On Being Grown Up

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I’m curious whether anyone else feels that they haven’t truly ‘grown up’ yet. Because I don’t and I’ve been on this Earth for more than forty years. Writing that out in black and white astounds me. I can’t believe I’m really over 40 years old and I often forget I’m that old. I feel like I’m in my early 30’s, which may sound old to some people, but my early 30’s were like many people’s 20’s. I was still going out on the town often, pretty loosy goosy with my money, no responsibilities other than my animals and just going on with my day to day in a carefree manner. So now that I’m in my 40’s, the responsibilities that I have in my life are similar to what many people have in their 30s, yet I still feel like I’m the young one of the group.

Here are the things I’ve accomplished that should make me feel ‘grown up’:
– Graduated College
– Lived on my own
– Paid my own bills
– Worked full time
– Completed and paid for Master’s Degree
– Got Married
– Had 2 Kids
– Stayed home and raised the kids
– Managed a household
– Started and successfully ran my own business

Yet, with all those accomplishments I still feel like I have no idea what is going on and how to be ‘grown up’.  I go through the motions, but often look at others and am amazed how mature they are and how they have their act together so much better than me. They seem to just know what to do and how to do it.

I started a part-time job recently and a woman I work with is three years older than me. Yet, when I look at her, I see someone so much older/mature than me. I feel like a 20-year-old newbie just entering into the workforce and I’m only three years younger than her. I don’t get it. What is it about her that makes her seem so much older and what is it about me that makes me feel so much younger?

I am curious whether other people feel the same way I do or if it’s just me. I know that I had a pretty sheltered life growing up so I wonder if that contributes to my feeling young all the time or if it’s because I’m just a late bloomer and have yet to catch up to my biological age.

Just something that has been floating around in my head for a while so I figured I would put it down on paper and ask you about it.

Accepting Help

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I’m going back on my medication. I apparently need the low dose to keep me even and not hate being a mother. It’s not that I hate being a mother, but more along the lines of hating everything that comes along with being a mother. The noise, the touching, the messes, the fighting, the yelling, the rough and tumble days of little boys. Without my medication all that turns into a depressing spiral and I can’t swim to the top. I lose my temper. I treat spilled milk as the end of the world. I curse. I turn into that person I can’t stand.

So today I made an extremely difficult decision that I need help from a pill. I spent two years in this place of darkness before starting medication. I then spent three years feeling the light. Because I went so long without feeling bad, I decided I can live without the medication. One week without it and I can feel the darkness creeping in around me. I can’t allow it to overwhelm me again like it did before.

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Right now I just want to be alone. I want to go into my hole and stay there for a long time. I don’t want to be ‘on’. I know this is the depression talking. This is what happens when I don’t have that extra help from my meds. It’s a familiar feeling and it’s not a good one.

My family doesn’t deserve the me without medication. They deserve the wife and mother who can handle the every day messes of life. Someone who can have the chaos of life circling around her without screaming for help. Someone who can go through a day without crying in despair. Someone who can look at the craziness and appreciate it for all it is instead of all it isn’t.

So because of that, I am throwing away the stigma of depression and medication and fully embracing the fact that I need help. It’s not something to be ashamed of. It’s being strong and responsible to take care of myself so I can take care of those I love.

Today I am accepting help.

Where to begin?

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I don’t know where to start. My soul is crushed. I am overwhelmed with all the negativity that is floating around and pushed at me through the constant barrage of information via any and everything media related….including social media. I want to play ostrich and put my head in the sand. I’m absorbing the pain, the hatred, the indignity, the unfairness, the anger, the absurdity and the darkness of all the negative accounts. It’s a tsunami and it threatens to push out the light that lives inside of me. I try to find the positive. Look for the helpers. Be a helper. But there comes a point where I am afraid of what is happening. I am afraid for my children’s future. I am afraid that humanity no longer exists and the world is becoming a crisis management situation. If there is no crisis then there is no situation to bring people together. There is no more connection in neighborhoods. There is no more talking with each other when you can post what is going on in your lives. Why call and connect when you can text? Why have an open argument when you can hide behind anonymous posts and spew darkness? Why use words and intelligence when you can use bullets and fear?

I don’t know where to go. Where to get away from all the craziness. It brings me to tears. It terrifies me. It immobilizes me because I don’t know where to begin. There are so many situations that need help. The children, the refugees, the homeless, the racial divide, the government, the GMOs, the planet, the education system, the abuse of animals, the abuse of women, the abuse of children, the abuse of men, the overall lack of compassion. I could keep going, but just listing them out depresses me and I’m trying to figure out how to bring forth the light and the love. Not focus on the overwhelming cloud of darkness that looms on the horizon.

They say that it’s always darkest before the dawn. Well, it’s pretty damn dark. I hope and pray that the dawn is near and we can come together as human beings and find compassion for each other. I don’t know if it’s true that ‘all we need is love’, but it might not be a bad place to start.

Family

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ist2_5754987-spring-treeI recently had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time with a cousin who I didn’t know very well due to our age difference and geographic location. After getting to know her life story and more about who she is as a person, I completely fell head over heels in love with her and am annoyed that it took me this long to get to know her. I then got to thinking about how much we miss out knowing people we are related to because so many families have split up due to divorces, job relocations and other life happenings.

When I was young, the majority of my family lived within one hour of each other and we got to see one another quite frequently. I had strong family bonds and relationships. I was secure where I belonged and we knew all the family craziness that went along with each other. I was very lucky in that I had two sets of grandparents, a bunch of Aunts and Uncles and a gaggle of cousins. We saw each other at holidays, family dinners, reunions and summers spent at the cottages.

Then my grandparents moved away. One set moved down to Florida and the other set to North Carolina. I think that was the beginning of the end. I didn’t see my cousins as often and there were no longer family dinners or holiday get togethers. My grandparent’s children went through divorces and moves. They distanced themselves from each other either emotionally and/or physically and it affected the relationships that the children had amongst ourselves. I no longer saw the majority of my family every year. I lost touch with my extended family and gradually my family grew smaller and smaller.

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Now it seems that death brings the family together. We see each other at funerals instead of reunions. We view each other’s lives through Facebook instead of family dinners. I have a cousin who I was extremely close with when we were younger. We haven’t seen each other in over 10 years because we have busy lives and live thousands of miles from each other. Neither of us are good at calling or writing so we’ve fallen out of touch. I still consider him the closest person to a sibling that I’ve ever had and still adore him, but I wonder if we would feel like strangers the next time we see each other. So much has happened in our lives that we don’t know about.

I miss my family. I miss the chaos and craziness that having a large extended family brings with it. I think I most miss hearing about their stories and watching them grow as human beings. I am grateful for the glimpses I get through social media, but it’s not the same as sharing a dinner, conversation and laughter.

I think there is a lot to be said for families who stay close to each other and grow with each other. There is a support system automatically built into your life and it can give a sense of security to each other knowing that if anything happens, you have family close by.

For those of us who don’t have that in our lives, I think it’s extremely important to build your own support system. I am extremely lucky that I have a strong group of friends who have become my pseudo family nearby and my children know them as their family. We are not connected by bonds of blood, but by bonds of love and caring. If I gather them all together for dinner, it can be as chaotic and crazy as my old family get togethers. I love them as much as I do my biological family and there are even a few “crazy uncles” in the group. It’s awesome.

I do miss my family and hope to see them again soon, but in the meantime, I have to rely on social media and glimpses to let me know how they are doing. I expect that at the next funeral we will all get together and say that we need to continue so we don’t fall out of touch, but then life will take over and the miles will continue to separate us.

Goodbye September

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I am not sad to see September leave. This has been one of the hardest months of my time as a mother. It should have been one of my happiest times because I’ve been waiting so long for it – both boys in school and I finally had some time to myself. I was free! I didn’t have to tether myself to their schedules, needs, wants, etc for seven hours each day!

We sent Baby Boy to kindergarten on the big yellow bus. He was all smiles and excitement. I was all smiles and excitement. About a week into the school year I started getting reports about his behavior. He was acting out, not listening, not following directions, being disruptive, etc. Reports from his bus driver. Reports from his teacher. My smiles and excitement started to fade.

Two weeks into the school year, he was sent to the principal’s office for his behavior. I was mortified. My sweet, loving child was being sent to the principal’s office…..he was going to be LABELED as THE BAD KID. I noticed that his work was regressing. He was starting to write his letters backwards and starting to scribble again.

Hubs and I had some serious conversations about what to do. I hated the fact that my baby was bringing home yellows and a RED from a teacher I had a wonderful relationship with. She knew how I parented. She knew that yellows, and especially reds, were not acceptable in my house. No matter how much we tried talking to, encouraging and punishing him, things were not getting better. They were getting worse.

We decided, along with his teacher and principal, to pull him out of kindergarten. I couldn’t stop crying the day we made the final decision. I signed the paperwork requesting to pull him out of school. He wasn’t going to attend kindergarten anymore. I was terrified that his little heart was going to break. That he wouldn’t understand we were doing this for him, not against him. Doing this so he would do better, not because he wasn’t doing well now.

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The scramble began. He still needed to attend school. Just not public kindergarten. So we looked at private schools, half day schools, daycare centers. Anything and everything that had a space for a five year old who needed one more year to develop and mature before going into public kindergarten. He was facing the crack and I didn’t want him to fall through. We went to approximately seven different schools to find the right one. I didn’t like most of them. I only loved one. I loved the one that said they would work with him and his individual strengths and weaknesses. They recognized that he was straddling the years and could do one on one focused work with him to bring him up to speed.

Out of seven programs, only one said they would work with his individual needs. All the others just showed me what classroom he would enter and what lessons he would have to adapt to. Even though he already completed some of what they would be teaching him. I feared he would get bored and I’d lose the opportunity for him to love school completely. Only one school saw him as a full child – not just a child who is five and would need to go in the Pre-k class because that is where he fit. Only one where I felt we had the chance to get him to love school.

So that is the school I fought for. The school I wanted him to attend. The school that could give him a chance. The school that costs a helluva lot of money to attend. The school that is stretching our budget farther than it can be stretched. The school that his entire family is helping him attend. The school that we are sacrificing for.

And is it worth it? Damn straight it is! I will go out and find a full time job if he needs to continue in the private school sector. If we put him in public kindergarten next year and find out that he is not thriving, we will do it again. I will pull him and sacrifice so that he succeeds. Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do? I want him to know his strengths and not be labeled because he doesn’t fit into the prescribed box of how to succeed in school today.

He has been attending the new school for a week and loves it. He comes home happy and excited about his day. He tells me all about what they did during the day and who his new friends are. He still talks about his old class and will clarify if he’s talking about someone at his “old school” or “new school”. He loves where he is and he was so accepting when we told him that he needed one more year to catch up to everyone. We told him that it wasn’t fair that Little Man had an extra year before going into kindergarten (due to his birthday) and he didn’t. That made sense to him and he accepted it with a tiny whimper that he would miss his class and his teacher, but then he sensed the excitement of going to a new school that was all his. He wouldn’t be following in his brothers footsteps and he would be the ‘big kid’ in the class.

He’s thriving and I’m excited to see what the next year has in store for him. Now I’m able to breathe again and enjoy the time my children are in school. Trusting that they are both where they should be and enjoying their time at their respective schools. Goodbye September. I’m not sad to see you go.

Soundtrack of My Life

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Music has played an important part of my life for as long as I remember. I can hear a song and be transported back to the exact moment and remember what was going on. No matter if it was one, ten or twenty years ago.

So I decided to put together the Soundtrack of My Life. Each song depicts something significant in my life. It could represent a person, a moment, a feeling or a specific memory.

The songs are in no special order, just songs that have special meaning to me, and this list is far from complete.

The Way I Feel – Remy Shand
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
The Rainbow Connection – The Muppets
Sweet Home Alabama – Lynnard Skynnard
Save Tonight – Eagle Eye Cherry
Crash Into Me – Dave Matthews
Sweet Sadie – R. Kelly
When Will They Shoot – Ice Cube (***WARNING — CURSING***)
Queen of Hearts – Juice Newton
Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leoppard
I Want to Be Your Man – Roger
Paradise by the Dashboard Light – Meatloaf
No Scrubs – TLC
Real Love – Mary J. Blige
Landslide – Fleetwood Mac
It Never Rains in Southern California – Tony, Toni, Tone
Back In Black – AC/DC
In My Life – The Beatles
I Love Rock ‘n Roll – Joan Jett
Make Me Whole – Amel Larrieux
Hotel California – The Eagles
No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley
Enter Sandman – Metallica
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
Celebration – Kool and the Gang
Butterfly Kisses – Bob Carlisle
Black Water – Doobie Brothers
Another Lonely Christmas – Prince (Song Excerpt)

One of Those Days

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Photo credit to Judy Reinford Photography

Photo credit to Judy Reinford Photography

There are days when I need to remind myself that it’s the little things that make life wonderful. Not how much money you have. Not what kind of car you drive. Not what job title you have. But the mundane everyday happenings that bring a smile or a tear or a laugh. Those are the things that are most important and make every day unique and wonderful.

  • Watching the sun rise and set
  • Looking in the rearview mirror and watching a stranger jamming to whatever song is blaring in their car
  • Seeing a squirrel, determined to get to the seeds inside the bird feeder, obtain his goal
  • Being greeted at the door with not one, but two, wagging tails
  • Hearing my children belly laugh
  • Watching my husband let all pretenses fall when he’s home with his family
  • Getting the giggles at the most inappropriate times
  • Hearing “that” song and being transported exactly to “that” moment however many years ago
  • A smile from a friend
  • An unexpected phone call
  • Finishing a book and having to just sit for a moment to let the story continue in your head for a bit
  • Waking up and laying completely still so you can remember that amazing dream
  • Getting a big sleepy snuggle from a bedhead child
  • Smelling homemade chocolate chip cookies
  • Remembering a joke
  • Having the Big Joker, Little Joker, 2 of Diamonds AND the 2 of Spades
  • An unexpected hug
  • Listening to nature
  • A floating dock
  • The blast of air when you’re flying down a hill on your bike
  • Watching the clouds and making up stories about the shapes you see
  • Being overwhelmed with love for no specific reason

Why I gave up Cable for a Clean House

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Sometimes you need to make sacrifices and choices. I teach that to my kids all the time. They have choices about which organized activities they want to participate in. They decide whether they want to have candy or a toy when we go to the store and they have behaved above and beyond what I asked of them…believe me, it doesn’t happen very often. They face choices every day and sometimes the choice is a difficult one. Maybe they really want a Skylander necklace AND a bag of jelly beans. But they aren’t able to have both. That is an extremely difficult decision for a four and six year old. The agony that crosses their faces as they stand there looking at both coveted items is like watching a Greek tragedy.

MasksComedyTragedyI recently had my own Greek tragedy moment when I had to decide between keeping cable TV or hiring back my house cleaner. See, I love having a clean house and I’m not very good at it I suck at housekeeping. I also love watching shows that I DVR and play back whenever I want. To me, this choice was the equivalent of a Skylander necklace or Jelly Beans. Not very important in the grand scheme of life, but SO incredibly important to me at this moment.

Rewind to last Saturday when I was in the midst of a mini, ok major, breakdown because the house was in such shambles I couldn’t figure out where to begin in the cleaning process. I stood there in the middle of toys strewn around, dust bunnies running from one corner to the other and bathrooms that should have hazard tape covering the doors (did I mention that three males live here and have poor aim?) with tears streaming down my face. I walk into the family room where my husband was on the computer and the boys were playing a video game oblivious to the meltdown that was about to occur. The words just spewed from my mouth without any thought or consciousness. After the rant slowed down to hiccupping sobs, my husband slowly and cautiously approached and put his arms around me. He said “Do you think you should give Anna a call? Would that help and make things better?” With my head buried in his chest, I nodded my agreement and felt the entire weight of the house lift from my shoulders.

imagesAnna is a woman who I hired to help out with the housekeeping after I had my second son. I was completely overwhelmed with two kids under two years of age and needed as much help in every area of my life as possible. I considered Anna an angel sent from heaven. She and her staff of three other angels came to the house every other week and cleaned the bathrooms, kitchen and floors. She and her staff brought joy to my house every other week for three years. Due to some financial changes, we had to end the relationship a year ago….and yes, it was a relationship. I mourned her after I ended things.

Our household financial situation hasn’t changed. We still can’t really afford her services, but apparently my husband cares about my well-being and state of mind more than the budget. He said “We’ll make it work.” I knew that unless we gave something up, we wouldn’t be able to make it work. So I said to him, “Let’s get rid of cable.” Now, he knows how much I love my cable and how it is incredibly important to me. He said “Are you sure?” And of course I answered, “No, it will feel like giving up my right arm, but having a clean house is more important than watching Real Housewives of New Jersey.”

This past week, Anna and her angels came to the house again after a year of my shoddy housework. I apologized profusely for the state of the house, but knew the fabulous four were up to the task. When my husband came home from work, he entered the door, took a deep breath and said “Ahhhhh, Anna was here.” That evening we both smiled and laughed. A clean house brings a relaxed family. And I am very happy with my Greek tragedy decision.

Continuing the Journey

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For the past five years I have been a stay at home mom to two incredible and crazy boys. Now that the younger one is at the age where he will start school full time next year, I decided it was a good time to return to the workforce. Initially I was searching for a flexible part time job that would allow me to work around the kids’ schedules and be able to participate in school activities such as field trips and classroom volunteer days. I wanted something that was easy enough for me to get the work done and not have to bring it home with me where it would interfere on our family time. What I quickly found is that every other stay at home mom who wants to go back to work is looking for the exact same job. We want to work and contribute to the home financially, but also continue being a large part of our children’s lives.

I searched for an entire year and couldn’t find a job that fit the criteria I set. So I decided that if I couldn’t find the perfect job, I would create the perfect job. I chose to go back to what I was doing before I had kids and start my wedding and event planning business again. It is definitely NOT part time and it is definitely NOT something I can stop thinking about when I walk through the front door. In fact, it’s like having another child because I think about it all the time, worry whether I’m making the right decisions and second guess everything I do. Even though it isn’t part time and I think about it constantly, I can make my own hours (for the most part) and continue to be involved in the kids’ lives to the extent I want to be. And most importantly I love what I’m doing.

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Ten years ago, when my business partner and I first created our business, there were two of us to bounce ideas off each other. There were two of us to split the responsibilities. There were two of us to utilize our strengths and help each other with their weaknesses. This time it’s just me. I am assuming the full responsibility of all the decisions and the success or failure of the business. I am rediscovering my strengths as a business woman and remembering what it is like to fully immerse myself in activities that challenge me and teach me new things.

The change in technology that has occurred in the past five years is incredible. Now to be successful, you must utilize social media such as Facebook, Instagram, write a blog and Tweet about everything you do – in addition to maintaining a website and storefronts on the major wedding and event pages. Now I understand why companies post job descriptions for a social media position. It really is another full time job just keeping the company in the forefront of social media. No longer can you survive with just a website. Right now I have a website and Facebook page. The business blog, Twitter and Instagram accounts will have to wait on the back burner until I have a bit more free time. I sometimes feel like a fish out of water, but I look at every new challenge as a learning experience and take it one step at a time. There are only so many things one person can focus on at once.

This journey is giving me the opportunity to reconnect with a piece of me that has been missing for the past five years. I devoted the majority of those years to two precious little boys and I am so grateful that our family situation allowed me to stay home with them. But in doing so, I sacrificed a bit of myself. I began to forget that there was more to my identity than just a wife and a mother. Starting my business again and focusing on something other than my home life has given me the freedom to let my mothering persona slip to the background and bring forth the creative, analytical, and business skills which have been waiting in the wings for the past few years.

I feel like I’m going through yet another phase in my life. As with all new things, it feels scary, uncomfortable and difficult, but I know that if I keep persisting and pushing on, the outcome should outweigh the discomfort I’m currently feeling.

The Sweet Spot

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WP_20150102_003Over the holidays we spent the New Year with our friends who have kids ages 10 and 12. Their mom coined it the sweet spot of motherhood because they are still young enough to want to be with their parents and look up to them, but old enough to be self-sufficient for the most part. As the days went on, I came to the conclusion that she was absolutely correct.

I woke up one morning and came into the kitchen to find her kids sitting in the family room quietly reading on opposite ends of the couch. The feeling of envy that coursed through my body was overwhelming. The kids weren’t up in their parents’ room jumping on their bed at the ungodly hour of 6am on a weekend doing everything in their power to get them up and moving. They weren’t up in their own rooms yelling and romping to the point where the parents couldn’t continue sleeping no matter how many pillows they put over their ears. No, they were sitting quietly reading their books. No TV. No loud music. Quietly reading. I was flabbergasted.

I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I saw the possibility that one day I may actually be able to sleep again in my near future. I saw that I wouldn’t be wiping my kids’ butts for the rest of my life. I saw that kids can actually control themselves and not stomp, scream and fight Every. Minute. Of. Every. Day. It gave me a renewed faith that this parenting thing may pay out in the end and be worth all the insanity that occurs in years 1-6. That my crazy kids may one day surprise me as I walk down the stairs to find them reading on separate ends of the couch.

I know I’m in the minority when I say that I am looking forward to my kids growing up. Most moms love seeing their babies toddling around and looking cute saying “Don’t let this end. They grow up too fast!” Not me. I keep looking to the future hoping it gets better.

WP_20141231_002I loved the baby stage. Loved sitting with them as they nursed, slept and played on their activity pad. (Didn’t really love the crying and not sleeping.) Then they started moving around, crawling and walking – trying to kill themselves with each step and the task of keeping them alive became my number one priority. Now that they are old enough to know certain things will harm them, they are a bit more likely to do things that are just plain stupid. There is no thought process; just action. They don’t question why it’s not a good idea to jump off the bed head first into the carpet. In their undeveloped minds, it seems like a good idea so they just do it. My number one priority is still to keep them alive with the explanation of how stupid that idea was (of course without using the word stupid to save their self-esteem) as a close second.

I have four more years until I hit the sweet spot. I have four more years until my boys grow into that place where they love me, want to be with me and can make their own meals and wash their own clothes. I have four more years until I can tell another mom with young kids, ‘Yes, this is the sweet spot of parenting and you will be here soon.’

Of course, after you sit in the sweet spot for a few years, this parenting thing takes on a whole new level of craziness once the kids become teenagers. I can’t wait!!