The Drawings on the Wall

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Everyday when my son gets off of the school bus, I open his backpack to see if there are any notes from his teacher or anything else inside that should be taken out. Most often there are only left over parts from his lunch or toys that he had taken with him on the bus that morning. But sometimes, there are pieces of artwork that his teacher sent home that were either done that day or taken down after its stint on the classroom walls.
I love getting his artwork.
It’s always something different. Whether it is a dinosaur, a firetruck, or a painting of a pumpkin – it all makes no difference to me. Out of his backpack and straight to the fridge almost every piece goes! So much of his artwork dons our refrigerator that I often times have to send stuff to both grandmas houses so they can fill theirs as well. They love it just the same.
When we visit my parents’ house and I see my son’s artwork on their fridge, I’m reminded of the days when my own artwork hung on the “Look what I did at school today” magnets that my mom still owns. I remember rushing through the door after school and excitedly pulling out a new painting to hang on the fridge. I’d pick out the best magnets before my sister claimed them for her own masterpieces. I’d hang it up and be so proud of the work that I had done and be so happy to have my art front and center in the heart of our house.
It is funny how it’s the little things that take us back in time to our own childhoods – a certain smell, something someone says in passing, or perhaps a song. For me, my son’s artwork reminds me of a time when the biggest problem I had was claiming the good magnets before my sister got to them.
Other times, she and I would sit at the dining room table and draw pictures for our dad. You see, my dad was and still is a health guru. He has a workout room in my parents’ basement and still uses it to this day. The room once housed the bedroom of the teenage girl of the family that built our house before my parents bought it. So my dad decided rather than painting over the strip of flowered wallpaper that went around the room, that he’d hang his kids’ artwork on the walls instead. So, part of our family’s tradition was coloring pictures for dad’s workout room and pieces that had already shined on the main stage of the fridge got a second life downstairs on the walls too.
As we colored each drawing for my dad, I’d take big pride in going downstairs when he was in there working out and knocking on the room of the door while he blasted country music and lifted weights. He’d slowly open the door and I’d hand him my newest creation. He was always grateful and complimentary of whatever we drew and not all of us were artists (me in particular). I’d take tremendous pride as he pulled out two thumbtacks from atop his stereo system and asked me where we should hang it. Once it was up, we’d stand back and look at it. I’d look around the room at the drawings we’d given him over the years – my sister’s “School Safety” winning drawing of a girl crossing the street with her dog, a ripped out page from a dinosaur coloring book my brother colored during his “Jurassic Park” phase, and the traditional shadow silhouette of my profile I’d drawn in the 1st grade.
They were all there. Proudly on display. Mementos from his three children.
Most of the artwork would stay up for years. Long after I stopped doing drawings for the wall, I’d use the workout room for its intended purpose and I’d look around the room and be reminded of days gone by. Times when the world was simpler, easier and when the highlight of my day was knocking on the door of the room I now stood in as an adult. A young girl, excited by the thought of giving her dad something she’d made him for his favorite space.
When I became a mom I decided this was something I’d carry on with my own kids. I don’t have a workout room (the exercise gene skipped me), but the kitchen is the heart of our home now. So, when my son makes me a drawing or writes his name on a scrap piece of paper, it goes on the fridge. Anything he makes is special to me.
Like my dad, if I can make my child’s day by simply hanging up something he made just for me, well then consider it done! I will gladly continue this tradition, and luckily my son didn’t inherit my non-existent artistic abilities. Not that it would matter if he did, his art would still hang proudly on the fridge.

I’m Not a Bad Mom Because My House is Clean

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Latest on Her View From Home

“I can’t tell you how many articles, memes, group chats and face-to-face conversations I’ve seen and/or had with other moms who seem to have some kind of unofficial club of moms who don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to clean their homes and if you are not in it then you are not cool.
Well, I’m one of those unicorns that actually cleans her house every day, manages to fold my laundry by the time my head hits my pillow most nights and makes my kids pick up their own toys when they are done playing with them.
I don’t say these things to brag or compare my home’s level of organization and cleanliness to yours. I’m saying this because I’m sick of people looking at moms that keep their homes clean and orderly like we have it all together and think we are better than those of you that don’t.”

Read the rest here

We’re Mothers Not Machines

Another new one up at Her View From Home

“Sometimes I feel like the mom version of the Terminator. Unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic character, when I look at my outside world I don’t see the stats of my enemies, I just see stuff that needs to be done:
Visual: one-year-old baby
Running on 95% energy
Caution: diaper full of poop
Visual: basket full of dirty laundry
Running at 99% capacity
Caution: may smell like old gym socks
My mind never stops. The list of things that need to get done, places my children need to be, and appointments yet to be made never does either after all. I’m in a constant state of GO—if I stop to have a quick bite to eat while the baby is down for his nap that’s about it. I think I feel this way because in some ways our modern society has made me and maybe you feel this way, too?”

Read the rest here

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Lessons From Nap Time

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I watched you today, sweet boy.
You were fighting your nap on the baby monitor. You were rolling around and rocking back and forth on your hands and knees to practice getting ready to crawl any day now. Your blanket was crumpled up in the corner of your bed. Your stuffed lamb was out of sight, probably on the bedroom floor after you had chucked him out of the crib. You’ve definitely got a future baseball pitcher’s arm.
As I watched you, I was laying on my bed down the hall. Your daddy and I were both tired from the night before so we thought we’d catch a nap at the same time as you and your brother. You big brother was already asleep in his room. But, you had other plans.
You started to cry then.
I looked over at your daddy, who was already drifting off to sleep. As daddy tends to know, he knew I was watching him, looking for an answer to an unasked question. He opened his big brown eyes and said, “Just go get him and bring him in here.”
Bring him in here?
I found the idea peculiar because in our four years of parenting thus far, we had yet to sleep with a child in our bed. Your brother was/is a good sleeper. You didn’t follow in his footsteps in that respect.
As always, your daddy knew just what to say. So, I stumbled down the hall to get you. When I opened the door you smiled your big toothless smile and sat up in your crib. I love how every time I pull you out of it, you make me feel like a prince retrieving the princess from the witch’s tower. Cribs aren’t really that bad are they?
I brought you into our room and handed you to your daddy who greeted you with open arms. I plopped down on my side of the bed as he set you in between us. You looked around the room as if to study it for the first time. You’d been in here plenty of times while helping me fold laundry or resting on the bed with me and our cat after I’d taken you out of the bath tub and dried you off. However, this was different.
I could see it on your beautiful little face. Mom and dad here at the same time. What in the world was going on?
Oh but you didn’t stay put for very long! The novelty of looking back and forth between me and your dad got old real quick, and you were rolling around in the nest we’d created for you with our two bodies resting on each side of the bed while facing you.
You’d touch your dad’s beard and when that got boring you’d roll back to me and try to pull at the design on my t-shirt. All over and in every direction you went. Countless times we had to keep you from getting too close to the edge of the bed. Our little wiggle worm.
Finally, we both tried tucking you into us with your back against our chests to try and get you to sleep. This did not work.
You started to fuss. So, I grabbed your bottle off of my dresser and held it for you. With my other hand, I caressed your hairline where it meets your face. You looked into my eyes as I did this, brown eyes meeting blue. We repeated this process until ever so slowly I saw your eyes starting to get heavy. Your dad looked at me and gently closed his own eyes.
You were both soon sleeping.
Not me though. I watched you as your breathing started to get heavy. I held my breath as you spit out the bottle and rolled towards your dad. He opened his eyes briefly to rest his hand across your midsection. You were still asleep.
You both slept. As your dad started to gently snore I shifted my gaze towards you because if you had any part of me in your DNA, this would wake you as it often does me at night. I love your daddy, but he snores – a lot. You did wake slightly. So, I was there to run my finger through your hair again, and out you went again.
The two of you slept for an hour. I rested on the bed, being as still as humanly possible as not to wake either of you. I should have slept. I was tired from the night before after all. But, I opted to watch you instead, my sweet, second born son – with perfect skin and eyelashes for days. You had frogged your legs and one of your little chubby hands was laced through the afghan blanket we had carted with us from your room. The other rested comfortably on our king sized bed.
Your daddy was fast asleep by now as well. You were both facing me so I found it almost impossible not to look back and forth at you both. The similarities in your features still amazes, as you are his little twin. I could almost see into the future as to what you may look like someday. I wonder if your hair will turn from the strawberry blonde color it is now to your daddy’s dark brown? Will you grow a beard like him? Will your hands be calloused and worn like the ones in which he now rests his head on? Will they bear the scars and reminders of a working man’s hands? I’m sure no matter what you do someday you will resemble your daddy in some way.
As the hour passed and I braved sitting up to look at the alarm next to the bed, I knew you’d both soon wake. Your daddy opened his eyes first. He and I smiled at each other and mouthed words in silence. I whispered for him not to move as not to wake you and he quietly asked me the time. We stared at you, our sleeping angel, and smiled back at one another. This was all new to us, a precious moment in time. Your brother could never hold still long enough to fall asleep in bed with us.
You started to stir, and as your eyes popped open I was the first thing you saw. I told you that it was ok, knowing you were wondering where you were. Then, your signature gummy smile sprawled out across your beautiful face and you tried to sit up. You looked back at your dad, and he kissed your cheek. You were yet again surprised by the fact that you were in bed with the two of us – mom and dad there just for you.
Before long, we were back downstairs getting ready for dinner. Your big brother had woken up shortly after and when I went to get him out of his room I gave him a big hug, knowing that soon you would be his size. He was no longer a baby of course, but just lying there on our bed with you for that hour of nap time, reminded me at just how fleeting time really is in the childhoods of my children. It’ll be over before I know it. But, that afternoon nap was so special to us all. I hope we can do it again sometime, my sweet boy.

* Originally written in fall 2017

5 Mom Phrases I LOVE Using That Drive My Kids Crazy

Here is my first original piece on Perfection Pending by Meredith Ethington…

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“Do you remember when you were a child and you would do something or say something to your mom and she’d give you a one sentence reply that either really irritated you or wasn’t the response you were looking for? Mom phrases if you will.
Most of them were old adages passed down from her grandma, to your grandma, to your mom. Sayings that over time slipped off of the tongues of moms everywhere, even if they made no sense they somehow became logical with each passing generation. To the displeasure of kids everywhere these responses would stay in our memories and spoken to our own children now that we are the adults in the situation.”

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My Husband and I Considered Divorce; This is What Kept Us Together

My latest piece on Her View From Home:

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“My husband and I have been together 14 years and married for eight. To some that may not seem like a very long time, but to us, it’s a very long time. Like so many other marriages, we’ve been through a lot as a couple. We’ve struggled. We’ve fallen down. We’ve both thought about throwing in the towel many times. Yet, here we are, still married.
The past few years have probably been the hardest on us overall. We suffered two miscarriages in 2015, got hit hard with an autism diagnosis for our older son, struggled financially from the aftermath of us both going back to college as adults, sold a house we spent all of our hard-earned savings on at a loss to get into our dream home, all while welcoming another baby and both secretly battling crippling depression and anxiety. All of the things that we’ve been dealing with over the past few years came to a head in 2017.”

Read the rest here

I’m Not a Hobo, I’m Just a Stay-At-Home Mom

 

I was once at a playdate with a fellow stay-at-home mom friend and she said, “I make myself shower, get dressed and put on makeup every day just to feel like a human again.” She went on to tell me it was the one way she felt like her old self, the before kids woman she used to be before her life was consumed by breastfeeding and trips back and forth to preschool every day.
She’s a better woman than me.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom five years ago, I used to be the same way. I’d plan my shower and beauty routine around my son’s morning nap. When he woke up, we’d hop in the car and head to town to run some errand or go visit this relative or that friend, just to get out of the house and be a part of society.
Until one day, something changed.
I can’t really say there was an event that changed my desire to make myself “presentable” to the world outside the walls of my home. But, gradually I stopped putting on so much makeup for our outings and I started wearing sweatpants more than jeans.
By the time I had my second baby, I became a minimalist in the getting ready department. I basically took a shower and did all of the other basics to maintain my overall hygiene (brush teeth, pluck eyebrows, etc.) but that was about it. No makeup, no fancy hairdo, and certainly no flashy clothing. When I get out of the shower, I put clean pajamas on. Yes, pajamas. Or yoga pants with one of my husband’s oversized t-shirts. In the winter, I toss on one of my 20 black ski hats (I love hats) and I’m done for the day.
Most days I resemble a hobo or vagrant (a decent smelling one) more than the fashionable gal I once was.
I get my son off the bus like this. I go to the grocery store like this. I go to my son’s school like this. I go to doctor’s appointments like this. You know why? I don’t care enough to get “all dolled up” anymore. Who’s got the time? I mean really?
Do you think my sons’ teachers (who are also moms) give a crap if I have mascara on? Or do you think my dentist minds if I have a full face of foundation on while she’s drilling at a cavity in the depths of my mouth? No, she probably would prefer not to have remnants of my makeup caked onto her medical gloves and white coat from leaning over my face. And guess what? The teenage kid at the grocery store check out has probably seen 50 other moms already this morning, and he probably didn’t notice which mom had her hair blown out as the salon and who barely had time to run a comb through hers.
You know who else doesn’t care if I am wearing my Reba McEntire concert tee, purple leggings and red beanie when he gets home? My husband. He doesn’t care. He loves me regardless of my sense of fashion. I believe the words “I can’t even tell the difference between when you have makeup on and don’t,” have even come out of his mouth once or twice. Reason 6,876 why I love the guy.
My kids don’t care what I look like either. All they care about is if I fulfill their order for more juice and agree to read them another book before bed time. To them, I’m mom—regardless of if I’m dressed up with full makeup for a night on the town with my guy or still in my pajamas at 11 a.m. I’m still mom to them.
There will come a day when I’ll return to the workforce and I’ll have to wear pleated skirts, nice blouses and yes, even makeup. I’ll look on point everyday all day and I will probably care more about those things then. But for now, I don’t mind rocking my sweatpants and being a minimalist in all things glamor. But for now, these are the days I get to be present with my babies in my most sacred space—my home. The days I get to dress how I feel: safe, comfortable and practical. And also in Target, where I also feel at home.

Originally published on Her View From Home

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