Monday, September 1, 2014

Not enough Mommy {The Shit Show}

My daughter broke her toe. You probably already knew that since I posted it to Instagram. Not only did she break her toe, but she also chipped a bone in her foot. Kids, am I right? The Hubbs and I were pretty much convinced that it was just a stubbed toe, but the next day she still couldn't put weight on it and x-rays confirmed a "fracture". That's what The Hubbs told me over the phone, "a fracture". Over the phone, because I was at work. I was working and couldn't take her to the hospital, and I automatically defaulted to guilty.

It didn't really get any better from there. I was also going to miss her follow up with the orthopedist two days later. Yes, I had to work again. And my schedule was so out of whack, that I felt like I had missed days of being home with both girls. So the Thursday before school was going to start, I left work well after five, and headed home to sit and enjoy the last moments before we were back to reality. Summer had come and gone and I had spent many moments at work or at home, too tired from work to really enjoy anything. It's sad but true.

I'd like to say that Thursday night delivered for us. That we were able to enjoy each other's company, and enjoy one of our last nights without homework or projects or even some sort of thrown together schedule. But it didn't. Thursday didn't deliver. Thursday was a disaster. Thursday was a shit show.

Caitlin was understandably tired and freaked out at the air cast and wrap up to her knee. She was having trouble getting comfortable, and after a day spent on and off crutches, she was exhausted. She started to whine and fuss about eight thirty and so I decided that the three of us, Caitlin, Mac, and me would pile into my bed and watch really horrible but entertaining cartoons provided by Cartoon Network. It seemed to work for awhile until Caitlin couldn't take the restraint on her leg and lost it. Like one hundred and ten percent lost it. She started crying and nothing, not even chocolate could make her stop. I tried to breathe. I tried to remind myself that she was probably in pain. I tried to remind myself that she probably just needed her mom. So I laid in the middle of the two girls and listened to the tears and the whining. It wasn't fun, but I was doing my best to power through.

Then Mackenzie started in. She was tired too, and now we were approaching nine thirty and her sister was still crying. Now Mac was crying too, because as she put it, "she missed me", she "never gets to see me", and that "you are always at work mommy". OUCH. Again, I took some deep breaths. I explained that Mommy just had one more day of work and then I would be off all day Saturday. I apologized for not being home, and I told her I missed her too. And then I did some more breathing, and then Caitlin said she missed me too, and then it was a fight to the finish to see who could cry more.

In that moment I realized that there was not enough mommy to go around. It was one of my biggest fears when I was pregnant with Mackenzie. Would there be times when I just couldn't be in two places at once? Would I have enough love for both? Let me tell you, love is not the problem. The problem is physical. I cannot cut myself in half, although, after almost two hours of crying, I was almost willing to try. So I did what most mothers would do in this situation.

I lost it. I gave in to the shit show. And I put on an even better one.

I sobbed. Right in the middle of those two crying girls, who looked at me in the dark, with only the light of the TV to guide them. There is not enough Amazing World of Gumball to shield you from your mothers breakdown. Sorry kids, but sometimes mommies have to let go too. So I let go with those sobs that only come from your gut.

I'm sure the Hubbs thought we were all headed for the loony bin.

The worst part about losing it all together? The girls apologized to me. As if they had reason to be sorry for breaking their mother in such a way that she sounded like a wounded animal and had mascara running down her face like some death metal band. The apologies only made it worse, only made my gut hurt more, only made me sob harder. But when I was able to pull it together I told them:
Mommy tries really hard to be here; Mommy loves you both very much; Mommy is really sorry that you both need me right now, and you have to share; Mommy tries.

There will never be enough Mommy to go around. Try as I might, I can't just cut my self into two pieces when they both need me at the same time. What I can do is remind them and me that there will always be enough love to go around. Even when it's hard, even when it hurts, there will always be enough love.

So yeah, Caitlin broke her toe, the week before school started. I worked the entire week before summer. And it was kind of a shit show. Then I woke up the next morning and did it all over again. Well, not the shit show part, but the work and broken toe, and the let's get ready for back to school part. Because just like there is never enough mommy, there is also never enough time to have multiple shit shows in a row.

Friday, August 29, 2014

First, the good stuff...

I have a million things on my heart. Two million thoughts in my brain. How to share them all here has been the question of the week. Hence the paralyzing writers block, that was, of course, broken at six o'clock Thursday morning. Isn't that the way?

I've decided to go with the good stuff first. Not because I'm being fake or only telling you about the good parts. I want to celebrate the good stuff first. I want to savor those moments and be thankful for them. I want them to be the moments we remember about this summer that was over way too quickly. So the good stuff first. So I don't forget.

Breakfast for dinner. Because it was way too hot to turn on an oven. And because waffles and eggs take fifteen minutes max. It's always a crowd pleaser, but it's also my favorite because I feel like it creates memories for my kids. They will never know that breakfast for dinner was because "mom just couldn't do one more thing". It will always be my secret.

New school shoes for my second grader. Because she is unbelievably hard on her shoes we went to the Van's store where she picked out these Half Cabs. Ok, maybe they aren't specifically Half Cabs, but they are to me. I did a victory dance as I am raising the daughter I somewhat conjured in my seventeen year old mind, while I wore similar Van's and a Girls Kick Ass baby T. 

In the same Van's store I caught this girl rocking out to some punk rock mix. Again, happy dance. She was totally enjoying herself. Who wouldn't enjoy themselves when their mother pushes their four year old bum around in a pink stroller. This is for ease, as she will cry seven minutes into a mall trip about her legs hurting. I've learned to pick my battles.

This check came. "Pay to the order of", Me. I got paid for my writing. For the first time ever. And while it's didn't pay any bills specifically, it did buy me moisturizer, hair dye, and concealer. That's how writers do it I guess. Savor the check. Think about framing it, and then because the money is few and far between for their writing they break down and cash them for real life things. But it's a start. And I had to start somewhere.

Crazy Costco trip with both my girls. Who love to watch the the rotisserie chickens cook. Who can't get enough of the samples. Who beg for things like double boxes of Lucky Charms because they promise this time they will eat the cereal too, and not just the marshmallows. Even the craziest Costco trips provide little moments to document. To say we were here.

Text conversations that deserve top billing on Facebook statuses. For the days I literally can't even. For the days that I just want to hide in my bed with ice cream and Grey's Anatomy. On those days, things like this save me. 

Our Fresno State season tickets came in, and it was like Christmas. The girls don't even go, but they were born into the madness, so they get it. They get how excited Daddy is for home openers and tailgating and fall. I get it too. It just takes me a little while to get acclimated.

Hilarious pictures taken in the car on our way to somewhere or nowhere. Mommy always has her camera out, trying to document the things. Most days we cooperate, but on this day. It was just too good not to post. She simply did not want her picture taken, and her sister was trying not to laugh. And of course I could not wait to post it on Instagram. Because if this ain't the life, I don't know what is.

Late night grocery store trips are things of the past since school has started, but this picture... Oh, these girls. I just had to run to the store for one thing at 9:30 at night and they just had to come. They picked out their shoes of course, and I was way too tired to fight. So I had them pose, next to the soda, and it was way too perfect. Two kids, out way past their "bedtime". I should be receiving the Life Time Achievement Award from the Mother of The Year committee any day now.

Summer came to a close Monday. But we didn't have time to dwell on it since we were too busy getting ourselves ready for the first day. My best friend asked me if Caitlin put this "look" together herself. Yes, yes she did. Down to the sunglasses. Those crutches didn't stop her either. I'm proud of her. She knows what she wants and who she is. I pray that she never loses that along the way.

Mac went back to preschool on Tuesday. This is it folks. The year before kindergarten. The year before real school. And I'm ready and not ready and my uterus is crying all at the same time. There were a few tears (hers), but for the most part, she was excited.

And even more excited when I picked her up.

So the good stuff first. Like Instagram filters and days off from work. Let's just remember the good stuff first. Goodbye Summer. Hello reality, please bring more good stuff.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's been awhile...

Confession: I had to schedule the time to write this post. I had to set my alarm for a half hour earlier than I needed to be up, in order to get something posted. It's awful because I haven't been able to drag myself to this space, and I hate that. I hate when writing something, anything feels like a chore. But I also hate when I haven't posted anything in almost a week.

A few years ago when I first started blogging, I fell in love with a lifestyle blogger. Her blog and her life seemed perfect. She was crafty, she was the first to master the cake box-cake pop, she had style and grace and wrote beautifully. I sometimes visited her blog three times a day, hoping and praying that a little of her magic would rub off on me. My day was made by reading a new post from her, and not because I'm a stalker with single white female tendencies, but because she was so damn inspiring. One morning I visited her site and there wasn't a new post. No new updates. No new crafts or things to bake. I went back after lunch and again at dinner, and still nothing. WTF? Didn't this blogger know that I needed to read new content every day? Didn't she realize the world was waiting on her? 

Of course she didn't. She had a life. A beautiful one. A busy one. A real one.

I get it now. The compulsion to continue to churn out new and interesting material every day until you just can't. Today, almost four years after the fact, I get that most bloggers don't have the time to just sit and write all day. We are mothers, some of us working mothers, we are wives and sisters and daughters and friends. We have school drop off and lunches to make and toilets to clean. And then some of us then have to go and put in a shift at work, or still work from home. Some days it's just impossible to meet your readers with something new.

Today, I realize how much I miss this place. I squandered a lot of time this summer. And not just time I could have spent writing, but time I could have spent with my kids and my family. I worked a lot this summer, a fact that just defeated me. It wasn't the summer I wanted to have with my kids. I wanted to do beach days and pool days and get that beautiful brown color that my kids developed. Instead I worked. And it sent me to this place that exhausted me and paralyzed me. Now that school has started the guilt has set in. I could write an entire post on what we could have done this summer if I just would have accepted this season in my life instead of fought so hard to avoid it and it's truths. 

I woke up this morning thinking that if I could just spend the day writing, I could get my life back on track. I could have fresh content for readers. Fill you guys in on the last two weeks. Share a recipe or what I have been reading. That was the plan for today, to write my heart out. Then I remembered that we need things from Costco and Target. I remembered that I need to pay the dance studio and call the dentist. I remembered that my family wants to see me on my day off. And I remembered that this blog is not always as important as I think it is. Which is hard to admit. Which breaks my heart. But it's solidly the truth. 

This post has been all over the place. I blame the time of day. But there is something quite poetic about writing as the sun comes up. A new day is emerging, and with it I hope a new outlook. I hope that after we get through this first week of school, and get settled in a new routine, finding time to write will become easier. Finding time for life in general with hopefully become easier. Until then, I will take these pockets of time where I can get them. Even if they feel like the middle of the night.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Back to reality

Getting our sillies out before school starts.

Tomorrow reality will set in. I'm not sure we are ready.

Tomorrow, reality begins again. Summer is gone. Gone. How could it be? But school starts tomorrow, and I know that reality will set in real quick. Because I haven't written a damn thing for this space in over a week. Because despite our best efforts, no one will go to bed at a decent hour tonight. Because tomorrow not only do I have to get myself ready for work, Caitlin ready for school, child care lined up, and find time to call the OBGYN about my annual (which I've been putting off), I also have to be happy about all of those things. I'm exhausted already. It's not that I'm not a happy person, or that I'm depressed, or that my life sucks. On the contrary, I like this little life of mine, but sometimes it feels so very big and overwhelming. I have a habit of letting things pile on. I have a habit of waiting until the last minute. I have a habit of being a pessimist. But aside from all of that, some days I'm just too exhausted to fake it till I make it. I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be one of those days. On the bright side, I have a second grader who is looking forward to school, even if she has to tackle the first day on crutches. I bought a new bra today, and as many of you can agree, that's like winning the motherhood lottery. Even better I got it for $15 off with a coupon. I know, it's like Christmas. And even though tomorrow morning may be hard and exhausting, I can feel that little buzz in the air. The excitement for new adventures. The excitement to see friends we have missed all summer. We will fake it until we make it, and honestly it may take until October, but we will do it. One bleary eyed morning at a time. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I could have been anything

A few weeks ago my neighbors and I were having a pow wow in the front yard. We were laughing and joking when one of my neighbors said, "You know what? I could have been a...". I can't remember what he said he was going to be. That's not the point, the point is that I replied, "We all could have been a lot of things, but now we are this". I wasn't saying it to be negative, I was just stating the obvious. We were a bunch of parents just sitting in the front yard, watching our kids play. Parents that work daily to figure out how to be the best parents and partners to our spouses. But the more I thought about it the more I realized there was more to it for me.

It's true. I could have been a lot of things. When I was four I wanted to be a ballerina. When I was nine I wanted to be a lawyer. In high school I wanted to be a fashion designer, then an editor at Sassy, and then an editor at Vogue. After college I wanted to be a buyer for Macy's. I feel like my whole life I've wanted to be something.

It's horrible being a mother wasn't always on my list of what I wanted to be when I grew up. that I didn't always want to become a mother? Maybe it's because I read way too much about strong women in impossible roles. It's possible that all the riot-girl vinyl continues to play in my subconscious. Maybe it's because I felt like I missed my era when I read about Gloria Steinem. Or it could just be that I just couldn't see myself as a mother. Whatever the reason, I had big dreams of what I was going to be when I grew up and being a wife and a mom were always afterthoughts. 

Funny how something as simple as falling in love and getting married can change your mind. Once I could see myself as a wife, I could almost imagine myself as a mother. The more I thought about the more it sounded like a good idea. The more it seemed like it would fit. When I finally realized I wanted to be a mother, I went wholeheartedly. I had great ideas and ridiculously high hopes. Like all my other career aspirations, I had it all mapped out, I just knew, in my mind exactly how it would go. But as we all know, there are no plans when it comes to motherhood.

I was in the thick of it, when I finally decided I wanted to be a mom. I was knee deep in the shit that is motherhood. It was almost like a declaration: I want to be a good mother damn it. I want to do this. But more than that, I wanted to be their mother. The only one they will ever get.

The truth is, I am a mother, their mother, in the best and worst possible ways. I am flawed. I am loving. And hilariously enough, I am still learning, every day. But I am their mother in the most cliche, most overwhelming way. And suddenly I realize it's what I really want to be. It's finally the job that fits. The one that sticks.

I realize now that I still can be anything. Anything and everything, including their mother. Motherhood makes you believe in the impossible. If you can make it through this, you can make it through anything. Today I know that there is still time for me, no matter the dream, no matter the job. I realize that I could have been anything, but without being their mother, I would have never tried, never been as brave, never taken a chance.

I could have been anything, and now I'm this. So, wholeheartedly, this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Book Club {Every Ugly Word}

***This is a book review for a book that I was approached to review. I was given an e-copy of the book, and no additional compensation for this review.

Have you ever read a book that is so incredibly gripping that you have to keep reading just to see how it will all end? This was the case with Every Ugly Word, by Aimee L. Salter. Every Ugly Word is a YA novel about the horrible world of bullying. Salter tells us the story of Ashley who is, in graphic detail, bullied in high school. Ashley's only relief is her own reflection in the mirror, but there is a twist to her reflection, it's her older self. This may sound hokey, but it makes for a very interesting story.

What I liked best about this book is that I believe it's a very accurate account of what bullying has morphed into since I was in high school. I remember the rumors about the "school slut", the notes passed in class, hating the girl that talked to your boyfriend, and all of that. In this book, we see the effects social media and and the struggle to be part of the "in crowd" have on teens today. I think that this book would be an excellent read for anyone who has been accused of bullying. This would really open their eyes to how something as simple as starting a rumor or name calling can snowball into something else. But really, lots of tweens and teen could benefit by reading this book. It would give them a better understanding on what bullying looks like. I feel like sometimes when you are in the middle of it, whether bullying or being bullied, you can't really see what is happening.

I also enjoyed the suspense of the book. It's told in two parts, real time and flash backs, or so you think. I'm not entirely sure which was which. But in telling Ashley's story, Salter really kept the pace going. I finished this book in less than three days. I just had to know what was going to happen to Ashley. I was totally invested in her story, but I'm still on the fence about her as a character.

Sadly, Ashley wasn't the most likable character. We find that she started one of the rumors about herself to bolster her popularity. The Author chalks this up to naive stupidity as a tween, but the consequences never leave Ashley as we now find her as a senior. I had a hard time with this, since I felt like she put herself in this situation. I was able to have sympathy for her but not pity,she has a horrible mother, no father figure, and a best friend who seems dense at best. I know with all of those things stacked against her, it may be hard for her to reach out to anyone for help. Even her best friend seems to have blinders on when it comes to her bullies.

The book lost me all together when it seems that no one with any kind of authority at the school sees this kind of bullying. It's also hard to read that her mother was so cold and calculating that she does nothing to help, and only adds to Ashley's grief when she bullies Ashley at home. The poor main character in this book is beaten mentally for so long she thinks this is just how life is going to be.

Would I suggest this book to you all in bloggyland? Yes. Yes if you like quick YA reads, yes, if you can agree and believe in some almost paranormal activity, yes if you remember what it was like to be bullied yourself. This book alludes to a happy ending. It makes you believe that Ashley is going to be alright. And that's all fine and dandy, but I still wanted more consequences for her aggressors. I wanted to know what happened to her mother. Was her mother remorseful? Did she finally realize how horrible she was to her daughter? And what ever happened to all the teachers and administrators who didn't ever see a thing? I feel like Salter could have wrote another hundred pages on just consequences and I would have happily read them. But that's just me. I wanted to see all those a-holes getting what they deserved after they just about killed Ashley, figuratively and literally.

I really did like Salter's style, and I look forward to reading more of her work. Please check out her author page, and check out her book if you are looking for a departure from your regular YA books about futuristic societies or vampires and werewolves. I'm not saying it's free of fantasy, but I am saying no one sparkles or has to fight against the capital. Not that there is anything wrong with that either.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Do you want to build a snowWOMAN? {Or sing a song to slash any remaining gender stereotypes?}

Frozen still has a huge presence in this house. Despite the Anna and Elsa dolls, the story behind the Elsa Dress, and my over all love for a story that literally proclaims, "Sisters before Misters", I still love the effect that Frozen is having on my daughters.

Last week the girls and I were driving my mom home after a day of shopping. Of course Mackenzie wanted to hear the Frozen soundtrack and we went through all the songs, singing along. Doing the voices, you know the drill. During a fantastic sing a long to "Let it Go", Mackenzie said that she wanted a "Frozen 2". We all agreed, a sequel to Frozen would be fantastic. Most likely not as amazing as the first, but still, with the same cast, I'd be there on opening night. My mom said that she wondered what kind of story Frozen 2 would tell. I was like, "Does it matter?", but my mom blurted out, "Elsa needs a husband. Frozen 2 can be about Elsa and a husband". I kid you not, the following are actual events:

loud voice from the back seat:


My Mom: Don't you think Elsa needs a King?

Caitlin: Elsa does not need a King, Grandma! She is free.

Me: Well amen to that! Look mom, I'm doing it right!

I've never been prouder. Let's break this down a little. One, my seven year old daughter realizes that Elsa has choices, and she does not need any man in her life to make it better. Elsa is free to be who she is and live in that fancy ice castle alone, making a closet full of ice stilettos if she chooses. Two, my seven year old daughter has the wherewithal to realize that you can be happy and live a very fulfilled life without a man. Ok, maybe not to that extent just yet, but this little lesson in feminism will not leave her as she grows into a young lady. 

Maybe I'm getting away from myself, but I think Gloria Steinem would high five me on my parenting win. I've never wanted anything more that to raise my girls with a strong sense of self. To raise them to know that they are enough, that they are strong, that they have choices. I want my girls to grow up and know that their possibilities are endless. I can do that because that's what my mama did for me. And so last week it all felt kind of full circle.

Can we talk about this little burst of "girl power" for a moment. Sure this isn't a burning bra moment by any means, but the tides have turned for our little ladies. When I was a kid I watched cartoon after cartoon and read story after story where the princesses were saved by the prince. The stories were filled with women who were almost strong enough, but in the end, they still needed that man to cross the threshold. A man to save them and make them feel safe and secure. Does anyone remember that scene in the Sex and the City movie when Carrie tells Lilly, Charlotte's daughter, that "Cinderella" doesn't really happen. If she wants to live in a castle all by herself that's all right too. I loved that scene, because I had always wondered what would have happened if Cinderella took that pumpkin carriage and got the hell out of dodge. I mean Cinderella had a Fairy Effing Godmother! Why didn't she ask for a convertible pumpkin and a new wardrobe? What if Ariel just swam up to Eric and was like, "Hey you wanna go for a swim?". What if Sleeping Beauty woke up and was like, "Hey, thanks for the kiss dude, but I've got a life to live". Seriously? What if all the Disney Princesses before Elsa had choices?

If I allow myself to take this Frozen Feminism crazy train, I can look at my daughters and know that they will always know they have a choice. They can get married, or they can live alone. They can choose to be a career woman or they can choose to be a stay at home mom. They can choose to travel the world or they can choose to grow roots right here in Fresno California. But they have the choice. Could we be moving closer to the day when the pressure to get married and have kids disappears? Could we be moving closer and closer to a time when our daughters will know that the best person to save them is themselves?

Thanks to Frozen, my girls realize there is more to life than some man to save you. They will know that not all men are "Princes", that some aren't who they say they are. They will grow up knowing that sisters are warriors, and will fight for each other. Thanks to Frozen, my seven year old knows that a man isn't an answer to your problems, even if you have set off an eternal winter and almost killed your sister accidentally.

Finally, we can sing at the top of our lungs, "Boys never bothered us anyway!"***.

Have I mentioned I'm totally doing this right?

***Editors Note: "Boys never bothered me anyway", is an original quote from the Hubbs. He sang this little ditty, to the tune of Let It Go, when I told this story. He wanted to be sure I gave him all the credit.