I’m Trying To Love Yoga, But It’s Tough

I love to work out. I used to love running and anything that got my heart rate going. Unfortunately, due to Grave’s Disease, my doctor suggested I focus on types of exercise that keep my heart rate from going through the roof. He suggested classes that were more low key and less stressful.

Enter yoga.

Yoga–I’m trying to learn to love you. But it’s tough.

First of all, I am one of the most non-flexible persons you will meet. I cannot touch my toes. My body just refuses to stretch out.  It doesn’t seem to get better as the class goes on either. Everyone in yoga class doesn’t seem to have this problem. I’m constantly having to use blocks or straps to force my body into yoga positions. Everyone around me seems to be able to get into whatever pose the instructor advises without any problem.

Second, I cannot for the life of me shut my brain off. The instructor is telling the class to breathe in and out and focus on breath, to clear the mind. My mind will not stop. The whole time, I’m thinking: How much longer is this class? I have so much laundry to do when I get home.  I should’ve had another coffee this morning. I need to remember to swing by the store to grab a gallon of milk before I head home. Oh, wait, breathe, breathe, this song is so boring… I have tried to focus on my breathing and the soft, calming music that they play in class. But I can’t keep the thoughts from coming.

Third, I cannot do the class with my eyes closed. It’s too nerve-wracking. I’m constantly peeking around to see what everyone else is doing. I start to compare my poses to theirs. Ugh, it’s so frustrating to not be flexible! How the heck does that lady do that handstand thingy? Oh, God, how much time is left in this class?

But, for some crazy reason, I keep returning to try yoga over and over again. I am convinced that at some point I will be able to close out all the thoughts in my mind and I will be able to focus on breathing and my yoga poses. I will be able to do triangle, bow and happy baby without grunting and using extra yoga equipment.

Yoga, I’m not going to give up on you. I’m trying to love you–hopefully one day soon that will happen.

Namaste.

Will I Be Skinny In Heaven? (My Daughters and Body Image)

A few weeks ago, one of our sweet cats passed away. She was older, and she had been having health issues for a few months. My younger girls (they are seven) had a lot of questions about where our cat would go after she died.

“She will go to Heaven,” I told them. “I have heard that in Heaven, everyone is perfect and healthy again, and they are happy and joyous.”

One of my girls said this to me, and it hurt my heart…
“Mommy, does that mean that I’ll be skinny when I go to Heaven?”

My daughter who said this is beautiful and incredible in our family’s eyes in every way. She plays sports, and she is an athletic girl who can hit a softball like a champ. She kills it on the tennis court. She jumps on our trampoline like crazy. She always asks if we can go for bike rides. I know I don’t need to justify her lifestyle, but she’s active. She eats balanced meals, and she does have dessert when we have it because we talk about enjoying food and using food for energy.  As much as we talk at home about the importance of making healthy choices (choosing to be active each day and eating well-balanced meals), my daughter is already worried about her body image.

How has this happened, I ask myself. I try not to get too anxious about the question she asked that day, but she’s only seven. And she’s asking if she will be skinny when she goes to Heaven. Where did she get the idea that she has a weight issue? And why does she think the shape of her body is a bad thing? Did someone at school say something about her body? Is it something she heard or saw on a TV show? Did an adult say something? Is she already comparing her body shape to the shape of other kids at school–in first grade?

I want to protect her so badly from going down this negative body image path. I’ve been there, and it can be so disastrous. At home, we do our best to not talk about dieting. I am not crazy about some parts of my body, but I’ve learned to appreciate what my body can do and accept what it looks like. I make an effort to talk about my body positively when I do mention something about it. My husband and I remind the girls that God wrapped us all in different packages, but what’s inside that package, who we really are and not what we look like, is the most important gift.

I want my girls to grow up loving who they are and what they look like. I want them to realize that they might not like their thighs, but those thighs make for a strong runner. How amazing and beautiful their bodies are! I want my girls to be physically healthy and feel secure with what they see in the mirror.  I’m doing what I can to promote healthy body image here at home, but those negative images are creeping into our household anyway.

So, when my daughter asked me if she would be skinny in Heaven, I told her, “God chose to make you the way you are. We are all perfect in God’s eyes. He gave you strong arms to swing a bat and tennis racket. He gave you muscles so you can run fast and long. There is absolutely nothing about you that God would change and nothing about you that I would change. I love you just the way you are. You are a gift to everyone here on Earth and you would be a gift in Heaven just this way.”

I’ll keep reminding my sweet daughter (and my other daughters) just how amazing, healthy and strong our bodies are. I pray that any insecure thoughts any of them have about their bodies are outweighed by the positive and healthy conversations we have at home.

The Daily Nightmare Called Dinner

I have the same nightmare. It happens every night, especially nights that we are at home. It’s, for certain, the most stressful time of the day for me. It’s time of day I dread more than anything. It usually involves yelling, crying, groaning, or a combination of all three. My nightmare is called Dinner Time.

My three kids cannot, will not, ever agree on the same dinner. One of my youngest girls declared she was a vegetarian back when she turned three, so making any dish that involves meat is out of the question. My other two girls are a little easier to cook for, but each of them only like a couple fruits and two veggies (corn and broccoli). I eat gluten-free due to an autoimmune disease.  That means I become a short-order cook at mealtime. Mac and cheese for the vegetarian–and I toss some fruit onto her plate since it’s one thing she does actually love and won’t complain about.  Hamburgers with pickles (that’s close enough to a vegetable, right?) for the other two, and I throw some of the leftover mac and cheese on their plates. Me, I eat the burger sans bun and watch the girls gobble down their noodle-cheese comfort food with envy. God, I miss gluten.

Of course, halfway through the meal, the vegetarian will declare something like, “This isn’t the mac and cheese I like. I wanted the one shaped like Sponge Bob! I’m not eating this!” She pushes her plate aside, and the dinner tantrum starts. Another kid will say, “I’m full–I don’t really feel like eating any more of my burger. But can I have dessert now?” I say no, to eat the burger first, and now I have two kids grumbling about how awful dinner is. My voice starts to get louder, “I just spent the last thirty minutes cooking all this. You need to eat it! And no dessert until you do!” And the third sweet child knows to keep her mouth shut and just continue to eat dinner whether she likes what’s on her plate or not.

Eating out isn’t any more pleasant. Choosing a place that everyone is happy with becomes dramatic–one starts crying because we aren’t going to Chick-fil-A again, one is angry because we ALWAYS go to Panera Bread, or I get a bunch of eye-rolling and huge sighs because I picked a restaurant that is organic and what I consider more healthy (“Oh, gross. Organic food is disgusting! Even daddy says so!”).

Guess what, kids? Unfortunately, I’m the one that does the cooking and I’m the one that can drive a car. So, therefore, it looks like you are going to have to deal with whatever I make for dinner. You will have to go to whatever restaurant I drive to when we head out for the night.   And you will have to eat it (unless you want to pay for it).  Complain all you want, but dinner is dinner–you get what you get.

I’m perfectly happy if you’d like to cook dinner instead. Please, do.

Oh, and don’t forget when you do the cooking, that I don’t like gluten, carrots, or red meat. And I promise will do my best to pitch a fit if you make something I don’t want.

What I Learned When I Tried To Be A Super Mom

A few years ago, when my twins were babies and my oldest was still in grade school, I wanted to do it all. I wanted to prove I could help and be one of those moms that could accomplish a million things. Everything.. You need a room mom? Of course I’ll do it! A coach for the team? Sure, I will fit that in.  Looking for a teacher to work part-time at your school? I’m your woman! There’s an opening on the PTO board? Yes, I’ll take it.

I was sure I could juggle every task, do it well, and take care of my family duties with ease. I saw other Super Moms in my neighborhood, and I knew I could do what they were doing too. They made their lives look so easy, and how they loved to talk about all their accomplishments! I was jealous of all they were achieving, and I wanted to be able to talk about accomplishments too. I wanted other moms to look at me and see how much I could do and how amazing I was. I could be a Super Mom just like them.

That year, I helped coach my oldest’s fall and spring running groups while dragging my little ones with me. I rearranged my schedule to make it to all the class events and parties with two year-old twins in tow. I attended all the monthly PTO meetings and spent hours at my computer putting together PTO newsletters and updating website material. I started a job as a new preschool teacher and had to create lesson plans, communicate with parents and learn the procedures of a new job. Along with all those duties, I still had to find time to help with homework, make dinner, and tend to my girls’ needs each day..

To say I was exhausted was an understatement. I burned out–fast. But I’m not a quitter, so I did finish up all my duties I had agreed to for that busy year. Here’s what I learned trying to be Super Mom:

  1. No one really cared about all that I was doing except for me.
    I don’t think anyone really gave a crap about how many “titles” I rattled off to them when I’d attempt to tell them how busy I was as a mom. Been there, done that moms probably wanted to tell me that I was on the crazy train and at some point I’d realize I needed to jump off.  In the end, I was attempting to do it all and really didn’t get any accolades from anyone for it. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I guess I was hoping I’d outdo some of the Super Moms in my town, and that I’d hear lots of compliments about how amazing I was as a mom to work, volunteer, and raise three little children. I don’t remember hearing much of that.
  2. I yelled a whole lot more.
    I took on way too much (totally my fault) and I ended up being a super-stressed mom who constantly had to work or volunteer. I had a husband who was always on the road for work and late most nights he was in town, and I was trying to raise three little girls and give them everything they needed. Trying to get anything done became stressful. I was anxious all the time, and on a tight schedule each day. If the kids grumbled or cried about having to come along to any of my Super Mom duties, it would just add to the anxiety and I’d yell a lot more. My over-full plate was what was causing all the stress at home, not the kids.
  3. I had absolutely no time to do things I loved.
    While trying to prove myself as an amazing mom, I missed out on most things I enjoyed. I had no time to read books I had purchased and had on my list to enjoy. I had to say no to lunch dates after work and evening events with friends because I was too busy trying to be Super Mom. Get a manicure? When the heck would I have time for one of those? Go to the movies with the kids? Sorry, kids, you’ll have to ask your dad because mommy’s too busy getting all her lessons ready for school this week. I missed out on a ton of fun with family and friends because I took on too much.
  4. I was completely exhausted, and so were my kids.
    How greedy I was to try to do it all! As I look back now, my poor girls were exhausted and didn’t have much fun being pulled to all my meetings and scheduled events. I’m so lucky they were so patient and well-behaved through that year. I am sure it was an and even more exhausting and rough year for all three girls than it was for me. I was nuts thinking that I could do it all, and that they could do it all with me too.  It was unfair and greedy of me to put myself first.

As that school year ended, I realized I needed to lessen my load. I decided to drop some of my volunteer duties so my kids had more time to hang at home and wind down. I made plans with friends I had neglected from being so busy. My girls and I had time to go to the movies or the playground after school.  My stress and anxiety went way down. I remember my oldest daughter telling me one evening, “Mommy, I’m so glad you aren’t doing all that stuff anymore. You yell way less than you used to.”

I tried hard to be Super Mom, but it was something I couldn’t do. It simply wasn’t worth it for me. This simple life is way more my style.  And we are all happier.

What The Heck Was I Thinking When I Thought I Wanted A Fourth Child?

Years ago, when the twins were still in their diaper/bottle/sweet cuddly baby phase, I was sure I wanted us to try for a fourth baby. “Wouldn’t it be so sweet to have one more?” I’d ask my husband each night. “Maybe it’d be a boy,” I’d say. Eric would just shake his head no at me. Two had been his limit and I had originally wanted three kids. I got my three with the twins, but having a fourth sounded so amazing. We’d have an even number of children. Maybe we’d end up with a son. We would have a little one to still cuddle, rock and sing to. I’d dream of that fourth child often.

As the twins grew and got potty trained, learned to talk and became more independent at doing things on their own, I came to the realization…what the heck was I thinking when I thought I wanted a fourth child?

Seriously. What. The. Heck.

Truth be told: I can barely handle three kids as it is. My girls are good students, have good manners when we are outside the house, and they are loving. But they are a ton of work. One is anxious and worries constantly about grades, friends, and doing things “the right way”. Another can talk non-stop for hours to the point that I end up nodding and “uh-huh”-ing during her talking all the time. I seriously tune out almost everything she talks about because half of the stories are so long-winded. The third one wants to watch You Tube videos of kids cracking plastic eggs open all day long (and I am too exhausted to argue or limit her time on the computer). There are after-school activities that I drive the three girls to every night and each weekend. There are three different kids that need 30-plus minutes of homework help each night. Three girls that need help fixing their hair, need time to talk about their emotions or school drama, and need snuggle time with mom. Three girls to feed, and no one likes the same things at all. Three girls that never, ever want to go to bed at night and grumble each morning when it’s time to get up for school.

How in the world would I have managed a fourth one? I have no idea where he/she would fit in. I imagine the poor child would be thrown into the family car and would just drive around with me all day dropping off and picking up kids from school and sports. He or she would be eating out often. We’d never be home to play because I’d be carting him/her to school events, grocery shopping, or trips to Target. He/she would never get a chance to talk or do anything because his/her sisters would fill up any silence; and they (and I) would probably do everything for the baby instead of letting him/her do anything independently because it would be faster to do so.

Honestly, now that we have gotten years past the diapers and bottles, I now know that I was a crazy person to think I could have handled one more child. Half the time I need at least three coffees to perk me up from lack of sleep, I have on old workout clothes I’ve owned for five years, I have no make-up on, and I’m screaming my head off for the kids to get ready because we are already 15 minutes late to wherever we are headed. One more might have just thrown me over the edge.  Now that I’ve gotten past the baby phase, I know our family is perfect with three children.

What Our Sweet Cat Taught Our Family (Thank You, Maui)

Our family had a very difficult week. We lost one of our most loved pets–our cat, Maui.

Maui was a part of our family for over thirteen years. Eric and I adopted her from an animal rescue center when she was just one. Of our three cats, Maui was one that was always available for cuddling or petting, but she never tried to seek our attention. She would never push her way onto the couch or towards the food bowl to eat first. Maui would patiently wait her turn and purr happily while doing so. She was such a calm and loving cat, and our family was so heartbroken to lose her this week.

Our sweet cat taught our family a lot. Here are some lessons we learned from Maui:

You don’t need to seek attention. It will come to you.
Maui always sat back and never pushed her way onto a lap. She never jumped angrily onto one of our other pets. Maui just calmly waited for our family members to pick her up for some cuddle time. She purred in appreciation when we pet her, played with her, or provided her with special treats. She didn’t need to be noticed all the time, and we loved her even more because she was so laid back.

Take time to appreciate even little things.
Maui appreciated every cuddle, cat toy and special treat.
We always could tell when Maui was happy because she had the loudest purr. And when she had time on a family member’s lap, she shared her special purrs. She would tap us with her paw or rub her little head up against our leg or arm when she was happy and grateful.

Maui reminded us to be patient.
Maui had to compete with two other cats, three kids, and a guinea pig. She was the most patient of all the pets and kids in our house. Maui calmly would wait her turn for breakfast, a boost up onto the couch (her tired legs wouldn’t allow her to jump up on her own this past year), or some time on the sun porch. She waited for other cats to run do the door before following behind. She always took her time and patiently waited.

Maui taught us how to love.
Maui loved us so much, and we loved her. She had a knack of coming around when one of us needed a hug, she’d let out a few “meows” and bring her toy mouse to our feet when she knew we were feeling lonely. She would curl up with the twins when they’d fall asleep on the couch. If one of us was sick, she’d stay with us and care for us in her own way. When the girls were babies, she was the first one in their room if they started to cry. She slept next to the girls when they’d nap in their baby bouncy seats. She cared for our family so much.

We will miss our sweet cat. She was so inspirational in teaching and reminding us important rules to live by.

We are so lucky to have been loved by you, Maui, and we are so grateful we got a chance to be a part of your life. We will miss you so much.

I Tried To Hang With The Cool Mom

A few years back, I met a mom that I so badly wanted to be like. She was way cooler than any other mother I met.  If I ran into her while picking my kids up at preschool, she’d invite me and my kids over and hand me a glass of wine while the little ones played. She was always booked with crazy plans–lunch plans uptown at the best restaurants, weekend trips out of town with her husband, dinner parties, and happy hours every few nights.

I was like a high-school girl all over again when I’d run into this mom. I so wanted to be like her and be liked by her. I totally wanted to be cool and hang with her and her crowd. My mom-idol knew how to party, she knew how to have fun, and she definitely was someone I was in awe of. I dreamed of being besties with this mom so I could be a “cool mom” like her.

After a summer of trying to keep up with the lifestyle of my mom-idol, I realized I couldn’t hang with the big dogs. I couldn’t do happy hour every day. I wasn’t comfortable hanging at the pool in a teeny-tiny bikini; and my body was never going to look like mom-idol’s body.  I wanted to go out to fancy dinners or go away with my husband each weekend, but I knew that it meant spending more money than I’d be comfortable blowing.  I realized I couldn’t keep up with my idol-mom and her “Real Housewife” life; and I sadly had to move along and focus on spending more time with other moms whose lives were more like mine.

Being the cool, partying, money-spending mom sounded like fun, but just wasn’t who I could be every day. Realistically, I am the rational and careful mom. Sure, I enjoy happy hour with friends; but our happy hours happen about once every couple months.  Fancy dinners are more exciting and special when my husband and I plan them less often. I work out, but I just can’t spend all day trying to get as small as some of the other moms I see. This is the body I have, and it’s never going to be comfortable in a tiny two-piece. I love nice things, but I also like teaching my children that we don’t need a lot of material things to enjoy our lives. My idea of fun most nights means sitting on the back porch with a good book.

I haven’t seen my “cool mom” friend in a couple of years, and I still feel a bit jealous when I see pictures on social media of the life she lives compared to my mom life. Truth be told, I would never have truly been comfortable living such a glamorous-looking life. I’d have to change a lot of what I believe in to be able to fit into that mom group. Trying to keep up with that lifestyle that one summer helped me realize that being cool is completely exhausting, and I’m happy with my own normal, simple life.

Dear Eleven Year-Old, You’re Only Eleven

My dear eleven year-old daughter,

I know you probably get ticked off at me often because that’s what tweens do. Parents just don’t understand, right? We are mean, we are too restrictive, and we are so lame. I totally get how you are thinking because I was an eleven year-old once too. I remember those middle school years and all the hormones, drama and emotions that came with them. I thought it was hard then, and I didn’t even have to deal with social media back then. I know there are other parents out there that don’t restrict like I do. Here’s the deal, though. You are only eleven.

I am aware that you have friends your age who have Instagram accounts. But guess what? I still say no to it. You are eleven years-old. You are at an age where it gets more difficult to be secure and confident because you worry more about what your friends are doing and if you fit in. As a parent, I don’t think you need the added stress of looking at your friends’ highlight reel on social media. I don’t think you need to stare at pictures of friends in your school and compare how many likes they get for their posts.. It’s stressful as an adult sometimes, so I refuse to let it be stressful for you. You have so much time for that. I want you to enjoy being eleven.

I know that you want to dress like everyone. I also see how some girls your age dress. Full make-up, super-short skirts on, tiny little camis….I’m sorry, but I believe you need to dress your age. Yes, I know how important it is to wear the latest styles. But I think you can do that without looking “sexy”.  I honestly worry about how adults,, especially male adults, view you out in public, and that worries me. You are still a young girl. There are weird people in this world, and I don’t want them checking you out in some teeny-tiny outfit. A little make-up goes a long way. Longer shorts and stylish tanks and shirts are classy and stylish. You are just an eleven year-old, not nineteen.

I get it–you want to hang out with your friends and go off and have fun. I still expect you to ask me if it’s OK to go out. I am your parent, and one of my jobs is to protect you and keep you safe. So, yes, you need to check with me to make sure it’s OK to walk to your friend’s house down the block or head out to the pool. You are eleven, and I want you to have fun with your friends, but I also expect you to ask and respect me as your parent when you are making plans.

I love you, and I know it’s hard to understand my decisions some days. But you are only eleven. You have so many years to grow and become more mature so you can better handle these things that I restrict now. As a mother, I am doing my best to raise you as a confident, respectful, classy, and secure young woman. So please try to remember when I tell you “no” that you are still young. You are only eleven.

These Are The Things I Worry About

I’m not sure what is compelling me to share this information, but I really want to admit some of my fears. They are normally things I don’t really care to discuss–mostly because I worry others will think they are crazy. Maybe they really aren’t strange and maybe you have similar fears that I do,  I’m not sure if I have decided to share my fears with hopes that one of you have the same fears that I do, if I hope that you will tell me that I am indeed crazy to worry about these things, or if you will let me know that my fears aren’t petty or weird at all. So here goes….my list of fears.

I am afraid that no one will come to my funeral when I die.
I know this sounds so insecure and selfish, doesn’t it? What a crazy fear to have! But it’s something I worry about. I guess there are moments, usually on days I’m feeling down and lonely, I worry that the funeral home would be empty.

I fear that I will live longer than my husband.
I worry about living without Eric. I know I’d get through it, like others that have been through the loss of a spouse have. I am afraid of this, though. I can be independent and have lived alone in the past, but I really don’t want to be alone and worry about it.

I worry if I talk too much about our successes (as a family or my individual ones) that all the good things in our life will start to disappear or something awful will happen.
I think about this fear more than the others. It sounds crazy, but I worry if I would brag or share any of my achievements often with others, it will be taken away somehow. I should be proud of our success, but I try not to share with too many friends or too often. I am grateful and thank God every day for all he’s provided for me and our family.

I am fearful that if I’m not working at a job that pays money, I’m not seen as contributing to my family.
I worry if I’m not bringing in some cash, I’m not contributing to our household. Yes, I know that being a stay-at-home mom is a ton of work and a job in itself. But when I wasn’t working, I felt like I was spending Eric’s money on things, rather than our money on things. He could care less if I purchase things, but I put the anxiety on myself about spending money he’s earning.

I am afraid to share my ideas and write more. 
I worry about whether my writing is good enough, makes any difference, or even gets read often. Writing makes me happy and I enjoy it, and that should be enough. I still fear that my posts are just a bunch of nonsense for many.

Do you share any of these fears? Or maybe you have others that you also think/know are a bit on the unrealistic side? I think about  my fears, and I know I can re-frame my thoughts and remind myself that I have a lot of friends and surely many would attend my funeral, that it’s OK to be proud of what I have, that not working at a paying job doesn’t mean I’m not contributing to this family–but these fears still pop up in my mind.

I know that these fears are just what I create for myself in my mind. Hopefully one day, I’ll get over these ones that I’ve created; and any fears you’ve created for yourself will disappear as well.