Raising Feminists

As a mom- and a millennial, and a feminist- I have been thinking of how to raise my kid to be a feminist. Actually, not just my kid and not just since I have become a mother. I've been thinking about this since before I was ever even pregnant and it goes for any children in my home, regardless of gender.

Lately I've seen a lot of talk online about gendered clothing. To be honest, this hasn't bugged me as much as I thought it would so far.

When kids and feminism come up, my main concern is about action and skills.

There are certain things I/my husband am pretty adamant about teaching my children. Looking at the list, it doesn't feel super gendered...but I know people who were raised that some of these just weren't things they should "bother" learning because an opposite-sex spouse would take care of it one day.

Here's what I want to make sure my kid(s) learn:

  • Cook at least one home-cooked meal.
    • To be honest, I think if you can learn to cook one thing you can pretty much cook most things. But I get really annoyed listening to so many women my age talk about how terrible they are at cooking like it's a sign of how modern and empowered they are. This is a basic life skill- everyone should know this shit.
  • Do your own laundry.
    • Again, basic life skill. You should be able to dress yourself in clean clothes without breaking a washing machine because you put in too much laundry detergent or used dish soap instead.
  • Change your own tire.
    • Damsels in distress waste so much time. Just do it yourself. To be fair, I have not actually done this myself. I think I could, but I definitely will be learning along side my kids with this one. 
    • I'm okay with this, because I believe that you should never stop growing, and or beat yourself up for not knowing. Being willing to learn at any age is a sign of maturity.
  • Check your own oil.
    • Pretty simple car maintenance. Good to do before long trips. Not hard. 
  • Defend yourself.  
    • There are really, really basic self-defense skills that almost anyone can learn. These include mental and physical things, but either way, I want to empower my kids and let them know that they can take control of their own bodies and situations. 
  • Take care of a baby.
    • I'm so glad I did baby-sitting and childcare while I was a kid. Soooo glad. I waited until my late 20s to have a child myself, but I didn't feel completely lost when it happened. Knowing how to change a diaper, fix a bottle (formula or breast milk, & the difference), knowing lullabies...there are really good basic strategies you can learn that at least provide a building block as a parent.  
  • How to accept a compliment and a tip.
    • So many people seem to feel like they have to defend any compliment they receive. "That's a super cute outfit!" "Oh thanks, it was on sale/hand-me down from a sister." "You are so good at that!" "Oh it's really easy, anyone can do it." Fuck that. You rock, accept it and move on. Also, if someone tries to pay you for your assistance- that's okay. Sometimes letting someone express thankfulness is the most gracious thing to do. Don't turn a beautiful moment into a sour one out of some weird humble-pride. 

What do you think about kids & feminism? 
Or are there any skills you think everyone should have?

Add It To My List: June 2017

 Link-up creators are Lauren from Eat, Drink, & Be Lauren and Bre from Bre Writes. Basically, they are always recommending things to each other- podcasts, television shows, music, blah blah blah. And they figured- why not share even further?

I cannot believe it June is practically over already! Ugh. Where is the summer going?

Anyway. Here's what I'm loving lately:

  • JuJuBe Bags
    • Ugh y'all, I almost hate how much I love these bags. It's actually a diaper bag company, but these are not typical diaper bags. They are Teflon treated, so if you spill stuff on there you just wipe it off. But you can also just WASH THE WHOLE THING. Which is magic. I got one randomly because someone posted a super good deal online- it's a pricey brand (by my lower middle class standard, anyway). But because they last so long (and also because addicts buy all the prints then change their mind so they sell it for the next newest print) there is a big Buy/Sell/Trade turnover. This allowed me to spend about 65$ on items that new would have costed around around $250+ had I purchased new. These items were second-hand but definitely good condition and will likely last a while, so I'm cool with it. I'm probably going to do my first ever product review/"what's in my bag" post because these things are for realz making my life easier.
  • Disc Golf
    • Once upon a time, I would have considered this super lame. But it's free (after you get the discs, which can be done for <20$), it gets us outside, we can do it with our kid- we can even do it with our friends AND their kid. It's halfway athletic but not so much I'm intimidated. It's just a great hobby for our family right now. 
  • This video from The Sensible Mama about insecurities & lies
    • This is from a Christian standpoint and mentions the Devil, just as a "trigger warning" in case some of you aren't used to that. But that doesn't make it less true. Even if you aren't, I encourage you to listen...if you have to say "depression" instead of Devil, whatever. You are loved, and there is grace. You can tell that voice- whatever you believe it to be- to HUSH. It's not easy, but that voice is lying. Remember that.
  • The Ranch Season 3 on Netflix
    • Also excited that Moana is apparently on/coming to Netflix so I can finally know what everyone is talking about!

    What have you been loving lately? 
    Link-up & let us know so we can add it to our lists!

    The Sun is Out

    My last post was kind of super depressing, you guys. Guess that's what happens when you try to examine all the things in life that are making you depressed.


    I actually started that post with the intention of talking about how I am feeling better, since I've been...well, depressed/anxious for like 6 months. 

    And I don't want to paint it like motherhood is just the worst or that I'm a terrible person or my baby is terrible or I'm never happy. It was a tough time...I think I am coming out on the other side though. At the very least, I've had a few good weeks and wanted to be sure to mention that.

    There are lots of things that are contributing to me feeling better, just like there were lots of things contributing to me feeling bad.

    For one, my kid is a pretty great freakin' kid, let me just say. Compared to many babies I know, she is fantastic sleeper and she eats really well and didn't have any trouble when we stopped her bottle...like there are so many ways where her inherent personality makes being a parent pretty easy. I just need to really, really make it clear that this is not about my baby in particular. It's about me becoming a mother, which is obviously inextricably tied to my particular child but also weirdly mostly about me.

    One thing I have complained about a LOT is that everyone seems to have different opinions about how I should act as a parent.

    People do not do this to intentionally make me feel like a bad mom. I know this, rationally. But I did not feel it; those are important distinctions. And there are several reasons for this:
    •  I am an introvert. I do not like being the center of attention...and when you are a new mom, everyone wants to know how you do everything and why. And they want to tell you how they did it, since obviously their kid turned out fantastic (that's kind of sarcastic, but each parent does think there kid is totally awesome and that's how it's supposed to be, so I get it, but it doesn't help). I hated it.
    • I am pretty independent. I was the first person in my family to go to college, I was a military wife...I just feel like most of my life (at least my adult life) has been me doing a lot of shit on my own. I don't like people acting like I need them to do something. Which is how I usually interpret advice. Also- I can't ever have the opportunity to ask for what I need when you are busy talking to me about other crap. This parenting situation is one of the first truly universal things that almost everyone I meet has an opinion and shared experience with, so the amount of opinions/advice was so overwhelming that I could not process. 
    • My parents are great, they want to help any way they can. I complained about them a lot...it's tough. Based on some comments, I think I really painted them in a terrible way. To be clear- they didn't always give me what I needed during this time, and they did contribute to the dark cloud I felt was hanging over me. But it not intentional or even something they were aware of, since I hid much of my struggle from them. They see things through very, very different lenses then I do- and that's okay, people are allowed to be different. Because I was already in a dark place, I interpreted everything as a monster. Bashing them isn't helpful or productive or probably even fair- especially since looking back I know that in my head I sort of lumped all the frustrating comments together and ended up using them as the scapegoat. 
    The reason I said what I've said on this blog is because it's my safe space and I needed to say what I felt even when I knew it wasn't totally rational. 
      •  Also worth mentioning- I am so not a perfect daughter, y'all. I'm sure it seems odd or hurtful to them that I'm not the kind of kid who calls and goes "Oh Mom how do I do this?" Other people my age do that...and I don't. I'm sure that's hard. I will do everything in my power to do it my own way and that comes off as very abrasive and unwelcoming sometimes. I've seen tons of their friends say "Oh she lives so far away? You can't see your grandbaby all the time? I could never do that." And they have to do that. I forced them into that- and I had my reasons. No one here is a bad person. I can't stress that enough. I have placed them in a position that they have never been in before, and that not many of their peers are in. We're all doing the best we can and I love and appreciate them.

      So I just want to clarify that my life is not filled with terrible judgemental people. I am blessed to have people who are interested in me. But I like flying under the radar, and I'm not good at saying what I need without being offensive or feeling selfish (I don't want your advice on how to feed my baby, but if you want to have a glass of wine, watch Dr. Who and entertain my kid while I sweep the floor so I don't have to listen to her cry, that would be great! Or if you want to give me $100 so I could buy a quality baby carrier that doesn't make my back ache after 10 minutes so I can wear her while I sweep that floor, that works too, but no I don't care that your kid didn't do this). Some people welcome this influx of opinions...I don't understand that, but I've witnessed it. Fully accepting that I am the odd one here- but I am how I am.

      Here are the random things that are helping me put myself back together:

      • It's true that most advice is about the giver more than the receiver. Recently I heard someone say they when they are faced with unwanted advice, they just say the word "Banana" over and over until whoever is talking shuts up. I think this will help me! It will make me smile, so the person thinks I care and appreciate the advice. But I'm too busy saying/thinking/singing "Banana" that it blocks their words from settling into my brain. So, yay for finding coping mechanisms!
      • My kid turned one. 
        • The SIDS concern goes way down here, most of the feeding issues are settled, she's sleeping, and generally she has more of a personality so it's easier to tell anecdotes versus people asking boring and generic but weighty questions like "How is she sleeping? You should try XYZ!" If they survive this far, some of the "mommy war" stuff just moves behind you. To go along with that:
        • She started walking. This was all her, there was no magical thing I did that made her want to walk. She just finally flipped the switch and started. It's freaking great, you guys. So many people act like it is harder when kids walk, because they get into more things. Here's where Brittany is different from the crowd once again!
          • For one, no more asking me if she is walking! WOO HOO! My kid is developing normally, now everyone else believes me because they can see it for themselves!
          • Also, now that she can move she doesn't cry for me quite so much. She just follows me, and sometimes finds things to play with independently! Magical!
          • Plus, it's just freaking adorable when she toddles towards me with a big smile. SOOO CUTE, YOU GUYS.
          • This little show of independence somehow broke the feeling that I am constantly on duty. Like, I know I still am. But literally since getting pregnant, I've been kind of constantly tied to her. So even if it's three minutes of her walking in circles around the couch...she is doing something happily without me. This is huge growth. Now our relationship is more about wanting to be together versus having to be together. I'm sure someone will call me a monster, but whatever. That's my feeling and it's awesome now.
        •  Similarly...I can see her learning. I can see the benefit of my parenting. She used to throw her cup when she was done taking a drink at dinner- now she sets it neatly in the cup holder on the high chair! She used to not take any sippy cups, but #WePersisted and now she drinks out of anything. I can see her taking her toys and putting them in her toy box! Y'all, I taught her that. My freakin' one year old can halfway help me clean up her room. That's a parenting WIN! I mean, it doesn't happen every day by any means. But I am helping shape a person and that's pretty fuckin' cool. I may just be a "toddler" type versus "baby type." Which is okay.
        • Oh yeah and the sleep regression worked itself out. Go ahead & judge, we kind of let her cry it out. No longer than 20 minutes, but it never took longer than 20 minutes. Now we put her down and she reaches for her blanket and it's like 10 hours of silence. If you have ever experienced poor sleep, you will understand the sheer majesty of this. 
      • I let her go on weekend trips to the grandparents. 
        • This is not a win because I get to "treat myself." I'm broke from paying daycare, remember ;) Also I have no memory of how to act without a child. But...it allows me to hear tiny bits of justification like "Oh yeah, this is hard. Oh man, I'm so tired after two days of her!" Yeah, cause she's a BABY. They're high-maintenance. I hold back the eye roll for the beauty of saying "Yeah, I know." Tiny wins, people. 
        • Also, I was totally feeling like I was responsible for everything...but I was also not allowing anyone else to take on any responsibility or help me out. I resented both the idea that everything was up to me and the tiniest implication that I couldn't handle everything. Whether I could or not...I don't actually want to. I want to use my village. There's no shame in that, WTF was I doing to myself?
      • We are developing more of a routine. 
        • I don't want to be that parent who has to follow a clock to the minute, but I've figured out that she needs a snack after daycare before dinner. I've figured out that she can handle a 30-45 minute nap if she really needs it without ruining her sleep for the night. I've figured out that if I play peek-a-boo as I leave the room she doesn't cry- unless she's playing with a toy, in which case I slip out without bothering her. Screw this, it's not a routine. It's just...learning my child. The bond may be instant- but having a deep personal relationship with anyone takes time. She's growing, I'm growing, and we are learning how to work together. That's so freakin' cool. 
      • It's summer. More light & warmer weather = more time outside= good for my mental health.
        • I'm not saying nature cures depression. But for me personally, yes it helps to get out of my house. Even if it's just the yard. And I think this baby, who still looks nothing like me, seems to share my appreciation for doing things. She got mad the other night and pointed at the door while I was making dinner- she wanted to go play! I literally just sit her in the yard. It's great. She plays with gumballs and the dry leaves I never swept up over the winter and pulls the ugly wildflowers that I hate anyway. She toddles around and brings me twigs with a big smile and we're freakin' adorable. I play my all female country singer Spotify playlist through the Bluetooth speaker and yeah, it's great. Also we can just drive to the inner banks or play disc golf or whatever with my husband too. It's just the opposite of SAD, I guess, I don't know. But it definitely helps. 
      • She doesn't cry when I drop her off anymore. 
        • I think because my husband has been taking her to daycare on his days off too (which gives him time to do things like cut the grass or change the oil, which is hard to do with her and just builds up until we are all super stressed). This was magical y'all. She just needed consistency. 
        • Also, I got validation on the fact that I kind of run away from her. I work in the toddler room at our church, and some of the volunteers were talking before service and one commented "Ugh why do parents come in the room and try to hang out? It always makes it worse when they finally do leave." To which I responded "Thank you so much, I feel like a terrible mother for just dumping her and running." Their response: "No, that makes you the best! I wish more parents would do that! The kids are always fine and calm down so much faster! Thank you!" Validation. Ah, that sweet sweet validation.
      • I found the One Bad Mother podcast, as well as a few others. 
        • I am stupidly emotional about this podcast. But it was totally a game-changer for me. I'm not as alone as I thought! I started way back at the beginning, which is like four years ago. But it goes through their pregnancy and second children's first few years and it's like a beacon of hope and inspiration and validation and just makes me feel better because they say that motherhood is hard and you're doing great and that is literally exactly what I needed.
      • I've taken people up on their offer to help. 
        • First off, the fact that people are offering like actual practical help is awesome. But the hubs & I had a huge fight because I refused help (and some other stuff, but a lot could have been avoided if I accepted the help). So we are reaching out and being honest and taking people at their word. We chose to make our home in this community for a reason. We did not return to our hometown for a reason. I'm just seeing validation for these choices and being reminded why we have shaped our life the way we have. 
      • Also I did a thing that has nothing to do with parenting and was super scary but I did it and it's done. So that's one less thing hanging over my head. It's not all done yet but there is hope for a thing and I'll be less vague once it's all done. 

      Whew! That felt like a lot of purging. Sorry y'all.

      But I have been so dark on this, I needed to talk about the light. 

      I'm sure there will be more hard seasons, and I'm not even promising that I'm out of the woods here. But I'm in a good place- it's lasted for a few weeks, and I wanted to celebrate and share that. 

      Also, writing everything out enabled me to realize that 1) a lot of shit went down at once, and 2) these things are all manageable. I just couldn't see past the jumble of things until I literally counted them all out and sorted them one by one.

      Some of this shit I just couldn't control and I had to let.it.go. Literally there was nothing I could change...I was just fighting against the current and tiring myself out.

      Some of it wasn't about me. People weren't reminiscing about their highs and lows as parents at me- they were just taking their own trip down memory lane, which they are entitled to do. Just like I'm entitled to get off that road and go my own way. I was being narcissistic and insecure, which is a terrible combination.

      My brain just got tired, y'all. 

      I knew all these things two months ago- about how my kid was fine, how I am better than that lying voice that sometimes pops into my head, about how I am surrounded by good-hearted people. But my brain got too tired and my heart was too full and the darkness crept in. But I am through that period, I think. There will probably be another someday, and that will feel like the hardest too- but the light always finds it's way back if we wait long enough.

      I hope you are in the light now, and thank you for sitting in the dark with me these past few months. Your support has helped.

      Anxiety's Perfect Storm

      I have talked a lot lately about finding motherhood really, really hard.

      I think I was dealing with anxiety for the first time in my life.

      Not tough times. I have been through really, really hard things in my life. And I have struggled. And I have been in mentally dark places.

      But I haven't felt anxiety like I did from around the time my daughter was 8-12 months old.

      I haven't felt my heart beat so fast it felt out of control, randomly, for no reason. I haven't been moved to tears by hearing people's voices in my head (not like schizophrenic voices- like people's comments running on a loop over and over). I haven't felt words literally cutting into my soul and chopping me to pieces.

      There are a lot of contributing factors to this, I think.

      For one, the fact that this time came on the heels of the inauguration of the 45th president of the United States. It is not an exaggeration to say this worries me on a daily basis. I no longer trust my fellow Americans; I cannot decide if that is rational or as divisive as those I claim to fear. I do not feel that we are a country that values unity or respect or equality. It feels like a wolf is coming in to a chicken coop and the chickens are saying "Yay, eat me! Yeah, eat my neighbor too! Fucking destroy us all!" Not a great head-space to be in when you are trying to raise the future generation. It feels hopeless, a lot of the time.

      To go along with this, there's been a lot of "Oh the good old days, every thing was so much better/easier when we were your age" in the media and from politicians and from the parents of my generation (so my parents/their peers) and this just drives me flippin' bananas, because it's nothing more than nostalgia. This also ties into something a little further down regarding advice from other/older parents.  Memories are just not that trustworthy. Even if it was...I live in 2017. This is when my life is happening. I don't want your pity for being born when I am and reacting to that. There is literally nothing helpful about that.

      Also, my daughter went through a fairly rough sleep regression at 8 months. I heard of 4 & 6 month regressions, but NOTHING on 8 months. And of course my daughter did not have those 4 & 6 month regressions- like, maybe 3 days of waking up and then back to sleeping like a CHAMP. Maybe it was teething, maybe it was schedules being crazy because of the holidays, I don't know, but it was ROUGH for a good 2 months of her waking up literally every night and everything was hard.

      While I love my daughter, around this time she also went through a phase where she basically wanted me to hold her all the time. It is very, very hard to do anything while holding a baby. It feels dangerous to cook, but we have to eat. It is impossible to clean, but living in a messy house made my bad feelings even worse. She whined, and I wouldn't know why because she is a baby and has no vocabulary. It was just Russian roulette with guesses- need a diaper change? Need some water or a snack? Need some Orajel or Tylenol for your teeth? Want a pacifier? Oh tried all those things & still not happy? My husband can tune this out...and also it apparently wasn't as bad for him. She was super chill with literally EVERYONE but me. And in a way that's supposed to be cute and loving, but it makes me feel like shit when I walk into a room and my daughter immediately starts crying. It felt like I had already fucked up just by existing.  I do not feel this was as traumatic for her as it was for me, because everyone (daddy, grandparents, daycare workers, church nursery workers, friends who baby-sat) said that it stopped as soon as I left and she got distracted. But it was a huge burden on me.

      During this time, my husband was moved to a new position at work that completely disrupted our schedule and made us scramble to find a full-time daycare. It is a miracle directly descended from heaven that we got into one of the most highly rated daycares in our town within a week; we have friends who waited for over 6 months. This was a huge blessing. But to our small-town parents who were able to have us at home/with family members (as well as other people in our lives), daycare is the fucking devil and a cesspool of germs and the fact that I work so much and send her to daycare is why she wants me to hold her because moms are fucking unicorns and who cares that daddy literally didn't see her for 48 hours you are her MOTHER BRITTANY and it's just so upsetting that you can't stay home and work (insert guilt that I NEVER wanted to be a stay-at-home mother here) or that you live so far away from your family (insert guilt that I moved 3 hours away from a town with a high crime rate and low employment opportunities that I always felt out of place in, but where lots of family lives).

      This did increase our financial burden a bit, obviously. Let's also mention that my super reliable car broke down for the first time ever, and then we traded in another car for market value, which my parents did not agree with and commented that we shouldn't make financial decisions under duress (because apparently we have not proven in the past decade to be trustworthy or intelligent people). I think the financial burden stressed my husband out, not to mention the fact that his schedule was just super weird and then got switched back to what it was before we needed full time daycare...it was a big mess. Big, big mess.

      Next, my daughter did not walk until she was 12 months old. The average time frame that babies walk is 12-14 months. She is 100% average in this capacity. But because I walked at 10 months and my brother walked at 11 months, because other babies I know born after mine were walking already, my parents were freaking the hell out and asking me about a thousand times a day why my baby wasn't walking (maybe other people too, but they are the ones that stressed me out the most). And fussing about shoes, because if only I would put thick soled shoes on her she would be walking! And why don't I try this, or that, or blah fucking blah. BECAUSE IT DOESN'T WORK, THAT'S WHY. I know my kid...maybe let's pretend I'm not just a shit mother. Trust me, I wanted her to walk. Now that she walks, she doesn't sit and cry every time I leave the room...she just follows me. They baby-sat her like a week before she started walking and when they brought her back my mom went "Oh she just doesn't want to walk! She just sits down!" Um yeah, I told you that. "But you know I just worry, I don't get to see her, you have to see things to really believe them for yourself." Sure you do, Mom, if you think your daughter is a dumbass and a liar ya sure do (my mom would never actually say these things about me and I guarantee she would never see herself as acting that way...but really, it cut me because I still do not see another way to interpret that).

      Anyway. When it came to my baby being a baby, I cared about certain things and a few people in my family/support network felt the need to tell me how dumb all that was while worrying about other things that I thought were no big deal. 

      They didn't actually say that, of course. In their minds, they were providing support and advice. But for a multitude of reasons...I could only interpret it as criticism. Deep, deep, cutting criticism

      Most of my life I have been good at just doing whatever I thought was right anyway, but as a new mom I broke under the weight of the scrutiny.

      Even now, I come close to crying as I think back to how utterly, utterly alone I felt and how all I could hear was everyone implying how I was a terrible, terrible mother. And it didn't matter that once I broke in front of them, people would finally go "Oh no you're a good mom, just ___________." NO. If you are 100% comfortable telling me what I should be doing but I have to ask you to tell me I'm doing a good job, then you do NOT believe I am doing a good job. That's bullshit and now you are treating me like a child by pretending to give praise that I still do not feel like you actually believe in.

      Okay fuck. This was supposed to be about how I am feeling better, you guys.

      And I really am! 

      But I wanted to lay out exactly all the things that were contributing to my particular situation. Some of it has been mentioned here but I really want to understand why it got so bad. It's important for me to walk through this for myself. Some of it may be relate-able to other people, and some may not. But I want to point out that this is not the fault of motherhood itself or my wonderful amazing child who I love deeply. This was a storm of things that just added up to me feeling like shit for months at a time.

      I still don't know if it was postpartum depression, or if I can blame particular people or my tendency as an introvert to hate having the spotlight on me in any way or blame society as a whole or blame being a working mother or blame being a millennial. More than likely, I think it was just a perfect storm and I kind of broke for a bit.

      Anyway. I am feeling better. The factors that are contributing to that are coming up later this week, because this got way too heavy and long.

      Letting It Go....

      aka fucks I'm no longer giving 

      Sorry for the language if it bothers you. But that's really the best way to describe it. Here's what I just refuse to worry about anymore.

      • Celebrity gossip
        • I just...do not care. I used to find it interesting. But now...they aren't in my life. Even if I like their work- I just like their work. Their profession does not mean I am forced to care about their personal beliefs or what they name their child. It just doesn't. And if our culture is going to lambast celebrities for being bad role models, then we also have to give up our trashy celebrity gossip that places them in the limelight.
      • Being emotionally involved
        • I care very deeply about many people and things. But not everything, and not all the time. And no, random person, I probably just don't care. I want you to be happy in a "I'm not a hateful person" way but that doesn't meant that 
          • I need to hear your life story (looking at you, panhandlers- if I give you the money, that's MY decision that I make way before I talk to you...don't feel the need to give me a sob story. I don't care if you just go buy booze- my good thing is giving you the money and then I let it go. You aren't required to justify what you do with it).  
          • I am required to tell you MY life story. It's mine. The more you bug me, the more I distrust you and will never tell you anything.
      • Current Music
        • I like what I like. I can't keep up. Especially now that I listen to podcasts in my car anyway. There is a part of me that thinks music people are so cool. I'm just not one of them.
      • Eating organic or any type of diet/eating plan 
        • Y'all, we're all gonna die of something. I choose pesticides and pre-packaged foods. Not all the time, but sometimes. It is just my reality. You can eat organic food instead of vaccinating your kids, whatever. Not my choice, and I don't care (but kid isn't playing with yours until she's had all the shots possible).
      • Spending time away from my kid
        • I LOVE my baby! She's super cool. And I'm coming out of the mom funk I was in for a few months. But it's good for her to spend time away and it's good for me to have some time to do other things- faster and more thoroughly- so that when we are home together we can have actual quality one-on-one time (I'm talking weekends away at grandparents, etc, not just leaving her alone for hours). 
      • Slumps (reading & blogging specifically)
        • Sometimes I read a ton and sometimes I don't. Sometimes I blog a ton and sometimes I don't. It goes in waves. I don't stop being a reader and blogger just because I take a few weeks off. It's about balance (just like eating well and spending time with my kid and everything else).
      • Current fashion trends (if they don't work for me) 
        • See my post about figuring out my personal sense of style. If it works for me, I'll do it. If not, I won't. End of story. 
      • Most parenting advice
        • I think I've made my feelings on parenting advice clear over the past 6 months. Do what works for you and your kid. The end (but seriously, vaccinate your kids).

      My new plan is to simply take a mental shot when any of this comes up, and smile. Or say the word "Banana" over and over in my head until the person shuts up or the tendency to give a fuck goes away. NOPE. I'm done with these things.

      Maybe I will do a post about what I actually do care about soon, but for now...

      Show Us Your Books: June 2017

      Y'all...I knew I hadn't been reading much lately, but I didn't realize it was only 2 books this past month. I've stopped and started a few, but yeah. Only 2 completed books.  Oh well.

       review copied from my Goodreads page

      I had high hopes for this book going in, because I loved The Lunar Chronicles. But it just didn't live up to them :( It was fine, but not great. I REALLY liked Jest, he was by far the most intriguing character for me. But it was kind of Insta-love with Catherine, and I just don't feel that the relationship justified everything that happened at the end. Also, the ending seemed rushed and Cath's transformation very sudden for something so dramatic. Maybe if this was a series too, it could have been fleshed out more, but just seemed off-paced.

      I really enjoyed this book. Working on a full review with Free Range Kids, which I read last month, since they share a few similarities. But one thing I really liked about this idea was that it seemed like France has a more collective view on childrearing. America is divided on everything, and raising babies is certainly a big part of that. Or so it's seemed to me this past year anyway. In this book, France is presented with a more unified approach but also less stress on getting it right every single time.  

      What have you been reading lately? Link-up & let us know!
      Life According to Steph

      Figuring Out My Fashion Style

       I've been trying to figure out my personal style for a while now. 

      Like, even before I got pregnant. And truthfully, I couldn't figure anything out. Not a specific thing, anyway. I think I was just too young really. I was in a weird phase of trying to figure out how to transition from college kid to working professional.

      I have never been super girly or good at keeping up with trends. 

      The idea of keeping up with constantly changing styles has always seemed really tiring and, to be honest, too damn expensive.

      Along with all the other things that have changed in the past year since having my little one, I think I have finally come to a few conclusions. I know I have talked a lot about how hard becoming a mom has been, but truthfully this might be one area where having a baby has actually made me focus! I don't have time to try on 5 outfits every morning anymore, and I don't have the mental energy to dislike the way I'm looking all day. But I do feel the need to look put together and at least try to avoid the messy mom trope.

      Somehow, this has narrowed my focus and given me clarity about what I actually like. I don't think it has an official name...but it's what I've got.

      When it comes to style, here is what I like:
      • Pencil skirts. Fuckin' love a good pencil skirt. I have 3, and they rock. 
      • Flowy shirts or shirts that have an elastic band at the bottom. Mama pouch y'all. 
      • Cardigans. All day ever day- yes even in the summer. AC in the South is not a joke. 
      • Geometric patterns. All about stripes, polka dots, arrows, etc. 
      • If I am going to do florals, they have to be bright and big. Not the tiny or pale kind that make me think of wallpaper. I hate wallpaper.
      • When it comes to bottoms:
        • For work: khaki & black bottoms, always. Unless it's leggings, but even then mostly black.
        • For not-work: jeans/navy.
      •  When it comes to color, I just like red. But if I force myself to not get red or navy, then it should be coral & teal. Because otherwise...I'm not gonna wear it. Just accepting my box, y'all.
      • Wedges or flats. Who was I kidding with this "Maybe I could do heels" thing. I don't want to do them. 

      So that's where I am. It's just what works for me. It took a while, and it's probably not the best. But it's what works for me and makes me feel put-together. Which is really all I ask for from my closet.

      Do you have a specific style or rule that works for you? 
      How did you figure out your style?

      Mama Advice: The Emotional First Year

      So my little one has turned a year old.

      I'm both in awe that it's passed and also feel like it took a million years to hit this milestone.

      For some reason, I am thinking maybe I can calm down a little bit now. SIDS isn't such a concern anymore, I'm not washing bottles every friggin' night, or having the breastfeeding v formula debate constantly. Although the mommy wars are so freakin' real, let me tell ya. But I'm slowly finding more and more moms like me- even if it's in books and podcasts and blogs. It's still nice that I'm not the only one. I'm not that great a mom, really, but I thought there might be a few nuggets of wisdom to share. Even if it's just for me if I have another kid later :)

      Don't worry if you aren't super into it in the beginning.
      The newborn stage is hard! You're basically taking care of flubber. Sometimes it's cute, sometimes it's just flubber. Things get way more interesting around 4-6 months once they get some personality. And yes, technically they have personality before then...but that's when it really comes out. This can make things more difficult, but at least interesting.

      Your may not be able to stay exactly the same. 
      You may not be able to just juggle that "mom" role into the rest of the things you do normally. I am so struggling with my identity right now. It's so hard. I don't regret my kid, but I feel like I am being second guessed every second of every day. Turns out, "Brittany," the somewhat smart and snarky organized woman is not exactly a good mom. Or more accurately, I don't know how to "mom" the same way I lived as a...non-mom. I don't know how to do all the things. I am breaking down more than I ever have before. Some people act like that's a sign that something is significantly wrong with me. Others say it's totally normal. I'm trying really hard to figure out how to bridge the woman I was with the mom I want to be and the woman I am- because yes, some things have fundamentally changed about ME as a person along with my new role as a mom. It's ok. You don't have to be the same as before, or the same as the mom beside you. You can tread water for as long as you need...you can let someone else hold that baby while you rest with a lifesaver for a while.

      Speaking of that- LET OTHER PEOPLE WATCH YOUR KID. 
      Not necessarily even so you can have a break. My kid has spent 2 weekends away, and 60% of the time was spent going "What the hell do I do now?" Literally could not think. My brain isn't great at processing life with a kid, but it's complete shit at processing life without her now. No, the reason to let people- especially your parents and family members- watch your baby is...they remember how hard it is! Sometimes I feel like I can't tell my mom it's hard to have a baby, because she has the rose tinted glasses of the past on. Not her fault, I waited until I was in my late 20s to have a kid. It's been a while, I get it, but I swear people forget. They forget the chasing around, the pulling away from everything, the whining when something as simple as EATING ALL THE FOOD ON YOUR PLATE causes a melt down. Let them borrow the kid, and then when they talk about how tired they are or how it takes an extra 30 minutes to get out of the house glare at them and go "Um yeah I know, that's why I'm a hot mess 90% of the time. Welcome to my life."

      Tell other moms that they are doing a good job.
      They need it, and they will be more likely to tell you the same. Literally every mom you meet, tell her she's doing great.

      While I wish it wasn't so...our society does not treat moms and dads the same. 
      I thought my marriage was pretty egalitarian, but this baby has completely demolished that idea in some ways. And it's truly not my husband's fault, or mine...we are doing the best we can. But this society is just not built for it right now. Our work is just not letting this happen, and that blows. Just...I probably heard this, but ignored it, and that plus this current election has just really forced me to realize...my burden is so different, and there are some ways he just can't help. Maybe this isn't true for you! I hope not. But...there's a real good chance, and it's not your fault or his. Raise our kids to be better coworkers and bosses. That's what we can do.

      I feel like I complain about being a mom on here a lot. It's not terrible!

      I mean, sometimes it's really terrible. But it's also cool. It's just a challenge for me. I don't think I'm going to hurt my baby or ruin her in any way (although sometimes it feels like other people do). I do not regret having a child in any way!

      I just have never done something in my life that is this hard. It's important, and worthy, and I would not trade it. It's just hard! And it's hard because I care and because I'm trying. I love my kid to pieces, and I want to be good enough for her and be all the things she deserves. It's such a big feeling that I can't talk about it. It just is.

      And it's getting better, I'm slowly learning how I "mom." It's nice.

      But...I wish someone had said "Yeah- you are doing a hard thing right now. It is hard. I know it is hard, I respect that fact, I am here with you and recognizing that hard." 

      So when I talk about how hard it is and how I'm struggling- it's because I want other moms to know that you are not alone. I felt alone. I felt like a freak for not enjoying every single second. But I'm not. I'm just a freakin' mama.

      Congrats mama, you are rocking it