Five Reasons I Would Be the Best Housewife Ever

1.  I have zero issues with the word “housewife.” Oh sure, it’s cute to put “Ambassador Of Toddler Relations” as your job on Facebook, or confuse the less than savvy with the title SAHM (here), or even refuse to call it anything in order to make some rah-rah statement about how it’s the only really hard job in the world (and we’ve convinced our husbands, too!)… But I actually LIKE the term “housewife”. For me, it harks back to the TV Land nostalgia of women who took care of the house, the kids, the hubs, all while looking like a million bucks and with a smile. I so wanna be those women. I’ll do anything to keep from turning into the sitcom mommy monster that is portrayed everywhere these days.

2. I actually ENJOY doing the laundry. Let me explain how “doing laundry” happens in our house. I let it pile up for 3 or 4 days. When you’ve got a husband that wears three outfits a day, a child with a school uniform AND play clothes, and a toddler that likes to wear his two breakfasts more than eat them, that’s a lot of garments. Yeah, yeah, I have clothes in there somewhere, too, but most of it is stuff I was too lazy to hang back up after I changed four times to try NOT to wear the standard mommy uniform of yoga pants/leggings/sweats and a tshirt.  So when I say I’m doing laundry, what I mean is, “It’s gonna take me two to three hours to wash, dry, and fold all this stuff, and since I’ve got an iPad, I’m bringing Netflix with me.” Ahhh, binge watching of House of Cards or Grey’s Anatomy, you know, the way God intended it when we decided to wear clothes.

3. I’m a big fan of sparkling bathrooms. I’d like to find out who my congressperson is, write him/her a letter and request that it become public law that boys should pee sitting down. Because seriously, the messes! If you come over and think, “Wow, your bathroom looks great!” It’s not because I have angels for sons. It’s because OH THE HUMANITY of the splashes, and underwear left behind, and trails of dirt, and lord knows what else is tracked into my house… And why it compiles in the bathrooms I’ll never understand. And so I clean them, like, a lot.

4.  Meal planning is THE BEST. If you don’t meal plan, then you’re just wrong. Here’s how it breaks down: 10% of the time is spent checking pantry and freezer for items I currently have. 5% of time is spent writing down meals on my fancy dry erase board. The other 85% of time is devoted to scouring Pinterest for recipes I’ll never make before finally settling on my old stand-by’s. Boom, I’m an organized hero and my family has dinner every most nights.

5. I’ve done the alternative. I worked in the “corporate world” for eight years. I traveled, I worked long hours, I made good money, and I spent way more time with strangers and co-workers than I did with the people that are nearest and dearest to me. My focus was on bringing home some bank, and not on loving and serving my family. So when I say I would be a great housewife, it’s because I know my purpose. My true joy is found in taking care of them (even if I indulge in myself at the same time!). If I were a housewife, I could honestly say I love my “job.” But seriously, it’s not a job, it’s part of our lives. So just live it.

Why I Don’t Have a “Before/After” Picture

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In January of this year, I decided to make a change in my life, and that change was FOOD. After an extensive amount of research, consulting my physician,  and having my tarot cards read, I decided to go Paleo.  Okay, that’s not true. I have hypothyroidism, and a friend said when she cut out gluten (that heinous mystery evil in our food)  she felt much better. That led to internet searches, and Pinterest Recipe board stalking, and finally, the realization that I eat too much crap that just IS NOT FOOD. In the hunter-gatherer sense at least, which is the essence of Paleo. So I decided I would eliminate all grain, processed foods, and alcohol (EEK! Don’t worry, I’ve only reduced/altered this part).

In addition to changing my food, I started going to the gym regularly. As in FIVE DAYS A WEEK regularly. The Pirate has been going to the gym daily for the last six years, so I guess it’s about time it rubbed off on me, eh? I had given so many excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly go (who will take care of the boys? The Pirate? The laundry? And “Once Upon a Time” and “Vampire Diaries” ain’t gonna watch themselves!)….. But then I saw this picture, and I realized I’m an excuse maker. So I stopped making excuses for why I couldn’t wake up earlier, why I couldn’t make a healthy dinner, and why I couldn’t turn off Netflix and get my butt to the gym.

You know what happened? Well, I’d show you a Before/After breakthrough photo, but I haven’t taken any. Oh I take plenty of selfies now, because I have lost weight (of course straight from my boobs first, what is that all about?!), but I also got ABS again (I celebrated that realization by getting my sternum tattooed, like a BOSS).  But I don’t have a “before” to reference because there is no “after.” I don’t have a weight loss goal I track by pounds, inches, or body percentages. I don’t plan to “stop dieting” because I’m not dieting. I made decisions to have a healthier lifestyle, a more fit body, and to stop making excuses for not taking care of myself.

The reality is more has changed in me in the last few years than my body shape. I’ve become a new being, because I’ve been changed through Jesus. Sometimes I think we want to conform Christianity into a nice neat fad diet package… Check in on Sundays (sometimes), pray when people ask (or say we do), and act like a good person (when it’s convenient). It just doesn’t work that way when you turn your life over to Christ. It’s a permanent lifestyle change, and it’s not an easy one! Trying to love those around you in the way God loves you is exhausting! There’s always an excuse or reason not to focus on Him (kids, spouses, jobs, Netflix, eh?). The reality is that my food and exercise choices are shaping my body, but Jesus shapes my spirit, and I’m truly alive in Him. Just like with my body, there’s no “after” picture of me as a Christian. There’s plenty of “before” thoughts and actions, but I will never stop being molded by Him into this new creation, a child of God. And God willing, I’ll keep up with the Paleo thing, too.

Until the next time, I’m off to have a glass of red wine with my steak and mushrooms. 😉

5 Trendy Mommy Things I Never Did (That I Kinda Wish I Had)

I like to say I’m not a trendy person. I don’t like Pumpkin Spice Lattes (mostly because I’m too frugal for Starbucks). I don’t wear those big scarves (mostly because I can’t figure out how to make it look “normal” no matter how many YouTube videos I watch!). And up until very recently, I had never seen Pitch Perfect, worn leggings as pants, or tried holiday specific Jamberry’s.  So the other night, when I was told I was a hipster, it made me realize I might actually be a Basic Girl in Denial. So I figured I’d examine my life, starting with my kiddos. I present to you, 5 Trendy Mommy Things I Never Did:

#1: Breastfeeding until my kids were toddlers.  Honesty moment: I didn’t breastfeed either of my boys for very long. With my first, I stopped producing milk when he was about 4 weeks old. With my second, I was just too overwhelmed with having two children, a full time job that required travel, and a VERY hungry newborn, so I took the easy route. Looking back I wish I could say I pumped, prayed, and fought to be sure that I was the one feeding my kids, “directly from the source” but you know what? I’m lazy. I’ve got nothing but respect for my friends who nurse their kiddos, but I’m always left out of the “I got kicked out of a store for nursing” stories. Which is okay, because I got to drink wine without having to Google “Pump and Dump Protocol”.

#2. Co-sleeping. Uhm, no. First of all, who sleeps soundly when in the back of your mind you think you might roll over on your kid? Secondly, I’ve had to share a bed with my kiddos while visiting family and such, and they NEVER. STOP. MOVING. So chalk this one up to me being selfish, too, but I want to be in my bed with just my husband. Who stays on his side. And my dog. Who provides warmth.

#3. Making my own baby food. I’m noticing the trend (no pun intended) that the things I didn’t do required extra effort on my part. Making your own food sounds glorious and organic and loving… And exhausting. I’ve actually begun a version of the Paleo Diet, and making good food is TIME CONSUMING! I mean, seriously, just buy the organic baby mush and move on. Neither of my kids ate the pureed stuff for long anyway. I would have been mad at the money spent on a Baby Bullet! 

#4. Cloth-Diapering. Oh I talked a big game when I was pregnant with my second little guy! I was going to cloth diaper, he was going to be totes adorbs and I even PURCHASED diapers. And then I didn’t even try. Because ew. Because laundry. Because I hate the earth. Okay, the last one isn’t true. I actually am appalled at the waste we create, but not enough to hand rinse the disasters that come out of a baby’s rear end.

#5. Pinterest Perfect Announcements, Gender Reveals, Maternity Photos… Etc.. Etc.. So it may be part of our daily conversation now, but Pinterest is a fairly new thing. And that thing has become a monster of envy and status. You know how I told people I was pregnant? Phone calls. Texts. Facebook status without any fun pictures, quirky videos, or dogs in tshirts.  In the spirit of truthfulness, I would have done all the things, if I had had Pinterest to be creative for me. Trust me, I’m very bitter about that thing not existing before I got married. Damn you Pinterest for creating a false sense of inadequacy!

So that’s my list. What Trendy Mommy things could you just not get into?

The One Where I’m Judgemental

I saw you at the “Superstore”. The one that I rarely go to because I jokingly call myself a snob, when in actual reality, I am a snob.  You had your three kids with you, and at first I assumed you were babysitting, because “Moms don’t have pink highlights”. And then I remembered my “Hair!” Pinterest Board is full of my Pink or Purple Debate for my own hair.

We were in front of the Little Debbie section and each of the kids was picking their favorite. I judged the health content in those “snacks” until I looked into my own cart at the white powdered donuts that I snagged because sometimes giving Cruz those as one (yes, ONE) of his breakfasts is just easier.

You smiled as if to say, “Kids, right?” I smiled back, “I know, totally.” But my smile really meant “I hope you can’t tell I’m wondering how someone who looks barely 20 manages with three young kiddos.”

I ended up behind you at the checkout. Your cart was spilling over with yummy junk food, cases of soda, macaroni and cheese, and all the things my oldest has learned not to ask for, because  “Mommy doesn’t buy us ‘crappy’ food anymore.” Nevermind that the donuts are still in my cart. They’re next to organic cereal, fresh produce, and a bottle of wine. Personally, I’m amazed with my ability to uphold snob status in the middle of Wally World.

I observed your manicured nails and iPhone, and I tried to pretend that your husband is a lawyer, or that you work in sales and make nice commission checks. I tried to stomp down on the thought that you’ll pull an EBT card out, but I can’t help it. Sure enough, after the groceries were rung up, there it was. I felt the resentment rise. And I made judgements and assumptions about your life.

I decide you’re “one of those people”. One that Fox News warns us about. As I’m standing there, all judgy, I know I’ve been “warned” about people like you somewhere else. Like so many situations in life, the Bible has an answer. Matthew 25:35 (and don’t think I didn’t have to Google that!) tells us to care for the needy in all ways necessary. I realized that it doesn’t matter why  you’re getting assistance. My place is not to judge. Heaven knows that “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is thrown around more than is necessary, but it’s still a hard one to follow. My place is to be one that cares for you, prays for you, grows in community with you… And instead of taking an perfect opportunity to get to know you, I wasted it wondering why you had a new purse and I haven’t bought one in eight years.  Sometimes that log in the eye shows up when you least expect it! We always need someone to help us remove it.  It might be a friend, a sister, or just Jesus. The good news is He’s a fantastic lumberjack, and He never tires of removing the same log. Which is awesome for me, because I need to go to the store again.

 

5 Things We Ask Kids to Do (That We’d Never Ask of Adults)

I’ve been working from home/staying at home for exactly eight weeks, and I’ve realized I say some ridiculous sentences. Things like “Stop licking the vacuum” and “Don’t rinse your toothbrush in the toilet.” A few days ago I said something else to my two year old, and it struck me as odd. He was upset about something that I had determined wasn’t worth tears, and so I told him “Stop crying.”  As I said it I realized that just the night before, I had been on the phone with a friend of mine, who was literally in tears because she and her boyfriend had broken up for the 97th time, and it NEVER crossed my mind to tell her “stop crying” even if I felt it was ridiculous.

I am aware that we are raising little people, and teaching them how to function in our world, but seriously, we ask a lot of immature minds. With that in mind, here are 5 things we ask of children that we’d never ask of an adult.

1. Stop crying.  Our definition of “things worth crying over” is quite different from a child that is 2, 7, or 15. We’ve learned that a popped balloon isn’t as big a deal as say, finding out your loved one has cancer. But in a two year old’s world, a balloon is a wonderous thing, and when that balloon “dies” it’s devastating. And if it pops in his or her face, it’s also terrifying. I know I have cried while reading books and a character I love is hurt, and my husband looks at me like I have two heads, but he would never say “Oh stop crying, you’re fine.”  He knows better.

2. Say you’re sorry/say you forgive.  So while I’m all over the lesson of apologizing when we’ve hurt someone, and forgiving someone who has hurt us, we ask kids to do it way too quickly sometimes. I personally do this a lot, because I’m trying to teach my boys grace. But when they’ve just had a drum thrown at their head by a friend who wasn’t ready to take turns, and the sting is still there, we say “Forgive your friend because he’s sorry.” And let’s face it, the kid that threw it IS NOT sorry, he felt entitled and angry, and now he has to apologize when he isn’t ready. Now, while adults typically don’t resort to physical violence, we also stew about our hurt! We bury it, we let it simmer. This doesn’t mean it’s RIGHT, but the fact is we take a long time to forgive someone, and usually longer to apologize. We don’t march our friends up to the person that they hurt and say (publicly!) “Now say you’re sorry!”  It kinda ties into:

2a. Walk away when you’re angry. My boys get on each others nerves. I find myself constantly telling Cash “When you get angry, you leave the room, or just get away from Cruz, you don’t hit/yell/get angry.” Yet when I get angry at them, I rarely take the time to calm down and walk away. I yell, I get angry, and when warranted, I spank. As adults we don’t tell each other to walk away (unless it’s about to get physical), we tell each other to work it out. To talk about it, or fight about it. “Oh, Monica, just walk away from her.” Whatever. I’m mad and I will confront you. Especially if you are smaller and I think I could take you in a fight.

3. Share prized possessions with anyone and everyone. Hey, Tommy, sweet Camaro. I’m going to keep it for a few days, because you need to share. Rachel! I love your dress. It’s my turn to wear it tomorrow, right? Okay, so maybe their Happy Meal toy isn’t their prized possession, but in that five minutes, it sure is. I’m not saying we don’t teach our kids to share, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with recognizing that some things can just be theirs, especially things they don’t want ruined. My almost-seven-year-old has one of my old digital cameras. We do not let the little guy play with it, because while it’s old and easily replaced, there’s the acknowledgment that it just belongs to Cash. I also do not make my kids share immediately. If we get to the park and take a toy in the sandbox, that doesn’t make it fair game to anyone that comes along, even if Cruz “wasn’t touching it!”

4. Leave somewhere when you’re having a good time. So you’re out with a few of your bro-hams, at a party or a gathering, and everyone is dancing, eating, and having a great time. Maybe two friends are in the middle of a card game. And you say “Time to go! Drop what you’re doing and get your shoes on! Quick!” They will ignore you. Or tell you to leave by yourself. We yank our kiddos in prime playing time all the time! This doesn’t mean we don’t have places to be, or time schedules, I get that… But again, it’s the consideration of it all. If little Ben is having the time of his life playing tag with his new besties on the playground, can you not give him five more minutes? He might nap longer later. And you can get another level completed on Candy Crush. Or take another selfie. Hashtag, at the park with the kiddo!

5. Hug and/or kiss “strangers” goodbye. Okay, this is the one that REALLY gets me. I have a friend that has her not-quite-three-year-old hug and kiss every single person in the room before they go home. Random aunts and uncles. Great-grand-parents they see twice a year. Friends of family members that SHE has known her whole life but her daughter doesn’t know from Adam. And inwardly I cringe. I would never tell my husband he has to go kiss my second cousin once removed that he just met “goodbye”. Or tell one of my friends to hug a random person that happens to be at the same cookout. It’s weird. They don’t know each other; they don’t have a relationship in any way.  I don’t make my boys hug or kiss ANYONE, except me and their dad (and I like to think I’m not MAKING them do it!). I don’t even force them to hug their grandparents. I definitely have them tell people goodbye, they thank hosts for having us at their house… But making them give affection to people that they wouldn’t go to on their own just makes me worried about how they’d react if someone tried to force their affection on them. They might think they HAVE to do that, because Mommy always makes them kiss her random uncle goodbye. Nope.

So there’s my first stab at a “list”. I’m interested to know what things you think we ask of children that we’d never ask of an adult?

The One Where I’m “Okay”

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who said, “I’m only okay at everything I do. I’m an okay wife, I’m an okay mom, and I’m an okay professional. But I’m not GREAT at anything.” The shocker of this statement is that this woman is one of the most gifted people I’ve ever met in my life. She sings like an angel, takes beautiful photos, has well behaved children, and an utterly devoted husband. She has a passion for God that seemingly radiates from her skin. She is one of those people that is so talented and makes life just look EFFORTLESS, and you kinda want to hate her, but guess what? She’s so genuine and GOOD, you can’t even be really jealous because she has no idea how just awesome she is! But her statement brought me to a harsh reality. We have such pressure to do everything right, beyond the best of our abilities, all the time. We need to have Pinterest Perfect lives, when it comes to how our house is decorated, the food we prepare, the activities we do with our kids, and how unique and gorgeous our clothes, hair and nails are. It’s exhausting, so how can we NOT just settle for “okay” at everything?  The conversation reminded me of an analogy I heard for advertising once. You have a pitcher of water, and four glasses. Each glass represents a different advertising medium (trust me, I’m going somewhere with this), let’s say Radio, Television, Newspaper, and Mailers. So you take the pitcher and pour it into the four cups, and you can only get each one half filled. But if you take the pitcher and completely fill one, then the next, then the next, then the next…. you end up making each cup complete. Of course, I was taught radio was the only cup worth filling, but that’s for a different argument. For now, I realized that analogy can be altered to make me seem more clever. YOU are the pitcher, and and the cups are your different roles in life. One is your spouse (if you have one). One is your children (if you have those). One is your job (again, if…), and the other is serving others (which we are all called to do). Swap those for whatever you focus your time and energy on, and when we focus on one, we can’t fill the other. So we half-ass all of them, or ignore some, or complain about the cup size or whatever.

Here’s where people go “Uhm, you forgot God… You’re the one always saying He comes first…” And so He does. He’s the water in the pitcher. John 4:13 is where Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  When we think we aren’t doing enough, God refills us. When we put Him into everything we do, it doesn’t matter if we let our kid watch The Lorax, *ahem*, again, so we could attempt to get frozen pizza in the oven, while sending emails to clients from our phones. Could we all use more hours in the day, unlimited amounts of money for daycares, or private chefs or stylists? Well DUH. But living for Jesus isn’t about life suddenly becoming perfect. It’s about knowing that He doesn’t expect perfection, He knows we try to do the best that we can, and guess what? It’s perfectly “okay” with Him. 

Oh, and that part about serving others? I think I’m going to offer to babysit once a week for this gal so she can put her focus on work without feeling like she’s letting anyone down. And I’ll likely be “okay” at that too.

The One Where I Feel Guilty

Today one of my friends shared a devastating video on Facebook. One of those nanny-cam videos, where the parents think something isn’t quite right with the sitter, so they set up a hidden camera… And sure enough, there’s the baby sitter, smacking, throwing, and kicking a baby. We are appalled, sickened, and yet, morbidly obsessed with watching.. I didn’t make it more than twenty seconds into the two minute video. I would not have gone even that far, but (yay technology!) videos now start when you scroll past them. Later, four MORE friends shared this same video. The posts ranged from “I would kill this sitter…” to “I can believe how horrible people are…” and I got up slowly from my cubicle, went to the restroom, and promptly threw up. I know, classy, right? I threw up because I had no other way to express the emotion I felt. The hurt, the anger, the confusion…. and the guilt. That’s right, I said it. I feel guilty when I see videos of mistreaten children. Not because I have ever laid a hand on my boys (or anyone else’s kids for that matter) but because I have hurt them. When I yell at Cash for taking too long to put hit shoes on in the morning. The reason I think it takes too long is because I didn’t plan properly, and now we’re ten minutes behind.  When I yell at Cruz, who won’t stop crying for no reason at the dinner table. To him, the reason is he’s 19 months old and has no idea how to express whatever he’s feeling. How frustrating to not have people understand you, and then yell at you for it.  When Cash asks me to rub his hair “until your hand gets tired, Mommy” and I initially cringe and come up with an excuse for why I can’t, because I just want to sit and just not do anything! 

I am not a “super mom”. I am a stereotypical, guilt-ridden, working mom. My guilt comes from the hours I work that my boys are in daycare, and after school care… It comes from feeding them microwaved meatballs and fruit snacks for dinner… It comes from my yelling so quickly when they are simply being “annoying” rather than misbehaving… It comes from being surrounded by so very many “crunchy”, stay at home mamas that obviously have it all together, because THEY never get on Facebook and beg someone to take their kids for the night. It comes from Pinterest, which shows me daily all the DIY crafts I’ll never have the time, energy, or ability to attempt. It comes from losing my high paying job, forcing my artist husband to hold back on his dreams in order to take on overtime and a second job so we can continue living in our dream house and having our dream life…

No, I don’t beat my children, but I beat myself mentally all day. Every day. And the pain I inflict upon myself comes out when I speak harshly to those little guys. My guilt is taking over.

So where does one turn when dealing with this? Venting on a blog is a start, I suppose. But I know there’s something else out there, and it’s more than a bunch of other mom’s saying “Been there. I understand. Me too.” Not that I don’t appreciate that ladies, trust me, I need to know I’m not alone in this! But I think the place to go is where all the answers seem to lie, in the Word. Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the grace of God.” That means “Nobody’s perfect.” Yet through Jesus Christ we are made new, we are redeemed. When I stop, take a breath, and think of God’s grace and God’s love, I react better towards my children. I stop thinking about these ridiculous expectations of myself that no one else has BUT ME!   I remember that I am like a child to God, and though I am far from perfect, His love never fails, nor does His patience or His forgiveness. I will do things the wrong way, I will sin, I will deserve to be yelled at! And yet He does not punish. He does not yell. And so it goes with my children. Cash knows I’m the only person on the planet that can rub his hair the right way. Cruz knows his mama will give smiles and kisses when he’s scared and confused. And as God loves me, so I continue to love my children. It doesn’t mean I won’t feel guilty when I work late, or when I’m too tired to make a Pinterest perfect dinner. It means they don’t even notice, because all they see is ME. Their beautiful disaster of a mom. And their love never fails either.