Fists of Fury

“5 Activities to Help You Be A Good Mom”

That was the caption under a pin on Pinterest I scrolled across a few days ago. No sooner had I read those words, an intense rage boiled up inside of me. Not just normal rage- “Momma Bear” rage. My husband likes to joke that I am sweet until someone brings out the “Philly Fire” in me and then people better watch out! And nothing stokes that Philly Fire more than my momma bear instincts. Why was this stupid Pinterest pin making me so angry? I wanted to punch the fake smiling mom in the photo in her face. Okay, that’s a tad violent, but who is she to tell me I’m not a good mom? And why would her activities ensure I was a good one? She doesn’t know me or my life!

I truly believe this is why so many women feel like they aren’t good enough. There’s this constant flow of ads on tv, magazines, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram making us feel like we are falling short. Social media in general can make one feel extremely bad about themselves if they are not careful.

Mantras For Mommas

Repeat after me ladies: I am NOT a bad mom!

Whew! Doesn’t that feel good to say out loud? Take it from my own experience: I hear at least once a day from one (or all) of my darling children that I’m “stupid” or that “I’m ruining their life” or that I am the “worst”, etc. etc. – you get the point. Normally these just bounce off of me because I know they don’t mean those words, but on those occasional bad days when their words do cut me down, actually saying I am NOT a bad mom out loud to myself helps! I’m serious! Next time you are feeling pretty low about your ability to parent, just repeat those words to yourself (or any personal variation) and you will feel better.

Some other popular mantras I like to repeat to myself are:

It’s Almost Bedtime

Mommy Is Not A Maid

Tomorrow Will Be Better

Mommys Need Time-outs Too

They’re All Alive So I’m Calling It A Win

I mean, this list is pretty much endless, and yes most of these are supposed to be funny! I would not get through most days without a little humor (and caffeine!)

If you’re day is going south fast, just take a few minutes to yourself. Take a breather, take your caffeine source of choice, sneak one of those treats you hide from the kiddos, repeat a good mantra to yourself and head back in there! It will all be okay.

The Year of No

By May of this past year I was feeling extremely burnt out. Between my kids sporting events, art classes, my sporting events, our church callings, Scouts, traveling, Jess needing to leave for Boise in April until September, my work with the American Cancer Society and with the Rape Recovery Center I was feeling at the end of my rope. We were just TOO busy! I felt like we weren’t spending enough time as a family unit, and it was starting to show. Not in any huge obvious way, but as a momma I could tell my kids were struggling with it.

In June after the Hope and Healing Gala I helped with for the Rape Recovery Center, and my epic trip to Rwanda with my Grandpa, the kids and I made our way to Boise to spend the rest of the summer with Jess while we worked. After the first week of pure summer fun and no plans whatsoever I felt so recharged, happy, and steady. I decided I needed more of that in my life; this coming school year, we would start saying NO!

This means that other than the things we have to do, we will not add more to our load. If we don’t need to commit our precious time we could be spending together, then we won’t. Our kids actually WANT to be with us, and who knows how much longer we can enjoy that? I really felt like we as a family needed some time without extra responsibilities and stress. We are going to focus this time on spending it together and strengthening our family unit while the kids are still little. I stepped down from helping with this year’s event for the American Cancer Society because frankly I was feeling so burnt out, and I needed to spend that quality time with Jess in Boise. Coming home only after a week or two would have not been a good decision.

Without any prompting, our kids have started saying no as well. Calvin after much debate decided he didn’t want to play football. I was proud of him for making that decision on his own, because I knew it was hard for him. Jess and I did not put any pressure on him to play or not, and he felt like it was not something he wanted to pursue this year. He has many years ahead of him left for sports, so I am not worried at all about him “falling behind” or any of that mumbo jumbo. Him not playing  has been a huge change for us from last fall in a positive way. He had practices every day and games every Saturday and by the end of the season he, and us were exhausted! It was fun, but a lot of time commitment. It was also a time commitment that Memphis and Shay had no say in.

So far this school year has been easy peasy. Our days aren’t as hectic and full as they were last fall, and it’s just what we needed right now.  I’m sure next year we will pick right back up and be busy with activities, but I am glad I listened to my gut and decided to start saying no.

Put Up Your Dukes!

As a mom it’s extremely easy to get offended and defensive when it comes to our kids and our ability to raise them. A prime example is me and that pin that made me so angry. I mean really, I have no reason to get so riled up by 9 words, I already know I am an amazing mom to my kids. The word that sticks out in that sentence is MY. These children are mine, and I am the only one who knows them intimately, and know how to cater to their individual needs. No one else would be able to do that! Each child is different, and each family is different.

All I know is, that I love my children fiercely, and I try my darndest to do my very best to raise them right. I make sure they go to bed every single night with kisses and knowing that they are loved. My husband and I parent together with what we feel is right for our family, and what’s right for us isn’t right for the next family- and that’s okay! Every family has unique challenges and beliefs and that’s what makes this world so diverse and beautiful. Our differences and acceptance of those differences is what makes a community better.

So keep doing you moms of the world, cuz you’re doing great!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

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“Just always be waiting for me”

My Mom was in my dream last night. We were cooking dinner together in a large white kitchen. She had on a yellow apron, which was her favorite color, and it felt like she wasn’t gone. I was so happy to be with her, and we were talking and laughing as we put something together and into the oven. I’m not even sure what it was we were making, but clearly that’s not the point. When my Mom passed away, for the first weeks, and months, even, sleep could not come fast enough because I would see her almost every night. As time went on, she visited me less and less so the occasional night when she does enter my dreams it’s extra a special.

I feel that dreams are much more than just pictures we see at night while we sleep. Sure, some of the crazy out of this world dreams probably mean nothing, but for the rest of those dreams, they are messages and have meanings.

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I have had vivid dreams since I was a small child, and I can remember most of them from about age 5 on. I used to keep a journal of them when I was younger, which I am sad I did not keep. My husband became accustomed very quickly in our marriage that every morning I would roll over and say “Want to hear what I dreamed about?!”. He’s a pretty patient guy to sit and listen to my dreams.

I have studied dreams because it fascinates me how complex my dreams are, and I wanted to know what things symbolized. For instance, once I saw Jurassic Park at the age of 8 it quickly became, (and still is), one of my most favorite movies. The T-rex, however, became a prominent terrifying presence in some of my scariest dreams. Being chased by a tyrannosaurus in a dream, represents your fears of becoming not needed, or not useful. When I was 8, my group of friends drastically changed, and for an 8-year-old who had been with the same friends since kindergarten, it was a big deal for me, and I was manifesting my emotions into my dreams. To this day, if I have a dream of being chased by the t-rex I will wake up in a cold sweat. Those things are scary guys!

Another example, is a bear. I have had recurring nightmares of being chased or killed by bears ever since I first went to my church’s girls camp when I was 12 in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of New Jersey. It’s probably from the horrifying experiences we had every year without fail, of the black bears who roamed the mountains. Any of my fellow camp mates can attest to this as well. The presence of a bear chasing you in a dream represents you running from something in your life that causes you fear. This makes total sense to me because this was the year my Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Clearly, I had a lot of things I was fearful of and had no control over.

I could go on and on. I have so many examples and crazy dreams I could write about, but it would take up so many pages! Ask me about it sometime – I would love to talk about my dreams!

Another thing I truly believe about dreams is that they can be messages or calls to action in our lives.

I started the search for my Birth Mom because of a dream. In 2006 I started to have a series of dreams about her. In the first and very vivid one, I was watching what was going on with her from a distance. I had no idea what she looked like so in my dream she was a blurry figure with shoulder length light brown hair. She was looking for something, and asking people around her if they had seen it. I quickly realized that the “it” she was searching for was my sister and I. When I woke up that morning, the dream kept running through my head over and over. I called my sister in Utah, (we lived in Dallas at the time), and told her about it. We decided that we were ready to try to find her. A few months later I had yet another dream about her. In this one, I was driving my car through a small town I had never seen before looking for my birth mom. I parked my car and started asking some locals who were gathered in the main part of town if they had seen my birth mom, although I didn’t know her name. They told me I was the “spittin’ image” of Jennifer, and surely I was one of her girls. Just a few months after that, my sister and I found her. It was fate, and another story for another post. When I told her about my dreams, and how I dreamt her name was Jennifer, (which it’s not by the way), she told me that in the hospital when she had my sister and I, she had named me Jennifer.

Chills right? Yeah, me too.

I have written before about my miscarriage I suffered in September of 2015. It wrecked me emotionally and I was a mess for weeks. About two months after, I had an incredible dream. In it, I was in a vast, white landscape that seemed to have no end. I was dressed in white, as was everyone else around me. I wasn’t scared or worried about where I was, in fact, I felt very at peace. I realized I was in the after life. Not necessarily Heaven per se, but some sort of post mortal life. As I searched the faces of the people milling around me, I locked eyes with a man probably no older than me. He was tall with dark hair and dark eyes. When we saw one another, we realized we knew each other. We embraced one another and shed tears of happiness. I told him it was so good to see him, and he said the same to me. I asked him where my Mom was and he said matter-of-factly that she was busy “working”. I was fine with this answer, because I was so happy to be with this man who I knew. He asked if he could show me around, and I said of course. He told me that in this place we were, I could think of any place in the world or history and we would go there. I thought of Shanghai, China and instantly we were transported there. We were in a market, and I could smell, touch, and taste everything as if i was really there. This was definitely one of the most vivid dreams ever. Never in my life have I been to China, but in that dream I was really there. After we explored the market for a while, we went back to the white place. He proceeded to show me some specific places in the afterlife, but I cannot for the life of me remember what he showed me. Maybe there is a reason for that? Who knows. We talked for a long time, and then he told me it was time for me to go. I didn’t want to, and began to cry. I did not want my time with him to be over, but he tearfully told me that he was good, and not to be sad.

I woke up, and the morning light was streaming in the windows. I laid there for a few minutes going over the very real dream I had just had.  A thought suddenly overcame me, tears welled up in my eyes, and my chest burned telling me it was true. I belive the young man in my dream was my child that I had lost just a few months before. My son was visiting me to let me know that he was okay and that he loved me. Remembering how long and emotional our reunion was only further solidifies that for me. I cannot wait until the day we do get to meet again, but for now, I know that he’s in a good place waiting for me.

Whether you are religious or not, dreams are something we all have. They can explain a lot of what’s going on with us internally, and are really very fascinating to explore the meanings of. Give it a try sometime! You won’t be disappointed.

 

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

 

Car Troubles that broke the Camels Back

I took my van in yesterday for what (I thought) was just a routine alignment before I head back to Utah for a few days this weekend. After an hour and a half of sitting in the Meineke lobby with my kids in tow, they told me the bad news. Turns out, they could not align my van’s tires until they replaced a part that was broken. Don’t worry, I was skeptical too. I feel like women always get swindled at car shops, ( hey, if you’re offended by that I’m sorry but it is how I feel from many experiences). They even took off the part and came and showed me up close, and YES, it was beyond broken. A few more weeks or even days and it may have broken completely off which would have been big trouble.

Even better news? It was going to be $800. UGH. I mean, no one wants to put that kind of money into a car repair, but if I didn’t align my van, my brand new tires would be ruined quick, and that would be another $400.

After then spending ALL day at Meineke when I had only planned on about 45 minutes the kids were all going crazy and Mommy was DONE. So, when we finally got our van back and were going to head home, the traffic was insane because of rush hour. Not wanting to sit in traffic for an hour, I decided to look for a park and wait out the traffic.  One popped up on Google Maps called Camels Back Park, and with a name like that I thought it must be cool!

We were all pleasantly surprised with just how cool it was!

First, we noticed just how large, clean, and fun the playground/outdoor workout area was.

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Memphis thoroughly enjoying the outdoor gym

The playground area alone, kept my kids busy for over an hour. I really liked how clean the whole park was. Definitely one of the cleanest I have been to!

Once we had our fill playing, we decided to go hiking. The main unique characteristic of Camel’s Back Park is the sand dune!

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Memphis for scale

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Heading up!

So, the hard way, would be to walk straight up, which we opted not to do. If it was just me I would have, but I had six pairs of little legs who would not have been able to make it, and I was not about to carry them up! So, we took one of several trails that went up and around to the top.

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Once we got to the top, the views were amazing! The littles were pretty proud of themselves, because even though we went the “easier” way, it was still very steep, and the sand was slippery. We stayed up at the top of Camel’s Back for a while and soaked in the view.

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There are many trails up there, and I definitely want to go back and explore more of them! I think I should keep hiking essentials handy in my van for the rare occasion that we stumble upon another cool hike! Oh, and if you go here, do NOT try and go down the sand dune. I made that mistake thinking it would be faster, and boy was I wrong! The kids were all slipping, and I did too. So, our solution was to all sit on our butts and slide down the sand! Just don’t do what I did, because I am still picking sand out of my crack!If you are ever in Boise, go check out this unique park!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

 

 

Freak Alleys and Pie Holes

Boise has so many hidden treasures. Last summer when we were visiting, my husband and I discovered the Freak Alley Gallery. It’s located in the downtown area between 8th,9th, Bannock, and Idaho streets. It’s an ever evolving art installment that’s free and open to the public all year-long.

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The cool piece at the entrance off of 9th street

Artists can submit their work and be chosen to add to the gallery every two years. It was started in 2002, and has been a very unique addition to the character of downtown Boise ever since. Whats cool about it is that even in just one year, so many different art pieces had been added, but my favorite one was still there.

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August 2016

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This tiger, I decided, is one of my spirit animals

So, if you happen to be in Boise, you have to go and get your freak on (not in THAT way. Mind outta the gutter people!) at the Freak Alley Gallery.

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Also, the Freak Alley Gallery is right around the corner from one of our favorite Pizza joints here in Boise : Pie Hole. It’s a local pizza restaurant, that has a good variety of pizzas, all served in a cute little eclectic funky space. You can buy pizza by the slice or a whole pie, and it’s very reasonably priced. Best of all, it tastes AMAZING and it’s open late! So, of course we had to all grab a slice after we walked around the gallery.

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Who doesn’t love a great slice of pizza? I know I do! If there was a pizza diet, I’d be all over that!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Idaho Botanical Garden

We will be exploring Boise, Idaho for the next few weeks! I absolutely LOVE the gem state, and I may be a bit biased since my hot hubby is an Idaho boy. But I digress. We got to spend some time up here in Boise last summer, and it is such an enchanting city! The people here are so nice too! So, when we found out we would be getting to spend about six weeks here again I was excited. We will be exploring all Boise has to offer so stay tuned!

Yesterday, the littles and I ventured to the Idaho Botanical Garden and it did not disappoint! The garden, which is nestled on about 33 acres of land is beautifully landscaped and had so many trails and pathways to explore. And the smell! That heavenly aroma of flowers was intoxicating! My oldest son had fun reading the names off the plackards of the types of trees, flowers, shrubs, and plants to his younger siblings.

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The cool thing about the botanical garden too, is that it’s right next to the historic Idaho State Penitentiary which is another place we will definitely go visit. So, I found out while we were there that the land the garden is on, was originally part of the prison, and some of the old guard towers are still standing among the gardens. I love that they preserved a part of history.

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You can see part of the outer wall of the prison behind my kids in this photo.

The Idaho Botanical Garden is super kid friendly. There were so many hands on parts of the experience that they loved. The children’s area with the tree house was by far their favorite part. Besides the flowers and exhibits, the amount of wildlife we saw was impressive too. We saw various birds with nests and babies, an adorable baby bunny hopped in our path, about six snakes, tons of lizards, ducks, fish, and squirrels just to name a few! My oldest son, and we were leaving turned to me and said “Mom, when you first told me this morning that we were coming here I was not excited. But this place is AWESOME!” Thats a Mom win if i have ever heard one! I gave myself a high five. I’m so glad my kids had such a great time, and we spent about three hours there but could have easily spent more. We cannot wait to go back! If you’d like to plan your visit to this beautiful place, head to their website here .

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XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Timeout!

As I placed my unruly toddler into timeout today for the third or fourth time, (frankly, I have lost count), it made me think about the purpose of a timeout. For kids, a timeout is when we exile them into a corner, on a stool, wherever as long as they are separated from everyone and everything so they can think about what they did wrong.

When I was a kid, the preferred spot for timeout was to sit in front of an enormous framed replica of the Constitution of the United States. It’s a wonder I don’t have the whole thing memorized with how many times I ended up there!

My kids, usually end up on a stool.

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This is my toddler. He hates timeout with the fire of a thousand suns. But, he’s usually quick to say sorry for what he did, which is good. My husband and I realized that we were letting him get away with way more than our oldest two. Maybe it’s because he’s the baby, or that he’s our caboose kid, or that he’s just so stinking cute, but about a year ago we started doing timeout with him hardcore to break him of a lot of the bad habits we as parents let get out of hand.

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This is my daughter when she was about eighteen-months-old. This is also about the age she decided naps were for the birds, so timeout stool hangs became the norm for quite a while. My daughter is nothing if not fiery and opinionated. It will be so good when she is an adult, but she tries me more than my two boys combined.

I think that timeout help us as parents keep our sanity as well. Breaking up the chaos for a spell helps sort of reset everyone, not just the kids. Once my kids are being unruly and ridiculous I tend to let my anger get the best of me, and often find myself regretting what I screamed at my children. Ending it all with apologies and hugs doesn’t hurt either. Hugs and kisses from my kids are what keeps me going some days.

Timeouts are essential in the development of children, (according to the science of Heather). I believe that if we just let kids get away with whatever they wanted, they would grow up to be horrible adults. If they got away with everything with no consequences as a child, what’s to stop them as an adult? Who wants to deal with a selfish, unruly, irresponsible, insensitive, just plain mean adult? Hmm, come to think of it, there are many adults that it makes me wonder: “Did they not get timeouts as a child?”  I’m sure you all could add up a list of those adults yourself!

Silly rabbit, timeouts are not just for kids! Adults need timeouts too! I love a good timeout for me. It could be anything as small as a bath after the kids have gone to bed, five minutes of quiet, or getting to take a NAP. I mean, a nap alone is worth a million bucks, but they are very rare these days for me. My mommy friends and I try to do GNO (girls night out) at least once a month, and my husband and I go on dates as often as we can get babysitters. It’s good for us to get one on one time without the kids to reconnect with each other on a romantic level and not just co-parenting partners when we are with the kids.

Timeout is not specifically just for parents either. Work, school, dating, family, friends, bills, just life itself is stressful. Taking some time to yourself, or with friends is essential for a healthy balanced life. Set some time aside every week, or month if you have to and go do what you love. I personally look forward to my time at the gym six days a week. For me, running and lifting with my headphones on and music blaring is a daily escape and makes me so much happier.

So, do yourself a favor, and find what makes you happy and do it! Travel, hike, run, paint, draw, write, box, cook, just find something that you love to do and make it a priority to take a timeout to do it. It will make you a much happier, healthier version of you if you take the time to reset yourself.

For now, I am going to remove my toddler from timeout. Again.

xoxo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

 

For Her.

Today my 6-year-old daughter asked me if she looked fat in what she was wearing. I was dumbfounded that she would even be worried about something like that at her age. After a brief moment of shock I of course told her she looked great in what she had on, and to also remember that every body is different, and every body is beautiful.

To be honest, it made me a little sad to think that she is already concerned with her weight. Her unwavering stubbornness in wanting to dress herself since she was 2 1/2 years old, and absolutely detesting having her hair brushed and styled, was the extent of it so far as I knew concerning her looks. The fact that her weight is something she was thinking about made my Momma heart ache just a little bit.  Remembering my own experience, I was at least 11 before it even registered to me about what size I was.

The more I thought about it last night, the more anxiety I felt for my daughter and the struggles she will have to go through. My experience as a teenager was rough, as it was for most kids my age. It seems today though, that middle school aged kids just completely skip over the awkward phase. Boy, if I could have a time machine I would LOVE to go back and just skip right on over my horrifically awkward middle school years. They were not fun. I was bullied, and I hated myself most days. But you know what? I got through it, and it made me a stronger individual and taught me so much about people in general. I feel like I am a much more empathetic person because of the bullying and teasing I went through.

During my senior year of high school, a friend of mine who I had known since 6th grade asked me if I had moved there in high school. I laughed, and just said “Yup!” and prayed he would not look back at our middle school yearbook. Thankfully I could just laugh it off by then, as I had come into my own by freshman year and had a lot more style and confidence.

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I mean look at me, I was just awkward. Thankfully I had my braces off in fifth grade so I dodged a bullet there, but why on earth did I pick the BIGGEST glasses in the store? I literally have no logical answer for that.  I had no sense of style. Part of this awkward phase was because my Mom was terminally ill all through my middle school years, so I didn’t have her there to teach me things like how to do my makeup or my hair. I’m definitely not blaming her at all, but it’s a huge part of why I was so lost when it came to anything to do with beauty.

It doesn’t seem right that girls are suddenly grown up at the ripe ages of 8, 9, and 10. Why are parents today so obsessed with making our daughters into these little adults so young? Media in general is to blame big time. This social media obsessed generation has access at their fingertips to countless portals of information, photos, gossip, fashion, and news. It has changed our once innocent kids into little adults at a younger age. My kids have accidentally seen or heard things from their friends or via commercials and ads no matter how hard I try to protect them from it, that I had NO clue about until I was well into middle school.

Girls from a young age are being pressured to be sexy and be so much more grown up than they really are. Young girls and women are bombarded with the message that they need to be sexualized to get anywhere in life.  It has become a common theme when it comes to anything in entertainment these days. There are horrendous celebrities that are so commonplace now, and so influential to young girls. It just makes me sick. I will never let my daughter think that Kylie Jenner for example, is what she needs to be or look like. I want to teach her that being intelligent, educated, modest, kind, and healthy will make her beautiful inside AND out.

A while ago, a viral photo went around Facebook of a meme showing what my generation dressed like when we were little (think: side ponytails, stirrup leggings, and puff paint shirts) compared to what little girls dress like now (think: high fashion adult wear in mini sizes). It was meant to be funny, but the more I thought about it, the humor was lost for me. There is so much pressure nowadays for our little girls to be dressing like these little fashionistas, when in reality, they probably could care less.

My daughter for instance, would rather be in a tank top or t-shirt and leggings any day over something fancy. I can’t even get her to wear jeans! Getting her dressed up for special events or even church on Sunday turns into a HUGE debate. I tell you what, my daughter will rule the debate team one day! If she was given the choice between something considered “high fashion” or covered in glitter and fun characters that she loves, she would pick the glitter hands down. So why would I try to force her to be someone she doesn’t want to be? I won’t.

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So for my daughter, I will try my very best to continue to teach her to not be afraid to be herself. The pressures she will face as she gets older are ten times what I had to go through. I am afraid for her, but if she is as stubborn and sure of herself as she is right now at the age of 6, I have a good feeling she will be able to navigate herself through the awkward stages just like I did.

I always make sure I am never negative about my own body. She has often asked me about my stretch marks and stretched out skin on my stomach from having my three kids. I have never said anything negative to her about them, (even if I do to myself), and make sure I tell her they are from having her and her brothers and I am so grateful for them because it means I have my kids.

My husband too, is a huge influence on what my daughter thinks of beauty. He doesn’t hesitate to tell me I am beautiful in front of them, even if I am super sweaty and have just come from the gym with no makeup on. We always kiss and hug one another in front of the kids. Kids hearing their parents say “I love you” to one another is so meaningful. Seeing a good solid relationship, and seeing how a man should treat a woman is very beneficial for their young minds. It sets a standard for them of what a good relationship looks like. I want my boys to know how to treat women with respect, and I want my daughter to know what kind of relationship she deserves to have in the future.

Even though I am not perfect, all I can do is continue to be a good example to her. I want to be the woman she strives to be when she grows up. For now, I will let her continue to be herself, and just be a kid.

xoxo

Heather

The Raw Brunette