3 mom myths that fuel my “mommy guilt”


Fake news.

Do you see that phrase often enough these days? I think it’s an outcome of one of the biggest issues we face today: misinformation.

“Beware of the person who can’t be bothered by details,” said William Feather. (Cool name, huh? Bill Feather.)

I’m sure each industry is ripe with misconceptions that are upheld by emotions, personal beliefs, and misinformation. Well, I want to argue that the SAHM industry is also ripe with such misinformation. We don’t know (or care to know) the facts sometimes.

I totally did that with sleep. Initially, I read the baby sleep books, but do you know what happened? My kid did not cooperate with what the book said he should be doing. How rude! Eventually, I had to stop reading the books. I only wanted to read the books that told me exactly what I wanted to hear. If there are facts and statistics about raising kids, I only want to hear the ones that support the things I’m already doing. I only want to hear: “you’re doing this perfectly; you go girl.”

Even with my attempts to ignore literature about the things I don’t do for my kids, my own brain more than makes up for it. My brain likes to remind me of all of my short comings and when it does, I create “mommy guilt” about it. These are based off of emotions, personal belief, and misinformation, instead of something concrete.

With that in mind, here is my list of three things I’ve realized I create “mommy guilt” around. Sometimes, writing them down is good help, or at least good therapy!

  1. Other moms always like their kids. When I look out my windows over to the homes where I know other moms are spending time with their kids, I picture perfect little meals, clean kitchens, organized play rooms, and not-smelling-like-diapers garbage cans. Those moms love and adore every moment with their sweet, little kiddies. Every. Moment. Even the moments when they refuse to nap or they wake during the night for mysterious reasons or they have the worst poopy diaper two minutes before you need to get out the door for an appointment. When I am frustrated about the emotional ups and downs or dealing with a toddler and preschooler all day, I guilt myself for not looking past it all because these small human beings carry my genes. I guilt myself for not living up to the mythical images in my head of my perfect neighbors. I also wonder how in the world those neighbors get the stinky smell out of the diaper garbage cans! Seriously.
  2. Other moms spend a lot of times with their kids–on the floor, even. As I type this, Gabs is taking her nap and Dom is playing on his Kindle. By his self. He watches shows on that without me. He plays games on his own. He tells me about them and I sometimes listen. Do you know what’s happening in my mythical images of the other moms? They’re sitting with their sweet offspring while watching one single episode of Daniel Tiger and they’re talking about the messages of the show. Also, they’ve somehow managed to clean up lunch, put away toys, and fold laundry without taking away from any bonding time. Then, when that one show is over, they get down on the floor with their kids to build trains, pretend with dolls, read stories, draw pictures, and make messes (which will be cleaned up together in a really fun clean up game where the kid learns to pick up after themselves). None of those moms are trying to come up with games that will convince their kids to walk on their back (massage!) or pretend it’s mommy’s nap time, or just play on their own so I can go to the bathroom. Actually, I’m honestly not sure when those other moms use the potty. Probably after bedtime. And only then.
  3. Other moms have it all perfectly balanced. Both of my above points already touched on this part of the mythical image: other moms manage to scrub their bathrooms with bleach, keep the floor under the dining table swept and mopped, workout so they’re back to pre-baby weight, teach their kids discipline while also playing their favorite games with them, and get their own jobs done (whether it’s work or a hobby or church stuff). I, on the other hand, choose to ignore all of the other options on the list each time I focus on one item. For instance: as I write to get some work done, there are probably mountains of Ritz-crack crumbs piled under the table, rings as many and varied as Saturn developing within the toilet bowls, fat cells growing and expanding (but only around my waist!) within my body, and a tablet/screen is raising my kid. But I wrote some blog posts about cyber security and risk management! Oooo.

What would you put on your list? What misinformation do you feed yourself about the mythical perfect moms (or dads) living around you?

Here’s what I’m trying to do to fight the SAHM fake news in my head: recognize my own limitations.

Also, I have some pretty good tribes around for support.

I just asked Dom what game he’s playing on his tablet: chess.

Ha!

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trying to overcome my blog burnout


blogALLthethings

I haven’t posted here for nearing three months.

That’s not to say that I haven’t written. Oh, I’ve written. I’ve written blogs and blogs. Blogs upon blogs. At least, it feels like oodles of blogs. It’s content that may not entice you. Would you read an article on how VPNs protect you from DDoS or the 7 benefits of open-source software?

I’m experiencing blog burnout, it seems.

I spend my blogging energy on articles such as those mentioned above and neglect this poor blog.

I read an article on Harvard Business Review about bracing yourself to deal with burnout better. From that, I personalized their suggestions and made them apply to me and this here blog. I only snagged a few of them as half of it wasn’t applicable to me. Here you go:

  • Don’t make these blog posts more than they have to be. I often avoid posting or finalizing or even starting a post unless I have an idea of a doodle to go with it as well. Posts need images, right? I mean, every post I write for the above mentioned small businesses have stock photos to go right along with them and, come on, people: we’ve all seen Pinterest and it’s image-driven content. How will people ever share my superb writing if I don’t make a pinterestable graphic to accompany it?
  • Figure out where to go to ask for help. I spend a lot of time perusing Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and specific news sites to find ideas for content for paid blogs. I don’t spend time searching for content for this blog. I don’t know where to go to find it. In the past, it simply came from living my life. That doesn’t seem to inspire me lately. Where should I look?
  • Share other content. Sometimes, coming up with my own, individual spin on something feels too tiring after all of the hours spent writing marketable content. I want to write for ME but there usually isn’t time. I do come across cool stuff, though, that I often share on Twitter. (Look, if you don’t follow me there, I’m not gonna lie: you’re missing out on some good stuff. Seriously, yo.) Perhaps I should start sharing those here, too?

So this became a rambling, thinking-out-loud kind of post about how to breathe some life back into my blog. I haven’t figured it out yet. Any suggestions?

Developing a family narrative (#yearofbeautiful idea)


Part of my #yearofbeautiful is to strengthen my connection with others. I’ve been thinking today about my connections within my own family and came across this article from The New York Times: “The Stories that Bind Us”.

Here’s the bathroom break version of the article: If you want to create strong, lasting family relationships, develop a strong, lasting family narrative.

That was a short bathroom break.

You are faster than my husband and my four-year old son in the bathroom. *Grin*

Teasing aside…

What IS a family narrative and how do you create it?

Family strain could create dark narratives: money, arguments, name calling, loss, etc. Maybe your family strain is because you made jokes about how long it takes somebody to poop and you posted it for all of the internet to read. Seriously. That’s rude. Don’t do that. Keep poop time-frames personal, people.

I read something in a Reader’s Digest years ago. I was sitting in the bathroom but I won’t tell you WHAT I was doing or for HOW long. Let’s just say that what I read was a simple, short paragraph about how kids are more resilient when they know the story of their family. My memory instantly took me to the basement of my Grumma Campbell’s house where the walls were brown and wood, the carpet was dark, the couches lining the walls also dark, and we were crowded down there with cousins, aunts, and uncles, listening to Grumma tell the history of one of our ancestors. I hope it was either Aquila Nebeker or Christopher Columbus Kearl. They have such great names.

Is that part of my family narrative? Where I come from? Men like Aquila and Christopher? And does it matter that I don’t know the stories of my husband’s ancestors? Or even their names, really?

From the NYTimes article, here are some of the questions that might make up part of your family narrative (none of them are about pooping so take note):

  1. Do you know where your grandparents grew up?
  2. Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school?
  3. Do you know where your parents met?
  4. Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family?
  5. Do you know the story of your birth?

I wonder: can my four-year old answer any of these questions? I asked him.

Do you know where Grandma Alicia grew up? “No. Where’d she grow up? In Texas, mom?”

Do you know where Grandmere grew up? “In Salt Lake?”

Do you know where Dad and I went to high school? “In Salt Lake? And then did Dad go in Texas? So did I guess it?”

Do you know where Dad and I met? “Um, at the temple? At Dad’s house?”

Do you know about an illness that happened in our family? “What’s an illness? No. I don’t. Did Grumma Campbell get sick? Her heart stopped pumping.”

Do you know what happened when you were born? “I came out of your tummy.”

According to the article, if kids know these types of things about their families, it’s the “best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.”

How do you teach your kid to have a strong “intergenerational self”?

Have you done any of the following (which are suggestions from the article):

  1. Create a family mission statement identifying core values
  2. Build up identity through communal activities
  3. Create hokey family traditions
  4. Tell positive stories about your family
  5. Create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones

And if you’ve done #3, I want to know what it is!

Two minutes that mattered for me today.


I’ve restarted this post today more than once. For some reason, though, I’ve kept at it. And this time, it’s going in an entirely different direction. I finally figured out what I want to say so brace yourselves:

Sometimes, people just want to help out.

I know. It’s not poetic. It’s not quotable. You might not even remember it tomorrow, but hear me out.

Today, I was going to try and take my kids to Wheeler Farm with friends and cousins, but one sick little cousin canceled plans. At about the same time as the text about that, a neighbor texted me, offering to watch my kids. She offered so I could go and visit my Grumma in the hospital. I took her up on it.

It’s hard to ask for help.

It’s hard to accept help.

At least for me.

I relate it to the story of Naomi and Ruth.

After Naomi was widowed and her sons had also died, she pushed her daughters-in-law away. She tried to send them back to be with their own mothers. She pushed them away, in a time of loneliness and a time of great need as it was during a drought and famine. But Ruth pushed back and told her she wouldn’t leave her.

I am Naomi. I push away people willing to help.

I am not entirely sure why I do this. Any suggestions? Perhaps I don’t want to feel obligated. Perhaps I feel like I owe them money or something. Perhaps I want to do everything on my own.

This morning, I accepted the help.

This same friend made a comment, months and months ago, about how sometimes, the only thing a person helping out needs is a thank you. Her point was that when we try to “make things even”, we cheapen the service.

Do you agree?

Sometimes, people just want to help out.

Do you often help or serve because you want to provide the support? Maybe you don’t even want the recognition because that puts a spotlight on you.

You just want to help. Without repayment. Without recognition. Without fanfare. A simple “thank you” would suffice.

Today, I accepted the help. It was a lot of help. She watched both kids all morning. I spent time visiting briefly (two minutes) with Grumma before she had a second surgery on her heart after suffering a massive attack this week. I was there minutes before she was taken out of her room and into surgery. I couldn’t have visited with my kids as they don’t allow them in the cardiac ICU. My neighbor also kept Dom for much of the afternoon so I could spend Gabbi’s nap getting writing done for an upcoming content deadline. And then do you know what else she did? She tossed a few pantry items my way so I didn’t have to go to the store today to come up with a complete dinner.

I said thank you. I said it a few times. And then we walked home in the spring sunshine.

3 new things I’ve learned to live authentically


live-authentically

The second item on my #yearofbeautiful list is to live authentically.

Something that I did for that was for a life coach session with the fabulous Julie de Azevedo Hanks. I have an entire page of thoughts and notes from Skyping with her. If you want your own page of notes, I think you should chat with her, too. We had an excellent hour. From all of it, there is a gem that I would like to share with you.

Also, my session sparked conversations with both a good neighbor of mine and also my husband. I have something to share with you from each of those, as well. Ready? Here my three things I have to help me live authentically. As a mom and as a woman.

Do something every day where you feel alive

This came from Julie.

Kids need to see you alive.

I spend a lot of energy caring for my kids. It feels exhausting day in and day out. I lose myself in their demands. I often forget to do something so that ME, MOM, THE MOTHER, feels alive, in FRONT OF THEM. My kids notice when I’m frustrated, exhausted, running low, or short-tempered. So, of course, it makes sense that they will notice when I am feeling happy, accomplished, and ALIVE.

What do you love to do? What are you good at?

By answering those questions, you can make a good list of things to do where you kids can see you alive. My list includes writing, doodling, and playing the piano.

You create their world

This came from Nathan.

So many days it feels mundane to make meals and snacks, clean up after meals and snacks, go through the routine of trying to keep naptimes consistent, struggle through the bedtime routines, and do all of the in-between things like potty training, cleaning up ALL THE TOYS, and consistently discovering new walls, furniture, or lamp shades with Sharpie on them.

This matters, though. My kids feel safe. They feel secure.

Kids that don’t have stability in their lives are forced to live in survival mode. Nathan has seen this a lot working at many of the schools he’s been in. When kids live that way their brain is on hyper alert, their world is a scary place, and they cannot thrive.

At the end of MY  day, I may not feel like I’ve realized any quantifiable accomplishments, but if I’m able to step back and see the day-to-day stability and predictability through the eyes of my toddler and preschooler, then I can see the environment I am creating for them wherein they can be well-nourished.

Your service models the life of our Savior

This came from my neighbor, Nora.

On the morning of my life coaching session, I told her about how I was really looking forward to my appointment and what kinds of things I might talk about it. She told me that she really wanted to hear how it went and I said, deal. Later that day, she emailed me with some of her thoughts. One of these was on how similar the role of a mom is to the life of Jesus Christ. I had not thought of this before. Or at least, not in a concrete way, so reading her thoughts was a big a-ha moment for me.

The Savior cares of each one of us.

I care for each one of my children.

He fed the 5000.

I feed my family.

He washed the feet of His disciples.

I wash hands, faces, snotty noses, and bathe my children.

He healed the sick.

Just last week, I was up in the night with sick kids, holding them, giving them medicine, and praying for their health.

He taught constantly.

I teach my kids constantly.

He gave His life for each one of us.

In a small way, I give my life as I sacrifice my sleep, time, and energy.

So this month, I feel I am doing better at living authentically because I better understand my divine role as a mom, how I’m creating a safe and nurturing world for my kids, and that it is important for them to see me doing things that make me feel alive.

So what things would you put on your “I’m Alive!” list?

The meaningful work of being a mom


meaningful-mom-job

Now hiring: no pay, no quarterly bonus, no promotion, work long hours, no vacations, and difficult working conditions (cleaning the poop out of cloth diapers, yes!). Who would apply for such a job? And yet.

And yet, in spite of the conditions, I chose to be a mom.

And yet, I chose to have a second kid.

And yet, I chose to quit my career and stay home.

And yet, I still choose to be home after doing this for over a year.

And yet, I choose to put my babe in cloth diapers. Because poop.

What makes The Mom a meaningful job?

In my search for ways to be more authentic, I read an article from MIT, “What makes work meaningful — or meaningless” (sorry for the paywall). They came up with five unexpected features of meaningful work after interviewing 135 people in 10 different occupations. When you think of your job (or jobs), do they hit all the right feels for you in these five areas: self-transcendent, poignant, episodic, reflective, personal. Let’s discuss these in list style. Because lists.

  1. Self-Transcendent: Do you feel that your work matters to others more just to yourself?

Being The Mom requires massive amounts of unselfishness. Amounts I didn’t have before and it took time for me to learn to make enough. My kids need The Mom. I try to show them they are loved. I tried to teach them values so they will make a positive impact on our community. If I do good work, I make a big impact on my kids and on how they treat others.

  1. Poignant: Does your work affect you both painfully and deeply?

As The Mom, I am overwhelmed by the array of emotions I experience every single day. When I’m in a moment of negative emotions, I obviously don’t feel appreciative. But turns out, if all I ever experienced was positive experiences, that would steal the rich and challenging times from me. I need those. The experience of fighting through these times creates a sense of meaningfulness.

  1. Episodic: Does your work sometimes feel meaningful, but many times not?

Being The Mom is the most episodic job I’ve ever had. There is nothing emotionally steady about it. It’s not even keel. Not monotonous. Many times, I can only describe it as The Struggle. Meaningful feelings don’t exist for me in those moments. Instead, I feel exasperated and in need of a break. But the ups, man, those are pretty incredible, right? They just come and go. And sometimes, it doesn’t feel like there’s been anything meaningful for days or weeks or maybe months (like the months and months where Gabbi cried from 6pm-midnight, with brief spouts of quiet when we lulled her into scanty sleep). I may work for years and years to try and teach my kids kindness before I finally see one of them take the initiative to reach out to the injured kid in a group. I can’t force them to want to be kind. I can’t force meaningful moments to happen.

  1. Reflective: Do you realize that you’ve experienced meaningful moments after the fact?

It’s often not until we look back on experiences that we realize they were meaningful, so states MIT. So in this area, as The Mom, I am missing out on something that would help me in my job (because I clearly need to add another area of responsibility to my job description!); I am forgetting to reflect on my day. Sometimes I do it, a little bit, when I tell Nathan about some of the things that happened while he was at work. I accompany this with flipping through my phone to show him any pictures or videos I took at the time. But this is only brief reflection. I should improve in this area. Suggestions? When we did chores as kids, my parents would often have us look back at the difference we made when we were done and it was rewarding to see the weeded garden, the clean bedroom, or the folded clothes. Reflecting on The Mom work is more abstract. How do you find time to retrospect on your Mom work?

  1. Personal: Does your work matter to more than just you, but also to the important people in your life?

Yes. It matters to me that what I do matters to the people closest to me. So I think, in this area, I’d like to improve on how I recognize the other parents in my life and the work that they do because I know how much it affects me when somebody tells me, with specificity, about the times that I done good. It’s more than stating: “you’re a good mom.” That’s nice. Now add a phrase full of something meaningful. I’m going to work on this. And I can probably tell myself these things because I want to FEEL more competent.

I’m The Mom. I do things. I do transcendent things. I rock.

Motherhood might smother your authentic self


authentic-momMotherhood can be the overpowering job title that defines you. It’s constantly demanding: breakfast, naptime, middle of the night, when you need to take a poop. Children don’t let you clock out. You have to force yourself to step outside of the role, to take a break, to ask for help and focus on yourself. That’s hard to do.

So at times, I’ve lost myself in motherhood, but not in a good way. Not because I’m enveloped in the smell of a newborn and the rest of the world melts away. Not because I cherish the little hugs from my polite little preschooler. I’ve lost myself in motherhood from exhaustion and sleep deprivation, lack of patience after answering “why?” after “why?” after “why?”, or anxiety from a baby who won’t nap and won’t stop crying. I’ve lost myself in motherhood because I lose track of my personal hopes and dreams.

Motherhood is beautiful, but there’s more to me than raising two small kids.

One of my goals this year is to make it a point to live authentically. I’m on a mission, right now, to figure out HOW.

Any suggestions?

I’ve been asking the internet and I’m on a search for some good books. One book in particular, I’m going to revisit, and that’s Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly: “Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

Okay. Authenticity ties into self-acceptance.

Which is another goal this year: FEELING more competent at what I do. My goal isn’t to BE more competent. It’s to FEEL more competent. And that comes back to how I talk to myself.

I’m curious: what do you call yourself when you talk to yourself?

I call myself Larrie.

I don’t know why. I can’t remember when it started. Obviously, not prior to high school, since that’s when my nickname was born (thanks, Jarv). For some reason, when I talk to myself (usually in my head), it’s in the third-person and I talk to Larrie.

I’m typically upset with Larrie. I’m telling her that she’s not competent. I’m reminding her of her mistakes. I’m verbally berating her. Poor Larrie.

Be nice to Larrie.

Larrie is beautiful.

This month:

  1. I will be nice to Larrie.
  2. I will also reread Daring Greatly.
  3. I will research how to live authentically.

Living authentically and feeling competent = beautiful. #yearofbeautiful yo.

If you happen to have any good articles on this, please, send them my way!