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.

Doing it All.

Motherhood, sometimes it feels like you are the one responsible to do just about everything. Not just mothering. It’s a weird concept that you go from being pretty independent of yourself, able to leave and go wherever you wanted, stay up and out as often as you liked, but in a split second your world is transformed into a tornado of baby, diapers, housework and cartoons. You are now not only responsible for keeping yourself in good working order, but also your whole household. Something I have struggled with is the aspect of stay at home motherhood in comparison to my husband and his job. There is so much, mentally and emotionally, that I have been through to grasp the concept that I am NOT second best because I don’t bring any kind of financial contribution to the table. I am now aware that I do A LOT. Like, way more than I ever thought I was capable of. It isn’t always verbalized but it is definitely always felt by those around me. I do the dishes, I cook nearly every meal (a recent resolution that I have tried my hardest to stick to), I tidy the rooms as Sailor whirls through them and pulls things off shelves and out of baskets, I make sure the bills are paid and there are groceries in the fridge. I write reminders and try my hardest to still be a sweet and loving wife, but if I am being completely genuine with all of you, I don’t always feel like it.

At this moment in my life I have made the decision, with an 11 month old, to continue to pursue my bachelors degree online. I feel strongly that I want to contribute in more than just housework and breastfeeding, but by having a skill that I spent countless hours studying to learn and worked hard to achieve. I also have felt like the timing was right with Chris’s new schedule from work that I could go out and try to find a part time job. I put my resume in at a couple places and I am praying it works out, because you know something, I am absolutely able to do it all. For so many years I believed the lie that there are only a few things you can be truly good at but motherhood transformed me. It has taken nearly 11 months of being a momma to realize that the act of mothering a child is the most all-consuming and magnificent thing I will ever do. Motherhood is the thing that shows us as woman that we are ABLE, there are many other things as well, please don’t hear me wrong, but truly when you become the thing that keeps another human alive you realize that it really isn’t a joke. It should not be a season we walk into and lose ourselves in, no, we should walk into it and FIND ourselves! Take a step back mentally and think of all the things you have done as a mother today, okay, now yesterday, and the day before… do you see?! You have done SO much! It may not always be verbalized to you but know, from me to you, YOU ARE INCREDIBLE. And to all you mommas out there who work outside of your home, serious props to you. That is freaking hard. No jokes about it. You are so strong and amazing and I am inspired by you, truly.

This post seems slightly disjointed to me, but really it was born out of a thought I had yesterday afternoon as Sailor was screaming, something that had been going on for a solid hour. He had a diaper rash that was obviously really painful, I’m thinking from a certain new food he tried this week, as well he is cutting two new teeth. I tried to nurse him, which we are slowly weaning out of and so it wasn’t really successful, I tried to let him air out and hang out diaper-less for awhile, I tried a lavender bath and NOTHING helped. He was a sad and hurting little boy and nothing I did was helping, but as I was holding him I took a moment to turn on some comforting music (because my boy loves music) and I rocked him in his towel in the bathroom and he nestled into my chest and relaxed. His little fingers plucked my hair and he gulped some air after crying so hard and he relaxed. I sat there and stared at him and realized, I did that. I made this little boy, I birthed him, and I am his mother. There are things that only I can do and I need to be proud of that. If being a mom means doing it all than sign me up a million times over, because NOTHING will ever replace those moments, and they never should.

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.

 

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.