Why I’m not apologizing for my messy bun anymore…

Why I’m not apologizing for my messy bun anymore…

So, I was scrolling through my old Instagram posts recently, and I came across this photo of me, sitting on the couch, freshly home from the hospital with my firstborn. I had asked my husband to capture the moment when we introduced our new baby to our two fur babies. This seemed like an exceptionally pivotal moment. I smile when I remember how nervous we were to bring Maximus home from the hospital. (I kid you not, crazy mother that I am, I was having my carpets in the house professionally steam cleaned that very same day, for fear that even after months of “nesting” that my home was not clean or sanitary enough for a newborn.) When Troy, my husband, picked the girls up from the doggy sitter he brought along a onesie that Maximus had worn in the hospital that smelled like him, to help make the girls familiar with the new baby’s scent. All of these things are permanent products in my memory, but they actually have nothing to do with the topic of this blog! Ha. What stood out to me when looking at this beautiful moment, captured historically on my Instagram account, was my ridiculous caption,

 

“For those that were wondering, introductions of the girls to their new brother couldn’t have gone better!! We are officially a family of five!! (Forgive my crazy hair and appearance!)”

 

It’s that last parenthetical that kills me – Forgive my crazy hair and appearance!

I wanted to reach through the image and slap my former self.

Forgive!? Mama, WTAF is there to forgive!? You literally just brought this baby home. You are a super human. You pushed for 3.5 hours (not including labor) to deliver this amazing child, and you look amazing. Your hair is in a neat and tidy bun on top of your head. Get serious with your life right now. Oh, PS, the bun is here to stay – you’re a mother now. Welcome.

 

The thing was, this was all new. This motherhood thing. As a first-time mom, it is absolutely overwhelming. I had no clue what I was getting into before it hit me. I packed my hospital bag like I was going on a weekend resort vacation. We had taken a 12-week long natural child-birth course, and I was still drastically underprepared for what the realities of postpartum were going to look like. This is a major problem in our society. We expect mothers to deliver and within weeks be ready to walk the catwalk for the VS fashion show. It’s insanity. I’m sure that we will revisit this topic soon, since I will be delivering again in roughly 5 weeks. However, one thing I can be sure of, is that this time around, I will not be apologizing. I swear to embrace my hot mess self, diapers and all, with grace and acceptance. Now I know that a day with a shower is a really, really good day!

 

I visited a hair stylist recently that was asking about my daily hair ritual… I almost laughed out loud. Hmm, let’s see. I wash it every 2-3 days or so. I do use a leave-in conditioning treatment, which is the full and complete extent of my hair product usage. I let it air dry. When it is dry it usually ends up in a ponytail or a tie-back knot of some kind. On really fancy days I do a braid, and the great thing about this is that my next-day hair has a little texture. Otherwise, my hair is straight. Flat. It’s there.

 

Don’t get me wrong, when I get the opportunity to have an actual blowout, I seize the luxury. I still get my hair colored every 8-10 weeks or so, because this is necessary for me to feel like a human. It’s just that on a daily basis, this feels like such a rich indulgence in time-wasting that it’s not even worth contemplating. When your toddler is going to run his cereal and milk fingers through your hair, using a texturizing spray is no longer necessary. Got milk? Texturizing complete!

 

I hear some of you mamas shouting, but yes – what does your hair say about you? What type of person do you really want to present to the world? Don’t you feel better when you put in the extra effort? So, let me respond to that… what does my hair say about me? It says I’m tired. It says I’m busy. It says that I would rather not spend 20 minutes in the morning with a blow-dryer and a round brush when I have someone tugging at my leg to go outside and play “sand” or “read, mama?” It says that at this point in my life, it’s just not really a priority. Guess what. I’m okay with that. Maybe someday, in like a decade, when I’m done having babies and I’m sending all of my littles off to school, perhaps then I will take the 20 minutes. Maybe when I can ethically lock the door to the bathroom without worrying that some small person will absolutely be freaking out or may do something crazy like drink poison, maybe then it will seem important. Right now, I’m just keeping tiny humans alive (one at my feet and one in my belly still), and right now, that seems like enough.

 

So, cheers to not apologizing. Cheers to messy buns. Cheers to motherhood.

 

 

 

Top 5 Things I Do as a Mother to Enhance My Children’s Development

Top 5 Things I Do as a Mother to Enhance My Children’s Development

It’s no secret that I think my son, Maximus, is brilliant. (I have yet to read any research that supports the idea that having low expectations for your kiddos helps them out.) Yes, I believe it is my right as a mother to endorse them shamelessly! This is a quality that I most definitely inherited from my father. Despite it being horrifyingly embarrassing in my teenage years, I always secretly loved when I would show up at my dad’s office and all of his coworkers would know all about my latest and greatest. My exploits were never truly that exceptional or noteworthy, in my opinion, but to my father, every move we (his four children) made was as good as gold. This has always instilled a deep, inner confidence in me that, despite what the world thinks, someone out there believes wholeheartedly and unabashedly in my abilities, my character, and my uniqueness. My father passed away in October of 2007 from brain cancer, but I know to this day that he would be unequivocally proud of me. This continues to be a driving force in my life. I want to instill that same driving force in my children.

 

To that note, I have the same brazen belief that my children (all of them – present and future) are wonderful in their own unique ways and will be successful in their own ways. I will do my absolute darndest to foster their minds, their creativity, and their spirits. At just about 28 months, my son does some pretty amazing things. He can count to 10. He knows all of his colors, and he can name an exceptional number of animals – including “hippopotamus” – which is quite a mouthful for a two-year-old. He blows me away. I do not begin to take full credit for anything that he does, because honestly, his father is brilliant, but I do some things on a daily basis to encourage his development. These things are intentional. I don’t do everything perfectly – far from it – but I thought it might be helpful for other mamas to hear some of the things I am striving for. I am also extremely curious to hear from you all about the things that you do to encourage your children’s brains and spirits, so please share!

 

  1. Read. Read. We go to the library once a week. There are obviously weeks that this is not possible. We relocated recently from Omaha, Nebraska to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During the move, this schedule was upset. However, one of the first things that we did while getting settled was to go explore a few local libraries. Every week we get 5 books. This might change as he grows, but for now, it helps my frazzled mom brain to know each week exactly how many books I’m looking to collect for this week’s drop-off. We try to read every day. To help with this, I keep a basket of books accessible in the living room. I don’t keep many toys out at all times, because I prefer to keep things minimal, but this is important to me. Maximus loves books! He will often grab them and insist on climbing into my lap (or anyone’s lap nearby!) to read.
  2. Talk and Listen. Even since Maximus was old enough to babble, we have back and forth chit-chat. I honestly cannot even tell you what we talk about. Everything. Nothing. I just try to respond when he vocalizes anything. Right now, it’s a lot of me repeating what he says, because he’s two, for clarity or for encouragement… a typical conversation while driving in the car sounds like: “Mommy! Mommy! Excavator!” “Yes, baby, excavator!” “BIG Excavator!” “Yes, that is a huge, yellow excavator!”
  3. Keep Things Fresh and Interesting! This is not always easy. There are a few simple things that I do that help. Firstly, we get out of the house. I actually do not like the term “Stay at Home” mother or parent, because that isn’t even close to what we do. We don’t “stay at home” exclusively. Most days, more days than not, we go OUT. We go to Target (a lot lately with the move!), we go to the park, we go to different attractions in the community, we go for walks, and we just generally go (This is also for mama’s sanity as well!) This is important because he sees and experiences new things all the time. He’s very social, “strangers” love him, and he makes friends wherever we go! I also try to bring new things home. I get that on a tight budget, this may seem overwhelming to constantly have new toys. I LOVE the Target dollar bin for this very reason! It’s easy to grab stickers, or little books, or even flashcards with interesting pictures. They have had their back-to-school selection out, and I have grabbed more than my fair share of goodies lately. These are easy things to toss in the backpack or diaper bag and keep them entertained! We also subscribe to a magazine – we do the Highlights Hello/High Five right now. He loves getting mail, and it’s something new to look at every month. I have heard about these development baby brain boxes – like BarkBox for your baby – but I haven’t tried them yet. It sounds right up my alley.
  4. Limit Screen Time. I know, I know, I know. I know how easy it is. I am guilty as well, sometimes. Recently Maximus threw a giant tantrum, as I was trying to run out the door to meet his father for a cooperate dinner, and I carried him out the door with the iPad in hand. I knew that turning on his “Sinosaurs” (Dinosaurs AKA Land Before Time) would buy him (and his sitter) an hour of calm and quiet. However, I usually try everything else in the world in my distraction bag of tricks. In the grocery store, this means countless snacks and appropriate expectations. (He will not stay in the cart, I know this, so I just try to keep him in the cart as long as I can and he hops in and out!) I don’t generally turn the TV on during the day. I save screen time for the half hour to an hour after dinner when mama is too pooped to do anything else and I frankly just need a freaking break. Some days we don’t do screen time at all. Some days I sit down and watch a movie with him. The big thing is that I don’t rely on this as my go-to problem solver, and I firmly believe in no screen time for babies. This is backed by the AAP’s recommendations. We didn’t introduce the iPad/iPhone until Maximus was about a year and a half. This is a hot topic, so I’m sure I’ll return to this in my blog. https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/american-academy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx
  5. Hugs, Tickles, and Love. When children are growing, their brains grow faster when they are getting healthy doses of affection from key caregivers. The best thing that you can do as a caregiver is to be gentle, responsive, and loving towards the little one in your life. This does more than make them feel good – it helps them to grow and develop, too.

 

This is just a snippet of information about some of the key things that I try to do as a primary caregiver for my little. Feel free to post questions or commentary! Again, I’m excited to hear more about what others do, too!

Mama Kristy – An Introduction

Mama Kristy – An Introduction

Who I Am:

  • I am an advocate. I have a Master’s degree in School Psychology, which means that I’m deeply passionate about children, education, and mental health. I also hold firm beliefs and values about parenting, which is partially why I’m here. I have something to say.
  • I am mother. This one should be a dead-giveaway. As this present moment, my first son is 28 months this side of the womb, and my second son should be making his big debut in roughly 5 – 6 weeks. Motherhood has changed me in so many profound ways.
  • I am a little bit “crunchy” but not so stale that my house smells purely of patchouli. Bless the woman that is. I do use essential oils. I do have a salt lamp that I love to turn on in the evenings and plan to use as my nursing night-light. I nursed my first son until he was just two weeks shy of his second birthday (gasp!), and I believe strongly in the many benefits of breastfeeding, baby-wearing, and gentle, responsive parenting. However, I have yet to own any chickens or an alpaca, and I haven’t owned any hemp clothing in at least a decade. So, you’ll find me somewhere in the middle – teetering strangely between hippie/wholesome and convenience mama on the go. Work with me.
  • I am passionate about what is best for my family. I don’t always know what that is, to be honest, but I’m always striving. This is again, not to say that I do everything perfectly. My two-year-old son does enjoy a MacDonald’s cheeseburger (no pickles) happy meal from time to time (OK, like once a week – shut-up – I’m pregnant.) I want to be healthy and be the best me for them. I want to love them the best, show them the best, teach them the best… what mama doesn’t?
  • I am a feeler. I feel all the feels. I over-share. I promise to be raw, authentic, and honest, because it’s the only way that I know how to be. Some moments that makes me a hot mess, and some moments that makes me passionate, effective, and able to move mountains through sheer will and determination. My intuition drives me, and it doesn’t always “check” all the logical boxes first. I like to think that this is what also makes me sort of fun!
  • I am privileged. Hear me out on this one. We do not have millions of dollars in the bank, and we still live what I would consider to be “paycheck to paycheck” … However, privilege is about more than dollar signs. I am white. My first language is English. By virtue of those things alone, I have access to things in this society that others don’t. I realize that my experience of life, my experience as a mother, a wife, a student, a worker – whatever it be, is not universal. This is my story, and it’s the only one that I can tell. Those other stories need to be told as well – arguably more – so if yours is different, please speak up. I will be the first to admit that sometimes I don’t have all the answers.
  • I am constantly evolving. This is who I am today. Right now. This is not who I will be in a week, a month, or a year. The fun thing about this blogging business is that we get to evolve together.

 

Who I Am NOT:

  • I am not a fashion blogger, a celebrity gossiper, or a social mogul. In fact, my lack of popular culture knowledge has embarrassed me on more than one occasion. You will not find any #ootd posts – unless purely sarcastic and it will be linked to an image of me in a t-shirt and athletic pants, because that is what I live in. Let’s be real. If I put actual pants on it is a special, special day.
  • I am not religious. You will not find any posts about my daily devotional. It is unlikely that I will even use the word “God” unless in an OMG. However, I am spiritual. I have respect for people of all faiths. I just don’t practice, and I certainly don’t preach. I am open to hearing other’s points of view.
  • I am not perfect. I am not a “super mom” (if that even exists!?) and I definitely don’t “have it all together”! Some days the cheese has slid waaaaaayyy off of my cracker, if you know what I mean!
  • I am not a chef, an expert meal planner, or even a really decent cook. There will be no talk of family recipes passed down from generations nor fancy preparations for hosting elaborate parties and meals. If I take a photo of my food, it is definitely something that someone else prepared – or just a sad excuse for a snack disguised as a meal.
  • I don’t take exquisite trips, plan exquisite parties, or generally do fancy things. I will not try to impress you with my fanciness, because it doesn’t exist.

 

 

You know when you have had a really shitty week… like really shitty… and you have that one friend that you get to have coffee with? She doesn’t care that you showed up in sweatpants with yesterday’s eyeliner? Yeah, that one. Her only question is, “Are you OK?” and she actually means it… That’s how I want this blog to feel. Like coffee with your bestie. Or margs. Or whatever. Just promise to read it with a drink in hand and share it with a friend.

 

XO – Mama Kristy

 

 

 

Why Blog?

What better way to start a blog than to discuss why I am starting a blog? (Original, I know!) In a few weeks or months when I forget why the heck I started down this path, perhaps this will serve as a helpful reminder. Also, it may give you (my plentiful readership) a very short glimpse into what you can expect from Kristy Ganow as a blogger. So here we go…

  1. I am a writer. Whether I am writing on paper or in my head, I am always writing. This is the curse of being an INFP. Somehow, I feel it is my soul’s purpose to watch, listen, and interpret the world, and the only way that I can begin to make sense of it all is to write. I was always an avid journalist and creative writer growing up, and although most of what I put on paper these days is in the form of numerous lists or notes in my planner, I still write. I have to write.
  2. To connect. Does the world really need one more mama blog? One more story about birth, breastfeeding, and the struggles of the toddler years? One more perspective on balancing it all, finding your inner strength, and making your own way? One more satire on coffee addiction, lack of sleep, and yoga pants? Simply put – yes. Yes, it does. It is these collective stories, these collective voices, that give light to the human existence and give power to the shared experiences of so many women. There is great freedom in knowing that you’re not alone. Perhaps a mama out there today – on the brink of sheer exhaustion, trolling through Facebook, trying to ignore the sibling fighting going on in her living room, with a stain on her shirt and a half cold cup of coffee in her hand – will click on my page and read. Perhaps she will find some glimmer of truth, a little laugh, maybe a few much-needed tears, and enough motivation to turn off the TV and walk her screaming littles to the park. Then that is enough.
  3. To disconnect. This final reason is pretty selfish. My life right now (okay, permanently) can feel like constant motion with endless demands, endless tasks, and endless distractions. If I can carve out a small piece for me, at the end of a long day or in the middle of nap time, I might – just might – keep my sanity.

So please read. Listen to my story, and please share yours with me along the way. We might just learn a little something.