated with the process. But the irony is that floating downstream (away from control and “Balance”) is where we find PEACE in our new roles as mothers.

Accepting that life with children is ever evolving is the only real ticket to the freedom we seek. Changing our mindsets from “control” to acceptance is a guaranteed path to becoming shiny, happy humans. I know because I made the internal shift for myself. And DON’T YOU WORRY—I’m still QUITE the control freak.

So now that we’ve cleared up the difference between a parent’s natural desire for order and control and consistency, let’s move onto what I believe balance to actually BE.

Here’s an excerpt that I shared with my soul tribe via my email newsletter this week. It showcases the past week of my life. As you can see, it was all over the place.

What Balance Actually Looks Like for a Mom
What Balance Actually Looks Like for a Mom
  • The hubs and I planned an impromptu ADVENTURE to California (with potty-training toddler) for 2 weeks from now. Keep up with us as we explore Yosemite, Big Sur, Monterey Aquarium and San Fran viaInstagram before I head on solo to Sonoma for some preggo entrepreneur sisterhood and my last Boss Society retreat!
  • Aria caught the pink eye stink eye and then gave it to me (just don’t. please.).
  • We moved all the furniture around in our home to make room for Baby Squishy. I write to you from my NEW home office conveniently—or dangerously—located directly next to my bed!
  • More potty training. More poop accidents. Some huge successes (staying dry through the night!) Huge shout out to Jessica Bentson of The Potty Training Revolution for being my on-call counselor. This is a “thing” for us. I know it’s ridiculous AND thank you, but no I would not like your advice (read: opinion). I got me a guru. ;)
  • And, of course, I had like 3 hormonal pregnant meltdowns and just needed some extra self-care. And as you know, when mama needs self-care, mama TAKES IT.

You know what all that stuff equals when you put it together? A balanced week!

Balance as a mother means floating downstream and accepting that you may never have the same day twice. Or you may! But that’s only taking your family into consideration. The thing I find too many mothers don’t integrate into their plan for balance is that WE (women) don’t feel the same every day either after having kids! Take my 3 hormonal meltdowns this past week—I’m not going to get into judging that as normal or not normal because it really doesn’t matter. It’s what happened, and it’s what happens in REAL LIFE when you are pregnant or breastfeeding or have crazy kids running around. And YOU deserve to do your own Mind Body Soul check-in every morning to see what YOU need that day and do whatever you can to give it to yourself. All the while having the mindset that it doesn’t have to be the same routine as yesterday and you don’t need to control your toddler’s poop schedule to GIFT THAT REDEFINED IDEA OF BALANCE TO YOURSELF.

Balance is available to all of us, but let’s stop confusing it with a routine or a clean house or an obedient child or a perfect husband. The buck stops here. I’m responsible for my own balance, and I consider that an opportunity to work on myself every single day and make sure I’m always doing what I can to keep the ship afloat (that’s ME), as well as the passengers onboard (that’s my people).

By the way, if you haven’t joined my people, we are over in the free Mommy Soul Tribe Facebook group talking about our beautifully messy mommy moments and we’d love to meet you. If you’re human, you’ll like it there.

Why You Should Join a Mom Group

When you’re a new mom, it’s easy to feel a lot of things. You’ll feel alone, you’ll feel scared, you’ll feel like nobody understands how you’re feeling. But that’s not true, mama. Moms do. Other moms have been where you’ve been and they have felt what you’ve felt. This is one reason why your friendships with non-moms will sometimes change. (You can still keep them--they’ll just be different.)

But your new friendships with new moms will be sacred. Special. And that’s why there’s something about a mom group that just makes sense. We all need to vent together about our asshole children. We need to drink together when we just can’t do anything else. We need to cry together when we feel like we’ve lost our way.

That’s why I created the Mommy Soul Tribe. For moms to do all of these things...together. Here are a few reasons why groups like this are ridiculously beneficial to moms at any stage of their mommy-hood.

Why You Should Join a Mom Group
Why You Should Join a Mom Group

1. Support

No one will support you like a fellow mom who just wants you to know that you’re doing it right. One reason that we moms can get so crazy and stressed is because we feel like no one understands us. We’re surrounded by children and husbands who just don’t get being a mom.

That’s what your mom group is for. Grab a glass of wine, get on Facebook, post about your troubles, and let us love on you.

2. Friendship

One thing that I love most about my little mommy Facebook group is the fact that you can get on and chat with your friends without having to put on outside-the-home appropriate clothes to meet up with anyone. We’re all right here, inside that awesome rectangle that is your phone. You can create genuine friendships with so many moms in the group. There are moms in the same walk of life as you and moms that you can teach and moms that you can learn from.

3. Advice

Is your baby suddenly not sleeping as well as she used to? Does your toddler have a problem with picking his nose and you have no idea how to get him to stop? A mom group allows you to get advice from a diverse groups of moms: from those who are going through the same thing you are right now to those who already have and have some seriously great tips to get you through it.

4. Self-Care Help

You need some time for yourself. Fellow moms understand that and won’t give you a hard time for focusing on self-care. They’ll just tell you how jealous they are and give you even more awesome tips for what to do on your next me-day.

5. Venting

If you’re having a rough day with your toddler or your significant other, a mom group is really the place to hash it out and let out your emotions. We’re all women and we all understand that we’re humans with feelings. We’ll always support you when you need to talk about yours.

We would love you have you join our Mommy Soul Tribe, soul sister. Click here and introduce yourself to us!

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