My Confession: I Sometimes Lie to My Daughter

I confess…I lie more often than I want to, and it’s a bad habit.   Please don’t judge me. Let me explain. Growing up, I had a very superstitious upbringing (being Filipino).  I was fed stories of mermaids who could potentially grab and drown you if you stand too close to the river or monsters who ate only children.  A horror movie in the making? You BET, and there have been many made since then. #gottalovefilipinoroots  

As I grew older, I obviously saw the intent for these stories and swore to myself I would never use those tactics with my daughter.  In fact, I set myself a standard to NEVER lie to my kid. I envisioned my very logical-self being able to reason with whatever my daughter would challenge me with.  I swore to myself I would do this with the intent that my daughter would mature. I would use the same logical reasoning with my husband but with the patience of Mary Poppins.  And honestly, I did pretty damn well in the first 2 years of Everly’s life.   

THE EARLY NON-LYING STAGES

Everly was a smart and balanced little girl.  She learned sign language early, and by the time she was 6 months old, she communicated with us.  She was mellow andshe took “no” very well. Once she was a little over 1 year old, she was speaking.  By 2 years old, she could hold a full conversation. We would go to Disneyland and toy stores where she would ask for us to buy her things.  We would say no, and she would simply give them a hug and say ‘goodbye.’ If I asked her to eat something specific, and she originally refused, I was able to tell her WHY this was important, WHY she needed to eat it (logically), and she gave in.  Then, something happened. I remember it vividly…

We went on a family vacation to Orlando when Everly was 2.5 years old.  In the last few months prior, she had been playing with another 2 little girls at her school, which her teachers at the time warned me  they were negatively impacting her. They were a little bossier and one child was physical. That’s another story for another time, but it did change Everly. In addition to  that she was also turning into a threenager. She screamed, she didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It was a challenge, but we stuck to our guns. Sometimes we won, sometimes she was in time out for a long time, but we were getting worn down.

We took a red-eye flight to Orlando (our mistake, which we will never do again).  Everly didn’t sleep at all. We went to Disneyworld after we landed, hoping she would crash when she was tired, but instead, she was worse than a zombie.  She was a flesh-eating, shrieking zombie who needed what she wanted and needed it now. She needed to see a princess, and if there wasn’t one available…MELTDOWN CENTRAL.  The pepperoni on her pizza fell on her napkin…MELTDOWN. She wanted to eat, but she didn’t want to leave the room…MELTDOWN. This all happened before noon.  

She was clearly overtired.  It was a perfect storm of what she had been exposed to in the last few months, the development that she experienced going from baby to vocal toddler, and the fact that we all had NO sleep.  And then it happened…

THE LIE…

It was dinner time. We were staying in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, conveniently with animals outside our balcony.  She hadn’t had a proper meal all day. She was flipping out with the food that was on the table. She was screaming, pulling her clothes, yelling “NO,” and would just not eat.   We were frantic trying to keep her volume down not to bother other hotel guests who probably thought we were torturing our child. 

And I blurt out…”Everly, if you don’t eat and calm down the BEARS will hear you!”

And Justin, blurts out…”Yeah, and they’ll  EAT YOU.” (as I whispered, “too far, babe, babe, too far.)

And Everly’s response?  

She went completely silent. 

Looked at us with big, wide eyes with a slight feeling of concern. 

“Bears?”…she said.  

“Yes, Bears…” I said in a nervous tone.  

“Okay, then we better hurry.” Everly says, as she heads to the table, and complies, without a fight, without tears, and eats ALL her food.

We thought, what are we thinking?  Bears??!! WTF – How messed up are we?  But it worked… And we abused it. We’ve now taken it  to another level.

When she fights sleep or fights eating, or can’t self regulate herself, the bears knock on doors.To this day (a year later), she still complies.  She sometimes yells, “BEARS, DON’T COME, I’M EATING, okay?”

Do we feel like  horrible parents?  We totally did, and then I realized, YOU HAVE TO DO WHAT KEEPS YOU SANE AND YOUR CHILD HEALTHY. 

Logic doesn’t always work with a child. When time is limited, reason doesn’t always work, and I don’t have hours to let her figure things out. We use bears.  I stopped being critical of myself. I stopped letting judgment hit me on our methods. I don’t use it all the time. I use it when all else has fails and she’s at risk of impacting her health – eating, sleeping, self harm.  Sometimes you need to access your crazy imagination to help your kids.  

I think of the alternative.  I could let her not sleep (or pass out).  She will likely not pass out. She will be tired, cranky, upset.   I could let her skip dinner, wake up hungry with stomach pains. I could let her cry until she’s done.  I’ve tried this before (and she will outlast 45 mins). Her throat hurts and she’s upset.  

OR, I can tell her the bears are coming.  In the same way parents use Santa Clause, or the Easter Bunny.  I chose the mythical creature. One day, I will tell her the truth.  Until then, my child is rested, and happy and safe from the bears. Until the next time she decides she doesn’t want to listen.

Share this blog with someone who needs a reminder they’re not crazy…because there are crazier parents like us.  🙂

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Do You Have the Right Mom/Dad Tribe?

Oh, The ‘coveted’ Mom Tribe!  I never knew something I hadn’t heard about until I was in my 30’s was going to be so valuable in my experience as a mom.  What is a mom tribe (or what I’d like to call a parent tribe)?  A mom tribe is a valuable and irreplaceable group of moms (or dads) who will support you in every emotional crisis of being a mom.  This tribe is who you go to when your crying on the kitchen floor postpartum after losing it because your newborn won’t sleep. They remind you that you are not alone.  This is the tribe who you call when you’ve convinced yourself that you don’t know what you are doing because your toddler  has just lost her sh*t the whole day .  They remind you that you DO know what you’re doing.  It’s the tribe you call when work has taken over your life, and the ONE day you are home with your daughter, she tells you to “Go back to Colorado,” (Side note: We live in California, and I travel to Boulder for work).  The reminder you need to get it together because you’re a strong PARENT and what you’re doing is amazing.

You can see why this is such a coveted tribe.  Guess what else I learned? I suppose I never thought of the day that some of my friends would be having children too, and some won’t.  I also never knew that after having already evolved my group of friends from High School to College, and College to my adult life, that it would need to evolve again when I became a parent.  In the beginning, it was awkward and guilt-ridden. I was trying to balance becoming a parent (while also still trying to maintain a career), taking care of a child, staying married, staying employed (and valuable), and if there’s any time  left, spending it on me.

My weekdays are non-stop: School drop off, make the 7 am meeting, work through lunch, rush to pick up Everly, bring her to ballet, rush home to make dinner, clean up, put her to bed by 7:30 pm, finish whatever I was doing before, and CRASH at 9 pm.  FIVE DAYS OF THIS, and all I want to do on the weekend is sleep. Some friends understood this, and some friends didn’t. That’s okay. It did highlight the need for a tribe. If I wanted to keep sane and not turn into a complete hermit, I had to make some friends. This meant opening myself up to new people, or rekindling with others who maybe had kids before me…of course, in addition to gravitating towards some of my other friends who were in the same phase of life as me.   

I then realized, it was key to have the RIGHT people in your tribe.  Having the wrong tribe can just add more drama and can fuel your insecurities as a mom.  It took time for me to evolve the right balance of mom friends to create a tribe, and here are some tips I learned to ensure you have the right mom tribe.

1) Have a diverse tribe

  • It’s easy to find a mommy/daddy group, that meshes well, and does everything together.  If you have this rare unicorn, that’s great! But make sure this group can support you in the different problems you might encounter in each facet of parenthood:  Work, home, interfamily relationships, marriage, and aspirations! It’s important that you have someone in your tribe that you can go to for different things. No two moms are alike!

2) Have a Candid tribe

Being candid doesn’t mean your tribe can say ‘whatever’ they want, ‘whenever they want.’  It means that they will be honest with you, at the right time, in the right way. They don’t let issues “fester” and are honest with their relationship with you.  This makes for a lasting friendship.

3)  Have compatible parenting styles

I’m not suggesting you can’t be friends with all moms/dads.  But when it comes to your tribe, there is an importance in parenting style compatibility.  The time you have together has to be stress-free, and you have to be on the same page about how you may deal with your children (especially in public).  Let me give you an example. If you’re a parent who emphasizes the importance of independence – allowing your child to explore, fall on their own, etc.. – it can be very stressful for another parent who doesn’t agree with those methods to have their child(ren) interact with yours while they see “Bobby’s mom act differently.”  It might be a small difference reading it in a blog, but I have seen this first-hand cause stress among the kids and their parents.  

4) Have a drama-free tribe

If you find yourself stressed out about what your tribe is going to say to you or behind your back, that’s a red flag.  A true tribe should be your getaway. An opportunity to let go, be yourself and simply exhale. If you find yourself juggling gossip between your tribe friends  instead of healthy venting, and you’re hearing a lot of complaining, then find another tribe. That environment can be toxic and contagious. Enough said on this one…

5) Have a tribe that supports you, not enables you

A strong tribe means strong women (or men), which means there is also some healthy tough love.  As much as your tribe should be there to listen to your struggles as a parent, they should be there to help you through it, not just enable it.  If they feed into your negative thoughts and consistently validate them – no matter how good it feels in the short term, it’s not healthy. You want to be understood and empathized with, but your tribe should also be willing to help see you through victory in these situations.  They don’t just show up to hear the drama, they show up to help you through it in a positive way. They are the ones who show up to play dates, not just to take advantage of some playtime outside their home, but also help clean up! They are the ones who listen to your struggles but are also the first ones, yoga pants and all, to pour you a glass of wine and help you figure out what you’re going to do next.

I always heard that “It takes a village to raise a child.”  They weren’t kidding and it also takes a village to keep you sane as a mother.  I’m grateful for the tribe I have, and all the wonderful things they have taught me.  Bonds from your tribe cannot be broken, no matter how often or infrequent you actually see each other.  Cheers to all your rockstar parents, supporting other parents.

If you’re thankful for your tribe, tag them, and share this post with them.  Thank them for keeping you sane.

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How Buying Dresses Taught My Daughter Independence

Meet Everly.  The star of the show (and my life) and the “owner” (kind of) of the Oh, Everly! Boutique.  Everly is a force to be reckoned with, as are most 3-year-olds, and at an early stage of her toddler-hood developed some strong preferences for ‘fashion.’

Let me preface this story first, by explaining to you, that as I grew up, I considered myself anti-dress and anti-pink. I wasn’t necessarily in the bucket of tom-boy, but I was a jock. I spent most of my ‘free-time’ (even after college until I had Everly) playing sports. My favorite color was green. I was critical of the idea of princesses because I was an ultra-feminist and hated the depiction of helpless women who needed someone else to save them.

That’s why it’s all too fitting that I was…blessed… with a little girl who is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of me.

Even with limited access to TV and all my attempts to influence my child, she became a ‘princess-obsessed,’ ‘crown-wearing,’ pink-wardrobe loving girl. If there was a loud costume, she was going to wear it. There was nothing I was going to be able to do to change her mind.  If that’s not proof of nature overcoming nurture, I don’t know what is.

In fact, she prefers to only wear dresses…EVERY DAY.  She will only entertain shorts or pants if I can somehow reference a princess who wears the same things.  Heaven forbid I try to bring up Dora the Explorer and her shorts and shirts outfit, where I am starkly reminded that she is NOT a princess.  Dressing up Everly used to go like this:

Me: (Pulling out shorts/tights and a shirt for school)

Everly: (Freak out at immediate sight) What???!!!! Mom, no, please, no!!!!  (hysterically crying…like the kind of crying you would hear if someone’s first born child was being taken away.)

Me: Evelry, this is cute!  …(Finding other ways to convince her)…Princess X wears it.  You’re dresses are dirty. You’re going to get them dirty because you play in the dirt!

Everly: (Still hysterically crying while mumbling)…I NEED to wear this cat dress with the sparkles on them.  I NEED to mom…

15 Minutes of this back and forth happened almost EVERY day I didn’t have a dress ready for her to wear.  Sometimes she won, sometimes I won. But it was painful.  

Justin and I decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.  It took me letting go of what I thought she had to wear or how she would ‘look’ at school or in public.  (There’s, of course, a line there.) We decided that if our daughter felt so passionate about wearing specific things, and doing so wouldn’t hurt her, why stop her?

What do we do now?

We now go shopping with her regularly, where she picks out (you guessed it) A LOT OF DRESSES.  We now hang them on the bottom rack of her closet. And guess what happened? MAGIC…

The next day, Everly woke up, and she independently picked out a dress (one of many which we approve for school) and dressed herself.  She picked out a pair of shoes – HAPPY AS A CLAM, and walked into our bedroom to wake us up and happily tell us she’s dressed. The look on her face for this routine is full of pride, and I can see she FEELS good in what she’s wearing.  

She does this almost EVERY morning.  

Letting go of what I thought she had to wear made a world of difference in our lives:

  1. It taught and encouraged my daughter to develop her own independence.  
  2. She is HAPPY!
  3. We start the day off with minimal arguments
  4. She’s got space to develop “herself” in a safe environment
  5. We get occasional cameos of Princess Elsa and Princess Belle at grocery stores. Well…because princess costumes are for special occasions, like the weekend
  6. She’s developed a fashion sense.  While sometimes it’s a bit wild, I think she’s found her toddler calling.

Sometimes kids need to spread their wings. And sometimes when we let them, they surprise us how high they can really fly.

Share this story if you’ve got a son or daughter with a strong sense of fashion…

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What I Learned Day 3 About Writing a Mom Blog

OH, Everly… is what I think as all these stories of embarrassment, triumph, and humor rush through my head.  After writing my first blog post – EVER – I learned quite a few things about myself. If you have already read the <meet us> post, you know I was hoping to share our story through our journey to find a semblance of sanity in a messy life that includes work and being a parent.  I had always dreamt about writing a book to share my experience to anyone willing to read, but year after year, I left “writing something” an unchecked item on my list of New Year’s Resolutions(among many other things). I gave myself plenty of excuses: There’s not a lot of time.  It will just impact the time I spend with Everly and Justin. How would I even start? No one would read it anyways. I’m a bad writer. I have so much to talk about and nothing to talk about all at the same time.

Lately, something felt different.  I started feeling a wisp of inspiration around me – from my family and friends, and my daughter.  As Everly grows into a little girl, I realized there are so many stories I wish I would have documented and so many that I should in the future.  I began to realize that she was freakin’ hilarious, and that was enough to share and write about so my family and I can hold on to it in the future.  I decided to stop thinking, start writing, and start up a WordPress blog. I sat down with a glass of wine (of course), and started to free-write. Day 3 of this journey, and this is what I learned: 

  1. Writing was therapy I didn’t know I needed – It forced me to really think through my thoughts, my experiences, and see how they impacted me and the mark I want to make with others.  It was the self assessment I never have time to do, but is so crucial to my mental health.
  2. I do have time – Because writing even just 2 posts purged my soul and my mind, I found it has given me time back.  It gives me an opportunity to let things out so I can be more present in the future. It’s almost as if I was trying to read multiple books at once because my mind was processing all things – about my day, about my performance, and what I did or didn’t do, and about what I wanted to say.  It has forced me to dedicate 30 mins a day to release what’s on my mind, which clears my mind to maximize my time with my family
  3. It forced me to embrace the mom I’ve been thus far (even more so than I have before) – I get to look back and think, reassess what I did wrong, celebrate what I did right, and help me remember I am a good enough mom.  Perfection is overrated! Writing forced me to look back at all I’ve accomplished as a mom, despite the obstacles of mom guilt and working, and it puts it all in perspective for me.  

So moms and dads – find your therapy. You are an important piece to your family. What will be (is your therapy)?

Share or like if writing has been therapeutic for you.

Or comment below with things that you find therapeutic or something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t.

I’d love to hear!

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Our First Blog: Oh, Everly!

“Someday when the pages of my life end, I know that you will be one of the most beautiful chapters.”

-Unknown

“Oh, Everly…” A phrase I catch my self saying quite often these days, for many reasons. One, because my now 3-year old daughter seems to do/say/shout/yell the most ridiculous things (that are times, quite jolting! – more on that in later blogs). Two, it’s a TIRED response to these ridiculous things, because yes, I AM EXHAUSTED, and 3-year-old(s) (mine, in particular) wear me down, and three, it’s (hopefully) a sign of me ‘letting things go.’

You see, prior to “Oh, Everly…” responses, I picture myself getting flustered, frustrated, upset, or something in between over things that don’t matter… Like Everly breaking her toy, spilling her dinner, or (in most cases) walking out of her room dressed as an “alien-looking princess” with an outfit that could set off a car alarm it’s so loud. I learned to let these go. I learned to re-define what it means to “have everything,” and it meant I had to change what having everything looked like.

I realized that life is a fixed-pie. Having everything doesn’t necessarily mean that you have ALL of everything (because that’s crazy for MOST people), but it’s understanding your happy place, your balance, regardless of what you might have pictured before or what others might pictured for you.

For me, I thought having everything was getting to the top of the corporate ladder, having a wildly passionate, crazy amazing marriage, while being a saintly-patient mom who gave my daughter undivided attention when I wasn’t working. We would have cute little tea-time together as she politely asks me if I want tea. Because, guess what? That’s what I saw on TV. That’s what I see on social media. Talk about pressure. In reality, my work seeped into my marriage, which then seeped into quality time with my daughter, which meant there was no separation. That needed to change.

What does this look like for me now? BALANCE IN TIME. I found perspective. I changed my vision of what success meant. Success was not being a minority woman at the top of a billion-dollar company (although I would still 100% welcome that), but being a happy, healthy woman who is fulfilled by the positive impact I’ve made for my company (altruistically) and my family. It’s being happy about my personal development as an HUMAN, and not just as an employee. Knowing that life is messy, and work seeps into personal life, I’ve learned to embrace the ‘messy,’ and found a way to still enjoy things.

Over the last couple of years, I am happy to say I found some balance, even though I haven’t found more time. I’ve learned to enjoy my family more, without sacrificing my career/impact. So much so, that I found time to start this blog, boutique, inspired by my life as Everly’s mom.

SO, WHAT IS THE OH, EVERLY! BOUTIQUE?

As a “toast” to our new life of balance, Everly and I bring this online lifestyle to you, sharing our stories (in my eyes) in addition to some Everly-curated dresses that can be purchased in our Oh, Everly! boutique. In my embrace of the messy, of life, work, mommy-ing, I thought, why not share our story, find a way for Everly and I to share our love for shopping and fashion, and give back.

This is why we decided to launch “OH, Everly!” – the Boutique. Every 2 weeks (or so), Everly will pick out 5-6 of her favorite styles to share with you to purchase, to love, to whatever! We will play photo shoot and hold fashion parties with friends – sharing this experience with you. 10% off all the profits will go to a Children’s Charity of the month which we will have our fans, family, and friends vote for every month.

Check these out at www.oheverly.com – WILL BE LAUNCHED SOON!

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Meet Us

Being a working woman is hard…being a working mom is harder. Finding balance can be impossible.

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