Empathy over Evaluation

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”.jpg

 

Jiddu Krishnamurti said

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

As complicated humans this takes more practice than you would think. We’re a species with a broad range of emotions and thoughts that tends to see the world in black and white, good and bad, right and wrong. How can we be so complex but think that there is only one right way to do anything? Why do we end up thinking the “right way” is whatever we do?

I am so tired of seeing people self-validate their life choices by holding them up to another person’s choice and proclaiming them wrong. I’ve done this. You’ve done this. We’re all guilty of passing judgement on a situation we’ve never had to personally be involved in.

We are ALL just a couple of steps away from falling. We are  ALL a situation away from walking in the shoes that we looked at with contempt.

A lay-off away from welfare.
An illness away from bottle feeding.
An addiction away from having a wayward teen.
A death away from grief.

And on and on and on.

We can change. We can consciously decide that when presented with a situation that we’ve never been through instead of saying “That’s not what I would do!” we instead feel thankfulness we haven’t had to make that decision.

Yet.

 

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More Than ‘Mom’

More Than-Mom-.jpg

Being a Mom is simultaneously the best and most heartbreaking thing
I’ve ever done. The best because I have loved harder in the last five
years than I have my entire life. Heartbreaking because it makes me
more vulnerable than I’ve ever been (and because I’ve touched more
poop than I ever had). Before kids I thought breakups, and friend
fights, and losing a job was hard. After having a child I saw the
bigger picture. From the little things like schooling and if they were
hitting their milestones soon enough to the bigger worries and
heartbreaks like SIDS and childhood cancer, one thing was clear. I
wasn’t fully prepared for the love and anxiety that came with having
kids and I had no idea how absolutely consuming parenthood actually
was.

I realized, of course, that becoming a Mom would be life changing. I
knew that my life would be different. I had no idea, however, that
once one has children, ones life can seem to fall into a prewritten
supporting actress category. I didn’t realize that as a Mom I would be
bombarded with media telling me what I should like now (for the record
that’s wine, yoga pants, and weird wraps that supposedly suck your fat
out). I didn’t hear what the wise women were saying when they talked
about how as Mom’s we still had to take time for ourselves. It’s not
about getting a break from the kids, its about staying in touch with
who we are. When my kids were newborn I was, as we all are, consumed
with simply keeping them dry and fed. As they grow there are small
moments of down time appearing that could be used for whatever I like.
But who am I if I’m not being a Mom? Isn’t it selfish of me to want to
do things just for me when I can’t even seem to do all the things I
want to with them?

The most common anxiety for a mother is probably that she’s not enough
for her kids. Doesn’t spend enough time with them. Doesn’t play enough
with them. Doesn’t do enough crafts with them. Doesn’t tell them
enough how special they are. We spend so much time trying to stifle
this anxiety that at the end of the day we sit exhausted on the couch
thinking of all the things we could be doing.  Things like reading
that book you picked up 3 years ago, making food that isn’t cut into
bite sizes, maybe spending some time in bed with your spouse NOT
sleeping (wink-wink). Instead we take a pass and go to sleep because
we know we need the energy to do it all again tomorrow.

I’m not sure when all this mom guilt started. Probably around the time
we collectively started overthinking everything. We have a ton of
information available now giving us studies and stats on everything
from the best colors to expose newborns to how messed up kids will be
if they don’t have family dinners. There is absolutely no way to do
everything “they” say is good for your child. At some point we have to
decide that love and instinct count for something and that we ARE
doing a good job because we’re doing the best we can. That needs to
include doing the best we can for ourselves. Between work and taking
care of a home and kids we forget to take care of the person that is
holding it all together.

I am  writing today to renounce the idea that self love and
preservation as a mother is somehow selfish. Everyone will benefit
from you putting yourself first. Your kids will see that your time and
interests are as important as theirs. Your spouse will see you do the
things that drew you together in the first place. Your parenting will
be complimented by the happiness that all the things you love brings
to it. So start that garage rock band, join a political campaign, do
that art project you’ve been putting off. Take a night course. Go on a
solo vacation. Say “Yes!” to that thing in the back of your mind
whispering “I wish I could…” instead of answering with a “I can’t
because I have kids.”

It’s time to get rid of the notion that we don’t deserve “me time”
because we haven’t lived up to the expectations of some make believe
Good Parenting Checklist. It’s time to make yourself a priority
because everyone around you already thinks that you are. You are a
great Mom because you are a great person. Not the other way around.

How to Be A Keyboard Warrior in the Mom Wars

How To Be A

There’s a dark side to the internet. Articles, commentaries and memes with smoke filled comment sections booming with the battle cries of the fiercest warriors on earth. Moms. You’ve tried so hard to avoid this, vowed you would never yield to picking up a weapon and mowing down someone’s personal thoughts with your own. Till that one fateful day someone makes an off-hand comment about being anti-vax or breastfeeding vs formula feeding and BAM! You lift your head an hour later and realize you’re smack dab in the middle of the Mom Wars.

So here you are. You’ve had the kid, you possess the unwavering opinions on subjects you may or may not have personal experience with…but how do you “win”? You feel so unprepared. It’s ok honey, I’m here. Put the baby down for a nap, stretch deep into your yoga pants and sip that latte. I’m here to tell you how to be an effective Keyboard Warrior.

Never Give Up: Like literally never, ever. No matter how knowledgeable your opponent is on the subject. No matter how many people have pointed out that you haven’t been IN their situation so you can’t possibly know what it’s like. You keep stating your point over and over until people start posting that eye roll emoji and blocking you from their page. That’s how you know you’ve really gotten through to them.

Google is Your Friend: Google will never let you down. It will always side with you. Not just anyone can google you know, and you can’t just put whatever you want on the internet so you can trust that it’s true. Say you’re trying to prove that vaccines are harmful. You just scroll right on down past all those studies of thousands of kids done by so-called “scientists” and find the ones done by tinfoil wearing conspiracy theorists. It doesn’t matter if the entire study is done based on their 4 children and the 2 neighbor kids. The truth will prevail!

Bring in the Reinforcements: That friend you had from grade school that gave her kid Tylenol for a 103 degree fever and he threw up immediately after? You tag her in this shit. That childless guy your husband’s cousin went to school with that believes doctors are all buying yachts with their Big Pharma money they receive for prescribing antibiotics? Add him to the local Mommy Group. It doesn’t matter who it is, if they believe what you do they’re 100% correct.

Never Check Your Facts: God gave you that Mommy Intuition for a reason. If you feel like someone is doing something wrong because you do it differently than for the love of self-righteousness you have an obligation to inform them their choice is wrong. Even if their way isn’t hurting anyone or detrimental to the immediate health and happiness of the child. Someday, someway, it will come back to them in therapy and prove to have been the causation of all their downfalls.

Employ Operation Compliment Sandwich: Little Timmy is looking a bit robust for his age in your cousin’s latest Facebook photo. You don’t’ want to step on any toes so you bust out the best tasting sandwich you can muster. The Compliment Sandwich. “Timmy looks soooooo cute in his little romper. Just so you know, it could be a sign of childhood obesity for him to be in 9 month clothes at 6 months. My lil guy was in average range at EVERY SINGLE WELL-BABY CHECKUP but obviously I do all organic and that helps. He’s really cute though with all those rolls!”

And there you have it. You’ve armed yourself with all the grace and tact of a Wi-Fi wielding dictator while still having the good sense to never say these things to someone’s face. I can’t say you’ll win every battle but as long as you feel confident that you’ve got your point across even when it wasn’t asked for well, that’s winning the war. Godspeed my friend.

But First…A Cup of Coffee

caff-ticipation

So I wake up this morning…I needed coffee.

There were adults out there already adulting.

I was not one of them.

I got one in, then started making another and pulled it out from under the Keurig before it was even done brewing.

Slow down body. Brain isn’t up yet.

The things I would like to do today surmount any reasonable amount of tasks that will actually get done.

We are buying a house! It’s our first and very exciting. What is neither exciting or new is the packing I now have to do.

While my husband works 2 jobs.

With a 4 year old.

And a toddler.

And three cats.

Dear God: Send the packing fairies and some whiskey. 

So if you miss me over the next couple weeks I’ll be over here packing.

With the fairies.

Drunk on fairy whiskey.

A Vacation with Kids

Vacation With Kids

Is there anything more stressful and tiring than a vacation with children?
No. There’s not.

Have you ever heard someone say they needed a vacation from their vacation?
Those people probably had kids.

What is a vacation with kids?

Basically the crying, screaming, and sleep deprivation of everyday life are broken up with a few Instagram worthy moments of visiting zoo’s and theme parks. At the end of the day you’re in some strange room or hotel and the kids are super wired and extra overtired and nobody sleeps well. Then you get up and do it all over again.

There’s also the travel. Both of my wee ones get carsick so add “Drugged” and “Stupor” followed by “Loopy” into the mix, bringing a weird menage a trois of the lesser known characters of Snow White to the car.

So needless to say, although it was great to get out and do things last week, I’m looking forward to things being back to normal now. The husband is back to work (Praise Banana) the kids have caught up on some sleep (Bless Thor) and I am back to procrastinating on my housework and writing things (Hail Coffee).

Have a peaceful week!

The Mom Night-Life Scene: Decoded

Mom Night-Life

I know what you’re thinking.
You’re thinking about whole-bottle wine-a-thon’s after the kids are in bed.
About getting out of the house with your girlfriends and dancing the night away while they sleep (And consequently the epic hangover that you have to parent through the next day).
About tawdry nightclubs for Mom’s to unleash their inner freak (No? Just me? Sorry).

In actuality I am just going to tell you about last night. About the underbelly of parenting. Some might say the hardest part of the day isn’t DAY, it’s the night. Probably that someone has a crappy sleeper like I do. Someone out there understands, I know you do.

Let me preface by saying my 1 year old not only doesn’t sleep through the night yet, she still night nurses. Yeah. So…leave your judgement at the door but feel very free to give me tips on how to make that stop.

Also, I’m just gonna guess on the time-frame that all this happened cause when it’s after midnight EXACT TIME HAS LOST ALL MEANING!

6:30PM Rock/Nurse Baby and lay her in crib.

7:00PM Rock/Nurse Baby and lay her in crib. (At this point Samuel L. Jackson becomes my spirit animal. Go the eff to sleep, kid!)

7:30PM Rock/Nurse baby and lay her in crib. THANK EFF! She stayed. I notice that the 4yo has passed out backwards on my bed without brushing her teeth or using the bathroom. I’ma just let that happen.

8:00PM Plop 4yo unceremoniously in her loft bed and shut her door.

PLAY MARIO KART LIKE A 12YO FOR AN UNDETERMINED AMOUNT OF TIME. Yes, I’m 30 but when the kids are asleep I’m allowed to be a child again.

11:00PM Drift off into sweet sweet oblivion.

12:30AM Baby decides she wants to get up. I’ve taken my allergy pills at this point. They help with allergies and they make me sleepy so I usually take them before bed. Side effects include NIGHT EATING LIKE A BOSS. Seriously I scarfed down half a hotdog bun with cheez whiz and a bunch of Cheezits (at least there was a theme?) and put the baby back to bed.

4:30AM Baby gets up again. I go to pee and notice one of my 3 cats (yes, I AM a little insane to have that many cats along with kids) has brutally murdered a small creature in the bathtub. What the hell is this, Cat-Dexter?! I’ve been down this road before. I just left it there. Ok? I was not picking up dead mouse in the night. Don’t worry I got to it later. In the fuzzy ,pre-coffee first lights of day. This is my fur-family, I will clean up the mess. Sanitizing the bathtub isn’t too big of a deal. Wrapping the mouse in plastic seems a tad weird but what if I don’t dispose of it properly and it’s family came looking for it? Thank God for crime shows.

6:00AM The rooster child I birthed decided it was time to rise. I did not agree. The other 4yo rooster child did however. I gave the big kid netflix to watch via my phone in bed and tried to get the baby to sleep. No dice. Face clawing of Real Housewives of New Jersey proportions ensued. I went to the bathroom to find out the murderer moved the body from the original crime scene prompting me to clean it up ASAP before one of the children found it.

7:00AM I had coffee and put a stop to the NOT-AT-ALL uplifting morning flute melodies big kiddo was playing. I decided to chronicle this night that, murder aside, wasn’t all that weird or abnormal at all.

I am completely aware that I signed up for this.
And most of the time I am so used to it that I don’t even think about it or notice extra tiredness during the day.
Honestly the thing I’m most upset about is the Cheez. It’s not even “cheese”. I ate so much fake orange. That can’t be good for a person.

5 Situations That Make a Socially Awkward Mom Cringe

5 Situations That Make A (2)

Do you shudder at the thought of large crowds? Come home after events and analyze every meaningful conversation that you had till you’re convinced people think you’re crazy? Do you identify with the Socially Awkward Penguin meme so much that you’re convinced you should just move to Antarctica? If so, you might be socially awkward and being at these 5 places probably drives you batty.

1. Doctor’s Appointments: From the time you find out you’re pregnant to all the well-baby checkups that first year, the doctor’s office is your new home away from home. It’s not bad enough that they pack you into a tiny waiting room like a bunch of hugely pregnant sardines. No, people also have to chat. Polite chitchat is not your friend. It starts out fine but then your mouth starts talking faster than your brain can complete thoughts. It’s hard to get your foot in your mouth with the huge belly but you manage it every time.

2. Playdates: If they’re coming to your house you’ll clean for days before hand in preparation for tiny hands to mess things up. If you’re going to theirs you’ll worry about having to make conversation and if the other Mom’s will think you’re weird. Your child will inevitably recruit other kids and start a small riot and you’re left wondering if she’s the “bad kid” or “gang leader” in the other parent’s minds. After mulling it over for months you chalk it up to youthful curiosity and fun and hope you get invited back again. Not because you want to go, but because that would mean you haven’t been blacklisted.

3. Waiting in Line: There’s someone behind you. There’s someone in front of you. Do you stare off into the distance? Should you mention how nice the weather is? Oh God, my child just asked that woman what the mole on her face is. Maybe I can just go on my phone…oh great I just realized I’ve been standing here laughing at stupid Facebook messages. I look like a wingnut! I’ll just talk to my kids like a really attentive Mom. Nobody can find fault in that surely. I’m just here to do some banking, this is too much!

4. Birthday Parties: I’m not sure what age you’re supposed to just drop them off and leave but someone needs to establish a number quick! Should I socialize with the other Mom’s? I don’t wanna. Follow my kid around to make sure he doesn’t break anything? Awkward. Just give me a freaking hotdog and some cake so I have something to do with my hands and people will leave me alone. If you’re lucky that one Mom you get along with is also there and you can follow her around like a lost puppy piggybacking on her good manners. Why don’t they serve wine at these things?

5. School Committees: If you’re on one of these babies it’s probably because you’ve been “volun-told”. Someone volunteered you for the job. You now hate them with a passion equaled to the burning fire of a 1000 suns. (You’ll get yours Cindy. The zoo trip is coming up and I feel your arachnophobia makes you well suited to take the kids through the spider exhibit.) You can sit around meetings quietly listening and risk the group thinking you’re not helping. Or you can throw out some ideas and risk being the “bossy” one. Dear God these need to come with a manual. Or be done via text because it’s easier to cringe and hate myself after I speak without anyone seeing me.

To The Mom In The Mirror

mominmirror

I see you looking in the mirror,
searching for your flaws.
You’re tired.
You’re “old”.
Look at that wrinkle!
When did these laugh lines happen?

The mirror can’t tell you how beautiful you are.

It can’t reflect the nights you stayed up with your sick kid.

The thousands of loads of laundry you did so they would have fresh clothes.
(Even though you wore your yoga pants 3 days in a row, I feel you.)

It can’t shine a light on the times you didn’t feel like getting up in the morning but you did it anyways. You knew someday they’ll be a teenager and a lot less eager to spend their mornings with you.

You’ll never see that time you stayed up till 2AM working on a Halloween costume.

Or all the times you shared your last bite of cheesecake with the little one that caught you eating it quietly in the bathroom.

You won’t see all the lessons you taught them about empathy or acceptance.

Nothing will show all the times you sung that annoying theme song of their favorite cartoon just to make them happy.

The mirror will never be able to reflect back all the hugs and kisses you’ve forgotten but your kids will remember as a loving childhood.

All the generosity.
The sacrifice.
The tiredness you’d trade sleep for every.single.time. because it means having your kids here with you.

So next time you look in the mirror just use it to make sure you don’t have lipstick on your teeth or throw up in your hair.

Cause it’s never going to tell you how beautiful you really are.
And you are.

The Top 5 Places I Whip It Out

5

You ever long for the good ol days? I think once in a while we all do. Children playing unattended in the neighborhood with their friends, no internet to distract you from your housework, high on socially acceptable Valium while drinking martini’s. Ahhh the good life.

I think if I was transported back in time though, I’d quickly become bored. There are so many situations in which I whip out my smartphone to make it more bearable. Now I’m down with no phones at the dinner table or when you’re hanging out with someone and can have an actual conversation without typing it. It’s also nice to just put the phone down and be present with the kids now and then, right? Sometimes I need an escape though and my smartphone comes in handy.

1) Breastfeeding Marathons: Thank the good Holy Banana for Netflix. There’s only so much quiet bonding I can do. If I have to feed someone every 1.5-2 hours I might as well take advantage of sitting down and binge watch Netflix’s latest crack series while doing so.

2) Public Restrooms: These are awkward places. We all have to use them at one time or another but most of us prefer when nobody is in the stall next to us. I like to browse Facebook while in there. It takes your mind off of how weird it is to use the bathroom a foot away from another person doing the same. (I do realize that you’re now going to possibly feel weird when you see me on Facebook because you’re wondering if I’m in the bathroom. I can live with that.)

3) Waiting Rooms: Waiting rooms freak me out. Especially hospital or clinic ones. We’re all there because we need to see the doctor for some ailment or another and I’m wondering if I talk to someone if I’m going to catch their sick on top of whatever sick I have. Plus I have a bit of social anxiety. So I browse things on my phone and make polite eye and a smile now and then. If I have the kids with me then it can be a savior for child-boredom. ABC Mouse ya’ll. It’s educational so minimal mom- guilt.

4) Bathtime: I have perfected the Mom Shower. In/out and wash/rinsed in about 5 minutes or less. My kids however, like to wallow. Usually they have bathtime when its not close enough to bedtime to put them down, but late enough in the day that I’m OVER.IT. So I sit on the floor close enough save anyone from drowning and mindlessly scroll while they act like they’re in a pool on Spring Break and have never seen water before. Its almost like I’m having “me” time.

5) In Bed: When you’re tired after a day of Momming, there’s nothing nicer than finally getting in bed and knowing you don’t have to do anything. Then, you grab the phone because you don’t want to just go to sleep at 8pm like a baby cause you’re an adult now and the evenings are time to do adulty things. So you check social media and chat a bit on Facebook and watch a few Youtube videos and zzzZZZ. Better than Ambien.

So the inevitable question is…
Where do YOU whip it out?!