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Looking Up From The Routine

Warning: I guess this post may end up sounding like a humblebrag. It isn’t meant to be– more that I’m trying to word-vomit out the things I need to hear in text form. But if shit like that bothers you, ahhh… maybe don’t read this one.
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I’m going to assume that the majority of the people who read this have, at one time or another (or always) worry about financials. Our society has us constantly wanting more and more. Never settling for what we have– never taking it all in. Looking around and saying, “Well, if I only had that one item I saw online/at Target/at Sarah’s house….”

I panic easily. Part of the disorder I live with — I am easily stressed and full of the anxieties of life. I cope as best I can but I am burdened by the thoughts and what-ifs constantly.

Paying the bills each month is always stomach turning. This bill and that bill, taking more and more of the dollars in my checking account. Wondering how next month will be — checking for coupons and savings and seeing where I can pinch and save. All to keep those numbers higher and higher.

I have a thought that lives in my brain that checking accounts should be a certain number. If it drops, I panic.

The thing is, when it drops, it’s because I’ve paid all my bills. When it dips below that magic number, it’s because I’ve bought groceries and diapers and pet food. I’ve purchased tickets to take my children’s to fun places.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

Tonight I was doing my routine before bed– I check in on the kids, feed the cats, lock all the doors, and prep the coffee maker for 4am (the obscene hour that Kayla wakes up and goes to work). It was as I was filling the carafe that I glanced up and looked at my house. You’ll recognize this feeling if you’ve ever gone long enough in a house, but never truly looked at it.

I looked up and saw my house– the furniture, appliances, electronics, toys and games, shoes, the clutter and the decorations… This is my home. Our home… Where my family lives.

When I feel so down about finances and stress– I try and look around. I force myself to get grounded in reality. What do I actually have?

I have new cars. I have a gorgeous house full of furniture (even if it’s all Ikea!). I have a full pantry, fridge, AND deep freezer. I have a washer and dryer (IN MY HOUSE!). I have TWO bathrooms… do you know how great that is? If I have to pee and someone is in the shower… I just go use the OTHER BATHROOM (instead of peeing in the sink in the kitchen which I may, or may not, have done while pregnant once… It was a one bathroom apartment). I have bills paid, gas tanks filled, clean clothes…

But the most important? I have a fiancee, three incredible and amazing children, and four badass cats. I could live in a shelter as long as I had my babies and we were safe and happy.

I’ve been so much farther down. I’ve been food stamps, WIC, food pantries, stealing condiments from McDonald’s down. I’ve been sharing a phone with no minutes, washing my clothes in the sink with a bar of off-brand soap, feeding the cats instead of myself, begging my family for money month after month after month down. I’ve been locked in a psych ward for a week, on the edge of a parking garage ready to jump, staring into the void down.

I am NOT down anymore. If, in 2009, when I was at my lowest, weakest, most broke (both financially and mentally), you had told me eight years later I would be where I was today… I would not have even understood it as reality.

The road has been so horrendous at times… the bumps were violent and the struggle to keep myself afloat so difficult. But every so often I am confronted with all the reality I should be grateful to have.

Sometimes all it takes is looking up from the routine. 

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My Demons and Me (Part One)

On any average day at our house I have to ask the kids to clean the living room between 4-10 times (this means putting all the big and little pillows back on the couch, picking up all the toys that aren’t even supposed to be out there, fold and put away the blankets, pick up all the stray clothes, and throw away the ten thousand fucking baby wipes that they like to throw in the air like confetti). Oh, and before any of your start chiming in, yes, I do tell them not to make a damn mess, yes, I do punish for messes, and yes, I do make them clean their own messes. Also, yes, I am paying attention to them, but sometimes a lady has to pee and these three are amazing at making a mess in minimal time.

Around the third or fifth time of having to say, “NO! Pick up all the pillows!” and subsequently watching them not hear me and/or walk like they suddenly don’t know how legs work (You know, when I say the word “chocolate” in a bedroom with the door closed, they can suddenly hear me AND run to me faster than The Flash… interesting) I start losing my gusto. I don’t have a hell of a lot of fight left in me come 3pm— and I know that I have at least four more hours, bare minimum, that I have to fake it until bedtime.

This is where my Demons seem the most violent, in particular, my Mommy-Demons. Haven’t heard of Mommy-Demons? I bet you have, you just call it something different. Let me jog your memory a bit.

My Mommy-Demons show up during a few different scenarios, but two that are the most obvious to me.

The “Mommy Breakdown” Demon—A little past Midday when my voice is tired, my body is tired, my coffee is wearing off, and I am nowhere near close to bedtime. The demon is wearing lounge clothes holding a glass a wine, smugly staring at me. Mocking me with all the free time and silence they are enjoying. Sipping their overfilled Pinot and clicking through YouTube with slippers on. Showing me what I could have and then watching me cry silently because I am nowhere near capable of having it right now.

-And-

The Mom Guilt Demon—This Demon, for me, is dressed like the Mom I never can figure out how to become. It has perfect hair, perfect make-up, a freshly exercised body, holding a protein shake while wearing clothes that are clean, with no crumbs or child-spills, and are also, somehow, pressed and steamed. They are rested and alert. They show up when I look around and realize how much I feel I failed that day. When my kids are still in their pajamas at lunchtime. When we stay inside all day and watch movies on the couch. When the laundry goes unwashed for a bit too long. This Demon is there to say, “I’ve got it all figured out and then some, why can’t you even accomplish the basics?” She tsks and tatts at me when I forget to thaw the hamburger meat for dinner. She sighs heavily at me when I break and yell at my kids. She shakes her head in disappointment at my Day Two yoga pants and sports bra.

My Mommy-Demon is friends with a few of my other Demons (See Also: Grief-Demon, Academic-Demon, Relationship-Demon, and Writing-Demon… I particularly hate my Writing-Demon! I’ll likely write about these another time… if Writing-Demon lets me). I’m curious as to whether others have these Demons that seems to feed off the torment of their victims because, in this age of Social Media perfection, it would seem that I am all alone in this game of Cat & Mouse. We post only our best for the world to see, which, initially, seems like a great idea. We don’t want the world to see our dirty floors, unfolded (but clean!) laundry, stray paper on the ground, unbrushed teeth (and hair!), or any of the other socially unacceptable things we have in our homes or on our bodies (fun fact: I haven’t shaved my legs IN WEEKS because I literally DO NOT CARE if you see my Wee Little Leg Hairs).

The problem with what we have all done (and yes, I am certainly guilty of this in the past) is we have created a lair for these Demons to nest, breed, and take over. No one knows what real life looks like anymore— we think everything and everyone leads these perfect, manicured lives and we live this horrendous, dirty, mismatched-socks kind of life. If everyone on my Facebook lives exactly as they post they do, then I am for certain total Gutter Trash.

I’ll leave this post with a question: Do you have Demons? What are their names, what do they look like, and how do they bother you?

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Did you know I’m an adult? I didn’t.

I had a bowl of leftover boxed stuffing for breakfast today. Yes, you read that correctly—leftover boxed stuffing. I didn’t even have the decency to make a fresh box of it.

A little while later, I plopped myself onto the couch and fired up a LEGO video game on my XBOX One. I had a few more gold bricks I needed to collect to get to 100% completion.

Lunch rolled around and I made knock-off lunch-able plates. I literally put grapes, cheese, pepperoni, and crackers on plates and called it a day.

After lunch, I played some old school hip-hop and danced like a lunatic for about an hour.

I sat and watched a new cartoon on Nickelodeon that I had been anxiously waiting for before dinner—the previews looked really good.

All in all, I’d say it was a really good day…. for someone who is 12 years old.

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Oh, by the way, did I mention I’m responsible for the LITERAL LIVES OF THREE HUMAN BEINGS?!

Yep. Today, and every other day since 2011, I have had been the main human being who was given 100% responsibility of three very small, very needy other human beings. Did you know that when you give birth to a baby (who by all accounts is made of glass and probably should have an entire team of caretakers) they just hand them to you and say, “Good luck!” All while gently, but firmly, kicking you right the hell out the door? Then they do it again when you have more babies, because, somehow, they haven’t managed to figure out that you are totally not old enough or mature enough to be a parent are-you-kidding-me-right-now.

Now, go and reread that first part about my day and imagine me surrounded by tiny humans that I am required by law to care for—don’t worry, I’ll wait.

And no, I am the one who wanted to watch that new cartoon—they wanted Paw Patrol but I am so done with those talking dogs and that horrible Mayor from one town over (why is he even still a Mayor he’s a literal CRIMINAL).

Sound like a responsible, mature parent to you? Possibly not. Okay, hang on, let me adjust it.

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I had a high-carb breakfast first thing this morning to help boost my energy and get me ready for the day.

A little while later, I had some much-needed self-care time in the living room while using my problem-solving skills to complete a task.

Lunch rolled around and I made a charcuterie board to give me some of my daily fruit intake and amp up my vitamins.

After lunch, I vigorously exercised for an hour.

I was able to catch the pilot of a new television show I have been looking forward to as well- the previews were very intriguing.

All in all, I’d say it was a really good day.

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Same day, different wording. I’d imagine if someone read that as a post on Instagram (probably with a photo of a smoothie bowl or sunset) they’d think, “Well, damn, that woman has it all together. She is a responsible person for sure!”

The thing is, I am responsible. Yes, I eat leftover stuffing and play video games. But what you don’t hear about from me, and many other Moms, are the little things. How this morning when I made myself the stuffing, I made the kids homemade waffles. When I sat down to play the video game, it’s because all three kids asked me to do it—they love to watch me play and help find the bricks. The knock-off lunch-ables? They ate every single bite and LOVED it. Dancing to old school hip-hop is they’re favorite thing to do in the afternoons. I will give you that last one… they really did want to watch Paw Patrol but I literally cannot take another second of that terrible nonsense.

And in between all of those things I cleaned the house, did the dishes, washed the laundry, change diapers (and worked on potty training), brushed hair, brushed teeth, fed the cats, changed the litter, took out the trash, and paid the bills.

So, okay, I’m a bit childish. I like video games and dancing in my underwear (oh, did I forget to mention dance time sometimes means underwear time? Sorry, mailman who spotted us through the doorway window…) but I also can take care of myself and three kids like it’s no big deal. I do it today, I did it yesterday, and I’ll do it tomorrow.

However, tomorrow I’ll probably wear boxers and play LEGO Marvel instead of LEGO Star Wars.

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Germs Are Literally Satan

What is it about a child’s illness that turns mothers into raging lunatics?

“Is he breathing?” and “Do you think he’s got Meningitis?” are both phrases I’ve said, out loud, in the last hour. My daughter was sick on Saturday night and, like clockwork, her brother had a fever by dinner (it’s Tuesday, for those keeping tabs).

This isn’t my first rodeo with sickness. I have three kids ranging from twins who are a little over three and an about-to-be six-year-old. I’ve been changing diapers, wiping noses, cleaning up vomit, and checking temperatures for almost six years. I’ve seen some nasty stomach bugs that would send even the toughest person running for Lysol. I’ve wiped off more crusted snot than I can recall. Fevers are an old friend. Well, not friends. Let’s call fevers and I “frenemies.”

I understand the scientific purpose of fevers. I know that if it’s under 101°F you should just leave it alone. Fevers are nature’s way of fighting whatever is in the body in the most Heavy Metal way possible—It literally BURNS THE GERMS TO DEATH (mwahaha)! I treat them with mild Ibuprofen if it goes between 101-105°F and I make sure the kids don’t have a stiff neck. I make sure to check and see if the medicine makes the fever drop a few degrees. I do everything that MayoClinic tells me to do.

But does any of that scientific knowledge and triple-checking allow me any relief? Hell-to-the-No. Of course it doesn’t, are you insane? Obviously, my child in dying and if I don’t make sure they’re still breathing every hour they have most certainly died.

I’m the person who comedians joke about when they say, “Ever look up your symptoms on WebMD? Everyone has cancer and is dying!” This is not limited to my own symptoms and despite having dealt with fevers with three different kids, I’m the one on the same damn webpage every single time going, “Does she looks different? Lethargic? Loopy? Is her neck stiff? MAYBE SHE HAS MEASLES EVEN THOUGH WE VACCINATED.”

Why do we do this to ourselves? What is it about when our children get sick that makes mothers go absolutely bananas? Is it the inability to be in control? Or is it because when they are so little they have no idea how to truly communicate what hurts (“I hot, I sad, My Tummy” can literally mean a thousand different things from heartburn, to dizziness, to vomit, to gas)?

I know that if I look at it through Logical-Misty’s eyes I’ll see that they’re fine, they’ll be fine, we’ll all be fine. I know that tomorrow my son will feel better and by this weekend he won’t even remember he wasn’t feeling 100%. But I will. I’ll probably have night terrors tonight that he’s dying and the wood floor to his room has become quicksand—and I can’t reach him in time (yes, I’ve had that dream before, and it suuuuucks). I’ll remember this fever like I remember every single fever, stomach bug, and cold that has ravished their tiny, little bodies. I’ll remember it as I spray Lysol in a wide angled sweep through my house like a tear gas bomb on those God Damn germ terrorists.

Oh, it’s been 30 minutes… I should go check his temperature and make sure he’s still breathing.