Category: Life

An Unexpected Milestone

The other day, I dragged my daughter into a dress shop with me while I helped my best friend pick her wedding dress. 

I’m not going to lie, when it dawned on me that I would have no choice but to bring my 3 year old child with me, I was expecting the worst. I figured she would be pulling dresses off the racks, messing with displays, climbing on anything she could (including people!), and being an all-around pain in the ass. I expected tantrums and screaming and tears…from both of us. I assumed it would end with everyone irritated with her heathen ways, because that important of an event is certainly the time any child would pick to be an unreasonable little so and so. 

With this in mind, I did all the things one would expect. I made sure she had her tummy full, prayed for a nap in the car, and brought along some toys and candy to keep her occupied. I talked up the errand, telling her how fun it would be to watch her aunt try on all the pretty dresses. I did my best to keep my anxiety about the day ahead carefully hidden, lest she pick up on it and confirm my fears.

Miraculously, this seemed to work. Aside from a brief moment of climbing around the couch as we watched my sister-from-another-mister try on gowns, she behaved marvelously well. She was a little let down that she wasn’t the one trying on dresses, but since I was setting up an appointment in the same shop for my own wedding, I was able to promise her that she could try things on next time. 

In the end, my bestie found an amazing dress and I didn’t have to look like that mom in public. It was a total win.

That is, until we went shoe shopping afterward. Now, all in all, that went pretty well. Sure, The Princess wanted to run up and down the aisles, hide behind displays, and be a goofy 3 year old, but since we were the only patrons in the store it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. She even got a brand-new pair of much needed sneakers, after some pleading for her to choose between the three pairs in our price range. 

On the way out, I asked her if I should call Grandma to see if we could go visit for a bit before we drove the half-hour back home. Naturally, she was excited. Unfortunately, my mom wasn’t feeling well and in the interest of not picking up a bug, a visit was a no-go. At first, my daughter was okay with this. Understanding even. 

I was relieved. Overjoyed. Elated. Our trip had been a success and now we were heading home without a fuss. We were going to go home and have a wonderful evening together. Since she’d forgone her afternoon nap, I was certain that an early bedtime lied ahead. With a smile on my lips and visions of some blissful “me time” in my head, I started the car and headed home. 

About 5 miles in, the crying screaming began. “I want my grandma!” she sobbed. 

I reminded her that Grandma was sick and that we would have to come back to town another day. She responded by tearing up some papers from preschool that were lying on the seat beside her.  She yelled. She screamed. She cried. She begged for her Grandma and her uncle. I did my best to remain calm. And then came a phrase I wasn’t prepared for…

“I don’t like you, Mommy! I hate you!”

Such harsh words from such a tiny girl. Words that were meant to make me feel as bad as she felt in that moment. 

I laughed.

And so it begins, I thought, knowing that although this was the first, it certainly wouldn’t be the last time I heard those words. 

“I’m sorry you don’t like me, honey. I’ll always love you.” 

Did I really just say that? Good god, I sound like my mother!
I laughed again. 

The tantrum continued for another 20 minutes or so after we got home. Crying, kicking and screaming on the floor, yelling, “I’m not happy with you!” Telling me she doesn’t like me. Restating her demands in various ways. 

Eventually she settled down. She climbed on my lap and told me she loved me. I kissed the top of her head and assured her that I loved her, too. I told her I was sorry that she was upset and reminded her that we can’t always get what we want. I offered to play a game or two and have some fun at home. 

I’d like to tell you that that was the only tantrum of the day. It wasn’t. She didn’t like dinner, she didn’t want to brush her teeth, she didn’t want to go to bed, the dog was on her blanket. All the normal three year old stuff. 

In the end, however, all was well. We snuggled in the bed, watched her Monster High DVD for the thousandth time, and went to sleep.

The thing is, the tantrums, the arguments, the not-so-fun times are part of life. They are going to happen. Eventually, she’ll outgrow the massive meltdown stage (probably when she’s 30). The only thing I can do is ride them out and use those moments to teach her that I am always here for her and love her no matter what…even when she’s being an unreasonable brat. I can use those moments to model a calm response to emotional outbursts and talk about it with her afterwards. 

Those moments may be tough, but when the storm passes, the rainbow appears and the contrast makes it all the more beautiful.

Fresh Starts And All That New Years Stuff

This year has been incredible. It’s amazing, in the thick of it, in the midst of the daily grind, it’s easy to overlook all the growth and changes taking place as you go about your routine. So many little achievements get lost, so many happy moments overlooked as the next “crisis” pulls our attention away. Even our greatest moments get overshadowed by the everyday stress that builds up and keeps us looking forward to a time when everything will be “settled”.

Today is a day not only for setting goals, but for reflecting on the previous year and taking time to celebrate all our victories…now matter how small.

So, before I tell you guys all about my dreams for the year ahead and the exciting things I have in store for you, let’s take a look back, shall we?

I started off 2015 by going to see Hairball with my mom as we do every year, followed by my awesome Rocky Horror Picture Show themed birthday a couple weeks later. I spent some time working in my friend’s studio. I went to St. Louis to see Marilyn Manson and had a glorious child-free weekend. We got some pet fish…that didn’t last long. I revamped a dresser (and learned some valuable lessons about making the best of things along the way!). I survived 2 tornadoes (only one of which got written about). We bought our first house after years of crappy rentals. We adopted our big ol’ beast of a dog. I went on my annual trip to Chicago for Beatlefest. I started a new job. I finished the first draft of my book, after years and years of sleepless nights and early mornings spent typing away . I’ve read some great books and learned a lot about remaining present and keeping a positive outlook.

And that’s just the stuff I’ve written about!!

I’ve (mostly) quit smoking…that’s not to say I haven’t slipped up and bought a pack or two, but I always get back on track quickly and it’s a marathon, not a race. I’ve begun taking control of my health.We finally set a wedding date. I’ve spent many hours laughing and talking with friends and family. I’ve learned to let go of fear and really be me. I’ve grown in my self-confidence and in my ability to handle stress, and I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a parent as well. I also feel that I’ve grown a lot as a writer and have watched my blog grow into something that I am extremely proud of.

All in all, it has been an amazing year and I am confident that the next twelve months will be even more fantastic!

Of course, I have many of the same goals as everyone else. I want to be healthier and more organized. I want to further reduce my stress levels and get a smooth routine going. I want to get more spiritually grounded and do a better job instilling those values in my child. I want to stop being the “yelly” mom so much. But, these are kind of free-floating goals and lifestyle changes that must happen in small increments, so I’m not going to force myself into some sort of timeline for these things to unfold. Instead, I will make more of an effort to be mindful of these things and do what I can.  That’s not to say I don’t have some big goals, though!

This year, I am focusing on continuing to work on some long-standing ambitions and really take things to the next level. Aside from the wedding and working to make this site even better, I will finally be releasing the first novel in my series and (hopefully) some music in 2016!

In light of that, I’ve created a brand-new website that launched this morning: BrandynBlaze.com. I have worked hard to get this set up and am so excited for this new venture! While this new site contains a blog, I will still be publishing posts regularly here as well. I wanted to create a place where I could be a bit more unfiltered and keep my followers informed of events and information pertaining to my various products. I encourage you all to check it out and follow the new Facebook page for updates!

This is the year I take control of my life and begin creating the life of my dreams. No exceptions!!

I hope you all have had an amazing year as well and that your celebrations were wonderful. As we go forward into this new year, I wish you all luck and light and love. May your actions be bold and your achievements be great!

Happy New Year!!!

Not Your Average Kodak Moment

Last night, I sat down in front of my computer intent on writing a follow-up piece to my post about positive thinking. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought it was the perfect time for a post on gratitude. Instead of making a list of all the things I am thankful for, like I’ve done before, I thought I’d delve into how we need to hang on to this gratefulness mindset once the holidays are over.

However, as my fingers tapped out the first few words, I heard the sound of my bedroom door swinging open, followed by the pounding of tiny feet on the floor as they carried my 3 year old down the hallway. The interruption drew a sigh from my lips, as she had been tucked in nearly 30 minutes ago and should have been blissfully sleeping, which hypothetically would have given me a solid hour of work time before I needed to go to bed myself.

My child stopped short at the imaginary line between the dining room and the living room, and let out a mischievous giggle.

My slight irritation turned into a mixture of disbelief and frustration as my eyes registered what I was looking at.

There stood my beautiful daughter, with lipstick smeared all over her face, hands, and bare belly as she proudly stood before me wearing nothing but a grin and her pull-up.

As I rose to my feet, she took off towards the bedroom, where I discovered that she had also wiped lipstick all over the walls and the bed.

Now, this isn’t the first (or second, or third) time she has covered herself in lipstick. In fact, not too long ago I shared this photo to Facebook and Instagram:

After that picture was taken, I promptly moved all my makeup out of reach. Or so I thought.

She had gotten a hold of some more a couple weeks later, and it had wound up in the carpet, at which point we set forth the rule that she could only play with it if mommy gives it to her and in the bathroom. Since this had worked when we told her that Play-doh was a kitchen-only toy, we assumed this was enough.

We were wrong.

Despite all of our re-enforcement of that particular limit, she managed to find the one tube I left on my dresser and make a big ol’ mess.

I’m not going to lie, as I dragged her into the bathroom to clean her up I may have yelled…a lot…as I reminded her that a) she was supposed to be in bed, and b) mommy’s makeup was not a toy. I told her, for what felt like the millionth time, that lipstick was for lips only. I railed on about how mommy and daddy make the rules and that she has to be a good listener. I’m pretty sure I used my mother’s go-to phrase, “I’m the parent, you’re the child.” On and on I lectured, while she giggled and resisted my attempts to clean her up.

As I ran out of steam, I reiterated the main points again in a calmer manner and told her she was going to time out.

This lasted about 10 seconds. I tried again. And again. And again.

And finally, she got a swat on the bottom. She laughed.

I fought the urge to cry.

It’s moments like this that make me question how good of a job I’m really doing at this whole motherhood gig. I don’t want to be the parent who spanks. I also don’t want to be the parent with an unruly brat. When times like these come around and there is no method of discipline that seems to get through to her, I begin to wonder if there is something wrong with one of us. I start going through all the things I could have done differently. I think about my crappy housekeeping skills. I think about all the times she plays by herself while I try to get dinner going or work on a piece for the blog. I think about the days I leave her at daycares for a couple hours after my shift so that I can catch up on the things that slide through the week. I think about how I know better than to yell like a maniac when she pushes my buttons. And I feel like a failure.

After all the hoopla had settled down, I told this story to a couple friends of mine and vented about how I was feeling. An amazing thing happened in that moment: I was met with a resounding “me too!”

Both of them admitted that they have been there before. That there are moments that make them doubt their parenting abilities, too.

As we continued talking, Jules (from One Ruud Mom) said something that stuck with me:

“You are definitely not alone. You should write that out. We all feel like other moms are better, but we don’t see those moments–not because we are hiding these moments, but because these aren’t the moments you take out your camera.”

Why? Why don’t we take out the camera. Why don’t we share these stories more readily? Is it a fear of being judged? Is it a fear of finding out we’re the only ones who can’t handle the job of raising decent children from time to time?

It’s silly, really. We’ve all had moments like these and keeping them to ourselves only keeps the myth of perfect parenting alive. It keeps us isolated from one another and feeling like we are doing a much more terrible job than we really are.  It also prevents us from brainstorming possible solutions with parents who have been there.

The truth is, we all suck as parents from time to time, and that’s okay. What matters is that these are brief, fleeting moments that are by far outnumbered by the more joyous moments. For everything we do wrong, there is sure to be 10 other things we are doing right.

So, to you, dear reader, I say keep on keeping on. You are doing an amazing job and I promise your kid won’t be a little heathen forever.

A Case Of The Lazies

A Case Of The Lazies

I feel like I start a lot of posts by telling you that it was not the post I had intended to write. I’m not sure why I do that. Maybe because I feel guilty for not sticking to my schedule, which is ridiculous because you’d never know that that was the case if I didn’t tell you. I’m not going to do that this time (even though this is clearly another one of those posts).

Every now and then, life seems to get obnoxiously hectic. For our family, October through January is stupidly full. There’s about a million birthdays and then all the holidays…it’s insanity. Because I’m the type of person who always has a to-do list that’s a mile long and who needs copious amounts of alone time, this season can be extremely overwhelming and generally, I react to this with complete and utter laziness.

Today is certainly a great example of that. The house is a disaster. Both sides of the sink are full of dishes (and, let’s be real here, so are the countertops). There’s scraps of paper all over the living room floor from my daughter’s “art projects” yesterday. There’s fluff strewn about the house from the toy the dog destroyed within hours of its purchase. The bathroom sink is full of toothpaste scum and Almost-Husband’s beard trimmings, and the floor desperately needs mopped. An array of toys clutters up every inch of available space in every room of the house. And the laundry. Good lord, the laundry.

There are still some bills to be paid that were due two weeks ago, and for once the issue isn’t not having the money to cover them. I just haven’t gotten around to them yet. We have been averaging 3 yo-yo (you’re on your own) meals a week for the last month, and most of the meals I’ve managed to cook have been premade. My workouts have completely disappeared from my routine and I have pretty much disappeared from social media.

In short, I’ve had a major case of the lazies. I just don’t want to do anything–even the things I typically love doing. I come home from work, throw on my yoga pants, and sit around messing with my phone as the TV drones on in the background. Occasionally, I take a glance at my planner and tell myself I should do something. Then I say “there’s always tomorrow” and I resume my lounging.

What’s amazing about this is that for once, this has very little to do with my depression and a lot to do with giving myself a break. Instead of allowing myself to feel guilty for this, I’ve decided to just accept that this is part of my process and work with it.

Sometimes, life gets overwhelming and the only thing you can do is just say “screw it” and let all the balls drop to the floor. Just free yourself from all the burdens for a moment and pick them back up at your own pace. Allow yourself to do the bare minimum for until you’re ready to move on. Use this time to really evaluate your values and what is most important to you. Cut out what isn’t serving you and restructure your life to maximize the things that do.

I’m not sure when this shift happened, but it suddenly became very clear that in order to be happy I needed to stop trying to alter myself to fit my life and begin altering my life to fit me.

This is the phase I am in now.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are some great things going on in my life at the moment and I will continue to focus on those and to strive for greater balance.

And maybe tomorrow, I won’t be so lazy.

How Do You Do It?

How Do You Do It?

Things have been obnoxiously crazy around here since I’ve made the switch from stay-at-home-mom to working mom.

Finding my new normal has been a challenge. I’ve been waking up at 6 AM so that I can try to work on the blog and some other writing projects before my shift starts…which, if I’m going to be honest, hasn’t worked out so well. Most days I don’t even hear my alarm, so it’s closer to 7 before I’m out of bed, which makes it difficult. It’s hard to just jump into my day, so I find myself just staring at the screen for an hour before I have to get dressed and get my daughter ready for the day. 

Once the workday is done it’s time to get dinner made, take food to Almost-Husband, and try to squeeze in some housework before The Princess and I go to bed. I have been able to work in some blog stuff, mostly on Periscope, but I don’t feel like I have been able to put as much effort into this project as I would like and it’s driving me nuts. The days seem like they are just going by in a blur and before I know it the weekend is here, which on the one hand is great. Who doesn’t love weekends?

The thing is, as much as I want to use my weekends to catch up on all the things I can’t get to during the week, by the time it rolls around I’m exhausted and I don’t want to do much of anything. Once I get all the housework caught up, I’m too worn out to focus on my writing or my music, or to spend time with the people I care about. I’ve also picked up every germ the kids at daycare bring in, so my drive has been even smaller as of late. In fact, I spent all of last weekend in bed with some sort of cold or flu thing and I’m still feeling under the weather. 

My daughter is also having some problems adjusting, which makes it all the more difficult. She’s not sleeping well, she’s regressing in the potty-training department, and has developed some attitude problems. Suddenly, she has no listening skills and is even more defiant that normal. It’s been a struggle and I feel as though I spend most of our time at home yelling and putting her in time out and it’s not the way I want our relationship to be. 
With all of this craziness, I’ve found my depression and anxiety issues have bubbled up again, which makes it all the more difficult to navigate through these waters. 

Still, I’m trying to remain positive. 

I’m lucky to have a job…and an easy one at that. Even though I’m not getting everything done that I want to on a daily basis, I’m still making a little progress. I love our home and knowing that we can keep ourselves afloat. When my child isn’t being a little tyrant we share lots of laughs and love. My almost-marriage is stronger than ever. Almost-Husband will be moving to the day shift soon, so I’ll have more help at home. There’s no shortage of things to still be grateful for.

I just need to find my groove.

So, I thought I’d ask all you more seasoned moms for any advice or tips that might help make things run a little more smoothly around here. I would love to hear all about it in the comments! 

Can We Just Pause Life? I’m Not Ready To Have A Preschooler!

Can We Just Pause Life? I’m Not Ready To Have A Preschooler!

Last night, after my daughter had fallen asleep, I sat cross-legged on the floor in my living room with a pile of shopping bags in front of me. In my hand, I held a black Sharpie and suddenly I felt like the mommiest mom who ever mommed.

With a deep breath, I dove into the task at hand: writing The Princess’s name on all her school supplies. Crayons, markers, glue sticks, water colors, folders, pencils…one by one I labeled all her things and arranged them neatly in her backpack.

Her first backpack.

I’m not going to lie, I cried a little bit.

Remember how I told you I’ve been sappy lately? This whole starting preschool thing took that to an entirely new level. I have the feeling it’s going to be even worse when she starts kindergarten!

It seems like my daughter turned into a big girl overnight and I’m not quite sure I’m ready for this. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit excited for this new adventure. And honestly, I think I’m going to look forward to this routine every year. As a kid I loved going school shopping and putting together my backpack. I was always so excited to get to use my new stuff and, truth be told, I still get excited about notebooks, folders, and pencils. I know, I’m a little weird.

Although I had a rough time socially, on the whole I loved school and I hope my daughter does as well. Of all the things I want for her, the most important thing for me is that she is happy. Seeing as how she’ll be spending the majority of her time in classrooms from now until who-knows-when, I really want her to enjoy her time there!

This morning, I felt my heart swell up with pride as I helped her get around for the day. She was so excited to wear the pretty dress she had picked out and to finally use her new backpack. She was ready to bound out the door a good hour before we had to leave!

The day went much more smoothly than I had expected. My girl is a bit fiery and is determined to do what she wants, when she wants so I was a bit worried about her ability to follow directions. I was also a little concerned about her crying, since we’ve been having issues with her not wanting to part with me at daycare.

However, those fears were put to rest after I talked to her teacher at lunch. I was overjoyed to hear how much of a big girl she was!

When we got home The Princess opened up her bag and retrieved her folder, excited to show me all the things she made. She talked and talked about how much she loved school and her friends and I couldn’t keep the big goofy grin off my face.

My girl is growing up!

As sad as I am to acknowledge that my baby is no longer a baby, I am looking forward to see what changes this new adventure brings. Watching her learn and grow is always amazing to me. One day I’ll read over this post and wish I was back in this day, probably when she is starting high school!

Until then, I’ll just soak up all these wonderful moments.

My One And Only You

My One And Only You

Sometimes, my child drives me nuts. She’s loud. She’s mouthy. She has no respect for rules or boundaries of any sort. She does weird things. She throws fits over insignificant things, like me not allowing her to carry around a sock full of marbles at daycare. She can be a royal pain in the ass.

In short, she’s just a tiny version of me. And, all told, that’s pretty awesome.

This may sound strange, but sometimes I forget she’s a tiny person who is just learning how to be an acceptable human being. I can be quick to get agitated at her behaviour and often find myself counting down to bedtime so I can get some peace and quiet.

Tonight, however, she’s lying beside me on the bed, watching some god-awful Youtube videos and I can’t help but be amazed at this little wonder. She’s getting so big so fast and is becoming more and more independent by the minute. She has her own thoughts and likes and dislikes. She’s a far cry from the helpless baby I brought home almost 3 years ago.

I forget that, too. Sometimes, those days seem to have been blotted out of my mind. I’m so focused on the moment that I can only see the rambunctious toddler before me. It’s like someone swapped out my precious infant for a big kid when I wasn’t looking…and somehow I didn’t even notice!

But tonight, I see the baby I cradled so lovingly in my arms through all those sleepless nights.

It started this morning with a picture my mom posted on Facebook. How I longed to hold that baby again!

After we took Almost-Husband back to work at the end of his lunch break, “Only You” by The Platters came on the radio and suddenly I was transported back to that time. I remembered singing this song to The Princess when she was brand new. “Only you can make this change in me, for it’s true, you are my destiny…” Those words had meant so much then, and my eyes teared up as I sang them again.

Although this is a song that is, most likely, meant to convey romantic love, it resonated so deeply with me as I experienced the insanely powerful love that a mother has for her child.

My life was a mess before she came along. She made me want to be a better person. She gave me a purpose.

Tonight, she is fiddling with my ear as I write this and I know she is tired. She has done this since she was a nursling and I know that one day she won’t rely on this soothing mechanism. The thought makes me a little sad, but it also fills me with an odd sort of joy. One day, she won’t need me so much. She may not even remember these little habits or the countless times I’ve comforted her in the last few years. But, as the years go by and these tiny moments add up, she’ll know, deep down in her soul, that I have always been–and will always be–there for her when she needs me.

She may not understand it now, but she really is the light of my life. In between all the yelling and time-outs and craziness that accompany our day-to-day life, there are these sweet moments and they make it all worthwhile. Each hug, each kiss, each “I love you”, every tickle fight and story time, every time she does something silly and makes me laugh…all these things mean more to me than anything else ever could. They are memories I’ll cherish forever.

For all the strife, motherhood has turned out to be the sweetest gig I could have hoped for.

10 Things I’ve Learned From My Job (Thus Far)

10 Things I’ve Learned From My Job (Thus Far)

Work. The other 4-letter word. The thing that I am very clearly not cut out for.

In the past couple weeks, my little family has been struggling to adjust to my new role as a working mom. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, and I’m still trying to figure out how to utilize my time effectively so that my writing doesn’t fall by the wayside and my house doesn’t constantly look like Toys R Us exploded in my living room.

We’re getting there, slowly but surely. The Princess is starting to have fewer meltdowns and is beginning to make some friends, which is awesome. We still need to work on some basics, like not taking toys from the other kids and keeping her clothes on, but she doesn’t seem to hate it as much so I’ll call it a win. 

As I was making lunch for all the kiddos, I realized that I’ve already learned a few lessons from this experience and I thought I’d share them with you. 

1.) I am not a morning person…and I’m not really a night person either. Since starting my job, I’ve tried out a few different bedtimes and wake-times in order to figure out what works best for me. It appears that no matter what I do, I don’t want to get up and get moving in the morning. It seems that I need a good 3 hours of being awake before I can bring myself to act like a functioning human. It also appears that by 8 o’clock my brain has completely shut down, so most of my “active” time is spent at work. Which is good for my employer and the kids I work with, but bad for my creative pursuits.

2.) Mondays are awful. I know, I know, it’s cliche as hell, but it’s a cliche for a reason. After 2 days of running on my own schedule, getting back into the groove is hard–for me and for The Princess. Forcing myself to deal with the real world is a pain in the butt. Especially when the day starts on a bad note, like it did this Monday. After I’d overslept, my behemoth of a dog broke free from his chain, forcing me to chase him down the street in my jammies, which led to me stepping in dog poop with my bare feet, before going inside to change a poopy pull-up, rush around, and get to work. Mondays just need to stop being a thing. 

3.) Weekends are shorter than I remembered. Seriously, what happened? Before I had this job, the only difference between my weekdays and the weekends was that Almost-Husband spent more time at home. The days stretched before us and I felt like we had all sorts of time together. Now, it’s just a mad dash to squeeze in everything I can’t fit in during the workweek…not the 48 hours of downtime I was envisioning. 

4.) My immune system sucks. This past Friday, I had to call out of work because I was sure I was dying. After 3 days with a slight tickle in my throat and a runny nose, I woke up feeling like I was on fire. The Princess and I were both running fevers, my throat hurt like a son-of-a-gun and my ears were killing me…on top of some other aches and pains. So, off to the doctor I went. It turns out it was just some viral thing and I’m sure this is just the first of many bugs the two of us are going to pick up at the daycare. It turns out, kids are little germ machines and my body wasn’t prepared for that reality.

5.) Dealing with 3 kids under 2 isn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. This just blows my mind. The two bigger ones play well together and it’s surprisingly simple to deal with one while holding the other. This may be because they aren’t mine and at the end of the day I’m going home with just my little goofball, but it does give me hope for the future. 

6.) My daughter is the jealous type. Yeah, that hope I mentioned a second ago? That goes out the window when I see her getting upset that I’m snuggling another kid. She seems okay with the tiny baby, but she’s not so cool with kids closer to her own age getting affection. One of these days she’ll understand that there’s enough love to go around, right?

7.) Meal planning is a pain in the butt (and boxed meals are still terrible). I’ve always been the kind of girl who makes homemade meals every night. Usually, it’s something pan-fried and smothered with gravy, but every now and then I get a little more elaborate. However, I’ve recently started making more prepackaged meals. They’re quick and easy, and after a long day of work, the last thing I want to do is cook. I keep telling myself I’ll cook on the weekends, but by then I’m exhausted and just want to enjoy my days off. I never thought I’d say this, but I miss cooking. I also have to plan around the daycare menu so we’re not have the same thing for dinner that we had for lunch. My month long meal plans are now week to week, which seems obnoxious to me.

8.) Housework is the devil. I really thought it would be easier to keep up on the house if no one was messing it up all day long. I severely underestimated my daughter’s mess-making abilities.

9.) There’s about a million dollars worth of things I want to purchase with my first check. Like, for real. I keep finding things that I want to purchase and for some reason I keep forgetting that we still have to do things like pay bills and buy food. Still, I’m looking forward to treating myself a little bit.

10) Attitude really is everything. Yes, time is short and there are a lot of new challenges to work through as we adjust, but it goes much more smoothly if I keep a sense of humor about it and focus on the positives.

We Can Work It Out

We Can Work It Out

Over the course of my daughter’s life, I have made many mistakes. I’ve scalded her in the shower. I’ve let her roll off the bed as an infant. I’ve given her cookies and fruit snacks for breakfast. I’ve inadvertently taught her all the swear words. I’ve left markers within her reach. I’ve done many, many stupid things. However, I am convinced that my most recent mistake is the biggest to date.

Let me back up a bit.

Before The Princess was born it was decided that I would stay home with her. If I’m going to be entirely honest, as soon as I realized that being a stay-at-home-mom was even a thing, I knew that I wanted to stay home with my kids…at least until they started school.

For a variety of reasons, I decided to turn in an application to the local daycare center a couple of weeks ago. It seemed like the perfect solution. I could make some extra money, The Princess could spend some time with kids and get used to a school-like setting, and the daycare prices are significantly reduced for the children of staff members. Plus, I would be right there in case of an emergency.

Truthfully, when I turned in the application I didn’t think for a second that I’d get a call back, so I was surprised when I was asked to come in for an interview a week later.

When I came in, the director asked me some basic questions about my application and then cut to the chase. “The hours are 9:30 to 5:30. The first part of the day you’ll be cooking, and then you’ll be in the baby room. The pay is minimum wage. If you want it, you have the job.”

So, we dove into the paperwork. She had asked me to stay and get started right then, but I had to get back home and get my daughter so that Almost-Husband could go to work, so I declined. She then asked about the next day, but it was the day before I was leaving for vacation. We talked a bit and it was decided that I would start work the following Tuesday when I returned.

And that, my friends, was the mistake to end all mistakes (thus far in my parenting career).

I left town Thursday evening for my annual trip to The Fest For Beatles Fans. Since the drive is so long, my mom, best friend, and I drive up to my aunt’s house and crash for the night before she, her daughter, and my grandmother join us and we continue on to Chicago.

I spent the next 3 and a half days blissfully enjoying the rare opportunity to exist as my own entity. Until I returned home at 6:30 Monday evening, I was just Brandyn. No cries of “Mommy I need…” or poop-filled pull-ups or throwing away barely touched meals. No responsibilities. Just family and fellow Beatles fans. I participated in a 60s costume contest, listened to amazing live music, heard some fantastic speakers, made some frivolous purchases, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

However, as the weekend drew to a close, I began to wonder if I was going back to work too quickly after spending so much time away from my family. When I finally walked through my front door, my daughter ran at me shrieking with laughter and delight, “Mommy’s home! Mommy’s home!”

We spent all evening snuggling and playing and laughing and I knew I should have taken an extra day to be with her. But, I reasoned that this was good. I had come home refreshed and energized and we would be starting a new journey together.

Tuesday morning I woke up with just enough time to get myself dressed before waking up The Princess and getting her ready for her first day at “school”. She was convinced that Practice Baby would be there, and I reluctantly informed her that they would be at different schools. She seemed happy enough and bounded out the door eager to make new friends.

As soon as we got there she ran off to play with the other kids and I breathed a sigh of relief as I went into the kitchen to start my day. With the help of the lady in charge of training me, I prepared lunch for the kids and helped serve the meal. I sat next to my daughter to eat my lunch, grateful that we would be able to make this a part of our day.

When it was time to clean up, the first meltdown occurred. She needed her mommy. Now.

I took some time to console her and left her with the big kids so I could learn the ropes in the baby room. She cried and cried. My heart broke.

Soon, I peeked out the door and caught her enjoying herself. I smiled and returned to my job. This was going to be gravy. A while later, I had to leave the room and she spotted me. Another meltdown ensued, but I knew I had to push through.

The end of the day came and after yet another round of hysterical tears, I brought her in with me while I cleaned up and prepared to go home. I reminded myself that it was only the first day and vowed to spend some extra quality time with her when we got home.

She had other plans. As soon as we were in the door she demanded to watch Curious George and be left alone. I made dinner, called my mom, and cleaned up the house a little. All told, I thought it was a pretty good first day.

The next two days, however, were just as tearful. She stopped trying to play with the other kids, opting to stand to the side and pout in between crying sessions. I’m not going to lie, I may have cried a little myself over this.

At this point, I’m at a loss. I want her to get used to a more structured setting before she starts real school. I want her to make friends. I want to bring in a paycheck. But, I can’t help but feel guilty when I’m giving attention to other children while my own child is screaming for her mommy. I can’t help but worry about the strict routine destroying the beautifully wild and independent nature of my little one. I can’t help but be concerned that I’m teaching her to settle by taking a job that isn’t my dream job.

I can’t help but wonder if this is really right for us.

At the behest of my mother, we are going to stick it out for at least two more weeks. If she doesn’t adjust, we’re probably going to have to rethink this move. For now, however, we just have to plug along and hope for the best.

Any of you amazing parents have any tips on how to handle this transition? I’d love to hear them!

Anxiety, Grief, And A Glimmer Of Hope

Anxiety, Grief, And A Glimmer Of Hope

I have been trying to write this post for nearly 2 weeks now. Dozens of drafts have been started and discarded during a series of late nights and early mornings and who-knows-how-many declarations of “I’ll get to it later”. Since I can’t seem to force these thoughts into any sort of outline, I’m just going to do this stream of consciousness style, so please, bear with me.

Tonight, I can’t sleep. A million thoughts are running through my head at full speed. The bills are piling up, as is the housework. I need to get something written for the blog. I need to get something written for my book. My trip to Beatlefest is coming up. I need to decide on clothes. I need to get packed. I still need to find a sitter. I need to pull some spending money out of thin air. I have 2 appointments tomorrow. I need to go shopping. I have a dentist appointment next week, I can’t forget. Did I write it down? I think I wrote it down. I need to catch up on all my emails. I still haven’t unpacked my office. I just applied for a new job. I hope I get it. I hope I like it. I hope I don’t have to quit the blog because of it. I hope my daughter is okay at daycare. With her attitude she might get kicked out. How did I raise such a brat? I suck at this motherhood thing. I suck at everything….

On and on and on it goes. The list of worries, tasks to be done, appointments to be made and ridiculous self-criticisms is endless. It is suffocating. It drains me of all my energy, making it impossible to complete even the most basic of tasks, which in turn adds fuel to the inner chatter.

Life with anxiety is difficult, even when you are taking the necessary steps to control it. Sometimes, it still shines through. This is one of those times.

It makes sense, of course, that I’m dealing with this right now. I’m not good with change. I’m not good at unexpected events. Try as I might, I’m not a roll with the punches kind of gal. And there have certainly been a lot of  changes lately.

Moving into our new house and getting our puppy were two big changes. While I was mostly prepared for them, it did require a period of adjustment. Our whole routine was upended and it took me quite a while to find our rhythm again.

Unfortunately, as soon as I was back on a somewhat even keel I got a devastating phone call from my best friend. One of our dearest friends, who we have known since the 6th grade, had passed away suddenly. Dropping everything, I jumped in my car and took the half-hour drive to my hometown where a few of us gathered. The weekend seemed to drag on as I sat with my grief. Guilt consumed me as I thought of how long it had been since we had last spoke. The last time I had seen him in person was when he came to visit me in the hospital the day The Princess was born. I berated myself for letting so much time pass. How hard is it to pick up a phone? Why hadn’t I tried harder to stay in touch? I thought I had time. I was wrong.

The following week brought the visitation, the funeral, and my class reunion, which featured a tribute to the friend we had lost. On top of mourning someone dear to me, I found myself mourning the loss of a simpler time. I mourned the loss of friendships. I re-experienced grief for my grandmother and for others I have lost. I mourned the loss of the child I was, of the teenager I was, of the young adult I was. For the first time, I was confronted with my own mortality.  My tears came in waves, broken only by grief-induced sleep and the demands of my child as I adjusted to this new reality.

I would be lying if I said that I was one-hundred percent okay right now. These things take time and I have a lot of thoughts and feelings to sort through. On top of an anxiety flare-up, it’s been a mess.

However, I will say that I am steadily getting better. During this time, I have had to be gentle with myself. I’ve had to remind myself that all the busy-work of life can wait. I just have to get through each day as it comes. I have to remind myself of all the good things in my life and remain focused on the positive, even when the only positive I can see is that it’s close to bedtime. I have had to be honest with those around me and let them know how I am feeling, instead of hiding away, which has been rough since my instinct is to disappear when I am in any kind of pain.

Most importantly, I have become more focused than ever on changing the things that I can. I am relaxing my standards a bit as far as housework and my writing go to allow for more time with family and friends. I am trying harder to really be in the moment and enjoy whatever it is that I am doing without allowing my mind to dwell on the past or the future. I’m trying harder to control my to-do list instead of letting it control me. We are all here on borrowed time. I want to make the most of it while I can.

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Cape Town, South Africa