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the power of coffee and dry shampoo

You decide to check the mailbox. On your way up the driveway, you drop the stack of envelopes, flyers and bills. The wind is blowing and picks up the mail carrying it a little further out of your reach. The envelopes go in every direction and you find yourself trying to decide which envelope to retrieve first. You literally feel yourself try to turn in two directions at once as if that is humanly possible. Your brain is trying to calculate how to efficiently catch all the stray papers while your body can’t keep up. You might curse under your breath, you might be embarrassed by your lack of ease under pressure and there is even a chance you might cry. Well my friends, that is what it feels like to transition from one child to two.

I have been asked several times to discuss how that transition went for us. For some reason, the topic never really sparked an interest in me. Maybe because the first weeks of Huxley’s life were a blur. Thanks to cluster feeding, an achy post C-section body and hormones. Then we left the blur stage and moved into the ” WTH did I do to myself” stage. Basically this was the stage where the reality of two children- two who depend on you heavily- became very real. I can remember how long it would take me to pack our bags and load up the car just to take Parker to school in the mornings. It was all so new, so foreign, and so exhausting.

The reality is I thought I was busy with one child until I had Huxley. Now, I think back to Parker and wonder what I did with all my free time. If I knew then what I know now, am I right?

One of my biggest improvements on the grand scale of being a mom: I’ve learned to plan ahead. I figure out what could possibly be needed in the next few hours and have every possible scenario prepared for. On a trip to school, I have extra bottles, pacis, snacks for PJ, suckers just in case bribery is needed( fyi it usually is), and deodorant for me ( because I never remember in the hustle of the mornings to do it before) I keep extra outfits in my car, and toys for distraction. I have diapers and wipes hidden all over my house. Hand sanitizer in every bag I own, and extra bandaids, chapstick and sunglasses. For some reason, those are real prizes for Parker. I’m a big fan of bribery and I’m not ashamed to admit it. No judgement here, whatever works to keep your toddler in line.

Truthfully when I was pregnant with Huxley, I would have anxiety envisioning taking both kids to the grocery store alone or even loading them into the car by myself. How on earth would I do it? How many trips would it take? And honestly, it still gives me anxiety some days. But I just get it done. I do the best I can with what I have. And as mothers that’s what we do, we just get it done. We figure it out. We adapt. We evolve. We grow.

Sometimes I look at myself and feel incredibly empowered knowing I accomplished a grocery store trip with both of my kids alone… even if both of my kids were crying and the elderly were staring. Some women feel empowered starting their own business …. and then there’s me! 😉

As hard as some moments are; the chorus of crying, the continuous juggle of attention, the guilt for not giving your first born all they are accustom to receiving. All of it is worth it, when you see them love each other.

Now don’t get it twisted, my son isn’t the super sweet big brother you see on Instagram that loved their baby sister immediately and wanted to protect her instantly. He liked her. He tolerated her. But He was/is super jealous of her. And now, he is very very rough with her. Not intentionally, he just wants to play with her like he does his friends at school.

But that’s real life I guess. He is still a baby himself in some ways and understanding the concept of sharing can be really tough. He doesn’t quite get that she is more dependent than he is. He doesn’t understand that she is still fragile and can’t eat whatever. He wishes her to live with grandmama on rare days, or mentions he wants to go somewhere with just mama or daddy. He still craves the limelight of his parents full attention. But he is accustomed to her being in his life, and he understands that she is his. He lists her in his prayers at night when he names his family. So, he gets she isn’t going anywhere.

Someone asked me the other day, when did you get having two figured out? And I giggled. I’m still figuring it out. This new normal for us isn’t for the faint of heart but I will say it does get easier. I’m not sure if it’s easier because you are more accustomed to the chaos, your ability for multitasking grows or children get on some element of a schedule. Either way, you find yourself wanting to hide under the bed less and less.

So what have I learned from being a mother of two?

I have noticed my parenting has changed. I don’t stress as much over small things. Parker dresses himself pretty much every day for school. He never matches, he wears the same shoes every single day and he loves it. Old Molly would never never been chill with that. Two kid Molly encourages it. It’s one less fight for me in the morning, and one small lesson of personal responsibility for Parker. It’s a win win. Too many things to stress over that aren’t worth the trouble.

Give your first born a break. It takes time to transition so let them act out, and space to explore their new role. Take the few minutes to give them extra love ( and hugs) to understand their new life. It’s hard on them and they need your patience to work through it.

Your husband will be better equipped to help this go around than after your first baby was born. Ask for his help. Give him responsibility. He will still need your grace as he navigates his new role as father to two kiddos. It’s new for him too and he has some evolving to do alongside you. But make sure he is your partner, not another task for you. Teamwork makes the dream work!

And lastly, give yourself time to adjust. The dishes can wait, the laundry will still be there, peanut butter sandwiches for dinner are always a good idea … but those newborn days are fleeting. As you know, but the second time- you blink and your infant is crawling. Time flies so much faster this time around. Trust me. SOAK IT IN!

You will mess up. You will curse under your breath. You will likely cry…. but you will make it. Your heart doubles in size with the second child. Your capacity for love is larger, deeper and more powerful.

So with all this love, don’t forget to give to yourself some too.Being a mom of two is damn hard. But I have never felt more messy, imperfect and proud in all my life. No matter how imperfect I am, or how many times we have Chilkfila for dinner, my children will always remember how I made them feel. And how much I love them. So, focus on that, and let the other things fall where they land.

Elizabeth Fowler Photography
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Is that a WRINKLE?

It is happening, I am turning 30 next month.

THIRTY.

Three decades.

And I’m really struggling to accept that I am officially an adult by ALL standards. I mean I have a mortgage, husband, kids, an SUV and a dog- and I’m just still shaking in my slippers at the thought of “adulthood”.

And age is hitting me hard: Like running into a brick wall. It hasn’t been subtle. Seriously, my knees are aching, my hair is still falling out, fine lines are showing up on my face AND and most devastatingly I don’t get carded anymore when I buy alcohol! Like, please, I still feel as if I would blend in on a college campus….. even if no one else agrees with me. Even if I would be that ” weird old lady” at the college bar. I feel like I belong.

With 30 hitting soon, I dedicated this year to taking care of myself and most importantly my skin. I’m lazy when it comes to my skin, the quickest routine- the better for me. I still find myself ( even though I know it’s like a skin sin) falling asleep with make up on and not drinking enough water. So I need something easy, fast and without a hundred steps before bed.

So, I’ve been open to trying new things for my skin. I was asked to give Rodan and Fields a go. I’ve tried R&F before and I wasn’t impressed. I think for me, it took too long and wasn’t maintainable for my lifestyle. But in the theme of this year, I decided I’d try it again.

So Monica sent me several items to try in the redefine line, and then a few extra things that she felt I might like. The redefine line is for the look of fine lines, pores and loss of firmness in the skin. I’m going to highlight the items below that I dug… and I thought might be worth a true try on the skin.

First up: Intensive Renewing Serum

Y’all these capsules are like silk on your face. I have actually tried this product before and liked it even then. It helps fight wrinkles with a powerful dose of vitamin A. I love this little blue pill ( get your mind out of the gutter) this serum is packed into blue capsules which actually makes it great for travel. It seems there is some skin types that should use this product however- so best to ask a consultant before ordering!

Next: Lip Renewing Serum

I’ve never thought about my lips being apart of skincare. I usually put on chapstick before bed but never really took care of my smackers. So this serum was a whole new concept for me. It was seriously like a facial for my lips. I LOVED it! It gives your lips a tingly sensation, and a refreshing feeling. Obsessed y’all. It does have a thick consistency which might turn some people off . But it’s a moisturizer and serum that should help with fine lines and help your lips maintain their natural moisture. I want this one!

Up Next: Active Hydration Serum

Just call me the queen of serums. I guess I like the luxury feeling of these serums on my face.. or it could be that my skin is usually dry ( at least now after babies) and serums are my jam! This serum is my new favorite y’all. It is a OIL FREE serum that you can wear all day that helps hydrate your skin. It feels like you have dived under water when you put this serum on your face. You can layer other products on top of it. The only down side is you need another moisturizer at night on top of this- and if you are like me- that’s another step to forget. However with how amazing this felt on my face, I doubt I forget it!

So there’s my TOP THREE Review of the Rodan & Fields products I was sent. These three products are my favorites and items I would use on myself. I’m such a lazy person with my skin, I need quick and easy but noticeable. I will say with all R&F products, you do need to start with a makeup free face. That’s something I didn’t know or do in the past- so this go around- I tried to do it the right way.

Maybe Purchase: Micro Derm Paste

This is a maybe for me. I liked the product- my skin felt renewed and refreshed after I used it. The texture wasn’t too harsh as some other micro-derm products are and it left my skin feeling tingly. I’m currently not looking for a new microdermabrasion product so it hasn’t won be over yet- but if you are… this could be a good fit for you. It doesn’t take a lot of product during each use so you could get more bang for your buck so to speak with this RF product.

Overall, good skin is going to take some effort. I’m not 18 anymore. It’s noticeable when I don’t drink enough water, or didn’t wash my makeup off. And at 30, it’s time that I give some effort. I’m not ready for 50 steps before bed- because that’s not happening- but I could totally see adding these into my regimen at night. Easy. Peazy.

You might find other products that work best for your skin- I’d love to hear what you are using these days. Whatever works for your skin, protects you from the sun and helps keeps those wrinkles away – that’s a winner in my book. Y’all know, I am not a dermatologist so I would suggest reaching out to a medical professional if you have questions regarding the health of your skin. My girl Monica is the R&F consultant available to answer any questions you might have about what products would be best for your skin. Hit her up on Instagram at @monicaplourdee – she’s super knowledgeable about which RF products would work best for you!

So, here’s to thirty, and wrinkle cream! It’s going to be a great year.

home office

I’ve been asked what my days look like. Well, I wake up in the morning, usually eat a healthy breakfast, drop the kids off at daycare and make my way to the gym for a good workout to start my day. You know, I thrive in the mornings. Total Morning Person… 

HA! Yeah right. Most mornings my son eats jellybeans for breakfast and we are doing good to get him in clean socks. I struggle to get my kids to school in a reasonable amount of time to get back in the office to start my day. Most mornings my work day doesn’t start until 9am, but let’s be real… I’m answering emails in bed at night. That’s because I work remotely, and when you work remotely you literally bring work home with you. Because ya know, I work from home.

I have worked in a traditional office. My last “office” job was before I had children and although I sincerely loved it, the job itself was stressful, fast paced and super SUPER long hours… like 14-16 hours days. Kid you not. Who would have thought being a regional sales manager would require you to live at the office? But I had the best coworkers in the world so it made it bearable. But with children, there is no way I would be able to work in the same fashion as I did then. 16 hours in the office can’t happen. Not with my husband’s schedule the way it is.

PS-If you have followed along in my blog you know that my husband’s hours are unpredictable and a lot of time late. The joys of having a spouse in healthcare. Anyways, it is what it is and I’m proud of all his hard work.

So, I have worked remotely both pre- mama life and now totally immersed in juggling it all. The job has changed simply due to all the responsibility and demand required of me outside of this job. Granted that would happen no matter where I worked as a mama. And as all mamas do, you just have to figure it out and make it work the best you can.

There is a lot of positives with my working situation. And let me say what everyone thinks, I am very lucky to have the flexibility that comes with my job. I am lucky to be able to make my own schedule ( for the most part) and fit things in during my day that would be missed otherwise like doctors appointments. I enjoy working in my yoga pants on the days I don’t have meetings and I can simply run upstairs if I forget anything. Plus, I’m secretly an introvert so I enjoy working closely with my clients but not having to include myself in the typical office drama. Because honestly I don’t care that Karen used Cheryl’s coffee mug without asking…..

The good days I always say “I’m never working in an office again”. And in that moment, I really mean it.

But then I have the days where I feel this overwhelming responsibility of clients, demands within my region and overseeing the shipping of our product. All while juggling a sick baby on my hip and calling the doctor between conference call. Because on this day one of the kids is sick and it’s also my responsibility. Because quite simply, I am home. ( regardless of what I’m doing at home) There I said it – being a mom who works remotely means a lot of times you are constantly given the same expectation as a stay at home mom but with deadlines, quotas and a boss overseeing your activity that day.

I don’t think it’s intentional, I just think it’s convenient and makes sense to other people.  They do not see your day. All they know is you are home. And you must be able to juggle it all because you have flexibility. Some days they are right, I juggle it all effortless and other days I want to hide under my desk and borrow one of Hux’s pacis. Those are the days that I swear I’m going back to the structure of an office. STAT.

I’ve picked up a few tips from my past five or so years and I wanted to share them for other working mama’s out there who just happen to work in their home office too. 

Rule 1: Demand Respect in your office space.  This one can be hard and can’t always be upheld in real life but trust me, set your ground rules early on.  You will thank me later.  You have to make others understand that when you are in your office, this means it’s work time and you should be left alone. So hang a sign on the door, tie a ribbon around the knob or simply shut the door- make it easy- so no one even has to knock to know you are busy slaying. 

Rule 2: Apps are your friend. I use Outlook and our CRM religiously for my job. So, I have the apps on my cell phone. It makes it easier to work when I’m traveling, at a doctor’s appointment or rocking a sleepy baby. Evan use to give me a hard time for “always being on Instagram” until he caught me emailing a client and he began to understand that I actually was working. This is a double edged tip- once you have your “office” on your phone you technically are always connected. Use with caution after hours and family time- it can become a rabbit hole if you are not mindful. 

Rule 3: Wear Pants. When I first starting working remotely, I would literally roll out of bed and shuffle to my computer with my coffee to work. And I noticed I never felt like my day started. Now, I make an effort to actually prepare for my “office”. I wear pants (sometimes yoga), apply a little make up, and actually wear a bra. It’s a mental exercise but it feels like I am going to work that day. 

Rule 4: Discipline is more important than talent. When you work remotely, discipline is one of the greatest qualities you can have. Discipline looks a little different every day but mostly it means getting your work done no matter what your day looks like. Some days it doesn’t happen- some days there just isn’t enough time- but other days this means working early mornings or late at night to answer the emails. I might take an hour to head to the grocery store for our weekly groceries, but I will have to make up for that time later. With a little one home with you, it means a lot of figuring this particular rule out for yourself. One thing I’ve started to do: I set up toys in a play area in my office and give Huxley her alone time for 20 minutes spans. While she plays right next to me, I knock out a item on my to-do list. Then we play for a bit, feed, whatever, and we start over. It’s not easy…. but you will figure your definition of discipline out. 

Rule 5: Learn your Productive Space. Some people work well with noise, others with candles burning and the relaxation station on Pandora but everyone has a zone. I thrive with noise- luckily because my kids are loud. But I also like a cool office and burning candles… it makes me feel relaxed. So, I’ve learned to play music or stations that keep Huxley amused. This keeps her happy and therefore giving me to time to focus on my tasks. When I’m in my productive zone- creativity seems to come easily. 

Rule 6: Knowing When It’s Time for Childcare. I love having my babies home with me, but I can tell having them home when I’m working on a highly stressful workload can lead anxiety. It’s a trigger for me and I’ve learned over the years to recognize that feeling in my stomach and chest. Huxley is 6 months old and has childcare three days a week. I know it’s almost time to enroll her fulltime. It just makes sense for my job, my performance and where I want to land this year with my sales goals. This doesn’t mean I won’t keep my babies home on random days, or pick them up early or late. That is the joy of working from home!  But you do have to respect yourself enough to know when it’s time to focus fully on your performance, and when your attention is lacking. Some mothers can juggle it all up until their kiddos are in Kindergarten, and some mothers can only juggle it all for the first 4 months- but every working mother knows when it’s time. It’s one of the hardest decisions you will make but you have to be honest with yourself and find childcare that makes sense for you. Maybe your solution is just a half day care- you schedule meeting in the am and admin work in the afternoon after you pick baby up. You will figure it out, I promise. And you are still a dang good mom even when your kiddos are in childcare. 

Rule 8: Caffeine is life. Enough said.

Rule 7: Structure your Day. Have set times during the day for specific demands of your job. Every morning from 8-10am, I send prospecting emails, and admin work. I am not a morning person so this allows me to be productive during my mornings while also giving my personality time to wake up. 

Rule 8: Don’t live on an Island. Being a remote rep means I find myself going weeks without reaching out to my coworkers. It’s bad, and it’s something I am working on correcting. I recently starting to set reminders on my calendar to send a text, or call to a different rep every other week. When the days are hard, you need someone to vent your frustrations other than your spouse. What better person than someone who works the same job? 

Rule 9: Grace. This is the most important rule. Give yourself a dang break. Some days you will kill it. Other days you won’t. But you know what, there is always tomorrow. 

Rule 10: Never apologize for being a mom. In business ,a lot of moms feel like they have to walk a very fine line in how much of their “mom life” they reveal. After having Parker, I found myself constantly saying “sorry” for not answering an email super late , running to the pharmacy on my lunch break or scheduling my travel to work with PJ’s childcare. I felt like I had to apologize for being a mom. I was on a client call once when Parker had a stomach bug. He started projectile vomiting mid-call and I just quickly reacted without even thinking. I ran to the bathroom with PJ,  held him over the toilet and kept listening to my prospect talking. I cleaned PJ up while closing a deal. I won that account. With a baby puking in complete chaos. I was sweating bullets thinking how unprofessional I was until I stopped and thought, “Dangggg, that was boss.” And I stopped apologizing that day. Being a mom is not a weakness, it makes me a stronger asset to my company because I have to work efficiently and focused. I don’t have time for anything else. I just get it done, and every day that looks a little bit differently. 

Working remotely is a special world. The people who work fulltime in this type of office space know the struggles of this environment. Moms who work in this world know even more what outside influences can do to your job, focus and performance. It’s not for everyone.  But today was a good day, so I’ve decided I am never working in a traditional environment again.  

Mr. Darcy

I grew up a romance novel junkie. Mr. Darcy was my dream man; reserved, mysterious and handsome. I wanted to be Elizabeth Bennett. In Mr. Darcy’s attempt to confess his feelings for Elizabeth he says,

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. “

I mean….Good right? But it gets better with the film version of Pride and Prejudice.

*You have to watch it! 

Mr Darcy shows up at daybreak. Walking through the fog ( very handsomely in case you were curious). He again confesses his love for her with the famous words:

“If, however, your feelings have changed I will have to tell you; you have bewitched me, body and soul and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”

Sold. Put a ring on it.

I just knew my forever guy would find me the way they always did in my novels (or movies) … some situation would push us together, there would be some discourse in the beginning and then one morning he could wake up and realize he was in love with me. I would make him better, he would be different than all the rest and happily ever after. Clearly I need a heaping dose of reality.

But that sure was not the case. Finding my husband was not at all like I had envisioned when I was 10. And marriage? I never even thought about what happened after “I do”.

I’m asked how Evan and I met a lot. (Actually that was a suggestion for a blog post) We were not a Hallmark worthy start. We don’t have a cute story to tell. We weren’t high school sweethearts. He didn’t rescue me on the side of the road and fix my flat. (Although he did jump my sister’s car off in the school parking lot a few months before I ever met him.)

When I met Evan, I wasn’t looking for him. Actually for the first time in my entire life- I didn’t want anything serious. I had moved back to my hometown after a whirlwind of factors, and the last thing I wanted was a boyfriend. I had noticed Evan at the gym but I never spoke to him. I noticed him at our college’s pageant, but he was there to cheer for another girl. I saw Evan one night when he walked into the restaurant I was working on a date, and I refused to pay him much attention because clearly he was taken. I remember passing Evan in front of the student center and smiling directly at him. He looked me in my eyeballs and quickly looked at the ground. So I assumed either I had something stuck in my teeth and he was too embarrassed to tell me or he was not remotely interested. I wrote him off and moved on.

But, the fates aligned: Evan and I had several classes together that semester but he never spoke to me. I swear now looking back it’s truly a miracle we are married! But thanks to a mutual friend encouraging him ( maybe threatening, I never asked her methods) he finally made an attempt to speak to me. He asked me out, and I said yes but reluctantly. Y’all, early college Evan was so reserved. I was incredibly nervous that our date was going to be awkward. Y’all all know that silence that almost magnifies the chewing of your meal. The awkwardness that makes you talk about the weather with almost as much zest as you would when discussing your life goals. The awkwardness that makes your stomach knot up. Yeah, that awkwardness.

So, our first date was dinner and a movie. I literally have no idea what he watched, but he held my hand. I do not remember what we ate but I do remember exactly what Evan wore. (Mostly because I like to give him a hard time nowadays.) I do not remember every little detail but I do remember how easy the conversation flowed. So easily that we arrived to the movie an hour and a half early, and we sat in the car and talked the entire time. I remember knowing immediately that he was good; Like really good, down to his core. He talked about his grandfather, and how much he looked up to him. His grandfather had just suffered a stroke and Evan would go and stay with his grandfather overnight a few nights a week. Evan was 19. 19 and he would spend his nights being a caregiver for his grandfather. See, told ya, good down to his core. He was raised right, his values were aligned with mine and he was ambitious.

But he was young, and way too good for me. So good that I assumed he probably never jaywalked in his entire life. Kinda so good that he was boring. And I was accustomed to being attracted to “players”. Haven’t we all written a page similar to this in our lives? So, I almost wrote him off. Almost. Until I started to think about what I had dated in the past, and where it had gotten me. And he was different.

As I mentioned before, I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend. I was dating other people. I still had feelings for an old boyfriend… but there was just something about him. And overtime, we spent more and more time together. I met Evan’s family and friends. He met mine. We even found out that his grandfather use to play golf with my grandpop. We got to know each other. Our relationship grew, but for some reason “girlfriend” was a hard word to swallow. At least for a little while.

Let me be real, we had our struggles. ( we still do!) We were not perfect in our relationship. We moved to Tuscaloosa at the same time for school. And our relationship changed but still had it’s struggles. There was jealously, immaturity, mistakes, maybe some drunken arguments in the mix. We were young, and dumb. I wish I could say I was innocent in all of that but that would be untrue. Evan claims I do not like to admit when I’m wrong, so consider this my white flag. I was guilty too.

But do you know what made Evan so different? We were so young when we started dating. He was 19, I was 20. I felt he was very innocent. I felt I was not. Our ability to communicate was immature. We just had a lot of growing up to do. But, the game changer: instead of growing up and apart…. we grew up and grew together.

And he was/is my best friend.

I once read an article that stated your husband should not be your best friend. And I disagree.

I have a girlfriend bestie. We have been friends for over ten years and I consider her a sister. But Evan really is my best friend. He is the person I want to call when anything happens in life. He celebrates with me, and cries with me. Well that’s not entirely true. I cry a lot. But he doesn’t judge me when I cry after an episode of our favorite tv show or when my jeans are tight. He makes simple things incredibly fun. Like long car rides…. I love long car rides with Evan.

But He also drives me absolutely crazy. Like realllllly crazy. He is my opposite in almost every way. He likes to hide in the shadows and we all know that isn’t me. Hey- it is what it is.

He likes for me to lead when we are somewhere new. He prefers country music and cowboy boots. He lays his clothes out the night before, and I am a go with whatever I grab that morning kinda person. He is a nurse- I hate blood. I’m type b and more laidback than it’s good for me. He is type a all the way.

But he is worth it.

If had read our story as a teen I’m not sure I would have appreciated it. We grow up thinking love has to be grand gestures. I expected script worthy. And don’t get me wrong, if Evan would have taken me out in a boat in a river full of swans to get caught in a rain storm, I definitely wouldn’t have been opposed. ( if you do not know this movie- we need to talk!)But love isn’t about the grand gestures. Love is about the small moments. It’s about the friendship that grows. Love is about finding someone who truly enjoys doing absolutely nothing with you. Life isn’t big moments all the time- life is a lot of small moments smashed in between the rare grand boulders in life. Wouldn’t you want someone who makes those small everyday moments special? Yes, yes you do.

We don’t have it all figured out. Marriage is hard. Like really really hard. Being married with kids? Get out of here! It’s work.

I have made mistakes in my relationship with Evan, and he loved me through them. I have prayed for Evan before I ever met him. And he prayed for me. We still do.

I asked Evan last night what he thought makes our marriage work? He answered with ALOT of give and take …. and marrying your best friend. I’d agree. Some times one gives more than the other. Some times one loads the dishwasher while the other gets to go to the gym. Again, the small things people. THAT is what it’s all about!

Evan didn’t profess his love to me like Mr. Darcy. He simply handed me a letter. A letter that told me everything I needed to know: He prayed for me. He wanted a future with me. He wanted to spend a lifetime together. I was his best friend. He promised to love me as long as he lived.

And I said yes.

Life with Evan isn’t perfect. Goodness lets be honest here: people probably give Evan pats on the back for enduring life with me. Marriage isn’t perfect. I even bet Elizabeth Bennett would tell us her marriage to my perfect Mr Darcy is hard work but it’s worth it. So if 10 year old Molly could hear me now, I’d tell her to keep dreaming of her future husband. He isn’t going to storm a castle wall to rescue you, or offer his kidney to save your life (although I totally think Evan would), but he is going to make you laugh hard, and love harder. He is way more than you could ever imagine. So, give that good guy a chance.

red flag

I’m currently waiting to board flight 2522 for another work trip and I’m running on zero sleep. Not because I didn’t have the opportunity ( kicking myself for not taking advantage of a kid free night) but because I found myself immersed into the world of Netflix and couldn’t turn it off.

I always loved two subjects in college- literature and film. Tearing apart a novel or poem and dissecting it layer by layer all awhile learning its deeper meaning ….yes mam. I could do it all day. Film is the same experience for me but through a different medium. Mixing the two sets my heart racing… be as cheesy as that sounds it’s true. I once even though I’d become a writer myself. But obviously my blog is a depiction as to why that never happened. Then I had the notion to become a literature or English professor: being the wacky professor who wears odd matching clothes, cusses in class and sees her students out at the bar. Who is also the teacher that is able to open her students eyes to their own literary gifts. But reality set in, I soon discovered that I may not be the type of person who can truly teach … so I settled for just learning about the two. As often and as much as I could.

Sorry- Got a little side tracked from my point.. so, back to my post. My last film of the night was “Duchess” starring Kiera Knightly which tells of the life of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I went through two phases of emotion during the film. My first reaction after I became accustomed with my constant distaste for her horrid husband- the Duke- I found myself thankful. Thankful for rights. Thankful for a husband who loves me for more than providing him offspring. Thankful for my freedom. Thankful for having an education and it being worth more than to attract a husband. Thankful for equality: equality as in my right to vote, own property and divorce. ( and I say divorce because women were not permitted to leave a marriage no matter how horrible their lives were- not to reflect my own marriage ** so Karen don’t go spreading rumors at afternoon pickup that we’re getting divorced)

As I watched as Georgiana experienced her wedding night with the Duke in all of its cold, empty and emotionless glory. I shuttered because I knew this was an actual reality for the women before me. Not just a duchess, but females in all classes, races, nationalities. Her duty as a wife was to satisfy her husband and provide him with boys to take over his duties. Physical abuse was allowed and legal- as long as it was by her husband and the bruises where within specifications to size. She was not due any intimacy or affection; and definitely not respect. That was not his obligation to her. Georgiana watched as her husband took mistresses without discretion, fathered a child outside of their marriage and expected her to raise this child as her own. She was to march to the beat of compliance. She showed her outrage once when the Duke slept with her only friend Lady Forrester and the Duke quickly reminded her that she was speaking out of her “place”. The more I watched, my emotions of thankfulness faded and I became straight up pissed.

As I drove to the airport, I thought of how my life was so different. I was driving my own car to the airport to travel alone without a chaperone to perform a job outside of my home. I was a mother, yes- but I was and am more than that. I voted in the last election, I vocally can speak out on politics, business and current events. I have rights but am I truly in all its purest definition equal?

I couldn’t shake that feeling of being pissed. And as I drove, I tried to reflect as to why. And my mind traveled to my career and the journey I’ve had to get to where I am today. A position in life that so many women before me were not able to obtain themselves. To the jobs I’ve held, the situations I’ve experienced, the interviews I’ve undergone. And then my mind wandered to my daughter …. and how I would have to raise her to understand how to navigate in the professional world- how to interview as a woman. And then it hit me like a freight train. She will have to learn how to navigate her professional interactions as a women.

Let me explain. I was working as a regional sales manager for a marketing/ advertising company, and I managed a team of young reps. I loved my job but it was incredibly high stress and even longer hours… it was not a company that would offer me the environment to grow. I knew I wanted a family one day, and there was no way a mom could work the hours I was keeping, on the travel schedule I held, under the demands I was given. And ironically, a recruiter reached out to me with an opportunity that seemed like a logical next step for me. I’ll be honest. I was still green in the business world. She set up my first round of interviews, then my second, third … and then my final round of interview with the VP was pending. She called me one afternoon and wanted to prep me for the call. She finally asked me why I wanted to leave my current job, and I explained to her my desires and current situation. She stopped me and said, ” no don’t tell them that you want a family. That’s a red flag.”

A red flag.

That was an incredibly profound moment for me. I remember taking that nugget of knowledge and filing it in my brain for the rest of my professional career( thus far). The lesson: Do not discuss family, do not show the fruit of your sex, do not be transparently and fully female because that makes you less than.

Because here is the reality- in 2014- I was a good applicant for this job- I knew it- but if they knew I wanted a family, I became a liability not an asset. For having the capability of becoming pregnant, I was not as worthy of the job regardless of my experience, talents or education.

If you just rolled your eyes at that statement, you are free to exit this post.

Because as much as we all want to deny this inequality still exist in the workplace, it does. I was indeed hired for the job. But I was hired over a mom. I was hired because I wasn’t a mother… because I followed the recruiters advice and didn’t discuss family, my desires or my truth. I was given the opportunity because I wasn’t the largest liability out of the bunch. I’ll never know if she was more qualified than me.. simply because she had chosen to have a family ( just as my employers had done with their own families).

And wouldn’t you know it. I did become pregnant. And wouldn’t you know, my employer did not celebrate with me at first. I was told that this was his biggest fear when they hired me. And I had proven him right. I was accused of getting pregnant on purpose and lying about it being unplanned – like it was even their business in the first place. Like my employer had a right to dictate my body and what I did with it. And this isn’t the Victorian age people… this is the 21st Century.

Now let me fair, I do understand the weight maternity leave puts on an employer. I do understand that given the “extra baggage” that women carry when hired can make a male applicant more appealing. I get it. Truly.

( side note: And my employer was not all bad… my manager became an encourager to this working mom eventually . But I’ll never forget how I was treated as a whole and what that lesson said to me.)

I also know that without women and maternity leave- our society would end. The youth of tomorrow would not exist. Quite frankly, the very employers I’m speaking of would not be here. We are important, and our ability to birth the future leaders of tomorrow and still acquire clients, grow profits and manage chaos makes us more than damn capable.

I know that I’m not alone in this experience. I have spoken to women who have had similar stories. I understand that we, as women, have the right to not discuss our families in interviews or with our employers which is protected by law so we cannot be discriminated against. But regardless, when Huxley gets to the point in her life when she embarks on career, I will have to pass along the seed of advice the recruiter told me. I am going to have to teach her how to gracefully edit her answers so she is seen like a shining asset rather than potential maternity leave and pediatrician appointments.

Yes, I have the right to vote. I can run for office. I have the right to own property. I can go out without a chaperone. I married for love and no dowery was paid. I’m sure if the Duchess were to jump in a time machine and find herself in 2018, she would be elated with her civil rights. I join in the celebration that we have come a long way, and life is by far leaps and bounds better. Let’s be real, my attributes for being sought after for marriage in that time period are not in high supply. No societal acclaim, I more than likely would have died in childbirth and I lack the proper education.But with all that we have accomplished as a society, and all that has been fixed- we still have such a way to go.

Isn’t it irony that the very thing that instilled any value for women in societies past is now the very thing that puts us on potentially uneven ground.

I find myself now with an employer who handled my second pregnancy in stark contrast to my first experience. I have been encouraged, understood, heard and VALUED. Being told that “it’s okay” to be a mother with a career and still be seen as valuable is downright empowering. And I feel so incredibly thankful. But why is this a rarity?

I have a daughter. No, I am not going to have to raise her to speak French, or attend a boarding school solely to attract a husband. She can dream, speak and study as fiercely as she desires. She can own her own business, or run for politics. She can be a homemaker or a doctor. She has the right to do anything she wants in life…. but I’m pissed.

I’m pissed because as thankful as I am for the freedom women celebrate today… and I sincerely, truly and wholeheartedly know that this is not ALL employers, not all men, not all women’s story- however it was mine. This is my truth.

Regardless I am pissed because I will still have to raise my daughter to edit her speech to appear less feminine as to not dim her merits ….. while only having to encourage my son to do his best because his merits will not be overshadowed by his sex. His merits will win him the job, not because he isn’t a mother… and well I’m pissed because quite honestly that might actually win it for him too.

the daughter of an ex- “beauty queen”

Let me be straight, I have walked my swimsuit walk until I could do it in my sleep ( try me, start the music and hold my drink- I’ve still got it 😉). I have extensive knowledge on the correct usage of butt glue and the best ratio of spray tan for stage. Although, I still struggle with applying fake lashes, I can tell you the best places to buy them. I can name about every major pageantry dress designer in record breaking time, and still have a few gowns hanging in my closet. ( for sale if anyone is interested!) But with all silliness aside, I also personally know the immense journey that pageantry can give to a young woman and I’ve also watched it destroy.

From the moment finding out we were expecting a girl, the ever consistent comment was, ” oh wow, I know you can’t wait until she competes in a pageant.” or the question: ” when are you going to put her in her first pageant?”. It seems the common assumption is that I would be dressing this poor girl in every crown donned clothing item from the moment she was born, and she wouldn’t stand a chance in her pursuit to perfecting her own pageant walk.

However, the answer is No she won’t be competing anytime soon and yes I can wait. And I’ll explain why.

To give a little background to those of you who do not know me personally, I have been involved in pageantry since high school. Granted in high school, our “pageant” consisted of the contestants walking on stage for 10 seconds, making a turn on stage and walking off. There was no real interaction with the judges. And looking back my dress was always about 2 inches too short, and I knew literally nothing about what I was doing- I just loved being on stage. I evolved to competing in school competitions in college and even earned a scholarship. I learned to interview, and how to articulate my thoughts in conversation. I tackled state level competitions and eventually even a few national level pageants where I represented my home state of Alabama. I mixed things up and took on probably my biggest lesson from pageantry: state director. I have seen pageantry from the viewpoint of a contestant, titleholder, state director and now outsider. So I guess I can understand why everyone would assume I would be signing her up for a pageant while in labor.

When my mom finally let me enter my high school pageant when I was 14, she set her ground rules…. and I knew she meant them. Her rules: If I ever lost and cried and/or complained about the winner, I would never compete again. I was to always be supportive of the other girls. She was unwavering in her pursuit for me to exhibit good sportsmanship. And I took those rules with me throughout my years. Even at 25, I knew to hold those tears in for fear my mother would climb the stage and spank me. My mother was not a “pageant mom”. She supported my ambitions but if I wanted to compete- that was up to me. I was responsible for everything and looking back, it was one of the greatest gifts she could have given me. I learned to work hard for what I wanted. To be an adult, and take ownership for myself. Now having been a director, I see just how rare that personal responsibility is. ( nothing was more frustrating to me than accepting an application for a miss contestant that was submitted by her mother).

I have witnessed the stereotypical “mean girl” interactions and pettiness. I have been on stage with more plastic than a recycling center. I understand the negative and superficial stigmas that associate with pageantry. I’ve left conversations with some women with LEGIT headaches because I couldn’t listen to another story about themselves. I’ve watched weak minded and strong minded women alike self destruct under pressure. I’ve been the target of anger when a contestant or their daughter didn’t place as well as they had expected – and all decent human interactions are forgotten. And to be 100% transparent, I have grown bitter in this realm recently. I’ve had hurt feelings, hurt relationships, failed attempts at success. I’ve struggled with guilt for developments outside of my control and honestly, I’ve just grown a little weary.

But I’ve also witnessed a miss contestant take the time to calm a panicked 12 year old girl backstage. I watched as she kneeled down to her level, held her hands, looked her in the eyes and made her feel invincible. That little girl will never forget that moment and neither will I. I’ve witnessed a “beauty queen” share her story with a group of teen girls, and watched as the teens were genuinely shocked that a queen would know how they felt in their world. These teens left feeling united and encouraged. I have witnessed women make huge ripples on their communities in regards to their passions; ending hunger, bullying, breast cancer awareness, adoption, blood donation … the list goes on… and I have been front row as I watched a quiet 13 year old blossom as she became more comfortable in her own skin unafraid to chase the big dreams she had set for her life. ( I still have a letter from her saved in my jewelry box). And I have met incredible world changers, nothing is more impressive to me, than to meet a young woman who is so humble, ambitious and driven. I had a queen this year that was exactly that; young but a force. After speaking to her for half an hour, you leave her knowing she will do great things one day. ( major props to her mama)

Recently, I was able to coach a young woman; a teenager who decided to put herself out of her comfort zone. Having the opportunity to watch her grow in confidence right in front of my eyes was moving- but being involved in her growth was emotional. As I reflect today, I envision if that was my daughter- and how special that journey would be to watch. But can this journey could be possible through other realms of experiences?

Absolutely. But for me: Growing up, I was the kid who was never really great at anything; I wasn’t athletic, artistic or smart. I didn’t have that thing that was mine. I was never fully confident in myself. As most all teens, I constantly compared myself . I was quiet, and unsure. That was until I set foot on stage, and my insecurities vanished And for those ten seconds, I was fearless. That was my “thing” but it wasn’t my everything. Let me repeat myself for the people in the back: it definitely was my thing but it WAS NOT my “end all be all find all validation in my crown” everything. Underline and highlight that.

So, when I am asked, ” when will you put huxley in her first pageant?” I just smile and say do you have ten minutes. Because here’s the deal- I have my own ground rules too.

(1) My sweet girl has to come to me wanting to participate and has to be able to maturely articulate why she wants to compete.

(2) She has to exhibit the maturity to understand three judges do not dictate her value in life. She should understand the bigger picture, be resilient and mentally tough enough. There is no age limit for that – she could be 14 or 25.

(3) This can be her thing but it will not be her everything. If she cannot handle that, she’s out.

(4) She wants to compete, she works for it. She sends in her paperwork, she finds her coach, she prepares for competition. If it’s her dream, it’s her motivation that has to earn it. Period.

(5) Lastly and most IMPORTANTLY: if she loses, and cries- throws a fit- exhibits a bad attitude- speaks poorly of others- or takes it upon herself to speak immaturely to any staff or director of the pageant, she will never compete again. Ever. Attitude and learning to lose are apart of life. I learned more about myself in the moments of defeat than I ever did after a success, she has to learn how to navigate through it too.

Pageantry ( insert whatever is more relatable to you whether it be competitive sports, theater, etc) is a scary environment for a parent. It’s like life. There is so much bad that can find your child. We spend our adult life trying to protect them from all the pain of rejection …. and now we are signing them up for it and buying the ticket to watch. But, like life, there is also so much good. And within those good moments, that’s when growth happens. When your child discovers something more about themselves… and learns to love that thing about themselves too. And hopefully, has a whole lot of fun along the way.

Honestly, I find myself praying she finds her thing in dance or volleyball. Maybe she will take after her dad and find her thing in academics. Or maybe she will volunteer in her community or join Spanish club.

At the end of the day, I just want my daughter to be strong, proud, happy and confident in who she is regardless of what her thing is. And if that means her wearing 5″ heels for world peace, I’ll be in the front row cheering her on…. as long as she knows that I’m there for her “thing ” because she ( and her brother and daddy) are this ex- beauty queen’s everything.

I am not ready to be a #girlmom

I spent a lot of my younger years unsure of who I was. I pretended, and tried (way) too hard to be what I thought I should be, rather than who I actually was. (Because let’s be real, that Ducks Unlimited tag was not me…. and that camo steering wheel cover was DEFINITELY not me)

I wished to be different because different than me had to be better, and I lived in comparison. I listened to negative opinions both internally and external …. and absorbed. I didn’t understand my value, and I didn’t prepare for anything past the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, not all of this time was bad. I met my best friend, had some really great memories ( some I remember, some I was told about) and obviously had fun. I wouldn’t trade this time even with the struggle. Although, someone should have pointed me in the direction of a gym and away from the tanning bed because yikes!

I wish I could pinpoint when that all changed for me, but I can’t. I believe it was a mixture, a perfect storm. Maturity, humility, confidence and actually turning up the volume to God when he spoke to me. It’s crazy but I fell rock bottom before I started to rebuild, and in that rebuild I found who I was ( and whose I was). And even with all of this- I still always envisioned I would be better when I became a mom. I would be ready, “together” and prepared.

Being a boy mom is special, they love you like no other. You are their world- at least for the first few years. You want to raise strong, respectful and courageous men. That’s my goal … and I’m working on it. But I’ve never been a man and I’ve never navigated through those waters. There is a connection between a mother and daughter that is unique. I know on some level what a portion of her future holds, and as much as I want to keep the “bad parts” from her; I know I can’t.

Being a mother to a girl is something I wasn’t prepared to be. I always thought I would have so many things figured out before she got here. I would accomplish this grand list and become the perfect example for her. Until then, I wasn’t ready.

I wanted to know fearlessness. To pursue my goals, dreams and passions without fear of failure or second guessing. I wanted to be an example to her of passion and drive. To encourage her to get that pink streak in her hair, run that race, or take that course- because that’s what set her heart soaring.

I wanted to have it all figured out. My budget, my career; my life. I wanted to be her pillar of stability and strength. Her example of priorities, and maturity.

Before I became a girl mom, I was going to love my skin 100%. Embrace the stretch marks, jiggle, wrinkles and all that …. but instead I am not opposed to Botox, and am still searching for the best stretch mark cream. I have my bad days, and catch myself speaking quite nasty to myself.

I wanted to be the type of person who makes their bed every morning, and always eats breakfast. Who figured out the ultimate secret for juggling it all- work, home, family, gym and social. The kind of person who jumps to volunteer for special snacks at school, or hosts the instagram worthy dinner parties. But yet here I am, still none of those things.

I was going to have read all the parenting books, spoken to the right people and had a plan in place. The perfect antidote for bitches, immature boys, self doubt and hard life lessons. I wanted to know the right words to raise her to be strong, and confident but gentle and humble too.

I wanted to walk a road of kindness; always helping others. To demonstrate the importance of selfless acts of service, and being an open shoulder and ear to any that needed it. Instead I find myself looking the other direction more than I should.

I wanted to know the exact science to ensure my daughter walks her entire life with Christ. To never stray, never second guess her value, or never ignore his continuous outreaching arms for her.

Basically, for her to not be me.

As all mothers, I want so much for my children. I pray for their lives and the development of their souls. I want them to be so much better than me. And here I am, a mother to a daughter and I’m not ready, “together” or prepared.

I’m imperfect and none of the things I thought I would have figured out before my daughter arrived.

And to be honest, I’m terrified, not fearless. Terrified of not finding the right words when she needs it. I am terrified of the night she comes home in heartbroken tears because of a boy. Terrified for the first time her haven of innocence dissolves and she feels inadequate in the world. Because I’ve been there, and I know it’s coming.

I’ve heard my mom say many times, ” do the best you can.” And lately when I pray for my children, her words illuminate my thoughts. The best I can.

I don’t know about you, but being a mom makes me better. It lights this fire in me. Being a mom (to my two little nuggets) makes me curse more, pray more and love so much more. It scares me, challenges me and drives me even more.

I will never be perfect. I will never be together. **Goodness alive, that’s actually laughable if you know me in real life. I’m the conductor of the hot mess express pretty frequently.** I will never have all the right words, or the antidote to all the pain she will face.

But I do have love. I love her more than myself. I do have God’s ear as I pray over her each night. I do have encouragement as I cheer her on when she can’t. And I have my desire to do the best for my children I can every single day I’m alive.

You know, I may never be ready to be a girl mom and that’s okay. Because I’m more than a girl mom, I was created to be her mom. And I’m perfectly imperfect at it.