Working Vacations

Every year we take a family vacation and make lots of wonderful memories. Every year I come home feeling even more exhausted than I did before we left. I try to plan things that cater to my husband and children’s likes, but by the time we come home I feel like I was just doing my normal mom stuff in a different location…in other words, I didn’t get a break at all. Do you have any suggestions other than to take a separate trip by myself, haha?

Hi honey, I totally relate to this. My dream vacation is lying on a beach next to sparkling blue water with a frozen drink, a bag of books and minimal human contact, but that isn’t always possible or what works for my family. I also try to plan things that each person will really enjoy. However, sometimes, as moms, we forget to consider our own wants and needs while we’re busy taking care of everyone else’s. What do you really enjoy doing on vacation? Can you schedule time for some of that?

And what wears you out on vacation. Is it the planning? The activities? The busy-ness? You don’t have to participate in every activity. Sometimes too much interaction with people–even people I absolutely adore–drains me. It’s okay to pass on the occasional game of putt-putt or to stay behind and read while your husband takes the kids to ride go-carts.

And sometimes, you might want to stretch outside your comfort zone and participate in an activity you don’t really love simply for the joy of experiencing it with the people you do love. But only if you want to. If you do it from a sense of “should,” you might end up feeling more resentful than joyful.

If you have little kids…well, I imagine it’s not news to you that vacations are not particularly relaxing. Especially if you go to the beach. Going to the beach with little kids is exhausting. But someday, they will be relaxing again. I promise. And you’ll look back with fond memories on the chaotic ones. In the meantime, you might really want to consider a trip by yourself or with your hubby or a friend.

Most of all, just take some time to really think about what will make you feel relaxed and nourished on vacation and during your normal life and plan for more of that. Let me know how it goes! xoxo

Moms, Friends, and Mom Friends

In order for my husband to take a great job opportunity, we moved our little family to a new community at the beginning of the school year. We feel it’s an idyllic place to raise a family, but unfortunately it’s about 100 miles away from our former home. We have two school-aged children and a toddler. My school-aged children have adapted well and are doing great in school. My husband is so happy at his new job. I should be overjoyed because all I’ve ever wanted is to be a stay-at-home mom–which I am now–but I’m feeling kind of lonely and isolated as I don’t have any friends here. I had friends in our old community, but most of them were friends I’d grown up with and people I worked with. How do you make “mom” friends and can they become “real” friends?

Hi honey! Congratulations, it sounds as if you have lots of fun and exciting things going on in your life. However, it also sounds as if you’re in the middle of a lot of transitions physically as well as emotionally. Full disclosure: I went through a bit of an identity crisis when I became a stay-at-home mom, even though it was something I’d always wanted. And being a stay-at-home mom of a toddler can be lonely and isolating as they demand so much attention and depending on his/her age, sometimes they aren’t particularly portable.

The good thing about having school-aged children as well is that you’ve got an “in” to meet other moms. Are your kids involved in sports? Some of my best friends now are other moms I met sitting next to night after night at the baseball field and/or in gymnastics classes.

It is intimidating to enter any new situation. It can feel like everyone already has established groups of friends, and there’s no place for you. But I promise you, that’s probably self-doubt working overtime. Unless you are not a nice person–and you sound like a very nice person–people will want to be friends with you.

What about your kids? You probably gave them a similar kind of pep talk when they changed schools, right? Have they made friends? Do they want to have play dates? Again, some of my very best friends are my kids’ friends’ moms.

I’m an introvert too, and here’s what I’ve found: It’s easier one-on-one. If you can find one person who is open and friendly and established in your new community, try to strike up a conversation. Find common ground. Most people love to talk about themselves. Most people love to talk about their children even more.

Having one good friend to talk to will help alleviate some of the loneliness and isolation you feel. Let me know how it goes!!

xoxo

 

Talk That Belongs in the Trash

By society’s standards, I’m a highly successful person. Great marriage, good career–I like my job where I am treated and compensated well– two lovely children, though they are still quite small, and my dream home. I’m happy and surrounded by good friends and a loving family. All that said: Why is it so much easier to listen to a few negative voices that want to tear me down versus the many many positive ones lifting me up?

You sound wonderful and charming, and I’m very sorry that there are any voices speaking negativity into your life. Your life sounds wonderful–enviable, even–and it’s my suspicion that the people who are speaking negatively to and/or about you probably wish that their life was as happy as yours.

Think about it: Do you spew negativity onto the people in your life? Doubtful since you’re a happy person. I feel you, sister. I do. I try to be positive and kind…to uplift those around me. And guess what? There are still people who talk shit about me. There are still people who try to bring me down.

“You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”― Dita Von Teese

Your reaction is normal. Most people feel hurt when someone says mean things to or about them. Sometimes, we harbor deep insecurities that are triggered by those comments. Sometimes, we might wonder if we “deserve” whatever good fortune we have. Sometimes those “Debbie Downers” sound like our own nasty inner shrew which seems to lend some sort of credence to what is actually nonsense. Whatever the reason, it can be hard to put that talk into the right compartment–the trash bin.

My mom always said: Consider the source. I never really got it when I was younger, but now I do and try to keep that in mind when someone comes at me. Full Disclosure: I rarely succeed at first.

People who aren’t happy with their own lives sometimes feel threatened by other people’s happiness and success and want to rain on their parades. Newsflash: There’s plenty of happiness and success for everyone; no one gets ahead by tearing others down.

Those who speak negativity into your life are only projecting their own feelings of unworthiness and unhappiness onto you. Don’t let them steal your joy.

I hope you can let the negative voices go straight to the trash where they belong. Live your happy life! Enjoy your marriage and career and children. Especially if they’re little. Cause girlfriend, I’m warning you now: Tweens are no day at the beach.

xoxo

 

This is Supposed to be Fun?

Lately, it seems like all I do is scream at my kids. I’m a pretty happy person with a normal amount of stress. I have a good marriage, a great job, and I’m not overwhelmed–any more than other working moms. I don’t need medication or a vacation from my life. But I always hear people talking about how these are the best years of your life and you should enjoy them, and I really just feel like…I can’t wait until they are grown and not arguing constantly over who looked at whom or who touched what. I’m not a bad mom, but every morning I wake up vowing to enjoy them more and yell at them less, but most nights I go to bed feeling like I fell short. I love my kids so much it hurts, and I don’t want them to have bad memories or baggage.

Oh honey…reading this I can tell what a good mom you are and that your kids are so very fortunate God gave them to you. I have children in various stages of development: an adult woman–23, a teenage boy–16, and a tween girl–10. In 23 years of parenting, I’ve had a million realizations, but one is that I’m best with babies and adults. If I can hold, bounce, snuggle, or stick a boob in your mouth, we get along. If we can have wine and talk about feelings, we’re golden. It’s the years in between nursing and drinking that keep me in flux. Parenting teens and tweens and preschoolers–can we agree 3-year-olds are assholes–is not that much fun.

I promise you’re in good company. I wake up every morning with the intention of doing better, and many nights I go to bed beating myself up. Here’s the thing: All of that beating ourselves up means we’re paying attention. We’re trying. If you go to bed at night and don’t question at least one thing you did or said during the day, good for you; you might be a psychopath. I’m kidding obviously, kinda, but isn’t awareness always the first step whether we’re addressing addiction or overeating or yelling at our kids? We can’t change anything until we realize there’s something that might need to be changed.

You’re not alone, friend. I’ve felt this more times than I can count. And I’ve had this discussion with so many great moms because I surround myself with fabulous women who overthink their parenting. Never had it with a bad mom though…go figure.

Here’s the thing: If you wake up every morning trying to do better, you’re probably already doing great. Give yourself a break. I yell at my kids too much. But I also say, “You know what…I’m sorry I yelled about that. I was feeling [insert whatever emotion or baggage I projected onto the situation] and reacted inappropriately.” They’re well-versed in Brene Brown and Shefali Tsabary.

We’re human. We fuck up. That’s not going to change. But we can accept those times we fall short as normal, own our behavior, and keep on keeping on. Works in progress, sweetheart, works in progress.

If you haven’t already read this article by Glennon Doyle Melton, I suggest you read it, frame it, tattoo its wisdom somewhere on your body, because it’s pure gold.

xoxo

You Win.

Not sure how to write this without sounding childish, but here goes. I have this friend who is ultra-competitive, passive-aggressive, and for lack of a better way to say it copies everything I do and and then tries to pass things off as her original ideas.

For instance, I get a new car–she gets a better new car. I start a “cleanse,” and she posts 90 pics of her new paleo meals–cause she’s paleo now. My kid gets an award at school, and hers enrolls in astronaut camp or some shit.

I know it should not bother me, but it is so ANNOYING!! I can’t really cut her out of my life, and she’s not a bad person … but this behavior drives me crazy.

Hi Honey,

My gut reaction: You must be super-fabulous if someone is trying that hard to be like you. Do you wanna be friends, lol? I promise I won’t copy you 😉 Seriously though, if your life wasn’t so awesome, your friend wouldn’t be trying so hard to emulate your behavior–even while trying to pass your ideas off as her own, which is incredibly annoying.

When I was in 8th grade I told a friend about a pair of shoes I really really wanted. The next day she showed up with the exact shoes I was coveting. I was so pissed, and my mom told me, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But when I finally saved enough money to buy the shoes, it would look like I was copying her. Ugh. Never got the shoes. Lived to tell the story.

Side note: That full quote is “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” Well well well, that’s a bit harsher. Oscar Wilde does not play.

But through elementary and middle and high school, I’ve used the same sentiment 5000 times or so with my own girls. And it’s actually started to ring true to me. Even though I still get really fucking pissed about it sometimes. Especially when someone tries to pass off my words or ideas as their own. Work in progress, folks.

During my brief stint as an avid churchgoer, I shared one such annoyance with my pastor about a person who–while actively disliking me–followed my blog and periodically plagiarized my writing in her own posts. His response stuck with me: There’s no such thing as an original idea. Think about it…what you wrote? You probably got the idea from someone else. Most likely someone you admire or who at least inspired you in the moment. So try re-framing it in your mind. No, that person is never going to give you credit, but you can give yourself credit, knowing that you’ve inspired someone else. Even someone who doesn’t like you. That’s something.

Circling back to my original sentiment, I think you must be pretty freaking amazing if your friend wants so badly to be like you. Yes, I agree with you 100 percent, her behavior is super-annoying. But here’s the thing: She’s not fooling anybody. And so what if she is. You are living the fabulous life she is trying so hard to create. You already won.

I really mean it about being friends, and as all my friends know, I’m not even currently interviewing new friends. But I’d make an exception for you 😉

 

Eternal Sunshine and Other Nonsense

What do you do when your kid has a broken heart? 

Oh honey…that’s the worst; isn’t it?

Seeing your baby hurt is awful. Terrible. Excruciating. I would rather have another spinal headache than see my children hurt.

Last week, I was at the middle school selling slushies at lunch and witnessed this interaction: A 7th grade girl walks over to a table full of 7th grade boys and says to one: “‘Susie’ wants to know if you are really breaking up with her?” Without looking up from his chips, he nods his assent. Girl returns to her table and delivers the bad news to ‘Susie.’ ‘Susie’ gives Chip Boy a death stare, and her friends console her. Chip Boy continues eating completely unaware of the devastation he’s delivered.

I don’t know about you, but I fell in love with a few Chip Boys before I met my husband. And I met my husband at 17. We know these things are gonna happen. It’s normal growing up stuff. What can we do? Be a soft place to land…Listen. Take them shopping. For ice cream or alcohol depending on their age? Try not to offer too much advice…Offer some advice? Gently remind them that while it feels like the end of the world it’s not. I don’t know what works. Does anything really?

When I was younger–a month or so ago–I wanted to physically harm people who hurt my kids. But that doesn’t work because the kids who hurt our kids are someone else’s kids. Broken hearts can make mama bears violent.

Seriously though, there are no perfect solutions but lots of right things. The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a mother is universal: When love is your motive, your actions will always be right. Of course I’m talking about genuine, authentic, unselfish love and not ego-driven assholery wrapped up in claims of: I’m only saying or doing this because I love you.

There’s no magic to fix broken hearts. No “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I’ve searched. We’ve got to breathe through the pain and hopefully walk away with the lesson that it came to teach us.

Fuck that, right? I hear you. I’m sorry. I’m with you. Me too.

xoxo

 

Monday Blues

My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for what seems like forever now. We’ve tried the traditional method(s). We’ve miscarried, been turned down for adoptions, and failed at IVF. I’m feeling frustrated, sad, defeated and like giving up. Can you say something that makes me feel better?

Oh, honey…I’m so sorry. I wish I could say something magical to make you feel better. I think one of the hardest struggles we face as women is the desire to become a mother when it seems like the universe is conspiring against us.

I feel you. I really do. Here’s the thing: You aren’t alone. When you are in this situation, it feels like you are completely alone, the only one suffering, the only one who has ever dealt with this monumental despair. I promise, you aren’t. It may seem like women all around you are getting pregnant without trying–without even wanting to get pregnant. It sucks.

I know so many women who have been through this, and I hear the same thing over and over: It will all be worth it someday. The pain, the disappointment, the despair will dissipate when you’re holding your baby in your arms. The baby you prayed for, hoped for, never thought would happen. Don’t give up. Allow yourself to feel the sadness and grieve the losses, but if you really want to be a mom, don’t give up on that dream.

I am holding you close to my heart, sweet friend. And I know that so many of my friends who are reading this share your heartbreak and are holding you close and sending you positive energy as well.