Everyone Needs a Break Sometimes

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Sometimes I get this feeling of dread. I don’t always talk about it because in the eyes of the world my feelings would be judged in a negative way. The truth is I don’t really care. One thing I am is honest to the point. Often times that gets me in trouble but I would rather bluntly speak the truth than appease those around me with a misrepresentation of the truth or a lie. So, the truth is, sometimes I need a mini vacation from being a mom. It’s no secret that I have stayed home to be the best, most present mom that I can actually be. I am lucky and blessed to have this opportunity, but it has also made me a prisoner to the role. The responsibility, the worry, the personal failures I feel when something is not going right in my kids lives is excruciating. Sometimes I want a day that I don’t need to know who needs to go where, when they need to go, and I don’t want to have to be the one to drive them. I need a day that I am not dreading checking the school online site to see who handed their work in and who got a good or bad grade. I don’t want to spend hours each night awake wondering if my kids have the skills they need to get through each chapter of their lives or whether the lack of communication that often happen between parent and teen is enough for them to come to me if something is really wrong.

It sounds awful I know. I know this because sometimes I try to vent to my mom and she tells me it’s awful. That’s just what moms do, react and judge. Maybe because we are so solely responsible and connected that we take things so very personally. I can hear her thinking, “what a shame, I never felt that way.” I think its easy to forget these feelings when we look back on our role as a mom as a whole. We forget the hard and challenging times, because in the end, more times than not, they are outweighed by the good. But, these are my feelings and are buried so deep inside begging to be let out. I realize it is okay to admit I need some mental time to relieve me of the burden of being in charge of everyone’s schedule, everyone’s dilemma, everyone’s needs. Sometimes, I just need to be me. That me I was when I was only responsible for my own actions, schedule, successes and failures. When I didn’t hold myself personally responsible for the weight of the world but just my own 120 pounds. It gets heavy, and exhausting, and discouraging and harder every year that goes by. Am I the only person in the world, parent in the world that feels this way? I highly doubt it. But everywhere I look moms are playing the part of pretending being a mom is the best thing since apple pie. Truth is, some days it really is. Those other days though, when we are broken inside it would be so nice to know there is someone else in the world feeling the exact same way too…tired, overwhelmed, anxious about the future, and defeated. Am I the only one? I guess I will never actually know because it is so taboo to speak in such a way. No one loves their kids more than I do. I thank God for them every single day. Somedays though, like today, I just need a little relief from the responsibility that comes along with loving two people more than anything else in the whole world. For wishing that they find success in everything they do or healthy coping mechanisms to deal with their failures, challenges and obstacles. I need to stop worrying about them growing up in a difficult and changing world filled with a different set of accepted morals and values than I grew up in. I need to let go of the worry that life will pass them by while they are distracted by texting and twerking and growing up way faster than I ever had to. I need to stop worrying that the absence of consequences all around them when it comes to schoolwork or behavior will not overcome my lessons of personal accountability when it comes to their school work, personal choices, and actions. I need to just stop worrying…for a minute, and hour, just for a little bit of time. But then again, I am mom, and that’s just what we do.

Unsettled

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We all experience ups and downs. One day we are on top of the world and at a moments notice our world comes crashing down. For me, the difference lies between two very palpable aspects, control and balance.

Control: To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over. Such a small but powerful word. What does it really mean though and how do we achieve this while balancing the reality of what cannot ever be in our total control? That seems to be the question I have been struggling with lately that has left me with an uneasy feeling in the core of my stomach. I try really hard to be a good parent. I try to instill a moral compass as well as a behavioral guide and try and teach the kids the value of hard work and personal level of responsibility. It all sounds like a great plan until you realize that lack of control you have in your kids day to day activities. It is a hard thing to to adjust too and even harder to realize that at some point, control is no longer an option. We are controlling by nature, every single one of us. We like to have some say in the outcome of the the things we pursue. So, how do we surrender the control and find the balance to not go absolutely mad? It’s like sitting on the receiving end of a missile and just waiting there all exposed knowing it is going to hit. Such is parenting I guess. At some point, we have to be that sitting duck, and hope at the end of the day we will not take a direct hit. I try and remind myself a bad choice, a missing paper, or a bad grade is not the end of the world and in the whole picture of my children’s lives, each day is so minute. As they get older, the missiles become more serious and deadly. I remember when they were babies wondering if they would ever give up their binkys or get out of diapers of if I would ever get enough sleep to feel like a human being again. Why wasn’t Kayleigh drinking from a cup when Tori had been doing it for months or why couldn’t Chase write his name when all the other kids in his preschool class could already write all their letters? It all induces stress at the time, but as kids get older, the circumstances become more serious. Now, I can only hope that Chase is getting his work done in class and handing it in. I can only hope Kayleigh is choosing good friends and staying true to what she knows is right. The reality though is I cannot choose for them anymore. I need to sit in harms way each and every time she gets in a car with an upperclassman and pray the car pulls safely in the driveway. I have to sit exposed and worried and pray that these next few years when she is exploring relationships that I have taught her to respect her body. I am a sitting duck and it is scary. I no longer have control and all I can do is pray we safely make it through each growing pain, and experience and come out on the other side maybe not completely unscathed, but not too badly damaged either. So I will sit. I will wait. I will pray and let out my best quack. This too shall pass. I just need to find that perfect balance between control and lack there of it.

Constantly Torn

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Finding balance in being a mom has always been a little hard for me. I know all to well that I am quite different from other parents I know especially when it comes to sports. It seems like sports are shoved down our kids throats from the time they learn to balance on two feet. I try and remember that all kids are different, and that just because an influx of sports works for the majority of kids, it does not necessarily work for all of them.

Yesterday was Chases first Cross Country meet. I actually forced him to join a few weeks ago because running has always been one of his strengths. However, his strength is in his speed and not in endurance or distance running. As I looked at the course yesterday, it became completely evident to me that the few short weeks he had trained could not possibly have gotten him ready for such a long course. My heart actually hurt as I looked out at the excruciating distance that was expected to be covered, put on my best smile, and hoped for the best.

Bang! Off they went. He was really pushing himself as he took off trying to stay in the middle of the pack. I was a little worried his pace was a bit too fast, but I cheered him on and waited for him to come back around. I could see the absolute dread on his face as he got closer and closer. He looked pained and torn about what to do. Then, in a moments notice, he quit. That was the end of it. I got that familiar pit in my stomach that I sometimes get when I compare myself and Chase against the standards of others. I tried to get to him finish. I even offered to do it with him because my personal dream for Chase is that someday he possesses the confidence to finish what he’s started.
It seems to be a trend with him and is something that I struggle with every time I sign him up or force him into an activity against his will. I guess, in the back of mind, I am just hoping he will enjoy the activity enough to make it his own.

My heart was broken last night. He was the only kid that didn’t finish and I felt embarrassed and defeated. The truth is, deep down I knew he wasn’t prepared to go the distance. Did I set him up to fail? Most parents would say this is a situation where the kid should suck it up and push through. The other kids were able to finish even if it meant they walked the entire second lap. He was embarrassed to the point where he was trying to hide and kept telling me he didn’t want to finish last. The sad truth is he was ahead enough, that even if he walked, he would have finished before quite a few kids. His issue is self esteem and I keep putting him in situations that set him up to fail. I’ve been up most of the night trying to figure out how I can turn this thing around. People are so obsessed with sports these days and really believe kids should be overtrained, and pushed to their limits. It’s a tough thing to keep up with. I’ve done sports all my life and once high school ended that was the end. I know that sports are important to stay healthy, get some exercise, and the most important aspect of all…..stress relief. I know it teaches dedication and how to manage your time wisely but what does it teach if a kid feels unsuccessful? At what point does the bad outweigh the good and become almost detrimental? I am angry society has sports them into something more than they have to be. It used to be okay to train enough to be good and still have fun without constantly testing the limits. I need to remind myself that I am not other parents and my son is not other kids. Building his self esteem and not setting him up for failure is my job as a mom and my sole duty. I need to follow my gut and keep telling myself that there’s a certain point sports come to an end. They are just something we have ingrained in our minds that are more important than they actually are. At the end of my life I can almost guarantee that when I think about what’s important to me and what has defined me, it will not be the few years I dedicated myself to a sport. It is just a short time in our lives that we should think back on and think fondly of.

My daughter receives Confirmation in two years. I actually became sick inside when they announced there’s a new policy allowing kids to miss 9 out if 26 classes a year to accommodate sports schedules. It was in that moment I realized our society is really headed in a wrong direction. We designate one day a week to go to church and now we can’t even set sports aside enough for that. Where have we gone so terribly wrong? I won’t judge those of you that have sports as a top priority in your life so please pay me the same respect and don’t look down upon me or my kids. I refuse to become something or someone I don’t believe in and I will no longer ask or expect my kids to do that either. After all, what is life without sports? Just life without sports. Let me know what you think.

September 11th

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I remember the day well so many years ago. I was living in Texas at the time and I woke up and turned the tv on seconds after the 1st plane flew into the first tower. I sat there in silence confused and hanging on every word the reporter was speaking. At first I thought it was just a horrific accident and then the truth became apparently clear. Kayleigh was 2 at the time and there was a tiny spark of new life growing inside my body. I will never forget the chaos, the uncertainty, the panic that ripped through the streets of NY, then Pa and D.C later that day. I mourned for the future of the child inside of my belly because I knew he would be born into a world that would forever be changed.

I still see the scene so vividly when I close my eyes. The details, the eerie sound, and then the silent streets filled with only white. Dust, sirens, people in uniforms, people carrying people who were injured, people jumping from the top of the building. I see it in my mind and I still feel the enormous dread and pain in my heart.

It’s been years since that horrible day. It changed people in so many ways. For me, it is a constant reminder that hate, and control, and violence in the name of God hurts us all. If we become part of that hate, than the light in our souls and in our hearts is crushed and destroyed just like so many people beneath the rubble that day. We deserve better and their memory deserves better too. Are you going to carry anger around and spread it out into the world like a toxic gas that kills large numbers of people in a tiny amount of time? Or are you going to rise above the rubble and choose peace and love and kindness and contribute that to a world whose light has almost been snuffed out? Your actions, your random acts of kindness, and choosing love can change the world one person at a time one day at a time. Think about how a kind word or action can change your own mood or change the perception of your day. Be the change you want to see in the world. We need change more than ever now and the world is counting on you.

A Special Gift

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Something wonderful and unexpected happened last night. I was rushing around trying to get things ready for the morning when I poked my head in my sons room to put away some laundry. I noticed a piece of paper on his dresser with writing in multiple colors. As I picked it up and started reading it, it didn’t take long for the tears to well up in my eyes and slowly start to slide down my face. I wish I could share the details of what I read with you but I realized quickly it was only meant for Chases eyes.

It’s no surprise my daughter had a very difficult transition into middle school. It breaks my heart to even imagine how awful it must have been for her. So there, on Chases dresser was A Guide to Middle School written by Kayleigh just for Chase. Her advice was mature and kind and practical. I really couldn’t believe my eyes. It warmed my heart to know she was looking out for her little brother. She really is growing up and turning into a very kind young lady. I am so proud of her for who she is, her strength of character, and what she has overcome along the way. I couldn’t help but think of my blog post titled Letter to My Daughter on Her First Day of High School. I can’t help but smile to myself as I wonder if there’s a little bit of me inside of her.

Finding Humor in ADD

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Many of you have followed my journey of discovering my son has ADD. I have been somewhat nervous about him starting middle school, but I must say, so far everything has been turned in, his grades have been good and he is enjoying school very much.

At first, my heart was broken. We decided to start him on a dose of medication that was halfway between his starting dose and finishing dose at the end of the year. He was coming home with severe headaches, stomach aches and was visibly agitated. He definitely wasn’t himself and it saddened me to watch. Not long after switching him back to his original starting dose, he was back to his old self.

Yesterday, he started cross country. I was a little worried about how it would go because the only exercise he got all summer was playing video games. Practice is held at a duck pond and the amount of kids that showed up was amazing. There was only one small little problem, one coach.
All the kids took off running and there I was, proud mom hoping my kid would be the next superstar. I looked in the crowd but Chase was nowhere to be found. A few minutes later, I saw him down by the water chasing ducks. Scott and I couldn’t help but find the humor in this situation. Imagine the scene, a young boy with ADD outside, at a duck pond for practice. Of course he didn’t notice the 50 kids that had taken off running. He was distracted by everything else. Squirrel! Pond! Turtle! Duck!
After a bit of redirecting, off he went. I am looking forward to this year because I believe in the short time since his diagnosis, he has already made great strides and come up with his own adaptations. I am excited for him and so grateful to see each little success lead to greater self confidence. He can live with ADD, and maybe even someday overcome it. For now, we take one day at a time and know after trudging up hill for so long, we are now finally coasting down.