Categories
Life

Why I love being a working mom.

The other day, I had an unfortunate comment thrown my way, and I’m sure other moms who are out there working crazy schedules and trying to balance home and personal life can relate. I’ve heard some crazy stuff for the past few years, but I was totally unprepared for this sentence to be said right to my face:

“You spend more time with work and friends than you do with your own daughter.”

Ouch.

Needless to say, they were pretty much implying that because I wasn’t home very much, it meant that I was a sub-par mom. This person also happened to be raised in a very different time and environment than I was. Maybe they were just having a bad day or something.

Still, I will never, ever allow others to guilt trip me into thinking that being a working mother is bad for my children. I’m actually really sick and tired of having to try and explain myself or justify my reasons for working (besides the obvious income, duh). I don’t know, it seems that I can’t ever win with this mothering thing. Literally, once I had my daughter, it seemed like everyone all of a sudden had an opinion on how to raise my kid.  It can certainly be frustrating at times.

Maybe it’s surprising to some people, but I love to work. Seriously. Whatever I end up doing, I want to do it well and go above and beyond where I can. It’s been in my blood since I was younger. I love learning new things and honing my own skills. Pushing myself to my own limits is something I try to do daily. It also helps that I’m just a tad bit competitive.

I know I’m not the most nurturing type of person sometimes, but I have a lot of other qualities that are mom-worthy. Here are some of my reasons why I love being a working mom:

1. Being a positive role model.

Now, I’ve never thought of myself as marriage material, let alone mother material. I knew that it was a big deal having a kid, especially watching my own mom raise me and my little sister on her own growing up. She was a huge role model for me, and probably one of the main reasons why I continue to work hard today. And I want to be that same kind of positive influence in my own daughter’s life – to encourage her to do what she loves and to pursue her dreams.

I was also delighted to find a study that shows girls who grew up with a working mother tended to surpass the career achievements of those who did not, and also earned 23% more than those with mothers who did not work. (It also showed sons who had working mothers were more likely to contribute to household chores and spent more time towards childcare!)

2. I have a college education in something I enjoy doing.

And I want to use it, damn it! I didn’t spend so much time and money on it for it to start collecting dust.

But until I can get a job in the 419 involving market research, keeping up my copywriting skills and staying up to date on the latest market studies, digital marketing tools and strategies will just have to be the next best thing for now. Being able to use my skills that I have acquired to help others in need is amazing. I just have a natural curiosity about everything and anything, and that helps me continue to learn long after graduation. So you can stop me at any time if I start asking too many questions… it’s just what I like to do!

3. My current lifestyle is nice.

I’m not going to apologize for wanting to earn more money to afford nice things. I grew up sort of poor. Nice things made me nervous (and sometimes still do, I’ll admit. I’m afraid I’m going to break or ruin something…) After working 12-hour shifts during the week, updating and maintaining the blog, and doing household-y things like cooking, cleaning, diaper changing, whatever the thing is – I like to treat myself every now and then. And I freaking deserve it.

4. It keeps life interesting.

My husband also works from time to time, but his work is more seasonal and his schedule is way more unpredictable than mine. Lately, we’ve been swapping war stories about our work environments; mine being in a warehouse and his being on job sites all over Toledo. It gives us a chance to reconnect with each other at the end of the day and there’s always a story to tell each other.

5. My kid has a stronger relationship with her grandparents and dad.

This was something I really wanted my daughter to have, and I am fortunate enough to have a supportive mom and some kick-ass in-laws to help us out in raising PJ. What’s really neat is since both of our families are extremely different, it will give her plenty of exposure to different beliefs and ideas from a very young age, and she will be more tolerant of different views later in life. She has a lot to learn from both sides, and I’m excited to see what she takes away from these amazing people.

Whether a mom decides to stay at home or go back to work, I believe they all deserve some mad respect. After all, they are raising tiny humans. That is really hard work and should be something to be proud of. Keep fighting the good fight, mommas!

working-mom-is-awesome-mom
I love my daughter.
Categories
Love Marriage

Tough love: Marriage is not for the faint-hearted.

First of all, If you’re married or about to be a newlywed, congrats to you both on taking such a huge step together! If you haven’t already been bombarded by “advice” on how to plan your big day, faced unwarranted opinions about how many kids you should have/what religion to follow/whether to wait until the big night to do the horizontal tango/etc… you will soon enough. Oh, and future newlyweds? You’d better be on good enough terms with your future in-laws, because you’re gonna be marrying them as well, by the way. Really. I’m serious.

Anyway, it’s perfectly normal to be nervous or feel challenged. This is pretty much a legally binding contract, that you two will have to uphold everyday, every hour, every minute of the rest of your lives. No sweat, right? And don’t let my snarky introduction to this entry make you get cold feet or have second thoughts – chances are if you’ve gotten this far together, there’s not much left in this world that could cause your bond to break. That being said, marriage and love is definitely not as easy as those fairytale Disney princesses make it look. Even before the decision was made to tie the knot, there was investment of time and energy into the relationship that made a commitment like this possible in the first place, amiright?

I wanted to share my short experience as a somewhat-newlywed person to help anyone after me get through the rough patches. And yes, those will happen. How you both choose to handle things and support each other will make all the difference in the world, and prevent you from becoming the 40-50% of married couples that divorce (in the US).

Sound good? Great! Then let’s begin…

1. You must choose to love your spouse, even when things get hard.

Remember what I just said about investing time and energy into this marriage thing? Marriage is work. But the rewards of such labors of love are so worth it. I have my husband to help me through this crazy journey of life, and he has me to help him through it as well when things get rough.

Also, it’s not always likely that both him and I will be in a fantastic place in life at the same time – it’s usually more of a see-saw type of thing. I’m the strong one when he gets down, even when it hurts me. Then he will lift me up to the best of his ability when it’s my turn to get the crap hand in life. We tag team problems and issues we face and don’t let those things try to wedge us apart.

2. Marriage is teamwork, not a competition.

Newsflash: you’re both human. Neither one of you are perfect, so don’t expect perfection out of your partner, either. Don’t set up high expectations of how you want the other to be, or you will end up utterly disappointed and resentful. Both of those things can be catalysts for divorce proceedings to take place.

When Dan and I first started dating, we would play Army of Two on the Xbox 360 at his place together. If you don’t know what that is, it’s basically a third person shooter game that is totally dependant on your ability to work together in a cooperative enough way to destroy all of the enemies in your path. You literally cannot beat the game unless you find a way to work together. Like the game, life has these pesky obstacles to throw at you – working together to overcome these things is not only crucial to marriage, it is also oh-so satisfying when you prevail.

3. Make date nights a priority, and continue learning about each other.

Guys, expecting each other to stay exactly the way y’all were when you met is seriously unrealistic. Get that through your head. There will be seasons of life that will challenge you, test those around you, and things in your environment will inevitably change, which can affect you and your significant other. Whether that change is a job, a newfound taste in music or food, or a sudden urge to be social or become a hermit, embrace that change with them. I’ve learned to fall in love with my husband so many times, over and over again.

Dan’s changed a lot since I’ve met him – from an amazing and supportive boyfriend who would bend over backwards to see me smile, to an exceptional father and role-model for our daughter. I am truly blessed and privileged to be able to experience every version of this man for the rest of my life. He definitely keeps me on my toes, in a good way.

4. Find a way to connect every day, even if it’s just a few minutes.

The hectic and demanding work schedules we both have can make it easy for us to just become two ships passing each other in the night. And there are some nights where we are both just so exhausted that it does happen; I’ll end up passing out at 9 pm and he won’t come home until after 11 pm, which means he’s not going to bed until 2 am. We know that this too is temporary, and the season will slow down and allow us to breathe soon. In the moment though, it can be stressful and lonely for both of us to experience.

A good thing that comes out of this though is that it makes us miss each other, and we do get to catch up with each other over a cup of coffee in the morning, or over a glass of wine at night, depending on how the day went. Whether it’s for 30 minutes or 5 minutes, I always look forward to reconnecting with him and spending that time together. It’s the little things that really matter. Really.

5. When the grass seems greener on the other side, water your own damn grass.

Comparison is the thief of joy. Especially when you’re scrolling though Facebook or Instagram and get bombarded with “perfect” relationship pictures and sappy messages of love and commitment. Guess what? These people have problems, too. You just may be too busy focusing on the flaws in your own relationship to see the challenges others may face.

Every relationship is wonderfully different for a reason. Practice gratitude daily and embrace the good things you both bring to the table.

6. Marriage is 100/100.

Divorce is 50/50. In marriage, you give the best of you that you can to each other, and you never give up on each other. Forgive each other and lend your ear as frequently as you can to your spouse. (Sometimes people just need to vent to someone!) At the same time, own your own mistakes and treat your other half with the same respect that you would like.

I’m definitely not a perfect wife. I’m not the best mother, either.

But I am enough for my husband and my daughter. And that’s what really matters at the end of the day – that we have each other, always.

Categories
Health Tech Work

Why “unplugging” from the internet is important for me.

I fondly remember the camping trips I used to take growing up. We loaded up the car until things were starting to spill out of the doors, ran around the house a bit to make sure we didn’t forget anything (except the kitchen sink) and headed towards our favorite camping spot. It wasn’t too far away from where we lived, but it was far enough to be out of the noise of the city, and away from any responsibilities and obligations that we had back home. This was our vacation ritual almost every year, and we all looked forward to it every season.

Once we arrived, the bags got unpacked, the food got cooking, and our phones got turned off and packed away for an entire week. Yes, all the way off. Not on silent or vibrate. We went completely off the map.

Nobody could reach us easily and we could enjoy our family time in peace. I feel like this practice would cause some panic attacks now – but it seemed to be completely normal to do this sort of thing only 10 years ago.

Ha, “only” ten years ago. Look at me throwing around decades of time like it’s nothing. Psh.

2000s-childhood-photo-cringe
Here’s a cringy childhood photo from the early 2000’s – proof that I really am getting older.

So why is it so hard to disconnect these days? Well, the internet is a lot more than what it was back in 2008, cell phones can now do so much more than just contact people, and a sort of obligation of availability seems to have taken hold of a lot of people. We now have online presences to maintain on our social media profiles and websites.

I think we’ve gotten to a place as a society where if we decided to unplug from our online lives, people will actually become concerned that we’ve died or something. (I’m still here, WordPress!) We’ve forgotten that we also have lives offline that need tending to.

The whole morning routine is even impacted by technology. Checking email, catching up on the news, even working out, it all usually involves being online or connected to our smartphones and/or the internet now. I have always done my best to keep a healthy boundary between my offline life and the online world. There are several reasons why I do this, and the biggest of these is to make sure I can stay healthy and productive IRL.

Even my husband and my in-laws will get irritated with me every now and then because I don’t always have my phone on me. There are certain days where a smartphone would be a distraction to me, and if I’m at work or on a job with them somewhere, I will more than likely not have my smartphone physically on me.

Just look at my life for the past few weeks:

  • I’ve picked up more hours at a part-time job, and my employer would not appreciate me updating my blog/Facebook on the clock.
  • We’ve closed on a “fixer-upper” that needs some TLC before someone in Toledo can call it a home, and have been chipping away on the to-do list for that. (Another post on that later!)
  • I have a 1-year-old.
  • The laundry has been piling up.
  • I have friends to hang out with.

… You get the idea, right?

Besides being in a busy season, here are some other important reasons why unplugging needs to be done regularly for me.

For Mental Health

I think of it like brushing my teeth. It’s annoying, but it needs to be done every day or some funky stuff will start happening in my mouth. The same thing applies to my brain. And my eyes. My head will literally start to hurt from all the light of the screens I stare at for hours, and looking at perfect, flawless photos of friends and other things I follow 24/7 is definitely not good for my mental mojo.

Turning off the computer and putting my phone away lets me be more aware of my surroundings, and allows me to be grateful for my life around me. It is good to live in the moment.

For Work

It really wouldn’t be safe for me to be distracted by a YouTube video while trying to use sharp and dangerous power tools that could cut off my arm. I can only multitask to a certain extent – and the more places my attention is, the less effective my work is.

This also applies to my writing. I find if I do it too much, my creativity suffers a bit. If I allow myself to unplug and experience the world going on around me, then I can jump back into the online world later and put those things on paper (or on this blog) for others to read about.

For My Daughter

There would be something seriously sad about missing a big moment of her childhood now because of my inattention due to my smartphone. Or from working too much. Or from being away a lot.

PJ is growing up so fast. Walking has now turned into running – sometimes clumsily into random objects. I really need to keep an eye on her now!

She is a big reason why the unplugging time for me is absolutely mandatory. PJ will not be this little forever, and I’ve got to cherish every moment that I can before I miss it.

For My Husband

Unplugging is definitely a thing that we both can struggle with sometimes, and I know he loves his time online with his friends playing Overwatch or PUBG on the Xbox, and then zoning out on Netflix after a long day. But we’ve both come to a shocking realization – everything on our bodies is starting to hurt and we are getting older by the minute.

There are so many things we want to get out and do together before we get so old that we can’t move well anymore – and we also need the time together to keep our relationship solid. Even if it’s just a few minutes in the morning sipping coffee together in the kitchen before we head to our jobs. Quality time offline to connect and check in with each other is so important!

For Freedom!

*cue screeching ‘Murica eagle here*

wat-eagle-reddit-murica
“lol wat?”

It is so liberating to not have any strings attached when I decide to go offline and to explore and to just live my effing life! As I’m wrapping up this blog post, I’m already thinking about what I’m about to go do next on a rare day off. I’m waiting for Dan and PJ to wake up from their naps. Maybe we’ll go to the park or something, but everyone is definitely looking forward to spending family time together today until Dan has to report to work this evening.

Gotta take advantage of chances like these to relax! I’ll be back soon with the story of our latest project soon.

 

Categories
Life

Goodbye, 2017.

I hated you, anyway.

If 2016 was the rise for me, then 2017 was meant to be the fall.

It was a year that broke me, in every sense and in every way possible.

2017 had reminded me that things in life are usually temporary, both the good and the bad. I lost a job, but I also received a beautiful daughter. We had to cut back on Sunday lunches out and coffee dates, but we also received another opportunity to appreciate the little things in life. Financially broke, but rich in experiences.

I took on new risks in my professional career and continued to learn as I went. Even if I had no idea what I was doing. (I still don’t.) I started a blog to hone my writing skills and to put my digital media knowledge to work. My husband and I picked up new leadership roles in our community and aspire to become small business owners. We are in the process of laying a foundation that will allow us to take charge of our lives, and to be free of any financial burdens we have taken on over the past few years.

This year helped me gain resolve and purpose. I got a better picture of what I wanted my life to be like, and clarity on how to get there. Now I just need to keep working hard on my goals and I will get to where I want to be. And the rewards will be amazing.

Failing does not paralyze me as much as it used to since 2017 was definitely the year of FAILURE for me. I was failing all over the place. But 2017 showed me how to persevere, even in the darkest moments. I’m now numb to the sting of disappointment, but I am able to quickly pick myself up and move on without looking back.

My inner demons tried to conquer me, as I fought and defeated the postpartum depression that left me devastated during a time of what was supposed to be joy and happiness. It was a dark and frightening storm that tried to ruin me and destroy all that I’ve worked hard for up to this point in my life. I still battle with my demons sometimes, but now I can make them dance and flee. I am not scared of them anymore and I will not be a slave to my own thoughts. I’m thankful for the friends and family members that supported me during this trying time of my life and continue to do so today.

I went through hell and back this year. There was a lot of pain. Loss. Sacrifice. Suffering. But all for a greater cause. Honestly, I don’t know how much there is left of me to take.

I think that’s because the old me is dying.

A newer, stronger version of me seems to be emerging. A version of me that I will need to get through the year ahead, as I can already see the new challenges and obstacles I will need to overcome. This year has hardened my heart, but perhaps for the better.

I am fearful, yet somehow after all of this, hopeful for 2018.

Cheers!

siggy

Categories
Children Life

Why my child isn’t my first priority.

I’m bracing myself for the comments about to come my way, especially from those who may get upset at the title without reading what I have to say first.

Also, check out this bit from Business Insider about why putting kids first can harm everyone in the long run. It seems I am (thankfully) not alone in feeling this way.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little resentful about motherhood expectations. Particularly about what a dear friend of mine came to me to confess before heading out on a last-minute Christmas shopping outing. She had told me that she was feeling pressured by more than just a few people to cut back on occasional nights out with friends, concerned that she is not giving enough of her time to her husband and child. Meanwhile, her husband was happily playing Xbox with his friends online. Almost every. Single. Night. She was not the only friend of mine with kids to tell me this.

And boy, did that sound familiar to me… and it made me angry.

Why is it that when women go into motherhood, we are expected to act like nothing else exists in our lives? I’ll admit that there are certain “mom” stereotypes we most certainly fit now – the Target addictions, the yoga pants/messy bun combo, and the badge of honor that we wear on our clothing that can resemble spit up, poo, food stains, and the like. But why do some people still think that once we become mothers, that is our sole identity?

Why is it that when married women and mothers go out with their girlfriends, it’s a sign that she is having troubles or that her marriage is failing, but when husbands and fathers go grab a beer and bowl together, no-one bats an eye?

My name is still Jessie. However, I will be lovingly referred to now as PJ’s mom. (or another one that bugged me after I got married was Dan’s wife. I have a name, come on!!!)

Well, I am here today to let everyone know that I will not be guilted or pressured by anyone into sacrificing everything that is of me for the sake of raising PJ, or any siblings that may come after her. I understand that having children involves some degree of sacrifice and devotion to ensure the kid’s needs are met, but giving all of me, every day for the rest of my life is definitely pushing things too far.

Here are some things that would happen in my life (read: important!) if I decided to make my child the #1 priority.

1. My marriage would suffer.

I love Dan to death. He is my rock, my soulmate, and has been an amazing father. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to come along this wild journey of parenthood with. Just as Dan has made time for me in the past, I need to also make time for Dan too, as he is not just a father. He was a person with his own identity too before we got the news that would change our lives forever. And he still is.

The first few weeks after PJ came into the world were rough for me. Dan was there to make sure that I had what I needed while desperately trying to nurse our daughter and trying to recover from a tear I had acquired downstairs that had to be stitched up. Not to mention the hormones being all over the place, I was a wreck. He had to deal with that. Just as I have to deal with Dan when he has his moments where he feels like a wreck, too. I suppose that’s how marriage works.

And marriages need a lot of work investment to keep things rolling.

We need our date nights. We need to spend quality time with each other. We need to be able to talk about things besides diaper changes and napping schedules with each other. If I put 100% of myself into raising PJ, I will have 0% left for my relationship with Dan. And that would be a recipe for disaster. This is why having a quality babysitter or a fantastic relative who is able to watch our child is worth their weight in gold. There should be no guilt in taking time off from parenting.

And if we’re happy, guess what? We can be that embarrassing pair of parents that smooch, be affectionate, and have fun with each other in front of our kid. I want our daughter to know what a healthy relationship looks like. Those to me are marriage and parent goals!

Maker:L,Date:2017-8-16,Ver:5,Lens:Kan03,Act:Kan02,E:Y
Husband Dan holding daughter PJ during our holiday travels.

2. I’d lose myself.

Sure, having a kid involved a lot of sacrifices that needed to be made in my personal life, but I still need more than just food and showers to stay sane.

As a human being, I have needs, wants, and feelings just as valid as anyone else’s. I need some semblance of social interaction with others, outside of my house. Just as I had mentioned in a previous post of mine, I needed something consistent for myself to smooth the transition to parenthood and to keep a sense of normalcy in my life. And I feel that this will also help me develop healthy boundaries that need to be set so that I don’t feel completely drained of life at the end of the day. (I’m locking my bathroom door.)

You know the saying “Happy wife, happy life?” Well, it’s so freaking true. Taking care of myself will enable me to take better care of my family. Even on days where I just want to pack my bags and buy a one-way plane ticket to the nearest beach in California, I’ll still miss my husband and my kid at the end of the day and want to come running right back home to them. Absence does, after all, make the heart grow fonder.

3. My kid will have unrealistic expectations.

I don’t want PJ thinking the universe revolves around her. Or owes her anything. My job as a parent is to raise her to the best of my ability to live without me, not believe that she is royalty and deserves to be waited on hand and foot. She needs to realize that she is not the only being on this planet with needs. (And sure, that one may take a while before it finally kicks in.) I want to pass down the lessons I have learned from my mother about being a decent human being, and how to be considerate of others around her – without being a complete pushover.

More importantly, if she ever decides to have children of her own, I want her to know that her own struggles that she has while raising them are just as valid as they were for me while I was raising her. Of course, I will be there for her when she needs me, just as any parent should be, but I will not subject myself to be her on-demand personal dishwasher, chauffeur, or laundromat. Nor should her kids treat her that way.

So no, my daughter will not be my #1 priority, and that’s okay. And my priorities will change as I get older. As will hers. One day she will leave the nest, and I will be left to figure out what to do with my life once she is old enough to start leading hers. When that day comes, I probably won’t be ready for it. I will most likely bawl my eyes out. I will continue to support her when needed, and hopefully, take a few long vacations with all of the time that I will suddenly get back to myself. But I will still be missing her and loving her, no matter what.

 

Categories
Holidays Life

To those who are having a rough holiday season.

This is for you. I see you. I know the holidays can be nothing but an annoying and painful reminder that life is not always “merry and bright”.

Fun fact, did you know that Christmas Music may take a toll on your mental health?

I’m sure it has nothing to do with hearing the same song on repeat over and over while dealing with people who are filled with anything but the holiday spirit. Which may involve said people throwing temper tantrums and cussing like sailors when they don’t get what they want, almost every single day. (Can I get an amen from everyone in the retail/service industries? You guys are superstars.)

When all of these songs are about joy, peace, and love, it can get pounded into your head that you are supposed to be feeling all of these things and that you’re to be happy about it. I don’t know about you, but I do not like the cold. I picked the wrong area to be in during the wintertime in the US, I’ll tell you that. It is hard for me to remain bubbly and happy when I have to get out of a warm and toasty bed to go scrape ice off of my car and lose feeling in my face and hands in below zero temperatures.

Don’t forget the gift giving. Oh, how I loathe the gift giving.

*Queues favorite holiday song – You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch*

Everyone seems to be in a financial struggle these days. Gift giving can just make for more awkwardness and disappointment for already distant relationships with extended family members. I didn’t even have the time or energy this year to send out Christmas cards, let alone afford my bills this month. I’m thankful for those who know me and my situation well enough to not expect anything from me until the financials are in better standing, but it has been difficult. I would love to be able to afford presents, but when it is currently zero degrees where I live, it is more important to keep the heat on. I’m so glad the people I know get this.

 

IMG_1514387750206
PJ’s first Christmas was both busy and tiring! We were all ready for a nap.

 

Dealing with people can be exhausting too, no matter how much you love them. All of the family get-togethers and closeness can be draining to some people. Happen to be hosting the holiday festivities this year? Great! You get to do most if not all of the cooking, cleaning, preparing, and more cleaning… Some people like that stuff. Props to them! I am not one of those people who are able to do that on a regular basis.

So in a world where excessive joy and happiness becomes the norm, it often turns our reality into a dystopia that can take a toll on one’s sanity. When you look on the phone or the computer, you can just see the happiness oozing out of the screen. Looking through social media with all of the group photos, the smiles and hugs between families, significant others, and even their dogs/cats dressed up for the occasion. Everyone on Earth appears to be happy right about now, except for you. Especially when this may be your first, third, or even the eleventh Christmas without a loved one or a friend. My heart goes out to these guys. The pain from this kind of loss can be unbearable, even with all of the support and condolences you get. It is never the same, and you have to slowly find your new normal without them.

Guys, do me a favor and let out your Grinch. It’s okay to feel this way. Take extra care of yourself this season and try not to let the happy police get to you. Have a good cry, break things (safely), embrace these feelings and then make like Elsa from Frozen and let them go. Then come January, you can have a go at trying it all over again. I’m right there with you.

Now excuse me while I go pick up a constipated, teething little girl from her nap. She hasn’t been happy the last few days, either. Luckily, we will both get to have the chance for a better Christmas next year.

Love you guys!

 

Categories
Life Uncategorized

I’m not going to do it all.

The universe doesn’t care if you’re Beyonce or the President of the United States – we all get the standard 24 hours in a day. Granted, we don’t have the luxury of having special assistants or personal managers to help schedule and block a day’s timeline perfectly like a game of Tetris. No, we are usually left to fend for ourselves when it comes to managing time. And even with help, things don’t always go to plan. I groan whenever a decently sized plan ends up falling apart, only to hear my mother in law tell me later in a coy but I-told-you-so way – “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” (Love you, Alyce!)

I’ve always managed to do just fine with time management in my life before baby. I mean, I had to be good with it, my survival at the time depended on it. I worked three different jobs while in college (full time), and I was also actively participating in three student organizations. I’ve learned more than once that burnout is a nasty beast, and it takes forever and a half with 5 shots of espresso in a Venti sized Starbucks coffee to manage to pick myself back up from the fallout and get moving once again.

I’m still trying to adjust after throwing a baby in the mix, even 8 months after coming home from the hospital. Guys, I still don’t feel “back to normal” yet. In fact, I’m just coming to terms that my life will never go back to what it once was – being able to enjoy a hot cup of coffee is something that I have to literally force myself to have. It is one of the little things that help keep me sane during this time of transition and keeps a sense of normalcy alive, even when everything else around me seems to be going up in flames. Frankly, I was relieved to be going back to work after my medical leave was over, but I was still struggling with how much life had changed when I came home. There was a baby to care for, and chores to be done, and bills to be paid, and errands to be run, and laundry, and cooking, and doctor’s appointments, and… I think you get the point.

My to-do list got way out of control. There was no balance left. There was no “me time” anymore. Something had to give.

I’ve found that adding the little things back into my life has helped me shape firm boundaries that need to be respected so I can be a happier person. (I NEED MY COFFEE.) First, it was the coffee. Then, it was a shower. A good hot shower, not the rushed 5 minute ones just to get myself clean. After that, it was a good meal. I wasn’t eating properly because I was placing the needs of others before me, and it showed. I slowly kept adding things back into my life that made me feel like a person again. Laundry and dishes be damned. They could wait. I had to put myself before the pile of stinky diapers that needed to go out that night.

The struggle with a new identity such as “MOM” can be overwhelming, as new expectations for how you should be as a person are just magically thrust upon you once that baby is conceived. It doesn’t help with the most recent set of standards for moms that have popped up on the picture-perfect Instagram photos and Pinterest posts. Cloth diapering. Organic, homemade baby foods and snacks. Breastfeeding. Cute and stylish outfits that put your 90’s clown-like childhood photos to shame.

You don’t have to do it all. I’m certainly not. Disposable diapers are my time trade-off for a cuppa joe in the morning. I’ll take it! And remember, social media tends to show the better side of a person. People like to post the best of themselves, while hiding and editing out the not-so-perfect aspects. (Like how I need mascara to make it look like I have lashes.)

Do what works for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in calling someone to watch your kid if you need a time out from life. And maybe a margarita.