Stop Living For the Freakin’ Weekend

I can admit that I’ve been this person who counts down to Friday…just waiting for the weekend to come so that I can live.  While I do still very much look forward to the weekends, my life got exponentially better when I stopped living for the weekend.  Yours can be that way too.

Here’s the thing, y’all.  There are seven days in a week.  What happens when you spend a good chunk of the week in a blur, waiting for Saturday?  You lose valuable time that you can never get back.

What about the weekend makes it more special than the weekdays for you?

Do you work Monday through Friday and off on weekends? And do you dislike that job?  Is it stressful?  Do you hate school days because of all the chaos that comes with that?  Maybe you are a stay-at-home parent and your other half works weekdays so you look forward to having an adult around on the weekend.

For me, there were times when I did not place much value on the weekends because I was a retail manager and usually worked.  I worked a couple of jobs that were typical weekday jobs and they were highly stressful, so I looked forward to that weekend break and time with my family.  Currently, working for myself from home and homeschooling four children, I crave those weekends, which bring time with Stuart and help around the house.  He works very long days, so I don’t even get to look forward to time in the evenings with him much.

Somewhere along the way, I changed in the last few months.  I started just taking advantage of blocks of time every day.  It took deciding that I was going to be positive and enjoy each and every ordinary day.

A random Tuesday doesn’t have to be full of plans and fun moments to be enjoyed.  It takes a simple action – a naptime margarita, a playdate with your best friend and her kids, watching shitty reality TV in your room while the kids watch YouTube videos, a trip to Ulta or a solo movie while your kids are at school.

There are two things I do every weekday to make sure I am taking care of my mental health and just living my life to the fullest.

  1. My pre-dinner ritual.  Whether or not the kids are home, I turn up my favorite music, pour a drink, and dance around the kitchen while I make dinner.  Trust me, it makes cooking dinner less of a routine chore and more of a moment to be enjoyed.  Sometimes I Snapchat the moment.  Sometimes I Instagram it.  Sometimes I leave my phone on the charger and just soak it in.
  2. Naptime routine.  My boys do not nap and Claudia rarely does, but we still make it part of the day.  They get in their beds, I put on the TV or hand them a tablet, and I take a coffee or beer to my room.  I lock the door and watch DVRed shows, workout, blog, do my makeup…whatever I want to do in peace.  They aren’t allowed to so much as knock on the door unless someone is hurt.

You don’t have to do the same things I do to make your day good.  But do something that makes you happy.  Soak in a bath, text a good friend, watch horrible TV, go for a walk, read a book, sit in Starbucks.

Every day is special.  Every.  Freaking.  One.  Because you’re still alive…. And the weekend will be here before you know it.  Now go live.

[t-shirt here]

For My Mama – Love, Rhonda

Damn, mothering is hard.  Like, really hard.  I never really understood exactly what goes into parenting until I became a parent myself – I’m sure every parent can say that.  On a daily basis, I experience every emotion possible – joy, sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, love, contentment, and so on.  It is absolutely a rollercoaster ride.

It’s amazing to think back to my childhood and the way my mama was with us.  I can’t remember her ever losing her temper.  That isn’t to say she never lost it, but if she did, it didn’t stick with me.  Good god, I hope my kids don’t think back as adults and remember that I am an asshole most of the time.  Mama and Daddy lived traditional marriage roles and I honestly believe it was the best thing for us children.  She was always there when we got off the school bus, with a snack and hugs.  I always knew my mom would be there for me.  I still know that today.

As teenagers, my brother and I were absolute dreams.  I am not kidding – ask anyone with close knowledge of my family.  I didn’t go through the typical I-hate-my-mother phase that most teen girls do.  If anything, we were the closest in my teen years.  I knew that no matter what I was going through – boy trouble, friend drama, making a C on a test (yes I was the person who might cry over that), color guard stress – mama would have a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.

 

Mama was always The Cool Mom.  “Shit” was always part of her vocabulary, she put me on birth control just because I had a boyfriend, she encouraged me to wear short-shorts and midriff tops (I refused both and wish I could go back and slap myself), and I never had a curfew.  And you know what?  I was so fucking well-behaved.  Sometimes I think back and roll my eyes because I totally missed out on the rebellious teenager experience.  Giving us so much space to make stupid mistakes really allowed us the freedom to discover ourselves and turns out, we were super good kids.  I didn’t drink until I was in college, I only had sex with my super-long-term boyfriends, and didn’t get into legal trouble until I was a parent myself.  I’ve still never done drugs.  I know that my mama contributed to my good behavior.  When parents smother their kids, kids rebel.  It wasn’t an issue in my household, as evidenced by the fact that I could stay at my boyfriend’s house until 1:00 am.  I was allowed to make these decisions.  My mama trusted me.  The feeling was mutual.

The way I was mothered has shaped the way I parent.  My kids are fully allowed and encouraged to fuck up.  It’s the only way we learn.  And holy shit, the woman is the best grandparent.  My grandmother was everything to my ENTIRE family and I couldn’t have imagined that my own mama would be just as amazing, but she really is.   I come from a long line of strong southern women and I wouldn’t be the crazy person I am today without that.

My mama taught me so many things, but the most important thing she taught me was self-confidence.  When I started developing, I would walk with my arms crossed over my chest and she told me to walk confidently.  Last year, I wore a bikini for the first time as a mother and I almost cried as I texted a picture to her.  She has been rocking bikinis since always.  And she really ROCKS it because she is confident.  I am glad she has taught me to love myself.

I love you, Mama, and I hope I can be as fucking crazy and strong as you.

Three Years

My entire life, I dreamed of having a daughter.  I always assumed I would.  It never crossed my mind that it may not happen.  It’s funny how we take those things for granted.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I was absolutely certain it was a girl.  So certain, in fact, that when the ultrasound revealed huge balls, I was in complete denial.  The ultrasound tech and doctor were 100% sure.  I was not.  I “accepted” it, but cried all the way home.  I didn’t even want to buy boy stuff.  I was that convinced it was wrong.  When he was born, I was delighted and decided it would be ok, because it would be good for my future daughter to have a big brother to watch out for her.

I didn’t have any strong feeling when pregnant with my second child.  I couldn’t decide if it would be a boy or a girl, but I certainly hoped for a girl.  One boy and one girl sounded perfect to me and would complete my family.  Ultrasound once again revealed a FOR SURE boy.  I burst into tears right there in the dark room.  Of course, I accepted it and got hyped up to bring a little brother into the world.

Third time’s the charm, right?  We had decided three was our limit for children and this was going to be the last time.  I hoped for a girl, but had to resign myself to the fact that it was unlikely.  Ultrasound showed a boy.  I accepted it quickly, didn’t cry, but was a little depressed until he was born.  I decided to fully embrace the Boy Mom title as part of my identity.

After Quentin was born, I was so happy for a little while.  I felt like our family was complete.  After some time, I started to get that ache again.  I didn’t necessarily want another child for the sake of having a fourth.  I just wanted a girl.  So desperately.  I felt like I was meant to have a daughter and I felt like my time had come.  I am not sure how, but I managed to talk my then-husband Dustin into JUST ONE MORE.  I had to promise him that it would be the last time and that we would get permanent birth control after.  I also had to convince him that I would be happy with a fourth boy, since there are no guarantees and odds weren’t in our favor.  I meant it.  I was happy to have a fourth boy if that’s what was meant for me.  Being loved on by a bunch of little boys is such an amazing experience.

From the moment I peed on a stick in my work bathroom and saw the positive, I JUST KNEW.  I had a gut instinct it was a girl.  I didn’t tell anybody.  I didn’t want to put it out there into the universe.  I wanted to hold that instinct close to my heart.  When we announced my pregnancy, everyone hoped for a girl.  I wanted to say, “it’s a girl! I just know it!”  Soon after announcing, I was on the phone with my mom.  I could feel it that we both thought it was a girl.  Neither of us said it, but would later admit we were both thinking it.  The days leading up to the big ultrasound, Dustin and I were discussing names.  We had long had our girl name picked out, waiting to be used.  We mulled over boy names and NOTHING worked.  Hell, we had used everything we loved already.  We decided on two “fine” names.  Inside, I knew we wouldn’t need them, so it wouldn’t matter anyway.

Nothing, no past experiences, no instincts, could have prepared me for how I would feel when the ultrasound tech very casually announced, “and it’s a girl.”

Heart. Stopped.  Shock.  I looked at Dustin and tears filled my eyes.

“Wait?  Are you sure?”  I asked.  She pointed out all the important markers of girl parts.  She was certain.

Even though I had felt it instinctually, I still was in shock that this was my reality.  I excitedly announced it on social media after telling my family and closest friends.  It felt like the entire world shared in our joy, and we were over the moon.  I didn’t fully believe it until the 32-week ultrasound, when I asked the tech, “is it still a girl?”  At that moment, my world truly started transforming into a pink paradise and I haven’t been the same since.

Since Claudia Love entered our world, everything is better.  I have a different and unique bond with each of my boys, but the relationship with Claudia is just special.  I see so much of myself in her.  She has changed the way I treat myself, the way I think of myself, the way I think of other women.  I avoid saying anything about skinny or fat.  I model behaviors I want her to learn.  She picks up on all my sass and repeats all my ugly words.  She wants to be just like her mommy, so I have to think about all my actions.

photo by Nicole Brack Photography

I can honestly say, we needed her.  We all did.  I am so thankful Dustin agreed to take this journey with me.  I know he can’t imagine life without her either.

photo by Nicole Brack Photography

I still sometimes can’t believe she’s here.  But she is – and she has been here for three years today.  It goes by so fast.  Cliche, but so damn true.

Tomorrow we will celebrate her with a small family party.  But for now, she wants to go to Target.  As you wish, Princess.

When One Becomes Two

Becoming a mother was something I’ve always known that I wanted to do. Becoming a mother also made me realize just how much I’ve never really cared for children. Does that seem strange? Sound strange? Surely there are other women, or men, who can relate. I am the oldest of my siblings. My sister is five years and my brother is eight years younger than me. I’ve always felt/had maternal instincts toward/for them. It was and is my instinct to take care of them. To look out for them. To nurture them. To warn them. To help them. I mean. I can still remember the day my parents told me that they were going to give me a baby sister. Yes. Give me a baby sister. I thought they had her for me. But, as far as other children were concerned, I could have always cared less. I never babysat. I never felt the urge to approach or comment on other people’s babies. I just, was never interested.

I was twenty-eight years old when I had my son, and he was literally the first infant I’d ever held. His diaper was the first diaper I’d ever changed. He was the first baby I ever fed a bottle to. He was the first child I ever rocked to sleep. He was my first. My absolute first. Once I had him in my arms – in my life – my love for him seemed all consuming. I don’t believe in “one true loves” or “soul mates” or “love at first sight” …. But becoming a mother. Seeing my baby boy for the first time. A parent’s love for their child. Or at least, my love for my child, was the closest thing I’d ever experienced to all those trite love cliches.

Don’t get me wrong – becoming his mom was not always easy. There were too many sleepless nights to count. Many tears  of frustration were shed between the two of us. However, I was completely and utterly enamored by him. I actually would tell him that I only needed him. That he would be my only child. And I meant it all. I could not imagine having another child. I did not want another child. I definitely did not think or envision that I would ever have another child.

 

Boy, was I so wrong.

 

A few months before Cooper would turn two years old, I found out that I was pregnant with Sophie. That was a really shocking and unexpected moment for me. Even though Cooper was also not a planned pregnancy, as I said, I had been expecting that pregnancy my entire life.

I love my baby girl so so much. I cannot not – would not – imagine life without her. I am so fortunate to be her mother. I am so lucky to call her mine.

But – When One child becomes Two …. For me at least – your heart breaks a little for your first. Your second baby will never know the difference. Her life will always be one that has included your first child. But your first. He’ll know. It doesn’t matter that he’s only just barely not a baby himself. He will know. And that. That broke my heart.

Anyone that I ever asked, or anyone that volunteered the information, said that going from one child to two was the hardest transition of all. I completely agree.

It is hard to know how to split your time between the two. There are so many times when they both need you at the same time. What do you do? What do you say? I once read a blog post from a mother who was feeling all these same feelings. And she said that the best piece of advice she’d gotten and implemented, was to remember that your first. Your elder child. He or she would be more able to discern that you were putting him or her second to your baby. So, maybe in the beginning – especially when your baby is a newborn – you tend to that toddler’s needs first. You reinforce that you are still there for them. That you still love them even more now. That you still treasure your time with them. That you are still available. I think that is fantastic advice. I’m not saying neglect your baby. But try to fight that instinct to put your newest addition’s needs before your first. Yes, a newborn is fragile. Yes, a newborn baby cannot do anything for themselves. BUT your newborn will not die if you let them cry a few minutes longer while you fix your toddler his or her sippy cup of chocolate milk. Or help your toddler search for the green truck instead of the red one. And, I would also add to remember to incorporate all the shared moments you can. Let that toddler sit on your lap while you feed your newborn. When I would pick up my children after work, I would try to be intentional about greeting them as a unit. That may seem silly, but I just wanted them to know that I saw them both – at the same time.

Being a mother – a parent – is such a messy and complicated job. Especially, when you have more than one little munchkin to call yours.  But it is also so beautiful. I am grateful that I…that Cooper.. Have Sophie in our lives. I don’t know if he’ll remember the time when it was just him. I don’t know if he’ll remember all the angst he demonstrated toward her. I’m sure he won’t remember that I had to lock her in the room while she slept – for fear that he may topple her out of her bassinet. I don’t know if he will recall the fear in my voice as I had to scoop her up just before he landed his hands on her. He was only two. And this strange little creature was stealing his Mommy from him. I don’t blame him. I don’t judge him. I would never ever shame him. He was acting in love. He was fighting (sometimes physically) for his love. For his Mommy.

I’ve said this a million times before – and I’ll say it a million more: Love is a choice and an Action. Cooper loves his sister now. I’m pretty sure he didn’t at first. But they are the perfect pair. I am so thankful that I have two babies to love. Two babies to watch grow. Two babies to call my own.

Please, leave us a comment. Share you own stories of growing your family – we love hearing from y’all!

Until next time,