Somewhere Along The Way, I Forgot How To Have Fun

I climbed into bed last night at nine, with my flannel pajamas on, my hair back in a headband, Crest white strips stuck to my teeth, and a book in hand–my nightly routine for years now–and suddenly it hit me hard. It came out of nowhere.

My life is routine and boring.

Somewhere along the way, I forgot how to have fun.

Sometime between trying for baby #1, years of infertility treatments, babies #2 and #3 (twins), my husband’s longer work hours, and taking care of a family of five, I lost my mojo.

I used to have fun. I used to know how to have a great time. And somehow, I lost that knowledge.

I used to have dinner or lunch out with girlfriends each week. Meals were somewhere other than Chick-fil-A, and I enjoyed a day drink (or two), dressed in skinny jeans and heels. We’d spill on the latest gossip and talk about work, boyfriends or husbands, and plans for the weekend. I haven’t enjoyed that kind of meal out in a while.

I would make often make last-minute plans with my husband to get away for a weekend. Want to leave after work Friday and head to the mountains? Sure! Want to drive a few hours to go watch a college football game and make an overnight trip out of it? Of course, I do! Going out of town last-minute was exciting and enjoyable. I haven’t spontaneously gone out of town for a weekend or overnight trip in a long time.

My husband and I would cuddle on the couch while watching a movie on TV. Popcorn, chips and beer or wine, giggling and flirting with each other was a common Saturday night event. I haven’t had a night on the couch with just me and my husband in a long time.

I would sleep in until noon on a Sunday after a night out dancing at the local bar, and I’d lounge in my pajamas all day. ..just chillin’ after a late night out. I haven’t had a night out past midnight in a very long time. I haven’t slept in until noon in what seems like forever.

Why did the fun disappear? How did it get boxed up and put away high on a shelf in my closet? Why did I let it get put away?

While life was changing, I let the fun trickle away. While our family was growing and my husband’s job was growing, I was allowing my fun and the things I enjoyed to shrink.

I became so serious and practical over the past few years. I don’t laugh as much as I used to. Nothing is last-minute or spontaneous these days. Everything is planned.

Scheduling a night out means finding and paying for a sitter, not drinking much, and getting home at a decent hour because we don’t want to look wild and crazy in front of the kids or the sitter.

Lunchtime is spent at home in yoga pants, folding laundry and sweeping the kitchen floor while making macaroni and cheese for the kids.

Weekends are for youth sporting events, kid’s birthday parties, and catching up on errands and chores that couldn’t get done during the week because of after-school activities. Weekends are for the kids to have fun now, and not the adults.

Weekend movies on TV are PG and kid-friendly, and everyone piles on the couch together (usually with kids sandwiched  in between the parents).

Getting to sleep in is a thing of the past. “Sleeping in” now means the luxury of getting to stay in bed until eight. Pajama days are a thing of the past—I’ve got to shower and get dressed because there are too many errands to run to get prepared for the upcoming week.

I want the excitement back, though. I miss the fun and the spontaneity. I want to go out last-minute with my husband more often. I want to meet up with my friends and wear trendy clothes. I want to decide on a Thursday night that we are going to head to the beach for the weekend. I want to have fun again. I want part of my life to be exciting and surprising again.

Yes, I lost my mojo somewhere along the way. But it was there once before, so I know I can find it again. I just need a little glimmer that the good times are still there–I’m “old” now, and I’m realistic enough to know that my life has changed, so the fun will have to  evolve a bit. But I know I can figure out how to have a good time again. And it’ll be a sweet time getting back to re-inventing a new, fun life.

Dear Friend, Sometimes I Can’t Deal With Your Anxiety

My dear friend. I love you. I think the world of you, and I enjoy talking with you. But I need to be honest with you.

Sometimes I cannot deal with your anxiety….because I have a lot of anxiety of my own.

I don’t mind getting texts or phone calls from you. I love our conversations. But when you send five, ten or twenty texts one right after the other about the same issue that’s bugging you out, sometimes I can’t deal.

I know you need someone to talk to, someone to listen to your fears or concerns. Sometimes, you just need to vent or talk the issue(s) out with a friend so you can get reassurance or advice. But when I give you reassurance and you keep going on and on and on, some days I have to walk away and tune out for a bit. I either don’t respond to you anymore, I change the subject, or I text you with, “Hang in there! Got to go–one of the kids needs me. Talk soon!” or something similarly generic.

I am here for you, really I am. But please know that I have a ton of anxieties of my own that I’m dealing with on a daily basis. I worry about whether my husband’s plane landed OK this morning. I worry if I’m a good enough mother and wife (and friend). I freak out because I’m sure I’m not going to get to an appointment on time.  I get nervous when I haven’t heard from my mom for a week because I’m sure I must have said or done something wrong.

We all have crap we are dealing with. As much as I want to be there for you as a friend, my crap needs to take priority.

When you send me text after text worrying about why your sister hasn’t called you, or your voice message freaking out over whether or not your son made the soccer team, or the after-work calls asking me over and over if I think your boss is mad at you because you got to work late again…and I don’t respond or I change the subject, it’s not that I don’t care about you.

It’s that my plate is pretty full of anxiety-producing problems today and I can’t really spend the day listening to and focusing my energy on all of what’s on your plate.

When I have cleared a little bit of space on my plate, of course I’ll take you out for lunch, go for a walk with you, or grab a glass of wine one evening so you can throw all your anxieties out there. We are friends, and I care about you. Just know that today, I might have to many of my own issues to be able to handle yours too.

Who Really Is The Real Housewife?

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching the Real Housewives of…shows. Orange County, Beverly Hills, New York—I DVR the episodes, and I’ll binge-watch them while drinking wine and eating chips and salsa on a Friday or Saturday night.

These women have more drama (and plastic surgery) than I can ever dream of. Their extravagant lives are full of vacations, massages and facials, boutique shopping, and themed parties.

The Real Housewives have it all and do it all, while we all get to watch on our TV’s.

Who in the real world lives that kind of life? I know these women have lots and lots of money and they can afford their upscale lifestyle. But almost every “real housewife” I know does not live like this.

Most of us vacation once or twice a year. With the kids and husband in tow. A “big” vacation that involves flying or bringing passports happens every few years if we are lucky.

How do the moms on Real Housewives constantly go to far-away locations like Ireland or Mexico, and how are they OK with having a nanny watch their kids for all those days that they are gone? For me, just finding a weekend free of kids’ softball games, cross country meets and birthday parties to plan a get-away is a challenge. If I hopped a plane and left my kids and husband every few weeks to jet-set out with my girlfriends, even if I could afford it or didn’t mind spending all that money, I would feel nothing but guilt.

How tiny and fit they all are on TV! I know that’s part of the casting–who’d want to watch if they all wore a size 12? But everyone seems to wear a size four or smaller. That’s so unrealistic for most of us. These women must work out constantly. With an expensive trainer. Seriously. They rarely talk about exercise (and only a few of them are shown working out).

How do they go out to eat so often and not have it affect them–it seems like they are constantly with drink in hand or meeting with each other at fancy restaurants. If I’m going to fit into my skinny clothes, then it means no alcohol and limited restaurant visits. (I am glad to see that this season on The Real Housewives of Orange County, one mom talks about weight gain and her struggle with stress eating. This is an issue that is more “real” than the other issues the moms on these shows deal with each week. It’s something we can actually connect with.)

Real Housewife parties are crazy. Party planners, ice sculptures, “white parties”, bartenders and entertainment, what the heck is all that? If I throw a party, my friends can expect a cooler full of beer on the back porch, some cheese and crackers thrown on a plate along with a vegetable platter purchased at Costco. Dinner might be pizza from Dominos or some burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Served on paper plates. Entertainment? Let me ask Amazon Alexa to play today’s hits. That’s the extent of my dinner party. No frills. No fancy. And I don’t know any of my mom friends that have super-extravagant parties unless it’s a major life event.

Every woman on Housewives has had plastic surgery—laser treatments, breast reduction and augmentation, lip plumping, cheek implants—you name it, they’ve probably tried it. I know these women have lots of money to spare, but in the real world, housewives can’t afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on these treatments. We complain about the cost of anti-aging products from Oil of Olay, for goodness sake!

Yes, I’ll keep watching The Real Housewives. Yes, I’ll dream of living a life like theirs. But I am realistic enough to know that their lives are not “real” life for the majority of us moms. It is not reality. Our real lives entail clothes from Target, driving mini-vans, vacuuming our own homes, and dinner out from Chick-fil-A. We are the ones living like real housewives. But that would probably make for boring TV, wouldn’t it?

I Will Help You When You Fall–A Lesson In Kindness

Sometimes I’m amazed at how much my little ones actually know. I’m not talking about school or homework. But about kindness, caring for others, and doing what’s right.

Maddie and Claire came home from school a couple of weeks ago, and they decided they each wanted to make a paper doll out of poster board. I had a few pieces here at home, so I gave them each a sheet, and they began designing their dolls. When they were done with them, we hung them on the refrigerator so we all could see their artwork.

When I looked closer at them, though, I noticed that both of them had placed a heart on their doll, and the hearts had the same message written on them.

Of course, I’m an emotional one, so I got a little teary-eyed reading the sweet message they both had written onto their dolls’ hearts.

“What does that mean?” I asked Claire.
“I wrote it about our family, because that’s what we do,” Claire told me. “When Maddie needs help, I am there to help her.”
“And I help Claire when she needs me,” said Maddie.

I hugged these girls so tightly. Because, isn’t that so true? Isn’t that how we all should live? We all need friends or family members that would help us when we fall down, and we would help too.  I can think of some friends that have been there for me when I have fallen. They helped me up, cared for me, and encouraged me (or calmed my fears). I’m so grateful for those friendships and their help. How lucky I am to have Eric and the girls by my side each day. My husband and children know when I’m in need of their support, and they scoop me up and love me when I’ve fallen.

Thank you, my littlest girls, for the special reminder how important it is to be supported and loved by others. I will help you, too, when you fall. I love you.

Moms Should Treat Themselves (And Not Feel Guilty)

I am a mom that rarely buys nice things for myself.

I do a lot of shopping, but money spent at Target, Gap, and other stores are on clothes for the girls or on household products. Shoes, school uniforms, sports equipment, new bath towels…if the kids and the house need it, I’ll make sure they have it. I’ll even throw in “fun” purchases for the kids every now and then– a new board game or glittery lip gloss.  I have some great daughters who help out a lot at home, and they deserve little gifts every now and then.

When it comes to me, though, I have a harder time justifying spending the money on things that I don’t need. If I purchase a new dress for an upcoming night out, I feel guilty because I know I have other older dresses in my closet I could wear. I question myself over and over, “Do I really need a new dress? Should I spend that much on a dress I might only wear a handful of times? Isn’t the blue one in my closet OK?”

I purchase the dress, and I run the questions and thoughts over and over in my head, heading home with a bunch of anxiety and guilt  over what the money would have been better spent on.

Emily is a friend of mine at work. She and I were talking one day about a purchase she made. She decided to order a new lipstick that was more costly than what she would normally pay. She told me how guilt-ridden she was feeling about purchasing it. What if she didn’t like the lipstick at all once she tried it on? What if she didn’t wear it often enough to justify the cost? She was looking forward to receiving her new purchase but was feeling uneasy spending money on herself for something that wasn’t a necessity.

Why do moms feel guilt when they buy themselves a little present? Why can’t we buy a new killer dress, fancy brand-name cosmetics, or the pair of designer shoes we’ve always wanted? Can’t we go out and have our nails done or get a massage every now and then if we want to and not feel bad about the $25 or $50 we spent doing so?

I work just as hard at home as my husband does at work. I have long hours taking care of household chores providing everything at home that my husband and kids need. I’m worthy of spending money on myself here and there. I (and other moms) shouldn’t feel guilty about that. I should be able to treat myself every now and then and enjoy spoiling myself a little. Don’t you think you should too?

Moms don’t need much. Material things aren’t going to change situations going on in  our lives. But it’s nice to have a little joy and feel (self) appreciated every now and then.

Go and do it. Purchase that little black dress you’ve been eyeing, momma. You deserve a little present for all you do!

And don’t feel the least bit guilty.

I Want To Hear What Your Feedback About One Inspired Mom

I started this blog, One Inspired Mom, back in November. It’s been such a fun experience, and the site has provided me with the opportunity to write more (hurray!). I love sharing posts about anything that inspires or interests me that I think would inspire and interest you too.

One Inspired Mom’s viewership has grown, and posts have reached up  to 450  people. Wow! I seriously never expected more than a handful of friends following One Inspired Mom.  I never imagined receiving comments about posts from people I have never met.  I’m excited, inspired, and grateful that so many of you take a few minutes to read and respond to posts on this blog. Thank you for stopping by!

I want to keep growing, and I’m looking for feedback from you all. What do you really like about One Inspired Mom? What are your dislikes? Do the posts inspire or connect with you in some way? What would you like to see more of?

My goal is to add more pages to the site so you can find even more stories and information. What would you love to see? Sections with book reviews, product reviews, crafts for kids, recipes, etc.?

Let me know! Help me grow :). I can’t wait to hear your feedback!

Four Things I Hate When My Husband’s On The Road

Like many husbands and wives out there, my husband travels a lot for his job. A few years ago, Eric was offered a promotion and he was asked to consider moving across the country to the west coast. After much thought, we asked if we could continue to live in the southeast. Eric would be willing to travel to California (and now Minnesota too) every other week or as necessary to achieve what was expected of him in his new role. The company agreed; and while we were so happy to be able to stay in our current hometown, we knew it would be tough to run as a family unit while one parent would be away 50 percent of the time.

It’s four years later, the kids aren’t toddlers anymore (Hallelujah!), and we’ve gotten into a “daddy’s away this week” routine. While our situation has become routine for us, there are still some things that really suck.

  1. I have to handle everything going on with the kids, the house, emergencies, etc. while my husband is on the road.
    I’m a fairly independent person, but it totally sucks to have to handle everything that comes with a family and a house alone during the time Eric is away. It never fails, something will go wrong while he’s traveling that I have to handle alone. I’ve taken apart drains and used my plumbing skills when the family cat knocked a whole bag of litter into the washroom sink. I’ve been in a car accident while Eric was on a plane and unreachable (Thank God for great friends during emergencies!).  I have missed softball games and track meets where babysitters watched my girls and cheered them on because our other children had to be delivered to other activities that were taking place at the same time.  I’ve taken care of the kids 24-7 with no help while I’ve been sick with the flu. Depending on the week, being a “single mom” while my husband is away can be exhausting and overwhelming.
  2. We have a hard time including Eric when he is at home with us.
    Our daughters are so used to having me around and their father on the road that they never ask him for help when he is home. Asking for homework help, requesting  a glass of milk, begging to go outside to play…they direct all their needs and questions to me. Even when Eric and I remind them, “Daddy is home, he can help you too,”  they will ask me instead.  The girls and I have gotten so used to going along  without Eric around that we tend to forget to include him.
  3. It can get incredibly lonely at home.
    It can get really lonely when Eric is on the road.  I miss his bad jokes, I miss his snoring, I miss sitting on the couch and watching TV with him.  I miss having another adult to vent to, to ask for advice, or to goof off with. Oftentimes, I end up telling my tween daughter about the lady that totally ticked me off in line at the grocery store that afternoon–a story I’d usually save for my husband. I know that traveling isn’t any easier on Eric than it is on the rest of us–I have no doubt that he gets lonely too, and our few minutes on the phone or FaceTime together each night just isn’t the same as being together in person.
  4. I yell a lot more than I used to.
    I hate to admit it, but I raise my voice a lot more than I used to.  We are always running late to get somewhere, someone is neglecting chores or homework that needs completed, kids start arguing, this mom is tired, and my voice starts to rise.  My list of what needs accomplished each day is a mile long. While I’m realistic in knowing that days are never going to go as planned, it’s hard to stay calm when there’s so much going on at home and only one parent there to handle it all.

There are lots of blessings that come with Eric’s travel, though. I’ve gotten to visit him in California a couple of times for a mini-vacation. My confrontational skills have gotten better because I’ve had to handle so many situations on my own. I am a pro at multi-tasking and juggling a million things at once.  The girls have become more independent–they help at home with making lunches, taking care of pets, and cleaning the house.

As hard as it is to have a husband (and dad) who travels, we’ve all adjusted to our current lifestyle. We are grateful for those weeks that we do get to have together, and those moments are that much sweeter.

This Will Be The Summer I Didn’t Accomplish Much

This summer, I have plans to get so much accomplished. I want to redecorate the master bedroom, reorganize all the closets in everyone’s bedrooms, finally read the 20 books I have purchased and haven’t had time to read, go to the gym longer each day to work on getting more fit, write more and work on getting articles published, and of course hang with my kids and plan some fun things for us to do while school is out.

Guess what? I’ve only accomplished one thing on that list, and summer is already halfway over.

I’ve been spending all my summer time with my kids, and all those other goals just haven’t happened. Fun with the kids and reconnecting with them during our “time off” has become my priority.  Sure, I still have six weeks that I could really buckle down and take the kids with me to shop at Home Goods to work on a new bedroom for me and Eric. I could get up earlier and spend more time taking some classes at the gym rather than walking for 30 minutes each evening. I could sit on the couch each day and read and read and read to get through all those books sitting up in my closet waiting to be read this summer. I could set aside a few hours each day and really work hard on submitting more articles and stories and make an effort to get published more.

But, you know what? I don’t think it’s going to happen….because I’m having fun hanging out with my girls and doing things with them. We have gone on vacation, out for ice cream for lunch, to the swimming pool, and to the park. We’ve spent time watching movies, making crafts, baking, and cuddling on the couch.  I love that we have these weeks to really spend time together. During the school year, the only time we seem to see each other is on our drives heading from one activity to another until it’s time to head home and go to bed. I had been missing having fun with my girls. I had been missing getting to have long, non-rushed conversations with them. This summer, I decided to focus on them. And it’s been the best decision ever.

We have been chillin’ this summer.  It’s truly a break for all four of us.

Yep, there’s a lot I was hoping to accomplish before school and work start up again in August. The world’s not going to end if none of those things get done, though.  I’m realizing this summer that spending time with my girls without the anxiety or stress of trying to accomplish a million things is the most relaxing summer we’ve had ever.

And I plan to continue enjoying it.  Those things on that list can wait. I’m busy loving  my “The Summer I Didn’t Accomplish Much”.

The Crappy Things That Happen In Your 40’s

Once I hit 40, there were some things that just sucked. Did it happen to you too? Sure, I was stronger, more comfortable with my life choices, and  wiser as a woman in my 40’s, but things changed. Some things I used to be able to do or didn’t have to worry about every day now became things I couldn’t do at all or worried about. Forty hit, and it seemed like little cracks starting showing up here and there. Little crappy things…

You don’t look cool anymore when you dance.
Instead, you just look like a freakin’ idiot. (Just ask the people who saw me dancing the night away at last week’s wedding–they would agree with this.)

You can’t eat fast food every week anymore.
Gone are the days of swinging by McDonald’s drive-through for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Meal and enjoying it without gaining five pounds overnight. Now, if it’s not gluten-free, dairy-free or Paleo-friendly, expect to bloat or put on some ounces.

Your friend tribe changes.
This is crappy and good…crappy because you leave some friends behind, but happy because in your 40’s you realize who you need in your tribe and what is important to you, your family and your kids. Your 40’s friends are ones who have your back, support you and are there for you in times of need.

You don’t get carded anymore.
You’ll walk into a bar and think you look pretty good, and you feel like you are still 20-something, but unfortunately the mirror (and bartender) sees otherwise. No one wants to card you anymore. Ever. Whether it’s purchasing wine, fireworks, or lottery tickets, sadly no one needs to see your ID to be sure you are old enough to do the (cool) things.

Health issues decide to pop up and say hi.
Curse our bodies for getting old and creaky! It seems like once your 40’s hit, so do health problems. Autoimmune diseases, arthritis, joint pain, high blood pressure or cholesterol—you name it, it often hits in your 40’s. And it sucks.

Hello, wrinkles and sagging everything.
Suddenly, every wrinkle and frown line wants to show up on your face when you hit 40. And what in the world is it with gravity deciding to take over? Everything, EVERYTHING, starts to droop and sag. For those who can afford it, thank goodness for plastic surgery, age-defying creams and lotions. Trying to look young forever sure gets costly once you hit 40.

There are definitely other crappy things that seem to hit in your 40’s. But, while some things start to suck, there’s a lot to be happy about. You’ve learned a lot the past four decades, and you know what you want in your life. Don’t let the yuck get in your way–who cares if you gain a few pounds, look like Elaine from Seinfield when you dance, or have to take a couple Aleve every day for those achy knees.  Have fun, enjoy life, and do what makes you happy. There’s always going to be crap no matter what decade you are living in–happiness in your 40’s will be up to you.

Four Reasons Why Hot Dogs Gross Me Out

Overall, I am a big fan of summertime. I love the relaxed schedule. I (mostly) enjoy spending more time with my kids and going to the pool or to the park with them during the weekdays. I look forward to getting together with friends and cooking dinner on the grill. But there is one all-American food I have a big aversion to when it comes to summer grilling. Two words: hot dogs. I despise hot dogs. They are, seriously, the grossest food ever, and here’s why I feel that way:

  1. What the heck is in a hot dog?
    First of all, what kind of meat is in a hot dog? I asked one of my seven year-old daughters what she thought was in one, and she told me that she thinks it’s made of dogs. Not true, but I’m not really sure exactly what leftover parts of meat are included in a hot dog. I’ve googled it in the past, and the list of random ingredients grosses me out. A “meat” made of leftover animal parts and fat is not my idea of a delicious meal. Sorry. Absolutely disgusting.
  2. I had a bad experience with hot dogs as a kid.
    True story. My mom’s friend was watching me and my sister and brother one afternoon. She took us with her to the butcher so she could purchase some items. As a “treat”, the butcher gave each of us a cold hot dog to eat and enjoy. I remember taking a bite and dry-heaving because of the texture and because it was a chilled hot dog. I know a hot dog is pre-cooked or safe to eat cold or whatever (a Boy Scout told me that fact); but biting into the refrigerated, unheated dog that day was sickening. I “mistakenly” dropped mine on the ground in the parking lot as we were leaving the store so I couldn’t finish it.  One of my worst food experiences ever.
  3. Hot dogs smell disgusting.
    There’s nothing worse than the smell of leftover hot dog water after you boil one. Or the smell of one cooking in the microwave. That smell brings me back to the cold hot dog butcher day and I just want to heave. I love the smell of a fire burning, but throw a hot dog on a stick to cook it over that fire, and I’m completely turned off. I can smell that cooking wiener smell, y’all. It’s nasty and gross.
  4. Hot dogs look like a you-know-what.
    You know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t then I’ll give you a bigger hint. They look like a male body part. And I just can’t bite into a hot dog because of this. In fact, truth be told, I have trouble eating anything similarly shaped. Call me crazy, but I’ll gag if I bite into a sausage, banana or other hot dog-shaped food unless it’s cut up into slices, cubes, whatever. I refuse to bite into a food that’s shaped like a you-know-what.  It just seems wrong.

Sure, I’ll let my kids enjoy hot dogs, and I’ll even make them for the kids if we are short on time for dinner.  When hot dogs are part of a casual grilling-out dinner with friends, I avoid watching anyone who’s wolfing down a wiener. I do my best to hold in my opinions while others are chowing on a dog or asking for seconds. I have my issues with this summer staple, but I’ll do my best to allow others to make their own hot dog decisions. After all, what would summer be without grilling some dogs?

I'm a mom who is always looking for ways to make my family's life less stressful, more meaningful, and full of love and life. Read on as I share thoughts and ideas that inspire me to try to provide that for myself and my family.