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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Emerging from the Mom Cave

Mom Cave - a place of hibernation that a mom goes to for an unforeseen amount of time while raising her small children.

I have emerged from my Mom Cave. I took residence in my Mom Cave for 7 years. There were times that I thought it was time to venture out. I would come creeping out of the shadows, only to realize that the sun was a little too bright and I wasn't brave enough or strong enough to emerge, yet.

But then one day it happened. It was two weeks before my 34th birthday and I knew I was ready. How? My love and passion for things I had before kids started to rise up again. I was a runner in my pre-mom life. I loved the freedom of running. The sound of my feet hitting the pavement. The challenge of pushing myself further and further. The feeling of being out of breath and the sense of accomplishment that came at the end. Where had this woman gone? She'd been holed up in her Mom Cave for far too long and was getting entirely too comfortable.

It started that April with a little run that was miserable and hard and hot. Everything inside of me wanted to stop and I fought the mental battle the whole 2 miles I could muster finishing. Fast forward a few months and I decided that in order to keep my momentum I needed to sign up for a race. I went big and signed up for a half-marathon. I completed that half marathon last month and it was one of the most fun, enjoyable, glorious moments of my life. I had accomplished something for myself...something I had neglected to do for far too long. It felt amazing. I worked hard for it. I was dedicated. I had a goal and finished.

What my emergence from my Mom Cave taught me was that it is vital for mothers to take time for themselves. I knew this and would talk about it among my mommy friends over the years, but sadly I wasn't doing it. We all knew it, but most of us didn't pursue taking the time to do that for ourselves. Since I began my journey back to pursuing my love of running and being active, I have become a better me. Not only for myself, but for my family and friends. I'm a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister and simply the me that I had let go dormant for so very long.

Something that I did't expect to gain was a sense of community. Through this journey I joined a running group and became a part of a family that encourages, supports, inspires and motivates. It was something I found that I didn't realize I missed and needed again.

Maybe it's not running for you. Maybe it's taking the time to read again and join a book club. Maybe it's reigniting you love of cooking. Maybe it's getting back to playing an instrument you've neglected for far too long. Whatever it is that has been hibernating, I encourage you to bring it back to life and surround yourself with people that share that love and passion, too. Because when you start to sneak back into your Mom Cave, they will help you stay out of it.They will encourage you and support you. You will find that joy again, that glow, that inspiration and spark, and people will notice. When you are your best you, you can do monumental things in your life and the lives of others.

The Mom Cave isn't a bad place to be. It's just a place you find yourself. We get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of these little people. Carting them to doctor appointments and playdates; getting them down for their naps; changing their diapers; wiping their noses; making them snacks; potty gets a little busy.

The Mom Cave was and is a season. Maybe there are some moms that never go into their Mom Cave, but I sure know a lot who have. If you are currently in your Mom Cave and are snuggling a sweet little newborn right now or wiping a peanut butter covered 2-year-old's face, enjoy the hibernation and this season of your life. Seasons change. Children grow. However, remember that there is still room for you to grow, too. And growth needs sunshine. You can't get sunshine in a cave.

What's next for me? Now that my half-marathon is over, I've set my site on triathlons! Another challenge. Another goal. I'm enjoying my growth and the joy it's bringing to me and those around me. I'm thankful. I'm fortunate. I've been given grace. Everyday I wake up and am blessed I am able to do what I do.

It may not sound like much, and it may be silly to some (or even most), but when you grab hold of what propels you and find those people who are propelled by the same thing, it doesn't matter what "most" think. All that matters is you're using your gifts, talents and passions to inspire and bless others and become a better you. When you are a better you, you can help others be better, too.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Reminisce and Regret

I think there is a vast difference between reminiscing about something and regretting. Being a mom, it's a daily ping pong match back and forth in my mind. One moment I'm reminiscing about something adorable my first born, who is now 5, did, and the next moment I'm regretting not living in that moment that I'm remembering.

Evan, my oldest, starts kindergarten on Monday. Today, Friday, I didn't think about getting laundry done, picking up the toys, making beds, making grocery lists, getting my work assignments done; instead, I let dishes pile up, kept toys laying in piles like land mines across the house, and I got on the floor and played with all three of my children...really played.

Today was filled with reminiscence and regret.

I reminisced about the past five years I've had with Evan at home. I gave thanks for being able to stay at home with him. I thought about trips to the park, lazy days in our pjs, playdates and jumpy places. I was also filled with regret of what we didn't do -- what we didn't do enough of.

I regretted not doing more. Not going to enough mommy and me music sessions, mornings at the children's museum, days at the beach, walks to the park and so much more.

I had three children very close together: two and four years apart. I started comparing myself to the other moms of more than one child and how they would be adventurous and go out with their infants and entourage of children. Why didn't I brave it? What didn't I do MORE?

This week, as I scrolled through Facebook posts of moms doing this and that with their kids, regret started to creep back in. Then I began to reminisce and get nostalgic about my little Evan. Back and forth; back and forth.

I will no longer have those pj mornings with Evan, the option of going to the park or to the beach. He will leave me every morning and come home every late afternoon. I won't hear his little conversations or get to watch him play pretend or stop and have him excitedly tell me his latest thought or idea.

But you know what? I did have it. So I shouldn't be filled with regret of what I DIDN'T do, but what I had the opportunity of doing with him these first 5 years.

So today, instead of gallivanting around with 3 kids on the last weekday before school begins, trying to make memories that I could reminisce about later on, we stayed in our pjs until 11, played Batman and sword fighting, ate lunch together, read books, talked and watched some episodes of Rescue Bots and Curious George and The Wild Kratts.

It was a good day.

Evan will start kindergarten in a few days, and I'll cry and probably will still regret a few things, but if another mom is maybe sending out their little one to school for the first time and wishes they had done those Pinterest crafts or baked more or took them more places, just know that the greatest memory they will have is YOU.

I'll try to remember that, too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Stick Together

I had a really encouraging talk with a fellow mom the other night.

Sometimes as moms you can feel really, really alone. Not in a physical sense, but in an emotional sense - if that makes sense. Being a parent is hard. It's emotionally exhausting as well as physically taxing; especially with toddlers.

Talking with other moms can be helpful and really lift your spirits when you are feeling alone.

During this conversation, we shared some stories of crazy things our kids have done and how sometimes other parents just don't "get it." Maybe they aren't a muddlesome mother? I find that hard to believe, but I guess some moms have it together more than others...I'm just not one of them, let's be realistic here.

So while having this time of sharing with this friend, it made me realize (even more) how important it is to have other moms and parents in your life that understand you or can at least relate to things you go through as a mom.

Every child develops at a different rate. Every child has their own unique personality. Finding parents who you mesh with is vital when needing support. That's not to say you need a clone of someone who executes the same parenting skills as you or has a child that's even exactly the same age. You just need someone a little understanding that when your child decides to strip naked during a playdate, that it's probably not because you reside in a nudist colony, but that your child is a free spirit who is uninhibited that you are constantly correcting that they must keep their clothes on when not at home.

Kids are often uncontrollable. They do things and say things that embarrass us and have us running from stores and restaurants hoping that there was no one in there that you actually knew. The problem is, we care too much about what others think instead of being confident in our parenting style.

I have friends that are very lenient in their parenting style and I have friends that are extremely strict and disciplined with their kids. I don't judge, because they are doing what works for them.

This morning I took my youngest to the grocery story to pick up a few things while his brother was at school. Every time we go in this store, we get a cookie at the bakery (even when it's only 9 o'clock in the morning).

I was going over this in my mind and how it may look to those around me that my almost 2-year-old was eating a sugar cookie this early, when the most adorable elderly lady whizzed by on her electric cart and came screeching to a stop in front of me.

"Well, look at him enjoying that cookie," she smiled and said.

"Um, yeah. It's only 9 in the morning, but, yeah, you know," I sheepishly replied (there I went again caring about what others think).

"Oh pish posh (yes she said that). I had 7 of these (meaning children), and I know exactly what it's like," she scolded me.

She laughed. I laughed. We gave each other that knowing look.

Stick together. Whether you run into a feisty old lady at the grocery store who gets it, or have coffee with a friend that gets it, find at least one other mom who will laugh and cry with you on this roller coaster of a ride. It really does help; and sometimes, it gets you through the week.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Screaming and Blowouts

The holidays have passed, we're in a new year, Valentine's Day is over and we're back from vacation in sunny FL.

That pretty much sums up our life in the last few months.

We've had plenty of muddled moments that I was just too lazy busy to write about.

The muddled times just don't get to me (as much) anymore. I sort of embrace them. For instance, on the way home from FL, Oliver decided to scream for the last 30 minutes of the plane flight.

Two things:

  1. I was glad this didn't happen on the way to FL when I was flying solo with both boys.
  2. If this had been my first child, I would have been a wreck.
I was completely relaxed about the whole situation. There was nothing I could do about it. For those who have/had kids, I knew they would, hopefully, understand. For those who didn't have children, it was a good life lesson for them :-)

When you're a parent, muddles happen. As hard as you try to prevent them, as much as you try to prepare, muddles will occur - sometimes without warning.

Case in point.

Evan goes to Occupation Therapy on Fridays to help with his fine motor skills, among other things. Oliver and I usually wait in the lobby and play with the toys out there while Evan attends his session. And then the thing that I think we all have experience at one point or another happens: A BLOWOUT.

But wait; blowouts are only supposed to happen with infants. Right?

Au contraire, my friend. It can happen with 20 month old children as well.

I politely asked the secretary where I could change Oliver, and she directed me to one of the therapy rooms because it had a rug. Oh how I wished there wasn't a rug.

We made our way back, I laid Oliver on the carpet and opened up the diaper to see the damage. Unfortunately when I laid him down, it squished up the back and out the sides of the diaper; and ALL OVER the carpet; and his shirt; and his pants; and his socks.

On top of that, I had closed the therapy room, so after I had attempted to clean up what I could with the last 10 wipes I had and opened up the door, the smell wafted into the hallway.

With Oliver in a clean diaper (and nothing else), he toddled after me as I sought out a garbage bag to place the mess in. Then I told the secretary of my predicament, to which she grimaced and replied, "Oh, that's OK. We work with kids, so it's expected."

So after Evan's session was over, I put Oliver in his winter coat and rushed him to the car.

Embarrassing? Yes. But after 2 kids, this incident has taught me to ALWAYS bring a change of clothes with. It doesn't matter the age, it's always smart to bring an extra change of clothes.

With ever muddle that comes my way, I have decided to simply take a life lesson away from it. Whether it be practical or amusing. There is always something to learn.

Monday, December 5, 2011

It's Just Not Me

I'm not going to even begin this post with, "Oh my goodness, it's been almost a month (again) since I've posted," but I guess I just did. It's the holiday season. That has to count for something?

Speaking of holiday season, there are a lot of cute crafts and creative project going on around me. As I peruse through Facebook and mom sites and talk with friends, it seems that everyone has their children doing something fun and creative.

That's just not me.

Is there something that other moms do that you wish that you could do or be better at? For me, it's crafting. Believe me, there are plenty of more things I could name, but I'm just going to go with crafting for now.

For instance, I just saw an adorable little painting of a Rudolph done with a foot print.

First of all, I would never end up with a footprint from either of my boys. I would end up with a painted footprint trail all over my house. Kind of like the trail of crayon scribbles I came across going from my kitchen floor to my living room floor this evening (I was cooking dinner while this one happened).

Then I have some friends that go to a pottery place every month and make these adorable little pottery pieces. I sometimes daydream of what this might be like to bring my boys in and have them sit and paint a creative creation.

Only, I am brought back to reality knowing that I could probably end up paying for many broken pieces in the shop. Thus, I have no adorable, precious hand-painted pottery pieces to call my own.

Now, there may be hope for Oliver yet. He seems to like to color. He's the one who decorated my floor. Evan has yet to ever attempt coloring on anything except paper, and that only lasts about 30 seconds before he's done.

I'm just not crafty. Do I feel like my boys are missing out on stimulating this creative part of their brain? Yes, I often have bouts of guilt about this. However, I do bake and cook. I bake a lot. And that makes me feel better about the whole creative part...sometimes.

Evan and I bake cookies, breads, cakes and other desserts together. He helps me with pancakes and waffles or muffins. I know it's really not the same, but I pretend it is.

I know that there are so many moms out there who feel guilty about not being the "crafty mom" or the "soccer mom" or the "non-yelling mom" or the "baby-wearing mom." But you know what? It really is OK.

We all have our strengths and abilities, and our kids will benefit from what we do have.

I'm just glad that Evan is in school now, no matter how short it is, so that I can have some crafty things hanging on my refrigerator now. Hooray!

Oh, and another thing that's just not me. I'm not the mom who's children always look put together.

We went to see Santa today, and although the boys weren't perfectly buttoned up with the cleanest faces, it went much better that expected.

Now, the woman behind me with the 9 children ages 2-3 had her brood looking in tip-top form. She must have been a teacher or a child care provider.

All of the children, ALL, had on matching Santa hats and did not stray from her site for a second. None of them were running around; none of them were yelling; none of them were picking their noses.

I turned to her and said, "Wow, I can't believe they are all keeping their hats on?! And they are so well-behaved!"

"I'm surprised too, and we do take a lot of outings together," was her reply.

Somehow, I don't think it would matter how often I took Evan and Oliver out, they would still have something out of place and "act up" at some point.

It was all I could do to wipe the cracker crumbs from Oliver's mouth and brush the crumbs off of Evan's shirt and get Oliver to sit on Santa's lap.

The result was the classic visit Santa photo of one of the children crying and the other looking like a deer in the headlights.

It's a memory.

I know I kind of always end my posts with, "If there's any mom who feels...", but the thing is, this blog is for other moms to relate to and hopefully make feel better. Because whether we're that crafty mom or not, we all have days where we just feel, well, meh.

I just have a lot of those muddled days, but I wouldn't change them for anything. Honestly I wouldn't.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mind Boggling

Right now, I should be making appointments, doing laundry, folding laundry, taking Evan to school, cleaning up the kitchen, changing sheets, cleaning the bathroom, researching for my work assignments, making a grocery list, sending out a Christmas list to family, uploading photos, balancing the checkbook, helping the boys clean up the playroom, vacuuming, mopping, putting summer clothes away and getting out of my pajamas.

Mind boggling.

But somehow, I find myself sitting at my laptop writing a post. The last thing that should be on my list of "things to do," and especially since I just did a recap of our "vacation" last night; however, I thought it would be a good idea to write out everything that was going through my mind in the hopes of it all organizing itself.

The life of a mother is mind boggling muddles, if you will. That's not to say that people who don't have children don't have their fair share of muddles and craziness; but when you add the responsibility of taking care of little people, who can't take care of themselves, it throws a whole new meaning into responsibility.

Stopping for a moment to read my "list" that I typed out of everything I should be doing right now, I would want to get overwhelmed. And most of the time I do. I'm just being honest.

I used to be one of those list-makers. I took great comfort in whipping out my list pad and favorite pen and writing down everything I needed to accomplish for the day. And with each swipe of the pen, as I crossed off the item that had just been completed, I would feel a sense of pride (the good kind).

Ah, to revel in that feeling again.

Now, I barely can roll myself out of bed with my hair somehow still damp from my midnight shower to tend to the little monsters,er munchkins, for the day.

I know you all have days where you don't even know where to begin. You're so overwhelmed with things that need to be done and things you'd like to be done, but know never will, or never will until you kids are off to college.

I love being a mom. I wouldn't change it for anything. I love my boys and they bring me such joy and laughter every day. They keep my life interesting and give me an "excuse" to write musings to the endless black hole of the Internet for anyone and everyone to read.

I've tried to embody being the "Martha Stewart" mom. In other words, labeling everything, having a rigid schedule, being organized, having a spotless home, all while making everything homemade with a smile on my face.

Guess what? That's not me. 

Instead, I run around all day forgetting what I had gone upstairs to do, only to come back downstairs to remember what I went upstairs to do, to pass by something else that I forgot to do. It's a vicious cycle and, again, mind boggling.

I think the hardest thing for me, though, is balancing working from home and being a stay-at-home mom. I'm not even close to the smooth sailing point I want to be at. 

Every week, I start out with a fresh piece of paper ready to make  THEE schedule that will make everything work perfectly. Everything has its time to be completed and everything has its place. This starts on Monday, and by Monday afternoon, I can't even find the piece of paper with my "golden" schedule that was supposed to be the one to work. The one that would cut my kids TV viewing time down by an hour.

Yes, there I wrote it. My kids watch TV. I depend on it on most days in order to meet deadlines and get work done. 

She's really gone and done it now, you may think.

Coming to a place of saying, "You know what? It's OK if I'm a muddled mom and who cares what other people (really, other moms) think," is hard.

There are days that I'm right there, smack dab in the middle. But most days are me fretting over how I could be such a muddled mess.

So, enough of my musings. Just know, if you find yourself overwhelmed today or tomorrow or next week (you will at some point), it's OK. A good and organized day is bound to make an appearance at some point.

I'm counting on it. Today just isn't that day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mini-Muddled Vacay

So a few months ago I found this incredible deal on Living Social for a 2-night family getaway at a hotel that has an indoor water park. It included a food credit, 2 nights at the hotel, 4 passes to the water park and a massage (let's be honest, the massage is what got me).

I convinced Ryan that it was a fabulous idea and I bought it.

Maybe it was a foreshadowing or a warning of what was to come, but at first I had trouble buying the deal and then when I did buy it, I didn't realize until 2 weeks before that it had an expiration date!

I quickly called the resort and made our reservation which ended up being this past weekend.

The family packed up the car and we ventured up  to the mountains and to the water park. Oliver had no idea what was going on, but Evan was super excited to stay at a hotel (his first time) and go to this mysterious place called a water park.

We got there. The hotel was clean. We scoped out the water park, it looked fun...and clean. I was excited!

This was our first alone family vacation together. Honestly, I don't know if you can really call it a vacation when it was only for 2 nights, but we had to start out with baby steps. All other "vacations" prior had been to visit family.

Excited for the day ahead at the water park, we got the boys ready for bed and set up our sleeping arrangement. Oliver was in the Pack n Play in between the beds, and I would snuggle with Evan in one bed while Ryan took the other.

At one point we thought Evan was going to opt for Daddy, but he soon came back. After only about 45 minutes of craziness, the boys settled down and actually fell asleep by 7:30, which meant that Ryan and I would be forced to fall asleep at 7:30. Let me just tell you, it was great to go to bed that early and just relax.

But alas, not all could be peaceful and uneventful.

Evan is a terrible bed buddy. I knew the child took after me with moving around a lot in his bed. I find him flipped or hanging off his bed most nights, but nothing could have prepared me for his acrobatics. I was forced to a small section of the bed most of the night, but managed to get in some shut-eye.

Then the 5:30 wake-up call came. You guessed it, from Evan. He popped right up out of bed. No rubbing of the eyes or slowly getting up and being groggy. He was ready to rock n roll and then proceeded to wake up his brother. So we were all up at the lovely hour of 5:30 (they usually wake up at 6:45/7:00, and yes, the extra hour or so does make a difference).

The next 3 hours were used to keep them entertained and quiet so they wouldn't wake up the rest of the hotel. I don't know how well we did, but we didn't get any complaints.

Finally, after 3 long hours, we made our way to the water park to have some fun.

To summarize: we had fun. it was cold. we stayed 2 hours. we didn't go back.

The water in the indoor water park was FREEZING! We even went to stay in the wave pool to try and stay warm, but the water was so cold. Oliver's teeth were chattering and we had to keep taking him out to dry him off and dress him. He spent most of the time "wading."

Evan was not impressed. He didn't want to do any slides and was perfectly happy playing with the water hose.

Water park was a bust. Maybe when they're older?

By 10:30 we were all starving. After a few dashes to the bathroom with the boys for potty breaks and diaper changes, we finally made our way to find some food with our food/beverage credit we were given. Nothing opened until 12:00!

This did not go over well with the boys, and so we took a drive and got some snacks to tide us over and then headed back to use up our credit at the hotel's restaurant. I'm glad we had the snacks.

By this point, Ryan and I had decided that after I had my massage appointment, we were going to head home despite the fact that we had another night booked.

The water park was not an option to go back to (freezing, remember) and Mommy and Daddy had not thought ahead and didn't bring any toys for the boys to play with in the room. We tried outlet shopping, but that didn't last long either.

A snow-capped mountain peak in the distance, we made our way back home glad that we didn't plan a long far-away "vacation" to test the waters.

Can't really say we had a lot of muddles, major ones anyway, but to document a family vacation is always good to look back on.

We were all ready to be home.

But the massage was worth it. Oh, yes.