After a year of Mommy Blogging…

So, it’s been a year since launching Tell Another Mom, and I thought that I should write a post about my experience breaking into the world of ‘mommy blogging’. First off, my one year anniversary date passed the end of February. It is clearly the middle of March. So I guess one of the biggest lessons I learned about blogging, is that if you are going to be in it for the long haul, you have to roll with the punches and write when you are inspired, and not because you have to. Somewhere along the line I became very fixated on how many times I was posting a week, how much traffic I was getting and where my social media numbers were at. When I stepped back and reminded myself that this blog was supposed to be about helping other moms, and not about becoming some worldwide blogging celebrity… it became fun again.

The second thing I learned about mommy blogging, is that there is always someone else out there that feels the same way you do. I realized after only a few months of blogging, that there are so many moms out there that feel alone and are relieved to hear another mom vent about relatable topics. Sometimes I would write an article and sit and stare at that publish button on the screen. Nervous and reluctant to post it, I would hesitate publishing what I wrote with the worry that I was the only mom out there that struggled or felt overwhelmed with some part of motherhood. I have been so surprised by the support that has poured over the past year. Support from moms who have felt alone, but read something on my blog that helped in some way. Encouragement from mothers who have been through so many of the same things we can be so mute about in our daily lives. And now, this blog that I created to help other moms, has turned out to be a huge support system for myself.

The third thing that I discovered is that sometimes writing can offer clarity. I have sat around worrying and over analyzing about pretty much any topic in the ‘mommy handbook’. And yet, sit me down in front of a computer and I can write about my thoughts, anxieties, and fears… and finish feeling like I have it all figured out. Or… that I am indeed a little crazy. Yes, when you read your thoughts on paper, it can be a little… well… shocking. I have, on more than one occasion, realized that I am indeed slightly crazy, after reading my honest reflections on screen. But, the best part is… I am not alone. I have on more than one occasion read comments from other moms that are relieved to hear they are not the only ones out there that have totally lost their minds all together. Yes, motherhood can take a toll on your sanity… for sure.

And the last thing I have realized, is that if you are going to blog, and write honestly… you better be very comfortable in your own skin. Every single time you publish something, there are going to be those who disagree with what you have to say. There are going to be people who passionately argue every single point you make, even when you think you’ve written the most uncontroversial article possible. At the end of the day, if you are blogging, you need to accept that not everyone is going to like what you are saying or doing. You also have to be prepared to be completely transparent. I write pretty open and honestly about my experiences as a mother. People relate more to the ‘downs’ than the ‘ups’ in life. So it is kind of ironic that so many blogs out there tend to leave out all the hardships in their writing. I have connected the most with other mothers when I have written about the struggles I wanted to pretend never happened.

So, to all the moms out there who have followed the blog this past year… thank you. Thank you for your kind words, encouragement, criticism, advice and support. You are the reason I continue to write and share my stories and experiences… the good, the bad, and the sometimes ugly. I often feel like I will never be alone in any struggle, because there will always be one of you out there brave enough to share your story. Because of that… I am inspired.

Surviving Solo… in the Winter

I have an immense respect for all the moms out there who are surviving this winter season on their own. Whether you are a single mom, have unconventional work schedules, or just find yourself tackling some of this season’s hardship on your own… give yourself a huge pat on the back. I can tell you that this winter season has not been an easy one for me. With a husband who works twelve hour shifts, and a very angry Mother Nature, I find myself muddling through just praying for spring. I seriously think I must have pissed in the corn flakes of Mother Nature, and now every single time she decides to dump a foot of snow on us, she waits until 6am when my hubby leaves. She then has a good old chuckle as snow continues to fall for the next eight to ten hours, forcing me to go out and clear the driveway just to get out.

kids_snow

My kids…enthusiastically dressed for winter.

But of course, before I even think about how I am going to manage to clear the driveway, I am forced to face the reality that, once again, the buses have been cancelled. ‘Yeah… SNOW DAY!’ Awesome. A full fun filled day with two children driving me crazy inside the house. But wait… I can’t leave them unsupervised in the house for the hour it will inevitably take me to clear the whole driveway. So we start the search for two pairs of snow pants, boots, mittens, hats… you know the drill. Oh, yes, and now we have to get all this stuff on. Wonderful.

After a half hour of fighting, crying and complaining, we are ready to go out into the bitter cold to clear the driveway. Now, the last time I was tasked with shoveling, I naturally thought I would just fire up the good ol’ snow blower. Well, last time ended with me yelling profanities repeatedly while I frantically pushed buttons, pulled strings and inevitably kicked the damn thing a few times. But this time… is going to be different. I am going to conquer this ridiculous contraption. As I push buttons and pull strings… nothing happens. I am convinced now that this horrible machine has alliances with the dreaded lawn mower. I envision them at night conspiring against me in the garage as they pound back some gasoline and have a great chuckle at my expense.

With one last yank on the pull cord, I finally hear the bloody thing start up. The kids have already buried each other in the snow bank at the end of the driveway and are screaming and fighting. But not to worry… I can’t hear them anymore because I am finally snowblowing the driveway. It may have taken me a while, but I have won. I push the silly machine back and forth and curse as it blows snow everywhere other than where I want it to go. Then, I decide to stop pushing it into the blasting wind. This helps… a little.

When I finally finish the driveway, I pull the kids out of the snow bank and head inside. We take off all the layers of wet soggy snow gear, and then I mop up the front doorway. Somewhere along the line, it’s become tradition to have hot chocolate EVERY TIME we come in from playing in the snow. I get the hot cocoa’s ready, hang all the clothes in front of the fireplace and plop myself on the couch. I am exhausted. And it’s only 11am. And I get to do this all over again before we head out for gymnastics in about four hours…assuming that the expected six more inches of snow keeps coming down.
So for all you moms out there rolling your eyes because you do this all the time, know that I am not complaining. I am saying, ‘you are amazing’. Raising kids can be super hard. Winter weather can be really shitty. And sometimes tackling both at the same time is overwhelming. So this one is for all the moms who have conquered the winter weather, either yesterday, today or maybe in the days to come, you are doing a great job! Even if the snowblower occasionally wins a battle or two.

Breastfeeding Bliss

I am please to welcome another great guest blogger to the Tell Another Mom site. I myself may have not had very much luck with breastfeeding, but I could certainly relate to this humorous post by Shelbi!

shelbi_KleinMy name is Shelbi Klein, and I am a mother and a wife just sharing my story. My blog is called “And Then Came Baby” at shelbiklein.com. When I write I try to speak honestly (and hopefully sometimes with some humor) about the ups and downs of motherhood and marriage. I support every mother who gets up every day, loves her children, and manages to keep them alive. I don’t care if you breastfeed, formula feed, work, stay at home, gave birth naturally, or begged for drugs… You are a good mom, and you are doing a great job! 

I feel it has to be addressed. People always talk about the glory of nursing. Seriously, when I read about nursing while I was pregnant it all kinda sounded like this:

“Just so you know nursing hurts a bit at first, but as soon as you get the hang of it… the heavens will part and an archangel from heaven will come down and begin to sing songs of praise as you impart to your child the nectar of the gods.”

Basically… Nursing = beauty and euphoria

And before I continue, I must say I am all for nursing. I know about all the benefits for baby and Mom. I know that oxytocin (the bonding hormone) is released.

I know all this, and that is why I continue to nurse, but I would like to get real here.

Let me paint you a picture of my nursing experience the nursing mother:

It’s 1 pm and you are out and about shopping.. when you feel it. Your milk is about to let down. Great. Well at least they invented these wonderful, convenient things called nursing pads. But wait… why does your shirt feel wet? Oh ya… that’s right.. your baby was having a meltdown while you were trying to get ready so you FORGOT to
put them in.

To add to that.. you are wearing a white shirt and a black bra.

GREAT rookie mistake.

So now you must spend the rest of your shopping experience using your baby as a shield in order to block the two baseball sized wet spots on your shirt.

And you swear to never wear a white shirt again.

Fast forward to 2 am, and baby is crying.

He skipped his ten o’clock feeding. You know what that means. You have bowling balls for boobs.

Solid. As. Rock.

You could deflect bullets with these puppies.

Added bonus… they hurt.

Apparently you have a lot of nerves in your boobs that connect to places like your arm pits… all the way through your arms… your tummy.. etc etc..

And you learned this in the first few months of nursing when you could have sworn your newborn had teeth… maybe in a desperate attempt to get some relief from the gnawing… you even checked for teeth.

Maybe.

So if you’re like me… you grab your baby, and you sit in bed next to your wonderful, sleeping husband and groggily begin to nurse.

Poor kid.. you are so full it is like drinking from a fire hydrant. You listen to him gulp furiously. You watch him try to swallow the tsunami of milk rushing from your slowly deflating bowling balls.

And suddenly… when he can’t handle the roar of the milk…he detaches.

And I have two words for you.

Milk. Everywhere.

Just because you took the hose off the fire hydrant does not mean that the water got turned off… if you catch my drift.

And that’s when you hear it..

“What the heck!?”

Yes you.. you sexy goddess you.. have just woken your sleeping husband by squirting him with breast milk.

All those fantasies he had of his topless wife waking him in the middle of the night have just been shattered with one fair squirt from your milk fountains.

Glorious.

SO maybe the heavens do not always part, and the archangel does not always come down and sing to you. Nursing can be hard. Sometimes you just want someone else to feed the kid. Sometimes you don’t feel absolutely beautiful. Sometimes you feel like a cow. Sometimes nursing throws a wrench into romantic moments.

But I promise it is so worth it.

Why I Don’t Want My Kids to be My Greatest Accomplishment.

I often hear moms say that their greatest accomplishments are their children. I know mothers that have responded to job interview questions with this, and moms who just are so proud they can’t help but boast about their children. I think I also at one point or another have probably referred to my children as ‘accomplishments’ of my own. It hasn’t been until recently, that I have really put too much thought into the statement.

When I was starting my college education, I had a list of all kinds of things I wanted to accomplish. I guess it was sort of a ‘bucket list’ that I naively thought I would just go through and eventually cross everything off. Somewhere along the line I forgot about my bucket list, and really lost the motivation to accomplish much of anything. I focused on starting my career, got married and really became the glue that held my family together. I stopped adding things to that list and I really never crossed anything off. And now, I put my time and energy into my kids lives and making sure they have everything they need to reach the goals they will eventually one day have.

But I think I have it all wrong. Naturally, because I put so much effort into my kids lives, I am beaming with pride when they accomplish something great, even if it seems insignificant to everyone else. But that doesn’t make my kids themselves an ‘accomplishment’… and it certainly doesn’t make them a trophy. I started thinking about all of this when I realized that I really haven’t done anything in over five years that I was really proud of. And then I started thinking about what that says to my kids.

First off, I can only imagine the amount of pressure my children will one day experience if they feel like I am living through their own personal accomplishments. Secondly, how will they ever really learn how important it is to have goals and what an amazing feeling it brings when you reach them, if they don’t have a chance to witness it growing up? And lastly, how are they ever going to learn how important it is to always try, even if they might not always reach the finish line (in whatever context that may be)?

So, by now you must all be a little curious about my bucket list. What’s on it? Well, as crazy as it all sounds, here is the more recent and somewhat revised list: Complete a half ironman. Run for city council. Participate in the Olympics. Teach at a college/university level. Run a sub 1:45 half marathon. Publish a book. Establish a charity marketing campaign. Visit the seven wonders of the world.

These are really in no particular order. And I have taken off a few that seemed like really great ideas as a college student. The point is, although it may not be very exciting, I have a list of goals. I don’t know if I will accomplish everything on the list, but at the very least I can try, and maybe have a positive influence on my kids in the process.

So… about a month ago I committed myself to three half marathons this year. About three months past I started researching literary agents and the channels it will take to publish my first book. I have begun to update my resume and plan of applying at our local college to teach in the fall. And… last but not least, I tried out for the Israeli National Curling Team over the weekend. It may all sound crazy. And maybe it is. Maybe I am going through some totally insane premature mid-life crisis. But at the end of the day, if nothing comes from any of this… at least I have had the wake up call I needed to establish my own goals. And if I’m lucky… I will inspire my children to follow their own dreams and never stop trying to accomplish the things that make themselves proud.

Anxiously Awaiting My Freedom… And Feeling Guilty About It.

starting school

Jocelyn is more than ready for September!!!

I know that I shouldn’t feel guilty… but I do. I feel terrible that I am anxiously awaiting my freedom. I am consumed with guilt that I am counting down the days until my youngest daughter starts school. I guess I feel bad because I always wanted to be home raising my kids, but I never expected that I would crave my freedom back so badly.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my days home with my little girl. It’s just a combination of contributing factors that is making September seem like the light at the end of the tunnel. First off… Jocelyn is a January baby and was more than ready to start school this year. She is totally bored being home with me. No matter what I plan, or how much effort I put into our days, she wants to know, ‘who else is coming to play?’. I have her in a few programs, but realistically, until I start working more, there is only so much money in the budget for preschool programs. I honestly think that she is just as excited to start school, as I am for her.

Another factor is the whole career thing. I am super happy with having a few great freelance clients that provide me with the flexibility to work at night and on days that are convenient for me. With this being said, it would be nice to have all my options open. There have been many job offers that have come through that are just not the right fit because I’ve never wanted to work full time. I am really looking forward to having all my options open, and not feeling held back by my commitments at home. Whether that means I can take on more work with my current clients, or maybe be more open to future job offers… I seriously can’t wait for an excuse to maybe look a little more presentable on a more routine basis.

And the last contributing factor to my ‘countdown’, is the fact that I am selfishly anticipating maybe just a taste of what I call ‘free time’. I know most people don’t get a day to do whatever they want. But, with being a shift work family, there really isn’t this thing everyone calls ‘weekends’. All the days just mesh into one another, and neither my husband or I ever seem to have a moment to just take a breath and maybe just do something we want to do. I seriously can’t even imagine the weight that will be lifted when I have maybe a day to do housework/cooking/laundry without the constant screaming of ‘mom…MOM… MOM!!!!’ And then of course, I fantasize about going for a run and maybe even being able to accomplish 10 miles without worrying I’m not going to make it back in time for dance, gymnastics or for my husband to get to work.

So this all makes sense, right? So why do I feel so guilty? Is it because I should want to keep my kids home with me forever and ever, because I love them immensely. Does the desire to be away from them mean that I love them less than what I am supposed to? Or is it maybe the fact that I have been putting everyone’s needs before my own for so long, that I naturally feel bad about wanting this freedom for myself? I don’t really know. What I do know is that I feel guilty. I shouldn’t… but I do. I guess the point of all this is to let the other moms who feel the same way that I do know, that it’s okay. It’s okay to want your freedom back, and we can’t help how that makes us feel. I know I will get over the guilt, and so will you. And if you don’t feel guilty about the desire to ship your kids off to school, that’s great – because you shouldn’t. Just make sure you share with all the moms out there, how important it is to not get too consumed with the guilt that comes with anxiously awaiting your freedom.

When It Rains… It Pours.

Raining photoWe’ve all heard the phrase before. ‘When it rains…it pours.’ And I guess most of the time when we hear it we assume it is a bit of a negative comment. Probably because no one really likes the rain, or pouring rain for that matter. So what’s the point or all my rambling? Well… it’s been weeks since I’ve written anything. I have many half written posts, that I just never got around to finishing. I had grand intentions of writing a post about the stresses of the holidays, the hope surrounding the new year, and the chaos of having both kids home over the break. Clearly, I completed none of these. I was experiencing, what many of us moms feel throughout the year, the ‘when it rains… it pours’ phenomenon.

When we returned from Disney, I was beyond unprepared for the holidays. I mean, I had set up the tree, and done some baking… but I was definitely behind in everything else. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, searching for Christmas gifts and preparing for the holidays. I had parties almost every night of the week, and meetings and projects throughout the day the entire week before the holidays. I had everything perfectly orchestrated… and then in came the rain. It seemed like every appointment got rescheduled, parties ran late, meetings got missed… and the holidays became a giant cluster fluck of overbooked days and sleepless nights.

All of that is quite normal for moms. We spend our days organizing and reorganizing everyone’s schedules and itineraries. Another thing that is typical is illness. So, the week before Christmas both kids became ill. I took them to the clinic worried about their croupy coughs. One kid was given an antibiotic, the other didn’t need one. So off we went, and three days later we were dealing with more sickness, just as hubby and I were on our way for an overnighter in the states. We were dropping the kids off at my in-laws, and just as we were about to dash to the car, my son barfed all over the floor… and me. AWESOME. But wait, it gets better. He ended up getting put on an antibiotic for an ear infection, and three days later was covered in a rash. Just as we were on our way for a night out with some out of town friends… my son had an allergic reaction to his antibiotic. He was fine a few days later… but I was still sulking on the inside about all the spoiled plans.

And then of course there was the added pressure to do everything that I normally do around the house, and with work, and the holidays… but with two kids here along with me. I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to manage everything I do in a normal work week, without the help of part time child care or school.  So… there it is, that was my ‘when it rains… it pours’ that prevented me from writing the past few weeks.

But the one thing I learned during the chaos of the last few weeks, was that it’s okay to let the ball drop sometimes. I love writing the blog, and having an audience to listen to my ramblings… but it’s okay to prioritize and step away from the things that can wait. And that is where I have been the last little while. I have been dealing with some ‘pouring rain’. This is for all the moms, who have been feeling a bit overwhelmed these past few weeks. For all the mothers experiencing the ‘when it rains it pours’ phenomenon… it’s okay to empty the plate a little. Here’s to a great year of more writing and supporting other moms!!!!

photo credit: Loca Luna / Anna Gay via photopin cc

When did ‘Miserable’ Become Acceptable?

So the other day, after being up all night long, I took my sick kids to the local walk-in clinic. I was exhausted, and the kids were miserable, so I may have been a little more sensitive to the unacceptable behaviour of those around me. We pulled up to the clinic, and I rushed the kids out of the car, hoping that we would be one of the first people to sign in. As I hurried them down the store aisle to reach the clinic, a middle aged man stormed passed us and practically knocked my daughter over with the intent to get in line a split second before us. Seriously? Don’t worry you selfish asshole, my kids don’t mind waiting an extra twenty minutes so you can go in front of us. Clearly your needs are more important. And don’t worry, since there are about twenty people in front of you anyways, enjoy the wait.. while I take my feverish children to the next clinic.

As I was leaving clinic, I saw another mom getting her kids out of the car. I had to assume that since it was a school day, she was also going to the clinic. So I stopped. I asked her if she was going to the clinic. I informed her of the wait and I offered her some friendly advice about some of the other clinics in the area. I specifically told her which one we were going to next because in the past I had short wait times. I stopped to help someone, even though it meant taking a few minutes…. instead of storming past someone in need to get ahead.

When I arrived at the next clinic I was overjoyed to see that there were only a few people in the waiting room. I got the kids out and went and waited at the window. I didn’t tap on the glass, or ask how long it would be. I simply waited patiently. And when the woman behind the counter finally came over, I was very pleasant despite feeling a bit rattled by the chaos of the morning. Apparently ‘pleasant’ just isn’t on some people’s dockets. First off, I’m sorry that you had to create charts for my kids who had never been there before. And let me apologize further for inconveniencing you with the fact that I inquired about the giant tv on the wall that was obviously not meant to be watched by anyone… especially little kids that were impatient and getting antsy. This poor woman must have had one hell of a morning, and clearly had no problem letting all of us know that she had no interest in being kind to anyone. That’s okay, because that mom from the first clinic I went to showed up moments later… and forced her to fill out three more brand new charts.

Later that day, despite being exhausted, I made a quick trip out to do a bit of last minute shopping. I didn’t want to be out at the busy mall with last minute holiday shoppers, but it was just something that I had to do. Nonetheless, I carried on and held doors open for people and made casual chit chat with cashiers when I checked out. That’s just what I consider to be common courtesy. However, I am shocked at the number of doors that were slammed in my face, how many people were pushing and shoving and of course disillusioned by the road rage that goes on in a parking lot during the holidays.

When did being ‘miserable’ become acceptable? I’m not saying that I am pleasant all the time, but I mean come on. Have we become so self absorbed that we just can’t see that everyone has bad days. We all get tired. Many of us are consumed with stress. There are endless amounts of worries going through our heads. But are all those good enough reasons to treat others poorly? It’s ridiculous. You could argue that me being nice and kind to others is a bit fake, since I really was having a less than perfect day. But honestly, if we wait for the perfect days to be positive and treat others well, I’m afraid we may end up teaching our children a terrible lesson. Treat others well… when you aren’t too consumed with your own problems. Be friendly and positive… when you are done complaining about the challenges put in your way. This is for all the moms out there who are determined to set a good example for their children… while they wait endless hours at the clinic… stand in crowded lines during the holidays… and try to compete for parking spots with their oversized minivans. Keep up the good work… it will pay off when you proudly watch your children go out of their way to help others.

Disney… the Good, the Bad and the Totally Insane

disneySo as many of you know, I have recently returned from a magical trip to Disney World. I spent months planning and organizing what I hoped would be a trip that my kids would remember forever. I had sleepless nights leading up to our trip worrying about all the ‘what if’s’ that could occur. And now that I’m home, I get to let out a huge sigh of relief. It was a wonderful trip. The kids were amazing, and tolerated long days and all kinds of new experiences. Now I can go on for hours about how awesome my kids were and what perfect weather we had and all the great memories we made… but that would just bore you all to death. What I will tell you about, is how I learned this trip that there is what I consider to be crazy, and the insanity while in Disney.

Okay… so by now you all probably realize that I like to exaggerate just a smidge every now and again. You can rest assure that there is absolutely no exaggeration within this post. So when you are thinking, ‘there’s no way people are really that crazy…’ I assure you, they are. DISNEY MAKES PEOPLE INSANE. Our first day going into the park I was surprised that they checked everyone’s bags so thoroughly. That night, I realized why it was so important for them to check to make sure no one brought any weapons in. There were seriously people arguing about cutting in line, fighting over stealing seats on the parade route, and demanding that disney staff  change their policies because they paid good money to be there. And while I’m on the topic of parades… I have to bring up the insane fact that people start setting up camp over two hours before the twenty minute parade, just so they can have a good view. There is nothing normal about any of this.

And then there are the scooters. They are everywhere, and really in my opinion out of control. I actually witnessed a scooter fly by me, knock over a small child and hit a wall. INSANITY. Luckily everyone was okay, but seriously… shouldn’t there be some policies or safety regulations to monitor the use of these vehicles? Everywhere you turned there were scooters running over people’s feet and causing traffic jams within the parks. I completely understand that these vehicles are a necessity for many people, but it does not change the fact that it adds to the  CRAZINESS within the parks.

You get totally stressed out parents that force their screaming children to watch parades and stand in line for rides, long after they have reached their breaking points.  I found that because most of the adults were very frazzled, it also meant that they became competitive disney tourists. What does that mean? It turns normal sane people into monsters who are willing to push and shove to get into lines and find tables in restaurants. One morning I was trying to get through the cafeteria with three breakfast meals on my platter, and ended up with a yogurt parfait all down the front of me. You would think that the woman who bumped into me would have felt bad or offered to help, but instead she looked at me like it was a good thing I didn’t spill any on her. This confirmed it for me… DISNEY MAKES PEOPLE INSANE.

Alright, now before you change your mind about going to Disney, just know that despite all the craziness… it is an amazing place to go with your kids. We had a blast. The looks on the kids faces made all the stress and insanity worth it. So, to all the moms who are considering going to disney… don’t let the craziness deter you. Disney makes people insane, but it’s how you deal with it that determines if you yourself with end up crazy. I made it through, and ended up being only slightly more insane than when I arrived.

Do Perfectly Planned Vacations Really Exist?

disney photoOver the past eight months I have done research, searched for deals, made reservations, and meticulously planned… the perfect vacation. The anxiety is building and the pressure of making sure that this is indeed a flawless trip, is well… kind of overwhelming. Where are we headed? This is our very first family visit to the oh-so-magical Disney World. My husband and I have both been before, but this will be our first trip as a family. We actually visited the ‘happiest place on earth’ right after we got married. Which brings me to the ‘flashback’ portion of the post. And don’t worry… it’s all very relative to our upcoming family vacation.

So about eight years ago, after an amazing day of rides, shows and unplanned good old fashioned fun, my husband and I decided to hit one more ride before packing it in for the day. So we stood in line at the ever so popular Pirates of the Caribbean ride. For us, the twenty five minute wait seemed short and really didn’t phase either of us at all. But for the family in front of us, consisting of three whiny miserable children and two exhausted stressed out parents… it was a different story. I still to this day, think about this mother, who totally lost her shit at Disney World. The youngest child, who looked to be about five or six was screaming hysterically at the top of his lungs because he was scared of the dark and eerie atmosphere of the corridor that would eventually lead us to the ride. Finally, the mom just couldn’t take it anymore, and turned to her son and snarked, ‘I have rode every single stupid kiddy ride you wanted to go on ALL DAY LONG. You are going to go on this ride whether you like it or not. I want to go on this ride.’  At the time I felt really bad for the child. Now… looking back, I’m not too sure who I feel bad for anymore.

The whole point of my little flashback is to point out that I would bet that that mom also had planned out the perfect vacation for her family. So what happened? With just over a week to go before our flawlessly planned trip, I have to wonder… am I going to be that mom? Am I going to be the mom that has put so much pressure on myself to make this the perfect vacation, that I will lose my shit in magical freaking Disney World. Will I end up telling my kids that their rides are stupid? Or worse still, will I demand that they get their pictures taken with every single dressed up character, whether they like it or not, just so I can have proof that we enjoyed every minute of our perfect vacation?

I bet that mom, who I judged for being totally insane, had just put a bit too much pressure on herself and her family. I get it. When you put that much work into ensuring your family will enjoy the perfect vacation, it’s only natural that the stress of it all might get to you. I feel sort of lucky that I was able to witness this mom going off the deep end, because at least I have an idea of what it looks like to crack under the pressure of the perfect vacation. I’ve witnessed what I don’t what to be. This might sound totally judgmental, but I promise you it’s not. I totally understand. And realistically, I figure it’s probably a 50/50 chance that I will become that mom. But, I have the upper hand. As I’m writing this, I am making a vow to myself that when I get home my post will not be about me losing my shit. My post will be about how to deal with the less than perfect vacation.

I already know going in that James will be terrified about flying. He will probably have multiple anxiety attacks before getting on the plane. I also know that there is a very good chance that his eardrum might rupture from the pressure of the flight. Jocelyn will most likely kick the chair in front of us, throw multiple tantrums, and probably puke because of the terrible smell of airplane food. If we are not thrown off the plane before it lands, we most likely will face multiple meltdowns before we reach our resort. Our flight is at 6am, so naturally everyone will be exhausted before noon. If we are lucky enough to have early check-in, we may survive the first day. But if we are forced to experience the ‘magic’ before a nice long nap… well, who knows what type of ‘insane mom’ I might look like. And don’t worry… we will have six more days of fun-filled excitement to put us over the edge, before we arrive back home to review all of the amazing photos I forced my kids to smile for. But despite ALL of these realistic predictions, I think if I allow ourselves a few ‘less-than-perfect’ moments, we might actually have an amazing trip to remember.

The fact is, there is no perfect vacation. I would be totally crazy to expect every single aspect of this trip to go smoothly. The real challenge is not to have the perfect vacation, but to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when you get even a few of those best moments in life. Those moments when you know your kids have just created memories they will have forever. So… keep your fingers crossed for me, and hopefully the memories my kids will end up with will not consist of me losing my shit at any point during our perfect vacation.

photo credit: Express Monorail via photopin cc

Necessary Change for Happiness

baking

Hoping to bring a little more of this FUN back in our lives!!

Quite a few weeks ago I woke up and realized something. I’m not sure how it happened really, but I was unhappy. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what was bringing me down, so I took some time to really assess what was going on. I felt like the life was slowly getting sucked out of me. It was such a gradual happening, that I guess I was even lucky that I realized it at all. After some thought, I came to the conclusion that there were a few contributing factors.

First off was my job. I work as a graphic designer in the funeral industry. I was starting to find it very stressful and emotionally draining. I would come home from work and found that I just had nothing left to give to my family. I lacked patience and was just missing that enthusiasm I once had with my kids. I really thought that I was going to work in this position for the long haul, so I have to admit that my sudden realization came as a bit of a shock to myself. My job was no longer a good fit for myself or my family.

Beyond that, our schedules were taking a huge toll on all of us. I was working long hours every other weekend and afternoon shifts. My husband works twelve hour shifts and also works weekends, both days and nights. I found that I had become a full time scheduler. I felt I was always on edge and worried that I was forgetting to book a babysitter or make sure someone was at the bus stop. I couldn’t ever sign the kids up for sport leagues that would run on the weekends. I was always declining birthday parties and unable to attend family events. I felt like our schedules had taken over and I was completely drained by them. I was never finding the time to do the things I love like running and baking, and I was becoming stressed that I didn’t have time for myself.

So… I decided to do something about it. If there is one thing I’ve learned from working in the funeral industry, it’s that life is short. I decided to actively seek freelance design work that I could do from home. In less than two months I had enough clients and contract work to meet our budget. It felt so good to take control and change my life. I quit my job. Yup… you heard me. It was hard to leave a secure job for often unpredictable freelance work.. but I gave my two weeks notice. I started making time for myself, even when it meant saying no to my kids. It’s so easy to get sucked into the mommy guilt that comes with taking time for yourself. But I have prevailed. I now run three times a week again, am in a curling league and even make it out once a week with friends for a beer or two.

I have made the huge leap towards happiness. The choices I have made, and the actions I have taken in the last few months, I hope will be the start of a new path with a positive direction. I’m really not sure when I fell off track, but I am so happy to be back to doing what is right for me. So, to all you moms out there who feel like the life has been sucked out of you… don’t wait to do something about it. We have all heard the saying, ‘lead by example’. I know that I want nothing more than for my kids to be happy. I feel so good that I had enough sense to change my life so that I could be an example for my kids, and show them how important it is to be… happy.