You may not have my eyes, You may not have my smile, but from the beginning you had my ❤️

How many of my mama friends out there are step-mamas like me? I’ve met a lot of mamas through my journey of helping others over the years. We mamas come from all walks of life to into our children’s life whether by blood or by choice your still a mama my dear❤️ My journey as a step mom started 6 years ago when I met my husband for the first time I learned he had a daughter 18 months older than my 3 year old son. I had always wanted a girl and soon enough I had a hazel eyed little peanut watching my every move.

Hales and I clicked. We quickly became good friends and it was clear our bond would be more than that as time passed. As my husband and I got married and blended this beautiful blessing I get to call family. My role as “stepmom” came with a lot of ups and downs as does any change. There were boundaries in parenting all of a sudden that I didn’t have before. How much do I do, how much is to much, how much is to little? Do we parent them the same? What do we do about discipline she isn’t “mine” (I kept thinking I can’t do that) Who is going to take care of things cause I’m kind of the one who runs the household? But I can’t really make decisions it. needs to be a triplet consideration (her father, her mother, and me if needed) 🤔 how do I develop a relationship with her mom and make sure I’m doing things the way she wants as well. As respect from one mother to another. It was a constant balancing act there for a while. And it was fun to watch our family come together through marriage, moving in together, and the birth of our twin daughters. Our family of 6 was complete❤️

Over time my husband and I found a balance consulting each other on things, talking things through, and reminding each other to back each other up as needed. Don’t get me wrong mamas we failed miserably at times. We have had arguments, we have taken the side of each of our children, we have used the words “your” “my” and “mine” instead of ours and we. But eventually we got the hang of it. Parenting your own and watching someone else parent your child can be challenging at times. And it’s a process that each blended family goes through. Some easier than others. Haley quickly became “mine” and “our kids” became our focus. Starting with changing our verbage. But as long as we have communication we have the key to unlock any issues that may come our way. I know it has worked wonders for us and has made us a lot closer over the last 6 years. And in our house we use no labels. No stepdad, stepmom, step siblings, or half siblings. We are just family. ❤️

So here is my personal mama (and a little therapist) parenting advice and tips:

1. Be consistent in your expectations, your rules, your discipline, your praising of your children it helps them develop a healthy sense of self. And let’s face it they need it in this day and age with the challenges they face.

2. Avoid fighting or arguing in front of your children. It only teaches them to do it. Anger is not inherited it’s learned. (Trust me I’ve run an anger management program for almost 8 years)

3. Spend time with your children. Be present. Leave the dishes and laundry. Leave dinner for a few more minutes. Be late one day. Plan the family vacations. Have 1:1 dates to soak in each of them and their personalities. This was huge in our household afterwards the twins were born so we made our older two feel like they were getting just as much attention as the twins were. Life is to short and they grow up to quickly.

I’ll leave you with those my mama friends. Now if you excuse me I’m headed out on a date night with my gorgeous hubby for his birthday! Couples time is equally important my dears. That is another post.

Happy living, happy laughing , happy loving!

XoXo 💋

The grief of losing a pet and five tips to help you cope❤️

This is me crying my eyes out as I was talking to my baby girl, my 12 year old basset hound. She had been ill for a few weeks. A kidney infection, hospitalized and treated. She came back home and life resumed as normal. I ended up taking her back in a few weeks later because she had been puking and couldn’t keep food down. Tests showed her kiddies were shutting down she would need a lot of fluids, medicine, and require another admission. Another hospitalization, 5 days later, many visits with her in one of the tech rooms, we finally got to bring her home. She was in good spirits and seemed a little tired. 6 hours she went no eating, 12 hours she still wasn’t eating, 24,30. Another call to the vet, trip in for a shot to help with nausea, and back home for the day. Still minimal eating and just laying in her bed trying to get comfy. This is when I laid with her and asked her what she wanted me to do. I videoed this and snapped this photo from it. I told her it was ok to go Jace I knew she was tired. (Jacey was her name). The next day, took off work, and yet another trip into the vet. Jacey did not want to even walk in the door she pulled away. I carried her in and more blood work. My stomach sank, she looked so tired, she didn’t want to be there, and somewhere deep down I knew what was coming.

So we waited and they confirmed her counts were back up. Her kidneys were shutting down again and she was going toxic. It was time to make a decision the vet said. Time to admit her again for more medical intervention, time to take her home to let her go on her own, or time to put her down. I had been agonizing for two weeks about this moment. I don’t make these decisions well none of us do. I took her home to discuss the situation with my family. We decided in the end to put her down in two days when they had their next appointment open. My heart was broken 💔 I am making the decision to end her life? But deep down I knew she was ready.

So we planned chicken nuggets for dinner for her and my son even crawled into bed with her to read her a book.

This would be his first experience saying goodbye to a his dog. He was devastated. And my heart broke all over again watching him grieve her loss before she was even gone. But I was grateful he had the chance.

Jacey never made it to the appointment to put her down. She passed away later that night right at home in my hands. It was awful and I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget carrying her to the vets office wrapped up in a blanket. She is with me all the time in various ways with all the paw 🐾 prints she left on my heart.

Her loss in my life affected me in ways I never expected it to. And I grieved for a number of weeks. I received cards and a framed picture on my desk from a loving coworker. I have made sure to let the kids grieve in their own way especially our 10 and 11 year old. We had some talks, drew some pictures, said our goodbyes. It was wonderful and so therapeutic. As a mom I let them see me cry many times and they cried with me. I am not afraid to show my children grief. In fact I want them to know that it is ok to show your feelings. It’s ok to grieve in your own way on your own time frame.

Grief never discriminates. It knows no boundaries, no time lines, no gender, no age, no limits. Everyone of us can grieve in our own way and YOU are allowed Mama. It’s ok to take time, it’s ok to cry, it’s ok to feel depressed, and it’s ok to need support. So surround yourself with a loving people and give yourself time to work through your loss. Loss is inevitable in life but you don’t have to struggle alone❤️

Here are 5 tips to you cope with the loss of a pet:

1. Celebrate their life with you. Do something important to remember them by. Frame some pictures, create a memory box, plant a tree or flowers with your children for them, and have ice cream in a doggy dish in their birthday!

2. Expect to feel more emotional than usual. Feeling anxious, irritable, or just incapable of handling things right after it happens is normal. Be patient with yourself.

3. Support seek support from others in your life. Significant others, family, friends, or an online support group. Don’t go through this alone all the time seek support and comfort as needed.

4. Self care make sure your taking care of yourself. Not just your basics ie…eating and sleeping. But maybe some deep breathing relaxation, meditation, or mindfulness exercises. YouTube has a lot of free videos. Or one of my personal favorites is an app called Calm.

5. Talk about it I can’t tell you how many homes I have heard people say they just don’t talk about it. PLEASE don’t be a stuffer or bottler it has so many side effects on your physical and emotional health. Don’t be afraid to talk about your loss. Journal about it. Pray about it if you pray. Talk to your friends over and over. Your not a bother your not ridiculous your grieving my dear. As each day passes you will learn to live with what has happened and time will move forward. ❤️

Be gentle with yourselves my dear mamas.

Happy living, Happy Laughing, Happy Loving.

XoXo

It was never about the Mess Mama❤️

Have you ever found yourself pulling your hair out or holding your face really tightly after finding yet another shoe to pick up, dish to wash, or yelling to your child yet AGAIN to do something for the 100th time that week. I think all of us can relate to this one. The never ending mess and list of things to do. It never seems to go away and we never seem able to make a dent. No matter how organized or productive we may be there always seems to be something lurking around the corner. And we get frustrated, we lose our shit, we feel guilty, and we know at some point we are gonna do it again. And we blame it on the mess. It was never about the mess Mama. It was about never never having time for yourself. Never finishing a task and feeling accomplished. Never feeling good enough.  Never feeling appreciated. Trying to be perfect and please everybody. Pushing ourself beyond our limits. And realizing you can’t do it all…

How do we fit it all in? Will I ever feel “done”? Will I ever be told thank you? Will I ever feel like enough? Will my head stop spinning? Will I ever stop feeling overwhelmed!

Yes to all of the above Mama. Find a comfy, quiet place and repeat after me.

Slow down. It’s ok for me to take time for myself. It’s important for my well being. It’s not selfish it’s self care. Close your eyes. Breath in 1.2.3.4 breath out 1.2.3.4.5.6. Slow the worrying, slow the racing thoughts, focus on your breathing, on your body, on your hands, clench those fists (dismiss any thoughts that come to mind) hold 1.2.3.4. Release 1.2.3.4. Shrug your shoulders and hold 1.2.3.4 Release 1.2.3.4. Breath in 1.2.3.4 hold for 7.6.5.4.3.2.1 Release 1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8. Repeat as many times as it helps to relax and relieve tension from your body, your muscles, and your mind. When your finished open your eyes and take a moment to decide what your next step is. And pat yourself on the back mama you just completed a 4.7.8 breathing exercise and a mini progressive muscle relaxation exercise. 🙌🏻 be grateful for you. For this moment. For your ability to prioritize yourself for once and sneak in a few minutes of self care. That’s of course if you didn’t pass out from all the breathing in and out it can take a little practice.

There are so many benefits to building in self care. Decreasing anxiety, depression, and emotional eating. Sleeping better, increased concentration, and less tension. Being present, being more patient, having more energy! It helps you be your best version of you for them and they are so worth it!

Rarely in our busy mama lives do we tell our family hold that thought I’m breathing here. But if we practice building in time for ourselves everyday and stop making excuses not to take care of ourselves we can find the TIME. You can do this walking up the stairs, in the shower, in the bathroom, before you go to bed, before you get up, while your cooking dinner. It’s portable! :)I can’t count how many times I have heard I don’t have time. NOBODY has time Mama and if it’s important to you then you will make time too. It’s your choice, what are you going to choose?

Until next time. Happy Living, Happy Laughing, Happy Loving!

-XoXo

Mama, have you ever walked in another Mamas shoes?

This picture might seem like an odd choice for this blog post because it looks like a grocery list or to do list I am writing. In reality it is not mine. I happened to order a book that I’m reading with my fitness group written by Gabrielle Bernstein called May Cause Miracles. Fantastic read so far but in the book I found a to do list and a grocery list written by another mama. And I found this so cool. I was getting a secret window into someone else’s “mama brain” as they were planning what looks to be a camping trip. It’s now my book mark as I read. I only shared part of the grocery list or packing list so to speak. But it made me realize that we “mamas” are more alike than we think sometimes. Sure we have our own moms, our friends, and family that we can relate to. But some of us don’t expand our circle of trust very far. Sometimes we assume that we know what the other person is going through, we think “they” can’t relate to us, we assume they have no idea how “hard our life is”. Trust me been there…I’m a Twin Mom…when I hear another mom say I know exactly what your going through but they don’t have twins my gut reaction is “wait what”. BUT that is me catching myself (put away Judgy Jess) and tell myself well wait a minute everyone has their own journey and struggle in parenting. I can remember being just as stressed with my first born as I can with the twins. It’s all about perception. And when I think my life is all of a sudden more difficult I remember my triplet Mama friends and everything in my head becomes very balanced once again lol.

I find myself wondering how many people I’ve judged before I actually thought about what they might be going through…I read this quote and shared it the other night that said “don’t judge people for the choices they make when you don’t know the options they had to choose from”. It was shared from another source so I’m not sure who the original writer is but it is perfect. How many times do we feel judged by someone else for what we do especially as a Mom. Until we have walked in their shoes and experienced what they have gone through we have no room to Judge them. Its terrible how we tear each other down some in person some on social media so easily when we really have NO IDEA what is going on off this screen we are all looking at. Have you ever seen a post about a controversial topic and you find yourself scrolling through all the comments just to get a whiff of the drama you know is lurking. You get your “I came here just for the comments”, the haters, the empathizers/supporters, and we will just put everyone else in an n/a category. Let’s not do this in real life Mamas. Let’smake meaningful connections. Let’s build each other up not tear each other down. Let’s raise beautiful, little people that who know how to communicate with other, empathize with each other, and be kind to one another.

I often hear patients tell me I’m afraid to do that because I’ve been hurt. I’m afraid to put myself out there for fear of being judged, fear of being rejected again, fear of being hurt, or fear of failing. That self doubt creeps in and we start that negative self loathing talk. “I can’t do this”. “I’m not good at this”. “I’m going to screw this up”. “I’m not worth anyone’s time”. And a lot of these fears are rooted from negative experiences from our earlier years. No I’m not going to say hop on the couch and tell me about your childhood. But I am going to tell you that experiences like being criticized for a long period of time can cause self doubt and low self esteem. I am going to tell you that being verbally or emotionally abused can cause high levels of anxiety, insecurity, and cause people to question their every move. So how do we move on from these fears that keep us anchored to a negative past experience. You confront them Mama and face them head on. First, you acknowledge that they exist. Second you identify what they are. Third you look at the damage they are doing in your adult life to your interpersonal relationships, to your work life, and to your personal development. Once you have this self assessment you begin to develop your action plan. Now be patient there my dear acknowledging fear and looking at how it affects your life can be a very intimidating experience. Give yourself sometime to process what this information means to you. Happy fear hunting my Mama Friends. Stay tuned for my future blog post on how to Confront Fears.

In the mean time I hope this amazing Mama enjoyed what looked to be a camping trip or vacation somewhere. Thanks for the reminder that other Mamas make lists to and need reminders it certainly settled me down this week!

Happy Living, Happy Laughing, Happy Loving!

XoX0

-Jess

Mama:Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything so perfectly?

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy….

Hey Mama, Have you ever been told you are your own worst enemy? I know I have several times. The more time I have spent being a mama, seeing mama’s in therapy, and building a business online connecting with other mama’s I have seen how hard we can be on ourselves. We get anxious, we get stressed out,  and we place high expectations on ourselves (sometimes unachievable ones at that.  We push ourselves past our limits or we forget to set a limit for ourselves. And why do we do this? Well let’s think about this for a second as partners and spouses in a relationship we learn there are expectations of ourselves and our partners in order to nurture each other’s needs right…then when we make the decision to bring little humans into the world, into our homes, in to our arms, and in to our hearts that comfy routine, that endless quality time, those expectations, and having some sense of direction in our lives tends to get blown out of the water.

  All of sudden we are faced with more “Multitasking” than ever before. We have little cries, diapers, bottles, cleaning, trips to the doctor, trying to document all these moments, laundry, oh and dinner at some point right everyone might want to eat, oh and don’t forget your partner they might be feeling left out  these days that go by in a blur, oh and then we are supposed to be taking care of ourselves…..ya right what on earth does that mean lol. Some days especially in those early stages its hard to remember if you slept more than 2 hours, if you have eaten anything recently, and you may just have washed you hair with facewash again, that is if you get a shower.   As long as everyone is still alive and fed at the end of the day that should be an acceptable goal right?!  How are we supposed to put ourselves (dare I say) first once and a while. How do we find balance between work, play dates, basketball games, Christmas concerts, ….how do we not feel selfish asking our partners for help after they might have worked all day, may have hard a hard day, may be already doing things for us, how do we set aside our negative thoughts about ourselves. Bottom line is how to we give ourselves a break…

First tell yourself Mama that your worth your own time. Hijack all of that negative self talk in your internal dialogue. Watch for self loathing thoughts. These can come in many forms like calling yourself names, putting yourself down, or constantly discrediting or questioning yourself. This takes time and practice. Your not going to stop doing this all at once if you have done it for a period of time or if you learned to do this from a negative relationship in your life. Second, start telling yourself what you can do, what your good at, what your capable of, and watch the weight lift off your shoulders. In therapy we call these positive affirmations and positive self talk. Start with small changes I “can’t” to I “can”. I’m no good at this to I might be good at this. If you have identified that this is something you struggle with find your starting point, start practicing small changes, and set this as goal for this beautiful new year ahead of you.

Stop feeling guilty for thinking about what you need. Stop feeling guilty for asking for help. Stop feeling guilty for taking time my dear. Taking care of yourself allows you to to be your best self for you, your children, your partner, and helps you be present in all areas of your life. What would it feel like to be fully engaged in what your doing without feeling distracted? It is possible Mama, through good self care, setting boundaries, and mindfulness skills you can achieve what you believe.

Stay tuned for future post on setting boundaries for ourselves, how to confront our fears and live anxiety free, and how to forgive ourselves. Happy living, Happy laughing, Happy loving Mamas. Until next time!

-XoXo