Summer in Uruguay: The heat that just won’t quit.

This is our second summer in Uruguay. We haven’t really gotten accustomed to the summer traditions such as flocking to the beach or going out without globs of sunscreen on. Most people are actually surprised when we aren’t out at the beach or enjoying the sun but in my view it’s just TOO HOT to do it!

I’m originally from Florida so going out in the humid summer heat is something I’m definitely used to but a Uruguayan summer is in another league. The heat is intense and the sun is killer–literally, skin cancer rates in Uruguay are high due to a thin o-zone and the ridiculous cost of sunscreen–making me all the more comfortable to stay inside with my AC blasting. Sure this summer isn’t as bad as last, we’ve been in the steady mid 80s/30s. Last summer we were in the 100s/40s for most of the summer meaning I definitely was NOT leaving my house unless a) it was on fire or b) they were handing out free ice cream. And seeing how they did neither, my bum was firmly planted in front of the AC.

I would LOVE to go to the beach, and take PJ to play in the sand and water. But we live about two hours away from the beach. By the time the sun isn’t so brutal–about 4:00 or 5:00pm–I’m too tired to make the drive there and back. Maybe next year we’ll go to Cabo Polonio or La Paloma, but for right now we’re okay enjoying the heat from the farm.

 

Grandma and grandpa bought her a pool to cool off in! She loves it!
Grandma and grandpa bought her a pool to cool off in! She loves it!
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Pride For All the Wrong Reasons

As a mother, you get all sorts of unsolicited advice and comments about child rearing. Most of them don’t bother me except the scolding eyes I receive from my in-laws when I don’t put socks on my daughter but I digress. The other day I posted a picture of my daughter on Facebook and I got a bunch of “likes” and a few comments stating how cute and adorable she is. No problem, right? Then I got THE comment, THE comment that has been nagging at the back of my mind since she was born.
“She’s so cute! I know you must be proud :)”

Proud. Proud of what? Proud of my daughter for being beautiful? Proud of her for receiving mine and my husbands genes? Proud of her genetics that make her beautiful? I didn’t have a say in that, I didn’t get to write a letter to God asking Him for a beautiful baby. I didn’t go to the doctor and say, “Hey man, if she’s not pretty I’m not taking her!”

I don’t want this to come off as if I don’t appreciate my daughters beauty because I do. She has gorgeous olive skin, enormous brown eyes, a small button nose and a smile that could melt the ice caps. She looks like a porcelain doll. But that’s not something I necessarily find myself boasting about or finding pride in. I’m proud of her never ending curiosity. I’m proud of the moments when she figures out the round peg goes in the round hole. I’m proud of when she touches the dog in a loving way as opposed to smacking its fur. I’m proud of how she knows that a cow goes moo and sheep go baaah. My daughter is intelligent and that is something I find pride in. Again, I had nothing to do with it but I feel that spending time with her reading and playing has aided in her curiosity and overall awesomeness.

We, as a society, put so much value on looks that I don’t want her to spend so much time preoccupied with something that may or may not be there ten, fifteen, or fifty years from now. Beauty is something she will spend her entire life either worrying about and unconsciously comparing herself to others. Advertising and marketing isn’t likely to stop making us feel bad about ourselves with using stick thin models and photoshopping them to create basically these ridiculous beauty standards.
While at this stage in my life it doesn’t affect me nearly as much as it did when I was a teenager, I still remember being 13 years old sitting on the living room floor reading the latest Seventeen or CosmoGirl! and feeling awful about every little inch of flab I had that the cover girl didn’t. I’ll never forget crying in front of the mirror when I went on a fad diet and ended up binging on 3D Doritos two days later when I couldn’t handle the hunger pains anymore.
I don’t want my daughter to EVER feel like that. I’m aware that it’s inevitable but it doesn’t mean I can’t do everything in my power to show her that while yes the world will tell put value on physical beauty, the only beauty that matters is the one that lays within her.
One of my many desires for my daughter, and any future children I may have, is to be humble, kind, intelligent, loving, and dedicated to her strengths. I pray to be able to cultivate those strengths and virtues in my daughter by my example.

Young Mom and the Babysitter Mind-set

I’m a young mom. Nothing new or strange about that. A lot of my classmates from high school and college are young mothers as well. Some became mothers accidentally and others became mothers purposefully. The “how” doesn’t really matter because we all ended up with the same result; beautiful children.

But being a young mom has it’s challenges. You have advertisements, television and movies–basically all of society–telling us that in our 20s we should be out partying, traveling and in some cases having casual sex. You feel like you’re missing out when you don’t participate in those activities. (I personally don’t find the whole partying thing glamorous but that’s a personal preference. Give me sweatpants, a couch and Netflix any day!)

Then there’s the fact that you just don’t FEEL like a mom. My parents had my sister and I in their 30s. They had the whole steady job, PTA, soccer parent thing down pat. I barely brush my teeth on a daily basis let alone have the whole parenting gig together. I feel like a babysitter more than a mom. And there it is…It didn’t really hit me that this little human being was MINE until her first birthday. As we were cutting the cake and opening gifts I realized I have at least 30+ more of these with her. It wasn’t as if the year ended the timer saying, “You can go return her to the hospital now. Her real parents will go pick her up there.” It really hit me that I’m responsible for this life. I’m in charge of teaching her to be a good human being, to love people and to be honest, respectful and humble.

I ask myself, “When did this happen?” about ten times a day. I don’t know why I ever thought my job was to just keep her alive but it’s so much more than that (obviously). I feel like I can’t ask for help. I’m 24, I should have my stuff together and be able to care for my kid without any help. And I know that’s not true, that I’m forcing those thoughts onto myself, but I can’t help it. I made the choice to create my little bugger. My husband and I are the only ones that hold the responsibility to raise her.

I don’t think a lot of women will admit that it takes them awhile to realize that they are forever responsible for their children. Much more so than the basic rule of keeping them alive. It took me a whole year. I think it’s because we still feel like children ourselves. When I was growing up I couldn’t wait to be an adult. And now that I am an adult, I’m just waiting to feel like one.

Reaching for her daddy.
Reaching for her daddy.

Goodbye 2014…

From the outside looking in, I don’t think people would describe how I lived 2014 to be extraordinary. I’m a stay-at-home mom and wife. I don’t have a paying job. I live on a farm. To many, my life is pretty mundane. But in my opinion, 2014 was one of the best years of my life (and I’ve had some pretty awesome years).

My daughter was born at the end of 2013, so the beginning of 2014 was filled with ever growing love for being a mother. It was filled with sleepless nights, diapers, bottles, and tons of laundry. I spent much of it alone-because let’s be honest motherhood is a lonely life-but that didn’t stop me from enjoying every smile and coo that escaped my baby girl. As she continued to grow, my days became busy in new ways. I spent much of it trying to entertain her or teach her something new. Or I spent it documenting her every movement.

I’m going to miss my baby being just that, a baby. She’ll never crawl for the first time again, or take her first steps again. I’ll miss the quiet moments of just watching her stare at the ceiling laughing as her arms jerk around. I’ll miss seeing her apprehensively touch her bath water. I’ll miss her being tiny and small. I will not-so-secretly miss when she only wanted me to soothe her and not her daddy. I’ll miss the days when she didn’t throw tantrums and I’ll definitely miss the days when she didn’t throw her food at the dogs.

With all the good things about motherhood, there did come a point around PJs six month life-aversary where I became depressed. I felt alone in a new country with no one to talk to, my friends back home didn’t understand what I was going through, and no matter how hard my husband tried he just didn’t get it. I was still relatively new at this whole mom gig and like I said, being in a new country where I knew no one gave me more than enough opportunities to wallow in self pity. Now, you might be wondering if this is how I felt during 2014 why would I miss it? Because if it weren’t for all my wallowing in self pity I would have never been encouraged to cultivate my identity outside of motherhood.

Last year I started working on me. I started writing, exercising, reading things other than mommy handbooks, and taking time to figure out what I want for my life. I discovered a love for cooking. I discovered that exercising doesn’t truly gross me out. My husband and I took the time to talk about things other than our beautiful bouncing baby.

I learned to love me. To take care of me. That I am not just a mother, a caregiver, a daughter, a sister, and a wife. I am a person and I need to care for myself.

2014 was a good year for me. I grew. It was my first year as a mother. I fell more in love with my husband. And most importantly I learned that I am not bound by the adjectives placed upon me.