You can’t just “check out” of parenting!!

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I remember being a little girl with adorable little clothes, matching ribbons in my perfectly braided hair, and colored socks to go with every outfit I owned. I remember Friday night pizza and movies in the living room floor. I remember Sunday trips to Kmart for a new Barbie doll. I remember dinner at McDonalds on Halloween before trick-or-treating every year. Those are the things I think about when I reminisce on my childhood. Most of everything after that was just kinda “blah”!

See, like most kids in my time (and now for that matter), I grew up with divorced parents. I was raised by a single mom, living on welfare,  and only saw my dad 2 weekends out of the month. My mom was a great mom growing up. We had home cooked dinners every night, except for those nights mentioned above, and even some of those pizza nights were frozen pizzas because we didn’t always have the money for Papa John’s. My mom was there to cook breakfast every morning, even if sometimes it was just a quick bowl of oatmeal, and she was there to pick me up after school everyday. I never had to ride the bus, or go home alone, or go to daycare like many of my friends. She was ALWAYS at my school volunteering and went on every field trip! My mom was a really good mom…until one day she wasn’t!

I’m not really sure what happened or when it happened. I just remember realizing one day that although she looked like my mom and sounded like my mom, she wasn’t my mom. I’m not sure if it was due to the years of physical abuse that she suffered at the hands of her long-term boyfriend, or post-partum depression after the birth of my brother and sister, or my grandfather’s illness….I honestly don’t know, and I may never know, but I do know that one day something in my mom snapped and she was never the same! 

She became mean, hateful, and negative all the time! She was distant from everyone. She yelled…A LOT!!!! And she became selfish! She seemed to hate life, had no ambition, and just quit being there for me! I was a teenage girl who needed her mother, and she wasn’t there for me…EVER!! So I turned to other things to comfort me….cigarettes, boys, skipping school, and hanging out with some rough people throughout my high school years. I was so blessed that during my junior year of high school, I was saved by a great friend, who I eventually ended up dating! His family was wonderful to me! His mom invited me to dinner every night so that I didn’t have to go home and deal with that storm that was always there waiting. They, along with my dad, encouraged me to buckle down and finish school, and I did it with little to no encouragement from my mother, who I might add, was actually late to my graduation. 

After several years of being miserable, I physically couldn’t take anymore so the day I turned 18, I moved out! I just had to get away! I hated leaving my brother and sister behind to deal with it, but at the time, I had to! I moved out, got married, had kids, and yet still my mother hasn’t snapped out of it! She is still to this day, never there! She doesn’t come to my kids’ birthday parties, has never been to a Grandparent’s Day at school, doesn’t call to check on them, and we typically only hear from her when she wants something! I owe a lot to my dad and my step-mom. They have been there for me and the girls since day one and I don’t always give them the gratitude they deserve! 

You don’t just get to decide you’re done being a parent! You don’t just get to walk away from your kids when they need you! You don’t just get to “check out”! 

I honestly believe that my mother suffers from some serious mental illness, and my greatest fear is that she passed it on to me. So I have made it a goal of mine to make sure that my kids never know that pain…that they never know what it feels like to have a parent “check out” of your life. And that I can rise above the ashes of my seriously screwed up relationship with my mother. As for the possibility of this passing down to me, it is a huge possibility! Mental illness is something that can 100% be passed down to your children! The odds are most definitely not in my favor….but I’m a fighter and I’m stronger than those odds and I will beat it one way or another! My kids mean more to me than those odds! I wish that my mom had thought the same thing!

So supermoms, here is my thought for the day! Parenting is hard…..it is hard as shit! And I know that there are some days when we think “what in the hell am I doing?” But you can’t give up. You can’t just decide to quit being a parent. You may not be perfect and that’s ok! But seriously if you feel yourself losing it, get help…talk to someone, anyone! It doesn’t have to be a doctor…call up a friend and say “Life sucks and I need someone to talk to, bring wine and come over”. Just don’t “check out”! Your kids deserve their whole mom, not just part of her! You don’t have to be perfect…God knows I’m far from it. I cuss entirely  way too much, I’m unorganized as shit, and we eat a lot of crockpot meals and frozen pizza because I hate cooking, but I’m there and my kids know it! 

As for my mom, I hope one day she gets the help she needs and decides to be actively involved in our lives, but until then…I’m going to keep doing my thing and beat the odds! I refuse to “check out”!!

The Accidental Volleyball Mom

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When I pictured myself as a mom, I never imagined the crazy, yelling, referee hating, coaching from the sidelines kind of mom. I was a cheerleader. I never picked up a basketball, never swung a bat, never kicked a soccer ball…I cheered. So of course you can imagine my excitement when I discovered my first child was a girl. I couldn’t wait to put her in a uniform, stick some pom poms in her hand, put a big bow in her hair, and re-live my childhood all over again. I couldn’t wait to get her in the gym and snap pictures of her newest tumbling achievement. You can also imagine my huge disappointment when my adorable, gorgeous, sweet little girl insisted on playing with hot wheels instead of barbies, wouldn’t let me brush her hair half of the time, let alone put a bow in it, and would rather use my old pom poms as a broom to sweep the floor of her imaginary house instead shaking them while yelling “Go Team Go”. I had lost her to the dark side.

I think my saddest day was when I took her, at the small age of 4, to sign her up for recreational cheerleading, and while standing in line, she looks over at the boys practicing football on the field, and said “Can girls play football mom? Can I do that instead of cheer?” It was that moment that I stopped attempting to make her into the diva I thought she was supposed to be. It was that moment that I decided to let her choose her own path. Her path, however, was full of surprises. She was never quite satisfied and tried several different things, all of which she ended up hating. We started with a dance class…she hated the tutu and said the leotard went up her butt.Then we moved on to a season of tee-ball. She liked it, except for the running, the getting out, the paying attention, and having to stand still in the dugout. Ok, let’s be honest. SHE HATED IT!! I’m pretty sure she caught more butterflies than balls and only participated because I bribed her with snow cones after each game if she did. That was her one and only season. Then we moved on to soccer, 4 seasons of soccer to be exact. I thought she had finally found her thing. WRONG!! One soccer ball to the face and a slight bloody lip and she was finished…and those darn butterflies again. Then she wanted to try dance again, but this time she wanted to learn hip-hop dance…no frilly tutus involved and no leotard wedgies. Nope…her coordination didn’t make the cut!  After that we decided that perhaps her thing just wasn’t sports. She insisted on trying art, so we signed her up for an art class. She was actually quite good, I mean she was no Picasso, but she had some talent. Eventually her talent and her attention span began to clash…the attention span won.

Then middle school came. She came home one day all excited because she heard about the upcoming tryouts for the middle school volleyball team. I’m not going to lie, I blew it off at first. I thought “Just one more thing for her to hate”, but I eventually caved and agreed to it. After all, she did come from a long line of past volleyball players (not me, remember I was the cheerleader). Her grandmother and 3 aunts had all played in high school, so I thought at least she would have someone to teach her a little about it. She tried out for the middle school volleyball team, but unfortunately did not make it. She was devastated and my heart hurt for her. She wanted this, and I wasn’t really sure why. She never cared this much about any of the other things she had tried. So I researched. I found a recreational volleyball league and we signed her up. Her first practice, she stepped on that court, and I saw it. I saw her passion, I saw her determination, and I saw this spark in her that I had never seen before. She found it…she found her thing. And just like that, I was a volleyball mom.

After a fall and spring season of rec volleyball, she stepped back in that middle school gym for tryouts the next year. She made it!! So here I am, as we prepare for this season’s games, which start in just a couple of weeks, being that mom I never thought I would be. The crazy, yelling, referee hating, coaching from the sidelines kind of mom. I find myself surfing the web for the newest volleyball shirts (for me and her) and sporting a volleyball magnet on the back of my car (along with a megaphone decal for one of my other girls, I knew I would get at least one).

I never even knew volleyball was a big thing, let alone ever imagine that I would be part of it. But there I am, every weekend, making sure we remembered to bring her knee pads and tennis shoes, taking pictures and screaming at the refs that the ball wasn’t out, and lecturing her on how much better her serve could have been (and jumping for joy when her serve is great).

Moral of the story…honestly there is no moral to this story. Other than me realizing that my already chaotic, busy life is about to get busier now that volleyball season has started again. Thank God for coffee and wine, right?

Stay strong “Super Moms”….we got this!

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Why I Let my 11 Year Old “Date”

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The times…they are changing! We are in the era of iPhones, social media, and a packed full schedule of extracurricular activities! And children are growing up so much faster then they used to. You walk through the halls of your local middle school and you see 11-12yr old girls with faces full of makeup and every corner you turn there is a kid with a phone in their hand! Another big thing with kids today, dating, or what they consider “dating” anyway! 

Confession time…I am that mom that most of you hate, most of you criticize, and most of you question. I am that mom that takes her 11yr old daughter and her little boyfriend on “dates”. Let me explain it…let me give y’all a little background. When my oldest daughter was finishing her 5th grade year, she developed a crush on a little boy she knew. I discovered through her texts, yes my 5th grader had a phone (you can save that criticism for another one of my blog posts)…but through her texts I discovered they were in fact boyfriend/girlfriend. As a mom of daughters I was hurt that she didn’t feel comfortable enough with our relationship as a mother and daughter to come and tell me she had a boyfriend. From day one I wanted an open relationship with my daughters. I wanted a relationship where there were no secrets, where my daughters would know that no matter how difficult things were they could always talk to their mama, where they knew that mama always had their back.  I wanted them to know that honesty with your parents was always the best policy, regardless of how much trouble you might get in! But more than anything I didn’t want my daughters to ever feel scared or uncomfortable to come to me…I didn’t want them to feel like they ever needed to hide anything from me. At that moment I felt like I had failed my daughters. I confronted her about the boyfriend and explained to her that she didn’t have to hide it….I was once a 10yr old girl and there was nothing that she was going to go through that I hadn’t already been through myself! After our talk she asked if the little boy could accompany us on an upcoming visit we had planned for Dollywood. It took a lot of convincing on my husband’s part…A LOT!!! But together we decided that this wasn’t something that we needed to make a big deal about. If we treated it like a big deal, it would become a big deal and she would continue to feel as though she needed to hide things from us. We agreed to allow him to go and it wasn’t as bad as we thought! It was that moment that we realized what “dating” meant to a 10yr old kid. To them it meant thinking a boy or girl was cute and wanting to hang out with them. They were more like best friends than a couple. What started out as a “crush” turned into a year long thing. A year in which, not only did they become closer as friends, but I became friends with his mom as well. During that year they went on completely chaperoned “dates” to the movies, the pool, JumpJam, the fair, a concert, and so much more, including a weekend camping trip that our family took with his family (in separate tents of course). They eventually did break up and of course it was tough, but everyone involved survived, including his mom and I.

My middle daughter…same situation. She is 11 now and has had a boyfriend for a little over a year. They too go on chaperoned “dates”….McDonalds, Mr. Gatti’s, skating, the movies…I promise it isn’t as bad as people think. I don’t drop her off alone, in a dark theatre, with some random boy and say “have fun”. Either myself or his mom are ALWAYS there.

So why do I do this? Well let’s start with trust. I 100% trust my daughters and until they give me a reason not to, I will continue to trust them. Secondly, today’s generation is so much different than ours was. I want my daughters to experience life, to a reasonable degree, including heartbreak. I don’t want to ever be the reason they are held back from the experiences that every other kid has and needs in order to grow into the adult that they want to be. I’m not at all saying that I want my kids to think that they need to do something just because everyone else is doing it. I’m saying that as long as it’s a reasonable request and isn’t going to harm them or anyone else, there isn’t a whole lot that my kids aren’t allowed to do. And note that I said reasonable. My husband and I are open-minded parents, but we also know when to put our foot down and step in to intervene in what is going on if need be. We do have common sense and we do care about what’s best for our kids, so if we don’t like the idea, then we say “no” to it and the discussion is over. Finally, honesty! As I said before I want my daughters to know that no matter what is going on, they can come to their parents for advice and guidance. We may not like all of their decisions, but we want them to be able to talk to us about them. I don’t want them to ever feel the need to hide anything from us, including boyfriends. When I was growing up, if I had even mentioned that I thought a boy was cute, I would have been grounded for life! So I hid my boyfriends until I got my first serious one at 15yrs old. And thats not how I want to raise my daughters…I don’t want to scare them to the point that they feel like they have to sneak around. It will start with the hiding of little things like the fact that they have a boyfriend, and then lead to hiding more serious things like smoking, drinking, and drugs! 

Fact is, we were all kids once. So therefore, we all know that kids are going to have crushes and boyfriends or girlfriends, whether we give them permission or not. You wouldn’t believe the kids that have told my daughters that they aren’t even allowed talk about boys.  Seriously?!?! Why?!?! It’s part of growing up. Let me fill you all in on a little secret. Your kids are going to think that other boys or girls are cute…that’s just a fact and you can’t stop them from thinking that. You did at that age too and if you say you didn’t, you’re lying!! It is completely and 100% normal at that age for them to have crushes. The difference between your kid and my kid, my kid tells me about their crushes…and other kids’ crushes too. I know all the tween gossip…who is dating who, who likes who, and who just broke up with who. I get told by people all the time “I can’t believe you let your daughter have a boyfriend” and I want to look at them and say, “Guess what, your’s does too, but you don’t know about it because they are too scared to tell you!” Some of those people may be reading this post right now. My best friend even doubted me once before and told me I was crazy. Then she found out her daughter also had a “boyfriend” and she realized that I was right. They are going have crushes and boyfriends or girlfriends, whether you “let” them or not. You can’t control their emotions. Instead you should be more understanding of their age and talk to them. That way when they get their heart broken, they will come to you for a shoulder to cry on and support, instead of crying alone in their bedroom feeling confused! 

I know this was a long post and I’m sorry! Nothing prompted it, it’s just something that has been weighing heavy on my mind a lot. I see so many of my girls’ friends on social media talking negatively about themselves and being depressed over a boy and I can’t help but wonder if their parents have a clue. Do those girls have anyone that they feel like they can talk to? Do they have a support system to guide them? And sadly, for most of them, the answer is no because they are scared to talk to their parents about things. Come on…talk to your kids people! Even if it is just sometimes boring, lame 5th grade drama…listen to them, offer advice, and stay involved! You are the best support system your kids could ever have because you have been through all of the same experiences. Help them! Don’t just be there to tell them what to do and not to do…and don’t jump at the chance to discipline them when they don’t do it your way. Help them find their path. We all know this is probably the scariest age, for the kids and the parents, and your kids need you now more then ever. So try to be a little more understanding!

Elf On The Shelf

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Ok super moms, we all either have one or know someone who does…those creepy little elves that show up around this time and blow up our Facebook new feeds from now until Christmas. We have one too…Jingle! Jingle came to us in 2012 and has been into a lot of mischief ever since! That weird little elf has brought my girls so much joy over the past 3 years and has brought me so much stress…from remembering to move it every single night to cleaning up his messes! I mean seriously….how did the people who came up this elf think this was a good idea! Did they sit there and think “Hey let’s design an elf with the craziest eyes that always seem to be staring at you and the creepiest smile you have ever seen and then use him to scare children into behaving for fear that Santa may hear from the elf about their behavior!”? Really?!?! And that sounded like a good idea? And let’s not forget that the elf is supposed to be a reminder to the kids to behave, when in fact he gets into more mischief than they do!

Why do we do it? Why as parents do we help this elf make mounds of messes in our house, knowing that WE have to be the ones to clean it up the next day? Why do we allow this creepy little elf into our home? The answer…magic! Because although some of us may hate that annoying little elf, our children love it and the magic that comes with it! The elf, along with Santa, help remind us of how fun and magical being a kid is. I have a middle schooler who makes it very clear that she is too old now for this magic, but still plays along with her sisters and helps keep the magic alive for them! 

So what made me suddenly decide to write a post about those weird little creepy elves? Well after anxiously awaiting Jingle’s arrival for days, my girls were thrilled to see that he finally made his first appearance of the season yesterday morning! All was well up until last night when my youngest suddenly began crying hysterically and panicking at bedtime over this stupid elf! Jingle has been a part of this family for 3yrs now and she has never been afraid before, but now suddenly she is terrified of him! I asked her why and her reply was “I never thought about it before, but I realize how creepy he is now. I mean come on mom, don’t you think it’s a little creepy that he gets up and walks around our house at night after we go to bed? It is weird! Oh and he ate my candy cane last year off the tree!” So after almost an hour of this, I agreed to call Santa and have him come back to get Jingle! 

This morning she woke up and asked if Jingle was mad because she sent him back! We sat down and read the story that came with Jingle when he first came to us in 2012. We talked about how Jingle wasn’t here to hurt or scare anyone…he was here to help spread Christmas cheer! So after some consideration, she agreed to give the elf another chance. So tonight Jingle will return and hopefully it will go smoother than last night! We shall see!

So, even though I too think that little elf is strange and creepy looking, the magic will continue! Not because I want to scare and torment my kids, but I want to help them believe in things they cannot see! I want to help them use their imaginations and sense of wonder! And most importantly, I want them to be able, in today’s world where kids are forced to grow up WAY too soon, to remain little and innocent just a little longer!!

And that my fellow super moms is why I will continue to torture myself with the elf every night for the next month…I may need to stock up on wine!

  

“That” Mom

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“That” mom…we’ve all seen one…at the school, the grocery store, birthday parties…they are everywhere! They are easy to spot…the are typically the ones running around like the energizer bunny, doing for everyone else without a second thought, looking so happy and full of life. Yep, we’ve all seen them…those so-called “super moms”…looking like they have it all together!

Confession time….I’m one of those moms, or at least that’s what I’ve been told! I literally go from sun up to sun down, nonstop, everyday! I drink my morning coffee in the car on the way to drop off kiddos at school, because I have no time in the morning, and let’s be honest…there is no way I’m getting up any earlier than I have to, it’s just not going to happen! So…yea, I drink my coffee on the go, all the time, and I am usually, ok always, late to wherever it is I’m going! I shuttle kids from activity to activity to activity, all while squeezing in time for 2 jobs and finishing my college education! I have 3 girls, all involved in different activities, that usually practice on the same days, often at the same time! My husband works insanely crazy hours sometimes and we never know from day to day whether or not he will be available to help. My life runs on chaos, nonstop, loud, busy, unorganized chaos! I get asked all the time “How do you do it?” I always shrug my shoulders and reply with “Oh I got this!” when really my reply should be “I have no freaking idea!” I go to bed often wondering “How in the hell did I just pull today off?” Which is exactly what inspired me to start this blog, well that and the fact that my kiddos lead a more interesting life than me and I could probably write an entire book about the crazy antics of my daily life!

My goal for this blog is to show everyone that just because we so-called “super moms” seem to have it all together, we in fact often struggle with keeping our sanity and trying not to let others see that struggle. I was that way…we all are. We don’t want to appear defeated or tired. We hate asking for help because, well because we are super moms and super moms don’t need help. We hate saying no when asked to help others or volunteer our time because, well once again because we are super moms and we can do it all! And most importantly we hate to admit when we need a break, when we have exceeded our limit. I have locked myself in the bathroom and cried more times than I can count because of how overwhelmed I felt and hiding in the bathroom is the only way to prevent my kids from seeing their mom go bat shit crazy!

So-called super moms aren’t perfect and admitting that is completely against everything we believe in. I would almost bet that everyone of us, after finally getting home at night, have a glass of wine and think “Hell yes I did it again…like a boss!”

So throughout this blog you will see me rant, you will see me laugh, and sometimes you will see me cry. I will sometimes share a story of something crazy one of my kids either said or did that day and then sometimes I will complain about something my kids either said or did that day. This isn’t a blog to show how perfect of a mother I am, because I’m pretty sure that I’m screwing it up somewhere. This blog is actually the complete opposite. It’s to show how even those “super moms” want to pull their hair out and shout the F-word a thousand times a day…at least, if not more! We don’t have it all together….and it’s ok to admit that! It took me 12yrs to finally admit it and start asking for help from time to time….I don’t do it often, but I have learned when my limit has been exceeded! I hope more than anything that I can at least get some of these other so-called “super moms” to see that they aren’t alone…we all secretly want to hide in the closet and get wasted! And maybe through my stories, rants, and discussions I can make them smile and think “I can get through this day…I got this!”

Have a good day super moms! You’re glass of wine will be waiting on you when you get home!