Balancing Act - The "Something's Gotta Give" Week

This momma is recovering from a tough week.

I know I am a new mom and trying to figure it all out, everyday. But last week really sent me one big, giant signal. It was the week am now calling "the something's gotta give" week.

Balance. What is it, anyway? Is it real? Is it something that can actually be achieved? Or, perhaps, is it this golden moment in the distance - never reachable, never realized? *insert sparkly, new age music here*

After a long and stressful week of full-time work, a very sick baby, a daycare cancellation, a evening work event, and a food blogger Sundance party, my worst fears were realized. Balance is a facade. It isn't real. What we are forced to do, especially as parents, is make choices every day about which "thing" is more important.

This can be incredibly difficult, stressful, and at times, feel completely impossible. Sometimes, the requirement to make a judgement call about what is most important in your life can just be another "thing" in the laundry list of "things" you already are stressing about.

We all know, our kids come first. I mean, that is what we all have to say, right? And I think I can speak for every parent when I say that our children are number one in our hearts and therefore, should be number one in our list of life priorities. But, it's more complicated than that.

The complication comes when a job, to provide for that child, also has to come first. The compilation comes when you haven't had alone time with your partner for weeks. The complication comes when you just REALLY need to get out and do something fun, for your own sanity.

So, what happens when your baby spends the night in the ER and work the next day is completely taken off the table?

What happens when your daycare provider gets sick (as we all do) and tells you she can't watch your baby today and you are left to figure it out, in your suit and heels, defeated behind the wheel of your car - baby bundled in the back seat ready to go?

What happens when you commit yourself to multiple people to attend a REALLY COOL event you want to go to, that will help you network and help build your personal brand...but leaving your kid while literally your whole family is sick is probably not the best idea?

What about when an after-hours work event lands on a night you really just want to be home to regroup, get your mom brain working, and spend some much needed one-on-one time with your partner?

I didn't say no to ANYTHING. I tried to do it all. I ended up with my baby in the ER at 2:00 a.m. after leaving her to "network" and have some "me" time - and I felt like the worst mom in the world. Did I know we would end up in the ER because she was so sick? I had no idea. But I FELT LIKE I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN and I beat myself up for it the entire week (let's be honest, I am still beating myself up for it).

I tried to balance. I tried to be the best mom, employee, wife, and PERSON that I could. And I did a half-assed job at all of it. I felt guilty for every decision I made. I stretched myself SO thin, I became nearly invisible to everyone, including myself.

We feel guilty enough as parents. That is par for the course - but I learned something this week. I am not going to strive for that elusive "balance" ever again. I am going to learn to say no, remember my priorities, and trust in myself to make decisions about what I can give, and what I can't. I would rather be 100% at being a mom one day, than try to give 30% to all of it at once - mom/employee/wife/friend/individual (the one we forget about most).

So, moms out there! That is my call to action for you today.

LEARN TO SAY NO.

You don't have to do it all.
You don't have to be everywhere at once.
You don't have to give it all away.
Reel it in - own your decisions - take on what you can.
Leave the rest for someone else.
Or just simply, LEAVE IT.

We are doing this! WE CAN DO THIS.

#MomPower
#MomStuff

Miss Clementine and me during our 2:00 a.m. ER visit.

Miss Clementine and me during our 2:00 a.m. ER visit.


How Much Do We Hate the Term “Post-Baby Body”?

We all get it. Right?

The pressure to be thin is one that we, as women, deal with our entire lives. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t aware of my body in terms of how others viewed it. Even at my 5th grade talent show, when I did a ballet number and had several other kids call me “chubby” after I presented myself in a leotard, I was aware I should be thinner. As a thin teenager and avid dancer, I never felt as thin as I was and was always aware of my skinnier peers. For the record, looking back, that really pisses me off because clearly, I didn't have any reason to put that kind of pressure on myself.

"Chubby" ballerina, ballet school photo - circa 1987 (P.S. I remember feeling like my thighs looked fat in this photo.)

"Chubby" ballerina, ballet school photo - circa 1987 (P.S. I remember feeling like my thighs looked fat in this photo.)

At my personal peak of hotness in 1994 - even in my flannel and Doc Martens. Nirvana forever!

At my personal peak of hotness in 1994 - even in my flannel and Doc Martens. Nirvana forever!

Fast-forward about 20 years (OMG) and I still feel like that insecure teenager sometimes. Although, being a new mom, the pressure has intensified in a way that is almost maddening. But you want to know what really irks me the most? It is the constant use of the term “post-baby body” and the connotation that it brings: "if you bounce right back, you are better."

From Scarlett Johansson to Gwen Stefani (both whom I admire on some level as strong women (see links)), the focus on how quickly they ‘bounced back’ after birth leaves me feeling a sense of failure. On some level, I am sure that both of these women would rather have us focus on their successes as mothers and less on their body. However, this isn’t how our society functions - and even though I know comparing myself to a celebrity is logically ridiculous, I can't help it. I think most of us can't. Take these headlines for example:

Eva Mendes Makes First Post-Pregnancy Appearance, Looks Slim in All-Black Ensemble Just Six Weeks After Welcoming Baby with Ryan Gosling"

Yeah – something tells me that birthing Ryan Goslings spawn automatically makes you MORE beautiful post-baby, so maybe she doesn’t count. I kid.

Amazing Post-Baby Bikini Bodies: See the Stars Who’ve Bounced Back Months After Giving Birth

Oh hey – thanks for making me feel like crap first thing in the morning, US Weekly!

Fastest Celebrity Post-Baby Slim-Downs"

Really? Even the health-focused sites are doing this? I must really just be a big ol’ ball of lazy chub. Yup, that’s it. All this breastfeeding and not sleeping is no excuse. Oh yeah, and that whole full-time job thing. Balderdash!

The Best Celebrity Post-Baby Bodies

Oh look – Ciara still has a six-pack. WHAT? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? Photoshop MUST be involved. It must.

Megan Fox goes make-up free and displays her impressive post-baby body in grey leggings three months after giving birth

I hate myself.

********

This is how it goes some days. And then I take a look at all my beautiful momma friends – all different shapes and sizes – and I think that every damn one of them are amazingly beautiful (and talented and brilliant and funny). Their post-baby bodies are real. Maybe we don’t look like Megan Fox or Olivia Wilde (loved her breastfeeding editorial in Glamour, P.S.) – but I am here to say SO WHAT! I didn’t start off at 100 pounds soaking wet, so I am not going to look like that ever. But here is what I do look like:

Our little family in Buena Vista, Colorado for Thanksgiving 2014

Our little family in Buena Vista, Colorado for Thanksgiving 2014

My hair grew long and strong while pregnant and luckily hasn’t fallen out yet from postpartum hormones! (The baby hairs are in full force though, friends; loud and proud little wavering static baby hairs--at all times.)

My smile is immeasurably brighter because my kid makes me completely light up.

My body is softer, but doesn’t generally look THAT much different. So, maybe I was a little chubby to begin with. There, I said it.

Luckily, I have been able to breastfeed my baby with no problems, so naturally no shirt I own will button over my gigantic boobs -- but my kid is thriving and healthy and we get to have that bond (this has been especially important to me as a working mom. It is our reconnection point, our touchstone).

My smile is kinder.
My heart is bigger.

My hands are gentler
My steps are softer.

My post-baby body has nothing to do with how I appear, but how I have become so much more. More myself. More loving. More whole. My post-baby body made us a family. (Ok, my husband may have had something to do with it too).

So, listen up, you ridiculous headlines and celebrity gossip creators: get it figured out already. We are women becoming mothers. We already have it hard enough. Give us a break! Our ‘post-baby bodies’ are damn great, no matter how they appear on the red carpet of our lives -- LOOK WHAT THEY CREATED!

Sincerely,
Chelsea, a new mom
#MomStuff

 

Do you have other terms or phrases that get your mom-sense all out of whack? What makes you crazy?

Share with us in the comments or on Twitter! @DressYourKidBlog #momstuff

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the basics - gear (newborn days and beyond)

Let me be honest, I was on a TIGHT budget for baby gear. I had my heart set on a few big ticket items, but when it came to the nursery (i'll get to that some day) and gear, I was all about borrowing & thrifting. I am thankful for the friends that let me borrow some items. I am MOST thankful for all the generous gifts that helped with the big items. 

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  1. Diaper Bag - Truthfully, as much as I love this bag, I switch back and forth between my tote style purse and this bag. When Ellis was a newborn, I used this the most. Now I use it on days when she's going to child care at church. 
  2. Solly Baby Wrap - I used this up until Ellis was 3 months old! I LOVED it. It was something I didn't travel without in the beginning. But during the HOT months of summer, I just switched to my Ring Sling. But now my dear friend is borrowing it for her new babe! 
  3. Tiny Love - We have a low to the floor bed, so this was Ellis' bassinet! We loved it until she grew out of it! It was great for naps and her sleeping at night! It rocked, vibrated, sat up to a chair, and worked great for us! We borrowed this! 
  4. Lotus Travel Crib - Smaller than a Pack N Play, Lighter too. We love this. When out of town family asked what I needed most, I said amazon gift cards. I got enough amazon gift cards to pay for this! 
  5. Bob Stroller - We love this stroller for walks, the zoo, and running. What I don't love it for, shopping at the mall, traveling (I've flown with this 5 times), and just everyday errands. Its huge, but I still LOVE it. 
  6. Nursing Cover - Can I be honest. I liked it when Ellis was having latching issues, and wasn't all squirmy, and when she was tiny. I liked it when I wasn't a confident nurser. It was a safety net. But, after about 6 months of nursing, I mastered the art of layering and nursing discreetly without a cover. It's not EVERY mom's cup of tea. It was just too DAMN hot in Houston to nurse with a blanket over the two of us. Ps. I am not into all the floral nursing covers, so this was THE only one I wanted for the pattern. 
  7. Sophie the giraffe - LIFE.SAVER. seriously. Just spend the money or hope it's gifted. 
  8. Moccasins - I know they are super trendy right now. And I know some people may argue socks are better. I splurged and bought these for Ellis. They stayed on her feet much better than socks ever have. And I don't mind paying for quality if she's wearing them everyday, have great resale value, AND are super cute. 

What was some gear you were super obsessed with pre-baby, but then once you used it you were like "meh"? What is some gear you would gift to a new mom?