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

Feeling the raw emotion

When I wrote that post about finding your tribe, I didn’t fully realize how much I was going to need them. I don’t normally need people. I’m usually pretty self-sufficient and strong. I know strong sounds like a weird reflection of myself, but I don’t usually doubt myself or need others to reassure me. I love helping other people and I’ll usually drop everything to be there for someone. Yet, I don’t usually need that in return. 

To say I’ve had a lot going on in the past few months would be a gross understatement. I’ve spent most of that time telling myself that I’m fine and can handle everything. I’ve been stretched thin more times than I can count. Overworked until I’ve reached my breaking point. And then I’ve kept going. Honestly, I have no idea how. It’s always a new day with new responsibilities and a different schedule. So push through is what I’ve done. One day after another. It’s a lot like biking. Keep peddling.

I’m not proud of my parenting over the past few months. My patience is basically non-existent. I can’t figure out how to get it back. I’ve used up all my energy and brain space getting myself to the evening and forget how to parent two small boys who have a lot of energy. So I hope that each day they give me a new chance to be a little better and yell a little less. I try to build up a little more patience and remind myself that fighting and not listening is normal. 

Summer is crazy around here. I know it’ll get worse when the boys have more activities, but it’s enough to have us wishing for a few quiet days. If you’re not careful, marriage can be a lot of passing in the kitchen and text messages. Bless this husband of mine for being ok with all the nights I can’t “deal.” For understanding that I’m overwhelmed. For stepping up and doing things he normally doesn’t do. I know he hasn’t liked it and it’s been a strain on him too, but in a sense I’ve been on survival mode. Some nights he sends me away. Other nights he takes care of me. And there are a whole lot of other nights where we co-exist in a messy house with loud boys. 

One of my best coping mechanisms is sleep. Or laying in bed. I’ve been alternating between going to bed at 8:30 or going out with my friends. Which means going to bed waaaayyyy to late. It’s not a healthy choice to stay out so late. But guess what? When I go out with my friends, there are no expectations. We chat about life but I don’t need to do anything for them. I can talk through a struggle or complain about one thing, but it doesn’t make everything fall. I can forget all the things that are piled up on me and I can just be me. I know it’s not good to ignore the stress in your life, but it’s something I’m really good at. Pretend it isn’t there and it’ll eventually get better. Keep pushing through. 

I’ve reached the end of that line. It’s time for me to start processing my feelings and dealing with my emotions. Some day I’ll put together the right words to thank my friends. Our nights out haven’t been about me and most nights it was actually about someone else needing me, but that’s the irony in pretending that you’re ok. I now realize it was just as much for me as it was for them. And I know that all of the past few months have happened to each of us because we were the right people for each other. I needed a couple of close friends who could help carry me. Even on the days it looked like I was carrying them, it was still a little bit about me. 

They were distracting me and giving me a purpose. Giving me something to focus on that wasn’t a responsibility but was simply opening up my heart to help a dear friend. That’s the easy stuff. That’s the stuff I can do in my sleep. You need me? I’M IN! If I’m starting to crumble…well, I’m not good at that. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be alone, I want full-time distractions. I don’t want to feel. I want fun, uplifting distractions. Build up my confidence or compliment me. Ask me to go do something but don’t make me talk about real life. Keep it light and I’ll have the time of my life. And please, don’t ask me how I am. If I’m on the edge, that pushes me over. I can’t handle the compassion and concern. It opens up all my feelings and eventually you leave but I still have to deal with them. 

By this time, it’s pretty obvious that I do really good at ignoring, pretending, and distracting myself from myself. Until I reach my breaking point and then I break down. It doesn’t have to be something big that does me in. It can be a little thing. A small disappointment or small thing that didn’t go as planned. It only takes that one thing to make it all fall down. I had one of those moments last week. Well, it was longer than a minute. It was raw and hard and I am so grateful to have one of my best friends by my side. I didn’t solve anything that night. And it took me a good day to start to feel better. 

Maybe it was the really good cry, maybe I pushed the feelings aside again, or maybe it was the reminder that I’m the strongest person she knows and I’ll be fine. Either way, I’m ok. I’m kind of dealing. I recognize some of the hard stuff and feel it. I get close to not being ok but then pull myself out of it. So far. I’m not done yet. Honestly, I’m afraid I’m not even close to being done before I really get through them all and can feel safe in my head again. 

Recently, someone commented on how I can put myself out there on this blog. Writing is one of my passions. It’s not easy to write the hard stuff, especially when this feels so raw. I’m basically opening up my heart in this post. I’m admitting to not being able to handle everything. Admitting to not being as strong as everyone thinks I am. That’s really hard. But I’m also hoping that my words can help me deal. I figure out my thoughts through my writing and I realized a few things from this post. I feel confident in saying, I’m fine. 

Feeling the raw emotion

The power of words

I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around something for a while. Struggling to put it into eloquent words. Heck, I don’t know that it was necessarily eloquent but maybe just words in general.

I’ve had a few friends get pretty hurt lately. If I wasn’t so stubborn, I probably would have experienced my share of pain, too. It really has me thinking about people in general. None of these situations have been the same, but I’m still surprised at the way people treat others. It’s sad to see how immature some people can be or how they can have such a disregard for another person. I think I do a pretty good job of treating others how I want to be treated. I’m even nice to people who I kind of don’t want to be nice to. Maybe it’s the way I was raised or maybe most people just don’t have that characteristic. It seems like a basic rule to being an adult…

I’ve been surprised that people don’t seem to care about others’ feelings, don’t know what their words or actions can mean to someone, and in some instances how their words could ruin someones’ life. I want to call them immature and say they’ll grow out of it, but will they? That’s the part that scares me. Are some people destined to be awful people for their entire life? And these aren’t awful people – or appear to be people who shouldn’t act this way. People that on the surface seem normal, but behind backs they turn into malicious people.

I’m wondering where along the way of being a grown up, some of these people forgot the basic rules of friendship. The things I’m teaching my young children. Be nice. Share. Don’t be mean to your friends. Maybe that means calling a friend and having a difficult conversation. Explaining why you’ve made certain life choices that directly impact them. Or defending a friend when you hear a rumor. Or checking in on them when you know they are going through a difficult time.

Being a friend comes easy to me. Sure, I don’t treat everyone with the same level of compassion, but they don’t treat me with the same either. However, one thing is definite –  I’ll be there for anyone who needs me. Always. 

I wonder what people think before they talk poorly about others. Anything? I try to make a habit of not talking poorly about people. I like the “rule” of not saying anything you wouldn’t say to the person being talked about. Seems like a pretty good way of life. I especially pull back from talking poorly about people in group settings. It’s distasteful. I don’t want to be the center of those conversations, so why should I do it to someone else? What are my opinions anyway? They aren’t facts, they are my opinions. It’s a view or judgement not necessarily based on fact. And probably more based on rumors.

When people spread gossip, do they want credit for spreading it? Want to be known as the first person who knew? Is it a competition? Do they feel remorseful? From my experience, most of the things I hear aren’t true. It’s sad that so many people spend so much energy spreading rumors. What happened to sharing the good news? What happened to celebrating when good things happen to people?

{Rumor}: circulating a story or report of something uncertain or untrue.
{Gossip}: casual conversation or reports of other people, typically containing details that are not confirmed as being true.

I thought my adult life would continue to distance me from drama, but I’ve found that drama and gossip don’t have an age. I wish they did. I would have happily left that behind in high school. How come people can manage to pay their bills and do very well at professional jobs, but can’t stop themselves from saying untrue things about “friends”? Or, can’t bring themselves to be adult enough to have an honest conversation with a friend?

I don’t let a lot of things get to me. It’s either the stubbornness in me or hearing my dad tell me at a young age that people talk about you because they are jealous of you. It’s always stuck with me and when I self-reflect I think it’s true most of the time. If I find myself annoyed at someone or something, it usually comes from a position of jealousy. I remind myself that the grass isn’t always greener and I have the power to change my situation. I don’t talk poorly of the person, instead I adjust my life so I can be happy with where I am.

I hate when a friend is hurt by actions or words. Other than being there to help them process and get through it, I hope I’m a positive influence. I hope I do it with grace and lead by example. I hope that little-by-little “these people” begin to understand that there’s a much happier life out there if they aren’t concerned with everyone else all the time. It’s sad to think some people spend valuable time thinking and talking about others when they could be leading a better life. Be a positive influence on someone, even if it’s not obvious. Set a good example and you’ll feel much better about your own life!

The power of words

Boys will be boys

I don’t usually like stereotypes when it comes to genders. However, sometimes my life feels like it’s what boy stereotypes are written by. We don’t play with a lot of “gentle” toys but each boy has their favorite sleeping stuffed animal. They play brothers all the time and that feels like a version of house. Except it’s always the episode where someone is racing or someone is a monster or bad guy. Close enough. 

I won’t say that they take advantage of me. Instead I’ll say I give them a little more freedom. I’m anxiously awaiting the independence phase so I tend to let them roam free a little more. That gets me in trouble sometimes though. Like last weekend when I told Bryan he was on nap duty once he got home from golfing. I gave strict instructions to be nice to each other and I sat outside in the sun. Bryan came home and asked me why they were coloring the house and each other. I was literally on the other side of the glass door. Those sneaky little boys! Needless to say, they had afternoon showers where Bryan managed to scrub Quinten’s name off his back…{I know! Where’s the picture!}


The next time I was home alone with them I sent them outside to play. It was a nice evening and they didn’t need to be inside. Five minutes later they came inside to put on swimming trunks. Whatever. Stay outside. I plopped in a Body Pump DVD and enjoyed 45 minutes of silence. Until I realized that they weren’t just playing in the rain water from last night. THEY WERE PAINTING THEMSELVES IN MUD. Whatever. Stay outside. I finished my workout and went out again to deal with it. And that’s when I found Quinten without any clothes on. Because that’s what boys do. They constantly take off their clothes. 

Boys will be boys

My love of biking

This is the post where I confess my love for biking. And summer. And doing it with friends {or my husband}.

I’m on my third season of biking and am feeling like this is my strongest season yet. I spent a lot of the winter months working out and hoping that my quads were going to come through for me. I won’t act too confident yet because I only have one 20+ mile day. Every other day is about 10 miles. But, most of the 10 mile days have felt great! 😉 Here’s a little secret, when you’re gearing up {haha} to ride your bike across the state….well, 10 miles doesn’t mean much of anything. Our lightest day will be 49 miles. So…I need some more saddle time it seems!

I am pretty proud of myself for getting a tough ride in before July. It didn’t feel very good the first half, which is a lot of hills. My quads were on fire and I didn’t have the go power that I wanted. When you’re on a really shitty hill, sometimes you have to tell yourself to just keep pedaling. “You can do it. Keep going. Keep pedaling.” And eventually I made it up that ridiculously awful hill. It’s a hill I despise. Being my first time this year, I kind of forgot HOW MUCH I hate that hill. You come from a gravel road, so basically at a dead stop, and then have a ridiculously long climb. As far as the eye can see, it’s still a hill. I’ve been known to screw myself up by looking ahead. It’s so far away that it’s defeating. I made the mistake of doing that today. I was going into an easier gear so I could keep up my speed and I looked up instead of just right in front of me. We were about 25% of the way up the incline and I felt my momentum die. On a steady incline, you don’t want your momentum to die. I had to gear down some more to keep it up and that was when I had to talk myself into pedaling and keeping my eyes on my tire instead of ahead of me. It’s a lot to deal with while trying to get up a difficult hill, physically forcing your eyes not to look up, moving your legs at a steady pace, and breathing. I think there’s a lot of character building that happens on a hill like that. I don’t give up easily. In that moment when the end isn’t in sight, I can see how easy it would be to give up. I made it up that stupid hill. It didn’t feel pretty, but I made it. And I loved it to its fullest on the way back when I was racing down it at 29 mph!

Part of the reason I’ve felt so strong this year is because of some reoccurring pains last year. I had problems with my neck and shoulder area hurting really bad. It was never on the same side and I couldn’t figure out how to position myself to not have it happen. I worked to build up my back and shoulders over the winter and am feeling pretty good so far. Between biking and softball, my quads get a lot of use during the summer. Last year I was constantly pulling them, which made both activities awful and at times really difficult. I spent all summer putting on Biofreeze but was still suffering. This year, I’m using Biofreeze as a preventative for softball but haven’t pulled them during either activity. However, after a double-header last Wednesday, they were still sore on Friday’s ride!

One of my favorite parts about biking is that I get to spend a lot of time with my friends. And sometimes my husband. Now, as a runner he sprints. That pretty much translates to biking also. So he rides a little faster than me and I don’t have any breath to actually talk to him. But I enjoyed his music this afternoon!

I’m not a morning person, but there’s something indescribable about 5 am on the bike trail with friends. A fresh start to a new day. It’s a mix of cool and humid. We pull into the parking lot and mutter hello as all of us wake up. Most mornings someone is struggling with bike gear because we left our houses during the 4 am hour. We get on those bikes and our brains and bodies start to wake up. Some mornings we talk about meaningless things. But most mornings we talk about real things. Things that are too much for text messages. Because being a mom means you send most of your adult conversations via text. Summers on the bike trail feel like our place to reconnect. Life is just as busy, but we make the time for us. We use the “excuse” that we need to train, but I think all of us do it just as much for the social togetherness. And maybe the bikers “high.”

My love of biking

Learning from my children

People always say having kids teaches you a lot about yourself and gives you a different perspective on life. I recently read an article about how mom’s shouldn’t be afraid to talk about kids in the workplace. How they should add parenting to their resumes. That makes sense to me. I am a big believer that having kids has taught me how to handle unpleasant situations and at times even handle employee situations better than I would have six years ago. I look at a tantrum at home and laugh to myself because my 5-year-old is facing the worst situation of his day, while I just dealt with some real stuff at work. While my brain doesn’t want to listen to a tantrum at home after a long day, it puts things into perspective. I see how important it is for me to help him learn how to deal with his problems. I see people throw tantrums in the workplace. Like, a tantrum that rivals my small child but includes lots of swearing while my child only screamed and stomped his feet. Most of the time this happens with someone who doesn’t have children. They only have themselves to take care of. They don’t see the bigger picture in life. They still get to be selfish and act like a small child who isn’t getting what they want.

My kids aren’t just showing me commonalities between the workplace and home, they are also teaching me about myself. It’s not easy for me to open myself up and show my weaknesses. Somewhere along my lifetime I got the mindset that I need to handle whatever is thrown my way. I don’t need to ask for help, I just need to get it done. I don’t feel like I’m stubborn. I don’t know that it makes a difference why I’m stubborn. But I don’t realize I do it. I’ve taken on a lot of stress in my work life and the outsider perspective is that it’s because of my stubbornness. I can kind of see it, but I still struggle with it. How is doing my job because it’s what is asked of me being stubborn? Shouldn’t that just make me a good worker? Is it because I sacrifice myself to do the job? Meaning, I’ll take the world on my shoulders and not burden anyone else.

Trying to discipline my 3-year-old has taught me a lot about myself. And it’s not all things that I wanted to learn. I have a short fuse when it comes to not listening. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with that because I spend a good portion of my day asking why no one in this house will listen to me. Seriously? Why can’t anyone do what I say?! Example…the other night I watched the boys walk towards the stairs and Quinten had a glass full of water. I knew what was about to happen. I yelled from across the kitchen, “DO NOT DUMP THAT GLASS OF WATER DOWN THE STAIRS!” At this point, I can’t remember if he even looked at me. It doesn’t matter. He looks at me all the time and does exactly what I told him not to do. He dumped a glass of water down the stairs. Who does that?! Obviously the next thing he did was go down the stairs like a slip ‘n slide. OBVIOUSLY. He was at the bottom of the stairs by the time I made it across the kitchen. {Ask Amanda, she was just as stunned. Welcome to my life.} Then I had to make the choice of putting him in timeout and cleaning up the mess myself or sacrificing an entire roll of paper towels so they could clean it up themselves. I picked the roll of paper towels and went back to my glass of wine. {That’s probably when I gave myself a refill.}

Twenty minutes later Maximus came running into the kitchen yelling about the huge mess that was in the bathroom. A sink full of toilet paper, water on full force, bubbles everywhere, and water all over the place. Why can’t I enjoy a couple of glasses of wine with my friend?!  After I cleaned that mess up and put them to bed, she asked how I wasn’t drinking bottles of wine every night. I don’t know. I really don’t know. More girl nights will help me survive these two!

It is so frustrating to discipline a child who gets worked up even more when you get mad. I don’t know how to not get mad that he’s not listening to me and be calm when I tell him he’s not acting very nice. This is when I realize that we are a lot alike. Both of us extremely angry and both wanting to be the alpha. So I take the wins as they come, sometimes it’s winning a day and other times it’s one disagreement out of many. 

Learning from my children

Finding me again

There’s been a lot of talk on social media about finding your tribe. I absolutely love it!

I went on a girls trip a couple months ago and felt that girl tribe bond. I joked that I couldn’t wait for the trip because I was going to unadult. To adult: to work a desk job, care for a family, take care of a house, and be involved and/or lead multiple community projects. I didn’t realize how much I needed a break from all my jobs! I was ready to do whatever Kyley wanted and not worry about taking care of anyone else. {Because on a girls trip you all watch out for each other, but you don’t have to care for anyone else.} It was the best! I found myself again. Me. Not the employee, mommy, wife, or volunteer. Just ME.

Whatever all this tribe talk is, I’ve realized that taking care of me isn’t about 5 am workouts, clean eating, or setting aside time to read and write. That’s taking care of my physical and mental health. While that’s important, I tricked myself into thinking I was focusing on myself. I hear so many parents of young kids talk about how hard it is to be an individual anymore. I get it. I get it hard. But working on your health is different than working on your soul. All this tribe talk has made me realize I need to work on my soul.

Spring is a rejuvenating time for me. I come out from winter hiding and am ready for sun, fun, and friends. I’m looking at this season with a different perspective this year. I’m going to focus on me and cultivate my relationships. Girls nights, trips, family nights with friends, and anything else that fills my bucket {preschool reference: bucket fillers make your heart happy}.

I miss Kyley. The girl who got me to this point in my life. The individual without all the titles. The one who built friendships, a career, and a family. Somewhere along the past six years I got caught up in the workload and keeping babies alive part. I lost sight of keeping the friendships alive and doing things that make me who I am. I thought one night a week sports and random celebrations where filling my individual needs.

Since having kids, I’ve slowly learned to lean on people. With one kid, I thought I had to figure it out on my own. Then came a kid who challenges me in ways I didn’t even know possible. I checked my humility at the door and found an even deeper relationship with my friends because of it. I don’t think I’m any more special than the next person but I have a very hard time asking for help. {Some people in my house would say the ornery blonde got his stubbornness from me. He might be right.} I’m learning that it doesn’t make me weak to ask for advice or even whine a little about my life. My friends are having the same daily struggles. It’s not a bad thing to reach out from the darkness and ask someone to pull you out.

All this tribe talk is making me love and appreciate my friends even more. It’s reminding me to make them a priority and connect with them more often. To make sure they are doing ok or just tell them how much they mean to me. And to spend a little more time focusing on me, even if that means skipping out on a night at home to just be Kyley out with friends.

Find your tribe

Finding me again