If you follow me on Instagram then you have probably seen the pictures from the week long challenge I did. Inspired by a friend, I posted a picture every day of my perfectly imperfect life. All too often we see pictures on social media that can give us a skewed perception of how others live their lives. Naturally, we always show the good stuff and we while we should dwell on the positives, I wanted to show the world that my life isn’t always so peachy either.
My sweet friend Mary Ellen @be.still.my.heart is doing a week long challenge to show a glimpse into real life and I decided to join her because her point really hit home. It’s so easy to give others the impression of a “picture perfect” life on social media. But life isn’t always pretty. So for one week along with Mary Ellen I’m going to post a picture of something that went right and a not-so-perfect moment from our day. My life isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for me as I thank God for my blessings everyday. Today’s picture: almost a year into this and I am yet to figure out how other moms always look so put together. I am lucky if I get a shower every day. Owen usually will sit in his jumper (yes, in the bathroom so he knows I’m nearby) for approximately 5-10 minutes (he doesn’t love the thing that much) before a meltdown so I’ve mastered the 15 minute get ready routine unless I shower after he goes to bed. I can’t remember the last time I used a hairdryer.
He’s almost 1 year old but I still consider myself a new mom. And I always will because just when I feel like I’ve got him figured out, he changes. Even when we have another baby, it will all be new again. When he starts walking, when he goes to school, when he gets his first heartbreak, driving, college, marriage, becoming a father…and I’m going to be there for him every step of the way even though I’ll have no clue what I’m doing.
Every day, every milestone, every moment is something new. Something fun, something challenging. There will be perfect moments, there will be imperfect moments.
This is a perfect moment. I know it may look chaotic with the half read magazine from August, breast pump hanging on the table, eggs in the baby’s hair, my soggy bowl of cereal, and the apple cinnamon oatmeal slightly stuck to the pan that’s still cooking on the stove next to the screeching teapot for my morning tea (not shown) but this morning, breakfast went splendidly well. And trust me when I say it doesn’t always look so pretty.
My life has changed so much in the past year. I notice a lot of changes with the blog, too. It is different now. It’s updated less frequently, there are way more pictures than words, I don’t write like I used to, and there have been no “special topics” posts. I keep saying I need to bring back the old vibe of the blog and revive it to what it once was. I also keep saying that I’m going to take a break from blogging because my life is primarily offline/unplugged right now. I think I’ve hit a blog burn out. The fact of the matter is, my life – my heart – is in a different place than it was a year ago. I’m not going to stop blogging and if you read my about a&e page, at the bottom you’ll see that I don’t even know myself what the future holds for this blog. And that’s perfectly okay, so I’m just going to trust in God’s plan for me and just keep swimming, as Dory the fish would advise. I’ll keep blogging, as frequent or infrequent as it may be.
Today was a good day. Owen enjoyed a game of peekaboo while getting dressed and was in a great mood all day. I think it is safe to say leap 7 is in the books! 🙏 He handled dinner and bedtime like a champ, especially compared to how it went last night. Really the only thing that didn’t go right for me today was this spider (who is no longer with us thanks to my mad shoe throwing skills 👞). Since Alex won’t be home until midnight, I decided to go to bed early rather than do the million other things that need done. 🙅
It’s been fun to look back at my week of pictures and reflect on the good and not-so-good moments. I see a lot about myself and my perfectly imperfect life that I hadn’t noticed before. One in particular, is how tired I look. And how I have the ability to take a chaotic moment and make it perfect. I’ve adjusted to my new life as a mom in many ways. I don’t sweat the small stuff that I used to. Oh, except laundry. There will always be more laundry and I will always hate it.
I hate Thursdays and today is no exception. I’m trying to rise above the negativity today. After learning last night that Alex will be flying nights for the rest of the year (yep 👎😟) I realize that I really need to get things done during the week so we can enjoy our precious time on the weekends together. I despise laundry so I pack it all into one dreaded day of hauling it up and downstairs, loading, hanging, folding, and putting away so I don’t have to think about it again for 6 more days. This is a typical weeks worth of laundry for our little fam of three. Owen is still a stage one clinger today after another difficult night so I am thankful for the Boba! Without it I would never get anything done on days like this. And even though I’ve given up coffee, I may have to employ some caffeinated assistance to get through this day. ☕ Because it’s too early for wine. 🍷Or is it? 😉 This is my perfectly imperfect life.
All week, I found myself searching for the most imperfect moment about my day. I carried my phone in my pocket ready to photograph the imperfect moment when it presented itself so I could share it with the world and prove to everyone that I’m not perfect, just normal. This whole concept is really just a bit silly and I got a little caught up in it.
What a fun day! 🎃👻 Owen celebrated his first Halloween under cover as a shark at our squadron kids’ Halloween party and got to spend a lot of time with his Daddy! The only thing that went wrong was the pumpkin cake for the party that I scrambled to make this morning was put in the oven without a timer. Um, oops. 😐 Fortunately the commissary bakery sells cute Halloween cupcakes.
We can’t take a picture the imperfect moments in life like we can with the seemingly perfect ones. The imperfection is all around us, sometimes they drive us mad, sometimes we don’t notice them. What I was really doing was just finding something to complain, vent, or whine about. Who can blame me, we all have our ups and downs, right? We’re human.
My day was devoted 100% to Owen. Believe it or not, these were taken within minutes of each other. I was singing to him (hence the big smile in the top picture-he LOVES music) and the song ended. He got upset when I stopped singing to take a picture. That’s been his mood all day. Up and down. 🎢 He was up 3 or 4 times last night so we are both a bit tired and cranky. I almost didn’t even post today because I have no other pictures and nothing really happened other than me doing everything in my ability to keep him happy. On the bright side, he did take his first steps today! He amazes me. He’s so much fun but I’m exhausted from him being my velcro baby today. I busted into the Halloween candy and called it my well-deserved dinner. And now, goodnight.
I don’t want to show you the real stuff, the guts of my imperfect life. The breakout on my face or the frizzy split ends of my sometimes greasy unwashed hair, an ingrown toenail and my 4 week old pedicure, the dog puke, the regurgitated zucchini and turkey Owen left all over his highchair after choking on probably a piece of scrambled egg he found from yesterday…that stuff is gross but it is reality. There were difficult moments, too. A great-uncle passed away last week and I can’t be there with my family, I compared myself to other moms, I asked God for patience more than I thanked him for what I have, and I melted down when I couldn’t handle the whining teething 11 month old anymore. There is a lot of ugly, gross, sad, emotional moments that make our lives imperfect. It’s normal but we don’t want to air them out for everyone to see. Today, though, I want to talk about one of the biggest (and not disgusting) struggles in my perfectly imperfect life as a parent. Sleep. Or rather, the lack of it. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably been asked,
Is he sleeping through the night?
and responded, regardless of the truth,
Yeah, of course he is!
Why do I, like so many other moms, feel like I have to lie about this? For so long I’ve been insecure and even in denial about this. I didn’t want to be the run down, puffy eyed mom at play dates. I have to hide that bad stuff. I shove it under the surface. Appear cool, calm, and collected like a duck on water but paddle like hell to stay afloat. Let the world see the things that make him a good baby. The things that make being his parent easy. Hey guys? Parenting? It isn’t easy.
So my kid doesn’t sleep well. He has never been able to put himself to sleep on his own unless in the car and sometimes I have to hold him or nurse him or go for a drive just to get him to nap. So what? I’m not doing anything wrong. It doesn’t make me a bad parent. I’m not creating bad habits. I’m just doing what works. No one gets excited about how their baby woke up every 2-3 hours every night for the past week and posts a selfie because “they’ve never felt better!!” Nope. No, no, that’s not something to brag about.
Well, now I’m going to brag about it. I’m not complaining, I’m not justifying, or making up for inadequate parenting skills. I’m bragging that it is okay to be a tired mom. It’s okay to admit it. It’s okay to not always have it all together. Some days you do have to paddle like hell. Maybe there is another mama with a bad sleeper on their hands who can relate. If I can give just one person a peace of mind that they’re not alone, this post has served its purpose.
This is the last day of my week long challenge and it’s not off to a good start. Owen had a very tough night and is sleep deprived. Me? I’m just chronically tired. 😲 I gave in and allowed myself a cup of coffee to get my booty going this morning because I’m going to make it a great day anyway. I can do this. 💪 Fortunately, my body does know how to function on 4 hours of broken sleep. But if you see me today and I say the first thing that comes to mind, even if it is about purple glitter ice cream, don’t be alarmed. 😑 My life is perfectly imperfect and I wouldn’t want it any other way. 💕💕
Did you know that the American society considers it a “problem” when your baby doesn’t sleep through the night? A problem. Owen used to be a great sleeper. He slept 7-12 hours straight from his third night of life until he was 4 months old. Then it all came to a screeching halt. Because of the 4 month sleep regression, teething, separation anxiety, who knows? I’ve never been able to figure it out. He now wakes every 2-5 hours. I am chronically tired. I see it in pictures of myself. My eyes have permanent bags under them and I have these funny wrinkles in the corners. I understand why they call them crow’s feet.
Is it a problem, though? The social pressure is everywhere. I’ve seen the parenting books on baby sleep, other people talk about their babies who slept/sleep through the night, the methods to “fix” the “problem,” and the other moms who look put together, well rested, and can actually carry on an intelligent conversation without spacing off. It is really frustrating and sometimes I just want to throw my shoe.
Fact: Last night I got 4 hours of sleep, broken up into three chunks. I feel like crap, like my body just might be shutting down.
Another fact: This is how I feel almost every day but I’m okay.
Despite being so tired and definitely subject to debate, I personally don’t think it’s a problem. There are so very many reasons why babies aren’t “supposed” to sleep through the night. Some do, I’ve even heard of some that have to be woken up in the morning or they’ll just keep sleeping – every baby is different. But it is totally okay if they don’t.
I’ve done my research. I Google search “baby sleep” daily. Based on the research, we chose not to sleep train Owen. We believe in comforting him at night and are not worried that it is creating a bad habit. A sense of security is not a bad habit. My goal is to maximize sleep for everyone in this house while respecting Owen’s needs. I don’t take a specific approach to nighttime parenting, I follow his cues and my instincts. Ferber method, No Cry Sleep, Baby Whisperer…I’m not bashing them, those methods might work for some people and that’s great, but it’s not right for us. What matters is that you find out what works for you and your baby. Okay, so I’m a bit tired. I’m a lot tired but I’m confident in my parenting choices, Owen is thriving, happy, and healthy, and yet I still can’t shake the social pressure some days.
I try to avoid the Huffington Post links that swarm my newsfeed but a friend posted this article the other day and more to the point was a comment someone made on her post, “I’ve thought for years that it is ridiculously unfair that grow men get to have the comfort of their wife beside them, while their helpless children are ridiculed for not being brave enough to sleep alone.” Truth.
Especially on days like this one, when Owen and I are both tired, cranky, and have just had it with every situation, the pressure of his sleep ” problem” feel so heavy on my shoulders. I start to feel uncertain about myself as a mother and wonder what I’m doing wrong. Guilt weighs in and my insecurity prevents me from trusting my instincts <– which is my foundation as a parent.
I had this aha! moment. It happened about a week ago. I spoke to another mom who does things like I do – who also felt that you do not need to let the babe cry it out, who believes that nighttime feedings are still necessary past infancy. I felt better, the guilt was gone and I could continue doing what I was doing confidently and be happy about it.
I hold onto that conversation. I shove all the pressure aside and realize that I know enough and am strong and confident enough to ignore all the noise. My instincts are almost always right, the hardest part is learning to trust them. My mother always reminds me that “this too shall pass” and it will. Someday I will struggle to connect with Owen and I will miss the nighttime cuddles. So for now I’m going to snuggle and soak up every perfectly imperfect moment.
As silly and overly dramatic as this may seem, I’ve been really struggling with this portion of motherhood. I told my sister about it and she encouraged me to publish this post (it sat in my drafts for a few days). “Nope. Publish it. Parenting is rough. Cale [her son] had his days and nights messed up for months. It was brutal. Looking back it was good cuddles but it was so rough. Never so exhausted in my life.” I know I’m not alone.
Brew the coffee strong and don’t forget to embrace life before it passes you by. And I’ve been told that it does all too quickly. It’s an amazing perfectly imperfect thing, life is, and we should never take it for granted.