Favorite Posts in October

So I do quite a bit of writing for this here Internet. It's how mama pays the bills. If you're interested, I'd love for you to check some out:

I Refuse to Raise a Bully

“Would you rather your kid be a bully or be bullied?” my friend asked a few years ago, back when our boys were still in diapers.

We grew up asking each other these kinds of questions — sprawled out in my childhood bedroom, arguing over the “Would You Rather” questions printed in that month’s YM magazine — but now we’re grown-ups. And this “Would You Rather” had a grown-up weight to it."


When an Attachment Parent Has to Detach

"It’s no wonder I gravitate toward being an attachment parent; I’m an attachment person. I already told you that I have caretaker tendencies and codependency issues, and that’s the other side of the “attachment parenting” coin. It’s the side that leads to enmeshment and over-bonding — which isn’t emotionally healthy for anyone involved. Except this side has a different label: Helicopter Mom, or Codependent Mom.

Whether we like it or not, our kids eventually need us to detach. And for those of us with attachment issues beyond an attachment philosophy, it can be seriously hard."


7 Reasons Halloween Is Way Better as New Parents

"#5. No more sexy costumes to squeeze into

Rather than worrying about our bare midriffs or super-short skirts (as we did) we’re dressing up babies to look like little old men. On my first Halloween as a new mom, I was 23 years old. My Facebook feed was splashed with frat party photos and lace-up corsets and spandex animal costumes — while I spent my night with a cuddly little animal baby. It was nice to bring some innocence back to a sexed-up holiday. It was nice to remember why this holiday was fun to begin with."


I'm Done Focusing on How My Son "SHOULD" Be

“Daddy, can we fight tonight?” my 5-year-old boy bounces like a terrier, looking up at his towering dad.

It’s the highlight of his day, really. Climbing up on the Big Bed, assuming a superhero identity and back-story, and facing off with kicks and jabs until my husband staggers to the floor in a humbling defeat, “You … got … me.”

My little boy gets into the fighting. He’s been deep in the Good Guy/Bad Guy playtime narrative for a few years now (his entire working memory), except the violence has taken a sharp turn upward.

His drawings are getting bloodier and more elaborate. His imaginary guns and bombs have become more detailed, and when he came home from kindergarten with a crayon-scribbled picture innocently including a school, children, and bombs, I thought, “Crap. I am seriously messing up here.”


Kids Don't Need Internet Limits, They Need Internet Guidance

Our kids have the world at the click of a button. And while you can certainly argue the negatives and scary pitfalls of this strange new world — the desensitizing, the sensory overload, the addictive allure of a blinking screen — the bad always comes with the good. And with something as big and life changing as the Internet, the bad and the good are mega magnified.

Bottom line: The Internet and all of this technology are just tools. Tools that we created, and that we can and should control. Tools that can be used to share our stories, better understand the human condition, and learn about ideas and topics that would have been confined to a textbook only 20 years ago.

And so it’s up to us — parents of digital kids — to teach the next generation how to live and thrive in this new environment. Whether we like it or not, our kids’ future will be heavily reliant and driven by technology — even more than ours is. (At least we remember a life without this permeating technology; that won’t be the case for our kids.) That’s just reality.

So if we’re trying to raise ethical, responsible, productive adults, we have to think about it in a tech-based context as well. And if we can? That just might change the world.


Hey, Kid, You Are the Boss of Your Body

"Excuse me, please! I have something to say: It’s my birthday, and I’m tired of being pinched, noogied, hugged too tight, picked up, grabbed, tickled, and touched in ways that I don’t like. I’m six years old and I’m the boss of my body!”

I read these words to my 5-year-old boy from the book “Miles is the Boss of His Body.” Miles had endured a series of events that most kids, my son included, strongly relate to: an older brother gave him birthday noogies, an excited mother hugged him extra tight, a stranger rustled his hair, and a loving dad lifted him into the air. All harmless. All typical.

But Miles had a point: he is the boss of his body! If something doesn’t feel good, he has a right to say no.

I looked over at my boy as I read the book, reading his face along with the story. How many times have I told him to give Grandma a kiss, when he really didn’t want to? How many times have I grabbed and tickled him when he wanted to be left alone? Does he know that he can say “no”? And that other people can say “no” because we are all bosses of our bodies?


10 Signs You're Raising a Digital Native

Our kids might look and sound like ordinary children — they might enjoy apple picking, playing board games and reading picture books, just as you and I did as kids. But don’t be fooled by their play-dough-crusted fingernails and chocolate-smeared cheeks. There’s nothing ordinary about this newest generation of children.

In fact, these kids’ lives are drastically different than any child ever in the history of the world.

These brand-new children are digital natives, meaning they were born into a world where flat screens and Google are completely normal, expected even. Social media is as pervasive and established as newspapers and cable TV, perhaps more so. The only world they know is a digital world — always buzzing, always clicking, always blinking.

Here are 10 sure signs that you’re raising digital natives:


Young Moms Need Support, Not Shame

Shame reinforces the idea that there are “right” ways and “wrong” ways to be a mother or woman, and the fallacy that anything hard or challenging is bad.

Shame whispers that we’re not good enough, and that our lives aren’t worth supporting. Shame chips away at our motivation and keeps us in a perpetual state of discouragement and defensiveness. It also alienates young women, making us afraid to ask for help because what will people think of me?

Shame is so loud, so consuming, that it keeps us from hearing our true intuitive hearts. It keeps us from being the kind of mothers we could be. It fuels a cycle of insecurity and second-guessing, which ultimately hurts our children as much as it hurts ourselves.


20 Secrets of Motherhood

Psst. PSSSST. You there, with the tired eyes. I know those eyes; I’ve had those eyes.

I could spot a new mom anywhere (and it has nothing to do with that adorable babe strapped to your chest, swinging those baby moccasins). I actually recognize it from the inside out. I remember when everything was so new and confusing — the contentment and adoration and complete exhaustion?

Actually ... now that I’m back to a normal human sleep cycle and can think clearly, and now that I’ve gained a bit of perspective over the past six years, I could let you in on a few secrets. If you want.


No Baggage! And 9 Other Perks of Getting Married Really Young

"...Yet as life happened, I willingly signed a marriage certificate in 2008, with an 8-month-pregnant belly between us. I was 22 years old.

Six years later, I've had more than just my perspective shifted. I've grown and matured in so many ways—mostly because of things in and around my marriage. Yes, marriage is challenging and getting married at a young age sets us up for unique obstacles, but there are also little-known perks to entering marriage and adulthood roughly at the same time. It's not all bad decisions and dead ends."


Messy Finances! And 9 Other Challenges of Getting Married

"...That's not to say we haven't experienced real, unique challenges from getting married in our earliest moments of adulthood. To claim otherwise would be disingenuous, especially considering all life situations have perks and drawbacks. Turns out legally committing yourself to someone in your early 20s has some mountainous obtacles to navigate around, too.

For the sake of full disclosure, let's talk about the hard parts of getting married really young."


I also wrote a print feature for the October issue of Renew. It's a piece on children of addicts and children of codependents, and it was incredibly eye-opening to research and interview. If you have access to the magazine, it's worth a read.

Thank you for reading! XO

Meet Ben: The Child of a Young Mom

Meet Ben.

He was conceived when his mother was only 24 years old. She had recently graduated with an Early Education degree and originally planned on working as an elementary school teacher, but at the time, she was working part-time at a preschool. Her salary wasn't very much, and she ended up putting her career on hold to be a full-time mom.

But Ben wouldn't know that. He always has food and a roof and plenty of love. He has more than enough toys. He's quite happy. In fact, he loves spending every single day with his beautiful Mommy. He'd tell you he's a lucky boy.

His Mommy and Daddy aren't married, and aren't planning to anytime soon. Certain people in their lives are upset about that. "Think about Ben! Poor Ben!" they say.

But Ben doesn't know the difference. He's never asked for legal proof of his parent's love. All he knows is a Mommy and a Daddy who live together. He'd tell you he loves them more than anyone in the world. He'd tell you he's a lucky boy.

Ben is a loving, silly, well-adjusted, smart little boy.

And despite his parent's age, career status, and marital situation, he's doing just fine.

Yes, he's doing just fine.

They're all doing just fine.

(P.S. Ben is my nephew; his mom is my sister. And I love them dearly.)

Young Moms Don't Need Shame. They Need Support.

young and pregnant

“You ruined your life.”

“You need to have an abortion immediately; nothing is more important than your education.”

“Pity. You had such potential.”

These sentences were all said to new young moms, straight in their eyes and into their hearts from people they love and value. (I know because I get emails and messages from young moms all over the world.) Looking from an outside perspective, we can see how these things were said with ignorance, or misguided love, or all of the above. But do you know what that feels like in our hearts? Do you know the weight of those words? Have you felt that kind of searing hopelessness?

I have. At 21 years old, I was thrown headfirst into the subculture of pregnancy and baby — learning how to breastfeed, sifting through an ungodly pool of must-have baby products, and then negotiating maternity leave at an entry-level job that I literally just started. I had no one to teach me; girls my age were barely out of college. “Nipple cream? What is that, some new sex toy?”

And I was in my 20s! I can only imagine the pounding pressure and negativity that young high-school girls face. Girls who had sex — just like so many high-school girls do, with or without protection — but ended up seeing two lines instead of one on their pregnancy test. There’s no turning back; she’s pregnant. We can’t shame that away, or wag our finger hard enough to turn back the time. But man, we sure do try.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the young moms I’ve met behind my computer screen, it’s that people say the rudest things when you’re a baby-faced woman pushing a stroller. Opinions, warnings, flat-out prophecies — all fair game when you’re a young-looking girl with a pregnant belly. Bonus points if your left finger is bare.  Instead of hearing “congratulations,” we’re told, “I’m sorry.”

We don’t see moms that look like us on TV — not unless it’s a mug shot, or reality TV stereotype, or another fear-based cautionary tale. We walk down the street and see billboards about how we’re not only ruining our own lives, but our children’s lives. (SHAME ON YOU.) Billboards that say things like, “You’re supposed to be changing the world…not changing diapers #NoTeenPreg.” (SHAME ON YOU.)


Hayley's Advice to Student Moms: "I Brought My Baby to Class!"

When Hayley posted this in our Early Mama FB group, comments ranged from "Wow! Amazing! YOU ROCK!" to "I've been thinking about doing the same, how did you do it?!"

So I figured I'd ask Hayley a few more questions, for any other student mamas in need of some inspiration.

1. How did you approach your professors about bringing your brand-new baby to class? Were any professors resistant?

I was extremely lucky in that Creighton University is a smaller school, so I knew most of my professors from various classes or activities and all of them were extremely accommodating and supportive. I know that I would not have been successful without them. I emailed them a few weeks before the semester started. I told them when Jude was due and that I was going to be taking a short time off. When it came to bringing up the subject of taking Jude to class with me, I never really asked permission. I just explained that in order to be a good student and mother I had decided I needed to bring Jude to class with me. I offered to meet with them ahead of time to discuss any issues and said that if it became a distraction to either them or my classmates at some point during the semester, that I would make other arrangements. Creighton University doesn’t have a specific policy on babies in class so it really is up to individual professors, and they were all open and supportive.

2. A lot of student parents might worry about what their classmates might think. What was your experience with this?

My first few days bringing Jude to class were scary and nerve-wracking. I felt extremely self-conscious, knowing that all eyes were on me in every class. I was very nervous of what others thought. Every peep he would make my classmates would turn, and because Creighton has small class sizes, usually my professor would be interrupted as well. To be honest, in the beginning, there was lots of crying after getting home from a day of class. I felt really overwhelmed, but eventually it became more natural, I gained more confidence, felt more comfortable, and somewhere along the way it became our new norm. It became normal for everyone else around me too, classmates and professors weren’t bothered by a small baby noise now and then, and generally ignored us and that made it easier.

I wore him in a baby carrier during lectures. It was where he was happiest and most content and allowed me to have my hands free for note taking. Some days he just needed to be held. On those days, I relied on recorded lectures or notes from friends. I also nursed him in class. I never encountered any adverse reactions to nursing in public, and I am super grateful for that because it was my go to way to comfort him when he got fussy and that way I didn’t have to fret over scheduling feedings just right or missing class to feed him elsewhere. I always sat near a door to get in and out easily in case he wouldn’t settle and if possible at the back of the classroom so that I could stand and bounce him if I needed. Every class zapped my energy, between caring for him and listening to lessons, but we did it, and it worked. As he got out of the newborn stage and was awake for longer stretches and more interactive, it did become harder. He was about 3 months when I graduated, so I can’t comment on what it would be like to take an older baby to class.

3. What advice do you have for new moms in college, who might worry about balancing it all?

It's hard, and it's okay that it's hard. It's okay to recognize your own limitations and to adjust to those. The idea of "doing it all" or "having it all" is a myth. I didn't understand that at first, so I struggled most with guilt. Jude and I never got to have maternity leave. His first months earth side weren't cushy, dreamy, or quiet. I was plagued with "what ifs" and wishes for a different life. I whisked him from one loud place to another, I was less than calm most of the time, and my attention was divided. I am sure many mothers struggle with guilt, about anything and everything when it comes to their babies, but I grieved for the easier, beautiful, and soft transition I couldn't give Jude. I would feel so sad, and sometimes angry, and I feel that many student moms can understand the feeling and get caught in it.

But I had to let go of that. I instead focused on the unique beauty of our own situation and bonded strongly to Jude despite everything I was juggling. Guilt can rob you of happiness, time, and success, so you have to learn to let go. My last semester of college was by far the hardest thing I have ever done, but walking across the stage in my graduation gown with my degree in hand, I knew I wouldn't have it any other way.

Congratulations Hayley, and good luck on applying to medical school! Thank you for providing such an insightful and inspirational message to the other early mamas out there.

Check out more advice from former student moms:

Kayla: "Try to create a schedule that is babysitter friendly."

Victoria: "Find a support team!"

Chaunie: "I think one of the biggest challenges is simply feeling accepted."

If you have a story to share, please send me an email!

The Ups and Downs of a Young Marriage

young marriage

My marriage is in a rocky place. And I don't just mean "some days are harder than others" — that's marriage, kids, buckle up — but we're in a place where the pendulum swings are dramatic and quick. If you would have talked to me two days ago, I was sure my marriage would end. And not in that immediate "I'm so angry I need out" kind of a way, but in a heartbreaking realization that this simply can't last. That we're no longer good together. That we bring out the worst in each other, and even though I love him, it's time to move on. Because I have to love me too. I've been mourning my marriage for the better part of a year.

And then yesterday we had a bit of a breakthrough, as we tend to do. We connected again, and I remembered him. I remembered us.

The pain is deep, though. Our issues are things like "trust" and "respect" and "communication." You know, the little things. It's hard to marry a broken person — even worse, a person who didn't realize they were broken to begin with. That's a ludicrous thing to say, of course, because we're all broken. Especially in our twenties. I have issues of my own — my own holes to fill and dings to patch — and even though it seemed like our broken pieces fit together like a puzzle, they didn't. They don't. Now I see that some of those pieces were forced together, and the gaps are starting to show. Now I see that we each have missing pieces, and we're responsible for finding them on our own.

We're good together though. We have fun, we laugh, we love deeply and fiercely. We forgive each other for being human and flawed — I've touched the core of forgiveness and I know it's real — but still. The pain? That's real too. Maybe we've come to a place where the most loving thing to do for ourselves, for each other, for the family, is to take our space and part our ways before bitterness and anger consumes our hearts.

Maybe.

He hates when I say stuff like that — when I sit him down and ask if he really loves me in the way that I need to be loved, and to think about whether we have anything left to give. Love has so many definitions, right? It gets muddled with romance and attraction and appreciation and companionship, but what is LOVE? Strip away all of the rom-com definitions, and love is kindness. If it isn't kind, then it isn't love. If it hurts, it isn't love. How could love hurt?

We're doing the best we can. Some days are really hard. Of course the lines get blurry when there's a child involved — we want to be good examples, and we REALLY don't want to rip his dad away from him. In a lot of ways I'm grateful that we have a reason to keep working at our relationship and to keep holding each other to the promises we made (before we knew what those promises actually meant). Because I would have been out by now, for sure. And yet, as crazy as this sounds, I think I'm a better person because I stayed.

I've grown so much in this marriage. Even if we ultimately part ways — knowing that sometimes saying goodbye is the most loving thing to do, so we can move on to new experiences and new people that bring new lessons — that will never take away from what THIS marriage has meant.

And even if we do end up separating, I won't blame our young age. Because some things are human problems, not age problems. Jumping into the adult world so quickly has made me the person I am today, and the problems we have don't expire at a certain age.

That being said, we're here. We're standing. We're holding hands, even. Despite the ups and downs and lefts and rights, there IS love.

I've started to write about my marriage for YourTango.com, which feels like the scariest, most vulnerable thing I've done yet. But if I'm going to tell my story, I'm going to tell it honestly. I'm working on pieces about being a codependent wife, and about being married to someone suffering through an addiction. I felt very alone for a long time, and I know there are people who could use my story. So I'm going to tell it.

My first pieces were a bit lighter. If you're in a young marriage or even a young relationship, I'm sure you'll relate. Go on and read them below...

You can also read Gemma's version of why SHE loves her young marriage, which got me to thinking about my own reasons.

No matter what people will tell you — and whoooo-boy, they'll tell you — there's no "right" decision for a perfect and happy life. There is no such thing as a Happily Ever After. There are highs and lows, pros and cons. Welcome to life.

In the words of the great Monica Geller...

FRIENDS GIF

Sometimes it sucks, sure. But today? Today I'm going to love.

Your Voice Matters

Your story matters. Your challenges and experiences matter. The things you've learned, they matter.

They matter to all of the other younger mamas out there feeling alone, in need of inspiration. We all just want to be heard, to be validated. To know that someone else "gets" it and maybe, just maybe, things will be okay. Maybe, just maybe, things are already okay.

When Sarah shared her story about being pregnant in college, someone out there saw their own storyline on the screen and nodded along. It was "a breath of fresh air," as one commenter said.

"My biggest recommendation for young women who are pregnant in college, whether through choice or whether they are devastated at those little lines, is find your community, your tribe, your people who will be your safe place. For me, it was my church and those few professors who were willing to ask me how I was doing that week. It might be your girlfriends or your family or your husband's or boyfriend's family, but those people who support you are worth more than any financial aid."  — Sarah

When Krishann shared her story about finishing her degree as a single mom in college, and how she eventually met a new man and complete her family, someone out there said, "That could be me. If she can do it, I can do it."

"When my daughter was two she would go to her Nana (my mom) and say that her father (biological) didn’t like her and ask her why. She didn’t understand why her friends’ daddies would come to the class events and pick them up. She felt like something was wrong with her and would talk as if it was her fault. My heart hurt so badly for my child and I struggled with how to help her understand that it wasn’t about her. I felt like her little heart was concerned about things that it never should have been concerned about. I would beat myself up because I felt like it was my fault. I felt like she was suffering because of the choices I made. She didn’t pick her father; I did. I was the one who kept trying to fix a relationship that couldn’t be fixed.

Leaving her father was difficult, only because I was afraid that she would grow up without a father and I didn’t want that for her. I had to learn that being with someone doesn’t guarantee that they will be there for their child, and that taking care of myself and my happiness was one of the best things that I could have ever done for her."  — Krishann

When Gemma opened up about her miscarriage (as did Amber), someone out there read her words and cried, feeling the pain in her own heart.

"I was stunned and heartbroken by the number of women who reached out to me privately to let me know they too had known this grief. Many of them were young. Some weren’t mothers yet, only for that brief and fleeting time they held new life inside of them. It does happen to the girl who gets pregnant without even trying. It happens to all kinds of women.

I soon found out, through this private outreach of love and support, why young mothers or young would-have-been mothers don’t speak out about their miscarriages. Because when you are young and unexpectedly pregnant and the unthinkable happens, you aren’t always met with gasps of horror, you’re met with sighs of relief."   — Gemma

And how about when Darlene told us about studying abroad with her toddler? Young moms sat behind their screen and thought, "DUDE. HOW COOL. Can I do that?! I just might do that!" Or when Jessica told us the story about knowing her frat-living boyfriend for only 6 months before getting pregnant, and they're now married and growing a family.

YOUR STORIES MATTER.

So go ahead and tell us yours with this new feature: Add your voice.

Someone out there needs to hear it.


Shhh! 20 Secrets of Motherhood

20 Secrets of Motherhood

You may be under the impression that every "real" mom has their shit together. Everything comes naturally to them — they're grown up, smart, "ready" in ways you simply aren't. You don't look like the moms in the glossy magazine ads. You have no idea what you're doing (but you're pretty sure you're doing it all wrong).

The truth is, there's not much difference between being a young mom or a not-so-young mom — not in our hearts, at least. Rather than separate yourself from the pack, assuming that you're less than, I'm going to let you in on the universal secrets of motherhood.

Between you and me...

We all feel like we're failing, at times.

And other times, when our children are polite and inquisitive and lovely, we feel like we're doing a pretty solid job. It's a roller coaster, but those moments of internal failure still hit us like a brick to the heart. You're not the only one who feels them.

We might be mothers, but we still have unhealthy patterns and hardwired conditioning that gets in the way.

We're still humans — struggling with stuff from our childhood and other personal issues that get in the way of us being fully healthy and mature. Tiny people look up to us like we know what we're doing — and mothers PRETEND to be all-knowing, all-perfect beings — but we're not. We're just flawed people, like anyone else.

We don't enjoy every minute.

And we don't have to.

We have a universal heaviness in our hearts.

A mixture of sadness, fear, gratitude, and bursting love. Get used to that extra weight; it isn't going anywhere.

We're permanently insane

We shoot up from a dead sleep to listen to a baby’s rising chest — just to make sure. We think we hear a tiny voice calling us from the other room, but the house is empty. We irrationally mull over the worst possible scenarios that could happen to our kids before falling asleep. The insanity in me recognizes the insanity in you. Namaste.



Your Happily Ever After Doesn't Exist

your happily ever after doesn't exist

I didn't think about our vows much before reciting the script at City Hall. I said the words I was told to say — "in sickness and in health" — obediently on cue, but did I understand what they meant? To live with more sickness than health? More poor times than rich? More worse times than better?

At the time, I was making a choice. A choice to be a family — to stay a family — for our unborn son. To make whatever sacrifices I needed to make for our unit to be strong and solid. (That, and I love this man tremendously.)

Even though our vows were mercilessly tested during the past six years, I never regretted my decision to get married. Because maybe the only way to truly understand those vows is to live through them.

***

I don't know anyone who has a perfect marriage or relationship. We all have our stuff. On the outside, everything can look shiny and smiley, but open up to a married friend. Peek behind her closed doors, past the strategically disguised skeletons, and you'll see some STUFF. Different, but all challenging.

And so I started thinking about that grand fallacy we were fed as kids: Happily Ever After. As if one day something will happen — we'll meet The One, we'll reach a goal, we'll put on a white dress and walk down an aisle — and then BLAM. Happily ever after. A stagnant stream of bliss and contentment. THE END.

It doesn't take long into adulthood for us to see the absurdity in this, and the patronizing way we peddle it to kids. Why set ourselves up for such disappointment? Such illogical ideals? THAT'S NOT HOW LIFE WORKS, KIDS.

And thank goodness it doesn't. An endless, monotonous Happily Ever After sounds terribly boring.

your happily ever after doesn't exist.

We don't read the book for the ending, do we? The part of the movie where they ride off into the sunset, white veil trailing behind, isn't the most compelling. The story is about the struggle, the conflict, the unexpected plot twists. That's when the characters grow and the readers learn. That's why we read the damn book to begin with.

No matter what the fairy tales told us...

You are not entitled to a perfect marriage, or an easy marriage. It doesn't exist. Cohabiting and coexisting with another human is universally hard, but it teaches us important things — things like sacrifice, interconnectedness, and forgiveness of our basic human failings. Marriage is a learning experience, not an ending.

You are not entitled to a perfectly planned life. Eventually your life will get rocked off its course, and it'll probably be the best thing that ever happened to you (even when it doesn't feel that way).

happily ever after

You are not entitled to a Happily Ever After. But you are entitled to an interesting story.

15 Young Moms to Follow On Instagram

youngmomsinstagram

We're all guilty of scrolling through our feeds and timelines, unintentionally comparing our lives to the 20-something friends posting vacation selfies and wild parties ("Is that how I'm supposed to be living?"), or to the glossy-mag moms who look, dress, and act nothing like you do ("Am I a real mom?").

Sometimes it helps to find other women living a similar lifestyle — to feel normal. To feel less alone.

So I started a #followfriday feature on the @earlymama Instagram, to help fill your feed with moms who are more like you — inspiring, cool, stylish, happy. Women who balance school/work/motherhood/relationships/new adulthood before the age of 30.  Moms who make young motherhood look good.

Here's are 15 must-follow young moms on Instagram:

 

Katie Michelle @katie_did_what

katiedidwhat
katie did what

Katie — a 26-year-old new mom in California — is our most recent #followfriday, and I started following her during her pregnancy. Since then she's posted the most AH-DORABLE photos of her young family, and she also has a separate Instagram account for anyone looking for some fitness motivation after baby (@katiedidwhat_tiu).

Instagram: @katie_did_what

Blog: Katie Did What

Follow her for: Baby photos, cool "young mom" fashion/beauty, and fitness motivation.

 

Lacy Stroessner @lacystroess

lacy stroessner
youngmom

Over the past few years, Lacy has become one of my most favorite "early mama" blogging buddies (in addition to her own blog, she writes for Disney Baby and mom.me). With three gorgeous little girls and a picturesque farm-life feed, she brings the 20-something rural stay-at-home mom gig to life.

Instagram: @lacystroess

Blog: Living On Love

Follow her for: SAHM camaraderie, AMAZING recipes + craft ideas, and the cutest sisterly love.

(Also check out her essay on Early Mama: Wanting and Choosing Young Motherhood)

 

Victoria Hemeyer @victoriahemeyer

A popular young mama on Instagram, her mountain-living life is candid and genuine and bursting with love. She's posted about balancing coursework and finals with motherhood, but her feed is mostly adoration for her little boy. She just might make you feel more hopeful and valid as a young mom.

Instagram: @victoriahemeyer

Etsy shop: ShopMountainMade

Follow her for: "Early Mama" mountain living, mom-and-son love, and fitness inspiration.

 

Chaunie Brusie @cmbrusie

youngmomblog
chauniebrusie

Chaunie is another personal "blogging buddy" of mine, and a fellow young-mom supporter through her blogs, book, and speaking engagements. After thinking her life just might be over from an unplanned pregnancy in college, she's gone on to prove that young motherhood was the very best thing to happen for her life and career.

Instagram: @cmbrusie

Blog: Tiny Blue Lines

Follow her for: Big family inspiration (she has four kids in her 20s!), the squishiest baby photos, and young mom support.

Also read:

 

Melissa Schartz @Kourtney_Shotz

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I started reading Melissa's blog back when she was just a "young wife," and I've loved watching her embrace young motherhood as well. I especially love that she keeps it real on her Instagram feed, like this recent caption:

Motherhood today was: the hot mess express. The emotional roller coaster. The epic postpartum hair regrowth debacle. The two doctor visits in one day kind of day. It was a ROUGH one. BUT we made it, well technically we’re still trying, but we’re hopeful and we’re still grateful. After all, can a day full of snuggles really be that bad of a day?? #theanswerisno #poorbaby #sickbaby #henryharper #henrygram
— @kourtney_shotz

Instagram: @kourtney_shotz

Blog: Love Like Johnny and June

Follow her for: "Young mom" fashion and baby products, fitness progress, and the sa-weetest little toddler boy.

 

Becka Lorene @beckalorene

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Another gorgeous 20-something mom I stumbled on, Becka will inspire you to grab some lipstick and put yourself together for crying out loud. No frumpy mom here.

Instagram: @beckalorene

Follow her for: Proof that young motherhood can look stylish and fun. (Also? That boy! Edible!)

 

Sydney Poulton @sydneyliann

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Sydney is a wildly popular fashion blogger, and following her Instagram feed will make you understand why. She recently had her second baby, which calls for even more achingly adorable shots.

Instagram: @sydneyliann

Blog: The Daybook

Follow her for: The sweetest photos of a young family, probably ever. And her young-mom pregnancy/mom style is off the charts.

 

Victoria Garcia @victoriagarcia77

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I recently featured Victoria's advice to student moms on Early Mama, and her Instagram is worth a "follow" too.

Instagram: @victoriagarcia77

Follow her for: A relatable Colorado-based, post-grad young mom starting her career and enjoying her small family.

 

Krishann Briscoe @hismrshermr

I just adore Krishann. I've gotten to know her well over the last few years, and she's a complete inspiration — especially for single young moms who wonder if they'll ever find a companion. (Krishann did.) She's embraced her "early mama" life with grace and love, and her Instagram feed is a representation of that.

Instagram: @hismrshermr

Blog: His Mrs. Her Mr.

Follow her for: A down-to-earth look at a real "early mama" life.

(Also read my Q+A with Krishann: Formerly Single Mom Finds Happiness)

 

Christina Childress @christinalikesbirds

You might remember Christina as the young mom who had (surprise!) triplets right out of college. In addition to being a Texas-based MOM OF TRIPLETS, she's also a graphic designer and an incredible photographer (see her Web site below). She actually designed the logo/graphics here on Early Mama!

Instagram: @christinalikesbirds

Web site: Christina Childress Photography

Follow her for: Incredible photos and a peek inside a young family with the CUTEST triplets.

 

Kristel Acevedo @kristelace

This Miami-based 20-something mama is making a name for herself as a blogger, and you can find her writing/'gramming about her two kids, her "early" marriage, and her faith.

Instagram: @kristelace

Blog: Glowing Light

Follow her for: Beautiful family photos and Christian connection.

 

Heather Scot Nelson @QuirkyFeather

Another Instagram find, Heather is certainly quirky...and fun and happy and absolutely gorgeous. (Seriously, THAT HAIR.) Ever since I started following her, my feed has been a little sunnier.

Instagram: @QuirkyFeather

Blog: Quirky Feather

Follow her for: Smiles, giggles, and serious fashion/beauty coveting.

 

@RadandRebellious

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If this single 20-something mama doesn't embody everything "rad," then no one does. Look at her! She's young and hot and just WAIT until you see how stylish her little man always looks.

The second photo is actually a photo from her clothing line, Rad and Rebellious Apparel, because clearly this mama has a duty to make the rest of our kids as rad as hers.

Instagram: @RadandRebellious, @RadandRebellious_ and @radandrebelliousapparel

Blog: Rad and Rebellious

Store: Rad and Rebellious

Follow her for: Undeniable proof that you don't have to lose your style or personality just because you're now a mom.

 

Lauren Hartmann @thelittlethingswedo

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Lauren — blogger and stylist — married her college sweetheart and started a family in her mid 20s over in the Pacific Northwest. As if her feed wasn't adorable enough with little fashion maven Fern, she's recently welcomed baby Clive to the mix. Her feed and blog is, without a doubt, one of my faves, and I know you'll love her too. She's real, honest, and completely lovely.

Instagram: @thelittlethingswedo

Blog: The Little Things We Do

Follow her for: Toddler and baby style, mama style, and an enviable Oregon backdrop.

 

Brandy @heartandhabit

Brandy — a Toronto-based mom of two — started a family in her mid-20s, launched a successful blog, and is now an apparel designer with the sweetest clothing collaborations. Besides her two stylish and loving kids, she posts photos about her yoga practice and her totally-in-love marriage.

Instagram: @heartandhabit

Blog: Heart and Habit

Follow her for: Heart-melting sibling affection, yoga inspiration, and gorgeous photos around Toronto. And fashion! Accessible, effortless, adorable fashion.

(Also read my Q+A with Brandy for more.)


I know there are dozens, hundreds, thousands of inspiring early mamas out there. Comment below with your faves, and be sure to include your own Instagram link so we can follow each other!

Follow @earlymama for more #followfriday picks, and don't forget to search/tag with #earlymama.

Loving Our Kids As They Are

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You know how I feel about the "shoulds" of life. We get it from our friends and our teachers and our movies and our Internets — but it starts much sooner than that.

It starts in our homes. It starts before we're out of diapers. It starts in the minds and words of our parents.

I wrote a post for Babble.com called "I'm Done Focusing on How My Son 'Should' Be" about just this.

"Today I will accept you for who you are. I will do my best to step away from the image of who I want you to be, or who I think you might be, and see you.

Today I will pay attention to the things that bring you joy and the things that bring you pain, without judging whether they’re good or wrong.

Today I won’t absorb your feelings, outbursts, or mistakes as my personal failures. I’ll acknowledge your thoughts and feelings as being REAL, without trying to fix, change, or condemn.

Today I will tell you that you are okay, just the way you are. It’s okay to feel anxious. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel angry. It’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling, as long as you don’t act in a way that hurts yourself or someone else.

Today I won’t attempt to control your personality, label your feelings, or resist reality with “can’ts” and “shoulds” and “if onlys”.

Today I won’t compare you to a standard, or a person, or a timetable. I will meet you wherever you are.

Today I’ll notice your strengths over your shortcomings. I’ll encourage, not criticize.

Today and every day, I will be the one person who unconditionally accepts and loves you. The one person who sees you, even when the surrounding “shoulds” make it hard for you to see yourself."