Behind the Pretty Picture

You guys! I’ve been totally lagging on my Kauai post, but I’ve been wanting to write this one for awhile. Probably since Valentina was born (as of this post, shes 20 months!). With mental awareness day having just passed, I thought it was an important reminder- especially to myself, about the social media black hole.

I distinctly remember while I was pregnant with Valentina, scrolling through instagram and seeing so many perfectly posed mommies in their gorgeous nurseries, most of the time all white, with their perfect little babes and everything was just so blissful all of the time. Magic fairies came in to do the mamas make up, while chirping birds did her hair as she got ready to walk her perfectly sleeping baby around the block in her 6 inch heels while paparazzi shot the most perfect candid photos. I used to look at these and think “YES! This is going to be amazing! And gorgeous, and I was made for this!”… and then I gave birth. And you know what?! it WAS amazing, and she IS gorgeous. But.. where the heck are my magic fairies?? and my hair is a MESS.. no matter how loud I sang no chirping birds came to my rescue. Instead, I was wearing a diaper with an ice pack.

Then it was time to breastfeed. Let me tell you, I had read a million blogs and forums about the difficulties of giving birth, about postpartum, about sleep training and everything else. Never breastfeeding. When people asked me if I was going to breastfeed my baby, and this happened A LOT, many times by men! It was a no brainer, of course I was going to breast feed. When I tried, it HURT. I had a milk delay and even when my milk came in, my daughter and I just couldn’t quite get the latch right. Breastfeeding my daughter wasn’t the pictures that you see scrolling through social media where the mom is happily cuddling her baby. It was cracked and bleeding nipples, it was feeding my daughter while I cried, crying because it hurt, and crying because I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I wasn’t enough. After I fed her I was on an intense pumping schedule because it was so important to me that if my daughter wasn’t getting it straight from me that she was at least drinking my milk. I remember for about a month and a half to two months I was just topless all of the time. I went to the lactation consultant almost daily. I put so much pressure on myself to breastfeed because it felt like that is what I was supposed to do, and when I wasn’t perfect right away I was failing and failing HARD. One day, it just clicked and we just did it. I’d also like to add my husband was a God send during this time especially. If it wasn’t for his unwavering support and constant validation I would have gone insane. Another reason why it is SO important to have a support system during this time. I loved breastfeeding her because it gave me some validation. But is that where I should have been looking for it? I wanted to do it, and with a lot of work, I could do it. What about all of the mamas who simply can’t? I never knew all of the struggles that women go through to feed their babies. And you know what? We are ALL doing a phenomenal job. Our babies are fed, happy, and thriving.

When my son was born, I sort of knew what to expect. I knew that post birth is pure bliss, and joyful, and so incredible. My husband actually set up my phone and recorded when my son was born, and got that perfect reaction of happiness like you can never fully explain to anyone else. But this time around I also knew that I would be slowly walking hunched back to the restroom terrified to go. I knew that I would be in a giant mesh diaper and wouldn’t be walking out of there in a few hours completely made up, hair washed and straightened waving to adoring fans a la Kate Middleton. This time I didn’t even pack my make up. HA! How hopeful I was the first time around. This time, the pictures I stared at weren’t the perfectly made up mamas, gorgeous and poised. They were pictures of the messiness and realness of two under two. When my son was born, I just stared. He latched on right away and we’ve been attached ever since. I squealed when my baby girl came toddling in to my room, my gosh I missed her, and I hugged her so tight. My husband and I introduced them to each other as we clung on to our new normal and to each other. It wasn’t glamorous, I was chowing down on chili cheese fries because that was all I wanted, but it was beautiful. MY beautiful.

Looking through all of the pictures from our trip, I was so happy with how many memories we made. How many times we hugged and kissed, and how many times my babies genuinely laughed with their whole perfect little bodies. But behind the pretty pictures? After the dancing videos? There was a mama and papa who got no sleep because neither baby got accustomed to the time change, or the change in their surroundings and took turns waking up multiple times a night. There are teething tantrums, and overly tired tantrums. I lost count of how many times I had to hover over my son and feed him as we were driving, with the side of his car seat digging in to my ribs. Not the safest, but a mama needs to soothe her baby and we were always in the middle of a winding road when he suddenly felt like he couldn’t go another second without me.

We have beautiful pictures, gorgeously made up, outfits well thought out pictures. But my favorite? The messy, the funny, the my heart is going to explode, the raw and the real. The ones that tell a story. Sometimes, the story is “we had an amazing day! Everything went well and everyone is happy!” other times it is more like “we had a fun day. You both cried at different times, sometimes at the same time. Please go to sleep, but I love you and I will miss you.”

I still look at pretty pictures of the perfect families on instagram, and I would be lying if I didn’t sometimes sigh and think wow, they totally have it together! But is there such a thing? I do compare myself with other moms sometimes, its a slippery slope on the ‘gram. But I find that those comparisons don’t stick around for long. Sometimes, I am the beautiful mama with the perfectly smiling babies. My husband was home so I got to wash my hair AND brush it, and we ooze ‘what, like it’s hard?!’ Awesomeness. Sometimes, I am the mama with the messy bun that stays up even after I’ve taken out my hair tie. The mama mindlessly scrolling with spit up stains on my shirt, that in all honesty I’m not sure are even from that day. The mama that locks herself in the bathroom for 5 minutes to cry, wipes her tears and comes out dancing and smiling at her babies.

We are all trying our best, for the ones that matter the most. Regardless of what your picture looks like, it changes and constantly. Those perfect mamas, they struggle too. Maybe more than we realize, how hard is it to get your babe to pose perfectly AND stay still AND clean all of the time?!

Momming is HARD. Amazing, but hard. And its ok, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

Dr. Ford, I Hear You. I See You. I BELIEVE You.

When I first started really committing to starting my new adventure in to blogging, I was hoping to stay neutral when possible and not even touch on politics. In my personal life, this has not been the position that I take as I am pretty vocal about where I stand. I want to make sure that I provide an inclusive environment for all mamas that may have different beliefs than I.  However, I could not stay silent on this issue. Isn’t that kind of the lesson that Dr. Ford has sacrificed herself to remind us? I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!! I wrote down my initial feelings after watching the entire trial.

Watching the hearings and the strong, courageous Dr. Ford recount her traumatic experience I was constantly moved to tears. I lost count of how many times I would pause it and hug my girl and beg God or whoever was listening to please protect my daughter and my sister. I actually do this daily.

I want to say THANK YOU to women and men I admire that have so courageously, unselfishly and POWERFULLY shared their stories (especially my friends who have shared publicly) and to my very dear and self made friend who despite not always having support by her own family  constantly champions for women in EVERY arena.

Because of all of you I pray that maybe one day, especially in my daughters life time she will not fear for her safety SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE IS A WOMAN an actual BURDEN in this day. I wish that some day when her daughter excitedly shares that she got accepted to an amazing university she can wholeheartedly be happy and excited instead of immediately checking for the rape count in the area like I did with my baby sister- like I still constantly do. I hope that by holding rapists, assailants, and “horny teenagers” accountable it will be the beginning of women actually living their life without having to constantly look over their shoulder. I hope that one day instead of telling my sister to always look around her and make eye contact with any man she sees, ask her not to look at her phone while she is alone, not go in to restrooms alone and harassing her with data and stories until she is basically fearful every second of every day, men will learn to have basic decency and respect and leave us alone. I wish that one day as mothers we can feel at peace with our daughters experiencing life on their own instead of having constant conversations of which preschools and camps have constant camera surveillance.

As a woman I should not need to be fearful of going out with my children alone, yet this week I’ve already seen and heard 6 different stories about women and children being targeted. I should not have to make basic plumber or any home appointments only when my husband is home because I don’t want to be alone in my home when a man comes.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: LISTEN. BELIEVE.

Also, don’t perpetuate rape culture. These “funny” pictures of naked women, the crude uncomfortable jokes.. we are HUMAN BEINGS, EQUAL, not play things for your amusement. While sharing these “casually” might seem harmless, while some even BOAST about offending others, just remember that someone is watching and they can see something like that and take it literally, they can run with it. Luckily with all of the uprising of strong women and the good men standing behind us we are showing that we will not stand for it any longer.

Lastly for the ones who have never dealt with assault, who have never feared for their safety, who have never had to call campus security or gone to customer service at a store to walk them to their car because the sun happened to be down. THIS IS WHY WOMEN DONT REPORT. Because they get re victimized. Because sometimes, it is easier to keep your mouth shut and that is the most horrific crime of all.

Again, thank you to all of the courageous survivors who have so fearlessly taken back their power and shared their story. I hear you. I see you. I BELIEVE You.

 

About

Welcome to Mind Your Maddens! I am Jaquelyn Madden, head ‘minder’ of two sweet baby Maddens, their papa Madden, and one rambunctious puppy at heart, Chuey Madden. This is my online journal, where I love to document my life and all the new things I discover along the way as a fairly new thirty-something mama juggling two under two, lover to my man, and maintaining my own identity in between.

When I had my sweet baby girl, I was so wrapped up in her world (still am!) that I hardly came up for air. I was so set on handling everything on my own even if it meant that I was often stressed and exhausted! By the time my darling baby boy came around, I learned the hard way that I simply could not live that way anymore. Mamas, that old cliché is immensely true, IT TAKES A VILLAGE. There is nothing more amazing than hearing an “I get it!” from a fellow mama, or an “Oh my gosh, Me Too!”

As we have grown, so many of my close friends and old school acquaintances have become parents and I love connecting with so many on this level. Throughout my motherhood journey, starting from pregnancy, I would write long posts about my thoughts and feelings on facebook. Many of my mom friends have urged me to start a blog. The more I would share these types of posts, the more my friends and even some distant classmates would reach out to me and tell me how much they agreed with what I was saying or privately message me wanting to discuss more.

My goal is to create an online community where we can share experiences, mom hacks, fun activities and favorite tips, and products. Motherhood connects us all in the deepest and most beautiful way, but can sometimes feel so isolating. Mamas, I see you. I strongly hope that my words resonate with you, and that we can connect and learn from each other and even share a few laughs while aboard this roller coaster of a life time we call motherhood! Xox

3 Mama Mantras

Surviving one sip of coffee at a time.

carissawoophotography.com

You know when you see quotes and you just feel them in your soul? I have a whole board dedicated to them on Pinterest and even have several of them saved on my phone. I always feel like they give me a boost at the right time. Something about them, especially when they resonate with you makes you feel like you’re not alone. Someone out there is going through or has been in the same place/emotional state that you are. There are three quotes that I call my Mama Mantras that I live by and a few that I repeat not only to myself (often) but also to my friends. I have found that it has helped me and my friends in different stages in our lives but especially on the motherhood rollercoaster.

  1. “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day”- Alice M. Earle

If I could have only one saying that I repeat over and over to myself daily this would be it, and I do! Do you ever have those days? You just feel like you’ve failed? Whether the babies were having tantrums, or you didn’t get to do anything you set out to do, we all have days where we feel completely unsuccessful. There are so many days when I wake up with the best intentions with grandiose plans of what I’m going to achieve and then from the second one (or both!) babes wake up it just feels like a struggle. There are days when my husband calls to check in on us around 10 am and I feel like I’ve lived three days already and I am ready to go to bed. Yet when it is (finally!!) bed time, and I scroll through all of the pictures and videos from the day in my phone (I now have over 16,940 pictures and 1,775 videos even the Verizon guy was impressed.) I have so many pictures of my babies hugging each other and playing together. I have videos of us being outside and truly just enjoying each other, and laughing together. It is such a great reminder of how much good there is in every day and especially that even if the day was hard on me, my babies didn’t know it. I met their needs, when they cried mama was there to pick them up, to feed them, to play with them and most of all to just love on them! You are doing SO much better than you give yourself credit for Mama. You are rockin it!

2.  “It takes a Village”

This is a popular one among so many mama groups, and for good reason! It truly does take a village and it is so important for moms to find their tribe. When my daughter was born, I shut the world out. I wanted so badly to do it all on my own. There were so many parenting apps, and chat groups I was a part of that basically attacked any mom who complained about a rough day, or expressed how overwhelmed or tired she was. I remember specifically reading a post where a mom stated that her three year old was having major tantrums, was needy and she was feeling overwhelmed and just completely over it! In a time where we need to lift each other up, offer up a “You got this!” she was attacked. Immediately there were messages like “You should be so grateful, I would give anything to deal with those tantrums again” and “you should be grateful you can even have children” While I am very empathetic to the struggles of fertility, feeling overwhelmed does not in any way indicate that you love your child any less. Lets be real here, momming is HARD. Isn’t it so ironic, that something that connects us all on a deep and beautiful level can also make us feel so isolated? I remember any time that I would express any type of frustration or feeling of tiredness or just being overwhelmed, I would quickly follow it up with an “but we are just so grateful, I mean really its just the best thing ever!” and in all honesty it is, it is the hardest-greatest-frustrating-beautiful-rollercoaster ride, and venting on your hard days doesn’t change that! I can never put in to words the relief I feel when I can vent about a rough day, or teething, or sleep regression and not feel judged. My daughter met a little boy in a Mommy and Me class, and they were inseparable. I invited the boy and his parents to my daughters first birthday and I was so excited when they came. What is even better is that our first borns get along so well and we were both pregnant together and now our second borns will have a built in bestie as well. She has been such a saving grace for me. On the days that things are going crazy, I will call her and she’ll come right over, or will invite us over and vice versa and it helps so much! The babes love to play together and it gives us both a break. We have found a few friends this way and while we love our friends without babies, its nice to be able to go out to dinner with a couple who don’t bat an eye when your baby is “singing” at the top of their lungs and who not only don’t care but have something to add when you talk about baby poop! I encourage you to go out there and find your tribe, mamas! I know it can be extremely intimidating to go in to a group of women, or to strike up a conversation, but I also know that all of us are searching for a place to feel like we belong, to be seen.

3.  “You can’t pour out of an empty cup”

While I’m positive famous people have said this in various ways, it only actually stuck with me when my mom said it to me after an especially tough day. Isn’t it so amazing that sometimes even when we are grown the most influential words still come from our mothers? Also, terrifying! I’ve got a lot to live up to. Back to the quote! This is so important mamas! INVEST IN YOURSELF. YOU are WORTHY. Did you know that? I know it is so easy to forget. So much of our thoughts, energy, love and time are invested into our tiny humans, our husbands, and our home that we forget to think about ourselves. But it is so true that you can not give if there is nothing left. Take time for yourself, even if it is 5 min in the bathroom – alone. Even if it is a long shower. Even if it is walking the aisles at Target. Clear your head, breathe. Before you are a mother, before you are a wife, you are a woman. Nurture that woman, remember her, treat her, empower her, love her for she is Amazing. If you ever feel less than, remember who these babies depend on. Who those sparkling little eyes look for, who they smile at, and who they wrap their arms around. We wish our children could see themselves through our eyes, how magical they are. What would we see, if we saw ourselves through our child’s eyes?