Struggles with being and doing it all

On the eve of Maximus’ 6th birthday I’m left feeling a little deflated. My feet feel like dead weight kind of deflated. I spent the day vacuuming, sorting toys, organizing toys, and putting all things kid away. In between that I stopped to have a beer and buy party supplies. {The beer was extra delicious!} I haven’t planned a single thing for this party, but that’s the season of life I’m in right now. Maximus changed his mind twice on his cake, from Lego to Batman. And that means I’m not baking a cake this year. I’m too exhausted with life to feel bad about it. I’m looking at it as one less thing I have to do. 

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad timing that today I feel like I finally have the words to describe my struggles this summer. It’s a mix between being tired of doing It All and wanting some kind of recognition for doing It All. I know I’m not alone in any of this and having small kids only makes it all seem more crazy. But half the time I want recognition that I do a crap ton of stuff. That not everyone can do as much as me. {As I’m writing this I’m realizing that I need to tell my friends they are awesome. I can think of a lot of people who fit this description and I need to build them up.} Most days it feels like no one in my house can pick anything up. It’s utterly exhausting to just look around at all the things I pick up day-after-day. I’m trying really hard to raise boys who clean up after themselves but most days it seems like I’m talking to myself. {Please, no suggestions on how to have kids help around the house…} We make one good step forward and then someone {Quinten} is spreading tooth paste all over the bathroom like an animal. 

Clothes, toys, papers from daycare, and shoes. Every where. Every room I go into has something that belongs to a little person. All surfaces are constantly covered in things that belong plus random clutter. It’s like constant visual noise and it hurts my brain some days. I used to escape by watching shows at night. This summer I’ve found my escape to be my bed. For the most part, it’s a kid-free zone. 

It feels like the weight of all my responsibilities is finally getting to me. I’ve had plenty of pity parties over the past six years. Most of them have been about missing my freedom. Missing the carefree lifestyle and missing my individual identity. This feels different. It’s like I want a break from all of them. It’s a lot of hard work being a mom, wife, employee, boss, and volunteer. It’s really hard to be on from the moment you wake up until the second your mind finally shuts down at night. 

The things I can beat myself up about the most seem to be the ones that I want to escape from the most. Parenting and all the wife duties of taking care of our home. I should do more and be more. Yet, I find myself wanting to do nothing. I want to escape. On our girls trip, I so creatively coined the term “not adulting.” It’s been overused all spring and summer. It’s code for, I need a break from all of this so can we please go out for a drink {or 4}. 

I feel like I’m in Groundhog’s Day. Except it’s pleading with small children about the same things, picking up the same toys, washing the same clothes, making the same foods, putting the same dishes away EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, and doing the same bedtime routine every night. Even our weekly activities are the same – softball nights or band practice night. It’s so routine that I never know what day of the week it is. They all look the same. 

I’ve never felt like I needed spontaneity in my life but this routine and constant responsibilities seem to be doing me in right now. It’s a season, I know it is. That doesn’t make it any easier. I’m not even finding comfort in my friends who send out cries of non-adulting pleas. No solidarity pledge from me. Unless we’re escaping for a night, it’s not doing either of us good to know we both need out. It can be a suffocating feeling. And when I feel suffocated, I disengage with life. I solely exist in bodily form but can’t be expected to engage in meaningful conversation or do much but be there. 

I know I’m not more special than the next struggling mom. I’m not writing this to say I am. I’m writing this because I’m sure there are many who can relate to this feeling. I don’t know how to solve it. While the snaps from friends that say this sucks don’t help, I think our conversations do. There is comfort in talking with someone about the struggles. When people connect about struggling with all the parent responsibilities, it makes us feel less like we’re failing. Makes us feel more normal and ok with this phase. As long as we know everyone finds this hard, then we’ll make it through. Plus, find yourself a tribe who can not adult with you. Preferrably one who can help you have the best time of your life on those days or nights that you can escape! And added bonus if you can pretend to not adult while the kids run around and you drink an adult beverage. 

Struggles with being and doing it all

Surviving the last 24 hours of solo parenting

Do you believe in karma? I suppose I do because I have been known to say it a time or two. In early January, I was traveling for work and Bryan ended up only working one day out of an entire week. I can’t remember who got sick first, but at one point they were both home. We had a pretty complicated schedule that Friday as he was leaving town before I was getting back. It would have normally been no big deal – school and daycare. Except they were both home so a grandpa came in to cover for us.

Fast forward a couple of months.

I’m ending a two-week solo gig. Our first week was SUPER.BUSY. We were only home two nights out of six. By the end of the week everyone was worn down and tired. That made for some fun mornings. As we entered week two, our schedule looked good. We were going to be home every night and I had my lunch hours planned to get all my errands done. {Because no one wants to run errands after work with two kids in tow.}

Then Tuesday happened.

One whining child was so tired he couldn’t get his pajamas off to go to the bathroom. {Hashtag: the struggle is real.} The other complaining of his tummy and leg hurting. Off to the kitchen he went to eat his cereal. Pro tip: if your slowest eater is dressed, take advantage and try to get that food in him quicker. Also, he eats about three breakfasts a day but loses his mind if he has to skip the one at home. Back to “help” a 5-year-old figure out how to get off the hallway floor when he’s soooooo.tired. Crying from the kitchen. Sprint through the house because I’m thinking the worst just happened and it was probably throw-up. Nope. Hurt leg really hurts and cereal looks untouched. I pick him up and don’t like the sounds in this throat. Luckily, I have years of experience at this stuff. No thinking required, just action. I stand with my back to the sink as I’m holding him against my chest. Arch my back so his face is over the sink. Or at least I hope it is because I can’t see back there. Shush him as he throws up over my shoulder and calmly talk to Maximus as he buttons his pants and tells Quinten it’s ok. {Yay! He’s able to get dressed again!} When I’m sure he’s done, I look to see that he didn’t have anything in his stomach so it was just a lot of saliva. However, dress goes into the laundry and yoga pants and t-shirt on.

So karma does come back around. The throw up was an isolated incident and in came a small fever. Little did I know, there would be no work and daycare on Wednesday. Maximus woke up around 11:30 that night and was pretty hot. He stayed up until almost 2:30! I eventually let him come into my bed. Quinten stormed into my room around 2:15 terrified of a loud sound and pretty hot as well. It was most definitely a monster or a siren or a mouse or a loud boom or a beeping sound in his room or thunder. He’s just sure of it. I did what any solo parent does at 2am – got everyone’s pillows and blankets and favorite stuff animal and turned on random bathroom and closet lights so everyone could see. And told them to stop talking and use quiet voices and JUST PLEASE GO TO SLEEP. Then I slept on the smallest sliver of my bed, crowded out by Quinten and Wrigley.

Luckily, I had shared a bottle of wine with a friend that evening so whatever I can deal. Because otherwise a person would go crazy after that kind of night. {Yes, I bought the same wine today when we were at the store. Because, yes.}

Wednesday got us two kids staying home! Slight fevers and emotional messes because no one got enough sleep due to our middle-of-the-night party. I was bored out of my mind and tired of watching Curious George, but we survived. And at the end of the day, I drove all around town getting them fast food because it was that kind of day. I high-fived myself when I got them both to sleep in their own beds even though it was raining, windy, and thundering.

AND THEN 2 AM HIT AGAIN!

I sat up in bed as I watched them both come into my room talking away. “Mommy, I’m thirsty. Mommy, I want to sleep in your bed because I’m scared. Mommy, my tummy hurts so I want to sleep in here.” AHHHH! Fifteen minutes later I had all the necessities again and we were settled in. Somehow they slept until close to 8:30, but ruined my early morning workout plans again.

It’s 30 outside, windy, and gloomy. We’re fever-free, it’s spring break, and we’re bored. I took them to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and the grocery store so I could get a Starbucks. {Let’s talk about how I calmly waited out a stubborn 3-year-old who wanted to push his own little cart. GET IN THE OBNOXIOUS FIRE TRUCK. PLEASE AND THANK YOU! I won.} I made them a super awesome lunch of pigs in a blanket and promptly put them all in the fridge because no.one.ate.them.

One more day until Bryan comes home…and a bottle of wine that’s calling my name. When can I open it???

Surviving the last 24 hours of solo parenting

My battle with migraines

“The cabin doors are closing, lets update our Facebook status one last time and send that text and tweet so we can get going.” – I do love a social savvy flight attendant! Something about humor that connects with my soul before signing off for the flight.  

As I left my house in the bitter cold early one Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past week. Heck, the past month. It’s been hard. Like, physically hard. I’ve had only a few instances like this in my life. Breaking my foot, getting E.Coli after a work trip, and the worst ever recovery from the stomach flu that left me not eating for a month. I’ve battled migraines since my teens. I began to worry that I was changing my status from random migraines to chronic suffering.

After my second 2-day migraine in under a week and 8th total in a month, I got myself in to see a doctor. She deemed me the proud owner of a sinus infection and put me on antibiotics for 14 days. I really liked her. She wanted to attack whatever was wrecking havoc in my face first and at the same time work on my sinuses and get the migraines taken care of. After learning that I should be able to pop my own ears, she decided I had some things not working to relieve the pressures of my sinuses. At that point, a guess of why I get migraines is like winning the lottery, even if it ends up being wrong. With some exercises to do and specific nasal spray to use, she sent me on my way with instructions that I should taste the spray when I use it. It’s not the most ideal and honestly, I try not to taste it when I take it. I’ve been taking it for a year straight because I thought it was helping my migraines but in no way have I been taking it so well that I’ve been tasting it. So 1/2 a point for me for taking the right thing, just really poor execution. That’s what I get for trying to self-fix. But if any of you suffer from migraines, you know how difficult it is to control or diagnosis. So you do what you can to continue on with a semi-normal life.

I was in an absolutely awful form of hell. No joke. Worse than when I was on bed rest for 6 weeks with a broken foot. But maybe not worse than The Stomach Pains of 2015. Those where pretty excruciating and left me not able to find the right fetal position to make them stop. I was like a caged animal. But the past month has left me unable to function 8 to 9 times. Some days I had to push through some activity or work to get to a place where I could crawl into bed with a heating pad and cold meds. I learned with the first one in December that cold & flu meds plus a heating pad had me almost good in just a couple of hours. That trick soon stopped working {much like any other self-medication I’ve found for migraines over the years, it always stops working eventually} and I was trying a combination of sinus related cocktails. Decongestants, cold & flu, nasal spray, allergy meds, and ibuprofen, water, and lattes for the caffeine. Sometimes {ok, every migraine day} going through all of them. On the other days I was popping cold & flu and decongestants to dull the headache. The strange thing is that I never had cold symptoms. I guess my sinuses are just cool like that.

As I was sitting on the plane last weekend, my ears basically popped for the first 40 minutes. I was incredibly grateful they were popping. I was kind of concerned, but never have a problem with my ears popping on a plane so I figured I’d be fine. I had a number of people concerned the plane would make it worse. I figured I had already experienced some really shitty days, so I’d just be dealing with it in a public place. Nothing I hadn’t done before. Hopefully the forced pressure changes helped me in the long run.

The physical hardships I’ve gone through have been enough to shake me up. I pick myself back up pretty quickly, I always do, but it’s been pretty hard mentally as well. When I get random migraines I experience a lot of mommy and wife guilt. Nine times out of ten, I get myself through the work day and pick up a kid. I get home and because it’s a little bit quieter {for short bursts of time}, my brain has space to realize how much my head hurts. And I give in. Rarely do I retreat to my dark bedroom, even though almost always do I want to. I usually set up on the couch, sometimes even closing my eyes for a bit and falling asleep for a few minutes at a time. Migraines don’t work around my schedule, they show up unannounced and always unwanted. I feel less guilt when my husband has plans for the evening. I crash on the couch until he leaves and then make it through to bedtime. Sometimes the boys watch way too many cartoons and other times I haul myself into the bathroom so they can take a bath before extended cartoons. It’s a crappy feeling to sit on the couch while chaos ensues around you and you do nothing.

Only a mommy guilt brain can make you feel worse when your spouse is home with you. I should feel better that he’s home and can pick up the slack while I try to take care of me. Instead, I feel worse that he HAS to pick up the slack and feel like everything he does is full of disdain and annoyance towards me. Every timeout he has to initiate, every meal he has to put together, every dish he puts away and counter he cleans, and the bedtime routine that all of a sudden becomes a solo act. Nevermind that most nights he handles the kitchen cleanup. Something about having a migraine makes me feel guilty for him doing something he does most nights.

I hate that my kids have spent countless breathes asking me if my head hurts. Or that after returning from a week-long trip, Quinten tells me after my head stops hurting we’ll do something. I’m at the end of my 14-day meds and it’s been a number of days since my last headache, but the last thing he remembers is me spending an entire evening and not going to work because I was in so much pain. I wish my kids didn’t know a life of chronic pain.

For all of you who suffer from some form of chronic pain, mental or physical, try to give yourself a break. Don’t put added pressure on yourself. It really is ok to just take care of you and make you better. Do what I say, not what I do! But I can tell you that sometimes when you have a migraine on a work trip and you’re stuck on Bourbon Street, you can take enough ibuprofen that it will eventually go away while you go from bar to bar with live music. You’ll eventually walk out onto the street and realize it’s gone! Making you feel like you’ve unlocked a special level in the world of migraines.

My battle with migraines

Getting back into the swing of life

The night before the first work day in the new year is typically full of anxiety and angst. I stayed up well past my bedtime as did the kids. Quinten’s naptime was pushed backed 30-60 minutes daily. Lunches pushed back an hour. Consequently, our wake ups were L-A-ZY. I only got up before 8 am twice in 17 days. Whoa. I was on vacation for 17 days. That includes weekends {I don’t work weekends}, but that’s a lot of days. Whoa. No wonder the days just kind of blended together. 

We didn’t have a lot of commitments outside of the holidays. It was a glorious way to spend a break. It was just enough productivity and lazy for me. Plus, I drank a lot of lattes. 🙂 {I know the rest of the adult world has been drinking coffee forever, hang with me on this new obsession.} I kind of wish I had worked out more and had less migraines, but no regrets. 

If I had to pinpoint what made this year easier to go back I’d say it was how our Sunday looked. I spent the morning organizing all.the.toys in the house. I did this before Christmas and purged a bunch, but the organization was in need of more help. I’m always fighting a battle of keeping some toys out of the living room. After I did some closet magic, I was able to better utilize spaces in each of their rooms. 

  
We’ve had a constant back-and-forth about using closets for clothes. Each boy has just enough dresser space to have everything in a dresser but that is basically only if I’m the only one to ever use the drawers. {STOP UNFOLDING ALL THE CLOTHES!} That’s not realistic so it was time to rearrange. Long-sleeves and sweatshirts now reside in closets. And board games are off of Maximus’ bookshelf. Meaning, Quinten can’t pull them out and lose all the pieces or break the boards. 

  Quinten’s closet isn’t as useful. Boxes of clothes that are too small and a box of next-in-line clothes are always in there. Baby swing and bouncer that was recently returned to us is taking up valuable space because our basement is in a remodel state. I still made some changes that helped though and it’s better than it was. 

A hot and sweaty hour on the volleyball court reenergized me and I was ready to tackle the night. Bryan took the boys out in the snow while I made dinner. {After a week of snow, it was time they finally made it out there! Whoops.} One-pot chicken showed up on our Facebook timelines after we ate and I’ll tell you it’s pretty delicious! And super easy. 

  
After supper we rocked out to some Polar Express music while we surprised the boys with hot chocolates. I grocery shopped alone {AMEN!} this weekend so no one knew we had any. And of course Bryan blew their minds by playing music from the movie. It was AWESOME! But most of all, it was great to have some happy family moments. After two weeks of constant togetherness, we all needed some fun. 

Meal prepping for the week helped me feel even better about my healthy choices and general feeling of life. It feels good to start the new work week and month on the right foot. My house won’t always be picked up and organized and my fridge won’t always be full of prepared heathy foods, but I’m going to try to hold on to this feeling as a motivator. 

Getting back into the swing of life

Saying goodbye to naptimes

Life is always changing, especially with small children in the house. I still remember the realization {and sadness} that one of my children was dropping his nap. It was a rough transition for me. That was MY time and then he was invading it, loudly. In an effort to make sure the little one slept, we let Maximus stay in the living room. {One too many ruined naps because he couldn’t be quiet.} 

MY time used to be anything I wanted it to be…naps, catching up on shows, eating junk food…ok those were about the only things I used to do. But it was glorious! Now that time looks a lot different. We recently implemented iPad WITH HEADPHONES. It’s a lifesaver for me. Maximus can watch Axel and Family Fun as much as he wants and I can have quiet time. It’s a big improvement over annoying cartoons. 

By the time naptime comes around I am ready for a break. My heels usually hurt from spending the morning going and standing in my kitchen. {I know, poor weak office worker. It’s really a thing.}  

BRB. Quinten just woke up. A two-hour nap is pretty amazing lately. He is a SIGHT. Blonde hair going EVERY direction. And now the iPad volume is back. But I didn’t even have to remind him to let his brother watch, which is a miracle in itself. We’re struggling with sharing and including our brother in things. Huh. Peppa Pig Santa. Ok then. 

While we seem to have figured out Maximus’ naptime, I haven’t quite figured it out for me. I could clean, workout, do laundry, read, write, or go grocery shopping. I’m not good at getting up early on weekends so I almost always need to get my workout in. Almost everything feels like a job or responsibility and when naptime comes around I just don’t wanna. Grocery shopping is the least ideal one because then I get zero rest all day. {Whoops, sounding like I can’t function without resting.} And cleaning sounds like the most adulting thing to do. Honestly, I usually am already doing laundry. I sit down on the couch to let it finish, the couch swallows me up, and I listen in annoyance as the dryer continuously fluffs as if it’s taunting me to get the clothes before they wrinkle. 

I make a lot of poor choices during naptime, but sometimes I have enough energy left to do a Body Pump workout. Mostly, I social media for an hour or so. {It’s 2016, it’s a verb now.} When I decide to close my eyes, an alarm must sound in Quinten’s room because he comes stumbling out shortly after. And then I’m annoyed again and feeling all sorts of helpless and poor me-like. 

What are you doing during quiet or nap time? 

While on Christmas break, naptimes have been between 1-3 hours. Once we get back into a routine, I expect him to drop down to an hour. It’s like these kids like to constantly make me adjust and change with them! Why can’t they realize that naps are awesome and that we should all do them for 2-4 hours every day?! So now I really need to use my time wisely. I think I’ll focus on writing and reading. Things I can do while being lazy and drinking lattes on the couch. I think that will be my creative focus for 2016. More reading and writing. Less adulting? Just kidding, more efficient adulting so I can enjoy my quiet time without being a lazy couch monster. 

  

Saying goodbye to naptimes

Bedtimes gone wrong

Survival posts seem to be a theme around here lately. But, if you had been part of the bedtime in my house that just happened…well, you’d understand. It’s been quite a while since I told someone that I didn’t like my kids much at that moment. I definitely said that twice on Sunday. To which my husband replied along the lines of he hadn’t really liked them much at all lately. I get it.

Some bedtimes go very well and everyone listens. No one loses their mind when you say it’s time for bed. Other nights, one falls and the other quickly falls in support of brotherhood. Tears. Legs that can’t hold up small bodies. Arms that have a life of their own. So much flailing. All the chapters from the Small Child Handbook. You know it’ll be a fun night when you’re doing a solo bedtime and your littlest human does everything he can to run away from you and not get his pjs on. Physically putting clothes on a small human who is twisting and turning is a delightful experience that leaves a person left feeling like you’ve had an excellent workout.

Tonight was one of those semi-ok nights. That means that at most times, at least one kid was listening. {We have a low bar in our house…} Going to bed even looked like it was going to go well because Maximus listened as soon as I said it was time for bed. Two minutes and that kid was in bed and I was on to the next one. Who was in my bedroom taking candles and glass out of a vase. Eventually I got Quinten into his bedroom. He wasn’t the happiest because I refused to sing him a song because he hadn’t been listening. Here’s the thing about Quinten, he doesn’t like it when you don’t do what he wants. So he threw an epic fit. And I said goodnight and left his room. Kicking, screaming into the air, screaming into the bed, and swinging his arms. I was planning on ignoring it, but Maximus shares a wall with him. {And it’s hard to tell a kid to try to sleep over that.} So I had to deal with it. And really, this kid is so stubborn that he’ll scream until you can finally convince him to stop. Tough love happened next. Hugging him as tight as I could until he stopped crying. It’s physically hard to give that kid love! It took a hug from his brother, putting a sock back on {don’t be so surprised that you kicked it off Q!}, remaking his bed, and lots of soft voices. I thought I was starting all over again when he requested a song, but somehow I was able to get out of that room without him {or I} screaming. After starting bedtime 30 minutes before.

::Now I watch mindless tv::

Bedtimes gone wrong

Making it

It’s pretty easy to crop out the mess or edit the words to spin the story into a fairytale, especially on social media. When you don’t have time for people to come over, the chances are low that anyone will know what it’s really like inside your house, or even your life. My life is so busy right now that I’d guess very few people actually know what’s going on. Almost every day I’m battling a new “fire” at work and I usually haven’t fully fixed the last one yet. It’s emotionally and physically draining. One day a few weeks ago, I sat outside in the quiet and just watched the sky. The fighting and crying inside was shut out and I wasn’t responsible for anything for those blissful 10 minutes. After putting in 30 something hours in three days, I was done and the week was only half over. The days are long and the years are short. I get that. When you feel like you’re in an awful version of Groundhog’s Day, it’s not very reassuring. It’s super hard without an end in sight.

It’s hard to say the same things to your children day-after-day when you don’t feel like they get it. Constantly teaching them not to fight, to share things, to not yell, and to use words when they get mad. It’s exhausting. I’m sure it’s exhausting to be inside a 2-year-old body also, but it doesn’t look like he’s exhausted. It looks like he has endless energy. It looks like he’s a runner when we’re in public places, has endless lung capacity, only has one volume {LOUD!}, and does everything we don’t want him to do. I look at my newly turned 5-year-old and see that it does go fast, but then I wonder how the years will go the second time around. Because this time we’re dealing with all kinds of things that we didn’t have to “handle” the first time. And for the sake of sleep, please stop waking up so early! Not only does he need more sleep, but so do the rest of us.

If you ask me how it’s going and my response is anything but “good,” know that I’m surviving by taking it one day at a time. They may not be glorious days, but I’m making it through the best way I can. Some days that means trying to yell over them so they will listen and other days that means running away to the deck for some quiet. Oh yeah, and some days it means coffee.

Making it