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Balancing Life

21 Mar

 When my youngest is at gymnastics I sit on a cold metal folding chair and I watch her on the balance beam.  I can see the determination in her face and see her arms out as she wobbles a bit, then catches herself a step in and refocuses.  Now and then she slips.  But most of the time, she catches herself off-balance and continues on.  Her teacher follows a step behind when she is on the high beam, allowing her to find her own strength and balance, but there in case she were to freeze or fall.  

I balance all the time.  I wobble more than she does when I walk.  I haven’t worn heels since I fell in them and cracked my elbow.  I’m still not sure why it’s called the funny bone.  I balance in my running shoes now.  Between keeping my house clean and spending my much-needed free time exercising and writing.  Staying in to watch another episode of Caillou with a five year old on my lap or going to a Yelp Event with a friend.  Going out on a date with my husband, or catching up on the sleep I miss throughout the week.  Between researching more services we need and just going to Culver’s and eating ice cream.

Some days I balance better than others.  Some days I can smile, I can laugh, I can make those phone calls and doctor appointments easily.  Some days all I can picture is a potential hospital visit for a child and my “fight or flight” response kicks in.  I freeze.  I stare at the neon Post It list of “stuff” I need to accomplish and push my chair away from my desk.  I find my blue running shoes and go pound the path with the steady rythym of my steps. Or I put in headphones and go hunting for my favorite feel-good songs and crumple into the feels of those songs.  Or I open the pages of a book and immerse myself in someone else’s life for awhile.  I feel the clinking of my bracelets reminding me of everything.


But then I refocus and I make those phone calls, I schedule visits with specialists, I ask for help and spend six hours in my van to steal a night away with my husband where I can dress up and feel like the fifteen year old girl he asked out years ago.  I can wear a fiery red dress and heels and feel my legs ache from the hill I walked a few hours before.  I can fill my tub with hot water and turn on the jets, closing my eyes for a few minutes just listening to the pounding of the water.  

I might not be graceful always on my walk.  I might sometimes close my own eyes and repeat the Serenity Prayer or look at my bracelets for inspiration.  I might text someone close to me for just a single boost.  But I continue.  And I make it.  I wobble, I catch myself.  I feel my family and friends a step behind, ready to hold their arms up if I need them.  

But just like she does I continue.  Because that’s what I do.  I breathe.  And repeat.

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Why I won’t make a New Year’s Resolution this year

3 Jan

My Facebook feed has been clogged with well-meaning souls who pledge to be healthier, lose weight, write daily, learn a new language, and (one of my favorites) to not yell at my kids so much.

Resolutions are made with excellent intentions.  New Year.  New start.  It’s your life and you can start new and fresh.  It’s very appealing.  I enjoy seeing all the fitness clothes or free weights on sale at stores.  Heck, I almost looked at them myself at Target until I saw the aisle was cluttered with women and I had the giant cart and 2/3 of my kids with.  The giant cart barely made it through the aisles to pick up the necessary paper towels and cat litter.  I maneuvered it through the kids section trying to replace the too-big furry Trolls vest.  Thank God, that kid settled for a Batgirl necklace instead.

So, no, I won’t make a resolution to lose weight this year (even though I have spare pounds). I won’t say I pledge to write daily (even though I like the thought of that).  I also won’t say I pledge to work out daily (even though I’m close to that on good weeks).

Why? Because it’s rare that resolutions are fulfilled.  I have days that I’m pretty dang happy if I do a few loads of laundry or put on clothes other than yoga pants (that I don’t do yoga in). 

I will not say I need to write thirty minutes a day or 100 words a day.  

Why?  Because of failure.  I will not allow myself to consider missing a workout, leaving my laptop shut, or eating pizza for dinner is failure.

Most people can move on and say “no big deal, I’ll catch up tomorrow.” If a crap day happens I find myself curled up on top of my sea blue striped quilt bed staring at the beach pictures on my wall.  Some days are just really hard and I can’t add one more thing to the pile.

I will do my best to be healthier, be kinder to myself and others, but I will not make a resolution to declare that.  If I declared 2017 the year I do _______, I might lose myself in that process.  Being me and being happier is more important to me than what I can check off a list.  I’d rather live my days one moment at a time.  If it’s a workout day-awesome!  I’ll feel great that night.  If it’s a cleaning day, the house will smell of lemons and there will be less pet fur on the couch.  If it’s a writing day I will have cramped hands and I’ll have to hoist myself out of my office chair like an old woman.  Compression socks only help the blood flow to a point after all.

But if I have a day where the kids and I have been changed, fed and medicated-that’s a win.  Even if the rest of it is spent eating popcorn, drinking water (or my vice- Diet Mountain Dew!) and watching Netflix while scratching the dog.  

We don’t need a New Year’s Resolution to add stress to our lives.  At least I don’t.  I don’t want to add one more thing to the to-do list.  In fact, I might just toss that to-do list in the garbage.  Tomorrow the recycling truck can add it to the Christmas gift blowup that became my garage (the drawback of hosting).

This year I vow nothing.  But I’m aiming for love.  And I’m starting with myself.

Summoning my Super Powers

9 Dec

Being a mom is hard.  Before I had kids I struggled juggling college and work.  Always both.  I was always rushing to one place or the next trying to get there on time.  To finish my homework, to put away the thousands of clothes women dropped on the floor of the dressing room (they don’t magically reappear on the store racks.  There’s one or two people out there that get the job of picking up after others.)

I’m tackling this parenthood thing without juggling the work aspect on top of it.  Yes, I’m lucky that way.  But.  It’s vital.  I’m the one watching my son’s blood sugars at school, bringing extra supplies in for him, driving him to/from school so his insulin pump doesn’t shut off from the cold.

I’m the one who is reading the middle one’s communication notebook, trying to assist with the difficult task of figuring out what my nine year old truly understands and is just being sassy refusing to do.  Or if she’s struggling with some unknown illness or injury (she had a cold for a month and daily I wondered is it a sinus infection? Ears?  Allergies?  And then poof-she was better. 

I’m the one that washes the dishes, cooks most of our meals, washes the million loads of laundry we make.  My “me” time without kids is usually buying laundry soap, wrapping holiday gifts, addressing Christmas cards.

Some days I’m tired of caring for others.  I don’t want to wash another plate.  I don’t want to check the blood glucose meter to make sure my son is testing his blood glucose when we ask him to, seeing another blank line in the Dexcom application, wondering why my kid opens her windows in 20F weather when I tried to get the upstairs rooms warm enough before bed.  I don’t want to change my nine year old’s poopy pull up and remind her she needs to use the potty.  I don’t want to wash blankets that have been peed on even though I know bed-wetting is normal in kids.  I don’t want to trip over another stuffed animal or hear my daughter scream she hates me during a five year old’s tantrum.

I’m tired.  I’m cranky.  Quite frankly I’m a bit lonely sometimes because unless I run errands the only people I talk to are my kids and husband or the swarm of friends that live in my phone.

I allowed myself to cry and feel.  Because some feelings hurt.  But then I pulled on my Wonder Woman tiara because quite frankly I don’t have time to wallow in the darkness of depression and feeling sorry for myself.  I cannot compare my parenting to others, nor can I compare my kids to others.  This is our battle, we rise gracefully and we fight our own battles.

And I kind of like my tiara even if it’s plastic and from McDonald’s.  It makes me feel pretty and happy.  Wonder Woman wouldn’t be hard on herself and say “oops, I should have stopped that villain.”  She fights the villains.  So will I.

Power on, my world of Super Moms and Dads.  Whether you’re fighting a world of diabetes, nebulizer treatments, cancer treatments, miscarriages, birth defects, depression, puberty, terrible twos or whatever villain that ails you find the strength.  I send you virtual hugs.  And I’m going to continue scrubbing the toilet and washing laundry before my kids get home and demand something.  But first I need to do some yoga.  And take care of me.

Finding Myself

29 Jun

Motherhood is tough.  As in really tough.  I don’t know a single mom who doesn’t struggle with juggling being a parent, being a spouse, being a girlfriend, being an employee or employer, or being a stay at home mom.  As a mom you have one (or more!) little being that you are entirely responsible for.  Food, shelter, safety are the basics.  Some days those alone are hard enough.  Go further up the scale and giving your love, time, and attention to those little ones is time consuming.  And did I mention, hard?  Then there are chores to do, a job that puts food on that plate, bills to pay, school functions to attend, schedules to manage. That is a lot of time that we as moms used to spend on ourselves.  Just gone.

Because part of being a mom means you want what is best for your children.  Add in some medical appointments and therapies and IEPs and counseling, and (again) all the other things you need to do in life, it seems like that bank of time spent on yourself is the easiest to pull from.

However, I’m sure you are all familiar with overdraft fees.  If you pull too much money out of your checking account the bank will charge you even more for the lack of money that is in there.  That’s what I consider those constant stressors to be.  Just continuous deductions from yourself until suddenly you’re not only empty, but in the deficit.

And it’s kind of embarrassing and sad to realize you’re there.  Suddenly you look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person you are.  At least that’s what happened to me.

I spent so many years completely engaged in caring for everyone else’s needs and kept pushing my own aside until I felt depleted.  And not only did I not want to do anything “fun.”  I FORGOT what it was I like to do for fun.  I forgot who I was other than being my kid’s mom and my husband’s wife and the cleaner-upper of this house.  (Sadly, I wasn’t very good at that one).

But I did wake up one day and realized that I need more to myself than “just” being a mom.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not diminishing the importance of that role.  I think it’s still my most important.  I love not only being a mom, but being my children’s mom.  I wouldn’t trade any of them for anything.  But in order to be a BETTER mom I had to take some time to just find myself again.

I rediscovered I love to write.  I remembered walking in the woods and how much I loved it and began to hike again.  I emailed a friend and said “hey, can I read your book?  I can edit or give you advice, whatever” and suddenly that surge of creativity was released.  I walked up a path up a very large hill, set aside my fear of heights and enjoyed the view.  I started asking friends to meet up again.  And followed through.  In one day I managed to meet up with two of my best friends in the entire world.  I smiled that entire day.  I dyed my hair, cut it short and sassy, bought a pair of heels and new makeup and went on a date (or a couple) with my husband.

And I like myself again.  I like my kids even more.  By padding that account with a little bit of “me time” when they make a withdrawal (20 minute tantrum over what color bowl they want for their snack and running out of insulin when we are sitting in an hour long appointment) it doesn’t hurt as much.  I’m not in the negatives.  In fact, I’m still in a positive balance and by staying there the stress of “running out” isn’t there.  I enjoy my kids more, I have the energy to clean more (no, my house still isn’t spotless), and I smile.  I laugh and I include them on those fun things I like to do.  While I’m writing my youngest usually paints (she’s better at drawing at four than I ever have been in my whole life), when I want to hike my girls will happily jump in the stroller and let me push them around.  One at a time though–there’s not a stroller tough enough for the both of them together!

So mamas, I beg you.  Take some time to do what you love to do.  See your friends, read a book, go dancing, go hiking, or whatever suits YOUR fancy.  Your kids will see the difference and I guarantee you you will feel the difference.  If you feel like you lost yourself in motherhood, go find yourself again.  You’re there.  I guarantee it.

 

Something new

15 Apr

I celebrated another birthday recently.  It’s always a bit invigorating for me.  I usually am lucky enough to get a bit of cash as a gift and usually spend it on new clothes.  But that’s just not so fun for me lately.  I have a closet full of cute things that I would just like to fit into and feel more comfortable in.  But shoes, on the other hand, shoes always work.  I found myself some fun little Sketchers.  Ladies, if you haven’t tried on the Go Walk Sketchers try them.  They are so unbelievably comfortable.  I didn’t need to break them in at all.  Best of all–machine washable!  Workouts are not usually kind on shoes;)

In addition to the new shoes I have found new workout plans that I love now that my back is healed.  My first–the elliptical.  When I first went to the gym I could barely handle five minutes on that dreadful machine.  I’d pass it to go to the treadmill.  I was jogging/walking on the treadmill but I could get a workout in.  But…it was beckoning me.  I tried again and again each time I went there.  I can proudly say I’m at a 30 minute workout now.  No, it’s not a huge workout, but that’s a big change for me.

I also broke my favorite workout DVD the other day.  Remember Tae-Bo?  Probably not if you’re younger than I am.  However, I was a huge fan of Billy Blanks and his workout collection.  I even had one of them on VHS.  Considering I haven’t had a working VHS player in years I know that got ditched awhile back. But when my Ultimate Abs DVD went I was a little sad.  When you find a workout DVD you can do more than once you stick with it.  And when I tried a few stores for a replacement I realized that it’s not quite popular anymore.

So I tried something new.  And loved it.  Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.  I’ve watched The Biggest Loser–used to all the time.  Jillian scares me.  She seems brutal and I think she’d make me cry more than once.  But…I love the circuit training aspect of the workout.  I am not faithful with strength.  I have a lot of weight to lose and would rather do the cardio to burn calories.  But…this combines it all and makes the strength fun.  I wanted to die the first time I did it.  But here I am a week later and this morning when I popped on my new shoes and hit play I managed the full workout AND was ready for more.

New can be scary.  But sometimes it’s great and you just might conquer something you didn’t think you could.

Well-earned

25 Feb

I’m past just being “laid off” to now being in the routine of stay-at-home mom.  There are moms out there that choose to do this and my hat is off to you.

I love my kids.  I really do.  But I’m selfish.  I like time to myself, and being a SAHM I cannot go to the bathroom without the door opening and a toddler stumbling in, or take out the laptop and actually job-hunt.  As I write this I have my youngest on my lap, Nuks in one hand trying to one-handed peck at the keys with me with the other.  Being at home, it naturally became my duty to keep the house clean (enough, because it does NOT stay with kids playing), our laundry clean (there are always piles), and our family fed (cooking has never been enjoyable to me.  I struggle with the timing, because I’m usually stopping to shoo my children away from the hot stove which is so intriguing being off-limits).  It’s always a balance keeping things organized and even though I relish being busy, I also miss the down time that I can spend away from my house and my kids.

Which is why I joined the Y.  I am looking forward to dropping them off at mini-care while I work out.  I not only get the workout I need, but the break from my children that I also need.  This is a luxury as it wasn’t in our monthly budget, but sometimes there’s no price on sanity.  Whatever makes you a better person is well-deserved.  And quite frankly, this luxury is well-earned.