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The Compliment That Almost Broke My Heart

My husband and I went together to drop my daughter off at preschool last Friday.  We don’t typically go together, but it was the end of a long week and we thought it would be fun.  As we were walking back to our car, one of the other moms stopped us as she was walking in.

“You two are so cute, coming together!  I don’t know how you do it, you both work full-time, but you’re always smiling, you’re very involved with your sweet kids and I can only imagine that your house is amazing.  And you, Paige, look great”.  My husband I both started laughing in disbelief. I glanced down at my short, average body and glanced back at her tall slender frame and thought she must usually wear glasses.

“Just hide in my house for a day and you’ll see why I always say, ‘don’t look behind the curtain’.  You’ll hear me yelling, you’ll see the messes and you’ll figure out that I am crazy, but thank you, you are very kind”, I said as we headed to the car.

That brief interaction sent me into a tail spin.  I started mentally listing, by category, all of my faults and short comings:

Positive and Smiling?

  • I typically only use the F word when I am upset.  I use the F word daily, multiple times per day.
  • My best friend thinks I should pay her as much as I pay my therapist.
  • When it comes to parenting, I have been asked to write a book… on what not to do!

Amazing House?

  • If the kitchen cabinets aren’t re-done soon, the house may be condemned
  • There is always mold in my shower!
  • I am better at math than decorating, and I barely passed high school math.

This list continued as I walked back into the house.  By the time I sat down to my computer to work.  I was on the edge of a melt down.  I felt like a fake.  How could this high energy, fit, sweet mom be praising me?!  I decided to write this blog post on how upset I was to be given praise that I didn’t deserve.

Then the most magical thing happened…

Before I could start this post, I checked my email.  In my inbox was a post from one of my favorite bloggers, Julie Gardner.  The post was entitled, ‘Today Call me Enough’, as she was guest posting on the blog, “Just Be Enough“.  Hello?!  Before you even visit the blog, which you should, the title should be smacking you in the face – it left a big nasty red mark on my cheek!  Here’s the magical part… I read it and stopped making my ‘why that sweet mom is crazy and I don’t have it together’ list.

I have decided the appropriate response to the sweet mom at preschool is thank you

Thank you for recognizing that I work full-time but make parenting my priority.  Thank you for pointing out, when I couldn’t see it, that I do a pretty damn good job of juggling it all most of the time.  Thanks for not expecting me to be perfect, even though I sometimes am crazy enough to expect that of myself.  I have tons of help from my husband and others, but I do the best I can.  It’s not perfect, but it’s enough

It’s interesting, I have no trouble listing my failures and flaws on this blog.  I use humor to mask the negative feelings, but at the end of the day, I am comfortable being truthful if it helps others feel “normal”.  It’s much harder for me to share my accomplishments and pride.  I thought about creating a second list of all the great things I do, but find it too hard to “brag”.

Why is it so much easier to focus on the negative instead of celebrating the positive?  I always push friends and family to celebrate their strengths, I tell them not to be so hard on themselves.  I marvel at their greatness, but I am relentless in measuring myself.  I think many of us fall into this camp.  We push ourselves so hard to be perfect, to succeed and ultimately just drive ourselves crazy… or to drink… or to chocolate. 

Since Friday, when I have felt ambition or perfectionism getting the best of me and when I set my intention at yoga on Saturday, it was simply, “Just Be Enough” and you know what, I already am.  On the days when I’m ‘not enough’ or ‘slightly off balance’, it’s still enough, but with extra amusement.

Do you want to do something brave?  Do you want to help me be brave?  Comment on this post with one of your strengths or one proud moment.  Did you make an amazing dinner?  Did you rock the project at work?  Did you finally catch up on your laundry (at least for one day)?  Did you get some quality time with your kids?

Need more inspiration?  Watch this short video from Brene Brown about the Gifts of Imperfection and being enough.  I am currently reading her books and her work is resonating with me. 

Finally, give yourself a pat on the back for being amazing just the way you are.

Unsuspecting Stowaways

May 2, 2012 4 comments

When my oldest son was 6 months old, I had to go back to work and we put him in an in-home daycare. Pause as I think of the weeks of tears I shed at this tough decision.  In order to limit his time in daycare, I would go to work early and get off early, while my husband would keep later hours.  My husband would drop him off at 9:00 in the morning and I would pick him up at 4:00 in the afternoon.  This was our routine.  I like routine.  I need routine.  Without routine, things get… messed up. I am eloquent, aren’t I?

On my husband’s first business trip post-baby, we had to adjust the routine.  I would go to work a little later, drop my son off and still go back to pick him up.

The first morning started so smoothly.  I set my alarm early to allow time to feed him, change him into a onsie that looked just like the onsie he slept in, but was clean, and still get myself ready for work.  It was a little cold out, so being a model new mother, I added a pair of socks with adorable bears that rattled.

I loaded him in the car, carefully buckled his 5 point harness (these days I pull out of the driveway like a bat out of hell, yelling, are you buckled!?) and headed out.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and I saw a couple of neighbors out jogging.  That made me smile.  No, not because I was proud of them or because I love to run, but because I thought better you than me suckers.  Then I frowned, realizing the joke was on me, that they were fit and I was… a new mom.  I realize some new moms have babies, then look like Giselle two weeks later.  I was not that mom!  I was the one who was so enraptured with my new baby that my self-identity no longer mattered.  I thought I would never care about hair, make up or clothes again.  Okay, I still don’t but I pretend to.  Or vice versa.  Not sure.

Anyways, I continue driving thinking about how Dr. Spock would be so proud of my newly acquired parenting skills.  I’m nursing, I’m pumping, I decorated with primary colors, I…

What is that noise?!

Oh my gosh!  The rattle of my sons socks…

I forgot I was taking him to daycare.  I was halfway to work on autopilot.

What would have happened if I hadn’t heard the socks?  Would I have parked to car and gone into the office?  Would I have been one of those mothers on the news?  I am thankful that I never found out.  I am also proud of myself for shredding the post-it-note that said ‘Don’t forget the baby’ that was taped to my steering wheel, before my husband returned.

Secretly, when I see one of those mothers on the news who forgot about their kid, I think to myself, shame one you, but I feel ya sister!

What have you done that was, or almost was, newsworthy?

3 Things Every Mommy Needs

April 25, 2012 7 comments

Today was one of those days.  I didn’t sleep well last night, thanks to an adorable, yet snoring child in my bed.  It was grey and drizzling outside and frankly, I am pms’ing (apologies to my male readers).  My plan was to go inward metaphorically.  I would hide from the world and maybe even skip yoga because it’s just a crummy day. 

Then I got a text from a friend that she’s having a tough week too.  I decided the best way I could support her and anyone else having a tough day was to dust off the blog (Oh my! Does anyone have an extra feather duster and some Pledge, because I have been gone too long!) and share the 3 things every mommy woman person needs.  Hopefully, you all know what you need, but consider this a reminder, permission or just a loving nudge to be good to yourself!

  1. The Real Story – You are awesome, without having to be perfect.  Nobody is perfect.  If you are, please don’t tell me, I am fragile today.  Here’s my shining examples of not being perfect-
  • Every mom feels guilt.  We were tired so we only read the top sentence of every page of our child’s book (sadly when they learn to read, I have to find other ways to cheat).  We tell our kids we left their favorite movie at a friends’ house so we don’t have to hear it AGAIN.  (Notice I say hear, because I am guilty of not even watching it)!  We pick going to get a massage over watching a ballet practice.  I think I have said enough to win mother of the year, I am moving on…
  • Every mom yells.  Our preschool teacher is amazing, like off the charts patient, kind and creative.  AND she has FOUR kids!  FOUR!  She was recently asked, do you ever raise your voice and she said of course she does.  If she says she does, than I know its okay that I do!  That is one benefit of rainy days, I know my windows are closed so that my neighbors can’t hear me yelling!
  • Every mom gets behind on housework.  A note to the working moms – the stay at home moms have laundry piling up too!  Even the cleanest houses and those with cleaning ladies have their bad days! (My blog isn’t the only thing that needs dusting…)  You can’t perpetually hide the kids’ toys, husband’s junk or pet paraphernalia!

2. Vices

  • Pick your poison.  We all have our coping mechanism alcohol, caffeine, sugar, carbs.  Okay, I pick all of them!  There may be people out there who don’t need any of those, but I am not confident enough to be friends with somebody like that, so I choose to think we all have our vices.  One mocha Prozac vodka latte please –with whip!
  • Pick your distraction.  TV (Somebody should give the Nobel Peace prize to the inventor of DVR, because that person keeps the peace in my house), books (Have you read 50 Shades of Grey?!), magazines (I get more than I have time to read, but it’s comforting to know they are there to fill my head with gossip, recipes, fashion and homemaking!).  What’s your distraction?
  • Pick your escape. Book club, bunko, mom’s group – these all could be bucketed as an excuse to get together and drink wine. Yoga – hmm, add wine and it might be utopia…  The point is to find a way to blow off steam and smile!

3. Friendship

  • The sounding board. You know, the one you call and say, “I am going to kill my kids”, but she doesn’t call CPS (although you might appreciate if she did). Or the one you can call and say “should I be mad at my husband for …”.  Or the one you tell, “I really need to pull it together” and she tells you that you don’t have to.
  • The one that takes the high road.  Just like we need the in-your-corner (even if it’s the corner of crazy and whack job) friend, we need the one who puts it in perspective, plays devil advocate and tries to make you a better person.  Let’s be honest, we only call that friend when we’re not afraid of heights.  But when we’re capable, the high road reminds us that there are people with bigger problems and helps us find gratitude for our blessed lives.  She is also not a mind-reader, so when you tell her to “F” off in your head, she probably can’t hear you, I don’t think…
  • The vice connection.  She is my personal favorite. When the going gets tough, the tough get cocktails and she’s the gal stirring the drinks!  She’ll split the whole chocolate cake with you and insist on opening the second bottle of wine.  Who can have bad day while in a sugar induced coma?

The moral of the story- There is someone with a messier house, a shittier day and no wine in the fridge.  Call the friend you need, meet her for yoga and have a snickers and cabernet on stand-by.  You deserve it.  Yes, you!

Volunteer or Controlling Mom?

October 18, 2011 4 comments

I volunteer in my son’s second grade classroom every other Monday morning.  I think it is important to be present in my son’s education.  I appreciate the opportunity to witness what he is learning, and how is learning, in order to be consistent at home.  Our teachers have the critical task of educating our future leaders and I want to support them in their efforts.

All of the above is true…

But let’s get real…

I want to observe my son’s classmates to determine who are appropriate play dates!  As I help the teachers, I envision each of the kids coming over… 

If I see this in class…

I envision this…

or this…

 

If I experience this,

I imagine, I will have a playdate that goes like this…

Parenting is tough, I want to keep my son from having friends like…

At least not until he’s old enough for me to enjoy the trouble with him!

What ways do you weed out the Eddie Haskells and Dennis the Menaces?

Imagine a messier life?

September 15, 2011 11 comments

Imagine you were given the gift of four days to tune out all other distractions and focus on your passions, your hopes and dreams.

Suppose you were supported by a group of strangers who are now dear friends.  These people helped identify roadblocks to your dreams AND ways to bust through them.

Picture sitting in a beach community being encouraged to chase your dreams and live your life on your terms and by your personal priority list. 

Between the sounds of seagulls and waves crashing you hear people saying ‘go for it’, ‘you can do it’ and ‘you deserve it’.

No, I did not have a wonderful dream, sustain a head injury or consume too many cocktails at book club.  (That was all the week before! ;)

Last weekend, I lived this experience.  I spent four days in Santa Barbara, attending the Life Launch program I told you about.  This program gave to me what I hope to give to others; a sense that you’re not alone, that people are in your corner, that anything is possible.  It focused on the good in each person and supported each person’s life journey.  I was reminded this weekend that everyone is slightly off-balance; that we all have fears and obstacles, but with the right support, we can do great things.  This weekend was a prelude to a coaching certification I hope to obtain, when the time in my life is right. 

That time for that certification maybe now, if I can figure out how to juggle work, family and an intense 8 months program that requires 10-12 hours per week.  Stop laughing!  Or at least bring it down to a giggle.  I know, ‘where I am going to find the time’?  If I do this, will I miss more soccer practices, ballet or my own yoga classes?  Will my husband forget that I even knew how to cook dinner? (Hmm… this might be a benefit).  Will I completely disappear from this blog  – I have already been delinquent as of late.  Will people think I am selfish for adding something else that is about me?  Will the mold in my showers run rampant?  Will I start to wear dirty clothes and stop washing my hair?  Okay, I already don’t wash my hair that often… Life would certainly get messier.    But maybe a messier life is a fuller life.  Maybe, messy is good.  You can’t argue with the fact that an empty room may be clean, but is empty, whereas a messy room is full of living; mementos of life’s adventures.  (Do you think my husband will buy any of this?)

These are all questions I have to answer, but my gut is telling me to give it a shot.  I have a little more research to do and I’ll keep you posted.  But I’ll make you a promise, I may have less time to blog, but I’ll try to post the messy pictures! ;)

Twas The First Day of School

August 10, 2011 6 comments
T’was the first day of school and all through the home
The kids were ready; teeth brushed and hair combed
 
When the alarm clocks when off, I was prepared for the worst
I pictured cranky, slow-moving kids who might possibly burst
 
But they wore the clothes they laid out and ate breakfast with haste
The consumed what I served, no meals went to waste
 
I planned to arrive early, but secretly just hoped not to be late
So when I yelled put your shoes on, to my surprise, they were great!
 
They stood by the door, shoes on, ready to go.
It was me who was lagging, I had to look good, you know.
 
Dear son’s now a second-grader, so he played it cool
Little diva has one more year til she attends brother’s “big school”
 
We stepped on to campus with 25 minutes to spare
There was time for “how was your summer? and “did you cut your hair”?
 
We said hi to his former teachers and all our of our friends
On mornings like this you’re glad summer does end.
 
Dear son loves his new teachers and had a great day
He set up his desk, did some math and lots of play
 
With school in we have routine and need not invent so much fun,
But that also means now, I am again, on the run.
 
With school comes homework – both his and mine
Then there is soccer practice, dinner and early bedtime
 
So while I’d love to tell you more about the great day that we had
I must pull dinner out of the oven, and be on time to practice, being late is normal looks bad.
 

The Summer Sabbatical

July 20, 2011 18 comments

My summer sabbatical was not planned.  I never thought my last post would have been June 1st.  In fact, my one year blogging anniversary came and went without any fanfare and trust me I am a fan of fanfare.

So why the unplanned sabbatical from my blog?  Hmm… not sure.  All I can tell you is that in the beginning I was busy living.  The last weeks of school are hectic, than summer swept me up in all it’s sparkle, sunscreen and sangrias (actually, it has been mostly rum, but I love to abuse alliteration).  Both of my kids have summer birthdays, so there are parties, presents and pinatas (actually, there were no pinatas, but again with the alliteration).  I have been enjoying the little moments, the everyday joys of summer.  Before I knew it, I looked up and I hadn’t written in over a month.

Then it became daunting.

I felt like I would need a spectacular re-entry and was at a loss.  I would get pings from my dear bloggy friends and readers and I would hide.  (I actually tried to respond to some tweets and am having Twitter issues).  Every time I read the brilliant writing of those I follow, I would feel like I was in a deeper hole.  Whether you’re a writer or not, I bet you have been there; procrastinating a paper in college, putting off a work deadline or avoiding thank you notes (of which I need to do for both my kids).  The longer you put it off, the bigger the task becomes.  

A friend asked me this week, if you’re not writing, where are you putting that time?  Well, that’s a post in itself, besides enjoying small summer moments , I have been more serious about window shopping for my passion and purpose.  I have been more focused on exploring new career options and have taken a big step.  I am enrolling in the September session of the Life Launch Program through the Hudson Institute in lovely Santa Barbara, CA.  I have some hunches on what I want to do next and I hope the program will help evaluate those hunches.

I told a friend that I didn’t think I would blog about the program and my thoughts behind it.  I felt that this blog was about Paige, the crazy, cocktail-drinking mom striving for balance through humor.  But looking for passion and purpose, trying to balance our personal identities with our parent personas, actual feels like a perfect fit.  I am convinced everybody has that moment (or several moments!) where they say ‘how did I get here’ and ‘do I want to be here’?  Let me be clear – I want to be here, in my home with my children and husband, but there are other parts of life that can be tinkered with.  I think about my friends who gave up high-powered careers to raise their families or those who work 80 hours per week, we all have those days where we ask ourselves if we should have chosen differently or wonder if it’s time to chart a new course. 

Therefore, it is my plan to continue to share with you my journey, my experiences and my thoughts, because we are all multi-faceted, unique and amazing people who fit in more than one bucket, whether that’s parents, working professionals or cocktail-loving crazies.  I hope you’ll share with me your questions about your chosen path, your future journeys and dreams yet to be fulfilled.  Crazy loves company.  Yes, I will still share parenting stories, but my seven-year old son is in the all farting, all the time stage, so I plan to spare you. 

Do you feel like you’re fulfilling your life’s purpose?  Are you passionate about how your spend your days?  Do you have another goal on the horizon?  Do you live a double or triple life to fulfill multiple passions?  Do you put lime in your rum?  How do you get a little boy to stop with the incessant potty talk?!

I am still on sabbatical, but there is sure a lot to discuss and now that I am here, it’s good to be back.

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