Category: Motherhood

I Choose My Family.

This week, May 15-21,  is National Prevention Week.
That means it is time for SAMHSA’s annual “I Choose” project.
This photo represents my ‘why’.

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I got sober because I wanted to live.
I have stayed sober because I have learned that sobriety offers so much more than sobriety.

I continue to choose sobriety every day because my children deserve to experience consistency.
They deserve stability and they deserve to feel a level of comfort that makes them feel safe & secure.

Choosing sobriety has made me a more present, interactive, attentive, mama and to me there is nothing more important than showing my children how valuable, and awesome, and loved they are.
And someday I think that they will fully grasp the depths of my love for them and their beautiful spirits, and the joy that they bring to my life every single day, even on the more tough, unorganized, and messy days.

Sobriety has given me the opportunity to absorb my life and to remember moments like that one in the photo, and all of the other memories that I am making with my husband and our family.
I remember all of the tears, the smiles, the silly times, laughing until we cry, every nerf war, the afternoons spent running around, every grocery store trip, the bumps, scrapes, and wrestlemania bruises, and everything in between.

This is the most important gift that my sobriety has given to me.

Grace is an amazing thing.

Prevention Plans

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I talk a lot about the difficulties relating to my addiction, recovery, being an ACoA, and also being a recovering codependent and enabler.

As the years have gone by, and as my family has grown,
my personal recovery focus has shifted from focusing solely on myself,
to me taking care of myself so that I can stay healthy for my husband & three boys.

It’s important to me that I talk openly with my children about drugs and alcohol.
(For obvious reasons)
It is also important to me that we aren’t overly obsessive about it, or speak out of a need to control or from a place of fear. I am not a fan of dictatorship or fear mongering. I simply want to make sure that our son has accurate information.

This has been especially true with our oldest son who is 13 1/2. It is prime time for young people.
So we really started having these important, transparent conversations around the time he entered 7th grade.

I always aim to speak to him from my personal experiences.

I really try to remind myself what maybe could have helped me to make better or different decisions as a young person, and have tried to use that as a starting point.

I think it is important to have a plan or strategy in mind when it comes to teaching prevention to our children.
*We all have different ways that we raise our kiddos, and our families are all so different.
I vote that you do your own research, and come up with a little something that aligns with your family’s beliefs and what works for your child and their personality.

Here are some things that we use as prevention tools: 

1. Pray for him, and with him. 
I pray for him all of the time. That he be courageous and wise, even if he feels pressured. That he understand that is what courage is, it is doing something that looks and feels like it is too hard for you to do, but doing it anyway. It takes courage to walk against the influx of certain peers.
I pray with him, and we ask that he always seek the Lord for strength, and for reminders that he is made uniquely for a special purpose, that he remain steadfast in knowing the truth of what is right and what is wrong, even if it gets really really hard to tell the difference sometimes. You can always feel the difference and its important to listen to that still small voice.

2. Arm him. 
We arm him with information. Two key pieces of information, actually.
We don’t flood him or lecture him, but when he asks a question, we answer. When there are opportunities to use teachable moments, we use them. When armed with indisputable information, it can feel empowering.

*So first, we always remind him that this isn’t about rules and things he isn’t allowed to do. It is about his health, his body, his mind and his future. We hit hard on this being his life, and these are his choices, and he is in control of which road he takes. Drugs and alcohol change you. They end up taking control and he has definitely seen first hand what it can do to a person physically and mentally.
*Second we hit really hard on this fact:
-Drug abuse is not a ‘phase’ 
-It is not something that you ‘try’ 
-It is NOT something ‘everyone does at least once’ or ‘experiments’ with just for fun.

These are things parents tend to tell themselves sometimes when they are blindsided by full blown addiction, or what other young people tell other young people to ease them into using recreationally.
That’s all bs. The truth is, not everyone ‘experiments.’
(Not to mention that IF addiction were to be infallibly, scientifically proven to have a specific predisposed gene, playing around with it or experimentation sound just as ridiculous as it actually is.)

3. Listen to him.
We try to listen about the small things, and the big things and the in between.  We want him to know that we care, we want to hear about his day if he is willing to talk about it. Even if that means I am hearing about girls, lunch, P.E, etc.
I try not to pry about the non-academic topics- but definitely probe when he casually mentions things that I think we could talk about for a couple of minutes.
I have heard the craziest stories. As early as his first bus ride to middle school I have been hearing bits and pieces of overheard conversations about sex, alcohol and marijuana. The questions that I had been anticipating started rolling in faster than I was ready for even after all of my mental preparation and planning.

I guess my point here is that I feel like his voice is important, but more importantly, I want him to know and feel like his voice matters. 

Disclaimer: 
I am a person who had a scholarship to a junior college. I got kicked out of my house my senior year.
and dropped out 8 or 9 weeks in, after ordering my senior class ring, and my cap and gown.
I KNOW THAT PARENTS HAVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF CONTROL OVER THEIR CHILDREN.
Believe me.
Looking back, no one could have talked me out of dropping out, moving into my boyfriends basement, and getting fired from my long-term job for stealing money to pay for cocaine. I was living the life that I chose to live at that time.
This post isn’t my personal proclamation of my superior parenting skills, or a statement to my own parents.
I truly believe that we do what we think is best at any given time as a parent or caregiver, and when we know better, we do actually do better-

and as always, hindsight is seems to be a better teacher than foresight.

Of course, I am aware that there are no guarantee’s that my prevention approaches will deter our son.
Obviously, I will not be with him to help him make important decisions each time he is faced with a difficult predicament.

I feel like that what we CAN do is aim to do our best not to focus on CONTROL,
but to focus on LOVE, SUPPORT, TRUST and INFORMATION/FACTS.

The rest is up to him.

I hope this helps someone!

Appreciating Diversity.

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How can things like vacuuming cracker crumbs two billion times a day, accidentally stepping on squishified bananas, playing peek-a-boo and throwing cakes in the pan periodically throughout the day, while the faint sound of random nursery rhymes loop in the background from deep inside of the toy box from a toy that just won’t die-
describe me, living my dream?

How or why would one look forward a lukewarm, end-of-a-long day bath where you will be cramming your head at an angle to fit underneath the hot-wheels track suctioned to the tiles  as it drips freezing cold water onto your shoulder, as you lay there gazing up at all of the places that you must have missed with your new scrubby tool while you were cleaning the previous day? (Not to mention the colorful plastic toys floating around your face.)

How can I stay here all day, and why would I look forward to any of that?

I guess we could assume that I must just be an uneducated, government sucking, lazy, woman. 

Or, it could be that years ago, my husband and I seriously discussed whether or not my desire to stay at home with the kids was something we could make happen.
It could be that we have chosen to compromise on some things for this to be plausible.
It could be that this ‘job’ completes me and meets my personal needs. I feel accomplished and fulfilled.
My addiction was allowed to steal too many memories; I had missed so many milestones already.
It could be that for me, my sobriety changed the course of my future, that included my goals, desires, plans.
It could be that my definition of personal success for myself, is exactly what I am where I am right now.

It could be that you just don’t know.
and it could be that it just shouldn’t matter to you.

To the working mommy, there are some things that I want you to know.
I respect you. Why you choose to work or why you have to work is really none of my business.
Frankly, I don’t care that you work outside of the home.

It makes no difference to me whatsoever.

It could be that when you casually mention that you work outside of your home,  I don’t have any negative or catty things floating around in my head.
It could be that I choose not to categorize you.
It could just be that none of that defines your whole person.
It could be I choose to believe that you are a perfectly imperfect, fantastic mom.

I think we could all stand to take our own opinions and assumptions about this particular nitpicky battle a little bit less seriously.

My family operates in a way that works for us and our situation and this is what we feel like we are suppose to be doing. I am living out my journey in the way that is the best for me, and for our family.

-and you are doing the same.

We might just have a lot more in common than you might think.

🙂

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help to support other mom’s
please click here. 

Hot Mess, Party of One.

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October and November were uncharacteristically difficult for me.
Like really crappy.

I mean we all have stress, and we all have our fair share of ‘lifey’ kinds of things that are always happening. Hell I know and have been praying for some families who are really struggling with some serious things right now.

But I also know that we *all* have days that we just want to be alone or need to be alone, for whatever reason.

Sometimes there is just too much stuff to try and attempt to balance, even if it is not life-threatening or mountain-moving kind of stuff…

Obviously, I am not one to give up and just quit.
But I have finally come to the realization that I am not, in fact, She-Ra, Princess of Power.
And guess what? That’s okay.

I accept that I am just a person who can only handle so much but I still struggle with reaching out and talking to people when I am having a tough time.

I would be one-hundred-million percent more comfortable walking into a CR meeting and sharing my troubles or current situation(s) than I would picking up a phone and calling a friend.

Believe it or not, I never (like, ever) share a lot of personal things with anyone in my ‘real’ life
(and by real I mean people who I don’t see face to face; aka, not cyber friends) with the exception of my husband.

Which is sort of odd…
(odd because I spent years openly sharing my character defaults with random strangers, or odd because I air most of my past and present personal failures and mistakes on a public blog kind of odd)…..

But some of this is because I like to write, journal, and reflect on things alone.
Some of it is that my life has been in shambles before; at one point completely void & shredded.
I always seem to feel a need to remind myself that ‘this is not ‘shambles’ and to suck it up.
A little bit of it is that I tend to not want to burden anyone or bother anyone, or make it seem like I am complaining -especially when I have a truck load of blessings in my life.
And then a lot of it is that in my experience, it can sometimes feel that many people actually enjoy hearing your weaknesses or when you are barely keeping your head above water.
Lastly, a huge chunk of it is because there are times that I could share my heart until it was purged of all of the stressors or things weighing heavily on my thoughts and still not felt any real peace or relief.
I feel that there are just some things that only God can pull you through and the rest is unnecessary background noise.

A tinge of postpartum has lingered and surrounded my head for a while.
I have felt like it wasn’t ever going to ease up. I say a tinge because on a scale of one to ten, I was probably pushing five, but it still felt like five gazillion pounds.
(I don’t mean to insult anyone who has experienced severe postpartum by saying I have experienced a ‘tinge’…like that’s even close to medical terminology/diagnosis)

but what I experienced this time around after baby number three, has just been different from my other experiences. I have really just felt ‘off’ and super teary, and very sensitive and then very void at other times.

So, add that in the normal day-to-day AND things like:
-Our family dynamic changing and trying to rearrange what an average day looks like around here (tentatively, of course)
-My oldest son having issues with a particular (bullyish) kind of situation at school,
-Middle son starting a brand new sport
-My husband being out-of-town or working every weekend in October,
-Personal familial boundaries being rocked at their comfortable core by life sucking relative situations (probate/estate kind of matters)

I just started to feel suffocated.

I literally stopped in the middle of my work out about a month ago to pour out old wine that I knew was in the basement refrigerator.
I went the safe route only because old nasty garage freezer kept catching my eye. In my experience if an inanimate object ‘catches your eye’ …that is called a red flag.

Anyway I knew. I knew while I was pouring out the wine that I needed to re-center. I needed to un-plug, and I needed to consider that my mental state wasn’t picking back up where I left of before my pregnancy began.

I have learned that I have to allow myself to hit the reset button; unapologetically.

I know that it is okay to take some time away from whatever (for me it was social media)
to refocus on my core priorities, and essentially, get my sh*t back together.

I have to step back and remind myself of how big our God really is.

I have to remind myself that certain people in my family have to be watched carefully. They possess the ability, if power is given, to suck the positivity right out of my soul.
And also, to remind myself which responsibilities are mine, and which ones are not.

I have decided that I am going to force myself to let people in. Well at least one person. I suppose periodic updates are in order, so I will have to get back to you on that one.

Reflecting on why my self-care regimen is so important to me and my vitality feels good. I am reminded that I have to always continue to do what is best for me and what makes the most sense for my person, and obviously, my sobriety.

Things are coming back around and I am finally feeling like a ‘me’ that I recognize again.
The rest of the things will work themselves out eventually, all things do. I am going to do my best not to over-think every possible outcome and allow things to just- be.

Looking forward to spending our holiday break together eating good things, hanging out and making memories as we celebrate Jesus’ birth and Max’s very first Christmas holiday.

Thank you for reading, friends.

What If.

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When we feel accepted, embraced, and loved, regardless of our imperfections-
we feel more secure by default.
We feel welcome.

When we feel like we aren’t being judged, we tend to feel a little bit more comfortable too.
We learn that it’s okay to embrace and love the absolute  -ishh out of ourselves.

These are all just common side-effect for any human who feels like they truly belong somewhere.

…And shouldn’t all mom’s feel like they belong?

This is what making a #Mommitment is all about, really.
It is simply deciding that all moms belong.
*Not just some moms.
*Not we love certain like-minded moms, and tirelessly ostracize the others.
*Not we laugh with these moms we like, while we laugh at those moms together.
*Not we help everyone, except the moms who are doing the mom thing differently that we are.

Or maybe it’s deciding that there isn’t really a
 there to belong to in the first place.
We all just…. belong.

Maybe it’s us choosing to abandon this exclusive ‘only women who do things like I do are deserving of my love and respect’ mentality behind.

Momming is hard work.
We are all going day-to-day, one day at a time.
Our circumstances are all vastly different.
We live in different countries, climates, and cultures.

-What if we didn’t actually feel the stares, hear the gossip, or witness the judging snarly stuff?
-What if we simply decided that we weren’t partaking any more?
Not one dirty look.
Not one confused, judgy stare.
Not one piece of gossip repeated.

-What if we joined forces; smashing together all of the knowledge, love, warmth, humor, and awesomeness that a woman brings to the table- and we just supported one another?

-What if we were kind, and respectful of other lady humans?

-What if we all decided that enough is …enough?

-What if we all made a #Mommitment ?

A mommy revolution would happen friends.
Change would happen.

It has already begun. 🙂
Come and be a part of this!

Check out this petition.
Or you can follow #Mommitment on the Twitter, or on Facebook.

 

Chipping Away at Bitchdom.

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So a few days ago we were at the park.

I looked over my shoulder when I heard a family approaching. One mama and five energetic kiddos.
The smallest girl, who couldn’t have been older than 7 years old, was dragging an infant around the park. Guessing baby was around 6 months old.

I watched as this petite little girl climbed up the slide, down the slide, up the stairs, then down the slide, I watched her run back and forth from the swings and back to the slide -with this baby in her arms.

One-handed baby holding…. like a boss.

So of course, holding my own baby at the time-

I am cringing hard with a case of well intentioned ‘what-ifs’.
I’m totally feeling sketchy and a tiny bit helicoptery (mixed with some nausea).

My reaction:
I needed (needed) to look for the mom.
I had to shoot her the ‘omg what is wrong with you’ look-
Really.
She needed to know that I was concerned.

But instead I stopped.
I intentionally stopped my bitchdom before it got out of hand.
(Whoohoo)

I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I made a personal commitment to be a person who doesn’t jump the gun, judging another mother for any reason.

I reminded myself that I am committed to be nice to other moms.

Moms who I don’t know, moms who I am different from, and moms who I can love on anyway, regardless.

I chose to confidently believe in that other mom and her choices.
-and move on.
Her baby, her choices…
and frankly, they are none of my business.

So I found mom’s eyes, and I made a point to make eye contact.
and then I smiled.

That’s it.

In case you are wondering, the baby lived through the ordeal.  😉

This process is going to be like all other life lessons that I have experienced.
It is going to take time to reteach myself.
It is going to be different, but to be perfectly honest, it just feels better.

It feels good to be less judgy and catty.
I don’t want to be a woman who makes another woman feel ashamed or less than. I just don’t.

So, this is just me trying to plug this mommitment thing into my daily life.
I like it.

Thank you mom-movement.

If you are interested in learning how you too, can become part of this awesome group of women who are #Mommitted – here are the links. It is free. Simple. Easy-peasy. (and worth it).

http://mommitment.org/
https://www.facebook.com/Mommitment?fref=ts

 

Ease Up.

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When I committed to the non-judging of other moms, I meant it.
I just think I might have to cut myself a little bit of slack too. Definitely not conceptually new for me personally, but certainly something mommitment has me thinking about more regularly.

So I might be a perfectionist when it comes to the basis of how I judge my OWN momming skills.
Having an addict as a mother has had a huge impact on the kind of mom that I strive to be to my kids. I have spent the last 13 years as the type of mom who places a high level of importance on consistency. I have always equated being ‘better’ than, as having higher standards for myself and for my own kids. I know better, so I try to do better.

So this means that most of my internal dialogue could (possibly, maybe) sound like that of a perfectionist…

Which means the self-judging, self-critiquing, kind of inner-dialogue that I allow to go on (but actively combat), is pretty hardcore stuff.

This could be because…no one is perfect.
So, it’s like a battle I’ll never win, I know it, but I try anyway because I am resilient.
Or stubborn…or a slow learner… or all of that…

But the bottom line is..
I am truly my own. worst. critic.

I don’t need ya judgment, because I have my own, and it’s more than enough.

One slip up, and I guilt myself all the way to my self-created, fictitious, dog-house for awhile.

Yes it’s ridiculous. And I know it is.
(which is why I know I’m not actually crazy..)

So here’s one recent example the ridiculousnessness:

I was hustling around on a Sunday.
Church, cleaning, cooking, 5 month-old-babying, and trying to be an active part of whatever else was going on that day as far as family/fun/spending time together is concerned.
And then, there was the birthday party.
I gathered up boy #2’s swim stuff.
Trunks, floaties, goggles, flip flops, gift, card, and directions for daddy and him to drive to the party.
Fun times for 6-year-olds, indeed.

Ten minutes after they left, and were too close to the party, and too far away from home…
I remembered the Ninja Turtle Beach towel.

The one I forgot to send with them.
The one in the bathroom, in the stack with the other beach towels.
(insert silent panicking here)

The one that wasn’t with boy #2.
The one that was going to save said boy from dying of embarrassment when he showed up without a licensed character towel.
The one he had to have with him because everyone else would have theirs and he wouldn’t have his and he would feel left out, or different, or less than or….
Whatever would he do?

I proceeded to beat myself to a slow death before my brain actually imploded.

Next, I sent a sad emoji text to the husband and made sure I added in that I was a terrible mom.
How in the world could I have forgotten the towel when they were going to an indoor swim party?

and then, ten minutes later I allowed my logic to creep back into my emotionally charged, unraveling, head
and allowed myself to consider the very real possibility that boy #2 probably won’t care…at all.

Not one bit.

He won’t be mortified.
He will roll with it and move on.
He probably won’t even notice, and ultimately, he’ll have a blast with his besties -anyway.

The next text that I sent (around 15 minutes later) said –
“Meh, he’ll live. Have a good time!”

and guess what. I sent him.
He was on-time. He had a gift.
He was clean, fed, healthy, and happy.

I will just call it an overall momming win.

So why. Why is my first inclination to judge and bash myself over something so seemingly small and silly? Really? I picked myself apart over a towel.

No. I picked myself apart for making a mistake.

The truth is…
In no way does my forgetting a towel define or reflect what kind of mom I am as a whole.

It just doesn’t. Unless I believe it does, and I don’t.

So the next time you forget the Ninja Turtle towel,
remind yourself that you don’t always have to be perfect.

It’s great to be as consistent as you can be. It is wonderful to have high standards for yourself, and to have goals, to strive to be better, and to not make excuses.

On the other hand, it is great to remember that we aren’t perfect people.
We all fall short, we all make mistakes, we slip up, we forget.
We can’t allow our mistakes to define who we are, because they aren’t the who of what makes us who we are.

Unless you allow them to.
And you shouldn’t.

#Mommitment

My #Mommitment Changed Everything.

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I took a pledge. I made a commitment.
I am a part of a movement.
A mom-movement dedicated to kindness and non-judging of other moms..
 known online as #Mommitment. 

Since discovering the original article on Twitter a few months ago
(you can read that here: http://www.nextlifenokids.com/2015/01/tired-of-mom-wars-why-im-making.html) and making my own personal pledge, I have found that nothing and everything has changed.

The nothing is that my day-to-day life is exactly the same.
The everything is that I am much more aware and intentional about two things: 

1. The judging or squashing of mommies into my pre-conceived ready-made boxes. 
I have thrown those boxes out.
I have been doing my best to give other moms the same kind of love and acceptance that I desire.

This can be as simple as a smile in the grocery store directed at a mom whose 3-year old is flailing around on the aisle floor, instead of shaking my head in disappointment over her obvious lack of control over her strong-willed child…….

Or maybe the more complicated and annoying situations like I found myself in on Sunday. Stuck on a plane sitting directly in front of the one obnoxious, tired, toddler on board.
Lucky me.
The high-pitched, banshee boy (who was also adorable btw)
kicked and poked the back of my seat for two plus hours.
He managed to whine and complain about his particular seat location, and needed to potty every time the seat-belt sign lit up.

I could hear his mom trying every trick and parenting technique (re-directing, singing songs, coloring, games, bribery, jokes, etc.) in the book. I heard the grinding of dad’s teeth through his disciplinary attempts.. (on Father’s Day).
As a mom, I could empathize with mom, and knew there was a strong possibility that she was feeling a little bit embarrassed and frustrated.

Instead of commenting under my breath, or complaining about how terrible he was or how much better his mother could have handled the situation(s) I played hide and seek with the kid. My goal was to distract. It worked for a few minutes.
Eventually, something else set him off all over again, but hopefully this mom could feel that at least one person on the plane that morning wasn’t judging her.

Sometimes that helps more than we realize.

2.  I refuse to allow myself to shrink internally when it is obvious that I am being judged. 
The moments that I can actually feel the stares of the eyes of those who are begrudgingly trying to do the math to figure out how old I must have been to have a 13 year old,

or those strangers who snarl when they see I am dragging around three young people with (gasp)
………no wedding ring on!?!?
(I have been having allergic reactions to my wedding ring)….

Or when I whip out my Enfamil in public to feed my hungry infant….
(I tried my best to breastfeed a starving boy with a lip tie for three long months)

There are always going to be those select few who seem to enjoy letting it be known that their disapproval is VERY important. We should absorb their negativity and allow it to saturate our beings.
(not.)

I have realized that as with anything in my life, I have to be intentional if I want to get things done and keep that peace that I value so much in my world.

My relationship with the Lord has to be intentionally kept and taken care of in order to grow, my relationship with my husband and the quality of our marriage depends on intentionality, my reactions and interactions with my children, and especially my personal recovery. Its growth depends on me being mindful and intentional.

Same thing with this.

Yes it would certainly be like an added bonus to catch a smile instead of a floor to ceiling glare down..but I personally don’t have anything to prove to anyone.
It is not their job to know the ‘real’ story behind the surface.
This is about my personal peace. It is MINE.
and it is my job to keep it.

This #Mommitment thing has really helped me.

Not only have I been able to connect with a large group of diverse and equally loving mommies, I have learned to respect differences more.
I want other moms to feel confident in who they are and to feel like they have people in their corner who are different, but who understand.

I am committed to continuing being intentional in my interactions with other moms, and in brushing off the judgment of others.

If you want to learn more about this, check out this page:
All you have to do is ‘like’ it and you can be a part of this awesomeness.
(Quiet and discreetly if you choose!)
https://www.facebook.com/Mommitment?fref=ts

 

 

Don’t Remember That Either, Honey.

going-on-a-guilt-tripI scroll through my Twitter feed and I cannot even tell you how much I love seeing families reunited, mother’s and father’s regaining visitation or custody rights, or parents reconnecting and celebrating with their children after a period of being estranged.

It is such a joyful thing to see. That is huge people! Huge!
Nothing feels quite as good as setting a good example for your children.

Many times when a pat on the back or congratulations are due in these situations, the compliments are brushed off. Guilt and shame won’t allow these incredible survivors to accept the words and simply enjoy the new things that are happening as they happen, for what they are.

My oldest is almost 13 now.
Out of my three boys, he is the only one who remembers me as ‘old’ mommy.

Obviously I had already known that I had missed a large chunk (3 years)
of kid #1’s life.

Admittedly so.

I had accepted that years ago. By the time he started Kindergarten, I was in Recovery.
I thanked God that I had started getting my shi* together in time for him to start school.

It wasn’t really until we had our second son that I had to face some crappy truths, face to face with my oldest child.

I have always confronted issues like sex, drug use or abuse, or bullying head on with him.
In our home it is no holds barred, we talk it out like champs. It is just our way. I really don’t want any of our boys to be afraid to come to us about any ’embarrassing’ or controversial issue. Us first, before friends is how I prefer it to be. Think for yourself, but ask questions and educate your growing and impressionable brain. I give them the truth or facts that support whatever he may be inquiring about.

But when it comes to my oldest and him asking questions like:

Don’t you remember my gold-fish?
(Wait a second…there was a gold-fish?)
Did I come into your room too when there was a thunderstorm?
(I wouldn’t know I was probably on the bathroom floor..)
Did I potty train easily too mom?
(I don’t know. I basically left you with your aunt that year.)
What was I for my second Halloween, did I like trick-or-treating?
(I don’t remember. I got you dressed, took you to grandma’s and went to a party.)
Did I like my cake on my first birthday?
(I was probably outside smoking something during that particular portion of the party, because I cannot recall a cake being present.)

I clam up. I feel physically ill sometimes. I white lie the crap out of these types of questions. Judge me if you want, but I don’t think he is quite ready to distinguish my fault vs. his. (and none of it was his).

The truth is, I don’t recall any of it and I am not emotionally connected to any of it.
I can recall bits and pieces of it because of the photos that I have, but really- not like I would now.
I get years mixed and jumbled, or remember some of those times but still couldn’t piece together the when of any of it.

Currently I have been sober 8.2 of his 12.9 years on the planet.

Yes I have moments that my mom-guilt could consume me and swallow me whole, but I quickly shake that off.  I have to.

Here’s what I quickly remind myself of when my mom-guilt tries to creep in: 

*God wiped my slate clean and allowed me a second chance at this life living thing.
I cannot squander it all away wallowing in my own guilt and shame. That is selfish.
I can only hope that one day son #1 will be able to recognize the sincerity in my eyes and in my voice when I tell him the truth. Not the watered truth.

*We can’t change the past, we can only build the future. Each day that we focus on is one more day further away from those days that make me feel so guilty. Each new memory is one more stacked on top of the old ones. Pushing out the old, adding in the new.

*I can only pray that he see’s how hard I have worked to give him a balanced, healthy, happy, fun, memorable childhood- focused on God and loving him to smithereens. I hope that he can see that I apologize to him every time I mess up, and that I have worked hard alongside daddy to help to guide him into an honest, Jesus loving, confident young man that he has become.

*Lastly, as an adult child of an addict I can tell you this.
My child has almost 9 years with me out of his 12.
I am 31 and have yet to meet my mother sober. I know with certainty that ANY clean time is better than NO clean time.

To me, this is just a classic case of when you know better- do better.

We can only learn for ourselves and do better than what we were taught, what we once knew as truth, and what our own parents were able to do with what they knew at the time.

My parents did the best that they could with what they knew at the time and what they had.

Using this logic, I would have to say that I am doing my very best to break the cycle.

I will choose not to give my addiction power over an area of my life. I am not willing to share any longer, ever again, for any amount of time.
We can all choose how we respond to guilt.

So if you are a parent in Recovery- don’t beat yourself up for the time lost. 
Focus on today and start right where you are right now.
It is NEVER too late to mend your relationship with your child (ren) . 
Never. 

Happy Mother’s Day

Ribbet collageMother’s Day.

It seems like no matter who you talk to, everyone is either happily & thankfully celebrating,
silently grieving, or a little bit of both.

For me, it may be a little bit of both, but mostly I focus on thankfully celebrating the gift of motherhood.

Of course on one hand,
I grieve for my mother.
She has missed so much of mine and my brother’s life.
She grieves one of her children every Mother’s Day.
She has missed out on the lives of her grandchildren.
I certainly empathize and quietly grieve for her, but not so much for myself, or my loss of her.

On the other hand I know that Mother’s Day isn’t really about me.
For me, it is about our three boys.
It is about reflecting on the gifts I have been given.
God has supplied any need that I ever thought that I had, and has filled all of my voids.
He has placed some pretty brilliant women in my path that have graciously helped me in all of the areas that I fall short in.
For that, I am very thankful.

Many of you are seriously struggling with infertility or are trying to conceive.
Some of you grieve children on Mother’s Day.
I have a few friends who are celebrating adoptions.
So many of you are deeply missing your own mother’s who have passed away.
Many of you are spending the day feeling appreciated and pampered by your loved ones.

This is one holiday that is often met with mixed and heightened emotions.

*Try to remind yourself that it is really a day to show the people who have impacted your life exactly how much you care.

*It is a day to honor the memory of the mom’s and the children who aren’t able to be here with us physically.

*Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate having the opportunity to influence the next generation, in some way, for good.

*It is a day to show your appreciation to those who have taken the time to invest in your life.

*A holiday that we can use to give thanks to God, for allowing us to have the responsibility of influencing and molding little lives.

The best way that we can do that by continuing to invest in people,
by sharing that unique legacy that they left behind with others.

Happy Mother’s Day! 

Psalm 145:4 –
Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.

Psalm 102:18-
Let this be recorded for future generations, so that a people not yet born will praise the LORD.

 

A Mommy Confession #Mommitment

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Mommy confession for today:

I made my son oatmeal for breakfast this morning.

I purposefully made his oatmeal in an empty sour cream container that had previously been washed and used as a small container/bowl etc.

This gave me the option of throwing it away when he was finished eating, instead of washing it.

I am not ashamed. Some mornings, it is just how I feel.

And that’s okay.

It’s the small things.

😉

#Mommitment

Next Life NO Kids I made a #MOMMITMENT to end mom wars 300

A few months back I was having a tough week with the judgy stuff; feeling it laid on pretty thick at the time. Ironically, I also had Facebook friends who were posting about feeling it as well. We were simply feeling ostracized for one reason or another.
I felt compelled to write a post about it that week.
You can read it here if you’d like:
http://discoveringbeautiful.com/youre-a-great-mom/

Like most mom’s, I have experienced my fair share of  pressure and judging eyes of other mommies.
I especially felt this as a young mom of my first boy, and still feel occasional snarkiness now as a 31-year-old mom of three.
(I am not sure it has subsided or lessened as much as I have just learned better ways to disregard the judgy tendencies of other women..)

But in the spirit of staying true to my personality, I will be brutally honest here.

I am absolutely guilty of being that mommy. The one who smiles politely at you while simultaneously picking apart your mommy choices in my head, examining the deets of your child’s finger nail length or crusty lunch face….

Here’s the thing.
As I have gotten older I have noticed something.
Whether we home-birth, have c-sections, use cloth diapers, or disposable. bottle feed or breast feed, wear our babies or push them… we are all unique, powerful, beautiful women who are doing the best that we can.

The truth is, we all leave the house with mismatched socks or dirty faces sometimes.
Sometimes the super-hero costume (my son does this) that is 3 sizes too small…
Is the perrrrfect outfit to go out to run errands in.

Today I am officially pledging to make a #Mommitment.
Not just agreeing with the idea. Not just getting momentarily excited.
I am seriously committing.

I vow to be more empathetic.
I am making a conscious effort to be more appreciative of our differences instead of seeking out fault like there is some reward for it.

I am simply going to be dedicated to playing a part
in the movement to end mom wars. 

It’s time. 

If you want to take a step toward ending mom wars,
you can click the link below, sign the petition, and make your own personal mommitment too:

https://www.change.org/p/moms-make-a-mommitment

You’re a Great Mom.

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If I fall asleep during this post, I guess it won’t get published like I had hoped, because I wanted to share what is on my heart this morning. 

It is 9:05 a.m. and I can barely keep my eyes open.
By all mom standards, it is one of those days.
I am listening for my washer to stop, keeping one ear open for my flu sick tween, and have a loosely made tentative ‘plan’ for my Tuesday that includes making phone calls and other miscellaneous errands.

I am also so grateful to be almost 30 weeks along with our 3rd boy, but I don’t sleep anymore. We are at that point.
Last night, our oldest boy began throwing up at around 3 a.m.
………..Not that I had fallen into REM sleep by then, but it was feeling pretty great to lay down in between trips to the bathroom.

The struggle is real to get my off-centered, gravity-challenged behind out of bed, due to SPD (which is always worse at night)
…..but when I heard the pitiful sounds of someone small in my house getting sick, instinct told me that is exactly where I needed to be.
We have been up and down a half-dozen times since the first round at 3 o’clock, and by 7 it was time to get our 2nd boy fed, dressed and happily on the bus to Kindergarten.

Needless to say, this Tuesday is not unlike many of your very own Tuesday mornings. 
I have a news feed full of tired mommy friends who are also dealing with sleepless nights for one reason or another due to sicknesses, illnesses, diseases, and other random sleep-stealing culprits.

I don’t do this mommy thing any better than any one of my friends.

Some of them work outside of the home, some own their own home-based businesses, some work from home, others don’t work according to the typically accepted definition of ‘working’ – but I think we all do our own thing, with our own children, within the confines of our own family dynamics and we do our best. 

Admittedly, I enjoy reading an occasional witty, crude humored blog post from one of the ever so popular mommy bloggers who so eloquently use their sarcasm and what they call ‘realism’  (which to me translates to negativity most of the time)
to describe many of the scenarios that I described above to help other moms not feel like they have to paint pictures of mommyhood with “butterflies and roses” all of the time,
and encourage women to opt to be more ‘real’ about the ups and downs of being a mom…..

Well,  I am all for ‘real’ okay. 
But I am also for staying positive and grateful, and nice. 

We can’t cultivate a healthy type of thinking or mindset by saturating our news feed with cynical but popular (and funny) mommy blog posts all of the time
…………..or by joining Facebook groups of that are swarming with adultsize, judgmental mean girls.

Here’s what I am feeling like I see way too much of: 
**Moms maliciously critiquing other moms for the most ridiculous (none of their business) things.
(Such as: cloth diapering vs. disposable, daycare vs. other, breastfed vs. bottle fed, binky or no binky, co-sleeping or not, attachment parenting or something else, working outside of the home or staying at home, natural birth vs anything else, adoption vs. fostering………etc. etc. etc.)
**Viral blog posts about motherhood that are funny, but always so negative.

That type of mind-set is certainly not what fuels me, doesn’t help me push through a hard day and is not ‘realistic’ to me.

I am not saying that sheets that have been pottied on or bathroom floors that have remnants of 3 am puke on them are in any way, beautiful.

Or that gaining knowledge, info, advice or wisdom from other (nice) mommies is a crappy thing.

Here’s what I think is ‘real’.
We are moms. Quit complaining. It isn’t always pretty. Things don’t always go as planned, We don’t always look pretty and we don’t need to.
Not all days are what many would consider ‘fun’ but that isn’t what it’s all about in the end anyway.

It is about creating a life with these people who look to you for that love – that love that they somehow know you have to offer unconditionally.

It is an important part of who they have become, and who they will blossom into as young adults. So, in all seriousness everything that we do, whether we are feeling recognized or appreciated at the time, matters a whole helluva lot.

Motherhood is always changing— but what never changes….is that we, women,  were created especially for this mommy role; and that is beautiful all of the time. 

We have the ability to keep pushing on despite unforeseen circumstances, being completely exhausted, being in pain, running on fumes with two-day old greasy hair and no recent sleep that qualifies or that falls into the category of anything considered decent. 

We are capable of so much and have so much love to pour out with no questions asked.

While we should definitely maintain our sense of humor about the less ‘beautiful’ side to the ‘joys’ of motherhood, rolling with the punches…

it is SO important to keep a healthy and positive perspective.
It IS a beautiful thing to be gifted the responsibilities that we have taken on in the form of being a mother, and a wife.

To my mommy friends out there please remember that what you are doing is so important.
We don’t always have to have everything together, everything clean, everything washed, ironed, organized, folded or put in its place…and not all mommy opinions spewed to us by other mom’s are one’s that we are obligated to share in, or one’s that we should take to heart. 

We just need to remember how important we are to our individual family unit.

Keep in mind that I am not writing to shove my views or ‘advice’ down your throat or to make you feel guilty if you don’t smile while you steam mop your kitchen.

I am not some mythical domestic mommy goddess….

I just wanted to remind all of my mommy friends how awesome,  important and capable they are.

So when you look into the mirror, don’t define the kind of mommy that you see by any other standard than what God sets and the one that you were made for. YOUR own family.

 

You CAN.

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Tonight the boys and I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Stuck”.

We knew it would be sad and probably tough to sit through.

The thumbnail showed pictures of tiny, adorable little humans (children) from around the globe, and the short description warned us that the movie would be about the complex dynamics of adoption and the lives that the majority of orphans face.
(Oh’ and the f’d up system that makes it all too difficult and lengthy)

We decided to watch it anyway.

I really think that for our family,
watching documentaries with substance have really served as an aid;
a convenient first world tool….

Which brings a nice balance to our home.

(There is only so much ‘Suite Life on Deck’ & ‘Good Luck Charlie’
one can allow a small brain to absorb)

There is that bitter irony… I can flip on Netflix to teach our boys about poverty, social issues, persecution, injustice, and all other violations of human rights…… because we live in a country with the option to do so.

So. We do.

I want them to see these things.
Not so that they feel sad, but so that they are aware.
Not to callously make them feel guilty (about being wrapped up in fuzzy blankets with bowls full of Cheez-its while they watch these types of movies), but to help them to learn to be content and grateful with what they do have.

I talk with them throughout and most of the time I will pause the movie
(which I hear is annoying) a dozen times to explain how this connects with their lives and their mindsets and what is going through their mind.

(and I am well aware of the problems that we face in our own country. However, tonight I am talking about problems like children having to dig through trash for food, live in dirt huts or share rice out of 5 gallon drums with 75 other orphans under the age of 12)

The tone of our discussions provide a platform for us, as parents.

We answer questions. We do feel good that our little people are inquiring about other little people on the other side of the planet.
They have questions. They want to know. They want to know how people are helping. What they can do to help. Can they pray. Is it really real.
We also bond as a family. We even selfishly utilize this time to let our kiddos know how much they are so loved and valued.

We want them to grow up thinking that they CAN change the world.
I live by this crazy philosophy that we all have some type of gift or talent that we can use for good.

So some will say that us watching about this problem on our flat screen tv in our free country really isn’t helping anyone….

But we feel that if these random family movie nights don’t do anything else,
we can hope that we are challenging our children to think outside of the box,
to think bigger,  and are developing a greater awareness of the world that we live in.

(We also like to cultivate strengths here too and in our house, that would be creativity, humanitarian interest, video games and video games.)

On a serious note, the only thing that we have control over is how we react to things that we don’t have control over.

We can’t control world poverty, or any of the other many global crisis’ that we are all well aware of.  There is no magic cure.

There are only people who can love and invest in other people in the name of love. That’s it.
And we can do our best to teach our young people that they can’t do everything but everyone can do something.  (Hellen Keller Quote)

(Sidenote: I am an imperfect parent who has no idea what they’re doing. I really just talk way too much to my children, and if you asked them- they’d tell you that. I am just a hard-core believer in doing better than yesterday and utilizing available tools and education. Frankly, without tools and education, I would still be a high-school drop out/’drug addict.’  So, there’s that.)

 

 

SAMHSA’s Prevention Project

The “I Choose” project, which began in February 2013,
will continue through National Prevention Week 2014!

This project is an easy way to make a difference, be a positive example, and inspire others.

By participating in the “I Choose” Project, you can help spread the word that our choices make a big difference in our lives, our health, and our future.

I choose my children. I choose to be the one who breaks the generational cycles!
Addiction stops right here.
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Big Life Change.

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I think that the type of feelings that I have been feeling lately could be similar to the ones that people have when they are experiencing “Empty-Nest Syndrome”.
(is that a real thing–an actual syndrome? )
Hmm. I might Google that later.

(Sidenote: If “selfie” has been officially added to our American dictionary, it’s safe to assume that the empty nest thing is something your insurance will cover.)

Moving on.

I have been working pretty hard (after hours) to job search- and prepare my resume.
Do I even have a resume? Not really. Housewife and mommy has created quite the time gap.
I have a few state certification tests to take over the Spring/Summer months, and I finally almost done with my school…..

and think I have finally, (finally) absorbed the crazy notion that both of my children
(who I won’t publicly call ‘babies’)
will be in school next year, and mommy is going to to work an official outside j.o.b.

What is happening to my life?

Roughly 5 years ago, when my husband and I had our first discussion about me quitting my job and staying at home– it was scary, but it was what we really wanted…. it is what I really wanted. It was something that meant a lot to me as a mommy, but also as a woman in recovery who had already missed so much life.

In theory, it would be easy.
But it was a huge life change. Huge.
A huge but perfect life change for our little family.

Being a stay at home mommy has been a gift to me.

Through this one, huge, life- altering decision, I learned so much about my husband’s character as a man, as my partner, as a ‘daddy’  and as a human.
I was met with an overwhelming, supremely supportive response to this change in dynamic from family and friends, and it has grown over the years.

I have had the honor of loving on my kids-all day every day.
I have been able to be here to take wayyyy too many pictures, and document everything.
(I didn’t say organize, I said document)
I am here and I have taken it all in.
I am happily sober -so I can remember it ALL.
(which is pretty nice bonus.)

I know that not all mommies can be home, I know that not all mom’s want to be home, and I know and respect that not all who are home, want to be home.

As a former single working mommy- I did not have this option open to me. I have worked two jobs, night jobs, bar jobs, just to hustle to pay the bills. I so empathize with those of you who truly
(single or not) aren’t getting to live out what you really want to do.

That is just another reason why this experience was so amazing.
I wanted to have the chance to be here at home, and my husband and I were able to work it out.

Yes there were things we chose to live without, but we have made it work.

This experience has affected me as a woman in so many ways.
I learned things about my own capabilities, likes, dislikes, my passions, my limits, strengths, weaknesses and talents that I may not have otherwise discovered.

I feel like I am like a 5- foot- tall Swiss army knife/ninja, multi-tasking wizard of sorts; completely flexible, not afraid to get dirty and feel confident entering in this workforce thing.
(Hmmm. I wonder if I can put that on my resume?)

I really cannot describe how much this experience has changed my heart and how much it means to me.

 

I have tried to teach myself to pick the good out from the uncomfortable.
To view change as opportunity and to use the unknown or the uncomfortable as a chance to learn to trust God and the to trust the process more and more each time life throws inevitable life transitions my way.

Things happen- we either adjust or we don’t.
Seasons in life come and go anyway, regardless of how ready or resistant we are-  it’s happening.

So I am going to take this change.
Although initially, I was shocked, in disbelief and felt a little bit sad-
I am a also rational person.
There is nothing that I can do to halt the age progression of my children.

I have gone back to school for a reason and the only thing left for me to do at this point,  is to remind myself that my #1 job is to bring glory to God-and I can do that right now by trusting him through this life change.

My husband and my children will still remain my top priorities.
My blog and ministry are still going to be a close 4th –and my new job title, whatever that ends up being –will mesh into my priorities somehow.

It is going to be alright.

I am willing to bet (or not -I might have a touch of an issue with control, and betting is not my friend) but I can say with confidence that it is probable that
there is something brewing that I am not aware of yet.

Great things will happen this year, and I will be amazed (yet again) at how things work out when you trust God –and trust that the progression of life and it’s process of change.

Transitions are perfectly normal, and healthy. Scary, but okay.

Someday, I will be able to look back and see the blessings poured out all over all of this change- the same ‘change’ that I am so excited and justifiably terrified about.

So I guess if you learn anything from this post- and my blabbering
it could be that life throws us things.
We have to learn what to do with them – because it happens and it isn’t going to stop.
Change happens. Transitions come upon us.

We have to make decisions. Remain grateful that you have life- that you have a daily source of strength, love and everything else through your relationship with the Lord- that will never run out….. and hold on for the ride.

It can either be miserable or exciting.
That part is up to you and your brain. 🙂

Update: After working hard on my new resume and applying for different jobs-we found out that we were having baby #3. Oh’ life. Thankful I have a sense of humor.

Stop Rushing.

 

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Simply ‘being all there’ and taking each day-

one day at a time.

If you think about it, rushing doesn’t really ever produce anything of best possible quality anyway.

Breathe deep, and take it all in.

This is something that I have to constantly remind myself of.

Whether we are tying shoes, washing dishes or folding laundry.

I try to do my best to take time to teach and explain to my little ones.

I remind myself that our job, is to prepare them to live healthy lives. Not lives without us completely but independent lives.

Just something that I work on every day.

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