Motherhood

Curran Apple Orchard

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There are a lot of really hard things about having a toddler, but in the past few months I’ve found a group of fellow moms with kids about the same age as Jack and it’s been super fun watching him forge friendships with other kids, and it’s been a godsend for me to have other women around me who GET it and are in the trenches too.

Fall has been extra fun this year as we get to do fall activities together! One mama put together an apple orchard field trip for us all, so we all trekked out to Curran Apple Orchard in University Place and learned about apples! It was super fun, even though Jack lost interest halfway through and charged off to explore the orchard on his own. And thankfully the weather was sunny, if brisk, until it started to drizzle right before we left.

Watching this kid discover the world is so fascinating and special. Next week we head to a farm field trip, and sometime this month we’ll hit up a pumpkin patch because duh. I can’t wait!

Moroccan Inspired Blessingway

Moroccan Blessingway Party

What is a "Blessingway," you might be asking? A blessingway is kind of like a baby shower for the new mama.  In our culture there's a lot of importance and pomp and circumstance given to a new baby.  Which is fair enough, a new human is exciting and should be celebrated!  But in all the hullaballoo about the baby, the fact that this other new creature is also being birthed-- the mother-- is forgotten and ignored.  We just expect women to shift into this new, completely life-altering role, as if it was like changing a pair of underwear.  

But it's not.  It IS life altering.  It IS important and deserving of creating a sacred celebration for.  Mothers deserve honoring, just as much as a new baby.  And that's what a blessingway is-- a celebration and honoring of the woman making the huge transformation from regular human to mother human.  I was given a blessingway by my best friends when I was 36 weeks pregnant and it was so lovely, so I wanted to do the same for them, now that they are both in their final month of pregnancy!

I'll pop the sources for everything I can link to down at the bottom of this post if you're wanting to throw a similarly styled party!  A lot of the stuff is either DIY or craigslist/thrifted, so some things I won't be able to link, but hopefully you can find something similar!

So what does one do at a blessingway?  Want to throw one for your pregnant mama friend? Here are some ideas for blessingway activities!  I'm not into the hokey activities that often accompany a baby shower, and thankfully blessingway activities are much more beautiful and simple.  Obviously you can come up with your own way to celebrate the new mother, but if you're looking for somewhere to start, here are some great things to incorporate:

Labor Bracelets
Get a long piece of string/twine.  Long enough to go around everyone's wrists in a circle.  Have everyone stand in a circle, and then pass the string around to everyone, wrapping the string around each wrist once or twice.  With everyone connected, have each person give the mother an affirmation or blessing, then cut the string between each person and have them tie it into a bracelet.  The bracelet stays on until the new mama goes into labor and then you cut it off!

Mother affirmation bead necklace
You can either have each person bring a bead to the blessingway, or have some beads ready if you don't want to make people procure a single bead.  Each person adds a bead to the new mama's empty necklace string/cord and as she adds it, gives an affirmation for labor or motherhood.  The mama can wear this or bring it to her labor so she can remember the affirmations as she's laboring.

Foot soak
Get a little tub big enough for the mama to put her feet in, put hot water in and some epsom salt and/or essential oils (make sure they are safe for a pregnant woman).  You can also get some oil and rub her feet after she's done soaking

Belly Henna
I had this done at my blessingway and it was so fun!  If you're decent at henna, you can get some henna and do a henna belly mandala design yourself, or find a local henna artist and have her do a gorgeous belly henna!

Flower crowns
This one is just for fun, but I love flower crowns.  At my blessingway they just got a bunch of flowers and the stuff to make flower crowns and we all made one.  For the blessingway I just threw I decided to just make two custom flower crowns for the two new mamas so they felt special and like mother goddesses. I've got a faux flower crown tutorial you can use, it works the exact same for real flowers.

Labor affirmation prayer flags
This is something I tried to do at my own baby shower actually, but it just didn't quite pan out. You can create some square blank prayer flags using just fabric, rope, and hem tape (you can use my bunting tutorial, this is exactly how I made the flags for the blessingway I just threw-- it's no sew!).  I just created white, blank flags, and we all went around writing labor affirmations on them, so they can hang the flags in their labor/birthing space and look at it while laboring. Labor affirmation examples are: Your body was made for this, Your body knows how to do this, Breathe, I am choosing love not fear, each wave has a purpose, open open open, my body opens easily and naturally, my breath surrounds my baby and opens the way out, I trust my intuition.

Oh, and make tasty snacks because everyone loves tasty food.  And hopefully your pregnant buddy has enough room in her torso still to eat lots of tasty things.

Macrame Table Runner : World Market | Colorful plates + cups : Michaels | White plates : Crate + Barrel | Poufs : D+K Renewal | Wooden Flatware : Amazon | Gold Sequin Backdrop (similar) : Drop it Modern | Table : DIY | Peacock Chair (similar) : Facebook Marketplace | Dip Dye Ombre Napkins  (similar, similar) : DIY | Rugs : Craigslist
 

Outfits: 
Kristina's Dress: Free People
Amy's Top: Free People
My dress : Thrifted | my shoes : c/o Modcloth | My hat (similar) : Forever 21


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Eight Months

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Eight months old, this little one is.  It's so weird to think of him as a little newborn lump.  I remember being excited when he kinda sorta touched a page of the book I was reading him.  Now he has such a grip I can barely wrench that book out of his little paws.  Everyone who meets him says he's the happiest baby they've ever seen and his smile is the greatest and best thing ever.  I have a feeling he's going to be a funny, opinionated kid who makes friends with everyone he meets.  He's almost never snuggly because he is constantly moving, but lately he's been more clingy than usual when he's tired, so I've been letting him nap and sleep on and next to me.  Today he was curled up next to me on the couch and it was so precious I could hardly stand it.  

I'm trying to figure out the balance of mom-hood and independent-adult-hood.  For some reason, it doesn't seem like men have quite this crisis.  Perhaps it's because our culture tells them from childhood that they are the breadwinners and will work all day to support the family, and then they'll come home and spend time with the family then, and on the weekends.  I don't really feel like 100% stay at home mom life is what I'm designed for, but I also don't want to miss out on Jack's childhood and the moments I can never get back while I'm pursuing a dream outside of motherhood.  I don't know what that balance looks like but I'm pretty sure it's messy as hell.  

Mother's Day Session

I met up with my girl AlisaMarie at Anchorage's Mann Leiser Greenhouses a few weeks before Mother's Day to do a fun little shoot with my little man.  AlisaMarie also did our first family session back when Jack was only a couple months old. In our year living back in Alaska I didn't go out much and make a ton of friends, but AlisaMarie was one person I connected with and while I'm excited to head back to Tacoma, I'm also super bummed I couldn't pack her and her boys up and smuggle them down too.  If you're in Anchorage and need some photos hit up Sons and Daughters Photography, she'll do you right.

Motherhood is a strange and contradictory experience. One moment I'm laughing with Jack, the next I'm screaming with rage, the next I'm snuggled beside him, the next I'm bogged down with despair, and so on. I don't find fulfillment through motherhood, necessarily. I've sometimes wondered if I could "just" be a mom, If I didn't need to bring in an income, but I can't yet tell if I would go batshit crazy without having my own businesses and pursuits.  I know some women who thrive as mothers and find themselves in motherhood, but I feel more like the opposite-- that I've lost some of myself.  Some days it feels more like I've lost my mind, especially on days when I'm alone all 24 hours with Jack, with no other human interaction.  

But I'm learning, slowly, what I need to do to make motherhood work for me.  What systems I need in place so that I don't lose my mind, what things I need to weave into my life to hold on to my independent personhood, and most importantly when I need to ask (or beg) for help or reprieve.  It's a damn messy ordeal, sometimes I'm ashamed at how horribly I've coped with the change, but I also try to remember how much change and transition has happened (and continues to happen) over the past year and give myself grace.  

Tiered Dress : c/o Modcloth (a few years ago) | Flower Crowns : Mojave Moon | sheer dress : brought by AlisaMarie

Backyard fun

We dodged mosquitos for an afternoon and enjoyed a sunny day in the backyard a few weeks ago, and I snagged some pictures of my little explorer while we hung out.  It's wild how different he is even just a few weeks later.  I feel like his mobility is accelerating at an exponential amount right now.  Just yesterday he pulled himself up to standing on an ottoman and all of a sudden I look over and he's standing up!  He army crawls everywhere and I almost feel like he'll go from army crawling to walking because he is so mobile with the army crawl I don't think he'll bother with a regular crawl.  We shall see.  Basically nowadays whenever he's not asleep I have to be monitoring him constantly.  Gone are the days of putting him down and going and doing a thing without worrying about him putting everything in his mouth, climbing up on things, and falling over.  It's a weird juxtaposition of feeling proud of his newfound abilities, and disappointment of my newfound loss of independence.  At least when he was less mobile I could get stuff done while he was laying around playing with toys on the ground.  Now I turn my head for a second and he's off to attempt climbing up the side of a couch or something!

Part of me was feeling disappointed in myself for not booking as many photography jobs this year as last year, but honestly I think it's a blessing in disguise.  Shooting weddings with a baby is a new level of stress, and since pretty much all my weddings this year are this month, I'll be pretty relieved to have them all done and under my belt.  

I know a lot of women seem to love breastfeeding but it's one of my least favorite things about having a baby.  I do feel like it helped my bond with Jack and it's a hell of an experience to feed and grow a person with food that your body makes, but it's also this strange invisible anchor that keeps you from being away from your baby for longer than like 2-3 hours at a time.  Like a baby bungee cord.  Oh, did you like that brief taste of freedom?  LOL, too bad, come back and feeeeed meeee.  There are a lot of people with strong feelings and thoughts about breastfeeding.  Women feel bad if they aren't able to breastfeed. Women who have to go back to work shortly after giving birth have to pump to feed their children.  Breastfeeding can be painful, stressful, emotional, depressing, joyful, comforting, annoying as hell, among a multitude of other things.  Part of me feels like saying I find breastfeeding annoying and stressful will make women who can't breastfeed frustrated that I'm complaining about something they would love to be able to do.  That's probably valid, in maybe the same way that complaining about a difficult pregnancy experience would be frustrating to someone who can't conceive.  But I also know there are tons of women out there who feel the same way about breastfeeding and are looking forward to the day when their kids are finally weaned.

I plan on breastfeeding Jack (hopefully) until he's a year old, and then I'll see how things go.  It's definitely convenient to have food for him wherever we go, especially when flying.  Also can we talk about how clean it is?  Feeding a baby solid food is hella messy, y'all.  Sticky faces, fingers, clothes, tables, everything.  Everything sticky.  Breastmilk has such a clean and convenient delivery system.

Okay, I don't know how this turned into an examination of breastfeeding when it was supposed to just be a post about playing on a blanket in the backyard on a sunny day. Oh motherhood ramblings.