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Monday Musings: Checking In + Link Round-Up

**I wrote the bulk of this post a while back, but haven't shared it until now out of fear and worry. Fear of backlash and criticism, worry that I'll come across like a spoiled child. I finally decided that those emotions are the exact reason I should post this -- these are real feelings that accompany my experience as a mother, feelings that some of you may recognize and connect with. Since one of my core objectives of this blog is to speak my truth in case it may help somebody, somewhere, in some way, here's a glimpse into my heart and my mind as of late...**

So, today I fell in a giant tub of dog food.

{...letting that sink in for a minute...}

You know you've succumbed to parenthood when falling into a bin of kibble rates about a 4 on the shitty day scale. At least it rolls right off, unlike the other substances I find myself dabbing, soaking, and Shout-ing on a daily basis.

It's been awhile since I came on here and just talked. Honestly, I kept quiet for a reason. The past couple of months laid me low. I've gone on and on about how sad I was to lose our nanny, but I didn't realize the domino effect it would have on my life until much later. I'll skip the sob story but let's just say it became abundantly clear I was trying to do waaaay too much with little to no help. And I just about dropped my basket.

Luckily, I possess enough self-awareness to know when I start feeling maxed out by the minimal, I need to talk it out. My parents, my husband, my life coach, they all listened and offered helpful suggestions. Unfortunately, the common thread seemed to be that I needed to put my personal "stuff" -- this blog, re-launching my styling business -- on the back burner until things calmed down.

That only served to, for lack of a prettier phrase, piss me off. What have I done for the past 18 months but put myself last? In the pecking order of priorities, mamas so often come last and I just reached a point where I had to say enough. I need my own things, my own passions, my own time to feel like a person with a name and an identity other than 'mom', 'wife', 'caretaker', 'entertainer,' 'dog walker', 'food fixer', 'stroller pusher', and 'laundry doer.' It's not that I don't take enormous pride in those titles (clearly some more than others). I just don't want to feel like my whole life has been whittled down to what I'm doing rather than who I am as an individual.

A recent BKS article stated it perfectly: "Internally we start to believe that if we’re not problem solving and doing all of the things, then we may not be helping or being productive or playing our role and if we’re not, then are we worthy of being loved?"

What makes it even harder, beyond just feeling these feels, is worrying that people will think I'm selfish or ungrateful for feeling them. Maternal self-care is SO important, SO necessary, and yet sometimes you have to fight tooth and nail to get any. In order to tap out, you require someone else to tap in. You need help but sometimes that help is hard to find, or fleeting. Sometimes, you just get so tired of asking for it IF you allow yourself to ask at all.

For me, "help" really boils down to three options: my husband (who works long hours); my parents and grandmother (always ready to help but can't always accommodate); or, a nanny. Day care doesn't enter my personal equation because A) I don't need full-time care and part time is hard to find, B) it's more expensive, and C) the wait time to get in is about a year or more. I need to get on the list now for when Harlow's older, but for now, my options are what they are: clear-cut, yet complicated.

In talking to fellow mom friends, there seems to be a common, unspoken assumption in our surrounding circles that nannies are just an expensive excuse for moms to sit on their asses, thumb through magazines, and eat bon bons. What the hell is that about?! I can assure you my "my" time isn't all about me. Maybe today it's about accomplishing three tasks without threat of interruption. Then the next time it's for phone calls to clients, or to colleagues, or to doctors' offices or insurance companies (lucky me). And maybe, once in whatever's rarer than a blue moon, it's for sweet, blessed alone time. When I unshackle myself from my to-do lists, the clock, and my incessant mom guilt, and actually embrace sweet banality. Reading a book 'til I fall asleep. Listening to a song at full volume with the car windows rolled down. Taking a hot bath. Motherhood transforms the mundane into the remarkable. To quote that article again, "even Superwoman needs a night off."

Yes, she does. Still, ninety-nine percent of the time, I use the nanny time to work on my businesses. Since I started working as a stylist over three years ago, I've always worked out of my home if I'm not on-set, editing closets, or shopping for a client. Before baby, focusing on work instead of household chores could be tough; now, it's all but impossible. Without a nanny, there's no way for me to do my business any justice trying to sneak in five minutes here and there. And I want to be successful. Because I love what I do. Because, dammit, I'm good at what I do. And because I experience immense guilt over not earning more money for the wellbeing of my family.

Multiple times a day I think to myself, "if I just called it quits and went to a desk job, I could count on that paycheck and get the bigger car, nicer furniture, pay for family photos and cute things to wear in them." Heck, I could pay for child care without a care in the world -- it's my dollar! Would that be better? What's more important: the reliable extra income now, or reaping the benefits of the business I built with my own two hands down the road? What's best for Harlow in the short and long term? I tell myself she'll be proud of me, that I took a chance and made something of myself. What about between this moment and that one -- am I sacrificing a higher quality of life for a pipe dream?

{Pause. Breath. Bring it home.}

The good news is, I found a nanny! The good news is, I get to set aside a few hours a week again to work on my things. Things scribbled on notepads and "things" tumbling around inside the ol' noggin'. Rest and rejuvenate when necessary, then get to work on Brooke things. I have so many exciting ideas for this blog and for my styling business, I'm ready to put pen to paper, foot to pavement, and DO something about them! Any progress may start as a slow trickle, but the water's running, by Jove. I may not be able to answer those heavy "what's best" questions with any modicum of certainty right now, but if I'm ever going to figure out, the way forward begins with the decision to take the next step. Getting some "me" time back will let me put on my walking shoes, step to it, and go do it!

SO. After all that, are you still up for some link clickin'??

> Weeknight Eats: Fifteen meal ideas that are Crock Pot-able, freezable, and/or ready in under 20 minutes. I'm starting with the Salsa Verde Chicken Enchilada Casserole.

> Weekend Treats: Over 30 game day recipes for footballin' with friends. Because in your 30s a bag of Tostitos and the matching salsa just won't cut it anymore.

> JT's 20/20 concert may have been the best I've ever seen, and now I can relive it in my living room where no one will see my frog-in-a-blender dance moves.

> Obsessed with this new removable wallpaper line from my friend Julianne Taylor!

> Giving beanies a go again, and loving this slouchy, super soft number from Barefoot Dreams.

> Guess I'm all about some cozy accessories right now -- loving this tasseled knit scarf!


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