Thursday, April 24, 2014

I have good kids {even when I think I don't}



A few weeks ago I went out on a limb and took the girls to Costco after a full day of school, dance, and work. Add in the fact that the Hubbs was out of town on business and it's just crazy that I thought this was a great idea. Great idea or not, we needed the essentials like eggs, chicken, produce, and flushable wipes. Yes, flushable wipes.

Going to Costco anytime after five on any day is a recipe for disaster. We are usually tired from the day whether we worked or not. It's usually crowded with other people on their way home from working trying to buy their own essentials (flushable wipes I'm sure) and also trying to get something quick for dinner at the food court. The food court is usually another disaster zone, because the food is cheap, super unhealthy, and the only thing to drink is soda. Which makes my children oh so happy. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Costco, but after work isn't my favorite Costco to love.
 
Dinner at Costco for the win!

Going after work does have it's advantages, especially when you know your kids will eat food court food. Caitlin got a sandwich and Mac got a hot dog and sodas for everyone, so the real shopping could begin. As we passed other Costco shoppers they looked at my girls chowing down on some serious nitrates and sodium. They looked at their dirty faces and food in their hair. I just ignored them and threw The Book Thief in my cart, because mama needs some love too. That's when I realized why I was getting so many stares, my kids were being well behaved. They were eating and talking and not begging for every single thing Costco had to offer including gardening tools.

Huh. My kids are being good. Who would have thought?

I guess I should have thought. As they get older they surprise me at how well they behave in public. I always tell people it's because they know they will get beat, but seriously I think it's because they know what I expect when we are in public. It's strange to realize that your kids actually do "know better", since they appear to have no idea what the rules are at home. I'm amazed at the good reports I get from school, Caitlin always volunteers to clean up. Really, because we have to bribe her with five dollar bills at home (only kind of kidding). Mackenzie loves to share at play time. Are you sure we are talking about the same Mackenzie that screams at the top of her lungs if she has to share the Barbies with her sister? Is it crazy to ask why they don't act that way with me? Why aren't they on their best behavior for me at home? 
If I look surprised it's because my kids are being good.

I guess they are on their best behavior for me, it's just in front of other people. Strangers really, and I can't really complain about that. I'd rather have them fight like two sorority girls over the last beer at home, than act like real a-holes in Costco. I'm grateful that they save their worst behavior for me, even though it's soul crushing when it happens. How do you feel you are winning at motherhood when your children are being terrible and breaking all the rules of good behavior at home? I guess you take good and well behaved children when you can get them, including the grocery store or Target.
 
This kid eating a hotdog, cut up with a fork out of a cup. She's such a lady

Last month on my birthday I took both girls to the mall, in the rain, to spend some of my birthday money. Can I tell you that this situation would have never happened three years ago, or even a year ago? We went to three stores and I tried on clothes at all three. I even stopped at two places to try on shoes. They were angels. They were perfect. They were model citizens of the under 10 set. 

Until we got in the car and they screamed and yelled over the strawberry lemonade slushy I was making them share. Then one grabbed it from the other and it spilled, and then it started to rain again, and just as I was about to scream at them, I realized something:

They are good kids. Even when they aren't, they are still good kids. And I will take slushy fights in the back seat every day of the week for two hours of shopping bliss. So I thanked them for being so incredibly good on my birthday and at the mall. I thanked them a few weeks ago after Costco. In my early days of being a mother I was so scared to leave the house with one kid, let alone two. But now, I realize that I'm lucky that my kids save their best material for me, and not the Target line or the grocery store.

Take a look at your kids today. I bet they are good, really good, even if you think they aren't. Now thank them for being so good and take them to Costco for some nitrates and sodium, where there are sodas for everyone, including you. Although I'm pretty sure you deserve wine. All the best mothers do.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Check 'yo self...


Last Thursday I had to check myself.

I had been happily spending my week with my girls, squeezing in all kinds of Spring Break fun when I was stopped dead in my tracks by... that time of the month. Awesome, and right on schedule of course because for the first time in 36 years I can set my watch to my cycle. You would think that I'd have it down on my calendar, but every month it surprises me. I'm sure that has more to do with disorganization than it does with my body chemistry. Whatever. That part is not important. The important part is that for the past year my PMS has gotten horribly out of control.

I get progressively bitchier as my period approaches. I'm so bloated I seriously look pregnant (editors note: we are going to go ahead and believe that the possible food baby is because of my period bloat, not because I've been eating recklessly). I get headaches that just won't stop, and my face breaks out in acne as if I'm seventeen again. Add in the fatigue and the anemia, the food cravings for things I cannot eat even if I wanted too, and I'm an awful person to be around, let alone live with. So yeah, by last Thursday I was just trying to keep it together so that I wouldn't ruin Spring Break and one of my only days off.

The day didn't go all that bad, except for the fact that I wanted chocolate. Like, all the chocolate that is currently on earth. I wanted to eat it and bathe in it, and have babies with it. It was terrible and only made worse by the fact that last week was the week I decided that I needed to start eating better. Let's talk about the fact that we, and by that I mean us ladies, always decided that a new diet and exercise regimen always sounds like the best idea we've ever had when we are on our periods. Why do we do this to ourselves when we know we have no will power and zero resistance to things like chocolate gellato and french fries?

By Thursday afternoon I was holding on for dear life, white knuckling it just to make it to bedtime. I'd snapped a few too many times at the kids, then started in on the Hubbs when he came home. I finally abandoned talking to anyone all together. The Hubbs kept asking what was wrong, and I kept saying nothing, because saying "I want to eat chocolate so bad I just might kill you", can be embarrassing and pathetic. I thought maybe I had made it when I realized that I still haven't picked up Mackenzie's birthday invitations that I had printed at Walgreen's. Now I could go on a tangent here about said birthday cards, but that is seriously an entire blog post on it's own so I'll keep you posted on that. But let's just say knowing that I had needed to pick those pictures/invitations up and get them in the mail since Monday, did something to me now that it was Thursday. And that something was not good.

I grabbed my bag and announced I'd be going to Walgreen's alone, and that I would be back as soon as I could get those damn pictures in my damn hands. I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote. 

On the way, I yelled at every car that crossed my path. Then I yelled some more at the a-hole in the parking lot that took up two spaces in the crappiest car I've seen since college. Once inside Walgreen's I stood at the photo counter for a full five minutes while one associate stocked shelves and the other talked on the store phone nearby. Finally I had to say something to get some help, and even then there were issues with the computer, my card, the key pad. You name it, it was an issue. 

I got back in my car, cussing and cursing under my breath when it hit me. 

Bitch. Eat some cookies for the love of God. Eat all the cookies.

So I went home with a new resolve. I was going to bake some Against All Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies and eat as many as I wanted to. Three, in case you are wondering. I did this without guilt or feeling of failure. I took charge and granted myself permission to emotionally eat some cookies, for the sake of my sanity. For every one's sake. For the sake of my children and my husband. For the sake of drivers everywhere. For the sake of Walgreen's employees around the world. Ok, that's a tad bit dramatic, but seriously, I was in a bad, murderous, thank God I don't have any guns kind of way about cookies, chocolate chip cookies to be exact.

I'm sure this has something to do with menopause. Which I'm convinced I'm going through even if my doctors says I'm wrong. I remember when my mom went through the change that she said she wanted to eat anything that wasn't tied down or raw. I get that now and it scares the holy shit out of me. I am thankful that I have to be on a grain free, dairy free, processed food free diet for my health. This stops me from binge eating too much; one, because coconut milk ice cream is like twenty dollars a gallon, and two, cookies and cakes have to be baked by me. Now if I can just figure out how to talk myself out of baking things in my moments of weakness.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has days where the temptation of all things chocolate get the better of me. I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I fight that temptation the best I can. And I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who has to check herself every once in a while and say...

Bitch, eat some cookies.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hello Reality {goodbye Spring Break}

In the morning I will say hello to reality and goodbye to spring break. While my kids get one more day off, I will be at work well before they wake. It's the best way to close this years spring break. This year spring break felt real. Both girls and me left to decided how we would spend the days that Mom didn't have to work. A Tuesday spent in the absolute luxury of having nothing to do, nowhere to be. A Thursday doing what we love most, walking through Target, spending time with each other. And while they didn't have a single care in the world, I did. Because I knew this little pocket of time, so magical in it's minutes, was to be short lived, and very soon, it was to be over. Like most things we do, we made memories out of ordinary occurrences, we savored the most unorganized days, and we watched the sun slip behind the roof tops almost every night. Even as we say goodbye to spring break, we have hope and anticipation in our hearts for Summer break, because I can only imagine what magic those minutes will bring. 
Hello Monday, Hello Reality, Hello hope for more ordinary days.

In clothes that we slept in and house hold chores forgotten, we colored eggs after a very late lunch. And no one noticed the dishes in the sink or the crumbs in the carpet.


Waiting patiently while I take a picture before we got down to business. She is smiling a true smile and that is success in itself.


 I'll take a half smile from Mac, since she has decided that she only likes to take pictures on her terms. She lost interest in eggs about half way through, so I finished them. I did so happily, surprisingly enough.


Caitlin had to wait patiently for Mackenzie to wake up. She wanted to sleep longer, even when we told her the Easter Bunny had come. Bed head and chocolate bunnies really do make for a happy Easter morning.


Pretty dresses for the little ladies. In old shoes or hand me down shoes, because it's not always perfect. But these two looked perfect all day, and smiled and posed with only minor begging on Mom's part.


 Out of all the desserts offered on Easter, this kid chose a chocolate doughnut with purple sprinkles. Don't come between a girl and her doughnut. 


 All on her own. Caitlin is always on an adventure, with a story in her mind. One day she will share those stories and I can't wait to hear them. 


Pretty dresses for pretty girls. I'm still surprised they picked out these dresses, because they don't usually like to get this dressed up. I'm glad they wanted to look like ladies even if it was just for one day.

I hope you all had a happy Easter and a very magical Spring Break. Happy Monday. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Break {twenty fourteen}


I awoke Tuesday morning with such a feeling of calm it was almost foreign to me. My children woke me, like in the good old days. I was actually happy to hear their voices instead of a digital alarm clock. I realized that Tuesday held no schedule. No dance classes to attend, no Girl Scout meeting to manage. We didn't have to make the school bell, I didn't have to pack lunches. I didn't even have to be at work. It was in short, blissful.

We spent the majority of the day in our pajamas. Which in my book screams a successful day during Spring Break. We watched cartoons, and played for hours on the iPad. We ate our breakfast on the couch, and it consisted of waffle nutella sandwiches for Caitlin and cheetos for Mac. At some point I slapped dye on my hair and my mom came over. Mom and I watched two hours of TV, uninterrupted while the kids amused themselves. They destroyed their bedrooms of course, and I ignored responsibility. Then as I was mixing sugar cookie dough (from the bag of course), my mom suggested that I go run and get a mani/pedi since things were calm. And run I did.

It didn't occur to me until hours later what made this day so great. I was free. Free of time constraints and schedules. Free of to-do lists and must dos and obligations. I didn't have to be at work, I didn't have to be at school, we didn't have to be anywhere but at home. And it felt divine and delightful and perfect. 

Today was more of the same. We slept in. All of us. I laid in bed for an hour, while the girls destroyed the house, again. I went through my old routine of watching news on the networks, while scrolling the real news on Instagram. I didn't wear make up or dry my hair with the hair dryer. We went to Target just because. Then we enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt at Mac's preschool. We kept time for a moment, then let it all go and collapse into the last little bits of Easter break.

It's Thursday night, the sun will be going down shortly, and I have to be at work at six in the morning. But I am drinking it all in. All of the things I forgot. All the blessings I took advantage of. Tuesday I stopped for a moment and asked myself, what is different today? Why do you feel lighter? Why do you feel so happy? I realized it's because I'm so very happy here. In mommy mode. Putting all my efforts, or lack of efforts into skating through the day. If Spring Break is a glimpse into what summer will be like, well then bring it on. I miss my carefree days of staying home. When my only worries were laundry and dinner. When I could pool all my efforts and be my best self.

I'm nothing if not a work in progress. I'm just very thankful that I finally have that thing, that feeling. The one that makes you realize just how well you had it, and the one that makes you have great hopes for the future. Life changes, it has too, and I'm learning that I can too. So while I miss my old life of Stay At Home Mom, I look forward to my life as Part Time Working Mom. Because if I'm being totally honest, this Part Time Working Mom finally appreciates and realizes just how precious the free moments of light really are.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wore: Whatever it takes

As I type, my darling daughter is telling me how beautiful I am in my pictures. And how beautiful I am every single day. Even when I'm in my pajamas. It's probably the sweetest thing I could hear right now, because I've been feeling a little fluffy. Sure, I wrote a post all about my selfies and liking the person staring at me in the mirror, but we all have our days, including me. And lately those days have turned into the better part of a month because if I'm being totally honest, I'm fluffier than I've been in months. I sent Jillian packing last November. I ate my way through the holidays, and in the future I need to discuss the fact that I have emotionally ate my way through my Against All Grain cookbook. Just because it's grain free, doesn't mean it's Whole 30. Funny thing is, I keep posting pictures, holding myself accountable for choices and beating myself up when I think I look fluffier than usual. I can hide my flaws like a boss, and even when I can't, I slap a smile on my face and try. Swing tanks, slouchy button ups, and maxi dresses can hide a multitude of flaws. Even so, I'm trying to do whatever it takes to wear everything with confidence.


This is me on date day.
Jeans, lace tank, and a cardi.
We had a great time in case you are wondering.


This is me, post work on my way to Girl Scouts.
This maxi was a little tighter than it was last year.
That was kind of a downer, on the plus side, no one could tell.


In this picture I'm going to work in pants that are pre Caitlin.
That's seems like a victory, but a year ago, I was smaller than my pre Caitlin days.
Still, after nine years, pants that still fit my ass are kind of cool.


Let's talk about swing tanks and how they hide my middle.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm an apple shape.
That means no matter how many Jillian ab busters I do I'll always need a swing tank.


Swing tank number two.
I'll admit this one makes me took a little fluffy.
But from the side they didn't look all that bad.
I'm so glad the Hubbs suggested I buy this one.
I really wanted the mint and navy, but he said I never wore these colors,
which are more grey and coral.
Thanks Hubbs for making me step out of my mint fixation.


This is a button down tunic from Old Navy.
It's a little long, but I seriously can't get enough.
If you didn't notice I'm also wearing it with the pre Caitlin pants.
I threw on a cardi and wore it to work.
It was so comfortable.


My olive trousers are getting a work out thanks to Pinterest.
I've been stumped for years with these pants.
Now, I just search olive pants and hello!
Side note: that stripped top is older than Mac!


Chambray shirt take one.
With my black jeggings rolled up and Toms.
This is the shirt that I cut the sleeves off.
Still not sorry about that.


I've had this Loft top since Caitlin was a baby.
I really love it and it's soft as pajamas.
I realize that mustard is usually reserved for fall, 
but a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do.
Translation: shop my closet!


I'm kind of in love with all of these colors.
Dark jeans, navy striped tank, layered with a maroon tank, mustard cardi.
My hair is dirty, I'm not wearing make up and we were an hour late to a birthday party.
A party that was being held directly next door.
Only I can do something that ridiculous.
Second side note: When I tried on this tank top, Caitlin said she liked it because it was 
"boaty, you know shippy". 
I said do you mean "nautical" and she said "yeah, nautical". 
Important lessons when you are six going on seven, am I right?


Chambray take two:
My new favorite shirt, from Old Navy, bought three weeks ago.
Run, people, grab this shirt.
It's cotton, it's roomy, and it looks good dressy or casual.
Also I can't get enough of this look as a whole.
Can I just make this my work uniform?
And my high pony knocked me out, I mean who doesn't love to whip a high pony?


So whatever it takes friends. Rock those swing tanks, Bermuda shorts if you hate your thighs, three quarter length sleeves if your arms bug you. Rock them. Smile, throw on the outfit that makes you feel your best and snap a picture. Find your way back to you by doing whatever it takes. 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Waving A White Flag - My Messy Beautiful

When you wave your white flag, anything is possible.
 
Last Thursday I waved my white flag. 

I've come to the conclusion that Thursdays are the worst day of the week. It may have something to do with the fact that the first half of the week is usually jam packed. Maybe it's because I usually close on Wednesday nights and so I don't get to see my kids after school. It could be because by Wednesday we are ready to exhale and sit outside with our neighbors instead of doing the hard stuff like homework and dinner at the dinner table. Whatever the reason, Thursday mornings are horrible and terrible and someone always cries.

Last Thursday was one of those days. Caitlin started crying before she even got out of bed. I was in super mom mode and made my demands as I walked in and out of her room. Still she cried. I gave her warnings, I threatened to take away her iPad time, I even threatened to take her to school in her pajamas. Still she cried. I physically had to get her out of bed. Pulling one leg and one arm, demanding that she stand on her own. She cried harder. We finally found something to wear, combed her hair, and she cried all the way through. She cried as she ate her cinnamon roll, baked just for her, just to make the morning easier, just to make her feel special. She left it after two bites. And continued to cry.

Crying in the morning isn't anything new. It's not like we haven't had a month full of mornings just like this one. But pushing her on this day felt different. I didn't want to push. I didn't want to threaten or yell, or lose my temper like mornings of my past. I was exhausted. My heart hurt. My head hurt. And I just didn't want to do it anymore. Not on that day anyway.

So I waved my white flag. I let it fly high for all to see. Because that was it. I was done.

I surrendered to motherhood last Thursday. I surrendered to the chaos of it all. To the mess and the beautiful. I allowed myself to surrender to the schedule and the demands of morning routines that have never really been established. I surrendered to being angry at things I cannot control. I surrendered to the books that say I should have more discipline. I surrendered to the looks I'm bound to get from those who think I'm giving up. Because I'm not giving up, I'm just asking for peace, for a ceasefire, for a negotiation on the terms of motherhood.

Flying my white flag last Thursday allowed me to sit with my daughter who gets so little of my time. To kiss the top of her head and hold her hand while we watched cartoons she has long grown out of. It allowed us to talk about our mornings and how we can try again tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. My white flag gave me time to relax, sit in my recliner, and watch my girls play together in the quiet of a school day morning with no time constraints or commitments. And yes I admit, we should have been in school, we should have been at dance, I should have been more committed to our commitments. But it felt pretty damn good to wave my white flag and be at peace.

Years ago, surrendering to motherhood would have left me deflated and disappointed in myself. I would have spent days obsessing about how I could do better and be better. Last Thursday I realized that the mistakes and missteps are temporary. I won't wave my white flag every morning. I'm not giving up on motherhood or me, I'm just taking a time out from a war that I cannot control to get a little peace. Because the battles will continue. Next Thursday it will be something else. Next Monday another thing. I can't let motherhood defeat me, but I can ask for a ceasefire every now and again. Something I wish I knew was possible so many years ago.

I promise you I'm not giving up. I'm just surrendering to the mess. I'm surrendering to the beautiful. I'm surrendering to the tears and the tantrums. To the little people who still crawl into bed in the middle of the night. To the dinners eaten in the cart at Costco. I'm surrendering to the store bought cupcakes the day of the party, and the days spent in pajamas as the world gets dressed around us. I'm surrendering to all the things that will never make or break the love I have for my children. Because I haven't given up on them or me. 

Some days you just have to surrender. You have to wave your white flag. You have to make peace with motherhood and yourself. Some days you just have to surrender to your messy beautiful.
 


I'm joining Glennon at Momastery to celebrate Carry On Warrior's first year.
Join me and other bloggers as we share our Messy Beautiful.
Carry on Warriors.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Story of My Selfie

Little Megs. Age six.
 
I heard on the radio a few mornings ago, that selfies are the most annoying thing about social media. Forget the never ending food porn, the attack of venti red cups at Christmas, or even the outfits of the day, no all of these do not compare to the annoyance of the selfie. The hosts on the radio read a recent study, done at some important University, by some really important psychologist, that said that people who post selfies have body dysmorphic disorder. They have an unrealistic view of themselves, whether they think they are too attractive, or not attractive enough. They also said that selifie posters are arrogant and narcissistic, and are constantly fishing for complements. And while all of that sounds pretty legit, I have to whole heartily disagree.

 
I post selfies because I actually like the person I am now. I'm not in love with myself or full of myself, but I can honestly say that I really like the person I have become. I can say that because for years I hated me. I hated me for reasons that aren't even sound or realistic. But, sometime around age thirty (see girls, life doesn't end at thirty!), I began to really like that gal in the mirror.
 
It really did take thirty years though. In the beginning, as an only child, I was photographed constantly. I learned how to pose and smile for any camera by age one. There are millions of baby pictures floating around my family of me in frilly dresses, on Santa's lap, in my birthday suit, in a swimming pool. There are pictures of me at all stages of my life and as a kid I loved the camera and the camera loved me. Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that I am a ham. That I can go from bitchy resting face to Miss America smile in a ten count. But somewhere around twelve, I started to hate the pictures of me.
Fourteen year old Megs.
As a teen I couldn't stand the pictures of me. I kept taking pictures hoping that I get them back and somehow I'd be thinner or blonder. I hated my round face. I hated that my eyes were mud brown. That my hair was boring. I hated that my legs were stubby and my belly wasn't flat like all the other girls my age. I spent the better part of fifteen trying to do one hundred sit ups a day to possibly have Alicia Silverstone's flat tummy. Looking back I spent countless hours wanting to be someone, anyone else. I couldn't stand to be me. That feeling didn't really go away in college either. I remember thinking that I looked so good at my sorority formal one year, only to get the pictures back and see that my face was so fat that my eyes disappeared when I smiled. I threw them all away.
Wedding day Megs.
I'd like to say that all of the self hate ended the day I married the Hubbs, but it didn't. I felt my most beautiful on that day, but I was still worried about my belly sticking out in pictures. I was still worried that my arms might look flabby. Still obsessed about not working out for the last five days before the wedding, and then eating my feelings all along the way. Don't get me wrong, I love my wedding pictures, and I feel like they look exactly like me, but I wasn't as confident then as I am today.
Mamma Megs, June 26th 2007.
Motherhood, it seems, made me confident. Motherhood made me like the person in my selfies. And I admit, this didn't happen right away, but it did happen. Perhaps it was the months spent in yoga pants and tank tops with no make up. Maybe it was the multiple days in a row that I didn't get a shower, but still had to go to the store. Could it be that in the middle of the poop and spit up and baby food stains of the previous day that I found out who I was? Something that first year of motherhood showed me that I could do hard things, all the hard things. And suddenly I couldn't deny that the the woman looking back at me in the mirror wasn't a girl anymore. She was a warrior. She was a survivor. She didn't need lipstick or mascara or clean hair. And for the first time, I actually liked her.
Absolute Mommy 2011
 
My selfies can't tell you the whole story, however. I have days where I'm not super excited to be me. I have days where the extra five pounds I've acquired really bug me and make me feel shame. I have days where my jeans don't fit like they did last year. I've written all about my bald spot, my grey hair, my acne, and my wrinkles. Some days my selfies include hair three days past washing. Some days they highlight under eye bags and not a stitch of make up. Other days I'm in make up, eyebrows filled in, lip gloss thick. I like my hair, I'm ignoring the extra five or so pounds, and my jeans aren't that tight. But no matter the day, I'm sharing that selfie, because I like me. I like who I am now, after thirty six years. I like that I'm imperfect. I like that I have flaws. I like that I don't look like anyone else in Internet land. I like that I'm short, and can wear shirts from the boys department. I like that I'm so imperfectly me.
 
The good hair day selfie. Circa March 2014.
So I make no apologies for my selfie. My selfie tells a story. The story of a thirty six year old woman who, for the first time in her life, actually likes herself. I'm not fishing for a single compliment, because it's not about that anymore. It's about me finally complimenting myself. So my selfies are just a way to tell this new story of me, in this spot with the me I've always been, who is also the me I've finally accepted.