Picture day almost killed me

I will tell you again and again that I just wasn't built for motherhood. I have about a baseline education in what I think it takes to be a good mother, but sometimes I think that those natural maternal feelings were lost during my creation. I'm impatient. I yell. I lose my temper way too fast. Yet as the years go by, I start to feel like I have a foothold in motherhood. I'll feel like I've learned enough from my on the job training as a mother to handle all situations well. Not perfectly, but well. I'll go along like this for awhile until something knocks me off my feet.

Today, that something was Picture Day.

I promise you friends, I thought I was prepared. My little Mac who hates dresses, found one she liked at Walmart of all places. My darling Caitlin had decided to wear what she wore on the first day of school, which was perfect. A week ago, we had it all planned and settled. Then yesterday it all went to shit. Mac decided at eight o'clock last night that she didn't want to wear that Walmart dress or any dress for that matter. Mac is famous around here for not liking dresses or ruffles or sparkles. You can say she is a no nonsense kind of gal. If Mac had her way she would wear screen printed tees and shorts everyday with her favorite pair of tennis shoes. I should start the hash tag What Mac Wore on Instagram so you all could marvel in how far I've come as a mother. These days I let that kid wear whatever she wants. Of course Mac decided that the Walmart dress wouldn't do when I had hair dye on my head, and two kids to throw in the tub. I started going through her closet and through some hand me downs from Big Sister and realized that Mac really doesn't have much of a wardrobe. I was able to find two fairly new dresses that Caitlin wore in kindergarten, but those were not even remotely acceptable.

I was sitting in my closet floor, hair covered in black  hair dye, close to losing my shit. I called the Hubbs from the other room and said, "Do we just go to Target or what?". And because I'm crazy and easily fly off the handle or have panic attacks about such things he just said "Sure why not". I showered, threw the girls in too, and was able, with his help, make it to Target by nine o'clock. I know. On a school night. Shopping for clothes for the next day. I'm telling you this blog literally writes itself some days.

Here is where my story starts to get sticky. Mackenzie picked out two pairs of pants and one shirt. She also found a pair of sparkly Mary Janes that we just couldn't pass up. We had discussed with Caitlin on our way over in the car that sister really needed new clothes, especially for picture day. Of course as soon as we walked in, Caitlin started pulling things off racks like she was on Super Market Sweep. When it was all said and done, Caitlin walked away with new unicorn printed leggings (because, duh), a Shopkins shirt (if you don't know what Shopkins are, I want your life), and new boots (because the Cartwheel made them 25% off, so duh). At the time, I really thought we were walking away happy and content.

Then I woke up this morning.

I woke up this morning at six. Six. Once I got my eyes to adjust to my iPhone screen, I woke up Caitlin who asked me to curl her hair. All of her hair. It took me forty minutes, and by the time I set the last curl, the first curl was already out. Awesome. Then I sent her to get dressed, while I tried to wake up Mackenzie, and wash my own face because it was probably the only chance I'd get to do so today. I'm telling you I live a glamorous life.

Mac got dressed in her new leggings and shirt. Happy with her new sparkly Mary Janes. I combed her hair and was just about to congratulate myself when I heard the crying. The sobbing. The sounds of discontent that are so familiar to me.

Caitlin was losing it.

The short story is, "Sister has a better outfit than me". Add to that, the fact that we had less than thirty minutes before we had to leave the house. Then add on the fact that she refused to wear the same thing she wore on the first day of school, because she couldn't wear it twice. Good Lawd Child, are you a Kardashian? Then her shoes were dumb and her life was over and so on and so on, and I was losing my shit in tandem. It was beautiful and my husband was most likely drawing up divorce papers. At seven forty five I did my best to hold it together, I yelled a few times, but was able to reel myself in. With minutes to spare, I helped her pick out a nice shirt to go with her new unicorn leggings and new boots. Tears were shed, nerves were rattled, and we were late to school by our own personal standards.

All this for picture day.

Here's a thought. Why don't we take pictures on the first day of school when we are excited and chipper. Don't we always wear our best on the first day anyway? My kids look amazing every day that first week. Even their hair looks great. But now? One month in? Fatigue has set in. Homework has replaced playing in the yard until the street lights come on. No one wants to get up in the morning. No one knows what to wear and God forbid we wear anything twice.

Picture Day had me exhausted by eight twenty this morning. I'm sure my kids were too. There is so much pressure on them and us as parents to make sure those pictures are perfect. To make sure we get our moneys worth for every sixty dollar packet (that is not an exaggeration). Picture day is just another "something" in a long list of "somethings" that derail me. Mostly because I don't think they are a big deal. It's picture day, right? How does that compare to those three in the morning feedings, or that time we tried to sleep train Caitlin? I'll tell you how, that baby wasn't telling me how awful her life was because she had to wear the same dress twice at three in the morning. I thought things were tough then. Now that my kids can talk, things get very real, very quick.

Tonight, as I get ready to watch my favorite shows that are only on Thursday nights, I'm going to say a prayer. A prayer that my girls kept their eyes open in those pictures. A prayer that they smiled their real smiles. A prayer that their hair isn't a disaster.

Because surviving today is just the beginning. I'm smart enough to know Picture Day still has the potential to kill me.

Leap of Faith {My summer as a cliche part one}

In May I quit my job. That management job I had. The one that I was really good at and paid me really well. The job that afforded us the funds for our big dream Disneyland vacation. The job that had been my first foray into the "working mom life". The job that I had been wanting to quit since Christmas. I quit that job, and I'm really happy that I did. It took me months to be able to say that. I have felt that I've been living as a walking cliche for months. I've lived the "look before you leap" and the "hindsight is 20/20" life since last June. I've also been able to live the "silver lining life" too, and that is what this story is about. This is my story how I lived one cliche after another to get back to happy. To get back to me. To get back to life.

For starters, I'm not the kind of person who just quits a job. I'm loyal to my employers, almost to a fault, but more that than, I'm cautions. Extremely cautious. I knew that this important retail job was a necessity for my family. That I needed to help out financially after years of being at home. I took the job knowing that I may never love it. That I may never love working outside the home. What I didn't anticipate is that it would teach me so many things about my life and how I live it.

If I'm honest with you and myself, I didn't entirely hate my job as an Assistant Manager. The truth is that I just hated the hours. I loved the people I worked with, I loved the environment, and I really loved the job itself. If the store had the operating hours of 10 am to 6pm everyday, it's possible that I would have never left. Anyone who works in retail will tell you that those hours are a dream scenario. A retail colleague of mine once posted on Facebook that Motherhood and Retail are strange bedfellows, and I understood whole heatedly. Retail is almost a 24/7 job, much like motherhood.

Being away from home and working weekends slowly made me bitter and unhappy. I can admit that now. I can understand if you think it makes me sound like I'm a spoiled brat. I'll accept that. In a sense I am. I was spoiled by a good economy and a husband with a very good job. I was spoiled by five years without car payments and adjustable rate mortgages. I was spoiled entirely by my naive belief that my days as a stay at home mother and aspiring writer would never end. I was spoiled and then fell in love with pancake breakfast Sundays and Christmas Eve mani/pedis with my mom. And "spoiled" me didn't like her job that took her away from such things so much of the time.

My bitterness seeped into every aspect of my life. I was a bitter and angry wife. I was a bitter and impatient mother. I was unhappy and bitter here on this blog. Still I did nothing but complain about it. I felt like there was nothing I could do. I was so unhappy with my circumstances, the financial responsibility I felt I owed, the need to hold up my end of this marriage bargain. I couldn't just quit my job, what kind of message would that send to my kids and my husband? So I kept chugging along, swallowing all that bitterness, trying to keep up the facade of good and fine. Always thinking of ways to get out of a situation that made me incredibly unhappy.

I realize now that the bitterness and anger were the child of another feeling. I was lonely. I missed my family so much. I missed "mommy" Megan who liked to bake and craft and volunteer at school functions. I co-lead a Girl Scout troop and that just seemed like another chore on my to do list. I hated feeling that way about things I used to find joy in. Who wants to feel that way? Who wants to dread every extra curricular event with their kids? No one wants to feel that way.

No matter what emotion I was feeling and for what reasons I was feeling it, I was still too scared to change. Fear was my true guiding emotion when it came to doing something about my job. I couldn't just walk away. I couldn't just tell my Husband and my family, "Well Mommy is super unhappy and spoiled rotten so she's quitting this really good job, and we can figure out the details later". How could I? Who quits a job that pays well? Who quits a job with nothing lined up? I have never been the kind of person to make a drastic change. I hate change. It scares me and gives me anxiety. So I just stayed bitter and unhappy.

Until April. In April an old friend approached me about leaving my current job and coming to manage her small business. It was a retail environment but in a very non traditional sense. She needed someone to come in and manage people, manage some business aspects, and bring fresh ideas to her small business. Her business had lots of potential as far as social media and special events were concerned. It was also an opportunity for me to finally be a manager. At this point since graduating from college fifteen years earlier, I had always been an Assistant, never a Manager. The job itself was everything I had dreamed of as an early graduate all those years before. A small boutique business that I could mold into something of my own, within reason of course. The idea that I could really put things in motion for this small business lit a fire inside my creative heart. The best part of this new endeavor was that the hours were closer to the dream of 10 to 6. They were closed on Sundays and Mondays. The opportunity of having the same two days off in a row consistently were enough to make me say yes, but I hesitated. Was this job the answer I was looking for?

I thought about this new opportunity for two weeks. I called everyone I knew. I emailed peers. I needed everyone to be a sounding board. The more I thought about this new job, the scarier the idea of quitting my steady job became. How do you just jump? How do you just dive into the great unknown. I spoke with my friend multiple times about coming to work for her, and every time I left with more questions. I'm sure everyone I knew was sick of talking to me about it, and I'm sure they were sick of saying "Just take the job!". Just to be sure, I called my best friend and asked, "How do I just quit and change everything when I'm so scared?", she said, "You just jump. It's called a Leap of Faith". Was faith enough?

Sure I was miserable at my current job, and I was unhappy with the circumstance, but did I have the courage or the gumption to go against all the signs in my mind that pointed to staying and just leave? Was I brave enough to tell all those voices in my head to shut up? And what about my obligations? What if this "dream job" this last chance opportunity to do something I had always dreamed of since college didn't work out?

Then again my family also needed a happy me. A happy, functioning, participating me, stripped of any and all bitterness.

Was this really about taking the chance on a job or taking a chance on me? Could I be the kind of person who demanded happiness? Could I be the kind of person who changed her circumstances?

I decided I could. I decided to take the leap, because this new job, this opportunity, was exactly the thing I had been praying about at night since Christmas. This job was a chance to make a change in my life that I felt I needed, a change that I knew my family needed. I was scared, I second guessed myself every step of the way, and I was so worried that it wouldn't work out. Still I took that leap of faith, because while all the voices of self doubt were screaming, "What if it doesn't work out?", I kept whispering to myself, "But what if it does?".

I've never been the kind of gal to take a leap of faith. Anytime I've made a change in my life or left a job, it's been after serious consideration and with lots of safety nets to fall back on. I'm famous for playing it safe, but for the first time, at thirty seven years old, I was about to gamble. I was going to leap before looking.


Stay tuned for part two: 
Always a bridesmaid, never a bride or Hindsight is 20/20 it's to be determined.

Hiding out

I spent last week hiding out, filled with self doubt and fear. I tried and tried to sit down at the keyboard and make some sense, but instead I took pencil to paper and still wasn't satisfied. Two weeks ago, I went out on a limb and prepared two pieces of work for submission. One, for a giveaway contest to go to a very expensive, but very meaningful writers retreat, the second, for a feature on a popular mom blog. The details aren't important. What is important is that I let two rejection letters get the best of me. I let all those voices in my head talk me out of writing anything for an entire week. I doodled and wrote lists and made plans, but a story never took shape. It was just a bunch of words strung together to convey my emotions. I was kind of a hot mess internally.

Normally, self inflicted writers block wouldn't have been much of an issue. This happens to me from time to time. Sometimes I read a blog post and think, "Why didn't I write that", or I read a really good book and think, "I'll never write that well". Most times if I self inflict this injury on myself it takes just a few days to shake it off, but for some reason this rejection and period of self doubt was hard to shake. It's been close to five years since I started this blog, and for all the reasons I feel braver, there are a thousand more that I'm trapped by self doubt. Over the years my voice has become stronger, but the time has made me more doubtful that I will ever fulfil my ultimate dream of writing a book. Am I impatient? Yes to a fault. Do I doubt myself and reign as my harshest critic? Absolutely. Somehow, someway I finally talk myself out of the doubt and return to the keyboard to hammer it out. That's what I'm aiming for today.

Last week, I was trying really hard to finish a submission for Real Simple Magazine. There is always a theme or a prompt, and every year I find it hard for me to fit into that prompt. This year the editors of the magazine wanted to know of a time that you did something that changed your life. Did you quit a job? Did you stay late at a party and meet your partner? How did one decision change your life so drastically? For the first time I felt like I had an actual story to tell. Four months ago I quit my job, my really good, bringing home the bacon job, for a small business opportunity. That one action seriously changed everything, considering I no longer work there. That's right, I don't work at the bridal shop anymore and I'm back at my old job Pier 1. In just four months everything has changed, and I felt my story would be great to send off to Real Simple. With one month left until the submissions were due, I started working on my story. I just wrote, without editing, thinking that it would all come together in the end.

All work on my "Real Simple" story halted with the two rejections I received. Why even try, I asked myself. Was it even worth putting all my blood and sweat into another piece that would just be put into the "loser" pile. I'm pretty sure they don't call it the "loser" pile, but in my mind that is exactly what it's called.

I spent the last week before the due date, paralyzed. Hiding from the fact that I can, and sometimes do, write a great story. Hiding and making excuses on why I couldn't finish it, until I finally forced myself to read what I already had. It wasn't bad. It was actually shaping up to be the kind of thing I publish in this space. The only problem was that I had to tell the story in 1500 words or less. After reading and rereading, I realized that condensing that story in any way was never going to happen. So I trashed it (in mind only) and started to write another "changed my life story" only to find that my heart wasn't really in it. Why was I limiting myself to a prompt? Why was I putting me and my writing in a box? I've never been the kind of gal who boxes herself in. Why would I start now?

Friday, after trying to write and rewrite something that would stick, I decided to scrap it all. I knew I wasn't going to condense the story. I knew I wasn't going to start over from scratch. What I did know was that it was going to make a great story to tell here. It was too long for a single post, and now I realize that is the beauty of "How I lived a cliche this summer" (working title). It's not something to submit. It's not a story that can be told in 1500 words. This is a story that took time to live and is going to take time to tell. Even if it bores you to tears, it's a story that has to get out so I can move on.

I'm still stinging from the rejection letters. I still feel like I'm fighting the battle to get published, the battle to be noticed. It's a funny thing, "fame". Even just blog famous. So many of us want it, and for what? To say that you were featured "here"? I want it, because I'm still in this place where I need to know that my writing is good enough for publication. That all these keystrokes have been for something in the years I've been blogging. Self doubt is still my biggest opponent. Maybe she always will be.

Yesterday I read this on Instagram,

I also learned that there is a difference between being known and being accepted.

My blog friend Julie  posted it after her trip to the Influence Conference. It spoke to me in a big way, and made me feel better about not meeting my submission deadline. It reminded me of why I blog, to have a voice, to surround myself with the community my voice attracts. For now, being known shouldn't be my end all be all. Being accepted should. I'm accepted here. I have created this space so I can accept me. So I can accept my voice. This space allows me to accept all the things I hate and love about myself. I've created this space for me. 

I'm working on typing out my Summer Cliche story so I can publish it here. It's going to take some editing, but I'm ready. I've sent self doubt and fear away for awhile, telling them to take a nice long vacation. In the end I know that, rejection will always sting, someone may say it better, and sometimes 1500 words just won't cut it. Knowing this, I can move forward and start writing again. Even if the only thing I do is rework a piece that I've already written.

Now comes the best part. I'm going to hit publish, and no rejection letter can stop me from hitting that button.

Life Lately {nine-thirteen-twentyfifteen}

This is what I've been doing with my life so far this month. Which pretty much solidifies the fact that I'm on Instagram way too much!

First Fresno State home game and the kids went along for the ride. They barely made it to the second quarter since it was a school night and all. I'm the kind of mother who picks her kids up early for game day shenanigans. I'm also the kind of mother that says yes to snocones at seven thirty at night. They were in bed by ten, so don't give me any grief. I do have standards.

I shared this on Instagram, but it's really one of those stories that is too strange to be true. That lady is suing Mattel for using her likeness when creating that hamster. The. Hamster. Mattel even used the same name as the woman shown in the picture above. She said it was the color they used for the fur and the eyes that is grounds for a lawsuit. I've never laughed so hard in my life. I think she's mad because that hamster is way cuter than her. Or maybe she is mad because she doesn't like butterflies that close to her head. Whatever the reason, this lady is suing a toy company for using her likeness.

Fridays are spirit days at school and the girls get all decked out in green and black. I'll confess here that I made the mistake of trying to make shirts for my girls. I hate the cut of the spirit shirts. Just plain t-shirts that hang like ill fitting smocks. I wanted to make them look cute and stylish, but obviously I know nothing because both girls cried after I showed them the end products. Look, I understand Pinterest. I did my research, but they didn't want them cut or sewn or tied fashionably. They wanted smocks. Thankfully a close friend with two children at the same school was able to supply emergency shirts because of course I did my Pinterest fail at seven the night before spirit day. Of course I did. We took selfies anyway with our sunnies just to show that we can rock smocks any day of the week.

"Mom, I can dress myself for dance". Okay sweetie. My favorite thing isn't the bag or the glasses. My favorite thing in this picture is the almost black toe nail polish. Diva in progress.

Scholastic Book orders always have me like whoa. The thing that sucks is that each grade level gets a different order. I found this one at my neighbors who has a fifth grader. I hit the jackpot when I found that the first two "The Baby-Sitters Club" books have been reissued as graphic novels. Graphic Novels people! You better believe I put in that order.

This is pretty much how I spent Labor Day weekend. Hair up. Tank top and shorts. Sunnies. And sometimes a sleeping Mac on my lap. Did I stay on Facebook the entire time while she slept? Yes. Did I feel bad about that? No. She is almost to the point where I'm not the most comfortable napping place in the world. I'll take what I can get for now. That pony tail says it all. My baby is almost too big for this lap.

My parents celebrated forty one years of marriage. I really love them for it. Now that I'm older I can look back at things that happened between them and wonder how they stuck it out. Wonder how they kept it together. They really do love each other. They always have, and everything I know about love and marriage I have learned from them. Even the bullshit parts. Thanks Mom and Dad.

I'll keep it simple. Sometimes time hop is a total dick.

I wasn't trying to make breakfast at all. Nope. I was not trying to measure out pancake batter and milk. I wasn't trying to crack eggs and dodge this man grab assing. He grabbed boobs too in case you were wondering. Why is he always trying to lick my face?

This is my first cookbook from 1984. It's worn and written in. Some of the pages are colored in marker and crayon. My name in my kindergarten scrawl inside the front cover. And its still hands down makes the best french toast in the world. My mom used this book to make me french toast whenever I was sick or sad. Twice in college she came home to find me a hot mess and when I would refuse to eat she would just make french toast because she knew it was what I loved. Caitlin asked for french toast last week, and I didn't hesitate to pull out this book and get to work.

Today is National Pancake Day. For once I was able to join in on a national celebration involving food. Lucky for us we got a free sample of Pamela's baking and pancake mix at a Gluten Free expo. They came out more like crepes, but they were still delicious. Next time I'll half the wet ingredients. Of course we decked them out with whip cream and chocolate chips. Duh. Its Sunday.

I found this Buzz Feed link about funny food tweets. This one had me dying around midnight. There is something about any object that makes me laugh when you put a monocle and top hat on them. I'll never look at that dancing Peanut the same way again!

In case you missed it I talked about the uterus last week on the blog. My uterus. Your uterus. Raising children who have a uterus. You can thank me later. Also I'm really hoping that this plush uterus is a heating pad, because how cool would that be?

So that was a little glimpse into my life lately. Follow me on Instagram if you'd like to see the photos that didn't make the cut. Or if you just like to follow someone who takes way to many selfies and over shares her life. Tag me in one of your photos so I can see what you have been living your life lately.

This isn't going to get easier, is it? {Raising Daughters}

Girls, this is a uterus. It looks happy, but... source pinterest

Motherhood is never going to get any easier. This week I received two texts from two different friends. The first friend's daughter started her period. Her period. First of all, we are not old enough to have daughters who menstruate. Also, this friend's daughter is only eleven years old. What in the world? My second friend text to say that her daughter asked to shave her legs. Shave her legs? Let me repeat, we are not old enough to have daughters who have periods or shave their legs. Or maybe we are. The leg shaving daughter is just four months older that my oldest. Lord help us all.

How am I going to explain this to my daughter? source tumbler via buzzfeed
It suddenly occurs to me that motherhood will not get any easier. I was naive to ever think it would. Just about everyone I know has casually said that motherhood just continually gets easier as the kids get older. Just wait until they can go potty by themselves (I'm still waiting on this in some form or another), just wait until they sleep through the night (kids do this? in this life?), just wait until they "insert whatever big kids do that makes life easier'. The truth is, once your daughter can wipe her own butt, it's just a matter of time before you will have to show her how to shave her legs or how to put on a pad properly. A good friend of mine at work has a teenage daughter and she told me a hilarious and horrifying story of how she tried to show her daughter how to insert a tampon. Horrifying, if I'm to let myself think about my future in just a few short years when pads and tampons will be a discussion topic. My husband literally can't even these days with the cute boy shorts at Justice. Imagine when he realizes that those tampons are not mine. Insert nervous his breakdown here.

It's not just the fact that my daughters will one day get their periods. Its the fact that with the discussion about "becoming a woman", we also have to talk about the ramifications of being a woman. I'm not just talking about equal pay and affordable birth control. I'm talking about sex. Let's be real, if you can bleed for three to seven days, that uterus can also house a baby. Babies having babies. This shit just got real. Talking about sex is not something I'm even remotely ready for, and either is the husband. At this point, all under carriage issues and care default to me. And while I know my vagina pretty well, it's up to them to know there own. Have I mentioned that being a woman is the best thing and sometimes the worst thing?

This struggle is so real for girls! source tumbler via buzzfeed
As far as motherhood goes, you'd think we'd get a layover at some point in parenting land. Just enough time to allow us to relax, drink a latte, take a nap, but sadly no. As cliche as it sounds, motherhood is a marathon. The longest damn marathon of our lives, and so we do what mothers do, we keep running for our lives. Will eventually buy pads and chocolate and chips, and talk about how being a woman is so amazing and kind of fucking awful at the same time. We teach our daughters to always carry an arsenal that includes pads, tampons, extra panties, and a sweatshirt for around the waist. We buy an bottles of Nair or an electric razor because our eight year olds are still a little sketchy with scissors, and good Lord there is no way we are going to hand her a razor.

Is it really the time to start discussing  lessons in hair removal and hygiene. Sadly it is, I recently bought some "natural" deodorant from Trader Joe's because there is no way my beautiful daughter is the one who smells like a fraternity boy at a flag football game. These are just a few of the problems that fell mothers of daughters, and for that I consider myself lucky. My neighbor has three boys and, in casual conversation, said that her sons tell her about their morning wood. Oh Lawd have mercy. This must be why I don't have boys. Mothers of boys will be my own personal heroes around puberty. Like that scene in bridesmaids where Rita talks about all the stiff and sticky sheets. I don't think I'd have the strength for boys. The worst I will ever have to explain is the inter workings of the vagina, and in that event I can refer them to this blog. Yes, my darling daughters, your mother has been talking about her vagina for years. Cue the years of therapy they will need when they realize their mother overshared their life!

I literally can't even with this! source pinterest
Parenting children is hard no matter the age. How do I know this? I've already realized that I would trade early morning fights about clothes and shoes for middle of the night diaper changes and feedings. I didn't know that then, but damn if I don't know that now. One day I'll look back and wish it was a simple fight about wearing too many layers in the Fresno heat, instead of trying to leave the house dressed like Miley Cyrus on the first day of freshman year. Those days are on my horizon, and I'm not saying I'm dreading them, but I'm a little fearful of my future mothering life.Teenage girls are a unique brand of crazy, and since I'm almost certifiable on my best days, I guess I should start praying now.

Let these words sink in dear friends. Periods. Leg shaving. Nair. Deodorant. Stiff and sticky sheets. Morning wood. Watch out moms, these phenomenons are coming for us. Ready or not. How will we prepare for the land of pubescent children? Wine, we are all going to need more wine, and possibly Xanax.