Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The truth about Mom guilt


Every mom knows it all too well; that feeling in your gut like you just swallowed a heavy rock and there is no way in hell it's getting digested.

Mom guilt.

It consumes us. Defines us. Defeats us.
As moms, we can't get away from it; try as we might.

I've always suffered from guilt, though in a much different way. In the last few years, it has transformed from, "I wish I didn't get so stressed" to, "I don't see my kids enough; what if I ruined them forever with divorce? I hate what I've become."

From the second I pick my kids up from their dad's on Sunday night, they say "I want daddy."
Literally, seconds after I just picked them up. After not having seen them for several days. And then every single day after that, we count down the days until they see daddy. Don't get me wrong; I'm so happy that they miss him and love him - but it can be a bit disheartening when that's all you hear. They see their dad every weekend, but I know it's still not enough. I know they want to see him every day, just like I want to see them every day.

Add to that the fact that we don't get to spend any "fun time" with them. We get school days, which means we wake them up at 6:10 only to rush them out the door by 7:15, badgering them the entire time to "hurry up!" My husband picks all of the older kids up by 5 o'clock, giving them a little time to play before dinner (if they don't have homework) and then it's all business; dinner, baths/showers, reading and bed. Charlee still takes an evening nap, so by the time I get home with her at 5:40, she's ready to lay down, just in time for me to make dinner for the older kids and start their routines.

Fridays are even worse. Steven picks all of them up, meets me half way, and we go our separate ways to drop them off with their other parents. I have a day and a half to get caught up on laundry and half-ass clean the house only to start again on Sunday evening.

Our situation is just one of many. Everyone has their own stories feeding the guilt.

Maybe you're a stay at home mom and just feel like you can't get it all done. You take them to do fun things, but yell the whole time. Or you feel like the activity wasn't educational enough. Or you didn't pack a good enough lunch.
Maybe you're a working mom who is tired by the end of the day and doesn't have the energy to be "fun" mom. You forgot to put a note in their lunch or make their lunch at all.
Maybe you're doing both, from home, and you feel like all you do is yell and work.
Maybe you just want to get a run in but you don't want to take 30 selfish minutes away from seeing your kids because you don't spend enough time with them.
Maybe your kid throws a giant fit in public and you wonder what the hell you did wrong as a parent.

The truth is, we all have it. The guilt. There's always something we feel we are screwing up. That we could be doing better.

But the fact is, when it gets down to it, all our kids need is us. They just need us.

They don't need fancy trips to Disney, or (despite what they think) the newest toys, or our all-consuming time.

They need us, in all our imperfect glory. We've gotta embrace the imperfect, ladies. We can't do it all. We just can't. So please stop trying. Stop trying to be the perfect mom. She doesn't exist. And if she does, your kid doesn't give a shit about her. Your kid wants you. Your kid wants to tell you about the sticker they got at school today. They want to tell you about their latest project. They want to sit on YOUR lap to read a book for the millionth time.

Let's all band together and let go of some of the guilt. I know it won't all go away. It can't. But we need to let go of some of it, because it will eat us alive. We're all doing our damnedest. And even if you think that's not good enough, I'm here to tell you that it is. We only have so much to give. We only have so much of our bodies to be grabbed on to; we only have two hands to hold and we only have two feet to carry us through the day (some of us, not even that).

So work with what you've got. Hug those kiddos. Read them a book or sing them a song and tell yourself that you are doing everything you can to keep them happy. And that is all they need.

Give yourself a freaking break, because you are enough.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

6 things I learned after I quit drinking


Drinking is coveted and celebrated in today's culture. Which is why I think it's so damn hard to quit. Alcohol is EVERYWHERE. 

And people love it. The "I can't live without it, my life would never be the same," type of love.

I know this, because I was one of those people. I still am, to a certain extent. Most days I still have moments where I have to convince myself that my life would most certainly not be more fun, cool, interesting or less stressful if I had a drink in my hand. 

The 12 steps are not something I read daily or preach to others, but there are a lot of valuable things to learn from them. Similar to the fact that I'm not religious, but I do believe that the bible has a lot of amazing principles we can all abide by. 

The first step was crucial in my process of becoming sober. You know, the one everyone always jokes about? 
"The first step is admitting you have a problem."

Really, the first step reads:

"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable."

Notice the difference?  This is the hardest to accept when you're holding on so dearly to your nightly glass(es) of wine. Alcohol has POWER over me. And it does. It's an abusive relationship; a partner whose goal is to make you feel really good, and then subsequently ruin your life. 

So once I accepted this - once I figured out that I had to get out of this "relationship" before my dickhead partner took my life away - I could move on. It was time to figure out what life was like without a drink in my hand. 

Here are the 6 things I've learned since I quit drinking:

1. Awkwardness
Oh, the awkwardness. What is the deal?? Guys, I quit drinking, I didn't murder someone. It's not that big of a deal. I get that people see it as a sickness, but I see it as the opposite. I am no longer sick, I am no longer at risk of ruining my life. I also see a therapist. I'm also on depression medication. It's okay. This is all in an effort to keep me sane and happy. So don't worry about it. It's not that bad. I still like to think I'm pretty damn fun, sarcastic, and worthy without wine in my system. I'm much less of an asshole, this much I am sure of. So let's just move past it. Nothing to see here. 


2. It's EVERYWHERE
You can't escape it. Pinterest was a freaking nightmare for me at first. I used to follow tons of cocktail boards and people who pin cocktail recipes and everything cocktails. I have since tried to weed out those boards and hidden enough ads that my feed is finally starting to look like a sober one, but it took a while. Let me say this again: you can't escape it. Liquor stores are still there, billboards, internet ads, bars, restaurants; there's no way to get away from it. So I have learned to adapt and roll with it. Try to ignore it. Take a different route. Look away quickly. Scroll down like you saw a disgusting picture. Just keep swimming!

3. Better Sleep
Never have I slept better in my life. Ever. I used to wake up probably 10-20 times a night. That's not a joke. I read plenty of articles that told me you don't sleep better if you're drinking and subsequently asked myself blindly, "WHY AM I NOT SLEEPING?!" Duh. I used to take tylenol PM like it was going out of style. Now, I take my melatonin and sleep like a damn baby. It's amazing.

4. The "More Time" theory
I'm torn on this one because the idea that I have more time is somewhat unconscionable. With the number of kids we have, I consider it a good day if we end up with the correct 4 in our house by bedtime. "Whoops, the Smith kid got home with us instead of Will! Better call 'em to swap."  I will admit that I now actually find time to do the things that needed done. I have also been more productive on weekends, even allowing myself time to "do nothing."
Yes, I plan time to do nothing, otherwise I'll never get nothing done.

5. You'll lose people?
I've read so many articles warning that you will lose many, many friends on the road to sobriety. My experience is that people have actually came out of the woodwork. Not only are people supportive, they're downright friendly. When it comes to friends, I live by the principle of "quality over quantity." It's my way of saying that I'm okay with having like 6 friends because my friends aren't dicks. They're awesome. I subject my friends tirelessly to my sarcasm and bluntness. They are hardened. Being my friend is not always easy. If they have survived this long, I know I have found good ones. So there was no weeding out necessary. That was done long ago.
Not one time has any of the people I know tried to argue with me after I turned down a drink. Hell, even people I don't know haven't argued with me. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I like to think it's my innate desire to hang around people who don't suck.
As for my family, they are always supportive. I could probably murder someone and they'd be like "well, she probably had a good reason." Kidding. Kind of.

6. I can't have fun without it!
Alcohol has this funny way of making you think you need it to make life tolerable. While I agree that some situations would be much, much more tolerable [*ahem* Christmas] while intoxicated, it isn't the most effective way to go about life. The key for me was to accept that I had to do some hard things. That's it. Life is hard sometimes. And you just have to push through. It sounds simple, but it's not. Feeling things that hurt is not enjoyable. Being sad is not enjoyable. But with all of those things, you also get to actually feel the GOOD things. And that makes up for it! Alcohol dulls your senses, including the good ones. So yeah, you get to forget about the bad, but you also forget about the good. You don't get to feel the magic in the super-sqeezy hug from your 3 year old. You don't fully appreciate your daughter telling you 'I love you' out of the blue. You don't get to revel in a Netflix marathon of Scandal with your husband because you fall asleep halfway through [full disclosure..this happens sober sometimes].

I was honestly under the impression that I could. not. live without alcohol in my life. Look at me now, guys. I'm here. Living. Officially proving myself wrong.

So I hope this opened things up a bit. I know it's weird to talk about, but it's part of my life now. A big part. I finally feel in control, which is something I couldn't say three months ago. More to come regarding life, my crazy beautiful kiddos, and everything else.

Peace out, homies. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Harry Potter Inspired Nursery

Hey Guys!

Well, here we are...6 months after my daughter was born, and I'm finally getting around to posting nursery photos.

I'm just celebrating that it's getting done at all. Yay for mediocrity.

*ahem*

So anyway, despite me being late to literally everything, blog posts included, I must say that my nursery-decorating badassery only gets better.

Miss Charlotte has some serious digs. One day she'll look back and think to herself, "man, my mom is awesome. And also very humble." That last part is questionable.


The one thing I'm most proud of is the "Charlotte" sign on her blue wall.


I made this BY HAND. I stenciled it out and cut it out with a billion different wood cutting tools that I didn't really know how to use, all while I was 30 weeks pregnant.

Don't worry, my husband was supervising. By that, I mean he was making sure I didn't injure myself and also laughing at me a little bit while I sweat and swore and spent an entire day on something I just as easily could have not done. I plan on doing a separate blog on how I accomplished that; a blog I will need to write when my husband is around to tell me the names of the machines I used.



I also threw together this "flying keys" mobile, based on one of the tasks to get past in Sorcerer's stone. I had seen one on Etsy, but it was WAY more than I could afford, so I just made one for myself.  Coincidentally, I sell them on my Etsy shop.

Stars were bought on Etsy from Wordybirdstudios
Because I love all things DIY, I tried to craft as many projects as I could. I bought this pre-made wood sign from Walmart for less than $10, then painted and added a Harry Potter quote to it. I loved how it turned out!

Gold shelf - Target
 My friends at work threw me an adorable Harry Potter shower, which came with adorable figurines!! I was so excited to display them.
All of the big stuff in her room was second-hand except for the rocking chair. I decided to splurge on myself for that, and it was a god send! It is super comfortable and was fantastic for late night feedings when my husband and I didn't want to wake each other up when it was our turn to feed.
I bought this cute cardboard letter from Hobby Lobby when it was half off and spray painted it to look purdy.

Our sweet girl continues to have an amazing demeanor. She's happy and very watchful; she's constantly checking out what's happening around her (which is usually a lot) and LOVES when her older siblings play with her.

We have an unused rock 'n play in the closet that we fully intended on using, but she surprised us by sleeping in her crib or bassinet from day 1. She slept through the night starting at 3 weeks old. All I can say is, the universe had my back because it knew I couldn't take much more. My Charlotte is everything a baby should be!

Well, that's it for the tour, thanks for stopping by to see it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

teetotaler


It was a day from hell. The kind of day where everything goes absolutely as it shouldn't; pissed off customers, screaming kids in the car on the commute home, and an evening of making dinner, baths and bedtimes to look forward to. Another kid screams from the backseat, "STOPTOUCHINGME; MOMHESTOUCHINGME; STOPLOOKINGATME!!!!!!! *crying, flailing, shouting, general dissatisfaction* Jesus, I can't wait until I can have a glass of wine.

Copy this scenario every day of the week and you'll have a pretty good glimpse of the last 5 months of my life. That is, until I broke. It wasn't one particular event that broke me, but a culmination of things that sent me flying over the edge into a pool of despair. The wine became my quicksand, and the harder I tried to cling to the edges, the quicker I fell. 

Alcohol has always played a big role in my life. Every event, gathering, good mood, bad mood, celebration, holiday; all of it centered around what amount of drinking was involved. Over the years there have been multiple instances of Do I drink too much? Do I have a problem? Chances are if you have to ask, alcohol has too big a grasp on you. Once I realized I couldn't remove myself from that grasp alone, I knew it was time to ask for help. I checked myself into a rehabilitation facility in a last-ditch effort before I ruined my life completely. 

Never did I think anything would supersede the terror of asking for a divorce; as it happens, rehab is that thing. 

Someday when I'm ready to relive those 13 days, I might write a blog about it. For now, I'll just say that it was a necessary evil to allow me to actually change. Gone were the days of convincing myself that I'd only drink for special occasions or weekends or when there was a full moon, only to throw in the towel a week later; I was finally ready to admit that I just. couldn't. handle. alcohol.

And you know what the hardest part was? The hardest part was the mourning. The loss. Because I lost a friend. A best friend. Alcohol got me through the bad times and the good. It was with me to celebrate and cry and party and make friends I wouldn't have otherwise.

It's been two months and three days since I decided to go to rehab. Two months since I decided I was not willing to give up my family or my marriage or my life for a cheap box of wine. Two months since I decided that I had to own up to my mistakes, face the truth and realize that I was a better person without alcohol. But most importantly, two months ago, I decided it was time to finally feel the shit I was going through, not drown it in pinot grigio. 
Not just feel it, but deal with it. 

I thought I would be instantly happy; finally sleeping better and having more energy and ENJOYING LIFE! No. It's been a struggle. My husband, god love him, has tolerated a lot of shit. I've had more mental breakdowns in the past year than most people do in two lifetimes. My heart has literally had to be restarted (long story). My life has been one shitshow after the other, but somehow I am still standing. By some unexplained miracle, I am still alive.

The other day I read a metaphor about a train in a tunnel in relation to a child's meltdown. "Difficult feelings are tunnels, and we are trains traveling through them."source  Coincidentally I find more value in that for myself than for my children. This was the perfect analogy for me to understand just how important it is to ride out the difficult feelings NOW, rather than ignore them and deal with a volcanic eruption later. 

Many people won't believe it when I say that I don't miss alcohol, but I don't. I miss my friend. I miss the security blanket. I miss the feeling I got after that first sip. And you know what? That's alright. It's okay to miss the good parts. But I will never, ever miss the asshole that alcohol turned me into, or the feeling I had when I woke up with a headache, or the lying or anger. I'll never miss it because it wasn't me. It wasn't who I really am. 

I've laughed in the last month. Actually laughed. Not a fake laugh or stupid laugh or laughing at something that really wasn't funny but I thought it was because I was one glass in and life was good. I've been waking up at 5am to run on the treadmill. FIVE A.M. It sucks, but it makes me feel awesome. I've taken and edited photos. Crafted. Played with my kids. Decluttered. Practiced having patience. Practiced letting things go.  

I'm alive, guys. I'm alive and I'm not a drinker anymore; I'm a badass. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

home.

It's a funny word, home. So many meanings in just four letters.

Home can be a person.
The people who make you your heart feel content. Not necessarily giddy with butterflies [though that's always a bonus], but at peace.
The kind of peace that makes your bad days suck a little bit less and the good ones that much better.


Home can be a place.
A house, a city, the view from the top of a mountain.
Even if it's not technically your home, it will feel like it. Feel like you just...belong.
Because sometimes even your home doesn't feel like home.


Home can be a state of mind.
Like when you get done with a giant project and you're left with a sense of accomplishment.
Or when you stop in the middle of a really good day only to realize you're incandescently happy.


Home is what you make it.

I've straddled the line between miserable and happy and sad for the past year and finally things are starting to settle down. Life is starting to make sense and I'm starting to realize that it has been too much about stuff and not enough about what truly makes me happy.
I've been in the mindset that if I have this or that or something or other that I'll finally be happy. But it's bullshit.

All I need in my life is home.
I need my people and my mind and a place to sit down and read a good book.

Friday, January 13, 2017

the divorce diet

2016
It was a dark year.

When I should have been enjoying my newborn and 2 year old, I was suffering from depression, anxiety and all-around misery.

I got a divorce. 
At 28.

Some know. Some don't.
At this point, to me, it's old news. I feel like I've aged 10 years in the last 5 months, while others still seemed shocked by the news daily. That's where the theory of relativity comes into play, I guess.

I get it, though. Divorce is not exactly a happy word in the English language.

With it comes a series of standard questions:
"Why?"
"Is there someone else?"
"What about the kids?"

And then there are the statements.
"I never saw it coming!"
"But you seemed so happy!"
"Those poor kids..."

As if divorce should be added to the list of Child Abuse risk factors.

So I'm here to clear a few things up. Mainly because I know I can't continue with this blog until I do, but mostly because I miss writing. Terribly. And I can't just skip this part in my life, move on and pretend like nothing happened. It's kind of a game changer.

Here goes...
Four years ago I was stuck. Terrified because I couldn't have a kid and I thought that made me both worthless and a failure. Really, it just made me like a million other American women who struggled with making babies, but that's a story for a different day. You guys know all about that; you struggled right along with me.
Terror, frustration and infinite guilt; all things that burrowed deep into my soul and still linger to this day.

I thought a baby would make things better. Make me a better wife. Make my husband actually talk. Make my life worthy.

Instead, I was pumped [literally] full of hormones. Poked with needles, sucking blood from my veins like a vampire on steroids. Stifled by a cloak of disappointment.

I'm not a psychologist, but I think this is where it all started.
Me trying to fix my life with a baby is what landed me a divorce some four years later.

Don't mistake my words, I beg you. My children are my world. Without them, I would have very little left to live for.

But I do think this was the nail in the coffin.
The stress; the depression; the sheer desperation...it drove us to the edge and back again.



So here I sit, In a 900 square foot apartment with a cat and two kids.
Wondering what the fuck happened to my life.
You know what happened? Life happened. I changed and so did he.
I was 18 when I met him. 21 when we got married. Both of us babies.
10 years and a shitload of life experience later, we turned out to be much different people.
And we just didn't fit anymore.


Now on to the questions..

What happened? 
I putzed around for 4 years, hoping that things would change. I saw therapists; I read books; I tried making friends for us to hang out with. None of it worked. None of it fit. And I grew tired. I grew tired of being lonely. I grew as a person. As a mother. As a wife.
I grew into someone who would no longer settle for unhappy.

Is there someone else?
Yeah, there is.
It's me.
For once, I'm being selfish. I'm thinking of me. Not my kids. Not my husband. Not my family.
Me.
I'm thinking of the things that make me smile, that make me laugh until I pee [an easy feat after kids, I'll tell ya]. The things that make me feel whole again. If that makes me an asshole, then so be it.

What about the kids?
I love how people ask this as if we did all of this without a SINGLE inclination of how our kids would be affected.
Seriously, guys. You know us better than that.
My kids are my world. And as much as they might drive me nuts sometimes, they are the ONLY thing that have been my constant throughout this disaster of a situation.
So quit asking that shit. My kids are going to be happier this way.


And now on to the statements.

"I never saw it coming!" 
Guess what, genius? Neither did I. I didn't exactly picture this moment on my wedding day. "Oh I can't wait until I can sit in a courtroom full of smelly weirdos and declare to 100 complete strangers that my husband and I are divorcing due to incompatibility!" 
It's basically the American dream.

"But you seemed so happy!"
Yeah, on Facebook, guys.
Facebook is the worst. It's the place to show the good side of your life because no one wants to see the shitty side. It's depressing. And it's no one else's business. So we might seem happy, but that doesn't mean that everything is perfect. Like it or not, everyone has skeletons in their closet. You might think you don't, but you do.

"Those poor kids..."
I know. We're basically serial killers. Our kids will never love anyone EVER AGAIN.
Look, I get it. Holidays are going to suck and won't be normal, but what the Hell is normal anyway? A perfect family with no drama and everyone has a crapload of gifts and no one spills a bunch of spaghetti on their clothes?
Please.
This isn't Pleasantville, folks. My kids are going to be just fine.
You know why? Because we love the shit out of them. As do our families. And friends. And anyone I tell to love them because damnit, they deserve it.
So spare me the guilt trip.


Look, I'd love to spill the gory details but quite frankly...it's no one's GD business. I love you guys, but you don't need to know the good stuff to know that we made this decision consciously and carefully and over a very long period of time. We didn't take it lightly and we are still suffering because of it.
But [and I can't speak for Matt but I think he would agree], we're surviving.
We're getting through for our kids and for ourselves.


My family has been there with me through all of this, even when they really shouldn't have. And for that, I love them. They were filled with heartbreak at losing a son and brother and torn because they knew their daughter and sister was hurting. And somehow they stuck by us both.

And Matt's family has been there for me even when they absolutely shouldn't have. I can't thank them enough for that, because I consider them my family just as much as my own.

At the end of the day, all I can say is that this whole ordeal...well, it fucking sucks.
That's all I can say about it.
I literally have no idea what else to say.
It's been the worst 5 months of my life.

I have been to places so dark I didn't think I could sink any lower.
And guess what?
I fell deeper.

That's just life.
But here I am. Living and breathing and surviving.
And for that, I am grateful.

I am grateful to be me.
And I am grateful for all of you.

So I'm ready to start new. I'm ready to be my own me and live life without guilt and anxiety and doubt.
I hope you'll stick with me. Because I have a feeling it's going to be a great year.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DIY: Corner "Zoo"


Hey all! I'm back with a project we worked on this weekend.

I've been wanting to build a "zoo" for Addi's embarrassing amount of stuffed animals. I'd seen some ideas on Pinterest but could only find the square versions. They're cute but seem to take up more space than Addi's tiny room would hold. I finally saw a photo of a corner one that I decided we had to do. The only problem? No tutorials. Yikes. We were riding blind. So I drew up a not-too-impressive plan in hopes that I could still remember the math required to get it done. [Spoiler: I didn't remember. Google to the rescue.]
After talking my husband into actually getting this done Sunday morning, we headed off to Lowe's to gather the supplies. I wanted a 4-foot tall zoo with 2-foot long legs.

Here's the stuff you'll need for those measurements [if you want different sizes, you're on your own, pal. My brain is math'd out.]: 
    - [6] 8-foot boards
    - Screws[We used 1-1/4 in. (3.18cm) exterior screws]
    - [2] 9' packages of elastic [I got ours at Walmart in the craft section] - You can also substitute these with bungees but I couldn't find any that I thought would work well.
    -1 quart of paint in any color [I barely used any so you could probably even get away with the samples they will mix you at Lowe's].

TOOLS YOU'LL NEED:
    - Saw
    - Drill
    - Staple Gun [not pictured because my husband hid it from me, apparently]
    - Measuring Tape
    - Paint Brush
    - Sandpaper

First off, measure and cut the wood. You'll need [6] 2' boards, [6] 4' boards and [3] 2.83' boards.
We built our zoo in sections. We started with the corner. For the corner, we screwed one 4' board into another.
Next, we attached [3] 2' boards to each side. Be sure to measure to make sure the middle board is actually in the middle.
Because we screwed one of the 4' boards into the other, they were uneven on the sides. No big deal because it was going to be in the corner and I don't think the kids were going to be critiquing our handy work [we could've used brackets but that's just one more thing you have to buy].
So, when you're screwing the 2' boards into the back, make sure to make up for the difference on the side that's longer. This ensures that each of the 2' boards are the same length.
After that you can screw two more 4' boards to the ends. [no picture, sorry!]

Next we did the front section. Screw the [3] 2.83' boards to [2] 4' boards. Again, don't forget to measure to center the middle board!
After this, I sanded down any rough edges and painted all of the boards that would be showing. I don't have photographic evidence because by that point, Addi was up from her nap and attempting to "help" us with the project. This resulted in a sawdust party and attempts to keep her away from the paint. You get the gist.

Next, using your staple gun, staple the elastic to the boards. I did each edge with 3 staples for some extra stability. These will probably get a lot of "love" when your kids take their animals in and out, so we need to prepare for the worst.

Since we were working on this project on a Sunday, I couldn't go to Hobby Lobby to get the embellishments I wanted. I took care of that Monday. I bought wood letters and spray-painted them with shimmer metallic spray paint. I also found some cute metal butterflies that I thought would add some extra color. [All purchased at Hobby Lobby..on sale to boot!]
Once the embellishments were on [I used hot glue to put them on], we took the two sections into her room and Matt screwed the front into the sides at each corner. We didn't screw it into the walls but if you're worried about your kids tipping it over, do that first [before you attach the front section].
I used the embellishments to cover up the screw holes on the top & used paint to cover the others.

So there you have it! Our zoo! 
Addi's obsessed with it. She kept calling it her birthday present? No idea where that came from. Her birthday isn't until November. Weirdo.


I hope this was easy to understand! I tend to forget steps so if you have questions feel free to ask me in the comments!

Stay awesome, bloggers.