Infectiously Happy

10 Things about Motherhood That You Don’t Understand Unless You Are A Mother.

Let’s make an agreement. You promise not to get your panties in a bunch because I say something you don’t like. I will be honest. Agreed? 

 Motherhood is a choice, one I am grateful for. I do however know that it isn’t going to be a choice for all and I respect that. I even understand it. For most of my life I never wanted to be a mother. This post isn’t about superiority or the brainwashed idea that not having children means you missed out on something in life. This post is about perspectives. If we are going to be intentional and honest we have to increase our awareness. I often have conversations with people who do not have children that attempt to say they understand motherhood because they have a pet or babysit alot or “just about raised a child”. I appreciate the attempt to understand perspective. I need to say the thing that will be unpopular. You cannot and will not fully understand this journey unless you have been through it. And that is okay! I will never understand what it is like to be a man or to be a firefighter. We aren’t here to understand everything. You can still honor the journey of another without trying to equate it or explain through metaphor and comparison. Every mother has varying experiences and this post is about awareness and education from my perspective. Unhinge the bunching before you proceed…

1. We have changed. There is this illusion that we as mothers should strive in  being, acting, looking and living as we did before our babies came. It is not possible. We are changed. Our priorities have shifted. What looks like a good  time is different. As we are evolving  through this continually changing responsibility who we are and how we can/will show up is not going to look like it looked before. And the pressure to return to something from before in the exact same way is unrealistic and traumatic.  We cannot be the same. Work. Relationships. The Gym. I am not talking less. I am saying different. My own focus is razor sharp. I am able to clearly set goals and knock them out because my motivation has changed. They are depending on me. I cannot invest  my energy in the same ways. I need that energy to fuel my life with them.  I care about wellness so I do what I must but my regimen doesn’t look like it did before. It can’t .  I don’t mourn it either. I embrace it. 
2. We are questioning our every move. We have to because we are bombarded with opinions, advice and real time “consequences”. Our lives have become about more than our own comfort and desires. Each of us  wants the best for our little ones and the internal judge of motherhood can be a harsh one. One less voice of question can be helpful. 

3. You don’t see all of our children. Infant and child loss is an ignored and so overlooked trauma that affects more mamas than you can imagine. There are mamas walking around with no  children. There is a shame associated with miscarriage that creates a deep  wound into the hearts of many women. Questions about more babies or why there are no babies are a stinging reminder that isn’t helpful or necessary.  I do not know the pain of burying or losing a child so I don’t understand it. I can honor the love that will not end whether that child was here for a moment or years. 

4. We are consistently disrespected.  We are told how to hold, when to hold, how to feed, where to feed, how to discipline and on and on.  Shamed, blamed, rushed through the process and expected to put the comfort of grown ups over the care and comfort of our babies. I could write a dissertation, honestly. And it would revolve around the disgust I encounter when I travel with my boys. Children are humans but mothers are routinely pressured to treat them inhumanely. We aren’t given space or time (see Maternity leave time frames around the world) to fully grasp or connect to this new human.  Just a reminder that a little compassion goes a very long way. 

5. This is a life or death responsibility.  From conception our responsibility is so serious. We can watch and protect, plan and safe guard their lives and still there are things we cannot protect them from. There are accidents and illness that  we cannot prevent. It is a divine honor but sometimes an overwhelming reality. Recently, Palmer got away from me at the door of a grocery store and was out of my reach, moments away from stepping into traffic. I replay that incident and my heart almost beats out of my chest. It’s insensitive to compare what we are doing to job responsibilities like emails and deadlines or to make fun of the concern we have for their safety and who we entrust them to. 

6. Motherhood is isolating.  For all the friends and family, wonderful spouses and supportive efforts, this  journey also makes you feel alone. There are moments when you have to sit  with the changes, shifts and transitions. Not everyone will know how and when to help, reach out and support. For most moms there is a gap that can fuel the emotional turmoil that often accompanies postpartum. I think about sitting next to Palmer’s NICU bed wanting to hold him. Even with Christian by my side and throngs of people praying for and holding us up I felt a solitary pain that I do not ever want again. I am fortunate to have an incredible village but I have had relationships that could not survive this change and I am aware that most do not have support at all. 
7. We know our children. We have been learning them in each moment. They  are each different and need different types of caring, support and engagement from us. We are all trying to thrive until naptime or bedtime as best we can while maintaining a balance between the demands of our unmotherly responsibilities. We know if they are ready to sleep alone or use the potty. We alone know if it’s time to ween. We know their disabilities, challenges and illnesses. Imagine the frustration of someone coming to your job giving you instructions after watching you work for 3o minutes….  

8. It’s not all joy. I wish it was. I wish  each moment was an Instagram picture of motherly bliss. Sometimes I  look at my instagram to remember it was all joy last week, yesterday , 10 minutes ago… It’s  beautiful, inspiring and amazing. It is also overwhelming, exhausting and sometimes heartbreaking. We can be grateful for these babies and honor the discomfort that is part of this journey.

9. We deserve our own care. We cannot possibly care for our children if we neglect  ourselves.  We have to create time to replenish ourselves. Sometimes, most times, that will not look the same as before we embarked on this  journey. So a night out with the girls could work but it could also be a lot of work in terms of getting ready, coordinating child care and having the energy to resume mothering upon returning home. Maybe your mom friend needs a shower and a nap.  

10. We need our village. There was a time when we remained in family groups and were surrounded by people, other women who supported and assisted us in this journey. As this world has gotten bigger the distance from those we love has also grown. The need for support is still there. The village helps to keep the parents as well as the babies. The village fills the void of grandparents and family if need be. It is essential.  Be willing to love compassionately. 

Perspective. Joy to your day. 

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Day 32-35 You have Choices…

I took a breal from social media for multiple reasons but one motivator was the way I feel repulsed  and angry by the posts, opinions and negativity that seems to call the internet home. I wantrd to be away from it. Not to be in a bubble of utopian bliss, but to actively engage in the building, connecting and engaging that created healing and peace for the people around me.  I have been working… Hard. I have had a beautiful month. There are things about places like FB and IG that I have not missed. Yesterday though, while in Target for some treats for Palmer I met a woman who I am connected to through these platforms, who I wouldn’t know any other way and I was reminded of the kind of community we can use this social media thing to build. All month that lesson has been present and I knew I was coming back to social media so this aint a major epiphany… I just need to say, We have choices. We  can use it how we want. We can disconnect when we need to. And come back when we feel like it. 

How powerful would we be if we used this base of connection to build, teach and to be of service? 

Oh and yes this post goes through tomorrow because  the reality is I am going to be with my mama and brother, dad, husband and babies for the next few days with our chosen family. I will be basking in all the love, joy and peace you can imagine.

I wish the same for anyone reading this. 

I send special warmth and assurance to all of us missing  someone or many someones. This time can  be a reminder and include intense longings. We have the choice not to suffer. Honor the pain. Connect to the love. I am choosing the love in each moment today. 

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Day 31 Are You Even Trying? 

You owe it to your future self to try. To start. To give it a go. To step out there. 

In business.

In love.

In life.

In self love. 

We will talk ourselves right out of everything we need because we are afraid to fail. We feed ourselves stories of impossibility and sure disaster. We won’t even try. Then we wake up a month/year/lifetime later to the same shipwreck. Nothing is going to change unless we do. Nothing is going to flourish  unless we try to create something different for ourselves. All of it is not going to work out or have longevity but it can be a building block or a lesson. Sometimes you will have to try something else. I can guarantee, with absolute certainty that each try makes you stronger, helps eliminate the unnecessary and focuses your energy. 
 You have just over a week left in 2016. What are you trying today? 

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Day 29 and 30… An attitude of gratitude. 

2016 has been phenomenal. TRULY! I entered the year grief stricken but intentional about my own healing. I had some things I really wanted to see manifest and man have they!  I am not saying there haven’t been some tests and moments of uncertainty. Words are not going to be enough and I will certainly cry and  forget someone or something but please charge it to my head and not my heart.  I am grateful for all of it. In the spirit of gratitude I have a list…

Baby Duke. He joined our family on 3/1/2016. He mended some broken hearts with his birth, including my own. 

Barrington Steed. Also known as my husband. He is a talented artist but has not had much time to create. I am grateful that this year he is back creating on top of being an awesome father and loving mate. I love you Carboni. 

Palmer. Threenager life is interesting. I am learning ALOT about patience and moving away from the mindset of lack. It has a powerful impact on dealing with a moody and head strong toddler. I love his loving heart and quick wit. I think he got his attitude naturally  (from me) so I get it. 

Revolution EGO. We are completing our fifth year of business and this year has been a powerful manifestation of our mission statement. I love how it is evolving. 

My business partner and bestie Tinesha. She has held me down this year, not unlike the 15 years before, but I am grateful for our sisterhood and solidarity in creating the life we want for ourselves as business partners and friends. 
Shanice. She is amazing to work with. I am so grateful for her smiles each  morning and her unwavering commitment to Revolution EGO. 

My accountability partners. Setarra and Nicole. They hold matches to the soles of my feet, not literally but truly in terms of pushing me to follow through, take the baby steps and face my fears. This two are dynamic in their own right so I am honored to be in their ranks. 

 My mama. She continues to be the best mama in the world. I know I am biased but she truly is amazing. I owe her my life, continually. 

 My mother in law, Tina. She gave birth to my soulmate and for that I will always be grateful. I am thankful that from across the sea she makes time to be connected to my babies in her own special way.

O’neill. I am grateful for him as a lifetime friend and amazing uncle. He turned 30 this year and I so happy to see him working so hard on things he loves. 2017 is going to be even more amazing. 

 Aerin.  She isn’t my sister in law but I sure hope she is one day. She has been down for my family since day one and I love the way she loves my brother.

 Brandy. Best babysitter. You cannot know what it feels like to know someone will love on your babies in your absence until you find that babysitter. Thank you for always making me feel good when I close that door to walk out. 

 Jasiatic. My play wife. Mom life is not a game… To have a cohort in it is amazing.  I love you mama. 

 The entire village. Grandpa, Grandma Tiny, Uncle Eric, Uncle Carl, Aunt Kenya, Holly, Molly, Moyeh, everyone who is slipping in my 2016 memories. I know I will forget someone… All of you make it possible with last minute babysitting and help in so many ways. 

Every client who sat in my chair or visited the salon or supported an event. Without them there is literally no way. Layers and  layers of gratitude exist for each and every one of them.

My fellow yogis. I am thankful for every class, workshop or retreat where they joined, invited and promoted. I love yoga and am so grateful for the amazing community I am in. I am grateful to be able to share yoga in ways that are authentic and empowering for everyone involved. 

The  Get Well Podcast. I am grateful for every guest and listener. I have personally learned so much.  I love doing the show and am so happy with the way it is unfolding.
The small business owners community. I am surrounded by some very inspiring and powerful folks. I am grateful for collaboration, inspiration and opportunities. We will all keep pushing forward.

My friends and extended family. Love is a circle and I am grateful for the continuous flow of love around me. 

Continued possibilities. 

New projects.

Upcoming announcements

Continued health and wellness 

Abundance 

Prosperity 

Joy….

What are you grateful for in 2016?

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Day 27, maybe 28 too. Misery Loves Company… 

Because this is so common you are probably like, “Duh Kelley.” Also, I am losing  count of the days… Whatever man. 

I am still going to remind you about the nature of spreading pain though… Especially because this time  of year brings out the most miserable. Be careful because  social media makes it possible for the misery to be spread virtually. That shit is toxic. I am reminded daily that the break  I am on is beneficial in terms of making definitive boundaries between myself and the people who are hell bent on being miserable. I am enjoying the real life conversations and connections that have had time to truly be nurtured. I am not  saying I will never be back.  I am saying it helped me identify what & who is more important. Folks use social media to get out the negative energy that is festering in their own lives…  

Be aware of the ways you spread toxic energy. We are responsible for the energy we share. It is natural to feel anger, sadness, frustration, etc. In some ways it can be helpful to talk to someone about it. It is  helpful to take time to heal yourself.  You deserve to be healed. We don’t have to spread our own pain though… Not through negative conversations, attention seeking or unnecessary drama. Connect to the people who are committed to raising the vibration.  Engage with the people who are going to inspire, support and love you. Misery can’t thrive in the presence of love anyway. 

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Day 24,25 & 26: Keep Pushing.


On January 15th I posted a blog about setting intentions for yourself. See for yourself HERE. In it I included a list of things I wanted to unfold  in my own life. Somethings happened so quickly, somethings I changed my desire to complete and others are still manifesting themselves. What I am continually blown away by, even 16 days away from the end of the year, is how most of it came together in ways I could have never imagined… 2016 has been the bomb. I am so excited about next year. 

I am here with a reminder to you that whatever you are working for or towards is coming. You just have to keep pushing. We are all encountering stumbling blocks and distractions. Acknowledge it. Honor the lessons but DO NOT STOP! We deserve to have a life that really feels good. No one ia going to create it for you. 

I am on the last, very tedious steps of a really important and terrifying project and several times this week I have wabted to give  up.  I have tried tobtalk myself out of it. I am grateful for friends, a husband and  my mother who are holding me accountable and encouraging me to keep pushing. 

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[Day 22 & 23: Palmer was born in the circle of the sun. 

Balloons for the birthday boy.

Today in the third celestial return of Palmer. It’s his birthday. Our birthing  day.  I guess as your children get older this day gets less magical… I hope not. I understand why my own mama want to be near me on my own birthday. I am still in awe of this experience of mothering Palmer. This year of his life has evolved in so many ways. He is constantly teaching us that he is his own person [read: having unpredictable mood swings and tantrums]. Every day he seems taller and more like a big boy than a baby. I only cried once today. This is my third birthday post to Palmer and as promised, these posts are dedicated to remembrance of who he is now because he is continually evolving… Click for Year 1 and Year 2.


Palmer loves…

The wonder of the three year old mind.

the Moon. He sings to it. He looks for it every night. He now has a plastic moon that lights up on his wall. 

His brother… Most of the time.

Planes (paper airplanes mostly . )

Volcanoes. His knowledge of magma and lava is impressive.

Balloons

Living room dance parties. He prefers Funk and Afrobeat but will jam to anything. 

Cooking and baking with me.

This year Palmer…

Brotherly love.

Became a big brother. He is evolving in this role but does love to make Duke laugh. We are still working on being gentle and sharing. 

Started school. This is the first time he has been away from us and not with our family or friends.  He loves going to Roots at ALC Mosaic and it feels good leaving him there each time. Even today at the circle time set aside to celebrate his latest trip around the sun was confirmation that he is in a community that supports what we try to create for him at home. They sang a song about his trips around the sun, we looked at photos of him on this day for the last three years and we all shared cookies.

The offering board at school today.

Palmer is my cautious adventurer. He is creative and inquisitive. He can be temperamental and seems to feel very deeply. He is kind and loving. He is funny. He celebrated yesterday with a family dinner at Nakatos where he revealed he is scared of fire. 

With Uncle O’neill. Not shown: the meltdown over the fire used for cooking and his birthday candle.

Happy birthday Palmer. You will always be my first lesson in the depth of motherly love. I am so grateful for you and your heart. May you always know how much you are loved. 

Love Mama ❤

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Day 20 & 21: Flexible and flowing. 

Last month I scaled back my schedule BUT somehow I am still busy as hell. I need to do some self study on my busy body ways because I need to figure out what is really going on. December is my favorite month. My birthday, time with family, holiday cheer and now Palmer’s birthday. All of that has me busily arranging and planning. Plus everyone knows this is the busy season in salon life. My babies are busy and have me running, but that’s good for building a strong body! 

Turned up daily and I love it!

My hubby has a crazy work schedule lately so childcare arrangements have been interesting. I am working on some big projects and events for 2017 and through it all I keep telling myself to be flexible… flowing, like water. And those simple words are keeping me grounded. I am not overwhelmed or exhausted. I am grateful and excited. I am nervous but know what I am creating and what’s happening in the lives of those I love, is going to be incredible. 
Be flexible. Be flowing. We’ve got this! 

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Day 17, 18 & 19: Eleven years ago 

Venice Beach 2005.
12/4 made 11 years since my first date with Christian. We were living on opposite coasts both trying to eek out a living in the airlines. We spent this crazy fun weekend together eating sushi and running around LA together. Most of the weekend is a distant memory BUT at the time I kept a hand written journal. I wrote nearly every day during that time and I like to look back at it during this time of year. 

December 7th, 2005 in my own words, I wasn’t ready to leave LA after spending the weekend with Christian (aka Frenchie).

I flew back and forth weekly to see him in California for nearly two months and that time in our lives was very different from the life we have now together. There have been many versions of our togetherness that led to right now. So many things have changed but there are some things that are constant. This journal is a reminder

December 22, 2005.

December 22, 2005:

When I am with Christian, I feel beautiful and brilliant. He treats me delicately… takes care of me. I feel protected. Cherished. … I could love him.

 I thought I could love him. I do, so very much. He and I have had to grow and mature and we still wotk so hard to build this love we share. He has been my protector and rock for 11 years. He still makes me feel beautiful and brilliant on a daily basis, like last week when he told me how proud he was of Ujamaa Maker’s Market. 

Our first photo as a family of four.

When Palmer was born and had to go to the NICU there was this nurse who was just mean. Most of the time I can handle myself but at that time I was broken and exhausted and My hubby, who was also struggling got her together on my behalf in such a way that I will always be grateful. 

Last year and since losing Pat, there are times when I need to be handled delicately through my grief. He recognizes it and honors it. These eleven years have been magical and full of lessons. We have had beautiful and ugly times. Yesterday someone asked me what is the biggest lesson marriage has taught me and I think in my own life it is gratitude. 

I am grateful for this French stranger. I am so grateful he continues to show up and work hard towards our mutual happiness. I am grateful for each day we have been able to wake up to eaxh other either by phone, email (there was no texting  11 years ago) or in person.  
I love you Carboni! 

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Day 16: I take care of myself…

Mantra soap from SisterCare Alliance. I read it aloud everytime I shower… “I take care of myself in every way and in every environment. ”

… In every way and in all environments. In business and leisure. In family, marriage, motherhood and friendships. And for some reading this, you will assume selfishly. I take care of myself first because if not I am useless to everyone else. I can’t be all there to love, support or build with my husband and sons, sisterfriends, family or community if I don’t first pour love and care into myself. I taught a class last night and the mantra was: I deserve my own care. 

You do. We all do. I see so many stupid memes about putting others before yourself. I have been accused of being a bad friend if I create boundaries or walk away from interactions in the name of my own needs. I’ve read articles about the selflessness a good mother should have. MALARKEY.
Let me tell you that it’s a lie. To be great and loving… present with gratitude and compassion, You will have to take care of you. You will have to make yourself a priority. You may have to leave or stop. You will have to say no and let that be a complete sentence. You will have to make space for yourself. You will have to be authentic and spend time learning who you are and what you need/want. You will have to eat well. You will have to be tender with yourself. You will have to step into your  power.  You will have to decide you want a life that really feels good, instead of just  looking good. 

Taking care of you is going to be hard work. 

You are worth it.

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