This is me, not having it all together
This is me, not having it all together

“You know, Mrs. Frugalwoods, a lot of people think you really have your stuff together but the truth is, you don’t and none of us do.” My good friend Shannon of Financially Blonde said this to me last week while we were shooting the breeze about life and I thought: wow, yes! Shannon always keeps it real, which I deeply appreciate.

And she’s completely right, none of us is 100%, totally, completely, and entirely in control of our lives. It just ain’t possible. It’s supremely ironic for me that people think I have it together when in fact, one of my greatest weaknesses is comparing myself to other people who I perceive have it together… it’s sort of a bizarre cycle, no?

The key for me in combatting this cycle is accepting imperfection and ambiguity. The other key is consistently expressing gratitude (not necessarily out loud, that’d get old) for how awesome my life is.

Getting caught up in trying to emulate someone else’s seemingly perfect existence is, by definition, a flawed endeavor. And every time I do it, I bring anxiety into my life. Sure, there are valuable lessons to learn from others, but it’s crucial that I create my own set of norms and systems for what works for me–in other words, I have to live my authentic truth.

Living My Authentic Life

The concept that I’m living my own authentic truth is a lesson I have to remind myself of daily, especially as Mr. FW and I prepare for the arrival of Babywoods (8 weeks to go!). We know we’re newbie parents–it’s no surprise to us that we’re going to be underprepared, overwhelmed, exhausted, and doing things wrong. Yet despite internalizing these indisputable facts, I still feel guilty that I’m not prepared enough or educated enough or emotionally mature enough for our baby.

Mr. FW's excellent refinishing efforts
Mr. FW’s excellent refinishing efforts

Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat–well let’s be honest, I wake up to go to the bathroom 10,000 times a night anyway–fretting that we don’t have enough long-sleeved onesies for our daughter. We do (I just counted them).

Tellingly, my fears are almost always centered around a very finite ridiculous focal point, such as long-sleeved onesies or decluttering… Why? Because they’re masking my larger concerns about our baby: will she be healthy? Are we equipped to lovingly care for her? Will she grow up to be a confident, happy, intelligent, independent person?

Clearly onesies are not the issue, but it’s much easier for my addled pregnant brain to focus on a perceived problem that’s easily remedied. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I can’t do much at this stage to ensure that Babywoods will thrive to her fullest potential, but I can wash and sort her hand-me-down clothes and carefully stack them in her bureau (found by the side of the road and refinished by Mr. Frugalwoods, might I add).

Transforming anxiety into proactivity does a great deal to assuage my fears. Finding a tangible outlet for these emotions is more productive than reducing self to tears (which, to be honest, also happens).

Having Confidence In Myself

And hey, maybe Babywoods doesn’t have enough long-sleeved onesies. But that’s ok too–we’ll figure it out. Having the confidence in myself, and in Mr. FW and me as a team, to navigate the challenges of parenthood is perhaps the only true way to be prepared for what’s ahead.

A few of Babywoods' long-sleeved onesies
A few of Babywoods’ long-sleeved onesies

We’re organizing the house, we’ve washed and folded all of her things, Mr. FW is cooking meals to freeze in advance (hat tip to everyone who shared a recipe!), I have a slate of delightful guest posts scheduled for you all to enjoy here on Frugalwoods, we have family coming to visit after her birth, we took a prepared childbirth class this past Saturday, and I’ve read approximately 1,439 books on parenting and infant care. But we still can’t anticipate all of the amazing experiences and challenges we’ll encounter with our daughter.

Something that’s been particularly difficult for me to swallow is the onslaught of baby advice we’ve received from well-meaning friends, relatives, and acquaintances. I appreciate their care and concern, and I’ve learned a great deal by listening to them, but I get the feeling that I’ll never be able to absorb and apply all of this advice. And, I won’t. Mr. FW, in his classically zen worldview, takes it all in, considers it, and then breathes it out without allowing it to stress him. I, on the other hand, fret, internalize it, and wonder if our crib mattress really is breathable enough (what if she flips herself facedown in the middle of the night and can’t respirate???). One of the many things that keeps me up at night.

The Danger Of Offering Advice

Receiving all of this advice causes me to reflect on the advice that I dish out to other people. I’ve definitely been guilty of waxing poetic about frugality, yoga, hiking, and any number of other things I conceitedly consider myself an “expert” on. Whoops.

Me at 31 weeks (aka 7.75 months) pregnant!
Me at 31 weeks (aka 7.75 months) pregnant!

Frequently in offering advice or guidance, we inadvertently make people feel guilty if they don’t happen to be on the same life trajectory. It’s very easy to judge others and assume the dogmatic stance that we know best. And we probably do–the key is that we know what works best for ourselves. But it’s kind of fun for us, as flawed humans, to feel superior to others. I think this is a totally natural emotion–it’s just a question of whether or not we choose to indulge it.

Seeing someone else writhe in guilt makes us feel powerful and smart. But not for long–the guilt soon transfers back to us and we end up wallowing over our gloating. It’s a bad cycle, man. Rather than guilt one another, what if we always seek to support and encourage? I’d really like to get to a place where that’s my consistent worldview and it’s a daily project for me. Because I know how it feels to be judged.

When I’m criticized, I usually lash out and create a dynamic of defensiveness whereby I find myself scrambling to justify my choices. But in reality, I don’t need to. No one needs to. As long as you’re living your authentic truth, it’s no one else’s business how you go through your day. This is precisely why I don’t judge other people’s spending, and why I don’t offer a prescription for the “one right way” to financial independence or financial peace. First of all, it doesn’t exist and second of all, who am I to say I know what’ll work for you. All I can genuinely do is share what works for me.

As Babywoods’ birth nears, and my baby bump becomes ever-more apparent (hey, I finally started looking actually pregnant at 7 months!), I know the well-intended advice will ramp up. But I’m going to put myself in a frame of mind to accept it gratefully since it almost always comes from a place of wanting to help and support. At the same time, I’m going to remain confident in Mr. FW’s and my ability to figure out what’s best for our daughter and our family (with probably a lot of help from the internet… after all, we’re already pros at googling things like “are grapes safe for greyhounds to eat?”).

Your Money, Your Plan

Tell the truth, was I the practice baby?
Tell the truth, was I the practice baby?

It’s a tad ironic for me to write that no one can tell you how to properly manage your money since I sort of do that here on Frugalwoods, but bear with me. I honestly don’t think anyone can tell you precisely what’ll work best for your personal financial situation. What I value and what I spend on probably isn’t identical to your values and your spending. It’d be kinda weird if it was.

The real danger is in flailing around (financially or otherwise) without a concrete plan. Your plan doesn’t need to even remotely resemble anyone else’s, but having a plan is pretty darn paramount.

What is a plan? I think it entails a goal, whether it’s longterm (such as achieving financial independence by a certain date) or an ongoing, evolving aspiration (like attaining your definition of financial stability). I think a viable plan has action items, tactics, strategies, and check-in points. And I think it’s uniquely tailored to your personality and your own individual situation. Don’t try and retrofit someone else’s plan–create your own.

Reason #5,679 Why “Keeping Up With The Joneses” Is Dumb

Babywoods' clothes inside the dresser... ahhh organization
Babywoods’ clothes inside the dresser… ahhh organization

The longer I live, the more people I talk to, and the more experiences I have, the more I realize that we’re all seriously imperfect creatures carving out an existence here on earth. We have no idea of the internal struggles other people are enduring and it’s SO EASY to look at someone else’s seemingly ideal life and start comparing myself (unfavorably, might I add).

Then I feel jealousy creep in, which leads to anger, which leads to guilt over feeling jealous in the first place… and suddenly I’m mired in a haze of discontent, which I created entirely myself (thanks a lot, self). Lunacy I tell you! Yet I still do it.

And that’s the inherent flaw of lifestyle inflation. When we fall into the trite ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ trope, we’re working to emulate a purely external reflection of someone else’s vision of success and happiness. There’s a strong push in our society for everyone to conform and fit into boxes, but that’s patently ridiculous. We’re all fiercely unique and expecting our lives to mirror one another’s is a classic exercise in futility. So, let’s all be confident in our distinct selves and hey, I bet we’ll all save a lot more money and uncover much deeper happiness in the process. Just a hunch I have.

How do you remain confident in your own personal convictions?

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  1. “Be kind. Everyone we meet is fighting a battle.” – sign I drive by occasionally
    I try to keep my convictions from turning into advice. Everyone is the expert of his or her own experience–what works for one doesn’t work for another.

  2. Dear Mrs. FW – Sometimes I think I’m reading the writing of an 80 year old woman! My dear, you are wise beyond your years having learned lessons I didn’t really contemplate till I was 50. You’ll do fine with Babywoods. You and Mr. F have so much to give her that many young people are not even aware can be a gift. Trust me, I counsel lots of young folks. Now, I’m thinking how good it would be to have both of you at my side as I do pre-marital pastoral counseling. After reading your latest – I’m the one who feels inadequate and I have Divinity School and 25 years in ministry behind me..

    1. We really need a like button for all the comments today!
      I agree, Mr. and Mrs. FW — you are wise beyond your years and your little girl is going to be fine, because you have already zeroed in on what is important in life and will be present for her in a way that many parents aren’t able to be.

  3. As a recovering perfectionist and know-it-all, I really appreciate this message! It’s a fine line to walk between passionately sharing what you’re excited about, and conveying that everyone else should be equally excited about it, too. I’ve both appreciated and stressed over financial and parenting advice. One thing that’s helped me release the guilt is realizing that there is conflicting advice about almost any topic. You can’t follow all this advice; it’s logically impossible!

    1. So true lots of conflicting advice. In every topic. You know I’m sure some people might give advice to feel superior but like you also said sometimes it’s just the simple fact that maybe you just aren’t in the know about a specific thing.

      Like I have actually talked to my dad a lot about money lately ( which is unusual) and there is a lot of miss information, which sometimes is the popular opinion too… So if everyone says it, believes and practices it must be right, right?

      No sorry not right. I totally agree that some stuff doesn’t work for everyone but that doesn’t change facts. Like maxing your 401k will lower your taxable income ( that is a fact currently in the USA) , now not everyone can apply that because of their earning so walking around telling people they should be doing it is kind of inconsiderate but a lot of people ( it seems like) don’t even know that that exist or is possible.

      I think the same is true for parenting there are popular opinions things that are practiced very widely (like tummy time) which would be hard to give advice that is contradictory to it, but that is why I offer it because it isn’t common or popular. Actually it’s even kind of hard to implement because you have to go against the grain. I give it just because I want others to know there are other options. I’m not giving it because I consider myself an expert (far from it) I always recommend someone. ( Janet Lansbury & RIE)

      But maybe that’s just me I like learning about different even opposing practices because then I feel I can make my own decision.

      D’oh I always think stuff sound shorter in my head and then I type it out and it turns out to be a novel.

      I really like the sentiment of this post. By the way I think most moms check on their first baby a bunch. I know even with my 2nd I would check on her while she slept frequently to make sure she was breathing. SIDS scared the s$%t out of me….. Something I wouldnt have even know about if I hadn’t read baby books and taken birthing & childcare classes.

  4. This was an awesome post!!! What’s funny about comparing your life to others is that if you actually get to KNOW that person on a personal level, all of a sudden the jealousy goes away. You realize that their life is nowhere near perfect, just like yours. Marriage is something I’ve been guilty of comparing John and I to. I see other couples and think they must be happier than us, when in all actuality we ARE really happy, and just because we’re not holding hands in Starbucks b/c we have two kids with us doesn’t mean we’re any worse off than the couple that IS holding hands. Ok, dumb example, but I’m sure you know where I’m getting. If we got to know that couple we’d see they have issues too just like all of us.

    And totally true about finances!! Decide what you want out of life and use money as a tool to get you there. Our goal as of recently has been to increase our income so we have more options. We don’t know what we’ll do once we get there (I have a goal to make $10K a month within one year), but the options will be much bigger if we’re able to generate a good amount of money from home. We’ll see 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful day!! Oh, and for baby advice, seriously just take it all with a grain of salt. You’ll see once she’s here – you’re the perfect mom for her!! Do whatever works for you and her, and don’t worry about anything else. That’s my best “advice” 🙂

  5. It is true that you will never be able to absorb and apply all of the well-meaning baby advice. BUT you are the number one top world experts on this particular baby. Nobody is going to know her or know what she needs like you do.

    That said, I love getting baby advice. Sometimes I learn a new hack, like if your new baby hates having the onesie pulled over his head, put it on like a sock, feet first. Sometimes it’s just hilarious, like when my neighbor told me to put a glass of water under the baby’s crib when he cries. That is my all-time favorite.

  6. Aw, everyone DOES seem to have advice to give when it comes to parenting hah I promise it won’t end upon her arrival ;). You will definitely be more confident though once she does make her debut and you realize that you were made to be a Mom – her Mama! No one knows her better than you do, or how to care for her better than you will.

    I loved the message in this post, because we indeed are all flawed to some extent or another. And it can be so easy to compare ourselves to others and think wow, “I could never do that or be like that”. When in reality, we just need to focus on all the great things we DO have going for us, and realize that we are all wonderful in our own ways…imperfections and all!

  7. I enjoy reading the Frugalwoods blog and agree with much of what you write. As for how people spend their money, I’ve reached the conclusion that people spend or save according to their values. If you value hiking you needn’t spend much. If you value flashy cars, you spend much!!! This sounds simplistic, but it really isn’t. Our priorities and values are uniquely joined with our spending., or lack there of. i don’t think a spender can turn into a saver without a serious flip in his or her priorities and values. What makes me happy ( hiking, biking, my house in Vermont, and my financial independence) doesn’t make everyone else happy. And, I do believe you and Mr Frugalwoods have your ” stuff” much more together than most 30 or 40 year olds! Best wishes!

  8. By articulating my beliefs (aloud or in writing), I find it gives me a lot more confidence. I also find I have a better sense of who to get involved in different kinds of conversations with. There are certain people that think we’ve lost our minds when they hear we want to pay off our mortgage early. Now I just bypass those conversations with them. I can only imagine how complicated this gets when you’re expecting, because it seems that people see that as an open invitation to tell you whatever they want. Babywoods is so lucky to have you both! And…the onesies are heart-meltingly cute!

  9. Great post! I’ve been doing a better job of not comparing myself to others but every now and again it happens. I’m really trying hard to not sound so preachy when I talk about finances, health and fitness etc. Sometimes I think back on a conversation and I think maybe I should have said nothing or said it a different way. I’m trying to do more listening and less talking these days…since I’m a bit of a “Chatty Cathy”…this is easier said then done lol!

    My fiance and I would like to start a family after we are married, mid 2016, and I am loving reading all your posts on prep. I found a Buy Nothing Project in my hood and I cannot wait until some of the baby things apply to us! It is such a great find!

    As mentioned above, I don’t have children so I won’t offer advice, I just know that my sister, who has three, said take everything with a grain of salt. So I guess I did sort of offer advice…..take it or don’t it is all good 🙂

    Looking forward to posts about Babywoods in the future!

  10. As a mother of four (and a decade older than you) let me tell you something – you will be GREAT parents. Why? Because you already get what’s important. (and what’s not). Love your blog and so excited for you. Babies are fun, kids are fun, even teenagers are fun. Enjoy the good and ignore what you can – it changes quickly!

  11. Great post!

    You’ll do fine with baby! Seriously, it’s hard to mess it up. I can’t judge though; I had many nightmares about not having all the right gear, too! I think that’s just part of it.

  12. Glad to see I’m not the only one that doubts whether I’m perfect. 🙂

    As for your question, I pretty much accept that not everyone will like me or agree with me. You can’t please everyone. Might as well try to live life on your terms and hope that those close to you, whose opinions you care about, at least respect and accept your choices if not fully agree with them. The other folks that disagree vocally? Screw em, they are haters anyway and you don’t need to keep negativity sticking around in your life!

  13. What a thoughtful blog…..Couple of things….Many years ago when “dinos roamed the earth” DW and I had our first child. Her Mom picked her and the baby up from the hospital and brought her and the baby home….another story….When I got home I was dumbfounded that the folks at the hospital actually let us bring this tiny baby home…My thought was we didn’t know enough and weren’t prepared. To which my DW responded….”I’ve been preparing for this my whole life…we’ll be fine”…Which we were… And if I learned anything from the 2008 it was fully expressed by Charles Schwab when he went on national TV and said …”don’t panic”…good advice. Wish you nothing but the best for your Family….

  14. I’ve suffered from anxiety issues since I was in middle school. Diagnosed GAD, and thankfully have been able to manage it with cognitive based therapies and lots of self-reflection/meditation. I just realized last year that there is such a think as perfectionist anxiety, and it’s the main culprit for me. Was almost freeing when I came across some articles on it on google.

  15. I enjoyed reading your post today, especially because I am a first time Mom of a eight week old girl. I too had many people offer well meaning advice and none of it prepared me for bringing baby home! The first month was completely overwhelming! It still is, but I am slowly learning what works for us. There are diapers that result in blowouts, clothes that I don’t use and a freezer full of meals I prepared while nesting that we haven’t eaten.
    I always like to be reminded that doing what is best for out family always wins over keeping up with the Jones. Many people in our lives were concerned that we wanted to stay in our one bedroom duplex with a newborn. We live in a great area, in the heart of the city and both of us have short commutes. We pay only $530 a month with no lease, where a two bedroom would cost us about $1800 a month. Staying where we are, though unpopular, has been the best decision we’ve made. If we had listened to our family and friends we’d be living in the suburbs (where we don’t want to be) and paying a mortgage. While we don’t plan on staying here forever, our decision has given me confidence that only we know what’s best for our family.

  16. My dear Mrs. Frugalwoods (I feel like we are besties, so I will act as such) – you are a wonder! I will give you my perspective as the single Mom of an 18 year old girl who has not (yet) ended up in jail or on the pole.

    Being consciously aware of your ‘quirks’ puts you ahead of 99% of the population when it comes to parenting. Most people (myself included) tend to operate on the OS that was installed by our own parents. Yours and Mr. Frugalwoods’ parents both seem to have done fine jobs, so most of the background systems are already running smoothly. As for the other little bit, I would say that no one gets a perfect mother or father – and they really shouldn’t. We are not made strong, compassionate people by perfection. That happens when we dig deep and overcome our lesser instincts.

    Your daughter will know that she is loved. You will challenge her to think outside the box and do the hard work to craft a life of her own making. She is going to grow to be a woman to be reckoned with. I say this with some small bit of authority. Despite all of the selfish moments I have had and mistakes I have made (and there have been MANY), my own daughter is a dragon slayer who loves me fiercely because that is how she is loved.

    My dearest wish for you is a joyful relaxing into parenthood, allowing you to be truly present for the tender moments. They go by so very quickly. 🙂

  17. you will be fine. Women have been having babies for a long time. do what feels right. one bit of advice which I did not follow but for everyone who did, it worked out great. Sleep when the baby sleeps. You don’t need to be up doing anything. Just stay in bed, or go from bed to rocking chair, to bathroom, to refrigerator for food and drink now & then, then back to bed. sleep. Sleep, SLEEP. you can take the baby out for walks in a month. for the first month, don’t try to do anything else.

  18. I just love you! No weirdness intended!! I think because you seem so much like myself in the ways that you take too much onto yourself and wonder if you’re ever enough, doing enough, preparing enough, etc. Yet, you know your own personality, so you know how to deal with it. And you have awesome Mr. FW who can think though his zen-like world and find peace. Gosh, that is a great quality. Trust me when I tell you that you are more prepared and educated about the birth of your daughter than most others ever will be. Someone once told me…”there’s never the right time or best time to have a baby….just pull up another chair to the table, set a place setting, and keep going.” Obviously, advice from an old person, but I found a nugget of truth to it. Your baby will be born to loving and attentive parents who have waited a long time for her birth, and she’s far ahead of many in this world with just that going for her. Great job on the dresser, Mr. FW!

  19. I feel like I haven’t been as receptive to other people’s advice lately. Maybe it’s my own insecurity, but something I just want to figure things out my own way. You know? And I think about this a lot when I hear myself dishing out advice. It kind of makes me cringe when I replay what I’ve said in my head. Anyway, I really like what you’ve said about sticking with our authentic selves and forgetting the rest of the noise. It’s a challenge sometimes. But worth it once you reach those rare moments of calm.

  20. This is one of my favorite posts you’ve written! I do think we’re all guilty of portraying that the life we’re leading is something that others should aspire to and try to emulate. We wouldn’t be leading that kind of life if we didn’t think so! But, we all have faults and life is not “one size fits all.” That’s what I love about reading so many different kinds of blogs. There are aspects that you can apply to your own life even though everything might not necessarily work for you. Thanks for keeping it real! And good luck with the baby! There is a learning curve, but it’s your learning curve and nobody can tell you what works best for you!

  21. Hi Mrs. Frugalwoods, first of all I always try to remind myself that even the Jones have their own personal and unique struggles to face that I might not know about. I use your blog as an inspiration, I don’t feel guilty or judged by your posts and I choose to follow blogs that are informative, interesting, somewhat playful in the way they present financial information. Through time I keep coming back to you , 1500 days to freedom, Our freaking budget and … of course Mr Money Mustache. I appreciate and admire everyone’s efforts to educate and encourage others in finding their financial path, and personally that’s my goal figuring out what works for me by taking a bit from here and a bit from there. We are not all on the same road to financial freedom and we won’t be facing the same hurdles, but we are all heading towards the same destination freedom from a consumeristic society and the joy of knowing I designed my own path. Congratulations on the baby, I love that you guys are a step ahead of me and my boyfriend, we get to learn from your mistakes! Right now I am reading your house purchase articles for the tenth time, and hopefully in a year or so it will the baby posts!!

  22. Until that little bambino arrives, you won’t know how to best respond to her. Love is always the best choice and patience with children. Go with your gut – that has gotten you farther than most people. She will teach you so much.

  23. I think you’ve nailed one important aspect of parenting. You have very little control of the outcome of parenting, but you still have to try your best. Good luck! Becoming a mom was a tough transition for me, but one that I don’t regret at all.

  24. I think I feel confident in my own personal convictions by embracing change. That what I choose now to value & follow, may not be the hard & fast rule as time goes on. Each chapter, phase and happening in life will bring on it’s new feelings, triumphs, and challenges. My brother, sister-in-law & niece came to visit this weekend and we stayed up late Friday evening discussing many topics in life. One of the most astounding questions that came forward was “What is the American Dream now?” I think this is very applicable to your post, because the mentality of Keeping Up With The Jones’ is slowly fading into the background as people determine their own successes & financial milestones (which doesn’t necessarily just include buying a home & driving big fancy cars anymore)! Thank you for this post, for instilling that confidence that all of us are working towards what we want. 🙂

  25. The only person you need to take advice from on your baby, is your baby. You will be surprised how quickly you can read every gurgle, cry, whimper and know exactly what she needs. People mean well, but advice on child rearing is as fraught with dogma as religion and politics. Love, food and sleep, pretty much all she’ll ask for and you and Mr. Frugalwoods will provide in abundance. I can’t believe it is only 8 more weeks. How did that happen?

  26. Great read! We’re all humans doing the best we can. Sometimes we’ll make mistakes, sometime’s we’ll want to take advice from others, but ultimately we know what will and won’t work for our budgets. As long as we are being money conscious, we are already taking a step in the right direction. Congratulations on the imminent arrival of your little one.

  27. I am not a parent, but I spend my days surrounded by kids of all shapes and sizes. One thing I have learned, is most of the time parents figure it out. If/when they can’t, that is when they find the help they need.
    I think I survive in a world where I am different (I have never hidden my uniqueness) by surrounding myself with always 1 or 2 awesome people who got me or appreciated me. The rest of the world can think what they want, and while I have moments it really bugs me (being different can be so hard), I usually turn to my tribe and find comfort there. If they fail, I turn to my dogs. They are always in my corner (even when I dress them up!)

  28. As I get older it’s just more easy to not give a crap about what others think of my choices. I wonder if it’s age, maturity, experience, or just general lack of “cares given”. Either way, I’ve learned I’m much happier this way, and it’s an easy place to get to as long as you understand everyone is different. Just choose what is right for you and your goals.

  29. We felt overwhelmed when our twins were born, but we found our way. As I’m sure you and Mr.FW will too. Look as how well you are preparing already. I know my plan is just that mine, but it’s grat to read other blogs and see all the POVs. I know I’ve learned little things here and there and made them my own.

  30. I love this post because it is a great reminder for everyone to live true to who they are. I admit that it took me a long time (I’m 39 now) to stop comparing myself to others all the time, and to stop trying to be who they wanted me to be. I was forgetting to live to my authentic truth. I have learned through my experiences that being true to who I am is what makes me happy. I agree with you though that it’s still hard not to compare ourselves to others, as well as to judge others for not following the same thoughts and actions that we do. Everyone’s situation is different; we just have to be grateful EVERY DAY for what we have and what makes us happy.

  31. By getting older. Seriously, something about being in my mid-thirties just has me being less apologetic for being myself. I’m sure part of what seems so different is that i spent my mid-twenties working in a job (teaching) for which I was both completely unprepared and temperamentally unsuited. Naturally, I was terrible at it, and that lack of confidence infected other areas of my life.

    I remember being pregnant with Big Brother and having that anxiety. Having a baby felt like taking a test, except that I’m really good at taking tests and I didn’t know how to study for this one. I wish I had been confident enough to tell myself, “You know what? You’re not going to be prepared. You DON’T know what it’s going to be like. But you’re an adaptable human being and you’ll manage.” Instead I worried, read 917 books, and peppered my mother and older sister with an unreasonable number of questions.

    And it WAS fine, although comically so. My mom and sis had six natural-birth babies between them, so I wasn’t expecting a C-section and had no nightgowns. Grandma FP had to buy me some at Walmart. Then I couldn’t get my shoes on because my feet were so swollen, so I went home from the hospital wearing sweatpants under a nightgown, a coat, and bedroom slippers.

    At least that wasn’t the time I brought a baby home from the hospital and realized I did not have a house key. That was Little Brother, and happily that time it was May and I was wearing the much more sophisticated getup of yoga pants and flip-flops. Grandpa FP had me, Big Brother, and Little Brother all in the car, so he took us around the corner to Hardee’s to wait for Grandma FP to bring us a key. Good times. :-).

  32. Having a baby is hard. I hate it when people see my three kids and say “Enjoy every minute.” I want to yell “YOU DIDN’T! I PROMISE YOU DIDN’T.” Every minute is NOT enjoyable. There are nights when you just want to rip your hair out to get 15 minutes of sleep! There are poop on your dress at Church moments. There are everyone-in-the-house-is-screaming-including-you moments. But you are you and your baby is her. And that combination is unlike any other in the world. People can say what worked for them and their kids, but the equation is different. And there will be moments unlike any other where you think “This is the best moment in the world.” And “maternal instincts” don’t mean that the baby is born and because you’re a mom now, you know what to do (which is what I thought). It means that you learn what YOUR baby wants when SHE cries. Learning this new language takes time.

    1. Thank you, Maggie! That is pretty much the best advice I’ve received. The “enjoy every minute” especially resonates—I’m like, really ;)??? Thank you for keeping it real.

      1. Absolutely. I hate that saying. I want to hit people. People also say “You’ll miss every minute” and I think, no, I certainly won’t miss a lot of these minutes. But I will miss being this loved. There’s no point in my life where as many people have or ever will again love me this unconditionally. We need to keep it real more often. Because there are millions of moms out there sitting in their houses, covered in spit up thinking “I’m clearly doing something wrong because this is not enjoyable.”

  33. After living as a first time parent for the first time, the only advice I can tell you -> Everyone is going to give you advice, you just need to smile and nod. While everyone means the best, advice for one person doesn’t necessarily work for others and you will beat yourself up if someone’s advice doesn’t work. You will surprisingly know what to do in most circumstances. Hmm – my advice is to ignore advice. I’ll let you figure out if you are suppose to take this advice or not 🙂 Good luck! It really is an amazing time, even though it is one of the hardest things my wife and I have ever done.

  34. Maturity and life experience has helped me be confident with my life choices. Sadly I cared too much what others thought when I was in my 20’s. Mistakes ( and having to live with choices ) are also a great teacher. I’ve been lucky- my mistakes and sub par choices have been relatively small scale, for this I’m incredibly thankful.

    Regarding parental fear- I think it’s PERFECTLY NORMAL and actually reasonably healthy. When I became a first time mom through adoption, I was 39, had been married for 5 years to a wonderful man, had a successful and fulfilling career, had a wonderful, supportive extended family and friends. We owned a house, scrupulously searched for high quality childcare, read books regarding cultural issues of raising a child who looked “different” from us- you get the drift. The day after we came home with our new-to-us 25 month old son- who was an even tempered, sweet boy who bonded with us immediately- I locked myself in the bathroom and cried for 2 hours, convinced I was inept at parenting him. Ironically we couldn’t have been MORE prepared, but I convinced myself there was some secret to great parenting that I didn’t know.

    Bottom line? By the next day I was fine. We were fine! Did I have every answer? No. However we had love, common sense, happiness, and financial security.
    Seven years later I can say that we have done a good job ( so far) and I’m glad that I’ve used my heart and my gut instincts as my two main parenting navigators.

    You’ll both be great parents! As my friend told me, “The smarter the parent the more they worry about every little thing. It all works out.”

  35. Your blog made me chuckle today, switch off to all the baby advice and just go with your gut feeling when she arrives. No one is a perfect parent and no one knows what they are doing lol. These kids don’t come with a handbook, my son’s are 8 and 9 and I still don’t understand how to make it work !!!! . You will be fine,,you will know your own baby better than anyone. Much love from the uk x

    P’s if there is a handbook, mine is 9 years to late !!!

  36. Well, I’m just glad that we are good enough friends that you could take that statement from me and know that I meant it in the best way possible. Like you, I too am equally fraught with challenges and question myself and my abilities all the time. For the longest time I said I was the worst mother, but now I say that I am the best mother for Will. It’s easy to compare ourselves to other people but when we start to do that, we start to live someone else’s life instead of our own. Our journeys may be flawed and imperfect, but they are perfectly ours and we have to own, embrace and love that. And I love you for all of your imperfections!!

  37. I LOVED that about you when we met in person. Being a regular person makes you easy to sit down on a couch with and have pleasant conversations about beans and rice! 🙂 You’ve got this pregnancy thing, friend. So you’ll nail the parenting bit too.

  38. When it came to baby advice, I figured it was best to keep it all in the back of my mind so that I could try different options. Method A of getting sleep didn’t work, so maybe I’ll try Method B that I heard about. If that doesn’t work, maybe Method C will. In the end, it’s kept us flexible as parents so that we’re not stuck trying to force any one method to fit our family, we figure out what will suit our family. And by getting that advice, we have so many options to choose from!
    Parents really can be the worst about selling parenthood, too. “Birth was so awful, I…” “Ugh, Little One didn’t sleep AT ALL last night….” In some ways, this is just about the worst thing anyone can do to prospective parents, and I know for some people who do that there’s a certain amount of glee that it will be “your turn” next. However, it also serves the purpose of reminding you that all won’t be sunshine and kittens after your tiny human arrives, in the hopes that the low moments you suffer won’t be as bad because at least you’ll expect them, and you’ll know that you’re not alone. The one thing no one can ever prepare you for is how high you’ll fly in the good times. It’s just indescribable, and we don’t talk about it because there’s no way to explain to the uninitiated just why seeing your own kid smile for the first time almost brought you to tears.

  39. You are right, none of us have it all figured out, but that’s what life’s all about. Discovering, making mistakes, and being human. Thanks for a great post, I enjoyed reading it.

  40. The only thing I’m 100% confident about is that I’m rarely confident! 🙂 You can tweet that quote if you like. lol! Thanks for your honestly. I so appreciate people being vulnerable versus looking like an “expert” all the time. I know I could never do it because it would most certainly bite me in the (well, you know where). Perhaps I will never write that how-to book, but I can continue trying to strive to be as authentic as possible, and navigate life as best I can and doing things that work for me (as long as I don’t harm baby bats or other humans). I’ve heard many parents complain about others giving them (un)wanted advice. I have a feeling that just comes with the territory, and I’m sure you’ll be fine. Then I’ve also heard moms say, “i wish someone would have told me that ______ happens after a baby!” 🙂

  41. Stressing about Babywoods arrival is very normal, we all do it. I hear you on the advice you get given, been there!!! But at the end of the day just go with your gut instincts try what you think might work, if it doesn’t no big deal , so then try your mums or mother in laws advice as they’ve been there before.. The only advice I listened to that helped me was when I was about to give birth the first time was “don’t try and be a hero in labour if you need pain relief take it as there”s no prizes for trying to be a hero” ohhh so true and for the record I needed pain relief (and anti vomit relief 10 minutes into my labour, 18 hours later had emergency c-section). During pregnancy Reading & cleaning was fun I enjoyed it immensely, but just try and relax and enjoy the unknown, it’s a wonderful journey ahead.. Remember no matter how much you stress over something it’s not going to change the outcome. I need to take my own advice occasionally. Think we both need to let Mr FW & adorable FW Hound rub off on us. Looking forward to BW’s arrival!

  42. Dear Mrs. Frugalwoods,
    I love the way you write! The photos of Frugalhound are delightful. I am always so happy when I read a new post, you are so right about …everything.
    You and Mr Frugalwoods will be great parents, for sure!
    I also enjoy simple life, I don`t like to be owned by my stuff. I also use hand-me-downs for my kids. Society dictates : you buy lots of new shiny stuff for your kids= you are a great parent. I think not. The things that make a difference for the kid are the amount of time you spend with him, your patience, and the harmony in your home. Is not much , but it is sometimes hard because parents don`t always have the chance to get good night sleeps…
    Advices from other parents are good, but not in large quantities. Like you said, we are all different , our needs are different, and our babies are very different from one another. My two daughters are so different, I cannot use my own advices 🙂 I always improvise. My first born taught me to be responsible, to be 100% involved, to be always prepared to do anything. My second born taught me to be balaced, to take things easier and to forget about perfection.
    The best advices I`ve got were coming from people having two or more kids 🙂 . I am looking forward to BW`s arrival!

    PS. Mr. FW did a very good job with the dresser for BW`s cute little clothes!

  43. Love this bit: “There’s a strong push in our society for everyone to conform and fit into boxes, but that’s patently ridiculous. We’re all fiercely unique and expecting our lives to mirror one another’s is a classic exercise in futility. So, let’s all be confident in our distinct selves” Going to post it in my cubicle 🙂

  44. Thank you for this article, Mrs. Frugalwoods. I’ve read many of your posts, which I’ve found inspiring. Your self-awareness is really remarkable! There really is a steep learning curve when you have your first child, and you will hear crazy amounts of advice. The funny thing is, I find all the cliches true in one way or another. “Enjoy every moment,” “you have no idea what you are in for,” “you will never sleep again,” etc. all have an element of truth to it. There are times that I am holding my second child early in the morning, having had very little sleep, thinking, “I will never get this moment back, and it is precious.” There are times when a tantrum is happening, or something spills after I just mopped, or I’m late for something because I’m changing another blowout diaper, and I just have to laugh. It is stressful, I lose it sometimes, but it really is worth every moment. My world is forever changed in a way that was unfathomable before having kids. Oh, and sleep happens, but I really can’t say that I sleep the same anymore. I’ve always got one ear open for the kids. However, my husband sleeps like a rock 🙂 Thanks again!

  45. RE: the baby, like you said in the post, just do what works for you. I have complete faith that you won’t do something harmful to your baby. Once you’ve got that covered, it’s all good. The important parts are to feed your baby, show her love, and make sure you help her learn how to sleep. How you do each of these is up to you.

    With the crib mattress, she will be just fine as long as you aren’t planning to put down a lamb skin or some thick-pile blankets. Your baby will be able to sleep and breathe on a decently firm surface. Our kid actually slept on our memory foam mattress from 5-11 months with no issues.

  46. Loved this post. It reminds me of the author of “Carry On Warrior,” Glennon Melton Doyle’s posting of how she fought off a boat of “keeping up with the Joneses.” I use her technique all the time and it works. I posted a link to the article. It is well worth a read and adds to the conversation:

    The article is on Monastery and is called “Give Me Gratitude or Give Me Debt.” I am sure the readers here would love it too.

  47. Lol about the baby worries. Don’t worry, they’ll crap on everything and grownout of it quickly. Our new one loves to wake up at 11pm, cry and whine until she eats too much and then vomit all over my wife, myself, and any sheets/blankets around.

    And yesterday she projectile crapped on me so there’s that.

    Our washer has been running.near nonstop. Literally twice a day. But our sheets have never been cleaner (until they get puked on again)!

    Long story short, love is more important than long sleeve onesies. You can always throw a blanket onnth baby!

  48. That was so beautifully said! I do know that I’m a tad jealous of how you look at 7 months pregnant. I looked like that at 4! Then we had all of the baby’s clothes ready, but he wouldn’t fit in them. We had to get clothes for 3 month olds instead. 22 inches, 9 1/2 lbs. Who knew? 😛 Congrats on all of your self reflection. I think having this blog outlet will really be a blessing for you in the months ahead! 🙂

  49. Love your honesty Mrs. FW! Your blog is the first that I follow religiously and actually reply to. I feel welcome on your blog and look forward to your new posts. “Cheers” to Mr. FW for getting this site set up!
    As for babies, I worry every time, and I am always reminded to take it day by day. The first child, (do we have enough money?), the second one, (will the first get along with the second?), the third one, (will I be able to get all theses kids out of the door before noon?) the fourth one, (is 4 too many?) the fifth one, (am I getting to old to be a mom?). Then these beautiful bundles arrive and everything falls into place to create your unique family. I look forward to your continued cost savings posts while raising a family! Being frugal fosters creativity and community!

  50. I love the fact that you didn’t buy a replacement handle for the second from top drawer. Embracing the good enough

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