Fresh and Inspired

Running a marathon when you expected a mile

An open letter to moms who struggle the first year of their baby’s life:

If you adore those early days and thrive when your baby is one and under, then disregard this note. I know many women who love that early season and find more joy than struggle. That has not been my experience and I want to share my heart and lessons learned so that if you are feeling shame or guilt, you can know you are not alone.

My youngest of three kids turned one in November. I’ve been asked which transition was hardest — from zero kids to one, one to two, or two to three. Each time was difficult and beautiful for its own unique reasons. Something that has been true for me each time though is the intensity of that first year of your baby’s life.

In that first year your emotions, hormones, physical body, and thoughts are all over the place. You don’t feel entirely like “yourself” — especially when every ounce of your being is directed towards caring for this brand-new, unique, beautiful baby. In one day you can feel extreme euphoria and love for your precious gift, then guilt and shame for wanting a break knowing other women are aching for their own baby and can’t have one, then sadness and grief for wanting just a few moments of what life was like before, and then grateful and blessed for the sweetness of the moment when they fall asleep in your arms.

As each day passes and you begin to measure growth in weeks, and then months, everything slowly starts to settle and even out again. When that big milestone arrives it is an achievement to be celebrated. This first birthday marked a massive change in myself — it suddenly felt like I was “me” again. So I am writing to encourage you today. If you do struggle, it’s okay. If you don’t feel entirely like yourself, you will again.

Here are a few things that may help you during that first year with all it’s ups and downs:

Expectation — Most of us go into motherhood expecting to run a mile only to realize that first year is actually a marathon that we could never prepare for. That first year is a whirlwind of beautiful, perfect moments, the deepest, most raw love as well as intense hormones, sleep deprivation, and unchartered territory in taking care of a baby. It’s a long, tiring run to the end of that first year and you will feel like you may never feel yourself again. For the rest of your life you will be mom, but as that first year draws to a close so many of the massive ups and downs even out and that emotional and mental space will be restored for you to re-engage with those other aspects of your identity more wholly again.

Failure — There will be moments when everything seems to be falling apart and failing. Parenting is one long journey of trying things for the first time; there is risk involved in every step into new territory. We will get it right sometimes and we won’t other times. 99.9% of the time everything works out whether what we did succeeds or fails. Once one season passes and you feel like you’ve passed through successfully, there is another one just around the corner full of the unknown and surprises, good and bad, waiting for us to risk, fail, and succeed again. All shall be well. 

Self-care — During this first year it will probably feel very selfish for you to do something entirely for yourself. For your own well-being find 2 hours a week that’s an immovable, standing date with yourself. It’s always on the calendar and you can look forward to and plan for. Being a mom is all-consuming — every ounce of our being is directed towards caring for our kids whether we are focused on them in the moment or not. This time away to breathe and just be is essential to crossing the line of that first year marathon in a jog rather than crawling over it.

PrioritiesHaving a baby is like adding another full time job to your life. It forces you to re-evaluate all you have going on in your days, weeks, and months, whether that evaluation is conscious or unconscious. If you are able to step back for a moment and think about or even write down all the things you do and are committed to, it will help to focus on the order of priority those things. And you may find that you have room for priorities 1-5, but not 6-8. Take a deep breath and exhale those priorities for this next season. It doesn’t mean they’ll be gone forever. It just means during this first year, they aren’t as important and necessary. They can be added back in after you finish this marathon run.

After each of my kids turned one, everything shifted. Finishing that marathon was an accomplishment and energizing. You realize you are stronger than you ever thought you were. You are more capable than you give yourself credit for. And your capacity for love and grace and joy have grown exponentially. Here is a beautiful quote that always reminds me to fully engage with and embrace the season regardless of its joys and sorrows:

Sometimes I need

only to stand

wherever I am

to be blessed. (Mary Oliver)

Blessings dear friends as you see the place you’re standing in is awesome and holy and that you are not alone,

April

p.s. If you found this helpful, share the love with family and friends! And if you don’t want to miss any future posts click here to subscribe.

Advertisements
Thrifty and Practical

Inspiration for gray January days

January and February are long, cold months in the Midwest. The past few weeks, I’ve found myself craving beauty, warmth, color, and inspiration. Anyone else feeling the need to create or soak up something beautiful to combat the lull after all the end of year activity? Here’s a collection of some current sources of inspiration. What’s been inspiring you lately to combat the January and February grays?

She Reads Truth

img_7828
There are so many reasons I love this app, website, Instagram, and products. They’re beautiful, simple, and speak volumes without being overbearing or intense.

Homesong // Mama Watters 

img_7829
I adore this blog and Instagram photos. Amanda Watters (Mama Watters and creator of Homesong) brings glory and meaning to the everyday moments of life. Her photos inspire, her home exudes warmth, and her thoughts and words encourage.

A Couple Cooks

img_7830
This dynamic duo inspires me in the kitchen. Their recipes and podcast are amazing. I love the fresh and vibrant approach they have with food. If you’re craving something delicious and wholesome goodness, head on over to A Couple Cooks. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Simple Things

img_7832
I was introduced to this magazine by my mother-in-law. It’s a British publication and I adore it. Full of recipes, unique products, and book reviews, its beautiful design and cozy encouragements are just what the doctor recommends this January. Plus, each volume has a short article called “My Day In Cups of Tea.” How great, and British, is that?!

Oh Happy Day

img_7834
If you ever need inspiration for party planning or bringing bright and cheery vibes into your life, check this out! Jordan Ferney is all sorts of fun and happy and she shares her creativity with flair!

PoetryMary Oliver, Wendell Berry, The Passion Translation Psalms and Song of Songs

I can’t live without poetry and the beautiful way words can be used. Check any of the above out and you will be inspired! Here’s a snippet of a poem for you:

The snow

began slowly,

a soft and easy

sprinkling

of flakes, then clouds of flakes

in the baskets of the wind

and the branches

of the trees —

(Mary Oliver, “November”)

Vintage china and fresh flowers

img_7838
I love to browse thrift shops for pretty, vintage fine bone china. Saucers and plates become candle holders, soap dishes, collectors of change, the list could keep going. This sweet, little vase was $1.50 and was too perfect to pass up.
img_7825
Aldi and Trader Joe’s have $3.99 and $4.99 bouquets. Right after the Christmas decorations came down, I started buying a bouquet a week just to bring some color and freshness indoors to combat the grey, cold Midwest winter outdoors.

Beautiful art currently obsessed with watercolor, especially the Color Watercolor etsy shop

img_7835
Despite my best efforts at becoming artistic, I’ve never been able to produce anything resembling art. I LOVE and APPRECIATE original art. In warmer weather, I love to browse local shops and ogle the different pieces on display. Etsy fills that gap in my life during the cold months when going out in the cold is the last thing I want to do.

Music – these days, Without Words Synesthesia, hymns, and Dario Marianelli 

img_7836
Throwing some music on during the day instantly changes the mood and atmosphere of a room. I can’t stop listening to Bethel’s instrumental album, Synesthesia or old hymns with super powerful lyrics. I’ve also been listening to soundtracks by Dario Marianelli. He’s music is beautiful, light, and moving.

Rifle Paper Company 

img_7837
Can I buy one of everything, please? Rifle Paper Co is by far the one thing I would indulge in if I had endless amounts of money to spend on notebooks, stickers, phone cases, gift tags, paper, etc. It’s all just too beautiful and perfect.