Fill Up. Empty Out.

BY KATE KOLE

I became a fitness instructor and yoga teacher before I became a mom.

The trend towards self-care and inspirational Pinterest boards took off during my training tenure and I enthusiastically turned into a spokesperson for the popular social media proverb, “You can’t pour from an empty cup”.

I cringe a bit each time I recall the way I would readily offer that insight. After class, someone would share with me that it felt so nice to practice. That she knew she needed to do it more often. But between work, and family, and life, it was just hard to find the motivation, and space, and energy. I would nod. Understanding that of course, we all face obstacles. But she needed to take care of herself too, I’d say. Because how could she meaningfully show up for her work, and her people, and her life if she wasn’t tending to herself first? I posed the question rhetorically. Food for thought when she had the time to digest it.

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What We Mean When We Say We Have “Mom Brain”

By De Elizabeth

I forget to do things all the time these days.

Sometimes they’re small things: I forgot to move the laundry to the dryer or I forgot to answer a text. Other times, they’re a little more significant: a work email that’s sitting in my draft folder, an invoice I need to send, the paperwork from my accountant for tax season. I’ll remember at inconvenient times: driving on the highway, brushing my teeth before bed, or while trying to fall asleep. Oops, I’ll think. I’ll do it tomorrow.

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Be Away From Me

By a 3OT Guest Writer

“Be away from me” my almost-three-year-old boy shouts at me, for likely the seventh time this week. To compliment his bold declaration, he throws one small arm out straight in front him and swings it from side to side, as if indicating the exact amount of space he needs in order for me to “be away”.

Though he is good with language for his age, he obviously lacks a command of the English language, which sometimes win us some great little phrases. When he doesn’t want to snuggle before bed at night, I am told to “be off his body”. Typically my husband and I giggle about these mistakes in wording. We try to document them because we know that one day he won’t make mistakes like these. Or he will…. But it won’t be funny so much as a reason for a concerning parent teacher conference.

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Chasing The Crape Myrtle Tree

By Jillian Stacia

On my phone, I keep a list of things that I love – things that make me feel like me. It starts with coffee and ends with deep breaths of forest air.

It may seem dumb, this list. Or maybe a little narcissistic. And it’s slightly sad to have to remind myself that I prefer sunflowers to roses, or that naps during sporting events are my favorite way to unwind on the weekends.

But I find myself looking at this list more and more, constantly adding, editing, tweaking.

I’ll catch myself staring down at the numbers, memorizing the content, reading them like a mantra: the sound of rain, library books, reading on the beach. Continue reading

22 Days Left In The Decade. This Is What I’ll Do.

By Kate Kole

We’ve officially crossed into the territory of the countdown to the end of the year. Only this time around, it feels like there’s added significance. Because we’re not just closing out one round of 365 days and moving into the next, we have a whole 10 years to reflect on and finish strong before setting new goals to achieve.

I simultaneously feel a surge of motivation and a dose of anxiousness each time I see an inspirational Instagram post reminding me of the number of days we have left in 2019. How will you make them count? It asks. I stare at the screen, momentarily frozen as I try to come up with an answer that seems monumental enough to match the transition from one decade to another.

My 18-month-old saves me from the spin cycle of my mind by beginning to climb on the furniture. I toss my phone on the coffee table and wrangle him from the couch cushions, from there moving to play our favorite game of ‘empty all the kitchen cupboards’.

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I Love Being a Mom, And

By De Elizabeth

There’s a special kind of nagging, annoying, feeling of guilt that is unique to motherhood. So much that there’s even a term for it; aptly, it’s called “Mom Guilt.”

For me, and so many others, it sneaks up a thousand times a day: if I take 30 seconds to answer an email instead of playing with my daughter, if I spend 25 minutes getting ready rather than 20, if I arrange a rare night out and leave her with anyone who isn’t me. Mom Guilt is always there to remind me I didn’t come up with a fun Pinterest’y craft that week, or that she’s eaten mac-n-cheese three times for dinner instead of whatever colorful nonsense I see on those toddler meal Instagrams. And Mom Guilt loves to have a party whenever I find myself missing my pre-mom life, or wanting to indulge parts of myself that isn’t wrapped up in the identity of being a mom.

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Instagram, Real Life, and The In-Between

By De Elizabeth

Earlier this week, a friend told me that my life seemed “amazing” through Instagram, and my first instinct was to laugh. Hard.

I read her message after I had just finished cleaning a stack of dishes that had piled in the sink. Prior to that, I had picked up no less than thirty toys strewn across my living room floor, knowing full well that the room would once again be a mess just a few minutes later. My hair was unwashed, thrown up in a messy half-bun, and my eye makeup was rubbed off from crying earlier over a reason I can no longer recall. Untouched on my desk was a to-do list I’d written earlier in the day when I was feeling more motivated, when I thought I might actually accomplish something productive that afternoon.

But sure, on Instagram, everything looks different.

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The Thing About My Yoga Mat

By Kate Kole

Relax your jaw. Soften your shoulders away from your ears. Take a deep breath in through your nose. Exhale out through your mouth. Set your intention. Fix your gaze. Be here now, I tell myself.

Noise escapes through the baby monitor and I look to see my toddler pull himself to a standing position in his crib. Turning off the device, I glance at the clock on our kitchen stove.

7 minutes”, I whisper. Good enough for today.

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For Now, The Brownie is Just a Brownie

By De Elizabeth

CW: Eating disorder and body image talk.

A few days ago, I enlisted the help of my 2-year-old while making a batch of brownies. (Actually, they were cookie-brownies: the kind from Annie’s that is essentially a brownie with a cookie on top — you’re welcome.) I helped her stir the mix, let her lick the spatula, and asked her to scoop the cookie dough with a little spoon. While it was baking, we turned the oven light on and she stood in front of the door, alternating between patient self-reminders of “they’re cooking!” and impatient exclamations of “wanna eat!” Once they were cooled, she tasted her very first cookie-brownie, somehow even more delicious I think, because she helped bake them.

There’s a lot I love about watching my daughter discover things about the world, but arguably one of the cutest is seeing her get excited about her favorite foods. A few weeks ago, I purchased a pack of muffins from the bakery, eliciting a squeal of “Ooooh a muffin!” She’ll announce everything on her plate at lunch — “PBJ! Cheese! Crackers!” — and she’s become inexplicably fascinated with one of my cookbooks, asking questions about everything she sees.

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The Truth About Postpartum Anxiety

By Becky Houdesheldt

While I sat rocking my daughter in her nursery last night, trying yet another position to get her to go back to sleep, I closed my eyes and rested my lips on her head. I tried to remind myself to relish the time with her while she’s small. She turns 5 months tomorrow, and I lost my first two months with her to postpartum anxiety.

My anxiety robbed me of enjoying my first weeks with her. I honestly thought I was on top of my symptoms. I wasn’t. I finally admitted I needed more help after I acknowledged I was experiencing intrusive thoughts, and it took me 5 weeks before I could get in to a postpartum specialist.

I couldn’t call my daughter by her name. I didn’t want to look at her. I couldn’t be alone with my thoughts because I’d lose myself in a whirlwind of fears and anxieties that I knew weren’t rooted in reality, but I couldn’t pull myself out of them. I felt out of control, out of touch, and at a loss. I returned to a new job after 6 weeks at home, and I was a mess.

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