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mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

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April 2012

Hoodies and Lululemon – What We Wear is Not WHO We Are

Just a quick post to share an article I read this morning on Forbes.com.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/04/15/a-working-mom-defends-the-lululemon-stay-at-home-mother/

I LOVE the message I found in it: “We all have moments when we would gladly trade in our day for someone else’s….We each need to eliminate the caste system we have created in our heads based, in great part, on what people wear [or their job title]. We need to understand that clothing means very little. None of us lead the lives our appearance suggests.”

And just for the record, most days I would say that the biggest perk to being a SAHM for me is that I don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. to shower and dress professionally for the day before battling with the kids during the morning routine (aside from not having to cover my kids on their many sick days). Then on some days.. oh how I would love to be putting on a beautifully tailored suit and pumps.. but only if the suit was made of comfy Lululemon fabric.

 

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My Favorite 4-Letter Word

I mentioned in a earlier post that my Mom-in-love came to visit recently for Spring Break. (I call her this because mother-in-law has such a negative connotation, and she is not your typical mom-in-law.. she’s wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoy her company. She coined the term “in-loves” instead of “in-laws” a while back, and there is no better use for it than to refer to her as Mom-in-love!) Shortly after her departure my youngest little bird (who is 8) was goofing off with her wonderful-and-pretty-incredible Dad when she yelled (with great fervor) at him, “You scared the HELL out of me!” Emphasis on the word “hell”, of course. – He explained to her that terms like that are not appropriate for kids to use.. then we quietly laughed after she went upstairs.  I decided that it was far too convenient not to jokingly blame Grandma for my little Starling’s new addition to her repertoire. BUT if I’m being honest, it is more likely to have come from me.  My only shred of hope that I hadn’t taught my child to speak this way was hanging on the fact that “hell” is not usually my favorite choice of 4-letter words. I try so very hard to reign in such things around the kids (and everyone else), but honestly, when I’m tired there’s one sneaky little word that has a mind of its own. It just comes out without any cognizant decision on my part. It just happens.

And that got me thinking.

Thinking about the beginnings of my blog – one email in particular that I wrote during a really rough motherhood week a few years ago. My “there’s been some damage” girls used to get (and send) emails like this often, but their encouragement and response to this one was what would eventually help me work up the courage to start this blog.

And so, the following post IS that original email.. copied from my sent box and pasted here. With no editing or revisions.  Though that part was hard, because this was written to the kind of friends you can (and do) say anything – and everything – to. This conversation would have been edited had I been sending it to almost anyone else. That’s your warning. It’s real. And a bit raw for me. And it is likely a bit TMI at moments. BUT this is how I survived the early years of my motherhood (VENTING), and so I’m sharing it. In its entirety.  Transparency is a scary, vulnerable thing. But I’m doing it anyway.

Because after all, the whole premise of this post is that using certain words sometimes just make you feel better. Here’s my word:

From: Jenny
To: Christy; Julie
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 9:49:43 PM
Subject: Sh*%.

I’m tired. I’ve been cooped up in the house with sick kids for 8 days. Their fever is high enough to keep them out of school, but not out of my hair. They wake themselves coughing at all hours of the night and come get in the bed with us. I woke the other night with a knee to the rib to find two of them that didn’t belong in the bed with us and me clinging to the edge so as not to hit the floor. I’m tired.

The oldest has decided to be difficult and has developed a mental block towards having to write. All they do in Florida schools is write. Day in and day out. They write. I should have taken stock in those damn marble journals because I had to buy 16 of them at the beginning of the school year. And 14,000 pencils. Every time he has to write for homework, he throws a fit (picture an almost 10-year-old throwing a full-blown 2-year-old pounding and kicking on the floor of the grocery store style fit), fights with me and tells me “I’m not doing it and you can’t make me.” or my favorite: “I don’t care if I flunk out of school.”  His teacher goes to our church. Her daughter is in the Sunday School class next to his. We talk. She’s finding it challenging to get him to write at school, as well, though she will not give up on him and continues to challenge him in this area. He missed recess 4 days in a row week before last (he was out with a fever the entire last week) because he refused to do his classroom assigned writing. Lovely. Again today, he fought me all afternoon about writing his homework.

My husband came home at 5:30 in time to eat the dinner I cooked {have I mentioned that I hate cooking?!}  while fighting said kid over said writing homework. The husband promptly stated that the current fever-running kid was in desperate need of a bath from a parent because she doesn’t really clean herself. I say “go for it” – he says he has to go to a meeting at church. Note to self. One extra night without sex at the end of this cycle. ** {I can’t believe I am leaving this part in here . PLEASE see my footnote.}

Which by the way I just started AGAIN today on day 24 of my cycle. Again. It won’t stop. Pre-mental-pause. I typed it that way on purpose. Apparently I should have also bought stock in the Tampax company.

My nose is stopped up. My head feels swollen and is pounding. I buy vats of Ibuprofen and will probably die an early death from whatever disease I am getting from taking too much of it. If I had purchased stock in Ibuprofen, I’d be rolling in money and could pay someone else to make the boy do his writing homework. I am running the lowest grade fever ever. Just enough to make me feel exhausted, but not enough to curb the appetite I have because of said “period”  coupled with the “I’m-bored-stuck-in-the-house-and-eating-everything-in-sight” binge I’m on. And there is Valentine candy in the house that I am supposed to be putting in cute little baggies to send to school. But instead I am putting it all into my not-so-cute mouth which is currently covered in a very large and uncomfortable fever blister. Lovely. (Have we reached the point of too much info, yet?). Nope, we haven’t.

The pediatrician told me to start giving stinky kid #2 myralax twice a day to help with some issues that she is having.. that have nothing to do with the fever she is currently running. We are on day #2 of the stuff that helps her go #2.  Today it worked. Very well apparently. And apparently the low grade fever is just enough to prevent her from being able to lift her arm high enough to find the flush handle on the toilet. Every toilet I have been to in the house tonight has brown water with little floaters in it. Now you wish I had stopped at the last paragraph. But I’m about to make it worth the reading of this paragraph.

Refer back to paragraph #2 and take it into consideration as you read the following. Today was the big 4th grade “FLORIDA WRITES” day. State-wide “testing” they do in 4th grade to evaluate how effective their writing grants have been. The teachers are evaluated greatly on their class average on said writing test.

So, I get a phone call today and the caller ID showed that dreaded Name of the County School.

I answered it despite my fear.. because  this usually means one of  my kids is sick and I have to pick them up.

“Jenny, this is Shelby.” (My non-writing son’s teacher. All I can think is.. ”Oh hell”….)

“Your son gave me a heart attack today. He wouldn’t write during our testing time. He just sat there with an angry look on his face and twirling his pencil… with the veins in his neck protruding..”

Here it is ladies.. the moment that will make you so proud to be my friend….Have I ever told either of you that I curse without realizing it when I am tired?

And that [the WAPI husband] has even made jokes that he was surprised none of our kids’ first word wasn’t “shit”.. because I would say it in my sleep when they would start crying to nurse in the night.. or even still when they come in and wake me up in the middle of the night. (Ok, fine. In the morning, too.)

I like the word “shit”. Sometimes it just makes me feel better to say it. You know, just release the tension with the word “shit.”  Apparently it made {my Pelican, aka kid #2} feel better today too. Shit coming out sometimes is a good thing.

BUT — not so much in this moment.

On the phone – with my son’s teacher – I let out a loud.. all caps, bold, with exclamation point… “SHIIIIIT!”  Yep. I cursed my kid’s teacher today.

It just happened. Kind of like when I am asleep. You know.. at that point where you are too asleep to control what you are doing but awake just enough to be conscious of it? Before any conscious thought came to my head at all – like an out of body experience.. you know like you are listening to someone else say something in your head?

“SHIT.”

Blame it on the tired or the pre-MENTAL pause or the PMS.. or the combination of them all, but still it doesn’t negate the fact that I said it.

To the teacher.  On the phone. Who was calling to tell me… after my inserted “SHIT”.. that my son made her so proud, because after sitting there for 15 minutes.. almost breaking down, almost crying,  he recovered his composure (which she was surely realizing is a trait he did NOT get from his mother). And he did it!  He wrote the prompt in the given time allowed and put his pencil on this desk with a giant smile of pride on his face.

I can’t ever go to church again. I might see her and we’ll both be thinking about my big “SHIT” all the way through mass.

Sharing is good. If you can’t bring laughter through totally embarrassing moments, then you’ll just have to crawl in a hole, right? 🙂

I’m going to put these kids in bed and pour a glass of wine and dream of our girls weekend!

{End email}

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

** OK, I’m going a little outside of my comfort zone by not editing this part OUT, because yes, even I believe there is such a thing as too much information – but in the spirit of trying to be honest.. that’s what I really said in the email, so here it is. For the entire world to see.  Even though I didn’t really mean it and only said it in attempt to be able to laugh at the situation.  My WAPI husband is such a good sport – I’m thankful for that. I’m also grateful that he is comfortable with my open-book style in this blog. See? Wonderful and pretty incredible.. EVEN when I’m at the end of my rope with the little birds and take it out on him.

The Pinterest Effect

I read another blog post this evening that I really liked. To preface the actual blog link, I have to admit that I’m a girl who LOVES me some Social Networks*.. Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are part of my daily life (well, most days).  And I may just have tried more than a handful of projects via Pinterest.  I also can’t deny posting at least one of my own DIY project photos to Pinterest. So.. I’m in no way saying that Pinterest (or the fun projects and good ideas we can get from it) is a bad thing.

None the less, this blog makes a really good point.

It’s all too easy to look at other people from the “outside” and be led to believe that they have it all together. In turn feeling less than stellar about our own motherhood. It’s exacerbated by the presence of the social  networks we so dearly love, because it makes these “over-achieving motherhood moments” seem all too commonplace. I would venture to guess that these moms who post their DIY projects** and fancy cakes, also have seen the laundry pile up at some point in their motherhood***.  And certainly at some point in their motherhood they have at least entertained the idea of feeding their kids cereal for dinner when dad is out-of-town. They just don’t post pictures about the dinners that follow a Captain Crunch theme or the cakes that were brought to their table courtesy of Betty Crocker. (Or my favorite, those  Warm Delights where you “just add a teaspoon of water and microwave for 30 seconds”. Makes me happy with no effort. Don’t judge.)

{By the way, why don’t we share those things more often? I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will repeat it in posts to come,  –  I believe we do ourselves AND  other moms a disservice when we only show or talk about our super achievements, the happy moments and the successes.. how much better would we all feel about our own lack of pinterest-picture-worthy lives if we heard – and saw – more about the mundane, everyday failures, frustrations, and slacker-stuff? }The truth is our kids would rather have us playing a board game with them than spending that time hand-making one for them. And my kids are the most excited about Kraft Mac n Cheese night than any fancy recipe I may have seen on Pinterest and served them. I don’t believe that the motherhood (or at least not mine) is meant to be a perfect, beautiful monogrammed burlap wreath (as much as I love those gorgeous things and WANT them on my front doors!) — in reality it’s more of a “I wish I could pull a burlap sack over my head” kind of lifestyle.

So, back to the actual blog post that prompted all this talk, check it out at motherhoodmatters.com and don’t miss the question and challenge at the end!  http://motherhoodmatters.blogs.deseretnews.com/2012/04/10/your-children-want-you/

“QUESTION: How do you keep the right perspective on your importance to your family–in the midst of so many ideas and temptations to compare yourself with others?

CHALLENGE: Recognize any tendencies you might have to get wrapped up in discouragement, and set up a regular way to remind yourself that your children want you.”

After thinking about it, a little less Pinterest in my particular motherhood and a little more of my kids’ interests might just be a good thing. (I’m not going cold turkey or anything, because it’s good stuff!)

Plus, too much Pinterest makes me want to eat everything in the house.. and I try, even though I never am quite satisfied, because NOTHING I have in this house (yes, even my beloved Warm Delights) could possibly taste as good as those crazy recipes for homemade Gnocchi Mac & Cheese that I drool over, post to my “Recipes to Try” board and will likely NEVER actually attempt to cook . Because they made pasta that comes in a box with cheese already measured out. That’s just too easy to pass up. (Now, the link is here, so if one of you needs to super achieve in the kitchen – if it just plain makes you happy – and you want to try your hand at that Gnocchi, I will gladly eat it for you and give you positive feedback.)

* Yes, I know it isn’t grammatically correct, but it felt better this way.

** I guess that includes me, though I am completely happy owning the fact that the majority of my cooking comes from a box or a can — and I embrace any respectable short cut that saves me time.

*** And if they don’t, I guarantee you they are fast tracking themselves to the loony bin.

Silly String Wars, Lemonade Stands, and Chocolate for Breakfast

In other words: Spring Break.

Today is the first day the kids are back in school after a 10 day long Spring break. Brace yourselves for the next sentence.

I was NOT ready for them to go back.

I know. That’s sick, right?

Every mom – especially one who is attempting to maintain a sense of self in the midst of motherhood – should be jumping for joy at the sight of that big yellow bus coming to pick them up, right?

Not so for me this time. —  I’m as shocked as you are.

As you can tell from the lack of blogging in the last two weeks, I got totally lost in the motherhood (family), and here’s the thing..I loved it. Really loved it.

Actually our break from the regular routine began a little early, as my kids’ wonderful Grandmother came in town to visit the Wednesday prior to Spring Break beginning. So we’ve had almost two weeks of solid fun. Which also meant two weeks of blog-free living for me. WOW.. talk about a worth-while break from blogging! {Soon there will be a real blog to follow this one that delves more into the incredible things we experienced in the last two weeks…}

That’s just part of the balance we seek in our motherhood, I suppose. When to turn off the world and go all-in to the motherhood.. and when to come back out and find a little of myself  again. Today I get back to doing a few things for just me. If there is one thing I have learned so far in my search for that balance is that I should NEVER feel guilty for stopping every now and then and feeding my soul. Whether it be prayer time or expanding my mind or just plain fun me time.  It’s good for me and in turn, makes me a better mom. So, today, I’m taking MY OWN Spring Break – that has nothing to do with my motherhood.

I’m headed out to meet my sister for a day at the beach.  (And counting my blessings that I’m able to do so.)

Then tonight I’ll be loving mom with lots more patience and energy.

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