Love and Hate

On Monday, my girl Stephanie from Wife Mommy Me talked a little bit about the things she loves and hates in life. As a result, she tagged a few of her blog friends to join in on the fun, one of them being yours truly. I always enjoy posts like these because you get to learn a little bit about the person behind the blog and so many times, I feel like I’m writing about a lot of heavy issues so it’s nice to lighten things up every now and again.

ONE // Clean bed sheets hot and fresh from the dryer. Is there anything better than sliding into bed on a set of warm, clean bed sheets? I don’t think so.

TWO // Christmas. Let me put it this way: this year when it came time to take down our tree, it made me so sad that I decided to leave ours up year round. I also play Christmas music when I’m working or cleaning and I further admit that you may see me pinning Christmas related things on Pinterest. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, y’all.

THREE // My relationship with Christ. In an older post from this year, I talked a little bit about religion and what we believe, and while my views may not resonate with most people, for me it works. I believe in Christ and the divine plan for all mankind. Many times throughout the day, I talk and commune with the Lord and share my concerns, my joys, my wants and my needs with Him. I listen quietly for His answers. Sometimes they come right away, other times they do not but regardless, I feel His spirit with me always. My personal and private relationship with my Heavenly Father is an important aspect of my life even though from the outward appearance, may not seem so.

My belief is simply this: I don’t think sitting in a building on a weekly basis makes anyone more Christian or holier than the person who chooses not to attend a worship service, and while reading the scriptures gives us an outline and foundation to guide our lives and choices, I believe that the actions and works of a person shows what they truly believe far more than reading pages in a book. Christ lived his life as a teacher but more so, put into action what He believed by living His life as an example to others through His works, deeds and interactions with His fellow man.

And this is the main principle I hope to instill in our daughter – that faith without works is dead.

FOUR // Tacos. Never, ever in the history of all food given to mankind was none better than the taco. Y’all know that scene in Forest Gump where he goes on and on about the different ways to prepare shrimp? Yep, that’s me with a taco. Chicken tacos, spicy shrimp tacos, street tacos, veggie tacos, pork tacos…

FIVE // The Tennessee Volunteers and All Things Tennessee. I was born in Nashville, lived in Chattanooga for a time and my alma mater is Middle Tennessee State University. Our family have been HUGE Vols fans since God was a child. Growing up, my grandparents’ home was orange with white trim, they had a white and orange checkerboard mailbox, a camper named Smokey to travel to all the home games in and both of their cars were white with an orange stripe decal down the side. I remember curling up in the floor and watching the Vols play with my PaPa when I was young. Like, really young. I think watching the Vols play for him was the closest thing to heaven. Now in my home, we yell “GO BIG ORANGE,” sing Rocky Top and yep, I normally get a little misty-eyed at the beginning of each home game during the running of the T.

SIX // Fall, Winter and Snow. Simply put, I don’t get down with summer, sweat, bugs and heat. No thank you. Give me a cozy sweater, a hot pumpkin spice latte, boots, a cute scarf and some snow fall any day of the week.

SEVEN // Paper Planners, Paper Books…Paper. Yes, I’m aware that we’re in the year 2015. I’m also aware that there are a gazillion electronic devices to help reduce the use of paper, but here’s the thing – some things should never cease to exist in paper. I get why people love their iPads, Kindles, blah blah blah but for me, holding and reading a paper book is the best feeling in the world. I love to snuggle up under a blanket or in bed with a great paper book and a glass of wine. To me, it’s just not the same feeling holding a cold machine in my hand (and yes, I’ve tried.) I love to see floor to ceiling bookshelves stuffed with paper books and as much as I’ve tried, I just can’t keep an electronic calendar. I love to have my old school paper book planner where I can take notes, plan and keep important documents in front of me.

EIGHT // My Family. They are crazy, unpredictable, annoying, fun, nosy and so much more but you know what? They are mine. Always have been and always will be. No matter who comes and goes in my life, they will always stay. They have always been there for me during my most trying times in life when no one else was and for them and their undying support, I am eternally grateful.

NINE // Going Out for Breakfast on Sunday Morning. Truthfully, I love breakfast food anytime of the day but there is something so soothing and relaxing about spending a morning out with a giant plate of pancakes, a full cup of coffee and the ones you love all around you. It’s even better when you just take the time to sit back and talk and fellowship.

TEN // Cooking. Confession: there was a time when I had zero clue what I was doing in the kitchen. I specifically remember the first time I tried to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. Long story short, I added so much garlic to the sauce that not even the dog would eat it. Nowadays, I throw down in the kitchen and have become quite an amazing cook. Getting in the kitchen, chopping, dicing, stirring and meal planning for me and my family is very therapeutic for me and brings a wonderful feeling of calm and peace into my day. I’ve really grown to love it.

ONE // When People Blow Their Nose at the Dinner Table. Ew, just ew. I know there are certain instances where it can’t be helped but really, get your ass up and leave the table.

TWO // Smoking. Want to wreck your body and temp the big “C” word? Go for it, just don’t bring that nasty habit around me or my child. NO.

THREE // All Things Alabama. If you’re confused by this, refer back up to number five in the “Love” set and you’ll know why.

FOUR // Mess, Disorganization and Clutter. True story: you can always tell I’m irritated by my surroundings if my left eye starts twitching. I have to have order and cleanliness otherwise, I look like I’m winking at everyone.

FIVE // Over Cooked Meat. There is only one way a fillet should ever be cooked: RARE. There is nothing worse than being served a nasty plate of shoe leather.

SIX // Tardiness. I mean, really. How hard is it to plan ahead accordingly??!! Okay, we all get stuck in the occasional traffic jam or something happens at home with the kids to prevent us from getting out of the door on time but if you’re habitually late or make it a point for your motto to be, “Better late than never” and I’m always sitting around wasting my time (which is just as valuable) then we can’t be friends. #sorrynotsorry

SEVEN // Poor Hygiene. If you’re a grown ass adult, then it’s very simple: brush your damn teeth. Bathe. Put on some type of deodorant. Clean out your damn ears once in a blue moon. Clip your toe nails so that it doesn’t look like you’re sporting two sets of eagle talons on your feet. Brush your hair instead of it looking like a bird perched on your head and made a nest. Regardless of what the Peanuts cartoon will tell you, one wants to hang with a pig pen.

Eight // Talking on the Phone. My parents will get a kick out of this one because growing up, my ears were permanently glued to the house phone. Nowadays? I can’t stand to talk on the phone, save, unless it’s a dear friend or relative that I’m talking to. I really dig snail mail and texting but talking on the phone? I’d rather scoop my eyes out with a spoon. #IKnowImWeird

NINE // Sunshine. It’s glaring and gives me a headache. Truly, my most favorite days are the ones where it’s overcast and cloudy – not raining. Just grey skies and cool breezes. Again, I realize how weird this sounds.

TEN // Math. I know enough to balance my checkbook and that’s about it. Math and I have always had a tenuous relationship. True story: I was so bad at Geometry, my father begged my 9th grade Geometry teacher to pass me so that he (my dad) wouldn’t have to suffer through another semester of helping me. I kid you not. My dad literally had a parent/teacher conference to beg my teacher to pass me. Fortunately, my teacher had mercy on me and passed me but needless to say, math and I have always been on bad terms.

So how about you? What are some things you love and hate?

Letters to Madeline: Happy 4th Birthday!

Dearest Madeline:

Here we are on your fourth Birthday. Can you explain to me how this happened?! When I close my eyes and think of you, most times I still see you as my little, precious baby…

But you’re not.

You have grown into a beautiful, tenacious, curious, funny and wickedly smart preschooler.

At four years old, you are a healthy, happy, super active, curious, observant, wide open, hysterically funny girl. You are wickedly smart {More so than your parents and most people to which your father and I are scared to death. Ay yi yi...} and you constantly amaze us with your quick wit. You have more sass and attitude than your little body can hold and the same qualities that drive us insane - your stubbornness, your defiance, and your passion are the very same things that will take you far in life. Your father and I are so very proud of you, my love. You are a headstrong little lady...I have a feeling this will be a challenge for your dad and I as you get older. It's okay, my Chickie. We'll get through the bumps together.

You have a few loves in your life, mostly food, bubbles, donuts and your best friend, our sheltie Henry. From the day we brought you home from the hospital, you and Henry have been BFF's. You play together and watch movies together but what really grabs at my heartstrings is how he sleeps with you in your room at night. You guys are so cute to watch together. You also love to watch movies with your favorites being Frozen, Monster's University and Toy Story. Your favorite shows to watch on TV are Curious George, Paw Patrol and Team Umi Zoomi. A big first for you this year was going to your very first movie in the theatre. Daddy and me took you to see Minions and you loved every second of it...especially the copious amounts of candy and popcorn.

At four, you have so many things in your life that you love and enjoy: playing kitchen, doing anything outdoors, tennis, baseball, swimming and anything having to do with the water and you LOVE airplanes. It's amazing to sit back and watch you play with your toys as you come up with stories and scenarios that usually, make absolutely no sense to your dad and me but hey - you're happy and that's all that matters. 

You are bossy, silly, and talkative like your mom yet observant, reserved, and particular like your daddy. You can be quick to explode but also oh so fast to dish out the snuggles, kisses and lovies. Even at the age of four, you have an amazing ability to sense the need for compassion and kindness as you are always quick to help clean up your messes, say "bless you" after sneezes and will rub our heads and ask "You okay mommy?" God, how that melts me. Literally overnight, you turned into a little adult talking in full sentences, asking questions, being able to discern situations and you’re always the first to scold daddy and I when we say bad words.

At four, you are truly the light of all our lives. You are completely and utterly adored by your grandparents and everyone you meet is instantly a friend. You have brought so much joy and happiness to so many people and in so many ways, you have made our family complete. You are the light of Poppy's life, the twinkle in Grandma's eye and the debate is still going strong between your Aunt Ashley and Aunt Jordan as to who the favorite aunt is. It's safe to say that you have us all smitten.

At four, you are imperfectly perfect my little Chickie. I gave you life but it is you who saved mine. Thank you for being my inspiration and motivation to be the best woman and mommy I can be. Thank you for showing me how to love your daddy in a whole new way I never thought possible. Thank you for showing me so many more lessons about myself than I've taught you up to this point. Your daddy and I are so proud of you and the little person you're becoming. You will always have our love, our support, and most importantly - our hearts. Thank you for being, well, you. Stay awesome, my love and continue to kick ass. Always, kick ass.

Happy Birthday and love forever and always,

Mommy and daddy

Whose to Say One and Done is Wrong?

It started around six months after Chickie was born.

I was frequently asked, “So – when are you guys going to have another?”

Truth be told, I was still struggling with becoming a new mother, returning to work full-time, coping with the sleepless nights but most of all, my body was still recovering from Chickie’s C–section. The thought of having another child with all those life adjustments going on was the furthest thing from my mind.

But the questions, assumptions and interrogations continued…

“You are still young! Have another one quickly before it’s too late!”
“You don’t have any fertility issues, do you? What’s the problem?”

Each time, my answer was simply “We do not want another child.”

By people’s reactions, you would have thought I magically sprouted six heads and blew fire.

Then would come the litany list of reasons Michael and I should have another child:

“You don’t want your daughter growing up and taking life on alone, do you?”
“Single children tend to be really spoiled. You need to have another one 
to balance it out.”
“Doesn’t Michael secretly really, really want a son?”
“You don’t think she’ll feel pressured to be perfect as an only child?”

Out of all these questions, my personal favorite would have to be: “But you and Michael make beautiful children. It’s your obligation to make more!!”

Um, okay.

Becoming a first-time mother at 35 I was even shocked that I had Chickie. I never thought I’d have the chance to become a mother coupled with the fact that I never had much of a mothering instinct growing up, I was perfectly fine and dandy with just one child. From the moment I met Chickie in the hospital, I knew instinctively that I only wanted one child. For me, our family felt complete. I had zero desire to have another child and Michael felt the same way.

With every year that passes, I am more and more convinced that our decision to be one and done is the right choice for us. And that’s the part I’d like to emphasize – the choice to have only one child is what works for us. If you want 20, by all means knock yourself out. Or up. Every couple has to determine what is right for them and them alone because at the end of the day, they are the ones left dealing with the ramifications of their choices. Having children is a deeply personal decision that should be understood and respected by all. In as much as you and your spouse may want 20 kids, some couples don’t, and when it’s all said and done, both sides should respect the other. As I said earlier, no one has to live your life but you.

Having said this, I understand where the questions and input comes from. With the average American household now holding at around 2.01 kids (How the heck is a number like that possible when you’re talking about people??) it’s easy to understand people’s confusion and hesitance when you say you only want one child. So to add a little balance to our more-than-one mentality in our culture, I offer my own personal reasons for being one and done:

1.    I Know My Limits and My Limitations. It basically boils down to this: I could be a great parent to one child or a mediocre parent to more. Pretty simple, huh. I know that my temperament and personality is suited for one child and that having more would put a huge strain on that. I’ve also discussed how I’m a mother who battles depression many times here on the blog. In order for me to be at my healthiest mentally and emotionally, I keep this in mind with regards to kids. Knowing this about myself, why would I want to have more children knowing I’d only be a sub-par parent at best?

2.    The Financial Aspect. I feel that when a couple starts discussing the topic of kids, it’s important to take into consideration what you’re financially able to afford and provide. Bringing a life into the world is a huge commitment and you never know what life will throw at you on any given day. If you’re not prepared to take on that commitment financially, it brings a whole new set of challenges into your family. For us at this specific time in our lives, even if we wanted more kids, it wouldn’t be prudent because we’re not in a position to do so financially. As it stands now, we are living within our means with one child and we are more than okay with that.

3.    Still Having Time for Personal Interests and “Freedoms.” I am a firm believer that while we as parents make a life-long commitment to our children, it by no means translates into “Give up everything that makes you happy as your own individual person.” I’ve come to find that the happiest I’ve been in parenting over the last three years has been when I felt like I was still able to have a sense of “me,” time to myself and the flexibility to have social time with friends and time with Michael. Being who I am as a person, and Michael as well, I don’t think if we had more children we would be able to handle the added stress of raising kids. I feel that now, we have the best of both worlds – we have the child we always wanted and we still have the ability to have a certain amount of freedom that we both enjoy and need as individuals. In my book, that’s a win-win.

I also truly believe that if you want your child to have a happy, fulfilled life, you have to model that. If this equates to having more than one child for you, great but if not, and all you’re doing is struggling to keep your head above water every day because you gave into societal, family or friend pressure to have more kids even when your gut told you not to, you’re not modeling that and your children will know it and feel it.

4.    Speaking of Freedoms & Finances, Let’s Talk About Being a Working Mom. I’ve discussed many times why I enjoy being a working mom. You can follow up on those thoughts here. If we were to have more children and were not in a place to do so comfortably with regards to finances, I would be forced to be a stay at home mom. While there is nothing wrong with being a SAHM, (I’ve done it!) it’s not what truly makes me happy. Again, it goes back to having the balance of individual wants and needs that translates over into a happy and healthy parent.

5.    The Plain Simple Fact that We Don’t Want Another Child. It’s fine for me to sit here and talk about 1-4 on this list and all of those reasons and explanations are true but really, the simple fact of the matter is that we don’t want any more children, period. Neither Michael nor I have any desire to do the baby days all over again, but it’s more than that. When we think of our family as a whole, we feel it is complete.

Is this choice always an easy one? Nope. I’ll be the first to admit that at times, I’ve questioned our decision to only have one child and not give Maddy a sibling. So many times Michael and I have both been stretched thin while trying to juggle a million different things at once and all the while, Maddy is begging for attention. Of course in situations like that it would be nice for her to have a sibling to play with to keep her company. I’ve felt the fear of, god forbid, something happening to me and Michael and she is left without us and a sibling. But then my reason kicks in and I’m reminded that I don’t believe in bringing children into this world just for the sake of having siblings and play mates. I feel very confident in the way that Maddy is being raised and along with her magnetic personality, that she will have no problem making and having life-long friends. She will also have her aunts who are seven and 15 years younger than myself along with any children they may have. I feel confident that she will never be left alone in this world.

Do I fear the day when Maddy comes to me and her father to ask us for a sibling or asks why she doesn’t have one? Sure, it hits me every so often but in the end, I hope we have the courage to be honest with her to tell her – she was enough for us, and not from the aspect of raising a child but more from the heart…that she was enough to fill our hearts and lives. She and she alone. From the moment we met, we knew our family was complete.

Happy are we, our family of three.

How Do You Know When You're Ready to Become a Parent?

Easy question, right? No pressure.

To be completely honest right off the bat, I was never really sure if I wanted a child or if I’d have the opportunity to be a parent. My pre-baby self would always joke with my girlfriends that already had kids about mommy things like lack of sleep, sore nipples and the downsides to labor and as a result of hearing their not so always rosy answers, I found myself asking,  "What made you decide to have kids??! Are you crazy??" In the back of my mind as they were laughing at the jokes, I was always thinking something along the lines of, "No really - I'm not kidding. What made you do it?"

Most people never know when they're really ready or prepared to have a baby but my story goes a little deeper than that plus, over the last few days, I've had a few different girlfriends ask me about how I knew I was ready to have a child so I thought I'd discuss it here. Let's gooooo!

Growing up I was never much into playing house, playing with baby dolls or anything close to resembling homemaking or taking care of a child. As a matter of fact, my Cabbage Patch doll was naked most of the time and most of my Barbies walked around without their heads as I had cut them off {Call child services!} I would have much rather been outside riding skate boards in the neighborhood with my boy friends, playing in the creek across the street from our house or reading. As I got older, I refined my femininity quite a bit but never my feelings towards having a family - the feeling just wasn't there.

I guess I could chalk half of it up to selfish feelings; I enjoyed my freedom, I liked not being responsible for anyone but me and liked knowing that my life was mine and mine alone but it was more than that looking back on it now. At the time, I questioned whether or not I really had what it takes to be a good mom. I loved kids but it concerned me that I didn't have a natural mothering instinct. Couple this with the fact that I was married to a man at the time who didn't want kids, so it was easy to not have to deal with my feelings about whether or not to have kids at all. Life for the most part was...simple.

Then things changed.

After 7 years of marriage, I got divorced.

I was on my own again to start life with a clean slate. A fresh start. Once again, I had my freedom. My life was mine to do with as I pleased. I was on the open road and nothing could stop me.

Then I met Michael.

Long story short, after a whirl-wind romance, we found out I was pregnant. I was shocked. Floored actually. I was on consistent birth control without missing a single dose so having a child was the furthest thing from my mind. For the first time in my life, I was forced to deal with the questions I had tried so hard to not deal with for the majority of my life...

Am I ready to have a child? What kind of mother would I be?

To answer this question, I refer to an IM conversation I had with a girlfriend of mine a while back. She is dating a man with kids and I asked her if being with his kids made her want to have kids of her own. She is still undecided but asked me how I knew I was ready to have Maddy. This was my honest reply:

"As for kids - I wish I had an answer there but I don't. I'm not even going to pretend that I do or blow sunshine up your butt about it. It sounds very cliché to say, but I don't know if anyone is ever *really* ready to have kids or knows when the time is just right to do it. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying, bottom line and you need to run away from them as fast as you can.  And if you've read any of my blog posts at all, you know it's not always bedtime stories and play dates at the park. Parenting can be a bitch and it can suck sometimes, honestly. It can also be *the* coolest thing you've ever experienced. It's a constant roller coaster of emotions and it's not always great - sometimes it's high and sometimes it's low. Not trying to be a downer, just being honest. In my case, you know I was always very uneasy with the thought of having kids, partially because I was with a man who didn't want any and it kind of marred my thinking and partially because I never really possessed a "motherly instinct.” As with most things in life, we can talk all day long about what we would or wouldn't do in certain situations but until we are forced to deal with them ourselves, we never really know how we feel or what we would do."

All of that to simply say this: Sometimes we never really know how we feel about a circumstance or situation until we are tested or challenged on it. Even when we doubt ourselves, the Lord knows exactly what we need, when we need it. Think about it. I could have easily gotten pregnant while I was married to my ex-husband but it wasn’t right. Becoming pregnant with Madeline after meeting Michael, though I wasn’t supposed to, was meant to be and what is always meant to be will be. Sometimes we just have to succumb to faith and trust that there is a purpose at play. While I was nervous and scarred shitless to find out I was pregnant, there was also something that just felt right about it and I knew in the end, everything would be okay.

Fast forward three and a half years later and I couldn't be happier. I have a beautiful baby girl, Michael is an amazing partner and I have a wonderful little family. My life is still mine but it's different - it's better. Madeline makes me want to be a better woman and person. She inspires me every day to new heights and even on the rough days of parenting, I know it's totally worth it. Having a child didn't destroy my life - my life began when I had Madeline. I get to experience so many wonderful things and see life as a child through her eyes all over again. I laugh, I cry, I marvel but most of all, I love. Madeline has taught me to love in a whole new way I never thought possible. Even on the bad days, it’s all totally worth it.  

If you're reading this and you’re on the fence about having kids my message to you is simple: walk your own path. Listen to your own heart. You may never know if you want kids and that's okay. You don't have to live up to anyone's expectations except your own and you don't always have to have the answers to everything. Enjoy the time you have with yourself now and relish in that. Life is always out there waiting and what is meant to be will always find its way to you - always. 

Is This How This SAHM Thing Works?

Allow me to get straight to the point: I have absolutely NO CLUE as to what I'm doing as a SAHM. While it is still completely daunting to me at this point, I have to also admit that secretly, I'm enjoying it. This season of my life isn't intended to be permanent. I will eventually be going back to work (Someone hire me, Puh-lease!) but for now, I'm embracing the unknown and adjusting to this new role. However, it hasn't been without its frustrations...

I've had a job since I was 15. I've worked every year of my life since so when you go from working 9 - 5 for some 20+ years to staying at home with your child, it is an odd transition and I'm learning that it takes time to adjust. I'll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no freaking clue as to what I'm doing. Going from a life of knowing where I had to be at every second of the day and following someone else's schedule to having no required schedule, no one to answer to and no commitments has been difficult. Like seriously - WTF do I do with myself and Maddy ALL. DAY. LONG???

I've been scouring Google to get some answers to this question. I've googled everything from "Stay at home mom schedules" to "how to keep a preschooler entertained" and honestly, it has been totally useless because every mother is doing it differently. And why wouldn't they? Every family and every child is different so it only stands to reason that there is no clear and concise answer to this question of "how do I fill my days?" But what I have learned in a very short amount of time is this: there is no right or wrong answer. Apparently, that's the beauty of being a SAHM mom - to have the flexibility to do with your days as you see fit. More importantly, I'm learning that this is a special time I'll have with Chickie that I may or may not ever have again and for that reason alone, I cherish it.

At this point, I can't say that I'll ever be comfortable with being a full-time SAHM - I just don't think that's the kind of woman I am... it's not me and I wouldn't be staying true to me if I were to say, or do, otherwise. I enjoy work. I enjoy professional challenges and rewards. I enjoy knowing I can have the best of both worlds and NOT feel guilty for it. More so, I enjoy being an example to my daughter in a world that is hard for women that she can see me having a career and a family and that it's okay, so I can't say that I'll always be a SAHM. But what I do feel comfortable saying is that for now, I'm embracing this new challenge and time in my life and enjoying it for what it's worth. It's not easy but Maddy and I are figuring it out together along the way and life is good - even on the challenging days. I feel so incredibly blessed to have such an amazing daughter to share my life with and look forward to this time we will spend together. 

Especially during nap time. 

If you're a SAHM I'd really love to hear from you on how you fill your days and schedule your time. Any and all input, advice and suggestions are welcome! 

25 Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Parent

In a couple of weeks, my daughter will be four years old.

In many ways it feels just like yesterday that Maddy was placed in my arms fresh from the womb. In many other ways, it seems like the time has drug on, and on and on. In the wee hours of the morning when you're up with a screaming baby it feels like those long days and nights are never going to end, but a new day comes with a fresh perspective and a renewed will to move forward and before you know it, you've blinked and the years have flown by.

Preparing for Madeline’s birthday has given me a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the last three years of being a mom. I've learned a lot about myself during this time; my strengths, weaknesses and the kind of woman and mother I want to be all around. Some of my memories are great. Some, not so hot, but they've all made me the woman I am today and helped to mold me for the mom I want to be. 

25 Things I've Learned Since Becoming a Parent

1 | Don't be afraid to ask for help, especially in those first few weeks and months. Don't try to be the hero. Just ask for help.

2 | Take time away from your child; date nights, "me time" & girls' night goes a long way.

3 | Not breast feeding isn't the end of the world. I know it doesn’t feel this way when you’re in the thick of having to decide whether or not to do it or when you come to the realization that you can’t do it (like me), but trust me – your child’s worth, health and overall happiness and success won’t be determined by what does or doesn’t come from your boobs. Don't ever let anyone make you feel bad for choosing not to do it.

4 | Don't forget about your spouse/partner & find ways to make them feel special. They are adjusting to parenthood too and need the same support us moms need - sometimes more.

5 | Laugh often and mostly, at yourself. 

6 | If you have to work, find a day care you, but more importantly, your child loves. It will give you peace of mind while you're away during the day and a great center is worth their weight in gold.

7 | Live with less. It is amazing how little "stuff" a baby really needs and there is no need to go into debt for things that are temporary and will be outgrown/out-used before you know it.

8 | Be honest about your emotions & mental state post baby. I live with depression on a daily basis but suffered from severe depression a few months after Madeline was born and needed help with additional medication and therapy. There is no shame in asking/needing/wanting help. 

9 | Follow the old adage, "Sleep when the baby sleeps." I did the complete opposite as a new mom because I felt like I had to keep all the balls in the air at all times and it did nothing to help with anything - especially #8 above. There will always be laundry and housework to do so let it be. Or better yet - refer back to #1 and ask for help.

10 | Follow your gut and intuition. Many people will have an opinion of how you should be taking care of your child but only you know what is best for you and your baby. It isn't called "Mother's Intuition" for nothing.

11 | Get out of the house. It's easy to get cooked up in the house those first few weeks after bringing baby home but a breath of fresh air goes a long way in clearing your mind and soothing your soul and spirits.

12 | Learn the battles that are worth fighting with your child and the things that are worth letting go of. Just as with adults, not every battle is worth fighting and some things are better left alone. 

13 | Remember you. Do your best to keep up with hobbies and the things you enjoy doing outside of your child. Yes - our children are the priority but in order to be our best selves for them, we need the time and opportunity to remember who our best selves are without our kiddos. It is okay to be selfish with ourselves and our time every now and again.

14 | Learn to let go and let your spouse/partner take over. If you're a control freak like me this will be hard to do at first but in the end, you can't carry everything by yourself. It doesn't matter if the laundry isn't done the way you like or if the kitchen isn't cleaned to your liking. The point is - it's done. You don't have to worry about doing it. Be appreciative and move on.

15 | Say you're sorry and do it often, even if you are not in the wrong. I can't stress enough how important this one is especially for new parents. It is easy for two sleep deprived people to become easily agitated and lash out for reason or no reason at all. Keep your perspective about the big picture and just say you're sorry. It will go much further in mending fences than anything else you do in your relationship.

16 | Learn to say "No" more. You don't have to be everything to everyone. 

17 | Find a good set of mom/parent friends. As much as you like to think that your new baby won't hinder your relationship with friends who aren't parents, it will. It is the truth and it's the reality of becoming parents. The bigger reality is that they will have no clue {to no fault of their own} on how to fit in with your new lifestyle. You don't have to lose these friends but it helps to make new friends too - mommy and parent friends will be able to help you laugh, commiserate, and work your way through parenthood.

18 | Learn to laugh at yourself and forgive yourself often. You will have some pretty rough and trying times to get through as a parent. You will make mistakes and do things you never thought imaginable to make and keep your kiddos happy. Life is much easier to handle at times with laugh.

19 | Stay off the Internet researching everything under the sun - it will drive you crazy and to madness!! Picture this: there was a time when people actually managed to raise children successfully without the help of the Internet. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. I found myself spending hours of wasted time in front of my laptop for every little thing that I felt was wrong with me or my baby and you know what? In the end, reading things off the Internet only made me feel worse. This goes back to #10 and learning to develop your mother's intuition and a trusting and open relationship with your child's pediatrician. 

20 | Find an organizational system for your life that works for you and your circumstances and stick to it. The bottom line is that you can't run your life half-assed with kids. You just can't. You will wear yourself down quick and often. Plan to work and work the plan.

21 | Let the kiddos be young. This is the only time in their life that they can act free and uninhibited. Let them do it! It goes against every fiber of my "everything in its place, neat and tidy" being to let Maddy be messy, but I do it; finger paints, playing in the dirt, the messy room - all of it because bottom line, it's her happiness and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter. It can all be fixed and cleaned, momma.

22 | Accept that children don't need the best of everything. Only you care about the finer things in life. Your child could care less if they are wearing designer clothes and playing with the latest and greatest toys.

23 | Tell your child "No" every now and again. We've all encountered the Bratty Bratterson. Enough said.

24 | Be the disciplinarian - not the best friend parent. Bottom line, you have a job to do. Raising a human is no joke, y'all. You will have time to cultivate a friendship with your child when they are an adult. Right now, it's time to take care of business. I didn't understand this growing up with my own parents but I do now that I have my own child and I THANK GOD every day that they understood and implemented this very fine principle for myself and my two sisters. 

25 | And finally, when all else fails, drink a fabulous glass {or two} of wine.

What advice would you share? I'd love to know! 

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