“Dance moms”- a title I struggled with

20190511_124314.jpgThe end of the 2019 dance season for my 15 and 7 year old has come to a close.  This has been quite the year for both my girls.  And I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t looking forward to the break before summer classes start.  Trust me when I tell you- I am happiest at the end of recital of June each year.

I write a lot about dance because it currently takes up a large part of my life. And I don’t even dance.  If you know me or my oldest daughter, you will already know how involved she is with dance.  Because she is my daughter, this obviously means that I am pretty active within her dance “career”.  However, I fight very hard to not be a “dance mom.”  But why?  Let me try to explain.

When I think of the term “dance mom”, I immediately think of overly pushy and dramatic women who try to live vicariously through their children.  I think of women who forget that they are not the dancers and that it is their role to support their child, not pressure their child.  I think of women that create dram among the dancers and the other moms because of comparisons and the notion that they automatically know more than the teachers.  I even know several people who would consider me this kind of dance mom, although I work very hard to not come off in this manner because this is how I view a “dance mom.”

When I write about dance, understand that I am usually writing about my oldest daughter Madison, because that is where the  majority of my dance experiences have come from for the past 12 years.  When Madison first started dancing at age 4, I had no clue that she would be where she is now.  I had no idea the amount of comfort and safety she would find within the walls of a dance studio.  Slowly she began to develop a stronger urge to dance and found a peace by dancing.  All the while, I tried to just stay by her side and support her as she got further involved.  I had no idea of the friendships that I would gain and lose with various parents and the bonds that would form.  I would have never imagined a dance studio becoming like a second home for both me and my kids and feeling like a family.

As a parent, I feel it is my job to support my kids in the different activities that they want to try.  Myles with piano, saxophone, and dance. Mayci with piano, violin, and dance, and possibly softball since that is where her heart keeps pulling her. And Madison with her dance, violin, choir, and performing arts.  I will do what I can to pay for the activities they are in, to sit on the sidelines to watch them perform, to deal with the crankiness after long days and broken spirits, to cheer them on during both those same moments and great times, to get on them about practicing, stretching, staying committed,etc.  It gets hard and I find myself pulled in many directions and sometimes on the same day and feel guilty about missing whatever else is going on.  I feel their sense of overwhelm at times and their own feelings of frustration an wanting to throw in the towel.

And because I have spent so much time traveling back and forth with Madison, attending various performances, speaking to different mentors for her, and finding new opportunities for her to grow, I tend to consider myself a “dance mom”.  I mean, I am right?  My daughters do dance, therefore I am a dance mom.  However, my son plays basketball, so I am a basketball mom.  All 3 kids play instruments, so I am band and orchestra mom as well. I have kids in choir, so I am a choir mom. But still- none of those titles bother me the way the term dance mom does.

I absolutely LOVE watching my kids perform.  I feel extremely proud of each of them.  Even when I am watching them do something that they struggle with, I am proud.  Proud of them for being involved and for trying anyway. Proud of them for sticking to whatever commitment they made.  Proud of them for working through broken spirits and growing from less than ideal experiences.  Just proud!

And still sometimes when I am watching Madison dance, I feel like I should not talk about how proud I am of her.  I feel like people assume I think my daughter is the best.  And let me tell you- I know that Madison is talented.  There isn’t a person in the world that can tell me different, but I still feel strange every time I post something about her or receive a compliment.  I feel like people are going to think that I am “dance mom”.

And then it hits me.  I  am a dance mom- through and through.  My beliefs surrounding how I respond to my daughter’s talents are more about what I fear other people “may” think than what I feel.  And I need to be more focused on how I feel.  I need to understand that just because I equated the term dance mom with negativity for so many years, doesn’t mean that it IS a negative term or that I need to act differently.  I am a dance mom!

I am supportive of my kids. I allow them to try almost any activity they want.  I have allowed themselves to wear themselves thin just so they can learn the lesson of knowing when too much is too much.  I don’t compare my kids to other kids nor do I expect them to be phenomenal at all of their activities. I do expect them to try what they commit to regardless of how good they are at it.  I do expect them to be gracious towards both themselves and others.  I expect them to be humble when they are succeeding at something, but to not be afraid to be confident.

I do not push for my kids to be the best all around but I do encourage them to be the best THEY can be. I do not criticize them if they mess up during a dance, song, performance, etc.  I do not expect them to compete with her fellow teammates, but explain that it is okay for them to challenge themselves.

I am dance mom.  I am also a basketball mom, a violin mom, a performing arts mom, a saxophone mom, a salsero mom,a soon to be softball mom, and who knows what else will come.  I will wear each of these titles with pride and know that the negative connotations associated with some of them are only a reflection of other people’s thoughts and the actions of people.  I will maintain my actions and focus on my thoughts, and then I no longer need to be turned off by ANY title.

The lesson I am learning is this:  as these young ones are growing up and learning to find their way in the world, they will probably try out many things.  Some will stick, others won’t.  Some they will be good at, others they will not.  No matter what the situation- it is my job as their parent to continue to give them the space to explore new things and to cheer them on while they do their thing.  It is not my time to live through them.  They are their own person and need to find their own way.  I am still here and still living, so if they are doing something that I wish I could do, then I need to find/make the time to do it. Just as I don’t want people to judge me by a title, I too need not judge and give titles. It doesn’t matter what title I have at any given moment.  What matters is that my children know that I am here for them and will be their number 1 fan- ALWAYS!

 

In all things find beauty,

~MRC

Friendship-more than just a word

20190531_213012_0000.pngFriend/Friendship. One small word that means different things to different people. And it goes so much deeper than just someone that you know and spend your time with.

I do not have many friends.  I know a decent amount of people but they are not all my friends.  I interact with many people but they are not all my friends.

Friendship has always been a touchy subject for me. Growing up, we moved often due tot he military and I never really seemed to have a hard time making friends.  And as we moved, I managed to maintain contact with many of them.   When we finally settled late in my 8th grade year in Connecticut, I struggled making with making friends.  My friendships truly started to cultivate in the middle of my freshman year of high school.  I stuck with mainly the same group of people throughout high school although I did associate with many different people in the different “cliques” throughout the years.  As I graduated and left for the military, had a baby, became engaged… only a few people stuck around. Many had left for college or went on with their post high school lives and we lost contact.  I believe that all of these events are normal as people and change.

As a child and teenagers, I remember my friends being important to me.  But even then, I was a homebody and preferred to be alone more than being with other people.  With people, I would feel out of place and insecure.  With people there was drama.  And then as I got older, some of the “friends” closest to me betrayed me in ways I could not imagine and my mindset towards friends and having friends changed.  I began to think that as an adult, it wasn’t important to have friends.  I have my husband, my sisters, my parents so if I really needed someone or something, I had my little group of people.  I began thinking that nothing good could come from friends, that people expect too much when they are friend, that friends are overrated.

My thought process as of late has grown. I value friendships.  I still do not believe that everyone you meet or talk to, needs to be your friend. I strongly believe that people I consider my friend, must have earned that position as I would hope they would feel the same towards me. I feel now that friends are people that become like a family and that quality is so much more important than quantity.  I hold my “friends” to a higher standard than I ever would have before and I do not use the term loosely.  Friends is not just a word to me. I am cool with a lot of people, I am FRIENDS with a handful.

Sometimes these friends are biological family members, sometimes they become family through trials and experiences as friends.  Friends are people that I feel able to talk to in confidence.  You do not have to be a “ride or die” to be my friend.  I have to admit, I am not always ride or die with my friends.  I do like to know what certain things entail, who is involved, why we were are doing things before I hop fully on board. I will almost always jump on board, but I am going to need some answers first depending on the situation.  And if that makes me unworthy of being your friend, then I will respect that fully.

I consider my friends the people who understand that for me, going out and about all the time is too much.  They don’t need to understand my social anxiety, but I demand that they respect it.  I do not want friends that agree with everything I say or think that every idea I have is a great one.  I want my friends to be people who challenge my thoughts at times and push me to do better.  My friends now are people that remind me that I sometimes need to lighten up and that it is okay to be uncomfortable.  The encourage me to step out and let loose and live more freely at times.

We all need to be very particular with who we spend our time with.  We  need to spend time with people that we trust, respect, and enjoy spending time with.  I want friends that will support me in new endeavors all while keeping me grounded and holding me accountable.  Sometimes this means cussing me out when I don’t follow through or questioning me when I may be making a questionable decision.  These are things that I would not have wanted or even accepted just a few years ago.  And since making these belief changes surrounding friendships, my life has slowly been evolving.  I am surrounded by some of the most amazing people almost all the time. I am constantly being pushed to pursue and learn more.  I have become more creative, more open to new things.  The changes have been astronomical.

Some people need a small group of friends like this, some just one friend, others large groups.  Some people name these groups or people- things like my tribe, my people, my crew, my squad, etc.  I am more of a “my people” gal.  All of these words mean something different to each person we ask.

As I sit here and describe what friends or being friends means to me, I should also point out that hold myself to the same standards for others. And because of that, I fall short as a friend daily.  However, if you are working towards something big- I will cheer you on! I will support you and shout you out. I may not make it to every get together, but if you need me to watch a child, pick up some groceries, rescue you if you are stranded- I got you.  I do not always have the right words of encouragement, but I am really good listener and will sit in silence with you if that is what feels right.  I will accept you as you are and not try to change you.  I may not talk to you everyday, but you will get a random “Hi” or “just checking in”text from me just to remind you that I feel you are important and you have crossed my mind.  I may forget that we made plans 3 weeks ago to go out for drinks, but I will remember your wedding anniversary, your birthday, your children’s birthday, the big test you have coming up, the doctor’s appointment you are nervous about, the new project you are starting. That is just the kind of friend that I am and the kinds of friends that I strive to gain.

It doesn’t matter what you call your friend group- or even if it is just 1 person.  All that matters is that the people that you allow to use that title when referring to you are people that you would vouch for. People that have earned your respect and that you are honored to be around.

Friendship is so much more than a title to me- it is truly a bond.

In all things find beauty,

~MRC

I am not ashamed

20190518_183614_0000.pngThe topic of abortion and women’s reproductive systems has been a headline topic quite recently.  Lots of politics surround this topic lately and I tend to steer clear of politics.  I don’t know much about politics, laws, government and that sort of thing, so I don’t normally feel “qualified” enough to discuss.  Not to mention that I almost never have a cut and dry opinion about topics and the fear of not having enough knowledge keeps me quiet.

However this topic is not at all political to me.  The topic of abortion runs deep in my soul and writing about it has just been eating away at me.  It is personal and I am not ashamed.

This topic is a sensitive one.  It gets people riled up and is highly controversial.  It is not a topic that many women want to discuss and men get “iffy” about whether or not they should discuss it.  But, since I am comfortable talking about myself and things that I have experienced, I am going to touch briefly on my experience with abortion.

Let’s get right to the point here.  I have had an abortion and I AM NOT ASHAMED!  Does this mean that I am proud of my decision? Not necessarily- it just means that I am not ashamed and that I am confident enough with myself to not hide behind it or to lie about my experience.

Please make sure that while you are reading this, you are truly reading the words and not just reading INTO them.  I do not feel that every woman that has had an abortion should share their story or feel like they must divulge the information at all.  This is a personal matter and not one that someone must feel obligated to share.

And please remember as you read, that I can only share about my experience, not anyone else’s.  I have come to terms with decisions that I made.  I am at a point in my life where the more open and honest that I am, the freer I feel.  I also understand that many people reading this right now, that know me personally and haven’t read some of my other blog posts, may not have realized that I have had an abortion before.  Some of these people are my family— my cousins, aunts, uncles, brothers in law, sisters in law, extended family of my husband.  Some of these people may be friends of my children, parents of friends of my children, friends of mine, coworkers, acquaintances, etc.  There are people that may read this that may change their opinion of me, be angry, and judge.  And that is their right.   And I will respect it fully.

With a situation so sensitive, it only seems right that people have such strong opinions about it. It makes sense.  The belief that it is murder, the belief that it is wrong, the belief that it is a woman’s right, the belief that it is the governments choice. These are all very real beliefs and opinions that are bound to cause some drama.

I am not looking to cause drama, but am aware writing about it may do so.  As a 19 year old, I found myself in a position where I felt confused and scared.  Not confused about how I got pregnant, not confused about who the father was, but just confused.  Scared about what to do next and scared about what may come in the future.  Getting pregnant is the easy part.  And to many, the moment of conception means that your future is already determined- you will be a mother.

I didn’t feel that way.  I had a choice.  I did not make the choice lightly, and I struggled for a little bit.  Especially when I went to the doctor the first time thinking that the procedure would be done and they told me that I was too early and I would need to come back.  I then, had to make a choice again.  To come back and go through with the procedure a week later.  I remember that at this point in my life, I honestly never wanted to have kids. I was on birth control, although I had clearly missed some pills her and ther, and had only recently lost my virginity. I made the choice to return and then experience what comes after.  Many people reading this (if they have continued to read this far) are probably expecting me to now right about the guilt and shame that I felt after.  I can’t give that answer though.  I don’t remember exactly what I felt right after.  I know it was Valentine’s Day, a Thursday or Friday, and I was tired.  I bled and cramped like they said I would after and then went back to UCONN the Monday following. I didn’t talk about it with anyone and just continued to live my life.

It wasn’t until my mother called me at work one day after an ex of my “boyfriend” at the time had called her and told her what I had done that I thought about it again.  And in the moment of talking to my mother, I am pretty sure what I felt was shame.  Shame for making a decision that seemed to disappoint so many people, shame for being secretive, shame for doing something so controversial.  My mom wasn’t happy- and I think it is because it is not necessarily a decision that she would have liked me to make.  And yet, I know my mother believes in the right to choose.

This is something that I feel is important to note because many people feel that just because you believe in the right to choose, that this means that you would automatically have an abortion.  And I KNOW that this is not true for everyone.  I know that I believe in the right to choose and I have made the choice to terminate a pregnancy.  I know that I believe int he right to choose, but I have no idea what choice I would want my own daughters to make if they felt they were at a crossroads.  I do not know if choosing to have an abortion would be something I encourage, but I can tell you that I pray that I would have the ability to support them in whatever decision they made.  I cannot tell you what my advice would be to my son if he and a female found themselves in a situation that they were unsure about about other than that I hope he is just willing to support whatever decision that young woman chooses for herself.  I feel that conversations would need to be had, but the ultimately the decision would be on the person with a missed period,  peeing in cup, or on a stick.  I know that I chose to have an abortion, but I also chose to have 3 amazing children. I know people are pissed by my words.  I understand the anger that people feel surrounding this.  I truly do.  I am very close to people that I have shaken their finger at me and spoken their beliefs and scolded me for the choice I made.  I also know that some of these very same people came to a point in their lives where they felt that needed to make a choice and they chose the same path I did that Valentine’s Day.  And maybe they wish that the choice wasn’t an option because they feel shame and guilt and I understand that also.  And I also know some of these same people that would never even consider it an option regardless of having the right to choose or not.

Ultimately- this topic makes us go around and around.  It is wrong. It is right.  It is murder. It isn’t murder. You are selfish. You are not selfish.  You don’t care about human life.  You care enough to think it through. You are a slut. You know how this happens, be mature enough to live with the consequences. Don’t sleep around. My body, my choice. Pro-life. Pro-choice. F*** your abortion ban. People who abort are criminals.  It should be a choice if you are raped. It doesn’t matter how you became pregnant, a baby is a life. The battle words are endless.

I don’t think for one minute that these conversations should fade. I DO think that we need to respect one another. We don’t need to understand where someone else is coming from, but we need to understand that people are allowed to think differently than us.  I think the issue is far greater than females versus male, religion versus non religion, entitled white rich humans versus everyone else.

I do believe that we must understand that just because someone believes in a woman’s right to choose does not mean that they will automatically choose themselves to get an abortion with their next pregnancy.  I do believe that this topic is so extremely sensitive that the shame surrounding it causes many mental health issues among women.  I do believe that some people use abortions as a form of birth control, I mean, many people would feel that that is exactly what I did and maybe they are right. I do believe that this subject will be one that causes us to fight one another for a very long while if not forever. I do believe that abortion bans will NOT stop abortions, they will only make them more secretive and very dangerous.  I do believe that abortion bans will decrease the amount of abortions being done that are public knowledge.  I do know that just because abortions are legal in many places that not all ob/gyn providers will perform them and not all ob/gyn nurses and anesthesiologists will scrub in for them.

Again, I don’t write a single one of these words to downplay anyone’s opinion surrounding this issue.  I write them for the complete opposite reason actually.  I write them for those people that have such strong opinions regardless of what side they are on.  I write these words as a safe place for people on both sides. I write them for people to feel comfortable sharing their opinions. I write them for those that are so full of judgement, because I know there are many.  I write them for the scared who feel they have no choice.  I write them to be read, to be thought about, to be responded to.

This issue is sensitive. This issue is personal. This issue was mine once and will continue to be mine while I raise young women and a young man and they go one to grow their families if they so choose.  This issue is scary.  This issue is deep.

But I write about  it because it needs to be addressed- over and over and over again.  It isn’t just going to go away.  Rules are changing, laws are being made, rights are being taken away. People are angry. People are scared. This is huge. And while I will never have to make the choice for myself again, I am so very grateful that when I found myself scared and confused, that I had the ability to make the choice. The choice I made didn’t necessarily take away the fear or the confusion, but it gave me options that I am confident would have been different had I not had the ability to choose. And yes- I chose to have an abortion and I am not ashamed.

MRC

Mother’s Day YOUR Way

Screenshot_20190512-190325_Instagram.jpg

(Photo courtesy of http://theeverymom.com

Happy Mother’s Day 2019— Even if you are not a mother or do not celebrate mother’s day for any reason, this post may be an important one for you.

Mother’s Day comes every year.  No surprises. In May on a Sunday there will be a mother’s day.  A common question to mom’s is, “How do you want/plan to spend your mother’s day?”  This question always makes me antsy at first.

For starter’s, I do not always go and visit my mom.  She lives 10 minutes from me and somehow, most often, I do not take the time to go over to her house to see her.  Sometimes the day falls on her wedding anniversary, but her and my dad are homebodies, so they are normally home.  This means that I really do  not have much of an excuse.  And a lot of people seem bothered by the fact that I don’t always have that in my plans for the day.

The second is that I almost always say that I want to spend the day without my kids.  Yup- I said it.  I don’t normally want to spend my Mother’s Day with the 3 reasons that I even “celebrate” the day.  And while it sometimes makes me antsy to say it to people, I have decided that from now on I will no longer feel guilty for that.  I completely understand that I should probably want to spend the day with them, but I don’t.  And I don’t apologize for the way that makes other people feel anymore, my children included.  Sometimes my kids don’t even want to spend the day with me.  OR rather, they are okay that I don’t feel we need to spend the day together,

And third is, I normally only want to have my house entirely cleaned by someone that isn’t me, . And for the past 14 years that I have been “celebrating”- I can tell you- that has never happened, even though it has been on my “what I want” list since Mother’s Day 2008 after I got married and had someone else living with Madison and I.

I think a lot of people assume that my not wanting to spend the day with my kids means that I must not love them as much.  I know this assumption to be true because it has been said to me. Although, Not true!!

I love all 3 of my kids.  I think the cards and gifts they make at school are adorable.  I love hearing them say Happy Mother’s Day.  I love when they sometimes make breakfast for me with or without the help from their dad.  All of those things are priceless and I am grateful for them.  I don’t want gifts that need to be purchased or are given just because it is believed that you should give your mom something.  I have them and that truly is enough (sometimes, too much to be quite honest)

And still, I would prefer to have the day to myself.  Binge watching my shows, showering and putting back on pj’s, writing, reading and listening to books/podcasts, cleaning, and sometimes even taking myself out to get something to eat if I want, etc.  Now, let me explain this further… I do these things anyway.  On any day that I really feel the need/want to. My kids are a little older so they do not need my attention 24/7 so it has become easier and easier to do them when time allows.  The difference between doing them any other time and doing them on Mother’s Day is that I feel less guilty doing them on Mother’s Day, so I crave this even more.

This year, Madison asked what I wanted. I told her for the house to be cleaned, she even told me that she knew that is what I was going to say.  It never got done.  I stopped expecting it to , but will continue to answer this way for Mother’s Day, my birthday, and Christmas.  I am optimistic that one day it will get done.  Damian asked me if I wanted the day with or without  kids.  Without kids was my response, of course.  So his plan was to take the 3 kids down to see his mom and Grandma.  And I thought that was a lovely idea.  They would get to see most of the members of that side, hang out, and definitely well.  However that did not happen.  Mayci was refusing to go because she felt very strongly that because it was Mother’s Day, she must stay home with me and hang out. This is the first time this has ever happened with any of my kids.  Madison, a typical teenager, decided last minute that she didn’t want to go and was going o stay home as well.  Now, I know that decision had nothing to do with spending time with me and that is perfectly okay.  Myles woke up super late and ended up going with Damian- he didn’t even wish me a Happy Mother’s Day, he just simply rolled out of bed, brushed his teeth, got dresses, grabbed his electronics bag, and left.  Again, I wasn’t even bothered by it.

I will tell you that Madison and Mayci completely surprised me by baking a cake for me and making me breakfast this morning.  I was up pretty early, so I made some coffee and then headed to my desk to work on a project that’s deadline had already passed and I didn’t even realize they were upstairs working on their own project.  20190512_091927.jpgI love how they decorated the cake with cut up strawberries, because then it became a healthy cake for me haha.  Myles didn’t participate because he has had some pretty late nights and did not get up after the several times that his sisters told him to. (Perfectly okay with me).  So the girls and I had a nice quiet day at home each doing what made our hearts happy while the guys went and filled their hearts with joy.

I think the reason I chose to write about this is because I feel that we need a reminder constantly that what works for us does NOT work for other people.  And we need to be reminded consistently that this is OKAY!

I understand that there are mommas out there that would give anything to spend the day with their child that they lost, or gave up, or don’t have this weekend, or have longed for but cannot conceive, etc.  I know there are people out there that would give anything to see their own mom again or for her to be closer to them so they could see at all.  I also know that this feeling doesn’t come and only stay for the day for them but that it is in their heart daily and for all time and on a day like Mother’s Day, it stings just a little worse sometimes.  I know there are moms that have lost children, are longing for children, are estranged from their children, are exhausted raising their children, are loving their children, are struggling with their children, are praying extra hard for their children, and the list goes on and on and on.  I also understand that it may just seem that I am not grateful for what I have been blessed with. I no longer feel the need to justify why this is how I prefer to spend my day, it just is what it is.  And I am grateful that I have a husband and children that understand and respect my feelings when it comes to this.

Regardless of your status on this Mother’s Day— please be kind to yourself!  Allow yourself to spend it in a way that makes YOU feel good, not in a way you feel obligated to.  Make sure you allow yourself to honor your feelings and allow them to show up in whatever manner they may.  If the title of mom is one you hold dear than this is YOUR day for sure-but honestly—— so is every DAMN day.  Celebrate yourself today and EVERYDAY and do not let titles or “holidays” dictate your moves, wants, needs, etc.  If gifts and spending time with your children and/or your mom is what makes your heart happy than raise your children that way and be that example to them.

Most importantly- just remember to be gentle with yourself and others.  Days like these are sometimes extra hard for some however that does not mean that you need to feel guilty if it not that way with you.  It’s all about finding ways that make the day be about what it is meant to be.  Celebration of amazing woman- regardless of their status within the “mom” role.

Happy Mother’s Day.  Now let me get back to doing nothing….

In all things find beauty,

MRC

 

Parenting & “shades of gray” thinking- and no I am not referencing the movie

Screenshot_20190425-130431_Instagram.jpgSome parents see things as black or white. It’s either this or that.  No in between.  Others see things as gray.. a little blended area where both can be “understood”.

I am more of a “seeing things as gray” parent. I used to think that was my superpower.  I believed that I was kinda special because I could see both sides of most stories so I was able to understand where people on opposing sides were coming from.

I still think it’s a pretty good quality. I really do— but sometimes, I wish I could just be ” a black or white” thinker.  Especially most recently and definitely when it comes to my role as mom and decision maker for my children. Does this mean that I am going to change who I am or change my thinking? Not necessarily- just stay with me here as I try to explain.

I am a truster. I trust everyone immediately until they give me a reason not to. And then sometimes I still trust them. Yup, I am that fool.  As a parent, many moms think I am crazy. And maybe I am.  I know that times have changed. I know we no longer live in the days where parents sent their kids outside to play right after breakfast and didn’t see them again until the streetlights were coming on and it was time for dinner.  I know this. And I know that even when I was growing up, some kids didn’t experience this kind of ignorant, naive freedom or have parents that were extremely liberal with things like playing outside. I don’t necessarily feel that because the world has changed, that I have to change my thinking. So– I send my kids to the park that is down the corner and out of my view. And these kids are 7 and 9.  I do not worry that someone is going to snatch them up in plain sight, but I am aware that it is possible.  I just struggle with feeling like I can’t give my kids the sense of some “freedom” because of fear that I have.  They know the rules about strangers and what my expectations are so I try to let them spread their wings.

I allow my kids to attend sleepovers.  Yup, I know- that is something that a lot of people disagree with and I know exactly where those feelings come from as well.  And while I respect them, I don’t follow those same guidelines.  I am not afraid that by letting my child sleep at a friends house or play at a friends house that a parent may be inappropriate towards them . Do I know that this is possible? Do I know that many frown upon this? Yes I do— and does that change my way of thinking? Not in the slightest. And when my children have friends that have parents that believe this way, I make sure my children understand that these beliefs MUST be respected always even if they do not understand the reasons behind them.

I do not assume that every adult male is out to do something horrible to my daughters so I allow my daughters to go places with their friends even if only the father is present.  Am I possibly setting my children up for something bad to happen? Possibly, but I will not stop doing what I believe is right.  Am I putting my child in harm’s way? I sure as hell hope not, but understand the risk I am taking.  Will people frown upon my decisions? Abso-freakin-lutely! And are they entitled to? Abso-freakin-lutely!  And because of that, I understand why, if I am not home and my husband is that they may not allow their child over to my house or to pick their child up even if my daughter is in the car as well.  I may not believe the same way, but I respect the different way of thinking.  And I would never shame another parent because of their beliefs or rules in parenting.

I respect and understand the notion that my way of thinking surrounding being a parent and how I raise my children may cause some to not want me to look after their children. And believe me when I tell you, I get it and chances are, I don’t want to look after your children anyway.  And I understand that because of my actions and beliefs, you may not want your child to interact with mine… and you know what- that is okay also.  Hopefully you don’t think my kid is a jerk, but if you do- you are entitled. I think they are all jerks sometimes too.

Because of this,  well- I feel like I may have always known this, but neither one of us thinkers are wrong. I may be more conflicted, because I DO understand both sides- yes, but not necessarily wrong. I may be a complete whack job and naive according to your beliefs, but not necessarily wrong. My thoughts and views may not fit in to someone else’s lifestyle, but not necessarily wrong.

I want my kids to grow up understanding that people have different thoughts and opinions.  I want them to know AND understand that when they are with their friends and their friends have different thoughts or rules, that these all need to be respected. I want them to understand that their friends, while possibly different thinkers, are not wrong. They do not need to be changed.  They need to be heard and honored for their beliefs and staying true to them.  And I want them to expect the same back from the people they spend their time with.  I have no clue if I want my children to be black and white thinkers or shades of gray thinkers.  I guess it isn’t my decision at all anyway.  I want them to use their experiences, research, and knowledge to lead their thought process in all areas of life and to stand true to what they believe is right… even when others disagree.  And I want them to be honest when they are feeling conflicted and express their concerns in hopes of gaining more insight in making a more knowledgeable decision.

I want to have this same method of thinking as a parent.  Parenting is already a hard and not always rewarding job.  It is something that I do not take lightly.  I think it is even harder, when other parents feel that they are doing everything exactly right and assume that anyone not doing it the same way is automatically wrong.  Us parents, we are a judgy group of people. We all have the same goal in raising our kids to be decent people(or so I assume) but our methods of doing it can often clash.

Let me be clear— there are certainly some things that I have more of a “black and white” approach with.  Things like being disrespectful, my thoughts on bringing home decent grades, doing what I say the first time you are told, etc. And let me tell you- my thoughts behind these things are STRONG and I expect what I expect, no questions asked– something that has made people look at me like I am the worst mom ever

Please know that I say all of this as someone who has been called a horrible parent and a phenomenal parent by some of the same people. To my face and behind my back at times.  I am known as Satan by one of my own children and one of her friends.  It is what it is.  I am not out here trying to win mom of the year- I am strictly trying to just survive parenthood and make it through only mildly bruised. Many times I am definitely NOT making the best parenting choices and other times, I KNOW I am killing the parenting game.  I don’t really think that I need validation on my parenting any longer– I really just need for my kids to grow up and not be assholes….

See what I mean about the shades of gray thing?

In all things find beauty,

MRC

One of my addictions

Hi, my name is Michelle and I am an addict. Seriously, I have an addiction to my cell phone and it has gotten bad.

As a mom of a 15 year old girl, I am constantly talking to her, or trying to, about the importance of putting her phone down and being in the present. She walks around often looking down at her phone and not aware of her surroundings. She gets home, pulls her phone out and is on for the majority of the evening. If she is not dancing, then chances are her phone is in her hand and it is on with her face staring at a screen. She may be watching her current fav show, scrolling through Instagram, keeping up her “streaks” on Snapchat, or Facetiming her friends and/or boyfriend. Always on the phone- I tell you. FOR REAL!!

But wait- this post isn’t about her- it is about me. I am always on my phone. I rarely move from one room to another without my phone in my hand. I constantly look at it throughout my work day. I pull it out as soon as I get into the house and either turn on a show or scroll through Instagram. I use my phone as a bargaining tool or a mode of relaxation with myself. Think: Ok Michelle, give yourself 30 minutes on the phone and then you will get to your homework. Ok Michelle, if you listen to Mayci tell her story for 15 minutes, then you have earned 30 minutes on your phone. Ok Michelle, you just worked 8 hours and drove home, you have earned an hour of staring at your Instagram feed, or watching Hulu/ Netflix, or planning your upcoming posts, etc.

You know when you are driving sometimes and you get to your destination but honestly cannot remember the drive? C’mon, I know you know what I’m talking about. Well that is how I have been feeling about my days… I wake up and then it is time for bed. I cannot seem to remember you middle. I know some of that middle time has been wasted with mindless use of my phone.

Now please understand- I have been trying to be more intentional about my IG feed and my blog so yes that does require some phone usage. Madison is not home often during the evening and my in-laws help out with the kids a lot and need to reach me, so I need my phone. But the time I spend staring at that screen is ridiculous. I keep my reward cards on my phone so I have to pull it out in public often. And NO- I do not talk on my phone at the cash register or anything like that, I mean, come on— that is just plain rude and I do have some self-control!! However, even my plans to spend 15 minutes on the phone turn sometimes into 30-60 minutes depending on what is going on in the moment. And that is just completely unacceptable.

About 2 months ago, I turned off my volume on my phone for notifications and haven’t turned it back on. This was originally so that I wouldn’t be distracted if my phone went off. However, I still look at my phone constantly, because the ringer is also off so I look to see if someone has called or messaged me. I have my do not disturb feature on from 11:00 pm – 5:00 am because most often I am asleep during that time. Not to mention , that my immediate family, (husband, daughter, sisters, parents) are able to by-pass the do not disturb feature anyway. And if a friend or someone was going through a crisis, if they call more than 2 times back to back- they too can bypass the DND feature as well.

And still, I am on my phone WAY TOO MUCH! How I am criticizing my child and her phone habits, when my habits are just as bad if not worse? I miss so much because I am staring at a screen.

Something has to change and I have to make this a priority. Here is my new plan:

  1. As soon as I get home, put my phone in a designated area(I will figure that out today)- I can still use it for music/background while doing housework and such- but will need to keep it out of my hands
  2. DO not allow phones at the table when people are eating or if someone is speaking to me or I am speaking to someone
  3. Keep my do not disturb feature as is
  4. Turn my ringer back on (obviously still off while at work)
  5. Turn my notifications off for EVERYTHING except my calendar reminders, text messages, and phone calls
  6. Allow myself 15 minutes AFTER waking up and getting ready for work (on weekdays) or AFTER waking up and getting ready for the day (on weekends) to go on Instagram and Facebook.
  7. BLOCK telemarketer calls so they are not constantly calling me during the day(I am amazed how many of these calls come through daily)
  8. Take care of things like dinner, listening to kids school days, getting things ready for homework, dance, laundry, etc PRIOR to using my phone for social media or show watching.
  9. Keep my laptop set up and on my desk. Check my email from my computer before I leave for work and when I get home from work.
  10. Reply back to URGENT texts and texts that need an immediate response as soon as I see them— leave other texts(friends checking in, random conversations) to the evening when I have settled in.
  11. NEVER allow myself to be walking around staring at my phone (of course there are exceptions, if I am taking a picture, posting something as long as it is NOT disruptive or disrespectful to those around)
  12. When out in public, have my phone nearby but do not pull it out unless making a NECESSARY phone call or using a reward card/discount app

I am realizing more and more that I need to be more intentional with my life as a whole and that includes being intentional with the material things in my life. Yes, I am aware that things will come up when I will need to be on my phone at “not-so-great” times and that is okay. I will still post on my Instagram stories in the moment and will still use my phone for music- please know that I am not trying to get rid of my phone all together- I just want to be more mindful of how I am using it. I am also aware that I want to change a lot of things… they will not happen all at once and I am aware of that. But I am going baby step my way to better and more mindful and considerate control and maybe from there I can lead by example.

Wish me luck– and if you are reading this on your phone… have you given your eyes a break for today yet??

In all things find beauty,

MRC

Finding my power in parenting

I went out for breakfast with a dear friend at the end of 2018 and as we were catching up with each other’s lives, she spoke to me about my “power”.  You see, she was breaking down for me my “power” as a mom.  I am in a constant struggle with finding my place as a mom which I know sound so weird since I have been a mom for over 15 years.  But for me- being a mom has never felt natural. It has never felt like a true calling.  I know that for many people that just doesn’t seem right, that I could feel this way. But it is in fact… the truth for me.  Let me explain why this one conversation and this word has had me thinking all sorts of things… and since it is me, you know it will be a LOOOONNNNGGGG explanation.

Because of this, my parenting style is quite different. I am all over the place with my kids and any given time. My love for them is real, my confidence in parenting- not so much. I do not parent each of my children the same way. What works for one, may not work for the other two. As they change in age, their needs and my requirements shift. Unfortunately these shifts do not always match their needs and can sometimes be excessive, but again, this is my truth.

D and I have a lot of help with our kids. With my steady work schedule and Damian’s not so steady schedule, we need the help. This is where things begin to get tricky.  I am so darn grateful for all the help that I receive.  My older sister, who is like the world’s greatest aunt, will almost always be willing to help out with driving and babysitting if necessary. She works full-time and some of the only times she is unable to help out is due to prior work commitments. My parents will almost always be able to help out on the weekends if need be. I tend to not ask them for weekday help because of their full time work schedules and I know they help out with my niece as well.  My in-laws are almost always available for the day-to-day help. Picking kids up from the bus, from school if they are sick, weekends if possible.  They are becoming more and more busy and in demand as they are gaining more precious grandchildren and they try to make themselves available for all of them.  And again- I am so grateful for ALL of the help that my entire family receives.

And yet, oh dear- isn’t there always a contradiction with me?  And yet, sometimes the help becomes too much for me. I have an issue with boundaries. I either have far too many and don’t allow people to even scratch the surface or I allow people to have no respect for them whatsoever and get all up into my space.  This is where the trouble lies.

I need help and I appreciate help. I sometimes don’t ask for help because of my pride, but I  need it almost all the time. I will never get a mom of the year award. (I wouldn’t really want that piece of junk anyway- I mean, I wouldn’t even know where to put it)  My children probably won’t look back at their childhood and remember many family game nights or amazing family vacations – and I am okay with that. However, I don’t want them to look back and only remember the crappy times and the arguments.

Okay— so I got into all of that because this is what made my dear friend start to talk about my “power”.  As I have been navigating through these various thoughts surrounding self-care, self-love, finding myself – I have been pulling away from many people. One of these people would be my husband. I notice that as I begin to change in some areas of my life, some areas stay the same and sometimes these are the areas that need the change the most. The biggest area is my relationship with my immediate family- Damian, Madison, Myles, and Mayci. These past couple of years have been the roughest. Damian and I have drifted apart, my relationship with Myles and Mayci is not nearly as I strong as I would like it to be, Madison and I have been the worst we have ever been. So it has been quite a relationship mess in our little Curtis household.

Without going into all the nitty-gritty details, in speaking with my friend she started to tell me that as a mom I have a “power” that no one could take from me in that I am my children’s mother. I am their mom. I carried each of them for at least 37 weeks in my body and I physically brought them out into the world.  I have held them while they are upset, nursed boo-boos back to health, cheered them on during their successes, scolded them for their wrong doings… But this still didn’t seem to sit with me well. I do love my children. My love for them may be displayed in ways different from other mommas out there.  I have done all of those things mentioned above– but there are other people in their lives who have done the same for my children(and at times even more)- that my children have bonded with more. And because of that, more often than not, I feel inadequate as a mom. Especially for Myles and Mayci. I believe that in my absence, they would not look for me or feel as though they need me for anything. I do not feel like I have that “power.”

My friend insists that this is not the case. That among all of my insecurities surrounding parenting, I still hold a position in all 3 of my children’s lives. And I am starting to realize how true this is over the past several weeks.  About a month ago, my father in law brought something up to my husband.  He informed my husband that Myles (my 9 yr old) told him that he didn’t think that I loved him because I never want to spend time with him.  I did speak with Myles and got the whole story, but we won’t even get into that today.  Regardless of the “actual story”, this situation got me thinking.  I started questioning even more so about my relationship with my kids and where I stand with each of them.  From that moment – I began to realize my impact on my children’s lives. I spend time with my son watching basketball or talking about school, cherish my girly time with Mayci speaking of princesses and goals, and am starting to actually enjoy my more “grown up” teenage talks about all of those coming of age topics with Madison.  What I haven’t done to be honest is change anything about my parenting, I have just made the time I am with my children more intentional.  I don’t even know if I have truly increased the quantity of time that I have spent with my kids,  but I sure as hell am focused on the quality of that time.

Have I fully embraced my “power”? I have no freaking clue.  Do I feel that my power is diminished by others? Yeah- I think I may still feel this way a little.  The thing that is different– I am  no longer allowing the bond that my children have with other people(grandparents, friends, other family members, etc)- to make me feel like less of a mom.  I am beginning to understand just how lucky my children are to have even more people they feel bonded to and how their worlds do not begin and end with me.

YES- as I always like to remind everyone…my relationship with my children is different. Many other moms would frown upon it- but I think that makes my dynamic even more special.  My children will have their own stories to tell. And while I hope that these stories are fun and light, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tell of the meltdowns,scary moments, and hard times.  Those times aren’t a secret.  They aren’t anything to be ashamed of.  They are a merely just another dimension of my phenomenal power!

To all you mommas out there (and daddys too)- I will not give you advice. I have no advice to give. I have no magic tricks, no mommy win stories, nothing… just words from my experience that I would hope you wouldn’t judge me for.  And if you do…that’s cool also.  What I will tell you is this: your relationship with your kids is just that. It is YOUR relationship with YOUR kids. NOT ONE DAMN PERSON can take that away from you.

Find your power! Own your power! Embrace your power! Cherish your power!

 

In all things find beauty,

MRC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bjfkadgbjkb