Mama Drops the F-bomb

Today has been one of those days.  One of those days.

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The day began pretty typically for a Saturday with the Hub leaving for work at 6:00am, kissing me gently on the forehead as I barely have the strength to move, both arms trapped under sleeping boys.  As he walks out, I lay, trying to remember when and how they ended up pinning me to the mattress.  I have no clue.  I move.  Eyelids snap open.  Coffee.  Heading into the kitchen, I am struck by the most debilitating pain in my foot.  Crumbling to the floor, clutching my foot with tears starting to sting my barely awakened eyes.  A Lego.  A mother-humping Lego.  And it’s still stuck in my foot.  Right in the sweet spot between the ball and the pad.  I can barely contain it but I am thinking it.  Really thinking it.  Fuck.  It’s not out loud.  But it’s more oozing from the pores in my forehead.  I am sweating obscenities.

I manage to recover.  With no help or concern from the little beasts gobbling granola bars and fruit cups from the couch, little eyes glued to glowing screen like they’re in some kind of trance.  I survey the house.  The living room is pretty bad.  The sink is piled with dishes.  I efficiently, almost smugly, loaded the dishwasher the night before last (yes, you read that right) only to find that we were out of detergent.  And then I forgot to get it yesterday.  So now, this morning, not only is the dishwasher full of dirty dishes, but all the dishes from yesterday are piled in the sink.  Sweet.

Looking over to the playroom, I am filled with anxiety and dread.  That has to be cleaned.  You see, we are in the beginning stages of selling our house and have people coming to look at it tomorrow.  Tomorrow.  And they are such a sweet young couple… The sight of that playroom may affect them so profoundly that they may never again be able to stomach the idea of bringing children into the world.  But more importantly, they probably wouldn’t buy our house.  I sit.  Staring- glaring in at the mass of plastic, knowing that I will have to find a spot for each and every piece of shit in there.

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Fuck.  Again, not out loud but in my soul, I am breathing this curse in deeply and spitting it out from far in the back of my throat.  Silently.  And with a smile.  Because that’s what we Mamas do, right?  We hold shit together.  For everyone.  With a smile.  Because if we can’t, everything falls apart.  Everything falls apart.  No pressure.

Mooch has a birthday party today and we have yet to choose the perfect gift so we are off to pick out something ridiculously pink, frilly and girly.  Just have to pick out clothes for everyone.  Walking into my bedroom, the fury of my looming task in the playroom returns in full force.  Standing in the doorway, looking down at the heaps of laundry I must also deal with.  But later.  I dig in, searching out shirts and pants and underwear, and socks.  God, I hate looking for socks.  Hunching over, trying desperately to find the match to a dinosaur sock, I am so engrossed in my quest that I don’t even hear the smallest child sneaking up and pouncing on my back, catching me off guard, sending me face first into an over-turned laundry basket.  Fuck.  This time, it’s mostly in my head but the Fffffff slips a little.  Hi Mama!  Got you!  And he runs off.  The quest is over.  Mooch will not be wearing matching socks today.  I walk out of the room, but not before I take one long look back…  Knowing I will have to tackle this later.

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Mooch is pissed about his mis-matched socks.  Zook won’t wear his coat.  Cub is bitching at me for something but I can’t even hear him over Zook’s angry wails.  We manage to make it into the car.  Zook continues with the sobs- now because he wants to take his seat belt off.  I stop to pick them up bagels.  Silence as they chow in the backseat.  The toy store is uneventful except leaving- which is always stressful.  Always.  And ends with me yelling that I am leaving as at least two kids run screaming, partially believing that I may actually be gone.  I am beat.  But we have a gift that looks like something a fairy barfed up so I think we are in good shape for this party.  Mooch steps in cream cheese.  And now it’s all over the car.  My wallet falls to the ground into a mud puddle.  Along with the card for the gift.  Cub stands, looking at my wallet, acting like a sponge, soaking up the murky water.  Pick it up, I am saying to him.  But he’s just standing there.  I’m not putting my hand in that… I vaguely hear him say as I am wiping cream cheese off virtually every surface with upholstery.  Scooping my water-logged wallet up, I glare at Cub.  I get in and just as I swing my arm down, I feel a bump.  Hear a splash.  Looking down, I see that someone has left a full bottle of milk on the center console.  Without the cap.

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Fuck.  This time it’s out loud.  Instant shame.  Did I just do that?  Was that out loud?  Did they hear that?  I desperately scan the rear view mirror.  Yup.  They totally heard that.  No one says anything.  Nothing.  Deep breaths.  I put the cap back on the milk. Put my seat belt on, after about ten deep breaths.  I pull out of the parking lot.  I know I should say something but I am just not quite sure what that should be so I just drive.  Finally, I just blurt out, I am sorry.  That was a really bad word.  Mama was really angry and frustrated but it’s still not okay for me to say bad words.  Quiet.  And then giggles.  Breathe Mama.

It was a day.  A bad day.  One of those days.  But now it’s over.  Now, they are up in their beds. They know their Mama isn’t perfect but they know she tries her hardest every day.  The playroom is clean.  The dishes are done.  And the laundry, well that’s still up there.  But tomorrow is another day.

Peace, Mamas.

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Mama Needs an Outlet

An outlet.  An outlet for frustration, exhaustion, stress and yes sometimes anger.  Mama needs an outlet.  Sometimes that outlet comes in the form of a few stolen minutes with a book (which does not rhyme or have pictures), a television show (with no songs or matching games) or an uninterrupted phone call (not with the nurse from the pediatrician’s office describing in great detail the color of your child’s snot).  The thing is we don’t have enough of them because we spend so much time with the f’n kids- which seemed like a great idea at one point…

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I am a sponge, absorbing all the fears, anxieties and concerns my children have.  I am an outlet for their worries: Who will I sit with at lunch?  Where does the library book go?  What if there is a fire alarm?  Will Emma invite me to her birthday party?  I lost my Croc.  Harry told me there are tiny bugs on my toothbrush.  Julie went home today because she had an itchy head.  Oh dear god.  All these worries are unloaded on Mama.  And in turn, I make their fears go away, all the while soaking in the worries and carrying them now as my own.

And they are heavy.

In addition to the concerns they have, there are more: Do I have enough gas to make it to the gas station?  And what if I run out of gas?  Do we all walk down the road together?  What do I carry the gas back to the car with?  Do I have my credit card?  Did that bill get mailed out on time?  When is that conference for Cub?  Crap, I forgot cat food.  How are we going to retire before we are 80?  Is the fucking government still shut down?  These are the day-to-day thoughts that run wild, flitting from one concern to the next.

And they are heavy.

On top of home concerns, there’s a butt-load of work anxiety too: When is that deadline?  Can I rely on her to have that to me on time?  Can I really refrain from screaming at that meeting?  What is my password again?  No, I don’t give a shit about how your dog woke you up last night or the cute thing he does when you walk in the door.  I hope I am the only one who can smell my armpits right now…  The work worry compounds the home worry and the kid worry…

And it’s heavy.  Break-your-back-heavy.

And it’s okay.  It’s normal.  I know this now.  I have accepted worry as a part of my life that will always be there.  Lurking.  As I would sit in the dark, nursing my babe, new to Mamahood, I would run through worse-case scenarios.  What happens if I drop him?  What if when I am in the shower, the cat smother’s him?  Is that real?  What happens if I wake up in the morning and find that someone has taken my baby?  Where would I look?  Thank god I turned off Lifetime and Dateline.  I spent so much time letting in all of this stuff.  And that’s just what it is, right? Stuff.  It’s taking up space in my already cloudy mind.  Taking up so much space that sometimes, I don’t have enough time to let in the good stuff.  The stuff I should be focusing on.

Mama needs an outlet.  I found that in running.   This weekend, I finished my first 5K.  And it felt awesome.  I trained for it, planned for it and did it.  All for me.  For the first time in my career as a Mama, I did something for myself.  I ran in the evenings, while husband put the kids to bed (added bonus), I ran on my lunch break at work (yes, my armpits were totally smelly), I ran on the weekends at 7:00 in the morning.  I ran in the rain.  I ran for me.  This was my outlet.

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Find your outlet Mamas.  Let out all that you let in.  Unload the worry you carry for your kids, your homes, your husbands, your jobs.  Let. That. Shit. Out.  Because then you can breathe again.  It has taken me eight years to find my outlet- far, far too long.  It was a disservice to my children and myself.  I could have been a better Mama.  I should have focused on the good stuff. I am making up for it now.  I have my outlet and I am not going to ignore the deep necessity to have something of my own.  It’s not selfish or greedy.  It’s enriching and empowering.  Find that outlet.  Even if it’s wine.

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Peace, Mamas.

Back on the Wagon… Again

My name is Sarah Russell.  I am a yell-aholic.  I have been yell-free for eight days.

So here we are.  Day Eight.  Many, many events have taken place in the past month or so.  Mainly summer vacation hit me like a ton of bricks.  The first couple weeks were quite euphoric.  I was craving the lax of no school, no obligations, no pressure… Until that’s just what I got.  Sure, the relaxed nature of our days is easier in some ways but I am not sure the pros have outweighed the cons because something happens when you don’t have to answer to school, sports practices, preschool pick-up and bus schedules: You get lazy.  And I am not just talking about lazy like Oh I’m just going to lay around— no, no.  Lazy like, I’m going to take a little break from parenting.  Lazy like, I’m going to ignore the bickering for just a little bit too long.  Lazy like, I’m going to say sure to that (store bought) cookie because you can get it for yourself and I don’t have to get up from Pinteresting to cut you up a goddamn piece of fruit.  You want to watch TV for an extra hour?  Sure.  You want to play video games past the 20 minute limit?  Go for it.  Your brother kicked you because you– oh nevermind.  Get another cookie.

And as I am sure you can imagine, the cart plummeted off the cliff at the intersection of lazy parenting and children gone wild.  Ugh.  Something had to change.  I was unhappy.  I felt like shit.  The summer was passing us by and I was like an indifferent, stinky high school student on summer vacation.  And then it hit me.  This isn’t my summer vacation.  It’s theirs.   What was my problem?  I was so looking forward to slacking off and then I realized I was wasting their vacation by being self-absorbed and lame.  Mama Fail.

So we went on a trip and spent a week at the ocean.  It was amazing.  On our last day, we had a very stressful travel itinerary and I knew that to keep us from living in a constant state of chaos while one humiliating meltdown blends into another, it was gong to take everything I had in me– which was not a whole hell of a lot considering the steady BAC I was able to maintain for six straight days (impressive, I know).  The night before, I panicked and fell back on the No Yell Challenge.  It was the only tool in my cloudy, liquor-saturated box.  I needed the No Yell Challenge.  And I needed to get Husband on board.  We needed to work as a team- not as ring leaders of t this dysfunctional circus we had operated for  the last couple months.

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Despite the whining, crying and annoying complaining of the next 24 hours, I managed to remain in control.  I did not lose my temper.  And when I was close, Husband became quite adept at identifying the bulging vein in my forehead and stepped in as needed.  We even high-fived each other.  Twice.  As I sat, crammed in between a sweet child and a fat, crabby Canadian (both snoring with drool hanging from their lips), I realized that I can do this.  And I owe it to these amazing little humans I brought into this world to be better.  Better at playing with them.  Better at listening to them.  Better at  guiding them.  

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So here we are.  Day Eight.  I’m doing it.  I have not yelled.  I have taken deep breaths.  I work so hard every day to be patient, kind and attentive.  It’s tough, I won’t lie.  But I feel so much better at the end of the day.  Instead of the guilt-stricken recap, I wrack my mind thinking of little things I can do to make them smile the next day.  And then I do them.   I have left tasks unfinished to read to them.  I have forgone errands to take them to the beach.  I have put my phone down to play with them.  Relishing the feelings which swell as they grab for my hand, turn to smile at me or as I catch them pretending.  This is their summer vacation.  My summer vacation is over.  Or maybe it’s just now beginning.

Peace, Mamas.

Mama’s Little Helper

My littlest dude loves to help his Mama.  With. Everything.  While I adore the way he looks up at me with those big innocent eyes, Help Mama!  Help you?  Pease?  Seriously how can I say no to that.  So we pull up a stool.  And he helps.  Whether it’s cooking, weeding the garden or putting away silverware from the dishwasher.  Including him in the process makes it take about twice as long (if I am lucky), tests my patience, forces me to take deep breaths and slow down.  But since when are exercising patience, deep breathing and taking my time bad things…?

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We move through life so quickly and barely take the chance to appreciate the interactions we have with our kids.  It was quite apparent to me when we sat down for dinner one night and began our evening ritual of sharing the favorite events of the day.  We got to Zook, who usually makes something up to feel like he’s contributing although at two and a half, he’s barely able to sift through the day’s events to find a favorite- or so I thought.  Zook, what was your favorite part of the day?  Cook Mama.  Cook [with] Mama.  It was my most tedious and frustrating task of the day.  The part of my day that caused the most amount of frustration because I had to slow down, take my time and breathe.  Sounds pretty ridiculous now, huh?  Yup.  Really, so much about life can be learned from retrospect.

I am reminded of a previous post where I talked about Committing to No and realized I really need to go back to that.  I need to breathe.  This high strung Mama needs to relax a bit because her kiddos are becoming high strung offspring.  Breathe Mama.  Soak in the moments.

I love my little helper.

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Peace, Mamas.

Love is Free

I’m going out on a limb here but I think everyone should have an opinion on something.  If you don’t have an opinion you can’t really be relevant.  So here goes.  I had a conversation with someone today about parenting.  But I think it goes deeper than parenting.  Read on.

A man disclosed to me today that he was struggling terribly with his sixteen year old son.  The child is in an alternative school setting as he was removed from a traditional school setting due to violence and complete disregard for rules and authority.  It’s true that traditional school is not the right placement for all children however, I feel strongly that the school failed this child.  Nevertheless, the child has been exhibiting violent behaviors, cutting and most recently drinking.  The father stated that he came home to find his son sleeping and when he awoke him, he found that he was heavily intoxicated.  I asked how he had disciplined his son to which he responded I gave up on discipline a long time ago.  My wife doesn’t back me up and if we can’t be a united front, it’s never going to work so I just stay away from it.  Me, probing: Don’t you feel like he was testing you? Like he wanted to see where your hard line was?  If you didn’t draw the line at drinking, do you think he may push that line further the next time?  Maybe… maybe.  But he was so sick, I don’t think he’ll do it again for a while.  He already smokes.  And I know he’s gettin’ into pills too.  Ah, what can you do.  Kids.

I’m not sure I mentioned this before but I am a social worker.  At my past job, I assisted people experiencing homelessness with finding housing, obtaining medical, mental health and substance abuse treatment, creating resumes, repairing credit and provided support with transitioning from years in prison.  In my current position, I oversee a wellness program for seniors, people with disabilities and families who live in public housing.  I have seen poverty.  Motivated addicts, coached offenders, supported parents who have lost their children or are in the process of getting them back and made reports for them to be removed.  And what I can surmise from all this I have bared witness, what I can draw from these life events which may appear critical, is that they are chronic.  They are part of a chronic cycle that was learned, from one generation to the next.  Passed down like a quilt or a recipe, these cycles of abuse, poverty and drug use are to blame for the generations of dysfunctional behaviors which will follow.  These cycles are powerful.  This life we know is not fair to humans who are born into a field which is not level.  These cycles take such incredible strength to overcome that it can seem nearly impossible.

Sounds discouraging right?  That generations compounded by poverty will just continue over and over again.  Well here’s the kicker: Love is Free.  Love, patience and time do not cost a penny.  This man, sitting across from me today need do nothing more than to go home to his son and prove to him that he cares.  Tell him he loves him and that he’s not going to stand by and watch him give up on life.  The father has not been provided the skills to do this because his father didn’t give a shit either.  It’s a total cop out to say that but it’s true.  Love is free.

I am often struck by a quote from Gandhi: Be the change you wish to see in the world.  Well here’s the change I wish to see in the world: I want it to be better for my kids than it was for me.  I want the world they grow up in to not have nuclear bombs, ethnic cleansing and genocide.  I want them to know only of kindness to humans and respect for this earth we share with plants and animals alike.  I want my children to recognize when a fellow human needs help.  And help.  I want them to find partners they love and make babies and love them.  Really love them.  No small feat.  But I would dare to wager that many, many parents want the same thing for their children.  Even the gentleman I spoke with today.  He is a good person.  He works hard.  He’s lost hope that his son can see and appreciate the wonderful things in this world.  Just as soon as he remembers how to care about those things, he can inspire his child to see them to.

So Mamas (and Papas) be that change.  I’m not a person who judges.  And I certainly don’t claim to have things figured out- and I very seldom give advice without being asked but I am right here and now telling you- begging you- to see that good in the world and challenge your children to find it too.  Because my kids have to live in this world with your kids.   And my grandchildren have to live with your grandchildren.  Be that change.  And love your children.  Give them your time.  Grace them with your patience.  It will not lighten your wallet but it will make our world that much richer.

Peace, Mamas.

Mama Needs to Rally

Do you ever just feel like giving in to this chaos?  Like you are walking around in circles and into walls all day long?  Yeah?  Well join the club.  There are many wonderful things about motherhood.  And I do so adore my children.  And sometimes I want to throw them through the wall.  The whining is what’s been getting to me the most lately.  And with the end of the school year, I am feeling like I just don’t give a shit anymore.  Cub went to school twice this week with a jelly sandwich for lunch and guess what he’s having tomorrow… Sorry little dude.  Although he looks at this like a treat, I’m still feeling shitty about it.  I wonder what those lunch ladies think when the see what the kids have to eat at this time of year… Who else sorta gave up on packing a lunch encompassing the different food groups?  C’mon.  Where’s my slacker Mamas at?

The truth is I’m just tired.  Husband forgot to grab a key item required for dinner tonight so Mama had to stop at the store on the way home from work- along with 40,000 other Mamas whose husbands forgot shit too.  Do you switch lines when the competency level of the cashier is revealed or when you notice a handful of coupons in the customer’s hands in front of you?  Normally, I am not a switcher but my anxiety about getting home, dinner, showers and the bullshit that would greet me at the door got the better of me.  I made two bad switches before I realized it made no difference.  I was stuck in a suck line behind a suck customer and a suck cashier.  Great.  My husband calls while I am pulling out of the parking lot.  I can hear screaming in the background.  Shit.  The high point of my day came when my dear friend texted me to inform me that (thankfully her children are nearly as screwed up as mine or I’m not sure we could be friends) her son told another child at daycare that she smelled like a penis.  Boys. Rock.  And that actually gave me some of my energy back and lightened my mood a bit.

When I pulled in the driveway, I could hear the screaming of the “chase game” from the driveway.  Rally.  Dinner was nuts.  Zook is crying.  Why is he crying?  He wants a spoon.  Wait he wants a fork.  Wait he wants ice cream.  With a fork.  Ugh.  Unload dishwasher, load dishwasher, pick up the corn and rice off the floor.  At this point, I actually almost started to cry.  I think because I realized that there wasn’t a clean kitchen towel in the drawer.  And I knew there wasn’t one in the basket upstairs either.  And yes, it sounds trivial but the absence of the kitchen towel midst the crying and demands of Zook, the whining and arguing of Mooch and Cub and the fact that I still had so far, so far to go before the calm could set in, really, really started to get to me.  Suck it up Mama.  Rally.  Showers, screaming , soap in eyes (it’s the tearless kind for God’s sake!) clip 60 (yes, 60) nails.  Read an Elmo book.  God I hate Elmo.  Quiet.  Snuggling my babies with warm soft hands on my cheeks.  Almost there.  Lights out and done.  Breathe.  And good news folks!  We get to do it all over again in 24 hours!

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There are just not enough hours in the day- so cliche right?  So true.  I am barely getting by here.  Summer has got to come.  No more homework, no more projects, no more searching for library books or forgetting sneakers on gym day.  No more hunting for the perfect item for Share Day.  Oh sweet summer.  I think I am craving the serenity more than my kids.

Rally.  That’s what I feel like most of my life has come to lately.  I am so tired.  Stretched to the point of exhaustion.  And I know that’s the reason I yell and have a lack of patience.  I know it’s me and not them.  But (I am about to admit something terrible here) sometimes I feel like I just don’t want to care anymore.  Like I am just done trying.  I know I shouldn’t yell and sometimes in the moment, I even think Why am I yelling right now?  Stop!  Stop it, Mama!  But no.  I yell and spend the next hour feeling like shit.  That’s more the cycle I speak of.  More than the chores and endless whining from the kids.  It’s me.  Mamas (and the Papas) reading this who have toddlers and babies… I used to be like you.  Said I wasn’t going to yell.  Said I wasn’t going to lose my temper.  Read all those Zen parenting books and blogs.  And then my kids could talk back.  And that all went out the window.  This is a judgement-free zone.

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So where do we go from here?  We start over.  Tomorrow the sun will rise again.  The cycle might start again.  Or it might not.  I am not in control of their behavior.  But I need to be fully in control of my own.  And of my responses to their behavior.  Breathe.  Tomorrow I’ll be back on the wagon.  It won’t be perfect but as long as I keep trying to make things better.  As long as I keep giving a shit.  I can do better.  I owe it to them (and myself) to be better.  And that’s all I can do.  Rally.

Peace, Mamas.

Sunday Reset: Mother’s Day Do-Over

One of the most wonderful parts of beginning this blog was finding out I am not the only totally dysfunctional Mama out there- there are so many more crazy women out in the world who are flailing through life, feeling like miserable failures and powerful gladiators at the same moment.  This was never more apparent to me than last week.  Mother’s Day not only a let-down (and not in the awkwardly-wet-booby-spot-on-your-shirt- way) for me- but many of you also had Mother’s Days that sucked!  That’s awesome!  Well, not really awesome but it made me feel like I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get breakfast in bed, only to open the silver dome over my perfectly cooked eggs (which we don’t even have, but I picture it with the dome) to find some exquisite piece of  sparkle.  Now if you were one of the ones who got the dome, good for you.  But instead of the dome, I awoke to fighting, yelling and three little pains in the ass… And a big one in the neck.  On the heels of my last post, we decided this weekend would be a Mother’s Day Do-Over.

I enjoyed tee-ball, Big Truck Day with the kiddos (with no fights or whining- shocker!), a fire in the yard, marshmallows- and plenty of chocolate- wine spritzers and a very special date with my man.  Sunday was filled with gardening, rolling in the grass with the three wonders who made me a Mama, a great workout and impromptu dinner with neighbors (which of course included more wine).  It was a wonderful Do-Over Weekend!

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I hope that all you Mamas who had a rough Mother’s Day got your Do-Over.  It felt beyond necessary to be appreciated and my ability to not have crazy expectations enabled me to feel the joy of playing with my children.  The comfort of spending time with my husband.  To feel the love of Mamahood.  That’s what Mother’s Day is about.  I didn’t need flowers (or the fricken silver dome) to have a meaningful day.  I just needed my children.  And the handsome guy who gave these wonderful little souls to me.

But a pedicure would have been nice too…

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Mama Gets Real… Toes are a wreck.

Peace, Mamas!

 

Sunday Reset: The Hike

This weekend, the weather in Vermont was amazing!  Gorgeous, warm and bright.  As I eluded to in a previous post, we live in a very old farm house, built in 1870.  When we moved in, as stupid young homeowners, we thought we’d have it looking just the way we envisioned within a matter of months.  Ha.  So six years, three kids, two ER visits, and thousands of dollars later our house is finally the way we envisioned.  Many sacrifices have been made along the way but the compromises I feel most shame about are the missed family moments.  Time we should have spent with the kids was spent hemorrhaging funds our home.  Last weekend, we finished the last project… Which meant this weekend was long-overdue family time.

We decided today was the perfect day for a hike.  Frequently in the warm months, we climb the trail to the top of Mount Philo.  Barely a mountain, it boasts what I believe to be one of the best scenic views in our beautiful state.

Along the way, we took note of our surroundings.  My oldest was excited to record his observations in his journal (which of course I was carrying, along with the snacks, drinks, etc.).

Once at the top, he quickly began working away in his journal.  I spent a great deal of time watching his steady pencil strokes, his even lines and the concentration which spread across his face was inspiring.  This child has so many gifts.

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This hike was significant as it was the first trek my youngest made on his own two legs.  He reveled in the landscape and though it took us a little longer as he needed to inspect holes, roots, rocks and bark, it was he who was more proud than I when we reached the top.  Unfortunately, he quickly had an accident.  And though I had many (many, many) items in the pack on my back, a change of clothes was not among them.  Ugh.  Luckily, his older brother was wearing boxer briefs and had no hesitation about loaning them.  And even luckier still, my youngest was delighted to wear nothing but his brother’s unders for our journey down the mountain.  Crisis averted.

Photo1 (9)Spending this time as a family felt refreshing and filled my heart with love, my veins with patience which will hopefully last through the week.  Being active, in nature, hearing their excitement about new surroundings made me breathe in their curiosity along with the fresh air.  A day I will remember for long time.  My children are outside all the time and I am with them… But so much of the time I watch them.  Observe them.  But to experience the outdoors alongside them was a treat (for both of us) I don’t normally indulge.  I feel that it made a difference for them as well.  There was no whining (really!) and such powerful enthusiasm.  The good moods and possitivity followed us all through the day.  Get out with your kids.  Experience nature together!  Peace Mamas!

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Sunday Reset

Our week has come to a close.  The babes are sleeping.  The house is quiet.  For now.  During the last week, I yelled on Wednesday and Thursday nights.  Thursday was rough.  Kids were crazy.  No one was listening.  I stepped on a Lego ship.  Need I say more?  Wednesday, there was a fight about homework (really with the math games?!  Is there not another way for him to learn less-than, more-than?  Whatever happened to the alligator eats the bigger number?!) and it ended with a thrown pencil, crumpled paper and then bed.  No one was happy Wednesday night.  No one.  Overall, I have to say that the week went well (aside from the above-mentioned incidents).  This week, I renewed my pledge to a rule I made about seven years ago: Commit to No.

The rule is pretty simple.  If you say no, commit.  Don’t give in.  If you can’t commit (or don’t have the energy and know that you’ll give in,) don’t say no.  Here’s the thing: You will actually say yes more.  If you Commit to No, you will have to evaluate everything in a different light.  Is this really a big deal?  Can I really commit to no on this?  If the answer to either of these questions is no, say yes.  

About a year ago, I read an article in one of those parenting magazines written by a dad.  You know, those ones that you read and think, Who the hell is this guy?  God, I wish my husband would read this…  Are there really dads out there who write this shit?  The article started out with the dad read something about what children remember the most from what their parents tell them.  The dad decides to ask his son what he hears him say the most.  The dad, expecting his son to say I love you or You are smart or Share!,  is shocked when his kid says the thing he hears his dear old dad-di-o say the most is No.  I re-read this about five time.  Why? Because my stomach had a sick ache.  I was sure my kids would say the same of me.  So sure, in fact, that I never wanted to ask them for fear that they would confirm my worry.  I say no all the time.

Why do I say no so much?  I have no idea.  Because I am lazy:  Will you put chocolate in my milk?  No. Can I paint?  No.  Because I am tired:  Can you chase us?  No.  Can we walk to the playground instead of drive?  No.  And sometimes for no reason.  Now Mamas…  I read back over the above questions and I am ashamed.  But I am being honest.  So please judge me quietly… And then look at all the questions you say no to.  Maybe you’re perfect and always tell your kids yes.  Or maybe you’re like me and say no too much.

Using the Commit to No rule, as I have for the last week, you I can guarantee that you will say yes more.  You will be required to do more, run more, deal with bigger messes and make a shit-load more chocolate milk.  But, your kids will be happier.  And they will do more of the things you ask them to do.  And you will yell less.  Committing to No will enable you to say yes more.  And it’s freeing.

I am definitely more tired at the end of this week.  All this saying yes-shit is exhausting.  But I didn’t yell nearly as frequently as I was at one point.  And my kids are happier.  And they did help me more, beg less, stop whining and… oh hell, they are still whining but I think they are whining a little less.  I think I am going to Commit to No again next week.  I want my kids to remember me saying Yes.

Peace Mamas.

Sunday Reset

Sunday is the day of reflection on the past week.  What worked, what needs tweaking and what was a total failure.

What worked:

Talking things through, approaching things from a resolve-oriented approach, trying to get my children to talk to each other instead of me about what is bothering them, spending more time reading to them, getting more outside time.

What needs tweaking:

My approach to getting them to talk to each other needs to be more involved (suck).  I need to take more time to help them work through things until they get the hang of it.  I was just telling them to talk to each other about the issue but they ended up going in the room yelling and things went to hell from there.  Also requiring tweaking is roping my husband into all this.  Dad loses temper = Mama loses temper.  We need to be better about this- honey, I know you are reading this… right?

Total Failure:

Ignoring the behavior I don’t want to deal with because I am too exhausted to deal with it.  I have got to summon the strength after working a 10 hour day to come home and parent effectively instead of being permissive.  My struggle to have energy translates into their struggle to get my attention.  So many times, I looked at my children over the last week and thought Just leave me alone for two fucking minutes.  Not in a mean way (of course, you can hear me saying this in the sweetest voice, oozing with kindness and love… right?  Right…?) but in a totally exhausted, beaten down, surrender-type of way.  Mama is tired.  Mama needs a break.  Mama needs to suck down this glass of wine to get through the rest of this homework.  And why the hell are they teaching you math like this?!  Maybe Mama needs some meth… Nah.  Mama needs to dig deep.

And dig deep we shall.  My goal for this week is to reset.  When I am feeling the exhaustion set in and the mean, tired Mama come out, I will dig deep to demand from myself, motivation and patience.  My kids deserve better than what I have been giving them.  They are children and sometimes I am fully aware that I expect them to understand far too much.  I ask them to overlook far too many of my shortcomings.  This Mama is feeling a bit defeated but from desperation comes hope and new energy.  I’m going to dig deep.  And it’s going to be a good week.

Peace Mamas.