Let’s Hear it For The Boys

2017 is more or less an amazing time to be a woman. I’m not neglecting the progress that begs to be made (Hi, maternity leave, I’m mostly talking about you, you elusive mystery…) But let’s face it: The 1950’s would never have survived me. I’ve never in my life baked a pie of any kind and look tragic in polka dots. Just, no. I realize this is a pretty reductive outlook on the 1950’s. I wasn’t there, so you’ll have to forgive me.

Women in 2017 can and do everything. We are the stewards of companies, charities, TV networks, churches, and families. We are released into a world that demands us to be bold, to think big, to do big. Ranks upon ranks of powerful and vibrant women have paved the way and been our advocates so that we might have a voice and place. Our grandmothers might have been encouraged to be docile and polite, but – with spark and chutzpah – raised a generation of spicy and fiery women who would shatter glass ceilings and still make it home in time to carpool to soccer practice.

Fine. I’ll say it. Women are kind of my favorite. 

But – if I dare to make a suggestion, or maybe just an observation – it feels like we’re missing a piece of this “equality” and “progress” conversation. The other half of the parenthood puzzle: Dads.

Hear me out. 

I’m at a table full of mothers yielding a day’s worth of toddler trouble to frozen margaritas. We get together every month or two to eye roll about potty training and lament about our stretch marks and our dark circles. The conversation turns to our husbands, and all of a sudden we’re exchanging horror stories about the time Jenny’s husband – God bless him – dressed her kids like Beetle Juice (not on purpose, which is even funnier) or how petrified Mary is to be out and leaving him alone with her youngest (who is three). She clutches her phone, waiting for him to text, “I’m just panicking that bedtime is going to be a nightmare without me.”

It got me thinking: I do not think there’s been a single time that, enjoying a beer after work, that my husband has panicked about my ability to care for the kids in his absence. I’ve even asked him. Response? “Um, no? You’re their mom?”

And none of my mom tribe has ever confessed to texting their husband, “What laundry detergent bothers Sally’s skin, again?” or “When’s Jack’s next appointment?” Jenny has a PhD and a full-time job, much like her husband, but admitted that at home their equality drifts. She is the default parent… and it’s not entirely her husband’s “fault.”

Is it possible this is sometimes a system of our own making? What if we stepped back a little and stopped taking ourselves so seriously? What if we allowed the partners in our lives the opportunity to parent equitably? What if we relished in the different and wonderful ways our husbands love our children? It would mean relinquishing our roles as “Head Bitch in Charge” (side note: I ought to put that on my business card!) but it might mean resenting being the default parent a little less and enjoying the partnership of parenthood. Nothing is more relieving to a tired mom than her partner grabbing the baby and changing them without a word. Truth be told, Mike may very well be the better parent in our household. He has endless patience and makes the best living room forts you’ve ever seen. 

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I learn so much from watching my husband parent. He and our children live, really live, together and he idles in their joys and sorrows in the moment and doesn’t obsess over their eating and naptime schedules. His wife (hi, me), on the other hand, navigates motherhood with the balance and calm of a recently committed mental patient. I cannot begin to tell you how many charts I’ve made in the name of “good parenting.” *Insert anecdote about the note in my phone that has collected data regarding a certain 3-month-old baby’s poop, right down to color and texture.  Jesus, be a fence.* And of course, all went to hell in a hand basket one day when the toddler decided he was uninterested in my game of “PLEASE EAT YOUR BROCOLLI.” Do not pass go, do not put bananas on this plate. Zero stars for the meal chart.

Mike is so dear. He is present and funny and they adore him. I hope they grow up to be everything like him (maybe less noisy when chewing cereal, but no one is perfect, you know?) in spite of their bizarre mother and her charts. If I didn’t have him, I’d cave to my own insanity. The kids would eat enough broccoli, but they’d never stay up past their bedtime to watch another movie, just because he wants to kiss their cheeks for another hour.

We moms are special. Important. Made for this, even. But Dads? They’re the secret sauce of life. And guess what else? They’re just as capable as us; a realization that totally knocked me off of my self-important mama pedestal. No one loves to pat themselves on the back as much as I do for doing #ALLtheThings. But, when I got home from a doctor’s appointment one day and both kids were napping and he’d finished all of the laundry (ALL of it, you guys) I realized maybe I wasn’t the one with the parenting super powers.

So, get out of the house, mama. Throw in some dry shampoo and get a margarita.

The kids will be fine.

…Probably.

Special Memories with Luhvee Books

Happy Friday, friends! 

I get to work with a lot of very cool brands, but today’s post is one of my favorite collaborations thus far. When Finn was a little babe, I was diligent about filling out his baby book. I’d note every new food he tried, his likes and dislikes, and glued pictures to the pages like a crazy person. But with the addition of #2, certain things had to take a backseat, and I’m sorry to say Holly doesn’t even have a baby book. She has a box of “keepsakes,” her hospital outfit, first blanket, pair of shoes… all thrown haphazardly into a box that used to house Mike’s baseball cards.

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Luhvee Books has my #lazymom back, and makes collecting memories and pictures into a curated book easy and simple. I’d tried to create a photo book on other websites before, and it had been an hours-long process which resulted in a just-okay product with grainy photos. Luhvee Books makes it easy by doing some of the work for you and allowing you to fill in special things about your kiddos + special people. The beautifully decorated pages are pre-prepared with statements ready for you to finish. (For example: “We love the way you…*fill in the blank*”)

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What I didn’t anticipate is how cool the kids would think the books were – we made sure to include photos of their favorite people (grandparents, friends, and each other) and when we flipped through their book together they couldn’t stop laughing and smiling when they recognized friendly faces. Best of all: The books make for a thoughtful, meaningful gift for family members. We decided to make a book for Holly and Finn’s grandma, Gigi, with special memories and things we love about her – like that she always smells like cinnamon and makes the best treats for us and the kiddos.

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To create your very own book with Luhvee, use the code BLAKELY20 for 20% off.

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Time to Get Packing

The official countdown is on: We leave for vacation in just a few days, and I for one could not be happier to be ditching the Texas heat for a while. (Texas: Get your temperature and bug situation under control.) Because I’m a mom of little people that come with #AllTheThings, I’m leaving my traditional diaper bag at home and bringing with me a bigger, more durable bag that can hold things for the beach, diapers, wipes, extra sets of clothes, random pairs of shoes my toddlers fling off… you get the picture. I opted for this super cute, seersucker bag I found on Jane.com.

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If you’re not already familiar, Jane has a huge selection of clothing, accessories, home decor, and even baby and maternity clothes. The best part is their daily deals make the prices super affordable – I do not have the time or money to overspend on things that are going to swiftly be covered in bodily fluids. I just do not. Thank you, Jane, from mothers everywhere who love a bargain.

My one – kind of lofty, because kids – goal is to read Jen Hatmaker’s Out of the Spin Cycle: Devotions to Lighten Your Mother Load… I’ve only read the first chapter and it’s made me roar laughing and has spoken such truth into my heart. Jen’s other book, Of Mess and Moxieis already on my pre-order list as well. If you haven’t read anything by Jen, I can’t urge you enough to snag one of her books. The girl’s got fire in her belly and a real gift with her pen, and her books have been some of my truest companions through times when I required grace and a good laugh.

I cannot wait to take off, to unplug, to set my eyes on the people I love and just be with them. I hope – whether you’re escaping to Bora Bora or to the blow-up pool in your backyard (no shame in that game, ladies) – you take a minute to sit back and enjoy the crazy family you’ve made. (That is, until they start yelling for more snacks.)

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This post was a collaboration with Jane.com.

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It’s The Little Things


I don’t wear lots of fine jewelry, so the few pieces I do wear are particularly special to me. Aside from my wedding set, these two sweet bands from Sweet Pea Stamping are the most precious things I own. 

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I wear important jewelry on my hands – the work of motherhood is mostly handywork. The wiping of noses and tears, the holding of teeny baby feet, and the hours of washing and cooking and rocking. I remember thinking, when my first was born and he fit into the crux of my palm and forearm, “I have the whole world right here in my hands.” 

The jewelry brand can personalize their pieces to you; whether it’s the names of your children, boyfriend, husband, or even just a word, lyric, or piece of scripture that’s important to you. It’s such a neat way to carry the special things and people in your life with you. (They also make a great gift!) 

I’m so grateful for these pieces. I can’t carry my kids their entire lives (goodness knows I would try) but even when they’re grown, they’ll be forever stamped on my heart and hands. 

To purchase your own, or to buy for a friend, use the code Blakely20 for 20% off. 

Summer Style for Babies

They’re not kidding when they say Texas is unbearably hot. Who came up with the genius idea to move two Irish, fair-skinned children to this sauna of a state? It’s only June and just looking out the window makes me sweat. Dressing the kids becomes quite the task in this heat because – let’s face it – they’d rather be nude, and most of the time the battle is not one worth fighting. When Haha No Yume, a brand that makes kimono-inspired baby clothes, reached out to collaborate I thought “How cute!” but didn’t realize how lightweight and comfortable the clothes would be. Now, I need the whole collection, because it’s a great way to dress Holly up for church or a day out without having to stick her in fabric that will cling in the heat. Plus, the prints are to die for!

Just for you, Haha No Yume is giving my followers 25% off using the code “Blakely25.” Hop on over to their site, and check them out! 

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Thank you to Haha No Yume for sending Holly a kimono romper, and for collaborating with us. Want your brand to make an appearance on the blog? Email us at blakelywrites@gmail.com

 

 

But We All Love Wine

You might not know this about me, but I love politics. I love politics so much I’ve had friends brief their friends not to mention current events around me. “Just don’t mention Mitt Romney or you’ll live to regret it,” they say. They don’t think I hear them, but I do. (I hear you, SUSAN.) I love politics almost as much as I love big hair and Jesus and I love those things a lot. But, precious people, please hear me: I can’t take it anymore.

Left or right, I think we can agree that opening Facebook is like being punched in the face with a million opinions. I’ve always loved that social media can be a forum for thoughtful, meaningful political discourse, but its also given way to Ass-hat Syndrome and I simply cannot even. It got so terrible after the election, I had to unfollow people I adore (on both sides of the aisle) because they simply could not be kind or decent about their politics. I won’t claim to know exactly what the founding fathers had in mind for democracy, but I hardly think they anticipated it be carried out in 140 characters of shouty capitals.

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The worst part about having to unfollow you? Having to unfollow you.

See, I didn’t want your name-calling and unkind memes, but I did want to see your post about your daughter’s first steps. I wanted to know about that promotion, that engagement, that brunch sandwich at that place I love. And, I wanted to know what you were thinking but I didn’t need it sandwiched in between melodrama and hyperbole. You know? Calling people “crybabies” or “deplorable” just makes them shut you out.

Worst of all, the discussions stopped. There were less and less opportunities for us to engage in productive conversation. When the conversation stops, we lose. We lose the insights and ideas of people with different perspectives and backgrounds. We lose the possibility of progress and the coming together of different mindsets. Those conversations are the cornerstone of our democracy, and those of us not interested in through-the-roof blood pressure are stopping the discussions for our sanity. I became afraid of being labeled “one of them” and just ranted and raved to my husband (who – unrelated, I’m sure – would like you all to know he just invested in ear plugs).

Don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t a call for people to be less passionate or even less furious. If anything good came out of 2016, its that the formerly complacent bystanders found a reason to become engaged. Friends who had otherwise shrugged off political discussions were diving in deep and, even when I disagreed, I was so hopeful for a future of less Kardashian and more foreign policy.

So, Dear-Friend-Who-Disagrees-With-My-Politics, don’t stop coming over. Don’t stop coming to my table and discussing with me, questioning me, reasoning with me. Make less assumptions, open your ears, and I will too. We may not love all the same things, but we all love wine.

I miss you on Facebook and in real life,

Your Friendly (I SWEAR), Neighborhood Republican

P.S. Red or white?

White?

I knew I liked you.

I Love You (Most)

Dear husband,

I am going to level with you: I’m not exactly the woman you married. She had her act together. She did not have stretch marks. She showered precisely any time she wanted to. Crazy, right? When did she find the time? Indulgent wench. This season of life is tricky. What used to be sweet, flirty text exchanges now read a little something like this:

Did you call the guy about the thing?

Emergency: Please bring home Chipotle. Dinner is inedible (again).

Pleeeease tell me you DVR’d Scandal. 

Let me also let you in on a little secret (that I tell absolutely anyone who will listen, because let’s face it, secrets are not my forte): There is no one on this planet I love more. I don’t care whether we’re watching Finding Dory for the 8567th time or wiping yet another little person’s tush, I am irrevocably obsessed. Another secret? This is purely intentional. I have a reason for loving you most – despite loving and living for our two children. It’s all because of Aunt Sylvia.

At my baby shower, Aunt Sylvia bestowed upon me the most unsolicited piece of advice I’d ever received. “No matter how much you love your children, you must love your husband more.” Hold on. What? Someone take away Sylvia’s mimosa. “Wow, thanks Aunt Sylvia (who I made up for the purpose of this blog post) but that was the worst advice ever given to anyone, ever. Your wisdom is trash. Good day.” Though her delivery and timing might have been off (nothing like telling a 9-months-pregnant woman not to love her children most, right?) she was on to something.

You and I started this whole thing. This amazing, loud, beautiful group of people who fill our backseat? We made it. Our family didn’t start when our children were born, it started the day we chose one another. The day I decided I wanted to share everything with you; a mortgage, children, a very fancy washer dryer set I insisted upon having. You, with blue cheese on your cheek and a frosted mug of Blue Moon. I’ve had no clearer direction in my life than, “I need to be that man’s family.” And then came babies, and sleepless nights, and – of course – the washer dryer. It is the busiest, sometimes most challenging season and often at the end of a long day of pouring out love for our children, it becomes hard to reserve space for one another. But I do anyway, because I love you most.

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And one day, because parenthood is amazing and cruel, this season will end. We will drop them off at Harvard or The School for Enthusiastic Whistlers, or wherever their sweet and amazing souls decide is worthy of our life’s savings. After I’ve stocked their fridge, interrogated the RA, double-checked the smoke detectors, and hugged them with the force of two decades of undying, motherly love… we will leave. They will leave us, because that is the point. We will have worked ourselves out of a job. They will always be our babies (a fact I will frantically remind them of when they take longer than an hour to respond to my texts). And sure, there will be Thanksgivings and weddings and grand-babies. But I will no longer tuck them in, make their lunches, watch their perfect lashes hit their cheeks as they fall asleep. This season we are in right now is fleeting, and I’m afraid to blink, because it will be gone.

Sooner than we know, it will be just how we started: Just us two. I’m not sure what we’ll do. Finally go to Paris? Take a cooking class? Binge watch HGTV? I don’t know. I just know that when all of this is said and done, it will be you and I left to finish the story.

This is why, my sweet and hysterical partner, I still make a point to choose you daily. Because you were my family first, and will be last. And whether it’s buying a washing machine, having a baby, or flying to Paris, every season with you is my favorite.

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Photos by Kody Diane Photography