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!!!

Netflix, the greatest distraction since sliced bread

I’m here, checking in because it’s Friday. But I’m not staying long because I’m treating myself to a little Netflix before bed. Sure, I could be doing more productive things. But I have learned that when your days are long and chaotic, and you spend them endlessly serving others, who may be cute but are also quite exhausting, you deserve a break at the end of the day. A little “me time” if you will.

I am currently binge watching all seven seasons of Mad Men. It’s a show I had heard a great deal about, yet never had any desire to watch. And now I can’t stop watching it. Which is strange because so much of it infuriates me: gender inequality, racial discrimination, homosexual discrimination…. Say what you will about today’s society, at least we have come quite a ways since the 1960’s.

And with that, I’m going back to my show for a little bit longer before passing out into bed. Because we all need a break and to do something for ourselves from time to time. And Netflix is a pretty entertaining way to take that much-needed break, especially when scheduling your crazy life around the fall broadcast line-up is next to impossible…..

Breaking the radio silence

I’m disappointed in myself. I’m disappointed in how much I have neglected this blog this year. This is supposed to be a place where I can share, I can vent, I can just get all of my thoughts out on proverbial paper. Instead I have been keeping much of it in for too long.

Why? I’m not sure. It’s not like my brain isn’t constantly rambling through a million thoughts a day; it is, the hamster wheel literally never stops turning. I guess lately it’s been turning so quickly I can’t seem to focus in on just one thought. But I would really like to change that.

How’s this for an idea? To begin immediately, I will push myself to post on here every Friday. Some weeks I might have something amazing and insightful to say (ha), other weeks it might just be a recap of the in’s and out’s of the past seven days. But regardless, it will force me to commit to getting back into blogging. I am putting it in my calendar right now, so I can’t forget.

Now I understand that I didn’t sell myself well in that previous paragraph. Truthfully, some weeks might be rather uninteresting, but I promise to try to include the very best nuggets, so as not to completely bore everyone.

Until Friday…..

I used to be fearless

I used to be fearless. I used to be confident. I used to be bold. I wasn’t afraid to take risks, no matter the consequences.

Then I became a mother.

And I became filled with self doubt. And I became filled with fear. And I lost my confidence.

Why? Because for the first time in my life, I was no longer whole. My heart, my body, my soul… no longer mine and mine alone. I never knew my heart could beat outside of my chest until it found a home in three small bodies.

They hold my heart. They are my world. Can I do right by them? Am I doing right by them? That is, and will always be, my biggest fear.

I can’t “do it all” anymore

I recently read another blog post that really spoke to me. It talked about why we, as a society, do a great disservice to mothers when we ask them how they “do it all?” I know, it sounds like you are giving a compliment to the woman who seems to have it all under control and is thriving in her chaotic, hectic life. But maybe you aren’t.

Perhaps instead, this statement/question puts undue pressure on the mother. I know it does for me. I begin taking a much closer examination of my life and every aspect within it. Am I doing it all? Am I living up to that reputation? Or am I falling pathetically short of the mark?

There are days when I feel like I am on top of it all. Homework is done, laundry in, dinner prepped, kids happy and engaged in a positive activity, kitchen clean, etc. And then there are days when I can’t seem to get anything accomplished, when the boys are constantly fighting and whining, when I feel like every small task is a struggle. And on those days, I am not doing it all, I am failing myself and my family. Or so it feels.

So I don’t want to “do it all” anymore. I can’t. I just want to spend every day being the best mother, wife, person I can be. And that is enough. Some days that might mean completing every single task on my to-do list, other days that might just be maintaining my sanity and keeping everyone safe, healthy, and (mostly) happy. My life is not perfect, I don’t have it all together. But what I do have is love. A whole heck of a lot of it. I am blessed to have an incredible family, and I will spend my life doing the best I can for them and be satisfied with that. They don’t need me to “do it all,” they need me to do my best for them.

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