It’s only been one month since the idea occurred to me to challenge myself, break out of my old habits and comfort zone, embrace new challenges and new social connections. I jokingly referred to my new look at life as “my year of yes!”.
My friends laughed, and I laughed, but then when opportunities came up – social invites, new ideas, new skills, new social invitations, things that I had turned down in the past – those words came back to me. I have been gently, and not so gently, reminded of the promise I made to myself, to make this the year of yes, more often than I expected! Lesson learned: be careful what you say out loud amongst your friends and family.
Prodding me. Pushing me. Challenging me. Reminding me. It all comes back to this.
So to follow through with my vow, I have taken a sewing course to finally learn how to use my beautiful, expensive, sewing machine that I have owned for over seven years! I could only thread the bobbin and possibly do “practice” stitches, but never tried making anything or even putting in a hem. I truly wanted to learn before now, but never made the time to do so, or found a way to make it work with all of my other perceived “important commitments”. Suddenly, there was a Groupon with a beginners sewing class on offer, and I couldn’t ignore it or pass up the opportunity. It was only three classes, for two hours each evening, but that’s all that I really needed to not be afraid to try it. I actually MADE SOMETHING. An apron, that was made with my own hands and in a fabric that I chose. I felt like a blushing middle schooler in Home Ec class when I was done!
I also realized that I have lost the ability to read an entire book in the last few years. It seems that I can only pay attention for so long before my mind wanders and I think I have more important things that I should be doing, or I get distracted with family things or feel too lazy and just watch TV. I was down to reading magazine articles and snippets online, and feeling as if my brain were shrinking! So, I took on the challenge to read 25 books in 2016 through Goodreads. Going from zero books in 2015 to twenty five in 2016 sounds daunting, but I am hungry to read! I am working on three books simultaneously now, and it feels great!
I recently went to a bridal show with my soon-to-be sister-in-law, and during the vendor visits I agreed to take dance lessons at Arthur Murray Dance Studios. I originally agreed so my brother and SIL could get a free lesson towards their wedding dance lessons, but I’ve always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance and never made the time – or had the real opportunity since my husband had no desire the last twenty years. Who knew that you could take dance lessons alone? They promised me a young, good-looking instructor…now you’ve got my attention!
I signed up for and have successfully participated in my first ever public crossfit competition, the Trodo games, and finished with my team to earn the “grit award”. It was by far one of the hardest competitions I have ever been a part of, and I seriously underestimated what it would entail. I almost quit during the first WOD and truly felt like sitting down and crying, but it got better and I did it. I survived, and I am honestly looking forward to the next one! Maybe now I will make the time to take my training seriously and actually eat better to feel better.
And the latest challenge from a good friend is to wear makeup everyday for thirty days to see if it will change my life, or at least the way I feel about myself. I am the average SAHM, honestly. Most days I am in some sort of t-shirt, with jeans or yoga pants and casual shoes – no makeup. Everyday. It’s been interesting to say the least. I have tried each day to do something with my face, even if it’s just mascara and some blush. So far, after only one week, I am feeling more confident in myself. I take an extra minute to look at myself in the mirror (maybe I’ve forgotten who that strange woman looking back at me really is?) But within the first week of this challenge, I have realized that my makeup is pretty basic and could stand to be updated, or should I say, more age appropriate? I’m probably using the same techniques and colors that I did when I was a teenager, and that wasn’t last year let, me tell ya. Time for a makeover. Bobbi Brown, here I come!
All of this is just the beginning. It’s more than a resolution, it’s a promise to myself to be better to me, kinder and more forgiving of myself. I have been living for everyone else but myself for a very long time – usually it was my own doing, but sometimes completely out of my control. Or so I thought. I just turned fifty a few months ago and an idea became crystal clear shortly afterward. I only have one life, and only so many days and nights left to it. I should do what makes me happy, what brings me joy, and share it with those that make me happy and bring me joy. It’s time to let go of the negative, the exhausting, the sadness and make myself open to the positive, the exciting, the joy and all of the new opportunities that the future has in store for me.
Today was a good day. A “too good to be inside” kind of good day.
The temperature was around 78, the sun was shining and everyone was smiling, laughing and playing. Then it was time to get to our “activities”…sad faces, sniffling noises, dead man walking…
But maybe, just maybe, we don’t really have to go…do we?
Sometimes you’ve just gotta say, “what the heck?!” and do it – or actually don’t do it. Blow it off! Play hooky! Have fun and live a little, for goodness sakes!
So we did. And I wish that I could say that I felt at least a little bit bad about it, but I didn’t. I actually felt great about it.
I dropped off my middles son’s golf clubs to him at the course so he could play his first nine holes of the season, then swung by to pick up my other middle-schooler from school to take him along with the youngest to go out for ice cream.
We ordered from the walk-up window, along with half the town that showed up, and sat under a tree in the shade enjoying our first taste of something like summer – but not quite. Then we went for a haircut (only by request) and headed home.
On the way home my middle son called to be picked up and we all agreed that we needed tacos for dinner. He got a 97 on his Spanish project today afterall – now THAT’S worth celebrating!
A quick shower (my oldest is at that age, for better or worse), grabbed the keys and we were off! A taco dinner at our favorite place that my husband usually protests going to, but he’s not home to make that argument, so we went. And it was great!
We laughed, we talked, we goofed around driving there and back. We made plans for spring break to go camping and exploring. We slowed down and just enjoyed being a family. No real plan, no activity to get to, just us and that was all we needed.
These are the days that I hope my kids will remember – not just the big events, not just the bad events – the good times that came out of nothing more than just an idea on a “too good to be inside kind of day”. Those days when we blew it off to do something we wanted to do, not went to something that we had to do. And don’t get me wrong, most of those “have to do” things are things that we chose to be a part of, but some days you’ve just got to let it go and enjoy the sunshine, the smiles and the laughter. Sometimes it’s what makes us a family.
I realize that I made this blog, and that I promised (to myself) that I would write on it if not daily at least weekly…but that hasn’t happened. Thank goodness it wasn’t a “new year’s resolution” or I’d be really upset! (that 15 pounds is still clinging to me, so we know how those work for me, don’t we?)
And why? Not because there aren’t enough random and crazy thoughts swimming through my head daily, no. Trust me, there is plenty of that going on. It’s the time. I know that I have more than enough time to make it happen if only I would make it a priority, but I have too many “priorities” on any given day that I sometimes lose touch with which ones actually count.
Add to that mix the idea of three boys with multiple demands, activities, deadlines, etc. and some days my head is spinning and I am just glad that I got the laundry done and didn’t forget to pick someone up from some afterschool activity or missed a meeting.
The challenges of motherhood, I know. Some are better at it than others, this I’ll readily admit. But what I want to know is “Why??” What’s the secret? Do they function on two hours of sleep and secretly stay up all night sewing Boy Scout badges, making bake sale posters, organizing lists and tables to keep track of all of their to-do lists?
Who has that energy?? Who cares that much?? And who is keeping track of it all in the end? Is there a contest that I don’t remember entering that chooses the winner of the super-Moms??
Sorry, I’ve given up enough of my sleep time during the earlier years of my children’s childhood and I have enough challenges trying to remember the three things I need at the grocery store without a list to begin once again to deprive myself of sleep now. (as a side note, I just took a quiz to see if I have ADD and my results? “you may or may not have ADD” really? Huh, I sort of thought so)
But that still doesn’t excuse me from not making the time to type a little something each day, or each week, onto my blog. It’s good practice to put something into writing, to journal an experience, to share with the community, etc. At the risk of making a “resolution” I am going to go on record today that I will make a bigger effort to do just that, write more regularly on my blog…
…if I remember and if I have the time. (I’m not staying up late to do it, that’s for sure)
Why is it that new fathers, or not-so-new fathers for that matter, seem to think that their presence after the birth of a baby is unimportant? They hang around for the first couple of days to bond and help, then go back to work – that much I get, you need to support the household – but after that their lives don’t change much. They work, go for drinks with their buddies, go fishing or golfing (both all day events) on their weekends or days off and can sleep off a hangover while their wives take care of the kids if they need.
Too often I’ve heard the lament, “it’s not like he can FEED the baby” while a young father is out with his friends, when they have made the choice to breastfeed. And I say “they have made the choice” because I would hope that both parents were a part of that decision and are in agreement. But is being a father, or parent for that matter, just about feeding a baby? Only about taking care of basic needs for a newborn infant or a crabby toddler? I think they’re missing the mark.
Something that gets lost in the experience is the idea that both parents are a part of this new life. You BOTH have new responsibilities – and not just to this new, demanding, messy, sometimes cranky alien that has overtaken your house with all sorts of new-fangled furniture and entertainment options. You both have a new responsibility to each other, too. While it may be natural for the mother to be the caregiver to the baby, especially in a breastfeeding situation, it doesn’t seem natural for the father to be the caregiver to the mother at this time. Why is that?
While men cannot breastfeed, that much is true, they can still make the house run better and help to make the new mother more relaxed and happier. Putting that all together makes for a happier home and a happier marriage.Waiting until your wife finally loses it and becomes a crazy woman making “crazy demands” like time to take a shower ALONE, or to use the bathroom ALONE, is a sign that she needs you (and has needed you for some time) and you have been MIA. And you wonder why you don’t have sex anymore??
A new father could, and should, offer to stop at the store on the way home before leaving work to pick up basics (or even dinner) once in awhile. He could easily unload a dishwasher, washing machine or dryer – it’s not rocket science, now is it? Cooking breakfast (and cleaning up afterward) on the weekend is a treat for the stay-at-home mom who is most likely grabbing a bagel or toast in-between feedings and diaper changes. When you hear the phrase, “it’s the little things that count” this was coined for the stay-at-home mom. To say that “he can’t FEED the baby” is a cop-out that has worn out it’s welcome, and place, in today’s world.
Why do you think that we have books like “Porn for Women” showing men vacuuming and ironing, cooking and cleaning? Think about it.
One other point that I think many people seem to miss is the idea that most women these days were “somebody” before they began to have children. We’re not the same generation that graduated from high-school, got married and had our babies all before turning 25. We had jobs, careers even! We had friends, and plans on the weekends, too! We had an identity that was individual and made you love us in the first place. Motherhood can change a lot of that – sometimes for the better, sometimes not – but it doesn’t have to change it all. And you don’t want it to, because that leads to a long unhappy road that none of us want to drive down.
We all need to be “fed” sometime.
It’s the beginning of a new year and I realize that I have not yet set a goal list of resolutions for myself. Maybe that should be my resolution? ‘I will not make any further deceiving, naive, blind and/or stupid empty promises to myself in the year of 2012’. This includes the tried and true biggies: losing weight, exercising more, eating healthy everyday, not yelling at my kids, being a more positive parent on a daily basis, meeting my husbands needs and desires for what he expects out of the “perfect wife” .
Whew! That was a tough one, but I think I can manage this for a year.
Instead, I will try to be honest with myself and those around me, and stop trying to make everyone happy at my own expense. I will take the time to lounge in a bath filled with hot scented water, read a good book just because, go for that extra jog alone because it is a sunny day, and say “no” when asked to volunteer for something that I truly have no desire to be a part of. I will let those around me who feel that they should lead do exactly that, and I will get out of their way and let them bask in their own glory of accomplishment. I will be a better friend to those that are good friends to me.
Sometimes it’s not about what you should give up or get rid of, it’s about putting it all in perspective and prioritizing. The rest will fall in line…I am certain.