Let’s have it all?!

Men cannot have babies – just in case there’s any confusion (my husband promised he’d carry baby #2 and that did not happen).  Women obviously are physically meant to carry children and emotionally equipped to raise them. But somehow during feminism’s evolution, the line between family and ambition became blurred.

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My friend, Brooke, recently gave birth to a little girl. Her and her husband both have college degrees and notable work experiences.  Before the birth of their daughter, Brooke and her husband made the decision for Brooke to stay home after their baby was born.  After an extremely rough delivery and even more difficult recovery, Brooke was still trying to make peace with their decision.  She felt like she needed to work because of her education. During a visit Brooke’s aunt made a comment along the lines of “I just don’t know how people have any value if they aren’t making money?” Good job of putting guilt and stress on a woman who is a new mom trying to find her way through motherhood and hormones! Brooke’s aunt happens to be a big wig at a good sized company and never had kids. Maybe the comment was interpreted out of context, but regardless, what the hell does that mean?! And why do people think they can say whatever they want?! Brooke’s aunt actually doesn’t get an opinion about kids and working – she never lived through it.

Very few mothers are able to stay home in today’s modern world due to financials.  A 2012 Gallup Poll surveyed women to get an idea of how many women are staying home to raise their children (Follow the link if you want all the specifics – Gallup Poll for stay at home mom’s). The numbers are staggering compared to the 1950s.

Women’s rights have evolved immensely in the past century.  Bra’s have been burnt, girls have been beaten, and women have been killed in an effort to gain the same rights as men. But have all these efforts, sacrifices, and breakthroughs resulted in serious unintended consequences?

A woman’s traditional role is wife and mother – the family caregiver.  The traditional female role has made an earth-shattering evolution that has reshaped morals and altered family values.  In this always progressing digital world women are now expected to have it all; get an education; have a full time career; maybe get married; maybe have kids; maintain a perfect physique; have a perfect house; homemade dinner on the table; etc, etc, etc! The list is so lengthy it’s impossible and exhausting to even attempt to complete!

Feminism has given women the right to choose to – participate in sports; achieve a higher education; to excel in the workplace; have children; get married; buy a house; wear what we want. We are no longer just baby factories. Hallelujah!!

However, the evolution of a woman’s role has changed society’s perspective on women who want to be a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM as many call it).  “I’m just a mom” is not good enough for society, everyone wants more. But woman again, should have the right to proudly choose. A woman can have a college degree, follow a career path, then choose to stay home and raise her children. Being a SAHM, let alone a career woman, is a full time job with no sick days or vacation days. And guess what, we can even choose to go back to work after our children are in school or stay home!

No matter what kind of pressure society, or in most cases, family members put on us – choosing to work or stay home is our choice. Raising children is truly the most valuable thing a woman can do, even if we don’t make a cent in the process. The return on investment is priceless.

The most important thing is to make peace with whatever you or your family decide is best for you and your children. This means – WE CAN HAVE IT ALL!  But be ready, whether you decide to work or stay at home – it’s going to be an exhausting ride!

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“In The Trenches”

We have all been there – that moment where nothing seems to be going right or as planned. That moment you are running out the door and everything happens at once – one child poops their pants; one kid pours everything out of the diaper bag; the dogs run into the yard because one kid opened the door; you lose your keys in the midst of repacking the diaper bag (only to find you actually put them in the diaper bag); you get everyone loaded into the car; you run back into the house to grab a sippy cup and the favorite toy of the week; you finally get the dogs back inside; a child unlocks their carseat; you get everyone re-strapped into their seats; you start the vehicle and realize … I’M ALREADY EXHAUSTED AND I HAVEN’T LEFT THE DRIVEWAY?!

Throughout life as a mom, there are challenging phases with children – I like to refer to these as “in the trenches”. Most moms and parents can appreciate this comparison and being “in the trenches” can sometimes feel like a lonely, never-ending phase.

Like when your little one is a baby – you are running on zero sleep and can’t remember the last time you took a real shower or slept for longer than 3 hours at a time. Or when your toddler is screaming at the top of their lungs because they can’t communicate and you clearly didn’t give them the right dinner. How about those Pre-K years when all the kids do is bicker over who gets to play with Elsa or they scream when you refuse to buy them strategically placed candy in the checkout aisle. Or the dreaded teenage years where there’s a 90% chance your child will hate you at some point if not all the time.

IN THE TRENCHES!

Ever been to the grocery store with 3 small children? I tend to wear workout clothes because I know taking my small army of strong willed children to the store does not usually teeter in my favor. One usually begs for that princess cup in the breakfast aisle; another is trying to climb out of the cart; while the other isn’t able to comprehend you have to buy the food before you eat it. By the end of the shopping trip (after the epic battle to get out of the driveway), I usually look slightly disheveled and understandably frazzled. Occasionally another shopper will smile and say “you have your hands full.” But there are also moments when moms gently smile and say something like “Oh honey, you’re going to make it. It’s just tough right now but I promise you will get through this. You’re doing a great job!”

Those women get it; they’ve been in the trenches at one time or another, raising babies, surviving the chaos and sleeplessness that is the very definition of motherhood. I am so thankful for these no judgment women, who even though are strangers, can relate to public survival with children.

Inevitably I am told moms do survive what I can only describe with a war term. During life in the trenches with our children we create those memories we will “laugh at someday” – but in the moment you just aren’t sure if you will make it. Someday you will be able to get out of the driveway without feeling like you are competing in an Olympic decathlon. Better yet, you will be able to go to the grocery store without having to explain to your child why you aren’t buying all the boxes of princess gummies. And when you do feel alone, trust me, you never will be – other moms are fighting the good fight right next to you. We are all muddy wishing for a long, uninterrupted shower!

“They grow up fast!”

My Grandma always says “Enjoy your babies when they’re little because they grow up so fast!”.  I’ve always understood the sentiment behind her advise – but for some reason I didn’t fully understand it until the other day. 

As moms, we are constantly on the go – making meals, grabbing snacks, thinking about what’s for dinner, doing laundry, kissing “owies”, cleaning, changing diapers, working, etc. etc. etc! Most of the time we are just trying to survive let alone sit down and stare at our kids through nostalgic eyes. 

A couple ago days I actually did sit and just watch my babies – now 1-year-old and 2-years-old.  I watched my 1-year-old laugh, read books, and terrorize my 2-year-old, while my 2-year-old picked up small toys and put them in a container to carry around their playroom. They both brought me toys asking “Dis?” and “What’s this?” and gave me repeated “squeezy” hugs. We read books all the time, but on this day, we read even more.  We smiled and laughed even more. 

My kids absolutely amazed me. 

Their steps amazed me; their laughs amazed me; their words amazed me; their sharing amazed me; their eyes amazed me; their personalities amazed me – I was flat out amazed.  For the first time, I actually understood what my Grandma means.

Just yesterday my toddlers were babies and somehow, overnight they started walking and talking. The epiphany hit so hard it brought me to tears – Life has flown by these past three years and will only start going faster.  In a few months even, my once babies will be progressing to other milestones and they are constantly growing.  Even sappier – before I know it they will be off to college and living lives of their own.  

As a self proclaimed perfectionist with a driver personality (go-go-go and get stuff done!), I have recently made my main goal in life to enjoy my kids and to “smell the roses” on a daily basis.  Don’t get me wrong, I still attempt to get stuff done. But in life, stuff will always need done.  And just a hint, you will never be caught up on laundry! (I frequently pull late night laundry parties and I still never get it all done!) – that’s life.  It is so easy to get wrapped up in cleaning, laundry, phones, and work, but the bottom line is simple – our kids are our reason for living and their very existence should stop us in awe. Yes, we all have moments where we literally want to pull our hair out or pop in some ear plugs, but instead of focusing on the bad moments, let’s change our attitudes and focus on the gem moments.   

While living in this hustle and bustle world that never sleeps, I challenge all parents to slow down a bit; hold your baby a little longer; read the dreaded long bedtime story (or two); watch your child learn instead of rushing them to the next task. I haven’t and don’t always follow the slow down.  But I have found when I do, I am a better mom, my kids are happier, and I enjoy my babies to the fullest because like Grandma says … “They grow up fast!”

A New Generation of Moms – “Mogul Moms”

My friends have always said, “Give Kim a few drinks and send her in to teach a sex-ed class and no teenagers would be having sex!” Maybe my friends say this because of the graphic depictions of birth I’ve privied them to, or horror stories of the days after giving birth.  Usually their eyes are about to pop out of their heads as I recall birthing details – “And that’s something they should teach you in birthing class!”

As frank as I am about giving birth, I have done it twice; within 12 months and 19 days of each other.  So obviously I “forgot” about all the pain of the first round and was ready to have another – a far far cry from the truth.  Don’t mistake me, bringing a baby into the world is beyond a shadow of a doubt the most incredible moment, I get choked up just thinking about it.  I classify having my kids as the “best day(s) of my life”.  But during pregnancy, when I was ready to punch most people in the face, colleagues said to me, “Trust me, all the pain over the past 9 (really 10) months will be worth it when hold your baby for the first time.” I stood there in disbelief and with my disheveled eyes and hormonal zit ridden face protested “Yeah, I’m so sure.” They were right.

Before I met my husband I had no desire to get married let alone have any kids – “There’s no way I’m giving up my body for anything or anyone!” I was going to be a career woman because that’s the way I was raised – “I don’t need a man!” That ALL changed the day I met my husband. I am one of the lucky ones; as soon as I met him I knew we would spend our lives together. Our marriage is a sappy “love at first sight” saga that makes most people puke a little in their mouths. That day changed my outlook on life and suddenly my road to being a mom began. After a year and a half of marriage, we took the plunge and decided to try to have a baby.

I always wondered what kind of mother I would be. My husband hypothesized I would be easy on our kids and he would be the tough one (False and False). In my head I envisioned being a mom who had dinner ready on time every night, singing and rocking my babies to sleep, and of course having the smartest kids in the world. Let’s get one thing straight – no kid will read by the time they are two and there is a very slim chance despite all your planning efforts you will have an immaculate dinner ready every night.

But after having two babies and surviving some of the “stuff they never tell you about”, I am still trying to figure out what kind of mom I am. I am also still trying to find that perfect balance of being a wife and being mom. But when you’re a “mom”, suddenly there are more responsibilities around the house, not to mention most moms work full time jobs also resulting in not enough hours in the day. Even stay at home moms can find themselves overwhelmed with a multitude a new items to check off their to do list. And I would be oblivious if I didn’t mention the ever increasing pressure from society and social media to be the “perfect mom”.

Being a mom is the most important job I will ever have, even though it wasn’t in my original career or life plan. This realization brought me to the determination that being a mother in our generation isn’t as simple as being a mom – being a mother now entails being a “Mogul Mom”. We are the CEO’s of our family, whether we want to be or not; Moguls in our right. We have power to change the world, starting with our children. But every now and then our generation of Mogul Moms needs support from each other. While being a mom is the most important job, it is also, the hardest job of them all.