Dwell on Positivity

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As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I’d like to share some of the positives in my life right now. The things I’m thankful for. Sometimes we all need a reminder of how good things can be.

D is getting bigger and brighter by the day. The things that he says and the level at which we can converse with him are constantly blowing us away. I am completely envious of his energy, creativity and imagination.

Little DD is a whirlwind of firsts and she can now officially crawl, stand and cruise and she even has one tooth to show for her almost six months of teething. She napped for the first time ever by herself the past two days in a row. PROGRESS! I am beyond grateful because it means I can take time to catch up on things I need to get done and I feel like I am much more able to be the best mom I can be when my own needs are met.

Hubby is busy at work and not home as much as we all would like, but he is working hard to support his family while I get to stay home with the kids, so for that I am eternally grateful.

I am slowly starting to get out of my funk a bit, I think. I have been eating better this week and getting lots of sleep, which makes all the difference for me. I have received a ton of support from friends and family, and one friend in particular has inspired me to follow my dreams instead of settling for what I feel is “safe” (something my husband will tell you he has been advocating for all along, if only I would listen to him… ha!) I really am incredibly lucky to be blessed with such wonderful people surrounding me. Now I just need to work on not being so hard on myself and allowing myself to come first sometimes, without that whole mommy guilt thing getting in the way.

Today I’m in a good place, and that’s a start.

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A recent photo taken of us at the beach by the lovely and talented, JennyFig Photography

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Good Intentions

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Did I seriously not even blog in August? I feel like I have been letting my readers down in the past, well, six months I guess. That’s when my posts went from weekly to monthly, or less. In fact, it’s not just my readers I feel like I have been letting down, but also my friends, my family and myself.Β 

I have always been the type to try to do it all, and it has been causing me some major burnout lately. I have the best of intentions, but that doesn’t always materialize. Instead of getting lots accomplished, I have a lot of half finished, half-assed projects and a whole lot of clutter, both physically and mentally. This has led me down a path that I thought I had managed to escape. But in the past week or so, I have been led to a realization that has been an underlying fear since before I even became a mother.

I think I’m depressed.

Those of you who know me, really know me, know that I have struggled with depression off and on for much of my life. I had a tough upbringing and have always attributed it to that. But this is different. This time I have no real reason to feel this way. I have an incredibly wonderful and supportive husband who not only loves me unconditionally, but somehow manages to make me feel beautiful and appreciated when I feel the least deserving of those things. I have two beautiful babies who bring so much joy to my life. Yes, they challenge me daily, but their sweet dispositions overshadow any grudge I could possibly hold as they move through their soul searching, rebellious, gain independence and show the world (okay, Mom and Dad) who I am and what I want phase. I am proud that I have kickers and screamers and not quiet, obedient puppets who regurgitate rules I have set out for them and only know how to blindly follow, instead of coming to their own conclusions. Yes, I am grateful for this. But yes, it gets exhausting.

I also like to hold my baby, A LOT. We bedshare and she spends the majority of her day attached to me. That also gets exhausting after nine months. Some days I get frustrated when she clings to me. Or that she cries if I put her down, even if it’s only to go pee or get myself a glass of water. Some days I long to put my feet up and read a book and just have no one ask me for anything. And shamefully, some days I don’t deal so well with that frustration. Some days I yell and the second the words are out of my mouth I am consumed with guilt. I feel anxious, irritated, tired, overly emotional, overwhelmed and finding it hard to get much of anything accomplished these days. I have almost completely given up on doing anything for myself. This blog, photography, eating healthy, working out. All things that used to fulfill me, have all gone out the window. Some days it feels like it’s taking every ounce of my energy just to get dressed.

So today I go see my doctor to talk about Postpartum Depression (PPD). Shit, that’s tough to say out loud. There is a wave of guilt that swallows me up whenever I think about it. Don’t I love my babies enough to just forget about feeling stressed? Don’t I know how fucking lucky I am to have them? Aren’t they enough to make me happy? But that’s not how it works.

It’s been tough to admit, both to myself and to all of you. But the reality is, it’s more common than you might think. And I can’t deny it or beat myself up over it any longer. Because ultimately I deserve to be happy and feel like myself again. And they deserve to grow up in a positive environment, with a mother who is happy and patient and caring and doesn’t take out my frustrations on them, their innocent faces looking up at me wondering what they could possibly have down wrong.

Admitting I need help doesn’t make me a bad mother. Continuing to live in denial won’t accomplish anything. It’s nice to have good intentions, but it’s not enough. I want to be the mother and person I know I am deep down. I want it to be easy to be that person again. I want every day to not be a struggle. And I am the only person who can make that happen.

Letting Go of Mommy Guilt

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If there’s one thing I’m notorious for, it’s mommy guilt. The most useless, time sucking emotion a woman is capable of after squatting out life. It doesn’t solve anything and it sure as hell doesn’t make us feel any better about ourselves, but still, it is a reality for most. That includes me.

I didn’t have time to shower today, I skipped my workout, my husband and I never have sex, my house is a mess, I don’t spend enough time with my kids, I yell too much, I get impatient. These are only some of the things we judge ourselves for, and I have been guilty of most, if not all of them at one time or another. Let’s be honest for a second though, who hasn’t? The part I can’t stress enough is that we are judging OURSELVES. I can guarantee you that no one else cares how clean your floors are or is keeping track of how much time you spend on the internet (BuzzFeed quizzes are a personal favourite) or how many times you fed you kids pizza for dinner last week. You want to know why? Because they are too busy beating themselves up about their own shit! Most likely imagined too, of course.

What is the point of all this? And why do we do it when we know we shouldn’t? While it would be easy to blame society or the way we were brought up, the answer is simple. Us. We are too hard on ourselves and we buy into the whole mommy guilt thing every time we allow ourselves to feel bad for taking a bubble bath or going out for coffee with a friend.

It’s okay to want time to yourself. It’s okay to want to remember what you were like before those drooling, pooping, puking machines came into your life and turned you into “that mom”, the one whose Instagram feed is basically an #instacollage of daily adventures in the mundane. It’s okay to talk about something other than your offspring for a change, and not only is okay, it’s actually normal and healthy. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your family. It doesn’t make you a bad parent or a bad partner. The truth is, when we are happy and well-rested, we are able to be BETTER (and less bitchy) people, and therefore, better parents to our children.

We need to stop with the mommy guilt. We are mothers, not martyrs.

5 Things I Love About My Spirited Child

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1. He never holds back his emotions… like it or not, he is always himself.

2. He is persistent… not always such an easy trait to deal with, but one of the ones I am the most proud of.

3. He loves me the same NO MATTER WHAT… even if I’m not feeling very loveable.

4. He forgives me… much faster than I deserve and much faster than I am capable of forgiving.

5. He teaches me patience… even if it’s the hard way. Every. Single. Time.

These past few weeks have been rough. And I thought things were actually getting better, but three is a tough age. It’s tough to have a three year old, and even more tough, I imagine, to BE a three year old (okay, maybe not). This is a reminder for myself and every parent out there, no matter what your child’s age and whether they (or you) are spirited or not, that there will always be days you will feel frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. But there’s more reasons to love them than there are reasons to bang your head against a wall, so hang in there.

Unplugged

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I meant to post this on Monday, after wrapping up my very first Screen Free Week, but alas life got in the way, as it has so much over the past couple months.

What is Screen Free Week, you may ask. It is a pledge I took to stay as disconnected from technology as much as possible for one full week (excluding work and school use).

If you know me, you know this is something I struggle with. Technology is all-consuming and it’s hard not to allow yourself to get sucked in.

I knew it would be challenging, but you don’t realize how much you rely on technology for literally everything until it’s gone. I had to use, get this… a PHONE BOOK to look up the number of a restaurant when booking reservations to take my in-laws out for dinner. You can imagine how much dust was on that thing!

Everything from my grocery list to my banking and to-do lists use a screen in some way. Even as a photographer, I rely on my cell phone to snap pictures of my kids’ day to day lives (my DSLR has a screen though too, so not much better).

I decided right away that it wouldn’t be possible to be 100% screen free. TV and social media were out, but I would allow myself to use my phone for its camera, fitness apps, text messaging and calling, as they are my sole method of communication with family and close friends.

As I said, it was a challenge in the beginning, but not as much as I had anticipated. I only got one or two complaints from the hubby and D asked me maybe three times if he could watch a movie, to which I replied, “We are on screen free week. Let’s go find something else to do.” Not one tear was shed in the process.

I find the concept to be quite refreshing and inspiring, however (for us anyway) it is slightly flawed. To be completely and totally screen free for an entire week would be next to impossible. A week is a long time. Instead of feeling free, I ended up feeling disconnected and even lonely.

I did learn something from my week of screen time reduction, which is a more accurate description. Technology does not replace real life interaction with others and it’s not the only way to accomplish many of the necessities of a modern life. I can write out an old fashioned grocery list or *gasp* open up a phone book once in awhile.

So instead of one week every year, what about one day every week? One day a week to be screen free and allow myself to really commit to the notion, in order to fully reap the benefits.

So my new thing is Screen Free Sundays.

Okay, except when The Walking Dead is on.