momlove: me (and happy Mother's Day!) by jen geigley

In celebration of Mother's Day, I've been posting a series called momlove: guest blog posts by the best of the best. I've invited some of my very favorite blogger moms to share a little bit of their wisdom and experience here. (A huge thanks to all of my friends who contributed to this series – read their wonderful posts here.)

I'm always intrigued about what life is like for other moms. We're all equal parts weird and normal, and I think we find comfort in that. What is motherhood like ... in my world? It's quite possibly everything – and nothing – like I thought it would be. That's kind of how I remember feeling in the beginning.

It's finding out that no matter how careful you are or how much you try to keep everything under control, almost everything is out of your control.

It's realizing that no matter what time of day you finally get to sit down to have something to eat, your baby knows you are relaxing. And will start crying and will need something urgently. At that exact moment.

It's trying not to freak out while keeping things running smoothly. Goodbye to that old, spontaneous 'you' ... because now someone has to keep things in line.

It's taking the time to color in a My Little Pony coloring book when you have ten million emails and deadlines hovering over your shoulder. Hovering. While you color a picture of Rainbow Dash.


It's trying to teach new words to a toddler who only says dadadadadadada all day long. 
'Airplane? Truck? More? Eat? Um, Mama?'  ...   'Dada.' It's waking up at 4:00 a.m. to a screaming baby or patiently listening to your new reader (ever-so-slowly) sound out a new book. When you are oh-so-very tired. Clinging to the very edge of your cliff of tiredness. It's driving the kids home from the library when the 'ideal outing' you had in your mind turns out to be anything but.

It's pretending not to be scared when a storm rips through your neighborhood and a tree crashes down across your power lines, knocking out the electricity to your house. Acting like everything is great, even though your heart is pounding. 'Everything's fiiiiine, you guys! We'll just have a camp-out in the dark. Um, flashlights are fun, right?' ('Where are they...?')
It's taking care of sick kids around the clock while being completely down and out with the flu, with no nap in sight. For any of you.


It's trying to remain calm when you suddenly realize that your one-year-old probably has a peanut allergy and you have to decide what to do next. It's getting a call from the speech therapist at school after determining that your child may have some form of a stutter.

It's trying your very hardest to raise children who will be good people. To give them a good foundation and hope with all your heart that they turn to you when they reach high school and shit gets real. Like Tina Fey said: 'when the crystal meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half and stick with beer.'


But for now, for me ... it's wiping tushies and putting on pajamas and brushing teeth and giving baths. It's reading and listening and singing. It's a whole lot of 'eat your dinner' and 'time for bed.'

It's also waking up to tiny smiling faces that somehow resemble both your husband and yourself. It's watching them grow out of all of their clothing in one season and marking another notch on the wall, an inch higher than the last. It's the laughs and the smiles and the hugs and all of the sweetness in the world, too. Because, damn ... kids are amazing, life-changing, earth-shattering little beings. I sit back and take note of how special these times are, every day. I know it will go fast and this ... right here, right now ... is an amazing time.


I'm not special. It's not any harder or easier or better or worse for me that it is for you. When you talk to moms, you quickly realize that every one of us has done so many of the same things. We're all different and yet so much the same. And that's pretty cool.


We live in an age where it's easy to feel like you have to do it all. It's hard to ask for help or lean on others, but everyone needs a break. Really. Hopefully, you can let yourself be okay with finding that balance. (And guess what? If you didn't know this already, it's totally okay.) Carve out some time for yourself and take your victory lap. Smile at those babes and know you're doing your best and it's all so worth it. Love them harder and more fiercely than you did yesterday, than you did ever before. Do your thing, momma ... do your thing. Today, I'm spending part of Mother's Day with Bo and the kids and a potential picnic. But after that? I'm meeting up with some of my best girlfriends on a patio for a beverage or two. It's our own little celebration of motherhood that has nothing to do with changing diapers or making snacks or picking up toys.

Motherhood is beautiful (and so are you.) Happy Mother's Day.

momlove: tina by jen geigley

In celebration of Mother's Day, I invite you to indulge in a little momlove, a series of guest blog posts by the best of the best. I've invited some of my very favorite blogger moms to share a little bit of their wisdom and experience here.

Meet my friend Tina. 

Having just returned from a short trip to Portland, I have to say the best advice I can give as a WAHM in the creative field is to take time for yourself and go discover something new. 

I'm always reluctant to travel myself, leaving my 2 1/2 year old son home with my husband. I felt a terrible guilt about taking a trip that was close to being out of our means and even guiltier for leaving my family behind. Yep, good ol' mommy guilt. Even after I landed in Portland, the guilt stayed with me. I missed them terribly. But after settling in to my hotel room and enjoying a good cup of jo' with my friend who I met down there, I was ready to discover the sites + sounds that PDX had to offer. I also had another mission while reunite with my mom who I haven't seen in over 20 years. I covered a lot of ground on my trip, physically and mentally. Overall, it was one of the best trips I've had and I'm so glad I didn't let my guilt deter me from enjoying myself.

I came back a better mom, wife, creative and most importantly, a better me. It starts within us...the secret of being a good mom. We have to be alone with our own thoughts, free from those daily distractions like the sound of Nick Jr playing in the background while you hear "mommy, mommy, mommy" for the millionth time that day. We give so much of ourselves every day...every moment. It's important to replenish that so we can continue to give our children what they need and deserve and that's a happy mom. 

Yes! So good and so true. I love this and I love Tina. She is always an inspiration to me, as a friend and a mother and human being. Tina and I are Dares girls. She's talented as can be and I'm always in awe of her photography and design work. She's honest and real and since we're separated by many many miles (she lives in Alaska) I love reading what she's up to on her blog and via our sporadic 'hey, how are you doing/what's new?' emails. She is awesome and I hope we can get together for a 'taking time for yourself' getaway again soon ... the last time we hung out was in L.A. a few years ago and I'm definitely ready for more hangout time with this girl. (Mom-guilt free!) Read more about life with Tina on her blog, Life.Love.Paper.

momlove: martha by jen geigley

In celebration of Mother's Day later this week, I invite you to indulge in a little momlove, a series of guest blog posts by the best of the best. I've invited some of my very favorite blogger moms to share a little bit of their wisdom and experience here.

Meet my friend Martha.

Sometimes you become a mother the traditional way, and sometimes you fly halfway around the world to meet your 3.5 year old daughter in a small, cold civil affairs office after only having “met” her through 3 small pictures and a brief medical/personality profile 6 months earlier.

I spent those 6 months gazing at those 3 pictures more times than I can count looking for any clues as to what her personality would be like. Standing there bundled up with her Minnie Mouse ears he looked shy and scared…I am shy by nature and I know how isolating that can be so I vowed that I would help her break through that. I wanted her to be self confident and fearless, neither of which were qualities I was in abundance of, but for her I would find a way to ensure that she didn’t grow up with those same self doubts that I did.  

Little did I know, but this strong little girl already possessed everything I thought I would have to teach her.  She was already fearless.  She walked out of that civil affairs office willingly and without shedding a tear.  She looks at pictures from that day and tells me how scared she was but somehow she knew everything would be o.k. as she faced her new life. In just a few days we saw her personality unfold and she was funny, and self confident, and self assured. Despite living the first 3.5 years of her life in a hard place, she did not let it define her. Why was I dwelling on the past and letting it define me for so long when she was able to leave that behind her and move on so quickly?  Less than a week after leaving the only home she had known, taking her first plane ride and staying in her second hotel she was a giggly, happy little girl.

The most surprising thing to me on this journey so far has been that everything I thought I would have to work on with her, she has unknowingly worked on with me. I am not going to lie and tell you that becoming a mom for the first time at 43 to a 3.5 year old is easy, but in all honesty I have never felt more self confident than I do as her mom. I look at her and see how far we have come and I have this overwhelming sense that there isn’t anything we cannot accomplish. She pushes me (way) out of my comfort zone sometimes, it’s hard to be shy when she has you singing and dancing to Yo Gabba or has you engaging in conversation with a stranger because she has said hello and and wants to see their baby. Before she came home I can count on 1 hand how many pictures of myself I have from the past few years, but knowing that for 3.5 years there are only 4 pictures of her that exist and that none of them are with a family member I get over the fact that I don’t feel comfortable having my picture taken because she has a mom and she needs documentation of that and of us together.


Maybe I am trying hard to compensate for only having those 3 pictures by taking so many pictures of her now.  Maybe I am trying to make up for the fact that my heart breaks when she asks “where are my baby pictures”. Maybe it is because my heart swells, I get goosebumps and tears well in my eyes on most days when I look at her and I just want her to look back and see the same beauty I see in her.  Oh and maybe it’s because she’s cute, so darn cute and I am so proud to be her mommy.

Martha is one of my favorite moms in the world. Not to pick favorites, but ... she's pretty fantastic. I love her heart. We became online crafty friends years ago, and got the change to meet up in real life on a few separate occasions. The last time we hung out in Chicago, she told me that she was going to begin the process of adopting the beautiful girl you see here. This was long before Martha had ever seen a photo of this little girl, before she knew where she was from or what her name was. Since then, I've followed along with them as they found their way through their beautiful journey. A journey that began with a whole lot of waiting/hoping/wishing right here in the midwest which built up to an amazing adventure through Beijing, Xi'an, Guangzhou and Hong Kong China to bring their daughter home. Their daughter ... who I have watched from afar transform into a super smiley kid, bursting with energy, personality and pure gorgeousness. You see the love in her eyes and the love she shows is the love she gets. (That's Martha.) If you want to see a beautiful (tear-jerking, but in a happy way) video of Frances' journey home, click here. It's amazing. Watch. And to read more about life at home with Martha + family, check out her blog, Mugsyboo.

momlove: bergen by jen geigley

In celebration of Mother's Day later this month, I invite you to indulge in a little momlove, a series of guest blog posts by the best of the best. I've invited some of my very favorite blogger moms to share a little bit of their wisdom and experience here.

Meet my friend Bergen.

Before I had my daughter, Johanna, I swore to myself that I would not change after we had our baby. I have always been fiercely independent, and it was important to me to maintain my sense of individuality and not to get lost in motherhood. I would not just become Jo’s mama – I would also maintain my identity as Bergen.  

Jo is 18 months old now and so much in my life has changed. My relationships with others have changed. My social activities have definitely changed. I have changed in many ways. I’ve also stayed the same. It’s like saying everything is different – and nothing is different. 

Of course, I’m still me. Still fiercely independent. Still deeply creative. Still extremely motivated. But being a mother has unlocked something in me. Having Jo has changed me in so many ways that I never would have expected. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

And all of a sudden as I write this, I’m weeping. My mama has said that Jo did that to me. She says that Jo has softened me. Taken the edge off. Not that I was super hard before Jo, but I definitely had walls up. My experiences as a mother have peeled away layers that make my emotions so much closer to the surface. It’s not that I feel more, but I feel everything differently. I’ve also learned to be less judgmental. I have more patience – with myself and with others.  Motherhood has opened me up. 

And I’m going through something right now because of where we’re at as a family that might never have happened had I not become a mother. Something is happening. Something really really good. 

I cut all my hair off recently, for one thing. Not huge in the scope of life, but a big deal for me since my hair has been long for most of my adult life. It’s been important to me. It was a part of who I was. And now that it’s gone I feel lighter, refreshed, and renewed. It’s as if my energy has shifted just because of that one simple change. 

On a larger scale, the big news is that I’ve decided to quit my job. I’ve been working a fabulous job as a community manager for the past 4 ½ years, and now I’m ready to move on. I’ll still be working, but I’m going to be putting my energy and time and commitment into my passions: my daughter & family, my theatre company, my acting career, and my Etsy store. It’s a big risk, but one that I feel is the right move for me, and more importantly, my family. And it’s pretty damn exciting. 

So yeah, I guess I have changed. And I’m still the same. And I couldn’t be more excited to see what opens up next. 

Bergen and I went to high school together and she was a grade behind me. I didn't know her very well then, but we have sort of found each other in recent years through the loveliness of the internet. These days, I am proud to call her a long-distance friend. She's a creative force, an incredible mother and a true inspiration. And her openness here? That made me a little weepy, too. Read more on Bergen's blog, Ashland and Winona. And while you're at it, you must check out her fantastic Etsy shop, Lilla Barn, where she sews the most adorable baby/toddler clothes you've ever seen.

momlove: elise by jen geigley

(Photo credit - Ashlee Gadd Photography

In celebration of Mother's Day later this month, I invite you to indulge in a little momlove, a series of guest blog posts by the best of the best. I've invited some of my very favorite blogger moms to share a little bit of their wisdom and experience here. 

This post is by my mom-to-be friend, Elise.

This is my favorite passage from the book "Great with Child" by Beth Ann Fennelly. It's just awesome and makes me so over the top excited to welcome a little one into the world.

"Tommy and I took Claire to a magic show, and although all of the five- and six-year-olds were into it, she wasn't impressed – she stared level-eyed at the levitating lady with only the slightest bit of wonder, my not-quite-three-year-old cynic. Later it occurred to me that perhaps she's too young to be impressed by a magic show because to her every day is a magic show – she thinks she can levitate and fly, too, or will tomorrow. Perhaps what I mistook for cynicism is merely her belief in a world without gravity or logic.

...Claire lives in a world where markers are really magic, where there's a woset in her closet, where blue and yellow paint swirl to form a green she'd never have predicted, where an apple cut one way reveals a star, and cut the transverse way reveals the face of an owl. So the faraway black-suited man pulls a rabbit from his hat, so what? She could pull a swimming pool, or a T. rex, if they'd just pass her that hat."

Beautiful words, and a great reminder of how incredibly brand new every single thing in this world is to a child. (Sometimes, I forget that!) Elise and I are blog friends who have followed each other through various life events and craft adventures over the course of several years. She is expecting a baby girl in June and I just know that she's going to be an incredible mom. I'd like to wish Elise a very happy first Mother's Day and the very best of luck on her journey into motherhood. I can't wait to see photos of that tiny baby girl very soon! Follow Elise's crafty projects and baby-making progress at enJOY it.