Be Present

“Forever is composed of nows.” – Emily Dickinson

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the things I spend my time on, because time is in fact a commodity.  A commodity that seems to drift away so quickly.  How many of these things are useful or important or even necessary?  I have definitely not found the balance, but I’m working on it.  I am always a work in progress and I hope to always be growing.

We took our Christmas Gift Trip last week, and spent an uninterrupted week just doing fun things together on the road.  There were no daily distractions.  No chores.  No work. Just us.  We made up ridiculous road games (our version of the cow game that we never truly played unless it was convenient for me to win) and we made random stops.  Lewis’s favorite part of the whole trip was when we got slap happy at midnight on the way to Georgia and everything was “fine – It’s fine.  It’s going to be fine.”

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We went to a Merry Go Round Museum, Great Wolf Lodge, An Ohio Turnpike Rest Stop…which blew our Michigan minds (ha), Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, and The Lost Sea in Sweetwater TN.  We spent HOURS together in the car.  I didn’t even get sick of them.  It was so much fun that something happened when we got home.  I can NOT get back into life.  I just can’t.  I want to be present all the time and watch them grow and become.

Problem is, my job is connected to my phone and my pay directly correlates to how hard I work.  I love just being free to do what I want, but for Christmas this year, I’d like a fairy godmother who helps me make a balanced schedule.

I think we are slowly becoming “unschoolers” who try to immerse our children in what they’re interested in.  But don’t stuff me into a box because I just want to do my own thing.  🙂  Renna has a deep desire to bake.  So we were present together this week and we had a no yeast dessert bread bake off.  The kids measured all of their own ingredients and picked what flavors to add and they made 3 loaves of delicious dessert bread.

But in this time, messages went unanswered.  Is that ok?  Sometimes.  But not always.  Work went undone.  And we made this huge mess.  How can we be present while we take care of this?  To be honest, I did NOT clean this…ha…Lewis did.

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Sweet mother of mercy.   What is this pressure to have it all!?  How do you make a schedule and decide which moments to “miss”.  What if during your scheduled present with kids time, they’re super boring and they want you to go away? But during scheduled work time there is an epic snowball fight?  I don’t have the answer.  I’m truly asking.  Message me if you know!  I am very lucky with LuLaRoe to not be gone 9-5 but still work and provide a decent living for my family.  I know this.  Maybe I’m just too immature to do it right 😉

How are you present with your people?

-Mary

 

 

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Our Christmas Journey

When we had nothing, we did our best every year for Christmas to make it as exciting as we could without getting evicted in January.  We would open store credit cards and charge them up and expect to pay the minimum until tax time when we could hopefully pay off Christmas.  It was a vicious cycle and the bills would often rack up and not always get paid off come April.   But those faces on Christmas morning when the tree was just flooded with gifts!  Even if half of them were from the dollar store, they were small and they didn’t know.

Fast forward to my first year with LuLaRoe.  We had money!  I bought so many gifts it was ridiculous!  So many wonderful things, their whole wishlist, which was probably made spontaneously while just browsing a toy catalogue. I even bought them a bounce house that we inflated and took up the entire basement so they could bounce inside on Christmas morning.  I felt great about it…until a few days later.  All the wonderful toys had now just added to the fantastical amount of clutter in 1000 square foot home that contained 6 people.  Pieces were already missing.  Things were already broken.  And I realized, we had just bought more things.  THINGS.  EVERYWHERE.  That will be our very last things Christmas.

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I know many a blogger has written about giving your children experiences and not things, well add me to the list.  Maybe my message is not new, but it’s still true and it has changed my children and their expectations.  Last year, as our lives were rapidly changing, so was our mindset.  We wanted out of the clutter.  We wanted out of the things.  We had a new perspective and a deep desire to DO things, instead of OWN things.  We planned a December Trip.

It started simply enough.  Renna had saved money all year to buy an American Girl Doll.  There was supposed to be a pop up American Girl store locally, but I heard from many it was nothing like the real experience.  So I made plans to take Renna to a real store.  Then I started thinking about Chicago…I love Chicago…so many cool things to see and do.  So we booked it!  We took off for Chicago and explained repeatedly to the kids that this was Christmas.  Santa was still coming but Santa only brings one thing.  “We might buy one other present each to open, but the trip is your gift.”  And we stuck to it.  We hopped a train to Chicago, which was an adventure all it’s own.  We stayed on the Magnificent Mile.  We could see the water from our hotel room.  We went to Water Tower Place with the American Girl store.  We went to Shedd’s.  We randomly caught a movie while we were there.  We went to the Children’s museum and we explored the city.  We created memories.  When we got home, none of those broke.  None of them took up physical space.  None of them were tossed aside like junk.  One year later, they’re still talking about Chicago.  And they’ve been on a real train, they’ve Uber-ed.  They’re traveled now 😉

 

On Christmas morning I was PETRIFIED!  I was like oh my goodness, this is going to be awful.  They’re going to be so upset there are only 2 presents to open.  They’re going to cry.  I am the worst mom EVER!  But it wasn’t. They weren’t.  They didn’t.  I wasn’t.  They took their time.  They opened their one gift from Santa and one gift from us, slowly and thoughtfully.  They took turns.  They took almost two hours rotating and opening 8 gifts total and truly exploring and loving what they were given.  They were so grateful and happy.  It is truly one of my proudest parenting moments to this day.  I have raised children who understand gratitude.  I have children who knew how lucky they were.  I have children who will forever carry their Christmas journey with them.

We’re off again this year!  We went a little more relaxed than originally anticipated, but we are going to splash at Great Wolf Lodge, and then road trip slowly and unplanned to Atlanta Georgia!  Off to explore another city.  See another Zoo and Aquarium, and see whatever happens across our path on the way to and fro.  The tree will not be flooded.  The tree will be pretty bare underneath.  But the things they do get on Christmas morning will be the one or two things that actually bring them joy.  And we will get an adventure.

What we aren’t saying

I’ve hemmed and hawed over writing this or not writing it.  I’ve shared before but never on a larger scale.  October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day.  So I can think of no better time to share what we are NOT saying.

1 in 4.  25%.  A staggering number when you think of it in terms of statistics that we as women all share.  1 In 4 of us will become pregnant and not take a baby home.  Look around wherever you’re sitting right now, or next time you walk outside. Count women as they pass. 1, 2, 3…4.  Her. It’s her. It’s me. It’s maybe you.  It’s our friends, our sisters, our daughters, our mothers.  And we don’t talk about it as much as we should.  So when it is you, it’s hard not to feel alone.

In December of 2006, I went to a party with my husband at a friend’s house.  I love crab stuffed mushrooms so I made some as my dish to share.  As I mixed them and baked them I was caught off guard by how bad the crab meat smelled.  It was awful.  I wondered if I’d done something wrong. I am NOT the worlds best cook.  I order up some mean Chinese food though…  I took them to the party anyway. It was far from home and I didn’t want to get sloppy so I only had one drink there.  I peed every 10 minutes…ever heard of “breaking the seal”?  That’s what I thought happened to me.  We drove home that night, still having to pee…and I looked at my calendar.  28 days.  I hadn’t had a period in 28 days!  Some of you are saying so what freak that’s normal…not for me.  23, 24 tops.  Never 28.  Sweet mother of mercy!  The crab meat.  The peeing.  It all made sense.  I made Lewis stop for a pregnancy test on the way home even though it was 2:30 in the morning.  We had only been married about 3 months.  Our lives were very undecided.  We didn’t know where we were going or what we wanted to do.  We were living in my moms house, Lewis worked in a gas station, and I was waitressing.  We were not ready for a baby.

Something happens when you take that test. All of your hopes and dreams and fears and anxieties are trapped on a little white stick that you just urinated on.  What would it say?  The moment those two pink lines appear, everything changes.  Regardless of how you feel about this situation, EVERYTHING is different now.  I was both horrifyingly scared and excited simultaneously.  2 little pink lines.  One so faint it was barely there, but it was literally day 28…I took the other 3 tests that came in the box over the next two days (just to be sure), and every day the line got a little bit darker and more obvious.  At that moment, I became a mom.

We found a doctor who would see me at 8 weeks.  We found state health insurance since I had none.  We even found an apartment (it was time and we couldn’t stay at my moms forever). My mom even helped Lewis find a better job.  We started dreaming about our new roles.  We imagined our baby.  We thought about names.  We wondered who the baby would look like.  Facebook was a fairly new platform at the time, and at 6 weeks, with some confirmed blood work from a women’s clinic, we told our Facebook friends.  We told our work friends.  We told our families.  The 8 week appointment went great!  Our baby looked like a tiny croissant, or the alien from The Faculty.

Then 11 weeks arrived. We went to the doctor again because I have other issues we needed to keep an eye on.  We did some chatting and took more blood.  We made our way to the ultrasound room and we got a picture, but she told us this baby was measuring a little small.  I had no idea what that meant, but when she asked me to come back in 1 week, something seemed not quite right, but she never said that.  She never said it wasn’t right.  So we went home and carried on.  We continued to daydream and try on our new lives.  At 12 weeks she broke our hearts.  There was still a baby in there, but this baby had not grown…no tiny flicker on the black and white screen where the heart beats and the little line of sonography static blinks just for you.  Just stillness.

2 days later, I was scheduled at the hospital for a d&c and exploratory laparoscope at the same time.  Quick outpatient, general anesthesia, no big deal.  Nothing has processed.  It was just a tiny croissant…it’s no big deal.  I got to the hospital and signed my papers, but there was a mistake!  My papers said I was having “an inevitable abortion”. I’m as pro-choice as they come and I’ll argue it until the cows come home, but I was not having an abortion!  They made a mistake!  They need to fix this mistake!  Did you know that when you have a “missed miscarriage” (fancy for incomplete) you also have to have an “inevitable abortion”?  I did not.  So they wheel me back. I count backwards from 10.  I only remember to 8.  I woke up with a small tube in a recovery bay separated by just curtains from the rest of the patients waiting to go home.  After my tube came out, I asked the nurse if that was it.  She said yes, and then something broke inside of me… some sort of protective floodgate released and it all came pouring out.  The sadness, the feeling that I had disappointed other people with my failure.  I failed this baby somehow and my body failed Lewis, and our parents, and our friends, and every single thing that we dreamed about.  And it was in that moment alone in a curtain section with a strange nurse I’d never met, that I was hit with guilt and anger and shame…all at once.  The nurse came over with tissue and some crappy grief pamphlet on loss and left.

The next few days were sort of a blur.  We had just moved, Lewis still had to work, and I had intense pain from where they had burned out my scar tissue during the laparoscope.  I was in our new apartment alone. Watching movies in my bed and not seeing anyone during the day.  Just alone.  I felt so stupid.  So stupid for being so excited and attached to an “idea” of this tiny person whom I had never met and never would.  I felt like past doctors I had seen were right and I would never carry a baby.  What a terrible disappointment I must be.  Time passed and I started to feel better but not quite whole.

When I returned to work, I was out 5 weeks for the scope, I thought I was better and ready, but the first person I saw when I walked in the door asked me how my little bean was growing… it’s not…it’s dead.  Thanks for asking. But I didn’t say that. I said nothing with words but probably a novella with my face.  My friend swooped in and whisked me away and said we aren’t talking about that.  It was super needed in that moment, as it wasn’t the time or place, but overall that was the general theme everywhere.  We weren’t talking about it.  We weren’t engaging on a subject so taboo.  A subject so uncomfortable.  A subject that isn’t polite.  A subject that is difficult and involves grief that others sometimes don’t understand.  And when we did engage, we heard things like “at least it was early on” or “that wasn’t your baby, everything happens for reason.”  Or how about “You’re young. You can try again.”

But what people didn’t know, since we didn’t talk about it, was the dreams I had for this baby.  This person with half of me and half of Lewis who was going to be beautiful and had some potential names, and eye colors, and hair colors, and future dreams and ambitions.  This person we will never meet.  This person that we almost never talk about anymore now.  Because they’re gone and we never met them.  This person who was inevitably aborted, viewed in a hospital as medical waste.

I have witnessed more stories like mine.  I have witnessed with my own eyes, and my heart, stories immeasurably more difficult than mine.  Stories of such loss and heartache that you cannot understand why in any universe this would happen to good people.  Stories that shake your faith.  And yet, it’s uncomfortable, so we don’t talk about it.  There is so much power in what we are not saying.  My challenge to everyone, is to tell their story.  I am 1 in 4.  If you are 1 in 4, become a part of the dialogue that removes the stigma that we can’t say it out loud.  We are better than a crappy grief pamphlet.  We can let the next (1,2,3…) HER know she is not alone.  And know that it will hurt and be awful and she CAN talk about it.  October 15 is also my birthday and this year, as a gift, I’d like everyone to tell their story and shout, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  I GRIEVE WITH YOU.  I KNOW YOU HURT AND I DID TOO.  AND I WILL NEVER FORGET.  Hashtag it:  #1in4 #123her

Memoirs of a Mom who Lost her Mind

It gets easier.  It truly does.  For the most part.  If you’re a mom and your kids are very small, it gets “easier”.  Sure the problems might become larger.  The conversations.  The situations.  As your kids grow, things get more complicated, but in my humble opinion, they do in fact get easier.  I’m going to paint an after birth picture for you.  Not a picture of afterbirth…a picture of life after the birth of a new baby:

You had your bouncing beautiful bundle of joy.  It was traumatic on your body, but you are so blinded by love you don’t even care or take the time to notice.  People come to visit in the hospital.  Your spouse (if you had one) takes a week or two off work.  People hold the baby and tell you how beautiful he/she is.  Sometimes people even bring you a meal!  They offer to hold the baby while you finally catch a shower.

This lasts 5 days…tops.  Suddenly everyone is gone.  Suddenly you live on an island.  It’s the living room rug.  You are trapped on the floor between the couch, the TV, the wall to the south, and the loveseat.  You have baby furniture on your island.  You have a changing blanket where you change the baby on the floor.  You have a boppy pillow.  You leave the island to go to the bathroom and to wash bottles or breast pump parts.  No one comes to the island.  NO ONE.  And at some point you are so ashamed of the island, you are glad people are not dropping by.  There are probably a few diapers that haven’t made it to the pail.  You have forgotten to bathe on the island.  You have forgotten to care enough to change your clothes.  You have a cellphone and it’s used primarily for texting your partner to see when they will be home and asking them to pick something up, ordering food that delivers, and for googling images of baby poop to make sure your baby poop is normal baby poop.

Does it sound familiar or was that just me?  Praying that wasn’t just me…

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My first baby, Renna, was a dream baby.  She’s the kind of baby that makes you think you could have 100 babies and they would all sit with you in restaurants for 3 hours and play with a spoon and smile at strangers and that is normal.  I now know that Renna was not normal.  Sure we had moments where the crying never stopped or where you couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  I was tired from getting up all night, but all in all, she was a doll.

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When Renna was 21 months old, along came Sam…  Sam came screaming into the world.  He was intense.  He cried for unknown reasons constantly and whenever we left the house I had to swing this man-child of a baby (10lbs at birth- 18lbs by 4 months) in a 30lb baby carrier like a swing to get him to sleep or calm down.  As he grew, Sam hit me.  Sam didn’t like anyone else but me, but he took every opportunity to hit me or bite me that came across his upset little path.  Sam didn’t speak until he was almost 3.  He called every adult mama.  He screamed when he wanted something and threw things.  He didn’t point.  He didn’t gesture.  He didn’t understand.  Sam was a difficult baby and toddler, but I survived and I FEEL like I did it with grace…and a little help from our local ISD.

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When Sam was 2 3/4 😉 Along came the TWINS!  Elliott & Lorelei.  And this is truly a story about what happened after the twins.  Right after they were born, I was HIGH.  I was the world’s best super mom.  I had Sam on a visual schedule on the wall so we could communicate.  I had Renna in preschool 4 mornings a week.  We played sensory games together whenever the twins were happy on the floor or in some baby furniture or sleeping.  We cooked together and read books and sang songs.  If you were on the outside looking in, I’m sure you thought I had it all together.  I would put Renna on the bus in the morning and pack up 3 tiny people from the time the twins were 2 weeks old and take them to the ISD for Sam’s speech classes.  I would feed two babies at once on the floor while Sam was playing speech games and sensory games with his group.  Our house was messy but not a disaster zone (yet).  From the outside looking in I was a super hero.

When I was pregnant with the twins, I had all these help offers.  “Oh we will come over and just hold babies for you!  It will be fun.  We want to help!”  Before this goes any further, I did live in this fantasy, but in reality I don’t blame any friends or family for having their own lives and this not really being a thing that can happen.  The intentions are pure…but real life gets in the way.  But after the first two weeks or so, I could count on one hand how many times people actually came over just to help and hold a baby.  Being proud, as we all are, I did not ask for help.  I had this.  I am their mother and it was on me and I hope I’m not screwing them up.

Lewis was working 5 days a week 40+ hours.  In the middle of the night when the twins screamed, sometimes at the same time, sometimes at different times, all night long, I felt like it was my JOB to do that alone.  I felt like it was my role.  I would shake two bottles and sit on the floor and prop them on boppy pillows and feed them both at the same time whenever I could, but DON’T WAKE A SLEEPING BABY!  And if one twin was sleeping I was so reluctant to wake them and make them eat that sometimes I didn’t and I would find myself up all night.  The next morning, all activities in place on our wonderful visual schedule, classes attended, I moved to the island.  They kicked around on the island.  They slept on the island.  They ate on the island.  I played with Sam and Renna on the Island.  The island was getting smaller and smaller by the day.

The first 4 months with four children were, dare I say, EASIER than what followed from 4-6 months.  They needed more.  Elliott and Lorelei were no longer sleepy little premature lumps.  They wanted eye contact and stimulation and to be held for no reason.  They did not care about my schedule.  They did not care that I just worked a double shift, they were still up at night.  And I still worked less than Lewis and later in the day, so I still thought it was MY job.

I spent every single day questioning every decision I made.  I was certain I was going to raise serial killers or Renna would be in therapy someday with some smug psychiatrist telling her about how every issue she has in life is somehow related to her mother.  I thought Sam was on the spectrum, he is not, but he did/does have sensory processing disorder.  I worked with him as much as I could but progress was slow and I always felt like when he had a melt down I was some how failing him in the biggest way.  How much more could we fit on the island?

When the twins were 6 months old, we had a morning that I will never forget and that changed me forever.  We were trying to get ready to go somewhere.  Renna and Sam (now 5 and 3) were supposed to be brushing their teeth.  The twins were both crying on the floor on the island.  Renna and Sam were not brushing.  Renna and Sam were messing around in the bathroom and fighting and pushing.  I stormed into the bathroom, I looked at these tiny cherub faced, adorable little people, and I LOST MY SHIT.  I started screaming incomprehensible things at them.  I was throwing things around the bathroom.  They stared at me in complete and utter disbelief as I let out an inhuman scream and turned and put my foot through the dry wall in the bathroom.  Time froze.  Everything went black.  I sat on the bathroom floor and I cried.  And they cried.  And the twins were still crying and I had no idea what had just happened to me.

I called Lewis at work.  I could not speak.  I could not make a single word.   I can only imagine what he must have thought happened.  He couldn’t decipher a thing I was trying to tell him in my silence and sobs.  He left work and rushed home.  He found us on the island and I tried to explain but I couldn’t even comprehend it so I couldn’t explain it.  I couldn’t put into words what my heart had finally let my brain feel.  This went on for over a week.  Me crying.  Me calling Lewis and him coming home.  Eventually he couldn’t any more and it turned into me calling my mom and telling her nothing with silent sobs and her leaving work.  When someone was there, I was ok.  I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I knew when they were there it was ok.  My babies were 6 months old.  That is too late for some sort of post-partum right?  WRONG.

After about two weeks of constant tears and the inability to speak, I looked at that hole in the wall and I took myself to the doctor.  I laughed nervously when I told her about how I put my foot through the wall and how I was sure it wasn’t a big deal but I really wasn’t feeling like myself.  She was kind.  She nodded.  She listened.  She wrote me a prescription.  At first I didn’t want to take it.  It’s like asking for help.  It’s like saying you can’t do it.  It’s like saying you failed.  WRONG.

I started on medication and I did start to feel “better”.  It took the edge off so I could put my feelings in check before they overcame me.  I would spend the next 3 years on this medication.

So why did this happen?  Is it just biology?  Is it mom’s just trying to do too much?  Is it mom’s feeling like we can’t ask for help?  Is it being trapped on the damn Island?  4 walls closing in every single day.  Alone, but never alone.  Needing an adult, but being the only adult there to care for people who need you constantly and trying to be everything to everyone.  We can talk a good game, but what happens when we let ourselves finally feel?  We lose our shit.  We are the mom that yells.  The mom who breaks a plate.  The mom who throws a chair (yes I’ve done that too).  In our efforts to be a super hero, we lose our ability to be honest.  We needed more sleep.  We needed more hands.  We needed more company and we were too proud to ask.  (*disclaimer – I know there are many different, emotional, hormonal, genetic, and environmental reasons for PPD, and everyone’s story and “reasons” are different, but these were mine and I am certain I’m not the only one.)

So I have some advice for moms:

  1.  It does get easier.
  2. You do not have to be perfect, your children just need love.
  3. It’s ok to ask for help.
  4. It’s ok to take a nap when everyone is in a safe place.
  5. You are not alone.

If you’re expecting and this scared you at all, I first apologize 😉 and then I have some amazing things to say and advice for you too:

  1.  Don’t wish it away.  It is all fleeting.  Waking up in the night, diapers, teething…it will all be gone someday and you don’t want to miss it.
  2. Being a mom is the hardest and the most rewarding job on the planet.
  3. When you’re up feeding your baby in the middle of the night, change your perspective on the world.  This is your time.  This is you and them, alone in the world.  No one else in it.  Just the two (or three or four or heaven forbid more) of you.  In the silence you can truly see in their eyes the love and adoration.
  4. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, ASK FOR HELP.  It does not make you weak.  It makes you smart.  And people will help.  But if they don’t know and you look like a super hero, they won’t be there because they don’t know.

I am not certain I have ever actually regained my sanity, but if not I feel like I manage it well now.  I think.  And having polled other moms, it’s easy to see that this could very well be any one of us.  After some deep facebook chats, I know at least 88% of us hide where our kids can’t find us and eat treats we don’t want them to know exist in the house.  At least 48% of us pretend we have to go to the bathroom so we can sit alone for a while.  And at least 37% of us lie to our kids about things we don’t want to explain.  And yet, we love them…and we do our best every single day.

 

 

Aging Gracefully

So…I have a birthday looming.  It was my scary number when I was younger.  Before you start in on me, I KNOW I’m not “old” and many people will tell me that they are much older than me and dealing with more and totally killing it.  And I KNOW that.  But for some reason when I was younger, I had this vision that 35 was scary.  To be honest, at the time, I had no idea what 35 would look like, what it would feel like, what life would be like.  As I rapidly approach the scary number, I realize it’s definitely not as scary as I thought.

Some days I swear up and down I’m still 20 and free and healthy and immature.  And then other days I wake up and I can’t move my leg because I slept funny or pulled a muscle somewhere and didn’t even know it!  Some mornings I stare in the mirror at the tired eyes, the silver hair, and my hands that look more and more like my mother’s every single day, and I cannot figure out where time has gone.

But truly, my 30’s have been the best part so far.  My family is complete.  No more pregnancy (thank god in heaven for that).  I know who I am.  No more questioning what I stand for, I pretty much know.  I know what’s important to me and what I can let slide.  My kids are getting bigger and a little more independent and as much as I miss baby snuggles, I LOVE watching them learn to make choices and have opinions.  We have things we need to work on as a family, but I feel like at this point we know what those things are.  There’s no elephant in the room.  We understand how this adulting thing works, even if we don’t WANT to do it.   I am not scared to call an insurance agency or a financial institution and figure it out for myself.

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Although I try to age gracefully, in a crunchy hippie sort of way, I am feeling called to cover up the grey again.  Throw some dye over it and leave it for another day, 6 weeks from now ;).  I feel the push to try to lose weight and get healthy, so maybe I don’t wake up with the random aches and I have more energy.  I suddenly understand so much more about my mother.  I know why she spent her 30’s having a single chicken breast with lettuce all day.  She was doing it because her body started to feel like it needed the right fuel, and not top ramen.  So maybe 35 is my year!  The year I embrace it and take things back under my control; make better choices.

I’m having a LuLaRoe Birthday Open House in the shop this Saturday the 7th with some 35 specials.  Come by and celebrate with me.  Tell me 35 isn’t super scary.  Tell me I’ll be ok, ha.  Tell me that the sense of self that came with my 30’s just gets better and better, because my fingers are crossed that the fun has just started.

Time UnManagement

We have no schedule, zero consistency, for months at a time in the summer.  When our kids were in public school, the schedule that was dictated to us, became THEE schedule and it was enforced.  So we had to participate in it.  Sure we were late every darn Thursday…I don’t know why Thursday, please don’t ask but…literally every Thursday.  But there were consequences when we were late.  There were calls from the office or tardy passes.  Now that we are on our own schedule, I SUCK at making one.  We have activities that occur at scheduled times, but other than those, we’ve been on our own.  We don’t have a school schedule, I work from home (mostly) so I don’t have a set work time schedule.  We don’t schedule in what time we are going to do our school work, or go to the library, or anything.  And I’m sort of stuck in this place where I KNOW we should.

Hello, my name is Mary, and I am a terrible manager of time.  The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Key Time Wasters:

FaceBook – It’s a black hole.  Sure my work is on there and I love keeping up to date with friends.  But I do not need to watch a video of a cat on a surfboard, nor do I need to read 1,346 comments on a thread about chicken coops.  But it happens.  Often.

Asking Children to do something – Or rather the follow through.  I swear to God in Heaven I have to tell them to brush their teeth 17 times in the morning.  I ask.  I get distracted.  They haven’t done it.  I ask again.  That cat on the surfboard just found some cool rollerskates.  I tell them.  I get a text message I feel I need to respond to.  They are now spinning frisbees on their head in the living room and their teeth are not brushed.  I DEMAND they do it now.  I just realized no one fed the dog.  They have disappeared upstairs and I don’t even know what they are doing…teeth unbrushed.  It leads me to my third time waster…

Getting Angry – Such a waste of time and energy.  I am mad their teeth are not brushed.  I spend time stuck in my head about being mad and time endlessly telling 4 smallish children exactly how and why they managed to make me so frustrated.  They have (I’m sure) stopped listening because I’m ranting and probably not making sense.  I don’t feel good.  They don’t feel good.  No one feels good.  Then we need time to cool down.

Setting up and planning – Ever have the best intentions to do something spontaneous and fun and then completely lose an hour figuring out how to do it or getting ready to do it and then it’s not even fun anymore?  That’s me.  Hey!  Let’s go make a snowman!  COOL!  45 minutes later trying to find hats and gloves and coats and scarves and boots that fit (because they never fit after they wear them that one time).   And then we need to find something for eyes and a scarf for the snowman and 15 other things to make it the best snowman ever, and then we are exhausted and we haven’t even been in the snow yet!  Our best intentions go awry when we get lost in the planning and unorganized preparation.  Everyone is sweating in their parka inside the 70 degree kitchen and they don’t even want to go outside anymore.

Making Decisions – Want to kill an hour?  Ask your family of 6 what they want for dinner and try to agree.  Try to make everyone happy and see where that gets you.  I’ll tell you where it gets you.  Hangry.

 

So what do we do?  I’ve been trying to surround myself with more organized people.  Organization is probably one of my biggest character flaws, along with being late, but I’m pretty sure that the disorganization is the thing that causes the lateness, so truly it’s just a subset of the same problem.  I’m taking suggestions from people who inspire me to get more done.  People who are GOOD at managing time.  And people with SYSTEMS.

I want to live in a home that runs efficiently.  That is organized so it makes sense.  I want to be a person who has set working hours (for the most part) with a task list daily of the things that will get done that day.  But I want to maintain my spontaneity.   I think it’s one of my strongest suits.  Am I asking too much?

I bought a chore chart (with shiny star stickers) and a planner and we have two separate magnetic calendars on the fridge.  I’m ready to minimize the things we have so we can find the ones we need.  I am ready to make changes.

If I don’t make it out the other side, please send a search party to the dry bath tub where I’ll be hiding with a bottle of wine and sad 80’s music, regretting my life choices and coping with my inability to organize myself.

Smiles Are Always in Fashion

When you meet someone, you smile and shake their hand.  For me, I was always acutely aware of HOW I smiled.  People are blessed with 32 adult teeth to make their perfect smile.  Most of us have 4 of those jerks yanked that never seem to grow in right in the back and are down to 28.  I was born with 31 adult teeth.  I was missing a lateral incisor.  Funny thing is, when my mom was a kid, she was hit by a car and lost a lateral incisor, and I’m not a scientist, and I know this isn’t how genetics works, but I was missing that same darn tooth.  And that jerk of a tooth is right in the front of my face.

My jobs have always been about talking to strangers, face to face, and presenting my best self.  I am a confident person, but I lacked a confident smile my whole life.  The missing tooth also meant weird spacing of other teeth and a smile that made me feel less than.  I have come to realize that often other people didn’t even notice the missing tooth or gap, but I did.  So I did something about it, for me.

I went to a new dentist (Dr. Faith Aboona, DDS) for my regular cleaning and she asked me if I had ever considered having them fixed, and I had.  I had considered it a lot and always said if I ever had anything cosmetic done, it would be my teeth.  I kind of grabbed the bull by the horns and just decided the time was NOW.  We started scheduling and got the ball rolling.

Now, I know this isn’t uncommon, but I am not a huge fan of the dentist.  If you tell me you love going to the dentist, I’m going to call you a liar or a poser or something because that is crazy.  My mom worked for a dentist when I was a kid, and they had to put notes in my chart reminding my parents not to feed me before appointments, because I would inevitably throw up when they reached the back of my mouth.  I am NOT a good dental patient and clearly never have been.  The lights are so bright in your eyes, the scratchy paper bib to catch all that drooling you’ll be doing on yourself, the horrible noises, and the expectation of answering questions with your mouth propped open and people’s hands in there is utterly ridiculous to me.  I cannot answer you without biting you.  Please don’t make me bite you.  AND the FEAR.  The fear that some dentist or hygienist is going to tell me I’m terrible at caring for my teeth and JUDGE me.  For the record, I do not know that I have ever been judged at the dentist, and have serious doubts that I actually have, but fear is nothing if not unsubstantiated.  I never said it was rational.

So here I was, committing to a 6 week process of dental work.  Why would I do that to myself?  I am still not 100% sure.  But I did it.  We did the yucky impressions, that taste awful and make you gag because the tray feels like it’s bigger than your whole face.  And then it turns to sticky mud that while it’s in your mouth feels like it might turn to cement and never come out and then you’ll be a tray face forever.  But it came out.  No tray face to explain to my children.  Then on to the waiting for the model, and then the real work began.

It was mostly done in one sitting and it was actually far less horrifying than I thought it

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Painful temporaries

would be.  I left the office that day swollen and numb with some gorgeous new temporaries.   They felt like weird hardened cardboard and I couldn’t bite anything for 3 weeks.  I thought this might be an excellent diet plan.  Turns out it’s not.  I still managed to eat junk…just awkwardly or with a knife and fork.  The temporaries gave me headaches as my mouth adjusted. Every day.  For Three Darn Weeks.   It also at one point chipped one of my regular teeth on the bottom and I had a minor panic attack about how much I regretted the whole process and how I never ever ever should have done it.  WOE IS ME.  I paid them to torture me!  How awful.  Cry cry cry.

Then the temporaries came off in another longish procedure and FIVE crowns with one bridged fake little lateral incisor were placed.  It healed and the swelling went down and guess what?  It didn’t hurt any more.  I didn’t regret it.  I had a beautiful new smile!  I did have to teach myself to speak again!  It’s amazing how much a change in your teeth can challenge your enunciation.  And I talk to people for a living.  I talk to my team.  I talk to my customers.  I talk to strangers.  I pretty much talk all day and a lisp wasn’t going to hang around long.  I had to actually focus on it for a few weeks.  But in time, I figured it out 🙂

I think a lot of people thought I did this for other people, I may have even thought that at first.  But I didn’t.  I did this for ME.  I am a confident person, and I love my flaws and my genetic quirks, but even though I’ve accepted my smile, I NEVER loved it.  When I smiled for photos I kept my mouth shut.  When I accidentally took a picture of me smiling with my teeth showing, I deleted it.  I was very aware of my mouth on live feed sales/videos.  I did this for me.  So I could smile and not care or try to hide.  I did this for me.  So I could feel even more confident in what I had to say and worry less about how my mouth moved when I said it.  I am sharing it here, because I did it for me and I’m not ashamed.  I was born with something I didn’t love and I had the ability to change it to increase parts of me that I love more…like being happy and smiling.  It had zero risk and a great big fat reward.  Self confidence.

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Our patient was genetically missing her upper right maxillary incisor and didn’t like the spacing between her teeth. Using a fixed bridge to replace the missing tooth and crowns to balance the spacing, her smile is now complete!

I joke about how awful it was, and some of it was less than pleasant, but if you’re in Northern Macomb County (or anywhere nearby really) and you need a dentist, I highly recommend Northstar Family Dentistry in Washington Twp.  They are so warm and welcoming.  They are forthcoming about billing and they do AMAZING work.  It could even feel life-changing if you invest in yourself. 🙂  I am never ashamed of who I was or who I am.  But I smile without worry now.  And that’s how I want people to remember me.  Smiling.IMG_6596.JPG

Mary