When Validation Is What’s Really Needed

validation

A scenario for you:

A new (or newish….sometimes not so new) mama says something along the lines of “this is so freaking hard!”…..

And someone might say something in response like “we’ve all been there!”.

And you sometimes think, was that supposed to be encouraging or make me just want to crawl into a corner and cry some more?

I say this because it is often times (not always, I know) followed up with statements such as “get used to it”, “it gets worse!” or “just wait until they’re teenagers!”.

There are more varied responses, I know. Those are just a sampling of what I’ve personally heard, or have heard others say to the new parent on the playground.

I do believe the intention is there to be encouraging, but sometimes those responses or “advice” statements seem to be opposite of that.

It kind of goes along with things like “sleep when the baby sleeps” (not that that’s all that bad of advice), and the “oh, enjoy this time because it goes fast!”.

And it so very much does. They are not lying. Being a mama of 4, the oldest and youngest two being ten years apart, I get it. You just blink and they are heading toward tweendom and buckle up! Because, holy moly!

I know….I know these 2 year olds are going to be there faster than I’d like, but I also know how very hard the early days/weeks/months….years….can be!

Absolutely, I have been a mama that has said “we’ve all been there” to a new/new-ish mama. And I have absolutely intended it to be encouraging….kinda like “we’ve been there, we totally get it. It’s hard”. But I have found myself in this season of life being more mindful of how I respond. I will often try to follow up the “we’ve all been there” with, “you are not alone, us mamas that have been there before get it, we’re here when you need to chat”.

Because, let’s face it, it’s freaking hard, this parenting thing!

I know I’ve been guilty in a quick response of saying “we’ve all been there”, only to wonder later, when someone has said it to me, if the person I’ve said it to before took it as encouragement, or just a “yeah, we’ve all been there…join the club!”.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve not found that entirely encouraging when dealing with tiny humans and feeling like I’m losing my mind. I have found myself wondering “I am supposed to just suck it up and deal with it? Am I doing something wrong? Why do I feel more alone than not?” And yes, there are times we definitely need to suck it up and deal with it. Life happens and you gotta roll with it.

What I have found helpful? When a fellow mama or, more seasoned than myself mama, has said “we get it. It’s hard….we’re here for you, you are not alone”.

Followed up with statements such as “and you are doing a fantastic job!”, doesn’t hurt either.

Sometimes? Sometimes a mama just needs validation that it’s HARD. And it’s okay to hide in the bathroom or a closet, or the pantry or laundry, with some chocolate and cry.

We have ALL been there at some point! And it helps soothe the rough day, even if just a little.

I think it’s easy to compare….to the mama that has 3, and you wonder why you’re having such a hard time with only one!

{by the way, I totally hate the word “only” when used like that….}

Or the mama with 2, three years apart, looking at the mom of twins thinking “and I thought I was having a hard day….I only have two, not the same age!”.

Or the mama with 3 that can’t figure out how that mom over there with 5 is managing so much better! She should be able to handle “only 3″…..

And it becomes easy for those thoughts of  “they’ve all been there, I just need to deal” to pop into our heads, making us doubt if we’re even cut out for the parenting thing.

You are. We are.

When I had an “only” for 8 years, I often doubted myself. Then I went from being a mom of ONE to a mom of FOUR in less than two years and I REALLY began to doubt myself.

Here is what I have learned….

When it is ONE, it’s hard because it’s all you’ve known. You are caring for a tiny human and they cry and are super needy and helpless in the beginning and you are just trying to figure this whole thing out! There was a time, when my oldest was itty bitty and I was crying, he was crying…it was bad. I looked at him and said, “I’m new at this whole mama thing, and I know you are new at this being in the world thing, so let’s bare with each other and figure it out together, k?”….I gave myself grace. I didn’t know it all and I had to learn a whole lot. I am STILL learning a whole lot since I am about to embark on the teenage years with that one.

When I had TWO? I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I was a brand new mama all over again, but this time through adoption to an almost 5 year old, that I’d missed the first 4 plus years of life with….talk about figuring things out! I’m still learning on that, too.

Then, SURPRISE! Add some twin babies to the mix and It was, again, like starting all over! I’d not had twins before, and they were new at this whole life thing!

I’ve learned that it’s OKAY not to have all the answers. And it’s okay to give yourself GRACE in the learning process and curve balls that will, absolutely, head your way.

So, fellow parents, will you join me in being more mindful and thoughtful in our responses to the new parents on the block?

I don’t know if you do resolutions or not, but this year I want to be more mindful, THOUGHTFUL, and intentional with how I speak or respond to others.

How about you?

 

 

 

Over Here In Between All That……Is Me. I Think.

In the current state of the stage of life I am in, I seem to fall somewhere in-between “I really want to look put together” and “I totally do NOT have my crap together, I’m a total mess”…..

Haven’t quite figured out where that somewhere is yet.

Coming out of the last two years of “twinfant turned twinadoe toddler” stage, and actually taken a breath and been able to keep my head above water for more than 3 seconds, I finally feel more like getting into jeans and a nice-ish {read, not covered in snot and goldfish crackers} t-shirt and maybe even some {gasp!} makeup and actually brush my hair out of it’s usual pulled back pony.

Now, let me say, I am a huge fan of my yoga pants. I love them. AND? I actually do workout in them…and then just keep them on, because: twin toddlers. For real.

However, in this wanting to be more put together when leaving the house, I almost feel like I’m TOO dressed by having some lip color and earrings in. And my kids notice…even the littlest littles. And then it makes me more self conscious, like, am I trying too hard here or something?!

Naturally, then I just totally overthink things. Because that is just totally WHAT I DO. It’s a terrible habit.

But then people notice I am wearing non snot covered, non sticky like clothing…..and then I think to myself, “so do I always look like a slob?”….cue that blasted overthinking again.

I want to look put together. But I don’t want to look like I care TOO much. But, I also don’t want to look like I am a completely ridiculous person who totally doesn’t have her crap together.

You get me?

Yeah. I know…I totally don’t have it all together. I’m not really sure I ever will.

Then there are those days that I am totally rocking it, lunches packed, homework signed, clean laundry for all my people, and actually have clean clothes on ME TOO. And it’s awesome.

Then other days, well, opposite of all that.

Balance.

Does this actually exist? Because I’m truly beginning to wonder.

{Le Sigh}

SO, I’m a little in between right now. Perhaps for longer than I wish. Also? Learning to except that sometimes it’s absolutely perfectly OK to not have it all together.

But I still want to.

How about you? You ever feel in-between the put together and not so much so? What do you find helps to balance it all out?

First Week of School Shenanigans….

First week of school shenanigans….err….recap.

No. Shenanigans.

Last week was our first week back to school. I know several that have already started back, and some that have yet to start…and we seem to be somewhere in the middle of all that.

So it was our turn.

It seemed to start off pretty good. I mean, except for the missing teacher packet deal and the potentially very scary backpack situation.

But, other than that, I felt we were SURE to be starting off right!

Hahahahaha….haha.

Apparently, the magical bus people that do the bus scheduling for the special needs bus, scheduled us twice. But, the second call said there was no drop off time listed….

It was too late on Monday (day BEFORE school) to call back by the time we’d gotten the message, so we figured we’d just check it out the next day.

My brilliant husband (no really…brilliant!) thankfully thought to ask WHAT school the bus was headed to.

WHA?? Hadn’t actually thought that it MIGHT BE TO THE WRONG SCHOOL!

(See? brilliant he is. SO smart. Me?….shh.)

A little backstory: she was transferred to a different school than last year, same district, so instead of the magical bus people communicating this to one another, they scheduled two different buses for the same child. Apparently, they are NOT so magical after all.

Bummer.

So, bus #1 was sent on it’s way WITHOUT our child. Bus #2….bus #2?

It never showed. We called. It was SUPPOSED to have picked her up. It did not.

(this is the part where we go Oh C R A P and shove two kids into the car, drop one off smidge early at middle school and then dash the other to her school)

Oh yeah. Middle School. My oldest’s FIRST DAY at Middle School.

::blink::blink::

I had planned this awesome breakfast and stuff. The babies slept in and I baked muffins for the Sunshine, and my oldest requested his favorite eggs.

I was TOTALLY going to be on this and make sending my kiddlings off to their first day of school AWESOME.

Instead, it was more like, quick! grab and apple and let’s jet!

(or something like that)

My husband (the really awesome brilliant one) was taking them, so I said “please, oh, please! DO NOT let the man child be LATE on his FIRST DAY!”.He promised and set off.

Texted me (from the parking lot. While parked. Not in a school zone…safety first you guys!) to let me know both big kids had been successfully dropped off ON TIME to their destinations.

WHEW!

By then, the littlest little were waking. I was enjoying my still hot coffee, letting them chat a bit, set my coffee down (that was one of my first mistakes…) and went up to get them.

First thing out my littlest littles mouth “my tummy hurts”…

Ohhhh

Clearly my twinnies didn’t want me to miss my bigs too much. Nope, they were so very thoughtful and decided to BOTH be sick.

Yes. Both.

By noon, both were sporting a fever, one with snottiness, the other with “tummy hurts”.

{End of productivity for the foreseeable future…}

Get a text from the husband saying drop off for Sunshine is going to be the same time as oldest child gets out of school. And since he did NOT want to take the bus the first day, this was going to be a bit challenging.

I can do this. Surely….maybe the magical bus people will drop off early like last year??

Maybe.

Just kidding….they were late and thankfully the hubby made it home to meet her bus while I took the not so feeling well twinnies to get their big brother.

Yeah. That was NOT the best plan. Remember “tummy hurts?” I will not go into great detail here, but she puked.

Twice.

My only child to have never tossed any cookies did so. TWICE. Once on the way there and once on the way back.

(I kinda lied about not giving details there, huh? At least you weren’t in the car with me…)

By the end of the day, I wasn’t quite sure if I should laugh or cry or both.

And that was only day one.

Day TWO:

correct bus shows up.

YAY!

Sent wrong lunch with wrong child

Boo!

Twinnies still not so great, make doctors appointments. Decide to take the missing sammie to child missing it on the way to take the twinnies to the doctor. Forget sammie.

{can I PLEASE get a do-over yet?!}

Decide there’s just enough time AFTER appointments to race home and get it to child at school JUST IN TIME for lunch.

Whew.

By day three, things were starting to even out. Twinnies were finally on the upswing and no other children caught whatever the viral bug from hell was.

That was, until Friday when mama got hit. Yes, me, I got sick.

Let’s just say, we were dragging across the finish of the last day of school….of only the first week.

I’m not even sure I want to look at this week yet. But, here it is…

Someone tell me that this means that this year is gonna ROCK. Like, that the harder the first day or week is, just means AWESOMENESS is right around the corner?

Where’s Fluffy Mommy?

I mentioned a while back that I signed up for a kickboxing session.

(and how I almost puked)

So, I did something crazy and signed up to KEEP GOING.

(I know. I think I’m crazy too)

They have this thing called “flex friday”, and I remembered when I was taking my oldest to basketball and jokingly said “hey, it’s flex friday! how is this?”, flexing my arm. He looked at me with this look of horror and was all WHAAA?

I said, “man, is it THAT bad?!” (meaning, I’m totally wimpy looking, right?)

He responded, “where’s my comfy mom?!”. I was thinking he’d lost his mind. What ever did he mean?

He said, “mom, you’re STRONG! I like my comfy mom…”

And it hit me. All the effort and work put into being healthy and making healthy choices and wanting to be a better example for my kids….and, honestly, they don’t care.

But not in a bad way. In a good way.

{And I’m no where as near to my personal goals as I’d like to be, but I am getting there. And I will in time, but meanwhile I love how much stronger I’m getting. And that is my main focus}

I know we’ve all heard it before, that being present and joining our kids and entering into their worlds is so important. And it absolutely is! That our kids don’t care what we look like and they just want us to be there with them. And they absolutely don’t care.

They just want us.

My kids love when I ride bikes and go to the park and splash along with them in the water at the pool. They want me to “watch mom!” a bazillion times while they jump in or off or climb or draw a picture. They like it when I take the time to read with them, to color with them, to PLAY and enter their world.

They honestly don’t care what mom “looks like”. They care that mom is there.

It got me to thinking back through my childhood. I don’t remember what my mom looked like. Not in the sense that we are seemingly always wondering ourselves (stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles, tanned or not tanned skin, what size our clothing label says….). I remember, before depression took over and my parents emotionally checked out on my sister and I, the times when my mom baked my favorite cake and would go swimming with me. I remember her teaching me tennis and going for jogs and bike rides. And that she had a red swimsuit.

I don’t remember what she looked like. I remember when she entered my world.

When DO we start noticing?

I think, for me, it was when I hit middle school age and learned what a size zero meant and looked like. When I learned that those things apparently matter.

Even then, I don’t think I ever noticed my mom for what size she was or wasn’t. I noticed when she was there.

So, it seems, my oldest notices too. Notices when mom is present. How often we go out on Mother/Son dates and when we get to watch the next season of Doctor Who. Notices when I’m listening and how often I make sure to add in his favorites when I’m meal planning.

Kids definitely notice. But they don’t seem to notice looks like we do.

My oldest daughter notices when I wear new earrings or a different color lipstick. My youngest daughter notices when I change the color on my nails and wants “some too!”. My boys seem to think I’m always pretty and tell me so, even when I’m having a “messy hair don’t care” kinda day. Hearing “mom, you’re awesome” and “HUG!!!” always makes this mama’s heart happy.

Something they all seem to care about the most? Mom being huggable and available.

I find it comical that here I am being concerned about what I look like or how I feel and my children are mostly concerned that mom is still “comfortable”.

I told my oldest, “I am still COMFORTING! And I’m not stopping kickboxing anytime soon”….

But I get it. I understand what he’s saying. And I can still “be comfy” and not necessarily fluffy.

And perhaps us mamas need to start seeing ourselves more like our children do. Not by shape or size or (insert whatever it is here), but by our being present, available and “comfy”. By entering their world and being their person.

It’s amazing how often I think I take for granted the job I have. The absolute importance of being their mama and what that means.

SO, let’s do it mamas (and dads). Through the tired, the late nights, homework assignments, early mornings, spilled coffee, special needs, therapy appointments, tantrums, meltdowns, hugs, kisses, cheering them on, our hearts breaking when they hurt, cooking dinner, packing lunches, sporting/dance/chess club (or whatever it is our kiddos do) events and ALL THE THINGS in between….let’s see us the way they see us….

Being present. Being available. Being comfy.

Being Still In Motherhood

Oh those days.

Those days where the baking bowls you need to make the muffins in are still in the dishwasher. Still crusted with whatever you made up in them last….because you forgot to turn on the dishwasher last night. Again.

The day you get a quick minute to sit, enjoy your hot coffee and try to knock out a blog post, only to open your laptop and it be dead. And you can’t locate the charger because your oldest child has moved it to a seemingly undisclosed location.

Days that force you to slow down and be still.

Days where you put your phone down and forget where you placed it….but it’s an hour later and you’ve filled that time with playing and giggles and slobbery toddler kisses, and you’re just now realizing you didn’t have your phone…

And you didn’t miss it.

Those days where your toddler wants to be held just a little longer before you put her down for nap.

Hold her. Snuggle a little longer.

Days where your kiddos are wearing you down until you’re running on fumes, but moments where they require you to slow down, be still and realize just how precious and short the seasons of childhood and motherhood are.

Savor them.

It does’t mean the days aren’t long and exhausting. It doesn’t mean you won’t be counting down the minutes until bed time….there will be plenty of those days.

But in the crazy busy that is life, let’s take those days where we can’t seem to make headway for what they are…days to slow down. Embrace the still. Savor the quiet little moments.

Be still in parenthood.

It’s so difficult, isn’t it? But especially in the hustle and bustle that is the holiday season, let’s encourage one another to slow down. To be less busy and more present with our families….without our heads buried in our devices….

Look up. Isn’t the glow of that Christmas tree beautiful? See how your littles marvel at all the twinkling lights and texture of the branches?

Don’t miss it.

 

Being THAT Mom at the Playground

So….I was THAT mom the other day at the playground.

THAT mom of THAT kid. The kid at school who sometimes has behavioral issues due to special needs.

My spunky little girl that I adore sometimes has some trouble navigating the social waters at school. It’s a challenge and we’re doing what we can to help. OT/PT/Speech…etc.

So, without going into major details, she simply has difficulty at times. Especially on the social front of things.

Yet, at the same time, whenever I walk to pick her up from school and we walk home together? At least three kids will stop and run over to hug her or shout a joyful HELLO! to her.

Clearly, she seems well liked.

The other day we decided to trek up to the park and play after school. As we got closer to the playground I could see a couple other moms and their kids there. I think I actually let out an audible sigh of dread. Sometimes these situations don’t work out well for my daughter.

I could see at least 1 or 2 kiddos were around Sunshine’s age. And as we walked towards the playground, the one child turned to her mother, pointed over at my daughter and I, just being in earshot, heard the words “mommy, thats the mean girl”.

::sigh::

The mother quickly hushed her daughter and looked my direction. I could tell she was hoping I didn’t hear. I did. It stung.

It was quickly awkward and there was no where to hide. What was said was said and what was heard was heard.

This is not the first time this has happened and I know it will not be the last.

I know children will be children. I know Sunshine will be Sunshine. But I also know her and see her and how amazingly far she’s come.

Sunshine is not intentionally mean. She has Sensory Processing Disorder (as well as a myriad of other things we’re still figuring out)and sometimes lashes out in situations at school. Specifically recess/PE/music. We’re working on putting strategies in place to assist her and help to prevent the meltdowns. But, regardless they happen and not everyone is understanding.

And I get it. I get why others find her difficult at times. I understand…I really do. I don’t like it when other children hit or shove my kids either.

Back at the park…..

Sunshine and my oldest boy ran over to the swings and played there for a bit. The other mothers chatted and I sat on one of the benches a little farther away. But I could not get far enough away to escape the awkwardness of the situation.

I was THAT mom of THAT kid and it hurt. I felt uncomfortable and alone on that bench just then. It was truly awkward.

Then something pretty amazing happened. The other little girl, on her very own, went over to my girl and asked to play together.

(truth be told, I was secretly worried she was going to run over and tell my kid off about some previous playground altercation…)

And off they went! Just like that.

They ran around and played on the swings and climbed on the monkey bars and all the things that kids do.

It was awesome.

I sometimes wish as adults we could act more like kids. Seeing through the complicated things and learning to see the person, not just their actions. I don’t know, somehow I think the world would be a much nicer place to play if we could all put on kid glasses and see the world a little less jaded. Don’t you think?

The Spring Break That Wasn’t So Much…

Last week was our spring break here. And oddly enough, it caught me completely off guard.

I know. How could I forget about spring break? A whole week of kids home. I’m supposed to make plans and things right??

Ha! Yeah. That didn’t happen.

What did happen was me saying something about school the following week and my oldest telling me there wasn’t any. Then me looking confused and him going “mom, it’s SPRING BREAK”.

Oh. That.

Then of course WE ALL GOT SICK.

We did. Well, all except my husband and oldest, thankfully. It started with the littlest, then it got the oldest girl, then my youngest boy…then me. Yay.

So, we started off our spring break sick. It was pretty miserable for all. And in the midst of all of it…we’re in the middle of chaos trying to get our house ready to sell.

I know. I KNOW!

{I’m pretty sure I MIGHT lose my mind trying to attempt this with 4 kids, two of them being twinfants}

Meanwhile….we had to go to the doctor. I won’t go into details about that because it ended up with one of my babies having ear issues and was all awful and tearful (mainly me) and just yuck.

BUT, in the waiting room with all six of us where it is likely we would draw a little bit of attention (because that is life apparently with 4 kids, 2 being twins…people stare. And ask lots of questions….)

There was this lady. She saw us, gasped, and my heart sank as she started coming towards us. I just knew it was going to be one of THOSE encounters….the kind we always get when we’re out and about.

Ya know, the invasive in your face “are they ALL yours?!?!” the “did you do IVF??” or the  “Wow….you sure have your hands FULL!”

But no. This lady did not ask or say any of that. Instead she started out with “You have such a beautiful family!”

What?! I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped. I wasn’t expecting such kindness. And I felt like crap, so theres that.

Then she went on to say “boy/girl twins? They are precious! What are their names?”

I said their names. And instead of getting the “wow, never heard that name (for baby girl), it’s so different (or odd or is that a color?)”…..nope. She said “wow, I LOVE it! What a beautiful name! And his so handsome”

I was in shock I think. Who WAS this woman? Then she went on to say “you must have a lot of fun at home! how blessed you are”.

I almost jumped up and hugged her and thanked her for such words. And I’m pretty sure I would have if she hadn’t been hobbling on crutches.

But seriously, SHE MADE MY DAY! I smiled wide and thanked her. I know she has no idea how much she blessed me and my family with her words. Encouraging beautiful words that this weary mama SO needed to hear on the that day.

So, spring break. It kinda stunk in the fun activities department, but the lady in the waiting room seriously helped reset my emotional and mental status for the rest of the week.

Seriously, if more people could have such encouraging words for others, I think the harder days would be made just a smidge brighter….don’t you think?!

{And thankfully we’re all on the path to being healthy once again.}