Mercy! Mommin’ is HARD!

I love my kids.

I have four…two that I birthed and two bonus cherubs.

I love my kids.

It’s summertime, and I’ve been home with them full time for 50-something days.

I freaking love my kids.

I heard a teacher-turned-comedian go through her set saying, “I love my students,” over and over while describing crazy things they do that test our patience. Since then, I use her strategy when reviewing my tribe’s day-to-day chaos. I jokingly repeat that mantra to myself randomly throughout the day–“I love my kids.”

It’s not a joke, mind you. I DO love my kids. Sometimes they just drive me batty.

They make me scratch my head in confusion. They make me growl in frustration. They make me cry from anger.

They also make me smile with pride. They make me laugh until I cry. They make me feel like my heart could burst because I can’t possibly love them enough.

During the school year, I have a 7-hour “break” from my home kids. So when I’m home in the summertime, my appreciation for teachers grows tenfold. I’m sure some of y’all can relate [winks]. Naturally, the teacher in me attempts to structure the day like a school day. Key word: attempts. I would give myself a strong E for effort in that area.

Combined, we have two 10-year-olds, a 7-year-old, and a 6-year-old. All boys. All. Boys. I repeat, ALL BOYS. Thank you for your whispered prayers, positive thoughts, good juju, and genuine sympathy as you re-read that.

So, anyway, I have four boys. Our days follow the same general schedule: breakfast and screen-time, adventure, lunch, reading time, rest time, screen time, activity, dinner, activity, bath, movie, bed. Sometimes the order is different, but this is pretty much what our day looks like.

First, let me address this “screen-time” before you do. There’s a time limit. And they play together. I mean, I’m not gonna lie sometimes I justify it because they’re technically interacting with people…and sometimes the end-time gets shifted based on my energy level…but, the majority of the time, we stick to our agreement.

Next, let me address the “adventure” and “activity” portions of our day. I stole the title “adventure” from my sister. She ranks in the rockstar status in the area of making things sound way funner than they are–I want to be more like her when I grow up. In the meantime, I’ll steal some of her words and fake some of her energy and hope for the best!

Adventures can be big or small. They can be legit adventures or sister-energy-infused mundane outings. Some qualifying activities include: picnics, trips to the trampoline park, visits to national parks or museums, playground dates, beach days, art projects, target runs, bike rides, and on and on. I mean, honestly, if you present any activity with my sister’s enthusiasm, EVERYTHING is an adventure!

I love my kids.

Not every day is as successful as it sounds.

I get tired. I get run-down. I get lazy. Sometimes I want to lay in the bed until 9am and have my kids make their own breakfast. Sometimes I want to binge-watch an adult show. Sometimes I want to lose an hour on Pinterest. Sometimes I want to listen to music on the porch. Sometimes I want to sit in silence and forget my name and responsibilities. Sometimes I want to let the laundry pile up and the dishes go undone.

Like lots of moms/wives/women, I want to check out. The catch is…I want to check out with no consequences. Like, I want to leave the laundry and have it still get done. I want to leave the dishes but have them done. I want to lay in the bed or get hooked on Pinterest while the house still runs. I don’t want to lose that time either. So that hour I spend laying the bed or zoned into social media wouldn’t be lost. Like some crazy time warp thing where the time would still be the same as when I started.

I know you’re shaking your head. I know you’re mumbling, “bless her” or “amen sister.” Total honesty here.

Kids need a referee. They need a chef. They need a housekeeper. They need a life coach. They need a freakin’ manager, y’all. A personal dern assistant. Someone to remind them that the day begins with a clean outfit and some toothpaste on their teeth. They need someone to keep their minds engaged in the living people in their immediate vicinity. They need a gentle reminder to be nice to their siblings and parents…and neighbors and friends and people in general. They need a reminder about sustaining life through food and water consumption. Mom is that reminder. I am that reminder. Me.

I love my kids. And I love that I’m in that role of the master reminderer.

It’s a strange combination of power and pressure that not everyone is equipped to handle gracefully. Ok, I just felt your reaction to the word gracefully. Maybe you think gracefully is an interesting choice of words. Let’s discuss…

Go back to fourth grade. If you’re like me, it’s too far and I’ve lost you already. It’s fresher for me because two of my boys just finished fourth grade. You learned grammar and word stems and prefixes and suffixes and root-words during that school term. So, let’s look closely at the word gracefully.

According to my friends Miriam and Webster, grace means the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful; mercy. Further, graceful means displaying grace. So, displaying consideration or thoughtfulness or mercy. Therefore, gracefully means to do something in a considerate, thoughtful, or merciful way.

So, to restateIt’s a strange combination of power and pressure that not everyone is equipped to handle gracefully. To handle with consideration for the differences in your children’s needs and personalities. To handle with thoughtful actions, statements, strategies based on their experiences and emotions. To handle mercifully, knowing that sometimes you make mistakes, sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes you don’t know what the heck you’re doing.

What a heavy load to bear, huh? But you know what–you and I are part of a strong community.

Mommin’ is hard, y’all. It’s not for the weak of heart. It’s not for the unsure. It’s not for the people who think they have all the answers. My mom has always told me, “NEVER say, ‘my kid will never…because one of them WILL.'” This job is full of inconsistencies and changes and trials with lots of errors. If your heart’s in the right place, the kinks will work out and the babes will turn out alright.

So imma hang my hat on that MERCY in GRACE.

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The Silence

Hear that?

That loud, empty quiet…

That anxiety-filled, exhausting space…

That question-producing, self-conscious place…

That lonely headspace that happens when your loved one, friend, or significant other is hurting, struggling, down, reflecting, or experiencing some other emotion or situation to which you’re not invited…

I used to employ the silent treatment. In my other life…when I thought nobody understood me during my teens and again when I thought it wasn’t important during my marriage. I would retreat to my cave–remember that place? The mind cave where I go to crawl into my feelings…the place that can trap you if you’re not careful. Yeah, that place. I would pack my bags and settle in for a long winters nap…or until my brain worked out my emotions and created a plan for dealing with the outside world and my inside turmoil.

“The Silent Treatment.”

I get it. I really do. I still retreat to that place sometimes, y’all know that. My visit is much shorter than it used to be. But I still go. My process time could be described as giving the silent treatment. It’s not on purpose or meant to hurt anyone. It’s more of a self-preservation thing. Like, I’m experiencing this THING and my emotions are chaotic.

The realization that you’re hurting “outsiders”–meaning those people who don’t live in your brain– is one that doesn’t happen until you happen to be an outsider, yourself. You don’t even realize the questions you’re producing in someone else’s brain when you retreat to your mind cave. You don’t know the extent of self-doubt, confusion, or hurt you’re potentially spraying into your loved ones’ brains and emotional banks.

This is a recent realization for me, personally. Y’all might be on a different level, might have different perspectives on this process and treatment…I stand by my fine print–my statements are based on my experiences and emotions, not an end-all, be-all.

So, like I said, I employ the silent treatment. Always have. BUT…come on, y’all knew there was gonna be a “but.” I love a paradigm shift, a change in perspective, a devils advocate-type of discussion.

Anyway, I have retreated to my mind cave. Sometimes I still do retreat to my mind cave. Like, yesterday. And I employ the silent treatment. I have and I do. Like, last week. BUT it’s not days, not a multiple-day trip. It doesn’t even require bags anymore.

Why?

Because I talk. I leave the lonely space. I stand up. I allow myself time to be on the floor, in my head, in my feelings for a minute……..and then I. Get. Up.

Y’all find someone to talk to. Find someone who won’t talk back. Find someone who won’t ask questions. Find someone who has no dog in the fight. Find someone who will sit and listen to you talk it out.

Find someone who will listen to YOU FIGURE IT OUT.

You don’t need to hear advice. You don’t need to hear how someone else did it. You don’t need to hear how you’re right and he’s wrong. You need to hear–I understand…what do you think…how do you feel about that… Be in a judgement-free zone.

Y’all find a friend like that. Be a friend like that. Talk. Seriously…TALK. Get up. Seriously! GET. UP. Figure it out. Don’t be the reason someone takes a trip to their own mind cave. Forward progress, people.

Puzzles

How do you know you’ve met “the one?”  I mean, is that even a thing anymore?  The One?

I’m talking about the peanut butter to your jelly…the up to your down…the sun to your shine…the ebony to your ivory…the salt to your pepper…your soul mate…your perfect match…your other half…the missing piece to your puzzle…the one who is said to “complete” you.

How do you know they’ve made their entrance, stage left and are ready to take their role?  

Are there fireworks in your brain?  Are there googly eyes and unicorns and rainbows?  Is there music playing?  

I mean, I’m going full romantic comedy here but really…I’m asking for a friend.

Fun Fact: I don’t pick the best male partners.

I’m pretty sure my parents would agree with this statement. My track record is a bit questionable. And I guess I use the word “partner” very loosely.

From the stage where I stand right now, I see my twisted dating journey so clearly. I see the lack of self worth, low self esteem, and loss of control. It’s so clear to me why I turned into Richard from Saturday Night Live–“I do it myself!” Once my marriage ended, I took control. Out of both necessity and desire.

Since my divorce, I’ve been on an I-am-woman-hear-me-roar kick. Full-on look-at-my-independence, I-can-do-this-myself, step-to-the-side-please, single mom pedestal. I’ve told y’all about my “I-don’t-need-you-I-want-you” perspective on relationships.

Enter Mister, stage left.

I wasn’t even prepared for his entrance. Matter of fact, his entrance came below the radar of my heart due to the time and head space I was occupying. Even saying that, though, I can identify exactly how I felt when I first met him.

No fireworks. No music. No googly eyes. Ok, maybe googly eyes. But I knew. I could feel it in my bones. This man is my person.

But the timing wasn’t right. I wasn’t ready to have the right thing yet.

Fast forward. Two years later. The land has been claimed. The flags have been captured. The label has been given.

Scary? Yes. Intimidating? Yes! Worth it? YES!

My 20-year-old self wasn’t ready for this type of love. My 30-year-old self couldn’t have handled the way he looks at me. My 34-year-old self wouldn’t have let him take care of me. But my 35-year-old self? She’s ready. She’s ready for that soul-touching, top-shelf love.

It makes me a little sad to think that I was missing this. It hurts my heart to know that I could have been experiencing this selfless love way sooner. It baffles me that I thought I didn’t want this or, worse, didn’t deserve this.

But I DO deserve this. Everyone deserves this. Every person out there should feel this crazy, unexplainable happiness. Everyone should smile uncontrollably and giggle for no reason. Everyone should connect on a level so deep that no words need to be spoken. Everyone deserves to KNOW that someone loves them; to feel it way down deep. Everyone should be so confident and secure in a relationship that no fears or worries or doubts exist. Everyone. Deserves. This. This happiness. This connection. This trust. This support. This love.

So, y’all get you a man who sees down to your soul when he looks at you. Get you someone who makes it hard to lock eyes with because of the butterflies he gives you. Get you someone who’s main objective is your comfort and happiness. Get you one who cleans up when your kid (not his) throws up in the middle of the night. Get you one who has your car detailed while you’re out. Get you one who lays in bed and watches the church service. Get you one who shows you off. Get you one who can’t keep his eyes off of you. Get you one who makes you feel loved. Get you one who wants nothing from you…except you.

Cause y’all….I got me one of those. And I’m riding first-class on this train.

Mind Cave

Y’all ever taken a mental time-out?  A retreat, of sorts, to clear your head?  Gotten really real with yourSELF?

I’m presently returning from one of those trips.  I’m a frequent flyer.  Don’t judge.  Or gawk.  I told y’all…I’m a mom; I’m a teacher; I’m dating; I’m divorced; etc, etc, etc.  I have lots of reasons to dive into my head and my heart.

It’s a slippery slope, though…that slide into the mind cave is NOT paved with speed bumps, stop signs, or curbs. It does not have stop lights or no wake zones. It’s a straight shot. A downhill straight shot. So you have to tread lightly. Be aware. STAY aware. Because you can get stuck in there. Continue reading “Mind Cave”

All Aboard!

Session #2: Train Wrecks

Y’all grab your pen and paper again…therapy is in session.

So, I’ve mentioned a couple times that I’m divorced. Again, happily. I also casually mentioned somewhere in the middle of a paragraph that I’m dating. Kinda. <shrugs> If that’s even what you call it in your thirties. With kids. And an ex-husband. For sake of conversation, we’ll use “dating” for lack of another, more accurate word. Continue reading “All Aboard!”

Sighs and Stares

Parenting. <deep sigh>

Jesus take the wheel.

Somebody find Rhonda, and tell her to help me.

Push the Life Alert button.

Sound the alarm.

Is anybody in the universe killin’ the parenting game? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller…Bueller…

Y’all…<deep sigh> I keep breathin’ hard because inserting “blank stare” isn’t as effective. But I employ both. Regularly. My oldest just said to me tonight, “what’s that stare for?” So I sighed, and he said, “what’d I do, mom, just tell me.” So I stared. I use this tactic when I’m struggling to control my emotions and my mouth and my hands all at the same time…it’s overwhelming, so something has to shut down in order for my brain to turn involuntary reactions into voluntary non-reactions. Even for a minute. It’s tough. I have no words. My brain is working too hard controlling myself to produce words and send them to my mouth. So I continue this tennis-like reaction to his behavior–sigh, stare, sigh, stare, sigh…the cycle is only broken when the weakest caves and walks away. I’m not too proud to admit that it’s me. Sometimes. Ok, rarely. Fine, hardly ever. <hard sigh> ok, fine, like 1 in 8 times I walk away. I already told y’all I was stubborn.

The universe loves to scream “SIKE!” at me regarding parenting these two lovely little human beings I call my offspring. Loves to scream it in my face like a dude who’s just jammed an opponent’s dunk attempt down his throat in a tied playoff game with 10 seconds left on the clock. And I’m left standing there like Kobe, hands up like “you gonna call that, ref?!”

My parenting game is like a rollercoaster. 30-minute intervals. If one half-hour is good, I’m preparing myself for a horrible half-hour to follow. Ok, sometimes it’s not 30-minutes. I shouldn’t be so extreme. Sometimes it’s 10 minutes. No lie. Sometimes it’s 4 hours. Sometimes it’s 2 days. And when it’s longer periods of unicorns and rainbows, I’m in my head like, “uuuggghhhhh come on man” because I know my kids. They’re just trying to trick me into lowering my guard so their “comeback” can be epic. It’s serious mountains and valleys, y’all. Continue reading “Sighs and Stares”

“Miss Teacher Lady!”

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I’m killin’ this teacher thing.  Thirteen years has given me the confidence to speak that into the universe.  I. Am. Killing. This.

Lies!  Y’all, those are lies!  Thirteen years at this thing has taught me that I’m not killing it, have never been killing it, and never will be killing this teacher thing.  Every year is different.  Every semester is different.  Every month is different.  Every day is different.  Every student is different.

You know what’s NOT different?  The stories.  The stories that your precious offspring bring to show-and-share’s around the world.  Priceless does not even begin to describe these insights into your homes, your weekends, your families.

These nuggets give me life. 

Continue reading ““Miss Teacher Lady!””

Going Green…ish

I mentioned that I’m attempting to go organic and natural.  Key word: attempting.  Like, I’m giving it a good ole college try.  Both my SIL’s have been hinting at eating organic, changing lotions and skincare regimens, switching deoderants, and using natural remedies for illness.  Ok, let’s be real…by “hinting” I mean dropping bombs.  Like, almost sidewalk-gathering, sign-making, shout-it-all-together demands for change–NO meat!  Make your own deoderant!  Elderberry syrup!  No sugar!  Dairy-free!  I have 15 chickens in my suburban yard!  I mean, I almost expect to see hairy armpits and vans down by the river soon.  All this pressure finally peaked my interest.  I mean, I wanna be a cool kid, too…

2019 is my year to clean our systems.  Ok, ok…to a point.  Let me be clear, I have some very boujee, non-organic, unnatural habits.  For example:

  • I dye my hair a range of colors every 8-9 weeks.  Judging by their scent, I’m going to confidently say that they are not plant-based or natural.
  • I have my nails done every 3 weeks.  I believe it’s safe to assume that the dip powder and chemicals used to soak it off are NOT all-natural or organic.
  • I drive an SUV.  It uses a lot of gas.  In my defense, I mentioned my two boys–they play every sport imaginable…and sometimes they get on my nerves.  I need the back seat.  Aaannnddd the back-back seat.

So, with those exceptions–because, let’s be honest, I’m not ready to give them up–I’ve decided that 2019 is our year for cleaner systems. Continue reading “Going Green…ish”

A Piece of my Fabric

Therapy Session #1: Narcissism

Remember when I told y’all I don’t see a therapist anymore?  Well, here you are…about the kill it as my new confidant.  Let’s put your mad skills to use.  Pen and paper out…session #1 begins now.

I am divorced.  Quite happily, actually.  The fifteen-year relationship I deemed the most important in my life at the time was dark, unpredictable, unhealthy, and fake.  I stepped into the light…tentatively and with lots of hesitation, but stepped nonetheless…and have never looked back in longing or regret.  Not ever.

My ex-husband and I dated for seven years before tying the knot.  I knew.  I knew he wasn’t  the one.  I knew he had a major issue.  I knew I was going down a dark path…possibly one of no return.  But, I’m stubborn.  I’m not a quitter.  I like to be right, to prove people wrong, and to fix problems.  He was a problem that I couldn’t fix, but I wouldn’t accept that for fifteen years. Continue reading “A Piece of my Fabric”

Jump in, feet first

Just like cold water, there’s no better way to get used to it–jump in, feet first!  So, here I am…wingin’ this blogging thing, this teacher thing, this momma thing…just wingin’ this life thing!

I’m Abbey, y’all.  I’m a momma.  I’m an early childhood teacher.  I’m a divorcee.  I’m dating.  I’m trying to go organic and natural (to a point, let’s not get crazy).  I’m finding my faith.  And I. Am. Strugglin’.  At all of it.  Like, forreal.  I mean, does anyone have this thing under control?  Ever?  I feel like just when my confidence is up, the universe says, “SIKE!”

So, I’m going to share some of my experiences with y’all.  I’m hoping I can make some of you feel normal (is that a thing?), give some of you a little confidence (you ARE rockin’ this life), shed some light on things (nobody’s a genius at everything), and clear my head and heart in the process.

I don’t see a therapist anymore, so you are it.  Get ready.  You got this.

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