Archives for posts with tag: kids

Covered in reminders of things to do, woman freaks out!

I know I joke a lot about the boys. Like, a lot. I post a lot about their funny and absurd situations and sayings. And I share hilarious memes about how insane parenting is. But sometimes, it’s so hard and draining. Really really really really…..hard.

This week has been one of those weeks juxtaposed with incredible exciting news and progress in my work life.

My seven year old being home and not going to camp, like we planned this summer, has made things super challenging for me. I am balancing four different worlds of work, plus two kids, full time.

I have a three year old that hasn’t been sleeping in his bed which means, I haven’t been getting sleep.

I’ve dragged them to meetings and coffee shop write sessions. I’ve carted them to and from swim lessons, piano, summer camp (little one is still in his), doctor appointments, make breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and snacks so many damn snacks, all while balancing my work load. And this is the job, I know that. I’ve done it for 7.5 years.

Yesterday I had a huge moment in my writing career and they managed to destroy it for me. I am going to say it, and it sounds harsh because they’re kids, but sometimes kids are crazy. Sometimes, they don’t act right. I love them, I would kill for them, I would die for them but yesterday, they didn’t act right.

I had a meeting with my writing coach and what turned into a kid free meeting transitioned to one kid and then after a preschooler morning tantrum begging to stay home, transitioned into me dragging two kids across the city to sit in a coffee shop quietly while I met.

They forgot what the word quiet meant. Erased it from their cognitive function. They were so bad. Jack was challenging me and just disrespectful and defiant. Alex followed his lead. A meeting that I paid an hour for lasted less then thirty minutes. Because I decided to cut it short, after the second “I have to poop, mommy!” statement came. Yes, somehow, two preschooler poops in under thirty minutes.

During one of the brief moments we had to chat before another interruption, she said that the way I was diving into the characters and how I portray these family relationships could really make this book a hit.

Do you know how long I have been waiting to hear those words? I have dreamed of writing a novel since I was a child. And my children, interrupted that blissful bubble within seconds by complaining and throwing things and acting so rude.

I couldn’t even relish that comment. I didn’t even get two seconds of pure bliss about it.

I know this post may seem whiny and complainy, but I truly don’t do this a lot with my kids. I take it all with a grain of salt, mostly. I crack jokes and find the absurd humor in how wild a ride this is. Because it is. And if you don’t fucking laugh, you will just sit in a corner and cry about it. And that’s no fun.

But this time was different. It was too far. This time was a dream of mine and all I asked for was for them to sit quietly on their devices, which you would think would be amazing. Unlimited unsupervised screen time! They couldn’t. They wouldn’t. They didn’t. They refused.

Moms have limits. Edges. Every so often our precious bundles of joy nudge a little too close and, boop, we go over that edge. This was me yesterday. Right over the edge. I am burnt out, to say it gently.

Being a working mom, especially a work from home freelancer extraordinaire mom is fucking hard. I am expected to be a full time mom and a full time writer/officer/director/secretary (these are all the hats I wear). I wear them by choice. They are all passion projects. I want to wear them. But I also want someone to cut me some fucking slack, coughcoughkidscoughcough.

I don’t have a lot of mom in me today. I have been lazy. I haven’t been able to focus on my book, which I should still be riding that comment/thought, but I was just staring at my document and nada. I did feel all of this that I poured into this post. Maybe this will help. Writing is my catharsis, after all. Maybe I will use what happened yesterday in the book somehow, twisting and turning that moment into the story I have been pouring every fiber of my being into. Art imitates life.

But today, today, I wanted to feel sorry for myself. Tomorrow, tomorrow they go away for the weekend with Grandma. Tomorrow, I reset. Tomorrow, I write.

 

 

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Quietly and methodically, I pushed open the door. Muscle memory, knowing exactly which way to turn the handle and how far to inch it open. Just enough to squeeze through. Barely breathing and moving my body with control, so as not to make even the slightest sound. A routine of silence and careful movement engrained in me.

Tonight, my movement stops suddenly. My eyes are greeted by a pile of pencil shavings gathered on the white carpet. My head turns up, a blanket half falling off the top bunk obscures the bottom bunk and I am too short to get a good look at the occupant of the top bunk.

It was him. My top bunk occupant. I know that. He asked for a pencil sharpener before I sang his goodnight song.

You must have a conversation about how there’s a better way to dispose of these at night.

Then, I paused.

Pages and pages of his drawings.

His comics.

His self-illustrated fiction stories.

His desire to be a video game designer.

That was how he spent first grade. There are piles of these works and pieces strewn about his desk and bedroom. At first glance, it appears to be messy chaos. When I look deeper, I see a collection of carefully created art work.

He cradled a stack of multi-colored papers and a sketchbook under his arm as he climbed into bed. Balancing up the ladder with the free arm, careful not to drop his blank canvases.

I didn’t pay much attention at the time. No, bedtime is a circus, and I am usually struggling to stay afloat and keep them moving through the routine. Wrangling them from balls of energy running circles around me, to bouncy balls instructed to stay in their beds, and finally to restful angels with black eyelashes dusting their faces, restful, recharging, asleep.

He must have been furiously drawing to gather that many shavings. The artist in front of my eyes slowly morphs from a sweet-faced seven year old into a serious and focused artist.

When he made his way down from his top bunk and into the living room, he was clutching his sketchbook.

“Mommy? Remember when we were, um, watching, that behind the scenes of Inside Out last night? Well, I was wondering, what do you think, which one of these is better?”

He opened his sketchbook to two different pages with sunsets.

“I like them both. One is more realistic and one is more abstract,” I replied.

Beaming, he nodded, “That’s what I was doing!”

This is a passion. He is a creator. He possesses an artist’s soul. From drawing, to sewing, to beadwork, to building legos, to playing piano. Art is always flowing from his small fingertips and into the world. I watch my hyper flips on the couch can’t sit down during dinner little boy, transform into a focused diligent quiet young man.

He sat through an hour of interviews at the end of Inside Out learning how they developed the film. Just listening to these professional break down their artistic process. A seven year old was as enthralled with this process as he was the actual film.

“When I grow up, I am going to work for Pixar!”

The shavings can stay. The shavings will go unmentioned. I will simply vacuum them up, on my own time. Keeping any seeds of doubt or hesitation away from him. Embracing his artistic collateral damage.

 

 

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It’s here. The options for escape, narrow and tough to find. They vanished quickly if you were not fast enough. We will be swarmed relentlessly. Surrounded and closed in. Minutes seem like hours. Hours seem like days.

Summer break.

At the beginning we were bright eyed and bushy tailed. Naïveté. Sweet, foolish lady. We had plans and activities. So much room for activities. By the end, our reserves are depleted, we are weary.

May and June are filled with excitement. The finish line is here. No more lunches or homework or rushing out the door or calls from school nurses or pickups or drop-offs or projects. Freedom!

You have so many plans. You have events around your town bookmarked on your phone. ‘Top Twenty Things to Do with Your Kids this Summer!’ Kid’s painting on the promenade. Movies in the park. Museum events. Play dates. Squirt gun painting. Festivals all over your state. Blueberry picking, we are going to pick and eat blueberries.

A month goes by. We’re fine. We can do this. We aren’t that tired, yet. Surely, they’ll wear themselves out. How many times can they say “I’m bored?” How many YouTube videos of people opening toys can they watch?” We learn, there is no cap on these. How many times can they fight over the same toy? There is a whole room of toys. This is just a phase, an adjustment period.

Museum and zoo and beach trips will cure these issues. Adventure is out there! We’re going to explore the whole damn city.

We cover so much ground, it’s exhausting. We’re all sick of outings and adventures. It’s hot. They make us carry so many bags. So much sweat.

Ah, the sweet relief of escape. A three-week summer camp. Our break is well deserved, we are superstar moms. We imagine days of lounging quietly on the couch, eating grapes, watching shows. Out of the corner of our eye, we see it. An overflowing sink of dishes. Plans for sitting around flow down the drain. Collapsing on the couch again. Sweet relaxation. Small underwear on the couch, entangles on our feet. The sigh, and up we get, to gather up all the summer sweat laundry.

There is no relaxation.

Summer camp ends, wide eyed, we look around, “oh wait, me? I am in charge again? ALL day? And night! Ok, I can do this…Yes….Right?”

How many slime projects can one mom withstand?

How many smears of peanut butter can one mom find on her couch. The answer? It’s somewhere in the double digits.

How many “watch this moms?” can a mom’s eyes fixate on? “Wow the twentieth flip was as awesome as the first!”

How many fights can one mom referee before she lacks empathy entirely? “Figure it out kids, problem solve!”

Then the summer storms come. You’re all locked inside, together, boundless energy contained. It’s a powder keg. We start to panic. They sing their chorus of “mom mom mom mom mom mom mom mom” until we have to look in the mirror, checking for bleeding ears. They’re blood free, shockingly.

“Devices! The lot of you! Mommy needs a minute!”

We wonder, is there such a thing as too much family time?

Then you spot it, one leaf, tinged orange or red, just a small piece of it. Fall is approaching, we think or hope. Back-to-school ads pop up left and right, confirming your hypothesis, they will head back soon. The finish line is within eyesight.

We pause, slow motion amongst the chaos of messy floors, couch cushions disrupted, underwear left on lampshades and uncapped markers on carpets. The kids never stop moving or growing. Growing? They’ve grown so much this summer. Nothing fits, they’re bigger and a little older looking. Our hearts ache, our babies are another school year older. We interrupt their summer shenanigans and hug them close.

“Don’t grow! Don’t go!”

“Mommy, you’re weird.”

A burst of energy flows through us. Feeling desperate to keep them this little for another week or two.

“Hey, did you guys want to go to the spray park? A picnic outside? Sandwiches for dinner? Water gun fight, sure!”

Don’t go! We long for Fall to take its time arriving.

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My sister-in-law gave me the sign pictured here for my birthday this year. Today, I found myself thinking about the quote, and how much I feel pulled to it today. I may not be able to single-handedly write the world into saving itself, but I will share my stories, and try my hardest to affect change when and where I can.

Yesterday my son was involved in a bomb threat. My six year old son was at his school, ready to participate in his after school club when some maniac called in a bomb threat. Right now, his school educates children pre-k through eighth grade. Someone wanted to harm, scare, evoke terror, and cause chaos for children that young. Let that sink in. The targets of this terror were small children just trying to learn and play.

I walk to pick him up every day. Yesterday, I took my time walking there with my two year old. I was working on teaching him how to stop at every parking garage and intersection. I turned it into a game. We were having fun. Completely unaware what was going on. As we walked down the stairs to the park near the school, I noticed fire trucks and commotion. I truly thought it had something to do with the construction site nearby. We started to walk by it, to get to the school. Two firefighters stopped me and told me I had to go around through the park. As we turned around, I overheard two other adults say the name of my son’s school and that it had been evacuated. This stopped me in my tracks. Things slowed down a little for me. I scooped up my little one and approached a fireman. He did not have a lot of info to give me. I asked him to please ask if there was someone who could come speak with me. I needed to get to my child.

It felt as if I stood there forever. I am sure less time passed than I think. I did my best to one hand text my husband and mom. He called me to get more details and let me know he was on his way. Another fireman came and spoke with me. I again explained my child had been in that building and I needed to know what was going on and where I could find him. He said they had been talking to the head of the school, and that the kids were sent to two different locations. He would try to see if he could get any information on what kids went where. I stopped him one more time and asked him to tell me what was going on. Why this was all happening. He turned and looked at me, he was silent for a second, then quietly said “There was a bomb threat.” I can tell you, even typing that right now brings a lump to my throat. I know my heart sank. I remember I exhaled a large amount of air as my body sank a little. I rolled my head to one side. That feeling of exasperation. I was still holding my youngest son. I did not ask any more questions at that moment. He probably should not have told me what he did, and in my brain, even in the chaos, I knew that. I think he looked at me and saw a scared mom holding another child, then he did the human thing and told me. He walked off to go investigate further. Then a lieutenant walked up and asked the parents gathered there “who is missing a child?” I raised my hand. There is that lump again. I was missing my child. He then asked each parent who raised a hand how many children they were missing. He rushed off to speak to other officials. When he came back he gave me the best information he could. The children were in two locations, but he had no way of knowing which location each child was sent to. He gave me the two spots. One was across the park, it was the closest and I started there. My son had on a bright orange shirt. It is Spirit Week and it was Athletic Clothing Day. As I began to walk across the park I saw a bright orange spot. I knew it was him! Then I saw his after school club instructor. I did not run or act scared. I continued to calmly walk up to him and said hi with a smile on my face. I was not sure how much information anyone had, especially the kids. I saw some other parents. I shared with them what the fireman had shared with me.

My son had nothing with him, of course. They left everything and just evacuated the building. The school completely evacuated in under three minutes. This was during after school activities, meaning staff and students were all over the place and not in normal situations, they were still able to get every human out incredibly quick. After we stood around for a while and I spoke to some other parents and faculty, I decided we were not going to stand around and wait for an all clear to retrieve his bag. Meanwhile, my husband had immediately jumped in a cab to get to us as fast as he could. As we walked away he arrived. We then ran into two other families we know. We took all the kids for ice cream and really had a nice time. Some calm after the storm.

When I got home and called my mom to update her I started telling her the story and I broke down. The panic had remained at bay, allowing me to function and keep my children safe. As we chatted, it suddenly came to the surface. The tears came flowing and I choked up as I tried to tell her all the details.

After the phone call, I sat down on the couch but I could not stop shaking. We started to talk to our son about what happened, the truth behind the sudden emergency. We did not want him to go to school today and overhear the word bomb, not knowing what he had really been involved with. He explained to us what happened when the alarms went off. How they did not take the elevator, they took the stairs. The stairs they took were “different and we left the building in a secret exit.” He said all the children were screaming, including him, on the way down the stairs. An hour later at the dinner table he brought it up again, telling us how he was feeling. He said he could not stop thinking about it. We answered his questions and reassured him again he was brave and we were so proud that he listened to his teachers. Everyone did an amazing job staying safe. He was safe and the school, police, and fire departments were making sure everything was ok.

I ordered him new shoes recently. The packages arrived yesterday afternoon. As I unpacked the new shoes last night, I paused for a moment. I looked at the shoes and thought about how if this had not been a threat, had it been real, and ended in pure tragedy, that I would have opened those boxes of shoes for a child that I may have lost. We do not always think about those small details in life. A new pair of shoes is just something that is needed or something that is fun. Not every threat ends with an all clear. There are parents who had new things for their child, and that child never came home. It makes me sick. It breaks my heart.

I am so angry today. I am angry that my child and all the other children had to experience this. I am angry that someone caused terror and chaos for families. I am angry that this is the world we live in. I am angry that my panic after getting home was not misplaced, because every day you see headlines about threats being followed through and people losing children and loved ones.

The other side of that anger is pure gratitude. I am thankful that it was a threat and my child got to sleep in his bed last night. I am thankful for the teachers, staff, and administrators who care for our children and do their best to keep them safe. I am thankful to all the firemen I spoke to. I am thankful to the fireman who told me what was really going on. I am thankful to the fireman who took the time to ask how many children each parent was missing. I am thankful to the police department who searched the building, are investigating this, and have been there today to keep an eye on the area. I am thankful to my mom who told me it was one hundred percent ok to breakdown once I got us home safely. I am thankful for the friends we grabbed ice cream with, helping us all return to a bit normalcy so quickly.

I sent him to school today. I even chaperoned a field study. The day progressed as usual. I overheard some children buzzing a bit about what happened yesterday. This did not stop us though. The kids are learning and laughing today. We are not being oppressed by the fear this horrible person tried to create. To say this is not in the back of my mind would be a lie. It is still there. I did overthink while in the shower this morning, wishing I could keep him home. I know that would not help him get over what he went through, it is just my maternal instinct to keep my children as safely close to me as I can. While this story may not save civilization from destroying itself, it is our story. It happened. It happens every day around the world, too often on a much more tragic scale. There is a human side to these events. There are new pairs of shoes waiting to be worn when a child arrives home safely from school.

 

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Last week I was lucky enough to be accepted as a RedTri Spoke Contributor! I am so excited about this opportunity to share my voice in their community.

In Defense of Downsizing takes a look at what happens when you look into your heart and family and make choices based on the answers you find. I explain our journey to living with less space and more time together.

I hope to remain active in this contributor community. I will always share with you whatever work I am fortunate enough to submit and have published.

Do you have any pieces that have been published on different sites, blogs, communities? Share your links below!

I have had anxiety for most of my life. Now that I am in my 30’s and have a full understanding of anxiety, looking back, I can see that I have always had it. It comes and goes. Sometimes it is hibernating and other times it has been awake and in control. In the last few months it has been pretty prevalent. There are a variety of reasons I think it has decided to hang out for a while, which would take a few blog posts to dive into, so we will leave it there. What I want to talk about is the fact that I decided to see a therapist recently. This was a hard decision for me, as I always thought I could manage things myself. I have ways of coping and handling it. Exercise, deep breathing, baths, oils, acupuncture, etc. Those coping mechanisms haven’t been as effective lately. This time around I think I need a little extra help. It is what it is. It was a big step and I wasn’t excited to go, but I went.

It was awful. Worse than I could have predicted, if I am being honest. And I wasn’t thrilled to go, so imagine how bad that means. The doctor pulled out her phone at one point and started scrolling through it as I spoke. For an extended period of time. She offered no reason as to why. It wasn’t taking notes, she had paper and a pen for that. At the beginning she asked if I wanted medication. I said I truly would prefer to avoid any medication. I wanted to work through things in a more natural way. At the end of the session she wrote me a prescription and spent 10 minutes talking about her medication plan for me. She told me to take probiotics and not eat sugar. I do both of those. For many YEARS! She told me she couldn’t help me and wrote down some other places and told me to go there. Then check in with her in six weeks. She kept rubbing a strand of hair all over her chin. She charged me $500 and doesn’t take insurance.

Those things were minor compared to the absolute worst part. I was explaining the stressors of motherhood to her. Or at least the stressors I have been dealing with. From Alex’s food allergies to Jackson’s animal allergies and asthma to terrible two’s to whatever else was on my mind at that moment. Motherhood is hard. I am a stay at home mom. I have been doing this for six years. She told me “some people just aren’t cut out for that. Get a sitter 3 times a week for 3 hours at a time and get someone to do your laundry and stuff.” I felt as if I had been slapped in the face. I am not “cut out” to be the very thing I have been pouring every fiber of my being into for the last six years. It was so dismissive and really kind of cruel to say after meeting me once. I felt like total garbage as I left. I felt a million times worse than when I walked in the door, biting my nails and clutching my tea as my anxiety over trying this out punched me in the chest.

Being an anxious person, I have been repeating her comments over and over in my head since leaving that office. She didn’t listen to what I wanted for myself. She told me she couldn’t (or didnt want to?) help me. She was literally on her phone, which you would think that as a professional trying to help someone with anxiety, you wouldn’t do that to a patient. She told me I was not cut out to be a mom. She told me I wasn’t cut out to do the thing I have dedicated my life to. I just cannot believe that seemed like an appropriate thing to say.

As this has flipped and flopped over in my brain, I have used it as a moment of self-reflection. I am not a perfect mom. Not in the least bit. I lose my temper at times. We all do, even if we don’t post about it. I feel bad when I do. I wonder if I am messing them up. I try though. I spend all day with them and doing things for and with them, thinking about them. Last night my oldest woke up with a 105 degree fever. I massaged his legs until he relaxed as he laid next to me in bed. I put a cool rag on his head. I let him physically lay all over me because it made him feel safe. I have changed poop diapers today. I walked to Target with both boys so the oldest, who feels better, could buy Pokemon Cards and then made a video for Youtube opening them. (It’s all the rage) I have broken up fights today. I have asked them to stop slamming the playroom door, and it has fallen on four deaf ears. I have made meals. I have gotten snacks. I have listened and chatted with them. I have taken interest in their interests. I have been in the trenches all day on little sleep. And that is just today!

Walking home with them I came to a realization. I AM cut out for this. I am because I have been doing it for six years nonstop. The longest break I had kid-free was going to D.C. with my mom this January for the Women’s March. I was gone from Thursday-Sunday. That was the most time I have had off from motherhood. I still thought of them. I facetimed them. I searched for little gifts for them. I talked about them. They are always with me. I am cut out for it. I am also perhaps, a little burnt out. Which I don’t think is weakness or sucking at what I do. I think that is human. I think that is motherhood. I think that is parenthood. Anyone in any career can be working at workaholic levels and get burnt out at some point. Does that mean they are not cut out for it? Does that mean they can’t do what they do? No. Maybe they need a break or to take a step back and refresh themselves, sure. Maybe they need a vacation. It doesn’t mean someone should tell them they are not cut out for what they do. It doesn’t mean a mental health professional should articulate that judgement after meeting them one time.

According to the ADAA 40 million adults in the U.S. have anxiety. Women are two times as likely to suffer from it. This is not an uncommon thing. If women are more likely to struggle with anxiety, then that would mean, many mothers also battle this. I am not some unique special case. It doesn’t mean I am not cut out to be a mom. The fact that I was brave enough to know when my own methods of coping were no longer effective means that I want to take care of my family. That was one of the most unfair and hurtful judgements I have ever had thrown at me. It could probably go unsaid, but I will not be seeing her again. Just knowing that I am not the only woman, and mom, facing anxiety is comforting. I share my little story so that other mothers know, you are cut out for motherhood, even if on your worst day ever some batty lady tells you that you’re not.

 

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I have been a mom for just shy of six years now. By just shy, I mean six years ago today I started going into labor. Tomorrow will officially be six years. I have learned, grown, changed, and loved a lot in these last years. These are some of the things six years of motherhood has taught me.

That I want my children to grow up in a world that values love, kindness, equality, social justice, empathy, and generosity. It can feel like an uphill battle some days. When everything around you seems filled with ugliness and hate. That doesn’t mean that I will stop wanting them to live in that kind of world. I will always strive and fight to shape that kind of world for them. I will send them out into the world with those values, hoping they too will be agents of them. 

Perfectionism is a nuisance. You cannot control everything at every moment. Life and children are unpredictable and sometimes you have to let more shit go than you care to. I cleaned up the whole kitchen and living room on Wednesday. Spotless! By that evening they had scattered toys all over the kitchen floor. They are still there. I sighed as I walked by them to start writing this. At some point I will get to it, but I am sure when I turn back around, they will have recreated the same mess. You have to let it go. 

Humility. You are not above wiping a poop covered butt (and even back, cause that shit, haha, can and does get everywhere) You will find yourself in the middle of situations you never thought you would be in. Being urinated on. Catching vomit in your hands. Getting poop under your fingernail. Changing a diaper in the trunk of your SUV in the parking lot of a pumpkin farm. Wiping up a half spilled grande pike roast from the floor of Whole Foods that your two year old knocked over when he moved your cart as you were trying to pick up the box of his minecraft figurines he dropped everywhere. So now you have minecraft toys, a box, and a giant puddle of steaming hot coffee all over the grocery store floor. These things happen on the regular. Stay humble folks, there is no prize for being prideful. You will be wiping up floor coffee in public. Or your own version of that scenario. 

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Generosity. Be as generous as you humanly can. With your love and praise for your tiny humans. With your family. With your neighbors. With complete strangers. I have seen it pay off in these last 6 years. My almost 6 year old has started random acts of kindness. He has asked me why I buy coffee for the car behind me. Why I roll down my window and hand cash to the homeless man with the sign on the street. I explain why in detail. This week at school he brought his Pokecards. Some friends didn’t have any and wanted them. He was planning on trading with another kid. He did. Then he gave out cards to his friends that did not have any. Just because he wanted to, because they wanted some cards too. He received nothing in return. Save for my adoration and praise when he told me the story.

Selflessness. You have to give so much of yourself when you are a parent. At least you are supposed to. We all do things differently. I give a lot. It can be exhausting, but then I think about how if I did things differently. If I wasn’t around to give them 200% of myself and then another piece just to be nice. I would not feel right. I want to be around and be the face in their memories when they look back at their childhood. When it all clicks about the magical times, the birthdays, the random normal days, the dinners, the laundry, the hugs, the books, the kisses, the songs, the errands, the treats, the love. You learn to put other people ahead of yourself. Which can be a hard thing to learn to do.

On that note, you also need to take care of yourself. Self-care is crucial. A trip to D.C. to march for yourself and fellow humans. A epsom salt bath. And yes, lock the damn bathroom door. Pilates in the morning. Putting them to bed a half hour early because they are bat-shit crazy that night. Ordering dinner, even though you have things to cook, they wore you out and you just don’t feel like cooking that night. Order that pizza, and bask in the glory of little to no cleanup. Self-care can be huge things, like 4 day trips, or they can be tiny little minutes throughout the day, locking yourself in the bathroom for 5 minutes. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

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Love. True unconditional heart growing mind blowing all consuming love. It is a love like I have never experienced. Sometimes I watch their faces and I literally feel like my heart might explode with joy. Sometimes I still look at them and think “they are mine! How is that possible? How did I create these two super cool humans?” It still takes my breath away, that I get to have these two dudes in my life. I am not sure I will ever quite get over that. It is amazing.

The value of words. We talk through things a lot here. Taking time to use your words to explain things to your children will really strengthen their understanding of life. Even if you don’t feel it is sinking in in the moment. They absorb these life lessons and they take them out into the world. I tell my boys “everyone is different.” When they have questions about why someone does something differently than we do. I always explain it as best as I can, then sum it up with “that is ok because everyone is different.” When the oldest was four, some kids at school hassled him because he doesn’t like ketchup and wouldn’t eat it. He got frustrated and finally told me that he said “I don’t like it and that is ok, because everyone is different.” Words matter. Words sink in. Talking through things sinks in. They are very intelligent.

To say sorry. I am a firm believer in apologizing to them. Sometimes moms lose their shit. We do. If you say you don’t, you’re lying, sorry. It comes in different forms for each person, but we all get pushed too far sometimes. If I feel guilty that I snapped on them or was short, or yelled over something totally stupid, I will go and talk to them and say I am sorry. This is not every time they get in trouble. Sometimes they do naughty things and they have to be reprimanded. But I can feel it in my heart when I know it was more me than them. Then I do go say sorry. The oldest and I can have real conversations about human emotions at this point, and we do. We talk through it. The little one, a hug with kisses and saying “mommy loves you I am sorry” will suffice at this point.

It is ok to talk to children as if they are humans with thought processes and feelings. I try not to baby things down for them too much. I explain things to them. I am not a huge baby talk person. I have always interacted with them as the red blooded people they are. I think this has shaped them for the better. I can see it in the oldest. He has a grasp on reality. The things he can discuss blow me away sometimes. I encourage him to think through his thought process. I can explain something and then ask him what he thinks/feels/wants from that situation. I have explained to him what is happening if I think he feels anxious. I explained homelessness to him. We have had conversations about dissent. We talk about body autonomy and consent. They know the actual names of genitals. My motto is if I keep that conversation going and trust them with actual knowledge that it will pay off down the road as life gets messier.

Sometimes we cannot do it all. We just can’t. It’s a fact. We want to. We feel we need to. This leads to being burnt out. I know, I have been there. Sometimes you have to take a step back and delete some shit from your life and schedule. Sometimes you have to say no we are not going to do that. Today we are going to be lazy and relax and enjoy one another. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to just be. As a family. I am still working on this. I am not great at taking things off of my plate. It is a work in progress.

Children love their mother so much. Sometimes I can feel their love radiating off of their little bodies. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes moms just need no one to touch them for, maybe, 2 minutes. That would be nice. Then you hear their little tiny human voices saying “mommy” and they just want to nuzzle in and you realize how very loved you actually are.

My favorite most calming thing in the world is when either boy hugs me and snuggles in to the right side of my neck. I call that “the good stuff” and love when they hug me tight, their little cheek against my neck. That is my calm. That is my heart. That is my motherhood.

I am not a perfect mom. I feel like I am failing a lot. I am hard on myself. I always think I can do better (I should reread that perfectionism paragraph, huh?) I am just being honest here. I do know that I have grown so much since having children. I have become a better person and woman because of them. They have shown me where my heart actually resides. They have made me cry. They have made me laugh. They have made me angry. They have made me insanely happy. They have made me stronger. I am thankful for these last six years. I feel lucky that I get to take this journey with them. Even as I shouted to my husband last night “You are getting a vasectomy!!! I do NOT want a third baby, they are crazy right now!” Yes, they were being insane. Fighting over Mario toys, tears and yelling, all as I was trying to make their dinner plates. No one could eat until the fight was resolved. It was ridiculous. It was so loud. It was frustrating. It was all mine. My crazy, loving, obnoxious, kind, silly, frustrating, kind, hilarious, adoring, and imperfectly perfect family.

I am looking forward to where the next six years of this journey takes me. Thank you boys. Thank you Jackson for making me a mommy. Happy start of labor day my sweet boy.

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My five year old is sick. Again. Such is life during cold and flu season for us. He has asthma, and subsequently he is very susceptible to all sorts of respiratory viruses. I have been begging him to nap all day. Five year olds do NOT like to nap. Especially my five year old. I decided to look for something to make to help him. I was browsing one of my favorite essential oil sites, and was inspired by them. Eden’s Garden. They have a line specifically designed for tiny humans. I may have bought every single oil in their line (so thankful for that this afternoon) They have a recipe for a sleepy time sachet. Using their sleepy time oil. I altered it a little bit, because I had different materials available.

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DIY Kids Sleep Sachet

Amount of rice/lavender will vary based on the size of you sachet. I happen to have a stock of muslin sachets in my herbs cabinet. For instructions on how to sew your own, you can refer to Eden’s Garden.

1 muslin sachet/bag

Handful of rice. I used brown rice, because that is what we have

Scoop of dried lavender

10-15 drops of Eden’s Garden Sleepy Time essential oil

Combine all of the ingredients in a zip baggie. Shake and mix well. Shake shake shake!

Pour the contents into the muslin bag. You can use a funnel if desired. I did not, I just kind of created a funnel with the zip bag.

Tied the muslin bag several times. I did 3 ties. Also, if you have smaller children who like to be adventurous coughcoughalexcoughcough you could sew this bag at the top as well.

This took  me a whopping 5 minutes to whip up. Most of my time was spent taking the photos. If you’re not photographing for your blog post, then the time should be even less! I did not heat this in the microwave, the scent was strong enough for me after I got it tied up. But Eden’s Garden does note you can warm it as well as warming it if the scent seems to be fading. It is reusable in the sense that you can also add more oil to it as the scent fades. Reusable and lovely smelling? Count me in!

He is not asleep in that photo. He was just looking down, but anything to help him relax. I am hopeful at some point he will doze off, even for a little while. If not, this will at least promote relaxation in general and his body can calm down. I will transfer this to his bed tonight for actual sleepy time.

Over the last almost 6 years (quietly sobs), I have often been asked the question “how do you keep your workout routine with kids?” This post does not have a one size fits all answer. Because life is not one size fits all. Hell, even my little world isn’t always the same size. Some days work better than others.

A normal day consists of me waking up at 5am on the dot, coffee, then a workout. My workouts vary between Pilates, running, swimming, strength/weight training. On Saturdays I do karate, outside of the house. It gives me an hour guaranteed to myself. By waking up at 5 on weekdays, I ensure that I am up way before my boys (I have late sleepers, I know I am lucky with that) and I am able to usually get an uninterrupted workout in. This wasn’t always the case when they were shiny newborn humans, but as they age, their sleep normalizes.

There are mornings where littles wake up earlier than usual and I have a workout buddy. At this point, Jackson, the 5 year old, can pretty much fend for himself. Sometimes he joins me, sometimes he wanders around the house entertaining himself. Alex, well he is 2 so I keep him with me if he is up. In general, that is how I balance it. They have learned that mommy works out. It is just a simple fact of life here. They have to respect that time for me. I am happy to include them, but I am going to workout. There is no parent guilt in that either. We need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others. You are important too. I am a firm believer in that!

I have been sick for over 2 weeks now. A cold that turned into a nasty sinus infection. I am on the mend. Due to some amazing herbal tea and a black walnut nasal rinse. When I woke up at 5 today I decided I wanted to run. I haven’t ran in over 2 weeks. I couldn’t bring myself to hop on the treadmill. I have a love/(mostly) hate relationship with the treadmill. I decided I would get Jackson off to school and then go running in the forest preserve with Alex. I had EVERYTHING situated to operate smoothly. I spent the time I would usually be working out getting everything together. I even filled the tires on my BoB while Jackson ate his breakfast. I was ready to do this.

Then we were in the drop off line at school. I asked Jackson where his backpack was. It was still at home by the backdoor. He forgot to grab it. School on a good day is 10-15 minutes away. The main road we take is currently under construction. It can now take 20-30. This morning was on the longer end. Meaning now my run was going to be pushed back significantly, maybe canceled all together. I had to drop him off. Then drive home, grab bag, drive back, then hike it back to the forest preserve. That is how today’s workout started. See, not even my days are always one size fits all.

I did all of that. In a little less time than I had predicted. There was less traffic on my second drive to school because it was a bit later in the morning. Some of the work rush was gone. When I realized this I thought “Ok, you can do this. This is working out fine.”

The run started off ok. Not great, but manageable. He complained for the first 5 minutes that he wanted to walk, but eventually I was able to persuade him to stay seated. He had his ipad, snacks, milk, and box (it is a small house he carries everywhere that is filled with his favorite toys. He even sleeps with it). Around the 1.8 mile mark again he asked to walk. We were nearing the park, so I lamented that he stay seated for just a little while longer, we would be at the park soon!

I am a momma of my word, so freedom he had! He enjoyed himself for a bit. Then said he wanted to walk. Refusing to get back into the stroller. No matter how many times I said the word iPad. Which, I suppose is a good thing. But I digress.

There is no running when you are walking with a wandering two year old. I had about 2 miles of actual running under my belt. And about 2 miles to get back to the car. The real adventure began. He had me wander up this cool tree house pavilion area we had never walked up before. I followed his lead.

He is my wild child. My wanderer. My very free spirit. My mischievous little dude. Jackson is a free spirit in many ways. He also has his moments as a 5 year old seeking independence yet still utterly reliant on our constant attention. He has that internal battle going on right now. Such is life at 5, nearly 6. When Jackson was 2, he was not quite so independent. We went on runs all of the time. I cannot recall any specific times he ended up walking. I remember once when he was an infant and I ended up carrying a crying baby home. For the most part, he always stayed put, very content. Alex is a whole different person. He seeks adventure and his curiosity is overwhelming. He has no fear. (unless it is Halloween decorations or the movie Ghostbusters) He didn’t want to stay with me. I tried the trick, “ok mommy is leaving, bye bye!” And I started to stroll away. HE LAUGHED AND THEN STARTED TO WALK INTO THE WOODS! He cares not for my silly bluffs. He knows I am not leaving him alone in a forest. Sigh, he won.

My 4 mile run today turned into a 2 mile run. With a lot of toddler walking. And a nice maybe half mile sprint at the end when I finally got him back in the stroller. Then we headed home. It was after 11am. I had wanted to be home around 10ish. But all of my plans fell apart one by one. I adapted. I didn’t forget to stretch, despite the late time. We headed up to my Pilates Room. I am getting too old to not get a post run stretch in. That shit is for 20 year olds, not women who have had two kids and turned 31 almost 6 months ago. We better stretch our muscles and cool down, lest we want to regret it later.

Which really made my entire chaotic morning worth it. That photo on the right. I can’t! My timing just worked out perfectly. The milk swan. I will be incorporating it into all of my future mat classes! Ha!

The takeaway here? The insightful lesson I wish to impart on all parents looking for a way to stay fit and have tiny humans running around your feet (literally)?

FLEXIBILITY! I don’t mean in the backbend sense. I mean in the life sense. You have to be flexible with yourself and your schedule. You have to be flexible with your children. You have to adapt to your surroundings. If that means that you only run 2 miles, but get a nice 2 mile walk/cool down in, then shit, at least you were moving! You moved 4 miles on your own two legs. Your kid was moving on his legs too! I even threw in a few walking lunges while pushing the empty stroller. Alex stopped in his tracks and laughed, but hey, you are the reason I am doing these buddy. 😉 Get back in the stroller and I won’t look so silly!

But seriously, sometimes you have to workout with your kids around. Squats in the living room. Pull-ups on the play ground. Pilates at 5:45 am and saying “hey sweetheart, sure join me,” when a tiny human waltzes in at 6:15. Sometimes your run gets pushed back by a good 30-45 minutes because of a forgotten backpack. I was annoyed, but hey, I survived and I ran! Shower was later, lunch was later, but I got that milk swan photo, so life works out sometimes.

For more Pilates and Fitmommaboom inspiration, follow me on Instagram Colev25 You can find frequent Pilates videos, my often self deprecating humor, adventures with two male tiny humans, and any other random things that inspire me to hit share.

Every year my husband and I usually end up watching the anniversary coverage of 9/11 in some capacity. The news, specials, documentaries, etc. I think that the events of that day impacted us equally as teenagers. We didn’t know one another then, but we both lived through that devastating moment in our nation’s history. I can close my eyes and still picture that day with such clarity. I can come close to remembering every moment, like a slideshow in my mind. I can channel the intense and fluid emotions I had that day. I have shed many tears over the years for the pain and suffering everyone involved and impacted has and will continue to go through.

This year I am taking great pains to keep the television off. A few weeks ago I was on a run/walk with my boys. The oldest is five and a half, so he is not in the jogger, which is why we take a lot of walking breaks. There was a plane flying low over the forest preserve. It was making that distinct landing sound that planes are wont to make. He said “I think that plane is crashing.” I assured him it was not crashing, it was just getting ready to land.

He followed that up with a statement that shook me to my core. “You know that there were planes that flew into buildings? Like an office building. There were people on them. It’s burned into my memory.” Let me repeat his age, he is 5 & 1/2! I stopped in my tacks and gathered my thoughts as quickly as I could. I decided to be a bit transparent and admitted that was true. That did happen. However, it was a very long time ago and it is not something he needs to worry about now. I lied a bit with that last part. The world is arguably less safe now. We have been in kind of a downward spiral of chaos lately. I wasn’t ready to crush his innocence just yet. I wasn’t ready for him to worry about the kinds of things I take into consideration. He is 5. There is plenty of time for him to have a broken heart over another mass shooting or intentional plane crash, but that time is not this year.

Since that day I have pretty much stopped watching the news around him. Which is odd for me, because I am a news/politics nerd. It wasn’t as difficult as I would have imagined though. That momma bear instinct kicked in and I simply didn’t want to expose him to more frightening events if I could avoid it.

So today, the tv will stay off. Unless they happen to get to watch a cartoon. I will also probably try to shield him seeing any social media I am on. He can’t read 100% yet, but he is starting to read. He has some sight words. And then there are the images, those are not something you can hope that your early reader doesn’t grasp. Because our walk in the forest preserve taught me that my five year old understands some pretty scary and heartbreaking things that have gone on in this world. Today, I will try to keep him oblivious a little bit longer. Today I will try to keep him little for one more year. Today I will try to keep the light in the world aglow for him.

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