Social Common does Gap Kids.

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I’m not much for shopping, despite being raised with a sister who I sometimes think invented it and meant for it to be a sport.

I should clarify that I’m specifically talking about shopping for myself – all the different labels and stores and colours and varying sizes (WHY isn’t there just one universal sizing chart for women?!)…I get flustered, can’t focus and often flee as soon as the salesperson asks, “can I help you find the right size in that?”

Buying for others, on the other hand…I could compete in THAT sport. And now that I have a DAUGHTER to buy for? An 11-month old, curly-haired, adorable, light-of-my-life little girl who just so happens to need all new clothes because she’s about to start daycare in the fall (*SOB*)?! Oh, let the games begin!

Which is why I was so excited to attend the first members only event for the rapidly growing moms social group, the aptly named Social Common, at the uptown Gap Kids store.

Social Common is the brain child of Catherine and Natalie, old friends turned business partners who, collectively, have 5 kids under the age of 4 (Yeowza!). Having known each other since high school, where they admittedly excelled in “hanging out”, and being the social butterflies they are, they’d been searching for a meet-up group for moms like them (also Social Common’s tag-line), but to no avail. Tired of the same-old coffee dates and ventures to the park, they decided to create their own group, and…ehem, gave birth, if you will, to Social Common!

The mostly evening events range from cooking classes to expert speakers, to dinner parties where family-oriented topics are discussed amongst a table full of food, wine and other women looking to shake loose their mommy cloak for a night! The environments are supportive, inspiring, and FUN! And even if you show up alone, like I have on occasion, you’re pretty much guaranteed to leave having made a new friend or two, which is just what Catherine and Natalie intended.

At the Gap event, all members were being gifted a generous 30% off their entire purchase, including the newly released fall collection. And, if you’ve ever shopped regular-price at a Gap Kids, you’ll know that 30% off there is pretty much making money!

We had free rein of the store from 7:30 to 9:30pm, so I was entering into a full 2-hour long shopping commitment. Despite being a contender for this event, I have to be honest, it made me (and my husband) a bit nervous (especially my husband) – because, come on. Gap Kids clothes are The. Cutest. Ever! And since I had yet to get anything for my daughter to wear for daycare (*SOB*), I was fully aware of the dent that could/would be made on my credit card.

When I arrived at the store however, I found that Catherine and Natalie had spun their awesome energy through the aisles like a web, and I was caught up in the positive vibe, instantly forgetting the worries I had about burning through my VISA (sorry, dear!). Ladies sashayed through the door as Top 40 summer beats buzzed through the room. Natalie poured glass after glass of Union wine to the laughing, chatting moms. Catherine bounded from guest to guest, not missing anyone, her voice carrying through the rows of bright, neon clothes…it was like I had entered Social Common’s home and we were all old friends already.

I left that night with a big bag full of gorgeous clothes for my daughter, a credit card that didn’t know what hit it, a smile on my face and a few new friends, who I look forward to seeing at the next Social Common event. A totally gold-medal worthy night in my books, and a great way to usher my baby girl into the next chapter of her big-girl life (*SOB*).

I Am The Mama Mantra.

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Perhaps I should explain the title of this blog.

Being a new parent can be is scary. Like, petrifying. Full of shake-you-to-the-core-bone-rattling fear. Every twitch that baby makes, every sound, every cry, every random eye-flick (“did you see that? See how her left eye moved and her right didn’t?! Why did she do that??! Did she have a seizure? Is it a brain tumour???! HONEY? LOOK! She’s doing it again!!! Call 911!!”)…it’s all unchartered territory, and even if you’ve read every book and website in the world on parenting, once that baby is here, it’s a whole new world of anxiety.

Welcome to Crazy Town.

As the Mama, you go from having the life of a care-free, sociable, world-traveling, sex-having, booze-consuming, late-night-dancing, vivacious, effervescent woman with great hair and a great body…to this:

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Zombie Mom. Slave to the child. Tip-toeing on eggshells. Slinking around silently like a snake. But a petrified snake, who is afraid that at any moment your SCREAMING BABY WILL WAKE UP AND START SCREAMING AGAIN.

Gone are the days where your body belongs to you. Your boobs, once a hot commodity, perky and full and your husband’s favourite thing in the world, are now property of your teeny, tiny baby and look more like tube socks with a golf balls in the end *shudder*.

It’s very quickly that you feel the control you once had over everything slowly slipping away with the rest of your sanity, disappearing to the place where your skinny jeans, 8-inch stilettos and full-nights sleep have been banished, quite possibly forever.

You are a new Mama. And I’m sorry to say it, but honey, you’re not in Kansas anymore.

(Now, don’t get me wrong. My daughter? The one that screamed non-stop and terrified me for a good 6+ months, and still to this day can give me a good ol’ scare? I love her. Like, I need a new word to describe how deeply and emotionally I feel about her. There isn’t anything I would not do for that little baby. She is my light, my life, my everything. Not just my world, but my universe. So anything seemingly negative I say about new babies and how F***ING SCARY they are, please know that I actually LOVE babies. And I do take very good care of her, and now that she’s older we laugh and play and it’s all super good. Until she tries to crawl face-first down the stairs and tumbles and bashes her head against the hardwood, then it’s back to being F***ING SCARY again.)

So! Back to the title of this blog. I Am The Mama Mantra.

Although I found that everything about a new baby falls under one big umbrella of fear, there are day-to-day taxing events and little anxieties that need to be dealt with immediately. Changing a baby out of a onesie that has been saturated with explosive breast milk poop, for example. When it happens, especially mid-feed, you sit there thinking, “crap. Do I get up and change her NOW, or do I wait until she’s finished? I don’t want to disturb her otherwise she might not go back on. But if I don’t change her now will she break out in a rash???” As the Mama, you have to make an executive decision, whether it’s to wait it out, or break her off and do the change. Another example: you see your 10-month old, who has been playing quietly with her toys allowing you to peacefully sip away at your morning coffee, start crawling, slowly at first, towards the speaker next to the TV. The one thing in the living room she MUST know by now she’s not allowed to play with let alone touch. You lock eyes. She gives you a look that says, “yeah, mom. I’m going for it.” And like THAT, she’s off. Like a cheetah! In that split second you hear that voice say, “okay. I could lunge for her like I usually do and enforce my stern ‘NO’…or I could finish the last three gulps of this delicious coffee, let her *just touch* the speaker, then peel her away…” So what do you do? In that millisecond, which choice do you make? Thinking about it too long could lead to disasterous results (baby gets to speaker, baby pulls speaker on head, baby goes to hospital and requires a billion stitches leaving her horrible disfigured for life). But then again, jumping on your first instinct could make you feel guilty afterwards (“I should have just let her touch the speaker. I’m supposed to let her explore at this age. I say ‘no’ too much!”).

One such event occurred a month or two ago, and it was as simple as my daughter needing her nails clipped. My husband and I had put it off for so long that they had turned into long, glamorous old-lady nails. If we had painted them a deep red she could have been cast on Young & The Restless as Katherine Chancellor‘s sister. The problem is, as I’m sure is the case with any and every baby at that age, that she haaaaaaaaaates having her nails clipped. Hates it. Loathes it. You wrangle her hand away from her mouth, take one little piece and she looks at you like you’ve just snipped off her whole finger before throwing her head back and wailing to the Gods for mercy. That is, IF you can wrangle her hand. Good luck with that. But on this said day, I was at the end of my rope. Her beautiful face was scratched to high-heaven, my husbands nose looked like a turkey vulture had attacked it and my boobs resembled something that had come out of a meat grinder. It was clippin’ time. I sat her down on the living room floor, teeny tiny clippers in one hand, the other poised to grab her fingers as soon as she stopped trying to wiggle away, “any minute now….any second….she’ll calm down any…time…now…” Once she started to thrash and whine, I knew I had to take action. I had to just DO IT. “I AM THE MAMA, AND I AM GOING TO CUT YOUR DAMN NAILS, ” I heard that voice in my head declare! “I AM THE MAMAAAAAAAAA!!!”

I grasped one baby finger after another, snipping nail after nail in quick succession while she writhed about on the floor and screamed and screamed and screamed. All the while muttering calmly to myself, “I am the mama. I am the mama. I am the mama.” Sure, anyone walking into the room at that point would have thought I was a crazy person trying to steal the baby’s fingers for sale on the black market. But I couldn’t have cared less. I clipped those nails, dammit, and in record time. I felt proud of that, and it was all thanks to my new mantra.

Side bar: if you’re not a parent and don’t understand how it could be so difficult to cut a baby’s nails, read this hilarious and very accurate 22-step tutorial from one of my favourite blogs, Sweet Madeleine.

The point is, decisions have to be made. Whether it’s immediately, or shortly after immediately. And as the Mama, I am typically the one who has to make the call. I’m not knocking dads here. I could have called the blog “I Am The Parent Mantra”, but whatever. This is about my experiences, and my mantra. And hopefully, you’ll be able to take from these tales and come up with your own.

As a new parent though, it’s whatever works. And for me, “I Am The Mama” mantra is The Word.

Fun New Toy.

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This is my daughter.

Here she is acting out the age-old question, “when a baby has rooms full of toys, why do they choose the toilet?”

Just Jump.

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Hello,

My name is Beth, and this is a blog I have been meaning to start for quite some time.  But being a new mom, I was able to dig up excuse after excuse for putting it off:

“My daughter is colicky, I can’t put her down for one second or she’ll have a meltdown!”

“I have two thousand loads of laundry to do!”

“My husband is out of town for two days and I can’t leave the baby for one second because she is colicky!”

“I have to make dinner or we will all starve!”

“The sun is finally out so I have to go for a walk because my baby is colicky and will scream if she doesn’t get outside right NOW!”

“I have twelve thousand loads of laundry to do!”

“There is dust in that corner and I have to get rid of it NOW because my daughter is colicky and will have an epic fit if I don’t!”

“My colicky daughter is FINALLY sleeping so I have to drink this entire bottle of wine before she wakes up!”

Etc.

Things here are pretty much now under control – my daughter is almost 11-months old and although is still quite strong-willed and incredibly precocious at this age, has been colic-free for a while – so I decided to stop bashing myself over the head with excuses and just SIT DOWN AND WRITE, GODDAMMIT!

I used to write all the time.  I kept a blog as a creative expression for years, but stopped during a…tricky…time in my life. I started to feel lost in my mid-twenties, and to compensate, I guess, developed a deep wanderlust that kept me moving from country to country for years.  I was chasing something – a dream, a boy, a sense of belonging – my emotional outlets were all tapped out, and I just didn’t have room inside to write anymore.

The end result was a HUGE build-up of angst and uncertainty about my future, so upon my final return home in the winter of 2008, I sat down at the computer again and picked-up where I left off.  I returned to Blog Land, and was having a lot of fun with it.  But then one stormy, winter night, I met the love of my life, and married him in 2011.  Our new life got in the way, so this time though, it was the best possible distractions that kept me from writing.  I was loving myself again, having a grand ol’ time with my wonderful husband, then got pregnant and had our baby girl last year.  And all the while, at every new stage, which were coming like thunderbolts now, I kept hearing a voice in my head saying, “girl, you gotta start writing this shit DOWN!”

Which brings me back to the start of this post.  I became the QUEEN of the excuse.  Even though I desperately wanted to start writing again, there was always something, ANYTHING, keeping me from it.  But then, once I started talking about it, OUT LOUD, to friends and family, about how much I missed it and really wanted to start some sort of legacy for my daughter, I felt the excuses starting to fade away.  And yesterday, during a conversation with a dear, old friend, she told me to just shut up and start.

Just Jump.

So here I am.  Jumped.  And it feels pretty good.

I’m not sure where this blog will take me, I’m assuming down some sort of Mommy Blog road seeing as how that’s all I know these days!  Hopefully it’ll be entertaining, and that you’ll follow along with me.