Dear Instagram Mom

Sometimes I feel like my blog is misstitled. Like I feel almost as though it should be something birth control oriented because I talk about miscarriage and the hardships of parenthood, not the rosy aspects of raising kids. Seriously though, children are an absolute joy and my life would be so incomplete without them, but I would be dishonest if I told you they don’t drive me batshit crazy sometimes (sorry for my “french” mom…).

Today, for example. I have coffee every Friday with two women who are phenomenal. We get together over the roar of our kids playing/crying/nursing, and we intentionally talk about real things. One lesson you must learn as a mom, you don’t have time to shoot the breeze. You get to it, or get off the pot. I’ve always hated small talk, so this aspect of motherhood is one I fully embrace and quite enjoy.

So today my friend and I were discussing life, as per usual. And it came into my head that the woman we were lamenting about was the typical “Instagram mom.” You know who I mean. The one who Pinterests crafts and documents it. Who has a rocking body, despite an infinite amount of children/breastfeeding, and goes on weekly dates with her husband in which they are never tired, or just wanting to sit on the couch and sleep. She finds joy in every mother-f-ing second spent with her kids. She’s a DIY queen, and her home is always clean and in the best Joanna Gaines state.

Dear Instagram mom, do you exist for real? Dear Instagram mom who puts on the front– WHY?!? You are only causing SO MUCH STRESS for the rest of your peers. I’ve got wrinkles and stretch marks from my babies. Yeah, I try to work out once in a while, but most of the time I have to pick something that can be easily interrupted because I’ve got a four year old and one year old crawling all over me. For goodness sakes, I went to poop today and decided to close the door (God forbid) and opened it to find my four year old crying because he couldn’t find me. Seriously?

But my real questions are, when, dear IG mom, do you find time to shop/wear/keep clean the clothes that you have that are not only trendy but functional? What does your husband do that you can afford a $95 baby carseat cover that doubles as a nursing cover that the rest of us schmucks have to use a regular blanket for? How did you “just wake up like that” not covered in spit up or yogurt, or dried milk? How did you get your hair done just so? Where do you find your infinite drive and energy? And how are you and your husband so bright-eyed looking in your weekly date night pictures? How do you get a weekly date night? How are you not just wilting on the couch? WTF?!? Dear IG mom, please do not keep your secrets from the rest of us. Share them. Write them down and publish them for the world to read. I would gladly pay money to find out the secrets of your ways. Also, if this is just a front for your social media audience, I beg you, please stop it.

Sincerely,

Regular mom.

 

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Being Me.

Happy Monday! I hope all the mothers out there, in every sense of the word, had a wonderful day surrounded by their loved ones yesterday. I had a fabulous weekend with my two men, who spoiled me with coffee, a new nightstand, the best burger I’ve had in a long time, and fresh donuts on Sunday morning.

But…this post isn’t about Mother’s Day, it’s actually about me. I know, so humble right?

So, sometimes–and by sometimes I really mean more frequently than I’d like to admit–I just have out and out pity parties for myself. I think about all the things I was going to do or could have done and wonder what it would be like if I had. I look at other women my age who are pursing something similar to what I wanted to do and finding great success in it, and that little bug of jealousy rears it’s ugly head, leaving me in a puddle of self-induced sorrow. Pathetic right? Especially when I snap out of it and take a look at what’s really around me every day.

Back in my early college days, when shows like The Hills were all the rage, (yeah LC!) I really wanted to pursue something in fashion. I loved it. I was always well-dressed in college, except for those inevitable 8:00 a.m. classes where sweatpants were mandatory. I’d often have people on my floors frequent my closet to borrow my clothes, or ask for my advice on their outfits before a big date or whatever. I liked playing that role. I liked being confident in what I wore, and being able to help others feel good about what they were wearing too. I had dreams of opening up my own shop someday, and even had an internship with a small boutique in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to start learning the ropes. Then, I met Kyle. When we started dating, I wasn’t thinking that this was the year I would meet my husband. But, lucky for me, I did, and plans changed. And they changed for the better. Sometimes I think back to opening my own little store, realizing I never pursued it, and feel that twinge of regret. But then I snap out of it, and I think, if I had, I wouldn’t be married to the man I get to call my husband. My life just wouldn’t be complete.

I have held similar desires toward things like photography, or fitness, or blogging. I tried to be a photographer, but that just didn’t pan out for me, despite my efforts, and that’s okay. Instead, I get to use what I know to create great memories for my family, and there’s a lot less pressure involved. I get to do it for the pure joy, and nothing else. I’ve also really been into yoga lately. I have been taking a class from this lovely lady (but seriously, check out that link to her Instagram, she is insanely talented). I have always enjoyed the practice of yoga and the ability to see the small progressions your body makes, even in just one session. However, I also want to have more babies, and I can’t really be doing forearm stands while pregnant. Therefore, my dreams of becoming a really great yogi are going to be a little suspended, but that’s okay. That doesn’t mean that I can’t lay a great foundation for my practice now, one that will really get me ready for doing things like a forearm stand someday in the future. And that doesn’t mean I should enjoy doing yoga any less. After all, it’s basically the only thing that gets me out of bed at 6:45 a.m.

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And blogging. I started this blog in a different state of mind, as a frustrated mom of a colicky baby who felt so isolated. I loved my new role as mommy, but I also longed for something more. Everyone else’s life with their newborn seemed like nothing short of constant bliss compared to my scream-fests every day. When I wrote that first blog post, it was for nothing more than to vent. Writing has always been the best way for me to express myself clearly, and I definitely had a few things I needed to get off my chest. After receiving a lot of success from my posts, I’ve toyed with the idea of making some money off of my blog. But I quickly realized, in doing so, I wouldn’t be writing for myself, I’d be writing for the potential of making money (for those who do, there is nothing wrong with that, I’m simply saying I couldn’t personally find that balance). Instead of writing when I wanted to, I’d feel pressured to keep up a schedule, which wouldn’t allow me to be as spontaneous and write from the heart. And for me, that’s okay.

I’ve been asking myself a lot lately, when is it going to be okay to just be me? And by that question, what I really mean is, when am I going to be okay with just being me?

I’m a major people pleaser by nature. I hate feeling that others will be upset with me or dislike me. Previously, to the point of completely disregarding myself and the things I enjoy in life to pursue what would make me “look good” in the eyes of whoever I was trying to live up to. Such a lame way to live life, and I’m finally starting to see that. A few times throughout this past year, I have been able to stand up for myself when I’ve been wronged, or haven’t wanted to do something, and it feels great! But I’ve got a long way to go, and part of that will come with rooting my foundation–being okay with my choices and being me.

In just a few short weeks I’ll be turning 27. That’s a lot closer to 30 than I used to be. I’ve always envisioned being 30 as reaching the pinnacle of “you-dom” (yep, just made that up). You are who you are, and you embrace it. Throughout your 20’s there is so much change and shifting in life, things that happen which begin to define who you are. Not that there aren’t any changes when you’re in your 30’s, or 40’s or 50’s, but I just feel that by that time, these changes probably occur with a bit more of a grounded foundation. At least, that’s what I’d like for myself.

Instead of choosing a career in fashion, I chose to get married and become a mother. And you know what? I’d rather wear clothes covered in peanut butter and yogurt and watch Mad Men and the end of the day with my husband than be doing anything else. I love being a mom, it’s my thing. Instead of being a super awesome yogi right now, I’m slowly learning the habits to get there, while allowing myself time to fully focus on my son while he still actually wants my attention. And I love that. It works for me. I love the opportunity to practice yoga first thing in the morning and to attend class on Tuesdays. It’s a great way to start my day and get a little me time in. My forearm stand is waiting for me in the future, and I’m happy with that for now.

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In the midst of my pity party last week, I was reviewing these feelings with Kyle, and he said something to me that I think is so true. Being a mom, or not being a mom, or wanting to be a mom, it just totally changes your entire world. It determines your priorities. We began talking about the different roles that moms can play. We determined that there is a bit of a scale when it comes to motherhood. There are the moms that live solely for their kids on one side, and the moms who have kids who live solely for them on the other, you know, kind of like an accessory. Then, there’s that sweet spot in the middle of the perfect balance. When moms prioritize their kids just right, while still prioritizing themselves and their own dreams. I think that’s the place every mom strives for, we all just end up somewhere different on the scale, wherever that may be.

But ah…that perfect balance.

Here’s to finding it, and here’s to working my way toward finally being okay with being me. Twenty seven, I’m coming for you.

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Oh Social Media…

This post has been festering in my brain for months. It’s such a tough topic for me, and I have so much to say about it, but I want to make sure what I do say makes sense. And I don’t want to offend anyone, so I’m definitely leaving several thoughts and opinions to myself. But, one thing I know for sure is that I am a social media junky, but I’m working on it.

I love social media. Heck, I work for a company that uses social media as the backbone of it’s daily operations. I don’t get into all the new sites that the kids are on these days…I don’t know what KiK is and I’m pretty vague on my understanding of SnapChat. I stick to the basics: Facebook, Twitter (mostly for work purposes), Instagram (my vice), and Pinterest.

I think my addiction to social media started when we moved to Monticello. It was there that I was at home all day, just Judah and I. With a lack of friends and social life, I was obsessively checking my phone for some type of interaction. It was also at this time that I realized it was becoming a huge problem.

I really enjoy Instagram. To me, it’s more personal than Facebook, and I just love photos and getting a small glimpse into people’s lives. But, it was also a big struggle for me. I began to see only the “perfect” moments being posted, and I was sad to see that my life didn’t look like the lives I was seeing on my screen, and it began to eat away at me. I was (well, still am) terribly annoyed by the hashtags used to gain pointless followers and the feeling that the number of followers on your account somehow determined your self worth. I was growing insecure and more and more withdrawn from the real world because of it.

Then there’s Pinterest. I love this site. There are so many great ideas for projects, things to do with your kids, ideas for your home, recipes, and my favorite, clothes. Love it. But, just like Instagram, Pinterest was getting the best of me. I would look at the site and just want things, unnecessary things. Things I couldn’t have and didn’t need. And my insecurities grew.

Now, I know my insecurities in this time of my life were not just from social media. There were much bigger demons I had to work through, but let me tell you, these sites were not helping me face them.

But in my struggle to figure out this mess, I realized something. I can’t get away from it, as much as I want to, social media is here, and it’s here to stay. Social media is used for promoting business, it’s used to connect with friends and family, it’s used to promote this very blog you’re reading now. And, it’s only going to continue to grow. By the time Judah is old enough to use social media, I can’t even imagine what it will look like. But I know he will use it, and I know I’m going to want to stay with it enough to be able to understand what it is he’s doing.

So what does a person like me do when they find themselves insecure, addicted, and having lost some real friendships all because of a silly photo-sharing app?

Well, we moved to Oregon, which helped leaps and bounds. I know that’s not the solution for us all, but this move has been so great for our family, and this is just one of the smallest ways. I can’t even tell you how much less time I am spending on my phone since moving. It’s incredible. Yet, I still wish it was less. Particularly with Pinterest…gosh that site just gets you.

I think it’s okay to like social media, so I stopped beating myself up about it. I think it’s okay to follow people you admire and friends you have made to share in their days, their joys, or to look for inspiration. I’m just a little more careful with who I choose to interact with and why.

And, since moving, I have been busy. I have limited my time to checking my accounts at certain points in the day. And, with the beginning of new friendships and a fresh start here, I have found my desire to check in becoming less and less. Sure, I’m still on there, and definitely more than I should be, but I am starting to figure out how to balance it. And, I’m learning that my worth doesn’t come from my followers or the amount of likes and comments received.

It’s kind of ridiculous that something so silly as Instagram can make you feel insecure, but it totally can, and I know I’m not the only one out there. But, like I said, social media is here, and it’s not moving.

It’s going to be a challenge, but it starts with us, how we use it sets an example for our kids.

Where we find our worth is modeled to our children, and I for one don’t want my son basing his life’s value on a silly number.

Nervous Nelly.

I am an anxious person. I’m extremely introverted and often socially awkward. When I talk to someone I don’t really know, I am continually reminding myself to make eye contact and not to fidget. My mom has gotten on me before for giggling too much in that middle school, nervous kid of way, but I’m not doing it because I’m an airhead or silly schoolgirl. I’m doing it because I’m legitimately anxious and would rather go run and hide and just be alone.

This is a trait of mine that I don’t like. It’s annoying to be awkward and to get nervous or anxious about the silliest things, especially because I know what I get worked up about is usually nothing to be worried about in the first place. It’s also selfish. The root of my anxiety is often the fear of what someone else is thinking about me when in reality, they probably don’t care what I’m wearing that day, if my baby cries when we’re grocery shopping, or if I say the perfect thing to them.  It’s also rooted in the fact that I am a people-pleaser. Sure, sometimes this can be a good attribute, but other times, it’s just not. When I’m putting someone else first and doing something out of love for him or her, it’s wonderful. It’s rewarding for all involved. However, when I’m doing something for someone out of obligation motivated by a lack of confidence or fear of what they will think, I’m often doing it begrudgingly and without love and a servant heart for them. This leaves me with harbored bitter feelings, increased insecurity, and a false act of kindness. It’s not desirable.

Having a baby increases your awareness of your flaws, and I believe mostly because these are characteristics that you do not want to pass down to them. I want my son to be confident, easy to talk to, and care-free (in a responsible way, most of the time).  And, if someday my son should choose to get married, (when he’s 75…) I would want him to marry a strong woman who is loving and confident and who does selfless things out of love for other people. I want to set a good example to my son of what it means to be a good and confident woman, a strong and loving mother and wife.

I have been thinking about this topic this week because Judah and I are leaving today to fly out to Boston to celebrate my brother-in-law and sister and the beautiful little life she is carrying. I have flown more times than I can count, but this will be Judah’s first trip. I am a nervous wreck. I’m not nervous about getting to the airport in time or missing our flight. I’m confident I’ll be able to carry my son and our luggage around the airport easily. (When you become a mom, you gain the magical ability to balance a baby and 72 other things in your arms).  I have no worries about having had to plan a shower from 16 hours away and getting everything in place in one day once we arrive.

I’m worried about going through security. Not because I’m toting illegal substances and sharp objects. I’m nervous because I’m balancing luggage and a baby and I’m worried I will take too long putting our stuff in those cumbersome plastic bins and I will make everyone else behind me irritated because I’m taking longer than the average person to walk through the medal detector. I’m worried about Judah crying on the flight because his ears are popping and he’s uncomfortable. I’m worried because I don’t want to make everyone else’s 2 and a half hour flight uncomfortable.

When I sit and think about why I’m anxious about this, it’s ridiculous. I’ve been on flights before with babies and it’s not a big deal if they get a little fussy. Plus, it’s only 2 hours of life; in the grand scheme of things it’s not really an issue. And being slow through security, who cares? Everyone has to get there so early before their flights anyway to just wait around in a gate entrance, so what’s the big deal if they are held up for a few extra minutes in line? However, no matter how much I rehearse this logic over and over in my head, my insecure nature screams louder and louder.

I know my son, the little social butterfly that he already is, will LOVE the airport. There will be so many interesting people to look at and smile to. There will be so many new sights to for him to see and things to explore.  Plus, we are flying out late, after his bedtime, so I’m sure once he gets his milk and realizes how overly stimulating the hustle and bustle of the airport is, he’ll be out cold once we take off. Not to mention, the white noise of the plane engine will be an added sleepy bonus.

I’m learning, albeit slowly, how to overcome my fears and anxieties. How to not be so self-centered and insecure and to just be confident in my ability as a mother. So, Judah and I will take our first flight together tonight and there is a possibility we will take forever in the security line. There is a possibility, in fact, almost certainty… that I will be a complete spaz and drop things, or get held up because in my panic I forgot to show our travel sized liquids. There is a chance his ears will hurt during takeoff and landing, and there is the chance that he won’t sleep at all during the flight. And, if this happens, I need to smile, be happy we are headed out to see family and to celebrate something beautiful together. I need to just GET OVER IT.

I will be documenting our journey as best I can, partially in hopes to distract myself. If you would like to see our first flight adventure together, you can follow me on Instagram (bethanyruthalcock). Wish us luck, and if you could, say a prayer for this mama to chill out.