How to REALLY help a mom in the trenches

I’m not just referring to new moms, although they certainly apply here. But I’m talking about the tired moms. The ones who have one, two, three, four (or more) kids whose days consist of not much more than infant/toddler communication, dirty diapers, endless amounts of laundry, non-stop food preparation, messy buns, yoga pants and not enough showers. These moms can have any number of kids, really, and they can be any combination of ages.

Most advice you find out there about how to help these moms consists of suggestions like bring them a meal, offer to pick up items at the store if they need it, schedule a play date (if you have kids of your own) and the list goes on. None of these are bad ideas….they are certainly helpful. But I want to focus more on how to help these moms on a very personal and emotional level as opposed to just a task-oriented/chore level.

I bring these suggestions from a place of being one of these moms. Things that I have either had done for me by a fellow mom/woman. Things that, frankly, I wish my fellow moms/women would do for me. Things that help me to feel human again.

  • INVITE HER TO BE AN ADULT AGAIN.
    • Being a mom turns your world upside down. Whether or not a woman was in the professional world before children came into the picture is irrelevant. Every woman with children was once a woman without children. And, trust me, she remembers life before her kids regardless of what she says. Of course, she can’t imagine her life without her children and would never change bringing them into this world. But there are certainly pieces of that past life that she misses dearly. Adult conversation. Free time. Eating a meal without being rushed. You get the idea. I think all of us women are guilty of not inviting a certain mom to participate in something because we assume she’s too busy or not interested…because “she just had a baby”, “she has 3 kids”, “her husband is out of town”, “she’s probably too tired”, etc.  I’ll be blunt, these excuses for not extending an invitation are hurtful to her. Maybe you invite her and she legitimately uses one of these excuses and can’t make it. But, trust me, the invitation meant something to her. It let her know that she’s not completely disconnected from the outside world. It made her feel loved and missed by her friends. And it solidified for her that there are friends waiting for her whenever she’s able to make it outside of her bubble. So, keep inviting her to Girl’s Night, asking her for a coffee date, talking about that movie that’s coming out soon and make plans to see it together….even if that means not seeing it opening night. Being a mom, you get sucked into that child-life where life just revolves around your kids’ needs. Moms can lose themselves here not knowing which way is up. Having friends on the other side (either friends without kids or seasoned moms with older kids) to help pull her back over from time to time is an important lifeline. She may be her kids’ mom but she’s not your mom….she’s your friend. Make sure she feels that way.

 

  • ENCOURAGE HER TO USE HER NOT-MOM-BRAIN
    • Mom brain is a very real thing. I’ve told people before that when you’ve been in the trenches for years there are parts of your brain that simply fall out of practice. For me, I notice a distinct difference in my ability to communicate with any sort of eloquence since having kids. I can struggle finding my words when I’m trying to have a conversation with an adult. This is a direct result of not having enough opportunities to utilize my not-mom brain…that part of my brain that has nothing to do with my kids. Those special skills and talents that I excelled at before I had kids lie dormant. So my advice here is related mostly to projects or tasks. If you could really use her insight on a project you’re working on, ask her. If you are looking for someone to take on a specific part of a project such as being on a committee, heading up a committee, building/creating something or collecting data (whatever her specific skill sets are), ask her. Maybe she’ll say no because her plate is too full. But let her be the one to tell you no…don’t assume that you know what her answer will be. And, any “no” you get doesn’t mean never. Ask again when another opportunity comes around. Like I said before, the invitation means something to her. It let’s her know that her skills and talents that she had long before kids are still valuable. These opportunities to dust off old skills and talents, as often as she chooses to take them, will breathe life into her.

 

  • JOIN HER IN THE TRENCHES
    • No, I’m not telling you that you need to go have kids of your own to connect with her. And if you do have kids of your own, I’m not telling you that you have to suffer with her through a challenging season. What I AM saying is don’t become disconnected just because the challenges you face may differ. Make the effort to help when and where you can. These can be small things. Or big things. I’m remembering a time last year, after my third was born, where I was lamenting on social media that all 3 of my kids were sick in some way (fevers, diarrhea, puking, the works). This meant we were on house arrest (something that drives me completely mad). After seeing my post, a friend of mine texted me that she was at Starbucks and to tell her what I wanted. Then she drove it over to my house. She had kids of her own that stayed in the car while she and I stood outside for about five minutes while we chatted (my kids were napping inside). It was small and only took a few minutes but gosh it felt good. You see, it wasn’t about the drink (although that was a delicious by product), it was about a friend empathizing with the challenge I was facing and joining me there, even for just a few minutes. Maybe you have a mom friend who is in a funk or that you just haven’t seen in a while. In my experience, the mommy blues come and go. You know she usually makes a grocery store run every Saturday morning. Meet her there. Walk and talk with her. Maybe she has her kids with her or maybe she doesn’t. It doesn’t matter. You’re there for her. Ultimately, in these circumstances, it’s not always about trying to pull her outside and, instead, meeting her inside. Moms love an excuse to come outside and will embrace them when they are physically and mentally capable. But they aren’t always able to do that. So go to her. Wherever she’s at. Literally and figuratively.

 

I realize that this appears that I’m placing all the burden on you to maintain your friendship with your mom friend in the trenches. I don’t mean it to come across that way. Friendship, after all, is a two-way street. What I’m trying to get at is don’t let her failure to make her wishes/desires known become a reason for you to not reach out to her. Wouldn’t you hate to get 15 years down the road and find out that that friend you once had was really going through a rough time back then and to think maybe a simple extended hand could have helped her? I’ll come to the defense of us moms in the trenches: our minds are rarely on ourselves and our own well-being. We’ll have glimpses of it here and there, sure. But, by and large, our heads just aren’t there. We can barely see ourselves most days. A friend that can help pull us back into view from time to time is a God-send. Be THAT friend.

Some day our loads will be a bit lighter and we’ll be able to pay it forward. Personally, I’m counting down the days 😉

Until next time mommas!

~ Erica

The Waiting Game

First and foremost, YES, I am still pregnant. 6 days from my due date and time is moving at a snail’s pace. But…I digress…

I’ve decided to try and find the joy in these last few days of Little Man being an only child. As exhausting as it is getting out and about, I’m trying to do special things with him daily: mommy and son dates, if you will 🙂 Plus, the more I can walk around and let gravity do it’s thing, the better!

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I took him to the aquarium for his first visit earlier this week. He wasn’t too enamored with anything in particular. I mainly just let him wander around at his own leisure and I followed closely behind. He was, albeit briefly, interested in the sharks OR it was simply the fact that I set his snack bowl on the tank ledge so that he’d have to walk over there to grab it. Regardless, I was certain to snap a picture.

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We may be excited to welcome Baby Girl to the family but this Little Man will always be the one who made me a momma.

Here’s to the next chapter….

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Double the Fun!

Where have I been, you might be wondering? Well I’ve been busy doing the bare minimum in terms of productivity on all fronts: domestic, business, wife-ing, mothering, etc.

So, why no blogging? Well that’s because I’ve been sick as a dog with baby number two!! That’s right. We are expecting again 🙂

We are thrilled!! But I did not experience this sickness and crummy feeling in the first trimester with Little Man so it’s really slowed me down these past several weeks. As I’m about to enter my 14th week, I’m really hoping that the 2nd trimester brings good sleep and a good appetite and that the sickness subsides. Here’s hoping…

Here’s our fun pregnancy announcement that we shared on social media earlier this week…

Photo Credit: Andrea Murphy Photography
Photo Credit: Andrea Murphy Photography

Now the truth behind this photo:

We were taking family photos and throwing in some 12 month pictures of Little Man at the same time. And when we found out we were expecting again then we had to do some sort of fun announcement so I made this cute little sign. We got him all posed and content and then he reached for a nearby acorn on the ground. Of course, it went straight into his mouth when The Husband rushed in and clawed it out!! Then, this face!! Snap, snap, click, click. It was perfect! LOL

So, that’s where I’m at right now. Hoping to feel better soon so I can start feeling like I’m a contributing member to this society again.

Until next time Mommas! 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

When the Balance is Off

I had a near mompreneur breakdown on Saturday! Erica Weddings had 3 weddings this past weekend. My particular wedding was one of the most difficult weddings I had had in quite some time. For no reason really other than it was just a lot of details to manage. Plus, it was a Nigerian wedding which I had never done before so there was some added pressure and stress in that regard since there were so many elements that were completely new to me. On that note, I had spent many, many hours in the days leading up to the wedding working to prepare. More than I usually do.

Going in to Saturday I was already operating on a Little Man deficit – i.e. I had spent more time away from him over the previous 2 days than I had spent with him. So, about mid- Saturday, it hit me! I missed him like crazy and I knew I wouldn’t see him until Sunday morning. I texted The Husband and told him that I missed Little Man so much that I thought I could cry.

It’s moments like those that make me question my entire working mom status. Was the 16 hours on my feet (without eating and barely drinking anything, mind you), away from my husband and child, worth it? I got caught up in that for a bit but was forced to move on as the wedding moved on.

I don’t think those moments will ever stop coming. They are bound to hit me from time to time. And I keep reminding myself that this particular wedding was an exception to the rule. I don’t typically have to work 16 hours on a Saturday for my usual clientele.

So, Sunday and Monday was all about catching up on my rest and catching up on time with Little Man. We did our usual routine of a Sunday afternoon nap together. It’s pretty much the only time he’ll get somewhat snuggly with me and I just love it!

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And, as far as Monday, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: I didn’t do a shred of work ALL DAY LONG!!! It meant a bigger to-do list for today but it was worth it.

It all comes back to that work vs. personal life balance that I’ve talked about before. I had let the temporary “imbalance” get to me. It takes a constant conscious effort to make it all work.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Sing-a-Long Time

My head is currently about to explode. For many reasons really. But primarily because A) I’m working feverishly to finish up my timeline for my very large wedding this weekend while ensuring that the TWO additional weddings we have going on this weekend are taken care of by my staff and B) because Little Man is currently sitting in his playpen next to me in my office and has all three of his musical toys playing at once. Yes, I’m simultaneously listening to the ABC’s sung by a stuffed dog, a Mozart classical piece playing on a music box and a song about squares being sung by a stuffed lion.

I mean, I love that my kid loves music. But, please son!

I wish I had more time for a thoughtful blog post this week but it’s just not in the cards right now.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Mompreneur Tale: Volume 1

There’s nothing quite like your 9 month old son getting his first bloody nose by launching himself into the edge of your desk while you’re on a phone call with a client.

Here’s the scene….

I answer a phone call from my bride for this weekend. Side Note: I rarely answer phone calls while my son is awake…this story just proves why…but exceptions are made when the bride calling is getting married in 48 hours.

While she and I are talking on speakerphone I hear a big thump and I turn to see Little Man face planted into the bottom lip/edge of my desk. As expected, I had about 2 seconds of eery silence as I waited for the ear piercing cry that was about to ensue. I tried to reach my mute button on my phone in time but I failed.

As a mom and a business owner you suffer with that mental tug of war between being heartbroken that your child is hurt but also embarrassment that a client was caught in the cross hairs to be a witness. So, I rushed to get her off the phone by telling her I’d call her back in a few minutes. She heard the crying. I’m certain she understood. But still, the businesswoman in me hates that I had to do that.

As I picked Little Man up, I notice his nose is bleeding. This must have been some fall, I tell ya!

Five minutes later, Little Man is hardly phased. But GOD FORBID I try to clean the dried blood from his face. Good grief kid!!

I called my bride back within a few minutes while Little Man sat on my lap with his paci in his mouth, still sniffling from the remnant tears. Life goes on, right?

Anyway, that’s my textbook Mompreneur moment of the day. What a crazy life we lead!

And now the kid doesn’t want to be anywhere except on my lap which makes writing blog posts very hard as he’s constantly reaching for the keyboard.

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P.S. I’m anticipating many more tales like this to come. Look for Volume 2 to be posted sooner rather than later.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

When It Rains, It Pours

I could say I mean this literally considering the amount of rain and bad weather Oklahoma has gotten recently. But, for the sake of this blog post, I’m talking figuratively.

Where shall I begin?

…my business email is only functioning at about 50% right now

…my outdoor wedding this weekend is having to be restructured due to recent and impending rain (pair this with the email issue and you might catch a glimpse of my current state of frustration!!)

Shall I go on?

…I am struggling with a head cold

…which I have now passed on to Little Man

…to make matters worse, Little Man is teething

…therefore, Little Man is sleeping minimally

Can somebody please pass me an adult beverage laced with Nyquil? Nevermind, I’m breastfeeding. Sigh.

That is all, my friends. That. Is. All.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

When The Husband’s Away…

It took me a few days but I think I’ve finally recovered from my first wedding back this past weekend! It was as long of a day as I remembered from my pre-baby wedding days. The proof is in the leg work (I think it’s obvious which day was the wedding day)…

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But, it did feel good to be back. Except for the part where I forgot the boob attachment pieces for my pump so I couldn’t pump. Yyyeeeaaaahhhh…no bueno. I went over 12 hours between feedings/pumps that day. Never again. Never. Again.

Moving on.

Little Man and I did get in a really good nap time together on Sunday afternoon which was refreshing especially since he doesn’t usually sleep well when he’s not in his crib. But he actually snuggled with me for a nap in my bed for 1.5 hours!!! Then we all got up and had a wedding to attend for one of The Husband’s co-workers. It’s not often I get to be a guest at a wedding.

I don’t think I’ve introduced you to The Husband yet…

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The Husband was out of town on business yesterday and overnight last night so it was Little Man and I on our own. I already had plans to head down the highway for a few site visits I had scheduled for an out-of-state of bride. So, Little Man and I had a little road trip together. I know I won’t have the freedom to let him tag along with me to meetings much longer since he’s probably just a matter of weeks away from crawling. I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

It is nice, on occasion, to have an evening completely to myself. It’s just in my DNA – I absolutely LOVE alone time!! So I got Little Man down for bed and then I had some pizza, diet coke and I veg’d on the couch while eating a really-bad-for-you dessert. Because sometimes you just have to, right? It was glorious indeed.

Today, back to the daily grind.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Ready or Not

This weekend will be my first wedding weekend since July 25th of last year. While I’m so thankful for an amazing staff that managed all of Erica Weddings clients in my absence and for all the quality time I’ve had with my Little Man, this day came even quicker than I had imagined.

And, just like old times (i.e. pre-baby!), my office kicked in to high-gear this week in preparation for tomorrow. Little Man spent a lot of play time like this while his momma worked.

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I don’t like doing this during his wake time a lot but when you’re back to the grind sometimes you just have to do what you have to do to get things done. Side note: please ignore the disaster area that is my office!! I need to do some serious cleaning in here but who’s got time for that?

So, tomorrow I will head out the door around 1pm leaving Little Man in The Husband’s care for the whole day. I’ll spend the day outside in this gorgeous weather we are having. I’ll be helping a sweet bride & groom with the most exciting day of their lives. I’ll pump and then I’ll watch the bride walk down the aisle. I’ll watch the happy couple share their first dance and then I’ll pump. I’ll watch their guests party it out on the dance floor and then I’ll pump. Do you see a pattern here? Oh how my life has changed! And then the night will end and I’ll get home around 1am knowing full well the beating that my body took that day. And, finally, I’ll wake up at 6:30am with full boobs and a full body ache. I’ll get ready for church then wake Little Man up. And, with any luck, he’ll take a nice long nap that afternoon when we get home so I can catch up on my rest and put my feet up.

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma

Embracing Imperfections

You know what really sucks about coming home from a vacation? Catching up on….well, everything!

Unpacking turns into 27 loads of laundry. Groceries are either non-existent or everything has expired. All that work that I said could wait until I got back now haunts my every waking moment.

All of my imperfections are slapping me in the face as I try to keep this household, this family and this business afloat.

Just breathe. Prioritize.

Side Note: Yesterday afternoon I realized that I hadn’t showered since Saturday. SATURDAY, people!!!  Immediate priority #1: personal hygiene. Sometimes us busy moms need to be reminded of this basic need.

It definitely takes good prioritization when you’re a working mom. But, I feel like a Stay-At-Home-Mompreneur requires prioritization to the maximum amount. And, despite my momentary lapse, I’ve always felt like I’ve done a pretty good job of prioritizing my life…at least when it comes to the big things.

The big picture of priorities in my life looks like this:

  1. God
  2. Husband
  3. Son
  4. Work

Now, within each of those pieces falls about a million tiny little tasks to accomplish on a daily basis. But, I’ve found that when I keep the big picture in focus, all the tiny pieces fall into place much easier.

The true struggle for Entrepreneurs is that we deal with the blessed curse of allowing our work to define us. It’s so easy for us to find our value and self-worth wrapped up in our businesses. Unfortunately, when this happens, everything suffers. Our familial and romantic relationships become secondary and, over time, can dwindle down to non-existent. Our health suffers due to lack of sleep and high amounts of stress. The list goes on. But what I realized a few years ago that was a game-changer for me is this:

Erica Weddings is what I do. Not who I am.

Who I am is an imperfect child of a perfect Savior, a wife and a mother. Just saying it is a weight lifted off of my shoulders.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE what I do and I’m blessed beyond measure to be able to do it. But if I let it take precedence over my God, my husband and my son, then I become tired, burnt out and resentful. I know this because, unfortunately, I’ve been there and I hope to never be there again.

So what does this prioritization tangibly look like day in and day out? For me, it’s waking up with my son around 7am and enjoying some time with him. The Husband may watch him for a bit before he goes to work and I’ll get a few things done around the house, reply to a few emails, etc. Once The Husband is gone then it’s Little Man and I against the world! When he is awake, I’m with him – soaking up every minute. When he naps, my butt kicks into high gear (showers, work, dishes, laundry, eating, cooking, etc.). And when The Husband gets home, work is done!!! He helps get us through our bedtime routine and Little Man goes down for bed around 7pm. Then The Husband and I have the whole evening to ourselves! We are usually just lazy couch bums but we like it that way!

You may look at everything I laid out above and see my priority list and wonder, “Where is God in all this?” I wonder that myself sometimes but I guess the answer is: God is IN everything I do, all day long! I squeeze in my quiet time whenever I can during the day and I’m singing praise & worship music pretty much all day every day. That’s one of the extraordinary things about Him: keeping Him #1 is so simple. All it takes is a genuine love and appreciation for who He is and what He’s done and you’re golden…you can’t help but meditate on His greatness.

No single day is perfect. Some days the laundry doesn’t get done. Some days my email inbox has one too many emails left unanswered at the end of the day. Some days (or 4 days in a row!!!) I forget to shower. Some days I get stuck on a phone call with a client and my son is stuck playing alone on the floor with his pacifier to keep him quiet.

Bottom line: I’m not perfect. But none of us are. So, we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves. Thank God that His Son was perfect for us so we don’t have to be!

Until next time Mommas 🙂

~entrepreneurmomma