Balancing Marriage & Parenthood

I think the title of this post alone says a lot.  Marriage and parenthood are far from easy, especially when you are doing both at the same time.  This is a fact of life for many so really it’s likely not an uncommon topic.  What is the perfect balance?  Who comes first, your partner or your children?  For the last 4 years, after becoming a parent, I truly thought the answer was obvious… your children come first, always.  After a few events in the last few weeks I realized this isn’t necessarily true.  Let me share why.

A couple weekends ago I was in attendance at a wedding in which I was lucky enough to be apart of the bridal party and stand next to an extremely dear friend of mine.  While we spent the morning and early afternoon getting ready and doing all the things you do to prepare for someones special day the bride sat down to put the final touches on her vows to her groom we all began talking.  I wasn’t fully tuned into the conversation until I heard someone say “You have to put your spouse first, even before your children, as hard as that is.”  My head might have done a 180 degree turn before my body could catch up to it.  This sentence had my attention and made me think quicker than I had possibly ever thought before.  Do I do this?  No.  Does Justin deserve that?  Absolutely.  Can I do this?  I can and sure am going to try.  Being a mom has understatedly consumed me, both in good ways and sometimes in bad.  There are times when I have neglected myself and also Justin, my husband, in turn neglecting our marriage.  I was under the influence that once you had kids nothing else mattered, which to me is still partially true but for reasons I can’t explain.

So, why your spouse before your children if you are like me and assumed it should be the opposite.  Continuing the discussion myself and the other members of the bridal party had consisted of the fact that without yourself and your spouse there wouldn’t be that family.  No matter what you are still a family with your children but without your spouse you are a different kind of family and one team member short.  That was all I needed to hear to change my perspective on marriage and parenthood.

Justin and I recently, as in the last few days, celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary.  This was the first year in our married life that we were able to really get back to the foundation and why of our marriage.  Before that babies were due or born very closely to our wedding anniversary, someone was sick {last year I literally got vomited on by our then 1 year old.  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!}, or something else was going on and we were just too distracted to celebrate what brought our family together.  This year though, 5 years, we both knew we had to do something for ourselves.  So, we booked a trip up the North Shore of Minnesota, one of our favorite places and somewhere we called home for a time.  We just got home yesterday and it was a completely rejuvenating trip for us both as parents and as a married couple.  Our time away almost felt surreal.  I have not been so relaxed and care free for quite awhile.  Don’t get me wrong I missed the absolute heck out of my girls BUT getting to put our parenting duties aside for 3 full days and 4 nights gave us the opportunity to focus on each other and we needed that.  As I said before, there have been far too many times I have put Justin and our marriage on the back burner because I just felt that I had nothing else to give after making our girls my 3I8A9083number one priority.  It’s a really difficult thing to explain because there is no 1st or 2nd place here for who is more important.  I could never rate them that way so don’t ask me to.  It’s truly a matter of working your tail of to balance out what everyone needs and wearing all the hats to do all the things.  It’s hard and I imagine I will still fail at it every now and then.  There is really no easy way to manage it all and feel like you are doing it “right” because there is no right or wrong way if you are doing your best.  I think in this day and age being present in every day life is one thing so many people, myself included, struggle with.  My goals from here on out are to be more present in my marriage so that I myself, and together with Justin, can be the best parents together.

 

***On a more personal note I want to add that this is not me dismissing or down talking those who are single parents.  I whole heartedly idolize you and the sacrifices you make for your kids regardless of the reasons that made you a single parent.  You are simply amazing!

 

I’m not a regular mom, I’m a sweaty mom.

I’m gonna be really honest to kick off this post.  I spend a lot of my days more sweaty than not.  You might be wondering…”Ok, and why exactly is this relevant to me…. at all?” It all boils down to one thing: CHILDREN.  So, maybe it is relevant or maybe it isn’t, maybe you wish it wasn’t.  Ever heard the phrase “A new mom is a sweaty mom”?  Now you have.  Since becoming a mom it’s been a sweat fest for me.  A non-stop sweat fest.  Anyways, my main point in this post is not to share with you my rockstars sweating abilities, its not, I promise.  It’s the fact that so many of the things my kids have me doing on a day to day basis makes me sweat, physically and mentally.  So, maybe it is about sweating??? I’m not sure now.  It wasn’t how I actually pictured this post playing out but here we are anyways…

Don’t sweat the small stuff, right?  Sure, I can do that. Like, I can do it.  I will sweat the small stuff all day long.  For so many shopping trips now I have tried to have an I just don’t give a damn attitude when it comes to what my kids are or aren’t doing.  Judge and stare me down if you must because you probably are going to either way.  But I do care.  Because when my child is throwing a epic tantrum in Aisle 3 because we aren’t in Aisle 15 {I have zero idea what any of these aisles actually contain in any particular store} I might look cool as a cucumber but you can bet I have a bead of sweat starting its way down my back.  Just the other day I took the kids to Old Navy.  I wanted to look at ONE thing.  One.Thing.  Immediately upon entering the store, I’m talking we’ve been in here for maybe 30 seconds, both of my girls are up on a display shelf.  An employee began asking if I needed any help to which I responded by yelling at my kids to get off of there.  He walked away.  Also, lets speak hypothetically for one moment that one of my kids might have ripped an arm off a pair of sunglasses while the other took her shoes off and scaled her way up a ladder.  I not so quickly found the one thing I was looking for, because you know I’m hypothetically hiding broken sunglasses and keeping another child from achieving permanent brain damage.  We finally made it to the checkout register which was a process all in itself.  WHY WHY WHY must they keep so many things by the registers???????  Naturally my kids are touching all the things on all the shelves and putting them back exactly where they do not belong.  You know how I said I sweat easily right?  So back to that….my hair immediately goes up into a pony tail {I swear a rubber band evaporated out of thin air just for me}, the very thin sweater I’m wearing can be tolerated no more and it’s quickly shoved into my purse while I wrangle my two darling daughters off of every thing imaginable in that checkout area.  I had to have looked like an agitated wild beast at this point.  With two less than pleased kids…of course.  This is seriously the scene at almost every store we walk into.  I could write an entire book about running errands with these hooligans.  “Stop touching that.”  “Get back over here.”  “If you don’t listen one more time….you know what I don’t even know what’s going to happen if you don’t listen one more time.  Lets not find out shall we?” 30-best-funny-parenting-quotes-my-quiet-spot-images-on-pinterest-funny-advice-for-new-moms

Ok, so there we have covered one recent and prime example of the way my kids physically make me sweat.  My mental sweat game is on point.  It’s amazing how two relatively small people can make you feel 100% crazy.  If you don’t have kids yet imagine this:  You just spent a good 20 minutes making breakfast, a nice not necessarily regular breakfast because you had extra time today and wanted something for yourself, more than say a bowl of cereal.  Anyways, this nice breakfast is served.  Everyone begins eating peacefully and you think “wow this is going to be an excellent day!”  WRONG.  The 2 year old immediately takes that plate and its on the floor.  Not the plate by the way, just the food. Oh, and she would like “more.”  The 4 year old is crying and has been for a minute now because you gave her the wrong color fork and even giving her the right color fork at this point can’t fix that travesty.  Thankfully the dog can eat the food off the floor but you still have to clean it.  Also, let me just throw this out there.  Crayons.  Crayons EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING.  For the 25th time today you have to color On.The.Paper.  Let’s all just be grateful crayons aren’t sticky or wet.

So now that you’ve read two full paragraphs of me complaining about my kids you are probably thinking….”wow, this lady needs to get a grip and love her kids a little, they are just kids after all.”  Totally.  When I’m not sweating in aisle 6 of Target or cleaning up the 88th mess of the day I’m 100% loving on my kids.  Even with the sweat and the messes I love those kids so deeply because I wouldn’t be a sweaty mess without them right?!  I’m not sure what the take away is from this.  Maybe that if you are as good at sweating as me (and, oh,  I bet you are or can be) you’ll do just fine as a parent too even when it feels like you have “The ‘not’ hot mess express” written acrosss your forehead in public.  Parenting is a lot of things, and apparently for me its sweaty and its a lot of love!

Run, Forrest, Run!

I am not a runner.  Never have been and probably never will have a really serious passion for it.  You certainly won’t find me running any big races.  I don’t like the repetitiveness of the motion and despise the shin splints and other ailments that result from it.  After all that though I have found myself wanting to get out and move lately.  It’s really interesting how if you actually take the time to listen to your body and what it is craving it just makes sense.  This has actually been running through my mind {pun absolutely intended} for well over a month now but I really had a hard time believing I was going to enjoy it for a single second.  Jokes on me, its been nice.

So, here I am a week into my running experiment.  I’m referring to it as an experiment because I truly have no idea long this is going to last for the reasons referenced above.  I downloaded an app ‘Couch Potato to 5K’ and the pace is working for me.  Day 1 I was silently swearing at myself that this was the stupidest idea ever as I hauled my two kids and our giant double stroller down the road, couldn’t leave the dog at home to just sit either,  so here we go.  I quickly realized 1. I was out of shape {like really out of shape}   2. Holy crap this stroller and my two children weigh a lot and 3. dammit Ruby just run in a straight line.  Anyways, I lived.  Maybe running a 5K or 10K race is on the agenda but certainly not in the immediate future and for me that would actually be a pretty big personal accomplishment.  Goals.

I’ve been on a self-care binge lately.  If you have read my other posts, especially “Love Yourself to Better Love Others” you’ll have a little insight as to why.  Running for me right now is exactly that.  I’m not doing this for anyone else, it’s just for me and plain and simple because I felt like it.  Would I like to be healthier?  ABSOLUTELY.  Would I like to shed a few pounds?  YES.  However, I’m not going to put that pressure on myself even though I recognize our overall health, both physical and mental, as very important.  I’ve tried numerous programs and they all leave me stressed out and feeling like I failed before my feet even hit the floor in the morning.  So, my current regimen is listening to my body say “hey, a run sounds nice right now!” and off we go.  Running is step one for me.  Eating healthier is always on the agenda so my focus for that is going to be starting with making the best choices possible, not going back for seconds, and eating slower.  That’s just where I’m at right now.  As I have said before, you just have to do what works for you as an individual and stop worrying about conforming or pleasing others.  There is a time and a place for worrying about others needs but sometimes you really just gotta do you!

If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.

Hi. My name is Mom.

Insomnia you old friend, you.  One of my favorite things is to sit and enjoy the silence of my home after everyone else has gone to bed.  You can usually find me binge watching a TV show, and right now it’s a hot 90’s hit called ER.  So, after I checked that off my mental to do list tonight I laid down in bed at a really reasonable time hoping to count my sheep and drift off.  Here I sit 20ish minutes later typing to whoever’s eyes happen to fall upon this and hoping to get down everything that just flew through my head in that short amount of time. {I also realized I forgot to take out my contacts, so again, here we are.}

Hi.  My name is Mom.  No.  Obviously that is not my given or legal name but you already knew this.  It’s probably what I respond best to though, especially if you whine or yell it at me.  My kids truly fill my every waking moment, even when I’m not with them I’m wondering what their doing or if they are driving their current care giver as nuts as they drive me. Usually upon picking them up or coming home I ask how it went and hear how great they were.  WHAT!  I appreciate their calm and collectiveness for you but why can’t this be the regular for me.  Self talk: “Because they are toddlers and thats how the universe works, Jessica.”  It is insanely hard being a parent.  Have I said that before?  I must have because I think it about 50 times a day.  I also tell it to close friends, especially to those who are parents themselves, on the regular…  “Isn’t parenting so fun?!”  and “Aren’t you just ready to have kids RIGHT NOW?” to those who don’t and witness one of my girls throw a tantrum straight from hell in front of them.

The memory just from today that made me want to sit down and write this is my 3 year old flipping backwards off a swing and my 1 year old laughing at her while she screamed.  I’m still laughing about it.  (She was fine, just terrified.)  They make you scared and happy all at the same time.  Parenthood in one word to me is ’emotional.’ I don’t mean that in a bad way either.  Emotions are a good thing, a great thing really and if you like going from happy, to mad, maybe to sad, and back to happy again… parenting is for you my friend!

Becoming a mom has made me grow in so many ways and not just as a parent.  It changes everything.  Why does it change us?  It’s not just about you taking care of you anymore, it can (and I think should)  give you some serious hopes and dreams.  I was never really a dreamer before.  I kind of lived in the now.  As in I want this now so I’m getting it now or lets go there now and we probably did.  I still desire to live in the now but for reasons of being present.  I also have goals for myself, my family, and the role I play.  Of course one of those goals for our kids revolve around them always feeling secure and loved along with setting them up for success in all aspects of life.  Sometimes I really feel like I’m screwing it up because lets remember… Parenting.Is.Hard.  It’s 100% true when you hear ‘the days are long but the years are short.’  I have no idea how almost 4 years ago we were given the gift of our first daughter.

So, if you find yourself in the trenches of parenthood *high five* Choose your battles wisely.  Love your kids the best you know how.  Thank your spouse, significant other, or support system immensely.  Always be kind to yourself!

 

Motherhood-Quote-2

 

 

Children’s pajamas make no sense (to me).

Yes.  You for sure read that title correctly.  This is me complaining about children’s pajamas….

With the warmer weather finally here my kiddos needed some new gear, in the form of sleepwear.  Going to Carter’s seemed like a semi no brainer as I was just looking for some simple cotton short sleeved pajamas.  I go in and their selection is limited, mostly in variety of print so I started digging.  Found sizes that would work but I wasn’t satisfied.  First of all none of these pajamas felt comfortable.  They were so stiff and just not soft.  I wouldn’t wear them, why would I put them on my children.  Problem 2 was the fact that a majority of their ‘summer’ pajamas came with a pair of pants, a pair of shorts, and 1 shirt.  I kind of get it.  You have options that way depending on the temperature.  Lets be honest though, kids equal laundry.  I need more than 1 pair of pajamas for them. Lets say I was to buy 3 sets of this 2 pants and 1 shirt nonsense… That means I have 6 pants options and 3 shirts. What?  Side eyeing the sh*t out of you Carters.

After my failed shopping attempt at Carter’s (FOR PAJAMAS…just pajamas) I left semi baffled but carried on.  Next stop Target.  You wouldn’t let me down would you Target?  Of course not.  So, here I go in Target straight to the kids section and locate the pajamas.  Thankfully more of a selection (and I did find some for both of my kids) but I see what look like Halloween costumes as other pajama options. That cannot be comfortable or warm.  If you are looking for a less expensive costume idea this fall head to Target now and look at the girls pajamas.  Kids pajamas are supposed to be flame retardant right?  I’m guessing this is the stiffness and non-softness I mentioned during my Carter’s trip.  Well….I’m pretty sure some of these pajamas are extra flammable based on what they are made out of alone.   If you haven’t read by blog before I have 2 toddler aged girls so we are totally in the world of sparkles, pink things, and princesses.  However, them going to bed looking like they just got done playing dress up isn’t on my agenda, though it could very well be on theirs! I even looked at the boys pajamas, I don’t want to say in desperation but that was slightly the case, they looked and felt so much better!  I wasn’t quite ready for a spiderman/batman epidemic in our household at the moment.

Don’t misread this and think that I must be above the average and normal shopping options because I’m so not.  I like to get a good deal but I’m also not going to completely sacrifice quality especially when it comes to my kids. This particular trip I drove home thinking a lot about how much time I spent looking for pajamas this day.  “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.”

If you dress your kids in any of the pajamas I listed above I don’t judge and it doesn’t bother me for a second.  I just know what myself and my girls like and couldn’t believe the difficulty I had finding what I wanted! Complete silliness.  I actually wasn’t going to write this post thinking no one is going to read my insane complaints about pajamas but my brain keeps thinking of it so here you are!

 

 

Loving Yourself to Better Love Others

This post semi piggy backs off of my “Choosing Joy” post which I wrote many months ago but recently reposted.  Trying to remain positive and let my complaints be voiced in my own head and then forgotten about has been an immediate focus of mine lately.  I am still trying, and struggling, to let go of past experiences and memories that no longer serve me. Recently, I was asked “If you are having a bad day does it stay a bad day or can you come back from it?”  This really made me think and I realized I often let a bad day stay a bad day but I can choose to let the negativity fade away and choose to be positive.  It didn’t really seem obvious to me that I get to choose how I feel.  Some of you reading this may think “DUH!” but it really wasn’t apparent to me that I am in control of my day to day.  Sometimes the most simple questions make you think the biggest.  I often let my emotions and how I’m feeling decide life for me, which isn’t alway a bad thing, but in terms of negativity it wasn’t a good thing.   045bd73febc84fadfd48ac80ae850a42

Last week it was my birthday.  My husband gifted me one of my favorite gifts to date, a raindrop massage.  You are maybe wondering ‘what the heck is a raindrop?’  I have little knowledge on it but it is an essential oil based massage and something about it really woke me up and affected me in the best way possible. I think I need these monthly and highly recommend them!  I also took an Aroma Yoga class a few days later, so again essential oil based, and it was just plain and simple amazing. (You might be gathering that essential oils are my thing and they are really beginning to touch on many aspects in my life that maybe need a little ‘home improvement.’)   The focus of the aroma yoga class was being your true self.  We all need to have the ability to be best selves.  All too often I, and I believe others, focus on the negative and it can and will completely consume us.  We forget about our purpose and why we are doing what we do.  If you are like me you might take the negative things you hold onto out on others closest to you or silently sit in your own bitterness unwilling to let it go.  It is a seriously toxic cycle and can be very difficult to get out of but the thing that will snap you back to reality the quickest is awareness.  At the aroma yoga class a sheet was handed out with some information on the oils being used along with a few graphics.  One that stuck out the most to me was 7 Things to Let Go Of.  It stuck out to me because I am guilty Every. Single. Day. of allowing them to pick away and me and break me down.  So let me share…

7 Things to Let Go Of:

– Negative Self-Talk

– Things You Can’t Control

– Complaining

– Your Past Mistakes

– The Need to Impress Others

– Fear of Change

– The Opinions of Others

I have noticed a shift in things I choose to do with the goal of positivity in mind.  For example, last summer I gathered a collection of books and made it my summer reading list.  All of the books were fiction, which is fine, any reading is good reading in my opinion.  As of now I have collected another group of books but not a single one is fiction.  They are all ‘self help’ books for lack of a better explanation.  I crave material that will make me think and possibly change my perspective for the better.  I have also found myself praying more, for myself, for my kids, for my relationship with my husband, for our family, and just for guidance in general.

After all of that I haven’t exactly touched on the title of what I felt fitting for this post and something that has been cycling around in my head.  As I have said in others posts, especially those relating to parenting, you have to take care of yourself before you can be there for everyone else.  Recently, though I realized it is more than taking care of yourself, you HAVE to love yourself, who you are, and what your purpose it.  You get to choose to do all of those things and isn’t that seriously wonderful.

 

Finding Financial Freedom – Part 2

Well its been a minute since I have been able to sit down and lay all my thoughts out. Life has gotten busy but not in a bad way! Throughout all the organized chaos we have really been attempting to get a grasp on our current financial situation and our future plans for where we want to be and how we want to get there.

We officially began our Dave Ramsey lessons the beginning of October but we had started to conceptualize what we wanted to do with our money a month or so before than. We knew a change was needed or reality was going catch up to us quickly. We weren’t in trouble but we were playing on a slippery slope as a one income family. We were getting by just fine but the stress we were feeling was less than ideal and we didn’t want to live on the edge anymore. In the few months we have been doing this our thought process on spending and saving has changed immensely. We could certainly buckle down more and make even bigger changes but we are taking this is small strides and making progress at our own pace. The Dave Ramsey program has been an excellent outline for us, as I find his speeches very empowering, but we are doctoring things as needed for ourselves.

So, step one was obviously getting in our own head space and saying “You have to do this, you NEED this change, and its all laid out for you.” So we started the program. The first lesson was an eye opener. Justin was more than willing to ‘try’ the program but I don’t think he was fully willing to believe the methods and practices Dave speaks were going to make that much of a difference. One lesson and Justin was on board and myself even more so. We both were stuck in a place living outside our means and believing our lifestyle choices were necessity. Let me clarify however, really not a lot has changed which I acknowledge doesn’t exactly make sense and likely leads me to contradict myself a little, or a lot. What I mean is that we ultimately have not had to sacrifice that much we have just become smarter about how we spend and more importantly when we spend. See, here was our spending cycle in a nutshell before: We ‘needed’ something (really we wanted something) so we grabbed a credit card, purchased it, and said we will pay it off next week when the next paycheck comes in. Done. No sweat off our backs right? Wrong. Here’s the deal, we probably could afford the thing but we didn’t plan for it. We saw it, we wanted it, we took it home. Had we just waited until the next week, thought about it more, and maybe even changed out minds about wanting it, we likely would have saved money and not racked up a credit card. You live and you learn though right? We are fixing our mistakes and making positive strides!

I really think the biggest key to our success has been opening our minds to other options and possibilities. There is always more than one way to make things work, always. Of course you cannot be successful without making actual changes so that is a vital part of all of this as well. Here is what we have been able to do in the last few months…

We sold our pickup and bought a new (to us) vehicle. That’s completely backwards right? You would think so but we were into something that we could afford the monthly payments on but we couldn’t’ exactly ‘afford’ the vehicle. That’s where a lot of companies get you on approving you for larger loans. The monthly payment is manageable but it really doesn’t make the item any more affordable, you just think you got yourself a deal. We made the seriously difficult decision of parting ways with something we both loved and found as a necessity, and for us it still is, but right now it just wasn’t logical. We purchased a different and 100% reliable vehicle and now have $10,000 less dollars in debt to our names. That was actually one of our first and bigger steps. It felt good, but it was also scary and somewhat frustrating because we were giving up something we both really enjoyed. We did it though, its done, and we are going to be better because of it.road-sky-clouds-cloudy.jpg

We have also paid off almost $1000 in credit card debt which completely eliminated 3 full credit cards. I will own that I am the guilty party in our marriage who has 80% of the credit cards but they are out of our wallets, cut up, and no more apart of our life. We have also been able to pay for out of pocket expenses that we normally would have just thrown on a credit card and worried about later. Last week were were able to get a part replaced on one of our vehicles that normally would have stressed us out and the end result would have been as I just said, a quick and thoughtless swipe of a credit card. This was all done with money that was already set aside and the funny thing is we had this money before but using credit cards was just apart of our normal routine. This is the importance of having an emergency fund because that money is intended exactly for that, emergencies; situations that cannot be ignored and have to be dealt with such as fixing a vehicle. The first baby step in the program is quickly saving $1000 that is strictly for emergencies and it is a super important one!

We have also been able to add more to our savings in the last few months than we probably have done in the last year. That’s what is most rewarding to me. While I love watching our debt disappear it gives me even more satisfaction to see our savings account grow even larger and provides me a real sense of security. Truthfully though, we are still only at the beginning of this process and it is super exciting to know we will only continue to pay down our debt, grow our savings, and secure a future for ourselves and for our girls! I am so happy we decided to take a chance on ourselves to improve not only our relationship with finances but also our relationship with one another as husband and wife. It has helped us open up more lines of communication and realize that we have nothing to be ashamed of but now is the time more than ever to fix whatever mistakes we have made in the past and move forward in a positive way.

 

(Originally Posted on November 30th, 2017)