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Sometimes Being A Mother Means You Have To Put Your Dreams On Hold

Having children has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Despite all the snot, laundry, and meal prep, it gives me a purpose greater than myself. I know that kids are not for everyone, and I give the utmost respect to those people who don’t want to have them. I get it, even though I have three of my own.

Being a parent–at least a good one–means that the life you have envisioned for yourself often changes drastically. And this cannot be any truer for a woman who is destined to rear the children.

Although there are stay-at-home dads, which I personally think is super cool, often times it’s the women who are left to hold down the fort and keep the kids alive while Daddy is off at work.

But what about all the dreams you had for your life, the ones that were for you, the ones like becoming successful or traveling the world? Those dreams get put on pause, and for those of us who don’t have the emotional support, financial means or the courage to pursue them once again, they often fade away.

For me, when this happened, it became a major problem. My dream was to combine a passion for something I loved with the opportunity to earn a decent living. I grew up with a single mother who worked her ass off to provide for me and a younger brother and I have a burning desire inside of me to earn money. I know that my husband loves me, and perhaps I’m a little jaded given my past, but I want to know that if something happened I could provide for myself. For me, I need that mental security.

I can say for myself that finding my dream again has made me a better mother. Not only because I am earning and I can help my husband to pay for things which helps to alleviate his stress, but because I get to reignite those passions and those dreams that I locked away for years when I was deep in diaper mode and playdates. I would say that I am lucky but that really isn’t the case. I worked tirelessly to get to the point that I am at in my career. I sacrificed so much of myself to get here. I earned this dream that I am now getting to live.

For me, that was my dream. Everyone has their own. Sure, I’d love to travel. That would really fantastic, but that will have to wait till I am much older and my kids are grown. They need me too much now. I can’t part with them without worry. And besides, all those beautiful places will be there in another 10 to 20 years. It can wait. For now, I am perfectly happy with this dream.

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How I Learned To Be The Mother I Never Knew I Could Be

I remember when my world used to feel so small. Me, my husband and our growing family up against the world. I think of the times when the little things used to bother me to the point of borderline insanity. I used to relish the fact that I had it all. Boy, I was stupid back then. Before you become a mother, you create this allusion in your mind of what life should be. The perfect life. You envision your kids becoming athletes and honor roll students, keeping those date nights regulated with the hubby and never having to worry about the heavy shit you didn’t plan for.

Then life happens. Things change. Warning: that life you dreamt for yourself isn’t going to go the way it did in your head.

I think to myself of all the things I took for granted. All the things that I used to put so much energy into that make me shake with anger and clench my teeth just thinking about now. Why was I so selfish and petty? Why did I always sweat the small stuff and forget the bigger picture?

I would trade everything that I thought was wrong in my life to change what breaks my heart now. I think of my children and my husband. He was that perfect person that I thought I could never, ever live without. Now there are days when I want to just be alone. I think of last summer, and how I’d made these hypothetical plans to potty train my youngest once he turns two. Now I’d give my left arm to just hear him call me “Mommy” again, like he did for months and stopped doing.

When you have kids with special needs, it softens your heart. I can say that. And the thought of something ever being “wrong” with a tiny person that you created is enough to make you feel like you’ve lost your appetite for an entire week. As a mother, you don’t plan for these things, but you do know that there’s a reason greater than you that made you this child’s parent, for men are not strong like we are. Men don’t fight and plead and beg to find out what the underlying issue is—they typically go with the “wait and see” or “it’s just in my wife’s head” approach. That is simply not in a man’s nature. (And if it is, please correct me for I have never heard of it—I’d feel relieved to know if it actually existed somewhere out there.)

The first time I knew something was “different” with my second child she was only 6 weeks old. Already born 5 weeks premature, she had cemented herself in my heart and my mind as the little warrior that made me strong but who I knew needed me just the same. I spent the next 4 years championing until I finally received her formal diagnosis, something I saw coming all along but still cried for the day the words were said to me over the telephone.

3 months later my life started to take a quick shift in another direction, one far more serious that made my first special needs child experience feel like a day at Disneyland.

I think of the first time the doctors suspected that my son had autism. But then immediately I think of the first time I finally admitted that this was a valid possibility. This is when I stopped lying for him, and for myself. This was the only way to take a step in the right direction and acknowledge the truth in front of me.

I went from a social person who loved entertaining and going out to a person that hated leaving her house and used any and every opportunity she had to travel when she could. I still am this person, but I am learning not to hide so much or escape. I think of the type of mother I want to be. Then I think of the type of mother I need to be. On good days, those two get a chance to meet.

Being a mother is a hard freaking job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mom who works, doesn’t work, has a nanny or struggles to survive. We are all in this together. I look at other mothers who are unflinching with courage. I see them, observing with adoring eyes when I go to my two children’s specialist appointments.

I wish they knew how beautiful they are, how easy they make this all look.

When they seem somewhat approachable, I often pay them a small compliment. It brings me joy in this strange way to see them smile, to let them know that they are just an awesome human being navigating through life. I too know that they most likely had those same dreams that I had of becoming a perfect mother to perfect little kids.

Someday, as I grow stronger and more confident in my role as a mother to special needs children, I hope that another mother can look to me for strength from a distance and know that they are strong and they are tough as hell, and that everything will be okay. There’s a reason that you are that child’s mother, and you will become stronger each day. I can promise you that. Don’t doubt your strength, it’s in there, even if you haven’t found it yet.

Also featured on Downs Ups & Teacups.

I’m Not Religious, But That Doesn’t Make Me A “Bad” Mom.

Religion to me is a lot like politics. People are going to believe what they want to believe and there isn’t much you can do to sway their opinions otherwise. I find it surprising when I meet people who feel the need to be over-the-top religious. I’ve always felt if you’re true to yourself then things should come naturally. You don’t need to share your bible journaling on social media every time you do it or preach about being #blessed 24/7.

I feel that regardless of age, people can change their personal beliefs about religion. I know that when I was a little girl, both of my parents told me that I would ride my bicycle singing “Jesus Loves Me” at the top of my lungs. My mother didn’t have a religious bone in her body but would attend church somewhat regularly with my father and I (who became a Christian at the ripe age of 50, shortly after I was born) on Sundays. This was until they split at the end of 1992 when I was 8.

For little kids, there’s just something about learning about religion from those that truly believe with that blind faith. It’s the type of faith that hasn’t been jaded and mistrusted that helps a tiny person to believe that all is good in the world. I didn’t have a conventional upbringing, I had a rough early adulthood (much to my own demise), and marriage and motherhood haven’t always been easy for me with the hardships that I’ve faced. Not to mention that I buried both my parents by the time that I was 30 years old, which although is a natural chapter in life, still weighs you down and overwhelms you with emotions.

When I meet people and the topic of religion ever does come up, I do my best to completely avoid the situation. I don’t want to have to explain to someone why I don’t believe, and I most certainly don’t want someone to make me feel bad or that I’m simply “missing out” for not believing. I don’t want to hear that there’s a book I “have to read” or that they will “pray for me” to change. Everyone needs something in life, and all religion has done for me is to make me question it to the point at which it makes me feel torn up inside. And to be completely honest, I feel much more at peace not dealing with that in my life.

I feel that to teach your kids to be good people, not taking your children to church every Sunday will not permanently damage them. I baptized all three of my children, mostly as a favor to my husband’s side of the family–as well as mine–because I knew that it meant something to them and that would make for a nice memory and celebration. I chose to send my two oldest children to a private religious preschool for one year because I wanted them to learn about God and the Bible and the things that I learned before I was old enough to make decisions on my own and choose what I wanted to believe.

Never will I shame someone for not taking their kids to church, or for not praying as a family or practicing religion. It’s not fair for me to be judged, especially since I’m pretty sure it says somewhere in the Bible that judging another person is wrong, anyway.

For myself, the door to religion has been closed. It’s not locked, but it’s closed for right now. Perhaps one day it will open again, but if for some reason it doesn’t, my life will still be complete.

Dear Metabolism: Was it Something I Said?

Getting old is no joke. And this is especially true when it comes to your weight. I feel like at the point I’m at in my life now, if I so much as walk past the bakery department at the grocery store I gain 4 pounds. I wonder when this crap started. And I know exactly when. 30. It was all downhill from there.

I should have listened to all my friends or family members who told me to enjoy it while it lasted. I thought I had it all figured out. I can eat what I want. I only have to workout a little. Yeah, well, I was wrong. Totally, totally wrong.

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Back before I worked 40+ hours a week and had no kids, I had more than enough time on my hands to focus on things like my weight. Now I am so damn busy there are days I wonder if I remembered to shower. This is a sad but very real reality. Throw a career and a few kids in the mix and you have yourself a recipe for “what the hell is a diet I’m just trying not to lose my damn mind” lifestyle mentality.

When I went on full-time again a few years ago, juggling diet and exercise and three kids wasn’t always the easiest task. I made it a good year before I got so burnt out and fed up I just didn’t have the mindset for it anymore.

Why am I killing myself? Who am I trying to impress? I am not a model or a celebrity, no one is going to jump out of the bushes at Walgreen’s to snap a photo of me. I am just a regular person. I can look like a regular person and no one else will notice.

Me, when it comes to “dieting” or “clean eating” or any of that other nonsense that makes me feel deprived of food…

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I learned to stop focusing on the outside so much and started focusing on the inside. And, within a year, I put on 25 pounds. I see numbers on the scale now that I haven’t seen since I was 8 months pregnant with my third child.

Mentally, it messed with my mind. And bad. What am I doing wrong? Why am I gaining so much weight? Is there something “wrong” with me? These questions consumed and plagued my mind and well-being.

But the truth of the matter is: I am actually enjoying my life now. I am not getting my happiness from a size of clothing that I am able to squeeze my body into.

Yeah, sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds, but who couldn’t? I spent so many years depriving myself to attain something that wasn’t realistic. I finally get that now. My metabolism didn’t physically leave my body. I was only the way I was because I walked around eating kale all day and exercising to the point of obsession.

And you know what? My body doesn’t crave kale, sorry. It craves tacos and pizza. It doesn’t want to feel hangry and moody AF from lack of food and sore to the point of fatigue from killing myself working out.

A photo of me, April 2013. This was at my lightest point, far below the 25 pounds I’ve put on since I’ve started enjoying my life, a year after my second child was born. I looked this way because I hardly ate and over-exercised. My body broke down, as well as my spirit. As sick as it sounds, I loved hearing how “skinny” I was. It fueled my obsession even more.

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I went to bed hungry so many nights because I was trying to be something that I am not. I am 5’10”. I will never weigh 120 pounds on my own without starvation being the reason I got there. That is not real life, unless that is how you naturally are.

I’ve learned from this two things:

  1. DO.NOT.WEIGH.YOURSELF.EVERY.DAY. This, by FAR, is the hardest for me. But I’ve finally learned to do it. Now I weigh myself maybe once a week, if I feel like it. And the odd thing is, now some of those pounds are starting to come off because I am happy and not obsessed. It’s more like, oh, wow, okay. So I can do this without killing myself.
  2. If you don’t “feel” like working out, don’t do it! Do not force your mind or your body to do something it’s not committed to. Sometimes it serves as good stress relief, but if you have real life heavy shit weighing you down and exercise feels like torture, then do not do it. Listen to your body and the cues it gives you to take things from a 12 to a 2.

We are not all the same person, but we are all human beings. We deserve to be happy. And we deserve not to kill ourselves to find it.

Me now, liberated and enjoying life, food, and of course, alcohol:

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9 Little Things For Moms In The Trenches Of Motherhood

Before I was a working mother, my life was totally different. I had several moments where I was bored, frustrated, angry, confused–and also several that were amazing because I was able to give my undivided attention to my kids 100% of the time. And then there’s also the fact that my presence was a lot less questionable during that time, I know this because my husband makes mention of it. Now some days I’m lucky if I remember to shower.

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Fast forward to my life now, and I work because it keeps me from totally losing my mind and it helps me to feel important to someone over the age of 5. I’ve also had major life changes that don’t give me another option to be able to stay home full-time. And god made alcohol (or man—although it should have been a woman, if you want to get technical), so I can totally do that once the kids are asleep at night to calm me down from the stress of life.

I don’t ever think anyone should ever have to apologize for wanting more, or have to justify their rationale to those who are quick to judge. I work because that’s my thing and I’m lucky enough to have found something that allows me to do it from home.

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We are all mothers here, we can all relate to certain things. And these are those right here:

-Alcohol: Yes, and lots of it. How else am I supposed to go to sleep at night after cranking coffee all day long? Plus, when I’m annoyed, it helps me to keep my eyes from permanently rolling in the back of my head.

-Curse words: Sometimes it just feels good to let the shit fly, and if you don’t think so you are totally full of it. But I use enough of them for you that there’s plenty of them to go around.

-Coffee: see alcohol. Also, my reason for existence on earth.

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-The Magical Thing Called “Bed Time”: My kids know the drill: From 10PM-6AM, I’m off the clock. Go bug your dad, because Mommy is unavailable to talk your calls or give a shit about who hit who or where your Beanie Boo toy is.

-Social Media: I need this because when I am slammed with work, and I happen to pop on social media for some air, I love to see how hard other mothers are working on Pinterest crap with their kids. Honestly, if I went to someone’s house and saw a wreath made out of popsicle sticks, I’d wonder if they knew it looked like shit on their front door.

-A Good Sense Of Humor: Shortly after my third child was born, I went on a run to the grocery store at night with my oldest in tow. When my daughter saw me breeze by the wine aisle, she asked if I was going to get any, to which I said “no” and her response was simply: “But you drank wine when you were pregnant?” Needless to say I wanted to die then and there but had to walk away quickly. Funny now, not so funny then.

-Yoga Pants: I did yoga a few times, put me right to sleep. The longest I hold still for is when I am driving because if I didn’t I would run off the damn road. But the pants are comfortable and they come with an adjustable waist band. #momass

-Dessert: Chocolate has superpowers. Enough said.

-Close Friends in the Trenches: Sometimes there is nothing better than being able to message another mother at random, because you know she can relate to whatever shit you’re going through. Life is short, and we can all use someone to lean on.

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Damn you Dads…Always the “Cool” Ones.

Men are simple creatures. I’ve always thought that. They like simple things, they’re easy to please. Screw them, feed them, shut the F up—for the most part. Give them a remote and a beer and they’re usually A-OK. Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but you catch my drift.

From what I’ve seen, when it comes to parenting, those sneaky bastards always seem to have the upper hand. Moms are the boring ones who make you do your homework and finish your food, the ones who make sure the kids have flossed their teeth and taken a bath before bed. What do men do exactly? Aside going to this magical place called “work” every day?

Here are 5 little things that all dads get that can make us moms batshit crazy:

Praise for cooking

OMG, Dad! These are the best eggs ever! I didn’t know you could cook!”

–insert eye roll straight into the back of head and invisible dagger through man’s chest thinking of how these same kids just throw your eggs on the damn floor….which you obviously have to clean, too–

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To not to have to worry all the damn time about every little thing.

What are the kids gonna wear? What are the kids gonna eat? What, when, why, how times infinity times a million.

The mother is responsible for bathing, dressing, meal lunch prep, after school snack prep, basically anything that involves actually caring for said child in the literal sense. Dads cannot be concerned with such things. They worry about things like golf and when they are going to get their next meal. Dad gets to walk in with a big “Heyyy!” and all of a sudden Jesus has risen from the dead while you stand there covered in snot and soup thinking what the hell is wrong with this equation.

To SLEEP.

What.the.fuck is a “nap” anyway? And more importantly, why do they get them and not me?

The last time I got a nap was when I was laying in a hospital bed. You know, the same day our last child was ripped out of my body. The last time he got a nap was Sunday.

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To be the cool one who doesn’t have to drive the minivan.

Seriously. I had to trade in the last cool thing I had left. These kids already took my damn body and sanity, they’ve got to take my cool car, too? Might has well have gotten a hearse, because my life is basically over with.

To Not Have To Play Nurse 24/7

I love my kids oh-so-much but when they are sick I want to dip myself in Lysol. Dear Ol’ Dad isn’t forced to drag them to the doctor’s office into the cesspool of germs, that’s mom’s job…just like it is to hold their hair when they puke…even when it’s on you.

I Am Not Pinterest Mom…Just The Queen Of Pinterest Fails

I remember when Pinterest first came around. My brain is a little foggy from loss of brain cells since that time, but I’d say it was around 2012 when it started gaining widespread pandemonium popularity. I remember this because it was also the year that I had my second child…13 months after having my first. Yes, I know, I’m crazy. But all is well now.

Obviously when you have kids back to back as I did, cramming in a career is usually not an option. Unless you work from home or have a ton of help–or you don’t mind paying several thousand dollars a year for childcare. Since I am not a celebrity or rich, I didn’t have the option to bounce right back into a flourishing career so I wanted something “to do” when I wasn’t preoccupied with diapers and feedings, etc.

As I started hearing all this buzz surrounding Pinterest, I remember telling my husband about it. Like most things, he said, “sounds expensive” and left it at that. And really, he’s right. Unless you’re super crafty or it comes naturally to you there’s a tendency to stock up like you’re preparing for the Apocalypse when going to the craft store. And Pinterest fails? I’m the queen of those. I don’t have the patience for it and I burn my fingers with the stupid hot glue.

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I remember feeling jealous when I could see other mothers make all these cool crafts for and with their kids and wondering why I couldn’t do shit like that. Am I doing it wrong? Is it really that hard? Surely it couldn’t be. But then when the novelty wore off for me, which is about a month or so given my gnat-like attention span for trying new things, I realized why. Because it wasn’t me. I am not Pinterest Mom nor will I ever be. Those things just don’t come naturally for me.

I am touchdown dance mom. I am mom who likes to have dance parties to YouTube videos in the living room. I am mom who likes to take you to Starbucks and order you caffeine-free Frappuccinos. I am mom who will sing along with you to Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber songs in the car.

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We all have our strengths, we don’t have to be the same. We don’t have to be made to feel bad if we don’t relate to other mothers for things that are widely popular. It doesn’t matter, you are no less of a mother and your kids aren’t going to sit back and tell your grandkids one day about that amazing cheesecloth project y’all made together when they were 7. Let it go, along with the PTA and all the other mother stuff you feel like you have to like but don’t.

Be the mom YOU want to be and don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re not a true mom because of it.