Mamas and Wine

Back when Ellie was an infant, I remember wondering to myself (sometimes desperately), when and if I would ever feel like “myself” again. To be straight with you, I’m not even certain what I mean when I say “feel like myself,” but I think what I was looking for was to rediscover the me that exists once I’m outside of a position of responsibility and obligation. (And if you’ve had a child, you very well know what I’m talking about.)

Once I had a child, I found myself in a perpetual state of responsibility and obligation, which is quite a “culture” shock (if you can call it that) to a woman who was used to doing basically whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and never having to answer to another soul for anything. So yes, I can remember times when I was nursing Ellie at half past three in the morning, with tears streaming down my face, wondering “when will I get more than two hours of sleep in a row?” “I love this so much. Why is it so hard?” and “will I ever just be me again?”

No. No, I’ll never “just be me again.” Since Ellie was born, and until the day I die, I’ll be me+. That’s just the way it is. And I wouldn’t have it any other way (no matter how hard it was in the beginning).

***

Some of my mama crew, plus some friends!

Today, several of the other mamas in my moms’ group, and a couple of their friends and I got together and took an RV (Thanks B!) down to the Santa Maria Valley to go wine tasting, and we had such and excellent time. We left our kiddos with their papas, and actually got to hang out. I laughed way too loudly sometimes, and I got to hear SO many great stories. The lives these women have lived! It felt so good to just be, without feeling pulled in twelve different directions. To just talk and enjoy each other’s company. How refreshing!

That is what I was missing, back in the lonely nursing hours. And while I’ll never “just be me” again, I couldn’t be happier to be me+ alongside all these amazing women. Motherhood has been the greatest blessing of my life thus far; I thank God every day for my little Ellie Bean, and for the bonds that are being created between me and the rest of the mamas in my group. This is such a special and unique time of our lives, and I’m so grateful to have their love and support while we all begin to figure out what it means to go from “just being me” to being “me+.”

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Best Books For Young Girls?

Is this a thing for little girls?

I’ve mentioned this a few times in the past, but growing up, I was never a girly-girl. I imagine that this has less to do with my inclination to “girly” things, as it does with the fact that I didn’t really have the means/relationships/security to develop that aspect of myself. I spent a great deal of time by myself, and my volatile family situation made it hard to make friends, or meet people outside of my immediate family. When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I brushed this off as an inconsequential fact of my childhood. Would I really ever care that I didn’t get the “typical” girl experience? And wasn’t I better off for not having that whole gender-identity thing shoved down my throat? Yes…and no.

Here I am now, inching towards my twenty-ninth birthday (which is about a decade longer than I expected to live), married, and with a daughter of my very own. And it wasn’t until I was married and had a child that I started to get the feeling that I was missing something.

I remember several instances when we were planning our wedding that my husband (then fiancé) would ask me for my opinion (music, food, etc), and I didn’t have a preference one way or another. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it’s just that I had never put much thought into it, and in the end, we were going to be married regardless of which band played, or whether we had a wedding cake or wedding cupcakes. I’m not trying to say that being ambivalent with regards to one’s wedding preparations makes one “less of a woman,” but I am using that as an example of how little preparation or comprehension I had for what “normal” women are like. Most women (certainly not all), have, you know, some clue as to what they’d like their wedding to be like. What their dream house looks like. What they might name their children. Whether or not they’d even like to have children. Those sorts of things. And I had nothin’. (Which, in many ways, made my wedding totally awesome. Lowest maintenance bride ever, this one.)

But here’s the thing: growing up with so little attention paid to my gender, and yes, my gender identity (as much as people seem to hate the very idea of “gender identity”) and having so many negative examples of femininity ingrained in me from such a young age, made my young adulthood ridiculously difficult to navigate, and has left me totally unprepared for many aspects of my life as a wife, mother and maker of my home. Don’t get me wrong: I make up for it. I read a LOT. A LOT a lot. And I discuss. And I argue both sides of things to myself to discover how I actually feel about *breastfeeding/cloth diapering/vaccinations/preschools/etc. But none of this comes naturally, the way it seems to for women who were raised to be women (whatever that means). Sure, it’s not “easy” for anyone, really (life as a mostly stay-at-home-mom has been the toughest “job” of my life), but some women just seem so…natural, you know? I chalk it up to all those years they spent pushing their dolls around in strollers and playing house. OF COURSE their houses are beautifully decorated, they’ve been planning it since they were five years old! 🙂

I could go on and on about my perceived deficiencies, but that’s not the point here. The point (yes, there is one!) is that I don’t know what books to make my kid read. Can you believe it? Four paragraphs of background, just to solicit book recommendations? Before you yell at me, hear me out: My Friend Flippa? (Flicka?), American Girl? Something about a Prairie? Anne of Green Gables? Something about a black horse? These all sound vaguely like book titles to me, and if I reach for it, I feel like they’re typically associated with little girls. Am I right? I know there’s a whole sea of wholesome, little-girl books out there, but I have no clue–not a clue–where to start. I figure, if you all can give me some recommendations, I can begin reading through the list, and have them ready for Ellie when she’s five or so.

For context (as if you need more context…), the first book I remember reading was an oooold Webster’s Dictionary. It was the biggest book we had in the house, and I feel in love with it. In the back it had charts of the solar system, and the periodic table of elements, and a field-guide to rocks and minerals (not sure who’s going to carry a dictionary with them out in the field, but okay) AND a section with old-timey slang. I went into kindergarten calling boys “fella” and my favorite game was “making a list of words that mean the same thing” (evidently I skipped the entry on the word “Synonym”). And as if you didn’t see this coming: I ended up marrying an AP English teacher whose favorite book is Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” and who sends me hand-made postcards from work quoting e e cummings. *SWOON*

So, if you’d like to help a sister out, please leave your favorite little-girl book recommendations below. I’m partial to stories about courageous women who make huge sacrifices for the betterment of others, and stories about girls who overcome adversity and make an impact those around them. I like stories about hard work, and struggle, and when the characters get excited about things like “going into town” or “playing in the crick,” but I’ll read whatever. 🙂 Thanks for your help! And I’ll let you know what I think as I read through them.

❤ mj

*Yes, as long as possible/Love the idea, will do it with the next one/Regular vaccination schedule/Montessori, I hope

Career vs Baby-Making

I filmed this super-casually (obvs), after I put Ellie to bed tonight. Mostly just because I hadn’t posted a video to my channel in about a month, and I figured some ladies could relate. Enjoy!

I Am Not a Mom-A-Tron

Something that’s become particularly clear to me this past week, is how easy it is to fall into the maternal trap of trading one’s individuality– that is, the very qualities that make one unique– for the quest of becoming the very best mother one can be. I advised a friend via email recently to give no consequence to his feeling “too old” to attend certain concerts, because “some of us are, by circumstance, made too old to attend” I knew, even then, that I was projecting my sense of loss onto him. (But I still find mine to be sound advice.)

But then I considered: what good does it do Elliott to have a mother who divorces herself from herself? Or for Mike to watch me slowly shape-shift into a single-minded Mom-A-Tron? (He did, after all, marry me, not Mom-A-Tron. Although the more I say it, the more awesome Mom-A-Tron sounds. Like a badass mommy-robot.)

My realization isn’t anything novel or groundbreaking, I’m sure, but here it is: Elliott and I were matched together as mother and daughter (and to Mike as father and daughter), because we are the individuals that we are, and because of the unique inclinations of Elliott’s heart that neither Mike nor myself are even privy to yet. I have to believe that my likes and desires are shaping me uniquely as Elliott’s mother, and that the relationship that Elliott and I are cultivating will be enhanced by those details.

The Happiest Baby

Gratuitous photo of The Bean. Sigh. Feel that? That's your heart swelling full of happiness.

I want Elliott to love me as her mother, but I also want her to know me as an individual that exists in roles in addition to my primary role as her mother. And rather than knowing Elliott singularly as my daughter, I look forward to knowing her as a person, gaining insight into her character, and watching her grow into the many roles that she will play.

I guess that’s all to say that it will not irreparably tarnish my relationship with my daughter if she watches her mother go to a Metric concert with her friends, continues indulging her fascination with haute shades of nail polish, or falls further into the vintage rabbit-hole, sartorially.

And, as usual, I’m not really sure about any of what I just said. But it feels right. As Walter Sobchak asks, “Am I wrong?”

(Polish en ce moment: Essie’s Mint Candy Apple)

Essie's Mint Candy Apple

One Thing I Never Prepared For

The time is 11:20 PM, Mike is sound asleep in our bedroom, The Bean is (noisily) asleep in her bassinet in the living room, and here I am, on the couch across from her, plunking away at my computer. I know, I know, “sleep when the baby sleeps.” I’ve got a cold and I’m exhausted, so I should be sleeping like a baby (ha!), but I have a hard time sleeping when something’s bothering me. Prepare yourself, because we’re delving deep fast: Why is it that during the happiest time of my life I sometimes feel so, I don’t know, empty?

For starters, and I know we’re (i.e. new moms) not supposed to say this in “public,” but I’m lonely. Example: I had the television on because the sound was keeping me company, but the light would cause Ellie to stir, so I turned it off. I’m embarrassed just typing that. It makes sense though: I spend every moment I’m awake with a 7 week old infant, and I have very little interaction with people my age, or people capable of carrying on a conversation for that matter. I would not trade a second of my precious time with Elliott, but the matter remains; I feel like part of me is shriveling up as a result of lack of use. Couple that with the guilt I have for feeling the way I do, and you’ve got yourself the ingredients for a late-night confession in blog format.

I miss my friends, and I miss my coworkers but most of all I miss my husband. (There’s a sad kind of irony that he’s sleeping soundly one room over, and here I am feeling like I’m slowly being emptied out.) Let me save you the time of telling me what I already know: I know it won’t always be this way, and I know some of my sadness could likely be attributed to all of the recent hormonal changes, and I know that my life is actually perfectly wonderful and I’ll look back on this time later in life with warmth and nostalgia, and I know that comparatively my life is a cake-walk. I’m so blessed to have such a perfect little daughter, and a wonderful, loving husband, and the ability to stay home and care for our adorable tiny treasure. I know that, and I believe that, but man, I miss myself you know? And how I used to be fun and creative and social.

Maybe this is the time where I’m supposed to reflect on the woman I was before the pregnancy and birth, and look forward to the woman I’m becoming? I already know that this experience is changing me for the better, and I look forward to growing into a new, more refined version of myself that I see on the horizon. I guess I just wish I wasn’t so alone in the process.

I’m sure my sentiment in this matter is not unique; this is probably something many new moms go through, but I was not prepared for this. Breastfeeding, diapering, swaddling, I over-prepared for everything. But loneliness? This is an entirely new arena for me.

I’ll attend another moms’ group tomorrow (I already belong to one) with the hope of meeting some new moms and maybe talking about something other than the adorable smile Ellie makes before she toots. (You haven’t lived until you’ve seen it– it’s magic.) And hopefully, albeit slowly, I’ll replace whatever it is I’m losing with all of the wonderful things I’m gaining.

And as always, if you’ve got practical advice, I welcome it.


Glamourmom vs. Bravado: Nursing Tank Showdown

It’s totally natural, and it’s totally convenient but breastfeeding does require a certain amount of finesse. From clothes designed specifically for the practice, to mechanical pumps to get the job done when you’re working the 9-5, there are hundreds of products available for eager mommies. But are they worth the money? I aim to answer that question with a series of product reviews, starting with this one: Glamourmom vs. Bravado, the Nursing Tank Show Down.

All nursing tank tops share one feature in common, and that’s their tell-tale detachable straps, designed for easy flip-down access. Both the Glamourmom and Bravado nursing tanks’ straps are detachable with one hand, so they both get As for ease of use. Onto their differences.

The Glamourmom tank’s shelf bra isn’t nearly as supportive as I had expected considering Glamourmom “is the revolutionary company who introduced the original Built-in Nursing Bra Tanks and Tops,” (taken off their twitter bio). And the straps themselves begin to stretch out as the day wears on, making the tank much lower cut at the end of the day (read: not very modest). The Glamourmom tank is clingy– almost form fitting– while the Bravado leaves a little extra room around the middle. Not enough room to consider it a about-to-pop-maternity tank, but enough that two weeks after delivery, it didn’t show off my postpartum muffin-top (hallelujah). So if you’re looking for a tank that’s a bit sexier, I’d go for the lower cut, clingier Glamourmom. If modesty is more your thing, and you don’t mind a little extra room to hide that postpartum belly, then the Bravado’s your girl.

My biggest complaint about he Glamourmom tank is that it has circles cut out of the interior shelf-bra (for feeding), which seems convenient, but you can see the outline of the holes through the front of the top! It makes my nipples look like two giant targets, which isn’t the kind of attention I’m looking for. The Bravado’s fabric is a bit thicker, making it feel more substantial and supportive overall (and no “nipple-targets”).

Because of the more structured and modest fit, I favor the Bravado nursing tank over the Glamourmom, with one caveat: you get what you pay for. At my local mommy-shop, the Bravado Essential Nursing Tank retails for $57.00. I actually laughed out loud when I saw the price tag. The Glamourmom retails for $40, which is still a lot amount of money for what amounts to a handy tank-top. (Hard to imagine that some intrepid Etsy-er hasn’t fashioned one of her own…)

I couldn’t stomach the $57 price tag, even though I love the Bravado tank, so I scoured the internet and found the Bravado tank on sale at mom4life.com for only $40.50 ($38.48 if you sign up for their newsletter and recieve 5% off)! Top that off with free shipping in the US and I was sold. I’ve ordered 4 Bravado Essential Nursing Tanks already, and I love love love them. I wear them literally every day. After dozens of washes they’ve only faded a little, and none of the stitching has come loose or ripped.

The Glamourmom Nursing Tank comes in a few varieties. I went with the generic “Glamourmom Nursing Tank” which goes for $26-$34 on mom4life.com (less with the 5% discount). I purchased three of them before I realized I didn’t favor the fit very much, so I just wear them as pajama tops, which they seem better suited for anyway. If you are a more brazen girl than me (more glam, if you will), you’ll probably love the Glamourmom tanks. Plus, they’re less expensive!

I only have 4 Bravado Essential Nursing Tanks, so if you have any others you’d suggest I’d try, let me know and I’ll pick some up and compare them to my Bravados. But for now the Bravado Essential Nursing tank is my one-and-only.

  • About the Author

    Melissa Jenna Godsey

    I’m a wife, mother, accidental entrepreneur, wisdom seeker, and truth lover. We're trying really hard not to keep up with the Joneses. Click through for the whole story.

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