Category: Parenting

Proof

In case you’re where I am this week, here is your Wednesday reminder that:

You do not have to prove anything to anyone at any point in time.

It is not your job to convince people that you are good or right or enough. It isn’t your work to change other people. There are some people who will never be killed by your kindness, and there are some battles that are better not fought in the first place.

We each have our lanes, and we’d do ourselves a favor if we chose to stay in them as often as possible. Especially when we’re feeling sensitive and vulnerable and affected by life.

Remember:

You are no longer a child who needs to work hard to earn love and attention.
You are not an object who needs to dance and perform for her dinner and dreams.
You are not here for harmony ONLY, for smoothing the way, for rounding out edges and corners and other jagged places that you are a witness to.
You are allowed to be disliked.
You are here to tell the truth.
You are allowed to disrupt and even tear down anything that no longer serves you.
You are here to learn courage.
You are allowed to cause discomfort.
You are here for trying and mistakes and bumbling around a bit.
You are allowed to make bad choices along your way.
You are here to do whatever it is that you are called to do.

No part of your existence is tied to one thing you did or one thing you didn’t.
You can reinvent and reimagine and be reborn any time you are ready and willing.

It’s amazing how much you can do when you aren’t trying hard to PROVE.

So many things are not about you. You do not have to participate in every cycle of news media or politics or new information. You don’t have to know what you think or feel about anything until you know what you think or feel about it. You probably won’t feel very satisfied with a life spent trying to interpret copious mountains of changing information in hopes of clearly separating right from wrong. The internet is like cake-it’s so much better in moderation or even sometimes not at all.

You don’t have to prove yourself or your body or your heart or your soul. Those things were put here TO GUIDE YOU. You are Not God. Your essence is already inherently good and true and enough.

Do not be a dancing pony. What other people think about you has nothing to do with you. Allow people to show you who they are, and believe them when they do. We have all got our crosses to carry, and you will not be able to carry yours if you are lugging for others.

There is zero value in striving toward an existence that is imaginary and futuristic. You could put down and be here now with yourself as you are, and it could be blissfully enough, although painfully quiet. Maybe you would enjoy the quiet once you got used to it. You won’t know until you try.

So much of your life is about mystery and magic, but if you don’t exhale and open your eyes long enough, you’ll miss it. Leave the stimulation to the stimulators, and be the ball of love and energy that you are and just roll onward as you must.

xoxo,

M

Give Yourself Permission

Raising my kids is the number one most important thing that I do in my life. Showing up for them is easy; showing up for them without my own childhood baggage and tired, old habits is less…easy. When they were born, I promised them I would give them a perfect life. That I wouldn’t repeat history with them. That I would be the mother to them that I’d always wanted for me.

Then, they became toddlers, and…it got a lot harder to keep my promises.

The longer I’m a parent, the more I know that to show up for my kids wholeheartedly means giving myself permission to be imperfect and inexperienced. The more I set out to teach them to value their sensitivity, feel their feelings and show up, even when it hurts, the more I have to give myself permission to do all of the same things. When I want to stop history from repeating itself, I have to start by giving myself permission to look at my past with a tender heart and a gentle touch.

I can’t become less anxious by crossing all the things, closing my eyes and hoping for good luck. I won’t be the mother my kids need until I allow myself to be the woman that I already am. Flaws, pocks, marks and all.

After all, a whole person isn’t a perfect person. A whole person has sticky spots, spiky places and closed off corners that feel impossible to crawl into. A whole person has jagged edges and round corners, times of struggle and times of ease.

In other words, we don’t teach our kids to embrace their whole selves by being anything else than a person who embraces her whole self.

The Next Right Thing

Oh, friends. I started to write you yesterday and today about the stress and the pace of the holidays. The way the spending always gives me the heebee jeebies. How tired I am. How so very overwhelmed this time of year can often feel for me.

But, as I wrote and I kvetched and complained, something else showed up for me. And, it was this:

I am just really struggling, right now.

I really want to walk. I want my feet and my legs to work right. I want to get up and go. I want to stand up and move. The demands of the holidays are one big, fat reminder of how limited I am. Of how crippled I feel. I am myself, but I don’t move like me. I know something bigger is at play here, but I tell you what: I can’t see it right now.

I can’t see it at all, today.

What I can see is everything that I really want to create in my life. I can see it CRYSTAL CLEAR. And, being benched and riding the sidelines with that vision just dangling in front of me, HURTS. I keep telling myself to be patient. I keep willing myself to have faith. I keep touching the wounded place with my gentlest touch. But, today, I can also see that I have a long way to go.

Somehow, I really need to bridge that gap. Today. Because, I have searched myself, and I have determined that there are a variety of ways to deal with my current emotional and physical state, and none of them feel as right as this:

I need to give myself the gift of knowing what I know. Right now, that means knowing my goals. Even if I don’t know how the hell I am going to get there. Somehow, if this vision is what I can see through the clouds, then THIS is what I will focus on right now. Even if it hurts and feels like a promise I don’t know how to keep.

Either way, I have learned that there are days when I can only do the next right thing, and today is that day. Telling you what I want to create for my life, what I see for myself, is the only right thing:

I want to walk in the sand beside the ocean.

I want to swim in the ocean.

I want to play with my kids in a green field.

I want to walk for 30 minutes without stopping.

I want to write about what I want to write about.

I want to volunteer for the Up Center and Planned Parenthood.

I want to pick up my daughter.

I want to run with my son.

I want to ride bikes with my children.

I want to pay off my hospital bill.

I want to get rid of my couch (okay, maybe burn it, but that seems dramatic, so I will stay medium on that).

I want to wear sandals.

I want strong legs.

I want comfortable feet.

I want more than all of the baby steps that I have been living on. You know I have supreme gratitude for my health and the health of my children and our family. I know I am LUCKY. I also know that I see more. Reconciling  those two feelings can feel like an awkward battle between two well-meaning friends that really just want some kind of goddamn harmony. So, I say, maybe harmony tomorrow. For today, a struggle.

I gave a dear friend advice the other night, and it seems relevant for me, today:

“You don’t have to feel better, right now. You just have to keep moving.”

Thanks for moving with me, gang. Needed that.

xo,

M

Kindness Sunday

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” -Mother Teresa.

I’m keeping it short and sweet today, so I’m going to leave you with this quote and this very brief nugget, of my own:

Please, in your walks through life this week, remember how incredibly connected you are. To everyone. The good guys and bad guys and in between guys. The people who need you, the people who scare you, and the people who love you.

It’s cliche, but still worth mentioning that we really, truly are in this life factory together. Even when we’re millions of miles apart and can’t agree on what kind of bread to make our sandwiches with. I mean, it feels like we are so separate, because we’ve evolved into these complicated existences that pull us away from the earth, away from one another and away from the truth.

I am working over here to try to figure out how to have compassion for people who, on the surface, appear to lack compassion. I am working on forgiving those who appear to offer no forgiveness to anyone, unless they look and think the same. I am working on forgiving the worst in this world I belong to, because it has started to hit me that I can’t cherry pick when it comes to compassion and forgiveness. I can’t decide that some people deserve it and others don’t. I’m not here telling you that I’ve gone and decided to snuggle up to homicidal maniacs or that I’m feeling cuddly about terrorists or angry, violent abusers. BUT. I’m also not going to contribute to the dividing of more lines. I’m not going to put my own two cents into the bank of us versus them.

What I’m saying is: Even the people who scare me, or disappoint me or disgust me-EVEN THOSE PEOPLE-they share something with me, and it’s something so vital and so necessary to my existence. It’s this planet. It’s humanity. I have to learn to see past what is obvious in EVERYONE. Even the Donald Trumps of the world.

That’s not easy, but that is the rock I must get under in order to find peace.

I’m not telling you to shove down your feelings of grief, anger, resentment or betrayal, heavens no. I’m just asking you to hold those things in the same hands that you use to hold the idea that beneath every person’s skin lies a beating heart, built to do the exact same thing as yours and mine: LOVE.

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xo,

M

Do Less, Sister

This week is kicking my ass. I’m busy with my day job, the kids, my husband’s work schedule, doctor’s appointments and our house. I feel like I’m spinning, and at the end of every day, I want to literally unplug my brain and have someone or something else do the work.

Multi-tasking used to be my special super hero strength, a quality in myself that I considered to be a true reflection of my ability to be and do all things! Before having kids, I was PROUD to run like a wild chicken through my life. I was too busy to sit down for long, too necessary to the many balls always spinning in the air. I liked going fast and relying on my instincts, most of the time.

After having kids, I straight up LIVE to do one thing at a time. I want to stand still and stir my damn stir fry. I want to read a few pages in my book without getting up every 2 minutes for milk or snacks or tears, etc. When I start juggling, I have an actual physical response that I cannot ignore, and I find that I have to stop, drop and put down, or else. I have to choose one thing to be with, and put everything else aside for later.

I’m no longer a happy multi-tasker, is what I’m saying. I’m no longer a joyful juggler, is what I am telling you. I am infinitely more happy when I am taking my time and taking one step and then another (and maybe stopping there, because let’s face it-being mediocre feels GOOD).

Since I prefer to walk through life without hyperventilating once a day, I am learning that I have to, HAVE TO stay very connected to my precise priorities. At every moment. Because then, it is easy to see that so many things can so easily be put down, and I can swiftly return to being the day-to-day under-performer that I am perfectly happy being. I finally, truly do prefer to focus on what matters rather than on a whole bunch of stuff that doesn’t. Who knew?!

Here are my priorities, in no particular order:

  • My children
  • Myself
  • My marriage
  • My family
  • My work
  • My sleep
  • My health
  • My writing
  • My friendships

So, this isn’t rocket science, but it usually helps me to see that I don’t need to obsess or worry or even doubt anything I am up to. I just need to decide if it fits into the particular priority that I am focusing on at that one specific time, and if it doesn’t? BYE, FELICIA.

I’m officially putting all thoughts about things related to being a homeowner ON THE BACKBURNER for the rest of the day. I am officially putting facebook, the internet and emails ON THE BACKBURNER for the rest of the day. I am officially putting all thoughts about my calendar, christmas shopping and the kids’ schedules ON THE BACKBURNER for the rest of the day.

Doing less and not even sad about it. Bam!

xo,

M

2016

The universe gave me a HUGE gift this year, and I probably would have noticed it sooner, if I hadn’t been busy being REALLY pissed off about it (typical). Anywho, in this latest episode of What God Gives When He Takes Away, I lost the ability to run/walk, BUT I FOUND MYSELF. Here is the very long-winded story of how that came to be.

This past year, it felt like the bottom dropped out at the same time that the roof blew off. I went back to work full time for all the wrong reasons, and, naturally, it was awful. My kids entered two “challenging” developmental stages AT THE SAME TIME (2 year old hitting me, 3 year old tantrums at all the times). If there was an injury to be had, I was having it, and surgery was in my near future. Finally, my 2 year old was up all night, and so was I. Ultimately, I was tired and in pain and really ready for Calgon to take it all away, and then a crisis occurred in my marriage.

Yes, Jesus, you can take the wheel, because I AM OUT, I thought. I just CANNOT, I believed. I planned for hip surgery, watched my children growing/exploding too fast for me to keep up with, and wondered, seriously, WHERE WAS I IN ALL OF “THIS” ANYMORE?

Spoiler alert: I was lost. And, as soon as I realized I was lost? I got angry.

I got super, duper angry. Like, mad at God and my husband and my parents and my uterus and the weather and the season and the year and THE WORLD (cue Godzilla voice on that last one for effect). Anyway, I was so darn pissed off (thank you, Jesus), that I broke right on through the haze I had been in and I WOKE THE F UP. I looked around me. I was like, WHAT THE WHAT? Nope. Not going out like this, sister.

You know what I have been doing way too much of over the last 4-5 years? BEING SMALL. Really. Like, shrinking to make space for my growing family. Shrinking to make space for my marriage. (Noble effort here, all around, but maybe I overdid it which is totally typical for me). It’s no wonder I was lost, because I had disappeared, shrinking to hide from things that needed me or, worse, that scared me, like:

Being a Mom. Wow, that is some scary business in the beginning for all the days, right? I have been super overwhelmed trying to figure this gig out, and it’s taken me some time to learn that I’m NEVER going “to figure it out,” so better to get back to being MYSELF, and let the rest work its way out. It sounds so simple, but trust that this took me 4 years to discover. Good times!

Being Married. Also, wow. Marriage is about the riskiest business in town, and guess what? I didn’t realize the risk until I was way the F married and trying to balance MYSELF with ANOTHER PERSON and doing ALL OF LIFE’S THINGS in partnership with SOME ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSON and NOT JUST ME and OUR KIDS ARE DEPENDING ON US so NO PRESSURE but SMILE FOR THE FAMILY PHOTO!

Let me say, here, that I LOVE my husband. He’s a wonderful guy. Marriage is hard even if you’re both Beyonce, and I’m not going to sugar-coat that for you, friends. We’ve had a long ass learning curve, my hubs and I, and he was not the one who asked me to shrink. I went ahead and did that on my own (it’s my thing).

In fact, I have 35 years of experience shrinking to make room for other people’s needs under my belt, and while I learned this behavior very young and it was the only way to survive back then, I know better now. My kids haven’t taken anything from me and neither has my husband. In fact, they’ve given me so many things, and the first thing on that list of gifts is A REASON TO GROW INTO MY HIGHEST SELF. Never has this been more pronounced than in the last year, when I have regularly found myself stopping and asking, in complete desperation: Who am I going to be for myself and for my family? This year gave me the perfect conditions to go and look for that person, and while I hadn’t planned on doing that search sitting down, I now realize it was exactly the way I had to go.

So, circling back to the point here, by the time the clock struck midnight on good ol’ 2016, I was already profoundly, deeply and painfully lost, and at a time in my life when being lost can easily go unnoticed (read: BUSY AF). I was surviving, hidden underneath all of the work and the issues and the stuff and the fears and the challenges and the everyone else. 2016 showed up and said: WORK. Or, in other words:

The Lord came down and granted me two silver crutches and said, unto me: Go, forth! And, be found, wise woman. Look deep, deep inside yourself while seated on your uncomfortable couch. There, you will find YOUR ANSWER.

Kidding. It way didn’t happen like that, but I did find myself having to spend time WITH MYSELF in a brand new way. At first and for a while, I was mad about it. I cursed the names of all those I loved. But, I came back. And I kept showing up. And doing my work. I’m still doing it, and finding lots of things along the way. I found my voice (EXHALE TIMES 1000 BC THAT WAS ANNOYING). I found my spirit. I found my faith. I found my COURAGE. I’m still scared, but I’m not hiding and I’m not going to be silent. Finding myself hasn’t taken away tough stuff, hard times, bad days and LIFE. But, it is giving me the courage to do the work with strength, with humor and with gusto-three things I hadn’t felt in a long time.

These times of upheaval are so intense and they hurt. It’s hard. It doesn’t make sense. Until you choose to let it. When you do, you have to hang in, and for longer than you may deem acceptable. Then, I promise you, because I’m THERE, DUDE: Something important is coming.

For some of us, we have to get REALLY uncomfortable and LITERALLY IMMOBILE in order to get found. Especially if you’re a high functioning person, like me. Because I tell you, guys, I would have kept myself busy doing all the things for all the others forever, if I hadn’t been stopped. And stuck. And handed these magic crutches.

If you’re in the DUMPS. If you’re L-O-S-T. If you’re feeling small and stuck and shriveling. You may need to sit down and do some searching. I’m no spiritual leader and I am NOT a therapist or even a person you should necessarily trust with your plants and pets, but I am really, truly tuned into myself for the first time in a while. And that feels like the most important thing in the world.

xo,

M

Growing Up is Hard to Do

My son turns 4 next month. While he is still small, he seems sort of gigantic to me lately, and these 4 years are a blur. My pregnant and postpartum days are behind me, and it seems like all of a sudden that I’m no longer surrounded by toothless grins and pureed peas and babies slung onto my hip.

Those babies grew teeth and learned to eat their peas whole and now are too big to sit comfortably on my hips. Those days were exhausting and always new (I didn’t know whether I was up or down half the time), and I worked all the time, but without pay or much recognition. Caring for babies can seem like invisible work unless you’re the one doing it (or, perhaps, the one who has done it). But the urgency and the tenderness of the work is energizing in a way that always gave me strength when I most needed it.

Nowadays, I’m spending a lot of time realizing how futile my initial worries as a new mom really were. Breast or bottle? My babies did both, but mainly, they were fed. Cry it out or attachment parenting? Again, I did a bit of both, and eventually, they slept and not one of them better than the other. There’s nothing like having two children to make it glaringly obvious that tools, tips and techniques are only useful in good luck, and that what matters most is the simple act of giving love. Over and over, again and again.

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As I age, and my babies age, I am learning that the only way to give my children the love, empathy and support they need is to first give it to myself. And, this requires a kind of shift that I’d say is pretty difficult to make when you have tiny babies, but not as difficult to make once they’ve grown into mouthy, small children (albeit, CUTE and mouthy small children). Still, it takes real, conscious effort to learn to take the oxygen mask first, again. I still struggle, in my body, to believe that could possibly be the right thing to do. Some kind of person was born along with both of my babies, and that person is me, their mother. Getting to know this new person is no small feat, and I find it even harder to crack her code since she so often turns to her children and seems to identify, primarily, with them.

But, my babies are no longer babies, and their changing needs are changing me. Some days, accepting that I have to put effort, space, time, air and breath back into myself and back into my body in order to give to them feels like a strange punishment, an alien request, an inconvenient truth. The world is rough, and for a while it was made less so because I looked only at those two tiny bodies.
I want to teach them patience, so I must learn it. I want to teach them faith, so I must practice it. I want to teach them compassion, empathy and generosity, so I must discover how worthy of those things I am, myself. When my child cries, I can no longer pick him up to make it stop. I have to teach him to find courage and be vulnerable and feel his feelings-all things I still continue to learn. It’s all new work these days, and the thing is, the work is really all in me.

It’s strange and spiritual and simple how giving birth isn’t just about bringing a baby into the world. Raising children isn’t just about keeping growing bodies out of harm and learning right from wrong. Each year that my child grows, so do I, and this is as terrifying as it is wonderful.

All ye mamas on the brink of having babies, or watching your babies become toddlers and then children, I send you my sweetest, most tender hugs. The road forward is a heartbreaking, soul saving and life-affirming journey into yourself. I’m there, at least that much I know.

xo (here we go),
M

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