Mothers Wisdom - Carly

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Birth & Body Image

It may sound really cliché but being pregnant and going through labor and now nursing has helped me to love my body more than I ever have. Not only for the obvious reason that I grew a human but I learned to trust in what my body can do. I look back at my pre-pregnancy years and see how hard I was on myself and now realize that I was probably hurting my body more than helping.

I spent years exercising really hard and depriving myself. At the time I thought that what I was doing was being very healthy and fit. In reality, it was probably excessive on the exercising side and lacking on the nutrition side. And even though I was working so hard at being in shape and healthy I still had major body image issues. I had a muscular, athletic build and would look at photos of tiny, skinny girls in bikinis and wish I looked like them. No matter how hard I worked to get that look it was never enough for me. Funny thing is when I look back at photos I think, “Wow, I looked great!” Why could I not see and feel that it in the present moment?

During my pregnancy I was hungry all the time, really hungry. At first it was such a strange concept to eat as much as I needed to while growing our little bean. I had a huge craving for carbs and sugar which are two things I typically do not eat a lot of. I really had no choice at times but to give into the cravings. I still would eat nutritious, healthy meals but would not beat myself up if I gave into a craving now and then. I allowed my rigid views on healthy eating to soften a little and although I did not go overboard on junk food I was able to enjoy eating more. Now that I’m nursing I’m even hungrier than I was during pregnancy and I can’t seem to stuff enough food in my face. It’s a balance between getting enough greens, protein and nutrients in my diet and eating enough calories a day necessary to keep me sustained and my milk supply flowing. Bottom line is that I completely understand and promote the importance of healthy, clean eating and at the same time I want to enjoy food and approach my diet with a gentler mindset. Balance.

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As a result of this kind, loving approach towards my body I feel more feminine than I ever have. This softer, maternal side has changed how I approach exercise and my mindset around it. I used to be very competitive and feel quite masculine while engaging in cross-fit, running, mountain biking, snowboarding and lifting. I would tell my husband all the time, “I just want to do what the boys are doing.” I worked so hard to get good at those sports so I could hang with the boys and now after taking some time away from these activities and birthing the sweetest baby girl I have lost my competitive edge. And I am actually ok with it. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying paddle boarding, walking and yoga.

I still have a love affair with mountain biking, I just haven’t built my stamina back up yet. And some things are still shifting and getting back into place down below. The first few months after giving birth I worked with a Pilates instructor to strengthen my pelvic floor. I learned that I have been holding my body wrong for decades and it has resulted in back pain and other problems. When I started strengthening my core properly all of my pain went away. I thought for sure that being pregnant and gaining 28 lbs. would give me lots of lifelong pain and issues and yet it has brought about the most healing and transformation in my body.

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I’m now happy with a leaner frame and some sexy, feminine curves. I plan to maintain this body with large portions of nutritious, delicious food and exercise through activities that allow me to connect to my body while letting my mind go. I’m not insinuating that every woman needs to have a baby to learn to love their body. For me, that was the catalyst that finally broke the vicious cycle of negative body image and intense discipline around food. I do suggest that you find a way to love your body and stop beating it up to accomplish unhealthy goals. Trust in your body and know that it’s perfect just the way it is and that it will enable you to be strong, sexy and feminine if you treat it right.

Written by Carly Moore

Mothers Wisdom - Kathryn

I'm a mother of two. They are still quite young but my experience with children dates back over 10 years. My pre-children experience is much different than post. Children see me differently now. Prior to becoming a mother, I was one of the kids. In fact, The children I worked with could never imagine me having children of my own! They were my own. The child at heart in me bursted out in all directions and was fully excepted and recognized by other children. Now that I've become a mother, I seem to wear that hat in a much more obvious way. Children have a different type of obedience towards me and they don't let me in fully to their secret world until I sort of go through an adult initiation. Learning to navigate this new role with the children other than my own has been a very enlightening process. If I were to give any sort of motherly advice, it would come by the way of Order and Play. 

Sensitivity to order, everything has it's place- just enough. If you notice your Little getting easily distracted or showing no interest in the many options they have for playing, try simplifying their environment. Often we parents think that little ones can keep themselves busy when given plenty of options all at once. But this is not true. My great Mentor once told me, 'the state of the environment reflects the state of our mind.' She recognizes that children have sensitivity to Order right around the toddler years. Rather than submersing the house with many options, find a storage cabinet or downstairs spot to place a tote filled with toys. Use a simple natural wooden shelf that has cubbies and place a few items that are appropriate for their age. Notice over the next month or two if your child engages with a once neglected toy more often. Don't have all the books out and available at once. Switch them out every month to only about 10 that are reflective of the season and time. When you revisit old toys or books that aren't readily available the child will experience them in a whole new way. The trick is to keep the environment where the child spends most of their time playing new and exciting. Switching things out on a monthly or seasonally basis keeps you from being the 'toy pickerupper'. A process of too much is overwhelming for the child. Rather set the child up for success as to allow her the chance to master the environment and develop a sense of Order. Part of the fun of doing any work or activity is the cleaning up. It may not seem so because we 'over adult' the situation. But with a few simple guidelines and examples the child can soon take total control over every part of the process: we take it off the shelf, we play with it and we put it back. A small investment of your time and consistency with this now will pay off big time as your toddler turns into an adolescent, teenager and one day, and orderly adult. There's a great sense of accomplishment being able to 'do it by myself!'

Play. Need I say more? Play play play! Revisit your own childhood and the fun memories by just playing. So much healing of past wounds for you and your child can come out in play. It's your natural stress reducer and it's really all that children want to do! We need it in our lives too. By making sure every day you play with your child a couple of times, you can make parenting fun again. There needs to be a balance. It's an all consuming time when caring for the Littles. Don't forget to make it a playful experience!

Written by Kathryn Eagen

Mothers Wisdom - Gwen

I was mad at my dad and so I pierced my nose, but not without asking the kids first. Rosie just sighed and said it didn’t matter—I was going to do it whether she liked it or not. Ian agreed under two conditions: that I let him watch and that I promised to remove it upon the birth of his own child one day. He didn’t want his kid to get the wrong idea—that nose piercing was okay.

It worked for a little while, my sparkling diamond stud of defiance, helping me feel less like a daughter and a mom and more like me. I needed some breathing room while I got my bearings. When Rosie was born, I became a mom but remained a daughter, my parenting guided by a road atlas that my parents tossed to me on the car trip across my childhood. Even now I sometimes find myself down a road I didn’t choose, but know by heart like the bedtime prayer Mom whispered with me.

Glancing in the rearview mirror a few weeks ago, I noticed the nose stud and realized I no longer needed it. I love my dad and kids and there’s room for me inside that love. Unconditional parental love pierces, too, cracking hearts wide open to the present moment of possibilities. I might not need a map. Just a willingness to loosen my grip on the steering wheel and trust that Grace will guide me. Regardless, I don’t want to give my kids the wrong idea—that it’s okay to navigate our lives with maps from the past. Nose pierced or not, we always have the freedom to roll down the windows, turn up the music, and sing together at the top of our lungs.

Written by Gwen Thomas

Mothers Wisdom - Liz Nelsen

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My absolute favorite thing in the world is seeing their faces first thing in the morning. No matter how tired I am and unmotivated to crawl out of bed to tend to their every little need even before my own, I am completely in awe when I see those little eyes beaming up at me as they seek my refuge and unconditional love. It doesn't matter if yesterday was a complete fail or if I'm feeling like anything but supermom it gets me every single time making my heart swell literally skipping a beat and creating tiny little flutters in my tummy. They are such little miracles blowing my mind on the daily that they are a creation of our love and ours to keep. Holding them first thing in the morning while showering their tiny little bodies with kisses, caressing their perfect baby soft skin and combing my fingers through their hair as I tell them good morning and how much my heart loves them is the greatest thing in the world. Not until I became a mom did I understand what it was to love someone more than yourself - to love unselfishly and to completely lose yourself in someone else. The whole watching your heart live outside your body is so true! Motherhood has changed me in a way that is so raw and pure and has taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. You know how people say your life forever changes the day your child is born? Well it's true, it's undeniably the truth and I am so blessed to have had the privilege not once but twice. It's such an honor to experience a love that gives you the greatest purpose in life - to be their mother is the toughest job I've ever had but it is also the greatest joy. 

-Liz

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