The Change In Me

I think it is impossible to raise kids and not experience some form of mom guilt. It could be you feel guilty for not spending enough time with your kids, for having to work, for not being able to provide them everything they dream of (let’s be honest, those dreams are expensive!) or how you are treating them, or better yet, how and what you are teaching them.

I have guilt over all of these things now and then. The one thing that causes me the most angst is how I am parenting them. How I talk to them and in turn what they are learning from me. From my behavior.

I am not perfect. I know I am not a perfect mother, as I know there is no such thing. I just want to go to sleep at night feeling like a good mother. In the last several months these moments of feeling proud of myself, of the mother I am, have been fleeting. They are now few and far between. Instead I lay in bed at night feeling ashamed and sorry. Regretful and guilty. What could I have done differently? Or better?

There are a million things I shouldn’t say, but of course once frustration sets in and patience runs out, I do. The minute something hurtful crosses my lips I am sorry. The minute I grab one of my boys, in anger, and forcefully put them in the time-out chair, I feel bad. Should being a mom feel this sad, sorry and mean?

I do not feel bad for disciplining them. It is my job to teach them right from wrong, good from bad. The problem is, I have not been a good teacher. Now I have no one to blame for my children’s behavior but myself. This is why I find the way I react to their behavior so shameful. If I was doing a better job parenting them, if I tried harder as a Mom, then they would not behave the way they do (90% of the time anyway) and there would be no reason for me to have to behave the way I do. It is cyclical. Like a never-ending game of Ring Around the Rosie we keep spinning and falling down. Over and over.

So I will stop. I will change my behavior, therefore changing theirs. I will do what I say and follow through. I may falter, but I will try my hardest, everyday. I will talk to them instead of yelling and screaming. I will not fly off the handle and treat them badly. I will listen to them and I will teach them to listen in return.

I will be prepared for them to fight me, to fight the new rules. They will not believe that I will stay strong and true to my word, but I will. Because I have to. They are mine, and it is my job to teach them to be the greatest of men, and I will.  I will not have my children look back one day and remember me as being a mean mom. A tough mom? Fine. Mean? No way. Hurtful? Never. I will love them more than I do anything else and from this they will learn to love.

I will start today. I will never stop.

Sunday Mornings

I read the obituaries. Coincidentally, I am also the same person who is slightly crazy and should not be reading the obituaries. I am a worrier, born and bred (thanks, Mom.) If there is anything that leaves room for over-analyzing and worrying about, I will find that thing and worry myself mad. It is a skill and let me tell you, I can worry with the best of them.

Although my worries range from big to small, there is one worry that takes the cake. The Big Kahuna of worrying for me is my fear of death. I know I am not unlike millions of people when it comes to this worry. I also know that I am in a smaller percentage of people that worry themselves sick over it. I am part of that crazy people group. You know the ones that start out by saying, "Hi, my name is Jana and I am a crazy worrier." I accept it.

This is why the obituaries are dangerous for me. I am searching for a few key things when reading them: age and cause of death. When I see an obituary for a baby or even a teenager I need to know why their life was cut short. Then I need to promptly figure out if what they died from could happen to one of my kids. I do the same thing with people my age or my husbands age and then also my parents age. Understanding why the people died somehow gets easier as the people get older. If only this was the case when older people I love died.

The obituaries are, in a sense, like a train wreck for me. You don’t want to watch but you couldn’t pull your eyes away if your life depended on it. I find myself turning to the obits on Sunday mornings knowing they will make me sad or kick my worrying up a notch. I know in my logical, smart, head that this is not how normal people behave, spending their Sunday mornings praying you only see obits for 98 year old grandpa’s that lived fabulous lives, but I do.

It is like I am a glutton for punishment, letting my mind wander to the dark places lurking inside. These places I now refer to as my “bad thoughts” so my husband knows what is happening with me. So when he asks, “What’s the matter with you?” I can just say, “I was having a bad thought" and leave it at that.  It only takes one story of a sick child or a husband losing his life to make me keep asking myself,  “What if that happened to me?” The what if’s are slowly killing me. Trapping me with worry and forcing me to want to smother my family with love, because that will surely keep them safe. Keep them alive.

I have seen friends go through losing a baby, having to bury their sweet baby girl. I have learned of a dear friend passing away, only a day after giving birth, leaving behind her newborn baby, her 2-year old son and a husband she adored. I have seen a man fight for his life with all that he had and lose a battle with cancer, leaving behind a little boy and a pregnant wife. I cannot imagine what these people have gone through and what they continue to go through to come out on the other side. The good side. So my bad thoughts drag me down to the places where I imagine what it would be like if someone told me Jason was not coming home or God forbid a part of me, one of my boys, did not make it. It would be my end. These terrifying, stomachache inducing thoughts are what, often times, consume me.

I am crazy, I know. But the worry is more than I can control. Because what if that was me without a husband, my soul mate, the one I dream of growing old with? What if it was my baby? What if, what if, what if. I am so scared that my constant bad thoughts will make my nightmare of what if’s a reality.

So, I do all I know how to do. I worry, but as I do, I pray. I pray hard and I love them with all I have. Then I read the obits on Sunday morning and start all over again.

I Can't Kill Them So I Might As Well Eat Ice Cream

A few nights ago, Jay & I went out for a walk with the boys. I have been on a bit of a mission to lose a few pounds since the bridesmaid dress I am supposed to be wearing to my sister’s wedding next month hardly zips. There will be Spanx involved and even then, when I am smooshed into the spandex casing like a sausage, I am not certain it will fit. I had started my mission to get back in to shape (like I was pre-full-time job) before I even had the dress. I signed up for this Boot Camp at my gym and have been busting my ass at the 5am class three days a week for five weeks now. It is hard, and early in the morning, and oh so hard. I thought this was just the thing I needed to jump-start my workouts and get me on track. I imagined my new toned body complete with rock hard abs.  It would be hard, sure, but well worth it.

Boy, was I wrong. In the five weeks since I started boot camp, aka HELL, I have gained (as in added) 2 pounds. TWO POUNDS. I can only swear when discussing this or I start to seriously consider blowing my fucking brains out.

The best part is, I was dumb enough to sign up for the next 8-week session. Clearly, I am BAT-SHIT CRAZY.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the walk….so in addition to boot camp I have been trying to add a few walks in at night after work as well. Like I mentioned, we are all out on our walk, Jay pushing the kids in the stroller, me yelling at him for not keeping up, etc. when Jason decides to turn off our neighborhood sidewalk and into an alley that runs behind the “downtown” businesses. This alley is like many alleys. It is dirty, lined with stinky dumpsters and employees who are hanging out the back doors smoking. I instantly start inquiring about why he took us this way and why do we need to cut through here and on and on. It is at this time he asks the kids “Who wants ice cream?” Ice cream? Are you fucking kidding me? Of course, the kids erupt with “I do’s” and I have lost the battle. Make that the war.

What you do not know and Jason knows all too well, is that I have a love, a deep, passionate love for ice cream. It is the one bad for me food item I wish I could eat everyday. I have zero self-control when it comes to ice cream, absolutely NO CONTROL.

Needless to say, I am irritated as all hell because my walk, for exercise, just turned into a walk for ice cream, which are two very different walks! So I start yammering on and on to Jay about how I am going to be fat forever and never fit into my dress and how he is a jerk for suggesting this. You get the idea. This is his response:

Jay: Hey Jack, do you know what people do with crabby Mommies in alleys?

Me: [giving Jason an evil eye and a look like you are fucking kidding me, right?]

Jack: No, there are crabby Mom’s back here? Are they locked in that fenced area?

Jason: No, you get a big digger and you dig a hole and then you….

Jack: You throw the crabby Mommies in the hole?

Jason: [Starts laughing under his breath, looking at me with a face that says “Isn’t our son so cute?”]

Me: This is just perfect. Way to go father of the year. This will be a great thing for him to tell his friends at school.

Jack: Do we just kick the crabby Mommies in the hole and cover them up? [giggling – waiting to see if his Dad laughs too]

Jason: [laughing but trying not to but he sucks at it and Jack hears his laughter]

Jack: We do! We just knock the mommies in the hole and bury them all up!

Me: [shooting razors out my eyes at my husband, the jackass.]

Jack: That is funny…a hole with crabby Mommies all buried up….(and on and on he goes)

Me: Really? You are not going to stop this?

Jason: [still laughing] I was just teasing Jack. We don’t bury crabby Mommies in holes. Mommies are special.

Me: That was convincing.

We turn into the Cold Stone Creamery and as we order the boys treats, I am going around and around in my head with myself on why I DO NOT need ice cream. Jason orders some healthy-ish fruit flavored ice-cream like Peach or Strawberry (who in the hell orders plain Strawberry ice-cream at a place like Cold Stone Creamery? Freaking weirdo.) When I shoot him a look that says I want to kill him for taking us here he simply tells me not to order any if I am so worried about it. Like that would ever happen – me go to an ice-cream shop and not eat the ice cream. That is just idiotic and I am not strong enough to walk out of this sweet, waffle-cone smelling establishment without some.

So I order Cake Batter (the sugar-free, light variety tasted horrible, I tried it) but then told the girl preparing it to go easy on the Heath bars and light on the caramel. I feel ridiculous saying it, but I do anyway. Jason looks my way after hearing my request and laughs. I shoot him a look like I want him to drop dead. Oh yeah, and I know just the spot to put diet-destroying Daddies.

A Feeling of Hurt

Feelings get hurt. It is inevitable and still the hurt is just the same, just as raw. It never ceases to amaze me that the people who get their feelings hurt the easiest and most often are generally the same people who do the majority of the hurting to others. They walk around not caring about much more than themselves most of the time, but when something doesn’t go their way, the world is supposed to come to a screeching halt and we are all supposed to do whatever we can as to make them feel better.

There always seems to be an excuse for these people and their behavior. They are too busy or have things more difficult to deal with than the rest of us. Or, we just don’t know all that they have going on in their busy, stressful lives, as if it is fair to compare one persons life struggles to another. As if there is any good excuse for hurting someone’s feelings knowingly. For some reason, these people, and the people enabling them, think that this behavior is okay. That it can be made okay. That it is acceptable. That it is forgivable.

As if the reasons excuses for the hurtful behavior can be made to seem okay.

They are mistaken. Some things are not easily forgiven or forgotten. Some hurt feelings just don’t feel better with time. Sometimes there are not enough I’m sorrys in the whole wide world to make things better. There is always a bruise or scar to remember by.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me why you did what you did, just that you did it knowingly and unapologetically. If I were you, I would be ashamed.

Even apologies that come later, much later and much, much too late, can’t erase the pain. Sometimes words alone can’t undo a wrong. Your behavior is still, always, louder than your apology.

Just like all memories, this one will be remembered. There will be a time when you need someone. When you want someone to be there for you. When you will have something really important you want people to be happy about, to share in. When your feelings get hurt. It will be unfortunate, and you will look at me badly, because I won’t be there.

I will not forget this time, along with all the others, and that wound will be fresh all over again. I will not worry about your feelings. This time, unlike all of the others, I will not worry more about yours than mine.

The Things We Need

I am sure you have been asked, or at least discussed in some context, the things you couldn’t live without. There is the old question if your house is on fire and you can only take three things, what are you taking? I think it is easy to feel like you never have enough. There is always something more to want or need. It could be a person, a thing, or even just an experience, but there is still, always, something to want.

I have never been the best at differentiating needs from wants. I remember my parents trying to teach me this lesson as a teenager when I swore I needed the newest brand name clothes or money for a night out with friends. They kept reminding me those were things I wanted, not needed. I obviously thought they were morons because when you are a teenager those are needs. Must-have, cannot live without kind of things.

Now I am older and usually wiser although I have been known to need things (like clothes, shoes, make-up, house d├ęcor) on more than one occasion that my husband did not feel was needed. Then there is that trip to Vegas I just booked, it was necessary, I swear. Totally needed.

So back to these things you can’t live without, or at least we believe in our hearts we can’t, but truth be told, we would live. People go on living without things they never thought they could be without all the time. It sucks, but it is what we do. Live.

Talking about the people you couldn’t live without is easy. The husbands, kids, parents, family and friends, but what about the things? The things that you take for granted everyday. The items, big or small, that you swear you couldn’t live without. Or at least you would be pretty miserable if you had to live without them.

These are the things I would not want to live without (in no particular order):

1. My Blanket. Yes, I am 33 and I sleep with a blankie, I call him Nortie. He (yes, I refer to my blanket as a he, so what) is comforting to me and I don’t sleep anywhere without him. He was with me when I gave birth to both kids and he always rides shotgun with me on road trips or is stored safely in my carry-on bag when flying. Did you really think someone who has a blankie would risk the plane crashing without it, come on now.

2. Photos. I think everyone would say this one, well, because it makes sense. They are part of my memories and they tell so many stories.

3. My Journals of Writing. Not because it is great writing, but because they are my stories. Me from years and years ago and me from today.

4. Mt.Dew. Not the diet variety either. I know, I know it is horrible for me. The way I see it, I don’t smoke or use drugs and I hardly drink. One Mt.Dew a day is my thing. 170 calories of pure love.

5. My Wedding Band & Engagement Ring. For starters, they are gorgeous. I also waited six years to get engaged and feel like it is kinda a prize for that wait. It also doesn’t hurt that the love of my life gave them to me.

6. My iPhone. Because DUH – it is the greatest thing. Ever.

7. Chap Stick. A life with dry, chapped lips is just not a life I want to live.

8. My bed. It is better than any other bed, anywhere. I love my bed.

9. Books. Good books make me happy and are inspiring.

10. Football. Sundays at my house are glorious and loud and there are snacks. No better way to spend a fall day…

These may be just things…but I like some of these things way more than some people I know. They are important, necessary, things.

The Three Amigos

A few weeks ago I sent an email to a friend I haven’t spoken to in months. Well, she is really way more than just any friend, she was one of my college roommates and we lived together for three years (although we were friends since my Freshman year.) I had been thinking about her a ton and felt horrible that we hadn’t talked in so long, that I had no idea how she was or her daughter, her life. I was sad I was missing out on her. Since taking the time to make an uninterrupted phone call usually involves sedating my kids or relocating to another state, I figured email would work. It was better than nothing. So I wrote her a long note asking her a million questions and filling her in on my life changes from the past months. I hit send and waited for her reply.

It was only a few short minutes later when I heard the familiar ding of my cell phone telling me I had a text message. The text message was from my friend and all it said was, “Hi, How are you?” I thought it was kinda strange since I did just email her my entire life story from the past 9 months so she already knew how I was. I wrote back and asked her if she received my email and her response was, “No, haven’t checked it in a few days. Is everything okay?”

At this I got chicken skin, you know goose bumps that are so big you look like a naked chicken. Yes, those. Because seriously is it not the craziest thing ever that the day I decide to send an email to her, after months and months of not speaking, she sends me a text message moments after I send it. It is super freaky, and I love it.

I love that two of my dearest friends (my old roommates) and I have that kind of friendship. The kind that pretty much withstands anything. We have been through it all and living with them was one of the best parts of college for me. There were the long talks in the kitchen (the place we always went to when we needed to talk), the late nights, the even later drunken nights, the boyfriends, the break-ups and of course, the hookups. There were parties and vacations and then even later weddings and babies. We could help each other heal our broken hearts, remind each other why that guy was really not the one and make finding the "real" one a whole lotta fun. There were fights and hurt feelings but our apologies were sincere and making up was easy. When I think back on those years, they (the three of us) are one of my biggest memories.

It is sad that we live far apart and don’t talk nearly enough. There are times when I would give anything to be back in that little apartment kitchen talking to them, laughing with them, crying with them. Now there are husbands and kids and jobs and life….grown-up life, not easy, laid-back college life. It is sometimes impossible to catch up in the ways we would like. But I know that no matter how many weeks, or months or years go by, I could call them and start talking and they would understand every word I was saying. They know me that well, just as I know them. Some change, like time or distance, just doesn’t matter. There are some friendships that are just meant to be. We, us three, are that kind of friends.


A Million Little Pieces

I feel like I am made up of a million little pieces. They all want to find a good place to fit in. As if my time is the most desired of real estate. There are bigger pieces than others, of course. The big ones always beat the smaller ones, well, because that is life. Survival of the fittest.

I always try to stack them all up, these pieces. Make them fit so everyone gets a turn or feels loved – paid attention to. I generally start with the biggest pieces first because they are easiest to pile on to. Just like a child stacking blocks, I know the bigger ones make a good foundation on which to build. As if my life is as simple as building a Lego tower. Except we all know Legos are not simple. There are rules and directions and thought that needs to be put into it. It is a work in progress. Always building, changing, knocking over and starting again.

I feel so accomplished when I can stack them all. When I can make them fit. This is not generally the case. Most times, somewhere in the middle of the stacking and strategical planning, one falls. That one piece falling can send my entire tower tumbling down. I have no choice but to pick up the pieces and start over, again. Stacking one by one on top of the other, praying I can find a way to make them all fit. Make them all happy. It always seems as if there is a middle piece feeling squeezed too tight in the middle – not getting enough of what it needs.

It’s as if these million little pieces control me instead of me them. They have me trained that I need to find the time to make it all work. They all feel as though they are most important and sometimes, there just isn’t enough time or room for them all.  I run out of time and am so tired, so very, very tired. I try and choose the most important pieces at that given moment, but surely that will hurt another’s feelings or mean something is not getting done. Because truth be told, a million pieces is a lot to fit in and sometimes there is never enough time to fit them. To stack them without them falling – because starting over is sometimes more than I can handle.

I will continue to stack and sort. To try and prioritize which pieces go where (dinner with kids over laundry, relaxing with husband over dishes, grocery shopping over cleaning, exercising over sleep and work over everything else.) I will build – and keep building. I will watch my pieces, stacked so carefully, wobble and weave some days but gather the strength to hold their own. I will then watch them as they crumble and fall other days. All I can do is try again, and keep trying, hoping I will find the time and energy to pick them up and stack again. This time making them all fit.