finding myself, home, kids, mindfulness, moving on, self worth, sticky floors, Uncategorized

Moms Have Messy Floors and Messy Lives

My house is a constantly evolving mess. It’s everywhere. My kids have numerous chores that they begrudgingly do, but it is still a hot mess.

Class papers threaten to multiply and take over every flat surface in my house (I attempt to combine them so that there is only one large stack every couple of hours). There are dirty socks that coat my floors, stripped off in sock balls and thrown down wherever they are taken off. Cups half full of water sit everywhere in my house, making me wonder how many each child uses a day. Toilet seats always sport sprinkles and there is never a day where gloops of toothpaste aren’t cemented to each sink throughout the house. Dirty dishes? I’ve got them ten fold, even after we have mostly switched to paper plates!

Some days, I tackle the clutter but then the underlying dirtiness shines through. There is insidious dirt that lives at my sliding door, dragged in from the outside, deposited on the hardwoods and then spread by stocking feet throughout the house. One minute vacuumed, the next a hopeless of mess of backyard debris. The slider is our link to the backyard, even though I had another door installed off the mudroom with the intention of it being the outside egress, the slider gets all the attention.

It’s a constant battle with nature, the tendency for things to go towards chaos. The threatening of nature always trying to return to its primitive state.

Maybe this is why I watch so many home improvement shows with there updated and serene spaces. I understand that they are “made for TV” houses. That fact is not lost on me. They are completely staged. Once the show is over, the furniture and nick nacks are removed and the families move in, their mismatched possessions take over and from there disorder ensues. There is something about those houses, though, that is so clean and stripped of mess, with so much promise for an ordered life. I can just imagine what it would be like to live in those spaces, anxiety and stress lowered.

My house is a tragic mess lately. Two months ago, I switched our house cleaners from every other week to once a month. Last month, I stopped the cleaners all together. Quite honestly, cleaners are expensive and they were just too much for my budget. Imagine cleaning your house but then multiply the number of people in your house by two to three, add one shedding dog and any number of child playmates. At any time, our small house could be harboring 5-9 kids, all with their own appropriate age toy mess and food crumbs. The sheer number of kids and friends is something that I would never want to give up. Don’t get me wrong, I love their craziness. Cleaning up after kids though, is a full time job. Cleaning up after all of my kids is a high paced marathon with absolutely no finish line. Someone once said that cleaning with kids is like trying to “brush your teeth while eating an Oreo.” So true.

Lately, it seems like I am trying even harder, but still getting nowhere in the battle.   My home reflects my state of mind. Right now, my house is out of control and a mess, just like my life. It’s like a tornado and it sucks to live in it. I can fix it up with the illusion of “put away-ness”, but if you look closely, stuff is hidden in dark closets here, always ready to spill out.

This morning as I was cleaning up my umpteenth dirty dock I got to thinking about the sayings “Excuse the mess. My children are making memories” and my other favorite, “Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens and happy kids”. I think that I use these sayings as a scapegoat for my inability to keep a tidy house. First and foremost though, let me get this straight with all of you… I have never had a clean oven. Let’s get that out of the way before I continue. That would be a monumental effort that I am certain I will never get too. My oven regularly sets off the fire alarm with the amount of burn off smoke. True, I have sticky floors because I have so many kids and I just can’t get it all done. Kids spill and in my case, stick stickers to the floor. My kitchen is always messy because I am constantly cycling through meals so that breakfast dishes always get pushed to lunch meal cleanup and then often stretching out until dinner pickup.  It makes me wonder why the open floor plan was such a great… It’s open and people can see the dirty dishes! The piles of laundry are a consequence of at least twelve outfits a day being stripped off onto the floor. Sometimes, I feel like I have become the Old Lady Who Lived In a Shoe. She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.

I hope that I am really not the only one who hides piles of stuff and that we all have sticky floors because we are just really messy. If not, I am pulling out a skeleton in the closet that I am just dirty. I’m guessing, although I can’t be sure, that we are all in the same boat. So why do we stress about getting it clean??!! Why does an unexpected ringing of the door bell strike fear in my heart?

June Cleaver always seemed to have such a clean house. She found time, when not preparing the perfect meal, to sit and enjoy a book (not a trashy tabloid) in a nice armchair with her ankles crossed. She always had on her adorable dress, neatly pressed, and heals, swathed in a lovely apron. The door bell would ring and she would strip out of that apron, poof her perfectly done hair and answer the door with a smile, always ready to bring out a hospitable tray with refreshments. If there was such a thing as a messy bun and yoga pants, do you think that she really would have worn them?!

Ready for this statement though? It might shatter your reality.  Is it possible that it’s all an illusion.  An illusion we (women), buy into even if it’s at an unconscious level? Is it even possible to attain that picturesque life? Maybe I am perpetuating the myth to my children that women can keep a clean house and teach my kids to read before they are two. Can I really always look perfectly put together and never get frazzled? Will my children feel the same when they are grown?

I can get over the not-so perfect clothing I choose or the dust bunnies that are getting bigger each day. My biggest issue is whether my kids are actually happy and if we are making any memories other than them watching TV and doing homework. I wield TV like a treat, an expert babysitter. When not cleaning, I am driving them to their seventeen activities each afternoon and evening? What happened to family board game night and playing pass in the yard? Sometimes, we get outside and they ride bikes or draw with chalk. More likely than not, if I am “participating” in any of these activities, it is in a chair with a glass of wine in my hands, pretending to watch them.  True, I had five kids and this is what I signed up for, but does that mean that I am still working towards making them happy or providing a clean organized house?

I feel guilty that I am not making those great memories with them. Their lives are not easy these days. Try as I might, to shield them from high emotions and changes, they are just as scared of the unknown as I am. I want to give them the order of a tidy house that I/they need to lower their anxiety levels. I want them to feel like even though the world is spinning out of control, at least they have a clean place to live and a pair of beloved pants in the drawer.  Is this what they really need, now or ever? I am wondering if providing this life for them is coming at the cost of not making memories that involve great times with mom.

Maybe cleaning has become just a scapegoat for not spending time, too. There are days when I am so sad or angry that I just don’t want to play. I want to hide at the kitchen sink and wash endless amounts of dishes so that I don’t have to have to play another round of imaginary doctor. “Please play with me?” “Not now, Brody, I have to finish the laundry.” Isn’t this selfish? A big chunk of me feels it is.

I think it really all comes back to the fact that I am beating myself up for not living up to all that I feel like I should be, something I have always done but now in increasing levels since my separation. Weighing on my mind… my marriage is a big fail, so I am a big fail. Not only am I not keeping up in the marriage department, but I am failing on the mom and house cleaning level. I am just failing.

Somebody let me off the hook! Give me the magic pill to take the guilt away and let me realize that, just maybe, I am good enough just the way that I am. Tell me that I am doing the best that I can with the circumstances being what they are. Tell me that someday it will get better, easier. Would hearing it all from you make me feel any better? Probably not.  Sorry.

In reality, all that really needs to happen, is that I need to let myself off the hook.  The biggest problem in this situation is that I am searching for the validation from a place that I really shouldn’t be looking for it, everyone else. Validation needs to lie in me, a belief about myself. It’s all about self worth. Well, there it is. Maybe that is why I am finding peace and relief in this blog. It is making me feel like I can share and be okay with who I am and how I think. I’m out there and people aren’t judging me harshly (at least not to my face) for what I am writing. It’s helping me gain that worth in myself that I really feel like I have always been missing.

In the end, I need to realize that I am doing the best that I can, in this moment. That maybe tomorrow, things will be cleaner and I will find that time to fit in that board game… and just maybe, I need to find a way to get a larger junk closet to hide all the mess!

distraction, finding myself, kids, lists, moving on, self love, self worth, Uncategorized

The Push Me List – 50 Things in 534 Days

I am a list maker. I make copious lists. It has served as a running joke in my house for as long as I can remember doing it. “Better get out the list or you will never remember!” We are leaving for a trip. “Mom, when are you going to make you big list… ha ha ha!” I just shrug and laugh along with them. Secretly thinking, “How about you try packing for 6 people!” Truth is, my family would be lost without them.

There are some things that you should know about my lists. They are as follows:

Ink color is very important. I have to write them in blue pen. I am not comfortable with any other color and my house is flooded with blue pens. Seeing writing in black pen is like hearing nails scraping on a chalkboard for me. I will throw out any color pens that don’t hold the proper color.

Currently, I also have to write my lists on white printer paper. I cannot write on just one. They have to be stacked to provide the perfect cushion for the writing implement. If I can write on the back of a used printer paper, all the better. In the past, I had a composition notebook to keep my lists on. Composition was perfect, no perforated pages that could, by accident, tear out or wire bindings that could get bent. I have to be able to fold the covers over at some point because I don’t like to have a notebook open with two pages showing at a time. If you really break in a composition notebook, you can do that. My lists could run on forever, as long as there was a page to turn, but after years, I found my lists too overwhelming in a notebook. I had endless space and the lists became too long. White printer paper is finite and with a used back, I can’t turn it over and keep writing. Ah, self regulation. I am so smart!

Font, well, with the composition notebook, it was all bubbly cursive quickly scribbled onto the lines. Oh, and the lines had to be WIDE RULED. Printer paper is different… it has to be neat large handwriting, spaced large enough so that if I have to squeeze something in, I can write smaller between the lines. Oh, and each list item must be written parallel to each other… Slanting lines of text drives me nuts.

Now that I have revealed one of my biggest neuroses, I should explore the bigger question… Why do I do it? Why do I write lists? First and foremost, I swear that I have lost more than my fair share of brain cells to Mommy Brain. I am not pregnant, though I have been for a large portion of my life. Like during pregnancy, I forget words during a conversation, put the milk in the pantry and yes… I misplace my lists. I talked with my doctor because I was concerned! Something is wrong with me!!! My daughter laughed and said, “You have five kids. That’s a lot.” Quite honestly, making sure that teeth are brushed, stomachs are full and underwear is changed can be a challenge in the morning… I’ll let you figure out if I’m talking about the kids or myself. I think the act of writing it on paper is putting order into an otherwise very chaotic life. The ship won’t run smoothly unless there is a list.

So, the point of this blog post… (“Get to it, you’re saying!) I am going to push myself with a list, a different type of list. I am writing it on the computer so there isn’t white printer paper. WAY out of my comfort zone. I am not writing it with, dare I say it, blue pen in my straight round print. I have to type it. GOOD GOLLY. I can’t scribble in the margins or watch it every moment to make sure I have gotten done what needs to get done and then crossing off the completed! I am really pushing myself. I am going to look at it each week and decide what is doable for that time period or what I can start working on.

What is this list, you ask??? I want to come up with a to-do list that asks me to do the things that seem impossible or things that I feel like I will never get to in my lifetime. I have learned from my Mom, that life is very short and some things shouldn’t be put off until a diagnosis. I have put myself off for a long time.

I have been busy focusing on other people: kids, my husband, and even fundraising. I have lost all of my own dreams and wishes. My to-do lists are the only things that bring me satisfaction, but it is the satisfaction of getting things done. To keep finding some source of happiness, I have to add more and more things to the to-do list. I could come up with endless amounts of things to put on it.

Wow… that is what it has come to. That’s what makes me happy, to get things done. What does that say about my feelings of self-worth? I have put changing light bulbs in front of myself. Where did I go? What is even sadder is that I don’t find happiness in my own interests. In fact, when I have “alone” time, I’ll pass on it, in order to fold laundry or do returns. I just don’t know what to do with myself.

The list. In order to find myself again, my list asks me to do things that I loved in the past. Maybe I’ll discover myself in there. She must still exist! Some of the items on my list are mundane things but some are far larger and will take some serious effort and planning to accomplish. I am going to sit down each week and schedule myself and the list in. I deserve to be on that to-do list. I am giving myself a time limit, 534 days or a year in a half, to accomplish it. I am asking you to keep me accountable. Don’t let me down here!

MY LIST

  1. Keep a house plant alive for a month (I can grow anything outside but indoors is another story… which is why I love fake houseplants so much!)
  2. Write my blog post six times in a row, every Monday. (If I skip, I have to start over.)
  3. Shower EVERY DAY for a month. Shocking, I know but a girl has to have goals.
  4. Visit the cemetery and towns where my family originated in Canada, preferably with my children.
  5. Run a 5K.
  6. Go to a movie alone. Eat popcorn and sip on wine in a travel coffee mug.
  7. Go for a drive (alone) with the windows wide open (gasp… no AC for the kids) and my hair down. I must sing songs, in appropriate songs of my choosing, at the top of my lungs.
  8. Learn to make merengue cookies.
  9. Go on a horse drawn sleigh ride in the snow with warm blankets and hot cocoa. I haven’t figured out how to carry that cocoa warm and contained… I only like mugs for warm drinks.
  10. Go for a day hike, alone.
  11. Learn to use my DSLR camera on a setting other than automatic.
  12. Put all of my 2012 photos in an album. (I have put all the previous printed years in albums already! Please note… The last 4 plus years are not included in this item.  They were never printed and I have given up them.  Best to start with 2018!)
  13. Go to bed at 9:00 pm every night for a week, leaving 30 minutes for reading… OK, 45 minutes. I can’t go to bed without reading afterall!
  14. Make donuts.
  15. Do a 1500 piece puzzle (used to love doing puzzles).
  16. Take myself on a date to a restaurant and eat alone at the bar. I can talk to strangers near me. I love to strike up conversations with complete strangers…
  17. Go on a girl’s weekend.
  18. Learn how to make homemade buffalo mozzarella and do it.
  19. Try foot reflexology.
  20. Have mole mapping done by a dermatologist.
  21. Become proficient with the sewing machine and make a valance for my downstairs bathroom.
  22. Build a sofa table.
  23. Send a care package to a college baby sitter.
  24. Send a letter to someone and tell him or her how important they are to me.
  25. Make gnocchi.
  26. See a concert.
  27. Read 15 books in 6 months, 2 of which have to be classics I have never read before.
  28. Hike Mt. Washington.
  29. Order pan seared scallops at a seafood restaurant. I normally opt for chicken or burgers (not cooked on the same grill as the fish because the “fishy” taste can be transferred. I inherited a seafood aversion from my mother and my grandmother before her…
  30. Say the rosary.
  31. Use ancestry.com to map the Polish side of my family, all the way back to their immigration from Poland.
  32. Go away for 2 nights to a place I have never been, alone.
  33. Have genetic testing done.
  34. Go to the Brimfield Fair and buy myself some Fireking and Lu Ray.  My Mom and I used to go to flea markets to buy these things when I was a kid.
  35. Make a cheesecake.
  36. Do not use my phone in the car for 2 days.
  37. Play Scrabble, even if it’s by myself.
  38. Actually start the event business that I have wanted to do for years and have one paying client.
  39. Eat lunch, seated on a placemat with a napkin, for a week. The couch does not count as a seat and the TV must not be on.
  40. Go two weeks without ordering take out.
  41. Take a roadtrip with the kids to Charleston, SC.
  42. Research the lost family recipe for “wapshi” (a made up family recipe) and make it…
  43. Have a yard sale.
  44. Grow a cut flower garden.
  45. Visit a salt therapy room.
  46. Go camping… in a tent.
  47. Find and research a new recipe each week.
  48. Drive to Big G’s in Winslow, ME and have a Cindy Blodgett sandwich.
  49. Walk the Freedom Trail.
  50. Play a round of golf (I used to play all the time but stopped after Conor was born… yes, 12 years ago…)
  51. Oh, and one more… finish this list for myself!!!

Off I go on this journey! Putting myself at the top of the list, or for that matter, even on it, is going to be tough, especially since the “writing” portion has already been torture. I’ll let you know how it goes!

home, hygge, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, moving on, self love, Uncategorized

Time to Hygge

I’m a nester.  I am constantly updating what’s around me to make it feel more like a home.  Now, before you make that joke about how I have been pregnant for most of my life… so of course, I nest a lot…hear me out.  Nesting is something I love to do, but also something I feel compelled to do.  If I don’t do it, I feel off somehow.  My space feels uncomfortable. Turns out, the Danish have a word not only for the action of nesting, but also the feeling, in a moment of mindfulness, that nesting gives you… Hygge.  Yup, its a word… How do you pronounce it? Good question.  I was completely wrong.  Take a guess… You’re gonna be wrong too… so I will just tell you…It’s Hoo-gah.

What on Earth is hygge you ask yourself?! Well, it is the feeling that one gets from being surrounded by people and things that bring a warm cozy feeling to your heart.  I love that the Danish have a word for all of that.  There are countless articles on how to increase the hygge in your home.  Apparently, hygge is the new feng shui of the house world.

Being alone makes you want to nest.  It makes you want to feel, well, not so alone.  Rooms that once felt crowded now feel tired, cold and… very lifeless.  I find myself wandering through rooms that feel indescribably empty that are filled with special memories that are gone or changed in my mind now.  My home doesn’t feel like home anymore.  Of course, I’m not really “alone” in these rooms.  Gosh, with five kids between the ages of 11 and 3, I AM NEVER ALONE!! I go to the bathroom sometimes, locking the door and pretending I’m “busy”, but instead reading a magazine while sitting on the floor… I digress… Back on track now… Being alone makes you want to surround yourself with beautiful wonderful things that bring warmth to a heart that doesn’t always feel warm and loved.  I want my house to feel like my home.  I NEED SOME HYGGE!!

People ask how I am doing on a pretty regular basis now.  I’m hanging in there is my best answer.  It’s factually true.  I function during the day, but the big secret is that I dread the nights.  There are times where I can’t fall asleep because my mind is so busy working through scenarios for my future or things that have happened in the past.  It is as though movies play through my head and I can’t push the pause button.  I am forced to watch them over and over.  I get frustrated because I can’t sleep, which makes my mind race.  It’s an ugly spiral. There are other nights where sleep overtakes me and I collapse into bed, physically and emotionally exhausted.  I am ready on those nights to feel restored, only to wake four, five, six times for no apparent reason.  My heart is racing and I cannot find sleep again, no matter how hard I try.  When any of this happens and I find myself staring at the walls or the ceiling, the room feels so cold and empty.  That is when I want to feel a little hygge, enough so that I can wrap that hygge around me and fall into a tranquil sleep again.  I think you probably get what I am talking about even if I have used the word hygge too many times and probably at least half of those were incorrect in usage.   I need extra throw blankets and plush down pillows to feel like that warm hug that can sooth even the most broken heart.  I want my space to feel like a winter evening on a couch in Vermont, snow falling outside, large fire in the hand built field stone fireplace as I wear long johns and a Nordic sweater from LLBean, sipping hot cocoa while my old trusty dog sleeps by my feet… OK, that’s a little over the top, but you get the drift.  I want a soothing, calming, warm and inviting place to be.

I have always been a nester.  As a kid, my mother would patiently let me put out the boxes and boxes of Christmas decor.  I can’t say that I would ever let my kids do this… I think my mother was a saint…  I loved doing it and living with all of the Christmas clutter but when it all came down after Christmas, I would cry because the house felt so empty.  What I didn’t know then (because I didn’t know this amazing little word) is that I no longer got that cozy, comfy feeling that my body and soul needed, in short… the hygge was gone.

I would continue to nest all through college and the first years of marriage but pregnancy, well, I became a full blown disaster.  Sonia Cleven, I’m sure, remembers me being in full blown labor, ready to push and planting coral bells in my yard. No joke shovel in hand and dirt smeared all over me.  It was followed by lots of cursing and a mad dash to Boston for delivery.  I ended up delivering Taylor five minutes before I was “technically” admitted to the hospital… all because I HAD TO NEST.  I learned a valuable lesson as they cut my pants off that day… if you take too long to nest and don’t get to the hospital on time, they won’t give you an epidural…

Nesting has turned into a full blown obsession, in part, thanks to my neighbor, Amber Blanchard, who has seduced me into the creation of styling seasons… If you didn’t know, decor has five seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall, Christmas and Winter. Who knew?! You also need to jazz things up for smaller holidays (Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, birthdays of all sorts…).  I am not joking.  Sounds silly, right, but man, it’s got me hook line and sinker.  Once I did one season, all the others felt just depressing and dull.  I had to continue! Each season has a concept and theme that fits with the weather.  Thank you so much to Pinterest and Homegoods for helping to make this a full blown addiction.  My wet basement is loaded with throw pillows in every shape and color for every season, hanging in trash bags to keep them safe from the wet floors.  If you didn’t know, you would think that I have body bags hanging from my ceiling!

IMG_0870
The pillow “graveyard” in my basement where I store the many seasons of throw pillows.  This is but half of the pillow collection.

I’ve got the buying and decorating thing down.  I can create cozy, fashionable spaces.  Truthfully, it does help with some of the feelings of loneliness.  I have added some cushy stuff to most of my spaces, but somehow things still do not feel hygge enough for me.  See, I am only nesting.  Every room still feels very empty of feeling but stuffed with stuff.  I need more.  See, hygge isn’t just about putting throw blankets and pillows in every space… if it was, I would have more hygge than I would know what to do with…

One of the biggest tenants of hygge is that your spaces need to contain things that you love, and only things that you love.  Anything that isn’t useful or carrying warm sentiment should be removed from your space.  Everyone has that crap in their spaces, that was maybe given to them but they really don’t like.  You don’t want to throw it out because A)Your great aunt Dorothy would be so sad it wasn’t on the shelf when she visits every five years or B)It’s good stuff and you can’t part with it… It is time to purge, people! I have been purging lot’s lately.  The VVA could open an entire store with the amount of stuff they have picked up.  I don’t need it.  Someone else does.  All that clutter was taking up too much space in my crazy life.  The reward has been two fold! Someone who needs my stuff is getting it and this makes my heart feel full from giving it away. But the biggest benefit, there are now spaces to put the things that really do matter to me.  I can dig deep in the basement water logged boxes and pull out the mementos that I have saved and never put out because I never had the space.  The ever growing collection of sea glass and shells.  The birth announcements for each of my children.  There are places for candles to create soft glow and spaces for house plants.  Basically, the hygge model says that if it doesn’t invoke joy, it has to go!

It seems completely absurd, but when I am at my darkest, I hide.  I hibernate.  I isolate.  It’s probably one of the worst things that I can do for myself and my state of mind, but there it is.  I have to block it all out and spend some days in my pajamas and pray for the sun to come up.  If you don’t get a return call or only a one or two word text… I’m in isolate mode.  (Check on me in a couple of days, just to make sure I’m alive and most likely, I am up and about again.) Here is where hygge can help me again.  Hygge isn’t just about surrounding ourselves with comfortable sentimental things, its also about adding some special people to your life that can create memories with you.  I need to invite in those people that want to share a cup of tea and a plate of cookies with me.  I want to talk about the weather and the mundane.  I want to listen and be heard.  I want to get rid of the technology (except for Pinterest because I might lose my mind) and play board games and bake with my kids.  I want to draw silly pictures and tape them to the walls.  I want to have friends over for some soup and homemade bread.  I want to make memories, warm ones that I can go back to in my mind when things feel bleak.

So now I am on a quest.  I am going to bring this hygge thing into my life in as many ways as possible.  To me, it sounds like a pretty good roadmap towards living a life full of mindfulness.  Maybe there was a reason that I couldn’t sleep a week ago and had to get up and give in to browsing on Pinterest at 3 in the morning.  God has a reason for everything, right?! Stumbling upon this silly word, this amazing word that I couldn’t pronounce without looking it up, this amazing idea for a feeling that I want to enjoy every moment of my day, is quite possibly the greatest gift that I can do for myself.  Not only does it mean being mindful in all of the special moments, but also taking an active part in providing a setting for those moments.  I want to set the stage for those memories to come and fill me with joy.  I need a little joy in my life.

My life has been about surviving up until now.  It has been nothing but tough work.  But as I put back the pieces back together, I want it to be about more than the work.  I want it to be about exploring, searching and studying what is around me and what it means to be me.  To put these pieces all back together, I need a space that will embrace me at the end of the day and that will provide me with a theater for all the new and wonderful things to come, whatever they might be.  I need that space to be shared with friends and family so that I can create some new and fantastic memories to fill up these empty rooms.

So I’m gonna hygge… sounds like some crazy dance, doesn’t it!?  But seriously, I want to share with you some of the changes that I am making to my home and life over the next couple of weeks and months and well, as long as it takes for me to become a whole person again.  I’m gonna hygge ’til it hurts.  LOL.  I love this word.

kids, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, moving on, Uncategorized, valentine's day

Happy Day-After-Valentine’s Day

 

Today, I opened my eyes and breathed a sigh of relief.  It was officially the day after Valentine’s Day. I had made it through my first “alone” Valentine’s Day, and I have never been so relieved!  Today had to be a better day than yesterday. It was a new day without the constant reminder of things lost.

I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day always makes me feel lackluster annoyance for it and its traditions.  The little cards that the kids exchange are irritating and have to be stealthily thrown out over the next couple of days.  I have never loved roses, always preferring tulips. I can’t stand the fact that most restaurants have a set menu that always contains a bunch of weird ingredients. I am not a fan of those Forrest Gump boxes of chocolate.  You just never know what you’re gonna get.   I also have always felt underwhelmed by this holiday. For me, it hasn’t ever been full of romantic gestures. I think most women have felt the same way from time to time. Maybe that’s why we all roll our eyes when Valentine’s Day creeps up on the calendar.   It never becomes the masterpiece that we have all at one point envisioned in our minds.

With no valentine this year, I have realized it is all of the sentimental and sappy thoughts that do count.  It’s all of those silly little sappy things that make you realize you are cared for. People think about you and how special you are to them.  They may forget until the last minute to get you a card, but they race to CVS and grab the last lonely card on the rack.  They take the time to do something for you.

Well, let me tell you, I would have given anything for a card, a sticky note, anything that made me feel somewhat thought of yesterday. Piper asked if I was sad because “no one loved me anymore”. It triggered all the loneliness and deep sadness I’ve been grappling with.

Truth be told, I did get something for Valentine’s Day. What did I get for Valentine’s Day? I got … a poop. No, you did not misread that… I got a poop.  Two, actually.

One was Brody’s first potty poop.  It was a huge victory for me, the possible end to almost 12 years of non-stop diaper changes.  I can’t say I felt special but I was overjoyed at the prospect of a diaper free future. He could have stopped there. End of story… yeah!

No such luck. It was the second one that pretty much sealed the deal on Valentine’s Day and made me ready to drown in a bottle of red wine.  It didn’t quite make it to the potty.  Good thing he didn’t have on a pull up or underwear.  Oh, no.  That would have made life too easy!!! I thought that I was blessed because he was quietly playing under the coffee table. I was so wrong… He was avoiding me and my super human poop senses. He had gone right in his pants, and then smeared it down his thighs with his hands.  On the way to the bathroom, it shimmied down his pant leg onto the floor.  Just what I always wanted.  A poop on the floor for Valentine’s Day. This may sound overly dramatic, but at this point, on this day, that is exactly how I felt.

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Brody hiding from the inevitable poop change.

Now as a mom of five kids, I have seen and had contact with quite a bit of sh*t. It didn’t shock me.  Crap happens.  You wipe it up and then you move on. But this one just added insult to injury.  I was raw.  The poop broke me.  I sat on the floor looking at it and said “Happy f*cking Valentine’s Day.”

By the end of the day, I was ready to call it quits. I was bone tired. Tired of moving, thinking, fixing, feeling and just existing. I went to bed and the rest of the dreaded day was a memory.

This morning I woke up and I took a deep breath.

It brought mindfulness back to me. I needed to rethink Valentine’s Day.  What I needed to do was assess why yesterday was so bad, beyond the obvious.

Breathing in and out this morning, I realized I needed think about whom I should be getting love from. Should they be the people who make me think I am lovable?

Spending Valentine’s Day alone makes you think that in some way, you are less lovable because you don’t have anyone. True or not, those feelings are very real for those of us that are alone. So who do I get love from… if not from another person? Who will make me feel lovable? Then it dawned on me in that moment of early morning breathing. I am the one that needs to give myself love. It doesn’t have to come from someone else. I AM ENOUGH.

It can be so hard to think of yourself with complete self love, but if I can’t love myself, how can I openly love everything else in my life? I need to believe that I am special, that I am beautiful, that I am strong.  It isn’t good enough tot hear it from other people. I have to believe it! I need to convince myself that I am enough.

So how do I get there???!!! How do I love myself? I know people are born with this confidence skill but I really don’t think I got the gene. I appear confident but I am usually overwhelmed by self-doubt. I really need to stop putting myself last and pleasing others. Just for today, I decided to I work on being happy, about myself, about the amazing life that I have been given. I started by getting out of bed.

I took a shower, a long one until the water ran cold and left goose bumps all over me. I got dressed, carefully picking an outfit and then I put on make up, not for everyone else to see, but for me.  I even matched my bra to my underwear… I gave myself the time to make my bed and flip the shades up. It all made me smile and feel success. A small victory in a long fight to reprogram and love myself and not value my worth by the love others give to me. I’ve got to start with small deeds and just a little bit of self-care.

So for me, the Day-After-Valentine’s Day will be my new holiday.  Screw Valentine’s Day. I don’t need to have the fantasized grand gestures. Every year on February 15, I’m going to wake up and celebrate the growing love that I have for myself… and hopefully pick up less poop.

kids, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, moving on, moving out, sorrow, Uncategorized

A Child’s Hand

What is it about a little child, a little hand, that is so soothing.  It isn’t a big strong hand.  It holds no promise of protection or guidance.  It isn’t a hand that will hold you forever in its palm.  It will leave you as small hands always must do.  It is small and light, yet there is still something that is so soothing about its touch.  It is a knowing touch even if it knows nothing about your sorrow.

This morning was a difficult morning, full of change and new routines.  In short it hurt, all of us.  It was empty and quiet.  There was no rush to separate and live independently for those school hours.  We wanted to stay together and just love.  The fighting and sibling jabs that normally mark our mornings were gone.  They just knew that they needed to love each other and be there, even if they were all going to different places for the day.

I struggled to maintain composure and fulfill those morning activities that needed to be done for the kids.  They need me no matter my state. They needed breakfast, real breakfast, not just a quickly thrown together bowl of cereal slid across the table.  They needed sustenance, eggs, toast, fruit.  They needed lunches packed and water bottles filled.  Yes, this morning, even WANTS were NEEDS.  They needed me to give them reassuring looks and tons of love and smiles, even if the smiles hurt so badly.  That is what they need today and always as we navigate this unknown.  They need to hear and see that things will be OK.  They need to understand that we cannot know what will come but no matter what, it will be OK.

It feels like a lie.  At this time, the unknown is scary, even if I have to tell them that wonderful things lie in our future, our OK future.  Fake it until you make it, right. I keep thinking that if I say it enough, that it will magically come true, that wonderful things are to come.

As I finally got them out the door with smiles and waves, I broke.  Waterfalls of tears and held back pain.  I am really good at pasting on a smile when I am out in the world interacting with people.  I can hide it from others, but in my household world, that smile is tougher to find.  I try to hide my pain from The Littles.  They also need to know that things will be OK even if they don’t understand the magnitude of this morning and the eerie silence.  They still can laugh and joke around with each other.  They can play with abandon and enjoy each moment of this new day.  Well, today, of all days when I needed to show them how OK things are, I couldn’t hide it any longer.  It was there.  I feel guilt for that, but there it is.  When you just can’t fake it anymore, you just can’t fake it.

Piper in all her sassiness, who struggles to not have attitude when talking to anyone, climbed up in my lap and took my hand.  She rested her head on my shoulder and stayed there.  No wiggles.  No eager body that wanted to move and get back to play.  Her little hand calmed me instantly, so small.  It knew nothing of the pain but knew that it needed to be there.  It only wanted to comfort.  For all of their oblivious behavior, they do know.  They sense our strength and they know our weakness.  They understand in their own way, that we are human.  They seem to lose this as they age, but for these precious years, they know. See in a child’s bubble, everything will be OK.  It has to.  Each day is a new wonderful experience to look forward to and not fear.  That little hand holds so much promise that you can’t not think that tomorrow will be better and that the future will hold wonderful things.  The kitchen may be a mess and the future may be completely unknown, but somehow, it will contain unknown wonderful things.  I have to trust in that child’s love and excitement.  Things will be OK, no matter where they take me.