Lovely Simply

Style and Lifestyle in New England

Tag: parenting

The Harder Days

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People talk a lot about how social media only presents one side of reality– the lovely side. I have written about that before, and about how I don’t really have a problem with it. Currently our world has some pretty devastatingly hideous aspects to it (and our country does too…) so we could all use a little bit of loveliness from time to time. That being said, as a mother, a woman, and just an all around human, I find growth not in perceived perfection but in joint struggle. If that makes sense. I’m Tired with a capital T lately. 023153b1-623d-4721-94b4-499b69d9d10f

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These photos were taken last weekend when I had a real outfit on (I do love this sweater with a passion) and had done my hair and was feeling pretty together. But in general, this week hasn’t been like that. I love being a mother. And I feel that I am pretty good at it…but sometimes I fail so spectacularly that it is almost comical. I think the biggest issue is that I am pretty tightly wound. Which is a little confusing because I consider myself a laid back person. I am not terribly particular. I don’t demand for things to be a certain way all the time. I am generally able to go with the flow. But at the same time I get really, really stressed really, really quickly. I admire women with multiple children that just sort of seem to let the crazy wash over them and smile or laugh our completely ignore it. I don’t know if that is an innate skill (in which case, I am lacking it) or something they have nurtured out of necessity (in which case, I have some serious nurturing to do) but I just don’t have it. Yet. ce0feec3-57c6-4bb9-94d7-18cbb4afcc0a

Part of my issue is that I have a fine tuned sense of guilt…which I am, of course, tempted to blame on MY mother who had her own fine tuned sense of guilt built through a tapestry of evangelical Christianity with just enough catholic sensibility to keep things interesting. But isn’t that always the go-to? To blame our mothers? And dear god, now I am a mother and I sure don’t want Redmond to start storing up his issues to blame on me in a few decades. No. Better to take the responsibility of it having been fashioned through life. My own life, through my own childhood and into this bizarre and terrifying world of adulthood. All of that to say, I expect myself to just succeed at an awful lot. At work, at marriage, at parenthood, at friendship. I expect to maintain a clean house. I expect myself to cook a really good, interesting, healthy meal every night. I expect myself to stay fit and never miss a workout. I expect myself to keep up this blog with some regularity. I expect myself to be dazzlingly successful at social media. I expect myself to be fully informed of everything going on in our country and world. The list just keeps going, and when one of the little spinning plates starts to wiggle, I am immediately convinced that ALL the plates are about to come crashing down and that it is my fault for being such a failure and such a big fat mess. I imagine this is familiar to most of us. I DON’T imagine that I am remotely unique in this. It’s basically what women put ourselves through and have put ourselves through for all of history. 25b996a1-6761-45df-abfa-ed489761ee16

c08e209c-820b-4074-ae00-ffce1d3a208d The problem, the real problem, with all of this is that when I am feeling those jabs of stress and failure (Which in the winter months is always a bit more present) my patience gets hit first. Suddenly the fact that my poor stuffy nosed toddler won’t eat his food like he usually does becomes an absolutely astronomical issue. It becomes the  new reality. It becomes, not just a temporary thing to sail through quietly and with a gentle understanding that Redmond doesn’t realize he should eat, that he only knows he doesn’t feel well and food isn’t good because he can’t taste anything with his stuffed nose. Instead, it is an affront to me. “What is wrong with you? You love cauliflower. Why don’t you eat anymore?” And as I’m saying it, I’m telling myself to be quiet. Leave him alone. But, of course I don’t listen to myself. Why would I?

When I am rushing to get out of the house in time, and Redmond won’t brush his teeth, I feel this frustration just welling up inside me. If the dog brushes against my legs depositing fur all over me, it is World War III. Because I can’t just let it slide. I can’t just give his teeth a quick brush and be done with it. It has to be thorough. I have to win. As if Redmond is busy keeping a score card like I apparently am with a check list reading”Redmond, 4. Mom, 6. I’m getting close.” I can’t just brush the dog fur off and keep going. I suddenly blame it on her like she PURPOSEFULLY SHED A LITTLE EXTRA just to spite me.

Some weeks, I feel like I am away from Redmond a lot. I am not a full time stay at home mom, and having grown up with one, I think I expect to be both. A working mother who is also somehow simultaneously a full time stay at home mom. Last night after Redmond went to bed, I was just hit heavily with all of my shortcomings, all of my failures (see that guilt there?) throughout the week. The moments where I had raised my voice. The times when I had felt that choking frustration rushing to my head. The times when I had scolded him for tiny things, for things that didn’t really matter. And for all the hours I had been away from him…leaving him (I imagined) only with the memories of my displeasure in him. “Does he know that I love him?” I asked my husband. A stupid question. Of course he knows that I love him. I tell him a thousand times a day. I tell him with words, with kisses, with smiles, with hugs, with my absolute infatuation of him, my precious little son. They call it “mom guilt” but I am more inclined to call it “woman guilt.” Something that has been groomed throughout the centuries and leaves us feeling like most of the world is resting on our shoulders. And you know what? Maybe it would be better if the world WERE resting on our shoulders. But, as it stands, it is not. As it stands, my son loves me. Even if I do lose my temper sometimes, even if I can be impatient, and testy, and short with him. I realized today while I walked with him on my back and our dog on her leash, that so often, HE is not the problem. And for that matter she (the dog) is not either. I am the problem. And not in a  I am a problem, I’m such a mess, blah blah self hatred kind of way. No, I am the problem in that all I need to do in most of these situations is breathe. Get outside. Realize it’s not that important. Its my outlook, in those moments, that is the issue. Easier said than done. Easy to write this while he sleeps, deeply, a really long nap for his second day in a row. Harder to implement later perhaps if he doesn’t eat his dinner, and I am hit with worry about his skinny little body and, good lord Redmond you are not built in a manner that allows you to go a week barely eating! Get it together! But. If I write it out, sometimes (often) it serves as a reminder. I always tell my little students that writing things down helps to cement the learning, and it does. For me at least, it does.

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sweater c/o Hope Ave Boutique// jeans c/o Wild Blue Denim//Reds Moccasins c/o Sweet n’ Swag

Days with Red

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Last year, I remember thinking that next winter (this winter) would be challenging. The combination of freezing weather, active toddler, and giant dog is not exactly a dream for anyone. Last winter was mild, and it was so easy to just zip Redmond into his snow suit, bundle myself up, and take the whole crew out for a long walk. And that was kind of all he needed for stimulation and excitement…Not so much anymore.

I’m much busier this year with everything than I was last year and am away from Redmond more. We only have three days a week that we are fully together–the rest of the days are partial or half days, so they don’t take as much forethought. But I’ve tried to get creative with my stay-at-home mom days for a few reasons.

Reason one: I actually really, really, really do not like “playing” with kids. I don’t enjoy driving cars around. I don’t like chasing toddlers and having tickle fights and riling them up. I am basically a huge fun sucker, and you pretty much are never going to find me sitting on the ground with my kid while he tells me what to play. Because of that, I make sure to find alternate ways to spend quality time with my son.

Reason two: I’m an extrovert and staying home all day just makes me grumpy, lonely, and sad. Redmond seems to be trending towards extrovert as well, and he likes to be out and about.

Reason three: I want Redmond to be well behaved when in public. If I can rely on him to listen and respond when we are at a restaurant, or in a store, it makes me want to take him to do special things more. My dad always said that he wanted to have children that he could enjoy. And I feel the same way. Practice makes perfect, so I try to give Redmond Public Practice with relative frequency.

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All that being said, I have been trying to be creative with our at-home time as well. So I thought I’d compile a little list of things we do out, and things we do at home. I try to imagine filling Redmond’s little bucket while I fill my own. He needs physical touch, ways to get his energy out, unadulterated attention, and learning experiences. And I need some alone time, a daily work out, and the ability to maintain the household tasks that fulfill me (like cooking.) So, with those things in mind, here are some of the ways we fill our day.

  1. Gym time. I talk about this all the time on here and with my mom friends. To me, it is the “me” time that I need. I attend 4-5 classes a week and then I’ll usually run, or do yoga, or just go to the sauna afterwards. There is a fantastic childcare room that Redmond always enjoys, and I love that he is getting those hours of socialization since he doesn’t go to daycare. My passes pay for two hours of childcare, and I usually take advantage of most of that time.
  2. Shopping dates. This one is pretty basic. And Redmond loves shopping. Nowadays, I often will let him walk next to me if we are just going in for a few things. He oohs and aahs at everything, but usually abides by my “only looking” rule and keeps his hands to himself. Its the best place to practice that skill.
  3. Coffee dates. Nick and I used to eat out quite a bit Pre-baby. Now, we are a bit more careful with our income and keep it to just a few times a month. But I still enjoy the luxurious feeling of being out at a coffee shop, or treating myself (and Redmond) to a pastry. Redmond enjoys the individual attention (since I always put my phone away for these things) and I enjoy eating/drinking something I didn’t make.
  4. Greenhouse outings. A lot of these photos were taken at our local greenhouse which is one of my favorite places around. We go there allllll the time. Lots of space for Redmond to run around, plus there is a friendly cat in residence and a whole bunch of birds. Usually we end up buying a little plant or something, but it is basically free entertainment for the family.
  5. Swim days. My gym has an amazing indoor pool and on mornings or afternoons where I want to take up a few hours, we will hit that up.
  6. Library. Obviously. Nothing new there. We actually rarely take books out…I’m horrible about returning them and we have a ton of our own…but I lead a baby story hour once a week, and we will just hang around playing in the kid area afterwards. And sometimes we visit libraries in fancy towns just to use their fancy toys.
  7. Woods walks. When it isn’t freezing/muddy/icy/raining, we will go to our local woods. Redmond walks on his own and collects things, and I try to keep our dog from running into the wilderness. c557b551-84cc-42e9-a2ca-04ec0d9883932799081f-735f-4852-b7c6-b931ee96384d(I know this photo is blurry, but it so fully encompasses Redmond at the greenhouse.)fe08b300-ee52-4c38-8935-d2fa7863b7a9

When we are at home, I’ve been making an effort to spend time being still with Redmond. I have such a tendency to be always multi-tasking (I am currently typing this with Red squirming on my lap and taking everything out my desk drawers) that I sometimes forget to just be with him. Just me and him. With no distractions. When I have two children, this will be even more difficult, so its a muscle I’m learning to flex now. He loves to read stories, so we read together a few times a day. I don’t enjoy playing with children, but I do love reading to them.

When I am cooking dinner, I pull his little stool up (we have this one from Wildkin) and give him a few things to “help” with. Lately, that has been a jar with a spoon and some things to “stir” up (vegetable peels work great), or a cookie sheet of flour with cookie cutters and spatulas to make shapes with. The mess is easy to clean up, and its worth the peace and quiet I get with him standing beside me at the counter and not begging to be picked up. We do the same thing when we bake together for fun. And I always let him lick the spoon. 7f878796-5c0f-444c-91cc-14237c0b0cab

And of course there is nap time. I know that once our family expands I probably will no longer have the blessed two or so hours of quiet. But for now I treasure them. Just as I try to treasure every day with my little one. Because the hard days will fade away, and I will only remember missing the weight of him on my lap, his arms wrapped around my neck, the way he calls me in the morning when he wakes up in that little sing song voice…And I want to know that I didn’t let the hours escape from me. That I didn’t miss out on his little childhood.

I would love to hear what you all do to keep yourselves happy and sane and your babies content and stimulated! Leave ideas in the comments or on my Instagram (@simply_hannah.joy).

photo 1 details: black and white throw c/o modern burlap// distressed jeans c/o// wooden block toy c/o smiling tree  toys//Redmonds romper c/o Shedo Lane (UV protected)// Redmonds moccasins c/o sweet n’ swag//

photo 2: arrow sheets c/o modern burlap// love quilt c/o Addison Belle

photo 3: my overalls c/o// Redmonds joggers c/o Shedo Lane

(thanks to Cupcake Mag for connecting me with so many small businesses. I love being able to help support these companies)

 

The Matter of Weaning

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This is a bit late in coming. Redmond is almost a year and a half old, and he weaned about three months ago. But part of my goal for this year is to get back into more “lifestyle” type posts, and to be honest, although I love style and try to at least put myself together every day, the thing that really occupies most of my time is mothering. I have worked with children since I was thirteen years old. I have a lot of “theories” about raising them…but until you have your own, all of that is just ideas and words. The past few months have been so exciting for me because I can finally put into real practice some of my ideas.

But when it came to breastfeeding, I knew basically nothing. I wrote about my journey a bit last year, but I just remember so vividly spending hours on the internet trying to find something that would encourage me while I was crying over the fact that I was using a nipple shield and that it hurt and that Redmond took an age to finish nursing when he was little.

So first off. We used the nipple shield until we weaned. I had PLENTY of milk (it took me two months to stop producing) and Red got all that he needed. So. If you can’t get your baby off the nipple shield or just don’t want to undergo the trauma of screaming baby while you attempt to shove your boob into babies mouth without the shield, just stop worrying about it. I spent so much time being afraid that people would judge me or think that I “wasn’t doing it right” because of the shield but…you know what? Who cares.

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Anyways. On to the actual topic of this post. I was terrified to wean. I was scared it would turn my happy baby into a terror. I had visions of Redmond pulling at my clothes, trying to wrench my boobs out, and me feeling like a milk machine but also like a mean mama. I wanted to wean when he was ready…but I also wanted to wean when I was ready. I had planned on going longer with Red, but I started wanting to begin trying for another baby and my body wasn’t able to nurse and return to a normal cycle. This is different for everyone…but even when we were only nursing for five minutes a day, I wasn’t getting a period and I figured the only way to get back to normal would be weaning. In November, we had a wedding to go to, and I wanted Redmond to be able  to go to sleep without nursing first so he wouldn’t give his grandparents a hard time while they babysat. I was really dragging my heels, but one night I just didn’t nurse him. He had eaten a big dinner, we had read some books, he snuggled my shoulder, I gave him his sippy cup of water, and laid him down. And he didn’t cry. He just went to sleep. And slept his usual twelve hours. And just like that, we were done. He never asked for it again. He never even hinted that he was interested. Now, maybe Redmond just didn’t care about nursing. Or maybe his intense love for solid food just swayed him away. But since he started on solids at around six months, I nudged Redmond towards being a pretty scheduled eater. We always nursed in the same spot (on the daybed in his room) and nowhere else. Because of that, when we were out and about or in any other room ofthe house he never tried to nurse. And for me, that was important. I loved breastfeeding, but I also liked maintaining my independence. I dropped his nursing sessions slowly– for a long time we were doing three a day– once when he woke up,  before his nap, and  before bed. I gently weaned him off of those first two over a matter of months and stuck with the final nurse until he was almost fifteen months old. And that was that. I didn’t replace the nurses with bottles– he never took them well — I just gave him little snacks or meals. img_3345

I really worried that when we were done nursing, I would desperately miss that snuggle time with Red. But now he actually cuddles me…he loves sitting on my lap for stories. He loves lying in bed with me. Before I lay him down for bed at night, I whisper a prayer into his ear while I hold him, and he nuzzles his head into my neck and it is such a sweet closeness that somehow means more to me…because he is cuddling me for me. Which feels so special. I still miss the essence of breastfeeding– knowing that I am building and nourishing a child–but it makes me look forward to a second infant that much more. And that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say I think. I would LOVE to answer any questions if you’re a new mom just starting out nursing. It was a hard journey for me but so deeply worth it. And I’d love to hear about your journeys as well! And I’m going to stop saying journey. Ok. Happy almost weekend!

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Reds blanket: c/o Audreys Bear

Ain’t no Mommy got Time for That

   
   
Before I had Redmond, I didn’t know how having a child would change me. I mean, I knew things would change  but I didn’t know how I would change. Four months in, and being a mother has made me feel so much more powerful as a women. It has given me this confidence that I never had, and this clear and shining purpose–to raise him to be a good man. I hate to even think about my baby becoming a grown ass human, but I want to do everything I can to make him someone who will improve this increasingly dark world. When I hold him and look into those clear, deep blue eyes that are always watching me, I tell him this. I say, “You will be good, you will be kind, you will be fair, you will be gentle, you will be brave. I will always love you.”  

    
 I want to teach him generosity, love for humanity, and I know that he will learn by example. And I’m happy to be starting him young with my partnership with Dressember. There is so much more to Christmas than just getting tons of presents. I don’t want Redmond to be consumed with possessions. It’s why we don’t have a ton of toys for him now and only plan to have simple, beautiful ones as he grows. I know this may seem silly, but to us it is important. I want him to learn to give, not just be given to. Because, ain’t no mommy got time for that. 

To be part of Dressembers goal to raise money for women who are or were going through the hell that is Human trafficking, donate Here.

Shirt c/o Friday Apparel

Skirt, flannel, boots: old