Our country has a serious problem. A baby died in day care again, and nothing is being done about it. Our maternity leave policies endanger mothers and babies.
They say change is good. Try something new. Follow your gut.
But what happens when all of the above seems as scary and unnecessary as well, staying in the same place?
The truth is, for all of 28 years, the only place I ever followed my gut was to decide on dinner plans. Raised with an innate sense of “You can’t do that,” I always thought the big bad world outside of my comfortable little Long Island cocoon was there for others to conquer and take over, while I sat back and dreamed. Staying in the same place felt like the only option.
As a complicated woman, with a serious past and some even more serious self-confidence issues, I had convinced myself that the “happy endings” were for everyone else. All of the pressure to settle down, get married, and start a family became white noise in a brain that was certain I was not worthy of such a typical outcome. I knew my faults and my quirks and hated myself for them — and began getting comfortable with the notion that I’d be on the sidelines forever, as everyone else continued scoring life-changing touchdowns….
My little angel turned 14 months the other day – and I’d like to pause for a moment and reflect on all that has transpired since we celebrated turning one.
14 months old. I never thought I’d be one of those people celebrating in months until forever, but, c’est la vie – I promise to stop when she’s 2. Maybe.
Since I was still deep in 1st-birthday-party-recovery-mode last month when this nugget turned 13 months, I forgot to take a pause and reflect on all the changes that have come about since my daughter propelled herself out of infancy and into another stratosphere of growing, learning, loving … and exerting her independence/destroying my house.
It’s true – I have loved motherhood more deeply than I have ever imagined. I have cherished each moment, become infatuated with each milestone and smile and learning experience. But if I had to sum up my feelings about toddler life, a stage I know I have only just recenly entered, the expression would be:
As in, “Holy sh$%. Bella! Don’t touch that!”
“Holy shhhhhhh-OMG Bella, DO NOT put Daddy’s iPhone in the toilet!”
“Holy shhh-aww – these hugs are better than anything in the world.”
But really – this whole time since someone sent the memo to my daughter that she has passed the innocent, cooperative, infant stage and started wreaking havoc on my home and the rate at which my hair turns gray, has felt like someone hit the target on the dunk tank – and I was the one on the plank.
Sure, I knew that once this princess was on two feet I’d need a bit a more energy.
Of course, I was aware of the rapidly-fluctuating emotions.
No, I had no clue, my home would become Ground Zero for my toddler tornado and I would need to contemplate purchasing a crash helmet for my child. But it has, so here I am, in my unmade bed covered in baby socks and puzzle pieces telling you all about it.
This weekend, instead of posting the typical, “Aw, my daughter is 14-months-old post and loves to give high-fives and say lots of words” post, I decided to keep it real.
So yes, while she’s smart (she already says over 10 words!), engaging (she smiles at, says “Hi!” to, and waves at everyone she sees), and extremely loving (the hugs are strong, intentional, and filled with gratitude) – she is inevitably, a toddler on a mission.
Here is what is really going on in this toddler world of mine, and all of the toddler homes around you – quite possibly with details no one else is sharing:
My Toilets are Now Entertainment
Yes, we put on toilet locks once we discovered our daughter’s penchant for splashing toilet water about, but fear not, she’s figured them out. She not only sticks her hands in there, she’ll throw anything in her sight into the bowl, including, but not limited to, expensive shampoos, makeup brushes, shoes, and an entire trashcan.
My Beautiful Coffee Tables and Couches are Now a Jungle Gym
Hell, so is my bed, my dining chairs, and the dryer. Now that she’s walking more steadily, climbing has become her party trick. I turn my back for 20 seconds only to find she’s made her way to the top of the coffee table, TV remotes in hand, and ready to cause serious harm. She’ll leverage a dining chair and battle her way to the top of the dining room table, knocking over flower vases and stopping my heart. My couches need cleaning, since these are her new trampolines, my bed has led to the need for multiple ice packs, and taking clothes out of the dryer turns into an all-out battle to try and remove chickadee from inside the machine.
Food is the Enemy
And so is the high chair. I have been kicked in my stomach, a boob, and my lip trying to prevent this little monster from weaseling her way out of the chair – which is so shocking considering how much she loved this damn thing 3 months ago. All food that I try to feed her ends up on the floor or in my hair, since we’re currently on a quest to feed ourselves. I waste countless hours and endless amounts of money on food she’ll eat one day but not the next, and my dog has gained 15 pounds.
Car Rides are also the Enemy
Which sucks considering this used to be a time of peace and quiet, back when each car ride produced the miracle of sleep and a break for me to answer calls, listen to voicemails, or listen to anything other than Elmo. Yea, this is no longer the case. Cue Elmo’s songs and bring along a baggie full of goldfish because this is going to be one hell of a ride.
Independence is her middle name
If she can’t do it herself, she’s not doing it at all. This goes for much more than just meal time. This goes for putting shoes on and taking them off, washing her hair in the tub, pushing elevator buttons, removing diapers, and oh so much more. Who needs a mom when you have a control-freak for a kid and a weak personality.
I wouldn’t have it any other way
Yes, with all of this, my very-involved job and mamapreneur goals, and a husband and dog to care for, I am exhausted. Yes, I find myself wondering what the hell I did with all my free time when this kid spend 90% of her days on a tummy time mat staring at the ceiling and kicking her feet. But yes, with every “Mama!!!!!,” big strong hug, hilarious kiss on the cheek/mouth/arm, and giggle that touches my soul, it is all so, so worth it. My toddler boss is my best friend, and I too, am learning everyday right along with her – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ll be honest- I get really wrapped in the female perspective of parenting. Accept this guest post as a gift of goodness and a double dose of daddy’ing done right. From my good friend, talented writer and designer, Ruben Cabrera of The Morning Coffee Project.
Coming to you live, from my porch swing, hoping I finish this before I hear the Hot Dog Dance, then Mickey and ALL the homies start assaulting us with their wild dance moves! HOT DOG!
Parent or not, I know damn well that you know the Hot Dog Dance… and if for some reason you are blessed enough not to, I pray you never do. (*prayer hands & crying face emoji*)
I think all folks who have children or who plan to can all agree on one thing: parenthood is slightly terrifying. For me, it was scary at first, and I suppose it still is, for all of the obvious reasons; everything from butt rashes to screwing them up emotionally for the rest of their lives. That second one is even scary to read (don’t re-read that sentence, I had mild anxiety typing it.)
But as a father, I suppose my next biggest fear is NOT being able to break “The Cycle.” Dads, you know what I’m talking about. Ladies, if you still don’t get it after you read this, take your sugar on a sunny afternoon date somewhere and pick his brain about it. Then hug him.
BREAKING THE CYCLE:
Some of us barely knew our fathers growing up, some of us NEVER had any. A lot of us spend almost the first 30 years of our lives being angry at those men.
Some guys had great dads, I’m sure of it. And for a long while there have been generations of boys (and girls) raised by men (or women) who’ve left scars (physical, mental, or emotional) on them.
My apologies if that took a dark turn; I promise this isn’t to marsh your mallows, but the point I’m making is, I feel like WE, as parents, are learning from the “children are to be seen and not heard” generation. I look around at my peers and I see a generation of young parents, some tattooed AF with super eclectic styles & some with super conservative and traditional values, CELEBRATING their children, loving them unconditionally (that means NO MATTER WHAAAAAATTT) and it is AWESOME!
I wish I could tell you that by the time your kids are adults, society is going to figure it’s shit out, but we all know that’s not the case. If you can read I’m sure you’ve read a quote that says something like:
“BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD”
Super cliché huh? No doubt, but I look at it like this, I can’t change the world over night, I can’t stop other people who spread hate, negativity, and bigotry, and I can’t stop those same people from having kids.
The ONLY thing I can do is raise decent human beings – all three of them. I can teach my son compassion and understanding before all the machismo. I’ll try my hardest to make sure that my daughters know the immense and awe-inspiring POWER that Women hold.
I wish my children could know how much I love them. Any time we spend apart, I spend hating that I wasn’t more patient with them or wishing I would’ve smiled more around them before I had to leave again.
I find myself wondering if my mom felt that way too, or even if she STILL feels like that. My mind wanders even further into the way that she has always been. The good, the bad, the love, the moments of misunderstanding, the things that may have hurt me. Maybe she, like me, is the byproduct of society.
Maybe you can’t blame anyone else, but I know she‘s a living breathing human and the same way I have faults, I’m sure she’s had hers a lot longer. Whatever demons I may have faced I’m sure she’s known hers own all my life. Who’s to say I’m not a reminder of one of those old friends?
I mean she taught me great lessons in parenting, whether it be how to or how not to parent. So if whatever I’ve felt was needed to be felt for my children to have a better father (I hope) and future, then so be it.
Sometimes we go through things so others won’t have to. What can I do better so my children’s children will live happily into their adulthood?
Maybe she just got lost on her way. Maybe it’s too late to get her back but, HOT DIGGITY DOG, it’s my fuel to “break the cycle.”
To my sourpatch Kids, my Coconuts, my sugar cubes:
A kiss for Jupiter, one for Mars. One for the Moon and a bunch for the Stars.
Peace, Love, Morning Coffee
The Father/Daughter relationship can make or break a young girls’ confidence and self-esteem, and inevitably set the stage for all of her future relationships with men.
It’s time to take this relationship very, very seriously.
In Creative Child Magazine, I list the 4 Things EVERY Father Should Be Doing for his Daughter.
My take on raising an empowered feminist, in Elite Daily now!
I’d be lying if I said that I did not become that much more of a feminist after bringing a daughter into this world.
I’d also be lying if I said that I didn’t become much more aware of the impact my woman-brain could make on the world after birthing this little powerhouse of a daughter I now call mine.
It’s because of the womanly-powers of my body that I have embraced all things “feminism” and my hopes are that my daughter will one day follow in these high-heeled, successful-lady footsteps that I’ve put forth for her, with her, and because of her.
There ARE a few things I’d teach her though – just to minimize any confusion on what it means to actually be a feminist.
You do not need to toss your bra into a burning bonfire in the middle of the street to be considered a feminist.
You do not need to trash your razor and let your lady parts grow over with hair to be considered a feminist.
You do not need to walk forth into the world screaming, “F*ck the man,” to prove a point – or be considered a feminist.
Hilariously, these are some of the misconceptions about feminism that still hold true today. That us feminists are man-hating, no-bra wearing, angry little bitches who want to be taken really, really seriously.
Ok, that’s not ALL a misconception – because we DO want to be taken seriously. Who doesn’t?
But if you’re anything like me, you’re probably of the belief that feminism is more about your actions than what you look like, what you wear, or whether or not you shave your legs. Feminism is being able to be successful in whateverthehell you’d like to do with your life, because after all, it’s YOUR life and you don’t need anyone to determine where you find your success or happiness. Feminism is so many things to so many different people – and here are the top 3 things my daughter DOES need to know about being a feminist. A good, respectful, and respectable one at that.
- Feminism is believing in the power of your abilities and putting them into action.
Have an idea, a plan, a goal, or a cause you’re fighting for? Hell yes, I support that, and you should too. There is no reason you cannot follow through with any of these things simply because you’re of the female gender. Mama knew, from the moment you made your loud and proud debut into this world, that you’d be capable of great things. Go for it, my girl. Be a feminist in the sense that you are confident in your capabilities, you have a cause worth fighting for, and NOTHING will stand in your way.
- Feminism is learning to stand up for yourself and to say no without apology.
One other major misconception about feminism (and womanhood in general)? That standing up for yourself makes you a bitch. That using the word, “no” should always be followed by an apology and long-winded explanation.
No, no, no, my dear – the opposite is true. To be taken seriously, to have your opinions and ideas hold weight, and to gain any respect at all, you MUST hold strong to all of the above. You can still be a “lady” without giving in to the expectations of others. You can still be so much of a woman without needing to please others simply for their approval. Stand up for yourself. Say no when you need to. It will all fall in line, under your terms and conditions, after you’ve learned to set guidelines and lay boundaries.
Feminism is knowing that kindness always wins.
As I mentioned above, bitchiness and feminism do NOT need to go hand in hand. It is my belief that anything can be done with just the right amount of kindness – as this is exactly how your mother has chosen to live her life and achieve her dreams as well. Use your womanly intuition and tap into just how much kindness will get the job done in any situation, and you’re halfway there. Be kind to those you love, be kind to those you don’t, be kind to those who can help you on your path, and kind to those who cannot. Kindness always wins, my dear. You’ll lay your head down each night with pride if you follow this rule, and goddammit, you’ll make mama really, really proud.