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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.

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.

Disney DEFCON

The National Enquirer reported that I was the first person ever to actually fall off the face of the Earth.  While it may have felt like that, it wasn’t entirely true (just like most articles in the National Enquirer).

It is true that I have not logged into my blog dashboard in several weeks – the last few blogs I posted we’re on an automatic timer, similar to all the lights in my mental and real house.

I have spent the last three weeks on business trips and vacation.  I am not even sure my bed at home feels like my “real” bed yet. 

But I am back – did you get a chill? It’s okay to lie to me ya know.

There are so many stories I want to share with you.  I wrote so many posts in my head, but never took notes on them, so they are as forgotten as my exercise routine.  Here’s one that really seems to want to be written, because it has been rattling around in my mind (that was the tin pinging sound you heard) for days:

DEFCON is the Defense Readiness Condition used by the Armed Forces.  After spending a week in Disneyland with my kids, I felt it was my civic duty to share the following:

Disney DEFCON

5 – Lowest state of readiness.  You haven’t told the kids you’re going to Disneyland.  Life is peaceful.

4 – Increased intelligence and strengthened security measures.  The kids know they are going to Disneyland.  Care must be taken to ensure that they do not injure themselves when bouncing off the walls.  You also now have the opportunity to throw the entirely empty threat of cancelling the trip if they do not behave on the long car ride.  Good luck with that…

3 – Increase in force readiness above that required for normal readiness. You need a strategy for crowds, lines, food and the endless toy displays.  Here’s mine:

  • Crowds – The best defense is a good offense.  I started the week trying to avoid small children and other strollers.  After losing every toenail I own, I treated navigating Disneyland, during Spring Break, like a full contact, extreme sport.  Show no mercy.
  • Lines – Don’t be the sweet mom that stops to let the kids climb on sculptures, take pictures and play on slides.  Stick to the mission – rides!  Get them in early, then go back and take pictures with characters, play on the fake cars, ride the carousel and watch the shows while everyone else is standing in hour-long lines in the beating sun.
  • Food – Decide up front – are you a militant mom or a mom looking for a little peace?  I just wanted a little peace so I bought popcorn, churros and ice cream.  I also bought some food for my kids.
  • Toys – I decided before I left that each kid would get one toy/souvenir, period.  I even brought their tiaras and light sabers from home so I wouldn’t get hit up for those.  Before you second guess me, I did stick to the one souvenir rule, sort of.  They each got one thing – but each thing was bigger than I had planned.  I admit I am a sucker for a $65 Cinderella costume and since they didn’t have one in my size, I bought it for my daughter.  With my son, I had a rare opportunity to trump my husband and spontaneously buy a Lego for my son while my husband was getting the car.  I am usually the mean mom and it felt amazing to play the role of Disney Dad! 

2 – Further increase in force readiness, but less than maximum readiness.  DEFCON 2 hit on day 2 days 1, 2 and 3 for us. Be prepared for a scene, but take solace in the fact that your child’s screams will be drowned out by Disney music (I swear they have speakers as close as trash cans), the sound of the rides and 5,000 other screaming children.

1 – War is imminent. Proceed directly to California Adventure where they serve alcohol.

We hit DEFCON 1 on our final day in the park.  We still had planned to spend a few more hours there.  We went to California Adventure, drank two beers and left the park.  A full nuclear response was narrowly avoided.

Tell me a funny story from one of your family vacations.  And by funny, I mean one where I don’t look like the only crazy mom!

Un-Crafty Family Meets Green Potato

March 15, 2011 8 comments

My son had a school assignment to take a regular russet potato and dress it up as a character for a story he would write in class.  There was also going to be a prize for the best potato.  There’s a few things you should know up front:

  1. I am not crafty.
  2. My husband is not crafty.
  3. We’re both competitive.
  4. We started Sunday and it was due Monday.

We had the flier for the assignment in plain view all week, but just had not gotten around to it.  Sunday morning the pressure was on to deliver a potato character by Monday.  We agreed that my husband would take the kids to Target to buy supplies while I went to the gym. 

After my workout, I texted my husband to let him know I was on my way home and he called right back asking if I had my wallet.  I always have my wallet and my husband always forgets his…  True to form, he had forgotten his wallet and had no way to pay for the $36 in potato character supplies the Target cashier had just rung up.  Target is next to the gym, so I swung by and rescued the supplies. 

My son had decided that he wanted to make a leprechaun.  My son LOVES St. Patrick’s Day.  He is in the design phase of this year’s leprechaun trap…

Once bringing home the hostages supplies, my son announced we would paint the potatoes green.  Remember – my husband and I are neat freaks… So we proceed to cover the whole kids table with paper bags and newspapers.  We rolled up the kids sleeves and carefully doled out the green paint and brushes.

My wild child daughter had green paint on her, her clothes, the chair and the “covered” table in less than a minute.  I braced for my husband’s frustration with the mess, but he uncharacteristically laughed.  He had the foresight to buy washable paint! (I mean pick out, since he did not have the foresight to bring his wallet.)  This mess quickly spread to my granite counters and me.  But again washable, so we decided to live on the edge.

Next the potato needed limbs.  My husband suggested straws and I thought about toothpicks as anchors.  I whipped out my hot glue gun.

I must pause here – I only own a hot glue gun because I have pipe cleaner dreams of being crafty.  I think my neighbor has used it more than me, but HA, I now had a project for my glue gun.

Um, plastic straws melt when they meet hot glue. 

My son thought melting Mr. Potatoes arms was hilarious, but my husband rescued the idea by suggesting I apply the glue to the toothpick and waiting a second before placing the straws on the toothpicks.  I said I had a glue gun, I didn’t say I knew how to use it.

Next came wardrobe – my department.  We had bought a hat and fake mustache that truly must have been marketed with potatoes in mind… weird??  My son and I then fashioned a coat (more like poncho) out of a half of bandana and glue-gunned it in place – I was feeling very crafty at that point.

During this time, my daughter has helped herself to a bottle of purple paint and a container of googly-eyes – with my husband and I one foot away.  Apparently this craftiness took all of our energy.  So my husband helped the diva, while my son drew and cut our construction paper boots and hands, that I glue-gunned on. (Yes, I am going to continue to yap about the glue gun).

The piece-de-resistance was the pot of gold.  We took mini caldrons from our Halloween decorations and filled them with glass beads that you would use in floral arrangements (another thing I have a few materials, but no skill for).  We borrowed gold spray paint from a neighbor and voila:  The potato leprechaun had his pot o’ gold.

I am pleased to introduce you to Lucky:

 

A close up on the gold:

  

And what about my daughter’s potato?  Well… she’s three and had many “design-changes” mid-project.  I tried my best not to take over and make her a cute potato lass.  True to her artistic direction, we ended up with “Potato Ghost Goldilocks Leprechaun”:

 

This turned out to be a fun-filled, kitchen-wrecking, heart-warming, glue-gun wielding, family bonding experience.  This was more fun than carving pumpkins and everybody contributed to the finished product.  As long as there is washable paint, our family may continue to do Sunday craft projects until I accidentally glue the kids together!

Maui, Poop and Hookers

November 23, 2010 6 comments

We have just returned home from ten glorious days in Maui.  Okay, we got home Saturday, but it took some time to adjust to reality.  I had planned on writing and blogging from Maui, but I was too busy living and enjoying.  I am so far behind on the novel challenge that I may have to abandon it and I am ok with that.  Ten days of truly enjoying my family provided me joy and memories that I can’t catch up on later.  I can catch up on writing when the time is right.

You may already be saying to yourself, this is not the Paige we know.  She didn’t push to get everything done, she didn’t stress over what she wasn’t accomplishing.  With fruity drinks, gorgeous sunsets and no work, I think even the craziest of moms can find a little balance.  It was a wonderful, relaxing vacation where I had the opportunity to play with my kids and enjoy time with my husband.  There is no greater gift or sense of accomplishment.

Telling you all about my vacation would be just bragging and possibly painful if you would rather be in Maui than reading this.  When you are on vacation or have returned from vacation the Golden Rule is reversed: ‘If you can’t say something mean, don’t say anything at all’.  This prevents taunting others with your fabulous life.  This rules keeps my friendship with some of my friends going.  When Sarah called me in Hawaii to see how it was going, I could hear her kids screaming in the background as she tried to do laundry and make dinner.  I was smart and kind enough not to tell her I was sitting in a lounge chair with a cocktail and my kids were frolicking in the pool while I watched the waves crash.  Who wants to hear that when they are stuck in normal household hell.  I simply replied, “It’s nice, and a bit overcast”.  She giggled and thanked me for my discretion.  In the spirit of the reverse  golden rule, I will stick to the unusual “highlights”.

Our first dinner: We had planned to have a lovely dinner on our first night in Hawaii to celebrate our arrival.  But after starting our travel day at 3:30 in the morning, then taking the kids swimming, our craving for dinner became a craving for sleep.  Our dinner of Ritz Bits and POG (pineapple orange guava) juice never tasted so good before our seven o’clock bedtime!

Avoiding the Pool Closure:  My three-year old is potty-trained.  We have a pool at home and never have had an issue with accidents in the pool.  Within 20 minutes of our arrival at our timeshare, she limped down the stairs of the kids pool, holding her bottom.  I thought she was hurt, but when I asked if she was ok, she said “Mom, I have to poop NOW!”  I realized she was holding in what had already happened and raced her to our room (thank goodness for a first floor room).  I narrowly avoided being the mom whose kid caused a six-hour pool closure. 

Closing The Door on the Kids: The first three nights my husband, my two kids and I shared one hotel room.  We tried to make the kids share one of the double beds, but listening to them fight over who kicked who did not work out so well.  The lesser of two evils was to have one of them sleep with each of us.  My son snores and grinds his teeth and my daughter kicks like a lunatic.  So my husband and I traded off, one night I had physical pain, the next would be audio torture.  But once we moved to our time share, we were able to put them both on the pull out sofa and close the door.  They still kicked, whined and snored, but we didn’t hear it.  Ah bliss!

Escaping the Stinky Runner:  Several mornings I ran from our timeshare to Whaler’s Village and back. It’s three miles roundtrip.  About a mile in to my run, a very fit female runner got on the path just in front of me.   As I was running behind her, I noticed the most awful smell.  It didn’t go away.  I came to the conclusion that she was crop-dusting me.  If you don’t know what that is, let me give you a lesson full of class – crop-dusting is when you are trying to get rid of some gas without getting caught by those around you so you keep moving.  I figured it couldn’t last too long, but after another two tenths of a mile, I decided this was not what paradise should smell like and I turned around and went the other way.

A New Friend:  My husband and I did three dinners without the kids.  On one of our date nights we went to a very kid UN-friendly restaurant in Kapalua.  We were sitting on a deck watching the sunset over cocktails.  A stunning brunette asked us to take her picture, explaining it was her birthday.  She was by herself (kind of weird on her birthday, don’t you think?).  She twice struck up odd conversation with us that we politely closed.  At one point the waiter walked by and gave her a funny look.  She quickly excused herself.  As she walked away, my husband and I looked at each other and said “Hooker”.  About forty-five minutes later she found herself a “client”.  I thought I was the only one who worked on my birthday.

Hawaii was amazing and filled with just enough humor, odd smells and interesting people.  What is your idea of paradise?  What are the unusual highlights of vacations you have taken?

Happy, balanced family!