By Gabrielle.

Libby reached out to me about participating in a home tour more than eight months ago, and then — poof! — she disappeared. And then one day, she sent me this note: “Hi Gabrielle! I can’t believe it’s been six months since I reached out to you. Sorry for the delay! We have had lots of things going on! We thought we sold our house without even listing it, and so we had to deal with all the things that go with that, like house inspection, appraisal, and showings. I started packing up the house…and then we decided not to sell. Did I mention that all of this was going on when I was nine months pregnant and then home with a newborn? Throw my toddler into the mix and things were very hectic!”

Phrew! Welcome to the Living With Kids Tour That Almost Never Happened! (A lot of times, the living part of it all gets in the way of the tour, right?)

I think you’re going to melt when Libby describes her mom and the role she’s inadvertently played in shaping her own expectations about motherhood. It’s really sweet. I hope you’ll think so, too. So please, everyone, help me welcome Libby!

Hi! I’m Libby. I am the mother of two children, Hazel and Everett. I have been married to my husband Greg for seven years.

Greg and I both grew up in Franklin, Indiana. We attended the same high school, although not at the same time — he’s five years older than I am. We met one weekend when I was home from college.

I am half Indian, so I have dark hair and dark brown eyes. My husband is a red head. So, I wasn’t sure what our kids would look like! However, they are both little clones of my husband.

I do all of the hard work and they pop out looking like Greg. It’s not fair!

Our daughter Hazel is three years old. Hazel makes me laugh all the time. She is a performer and loves to be the center of attention. She sings and dances around the house all the time.

Baby Everett is just over three months old now. He was born one day after Hazel’s third birthday. I was so worried that they’d have the same birthday and they almost did. We invited the grandparents over for cake and ice cream for Hazel’s birthday and I went into labor with Everett later that night!

Everett is my sweet baby boy. My dear friend told me that boys love their mamas with all their might, and I can already feel it is true. He rarely cries and has the sweetest disposition. He often snuggles into my neck after he eats and falls asleep. I don’t want that to ever end. I feel like my little family is complete now that he is here.

We live in Carmel, Indiana, which is just 15 miles north of downtown Indianapolis. We absolutely love Carmel. It was actually chosen by CNN as the best place to live in the U.S. in 2012. The public schools are fantastic.

My favorite thing about living in Carmel is that it’s so walkable. We didn’t know a thing about Carmel before we moved here and boy did we luck out with the location of our house. Carmel has a fabulous walking trail that we can access through our neighborhood. I’m one mile, by foot, to downtown Carmel where there are many restaurants, shops, and the public library. I often walk to the library and then stop at the butcher shop to pick something up for dinner.

We live a mile-and-a-half from an outdoor mall with great shopping and restaurants and a Whole Foods. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pushed Hazel in the stroller over to Whole Foods or through the mall to window shop.

We’ve been in our home in Carmel for ten years now. Looking back, the whole buying process was pretty crazy. We went to the open house and made an offer a few hours later. Greg had his second interview for a new job in the area, but hadn’t actually been offered the position yet. Thankfully, things worked out in the end.

We didn’t know much about Carmel at the time and only looked at three houses. I’ve always loved older homes, and my dream is to live in a 100-plus year old house.

Our house was built in 1989 and, although it’s not 100 years old, it did have some of the qualities I like about older established neighborhoods. The lot has tons of mature trees and though we do have houses nearby we do have a sense of privacy. We have slowly updated just about everything in this house and we’ve enjoyed making it our home.

My design style has changed so much in the last few years. When we moved into this house I was 27 years old and oddly enough, my style was more serious. My decor was very traditional with Persian rugs, brown leather furniture, silk drapes, antiques. You get the picture!

I really wanted to lighten things up after I had Hazel. I wanted the house to be more fun, so I started incorporating more modern pieces.

I love the look of modern mixed with old, I like an eclectic feel. We said goodbye to the leather and opted for a less expensive sofa with machine washable cushion covers. I got rid of the red walls and painted most of the house cream.

I love the look of white kitchens and baths. We updated our kitchen a few years ago and I am very happy with the way it turned out.

I love my living room. Greg thinks the room is a waste of space because we don’t use it very much. I think that will change once the kids get older. The room really represents my style with a white sofa, bookcases, antique desk and coffee table, and my beloved fiddle fig tree that I am constantly battling to keep alive.

I want our home to be a comfortable space where our kids always feel loved and safe. I want them to be able to play and to just be kids.

As I mentioned earlier, I am half Indian. My mother, a blue-eyed, blond haired girl from Kentucky, married a man from India, but they divorced not long after my little brother was born. My father and his family have never really been in the picture.

It makes me sad that I don’t know much about my Indian heritage. I am very interested in the culture and feel strongly that one day I will travel to India to learn more. I’m fortunate to have a few Indian women in my life who lovingly help me to bridge the gap.

When we were younger my brother and I were very dark and looked very Indian. My mom said that people used to come up to her all the time asking her if we were adopted. As I’ve gotten older, my skin tone and hair has lightened and I look more and more like my mother every day.

Thinking back, those early years were so hard for my mother. She worked two jobs to support us. We were often the first kids dropped off at day care and the last kids picked up. I have vivid memories of crying at day care and my mom having to pry me off of her so she could go to work.

Now that I am a mother of two, I often wonder how she did it. I struggle all the time and feel like I’m hanging on by a thread most days and I have all sorts of help. How did she do it? I will forever be in awe of her.

My mother absolutely shaped the kind of mother I have become. Nothing makes me happier than taking care of my family. I love making lunches and baking bread. I always wanted to be like June Cleaver. Sometimes I feel like I try too hard and constantly have to remind myself that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. My family will still love me if I heat up a can of tomato soup as opposed to making it from scratch from the tomatoes from my garden!

I think maybe I try to overachieve in the parenting department because my mom had to work so hard. Maybe I’m trying to do it all because she couldn’t?

As you can imagine, having just had a baby, my emotions have been running rampant. I am filled with love for my little family. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about motherhood.

I’m not going to lie; the adjustment from one to two kids hasn’t been easy. My heart is filled with love and I am so happy…but it’s hard work and I have struggled. I forgot about the sleepless nights in the beginning! I feel like I’m just now getting into a groove. Everett is sleeping through the night now and I am starting to feel like myself again.

It is hard to be a mom, it is hard to be a parent. It’s the most rewarding thing ever, but it’s also hard. I feel a strong connection to other mothers. I think one of your other readers said something recently about her tribe. I sort of feel like I am in a tribe with all moms. Like, I want to high-five other moms I see at Target.

“Look at us! We are doing it!”

I want to hug other moms I see who look stressed out or tired and say “I’m tired, too! I’m hanging on by a thread, too! We are all in this together. We are all trying to do the best we can for our kids. We all know how incredibly hard it is. We all know how pretty great it is, too. High-five!”

There are so many great things about living with my kids that I enjoy. The pitter patter of little feet. The noise, the bedtime snuggles.

I started a blog this year because I thought it would be a great way to capture the little moments throughout my days with the kids. I’ve always been really bad about remembering to take pictures. I thought the blog would help with that, and I use it as an online journal of sorts.

I have a few blogs that I routinely follow, and one thing I’ve noticed is that everything always seems perfect in those bloggers’ lives. They appear to always have clean houses and perfect outfits and dinner on the table.

I find inspiration through these bloggers, but at the same time I often wondered if I am the only mother who has a perpetual pile to put away or if I’m the only mother who has to stop and get carry-out because I don’t have something prepared for dinner. I told myself when I started blogging that I’d keep it real. Turns out, that is easier said than done. The urge to make things appear perfect is definitely ever present in today’s society.

I wish someone would have told me to hug a mom, high-five a mom, or buy a mom a drink. I hate to admit this, but before I had kids of my own, I was a little too judgmental of other moms. I had a very clear idea of how I wanted to raise my kids and would stupidly judge other mothers I saw out and about. Why would that lady walk around Target with her kids acting like that?  I would never do that. Why is that mother letting her kids play with electronics at the restaurant table? When I have kids I won’t ever do that.

I’m ashamed of myself. l know how hard it is and I do just about every single thing I said I would never do. I now know all too well why that mom is still in Target even though her kid is wailing.

I wish someone would have told me to have compassion. Having kids was the best thing I ever did, but it is hard work. I don’t judge anymore.

We all love our kids and we are doing our very best.

–-

Isn’t that the truth? Sad to say, I’m sure we’ve all rolled our eyes a little at the parents we think are doing it all wrong…despite the fact we were probably judging before we even had kids of our own! Libby, thanks for the reminder that compassion is the rule among us all. High-five!

Is anyone out there moved by Libby’s lack of knowledge about a big part of her cultural heritage? Maybe some of you share the same experience with experiencing more of one parent’s culture over the other’s? If you’ve got any advice to spare, please share. You know I always love hearing your perspectives.

P.S. – Are you living with your own kids in a unique way? Are you interested in sharing your home and experiences with us? Let me knowWe love to be inspired! And it’s a lot of fun…I promise! I should also mention, I have a goal to bring more diverse points of view to Design Mom this year. So if you don’t see yourself or your community reflected here, let’s make it happen — send in your details, or recommend a friend! Take a peek at all the homes in my Living With Kids series here.