My Biggest Parenting Challenge

So, I know that I’m not exactly like other parents. But from what I can tell, I’m not the only person out there that parents the way that I do. Some parts of parenting come easy to me – I’ll let you know which ones when I think of them. Most parts of parenting are a learning experience for me. There is one part of parenting that is truly difficult for me and it’s not the fact that boys, in general, are fairly disgusting creatures.

INDEPENDENCE.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to be raising strong, independent men who are nothing if not respectful. I want them to be able to cook themselves a meal, do a load of laundry, iron a damn button up shirt. I want them to be able to do EVERYTHING they need to in order to live a productive life on their own. But, seriously. OH MY FREAKING GOODNESS does it bother the LIVING DAYLIGHTS out of me when my toddler utters the two little words, “my turn?”

Do I love that he wants to help make breakfast? Of course. In theory. Do I actually want him to help me make breakfast? Not most days. Most days I’m trying to get breakfast on the table, a kid out the door and who knows what else, all before 8 a.m.

Do I think it’s adorable when he wants to help vacuum the living room? Absolutely. Do I actually want him to help me vacuum? Hell no. Because I know that it’s going to take me 20 minutes longer to do the job and I have a million other things to do.

That’s where the problem lies. I am WAY too independent and raising independent kids infringes on my own independence. I hate to ask for help. It truly bothers me to no end when I am not doing well enough to do things on my own. It doesn’t matter what it is. Now, I know that letting my toddler help me with household chores isn’t any where comparable to that, but innately I think that’s part of the reason I dislike it so much. That and I am a control freak…. I want to get it done my way, the right way, as fast as possible.

Don’t get me wrong here folks. I let him sit there and stir the eggs while I hover over him so he doesn’t stick his hand on the stove top. I let him wipe his own ass. And then I wipe it just for safe measure. When he wants to attempt to put his shoes on when we were supposed to walk out the door 10 minutes ago … I let him give it one good try. He helps vacuum, sweep, let the dog out and then let the dog in, fold laundry… hell, once in awhile he even helps brush my hair. And as cute as ALL of those things are … I would just rather NOT let him do them.

I mean, I know there are kids out there that will just DO things ALONE … like use a toy broom and sweep the kitchen. Not mine though. My kids want the real deal Holyfield life experience.

img_20180508_100148_0080003259777165536328457.png

And these small independent steps will eventually lead to BIG independent steps. Like wanting to go to the bus stop alone. Or to the park to play. Or stay at home alone. All of the things that so many people no longer allow their children to do out of fear of the unknown. Now, I’m that parent that lets the little ones climb the jungle gym alone … not assisting but standing close enough in case of an accident. The mom who lets the 1st grader walk to the bus stop alone but watches from behind the car in the driveway. I let my now 9 year old stay at home while I go grocery shopping.

It’s a lot easier for me to allow the older kids to be independent because it doesn’t infringe on my own independence. At the same time though it can be sad to know that you’re little baby is SLOWLY becoming an adult. It can be a bit worrisome because you know there are SO MANY PEOPLE JUDGING YOU when you allow your children some independence as well. Like, right now. I wonder how many of you are judging me as you’re reading this.

But I’m going to continue to raise these independent boys. I’m going to figure a way to control my anxiety, realize that there are more minutes in the day, and I’m going to let them try all of the thi. You only get their childhood once, right? Might as well pretend like you’re enjoying it, even on the days when you’re not.

Cold coffee

A few weeks ago I bought myself a new coffee mug. A Wonder Woman themed coffee mug with a color changing scale on it.

The scale turns red when your coffee is hot…. now obviously the scale is supposed to turn black slowly as you drink your coffee.

BUT

Let’s be real.

This is what my cup looks like right now.

See that tiny bit of red left in the middle of the scale…. notice how my coffee is almost full still?

That’s real life people.

Cold coffee. I’m constantly distracted by something and moving from one thing to another, never slowing down long enough to enjoy my coffee when it’s hot.

The real surprise here is that I even know where my damn coffee is. Usually it teleports itself around my house and I spend most of my day searching for it as it gets colder and colder. Lucky for me I’m more of an iced coffee chick anyway.

go the f**k to sleep

Have you heard of the book Go the F**k to Sleep? Have you actually watched/listened to the narrated version done by Samuel Jackson? He is the connoisseur of the word f**k so it makes it so much funnier. If you haven’t heard of it, read it, listened to it…. here’s the link for you:

Now I’m obviously mentioning this because I needed my kids to go the f**k to sleep. Today I was pushed to all of my mental limits and bed time could not come fast enough. I know plenty of moms who would handle my child’s difficult days with grace and poise. I want to be one of those moms. But by bedtime I’m hyperventilating from my anxiety and can’t take one more intentional rule breaking.

30726681_10105659949827142_73058057620396341_n.jpg

I want this to be my truth.

The morning actually went fairly decent. Both the little ones napped early and I was able to get through some spring cleaning – despite the fact that it apparently is NOT spring here in Minnesota, but rather Snowmageddon.

BUT THEN he. woke. up.

He punched the baby. He pooped in his underwear. Very intentionally might I add. He dumped my water out. Dumped cereal out EVERYWHERE. Was just being a very difficult toddler.

Then we headed out to Blooming Portraits Photography Studio for Oliver’s 9 month photo shoot. I am OBSESSED with getting photos taken. My family hates it. I don’t give a rat’s ass. O was amazing. He smiled, he posed, he took FANTASTIC photos just to make mommy as happy as could be – it may have been unintentional but still. G was able to keep it together until the end of the shoot. And then it all spiraled out of control. It was small things at first, ya know? Not putting on his boots, not coming when I asked him to, not putting his jacket on, not getting into his carseat, screaming when I buckled him into his carseat.

We went grocery shopping because I am a gluten for punishment apparently. Supermom to ALDI! I spent maybe 15 minutes in the store. I grabbed the bare necessities. As we were leaving he was crawling on the conveyor belt, climbing on the bagging area and throwing a balloon at anyone who walked by.

When we got home, he locked himself in the bathroom while I was nursing the baby. He sprayed the entire room down with cleaner. But I didn’t yell. I did what I imagine all the good moms of the world do. I took him to another room, redirected him and I cleaned it up. No yelling. He still cried. And hell, my bathroom that I was already planning to clean, actually got clean.

The finished product of the bathroom he destroyed.

He continued to do as many jerky toddler things as he could think of until I finally felt my sanity snap. So I put him to bed. I told him I loved him, put him in bed and locked the child lock on the handle as I shut the door. I will not do the potty trick, or the water trick, or the adorable pouty lip trick.

Tonight he can just Go the F**k to Sleep.

Confession: I fake it.

I fake it. A lot.

I’m wonderful at telling people how fantastic I am and having them fully believe it. I’m absolutely terrific at plastering on a smile, letting out a bubbly laugh and faking my way through a terrible day, week, month or year.

I am a woman of faith living a life of chaos. I believe with every ounce of my being that there is a plan for my life. A plan for me and for my family.

But during the really tough seasons, no matter how much faith I have that absolutely everything will work itself out, there are times I fake it.

I fake the strength. The strength so many of my friends say they envy. I fake the smile.

Hide the worry, bury the stress, cue the smile, always respond, “I’m fantastic!”

But why? I try my hardest to embrace the chaos of my life.

When the going get tough, the tough mama sucks it up, gets shit done and embraces the chaos and her kids.

That doesn’t mean I don’t pray for some of that chaos to subside. It doesn’t mean I don’t bottle up all of the details of things happening and keep it contained on an inner shelf … it just means that sometimes that you have to FAKE it till you MAKE it even if it’s only for the public eye.

It’s okay to lose it. Sometimes I lose it. You just pick yourself up, brush yourself off and keep moving. Pour yourself a drink if you need to. Sometimes it’s okay to fake it.

I do recommend finding yourself a tribe. I have an amazing village of mamas that I can turn to when things get tough… when I’m feeling hopeless and all I have left to lean on is them and my faith.

Hot Mess Mom

DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER MOMS… WE’RE ALL A HOT MESS AND LOSING OUR SHIT. SOME OF US ARE JUST BETTER AT HIDING IT THAN OTHERS.

Do you ever find yourself comparing yourself to other moms? I do. All. The. Time. I don’t judge other moms – well, I mean, there are the ones who do some truly horrible things to their children and make the news and I definitely judge them. But ever since joining a larger community of moms on Facebook, I don’t judge other moms. But MAN the number of times I’ve caught myself comparing their lives to mine.

I have one friend who stays home with her kids and posts all kinds of amazing activities and adventures on her social media. I find myself wondering why I can’t be as organized as she is. Or creative. And I’ve seen this mom in action SO MANY TIMES. She legitimately is just that FABULOUS.

I have another mom friend who admits to losing her shit all the time. But when we hang out, I envy the way she’s able to talk to her son. The calm that she exudes. It might all be for me, but man do I wish I could think of the things that she says.

One of my friends works full time and is able to do all of these extra things for herself and for her kids. Where does she find the time? Or the energy?

I’ve actually had to come up with a strategy to stop comparing myself to others. With my anxiety I end up focusing WAY TOO MUCH energy on the comparison and get STUCK. But I found three questions to ask myself in these situations …

The first thing I ask myself – “ARE YOU DOING YOUR BEST?” Because if I am, then there is no reason to compare myself to someone else. And if I’m not, there still isn’t a reason to compare myself to someone else. There’s just a reason to work harder on doing better.

The second thing I ask myself – “DO YOU KNOW THE WHOLE STORY?” Because if I don’t know what they’re actually going through, comparing myself to someone else and wishing I was more like them might not actually be any better than my own life.

And lastly I ask myself – “ARE YOU BEING FAIR?” Fair to myself? Fair to the person I’m comparing myself too? Cause likely, I’m not. Especially not myself.

I’ve learned that people are really good at plastering on that fake smile and showing a social media perfect life to people around them but they struggle just like everyone else. And I’m no different. If you knew all the things going on in my life right now, you’d probably have to pick your jaw up off the floor. And I know I’m not the only one.

Make sure you’re happy in real life and not just on social media.

We are all hot mess moms and losing our shit. Every last one of us. Those that say they aren’t… well, I would love to be a fly on the wall in their house cause I could use the help. I’m the master of producing the happy life for house guests, play dates and social media. But I also have it figured out how to be happy in real life not just on Facebook and Instagram. Know what that secret is? Embrace the hot mess life and do your best. That’s it. Seriously.

confessions of a hot mess mom

I confess.

I am a hot mess mom.

My house is always a mess. Unless company is coming over of course. In which case you’ll see my social media home.

Sometimes my kids eat organic foods. Most of the time though they eat store brand foods. I do make amazing dinners but I also feed them chicken nuggets and canned vegetables. Candy is often used as a bribe.

I don’t remember the last time that I was caught up on our laundry.

I cuss like a drunken sailor.

I only wash my hair once a week… you can go ahead and guess how often I shower.

I don’t remember the last time I bought an article of clothing for myself.

I use tablets AND television as a babysitter.

I’m pretty sure that I am judged by other moms constantly and I don’t care.

Sometimes I sneak candy in the bathroom so I don’t have to share.

Want to know what else? The REAL confession I have as a hot mess mom?

I suffer from anxiety and depression. And those intense, shitty feelings make it hard to be a good mom sometimes. Sometimes those feelings leave me short tempered and quick to be set off by what is normal toddler behaviors. I yell too much. I’m impatient. I want to be a good mom more than anything in the world. It’s hard for me. Is it hard for other people? I want to have the patience that other moms seem to find so easily. I want to be the type of mom who can do the fun art projects and field trips without feeling like the world is closing in on me or my heart is going to beat right out of my chest.

I know that I’m not the only one who suffers from mental health problems.

And you know what? I keep doing the art projects and the field trips with my kids. And make sure to snuggle them extra tight and tell them I love them. Cause even a hot mess mom can be a good mom.