On the topic of babies. You know that feeling when you first fall in love and you feel addicted to another person and in some ways it is almost too much, overstimulating and all consuming? When you see your baby for the first time or maybe the 10th time or maybe even before you actually see them, something in you changes, you fall in love with something that changes who you are at your core and that addiction, that overwhelming sense of perfection and belonging and beauty, it lasts forever. Even in the shit times when life feels overwhelming and exhausting and impossible. It is still there.
My brother recently asked me about having children, about how it is and what it is like. Staring at parenthood from the outside is like watching a free fall without a stopping point. As parents we know the chaos is there, we know it is all consuming, we know it effects those around us who we love and wish we could deliver a calm environment even when we can’t and we accept the reality that is before us, the reality of raising tiny humans. I look at my girls and I want them to have everything and in the same moment I am saddened by those things I never had and the two emotions bind this intense sensation in my stomach that makes me stronger, makes me get up every day and do it over and over again. I made a choice, I made a promise and I made a vow to myself, my partner, my children and the world that I will dedicate all of who I am (as much as I can give without losing myself) and I will make these tiny humans into incredible human beings.
One of my daughters teachers recently had a baby girl and she is terrified. It was unplanned, it was scary and it was not in her plan. I was thinking about her and what a life change that is when you are not expecting it and then I realized that even when you are, expecting it that is, it catches you off guard, throws curveballs and delivers you moments you never though possible. The reality of parenting is no different than anything else you tackle for the first time. Of course it is terrifying, you have no training, you have no way of knowing how it will turn out and you have never done it or attempted it before. The thing is that each of us has it in us, we just have to know where to look to find it and sometimes when we look at ourselves and turn over those leaves of strength we also find fear and anger, past experiences that challenge or hurt us and even disappointment in ourselves. So remember, life is not about what we have done perfectly. Life is about what we have fumbled on, what we have messed up and how we have risen to the occasion despite that.
I think COVID broke my mom setting
As parents we have many roles that we play each day. The simple concept of what we need to accomplish in a 24 hour period is almost laughable. I will not resonate with everyone on this topic simple because what we each do day-in and day-out is so different that there is no actual comparison. I will hope that the concept of what I am saying helps you to feel …normal? I really am asking you as my readers for advice here because sometimes even those of us who are so tuned in and so focused end up on the floor balling their eyes out in their in-laws house because their children are so loud, how are they this loud! So how do you do it? How do you wake up in the morning and look at those sleepy eyes only to fall in love all over again and yet know that come 7:30pm tonight your house will be a war zone. There will be shrapnel in the form of toys and pee soaked panties, sweatshirts used as napkins and unfleshed toilets, piles of sand on the floor, food on the counters and unforeseen water spills in the middle of the floor. That reminds me, there is spilled milk on the rug….I should probably tend to that. SO I am really asking you, my readers, to share their stories, their parenting woes, and wins and battles to the bedtime. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOW PARENTS CAN MAKE MONEY AND GET FIT WALKING DOGS
(Thank you to my guest writer, LACIE MARTIN)
If you’re a parent, you probably weren’t expecting that having children would slim your wallet and send you up a few pant sizes. As Lifehacker contributor Melanie Pinola observes, even dads struggle with gaining weight after having kids. And while you may have known that having children is expensive, recent estimates show parents spend an average $233,610 on child costs from birth until the age of 17. Many parents are unprepared for the costs of things like diapers and daycare.
Lately, the term “side hustle” has grown in popularity as people young and old alike utilize the gig economy to connect them with freelance work. Side gigs allow people to build a sizable nest egg on top of what they make from their 9-to-5 job. Parents can benefit from these jobs as they come with flexible hours that can be accommodating for the busy schedule associated with raising children. One side gig, in particular, can have the double bonus of helping new parents get back in shape while making extra money: dog walking. Family Factor presents some things you should know before accepting a dog-walking gig.
The Benefits of a Dog Walking Side Gig
Starting a Dog Walking Business
In order to start your own dog walking business, you’ll need money to establish a web presence, market costs, and insurance. You’ll also need to register your business with the state, though you can use formation services to guide you through the process. Also, keep in mind that if you intend to operate your business using a name that’s different from the one you registered, you’ll need a DBA name, which will require you to file more paperwork. Again, you can use online services to assist you.
As a business owner, you’ll also need to network. There are currently several apps with the sole purpose of connecting dog owners to walkers and caretakers. These apps are convenient for people just getting started because they do their own advertising and have already established a built-in clientele. Unfortunately, these companies also take a generous slice of your earnings.
If you have the connections and motivation, it is totally possible to start your own dog walking business without the help of an app. With your own company, you are responsible for your own marketing. The good thing is you don’t have to reach out to people nationally -- just to dog owners in your immediate area. Instagram is a great platform you can use to reach nearby dog lovers; people love scrolling through photos of cute, snuggly pups. However, it’s important to choose the right hashtags so your exposure is effective.
New parents can make extra cash while getting in some exercise by picking up an active side gig like dog walking. Not only can you make money while burning calories, but you also get the emotional and psychological benefits of being around dogs and spending time outdoors. When starting your dog walking business, you can either use a third-party app to connect with clients or do the work yourself. While apps make things easier, they also charge fees for every dog you walk. Meanwhile, starting your own business is a lot more work, but you have more control and it is more profitable in
Love the one you are with
When you love someone completely, you realize that love is not measured by happiness alone. If it were….we would all be screwed. Love is an investment, it is time and compromise and fear and beauty and frustration, all rolled up into a confusing word that doesn’t begin to explain it. My daughter loves to play a little verbal game of “I love you the most” with me and it makes me giggle every time. As a child, the love you have for your parents is unwavering, regardless of treatment, a child looks to their parent for the early years with no judgment, an open heart and completely bias adoration. I know what most of you are thinking, and yes, they act like they don’t hear a word you say and treat you like hired help, ignore 90% of the words coming out of your mouth and make your life as hard as humanly possible sometimes but I am telling you, they love you unconditionally. ‘
As a parent we get a blank check for love and it isn’t fair, we really do nothing to deserve it other than forfeit everything we are. Really though, we are handed this adoration, this love and this pedestal and this fact alone is what makes me work so hard to earn what I was given for free. My daughter looks at me with her half toothed smile (the tooth fairy has been very busy!) and her big blue eyes and says “I love you more mommy” and all I can do is smile. I smile and I hold her and I kiss her golden curls and I close my eyes to breath in this moment. Love is one of the most malleable words in the English dictionary, it has no real meaning and yet it means everything. What love is to a child can change from day to day, and what love is can be taught, taken away, stolen, given or even manufactured. Yet when I remember being a child, the feeling of loving my parents is so pure, nothing preventing me from falling in completely to the memory of being a child, adoring my parents and just needing them to love me as much as I loved them. In my tiny egotistical mind I can imagine thinking “I create art for them and make my bed, why can they not love me as much as I love them?” And now as a parent I look at my beautiful girls and cannot even begin to explain how I never knew love until I saw their faces. So my darlings, I know you love me more and yet you will never know, until you know, that I love you most.
Love in a way that is internal and external all at once, has no limits and has no end. I do not know what life looks like with a teenage girl and I do not know what life looks like as a parent of a parent and yet I know I will love these little girls the most, forever and ever, to the moon and back, without fail, without question and without pause. There is so much advise to give and so many pieces of the parenting puzzle to discover so for today, just love them, even when you want to scream, remember the beauty and remember the pedestal and love because you can and because they do, without question.
I recently accompanied a small group of friends and family into an escape room, it was quite an event. The escape room was a blast, we made it out with moments to spare and I felt comforted in the laughter of friends and family around me. I began reflecting on my role as a mom, as I always do, and I realized that being in an escape room is not much different than being a parent. Just go with me here, I think you might get a few laughs from it if nothing else.
Here I was, locked in a room with my parents and my husband, along with a few friends and we were lead into that room by people who acted like it was just another ordinary day for them (just like those nurses and doctors who act like what you are about to go through aka delivering a baby is just another day at the office for them). We are strapped to the wall…literally…ladies, if you have delivered in a hospital maybe you know what I am getting at here and we were told that everything we needed was within arms reach. Okay so here we are, eight adults and we are given a challenge which none of us have gone through before and we know it will be okay, and we also know that we have one another to lean on and that we will work together. Just like in parenting, there are clues all around you, there are clues literally staring you in the face and some of them you are like “yeah, that is a clue, and was really easy and I get it” and some clues you just don’t understand how anyone could ever think that item or phrase or code or process makes sense at all!
In the end we came out victorious, and we did have to ask for help a few times and I know that drove my husband crazy, asking for help, admitting you can’t do it on your own, god that is frustrating and defeating and sounds just like …..parenting. Now, the people running this escape room told us this was the hardest challenge of their facility and told us that most people ask for help. We knew the odds were stacked against us and we knew that the goal, which was getting out of the room, was going to be easier if we just asked for help to guide us. Not that we did not want to be challenged or work to do it on our own but we understood that we could either suffer and ask for nothing or flourish and ask for hints. The sheer comparability of this experience with parenting was incredible to me.
We are told that parenting will be hard and challenging and we all know going in that there are people around us, watching us, who want to help and who are there for the sole purpose of helping and yet, especially us mothers, we seem to push through and choose the road that causes so much stress and anxiety because the feeling of failure in asking for help is crippling. Now if I were in a more philosophical mood I would talk about the cultural impact of this result and how our society puts pressures on us that result in this kind of outcome but alas, I am not in a philosophical mood so I will leave it at that.
What I will say though and perhaps it is obvious by now or maybe it will catch you off guard as it did me when I first thought of it. Let’s pretend that there is no-one to let you out of that escape room, there is no magic “they” listening or watching who can let you escape at any point. When we are parenting we know that the result is these children will become adults and we know that they will all eat their meals and tie their shoes, brush their teeth and comb their hair. If nothing else, the social pressure will catch up to them and they will do it out of an obligation they feel from their peers. So logically we all know that the efforts we put in of repeating ourselves, sculpting their routine and pressuring their rhythm will all eventually smooth out when they hit puberty…or their 30’s, but that is not why we do it. We don’t do it because we fear it won’t happen, we do it because those small moments are building blocks. We are shaping tiny humans into adults and it is not about being able to tie their shoes and have minty fresh breath, it is not about having clean underwear and being able to see their bedroom floor though all the clutter. It is knowing that we are sending them into their lives, their own escape rooms and if we do not teach them how to navigate, look for tools and understand when and where to ask for help, we are placing them in a room without the tools to get out.
For some that room might be our minds, and the need to understand how to escape from our own throughs might be lifesaving. For others that room might be a relationship, intimate or otherwise that needs tools to navigate. For some it might be a living situation, an academic setting or a real threat. Whatever it is, we right now as parents are in our own parenting escape rooms and it is true, everything we need is within reach and we will walk through the door at the end and watch our children grow up and who they are will be in part dedicated to the clues we found, the tools we used and the processes we went through. So ask for help, share your laughter, your frustration and your experiences with all those around you because you as a parent are both the teacher and the student and the more you share, the more others know and the more we know collectively, the better prepared we are for whatever comes next.
Music, a thing that brings joy to all of us, young or old, no matter what emotion, there is a song or a melody that carries each one of us. Perhaps some of us sing along to Broadway musicals while others of us need the soothing tunes of heavy metal but whatever your tune, when you hear it, there is a comfort in its familiarity and in the space it takes up in each of us. As a mother, I often feel like the orchestrator of a large musical ensemble and while the sound I produce is enriching and beautiful it can also feel overwhelming.
Everything in life has a rhythm and a speed to it and sometimes parenting can feel like being a conductor. Some times being a mother can feel like holding up the entire show with the knowledge that if you stop or sit down or take a break to pee or even sneeze, the entire orchestra might fall apart and your beautiful life song might either come to a screeching halt or become a chaotic parody of the song you have been trying so hard to write. Now I know I get off topic quite often and I know metaphors can be a bit …long but I sometimes find these little comparisons help me to remember that life is just a song, it has high notes and low notes and sometimes there are awkward long pauses but the truth is that even when the chaos begins, we know it will end and we know our sweet song will eventually find its way back to us.
I have come to appreciate the silence in my own musical ensemble, which is something I never appreciated before. Silence used to be a void that needed to be filled and now the silence, the break in the music, is just as beautiful as the music itself and can sometimes feel just as rich and textured. Motherhood and parenting is so textured with layers upon layers of emotion, feelings, improv and troubleshooting. In some ways it feels like from the moment you become a mother the world begins throwing curveballs at you from 360 degrees and 24 hours a day. Perhaps not in a steady stream but there is no longer a time or a place where chaos cannot consume you at any moment.
Remember the days when laying poolside to work on your perfect tan was the days only work so that the outfit you have perfectly laid out in your room will look as good as it can on your sun kissed skin and the new heels (HA!) will allow you to dance the night away? Well now a days I am happy if one shoulder gets tan while I sit and wait for my girls to finish their swim lessons and my heels are like old friends which I say hello to when I uncover them from the back of the closet. These times from the past are usually uncovered in my mind when the right song comes on and I can close my eyes and for a moment be there again, with the sun and the pool and my 20 something soundtrack and within a split second I have tiny arms wrapped around my leg and the sweetest song starts playing in my ears “mommy, mommy, happy home, mommy”. To know I am exactly where I want to be, even when the chaos is overwhelming, is the greatest gift of all.
In high school I was asked what song best described my life and I responded “It’s my party and I will cry if I wan’t to” which seems so ultimately naive now that I look back on it. So I want to ask all of you today and now, what song best describes your life? Feel free to respond to me with answers or just keep them for yourself, but whatever it is, play it loud on repeat, put those heals on and start dancing.
Shine A Little (Sun)Light On Your Family’s Health
I am a mother, not a wizard. I share what is hard, what is scary and what is real. The rest I leave to you.