Wednesday, February 20, 2013

hold on

(A crappy iphone photo but I love it)

It's strange to think that there will be a time when it won't be completely normal for Phoenix and I to be touching all day and night. Between morning snuggles, nursing, reading books in my lap, holding him on my hip as he watches me cook dinner, holding hands as we take a walk, baby massage after bath time, rocking him to sleep, and all the hugs and kisses all day long there is very little space between us. There were so many times during these past 16 months that being that close all the time felt suffocating. Obviously I loved all the closeness but between non stop nursing, co sleeping, and Phoenix's very strong attachment to me, I felt like I never had my body to myself. I went from carrying him around on the inside to carrying him and supporting him on the outside. And it was absolutely my choice. I'm not complaining about it. I feel so grateful that I've been able to (and still do) nurse him and have all this time together. I know there are other mothers who would do anything to be together.

16 months has proven to be the best. He is so adventurous, so curious, and SO loving. The hugs out of no where, the slobbery kisses as he's falling asleep at night...they slay me. Lately, bedtime has been my favorite. Which is a faaaaaar cry from the struggle it was the last few months. These days, after bath, lotions, and some quiet play time. P let's me know he's ready for bed by taking my hand and leading me to the bedroom (always around 7), we sing the goodnight song to papa, mama, and Phoenix. He puts his little arms out for each of us to squeeze him and with a big grin, leans in for a giant kiss. He loves this routine. After that, papa leaves, we put on his sleep sheep, turn out the lights, and have our time. We lay in bed and he nurses as I rub his little head and sing our song. After he's done, he rolls off my lap and snuggles into me. He takes my hand and puts it on his belly because he likes when I rub his little chest/belly area. And so I do. I quietly tell him about our day...from morning until bed time. What we did, and the adventures we went on...the friends we saw and all the sirens we heard. Sometimes he chimes in, sometimes he just listens. And every night he rolls over to face me, half asleep, and gives me a series of kisses with a sleepy grin. Heart explodes. This is what I'm talking about. How is it possible that one day this won't be happening nightly? I don't like to think about it.

Feeling his tiny ribs as his chest rises and falls...hearing his small, slow breath as he drifts off to sleep...and feeling him cuddle into me as I join him in bed...these are snippets of this precious time that I hope to never forget. I know that one day I will be longing for his little hand to hold mine and for that slobbery mouth to kiss mine. His touch will be reserved for greetings, birthday wishes, and thank yous. I know this all isn't happening tomorrow but I feel like I can see the cold reality that lies ahead and I don't like it one bit.

For now, I will cherish each little request to be held. Where as once I would do anything to have some alone time...I now realize that our days like this are numbered. I was feeling suffocated by the endless physical need from my I want to give him more. I want to hold on to his hand a little bit longer before he runs off to explore, kiss his face a little bit more while he still lets me, and blow raspberries on his tummy while it's still funny. Let's not even begin talking about nibbling on those chunky thighs. I could write whole novels about my love of those thighs.

For today I will hold on a little bit tighter, and hope he will too.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

i love me pt. 1

(This photo has nothing to do with this post. I just love it. P was about 6 months old. We were in Amsterdam. I was really happy here. Look at that face...)

While others are posting about the cute crafts they made with their kids today and my pinterest is exploding with projects that I would never have enough time to attempt, I decided to dedicate this post to writing about someone I love - me. Yes. I love myself. You should too. (Yourself, not me. Although, feel free to love me too.)

My relationship with myself was not always one of deep love and appreciation. I experienced all the same mild self hatred that most women experience in their late teens/early twenties. I starved myself of decent food, sleep, and meaningful relationships. My life and body were filled with toxic people and foods. Not to mention I never gave myself a break. Whenever something didn't work out in my life, I always found a reason to blame myself. Boys, diets, college, first jobs, friends, was all my fault. My story is not unusual. And it's not as bleak as it sounds. I would not say that I was much different (in this sense) from any other young woman trying to find her way in this city. Those years were probably the funnest, wildest, and most carefree I have ever experienced. I don't say this in a woe-is-me kind of way. I am grateful for all the experiences, good and bad, that got me to the point I am at now, which is a good one. But it took lots of self discovery and knocking myself down over and over to learn how to treat myself best. And now, years later, it is constantly something I am working on.

Becoming pregnant, experiencing a miscarriage, carrying a baby, experiencing natural childbirth, becoming a mother...there is not many ways to prepare for these experiences. And all of them broke me down to my core. There was no time to blame myself, no energy to analyze what I had done wrong this time, when there is a little life to care for. I had to eliminate all the toxicity in my life. All the crippling feelings I had about myself. And then find that love within myself. Most of this happened after my miscarriage and in the first few months of being pregnant with Phoenix. I cried every day. I had so much fear. So much anxiety about what I had done wrong the first time. But I realized that it wasn't healthy for me or the baby to hold all the fear and all those emotions inside myself. So I let them go and began trusting. The universe, the process, God...whatever you want to call it. I just convinced myself that this was the journey I was on, all these moments were small pieces of my story, and if I fixated on the negative parts there wouldn't be much room for anything else.

So I carried that baby with all the love I had. I birthed him with every bit of self hatred I had leaving my body. How could I feel disappointed in myself after everything my body - and I - was capable of doing? But then came breastfeeding and all the difficulties, crying, pain, infections, frustration, and new reasons to blame myself. Again I found myself feeling not worthy of this perfect little being. I remember moments of feeling so unfit to being his mother. I felt so far away from this image I had of the mother I wanted to be. But after several months, and after our breastfeeding troubles were behind us, I was able to let go of that disappointment. I was free to be proud of myself.

Once Phoenix was around 12 months old, it felt like our life was changing daily. His needs changed, schedule changed, and expectations changed. This threw us for another loop. Suddenly I had even more obligations. Now, I'm a dreamer. I have so many ideas I would love to further explore, so many projects always on the horizon. As you can imagine, it's often frustrating not knowing how or when to make these dreams a reality. They feel so close yet so unattainable. Again came the self resentment. I was frustrated with myself for not being able to wrap my head around my own life. Not to have 40 hours in a day. There came a moment that I felt like I had hit rock bottom. Every day was a struggle. I didn't understand how so many moms had it all together. How were they running successful businesses, mothering with ease, showcasing their latest pinterest triumph (maybe I have some kind of pinterest anxiety?), and blogging all about it? And how did they not look constantly tired, like I did? I felt like I couldn't handle anything. The walls were closing in on me. Simple tasks became a cycle of frustration, anger, and crying. Every night I felt like a failure. As days went by I realized I was becoming paralyzed by my own self doubt. As much support as I had from my husband, family, and friends, I had to really look to myself. (Side note: This was also a reason I began featuring mom's group. I was reaching out for more support!)

And so I did just that. I gave myself a break. Although I do feel like I truly "have it all" in my life, it's so relevant to me. Being a mother has definitely shown me that my strengths are greater than I imagined and magnified my weaknesses even more. Which helps me when my craft anxiety sets in. I have been knitting one scarf since I've been pregnant. It might take me a while to finish it and I'm okay with that.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

mom's group v.3

(Look at that tiny pony tail - Working it, Ramona!)

In this new installment of mom's group, I'm excited to feature Emily of A Denver Home Companion. She and her husband grow their own vegetables, raise a few cute farm animals,  and above all - an adorable little lady named Ramona. Her husband also owns and works at some stellar looking restos in Denver. If you are in the area, check them out! And please stop by Emily's blog and say hello. She is lovely and I really appreciate her honest writing. Also, Emily taught me how to clean my house more efficiently! Boom. For that, I am truly grateful. Thanks again friend! Happy to have you here.

-your name, children's names, and ages
emily power, 27
ramona marilyn, 17 months

1. How has being a mother inspired you?
i get a lot more done as a mother. sometimes, i wonder how i do it all. most often i think: what the hell did i DO before i had a baby? i don't say that to mean that i'm a super-mama but rather that i am much more efficient with my time now that i have a little one with which i share my time. before baby, there was lots of free time for hanging around and putting stuff off. now, i have to rely on the quiet moments in between hanging out with the little bean. ramona has inspired me to get a lot more done in my free time (aka nap time) bc if she's awake, we're together and then i don't get much emily-time. so my online business has thrived more (ollie's vintage, an etsy shop for baby clothes), my house is cleaner, and my blogging has been more consistent. i do most of this during nap time or bedtime and these are things i wasn't good about making time for before she came along. i don't suppose this is normal bc i know a lot of mamas talk about struggling w getting things done that don't necessarily include "mothering," but for me, i have only one small child (i've heard it's exponentially harder with more than one!) and it worked this way! to that end, i also have a husband that loves to cook (so i don't have to as much) and a VERY small house (so cleaning isn't a huge task). 

additionally, and i think this is huge for me since i haven't met many mamas like this, i didn't have a career before i had a baby. i graduated college with two degrees and have done NOTHING with them. i'm also relatively young. most mamas i've met in play dates, etc. had something going on for them that they had to juggle once they had a baby. they had careers, or commitments, or deadlines, or some sort of livelihoods that they had worked hard for and/or had to get back to. i certainly applaud and, a lot of times, envy that. before i could ever get to that point, circumstances led my husband and i on a journey of lucky happenstance: we metmarried, moved from the midwest to avoid winter, took the first jobs offered in denver to pay the bills, and next thing you know, we're pregnant and have a baby and are working to make ends meet. (now, things are a little different). ALL THAT TO SAY, having ramona inspired me to FIND WHAT I LOVED outside of the home.  truthfully, i got bored being at home all the time, especially once ramona wasn't nursing as much and wasn't as dependent on me. but i didn't have anything to fall back on bc i was relatively young to have a baby compared to all of my peers and i didn't have a job or goal that would push back the timeline of having a baby or encourage me returning to a career. she inspired me to find a little niche in my world outside of her that could contribute to our family's wellbeing, happiness, quality of life, AND to use my skills outside of the home, while also allowing me to continue being very involved in her upbringing. i found that by supporting my husband in opening two restaurants and then finding a role within these businesses that made sense for myself and our family (i do administrative, hiring, media relations, and accounting for our two businesses and absolutely love it. i get quiet time each morning away from home to work on these things and then get to be back to "be mama" before noon). 

2. What is the greatest challenge of having a child?
the greatest challenge of having a child, especially of having a 17 month old, is to try to be on my best behavior. ramona is at a point where she is repeating EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. OR. SOUND. I. SAY. this means arguments--even those silly innocuous ones you have with our lover, probably daily-- need to be tempered or censored or buffered if the wee one is around. she hears our tones and our thrills and our shrills and our responses and our reactions. even when i hurt myself accidentally by stubbing my toe: not only do i need to watch myself saying "DAMNIT!" but also how i react. bc i love to overreact. and i don't want her to see that all the time bc sometimes how i act is SO unnecessary. and it's a good lesson for me to be aware of how strongly i am reacting to silly things. but it's hard too, and i'd love to sometimes not have a little, impressionable child taking in every thing i do and say and respond to and react to, but i don't have a choice. she's there. always. even when she's older than 18. and i'd like to think i'm a perfect role model or at least the best role model for her. but it's a big challenge knowing that most likely i will make decisions or mistakes that may negatively affect her. 

3. Is motherhood how you imagined it would be when you were pregnant?
this is going to sound incredibly sappy and some mamas may want to slap me. but ramona is as awesome, and probably more, than i ever imagined a daughter of mine could be. i had no illusions how hard parenthood could and would be (now if only they'd mention the same things about marriage) so i think (though hindsight is 20/20) that nothing so hard lasted too long. sure, she requires round the clock love and attention and didn't sleep through the night until she was a year. and i'm still nursing her and she still requires constant supervision when she's awake and i can't go out whenever i want to bc, hell, who'll watch the baby?! but, honestly? this girl is so great (except for months 10 thru 11 where she was constantly teething and wanted nothing to do with me). she's got sass, and independence, and intelligence. and she's healthy, and gives kisses, and says "mama" and "papa" and hugs me back. she thinks belly buttons are hilarious and likes sticking her finger in my nose. if i dare say the word "shower," she's tromping off to the bathroom trying to take off her clothes and jump in there with me. motherhood is WAY more than i imagined it would be. it's better. it's having this little product of myself and my best friend and who seems, so far at least, to have the best qualities of the both of us.  and who walks and talks and giggles and plays and is another member of the powerdriver family. she's a ham. motherhood, for the record, really is better for me than i ever thought it would be. 

4. How has your marriage been affected since becoming a parent?
our marriage is more serious now. serious in the way like: if anything were to change drastically, shit, we've got a little one to think about. in some ways, it has brought my husband, JP, and I so much closer together. in other ways, it's put a wedge between us. sex is not the same. we have not quite bounced back yet. i'll leave it at that in case more sensitive eyes are reading. but also, emotionally, i'm not able to put as much attention and care to my husband as i'd like bc there's another one vying for that attention. some mamas seem to know how to balance it. i haven't figured that out yet. but i am blessed and oh-so grateful for a hubby that's understanding and open to conversation about these sorts of things. we fight. every single day. and sometimes the arguments are fruitful and sometimes they are silly and petty and asinine. but we work to figure it out and do our damnedest to give each other the space and time to understand where the other person is coming from. and always to respect each other, our home, and the family we've created. i really couldn't ask for a better partner, which is why, even when things are SO different than before ramona joined our family, i've got a lot of faith in Us. 

5. How tidy is your home? (Come on! We all want to know!)
i do not identify with sayings that resemble the following: “Good mothers have sticky floors, filthy ovens and happy kids.” it seems to put down the mother who insists on a clean and tidy home; the mother who cleans up after a day of a house filled with kids. 

i believe that matter of a person that prefers things picked-up and tidy is more of a personality thing vs a "better mother" thing. and i'm really sorry to the mothers out there that feel some sort of pressure to keep a spotless house bc they think they will be judged if otherwise. i say, do what feels natural to you! if you're ok w cheerios from breakfast on the ground or toys spilling out this way and that after a productive day of playing. go on with your bad self! 

i,  however, am of the mama camp that will sweep up the cheerios (or encourage the dog to eat them) and will put the toys away once the kids go down for a nap (bc i cannot sit on the couch or dining roolm table eyeing that mess out of the corner of my eye). 

as i mentioned before, our home is small (572 sq feet!) so it's really not that hard to keep it tidy.  don't get me wrong: there's a shit ton of dust under the sofa. moving the couch is a painintheassthingtodo and i reserve for days when it gets so bad i have to stop being in denial. and there's always a pile of paperwork and magazines on our credenza. and dirty dishes are constantly in the sink (woes of not having a dishwasher). but honestly (and please don't hate me, mamas), i'm able to make the bed in the morning (or my hubby does. whoever is last out of bed is our family rule), the floors are regularly swept (what else do you do to entertain the kiddos?!), and toys are put away after they're played with (no, i have not trained my toddler to do it and no i don't have a robot that follows her around. it's me on my hands and knees). like i said, we live in a small space and if it wasn't relatively well-kempt, i'd go crazy. i keep it, if not tidy, organized, and that's good enough for me.

*BONUS* One line of your best advice for anyone expecting/new parents:
two, pretty please!
1. do not read the books. read the baby. (i read ina may gaskin's guide to childbirth for ramona's birth and the art of breastfeeding to learn how to get those milk machines working. other than that, i've sworn away childrearing books and have relied on my instinct, my husband and his intimate knowledge of our daughter, other mothers i respect and trust,  and time to make it all better). 
2. if something is working, do it. until it doesn't. and then find something that does. (for instance, we shared a bed with ramona until she was 11 months old and it was amazing. and then it wasn't. so we put her in a crib. and it went back to being amazing.)

You can find Emily at:

twitter: @eopower
pinterest: @eopower

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Where has the time gone, huh? I know, I know...excuses. I find that a lot of my days are filled with excuses lately. "I'm tired. My kid didn't sleep all night. We all have colds. It's too windy out." I never imagined that becoming a parent would make me so wishy washy about things. I find it so difficult to commit to any plans. It's so hard to know what our (er...Phoenix's) moods will be like on any given day. As much as I like to plan things out for us, not knowing what surprises the day may bring makes the odds of us doing something at a certain time or at all, 50/50. 

I didn't realize how much and how often napping schedules change. The day that you finally think, "Yes! We have a consistent schedule!" is the day baby decides to pull a fast one on you. Not so fast mom! Sigh...
P has been pushing his nap really lately, which is throwing me off. Despite that we manage to make it out of the house mostly every day, at least. 

That brings me to my little blog. My little space to share and write. Here I am, making another excuse. As grand as my ideas are, sometimes I am just tired. I know you know.

I have stories to tell, photos to share, and friendships to grow. I am so thankful for those of you who have become friends and for the real life friends and family who continue to come by this little blog. Sometimes I let too much time go by in between posts that it feels awkward to begin again. Do I pick up where I left off? Do I fill in the gaps? I don't know. So I'll just write. And stop making excuses.