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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When you feel alone.

Isn’t it ironic that as a mother you experience some of the loneliest moments in your life, EVEN THOUGH you are literally almost never alone? I have grappled with this for months. The weird and all-consuming feeling of loneliness that becoming a new momma brings. My husband goes to work at 3 in the morning and comes home between 12-3 in the afternoon and then goes back to sleep by 7:30, on a good day, so my days are spent mostly with an 8 month old that hasn’t even learned how to say Momma yet. (Literally he says Dada, constantly, what is that even about?!) I sometimes don’t even speak until Chris gets off work in the afternoon, it’s long and exhausting and like I said earlier, lonely.

Recently I have spent a lot of time really thinking about that, because as I have met more moms I have discovered that we all have similar feelings. It almost doesn’t make sense. There are so many of us that you would think and hope we would ban together in united motherhood, sharing our fears and anxieties, taking time to build each other up when we really need it, yet here we sit in the quiet corners of the internet feeling judged, alone and afraid. Recently for me it was the overwhelming thought that this little person is not just a part of my life, but he IS my whole life. My body nourishes him, my arms hold him, my sleep is minimal because of him, truly so many aspects of what I once was are now wrapped up in every breath this little boy takes. Yet, lately, I have felt that I need to contribute more. Like I need to have a skill, a SOMETHING, that will help our family thrive. I completely discount the fact that as a stay-at-home mom, my job is 24 hours 7 days a week. Whenever Sailor is hungry I either take the time to nurse him, or prepare him food to eat. I change his diaper, clothe him, play with him, sooth him when he’s hurting and bathe him when he’s dirty. Yes, my husband jumps in when he can, but the bulk of these things fall on me. Not to mention making sure the living room doesn’t look like an 8 month old, freshly crawling, tornado hasn’t just passed through. The dishes, the cooking, making the bed, doing the laundry, the list literally goes on and on! Being a mom is NO JOKE. We desperately need to stick together. We NEED to uplift, encourage and grow together. Share our funny moments and our sad, be real about our disappointments and our desires. You guys, we need to stop feeling bad for wanting time for ourselves! Seriously, this is huge. I battle this daily. My time is important and in order to be a sane mom and human being let yourself take 30 minutes, if that’s all you have, to watch your favorite binge or grab a coffee. You deserve it.

When you feel alone remember this, you aren’t. There is a mom just like you, most likely feeling the same things, wishing she had a community to share with. Recently I have been stepping out of my box to try and meet moms, and man have I seen a change! Just having women who I can share with, who have common experiences, it makes a world of difference! Step out, be bold, surround yourself with people who are going through similar life experiences and watch as you grow! Take a second to think right now about all the moms on your Facebook feed, have you talked to any of them? If you live close, have you asked to hangout? Have a playdate? I challenge you to take some time later today and send a message to someone who you haven’t reached out to yet, I GUARANTEE that they will be so appreciative for the adult conversation. I know it meant the world to me.

Being a mom is not a cake walk, you will struggle, emotionally, physically and in our relationships, but if you push forward, forge friendships and pursue other moms, you will start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have to remind myself on a daily basis: being a mom is a JOY, it gives me PURPOSE and it is a BLESSING. Life is hard, motherhood is hard but remember that you are not alone, not now, not never.

 

PS, if you really don’t have anyone to message or talk to about things you are feeling or going through PLEASE email me! My email is ashdg91@yahoo.com and I would LOVE to hear from you!

Mother’s Day.

Yesterday was my first Mother’s Day. I woke up with such expectation of gifts lavished, a clean kitchen, maybe a chance to sleep in after being up most of the night with the baby, you know the stuff mom’s dream of! I honestly had built up this expectation of perfection, that there was NO possible way my husband could live up to it all, at least not without me sharing with him my desires for the day. Instead I expected him to just know, leading to me crying in the shower. Yah, I’m embarrassed to say that I sort of lost it on Mother’s Day. As I stood in the shower and cried, I really thought about all the things I wanted and didn’t get, I lingered on all the negatives and ignored any positives, I essentially was a child throwing a fit. I felt awful, why do I let myself get to such a point of emotional distress? Why do I allow for every bad thing to overshadow all of the amazing and good things that I am blessed with?

Just the night before my husband took me out to dinner for Mother’s Day. Bless his heart, he thought it was Saturday and I couldn’t help but fall in love with him all the more. He asked our close friends if they would watch Sailor so we could go on a very rare dinner date sans baby, and I was so blessed. We then came home, put the baby to sleep and watched a movie and sipped Moscow mules with our friends, it was such a perfect night! But sadly enough, in my mom mind of built up expectations, it wasn’t enough to carry over to the next day. I woke up with a fresh desire to be spoiled, I mean I don’t necessarily feel bad about the desire, but I do feel bad about my own lack of communication.

That’s honestly what I wanted to write about today, because I KNOW there are more of us out there. The ones who live in our minds and are constantly finding ourselves disappointed as no one can live up to the mountains of expectation we build around ourselves. We dream and wish and sigh as someone yet again misses the mark. As I stood in the shower yesterday I was so suddenly struck with the awareness that I am so stinking spoiled. Every single day. I am spoiled with a family, a husband that truly truly loves me DESPITE all of my flaws (there are many). I have a baby, a healthy little boy, who brings me so much joy, when I know there are so many women out there who desire a baby so badly, or who have lost their own precious ones. The mere fact that I can celebrate Mother’s Day with a child who is living is HUGE. Man, that one hit me smack in the face. I am BLESSED. Guys, I truly am.

After all of this, and my husband had sweetly took the baby out for a walk and returned with my favorite coffee and a breakfast pastry, I sat down and opened up my heart to him. Because while I was alone in our apartment, the dishes not done and the bedroom a mess, I realized that I married this man because he was my best friend. I vowed to be his companion, to encourage and uplift him and to share in all of the moments that life may bring, that means growing with him and becoming more “married” to him everyday. I can’t keep seething in unrequited expectations, embarrassed to share my true feelings with the man I said I would share my whole life with. What a horrible way to live! I am nowhere near perfect at this yet, but I know that yesterday was a huge stepping stone. If I want something from my husband I need to tell him, I need to bring him into my wants and desires so that they can become OUR wants and desires.

The realization that my son and future children would watch me and their daddy as we interact struck me yesterday. I don’t want to be the mom that lives in regret of her actions but is an example of openness to my children. That they learn how to swallow their pride and be the bigger person on a daily basis, seeking God’s heart and his will for the situation. After that conversation with my husband the day completely turned around. Not only because he now knew what I wanted and blessed me in so many ways, but also because I felt this weight lifted off of me. The weight of holding it all in and pretending like nothing is wrong, even though it is. The weight of always feeling disappointed and hurt when I can easily change the situation. The weight of walking around full of pride when I should be practicing humility.

My first Mother’s day was special in many ways, but especially because I was able to celebrate it with my sweet son and my loving husband, the two people who mean the world to me. Don’t let little things cause you to loose sight of what is most important in your own life, or tarnish moments that are meant to be fondly remembered. You deserve to feel “weightless”; so pursue intimacy, share your heart and grow into a momma that walks in humility and love.

Mom Boss.

What does this even mean? I see it constantly, and for whatever reason I don’t feel like it applies to me, yet I can’t even tell you what it means! Since becoming a mom I have gone through a process of falling in and out of inspiration. Losing the motivation to do anything that I love, like writing, drawing and reading, and instead taking all my spare time to literally do nothing. For some reason that becomes my go to because I’ve been going going going all day long, that anything, even if it previously brought me joy, no longer is restful. What is that about? Why does motherhood need to be something that strips you of your identity?

I have struggled with this, oh have I struggled with this. Does taking a stand for myself mean I am neglecting being a mom? Is it okay for me to pursue my dreams from the pre-baby days? I am enrolled in the Academy of Art Graphic Design program to start end of June, this has been a dream of mine for so many years and I never thought I would be able to do it! On a whim I decided to look into it and saw that it is totally doable and went for it, but ever since that day I have been riddled with guilt about it. Is this the right time, am I doing the right thing? Then “mom boss” pops into my head.

Being a mom boss is being the best mom you can be. It’s pursuing your dreams and loving your babies. It’s being a loving wife and still being yourself. It’s not losing who you are once you have a baby, but it’s folding motherhood into it. It’s embracing the chaos and knowing everything isn’t going to be perfect, but it’s yours and so it IS beautiful and perfect! I am in the process of becoming my own mom boss, I want to turn this blog into more than just my personal diary, I want to graduate with a graphic design degree, I want to have lots more babies and I want to love the person I am in the midst of it all.

“Mom Boss” to me is saying that I am worth it, not just my baby and not just my husband, but ME. That without taking the time to pursue myself, I won’t have anything left to give to my family. So I am taking a stand for me, and pursuing my dreams, diving into my passions and bettering myself through little things every single day. I am the boss of my own life and I won’t let motherhood swallow me whole. I am a mother, yes, but I was Ashlee first and she doesn’t deserve to be forgotten in the midst of the night feedings and diaper changes. So here I go, one day at a time, taking back who I was, finding joy, becoming a better person and of course, being a Mom Boss.

Lots and lots of types of days.

Swiftly the days go by, one after the other, until an entire week is gone, just like that, and what do we have to show for it? For some it may be an extra pound gained, or a wrinkle earned. Maybe it’s a project completed or a deadline missed. For me it is a baby growing and a husband working. It’s an apartment slowly coming together. It’s dinners had, and coffee dates attended. It’s a church service listened to and a birthday celebrated. It’s family time and movies watched. It’s a glass of wine after baby goes to sleep and a cup of coffee when he wakes up in the morning. It’s all the giggles and all the cries. It’s tears shed and moments remembered. It’s dreams dreamed and steps taken to achieve them.

It’s a whole slew of things, something new and different for every person. As a mother time is a heavy burden, each day holds a weight not previously felt. Each day your baby is slightly different, one step towards childhood and away from infancy. Each day is a day to either succeed as a parent, or a day to disappoint. Parenthood creates a magnitude to life that is not easily ignored. You are the one responsible for shaping a life. You are the caregiver and comforter. You hold this little one so securely in your arms, there is no way to forget or walk away from it’s heaviness, and it scares and excites you at the same time.

Each day passes, one after the other, creating memory books in our minds. There will be bad memories along side the good. The days where patience wasn’t in abundance, and days where love was overflowing. Motherhood has brought me to a place of reflection, a place of significance. My days are no longer my own, but ours. Right now it is me, my sweet Sailor Brave and my loving husband. Like they say in one of my favorite movies, “There will be lots and lots of types of days”,  let’s not lose even a single one to impatience or anger, but let’s be pursuers of love and joy and laughter. Let them be ones for the memory books, the ones you put on the shelves for others to read. I want my babies to remember life with the fondest of smiles, knowing that there were more good days than bad, and that their mother never ever stopped loving them, not even for a second.

 

Missing It.

 

 

This week I was hit with this deep sense of missing. Missing the days where life was seemingly carefree, and my biggest anxiety was whether I was going to wake up with a pimple or if my hair was going to cooperate. Nowadays my anxieties are a little more complex. I’m massively aware of money, the future of not only me but of my baby and my husband. I sit and think of budgeting strategies, possible career paths, vaccinations, diaper rash and teething gums. My thoughts are no longer about what movie I can’t wait to head to the theater to see, or who I can hangout with on the weekend. My life is full of bigger things than that, and yet, I miss those days.

For some reason I came up with the idea that it was wrong of me to miss the pre-baby, pre-marriage days. Those days are filled with some of my greatest adventures (literally and metaphorically). I spent the beginning of my twenties traveling the world and living in Australia. I spent my free time alone at Aussie cafes, writing like crazy, listening to music and drinking iced coffees. My weekends were filled with quick trips to my favorite neighborhoods, crammed in someone’s small car, still marveling at driving on the wrong side of the road. Windows down, hot summer days, music blaring and so much laughter I can still feel it in my gut. Those days were some of my best yet and I don’t feel bad saying it.

I have been immeasurably blessed with “good ole days”. I have memories that still bring a smile to my face. Getting married was not me filling a void, and having a baby was not the answer to my problems. Those are things that add to my already overflowing memory bank of joy. Those are the beginning of a whole new set of golden years. A whole new set of summer days and endless laughter. As a mother it is exhausting to feel not only the weight of your own anxieties, but the pressure of what society says is proper and right for a mother to feel. I am a mother, and a wife, and I am telling you it is okay to miss those days. Remember them as the blessing that they are; don’t linger and wish yourself back but thank God that he gave them to you to hold on to.

My heart is not stuck on those days, but it remembers them fondly. On days where things aren’t perfect, the baby’s crying, and there just isn’t enough coffee for your tired eyes, remember that as much as there are always better days behind you, there are far better days ahead. That’s the blessing of motherhood and of life, it keeps plowing forward, stacking memory upon memory for you to savor as you move along with it.

Lick Him Like an Ice Cream Cone.

A few weeks ago I was roaming through TJ Maxx (the usual) and this older woman came up and asked me the normal questions about Sailor. She wanted to know how old he was, was he my first, the basic questions I get asked on a regular basis, but before she walked away she said the sweetest thing, “Lick him like an ice cream cone, because before you know it he is going to be off to college.” I’ve heard a variation of this many times, the encouragement to soak up these stages of infancy because soon enough he is going to be grown and independent. Of course you tell yourself to enjoy it all, to not forget these sweet moments, but there was something about the way this older woman imparted this little nugget of sweetness that has left me thinking about it even weeks later. It has made me stop many times these past few weeks just so I can snuggle my boy.

The metaphor of an ice cream cone is perfection to me, you can’t eat it fast enough before it starts to melt all over your hands, yet you want to savor every single lick! It’s delicious and fleeting. The same with my baby boy, he is the sweetest thing and I want to savor every single moment with him. This morning I sat while he slept next to me and thought about all the things that I don’t want to forget about these last 5 months with him:

How surprised I was when they told me he was nearly 9 pounds (8lbs. 14oz.) at birth.

The first time he really latched on and nursed, I have never felt so needed or necessary in my entire lifeProcessed with VSCOcam with lv02 preset.

How he has always been so sweet in the mornings, smiles, laughs and kicks since the day he was born.

Our first trip together when he was only 1 week old, he was such a good boy it was like he knew I needed that extra helping of sweetness.

His eyelashes.

The way he sucks on his bottom lip.

The satisfaction and love I feel when I’m the only one that can get him to calm down (even if in the moment I can get frustrated).

How he calms right down when he hears someone sing to him, especially his Auntie Alex.

How he is honestly so sweet to just about everyone he meets, giving the biggest smiles and giggles to total strangers.

How even with a look he can make me so so happy.

 These are the moments, the ones we wish away so easily thinking of the next stage instead of savoring it all. Licking it up like an ice cream cone. My greatest realization is that this is my last time being a first-time mom, all of this will be different with the next one (whenever that is) and I will realize how sweet this season was, and as hard as I try I will miss it. My sweet boy is growing fast, and I plan on holding on to each moment because you don’t realize you’re in the good days while they’re happening, but I sure am going to try.