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To Most Moms, Having It All Actually Means Having What’s Most Important

  1. Compared to previous generations, many girls are raised to believe that they are in the driver’s seat when choosing a career. We are taught from a very early age that the American Dream and all that goes with it, is ours for the taking.  All we have to do is reach out and grab it.  We can have it all in the workplace while simultaneously achieving the same level of perfection at home as a wife and mother.

Although this is true in theory, when children come into the picture, one’s internal barometer often readjusts to a new central point.  Moms play by a whole new set of rules and realize that certain things that were once considered acceptable are now considered to be deal breakers.  Having it all is not a fallacy or an old wives tale, however.  It is just that what the “all” is for one woman may be completely different for another.

To be truly happy in this life, you have to identify and define  your own personal “all” and go after it.  For some Moms, having it all may favor one part of their life over another.  This involves making some difficult choices and sacrificing the things that are less important in order to have what truly matters the most.

I recently asked some fellow Mama bloggers exactly what the definition of having it all means to them in their own lives.  How do they define success and what were some of the decisions they made on their path to achieve their overall dreams?  Check out their comments below!

I launched a side gig when my daughter turned 2.  I was so stressed trying to work a full time job, get back in shape and trying be a good mom that I just knew I couldn’t live that way anymore  I didn’t want my daughter to see a mom who was stressed out and in a job she didn’t like but doing nothing to change it.  Although it’s been a long journey and lots of long work days I know I’m building a life that is on my terms; that I can show my daughter that hard work pays off and you can help others along the way.  Having it all means working on my terms.

Heather from Heather in a Hat

Trying to start a business from home means I feel like I need to do All The Things all the time. With four kids, there is no time when all the boxes on the to-do list are ticked. But the jobs available to me as an ex-pat would mean barely ever seeing my kids. It can get lonely (get an accountability partner!). It’s really hard work, especially at the beginning. But I get to work on something I’m interested in, and that hard work is starting to bear fruit that makes me excited to see what is next.

Naomi from Almost Bananas

Having been in the personal training business for a while, I was no stranger to long days. But like most moms, my priorities changed with the birth of my daughter. Setting up my newest business venture and transitioning to online training has been an insane process. I work all hours of the day just trying to get ahead. And while I don’t quite have the balance I’d like, I’m close. This process has allowed me to spend more days with my daughter and do activities I love on my own schedule. I can work anywhere (and often do) and it’s in a field I’m passionate about.

Shelby from Fit As A Mama Bear

While most women my age are graduating college, and getting their degrees I am at a different stage in my life. At twenty-two years old I find myself married and the mother of two sweet little loves. Sometimes people ask me if I want more- to go to college, and get a degree, but that’s not the path I chose in life. I find myself able to stay home run my blog, start an Etsy store, and spend my days surrounded by my babies. I can honestly say I have everything a mom could ask for and more.

Sheyla from The Momma Chronicles

I love being a mom. I feel like I found myself in it and I’m loving it more each day.   I had to adapt certain things in my life and had to accept that I can’t live my life as I once could.  Although the opportunities for me might not be the same, they’re still there and they’re still good if we keep being on the positive side of motherhood.  I realized that anything I want for my life nowadays I actually want because she inspires me, so I don’t see any “real” sacrifices, I only see joys as a result. Even though is super tiring.

Dâmares from How To Marry A Millionaire

Before my 2-year-old was born, my husband and I decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom so I started a business and began working from home before I was even pregnant. It worked well when Eli was a newborn because he napped a lot and I could work while he was asleep. Now that he’s as an active 2-year old, I get up at 3am every morning to work before he wakes up. I know it won’t last forever.  Once he starts school, I’ll be able to work more normal hours, but it’s amazing what I can accomplish at 3am when the world is still sleeping!

Jilanne from Jilanne Holder

I really think having it all means doing what’s best for you. I am blessed beyond measure with a supportive husband and a flexible job that I love. You really have to dig deep and do what makes you and your family the most happy.  For me, I enjoy my career and giving back in such an amazing way. I have a job that allows flexibility to take days off with my littles and work from my phone if I need too. At the end of the day, I am also able to pick my kids up from daycare and from that point give them 100% of me until they go to bed at night. Work/Life balance is hard to tackle, but it’s totally worth it!

Lindsay from Just Simply Happenstance

Having it all for me begins with myself and my family being healthy as without that…nothing else would matter!!! Having my 2 children and my husband in my life….waking up each day excited for what lies ahead and knowing that my passion and my purpose fuels me and has a positive effect on others around me.  What I do and who I make smile as I am living an authentic life and believe that everything IS possible!  I am surrounded by others that feel the same!  Being financially secure is also key as it’s a fact..we need money to live. It’s not the money itself that’s important but the abundance of it allows me to have fun experiences with my family and friends,  to create lasting memories and to have the freedom to do what I want, when I want..it also eliminates the daily stresses lack of money causes..and I LOVE how I feel when I can give freely to others!

Lisa from Life Matters

To me, having it all means that no piece of the puzzle feels short changed.  I have found that even a small amount of time 100% focused on the task allows each part to feel as if they have received all of me.  This small step has freed me up to move to the next area guilt free and ready to focus on that piece.  As women in the workforce, we have a multitude of things pulling for our attention when that attention is focused and intentional, we can accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.

Lorie from Reset Mentoring

Having it all means being able to live fully in the beautiful simplicity of life.

Jennifer of The Roaming Healer

Having it ALL means PEACE to me.

Esha from Inspire 2 Change

Having it all means that I can spend the time with the ones I love, wherever they are, and I have the freedom to serve my community in time and treasure.

Annamarie from Ask Annamaria

Well at this moment “having it all is” good health, strong relationships, being open to possibilities and finally embracing who I am: scars and all.

Andrea from Waldorf Salad & Cottage Fries

Having it, “all” means I’ve believed a lie that there is such a thing.  And that I’m going to do everything I can to keep it all.  Until having it, “all” means just one more thing.  It’s fiction and a constantly moving finishing line.  I can never have it all just as I can never be all.  I can only have whatever is contained within this moment and truly appreciate whatever that is by exactly who I am at that same moment.

Sheila

But Not Today…

I added an additional item to my to-do list over the past few weeks because being a Mom of 2 1/2 year old twins while working full-time, and blogging wasn’t enough for me.  I am actively looking for a new job.  After a slow start, I’ve,  fortunately had an influx of calls lately and I’ve been setting up numerous interviews.  Although this is truly a blessing, it definitely adds some stress  to my life as well.

This morning I woke up, called my work’s weather alert line and discovered that, like many other companies here in the northeast, my work was closed for the day due to the impending blizzard.

After putting down the phone, for a split second, I thought about going back to sleep.  My daughter was happily sleeping diagonally across her full sized bed and my son was draped across my spot in my own bed next to my sleeping husband.  My only option for getting some extra Z’s was heading over to my son’s bed.  I took two steps towards his room and stopped suddenly.  I looked around me and really took in the fact that I was in a very dark – it was 5:00am – and a very quiet – everyone else was still sound asleep – house.  It was a peaceful quiet that I wanted to soak in rather than sleep away.  I decided to make use of these extra few golden minutes before inevitably hearing one of my children shout “Mama” letting me know they were awake and ready to party.

I sat down at my PC and continued, completed, and submitted another online job application. Then, I began to think of all of the things that were on my plate for tomorrow.  Nerves, insecurities, and anxieties began to creep in. I let out a huge sigh but immediately afterward the words: “but not today” came into my head.

The power of those three words really resonated with me.  By worrying about the many things that I had to accomplish tomorrow, I had completely lost today.  It was 5:15am and before uttering those three simple words – “but not today” – I had completely lost a full day of everything in this world that means anything to me.

I was grateful that those words suddenly came to me because at that point, a sense of calm filled every inch of me from head to toe.  My whole demeanor changed.  I began to embrace today because today is a snow day. Today is a day that I get to spend with my husband and children all warm, cozy, and safe in our home.  I owe myself and my family the opportunity to have me completely present today and I can be present because I have no additional obligations on my plate today which is a gift.  Life is hard. It’s nonstop.  We have to take those gifts as they come and not waste them because we are worrying about what we have to do tomorrow.

So, I am proud to say that I lived today.  I played with play doh, I played board games, I read books, I sang songs, I gave extra hugs, extra kisses, and I smiled beautifully all day long.   It was only after I tucked my children into bed that I wrote some thank you notes to companies that I interviewed with and composed the rest of this blog post.  Truth be told – I started it on my iPhone during an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

I hope on days when worry over some future event overtakes you, that you remember those three little words:  “But Not Today.”  Because we owe it to ourselves to enjoy the good times that we are blessed with and not let worrying about tomorrow rob us of experiencing the gifts of today.

Mommy Guilt of A Different Color

We all have Mommy guilt whether we are working Moms or stay at home Moms. Most of this guilt, we bring upon ourselves and it stems from our unconditional love for our children.

However, I am not here to talk about that kind of Mommy guilt. That kind of Mommy guilt, in a way, can almost be worn as a badge of honor because ultimately the guilt we feel comes from a good place – a place of love; a place of devotion.  This guilt occurs because we, as Moms, want to do more for our children but we only have so much time, so much money, and so much energy to do so.  Outside factors, beyond our control, contribute and cause this kind of Mom guilt.

But this different kind of Mommy guilt that I am referring to is the guilt that we may feel at the end of the day after we tuck our babies into bed. Working Moms attempt to meet unattainable expectations both at work and at home.   More often than not we are the rope in a nonstop game of tug of war as our work lives and our home lives pull at us in completely opposite directions.  We never actually win at this game but just play hard enough to stay in it somehow.

I’ve heard stay at home moms say that day after day of caring for their kids with little to no adult interaction while wearing sweats and having messy hair makes them feel isolated and alone;  almost forgetting the women that they once were.

Working Moms often count the minutes until it’s time to go home, yet when we finally get there, we have a laundry list to get through – that may or may not include laundry.  Who am I kidding?  It always includes laundry!  We have to make dinner, feed our children, give them baths, and get them ready for bed; making the strongest of attempts to fit into two hours all of the love and hugs that we weren’t able to give them during the day.

But during our nightly chores, there’s a part of us looking at the clock and thinking… just a half hour left until bedtime.  And as that thought comes into our head, we smile to ourselves and feel a sense of relief, which helps us to push ourselves to finish our unending list of chores. I know stay at home moms must do the same; craving a couple hours of freedom each evening before passing out from utter exhaustion.

As I sit watching my children drift off into dreamland I feel a sense of accomplishment that I’ve made it through another day and a sense of gratitude that I’m about to get my coveted “me” time. Then, that different type of Mommy guilt that I mentioned earlier begins to creep in.  How can I be excited to be getting time to myself when there is nowhere I’d rather be than with my kids?  Am I living only for this downtime?  Am I wishing their childhood away?  Am I missing it all by just going through the motions?  Am I a bad Mother?  And as a working Mom who just spent the day away from her kids, how can I be craving time away from them?  This is the guilt that eats away at us in a different way than the more noble kind of Mommy guilt.

The way that I get over this type of Mommy guilt is twofold. First, I realize that my kids know without a shadow of a doubt that they are my entire world; because they are. They never question that I want to be with them every second that I get. Second, I know that I’m a good Mom – no – I know that I’m a great Mom. But I’m only human and it is totally and completely exhausting to give 100% of yourself away – every single minute of every single day – up until that point that our kids fall asleep.

Whether it be to our company at work or our family at home, Moms are givers. And those couple of hours of downtime before we go to bed allow us to somehow keep our sanity and recharge; giving us the strength to be able do it all again the next day and the next day after that.  And yes, time does pass by quickly but if you are working hard for your family, loving your kids, and making sure they know you are there for them totally and completely, you aren’t missing anything. You are living and Mommying exactly how you should be. You are doing your best and your best turns good kids into good people which is our biggest goal in all of this.  At the end of the day, before you close your eyes, peel away the layers of the day that don’t truly matter – work, chores, frustration, exhaustion, etc. and what do you have?  If the answer is a grateful heart then you are living right and there is nothing to ever feel guilty about.

A Mom’s Ultimate Top 10 Turn-Ons

Seriously guys… this is big.

Husbands?  Yes, I’m talking to you.  This post is written especially for you. Consider me your ultimate wing-“man” right now because I am going to tell you exactly what turns your wife on.  And I assure you, if you implement any, some, or all (OMG did it just get hot in here?) of these suggestions, your marriage will be filled with much happiness and a whole lot of love.

I know you’re scared. I know a part of you doesn’t even feel worthy. But listen up, take it in, and use every single suggestion!

Now that I’ve got your attention, shut off the game that you’re either watching or playing – sorry, I know you’re doing one of the two so just pause it, okay?! Pay attention!

Sorry that I had to get a little forceful but this is important so treat it that way.  I think we are clear but it bears repeating; say any of these things to your wife and you will be rewarded handsomely!

So without further ado, here is the list!

A Mom’s Ultimate Top 10 Turn-Ons:

    1. Good morning, beautiful.  I made you coffee.
      Coffee is happiness in liquid form. It’s also our lifeblood as Moms. So, make it, buy it, and serve it often.
    2. How about I entertain the kids while you go and take a shower?! Take as long as you’d like. I washed your favorite comfy fleece pajamas and socks for you to put on afterward.
      Okay that last part is gravy but having the time to shower without little people screaming our name while simultaneously pounding on the door is such a gift.
    3. The baby just pooped. Don’t get up!  I’ll change him.
      This one doesn’t really need further explanation but trust me when I say that being able to avoid seeing or smelling poop at least once in a while is a real treat for us.
    4. I’m going to vacuum the rug now. It looks a little dirty.
      If you see something is messy, rest assured we already noticed it. Either we haven’t had a spare minute to clean it ourselves or we just don’t have the energy right now to do it. Either way, you taking care of a noticeable mess means we don’t have to and I cannot stress enough how great that it.
    5. I put clean sheets on our bed and started a load of laundry.
      We don’t get to spoil ourselves too often as Mommies and that is actually something that is totally okay with us. However, we do look forward to the little joys in life and one of those is the feeling of getting into bed after a long day and enjoying clean sheets once in a while. And the laundry pile never seems to dwindle so if you help fight the good fight against dirty laundry it is greatly appreciated.
    6. I’m sorry. I only made Mac & Cheese for dinner.
      Please trust me.  If dinner is made, we don’t care what it is. We didn’t have to cook it so it’s automatically delicious.  I’m certain, “automatically delicious” would have been Lucky’s slogan had the Lucky Charm’s Leprechaun been a girl.  We don’t need dinner to be “magically delicious” by any stretch.  Edible is just fine.  And for the record, we love Mac & Cheese.
    7. I know you were up a lot last night with the kids. I’ll take the kids outside to play for a few and you can go take a nap.
      We are tired pretty much all of the time. It’s difficult to be Mommy. It’s nonstop. So, if we can get any extra rest in at any point in time, we’ll smile, take it, and be forever grateful.
    8. I emptied the dishwasher and put all the dishes away.
      Emptying the dishwasher, even if it’s filled to the brim, only takes about 5 minutes. But do you know how many 5 minute chore-type activities we do during the course of day? Like a million!  Okay, so it’s not a million but that’s what it seems like!  And getting to do even one less chore, is more than fine with us!
    9. I just finished cleaning the bathrooms.
      To be honest, you can’t ever go wrong with saying the words “I cleaned”.  Whatever follows those two magical words almost doesn’t even matter. If you cleaned anything, it’s just wonderful. The end.
    10. The kids are asleep. I poured you a glass of wine.
      I’m not going to bother explaining this one. Just get out the glass and pour.

You’re welcome.

Resume Builders for the New Mom

Now that I am a mother I feel that I have some additional skills that should be added to my resume.  Feel free to add these gems to yours as well.

Resume Builders for the New Mom

  • Exceptional block builder; regularly builds towers exceeding 2 feet in height.
  • Extensive experience working 24 hours days and can perform any and all job functions on limited to no sleep
  • Can effectively use play dough maintaining excellent color separation; prevents blending of dough to undesirable brown color.
  • Convincing impressionist; Can alter voice to sound similar to Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Elmo, and Abby Cadabby; demonstrations upon request.
  • Can contort body in various matrix-like positions if it means not waking sleeping baby.
  • Effectively memorized all verses of “Wheels on the Bus” including a fabulous impression of a Mom saying “Shhh…shhh…shhh – seriously… I say this all day.
  • Mastered driving while children yell, cry, and throw things; can find almost any object in a diaper bag with hand while driving and give it to requesting child without taking eyes off road.
  • Can deliver any and all news – good or bad –  in a very soothing, calming voice.
  • Fluently interprets broken English.
  • Can complete jigsaw puzzles quickly often while simultaneously performing other activities such as meal preparation and waste management.
  • Memorized a series of books which include but are not limited to:  Good Night Moon, But Not the Hippopotamus,  The Cat In The Hat, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
  • Can be ready for virtually anything at a moments notice (Can be dressed in 5 minutes from the moment of turning on the shower to the tying of my shoes if position requires)

I Am Entitled to My Own Pity Party

I’m not sure if I am the only one who does this.  Sometimes, more often than I’d like to admit, I feel bad for myself.  And immediately… and I’m talking seconds after these feelings creep in… I feel an insurmountable level of guilt about ever having had these feelings in the first place.

Then, I have an internal dialogue with myself where I tell myself that I do not deserve to feel badly for myself.  I tell myself that my life is amazing.  My children, my husband, my parents, and those that I love the most in this world are healthy and safe.  I am healthy and safe.  We don’t worry about where our next meal is coming from.  We have a nice home.  I really do not deserve, even for a second, to feel badly for myself.  There is nothing to feel bad about so suck it up and stop it…. RIGHT NOW!

This little pep talk that I have with myself, more often than not, gets me out of the momentary funk that I am in, and I table those feelings of self-pity typically for the remainder of the day.  But eventually these feelings return and I go through the above process again and again.  What I’ve realized recently is that we all have feelings for a reason and I am becoming a believer that the healthiest way to live is to not downplay your feelings but rather to embrace them.

It’s okay to feel bad for yourself sometimes.

Now, when I feel bad for myself instead of trying to deny the way that I’m feeling, I cry – if I need to.  I do.  Typically, I cry in the car on the way to work or on the way home.  The shower works too but my showers these days last a total of 3 minutes with my twins yelling MAMA!  MAMA!  at the door so … yeah… I cry when I’m alone in the car.

And during my Tear-A-Palooza, I tell myself that it’s okay to feel what I am feeling.  Instead of deflecting my feelings and feeling guilty, I take ownership of my feelings and embrace them.  Feeling bad for yourself does not make you a bad person.  It also does not undo the fact that the majority of the time you feel blessed, happy, and grateful for all that you have.

I know that I am blessed.  That is a fact.  And probably a good 80% of the time I am beyond grateful for the many blessings that I have in my life.  So the rest of the time I allow myself to feel a little negative – annoyed, tired, sad… you name it.  Because you know what?  I rock.  I totally do!  I, like so many women, handle a whole lot of crap day in and day out and I do it with a smile.

smsm2 I help to support my family financially; I run my house; I provide support and love to those around me, etc.  Every single day my kids are appropriately dressed, well fed, safe, happy, are learning, growing and laughing.  Go me!  Every day, I go to work and I get things accomplished.  I make a positive difference in my company and in the lives of my coworkers.  Um… go me again!  My kids ate on clean dishes today because I cooked something and ran and emptied the dishwasher.  My kids are playing on a clean floor today.  Did a fairy come to my house and clean it?  No.  Me again!  I cleaned it.  My kids are wearing clean clothes because I washed and dried several loads of laundry this week even though I didn’t want to.

Letting yourself feel bad gives allows you to battle back and results in a stronger you!
Letting yourself feel bad allows you to battle back and results in a stronger you!

So if I feel bad for myself for 15 minutes because at the end of the day I am exhausted, don’t have even a moment to myself, feel a little unappreciated, and cannot figure out how I am going to find the strength to do it all again tomorrow, then I am completely 100% entitled to feel exactly that way!    And you are too!

So embrace the bad feelings among all the good ones that you feel everyday.  Feeling bad does not undo the good.  Allowing yourself the ability to see your feelings through is healthy.  I am not a doctor but I am willing to bet that validating your sad feelings probably wards off depression.  So my advice is:  frown for a little bit in order to be better able to show off that beautiful smile of yours for the long-run!

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Beware of Dog: Avoid The Wrath of Your Inner Pit Bull

I’m a really nice person 95% of the time (okay maybe less now that I’m a sleep deprived Mother of twins).  As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a side of me that I don’t like very much. It’s a side of me that I rarely care to talk about. It’s one that people who know me well wouldn’t even believe exists.

This is Me… Most of the time.

Let me put it this way… I can turn from a nice, friendly Golden Retriever to a Rabid Pit Bull in 2 seconds flat over something that appears to be completely insignificant on the surface.

This is me… on occasion

However, if you peel away the several layers of events leading up to the Rabid Pit Bull attempting to maul your face off persona, any rational person would understand why I exploded.

Let me illustrate this scene for you.  One morning, I’m giving my son a hug and he starts acting like the 2 year old that he is and playfully head-butts me in the face.  He did this so hard that it instantly brought tears to my eyes.  My husband says… “He was just playing.  He didn’t mean it.”  I say nicely, while in a lot of pain… “I know but it still really hurt.”  So, while icing my face, I go into the kitchen to pull the corn muffins out of the oven that I was baking for breakfast.  My husband and kids come to the table.

While continuing to ice my face, I skillfully attempt to remove the corn muffins with my free hand and put them on a plate. I guess I didn’t put enough cooking spray on the pan so the muffins stuck a little.  I carefully slide the knife around the perimeter of two muffins – one for each kid – put them on a plate and begin to butter them.  While I am about to serve my children the muffins, my husband exclaims: “The corn muffins are stuck.  How do I get them out?”  Enter the Rabid Pitbull!  REALLY???  DIDN’T YOU JUST SEE ME TAKE TWO MUFFINS OUT OF THE PAN WITH A KNIFE?!  AND EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T, HOW CAN THIS BE SOMETHING THAT YOU SERIOUSLY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DO??!!

You see, the Rabid Pit Bull isn’t all bark. Sometimes, when the Pit Bull makes an appearance it just bites.  I’m not sure which Pit Bull is scarier to deal with.  The one that yells at the top of her lungs or the one that is so sarcastically biting that an actual Rabid Pit Bull would run away yelping with its tail between its legs.

Here’s an example of the biting Rabid Pit Bull… After washing and folding two loads of laundry, emptying the dishwasher, and putting something on the stove for dinner I yell “Hun the garbage is full.”  He’ll say:  “Okay” and then pauses and says: “Do you want me to take it out now?”  I yell back:  “Oh no… I think we should wait until it overflows onto the floor or until the smell becomes so overpowering that we’ll have to condemn the house.”

I know that when my husband asked me if I wanted him to take out the trash now, that I should have responded (like the nice Golden Retriever I typically am ) with a “Yes please” or “That’d be great, hun.”  But once the Rabid Pit Bull reveals its ugly face, its bite is tough to control.

It’s not a husband’s fault that his wife’s inner Pit Bull comes out.  We are just wired differently.  We have an agenda that we have to keep. If we don’t do a great job of communicating said agenda its frankly because we are too busy. We are trying to hold it all together. We wish he could read our mind and do the next item on our ever growing to-do list because what needs to be done is so blatantly obvious to us that we cannot fathom why he doesn’t see it.

So we go, go, go and do, do, do as we try to circumvent the kids who are running in our path when we are carrying and hauling too much in our hands and arms or begin the task of putting away the toys that are all over the living room floor ( didn’t we just pick these up just five minutes ago?).

Is it not understandable that we become wildly frustrated? And we can deal with this frustration for awhile. Our husbands would probably never believe it but we are really adept at handling frustration. The building blocks of frustration continue to mount and then just when you reach what you think is the brink of frustration, your unsuspecting well-intended husband asks you what you view as the dumbest question of all time: “where are my keys?”. Seconds after this question leaves his lips, the barbed wire cage holding that Rabid Pit Bull opens and the poor guy gets ripped to shreds.

So to the women like me, I think we should ask for help earlier, right when frustration begins to set in. In most cases, our husbands actually want to help us. They just don’t know how. I know.  I know.  You just wish they knew how. But they don’t. We have to accept this in order to keep the Rabid Pit Bull away.  So try your best to ask for help when you need it and remain that beautiful, sweet, Golden Retriever that you are.

Some People Just Don’t Like Your Face

Back in 1985, I sat across from this girl in kindergarten.  We sat 4 kids to a table and out of the many tables in my class, I was “lucky” enough for her to be seated at mine.  She didn’t actually make fun of me.  It was the oddest thing.  Each and I might add, every day, she would loudly exclaim that I was making faces at her. Not once had I ever made a face at Jessica, yet every  day she would accuse me of doing so.She would rally her fellow soldiers, also known as my classmates, to choose sides against me.

I am relatively certain that Jessica may have participated in some form of military training.  I can’t be certain though, as we didn’t attend the same preschool.  The reason I say this is because first she was relentless – did you order the code red?  Answer the question!  Were you making faces? – And secondly she could control peoples’ minds. Eventually she succeeded in convincing each of my classmates that I ACTUALLY WAS MAKING FACES AT HER.  Day after day passed as she managed to continue her torture tactics, refusing to stop  until no one in the class would sit with or play with me.  So officially, at 5 years of age, I had my first arch-nemesis.

As I write about it now, the feelings of insecurity and introspective questioning that would plague me on a daily basis continue to puzzle me.  What possible expressions was I unintentionally and repeatedly making with my face? But alas, I still don’t know.  My only explanation was that Jessica just didn’t like my face.

Thus commenced my ill-fated relationship with Jessica.  Throughout elementary school, she constantly tried to make my life miserable.  Finally in the 3rd grade, we weren’t in the same class so I was actually able to make some friends. Then, in the 4th grade, the girl I considered to be my best friend was in the same class as Jessica and they became best friends.  So of course, I again got the shaft.  Another big win for Jessica.

But anyway, I tell this story because Jessica did me a really big favor back in kindergarten.  She made me realize that no matter what you do, there are just certain people in life who just won’t like your face.  And you probably will never figure out why. They may not even know why themselves.  But it’s just a fact.  They don’t like your face.

I still struggle with this to this day… no, not with Jessica.  I struggle when people don’t like me.  It doesn’t happen very often as I am a really nice person – true story – but it does happen and like I did in kindergarten, I rattle my brain thinking about what possible face I could have made at the person to make them dislike me.  But, then I realize, thanks in part to Jessica, that it isn’t anything that I did.  Sometimes people just don’t like your face.

Luckily you will meet people who love you just the way you are!

You can only be the best you that you can be.  You can only be the person that you are.  And if people don’t like that, then they simply don’t like it and you just have to accept that fact and move on.

So, my advice is to embrace all those wonderful people who actually LOVE your face because thankfully, in life, there are usually more lovers than haters.  And more importantly, love your own face.  You’re the one who has to look at it and all its many expressions for the rest of your life.  Not Jessica.  Definitely not Jessica.

“No” is Not a Swear Word. And Good Friends Will Never Make You Feel Guilty For Saying It.

The key to long lasting relationships is the mutual understanding that at times life will inevitably get in your way.  Good friends will appreciate the times when you are able to get together and accept the times when you cannot.  Their feelings for you will never be dependent upon the “what have you done for me lately” mentality.

All About Me

From grade school through your twenties you have nothing but time. You are so wrapped up in yourself, that you actually think you’re busy and that your time is limited. You also think that you’re tired and overworked but that’s for another post.

Growing up is all about ME-time and it should be!

You get your first job and you even keep up the social schedule you had during college and/or your early twenties. Thirsty Thursday – do they even call it that anymore? – was still totally doable. Go to a concert on a weeknight? Absolutely! Go to Vegas for the weekend? Of course! Can’t miss that. It’s going to be epic. Plan a spa day to take a break from… your ME-centric life – You bet

Friends invite you to things left and right and you wouldn’t dream of refusing because every single minute of your “free time” is actually free unless you make actual plans.  Also, if you lose some sleep time , you can always sleep later on Sunday to make up for it.

Saying I Do

Then come your late twenties and early thirties. Typically around this time you get married. After the “I dos” you live as a unit of two and you are less focused on yourself as an individual and are subsequently more focused on you as a couple. This mind-shift begins when you are dating / engaged.  You’ll notice this change when people make plans with you and you begin changing your typical response from “I’d love to” to “We can’t wait.” But if you’re just a couple, you can still be pretty selfish. Now, life has given you a live-in pal to go on vacation with, go out to fancy dinners with, sit next to at the movies, go on group dates with and go in on large purchases with – like a new car or a house.

Every aspect of your life will change when you are responsible for someone else.

And Baby Makes 3

Then you reach your early to mid-thirties and for some this all happens much earlier and/or out of sequence but either way there typically comes a time after you get married where you stare adoringly in each other’s eyes and talk about how amazing it will be to have children.

Some couples are aware of the magnitude of this decision but only up to a point. Others are completely oblivious to the fact that having kids will change every single thing about life as you have known it up to this point.

Like the majority of my friends, I have two full-time jobs: working at my day job and being a Mom to my kids. I have little to no time to do much else beyond those two things. I’m okay with that but some of my friends are not. These friends take it very personally when I turn down invitations to do things.

Take Time For Yourself

I admit it; I turn down invitations a lot.  But to be completely honest, I am barely making it.  I am exhausted every single night and on the weekends I spend the quality time with my kids that I miss during the workweek. This “quality time” also includes catching up on multiple loads of laundry, housecleaning, food shopping, meal preparation, and countless other household chores. By the end of my day on Saturday, after my husband and I put our kids to bed, we get into bed ourselves.  Our additional activities at that point, besides sleeping, include: watching a little TV, reading, or playing on our phones. That’s it.

So, when you ask me to do something and I say “no,” I am not saying no to your invitation because I don’t like you or because I no longer enjoy having fun. I am saying no to your invitation because I want to spend my extra time with my children and because I need to get things done that I am unable to do during the week.   I also need some time to just lay in bed and rest because I am exhausted. Did I fail to mention that?

Say No Without Feeling Guilty

I’ve only recently come to the realization that it is not a sin to say “no.”  It also isn’t my personal responsibility to make everyone else happy. I try my very best to give of myself to others because that’s the kind of person that I am.  However, I am unable to give to them what I do not have in the first place.

Someday my kids with be older and I will be able to have more of a social life.  And when that time comes, the friends that understand and do not make judgments will be there and it’ll be as if life hadn’t gotten in our way for these past 10 years. Those friendships are the golden ones. Those friends know that life is hard.  They understand that you only have the capacity to do so much.  They love you for who you are and have zero expectations.  These are the friendships that will withstand the test of time.

My Mind Is Best Friends with the Energizer Bunny

One of the age-old stereotypes is that women are always “too tired”.  Well, this stereotype is magnified tenfold if a woman is a mother and although I dislike stereotypes, I fear that this one may actually be true.  Allow me to explain why.

If a woman is awake, it is pretty safe to say that she is never actually in a true state of relaxation.  To the outside world looking in, it may appear that a woman is relaxing just as much as the man who is sitting next to her on the couch.

Guys watch football. Women watch football while thinking about everything they have to do.

We exhibit all of the signs that we are relaxing. Our feet are propped up on a recliner, we’re enjoying a snack and a beverage.  We have the television on, are seated comfortably next to our husbands, and we are watching a football game.

However, what the outside world fails to see is that although our bodies may be “at rest”, our minds are still running a mile a minute.  We are thinking about literally everything that is going on in our lives and trying to figure out how all of these things can possibly get done.

We are thinking about the presentation we have to make at the board meeting on Monday and worrying that the IT guy didn’t fix our PC that was randomly restarting every time we typed the letter “L.”  Do you know how many words contain the letter “L”?  A lot.  Okay.  A lot.

We are thinking about what we are going to bring to Janie’s potluck dinner on Friday and when we are going to find the time to run to the grocery store to grab the ingredients that we need to make it.  We grab a pen and paper and begin making our grocery list; mapping out the aisles where the needed food items are located so we can shave off even just 5 minutes of our shopping trip.

We are thinking about how to help our kids and be better Moms 24/7.
We are thinking about how to help our kids and be better Moms 24/7.

We are thinking about how we are going to get our kids to eat more vegetables at meal time and how to best introduce new foods so that they can grow into healthy adults.  If we don’t start this process now, they’ll never like broccoli when they grow up and it’ll be all our fault.

We are thinking about that sound the car is making when we start it up and whether we should take it into the mechanic this week or wait until next week.  It’d be a shame to take it in only to pay a senseless diagnostic fee for nothing.

We are thinking about the kids’ doctor’s appointment and wondering if they need to get shots this time.  And… if they are getting shots, we need to add children’s ibuprofen to that grocery list.  Eh, it’d be smart to add it anyway… It’s always good to have some on hand.

We are thinking about how we haven’t talked to our closest friends in so long and that we miss them yet we have no energy or time to make plans.  Maybe this summer we’ll host a cookout and invite everyone over.  Yes!  We need to make that happen!

We are looking at the house walls and noticing nicks, chips, and crayon marks and as a result decide that now is the perfect time to choose new paint colors online.  Since we’re online anyway, we should simultaneously look for new snow boots for the kids because it’s snowing outside and they have been begging us to build their first snowman.

We are looking at the clock realizing that dinner time is approaching and we haven’t made anything for supper yet. So, we think about what we have in our freezer and pantry, get up off the couch, and start cooking… something… anything and praying that after it’s all done that the kids will actually eat it.

And while we are cooking, out of the corner of our eye, we see a UFC-style fight about to break out between our kids over a place mat. Yes, a place mat!  We shout that we have five other identical place mats on the table and that there is no need to fight over the one.  But alas, it is too late as we see our son body slam our daughter onto the floor while our daughter begins to attempt to claw our son’s eyes out. And for that minute, we are actually able to momentarily forget all of those thoughts that have been running through our mind all day, just long enough break the kids apart.

And what have our husbands been doing while our brains have been on overdrive?  “OMG… Hun!  Hun!  Did you see that play? Rodgers just threw a 50 yard touchdown bomb to send the Packers into overtime”  Yes, they were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing.  They were watching football.

And this is why we are tired and they are not.