humor, motherhood, parenting, self care?

Post Traumatic Tiki Bar Disorder

IMG_4971As Mad Dog and I gathered around the corner table with his colleagues from the weekend awards’ summit, someone asked me if I had recovered from the Tiki Bar from the day before.  My hands immediately went to my ears at the sound of the words ‘tiki’ and ‘bar’ as my body shuddered at the memory.  Not because of my day spent at the Tiki Bar, more likely, because of the after-effects of my day at the Tiki Bar.

It had all started out innocently enough.  Mad Dog and I had a rare opportunity to go to the hotel’s gym for a workout together.  We were making the most of our kid-free getaway while also celebrating the enumerable accomplishments of Mad Dog’s incredible work team.  You can’t not have fun celebrating other people, this awards’ summit is seriously one of my favorite events of the whole year.  Post-workout we continued our charade of having zero responsibility.  We parked ourselves at table by the Tiki Bar for an oceanside lunch accompanied by some ridiculously awesome cocktails.  Our intent was to enjoy a drink or two, then head back to our room to get dressed up for dinner date.  It quickly went off the rails (in the best possible way) from there. We found some friends hanging out at the bar, pulled up some barstools and proceeded to not leave for another 10 hours.  I tried to blame Mad Dog later for not supervising me better, but he promised he had done his part.  The problem was all his friends and colleagues were courteously buying me cocktails without his knowledge.  I honestly don’t know how many drinks I had.  This all eventually led to an epic day/night of fun and laughter but, you know where this is going, the aftermath of which I payed for dearly.

I was extremely disappointed I had to miss a good portion of the events the following day.  I truly wanted to support Mad Dog and his team for all the hard work leading up to this summit.  However, I simply could not.  Mad Dog had to tuck me in and with lots and lots of Gatorade, I made a slow and steady recovery.

I was so worried about how people would react to my absence but across the board, everyone was so supportive and understanding.  I had no reason to feel guilty or ashamed.  They all said that a mom should be allowed to have a carefree night of fun.

I’m in no way suggesting that you need to go on a massive bender to reclaim your individuality, but it’s okay to let your hair down on occasion whatever that looks like for you.

Never forget the wild-child that lived in your heart as you grew into womanhood and beyond.

She deserves a day at the Tiki Bar.

bad day, children, motherhood, parenting

Mommed

I was having a moment.  I had been cruising through the week and then, I wasn’t.  Mad Dog has been gone for over a week and won’t get back for a few more days.

I have no reason to complain.  My boys are older and they are about a thousand percent easier to manage compared to when they were small.  We also do lots of fun stuff together like special dinners out and movie marathons.  It isn’t perfect but it works.

However, we all miss Mad Dog and after a while, this feeling of missing him creeps over us and then it’s harder to be our best selves.

Yesterday, as I tried to order Full Speed’s track uniform (yay! He made the track team!  So what if all he had to do was show up, basically, he made the team at ‘hello’, still….he made the commitment to be on a team…woo-hoo!), I lost it.  Why? Part of it was that it was about my one-hundredth action item of the day, and the other part was that Full Speed is one of the hardest kids in the world to find clothes that fit properly.  I can’t explain it but he always seems to fall in between regular sizing.  I had stared at the computer screen completely flummoxed as to what size to purchase when I finally pulled the trigger.  As I printed out the receipt I realized after all that agonizing, I had ordered the wrong size!  Yes, in the grand scheme of life it is no big deal, but it felt really big right then and I started to cry.

Full Speed came over to me, put his arm around my shoulders and said:

“It’s okay, Mom.  Everyone makes mistakes.  I just appreciate you buying the uniform for me.  I know you miss, Dad, too.  Because you miss him that’s probably really why you are upset. I understand.”

I had to admit, the kid made some good points.

Then, it dawned on me…I got ‘mommed’.

He basically said every exact thing I would say to him if the tables were turned.

I’m grateful he had the empathy to comfort me.  Nice that some of what I say to him sticks.

Today was better.

Here I will share a photographic art installation which symbolizes how well I am managing.

Thankfully, Little Guy waived all modeling fees.

children, family, humor, kids, motherhood, parenting

Truth!

In addition to cleaning out my closets, I have been cleaning up my blog.  I have a newly updated About page which you can read here:

ABOUT

I went through my first year of posts to edit the boys’ names.  I originally referred to them as Frick and Frack.  These were the nicknames my mom gave them when they were very little.  You could see how this could become confusing to a reader so I went back through and updated their names to Full Speed and T.Puzzle.  There are a lot of posts in that first year that made me laugh out loud and made my heart swell with love.  There are touching posts, posts about the loss of my mother and posts about how Mad Dog is always right (not really!) and as a married couple we never fight (no comment!).  There are some posts I read through where I cringed and broke out in a cold sweat.  It was like I was right back in it.  Reliving those vivid details of some of the epic power struggles I endured with my boys (especially T.Puzzle at the onset of his terrible threes) was not for the faint of heart.  After reading these I fully understand why I never felt compelled to expand my brood.  However, I am deeply grateful for the two that I have.  One of the biggest takeaways in terms of my parenting abilities is NEVER ASK ME HOW TO POTTY TRAIN!  I failed repeatedly and miserably not once but twice.  There was a point in time that I wondered if I should buy stock in Pull-Ups as I was fairly certain my boys would be wearing them FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!  Again, I could not do that again.  Two is my absolute limit.  I heard the Pull-Ups people were really bummed to hear that.

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T.Puzzle is stunned that he actually learned to use the potty.

There were some stand-out posts and there were some where I was clearly phoning it in.  However, there was one in particular that floored me.  It is the one I wrote on the year anniversary of Writes for All Mommies’ inception date.  Here is my favorite passage from it:

I think the biggest change for me has been coming to terms with motherhood. I think sometimes when we are unhappy with who we are, we blame our choices and our circumstances. I will admit, especially in the newborn years, I struggled with my all-consuming role as a mother. I thought that maybe if I had made some different choices, like continuing to work or if I was somehow parenting better, I would feel happier. Turns out, it wasn’t my boys or motherhood, it was me. It doesn’t matter what I accomplish outside of motherhood that determines my value, it is ultimately up to me to determine that. Whether I become a world-famous author or if all I manage is to raise two, well-adjusted boys, my value remains constant. I get that now.

Truth is timeless.  That is for sure.

You can read the post in its entirety here:

HAPPY BLOG-A-VERSARY TO ME!

From this I would like to take it one step further.  What if I actually don’t have to do a thing to prove my value?  What if our value is actually tied to who we are and not what we do?  Is it possible my value was already locked down before I even decided to have kids or pour my heart out on my laptop keyboard?

I now know this is not only possible, it is absolute truth.

It’s true for all of us.

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Sending love to you all.

children, family, humor, motherhood, parenting

1, 2, 3 Strikes You’re Out

I want to give you fair warning.  This post is going to be pretty emotional.  You are going to get a sense of how deeply connected T.Puzzle is to me, his overarching love of school and lastly, Full Speed’s brotherly commitment to look out for T.Puzzle.  It’s all there…enjoy.

In recent months we have been noticing a theme in T.Puzzle’s life.  And that theme is…video games.  He is rather obsessed and talks about gaming constantly.  Even when we have a round of ‘family questions’ at the dinner table, rather miraculously he can loop it back to video games.

Here are some examples:

If you could be anyone in the world for a day, who would you be?

“Someone allowed to play video games all day and night long.”

If you saw your friend steal something, would you turn them in?

“That depends on what it is.  If it’s a cool video game, probably not.  I’d want to play it with him.”

You get the idea.

A couple years back, T.Puzzle was given the task at school to make me a Mother’s Day card.  Here’s the final result, and get those tissues ready… the tears are going to fall…

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I told you it was emotional.  I’ll give you a minute while you collect yourself.

Better?  Good.

Since it’s clear that T.Puzzle loves video games above all else, what’s a mom to do with this sort of intel?  About two weeks ago I put T.Puzzle on an incentive program.  His manners and attitude still often leave much to be desired.  If he happens to forget his manners, roll his eyes at me or give me lip when asked to do a chore, he gets a strike.  If he gets three strikes in a seven day period, he loses gaming privileges for the weekend (the only time he is allowed to play them during the school year).  Naturally, it’s working pretty well.  Except for this past week, he was feeling particularly ornery with his brother and had already used two strikes.  We were on the edge of our seats…would he make it the final stretch without a strike?  He did ok on the last night, but he still had to make it through the morning (the seven day strike period runs Friday after school through Friday morning the following week).   As he trounced into the kitchen this morning I asked, “Do you think you can make it until you go to school without getting another strike?”

“Sure!  But I better leave now!  Gotta go.  Can’t wait to get there!”  This all coming from a kid who is currently appalled that he has perfect attendance.

Of course, this made me laugh.  He is self-aware enough to know that his inabilty to control impulses could land him in third strike territory.

We managed to get through breakfast and the rest of our morning without incident.

T.Puzzle was first out of the garage with his bike as usual.  I turned to Full Speed and said, “Can you believe he actually made it without a third strike?”

“Mom!  He didn’t say goodbye to you!  That’s an automatic strike!”

“Nice try, kid.”

“I’m serious, Mom!  He rode his bike DANGEROUSLY FAST down the driveway.  He’s gotta get a strike for that.”

“Full Speed, it just warms my heart how much you look out for your brother.”

Wonder if he loves him as much as video games?

humor, motherhood, parenting

Your People

Family vacations are stressful.  Why is that?  Maybe because you plan weeks or months in advance and there are expectations that everyone will be cheerful and have fun doing extraordinary and often expensive activities.  So, the pressure is ON.  Have fun OR ELSE!  You throw in an aversion for crowds and noise, put me on a cruise ship full of screaming kids and there isn’t anyone or anything that can save me or whoever ends up in my path.

We were standing by the balcony overlooking the main floor of the ship when T.Puzzle accidentally stepped on my foot.

I snapped.

My temper shorted out and I yelled at him to ‘Quit it!’ or ‘Cut it out!’ or ‘For the love of all that is good and decent in the world, STOP STEPPING ON MY FEET!’

To an outside observer it would seem that it was an innocent mistake by a distracted nine year old boy.  They wouldn’t know the back story of how this said boy steps on my feet religiously.  If he could bottle his accuracy of squashing my toes, this kid would give a trained sniper a run for his money.

The squashed toes were the icing.  The pressure of FUN was getting to me.  I looked at Mad Dog in despair.

He said, “I know with our family we are going to have highs and lows.  While the highs are tremendous, there are days when you are so frustrated that you want to give our children up for adoption (I’m politely paraphrasing this last part).  You have to accept the good with the bad.”

This made me pause.  He was right, of course, but why am I always so ready to fly off the handle with the people I love the most in the world?  I wouldn’t snap at a friend if she stepped on my toes.  I would laugh it off and be on my merry way.

The difference is the amount of shared history.  When you live life with people day in and day out, your truth seeps out whether you like it or not.  You let the ugly flow because on some level you know that these are YOUR PEOPLE.  They love you unconditionally.

If you can be your truest self around someone, and that includes all the stuff you hide from 99.9% of the rest of the population, then you know you feel safe with them.

Every one of us is complicated.  Most of us strive to be our best.

If we are really lucky, we can be our worst, too…

3 times over.

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