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Showing posts from 2018

When The Team Won't Follow the Leader

I am aware that there are some critics out there who think that Andy and I are kind of loosey-goosey parents. Some think we don’t have enough rules or enough structure or discipline in our family. I’ve always felt really bad about this because, from one perspective, I can sort of see what they are talking about. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel guilty about being a shitty parent. My thoughts before passing out each night, exhausted, are about how I could’ve done a better job today and that I really hope I can do a better job the next day. Tomorrow is a new day to make rules and implement them, right?But I finally figured out what the missing link is for me and Andy and why we just can’t be the structured, rigid, disciplinarians that we “aspire“ to be. The other day I was picking up the kids. When we were driving home, my mind was racing with about 50 different things I needed to do at home and at work. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really present in the moment with the kids even though…

Choose Happiness

I was shopping at Claire’s Boutique last weekend with the kids. Claire’s Boutique is like the At Home for children. My kids love spending at least an hour in the store, browsing all of the glittery, sparkly plastic items made in China. They get excited about the buy three get three free offers and the six dollar grab bag with surprise items in it. They wander, basket in hand, looking at every item from top to bottom, reviewing each display, sometimes many times, to make sure that they don’t miss seeing anything.I have a tolerance for Claire’s for about 20 minutes, depending on how many other people are crowded into the tiny, very cluttered store. I can't lie, every once in a while something actually catches my eye for myself, like a cute pair of plastic rhinestone earrings or a purse shaped like a pug head. During this last shopping trip, while the girls were deciding between fake hair ponytail attachments or Beanie Boo dolls, I saw a display marketed to the preteen set. Paired to…

On Being Happy (Part One)

Does happiness sit in a bottle on my shelf? Can I find what I’m looking for in a manufactured pill? Does happiness come if I alter what's inside of me, what I can't see and feel unable to control? Or, does happiness come with the things I buy? The car I drive and the clothes I wear? The house I live in and the way I decorate it? Would I feel better if I could just buy happiness? Or, is the size and shape of my happiness dictated by the size and shape of my body? Would I be happier if I were skinnier or prettier? Would I be happier if my nose were smaller, my breasts fuller and my tummy tighter? Is happiness found in success, in professional achievement or academic accolades? Is being happy getting an A and getting a corner office? Or, is happiness being present in every moment, especially for my girls? Would I be happy if I knew I could pick them up from school every day, if I didn't get the sweats thinking about when the school nurse calls me to pick them up, or if I didn…

It's Complicated. It Doesn't Have To Be.

I was preparing dinner the other night. I still had my coat on and I was balancing a cat dish in one hand and a frozen pot pie in the other when Charlotte came into the kitchen. She had been in her room changing into her pj's. She pranced into the kitchen wearing only her favoritest undies- with the words SUNDAY emblazoned on the rump. She called out my name and I distractedly and tiredly looked in her direction, making eye contact. "Mom," she asked me, grabbing the soft, doughy skin above her waistband, "am I fat?" I dropped to my mental knees. I barely knew what night it was, I actually couldn't have told you in that moment what town Andy was working in on that particular evening, and all I wanted to do was take my bra off and her question stopped me in my tracks. I looked at her again, really taking in her body. Her beautiful, perfect body. I have loved her body during every stage of growth- from a chubby baby legs and round bottom to the freckle on her…

Tips for Transitioning to Back-To-School Time

Transitions can be hard for kids with special needs, making the back-to-school schedule particularly challenging for them and their families. Here are some tips for making that transition, and first few months of the fall, easier for everyone.Map out a Schedule and Reduce AnxietyWhile no kid wants to start talking about going back to school when he or she is still enjoying their summer vacation, it’s important to reduce anxiety by starting to talk about what the back-to-school schedule is going to look like. While this could mean creating a visual schedule or developing a calendar, it’s important to talk with your child about what the back-to-school schedule is going to look like, including wake up time, what happens during the day, after school, right up until bedtime. Developing a schedule can hopefully alleviate some of your child's stress about what to expect during the transition and can also open up a dialogue for what questions and concerns your child has. Have your child w…

A Bad Relationship: Flip the Narrative

I asked you if I was smart enough.I asked you if I was pretty enough.I asked you if I was funny enough.I asked you if I was serious enough.I asked you if I was quiet enough.I asked you if I was loud enough.I asked you if I was enough.I asked if my hair was right, my clothes, and the music I listen to.I asked if you liked my friends and my family.I asked if you liked my laugh and my sense of humor.I asked if I did this right and I asked if I did that right.For years, you never answered me and I took your silence as reproach.I told you I could do better next time if I just knew what better meant to you.Then, one day, I stopped asking you these questions and I started asking them of myself.I was surprised to learn my answer was yes.Then, I decided to flip the narrative.I asked myself if you were smart enough.I asked myself if you were pretty enough.I asked myself if you were funny enough.I asked myself if you were serious enough.I asked myself if you were quiet enough.I asked myself if …

Me V. Parental Judgement

When you are pregnant, there’s so much to think about when considering the future: what color to paint the nursery, what decorating scheme to select from Pottery Barn, whether to go with disposable or reusable diapers, what to name your little nugget, and even deciding to use a cake or a box of balloons for the gender reveal party. You quickly learn that, if you share any of these decisions with anyone, you are bound to get opinions- lots of them. And, while this isn’t the first time we get solicited or unsolicited advice (where to go to college, what to choose as a major, what profession to pursue, who to date, who to marry, what dress to wear to the wedding, who to invite to the wedding, what type of alcohol to serve at the wedding..) the birth of a child seems like the first time that SO MANY opinions are given. It’s already a time of anxiety and unknowns that the opinions of others can easily feel overwhelming.What, I should have gotten the rocker that swings from side to side ins…

The Bubble Thought

Earlier this week, my sister-in-law posted one of her drawings on Facebook. The drawing depicted an image of a mother hugging her child before the child gets on the bus for the first day of the school year. As the mother hugs her child, there’s a thought bubble above her with an image of a gun. To accompany the drawing, my sister-in-law shared that this was her thought, which popped into her mind as her own child departed for school to begin a new academic year. I have no doubt that her post will be shared time again by parents around this country as we all send our children off to school to be educated. In addition to the normal fear that a parent has for their school-age school, like their academic achievement, development of meaningful friendships, and overall happiness and health, now parents have to worry about their safety while in school. We presently live in a climate where schools are hiring guardians who are retired police officers and members of the military whose sole purp…

The Multi-Generational Vacation

About five years ago I started going on long weekend vacations with my mom. We went to Florida a few times and enjoyed some fun in the sun and much needed time away from the kids. However, as is typical with me, I felt guilty about leaving the girls behind and enjoying myself without them. So I asked my mom if she was ok with bringing them along on our vacations and, for the last three years, we’ve been taking a girls' beach trip. I am fortunate that my mom spends quite a lot of time with us throughout the year and has even started taking the girls for me during break weeks now that she has retired. They are really comfortable with her and it she doesn't seem to mind doing some occasional parenting for me. While we spend time at one another's houses, I really look forward to this trip more than any other trip every year because I get to spend time with my mom, I get to watch her spend time with my kids, and we always go to the ocean which is a place Andy never wants to go.…

Between Two Car Doors

When I was in elementary school I started having some breathing issues. In the evening, after the day's activities, I would start to feel tightness in my chest and shortness of breath. After telling my mom about this, after weeks if not months, she decided to take me to the doctor. After the doctor did a few tests, that all came back negative, he concluded I didn’t have any serious problems like asthma or a heart condition. He told my mom that it was probably some type of anxiety and that, after a busy day, I would settle down in the evening and start to worry about what it happened that day and what was going to happen the next day.Of course, this was a different time in our world. First of all, it was big that my mom even took me to the doctor because, back in the day, people didn’t run to the clinic for every sore throat, rash, or for tummy ache. Second of all, this was also a time when, if something wasn’t physically wrong with you, like blood gushing from your leg or somethin…

Four Eyes

My parents' living room was a rectangle and back in the day, before flat screens, our very square television was a solid 15 feet from the couch. They had a sweet La-Z-Boy positioned just a few feet from the TV but unfortunately, as an eight-year-old, I was never given permission to sit there. We didn’t have cable, and there was nothing to watch outside of Saturday morning cartoons, which I always enjoyed at my grandmother's house while I vacuumed and dusted her living room for her for a dollar and a doughnut. However, on summer evenings my parents would always watch a movie at exactly 8 PM. My dad would trek down to the local video store and pick the latest and greatest new release for us to watch as a family. I would gather a few pillows and a blanket and position myself alongside the La-Z-Boy. This spot in the living room enabled me to be an arm’s-length from my mom and the television. I thought the reason why I had to sit so close place because the TV was so small and so …

The Perennial

Turning 40 is hitting me like a ton of bricks. I’m talking somebody standing at the top of the Empire State building with a wheelbarrow of bricks that they throw on top of me as I stand on the street. Every brick that catapults toward me has a different message: Your hair is getting gray. Your eyebrows are thinning. The skin on your neck and elbows is getting soft. Your hands are wrinkly. Your midsection is getting softer and rounder. You wear progressive glasses. You wake up and go to bed really early. You talk about things like vitamins and retirement. Your back hurts when you get out of bed and when you stand too long or when you sit too long. You think about taking Metamucil or Fiber One to keep you regular. You have one glass of wine and feel hung over the next day. Your kids talk about buying bras and getting their period. You should have stood up straight as a kid because now your neck and back are stuck in this awkward, turtle-like position, and it's painful. You talk abo…

Work Family

Did you know that you spend around 90,360 hours at work during your lifetime? I usually only write about my job in the most vague terms but work is, and always has been, a really important and vital part of my life. A hundred years ago, when I left my first professional job, I remember it felt like somebody died. At the time, Andy, who, shockingly wasn't in touch with my emotions, asked me why I was felt this way. I told him I was so upset because I felt like I was leaving my family. I can still remember, clear as day, when I gave my resignation. I had just taken a ride in the Oscar Meyer wiener hot dog mobile (Yeah I know I had an awesome job) and I felt incredibly sick to my stomach. I went home that night and cried like somebody died. I remember Andy asking me why I was so upset and I wasn’t sure how to articulate it. Looking back now I better understand why I had such a visceral reaction to leaving my employer. I think part of it was because it was my first real job. I think …

From I'm Not Worthy! to Treat. Yo.Self.

A couple of years ago, I found myself in a Joanne Fabrics. It was one of those rare occasions when I had several hours to myself and I was in the vicinity of a shopping plaza. For me, I find it cathartic to push a cart up and down the aisles of a craft store like Joanne Fabrics or, I’m ashamed to admit, Hobby Lobby. I feel, in those moments, that I’m surrounded by possibility. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll feel a little bit happier in life if I buy that wooden sign that says DREAM in cursive lettering. I know I’d be a better person if I just finally learned to sew. I would truly be happy in life if I repainted every room in white, got all white furniture, and bought all of the those glass jars and votives down there in aisle 7 and put them on my fireplace mantle. In these moments, I feel possibility, innovation and the opportunity to reinvent myself through consumerism and home decor.On this particular day, a few years ago, reinvention was at my fingertips. I was holding one of those reusa…

Dear Charlotte on Your Birthday

Dear Charlotte, It’s hard to believe that eight years ago you were born. I’ll never forget that day. I’m sure eight years feels like a really long time but it feels like a blink of an eye for me. I write this letter to you today knowing that you won’t read it, at least not anytime soon.I wanted to write to you to say that I am sorry.When I first found out that Caroline had a disability, I read a lot of articles online written by parents and experts. I distinctly remember one of the articles recommending that parents of a child with a disability should have another child. That may seem a little crass to some people, but I understood what the author meant. Of course, when I had you I was just beginning to feel something in my gut that told me that something was going on with Caro. The timing wasn’t great because I had no idea what hit me by having a toddler and an infant ,let alone a toddler with behavior problems and an infant. Your first days and years on this planet were equally beau…