Sep 1, 2014
Before I had Tennessee, I hated it when my "mom friends" would tell me how I had no idea about life with a child. It made me feel like I was on the outside looking in through a window I couldn't see through. I could imagine what it was like, right? The truth is, I really couldn't imagine. Trying to figure out what a new little human needs, trying to figure out how to take care of a baby, a home and a business, oh and myself too. Days fly by without having a chance to breathe sometimes, and it's gratifying to the millionth degree but it isn't always pretty or fun. This is where I am right now. And it leaves me thinking about two things: how hard it can be to navigate friendships from "life before baby" and whether mothers should be supportive/understanding/at least kind to one another because of the simple (and insanely complicated) shared experience of trying to raise little humans to the best of each of our abilities.
So friendships post-baby. They can be hard. My priorities have changed. To be honest, my whole outlook on life has changed. I don't want drama or toxic people or situations around me. I don't want to sit and gossip or laugh about someone. I guess I am much more sensitive to the fact that we are each someone's child. I would never want any child to ever feel bullied or excluded. I don't want to drink much because I will be getting up with my baby at 7am no matter what (and the truth is, it's my favorite part of day). And I think I still have a little bit of a hard time adjusting to highly stimulating situations after I was so sick after having Tennessee. I am still Morgan, I am just a newer Morgan. And I get lonely. Yes, I desparately need grown-up time. I need my friends so badly. I need to talk about life and creativity and successes and everyday stuff. But I can't be upset if I may not get those calls anymore because like everyone before me, they don't necessarily understand what my life is like these days.
That brings me to the people who do have a general understanding of what life is like these days- other mothers. We each have a crazy story of bringing life into this world. We each have the struggles and triumphs of navigating motherhood, and I am 99% positive that at some time or another each one of us mothers has crumpled into a ball and just cried from being overwhelmed or too hard on ourselves or whatever. Our motherhood comes in many shapes and sizes, some are stay at home, others are career women. Some have nannies or mother's day out or do it on their own. Some bounce back right away, others face post-partum complications. Some are very nurturing and others are very reserved. But at the end of all the lists and all the comparisons, we share the most basic thing: we are each a mother and we are all trying to raise a child.
I have recently encountered some mama bullying. Or maybe it's just mean girl bullying and it seems so much worse because we happen to be mothers. I know we try to raise our children to be good, to know right from wrong, to be loving and considerate of others and the world we live in. If we teach our children to be good and to never hurt someone or make them feel alienated or bullied, why are we doing those very things to each other? Have we compartmentalized our modern lives so much that it appears to be okay to be mean as long as our kids are out of the room? And here is the flipside, should we be kind to each other simply because we share the experience of motherhood? I mean, it's us mothers who intimately know the varying degree of hard stuff that comes with this. Should we be nicer to each other because we have each been there at some point?
Here is where I stand: I want to be nicer to everyone. Period. Life is freaking hard and it's awful to think someone might make it harder on someone just because. You never know what someone is up against or going through in the private areas of his/her life. Be the person you want your children to see. Be the person you want the world to see. We all have disputes or things that annoy us about a person. Do those things really matter? You don't have to be friends with everyone, but you should at least be considerate of the fact that they were once a child, that they have feelings and that no one should go home at the end of the day and feel badly because of others.
Be a good person. Be a loving person.
Love you guys,
Aug 28, 2014
Well we did it! We packed up the family and drove all the way to Wisconsin and back over the last week. Our six month old Tennessee did an amazing job just being a great traveling baby, and Duquette and I had one of the most memorable trips of our thirteen years together. We really look forward to sharing with you the photos and stories from the road, but today we are resting after a thirteen hour drive back to Birmingham from Chicago.
We love y'all and are glad to be back!
Morgan, Duq and Tennessee
Aug 25, 2014
There is so much stress surrounding even the idea of taking a six month old baby on a thirteen hour car ride. I'm trying to pack smart. I'm reminding myself that we will have to be flexible with both his schedule and the one we tentatively have in our heads. I know that there is the potential for full family nuclear meltdown. And I also know that there's the potential for the greatest memories we have as a family so far. I remind myself that our grandparents' generation was no stranger to the great American road trip. Mamas and papas would pack up the pack of children in a giant Cadillac and drive to lake cabins or beach trailors or to see Niagara Falls (that was a big trip back then). Babies slept without noise machines and pack and plays and everyone survived just fine and with awesome Polaroids to boot.
I do want to try to make this as easy as possible for both little Tennessee and for me and Duquette. Here are some of the products that I am pretty sure will be indispensible.
1. SKIP HOP TREETOP FRIENDS ACTIVITY MAT. This thing has been Tennessee's favorite, most used toy in the world. We are bringing the whole mat (which can keep him occupied for hours), but I also love it because all the interactive toys can come be moved around and even clipped to his car seat during the thirteen hour car ride. They aren't ugly and they don't make annoying sounds (there are rattles and tweets).
2. SAFETY 1ST CRYSTAL CLEAR AUDIO MONITOR. It's cheap and it's easy. I can hear really well and it's got good distance and reception through walls and more. We use it at home and we use it for travel, too. (Great tip: If you forget your monitor or need to see your baby, use yours and your partner's iPhones and Facetime, leaving one with the baby. Don't forget to turn down the volume on the baby end!)
3. HYLAND'S HOMEOPATHIC BABY TEETHING TABLETS. We are deep in the throes of teething. And, if you weren't aware, teething pain for your baby means screaming without end, terrible pain (for you and your little) and refusal of food sometimes. These tablets are amazing. They work. Amen.
4. BABY BJORN TRAVEL CRIB LIGHT. This thing is pricey, but it literally assembles and disassembles in under thirty seconds. Tennessee has slept and played in it while travelling and has done great. It's more of a luxury for the parents honestly. Thirty seconds. And only like ten pounds.
5. MUCHKIN TRAVEL BOTTLE WARMER. The Muchkin bottle warmer has saved our lives, warming bottles in under 90 seconds to the perfect, consistent temp every single time. It's easy to use one handed, too. So when we found out about a TRAVEL warmer. Hallelujah. I'm excited about this little $15 gem.
6. MOBY WRAP. My six month old weighs twenty pounds and he hates the Ergo we got. So I've finally YouTubed and perfected how the hell to put this 20something foot piece of fabric on and get my baby in it. It's comfortable for both me and him and gives him the range of motion he loves.
7. ADEN+ANAIS SWADDLE BLANKETS. Tennessee hasn't allowed us to swaddle him since he was about five weeks old. These blankets certainly multitask, especially on long rides and in the woods. We will use them on the grass, after swimming in a lake, as a makeshift changing pad.
8. SATSUMA DESIGNS WASHCLOTHS. These are amazing. I pour cool water on them and the baby chews on them for entertainment and teething. If he gets overheated outside, I put the cool rag on the back of his neck and it cools his whole body (so I can still manage to have him tied to me without a meltdown).
9. BECK'S MORNING PHASE. When we are in nuclear meltdown we simply put on this record and, like magic, our baby chills the eff out. It's a baby whisperer record that all parents should own and keep on their phones forevermore.
By the time this posts, we will have made it to Wisconsin and spent our weekend in the woods. So we have either survived or perished (which you can see in real time on our Instagrams @ruggedandfancy and @rebelking).
Aug 22, 2014
Aug 21, 2014
Today is my thirtieth birthday. Whoa. I always said I didn't mind turning thirty. I am married to a man twelve years older than me, so it's never really felt like an issue ever. He's older and acts younger. I'm younger and act, older? I don't know. For the past couple week, however, this new reality has been hitting me in harder than I thought. I remember thinking my parents were old at thirty. And old as dirt at forty. If it were a hundred years ago, I would be entering the sunset of my life. (WTF.)
The past decade has flown by so quickly. I regret nothing. I was so fortunate growing up to have been able to travel. It gave me a thirst for knowledge and experience, and I worked very, very hard in my twenties to go and see and do and figure out just who I was. I made huge mistakes and I had huge successes. And now here I am, standing straight and tall and thirty, with the man I've loved since I was only a child and holding our child that we created together, after so many twists and turns and adventures and hardships.
My dad asked my what do I want out of the next thirty years? That's a scary question that I don't think I can answer. That's a whole other lifetime, after all. But I do know that I want to work harder at providing for my family and as a family. I want to really dive into my art and make it a real, strong practice. I want to grow my own food. I want to travel more with my husband and my son. I want to limit the material possessions around us to just free us all up mentally and physically and spiritually. I want to be wiser about money and in business transactions. I want to be a good mentor. I want to be a better, more attentive, more encouraging wife. And I want to be a patient, loving and badass mother.
I think my thirties are going to be an amazing decade. I feel really great about who I am, and that's a powerful statement to make. I work hard on being a good person. And that matters in the world.
Aug 20, 2014
Aug 19, 2014
What do I pack for a camping trip? Well, let me preface this by saying I am no stranger to the great outdoors. I grew up on a horse farm. I lived in a primitive cabin for a summer in the Cascade Mountains north of Seattle. I lived out in Wyoming for a while, too. I've hiked Zion National Park. I feel closest to God when I am near the ocean, along a mountain range or under a dense canopy of stars...Not let me confess that I hate camping. Little tents and sleeping bags make me claustrophobic and sweaty. My husband Duquette on the other hand lives for it. He lived in a tent with his family in Wyoming until age three. His favorite bathing conditions require ice cold creeks. And he has a lot of stories about backpacking trips so long and difficult they ate butter to stay alive. Eww.
Life is about balance, right? So we find this balance in our relationship, too. We've camped together a couple times. Probably only a couple times because I insist on bringing down comforters and pretty lanterns and sleeping in a tent that may technically sleep twelve. Go ahead and laugh at me. I laugh at myself already. So this road trip (with hotels along the way) will plant us in the woods, at beautiful Camp Wandawega with its "Low Brow Manifesto" of don't expect anything fancy but do expect something magical. And to be perfectly honest, I am really excited about camping like my grandparents did with little cabins and picnics and a lakeside beach.
So what to pack for something that I may not know what to fully expect? Temperatures sound perfect with highs in the 80s and lows in the 50s (can I get an amen?!?). I know to be comfy and I know that for me to really be comfy I want to preserve my personal style. Here are my road trip staples.
Aug 18, 2014
Yesterday marked Tennessee's half birthday. He's been in this world six months, and I am now six months post partum. My parents took him to spend the night Saturday and to let Duquette and I get some much needed rest. What did we do? Sat in total silence and talked. It was beautiful. I had this memory of life before the baby, when we basically did whatever the hell we wanted, whenever the hell we wanted. We laughed. I always hated when people told me that I had no idea what it would be like. But really, I had no idea what it would be like.
Tennessee is now crawling, and his first tooth broke through yesterday. In the time it has taken me to write these few sentences, I have jumped up three times to retrieve him from half crawling under a bureau, to pull a giant philodendron leaf from his reaching hand and to give him a wet washcloth to gnaw on. It's been about twenty minutes.
The truth? I love this pace about 90% of the time. I get more done in my days than I used to get done in a week. It's just not by my own scheduling. I love watching my baby see the world for the first time and the wonder in his eyes when he looks up at a canopy of trees or when he discovers a new sound coming out of his mouth. Oh, and when he falls asleep with his head nuzzled in my neck and a tiny hand on my heart, well, that could melt the world, y'all. Oh, that other ten percent of the time? I may sometimes think of walking out the door barefoot and never coming back. Of course, I would never do that. Duh. But when your baby has been shrieking the loudest high pitched cry ever, and you can't get him to eat or burp or nap or quit thrashing around for HOURS...well, that would test anyone's limit of sanity. (How do I actually get through it? Prayer, a reminder that it will pass soon enough and with a spouse who is the best partner IN THE WORLD.)
We are about to load up as a family and take our first long distance road trip to Elkhorn, Wisconsin to the beautiful Camp Wandawega. Our brother Rohan Anderson of Whole Larder Love is doing a workshop in the woods at this awesome camp that looks like Moonrise Kingdom come to life and we get to join a bunch of awesome people from around the country, skin rabbits, catch trout and cook over an open fire. We are sleeping in a teepee with the baby, which I am really excited about. And we will be in Chicago for my 30th birthday, too. I am really excited about this trip and pretty nervous, too. I know not to expect to schedule anything... So we are going to roll with it the best we can, knowing that generations of families have been trekking around the country with babies. We can do this.
Morgan, Duq and Tennessee
Jul 31, 2014
Right now my mind is compeltely consumed with my upcoming show in Birmingham, Alabama at the Alys Stephens Center in the Sirote Theatre on September 12th. This will be the largest canvas I have had the pleasure of playing on live as a solo artist. When preparing for the show everything runs through my mind from how stripped down to get during parts of the set to how large can I make my band for the night and pull it off to my approval and what can I actually afford to do. While the music is the forefront of my thoughts so is the entire experience of the evening sonically and visually. Morgan and I have been sketching out my stage for the last several days and I think we are headed in the right direction. Through this process I have spent a lot of time watching concerts of other artist looking for inspiration for my stage plot, lighting and more. So I thought I would share a couple of those videos while we prepare for this event.
Hope to see you all in September.
Jul 28, 2014
The exhaustion I feel right now is perhaps akin to...I don't know. I've never quite been in this place before. I had a nutritional setback last week that left me pretty sick all week. I went to a restaurant with my family and ordered vegetables, not considering what oils and fats they were cooked with. It caused a significant flare up in my intestinal issues. So all week I was basically able to eat small amounts of rice, a couple eggs and essentially broth. That is not sustaining nutrition there.
I feel dehydrated. I feel depleted. I feel disappointed that this is still such a significant issue (which is perfectly managed if I micromanage my food). But more than anything I feel just dog tired. And, rather naively, I am just now seeing that my baby doesn't notice if I am with it or not. He is going a million to nothing, jumping and talking and kicking and chewing his hands. He needs me to carry him around, to play with him and care for him.
This exhaustion makes me feel a little bit behind on life, too. Like, hey there are a bunch of emails I need to send. There's a bunch of big house stuff I need to get done. Oh, I have real work stuff I need to do. And I don't know where exactly to squeeze that in.
I know not to hold myself to certain expectations with a little baby. As soon as you make plans, your baby will change them for you. I have great women in my life to remind me of these things. But man, I wish I could just jump up and get at it!!
So today I am going to try to roll with it and cut myself a little slack. And right now I am going to go talk to my baby while he bounces like a madman in a jumpy thing. (I still can't believe I have a jumpy thing in the middle of my living room.)
Anybody got advice for combating the exhaustion of motherhood??