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for mommy

In the Bullying Business

Bully (v) – To use superior influence or strength to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants. 

That is my every day; being bullied. Bullying behaviors, intimidation tactics, that would have serious consequences, if exhibited by kids, are commonplace in the business world. 

There are anti bullying campaigns for our children. But, really, adults these days need a campaign. There are far too many adults who have completely forgotten their manners, with narcissistic bullying dominating the space. 

The bullying is a chameleon in the office space, cleverly adapting to its surroundings, but we know it’s there. It is manipulative and reaps havoc on team morale. It breaks trust in the working relationship, leaving anyone in the path of wrath, battered and tired. 

Today, I happen to be so incredibly tired of having to deal with it, that I am going to bed and it is only 8:45pm; that’s how tiring it is. 

To the adult bully, it is time to stop. Be an adult. Be a better person. Act ethically. Show some respect to the people busting their asses, for the right reasons, every day. Stop being in the bullying business. 

Always my Baby

The scene. A big boy bed and crib in the same room–my son’s room. Do you see anything weird about it? Me either. 

That’s because I am in denial my son is sleeping in a big boy bed–growing up, too quickly. He’s been in his bed for about 6 months, now. But, I don’t want to take the crib out of his room. His crib’s presence is the comforting, visual cue, that he is still a baby. 

He is my baby. He is my youngest. This could be the last time I see a crib in my home. It feels like removing it means I am done; done with the baby phase; done having babies (sniffle). There is somewhere in my Mommy vault of feelings that this breaks my heart. 

But, in this same Mommy vault, I also know that, despite my best efforts, I can’t keep him little, forever. I must move forward, to fully enjoy this phase. Since each phase goes by quickly. It would be unjust and stifling to helicopter parent over him. But, he’ll forever be my baby. 

He was born 3 years ago, today. Happy birthday, my little buddy. He unlocked more love in me than I can express. It’s that love you only get glimmers of, until you are a parent. 

We will celebrate his 3rd birthday with a cake and gifts. But I know, the greatest gift was giving birth to this little guy, 3 years ago, today. 

So, while he no longer is in his crib, and the day will come where the crib is out of his room. He will always be tucked safely within the crib of my heart. Always, my baby.

Skinny Jeans

Remember when you were excited that you bought the best, skinny jeans, while out on an impromptu shopping spree? 

In my Mommy world, that doesn’t happen anymore. The spur of the moment shopping spree, or, feeling skinny in jeans that are not leggings. Leggings, or jeggings, are my new best friend. They help me achieve the illusion of skinny. I can move. I can eat. 

With leggings, I can. With skinny jeans, I can’t. 

I do not need a cardboard-like feel, and a muffin-top look, where I can barely sit down, comfortably. No thanks, skinny jeans. 

About a year after having my first kid, I thought I had lost enough baby weight to give my go-to skinny jeans a try. The event is etched into my memory. 

I did get my skinny jeans onto my body, with a lot of effort. I sucked in my belly, put on Spanx and a ruched shirt, some heels; got myself all prettied-up. I went to get into my SUV, and, rip! 

Yup. Too bad crotchless pants aren’t a style, because that is what I was left with; a big hole, where those poor skinny jeans just couldn’t stretch far enough, to get me into the SUV. That day, my skinny jeans were just, too tight crotchless jeans that went in the trash, and officially, were replaced by leggings. 

Leggings are a better choice, for so many reasons. Every pair of pants I own, has some degree of stretch, for my own peace of mind.  

The alternative is “mom jeans”. 

Therefore, there is no alternative. I have stretch, not pleats, so I’m good-to-go.

Under Attack

  Out of nowhere, without warning–bam! You’re minding your own business, going about your day and, suddenly, you’re under attack. It’s terrifying, your heart races, throat closes-up, vision blurs. You think, “this must be it; I’m dying”. 

I wasn’t dying. It was a panic attack. It was my first and not my last. I had my first one while driving on the highway. I went from singing a Rihanna song to sweating profusely; hyperventilating with my throat closing, arms going numb and not being able to breathe. I pulled over, and waited. Trying to take deep yoga breaths. There I sat, blasting the air-conditioning; praying it would pass. It did. 

But, the thing about a panic attack is that from that point forward, the fear of another one, consumed my mind. The second I would feel a sensation that resembled the start of one, the attack was inevitable. This was my life. And, it actually got worse. 

When my anxiety moved from isolated driving panic, to all of the time anxiety, over nothing in particular, over everything. I decided to take steps to help myself. I was desperate. 

I did this because the alternative scared me more than the panic attacks. I was petrified of not being present for my family, for myself, for my friends. 

I was lost in my anxiety and needed a way out. I tried cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, mindfulness, Xanax. But what I found was that these only brought me temporary relief and still added to my stress because each one required planning to find care for the kids and extra time allotted to add to my already packed schedule of responsibilities. The Xanax just zapped me of my energy. I didn’t like it. 

So, I landed where I never thought I’d be. But, I have to be kind to myself and accept that this is where I am right now. It’s what I need to be present, enjoy life now, and function day-to-day without that forever heavy lump in my chest of worry. I am taking meds. There. I said it. 

I was incredibly skeptical, fearful of the side effects, which did kick my ass and make me a nauseated zombie the first week. Then, it all lifted. That heavy, blinding, suffocating fog of anxiety–gone. Finally. Gone. 

This was the best decision I have made for myself, for my loves ones, in a long time. I’ve freed myself from the self-loathing, from feeling like a failure for not being able to rely on my coping skills, to find my way out. I was in denial, as someone who never had this problem until age 35, that this was me. 

I’m sharing this very personal experience in the event this blog hits home with one of my readers. To the person out there struggling, battling. To the person smiling on the outside, smiling in all of the Facebook pictures, but feeling fragile, agitated and broken on the inside. A Mom, a Dad, a friend, who, in reading this decides to see if it’ll help. 

I am not in any way saying this is the fix for everyone. That it’ll fix everything. But, maybe it’ll make you pause, and stop being so hard on yourself. 

That’s where I’m at. I’m back. I am here. 

Bus Stop

  Today we joined the bus stop crew for Evie’s first day of Kindergarten. The anticipation felt like I was waiting to go on a rollercoaster; my stomach in knots, anxious, excited.  

The bus turned the corner, stopped and I watched my daughter get on the bus, for the first time. The doors opened, the bus driver welcomed her, and Evie walked right up the stairs. 

She didn’t look back, not for a second. She didn’t wave. She sat down next to her friend and they started talking and laughing. 

I desperately tried to take pictures of this milestone, while my poor little son screamed and cried because he wanted to go with her. He was, in fact, acting how I was feeling inside. How I was really feeling about it, deep down. What my son didn’t know is that I wanted to go with her, too. 

Sure, I cried a little in front of everyone. But, on the inside I cried louder. I’ll always cry. Because this moment is her, growing up. And, it’s happening quickly. I can’t control it, nor should I try to, or I would do more harm. I’ll joke about wanting to peer-in the windows of her class, or about doing a drive-by at recess. That is me wanting to make sure she is ok, having a good day, seeing that she isn’t struggling with the adjustment, like I am. 

But her starting Kindergarten is one of those parenting moments where I have to let her go. I need to be supportive and excited for her. Let her go forth into the world to find herself, her voice, find her way, figure things out, make her mark. 

To me, her Mommy, she looked so little on that bus. She looked so little in her new school, and its maze of hallways and droves of lockers. But, you know what? This is how it’s always going to be, for me.  

She’ll always be my little baby, no matter how big she gets. On the outside, I will do my best to let her go. To guide and help when asked, instead of being a helicopter parent. But, in my heart, as her Mommy, I will never let her go. 

Vacation with kids

  Vacation is rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, lazing around and reading a good book. Vacation is far from that, when it is a family vacation. You can tuck all of those relaxing accoutrements away, for this one. 

You will need to be armed with patience. A big reserve of it, to mentally calm yourself during the meltdowns, whining episodes, fighting, and general kid complaints that will replace your vacation pleasantries. 

My parental complaints present in this blog, do not outweigh my love for vacation. Especially, a beach vacation. I am merely being honest. There is no way I would decline going on a vacation, but vacation with kids is work for parents, with moments of vacation-like time. Going on a family vacation is a right of passage. 

It’s our time to make memories that become family tradition. We are the real-life Griswold family, and “where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We’re all in this together”. 

I realize it is not Christmas. But, I agree with Clark Griswold. We’re all in this together; from vacationing to all the other parenting follies. We are the “jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse”.  

It’s highly likely you will feel like you’re in a nuthouse, as you watch your kids act like assholes instead of being grateful for the vacation-time. You will be excited to introduce something you loved as a kid, to your kids and it will either be a win or a complete fail. As with most adventures in parenting, you have no idea what it will be, so you go for it.
For example, a paddle boat excursion turns into hell because it’s too hot of a day and your kid refuses to paddle. So you’re left a sweaty mess, paddling on your own, your whiney kid, in tow. How about a hike? This one, you can’t even get out of the house, because your kid is screaming and thrashing around like a wild animal, because she doesn’t want to wear socks with sneakers. Or, going to the arcade is fun, right? Well, it is until it’s time to count the number of tickets won, and one kid has way more than the other. This is when Fun-O-Rama becomes Cry-O-Rama. 

Of course, through the tears and the fails, there are glimmers of vacation-like activity, fun, and laughter with everyone. These encapsulate the memories; tradition. As parents, we hope our children will carry these memories with them and want to pass the traditions on to their kids, someday. The sacrifice will be worth the parental exhaustion, for our kids to have these memories; like we have our memories of our family vacations when we were growing up. 

Here are some lessons learned I’ll share with you: 

Helping hands–having Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins with you is hugely helpful, so that all responsibilities don’t fall on you. It is also more fun, with greater opportunity for tiring out your kids. 

Cooler–pack a cooler. Make sure that along with your kid snacks, juices, and treats you have alcohol for the adults. 

On the fly–Don’t plan. Planning creates pressure to stick to the plan. Then, any diversion from that plan creates unnecessary stress. Let each day take its course. You’ll enjoy your time more, this way. 

Routine–Bag it. Your normal home routine cannot be recreated on vacation. Your efforts to stick to it will be more stressful for you and your kids. Shift to spontaneity, it’ll improve your time. 

Age-appropriate–Ask other parents, with kids around the same ages as yours, about their vacation successes and failures. This will help minimize a complete vacation failure, where your kids are the wrong age for the vacation chosen; such as going to an amusement park where your kid isn’t tall enough for any of the rides or where you have to wait in line holding a writhing 2-year old, for a 1/2 hour or more, because of a missed Fast Pass opportunity. Or, going to a bed-and-breakfast with a one year old where that kid is the only kid in the place and you are sharing a common area with adults over age 40, who just stare, whisper and judge. 

House vs. Hotel–I vote house. My kids are loud, unpredictable, and need some space. I can have all their go-to food right there in the kitchen. If they need to rest I am not stuck in the room with them for the duration of their nap.It is nice to have a house, our own space. Maybe when they are a little older I will shift to like a hotel, better. But, I’m a cottage or house vacationer. 

So, parents, still go on vacations. Be courageous. Pack up your entire house, get into that car and go. Power-through the hours it takes to get to your destination. Get more brave, and take your first airplane flight with them. Because, even though having kids will completely redefine your vacationing, it is worth it. 

You will need to remind yourself it is worth it. Sometimes, frequently. Majority of the time, the reminders of how important the time together is, are nestled into the moments where you and your kids are enjoying your time. Pause for those moments, and smile at those memories you are making.

What’s in this Sangria?

In my Mommy life, I cannot hang with booze; but I like to. It’s a blast while enjoying the booze, but it’s a magnified kick in the face, the next day when you’re a Mommy. It’s not like the college days of sleeping-in, lazing around, zero responsibility. Just you and your hangover–doing nothing–commiserating together. 

Hangover day, it’s you, your head-throbbing hangover, heightened anxiety and your young kids. It’s still time to get up at the crack of dawn, with immediate kid requests for juice, snacks, popsicles (doesn’t matter that it’s breakfast), TV shows, and more. Then, there’s an immediate shift into full throttle whining, siblings yelling, and tormenting each other. 

Keep in mind, this all happens before coffee, too. 

But, don’t let my intro fool you. I still enjoy hanging out with my boozy friend. Since kids make it a fiasco to get out of the house, and sitters are expensive, and booze is even more expensive on a night out, the best way to hang out is to have a BBQ with friends and their kids, at someone’s house.  

In theory, this scene is ideal. The kids all play together, nicely. And, because they have other kids to entertain them, they aren’t filling every moment with a request for something, or saying your name repeatedly while clinging to your legs, saying, “uppy”. 

The kids go on their merry way, giving us parents time to visit, maybe even talk without interruption, and rekindle our friendship with each other, and with our other friend; booze. 

You’re more thankful for this time all together than you ever imagined, since having kids, typically, makes hanging out an impossibility. As parents, we accept this with our territory and parental responsibility. But, the fact that we hang out less, raises the odds of getting a little too close to our booze. 

It will sneak up on you–BAM; wasted. The fun, summer homemade mixed drinks are delicious and dangerous. They are the equivalent of jungle juice. You don’t even taste the alcohol. And, depending on the level of parental exhaustion you will either, fall asleep really early in a random location, or, become the life of the party. It can go either way. 

Most recently it was the yummy peach sangria that my friend made that did me in. I was sucking it down, relaxing poolside. As I was finishing my second glass, I turned to my friend and said, “what’s in this Sangria?”. Oh, it has Peach schnapps in it, with the wine and alcohol-drenched peaches. I, was in trouble. 

But, I stayed in it for the long haul and called it a night after some 1am Kan Jam. The next day, well, I was a lump, trying to take care of my crazy kids. But, hey, we all had fun at that pool party; sangria, friends and I.

Once Upon a Bikini

My daughter always pauses momentarily to stare at my belly button when I am in a bikini. I can feel her laser eyes assessing it. I wait for her question. It’s always the same question, “Mommy, why do you have a big belly button?”. 

At least it’s an easy answer, “I have it from having you and Spence”. Thankfully, she doesn’t question the mechanics yet, and she goes on her way. 

I am wearing a bikini this summer. People can stare and scoff, or whatever else. I am going to own it. I have 2 kids. I love them, even though they took my flat stomach, normal belly button and other pretty things, with them. 

Pool and beach-goers will have to deal with my popped out belly button, flap jacks and excess belly jiggle. I am a Mom. I deserve sun on my tummy, too.

Country Comeback

  It was 1998 when I started listening to country, thanks to my friend and her family. 

I needed a place to stay while my Mom was traveling, so my friend invited me and my dog to stay with her and her family. They soon became my family. My heartstrings were hooked, and my love for them, and country, grew. 

It was 2010 when I stopped listening to country; when it all stopped. 

I had to stop listening because only a few lyrics in, to what had become my favorite country songs, tied to so many memories of my happy Portland life, with my adopted family, I would start crying. I couldn’t stop the tears. I couldn’t predict when the tears would come. I missed them, our time spent together, happy sitting around with each other, being goofy. The simple joys of sitting around talking, doing nothing at all, but it meaning everything. 

Hanging out on the back deck or in the living room, countless backyard get-togethers, picnics, Jobs pond, driving around, trips to Christian camp, and whatever other shenanigans. Wherever they went, with me in tow, there were country songs tied to those memories. 

Just recently I tried again to listen to country. It still makes me cry, but it doesn’t feel right to not listen to it. Especially in the summer. The summertime is perfect for it. So, I added a new station to my Pandora stations; Zac Brown Band. It’s a start, but there’s still a long way to go. 

I may not even ever get there, again. But, at least I can listen to some songs”for a little biddy while”. I miss her. I miss them. I love them, and country. I’ll keep prayin’ for a country comeback. I’ll never stop tryin’. Katie, today I listened to a song for you that reminds me of you. It was a She Daisy song. Love to you always.

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