Any Way You Want It...

"...that's the way you need it, any way you want it!" da da daaaa

Sorry, I've obviously heard that song way too many times...ha. I seriously was meant to live in the 80s. Super high ponytails, over-the-top enthusiasm, obnoxious clothing - BRING IT. (But currently I have a capsule wardrobe with mostly black/grey outfits. So. I'm a little confused.)

All fashion choices aside, I've been getting this crazy message from the world lately that says, "You can be anything you want - AND a mom."

Which sounds spot-on, right? We women are completely free to be passionate individuals, to mother our children while with the same breath giving a speech to our colleagues. We can be #girlbosses and have a giant social media following and be sexy wives and that mom that everyone else wishes they were. We can grow our own vegetables and run a business. We can bake fresh bread and be professional yogis. We can run the show and still have time to snuggle babies, all while making the big bucks.

There is no end to what we can do. Mothering is just a unique piece of the puzzle.

But does all of that sound a little exhausting to you? Did overwhelm just capsize your calm, reminding you of that awful to-do list raging in the background? Because that's what that message does to me. It makes me feel scattered to the winds, eager to do a little bit of everything on the planet.

I want to do it all and have it all and be it all. Right now.

The idea that we can be whatever we want sounds a lot like freedom. But for some reason, it turns into this awkward cage, where our dreams suddenly become expectations that we have to meet. "You can be anything," suddenly turns into, "You have to be everything."

Being everything is not your job. If your goal in life is to kick butt in about 26 different categories of life, then you are going to have your hours full and your heart empty. The world's ideas of "successful motherhood" are not only demanding, but also ever-changing. You are never quite going to win.

So I'd like to tweak the world's message and give you some grace, some purpose, some real freedom:

"You can be anything you want...AS a mom."

For the longest time, I kept telling myself to do what made me happy, and my husband would reiterate that. Yet often what seemed like happiness to me was simply selfishness combined with hormones. What would make me happy right now? Being alone with a giant brownie sundae; getting a pedicure with a friend; disappearing on a train to the California coast; watching Netflix while putting off the dishes, laundry, writing, and countless other things that would actually be good for me to do.

But what I should have been saying is, do what makes you happy to be a mom.

Like a light switch, the focus is off of me as a selfish, untethered individual, and put smack dab in the middle of my role in my family. And the answers change, flowing from a heart that is full of love for my baby girl and my husband.

What would make me happy to be a mom right now?

Maybe it's tickling my baby till she giggles. Eating a snack that she can share with me. Calling up a mom friend to laugh at the things that made me cry yesterday. Going for a walk to breathe deeply. Making my husband something special for dinner. Doing yoga next to the baby instead of cleaning. Reading a book by that makes me laugh at all the gross, uncertain, tangled parts of motherhood (try The Magic of Motherhood or Of Mess and Moxie if you need some mom-love).

We must stop trying to escape from the parts of our lives that make us want to be someone else. I've been there - several times this year, if we're being honest. I keep assuming that I can use one part of my life to escape from something else. But I can't hop on a plane and jet off somewhere anymore.

"In the old days, pre-baby, you could always kid yourself that if your life really started to annoy you, you could just take off, go walkabout, have adventures in the mountains of the Hindu Kush...Once you have a baby, that little fantasy route is closed. You're tethered." (excerpt from How to Really Be a Mother by Emily Hourican)

It IS a bit scary, being tethered as a mama. But here's the thing: mamas have one of the most free schedules on the planet. Yes, our time clocks orient around little beings that aren't exactly predictable. But the only rules that exist are the ones that YOU set up for yourself.

You can have a job, stay at home all day, eat only organic produce, or buy strictly pre-packaged msg crap, for the love of pop tarts! You can be any type of person that you want to be. But you're still a mom. No slicing it up and serving it another way; once a mom, always a mom.

So live in that glorious freedom! Go ahead and ask yourself right now, "What would make me a happy mom right now?"

Capsule Wardrobe, Part 3: Maintenance

In the past few months, we've talked about creating a capsule wardrobe from your existing pool of clothes and giving yourself the freedom to own things you that you love. We've also discussed how to do a second evaluation of your choices, and how to actually get rid of those extra things that are cluttering up your space.

But sometimes all of those initial decisions feel good for only a short time. Then the shopping spree hits, or the emotional crisis comes, or your washer breaks and you wish you had more clothes to avoid washing them so often.

This is when you need a little help in the maintenance area. Pro tip: this maintenance thing applies to any clutter problem you are experiencing, not just that of your closet.

5 Books That Will Change Your Perspective (and the secret to having time to read them)

I know it’s hard to find the time to read – life is so busy and loud, full of to-do lists and errands and social media and Netflix and when on earth is there time to sit and casually read a book?

Two answers:

One, there’s this magical thing called Hoopla that uses your library card to set audiobooks and ebooks right into your lap, at zero charge to you. You can listen while you’re doing dishes, driving to the grocery store, or taking a shower. You can read while you’re sitting in a waiting room, breastfeeding your baby, or when your toddler unexpectedly falls asleep in the stroller. It’s not hard to find a few extra minutes in this way.

Two, just read this quote from Lauren Graham’s new book (which, incidentally, is the first one I’m going to review for you):