Friday, January 30, 2015

Mommies: Get to know yourself and find your THING.

No, I don't mean THAT. (Although I might get more blog hits on that topic...)

So here it is. 6 years ago I became a stay-at-home mom. Like one day, you go to work, have a career, use your brain, wear clothes that need to be dry-cleaned. And then poof! It all goes away. You wake up the next day and look down and see comfy clothes. You don't bother to shower. You love the little person you gave it all up for, but after the babymoon starts to wane, you question your significance, your value, your purpose. Well obviously you know your purpose. Feed baby! Wash baby! Teach baby! Clothe baby!

But what about the rest of you?

For many of us, the transition to the SAHM life is not an easy one. Often, it is not until we truly reflect and learn about ourselves, not just as a mothers and as wives, but as a human beings, that we begin to find happiness and fulfillment. And if we are not totally in love with SAHM life, we cannot possibly admit it. Because that would mean we are failures, right? Aren't we supposed to relish every single explosive poopy diaper, every single moment of a toddler clinging to our calf screaming "Mama!" because he wants more freaking animal crackers, every single nipple-splitting feeding at 3 am watching Three's Company? What if we don't love it ALL?

So we keep going, through the fog, through the lack of... well, whatever it is that we are missing. And it can take a long time for us to figure out exactly WHAT we are missing. Because for each of us, when we take the leap to give up the career and retire to SAHM-hood (whether temporarily or permanently), the journey is different. Each of us misses different things, longs for what gave us joy and purpose before, when we lived in that other world with our careers.

It took me several years to find the strength and humility to accept what I was missing. I learned that I missed most 2 basic elements of working: social interaction and praise. Life at home with my son was lonely. I needed girlfriends. I also realized (and this one was harder to say out loud) that I thrive on praise. I need someone to tell me I am good. My husband says it all the time. My parents say it all the time. But the 3 little people, for whom I am doing it all don't. To them, I am boring old Mommy who makes them bathe and eat broccoli.

(Although if they did shower me with praise, I often imagine it would sound something like this: "Mommy! You are so amazing at cleaning crumbs off of the kitchen floor. I mean, you and the mop: it is like magic." Or "Wow, Mom! Your lunch-putting-together skills are unparalleled. Seriously. You rocked that PB&J like nobody's business." Or even, "Amazing... the way you put us back into our car seats after EVERY errand. You never forget any of us at the store. Thank you, Mommy.")

Obviously none of the above statements has ever been uttered. And truthfully, I missed having a grown-up boss who would observe my work and state on paper that I was good at it. And this void, this insecurity that it took me so long to accept and admit, was impacting my relationships with my kids as well as my marriage. Because my husband -- the man who works his tail off to feed and clothe all of us -- is good at his job and receives praise all the time. At the beginning of my SAHM life, every time he brought home a glowing evaluation, rather than feeling joy for him, or pride, I felt envy and resentment. And, well, that just sucks -- for him, for me, for all of us.

So I took a few leaps. I put myself out there, into social mommy circles, and made friends: Step 1. Then I started writing. And a few people told me my writing wasn't too bad. So I started submitting pieces to various publishers, websites, and anyone else I thought might give me a shot. I have experienced quite a bit of rejection, but do you know what? Sometimes I wasn't rejected. And then there was praise. Editors liked my stuff. And suddenly... I was feeling more whole, more valued, more significant. And now, when my husband kicks ass at work, I am happy for him. I fixed me, and because of that, I can find joy in his accomplishments rather than bitterness.

Moms: If you are in a funk, if SAHM-hood is not enough for you, that is okay. Get to know yourself. Find your thing. Find something to make you feel whole. Your kids will see a happier mommy. Your spouse will see the fulfillment in your face. You will feel better and you will do better. Get to know yourself. Find out what you are missing. Find your thing. FIX YOU. They deserve it. YOU deserve it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A stranger in the grocery store parking lot

We teach our kids about stranger danger. But we also teach our kids about generosity and helping others. Well, what happens when a stranger offers to help you, and you are with your kids?

I was shopping with 2 of my 3 kids last week. I approached the bus I drive around town (my 8-passenger mini-van that rivals my first apartment in square footage) with my shopping cart. Kid #1: loaded in. As I was loading kid #2, I heard a man's voice.

"Are all of your groceries going into your trunk?"
Um..... "Yes."
"Okay. Let me help you out."

This man, this stranger, proceeded to unload my items into the back of my van while I continued to strap my youngest child into his car seat. I was not sure what was happening. I was not sure what to do. Was this a kind man, who saw a mom, out in the freezing cold, with 2 kids and cart full of groceries, and just wanted to help? Or was he a thief about to steal our food? Or was this a crazed lunatic about to climb into my van and carjack us all? 

In the end, it was guy #1. He loaded my groceries and shut my trunk. As he was walking away with my cart, I said, "Thank you, Sir."

He replied, "You're welcome. I remember years ago when my kids were young. I remember how hard it can be."

I felt terrible for thinking he COULD be anyone but guy #1. BUT my babies are with me. It is my job to protect them and to protect myself. I am saddened by the truths of our world that caused me to be anything but appreciative. Because before I was appreciative, for about 30 seconds, I was afraid. Was I irresponsible for letting a stranger get so close to my kids? What message did I just send them? Is it okay to let strangers help us? What if I had said, "No thank you" to the kind man? Or worse, "Get away from my car!" What impact would that have had on my 4 and 1-year old? 

It truly was just a thoughtful man helping another parent on a cold day. I drove away from the store, thankful for his kindness. Thankful that my kids saw kindness. And hopeful that anytime they see a "stranger", in the future, he will be kind as well. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015



If you give your 1-year old your phone to entertain him while you steal that 8-minute shower you truly deserve, make no mistake: he WILL take naked pictures of you through the glass shower doors. 18 of them in fact. You will not know this because during that 8 minutes, he was not screaming, climbing into the sink or toilet, or throwing anything at you. So you, honestly, did not know (or care) what he was doing with your phone. Delete my apps? Whatever. Call Daddy at work? Sure.

Fast forward two days later. You will attempt (in vain) to entertain that same 1-year old through an hour-long gymnastics class for your daughter. The books you brought are of no value to him, and he tore through the snack in 45 seconds. So... there are 48 minutes left. Fine, here's my phone, you'll say.

He will pull up some of the stunning shots he took of you 2 days prior and proceed to show them to your 6-year old son who is sitting several rows away in the bleachers. Your 6-year old son will then shout (for all the other parents to hear), "Mom! There are like a bunch of naked pictures of you in your phone."

So now you know what will happen if you take a mid-day shower with your toddler in the room and let him have your phone. You've been warned.