I’ve missed you, old friend

Yes, I know. It has been eight months since I last opened up this blog to write. EIGHT MONTHS! It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write, I have. More than once, I have constructed interesting posts in my mind, only to never find the time to put pen to paper, or I guess fingers to keyboard as it were.

My last post came right before school started for the year. I guess that should say it all. This year has been busy; busier than I could have ever imagined. I actually remember thinking that with my youngest boys starting preschool, I would have all this spare time to work, to get caught up on projects, to have time for myself….. except that isn’t exactly how it has gone.

Instead I have spent a very hectic last eight months juggling everyone’s busy schedules. My days are spent driving kids to school, picking them up, volunteering at their schools whenever possible, driving to after-school activities, finding time to help with homework, trying to keep the house running, and just occasionally sneaking in a few moments to sit back and enjoy life at this stage. It’s exhausting. Seriously. I don’t know how other moms do it, especially if they have more kids than me. I am worn out….

So no, by the end of a long day, I’m usually not in the mood to sit down and write. I’m much more in a curl-up-with-a-book-and-glass-of-wine mood, or maybe a Netflix-and-ice-cream-sundae kind of mood.

As it is, I find my time here drawing to a rapid close, as the clock tells me I must head out very soon to pick up my boys from preschool. I’m glad I was able to at least sneak on here for a few precious moments.

So tell me fellow moms, how do YOU do it? How do you get everyone where they need to go, get all the homework done, and get dinner on the table each night? I’m open to any and all suggestions. And maybe those of us who have this craziness worked out into a well-oiled machine, can offer some inspiration to the rest of us who are trying our best to keep up.

Back to the grind

I know I’m not alone in saying this, but summer has flown by way too quickly! Sure, we have a slightly shorter summer than most, but even then, I feel like June was just here a minute ago. And now I am getting ready to send my first-born back to school in just shy of 12 hours from now.

It was a jam-packed summer to be sure. Two out-of-town trips, three camping trips, tee-ball, swimming, skating, playing with friends, way too many late nights to count. Who knew going back to school could feel like a break??

It’s been a little strange these past few weeks, ahead of Connor starting 1st grade. And by strange, I mean, there has been absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about it. This time last year, I was having panic attacks about sending my little man off into the world. Starting Kindergarten is just such a big freaking deal, that 1st grade has felt completely anti-climactic. School supplies? Got em, piece of cake. School clothes? Most still fits from the Spring, easy peasy. Sending your offspring out into the world without you? Been there, done that.

But then this all of course leads to the inevitable moment of fear: “Why am I not panicking? What am I forgetting to worry about? There must be SOMETHING I’ve overlooked!” So maybe not completely anti-climactic, but close enough.

Everything really is set and ready to go. Clothing is laid out, backpack is ready, alarm clocks are set. We had our night before school starts pep talks, and even read the sweetest book, a gift from the sweetest Kindergarten teacher Connor ever could have asked for. So we are ready.

Except I know that tomorrow, after all is said and done, and we’ve hugged and said our goodbyes, there will likely be a tear or two in my eyes, and a lump in my throat. I am going to miss that kid! No matter how excited I am to watch him grow up and go off and do new things, I am always gonna miss my baby. Such is life, I guess.

And I know it’s going to get worse. Four weeks and counting until I have to survive the preschool sendoff, times 2. At least they won’t be gone full-time, yet….

Hello, old friend

It is hard to believe it’s been more than 6 months since I last touched this blog. Logging in, WordPress doesn’t even look the same! Of course, life keeps moving forward, as do all things tech, even when you wish it would just stand still for a minute.

It is not that I did not want to post over the past half year, in fact I must have written more than a dozen posts in my mind. But somehow I never got around to putting them down on (virtual) paper. Truthfully, I didn’t really want to. I find that as of late I have developed a very strong love-hate relationship with social media. And more times than not, I have been far too comfortable to take my quiet spot, hanging back in the metaphorical woodwork, staying out of the fray.

I also honestly just needed to focus on me for a while. It’s something that no mother of three really has the luxury of doing, and yet, I got to a point where my stress was making me physically ill. I was overwhelmed by everything, even writing a damn blog. I needed to just take.a.break. A long break, from a lot of things.

But I think I’m ready to get moving again, even if it may happen at a snail’s pace for a while yet. Which brings me to the real reason I decided to finally jump back on here tonight and post. So without further ado, I’d better get to it….

Shifting priorities

I’ve been struggling with this post in my head, for several weeks now. I’m still not sure I know exactly what I want to say, but I am going to give it a shot anyway…

It began when I stumbled across an article one day, written by another mother. She wrote very openly and honestly about the moment when she realized she couldn’t remember the last time she had been happy. And it felt like I was staring in a mirror, as I read her words. When was the last time I had been truly happy? When was the last time I could relax and live in the moment and enjoy that moment, without worrying about everything else that would come in the many moments to follow?

It felt like I had been going through the motions for so long. Trying to stay on top of it all, trying to get it all done, and moving from one to-do item to the next, to the next… I found myself rarely sitting down and playing with the boys, I was always having to tell them I couldn’t because I needed to do ______. Even when I did make the time, my focus wasn’t there. I would sit through a board game with my thoughts a million miles away, willing the game to go faster so it could just be done and I could get back to work. Even driving in the car I would find myself tuning out my children in favor of the thoughts running through my head. Once upon a time, the car was our ultimate learning and conversation time, but not these days…. I was failing my children. And I was constantly stressed out and oh, so tired.

I have tried for too long now to take on too much. Even when I tell myself I need to slow down, I have never been good at listening to that advice for long. But the truth is I have gotten to a point where it all becomes so overwhelming that I can’t focus to accomplish anything. As in nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. The anxiety takes over, and I shut down. The only thing that keeps going are those crazy, senseless thoughts running through my head: what I need to be doing, what I should be accomplishing, and why I am such a failure because I can’t get it done. It feels like a hamster wheel going on super drive in my brain, while my body is stuck in quick sand, unable to move…

I’m pretty sure I would have kept going in this miserable existence if not for the fact that it finally caught up to me in a way that caught my attention. I won’t go into details here, but it was a big wakeup call that the stress in my life was doing more damage than good. Something needed to change, and fast.

So I asked myself what my priorities truly are in life right now. And the answer is simple, my three beautiful boys. My role right now is to be their mother, their teacher, their caregiver, their foundation, their rock. Nothing else is important at this moment in time. They need me now, all of me. And they deserve all of me now, nothing less. I have been so worried about how we will build a financial future for them, that I was sacrificing the time NOW when we can create a solid foundation for their futures. Who cares if money is tight for a few more years until everyone is in school full time? Who cares if I don’t exactly know what I’m going to do with myself at that time? Why on Earth am I lying awake at night worrying about events that are 18 months away, when I am sabotaging the here and now as a result?

It is time to refocus my energy on what matters most, and let the other stuff go. My job right now is Mom, and it is a job I am truly blessed to hold. I don’t need any others. The other stuff can wait. My boys need me now. And I know there will come a day when they don’t need me anymore, so why squander this time now? I won’t.

A few months ago I felt that I was failing this blog, failing in my aspirations of building a future with writing. To compensate, I set a schedule for myself, a requirement to post weekly, in hopes that it would keep me writing regularly. Well, it backfired. All it did was make me resent my blog. And I would stress out when I couldn’t think of things to write, and become even more distracted as a result. Well, no more. I will write in this blog when I feel like it, and only when I feel like it. If months should pass between posts, then so be it. Again, not my priority RIGHT NOW.

I still have an uphill battle ahead. Bad habits are hard to break. And the stress I created has become a pretty bad habit. It’s going to take some time for me to let the other stuff completely go, mentally, and just focus on being present with my kids, my family. But it is what I want and what they need.

And who knows, by losing some of the stress, I might just find myself enjoying my life again, remembering what it feels like to be truly happy. Because I have it pretty damn good with three beautiful boys who I love so much it hurts, an amazing husband who is my soul mate and best friend, caring family and friends, a solid roof over our heads, and endless possibilities for that future we will build together. That’s what matters.

All I want for Christmas

I always get a little nervous when I ask the boys to start thinking about what they want Santa to bring them for Christmas. Because what if, say, they ask for a pony? Not gonna happen. And you seriously never know what they will come up with. Case in point, last night as I was making dinner, I asked them all to think about what they would like to ask Santa for. And here were their responses….

santaConnor: I want Santa to bring me coal…. so we can power the house.

Benjamin: I want Santa to bring me a new Mommy, because you are mean. Just kidding!

Alexander: I want a big backhoe loader (and he demonstrates: life sized).

Okay, so my first thought is that maybe Benjamin is getting some of that coal Connor mentioned…. yup, my boys are absolute angels, can’t you tell???

But most of all I had to laugh at Connor’s response. It is incredible what small minds will come up with. The only reason he is so in tune with coal and its ability to power electrical plants and provide energy to our homes, is because he occasionally sees freight trains carrying loads of coal through town. And any time we see a train, it is a BIG deal. Ergo coal is a big deal. Ergo coal is something worthy of asking for. Now should I tell Connor that our house is actually heated by natural gas? I think I will let that one go….

Needless to say, none of those three requests are going to be fulfilled (unless Mommy gets that 6 month vacation….). So now it is time for me to step in with a little, ahem, guidance. Hey, I did that last year, and it worked fantastically. I convinced the boys to ask Santa for books, they readily agreed, and Santa’s helper (me) was all too happy to make that happen.

Now if only I can convince those boys to behave for more than 30 seconds at a time… otherwise this whole issue might quickly become moot.

When less is more

That crazy time of the year is upon us, holiday shopping! Black Friday is less than a week away, Cyber Monday only a little over a week, not to mention all of the other deals that will come along as businesses fight over our hard-earned dollars, promising the toy or gadget of the year that our loved ones simply cannot live without. Are you ready for it?

I’m not, but I’m getting there. I am doing something very different this year, but I will admit, it is something I probably should have been doing for the last several years. I have made a budget, and I plan to stick to it! In year’s past, I have done my best to shop sales and discounts for gifts for family and friends. Yet I never set a cap for myself, and that is something we always seem to pay for financially come January and February (when the credit card bill comes due). Not to mention the material excess we face from the holiday forward! When you have to actually take a break from gift opening because it is too much and too overwhelming for small children…. you may have gone too far. I admit it, it is a mistake we have made in the past. Not happening this year.

Because why on earth should it? Is that what Christmas and Chanukah are all about? Who gets the most presents? Or is it about family and love and togetherness? And celebrating births and battles won, and all that great historical stuff too?? It is a beautiful time of the year, and I think the boys are old enough now to realize it is about more than lighting candles, Santa coming, and tons of gifts. There is more to these holidays than that. So let’s focus on that for a change, not making sure they have a ton of gifts under the tree.

But don’t get me wrong, I still think there is very much a place for gifts, and treating our loved ones to something special! That is still going to happen, just maybe not in as much full-force. We don’t tend to buy the boys presents unless it is their birthdays or this time of year, so I am still very much going to enjoy that process, and getting to buy gifts for all of our family and close friends. But I won’t go overboard.

This year I set an overall dollar amount, and I set it pretty low. Then I divided that amount by the people on our list. And to be honest, I came up with a VERY LOW number to spend on each person. Granted, there is a little wiggle room in there, which is why I started so low, so that going over by a few dollars won’t totally break the bank. But that low amount is going to force me to get much more creative this year. In addition to shopping sales like crazy, I also have to sit back and think…. what do people really want? What do they really need? Is this gift something useful that will be appreciated? Or is it just something nice that may or may not add to the clutter and junk we all seem to struggle with. Because why would I want to add to that for others, when I have a hard enough time dealing with my own clutter and junk???

So that’s the plan. I have a few people figured out already, and have a few gifts already purchased. But I still have quite a few more to go… I guess I will be spending the next few days scouring Black Friday ads for more inspiration and ideas. By the way, did you know some stores will start their Black Friday on Thanksgiving ONLINE???? Yup, I will be taking advantage of that, from the comfort of my home, in my pajamas and a warm cup of coffee by my side. Knock it out first thing in the morning so I can spend the rest of the holiday being thankful with those I love most in the world. Because that is what I want to focus on most.

And in case I am too busy planning to post again beforehand, I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you get to enjoy a beautiful day filled with yummy food, love, and laughter with those who mean the most to you!!!

My three heroes

IMG_7250With an hour left until midnight, I guess it is just about Halloween! And I couldn’t resist sharing this picture of my three heroes (don’t mind me, I was just along for the ride). My firefighter, policeman and doctor, so handsome and so proud of their “jobs.”

At first, I was just happy that the boys got excited about costumes we already had on hand, and that they each selected a different one with absolutely no arguing…. that in and of itself was a shocking win for me. And of course I knew they would all look adorable, no question there….

But now that we have been to a few parties and events, I have started thinking a bit more about their costumes and the unintentional theme of this Halloween. I had jokingly told people they are dressed as the Village People, only cooler. But in fact, they are a trio of first responders, helpers, heroes. They each chose to embody a profession that is dedicated to selflessly helping others, and it reminds me how big and open their little hearts are. They may be wild and rambunctious boys, but they are also sensitive and compassionate and caring.

They fill my heart each and every day, they are MY heroes, always.

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