Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Mom Tribe

When I say mom tribe what do you think of?  For me, it is the other mom's in my life that help support, encourage, love my kids just as much as I do, are true friends of mine and their kids are true friends of my kids.  It's the people that we see regularly, it's the people who even when we go weeks in between seeing one another still check in.  We think about one another, care about one another.
Moms, and dads as well, need to have that core group of people.  The group of people they can be considered a part of their tribe.  In fact, in all ages and stages, all areas of life from work to home, we need to have some sort of tribe.

The reason is they are there when you need them, they are there to push you to be a better person, they keep you on track and call you out on it when you are off.  You need to surround yourself with those who bring you up, not bring you down.

Sure, we all judge.  Some of us more than others, and sometimes more often than we would like to admit.  But what we forget is there is always a back story to what we see in front of us.  Having others who know us well keeps us accountable. 

There are many stages in life.  Sometimes we pass through one into the next effortless, kind of like a butterfly floating on a gentle breeze.  Other times we pass through them like a turkey trying to fly.  And yet other times, more like a loon where it may take us a bit, we will make a lot of noise, but once we get it we've got it.

Going into motherhood is one of those times where we fall into all of them at one point or another.  We think one day, yeah I've got this.  Then the next day, we look like the witch decoration you see at Halloween that went splat into a tree or the door.  Add more kids into the mix and you become a yo yo. 

It is vitally important to get to know other moms.  With time, you will find the ones you are supposed to be with.  The ones that let you know you aren't alone, the ones you can send a message to of encouragement, the ones that can read how things are going a mile away when they see you, the ones who will laugh and cry with you, the ones who will make you smile and give you a hug.  They don't care if your house looks like a tornado went through.  They don't care if your hair is a mess, clothes are stained, or you didn't put make up on. The ones who just plain get you.

Every now and then I start looking at adding a new activity into my life, one that involves moms and kids.  Most recently, I started to look at baby boot camp.  My thought, I can get in some more exercise, meet more moms, and give my kids something to do...and hope it all goes smoothly and my kids enjoy it as well.  Then, I began to think more about why I should do it.  When it came down to it my thought was this.  I would be dragging both my kids to something I wanted to do.  What benefit was there for them?  They would be strapped in a stroller for the entire hour.  Not worth the time, money, and rush to get out the door in the morning.

As I dug deeper, I was beginning to think that I should have a bigger mom tribe.  More mom friends.  But why?  I am really good where I am at.  Not to say that I wouldn't add more friends.  But if I did, I would want them to be the kind of friend who is a true friend.  I don't need to surround myself with a lot of people to just to make it through life.  I need to surround myself with quality. 

It's not about the number of friends you have, it's about the quality of friends you have.  Having three great friends who really understand you and your kids can go a long way and be better than having thirty friends who are more like acquaintances than true friends.  Sure, I suppose you could have a large amount friends, but think about many of them really truly know you? the real you? your family? would be there for you at 2 in the morning when all hell breaks loose? would actually take your kid for an hour or two just so you can take a nap?

Think about it.  Who is in your tribe?  I know who is in mine and I am blessed to have each one of them in my life.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Have a Beauiful Day!"

Have a beautiful day, four simple words that can make a big impact.  Today, I swung through the drive thru to pick up a "coffee" (can't have caffeine, so it's a mocha frappe, but I pretend it's coffee) and a little breakfast (fed the kids, got everything ready, and realized once we were on our way I hadn't fed myself...oops) as we headed to meet friends.  I payed at the first window and received my order at the second.  Nothing out of the ordinary really, until the person handing me my stuff said "have a beautiful day!", with a warm, friendly smile.  I am fairly certain I pulled away with an even bigger smile.

Her words were genuine.  Full of hope and calming.  Have a beautiful day is a game changer in perspective.  It boosts your mood, makes you smile, and the stress seems to float away.

That was at 8:30 this morning and her words are still with me as I write this at 3:15.  Why?  I am not sure.  But they are stuck.  Playing over and over in my mind.  It seems to make the things that are tough right now or have been tough lately and gives them less of a stronghold on me.  It made me stop mid disagreement with my three year about a certain book he chose to read before nap being too long and we needed to pick shorter ones.

The deal is, we usually read three.  If you pick one long, the other two have to be short.  On days we do nap later, it's three short or really short stories.  In the car, we had picked on the stories we were going to do, or so I thought.  But he was adamant about reading this one story, which was definitely one of the longest ones he has.

I pleaded with him to save it for after nap or maybe we could do it as one of his bedtime stories.  But nope, no go.  He really wanted that one.  Why, I don't know.  But I have learned (just need to remember it more) is that there is a reason he is so adamant about wanting certain stories.  I took a big breath in and was about to try pleading with him to change it out, when the words "have a beautiful day" rang through my mind first, then my heart.

My shoulders relaxed. My strong emotions and need to push subsided. My heart opened and my mind cleared.  The tension floated away into the air.  Then it hit me, okay.  If we do that story, it is the only one we do.  He stopped pushing, looked at me and said "okay".

Everyone was happy, relaxed.  What could have led to an all out battle and fit, ended peacefully.  Why, oh why, can't I remember to do this more?  Sometimes, as adults, we push and push too much that our kids get tired of it and all they want is to be heard.  It takes a word or phrase to make us stop, slow down, and listen...truly listen. 

I needed to hear those words, those four simple words.  So much about life, emotions, attitude is all about perspective.  We change our perspective (for the good or for the bad) we begin to focus on things differently.  With time, it is what our lives become and what we focus on.  Like I said, for the good or for the bad.  When we focus only on the negative, we miss the small things.  The moments made, memories shared, smiles passed, stories, laughs...some of the true joys of life.  When we focus on the positive, the bad doesn't seem so bad and we seem to let go of the negative things that don't have a place in our life in the first place.

So to you, I say to you..."Have a beautiful day!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

11 years

11 years ago I married my best friend, and yes, my high school sweetheart.  We've been together nearly 21 years.  Yes, you read that right, 21.  We've been through the awkward middle school years, the transition to high school, then the long distance of the college years, leading us to marriage and family.  Our relationship has seen a lot in those years.  Sometimes smooth, sometimes rocky.  But we've made it through, together, coming out stronger on the other side.

This past weekend my hubby and I celebrated our anniversary.  And by celebrate, we attempted to go out after the kids were in bed, but one of them had ideas of their own.  My youngest opted for going to bed much later than he normally does and by the time he was asleep it was nearly 9:00 and we were both ready to just go to bed.  By the time we went to bed, I said "well happy anniversary dear, goodnight".

It's funny, before kids we celebrated our anniversary more.  Some years it was just us, some years we were with extended family.  And some anniversaries are more memorable than others of course.  I will admit, it's usually the ones with extended family that I remember the most.  Why? Because we have usually been on vacation as well, enjoying some of our favorite places to visit and sharing the joy with others.  Then again, there is the year we had the most disastrous trip to Omaha as we were navigating parenting with a three month old and the longest road trip we've taken. 

This year, we got spend it with extended family.  In the morning we took in seeing the sights of Hudson and the Nina and Pinta.  Then I am pretty sure I took a nap when both kids did. We grilled out for dinner, which if you ask me, is one of the best ways to do dinner anytime.  And then ended the evening talking with family.

We've never been ones to do a lavish evening out.  It's just not our style really.  One year, I gave my hubby a case of his favorite beer and he gave me a giant bag of my favorite candy.  Nothing says love like beer and chocolate right?  Simple really, and after so long we know each other so well.  In fact, I am guessing had we gone out, we would have gone to Culver's for custard and maybe even some fried cheese curds.  Like my hubby said, one year we may be able to go out and celebrate our anniversary on our own. 

But for now, I will take spending the day as a family creating memories as a blessing.  And if we can toss in a beer and some chocolate, or custard and cheese curds while we are at it it's a bonus.  Sometimes just surrounding yourself with those you truly care for is all that really matters and is a celebration in itself.  Celebrate life, family, love, health...even if it's just a normal day of the week.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Fourth of July

 We recently celebrated the Fourth of July.  Usually we've haven't done much of anything, other than maybe catch the fireworks.  Some years we've gone camping or gone to the lake to spend time with family.  If we get out of town for the weekend, it was to do something we enjoyed while getting away from the crazy amount of fireworks that people set off in our neighborhood at all hours of the day, all weekend, for hours on end.

Once we had kids, their schedules became the dictating factor of what we would do, if anything.  And sometimes, it just meant going somewhere else for the weekend so that we could all still get some decent sleep.  This year, we decided to do a little more.

We found a parade that was in the morning, which for us really works better and is the time of day when we can more freely do things.  I've never been to a Fourth of July parade...I've been in them, but never watched one.  The parade we saw was one of the best ones I have seen.

T had so much fun watching it too.  A enjoyed it as well, when he was awake (yes, he was able to nap through some of it).  The look of awe and joy on my sons' faces were priceless.  The picture above is my oldest from when he saw four old time prop planes fly overhead. 

I took a handful of photos while we waited for things to start.  But what got me, was watching my kids and hubby.  Seeing them share in such a fun morning together.  My oldest and I danced to songs, and for the first time in a long time, I didn't really care if people looked at me funny.  We had fun!

I let go, let my guard down and just went with it.  I felt a tremendous weight lifted off my shoulders.

On the way home, my oldest reached across the van for his brother's hand and held it.  It was the perfect way to wrap up our adventure.  Despite the tantrums, the lack of listening sometimes, the high emotions, he shows a tremendous amount of love for those he cares about in his life.
The time around the fourth stirs up a lot of emotions and thoughts inside me.  You see, July 5 was Samantha's expected due date.  It's a day I am not sure what to do with now.  She came January 27 instead.  In fact, none of my kids arrived on their due date.  However, Samantha we held only for a brief moment.  But my sons, we still get to hold.  I rock with my oldest at night before he goes to bed.  And my youngest, as well as I feed him before he drifts off to sleep.

 This year, what struck me hard, was the feeling of gratitude.  While we don't know for certain, we are leaning most likely to being done growing our family.  That's a tough one to swallow some days.  But in my heart, I looked at what I had in front of me that day and I felt blessed.  Blessed to have my kids, my husband.  What I have, right now, is what I need and it feels complete.

Being Depleated and Needing a Break

It is said that in a person's life they go through many seasons.  In any given day, week, month, or year a person slides from one season to the next.  In away, we all have our Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.  Granted, sometimes it falls into the same order as the Earth's seasons, but usually, it goes with whatever rhythm and path of the person.

There are times when we are flying high, nothing can bring us down and there are times when we have exhausted our entire being, leaving us completely depleted.  It is something that everyone goes through and everyone feels. We all handle it a little differently, but there are times we handle it in the same way as someone else.

Mothers (I can only speak for moms, but I am sure dads feel the same way sometimes), I truly believe, end up being depleted much more quickly and for longer periods of time. They are the glue that holds many families together.  They give to their husbands, their child(ren), their friends, their to do lists, to their extended family.  They give so much, that sometimes at the end of the day, they have nothing left to give to themselves.

This leads to exhaustion.  Now, I am not talking the sleep deprived state of having a newborn and then leading into a kid who doesn't sleep well at night. I am talking about every square inch is exhausted.  The body, the heart, the mind.

Sure, we can do stuff that fills us back up.  But the length of time in which we are filled completely gets shorter and shorter.  Maybe it only takes a cup of coffee to fill us, five minutes here or ten minutes there.  And maybe not even every day.  But then that five minutes or ten minutes turns into longer stretches needed, and needed every day.  Sometimes that five minute break only ties us over for the next hour or maybe we can stretch until the kids go down for nap or bedtime.  But at what point do we hit our breaking point,  The point at which no matter what we do, we are never filled back up.  Never restored.

How can we pour into those we love, when our own cup is empty. At some point we break.  We need a break.  Not necissarily a vacation.  But a break.  This is easier said than done.  Why? Because even when we do get a break, we are still hyper foucsed on the needs of our families and our to do lists.  We feel guilty for needing the time to ourselves to do what fills us back up, to restore our hearts, minds, and body.

I can relate to this, as many others I am sure can.  I have two kids, whom I love and adore.  Who bring so much joy and laughter into my life.  Who I can't imagine my life without them.  Who I would do anything for, even if it means giving them all of me all the time.  I have a husband, who is an amazing father, has to go to work so I can stay home to raise our kids, and he would do anything for his kids and for me.

I am in a season now of complete exhaustion.  My emotions are strong, I hyper focus on the mistakes I make, I worry all to often if I am making the right decision, I feel a lot of guilt especially when it comes to how to balance two kids, two different schedules, two different needs, and a whole lot of emotions, I am my own worst enemy and can dwell on the negative side of the events of the day.  I find myself counting down the minutes until the next nap time or until everyone is in bed.  Only to fall into the couch tired and ready for bed myself.  But then when I go to bed, I can't fall asleep right away because my mind starts reeling or I have a toss and turn kind of night all night.  My body may be in bed, but my mind is still racing and even my dreams are so vivid that if I do sleep, there are parts of me still tired the next day.

How does one came back from this? How does one restore their heart, mind, and body?  It takes time.  But even before one can begin, we have to recognize where we are.  It is only once we hit that breaking point, sometimes the lowest of lows, that can finally then pick up the pieces and begin to rebuild and restore.  First, we the foundation.  We need a strong foundation, because without one, the pieces will crumble again, but more quickly.  Only once we have that solid foundation, that solid footing, can we take the next step.  What is the next step?  Only you can answer that for yourself.  It is a step that can help being to fill you, by only doing what you fills you. 

Yes, perspective and attitude can go a long way.  But when we aren't ready for it, it means nothing.  Sometimes we need to let it all fall down, break, and then rebuild.  We need to free ourselves from the guilt, worry, fear, whatever may be holding us back.  Instead we need to hope again, trust, believe, and have courage.  When it comes down to it, we aren't alone.  Sometimes we only need to open up, even if only a small amount, to get things started. Today, I am choosing to open up.  It may be only a crack, but eventually, the doors will open all the way.  Today, I choose to start to restore my heart, mind, and body. 

How am I going to do that?  I am not yet totally sure, but I know things need to change.  Not just for my sake, but for all those in my life.  I need to restore the me that I know I can be, the me that I am supposed to be, so that I can be the mom, spouse, friend that God made me to be.

What season are you in?