Diary of a former judgy mom.

I did a post a while ago about how everyone is a judgy mom. Even those of us in denial about it. But over the last few months I have really changed how I feel about this.

Hi, my name is Mandy, and I used to be a judgy mom.

Almost subtly over the last few months I started to notice that my attitude towards other moms changed from sizing up and judging to compassion and empathy. When I see another mom now my first instinct is to joke, or compliment, or offer to help.

Calm down, I’m still the sarcastic mama you know and love. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, it’s majority rules here.

So why the change? I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that too. I have found my mom tribe, is the big answer. I let go of friends that didn’t make me feel good about myself, I stopped holding on to toxic relationships and forced myself to let them go. I found friends who supported me and let me support them back. I extended this to my Instagram, and cultivated my follows to other like minded moms. Every interaction we have helps build this foundation of acceptance and support.

So maybe everyone is a judgy mom until they find a community where they feel supported and understood. And then out of that acceptance comes tolerance and compassion. If you’re a judgy mom like I was, maybe take a step back and reevaluate your circle and where you are putting your energy. Find your mom tribe, your REAL mom tribe, and maybe you’ll find yourself letting go too.

Things I learned on Christmas vacation.

We just got home from a two-week vacation in the mountains of North Carolina. We spent Christmas and New Year’s out of town. Nothing gets you to re-evaluate your life more than coming home from vacation and getting back to the real world. Here’s a few of the tidbits of knowledge I acquired while we were away:

1. Taking kids on vacation is a FUCKING nightmare. They are out of their routine and sleeping in a strange place. Nap time and bedtime get thrown off track. They are over stimulated after long days hiking and playing in the snow. And even though you plan amazing adventures every day, they still get fucking bored and drive you batshit crazy. I swear to god I have never yelled more in my fucking life. Their lives have never been in more danger than they were for these past two weeks.

2. Something ALWAYS goes wrong. Two weeks of fresh mountain air and NO sickness and we were living the high life, forgetting that parents don’t ever get that lucky. Idiots. Biggie’s breakfast didn’t agree with him on the 12 HOUR car ride home, and he spent the first few hours throwing up. By the third time I didn’t even bother putting pants back on him so I wouldn’t have to do a highway-side wardrobe change again.

3. Getting out of town is critical for mental health. Guess who didn’t have a single anxiety attack for these past two weeks? Yep- this mama. No work and no stress about living conditions made for a healthy mental health cleanse. My biggest stress was trying to survive the assload of stairs this Airbnb had- I better have J Lo calves now or WTF. A bazillion stairs plus adjusting to high altitude (we live in South Florida the only altitude we get is speed bumps) literally had me huffing and puffing like an asthmatic with COPD. This and trying not to abandon my children on a hiking trail was all I had to worry about. It was so needed and so worth it. Please remind me of this when I go back to work on Monday and question my entire existence again.

4. Experiences and memories don’t have to be made at Disney. Our kids were totally pumped when we reached the waterfall at the end of our multiple hikes. They were blown away by the nearly hand-tame deer that lived on the property, and how close they could get to them while feeding them. Hearing Smalls say “where deer?” And “waterfall” was awesome. Biggie got to go ATV’ing up the side of a mountain through the mud with Daddy, and got to go fishing in a trout pond. They got to breath two weeks of clean, fresh air. They got to see friends and family they don’t get to see very often because they live so far away. Dading and I aren’t big on theme park experiences, so these are the kinds of things we want our kids to do and remember.

5. Not being in town for the holidays makes them so stress free. The expectation that you have to see everyone you know and buy gifts for every person you’ve ever come into contact with gets tossed right out the window when you aren’t actually going to see anyone or spend the holidays with them. It really lets you focus on what’s important, and hopefully we passed some of that down to the boys. Instead of spending a fortune on Christmas cards, we sent a text to all our tribe with a picture of us on vacation. Honestly, I loved that more than the cards I print from Walgreens or Shutterfly every year. You realize who and what’s important when you take a step back and look at it from a distance (in this case 2000 miles and 5000 feet above sea level).

6. Traditions are made in the quiet places. We decided we are going to try and do this every other year. And we decided we would get refrigerator magnets from all the cool places we go, so our new house can tell the story of our adventures every time anyone goes in the kitchen. 2019 was the year our little family really started creating our own traditions.

So here I am, sitting at the kitchen in the house that isn’t mine, preparing to go back to work on Monday, blogging. You don’t have to drive 3 states away and risk certain death by a thousand stairs like we did for it to count. If you need to get away, do it. No matter what that means or where that takes you. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff online about how you don’t owe anyone anything for the holidays, and that you are allowed to do what makes you happy. The holidays are hard on everyone, some more than most. You do you. #NewYearNewMe.

Here’s to all our adventures for 2020.

Milestones, how I loathe thee.

I have been feeling lately that there are like a thousand things the kids still don’t know how to do that they should. Biggie is 5 and can’t ride a bike without training wheels yet. We haven’t taught him how to tie his shoes. Smalls is 2 and isn’t potty trained yet and we should have handled that shit already. Biggie hasn’t started any sports yet because swimming is endless and expensive. I don’t read to them like I want to. Biggie and I haven’t worked on his reading in weeks.

Why do I always feel behind with them? There are not enough hours in the day to teach them everything that they need to know. We both work full time outside our house, and we are always running around. After working all day who has the patience to teach a 5 year old how to tie his shoes? If you disagree you’re a liar because that level of patience does not exist.

But the last week we have stepped up our game with Smalls and going on the potty and he is having more dry pull ups than wet ones. This progress in him has really helped me see that maybe we aren’t as behind as I thought. I feel like we should be doing all the things, but physically and emotionally and the laws of space and time don’t allow for that.

Does this make me a good mom, trying to give my kids every skill they need? Or does this make me a crazy person who is worrying too much? I think the answer is both. I’m a female, and we are all crazy. Accept and embrace this because I speak in truths. But this goes back to my earlier post about being a good mom, and how you never feel you are getting it right. I guess there is always room for improvement- in life and in parenting. But then the beasties hit a milestone when they are ready and remind you that maybe things are gonna work out.

But those training wheels gotta go- please send positive vibes cuz Biggie is NOT about that change at all. Sometimes, you do have to push them 🙂

Anxiety attack: the sequel

The other night I had another anxiety attack. I haven’t had one of those in a while. It had been building up all weekend. I was on edge, I was super emotional and as ragey as a honey badger, with just as many fucks to give. I was sobbing at How to Train Your Dragon 3, and don’t get me started on Frozen 2. I have had little patience these past 2 weeks. Honestly, I have been feeling like I did after Smalls was born, right before I started on therapy and medication. But that’s the thing about anxiety right? It circles back around just when you think you have made it your bitch.

So as soon as we put the kids to bed, I started sobbing. I was apologizing to Dading about how I felt like a freak, and how I didn’t know what to do because I don’t feel like myself. I am a control freak, and I felt so out of control. Anxiety doesn’t discrimate- you don’t just freak about one thing- oh no, you sweet summer child. EVERYTHING that has been bothering you for the last like 5 years jumps on the band wagon. Now it’s stress, and oh yeah I haven’t been eating good, haven’t been exercising as much, I totally lost my cool on someone and oh hey that one thing I said to so and so like last week- do you think they are mad at me about it? The compartmentalizing walls in your brain all come crashing down and now it’s an avalanche of stress, and tears. And then the next day you go to work with puffy eyes and dried out contacts.

I have made it through therapy without crying once. Cursing- fuck yes all the time. But never tears.. until the other day. It has been zero days since I sat on the proverbial couch and attempted to keep my non-waterproof mascara from running. You’re probably thinking therapy is like the ideal place to ugly cry. But I don’t like to let anyone see me cry (except Dading the poor dude), and I never have. Here’s my therapy plug again for those of you who don’t go- I did feel better when I left. I got told my emotions and emotional responses to things are totally normal. And to focus my energy where it will see the most change and do the most good, and don’t waste my time on the other stuff.

I am a successful, hard working woman. I am a good mom and wife. I am a good person. I am doing pretty good in the world for myself and my family. But I have anxiety and it tries to make me forget these things. Hopefully when it tries to fuck me up again I will come back to this post and reread my words and know that I am truly ok.

Attitude of gratitude: epilogue.

Thanksgiving was a bit of a shit show. Toddlers have a sixth sense for holidays and choose those days to wake up on the wrong side of humanity. Smalls was in a mood all day. Trying to entertain your kids all day is like walking on a pile of legos that have been set on fire. It is painful and there is no end in sight. Seriously, I don’t know how preschool teachers do it. Ya’ll are saints and the world doesn’t deserve you.

So then the cousins show up and Biggie is all jacked up the companionship of people his own age that he doesn’t get to see often. Which translates into screaming and jumping on my goddamn couch HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU?

Next year we are making chicken nuggets and mac n cheese for these monsters. Why do we, as parents, think these little shits are going to eat anything that isn’t dessert on Thanksgiving? Denial- that’s what that is. I put exactly 2 bites of green bean casserole on Biggie’s plate. Which was the equivalent of extreme torture in his mind. He started to cry, I started to lose my shit (again). If you didn’t spend Thanksgiving yelling at your kids an ungodly amount are you even a parent?

I have also not been myself lately. Moody and impatient. So basically I felt like a psycho-momster in front of family. The kids could not go to bed quickly enough.

I am thankful I still had 2 kids at the end of the day (they should be too it was a close one there), I am thankful for all the delicious food that helped ease the pain, and I am thankful that Thanksgiving is over so I can recover- until Christmas.

Attitude of Gratitude.

It’s fitting to be thinking about this topic during the week of Thanksgiving. I want to be disgusting and only focus on positive things this post ( I know, cover your ears you don’t need this kind of negativity in your life).

First and foremost, I am thankful for my boys- all 3 of them. They keep me grounded and humble. And fill my world with colors I didn’t know existed. When I look at them, I am home. We went to see Frozen II over the weekend (we took Smalls because we are suckers for punishment), and the whole movie I kept looking down the aisle at my family and thinking how fucking amazing they are. They have managed to take my sanity, my body, my sleep, my money and my patience- but they have given me purpose.

I am thankful for the relationship I now have with my parents. There have been a lot of ups and downs, and there was a time (more than one) I thought we would never speak again. Having them as an active and participating role in our family, and watching that relationship continue to grow fills a void that was soul crushing when it was gone.

For my mental health- without it I would not be able to realize all the good things I have. I know who I am and where I am going and what I want out of life. It may have taken 33 years, but I know now that I have value, not just as a mom but as an employee, as a friend, as a woman.

I am thankful that we have the opportunity to build our forever house. I still remember what it was like in our first house- how little we had and how we thought things wouldn’t change. How terrified I was when we bought our last house that we wouldn’t be able to afford it because it was a little above our price range. If you had told me then where we would be now I don’t know that I would have believed it.

To my new circle of friends, who have helped me feel seen, heard and supported. You make life fun and keep me from actually cutting a bitch when I want to.

Thank you, to everyone who completes my circle. I hope everyone has a fulfilling Thanksgiving that ends with you eating until you feel like you’re going to die. I am living for the thought of all the leftovers in the days to come.

Making it rain- anxiety, not money.

I have been stressed lately, guys. As I’m sure you can imagine, not having your own house is stressful. No matter what you do or how good your living situation is, it isn’t your own house. We are looking at another 6 months and our house should be completed. It’s hard to live bare bones, with most your stuff in storage. It’s hard to have your life and friends and kid’s school one place, and you living in another.

The old anxiety trigger of money has been rearing it’s nasty head these past few weeks. According to my therapist, and she is always right, I like to live in the extremes. Extreme dieting, where its balls to the wall or I’ve fallen off the wagon. And in this case, the extreme of feeling like we have to save every fucking dollar we make to prepare for the new house, competing with the fact that we still have to live and that isn’t possible. We know where we need to be when we move and we are on track. Yet here I am, still feeling guilty for feeling the freedom of not having a mortgage currently. We aren’t freeloading at our current place so don’t look at me like that- we help out with bills but it still isn’t a mortgage. I felt guilty about our impromptu vacay to the Aquarium a few weeks ago. My internal dialogue goes something like this:

Anxiety me: but lady, you don’t have time to be going on vacation with this new house and the big mortgage coming up next year.

Rational me: but we still have to live right? We have to have fun and take a break from the hustle of our busy life.

Anxiety: you bought something on Amazon again. Tsk Tsk. You aren’t being responsible.

Rational me struggles with this part. In my head I go “well shit, maybe that bitch is right. Then I use Dading as my sounding board, the poor bastard.

It’s been a week, ya’ll. Everyone I talk to, including my therapist, tells me to chill the fuck out. That it will be ok, that we would never feel ready to take on a mortgage on a bigger house. And I hear that, because we thought we couldn’t afford our last house and it was fine. I feel so guilty, and like such a POS for buying anything, for going out when we said we weren’t going to go out at all to save money.

Life gets in the way of your best laid plans, I guess. I wish I could believe that we are on track and doing ok. And not to be freaked out about having a mortgage again next year when we close on this house.

When do I stop feeling like a reckless kid and start feeling like the responsible fucking adult that I am? Why am I so hard on myself? These are the things that have been weighing on my mind, and I am trying really hard to figure out how to believe in myself and us, and that things will be ok because we ARE responsible and doing what’s best for our family. #2020Goals maybe?

Even psychos (toddlers) can be taught empathy.

Toddlers are psychopaths. They have half your DNA and none of your humanity. That’s why being a parent is so fucking exhausting- you have to teach those little fuckers how to be a human being. I saw something on the internet once that went something like “kids are great, and maybe even the best, but they are learning to be human beings through trial and error.” Which basically sums it up.

Biggie is 5, so that’s 5 years of us teaching him manners, and feelings, and putting in the fucking work. And now I am happy to say we have an extremely well mannered and sweet little man who is only a dick to his little brother like 3 times a day on average. Speaking of the little one- he yells at you to stop it, and thinks slapping the shit out of you is playing. Also he tantrums whenever you tell him something he doesn’t want to hear- so let’s just call him a work in progress.

We’ve always drilled into them manners, and the meaning of family, and being nice. Within the last year or so we began teaching Biggie about not judging someone based on how they look. (The Greatest Showman gets like half the street cred for this). He knows we treat people based on who they are on the inside. It can be hard to give them diversity in life sometimes, but we try to give them experiences and interactions that show them all the color that the world can offer.

This year though, for me, it’s also about teaching them about protecting the environment and giving back. Dading and I had a charity softball tournament yesterday, and we did the Walk to End Alzheimer’s today. The kids did the walk with us, and I explained to Biggie in 5 year old terms what the walk represented. I told him how much money we raised and what it went to. I want the boys to grow up knowing what it means to get involved and give back. I told Biggie to take a water bottle to the officer that was directing traffic today. He knows not to litter because it’s bad for the environment AND someone else will have to pick it up, which isn’t cool. He knows plastic ends up in the ocean and hurts sea turtles. He knows about recycling.

Look, we aren’t perfect. I still use plastic straws at restaurants and forget my reusable bags at Publix. But they see us try, and they understand why. Raising kids is about so much more than trying not to kill them (it makes total sense why animals eat their young) and getting them to adulthood semi-successfully. I want them to grow up to be human fucking beings who believe that love is love and who a person is lives on the inside. That family watches out for each other. That GIVE YOUR BROTHER THE FUCKING TOY HE WAS PLAYING WITH DON’T BE A DICK.

And as I’m writing this next to Biggie, he just said to me “You know how much I love you? Double super much.” So yeah, pretty much crushing it at this parenting thing 😉

The Pandora’s box of family vacation.

So this past weekend we took a last minute trip to the Georgia Aquarium. We packed everyone up and left at the crack of dawn for the nearly 9 hour drive. Honestly, when you take car trips with kids tack on like an extra 2 hours for snacks, pee breaks and the baby blowing out the car with farts and faking you out thinking it’s a code brown.

The boys did great in the car, true story. They are good car travelers. They have that going for them, at least. When we got to the hotel that afternoon they were jacked from being cooped up in the car and the excitement of staying in a hotel which is a rare occasion. When it was time for bed, they were so excited at sleeping on the pull out couch that all we heard was fits of giggles and playing. Which is adorable- for like 5 minutes. There’s no way at least 2 neighbors on either side didn’t hear me unhinging my jaw at them. No one filed a noise complaint, probably out of pity.

This thriller non-fiction continues at 4:45 am, when Biggie woke up crying that he was thirsty. And again at 6am, same deal. He said his throat hurt. Then when we head down to the hotel lobby for breakfast, he proceeds to barf in the trash. He also feels hot as fuck. Dading makes a morning run to CVS to get Motrin. When I say run, I mean literally run. It’s downtown Atlanta people- you don’t drive if you value your sanity. Running was the faster option.

We finally make it to the Aquarium- which if you haven’t gone it’s a must. With or without offspring. If you think this story now has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention. Smalls is in full meltdown mode at the aquarium. Will he let anyone but me hold him? Fuck that. Does he stop screaming when I do pick him up? Bitch, please. I am in full mom stress sweat mode at this point. Literally sweating like climate change has just punched me in the face. We get hand stamped and head back to the hotel for lunch and a nap. After that back to the aquarium until they close. Annnnd back to baby meltdown mode until he gets food. The kid gives new meaning to the word “hangry.”

Once we get back to the hotel for the night the story takes a more sinister and smelly turn. Put baby on potty to poop, baby goes. Then Biggie goes. Before he can flush the baby is trying to shit on the hotel floor. Cue mom panic yelling. Biggie jumps off the potty, Smalls gets on. After that fiasco, and me checking the now sewer smelling room for any stray deposits, Biggie yells that Smalls is shitting on the floor in the bathroom. Put baby back on potty. End chapter.

Did we have an amazing family vacation? Absolutely. Would we do it again? In a heartbeat. Did we think about donating them to the aquarium? More than once. (I wonder if that would be considered tax deductible?) We were reminded that this is why we won’t take them to Disney for the foreseeable (or ever) future. In all, an amazing, stressful, super fun and chaotic car trip with two little kids. So fun that tonight they are with my parents so we can recover from it. 😉

The curious case of friendships in your 30’s.

There are memes all over the internet about how hard it is to make and keep friends in your thirties. They are so hysterical because they are so true. Everyone is working full time, raising monsters, going to school, paying off debt, being generally tired as FUCK, and no one has time for anything. I have been thinking about friendships lately. How mine have ebbed and flowed, and how much these new friendships have impacted my mental health.

As a mom, it is so important to have mom friends. I didn’t always subscribe to that logic, but I am a mega believer now. And not just mom friends- likeminded mom friends. Life is hard on us moms (and dads) in 2019. A lot of us, like Dading and I, are dual income families. Everyone hates on millennials but people- it’s hard out here for us, true story. Then we tacked on two boys and a puppy because fuck free time, right?

Downtime is the unicorn of parenting. I used to feel guilty about wanting to spend my time with only certain people, but therapy has made me understand that the support system other moms provide is so vital. I am at my best when I am spending time with my kids and my girlfriends who can be that village we all desperately need. Who totally gets it when plans get cancelled. Who gets you, the hot mess version and the boss version. Having friends you don’t have to explain yourself to because they are going through the same shit show you are. To those friends- thank you. You have helped me in more ways than you know and I am so thankful for you.

If we don’t have time for anything as 30 somethings- shouldn’t we make the time we have count, and spend it with the few people we actually like? These are deep thoughts for Monday, talk amongst yourselves.