Fashion Feelings: Tough and Tender

I like to pretend I’m tough.  I like to dress up in rocker tees, big jewelry, get tattoos, and load on the black eyeliner.  Because that makes me look and feel tough, and when the pedal really hits the medal, I am not really all that tough.  I can’t watch tv shows where people die.  Unless, of course, they are coming back as a vampire or werewolf.  Because that’s just cool.  I’ve never been good at confrontation.  In fact, when I’ve had to do those kinds of things in the past, I typically can’t breathe while I’m saying what has to be said and then I just dissolve into tears afterwards.  No, I would say when it comes to being tough or tender, I am firmly in the “tender” camp.

I volunteered at the thrift store that supports my kids’ school today, because first of all, that means I get to shop while doing it (bonus) and also I need to log in some hours to support their school.  I’m happy to do it.  I may have bought a few things in the process, we cannot be certain ;)  When I came in and put on my “Volunteer” name tag, the manager oriented me to the store (even though she knows I know the store pretty darn well!) and she said, “just don’t be rude to people”.  I laughed and told her that I wasn’t sure I knew how to be rude to people and she kind of cocked her head and looked at me…saying: “yeah…I can’t really imagine you being rude at all…”  She then went on to say that it was easy for her to be not so nice to people.  Have you noticed that people are usually one or the other?  Tough OR tender?  I’ve met a few people who are both, but they’re more rare than the either/or people.  Like me.

Whatever we are, we usually have to work on the opposite.  I have to work on being tough.  Constantly.  With my kids, with my business, heck, even when I order food and they get it wrong.  I am so NOT into confrontation that I would most definitely chose the path of least resistance when it comes to the potential for hurting people’s feelings.  But since that is no way to live and is obviously a super ineffective parenting method, I have to work on the opposite.  However, I have known lots of people who are like, ready to GO all the time.  You know, the ones who get excited when they hear that there might be a problem and they’re ready to defend anyone, anywhere, over anything.  They have to work on being tender.  It’s like…if they could see more from the other person’s perspective and if I could maybe pay attention to my OWN perspective for once…we could meet in the middle and be tough AND tender.  The sweet spot.

It’s hard and often painful to do things that are out of our nature.  I mean, the times I’ve had to confront people for work or something, I have waited until it was ABSOLUTELY necessary to do so.  I ran through what I had to do, I had people help me come up with what needed to be said.  And yet, in the moment, I felt like I was dragging my nails across a chalkboard or trying to breathe under water (actually kind of literally on that last one!).  I can imagine, for a person who finds confrontation quite easy, it might feel the same NOT jumping up and dealing with what’s bugging them, and instead listening and letting something go.  I’ve experienced this over and over again, and yet it always seems to apply no matter what’s going on in my life:  the path of least resistance is not always the best place to be.  I don’t go looking for confrontation or difficulty (I think we’ve established that already!) but I also don’t automatically assume that when things are hard or don’t feel natural, that I’m in the wrong place.  Because if that were the case, I would literally NEVER do anything new, ever.

I found these Blank NYC faux leather bells on Poshmark for a great deal, and I had to have them.  I mean, they’re like so Grease meets hippie vibes.  And I really loved the idea of wearing a kind of lumberjack vintage flannel with them.  Super tough!  One of the most special things about this outfit though, is my necklace.  It belonged to the most tough and tender woman I have ever known and I am beyond honored to own something of hers.  Myself and a lot of other people lost her recently and she reminds me still to love people relentlessly but to never back down, ever.  And now, I gotta figure out how to breathe under water… :)

Happy Wednesday…hope you’re being tough when you need to be and tender when it counts!

Things No One Ever Told Me About Being A Mom

Full disclosure.  This post should actually be called one of two titles…either: “Things People Actually DID Tell Me About Being A Mom, But I Wasn’t Listening Because I Really Didn’t Care At The Time” OR “Things People Actually DID Tell Me About Being A Mom, But I Don’t Remember Because, Well, I’m A Mom Now And I’m Always Tired.”  But you can see how those are remarkably longer and less catchy, so I chose the first one.  Just making sure you know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.

I am one of those people who ALWAYS tries to be extra prepared.  I plan.  I read.  I ask people’s advice.  I never jump in without checking out my surroundings if I can help it.  And when it came to having kids, that held true.  My husband and I were married for 7 years before having kids.  We dated for 6 years before that, so we’d been together for like 72 years before we decided it was time.  My math is pretty spectacular huh?  I had babysat.  I had been around toddlers PLENTY.  I had held babies right after they were born and had close friends who were parents.  I read books.  I basically prepared myself for the most terrible time of my life…sleeplessness, stress, and God knows what else.  Then my son was born.  And he was amazing.  He ate and slept like a dream.  I was like…yeah, thanks for preparing me for the horrors of war, when this is more like a snapshot from a Hallmark card, except for the fact that I’m still about 100 pounds overweight after giving birth.  So about five months after he was born, I did the only natural thing that a completely insane person would do, and I got pregnant again.  I was like, this is easy, I’m gonna rock this and be the most AMAZING COOL MOM EVER.  I bet you can sense where this story is going.

Right about the time my daughter was going to be born, my son turned one.  Now there’s something magical about when your kid develops their personality to a greater degree and starts behaving like a tiny human more than like an infant who smiles and stuff, but basically eats and sleeps and that’s the bulk of it.  Yeah it’s magical and HORRIFYING.  All of a sudden, the “easiness ” I had experienced flew right out the window.  He had opinions about what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go.  He was no longer a captive of the carseat and the stroller and he wanted to move around freely and touch everything.  And the only thought in my mind was “WHAT THE CRAP HAVE I DONE?!?!”  My husband and I would be out and about and we’d see a couple with a toddler and a giant baby belly and we’d be like “nooooooooooo runnnnnnnn save yourselves…” but we knew it was also too late for them and we were all in the same boat with a bunch of toddlers poking giant holes in the bottom of it, laughing gleefully while we all tried desperately to shovel water out to stay alive.  I’m making you excited to have kids aren’t I?  Hahaha.  Keep reading.

Then my daughter was born and the adventure got crazier.  Now I have a two year old and a three year old and I often wonder at why I didn’t predict this ridiculous situation from the beginning, then I remember that my math is total crap, and that explains a lot of things in my life.  So here goes.  Things I didn’t realize about being a mom…full honestly, no holding back.  Take a deep breath, and dive in with me!

Moms are always tired.  Like always.  And being tired makes you emotional.  Therefore, moms are always emotional.  When I was in college, I babysat for a moms of toddlers group at my church.  Every week, I’d watch the moms come get their kids and literally, ALL of them had been crying.  I was like: “Why are they ALWAYS crying???”  College me, let me explain to you why those moms were always crying.  Because the last time they took a shower and did’t have three panic attacks while trying to rinse their hair because there was screaming and mayhem outside the door was at least three years ago.  Because now going to the bathroom in a public restroom equals STRESS because at any moment, a tiny person WILL open the door latch and fling the door open wide while there’s a line of spectators standing outside the stall.  Because they got woken up by a barfing child, then had to clean the whole crib, sanitize the area, and attempt to go back to sleep amidst terrifying imaginations of the whole family getting the stomach flu.  Only to awaken, exhausted, to find a completely healthy toddler with EXTRA energy, bouncing around the room on the furniture, unstuffing the last kleenex box, spraying the saline nose spray around the room, and generally wreaking havoc while mom is desperately trying to get a spare moment to drink some coffee.  Because moms watch their kids eat french fries and croissants while they eat fruit…and still can’t quite fit into their pre-pregnancy jeans yet.  Because the last time a nap was an option, was during the last election year.  So college me, get off your high judgy horse and have some freaking compassion.  And then go home and take a nap for me, will ya?

Moms are always trying their best, and basically completely failing by their own standards.  Oh. And by the standards of social media.  Let’s not forget that priceless gem that’s making moms all over the world feel a little more like failures for not Pinteresting their way through every single day.  Before I had kids I was like: “My kids are gonna be healthy eaters.  They’re gonna eat diverse food and be cultured and have a varied palate.”  Then out pops my son who from the VERY BEGINNING had the whitest person’s palate you have ever seen.  Black pepper is “spicy” to him.  He lives on American cheese and pizza.  I make him taste stuff and he puts it in his mouth, crinkles up his face in a look of disgust and says: “oh that’s GOOD mama…”  I ask: do you want more?  “Oh no.  I’m good.”  And then I see a mom who’s toddler is eating a nice seaweed snack on Instagram and the feeling I experience is somewhere in the neighborhood of watching a super skinny girl eating a donut.  Jealousy.  Rage.  Failure.  Fishy crackers are just as nutritious as seaweed right?  Please say yes.

Moms are always pushed to the edge.  They have been taken hostage by tiny and adorable humans, who want things NOW and have ZERO patience for not important things, like meals, laundry, or sleep.  Toddlers value things like finding that one toy they haven’t played with in months, and finding it NOW.  Things like, having 17 books in their crib even though that leaves no where for them to lie down and actually SLEEP.  Basically it goes like this.  You’re getting a constant barrage of questions, most of them consistent reruns, listening to a steady stream of noisy toys and screeches and wails, then your husband comes in and asks you a simple question.  “Hey!  How’s it going?”  Oh no he didn’t.  You know those slow mo scenes in movies where the opera music plays and you see someone have a complete meltdown, screaming and waving their arms in obscene gestures?  Yep.  That’s what happens.  Because you are always RIGHT on the brink of a breakdown.  Just WAITING for a car to cut you off or someone to shoot you a judgy look about the fact that you forgot to buckle your kid in the stroller and they’re now standing up in it.  People, this is why we need to be nice to each other ALL THE TIME.  Because when you’re driving on the road, you never know if that “rude person” driving behind you is a mom of toddlers, which basically explains everything.  Driving with toddlers is basically distracted driving…with a pinch of road rage thrown in for good measure.  Then you see someone with a bumper sticker that says: “My child is an honor roll student.”  And you’re like “oh good for you.  YOUR child probably ate seaweed when he was a toddler.”

All this to say, my three year old son brought me flowers last night.  It was the sweetest thing ever.  He hugged me, told me he loved me, and I instantly forgave him for the 100 pounds I’ve had to work off, the sleepless nights, and the unnecessary screaming and nagging I’d endured all day.  And that is the essence of it all.  No one ever told me that when I was a mom, I’d be a MOM.  The person who thinks their kids are absolutely the most amazing things on the planet.  The woman who tears up when they say “I love you mama.”  And who would do just about anything to make their lives more amazing.  Yep.  No one told me this.  Or more likely I just wasn’t listening.

I may be a mom who cries at sappy commercials and sweet stories the Today show now, but I don’t have to wear mom jeans.  In fact, in this outfit I just ditched the “mom pants” all together and went with a giant, comfy, oversized flannel.  With cute boots of course.

This dress was like one of my favorite finds from Off Fifth in Santa Barbara.  It’s HUGE and SO SOFT.  And I love that it’s long enough to be worn without leggings if it’s warm enough.  The boots are vintage repurposed from Wild and Free Jewelry but since she’s not going to be doing them anymore, check out Hillbilly Gypsy Boots for amazing custom pairs.  The earrings are my favorite Southbound ones…I really need to get another pair of these amazing earrings in a different color!

Hope your week is off to an amazing start!