Bickering Siblings

Sibling_1Last night I met a girlfriend for drinks and a long overdue catch up. Once a month, we try to sneak away after the kids are in bed to talk about life, parenting, and everything in-between. We indulged in one of my favorite cocktails, the Parisian Bouquet at Palmers (fab bar to visit on Filmore). My girlfriend has an almost five-year old girl and two-and-a-half year old boy, similar to myself. One of the topics up for discussion was siblings. Why are some siblings immediately best friends, and others can hardly stand each other? The obvious answers such as control, jealousy, inability to share, and age, all make sense, but try explaining that to your heart when all you experience is bickering toddlers. It’s both exhausting and heartbreaking for a mother to endure over and over again. I can’t help but reflect on what my girlfriend said last night.

“She doesn’t like him”.

“She is mean to him and it’s so sad”.

“She doesn’t play with him”.

You’re so lucky Audrey and Jack play together”.

I wanted to hug her because I’d been there. Although Audrey and Jack are buddies now, this was not always the case. Jack was constantly taking her things, knocking over her lego tower, commanding more of Mom’s attention, and although he was/is the sweetest little boy, he annoyed the heck out of her. I wished my daughter was the type of kid that wanted to play “Mommy” to her little brother. But, instead she wanted to send him back to the hospital. Drawing from my own childhood, I couldn’t relate because my sister was beyond excited for me to be born. I realize now, how lucky I was to be gifted a sister who who never once wanted to “send me back” or “sell me” to another family. To this day, my sister is still one of the kindest, selfless, most nurturing souls I know. It’s a gift that some kids are just born with, and others need to be taught. Personally, I think it’s more common for the first-born to struggle sharing the spotlight with their new, adorable sibling that EVERYONE is obsessing over, than not. Can you really blame them? 

The great news is, THIS WILL CHANGE! It may take longer for some siblings, but I speak from experience. Once Jack became more verbal and active, I started to notice a friendship budding between them. When they began to frequently play together, feelings of relief and happiness followed. It was like my heart was doing a dance inside! For so long, Jack has idolized his big sister. When she learned to ride her scooter, he had to too, even at the young age of 18 months. If Audrey started dancing, he would try to copy her moves. Whatever “Da” (his nickname for her) did, he would too. As the friendship grew, I’d hear Audrey proudly introduce Jack to her friends, and then bring him along to play. At home she calls him “little buddy”. Those two words are music to my ears. She likes him! The energy in the house started to shift, and I truly enjoyed being with them together. Of course we still have bickering and fighting, especially as Jack learns to assert himself more, but it’s part of life with toddlers. Just this morning, the two lost their minds over who is the “real” Spiderman. We were on the brink of a food fight, when I reminded them that it’s Peter Parker, and not either of them. Phew!

So, to the Mom’s who feel like my amazing and beautiful friend from last night, distraught and frustrated with the way your kids treat each other. Hang in there! With a little maturity, your kids will find the love and become the best of friends. Keep being the awesome, patient, loving mom you are. When the days seem long, and you are deep in the trenches of toddler battles, pour yourself a glass of wine, and remember, “This too shall pass!”

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Ten Things I Love About My 30’s

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Half way to 70, really? This past weekend I celebrated my 35th birthday, which isn’t a significant milestone. But, as the date crept up, I found myself reflecting on what life has brought during the past five years of my 30’s. Maybe it’s because 34 had some major ups and downs. Maybe, my recent journaling class, which has been more like a trip down memory lane, has reminded me of my successes, my failures, and personal growth as a wife, daughter, mother, and friend. Maybe, I’m just getting older, and these are things you start to do once you’ve gained a little perspective on life. So, it seemed appropriate to talk about 10 things I love about my 30’s.

1. Friendships

By now, you know who your close friends are. You have weeded out all friendships that are toxic or add little value to your life. Your friendships are the real deal, supportive, loving, and all around kick-ass. You cherish those close friendships, and although life is busier than ever, your connection will never change. Taking on a new friendship is something you also have little time for, so when you do make a new friend, she/he has to be a rockstar.

2. Personal Style

In your 20’s, you could pull off just about any type of style. Youth was on your side, but your income was not. Your wardrobe was half Forever 21 and half Crossroads because this was all you could afford. You were really excited when you scored a designer piece from a second-hand store. Three cheers for something not 100% polyester! Finally, in your 30’s you can afford quality. By now, you know your personal style, and what works for you. You invest in timeless jewelry and clothing that reflects YOU!

3. Wrinkles, Scars, Varicose Veins

Yep, this is on the love list. Scars tell a story. The first bicycle crash you ever had, your dreadful chicken pox experience, the time you burnt your hand cooking with mom, your c-section scar, they all represent a memory. Those beloved varicose veins often come from pregnancy and childbirth, mine did, and they are a reminder that my body created life, and gave me two beautiful children. Laugh lines and wrinkles are part of getting older, but good news here..this means you’re getting wiser (Phew!) and enjoying life. If you don’t have laugh lines, you better rethink #1 or stop taking life so seriously.

4. Your World Is Bigger

Your 20’s follow the it’s-all-about-me teenage years, and you are still focused on yourself. In your 30’s, you have likely traveled more, moved up the corporate ladder, created a family, experienced death and personal loss. The world no longer evolves around you! Congrats, you have officially grown up. Instead of flipping through Life n’ Style, you read The Economist, Fast Company, and watch CNBC. Sure, you still catch some lame article about the Kardashian’s on Refinery 29, because pop culture will always be relevant. But, you respect and follow the leaders who are making a positive difference. Creating a better world for the next generation is your focus, not taking the Kylie Jenner challenge.

5. Getting Carded

You kinda wish someone could have recorded this happening, so that when you see #3 happening to your face and body, you can relish in this moment over and over again. It’s also completely appropriate to share this experience with at least five people or have a mini celebration in your head. You still got it!

6. Your 20’s Are Over

These are some of your best memories ever. Many of those cherished friendships developed during these years. Your best girls helped you get drunk after a bad breakup, and never judged when you did the “walk of shame”. So many “firsts” happened during this decade.  Life was carefree and responsibilities were few. But, you also had no money, had the worst diet, were hungover four days out of the week, lived in a complete mess, and experienced some of your most embarrassing moments. You could not pay me enough money to go back to my 20’s!

7. Forgiveness Comes Easier

Since you are older and wiser, you recognize that being stubborn does no good. You forgive easier, and forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ve made. Life is too short to hold onto grudges.

8. Career vs. Motherhood

I became a mother three months after my 30th birthday. Prior to children, I was working on building my career. Like many mothers, I experienced the internal struggle between raising children as a SAHM, or going back to work and focusing on building my career. I was, and still feel fortunate to have a choice in the matter. After being home for five years, I no longer dwell on the, “what could’ve been” or “the career I gave up”. Life has blessed me with two children, and I’m grateful to be home with them. Career mom, SAHM mom, or working woman without kids, the grass is always greener. It’s a waste of energy and time, to think otherwise. You embrace your life, and live it the best way possible.

9. Family

“Family comes first”, said all Mom’s and Dad’s. Growing up, I heard this over and over again. Well..they were right. Chances are, you feel the same. Time spent with your family is special. Your parents are more like your friends, close confidants, and you genuinely adore spending time with them. You are probably worrying that they are getting older and can’t fathom the idea of losing them. Bottom line – you are incredibly grateful for the parents you were blessed with, and want to spend as much time with them as possible. Not because you have to, because you want to!

10. Confidence

In your 20’s, you were still figuring out who you were. Confused and too concerned with what others thought. You’ve finally embraced, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. You are mature, more experienced, and focused on owning your future.

Cheers to our 30’s and continuing to make life fabulous!

Me Time – Why Is It Hard?

Me_timeMost mornings, I wake to the sound of tiny feet scampering down our hallway towards our bedroom. I love this sound, I look forward to this sound, it’s my favorite part of the day. I’m often greeted by my sleepy daughter, softly whispering, “Mommy, can I come cuddle?” Other times, it’s my son nudging me over, so that he can crawl into the curve of my body and wrap my arms around him. On occasion, we fall back asleep, other times we don’t, but I cherish this time together. Most mom’s would agree that “lying still” isn’t a skill easily acquired by toddlers. So, when I get to hold them quietly, softly rub their back’s as they doze back to sleep, and stare at their sweet squishy faces, it’s a fabulous mommy moment.

This time is short-lived, maybe that’s why it’s so special. Eventually, one kid is wrestling the other off the bed, Mickey Mouse stuffed animals are flying across the room, and someone is yelling “I’m hungry, Mom!” Boom! Just like that, the day begins, and doesn’t stop for 13 hours. After breakfast, we have 20 minutes to get dressed, brush teeth, and do hair. All simple tasks to complete, but when your 2 ½ and 4 ½ year old children, have the focus and energy of two small puppies, it can be challenging. Changing my son’s diaper feels more like putting a diaper on a feral cat, because he kicks and scampers away multiple times. More recently, he has discovered his penis, so he has to smack “it” around for a few minutes, and I’m slightly nervous he might yank it off completely. Basically, changing his diaper should take me one minute, but instead it takes me ten. It’s a small miracle when we all make it to the car, geared up for our day, and ready to drop Audrey at school for the morning. This past Tuesday, as Audrey climbed over the driver’s seat attempting a flip to get in her car seat, I noticed her jeggings were on backwards. Her tiny butt crack, could and should be a blog post all on its own. It’s on display daily, and I have far too many pictures of her little crack hanging out, which begs the question – Can someone in the children’s fashion industry please make proper pants (not leggings, but jeans) for little girls? Anyhow, you can imagine, that with the jeggings on backwards, her booty and polka dot undies were on full display. Hilarious! She insisted on going to school that way, and that her pants were on the right way. I didn’t have time to engage in a five-minute debate on, “why pants have a front and back” or explain in toddler terms, “what a camel toe is” because this somehow happens when she wears them backwards.. so off we went. I forgot to mention that the backwards pant thing happens frequently, but I usually catch it. I can’t wait to share these moments with her when she is older, and hope she finds them as adorable and funny as me. Sometime in between all my morning shenanigans, I hopefully brushed my teeth and put my shirt on right side out.

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 {Here she is this morning, when she put on the same jeggings backwards, again. Hilarious! Luckily, I changed them quickly, but had to share this moment. Too funny!}

This is my life. These are my days, filled with shuttling kids to activities, cooking meals, playing legos, breaking up toddler battles, cleaning up spilled milk, turning jeggings around the proper way, chasing naked escapees from the bathtub, and I wouldn’t change any of it. I love being a mom, but look forward to when I’m able to have, ME TIME. It’s so important, for Mom’s and Dad’s, to give themselves a break. I’m not talking about the minutes spent researching some kid camp you’re considering, doing bills, or laundry. Nope! It needs to be your space to do whatever makes you happy. Maybe its reading a book, or your favorite magazine, maybe it’s working out, sipping a glass of wine while trolling the web. Whatever it is, you need it, you deserve it, you are a better and happier parent when you make this happen. So then, why don’t we make this happen? The reasons are endless. But, I can think of two big culprits.

  • You can always be doing something productive for the family.
  • You feel guilty taking time for yourself.

We struggle to take time for ourselves, and it’s because we feel the guilt. Mike is always rushing home from work to be with the family, to build Batman’s lego car, to go to the park, to be an active parent. He is a wonderful Dad, and I adore watching him with our children. But, he deserves a break. Sure, sometimes he hits the gym during the week, or maybe grabs a beer after work. I also get my breaks. However, instead of rushing through our workouts worrying about the other parent, thinking of all the things that need to get completed before the day has expired, or feeling bad that we aren’t taking the kids somewhere, we both need to stop and embrace, ME TIME. 

And then, there is the third reason I find ME TIME hard. My husband. Maybe some of you can relate. Wowza, that sounds bad when I write it, but it’s not what you think. While I love spending time with my husband, and am grateful we enjoy doing almost everything together, I think it’s both healthy and important for each of us to have alone time. So, after a busy day, and dinner is done, I’m sooooooo (there are not enough “o’s” to emphasize this) ready for the kids bedtime! I love my kids, but after 11 ½ hours of nonstop toddler insanity, that last hour can’t be over fast enough. Then what, ME TIME? Sometimes, but not often.. Here is my battle. When the kids are finally tucked in, and if I’ve finished dishes or lunches, I often want to hop on my laptop, read a book, or craft, but I feel torn because this should be OUR TIME. At the end of the day, I can’t think of anyone I’d rather be with, than my husband. We could be doing nothing, but I treasure the hour or so before bed when it’s just the two of us. Our kids are at fun ages, but it’s busy and demanding on a marriage. Mike and I interact all evening long, but our conversations are 95% focused around the children. This explains why our time together and our time alone, are so sacred.

I think many parents experience these feelings. Part of the process during your kids early years, is figuring out a balance. We want to be the best parents possible, and always put our children first, which isn’t a bad thing. It just means we love them so much. I may have a hard time taking my own advice sometimes, but I truly believe it’s important to take a little ME TIME, and encourage your spouse to do the same. It’s something our house is working on. If you are reading this, and thinking I’m being selfish for focusing on ME TIME too much, then I’ve proved my point. It’s okay to think of your own needs once in a while. Your kids need and depend on you, and it’s your responsibility to take care of yourself, so that you can be the best parent possible. Love yourself as much as you love your family! Until next time..

Raising a Tomboy

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This past Sunday was International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate the women who pioneered our movement for equality, and the brilliant women who inspire us today. As a mother raising a 4½ year old little girl, this holiday has an even greater meaning to me. If I get just a few things right raising my daughter, I hope it’s that she is strong and confident, knows she is smart and capable, believes that she is worthy of great love, and that in a world where women are glamorized for their outer beauty, she remembers that true and meaningful beauty comes from within.

On Sunday, social media was full of inspiring quotes celebrating IWD, but this one really stuck with me.

“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”

I thought, what a great time to reflect on last year’s post “Let it Go“, when I was discovering I had an ambitious tomboy on my hands. If you are recognizing this in your daughter, you may be relishing in the fact that you don’t have to play dolls, paint toenails, read Fancy Nancy, or invest loads of money in a closet full of dresses. Conversely, you may be mourning the loss, of what you dreamt having a little girl meant. Your daughter dreams may have included tutus, sparkles, and all things “girly”. Either way, you may identify with or enjoy this previous post. Today’s post is, again, inspired by my sweet girl, Audrey. There are so many things I love about raising a tomboy, but the below 5 are a few of my favorites.

1. Halloween Costumes. Forget about the costumes that so many young girls want to wear. Your little one will likely be one of the only girls dressed as, Woody, Batman, Ironman, or Peter Pan, but can you blame her? Flying around Neverland – yes please! Defeating villains, saving the day, all while wearing a super cool cape – yes please! Superpowers – I’m an adult and want these! Let me rephrase..I’m a mother and NEED these! She will be an outlier amongst girls dressed up wearing tiara’s, fairy tale gowns, and all things pinkalicious, but it’s awesome!

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2. Physically a risk taker. Don’t be surprised if your little girl rolls to the bathroom instead of walking, climbs over the chair to get to the dinner table, flips out of her bed in the mornings, or jumps from the top of the stairs, nearly giving you a heart attack. Audrey would rather master climbing to the top of a tree, than learn to braid Barbie’s hair.

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3. T-shirt and jeans kinda girl. She will want the boy shirts, the boy shoes, and the boy toys. When Audrey cruises around on her blue scooter wearing ripped jeans, a superman t-shirt with a camo undershirt, spiderman shoes, and two braided pig tails hanging out of her helmet, I can’t help but smile. Just because your little girl chooses boy clothing, or boy related toys, it doesn’t mean she would rather be a boy. It simply means she likes to hang with the boys! Children have varying interests, and they gravitate towards other children with similar hobbies and styles. It makes complete sense that she wouldn’t want to wear a dress. Captain America most definitely doesn’t wear a dress, and neither do most of her buddies at school. Why would she? Bonus, if she has an older brother, then you’re set to use the hand-me-downs!

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4. Pirates,Transformers, Legos, and Robots, are her kind of game. She will build robot machines, rocket ships, and lego cars. She will come home from school sharing stories about playing Captain Hook not Cinderella, Luke Skywalker not Belle, Hero not Elsa. She will identify with the character that seems the most powerful, or that saves everyone from danger. This may often be the “prince” or male inspired “hero”. Embrace it! She wants to be empowered, assertive, and the leader. While I know we need more “female” heroes, I do believe we are making headway. The movie “Brave” was brilliant and Audrey loved it.

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5. Sports lover! This one is for team Dad. She will be interested in all sports, becoming Dad’s sidekick on game day. She will want to win at everything, and will likely be very competitive by nature. Lots of kids love sports and are competitive, so I think this applies across the board, but it seems to be a common trait among her tomboy friends. Luckily, she has a sports fan for a mother, so I’m excited to share this passion with her too!

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Regardless if your daughter is “girly” or a “tomboy”, we all want the same for our daughters (this applies for our boys too). To raise our children the best possible way, with guidance that meets their individual needs. To teach our children to be confident in who they are, and to embrace their unique characteristics. To empower our children to be the best version of themselves. If one day, life should bless Mike and I with another beautiful daughter, a future post may read, “My top 5 favorite things about raising a Princess”, and that would be great as well. Until then, I’ll remain the proud mother of one amazing little girl, who happens to be one badass tomboy.

Your First Baby

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Who doesn’t love a little family sing-along?! Okay, maybe not like this family sing-a-long from the movie Step Brothers, which I find hilarious regardless of how many times I’ve watched it. Nonetheless, singing is a popular activity at the Kimbrough house. Audrey especially loves to sing, so it was no surprise when she came home from school the other day singing “Away in A Manger”.The beauty about music is that at any given time, a song can spark a fond memory or trigger a powerful emotion. Your first wedding dance, your father daughter dance, the song from a loved ones funeral, or the tune you may whisper to your baby at night. Music is powerful. These days, I’ve been known to tear up at that Johnson’s commercial “You’re doing Okay, Mom” which seems to always play on the days I need it most. Thank you Johnson’s! So, as Audrey softly and sweetly sang “Away in A Manger” I pictured the nativity scene where baby Jesus was born, and suddenly the water works came on full force. I love this beautiful song, the words, the message, but when paired with a sweet toddler voice, it just hits the heart. Instantly, memories of when Audrey was a baby began to play in my head; when I held her tiny body for the first time, when I heard her first “real” giggle, when she first ate solid foods and the funny expression that followed, when she proudly took her first step, when she first told me “I love you mommy” and only I could understand her words. Like all mom’s, I love my children equally. That being said, something is unique with your first baby and I think it has to do with the word “first”.

The truth of the matter for me, is that Audrey was a very challenging first baby. When you picture bringing home your sweet bundle of joy, you don’t imagine that it might be the most difficult months ahead of you. Sure, you expect challenges, to be tired, and overwhelmed at times. You’re both new at these roles. But, so many things didn’t go the way I PLANNED. That’s the reality with babies, they could care less about YOUR plan. Nursing was a complete failure, and I was constantly reminded that “breast was best”. In fact, if I heard it again, I may have punched someone in the face. Ladies, after suffering through mastitis and thrush numerous times, sometimes nursing just doesn’t work. It’s okay. The stories about colic became a reality in our life. Mike and I would take turns bouncing on the exercise ball for hours, because it was the only thing that would make Audrey stop screaming. Even into Audrey’s second year of life, the tantrums could be epic. She would have these spells of screaming and pushing out of my arms in a fit of anger and tears. I am her “mom” I should have known how to make her feel better, but I didn’t. I felt helpless, and the burden weighed heavy. The only answer, was to put my daughter down, when every ounce of my body wanted to hold her so tight, to love her, to take away her sadness. I would sit against the wall, watching, and waiting until she would calm down. I’ll never forget the day I decided to join my daughter in her meltdown. I sat down and the two of us had a full on sob fest. I honestly don’t know who was crying more, the 16 month old, or the 31 year old. This was something I definitely didn’t expect as a first time mother. I recall being so very thankful that she would not remember this moment, but I knew I would forever.

Having a challenging baby doesn’t mean you lack the joy, laughter, and love that comes with parenthood. Those first months are precious, and it’s indescribable the amount of happiness that a child brings to a family. However, it’s good to talk about the challenging times, because ALL babies experience them, some just a little more. Your child’s personality develops over the years, and once he/she starts to communicate so much of their emotions make sense. Audrey is a strong-willed, smart, witty, emotional, determined little girl. When Mike and I talk about the harder times during her infant years, Audrey’s actions and meltdowns make so much more sense now. As a toddler, she likes things her way, she wants to do it herself, and she get’s frustrated when she can’t. The same thing was happening during her infant years, but she couldn’t express those feelings any other way than throwing a massive tantrum. Now, when I imagine her at 12 months staring at me, screaming, I bet she was thinking,”Come on Mom, FIGURE IT OUT, I don’t like these tights, I know I can’t talk yet, but can’t you see by my uncontrollable screaming bright red face, that I’m legitimately pissed off?” It all makes me laugh a bit, now. It’s soooo Audrey. She is a girl who knows what she wants! At the time, nothing said could have made me feel better, but if this happened the second time around, I would have been a lot more prepared and emotionally equipped.

You can read and prep all you want for motherhood, but the real skills come from those early months and years with your first born. You and your baby teach each other so much about this new world. For the first time in your life, you will feel the kind of life altering, all consuming, heart pounding love. My little girl brought me that love, but also taught me about motherhood. We were in the trenches together, we made mistakes together, but we only had each other. I am so grateful for all my first mommy experiences with Audrey, from the tender moments to the exhausting moments. As a mother of two, I’m still figuring this parenting thing out, but I can honestly say that it really does get easier. You will never forget your “firsts” as a mother, but thankfully you may not repeat some of them either.