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Monday, July 8, 2013

300 stories ... and counting!

"Be brave enough to tell your story, 
and kind enough not to tell anyone else's." - Momastery 

"Momastery: is where we practice living bigger, bolder, and truer on this earth. Where we remember what we already know: We can do hard things, love wins, and we belong to each other. "

This is my 300th post on this blog, the Mommy Stories! 

I have known it was coming up for a month now, not sure exactly when it would roll around though. I've known I wanted to write something special, different ... yet I've been stuck lately, no clue what to say that hasn't been said or to express what this blog has come to mean to me.

Then today it hit me... while scrolling the newsfeed on Facebook, searching for things to forward to the Mommy Stories Facebook group, as I typically do ... Momastery had posted that quote above about being kind and sharing our stories. It was perfect! I strive to do those things every day on this blog, while encouraging other moms to share their stories in the group discussions and on my blog as guest features.

It's all about talking! 
I say to hell with holding it in. Moms should stop feeling guilty or judged. We NEED to talk about this great big scary weird and wonderful experience of motherhood. It's too tumultuous and magnificent not to share it with other moms who get it. It holds us back in our growth as mothers if we do not admit defeat or share mistakes, learn from them and move on toward happier moments.

The whole point of my blog and the discussion group is that it's OK to be who you are as a mother. It's good to acknowledge your child is different than your friend's child, therefore so, too, will be your experiences with childrearing.

One thing I started posting on our Facebook discussion group randomly are MOM THOUGHTS... randomness from my mom brain to yours. I get the MOST "likes" and comments on those posts than anything else I post. I think this example sums up what being a mom is all about: we get what the other is going through, even if our experiences are slightly different, and we NEED to know that someone else gets it and has done this before so we realize we aren't alone, we're normal, it's all going to be OK.

I've learned a lot from this blog and group, as it's grown into something I never expected. (I started this whole thing as a baby shower gift for my friends, some how-to advice!). One of the biggest things I've learned is how different we moms really are ... and yet so, so similar in our struggles and accomplishments.

Perfectly Planned Chaos
I've had many moms tell me, "Wow you've got it together. You're so organized. How do you do it all? Are you perfect?" Which is flattering, but I always feel SO weird when people say that stuff to me. Mostly I feel weird because many moms aren't saying it as a compliment, they are saying it with guilt, judging themselves with a tone of "man I could never do that", or "yikes, she has a lot of time on her hands, weirdo!" judging me.

I often feel like I have to defend or explain how I as able to do what I did. "Oh, I get out of work at 3:30 so I have more time than regular moms," or "I work for a school so I have summers and school vacations to get things organized," or "My kids go to bed early so I can run on the treadmill at night..." All of which are true, I know I'm lucky in the life I live. My job does afford me to do many things I know a 9-5, M-F, yearround job would never let me do.

It's OK to be a busy mama. I firmly believe that "we have time for what we MAKE time for."

We are ALL busy. We just choose to use our time in different ways. I may choose to clean out the toys while you choose to watch a movie to relax. I may wake up at 5 (true story) and you stay up late at night. You may run while I space out on Facebook. You may shop at the mall while I buy things online in my pjs. Nothing is good or bad, better or worse, it just is what it is. Within reason, we do have time for things we want to do. Point being: If you don't want to find Pinterest parties for your kids or have all your kids' clothes folded neatly THAT'S OK! Nobody told you that you had to just because someone else did.

We need to stop comparing ourselves to other moms. We aren't in their lives, they aren't in ours. Of course we're different. That's the best part about life, the differences.

I don't believe in perfection. I'm not trying to be better than other moms.  I'm just living my life the way I want to live it. Yes, I DO a lot. I'm involved in many things. No denying that. But that's what makes me happy. It's who I am, always have been. It's not about competition. It shouldn't be for you either.

If you find yourself envying another mom, stop and think, her life must have something wrong in it, something she struggles with, too. And then remind yourself, she's not trying to outsmart or beat you at this mommying thing (at least I don't believe most moms are intending to do that), she's just doing her thing, so go on and do YOUR thing the best you can, whatever that is, and don't worry about what she is and you aren't doing. If you are happy and your kids are happy, that's all that matters. If you aren't, if your envying is really about wanting to be more or do more for your family, then go and reach those goals somehow, ask for help and get up and do it. Stop excusing why you aren't the mom you want to be. Be content or reach for more, it's all within you to do either. Be yourself. It's ALL good.

This blog has helped me realize that we all go about this mom challenge a very different route. 
We all end up with smiling kids, so go figure! We can't begin to understand fully what a person's life is like or really know someone just by seeing them briefly at a birthday party or the playground.

For instance, I'm obsessed with planning my children's birthday parties, therefore I stalk Pinterest. I do this not to look like Martha Stewart, but rather because I genuinely have sooo much fun finding little things to make my kids have a special day, it's become a hobby of mine. I'm not creative, but planning parties makes me feel creative.

I keep my house clean and organized, not dusted often but at least livable and things have a place they belong. I do that not to be perfect but rather because it helps me keep my head sane. If things are all over the place and I'm tripping on the toys in my tiny house then I'm going to scream and I hate how I feel after I scream, so I organize and clean.

I take photos because I want to remember everything and capture things I know I won't remember even a month from now, not because I want to show off all my albums on Facebook or annoy you by being "that" mother who posts every picture of feet, messy faces, and bike riding. 

I've learned so much!
I've been doing the Mama Guilt Confessions series the last few weeks on this blog, having real moms explain their stories of guilty feelings related to being a mom. I am so inspired and in awe of these mothers, sharing their truths. I strive to share honestly on this blog with you, because I hope it helps someone to realize they aren't alone. I think too often we moms think we're the only ones who went through something, but we're so not.

In the last 300 stories I've posted here on the blog, I've learned that I LOVE learning from moms and about moms. We have so much to share with others. I'm so proud of you for sharing your stories with me and honored to hear from you - even if it's a simple question about the best car seat or when to transition to a big kid bed or which foods are OK for which ages. I'm learning right along with you. I'm no expert, never will pretend to be. I love sharing my experiences though, for what they're worth, hoping someone can relate or at least not feel so isolated.

I've also learned we need to take care of ourselves as moms and wives. We have to be women, too. We need girl friendships, girls' nights out, and lunch dates. We need to spend time with our partners. We need date nights. We HAVE to make those priorities. We need to exercise and drink wine, water and tea. We need to slow down and focus sometimes. We need to not care about what others think or about eating chicken nuggets for dinner another night this week. We need to stop being hard on ourselves, and start appreciating what we do every day.

This blog has taught me so much ... mostly about how sharing honestly with other moms is respected and appreciated versus something to be scared of. I'm proud to share my ups and downs as a mother.

MOMS 101
So many of you have enjoyed the Mom Of the Month, which has been SO awesome to see. Such great support goes out to these moms, which I know makes their day to read. Many of you have messaged me saying you wanted to nominate me for the Mom Of the Month, which is so incredibly sweet and I'm so grateful for your nice comments. However, that's reserved for other moms, you hear enough about me on this blog. But I will take a moment to answer some of the Mom Of the Month questions in this 300th post, just for fun!

*Describe your children in 3-5 words. 
Owen - 3 years old - sweet, smart, busy/energetic, inquisitive, caring (adores his family so much, talks about them nonstop)
Addisyn - 14 months old - diva, funny, momma's girl, sensitive, curious

*Describe yourself as a mom in 3-5 words.
present, loving, real, fun, organized

*What type of mom do you hope your kids' think you were someday?
I hope they see that I made them laugh a lot, was on the floor playing with them a ton, took them cool places - even just simple picnics in a park. I hope they remember that I told them I loved them every day about 10 times or more, and that I was always there, often with a camera. My number one goal as a mother is to be someone they can talk to about anything. I'm a counselor, so that's a pretty big one for me, especially when they become teenagers. I hope they learn from me what a solid, strong, fun relationship is when they see me and their dad together. I hope they learn that working hard is important and having personal goals outside a family is a good thing.

*What is something you are most proud of in your mom role?
Pumping for a year with my son and breastfeeding for a year + 1 week with my daughter.  Working full time out of the house and juggling everything that goes with having a family and job I love. Running 5k races to get back in shape after pregnancies. Every single time I choose patience over yelling. Taking pictures of our fun memories. This blog :)

:) Thanks for reading and growing along with me and the Mommy Stories! I greatly appreciate every comment, post, discussion question, etc. 

You are all ROCK STAR MOMS, that's what I've learned the last 300 posts! 

Happy reading :) 

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