Month: October 2016

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Yesterday. It was nearly 5pm, I was under the gun with a work project. My three and a half year-old, Ivy, was being unusually high-maintenance. The dogs were being insanely rowdy. Our house was (and still is) a mess. Western stand-off music played in my head as I walked from the living room to the kitchen and tumbleweeds of dog hair rolled by.  Ivy’s underpants that I washed and folded three days ago are now scattered across the rug on the floor. Endless mugs of unfinished coffee cover my kitchen island.

When my husband came home, he grabbed the dogs and took them for a walk, so I could finish my work.  I finished up and, as they were still gone, I grabbed a glass of red wine and went upstairs to do something I never, ever do: take a hot bath.  I made a glorious, sudsy oasis (using dish soap, of course, because we have no bubble bath) and was about to step in when Ivy appeared behind me, back from what felt like the quickest walk in history.

“You takin’ a bath, Mom?”

Yes.

She looks over my shoulder and observes my glass, “You havin’ wine?”

Yes.

“Ok. Did you want one of my bath toys?”

I just started laughing. As much as I want my alone time, who can be annoyed with a tiny human offering you her bath toys?

So, she stayed in the bathroom with me – and played with her bath toys from the other side of the tub –  while I just sat there, sipping my wine and washing off the day.

***

Some days are harder than others. For all of us.  But, yesterday as I sat working – still in my pajamas with unbrushed teeth at 5pm – I looked around my chaotic, messy, home and I just said to myself:

Chuck it in the f*ck it bucket.

My husband is right: You’re not expected to do it all.  But, even more importantly, sometimes you don’t even have to do half of it.

  • Laundry: It gets done (on my end) in this house when I’ve officially run out of jeans or good underwear. Chuck it.
  • Cleaning: My husband often sings out “Nothing cleans like company!” when we are expecting people over, because that’s usually the only time we thoroughly clean this home.  Chuck it.
  • Ivy doesn’t seem to be phasing out of her I am terrified of everyone except my immediate family phase. She hisses at people in the grocery store and clamps her hands over her eyes when anyone looks at her. Because I have run out of excuses, I no longer make apologizes. so I basically just look like I’m raising a total asshole  Chuck it. 
  • I’m sure there are moms out there who just read the above and think I am raising a total asshole.  Chuck it.
  • Willow, our dog, is digging holes all over our backyard and nothing seems to stop her. Chuck it. 
  • I’ve killed every plant in this house out of pure neglect because unless you are a toddler telling me you are hungry 57 times a day or a dog nudging me incessantly at meal time, I can’t be in charge of your livelihood. Chuck it.
  • I watched four bananas die a slow painful death on my counter and I didn’t even make banana bread. Chuck it. 
  • We are retraining Ivy to sleep in her bed, because she’s suddenly scared of everything. I have done an army crawl out of her bedroom more often than I care to admit. Chuck it.
  • I owe about 50 friends, family, etc. emails, return texts, messages, etc. and I don’t even know where to begin. Chuck it. 
  • At all times, I feel like I have 50 balls up in the air – and I only catch about 7. The rest land on my head. Chuck it.
  • And, lastly, it is guaranteed I will have more than one person read this post and think, “You think that’s bad, try having….”  CHUCK YOU!

Here’s the thing: as much as we are all in this thing together, we are all in this thing alone. So, decide for yourself what you want to throw in the f*ck it bucket. It’s YOUR f*ck it bucket and you can do whatever you want with it! That’s the beauty.

You may care about a clean house more than I do (for the record, I think everyone on earth cares more about a clean house than I do). But I’m of the mind that as long as you are not living in filth that qualifies for a social services well-being check, you’re a winner in my book!

We all have things that appear higher on the list of priorities than others. And everyone gets to decide what tops their list.  A word to the wise: keep your eyes on your own list.  What matters to others may not matter at all to you – so don’t let other people’s priorities trick you into thinking they should be yours as well.

And maybe consider chucking all of those “How to…” articles in your bucket as well.  Then start a running dialog in your head that begins with “How I…”

xo

Jen

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Please tell me you know what that quote is from. Otherwise, leave now.

Just kidding.

Go look it up and come back… We’ll wait.

Got it?

Great! Let’s move on.

I haven’t had the urge to write for awhile. At all.  This should probably always be taken as a good sign, as I’ve said before that I tend to write when I’m down or going through something.  But things have been going well – and busy – and every time I go to write lately, I fizzle out.  Or a squirrel runs by…

Also, honestly, sometimes I go through these phases where I feel cornered in my writing. I have tried very hard to stay true to my own path in what I choose to write about and, as I’ve also said before many times, I mostly write as a one-off purge. I write what I’m thinking or feeling at that moment, get it out there – and move on.  The minute I start to be “expected” to write about certain topics (step-parenting, in particular), I feel trapped and want to do the exact OPPOSITE.  I’ve been thinking a lot about why that is – and, after some serious soul-searching, I think I’ve figured it out:

I am not just a step-mom.

I don’t know why that matters to me so much to say (or type) out loud.  I don’t think anyone is even accusing me of being “just” a stepmom.  But sometimes I feel pushed into a corner, as if it’s some kind of niche I’ve hit upon, and there is so much more to me – and to all of us step-parents!

So, let me just have a general mom moment here.  Because I don’t go to the grocery store with Hannah and Ivy and think, “This is my daughter and step-daughter.”  In fact, I don’t think of it much at all, most days.  They are just “ours” – all of us co-parents’.

And there ain’t one “step” – and certainly no “half” – about it!

***

We’ve had a busy, busy few weeks – and I’m exhausted.  Brian and I just returned from a much-needed and much-appreciated (thank you, Mom and Tante Janet for watching our little red dragon!) getaway to New York.  We have been there many times together and so we’ve been to pretty much all of the “must do” tourist attractions.  So, when we go now, we both like to explore neighborhoods and go off the beaten path – and we had a great time!

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Brian doing what he does!

 

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Day-Date in Central Park

 

*I do want to note that we did tour the 9/11 Memorial, which I honestly cannot recommend enough.  There is no way to put the experience into words, so you will have to see it for yourselves.  It is so incredibly well-done – but know that you will be emotionally drained by the time you are through it.  Brian and I both were in awe, but also said we never wanted to have to go back – though we will, because there is no way we won’t take Ivy and Hannah. It is so incredibly important.

Since we returned from New York, the panic of not getting Ivy to a pumpkin patch before Halloween set in (so ridiculous, I know) and we headed to Eckert’s Millstadt Family Fun Farm.  Ivy had a blast picking her own pumpkin from the patch (she wanted a green one) and petting all of the animals. We also did the corn maze. (I can neither confirm nor deny if we cheated.)

Check Obligatory Pumpkin Patch visit off the list.

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She was very specific about finding a small, green pumpkin.
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Waiting for the pig races.

 

When looking at these pumpkin farm photos and others, I feel as if people often wonder where Hannah is in most of my Instagram or Facebook photos, and I’ve finally given myself a pass on worrying about it.  The simple truth is that Hannah is a teenager and also a very busy kid – and when she’s not at dance, or poms (she recently made Captain – woo hoo!), she has a more active social life than Britney Spears in 2001.  (Not that she’s doing anything Britney Spears may or may not have been doing in 2001!)  So, to wrangle her for candid photos – much less the mini-sessions I have with Ivy – is pretty much impossible.

It’s very rare that I get Hannah to myself these days – it’s very rare that any of us do! We’re all treasuring our time with our social bug when we can get it.  But sometimes I think back to when she was just 5 or 6 and Brian used to work every Sunday, so I’d have her to myself.  Those were such treasured, fun times.  We had little traditions every Sunday: swimming, shopping and having lunch.  I’d hear all about her friends and ideas, etc.  She’d tell me animated stories and I’d think how fast she was growing up – even back then.

We don’t get much one-on-one time these days. When she is with us, Ivy – of course – wants to be with her sister and vice-versa. I’ve actually learned to savor the small moments Hannah and I get.  When Brian is traveling for work, I pick her up from dance – and in those car rides and the nights she stays over while Brian is away, we pack in a lot of conversations and catching up.

Today was a day to savor.  Brian wanted to get yard work done – and I took the girls for a fun day at Chuck E Cheese’s.  I had forgotten how fun this place is!  Of course, Ivy dove right in.  And the sweetest part of the day was watching Hannah show Ivy all of her favorite games and rides from when she was younger.  And – can I just get an Amen! that you no longer have to deal with all those tokens?!  They now have Play Passes that scan at each game/ride.  (But don’t worry, those glorious, coveted tickets still spit out when you win!)

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She quickly caught on to the appeal of the “tickets”.
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I cannot adequately express the amount of danger Ivy poses while playing skee ball.
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Sisters.

 

We ate lunch, played for hours and came home exhausted.  It was a great day alone with the girls that I will savor – the joy of watching them together always makes my heart burst a little more.  There is such a love between them, a deep and true love. This is why I do wince a bit every time I over-hear someone use the term “half-siblings” – because I honestly can’t imagine any two sisters more whole.

xo,

Jen

 

:: Our day at Chuck E. Cheese’s was sponsored. The fun and quality time we had was priceless! ::