Do-It-Yourself Motherhood

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I’ve had a lot of dreams and career aspirations throughout my life. When I was very young, despite having no idea what the job actually entailed, I wanted to be an engineer like my father. For a brief period around first or second grade I wanted to be a car mechanic simply because I saw so few women doing that job. And then I wanted to be a rocket scientist – to that end, I even went to Space Camp. I wanted to be a teacher. I wanted, pretty desperately, to be a writer (and yes, I still want that). I wanted to be, and in fact successfully became, a librarian.

But through all of that, through every new interest and dream, there’s been something that has persisted in the background. I’ve also always wanted to be a mother. I remember being only seventeen, and still in high school which seems unbelievable now, and knowing with a bone-deep surety that I wanted to be a mother. I’m not sure why or how I knew this: I don’t have a big family and I only ever babysat once or twice so I’d never really been around young kids. I liked kids, but as it is I’m a pretty awkward person around grown-ups (yes, even still) and I didn’t really feel any more comfortable around kids.

But I knew. I wanted to be a mother. I was going to go after my career aspirations whole-heartedly and pursue all my other ambitions as well, but in the end the thing that mattered to me the most was having a family.

That dream finally came true for me, and honestly? I’m as happy as I thought I would be. I’m one of those lucky, lucky people who got exactly what she wanted and was content with it. Whatever else happens in my life, I feel like this – my beautiful daughter – is enough.

But.

I realized pretty quickly after she was born that having a baby was the easy part. (And by no means is that “easy”!) Now I had to raise the baby! She was going to grow and change and become her own person – and that was an exhilarating, amazing thought, but it’s also terrifying! There’s so much advice out there for new mothers, and some of it – a lot of it, even – is genuinely helpful. But there’s also so much advice that doesn’t apply. So much that wasn’t relevant to me. And even advice that positioned the way it described as the “right” way, or the only way.

That’s why my philosophy, and the philosophy of this blog is: D.I.Y Motherhood. Or, motherhood that you figure out for yourself! I want to share my experiences and help other moms navigate this scary, exciting time, but I also want to advocate for moms who may not have a traditional experience. Everyone is different. Working moms, or stay-at-home moms. Moms with a supportive partner, or single moms. Moms with one child, or moms with several. Moms who knew they wanted babies, or moms for whom this journey may be unexpected and frightening.

D.I.Y. Motherhood means dealing with parenthood on your own terms.  We’re all different, with countless sets of unique circumstances, and there’s not really advice out there that’s “one size fits all.”  I want to encourage moms – and new parents, not just moms, though that is the focus – to find what works best for them.  Because even though raising our kids is now a huge part of our lives, we’re more than just “mom.”  We need to remember to take time for ourselves, to focus on our identities outside of parenthood.  Build the motherhood that works best for you!

Personally, I work full time. I have a very supportive husband and right now only one child. As I said, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was the privilege of raising a child. But that doesn’t define me. As much as I love my daughter, I’ve found that the role of “mom” is one that’s harder to slip into. Where do I draw the line? How do I navigate a changing identity and stay who I am?

Welcome to my journey, everyone. I hope to share this with you, and maybe I can offer some advice to those who need it, and learn a few things myself.

Exciting News!

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So 2020 is going to be my year. I’ve decided, so that’s already a big part of the way towards making it true, right? I have a lot of things I’d like to accomplish this year, and a lot of exciting things in the works. So I’d like to share some news with you!

I’ve been accepted into a creative writing program!

(cue cheering) Yay! I’ve always loved to write – that’s one reason I started a blog – and it feels incredibly satisfying to have the validation that comes from being accepted into a program for writing. Now, yes, this is going to be a financial strain for awhile. But I have a few things I’m planning on doing to help mitigate the cost. It’s actually a pretty reasonable program, which I’m very happy about! I’m planning on opening an etsy store, as well as doing a few Skillshare classes. This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile, so it’s so exciting that I’m finally able to! It’s a master’s program, so I’ll be getting an MFA. I can’t stop grinning when I think about it! I’m overjoyed!

Anyone else have good news to share for this year? Let me know in a comment!

January Book Club

Back to Reading!

I did not have a lot of time last year to read, and when I did I often didn’t make the time, focusing instead on other things – or just playing on my phone. That’s a habit I want to break! I don’t know about anyone else, but a lot of my new year’s resolutions are about breaking bad habits instead of forming new ones. I don’t know what that says about me, but I’m just going to work as hard as I can to fix a few pesky little problems that cropped up last year. Any one of them is that I didn’t make time to read! I’m not one of those people who feel like you have to read, or read books just for the sake of meeting a goal, but I’m always happier when I read. I love getting lost in the stories, and I think reading a lot makes me a better writer, too. So! I’m taking my book club off hiatus, and really devoting serious time to it.

This Month’s Book

For January, I actually have three books I already have to read! Four a month is usually my goal, so what could it hurt to add another one! (She says, blissfully ignoring the stress that might cause. Ha.) So this is one that I’ve been interested in since it was released, but I haven’t gotten a chance to pick it up yet. So for January, I’ll be reading

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.


I hope you’ll read with me!  I’ll be posting updates throughout the month – hopefully! – probably on twitter.  I’m @craftymodmom if you want to follow me there.  

Happy reading, everyone! 

Welcome to 2020! Word of the Year

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

2019 was, for me, a very very difficult year. I lost my mother, we had a lot of financial trouble, and I had a lot of problems with my job. Add to that the normal ups and downs along with a lot of awful things happening in the world and well… I’m glad to see 2019 gone! I’m trying to stay optimistic. I’m trying to start a clean slate for 2020, without carrying any baggage over. There are still issues I’m dealing with, of course, but I’m going to try to see them with fresh eyes. So as you can imagine, I’m already starting this year off with a very difficult task!

Wish me luck for this year, y’all, I think I’m going to need it.

My 2020 word of the year is something that I’d like to focus on. Something that I’m striving for that I genuinely believe is within reach. So my word is:

CONTENTMENT

: the state of being contented; satisfaction; ease of mind.

I chose this word because I spent the last year being angry about all my problems. I am a solution person, and I like to fix things. I get very out of sorts when I have no control over things, or when someone I love has a problem that I can’t help with. But this year, I’m going to try to remember that I don’t have to fix everything, and instead of worrying about things about of my control, I’m going to stay in my lane. I’m not going to chase happiness, or that fleeting high. I want to be satisfied with my life. Maybe I won’t be filled with joy and wonder all the time, but I want to be less stressed, and I want to focus on making my lot in life better instead of focusing on all the things I don’t have, or haven’t done. I want to be content.

What’s your word for the year, and how are you going to try to embody it?

Book Review: The Golden Hour

Part of my job at the library is to lead a book club each month. This is something I really enjoy doing, and over the… two years now, I believe, that I’ve been leading it I’ve really come to appreciate the group and look forward to the discussion every month. Another thing this does is introduce me to books I wouldn’t normally read. This might sound silly since I’m the person who picks the books, but I try to cater to my group’s tastes more than my own. I sort of inherited the group. It had begun previously, and I took over when the old leader retired.

This month we read The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams, which I don’t think I ever would have picked up on my own!

The Golden Hour
Beatriz Williamz
William Morrow | July 9, 2019
485 p
My rating: 3.5/5 stars

The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in the Bahamas to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires?

Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love.

Then Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, and the resulting coverup reeks of royal privilege. Benedict Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unpick Thorpe’s complicated family history: a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.

The stories of two unforgettable women thread together in this extraordinary epic of espionage, sacrifice, human love, and human courage, set against a shocking true crime . . . and the rise and fall of a legendary royal couple.

~*~

The best thing about this book, for me, was Lulu’s voice. She had a very distinct personality – sharp and bright and sassy, I guess you’d say, and it made for vivid writing with a strong voice. It was fun to read, hearing what she had to say about what was going on. Everything else was just… okay, for me. It wasn’t bad, really, but I didn’t love it. You might have noticed in the summary that it’s the story of two unforgettable women, but one isn’t mentioned at all. Well, for me, at least, it’s because the two threads are so disparate they don’t feel as if they belong together. In fact they don’t really tie together until the end. For some readers, I think this could work, but for me I found the other women – Elfriede – to be a little less immediately engaging. Her story wasn’t uninteresting, and neither was she as a character, but it was a much slower-paced, more internal story as opposed to Lulu’s bright, Bahamian intrigue-laced adventures. A few of the ladies in my book club enjoyed Elfriede’s story more than Lulu’s, but I did not. I actually skipped her sections once or twice! (I would not have done this if I didn’t have a deadline I had to finish the book by, though.)

My biggest complaint about the book was that it was too long. At 485 pages, I feel like it’s fairly hefty, and with two separate narratives there can be a lot going on. I feel like I would have enjoyed the book more as two separate stories, maybe two books. However, the book is structured in a way that I don’t think would work without the two differing narratives. There are a lot of flashbacks and jumping around in time, and different sections of a character’s story take place in different years. Without the clean break of a new character, I do not think the sections could have been effectively separated in the same way. Having the same character jump between 1941 and 1943, then back and forth, all without a break, might have been jarring to readers.

Overall I enjoyed reading it, but it did not leave me with a strong impression after I’d finished. I cared about the characters, but I didn’t feel invested in the plot, and there was so much going on that without that investment it just didn’t draw me in. (Also, for anyone interested, since it does take place in the Bahamas – no, there’s no real discussion of the impact of colonialism and racial tensions are touched on but not addressed. It’s very obvious it was written by a white person and I believe the characters are all white, save for Veryl, whose voice is written in dialect which… was so unnecessary.)

Easy Handmade Stocking Tutorial

Last year was my daughter’s first Christmas, and because I had not actually sewn or made much for her – which, believe me, I cannot believe?! what happened, I was so excited – I wanted to at least make her a stocking. It was really easy, and last year I wrote up a quick tutorial I’d posted on an older blog (that, to be honest, I never really used). I’ve reproduced it here, so if you’re interested, here’s a quick how-to!

better stocking graphic
Continue reading “Easy Handmade Stocking Tutorial”

Favorites Post: November

Here are a few of my favorite things from the previous month!

Make-Up

Stay Naked Concealer from Urban Decay – This is AMAZING. It works perfectly for me! When it says “full coverage” it really means it, and it works so well that my confidence has really gotten a boost when I wear make-up (or when I take the time to put on make-up I should say).

Too Faced Better Than Sex Eyeliner – I know some moms are a little uncomfortable with the name, and while I can understand that for a young girl or teenager, I have absolutely zero qualms using it for myself lol. This is really easy to apply, a deep, matte black, and long wearing. When I want a really nice winged liner long, this is my go-to.

Television

The Good Place – In honor of S4 – the final season! – I recently rewatched the entire show in. And it was just as good as I remembered! If you are not already watching this, what are you waiting for?! It’s so funny, has amazing characters (and an amazing cast), and it’s such a unique premise that’s been really well executed. A lot of people have been less than happy with the final season, but I’m withholding judgement until the very end. Just like the first season had a massive, canon-shifting twist, this last season could be leading up to a big surprise, as well. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens. I’ve really come to care about these characters and I’m so excited to find out where they’ll end up. I could go on and on about how much I love this show (and did you know that I had a – now defunct??? – TV column where I talk about TV?), but I’ll just leave you with this:

Video Games

Slay the Spire – You may not know that I love games, of all types. I love a good family board game, I love crossword puzzles and cards, and I also love video games. There are so many different types of video games out there that if you’re at all interested, I’m sure there’s something you’d enjoy. Slay the Spire, which I’ve been playing tons of in my free time lately, is an interesting game that combines cards and deckbuilding with a “roguelike” dungeon crawling gameplay structure. (For anyone unfamiliar, that basically means you travel through randomly generated levels, and if your character dies, they stay dead.) It’s a really fun game, and it’s easy to jump in and out of when I’m in the mood. If you’re interested, here’s a beginner’s guide!

Podcasts

The Adventure Zone – So, in keeping with the nerdy theme of this month’s Favorites, this is a podcast that I have to recommend with a caveat. It’s really… really nerdy. It’s an actual play D&D podcast, which means you’re listening to a group of people play Dungeons and Dragons. Yep. You’re just listening to them play. Don’t let that deter you, though! D&D is a roleplaying game and while there’s combat and things like that the best part, for me at least, is the storytelling. With the right group at the table, it becomes a collaborative storytelling experience – and yeah, sure, you also roll some dice! The Adventure Zone is definitely that sort of experience, and having just finished the first campaign I have to say that the story is amazing. I loved it so much! Now, this is not something you can just jump headfirst into and binge. I was catching up, and listening over the whole month. There are about 70 episodes or so in the first campaign, and each is about an hour long (some more, I think the finale was two hours), so if you want to listen you’ll have a lot of content! But I really recommend it! You grow very attached to the characters, and it’s great seeing them grow. The story is really interesting, and grows to an awesome scale. There’s mystery, romance, adventure (lots of adventure… a whole zone of it, you might say), and lots of laughs. This has been a delight, so if you’re interested, I encourage you to check it out!

Welcome December!

While I celebrate Christmas and really enjoy the holidays (family, food, a break from work? Yes, please), December is not my favorite month. It’s so dark. Here in the northern hemisphere December means the beginning of winter, and – to my much greater displeasure – the final slide into the winter solstice, the darkest day of the year. It sounds portentous when you put it like that, doesn’t it? It’s a very festive time, and a time of great import to many, but I do not like the slow disappearance of daylight. I look forward to when the day is passed and we start the climb back towards spring. I do not like the cold, either, to be honest, but I can handle a bright, snowy day far better than a day that’s cut short by the specter of twilight.

Maybe I’m a little petty – well yes, definitely I am – but I see no reason not to try to combat this dark time of year, even if it’s not a personal slight against me (though it feels like it sometimes). So to that end:

As readers may remember, I tried to blog more in October and immediately failed. Miserably. I had so many posts planned! I still have the drafts saved! But it just didn’t work out for me, and to be honest, I still haven’t found a great “groove” with blogging. I might put ads in next year, but right now, it’s just a place to put down my thoughts, talk about parenting, and maybe work on my writing! (If I grow an audience for that writing, great! But not the point.) But I really do want to be more consistent. So while I am not committing to posting everyday, I do plan to be on a bit more regular schedule. If I can post everyday (other than yesterday, which already I missed! You see what I mean about accountability, but not too much accountability), then that’s great, but it’s not something I’m going to hold myself to. That way, if I have more manageable expectations, I think it’ll be easier to succeed! So here’s a quick plan for posts:

  • November favorites
  • Homemade cocoa recipe
  • Newborn/baby essentials
  • Christmas gift ideas for the book lover in your life
  • Finding your personal style

I’m hoping that this will motivate me to keep posting, and set the stage for a great start to 2020! Thanks for reading, everyone!