Looking Back: 7 weeks with my parents

Remember this post about me moving back in with my parents?  No?  Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait.

Good?  Good.

What I need to add is that we moved BEFORE the Kraken arrived.  5 days past due we hauled ass across the state.  You can read about that in The Kraken’s birth story, if you like.

As an adult, I often find myself looking back on growing up with nostalgia.  As a mother, I can look back a appreciate the things my parents did for us.  But it’s rare I can compare myself to them exactly.

For 7 weeks, I was able to do just that.

Now, there are reasons I choose to parent differently than my parents.  Many of them are probably generational.  A few of them are because I remember the way it felt being parented that way, and I resented them for it.  It’s a tough place to be in, watching your children be parented the way you were, when you told yourself you’d never do it that way.  None of this is to say that my mom and dad were abusive or bad parents.

My dad has always been a worker.  Gets up between 3 and 4 a.m. to be at work early enough to get stuff done without the buzz of others around him and was usually always home by 4 p.m.  Then he’d change into grunge clothes and dive into whatever project he was working on.  For years he remodeled the house we grew up in, cleaned up the forest around our home for firewood, and had various other projects going on.

My mom has always been a do-er.  She would make sure everything was taken care of before sitting down and relaxing.  Worked evenings while we were really young, then started working days once we were all in school.  She’d work all day then come home to cook and clean.

Captain and I are so, so different from my parents.  I admit it often, I’m a bare-minimum do-er.  I keep the house clean enough; never dirty, but not spic and span.  Captain doesn’t have the DIY drive to get things done until they absolutely need it done NOW.  And we’re okay with that.  It works for us.  But I know my parents have never approved of our style.

When we moved in and I was pregnant to burst, both of my parents were incredibly helpful with the kids.  While we were in the hospital there was no doubt that our kids were well taken care of.  When The Kraken and I were released from the hospital, they were great helps and sounding boards during a hard period of extra adjustment for all of us.  When Captain left, he left knowing that his family was safe.

Really, we couldn’t have asked for better help.

But, watching my parents interact with their Grandkids on a daily basis, rather than a visiting basis, made me realize where I get some of my parenting issues from.

Short fuse and intensity: My dad.  If I have to tell you more than once, I get frustrated, and now I know why.

Need to have things done my way: My mom.  This is how I do it and this is how it should be done, and if it’s not, you’re in trouble.  Yep, I do that, too.

Suffice it to say, for years I’ve wondered where my tendencies as a parent came from, and now it’s perfectly clear.  You really do parent as you were parented, and it’s a hard thing to overcome.

It’s not all bad though.

My dad taught us the importance of physical contact.  Every night after dinner, we’d ‘wrastle.’  Dog piles, suplexes, tickling, and rolling around.  It’s why I encourage Captain to do the same with our kids.  My mom showed me that the easiest way to show someone you love them is to feed them.  Nourish their bodies with food made with love.  Make enough to feed an army so no one leaves the table hungry.  Dad was always working hard to make sure we were taken care of in every way.  Mom instilled in us a love of reading.

I’m sure I drove them crazy… I was not one lick of help, at all.  Emotionally, I was wrung out.  Physically, I was recovering from a freight train labor and delivery.  Every time I tried to do something (I do stuff sometimes, I swear!), a child catastrophe would occur and I’d have to stop.  I hope the few times my mom came home to folded laundry, she was pleased.  I hope the few days I managed to make real food while my mom was gone, my dad enjoyed it.  My biggest fear was becoming a burden and making them resent the kids and I.  From the way my mom teared up as we were leaving, I don’t think we did.  Unless they were tears of joy…

dadandbaby momandemmett

All in all, for 7 weeks, my kids and I were in the hands of the best of the best.  They loved us, fed us, and sheltered us through a storm that, otherwise, I would have been facing alone, and for that I can never be grateful enough.

A Life Challenge

The domestic pirate

I wrote this post about 2 years ago after our experience circumcising Mr. Monkey.  This isn’t meant to be a pro/anti-circumcision post, but our experience with feeling helpless in a situation, and a request for people to support, not degrade, each other.

Captain is circumcised.  I suppose starting there is best, since that’s why I’m in this whole tangle of emotions.  Since he is circumcised he wants our sons to be circumcised.  Okay.  I don’t have a penis, I’m not one to really make a decision about it.  However, I still played devil’s advocate, researching the pros and cons of circumcision, telling him all my findings.  Nothing changed his mind, and I’m okay with that.  At least he’s informed.  So, after our first son, Cabin Boy, was born, I grudgingly made the appointment.  I cried the morning leading up to it.  I cried in the waiting room.  I cried when I took him in, full of guilt that I was leaving him and his little manhood in the hands of someone I didn’t know from Adam, terrified that something would go wrong.  The procedure took all of 5 minutes, went totally fine, and CB only showed discomfort the first night.  A week went by, the plastibell fell off, and VIOLA.  All done.  Happy, healthy penis.

Fast-forward to mid-August, when I had our second son, Mr. Monkey’s, circumcision appointment.  Same Dr. and all.  We’ve been through this before, it should be easy, right?  Nope.  Same guilt.  More tears.  I made the mistake of seeking comfort through my social network friends.  Most of them are moms I met through local play groups and even most of those that aren’t from the groups are parents; They’ll have words of comfort for me, right?  Even if they don’t feel that circumcision is necessary for their sons, they’ll at least have a ‘Good luck’ for us, right?  Nope.  Apparently, when it comes to the topic of circumcision, despite it being an intensely difficult and personal decision for each family, people feel the need to say something that digs the knife of guilt a little deeper in my gut.  Thankfully a few close friends had the words I needed to dry my tears and make the drive to the clinic.  Again, I cried as I left the room and sat in the lobby, once again terrified that we could be in the percentage of ‘procedures that went wrong’.   Lucky me, there was a wonderful display of teenage angst to keep me preoccupied (really, if any of my kids call me a ‘f*&^ing idiot’ in public, I will backhand them and I don’t care who’s watching- but I digress) and before I knew it the Dr. was there telling me everything went fine.  **Breath sigh of relief**  Now I felt bad that I had kind of hoped MM had peed on the Dr. like CB did. Mr. Monkey was a bit fussy but nursing and some good cuddle time calmed him down enough to help him sleep for the drive home.  Once we got home he worked on filling his diaper so, of course, I changed him… and there was blood.  Everywhere.  A lot of it.  He started screaming.  I started crying and yelling for my sister to bring my phone and the paperwork from the Dr. so I could call the ‘if a problem occurs’ number.  The nurse told me to take him to Urgent Care immediately, so Captain and I took him in.

Not to include all the gory details but several attempts at cauterization (O.M.-effing-G!!! You want to do WHAT to him now?!), using pressure, different wraps and clotting products, a discussion of plan B to remove the PlastiBell and convert to a Mogen Clamp method, and FOUR HOURS later, the bleeding finally stopped.  We’re lucky he’s such a mild mannered baby; he laid in my lap and slept for most of it (thank goodness- I can’t imagine trying to maintain pressure on his little parts had he been squirming and kicking), we managed to maneuver enough so that he could nurse while laying in my lap and not disrupt the process we were going through.  Maybe I’m trying to assuage my guilt a bit by telling myself he couldn’t have been in much discomfort since he slept nearly the entire time and barely squeaked through all the gauze changes and various pressure holds we used.

The follow up appointment went well and he’s healed perfectly.

So, what’s the point of me telling you this?  I guess I felt the need to put a reminder out there.  A plea, if you will.  As parents we’re faced with difficult decisions every day.  Not that someone’s going over our every move as a parent with a fine-toothed comb, but we’re under a lot of scrutiny and the pressure to ‘do it right’ is overwhelming at the best of times.  We all feel it… I’d love to shake the hand of a parent that was exempt from receiving unwanted advice or scrutiny from someone that feels they know better.  So why on earth do we insist on putting more pressure on one another?  Why couldn’t someone have just said, I hope it goes well, instead of telling me what they think I should or shouldn’t be doing?  I have enough guilt and have avoided telling people of our experience because the LAST thing I need right now is someone saying ‘I told you so’ or ‘I never would have done that to MY son’ like it makes them a better mother than I am.  I don’t want apologies or backpedaling on things that have been said.  I just want to ask everyone to give each other a break.  We’re all doing what we feel is best for our families, wading through the myriad of choices and circumstances life throws at us.  For whatever reason though, it doesn’t make us sympathetic, it makes us more self righteous.  My boys may hate the decision we’ve made for them down the road but, you know what?  That’s something Captain and I are prepared to deal with.  We should be supporting one another in this hectic phase of our lives, not sowing seeds of doubt and guilt.

So, in conclusion, I would like to issue a challenge.  And this goes to everyone, not just parents.  The next time someone is discussing a life-choice that you don’t agree with, stay away from the soap box and just wish them good luck.  It may not be what’s right for you or your family, it may not fall in with your beliefs, but isn’t that the beauty of everyone being individual?

Finding My Place

sillyfaces

I’ve never seen myself as shy.  Socially awkward?  A little.  But, somehow, I have always managed to make friends in new situations.

When I had my daughter I was the only one of my friends having kids.  We didn’t stop being friends, we were all just on different paths, which made it hard to hang out and, sometimes, connect.  Where I had a million and one things to say about Cabin Girl, they were talking about their jobs, school, or other friends.  Though I had a few close friends that really did enjoy hanging out with CG and I on a regular basis, I dabbled in a few mom groups, but none of them were very welcoming and I just didn’t connect with anyone.

When it came time to move across the state, to a place neither Captain or I had any connections, I was less nervous than excited.  I knew exactly which mom groups I was going to try to get in with, and I did.  I didn’t make an immediate connection with anyone, but, unlike the last few playgroup attempts, I felt comfortable just being around them and Cabin Girl instantly fell in with some of the other kids.  So, we kept going back.

Eventually, I made connections.  Friends.  I realized how different, and honestly, difficult it was making friends as an adult.  We walk into a situation with our own set of opinions and experiences, looking to find connection with someone similar to us and what we believe in.  If you come on too strong, you could scare them away.  But woe unto she who doesn’t put herself out there, for she may be ignored or passed over.

In the beginning I told myself it was for the sake of my daughter that I was going to these playgroups.  I can see now that they were beneficial to the both of us.  We became friends with so many different people.  We lost a few friends, too; To differences that couldn’t be overlooked by either side, to behaviors that we just didn’t want Cabin Girl to be around, to the general hustle and bustle of the busy life that is being a mom occupied with her child{ren}.

As time passed and we had more kids, there was no big transition to go through.  The friends I had already had one or multiple children, or were expanding their families as well.  I didn’t have to explain what I was going through to anyone wondering why I had dropped off the face of the earth for 6 weeks, they all understood.  We looked out for each other, with food, childcare, mom’s nights, and online chatting, during the times that motherhood became a chaotic struggle.  I became comfortable in the knowledge that my kids and I had a place.  We had friends and were, dare I say it, loved by a community to die for.

Now, here we are.  Moved again.  The possibilities are endless, for the new chapter we are finding ourselves in.

But this time is so, so different.

Something about the idea of putting myself out there, as a harried mother of 4 rather than the showered-every-day mom of 1 I used to be, is really daunting.  The fear of rejection is upon me like I have never experienced before, because it’s not just me counting on finding a village; My kids need it, too.

We have family here with children the same ages as ours, so we are really looking forward to cultivating better relationships with them, but it wouldn’t be fair to them to roll into town with the expectation that they fill that void.

What a void.

So today I begin writing an additional plot to the chapter we’ve just started.  No longer introducing myself as an organizer for a moms group, with a best friend just a text away from a lunch date and a community of awesome women ready to gather for anything.

I am Jessica.  Mother of 4.  Part time blogger.  Obsessor of pirates.

Trying to find my place.

sillyfacesLet’s start by putting my best foot forward, shall we?

5 Tips on Surviving Pregnancy as a Couple

couplepreggotips
Guys, we know you don’t know.  We know you can’t understand the way having a tiny being pressing on all the corners of your abdomen from the inside can feel.  We know you don’t get rushes of inexplicable emotions, or food cravings so intense that you’re tempted to recreate the World of Warcraft freak out.  And we know that it’s hard for you to understand why we might not be as frisky as usual.
Ladies, even the most pleasant, levelheaded of us can become stark raving mad biznatches during the miracle that is pregnancy.
I’m far from a relationship expert, but I’m really good at getting knocked up and the Captain’s still hanging around, so I’m here to give a few tips, for both ladies and guys, on how to deal with pregnancy issues without becoming little more than resentful roommates before your tiny poop machine makes its debut.
Photo credit: Trish Andrus

1: Morning (read: 24/7) sickness- Guys: When your lady is spending most of her day dry heaving into the sink or making out with the toilet, spend some of that time with her.  Get her a hairband, bring her a glass of water, just sit there and rub her back.  When she’s done and has cleaned off the goop that was ricocheted back into her face, hug her for a minute.  Don’t speak.  And most importantly, don’t ask if she’s okay.  She’s not okay.  Her body is trying to turn itself inside out.  Just let her know with your actions that you’re there for her in her most vulnerable and potentially embarrassing* moments without judgement, and you’ll be raking in the brownie points. *Ever puke so hard you pee yourself or fart unintentionally?  No?  Then no complaining if she does.  Yes?  Then you’ll know the feeling and keep your trap shut.

Ladies: After you’re done heaving and your guy has been sweetly and silently doting on you, brush your teeth (or at least gargle with some mouthwash) and wipe the snot off your face before you show your gratitude with a kiss.  You don’t have to get into a full blown make-out sesh, but make sure you show him that you noticed his silent support and that you appreciate it.  No one likes hanging around someone who’s puking like they’re possessed by a demon.

2: Exhaustion- Guys: Don’t complain that your lady seems to be utterly exhausted by the most menial tasks.  She slept for 10 hours, made herself barely presentable for work, took a nap on her lunch break, and now she’s on the verge of tears because she’s out of clean underwear and is still just. so. tired?  Now’s the time to tie on your super-hero cape and offer your skills as a domestic helper.  Ask her what she needs you to do, and do it without grumbling. Within earshot.  Let’s be real.  No one likes extra chores.

Ladies: Let go.  I’m no June Cleaver, but I admit that I like things to be done a certain way.  If your guy is making your life a little easier by picking up a few of the chores around the house, don’t nit pick about how it’s done.  Thank him as often as you can while he’s helping and once he’s done, let him know how much you appreciate it.  You’ll have plenty of time for fretting and doing it yourself during the feel good trimester, and if you gripe about how he’s helping, he’s not going to do it anymore.

3: Food- Guys: We can’t explain it.  Sometimes there are just things our body won’t tolerate.  Like vegetables.  Or the smell of cooking meat.  Or anything that doesn’t have sugar in it.  It’s a crap-shoot.  One day we could be dying for Indian food and the next day just the idea of curry makes us nauseous.  We’re just as perplexed and frustrated by it as you are.  So, if you’re the cook in the house, ask what your lady wants to eat, and always have a backup plan, lest all your cooking go to waste.  And if your lady has a particular craving while you’re out and about, get it for her!  You will earn some major brownie points for assisting her in her random indulgences.  Sometimes, there is nothing sexier than a man coming home with a take-out box full gyoza and chicken katsu.  And when your lady proceeds to stuff her face full of the desired food so fast you’re positive she isn’t even chewing it, just ask if she’d like something to drink, too.  Or, make a joke about it.  Captain’s favorite line to say at meals with me this pregnancy?  “Yes, I want you BIGGER!” in a totally creep-tastic, evil geniusy voice.  Nearly makes me choke on my gyoza.

Ladies: If it is within your power to get your craved-for food yourself, do it.  If it’s 3 a.m. and you just HAVE to have a McChicken, don’t pester your guy to give up his sleep to fetch it.  Either slap on a robe and hit the drive thru, or find something that will satisfy your taste buds until lunch tomorrow.  Whatever you do though, don’t beat yourself up about what your body is craving.  Just make good decisions where you can so that if you do have a day during which that slutty bitch Little Debbie won’t stop harassing you, you won’t feel guilty for eating the entire box of her Oatmeal Creme Pies in the car on the way home from the store.  You know, for example.

4: Personal hygiene- Guys: Here’s the deal.  Our bodies change a lot during pregnancy.  Our chemicals change so we smell different, our bodies produce more icky things than we care to admit, hair grows in thicker, darker, and faster, we break out like Argus Filch getting the side effect of Weasley’s Fever Fudge, and we get stretchmarks on top of just plain not feeling good.  It is generally pretty hard to feel sexy during pregnancy knowing that your body has become a completely different animal.  If we aren’t feeling sexy, then we sure as hell don’t think you find us sexy.  If your lady has a hard time shaving her legs and complains about it?  Offer to shower with her and help.  And don’t expect that bikini line to look very nice until she gets more than 5 minutes to shower after baby arrives.

Ladies: It sucks, but don’t gripe about it.  Do you want to hear details about your guy’s sweaty package after a long day?  He doesn’t want to hear about the nasty things your body is doing.  Hair on your nipples?  Quietly pluck it.  Pee when you sneeze?  Just go change.  Deodorant not up to par anymore?  Hit the store and get something better.  It’s kind of like the poop rule:  Everybody does it, but people aren’t too keen on seeing it, smelling it, or hearing about it.  Unless it’s theirs.  Like the saying goes: Everyone likes their own brand best.

5: Becoming as big as a house- Guys: In our fat-shaming, thinspo pushing culture, pregnancy weight gain is just about the most confusing thing ever.  Medical experts don’t help either, by putting out general limits on how much we should be gaining at certain points during pregnancy.  Even when our bodies are in the midst of doing the most amazing thing ever, we are critical of them for not fitting in with the norm that is portrayed by Photoshopped advertising.  Whatever stage in the pregnancy, there will be hitches in your lady’s self esteem.  First trimester bloating, ensuring our regular pants will see the closet sooner than we’d hoped.  Second trimester showing barely enough that you just look fat.  Third trimester you-must-be-having-twins belly.  Other people assuming that our pregnancy is open to the peanut gallery’s 2 cents, telling us we’re too small, too big, carrying too high, too low, etc.  Make your house a place of zen and acceptance.  This woman is carrying your baby, and even if you may not think she’s beautiful or sexy in the conventional sense, shower her with your affections.  Find reasons to compliment her.  Tell her that her bump looks cute in the outfit she’s wearing.  You’re half the reason she’s going through this.  Rub lotion on her stretched belly to show her that you want a better connection with her and the life blooming inside her.  Strive to be at least half of the reasons she smiles every day.

Ladies: Quit with the self depreciating remarks about your changing body.  This is what your body was designed to do.  Marvel in the way it changes to accommodate the rapid growth of your baby rather than despair at the numbers on the scale.  Share the things that make you feel good with your guy.  If you only point out the bad things, they will become the only things that you see.  And try to make light of it.  For instance, I felt like I had my own gravitational pull a few days before my due date with Cabin Boy.  So, I made a Halloween costume to showcase it.

 
In a nutshell, love each other, help each other, appreciate each other, don’t say stupid things, and, when in doubt, bring home some gyoza.  Or ice cream.  Or pickles.

9 Years of Reconciling Grief and Joy

bouquetgriefandjoy

9 years ago today, something awful happened.

Because of that something awful, 9 years ago today, something extraordinary happened, too.

9 years ago, I had graduated high school.  I had been flirting with this amazing guy that I worked with, and his interest seemed reciprocated.  I had some awesome friends that I would miss terribly, leaving them behind to finish their high school journey as I embarked on mine to become a real adult.

On June 13th, 2004, I spent the day goofing off with my friends.  We hung out, played video games, watched movies.  I had plans to stay the night with them, until I got a text message.  The guy I was interested in was free that night.  Did I want to hang out after he got off work?  Maybe go see a movie?

Uhm, D’UH!

Did my parents need to know?  Nah.  They knew I’d be out, and that was good enough.  After all, I was 18 now.  An ADULT.

Off I flew to this guy’s house, after creating a cover story with my friends, just in case my parents called while I was gone (I was out getting cupcakes, btw).  That whole being an adult thing still needed a little work.  My phone rang a few times, but I missed it because I was smoking and listening to my ridiculously loud techno music.

I pulled up in front of his house, tried to dumb down the shit-eating grin I had on my face, and, as I walked up the stairs, he opened the front door.  He had a bowl of spaghetti in one hand… I’ll always remember that for some reason.  As he told me that my friend had called him while I was on my way over and that my parents needed me home immediately, I fixated on that bowl of spaghetti.  ‘Was something wrong?’  It sounded like it.  ‘Oh.’  You have my number, call me when you know what’s up and maybe we can still do something later.

Back to my friend’s house I raced to grab my things and give my parents a quick call.  ‘Sorry, yeah, out getting cupcakes.  Just noticed the missed calls.  What’s up?’  Something bad happened and we need you at home.  ‘Is everyone okay?’  Just come home, we’ll talk when you get here.

A 20 minute drive becomes a nightmare when you’re left with such non-information as that.  Did someone get in a wreck?  Is someone in the hospital?  Someone’s house burn down?  Dog get run over?

These are awful things to ponder in a car by yourself, driving down lonely rural roads.

When I pulled up our driveway, my family was sitting in camping chairs in the yard.  I did a quick count of the 4 of them, mom, dad, brother, sister, and the anxiety disappeared for an instant before returning.

I don’t remember specifics of what was said… But, I do remember my mom holding a big, stuffed Tigger doll while she told me that my favorite Uncle, her only brother, had been found with his dog that afternoon, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He loved Ren and Stimpy.

His favorite childhood character was Tigger.

He smoked Camels.

He was an amazing gardener.

He had a piranha that he decided to stuff and mount when his (eventual ex) girlfriend decided it creeped her out.

He drove semi-trucks for a living.

He called his dog everything but his given name.

That dog was his world.  He chose not to leave the world without his one ever-devoted companion.

He was 38.

He had struggled with drugs forever.

He had tried to leave us before, but intervention only seemed to make his conviction stronger.


9 years ago today, something awful happened.

Because of that something awful, 9 years ago today, something extraordinary happened, too.

After a while, the phone rang.  It was that wonderful guy, checking to see if everything was okay.

I told him what happened.  I cried.  He listened.  He listened for a long time.

For weeks afterwards, he held me when I would suddenly start crying.  He saw me snotty, puffy faced, and red eyed, and continued to call me and ask to see me again.  He’d listen to me just talk.  He came to visit me when I was getting the tattoo in memory of my Uncle and his dog.

This amazing guy was there when my family went through the biggest emotional upheaval it had ever experienced, and it didn’t scare him away.

9 years later, he’s still with me.

He still holds me when I cry.

He understands what I need when he catches me listening to this song:

Today, I grieve a loss.

Today, I celebrate what that loss sparked.

And I wish my Uncle was here to see it.

My Uncle’s pendant and my wedding bouquet.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please don’t hesitate to call.  There is always help.

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

I forgive you.

perfectmother

You.  Yes, you.  The Holier-than-Thou, mom of the year runner up.  I forgive you.  For throwing stones at me from your glass house.

I don’t pretend to be perfect.  Ever.  I’m actually pretty blunt about my follies as a parent, wife, and housekeeper.  There are things that work for me and mine that you may never consider to try for you and yours.  And that’s ok.  It’s more than ok.  It’s perfect, because it’s natural.

I don’t know what you’re trying to compensate for by attacking my choices.  Sneering at the way I spend my free time.  Pitying my children, because what you see of me is via social media.

Assuming that, because I blog and use several social media outlets simultaneously, my children are neglected or less loved than yours.

What you don’t see between my internet activities is…

the food made from scratch,
the kisses on every toe during diaper changes,
the time I take to fix my daughter’s hair in that day’s requested style,
the stuffing of toys in shirts so we’re all wearing ‘babies,’
the load of cloth diapers just put in the wash,
the spills that are cleaned,
the scrapes that are bandaged,
the fights that are separated,
the little bodies crammed onto my every shrinking lap to watch silly things on the computer,
the talks about animals,
the pages that are colored,
the gentle games of indoor toss,
the nails that are painted,
the backs that are rubbed,
the books that are read,
the airplanes that are watched,
the bugs that are discovered,
the dishes that are washed and promptly dirtied again with more of that food made from scratch,
the flowers that are smelled,
the hiding places that are discovered,
the new words that are learned,
the songs that are sung,
that made from scratch food that is swept off the floor,
the pullups we practice,
the make believe meals that are brought to me,
the tantrums,
the budget balancing,
the puppet shows,
the stuff purging,
the failed attempts at taking a shower because I choose to spend time with my kids instead,
the walking 6 blocks to pick up my daughter from school and let my boys play,
the visits with our neighbors,
the jump roping,
the late nights I spent reading and gathering blogging material after all my household obligations are done,
the ball pit wars,
the piles of laundry folded,
the dance parties we have,
the fashion shows we’re given,
the school functions we attend,
the naps we take,
the wet beds changed,
the innumerable bathroom breaks,
the movies that are watched together,
the play dates that are planned,
the games of pretend that are played,
the discussions I’ve had with my husband about choosing a day of the week for me to focus on the things that I enjoy doing besides mothering.

 

And, because there’s no way you could have known any of that unless I post about it on social media, I forgive you.

I hope that next time, instead of attempting to shame me for the outlets I choose to use on my me day and in my frequent and short spare moments, you choose to be kind and applaud me for having a passion other than my children.

There is no parenting contest.  If there was, I can assure you

there would be no winner.

I was selected for VOTY/PhOTY 2015

UPDATE:  Shortly after posting this, a fellow blogger brought this amazing piece by The Hands Free Mama to my attention.  Here is an excerpt, but I encourage you to go read her full post.  It. Is. Beautiful.

“We need this validation. We need to know we’re doing something right. We need to know our children are going to turn out okay despite it all. We need to know love prevails over failures, flaws, and imperfect days.Because sometimes the “experts,” the psychologists, the well-meaning friends, the sweet ladies in line behind us at Starbucks, and the critics inside our head suggest otherwise … making us feel like there is more to it than just loving them.”

 

Your Place at Equis Place

A Letter to my Best Friend

My Dearest, Most Cherished Friend,

Life is just not fair.

The hardworking barely scrape by.

The giving are taken advantage of.

The loving are demeaned.

The free spirited are scoffed at.

The things we want most are sometimes out of our reach.  Maybe only for a time, brief or extended, maybe forever… 

I wish you these things.  Your heart’s desires.

I wish I could take away the pain you feel.  I wish I could make your dreams happen.

I wish you the world.  

But, most of all, I wish you peace.

I have felt that despair.  

I have felt that sadness.

That jealousy.

That righteous fury.

I have felt the keen sting that is watching someone who doesn’t want what you want, getting it anyway.

I have died inside, watching those who don’t want it, literally throw it away.

I have gone through the agonizing stages of waiting.

Countless others have felt these things as well.

You are not alone.

You are justified.

Your feelings, your desires, your dreams… they matter.  

They are not less.

YOU ARE NOT LESS.


 But if it takes both of our bodies to make your dreams happen, just say the word.

Just Be – About Me, the Color Purple, and Why I Won’t Tone It Down Anymore

I will be 27 in a few weeks. I know it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to some, and to others it seems like the best years of my life have passed me by.  But there is just one thing that is becoming ever-more clear to me as I get older, experience new things, and raise my children: People never expect you to show your true colors right off the bat. When we, as adults, meet other adults, we tread lightly, carefully, taking pains not to say or share something about ourselves that might scare this potential new addition to our lives away.
I’m not interested in playing that game anymore.

Ideally, my introduction would go like this:

“Hi, my name is Jessica.  I believe in reproductive rights, gender equality, better gun control, and freedom from religious persecution.  I should also mention that I’m Pagan and feel that our actions here on Earth should speak for themselves, not for a promise of fulfillment in an afterlife.  I am pro-birthing education, support public breastfeeding, I teach my kids the proper names for their penises and vaginas, and I let them climb, scream, and make their own mistakes, as kids are wont to do.  You should also know that I used to be fiercely opposed to GMOs and biotech in our food and beauty products, and while scientific evidence and reason has prevailed, I still plan on creating a homestead where I will grow my own produce, raise my own chickens, and milk my own goats.  Oh, and I am very much into having a healthy, active lifestyle.  I prefer Crossfit and running to most other forms of exercise.  Can we be friends now?”

I will not hide the parts that make me unique just to be shunned once they come to light.
I will not apologize for my beliefs, nor will I expect anyone I meet to apologize for theirs, just because they aren’t the same.
Why the heck is she going on this defensive rant?! you may find yourself asking (if you weren’t, I’m going to tell you anyway).
Memories, for one.  I remember how hard I used to try to fit in, even though there will never be a better mold to fit into than my own.  There will never be a color to match me better than the one I radiate.  I wish I had known quite some time ago how true it is that attempting to be like anyone or everyone else is just a horrible, painful waste of time.
Recent happenings, for another.  As my kids get older I’m meeting more people.  As my interests expand, I am encountering others that have similar ideas to mine.  But, once the other shades of who I am are introduced to these people, I am cast aside.  I don’t have time for people who are only interested in me if my shade matches theirs.
I’ve started thinking of myself along the same lines as the color purple.  Made up of blue and red, but with touches of yellows, blacks, and whites to get the various shades.  Sometimes, colors like orange and green clash with it, because they’re on opposite sides of the wheel from purple.  But, other times, the colors that they share, blue in the greens, and red in the oranges, allow them all to compliment each other very, very nicely.
I will never stop encountering oranges and greens.  In truth, I would never want to stop.  I will never stop looking for the similarities that make us compliment one another, so that we can enjoy each others’ proximity and what each shade brings to the table of our relationship.  But, I will stop expecting others to look past the spaces between us on the wheel to see that we share a base color in common, and I will stop hiding the colors that make up who I am. (And I’ll continue to be fascinated by yellow.  Seriously, what planet did it even come from?  How can it even exist on THAT side of the wheel?!  I must know everything about it!!!)
http://beautyineverything.com/4563045108
There are no lines that define when blue becomes purple.  Why should we draw those lines between ourselves as people?

What color do you identify with?

In defense of being self-centered.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about adult relationships. 

We went to a birthday party the other night and I realized that I. Am. So. Boring.  And can be perceived as very self-centered.  

Several years ago someone told me that I wasn’t the type of person she was interested in being friends with.  There were a lot of other things said in and around it, but that was the gist, and it hit me HARD.  It plucked at my insecurities and made me question the person I was.  It still makes me question the person I’m becoming.  A blessing in disguise, for sure, but blessings like those are painful.

It made me realize that I AM self centered. 

Because I don’t have anything to talk about other than the small circle of a world that makes up who I am.  Stuff about MY kids.  Stuff about MY husband.  Stuff about MY crafts.  MY workouts.  MY feelings, thoughts, opinions…  I don’t have a sports team that I know the statistics of and can discuss for hours.  I don’t have a job that broadens my perspective of the world at large.  I don’t have an education that affords me high class discussions with worldly people.

I’ve been struggling with being more inviting.  Asking people how they are doing instead of just responding to their questions about me.  Swallowing my fears of being rejected and asking new people in my life to do things with the familiar ones.  Taking chances and going to new things.  Admitting that I’m not familiar with certain territory and am totally out of my element.


One of these things is not like the other…



I’m TRYING.  And it’s HARD. 

But, it’s what I have.  I hope along the road I find more people that enjoy listening to random stories about my kids, pregnancies, and marriage.  Because I AM a mother and a wife.  I pray that those more in the know than I can offer advice regarding the current craft pattern I can’t wrap my head around.  Because I AM a crafter (albeit a novice at everything).  I dream of a time when I can be an inspiration to women on the road to a healthier lifestyle.  Because I AM on that road.  I ask that the people I meet be accepting of the fact that I don’t have more to offer.

Because this is my life now.  It is small.  There’s not a lot of variety.  


I am greater than the sum of my parts.  And if you can’t accept that my focus is on the things that are important to me, then maybe you aren’t the kind of person I’m interested in being friends with anyway.

The Painful Secret About Being Mom.

painofmom

This mom-cage I live in is terrifying.  Beautiful, maddening, breathtaking, disastrous, hilarious, chaotic… terrifying.

How can I be so lucky and feel so deprived?  Am I spoiled?  Do I just not understand how good I’ve got it?

When you can’t go into the bookstore with your children, not only because you don’t have the energy, but just KNOWING what a task it will be takes all the fun out of the idea.  When the people in a fast food drive through start to recognize you because your only escape is strapping the kids in their seats and driving until everyone either passes out or claims they’re starving.  When a room is finally clean after an hour of hard work and distractive play for a whole 5 seconds only to be destroyed when you turn around to tackle the next task.

When you look upon your husband’s job… the long hours, the coworkers, the inclimate weather, the problem solving, the danger… with envy, and you resent him the 30-45 minutes he gets alone in the bathroom to wash off the day before facing a pregnant wife and 3 children who NEED his attention.  Because he was outside.  He got to interact with others.  He feeds us tiny morsels of what life is like in the real world on a daily basis because he’s THERE.  He’s IN IT.

When you feel guilty for making plans out of the house 2 nights in a row.  When a Dr. appointment and parenting class elicit such feelings of bliss that it shakes you to your core.  ‘Please let the Dr. be running behind so I have an extra 10 minutes to stare out this window with nothing but my thoughts.’

Oh Mother, is this what I sound like now?

When you’ve become so sucked into the lives of these tiny people that need everything from you that you lose yourself.  You are a cup and they take gulp after gulp after gulp out of you, never able to quench their thirst, rarely, and sometimes never, giving you time to refill.  After a time you begin to stop offering yourself as a cup.  An empty vessel is not useful if it does not have something to carry within it.

What can I fill my cup with?  What do I like to do?  What music do I like?  Is there a new book I could read?  When did I stop knowing everything about myself?

Is this really who I’ve become?

I came across this today and it is what sparked these musings:

Which begs the question:

How do you choose?  And, once you have chosen, how do you go about spending more time with these idyllic people without scaring them away?  I would certainly be wary of a woman saying, “Hi, I admire you and want to share qualities x, y, and z of yours.  Here’s my cell, Facebook page, e-mail address, and Twitter handle.  Can we start spending every Wednesday afternoon together?!”

Yes.  I have become like a child.  A toddler, even.  Socially awkward.  Demanding.  Prone to fits and tantrums.  Clueless and lost and just hoping someone will come along that’s willing to entertain me, spend time with me, understand me… for just a minute.  Wait, please, 1 more?  Where are you going..?

Am I the only one?

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