We are on vacation.
Hashtag: life; reality; parenting; humor
No rest for the wicked…
Oh, wait. I mean the mommies (smile and wink).
Greetings from La Jolla sunny California!
Several years ago, I was sitting in a meeting of International Women. I was seated next to a beautiful Danish woman. She had 2 children. I had 1. One 4-year-old daughter.
We bonded over that mere fact.
And, as we were virtually strangers, yet with something HUGE in common, we had a lot to talk about.
Okay—we had parenting and mom-ming and kids to talk about.
But it was one of the deepest conversations of my life.
We looked at each other and both of, respectively, said, “We are so thankful that we don’t beat our children.”
It’s as if we were leaning over to give one another high fives for keeping our children alive.
We spoke on HOW difficult parenting is. How hard it is to practice restraint. How MUCH you want to, well, basically, put your child in a VERY big box and shut the lid.
It was so refreshing to have an honest parenting conversation with another mom. A mom that looked like she had EVERYTHING together.
Because parenting is HARD HARD HARD.
IT, your beautiful baby, your precocious toddler—turns FOUR…FOUR!
And you think…have I spawned the devil?
And these precious creatures we have spawned literally live to drive us bat crazy. You feel as if you have no shred of self control left. You literally have to physically leave the presence of your spawn.
Parenting is hard. And I get so ridiculously crazy of these soft-spoken moms that are like “Blah, blah, blah…the beauty of parenting…AND MAKING BUTTER..” because I am all like…MY KID LIVED TODAY!!!!!
And I feel as if I should run outside and SHOUT IT ON THE ROOFTOPS!
And I feel as if they should literally make a MADE FOR TV movie about my heroism.
This woman. This stranger. She got all of that. We talked for a long time about how people really should praise mommies for maintaining control. We talked about parents that struggled with doing what’s right. We talked about how much help we need as parents.
We need help. The good parents. The bad parents. THE PARENTS. We need help.
Because our job is the biggest in the world. And it’s the hardest in the world. And we have little little little people that trust us for safety and protection and life—as they should—even while they are trying to snuff that VERY life out of us.
Right now I am raising my second 4-year-old. I say second, because my daughter was my first and she is now 10.
And she is the FINEST decade gal you will ever meet (decade gal is what she calls her 10-year-old self).
She is funny and kind. She is smart and hardworking. She is silly and fun. She is outgoing yet shy. SHE IS THE BEST!
I couldn’t ask for a more amazing child.
Yet when she was four—I thought she was the she-devil herself. And I could hardly see straight because she drove me so insane.
And I PRAYED that we would BOTH live through that phase. That phase of her being 4.
Stubborn. Screaming. CRYING…PUBLIC HUMILATION. Up the wazoo.
I felt ashamed every time I walked in public with her because of her meltdowns and fits and tantrums.
I wanted to return this child I prayed so hard to receive.
And I thought I would never make it past this phase of being the WORST MOMMY EVER!
Yet here she sits at 10 as the BEST version of any kid I could imagine building on my own. Like, literally, if I could design a child, this child would still not come out as great as my decade gal.
And so I have chosen to write this post today for me. For you. For every HONEST mom out there that is pulling her hair, just trying to survive.
I write this for the solidarity of US!
We do deserve high fives. We do deserve made for TV movies. We deserve honor and recognition that our children are alive despite the fact that we are now bald.
You are doing a fine job. Maybe some days you want to cry because you feel like you are the worst. But take a deep breath. Go in the other room. Cry. And then breathe again. Because your 4-year-old will not be a 4-year-old forever.
One day your 4-year-old will turn into your decade gal…and you will be able to look at your child and see that you have made it. You have survived. And you are doing a darn fine job of it.
Drink a coffee…Eat dessert. And breathe.
Because the teenage years are just around the corner.
I pulled out a journal that my mom sent me for my 40th birthday the other day. There is so much for me to write and see and say, and I wanted to begin to record.
But pulling out my journal brought me back to the last several years of my life and marriage.
If you have followed this blog since its inception 3 years ago, you would know that my husband and I have had to work really hard at our marriage.
One point, while we were receiving professional help, my husband was journaling. It was a good thing. Yet is was a VERY depressing thing.
While it was both cathartic and healing—it was just SO SAD!
And every time I read it, it was hard to read.
Hard times in life are hard. And we need to share them with someone we trust—but that doesn’t make it easy.
So when I pulled out my journal…during a hard day of just being me, being mommy, being wife, I decided to do something different.
I decided that I was going to write about the joys of my day. And while my children sat screaming and crying and throwing fits, I remembered that ONE moment of the day where they were pure joy—
And I wrote that.
And I giggled while I wrote.
And I shared with my husband what I wrote.
And we smiled.
Through the tears, through the difficulties, through the hard—we smiled…because, really, there was something to smile about.
Take for example, my family photo above. My 2-year-old delight (sarcasm inserted here) cried and pouted and shouted throughout our entire photo session. She was tired. She was sleeping. And she is two. TWO. That, in itself, is an answer for everything 😉
She did not want to smile for any photo. It was impossible. And as much as we tried, we just could not get that ideal and dreamy family photo that I had envisioned on the drive to the palace gardens where we were taking photos.
So we had to come to the conclusion to either leave her out of photos or just go with the flow.
And we did both.
When she wasn’t in the photos, we clicked magnificence.
When she was, we just had so much fun with her two year old pouty expressions…capturing not perfection but real life.
At the end of the day, when the gardens were about to be locked up, we wandered to the exit and just let the children run and play. After all, they could get dirty now that mom had what she wanted. That is when the sun actually came out.
No, dusk was on the horizon, but our 2-year-old Josephine ran and played and laughed and smiled.
And that is when my husband took back out the camera that he had already packed away and started to shoot.
And that’s when we saw her smile.
You know…It’s good to record life. The ups and downs and all arounds.
But sometimes we especially need to record the joys—because they remind us to smile!
I was dying today talking about my life with friends that I only have the immense love & privilege of seeing one time a year when I fly from Poland to the States to see and be with my parents and family.
Like…I was on such a roll—sometimes I don’t know how I pull myself off of the floor and actually walk around in this life-like motion at all. I should be more like Walking Dead Momma—and my kids should be GRATEFUL for that momma.
Anyhow—it totally dawned on me today that I am just a bit of drama.
You see, I thought my daughter was all of the drama.
I thought she got it from her daddy.
He is the Drama King. I made him a crown.
But today when I was recounting all of my guilt trips and psycho parenting moments with my children and my HOW DARE MY HUSBAND SAY THAT stories, my peeps…my tribe…those that will ALWAYS tell me the truth told me that I was the drama.
I literally had no clue. HERE I WAS—blaming ALL of the drama on pretty much EVERYONE else in my family.
It’s kind of like those that have problems with everyone they meet—turns out it is THEM! Yep—the ones with all of the problems.
Apparently, out of the mouth of true friends, I am that THEM.
But, please, please, please, please…let’s totally keep this a secret from my husband. I still need him to think that it is ALWAYS ALL HIS FAULT!
I need this.
It is what is best for the family, right?!
(smile smile wink wink)
Are you freaking KIDDING me?!
First I turn FORTY—as if that is NOT bad enough—and then I go to get my eyebrows waxed when the lady doesn’t seem to think that IT (turning 40) is FITTING enough–but now she must POINT OUT and ASK…
“ARE YOU ALSO HERE TO GET YOUR MUSTACHE WAXED????”
My laser eyes and deadly stare did NOTHING to hinder her from asking again, “AND YOUR MUSTACHE????”
I gasped as if I still have my 18-year-old glow and youth and not a STRAY whisker ANYWHERE on my face and answered her, “MY MUSTACHE????!!!! I don’t have a mustache!!!!!” And huffed loudly as I threw my awesome body (okay, lowered myself gently due to my aching back) onto the waxing lounge and pointed out that “I DO NOT, under any circumstances, WANT CRAZY TRENDY EYEBROWS! JUST SIMPLE WAXING…please.”
Before I got off the chair, she, DAFT AS A…???? Well, who knows what—something daft… ASKED AGAIN, “Are you sure you don’t want the mustache waxed???”
Yes, LADY! Very sure…
Or, I mean, do I have a mustache????
Go to mirror…
Squint, really, since my eyes are not the best.
Still can’t see. Turn glasses crooked on my nose so that I can see (all bi-focal style)…and re-peer.
Surely that is not a mustache, it’s simply glitter, right?!?!?! A light glistening above my upper lip????
And, so with indignance, I walk PROUDLY out of that salon…
Mustache and all.
Listen, I know the appropriate answer in ALL of our mommy lives is THAT OUR CHILDREN ARE OUR GREATEST BLESSINGS!
Therefore, Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and LIFE itself was created (of course, exaggerating on ALL of the above) for T.H.E.M.
But when you are a mommy—you FEEL as if you MUST only be mommy.
All the time.
Because, by golly, you created THAT life—you can just as easily TAKE IT AWAY (oops—wrong tangent).
No, really…You feel this gut need to be there 24/7 plus all of those hours in between that in mommy hood REALLY DO EXIST!
I know. Because I have been a mommy for 10 and a half years. And in the years that I have been a mommy, I have had, literally just today, A TOTAL OF 2 weeks WHERE I HAVEN’T HAD A CHILD IN MY PRESENCE since my firstborn was, well, BORN. (And those words do deserve ALL CAPS)
That’s 365 x 10 plus 6 months which equals approximately 3,830 days where life has NEVER EVER EVER EVER been about a single moment of me since. Now, take away the 14 days where I have been a mommy BUT not in the presence of a single child that was mine equals 3,816 days. Forget the fact that I am Facetiming them about 2 times a day—they are not hanging on to my shirttails, so it is still deemed “free”.
Ladies—There is something utterly overwhelming about that number. And, if you’re sanctimonious, spare me the comments, because that’s a crap load of LOTS of time dedicated to little people. Enough of a load to make you go just a WEE BIT insane.
And, even though, I am suppose to be in ARIZONA with 1/3 of my little people right now, I wound up here (due to an expired passport) ALL ALONE.
At first I was like, what do I do???
At first it was like—lie in bed. Don’t feed anyone. Take a long shower. Get coffee. Sleep.
A little boring—because, after all, children do make our lives FUN!
But the more days I have been relaxing here, the more I have realized that I have needed this.
To NOT be constantly thinking about scissors and rocks and crying babies and wiping my son’s bottom to save my laundry load from streaks later…
To not be picking stuck boogers out of the littlest nostrils and convincing the oldest that it is her SWORN duty to play with the littles for ONE HOUR of the 24 WAKING HOURS she has in her day so that I can sit and stare mindlessly into a dirty house.
To not be cutting crust off of bread—whichever parent invented that method of sandwich preparation—remind me to KILL YOU LATER, because, for some reason, my children KNOW it and CAN’T eat sandwiches with crust.
To realize that my house is probably the aftermath of the storm—but I am ALONE in my bed without physically seeing the dirt and grime and toys and laundry—so I am SAFE FROM THE STORM!
And the longer I am apart from my Tasmanian devils, the more I appreciate being their mommy. It’s like that Christmas chocolate you get that you put up high to only have a piece every once in a while because you want to make it last…NOT SAYING THAT I’LL STUFF MY KIDS UP HIGH SOMEWHERE SO THEY’LL LIVE (or am I????).
Simply saying—this moment of being without kids is allowing my haggard body, soul, and mind to reboot.
So I can go back and live 24/7 for another 3,816 days—upon which they will all be out of the home and I will be SOBBING for the days of insanity.
To end…my advice for you, mommies, out there. Maybe take a break from day 3,173 and go somewhere without kids and just lie in bed, be bored, drink coffee, shower, and reboot.
It’s totally worth it.
And, don’t worry, the house will be a disaster upon your return—as if you NEVER really left in the first place. BUT OH YOUR SOUL WILL KNOW THE TRUTH!
And that truth will let you live on!
Power on, Mommy—and travel alone!!!!
Yesterday started and ended in a tornado. If we had a storm cellar, I may have hidden down there. I don’t have twins, but I have toddler-like twin tornadoes that swirl through my home daily—and I just can’t keep up.
In a few short months, I will be 40. Did you read that correctly? FORTY!
That’s like the beginning of Phase 2 of life. And I feel great and look so forward to it.
But there is this thing. Having a baby at 30 versus 40 is a new ballgame. It’s like the NBA Stars in their prime versus the Dancing Grannies that move and kick at all rhythms, even though they are suppose to be kicking together.
I am kicking at my own rhythm and the toddlers are not kicking with the nearly 40-year-old me.
And when I feel worn down, I look the tornadoes in their faces and realize that, although I am in the eye of their storm, too quickly this storm will pass—and I will miss the mess!
I feel as if I failed miserably raising my first daughter who is now 9 (my toddler-like-twin tornadoes are respectively 1 & 1/2 and 3). I feel like I pushed her too hard, disciplined her too much, and expected her to grow too quickly.
Perhaps I feel as if I had to prove to the world that I was a fantastic 1st time mom? Perhaps I had to feel as if I had the world’s greatest daughter? Perhaps I just had too many expectations for myself in my mind—even though everyone around me told me to Stop. Enjoy. Love. Care. Laugh. Don’t stress. And Just be.
But I didn’t heed any of their advice. Before I knew it, my daughter was no longer the tornado toddler, and I miss every naked moment when she was running around in nothing but pink cowboy boots or singing and skating in flour skating rinks on the kitchen floor.
I miss the days when she invited the dogs to sit at the table to eat with us.
And I miss the days when she told me I was greater than Santa and any present he may bring.
Therefore, although I am nearly 10 years past the birth of my oldest — and far more feeling 40 than 30 — technically “nearly” the middle-aged mom of toddlers — I am TRYING … OH TRYING SO HARD — to get it right this time.
If you feel as if your life is a toddler tornado zone—remember me. And remember how I already miss the toddler tornado moments because I have already seen one child exit the zone and have come out on the other side. Oh how I wish that I could relive every moment with her in that tornado again.
I would actually throw open that cellar door and run out into the storm with her and say, “OH! Look! It’s snowing inside again, is it?!” And simply vacuum up the baby powder that dusted her doll house and carpet later.
Because, after all, how much longer will she truly believe that it snows inside?
But my other 2, my toddlers, are still there—living every moment of that beautiful snowball of imagination. Yesterday reminded me how glorious their brilliant imaginations are—and I intend, in my aging and wiser years, to soak it up this time.
And not rush it out.
I hope you throw open the storm cellar and run into the tornado with your toddlers. May snow grace their bedrooms and monsters be slayed in the halls.
May little Batman briefs and diapers with tutus grace your living rooms…
And may crumbs tumble onto your floors.
Because the toddler storm will end and your house will seem far too clean and quiet—and you will wonder where time went.
Seize the day, my toddler mom friends. Which means—you will hardly get to eat, sit, shower, or breathe—but seize the day in toddler imaginations, mess, and a good ol’ squeeze them tight and watch them squeal sort of day.
Enjoy your storms.
Here is my Facebook post from yesterday where I was inspired to enjoy the tornado versus get myself upset over the newfound work before me:
i walk up the stairs during maxwell and josephine’s nap time —this is what i find:
max in the hallway in his batman pajamas, hello kitty pink ballerina shoes, and gold princess gloves—wielding a pop-gun “sword” shouting, “I am fighting the monsters, mom!”
to which i think—is josephine sleeping?
so i walk into their room — where i find:
josephine trapped in her bed, standing up, , wearing a ballerina skirt and superman baseball hat shouting “UP! UP!”
i don’t stop there—i look around the room === this is what i see:
fish and turtle food everywhere.
every clean sheet that was once (only a mere hour earlier) tucked away waiting for the future use—strewn about the floor covered in fish food and turtle food.
but at least max is keeping our house free of monsters, right? wink emoticon
hope your day is made up of the most beautiful of memories. i know mine is!
AND THEN THIS HAPPENED:
and the night ended with baby powder all over the floor—because, you know, it snowed 😉 haha! #whenthemessendsiwillmissit
I was certain once I hit 30 years of age I would be content.
Happy with life.
Life equals good equals no more looking for the outside to fulfill the inside.
I was certain that would be the case.
I was wrong.
I am about to hit 40 in a year. So, I guess “about to” is a bit exaggerated.
Anyhow. 40 is around my corner. A few miles off (or kilometers, depending on which side of the world you are reading this) and I have come to the beautiful conclusion that age does not bring about contentment.
Attitude most certainly does.
We continue to live in a rented home and I don’t have the Jeep that I really, really want.
My belly remains squishier than I desire. My bank account smaller.
My bedroom doesn’t have a closet, and I really only fit in one pair of jeans. Unless maternity jeans count.
And as I look at everything around me, I am just so plain content it’s crazy.
When I was younger, I was certain that life would begin at 16. That is until I turned 16 and realized that life began at 18. But then I turned 18 and realized life didn’t really begin until 21. 21 came and I was certain that adulthood began at 22, along with the disappearance of my acne. Both didn’t occur. Well, I guess I grew up a little, you know, getting a professional job and all…
But 22 came, and that is when I was 100% without a doubt certain 25 must be the age of magical, grown-up, beginning. And, even though I was married and now living in a foreign country at 25, 25 just didn’t seem to be that age. 30…Finally with a baby in our life. Nope.
But as I near 40…what many call “Over the Hill”…I smile.
And I look back 38 years and see.
I see the little girl that had a muddy, sand-filled, boy-chasing, big-mouthed childhood. And I love looking there.
I look back to the awkward teenager, too skinny, with braces and absolutely horrendous hair. Still a big mouth. Rather athletically talented. And I love looking there.
I look back to the young adult, still too skinny, sinking grades, tumor at the base of her brain, and dating a guy she might just possibly marry. I look back to that girl that bought her first car with the help of her parents and the one that moved away and back home again. I look back to those young adult years and I love looking there.
And then I look at my married years. Exciting. Fun. Adventurous. Hard. Compromise? Say what!? Different country. Poor as a church mouse. No car. Cold. Walking everywhere. Different. And I love looking there.
30 came. Ah beautiful 30. I loved turning 30. With 30 my body changed. I finally graduated out of the child-size clothes. I birthed a baby. I matured emotionally. And I love looking there.
And the rest of my 30s have gone by with so much trouble and heartbreak and success and excitement, it’s unbelievable how much less than a decade can cover. And I look at it all. The sadness and gladness. The senseless and the secure. And I realize I am different because of them all. And I smile.
Even though I always thought that there was a magical age when contentment came and life changed, I learned I was wrong. Age has nothing to do with any of it. Attitude does. That is what I was missing over the last 38 years. The attitude of contentment.
I love my children’s hand-me-down clothes. I love our rented house. I love our 3 dogs—one being a ridiculously ugly farm mutt. I love our small rooms and no closeted house. I must admit, I am not in love with my stove nor stove fan (contentment is still obviously a work in progress in some areas, apparently 😉 ).
I love my husband and his graying hair and his endless wit.
I love my daughter despite her idiosyncrasies in being a child of 2 cultures and not much at all like her momma.
I love my son and all of his health issues and all of the money he costs us just to merely maintain his little lungs.
And I love my daughter, my youngest, that came in way too heavy, where I was cut open, and her cheeks that literally melted off of her little face. The girl that smiles and wrinkles her nose.
Contentment. It’s definitely not an age. It is not an item.
Contentment. It’s an attitude.
And I am glad that I finally got it right.
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Laundry with my daughter Josephine next to me goes something like this…
I put 3 items in (we have a front loader since we live in Europe).
She takes 3 items out.
I put 1 item in when she is not looking.
She still manages to magically take 3 items out.
I distract her again and throw handfuls in.
More piles on the floor before I blink my eyes.
And, before I know it, there is more laundry on the floor now than there was to start. Mom is tired. And it’s time for Josephine’s nap. But where is she?
Oh no! She’s heading for the bedroom next!
Quick. Slam door. Scoop up baby. Nurse her to sleep.
And, since baby sleeps in your room where you do laundry, laundry is officially over for the day.
So, the age-old question is: If there is laundry in a house with a baby, does the laundry ever get done?
When I am not too tired to figure out that equation, I’ll get back to you.
Probably while holding a baby in one hand and dirty socks in the other. Which should, then, technically answer your question 😉
Welcome to our world of parenting.
Here are the stats of the wee ones that made us parents:
Adelyne: 8 years of age. On the couch. Pleasantly happy at the moment.
Maxwell: 2 and 1/2 years old. On the floor. Had a great morning. Ate his oreos from Saint Nick for breakfast. Now miserably unhappy, fighting his little sister.
Josephine: The youngest. 10 months old. Did not have Oreos for breakfast but KNOWS…oh, yes, even at 10 months old, she knows which remotes work the television.
The problem is…Maxwell will have NONE of that.
Ruby Max, Elmo, Caillou! Is what you continue to hear him shout.
And, of course, our little 10-month-old drama queen is so traumatized that her brother’s grubby little paws steal her remote that she must flail her head onto my belly and cry (to put it mildly).
We are doing a GREAT job raising our children, right?!
In any case—we enjoyed every minute filming their Remote Basket moment and hope that it gave you a great chuckle for your day.
Enjoy our life of crazy—I guess our blog is perfectly titled, eh?!
b and r and our wee 3