Now this could sound sexy and hot, but don’t forget I am a crazy over-scheduled working mom. My hotel fantasies consist of visions of a bed to myself, no one to tuck in, and room service dancing in my head. (This would cover #22-24 on the “28 Gifts Every Mom Wants for the Holidays” that Stormy posted to our Facebook page. Stormy, I am still counting on you to deliver gift #28 in person before Christmas.)
Neither of the possible fantasies mentioned above happened. The reality of my recent hotel night was a lovefest of a completely different kind. There was a hotel involved, but the room was shared with my two sisters and the lovefest was filled with giggles, confidences and tears—the kind that only siblings (or girlfriends) can cram together in a just few hours.
The initial plan was for us all to escape our hectic lives and take a moment to really enjoy the holiday season. We would leisurely shop, have a delicious dinner, and retire to our room to watch “Love Actually” over a bottle of wine.
Then we’d wake up rested for breakfast and spend a full day helping each other cross off our holiday shopping lists. One comment that was continually repeated by each of us was how excited we were to be in a relaxing atmosphere with a time out from normal chores, family and work. We would be able to actually catch up on some much-needed rest.
Well, the first part of our outing went as planned, including heading up to the room at 9:30 p.m. We congratulated ourselves on being back in time to have our peaceful evening and not letting freedom con us into staying out and trying to enjoy the bar scene. It was while waiting for our room service that the evening plans took an unforeseen turn. Why not turn on a little music while we waited for our bottle of Pinot Grigio? A little Taylor Swift seemed harmless. But that was when the night took on a different course:
We danced and sang together. Current hits. ’80s rock. Country. (I did save them from hearing me belt out a heartfelt rendition of “Let It Go.”)
We decided to order a nightcap following our wine, which included a call to the bartender, instructing him on how to make our first drink. And, so we didn’t have to call again, to bring extra orders without ice. Can’t have the waiting drinks diluted!
We shared. Everything from giggling about bodily functions, memories that we each had different versions of, family dysfunction, to our secrets and fears.
We asked each other hard questions. Things we perceived or guessed by just knowing each other a little too well. Things no one else is brave enough to ask you.
An argument. What started as a heartfelt sharing, followed up by smart sisterly advice, turned into tears, hurt feelings and stubborn silence on both sides.
Ten minutes later a post-fight make up. Who besides a sister can you sit on and threaten disgusting things that will happen if they don’t give in and smile?
At some point a decision to sleep – last clock check was remembered at 2:30 a.m.
We woke up foggy headed but still laughing as we reminded each other of things we did and reminisced about our silly night. There was nothing any of us would change. We agreed even the fight added to the perfection of the night.
So that sums up my hotel lovefest. How an evening of being completely uncensored and totally yourself can be so freeing. How much you love those people, deep to the core of you, with whom you can share that kind of night.
I left the Westin packed with unforgettable memories and true love.
The other night my daughter asked, “Were you happy I was your baby? Was I cute?” Granted, she probably suspected that this question would stall bedtime at least another fifteen minutes as I cuddled her and told her the story, again, about how it felt the first time I saw her. The vivid memory of sitting at the Eastern Orphanage in Korea anxiously waiting to meet my daughter. Finally, the counselor pointing to a woman walking in with the most beautiful baby girl on her back … “That is her.”
I have told my daughter (by adoption) and my son (by birth) that there isn’t one of their stories about how I came to be their mother that is more special than the other. They are completely different stories, but both include joy; some pain points; worrisome moments; and the delivery of the most incredible gift, unimaginable love, and biggest responsibility of my life. (The toughest part comes in the work and exhaustion of raising them!)
With two children who came to me in very different ways, it is important to me that I celebrate and share with them their individual stories and how it makes them unique. One part of my daughter’s story that I have shared with her is how she has three different moms who each love her very much. This “mom circle” includes her birth mom, her foster mom and me (her mom). In fact, she was told this story from before she was old enough to even understand the words that I was saying. This story also led to her infamous self-introduction: At the age of four, we were at the first day of swimming lessons. A girl walked up to her and said, “Hi, I have a new purple suit.” My daughter responded, “Hi. I have three moms.”
So with the timing of National Adoption Month and soon to be her seventh birthday, I want to attempt to write a note to her other two moms whom I share with the great honor of this title. Since, I have no way to actually get a letter to them, I decided to blog it. Perhaps they will feel the energy of it. Or someday when we go back to Korea as a family, or if Chloe ever seeks them out, it can be shared. Or maybe, it is purely for me to know that I have recognized them and documented something in their honor. So, with that said, here I go.
Dear Other Two Moms:
First and foremost, I want both of you to know that you are and always will be important to both her and me. You are not forgotten.
Birth Mom, I didn’t know you at all except through a few forms from the orphanage that you filled out which shared some basic information about your life and the adoption decision you made. I haven’t read these to our daughter yet, but I will as she gets older.
Foster Mom, I did meet you. Our last day in Korea when you passed her to us for the final time and watching you say goodbye is etched in my mind. Our daughter loves to look at the photo album you sent with us that chronicles her nine months in your family. One of her favorite photos is of her 100-day celebration.
Secondly, if either of you ever do actually read this, please know it could never be enough or say enough to acknowledge and thank you for the sacrifices you both made that brought her to my life. So perhaps consider it more of a note in time with an update and a few facts about how she is doing.
If our daughter was writing this, I am sure the first thing she would mention is “I can braid!” At the moment, it is what she sees as the most exciting, self-appointed goal she has reached. It has beat out the excitement of learning to read which happened around the same time. Her dolls, herself and me are always adorned with different braided hairdos. She would also be sure to mention that she is going to have a piñata at her birthday, is one of the fastest runners in her class and is also really good at the monkey bars.
Actually, she would go on and on and on. She talks a lot. There have been multiple times where she finally takes a breath and then notices, and comments, that I am not fully listening anymore. I have told her honestly that sometimes I can’t listen as long as she talks. She can wear me out.
She does like to tattle. Her flair for the drama can cause the tiniest touch from her brother to create the loudest wail from her. (Though granted, half of the times the wails are well founded and caused from more than a touch). They have bonded as siblings in the truest form. It is a love/hate relationship. But no one better mess with her but him!
I am working with her on not lying to get out of trouble. “You saw me wrong” or “You heard me wrong” is her usual defense. She does not like anyone to be angry with her. Though it doesn’t stop her from doing things that may make us angry. When she is in trouble, it is usually turned around on us and we are told how we hurt her feelings by being mad.
She dresses herself in crazy, unmatched outfits and gets really sad if you suggest she or her outfit is anything but super cute. She loves Littlest Pet Shop but is “not that into” Hello Kitty anymore. She is proud of being Korean and loves to make and eat Be Bim Bop and Japchae. And, there is nothing quite like being caught up in one of her laughing attacks.
There are many moments in my life with her during which I think of you both. I want to know more about the stories behind the photos we look at together. I often reread the adoption forms hoping to catch something that I missed last time. When I am filling out her medical forms, I want to ask you about her family history or if she had the same reaction to colds when she was a baby. Sometimes, I just want to ask you both to tell me, in your own words, how you made such brave and selfless choices. One of you to give her a life you couldn’t provide and one of you to make sure she was cared for and loved till we would arrive. Both of you having to say goodbye to her. Once in awhile laying in her bed, I close my eyes and wish I could show you how she is doing and hopefully you would feel proud or content in the choices you made and the path you provided her. If nothing else, make you giggle hearing some of her perspectives and comments.
I am not a perfect mom but I love her. I want you to know that you both helped to create an incredible girl. I also want you to know there is no way to be eloquent enough to express all that I would like, nor anyway me to be able to cover the full spectrum of all that is her.
Thank you both for making the decisions you did which provided me the opportunity to be one of the three moms blessed to play a part in her life. I hope she gains strength by having received all of our love different ways and carries it with her always. Please know, I don’t take it for granted that I am the one who received the most with her as a constant in my life, thanks to both of you.
As I tell her every night, I love you to the moon and back.
I am sad. Why? No particular reason. At least none that I can directly point to. I am not even sure if “sad” is the right word. Wistful, blue, blah, wishful, lacking … all I know is don’t call it mad. That is what had me walking out of the house the other night.
I can’t say what set me off. Perhaps my hope, or need, for a fun family dinner to dispel the dark mood cloud I felt settling in. A dinner that instead had my son angrily sticking up for, or throwing a tantrum about, Adrian Peterson. “It’s just what they do in Texas,” (said the boy who may have had four spanks/light swats EVER which left me as the only one hurt, due to my guilt over losing my temper). His only motivation was 11-year -old warped thinking that if he argued his point, miraculously the Vikings would have their star back and win again. Or maybe it was my daughter, who left the table ten times to look at her wiggly tooth (her first one). And then there was my husband who just didn’t pay attention to any of us. I wanted laughter, smiles and talk – a distraction from my looming mood. Basically, a pretend TV family. That was not happening.
I was craving having a feeling – and not the kind of feelings I have been having lately.
I’ve been busy worrying about family members: Breast cancer, undiagnosed but life-affecting illnesses, and a liver laceration (of a child who might as well be family – our kids call each other cousins).
I have also been feeling stressed: busy working at a crazy pace with insane RFP responses added to my already over-packed job (and they’re not a marketing favorite), branding and marketing a friend’s new hair salon, and exploring a little side business idea.
Add on to that, dealing with raising a middle schooler and his Jekyll and Hyde emotions.
Maybe my need for the “right” feeling was brought to the surface from the heartbreaking tragedy of a school mom who died in her sleep a few days before. Maybe that is what kicked up the dust, woke me up in the midst of being lost in the hecticness, and made me want to feel something special. Or, perhaps it was just plain and simple craziness. Or it could be my hormones. (I have hit the age where I can blame them for everything). All I know is I needed to laugh. I needed to feel pure joy. I needed to enjoy. I was needing one of those moments of bliss like girls’ night at the cabin, sisters drinking wine on a Sunday, or dancing would give me. I’d had a taste of it recently – a couple of hours with my stepmom and sister just laughing in the kitchen together. But I needed more of that silly stuff that makes the rest of it all worthwhile.
With dinner not going as planned, and my family not giving me what I needed (admittedly it was a losing battle for them before it started), I got distant. Annoyed. Bummed. Resentful. I can’t tell you exactly where it escalated, but basically the words “I can’t do anything without you getting mad. Nothing I do is right,” were the final words muttered to me that set me off. I stood up and left the house without a word.
I walked and walked. I tried to sort through what was wrong. I just knew I was missing something. I stopped and had ice cream. (That helped a little – simple pleasures). Then I walked some more. My head was reeling with how to fix it.
Nothing came and two hours later I went back. My daughter was still wiggling her tooth in a mirror. The guys were each on a couch (squishing my pillows!) and I walked upstairs without saying a word and went to bed. My drama basically unnoticed by anyone else.
It’s a new day – starting with the announcement of a missing tooth. “This is such an exciting day!” squealed my six year old. Decidedly a new attitude was needed from me too. So along with my Daily Love dosage, I added on another cheesy self-love prescription and decided to take the advice to write three things I am thankful for today.
I am thankful for the smile from my beautiful daughter with her first tooth missing.
I am thankful for reading that my son did notice I was upset and texted “you ok? coming home? love you.”
I am thankful for all of the special people who have made me smile and laugh in so many different and wonderful ways, that I miss it when I am down.
Damn, this stuff works. I am smiling at the flood of fabulous memories. I found a natural happy pill. And I’m not crazy – I just like to smile.
Well if you had any clue from my lack of recent blogs, summer so far hasn’t been as relaxing as I imagined. My fantasies of taking advantage of the long, sunny days … or at least nights after work … were quickly ended by what it really means to have kids running “free range.” School activities, hockey, and homework were swapped for random camp times, baseball, and kid swaps in my work parking lot for play dates. Add in random sitter issues (saved one week by Stormy’s daughter, Blossom), and summer has turned out to be more chaotic than the school year.
Granted, I could have signed my kids up for a full-time day camp catering to working parents. But, my working mom guilt often gets the best of me. Why shouldn’t they enjoy these summer months of freedom? I sure miss having a summer break!
So what my kids would describe as a fun summer filled with sleepovers and
sleeping in, has been mass chaos for me. No routine and every week requires a new battle strategy of who to get where and when. My tipping point was last week. A situation where I knew (standing in the bushes in my heels), that I needed some summer enjoyment too.
How did I end up in the bushes? It was my week as a camp driver. We only signed up for “specialty camps,” which means camps kids like but which have no convenience or scheduling around a working parent’s needs. (I will need to do another blog on why everyone else gets what they want, yet I seem to starve myself from all my needs. Even the eyelashes are gone!) Anyway, this week of specialty camp I worked from home in the morning and then took a group of kids to tennis before heading into the office at noon. (I have no idea how parents manage it without a flexible work schedule). One morning I had a conference call for an important pitch. I told the kids that I would be giving hand signals when it was time to be sprayed with sunscreen, grab their racquets and bags, and head to the car. I was proud of myself for organizing it all, including having lunches packed and backpacks lined up in front of the door before the call. The first ten minutes went great. The kids were quiet … which should have been my first warning of upcoming disaster. As I was talking, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see my daughter mouthing “sorry” and pointing at the window. Somehow she had knocked out the boards bracing our window air conditioner unit. I was looking at a gap in the window and the air conditioner rocking on the ledge. Throwing the phone on mute, I ran outside. The rest of my call was done on speaker and muted unless I was forced to speak. I stood in the bushes holding up the air conditioner with my phone resting on the window ledge and my other hand trying to jimmy rig the boards to hold the unit in place till we could do a permanent fix after work.
That night, I realized I have been so busy juggling a full-time job and kids running loose that I basically missed the first half of summer. Our “no routine” had us crazier than our over-scheduled winter. It was time to make up for the lost summer. Which meant another list! Yes, my kids groaned as I asked them to make lists of what they wanted to do before summer ended. I was determined to do at least one thing on each list this weekend. KitKat determination took hold. No matter what it took or what hurdles needed to be jumped, I would do some summer activities. I do realize that I work best in chaos and a crunch, even when the task is finding time to relax.
Number one on my son’s list was to catch fish. So we drove up to the cabin Saturday morning and spent the day fishing. The fish even complied with our list, and we had a great day. One item done and I actually relaxed. Hard not to, with a pole in one hand and wine in the other, plus a son who would bait my hook and take off any catches.
I had decided to drive back that night with my daughter, so we could check an item off her list on Sunday. We left father and son at the cabin for a full fishing weekend.
I skipped past number one on her list, Chuck E. Cheese, and chose one further down—which was shopping at the farmers’ market. We had a slumber party in my room Saturday night and in the morning I surprised her with money for the excursion. She made sure to spend every penny. She loves nothing better than to pull out cash and pay for a frivolous item. After a summer of giving up things or putting them on the back burner (well, trying), I had just as much fun buying whatever suited me at the moment.
All in all, it was a jam-packed SUMMER weekend. I ended it sitting outside and watching my daughter and neighbor kids on the Slip & Slide as I looked up things to do in Duluth for a moms and sons trip planned at the end of August (another check off the list). I still had cleaning to do and hadn’t finished my list of dinners for the week but was determined to take a moment to do nothing but enjoy the weather (another item on my list), which I plan to make time for at least once a week.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.” – Sir John Lubbock
After fully enjoying my summer weekend, I think I am ready to battle another summer workweek. Including managing the text I just received that my sitter has two days she can’t cover.
I returned from my Vegas girls trip almost a week ago, and I’m finally starting to feel like I am catching up on sleep and running on full capacity again. I have a bad tendency to maximize vacations. This means flying back home at midnight and still heading into work the next morning so as not to lose out on a minute of precious vacation time. (Pretty much how I live my life, rushing from one activity to the next.) Even with the vacation hangover, every exhausted moment I am paying for it is well worth it.
Stormy expected me to find blog inspiration in Vegas. At least she was hoping. I have been a little behind on my writing. My inspiration, and time, has run short—and it was even shorter with a vacation looming. For some reason, taking time off means working twice as hard before you leave and again once you get back. (In actuality, you don’t really get time off from work but just the same amount of work crowded into fewer days.)
So Stormy … I didn’t find any great Vegas inspiration (nor, admittedly, did I try) but I did full-heartedly enjoy it and lived in the moment for four straight days. Though, I have recovered enough to at least recap why I think Vegas is always a great vacation pick-me-up and well worth the week-long recovery (being 45 might play a part in my long recovery time, I used to bounce back quicker).
I know there are those who don’t love Vegas. For example, Stormy isn’t as sold on it as me. But I suggest you pack your bags, invite a couple of girlfriends and give it another try. If nothing else, you will be forced to live in the moment and be distracted from reality by the continual stimulation. Some of my favorite things about Sin City include:
The Sun – You don’t have to spend a full day traveling to find some much-needed sun. And once you are on your beach chair, being served your tropical drink of choice, Vegas feels as far away as a Caribbean resort. (And, if you prefer sand versus pool, you can always book Mandalay Bay.) Lounging at the Palazzo pool being served pitchers of cucumber vodka lemonades is where is where we spent our days. No matter how late we got to bed, every morning we dragged ourselves out to soak up every minute of the sun. Another surprise benefit of Vegas was that by the fourth day we were too tired from sleepless nights to walk around with our stomachs held in or analyze our body flaws highlighted in swim suits. We just lazed in the sun without a care.
Gambling – I am not a High Roller and usually allot “entertainment” money that I am willing to lose, factoring in drinks are free when you gamble. None of us had illusions of hitting it big or plans to spend too much time at the tables. But, we did all enjoy the craps table. With some lucky rolling from all of us, our “entertainment” money (including tips we earned from the actual High Rollers at the table who were benefiting from our luck) kept us rolling all night. In the casino is also where we discovered the strange passage of time in Vegas. One of us would look at our phone and realize hours had passed, that it was almost morning, and herd us all upstairs. Each day, exhausted, we would tell each other it wouldn’t happen again. Each night it did.
Adult Disneyland – Everyone is happy in Vegas. Sure, it seems a little corrupt and not the most wholesome of attractions. But how often do you gather with so many people who just let go and have fun? One night was dancing. One night was a show (if you’re not offended easily, “Absinthe” is incredible – I have never
laughed so hard and out loud along with an entire crowd). One night was spent being tourists as we visited the dancing fountains, erupting volcanoes, and Chandelier bar. There truly is something for everyone and always something going on. You are surrounded by the best in shopping and food. I think there is even golf, if you like that sort of thing. No matter what your activity of choice is, everyone around you is also in a good mood and enjoying themselves a bit too much also.
Looking at the list above doesn’t do my trip justice. It is tough to explain just why you should go to Vegas:
So, to my lovely traveling companions: my sisters and “adopted” sister (the adoption happened on the dance floor and involved a Wild Turkey shot), I look forward to our new yearly excursion. I know a trip with the right people is incredible anywhere. But being in just the right atmosphere, Vegas, was the topping on the cake. Plus in Vegas, there seems to be more hours in the day to enjoy!
But next time, I may be willing to give up the 4:00 am nights at the crap table in lieu of just a little more sleep. I came home and had a childlike meltdown my first evening back, when I couldn’t get my daughter to prance nicely off to bed upon my request. I was dying to go to sleep myself. And as I melted down, I caught the wide-eyed stares of my children, frozen so as not to fuel the rage any more. So though I may not have found a Vegas inspiration, I did find insight into the irrational mind of a tired tantruming child. Maybe I will be more understanding the next time I keep them up late for fun and am punished for it later.
Stormy, I think you should give Las Vegas another shot!
Well, tomorrow I will be waking up as a 45-year-old. Birthdays have never gotten to me. I celebrated 30 and 40 without any dismay about the accumulating years. That is not to say getting older hasn’t hit me. The increasing wrinkles and slowing metabolism are a constant reminder of the aging process that I am none too happy about. But, it has never been a birthday that has depressed me.
This year is different. For the first time, I am experiencing the birthday blues and want to protest or divert this upcoming age transition.
I should get some credit for skipping despair of turning 40. Though I may now resort to celebrating a repeating 44th birthday.
Perhaps it is that I am approaching 50. Every day, from here on out, I am closer to 50 than 40. Fifty sounds like a whole new life. Not an age I ever imagined being. But now it is sinking in as a reality. I am crossing over the line. I have friends in their 50s. They look amazing. Actually, they look better than they did in their 40s. But I am not ready to join them.
This birthday also means I have officially hit midlife. (I figure I will live past 80, looking at the women in my family, but don’t expect to see 100.)
Or maybe it is the combination of mood swings and hot flashes that have been a preview to what is in store. It’s an uphill battle from here on out. Good genes can only carry me so far. In an effort to take some control, I have taken a few preemptive strikes. Similar to Stormy, I am very good finding reasons (sometimes farfetched) to pay for services that make my life, and looks, better.
Covering the grey hair has been part of the age-fighting routine for years, although now the timeframe has narrowed from every six weeks to four. Though, a fresh hair color was not going to carry me through this birthday. When I was getting my hair done, my gorgeous 49 year–old stylist told me she liked me without makeup. I looked younger, fresher. Hmmm … it got me thinking. I always wanted to try “mink” eyelashes. And what better reason than a birthday—I would experience time savings in getting ready, less stress on my eyes if not applying makeup, saved makeup costs, and a new look. Plus, I had been complaining that my eyelashes were thinning out and breaking (a common complaint this year that I also attributed to aging). A week later my masterful rationalization has me donning new, lushes lashes with only a hint of blush and lip gloss: A natural look. (Okay, a fake natural look, bought and paid for.)
I did add some “natural” help, all shoved into a few weeks ago as I realized 45 was getting close. Microdermabrasion treatments to brighten up my skin (no needles were involved, so I count it as natural) and waking up at 5:30 to add a 20-minute Jillian work-out to my other routines. She promised it would change me in only 30 days!
I think the toughest thing is time is going so fast. It seems to be speeding up.
Sitting at the kids table at Thanksgiving, I used to wonder when I would feel like an adult. I remember thinking 30 was so old and now it seems so young. My mind still feels like that same little girl. I still have a lot I want to do and experience. I am not ready settle.
Yes, I know that aging graciously is the way to go. I am just not ready for it. And, if I have to distract myself from all the other issues of aging with a silly focus on looks, so be it. Right now, I will focus on the shiny object.
I will also spend my first day after turning 45—first day closer to 50 than 40—with Stormy for a birthday drink. We can catch up (we both have been crazily busy at work) and perhaps the bartender will buy me a drink after hearing I am turning 44 … again!
Did you think I would end this post by coming around to accepting my age and being thankful for all the wonderful things about aging and all the things I am grateful for? 🙂
As Stormy and I have referenced numerous times, it has been a tough winter. I have been working hard to keep up a positive attitude but my strength is frozen out of me. It is hard to be positive about anything in subzero temperatures. So in addition to being sick of the cold, I am getting sick of my own attitude.
Today, I got a text at work that my nanny couldn’t meet the kids after school. And like everything else lately, it threw me into a mood. With too much to do on my desk and now even less time to do it, I decided to just pack it up right away and try to work from home. In my haste, I forgot my gloves. This meant an even colder drive home while providing my mind more ammunition about how nothing is going right as my fingertips turned white.
I thought I might lose it. I wanted to park and cry. Or head to the airport to get on on a plane. I felt my eyes well up … and at that same moment, I saw Bachman’s, a local flower and garden store. I took a sharp left into the lot.
Walking in the door I was surrounded by intense colors and scents. I am not a gardener nor into flowers normally. I could name only the most common. But it was an incredible sensation leaving the white, frigid outside for this warm floral haven. It was like a drug. An instant mood lifter. I am sure some of the other shoppers thought I was a bit “off.” Wandering circles in one small area, wearing a smile and inhaling deeply. The warmth and reminders of spring refueled me. It was lifting me out of the helpless despair I had been feeling myself sinking into.
With time running short but not ready to give up this new fix. I bought myself flowers. I even said yes when they asked if I needed them wrapped as a gift. Why shouldn’t I present myself with flowers as they should be given.
Getting flowers from myself felt as good as, if not better than, receiving them from anyone else. I certainly owed myself something nice after all the abuse I have been giving myself lately. (In addition to affecting your mood, winter isn’t great on the looks either.) With still some time before chaos arrived home, I poured a glass of wine and opened up a spring fashion magazine and sat in front of my flowers.
Finding a little spring, seeing some beauty, feeling some hope and doing something for myself was all it took. A quick fix to a long winter. Maybe next week I should send myself flowers to work.
Well, the last time I wrote my blog it was with kids running around on holiday vacation. This time I have an entire hockey team of 10-year-old boys “watching” the Super Bowl at my house. From the noise I hear, I am not sure how much watching is actually going on. But with the reward of a hug and “you’re a cool mom” when I surprised my son with the invite I sent, it is worth it (or so I tell myself at half time).
January has been an interesting month. The last week of the month is the only full week we have had of our normally scheduled life. School has actually been cancelled five days due to cold. (Prior to this, our school hadn’t had a snow day in 15 years.) This has caused a lot of interruption and forced flexibility into my routine. A routine I count on to get everything done.
So instead, I have gotten through the month by stumbling along with a lot of apologies for missed deadlines, cancelled appointments and not being full-time anywhere. I actually wrote a thank you to my boss for putting up with my constant absences. Between holidays, weather and an out-of-town hockey tournament, it was six weeks of barely working. Her response was short and simple, “I was a working mom for 22 years.” With her youngest just heading to college, she is telling me she actually misses the chaos and balancing act.
You would think I would enjoy some shorter work weeks. But what it really meant was adding full-time job with full-time caretaker. If you are one of the moms in this freezing state with school-age kids, you know how I feel. It doesn’t matter what your job is … at home or at an office … kids who were just off for two weeks for winter break now being given random days off due to cold temps throws off your schedule. You come to count on those hours when they are in school. Instead six more hours of responsibility is added onto your already overly hectic day.
Every time another closing was announced, kids would cheer and moms would start texting for trades. Kids cooped up too much with no routine and parents running out of vacation days and patience were not a good mix. Add to that, my major winter blahs and work piling up, I wasn’t sure how to dig myself out.
As one girlfriend always says … shake it up.
Well I have been shaken up by recent circumstances (namely weather) and now let’s add a few kids and a party. When a few of the moms said I was nuts for hosting a SuperBowl bash (especially learning that I would be alone with the boys because my husband had his own party plans), I realized it didn’t phase me at all. Totally unplanned and unprepared. And it felt great. I know, it seems silly that a spur-of-the-moment kids party would do it. But underneath all the responsibility and expectations, this is me … or at least used to be me. Those random moments and spontaneous things are what make me light up. Having my routine shaken up just loosened up my tight control, and so what if everything isn’t perfect?
So at this moment, I am enjoying the moment. Instead of tackling all my projects that have piled up, I have the Super Bowl turned on, a glass of wine in my hand and I’m enjoying the sounds of too many boys crammed into my basement. I am even feeling a bit of nostalgia thinking that soon these boys–enjoying “a party,” feeling cool and grown up–are actually getting older. (Yes, Stormy’s last post may have gotten to me a bit, as I often wish my kids would hurry up and grow up.)
As long as there are no more days off, I think I can now look back pleasantly and think about how this past crazy month shook me up again. It gave me the chance to experience some time that I could never have planned for (nor would want to). Although I am looking forward to a February with school intact.
By the way, a boring Super Bowl makes for a loud home. All attention to the game is lost and has now shifted to a knee hockey tournament. You let me down, Broncos!
Unlike Stormy, resolutions are not something I ever have prepared as the New Year rolls in. Usually, it isn’t until the vision board party is planned that it even crosses my mind. And still then, actually thinking through my resolutions doesn’t usually start until I am driving to the party … heart racing as I search for an idea meaningful enough for the year.
Don’t get me wrong. There is more than enough for me to work on, hope for and aspire to. It is just that resolution picking, narrowing it all down to a few key items, is hard. Watch me freeze every New Year’s Eve night when I am asked. The vision board collage gives me the room to wander through a web of topics, specific goals, broad themes, and—sometimes—contradictory thoughts. It works more like my mind.
The beginning of this year has forced a few resolutions to already start unfolding in my mind, prior to the party (which is still in the stage of figuring out a date that works in a group of busy calendars).
One came from an article I read. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just do one simple thing to check it off your list. It breaks the “too much to do anyway freeze” and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Now the lists littering my house and office also have the simple tasks added. It seems to work. Even being able to cross off things such as “schedule the doctor appointment” or “add a post to the company Linked In page,” reminds me how good it feels to cross something off and gives me the momentum to get started on the bigger items.
Along with that specific goal or plan, a broader theme is also circling in my mind: Find my luck again. So far this year has rolled in with a lot of hits. The car saga has continued—no clean slate for me. Lack of sleep due to my son’s painful tooth infection that we can’t get under control—which always seems to magnify on the weekend when the dentist office is closed! A broken dryer, which has meant multiple Laundromat trips as we wait two weeks for the new one. Followed by the washer breaking down the same day the new dryer is delivered. The list goes on. I definitely need to find a lucky charm. Or make my own luck. Which is easier said than done.
But taking note of Stormy’s resolutions, I can make my own happy. Such as enjoying the cuddling of a ten-year-old boy, who if not in pain would not allow so much mom mush. Appreciating the magic a six-year-old girl brings to the Laundromat by seeing it as a wonderful adventure.
Plus you never know where some of these smaller struggles will lead.
So until I can see the big picture of some of these struggles, I will try to find, or make, some smaller moments. So Happy New Year’s, readers—I wish us all a great year, strength in our struggles, and special moments … many shared with great friends and good wine.
P.S. I actually might have just gotten some luck. Having actual printed photos for my children was another item I planned to start this year. (I still love looking through my parents and grandparents’ photos.) Shark Tank was playing in the background as I wrote this, and I just downloaded the GrooveBook app that was featured. Could this actually be a simple way to take care of that big item? Ill let you know how it goes!
Unlike Stormy, I do let the holidays get to me a bit. “A bit” may an understatement. As the holidays rolled in, I was reminded not to have another green bean episode this year. An episode that spiraled when, after careful planning to avoid the holiday grocery lines on Dec 23, I came home to my family eating the green beans needed for a dish I was bringing on Christmas Eve. Yes, it sounds crazy that I lost it over green beans. But really, when have they ever chosen to eat green beans?! Plus, it was perfectly timed for when I needed somewhere to let my tension explode. I had found my target. Hence, the green bean episode.
This holiday season started like all others. Around September, my mind starts thinking about the holidays. I start keeping my eye out for the perfect gifts. This year, the Centennial Lakes Art Fair that I attended with Stormy was the place I purchased my favorite gift during one of our needed friend-therapy sessions. (We both are great multi-taskers.) As the months go by and not all gifts are as perfectly stumbled upon, I start to feel the tension building.
Being self-aware and remembering my past holiday stress tantrums, I have tried to do a couple of things to avoid becoming a Christmas freak show.
My first step was to stop sending holiday cards. It was always pushed to the end of my list. I never had my contacts organized, so I always ended up addressing my cards late at night with a pile of envelope scraps (from past senders) with no joy involved. Plus, when I did do cards, I had the self-created pressure that as marketing professional I was expected to have a really cool card. Enough years later, I am completely comfortable with the fact that anything I do at work is not something I enjoy doing in my leisure time. Everyone else can enjoy those fun, creative projects.
With that said, I love getting holiday cards. So thank you to those who still send me one without getting one in return! Every year, I think that is going back on the list next year. Just in a more efficient way.
I have also added a shopping weekend with my girlfriend to alleviate some of the stress. The sell of this weekend to our husbands is we agree to do all of the shopping and organizing if we can get away for a kid-free, responsibility-free weekend. A shopping staycation.
Online shopping has greatly improved the quality of this weekend.
Usually I am calm and feeling organized up until this point, the week leading up to Christmas Day. I wrap presents each night as I count down. As long as nothing tumbles, I think I am stress-free. The problem is something always tumbles. Or possibly, I just don’t acknowledge the building stress ’til this final countdown. If I am being honest, the wrong look at a present I chose, a missing ingredient, or the tape running out as I wrap presents could each set me off.
This year though, Stormy’s blog came at just the right time. I read it as I was wrapping presents and looking ahead to some time off. The Holiday Break division of labor. Each of us taking a week off to cover for the kids at home. My shift was pre-holidays, including the extra Friday the school threw in in addition to the other two weeks off! I decided to heed Stormy’s advice and cancel the list of pre-Christmas plans I had made to make the most of my time off.
Instead, I spent four days in my pajamas. I wrapped presents watching The Vampire Diaries in the middle of the day while my kids played too many electronics. None of us had rules. It is the most relaxed I have been. My daughter brushed my hair while I had a glass of wine and played on the iPad, telling me she’d miss me when I had to work again. My 10-year old son let me tuck him in and show him how I used to stroke his face as a baby until he fell asleep. I actually enjoyed doing a lot of nothing and was rewarded for it. The only thing I did was load the dishwasher quickly before my husband got home each night to prove a long-term point.
Well, I made it through without an episode! I keep surprising myself by discovering all of the things a person can make it through, especially with the advice and support of friends.
So to all my wonderful girlfriends: Thank you. Thank you all for getting me through the year and filling it with not only support but fun and laughter. Those who reached out when I haven’t talked to them forever, but wanted me to know they were there; to my walking partner who has been a perfectly timed gift and will be my friend even when not in need; my amazing “mom” friends who make me feel sane and have become my own friends with or without kid connections; my amazing sisters; and my few soul mates–you know who you are.