We Bought a House

I hate when my brain gets so stuck that I feel like I can’t do anything else until I spill my guts. Or word vomit all over the computer screen. I have stared at this task or this problem or this other thing I need to take care of and can’t seem to make my brain work it out or get it done. I’m stuck. So here I am…hoping that if I write it all out, I can get the rest of this crap done.

We bought a zoo house.

It’s officially ours. I have the keys and everything. And when I got the phone call letting me know all was completed and done and over with, I didn’t feel excited. I just felt…tired. Really, really tired. Like, the only thing I wanted to do to celebrate was take a really long nap. (There’s no time for napping, btw.)

I know that I’ve put my mind and my body through a lot lately. I feel like I have been in a constant state of stress for a few months now. And, honestly? I have felt that an elephant has been sitting on my chest for the past several weeks. And so when a huge (and long-awaited) stress is lifted, I guess I just realized how tired I was from carrying it around. Elephants are heavy, yo.

I know I will be excited once this is all over. But there is still so much to do before we move in. This house needs a bit of TLC. And just the thought of everything that needs to be done makes me tired all over again.

When we first started looking at houses (in February) we weren’t in any hurry, and we knew we could be patient…and picky. We wanted a very specific area (school district) and we knew that it might take some time to find the house that would be ours. And it did. Four months and four offers later, we finally have OUR house. And it is NOTHING like we set out to buy. It’s better. Yes, every wall needs to be painted and some of the flooring/carpet need to be finished or replaced, but this house is going to be more than we ever thought we could have.

There is a part of my brain that won’t let me get all the way excited about this house. And is probably why I wouldn’t tell anyone for quite some time. Like maybe like it’s too good to be true. But every so often, I let myself think about how this house will fit all of my family. In those rare moments, I also think about how much love this house can hold and share. I think about my kids and their friends and cousins…my family and our friends, who are part of our family. I think about all of them in this home that will BE that place that I’ve always wanted. A place where everyone is welcome. Where everybody knows your name! (I will be your Sam Malone.) (I don’t *have* to be Diane, do I?) (Maybe I’m Coach.)

I’m not quite ready to dive into why it’s so hard to believe this is mine. I guess the easiest way to say it for now is spending a lot of my life not believing I “deserve” it. Or going without and sacrificing for so many years and just believing that we always would…because we had “messed up” and this is how it would be.

That’s a bunch of hogwash and malarkey, but it’s hard to change a mind after it’s been stuck that way for so long.

So I think the proper thing to do is to pick up some cupcakes, go over to the new house, and celebrate something I never thought I would have. With (some of) the people I love the most. Because maybe for a minute, I’ll actually let myself be excited and proud and believe that it’s actually mine.

new house

 

A Letter to 19 Year Old Me

Several months ago, I started to write about letting go as your kids grow up. (Something I’m so very good at, obviously. Since I can’t even talk about sending my kids to college without crying. But whatever.) I started writing this story because I felt compelled to submit a piece for the Listen to Your Mother Show. For many reasons. But at the end of the day, I felt I had a story to tell about motherhood. As I’ve mentioned before, I started to write the piece I thought I was supposed to write about five or six different times. I couldn’t finish it. Because it wasn’t the story that needed to be told yet.

Thankfully, and because of wonderful friends, I realized that I was trying to tell the wrong story. And through some pretty deep soul searching, and some pretty hidden and tucked away memories, I found my words. I feel like I can’t keep telling my stories here without posting this. I’m the mom and the person that I am because of my story. And I think it’s time I told it here.

I wrote a letter to my 19 year old self. Because that’s when I became a mom. And there were things surrounding that time that needed to be written-needed to be told so that I could let it go. And, in a way, I have let go. Writing that letter healed a piece of my heart that I didn’t know was still broken.

 

Dear 19 year old me,

I know you’re scared. I know you think you’ve ruined everyone’s life. But you haven’t. You’ve made a very brave choice. I know it doesn’t feel brave right now. You feel like a failure. You can see the look in everyone’s eyes.

I wish I could find a way to go back in time. I would hold your face in my hands and tell you that it is all going to be ok. I wish I could hold you in my arms to tell you that your story turns out pretty great.

I want to tell you about it. I know I can’t and I know you have to go through so much sacrifice and hard times to get to this point. But if I could, I would tell you a little bit about our story.

You know the beginning. The timing sucks. And the not being married and not being ready sucks. And the college drop-out, teenage pregnancy label sucks. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong.

But you both come from good families. They’re doing the best that they can to deal with their own sadness and disappointment. It will take a couple of years, but everyone comes around. And you’d be amazed how everyone is rooting for you.

I know it sounds weird, but you’ll be out of town when that sweet baby is born. She’s born a month early, but she’s absolutely perfect and wonderful. Being away from it all is actually a good thing. You guys have a chance at being a little family before introducing her to the world.

The two of you get married a few months later. You wear your sister’s wedding dress.  The one with all the buttons. You’re more nervous about being a breastfeeding mom with all those buttons than walking down that aisle. There is so much stress and anxiety – it really IS hard to remember anything else about that day. You’ll pretend everyone is happy for you both even though you’re pretty sure that not one person in the room expects you to stay married.

I have to tell you…there are some really hard times ahead. Marriage is hard. Being a parent is hard. You both get good jobs and you, thankfully, have benefits. But making ends meet is difficult. There are a lot of sacrifices and humbling moments over the years. But you do make it through. I promise.

You both work hard and don’t give up. Your stubbornness is a blessing. Stubbornness and faith push you through so much of those hard times. And then all of a sudden, you’ll realize that you’ve been married for 15 years and that your family is pretty damn great.

I wish you could know what great parents you turn out to be. You always knew you wanted to be a mom. Life’s events aren’t what you planned, but being a mom is as amazing as you thought it would be. And, oh my goodness, your kids are so fantastic. As it turns out, you get the privilege of being the mom to two beautiful girls. They are so great, you will wonder daily how you got so lucky.

Believe all the clichés. Time flies faster than you can even imagine and that sweet baby from the beginning of our story turns 16 this year. Sure there’s the excitement of driving and fun, but she’s so responsible and sweet and wonderful. She’s so…good. And she still wants us around. But I’m not going to lie to you, knowing that you have to send her off to college in two years is harder than you could imagine. You’ve already arranged support groups with all your friends because you know that you’ll need it after you move her into that dorm.

Knowing how wonderful life is, I wish I could go back and mend your broken heart. You worried so much about everyone else that you never made sure your heart was okay. There has been so much forgiveness and yet you haven’t ever forgiven yourself. And you won’t be able to explain how you could be so proud of every member of your family and still not be proud of yourself. Maybe this is what helped push you to be strong and accomplish so much. To prove anyone who doubted you wrong. But somehow, even after sixteen years, you’re going to feel like you don’t deserve all these amazing people and experiences in your life.

I hope writing this letter helps you begin to heal. I know I can’t go back and change anything. And I wouldn’t. Even if I could. My only wish is that we both can see how just because life doesn’t go as you planned, the choices that you’ve made will lead us to the most amazing and hard and worthwhile life we could ever imagine.

Be proud.

family_pix

Somewhat Wordless Wednesday

 I need this shirt:

 

notime

I think my dog hates everything about us right now:

ponchopaisley

Sometimes looking for funny pictures on your phone will remind you about the time your friend Erin posted this on Instagram and it makes you giggle. Also? PERSPECTIVE.

2007

 

Edited to add: Ginessa won the Raging Waters passes! (And Ramona totally picked your name out of a bowl because that’s how we roll.)

winner

Life Can Be a Little Heavy

fragile

I have written and unwritten about seven different posts. None of my words seems to work. It’s weird to have your heart filled to the brim and completely shattered and broken all at the same time. Being completely excited about a new adventure and then equally sad for the things that you already miss from the old adventure. Trying to be there for those in need while recognizing that I need to get better about asking for help with what I need. One, big life event is enough to drive anyone crazy…but having so many things all at once is incredibly overwhelming. And that is the understatement of the year.

It’s just…a lot.

It usually helps to write it out. And I feel like if I could just write my way out of feeling like this, I could just focus on the (4,574,178,286) tasks at hand.

Now, if this was an after-school special, this would be the part where I’d have a spectacular meltdown and shave my head, or something. (Don’t worry, I’m too vain for that.)

I think my mini-meltdown occurred yesterday when Nora just asked me how I was doing and I couldn’t even really respond with anything that made sense. And for the first time in a really long time, I just let my eyes leak and cry for my friends who are hurting. And I cried for my own heart that is broken. And for the stress and anxiety and stress and anxiety that comes from so much to do, so many deadlines, and so much change.

It really is a lot.

I’m terrible at asking for help. But luckily I have the best of friends and family that call me out on my shit and tell me that they’re on their way to help. Or put time on their calendars to help. Even if it’s completely last minute and I just remembered I need someone to watch my dog when we’ll be out of town for 24 hours. They’re there. They’re all there.

At the end of the day, I know that I can do hard things. And that everything will be ok even if things aren’t ok right now. I know I am blessed beyond reason. I have the greatest family and friends on the planet.

I’m not going to sit here and say that I just wrote myself out of a personal crisis, but getting it off my chest helped. Admitting that sometimes life is just a lot to take helped. But most of all, reminding myself that I have the greatest people around me and who are there for me helped the most. I’m still living in a constant state of stress, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I have the coolest people ever walking that tunnel with me. I got this.

I Think This Means I Actually Need to Cook

When you take a good, long look at your budget, sometimes you are horrified by some of your habits. I’m not a shopper, so my money generally doesn’t go there. (Except for makeup. I could buy makeup all day long, every day of the week.) But when I took a look at how often we ate out in April and May? I was appalled. Like, really embarrassed and THEN appalled.

Listen, we all know that my life is crazy. When you don’t get home until 7:30 or 8 at night, cooking is the last thing you want to do. And even if we did cook something up, then we’re not eating dinner until 9. And, well…a 9pm dinner time is embarrassing, too.

So today I was thinking about what I can do to change this bad habit. I know that it is ultimately up to me to get things going. Like it or not, that’s just the way it is. The great thing about my family is that they’ll all jump on board and help out with whatever we decide. I just have to get the ball rolling.

And so here we go:

Starting today, June 1st 2013 I’m going on a mini-spending freeze for the entire summer. The. Entire. Summer. From now until at least September 1st there will be no eating out for my family of four. Now. Full disclosure: We do have some special occasions to celebrate and a few things on the calendar that will take exception, but other than that? NO EATING OUT AT ALL STOP ASKING ME YOU KIDS.

For some of you, this might be pretty ridiculous. And maybe it is. But sometimes, just surviving and getting through each day and practice and insane work projects and other such scheduling nightmares is all you can do. And sometimes that means you pick up Thai food on your way home from a game. But I don’t want it to be like that this summer.

Summer is probably the easiest time for me to try this spending freeze and make it a habit. We won’t be rushing around quite as much (although, still SOME) and so that makes a little bit more time to get dinners on the table at a reasonable hour. Plus, living in CA we have so many options for fresh produce and good stuff, it almost makes meal planning a no brainer. And if we’re home more to cook, then we, theoretically, have more time together as a family. Yeah, yeah, yeah…cheesy, yeah.

I’m going to pretend that I don’t hear your heckling.

So. A game plan.

I don’t totally have that all figured out yet, but I’m going to take some cues from my amazing Sarah. She’s an absolute genius who does food prep for the week all in one day. Like chopping all the veggies that she’ll need for the week. I think she even prepares the sauces that she’ll need. Grill several chicken breasts and the like so that SOMETHING is always read. BUT YOU HAVE TO SET ASIDE SOME TIME. This is going to be a huge deal for me. I’m not going to lie to you, finding a specific time that works every, single week is near impossible. But if we plan well, I really feel like we’ll be able to do it. It just might not be the same time every week.

And that’s ok. Because this will definitely be a work in progress.

I decided that saying/writing this out loud is the best way to start keeping me accountable. Because I really, really want to do this. I just need to be really, really consistent and be better at planning.

Welcome to summer everyone.

Don’t you dare ask me out to dinner.

Swears in the Workplace or My Open Apology for Using All the Bad Words Yesterday

This week was a doozy. Like, I still have a headache from two days ago kind of week. My job isn’t always like this, so I don’t want to complain about that. It’s just…well, I worked so many late nights and early mornings the past month… I’m just really tired. The big project is done, but it seriously kicked my ass. And maybe, possibly, turned me into a psychotic co-worker.

I know, I know…you’re not supposed to blog about work. But YOU GUYS. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but I’m equal parts proud and horrified over my bat-shit-crazy behavior yesterday.

Now, I’ve worked on this big project for way longer than a month, as I fit in different parts of it between my “regular” job. But for the past 3-4 weeks? A LOT of time has been spent leading up to yesterday when I would finally finish and pass it on. My stress level was a bit high but the knowledge of ONE DAY MORE gave me that light at the end of the tunnel feeling. Even getting to the office at 6:30 (in the A.M.) had me optimistic about what I could get done before noon. I had positive, you’ve got this, kick ass kind of music playing in the earbuds. I WAS GOING TO KICK SOME SERIOUS PROJECT ASS.

And then the power went out. At 7:45am.

I do believe my heart actually stopped for a few seconds as I stared at that blank computer screen. I knew that I had been saving religiously, but what if my forms and spreadsheets didn’t recover properly? It’s a finicky form to begin with…would something happen to my file? ARE YOU EFFING KIDDING ME WITH THIS RIGHT NOW????

Something in me snapped.

Every bad word tripped and fell out of my mouth in record time. EVERY. BAD. WORD. Any foul word you can think of, and probably some that I made up right then and there. I said them all. LOUDLY.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like I’m any sort of angel with the cleanest of all the mouths, but I can honestly say that I’ve never shouted obscenities to an office full of people.

Much like the words that flew out of my mouth that escaped before I even knew what happened, hot tears streamed down my face. Which only seemed to pissed me off more. So I think I said more bad words just to make the tears stop.

I guess I should just be glad that the office wasn’t full since it was only 7:45. And I’m lucky that most the people around me knew that I had been working on this project for so long and for so, so many hours. Most of them.

This is where I probably shouldn’t admit that I was thisclose to punching a coworker in the neck when this person thought it would be funny to try and joke me out of my tantrum. And shine a flashlight in my face. But since I just typed that out and I’m not sure I’m going to delete it, just know that also happened.

My rage was fierce. And my stress level. But OMG MY RAGE WAS SO FIERCE.

Luckily the power came back on about 30 minutes later. Plenty of time for the swears to mellow, but more time for me to stress out about everything I WASN’T accomplishing. But the happy ending to our story is that I DID finish the project. It did have more things to modify and it took all damn day to iron all of those things out, but today I officially wash my hands of this project. Until next year anyway.

Monday marks the start of my busy time at work, so I may or may not be taking my sweet time this morning getting to the office. (Don’t freak out, I totally scheduled it CALM DOWN.) I’m going to finish writing this and then I should probably get in the shower.

Or not.

My headache JUST started going away. Maybe sitting here at home is just what I needed.

oh, just a reminder that I probably need right now. (I have no idea who to give credit to. Thanks, Pinterest.)
oh, just a reminder that I probably need right now. (I have no idea who to give credit to. Thanks, Pinterest.)

My stress level is a little high. I have been working on a project at work that just won’t go away. I have likened it to being eight months pregnant and feeling like you’re ALWAYS going to be pregnant. I’m ALWAYS going to be working on this project. Forever. Stretch marks and all.

I won’t even let myself read a good book or do any blog reading. I need it, but I just don’t want my brain to take any detours from what I’m working on. No matter how awesome it the detour may be. And, honestly, the only reason I’m writing this at all is because my brain feels like it about to explode. So if I write about…maybe I can contain the mess?

I don’t know.

I feel like I’ve been rude to everyone. Or distracted. Hopefully not too rude. But I probably have. I should probably just wear an “I’m sorry” sign. Because I *am* sorry.

I’m just ready for this week to be over. So ready.

And I feel like I have a lot to say. I mean, when you’re focused on a deadline and everything (EVERYTHING) takes a back seat? All of a sudden, you can think of 20 million things you want to say and write about and discuss. Because you want to be doing anything but what you’re supposed to be doing? THAT. So very much THAT.

Also, have I told your how sorry I am that I’m a distracted and very stressed-out jerk?

Yeah. That too.

Very much that too.

box of balls of brave

I love people. I love our differences. I love our similarities. I love learning from other people. I love laughing with people. I love it when other people touch my life and make me see something in a different way.

I love people.

But I wish there was a way for us to build a giant ball pit just like this. I wish we could create opportunities like this one that helps us to find our commonalities. To learn about some pretty fantastic things about people we may not have talked to under normal life circumstances. This video brings a lot of joy to my heart and tears to my eyes, because HOW AMAZING ARE PEOPLE. How amazing are YOU???

Pretty damn amazing. And I love you for it.

It’s a funny business, having a blog. You would think I would be good at sharing my words. Sharing my feelings. Sharing my opinions. But it’s amazing how many words get stuck in my own heart and brain because I’m too scared to share them. I’m scared of the response I’ll get. Or I’m scared of being judged. I don’t know. I honestly don’t have all the answers. But the more I think about it, blogging is a lot like sitting in an amazing box of balls and answering questions.

If we’re brave enough to do it.

I was brave recently. It was hard to write my story. The story of how I became a mom and the events surrounding that. But I wrote about it. And then I submitted it. And then I auditioned by reading it. And then I read it out loud to a room full of women I didn’t really know. And the more times I let those words fly, the more they didn’t scare me to share. Or it didn’t scare me as much. And then all of a sudden it’s the night of the show, and I sit on the stage of an empty theater and I take it all in. Yeah, I kinda sat there and cried for a little bit as I thought about what I was going to share and who I was going to share it to, but I took it all in. And then it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be.

Somehow, standing on a stage in front of a few hundred people, I wasn’t nervous as I read my piece and owned my words.

I had invited all those people into my box of balls. And I was able to share with them a little story about myself. And you know what? There were a couple of people out there that had a similar story. We found our commonality.

Because we were brave enough to be vulnerable and say it out loud. We were brave enough to share.

I’m not always brave. But believe it or not, writing and blogging shows me that sometimes I am.

And every once in a while, I’m reminded just how big my brave is.

 

 

 

Nora, thank you for sharing your box of balls.

Sarah, thank you for reminding I have brave.

at some point, I’m going to have to learn to let go

I don’t remember being tormented by my children “graduating” preschool or starting kindergarten. I remember being sad that they were nervous and scared, but I don’t remember having a “my baby’s growing up!” moment back then. Even when Beezus started middle school, I was all business. I don’t think it occurred to me to be sentimental or sad. It was just the next step! Part of life!

I’m not saying my heart was made of stone. I just think I was working so hard to just keep us all afloat and alive that recognizing milestones wasn’t something I could focus on.

Until I couldn’t focus on anything else.

The night before Beezus started high school, I realized there were a bunch of milestones sitting on my chest and weighing on my mind. They weren’t going to let me get away with ignoring them anymore. It wasn’t so much that she was starting high school-I was excited for that-but that all of a sudden I was on a deadline. Without realizing it, college became this ticking time-bomb and the countdown on the clock was staring me in the face. It was like I could actually see the glaring red numbers showing me exactly how much time had already passed. How much time I had missed when I was so busy just surviving.

Her starting high school meant I had four years left on the clock. Four years left of her being mine.

I’m not dumb. I know that she’ll always be my daughter…but it will all change when she leaves for college. I won’t be able to squeeze her any time I want. She won’t be around for me to cook her favorite meals. (Shut up, it happens sometimes.) She won’t come home to me and us and our house each night. I won’t be able to just walk into her room to see how she’s doing. She’ll be her own person. She’ll be grown.

b&me

This all hit me like a ton of bricks the night before her freshman year. It was wrecking me in ways that I had never experienced. I have no recollection of most things that night. But I remember climbing into bed. And then getting right back out and walking down the hall to her room.

I wordlessly climbed into her bed with her. She was still awake.

“Hey.” I whispered.

And then there couldn’t be any other words from me. The hot tears ran down my face and soaked her pillow as I tried to take a deep breath.

“Are you crying??” she asked. If only to give her something to say.

She knew that I was, of course. We both laughed. And then we resumed crying. Because of course I made my child cry.

When I could finally speak, I told her that I was freaking out. I told her that I was so excited for her and all things high school, but that all of a sudden, I was losing my mind over the fact that I only had four years left before she left for college. I told her that it had snuck up on me. I told her how proud I was of her…how much I loved her. And that I knew I was being a little bit ridiculous. But that I just couldn’t help myself. We laughed that I couldn’t seem to stop crying. At all.

I knew she needed to sleep. I knew that I was supposed to let her.

But I also didn’t want to leave.

mom n beezus

We grew up together, her and I. When I was a (too) young mother just struggling to just survive, she kept me sane. When my heart was broken in a million pieces, she put me back together. At times when I didn’t think I was doing anything right, she made me believe that I was. She was my bright spot when everything was dark. If you wonder why the thought of sending her off to college leaves me wrecked, this is why. She is more than just a piece of me. She’s one of the very best pieces of me.

And I’m going to have a very hard time letting that piece of me go.

happiness is

I had a great birthday you guys. Full of happy and busy and mellow…and just magical.

And when you’re lucky enough to share a birthday with some of the most amazing people, and maybe even get to have a birthday brunch with one of them, you can’t even believe how damn lucky you are.

 

nichole&jill

Seriously. Brunch with some of the loveliest people on the planet??! It was a birthday morning that dreams are made of.

groupbrunch

And then all of a sudden, I was hit by a Facebook/Instagram post that…blew me away and brought tears to my eyes. I just love this kid.

proudmama

I honestly don’t know how to explain how much happy filled my day. And I also don’t think I can explain how my funny little posts leading up to my birthday just made it all the more wonderful. It just…set the tone. If that makes any sense at all. And maybe one of the biggest happiness lessons I’ve ever learned.

I’ve seen and loved this quote for years…

what you focus on, you get more of.

Those words have never meant more to me. I focused on happiness…and it just keeps spilling out of me. (Oops, my happiness is showing.)

I’m not mad about it.

In fact…

I’m pretty damn happy about it.