Category: Mommy Wars

The Let Down of A Not So Perfect Halloween

I know Halloween is over and we are already on to Christmas and that in between holiday known as Thanksgiving. So, why am I still going on about Halloween? Well, I learned a lot about how driven I am as a mom to make perfect memories at every holiday. And by perfect I mean making my family look like everyone else’s. As in going to all the same parties and activities. Navigating the social scene as a parent is way different for me than it was for my parents. I wrote this the weekend before Halloween when the pressure was high to get in on all of the festivities at once.

My how times have changed since I was a kid. We got dressed up for one party in a costume that my mom made from things we found around the house, and we hit one neighborhood for candy. We got what we got and we liked it. We didn’t complain! Not even when we were forced to pick up a penny with a fork (some adults idea of a good time on Halloween). Now it seems there are parties everywhere from church parking lots, to your local library to main street businesses. It is almost overwhelming to choose the perfect party to attend so that you don’t miss out on the fun. I’m an adult with a full case of FOMO (fear of missing out). I can only imagine how the hoopla at every holiday makes a kid feel! I don’t want to be the only one not posting my pics of free swag, or fun stuff we picked up at some party. I don’t want to be the only parent sitting on the sideline from having a fun filled day and making warm, perfect memories for us to rummage through in ten years. But I am.

Our weekend plans did not happen; mostly because they were only MY plans. No matter how much fun I threw at my kids this weekend they were not having it. One kid wanted to go to the pumpkin patch, the other kid didn’t and neither kid wanted to walk in a parade. My kids hate crowds and really noisy places. All of the fun things required us to join a mass of strangers and make things, or dress in a costume to ask for candy. I thought these all sounded like great ways to participate in Halloween. No one in my family felt the same way. And honestly, it felt a little soul sucking. I am not much of a homebody. I like to be home now and then to relax from the hustle and bustle of being social. I love the feeling of being out of the house all day enjoying time with friends, being outside and enjoying new experiences. But that is not how my kids are hardwired, and frankly neither is my husband.

Very early in the day on Saturday I became completely frustrated and about to throw in the towel on having a fun weekend making memories when my kids totally surprised me. One kid pulled out a bag of Halloween crafts we had yet to finish, while my other kid asked her dad to cue up the Halloween play list. Then a kid suggested,” why don’t we make some goody bags for our friends and teachers at school? We definitely have enough of these crafts to share! “And so the project began. When I looked up from my stickers and pom-poms I could see my kids rockin’ out and jamming along to the Munster’s them song, jumping up to dance to Thriller and completely enjoying themselves. This is their element- being at home.

By Sunday I gave up on getting us out of the house to participate in festivities. I left to go grocery shopping and returned to a fully decorated house, “they insisted” my husband reported. There were all their favorite hand print pumpkins hanging about and they hung the Halloween garland I completely forgot about. As I unloaded the groceries my daughter asked me if we could make an apple pie with the apples still left from her school apple picking trip. “Sure,” I said.

Again someone cranked up the Halloween tunes and we got to rockin’ in the kitchen, all of us together as a family. It was literally like a scene from a movie depicting an exaggerated picture of family togetherness. My daughter was singing into her wooden spoon in between stirring, my other daughter was busting out some dance moves on the spot, while I hummed away at peeling the apples. My husband dutifully played his part as the bumbling dad trying to make everyone laugh with his (not so) cool moves. It was … perfect. It wasn’t what everyone else was doing that weekend. But it was what we were doing… together. And when everyone is trading their cookie cutter weekend stories, we’ll be sharing memories that are uniquely our own.

How do you let go of the feelings of missing out on special things during the holidays?

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Perfection Is Not a Place To Live

 

The other morning was really rough. My kids didn’t want to get out of bed and I was getting really impatient. I may have blown my top once or twice and barked some commands. Of course I always feel like a jerk after. In my defense motivating my one daughter out of bed in the morning can take up most of our morning routine. When she wakes up in a grumpy mood it makes the morning even harder.

What made this particular morning so rough was during our heated exchange she shouted back at me, “you just want everything to be perfect!” It literally caught me off guard. My kids can tell me they hate me and it rolls right off my back, but this hurt. I think it hurt because I work really hard to let go of expecting things to be perfect or pushing things to be perfect. I mean I only write a blog about letting go of perfection, so I MUST be an expert already right?

But she is right. Old habits die hard. I can’t escape how I am hard wired to be any more than she can escape her hatred of mornings. We have several home projects that need to be finished before winter; I have a house to manage and a few blogs to write each week, plus all that pesky meal planning and laundry to do. I try to stick to segmenting my time for each thing I need to manage. As a result I can seem a bit like a drill sergeant because I EXPECT this will get done in the exact amount of time I have allotted for it. That would be a symptom of perfection by the way.

If only life were that neat and tidy.

Last night I decided to loosen the reins a bit with our evening routine. I am also exhausted from the constant running around and finishing things, so I called it a make your own sandwich night for dinner, which seemed to make everyone happy. I know I was happy to not spend my time cooking something no one would eat! Then we put on some tunes and chatted through dinner.

After dinner my husband agreed to make the lunches while I sat down to play a board game with the kids. I am always rushing to make lunches and getting two kids showered – usually at the same time. So getting to take a break from that was simply amazing. My girls and I spent 30 minutes rolling in laughter because we just caught a case of the sillies. And it was exactly what we needed. You can’t script those moments and when my kids look back on their childhood they will remember it wasn’t perfect, but it did have perfect moments like this.

The night time routine was a little easier, no one kept fighting for more attention and both kids drifted off to sleep easier. Best of all there was zero yelling in the morning before school. It seems unplugging from the race to keep everything in order and on time was exactly what I needed to do. I can’t say I won’t get caught up in it again, because I am hard wired with a drive for perfection. But maybe now I can recognize it sooner and let go of it much quicker. That’s always my goal anyway.

It’s funny how when I think I’ve got this perfection thing licked, or under control, my kid will make sure to remind me that I’ve gone off the rails. Thanks for keeping me on track kid, and thanks for helping mommy grow!

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Picture Day Revelation – I’m Nailing This Mom Thing

This year I had the chance to volunteer for picture day at my kids’ school. My last school picture day was over 20 years ago, so it was fun to reminisce. The kids were all so cute and so nervous. I took my role very seriously. Not one kid was getting away with a crazy alpha top on my watch!  I hear you parents complaining on Facebook…”who lets a kid take a photo with their hair sticking up like that?” Not me I can assure you!

My motive for volunteering was purely selfish:  I wanted to spy on my kids. They are in a different school than last year and I wanted to see how they were doing with the change. By now some of you may realize from my posts, that I am blessed with two kids who walk to the beat of their own drums. They are amazingly strong willed and super smart. They can negotiate their way out of anything and school me in critical topics like how the dinosaurs really became extinct, and reason why there should be a first kid to walk on the moon. They take a very heavy stand on these subjects by the way.

Having strong willed kids isn’t easy. I have learned to pick my battles and when to draw the lines, but it is rarely met with a tone of acceptance. Every tiny decision my kids make can take on an entire discussion of its own. Very early on I had to embrace the fact I have zero power when it comes to my kids clothing choices. They have insisted on picking out their own clothes since they were two years old. One year at preschool drop off a parent took one look at my daughter’s outfit and gasped, “I thought wacky Wednesday was next week?!” It was. But my daughter was going through a heavy stripes phase and wore all of them at once that day. No amount of arguing or even gentle nudging was going to change her mind.

Thankfully, school picture day has never been a battle for us. I already know it’s a fight I am going to lose. So I let my kids wear whatever outfit they want to have their youth immortalized in.  I’m prepared for some crazy colors, a demand for accessories, or an oddly placed hair bow. But those aren’t things that will scar them for life so I let them pass. This year my girls did not disappoint. My oldest twin decided she was wearing a hot pink shirt emblazoned with a Batman Symbol, and my youngest twin landed on a Shopkins t-shirt. She liked the colors. I liked that it was still a passable shade of white, and it was stain and wrinkle free. (Those are my set standards for most of their outfits).

Fast forward through picture day and I see kids wearing all different things. Some boys are wearing t-shirts and some boys are wearing ties. Some girls have GIANT sparkly bows and bling and some girls are wearing mini semi-formal dresses (but not one girl wearing Batman). What I realized at the end of the day is that not many of the girls (and some of the boys) were wearing the kind of headstrong confidence my girls were. They were asking their friends to validate if they were pretty enough for their photo, or if their outfit looks cool enough. These youngster were so worried about what their peers think of their physical appearance, or if their parents will approve of their photos. I assured each kid they have a great smile, and that their hair is perfectly in place before handing them off to the photographer. As I watched my girls step into place in front of the camera, with a wide confident smile that declares, “This is me!” I let myself be proud. My girls already know how to be true to themselves and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Some days living with two independent and persistent 6-year-olds can be exhausting. But it pushes me to grow in ways I never expect.  Today, I let myself be proud of how far I’ve come in letting go of making everything perfect. There is more to this mom thing than keeping the kids clean and making them wear outfits I chose for them. Raising good humans is hard work. Tears will be shed during this process. Voices will escalate and doubts cast upon my abilities. But when I catch a glimpse of how free my kids feel when they are allowed to be themselves- when I catch them truly liking themselves – that’s where I’m nailing it. Raising little humans who are secure with their own person-hood has been my mission from the start. And it only took a couple of t-shirts on picture day to remind me of that.

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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When You Have a Less Than Perfect Summer

 

You probably saw this meme (or some version of it) pop up in your news feed. All moms start out excited for the laid back summer months and with wide eyed optimism declare that this will be the BEST summer ever! We make “summer bucket lists” and plan big magical vacations. We hit the ground running with so much enthusiasm that if it were a ball it would choke a horse. Then we run out of crafts, take all the trips, the kids eat all the good snacks and we lose every ounce of patience. That’s when the count down to school drop off begins again.

I had a very simple (perfect) plan for this summer. The girls would attend a summer program for six weeks. And in that six weeks I would complete every neglected home project, automate my blog posts, organize all my meals and buy all the school supplies. I’d be so far ahead of the game come September I’d be taking time off for massages and pedicures! All those perfect plans came to a screeching halt when I got the call the night before our summer program was scheduled to begin that it is cancelled. Also cancelled are my hopes and dreams. I do not have a plan B. There is no plan B when you already have a perfect plan A. All the slots for other camps are either taken or we cannot afford them. As a result I am left scrambling. I quickly realize I got this, I’ll just keep doing what we do every summer. I schlep, the kids whine. It’s how we do.

Except this summer. 

 

 

 

This summer I decided to embrace this less than perfect plan. Not because I am #blessed with one more summer with my kids. Not because I am going to turn this around and still make it the #bestsummerever. I decided to embrace the chaos this summer because I am tired. Just so darned tired of holding us all together. Holding my household together and holding my blogging life together. I’m just plain tired. And ya know what? So are my kids. They are tired of my drill sergeant antics pushing them out the door to be perfectly on time for activities. They are tired of getting in the car every single morning to venture off to someplace they did not pick, or to go do a craft they could care less about. None of these activities are for them. They are for me.

I chose to be a stay at home mom nearly 7 years ago (it was supposed to be only 1 year. Another plan that didn’t go accordingly). It has taken nearly all 7 years to discover my kids and I are different people. I just sort of assumed we are a package deal. We spend so much of our waking hours (sometimes our sleeping hours) together that we call ourselves, “the three amigas!” It never occurred to me until this summer that we are nothing alike. We have much in common, but we are so completely different. I am extroverted and I need people. My kids are introverts and they need to be home. Staying home too long can drive me crazy. And so I plan things to do outside the house and force my kids into all kinds of activities. I scream. They cry. We all cry. Rinse, lather, repeat.

 

 

It’s now August. I’ve embraced this chaos for a month which feels like much longer. As a result I made zero blog posts for July. I have made zero business contacts and I have only completed 0.02% of my home projects. We haven’t done very many crafts and we skipped taking a summer vacation. But we have a (bitty) pool and a new basket ball hoop. I’ve read two books and I took an overnight getaway to the beach with a friend. The kids are happier picking out their own daily activities which typically includes playing in the back yard, pool time and playing video games or watching TV. The biggest ventures away from the house have been berry picking, visiting our library and meeting friends at the park.

My memories of summer include TV watching, making up my own things to do and spending time with my friends. My childhood is probably the last time I had any unstructured down time. Kids grow up fast. They won’t remember all the museums we visit, or all the hotels we stay in. But they will remember the tranquil feeling of swinging for hours under their favorite tree in the back yard.

I am enjoying watching them play and reading for myself again. For my extrovert time I escape to dinners with friends, or I invite friends over for dinner more and I make completely un-necessary Target runs. No camps. No travels. No big events. Just “the three amigas” enjoying being their own less than perfect people. Maybe this is the perfect summer after all.

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

 

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Defining Moments In Parenting Not Found on Social Media

Easter will be here in two more days. That’s when the slurry of pictures crop up on social media and the judging starts. Not that we are judging others because we are Whatever Moms, and Whatever Moms don’t judge other parents right? But how often are we judging ourselves? We wonder if our efforts stack up to be enough compared to everyone else’s. We start to compare how we show our love and measure it against how other parent’s show theirs. Maybe you’ll see pictures from a mom who handmade her kids baskets, or a mom who made all her kids candy from scratch, or maybe from a dad who assembled a bike for his kids. Now you are looking at your offerings with scrutiny and worry it’s not enough.

I’ve been there. Actually I’m there right now. I haven’t even started shopping for my kids baskets yet. I have a working idea of what I want to put in them. There simply wasn’t enough hours in the day this week to sneak away to buy everything. We were busy enjoying our break and having fun. We spent our days outside in the sun and taking each of our kids on special date days. Now I’m feeling the time crunch and I see all these pictures of great baskets popping up in my news feed. I’ve even posted a blog for “non-candy” ideas and yet, I have not picked up anything for my kids’ baskets. Does this mean I love my kids less? Nope.

The defining moments of being a parent do not come neatly packed with pretty bows and delivered on time. The material things we supply our kids with do not reflect how much we care. Being a loving parent happens when your kid dumps an entire glass of milk across the table and you don’t scream at them. You calmly help them sop it up with a towel and explain it’s OK accidents happen. Even if it is the third time in the same meal. There’s nothing pretty, or neat about that. Love for our kids shows up in the every day moments when we bandage up the scraped knees, or teach our kids hitting isn’t nice. None of those things are unwrapped once a year with eager anticipation. When our kids grow up they will look back at how much fun they had during the holiday, but that holiday fun won’t be what defines how much we love them. Our value as a parent can’t be counted out in exquisitely colored Easter eggs and giant baskets of gifts.

So, as we head into the Easter weekend know that everything you have to give is enough. All the time you spent pouring over the details of kid baskets and the meal you’ll prepare is enough. Being present with your children is enough. Set aside the worry and self doubt and just know you are enough.

Happy Easter All, and if you do not celebrate Easter Happy Weekend All!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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My Very First Podcast on Lose The Cape

I am so excited to share my very first pod cast with all of you! Not only because it was so much fun to record, but I have been a fan of the Lose The Cape blog for a long time! I interviewed with co-creator Alexa Bigwarfe who is a funny, busy mom to three kids. Alexa is also a published author, an advocate for women and families, AND we share a lot in common with our motherhood philosophy- there is no such thing as perfect!

Thank you Alexa for making this a really fun experience! I hope all of you enjoy listening as much I enjoyed recording this!

 

 

Feel free to comment below about the pod cast, or leave some tips on calming the chaos of a busy life!

 

 Alexa Bigwarfe is a freelance writer and author. Alexa co-authored the book “Lose the Cape: Realities from Busy Modern Moms and Strategies to Survive” (losethecape.com) published in Spring 2015. Her #losethecape philosophy as a mom is based on the idea that we are all doing the best that we can as moms, and should be encouraged in motherhood. She also edited and published a book for grieving mothers entitled “Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother” and has been published in several anthologies, including “The Mother of All Meltdowns,” and “The HerStories Project,” and “Mothering Through the Darkness.” She launched her writing with the the blog No Holding Back, as an outlet for her grief after the loss of one of her twin daughters to Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). She can be followed on Facebook  and Twitter (@katbiggie).

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Moms, You Won’t Ruin Your Kids If You Don’t Celebrate Every Holiday

I’m sure by now you have read a post or two written by moms asking, “Am I the only one that doesn’t need to go over the top for EVERY holiday?” I see it in nearly every one of my Facebook mom groups during the week of some calendar holiday. I get it because I was that mom too. Only now I realize I was saying it because I was feeling inadequate. I was second guessing what kind of mom I am because I didn’t take the time to invest in a craft with my kid, or spend time planning a surprise for the morning. Of course this completely minimizes all my hard work planning kid activities through the year, simply because I didn’t do it close to a holiday. We do a lot for our kids every single day and it doesn’t always come with glitter and balloons.

So with St. Patrick’s Day and Easter right around the corner, let me share what I’ve learned since making that same statement.

  1. People are who they are. Some moms are hard wired to express their joy openly and with big colorful decorations. To them this is fun. Maybe their mom did the same, or maybe their mom never did anything to celebrate and now celebrating with their kids feels special. Whatever their reason for celebrating, how they celebrate is part of their story and their business.
  2. Social media is meant to be social. Just like in real life, some people are way more social than others. Many folks use their social media accounts to keep their long distance family members included in their daily lives. It is no longer the norm for families to live on the same block any more. So sharing photos on Facebook is the modern equivalent to how our parents used to send pictures in the mail to grandma. Except now instead of just grandma getting to see it and gush over it all 347,000 friends on our list get to see it too.
  3. “No one is parenting at you.” That’s a direct quote from a mom friend. No parent is up through the night plotting to out do you as a parent. There is no trophy we are all vying for and certainly no one is going to recognize you or me as THE ONE, THE ONLY, THE PERFECT MOM!  If other moms are up sacrificing sleep to make magic happen for their kids inside their own homes let them have it. They aren’t looking for you to validate them (or criticize them).
  4. I know who I am. I am not going to be able to recreate someone else’s magical moments in my house. I am not crafty and I don’t have a ton of money. I like things simple and I like to have fun. I am also a last minute mama who can barely handle putting out a nice table cloth and throwing a few coins on the table. Keeping a week long, or even a month long running gag of leprechaun tricks, or elf shenanigans is too much work for me. But I am not judging any other mom who has that kind of stamina. I also know it doesn’t mean she loves her kids more than I love mine. I am willing walk to the ends of the earth for my kids. I’m just not willing to fire up the glue gun for them.
  5. I can enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor. Since I already know the amount of work that goes into motherhood, I can totally appreciate any mom who can find the time to finish a craft, organize all her closets and design a command center. I can barely finish the dishes most days, so I consider all of those projects to be extracurricular. It’s really fun to see how creative my friends are without it being a competition. And since we are friends why would I want to spend my time showing them up, or complaining about their hard work. You go mamas! I’ll give your pic a like from the comfort of my couch. Oh and thanks for filling my news feed with your happy photos of smiling children.

Essentially, don’t go judging other moms for making a day bigger than you are willing to. Everyone is different and expresses their excitement in different ways. If you are a low key mama embrace it! Celebrate your minimal ways by not posting about it on Facebook. Or post your efforts on Facebook anyway without stacking them up against someone else’s. Our kids are watching how we do things and if they hear us tearing down the way others live in their homes we can expect that will be their views when they become parents too. If you are like me and just want the holidays to hurry up and be over with so you can pack everything away, your kids’ lives will not be ruined. I assure you there are a million other things you can do to land them in therapy.

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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The Golden Girls is All a Mom Needs

Iconic hit series The Golden Girls makes its streaming debut on Hulu February 13, 2017. Four previously married women live together in Miami, sharing their various experiences together and enjoying themselves despite hard times. From left, Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) and Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), shown. (Photo Courtesy of Hulu)

So it has been about two weeks since my last post. Life has been hectic and I have to say this parenting gig is harder than I ever imagined. There are so many meetings, and so many feelings about life lately. I never knew this could be so complicated. Don’t ya just send your kids to school and blink, then they graduate and start a fabulous life? Easy peasy.

Ugh so wrong.

As I am stressing out about life I discover The Golden Girls is on Hulu. Man oh man does this show bring back memories! I was 12 when this show began. I didn’t get half the jokes back then, but it was such a comfort just to watch every week. I could count on Dorothy’s sarcastic whit and Rose’s naivete. No matter where I was in my house, the sound of those first few piano notes sent me running to the TV to watch. Sitcom life is so much easier when all your problems are solved in 30 minutes and end with cheesecake. Now I can count on the wisdom of these best friends every morning as I hop on my treadmill and cue up the next episode. They make me laugh and make me realize how important my mom friends are to me. Especially the ones who love me for me and do not judge me by my kids behaviors. They know I am a dedicated parent doing my best.

This morning I watched the episode where Blanche’s grandson comes to visit. The women put their cumulative knowledge of child rearing together to create a chore schedule and curfew for her belligerent nephew.  In less than 30 minutes he is cured of his bad behavior and is toasting to his new found self esteem. I was jealous. If only it were that easy to cure kids of their melt downs and behaviors. And how awesome would it be to have some seasoned moms in my crew right now. Instead, we wait months or even years to get the positive change we want to see from our kids. I know hubby and I are still waiting for the sensible sevens to kick in so we can experience less drama in our lives.

Just as Blanche’s best friends rallied around her to help set her wayward nephew on the straight and narrow, I realize how lucky I am to have a very small, but tight knit circle of friends who watch out for my kids just like one of their own. The day to day may get stressful, but having friends who see my kids as something wonderful and amazing makes all the hard work seem worth it. It doesn’t help me solve our problems in a half an hour, but it sure does feel good to know that so many of my friends are willing to take the time to understand and offer to help.

No matter what age and stage your kids are in you need a good mom friend to support you. Your relationship may not involve cheesecake, but as long as they are willing to listen without judging and recognize and celebrate your hard work then you have a friend worth more than gold!

Until next week my friends, remember it is OK to do whatever it takes to make it through your day! 🙂 And watch The Golden Girls whenever you can. Those ladies are funny and offer some serious life lessons about parenting!

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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Stuck on the Track of Perfection

The other day I saw a video clip in my Facebook news feed of a car stuck on the snowy railroad tracks with a train coming toward it. Some good citizens abandoned their cars to assist the driver in the disabled car. I noticed the driver was determined to stay in the car, not give up and just kept driving until they moved forward. But it was with great assistance that they got off that track before the train passed where they were seconds later. I thought that is such a perfect metaphor for life. Especially for me, being a recovering perfectionist.

I can’t tell you how often I get stuck on my own track, completely focused on my own expectations, trying to force a particular outcome. I am determined to stick to that singular path before me. Whether it is pushing the kids to get ready for school on time, or finding a solution to a new parenting challenge. It can feel like life is that train barreling toward me and I am just stuck. When I am really lucky a friend, or neighbor will help steer me in a new direction before I am pummeled. Sometimes it is just a kind word, or even a blunt question that can snap me out of my one track thinking.

Life with kids moves at a quick pace and I don’t always take time to slow down and really appreciate that my hard work counts for something. Being a perfectionist I often discount my efforts, or second guess my parenting skills. It is so much easier to tear myself down than it is to build myself up. Sometimes it is easier to stay “stuck” than it is to persevere and move forward. I often think there is only way to be a good parent, but that mindset is so limiting. I am actually good at many different parts of parenting, but I am not a perfect parent.

So what do you do when you feel stuck on a one way track to perfection?

Take a break. This doesn’t always have to include a sandy beach and little umbrella drinks (though that is awesome), sometimes simple quick things can get you off the track in front of you. Read a chapter of a new book, take deep breaths, go for a walk, just get yourself away from that stressful sticking point. Sometimes I find better solutions when I hop off that one way track. I can stop worrying about my struggles for a little bit and find a new perspective.

Remember what you are good at. Maybe you can make any situation funny. Or maybe you are really good at caring for your kids, or keeping everyone wrangled. Maybe you are good at loving your kids through their really horrible moments. You may not be perfect at every part of parenting, but celebrate the parts you are really good at. I know I am really good at seeing the best in my kids even during a meltdown. That does nothing to keep my house organized, but it is one thing I am good at!

Cut yourself some slack. So you forgot to pack lunch the night before and there are dishes still in the sink before breakfast, but everyone has clean socks today! Perhaps you forgot there was soccer practice right after school today, but you remembered to grab a granola bar and bottled water for kid snacks from the store on your way! Giving yourself options keeps you from feeling like you just got pummeled by that train. I am getting much better at giving myself credit for the things I did do right in my day.

Talk to another parent. I always find the best parents to talk to are the ones who have already been down my road. They can offer practical advice that worked for them, and share a sympathetic ear. Sometimes it’s just good to know you are not the only one who struggles with parenting (and perfection). Join a group online, in person or talk to parenting friends at work. I am really lucky to be surrounded by so many people ready to guide me.

I hope this is a good time to remind you that you are a great parent just as you are! No one is winning a prize for having themselves more put together than you. No one else is putting pressure on you to give more than you can. No one else works as hard for your kid(s) as you do. So, take a deep breath and don’t let perfection keep you from moving forward.

Have a great week everyone!

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer toHudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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I Fear My Kids Will Be Terrible People

I confess that I often feel like nothing I say has any significant impact on my kids. I can’t stop them from fighting and rough housing turns into shoving matches. I am always breaking them up and shouting a line from the movie, Rush Hour, “do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?!”  I feel like I say the same things over and and over again. I am always lecturing my kids on how they need to grow up to be respectful, appreciative humans. I worry if they will ever get along and if they’ll ever learn to be kind.

On one particularly difficult morning of too much chaos I commanded the girls to get in the car. “Every body in, we’re going to the store!”

My daughter asks me, “Will Michael be there mama?”

“I don’t know we’ll have to look around when we get inside.”

“Oh I hope he’s here! He is SO funny!”

Michael is the man that we see every time we shop at our local club store. He is one of the employees that hands out food samples. Both of my daughters love to visit him during our shopping trips to get their free snacks and a good laugh. Michael has a quick wit and ease when talking to little kids. I think they enjoy how he talks directly to them and not just about them to me. I told my kids that Michael is my friend and someone I used to work with. I was also the maid of honor at his wedding and I even introduced him to his wife. Which is all true.

But what my daughters don’t know about Michael is that he is categorized as “Intellectually Impaired.” I met him during my last career as a case manager. I worked for the agency that provides him with services like job coaching and residential assistance. I was part of the staff that came to his home to help him pay his bills, balance his check book and made sure his needs were being taken care of. Michael and his wife are capable of living on their own with support, and together they are like any typical couple managing their apartment and caring for their small dog.

I have never shared with my girls Michael’s diagnosis because I don’t want that to be the first thing they think of when they see him. Right now they enjoy sharing jokes with him and asking him for samples. To them Michael is a funny guy and a good friend. Too often folks living in the “disabled” community are made to feel less than and struggle to fit in seamlessly with their peers. Society often sees people with disabilities as incapable of advocating for themselves, or having little power to sustain a productive life. I don’t believe those are true. Michael and his wife have certainly proven those ideas wrong. If I describe Micheal as disabled (I prefer the term differently-abled because everyone has abilities) I basically hand my children a distorted lens in which to view people. I want them to look at people through a singular lens that shows everyone as a human being.

We arrive at the store and my girls are delighted to find Michael at his station. (And I am delighted they finally stop bickering).

“Hi Michael!” They both shout in unison.

“Hey girls!!” he replied. “It’s so nice to see you here!”

Today’s samples are snack bars. He hands them the little cups and asks how they like school, and they share with him the newest set of knock-knock jokes they just memorized. He laughs a very genuine laugh and reminds them to listen to their parents. Nothing about this interaction is “special.” We talk to Michael the same way we do any of our friends. In a world where people receive praise for showing kindness to persons with a disability, my children get no recognition. I ask them if the are happy to see Michael today and thank them for remembering their manners. As they say goodbye to their friend I realize my children will grow up to be OK. My kids are kind and they are genuine.

My girls still knock each other down and argue over petty things. At age six they are not good listeners, or follow directions. But they are doers, and one day they will grow up to do ordinary things. Like treat (other) people equally and with respect.

 

The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer toHudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia 

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