Validate me, damnit!

We all know those people- the ones that talk AT you. The ones who suck at listening. The ones who always play devil’s advocate to whatever you are saying. The ones who don’t just let you feel what you are feeling. Correct me if I’m wrong (I’m not) but it is the most exhausting thing to be around these people. They always know better, They always know what’s best, they always have all the answers. They just. Don’t. Fucking. Listen.

When I am pissed, get pissed with me or get the F out of my way. When I am happy, be happy for me! Can we just support each other in this ever increasingly fucked up world we live in?

It isn’t hard to just be supportive of someone else. Don’t be a dick, just be nice. It seems like I am always being talked down to. I don’t need your parenting advice, or your house building/decorating advice, or you diet advice. I am doing just fine on my own, tyvm. People give their opinions way to freely, and forget that no one asked them for it in the first place.

So before you try and tell someone how you think it should be done, take a step back and just listen to them. Understand that the only person who knows what’s best for me is me. And my therapist, obviously.

New decade, zero fucks to give.

I made a resolution to be better to myself this year. I thought this meant not be so hard on myself about my physical appearance. Maybe take better care of myself. What really ended up happening this year is I stopped caring what other people thought. I stopped putting energy into people who don’t deserve it. I put up my ballistic shield around my mental well-being. I don’t know if my initial resolution was the catalyst for this, or if I have just gotten so fucking tired of dealing with other people’s bullshit that I just grew a pair.

I talk about this a lot but I think a lot of it is the support system I have now that I didn’t before. Maybe it’s because I finally know who I am and what I stand for. Probably it’s all these things combined. And I can tell you that it is absolutely exhilarating. To not internalize everything, or absorb everyone else’s bullshit is so fucking empowering!

I still slip up from time to time. I forget not to let the negative shit in and I have to work hard to get back on track. But I am on to something here, and I won’t go back. For those of you who already wake up every day feeling like this- dude. You are the real deal. For those of us who are working on it, keep going. Keep pushing forward. And for those of you who haven’t taken the first step, no time like the present. Think about how much free space in your head and heart you would have if you controlled the flow instead of letting others control it for you. How much happier would you be if you kicked negative people to the curb and just did you? Let’s all ring in this new decade only giving a fuck where a fuck is deserved.

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.

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.

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.

All Time Low: me, not the band.

If I was to describe myself at this present time, I would not say I was doing well. I try to remind myself that our family has gone through a huge transition- we moved to another city, and are trying to establish new routines. There’s lots more commute time now, because the beasties still go to school in our old city.

I tell myself this, I tell myself to give it time, that new routines will be established. I should give myself the understanding that we are two full time working parents raising two toddlers. Is a 5 year old still a toddler? I’m going with it for the sake of this pity party for one.

Yet here I am, crying almost every night. Feeling so overwhelmed I don’t know what to do. By the end of the night there is no time or energy to spend with my ride or die, and I feel so lonely. I’m actually crying writing this. I’m stressed, ya’ll. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I could blame Keto, because we are back on the sauce (mostly, please keep me in your thoughts during this difficult time) and the amount of cooking I am doing reminds me why we ate out all the time.

I guess it’s everything. Lack of sleep, which is obviously the lot of every parent out there. It still sucks, and you never really get used to not being able to sleep BECAUSE IT ISN’T NATURAL CHILDREN ARE THE DEVIL.

Did I mention I had to get on the scale at the doctor the other day (nurse, you bitch) and I am the heaviest I think I have ever been. I’m putting this into the ethos because maybe some of you are struggling with weight like I do, and know that I get it. Hence the Keto. At this point I am giving up on exercise, because by the time I have time, I am too tired. Why don’t parents look like The Rock, with all the lifting and running around we do? I call bullshit.

So hello internet, here I am. Sleep deprived, lonely and stressed. What to do? Honestly, I don’t really know. Please send me your ideas, I am totally open to suggestions. I want to get back to feeling happy again, because we are on an adventure and I would like to enjoy the ride a little bit more.

Becoming a good person: a horror story.

I have been thinking lately how my attitude towards others and the planet as a whole has changed. I am more conscious about the environment and am currently trying to get my family as plastic free as humanely possible without losing even more of my sanity. I go out of my way to compliment a stranger, to help out a fellow mom.

Ya’ll, I have a love/hate relationship with people. I go from “hang out with me” to “fuck off leave me alone” like a beer pong ball. I love my kids but don’t like other people’s. And if you don’t use your blinker in traffic- holy shit I go bananas.

But it’s been my mission lately to spread love around as much as possible. To be nice to people (mostly). To be less judgy to other moms and help them out.

Why am I like this?! Who am I?! I really do blame my therapist for this. She’s corrupting me. I like the disgruntled me, we have a long standing relationship and you can’t make me break up with her!

I think getting control of my anxiety was the catalyst. But I think the bigger answer is that happier people spread happiness to others. We all know those people who are totally miserable, and they make you feel terrible just by being around them. I am not happy go lucky all the time, quite the opposite in fact. Between the hurricane, closing getting delayed on the sale of our house, and totally uprooting our family to move temporarily while we build our house- I have been stressed the fuck out. I cry a lot. I am short tempered and say nasty things to Dading out of frustration. But OVERALL, I am a happy person compared to where I was before I starting talking to someone about my mental health. And I think that’s why I have more patience for others, feel like I can invest the time in other people. Probably a big part of that is that I am learning WHERE to invest my time and WHO is worth that time, which keeps me from burning out.

Maybe it’s part of being in your 30’s? Maybe it’s because the world is full of people in power who are horrible, and it makes me feel like I have to resist the man, figuratively and literally. Or, more likely, it’s a combination of all of the above. All I know is that it’s kind of a nice feeling (don’t look at me, I feel dirty). I feel better about me when I make time for someone else who deserves it or needs it.

Be nice to someone who could use it. Guaranteed it makes you feel better about yourself, and have a little more faith in humanity. This does not apply to shitty drivers- I hope a pterodactyl peppers your windshield. Or telemarketers. It’s important to have standards.