Kids need kudos, too.

Sunday morning I let Dading sleep in and took the kids to church. And by church I mean Starbucks. They were actually behaving themselves. I realize I should have captured it on video as proof that a miracle happened. There was an older couple sitting at the table next to us and when they got up to leave they came over to say hi to the kids. He asked Biggie if he was the big brother. I responded “he isn’t just a big brother, he is the BEST big brother.” The look on his little face, how he beamed with pride across the table. It made me realize that in those little moments when you have the chance to make them feel special and important, do it. Adults need their egos stroked, and so do our little spawn. It reminded me to take the time to support him and compliment him. I went home and told Dading how his face lit up, and he told me I was a rockstar mom for doing that, because he probably wouldn’t have thought to say something like that as a response. And so the circle of inflated egos was completed. I will remember this, and try to find little ways more often to cause Biggie to flash that million dollar smile 🙂

Being real with your kids.

I recently had a discussion in therapy about whether it was ok to let your kids see you cry. Especially when my anxiety was not monitored, Biggie used to see me cry all the time because the waterworks were real and frequent. Now that he is older, he understands emotions better and will hug me, and snuggle with me, and tell me he will make me feel better. We think it’s important for the boys to see that we aren’t some emotionless dictators that run their life. (Dictators for sure, but not emotionless ones).

I want the boys to be able to tell us and show us how they feel, and not to be uncomfortable doing so. So we try to set a good example. I want to be relatable and approachable to them. My therapist agreed, and said they would be more emotionally healthy than if we didn’t talk to them.

There is no talking to Smalls about anything, he is a little baby grinch monster who makes us all insane. I’m thinking of letting him audition for the next Omen movie, as he has the maniacal laughter and evil stares on lock already. But we do talk to Biggie as much as you can without imploding a 5 year old brain. We use the new house as a way to talk about money- how Daddy works overtime so we can buy things for the new house. How we cancelled swimming for him because we felt he was ready, and now that he is doing soccer we needed to downsize our activities. We explain the bigger emotions- like feeling embarrassed when you act like a little shit at school, and being disappointed in yourself for not having good listening and doing your best. I hope by doing this he is learning that he is responsible for how he acts and talks, and that maybe he feels like a contributing member of the family.

Biggie is definitely transitioning from toddler to little boy. His emotions are bigger, his attitude is bigger (FML). But with this comes his eagerness to help out. Yesterday he helped me take out the trash and recycle, dry dishes and clean up after dinner. We give him responsibility, and then show him how proud we are of him when he rises to the challenge.

We let him see us make mistakes. We apologize when we lose our temper. He sees us forget things. He sees us not get it right sometimes. I hope all these things give him the grace to make his own mistakes, and maybe not be as hard on himself as I am on me. Hopefully this method of parenting fucks him up just a little bit less in the end 🙂

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.

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.