Unwrapped Presence 

When you go out with friends or family, how often do you fidget with your phone? When you have to wait or sit physically still – such as at the doctor’s office, the DMV, waiting in line at the grocery store, awaiting a teller at the bank, etc. – do you take in your surroundings and wait patiently? Or do you search frantically for a distraction or force for speeding up the experience?I don’t normally aim to interrogate in these blog posts, but I’m hoping that anyone else reading this might learn some things about themselves by providing honest answers to these questions. I had to answer these questions honestly, too, and I didn’t like what I saw. When I was still on social media, it was often the first place I would go when the day started, and the last place I would touch base before ending the day. I would give half-interested “Uh-huhs” as people I loved, like my child, husband, parents, and/or friends would attempt to spend time with me over a meal, an outing, or even just a simple conversation. I found myself looking too far into the future and becoming concerned over situations that hadn’t developed and likely never would. I was constantly distracted, which for me is a lot like creating the busy bustle of noise and stimuli of Grand Central Station inside my brain. 

This was the equivalent of giving 40%-60% of myself to the people I claimed to care most for. 

The life reset I enacted in June of 2016 was kicked off as an effort to correct this. I didn’t want to be a drone wife and mom. I didn’t want to be the inconsiderate cell phone person. I didn’t want to miss out on the precious moments because I was too busy trying to create moments in a separate, alternate reality that existed on the internet or in my mind. 

This is called living in the present. It’s also often referred to as being intentional. 

Even since the life reset, I am not always 100% intentional, but perfection isn’t practical. However, I would say that I’ve increased my ability to be present, mindful, and intentional to the benefit of myself and those around me since I made the decision to try. 

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Since my son has joined us, I’ve been working hard to maintain this level of intention. My kids deserve all or most of me, as does my husband. I was chosen to live this life with them – to care for my two babies, to grow through challenges and obstacles with my husband, to set the best example I can, and to learn as I go. I am grateful I was the one God chose for this, even though I sometimes question whether or not I am right for it. I’ve had to unwrap my presence in order to be the best that I can for them. It’s simple, not easy, but I like this practice for its ability to make me feel as if I am living my life more fully for myself and the people around me. My sense of purpose and awareness grows through this practice. 

And so I challenge you – if you know you can pay more attention, give more of yourself, do a better job of listening, or simply dial down the phone/app addiction…I challenge you to take the steps to do that. Your steps may not look like mine (an entire exile on social media, and a general pullback from most social circles) but I encourage you to still take them. The people who love you will probably appreciate it. 

What 12 Months of Breastfeeding Has Taught Me

Breastfeeding is beautiful.

It’s beautiful to nourish your baby with nutrients that will help them grow. In addition, breastfeeding is a nice practice in that it forces us as moms to slow down and be in the moment with our babies. In order to maintain supply and comfort, it’s crucial to keep up the habit on a steady schedule, which is usually determined by baby, and it’s during these moments that I got to put my feet up and withdraw from everything hectic for a while. It was those moments of rocking my daughter in her nursery as raindrops patted against her window that were my favorites. I could stare into her eyes and hold her close in a pocket of calming silence.

Breastfeeding is challenging.

I was very blessed that Kennedy was able to pick up latching and feeding very easily. Other than the normal pains and leaking issues that happened when we first started, I experienced no problems with breastfeeding her. However, when I began working and reinstating parts of my lifestyle as they had been before she was born, scheduling time to feed or pump became difficult. As I did this, I watched other friends who had babies around the same time I did deal with their own woes as little ones broke from habit, supplies ran low, and pumping didn’t go as planned. It’s a commitment to decide to breastfeed, and even with all of the best intentions in the world, it doesn’t always work out as we want it to. Throw in all of the judgmental attitudes about breastfeeding vs. formula, and nursing “best” practices, and it’s a bit of a battlefield for moms to try to find what works without surrendering to something that alienates them.


Being a breastfeeding mom doesn’t make me any more of a mother than any other woman with a child.

I tucked this one into the middle of this blog post, mainly because I didn’t want to turn off readers with a soapbox rant in the opening lines of this. We really must change the narrative on breastfeeding and all of the snobby weight it carries for some. Science has shown us that breast milk contains the most and best nutrients for babies, and as parents, all we want to do is provide the best to our offspring. However, things get in the way of that sometimes. Not all parents can send their children to private schools and Ivy League colleges either. Why we place so much pressure on breastfeeding, and imply that you’re a sorry excuse for a mother if you don’t or can’t, I will never ever understand. What I will say is this, though: I don’t think I’m hot shit just because I breastfed for Kennedy’s first year. And the only mom who I will judge is the one who chooses not to feed her child anything. Starving your baby makes you a bad mom, not feeding your baby formula. 

 

Western culture really needs to tone down the sexualization of breasts, and beef up its embrace of one of nature’s simplest gifts.

Boobs are awesome. I don’t think women want to give them up, either. I know I sure don’t. But can we acknowledge the purpose women were given breasts? They’re tools with which to sustain a baby’s life after birth first and foremost. They’re beautiful in their ability and purpose first. Leave aesthetics off the table for a minute. And stop calling it disgusting when a woman breastfeeds in your presence, but applauding trampy celebrities for having their boobs on display just because. Any chick can flaunt her boobs for attention, but not every woman can breastfeed.

 

My body is capable of some pretty amazing things.

I love this body of mine. I really love this body of mine. I do. I wasn’t always courageous enough to love the woman I see in the mirror, but I’m more than happy to now. I may not be tone in all of the places I want to be, but I move so much faster now than I did in my early 20s. I move with purpose, because I usually move to push my daughter in a stroller, or chase after her as she runs through the grass at the park, or even to follow after her as she ventures into corners of our house that I don’t want her in. My body functions on little sleep and still gets the job done. My body is fun to dress up.

I love that my body was able to grow and nourish her over the past 19 months. I can’t wait to do it again with my next child.


I don’t want to do it anymore. (Not with Kennedy, at least)

We’ve had a good run, but the weaning process has been started. I’m glad I could do this for this long, and I will definitely do it again with my future babies, but the next chapter of feeding and nourishment is here for my firstborn, and it’s best for the both of us.