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

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

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