Ask-me-anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner: first edition

Welcome to the first edition of A Lady Goes West Advice Corner! This is something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a while and am happy to be bringing it to you.

Let’s begin this with a disclaimer: I’m no more qualified to give advice on any subject than anyone else. But I know that sometimes it feels good to have a neutral third-party weigh in on the things going on in your life. That’s what this is about. I’m here, I’m neutral, and I want to help!

Now to the advice …

Ask-Me-Anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner: first edition

Ask-Me-Anything A Lady Goes West Advice Corner_ first edition by A Lady Goes West

The following are totally anonymous questions that you’ve submitted, and I’m providing my thoughts and advice. I received some amazing questions, and because I plan to post this series regularly, not all have been included. If you have a question that you’d like advice on in the next advice corner, please submit it here.

MOTHERHOOD

Question: “I became a first-time mom last spring and am currently dealing with all things motherhood. I’m having trouble with the adjustment. How do I deal with my expectations vs. reality of being a mom?”

Answer: I feel this question to my core. Here’s the deal: Being a mom is absolutely wonderful, but absolutely hard too, mixed in with the moments that are truly magical. And that first year is the toughest, if you ask me.

People are starting to talk more and more about how hard it is to be a mom, but nothing quite prepares you for what it actually feels like (even just to have one, so I can’t imagine what it feels like to have multiple). Just last week, I had this exact conversation with two other moms of toddlers, because it was on their minds too. It’s real.

To be totally honest: I had a very tough time the first year of Brady’s life dealing with the fact that my life was no longer about me, but it was about someone else. And that may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. Because Brady didn’t sleep well the first year, Dave was always working, and we didn’t have any nearby family, I felt very alone and overwhelmed with caring for a baby, while also trying to work and do all the other things I wanted and needed to do. I never had a minute to myself and all of my time was spent caring for Brady. I waited a long time to be a mom and was truly grateful, but the harsh reality of the everyday monotony left me frazzled. I appreciated Brady and loved him more than anything, but I felt those mixed feelings. Please know that this is very normal. It gets better!

Ashley and Brady by A Lady Goes West February 2021

I’ve only been a mom for a little over three years, and I only have one child, and I care for him every day (unless he’s in school, which he currently isn’t), so perhaps I don’t have it all figured out and don’t truly know the experience of other moms who have different situations. But here’s what I do know: Your little one loves and needs you more than anyone else in the world. And all the time and attention you give to them is so valuable and special to them — no matter how much you are able to give. But it’s not glamorous — it’s tiring, it’s exhausting. And things with kids continue to change, and you’ll find that some things get easier as your baby gets older, but then new things pop up that prove to be difficult (like potty training). I continue to like the toddler years more than the baby years. Sometimes I feel like Brady is my little bestie and we have a blast, but other times I want to hide in my closet from him. 

Even though things are hard with a small human in your care, I know that I’d rather take on the challenge and have Brady in my life than to not have chosen to be a mom. He melts my heart over and over again each day, even if sometimes I wish I could just go do what I want to do all by myself.

The problem here is that because of movies and social media, we think that once we have a child, we’ll be filled with some much joy about how cute and sweet they are that everything will seem amazing all the time. And yes, there is a LOT of joy. But the daily logistics of caring for a small human who needs help with everything can weigh on you. That’s reality, it’s not expected.

I would recommend trying to find at least a few quiet minutes to yourself each day to do something that makes you feel like you — outside of going to work, of course. (You may have to ask someone to jump in to assist in order to make this happen, so don’t be afraid to ask.) A solo walk. Yoga. Reading. Gardening. Something you can do that is what YOU want to do, not what you need to do, and sometimes that can bring you back to where you want to be. Usually you don’t need much time to get back to yourself, and then you’re much more ready to approach all the momming. Personally, if I don’t have a minute to myself, I go crazy — and without any childcare in the last couple of months because of our move, I’ve felt this feeling quite a bit.

There are many special moments during every single day of being a mom, and I hope you are enjoying the giggles and smiles that money can’t buy — those things are priceless. But know that you are doing a tough job, and it’s one that you aren’t even getting paid for or recognized for — so if it feels thankless to you — I’m pretty sure most of us mommas can relate. Chat with friends about how you feel regularly. Find a way to get even little pockets of time just for you. Remember that these early years are short in the grand scheme of things. And other than that … there’s always wine. 🙂 

The bottom line: Know that it’s totally okay and normal to feel the way you do. And also know that talking about the hard parts does not make you less grateful or a bad mom, and anyone who makes you feel that way is not worth talking to. 

Here are other blog posts you may like:

BODY IMAGE

Question: “How do you deal with days when you don’t love your body? I think we can all relate to looking in the mirror and being disappointed with what we see, and more often than not, we focus on our less-than-perfect areas. I don’t want to look back years from now and realize my body was actually great and I was way too critical of myself.”

Answer: This question is good. And what I like the best about it is that you’re almost answering your own question in knowing that you will look back one day and think you actually looked amazing and wish you had known it. Here’s the truth: We are always our own worst critics, and we always notice things about ourselves that no one else would notice or ever considering critiquing.

I have bad-body-image days ALL THE TIME, especially as my body composition has changed in the last year after cutting my workout intensity basically in half once I stopped teaching live in-person classes several times a week. You know what I do on days when I look in the mirror and feel like I don’t look how I want to look? I think about all the things I can do. I feel the best about my body after teaching a virtual class or after a workout, because I can focus on how I feel and perform. I feel good in my body when I pick up Brady and carry heavy groceries upstairs, because I know I’m strong. I also feel good about my body when I drink a lot of water, sleep well and take care of myself — so I feel healthy from the inside out. But I do get these bad-body-image days too and everyone does.

A Lady Goes West Advice Corner by A Lady Goes West February 2021

Here’s what I would suggest:

If you are trying to fit into clothes that have gotten a little snug from any sort of body change, I would recommend putting those snug clothes in the back of your closet and buying some new stuff that fits better.

I would also recommend taking a moment every day to look in the mirror and tell yourself a few real compliments out loud. (Make sure you’re standing up straight, with your shoulders back and eyes forward, of course.) There’s power in positive speak, because it gets your brain thinking positively. Just as you would boost another friend up who needs it, do that to yourself. You deserve it.

Think about all the wonderful things about you that go far beyond appearance. Once again, from the inside out, this is where our value is. And when we focus more on all of the good that we have, it gives us less time to fixate on the maybe-not-as-good. 

And definitely move your body regularly, because endorphins are a real thing.

Without knowing you, the fact that you wrote this question lets me know that you have a hunch that you are probably a whole lot more amazing and beautiful than you are giving yourself credit for. Credit is due!

The bottom line: We all feel this way sometimes, and the best way to deal with it is to speak more positively to yourself, take care of your mental and physical health from the inside first (which will help you feel healthy on the outside), and always treat yourself as kindly as you would treat a friend. And read the question below, which is related.

Here are other blog posts you may like:

COMPARISON ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Question: “How do you deal with comparing yourself to others on social media and not feeling like everyone is doing things better than you?”

Answer: I think I have a leg up here that I would like to report on, because over the years of being in the blogging community, I’ve been able to interact with some very large influencers who tend to inspire comparison. I am not one of them, at all. But I’ve had the chance to spend time with them in person. And many of these women have the most beautiful and enviable feeds and pictures, and they often have nearly perfect bodies, and yet when you get to know them … boy, do they have issues (just like the rest of us and sometimes even more). Clearly, I’m not naming any names here. But I’ve seen it first-hand, and I feel the responsibility to mention it.

It’s the human condition to look around and assume that everyone else is doing better than you. But every single person is dealing with things in the background that are tough, that make them sad, and they are also thinking that others are doing better than they are. It’s very important to remember that we only see a PORTION of someone’s life on social media, and we only see what they want us to see. We can never forget that.

A Lady Goes West Advice Corner first edition by A Lady Goes West February 2021

What you are seeing in front of you in your everyday life is your reality, and you’re in it. So you see it through a different (and oftentimes, more negative) lens. It’s very easy to put on our rose-colored glasses when we watch Instagram stories or see Facebook posts from other people who look like they have it all together. But this is never the full picture. 

For instance, me. I try to tell you guys about my hard times (which have been a lot lately in the last few months with the loss of a parent, a cross-country move and some other nagging issues that are not fun). However, this isn’t everything I post. Sometimes I keep it super light, in the midst of stress. And by the way, I will likely never mention some of my hardships, because I don’t want to. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Once again, what I share is just a portion of me and my life. And that’s why we have to recognize that we are so close to our own situations, where we are seeing it all, that we forget what we are seeing of others is just a segment. 

When you start to feel “less than” from social media, I encourage you to use the same positive self-talk that I referenced in the last question. What’s good about your life? What are you proud of? What makes you happy on a daily basis? Start saying those things out loud and truly appreciating them. I bet there are a ton of things that you love that you are overlooking, as you see some pretty influencer eating kale in her big white kitchen with a crop top exposing her visible abs. Am I right? 🙂 

Here’s what I would suggest:

I would recommend giving yourself some major social media boundaries. If you are following someone who makes you feel bad, unfollow them.

If you are spending too much time on your phone, turn it on airplane and leave it in the kitchen at night when you go to bed, so you aren’t tempted to scroll as soon as you wake up. Separate yourself from what you’re seeing and realize that it’s not reality.

Spend more time living in your imperfect life instead of wishing you had the imperfect life of someone else who is also comparing themselves to others. And this is advice I’ve taken on as well. 

If you have things that you truly want to improve about your own situation that are weighing you down, make the decision to take a tiny step in the right direction toward change every day, and see where that gets you in a few months.

You can do it! 

The bottom line: It’s very natural to compare yourselves to others. But social media is only a highlight reel and doesn’t give us the full picture of what other people are dealing with. Give yourself some social media boundaries, and spend time being grateful for what’s right in front of your face and not on the screen.

Here are other blog posts you may like:

And that concludes our first edition of the advice corner! 

Ashley and Brady on the couch by A Lady Goes West February 2021

How to get your question answered in the next advice corner

If you want some help with something you’re thinking of or dealing with for our next advice corner, please submit your question here. I’m not collecting your email or name, so you will be totally anonymous. Thank you so much for contributing!

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day

How are you feeling about life right now?

What’s on your mind?

When you need help, who do you usually go to?

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14 Comments

  1. Thank you for this post. I’m looking forward to future posts just like this one!
    To be totally honest, I had tears in my eyes reading some of it because it was so triggering to me. I have major body image issues and I also am constantly comparing my life to others. I feel very behind on several fronts and my recent birthday has sparked a lot of feelings on this. I really appreciate that you are such a bright spot on social media and you have a great balance of keeping things light and positive while also giving your followers a glimpse into some raw and real moments. Thank you for that.
    Xoxo.

    1. Hi Courtney! Thank YOU for being real and honest with me! I’m glad you got something out of this, and I will keep them coming. As far as your life, I know you have some amazing things going for you that you are good at being grateful for — it’s hard not to let the things you want overshadow the good, but keep at it. There’s no real timeline for anything in life, so you are NOT behind on anything, my friend — you are making your own way, and I pray for some even more good things coming your way soon. 🙂 xoxo

      1. I really appreciate that, Ashley. Yes, I keep my gratitude and manifestation journal close by at all times and I write in it daily. I know it is important to stay focused on the good, but sometimes I have these waves of sadness that I have to make my way through.

        PS. It’s fun having you in the same time zone now because you respond so quickly, hehe.

        Xoxo

  2. I think this is such a great series! I literally learned something from each question asked, so I think it is awesome you’ve created this space where people can maybe get a different perspective on certain things, and also learn from each other. Loved loved loved this post!

  3. Your advice is awesome – especially for new Moms! I have a toddler a few months older than Brady, and totally agree. It gets WAY better, but can still be REALLY hard.

    Looking forward to your new series!

  4. I’m just getting a chance to catch up on reading some posts and wow was this awesome! I love the idea behind this series and I also love the advice you gave! Definitely a post I’ll bookmark and come back to as needed. Sometimes the best therapy is just knowing others share in your struggles and being able to open up and talk about it. Thank you!

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