Marriage,  Motherhood

31st Birthday Lessons

Another year, another list of lessons learned. Turning 30 last year was a huge milestone, but what made it even more significant was becoming a mother of two… a week later. What a difference a year makes!! As I embark on my 31st year of life today (or is it technically my 32nd since I’ve already lived 31 years?), I was reflecting on what I have learned over this past year. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. I’m more than just a mother. Motherhood takes up the majority of my everyday life, but it alone does not define me. I’m a wife, a daughter, an OT, a friend, a colleague, an educator, a blogger, and few others. However, using word “just” diminishes the importance and difficulty of what it is to be a mother. (There’s a great article about the word just.) I actually heard some woman describe themselves as “just a stay at home mom”. No honey, you are not JUST. You are a damn good mother who is doing the hardest job most people will never know. Own your role, your purpose, and don’t use just to describe who you are.
  2. When bringing kids, it’s unlikely to ever be on time, but not impossible. I’ve never been a punctual person, time management has been one of my biggest flaws. After having our first kid it got worse, and after the second, I’d be shocked if we even made it out of the house. However, I’ve stepped up my prep game and my organization skills are on level 100 now. It takes at least an hour every night to get ready for the next day, but in the AM, I’ve got the baby on my hip, a toddler running to the car without shoes and we are OUT!
  3. Save apologies for when they really matter. I heard on a podcast that as a society we’re overly apologetic, especially as women. Starting off statements with “I’m sorry, but…” immediately discredits whatever point you’re trying to make. Don’t say sorry, say what you mean, and mean it. (However, if an apology is in order, be the first to give it…like if you step on someone’s foot in the elevator.)
  4. Make time for just you two. Our marriage has evolved a LOT in the short 4+ years since we said “I Do”. We’ve really fallen into our roles as “mom and dad”, but often forget about “Mr. and Mrs.” It’s done great things for our relationship to have kid-free time-outs and just enjoy ourselves as a couple…almost like the good ol’ days.
  5. I can function on less sleep than I could ever imagine. This might not be a good thing. The sleep deprivation is probably going to take years off of my life, but it’s the risk I decided to take when having kids. Some nights are better than others, and I’m mostly to blame. I stay up way later than I should, but I’m such a night owl and my most of my bursts of creativity and productivity comes after 9PM. Coffee is my best friend.
  6. Be selective about with whom you share your ideas. Not everyone understands or cares about your vision and dreams the way you do. Share them with those will not only celebrate your wins, but also who will be honest with you when you need constructive criticism or to be refocused.
  7. The entire house won’t always be clean ALL of the time. As a mom, time is always limited and the list of to-dos is always long. I’ve learned to spend energy and time cleaning the things that will make me feel sane at the end of the day and leave the rest for tomorrow…or the next day.
  8. Regular Self-care days are essential.  Getting a mani/pedi on the reg is not just a pampering thing, but a self-care/hygiene thing. I barely have any time to shower, let alone trim and polish my nails. It’s also important to steal away for a quiet hour and feel taken care of by someone else once in awhile, since as moms that’s what we do for our families 24/7. Dry shampoo and greasy mom-buns can only go so far.
  9. Don’t quit your daydream. I like this phrase because it’s a twist on the original “day job” statement. I have lots of daydreams, which have turned into hobbies, which have turned into life-changing moves. You shouldn’t daydream too much on the clock, though, cuz then you really might lose that day job 😉
  10. I’m mastering the art of “nap-hustler”. When Carter is asleep, my productivity shoots up. It’s like supermarket sweep, except more like how many loads of laundry, dishes, emails, blog posts, and tasks can you cross off before the tiny beast wakes up. It has almost become a game at this point.
  11. I’ve developed that Mama-ninja-reflex. It took me having one toddler and a walking9-month old to realize I really can be in two places at once. I know exactly what Chase is doing in the other room by the sound of toys clashing, or the terrifying silence (we all know that means mischief is brewing). I haven’t quite sprouted the Mom-eyes in the back of my head, but it’s coming I’m sure.
  12. If you aren’t happy with something, change it. Another cliche statement we’ve all heard. But I’ve caught myself thinking, “I really wish I could ___” and then try to come up with an action plan to make it happen.
  13. Cherish the friendships you have as you get older. Everyone comes into your life for a reason, season or lifetime. Some friendships fade out over time, and I don’t regret those because they served their purpose and resulted in great memories. The ones that last through multiple life transitions and stages, through the good, the bad and the ugly, through the laughter and the tears…those are keepers. Those are the ones who become your family.
  14. Your mama tribe is everything. I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with so many amazing mamas in our DC circle.  They understand you on a different level through the ups and downs of motherhood (godmommy included). It takes a village and every mom needs a strong one.

  15. Outsource and delegate. It’s hard to relinquish control and admit defeat. But I’ve learned that when you do, it becomes a burden lifted off of you. I’ve enlisted help for routine housekeeping and a “mother’s helper” a few days a week, and they have been a Godsend! Sometimes you need extra hands to get it all done and focus on what is important, which is family.
  16.  Family support is invaluable. Both sides of our families live at least a few hours away, but when they come to visit, they are worth more than their weight in gold. It’s a win-win because they lend an extra hand but also get to spend time with their little grandsons/nephews. Our two best friends and the boys’ godparents, Kayla and Darnell, live nearby and are our MVPs (Most Valuable Pseudoparents).
  17. The future is feminine. The past year has really brought to light the multitude of struggles that women still face today just to be heard and respected. Ladies, we need to foster a collaborative community among ourselves, not a competitive one. If it has to do with women’s rights, I’m here for it. Change is coming.
  18. Trust God. This seems very vague, but over the past 365 days I’ve encountered times where I’ve questioned why something did or did not happen, whether I was making the right decision, or anxious that something wouldn’t turn out the way I had hoped. In the end, there is little to no control over the future. Accepting this has resulted in less stress, less worry, and less fear of the unknown. I am a work in progress. I’m proud of who I’ve become and excited to see what He has planned for me. 31, let’s get it.

Thanks for all those who have extended birthday wishes to me in all forms! I love you all so much!!