Long live all the mountains we moved

The first college acceptance came in today. It’s not her first choice, but as she’s reading the letter she said, “I’m actually going to college, you guys!”

She was worried.

Me? Not so much. I knew. But I understand what she means.

I also understand what it means to ME.

She got in to college, you guys. How the hell are we here already?!!

How?

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Sunday Night Preemptive Guilt

Every year around this time, I start shutting down a little. Late spring and summer are very busy for me at work, so it’s hard to welcome it with open arms. The guilt of a 40+ hour work week becomes even more precarious. It doesn’t matter that my kids are 16 and 12. The guilt is still there. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s worse now than it was before. I can’t just up and quit, mind you.

I like my job. But mom-guilt always wins.

Mom-guilt fights dirty.

So it’s Sunday night and I’m dreading the work week. It’s deadline heavy. But after weeks of running myself ragged – I’ve been flying solo in the parenting arena several nights a week for the past few months – I know that this week means that I pour myself into work while my husband takes a turn at the double duty wheel. (Thanks, honey.) It’s a parenting balance to be proud of.

But instead I feel guilty.

Also, tired.

It’s not even Monday morning.

It’s temporary, right? That’s what I keep telling myself. This too shall pass and all that.

But that’s probably part of the problem.

We all know how much I worry about time passing.

But it’s 10:25 on a Sunday night and I’m not even close to going to bed. I’m waiting for for the dryer to finish and my husband decided that tonight would be the night that we start watching House of Cards. Don’t even tell me. We’re only on the second episode, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to keep up with that kind of time commitment, but damn it’s good. (Also, yikes.)

Tomorrow will bring the deadlines and the stress of the week. But tonight, I’ll finish the laundry, make the lunches and prep the coffee maker while I get sucked into this show that I won’t ever finish. It makes no sense whatsoever.

I’ll feel guilty about it tomorrow.

Are We Showing Our Daughters What Self-Confidence Looks Like?

I had an amazing weekend in Atlanta for the Mom 2.0 Summit. I have lists and thoughts and more lists of things I want to accomplish after being inspired by so many. I met the coolest people that offered up their expertise and wanted to help us all reach our goals. I felt acceptance when I worried about being the outsider. (The “small-potatoes” blogger outsider.) I met some delicious new friends who warm my heart and who are now stuck with me forever. I even stepped outside my comfort zones and actually survived.

But this weekend also reminded me of things that need my attention. Some pretty important things.

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I’ve always known that it was important to me to raise strong, kick-ass daughters. It has always been important to me that they know how amazing they are. How beautiful they are. More importantly, how smart they are. I want them to be comfortable in their own skin. I want them to be brave. I want them to be happy. I want them to work hard and have fun. I want them to know that they are precious and priceless. I want them to have the confidence to stand up for themselves and be who they were meant to be.

I want them to know that they are loved beyond all reason and explanation. Especially when the world is so hell bent on making them think that isn’t true.

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During the Dove Friday morning keynote panel about confidence, we were all reminded the importance of leading by example. We can tell our daughters all day long that they are beautiful. But if they regularly see us, their mothers, talking bad about our own bodies or show that we are uncomfortable in our own skin, we are teaching them to do the same.

If we aren’t an example of self-confidence, our daughters will not learn self-confidence.

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A couple weeks ago, I wanted an excuse to celebrate my birthday. (Apparently BEING BORN isn’t reason enough.) I’m not good at having the “birthday attention” on me, so I thought having a jewelry party would allow me to have a fun time with my friends without being the center of all the attention. But as the party started, the jewelry person had everyone introduce themselves and then give one word that described me. The words were beautiful, sweet and touching.

But I was coming out of my skin uncomfortable.

I wouldn’t describe myself as having low self-esteem, but there were wonderful things being said about me from some of the dearest people on the planet, and there was a part of me that wanted them to stop. In fact, when the jewelry lady saw how uncomfortable I was getting, she asked me if I wanted to skip it. I was *thisclose* to saying yes. What is it that made me so uncomfortable? Did I feel unworthy? Or just embarrassed?

I’m still not sure, but as I was listening to that morning keynote, I was transported back to that day and my inability to take compliments. As they spoke of the importance of being an example of confidence, I was reminded how much I struggle with that very thing. I know that I am strong and that I can do hard things, but my outward example of confidence is almost non-existent. Perhaps because I’m really not very confident at all.

I need to be more careful. While I know that I shower my daughters with love and support, do they ever see me do the same for myself? I want them to be kick-ass and brave. Am I doing my part to make that happen for me? I tell them they are beautiful and smart. Have I ever embraced those words to describe myself? Not really.

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I’ve been thinking about all the times I’ve brushed off compliments and changed the subject. I keep thinking about all the times I half joke/half complain about my flat chest and large ass. How many times have I complained about going completely gray in my 20’s? (A LOT.) It’s weird to admit that I’m proud of the mother that I am but that I’m not proud of the example I’ve been setting as a woman. It’s time to work on that.

I’ve admired Dove and their self-esteem project with the work that they do to inspire and encourage. I am grateful for their participation (and sponsorship) of Mom 2.0 Summit. Most of all, I’m so glad that I was reminded that we have a lot of work to do to make sure our girls know how wonderful and special and beautiful they are.

These girls are amazing! They can move mountains. They can change the world if they want.

But you know what? So can we.

The Easter Dilemma

It just dawned on me that I’ve done NOTHING for Easter. No decorations up. No Easter baskets down from the storage shelf in the garage. Nothing that resembles the fact that Easter is in two days. I mean, I accidentally have a little bit of candy because we visited Andy’s Candy on Monday, but I really can’t list that under the “accomplishments” column because we’ve already started eating it.

Hell, the kids asked the other day if they were getting something for Easter.

All signs point to NO.

It’s too bad you don’t believe in the Easter Bunny! Basically that means that you get crap from your Mom & Dad because they’re JERKS!

I’m pretty sure we’ll come up with something. (Tomorrow. Maybe.) But I’m feeling conflicted on this new chapter of parenting we’ve reached. I’m equal parts nostalgic and relieved that ‘these types’ of holidays are no longer a very big deal in our house. Less stress, but I promised myself that it didn’t matter that if they believed or not, we’d still celebrate with gusto. But here we are and I’ve done NOTHING to prepare and I’ve kinda entertained the idea that I don’t have to.

I won’t actually DO nothing, but I’ve entertained the idea.

(Also, I’m really bummed that I forgot to decorate. I do love springtime/Easter decorations. They’re so cheerful.)

Parenting is so weird. I’m blown away by the fact that I’m done with the babies and toddler era. But OMG MY KIDS FEED AND DRESS THEMSELVES AND IT’S GLORIOUS. But then…the only time I’ll sniff a baby’s head is if it belongs to someone else. MY CHILDREN TALK AND CAN USE THEIR WORDS TO TELL ME IF THEY’RE NOT FEELING WELL OR HUNGRY. I DON’T HAVE TO WIPE ANYONE’S ASS. The cuddles, the footie pajamas the cuddles! I DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR DIAPERS AND DID I MENTION I DON’T HAVE TO WIPE ANYONE’S ASS?

So yeah…we’re back to two days before Easter and totally not prepared. Or decorated. And completely grateful that we have plans with family on Sunday that will be fabulous fun and will give my kids a taste of Easter festivities. Which means, really, that I can give myself the weekend off and not worry about this anymore. Done!

I love Easter.

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Last year’s Easter deco. Obviously.

 

Ramona: Age 12

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Twelve just sounds really old.

I obviously know how old my kids are. I really do know how to do math. But for some reason, Ramona’s jump from 11 to 12 yesterday knocked the wind out of me. It’s not that her new and updated age took me by surprise. It’s just…no, I’m lying. It somehow totally took my by surprise. I’m constantly amazed by how fast time flies. At this point in my parenting career, I should really be used to it.

For various reasons, I worried about how much fun Ramona would have celebrating her birthday. With her big day falling right in the middle of her two weeks of spring break and then a family filled, Easter weekend, we didn’t have too many options and will be having her birthday “event” in May. At some point. On a weekend that is NOT Mother’s Day or the weekend I’m not out of town. (Sigh.)

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yes, she is pointing a sling-shot at me

Don’t get me wrong, I really do think she had a great time yesterday. I mean she practically had a breakfast of gummy bears and worms as we visited a fabulous new candy store downtown. (LOVE them.) We had a Starbucks date, her and I. A visit to one of her favorite people. Her best friend was able to get out of school early yesterday and hang out with us for the afternoon. They were pampered with pedicures, just the two of them. (Which I neglected to get a picture of. Mom FAIL.)

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there are only 10 candles…another MOM FAIL

We had celebrated April birthdays with my side of the family over the weekend while everyone was in town, but my inlaws were able to come over for a nice, little dinner. I was also so glad that some family that lives so close could come over for birthday cake. (That Beezus made. From scratch. It was amazing and DELICIOUS.)

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the beautiful, vanilla layered cake made with a LOT of hard work by the big sister

I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the people in my life that love my kids so much. I am so blessed with family (and friends who are family) who make my kids feel so special. This kid is so loved. Plus, that look on her face? Makes me so damn happy. She is just the coolest chick ever.

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I love her

Why You Should Never Use the Olympics to Keep Track of Time

My husband and I watched the closing ceremonies of the Olympics last night. I know that you are completely shocked by us watching anything Olympics, but sometimes we actually do watch TV together. (If this was an email or text, this would be the part where I’d put a winking smiley face.)

With the 2014 Winter Olympics now over, there were segments about the next (2018) Winter Olympics and, of course, the 2016 Summer Olympics.

You can’t help but think about where you’ll be in the next two or four years. (I have A LOT of Olympic watching to schedule into my life, folks.) How old will I be? How old will my kids be?

Sigh.

Yeah…THAT question.

For the 2016 Summer Olympics, Beezus will be home for the summer from her first year away at college. Ramona? Yeah Ramona will be getting ready to start her first year of high school. HIGH. SCHOOL.

The next time we see the Winter Olympics? Beezus will be 20. TWENTY. Ramona will (theoretically) be driving.

My head didn’t even have time to explode. It fell clean off.

This is why no one likes math. Once you learn to count, it’s all over. Counting things make you realize how awful it is to use the Olympics as a measurement of time. Or to track parenting years and milestones. It’s horrifying. I began to rethink my love for all things Olympics.

I couldn’t even help myself. When all these montages that felt like time machines floated across my TV, I looked at my husband and said “Beezus is going to be home from her first year of college when it’s time for the summer Olympics.”

He stared straight ahead at the TV for a bit and then said, “That is so sad.”

I sometimes forget how hard this is on the papas, too.

Maybe it’s good that the Olympics are over. We’ve been…obsessed. Our TV has been on so much, I think my brain is beginning to ooze out my ears. I’m also way too emotionally involved in all these athletes. And yes, Olympic math makes you realize just how fast time will fly. I don’t need any other reminders.

I can torture myself without any help, thank you.

Parenting on the Same Channel

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I know, I know…this picture is so old, but I love it.

There are times when I worry about how much I share about my children here. I know I don’t use their real names, but they know this website exists. I’m sure they’ll read it at some point. I don’t feel so much reservation about sharing the sweet stories. Those are special moments that I want them to know. But, as we all know, mothering isn’t always the sweet and sappy stuff. Sometimes being a mom is damn hard. Those stories are a little harder to tell. Well, they are a little harder to tell when you imagine one of your children reading it.

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I have wonderful children. I do. They are beautiful and loving and smart and amazing and they kick all kinds of ass. But my children are human. (No, really.) Being human means having bad days, testing the waters, break rules, making poor choices. You know, like ALL OF US.

My job as a parent means that I establish rules and boundaries that apply to our family. When those boundaries are challenged and when rules are broke, there are consequences. It is important to understand rules and boundaries and what happens when they’re not followed because this is practice for REAL LIFE in the world as an adult. Even though we all know plenty of adults that never learned this lesson, I’d rather my children not be counted among them. I hope they become good citizens of earth and all that.

I understand my job as a parent. But sometimes it just really sucks.

Each of us have times when we are not are best. I feel like I am a terrible person for the entire month of September most years. (I hate back to school. I don’t even want to talk about it.) But just because I’m having a bad month, I still have to follow the normal life rules.

Which is what I need to remember as I’m parenting my children.

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Ramona and I are not speaking the same language lately. We are just…well, we’re a little off kilter. I vaguely remember a similar situation when Beezus started middle school. It’s not an easy time for them. There were a lot of changes for both of them at this age. (New schools and areas where they didn’t really know anyone.) Middle school is hard. It’s a lot more work. Socially, there is a lot to navigate and learn. I get it. I do. But getting used to all of the change isn’t a free pass to whatever they want. I still have to be the parent that enforces our household rules and boundaries that have been set. Even if it means that I feel like I’m going insane. And right now I really feel like I’m going insane.

The hard part is admitting that I am part of the problem. I let her push so many of my buttons, I lose my patience early on in the game. There many evenings after work where I became so frustrated that the things I asked her to do weren’t getting done. Or there was so much attitude directed RIGHT at The Dude and I, we almost didn’t fit in the same room together. But since I lost my patience so quick, we never fully resolved the situation.

So she lost most ‘screen time’ of any kind. Even though it started as a punishment, it ended up freeing up her mind for other things. Things like focusing more on homework and reading and getting her chores done. We also created a different structure for her for after school. Believe it or not, so far it’s helping. It’s not perfect, but it’s helping.

You know those old CB or walkie talkie radios? You had to be on the same channel so you could hear your buddy on the other end? And sometimes one of you was one channel off. You could still hear them talking, but there was so much garbled noise and static, you couldn’t really understand what they were saying. So you work together and switch the channels up or down and then all of a sudden, they come in loud and clear and you’re all BREAKER BREAKER DUDE I HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, 1040. Or whatever was your favorite thing to say on walkie talkies.

That’s what it’s like parenting Ramona. I’ve been a parent to that amazing kid for 11 years, and she never ceases to amaze me. But she also challenges me in surprising and unexpected ways. Just when I think we’re on to something, we have to alter the course. She keeps me on my toes. My parenting style has to change. Our communication needs to be adjusted. There are times I feel like a complete parenting failure until I realize that we need to step back, regroup…and make some changes on our walkie talkie channel so that we can understand each other again. It’s not a bad thing. It just is. I need to remember it when I find myself at my wits end and feeling like I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t need a complicated equation…I just need to switch that channel and listen for her. Inevitably, she’s coming in loud and clear.

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thumbs up, baby

the path to OFF DUTY

The past few days have given me pause top post anything here until I get over my rage. Okay, I haven’t had constant rage for a week, but…well, a good part of it. Our life is insane with two parents sharing tasks. So you can imagine what the insanity looks like when there is only ONE parent. And by the mention of my rage, you can probably guess that the solo parent is ME.

But here’s the thing: I do not have rage because I am solo-parenting it right now.

I have (had) rage because it has also been one of those weeks were SO MANY THINGS have gone wrong. Things that would’ve complicated a regular week. And, yes, some of my frustrations came from breakdown in communication with everyone in my family. It’s good that I know when there are schedule changes for school, practice or lessons. You know, so I can get people where they need to be. I believe there was a child of mine that wasn’t super careful or watchful and the dog ate something she wasn’t supposed to. That’s ALWAYS pleasant. Then there is the getting ready for an out of town tournament. And coordinating all things under the sun so that everyone is where they need to be.

It has been trying. And, honestly, a lot of damn time in the car. In rush-hour traffic. And trying to figure out how we’re just going to make it all work. Especially getting everyone packed and ready to go.

I only hope that I didn’t forget to pack anything.

Spoiler Alert: I PROBABLY FORGOT ALL THE IMPORTANT THINGS.

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But? I’m super looking forward to a fun weekend. Hanging out with some of the funnest parents a softball team has ever seen. I get to see one of my very dearest, wonder-twin friends. And? I’m just telling you all now that I am OFF DUTY as soon as my husband gets back into town. Well, when he gets back into town and then after he drives the three hours to the tournament. BUT THEN.

What am I going to do? Well, watch softball, of course. But I’m not making ONE meal, driving anyone anywhere or cleaning up after ANYONE. Off-Duty is going to be awesome.

And oh so very needed.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends.

 

 

 

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time: sworn enemy of bucket lists

I couldn’t get my act together for the football game. Well, let’s be honest…we didn’t have a free weekend in all of October and September, really. So attending a high school football game as a family just didn’t happen.

Next year we’ll just have to go to two of them. (I think that’s how it works.)

But hey…Hunger Games tickets HAVE BEEN PURCHASED. So at least we’re not completely sucking!

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I feel proud of the tiny bit of progress we’ve made. But I’m also panicking at HOLY CRAP NOT ENOUGH TIME DO ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW.

Helpful!

But…well, this kind of stuff makes the pressure to get it all done even greater:

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I’m really not a complete mess 100% of the time. When discussing plans for 2015 holiday with my family (yes, we know that’s two years away but whatever) I didn’t even cry as I mentioned that those holidays will be the first of Beezus coming home from school for the holiday break. No really…didn’t cry!

But man, time just keeps going by way to fast and I’m nervous that we won’t get to everything on our bucket list.

I may have to get a little more efficient and surprise her while she’s sleeping. You know, if I’m actually going to surprise her. Does ‘surfing’ the internet count as learning to surf as a family? Or maybe I should start a food fight AFTER we cook one of those fancy dinners.

I feel this is the may be the only way I’m going to keep up with this list.

 

 

 

my truth about consequences

It’s hard to raise children in the Miley Cyrus “do what we want to” society. I could take the time to find the real name to that song, but I just don’t want to. I usually change the station whenever it comes on the radio. Mostly because I’d get a mental image of twerking and oversized stuffed animals and there’s not enough bleach for my brain. But also because I’m trying to teach my kids about consequences. Because that’s a real part of life. The kind of real life that not everyone likes to talk about.

My dad used to make a big deal about reminding us kids about consequences. And even if we rolled our eyes every time you brought it up, Dad…we listened. I didn’t have a conference call just now with all my siblings, I’m totally basing this on the lives that we all lead. We actually paid attention to what you said and all five of us are upstanding citizens raising kids that are looking like they will carry on the Upstanding Citizens title.

Because of consequences. And the knowledge that every choice and every decision has a consequence.

Oftentimes, when we hear the word “consequence” we immediately think of a bad result of something we did.

I drove to fast. Thanks for the ticket, Mr. Policeman!
I lied to my mom. Now I’m in trouble.
I ate that giant cupcake. Now my giant ass is gianter.

But all consequences aren’t bad. Making good choices and good decisions lead to, sometimes, the most amazing consequences.

I worked hard on that project. I feel accomplished and people respect my work.
I washed my windshield. Holy crap, I can actually see out this window.
I hugged my child instead of yelling. We both feel better and are actually talking out the problem.

Don’t get me wrong…none of us are perfect and we’re all going to make mistakes.

That’s not what this is about. It’s the mentality that so many people have that what they do doesn’t matter. That they can “do what they want to” and no one else is affected.

“It’s our life and we can do what we want to.”

That’s true. It is yours and you can. And you can sing with your tongue hanging out and twerk your way through life doing all the things you want.

But there are consequences. Even if it’s only complete and total shame when looking back 20 years from now. (But, then again, maybe no one will care.)

Telling your kids they can be anything they want is absolutely true. But I don’t believe that gives them a free pass to do whatever they want. And I have reached this level of frustration that I can’t even explain. I just feel it. I feel it every time I see something in the news where “doing what you want” lands a group of college kids in jail and lives ruined. Or when I hear about a middle school aged child bringing a weapon to school. When someone drives under the influence. When a celebrity (and countless others) die of a drug overdose. Or when someone doesn’t pay attention to where they start their campfire.

There are consequences. Sometimes terrible and tragic and sad ones.

I know there are extenuating circumstances that can’t all be addressed here. There are exceptions to my rant and I do try to find compassion for those that can’t understand. Or who haven’t been given the tools to understand.

My frustration comes from the blatant disregard for life’s consequences. Those that seek to hurt others. To break rules without caring. Or those that just don’t care in general. We are not invincible. And our actions affect other people.

In our family, we talk a lot about choices. Making good choices. How happiness is a choice. And how our choices and decisions have consequences.

With all the songs and TV shows and news reports that give examples otherwise, I hope it’s enough. I hope my conversations matter to my kids. Even if they just humor me right now (yeah, sorry about that Dad) I hope that it leaves an impression on them like it did me. I hope they can remember just how important consequences are.