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

Pinterest Success?

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I had a plan when I set out to Hobby Lobby. I was feeling creative and had a vision for the blank wall space in my kitchen. I just needed to get a few materials to start being an amazing DIY woman. I had pinned all of my favorite “Command Center” boards on Pinterest and knew exactly what I wanted! I threw my toddler in the car and headed to the store with ideas swirling in my head about how great this new ‘piece’ would look in my kitchen.

After about five seconds in the store, my toddler decided that this trip was not part of her plan. There was no way in Hell that she was going to sit in the cart, hold my hand, or act like an even remotely civilized human, but I was determined to start my project, so I headed to the chalkboards to get my supplies. I got to scan the boards for about 10 seconds before realizing that my daughter was pulling things off of the shelves. This back and forth went on for about 2 more minutes before I said screw it, grabbed the first board that seemed like it would work and checked out. My motivated mood turned sour fast, so I headed home, but I wasn’t completely disappointed. I had the board.

My husband hung it on the wall to see if it would fit, and it was perfect. It has stayed there exactly like that since the day of the purchase over a year ago. It has turned into an open forum for everyone who walks in the house. The latest purpose is a menu that my 10 year old son thinks we should have each night of the week. We have yet to have the right meal on the right day, but it is a wonderful conversation piece.

 

 

 

 

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!