Monday, December 27, 2010

Why Twitter will make you a better mom

As many of you know, I am an avid Tweeter. I Tweet about big things like my bed rest adventure and even the birth of my baby to little things like when the baby finally pooped after days of constipation. And I have to confess that Twitter has become one giant source of mommy support for me. I have a fantastic circle of real life friends that offer all kinds of support but during bed rest having moms on Twitter who were or had been on bed rest was invaluable. And after I had the baby I had several mommies with newborns who would all Tweet during midnight feedings and such and it made me feel better knowing I wasn't the only one awake at butt thirty in the morning!

But I think the thing I love most about Twitter is that it allows mommies to vent and be heard at any time of day. There are so many social expectations of mothers and sometimes a girl can feel a bit suffocated. I think that for the most part mommies still feel censored, like we don't have a voice. Like we still need to keep a smile and put on a brave face. Heaven forbid mom have a bad day and flip her shit when the kids are at each others throats (again!) or when the hubby makes her angry. Even though women have clearly advanced since busting out of their aprons in the 50's, there is still this Madonna (the virgin- not the "Like a virgin") imagery society has in regard to mothers. We can't lose our tempers. We can't admit that it's overwhelming some days. We can't call our kids brats or say our husbands are jerks- even if we only mean it until the mood passes. We can't drink, smoke, or pop a Xanax from time to time. We can't wear clothes that make us feel sexy (yes moms still like to feel sexy!). And Lord help us if we have tattoos!

The truth is that motherhood is a blessing but there are other moments where it feels like a curse! I love my kids unconditionally (obligatory disclaimer) and nothing they do on any day will ever change that. So what's the problem with having days where you want to lock yourself in the bathroom with a bottle (or two) of wine and turn your iPod up until you can't hear the screams, whines, and nagging? Well while we can't (legally) do that, we can now instantly connect to a plethora of amazing mommies who know exactly what that feels like and can cheer us on and talk us down. Twitter is a place we can scream (IN ALL CAPS) or cuss (so little ears don't hear) the minute we get upset. This form of venting can be super cathartic and allow moms to move on from the moment quicker. No more shutting your mouth and bottling your feelings behind a smile until one day you explode and go on a wine drinking brownie eating credit card burning rampage. Yes kids- Twitter makes me a better mom!

The Holidays really sealed the deal on this theory for me. I can't even tell you how many Tweets I read about crazy in laws, stupid husbands, and ungrateful kids. These were moments in the lives of my Twitter moms that needed their own voice so these mommies could move past it and enjoy their Holiday. It's like our internal dialogues finally have an external outlet! Sometimes they sound like sheer frustration. Sometimes they sound like snarky sarcasm. Sometimes they are straight up anger. But if it keeps a smile on mommy's face while still giving her a voice, then you go girls! Twitter seems to have become a place for moms to get a little piece of themselves back. So keep Twweting ladies! You need it and believe it or not- your family needs it too!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Drama-It's a choice

I had a dramatic upbringing. Drama flowed freely in our house of women- 3 of us teens at the same time. Poor mom. Much of this drama was courtesy of yours truly. But thanks to my mother's patience, a few visits from the Oakland Police Department, & a heavy dose of professional counseling for me we all made it out alive! And, I made a decision to have as little drama in my adult life as possible.

This wasn't an immediate change. It's taken years of self evaluation, deep breathes, and tongue biting to get to a point where I understand the difference between crappy things happening to you and drama. Hard times in your life are unavoidable. They're going to happen. But it's how you respond to them that dictates if they will be dramatic or not. This year our lives were turned upside down with more bad news than we ever expected. But we kept our heads up and handled ourselves with as much dignity as possible. This wasn't just important for us. It was also extremely important for our children. I believe that once God has placed children in your care it is your job to eliminate drama and set an example for them. You need to be a shelter for your children. And choosing drama and involving your children doesn't do any good.

Every time horrible circumstances come across my path I remind myself that it will pass and that far worse things are happening to other people every day. I think that, for myself, the realization that I may not be unique in my circumstance but that I most certainly can be unique in my response to it has been the life changer for me. Example: Some people spin out of control because of divorce. That could pertain to spouses or children. So before indulging your urge to be self indulgent and then blame everyone but yourself remember that it may be a low point for you right now, but that people do it and do it well every day without submitting to the drama. I know for me, my first 8 weeks on bed rest found me in self pity, chaos, & fear. Until I joined a forum of bed rest mommies and realized this happens every day and that other moms have it worse. So even though I had another 15 weeks of bed rest, it was full of love and not drama. It was a choice.

So if I have been able to make this choice then I also expect the same from those I choose to be around me and my children. I can't and won't deal with lies, exaggerations, bad choices in the name of hard times, and the like. We are all adults and as adults we must be who we want our children to become. If you want your children to grow up unable to cope when life throws curveballs at them then continue with the drama. But if you want them to be successful adults, employees, spouses, and event parents, then make your choices.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pajama Christmas

In a year where chaos has been the theme an nothing familiar has taken place, I am 100% giddy like a child for Christmas! Each year our family does Pajama Christmas. We completely skip all the traditional Christmas Day festivities and opt for a day of leisure. And I couldn't be more excited this year! We don't completely deny Christmas it's traditions. We just do them a day early. On Christmas Eve we do the big dinner with friends and we allow the kids to open one gift. But on Christmas Day when everyone else is up early baking, cooking, cleaning, and even showering- we are cozied around our tree doing none f it.

Our Christmas morning starts with a tradition that began when I was a child. My grandparents owned a general store. And each year on Christmas Eve we'd head over to their house and have the big dinner then stay up until midnight to open gifts. That's not the tradition I am talking about though. The best part of Christmas with our grandparents was that they would wrap and gift each of the grand kids a box or two of Pop Tarts. Then on Christmas Morning we already had breakfast while we opened our gifts from Santa!

So as soon as the kids wake us, we all pour out into the living room and begin. We eat Pop Tarts and open presents. We are sure to get games and movies each year for the kids because the remainder of the day is 100% lazy family day. We play games, watch movies, and never get out of our jammies! It's magnificent! And there is NO cooking! A day or two before I will buy sub sandwiches, etc. so that our lazy day isn't bothered by trivial things like cooking.

This is my favorite day of the year because I know that I will have the whole day with my family. Free of disruptions and responsibilities. It's a day when all of us are happy to be at home with each other. We have no where to go and nothing to do other than enjoy each other.

This year, this tradition means even more to me. I have really learned to refocus and appreciate every day with my husband an children. Each day is not promised to us but is gifted to us. And the greatest gift each year isn't under my tree. It's sitting in its jammies eating Pop Tarts with me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Winterhanakwanzamas!

We are killing Christmas.

Before you get your stocking in a bunch hear me out. You may be thinking that Christmas is alive and well! Why, we even start celebrating it in October now! The stores are adorned with lit up trees and jack-o-lanterns. This year one of the houses we trick-or-treated at already had their Christmas lights up. I was actually disappointed when they didn't hand out candy canes. Then we graze over Thanksgiving really quick so we can get to Black Friday and start threatening each others lives for a great deal on an iPod at 4:00am. Finally December arrives and houses are in fierce competition to have the best lights. It's neighbor against neighbor block after block! And don't forget the trip to see a grumpy Santa after an hour wait in line. Be sure to pay $20 for ONE picture of your child screaming while drunk Santa wrestles him into his lap for that perfect shot.

Speaking of Santa, how much longer do you think this beloved childhood memory will last? I think that when I was growing up it was easier to keep that belief going and keep it magical. But with TV, Internet and social media everywhere our children turn, the secret may be out sooner and sooner. When we were kids we saw one Santa at the mall. If we saw him on TV at all it most certainly wasn't HD so he could easily pass for mall Santa. Now there's Santas at each mall, pet stores, libraries, on the Internet, and in HD on your TV! Kids can tell that these are not the same guy! Bad news for mom and dad!

Yes! Aren't the Holidays grand?! Wait- that brings me to the next knife in the back of Christmas. It's Christmas people. The birth of Christ and all. How would you like it if on your birthday everyone had to say Happy Birthday to everyone else just to be fair? I'm not saying that we should ignore Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any of the like. I am saying that if your celebrate Christmas, you should be able to say "Merry Christmas" to whoever you like. Just as if some says "Happy Kwanzaa" to you, you wouldn't tell them they should say "Happy Holidays".

I worked in real estate property management for years and in accordance with Fair Housing we couldn't acknowledge ANY specific holiday. So I invented Winterhanakwanzamas. It's all your Holiday needs rolled into one. And it's a bit of a tongue in cheek salute to the absurdity of how P.C. we have become. Feel free to use it. I'm done with it. I'm not working this year so I'm gonna Merry Christmas the CRAP out of people!

There was a time when Christmas was about Jesus, friends, family, food and grattitude. But somewhere we lost it and it became about consumerism, competition, and it certainly has nothing to do with Jesus. I think this needs to change. So go out and let your Merry Christmas shine! Let's bring Christmas back to life!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hitting the bottle

This has been a year. For any of you that have been following my blog you know what I'm talking about. We started the year finding out we were expecting our third child (surprise!) and then 8 days later we lost my father in law suddenly and tragically. Just weeks after that we began our 23 week bed rest journey with a trip to the ER when I hemorrhaged and we thought I had lost the baby. After losing his father just weeks before my husband had to hear that he could lose me and/or the baby. Thankfully this was not the case. But that trip to the ER set off a series of events that kept us busy trying to keep our baby, our home, any form of insurance, and any last bit of sanity we had. You'd think that once our son was born the weight would be lifted but the hits kept coming when the baby & I were involved in a car accident caused by an under aged drunk driver. A few weeks after that I had surgery to have my gall bladder removed. Busy, Busy, Busy.

I'm, surprisingly, not complaining about any of this. I am grateful for each of these things as God has provided grace in each of these circumstances. My Pastor recently said that God does not give us our circumstances but rather He gives us the means to overcome them. A message I needed to hear this year and the truth in that statement is abundant. Now that we are past each of these circumstances I can see the lesson I learned in each. The strength we have gathered and the love that was provided to us by those around us so that we can survive it.

There is one exception. My father in law's death. Each of our other circumstances had an expiration date. Pregnancy ends with healthy baby. I'll find another job. Physical therapy heals the wounds from the accident. And surgery takes care of the bad gall bladder. But the sudden and extremely unexpected death of someone you love dearly is something that doesn't have an expiration date. It's something that we now have to learn to walk with. It will be with us forever. Especially my husband. His father was his best friend. They talked several times a week from across the country. We video chatted, emailed, texted, and visited regularly. My father in law was so excited about the new baby. He loved us and we loved him.

My husband was able to head to Tennessee right after it happened to help arrange the funeral and help settle affairs. And I am so grateful for that. But the issues with our pregnancy started so soon after that my husband refocused his energy and emotions. He was not going to lose me and the baby too. He spent the whole pregnancy tenderly caring for me and our other two boys. He cooked, cleaned, drove, attended appointments, disciplined, and held me when I cried. He was my hero. All of this kept his brain busy and he took all of the mourning for his father and stuck it in the bottle. Then after the baby was born healthy and strong, we got hit by a drunk driver and his focus stayed on us. More went into the bottle. Just as things were settling down I went in for surgery and my husband was left caring for me again. The bottle is getting pretty full.

Finally I recovered and I am able to help take care of our family and lighten my dear husband's load. But there's a few more things lurking around the corner. They say that the first year after a loved one dies, the survivors experience "The year of firsts". Between October 12 and Jan 23 my husband will have endured his 40th birthday, Veterans Day (his father was air force), Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, our son's 4th birthday, and finally the anniversary of his father's death. These will all be the first time my husband has faced these occasions without a phone call from his father. POP! The top is off the bottle!

So how do we navigate this? How do I ensure that I am the wife he needs me to be? How does he say goodbye to his father without feeling like he's letting him go? I feel as though each of our vows has been tested this year. But we will prevail. My husband was an amazing example of love and husbandry this year for me. So I will support him, cry with him, talk with him, listen to him, pray for and with him, and love him with everything in me. We will learn to walk with this. We will learn to live despite this. We will always love his father and each other. God is good and He will provide.