Lilly Belle Market

Almost two years ago TO THE DAY, Rhonda ordered her first order of Lilly Belle Market bows on Etsy.  They were purchased partly for Claudia, with some of them being given to Ashley at Sophie’s baby shower.  We have been in love since and the obsession is real.  We are so happy to announce that we will be representing Lilly Belle Market this fall, along with some other amazing ladies and their gals.

Glitter, felt, sequins, leather, and more – LBM seriously has what your little one needs for her wardrobe!

Be sure to follow the Instagram page for Lilly Belle Market and like them on Facebook.  You’re going to love the bows and headbands and the cute clothing items!

 

 

Three Years

My entire life, I dreamed of having a daughter.  I always assumed I would.  It never crossed my mind that it may not happen.  It’s funny how we take those things for granted.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was absolutely certain it was a girl.  So certain, in fact, that when the ultrasound revealed huge balls, I was in complete denial.  The ultrasound tech and doctor were 100% sure.  I was not.  I “accepted” it, but cried all the way home.  I didn’t even want to buy boy stuff.  I was that convinced it was wrong.  When he was born, I was delighted and decided it would be ok, because it would be good for my future daughter to have a big brother to watch out for her.

I didn’t have any strong feeling when pregnant with my second child.  I couldn’t decide if it would be a boy or a girl, but I certainly hoped for a girl.  One boy and one girl sounded perfect to me and would complete my family.  Ultrasound once again revealed a FOR SURE boy.  I burst into tears right there in the dark room.  Of course, I accepted it and got hyped up to bring a little brother into the world.

Third time’s the charm, right?  We had decided three was our limit for children and this was going to be the last time.  I hoped for a girl, but had to resign myself to the fact that it was unlikely.  Ultrasound showed a boy.  I accepted it quickly, didn’t cry, but was a little depressed until he was born.  I decided to fully embrace the Boy Mom title as part of my identity.

After Quentin was born, I was so happy for a little while.  I felt like our family was complete.  After some time, I started to get that ache again.  I didn’t necessarily want another child for the sake of having a fourth.  I just wanted a girl.  So desperately.  I felt like I was meant to have a daughter and I felt like my time had come.  I am not sure how, but I managed to talk my then-husband Dustin into JUST ONE MORE.  I had to promise him that it would be the last time and that we would get permanent birth control after.  I also had to convince him that I would be happy with a fourth boy, since there are no guarantees and odds weren’t in our favor.  I meant it.  I was happy to have a fourth boy if that’s what was meant for me.  Being loved on by a bunch of little boys is such an amazing experience.

From the moment I peed on a stick in my work bathroom and saw the positive, I JUST KNEW.  I had a gut instinct it was a girl.  I didn’t tell anybody.  I didn’t want to put it out there into the universe.  I wanted to hold that instinct close to my heart.  When we announced my pregnancy, everyone hoped for a girl.  I wanted to say, “it’s a girl! I just know it!”  Soon after announcing, I was on the phone with my mom.  I could feel it that we both thought it was a girl.  Neither of us said it, but would later admit we were both thinking it.  The days leading up to the big ultrasound, Dustin and I were discussing names.  We had long had our girl name picked out, waiting to be used.  We mulled over boy names and NOTHING worked.  Hell, we had used everything we loved already.  We decided on two “fine” names.  Inside, I knew we wouldn’t need them, so it wouldn’t matter anyway.

Nothing, no past experiences, no instincts, could have prepared me for how I would feel when the ultrasound tech very casually announced, “and it’s a girl.”

Heart. Stopped.  Shock.  I looked at Dustin and tears filled my eyes.

“Wait?  Are you sure?”  I asked.  She pointed out all the important markers of girl parts.  She was certain.

Even though I had felt it instinctually, I still was in shock that this was my reality.  I excitedly announced it on social media after telling my family and closest friends.  It felt like the entire world shared in our joy, and we were over the moon.  I didn’t fully believe it until the 32-week ultrasound, when I asked the tech, “is it still a girl?”  At that moment, my world truly started transforming into a pink paradise and I haven’t been the same since.

Since Claudia Love entered our world, everything is better.  I have a different and unique bond with each of my boys, but the relationship with Claudia is just special.  I see so much of myself in her.  She has changed the way I treat myself, the way I think of myself, the way I think of other women.  I avoid saying anything about skinny or fat.  I model behaviors I want her to learn.  She picks up on all my sass and repeats all my ugly words.  She wants to be just like her mommy, so I have to think about all my actions.

photo by Nicole Brack Photography

I can honestly say, we needed her.  We all did.  I am so thankful Dustin agreed to take this journey with me.  I know he can’t imagine life without her either.

photo by Nicole Brack Photography

I still sometimes can’t believe she’s here.  But she is – and she has been here for three years today.  It goes by so fast.  Cliche, but so damn true.

Tomorrow we will celebrate her with a small family party.  But for now, she wants to go to Target.  As you wish, Princess.

Let Him Wear a Bow

 

When my son was a baby and toddler I used to do my makeup everyday while sitting on the floor in front of a large mirror that I leaned against the wall. These days I do my makeup standing up, with everything stored at a height above where two little curious arms and hands can reach. I also have a much larger makeup collection and more extensive daily routine now, compared to back then. But, when Coop was very young my makeup routine was relatively fast and every piece of product and tool I owned fit securely in one little bag. If Cooper was awake – he was right there with me: In my lap, sitting next to me, watching me, reaching for things, and requesting that I put makeup on him too.

 

I always wanted my first child to be a boy. Why? I don’t know. I’m fairly certain that it stems from my desire to have had a big brother. Ha. But somehow, my first baby was a boy, and I was over the moon with excitement. I said lots of “I told you-s!” and “I just KNEW it was a boy-s!” I didn’t. I just wanted him to be a boy. 😉 Don’t get me wrong. I love being a girl mom. BUT I always knew that I was meant to be a boy mom. Again why? Oh – let’s be honest. For all those social cliche reasons. I wanted him to be a protective big brother if he were to have younger siblings. Watching my little boy geek out over comic books and/or video games. Seeing him play baseball…or some kind of sport. Girl clothes are cute. I die for Soso in pink and flowers. However, I do really really like dressing boys. Button down shirts. Converse tennis shoes with black skinny jeans. Toddlers in bow ties and mulligan hats. Shorts paired with suspenders.  All of it. I was head over heels in love with the idea of what a boy was supposed to and what I thought he would look like.

It was in those early moments – when I would apply my makeup, and Cooper wanted to be a part of that – that I knew I had been terribly wrong about how I thought I would raise my boy.

I was watching a speech that Emma Watson gave wherein she said that “we need to perceive gender as a spectrum – not as two opposing sides.” Now that was loosely paraphrased from my memory, BUT I think the point still rings loud and clear. Gender is and always has been a social classification. Gender has nothing to do with your sex. Your sex is determined by the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. Gender is the socially constructed roles, behaviors, attributes, and activities that a given society considers appropriate for a man or woman. Did you hear that? SOCIALLY constructed.

Boys don’t just like blue, and girls don’t just like pink. My son, he always has and still does show an interest in the clothes I’m wearing, the makeup I’m applying, and many other ‘girly’ things that I do on a daily basis. You know what else he is obsessed with? Tractors. Wood chippers. Garbage trucks. 18 wheelers. Making the sounds associated with a running weed eater or flying plane. If his dad is playing a video game, Cooper wants to know all about what’s going on – sometimes he even wants to play too. Cooper loves to play outside. He is most happy when his hands are dirty from doing some form of hard labor. 

 

There are a lot of things that I do as a parent – A lot of things that I allow my children to do because I’m saying fuck conventional expectations. I’m doing this the way I want. I’m not going to traumatize my child by insisting that he (or she) do something the way it is expected by society when that expectation has no bearing on the well being of my child. Want to know an expectation that has absolutely no bearing on the well being of my child? The expectation that he can’t be excited to play with mommy’s makeup brushes or wear some of her lipstick. The expectation that he shouldn’t recognize that his sister is wearing the cutest dress and looks pretty “like a princess”, because he appreciates and loves the dress just as much as she does.

I decided a while ago that I wouldn’t limit my son’s interests. I’m not going to tell him, “No you can’t do that because that’s for girls.” “No, you can’t play with that baby doll, because girls play with baby dolls.” And on and on and on.

When it comes to things like makeup? Yes. I will tell him, “No, you can’t wear this foundation – because you are too young.” That’s what I would tell my daughter. There have been days that he has left the house wearing just the faintest application of blush on his cheeks and a crap ton of chap stick on his lips. Several times, I’ve let him dig into my translucent face powder and watched as he expertly tapped the brush to remove the excess powder – then he proceeded to load his face up with the stuff. I didn’t wash it off. He spent the day like that.

I will treat them equally. There are and will be things that I restrict them from doing at separate times due to age, intellectual ability, and physical ability. For instance, Sophie is not allowed to hold my makeup brushes. Why? Well – She’s 1 and a half. She’ll just put them in her mouth. Which is not cool. Not cool at all man.

The other day, as Cooper and Sophie were preparing to leave with their dad – Sophie asked for a bow to be put in her hair. This is a new request that she’s started doing. It always makes me giddy. Cooper notices that. So that day, he asked for a bow too. I didn’t think twice. Honestly. I really didn’t. We went straight to the big basket of bows. I picked one out for Sophie, and I picked one out for Cooper. He left the house that way. I know that not everyone in my son’s life will support this stance. This commitment of mine. And that’s ok. We are all entitled to our own opinions and viewpoints. And that’s a little lesson in real life. To hear different ideas. For even your closest loved ones to be at odds when it comes to subject like gender equality, religion, politics, and so many other important topics – is not uncommon. 

But, I. I will let my son wear a bow ,if he wants to. And Cooper, he will see that. I’m his mom. I grew him inside me. I raise him everyday.  A lot of times I feel like being a mom to this growing boy is not so hard. Sometimes I get it all wrong. Sometimes we both end up in tears of sadness and regret. But with this? With gender equality? With teaching him – and demonstrating to him…even in the smallest of actions…I’m doing my damndest to get it right.

It’s not about the bow. It’s not about the makeup. It’s not about any of that superficial stuff. It’s about the way we treat each other. It’s about the way we respect each other’s life choices. It’s about the fact that my son notices the things that I fawn over and dote about concerning my daughter. He notices when she does things that make me happy. He wants to make me happy too. He’s three – He’s not asking to wear the bow in order to make some sort of life statement.  He just wants to be a part of our world. I’m not going to shut him out. I’m not going tell him that thinking that way is wrong. Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a part of and contribute to the things that make your loved ones happy. There is nothing wrong with taking joy in the things that your loved ones take joy in.

So, I say – Let the boys wear bows. 🙂