Category Archives: Motherhood

May 28th Lesson: Soaking in the Moments

I’ve been fretting for so long, I don’t know what I’m worried about anymore. I’m unemployed and on the verge of divorce, but I’m still standing and I’m still living each day. I’m getting it done. It’s different than I’m used to, but the sky isn’t falling. I’ve been learning to just take it day by day. People give that advice all the time [insert eye roll], but I never truly thought it was possible. I thought it was just cliche advice that people say when they don’t know what else to say.

I took my kids to visit family this weekend. It was fun and relaxing. I can’t remember the last time I looked back at a holiday weekend and thought it was relaxing. I’m always so busy getting things ready, cleaning things up, and people pleasing that I don’t even have time to soak in the moments. All I know is that I usually prep everything that needs to go in the car (everything from toys to sippy cups to extra clothes and diapers), and then fast forward and I’m exhausted after the kids are in bed with no recollection of how I got there.

The funny thing is, I did all the same stuff today – the prep stuff and the clean up stuff. and everything else in between. And I’m not exhausted. The only difference was that my not-yet-ex-husband wasn’t there. And I just didn’t try so hard, and then I wasn’t resentful toward anyone for not helping me. Normally, I’d prep the bags for the car and my internal dialogue would kick in:

Why do I always have to get everything ready?

What is he doing? 

Why isn’t he helping me? 

Do I really have to tell him exactly what to do? 

But lately, when he’s not around for me to “rely” on, I only have myself and just have to get it done. I’m no longer draining my energy worrying about why no one is helping me. It’s just me! And I’m getting it done!

There are plenty of times when I’ve spoken up and asked for help from him. Sometimes he would automatically help without a word, and sometimes it could turn into a fight. I was often criticized for my tone and told “I can’t read your mind!”

All of this I know. And you know what, I could be harsh toward my husband sometimes, but that harshness didn’t develop overnight. It was a gradual build up frustration and stress and discouragement. And I let even the tiniest of his hurtful words tangle around my already burdensome thoughts to the point of causing myself personal anxiety.

I enjoyed this weekend with my kids. I soaked in the moments (the good and the bad). I was present, and I wasn’t worried about anyone other than me and my kids. I didn’t even realize it until I sat down to write this just now. I’ve been missing out on a lot of moments all because my energy was zapped from worrying about things I’m already doing. The dark cloud that made me doubt myself is lifted.

Today I learned that I’ve been learning to live day by day and soak in the moments.

Stifle Me Not

May 24th Lesson: I have to figure out summer activities ASAP

My daughter’s last day of school is tomorrow. For the first time in, well, ever, I’m not working, my daughter isn’t going to summer camp, and my son is a talking-walking-need-to-wear-him-out machine. I have some activity planning to do or these kids are going to get more than bored, and for the more selfish reason — > I will go insane.

I have been a mom for more than 9 years. I have never really been off of work for more than a week (other than maternity leave) with both kids for an extended period of time.

I know, I know, what kind of mom am I?

Well, I’ve always been of the overworked variety and shared the parenting with my husband. He’s way better at this activity stuff than I am. I’m not used to having to plan anything. Usually, when I’m home, it’s a lazy Saturday morning in front of the TV, maybe some playing in the yard, or a trip to Target or the grocery store. And then it’s Monday morning again and I’m off to the office.

Not this summer. We’re entering Memorial Day weekend on a whole new level.

I’m making a list of things to do with my kiddos. Today I learned that I want this time off to be a blessing, not a curse, and so we’re going to try to make some memories.

Stifle Me Not

 

May 22nd Lesson: It’s Not All About Me

Two nights ago my daughter wanted to talk. Said she felt sad. She’s sad her dad isn’t around every day and night. And I’m sad for her too. Last night, she wanted to talk again. Tears this time. Her dad was around for a couple of hours and then he left. She wished he could stay longer. I’m sad too – for all of us.

Tonight she wanted to talk again. Full blown tears. She’s worried about when we move, she won’t have any friends, she misses her dad, she doesn’t want me to get remarried (even though I’m not dating anyone openly or secretly), and she thinks that I’ll spend more time worrying about her brother than her.

This is harder on her little brain than I realized. Her brain is on overload.

I reassured her that her dad and I will handle the adult stuff and she doesn’t have to worry. I asked her to trust us and we’ll keep her involved and make the best decisions for her and her brother. I could see the weight lifting off of her little shoulders and the anxiety softening from her big blue watery eyes.

This is hard. If I thought there was a chance in hell that he would be a better partner for me, I’d let him back in the door so that this burden wasn’t part of my kids’ lives. All I know for sure is that I don’t hate my parents for getting divorced. I love them the same. And I’m grateful for the new wonderful people that they each ended up marrying. I know my daughter can’t see that now, but she will. I know she will be okay.

She asked me if I cry when she goes to bed. Oh, if she only knew. I just said that I did sometimes. She’s only nine, but she has such an old soul.

My little girl – I want to shield her from everything, but if I do, then she won’t learn from it. She won’t grow from it. I know she has to learn to deal with change and feelings – the good ones and the bad ones. I will help her through it the best I know how.

Today I learned that this new normal is harder on my children than I realized, and it makes me so very sad that it’s not all about me. It would be so much easier if it was.

Stifle Me Not

May 15th Lesson: Quality Time is So Worth It

Today I learned that my daughter likes hanging out with me! Her brother was out with their dad. I picked her up from school and the first thing she said was “What do you want to do with me?”

Huh?

When I’m working I don’t hang out with my kids much. I see them, but I don’t usually have time to play. We spend time together, but not quality time. It’s more like rush rush out the door in the morning, and then in the afternoon it’s pick-up from school, hurry up to get dinner, maybe spend some TV together, but then it’s quickly bath and bed time. And on the weekends, that’s when I catch up on housework and catch my breath from the rat race of the week.

Today, she wanted quality time with mom. Okay then. So we played a little game of Scrabble. I beat her, but she didn’t care. Her mom played a game with her and that’s all she wanted. It was fun. I need to actually spend more play time with my kids. They are cool little humans.

Stifle Me Not

 

May 13th Lesson: Motivation from My Mom

Today is Mother’s Day. I went to visit my mom at her farm. Yep, my mom has a farm. She has lots of land with chickens, and tractors, and 4-wheelers. She has all the things I’ve never wanted in life, but it’s a nice quiet place out in the middle of nowhere to escape city living. It’s her little piece of heaven that she worked hard for and finally made a reality.

My mom has always been a working mom of 3 kids. She and my dad divorced after 14 years of marriage. I was 12, my brother was 10, and my sister was 5. My sister and I lived with my mom. My brother lived with my dad. We all lived less than 10 minutes apart and saw plenty of each other, so I don’t really see it as some sad story of a broken family. I’m not sure how my parents ever got married in the first place – they have nothing in common. Looking back, my parents whole marriage made no sense. I’ve told them this. They just shrug – they both got over it a long time ago.

During my teenage years between 13 and 16 years old, I watched my mom work long hard hours, and I helped clean the house and do laundry. I also spent entirely too much time watching my little sister (and helping her with her hair) and yelling at my brother to not do things that would burn the house down. I was the little home caretaker. I was home alone a lot. I could’ve seriously pulled some wild teenager shit, but I never did. Okay, maybe I did a little bit, but I didn’t have it in me to be too bad. It didn’t seem right.

My mom and I have gone through various mother-daughter phases. Of course she was my everything when I was a little kid. And she was a big role model for me when I was an early teen. She bought a little bungalow in the middle of her small old hometown so that we could be in a safe place with good schools. I watched her mow the grass and do yard work. She showed me how to balance a checkbook and told me the realities of what you can afford on a certain level of pay. She put up with me when I backed her car up into the neighbors car on the street (and she had to pay the insurance deductible). She didn’t kill me when my friends threw Zima bottles into our pool and ran away, leaving me to clean up the party mess (she made me go to church instead).

My mom tried her best to show me how to be smart and independent, but she also let me do fun girl things.

She let me talk too much on the phone and eat junk food. She didn’t censor what I watched on TV. She let me experiment with make-up (but wouldn’t let me leave the house wearing tons of eyeliner). She let me practice painting my own nails and plucking my eyebrows. When I was 11, she put braces on my teeth and throughout the process she would say “You’ll thank me someday,” (and I totally have many times). When I was 14, she let me get contacts so that I wouldn’t be so self-conscious about wearing my thick glasses. She let me hang out with who I wanted to be friends with and quietly watched as I made my own choices for who should stick around and who should go. Overall, she was about as non-helicopter mom as could be, but she wasn’t neglectful or uncaring. She just didn’t have time or energy to follow us around and monitor our every move.

My mom remarried when I was 16. That husband was a Loser (yes with a capital “L”). I moved out right after that husband moved in. She finally figured it out how much of a loser he was after it was too late. We watched my mom bounce back and get back to her old self after 7 long years with loser face. After that, she wasn’t going to settle for anything less than what she wanted and deserved.

She remarried again when I was 28 – the same year I got married. The next guy was a Winner and they were actually compatible. Too bad it took her so long to end up with her soul mate, but she finally did, and he digs the farm and chickens and living in the middle of nowhere too. I love that they are a match made in country heaven.

What I’ve learned from my mom through the years is to go after what you want and make sure you’re independent enough to do so. I haven’t agreed with every choice my mom has made, but therein lies the point – she has made her own choices. She has shaped her own way. She goes after what she wants and makes things happen. If something doesn’t go right, she learns and tries again. She got her farm. Thanks for the motivation mom. I will get my (non-farm) farm one day too.

Stifle Me Not