Roxanne Rae, One and Done

Last week, MY BABY GIRL TURNED ONE.

I’d been thinking about it for weeks, of course, so excited for her first “real” milestone in life, so happy to say that we had all made it one year – one year of breastfeeding and wonky sleep patterns, one year of banana muffins and berry smoothies, one year of baby-wearing hikes and mini rock climbing adventures. We’ve laughed (and cried twice as much) and gotten excited about the most random things (she hugged a stuffed animal! It’s the cutest thing!).

Despite all of the baby birthday hoopla going around these days, I somehow forgot that I needed to prepare for this grandiose event – I was sort of hoping that being excited would be enough. Which resulted in me waking up that morning sporting nothing but the ingredients for an uncertain cake. Oh, and then our kitchen faucet broke.
I want you to know that you do not have to have the perfect plan or the best supplies or loads of time to make a birthday special. You do not need an expensive photographer or photo-editing software. You do not need a huge party or loads of sugary goodies. You do not even need gifts.

You really just have to want it to be special, and then suddenly little things seem to click together. Here’s what I did:
  • Wrapped two of her “old” toys in white printer paper
  • Bought her a new pair of shoes (because I couldn’t resist)
  • Baked and frosted a healthy-ish carrot cake (it involved honey, pineapple, and a smidge of brown sugar; hit me up if you want the recipe)
  • Set up a “photoshoot” outside, where I spent an hour or so clicking my camera happily and telling no one in particular, “She’s so cute! Oh my word I can’t get over how cute she is!” (I know, real classy)
Literally I had no plan. I was like, “We need an outfit and props,” so I threw some apples in a basket, grabbed two outfits, and a muffin in case one of us got hungry, and we trooped to this grove of trees and played around. It wasn’t perfect at all. But we loved it.

The photos turned out beautifully, in my opinion. Some were taken on my Canon PowerShot (probably the cheapest Canon camera out there), and some were taken on my new Droid phone. I edited them using Instagram. Again, my class is real high.
The only slight issue with my choice of props was that Roxy is full of teeth and made it her goal to take a bite out of every. single. apple. I turned them into a pan of apple dumplings, though, don't worry.

The carrot cake wasn’t half-bad. I’m afraid most of it went to waste, though; apparently Roxy wasn’t making quite enough of a mess because Josh and I started throwing frosting at each other and that was it for my clean kitchen. Pretty sure we had more fun than the baby did.
It’s been a good, insane year. Motherhood is no joke. And being plopped into marriage and motherhood all at once certainly ramps things up a notch. But you know what? Looking back over this year leaves me with this: somehow in the thick of it I always focus on the negative, but looking back with a little perspective shows me only the highlights, the good stuff, the things I want to remember.

All those awful, long nights of crying and nursing and no sleep? Yep, they happened, and sure, they made me stronger (or just more tired...). But in the grand scheme, they're not what I want to hold on to as the years go by.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
-Phil. 4:4-9

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.