Things that matter.

 

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As a mom you have a long list of things that matter. Keeping your kid alive, or your spouse sometimes. Making sure the house is in order and there is food on the table. I can add to my own personal list right now, making sure that I am on top of my school work and that my responsibilities are taken care of. I have sat and thought about this list many many times over, questioning it or worrying about it. I am constantly thinking about how I can be better for those around me, down playing the desires of my own heart or the things that bother me. Somehow I have justified making myself sound like a crazy person in my own head, thinking that if I truly shared my heart everyone around me would think I was nuts for even thinking about whatever it is I am thinking about. Tonight I was talking to my husband while he was working, sharing my heart as I was having a rough first day of school, and to be honest, a pretty stressful week in general. He point blank told me over the phone, “I know that you think you’re crazy, and I want you to know that you aren’t.” Woah. What? Someone heard my self-proclaimed crazy thoughts and didn’t think I was nuts? And right then and there this idea popped into my mind, those things, those thoughts, they matter.

I felt compelled to share this because I know that this isn’t even a mom thing, this is a human thing. Generally a woman thing, if I’m being totally honest. We are by nature a tad more emotional, and have been told for the majority of our lives that our most passionate moments can be chalked up to hormones or our feminine spirit. We have been muzzled and told our thoughts are irrational, and I’m here to say that those thoughts matter. Yes, we do have more hormonal moments then most, blame SO MANY THINGS for that, but our thoughts stem from legitimate concerns we have or thoughts we have been pondering, and they aren’t always what the world would deem important but even still, they are.

As a mom there are quite a few things I don’t share often with anyone that I genuinely struggle with on a daily basis, I feel it’s important to share those things here. I am told that I need to “not care” about how I look, because I am a mother who grew a human and it’s okay, well guess what? I care! It’s a struggle, daily, and I definitely know I’m not alone. It’s not only a body issue, but it’s a clothing issue as well. Like I mentioned in a previous post, Sailor and I don’t really nurse in the day time anymore, so I don’t have to worry so much about this now, but for the past 10 months it has been my daily thought, what am I going to wear? You literally go from being hugely pregnant, to fluffy and uncomfortable and breastfeeding. Your clothes already don’t fit and on top of that, you have to find something that makes nursing your hungry infant possible wherever you are. You no longer can put on that cute dress or that adorable top, not only is your sleep schedule and social life completely dominated by an 8 pound baby, but you can’t even dress yourself anymore. Guess what guys, that stuff, it totally matters. Another thing I struggled with, and still do honestly, in my postpartum journey, is connecting with other women. It is so easy to say that you don’t matter, and having friends isn’t important anymore. To verbalize that you think you need a girls night, or just a coffee date, when your husband is the hardworking provider, is freaking hard. It took me months to admit that to Chris and when I did he was immediately accommodating. He didn’t call me crazy or hormonal for even getting emotional when I told him, he said how can I help.

I share all of this because I think it’s important, especially as a mom, to understand that those things you think about all the time, they matter. You matter. This is a conversation I have all the time with my husband, he will say something that hurts me, unintentional sure, but it’s still painful. We sit down and I explain that to him, that even though you think what you said was okay, it doesn’t mean it hurt any less. I feel like that translates straight into this issue of understanding your thoughts are important, your worries aren’t crazy and your insecurities are absolutely real. Not everyone is going to understand why that thing you are thinking about right now bothers you so much, but that’s okay, as long as you are learning it’s okay to verbalize those things. It’s important to share when you are hurting, no matter what it’s about. It’s important to value your thoughts and opinions. It’s SO important to give yourself the breathing space you need to figure out how to make it better. You are absolutely allowed to crave time away, and to think about the end of breastfeeding with excitement instead of acting like a martyr. The truth is every mom thinks those things and to lie and say we don’t is a shame.

From one mom to another, I want to say that all that stuff, it matters. Deeply and truly. You deserve to feel empowered in womanhood and motherhood, so you can be a fabulous mother, spouse, partner and friend to those around you. Don’t turn into a silent housewife that never shares how she truly feels, learn how to be confident and speak up. Don’t be aggressive or angry, but be patient and tender. Your thoughts are worth hearing and if you don’t have someone to vent with or bounce ideas off of, please message me (ashlee.churm@gmail.com). I love talking to other moms, especially ones I haven’t personally met. Keep being amazing, because even if you don’t feel like it right now, you are responsible for keeping a kid alive and THAT is saying something. Share, don’t stop feeling and remember that on top of it all, YOU matter.

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Finding “You”.

So becoming a mom has been massively transforming. Like in all areas. There have been massive physical changes on top of a plethora of mental and emotional changes as well. My days are no longer my own and my plans are no longer simple, it’s exhausting and rewarding. It’s amazing and awful. It sounds harsh but there are days where nothing feels right or normal anymore. You feel out of control and incapable. It’s more than tough, sometimes it feels impossible, and in the midst of it all we are expected to find ourselves. We are pressured to become “moon goddesses” or “mom bosses”. We are supposed to fully embrace this new mother person we have become after one of the most physically traumatizing moments of our lives, which is a pretty incredibly metaphor honestly. That moment of birth is the beginning of so many things as a mother. It is the beginning of your new body, your new mental capacity, your new and all-encompassing role of “Mom” to this little person. You aren’t fully yours anymore and that can be incredibly terrifying, at least it has been for me.

Sailor turned 9 months old the other week. A whole 9 months outside of the womb, just as long as he sat cozy in there cooking away. He has become his own person, he is discovering his voice, his legs, his hands, and everything else he can grab/touch/see. He is amazing and wonderful. Through his little eyes I had this realization that in the midst of him blossoming into his own little person, I have slowly been losing myself. I have become the slightly fluffy, perpetually exhausted, incredibly emotional woman, who maybe resembles who I was before in some ways but has completely forgotten who I am at the root of it all. I struggled with the concept of choosing things for myself, feeling some weird sort of guilt when I chose to do something for me instead of Sailor. When I first fed Sailor a bottle of formula it came after 3 days of my milk not coming in and him literally not getting any sustenance post-birth. He wouldn’t latch and nurse and I would just shake it off like it was normal, not wanting to become that emotionally charged mom that worried about every little thing. Then came his first well check-up, where he weighed almost 2 pounds lighter than he did at birth, and oh my word the guilt I felt. It was gut-wrenching and overwhelming. They told me to go back to the hospital to make sure he wasn’t jaundiced, they pricked his poor feet over and over again trying to draw enough blood but were struggling because he was so dehydrated. I could hardly handle it and yes I cried, A LOT. They told me to start supplementing his feedings with 2oz. of formula for at least 2 weeks and just like that my dreams of being that “crunchy” momma with her exclusively breastfed baby were thrown out the window.

If I’m being completely honest, that’s when I started to lose myself in motherhood. It’s when I pushed myself to breastfeed Sailor as often as he wanted, even if it meant waking up every 2 hours all night long for 7 months. It’s what made me hyper aware of every cry, and it’s what gave me “permission” to pick him up all day, everyday whenever he crawled over to me. It’s what consumed me in the day to day of child rearing and I became the frazzled sort of person I am today. Only recently have I realized how backward it all is. No, I’m not saying that ignoring your children or not trying to give them the best you can is bad, at all. I’m saying letting it consume you as a person, allowing for yourself to fall head first into a whirlpool of “baby” is not okay. In order to be good mothers, we need to know who we are outside of motherhood. We need to have loves and passions and dreams, or else how will we teach our children to do all of those things? I want Sailor to grow up with a mother who is loving and caring, but also strong and motivated. I want to show him it is possible to achieve your dreams and to do something that you love for the rest of your life. I want my future children to see that it is possible to marry and love your best friend every single day. But like I said, in order to accomplish all of those things I needed to find myself, and I think I’m starting to.

When I started writing this post I honestly had no idea where it was going, but now I sort of see it. I want you to know that those feelings, that overwhelming sense of confusion when you look at yourself in the mirror, yah, you’re not alone in that. I want you to know that you should never feel bad for wanting time to embrace your passions and dreams, they are necessary and vital! I want you to know that you are STILL you, despite what your body looks like or what your baby does on a daily basis. I have struggled with this everyday but I am finally turning the corner and learning that I am important. I recently started taking online classes to pursue a dream I’ve had for years and years. I almost didn’t do it, honestly, it seemed impossible, but I looked at my life and decided that my baby is important and if I want to be the best version of me I can be I need to do hard things to get there. I want to tell him someday that I went back to school when he was still small and I pushed through the hard moments to achieve my goals. I want him to remember a confident mother who loved him with all she had, ever day.

This is the new me, it is still so many of the things I was before, creative, ambitious, motivated and strong, but now I am also a mother. I will probably have many more children and I will probably gain many more stretch marks, but I will still be ME at the root of it all. You can still be you too, don’t lose it and don’t make excuses for why you can’t work your way back to it. Motherhood is a mixed bag, the guilt and joy and pain you will experience may be overwhelming, but in the end if you hold on tight to “you” and love that person through all of the changes I promise you will be a better momma/wife/friend in the midst of it all. So keep trekking, keep dreaming keep loving those babies and keep pursuing YOU, because you are so worth it.

 

What they didn’t tell you.

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Like many of you, I enjoy reading blogs and following fellow moms on Instagram. I love looking through their perfectly edited feed, with every picture somehow magically coordinating with the one before it and so on and their blogs seem to be captured by a professional photographer and it is the perfect design and layout. Even before I was remotely close to becoming a mother I followed these gorgeous moms, truly I loved reading their words and seeing their photos! It made me so excited for the day that I would have my own little babe to photograph and just be a mom to, because these ladies made it look so heavenly. Not everything they portray was or is a lie, I will say that, but a large portion of what I expected is not close to the reality of what motherhood truly is.

These past few weeks I have been struggling to keep my cool when it comes to “mom” or “wife” things. Like sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen or putting away laundry. We live in a 2 bedroom apartment, it’s not the smallest apartment, but it severely lacks storage so our kitchen has become this hodgepodge of cooking tools, food, baby stuff and the overflow of our single extra closet. I am currently sitting in a living room covered in baby toys with extra furniture sort of tucked into corners or utilized in some weird way (I’m looking at you standing fan on my cute vintage chair). Honestly, my imagination ran wild pre-baby, it was probably the hormones mind you, but I always assumed I would be one of those cute momma’s that only bought their baby stuff off of Etsy and gave them exclusively wooden toys to play with. Minimal bright colors and safari animals and DEFINITELY no talking and generic stuffed animals would be in my home, but wouldn’t ya know it, those are my sons favorite things right now. He just can’t get enough of that darned Elmo singing him the ABC’s or the HUGE bouncing contraption that takes up a quarter of my living room. I mean, my life looks nothing like those beautiful Instagram feeds, it wasn’t like what they told me, not one bit, but honestly, I am in LOVE with it.

So here are some things that as a stay at home momma I have come to realize about what Instagram and blogs didn’t tell me about motherhood:

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They didn’t tell me that my baby won’t always want to play with the teether toy I carefully picked out to match his outfits, but they also didn’t tell me that when my baby finally found that toy he loves to play with the look of joy and excitement on his face would make nothing else matter.

They didn’t tell me that my house won’t always be a perfect backdrop for all those Instagram shots, but they also didn’t tell me that it will be the perfect combination of lived in and cozy, and despite all the clutter at the end of the day my hubby and I will love to curl up on the couch with a movie, dodging the toys to find our perfect spot to cuddle.

They didn’t tell me that as a momma you will NOT bounce back to your perfect pre-baby self, that included my body, my hair and my ability to put myself together like I want to, but they also didn’t tell me that despite the chaos of my postpartum body my baby boy will always look to me for security and comfort (no matter what I look like) and my husband’s love for me would only grow (and mine for him).

They didn’t tell me that not all babies sleep all the time, but they also didn’t inform me that yes, I would be tired beyond belief but NOTHING can replace those middle of the night, perfect in every way, nursing sessions and kisses with my little boy.

They didn’t tell me that not every mom will instantly become an internet sensation and start making money through her blog/instagram, but they also didn’t tell me that despite the lack of sponsorship and monetary gain, this space has been such a sweet and precious gift for me to share my heart and my love for my sweet baby boy.

I was not informed that being a stay at home mom also came with a ton of guilt and shame (all self-induced mind you, but there none the less) because I wasn’t a “provider” in the technical sense, but they also didn’t tell me that despite all of those feelings my husband will never stop telling me how needed and necessary I am, and my son’s reaches and smiles are payment enough for the hard work of being a mother.

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My life and expectations are two very different things, but they don’t take away from my dreams and hopes. I dream of a house for all of our future babies to run and grow in, and these moments right now are making those future dreams all the sweeter. My hope is that someday I will be able to work from home, doing something that I love, while I love and care for my children. Instagram, and all those beautiful mommas that fill my feed, may have painted a beautiful portrait of motherhood that is not easily achieved (or possibly even real), but I now know that my motherhood moments will look different than others. My motherhood moments are in a semi-messy apartment, with a sweet boy and his cold fingers and toes from crawling around the apartment, nursing in our old lazy boy chair with a cold cup of coffee. And those moments are beautiful and perfect.

What they didn’t tell you is that life doesn’t look like a magazine, but it’s yours and that’s all that matters. You and your loves, whoever they may be, enjoying each other and the perfect space you create for them. Don’t measure yourself in comparison to those around you, but also don’t stop dreaming and loving and creating. Motherhood, like I have said many times before, is no cake walk, but it is the greatest and most worthwhile adventure you can go on. So keep exploring what that looks like for you, and don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed but share openly and freely, because I know that I appreciate that raw honesty more than anything in the world. They didn’t tell me they believed in me, or that I was capable, so here I am, cheering you on, mother to mother. You’ve got this, you are 100% capable and I believe in you.

 

 

Mom Bod.

This is an ode to the mom bod.

The bod that created and carried a baby for 9 (nearly 10) months.

The bod that stretched and ached and swelled.

The bod that went through hours of painful labor.

The bod that eventually delivered (be it vaginally or surgically) a baby.

The bod that gained pound upon pound to nourish the life growing within it.

The bod that postpartum will bleed and ache and force you into granny panties and maxi pads, all while you learn how to be a mom.

The bod that will go without sleep, night after night, and possibly a meal here and there as it nurtures and loves that sweet babe.

The bod that doesn’t think of it’s own comfort but gladly gives of itself to feed that babe, be it breast milk or formula.

This is the bod of a rock star woman.

A woman that deserves to be told that she is amazing, and capable and beautiful.

That bod is gorgeous, even with a few extra pounds and stretch marks.

That bod deserves leggings whenever it wants, coffee whenever it asks and that chocolate from Trader  Joes.

This bod made you a momma, so own it, love it, and stop wishing away those completely perfect imperfections.