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mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

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Real isn’t perfect and perfect isn’t Real

Have you seen my Motivation…

Because I have clearly lost it.

It’s January. (Now March – but I started writing this piece back in January. I thought it was fitting to leave it..)

This time last year I was looking at back at my year in review, analyzing the goals that I set and achieved (or missed altogether) the year prior  and setting new goals for 2012.  By this time in January, I had taken on multiple purge and re-organize projects in my house. Totally revamping my closet. I was reading a book (gasp!). I was taking up tennis. I even really – truly finally got serious about my writing and this blog.  That was my biggest resolution in 2012.

What do they say about the average time that people actually keep their New Year’s Resolutions?  Based on the drastic drop-off at the gym  this week of every year, my guess would be two weeks.   A FranklinCovey  survey found that “35 percent of respondents break their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January and only 23 percent of those surveyed don’t ever break them.”

So, I’m not that bad. I made it well past January of 2012. At least through the first quarter if not half way through the year.

But the truth?  I haven’t yet looked back to see what my goals were for 2012 for fear of how many I dropped at some point during the year or abandoned completely. I don’t have a single resolution or goal for 2013. Not one.

Still waiting for some New Years motivation. Hoping it gets here before the year is over.

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Renovating Our Own Cathedrals

I know I’ve been absent for far too long.

However, I did begin writing again earlier this week.  When I finish it, I’ll post it, but something else took precedence today.

And that’s just where I am this week. Pondering my absence.

In an attempt not to be absent in all facets of my life, I sent a text to a dear friend this morning to check in with her on a prayer request she had shared with me a few weeks ago.  Her response was a little like a mini jack-hammer to me. Not in a destructive way, but in a way that shakes you so as you can’t help but give it your full attention. She said that I had been on her mind and heart; that she had a feeling I needed to talk.

Little did I know, I really, really did need to talk.  So talk, we did. And it was Good – with a capital G.

————

I’ve talked about this before (Losing Myself in the Building of Cathedrals), but sometimes I think we get to a point in our lives where we are so busy building our little Cathedrals that we get lost in them. And well, there are times that it just has to be that way.  But there are other times, when we are busy working away on their little cathedrals, all the while thinking that our own cathedral – built long ago – is sturdy as a rock and standing the test of time – only to find out that maybe it’s not.

Usually things that were built way-back-when seem to be built better than the new stuff. It seems like older structures are more sturdy, more sound. But, guess what? Not always the case. Sometimes, the ancient things crumble. Especially if they aren’t getting the regular maintenance and attention they need.

This blog has focused on giving my cathedral the little stuff it needs so it can keep on standing firm while the building of the little cathedrals happens.

Sometimes that little stuff  means my cathedral just needs a new coat of paint.. and something like a girls trip to the beach adds enough color to your skin to take care of it. 🙂

Sometimes, our mom-cathedrals just need a little landscaping.. and a trip to the salon for a haircut – or a mani/pedi spruces things up and makes things feel tranquil again.

Sometimes it’s the simple little maintenance that holds it all together.

And then other times, a cathedral has serious foundation issues.. something for REAL that rocks it to the ground.  – People get sick. Really sick. People lose their way. They lose their partner. Or a friend. Or a parent.  — Serious foundation issues. — The ones that cause destruction, requiring total demo and huge construction crews to build it back.

Thankfully, my cathedral doesn’t have serious foundation issues right now.  But if it did, I know the construction crew that I would call in to do the job.

You know those friends. The Tried and True Friends. The friends that make you feel comfortable showing all of your cracks, at the same time making you confident in the beauty in your age.  They’re the friends that have Faith in the One Great Architect.  They’re the friends that He sent to me in my earlier building stages… and that the One Great Architect is still sending my way with each new phase of life.

——————

Today one of my most beloved and experienced construction crew told me just exactly what I needed to hear as I struggled to figure out what needed to be rearranged and renovated in my Cathedral.  It was simple really. Everything is in place;  she just reminded me that I need to clean the windows and let the light shine in on it.*  The light can’t shine in if you aren’t cleaning the windows regularly.

The important thing here is found in this quote I read today:

“How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you?  A place for you to go…  a place of women, to help you learn the ways of woman…  a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining and steadying you as you sought to become yourself.  A place of women to help you find and trust the ancient flow already there within yourself…  waiting to be released… A place of women.  How might your life be different?”  ~Judith Duerk, Circle of Stones

Do you have an expert construction crew? Do you consult with them often enough? And do you thank the ONE GREAT ARCHITECT for them and the gifts He Graced them with? Because, today especially, I sure do.

 

*  I need to give my faith life a little more time and attention.

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana – photographer unknown

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall (from the Huff Post)

I just read an article on the Huffington Post Life & Style Blog, and it really hit home with me.

Kudos to this list! It’s spot-on in terms of what I strive for in my motherhood. (And it supports my blog premise perfectly, so that’s a bonus.)

And if you only read the bold parts of the lists, you’re missing out on the real meat of it.

Read the list here: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

#1 – Find things outside of your motherhood that help make you happy.  (The MORES)

#2 – (THIS is a HARD one) Learn to say no to some things. Find your stress threshold and accept that yours may not be the same as the Supermom on the PTO, and that’s ok. Your kids need you happy, not winning awards and stressed out.

#3 – Make time for yourself and your spouse (significant other). Find a good sitter and don’t feel bad about leaving the kids behind to focus on your relationship. It’s better for the kids!

#4 – (THIS is an even HARDER one) I love the quote she uses here. I’m practicing so I can become more like this, but I admit it: I yell first and apologize second sometimes. I think it’s equally as important to admit when you lose your cool and explain to your kids that it happens, because I’m human, too. But the important part is to come back and do it again with a level head, so they realize that (though my response may not have been ideal) what ever behavior set me off needs to be corrected (just like I had to make my overly emotional response right.)

#5 – I’ll be their friend when they’re adults. Right now I have to get them successfully to adulthood. No, I’m not letting you have a Facebook page when you’re 9 and then posting pictures of you posing in the mirror like a seductress and tagging you in them.  You’re the kid. I’m the parent.

#6 – Two of my favorite quotes:  “I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.”  and  ” If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”  — I’d much rather that my little birds make the mistakes (THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE) now, while they are young and under our guidance and love… learn from those mistakes and put what they learn into practice as they move out of my tutelage.  Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

#7 – This one gets easier as they get older.. but I still struggle with it. I keep reminding myself that if I want them to be good decision makers (just like anything else), I have to give them the opportunity to practice making decisions.  Sometimes this means I have to stuff the urge to stop my 8-year-old from walking out of the house like this:

#8 – Again, I remind you.. this list doesn’t mean to say we have to be perfect, but these should be our goals. I hope my children don’t one day judge me based on the tone of our mornings, because I’m not a morning person and getting ready for school is a tricky one for us. None the less, I keep trying to improve on it.. and then we always end the day with our “BESTS” – Gratitude for the day. Sometimes I follow-up by praying for a little more patience in the morning. They pray with me and know I’m trying. (But the likelihood is that when they are adults, they’ll be telling their therapists horror stories about their childhood mornings..)

#9 – My kids get rewarded based on effort rather than results.  Performance evaluations and performance-based bonuses will soon be implemented in my house. (No, I’m not kidding at all, and there will be a blog post about that in the near future.)

#10 – Well, on this one, if you’ve only read the bold print, you’re covered.  Real isn’t perfect, and perfect isn’t real.

Ice Cream Scoops and Buckets of Frozen Margarita (The Liquid Store Chronicles – Part 1)

 

Motherhood can make you do some crazy stuff.

We all have that list of things we have done as a mom that we NEVER would have imagined ourselves doing pre-motherhood.

We’ve all been vomited on, seen things come out of our children that are either all too recognizable or completely, unimaginably, unrecognizable.  Our once pretty/clean cars now look like a crime scene. We have watched our bodies pay the price: sagging and bulging and stretching and wrinkling.. and on and on. And while those things can drive a person pretty crazy, those aren’t quite what I’m talking about in this post.

I’m talking about those times when you’re on completely exhausted, sleep-deprived, auto pilot and before you know it, you have  done ( or said) something that never would have happened before entering your motherhood.

We’re talking about the things that would have mortified us in our previous lives.

But alas, here we are in the motherhood with a resume that is full of embarrassing, disgusting, and down right terrifying job requirements. Still worse are those instances – oh goodness, all the instances – where level-headed, well-educated, socially adjusted, rationale was simply lost to the motherhood… in retrospect I wonder how we (me and my 3 little birds) made it this far.

~And so it is… M.O.M.-fession Time~

My list of horrifying moments includes the fact that I have taken a picture of my child’s, well… fecal matter… that was on the floor outside of the bathroom and emailed it to one of my best mom-friends in a fit of frustration over potty training.  – I plead “potty-training insanity” on this and therefore you cannot judge me for it.

{Insert pause so you can process what you’ve just read.}

I know, it’s gross.  I can’t fathom doing such a thing now, but honestly I was in a toddler-induced haze. You can’t think straight when you’re dealing with potty training, because honestly, whose brain really can deal with the fact that all those years of education are being put to use by trying to get a kid to rid him or herself of their waste in a toilet instead of having them sit in it?! The brain’s only option is to completely shut down and process nothing. It’s a self-defense mechanism, really.

Somewhere during that same time-frame (go ahead and wrap your head around it.. I had a ~ kindergartner, a ~3 year old and a one year old.. oh, and a traveling husband) I realized that things like sending disgusting pictures to friends weren’t the best way to deal with my stress and mommy-frustration.  Nor was the giant bowl of ice cream I was eating each night.  (Again.. given the circumstances, there was no such thing as a “work out” at this point in my motherhood, unless it involved chasing a naked kid who just got out of the tub and wouldn’t let me get them dressed.)  But we all have to have our motherhood survival tools.

Though, I could entertain the idea of cutting back on the ice cream a bit (but would not retire my ice cream scoop, instead re-purposing it), I was still leaning heavily on venting, prayer and a big cup of “Mommy-juice” after the kids went to bed each night.

Yes. Prayer and alcohol.  Jesus turned water into wine.  And He knows what He’s doing. It’s a good combination.  But the prayer comes first. Always.

Add it to the list of MOM-fessions.

Even better ones are coming.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I look back and think of those days (and how much fewer the MOM-fession instances are now that they are older), I am reminded of how many of my mortifying moments stemmed from having to take them all grocery shopping with me.  I was doing all of my shopping – groceries and otherwise – with all three kids (and oh how much less stressful life is now that I am not forced to do so).  You all remember how that routine goes. Something a bit like this:

(The only thing wrong with the illustrations here is that in the right column, my hair would have been in a pony tail, I would be in yoga pants – though not having done a lick of exercise – and my clothes would have spit up and Cheetos stains on them.)  Ugh. Doing the grocery store with kids is the stuff Mommy-nightmares are made of. Especially considering the following facts surrounding my particular situation:

I had a rambunctious and inquisitive 5-year-old boy, an almost-3 year old who was still potty training and did NOT stay still unless she was sleeping, and the piece de la resistance: an almost 1-year-old who was crying screaming if I wasn’t holding her and in complete protest of being weaned.*

I’ve mentioned that the child was blessed with an insane amount of cuteness. which saves her now, but then?  Well, at that age – it drew a lot of attention from strangers everywhere we went. Especially the grocery store. Every stranger that walked by felt the need to lean over into her cute little face and tell her how adorable she was. Little did they know that she was opposed to any one existing on the planet other than me.. which resulted in her rejecting their compliments with a hateful grimace, a good loud “NO!”, and a good solid swing of her hand. Yep. My kid beat up strangers in the grocery store – even before her first birthday. I would just walk around mindlessly saying, “I’m Sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” over and over like those were the only words I knew. — Except maybe for the interjected “NO! Put that down!” and “Sit down in the cart!” to the other two, in between apologies.***

(Oh, and have I mentioned that my WAPI husband was traveling for work 4 – 5 days a week?)

The important thing to note here is that just next door to our local grocery store that year – was the Liquor Store. {YES!!}

Wine = Mommy’s Little Helper. (Or instead of my now-preferred wine, buckets of margaritas at the time – yes the big buckets that you put in the freezer. – When I decided to cut back on the ice cream, I would use the ice cream scoop in the bucket of frozen margarita, just like had with the Mint Chocolate Chip.)

After reading the last few paragraphs maybe you’ll understand WHY I was crazy enough to feel the need to take three kids in the liquor store.

And I did. All three of them.

The first time I braved the Liquor Store with the kids I felt some apprehension and guilt for doing so… I wondered if people walking by would judge me for dragging my littles in there with me. I wondered if the people who worked there would even let me in with the kids. That would have been much worse than the judgement from others, to be quite frank. My fear didn’t last long, though, because as soon as we got through the door my soon-to-be-friend behind the counter reached down and pulled out the BIGGEST glass jar full of suckers** to give to the kids.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only Mom in the neighborhood who strapped the toddler in a stroller (so as not to let her pull the shelves over), hid in sunglasses and a hat and snuck into the Liquor Store with her brood of children – all the while hoping that the establishment wouldn’t tell me, “You can’t have kids in here.” (Because then I would have been faced with the temptation to leave them outside the door of the Liquor Store while I got what I needed. What? It was a strip mall and the wall/door were entirely made of glass. I could have seen them the whole time. — OK, I’m just exaggerating here. I was WAY too much of a paranoid, over-protective Mom at the time to EVER actually do that.)

And that jar of suckers was all it took for this to become part of my new routine. Grocery store, then Liquor Store.  And sometimes, Liquor Store then Grocery Store. I traded in my 5 minutes in the freezer section by the 1000 cartons of ice cream, for 5 minutes in the Liquor Store.

Here’s the thing: my oldest, The Owl, was around kindergarten-age about this time in my motherhood. And by the end of kindergarten he could read. I mean REALLY read. Almost anything you put in front of him.**** He would have read through the entire Magic Tree House Series by the end of that year and would wait with great anticipation for Mary Pope Osborne to release each new one in the series. We pretty much lived at Barnes and Noble.

I had worked with him for a long time on his letters and phonics, so I’m not sure why I didn’t see the next piece coming. But I didn’t  (I blame that on potty training brain, too).  One particular errand running day (before he started kindergarten) we went to the grocery store, but instead of going into the Liquor Store, we left and began the drive home. It was then that (from the back seat) the 5-year-old Owl yells, “Mommy, wait! Don’t you need to go to the Liquid Store?!”

WAIT-WHAT??!?! How do you know what it’s called?! Did you read that?! And oh crap, are you telling your teacher and friends that your mommy takes you to the grocery store and then the Liquid Store for suckers?!  

I wasn’t sure whether to be mortified that I had conditioned him to this liquor store routine or amazed that he had actually gotten the “qui” put together  from reading the sign out front or laugh at his very literal interpretation of the word he was reading.

So, I defaulted to another one of my motherhood survival tools: venting/sharing… and I called my mom, dad, sister and brother to share with them that their grand-son/nephew was a genius..  and that child protective services may be contacting them soon to take my children and check me into Betty Ford.

Yep..add this to the list of mortifying, I-can’t-believe-I-did-that MOM-fessions:  I’m the mom who taught her kid to read via the Liquor (Liquid) Store sign.

And yes, when my kid asks me what word did he first read, I will have to tell him that – technically – it was Liquor. To this very day, our entire family no longer uses the word “liquor”, but instead, it is always “The Liquid Store.”

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t the end of the Liquid Store stories..  by any stretch of the imagination.  Stay tuned for the next installment. It gets even better. And more mortifying. I may actually need to have a drink and say a prayer before I confess the next edition of the Liquid Store Chronicles…

(To be continued…)

* I’m not sure which thing has produced more nightmares in  my motherhood: Grocery shopping, Potty Training, or Weaning!

** I was just informed by a friend from the Northeast that some of you don’t know what I mean when I say “sucker”.. but that’s the Southern way of saying lollipop.

*** It wasn’t a big town.. it’s a wonder that word didn’t make its way around not to approach the crazy “I’m-sorry Lady” with the light-weight champ, disguised as a cute little toddler. (Can I call her a toddler if she wasn’t officially walking at age one?)

**** Oh how different each kid is.. one reads before kindergarten and another struggles to read in 2nd grade.

Making Friends with my Limitations

{Although it may appear so in the first few paragraphs, this blog post is not about my physical health and my love for yoga, so if the yoga mantras are corny to you or my rambling about my injuries gets on yours nerves, please hang with me anyway.. it moves beyond that.}

If you’ve been following along a while you know that I’ve been battling some injuries that make some of my “MORE” goals a little difficult. My last post about seeing the Ortho was followed by an MRI and some interesting news. My issues (this time) are because, well.. I’m getting old. The hip issues I thought I was having were actually caused by degeneration and arthritis in my back. I think the exact words they used were, “Have you been really active all your life, because your spine looks a lot older than it is?”  Me: “What do you mean?”  The PA: “Well, it doesn’t look like it’s 80 years old or anything that bad, but you do have more degeneration in your spine than you should at your age.”

—Just great. Because my saggy ass and boobs, wrinkly skinned stomach and knees; sudden mass of wiry grey hair, failing eyesight; joint issues, surgically repaired hip, stiffness; high cholesterol, early onset mental-pause, failing brain, and terrible memory weren’t enough to tell me that I’m old and just NOT what I used to be.   What I really needed was medical confirmation that not only am I getting old, but I’m doing it at an unusually increased pace.  (What I’d really love is if my run pace were increasing as well. Instead, it has completely halted.)  {Refocus, Jenny}  —

I’ve now been in physical therapy for a few weeks, and while my hip is better, the issues in my back are much more evident.  Each day it was slowing me down more and more. And I don’t do slow very well.  I keep reminding myself that this is a tiny little hiccup in my life and nothing – at all – major, so I should not complain. But the truth is I have given into the frustration here and there, too.

You may have also noticed in my blog writing that I mention yoga a good bit. I’ve come to really love it over the last 7 – 8 years. (WHEN I could manage to make it a priority.) Around the time that I went back to the ortho for hip (back) issues a few weeks ago, I also quit doing yoga. I’ll be honest, the whole “Don’t use your full range of Motion” directive from the doctor really took something away from the idea of my yoga practice. The part I loved was pushing myself to that full range of motions and beyond.. in order to get that super-stretch. Now, not able to do so, I figured I wouldn’t get what I needed from yoga. *

Realizing that quitting because I couldn’t do yoga “all the way” was really childish and stupid, I made the decision to go back last week.

The first yoga session went OK.. I could do about half of the poses with no pain, and fought the urge to be frustrated by my limitations in the one place that I used to be able to let it all go and reach my fullest expression of a pose.. and of quiet prayer. Yes, I know that this place should be church, but my three little woodpeckers birds are always with me in church, and truthfully I’m a little distracted by my efforts to make sure that The Starling doesn’t lift up my skirt, pull down my shirt, or tear a bracelet off my arm – sending a hundred beads flinging across the entire place.. bouncing around and creating a serious hazard for the rest of the parishioners. (Did I describe this in too great of detail to pretend that I don’t have firsthand experience with any of these?) And if by some true miracle The Starling is behaving (read: my WAPI husband has saved me and wedged himself between her and me – despite her protests), The Pelican will surely be in a needy, passive-aggressive, I-need-attention mode, which always means she’s attached to my side like a leach and leaning her entire body weight on me.. while I’m wearing fun wedges or high kicks (because it’s the one time a week I get to forego my flip-flops or running shoes). It’s like having a defensive lineman coming full-on from the blind side on a quarter back wearing big pretty wedges… now, you know the wedge-wearing QB is going down.  – Much like The Owl, who ALWAYS, I mean always, mysteriously falls sick on Sunday morning and puts on a pitiful case of “the Sunday Virus” – complete with his attempts to sprawl his 13-year-old, 100+ pound, 5-foot-4 self across the pews in the middle of mass.  None of these scenarios are very conducive to me (with my child-induced ADD) to focus on prayer. I know God understands and is just happy to have me – and my attacking little birds – there.

{Apparently, this is going to be one of those blogs where I go off on tangents a lot and have to bring myself back to the point I’m trying to make. Back to yoga class we go…}

Yoga has no bracelet-flinging, tackling, or angry teenage birds coming at me from all directions, so you can see why it’s a lot easier for me to find prayer time there. When a pose is hard and I’m shaking, I just think of my Warrior-God and offer up the intentions of my friends and loved ones. When flowing through poses I pray the “Our Father” in my head. During those moments of stretching surrender, I rest in His Grace and listen to what He needs me to hear. So why didn’t I focus on those things instead of giving it up all-together when I was given some physical limitations?

The good news is that I went back for a second class on Thursday. And the yogi began this class with something new.  These words: “Lately there has been a lot of talk about yoga causing injuries. But yoga doesn’t cause injury. Injury occurs in yoga when a person ignores their body and listens to their ego. Ignore your ego. Dismiss your expectations. Embrace your limitations.”

Yeah. Ok. Talking right to me.

Her words struck a chord with me and reminded me of another yoga class I used to attend regularly – one that is actually a Christian-based alternative to traditional mind, body, spirit practice. Each and every class begins with the instructor reminding us that “Our bodies are the Temple of the Lord. Honor your body. If it hurts, don’t do it. Be still and allow God to speak. Let go of expectations. Let go of judgment. Let go of competition.”

Somewhere in that second “return to yoga” class I made friends with my limitations. I let go of the competition I had with my “old” self. I let go of the expectations I had of myself, and I opened myself up to what good could come from my limitations.

And guess what? Although I couldn’t do every pose, I felt better when I was done. Physically and mentally. The tension was gone from my shoulders/back and my mind was at peace.

No matter what your particular religious beliefs are OR what level of fitness is (or is not) part of your life, there is a good message to be found in this yoga-speak…. And one that not only applies to our aging Mommy bodies and minds. But one that even better applies to our motherhood. My personhood (for lack of a real word).  The realization hit me that the physical limitations are equaled in frustration by our personal limitations.

Making friends with my personal limitations is a little more daunting than making peace with my physical limitations.

In the last couple of years I have realized something important about myself.

My stress threshold may be a tad bit lower than a lot of other people.

In the past, I have found myself getting resentful of – or even angry with – others because I felt overwhelmed with the level of commitment or expectations that were required of me. Sometimes it happened in the work world (way back when), but even more so since I have been a SAHM.

You already know my feelings about the way I think we overdo sports for kids. (The World Has Gone Mad) And there really are SAHMs out there who take everything they do to super levels.  (She Can Do It All..) I’ve been involved in PTO at multiple kids’ schools, and let me tell you, some of the PTO Moms could take over Major Corporations and take them to a WHOLE new level. In doing so, they commit themselves totally to the role in the PTO and forget that others may not be willing or able to do the same.

And I’ve been involved in other organizations recently that also expected serious – and very  specific levels of – commitment. Every time I would get overwhelmed and frustrated in any of these realms, I would automatically default to venting about how it was TOO MUCH or the expectations were RIDICULOUS.  My level of stress always became someone else’s fault.  And while it may be true in some cases that moms/parents have taken the levels of expected involvement (their kids’ and their own) to over-the-top levels, I realized that the real problem wasn’t always them. Sometimes it was me.

My stress threshold may be a tad bit lower than a lot of other people.  I get stressed OUT and require venting a lot quicker than a lot of other people (especially moms) that I know. The time, commitment and stress level involved that it takes to achieve an award-winning PTO is just simply a bit over of my acceptable threshold. (This is not meant to come across as me “bashing” myself.. I have my strengths, we all do. This is also not to say that I can’t handle a fairly big load of responsibility or stressful situations. I can. But I have come to recognize where my stress threshold is, and I know that it isn’t high enough to ever be the PTO President. Nor do I want to be. And I’m OK with that.)

As a Southern girl, I’m a pleaser. ~ A yes girl. ~  I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or let anyone down. While I embrace that part of my character – and it serves me (and others) well in many circumstances, at times it takes its toll on me, too. The problem I have with myself in this scenario is that – in the past when I felt the pressure – my natural inclination was to resent the people around me who seem to be handling more than I can.. or that I want to handle.  At some point in my motherhood (much like my “a-ha” yoga moment), I realized that I could not control everyone else’s expectations of me or change how much anyone else is willing to do, but instead I could work on getting to know (and get comfortable with) my limits.  I can be OK with the fact that I’m not willing to sacrifice my life and sanity to my (or my kids’) extra curricular  activities **, while not being bitter that others around me may be hoping for me to join them in their trip to the loony bin. Figuring out how to be involved within the confines of my comfort zone (not theirs) is the tricky part, but I’m getting there.

So here’s another area of life where I’ve been striving to find some balance… between that giving, want-to-be-able-to-do-it-all, yes girl – and the girl who is well-adjusted and self-aware enough to know when to say no. And be OK with it.

I realized this fact last year, and I made the decision to be ok with giving only what I was comfortable with.. even if it wasn’t as much as someone else was able to do (or expected me to do). And yes, even when I that means I have to walk away and focus my efforts in other places.

So I resigned a couple of my positions. Without feeling anything negative at all.  I found that “place” inside myself where I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any good “helping” when it prevented me from doing any aspects of my life well.

I’m working on getting more comfortable with approaching projects and volunteer work with an attitude of “This is how much of my time and energy I am able/willing to give to this particular thing. If that works for others or is helpful to them, then I’m happy to be part of it. If they need/want more than I can give while maintaining a semi-sane state of motherhood, then I’m out.”

It’s that simple. Or, at least, it should be.

If it hurts, don’t do it. Let go of expectations. Let go of judgment. Let go of competition. Ignore your ego. Dismiss your expectations. Embrace your limitations.

Identifying and accepting each of our own personal limits WITHOUT resenting others for not conceding to our limits takes constant work – for me.  — And here I thought that the physical limits were the hard part of growing up.  My arthritic back, failing memory and saggy skin have nothing on my attempts to get to know and accept my personal limits. So, I guess the newest addition to my “MORES”  is: making friends with my physical AND personal limitations – getting comfortable with them, so they work FOR me, not against me .

Just to be clear – making friends with my saggy skin is my least favorite on the list. I really wish my “Saggy” would just move out of the neighborhood, so I wouldn’t have to work so hard to befriend her.

*  Ironically, my back has gotten worse since quitting yoga.. even WITH PT.

** And I owe my kids better than a stressed out, over-committed mom.

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.

 

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.

Notice the Absence of “Cooking, Baking or Culinary Arts” Among My List of “More” Goals

I told my wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband back when we were dating that if he was (in some misguided way) under the impression that he was dating a gal who would end up staying at home raising kids, barefoot in the kitchen, then he was sadly mistaken.*

Who knew that 18 years later, I would be the stay at home mom of 3 – goes to prove you should never say never.

On one point, however, I knew what I was talking about.

I don’t belong in the kitchen.

First, I should tell you that I admittedly have a few “eating quirks”. For instance, I can’t eat any meat that looks like it did when it was alive. And I can NOT handle raw poultry that is still on the bone. I find it disgusting. I only buy boneless skinless chicken breasts. And you KNOW I don’t eat the dark meat, because there’s too much slimy stuff in that part (what is that?!).

Brace yourselves for what is next… 14 years into our marriage I have yet to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Because I’m not rubbing on a dead turkey carcass or stuffing crap into its hind end. (Don’t judge me.)

I trim the fat off of meat like a top-notch surgeon, because I all I can think about is the fat pocket that used to be a cute round cow.

No egg yolks.. really, y’all that’s the baby chicken!

Seafood is out – for a multitude of reasons, but I blame this on those young years where my cousins and I would line up around my grandparents’ looooooong table in assembly line style to devein and pick shrimp by the dozens of pounds. Pulling the little beady-eyed heads off of shrimp was bad enough, but when my aunts or uncles (or whoever happened through room) would walk by and remind us to pull the veins out, I would about vomit. Noting my disgust, my cousins would then find entertainment in telling me that the odds and ends of slimy pieces were the shrimp’s.. well, feces.  Over.  Peel it, devein it and clean it, yes.. but never eat it. After all it was just alive on those shrimp boats just a few hours before and I killed it. At least it could rest in peace somewhere other than my murderous stomach. And it’s way to chewy.

My aunt used to have a large piece of land in Mississippi where they raised all sorts of animals. Some of you would call this a farm, but it wasn’t really a full-fledged farm.  They did, however raise rabbits and turkeys for  a while. When we would leave our city life behind for a visit, I LOVED hanging around the rabbit pins. They were so very cute. I wanted to have rabbits at our house, too. Then my cousins told me that they would EAT the rabbits. What the hell?!  My mom is lucky that I didn’t break them all out of their pins and stow them away in our car to save them.

During my teenage years, I recall eating at an Asian restaurant with a lot of my extended family.. where my Uncle ordered some insane soup that came with a whole — intact — fish head on top of it. I was sitting directly across from him and the freaking beady little fish eyes were staring right at me – wide open. I could only envision that it died with its eyes that wide open. No fish for me. And quite frankly, this is also why a trip to China or Japan in no way interests me.

… And then there was the time we pulled up at another aunt and uncle’s house, welcomed by a cute Bambi-looking deer hanging upside down from a tree in the beautiful front yard, with blood dripping out of its mouth.  — When I protested they talked about how they were about to skin it so they could have it prepped for meat! These are people that can afford to go to the store and buy meat that someone else has already prepared, now mind you. They just did this for fun?! NO. Maybe I should just go ahead and become a vegetarian. Oh, yeah, and all you people who post your (and your kids’) hunting accomplishments on your Facebook page? You gross me out. (But I’m not judging you.)

When I was young and would try to cook with my mom, I remember repeatedly screwing up the measuring of ingredients and then her frantically trying to figure out how to salvage the dinner I destroyed. Yeah. That about put the nail in the coffin of my cooking interest.

Honestly.. why do women have a strange fascination with aprons? I have never found one necessary or useful. Most likely because the majority of the meals I make have been prepared by someone else – usually with names like Kraft, Betty Crocker, or Perdue.  I just mix and heat, at best.

Now, there are a few things that I actually do make. Hummus: Easy. Hamburger Stroganoff: Also easy. Potato Salad: Really simple – just throw everything you have in the fridge in there. Red Beans and rice.. to be completely honest, I can’t make rice unless it’s boil in the bag OR I have assistance of a rice cooker. And my one and only baked good that doesn’t come from a box? Hershey Bar pie.

But aside from those few, my kids don’t know the difference between some Pillsbury cinnamon rolls out of those cans and homemade ones. Really I don’t think they know that the home-made part is an option.. the dough just magically appears in the cans.

Speaking of cans.. I cut my finger on one just a few short months ago. A can of green beans. Of course this domestic achievement happened on a night when I didn’t have time to do anything about the cut – you know why, right? Because of the 4,000 activities my kids are involved in. (see here) And since I didn’t have time to wait a million hours at the Urgent Care facility on that night, I ended up being scolded in the E.R. the next day because I didn’t get there in time for the stitches I needed.. with this as my parting gift:

Because that’s just how I roll.

And not too long before the can-cutting moment of glory, I burned my arm  on the oven while taking out a pan of biscuits which I slaved over (read: I took them out of a bag in the freezer and sprayed the bottom of the pan prior to slapping them on the pan, placing it in the oven, and setting the timer.)

Oh, then there is the topic of my timers. So… it would probably seem that with the low skill level required for the type of “cooking” I do, one could never mess it up, right? Wrong. I HAVE to set a timer or it’s over. I am amazed at those cooking shows where people can have 4 different things going at once and know just when it’s time to take something off the heat. Not me. I’ve burned dinner twice in the last two months. Once because there was no timer to remind me to stir the red beans. After that sad catastrophe I was a stickler for setting timers to keep my child-induced ADD from winning out over an edible meal. However, I underestimated its power one night when I was so distracted by all the things running through my head that I apparently turned off the timer without realizing I had done it. — Dinner? Sushi take out.

June Cleaver, I am not.

No Stepford Wife here. (Just go ahead and insinuate such a thing and watch me lose my cool.)

What is the name of that book.. the “ UN-domestic Goddess”. Had to have been written about me.

Lucky for me, my husband’s expectations of his stay at home wife do not include being a Domestic Goddess. He’s just happy he doesn’t ever have to step foot in Wal-Mart of Target – or worry about whether we have toilet paper.

And even luckier, he actually enjoys cooking! When he has the energy to do so, he gladly takes over the reins in the kitchen. MY HERO! Back when I was working full-time, we had a standing agreement that whoever cooked didn’t have to do the dishes. I would rather do the dishes than cook.. any day of the week.

But the good news? I cook anyway (most of the time). And I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the fact that it isn’t a gift of mine. I actually feel good at the end of the day when I have pushed through my displeasure of being in the kitchen and put a meal on the table for my family. No matter how little skill it took to prepare it OR how many sacrifices of person and property that had to be offered up in doing so.

But I still won’t be wearing any aprons.

* (When I told other people this, they would always say something along the lines of, “Oh, you’ll learn how to cook.” Whatever, people. I don’t WANT to learn.)

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