Mommy & Me Yoga

I can’t believe the summer is [basically] over! We got to do a lot of fun and interesting things, and I must say — our first summer with Maggie was a success. From hanging out at the beach on Plum Island, to vacationing with family in Myrtle Beach and on the Cape, to play group meetings and trips to Long Island and Vermont — we tried to give Maggie a taste of fun summer “musts”, and we fit in as much as possible. So that’s why we’ve been kind of MIA lately. Too much summer fun to be had. ;)

I hope you all also had a fabulous, safe summer!

Now as fall is knocking on our door, I’m finding myself slip slowly back into a more scheduled daily routine — and I must say, I don’t hate it. Yes I will soon miss the warm weather and my flip flops, but even without going back to school myself (or having a child go back to school) there is just something about September that makes you want to go on a shopping spree at Staples, and be productive (or just write a bunch of things on post-its). So here’s hoping September allows me to write more on here while balancing the other pieces of my life puzzle.

One fall activity I hope to keep on our schedule is Mommy and Me Yoga at Maternal Health and Wellness in North Andover.

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We went on Monday for the first time and loved it! We ended up seeing two of my friends from our play group and their babies, and then there was one other mama and her baby in the class. It was a small, intimate group which was great — the instructor (who was friendly, easy to listen to/take direction from, and knew her stuff) was able to keep an eye on our little ones as we got into our poses or at times when we had our eyes shut.

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Maggie seemed to really enjoy it! She was chatting and growling (her new favorite thing) the whole time.  Mags isn’t crawling yet, but she definitely doesn’t want to sit still, so she wasn’t necessarily doing all the yoga moves — and neither were all of the other babies — which is totally acceptable in this class. I’d sit Maggie down and give her a toy to play with, or face her towards the mirror so she can admire herself (another one of her favorite things to do — “you’re so vain…you probably think this post is about you…”), or she would just be looking from one person to the next watching our movements. It was a forty-five minute class and I felt it was the perfect amount of time for both babies and mamas.

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Here is a bit more from Maternal Health and Wellness’ website:

“This class is designed for moms with babies 6 weeks through 9 months.  Inspired by yoga flow, this class incorporates movement and breath designed to increase flexibility, regain strength and encourage overall physical and mental balance during the postnatal period. Postures target both mom and baby, individually and together.  We provide a flexible class structure for the feeding and comfort of both you and your baby.”

This class is every Monday from 11:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at 16 High Street, Suite 201 North Andover. Hope to see you soon!

*FIRST CLASS IS FREE*

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Reconnecting with yourself after baby

this is the part whereWhen you’re pregnant, you know things are going to be different after your little one arrives. This is a weird feeling. You vaguely understand the concept, but will never completely grasp it until you are in the thick of things. The realization of it comes in different stages; I was first in the bubble of the hospital with my midwife, nurses, husband, and Maggie 24/7. Next, we moved to the bubble of our home [where we mostly stayed for a month or so because it was February and really cold]. Colin and I stayed with Maggie in our home bubble together for one week before he had to go back to work, and then my mother came for a week or two [I forget…it is lost in the fog of newborn life] to be with Maggie and I when Colin was working.

People came by, visited on the weekends, brought us food, cooked us dinners, did laundry, doted on me, told me to “sit with the baby” — life was great! I truly felt celebrated as a new mother, and Maggie was not short on attention or affection. I have been lucky enough to stay home with Maggie for these six months; both something I personally wanted and actually made most sense for us [when you compare what I was making to the cost of childcare]. I thank Colin for giving me this opportunity; it’s not always easy financially, but we are making it work for now.

When all the doting and celebrating stopped, I slowly felt things change a bit. The world, and life in general was on pause for a few months…now the world is spinning again. Yes people definitely do still check in, come visit here and there, and gush over Maggie — but life has gone on for everyone. Maggie was born, there was a celebration period, and now it’s back to business.

We’re six months out, and I am here thinking…who am I? What do I want to do professionally? Do I want more? Crave more? Is that okay?

It’s a tough subject to think about when you are pregnant — or was for me — but you will need to rediscover, re-prioritize, and reconnect with yourself after baby. Not to mention, finding your new groove as a couple after baby is also work that will need to be done. Things change, priorities change, plans change. You thought “sure, it’d be easy to go to the wedding — we will put Maggie down, and then dance the night away!” until the phase of your baby not wanting to go to sleep kicks in. Or, “yes we can meet you at 12, that’s fine!” but your baby needs to eat, then falls asleep and you don’t want to wake her up by putting her in her car seat so you let her sleep which means you are late. “I’d love to go to yoga and grab a drink after!” – you made it through yoga, but need to run home after because your little one is hysterical and needs her mama. You make to-do lists miles long, and some days don’t even get one thing crossed off.

You will understand how much you can love someone. Again, this is something you know before the baby comes, but you don’t fully get until he or she is here in your arms — a real little person. This love is powerful; it feels like your heart is weighed down because there is so much love in there — that your heart could burst. Sometimes this love makes you feel like the happiest person in the world, and sometimes it feels like the world is on your shoulders. It’s confusing, terrifying, and awesome in every sense of the word.

Your mind will come around and will be able to process and think about things other than dirty diapers, bath time, and swaddling. Until it does, it is worth it to say — don’t feel guilty about the bubble you create when you have a newborn. I personally think it is necessary for mom and dad to bond with baby this way; and for me, [and I think I can speak for my husband Colin on this] it was blissful. Sure I felt some pressure to attempt to keep the house clean or get some laundry done, [although like I said I did have help from Colin, my mother, and others — it takes a village, don’t be afraid to use it] but I prioritized the importance of getting to know my baby and slowing things down.

I think Colin and I found a pretty good balance of time for ourselves with Maggie, and time with others to introduce them to Maggie. It was important for both, as we were thrilled for our loved ones to meet her! Most importantly, you have to do what is right and works best for your family no matter what. You will know what that is when baby arrives. Trust yourself and don’t feel guilty [easier said that done]. It should be a law not to make new parents feel guilty in any way, shape, or form.

When your mind does come around, be prepared for a lot of confusion. Maybe you have been here before. This is where I find myself these days. I’ve had a lot of labels in life; “Michelle and Kevin’s daughter”, “A Mescall”, “Meg’s/Big Pat’s little sister”, “Kelly/Molly’s older sister”, “Colin’s girlfriend/wife”, “Student”, “Teacher”, and most recently “Maggie’s Mom”, “New Mom”. What about “Colleen Temple, twenty-eight year old woman”? Who the heck am I these days aside from a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend? What do I enjoy doing when I am alone? If I had a few hours by myself, what would I want to do?

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently.

I love being a stay at home mother.

But, I also love writing and dedicating time to writing.

Guilt.

I love spending so much time with Maggie.

But, I also love time to myself.

Guilt.

When Maggie goes to sleep, I love getting one-on-one time with Colin.

But, I also love putting time into my passions and hobbies.

Guilt.

Why all the guilt? Well I think in our society sometimes it seems like you have to choose — are you going to be a dedicated stay at home mother, or are you going to work? For me it has taken me time to decide, and I am still deciding. What’s nice about today’s day and age is that there are lots of part-time work options, and work from home options. I am currently taking advantage of both as of late, and I think this is where my path will continue. Working from home, and/or part-time work options seem to speak to me most.

I am currently not ready to find someone I don’t know to hire and pay to watch Maggie. I’m not sure when I will be ready for that, or when Colin will be ready but we aren’t pressuring ourselves. Unfortunately, neither of our parents live nearby [mine are in New York, and Colin’s are in Vermont], but fortunately I have two sisters locally and Colin has one sister locally. We have taken advantage of these lovely ladies here and there to go out to dinner, to go see a movie, or just to run an errand. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities. For me, I usually feel guilty leaving Maggie, but then am okay once I get to my destination.

This is all part of the process. It’s another phase I am in as a mother, which is currently the biggest part of my identity. I don’t know a lot of things, but what I do know is I love Maggie, I love spending time with her, I love writing, I want to write, I need to work out for my health, I need time to myself, and I need time with my husband. I want Maggie to grow up with an understanding that dedicating time to strengthen your marriage is necessary and important, that family time is crucial, that challenging yourself — your mind, body, and spirit — will make you a stronger, happier person.

Recent steps I have taken in rediscovering and reconnecting with myself:

  • Revamping my blog, and writing more [I am currently at a coffee shop writing this post while Maggie is at my sister Megan’s hanging with her and the boys. Thanks, Meg!] thank you meg
  • Dabbling in a bit of freelance work
  • Reading a book for pleasure
  • I went to a yoga class last night, and it felt great — I want to challenge myself to keep going
  • Spending time thinking about my goals; setting new ones, and tweaking old ones. I have big dreams — small goals and steps are necessary to accomplish the big things.

Having a baby is life changing in the best way, of course. But it can be scary, lonely, and heavy at times. I love being a mother, and I know Colin loves being a father. We are so happy in many different ways. But it is also okay to take off the “mom” or “dad” hat sometimes and enjoy things you want to do as a couple.

Similarly, I’m realizing that it is okay to take off both the “mom” and “wife” hats and just go au naturel as Colleen, as me. Being a wife and mother is and always will be priority number one for me, but I know I need to give myself time to grow as a person in order to be a good wife and mother — a happy wife and mother. When the mama is happy, the family is happy, amiright?

Happy Mother’s Day!

Last Mother’s Day I interviewed my mom and this year I got to interview my mom as well as my sister Meg who is going to have a son come August, so this is technically her first mother’s day! My mother is amazing – she has raised five wonderful (if I do say so myself) children and now as I’ve grown older, we’ve become very good friends. I am so blessed with what a wonderful relationship we have. Same thing with Meg; I have admired and looked up to my big sister my whole life. She has been there for everything, and vice versa. Now I cannot wait to be here for the birth of her son – to spend time with him, watch him grow, be the favorite aunt (hehe, sorry Kell and Moll!), etc. Just likeour mother, she is going to be absolutely amazing.
Here we go…
CM: Let’s start with you mom – not only are you the world’s best mother, but now you’re going to be the world’s best grandmother! How does it feel?
MM: It’s a dream come true. I’m so happy I could burst

- The baby is kicking right now as we’re doing the interview! -

CM: Meg, what does it mean for you to become a mother?

MO: It’s a very special time in my life and it’s filled with great joy and anticipation to meet my son!

CM: Are you excited to be having a boy?

MO: I am, I’m very excited. I’ve seen that boys have a very special connection with their mothers from my work at Bellesini.

CM: Mom, do you think Meg’s son is going to be just like Patrick (our bother)?

MM: Ooh goodness!

CM: Mom, what do you want your future grandson to call you?

MM: Nanny O’Shell

CM: And how did you come up with that?

MM: Because Emma Nora (our cousin) calls me O’Shell, so I will now be known as Nanny O’Shell!

CM: What are you most excited about Meg?

MO: I’m looking most forward to meeting my son and finding out what he’s like and seeing his personality. :)

(Right after, Meg said: “I wish we had chocolate ice cream and peanut butter sauce”…After we just finished eating Harrison’s roast beef and mozzarella sticks! Oh preggo…)

CM: Megan, lets be real…are you nervous about giving birth?

MO: I am nervous, but I have confidence that if our mother can do it five times I can do it! {laughs}

CM: Have you been having specific cravings?

MO: ICE CREAM

CM: Mom, what advice can you give Meg for her newborn?

MM: Don’t panic and trust your instincts. And say your prayers. Teach him to have a strong faith.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I hope you have a wonderful day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

My Mother has given birth to five children. She has raised us to look out for our siblings – to take care of each another, to have a strong sense of faith and values, to show compassion and kindness to others, to be thoughtful and generous, to help those in need, and to use the gifts we were blessed with. She has shown us how important all of this is by example; this is how our mother lives her life everyday.

I had some questions on motherhood and I thought an interview for Mother’s Day would be fun :)

My beautiful Mother

CM: What’s your favorite memory of your mother?

MM: When I was 13 my mother knew how much I wanted to see these singers (Andy Williams nephews – they were twins), so she let me leave school early and took me to EJ Korvettes  to see the show. I thought that was the greatest thing, we got there early and everything. It was so exciting!

She also always came on my school trips. We went to West Point when I was in 4th grade and everyone wanted to be in her group because she was the most fun! I remember that my mother was so nice to this other mother whose daughter (my classmate) was sick. This trip was going to be the girls last school trip, everyone knew this was her last year of school. The other mothers were so nervous around her, but not my mother! She was chatting with them and hanging out with them the whole time, making sure they felt included. That’s the type of person she was.

CM: Did you always know you wanted to have children?

MM: Yes

CM: Did you always know you wanted to have a lot?

MM: Yes!

CM: Ever consider having more than 5?

MM: Yes!

CM: Describe being pregnant for the first time (at only 23!)

MM: I knew that I was pregnant right away, it was only days. I just felt different right away. I knew something miraculous had happened.

When we got back from our honeymoon, everyone was there to greet us off the plane. I stepped off the plane saw my father, he hugged me and gave me a kiss and then said, ‘My God your pregnant’ – those were his exact words. I said, ‘Why do you say that?’ He said, ‘You look just like Mommy did when she found out she was pregnant.’ I also never ever gained weight, not even a pound! I was like 125lbs forever. And I’ll never forget it, I wore a denim wraparound skirt (they were very in style then) to be comfortable on the plane (on the way over to Ireland for the honeymoon), and thank God I had that with me, because nothing was closing on me by the end of our three week trip!

Meg was born nine months and three days after the honeymoon. Not a bad souvenir!

And my grandfather (who was blind!) always knew when I was pregnant. He even guessed (correctly!) what I was having with each one of you! He wanted to name you Matilda after Mario Cuomo’s – governor of New York at the time – wife because he thought it was hilarious! (Thanks Mom for not naming me Matilda!)

CM: Did you want to know what you were having with any of your pregnancies?

MM: Yes, but only with Molly because Patrick was sick of girls! (We have 1 boy and 4 girls in the family…) But they told us Molly was a boy so we were calling her Sean, then she turned out to be a girl! (Molly is such a trickster)

CM: Childbirth in one word?

MM: Amazing. Miraculous. (That’s two words, but I’ll accept it.) I loved all my pregnancies. Even though some were harder than the others, I was just amazed by the whole thing.

I remember asking my mother, when she told me about the birds and the bees, ‘How did you ever have a baby???’ She said that the minute they put the baby in your arms you forget the pain. I said ‘What pain??? You must remember the pain?! Was it like period cramps???’ She just she didn’t remember experiencing pain once she held her baby. And I was just like my mother, I never remembered the pain once I held each of you. I hope it’s the same for you girls. (Me too!)

CM: What has been the most rewarding thing about being a mother?

MM: Watching my children grow up to be such fabulous people. To see you guys start your lives and watch each of you grow.

CM: What has been the most challenging?

MM: When Daddy used to work late when you guys were little, having to get you all bathed and into bed while you were all running around… Managing five kids eight and under and having to do bath and bed time – that was the most challenging! I hated bath time (laughs.) Joanie and I used to complain to each other about it!

CM: How did you raise such fabulous (if I do say so myself) children?

MM: Saying a lot of rosaries! And Daddy too!

CM: Can you tell me about some of your most proud moments throughout motherhood?

MM: The Irish Step dancing competitions, your basketball games, how many people tell me how well-behaved and how kind all of you are. Both yours and Megan’s volunteer years, all of the graduations, Kelly cutting my hair for the first time, Molly going off to St. Marys, when Patrick performed at Carolines in the city, your blog, when you all used to always go to the nursing home to visit Grammy and check in on her… There are a bunch of them… You guys always make me proud!

CM: Have you ever felt like you were a ‘bad mother’?

MM: We won’t dwell on the negative! (laughs)… Thank God not often!

CM: What makes you a good mother?

MM: I think I’m patient, I’m nurturing, I have a good sense of humor and I have great faith and a great faith in my family. (I think so too!)

CM: Would you do anything differently over the years of raising us?

MM: I would have worried less about cleaning up the house. It took me a long time to get that. Like when you were little and we lived in  Islip, I worried too much about the toys being picked up. I would have gotten on the floor more and played with the toys. I’ll make up for that with our grandchildren!

(At Patrick’s house, right? :))

CM: Do you think I’ll be a good mother?

MM: Definitely. But you’ll have to learn when they’re young, not to worry about things being out-of-place. I was like that and you’ll be like that (probably worse! laughs) that’s something you’ll have to work on. But i think you’ll be a great mother! You know if you marry Colin, he’s like a kid himself, you’ll be picking up and he’ll be taking it back out! (they call him Buddy the Elf!)

CM: What do you find difficult now that we’re grown up?

MM: Being separated. I love when you come home but I hate when everyone leaves.

CM: Rewarding now?

MM: Seeing you guys making your own lives, meeting people who are your potential husbands and wives. The thought of grandchildren in my future!

CM: Do you look forward to being a grandmother?

MM: What do you think?? Yes, I look forward to that day with much anticipation! We can play with the babies, then send them home! Yea, I can’t wait!

CM: Aside from your own mother, who has been your ‘model mother,’ someone you aspire to be like as a mother?

MM: Joan Ellis – she’s the perfect combination of what defines a mother. Mrs. Caracappa, she was like my other mother. She had seven kids, plus me. When my mother was sick she always took care of me and took me in, she made a bunch of clothes for me over the years.

CM: Advice to first time mothers today?

MM: Don’t worry all about the house and material things first. Just enjoy them when they’re little, they grow so fast. And sometimes it’s better to give them a sibling rather than toys.

My mom and her hairy little baby, aka me!

Mom and I <3

It’s difficult to put into words, the relationship between a mother and child. When I was little I was completely dependent upon my mother, she was my world. Throughout adolescence and into my teenage years my hormones were going crazy, I was experiencing a lot of emotions – I started to fight with my mother more, probably even took her for granted. As I’ve continued to grow up, when I moved away to go to college and now that I live in MA full time, I’ve realized how much I miss my mother and I often wish I could always have her right here with me. Yes, we still fight and disagree every now and then but I’ve matured a bit, and I realize how lucky I am to have been blessed with the most amazing woman in my life who wants to watch over me, protect me and keep me happy. I appreciate everything about my mother to the fullest. I’ve come to realize a bit more of what she has been through, what she has sacrificed, what she has done to better our lives. I can’t begin to thank her, or praise her enough.

My mother has a beautiful, close relationship with each one of her children. It’s funny to see the different dynamics between my mother and each of us five children. We all have different requirements and we all have different relationships with our mother, yet she gives each of us the same amount of love and attention. I don’t know how she does it, she truly is amazing!

When I think of my mother I think of someone who can do anything, someone who can handle any situation. A woman who doesn’t mind hearing all of her children’s complaints and worries. My mother listens to me when something is wrong, when I’m upset. She knows the right things to say to make me feel better, to comfort me. She celebrates with me when something great happens. She is always there to support me, always cheering me on and encouraging me to find the things in life that will fulfill me and make me happy.

I have realized my mother and I are alike in so many ways – my thoughtfulness, my sensitivity, my creativity, my body shape, my hands, my butt (yep!) I’ve inherited from my mother. I am so lucky to be like my mother, and so lucky to have her. Over the years we have grown closer and I know that we’ll continue to grow closer. No matter where we are – whether the same town or different states, whichever it may be –  I carry my mother in my heart and she will always be with me.

My mother is a strong woman. She is forgiving, extremely considerate, warm, friendly, loving, thoughtful, selfless. She is the type of person who lights up a room upon entering. She’s like a magnet, everyone wants to be around her – she has the ability to make each person she encounters feel special. Although I have grown up, I have matured, and am now an adult, I’ve realized that my mother is still my world.

I am so blessed, and I am forever thankful to you Mom. Happy Mother’s Day! I love you!

With that, I’ll leave you with this: