5 Years

5 Years

260 Weeks

1,825 Days

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5 Years of milestones

5 years of holidays

5 years of not hearing your voice

5 years of needing advice, but not being able to ask

5 years of missing your hugs

5 years of grieving

5 years of wondering why death is so permanent

5 years of looking for signs that you are still around

 

Most people are talking about the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump today. Many people are tired from staying up late watching the election coverage. But today, I am tired from spending my night replaying your life and death in my mind. Trying to put on the mask because, after all, it has been 5 years, and people have moved on with their lives.

I feel small today. I am just a woman who is missing her dad. I am not thinking about national security, immigration, or the economy. I am thinking about planning a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs or homemade chicken soup with kluskis in memory of my dad. I hope that what’s left of my family will join me in celebrating his life.

Today, I say good morning to my colleagues, check my e-mails, handle student issues, attend meetings, as if it’s business as usual. I don’t expect anyone at my work to know it has been 5 years since my dad passed away and how hard it has been and continues to be. I wish that I could just scream out to the world, “Today is really hard for me. Please have patience with me. Please be kind to me. Please listen to me tell a story about my dad. Please let me honor him today.”

This got me thinking about people in general.  I see the SAME people every day, yet we don’t know anything about each other; anything meaningful anyway.  And honestly, I get the feeling that people don’t really ‘want’ to know more.  At first I thought it was just the culture of my place of employment, but I see it everywhere. I see this superficial relationship with neighbors, so-called friends, and acquaintances I’m around routinely.  It seems that a lot of people are projecting an image themselves and giving little investment to having meaningful relationships with others. Our world has really lost sight or simply minimized the importance of being genuine. We say the standard good morning. We ask the standard questions about the weekend. We gossip about the latest drama at the workplace. We like a picture on Instagram.

Has it always been like this? Are these shallow relationships enough? If I post something on social media and get validation, do I feel that people care about me?  The answer is NO, NO and NO. Since I’ve made this realization, I can’t help but wonder if I too have fallen into this behavioral trend as well… Is that why I find myself feeling isolated?  Who do we turn to when we really need to have an emotional conversation?

I am reading Daring Greatly right now, and I can’t stop thinking about how Brown emphasizes the importance of the people “in the arena with you” through it all. Of course my dad is irreplaceable, and he is missing from my arena. I feel the emptiness all of the time.

Although the people in my arena seem fewer and farther between, there are also amazing people who are in my arena. They are the people who I have had honest conversation with, the people who have seen me cry, the people who just know when I am struggling or seem off. I need to show gratitude to those people. So, thank you to the people in my arena who have listened to me ramble about my life and genuinely cared.  Thank you for taking the time to really hear me. I would like to foster more deep relationships so that arena can grow, and the only way I know to do that is to genuinely care deeply about the people in my life.

I challenge everyone to have a genuine conversation today. Ask someone how they have been and really HEAR the response. Ask someone to show you a picture of their children or their dog .Appreciate the things that  they are choosing to share with you. Make it a point to compliment someone on something that may otherwise go unnoticed. Let someone talk for the majority of the conversation instead of just waiting for your turn to talk. Practice really getting to know the people who you see every day. They might just end up in your arena one day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Boy without a Grandpa

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When I found out that I was having a baby boy, to be honest, I was a little disappointed. We have always had girls in our family, and we were used to baby dolls and barbies around the house, not footballs and action figures or (what my mom likes to call them) scary guys. We were all a little nervous about what it would be like to have a little boy running around our family. And then he arrived, and he has been making our lives better since day one. I could not imagine my life without a son.

But, there are many moments that sadden me because my dad is not around to help shape him into a man and teach him the traditions of the men in our family’s history. My dad was only fifty-three when he died, and my son will never know the man I knew. My son was only 5 when he lost his grandpa, and I am grateful for the moments that I do have of them together, although my heart aches everyday because I know that they would have inspired each other.

Things I wish my dad could teach my son:

  1. My family is from the south side of Chicago, so Da Bears were a big part of my childhood. My parents even had an old refrigerator with “The Fridge Perry” painted on the front. I remember get togethers in our basement to watch football and my dad doing the Superbowl Shuffle. My dad loved football, and he especially loved the Chicago Bears. My son has just started enjoying watching NFL games on Sunday, and I want my dad to teach him about the game. I want my dad to tell him stories about his football days.
  2. I want my dad to be there when all of the boys in the neighborhood start up a game of flag football. I want him to see my son celebrate his first touchdown and to give him tips and pointers from his personal experiences.
  3. I want my dad to teach him how to handle disappointments and mean kids. My son has such a big heart, like my dad, but sometimes he is too naïve to see when someone is not being a good friend. He needs man to man conversations from a wiser and more experienced man. It has a much different impact coming from mom.
  4. I want my dad cheering on the sidelines of his basketball games telling him that he is proud of the young man he is becoming. I want him to be there to encourage him and teach him. I imagine my dad shooting hoops with him in the driveway on a Sunday afternoon. And when I see my son practicing his new basketball drills, I long for my dad to listen to him talk excitedly about how he wants to be in the NBA. I will never fill that void.
  5. I want him to be there when he is struggling with a new skill. My dad was always a great teacher. He was supportive, patient, and kind. I have those qualities, but I don’t know much about “guy” stuff.
  6. My dad was passionate about gardening was always looking for someone to show how good his tomatoes were looking or how many green beans were hiding in the garden. My son would have given him the reaction he was looking for. He would have been so impressed with grandpa’s peppers and cucumbers!
  7. My grandpa and my dad both had a concrete finishing businesses. My dad was very proud of his trade and had a great work ethic. He never had a son to pass his trade skills down to. I want him to teach my son the importance of taking pride in your work. I want him to show him how to use a bull float, a trowel, and how to drive a bobcat.
  8. I want him to teach my son how to drive a stick shift. I will always remember driving in his truck when I was little. He would put my hand on the shifter and wrap his weathered hand over mine so I could feel the way it worked. As I got older he let me attempt to drive his truck. I never did figure it out. It wasn’t because he gave up on me, it was because I lost interest. How I wish I could go back to that moment.
  9. I want him to spend a cold winter day with my son reminiscing about his life as a boy growing up in the 1960’s. I want them to spend time looking through the old newspaper clippings of “The Toe” and the 4th of July parades. Or showing him his yearbook with pictures of his first girlfriend or old buddies. It’s just not the same coming from me, although I am so grateful to still have some of that memorabilia.
  10. I want him to teach him about our Polish Heritage. I don’t even know if he knew that much, but he knew how to make the best chicken soup with kluskis. I make this every year to celebrate my dad’s life. I want to pass this recipe down from generation to generation.

Mostly, I just want him here. I want my son to have the opportunity to know the man who shaped me. I can try to instill these values or traditions into my son, but no one will ever be able to replace my dad. My son will never have a grandpa and my heart breaks for him, but I appreciate the men that he has in his life, and he is turning out to be a great young man, but I can only imagine the impact my dad would have had on him.

You are So Lucky to Have Summer Off

 

Am I? I would love to work over the summer. The transition of working full-time to being a full-time stay at home mom is an emotional battle. If you think I’m lucky, let me describe a typical summer vacation day.

First, 7:30 AM, my toddler rolls on top of me to tell me to wake up and make her some hot chocolate milk and soup for breakfast. If I don’t comply immediately, I will be tortured with repetitive face grabbing and jumping on my head. So, I finally get up after 10 minutes of trying to fight off the 3-foot chocolate milk monster.

As I walk to the kitchen, the ten-year-old is already at the counter making breakfast. Score…one less kid to worry about. Until I see that there were no clean bowls, so he just filled my largest mixing bowl with an entire box of cereal. Oh well, at least he is actually working on his independence, right?

I think I can outsmart my toddler when it comes to getting her to eat a healthy breakfast, so I just make some scrambled eggs (which she loved last month) and tell her breakfast is ready, but the tyrant is no fool. She starts gagging at the sight of them. I guess she can just have the milk and a couple of vitamins. That’s healthy enough. And bonus, I tell the 15-year-old that I made her breakfast, and give her the eggs that were intended for the toddler.

Now, I have to get the 15-year-old to soccer at 9 and the 10-year-old to basketball camp at 9. Hmmm…maybe the teenager can score a ride considering that the whole soccer team lives in the neighborhood. Nope. No one can take her. Really?  Anyway, we are all set to go, and everyone is loaded in the car (which is a battle in itself) when my son realizes he has no shoes. We look for another pair, but apparently, he has lost all of his shoes.

Deep breaths…life could be worse. Fortunately, my son only hangs out at a couple of places, so we track down the shoes.

On the way to soccer practice, my daughter feels the need to continuously remind me that she is going to be late, while the toddler is making blood curdling shrieks from the back seat. I pull into the school parking lot and do a rolling stop as the teenager jumps out of the car reminding me several times that soccer ends at 11; don’t be late!

Onto the other side of town. Ten minutes in the car and the toddler is on her 20th problem. Right now it is a level 10 glass shattering scream that her back hurts. Now I’m on the verge of tears wondering how I will get her to shut up. We finally pull up to the basketball camp and the ten-year-old sprints out of the car! I’m guessing he is relieved to get away from us. At least I remembered to give him his lunch.

Down to one kid, unfortunately she is the most challenging kid that I have at the moment. She is still crying, so I toss her my phone because it is the only way to get home without losing my mind. I drive home for the remainder of the ten minutes in peace, which is the best part of my day. I walk in the door thinking that I’ll have time to clean up the breakfast mess, but then I realize it is almost 11:00, and I can’t be late, and we are back in the car.

I love my kids with everything, but I am counting down the days until summer is over.

Suffering Teaches Persistence

Part 1

“Get through your fear to see through the beauty on the other side.”- The Good Dinosaur

I went to my women’s group last night, and the woman speaking said, “suffering teaches persistence.” One of the lessons I learned through my dad’s addiction was persistence. I have always been an overachiever and felt like I had something to prove. When I got into my teenage years, I hung out with the wrong crowd and headed toward a path that would make all of my dreams and goals much harder to accomplish. As a naïve teenager, I was skipping school to party, spending way too much time with a boyfriend who was bad news, and making choices that would forever change my life. I just didn’t know or care at the time. No surprise that I ended up seventeen and pregnant. I was a disappointment to my family and myself. My parents were ashamed of me, and once the reality set in, I was ashamed too. I would not be going to college to be a news anchor; I was not moving to a big city to have a career in broadcasting. I was only trying to prove to everyone that I was not a failure.

Immediately I told myself that I was not going to be the typical teen mom who dumps my kid with my parents so I could still have my youth.  The emotional suffering of being a teen mom taught me to be persistent. I was not going to let this decision to have a baby at a young age define me. But, I had to make a lot of sacrifices. I was smart enough to know that I needed an education, so I spent the next four years after my daughter was born busting my ass to get a degree. I decided to go to school to be an English teacher because I always loved reading and writing and a teacher seemed like a stable and honorable career for a mother. I had never dreamed of being a teacher, but here I am still teaching middle school over a decade later.

Looking back, I realize that I missed out on the ‘typical’ college experience. I never went to a party, never lived on campus, never went to breakfast club or tailgated at the football games. My life consisted of 21 credit hours per semester, and I made money by cleaning houses on my days off from class. The rest of the time, I was focused on being the best mom that I knew how  to be to my daughter. While my peers were finding themselves, I was going to ‘baby and me’ swim classes and pushing a stroller around the park. I missed out on a lot of my young adult life, which prevented most opportunities for self-discovery.

This isn’t intended to be a pity party, but a lesson in persistence. Although, I suffered in a lot of ways as a young adult, I persevered.  I was the first person in my family to graduate college, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. There were times where it was incredibly challenging to see people my age living the life that I had imagined for myself, but I found some pride in creating a life for myself and my daughter. My daughter is now almost sixteen years old, and I am so proud of the mom I became and the young woman she is becoming. My hope is that she will learn from my mistakes so that she can live the life she has imagined.

Part 2-Suffering Teaches Persistence

Flash forward five years, and I am a teacher with a home, a car, and feel like I have proven my self worth. Then my dad got sick, and everything changed. He became addicted to prescription drugs and our family began to fall apart. His career quickly declined with the economy, his credibility was tanking, and my parent’s marriage was falling apart. Someone in the family is always the strong one, and I somehow took on that role. Although there was much suffering over the seven years of my dad’s addiction, and all of my efforts to save him failed, I never gave up.

As a young mom trying to figure life out, I once again found myself having to focus on someone else. I spent hours researching rehab facilities, talking and pleading with my dad, discussing solutions with nurses, doctors, and mental health professionals. I was trying to figure out how to get my dad the help he needed on a zero-dollar budget. I went to Al-Anon meetings, which left me utterly frustrated. I took him to Narcotics meetings. I moved him into my home. I took him to various rehab facilities. I was fighting for my dad until he took his last breath.

This tragic experience has shaped a major part of who I am. I may not have fixed my dad, but I know how important it is to be the person who does not give up. He needed me, and I was there.

I don’t give up when it comes to my students. I want them to be successful. I don’t give up on my kids when they test my patience. They need to know that my love is unconditional and that I will always be there.  I don’t give up on my marriage when we hit rough patches. My husband needs to know how much he means to me. I just don’t give up. And although I’ve faced more challenges in my life than I would ever wish for anyone, my life is one that I can be proud of because I am persistent. So whatever your are struggling with, know that your struggles will lead you to greater things.

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.”– Maya Angelou

Lesson 2-Loyalty

 Somewhere along the line a ‘little’ thing called loyalty became very important to me.  Because of my hypersensitivity to it, I’ve realized that our society honoring this idea less and less.  Some of the people that I come in contact with on a daily basis are lacking this character trait altogether. It has become so easy to just send a text or ignore a call to get out of our commitments, and sometimes I even catch myself wanting to follow suit.  People hastily dismiss the feelings of the person on the other side of that commitment or simply justify their disloyal actions and move on with life.

This observation has caused me to really consider how it became such a defining attribute to my character,  and I feel like it is related to the struggles  I experienced with my father’s addiction to alcohol and prescription drugs.

How does one show loyalty when dealing with an addict? A girl looks to her dad as her hero, at least I did.  There was (is) always a place in a my heart for my dad even when he was at his ugliest.  And generally speaking, I think this is true for daughter’s everywhere.  I realized that my conflict with this started when I was torn with staying loyal to my dad, my hero, even when he turned into the villain. Once doctors realized my dad had a problem, they were done. Business was closed, and they shut the door on my dad and the downfall of his existence.  No loyalty, no love lost.

If I could just give you a glimpse into how I knew my dad, you would understand the devastation that our family went through as we watched him kill himself, his family, and his dreams.  

 I learned that addicts are only loyal to their addiction, and they will do whatever it takes to stay faithful to their drug use. This means breaking commitments to people, even the ones who are loved the most. It starts with the small lies or excuses, but before I knew it my dad was calling me every name in the book if I couldn’t commit to helping him continue his high. No matter how much his words hurt, I knew that deep down my dad was still lost somewhere inside of this nightmare, so I stayed loyal.

I listened to him when he talked about the screwed up medical system. I stayed by his side in the ER, even if I knew it was just for the pain pills, I had heated discussions with doctors on his behalf, I gave him money, shelter, and transportation because that is what people do for the ones that they love. I know that meant something to him, and  I believe that I had a positive impact on his life. Some might say what I did was enabling him, but anyone who has ever dealt with an addict understands the mind-fuck the entire family goes through. I was not supportive of his addiction, but I wasn’t supportive of leaving him on the streets to die either. I wanted to save his life.

Whether it is being loyal about the seemingly little things, such as, a lunch date with a friend or telling your children that you will be there to support them at the soccer game, or the big commitments, such as, weddings and funerals, it is imperative to healthy relationships to keep commitments.  This is how the people build trust, and grow in a relationship. 

Memoir Project…Just a Glimpse

A skeleton with skin draped over his bones stands before me almost unrecognizable, except for his kind, blue eyes begging for someone to show him mercy. The tattered flannel shirt swallows his once muscular body. He has created his own personal Hell and his demons have forced almost everyone away. He has damaged too much, but how do I say that to my father?

Lesson 1…Truth is Subjective

 

It is impossible to tell the truth from a lie when dealing with an addict. I don’t even know when the addiction really even started. As early as I can remember, my dad always had a beer in his hand, but that was just normal to me. Everyone drinks beer, right? A thirty pack a day was the standard in our house. No big deal. Long car ride equals pack the cooler for Dad. This is all I knew, and I was a happy child living a good life. I had two married parents who loved each other, they had jobs, paid their bills, and everything made sense from my perspective. Then, when I was around ten my dad had to get his first major back surgery, again, no big deal. Then another back surgery, which made sense, since he was a concrete finisher.

As I got into middle school, I realized that everyone else’s parents weren’t bringing beer to the football games. I didn’t realize until much later that my dad could or would never pick me up from school functions because he didn’t want to drink and drive. I respected him for this instead of being upset about it. So, I was already at phase one of dealing with an addict, making excuses. I just didn’t know it. I also didn’t know if he was already addicted to the prescription pills that he received from his back surgery. It wasn’t even on my radar. Fast forward four years, and another surgery. This time it is more serious. It is an eight hour whipple to reroute my dad’s stomach. Pancreatitis, which everyone thought was because of the drinking, but no medical professional ever confirmed this.  I’ll never know the truth.

The surgery turned out fine, and Dad was in recovery. Everything was going routine, but he had a stint put in, which caused blockage. This just led to more procedures, a longer stay in the hospital, and more prescription drugs. It started with a morphine pump and ended with refills upon refills of Oxycontin. I was only around 18 or 19, and I always asked myself, “Why would you give an alcoholic addicting drugs?” So that’s how it all started in my eyes, but I don’t know if that’s the truth. It is just my truth. The truth is subjective.

Everything got sketchy after that surgery. My dad would have “extra painful” days and double his pain medicine, so when he ran out of his first bottle early, it was a simple phone call to the doctor to get the prescription filled a day or two early. No big deal. I ask myself again, “Is this where the addiction started?” Not really a red flag when I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with narcotics or addicts. Although, I must have known in high school that things weren’t quite right considering I wrote an English essay about alcoholics.

Anyway, my dad kept milking the pain (or was the pain real?) and refilling the prescriptions needing them a little earlier each time. I always felt sorry for him because he was in so much pain, but then again he wasn’t in enough to give up the beer. He had to go in to talk to the doctors about responsible pain management, and he already knew how to play the game. He knew he needed to say the right things to get the drugs. Doctors were willing to keep writing the scripts, so he obviously needed the pain meds, right? This went on for what seemed like a long time, but I really don’t know the exact timeline. Everything kind of turns into a haze after awhile.

My dad was one of the most honest people I ever met before he became addicted to prescription drugs, but drug addicts become expert liars. My dad convinced our whole family that everyone in the entire medical field was crazy. Although, it wasn’t hard to agree with him because there were so many unfavorable interactions with the medical staff at various facilities that helped support his stories. And again, it did seem like the doctors had no problem refilling the scripts. The people that I dealt with in the medical field NEVER treated my family like we were people who mattered. It just seemed like we were a number or a business transaction.  Once the addiction became a problem, the doctors just wrote my dad off. It wasn’t their problem anymore, and he couldn’t force them to write scripts, so onto Plan B.

Go to different doctors in different towns complaining of pain and give a top notch acting performance (Or was it acting?) I’m not saying that my dad didn’t have pain; I do think he had physical pain, but there were layers of mental and emotional issues that he didn’t seek help for (or did he reach out?). There was always a doctor willing to give him one more refill. Trips to the ER became normal. One of the most shocking moments in my experiences with my dad’s addiction was when the ER doctor put the decision to write the script on me. I think that I was about twenty-two years old. That is another story for another time.  My experience with my dad’s addiction taught me not to trust medical professionals and to ALWAYS get a second or even a third opinion. The doctors don’t even tell the truth.

Go with your gut instincts no matter what, even when talking to someone you love or an expert in his/her field. The only person you can really trust is yourself. I am a better person, teacher, and parent because I learned that I cannot be passive in life. I have to have a voice and if something doesn’t seem right, I need to listen to myself and seek truth.

My Dad’s Addiction Made Me a Better Person

imageI should have written this a long time ago when the feelings were raw, but I didn’t, so here I am trying to bring back the painful memories of loving a drug addict. My hero, my rock, my safe place turned into my fears, my anxiety, my Hell. My dad.

My dad was the hardest working, honest, and loyal person I have ever met, and as I write these words I realize that those are the gifts that he gave me. I live my life with integrity and passion because of him, which is why a part of me died with him. My story, along with many others doesn’t have a happy ending. There are pieces to the story that I will never know. Most of the time life with an addict doesn’t make sense. I was constantly trying to put the pieces of our family back together, but I was delusional in thinking that I could fix my dad. There will be a series of writing devoted to my experience with drug addiction including the following topics.

  1. Truth is Subjective
  2. Loyalty
  3. Unconditional Love
  4. Compassion
  5. Commitment
  6. Grieving
  7. Forgiveness
  8. Persistence

Yeah, but She Doesn’t Work…

I have heard that so many times when talking to other moms about how I don’t feel like I am living up to my motherly duties. There is a divide between the working moms and the stay-at-home moms; who has it harder? Hands down, the stay-at-home mom. Not to sound like I hate being a mom, but you couldn’t pay me enough to stay at home with my kids. Everyone expects so much of the SAHM. I was talking with a mom one time apologizing for not being able to volunteer, and her response was, “That’s what the moms who don’t work do. Don’t worry about it.” That was food for thought. The SAHM should be able to volunteer in the classroom, bake the cookies, be on the PTO, coach the sports, give the rides, clean the house, wash the dishes, cook the dinner. In my head, I’m singing Cinderelli, Cinderelli, Night and day it’s Cinderelli. That is exactly who I felt like when I was home during my maternity leave. My own kids would ask me for things, and if I said no, the response was, “but you don’t even work.”

For the most part, the SAHM’s in my neighborhood rise to the societal expectations and beyond. They seem to be everywhere doing everything, while I can barely keep the train on the tracks. Some people would argue that parenting isn’t a sacrifice, but many mothers sacrifice part of their identities to raise their children. I am grateful that my career allows me to still keep parts of the person I was before I became a mom.

Sometimes, I am envious of the SAHM, and not because they get to stay home with their children, but because they WANT to stay home with their children. I stayed home with each of my kids for 6 months after giving birth. For me, that was the perfect amount of time. By the end of the 6 months, I was waiting for my alarm clock to buzz on that first morning back at work. “Please let me enter the world of people!”

I also feel admiration for the SAHM because they are the mentors for our community. I’m not saying that working moms aren’t mentors too, but I’ll never know where a working mom finds the time, energy or sanity to do it all! I admire the women who can! Either way, our kids spend a lot of time with the SAHM while we are at work. They are the first ones signed up on the volunteer list to host the class party or go on the school field trip. Personally, I prefer to send a case of water and some Oreos for the class party. I am almost relieved that I have work as an excuse from sitting on the bus and spending the day at the local museum with a group of 8 year olds. And that’s ok, or at least it should be.

Instead of beating myself up for sending my child in with the prepackaged snacks, I should be grateful that I can even send a snack. I shouldn’t look down on myself because I didn’t spend all night making a personalized cookie for each kid in the class. And I shouldn’t be jealous of the mom who took the time to make the personalized cookies. I am just now realizing that it isn’t a competition of which moms are doing more or who has it the hardest.

Finally, sometimes I feel sorry for the SAHM. I know when I was home, I didn’t get the time to eat a lunch in peace or have an hour break to run some errands. I’m not going to lie; I love that my working mom schedule allows for that mid-day free time. I can sit in the book store for 30 minutes and flip through a magazine without a toddler pulling at my leg. It is a small indulgence that is good for my soul. I feel that the SAHM’s work is largely underappreciated; it is just expected. At least I always felt that everything that I did when I was at home was taken for granted or overlooked. I didn’t get an e-mail saying, “Good job at loving and nurturing your kids this week! Go ahead and take the night off!” I didn’t get a bonus. Hell, I didn’t even get a paycheck! I didn’t get a gain in seniority. Although, how cool would that be if we got to move up the mom ladder with a rewards system. I know. I know. It should be rewarding enough just to watch our children smile, but seriously, I wouldn’t hate a free coffee if I did a good job at being a mom for a whole week!

Working mom or SAHM, we all need time for selfish desires that fuel personal happiness and fulfillment. I’ve come to accept what some might consider defeat… I know that I can’t do it all, at least not all the time.  Maybe I’m just a little selfish, and if I have a free minute, I want to catch up on the latest episode of Grey’s or have a cocktail with my husband while we make dinner together.

The point is we are all doing our best. I don’t go home at night wondering if the other moms did as much as I did that day. I am just grateful that I have the opportunity to be a mom in the best way that I know how to be one. Own what you do. If you are doing your best…that’s enough. The general message that I get from women is that they aren’t doing enough. It blows my mind because I am surrounded by phenomenal women.

5 Tips #SurvivingParenthood

We all have it. There is no escaping it.  Mom’s have dreams and aspirations that are put on the back burner because raising children is all consuming. It is especially rough to live in an era where social media is the ultimate bragging playground. The mom guilt really sinks in when we scroll through Instagram feed only to see a picture of a mom with two perfectly behaved children baking cookies and the caption reads. Just got home from work, cleaned the house, and got in my workout. Now time for some baking with my adorable babies. #beachready #workingmomsrule #yummycookies. It is annoying to even write that.

I feed into it too trying to make sure that my life looks as perfect as all of my friends, but there is no picture to describe how I really feel at the end of my day, but I usually feel exhausted and guilty that I did not accomplish all of my goals. One kid usually gets short changed, or I snap on my husband for no good reason, or my kids are eating their 3rd Happy Meal of the week, or the list goes on and on. And then I feel resentful because I know damn well there will definitely be no ‘me’ time. Are these other moms really this amazing? And if not, why do I let it get to me?

As a mom of 3, I have learned a lot about parenting. Having children who range from ages two to fifteen has really made me look at who I  am and made me question how I rate as a mother. How do I stack up in regards to having it all? What does it even mean to ‘have it all’? But, with social media, I have started feeling like I’m not doing too hot.

I don’t ever execute any of the thousands of ideas on my Pinterest Boards, I don’t make time to work out so I can post a picture at the beach with my amazing body, in fact, I have come to hate my body. I know that there is a big movement about loving yourself with all the imperfections and the no body shaming campaigns, but come on. There are things about my body that hell yeah I want to change. I don’t fill my calendar with activities to entertain my children.

Truthfully, most of the time, I’m so exhausted after work that I hope they will be happy just hanging out on the couch watching a movie, but that never happens. I am just surviving parenthood. I love my children with everything, but I find myself just going through the motions. I am just now figuring out how to find my happy place, which is unique to each person, so if you can do it all with a smile on your face, Go you! I just want to be happy. I want to enjoy the little moments and prepare for the big moments. So, how do I embrace this life without feeling resentful that I am bored most of the time?

  1. Drink alcohol. Seriously, I’m not saying go out and get hammered every night. But have a beer or a cocktail. Everything seems a little less intense after a drink.
  2. Laugh at the insignificance of it all. Remember life goes on…don’t let something small ruin your day. We really do have a choice when it comes to our attitude.
  3. Don’t get caught up in what everyone else is doing. Find what works for you and own it.
  4. Understand that people are posting the best parts of their lives on social media. It is a one second snapshot of their reality. And good for them if they have really found the happiness that they display. Maybe I should reach out to them for some parenting advice.
  5. Never give up on yourself. Don’t lose sight of who you were before you had kids. I am still working on this. It is ok to be selfish sometimes. It is actually better for your whole family if you are…this helps with the resentment.

 

My mom has always told me, “Get busy living or get busy dying!” So go have a cocktail and focus on YOU!