Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mommy {Guilt} Vacation

Many jobs offer a couple of weeks of paid vacation each year. Mine does. I usually take those days during the holidays, kids’ school vacation, and the occasional family trip or getaway with Husband. I enjoy those vacation days. I have earned those vacation days.

This week it dawned on me that I have also put in enough time to qualify for a couple of weeks of vacation each year from the ever-present mommy guilt. You know what I’m talking about. That little voice that calls you a failure if your kids are picky eaters or throw a tantrum or still don’t seem to tight-rope walk on command. Sometimes I call that voice Pinterest, but when I’m being honest, I know it’s really just me. This little voice, my voice, is ever present in my own head.

But not this week. Actually, not for the next TWO WEEKS.

A couple of days ago, I decided to give myself a two-week vacation from that little pesky voice. We will be on a real vacation for about 5 days during this time frame, but I decided that my guilt-free vacay should start immediately. I also decided that I should get to enjoy this time in the comfort of my own home, not just during some short stint in a rental (where real-life rules rarely apply anyway).

   
These are the tenants that will guide me through:

I will not fight with my kids about broccoli. If the only ‘fruit’ they eat for the next couple of weeks is applesauce and the occasional banana, so be it. I will take a break from this battle. To that end, if we only eat cereal for dinner, I’m good with that, too.

We will lie on the couch and snuggle and watch TV. We will not try to cram kinder-prep books or worksheets or activities into the very few, precious hours I have with my kids between the end of the work day and bedtime. We will snuggle and laugh and just relax. (And, before you suggest playing outside, just come visit us in our little rain-soaked, mosquito laden, 98% humidity piece of Texas.)

We will not hurry up for anything. We will slow down. If we are late, we are late. If we miss something, we miss something. I will not stress about the little things. That includes bedtimes and evening routines and all of our other daily struggles. If it happens, it happens. In the meantime, we will just be.

We might wear pajamas and/or swim suits in public. We {might} do this while on our actual vacation. We {might} do this when leaving from our own home. Who cares? I sure don’t.

I will respond to requests with a lot of mmm-kays and whatev’s… I am so, so tired of saying no all the damn time. Mmm-kay? Right now, I don’t care. If you’re not bleeding, choking, or in danger of those things happening, it’s all good. You want cookies for dinner? If you can get them for yourself, go for it!

I should be clear, that I will not use these tenants as excuses for a lapse in general parenting. My kids will be clothed, fed, cleaned, and loved daily. These are merely guidelines for my own brain to stop obsessing over all those little details that tend to drive me a little batty.  


Mommy needs a break, and the time is now. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

You don't have to color in the lines ...

Sunday night, Husband and I attended a benefit for a sweet 6-week-old baby who recently passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. This is only one of several heartbreaking stories in my small community right now. Shortly after this sweet baby gained her angel wings, another local family lost their days-old baby to an unexpected illness.

Because both of these girls are children of local musicians, the support that has surrounded their families has been from their parents’ peers – other musicians. I was surprised and awed when one of the fathers essentially hosted the benefit Sunday night. He sang a version of “Hallelujah” that had everyone in tears. The other father went back to work – on tour with his band – very quickly.

At first I thought that as a working parent, I could just not fathom going back to my job in the wake of such grief. To me, family and business have always been separate. But, as I read more posts on social media, press releases, and comments from their fellow musicians, I started to realize something bigger. Music isn’t just a job for these guys. It is who they are. It is their very being – how they feel, process, survive. It’s how they grieve and celebrate, live and endure.

I thought what a bittersweet blessing it must be for these parents to be able to “work” through these difficult days. The benefit  was arguably the saddest and yet, most awe inspiring thing I have ever witnessed.  A mix of little known singers with legends came together on stage and, very organically, used music to pour out their hearts – to express their grief and love and hope.

As I watched this unfold, I had a small realization about my own sweet girl. “This” was who she would be one day. Whether it will be through music or not remains to be seen. But watching those artists on stage literally live life in front of me, I realized that my daughter was also wired this way – she is so feeling and emotional, such a performer, and definitely a free spirit. This is all foreign to my own Type-A personality, but I am grateful for this small epiphany. It has opened my eyes and my ears, and especially my heart, to truly hear her beautiful wisdom these last few days …

“Mommy, it doesn’t matter to me if you color in the lines. It’s beautiful.”

I have tried to slow down, to listen more, to really hear and see her. She dances everywhere she goes. It takes us longer to get places because of it, but she is happiest when she is twirling. Sometimes she does color inside the lines. Sometimes she doesn’t. Sometimes she uses half a dozen colors on one single dress. It’s always beautiful.


I know that our two very different personalities will clash over the years. (I am willfully avoiding even thinking about the teenage years for now.) But I am also forever grateful for these two little lives, cut way too short, and for their brave parents’ authenticity. They have helped me to see my own child.


{Please keep these families in your prayers and they endure the unimaginable.}

Friday, June 12, 2015

My Tiny Assistant

This week, my tiny assistant was back in the office with me. These are not the most productive days on my schedule, which is probably why they are a rare occurrence. They are, however, an adventure – full of enlightenment and so much fun.


This week,  Miss Mighty helped me implement several new {home} office policies.

Policy #1 – Silly Face Selfies are a must. Typically, I would not condone workplace selfies, but my tiny assistant insisted, and I made an exception.

Policy #2 – Ridiculous lunch options are sometimes the best. Jelly toast and lemonade? Why not? I was on professional duty, not mom duty, so this was not the time to go to battle over mealtime antics.

Policy #3 – Nap time is only awesome when you can do it in the middle of the work day. Does any child actually like to nap? Even if they need it, do they ever go down without a fight? Not in my house. Working mom nap time, though? It is pretty awesome.

Policy #4 – Strawberry Shortcake makes for the best elevator music. It’s sad but true. I wasn’t going to get anything accomplished without at least a little TV time for Mighty, so I did my afternoon work to the tune of Cherry Jam superstar.


Y'all, I have come to realize that tiny assistants are better than regular sized ones. Sometimes, this is because you can send them to timeout when they’re being obnoxious instead of worrying about some HR nonsense, but mostly it is because they give you the best reasons to smile.

Friday, June 5, 2015

School lunches are a year-round thing for working moms ...

Moms of school-aged children everywhere are celebrating this week that they will have a much needed reprieve from making the dreaded school lunch five days a week. For working moms with kiddos still in day care or summer programs, we are not so lucky. School lunches are one of the most frustrating struggles I face with my kids.

Why? You might ask: why? What is so difficult about packing a little lunch box? So very, very many things, I tell you. Some are real, true struggles. Others are silly little non-issues that I tend to obsess over. They all add up, and they add up every single day of the work week. Every. Day.

Picky eaters. Y’all. Never have I ever delighted so pathetically and yet genuinely as I did the day my daughter decided she would eat turkey sandwiches for lunch. She doesn’t eat peanut butter. She has basically never eaten anything that would easily pack well in a lunch box. Thank goodness for the lovely lady that works in her preschool’s kitchen who would warm up macaroni or quesadillas for her for the past 3 years. But, PRAISE the LORD, we can now pack a {simple} sandwich, which does require special bread and extra cheese … but it can be packed, stored, and eaten cold. Halleluiah! This child has been a picky eater since day one, so please forgive what may appear to be an excessive use of rejoicing prayers. I assure you: they are 100% heartfelt.

Little supervision and lots of waste. The teachers at school are wonderful, but let’s face it: there is just no way they can supervise what each and every child does or does not eat. Heck, I can’t even handle that task with my own two kids. Trying to strike a balance between healthy meals and still pack items they will actually eat is tough. I have no idea how teachers manage to get 18 preschoolers to stay in their seats much less eat the good food first and dessert last. So, whether or not my child eats the healthy items I packed or just the cheese crackers and two bites of the aforementioned turkey sandwich is always a crapshoot. This in turn leads to so much waste that it tends to drive me a bit crazy. Y’all, this is a year-round-never-ending struggle, and I am kinda tired of it.

Remembering to do it is such a chore. Never mind that two sentences ago I explained that this is a year-round-never-ending struggle, it somehow always seems to sneak up on me. I know I have to do it, but other tasks always seem to take priority leaving me scrambling to throw lunches together at 6 a.m. I mean, really. My coffee hasn’t even kicked in at that point, so of course I’m grumpy about assembling sandwiches and thermos containers and the carefully selected snack items that are juuuust the right balance of healthy and tasty so maybe {just maybe} they’ll be eaten instead of trashed. I have always been a decent enough morning person, but this level of decision-making prior to my second cup of coffee is just not fair. Never mind that it’s of my own doing. Really, I just whined that it’s not fair, so I think we are past the point of reason now …

Washing a million tiny containers stinks. This particular an effort to ‘save the earth’ is likely to push me over the edge one day. I don’t know if it’s that this task comes at the end of the work day or if it is because I have to clean each bowl/lid/cup and trash uneaten food that I had so enthusiastically prepared for my children a mere 10 hours earlier, but there are days that I would rather just put everything in disposable baggies and tell the kids to throw away anything that isn’t consumed by snack time. It might save us all a bit of sanity. I’m not there yet as it would be totally against my Type A-need to know what is actually making it into their little bellies during the day.

Do you love making your kid’s lunches? If so, PLEASE tell me why and how . And if you’re willing to come make my kids’ lunches, too.

Happy summer!