Attending Mom 2.0 Feels a Little Different in 2017

Mom 2.0 Summit 2017 location Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes

Mom 2.0 Summit is one of my favorite conferences of the year.  This week I’ll once again be making my way there to speak and attend as planned. Staying at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes makes for a pretty fabulous work week too.  I have attended Mom 2.0 in previous years as both attendee and speaker. I previous years I’ve described it feeling like a reunion. This year it feels so much different. This time packing my suitcase feels more like revisiting a milestone or anniversary of sorts. Probably not for any reasons you might assume.

When I first turned my attention to blogging as a career avenue several years ago, Mom 2.0 was the conference I aspired to attend. I had heard amazing things about the brands, attendees and the organizers there. Having background in conference organizing and event planning myself I am always critical of these things but Mom 2.0 summit is one of the very best. I have never once regretted investing my time and money here. If you are reading this and wondering if you should attend next year, just bookmark it on your calendar now. Growing my business was the goal and I’ve always achieved that here. That first year, my network grew both personally and professionally as a result but more importantly I left inspired to tell better stories and become a better writer. It sparked a desire to tell stories that resonated, to connect with the hearts and lives of my readers, not just acquire more pageviews or sell someone on a new product. Connection and community became a better focus. Attending Mom 2.0 that first year changed everything.

Last May was another, even more life changing year at Mom 2.0 Summit. The theme for 2016 was “Redefining Motherhood”. If only I had known just how prophetic that theme would become. That year, I would be moderating a panel on live streaming and social media with incredible women positioned in various areas of that field.

Three minutes before we took the stage I received a text from my oldest daughter who at the time was staying with my younger two children as my husband’s work trip had overlapped by 48 hours. The exchange went something like this:

Mom, can I call you?  

I can’t talk. Everything ok? If it’s an emergency please text. – was my quick auto text reply.

Everything is okay. I really need to talk to you when you’re free though. 

Then I knew. Something in my gut told me and I just knew. My eyes inadvertently closed for long blink and I took a deep breath as I text back….

Are you pregnant? 

Maybe. 

In that moment I don’t know how I knew, I just did. I’ve always had really impeccable discernment and there is something about a connection between mother and child. Maybe it was that? Or maybe it was God preparing my heart for the conversation that would come? Either way, it was now time to take the stage.

The next hour and a fifteen minutes flew by. Our panel was a success and I have never been more pleased at my skills in compartmentalizing my feelings. I hate bragging but as a Scorpio hiding emotions is a skill set we often pride ourselves on.

The room cleared and I decided my room would be the best place to return the call to my daughter. All kinds of emotions were circling in my mind as I smiled and nodded passing other attendees in the halls and lobby. I am forever grateful that the walk to my room was several minutes long. It gave me time to think of what I would say. I mean, What does one say? What in the world was I going to say? “How? When? What were you thinking? We’ve had so many talks….”

No. This was not the time for any of that.

As I approached the door to my room a revelation came to me. The next words I would say were “forever words”. The tone of my voice and words I chose to use would echo in my daughter’s mind and mine for as long as we would live. It felt like such a defining moment. I had the choice in how this would play out. This moment and  the words that came next had the potential to literally redefine our relationship and it did.

I don’t remember everything that was said in detail. Looking back it all feels a little like when the teacher from Charlie Brown was talking. I do remember that I made a conscious choice to put my daughter first in that moment. This call WAS NOT about me or how I felt. I determined not to be selfish with my thoughts or feelings. I thought about how scared she must be and what courage she must have had to muster to reach out to me that day. I put myself in her position and wondered about all the concerns she had about how her life would change as a young mother. I reminded myself that every life that comes into the world deserves to be celebrated and if that was the course we were on than we would celebrate.

Redefining Motherhood, indeed. 

My tone was calm and reassuring. I told her that no matter what I loved her and that everything was going to be alright. I reinforced that whatever she decided I was with her 100 percent and that she had no reason to worry about doing this alone. I encouraged her that motherhood was one of the best things that I had ever invested my life in and that even when it was difficult (i.e.that very moment) I’ve never regretted it.

We hung up the phone and I sat alone in my room for a few moments in my thoughts. I didn’t feel like crying but I was a little shocked at the thought of our whole world changing. I had no baseline for how this was supposed to go. Was I doing the right thing? Should I have been more upset? And “grandmother”? That wasn’t a term I was even ready to acknowledge. 

I left my room to resume the conference. I shared the news with one close confident and let it go knowing that no matter the outcome, it would be what it would be. I reassured my mind with the same tone and words that I shared with my daughter. Our lives would be changed and although we had a lot of unanswered questions, it would be an amazing adventure.

The months following were a roller coaster. We were excited. We were nervous. There were times where we were scared of the unknown. There were times where I felt like I had failed. As we all know from day one of parenting, there is no manual for motherhood. There is no “normal”. But you know what? The people who have been the most invested in this story and have uplifted me, made time to check in on us and who have CELEBRATED this time with me…. they were some of the very same ones from my Mom 2.0 community the year before. You guys have been amazing. If you’ve seen posts on our #OneTinyHuman, you know this last year has brought more joy and love into our lives than any of us ever imagined possible.

So, I try and pay a lot more attention to themes now. I find life has a way of echoing messages it wants us to grab hold of. This year the Mom 2.0 Summit is a verb: RISE. It’s explained best from the conference announcement:

“Rise” can refer to thousands of specific actions. We all rise in our own ways and in our own time, every day, through our stories, our endeavors, our promotions, our mediums. We have different backgrounds, goals, and pursuits, but we all rise together, and that is when we are at our best.

As I pack my suitcase and fly out to Orlando tomorrow, I made sure to set intentions and goals for my time there but I am prepared for wonderfully unexpected things to happen as well. I am looking forward to the things I will learn, the things I will share and all the ways we can rise together in business and in life.

If you’ll be attending Mom 2.0 Summit this week I’d love to see you sometime this week. Feel free to say “Hi!” and if you’d like to attend my panel mark your schedule Thursday 5/11 at 11:00 AM est Better Together: Effective Networking and Collaboration Strategies for Influencers and Brands.

It should be a great time and I’m looking forward to sharing the reacap of this year’s Mom 2.0 Summit with you in June! Until then be sure to follow along on IG/IG stories, Snapchat, Fb and Twitter for daily behind the scenes stories and updates along the way.

What I’ve Learned about Parenting Teenagers Might Offend You

Part of parenting is giving these humans enough space to let them be their own people. It’s a delicate balance of guiding them, equipping them, teaching them social graces, and setting them free. I’ve always felt like it was an honor to be the one to guide these lives but I’ve never felt like I owned them. I’m still very much responsible for holding a position of authority in their life but I also respect their autonomy and personhood. This parenting philosophy has allowed me to learn as much from them during this time as they do from me.

Another of our children crossed over into “teenhood” this month. Thirteen always seems like a monumental year in the life of any child. Lots of parental commentary during the teen years will equate to telling you :”Parenting Teenagers Is the WORST”. I call B.S.

B.S. because unfortunately, Parents, it’s not them. It’s you.

I can say this with confidence because I have been the problem in the past. We’ve gone through the teen years with two children ( 1 boy, 1 girl) already and two more ( 1 boy, 1 girl) to go. I’ll be the first to admit we made mistakes during the first go around, plenty of them if we are being honest. Nobody really knows what to do with the first one, amiright??? We made fewer mistakes during the second attempt and our hopes are high for three and four that we continue to improve. This is not to say that we’ve mastered this teen parenting thing by any means. No, each teenager is their own unique enigma that you will have to figure out the key for.

Each child, and parent, will present their own set of strengths and strongholds. It’s kinda like the freakin’ hunger games, actually. Here’s the thing, teenagers aren’t actually awful. Teenagers are just trying to figure out life, just like you. They are being put into all new situations that they’ve never encountered before. The world is telling them to “grow up” and behave maturely. It’s throwing vocabulary and scenarios in front of them at a rapid pace, none of which they have been trained for, in fact most have been sheltered from any of this in their previous years. P.S. YOU did that.  I know it was in an effort to keep them safe of but you can’t expect them to just magically excel at something they haven’t been trained for.

Their physical bodies are growing like adults but they aren’t adults. Yet when they act like adults they are reminded that they are children, and when they act like children they face consequences for acting as such. Parents, WE are the ones getting it wrong.

Instead of frustration and disappointment, offer grace and patience. Over the next few years you and your children are going to make some mistakes. You might make a lot of them. It’s OK. Allow yourselves the grace to fail. You are all going to be OK. Fewer people are judging you than you think. The parents that have done this before know what you are going through. They are not judging you.  Honestly, anybody participating in parental judging is a jerk. Don’t be a jerk. Parenting is a tough gig no matter what stage you are in.

Toddler to Teenager

Good News! Do you remember the extreme amount of patience that the toddler stage required? THAT was your parental training for now. I tell you this not to worry you but to encourage you. You have already trained for this. You are going to experience some of that craziness again but you are both going to do better this time. Here’s why… Remember when your toddler was throwing a fit, screaming, crying, over who knows what insignificant thing back then? Remember that when they behaved irrationally and you knew it was because they were just hungry/tired/needed your sole attention? (pay attention here.) IT’S THE SAME THING NOW! Their behavior isn’t personal. So much of what’s wrong can be solved with good nutrition, a nap, and knowing that they can have your attention when they need it.

Parenting teenagers is a lot like parenting toddlers

You may not be changing diapers anymore but those same basic toddler issues are the root of a good deal of what is upsetting your teen as well. This is not the time to overlook those things.  Now, I do not approve of the hover-parent lifestyle. You’ve done that. We’ve all done that to one extent or another. Give them the space to put in motion what knowledge you’ve already given them. You tell them you trust them, prove it.  Equip your child to take ownership over their own sleep, nutrition, and attention needs. This may seem simple but it’s not. Teach them about the needed amount of protein in the body, why sugar causes emotional crashes, and how water can literally refresh their mind. Do it in a way that isn’t patronizing. Don’t be manipulating but allow it to be “their idea”. They want to make good choices but they are in the “I do it myself” stage again. Make it easy for them to grab high protein bars, nuts, fruits, healthy fats, or shakes instead of sugar to refuel. If they are going to be successful adults they are going to have to make these choices themselves.

Everyone needs a nap sometimes. Even you parents. If you feel like you might lash out, take a quick 10 min rest time before responding. Things will look different after you’ve slept.

Be the example of not being ruled by your emotions. I was terrified when I had daughters that they would be girls that made decisions led by how they felt. For the record, that’s a behavior that is not exclusive to one gender. This season of parenting is going to be scary. You both are going to be a little apprehensive about what happens next, day to day, minute to minute. Don’t make fear based rules for your children. Make smart ones. Trust your intuition.

Do not forsake a future relationship with your adult children for fear based rules today.

Be available for them. No matter how much you may think they don’t want you around ( they might even say it) they need you around. They need you more than ever. They need your approval, your reassurance and your unconditional love. They don’t need you because they aren’t capable, they need you as a safe space in the world. Every day they are encountering literally hundreds of people at their school just like them trying to figure out who they are. By pure percentages, they are sure to encounter people who have behaved poorly to them that day. They have to figure out how to respond. Some days they’ll get it right. Some days they’ll get it terribly wrong. All of that weighs on their mind and emotions.  Wait until they come to you to offer advice. When they come to you to talk, ask them if they just need a listening ear or if they want advice. Most often they don’t need you to fix it, they just need to get it out of their head and when they hear it all said out loud they have the solution.

Last piece of advice, over the next few years when these teens seems to have lost their minds, try to see back to the sweet tiny person you knew a decade or so ago and handle this person with the same amount of love and patience. Don’t scream back. Don’t allow these actions to determine your reaction or rattle your emotions. Just know that you are the perfect parent for this human in front of you and they are the perfect human for you.

You are both doing a great job and It really is going to be okay.

Parenting and Childbirth Isn’t like the Movies #OneTinyHuman

Childbirth and Parenting

Our birth story was nothing like we had imagined… I feel like Paul and I always imagined we would be older, financially stable and definitely married before we started this crazy wonderful adventure. I always thought our birth story would start off kind of like the movies, you know; waking the other up in the middle of the night after falling asleep gently snuggled up watching a movie. One of us would say something along the lines of… “It’s time”. After three well timed sweaty, screams of appropriate intensity produces a beautifully pink baby. After that we would start our amazing mess of a life together, just the three of us. Well, at least we got the beautifully messy part right.

Parenting and Childbirth is Nothing like the Movies

Let me tell you how it really went down.

​Paul and I became aware we were pregnant at 17 and 18 years old (18 & 19 when we became parents). We has always been pretty responsible and had talked about one day getting married. We both had been working hard at our school and our jobs. We had about $4,000 dollars in the bank the day we found out our due date of January 3rd, 2017 and had several months ahead of us to wait anxiously, save more money, and actually plan a wedding before January 3rd came around. We thought we were prepared. As it turns out no matter your age or financial status, birthing stories have a way of writing themselves.

Our last OB/GYN appointment fell on our due date.Disappointed to find out I had made very little natural progression on my own, we came to be very excited after hearing that our baby might still be born that day. We were told I would most likely have to have an induction but there was an opening at the hospital that very night. We went in only to find out that I was not only completely closed, and zero percent effaced, but I was also without my OB (she happened to have a family ski trip scheduled that same week).

At 7 pm we went in for our scheduled induction anyway after getting a quick bite to eat (since you can’t eat anything during labor). Checked in, waivers signed and an excruciating IV later, it all went downhill from there… We came in at a shift change so we waited around for a while till we even got checked on. By the time we started the induction process Paul had the Chromecast hooked up to the T.V.  We had the hospital room looking like our bedroom at home, and I nervously visited the bathroom 6 times. I had Cervidil inserted at around midnight to help soften and thin my cervix. With this they have to check your cervical progress every three hours for about 6 to 9 hours. (BTW Ouch!) I started a Pitocin drip at about seven or eight in the morning and from then on out my contractions did not let up. I had visitors all throughout the day. 24 hours after starting the induction process and 10 hours of intense contractions, I was still completely closed, high, and zero percent effaced. Paul and I were devastated with the lack of progress.

Late the next day, I started a drug similar to Cervidil except this one is placed under my cervix and doesn’t have to be checked unless I needed pain medication… which I did. My contraction only got worse. I screamed, I cried, and I fought getting any medication because it hurt even worse to get checked all while have these horrible contractions. Finally I gave in, I got checked to get a dose of Fentanyl for a few hours of sleep. Even though I woke up during every huge contraction, it was worth it after over 24 hours of no sleep and excruciating pain. I ended up getting another dose of Fentanyl (which doesn’t work as well the second time) and maxing out my medication, we resorted to having me take a hot shower for the pain. After throwing up and peeing myself at the same time from all the drugs and pain, 36 hours into our induction, we decided to call it quits. This obviously wasn’t working. They tried to talk us into staying, and trying a few more things. We declined after almost two days of no sleep and only one centimeter dilated.
Early January 5th, we had an ultrasound done to check the baby’s movements due to all the pain medication. We were cleared to go home and that’s what we did. We slept all day and all night. The next day, January 6th, we went in for a checkup, only to find out that after only sleeping I was three centimeters dilated, forty percent effaced, with my water looking like it could break anytime. We were all in shock… She was sure I would go into labor that day or the next! We were ecstatic!

After all that we were still were thinking it might be like the movies… boy, were we wrong. I had contractions all day and all night! Nothing helped with the pain, but I refused to go to the hospital. I was not about to go in only to get sent home, again.
The morning of January 7th, after ongoing contractions, we thought my water finally broken! We called the hospital and headed in! I got all sighed in and got the fluid checked. The nurse and I were sure it was my water. Turns out I had only peed on myself (again) however,  I was in active labor! I was four and a half centimeters dilated and we were on our way to having this baby!

After two attempts at my IV, we started a saline drip and got me on the list for my Epidural! (FINALLY!) After my Epidural, life was a breeze, or so we thought. At five o’clock I was complete, fully effaced, and a nurse accidentally broke my water. They sat me up in hopes that gravity would lower the baby before I started pushing.

The Miracle of Childbirth…. but first…

I started pushing. Two hours later my 3rd OB recognized I had been laboring too long and called for a C-Section. I broke down crying, I felt as though I had failed at the thing my body was meant to do. I just couldn’t do it. Paul talked me down, we asked a few questions and by 9:30, we were in the operating room. Paul got to sit next to me, hold my hand and watch the birth of our baby.

Parenting and Childbirth Isn’t like the Movies. Sometimes it’s much more dramatic.

That is until the unbelievable experience was interrupted by my screams of bloody murder and him getting rushed out of the room. My epidural wore off while their hands were inside of me! They quickly put me to sleep and tried to get our baby out before the anesthesia got to the placenta. Every nurse on the floor rushed to our room, while my poor husband waited uninformed and confused in the hallway. He waited in the hall for ten minutes before he heard that life changing cry for the first time.

Introducing Isabella Rose aka our #OneTinyHuman


Our beautiful, redheaded, blue eyed baby girl was born at 10:06 pm January 7th, 2017 at 8lb 10oz. Our baby struggled to breathe after the C-section and had to spend 6 hours in the NICU. I met baby Isabella Rose Jarrell around five a.m. the next morning.

Childbirth and Parenting
It didn’t matter the labor and delivery nightmare or my fears about a C-section. In the end, we didn’t care that it wasn’t like the movies. We didn’t care how she got into this world. We were just glad that she is here. She is a gift we wouldn’t trade for anything and I can’t wait to share this crazy ride with all of you.

Cute Fam Pic #OneTinyHuman

#OneTinyHuman is taking over the internets – Keep up with her and her parents on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter too.

10 Best Labor and Delivery Memes

This week has been an emotional roller coaster of pregnancy, labor and delivery experiences. Today especially. I have no behavior left. For your amusement ( and mostly to keep me occupied) while we anxiously await the arrival of baby girl, Here are the best memes to help you laugh your way along.

10 BEST Labor and Delivery Memes

waiting on labor

dad in labor meme

sex to bring on labor

waiting on the homies labor

still waiting labor meme

waiting on labor to be over

bloggers giving birth labor

labor delivery meme

inducing labor

gorilla Labor meme

 

Keep Inspiring Your Kids to Be Great #GearUpforSchool

Certain brands know how tough back to school time can be  (probably because they see us A LOT this time of year) & keep encouraging us to inspire our kids to be great. Thanks to Office Depot® OfficeMax® for sponsoring today’s post and giveaway below (as always all thoughts and opinions are 100% our own!) When our kids were tiny being their hero was a pretty simple job. As they grow into older children and teens, our super hero status feels a little more questionable from year to year. With another school year fast approaching and a couple of the kids heading to college, we are caught in this place of reminiscing over how much we’ve learned together and how much there is to be learned.

Gear up for college

As parents we attempt to teach our children to not only be smart but to also develop their character as well. We want them to learn to be loving, caring, independent individuals. Teaching them to be independent thinkers required us to be willing to let them contemplate ideas, think outside the box, and take the road less traveled. Sometimes we have let them make mistakes and while we would always be there to catch them if they fell too hard, we also had to let them stumble to understand in order for them to develop a solid foundation of their own in life.

Our oldest just recently moved to his first apartment, and while it was difficult to let go it was also confirmation that we had succeeded in our goal. As we offered help, he let us know, “Mom, Dad, I’ve got this.” Being a parent isn’t easy, being a parent who teaches their child to become a good adult is even harder.  Success comes everyday when you see your children  make the right decisions based on their ideas becoming reality.

We have certainly learned a few things from having a few years of parenting under our belt but that doesn’t mean we don’t still question EVERYTHING we do as parents. Each child is different and parenting them best requires different techniques. If we are honest, we ask ourselves all the time if we are getting it right. As a parent, you always wonder whether you’re doing your job right. Parenting is a massive responsibility that’s ever evolving as your children age.

Sometimes the best feedback comes directly from our kids. Ever wonder what your kids really think of your parenting? These parents got the chance to find out in this video.

Children of all ages rely heavily on their parents to prepare them for whatever upcoming challenges they may face. That’s why Office Depot OfficeMax offers all of the back to school supplies your children need to succeed in the classroom and beyond. Every little thing you do for your children is noticed and appreciated. Help them grow up to be just like the parents they admire.

Gear up for school

Office Depot® OfficeMax® wants to encourage everyone to have a great back to school time by giving one of you a $25 Office Depot® OfficeMax® gift card! Be sure to watch the video above and leave a comment here telling me what thing you do to inspire your kids to be great.