Virtues from Motherhood: Shaking guilt

For all of Ava’s life it’s just been her and me. Ava’s dad has never really been involved in her life consistently and it’s never seemed to bother him that he’s missed every single milestone in her life and has little to no bond with her. That alone baffled me, how could you not be apart of a life you created?!

Confusion aside I was hurt and felt guilty, mostly guilty, for bringing Ava into the world with only half her parents to raise her. I never wanted her to be that kid from a broken home and I had hope that he would wake up and realize despite our inability to be together that he should step up and be a father. Sadly, not surprisingly, he chose not to and was completely absent from her life for five years, seeing her once a year and calling her maybe half a dozen times at best. On father’s day or parent’s day at school I always felt such guilt under my proud mom smile. I couldn’t help but notice her looking around at other kids who had both parents there all the time and though she didn’t look too bothered I knew it had crossed her mind. I knew eventually she’d ask why he wasn’t there or why he never answered the phone and I secretly hoped it’d be when she was much older.

Unfortunately my luck ran out when she was 5 and she asked me why her daddy never celebrated her birthday with her (for the record he was present at her first birthday but she doesn’t remember that). I was overwhelmed with panic and sadness and told her that her daddy was busy working but she was too quick for me and asked why her friend Riley’s daddy could work and be at her party. I held back tears when I told her I really didn’t know and that I would always make sure she had the best birthdays in the world.

Now I wasn’t lying I really didn’t know why he couldn’t call or send a card, I was just as confused as she was and at every holiday, school event or special occasion tears would well up in my eyes as the guilt hit me once again. I felt so bad and I didn’t ever want to show her that so I made sure I was at every event, every holiday show, every class party cheering her on twice as hard.

For a while I didn’t share that guilt with anyone I just kept it tucked away and let it gnaw at me silently. I found however that when I did share it with my friends, my family that they were angry or shocked that I felt that way. I was told that what I was doing for Ava was extraordinary that getting my degree and working was all going to give her the best life possible and that I was setting a good example for her, she was being raised by a strong woman. As nice as those things were to hear I still wasn’t convinced until my own mother told me a man being there physically means nothing if he can’t be there emotionally or mentally. I realized she was right, he couldn’t pick up the phone or mail a card, what difference would him standing in front of her blankly do?

I still struggle with this, sometimes I’m sad that she’s got maybe a dozen pictures with her dad in her 7 years of life, other times I’m angry that he’s just going on with his life and doesn’t seem to wonder what she’ll think of him but lately more and more I’m proud, proud of my daughter for being so smart and bright, proud of her for always seeing the bright side and proud of myself for showing her that there is a bright side, you just have to keep looking up.

Virtues from Motherhood: The Gift of Age

Every year no matter who you are or on what continent, you get another year older and celebrate another year of life. As a kid I couldn’t wait for my birthday because it was like my own personal holiday but once I passed 21 and more specifically once Ava turned 5 I started to dread that cake on the calendar. It wasn’t until I turned 25 that I started noticing the little gifts age had given me, and how sometimes we really can’t see things until we’ve ripened a little. Time hop is a magical little app that allows us to look back on, and cringe at, our younger selves and our declarations on social media and looking at mine I’ve become somewhat thankful for the gift of age.

Age gives us many things, wisdom, memories, bills, maybe a few wrinkles but most of all age gives us knowledge, power and self-worth. The other day I was driving home and I realized that all of my bills were paid, way ahead of time and chuckled to myself that a short three years ago I was frantic to be able to pay these same bills. With age I stopped being so materialistic and started to think long-term, saving money. Little things like that are just a few things I realized in myself that came solely with age. When I was 24 a coworker told me the world changes at 25 and she was right.

Besides being financially responsible age mentally changes you too. As you get older the things you worry about, the people you surround yourself with and the places you want to be change. As I got older the types of places and people I frequented changed I no longer wanted to be in bars every other weekend or be out late, suddenly brunch and weekends in central park seemed way more enjoyable. I couldn’t fathom spending 60$ on a night out anymore when I could use it for something else. Now don’t get me wrong a night out in celebration here or there is great but it certainly isn’t a life style.

Lifestyle becomes more about experience and peace of mind with age and that includes not having people in my life that required work to keep happy or keep up with. Relationships both friend and romantic shouldn’t be toxic or complicated so in the best interest of myself I no longer dealt with it. The memories of people who once filled my life with memories before are nice but they don’t have a place in the present anymore.


All in all while the idea of approaching my 30s terrifies me I’m excited to see where the breeze of age will lead me. SO tell me, what has age given you?

Virtues from Motherhood: Cherish the here and now

When you think about time, you often think of how quickly it moves, or how there aren’t enough hours in the day. What we don’t tend to think about is the value that every small moment has in the big picture. As a mom, time is an uphill battle, it’s always escaping us and we’re always chasing it in return. I’ve learned over the past seven years that it matters less what it looks like and more what it is. Like many new moms I was self-conscious of my changed body and I spent so much time hiding from pictures or avoiding social events, and posting pictures because I was worried what I would look like in the eyes of others. What I learned from that however was that all I was doing was missing out on capturing and being part of milestone and hallmark moments of my daughter’s life. I also found that people, the right people anyway, were not looking at the materialistic things in the photo they were looking at the love present.

This realization was reaffirmed for me while scrolling through Facebook a few weeks ago. I came across a shared post by a woman named Tiffany Watkins who posted a pictures of herself in a bra and undies holding her young son Austyn. In the pictures, Austyn can be seen grabbing moms’ glasses, mimicking her faces, and laughing. His gleeful expression and love of his mom is obvious, but what’s more obvious is her love of him and love of the moment they’re sharing. I loved this post and shared it on my own page, and with Tiffany’s permission I’m sharing it here as well. I think we can all learn something from Tiffany’s post, mom or not, that you should celebrate love, moments, and memories free from fear of appearance or judgment of others.

The post has been shared quite a few times and other women applaud and find courage in her adorable post because in it she’s not just honest but she’s real. I encourage other women to share the love they’ve captured in pictures and share it without that, “oh no look at my legs” or “look at this” reaction that we’ve all had to a picture. In ten years, when you look back at that picture you were reluctant to share odds are you won’t remember that you thought your thighs were too big or your arms weren’t positioned right instead what you’ll remember is the happiness of that moment and the memory it left you with; you’ll remember happiness not self- judgment.

All in all, I don’t think anyone has ever taken a “perfect” picture, but we’ve all taken ones embroidered with love and happiness, and those things should be celebrated and cherished. I applaud Tiffany and I think her pictures are so simple yet mean so much. On Austyn’s first day of kindergarten she may come across those pictures, and not remember how she felt about her appearance that day but how small Austyn was then and all the memories surrounding that time. So my message to women who think twice about posting, POST IT! Share that love, that happiness and be proud of the life you’re living and the life you’ve built with the ones you love most. Don’t let anyone anywhere ever tell you otherwise because having an abundance of love in your life will always trump a “beach body”. Be rich in love not materialism.