The Merit Badges of Parenthood

A few weeks ago, I had a series of days where I thought seriously about hanging up my motherhood apron and walking out. It started with one kid coming down with the flu while my husband was out of town, quickly followed by the other.  Which meant that I was quarantined at home for four solid days.

My son took the long and drawn-out route, holding on to that 102 fever like a souvenir for days on end, but other than the fever he felt pretty good and played around the house as if nothing was wrong.

My daughter, on the other hand, fell fast and hard, unable to keep anything down for hours and lay, coma-like, on the couch for 12 hours straight, but woke up the next morning without even a hint of a temperature.

I’m not sure what’s worse when it comes to sick kids: when fevers keep them from going to school or out in public, but they still feel well enough to get on each others nerves, or when they’re so sick they don’t want you to leave their side for a millisecond.

At around Day 4, I thought I might be slowly going insane, and realized I wasn’t cut out for this crap. I could never be a nurse, clearly visible in the way I bathed myself in hand sanitizer, buried my nose and mouth in my shirt when I got close to the kids, and got angry at the thermometer.

Thankfully, we got through the muck and lived to tell about it. But right in trenches of it all, I realized that these moments are the grit and grime of parenthood. It was a week that would help shape what kind of mother I would be – the kind that would stay strong, show patience and compassion, put my head down and get through it, instead of trying to avoid everyone by holing up in my room with a case of Girl Scout cookies.

Dammit if I didn’t earn that badge of parenthood.

The Merit Badges of Parenthood

Don’t we all? I don’t know a single parent that hasn’t experienced weeks like this. Like a rite of passage, there are universal experiences we all have as parents, and I often feel like we could earn badges of honor for them. When I’m surrounded by a room full of parents, I envision us all like little Cub and Girl Scouts, dawning invisible polyester vests sprinkled with little merit badges of parenthood.

The Potty Training Badge

The Week-Long Flu Badge

The Sleep Training Badge

The Sight Words Badge

The ER Visit Badge

The Road Trip Badge

The Too Many Days at Disney Badge

The My Kid Won’t Keep His Diaper On At Naptime Badge

The I Screwed Up As Tooth Fairy Badge

The Over Committed Room Parent Badge

The I Need To Be In Two Places At Once Badge

The Sitting Through Hours of Recitals/Double Headers/Meets/Tournaments Badge

The Our Kids Only Eat Yellow Foods and Might Have Scurvy Badge

While phases like this seem to take forever to resolve, we parents muster through them and live to face the next one. Except, as parents, we don’t need to show off these accomplishments. Our merit badges lie in the (hopefully) rested, healthy smiles of our children’s faces, the hugs that reassure we have the magic touch to make things better, or the joy of watching our children accomplish something on their own.

Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

 

Which one of these merit badges have you earned?

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 A Mother’s Bucket List

As I wind down the month of January and come to terms with how half-assed I committed to my “resolutions” for the year already, I’ve been thinking about setting more realistic goals for myself in the future.

You know, setting the bar a little lower.

Like, perhaps instead of resolving to lose enough pounds to wear tight yoga pants with pride, I opt for stopping myself at just half a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies in one sitting.

Because I can totally commit to that.

All of this got my little brain’s wheels in motion, and then I had, to sound like Oprah for a second, an “a-ha!” moment.

You know those Bucket Lists that people make? Where you put pen to paper and list all of the things you want to do or see before you kick the bucket?

What if, instead of some unobtainable, crazy list – or even a moderately achievable list – I made a bucket list of reasonable things I want to experience as a mother before I die?

So, I did it. I sat down and quickly jotted off my realistic bucket list. Sure, it’s simple. But also something I can see myself actually achieving. And I DO like crossing things off lists.

Now, before I reveal my list, let me make something perfectly clear. This list is about ME. It is not a “Things I’d love to teach/show/experience with my children.” That’s another list entirely, and one that makes my chest tighten with anxiety at the mere thought of not having enough time with them.

This list? It’s entirely fluffy, entirely mine, and I’m entirely okay with that.

Without further ado, here are just some of the things I’d put on my realistic bucket list, in no particular order:

Mother's Bucket List

1) Spend 24 hours in my house alone. Without cleaning a freaking thing.

2) Walk in the living room at the end of the night and not find one article of clothing on the floor.

3) Scroll through my DVR and not be able to identify every episode of Phineas & Ferb.

4) Get to school in enough time that we don’t count the sprint from the car as our exercise for the day.

5) Wake up on a Sunday and panic that I’d slept too late.

6) Permanently erase the theme song to Thomas the Tank Engine from my memory.

7) Adjust my internal clock to be able to make it past 6pm to eat dinner.

8) Downgrade my purse from giant cavern-sized to demure.

9) Shave a good two minutes off the time it takes for me to decide what I’m making for dinner.

10) Find that missing Magic Tree House book the library keeps threatening me about.

11) Drink an entire cup of coffee while it is still hot.

12) Go an entire week wearing actual clothes, and not the ancient work-out gear that makes me look like a hobo.

13) Hit the jackpot with the laundry and for once, match up Every. Single. Sock.

14) Receive an evite to volunteer at my kids’ school and Just Say No.

15) Find a way to keep my kids wanting to hug and kiss me for at least another 15 years.

And that’s just the surface, folks. What would you put on your realistic bucket list?

 

 

First Day On The Job Jitters

It’s happening.

Tomorrow I start a new job. I’ll be a part-time visiting professor at a local college, teaching dance classes. It’s an amazing opportunity, one I’m so very grateful for – the campus is gorgeous, the kids are bright, I get to MOVE regularly and hopefully motivate and inspire the future dancers of tomorrow.

I should be super excited to start this new job tomorrow. And in many ways I AM. Beyond excited.

But I’m also terrified.

First Day On The Job Jitters

I feel this way pretty much every time I start a new job somewhere, and you’d think that as I get older, it would get easier. But it doesn’t.

Even after I’ve passed the interview process, turned in all of my forms to Human Resources, and lined up my start date, I still can’t get over the same insecurities I experience every single time I’m about to walk in to the door the first day on the job.

Thoughts like “in a few short minutes after I start, everyone here will find out I’m a fraud.” That somehow, despite being vetted by supervisors and managers, I’m not qualified to do the job I was hired to do and will let everyone down. That I’ve pulled the wool over their eyes (and mine) and convinced everyone I had the knowledge and experience to pull all of this off.

Do I really think this is true? No. I mean, I must be qualified if they hired me. And it’s not like I walked off the street with zero experience. But years of being at home with the kids and using my brain for things like keeping track of baseball practice and whether my kids have had a bowel movement have made me feel extremely rusty in my area of expertise.

Then there is the “I don’t speak the language” worry. Do you know that feeling? When you step in to an environment that has its own vernacular and buzz words that, when heard, make you wonder if you’ve walked in to a foreign country? I know that somewhere, deep inside, I understand the jargon and within days I will find myself interjecting those fancy schmancy words into ordinary conversation. But in the meantime, all of this makes me feel even more like a poser.

And then there’s all the logistical stuff that keeps me up at night before I start a new job. Crap like “do I know where I’m going?” and “man, I hope this map app is right in calculating how long it will take to get there” and “will my outfit strike the right mood of cool and open and authoritative.”

So, to minimize all the jitters, I spent the better part of the past week planning my class for tomorrow and the next few weeks. I would even venture to say I’ve over-planned, which sometimes isn’t a good thing. I can’t help it. I mean, it takes me two whole days to pack for a trip – packing once, reassessing, then packing again.

So now, as I sit here on the eve of my new job, the most important preparation I have to do is mental. I need to trust in the material, and spend some quality time telling my ego to shut the hell up. I need to tell that little slimy bastard to stop feeding me lies about how I don’t know anything and don’t deserve this opportunity. Hey ego, take a freakin’ sabbatical would you?

Will my first day be perfect? Who knows. Maybe, maybe not. I can probably expect some bumps, some awkward moments, and that things might not go as perfect as I’d like, but I also hope to experience some moments of mastery as well. I figure, as long as I show up with pants on, things can’t be all that bad, right?

Do you have any first day advice for me? How do you handle going in to your first day on the job?

Irresistible Food (or, “Why I Can’t Fit In To My Pants”)

This year I actually made good on my New Year’s resolution to make better food choices.  Well, for a few days, anyway.  My zest for fruits and veggies and lean meats and willpower to refuse satisfyingly sodium-saturated carbohydrates got buried under the first snow day of the season.

It’s time to shovel them back up.  Maybe pour some salt on them a bit to help speed up the process.

Mmmm….salt.

See, that’s exactly how easy it is for me to fall back in to unhealthy eating habits.

So, after gaining all the weight I lost last year (and then some), I’m trying to get back on the Healthy Eating Train.  But even if I possessed all the self-discipline on the planet, there are certain foods that I have no willpower against.

I know I’m not alone.  Everyone has their guilty pleasures, right?  The foods they simply cannot refuse. No? Please, PLEASE tell me I’m not the only one without any discipline in the food arena.

Irresistible Food

Here are the foods that I can’t resist eating. And before you start to drool over the idea of bacon on this list, let me just say that, while I know the Bacon Movement is strong and powerful, I am not a member of this club.  Go ahead, pork shame me all you want.

 

Anything With Nutella In It

When I was pregnant with my second baby, my husband and I got away together for our anniversary weekend to a hotel downtown and went somewhere fancy schmancy for dinner. Only, the slightly soft chicken I ordered sent my gag reflexes in to overdrive and made me want to ditch the entire evening.  But then, there was Nutella cake on the menu and all was right with the world.

It’s breakfast! It’s dessert! It’s a snack!

 

Movie Popcorn

On a rare date night, my husband and I will chow down on a delicious three course meal, chased by several beers.  Stuffed to the brim, I will waddle in to the movie convinced that I don’t need any more food in my system.

But then the smell of fresh popped corn wafts through the air and I suddenly think, “yeah, I have some more room in that gut!”

I KNOW all the numbers.  That the fluffy stuff that I imagine is made of air is in fact saturated with unhealthy oil and regret.  And yet, knowing all of that, I will covertly unbutton the top of my jeans and order a medium popcorn, telling myself I’ll only eat half of the bag.  Yeah, right.

 

Pizza

You know how “they” say that adults shouldn’t eat anything at a kids party? Guilty, as charged. Pizza is the staple of the kids birthday party menu, and if there are extra slices left once everyone’s been served, you can bet I’m the first one lined up to grab a slice.

I mean, come on! Sweet, tangy sauce mixed with delicious cheese and bread is a magical recipe that plays well with dinner parties, late night binges, and hangovers. When I lived in New York, I sustained myself on bagels and pizza, two things I could get quickly and cheaply at any time, day or night.

 

Tortilla chips

I’m not sure I should brag about this, but I have been known to pack away an entire bag of tortilla chips on my own in one sitting.  All 5’1” of me.  I don’t know if it’s the crunch, the salt, or the corny goodness, but I can’t pass up a tortilla chip.

One March Madness party I attended a few years ago offered a giant bowl of chips and salsa for all the moms, dads and kids to enjoy.  I plopped myself down on the sofa in front of the bowl and grabbed a chip.  But then I noticed it was wet and soggy.  Thinking it was from the salsa, I grabbed another chip in a different location, but it was still moist.

And then, I noticed one of the kids picking up a tortilla chip, licking all the salt off of it, and then putting it back in the bowl.

It was a moment of extreme internal turmoil.  Believe it or not, I actually had to pause and ponder whether I should navigate the chip bowl or walk away.  My love for the tortilla chip is that strong, people.  Disgustingly, wrongfully powerful.

 

Hush Puppies

Perhaps it’s the southern girl in me.  I’m just a girl who can’t say “No” to fried corn dough.  The crispier the better.

Corn. I’m sensing a trend, no?

 

Okay, actually, anything deep fried

Fried pickles?  Yes.  Fried Snickers bar?  Sure, I’ll give it a try.  I have even had beignets as an appetizer for brunch, and still managed to polish off a large buttermilk biscuit, omelet and hash browns.  I really should get a Cardiologist on speed dial.

 

So, I’ve fessed up. Now it’s YOUR turn. Is there a food that you cannot, under any ounce of willpower, refuse? I’m all ears. (And not the corn kind, though, that could be a good possibility).

 

A New Year, a New Look

I’ve been a solid contact lens wearer for well over a decade. Prior to that, I just squinted my way through the world. But my then-boyfriend/now-husband suggested I get my eyes checked and consider contact lenses.

Once I got the hang of putting them in, I was hooked on being able to finally see, but without the nuisance of a frame around my head at all times.

However, something’s changed in the last six months.

One morning a few months ago, I woke up to find my left eye full of goop. And I would wake in the middle of the night and be unable to open my left it due to dryness. Of course, I started freaking out and made an immediate appointment with my optometrist to eliminate pink eye.

‘Cuz ain’t nobody got time for that.

My doctor identified dryness and allergies as the culprit and suggested, along with switching to daily contact lenses, I try drops. All the drops. Allergy drops twice a day, and saline drops when necessary. Which seemed to be all the time.

After running the gamut of daily lenses, we came to the end of the road with my astigmatism, still with an enormous amount of deposit on my lens, even after just a couple of hours of wear.

So, I’ve decided to wear glasses more, only resorting to contacts when being active or social occasions.

And I hate it. My frames are okay, but I’ve had them for about six years, and I’m not sure they’re the most fashionable or trendy.

So I’m on the hunt for a new look. I don’t want to look too nerdy, but I don’t want a frame that’s going to overtake my wee little face.

My husband had some good experience with Warby Parker’s at-home trial box, so I decided to give it a go. I mean, what’s not to like? You just sign up, choose five frames, and within days, they’re at your home where you can try them on to your heart’s content.

Completely free.

I’ve asked my husband and kids so many times to give me their opinions that they’re done. So, dear readers, I’m turning to you.

Wanna help me choose a frame?

Here are the frames I currently wear:

current glasses

And here are my Warby Parker choices this round (and let’s all ignore my ratty hair and weird smile, shall we? Selfies are weird for folks like me):

The Sims

Warby Parker Sims

The Oliver

Warby Parker Oliver

The Verne

Warby Parker Verne

The Nedwin

Warby Parker Nedwin

The Coley

Warby Parker Coley

So…what do you think? Stick with what I have? Go with a Warby Parker frame? And if so, which one?

I’d LOVE to hear your opinions!! Feel free to leave your frame choice in the comment section below. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

This is not a sponsored post. Seriously. I, in no way, have been compensated by Warby Parker. I just really can’t make a decision on my own.