I got this coupon code, HUSTLINBOSS, from another maker mom recently and I had to laugh to myself- so NOT me!  I never really considered myself a “hustler” (I’m not even cool enough to use words like that!), and if I were your boss, you’d for sure laugh at me.  Hustlin boss I am not.  What I am is trying to hold it all together.  I feel like I’m still adjusting to being an adult, let alone a wife and mom, a mom of two, a stay at home mom, a work at home mom, a business owner, a marketing manager, a blogger, a web designer, a distribution specialist, a woodworker, and all the other hats I seem to wear these days.  Do you ever have those moments where you look at your life from the outside and think, “If they only knew…”?  I walked into the dining room the other day after serving my family dinner and thought- wow, these kids think I’m in charge- they have no idea!  If they only knew I’m terrified inside 90% of the time, I winging it like 99.9999% of the day, and I still feel like I’m the kid and wonder when the adult will come in and take over for me!  But they don’t.  People don’t know what’s going on inside your head and chances are your life looks a lot more put together on the outside than it feels on the inside.

So let’s get real, this shit is hard.  There really is no having it all.  Those celebrities that do everything must have nannies raising their children and that mom who gets to stay at home with her kids never gets a minute off.  And these days even moms like me who have their dreams come true and get to be stay at home moms have to have some sort of side hustle to feel complete, adequate, whole.  We feel like we are doing it all and at the same time never quite enough.  It’s not enough to be a mom.  You have to be super mom- make your own baby food, your own baby clothes, your own salves, toothpaste and butt creams, have the perfect house and cars that are always tidy, dress your children and yourself in the latest styles, lose that baby weight three weeks after baby is born all while nursing your baby so glowingly, attend all the mommy groups with a smile, run errands with grown children strapped to all parts of your body, go on dates with your partner, go outside your house with real clothes on, exercise, have close friendships and do social things with those friends, not to mention being interesting, having hobbies and most likely bringing home some bacon to fry up for your family at night with homegrown organic green healthy shit too.

For real tho

In real life, I’m typing this while my baby is clawing at me for a boob, I’ve got my 4 year old stuck in front of the TV- again, so I can get a minute of quiet, I smell and I’m wearing a Disney Princess hat and the same shirt I’ve had on for 3 days and nights.  I only shower when my head starts itching- gross!  My house is only clean when I know you’re coming over and I can’t remember the last time I vacuumed my bedroom because you won’t be going in there.  My clean laundry stays in a heap on the couch way too long and I use my dryer as my iron because I’m lazy.  My kids eat lots of Mac N Cheese and I do, too.  I never lost the baby weight and I gave up on Weight Watchers because eating makes me happy.  I have no idea what all is lost in my car- if I can’t find it, it’s probably there somewhere.  I lose my keys, my phone and my remote about three times a day.  The only thing my husband and I have to talk about is our kids, our business, our “president” and the weather.  We almost never have sex.  The only friends I can keep are the ones who don’t expect to hear from me often.  I do make a lot of my stuff, but only because we’re poor and it’s cheaper that way.  Breastfeeding is my exercise.  My hobbies include sleeping, eating, watching reality TV and repeating those actions.  I have no idea what I’m doing in business and I make way more mistakes than I’d like to acknowledge.  I didn’t even know what hastags were for until this year and I still feel dumb when I use one.  And I’m kind of ashamed that I’m letting the whole world know all of this.  I’m afraid you’ll judge me or report me to CPS (please don’t!).  But I’m hoping that just maybe you’ll relate.  That by being real with you, I can get closer to you and I can accept myself for all my flaws.  That maybe you’ll open up and show me what your life is really like.  Because I can’t relate to perfect people and messy houses make me feel more at home.  So tell me, what’s lurking under your beautiful facade?


Holy Shit, We’re Famous!

So, I know I’ve pasted it all over this website, but we went viral last week and this is huge for us. I think our story is pretty remarkable and I’d like to share the excitement we have.  For those of you that don’t know much about our story, let me tell you a bit more. In January of this year (yes, that’s 2017), I saw a news story about a new American Chemical Society study that showed all major plastic teethers were tested and had things like BPA, parabens & antimicrobials even when they were labeled free of these things. I freaked out and next thing I knew, my husband, Jon, had made a wooden teether shaped like brass knuckles.  His brother in law had just handed him down an ancient bandsaw (like so old he couldn’t even find blades for it at first!) and Jon was experimenting with woodworking.   It was amazing- he had this talent I never even knew about.  He casually asked if I thought any friends on Facebook would want to buy one. I thought they would, so I posted it on some local B/S/T groups. Right away 10 people wanted one, then 50 people wanted them and we started realizing we had something.  Jon made a rattle shaped like a baseball diamond and a friend suggested we make a heart which turned out to be equally popular.  I was dropping them off all over the county.  One day, I went to mail one out and the guy at the UPS store saw the return address and asked if this was one of those teethers shaped like brass knuckles everyone was talking about on the internet.  What?  Us?!  I was in shock.  I literally felt famous!

One night about a week into it, I told Jon of tow local children’s stores, The Luxe Baby, and Little Birdy Lane where I would try to get us into if we ever really got going. To my amazement, that very same night, the owner of The Luxe Baby messaged me on Facebook asking to carry our teethers. The next day, a woman came to pick up a teether and said she worked at Little Birdy Lane and could help us get in there if we wanted.  I was blown away. I met the owner of The Luxe Baby and she said we had something really unique and high quality.  It was a good fit, so we started consigning there and she became my mentor. I quickly taught myself how to design a website, an Etsy store, a Facebook business page, and started marketing our teethers left and right.

I posted on Facebook again asking if anyone I knew could design us a logo and my brother, Matthew Burke, came to the rescue right away.  He worked with one of his friends at Marnetta Cards to design us a logo and took some kick ass professional shots of our teethers to make us look legit.  Knowing nothing about business (I majored in psychology and have worked mainly in behavior modification with kids with developmental disabilities), I signed up for a 14 week entrepreneurial crash course at WEV (Women’s Economic Ventures and if you’ve never heard of this, you’ve got to check it out).  The class conveniently started right away, so I was off.  Someone posted in one of the Facebook groups looking for vendors for a roller derby event and a woman in my WEV class was a member of the roller derby league (coincidence?  I think not!).  This opened up the so far successful avenue of vendor fairs for us.  We got lots of good feedback about our beautifully made toys and started selling steadily.  A local La Leche League leader contacted me and offered to feature us at their Live, Love, Latch over the summer with over 300 people expected to attend.  We gobbled it all up.

My WEV graduating class- what a great group of supportive, creative, driven entrepreneurs!!

My plan was to finish my 14 week business course and then really work on marketing Tough Love Teethers.  Well, as soon as I finished the class, I emailed the editors of the super cool site for all things dad, Fatherly, requesting info on how to get on their site.  Right away, they took me up on it and wrote a little piece about us in their gear section.  They then offered to make a video for us.  Of course we jumped at the opportunity- this site has over 2 million followers on Facebook, including many of my coolest guy friends.  They didn’t ask for money, just some more footage.  They released the video on June 8 (super inconveniently while we were in Northern California for my brother’s wedding- aye!) and it literally went viral.  I was sneaking to the bathroom during my brother’s rehearsal dinner to answer chats from our website!  I was wondering how we were going to get all this done.  I awoke early the next morning to almost 100 orders.  Before the article and video, we had steadily been selling about one teether a day, which we were happy with.  I had just told my mom long term goal was to be able to pay our monthly mortgage with Tough Love Teethers’ income, but that that was a long, long way off.  Now, we’ve had over 600K views and hundreds of orders in just over a week.  We earned enough to pay our mortgage payment in under 24 hours.  It’s been nuts.

Our big video debut!

We are pinching ourselves and thanking our lucky stars.  We are currently working our butts off, recruiting our 18 & 19 year old nieces, our parents, sisters and brothers to help us make teethers in their free time.  We hand sand all of our teethers, hand cut our tags and handle all the packaging and distribution while parenting our 4 year old who never stops and our almost one year old who started it all.  Needless to say, it’s a lot, but it’s a blessing for sure.All along this adventure, things have just come to us so coincidentally that we feel like this was meant to be.  Jon and I have had a hard road the last few years not just financially, but personally- in our marriage and with our children so to have this opportunity come knocking at our door and be so successful without really meaning to feels like a true gift from the universe.  We never even intended to make a business out of this.  What started out as a fun toy for our son has turned into a real fledgling business and has opened up doors we never dreamt of.  I feel like we’re the little family that could.  We cannot believe that only six months ago, we made our first teether, finished it in our kitchen with our kids and now over half a million people know about us.  So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone of you for making this possible.  We are riding this wave of success and we hope you’ll ride the tide right along with us!

Jumping for joy at our first boutique sale in The Luxe Baby

Why you Should Play with Your Wood

When we made the first Tough Love Teethers, I had no idea the worlds it would open up for us.  We really just made them on a whim as a way to avoid plastics in one small area of our lives and the more I’ve learned, the happier I am that we are choosing to give our children more toys made with natural materials and less toys made of toxic, manufactured plastics.  Here’s why I love wooden toys:

They’re like zombies– Wooden toys live forever- they’re so durable!   Shoot em in the head and they’ll just turn into some even more badass toy out to get you.  I’ll bet you’ve got some piece of furniture, some cuckoo clock, a hope chest, model car, or some other wooden hand me down from your grandparents or even their parents somewhere in your home (Ok, I won’t really bet you because a.) that’s illegal and b.) I hate to lose, but you get me).  And if you do, you love and cherish it, right!  That’s because they last- they last long past their novelty.  Plastic toys are cheap- both in price and quality.  They break and when they do, we throw them out.  Wooden toys we pass down- from child to child, family to family, generation to generation.  Several people have told me when their child is done with their Tough Love Teether, they’re going to turn it into a wall hanging or a Christmas Tree ornament- these suckers last.  Tell me you do that with your my little pony and I will laugh- hard.

They’ll save you a buttload- Plastic toys, made mainly in China, are cheaper to buy up front- we’ve got lots cheap crappy toys lying around that I’m constantly picking up & donating.  But cheap plastic toys break often and have to be replaced, so that inexpensive toy ends up costing you a lot of headache and money in replacement costs.  A wooden toy can literally last a lifetime- they can be transformed throughout a childhood to be used for different purposes to get more than your money’s worth.  Not to mention where your money is going- I’d much rather support some local artisan or small business person proudly making toys than a huge conglomerate underpaying workers around the world to mass produce toys they don’t love.

It’s hip to be green- When we’re finally done loving wooden toys, they go right back to the earth.  They are made of trees and usually not much else and they will bio-degrade right back into the earth from whence they came.  Because most plastic toys contain a variety of types of plastics as well as metal, once they break or lose our interest, they can’t even be recycled.  They stay around FOREVER- floating in our oceans, filling up our landfills and taking  a shit all over the planet we are passing onto these beautiful children we gifted with them.  Wood is sustainable- we can grow more and it’s good for our planet to grow more, we can re-use wooden toys over and over and they’ll break down into our soil when we are done using them.  Wooden toys are totally green and we love that!

LOVE our wooden toys!

They fatten those little brains up for good zombie eats-  It’s good for children’s brains to manipulate common objects and use their creativity to make them into whatever they need them to be for whatever it is they are playing.  We don’t need to tell them what to think by supplying the characters, the storylines, the clothes, heck even the voices to tell them how to play.  We can give them simple toys and let their little brains fill in the details that they think would work best with what they are playing.  By giving children objects that are not highly formed and detailed, they can easily become more than one thing, and give children’s imaginations free reign.  Wooden toys and Waldorf Toys, in particular, allow children more flexibility in their play so they are not stuck by the pre-manufactured colors, characters and conversations adults make for them.  And let’s face it- those plastic toys with all the bells, buttons and whistles are annoying!

Kids are F*@&)%*ing dirty- And wooden toys stay cleaner- really, they do!  While wood is more porous than plastic, every time your little one bites, scratches or dents their plastic toy in some way, they create a rough surface that is almost impossible to fully clean. Bacteria loves to live in those little plastic cavities, but for some reason, the pores of wood are naturally antimicrobial- cool, right?  So bite away on your wooden teethers, kids- In academic studies of wooden vs. plastic cutting boards, wood wins hands down.  In a University of Wisconsin study by Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D of UC Davis, Scientists found that three minutes after contaminating a board that 99.9 percent of the bacteria on wooden boards had died, while none of the bacteria died on plastic. Bacterial numbers actually increased on plastic cutting boards held overnight at room temperature, but the scientists could not recover any bacteria from wooden boards treated the same way.  With wood, there is no need for harsh chemical cleaners, instead your material is your anti-bacterial.

He’ll cut a bitch- How many times have we been told that a plastic or painted toy is safe, only to see it recalled or find out it has lead in the paint or plastic body or is unsafe for any number of other reasons? This holds especially true for very small children and babies. These little ones will be putting whatever they play with in their mouths, and plastics, painted toys and metals probably aren’t high on the list of things you want in your baby’s mouth. (Uncle Bob’s Workshop).  When plastic toys break, which they do very easily, they become little shanks for your delinquents to get hurt on.  Wooden toys are so tough and much more difficult for tiny prisoners to use a weapons.  Finely sanded wooden toys are unlikely to splinter unless completely broken, and even if your little one can break that super tough wooden toy, if it’s made of a fine grained hardwood, such as maple (as our Tough Love Teethers are), even the splinters are unlikely to hurt them (but do remove any broken toys from your little one’s playing reach).  That’s because the grain quickly heals itself and maple doesn’t flake like other woods such as ash.

Clay loves his wooden toys!

Tiny Tree Huggers-  Wooden toys aren’t just good for the environment, they’re good for the soul.  They feel good- they connect us to something real, to the hard work behind them and the love that went into them.  It’s like tree hugging child style!  As Roland Barthes, wrote,  plastic and metal are “graceless” and “chemical,” and argued that wood “is a familiar and poetic substance, which does not sever the child from close contact with the tree, the table, the floor. Wood does not wound or break down; it does not shatter, it wears out, it can last a long time,”(The New Yorker, 2013).   “Imagine the sensory experience of a toddler cuddling a rigid, hard plastic doll with synthetic hair, and then cuddling a wooden doll, covered in cotton with a head of soft mohair. Not only is the (wooden) doll more aesthetically pleasing, but its softness and warmth will having a calming and soothing effect on a young child,” (Sarah Baldwin, Bella Luna Toys).  People are often skeptical about wooden teething toys.  They ask if kids like them.  They are surprised how their babies take to this natural material.  I’ve  even heard stories of teething babies gnawing on furniture, wooden spoons and sticks- so give those little beavers what they want.  They know what’s good for them!

So let your kids be kids and stop telling them how to play!  Give them the best because we know you love them and  you love the earth you brought them into.  Down with plastics.  You’re witnessing the rise of the wood!  Check out our ever growing line of all natural Wooden Teething Toys here: 



Badass Baby Shower Must Haves

If you have a badass baby you’re welcoming into this rough world, you might want some ideas on what to shower that little delinquent with.  I’ve got a four year old and an 11 month old and I’ve gone to a few baby showers.  Here are some of my favorite badass baby shower gifts and mama must haves (and a few ideas on what you don’t need any more of):

Who Wants this Old Crap?

I do!  First and foremost, hand mama down some of your favorites.  Some may think this is tacky, but I find it incredibly thoughtful and eco-friendly to give mom a big bag full of your babies’ pre-loved clothes, books and toys.  Baby things get used for such a short time, they usually have a lot of life left in them- don’t trash them, recycle please!  And mamas, when you can, buy used or swap with local parents.  We have some great Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade groups in our area (that’s how we got started with TLT actually!)- check out your area for some.  You’ll find a list of my favorite Ventura County Facebook B/S/T groups at the bottom of this post.

Sweet Swaddles, Sunshine

We swaddled our children- it was the best way to soothe them when they were new and to give them security for the rare times they slept on their own as small babies (we co-slept with both of our babes).  If you haven’t read it yet, you’ve GOT to read Dr. Harvey Karp’s The Happiest Baby on The Block– his 5 S’s will save your life!  But those babies are slippery and swaddling can be hard.  I was never good at rolling a fatty.  So, I had two favorites when it came to swaddling:  The easy way is with a sleep sack and I prefer the Halo Sleep Sack Swaddle ($27-$31 available online and at all major baby stores).  It’s a simple design and those little Houdinis can’t break out of the strong velcro easily.  PLUS, it can be wrapped with their arms out when they get bigger and no longer need to be swaddled in the straight jacket style.

My second pick is the very versatile but pricey (think like $50 for a 4 pack- ouch!) Aiden & Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets.  At 47″x47″, these muslin blankets are the largest you’ll find outside of making your own so they allow you some room to actually roll that baby up, plus they double as a great coverup for nursing baby out and about if you’re feeling modest (don’t bother with a fancy nursing cover- too much work and my babies never liked to be hidden #freetheboobies).  I tried the Aiden & Anais Easy Swaddles (their version of a Swaddle Sack) and their thin muslin tore every time- don’t waste your money.

Rock A Bye Baby

Without a doubt, what every new parent needs is a Rock N Play Sleeper– these little tacos are the perfect sleeping spot for your new little one.  They are super portable, they rock (some even rock themselves!), and they provide a nice snug spot for your baby to stay put.  They range in price from under $30 to almost $100 and the choice is yours on what features you want to pay for, but I am cheap and I would probably stick with the cheapest option.  Though self rocking does sound like a good idea- let me know if you like that one if you try it!  You can usually find these used for like $5, but be sure to take them completely apart and clean them for any mold using these easy instructions

Guard your coochie

Having a baby hurts like a mother (what does that expression mean, anyway?!).  If you have a vaginal birth, your vag will ache and if you have a C-section, please take your pain meds liberally because that shit is no joke!  So help the new mama be prepared for coming home from the hospital with a few necessities.

First off, pads.  Take your pick, but I’d suggest something made for overnights (you’ll bleed more than you expect) with some heft that you can throw in the freezer to make padsicles.  Natural mommy cloth reusable pads would be a super nice gift, but I don’t know if I’d invest in them for this purpose, as mom will need to change them often.  Here’s a reasonable organic cotton disposable option.

And to go with those pads, a good perineum spray.  I loved Earth Mama Angel Baby New Mama Bottom Spray, but you could totally make your own using a recipe like this.  These sprays are also good for soaking your padsicles.  Spray it every time you use the bathroom to soothe stinging.

And mom will definitely need some good old granny panties to hold all that sexiness in!

OMG- I loved The Golden Girls, didn’t you?! I want these!

Those little boob barnacles can be hell on sensitive nipples so be sure to nurture those special bits, too with some nipple butter these awesome cooling gel soothies from medela or some fresh, cool aloe vera.  And always keep those puppies dry with my favorite nursing pads, bamboobies.  I also really liked this Lansinoh Therapearl 3-in-1 Breast Soother- it can be heated to help your milk let down when pumping or frozen to soothe your sore nipples (though you do get into heating & cooling plastics territory, so you be the judge!)

Pump it up

You have to have a good breast pump postpartum and for me, I prefer the Medela Pumps.  I had an Ameda Purely Yours pump with my first child and a Medela Pump in Style  with my second and I found the Medela to be stronger and more effective.  The Ameda has the advantage of being a closed loop system so no milk ever enters the tubes, whereas milk can backup into the Medela and you have to open up the machine periodically to make sure it’s not molding because of this.  For this reason, if you have to get a used pump, I would only get an Ameda.  But be sure to check with your insurance because insurance companies in the US now have to provide a pump to new mothers (even medi-cal!).  And if you’re on WIC, you can usually get a hospital grade rental from them too!

The best teethers for little beavers

Well, the best teethers are of course our Tough Love Teethers– duh!  It’s always fun to give a toy at a baby shower- something cute that you know will be played with, but PLEASE, I beg of you, DO NOT give toys that make noise, light up or that baby just has to push a button to use.  Simple toys that make baby think and manipulate are best and really, the less toys the better- children learn the most from using things in their own environments (think banging pots and pans, making mud pies- the things kids are supposed to do).  Think simple when it comes to toys- Waldorf Toys, stackers (we’re working on some- stay tuned to our site!), shape sorters, blocks.  Wooden toys are the perfect option here. Our teething toys make beautiful gifts and are so durable they will be sure to be passed down through multiple children.  Whatever toy you choose to buy, be sure to steer clear of cheap plastic teething toys as they leach harmful toxins into the growing bodies of babies and into the environment we are passing onto them.  For teething toys, we also really love the Hevea Natural Rubber Panda and Sophie the Giraffe Natural Rubber Toy.

Gotta Wash that Dirty Little Bugger

Bath products are always a popular baby shower gift (but, read below for what to avoid) and our favorite bath by far has been the PUJ Flyte– this compact little sucker fits perfectly in a kitchen sink so you don’t have to break your back giving baby a bath and folds flat for storage and travel.  At $34.99, it’s a great option and we found that by the time our son outgrew it, he was ready to sit up in the tub alone, so no need for a hard plastic baby bath.  Pair this with some Dr. Bronner’s Gentle Baby Castile Soap and an organic cotton washcloth and you’ve got the perfect bathing set for that adorable little hunk of naked baby to come!

You’ve Got Your Hands Full (actually, they’re free- that’s the point)

Clay’s position doesn’t look too good here- make sure to get with someone to learn how to safely wear your baby

I LOVE wearing my babies- I don’t know what I’d do without it!  And whenever I’m wearing my kids and multi-tasking, I get this comment, “boy, you’ve got your hands full there,” but actually, my hands are free and that’s the point.  Get yourself a good, beautiful, buttery soft carrier and learn how to use it.  Find yourself a baby wearing group or guru in your area so you can try multiple styles and learn how to safely wear your little love close to your heart.  We’ve tried many and I use different ones for different stages of baby, but my favorite go-to is the Maya Wrap Ring Sling– it’s simple to wear (no wrapping despite the name), compact to carry and it has a pocket- yay!

Stuff Everyone Will Buy at the Baby Shower, so Avoid it if you Want to Buy Something They’ll Remember:

  • Clothes– Baby clothes are oh so cute and really, really hard to resist- cuz they’re tiny and frilly and cute colors, and funny sayings and all that.  So buy them if you must, but know that everyone will buy the baby clothes and everyone will hand the baby down clothes and that baby will have more clothes than time to wear them or mom will have time to wash
  • Baby body products– I cannot tell you how much baby wash,  baby lotion, baby powder, diaper cream, baby oil, etc, etc I got at my baby showers.  Slow your rollers here- moms of today aren’t using these products in bulk any more.  We are more cautious in what we put on our baby’s sweet little bodies (ahem- lawsuits Proctor & Gamble).  Baby lotions aren’t recommended even by pediatricians any more and you just don’t know how sensitive baby’s skin will be, so even though you love to picture just how cute that babe will look all naked and sudsy, skip the baby bath products.  Mom, however, would probably love some body products of her own to make her feel and smell good in those showerless days after baby is born.
  • Stuffed Animals– Babies really shouldn’t have stuffed animals in or around their beds and a lot of stuffed animals still have parts that can come loose and choke babies.  Plus, they take up a lot of room and we’ve got enough crap lying around.  Please, no more stuffed animals.
  • Crib Bedding– I’ve got a family member who loves to buy the crib bedding- it’s her thing and it’s special to her, so I let her with a thankful heart.  But really, all your baby needs is a sheet or two.  They don’t need a comforter and shouldn’t sleep with one until they’re well into their second year, what the hell do you even do with a crib bedskirt and they’re outrageously priced.  Skip the $200+ pricetag and get yourself two $20 organic cotton sheets and a nice organic mattress for baby to rest on instead.

That’s it- that’s my opinions for today.  I’d love to hear from you too, so comment below!

Ventura County Facebook Buy Sell Trade Groups for Kids’ Stuff (there’s a ton– feel free to comment with your favorites):

Check these out and ask to be added if you’re interested!

Sunshine and Sparkles Swap and Sell

Tummies, Toys and Tykes Resale and Swap of Ventura County

MOMS of Conejo Valley

VC Baby New and Used Sales

Ventura Little Peeps Swap and Sell

Baby Bum Traders of VC

VCBW Marketplace


These ARE the Good Old Days

I saw a mommy’s Instagram post yesterday of her little boy with a caption something like “I’m going to take this picture and write on the back all the silly things you did today so that one day when you’re grown, I can remember how much fun we had on our boring, average days when you were three.” It made me sad. Sad because a lot of the time I am so busy worrying about all the things that need to be done in life- the laundry and the doctor’s appointments, the finances and the dishes that I don’t take the time to appreciate all the silly, wonderful, original, precious things my kids do. In fact, I find their silliness an annoying obstacle to getting anything done a lot of days. I feel bad. It won’t be long before I’m no longer my kids’ favorite playmate, before the dreaded adolescent years hit and they downright hate me, heck before they’re out of the house and onto having families of their own. And I will look back on these days with fond longing- longing for how simple it used to be, how playful they were, how imaginative and for how much I missed.

These are the good old days

I have always, always, always wanted to be a stay at home mom. I remember being a young teenager and telling my friends that my life’s goal was to be a soccer mom. My kids don’t play soccer yet, but I feel like that dream has come true. But it doesn’t feel like I dreamed it would. It’s hard. The hours are long, you never get a break, you give a lot of yourself up, you work for a thankless boss who is never satisfied, who has unlimited energy and unlimited wants and instead of being paid lots of money, you make crap- you drive a crappy minivan, you don’t get a chance to shower most days let alone wear anything without food or finger paint all over it and when you do get a vacation, your bosses go with you and you have to go where they want. Let me say it again, it’s hard. I say a lot that it is exactly what everyone always says- being a parent is both the hardest and the most rewarding job you’ll ever have. I have never had a more difficult job, but I have never had one I cared more about either. Because although we don’t get money, we get hugs. We get the occasional “you’re the best mom ever,” we get smiles, we get to be there and to see how happy our little humans are. It’s worth it, it really, really is, but I do sometimes lose sight of that.

My daughter is four going on fourteen. She is sassy, she is opinionated, she is controlling. She is me and I hate it! Because I want to be in control and I don’t want someone who can’t even see the steering wheel telling me how to drive the car or what songs I can or cannot sing or how to sing them. I don’t want to have to tell a little person exactly what I am doing every second of every day or have her sitting at my feet while I take a shit.  After reading that Instagram post last night, I started missing my daughter in her sleep.  I was excited to see her today and was determined to be as present as possible, to enjoy every minute, to keep that image in my head and to have so much fun today.  Well, that lasted about an hour after she woke up.  One stinking hour later and I was annoyed with her, I was hurrying her along, I was nagging her, I was using my mean mommy voice.  I kept reminding myself of that post, but I just wasn’t enjoying our time as much as I wanted to.  I was looking forward to nap time.   I feel like I failed.

Maybe I’m just not playful enough to be the mother of little kids.  I’m not very good a imaginary play.  I watch my own mother with my daughter and they put on costumes, assume made up personalities, talk in accents for hours.  I get bored with this after minutes and I can’t think of what these imaginary characters would be saying or doing.  I want to do a craft, bake some cookies or go for a walk.  My daughter is incredibly high energy and very, very silly.  I have a hard time with this.  I like to read, I need quiet time, I need alone time.  She literally cries when I ask her to play by herself and although she loves books, she cannot read them yet.  I love her, I really, really, achingly, with every fiber of my being, love the shit out of her.  I do.  And I want to be the mother she needs me to be.  But maybe I’m not and that makes me so sad.

So it was no coincidence that a friend sent me the video above today.  It made me feel a little better.  Because we have literally had that day- the day where I felt like I was failing at every turn, where I was sure to have scarred my children for life, only to have Emma tell me at bedtime that it was “the best day ever.”  Because that’s what that silliness and imagination are evidence of in my child- happiness.  She is a glass is half full kind of person.  Give her the shittiest set of circumstances and she will literally find the one fun thing in the mix to tell you about.  And when she is all grown up, she’s not going to remember a mom who had a clean house all the time, whose laundry was never piled up (cuz my pile is super big right now!) and who balanced her checkbook to the penny.  She’s going to remember if her mom was there for her when she needed her- if they laughed together, when they cried together and that they were together all those times.  So the best I can do today is to not sweat the small stuff, to know that I am literally doing the best I can and that most days that is enough.  And to hold my babies tight, for they will never be this little again.