Ten Things

1. The reason I now blog in bullet form is I’m less overwhelmed and if I get interrupted I know exactly where to pick back up.

2. Summertime is all about being interrupted.

3. No, seriously. This epiphany came to me last night when I couldn’t figure out why I felt like my skin was about to peel off my bone structure and then it hit me: I NEVER (in this season of the year) get more than 25-30 seconds of quiet. And that’s why I have formed a zillion bad habits like watching Dr. Pimple Popper videos instead of doing anything constructive because I am almost always on the verge of starting something new like getting a drink of water for someone or heating up another round of lunch.

4. I’m NOT COMPLAINING. And also, it’s possible this was the theme of last week’s blog but I’m not using up any of my precious quiet time to double check. Is this a recurring theme? My bad.

5. The thing that actually inspired me to sit down and write in the first place is that we are leaving on vacation tomorrow and I’ve ingested enough caffeine that I’m actually on my game and getting things done. Don’t even ask what came over me because normally I attack the day before vacation with something more like trepidation and deep loathing. I always think packing is going to be SO FUN and it never is. The bigger question is not why packing isn’t fun but why I ever even entertain thoughts that it would be.

6. So here I sit eating the last shards of a chocolate bar I found in the fridge and drinking up some wine because everyone knows you can’t leave such items unattended when you go away for the week. I’m eating and drinking and waiting for the next load of laundry to switch over.

7. My friend Keri was in town yesterday and she made a joke about how she wished I wasn’t teaching because it killed my blog, me going to work full-time. It was sweet of her to still read and to care, but it got me thinking — what, exactly, killed my blog?

8. The truth is the blog was dying (and hopefully I’ve semi-resucistated it) before I entered the work force. I think the thing that killed it was my boys getting older and no longer having non-stop publishable entertainment. I still have non-stop entertainment, but most of it I can’t write about. If only my boys would blog…

9. Did you see my Instagram video? I’m finishing the last of my $2.97 vino and taking everyone’s advice — next time I’ll treat myself to the good stuff. Only $6.99 and up, from here on out.

10. Peace and LOVE.

Never Alone: An Update

Yesterday I posted a one-minute inspirational (ha!) video that basically featured me hiding in my van and ruminating on how to be alone. How selfish can you get?! Very.

But let’s be honest — all rosy, happy motherhood feelings aside — it’s tough to never be alone. It’s tough to always, almost all of the time, have someone about to walk into the room where you are (when you are not already with these people beside you) and ask a question or need help or want you to remove the claws of someone’s hands that are attached to his neck (if this doesn’t happen from time to time in your household, #blessed are you).

And even if you operated with a clear sense of how this will not always be the case, how babies grow up and leave the nest and it won’t always be the case — well even if you can see how one day they will all be grown and gone it doesn’t change the fact that today they are all here and up in your personal space and it’s tough. Just a tad.

I’m not saying it’s drudgery or not a complete honor to be My Kids’ Mom. Motherhood is a vocation! I love it so much!


But there are also those times (and you can speak freely here, we are in a safe zone) where it’s a challenge. It’s tough. You get tired. You want to do right by these children, to love them and care for them and lead them to Jesus and see Jesus in them and, and, and — you just can’t do ALL THE THINGS every single hour of every single day.

And that’s where hiding out in your parked van in the driveway of your home comes in as a logical, loving solution to nutting up on every single loving, beautiful child in your path.

So there I was, sitting in the van. And I wasn’t freaking out because I recognized in advance that the time had come for an Extreme Plan. I needed space, a few hours to myself because I didn’t want to freak out. I wanted to catch my breath before I had to be resuscitated. Big difference. Huge difference.

So I did something radical — I shipped the kids off. Up, up and away. I realized that in my arsenal, I had the tools I needed to stay happy and sane — I had an almost-eighteen-year-old son with a drivers license and a firm sense of responsibility. So I sent those children off to the pool. I gave them money and suncreen and said, “go enjoy yourselves!”

And they did! They left and partied and they came home SIX HOURS LATER.

They came home so many, many hours later and they came home to a mother who had been given that many hours to tackle the slime in her home, to take back the house, to stop feeling like she was living in absolute squalor because the sink in the upstairs bathroom looked like a tribute to Mary Kay (nope, that sink is not supposed to be pink).

I cleaned and I cleaned and I cleaned. I did all the things and I felt “on top of it” and then I watched that video of me hiding out in the van and thought “what was THAT all about?” Because that’s how good I felt afterwards — like I didn’t need to hide from people. Because I had gotten the break I so desperately needed.

Don’t be ashamed if you feel like the walls are closing in on you. Nobody will doubt your love as a mother, your commitment to your children and to your vocation. You ARE Wonder Woman, after all, because you are strong enough to admit that being perfect means not being perfect. (I saw that in my latest Southern Living last night and turns out it can apply to motherhood AND home decorating).

Peace out, my homies. You got this.

Ten Things On My Mind

1. I’m finishing up a week of filming in Boston and it’s been fun. Also very tiring and lots of hard work. I always feel funny telling people how exhausting it is (“it’s SO HARD being on a television show…”) but it is. It seems to take a lot more energy and pep than normal living, even with the six kids part of my life.

2. Yesterday when I got back to the hotel, I wandered down to Walgreens to grab some essentials (dark chocolate, sparkling water, nasal spray). There was a woman a block ahead of me with the tallest stilettos I’ve even seen, which also included some kind of platform that rendered this average size lady around seven feet tall. Of course I gained speed on her and it started feeling like that scene in Captain Phillips where the pirate boat slowly, eversoslowly, catches up to Phillips and his crew. That was me, gaining on this vertically-assisted gal, as she hobbled (with more grace than I would have predicted) down the street. I eventually passed her and I was tempted to say something like “BOOYAH! You look fashionable but who’s kicking butt in the efficiency department? THIS GAL!”

3. To which I suspect this woman would have held up her index fingers and thumbs in the shape of a W and mouthed “whatever” because she clearly isn’t dressing for practical purposes.

4. It was a short lived victory after that because I got to thinking, after I refrained from gloating and pointing to my ever-faithful Dansko sandals, how I’m at an age where I put form over fashion every single chance I get. I can think of almost no occasions where I would opt for an uncomfortable shoe over something that feels good on my feet, and I’m still at a point in family life where I need shoes that I can use to actually chase down a fast child, should life circumstances dictate. Even when I’m out without my kids I’m not convinced I won’t need to move fast and always opt for the practical, beautiful choice that is German footwear fashion.

5. Which of course leads to my next questions: how long before I’m sporting SAS orthotics and sansabelt pants? Will you stage an intervention if I turn to this option before I’m sixty? Do you promise?

6. The other thing I’ve been pondering this week is how much I don’t really love too much time to think after all. I kind of enjoy the crazy of life with kids because it forces me to take my gaze of me — and every little ache and pain and weird feely feeling in my body. Unfortunately I’m one of those people always trying to connect the dots of any physical ache and pain and as anyone with access to WebMD knows, all roads lead to death. So the less I think about myself, the better.

7. Having said that, I do indeed appreciate the opportunity to unwind and reset. It’s just that I’m not in the habit. Today I got back to the hotel much earlier than expected and found myself wanting to plan my next move, even if it involved taking a walk a few hours later. I had to remind myself it’s okay to just be. That’s not a bad thing. Having said that — I did take a walk, but I didn’t pick an exact time to leave the hotel. So who’s the party animal now?? THIS GAL.

8. I know that concept might seem foreign and even enviable. It’s nothing to complain about. It’s just different, that’s all.

9. I was just sitting here reflecting on what to write for number nine and did a step back assessment of myself. I’m sitting in a crowded hotel restaurant that seems to be filled with local professionals here for the bar’s happy hour. And I’m sitting here with my chin in my hand staring out the window pondering and hahaha! It kind of looks a little lonely. If only all these people knew how NOT lonely I am.

10. No. 9 was lame but I’m out of talking points. xo

All Kinda Firsts

So it’s a strange new season, I guess I’ve established that. And maybe it will be easier for me to move forward into the brave new old world of blogging if I focus on that. What happens is I try to think of the ways I did the things I’m “used to” and these days that doesn’t seem to happen too often.

For starters, Paul and I took an overnight trip this weekend and left the boys (all five of them!) home alone. That was a REAL MILESTONE. Of course Papa and Gramma live next door, so this helps. And this is one of those events that I think can only happen in a family when the stars align just so. It requires no one being too young (we sent Isabel to stay with my brother and sister-in-law) and everyone being in a good place “relationship wise” which is to say I’m not going to leave if there is a sibling unit currently hating on each other.

There is not.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

On that note, I’d like to offer a word of encouragement to those of you who have children that hate each other — this too shall pass. It won’t necessarily pass quietly or without your hard work, but at some point, with enough prayer and encouragement and reminders that they are Brothers For Life, these children of yours who fight constantly might one day really actually become friends.

When Charlie and Elliott were about seven and nine (on up to ten and twelve) they HATED EACH OTHER. I don’t like using that term because I don’t really encourage “hating” — we grew up with my mom telling us we could only hate “sin and the devil” and all other items needed to fall slightly below that.

So maybe we will stay one step below hatred and say deep, abiding loathment. That’s the sentiment that generally spewed between those two boys of mine. I thought it would never end, their agitation for each other.

And it broke my heart.

And then, one day, well something else broke. Whatever it was between them just stopped being a problem and literally overnight (maybe not, maybe it was gradual) they because teammates and then friends and then really, really good friends. And now, as crazy as it sounds, there is no brotherly bond in our family that I would say is stronger than theirs. Many others equally good, but none stronger.

The Lord is kind and merciful.

Don’t despair, dear mothers. Hear what I say.

And when I had a new friend share these words with me back when we were in the thick of this, I didn’t believe it would be true. Lori, who I met through our friend Fr. Tim, told me two of her boys suffered that same abiding agitation and one day they just got over it. She said they even had a season where some kind of dividing line of tape was placed in the boys’ room because things were so terrible.

When she shared that story, my boys were little and hers were college age and older. She had proof that you survive these things and lo and behold, now I do to.

Who’da thunk?