I've realized I need to write shorter posts....so here is my roundup of thoughts regarding turning 30:
I'm more comfortable in my skin than I ever have been. I've accepted the fact that I'm pale as pale can be and have embraced the paleness that is my Irish self.....so I wear skirts, and shorts, and lots'o'sunscreen. Take that girl on the bus in 7th grade who made fun of my pale legs!
I. Finally. Love. My. Hair. I know how to fix it- straight, curly, up, down.
I have my own sense of style and don't feel the need for Hollywood to define my style.
I know longer feel guilty when people admire an outfit because I put thought and effort in to styling myself. I silently accept the positive attention and remind myself that there is nothing wrong with making myself feel good about what I see in the mirror. I do it for me and no one else. This has been difficult for my introvert self.
I'm more self aware than I ever have been. I don't mind admitting that I'm cranky or tired or flat out pissed about something. I can apologize and mean it. I don't always need to be right. The only one I need to prove anything to is myself (and occasionally my husband)!
I will eventually lose the baby weight...will probably never lose the stretch marks or little baby pouch. I will rock a vintage inspired one piece or tankini instead. I only accepted this after having Little R.
I'm happy in my marriage and feel sorry for women who aren't. I don't feel sorry for women who aren't willing to work at it or who think a relationship should just magically be perfect.
I understand that men are not perfect, are not mind readers, and aren't all that complicated. Women on the other hand, really put these guys through the ringer.
I absolutely love being a mom....but it is not the only person I am.
I'm able to be thankful and proud and humble at the same time.
I was much more stressed and freaked out about turning 25 (that's like a whole quarter of a century you know!)
I know I still have things to work on- like sticking to a budget and paying off debt, not overextending and over-committing myself, taking time to take care of me.
I need to be better at accepting compliments.
I need to be less of a perfectionist.
I'm one of the most impatient people on the planet (between me and CG- I think we've got impatience covered).
As promised in my earlier post about my loving toddler...this week began glum and difficult, as it does from time to time for even the happyest of people! I awoke Monday morning feeling drained, and the week was only beginning. I immediately got up and began the morning routine, but as I've known for some time now, when mommy is in a crummy mood it immediately rubs off on Little P, and with the first toddler fit of the morning, it permeates the entire house...
I was feeling tired, overwhelmed by all the things we need to do in the coming months, and anxious about getting any of it done. We have a long list of to do's in order to put our condo on the market. That list includes a lot of finishing work- the floors in the entryway, the redo of the banisters, painting, shelving and caulking- all with the ongoing duties owed to toddler and baby! We have move ins and move outs and the end of the school year just around the corner. We have preparations to make for our move overseas next year. I have a host of new projects to occupy me at work.
We are continuously troubleshooting the Little R Gas/Reflux/Spit up/Tummy pain issue- and with that has come my new diet- no dairy...and no caffeine. I have utterly failed on the caffeine front- as you all know, I regularly pay tribute to my adoring energetic and addictive friend coffee (seriously click the link and you'll see my favorite place in our house)! I have managed to whittle my intake down to a measly 1 cup a day in the morning, and mornings start early around these parts. Then I have some decaf for the sole purpose of psychologically tricking myself, which works for about five minutes. This must be what junkies feel like, or people trying to quit smoking!
And the icing on the cake is life is economically crunched at the moment- the weather is humid, thick and heavy and everyone knows I'm a fall/winter kinda gal. I felt a lot like the weather... how long can you go with 100% humidity before the pressure builds, converges, and gives way to the storm?
I really wanted to crawl in to the bathroom and cry for an hour(s), and then sleep the whole thing off....but since that is simply not an option for us mothers I gave myself a quick kick in the rear, and managed to get the boys to daycare. In the car on the way we had whining and crying from both little ones, despite the snack I have given P and the pacifier delegated to R.
I do not have some magical recipe for dealing with days like this. I deal with them off of the cuff, and usually things turn out okay. First, in the car I cranked the stereo and took deep centering breaths....while reminding myself that I really need to start up yoga again, which then segued in to thoughts of how I have barely enough time to get dressed in the morning, let alone have the peace and quiet to do yoga. Enter another swift mental kick in the rear here. This happens a lot, I try to implement mental reorganization techniques and then the other half of my brain starts tossing in little messages to derail the attempt!
Enter the second phase of Operation Get Over Myself: I called my bff in Colorado. Having grown up as one of the guys for as long as I remember, I am truly blessed to have a handful of women that I met in my adult life that are 1- just like me and 2-would drop anything to come help me in crisis- whether it is tragedy or hiding the body- they would gladly grab a shovel and help! I promise that will probably be the only macabre humor I ever use on Practical Happyness- but I've used that analogy for ages because it is really the only way I can convey how lucky I am to have not just one, but several, such friends! But my Colorado girl (CG) is the top of the pyramid, and is the most recent addition to my inner circle. We met and connected over our mutual frustration (maybe hatred?) for NOVA and all the entitlement culture that it supports. And I love her to the ends of the Earth. We can commiserate and give each other a dose of reality punch without even the smallest amount of offense or frustration. We have sympathy and compassion but don't go overboard- and often talk about how that probably is a flaw on our part- our lack of empathy for certain people.
Anywho- I digress as usual! So I called and the first thing out of my mouth was something to the effect of, "I am NOT okay!" And then the deluge of life's frustrations and complaints came pouring out over the phone. CG listened, and then rattled off her own issues of the day, and then we reminded each other that we are not irrational, or crazy, and that we are great people worthy of Happyness.
About this time I got a text from H saying he wasn't feeling well and coming home- grrrr. Evidently my crumminess was rubbing off. I really didn't want him coming home. My Mondays have become a bit sacred, they happen to be one of the days that I didn't go in to the office. I go home and try to accomplish domestic things, while logging in to work between emptying the dishes and doing a laundry load. I needed my Monday to get a handle on myself, and had no patience to deal with a sick husband. "Tell him to go to bed, and get on with your day like he's not there," ordered CG. Yes.
We ended our conversation as H was pulling in and I did let him know that I was having a rough day emotionally. He is always loving and supportive and without me even mentioning it he just went to bed. It's less likely that he read my mind and more likely that he indeed looked like he felt as exhausted as me. The man goes from 4:30am to 11:00pm every day of the week, with weekends beginning at 7:00 am or earlier. I often thank God that I married a Marine, because his discipline and constitution are both awe inspiring and frustrating. He goes and goes and goes, until he hits the wall. So every couple months he does just this- sleeps it off. I'm jealous of his ability to sleep it off and keep going, where as women are hardwired to dwell on things even after they slept.
So the day wore on, with my inner mental awareness and attempt at discipline continuing, albeit mildly successful. K, P and I had chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries for dinner because I was not inspired to put any more effort in to it. I got P and R to bed and H was still asleep. Here is where the real Happyness work comes in: in that moment as I was coming down the stairs, I was wondering why I felt a little less frazzled all of a sudden. And then it hit me- it was dark, cooler outside, and SILENT in the house. There was no tv noise or clashing of dishes downstairs. The dogs were lounging in the living room. I pounced on the opportunity and grabbed my Nook to continue reading one of the freebies I found (I'll post a review of Secrets when I'm done).
After about ten minutes K asked if she could turn on the TV. "NO!" I snipped. Eventually H came down because he was hungry- and he intuitively knew that I was reveling in the quiet. "This is what I love about us," I thought. We have this amazing unspoken ability to be the others strength when one is feeling weak. THIS is Happyness.
And yet, as I crawled in to bed because I was up too late reading, my mind became overwhelmed again by all my worries. Drat, it looked like I'd have to try and sleep it off and start over tomorrow.
Tuesday morning rolled around and while I was pumping at about 5:00 am, I grabbed my Nook and checked my email. In my inbox was the latest entry from Just A Girl and Her Blog. This entry spoke to me loud and clear, and was my little gift from my Grandma guardian angel. "Are you worried?" "Do you need wisdom?" and "Are you burdened?" she asks towards the end. "YES!!!" my heart cried out! Her offerings of scripture were great because I'm horrendous at recalling scripture and the comfort it offers. So, thank you Abby, whatever compelled you to do that post weeks after the events, was my private little blessings at 5 in the morning in a time of need.
It's Friday, cool and in the sixties, and I managed 1/2 a cup of coffee and replaced the other half with this blog post and some OJ. Little P demanded "JUICE!" a moment ago, and I replied, "Wait, Mommy's writing." He then proceeded to dump his cereal bowl on the table. I took a break and gave him juice. Little R is lounging in his swing.
Life with a toddler is fun, fast, chaotic, and ever surprising. Every week brings exponential discoveries- Little P is expanding his vocabulary like mad....I don't even know how he's doing it, but even another dad at daycare commented how his son's vocabulary has improved dramatically in the month he's been in the room with Little P (and yes, you guessed it, Little P runs that room, and sometimes the entire daycare, like he owns the place- with all of his goofiness and excited toddler Happyness). He is outgoing, charismatic and independent like no one I know (wait, because neither of his parents are independent to the point of hilarity 🙂 !)
But toddlers can be exhausting and some times you have weeks where all of their development is mischievousness and ill timed. It seems we are in the clasp of one of those weeks where I feel like I'm avoiding one minor (or major) disaster after another, while trying to appreciate the growth and advancement of Little P, and reminding myself graciously that some day these will be laughable memories!
On Monday I was having a very difficult Mom day- I was feeling tired, overwhelmed by all the things we need to do in the coming months, anxious about getting any of it done and really wanted to crawl in to the bathroom and cry for an hour, and then sleep the whole thing off....but since that is simply not an option for us mothers I gave myself a quick kick in the rear, and hauled through the day- more on that day later....but just suffice to say that that is how the week started, in a bit of a gray gloom- with 100% humidity, which never helps with my mood.
On Tuesday H and I swapped duties and I took on daycare pickup- and I now truly appreciate that my dear husband does the picking up vs. the dropping off. It is so much easier getting them in the door as opposed to in the car. I had forgotten the infant seat and left it in the car when I went in the building...so I was carrying Little R and holding Little P's hand to walk to the car. I had decided I would let P in to the car so that he was contained, and then get R strapped in his seat, and then strap P in. When P climbed in he immediately headed over the console and to the driver's seat to play with buttons- no big deal here, I don't mind his exploring the truck while it's turned off. As I was strapping in the little guy I was making mental notes of all the buttons pushed- the doors locked, unlocked, and locked again, the hazard lights came on, I heard the handle for the turn signal get pushed down and the knob to the windshield wipers click click away. The next thing I know, the car alarm goes off and I realize that Little P is now playing with my keys (by now you probably know where this is going). I finish strapping in Little R and about the time the door clicks I realize what had happened- Patrick had locked all the doors, the alarm was going, and I had just SHUT the only door that was open. My heart immediately ended up in my throat. To say I was MORTIFIED, is an understatement.
...and then in that same moment I remember that as I was mentally categorizing what buttons Little P had pushed, I realized he had also released the back glass of the Expedition on my keys. The only thing that couldn't be re-locked with a button! So here is where the situation goes from potential major emergency and chaos to hilarity- as I run to the back of the truck, heels and all, and climb in through the back glass, to the front to reclaim my keys. To say that I was relieved that the crisis had been averted is an understatement- it was 90 degrees out that day and 100% humidity- they wouldn't not have been able to stay in there for even five minutes...I would have had to break the glass and get in there some how. God, and my grandma guardian angel, were looking out for us, and as I drove home, rather than have an anxiety attack, I breathed deep and found the center of my Happyness, and thanked the man up stairs for reminding me to slow down, and to always carry my keys with me.
Taking that lesson to heart, in the morning we have an exiting routine where we get down the first long flight of stairs together (we are currently doing a DIY on those, so soon enough you will understand what I'm talking about a bit better), and then Little P takes himself the rest of the way down and out the door in to the garage and driveway. This gives me just the right amount of time to get Little R's car seat in to the truck before Little P opens the door to the garage. If we do it any other way it results in Little P running around crazy and me yelling at him to not go in the street. Yesterday morning when I got Little R in the truck, I realized Little P wasn't out yet. I figured he was playing with the shoes in the little hallway. I go to encourage him along and find that he had locked himself in the house! Luckily I pay attention to these lessons, and had my keys on me, rather than hanging in that very hallway because sometimes I forget to grab them right away, or I unlock the truck from the hanging keys and then get them after putting Little R in to the car. After a couple of seconds of trying to see if P could unlock the door himself, I unlock them and we go about our morning!
The silver lining in the Happyness cloud of the past two days? Yesterday while I was warming a bottle for Little R, P climbed up next to him and gave him his pacifier, and then proceeded to help me hold the bottle for him- it was a very sweet moment, and an important milestone to see the big brother want to actively assist in the care of his little brother!
I was also offered a moment of humor this morning when I heard the door slam to Little P's room- I walked down the hall and opened the door. "Do you need some privacy?" I asked. "Yeah," he said matter-of-factly. And I pulled the door to and went back down to my room. As I was walking down the hall the door slammed shut again!
Constantly learning they are. Did I mention he only turns 2 next week?
Do you feel the same way about life with your toddler?
I know Mother's Day is all about being pampered and spoiled, but to me this day means being thankful for the two most beautiful boys my husband and I brought in to this world....and reflecting on how I'm doing at Motherhood, and how I can get better.
I've been a mother several times over now...I've mothered my sisters, both when they were very young and later, when H and I brought them in to our home. I've learned that anyone who can raise a girl to be confident in herself and encouraged to follow her dreams is both a hero and a saint. Adolescent girls have to be the most difficult to figure out- they are fragile like fine china, but fiery- and infuriating- in their rebellion.
And while we went through microcosms of hell with both of my sisters, I hope they know how much they are loved, and how much we tried and tripped and tried again, to be the best parents we could be. I tell people that it's difficult being a sister and a mom- your inner sister wants to pull hair and cat fight, but you inner mother knows that you have to be the adult in the situation and have to react as a parent. This is not always easy to do.
I'm grateful that by the time H and I had Little P- it seemed we had adolescence down pact and were looking forward to the joy of parenting babies!
I wouldn't trade all the sleepless nights, spit up, blow out diapers, and tantrums for anything in the world. Because all of those moments are greatly outweighed by the delight we share in every first step, first word and new adventure.
There was perhaps no mother in my life more influential than my Grandma.
In all her Irish fieriness, she was everything a Grandma and Mother should be. She was Happyness. She was love and kindness and understanding. She was baking and arts and crafts. She was a neat freak. She loved to fish, and didn't care about getting her hands dirty or piling on the bug spray to do it. She was the woman who had a homeless family to dinner without warning my grandfather, and who fostered a Korean girl because she needed help (also without warning my grandfather). She was firm, and commanded respect and didn't take crap from anyone and because of that she was loved by everyone. I wish so desperately that she were here to see her two amazing great grandsons! She was an incredible woman who touched everyone's lives she encountered.
Those of you who know my past also know that it's about appreciating all the second moms in my life that have helped me become who I am... my Grandma Betty- who I've only become close to in my adulthood. She is a business woman, a hard worker and enjoys life. She has taught me to be true to myself and that it is okay to be selfish and take care of one's self, because if you don't take care of yourself you can't take care of anyone else. She understands life and all the chaos and busy-ness that comes with it. She is kind and helpful - to those who are willing to help themselves. She respects honesty above all. Rhonda- who introduced me to horses- a life long passion I'll never give up- and helped me see that people are and can be good. Sue- whose open mindedness and kind heart took me in at 15 when I was desperate to get free. Lori- my first trainer and one of my best friends, who is an amazing mom of three energetic boys, who was the example all I wanted to be- a mom that owned a business, loved her kids, and realized that sometimes the kitchen and vacuuming had to wait- even if it was because she had to hose off half-naked boys on her front porch. Susan- whose daughter I nannied while I was in college, and whose family I share a connection with to this day. Susan is the epitome of a mother who is confident and in control, and affectionate beyond words. She also taught me that it's okay to tell people to go to hell, that my life is my life and not anyone else's. She has mastered how to prevent her daughter from becoming addicted to the computer or Facebook or television. She has achieved great balance in parenting and life. Dr. Laura- whose kindness and understanding and wisdom helped me feel appreciated and know that I deserved to be appreciated. My mother-in-law, who I am proud to call "mom" and whose family was the first real example of what "normal" looked like during the holidays. I hate using that word- normal- but it's the best I've got. Actually, no.... stable, loving, nurturing, balance and flow would be better I think. She accepted myself and my sisters into her home that first Christmas with the girls, H and I having just moved in together, and having never met his family. I can speak for my sisters and I when I say we never felt more at "home" in our lives.
And last, yes, today is about being thankful for my own mother, who through her mistakes and dysfunctional parenting, taught me a lot about the adult and mother I did not want to be. I don't doubt that she loves us....but her love is more a selfish love and less a nurturing one. She was always better at being a "good time charlie" than at being a mother. When she wasn't fun, she was miserable and impossible to please. Nevertheless, time and wisdom have enabled me to forgive and see her for who she is- a woman who has made incredibly bad choices, one after the other, whose shackles of selfishness, addiction and mental illness have never allowed her to do anything else. And yet, although she rewrites our past on a regular basis, as a coping mechanism for all the horrible memories she's inflicted on herself and others, she picks herself up time and again, and keeps trudging through life. She is, if nothing else, a survivor. I've come to feel a certain sympathy for her that my younger self never thought could happen. Mental illness is a disease and I'm in some ways grateful that I am aware and can remain vigilant for myself and my boys. I know what to do if I start to see any signs of depression in them. And I try to focus on what good memories I do have with her- of camping and going to the beach, of my first roller coaster ride at Busch Gardens, of clam and crab bakes.
So, thank you to all the mothers in my life that have taught me how to pursue my Happyness. And I wish you all an amazing day, and hope that your children will see in you the wonderful things that I have.
....Well sort of. The past couple of weeks have gone something like this: allergies, sister gets sick, toddler gets sick, I get sick, antibiotics, baby gets colicky, sister has musical, make big cake (more on that later), dehydrate, allergies, food poisoning, husband gets food poisoning, fasting, hydrating, baby gets shots, going out of town, Little R starts daycare, and I start back on a normal work schedule...
And in between make big cake and the first dehydrate were taxes and the Boston attack... at which point I felt that I didn't really have the right to post anything even remotely related to cakes or organizing or family or fun or Happyness- given that so many families were thrown into turmoil and will forever be missing a part of their own Happyness. And- as cliche as I know this is going to sound- once you have children of your own, tragedies such as Boston take on a whole new level of sorrow and dread. You don't just feel bad and upset, you are shaken to your very core, and you cry....period. It's the same reason I can't watch any of those St. Jude commercials- they used to make me sad, I'd say, "Awww, those poor babies." Now they make my cry, because I cannot even begin to put myself in any of those scenarios as a parent.
So ever since that, I haven't been able to bring myself back to the keyboard- not even to post a picture of the crazy cake I over-committed myself to making and over-exerted myself in creating...or to rant about the antics of the All State Choir trip I had to go on with my sister (which turned out to be a great weekend- but boy was I ranting up to the morning we left!)...
And don't get me started on the food poisoning... for 24 hours the Freeland house was practically on lockdown- nothing like having all sorts of vomiting and other digestive issues while trying to feed an infant and simultaneously not contaminate said infant- or while trying to get the toddler to daycare because if you don't you know that the next 8 hours are going to be some sort of personal hell with a screaming baby in the pack-n-play and your toddler slamming the toilet seat on your head (seriously that happened when I has in the throes of the first trimester last fall!)... or the insane cleaning/disinfecting frenzy I went on at 10 pm when H and I finally decided our little bug had left the building.
In short, the last few weeks have been one of those stretches of time where there is no where to go but through- through the mud and under the barbwire of each and every little trial that Life has decided to throw your way, and-hopefully- laugh about it down the road. At least I know I'll be able to laugh- my friends in Boston will forever remember this stretch of time as a time of tragedy and recovery- and for that I truly pray that they can find some little piece of Happyness that maybe took place in the days following. For us, the house became a disaster, the checkbook didn't get updated (I actually am supposed to be doing that now, but got inspired for this post), and for several days we lived off of ramen, rice, gatorade and vitamin water to ease our stomachs... but hey- at least the taxes got done.