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Saturday, May 28, 2016

happy 5th birthday, Mommy Stories!

I cannot believe I've been a kinda blogger for five years as of May 26th. That's so amazing. I'm pretty psyched to reflect back on the last five years and how much I've grown as not only a writer and blogger (I had no idea how to size pictures or post anything when I started!) but mostly as a mom the last five years.

Sharing my own stories has been helpful to me. It's great self-care to reflect on how we're doing as moms. But really, the best part about writing this blog is sharing YOUR stories. I am a believer that it takes a village to raise a child, but more importantly it takes a community of supporters, non-judgers, to build up a Mama to lead that village to raise a child.

I love that my blog can be a vehicle for change and an insight for information to so many mothers. I love that we're able to learn from one another. I'm constantly seeking new ideas and topics for us to discuss on the blog and in the Facebook group. I love how we've grown together.

So thank you! Thank you for being here, listening, reading along with me, liking every post or answering discussion questions. I do this for fun on the side of my super busy mom life. I appreciate all of your patience and encouragement over the years.

I asked the moms in our Facebook group (1900 members and a waiting list of 150! CRAZY!) to share what they know for sure about being a mom, their top 5 things they believe. So here I'll answer the same questions.

Here's what I know for sure about being a MOM.
  1. It's HARD. It's the hardest thing I've ever done - being a mother. And I have college degrees and work a really demanding job. But being a mom: it's 24/7. It's no sick days. It's putting someone else's needs above yours A LOT of the time if not always it seems. It's worrying like you've never done before. It's so much change- your body for starters, your hormones and thoughts and Mama Bear instincts. It can be really difficult to manage sometimes. I think it's good to admit this. It's NOT easy and roses and perfection. It's hard. I know that's what makes it worth it in the end. 
  2. I'm lucky and grateful to be a mother. It's something we should appreciate. Even on those rough days, and there are many of them, we should realize how grateful we are to be mothers. So many friends cannot conceive when they want or ever. It's the hardest thing they go through. I'm so beyond blessed that I've been able to be pregnant and go through that experience with my husband, and raise these wonderful children. I need to stop and remember how lucky I am even when they wake me up too early or I'm beyond exhausted or it's been a rough day of Terrible 2s or something crazy. We're lucky.
  3. I need ME time. I'm never afraid to admit this. I feel sad for the moms who feel they cannot ever take a break for themselves or leave their children. I know it's a normal thing they feel, I just wish they would have the confidence to realize it's OK to be a woman, individual person outside of being a mother sometimes. It's GOOD to take breaks. To do something for YOU. I take time for me DAILY. Even if it's just a longer shower or eating breakfast alone without people taking my food or exercising or scrolling Facebook at night while not doing laundry. I need time to myself and I don't think it makes me selfish or a bad mom. In fact, I hope that if I talk about it enough other moms realize they, too, can do things on their own for themselves and it makes them good moms. 
  4. Everything I do is teaching my children to leave me in the end and be independent. This is such a sad thing a friend told me when I was pregnant with my first... yet I reflect on it often. Everything we do from the time we hold them when they are born and feed them, help them crawl or walk, etc. is to help them become independent little beings, to learn to do things on their own, to be unafraid, to be brave and ready to take on the world. We're teaching them to live without us, to go out into the big world and accomplish goals and chase dreams. It's sad on one hand, and then it's exhilarating and the most honorable work we could possibly do. It's good to stop and realize this when we're making up rules and behavior charts and giving treats and going on adventures. We're setting them up for their futures. How amazing. 
  5. Motherhood: It's the coolest club I've ever belonged to. I can't imagine another group of people besides mothers who can meet total strangers and instantly hit it off understanding about puke or spit up or late nights of no sleep or fears of immunization shots or how annoying it is when we have to count 1, 2, 3 and they repeat us instead of follow our directions! I feel like moms GET each other more than other people. It's a wonderful thing to realize you aren't judged, that someone actually understands your hard or awesome mom experience. I love making new mom friends. I have a couple of mom friends online from the Mommy Stories who I'm forever grateful for - and we haven't even met yet. I have a few old college mom friends who I haven't seen in years but we keep in touch with almost every week online through our mom stories. LOVE this club.

My top 5 stories or blog posts that I love over the years include:
  1. Miscarriages. I think too few women talk about it yet it's something many go through. I realized this last fall when I went through it myself. It's SO important to support one another.
  2. Premature Baby - this story was picked up online by other news feeds but was first shared on my blog, so exciting that we could put an important topic out there.
  3. PPD - This series was so interesting and powerful to read each mom's struggles and courage. I think it's so important to put out there what women go through.
  4. Sleepy Heads - This series was fun to do. I put a lot of time into this reviewing books about helping babies sleep, etc. It's great to go back through for reference ideas.
  5. New Mom of 2: I wrote TONS about this topic on my blog since I could not find anything about it when I was looking to become a mom of two. So here is one article but there are tons on the blog.

The top 5 things I'm most proud of with this blog:

  1. #MomMEChallenge - I love that I try to inspire moms on my Instagram account @themommystories to do things for themselves! I made up this hashtag (cool right?!) to encourage moms to exercise, take a bath, drink something fruity, eat chocolate, read a book, ignore laundry, etc. just to BE themselves instead of 24/7 moms all the time. I think it makes us stronger as moms anyway if we can be ourselves a bit. 
  2. Holiday Support and Shop & Support Moms - We've adopted several families at Christmas time the last two years - buying all the kids' gifts and things for the mom. We've helped out a teen mom, and a mother and family who lost everything in a fire last year. Every SINGLE day there are posts in the Facebook group giving away formula coupons. I love this most of all because it tells me 1) moms are helping each other out financially and thinking of others instead of just tossing them out and 2) we're not judging, formula is good, no breastfeeding debates here! I LOVE that I feature hard working moms who are making creative things to sell to earn money for their families. I do this every November-December in the holiday season to encourage moms to purchase "locally" from moms for their holiday gifts. 
  3. Miscarriage Support Moms - I started this a couple of years ago after a friend had a miscarriage and was seeking someone to talk to and I had no idea what to say to her. I have collected a list of names of moms who are ready to answer questions, be a supportive friend even on social media to a mom going through a hard time. I love that we offer this support. 
  4. Tough Stuff Topics - I'm constantly seeking new topics to add to the blog and discussion group, things that people don't bring up on their own but need to talk about because they are common things moms go through. Things like miscarriages, infertility, allergy health scares, divorces, ETC. It's SO important to me that moms know they can discuss ANYTHING in the group and feel supported instead of judged. I try very hard to monitor discussions so that we're being supportive.
  5. Mom of the Month - I think it's so exciting every month to see who the new person being recognized is. I love celebrating an everyday average hard working momma who someone thinks is just awesome and Super Mom. I know it makes the mom's entire month better, being recognized for what she's just doing every day but is such hard work. 
THANK YOU for reading and following me along this Mommy Stories journey, moms! You're amazing. I've learned so much from you. 

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