An Open Letter to my Daughter About Her Mother

Hi Sweet Girl,

My hands are clammy right now, and there’s a slight shake as they move across the keyboard.  I’ve got a pit in my stomach, and frankly, I feel like I could vomit.  I’m scared, I’m anxious, and I just want to get this right.  I’ve been thinking about writing this piece for over a year now.  Every time I think I find the courage, I end up talking myself out of it, worried about what others will think or say.  Over the past year, however, I’ve realized this has nothing to do with other people, and it has everything to do with me.  And in the future, you.  It’s become an itch I can’t scratch, and its time.  I don’t have an outline in my head for how this one will go, I’m just crossing my fingers tight that it will come out in a way that makes sense and has meaning. You and your brother are off playing at a friend’s house right now, your dad is at work, and I think I just needed the house completely silent and to myself to think this through.  No one needing me, no baby monitor buzzing, no one needing to be fed, and no toys clanging… just me.

No one knows I’m writing this. I’ve only ever talked about this to a few people in my life. While I should probably give a few people a gentle heads up, I’m scared I’ll get talked out of it. I don’t want permission from anyone. I need to do this for me. I need to own the experience, put it to rest, and move on.  I need to write down these raw and powerful feelings I have right now, because when you’re old enough to understand it all, I need to remember what’s reeling through my heart and through my head at this very moment.  I cant forget any more of it. I’ll eventually delete this post before you could ever find it, and I’ll share when I know we’re both ready, but today, I need to do this for me.

So, here we go.

Back in middle school I was terribly insecure and wanted nothing more in the world than to be popular and fit in. Not too uncommon, right? Sounds like just about every other middle-schooler. I went about trying to achieve that in just about every wrong way I possibly could though, and became friends with people who’s actions didn’t align with the person I wanted to be.  Ahh, middle school growing pains. My friends and I used to sneak out of the house at night all the time; one of our favorite poor choice activities.  We’d walk miles at 2:00 in the morning through neighborhoods just to meet up with boys.  Oh, how tempting and persuasive cute boys can be. Sweet girl, please don’t try sneaking out.  I can assure you I wrote the handbook and I’ll be two steps ahead. You have no idea how sick looking back at all this makes me feel now that I’m a mother myself.

One summer night a girl friend and I were up to our usual tricks and began our trek across town in the middle of the night to meet up with some guy friends.  After a few hours of TV and laughing in their basement, we began the walk back home.  As we winded our way through a neighborhood we were stopped by another friend’s older brother.  I didn’t know him well and rarely saw him, as he was a busy, attractive, 18 year old high school senior at the time. I just knew him as my friend’s older brother. He and his friend got out of the truck and began to make small talk with us, asking us why on Earth we were out so late and what our parents would think if they drove us home and told my parents what we were up to.  I wish I could recall with perfect clarity all the words that were exchanged next, but I can’t.  I’m not sure if it was a mechanism my brain has utilized to protect me, or if its normal memory wear of an event from 18 years ago. Maybe a little bit of both.

What I do remember, however, is being walked to a patch of yard in between two houses.  I remember the friend being a lookout in the street by their car.  I remember feeling helpless. I remember feeling scared.  I remember the white and blue pajama pants I had on. I remember how damp and cool the grass was. I remember thinking that with all these street lights someone surely has to be seeing this; with how close these two houses are, there are people a mere 20 feet away from me. I remember crying. And I vividly remember him saying how he wished girls his age could do what we were doing.  I was 12.

I don’t remember walking home.  I don’t even remember how my friend felt or reacted to all of this, as she was involved too.  I just remember me.  Thinking it was all my fault, and how I had already been letting my parents down so much that they could never find out.  Because it was my fault.  I didn’t scream.  I didn’t fight.  And in my 12 year brain, that meant I must’ve consented.

What happened next, honestly, was probably the most devastating.  The boy I was madly middle school in love with at the time found out.  While he “forgave me” for what I did, the damage was done.  As friends close to me found out and they shared their disgust and disapproval for what I did, the experience became cemented in my brain as something that was my mistake.  Something I should be ashamed of.  So I was.  The self-hate spiraled into an eating disorder I could use for control, and the experience held great significance in the beginning of my own sexuality.  I was already dirty, so who really cares anymore?

I held onto this self-loathing for many, many years to follow.  It hurts my heart thinking back on how long I held onto this. But then things changed my senior year of college.  I was stuck in the middle of loving two guys, and at the time I couldn’t decide who I was supposed to be with (spoiler alert: one of them was your father).  I felt so out of control, and it was at this time my eating disorder decided to rear its ugly head again.  After some not so gentle pushing by friends, I finally sought help and went to see a therapist.  Walking into his office was one of the most pivotal moments in my life.  After I got past the initial sessions thinking, “How could this old guy possibly understand anything I’m going through”, we got to work.  We kept digging and digging through past experiences, the people who have shaped those experiences, and my patterns of handling tough situations. We eventually stumbled upon my experience that summer night at 12 years old.  At first I was reluctant to share with full disclosure, because as embarrassed as I am to admit this now, I still felt so much shame at 22 years old.  I didn’t want him to judge me.  But I did it anyway. Oh, the breakthrough.  Things spilled out of me and were seen with such clarity like nothing I’ve ever experienced in my life.  Together we put the pieces of this puzzle back together, and for the first time, I was able to address everything from the other side.  As a 12 year old victim, that was taken advantage of by an 18 year old man, who wasn’t equipped with the maturity or cognitive ability to process things correctly at the time.

Since graduating and moving on from college, the experience kind of stayed at bay. I had made some peace with it, and finally got the courage to tell my parents.  It wasn’t until becoming a mother, becoming a mother to a beautiful and vibrant girl, that this all started to creep back up on me.  If I’m honest, sometimes it confuses me.  I can’t quite put a finger on how something that happened so long ago can still make my insides shake and my hands get sweaty, but it does.  Maybe by putting it all down, I can finally shake off this last lingering piece of it.

Sweet girl, there are some things I want you to know.  Things I need you to know.

I want you to know I will do everything in my power to create a body positive and sex positive relationship with you as you grow so that there is nothing that would ever be too much for you to share with me. I am always, always here to support you and champion for you.  There is no exception to that rule.

I need you to know that your sexuality is yours, and no one else’s.  There is no specific timeline, and no specific rules to follow.  I hope I can help educate you enough so that you will be empowered by your decisions.  As long as your decisions ensure your safety, are made with a clear mind, and are made because you feel it is what will make you happy and fulfilled, there is no shame in that, and I support you.  If our culture is anything like it is today, society may try and tell you differently, but sweet girl, please know that these choices are yours. 

I need you to know that consent means you have 100% agreement, that you’ve verbalized that very explicitly, and that you’re in a clear head and heart to do so. Anything less than that is not OK.

I want you to know that you can’t regret decisions if they were made by taking into account all the information you had available at the time. Looking back with new information and feeling guilt or shame gets you on a fast track to self-destruction.  We’re all human, and we have to learn somehow, right?

I want you to know that you are the only person who has permission to control how you feel about yourself.  You dictate your self-worth.  I remember so clearly one night an ex-boyfriend of mine in college told me that “he knew I was weak because I was battling an eating disorder”.  Oh sweet girl, let me tell you, I am anything but weak.  I dictate who I am too, and I know the word “weak” does not accurately describe any part of my being.

I need you to know that I love you with every fiber of who I am, and as I sit here next to you, watching you smiling up at me with wide-eyed innocence, I promise to do my very best to guide you in a way that encourages your confidence, self-love, self-awareness, and empowerment. You are wonderfully made, you are powerful, and you are fiercely loved.

I’m putting this all to rest now, and it’s liberating.  All I need is the courage to get these clammy hands to hit ‘Publish’. Thank you, sweet girl, for unknowingly waking a part of me that wasn’t fully asleep, and for continuing to teach me about myself whether you realize it or not.  For I too am wonderfully made, I am powerful, and I am fiercely loved.

All My Love,

Your Strong Momma.




Little by Little, a Little Becomes A Lot

This one is a little different. It’s not going to be me sharing my experiences in hopes of connecting with the hearts of others. It’s not going to be me attempting to share what I think is a little pearl of wisdom in hopes of helping someone remember they are doing a wonderful job.

This one is just a reminder.  A reminder that you and I – we can make a difference.  No matter how small something feels, it makes a difference.  A reminder that giving and kindness don’t have a cost a penny, and that when you work with those around you — little by little, a little becomes a lot.  

Back in October I challenged my Momtourage to bring that phrase to life.  I wanted us all to give back in some way that makes a difference to someone — and boy did they deliver.  It wasn’t done for recognition, and it wasn’t done to make ourselves feel good (although it does!). Many of the acts don’t even have pictures to be included below. It was done because for all of us, there are little eyes watching and learning.  Little eyes seeing the example we set.  Little eyes that will hopefully grow up with an instilled passion for giving.

We are five days into this shiny new year, and while the “season of giving” has come to a close — your acts of kindness don’t have to.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot.

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Troops overseas received toddler made holiday cards and care packages. 

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Several families across the country received full Thanksgiving dinners. 


Time was donated by many, helping shelters get essential goods into the hands of those in need. 


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Families found those in need in their communities and did something about it. 




Kids cleaned out their playrooms and chose toys to donate to hospitals and shelters. 

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Time was donated, for the sake of building bonds with those in the community who may need it.  


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Families across the country were “adopted” — food, household goods, clothes, toys, and living essentials were donated.  

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And then the donations poured in for shelters across the country -diapers, wipes, formula, and household essentials. 

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Together, we were able to make a difference.

Next up: keeping this giving spirit alive from January to October.🙂

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To the Toddler Momma Who Feels the Pressure

Dear Toddler Mom Who Feels the Pressure,

It doesn’t happen all at once, does it?  It’s more of a gradual mixing of equal parts pressure and mild panic.  It starts when you see Johnny’s mom post a sweet little video clip of him singing his ABC’s. Well that was cute! Maybe we can incorporate the ABC song into our bedtime routine. I know that one. One day at dance class you overhear some moms talking about how their daughters recently mastered counting and identifying all the numbers from 1-20 in preschool.  Hmmm.  That’s pretty impressive. They can identify them, too? I bet at least one of them still calls it ‘five-teen’. At a family gathering your mother-in-law pulls you aside asking what your plans are for little ole Bennie because she plays Bunco with this woman who’s cousin’s wife’s best friend just taught her three year old how to write his first AND last name with all letters facing the right way.  What the fuck? Isn’t his last name Lombardozzi? My kid only enjoys writing so he can see how much pressure it takes to snap the lead. Then there’s the hair on the camel’s back.  While at a play date with some of your mom friends, one of them shares her daily schedule for her 2.5 year old. Which is fine, except for the fact that includes a 35 minute block at 9 a.m. during which they use flash cards to practice sight words.  WHAT?! Too far, Karen. TOO FAR. 

This gradual mixing of pressure and panic has eventually gotten you to question the very competency of your role as mother.

My kid isn’t doing any of these things yet.  Should I start looking at preschools already? But I’m not ready.  Do I need flashcards? Yes, flashcards. Ok. But of what?! I don’t want little Bennie to fall behind. What do they even need to know before kindergarten? I have no idea. Can I google “shit to know before kindergarten”? Why can’t I get Bennie to sit for more than four freaking seconds to learn from me, anyway? Where do I start? Upper case letters or lower case letters? WHY ARE THERE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT CASES OF LETTERS? Should I send him to a private preschool to catch him up? I mean he’s clearly already fallen behind.  That’s it.  In the morning, I’m hiring a tutor.  Now where do I find a tutor for a two year old? I wonder if that Lombardozzi kid can come over before nap time? 

Oh Momma, I feel you.  I feel you because some days I am you.  My education and work experience is in elementary education, a lot of which has been working with at risk students.  Teacher Erica knows better than to feel this way, but Momma Erica understands the pressure.  For the past few months I’ve watched mom friend after mom friend send their littlest tots off to preschool with their adorable little backpacks, and I’ve internally struggled over when to send my own.  It can be a challenge to drown out all the noise around me and really get to the root of what is right for MY kids. But no more.  Teacher Erica knows better.

Please don’t misunderstand me, or feel offended by my words.  If you’ve stopped by here before you know me well enough to know that I wholly and completely respect your choices.  Maybe you’re starting preschool early so you can have some time to actually work your part-time job from home.  Maybe you don’t know anything about how to teach them when they’re that little and sending them off is what feels right for you and yours.  Maybe you can’t afford a preschool you feel good about, and sending them isn’t even an option.  Maybe your tot hasn’t been able to make any friends and you want her to gain some social experiences. Whatever your situation – whatever the reasoning for your choices – they are yours, and I support you whole-heartedly.  We all just want the best for our kids, right?

But to the Toddler Momma Who Feels the Pressure, I want you to let it go.  Let it go with me. Put on your blinders, follow your gut, and know it will be alright.  You want to know how I know?

Because they are toddlers. Toddlers who learn everything they need to learn right now through play.

They are toddlers who joyfully transfer water at the water table or sift sand through their hands for hours on end.  They are toddlers who love to jump, crawl, spin, climb, and sprint down aisles at the store.  They are toddlers who carefully watch everything you do, and tell you “I do it!” one hundred times a day as they begin to explore their new independence.  They are toddlers who are learning to share, and desperately trying to regulate their emotions when it doesn’t go their way.  They are toddlers.  And this is how they learn.

Before ABC’s and 123’s, they need to time and opportunity to think critically, apply, play with cause and effect, flirt with boundaries, communicate emotions, experiment with their physical capabilities, and workout their social muscles.  They need time to be bored so their imagination can fire. They need opportunities to question, to examine, observe, negotiate, be let down, learn responsibility, and gradually build their attention span.  They need time to watch you do all these things, as well.  Academics will always be there, I promise. There will always be books to read, teachers to listen to, and curriculum to follow.  Preschools today keep moving from play based to academic based, and while that helps us feel like we are giving our children a leg up in the short term, it is not always beneficial in the long term.  So if not preschool right now, then what? Right? The good news, momma? Most of this can happen authentically in your day to day life, and often times with little to none of your help.  They are toddlers. And this is how they learn.

Let them develop their fine motor skills through play so when they do get to school, they are able to hold their pencil with ease and cut with scissors like it’s nobody’s business. Bust out the chopsticks, syringes, spray bottles, and tweezers.  Encourage them to use their utensils at meal time correctly.  Wring out sponges full of water, rope Cheerios on a string, and transfer beads between bottles.  Build wobbly block towers, and let them hammer golf tees into the soft grass (with supervision!). Let them put coins in the parking meter, push pipe cleaners through holes in boxes, and let them pick up their peas at dinner using their pinchers.  Keep those little hands busy.

Take the time to teach them about their emotions and how to appropriately navigate them.  Emotional control is a growing concern with today’s youth, and putting in the work in this area is essential.  Guide them to recognize the differences between anger, frustration, sadness, joy, and empathy.  Name the emotions, and talk about your own feelings as you feel them.  Practice cool-down techniques, breathing techniques, and phrases that allow them to communicate these emotions.  Equip them so they don’t grow into adults who lack emotional control and struggle to succeed in the workplace and in relationships.

Give them opportunities to practice patience and delayed gratification.  Our world is so ‘I want it now therefore I need it now’.  Don’t give in the toy request just because they asked for it.  Put it on their wish list instead and let them earn it.  Teach them that sharing follows this concept too.  Sharing isn’t so much “I want it now, so you must give it to me”, but more of a “when you’re done using it, I’d really like a turn”.  When they demand your attention in the middle of you talking to someone else, teach them a signal or phrase that says, “I see you, and I will listen in a minute when I’m done talking”.  Aside from emergencies, not all of their wants and needs will be met exactly when they would like them to.  And that’s OK.

Let them explore and develop their gross motor capabilities so when they get to school they can sit upright in their chair with a strong core, and physically keep up with a full day of school.  Toddlers are made to MOVE.  Its what they do and how they learn.  It is quite literally what keeps their brains going. So provide those opportunities.  Let them climb rope ladders, walk a balance beam, bear crawl up a hill, jump on a (kid friendly) trampoline, and climb up to the big slide.  (And only when there’s no one else at the playground, let them climb up it, too🙂 ).  Teach them how to jump on one foot, skip, shuffle, do somersaults, dance, walk backwards, swim, kick, ride a bike, throw, and spin.  Don’t always catch their fall so they can learn their physical capabilities and boundaries. Let them scrape up their knees.  Let them PLAY and MOVE. They aren’t built to sit yet. They are toddlers and this is how they learn.

Teach them social etiquette and manners. The ‘please’s, ‘thank you’s, ‘nice to meet you’s, and holding the door open.  The ‘I’m sorry I didn’t mean it’s, ‘excuse me’s, ‘no thank you’s, and respecting personal space. Teach them how to wait in a line, how to say hello and goodbye, and how to wait their turn to speak in a conversation.  Let them order their own meal at a restaurant, and teach them how to start a conversation with new friends at the playground.

Let them be bored and let them learn to play independently.  Boredom can fuel imagination, as does being left alone to play with toys in whatever way you see fit.  They don’t always need to be entertained, nor should they always look to you for their entertainment.  Give them some toys or tools to engage with and let them do their thing! And when they are done, join in on the imaginative fun and spend a morning walking and talking as real life pirates exploring uncharted waters.

Give them opportunities to practice independence and self sufficiency.  I know, they are our babies and sometimes its so darn hard to give up, but if you’re wanting to raise capable and well adjusted adults – let them do it.  Let them attempt to get dressed on their own for as long as it takes for them to nail the difference between the neck and arm holes.  Tying their shoes, cutting their food (with kid friendly cutlery), washing their hair, brushing their teeth, preparing meals, making their bed, feeding the dogs, buckling themselves into the car seat (which then gets checked!🙂 ), and cleaning up after themselves. Our lives are so go go go these days that slowing down and taking the time to allow them this independence can be painstakingly brutal.  But its worth it one million times over.  Slow down, and let them do it.  They will still need you plenty, I promise.

Don’t always give them the ‘effect’ in cause and effect.  Let them discover that on their own sometimes as they exercise decision making abilities.  When you jump off the stairs one step too high, it will hurt. When you drop food off the table, the dog does get it.  When you refuse a jacket in the winter, you will get cold.  When you avoid dinner at all costs, you will go to bed with a hungry tummy.  When you’re mean to friends, they won’t want to play with you.  And when you won’t listen to mom and dad, there will be consequences.  Let them be teachable moments, and let them discover what good and bad decisions look like.

Set a strong foundation for kindness, compassion, and tolerance.  Teach them how good it feels to be kind and helpful to others.  Show them how rewarding it can be to be a good helper.  Demonstrate how to comfort someone who is sad, how to think of others’ feelings (this one takes a long time!), and how ALL people deserve kindness and love.  Recognize and celebrate differences between yourselves and family and friends.  Read literature with diverse characters and cultures.  Give them experiences that teach them gratitude for what they have and inspire a desire to help those less fortunate.  The world needs more of this, and you have the opportunity to be a catalyst for it.

This stuff doesn’t all show up on a preschool report card, but I promise you… its worth it.  These are the kinds of tools that need to be taught at this age so when it is time for academics, they will be ready to learn and thrive.

Still hung up on academics? That’s OK.  I am sometimes too.  We can’t fault ourselves for wanting to exercise those little brains.  And I’ve got more good news for you Momma.  You can teach age appropriate academics within the nuances of your everyday life – you just have to take advantage when they arise.  Teach counting with one-to-one correspondence at the grocery store by letting them put the tomatoes in the bag.  Count toes before putting on pajamas, birds at the bird feeder, slices of apple that still need to be eaten, and pennies they’ve earned for their piggy bank.  Teach directional words like over, under, bottom, and top while playing at the playground.  Teach them how to tell stories and elaborate on their day by Facetiming grandma and grandpa.  Slowly build up teaching them multi-step directions.  Start with one (“Put your cup on the table”), to two (“put your cup on the table and take your plate to the sink”) to three (“put your cup on the table, take your plate to the sink, then come here for a hug!”).  Point out colors in natural surroundings as you explore.  The greens of the grass, the blues of the sky, the red of the stop sign on your way to the park and the firetruck that squeals by, and the yellow leaves of fall.  Read fun counting and rhyming books.  Build critical listening skills by closing your eyes and listening closely for the differences between a plane and a helicopter flying by.  Play memory matching games, and recognize numbers as you play hopscotch, dial a phone, or read a clock together.  Let them count money to pay the cashier.  Incorporate talking about the weather in your morning routine.  Read read read, and read some more.  Better yet, focus on their relationship with books and make it one of comfort, happiness, and joy.  (Their future teachers will thank you!).  And no, a little Sesame Street never hurt anyone.🙂

Toddler Momma Who Feels the Pressure, you’re doing a wonderful job.  Your concern and care over the best for your child shows it.  If you feel overwhelmed, that’s OK.  I do, too.  We’ve got plenty of curriculum right here at home, huh? Let the pressures of ABC’s and 123’s roll off your strong shoulders for the moment, and remember its OK for life skills, playing with friends, and exploration to be your focus right now.  They are toddlers, and this is how they learn.  


One is Not Always the Loneliest Number

A week ago I sat down to start gathering my thoughts for this post, and at the time I had every intention of it following a similar format to previous posts of mine.  An anecdote or two, followed up by how I felt about it, and capped off with my pearls of wisdom that I learned from it.  The aim for the majority of my posts is to not only help me clarify my own experiences through the writing process, but they are written with hopes of letting other moms know they aren’t alone.  I cross my fingers that someone reads it and it breathes wave of relief into their chest as they are reminded that motherhood, while unique and individual, is also very parallel and shared.  Something that screams, “I feel it too, and I understand.  You are not alone”.  Something that allows someone to find a piece of themselves in someone else’s experience, too.

Like several of my prior posts, I reached out to my Momtourage beforehand to gather any of their thoughts or experiences with the motherhood lonelies. Message after message after message poured in illuminating the vast and varied forms this solitary feeling can take on, and I was holding twelve pages worth of candid and honest words that completely shifted my understanding of the topic.  Loneliness that stems from work or staying home, friendships, marriage to being a single mom, or the loneliness that comes from having to find a whole new identity as you try and grasp to pieces of your prior self. To write about my singular experience would be severely limited, and trying to integrate their thoughts into my narrative would be reckless.

So below (and with their permission), I’m sharing their experiences along with my own peppered throughout.  I’m hoping that through hearing our words, others can find comfort in knowing that the number one is most certainly not always the loneliest number.  

“My loneliness stems from being “just a mom”.  I’ve always worked a lot and its hard to have an identity and purpose when your sole purpose is being someone’s mom.  I struggle with relating to my husband and friends because they truly have no idea how hard it can be.  Its the best kind of work but its still work and I feel a bit discounted for the work I do.  Its so easy for the day to pass and you feel like you have accomplished nothing. Having commitments on the calendar (classes, play dates, whatever!) really help”.

“It’s all an adjustment learning how to go from no kids to one, from one to two and from working to staying home. They are all big changes! I feel like whenever something involves a struggle it can often be accompanied by lonely feelings.”

“I think being a stay home mom is the most wonderful gift but there are times when I feel so alone, like the lone soldier left on the battlefield! I also feel like I can’t say anything about the loneliness because my husband works very hard so I can stay home or to my friends that would like to stay home but don’t have the opportunity. Most of the time I would not give up the chance to stay home for the world but there are times that I feel very alone and those times I feel even more alone because I feel like I can’t say anything to people about it because it makes me sound ungrateful for the opportunity!”

“I think this is something that no one can prepare you for. You are always with baby, yet sometimes you feel so alone. In the early newborn phase I feel like it wasn’t as lonely because other people could soothe her and she was new and exciting so everyone wanted to help with her, so people were around more, asking about how WE were doing, etc. As she gets older, the newness has worn off and she knows other people, yet if I’m around, she only wants me, and it can be very lonely. No one seems to ask about how I am doing anymore, it’s all about her which is fine, she is awesome and I really love to talk about her too but I can pretty much guarantee no one really knows about anything going on with me outside of what’s going on with my baby!”

“Gosh, being a single mom is the loneliest I’ve ever felt in my whole life. Not only do I go to sleep by myself at the end of every long and trying day but I watched my son walk for the first time by myself, he rode his bike down the sidewalk and I cheered him on by myself, and with every accomplishment and milestone I celebrate by myself. Sometimes I feel grateful that I don’t have to share, but if I could just have someone curl up next to and the end of a long day and say “today he swam, all by himself!” I would be thrilled. I love being a mom, I love doing and being everything that my son needs, but I just would like to feel like I have someone to rely on other than myself”.

“I remember being on vacation with several other adults (all family including my husband), and baby girl would be crabby and need a nap or need to be fed or just need a change of scenery so without thinking much about it, I’d walk or drive around just her and I for hours sometimes to get her to sleep while the rest of the people got to hang out, take their time eating, drinking, having adult time … yet here I am essentially alone doing what needs to be done for my baby. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I cherish those moments because she only wants me and it makes me feel like I’ve done a good job loving her and she knows it, but sometimes I wish someone else would understand her needs like I do”.

“[an incident involving babe potentially getting hurt]… This incident just reminded me that no matter how many people are around, she is still 100% my responsibility. It’s all on me and I can’t truly count on anyone else to keep her safe because if I am there, everyone else thinks I’ve got her”.

“I have a great husband who helps out with the baby and yet I still feel alone. I know I’ll never truly be alone but the feeling that I provide my child’s daily food (at an impressive rate I may add), work full time with high expectations from my boss (or maybe I’m just continuing to hold myself to high standards?), and keeping up with the things that need to be done can be lonely. And on top of it the standards my husband holds for me regarding duties around the house and other things. Maybe the feeling of loneliness comes from us having a baby and his social life continues without any hesitation.  Maybe I feel alone because my list of responsibilities has grown and his didn’t”.

“My feelings of loneliness hit this summer when I was off work! I love being home and if my husband said I could stay home I would in a second, but none of my friends have kids! So NONE of them really get it! I see my sister in law with every one of her friends having kids and it makes me feel lonely. I’m trying to make more of an effort but a lot of the time it’s just little babe and me and as sweet as she is she doesn’t talk back to me yet!”

“I think as the excitement of having a newborn wore off and as routine set in, I noticed hubby starting to check out a little. He was perfectly fine with me doing everything (I was still on maternity leave) and he wanted to resume his normal social life again. But as hubby was gone more and more and little man started to get out of the newborn stage (aka not sleeping ALL the time), I started to experience a lot of loneliness. It seemed like I was doing everything to care for little man, continue to take care of our home, and I also had gone back to work. I felt like I was alone every weekend and a lot of weeknights (my husband stays very busy). I have learned from all of this that I need to say no, I need to ask for help, and I need to be honest! Becoming parents is an incredible privilege but it is also a very stressful and every changing time in your life and having a solid support system and team is absolutely essential!”

“Oh, the lonelies. I absolutely had them and still do. They first kicked in when the visitors stopped and my husband went back to work. I was busy caring for baby, my house and myself and full of joy and happiness – but lonely. It’s such a strange internal conflict to never be alone (NEVER!) and still feel lonely. The things that have helped the most are support groups. Real life ones that I got dressed and left the house to go to. It’s incredible what a safe space to talk to other women, nurse your baby, and change diapers all in one room (besides your house) can do to help those feelings. Going to visit friends at their homes is just as good when groups aren’t available. My online mom groups are invaluable too. Especially during a never ending middle of the night feeding or any other time when its not feasible to leave the house. Now, when I’m lonely, at least I don’t feel alone!”

“It’s so amazing that there is the whole new wonderful person in the world yet sometimes feels like there are now LESS people in your life. Friendships change, marriage changes, family dynamics change. Cray cray MILs are really the only constant!😉 I’ve felt lonely in a sense that I know my emotions regarding my baby are not replicated by anyone else. So my fears, whether valid or not, will not be the same for anyone else. So, it’s hard to find someone who understands because they really couldn’t. I want to say that this Momtourage has drowned out the loneliness for me on so many occasions. I think when new moms leave the hospital, their first order of business should be “Find a Momtourage!”

“I chose to move out of state for work after college, never expecting to meet my husband and start a family away from my own family. I’ve always missed my family but it wasn’t until I had my child that I felt verylonely without them all the time. Those first few months raising my baby without my own mother to call over anytime was the hardest. I love my husband but for me there were so many times when I just needed my mom there. I am also grateful for our Momtourage because it saved me from that loneliness many times”.

“I’ve noticed my loneliness stems from my struggle to make myself get out of the house and put myself first. Even if it is to run errands I find it difficult to just do it. I am someone who is okay being alone because being alone and being lonely are two very different things. I like my quiet time and very much enjoy it but loneliness is another beast. I miss the freedom some days of just doing something without having to think, just send a text that I was going somewhere and I’d be back later. I’ve noticed that since having baby girl I am less likely to reach out. I agree that doing something sounds nice but unless prompted I won’t push it and make it happen; very different from my typical self. I’m not sure if its exhaustion that influences all of this but I know that getting out has been helpful, meeting the ladies from our Momtourage was and is helpful and spending a few moments on the phone with my best friend is always amazing too. I think being a new mom is lonely because the only people who get it are the ones that are in the trenches with you”.

“Since I work, I don’t think I feel the loneliness the way you would if you are home, but sort of the opposite. When I have a busy week at work, and I’m relying on hubby to do the drop off and pick up/dinner time with little man, it seems like little man and I grow apart a little. He typically prefers my husband, but when I get stressed and busy at work, I know I’m not mentally all in at home either and sometimes not physically there to see him, and the wanting daddy gets even worse. I sometimes feel exhausted from having to put so much work into building my relationship with him back up again. Makes me feel lonely in some way if that makes any sense”.

“When baby girl was a newborn, at around 10 weeks, I thought about going back to work earlier than my planned 14 week leave. It was a hellish winter, I was in a town with limited friends, my husband traveled most weeks M-Th, and I was stuck inside with a newborn that I loved very much, but who was unable to give me much reciprocity for all the effort and love I poured into her. I felt bored, lonely, and unstimulated. I felt horrible for wanting to leave her and go back to work early. Now that I’m home again at 20 months, it’s a lot better. She is fun and active and we can get out more. But if I don’t make an effort to see friends, do classes, or at least get out with her, I feel very lonely and unstimulated. It helps greatly to have my parents nearby, too. Sometimes I just go over there with baby girl and do nothing more than I would at home, but it just feels good to have someone else around” .

“It can be very lonely to climb into bed alone at night after rocking a screaming baby to sleep. Don’t get me wrong, I love my baby more than anything in the world. But I do wish I had someone to sit down with and talk to after a long day. I was married to my high school sweetheart for a long time. And then I went through a very difficult divorce. I decided it was better to be alone than with someone who didn’t make me happy. Little man is better off with a happy mama. Loneliness is better than being unhappy. They are two completely different things. What combats loneliness is finding wonderful friends to surround yourself with. Support groups. Family. I’m thankful for things like our Momtourage. This is where I come to after my long day”.

“The lonely feeling for me always involves my husband being gone – work, trip, even running errands while I’m home. It usually involves monotony – stuck in the house during the winter or rainy days. I feel like a prisoner in my home those days and sometimes I want to just get out kid free to do SOMETHING! It intensifies when the kids are difficult or when I feel really motivated to do something but nothing pans out due to schedules or no one else being available”.

“What I struggle with is that I work all day so when I’m not at work, I want to be with my kids. I want a date night with my husband so bad, but all that means to me is more time away from the kids. I have tried not to miss my friends’ weddings, bachelorette parties, showers, birthdays, etc, but again, it means more time away from my kids. So time for JUST ME? Forget it! Its lonely.”

“One of the ways I find myself feeling very lonely is when it comes to missing stuff because you have to take care of the baby.  All the times we had family or friends over and I had to head up to bed long before everyone else because none of them are going on months without getting a full REM cycle and none of them have the responsibility of getting up at 6 a.m. with their game face on.  They all continue on laughing, eating, drinking through the night without a care in the world, and I’m upstairs trying desperately to hit three hours of straight sleep.  Have you ever been to a wedding and brought your kids? That’s usually a whole heap of loneliness.  The speeches at dinner are one of my favorite parts.  Because baby girl was overstimulated for too long.. guess who was having to wander the halls alone with her, missing all the dinner speeches? Unless a lot of your friends and family have their own kids present, chances are you’ll be missing out on interactions and fun you desperately want and need. As helpful as husband is, its usually on mom, and its a very lonely feeling”.

“I’m a stay at home mom and I go through stretches where I feel very trapped and alone.  The walls of our main living area can be like a jail cell if we aren’t getting out enough.  And its not always because we don’t try to get out… we do. But nap schedules don’t always align, between the two of them there’s a good chances someone is teething, or has separation anxiety, or refused a nap and has subsequently grown horns… there’s always something.  We schedule regular play dates with other moms and kids I adore, but unless your kids are a bit older, the level of attention and conversation you can really give each other is very limited.  You’re there with each other, but there are still very busy kids running around that need attention and tending to”.

“I married a man from the town I went to college in. So after college all my closest girlfriends moved out of state or back home while I remained in my college town. I had my first child in my mid twenties when most of my friends were still single, let alone even thinking about marriage! At the time, I think I imagined that motherhood and having a baby might fill that void of loneliness in my heart but I quickly realized that, though the love you feel from and with your child is like no other love imaginable, it still left me feeling lonely and isolated from the adult friendships I had had for so many years. It’s just so hard to connect with your “old” friends when they are still spending late nights at the bar and you’re spending late nights feeding and nursing a baby. You’d try catching up but their stories were of crazy drinking adventures and your stories of were of an explosive diaper and hearing your girls’ first real giggle. I’m a working mom and most of the women I worked with at that time were older and their kids were in high school or even my own age! I just felt like I didn’t have anyone to connect with. It took awhile but I finally had felt that on my second child and changing jobs helped me to finally meet some great mommas who were in the same stage of life as me. I so thankful for these friendships now that I know there’s others going through the same things as me! And in a way, it’s also empowering for me to have had a child earlier than most of those friends because I feel like I’ve already been there, done that and can give them the support I wish I’d had at that important time in my life”.

“I feel lonely and isolated with the girlfriends I’ve had since childhood. I was the first to get pregnant and start a family, and two babies and several years later I am still the only one with kids.  Maintaining those friendships and keeping a common ground to connect on has been incredibly challenging. The more time passes, the more I feel like we have less to connect on. I get sad and down on myself because I keep thinking, “motherhood in and of itself shouldn’t determine your friendships – step it up!”.  But the honest truth is, for me, it does play a big part.  I stay home.  My job is my kids right now.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world, I have plans to go back to work, and I know its a short season of my life, but when my entire day every single day involves my kids right now, I don’t have an extensive list of other things to talk about.  I’m not traveling the world at the moment.  I’m not interviewing and taking new jobs.  I’m not dating. My entire wardrobe is from Target.  And I can’t go out trying all the new restaurants and bars.  My job is very rewarding, just not in a way they can understand or really care about right now.  When they ask how I’m doing (which seems far and few now) I feel like anything I really say won’t be understood, ya know? Motherhood and friendships – there’s no handbook for this thing!”

“As we continue to struggle with me returning to corporate America I continue to feel alone. If I decide to stay home my husband will resent my decision, me putting my child in daycare has my mom itching in her skin. And I’m lost in the middle. I like being mentally challenged but I love my little. I just wish everyone would put their bias and opinions to the side and recognize what a hard time it is for a new mom to find their new identity – and that that identity might push the family outside comfort zone”.

“I miss quality time with friends. In the hustle bustle of caring for a bunch of young kids during an afternoon/evening/weekend together, I often find myself thinking, “Gosh, I didn’t get to talk to Susie (or whoever) for more than two minutes at a time and we didn’t talk about anything ‘real’. I miss the connection uninterrupted time affords. And though I see my friends and love them, I sometimes feel less close to them now”.
“My husband has been on the midnight shift essentially since our baby was born, and it has been really hard. He helps out and is very hands on, but he needs his sleep. He doesn’t have a sleep schedule so he sleeps when he can, but I feel so lonely. I am with both kids during the night (who both wake up), by the time they get up in the morning he’s already back asleep and every day after dinner he needs a nap before work so I am also the one doing bedtime alone. He does help watch the kids some days, but it’s while I am at work so I actually am not the one getting to spend time with him. Needless to say having a newborn and a midnight shift has been quite the adjustment!”

“For the first two weeks my husband was so helpful. We were sharing duties and slowly that faded away. You think you’re going to be this cute little family but then reality hits and I’m the one doing all the baby work. We are the only ones of our friends with a baby. Some days I just feel trapped. I am with little man seven days a week all day everyday and mostly by myself. My friends are not at the same place in life as me. I am by myself all the time. I feel like I go through some days doing what I know I have to do but I am kind of sad on the inside. I see pictures on Facebook of all the fun activities that people do with their kids and I get kind of sad because I don’t have anyone to do it with. No one I know has kids and no one is home during the week. Because we don’t have anyone to babysit I am working weekends. So when people would be home..I am at work”.

“Just having our Momtourage has made a big difference in the isolation factor! Just hearing about others’ experiences/questions can give a temporary break from a monotonous day. I actually think I have a really great balance with a part-time schedule and an awesome, supportive boss, but even those days I’m home can sometimes seem long. From the very start even with just one kid I have felt cooped up when in the house all day, so I almost always get out with a mix of kid-friendly activities and errands. Then of course I sometimes feel like I’m not giving them enough “quality” time at home, but I think keeping myself sane is probably just as important!”

“I feel loneliness in a different way, like I’m missing out on other “mom” activities. Coming from a mom who also works outside of the home, I get kinda bummed when other moms can do play dates together or go to the zoo, etc. during the day. I love what I do and I wouldn’t have it any other way right now, and I know that’s not the reality of every day being a SAHM I just miss the interaction. Or feel like I’m depriving my child of doing these other fun things. And then on the weekends like I’m sure everyone else we have to clean and run errands and just want to spend time with our families all together, so it’s hard to plan stuff on the weekends too – especially in the summer. So I feel loneliness because I don’t get to hang out with other moms”.

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*A special thank you to my Momtourage.  Not only have you combatted my lonelies on so many occasions, but you are so doggone reliably honest. Wonderful and powerful things happen when women support one another, and sharing your experiences so candidly opens the conversation for others.  I love and adore the freaking heck out of you.

Goodnight, Sweet Boy

We begin our nights the same way. Every night.  You and me.

You squirm and wiggle the entire way through the pajama and diaper change.  We get cozy in our chair with a book, and I begin to attempt to read.  It usually lasts no longer than 20 seconds, as your only aspiration is the timely and utter destruction of the book in hand.  I put it down and try not to get frustrated.  You’re a baby and you’ll get there.  I know.

We get up to turn off the light and turn on the white noise.  The calm and tranquility blankets itself over your room once again, and we return to our chair.  This time you nuzzle up close and let momma’s milk fill you up one last time.  You’re quite the busy eater.  Pinching, kneading, and tugging at any inch of my skin you can find. I’d be lying if I said it’s enjoyable, but I know its how you soothe yourself and I take my mind elsewhere.

It’s when you’ve dried up the last drop that the real work begins.  Unlike your sister who used to let me rock her for as long as I desired, once your meal is through, you insist on me standing and bouncing back and forth with you.  There is no comforting swaying in the chair.  Not for you, sweet boy.  Maybe you’re just trying to help me avoid that kink I used to get in my neck with your sister from falling asleep slumped over holding her in the chair.  Or maybe you’re just doing your part to help me reach my weight loss goals. With my feet shoulder width apart, your head resting in my arm, and your bottom cradled in my hand – we begin our bed time dance.

I’ve done this so many times with you that over time I started to count each sway every night.  Like a way of letting me know how long I’ve been bouncing.  Otherwise it can feel like time stands still in that room as I stare at the same books on your shelf, and the familiar pictures hanging on your walls.  Each sway gets a count.  Will it be a 60 count night? Or a 150 count night?


I begin to take inventory of our day together.  What we did, what you enjoyed, where you struggled, and what I think you may enjoy tomorrow.  Often times you’re happiest when you’re playing independently.  You love to explore the playroom, taking great care in analyzing every toy and how it works.  Oh, do I love watching you explore.  You’re pulling up on everything and love to scale across furniture; maybe tomorrow I’ll bring up the little stand and push dinosaur your sister learned to walk with. Because let’s try and make you even more mobile..?


You’re still trying to grab at my hair and smack at my chest.  I start to get a little restless on the inside.  My mind jumps to everything left I need to do before I can lay my head down too.  Dishes need to be loaded in the dishwasher.  A load of laundry needs to make its way to the dryer.  Get the dogs some more water.  Close the blinds and lock up.  Find sister’s sippy hiding in the playroom. That thing had milk in it.  Grab a cookie as I head up.  Aaaannnnd maybe a glass of wine to wash it down with.  Close those eyes sweet boy, I’ve got things to do and my legs are burning.


You’re beginning to look mighty drowsy now. Your blinks are starting to linger around awhile longer, and your busy hands have calmed. Everyone who has sleep advice to offer would insert the [this is where you lay him down] here. I know.  I’m supposed to lay you down now so you continue to soothe yourself to sleep. We’ve done that before. A few months back we had to; it helped us go from waking every hour or two to only once a night. I know what I’m supposed to do. Just twenty more sways.  I’ll lay you down at 80.  Twenty more and then I’ll go.


You’re intoxicating and my feet are encased in cement. I can’t leave you.  I’m too busy studying your face and admiring your eyelashes.  I stare intently and wait for the little sleep smile you sometimes do. The queen of Motherhood Irony sure has a sense of humor.  Plus, your tiny fingers are wrapped snuggly around my shirt collar ensuring I won’t leave you without you knowing about it.  I can’t leave you. Not just yet.


Because your sister used to always let me hold her and cuddle her, I felt like she could feel how much I loved her.  Like it was somehow transferred through my skin into hers, and my love would be injected directly into her bloodstream.  She could feel it. You’re a busy one, though, sweet boy.  Calm cuddles are nearly nonexistent.  Its in this moment while you are now fast asleep (and my legs no longer feel like they belong to me), that I am overcome with a burning obligation to tell you how much I love you.  I need to say out loud all the promises I will continue to make to you.  How heavy my love for you is to carry because there’s just. so. much. of. it.  Thinking it isn’t enough.  I have to tell you.   I whisper ever so softly, and I imagine my words floating with feather-like delicacy into your ears.  The unicorn and rainbows part of my brain tells me that my words will float directly into your head and integrate themselves into your dreams.  If I whisper it all out loud, I’ll be able to sleep peacefully knowing your dreams will be filled of nothing but all the warmth my love can bring you.  Sweet boy, I love you so.

Its time for me to go now, and I give you one last gentle kiss on the forehead.  Soft enough so I don’t dare wake you, but firm nonetheless…. just in case some more of my love transfers that way too….

Good night, sweet boy.



An Apology Letter To All My DINKS (Double Income No Kids)

To all my favorite DINKS,

There it goes.  Another RSVP checked “will regretfully decline and celebrate from afar” for an out of state wedding. This one hurt. Bad. A wedding I want to be at. Should be at.  And I genuinely mean what I checked; I will celebrate from afar. There is a lot to celebrate, my love. And not just how stunning you’re going to be in white, but how you’ve snagged a man that is the perfect snap to your ginger.

Two weeks ago it was the same dark fate for a bachelorette party. A celebration for a woman I love from the tip of her bright blond hairs on her head down to her perfectly polished feet (seriously.. she spends a lot of time on them). It is with a heavy, heavy heart they were sent.  Please don’t think I checked “no” quickly. Don’t think I didn’t mull it over for days and weeks and talk logistics with all players that would be involved. Don’t think I didn’t go into our bank account and look ahead at our upcoming monthly budgets. Don’t think I didn’t go into my measly little freezer stash of breast milk and count every single ounce. Don’t think I don’t want to be there. Not for one second. Whatever you invite me to that involves a celebration of you, the answer is always yes, I want to be there.

I know what you’re thinking.  “I hate when women become mothers and then totally lose track of themselves and never put themselves first”. Or, “If she really loved me, she’d find a way. Just because she had a kid shouldn’t change much”. Or something like, “God I swear when I’m a mom I am going to be the exact opposite of Erica”.🙂  I know. I know, because before I had kids I thought the same things. Trust me. I know. 

Unfortunately, its just not that simple. Oh how I wish it were.

I was the first of us to get married. The first of us to have kids. And as much as I love that in some ways, it also kinda really sucks in others. I love that I get to keep that “I’ll do it first and then tell you all what to expect ahead” dynamic. Keeps me feeling like the older sister to go to for advice. But I hate that until you all get here, you really can’t understand. You just… can’t.

So I’m feeling compelled to try and show you. Maybe you already know all these things, but I’ll sleep a little easier knowing I got it off my chest. Knowing that you know its a not a simple act of “I don’t really care enough to be there” when you see a ‘no’ pop up in your mailbox.

I’m a stay at home mom, which is one hundred and fifty percent our choice. We knew money would be tight. We knew we would have to make sacrifices. We knew we would need a budget to stick within. But for us, at this season in our life, this is what makes sense for us. I read an article the other day that laid out how it costs around $650 to attend a wedding these days if there’s any travel involved. Add a husband and kids and that number skyrockets. Bachelorette parties today are usually an entire weekend at a destination hot spot. So. much. fun. But for me – so. damn. expensive. Add in the bridal showers and gifts for everything, and you’ll see the sweat start dripping off my brow. For being so tiny, kids sure do know how to make you spend those dolla dolla bills, ya’ll. Apparently they need to go to college someday? The truth is, we just don’t have $10,000 of extra disposable income to spend in one summer for weddings and all they entail. I could put it on the credit card and say we’ll pay it off one day, but I’m trying my damndest to be fiscally responsible and keeping our family afloat. Those combined student loans of ours are a killer. Thanks a lot, Sallie Mae.  Please know that my love for you is not tied to how much money we are able to spend. If it were, I’d be best buds with the loan officer at Chase and I’d be taking out those loans on the reg. Trust me.

Then there’s that whole issue of who’s got my babies? We don’t have any family in town to come babysit for the day. A lot of our family is out of state, and when I’m truthful and honest, the only people I’m comfortable leaving our kids with for a weekend while they are still so bitty is my parents. And hot damn do they have a busy social life on the weekends too! I know. Branch out. Hire babysitters. Leave them with other family – they’ll survive. I know. I know, I know. But do you know how much a good babysitter today costs? (The good ones, not the Craigslist ones.) And I don’t want my kids to ‘survive’ a weekend away from us right now. I want them to feel at ease and at home when mom and dad are gone, and having all the stars align for that to happen is equivalent to me at the driving range. I’ll swing all damn day, but its usually a bunch of misses.

Not only do we have a certain amount of night and weekend chips to cash in with my parents, but a lot of those chips need to be spent on us. The daily grind of working and two babies over time can easily wear on a marriage. It takes a conscious commitment and dedication to putting in the time and effort. Which means time alone to reconnect and just be us. So as much as I want to spend all those chips on you guys, I also have to be conscious of keeping our marriage happy and thriving. Sometimes what little vacation money we have each year will need to be spent on us. And I can’t feel bad about that. I just can’t.

Bring them? Ha. The only thing worse than spending outside your means to attend a wedding is not being able to spend an ounce of attention elsewhere during the wedding and then having to leave no later than 8 p.m. because once they hit overtired… well, its some modern day exorcism shit.

Aside from the other things like Matt’s work schedule that sometimes includes weekends (which sometimes includes little notice), accommodations for the dogs, breastfeeding and pumping concerns, this current night time hiatus that includes teething and a sleep regression, my new social awkwardness, and back up plans in case things fall through – there’s this paradoxical & insanely ironic mindset that can befall parents. That burning yearning to just get away we have so often, is just as quickly met with that burning yearning to be with your kids. To not miss a minute of them. We might complain and have hard days and just. want. to. sleep – but the second we are gone, we want nothing more than to be back with them. Its insanity.

I know I seem like Carmen San Diego lately, but I promise with my whole heart, I will be there for every single thing I can be. Just bare with me. Remember its not a reflection of my love for you. And one day I will make it up to you – I can assure you of that. And it will most likely be when my kids are in school and I sleep through the night; I will come to your rescue as your newborn has you crawling out of your skin in tears. I will make it up to you. I promise.

Please don’t compare me to other moms out there you see, either. You’ll find that every mom, and every mom’s circumstances are as different and unique as their babes. We all have our strengths, all doing the best we can.

Don’t give up on me just yet, friend. Remember I am here for you, ready to help in any way I can, and I will most certainly be celebrating you from afar when I can’t be there holding your hand.

So many hugs and smooches,


[This letter also applies to all of my single friends with no children. Because my single friends make about as much money as most double income households anyway.  Smart bastards.]


Maybe The Problem Isn’t Failure To Love Myself

I’ll be twenty nine years old next month.  Five months postpartum with our second tiny miracle. Before my husband and I decided to try and bring our offspring into this world, I can say with confidence I genuinely loved myself.  Loved myself in the way Dove commercials, inspirational Instagram quotes, and your mom tell you to love yourself.  By the ripe age of twenty six, I was happy with the skin I was in.  Most days.🙂

The thing is, it was a really long road getting there.  You could argue a twenty six year long road.  In middle school I finally accepted the fact that my round face was not the ideal canvas to put short hair on.  Longer hair suits me. I was forced to come to peace with the fact I will never be an American Idol, after singing, “Hello, Mrs. Marsh” one time in choir class warranted several looks of horror from my classmates. FINE, I’ll stick with sports. In high school I finally accepted the fact that my breasts were done growing, and this was it. There was no holding out for one last growth spurt.  I better love them in all their barely a B cup glory.  In college I finally came to terms with the fact that my butt was not going anywhere, and this round goodness was here to stay.  Pants are sometimes still difficult to buy, but lucky for me big ole booties are back in.  Thanks a lot, Nicki Minaj. Chalk one up in the win column for this girl. It wasn’t till recently that I finally accepted the fact that my nose will never, ever photograph well. From any angle. But it’s all good – it fits me.  And if I’m going to be bare boned honest, some days I’m still working on the fact that no matter how in shape and fit I am, my thighs will always be a little thicker. And by thicker, I surely mean strong.

I’m not complaining about any of the above. I am not in a place where I strive for the kinds of perfection magazines, television, and celebrities tell me I should aspire to.  It took twenty six years for me to evolve into a place I love, and I’m happy here.  Most days.🙂

Then I had children.  In nineteen months I had carried and birthed two exceptionally wonderful children. Healthy pregnancies, and healthy babies.  Between pregnancy and postpartum recovery my body, like all women’s bodies, went through an awful lot.  Stretched hips, fired up sciatica, feet changing size, hair loss, dark spots on my face, swollen extremities, larger breasts that then deflated back down, a perky butt that had fallen right off, and abs that were hidden under a glorious little mom pooch.  Weight was redistributed into different areas, and at the end of those nineteen months, the old me that I worked twenty six years on and grew to really love was no longer who I saw in the mirror.

Cue the well intended postpartum advice.

“You have to embrace and love this body – it gave you your beautiful baby!”

“Be proud of those stretch marks and mom pooch – they are your battle scars!”

“You just need to love yourself. Your body is amazing!”

It makes sense. It makes great sense. I myself have given that advice a time or two. And it sounds so simple. You just love yourself – that’s it.  But it’s taken me two trips around the child merry-go-round to realize that it can be incredibly frustrating to feel like if I didn’t immediately love this new body I was looking at, it somehow equated to me not being grateful for what it gave me.  My body IS amazing.  I AM proud of what it went through and what it has given me. I WOULD do it a million times over to get my sweet little babes out of it. And I DO love myself.  The problem is, in less than two years the “myself” I’m used to seeing, the one I worked on for twenty six years to love, went through repeated monumental changes and she had all but vanished.

It wasn’t me caving into the pressures of getting my pre-pregnancy body back – I don’t care that I don’t look like Kristen Cavallari.  It wasn’t me feeling like I needed to bounce back immediately so my husband would think I was still beautiful – he did anyway.  It wasn’t me trying to shed any evidence that I had carried children – I’m proud of what I went through. At the end of the day, I just wanted to identify with the person I had finally grown to fully love.  Some of those qualities that shaped her. I wanted to wear my old jeans not because it meant I had lost the weight, but because those jeans have been my favorite for years.  I wanted to workout not just to shed weight, but because I loved how perky my butt once was and I missed it. I wanted to shed some weight not because I think I’m overweight or unworthy in my current form, but because I’ve been an athlete my entire life and I wanted that strength back.

The road to becoming a mom is without a doubt one of the most life-altering, world-changing, OH-MY-SHIT, experiences we will ever go through. Friendships change. Marriage dynamics change. Our personal time. How we are able to recharge. Our social life. How we sleep. And the college degree worthy amount of information we must learn on the job. All changes that happen simultaneously. Immediately. So let’s let new moms breathe for a minute or two.  Let’s let them get acquainted with what their days and bodies now look like instead of shaming them into thinking self-love should happen over night.

When it takes so many women quite a significant amount of time to fully and whole-heartedly love themselves, why do we expect new moms to love and embrace all these new changes immediately? Maybe the problem isn’t failure to love myself, maybe its just giving me a few minutes to breathe and get used to this new “myself”.