More than a decade ago, I started out on my mothering journey with a simple premise: I was going to love the little baby growing inside of me like no one else could.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Taking some time

I'm running a bit low today, and thankfully, it is a Monday, which means I have the option of taking some time for myself while the kids are at school (provided I give my littlest an activity first).  I turned on a show for my girlie, and sat down to look for directions for a project I am working on, and this was the first thing on my screen:
Image from FindingJoy.Net. Reads: "There is no Supermom. There are Real Moms. Real, Authentic, Trying Giving, Loving and Tired Moms who admit that they do no always have it all together but keep on fighting and loving."
It was a timely reminder for me.  A few days ago I shared some thoughts about feeling inadequate on my personal facebook page.  (Edited for clarity.)
Sometimes, as a mom, I get the sense that I am not enough. Maybe you feel that way too. Like you can never be or do enough?
But I know that isn't true. I am enough, and so are you, just by being who you are. A woman I met when I moved to Washington urged me to allow myself grace. Would I allow someone to talk trash about one of my friends? (Never!) Why let that kind of thinking stay in my head?
This fall, I am working on allowing myself to acknowledge when I feel "not enough." I try to remember that *I am,* and that *being* is enough. I'm not alone in my fears and insecurities, and I don't intend the facade of perfect lives on Facebook to rob me of connections with people I love and care about.
So there it is. What's on my mind? Insecurities. Love. Grace. Community.
As a mom with five *very* busy kids, I get lots of comments about my mothering. Usually they are complementary. (Though not always!)  For reasons I can't quite articulate, those compliments often make me uncomfortable.  I'll be the first to admit that I am far from perfect.  Somehow, somewhere in my brain, those comments about my parenting translate into subtle pressure to do better, be better, do more.

Repeatedly and emphatically, I want to reject a paradigm where parents need to do it all.  I'm not pinterest perfect, and I'm pretty sure my kids are fine with that.  I mess up.  I swear.  I forget to transfer laundry until it has to be re-washed...  Twice, or more than that on occasion.  I lose picture day envelopes, and registration paperwork to after school activities.  I schedule a doctor appointment on a Thursday, and then put it on the calendar for a Friday.

At the same time, I love my kids, and they know it.  I apologize when I mess up.  I read them stories.  I search pinterest for ways to help them learn when they struggle.  I sing them goofy songs, I play games with them.  I don't have to be in tune, or stylishly dressed, or have an immaculate home.  I just need to be me, and love them unconditionally. And...  I have to believe that is enough.  I am enough.  Otherwise, I'll go crazy trying to be SuperMom. There just is no such thing.  We're all human with flaws and insecurities and struggles unique to our selves.

Friday, October 2, 2015


Today, the school has "Dads and Donuts" in the multipurpose room.  My husband took two kids to school with some gluten free cinnamon rolls, and left me to my own devices.  My feral beastie is upstairs watching kids videos, which means, for about five minutes, it is quiet.  A rare and mysterious thing, in my home.

October has arrived, with cooler weather and the appearance of orange and red leaves.  Pumpkins and ghosts have begun appearing on my pinterest feed.  I have begun considering Halloween costumes and birthday gifts.  School is getting into the swing of things, with spelling tests and study guides and dance permission slips.

I find myself wishing to spend a weekend in the woods, soaking it all in, before it gets away and the cold and rain starts in earnest.  Perhaps I will manage that soon.  For now I am trying to embrace the moment as it is.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Feel Good Friday

I am rambley and relaxed this morning, in spite of a bit of chaos getting everyone out the door this morning.  It's Friday, and I'm looking forward to having some relaxation and fun this weekend.  The kids are excited about a family dance at the school tonight- Neon "Where The Wild Things Are" themed.  I'm looking forward to it too, I think.  I'm hoping to get my camera all set up so I can take a few photos for the yearbook.

I've been on medication for ADHD symptoms for three weeks now.  The initial relief and elation at having answers has worn off a bit, but I am enjoying life so much more than I was before my diagnosis.  I'm able to do self care every morning: I take my meds and prescribed vitamin D3 supplement, brush my teeth and hair, and do a sinus saline rinse.  And I am eating breakfast every day too!  I am able to organize my thoughts and plans so much better. That\ means tasks like picking out clothes, or packing the kids lunches, are less stressful.

The downside?  Well, some of my personality traits weren't magically replaced with my desirable type A traits.  I still prefer to procrastinate less desirable tasks.  I would much prefer to dive into a Lego project, or play UNO, or do crafts with one of the kids than clean the front room or go grocery shopping. I'm also more aware of my body, which means it is harder to ignore those annoying "go to sleep" signals that my body sends me.  Still, I'm sleeping better too, so I can't complain too much.

The past few weeks, overall, have been positive.  I feel good about getting into a new routine.  This morning, I shared with my 13 yo how impressed with her I am.  When I recieved my ADHD diagnosis, I asked her if we could work together on improving our "executive functioning skills."  She has been so fabulous with accepting help, and offering it when she can.  I can see her creativity and intelligence shining through so beautifully, and find it amazing.  I have put a priority on checking in with her each day, and she has put a priority on staying on top of her homework and chores.  Learning together has made all the difference.

I feel pretty good today.  Formidable things have been faced head on.  I like it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


After my epic summer adventure, I wanted to sit down and share about the experience.  Each time I tried, the words wouldn't flow.  People, lots of people, knew about my trip, and wanted to hear how it went.  Each time, I would laugh, not with mirth, but because the question was so difficult to answer.  My summer was epic.  It was wonderful, and awful.  It was exactly what I needed, but not exactly what I wanted.  It was full of joy, and grief, and fun, and stress, and peace, and chaos, and boredom, and presence.

I came home, happy to be home, happy to have had the experience of road tripping with my kids for more than half the summer.  I came home and was thrust back into our regular, daily routine.  The one where I have to think about more than that day's meals and being with my kids.  The routine where I can rely on certain things happening at the same time, every day.  The routine that can be tedious and boring, but is also reassuring in its predictability.

I found I had changed.  Some subtle shift had happened that demanded more, not just from me, but FOR me. Two weeks in to the school year, and I find myself soul searching: uncomfortable with what I see, hopeful for what might be...  But thankful to be on this journey, with my family and friends on my side.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Back to School, Back to Sight Words and Spelling

Last year was tough. The expectations for spelling and sight words went up, and my first grader wasn't picking the words up the way my other kids had.  Tears, tantrums, and headaches became part of our routine.  Practicing writing them, rearranging cut out letters or Scrabble tiles, flash cards...  None of that worked for her.  It was awful for both of us.  I needed dig deep, and come up with another way to support her learning journey.  Pinterest to the rescue!

 My first set of sight words, I printed the words on sticker paper.  They could be tricky to shuffle, and had to be reoriented every time so they weren't upside down. I discovered that a fine tip Sharpie worked just fine, and I could write the words twice so that they could be read however the cards were handed out.

Sometimes we would play UNO, and sometimes we played War or Go Fish.  I found it worked best for us to have each word appear once, so that we could practice more words.  We integrated subtle handicaps, and talked about good sportsmanship and the importance of struggling to do things that are hard.  

A few of the special rules we added annoy the older siblings, but as I have explained to them, the point into to compete to win.  It's to have fun and LEARN!  For example, if I played a +4 wild card, Mira has the option of spelling the words she draws to discard them, or adding them to her hand.  Mom doesn't have that option (or at least doesn't use it!) because she's already been through elementary school.

We keep a plastic bin on our dining room bookshelf so that our study-games stay accessible.  We have a couple boxes of UNO cards, and current playing cards, as well as several sets of Little Hands Card Holders from Gamewright.  I totally recommend them!  

Second grade will have new spelling words and sight words, but I think with an attitude of "It's okay to struggle," and confidence that we'll get through the struggle together, it will end up a successful year...  Even if success isn't measured in 3s and 4s.

(A side note: Costco sells 12 packs of playing cards for a very affordable price.)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Back to School 2015

It's back to school week at my house!  My four year old went back to preschool yesterday, and the second and fifth graders started this morning.  We were loaded up and in the car this morning at 8:05.  Dressed to the shoes, fed, and ready to go.  Each had a packed lunch, backpack, and box of school supplies, and I only had to go back inside once, to grab some papers and spare meds to deliver to the nurses office.  Please excuse me while I toot my own horn:  YAY Mama!

I have some dry erase stickers on my fridge, which I've been using to great benefit this week.  Yesterday, my note to myself said, "DON'T PANIC! -Prioritize. - Break tasks into bite size steps. -Use your timer."  On the other side, I wrote four categories down in one hour blocks, to help me stay on track.  Otherwise, I tend to get side tracked and before I know it, it's 7pm, no one has had a real dinner, and I'm losing my mind from trying to get it all done simultaneously.

It's midday.  My youngest is watching a tv show while she eats her lunch, and I'm surveying our home.  Checking my calendar, considering the concept of setting priorities.  Last year, my priorities were fairly basic.  Those top tier tasks always got done.  The kids were fed, cleaned, clothes, educated, and loved.  For myself, second tier tasks are the mandatory chores that support the top tier- laundry, dishes, trash and recycling, and general tidying up. Those are tasks that have to be relatively kept up on, but there is a little leeway in the how and when.  The next level, though... Decluttering, maintaining the garage, mowing the lawn, pairing socks, organizing dressers and desk supplies, and so on...  Those are the tasks that tend to be neglected.

This year, I'd like to learn how to better manage my time and energy with consistency.  When the tasks that matter are taken care of, we'll have the opportunity to CHOSE what we want to do with our time, rather than constantly needing to run to keep up with the essentials until we burn out from exhaustion.  Right now, makes a choice looks like a 15 minute timer for tidying one room, and then checking in with my Routine To Do List.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Blogging on This Mama's Madness

I have been blogging infrequently over the last year.  Respecting my kids privacy when publishing my thoughts on the web can be tricky business.  However, perhaps over the next few months I will find ways to strike that balance, and find balance in other ways.

When I decided it was time to seek additional professional help in August, part of that decision was fueled by the sense that I was living half a life. It seemed that between meeting my kids needs, and frittering my confetti of free time away on facebook and goofy games, I had nothing left to nurture my soul.

In the past, writing nurtured my soul.  Reading novels, playing with fabric and paint and markers nurtures me.  Building with Legos and cuddling with the people I love nurtures me.  These are things that became difficult as my life became busier. The ability to cope with chaos, noise, and unpredictability had been eluding me.

Have you ever gone walking or hiking with someone with really long legs?  I'm you are walking along a hill, maybe a slight incline.  They're just strolling easily, and every so often stopping and waiting for you to catch up.  Meanwhile, you are huffing and puffing, bright red and sweating, and after a while, practically running in an attempt to keep up with them.  And perhaps mentally beating yourself up for not being in better shape, not training more effectively, or packing a lighter pack...  That pretty much sums up what my life felt like increasingly often over the last few years.
I hope to find that a combination of meds and therapy will help me.  I can see myself building new skills, learning ways to improve my executive functioning so I can more fully enjoy my family and our life together.  Over the past week, instead of having to jog to keep up with the basics, I am able to take a leisurely stroll. I can see what need to be done, and work on doing it.  Breaking tasks down into baby steps is more accessible.  The world around me feels quieter.  Calmer, somehow.  I'm not sure what I was expecting from ADHD meds, but that wasn't it.

My youngest started back to preschool today.  My elementary aged kids start back to school tomorrow, and the older two start on Thursday.  I'm looking forward to having the structure reinstated. I can see our family really thriving. I believe this is going to be a good year.  And maybe, just maybe, I will have the time to blog on This Mama's Madness.