Squashing unhealthy views on motherhood

Here’s the thing about being a mom that people tell you, but you never really, really understand until you become one.

Motherhood, is seriously hard. In fact, it’s the hardest thing you will ever, ever, EVER do in your entire life.

Of course, it’s also the most rewarding, beautiful and amazing thing you’ll ever get to be.

One of the hardest things about motherhood are all the feelings you don’t expect to have — and I’m not talking about watching your child fail or have their heart broken for the first time — these feelings come with the territory.

I’m talking about all of the internal interrogation you subject yourself to, time and time again. Often, these feelings of self-doubt are completely unfounded, completely made up in your head and exacerbated by your own mind, by that constant feeling that you’re somehow not good enough.

I bet if you gathered a room full of mothers and asked them to raise their hands if they ever felt not good enough, felt like they were somehow failing their child, every.SINGLE.one of them would not only raise their hand, but stand up.

It’s not something we’re proud to admit, us moms, that maybe we’re not strong enough, not patient enough, not kind enough — in our weakest moments, some of us might even question if we love enough.

But we all have those feelings. And while it’s not fair to place blame on any particular thing for those feelings, I think it’s time we start calling out the things that make it a lot worse.

Facebook. The internet. Parenting magazines. Blogs. Friends. Twitter. Family. Other women. Other mothers. Instagram. Advice columns. Stupid memes. Pro-this-and-that groups. Doctors. Professionals. Television shows. Oh, and did I mention, SOCIAL MEDIA.

The other day I was perusing my Facebook timeline on my lunch break. I came across a motherhood meme from a new mother friend of mine. And I read it, and it made me mad. So I read it again, I tried to with softer eyes, less feminist, mother lion, hear-me-roar eyes, and it STILL made me mad. Because while the message seems all sweet and lovey dovey, there’s so much hatred the mother I was three years ago feels because of that meme. And I don’t like feeling that way.

«You can tell a baby is being well taken care of when they are full of joy.» 

Seriously? Whoever made this can go shove it. I have taken care of my babies for well over six years now, between growing them in my body and worrying about every drop of caffeine I put in it or if I had enough veggies while I was nourishing them. And once they made their ways into the world, I continued to care for them. My daughter was a «difficult» baby. She struggled to latch, I had to either wear a shield to nurse her without both of us ending in tears (although sometimes, we still did) or pump for days on end. She went 10 days without pooping once (with plenty of wet diapers), which was «unheard» of for breastfed babies. She cried a lot. Sure, she smiled too, but those first four or five months of motherhood, my baby wasn’t full of joy. She struggled with gastric issues, she couldn’t sleep unless on her tummy (which is a huge no-no) and she was stressed out. But you know what? I took care of my baby. I LOVED my baby. I smiled and cooed at her. I lived on her giggles, even if they were few and far between. She may not have always exuded joy, but she was loved. And cared for. And I’ll be damned if some stupid meme is going to make me feel like I didn’t take care of my baby, don’t take care of my baby, because she’s not a bundle of fucking sunshine.

I know, I know, I’m allowing myself to get all wound up because of some meme that meant well. But isn’t that how a lot of things we end up beating ourselves up over start out? As well meaning? Nowadays, the pressure is really, really heavy on mothers, suffocating at times, because it seems like no matter what we do, it’s not good enough.

You’re a stay-at-home mom? Awesome! You’re dedicating your life to your children, you gave up a career so you can be there for every little moment, that is a blessed and beautiful thing. Except now, you’re lazy. Now,  you’re an insult to women everywhere because you’re «just a mom,» «just a housewife.» You know, you’re just THE single most important person to your family, how dare you not want to work a 9-5 job in the name of women everywhere to raise your babies?

You’re a working mom? Awesome! You’re showing your children that women can have whatever they want — a family, a marriage, a career — ROCK on sister. Except, don’t you feel guilty that you’re not there to see your child pull themselves up for the first time? Take their first step? Are you even really a «full-time» mom if your children spend 40 hours a week in daycare? I mean seriously, you’re going to let OTHER people raise YOUR kids. What kind of monster are you?

See what I mean? The list goes on and on. And in this day and age, you can’t win, no matter what you do.

So here’s the truth. I don’t know what the answer is to all these stipulations, all this pressure we feel to be everything to everyone.

But I do know this. We need to build ourselves up, build each other up, embrace your decisions with confidence, because even if no one else in the world agrees with what you’re doing (co-sleeping, bottle-feeding, raising your kids vegan), if you make your choices based on what YOU think is best for your children, you’re going to start to feel a lot better about those decisions. So bottle feed if that’s what works. Let all 5 of your children sleep in your bed. Instead of looking at another mother and thinking «I would NEVER do that,» let’s look with loving, open eyes, «That might not work for me, but kudos to her.» Let’s accept that there isn’t one magical right way to do everything, and instead of offering critiques, let’s offer support.

Once you stop listening to all those other voices,  you’re going to be able to hear another one a lot better — your own.

And when you’re raising babies, your voice is the most important one to listen to.

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Who are WE to redefine courage?

I may lose some friends over this.

I may lose some followers.

But at the end of the day, I’m tired of being quiet about things that stir something inside of me.

It’s probably no surprise to most people who know me that I’m very pro-women’s rights, probably more liberal than anything else and strongly in favor of equality. As a contrast, I too attend church, I am covered in tattoos and understand it makes me less desirable to some employers and I too am a mother who wants her children to grow up in a world which is morally sound.

I’ve been biting my tongue on this whole Caitlyn Jenner thing, because really, why jump on the bandwagon? She’s not the first person to transition, perhaps the most famous one, but there have been many before her and there will be many after her.

And honestly, I’m not even here to debate transgender with anyone, because I am 100% in FULL support of the movement and nothing will change my mind. (Probably how most people against it feel as well).

But I am here to set something straight.

Something I’ve been seeing a lot of lately and am really, really sick of.

Caitlyn Jenner was awarded the ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Award. The jist of this entails: «The Ashe Award is one of the most prestigious in sports. Recipients reflect the spirit of Arthur Ashe, possessing strength in the face of adversity, courage in the face of peril and the willingness to stand up for their beliefs no matter what the cost. The award is inspired by the life that Ashe lived, using his fame and stature to advocate for human rights, although, at the time, those positions may have been unpopular and were often controversial

A lot of people are upset about this. A lot of people are irate because there are others who demonstrated «more courage» than Caitlyn Jenner did. In fact, there are A LOT of people who say what Caitlyn Jenner did doesn’t display courage at all.

THIS. This is where I have a problem. Who are WE to redefine courage?

Google courage. Open a dictionary and look it up. Hell, ask Siri. Chances are, you’re going to see something along these lines:

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one.

See what I mean? No where in that definition, or any definition, does it say «courage is the ability to do something that frightens one, EXCEPT FOR» and then list a series of amendments that are not courageous. It’s simple. It’s doing something even though it scares you. It’s facing YOUR fears, whatever they might be.

So maybe for Caitlyn Jenner, putting on some heels and picking out a dress IS showing courage. Maybe it’s not for most women, but for her, it IS. And just because this seems like a small issue to everyone else, doesn’t mean WE get to determine what is or isn’t hard for her to do.

You know what was fearful for me? Putting on a bikini and wearing it out in public. My stomach is covered in stretch marks, has more fluff than I’d like, but you know what? I’m trying my damndest to love my body and that means getting over my issues with wearing a bikini. Is that particularly courageous to anyone? No, probably not. Did it feel like I conquered something when I wore it out in public? YES, it did. And it felt damn good to do that. And YOU don’t get to define what is courageous to me.

Just like you don’t get to define what courage is to Caitlyn Jenner.

Here’s the thing. I’m not saying you have to accept the transgender community; I’m not saying you have to like Caitlyn Jenner; I’m not saying YOU should think she deserved the Arthur Ashe Award over anyone else; I’m not telling you how to feel at all because it’s NOT MY PLACE to tell someone how they feel.

But I am saying this: WE do not dictate what courage is for someone else. WE do not get to redefine the word courage because it’s being used for someone who is homosexual, transgender or anything else outside of the realm of what we deem «normal.»

I am NOT a courageous woman just because I have ovaries. I am NOT a courageous woman just because I am capable of bearing children.

I AM a courageous woman because everyday I choose to do something I’m afraid of, whether that’s wearing a bikini or fighting for equality.

Just like Caitlyn Jenner IS displaying courage because everyday she does something she is fearful of.

And based on the reaction most of the public has, I understand just how damn courageous she is.

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Foo foos, pee pee and mommy guilt

His name is Braeburn and he has a problem.

He’s two and a half years old and he needs a foo foo (binky, paci) to go to sleep. 

And not only that. But he’s also … not potty trained. 

That’s right. My son is over the age of two and when he lays his sweet baby head down to sleep he wants a pacifier. And forget sitting him on one of those tiny toilets. He is completely and utterly freaked out about that entire concept and I just can’t bring myself to toilet traumatize his darling little baby bum yet. 

And it basically makes me a shameful, neglectful, irresponsible mother according all to the perfect internet Leave-it-to-Beaveresque mamas out there. Which are a lot, by the way.

I’m losing sleep, fingernails and probably growing some grey hairs over Braeburn’s paci habit. When it was time for Pear Bear to give up her binkies, it didn’t really phase her. She never really used them anyhow, she just liked to hold them in her tiny baby fists. So when we took her to Build-a-Bear and let her build her very own binky bunny, she went to sleep that night still clutching her precious foo foos — in the foot of her new stuffed accomplice. 

It was easy, breezy and happened long before she passed 24 months of age. 

Braeburn, however, isn’t the same. He adores his foo foos, he’s cutting all four of his two-year molars and the poor thing is just so damn angelic when he asks for it I would probably buy him 50 more if it were possible for him to use them. 

Do I know he needs to give up his paci habbit, yes. Do I know the long-term impacts of using a binky on a child? Yes. 

But I also know what my baby needs. And I know what our family doctor says. AND our pediatric dentist. And all are in agreement that by limiting his use of it to naps and nighttime and by weening him off of it by the age of three, will result in him speaking just fine and with no more damage to his mouth than if I pull them from him right.this.second. 

If you make the mistake of googling «when to get rid of the paci,» you’re going to pull up about a million results of crap. You’ll find a few legitimate sources (which still shouldn’t replace the opinion of your family doc and dentists), but ultimately, you’re going to find a zillion posts from all those momvice sites (see what I did there, I combined mom with advice, because that’s what those sites are). Well-intentioned mamas post their questions «my son is seven months old, when should I get rid of his pacifier?» And while there are a few heartfelt responses here and there, for the most part, this is the type of advice these women are getting:

«Never offer one. Then you won’t have to get rid of them.»

Gee, thanks for that piece of advice. That’s terribly helpful considering the mom already let her child use one. Thanks. Now I’m going to go beat myself up over the last seven months of usage. ASSHAT.

«Allowing children to use pacifiers and bottles past the age of 1 is ridiculous.»
 Wow, that’s quite a gem there, isn’t it. Thank you, internet dad, for calling me ridiculous and not actually using facts or anything else to back up your claim. Just straight up ridiculous. ASSHAT

«I don’t recall that any of my kids used a pacifier. It’s a substitute for good parenting.»
Oh, OK. Well I did carry this baby in MY uterus for 40 weeks and eight days, so naturally once I popped his giant ten-pound body out of mine I decided to be a shitty parent. ASSHAT.

«6 months. But there is a point where kids try to get rid of them on their own. It’s the parents most often that continue to plug them in.»
Yep, you caught me! I do continue to plug them in his mouth … after he shrieks for 20 minutes asking for his foo foo and chewing on his hands because his teeth are hurting him so damn bad. Thanks for the recommendation of six months, too. WITH NO FACTS. JUST SIX MONTHS. ASSHAT.


Look, here’s the thing about trying to «guilt» moms into feeling bad for their parenting decisions. The ones you really impact, the ones who really give your advice a second thought, are usually the ones who are already beating themselves up. So instead of being helpful, instead of offering them genuine advice for them to consider, you just find a way to make them question themselves more, beat themselves up more, and ultimately, what — make yourself feel better because you were able to belittle a mama 20 states away? That makes you an ASSHAT.


Heaven forbid we support each other. Heaven forbid we think about other mamas’ feelings. Heaven forbid we try to be helpful and not hurtful.

Of course I know not EVERY mother is looking to bully others. It just seems like they’re so much louder than the friendly ones, the ones who really want to lend an ear and offer help. 

So what did we decide about his foo foo and potty habbits? Well, we’re taking it day by day and giving him until the age of three. Right now, he has his foo foo during nap and nighttime. And while not every mama, doctor or dentist may agree with that, this one and ours do, so that’s good enough for me. Does that make me right? Of course not. But if I’ve done the research and asked the questions and found the answers, it’s right for me. It’s right for Braeburn. 

Am I worried about his speech? Not really. There have been OODLES of studies done and the results are very inconclusive when it comes to using a pacifier until the age of three and impact on speech. He already uses bigger words than some of Pearyn’s friends. I understand him. Strangers understand him. There have been no delays or inconsistencies found by the professionals at his school, so we’re going to keep on keeping on. 

And just like his sissy, we’re going to encourage him to like the potty, to sit on it, to get comfortable with it, but we’re not going to force it. I stressed and worried so much over Pearyn being potty trained (because she was a girl afterall and she was supposed to be potty trained much easier and earlier than boys, right!?) that I made us both miserable. So on her third birthday she decided she wanted big girl princess panties and she got them, and never looked back. 

So this time, I’m going to trust myself a lot more and all that googling a lot less. 

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Why we need feminists

Maya Angelou said, “I’m a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.”

Can I get an A-freaking-MEN?

The year is 2015, friends, and yet, we’ve still got famous women and men out their spilling some insipid garbage about what it is to be a feminist and how they’re not? (I’m looking at you, Lady Gaga, with your and I quote “I’m not a feminist, I hail men. I love men. I celebrate American male culture – beer, bars and muscle cars.”) Look, I’m not saying there aren’t certain stereotypes that don’t ring true, but let me just get this out of the way right now:

Being a feminist is:
• Equality

Being a feminist is not (although, you could do these things and still be a feminist, it’s just not required):

• Hating men

• Growing your armpit hair out

• Hating men

• Burning your bra (or not even wearing one)

• Hating men

• Wanting special treatment

• Being angry

• Hating men

• Being unattractive

• Hating men

• Hating sex

• Dating only women

• Hating men

• Shunning motherhood

Did I mention, in order to be a feminist, you DON’T HAVE TO HATE MEN? It’s quite the opposite really. As a feminist, I don’t need to hate men; I fully realize we are equal to men – I’m just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up with those views. So for someone like Lady Gaga with all that prowess and power to sculpt minds to say she’s not a feminist because she loves men, is exactly what’s holding us back. Guess what? I AM a feminist and I love men, I adore my husband, I like beer, I love bars and while I don’t really love muscle cars, that’s not because I believe in equality for all genders, it’s because I think cars are boring.

And let’s not forget Carrie Underwood’s snafu of “I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am a feminist, that can come off as a negative connotation. But I am a strong female.”

Look, I’m not saying you have to be a feminist. I mean, while it’s hard for me to grasp a female not being a feminist, I respect everyone’s decision to choose their belief system. But to say you’re not a feminist because it carries a negative connotation is the coward’s way out. Rather than identifying as a feminist and doing positive things to repair the negative stereotypes, you’ll just keep contributing to them by selling the same bullshit you don’t want to be associated with. 

Not cool, Carrie, not cool.

Yep, we’ve come a terribly long way, and I’m more than thankful the battle that lies ahead for my daughter or myself is far less treacherous than the one previously trekked by the likes of Susan B. Anthony and Gloria Steinem.

But guess what, we’ve still got a hell of a long way to go.

A few weeks back EA announced they’d be including women’s teams in FIFA 16. When I read this news my heart smiled a little. Sure, I don’t really follow soccer or even like it, but adding the female stars representing today’s teams means little girls who do like soccer will get to actually play their idols. Seems pretty cool, right?

Well it did, until a bunch of random bitter peeps decided to use social media to air their concerns, which would be fine, if they weren’t completely sexist and pardon my language, fucking stupid. Didn’t see it for yourself? Peruse this nice screenshot I have:


Gems like: “Who cares about Women?” (oh you know, just humans who were born to women, which consequently, is everyone in the entire world. And thanks for the completely incorrect capitalization of the word ‘women,’ I don’t need to be a feminist to tell you that’s grammatically STUPID.”)

Or my personal favorite: “Lets hope EA haven’t gone to far an added periods,” (Seriously, where to even begin with that garbage. Periods. Haha. Haha. That’s funny. Let’s hope for your sake, sir, that EA didn’t add periods because I’m willing to be you’ve never had a girlfriend if you still think periods are funny. ASSHAT. And let’s hope EA hasn’t raised the vocab level above, what, second grade, because you’re clearly still struggling with things like past tense and the word AND.)

I mean, for reals, society? Feminist or not, if you have a mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, female in your life that you don’t hate, these people are making the rest of us look pathetic. I mean, really, they add female teams to a video game for the first time in like ever and the best you can come up with are some pathetic jokes about periods and not being able to park a bus. Wow. If that’s the best you’ve got then I suggest you surrender now, because we’re definitely smarter, we’re stronger and we’re not going away.

I am a feminist and I’m proud of it. I hope to influence others in my life to have the same strength. I hope by bringing to light what a feminist can be (as opposed to what everyone else thinks it is), it will put a tiny dent in the negative connotation that scares people off.

I’m a feminist, and I like: dresses, high heels, my husband, being a mother, coaching softball, baking cupcakes, writing, reading, whisky, country music, scrapbooking and yoga.

What kind of feminist are you?


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I wore a bikini and the world didn’t end

You may or may not know I turned 30 last week. I’ve slowly started to embrace that this isn’t a terrible thing, but rather, a time for me to be confident in who I finally am. (Or at the very least, start to get comfortable with the idea that the person I hear in my head and see in the mirror is pretty much who I am).


You may or may not have read in the past about my struggles with body issues. Growing up I was never thin, and while I also wasn’t really what you’d consider “overweight,” I was always on the thicker side.  And in my eyes, being even slightly thick, meant I was fat. Whether it was all in my head or in my head because of media, society and marketing, I wore a bikini for three summers before forfeiting to my own body-shaming ways and wearing one pieces or tankinis.

Now, of course, nothing is wrong with one pieces and tankinis, however, the way I felt about my body and myself in ANY swimsuit WAS wrong.

I look back at photos of myself and wish I would have realized then how cute I was. And I don’t say that in a conceited way, I say it from the place of a 30-year-old mother who never wants her children to loathe themselves the way I did. When I was 14 and wore a bikini, I didn’t see the beginning of my figure forming or the ridiculously large bust size I’d recently “busted” out with (hardy har har), I saw stretch marks on my butt and breasts from growing too fast; and I saw too-wide hips that weren’t womanly, but boyish and ugly in my eyes.

I didn’t see cute freckles dotting my face, arms and legs (something people have always complimented me on my whole life), I saw ugly brown spots that formed splotches after being stuck in the sun for too long.

And before there was even a thigh gap to be gaped at, I hated the way my thighs touched, it didn’t matter that they were muscular or looked pretty in tights, I hated that they weren’t skinny.

So you see, part of me being 30 and embracing myself, largely includes me embracing my hips, my bust, thighs, freckles and all the other things I spent too many years hating and hiding.

So despite the fact that I’ve now got even MORE stretch marks on my hips and breasts, despite the fact that I’m a few pounds heavier than I was, despite the fact that I’ve got what Pearyn lovingly refers to as “my stripes” decorating my stomach, I wore a bikini again for the first time in 10 years last week. And I wore it confidently, damnit.

And guess what?

The world didn’t end. People didn’t point fingers and hush giggles, nope, none of that happened.

In fact, I’m pretty sure nobody even thought twice about me because most of the women there were busy worrying about their own bodies, the men were thinking about dunking each other and the kids were so engrossed in playing they wouldn’t have noticed if I entered the pool in a chicken suit.

And you know what? It felt great. It felt liberating. And it felt like for the first time in 10 years, I’ve started to see my body for what it is: a body. It’s not “fat” or “ugly” or “skinny” or “pretty,” it’s just me. It’s the same body that pitched tens of thousands of strikes over my lifetime, the same body that wore my wedding dress and married my husband, the same body that carried my children and the same body that has run countless 5Ks.

And even if I’m 30, even if I’ve got a few more marks and still don’t have that thigh gap, after years of loathing it I’m going to love it.


Because it’s MY body and I think it’s pretty fucking amazing.

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Soy. Carbs. Dairy. Meat. Plastic water bottles left in the hot car. High fructose corn syrup. Dirty produce. Cooked food. Vitamins. Microwaved foods. Your cell phone. Foods with more than five ingredients. Sugar. Caffeine. Diet soda. The chemicals in your cleaners. The chemicals in your make up. Bug spray. Medicine. Birth control. Not taking birth control. Not having babies. Protein shakes. Energy drinks. Fatty foods. Greasy foods.

If you listen to someone somewhere, one of these things is going to kill you. Thanks to Dr. Google and its magical powers, we’re using the internet to not only diagnose our kiddos fevers and coughs, but to become doctors, research scientists and dietitians.

Every once and a while a few of you appear on my blog. Letting me know «why I’m overweight» and what precisely I’m doing wrong (because clearly, there’s no way I am in control of how I look or am choosing to look like this. Why on Earth would anyone want to be on the thicker side?) Thankfully, the self-proclaimed nutrition experts are there to let me know where I went astray. Clearly, it’s the fake soy meat we eat. And the vegan cheese. The vegan cheese that’s free of that evil, evil soy, but contains other items that MUST be dangerous. Or sometimes, it’s because I splurge when I’m out at a restaurant and have a Coke. Don’t I realize what soda is going to do to me? Thankfully, you’re there, trusty internet gurus, letting me know the DEEP, DEEP error of my way.

There’s probably something you should know about me. I’m not a fan of people who assume things. Particularly, I don’t like people who assume things about my life, or anyone else’s for that matter, barring they don’t actually know the person.

Something else you should know about me? I AM a big fan of MODERATION. Recently, I’ve had a few naysayers on my blog calling me irresponsible for having recipes with soy-based meats in them. I am by no means a nutritionist, dietitian or doctor. I don’t pretend to be. Most of you aren’t either. So let’s leave it to the professionals shall we?

One reader actually informed me they can tell that I’m unhealthy because of my eyes and that I don’t have a «glow.» While I appreciate the concern, I’m going to continue to listen to my doctors (who beg to differ on your opinion of healthy) and not some «anonymous» poster. If you don’t like soy meats, don’t use them. I will admit this: in our household, we do eat the occasional veggie dog from time to time.

We don’t eat seven of them a day and then have some fake chicken nuggets followed up by some soy burgers. That’s not because I think soy meats specifically are going to kill me, it’s because I think consuming, using too much of anything isn’t good for you. Kind of like carbs. I love me some carbs. But if all I ate every single day was carbs, I’d be incredibly unhealthy. If someone sat around eating strictly meat all day for the rest of their life, their cholesterol may not be the best. Too much of anything is usually not a good thing. MODERATION.

Take for example our meal plan this week: we had mushroom barley soup and pretzel rolls for two days, lentil loaf with a veggie and mashed potatoes, an eggplant stirfry, big salads with chick peas and one day we had vegan meatball subs. For lunch, we had peanut butters and jelly, big bowls of broccoli or cauliflower, three bean salads and one day a veggie dog (that did not fall on vegan meatball sub day). Breakfast consisted of lentil sausage links, oatmeal, bananas or coconut yogurt. So out of 21 possible meals in the week, we consumed a fake «meat» product for two of them. TWO.

So please, please don’t try to tell me why I’m chubby. Or that I’m «endangering» my children by letting them have a veggie dog. Instead, why don’t you let ME do the talking about my life and if you like it, you can hang out and join the fun. And if you don’t like it, you can move along to «helping» the next person.

P.S. It’s the two miles on the treadmill and my morning coffee that are making me chubby, I know it!

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Let’s stop the parent bashing already

I’ve said this before and I will more than likely say it again (and again and again): You are the absolute BEST parent you will ever be, BEFORE you have children.

There’s a growing trend on my Facebook friends list. An imaginary, but very evident and very clear line is starting to be drawn.

It’s the non-parents vs the parents.

And folks, let me tell ya, one of us is being really, really unfair to the other.

I get it, as non-parents, you probably get really tired of seeing 95 pictures of my baby’s first bite of carrots. Or maybe you didn’t like reading the gory details of by 18-hour labor, I can understand that. I remember seeing those posts before I had children and sure, I’d roll my eyes and scroll on. But you know what? All those pictures, the videos of my babies’ first steps, the TMI-posts, those are things I write because I’m proud or excited. They’re not designed to offend, tear-down or hurt YOU or any non-parent in any way.

But your posts, the ones about how «no good parent would let XXXXXX happen to their child,» those, they’re critical, they’re mean and they’re rude. Sure, maybe you think they’re funny, and sometimes, they might be. But they’re also funny, because they’re picking at all us parents out here who, guess what, don’t ALWAYS know what we’re doing.

Newsflash, parenting, it doesn’t come with a handy guide, and kids, they’re not like purchasing a car where you just let them know the make and model and everything make sense. No, kids are much, much more complex than that. And just when you think you have them figured out, they change the game on you again.

So you post something maybe you think is harmless. Like a picture of a warning label that appears on a giant tub. It warns you not to let your child play in the giant tub with the lid because they might become trapped in there. And then, well, you know, something really, really awful might happen. Sure enough I had a friend post something on her Facebook about this. And then all the others joined in on the fun: «I hope if you can’t keep your kid out of a big storage tub that you don’t have kids.» Or, «wow, they really need a warning label on that? How smart are parents today.» My favorite would have to be «I don’t know whether to find this label hysterical or be completely scared that it’s needed.»

Hardy har har. Aren’t y’all sooooooooooooooooo funny? Having a kid is sooooooooooo easy. No good parent would let their kid play in a storage bin, duh. Don’t they know it’s dangerous? DUH.

Guess what? When you actually take time to BECOME a parent, which I can only hope you’ll lose the judgmental attitude by then (for the sake of your child, who, like you, will be imperfect), you’ll find that nearly everything in your day-to-day life should come with a warning label. And even if it shouldn’t, you’ll be able to come up with about 1,000 ways it should. Because that’s what happens when you become a parent. You love this tiny little creature so much, that you start to see all the dangers in the world.

Take for example my son’s predilection to jam his chubby baby thighs in his crib slats. Even knowing he only had them stuck in there for oh, three minutes, made me delirious with thoughts of him losing all the blood in his leg and needing it amputated. Or me breaking his tiny little knees trying to get his legs out. Are those things likely to happen in three minutes? Probably not. But when you become a parent, this is the kind of crap that runs through your brain, 24/7.

And you know what? It’s exhausting. EXHAUSTING. In fact, it’s so exhausting, we should invent a different word for it to truly encompass how DAMN exhausting it is, but we can’t, because we’re way too tired.

Guess what else happens when you have a child? All those responsibilities you had before having a child? Yeah, they’re still there. Birthing a child doesn’t automatically include a nanny, a maid or a personal chef. So eventually, you have to start cleaning your house again. And a lot of us go back to work again. And have seemingly normal lives again. Except now, we don’t just have to remember that trash day is Friday and the mortgage is due on the first of the month, we have to remember that little Jimmy has a checkup on Wednesday, Suzie has gymnastics on Tuesday, soccer on Friday and a playdate on Saturday with little Jimmy down the road who can’t have nuts. And let’s not forget when the preschool money is due. Or that the cat needs fed. Or the pile of dishes in the sink. Or that you have a meeting on Wednesday. Or which store your husband is working out of in case you need to call him to pick something up from the grocery store, which you inevitably forgot because you were trying to deal with little Suzie’s meltdown because you won’t let her have a king-size candy bar. And most importantly, don’t forget to schedule time for yourself. Because you wouldn’t want to have a nervous breakdown when all these people are relying on you.

See what I mean? It’s kind of overwhelming to think about all the things we have to think about in a day. And that’s just scraping the surface.

And on top of all this, guess what? Becoming a parent, doesn’t make us immortal super heroes. In fact, it makes us a little more human and a little more imperfect. So have I let my kids play in a storage bin? Probably. If it granted me three minutes of peace and stopped them from screaming, I probably giggled as I watched my four-year-old push around my son in a laundry basket.

And all those dangers you think «I should know about or I shouldn’t even bother becoming a parent,» they sneak up on you out of nowhere. And then they haunt you forever. When Pearyn was still a baby, probably six months old or so, I locked myself out of the house with her in it. Alone. On the loose. With no spare key. That’s probably not something a «good» or «prepared» parent would do, right? So I probably shouldn’t have had kids, right? Because if I could make such a dangerous mistake, surely I’m an unfit mother.

In the 60 seconds it took me to realize what I had done, my instincts took over. I grabbed the ice scraper from my car and broke the basement window. I put a blanket down to hopefully keep the shards of glass from cutting me and I went, with reckless abandon into that broken window and creepy basement, because in the moment I made such an awful mistake, that’s the fastest way I could see to rectify it. I ended up with a small gash on my hand and butterfly stitches. And Pearyn was none the wiser. But I still remember what happened. I still check my purse for my keys 19 times before I leave the house.

It’s easy to think you know everything before you have a tiny human of your own. It’s easy to laugh and point at our mistakes. But just know that while you might be sitting high and mighty now on all your knowledge of «how to raise your non-even-born-yet child,» we parents will be over here waiting for you. We’ll be waiting for you to lock yourself out of the house on accident, we’ll be waiting for your child to fall from a high chair that you swear you tightened as much as you could. And when that happens, most of us, the ones who’ve been where you are, we’ll welcome you with open arms and maybe a really, really stiff drink. Because even though it’s your first time, we’ve been there. And we know how hard it is.

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Reclaiming the word ‘perfect’

You might remember a few posts back I declared my love to the «f» word — feminism.

Yeah, yeah, I’m a feminist, get on board already.

You might also remember this other post I wrote, about my battle with body shaming.

I’d like to say that since fully embracing my woman-power ways that I’d shaken all of those body shaming thoughts, but the truth is, it’s still a battle.

And planning our family trip to the beach this summer, hasn’t done a lot to help with my body confidence. Some days are better than others. I’m struggling with the realization that being 28 (almost 29) makes it harder to lose weight. Harder to tone things. And honestly, I’m not even sure I want to.

I’ve got friends who workout on a regular basis, devoting days to well-tallied meal plans and focusing on one body part at a time, and they’ve seen amazing progress, and I’m happy for them. But honestly, I’m tired of feeling like I’m a project that needs to be fixed. I’m tired of looking at myself that way and overall, it’s a completely unhealthy way to think.

So I complain about it being difficult to lose weight, but in reality, I’m just not wanting to put my time into those things. I enjoy carbs (A LOT), I like desserts and I still have an occasional soda here and there. But you know what else I do? I run. I run 5Ks, I run on my treadmill at home, I run around our block for the three months it’s nice in Ohio. And I’m not saying I’m the fastest, but I’m healthy enough to run three continuous miles; I’m healthy enough to roll around on the floor with my kids; I’m healthy enough to lift my daughter with my legs and let her soar; I’m healthy enough to carry in piles of groceries, on top of my children, my purse and whatever else I have to get through the doorway.

So no, I’m not calorie counting or planning out meals of low-fat, low-carb, low whatever fad diet is going around now, but I’m strong enough and healthy enough to live the life I live well, and I think that’s pretty damn good.

So I decided I’m going to wear a bikini for the first time in well, 10 years? Don’t worry, I don’t mean a «real» bikini. I’m going to get one of those high-waisted gettups that show like an inch or two of skin, tops. And I’m going to find a top that actually supports my gals, not a mute one piece that shoves them together into one giant uni-boob. So what if some people think I shouldn’t be wearing a bathing suit, I’m OK with it and they’re just going to have to get over themselves.

We have this problem in society where we «try» to pass off our judgment as worry. «Oh, that chunky girl shouldn’t be wearing that bathing suit, shouldn’t be happy with her body, doesn’t she know she’s unhealthy and shouldn’t be proud of that?» Or «that skinny girl should go eat a cheeseburger, I bet she has an eating disorder, nobody is that skinny naturally.» What if that chunky girl is healthy? What if she, like me, can run three miles and lift her kids? And what if, Heaven forbid, that skinny girl, really is just skinny? Maybe she eats cheeseburger after cheeseburger and doesn’t gain a pound, so what. We need to quit pointing the finger at others to make ourselves feel better.

As a thicker gal, I’m guilty of skinny-sharming, I’m guilty of the catty comments about a girl with pointy bones jutting out. But do you know why I really made those statements? Because my hip bones weren’t sticking out enough and that’s MY insecurity. I shouldn’t take it upon myself to make it hers too.

Instead of it being thick vs thin or skinny vs curvy, it needs to be us against the real machine churning all this garbage out. Our society. Our media. Our marketing. Somewhere, someone in the big seat decided that being pretty in this millenium meant being skinny. And don’t mistake me, I’m not saying skinny isn’t pretty, I have many svelte friends that are knockouts. I’m saying it’s not fair to define beauty as one damn thing. It’s like saying the only people who are smart are those who understand astrophysics.

It’s unreal, unbelievable and it’s un-fucking-acceptable.

And when you think about it, it’s really NOT little vs big.

Sure, us thicker gals, we’ve basically got rail-thin models shoved down our throats every.single.day. Take for example the problem I keep running into when looking on websites for swimsuits. This bikini top on the right appears in the «special sizes» swimsuit section. The swimwear is described as a «D-cup, ruched, french top.» Yeah, because if that model is sporting a D-cup then I’m a 38ZZZ. I mean for real? If you’re going to go to the trouble of making a «special sizes» section in the first place, maybe you could get a real representation of whatever «special size» you’re catering to.

I’m not just saying this from a ranty, chubby girl standpoint, I’m saying this from a seriously annoyed shopper who has a hard enough time finding a damn swimsuit to fit my boobs, how am I supposed to get a realistic picture of how that would fit me with Ms. A-cup all tucked in there?

And it doesn’t stop there, oh no, practically every body type is subjected to some type of this garbage. Take for example the results I get when I google «sexy tops.» Guess what pops up? Boobs, boobs and more boobs. Big boobs, large boobs, extra large boobs, boobs. No little boobs. Very few medium boobs. Here us thick girls are being told that we have to be skinny to be beautiful, but just to really fuck with women’s heads, we’re ALSO going to tell the skinny girls that they’re not sexy unless they’ve got big ole’ knockers.

Oh, and lets not forget the long hair. You’re not sexy if you don’t have long hair ladies.

Fires you up a little bit, doesn’t it? Well, if it doesn’t it should.

The truth is, I wish I could just blame it on today’s marketing. I wish I could point my finger and shame all the big wigs up in no-mans land deciding what THEY think WE should view as beautiful. But it’s not just them. Because sadly, women like me are buying into this bullshit. It’s been going on since the world had advertising, had media forms, had press. Back in 1912 the New York Times declared «the perfect woman» to be Elsie Scheel. She was 5’7″ and 171 pounds. The newspaper described her as «the most nearly perfect physical specimen of womanhood.»

I’m not using Elsie to shun today’s thinner women, nor am I using her to excuse an unhealthy lifestyle. I’m using her as an example to prove that we’ve allowed an outside source, a source fueled by money and many, many voices, to tell US what perfect is for more than 100 years now.

How insane is that?

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Why I don’t want to be vegan anymore

I know, I know. It might come as a shock to you.

I mean, I’ve built this whole blog around being a Chubby Vegan Mom.

It’s insane, right?

What am I going to be now? The Chubby Mom? It just doesn’t have the same ring to it …

Perhaps I should explain.

I’m not going to start eating meat again. I’m not going to start consuming dairy again. I’m not going to wear leather, go to the circus or use make-up that’s been tested on or made from animals.

In fact,  I’m actually not changing anything about my lifestyle at all.

The problem is, I don’t want to be a «vegan» anymore.

This post is hard for me to write. It’s confusing and it’s been something I’ve been sitting on for a while. I’ve perused dozens of my favorite veggie bloggers and read woe-filled tales of why they gave up their vegan lifestyle, why they just don’t want people to know they’re vegan anymore, why they call themselves plant-based and it’s just, well, embarrassing, quite frankly.

You see, there are a lot of considerate, flexible, wonderful vegans out there. We virtually hold hands, sing Kumbaya and roast vegan marshmallows together. Unfortunately, though, there is another group of «vegans» out there, and they seem to be louder, more in your face than the others.

It started with a seemingly innocent email inquisition about what type of almond milk I used. When I replied back that I used whatever kind was on sale — store brand, Silk, Almond Breeze — I unleashed upon myself a hurricane of preachiness. You see, the particular person emailing me wanted to take several emails to let me know what an irresponsible vegan I was, how could I purchase from Silk when they’re owned by a subsidiary of Dean Dairy and how I was everything that was wrong with the world and blah blah blah.

Yeah, super fun.

So I started googling this type of thing and came across a hoard of blogs about how vegans who eat Oreo’s aren’t vegan because of it’s sugar or enzymes or 19 other scenarios. Someone made a comment about how if their eating Oreo’s made them only 99.9% vegan then fine, so be it. So that started a barrage of other ignorant comments about how they might as well eat a slab of meat and drink a glass of milk because their inconsideration was the same no matter what.

One poster even said «how can you be 99.9% vegan? That’s like being 99.9% pregnant. You either are or you’re not.»

Really? Being vegan or not is like being pregnant? Um NO. That’s stupid. Sorry. Pregnancy is a yes or no issue. Either a human being comes out of your vagina or doesn’t. But being vegan? Well, it’s a lot trickier than that (and thank God because there would be a lot of confused vaginas out there if veganism were that simple).

You may or may not be familiar with the sugar battle. There are commercial sugars (or ones used in sauces, baked goods, sodas etc) that are sometimes processed on bone char. Bone char is basically what it sounds like, animal bones. So while the sugar may not have these ingredients, the money you spend is going to «support» establishments that use this as a refiner.

Sigh. BIG sigh.

You guys caught me. I’ve been living this second life where I go around being vegan 50-percent of the time, but the other 50-percent of the time I’m just guzzling pounds and pounds of sugar that I KNOW was made on bone char. Sometimes, I even sprinkle a little bit of «natural flavoring» on it just to really take in all the hidden animal ingredients I can.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m one human being. I’m one human being, who is also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a best friend, a coach, an employee, a woman. I work 40 hours a week, I raise two children (with a fabulous husband), I give pitching lessons, I take my daughter to dance, I meal plan, I grocery shop, I cook, I clean, sometimes I bathe, sometimes I see my friends, sometimes I do crafts, sometimes I sit on the floor and hold my son and sometimes, sometimes, it’s absolutely exhausting trying to be good at so much.

So you know what? When I’m starving and I want something to eat and I’m too damn lazy to cook it, I’ll get some take out. I’ll get some seitan buffalo wings from a bar that is made with hot sauce that contains sugar that God knows where it was processed.

If that makes me 1% less vegan, then I’ll change my name to Chubby Vegan Mom (99% of the time). Seriously vegans. Get your head out of your asses. Step up off your high horse and quit trying to «catch» other vegans doing bad things. Do I go out of my way to find sugar processed on bone char? No, no I don’t. Do I source every grain of sugar that enters my body if I’m out an about, no, no I don’t.

Some of you might think what’s the point then? If you’re willing to overlook sugar, why not overlook dairy and fish and chicken? Here’s the thing. Being vegan isn’t a science. It’s not perfect, no matter how many of you *want* it to be.

I shop in a grocery store that sells meat and dairy. I purchase items from manufacturers that also produce non-vegan items because we don’t live in a perfect vegan world. You want to beat me over the head because I «support» brands that aren’t 100-percent vegan? Let me ask you where you purchased the shirt you’re wearing. Or the underwear. Or the sheets on your bed. Hopefully it was from a vegan retailer. And it was made by a vegan worker. And it was delivered by a vegan delivery boy on a bike. To your house, which is made of all vegan materials and was built by vegans.

Oh, wait, that’s too hard? You mean, I’m a jerk for giving my kids some vaccines or for eating some sugar that may or may not have been processed in a facility with animal products, but you driving a car, working for or living in a home that isn’t 100-percent vegan is OK? I’m afraid when it comes down to it, we’re all just pots calling the kettles black. Because, what? It’s easier to crap on me about sugar and it’s «too hard» to find a vegan house and job?

To me, being cruelty-free means doing the least harm you can. But you know what? Being those 19 million other things in life (like a mom and a wife and a friend) also necessitates that I don’t have all day to think about sugar. I don’t have the money to purchase all organic, made from hugs and kisses sugar all the time. Is it something I strive to do? Absolutely. Is it something that happens every minute of every day? No.

And if you want me to apologize for that, fine. I’m sorry. I’m not perfect. If you want to «take away» my vegan card, fine, go ahead.

Just remember this. YOU’RE the reason people think vegans are assholes. Those of you with the holier-than-tho attitudes do MORE harm to our cause than those of us who have some shitty sauce with sugar in it every now and then. You might not agree with me, but I’m right. My husband and I try our hardest to be nonjudgmental when it comes to food choices. If you want to eat meat, then that’s your right. But if you ask us why we’re vegan, we’ll tell you. And when we tell you, we’ll probably give you a delicious vegan cupcake to soak on those thoughts with. And by using this kind of attitude, this kind of approach, we have friends in our lives who went full-on vegan, ones who eat vegan when they’re out and about with us, ones who bring vegan food to our gatherings because they were excited to try their hand at it and ones who have adopted meatless Mondays simply to try and be healthier.

Now tell me again how your preachy, I’m-better-than-you-and-all-the-other-vegans attitude has fared for you so far?

Remember that old saying about the flies, honey and the vinegar? Well, it’s true in this case too.

You attract more flies with fake honey than you do with vinegar, even if my fake «vegan» honey has questionable sugar and your vinegar is made from perfect, vegan air.

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Red paint, protesters and chicken milk

A little over a month ago my first baby turned three years old. THREE YEARS OLD. It seems impossible. And most days, it seems like she’s three going on 13 (I’m sure you can imagine how much fun THAT is).

She was an angel in her twos, so apparently she’s going to come into her threes with a bang. And by bang I mean the sound her door makes when she slams it 19 times (because the first 18 times we ignored her, trying not to give into her strong will). Or the bang the wall makes when she hits her head against it during timeout. And then the bang of my hand against my head that follows because she’s now made herself sob uncontrollably and I can’t figure out if she’s REALLY hurt or if she’s just smart enough to know that bodily harm is the only thing that can get her attention in timeout.

So when you skip the terrible twos, apparently you’re just holding out for the stab-yourself-in-the-eye-with-a-rusty-fork, trying-doesn’t-even-begin-to-cover-it, tremendously-tumultuous, you-might-consider-selling-your-toddler-on-eBay threes.

Aside from the angsty teenage rebellion our daughter is coming into, she’s also going through a growth spurt — physically and mentally.

She eats more than I do.

No, this isn’t a joke. She eats like more than me in a day. Of course, she also runs, jumps, skips, gallops, twirls, dances and does more jumping jacks than I do in a day. (I’ve got her beat on coffee consumption though!) She’s not the least bit overweight or anything, she’s still taller than most girls her age and her weight is right on par with average, but this girl can seriously throw some food down.

Take yesterday for instance. She had a banana for breakfast. Then some strawberries for breakfast dessert. For brunch she had peanut butter toast. For brunch dessert she had a granola bar. Then for lunch, she had a veggie dog and some vegan pizza we had frozen. Followed by her lunch dessert of strawberry coconut yogurt. For dinner she had noodles, carrots and edamame. For her after dinner snack she had potato lentil chips. And then for dessert she had one scoop of cherry chocolate chip soy ice cream.

I’m not kidding you. For the most part she eats incredibly healthy food and she seems to be active and growing like a weed, so do you worry when your toddler starts eating more food than the rest of the family combined?

And while all that food is fueling her physical growth spurt, there’s plenty of turmoil around here to help her develop mentally. Take for instance the drive to my parents house, which, albeit two miles away, entails passing a free women’s center where abortions are performed Monday-Saturday.

Here’s the dealio people. I’m not going to get all politically righteous on you because it’s just not my place. While I may not agree with everything everyone thinks, I can respect that a person has different views than mine and probably feels equally as passionate about their cause (whatever it may be) as I do mine.

So when I talk about this pro-life issue, I’m not saying I have a problem with that belief system. I’m not saying I support it or am against it, either. What I am against, however, are the massive, incredibly gruesome posters someone is inevitably holding up between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Trust me, I get the point of them. The shock value of what’s being done to tiny fetuses at the hands of these women and doctors. I can commercially and personally understand the theory behind these types of pictures.

 But for the love of three year olds, can we please put these pictures on maybe a pamphlet and pass them out to responsible adults instead? Twice in the last two weeks my daughter has seen these signs from her car seat and asked why those babies looked like that, what was wrong with them. Luckily, she doesn’t question my answer of «oh, someone spilled red paint on the picture» or «it’s not real, it’s just a picture,» but one of these days she will.

I’m not saying don’t protest. I’m just saying that maybe, in a small suburb loaded with tiny hands and tiny minds, we could reserve the shock value strictly for adults.

Just like people don’t like animal rights protesters to hand-out cruelty-filled information on what’s happening to their kids lunches, I don’t really think it’s anybody else’s job out there (regardless of their beliefs) to decide when I should educate my daughter on the realities of abortion.

And speaking of animal rights, she’s becoming a lot more aware of that, too. The other day we were perusing our grocery store and she saw the sprawling display of raw meats. She asked me what that was and I told her it was meat, like hamburgers, sausage and chicken. She then exclaimed «I love veggie chicken,» and begged me to go buy some. I told her that was a different kind of meat, that the veggie chicken she likes is made from vegetables (we make ‘chicken’ nuggets out of quinoa and sweet potatoes). Which led her to ask what the other meat was made from.

This is a tricky subject for us. I want our little girl to understand why we eat differently, but at three years old, I don’t want her to think all the other people in her life that don’t choose to be like us are bad. If she wants to come to that conclusion when she’s 14, fine, we’ll go down that road then, but just like we don’t want people to judge or dislike us because we choose to live cruelty-free, I don’t want to instill hate or disrespect in her for people that don’t.

When I explained to her that «real» meat came from cows, pigs and the feathery chickens she sees in her books, she got a horrified look on her face and asked why people ate them. I told her that some people do it because they like the taste, for moral or health reasons, but it didn’t make them bad, just different than us. I told her that because we are vegan, we believe we can get enough from vegetables so we don’t eat animals or things that come from them.

She sat quiet for about three minutes (quite the achievement for her) and so I asked her if she was OK or if she had anymore questions.

She simply looked at me and said «so we don’t drink chicken milk because we’re ‘begins?'»

God bless a three-year-old’s rationale.

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