No is for Lazy Parents

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 Christina Justiz Roush and family in Venice CA

Christina Justiz Roush and family in Venice CA

A few months ago, I was at my neighbor’s house who has a son around Oliver’s age. She also has a pool. The first time I hung out there, she assured me that the doors were always locked. So I would go over with Oliver and keep an ear out for him as they would play and explore throughout the house.

One day, I went over with Oliver and suddenly I realized it had been a while since I heard him. And then there was my friend’s son sitting on the floor in the living room, but no Oliver. I went from zero to 1000. I saw that the door leading to the pool area was open. Drowning is the number one cause of death in children under 7 (I hear my dad’s voice in my head) and I am running, screaming hysterical, because I know that Oliver loves the water and I know that he has no reasoning ability and I was expecting to see him at the bottom of the pool. I still feel panicked writing about this. I ran out and there he was, thank God, standing right at the edge of the pool. He looked at me and smiled, pointed to the water and said, “pool!”

What I decided to do from the experience was to be a scared, overly-anxious-hovering mess around the pool and water in general. When we would go to the neighbors (which is practically every day, btw),  I would lecture and warn (ad nauseum) about never going in the water without Mommy or Daddy; about always needing to have his floaty on; and if he got too close to the water I would warn him that we would leave if he did it again. Now this was with us all standing there and my eyes glued to him. The fear that that experience instilled in me made me become the parent that I have the most grievances with. I was the worst. Irrational and scared and hovering and annoying. Just terrible.

Another story: I am a huge fan of Dayna Martin: a rebel hippy, very brilliant advocate of unschooling and I was listening to this interview with her.  She shared an anecdote. When her son was around 4 he became fascinated with fire. Her instinct was to say no and build a wall around it. Much like mine was around the water. But she knew better. She fought her instinctual response, and would sit with him and light matches and explain it to him. She was hands and eyes on, and encouraged his safe exploration of this curiosity. She said that no is for lazy parents and it actually creates more dangerous situations with your children. Your child will explore their natural curiosities but they without your guidance and protection. Eventually, her son’s interest lead him to learn fire throwing and now is a blacksmith. What would have happened if she didn’t encourage his inclinations?

So I completely remodeled my approach. My son is a water baby. He loves the water. I can’t let my own baggage interfere. Thankfully my husband is a total water baby himself and has always created a positive relationship with the water and Oliver, hopefully mitigating some of the well-meaning neurotic tendencies he witnessed in me over the past few months. But I really get that the way to keep your children safe is by leaning into what they are curious about, not saying no.

The other day Oliver got a hold of a pair of large scissors at his grandparents’ house. There was lots of activity and children running around and my knee jerk reaction was to grab the scissors out of his hand and say “Nope, these are not for you.”  Instead I said, actually let’s explore this. I sat down with him and we looked at the scissors, noting the shininess, the size, the way the light reflected. We cut paper together and made shapes. We were exploring for almost a full half hour (this is a lot with a 2 year old) It was awesome.

Lesson learned!

On Empowered Birth Choices

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Last year, almost to the day, we sat down with midwife, Cara Muhlhahn, to chat about women, life, midwifery, and babies (see the episode here). There was so much juicy stuff in our interview that we couldn’t include everything in the episode. But today, we’re sharing a short video that speaks directly to birth, home birth, and the cultural fear around the birthing process. To us, what Cara has to say when it comes to pregnancy and birthing is more than just wisdom for soon-to-be-mothers. It’s wisdom for women everywhere. Check out the video below…

We’d love to hear about your thoughts on the video, and if a home birth is something you would ever consider or wish you had the chance to do. If you’re interested to know more about Christina’s experience, you can read a post about it here

You Can Have It All, But Not All At Once

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During Oprah’s interview with Michelle Obama at the Next Generation of Women Summit, she said something that struck a cord instantly. She was talking about being a Mother and having large ambitions. She said:

Women need to know that you can have it all…Just not all at once.

Wow.

I am sure that it has been said before. It might have even been said directly to me. But for whatever reason, as I was walking Oliver around our neighborhood for his afternoon nap, listening to the interview, headphones in, something clicked.

The truth is, I have been growing a lot lately. Learning about being vulnerable. Asking for support and tuning in to what is working and what isn’t. 

I have a lot of big dreams and visions for what I want to create in my life. Sometimes the sense of responsibility I feel for them is so huge that I don’t stop and think about how it feels to be pursuing them. I don’t trust in the perfect timing. I don’t have the patience to let things unfold. I struggle to want it all RIGHT NOW. And since it’s not all, just some, I feel like I am failing at everything.

But Michelle, man. It feels like a new level of clarity is emerging and I am pretty excited about it.

So…LOVE

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With Christina & her husband Chris approaching their four year wedding anniversary, and Chelsey and Michael celebrating their seventh year together, we’re sharing some details about our relationships. We don’t speak about our significant others nearly as much as we talk about our relationship with each other, our creativity, or our mothers. But the truth is, our partners are the wind beneath our wings (to coin a phrase). They are the editors for our blog, the photographers behind our Instagrams, and the sounding board for our dreams and aspiration.

…So… LOVE.

 

CHRISTINA:

Last weekend my husband and I stayed up until 3:00am having BIG, intense feelings like we did when we were in college. The only difference is now we have a 2 year old that gets up way earlier than our first class required of us. Something we both love is that the instant Oliver wakes up he is at a 10, and couldn’t be more excited to start the day. He immediately begins to enumerate ALL of his favorite things. So it started… pointing out his feet and the wall and the window and “doggies” and “balls” and “running FAST” in his loudest voice. Pointing at me, “Mommy.” Pointing at Chris, “Daddy.” Patting himself on the chest, “Big Boy.” And we just laughed. Because the truth is everything is different. Our marriage and partnership has been completely transformed by parenthood. And we are learning, more and more, how it is basically the best thing ever.

CHELSEY:

Last month, Michael graduated from the NYU Tisch Graduate School of Acting. It was a big deal. It’s been three long years of late nights, Saturday rehearsals, homework, exhaustion, stress, and hard work. This program is not for the faint of heart. And it turns out, it’s not for people whose partners are faint of heart either. 

We’ve discovered a lot over these last three years; Michael learned valuable lessons about himself, his work, his art, and his future. And me? Well, I got to spend some time figuring out what I really wanted. This resulted in changing careers, co-founding a business, travelling on my own, and gaining some much needed independence. It was hard, uncomfortable, and even lonely. But it was time and space that I seriously needed.

Our relationship changed a lot over the last three years too. We embraced a partnership that was more complex (read: balanced lots of different needs and some seriously conflicting schedules) and more fulfilling (when said balance was achieved). We faced challenges, learned about our weaknesses and our strengths, and found new ways to communicate with each other when time was in short supply and feelings were overflowing. We are by no means masters (except for Michael who does have is a Masters of Fine Arts now ), but we are stronger, steadier partners. The hard stuff is sort of magical that way. If you let it, it will always make you stronger. For now though, we’re enjoying the easy stuff: vacation, days that end at 6pminstead of midnight, and the great pleasure of not starting school in September

Happy Monday!  

C+C

Three Things

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For us, ‘what matters’ falls into three categories: family and friends, work, and personal peace. That pretty much covers it as far as we’re concerned. These three factors are in a constant ebb and flow. Sometime’s we’re killing it at work, but missing time with our family. More often than not, ‘personal peace’ falls by the wayside in favor of relationships and work. Below, are a few ways we’re finding balance this week. We hope you find some too.

Chelsey:
 

I’m looking forward to taking some time to center myself. A few quiet mornings, a good book, some sunshine. That’s really what I’m looking for. Packed in my vacation bag is the first in the series from Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels. I am so ready to get lost in the small town drama of two best friends growing up in the Italian countryside.

I often struggle when it comes to shopping: What to buy? When to buy? Do I need it? Can I really justify it? This spring, I allowed myself to indulge in a pair of Marais USA’s Classic Mules in Blue Suede. I am so excited to slip my feet into these beauties and let them elevate any and every outfit. They are bringing me untold joy. And isn’t that the point of fashion after all?

I’ve been fighting off a cold for the last week. Spending my nights tucked up in bed binge-watching Netflix and blowing my nose has me feeling all kinds of disconnected from my creativity. I’ll be working on that this weekend by revisitingthis podcast from Elizabeth Gilbert. That girl knows a thing or two about connecting to your art.

Christina:

A few months ago, Oliver started hitting other kids… a lot. I was at a total loss of what to do. I knew that telling him “no, we don’t hit” was missing the mark. This almost-two-year-old was clearly experiencing some very large feelings and telling him not to express them without offering an alternative was not useful at all. I am his touchstone and his protecter. But, I was falling short. Thankfully, I came across the RIE philosophy. Specifically Janet Lansbury’s website and podcast. It has helped me to honor and navigate this time in Oliver’s life and teach him in the process. HUGE game changer.

I am undergoing a true growth spurt when it comes to my career aspirations. Since having Oliver, I have struggled to connect with the joy and inspirations behind what I do. But now, thanks to Oliver, I am being forced to find ways to be more strategic and disciplined with the time that I have to devote to my work. This podcast episode, led me to this book, who’s advice helped me find this (it was all very serendipitous) and I have been soaking up wisdom while working on my art commissions ever since. 

I’ll be honest, all this growth makes me very anxious. So, this has been in my pocket all day everyday. And it works. It really, really works. 

Have a beautiful short week !

C+C

Mother’s Day, Motherhood

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“There are three positions people should feel a calling for: religious leadership, teaching, and childrearing. They’re such influential roles; no one should take those positions lightly.” 

Mothers day was this past weekend, which got  both of us thinking about Motherhood. A relevant topic for the both of us. Not just because one of us is a mother, not just because both of us are women, but because we are human; and each and every human has a mother. (Isn’t it magical when you think about those things that all humans have in common regardless of race, religion, gender, or politics?)

You might have a wonderful mother, or a terrible mother, or an absent mother, or a mother who is no longer on this earth. You might never have met your mother, or she might have made you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for lunch. Your experience of your mother is completely unique, but motherhood is universal.

As we teeter towards thirty, we begin to hear that little nagging chant that the whole world seems to be in on, “tick-tock, time to have a(nother) baby.” Motherhood is many things, but one thing it is not, is the right choice for everyone. Obviously, there’s some serious Darwin-style thinking embedded in our brains that says, “must have baby”. But, perhaps that primitive thought needs to be looked at the same way we now look at the part of our brain that has us hardwired to love sugar. Very important at the beginning of time, not so much in this day and age.

Perhaps the general expectation that it is every woman’s responsibility to become a mother (unless they’re infertile or ‘selfish’), is what leads to the overall lack of respect our society has for mothers as a whole. Yes, we dedicate a day to them, but we also trivialize and demean them by pitting them against each other in ‘mommy wars’, judging their ‘post-baby bods’, and scrutinizing their parenting choices. We depict mothers as desperate to ‘have it all’; perpetually-overwhelmed women with a pacifier in one hand, a bottle in the other, a baby strapped to their chest and nary enough time to zip up their ‘mom jeans’ before failing to meet a deadline or attend a recital. Exhausting.

Here’s the deal: motherhood is this beautiful, epic, powerful thing, but so is fatherhood. Parenthood is an off-the-charts experience that needs a little less judgement and a lot more TLC. One day a year is simply not enough. Not for mothers. Not for fathers. Not for children. Not for us.

We’d like a shift in the paradigm. We’d like for the understanding to be that a woman who chooses not to have babies is just as goddamn magnificent as a woman who chooses to have fifty babies. We’d like for the ‘you can/can’t have it all’ rhetoric to come to an end. We’d like to stop generalizing and start recognizing that each parent will have his/her own unique experience. We’d like to join the rest of the world in offering maternity and paternity leave so parents can establish equality early on and so a family can bond instead of just mother and child. We’d like everyone to chill the heck out about breastfeeding and let ladies do their thang. To us, that would be a whole lot more valuable than a bouquet of flowers and breakfast in bed once a year.

!

C+C

On Sleep, Parenting and New Rhythms

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Between family visiting us in LA, traveling to Boulder for Easter weekend,  and just who-the-hell-knows-what-else — new teeth? moon phases? developmental milestones? — Oliver has had no semblance of a sleep schedule at all for the past two weeks. This has meant an overtired, wound-up toddler and basically no sleep or downtime for my husband and I. This has been something just short of a nightmare for me, triggering my control issues, all sorts of self doubt about all of my parenting choices, and a deep deep frustration. None of which has been directed at Oliver. I grew up in a very lovey, albeit very yelly household, and I committed early on to never yelling at Oliver. (He’s almost 2, check back in with me when he is a teenager). But, as a result, this frustration has been directed elsewhere, mainly appliances and my Husband.

So I started googling and I stumbled across an article…  

 full article  here

full article here

This snapped me back into my parenting alignment. So last night, that’s just what we did. We read. And Chris sang (he has the most beautiful voice) and we both listened attentively as Oliver told us lots of stories about “kicking the ball” and “doggies” and Oliver was so happy; I mean he was beaming. And so were we. It was one of those perfect family moments.

I feel the lesson I keep learning is always the same; It’s about quieting down and enjoying life for what it is where it is, and not trying to direct or control it, or force it into being something it doesn’t want to be. Because, especially in this case, just being with Oliver was so much more rewarding then what we would have been doing had he just gone to sleep (watching TV?). It was life, in it’s most beautiful, in-the-moment glory. And I almost missed it. 

From now on, if we’re not sleeping, we’re playing.

To new family rhythms!

Windows & Sunshine

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When we were preparing for Oliver’s arrival  I didn’t do it by making space in our home for him. I did it by researching, by eating healthy, by planning the birth, by meditating and going to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens and listening to Rainbow Relaxation…every…single….night.

I didn’t understand the importance of the preparation of a bedroom. I didn’t understand why, when we were planning on co-sleeping, and still do 21 months later, there was such a fuss around the rocking chair, and the diaper table, and the starred wallpaper. Surely it would be ages before your baby could even cognitively understand what it even means to have a room. So why all the money? Why all the stress?

Like so many things in parenthood, it started to dawn on me why the preparation of the nursery is an important energetic and psychological process. There is a deeper meaning behind these rituals, although they are often masked with our culture’s compulsive consumerism. It’s not that children need the all of the things...or even their own bedroom. But they do need to know that they have a place that is uniquely and fully theirs within the home, within the family, within the strange new world they find themselves inhabiting. When you take the time to carve out space for them, you are letting your baby know that he or she belongs.

After moving out of our apartment it was almost four months of travel, of living out of suitcases and having no space for any member of the family to truly “inhabit.” But now we are settling in here. I feel very thankful that Oliver has a bedroom with windows and light and a spot for everything.  And that I can say to him, “Oliver, go put your books away” and he knows where they belong. That he has a place in our home and our life that is just for him.

GIRL | Cara Muhlhahn

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Cara Muhlhahn is not a girl. She is a Woman. Capital W. With all of the wisdom, strength and power that a women can embody. 

She was also Christina’s midwife. Cara’s support and guidance during Christina’s pregnancy was profound. It prepared her not only for the birth of her son, but also for life as a mother and a deeper understanding of her place in the continuum of things. Cara’s life work places her on the delicate line between life and death, light and dark, miracles and disasters. It requires her to hone in and focus on the tiniest of details: the skip of a heartbeat, a centimeters change in dilation, the pace of someone’s breath.

We hope you enjoy this episode and please share it with all those you feel will be inspired by this incredible woman. 

Have a beautiful weekend!

Home

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It has been a LONG process getting here. I won’t get into details for brevitys sake, but let’s just say the past 5 weeks of traveling for us included… 6 flights, 11 beds (one of those beds was actually our sleeping pads for camping, which we did in 30 degree weather, 2 molars, hand foot & mouth disease (sounds scarier then it is) , food poisoning on a plane, the flu, and a clogged duct (ouch!). Packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking. Trying to be present with family and friends. Being present  with family and friends. Feeling guilty for not being present with family and friends. But we are here. In the house that I walked into almost 4 months ago and knew without a doubt that this was the place for us. It was worth the wait and the flights and the packing and unpacking on rotation.

See that beautiful tree blooming in January? That is right outside our door and it makes me feel all sorts of thankful. We are home.