August 31, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Cultivating More Patience

Today's Motherhood at a Glance feature writer is my sweet friend, Lauren! It's always funny having friends with the same name as you - you're always addressing yourself! ;) 

Lauren grew up in AZ but has since lived all over the country! She is an amazing mama to two sweet kids, her son who is three-and-a-half and their daughter who is one-and-a-half! Lauren met her husband in college and have now been married for five year. She graduated with a degree in visual communication and is currently a stay-at-home-mama while her husband is in graduate school to get his PhD! Lauren loves all things creative, like baking yummy things (that she says don't always look Pinterest-worthy, but sure do taste good!). She communicates in TV and movie quotes, which I love! Lauren is genuinely just such a sweet soul and amazing example as a mama.  

I'm so excited for us to learn from Lauren today as she shares a little bit about how she has cultivated the all-too-relatable attribute that everyone struggles with when raising little humans: patience! As we apply her three simple steps to becoming more patient in parenting, I am sure we will all have a less stressful week ahead!

Doesn’t that poem just make your eyes well up?? I need daily... okay... hourly reminders to be patient. Unfortunately, it’s so easy (and normal!) to get frustrated with your kids. I was not born a patient person. In fact, I’m not so sure that I can even classify myself as a patient person at all, BUT it is something that I am constantly striving to be. Here are three key things that have been actually life-changing for me as I do my best to navigate motherhood with patience.

If you’ve seen Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood, you know how much of a saint Daniel’s mom is. She is literally THE mom I aspire to be. (Besides my own mom. Duh.) Honestly, this first tip should really be: “Watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” If nothing else, at least watch this little clip of Mom Tiger really quick and take notes! Then come right back to the blog post because I’m just getting started! ;)

Is the show trying to teach children how to control their emotions? Yes. Have I learned more about controlling my emotions than my kids have? Absolutely yes. My sweet son has caught on and always tells me, “good job, mom!” after I take my deep breaths. (Thanks little buddy! I always need the encouragement.) Breathe and then respond. It will do wonders. 

It drives me nuts when people sarcastically say to children: “Oh, your life must be SO hard!” Okay... hold up. At some phases in childhood, there is literally no way for children to communicate besides crying. So yes, it’s frustrating when you can’t figure out why your baby is crying, but it has got to be frustrating for THEM to not be able to tell you what’s wrong.  When children do start to talk, there are constant misunderstandings because, you know, they’re trying to learn a whole new language! If you ever took a foreign language class in high school, then you got a little glimpse of this. (Three years of Spanish over here and all I’ve got to show for it is: ¿Dónde está la biblioteca?) It’s no joke to learn a new language! 

Let’s not forget that children have such limited freedom. “You want to stay at the park for two more hours? Well shoot—instead you have to drive around in the car with me for an hour while I run errands. Sorry!” It’s not all that easy, so let’s cut our children some slack. 

Ralphie from Simply on Purpose shared this tip on her Instagram stories one time and I was MIND. BLOWN. I literally don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this myself but it has helped our little family so much.  My son has a lot of energy. Like... a lot. LOL. For so long, I would just expect him to always cooperate and listen to me. *Facepalm.* When he wouldn’t, I would get so frustrated and lose it. News flash to me: I shouldn’t expect my 3- year-old to sit perfectly still and quietly as I grocery shopped for a whole hour. I shouldn’t expect my 1-year-old to not start sucking on our Apple TV remote when I left it on the coffee table that’s literally right in front of her. The list goes on. I had been setting myself up for frustration with such unrealistic expectations! Children are going to act their age. 

Now, to avoid getting overly-frustrated with my son at the grocery store, I either go by myself, make my trips with him especially short, or do grocery pickup. (*Insert the praying hands emoji because we are truly blessed to live in a time where grocery pickup exists.*) As for my little girl sucking on our remote, I have learned to keep things I really don’t want to be sucked on out of reach… but I have also just accepted that she just is going to put our things in her mouth. Haha! Let them be little. “When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join their chaos.”

—L.R. Knost

You’re never going to be able to be patient 100% of the time. Patience is something that needs to be worked on constantly. It’s a bummer but it’s the truth. Set realistic expectations for yourself and remember to give yourself some grace. Start with one tiny thing you can do to keep from getting overly frustrated and go from there. This week, I’m going to really focus on taking deep breaths when I get worked up. Let’s learn patience. Let’s learn it for our kids and be the best moms we can be. You’ve got this, mama!

Thank you so much to Lauren for this insightful and tangible article on how to cultivate more patience! She makes it much more manageable and less overwhelming with her three takeaways:

Take a step back and breathe before we react or respond to our children

See life through our children's eyes and cut them some slack

Set realistic expectations and recognize your child's age to avoid frustration

August 24, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Redefining Beauty and Strengthening Self-Identity

Welcome to week fourteen in the Motherhood at a Glance feature segment! I'm so happy to introduce you to today's writer, Stephanie Barillas Mortensen!

Stephanie was born and raised in Southern California and is the daughter of Guatemalan Immigrants. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, UT with her husband, Kyle, and their sweet baby boy, Oliver! Stephanie works for a nonprofit that provides services to refugees, immigrants and survivors of persons in trafficking. She enjoys spending her free time outdoors with her family, traveling with her husband, trying new restaurants and going to brunch with girlfriends!

Stephanie is truly an amazing woman and I'm so grateful to know her and learn from her! I know what she has written today is going to resonate with so many of you and I hope you find the power in her words, as I did. Enjoy!

Self-Identity is something I have been working through for quite some time. This journey of self-searching started a few years ago. Beginning this process was important for me before I became a mama. I knew I had work to do, from accepting my culture and traditions, to loving my body and skin color. Growing up as the daughter of immigrants, I felt like I was living two different lives. At school I spoke English and at home we strictly spoke Spanish. We celebrated holiday traditions in a different way than most of my friends. We celebrated Christmas on December 24th at midnight, while my friends woke up early in the morning of the 25th to open gifts. Throughout my teenage years I always wanted to fit in. I had friends that were different from me. They were thin and white and seemed to have a desirable look, as far I could see.  

I watched these girls get asked to dance at school or church dances. I remember wishing that I looked more like them. I would often watch how much time I spent in the sun because I didn’t want to look too tan. Now, as an adult, I am learning to unlearn the meaning of beauty that society taught me.

While I was pregnant and anxiously awaited the arrival of my son Oliver, I dug deep in podcasts, books, blogs, parenting classes, and really anything I could research on parenting and motherhood. I came across Brené Brown’s “The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto”. As I read the words, “Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions - the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I TREAT MYSELF.” These words hit me like a ton of bricks. 

As a mother, I hope and dream for my son a beautiful and authentic life where he feels free to love and be loved. Free to feel pain. Free to make mistakes. Free to succeed. Free to be unapologetically himself. If I have learned anything from parenting it is that Oliver needs to see my vulnerability. He needs to see me embrace myself and not hold back. I can no longer be ashamed of the skin that I am in. I can no longer suppress my thoughts and feelings. He will learn to live an authentic life by watching me live mine.  

I remember being pregnant and some of the advice I got was to go on as many dates with Kyle as I could and to cherish our time together. To watch all the movies or shows we wanted now because once the baby came, things would be different. It was as if I was going to lose all of my freedom to this little human. In reality, Oliver has set me free in a way I never Imagined. I feel encouraged to be more loving of myself, to feel more, to stand up for myself, to be quicker to apologize and to recognize my mistakes. I can allow myself to love at a whole new level. I am free to be me and, in turn, I truly believe that he is getting the best version of his mama that anyone has ever seen! What is that one thing that is a part of you that you have always wanted to dig deeper but are afraid to discover? For me it was learning more about my Guatemalan heritage. I had held back for many years fully embracing that side of myself for lots of reasons. 

One day, I decided that I felt beautiful in my brown skin and that I no longer wanted to be ignorant, but to be full of wisdom of the traditions of my ancestors. I wanted to know and love the land my mother and grandmother grew up in. In October of 2017, my husband and I made the big move to Guatemala and decided to live there for six months. It was a beautiful and healing experience to live my truth. I now understand more about my mother, and more about myself. We made sacred memories and I am excited to share them with my children.

Another major thing that has helped me cultivate these strengths is loving my body. I’m sure some of you can relate with this but I have been so harsh on my postpartum body. I caught myself mourning my old body, feeling frustrated with not being able to jump back into my old jeans and being super embarrassed of the extra weight and stretch marks. This was hard for me. I felt insecure not only about the way that I looked but also about my relationship with my husband. I would think to myself what if he no longer finds me attractive? He probably doesn’t think I’m beautiful. He probably misses my old body. I am now practicing using kind words when referring to my body and have addressed these insecurities by having open and honest conversations with my loving and supportive husband. I have also come up with three positive truths about my body. When I start to feel or have negative thoughts, I go back to these three truths:

1. My body helped me grow a beautiful and healthy baby boy for 39 whole weeks! 

2. My body shown me that I am capable of doing hard things. ( morning sickness/ labor) 

3. My body has helped me nourish this boy for the last seven months, and that’s so magical!

Lastly, I truly believe that empowered women empower women. Seek those who will allow you to create your own definition of what a good mother is and will support you through it. I feel absolutely lucky to have found women who love me and support me in this way. On the hard days, they keep me going. 

Also, I make it a point to not only receive, but also to give. I love giving a compliment whenever I can to my fellow mamas. Sometimes I have even messaged complete strangers on Instagram because I read how they had “one of those days”. I have been there, and I understand what that’s like and sometimes it’s just nice to hear that you are doing a great job! Also, I encourage you to be vulnerable and as organic as you can as you engage in these relationships. I know it’s scary - I was scared when Lauren reached out to me about this. Self-doubt quickly rolled in but here I am practicing vulnerability and sharing my truth with you all. I dare you to try it. It’s truly liberating.

Going back to my roots, loving and embracing my new postpartum body, and women empowerment has helped me in my journey to living a more authentic and unapologetic life. This might look different for you and that’s okay. I’m here for it. I’m here for our differences because those are things that make us who we are. I hope that through your journey of Motherhood you are able to be your true self. That one day your children will know that they are worthy of love and being loved because they watched you fiercely do so. 

“I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly deeply seeing you.” -Brené Brown (The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto).

Thank you so much to Stephanie for sharing a truly insightful look into how to redefine beauty and strengthening your self-identity. These takeaways will help to build that foundation of motherhood that helps us to thrive, not just survive. As a recap, these are Stephanie's three steps:

Immerse yourself in your culture and allow it to strengthen your identity

Love and accept your body by recognizing it's blessings and strengths

Build an empowering community of women to give and receive love and support

August 17, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Loving Yourself Through Thick and Thin

I'm so happy to introduce you to my friend, Sara! She is still on her journey to becoming a mother and I'm so grateful she was willing to share her insights from her experiences!

Sara Speedy is a newly wed to Adam, her sweetheart! She is a junior-high art teacher which means you can typically find her in paint-covered clothes, inside and out of the classroom! Sara is a rice crispy connoisseur and plant-lady. She loves bringing home a new plant-baby almost every week! Today, she is sharing with us how she has learned to love herself through thick and thin and how you can too! 

Growing up in a house with four other girls had its ups and downs. Quite literally, a lot of emotional ups and downs. We all were a little crazy sometimes, my poor dad. I grew up in a loving home, it was a safe place for my sisters and me. We were cared for and our dreams were nurtured. Being little is such a breeze, and some days I really miss it. You don’t have a care in the world and you are just always happy. Can you imagine? That sounds pretty amazing. And some days I do feel that childlike love for myself, but nowhere near as often as I probably should. I want you to take a second and reflect and remember what it was like when you were little. How did you feel about yourself? How did you see yourself? What were your dreams? 

Looking back in my own life I remember how badly I wanted to be a veterinarian. I was obsessed with animals and was convinced that one day I would be just like the Crocodile Hunter. That was my focus, I wanted to rescue and help all of the animals that I could. As the years passed, hurtful things were said by others or by myself, and my dream shifted. While watching a movie or scrolling through instagram, I have noticed myself daydreaming about how I will make my body work for that swimsuit, or how to make myself a lot smaller than I am. Why is this now my dream? What happened? Well, a lot has happened. But I am here to tell you (and am still learning myself) that life can still be great even if those jeans you wore in high school don’t fit. 

When I was about 22 years old I was battling some demons. And not just your everyday I’m-in-college-and-am-so-stressed-out-and-haven’t-been-on-a-date-since-I-moved-here-demons. It was something that I couldn’t understand and it was ruining my life. I had constant mood swings, I had mental breakdowns almost every other day, and these dark thoughts were always hovering over me. I was eating like crazy and was constantly hungry and still losing weight (sounds great, right?) And for a while it was. Despite the fact that I was miserable, I loved that I was “getting skinny.” Little did I know, my body was actually destroying itself. 

After suffering for two years I was finally diagnosed with Graves Disease. Graves is an autoimmune disease that stems from your thyroid. My thyroid was producing too much hormone which was causing my severe depression and anxiety, making my body starve for nutrients, drop a lot of weight, and did I mention it was making my hair fall out? It was one of the darkest and hardest times of my life. I wanted it to end, but I also didn’t because I could finally go to Target and buy a size small. 

Soon after receiving treatment and adjusting to the prescribed daily medication, I noticed that my body started to change. It felt like I was a teenager again and couldn't figure out what the heck was going on. And worse of all, I couldn't fit in that cute shirt I bought at Target anymore. I was devastated. 

But why? I was feeling sane again, and those awful thoughts were finally subsiding. Why was I so upset? I was finally getting better, but I didn’t see it like that. 

As women, our bodies change, whether it’s a reflection of our choices or a condition out of our control. We think our bodies are never perfect. But what if they actually are? Our bodies do so many  amazing things. Our bodies allow us to get up every morning and go out into the world and make someone smile. Our bodies allow us to be together with family around the holidays. And our bodies allow us to find our own happily ever after. Our bodies do a lot, we just have to take a moment to recognize all that our bodies do for us. Having a positive appearance of yourself doesn’t take pain away. Oh how I wish that it did. 

And even if we have reached being an expert on loving ourselves, tragic things still do happen. 

What I am getting at is that I think we all (including myself) need to still love our bodies even if they don’t look how we think they need to look or if they don’t work like they normally should. 

There is also another dream that I had as a little girl. I didn’t only want to save the animals, but I wanted to be a mother. And even though that might not happen for me because of my disease, it doesn’t mean that I still can’t be. 

After I was diagnosed and on my road to recovery I noticed that a lot of really great things started happening to me. I was doing my student teaching at the time and was offered a position as a Junior High Art teacher. I was so excited! To some that may sound like being forced to do jury duty for the rest of your life, but for me it was the happiest day ever! 

My students mean the world to me, they call me their “Art Mom” which is one my favorite things in the whole world. But see? My body isn’t perfect, but I can still perfectly try to reach my dreams. And we all can do that if we love ourselves like we did when we were little. Let’s all be grateful for what we have and cheer others on even when we are hurting. Let's make it a goal to smile and help those around us. Let's all help each other reach our dreams, because even though we are all little girls, we can all still dream big. 

Thank you so much to Sara for being so open and vulnerable as she shared a little bit of her journey so far. She is such an inspiration to me and I know she is touching so many by sharing what she did today! As a recap, Sara suggests: 

See yourself through your inner-child's eyes and give yourself grace

Love your body and forget about what you think you should look like

August 10, 2020

Motherhood at a Glance: Balancing Life as a Working Stay-at-Home Mother

It brings me so much joy to publish this twelfth feature article. Twelfth! It has been such a pleasure getting to know these women better and to read about their strengths. Doing so has lifted me up in so many ways.  And, I'm thrilled to introduce you to today's writer, my sister-in-law, Capria Fullerton! 

Capria (or Capi for short), is living in Southern California with her husband, Kevin, and their two adorable babes, Kaleo and Ezra. She is an entrepreneur and small business owner working from home all while raising their boys. She loves spending her time with family, especially at Disney Land or the Safari Park! Capi is quite literally one of the sweetest, purest souls I've ever met and I'm so grateful she is my sister and friend. I know you will find so much inspiration from her feature today and hope you apply her steps on how to better balance your life as a working mama!

When I was very young, every night at 8 o’clock I would let my parents know I was headed to bed. My mind and body knew exactly what I needed and when, and it was as simple as listening to what those were. Nowadays, I’m not so good at daily schedules but I do still like having a plan and sticking to it when possible. 
When I was 16, I thought I had my life mapped out for the next 10 years. Teenagers seem to just know everything about life like that. As soon as I could drive, I knew my plan: transfer to a Charter school, get a job (or 3), finish my high school courses, go to college. Check. Check. Check. Somewhere along the way I’d find a loving husband and maybe start having kids by the time I was 25. That was my idea of the typical and full life that I wanted.

Fast forward to today. I’m 23 years old, a college graduate, running 2 small home businesses, happily married (to the PERFECT man I might add), and we have two small kids. Not so far off from what I imagined as a teenager! On paper, I’m just checking off life boxes. In reality, I’ve truly struggled with finding a balance between my own independence and becoming a mother. I’ve struggled with finding the line between self-care and selfishness. It’s a constant push and pull but each morning I put together a little mental checklist to help me prioritize what needs to get done.

First, I consider what kind of day my kids had yesterday. Was it full of fun activities or was it more of a laid back and watch TV kind of day? I truly try to limit the amount of screen time the boys get but we all know it can save our sanity occasionally. I try to keep it educational mostly, makes me feel less guilty. 

When it all comes down to it, I just want them to have a good day. Even if we have a rough day here and there, which is inevitable, I at least want us to end the day on some sort of good note. Whether it’s a little ice cream we share, a quick tv show, or even just a big hug to let them feel my love. 

Then, I analyze where MY energy level is at. What is practical for me to do today that won’t overwhelm me? Becoming a mother has really pushed me to my limits. Between carrying babies full term, losing sleep, nursing my babies, and trying to keep up with them is exhausting! I deeply cherish the bonds that I have with my boys and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love being able to be a stay at home mom for them and help them learn and grow! 

The reality of it is though, I’m not going to have the same energy everyday and that’s okay. My boys don’t need someone who is high energy every single day. What they need is a happy momma who they feel is a safe place for them. I’ve come to realize that if I put too much on my plate, I get crabby. Who doesn’t? Knowing my limits has really helped me stay consistent with my energy and be that safe place that they need me to be. 

This one, to me, is actually my favorite. But not in the way that you may think! I have 2 at home businesses; A baking business and a 100% real nail polish strip business. Two completely different areas but I love them both! It is stress relieving for me to spend all day baking a wedding cake in a crazy hot kitchen. It is equally stress relieving hoping on my social media to do a live sale of nail polish. This was the part of me before becoming a mother, that I couldn't part with.

It gives me an opportunity to think creatively and have conversations with real adults outside my immediate family. This is what allows me to reconnect and be the best version of myself for my husband and children. I have to give a huge shoutout to my husband in this section because I literally could not do this without his help. He is so supportive of me and my businesses, he knows what it means to me and he does everything in his power to make sure I’m at my best for our family and my customers. We make such a great team and I truly wouldn’t be where I am (mentally, emotionally, physically) without him, his love and his support! 

Lastly (and my least favorite), I assess my home and what chores need to be done. Chores to me are daunting because they never cease. There’s always something that needs to be done and we never have enough hours in the day to do it ALL. We came back from a long vacation recently and it’s taken me nearly a week to get all of our laundry washed AND put away. Let’s not even mention the dishes that are piling up in the sink right now. 

I will always pick soothing my child over finishing those dishes because he needs to feel that reassurance from me. I need him to know that no matter what, I will stop what I’m doing to take care of him. There is nothing more important in my day to day than making sure these boys know, without a doubt, that their feelings matter to me. That they are my everything. 

I’ll ponder these four things at night for the next day, or in the morning, to try and map out our day. It is important not to push myself too far because I know I will get crabby with my children and that is NOT something I want them to remember about me from their childhood. It is a day-by-day balancing act on what I’m able to accomplish as a mother, wife, entrepreneur, daughter, friend and sister. 

We have so many hats that we are blessed to wear, but it is always important to take a step back and really find out how many we can balance on our head without every one of them toppling over. At the end of the day, I just want my family to feel the love we have for each other and be truly happy. Dirty dishes and all!

Thank you so much to Capi for sharing her insights on how to better balance your life as a working stay-at-home mother. It really does all come down to tackling life day-by-day, litte-by-little. She truly is an inspiration and such a hard worker - that shines through this piece! As a recap, here are the four steps she takes to ensure she can have a successful day:

Consider yesterday and evaluate how that affects your priorities for today

Analyze your energy and offer yourself grace on the low-energy days

Review your schedule to prioritize the things that need to get accomplished first

Access your home but always put your children first