Infectiously Happy

Four small Ways to Instill Confidence in Small Children. 

Super Flying Palmer... Courageous. Assured. Free.
Super Flying Palmer… Courageous. Assured. Free.

Recently Palmer told me that some other kids didn’t like him. My heart broke. I know that everyone can’t like him. There is always going to be someone that doesn’t like you. But, um, I think he is awesome so I had a little lump in my throat. I went in for further understanding. I mean, I need to know why I might fight someone. LOL. Just kidding, kinda. So he told me that the “mean guys” didn’t like him and they told him so. When I asked him how he felt about it he said, “It makes me sad.”  Cue all the feelings. I then asked him, “Do you like you?” I wasn’t ready for his answer. “Yes mama, of course! I love me!!!” So I asked, ” Do they ever hurt you physically?” And he replied, “No, because I know how to keep myself safe. I wouldn’t let them just hurt me.” That’s when the room got dusty and the dust got in my eyes. I sat with our conversation for a bit. As I said in the beginning, our “likeability” is fleeting. Wanting to be liked has held me in bondage, stifled the truth and prolonged my involvement with interactions that were not serving my best self. I have been slowly, over years, shedding that need to be liked but it’s hard. I don’t want to pass that on. On another layer, because I am raising two BLACK people in a world that is consisently devaluing our experience, I have sincere intention around making sure they know their worth. In all things, I have no control over anyone but myself. I do have control over how I interact with them. I control how I will affirm them. I control whether or not I give them agency over their minds and bodies. I am working hard every day to show them they are capable, powerful and important, even at three and one year old. We can take small steps in our daily lives to give them a confident outlook on their experience. Just a few ways…

Give them responsibilities. Somewhere, somehow, the lie started that children can’t grasp responsibility. Every day, Palmer has jobs. Small jobs, that I can easily do, usually much quicker but I need him to know what it feels like to take care of something. Sometimes his jobs are convenient for him, like putting his shoes in the basket when we come into the house. Sometimes his jobs are not his favorite, like putting away his toys before bed, when he still wants to play. That is real life. Even at three, he understands what he is supposed to take care of. He gets responsibility. He may even go off if you try to take care of it for him because somewhere inside, his little soul has pride in getting it done himself. As he grows, as Duke grows, they get bigger jobs. And eventually I am swinging in a  hammock while they make me smoothies and sweep the kitchen. Just (kinda) kidding.

Let them create.  I am not talking about a pinterest project. I mean let them create their own entertainment, help with meals, create their own fun. We can be overbearing in our need to make “fun” activities or keep them from making a mess. Let them make messes. Let them see what they can do, what their efforts can bring forth. It may take longer. Make time for them. They deserve our time. The greatest fun I see Palmer have is when he is making his own food or playing a game that only he knows the rules to. He has a things for paper airplanes and origami that makes mail or my writing notes unsafe. The joy I see when he is immersed in his own versions of meditation through play are inspiring.

Listen to them. Even if they do not yet have words. Listen to the sounds, pay attention to their body language. Feel the energy they are giving you. They know what feels good, what they want. We can allow them to say no. It is how we teach them to keep themselves safe and listen to themselves. Palmer is old enough (physically and mentally) to tell me alot about himself. I remind myself constantly to plug into what he is really saying to me. Even with Duke, who is just finding words, those little screams are his way of communicating. I vocalize that I am listening, even if what they don’t like, getting a diaper change or seatbelt, is needed. I will tell them, “I hear you.” “I see that you don’t like ____ .” If I can adjust the situation to be more pleasing, I do. For me that is about letting them know that their discomfort is important and their experiene is valued. Try showing that to grown ups, it’s much harder work.

Check our egos. They are not ours. They came through us, but they belong to themselves. We would serve them and ourselves to remember that. Our behavior has to reflect that they are small humans and not property. We have to treat them with the same respect we require because from day one they are learning what it means to be treated kindly and humanely from us. It can be hard to walk in this truth because as parents we don’t want to be judged harshly if our child is not listening our crying in public. That is our ego. The reality is that your child will not listen. They are going to do things that may embarass you or make others uncomfortable. They are learning in each moment, so they aren’t trying to manipulate you. Most likely thay are asking for help or expressing overwhelming feelings.  We have to make sure that our interactions with them are not being fueled by fear, anger and ego. Violence (Read: spanking, popping, physical intimidation) have no place in raising confident humans. It serves the purpose of breaking, training and controlling through fear and pain. You cannot build someone up and break them down at the same time. Our ego is easily bruised, even as parents. We have to be willing to check it and interact from a place of understanding and ease.

 

Just small steps that can leave a big impact. I know because my mama parented me this way. This is my intentional legacy to them. My dedication as a mother is to free, empowered, confident people who can trust themselves.

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What do you want to create?

what-do-you-want-to-createI’m going to slide into this post like I have been posting regularly… like I haven’t been writing this post for a few months… like I am not finishing up at 1130pm on a Saturday, with a baby tied to my chest… Lately I have been asking myself the same question. What do I want to create? Why should I be a part of this or that? Why should I work on those days? Why should I start a new project or offer new classes? The why is rooted in one thing: my motivation. What am I trying to create in my life? The lives of my small children? In my community?  I think it is important to check in often to make sure that your daily actions are in line with your focus. So lets start with my motivation/goal/focus… most simply it is EASE. I don’t mean I want everything to be easy. By EASE I mean I don’t want my peace disturbed. I don’t want temporary situations and emotions to take me to places of needless suffering… I want joy to be the norm of my day. I want my ease to inspire peace within every single person I have contact with and experience I am a part of. For me ease can mean a lot of things. It means being rooted in my choices for occupation and lifestyle so even in tough times I don’t want to abandon it. It can mean financial abundance so there is not the stress of figuring out how to make ends meet. It can also mean the freedom to enjoy the things that bring me joy daily and not just on the weekend, in the midst of a jam-packed schedule. I am at the beginning of a phase of teaching less, preparing and learning. I am pulling back and turning inward. I am making space for changes, growth and creation. I want to remind you that we are each powerful in our own lives, so the ease I seek can only be created by me. I have a few notions on how…

Minimize. I think I have been saying this for a while but, Less is more. We deserve to have order, focus and a sense of direction in all aspects of our lives. The more we have, the more fragmented our energy becomes. For me, it has been important to focus on what is contributing to what I want to create [read:EASE]. This means my interactions are changing, my habits are changing and my spaces are changing. I am walking in the practice of aparigraha, sanskrit for Non-Attachment. I frequently come back to ask myself, “What do you want to create?” and I let my answer serve as the guide. What stays and what goes, are tied to the answer. The purging is not easy but it is necessary.

Take daily action. Take the big steps or the baby steps, hell crawl if you need to but take action. Talking about the life you want is great. Contemplating. Reading. Studying… All of it is beneficial and inspiring, but it is wholly useless unless it is accompanied by action. We will let fear paralyze us at every turn, but life is truly meant for living and thriving. We cannot expect to live if we are only trying to survive or addicted to the suffering that comes with living a life without purpose or drive. Connect to what you really want. Make a list of the steps that get you there. Then get to work on creating.

Remember it is all temporary. The road to ease may  be filled with little pebbles. The irritating kind that find their way into your shoe when you are really on the move. Maybe there is one small one or a whole heap that make you feel like you can’t continue, like you selected the wrong path. It is in those moments that you must have a conversation with yourself. I have to remind myself of the temporary nature of everything. The ability to connect to my goal of creation refocuses my energy but also serves to give perspective.

Be authentic in your quest. Be real. Be vulnerable. Tell the truth. And this one will make you unpopular. We are so conditioned to put on a mask and create an identity that we are not creating a life we love. It becomes the opposite of ease. We are consistently trying to keep up the façade and it is exhausting. Even in business we are taught to keep a firm line between personal and business. I had to ditch that advice. I am mindful of business needs but I am honest with my clients, students and business partners. I want to create wellness in my community and to do that I have to make it personal. I have to be real about where I am on that journey.

I am one week into this self-imposed period of reflection and preparation and I already feel a big shift. I have enjoyed some long over due moments of rest. I am looking forward to the time with family that comes with this time of year. I am looking forward to sharing more here. I will continue to ask myself, “What do you want to create?”. I want to challenge you to do the same. Let’s be mindful with our lives, intentional with our energy and open to the unfolding of our individual journeys.

What do you want to create?

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Raising Boys is Gross.


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In a few weeks, I will welcome a second son. And to answer ahead of time, it’s unlikely I will “try for a girl”. I wasn’t disappointed.  I am all about everything happening exactly as it should. I am supposed to be mothering two sons. In my short time in this role, I have come to the understanding that the raising of sons is gross but more like disgusting and it has nothing to do with my actual children. I am a woman, raised by another woman so I know the truth of what we face in the expectations and limitations of how we are socialized. I have though, come to a whole new understanding of what it means to try and raise boys to men in a society so consumed with outdated ideas of what makes a man…

Men shouldn’t cry. Do you know how much it kills me to hear parents say to their sons, “stop crying, you’re being a baby?!” So everyone, even grown men, have tear ducts meaning everyone is designed to cry. It’s actually scientifically proven to be a stress reducing and cleansing operation both physically and mentally.  Somewhere along the way it was invented that crying is a lesser emotion so as a man it shouldn’t be done. I call malarkey. I actually make space for it. Palmer you are crying? Let’s talk about why. Come to me so you can be comforted. Let’s actually use this moment to learn more about you. How in the hell is it helpful to teach our sons to suppress a natural body function to perpetuate a false idea of manhood?

Your worth is tied to what you do. Or who you love. Or what you wear. I want to raise fearless, free humans. I refuse to teach them that they have to curtail their passions, their interests and their life’s work or decisions to a mold of worldly standards. Go to these schools,  get these kinds of jobs, buy all the things so the world can see how manly you are… This thinking creates unhappy drones, living lives of suffering.  When I talk to my grown sons I want to hear light and inspiration in their voices. I want them to be so happy with themselves that they make the world around them a better place. It starts at a young age by encouraging your children to create and play on their own. Actually exposing them to things broader than your own interests or letting them play just for the enjoyment of it creates space for them to discover passions and life interests. The focus on what you memorized or what score you got on a test, just reinforces the warped idea that success is measured by trivialities.

Women are here for your entertainment. Or conquest. Or to serve you. And the only way I can do that is by being a real woman with flaws and honesty. By becoming the highest version of myself,  loving myself and lifting other women up I hope to show my sons that women are humans with equal capabilities, goals and contributions. Connect with a woman, knowing that she is complex and worthy of engagement on intellectual and spiritual planes.

It all makes you gay. Playing with dolls or expressing interest in “girl toys” is not a life changing thing. Dance classes and playing in your mother’s things is not an early indicator of anything. Children learn through engagement and observation. I want my sons to know how to gently care for a baby because one day they may have a family and I want them to be the type of loving father they are growing up with. If they are talented in dancing, fashion design or anything else deemed “feminine”, I am here for it because it doesn’t make you gay!   And get ready to clutch your pearls… you dont control who your children will be when they grow up. You do contribute to how they will navigate life. Will they be able to trust you enough to come to you? Will they feel loved and supported instead of tolerated should they live and love differently than you?  File this under “things you should know about me”: being homophobic is the quickest way to ensure your exposure to my children will be cut. I won’t do it. I don’t know who they will love and for the sake of all possibilities I am not going to let you poison their thinking against others based on foolishness.

We are all multifaceted. We are all having very human experiences. I want my sons to know they are more than earnings, sexual conquests and dumbed down emotions and experiences. It’s disgusting that for some it’s going to seem weird or strange. As a fearless and free mama, I am willing to take the risk in the spirit of nurturing whole individuals with a life that exudes love, truth and joy.

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10 reasons you may love Tulum

IMG_20151218_201440After a very crazy fall, Frenchie and I decided that a family getaway was in order. We lost two beloved family members in a short amount of time, had been working opposite schedules and we were heading into the end of my pregnancy and probably several months without being able to travel. We needed some time to unplug and reconnect our little family. Palmer’s birthday was approaching and after some research we decided to head to the town of Tulum for just shy of a week.  It was exactly what we needed!  Our vacationing has had to change in some ways to accommodate naps (for little people and pregnant ladies) and car seats but some things remain true,  we like to be in quiet places, with beautiful water, delicious food and have a chance for adventure. Here’s the top ten things I loved about Tulum that may make it perfect for your next vacation…

1. You understand that dinner is best enjoyed under the stars. Every meal is basically offered al fresco. Even restaurants that are mostly indoors have a completely open front so you can enjoy the sunshine or moonlight, sounds of the street or beauty of the surrounding beach and jungle.

2. You are on a smoothie challenge. The smoothie game in Tulum is lit. Every restaurant has various and interesting options available all day made fresh with local produce. I don’t even know how many smoothies I had but I enjoyed every last one!

3. You want to be appreciated as a vegetarian /vegan diner. I have been about this vegetarian life for a minute so I can go out and make a meal, no worries but Tulum is busting at the seams with options for those of us that have a plant based diet. There are mulitple plant based restaurants and even steakhouses had 3-4 options that have nothing to do with steak.

4. You like your sand like baby powder. There is nothing like soft power sand under your feet next to crystal clear water. These two things can make me love a place all by themselves.  We spent most of our beach life at Playa Paraiso which was quiet with a great little beach club. The sand was truly like baby powder so we enjoyed building sand castles, walking the shoreline and just plain chilling most afternoons.

5. You like to eat well but on the cheap. Oh to always have access to such fresh, real food in such plentiful portions without depleting my pockets! This family likes to eat so we always have a substantial eating allowance, but Tulum didn’t break the bank. We basically ate all day and I would be amazed at how much delicious food could be devoured for so little dineros.

6. You don’t do big resorts. I love people but when I am on vacation I like to be around as few people as possible.  For this reason I prefer small hotels or even a local residence. Tulum is perfect,  it is home to boutique hotels and rent-able houses and condos. We rented a little apartment with a pool and a rooster across the street.

7. You are a bicycle enthusiast. To reach Tulum, most folks fly into Cancun and either rent a car or take a shuttle for the hour and half drive. It’s a straight shot and we rented a car to accommodate car seats and pregnant ladies. (Note: Car seats are not required in most states in Mexico as long as your child is in the back seat, but uh, that’s not how I roll) Once you arrive in Tulum, the most popular mode of transportation is by bicycle. They are for rent everywhere for low prices and the streets are wide enough, with drivers respecting pedestrians on foot or two wheels.

8. You like clean facilities. I have a secret. I am easily grossed out. Wet leaves… food in the sink drain… dirty bathrooms. It’s something that I would like to say I am working on but the truth is, it gets worse as I age. Whenever traveling, a part of me knows that I will be exposed to less than stellar facilities and I just do what I have to do but I was pleasantly surprised the entire time I was in Tulum. The bathrooms everywhere were, at least in appearance, much cleaner than I am used to in the public. Many even had attendants to keep everything on the up and up. One small thing to remember: in Tulum they often ask you not to throw any paper, even toilet paper, into the toilet. There is usually a sign and a trash receptacle for your rubbish.

9. You like paradise with a side of history. One of the things that deeply bonded Frenchie and I is our love of history, one of the others in a love of beautiful beaches. Tulum is a perfect combination of both. The city itself is the site of the archaeological ruins of the Mayan city of Tulum, the only city of its kind uncovered. It sits majestically over looking the sea with the jungle at its back. Additionally, just about an hour away, you can easily reach the city of Coba, which is home to the tallest Mayan temple in Mexico and is the start of a major trading highway across the Yucatan. Coba sits deep in the jungle and has only been partially uncovered. We spent part of two different days, wandering and learning at both sites.

10. You seek a kid friendly but not kid centered experience. I love my baby. He is a very important part of my life. He is not, however, the center of the universe or of our vacation plans. Palmer has been hitting the road (or air) for his entire two years so he adapts well to travel. Tulum was interesting because no one was bothered by our toddler, in restaurants or at beach clubs, but sometimes there were no high chairs, definitely no kiddie pools or playgrounds. We are readily raising a person who knows how to have fun everywhere and I loved how kind and friendly folks were to us as a family. Sometimes I run into grown ups who forget that children can eat in a restaurant or have the right to fly on planes. We were informed upon arrival that not many children visit Tulum, but everywhere we went Palmer was treated like the human he is. Our hosts even provided a life vest for our adventuring.

So that’s Tulum. The trip provided us with much needed time together and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an inexpensive and quiet piece of paradise.

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The Compassionate Parent.

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When I was a child, even now as an adult, I was blessed to know that my mother will “understand”. I mean she may not approve or agree. She may advice or discipline but I can always count on her to consider my perspective, to UNDERSTAND that my feelings, no matter how different than her own were valid. I can never fully thank her for this gift. It created a security for me, a sense of knowing that I was safe with her, that I was loved and cherished. It effected my own decisions, it ensured I set boundaries and chose a partner who made me feel that same way. Since giving birth to Palmer, I have had to think to myself, “How do I create this same feeling for him?” How do I parent with compassion? How do I find the balance between creating structure and supporting his own exploration?

Remember how it felt. Each of us is walking in our own perception. Even a baby. Of course as the parent you have been there, done that, but once you were a small child, or a teenager. If your childhood was blissful tap into the things that made it so, but if it was painful tap into that also. Putting yourself back into the frame of mind of a small baby who is cold or hungry, makes it easier to know that he or she isn’t crying because they are spoiled… they are crying because they need you. They have limited ability to express themselves. I learned early that different cries can mean different things. Whether my little one is hungry or just needs a hug I remember that we all cry out for help sometimes and we all deserve to be comforted…

Let go of control. Palmer doesn’t belong to me. He is his own person, created through Frenchie and I. We are here to teach him important lessons but if parenting has taught me anything, it’s that I am only in control of my own mind. I can do everything “right” and he can still be grumpy or refuse his food. I try to create the best possible situation by making sure he is well fed and has fun but he can still fall out on the floor over seemingly nothing and I have no control over it. Learning to roll with the punches and remain flexible has made all the difference.

Be respectful. Every day we are teaching our children how to interact with the world around them. This is no less true when it comes to being respectful. Sometimes I have to make Palmer do things he doesn’t want to… Wear a seat belt, get his diaper changed, go to bed… It is the nature of our relationship. I can however still respect him in the process. I still speak kindly to him, don’t force him into affection with anyone and make allowances for the fact that Target is only a fun place for a short amount of time. I respect the fact that he doesn’t know what an inside voice is yet and if something is round like a ball he is throwing it. He is learning. He deserves my compassion. How will he learn to be compassionate if he was always met with yelling and unkind words for each and every misstep?

Communicate. I am a talker. I like to use my words. Anyone who knows me will tell you that, even Palmer. Before he was even born I talked to him about anything. And once he made his way into the world it has continued. I talk to him about our plans for the day, who he will see, what I might need from him. I remind him that he is loved and I thank him for being patient and kind. Once in a grocery store I was explaining to my then 6 month old the ingredients I needed for a new Thai dish I saw on Pinterest and a woman coming down the aisle remarked that from the other side of the wall she thought I was speaking to a school aged child! I talk to Palmer like this for a few reasons but the main one is because my own mom did it for me. It taught me how to speak, playing a huge part in my own ability now to communicate exactly how I feel, what I need and how I set boundaries. And before you roll your eyes and sound off about children having a place and not having to explain yourself to a kid just know that one day your child will be a grown up and they need to know they have a voice. They learn how to use that voice from you.

I will never be able to fully articulate the gratitude I have for the way my mother chose to parent me. She allowed me to ask questions, explained why her decision was the final one but also always listened to me. It helped establish the value I have for myself and others. In the house I grew up in there were rules but there was also freedom. There was always an emphasis on love. She got her point across without belittling me or embarrassing me. She didn’t say no because she could. I was allowed to make decisions and she enforced consequences in fair ways with out cruelty or malice. I sometimes wonder if it was a conscious choice or something she innately did. I can only say that it is how I choose to be with Palmer. When he is out in a world bigger than he currently knows I want him to have a standard of compassion for his interactions with himself and others. That standard starts with me.

Until next time…

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Thank You Palmer

JMarkPhotos“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” – Osho

It has been an incredible year. The time elapsed at hyper speed and on 12/13/14, our village celebrated Palmer’s first birthday. In a lot of ways the time spent with family and friends was the perfect representation of the love and support Frenchie and I have received and the joy Palmer has brought to our corner of the world. I wanted to share the images that were captured, but also I wanted to take time to say thank you to my little guy. I am so grateful for the chance to be his mother, to teach him the power of his own mind, to show him what love looks like, but I have had my own lessons in this first year. Being his mother has opened up a part of my own heart that was filled with anxiety and resentment. I have always had a love for life and for my family and friends but like Osho said motherhood has made me new….

Forgiveness is the gift you give yourself. I, like anyone else have been hurt. I have experienced let downs, misunderstandings, pain. For a very long time I carried anger and resentment because of it. I couldn’t understand another person’s motives, they disappointed me and I held on to that, not realizing that it was poisoning me. Before marrying Frenchie, I was forced to take a long look at those feelings and forgive that person, my own father. When Palmer was born am additional light came on for me. Without making excuses for him, I realized how utterly overwhelming the task of parenting is. He had given what he had available. My own attachment to what he should have or could have done was not serving anyone’s growth or happiness. I am not perfect and even if I make all the best decisions for Palmer, there will still be mistakes. And in the same way I hope P will love me anyway, I decided to love my dad. I mean I always loved him, but I was angry. Realizing that and forgiving him has made more room for love. And I (you) can always use more love.

Speak Life into your situation. This year has been filled with ups and downs. I love being Palmer’s mother but it comes with it’s own tests of will and endurance. From Palmer’s NICU stint to our current bedtime battles, my pervading mode of operation is to remain positive. It is all temporary. I will deal with the portions I control and remain grateful regardless of the outcome. On those first days when P was hooked to so many monitors and they were giving us more bad news than we could handle, I received my first lesson on the power of my own positivity. I surrounded myself with people who would speak love and life into our situation and in every moment I could, I passed that on to him. During a breast feeding session in the NICU a nurse heard me singing a song to P and said, “What are you singing?” I explained that I was only uttering one word: Breathe. That’s all I needed him to do so he could come home. And he was listening. He was released only a few days later, even though we had been told he would remain for weeks. I try now to always speak love and life into him, especially in tough, sleepless moments, when I want to pull out my hair and run screaming down the street!

If you ever encouraged me, sent kind thoughts, prayers or love in our direction, I thank you. Our ENTIRE village is amazing and they have made our first year as a family really incredible. I am so grateful that Palmer is loved by so many. One day I hope Palmer is googling himself on the internet and he finds this post, so this last part is for him:

I love you Buddy. I thank you for bringing out the best parts of me. You have created joy for everyone around you and for that I am so grateful. Your Papa and I are so proud of you. You bring so much happiness to our days. I hope you always know and feel the love that surrounds you now.

-Mama

Please enjoy the pictures from his birthday celebration! Many thanks to Uncle Jeff of JMark Photos for these images!!! Thank you to Tiffany at Sweet Slices for the beautiful and delicious cake and cupcakes. And Many thank yous to Jasiatic with Eat Your Bliss for the delicious vegan foods!

Team Carboni-Woods
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Fresh Rolls by JasiaticPapa. P & Aunt TineshaTinesha & PP & Gigi
Fruit Salad by JasiaticP and Aunt Jessica Palmer & Lailah Palmer & SundiataONE!Blow out the CandlesCake?full housewhat is so funny GigiMarquita, Grandma Tiny and PSetarra & Moyeh Marquita & Sheenaparty peeps1P & Tiffany party peeps 2Palmer Addis

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The Snapback Set Up.

big bellyI have been turning this post over and over in my mind, but finally I think I am ready to address it. I have a request really. It revolves around releasing attachment. I am not sure who decided the term “Snap-back” should be applied to a woman who has just had a baby, but as such a woman I need it to stop. This is about more than fitting your pre-pregnancy clothes or avoiding stretch marks. I find that this term and the ideology that a person can create another person in their body, begin to care for that person and at the same time they should work as hard as they can to be as closely resembled physically/emotionally/mentally to the person they were before, COMPLETELY ridiculous. The world is pushing images of celeb moms in their “perfect” bodies, strolling in stilettos pushing a stroller like that is real. Family and friends want to know why you are so unavailable. You are figuring out how to “snap-back”. So I am just going to say it… This is a set up! And in the end it can leave a person feeling overwhelmed and full of self-doubt. Becoming a mother has been the most incredible experience, with a level of love I had yet to realize. You should be allowed to bask in that, to feel accomplished when your baby smiles up at you without fixating on unrealistic pressures to “snap-back”. So before you become a mother or utter this foolishness to another expectant mother/new mother/woman or yourself let me give you some perspective to consider…

You will be changed. I could limit this to the fact that your body has contorted to amazing dimensions so it is reasonable that it will take time to regain its former size, but that is limiting the change. My body did change, but mostly my purpose changed. My desires and perspective on what it means to be beautiful and sexy have evolved. They had to. If I held my self to the same standard as before I was nursing, being wrestled and kissed with an open slobbery mouth, I would only find disappointment. For now I have to wear flats most of the time, let go of full face make up and dainty light materials. Cottons and prints are my new go-tos and my style needs to be able to roll around on the floor. I still work hard to eat well and be active but even that is different. Embrace it.

Stop looking outside. The truth is going to be different for each and every person. This is no less true for parenting. Just as I am unique, so is my son. Our family must do what works for our family and that can and will look different from other families. New responsibilities will change the way you can and will interact with friends, family and previous activities. People you love will put pressure about what they think you should be able to accomplish. You are going to have to be honest with yourself and those around you about your unique reality. You will have to decide what your life looks like once you add a little person to it without outside influences trying to make you feel as if you are missing something. Maybe you don’t return to work, 5 mile runs or exotic vacations at first. You have been called to a new life that will take some adjustments

Find the balance. The desire to be all is no greater than when you have created another person. They need everything from you, but the world you brought them into is still requiring things from you. The reality is that you cannot do it all. You shouldn’t. Do what you can, when you can. Ask for help. Do your best and find peace with the fact that some things (text message returns, social media, housework, working out) will have to fall in line with new responsibilities. Eat well, find ways to be active, take time to rest, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t return to 6-1 hour workouts per week. Flat abs don’t help a baby sleep through the night.

Honor your Connections. Love is what created the little life you are now charged with, so in the myriad of old and new responsibilities be sure that you are honoring the connection that created this child. My husband and I love adventure together but that picture has had to adjust. We have new focuses, both financially and mentally. We have to carve out time for each other together and separately in new ways so date nights, vacations and even the simple act of going to practice yoga must be planned differently. Our relationship to each other has evolved because we share our love in new ways that were overlooked before.

When Palmer first arrived and I was figuring out my new body, new responsibility and how to “snap-back”, I was overwhelmed. I often felt like I was failing myself or him or the people I loved because I could not figure out how to get back to the life I had created before and then I had an epiphany… I shouldn’t be doing that! The idea that I should try to be the same is ridiculous. I am changed. FOREVER. I am more brilliant and beautiful. I have grown in ways that cannot be measured by pre-pregnancy jeans. The body I am blessed to have has evolved. Yes I could be a certain weight again, goals are healthy. I have goals for myself physically, but I also have a new level of compassion and understanding of my purpose. My body is still healthy and strong, but it cannot be the same. It’s not reasonable to ask that of ourselves. We have done something life changing.

Until next time :)

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