Monday, January 27, 2014

The Ugly Truth

Have you ever had a moment (or in my case, a weekend) where you felt so overwhelmed about life in general that your body literally can no longer take it, and you go into "the fierce broken dam meltdown mode"? This is not to be confused with the "mom's-lost-her-shit" meltdown mode that I may or may not have on a weekly basis. While in both cases, you will find a woman (or man) who has done lost their mind, the latter refers to moments where I explode. I want anyone and everyone to know how I feel, and I.Am.Mad. This is usually followed up with many apologies to my kids and ends with extra doses of hugs and kisses to make myself feel less guilty.

The former, however, is a very dark place. It's a place where I am actually ashamed of telling you I've been, and I haven't been in this place for a really long time. It looks a lot like depression and anxiety and feels like an out of body experience. This past weekend, I was in a low place.

 One of my New Year's goals was to make our mornings happier, it has been a lot easier said than done. I was on the last day of the week where my middle little just couldn't get his crap together to save his soul. He had spent most of the week forgetting homework or books to take home, and when he wasn't forgetting those things, he was forgetting pieces of his snow gear to take to school, and I was on the last inch of my patience supply. I was exhausted and mentally tapped out, and so I did what any other impulsive parent does. I yelled. A lot. Because that's what I do, and I'm not proud of it.

 It's not a new thing for us by any means, but that morning felt different. That morning as I was allowing my blood pressure to fall, I glanced in the rearview mirror to see the solemn face of my seven year old little boy. The look on his face wasn't sad or impartial like it usually was, but instead it held a look of defeat. It was as if his soul was crying, "I can't do anything right. I'm a failure." In that moment, my heart broke. I could physically feel the pieces of my heart cracking in my chest and falling to pieces. I couldn't believe I was like this, not just once in a blue moon, but several times a week. What was I doing to my boy? I sure wasn't building self confidence, and I sure as heck wasn't getting any brownie points for effort. I reached my hand back into his seat and prayed silently that he would grab it. Thankfully, he did, and while I didn't deserve his grace, there it was. I smiled at him from the rearview mirror and told him I was sorry, and that I loved him and that I was wrong. And as though nothing had ever happened, he smiled back at me and said, "It's okay mom. I forgive you."

Why is this so simple for kids to do, yet seems almost impossible for adults to do? Grace granted to me by my children hasn't just happened this time, and while I know I take it for granted a lot, this time felt different. What I expected to push me into overdrive in the trying not to blow it with my kids challenge, actually did the opposite. Yep. It gets uglier. That night, I told my husband with tears streaming down my face what had happened. I told him I was sick of us being the family that yelled. I needed something different. Anything so I would NEVER see that look on his face ever again.

  So I did what nobody in the history of ever should EVER do when they are feeling like a shitty parent. I read one too many blog posts/articles about life and parenting and what wouldn't completely screw up my kids, and instead of reflecting on my parenting and how I could make it better, I projected my frustration onto husband in a moment of shameful bantering about the way he was talking to the kids. Um, hello Mandi?? Tell me about your morning again? Gah.

Well, things kind of spiraled downhill from there. Without making this into a book, the next day was a dark one. I was confronted with the fact that I don't fight fair. I may get angry with him for his communication skills (or lack thereof), but I am MEAN. I'm not going to go into details, but let's just say that Saturday I saw just how awful I really was, and it didn't sit well with me. Am I the only one who has ever curled up in the fetal position in their dark bedroom with the covers pulled up over their head, listening to Bon Iver with headphones on sobbing in convulsive fits for an hour and a half? No? Well me neither, then.

In all seriousness, it's been a long time since I've felt that down. It literally felt like I had left my body and was watching it all play out as though I were in a tv show. I couldn't even fake happiness. At one point, I didn't even hear my four year old climb onto the bed to lay down next to me, wrap his arms around me and wipe away my tears. He didn't have any lengthy speech for me on why I should get my butt up and stop crying, but he did have words of wisdom. Oh, my baby is philosophical I tell you. He said, "Mama, it's time to be happy now." And that was it. He kissed my cheek, squeezed me tight and walked out of my room.

This whole life thing is hard. Parenting is hard. Being a wife is hard. Trying to juggle a career with a family and time for yourself is crazy hard, but it's doable. It's not going to be perfect. God knows that won't happen, but my kids have taught me this weekend that there isn't one way to be a perfect parent, but there are many ways to be a good one, and when I screw up, they've proven to me that grace exists. And if my  kids are willing to dish it out so generously, then I sure as heck better be able to do the same.

Sometimes, you need to be a little broken. It forces you to pick up the pieces, one at a time, and examine them before putting them back together. While I HATE feeling the way I did for 3 days straight, it was essential in taking the next step into changing my behavior. My parenting strategy is not going to be the same as Dan's, and while we need to spend some more time working out the kinks and details of this whole parenting gig, I'm realizing that we are both trying our very best, mostly. We both know we have areas to work on, but we've done a lot more good in raising them than screwing them up I think. I hope.

I don't know where we go from here. I'm going to try to remember to just do the next right thing and keep telling myself those same words daily. Love and Logic is a class that people rave about, and I'm incredibly interested in it myself. It seems to have a lot of success with parents I know who use it. If you use it or have used it, I'd love your input!

Here are a few articles from Hands Free Mama that always hit close to home. It wasn't easy to be honest about this, but I feel like maybe I'm not the only one who has these moments and these meltdowns, and I've found out that we all belong to each other in this whole journey of life thing. So that kind of means that while I love to write about all the things I'm doing right and fun, it's necessary that I include the shameful and the hard to tell stories too.

                                           The Bully Too Close to Home
                                         The Important Thing About Yelling

I'll leave you with this because it's something I need to remind myself this week. Happy Monday (almost Tuesday)!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Our Happening Weekend

I'm not quite sick of the snow....not yet anyways. For the most part, we've enjoyed staying in when we can, cuddled up on the big comfy chair with three little bodies trying to nudge their way into the crevices between their mama and their dad, but this weekend called for some out and about.

Friday night was Carter's first ever dual tournament. Normally, he participates in tournaments where he wrestles in a bracket with kids that are in his same age/weight range. He would wrestle all the kids in his bracket and get a trophy/medal for placing. While duals don't give individual medals for placing, it does focus more on the team aspect of the sport. The whole team wrestles against another team and while one team member wrestles, the rest are on the sidelines cheering them on. It's the way it's played in high school, and I for one think it's great practice for them. It was a long night, including lots of bathroom breaks for my four year old, who has become obsessed with washing his hands as well as taking selfies with any handheld device he can get his hands on. He likes them. A lot. There was also a bit of a scare with a toddler who was choking for a good 15 minutes. Moments like that make me want to wrap my kids up in my arms and never let them go. It was super scary and such a relief when they finally got him to cough it up. All in all, the kids had a ton of fun. He's starting to be more in his element with all of this wrestling business. We'll see once if Sawyer decides it's a good fit for him next year.
Excited after his first win of the night!

Team comraderie

Riptide Pride!

Saturday was the Daycare Christmas swimming party. Sawyer had been excited for this day for weeks. We love our Beth. She's amazing. She paid for the whole family to enjoy a day of swimming together, with sweets to boot. What's not to love!? The day ended phenomenally. We got to kick off our first date of 2014's twelve dates of Christmas. My mom picked up our littles and off we went, all gussied up to the Casino to listen to Nicholas David in concert.

 We had a nice supper, followed by getting my butt kicked by the penny slots. No luck for this girl. Our $20 fun was over in less than 45 minutes, and we were forced to do nothing but sit in our seats waiting for the concert to start. I did, however, get "The Feelin" himself to give me a little wave before the concert started. I'm pretty sure it means we're best friends. Dan's pretty sure it means I'm a creeper and that he's got his bodyguards watching out for the crazy girl in the 5th row.

We were incredibly surprised that the crowd was quite a bit older than us. We kind of figured that there would be many people our age, but the average was about 50-55. In any case, they know how to get jiggy with it (is that what kids are calling it these days?) and fun was had by all. Best of all, I got my picture taken with him and his crazy awesome saxophone player. He was amazeballs. I just loved it!

This guy has killer skills on the guitar!

He doesn't think I'm creepy. That's his "we're best friends" face.

I was in awe of his amazing talent on the saxophone. I could have listened to them all night!

While we could have hit up the pool/hot tub for a few hours afterwards, we both felt like SNL and our king size bed were calling our name. Gosh we're old. I'd definitely recommend staying there if you get the chance. It was a lot of fun!

We ended our weekend with friends and hot wings and smokies and chips and queso....oh yeah, and football. Our team's going to the SUPERBOWL baby!!! Woot woot!!! I have a very happy husband indeed. My favorite part of the day was breaking a personal record for distance. I ran 6 miles outside, and it felt glorious!
Last week Monday, a mama on the East coast was training for the Boston Marathon when she was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Saturday the 18th was a day where people all over the country ran in her honor. I'm a beginning runner. I don't have the lung capacity or stamina to withstand the cold and wind that we had on Saturday, but I was bound and determined to run in honor of Meg Menzies. It was the hardest two miles I've ever run. I walked a lot, and my lungs were on fire, but I did it. Meg Menzies was my strong this weekend. #megsmiles

Hope your week is off to a good start! Happy Monday!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Goals and Enjoying

I'm not a big fan of the word "resolution". Not for any other reason than because it is correlated with the New Year and I fail at every one I attempt. I prefer the word goal because it is something I am working on attaining. This year, I've mentally been making a list of things that I'd like to work towards. Goals I want to attain before the end of 2014. It gives me a little more breathing room. And since this space is mine and is one I'll come back to to remind myself to get back on the horse, I'm going to jot down the ones I've thought of in the last few weeks.

Run 500 miles this year
Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes
Run a "real" timed race this year.
Focus more on strength and how I feel more than a number on the scale

Spend more one on one time with my kids
Bring back "Talk Time" to the bedtime routine
More Family fun nights
Tell my husband how much I appreciate him more
More love. More cuddles. More being present.
Less distraction. Less technology. Less "maybe laters"
Happier mornings

Learn how to take better pictures and how to edit them
Blog more
Embrace myself.
Be more confident.
Read more
Find balance

Another thing I'm not fond of when it comes to resolutions is that they always made me feel like who I was wasn't good enough. I've learned this year that I'm doing a lot of things right. In our social media world, blogging, pinterest, facebook, and many other forms of media have undoubtedly made me feel like I'm a lesser mom at some point this year. Ironically, these are the same tools that I use daily to connect with people I love, to plan fun activities for my family, to recharge my batteries or refresh my soul. It's all about balance, really. Some of these goals will be forever goals and others are just starting points for places I'd like to go deeper. Regardless, I want to pat myself on the back for the things I've done right this year, so I'm adding those too.

Woo hoo Mandi Jo!
*Embracing small things
*Being more patient
*Exercising and trying to eat right
*Nurturing friendships and being there for the people I love
*Documenting life
*Making bucketlists with my family and checking things off
*Living and being more present than before

I know this list will be ever changing. Some things will be more important than others in certain seasons of our lives. The one thing I want to always remember is that people are more important than things or places to be or to-do lists. That's something I started embracing at the beginning of this year, and I intend to keep on remembering that.

Here's to life! Let's enjoying living it!

On that note, here's what we've been enjoying this week:

Snow days!

No picture, but we are enjoying an early out that counts as a full day! Lots of snuggling and movie watching. :)

Random Acts of Kindness from my hubby
A bubble bath, a brand new book, a glass of wine, and candles=perfection

A little Marley and Me
I don't get to see this one (and her mama, her sister and her dad) often enough. Love spending time with her.

Him. All of this. All of his cute faces and funny comments and the fact that he doesn't even know he's tfunny. It's moments like this that I regret not being so present for my older two. But you know what they say about regret....Don't. Just take it as a lesson learned. Who you are now matters more. Period.

And one more for the road. Seriously. He makes up stories and recites them with the cutest expression evah!

I'm finally able to say I'm starting to love it. I had one of my best runs so far this winter on Monday, and it made me so excited for spring to come!

Have any goals this year?  Share em!