Loneliness

Professional motherhood is great in a lot of ways.  But goodness, it’s lonely.

It seems nearly impossible to find anyone that is actually in my same season of life.
I meet lots of wonderful middle aged folks.
Lots of wonderful peers who don’t have children.
Lots of mothers with small children who work outside the home.

And maybe this is low self-esteem talking, but none of these people can possibly really want me in their life.
With me comes two messy, loud, funny little boys.
A definite schedule of being in my home during nap time, every day.
The truth that I will fall asleep on the couch by 9 pm (if you’re lucky.)
A 30-year-old who wants to be treated as an equal adult, not like your psuedo-children that you are “helping get a start in life.”
A mom who wants to talk about anything other than her job of raising children, but can’t for the life of her stop talking about them.

People can’t possibly fit all of that into their hearts, can they?

And I’ve met lovely people recently.  People who are very kind and friendly and welcoming (we moved six months ago) and even say things like, “We should get together for coffee/dinner/board games some time!”

I have never actually gotten together with any of these people.
They never actually went the next step of making plans.
Which means the suggestion was just a nicety.

Surely, out here in the wide world of the internet, there are other mothers who feel lonely.  And that is why I’m writing and recording.

Let me assure you, there are more of us!
This is the beauty of the internet.  Though it has its share of mom-shaming and political saturation and “perfect” life comparisons that leave you feeling irritated and down on yourself, it also has community – if you can find it.

Leave a comment.
Watch a video.
Visit the Facebook page and post.
This is your official invitation to join me for coffee!  Right now, today.  You will get a response.   I can relate – so can lots of others.

Let’s stop being lonely.

Five Reasons to Get Up Early ☕

Believe me, I’m no natural morning person.

But these hours… they’re precious.

Let Go of Mom Guilt: Capturing Memories

Mom guilt takes up residence in all kinds of sneaky places.  Let’s address one of those today.

I am never here to mom-bash, so I am definitely not linking to this or mentioning usernames.  While meandering on Pinterest, I saw a pin about mom checklists, specifically “Can’t Miss Photos of the Month.”
There were something like 50 photo opportunities listed here!  If this were a list for the whole year, it might be conceivable.  Being a checklist of 50 photos you “can’t miss” of your kids each MONTH means 90% of people pinning that are going to fail, miserably.  And with that idealism + failure equation, mom guilt sets in.

Do you have a handful of pictures of each kid each year?  You’re doing fine.  (Bonus points if YOU are in any of them!)

I had a looming fear when I had a second child that I wouldn’t take “enough” pictures of him.  Whatever “enough” means.  I love taking pictures, and I had taken a plethora of my oldest because he was so stinkin’ adorable all the time.  Probably ridiculous, but one of my biggest concerns about adding a second child was that they wouldn’t feel as special because I wouldn’t focus solely on them – wouldn’t take as many pictures.  That there would be digital and print evidence that I “loved the older one more.”

After child #2 being on the planet for a full year, let me tell you.  There are just as many pictures.  In fact, I upgraded to a smart phone recently so there are actually BETTER pictures this time around.  Gasp.  There are so many sweet moments between the two boys that I take photos on an almost-daily basis.

I have my own checklist – make sure I take a photo the day a child joins our family, and on each birthday.  Sometimes I remember to take one on “firsts.”
But about “firsts.”  I have learned this – it is far more important to be engaged, present, actually watching the firsts, than it is to be taking photos or videos.  In 20 years, it might be fun for your child to page through photos of their firsts.  It might impress or entertain some relatives or a future child-in-law.  But really, those firsts are the most important to you as their parent.  And what you hold most dear will be a strong memory of having actually witnessed this event, not a sterile photo of it taking place.

While we’re on this topic, let me address scrapbooks.  If this is a hobby of yours, wonderful!  Go forth and craft.  If it’s not, let it go!  Remember our moms’ photo books of yesteryear?  There were some pictures with names or dates scrawled on maybe half of them, jammed into photo albums.  Done.  And our lives weren’t any less rich for it.

Maybe a lesser guilt: printing physical photos.  This is one I feel distinctly, as a natural cynic.  I assume that the internet is going to fail me at some point in the future, and my photos backed up in the mysterious “cloud” will disappear.  And then who will get to see all the badly-timed smartphone photos I took?!
I have decided to let go of that mom guilt by specifically printing photos once a year.  Around December, after everybody’s birthdays in November, I go on a spree one night and choose pictures to print.  I get them done “overnight” to our local-ish Walmart and pick them up the next day when I go to pick up my photo Christmas cards.  Sometimes some of them make it in an album.  Good enough.
I’m going to try photobooks this next year – supposedly I can use my Instagram and have them automatically curated and delivered to me.  Sounds wonderful!

Be present with your kids.  Put down the camera/phone.  Watch and encourage and feel.

That sense of family created by memories is what you’re really after.  Photographic evidence that it existed is just extra.

Book Review: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

 
To be honest, this book began rather slowly for me.  There are a large amount of anecdotes from both the author’s own life and lives of others, which is not my personal style of understanding self-help information.
About at the middle of the book, when I was close to beginning to skip over entire pages, I found some gems.  During Habit 4: Think “Win-Win”, I found tips about mitigating competition among siblings and helping curb teenage rebellious behavior.  The overriding principle is to create solutions that help everyone in the family “win,” or have an outcome they enjoy.  This includes things like family activities where everyone feels successful (family point totals goals, for example,) and creating agreements with teenagers where parents get behaviors/responsibilities they desire in their children, but the adolescent children get the freedom or responsibilities they crave to show their independence.

Habit 5 is, essentially, about empathy.  The point was made that families often treat strangers and guests with more empathy than their own members, because families assume that love is constant.  That’s an eye-opener!
Especially for parents: the author also recommends positive feedback first when a child (or adult) has completed a task.  Even if it’s not done perfectly.  Even if the child “cleaned up” by schmearing something awful into your nice towel.  Because they are proud of themselves, and are looking for approval, even if later correction is needed.

Other key take-aways: How to really work together – using every family member’s strengths (viewing them as such, rather than weaknesses)
How to reach mutually agreeable decisions based on facts and principles, not emotions and
selfishness.

Overall, I feel like this book is a great place to begin, if you come from a troubled family background or feel completely lost in nurturing your own family’s cohesiveness.  If you’re finding a lot of strain in your relationships within your family, this book could be a life saver!

For my own purposes, it was more of a refresher of principles I already knew but had perhaps tucked on the back burner.  My intent was to seek insight that could help our family keep structure and consistency throughout and after our foster/adopt journey (suddenly adding an older child could throw everything out of whack!) and my reading has largely just reminded me of areas to focus on.

6.5/10  Would recommend in some cases.

Five on Friday: January Favorites!

Five favorite things for you this Friday:

If you want the short, text version:

Fashion: 32 Degree sweatshirt.  Can be found on Amazon.  AMAZINGLY warm but not too warm.  Bought 2 sizes too big, fits like a tunic.  Wonderful addition to my capsule wardrobe – would wear it every day if that were socially acceptable.  (Read: wear as often as possible without my husband commenting…)

Beauty: Hard Candy All Matte Up lip crayon.  Not hydrating, not a stain, but a really good transfer-proof lip color.  Doesn’t come off on coffee or kids – checks both my boxes!

Kids: Munchkin 360 cup. Now that I own them, I understand the hype.  Great cups, easy to clean.

Housekeeping: Seventh Generation cleaning spray.  Nontoxic.  Smells nice.  Cleans well.  Disinfects like Lysol.  SPRAYING EVERYTHING.

Other: Wide Awake Breakfast Blend coffee has been in my mug all month.  Budget friendly, tastes good, cute animals on the packaging.  What else could you want?

What have you been loving this month?  Let me know in the comments!

Favorite Children’s Book! (Five on Friday)

This ended up being 6, because apparently I can’t count before coffee.

Enjoy!

Bringing Vacation Home

Is there such a thing as an adult who does not enjoy vacation?
I went on a little New Years’ getaway with my husband and our best friends, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes vacation so wonderful, and how to incorporate some of that into my daily life.  I’ve come upon a few different concepts.

From our recent vacation – relaxing in the middle of nowhere.

Relaxing, minimalist environment
Think about what made the vacation so relaxing.  Was it that your space was clean?  That you were living with just a suitcase of possessions and no clutter?  Odds are good you were even living in a significantly smaller space than usual, possibly even with extra people, yet the hotel room/cabin/condo was relaxing.
This is great to replicate at home!  Living with fewer possessions naturally helps your space stay cleaner.  I will forever be indebted to the Kon Mari method of decluttering for making my home more peaceful and easier to keep picked up.  Consider a capsule wardrobe to replicate the limited options of a suitcase (and the ease of dressing that comes with it!)

Fresh linens
That may seem super small, but really.  When’s the last time you changed your sheets and washed your throw blankets and bleached your towels? (I keep white towels for this reason.)  Try it, and really pay attention to the sensation of sinking into fresh linens – savor it!  (By extension, all your nicely folded laundry in your suitcase?  Ey?) If you find this as valuable as I do, plan it into your housekeeping!

Pre-planned activities
Now, this is probably personal preference,  but I usually  have some pre-planned activities on vacation.  On this recent vacation, we brought along decks of cards to play our favorite game, one board game the husbands specifically like, and books and facemasks for the wives.  Nothing fancy, nothing that involved leaving the couch.  The aspect of this that makes the day so enjoyable is that there was no sitting around saying, “What should we do?  I dunno.  What do you want to do?  I dunno.”
Consider planning your leisure once you’re back home – would you like to read a book in the evenings? Journal in the mornings?  Have a family movie night?  I have actually taken to pre-planning my leisure activities for my miracle mornings and for my evenings after the kids go to bed, and it’s great.

Personal growth time
Like I said, this recent vacation included intentional book-reading.  For me, leisure reading is a part of self care and personal growth, because I truly love reading (like in the depths of my soul, love, reading.  #nerd)
Odds are good that during a vacation, you take more time for these kinds of activities.  Perhaps hiking is your personal growth.  Maybe meditating.  Some people probably experience personal growth by touring important landmarks or museums.  Whatever it is that feeds your spirit, you’ve probably made up your mind and planned to do it during your official vacation.
You should really do that kind of stuff during your regular days.  Seriously.

Moments of complete stillness
There are moments in vacation where absolutely nothing is going on.  Nothing is calling your attention.  Nothing needs to be cleaned or cooked or put away.  Those moments may be in an art gallery, in your hotel room in the wee hours, sitting on a beach kid-free, or doing a face mask on a couch while your husbands play a board game.
See if you can recreate those moments in your daily home life.  For me, those moments exist at 6:00 am (after my husband has left for work, my kids are still soundly asleep, and I’m alone in my office with a cup of coffee) but you can jam them anywhere.  On a commute using public transport, on a walk, etc.

Pick one thing to try – make your daily life more like a vacation.  Maybe commit to it for 2 weeks.  Write it down.  Plan it out. 
Share what you’re going to try or what you already do!

P.S. – we used Air BnB to book our vacation, and it worked like a charm!  I even got email copies of text messages sent by our host.  Recommend!
(Not sponsered.  I wish!)