Friday, October 19, 2012

The Elusive Dream; In Search of a Good Night's Sleep!

The other night, like many nights on any given week, I woke up around 2am, this time because I had to go to the bathroom. Now, there really isn't anything unusual about that and obviously I had forgotten to follow any one of the "over-the-age of 45" rules of not drinking anything after 8pm, not having tea after 5pm, not drinking coffee after 12 noon, not checking email after 9pm, not falling asleep to a Seinfeld rerun or the news or not shoving a pillow through my ears after 11pm to drown out my husband's incredibly loud over-the-age of 45 snoring or any one of these sleep more soundly pieces of advice that are out there...

So after getting up and still feeling at least half asleep, I quickly slipped back into bed and despite my mantra of breathing deeply and chanting "I am a happy, productive, calm, relaxed woman" to myself over and over to help compensate for any and all of the prior day's bad events, I was promptly wide awake for the next hour and a half, during which time I managed to not only relive all of my mistakes from the prior day, but also the prior 40 years of my life! (What is it about middle of the night thoughts; why aren't they ever of all the great things we've done in our lives, right?!)

What's so ironic is that I remember when all three of the kids were in any given stage of newborn-, baby- or toddler- hood and getting a good night's sleep was not even an option, let alone a reality. As you know, each night was an adventure of being woken up typically in the 2-3am hour to the sounds of crying for either nursing, a warm bottle, a diaper change, or just some company because they are ready to start their day and play, screaming from a night terror, screaming from a wet bed when potty training was beginning or screaming for help with a sensory-awakening bottom wipe if potty training was in any way successful, kicks or head butts to your most vulnerable body parts after one, two or all children crawled into your bed with you, or, my personal favorite, the middle-of-the-night throwing up session when you have an early appointment or very important _________ (substitute anything here) the next day. Those were good times, weren't they?!

So it was during these good times of walking around in zombie-like stupor for years that I remember my husband and I thinking that we could not wait until all the kids were old enough to sleep through the night. Well, here's the cruel joke that we didn't realize; what you don't know at the time is if you were like us, and didn't start to have kids until your mid-30's, that by the time they are indeed old enough to sleep through the night and even beyond 7am(!), is about the same time that you in your pulled-in-a-million directions mid-life space will now begin waking up for many other reasons including but not limited to and not in any particular order of importance or frequency, the following worries: aging and depleted hormones, too much ____ to drink, too little ____ to drink (insert water or any alcoholic beverage here), a car alarm which may or may not be yours, a loud dog barking, which may or may not be yours, a low smoke alarm battery that never seems to go off in the middle of the day (what is that?!), a cat fight, a cat on your head, a now well potty-trained child going to the bathroom who doesn't ever close the door, a now aging potty trained dog who must go outside at 3am, a rain storm, a wind storm, a marital storm, body aches, heartache, a debt, the cost of college, your emails, your undone to-do list, your checkbook balance, your work/life balance, your diet, your bills, your memory loss, things you want to forget but keep remembering, your retirement fund or lack thereof, your kids, your friends, your kids' friends, your husband or wife, your boss, your husband's or wife's boss, your parents, your health, your parents health and of course, the fear that you won't fall back asleep in time to not feel like a zombie the next day! Almost makes you yearn back to the days of puking kids, doesn't it?

So in the spirit of uniting in our lives' craziness, just know that you're not alone in your insomniac's quest for a good night's sleep. And if we can't remember each other's names on the school yard, or show up to each other's house one week early for a planned play date, one hour late for a birthday party or we've sent our spouse to the wrong sports field at the wrong time for our child's soccer game (yes, I am guilty of all of these infractions, and then some!) we can not get offended (or lose any more sleep!) but instead laughingly chalk it up to trying to survive yet another day after an unsuccessful, middle-aged quest in search of a good night's sleep...

And just in case you were wondering, I finally did fall back asleep the other night around 3:30am but then woke up in a sweat to an early morning dream of arriving at a resort in Cancun, Mexico for a long-planned, pre-paid family vacation only to find out that in my sleep-deprived, mistake-prone state I had read the fine print incorrectly on the Expedia page and "all-inclusive" did not actually include any drinks! Talk about a middle-aged nightmare! 

Wishing you all sweet dreams until next time...

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Crazy Hamster Wheel of Mommyhood...

Now I know all you moms out there can relate to feeling a bit out of control of your life sometimes… Case in point, last weekend I showed up with kids in tow 2 hours early to a birthday party! Imagine the mom’s surprise to see me in her doorway (feeling punctual and organized, of course!) with present in hand and Evan ready to party at 10am when her party didn’t start until noon! Since everything was very calm and no one else was there, I clearly sensed something was amiss! “The party does start at 10, doesn’t it?” I sheepishly asked as her son eagerly took the present out of Evan’s hand. She smiled understandingly as she answered, one crazed mom to another, and I quickly realized I had written it down wrong in the once fail-safe calendar system that runs my life. Garbage in, garbage out, right?! The fail-safe system doesn’t work if mommy’s brain cells are decreasing by the minute!

So let me first of all wish you and your family a Happy Belated Mother’s Day! Because you know that we all try to do it all and often make mistakes or arrive 2 hours early to a party as we juggle our family’s lives, do the laundry, figure out what’s for dinner (even if it’s eggs or cereal sometimes), clean the kitchen and bathrooms (again!), sign everyone up for everything so they don’t miss out on anything, (God forbid!), drive them to everything everywhere, do the grocery shopping at 5 different stores to make our mostly organic budget stretch, decide at what point the cheese stick or gogurt can be put back in the fridge if it’s been the lunchbox all day (what is the call on that?!), bark orders to get them ready for school, make sure homework is done and taken to school the next day and/or drive it to school after drop-off because you feel bad it was laying on the counter amidst the 50 other coloring papers and of course he didn’t see it, tie or untie shoes, manage screen time, playdates, arguments, moods (including our own), careers and shoes (does anyone put them away?!) and try and go to bed each night feeling like you’ve done everything or anything well!

I commend all of us for running this crazy hamster wheel of mommyhood each day, since we know in our hearts that when we first joyously saw that positive blue mark on the pregnancy test we had absolutely no idea what we were signing up for and could never foresee that a career change, although we may sometimes long for it, is not in the cards! For there are those days when the kids are grumpy, blaming everything on you and won’t stop bickering when you wish you had signed up for something else entirely, like traveling Europe with a backpack or living on a tropical island as a care-free waitress with a special friend named Brad…

And then, in the midst of all the chaos, you have your “MOMMY MOMENT“; your daughter, out of nowhere, comes up to give you a hug and tell you how much she loves you and you understand from the bottom of your heart how pure and unconditional that love is. Or your concerned son‘s face lights up when he sees you walking towards him in the morning school line as he realizes that you didn‘t leave without saying goodbye after all, and you realize that you being there to say goodbye really does make a difference to him. Or your 11-year old, who is almost as big as you are, still wants to sit in your lap, give you a hug and kiss and ask for a trip to Target… Okay, so maybe they aren’t all tear-jerking mommy moments!

And so we realize on any given day that the positive blue mark was only the beginning of a lifetime of pushing and pulling, swelling and contraction, and daily joy, fear, anger, excitement and sheer determination needed to not only give birth, but to be the great moms we all are. So I hope you had a relaxing day! Now get back on that wheel!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"What I Am Not; A Primer to RePurposing Your Mid-Mommyhood Life"

Well, I knew it had been much too long since I've posted to my Blog when I tried to log in to my account and realized that I had totally forgotten my password; I guess that speaks to both my incredibly bad mid-life memory unaided by daily ginseng supplements and the fact that as I nervously stare at this blank page, I realize that along with a couple of other big decisions I need to make, I have avoided writing a new post simply because I've let the daily current of my life provide me with both excuses and inertia, that deadly combination killer of successful goal achievement and probably the reason why personal coaches stay in business!

And needless to say, I also didn't figure out what color my parachute is (please refer to my last post in yes, April!), as I continue to struggle along with my fellow 40-something moms that stepped off their career ladder 10+ years ago to be home with their young children and now realize as they pleadingly ask their middle school sons they have waited for all day if they want you to fix them a snack or a sandwich as they walk through the front door and right past you to their room that it's really time to re-purpose my life! But I guess on the bright side, even though I didn't exactly find my ultimate "calling" this summer as I thought I would, I did find out some of the things I'm definitely NOT meant to be.

For instance, I can tell you with certainty that there is no way I could be a nurse, unless, of course, Nurse Ratched from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was the role model! That realization came upon me in early May, when my husband, Troy, had full knee replacement surgery and I was put into the role of said caring nurse for several weeks. It was during this period of sleepless nights (both of us), staring out the window all day in a drug-induced stupor (him) and running up and down the stairs 100 times a day to make ice for the ice machine, spill ice and/or water all over the kitchen floor trying to fill the ice machine, crush ice with a hammer until I got blisters so I didn't have to spend a small fortune and make daily trips to the store to buy ice (me) and losing all my compassion as I ran out of ice for my gin and tonic and wondered when the hell he was going to get out of bed and help me with the kids already!

Now with all due respect to anyone who has had to provide long-term care for a loved one, it wasn't like I had to change his diaper or anything, but I'm pretty sure that if anything ever happened and it got to that point, I would be the wife/nurse you read about who "accidentally" tipped her husband's wheelchair over the Grand Canyon on a strategically planned family vacation! (Just kidding dear, for better or worse, right?)

Another career I have decided to take a break from and realized over the summer that I could never be permanently, much to the dismay of my Olympic-hopeful kids, is perpetual "Swim Team Mom", which if you watched any of those Olympic athlete back stories, you know is a full-time career that does not really pay very well. Now, for those of you who have never had the privilege of being a parent of children who swim competitively, please note that summer swim league is a 3-1/2 month period which begins in May with hauling kids to and from their respective age group practices from 6pm to 9pm, making family dinners, coherent homework time and any other activity virtually impossible to plan.

The other highlights include but are not limited to washing towels and swim suits, buying healthy swimmer food to try and satisfy appetites borne of swimming hundreds of laps each day, looking for lost goggles, caps and suits, buying or borrowing new goggles, caps and suits, preparing for swim meets that are 6-8 hour events twice a week for the entire month of July, trying to keep them indoors and rested for the first 6 hours of a beautiful day before each meet without driving each other and/or you crazy, packing a cooler full of yes, ice! with food and Gatorade and water, packing another bag full of towels, swim gear, folding chairs, and everything else you may need for a 6-8 hour event and loading it into the car to drive a half hour to the away pool, and then trying to keep yourself and your  kids located in a swarm of hundreds so they don't miss their event, warm (June-mid-July), cool (mid-July - Aug), hydrated, fed nutritiously, calm, organized, with goggles, cap and suit, motivated and not mad at you if they lose, gracious if they win, and then load everything back up again with now 100-pounds of wet towels, and then all of you put to bed at a decent hour so they can get up and do it all again. And all while staying non-neurotic about your kids coaches, abilities and your own old dreams of being an Olympic swimmer... So you can see, Professional Swim Team mom I clearly am not!

After swim team season and a couple of camping trips, we got to mid-August, and I realized with both horror and excitement that school was starting again in a few weeks. I don't think I have to explain excitement, but the horror was at at all the things I didn't accomplish that I swore I would this year, like go through all the kids' notebooks and projects in June that still sat in my pantry in September and all the math fact sheets I was going to do with my daughter still in their neat, copied pile in the kitchen drawer along with my best intentions of doing educational outings and writing projects with all the kids.

So I realized that even though I still want my kids around so I can be a mom, "Homeschooler" is yet another "what I am not" job for me and I would quickly join the ranks of other moms with their home-schooled children that I see at Target during the day, getting their math lesson by adding up the total cost of a new purse, band-aids and a bag of Cascadian Valley chips! (Just kidding, I know all you real home-schoolers do a great job!)

Today, now that my public school kids are happily in their educational mobile pods, I'm trying to figure out whether I can be a real, in-school Teacher and/or a real, published Writer. And in order to do so, my husband, having successfully survived my stint as a nurse, promised me that if I can get some of my writings published to pay the $40,000 tuition I need for a Master's Degree, (I guess I forgot to open up that 529 Plan for myself!) then I can fulfill my current dreams for repurposing my mid-life mommy-hood into whatever I want...

In the interim, I'm working as a paid tutor for my kids' school three days a week to determine if this current dream. And despite the fact that my oldest son earns more per hour as a Soccer ref coordinator than I do (once again, that BA in Advertising coming in handy!) and that I'm working with college grads that are young enough to be my older kids, I'm having a blast watching the teachers, getting to know the kids and listening to responses like "Well, my sister told me this one, but she said I can't tell you because it's a secret" when I point to a letter of the alphabet and ask a Kindergartener what it is. Hilarious! At the very least, I'm sure to get some great material for my next posting, right?!

As always, thanks for all your support and I'll let you know when I get published. In the meantime, please feel free to share your own stories of "what you are not" or what you have become in your own quest to repurpose your mid-mommyhood life! And if you'd like to stop by after school, I can definitely make you a sandwich!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flying Untethered in Mid-Life Space: What Color Is My Landing Gear?

Remember that book that came out back in the the early 70's; What Color is Your Parachute? As a chubby 8-year old living on the east coast, the only color I really cared about at the time was the cream filling in a Twinkie or the fruit in a "snack" pie! (With 19 grams of fat per pie, no wonder I was chubby!) But today, living in the mostly organic Northwest and well-beyond my years of hydrogenated oil bliss, my struggle has gone from figuring out how many Hostess products I could sneak after school to figuring out who I am or want to be during the time that my kids are in school!

And as I thought about finding our old copy of the "Parachute" book for answers so I wouldn't start eating Twinkies again to fill the void, I realized that there really should be a wider selection of versions of self-help books that are a little more relevant to today's countless middle-aged men and women like me who have stepped off their major career ladders before reaching the top to focus on their once younger and needier children and are now possibly struggling to redefine themselves during that seemingly vacant mid-life space between the hours of nine and three.

So I've come up with my own list of self-help books that I think should be written for this phase in our lives when the stroller rides to the park during the day have given way to carpools to Little League practice at night. These books would be dedicated to the many important middle-aged roles we play each day as stay-at-home or working parent, son or daughter, friend, spouse, aging athlete, and wannabe entrepreneur just trying to find some joy in our lives and make it all work.

"How to Win Friends and Influence People You Didn't Grow Up or Go to College With": This book would be for those of us that are living in an urban neighborhood in which we were not raised or college-educated and would teach us how to be interesting in social gatherings without having gone to the UW (or any other predominant alma mater), when it is appropriate to wear either Lululemon, Under Armour or college colors, depending on the social event you would like to be invited to and most importantly, explain the subtle differences between driving a Prius, minivan, Saab, Volvo, BMW, Sequoia, Lexus, Subaru or Suburban, again, depending on the social event you would like to be invited to...

"In My Forties and Lovin' It": This book would help us embrace the idea of wearing reading glasses to play "Words with Friends" on your Iphone, provide local lists of the best over-50 select soccer and basketball leagues in your area in case you want to "play up" and would include an index in the back for the best places to find knee wraps, painkillers, medical marijuana and the top local surgeons when all else fails...

"How to be a Good Parent Without Acting Like a Child or Going Into Therapy": This book would teach you how to remain patient and not throw an inner child tantrum when your son or daughter loses the $100 dollar pair of shoes you thought would last them through the school year and then acts like it's no big deal, tracks cleat mud all over the floor you just swept or yells at you because you forgot to buy the kind of conditioner that they like for their hair. The index, however, would include the names and numbers of local therapists as well as a space to write in your parents' phone number so you can call to either complain, say you're sorry, or ask them if they can pay for your therapy now since college didn't really work out as planned...

"Finding Joy in the Mundane": This book would teach us how to celebrate the daily sense of satisfaction we should get from filling and emptying the dishwasher, doing the laundry, shopping for dinner items, racking your brain for dinner ideas, and picking up 20 pairs of shoes and socks each day by cranking up Bob Marley on your Ipod and it would remind us to NEVER play Coldplay or Pink Floyd on a rainy day while doing these tasks. This index also includes the numbers for local therapists, just in case you do...

"Today's Marriage and Social Media" This would remind us that all the pictures posted on your old high school or college flame's Facebook page are really just a mirage and that their life is not really more exciting than yours. In fact, he or she is most likely dealing with just as many issues in their mid-life as you are, so do not, I repeat, do not "poke" them because you are bored! The index would also include names of local therapists...

"Dating for Families: Writing the Perfect Craig's List Personal Ad: This book would teach us that dating isn't just for singles anymore. There are plenty of lonely families out there looking for the perfect match and would give us examples of personal ads you can post like: FSF/Wanted, well-behaved parents and children to spend occasional weekends together for a barbecue or camping trip. Must have exactly three children matching the gender and ages of the following: boy-12, boy-10 and girl-8. Must not swear or use the phrase "that sucks" repeatedly in conversations. Must have knowledge and/or interest of subjects outside of their college, smartphone or children's academic or athletic success, and most of their emotional baggage sorted out. Children must say please and thank you and should be well-adjusted and able to carry on a conversation with adults beyond grunts, vacant stares or one-word answers. Smoking or strong personal opinions on any given subject and/or excessive public displays of affection discouraged as they usually are a sign of dysfunction... Please forward your resume and references if interested....

And my all-time favorite, of course, "Flying Untethered in Mid-Life Space: What Color is My Landing Gear?: This book would provide a short questionnaire that upon answering would tell you exactly how to earn money and find intellectually stimulating meaning and purpose in your 40's within the school hours of 9am and 3pm with rewarding activities that do not include the words classroom volunteer, cleaning the bathroom, nap, doctor's appointment, boot camp, Oprah, Target, Starbucks, Facebook, tee time or "is it too early to have a beer or glass of wine?!" Now that would be a best-seller, don't you think?!

Please let me know how you fill your mid-life space when you get a chance; if I don't answer, I'm probably eating a Twinkie and watching Oprah! Until next time...

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Year's Resolutions; I Promise To Start Next Month!

Okay, so I know it's already almost March and I am way behind on my blog postings. The irony is that one of my biggest 2012 resolutions made right after my entire family and I plunged ourselves into the freezing waters of Lake Washington for our first annual polar bear plunge was to write a new post every 2 weeks and let's see, that was about, hmmm, only 7 weeks ago!

But you know how that goes, I was either working on all my other really important life goals that I failed to accomplish last year and made it back on the list or I was homeschooling my kids since sending them to Seattle Public schools means that they are home at least one week plus several days each month for your entertainment and enjoyment...

Oh, and there was that week of snow we had. I have to admit that was fun and I happily jumped on one of our $40 piece of foam sleds purchased at the last minute like everyone else and managed to not break my arm or any other significant body part as I rolled on top of my daughter frantically trying to not hit the curb on the downhill NE 62nd luge that had formed by day three! I noticed a couple of moms and kids the week after that were not so lucky!

So since I am so overdue let me first of all wish you a Happy 2012 and I hope your holidays were filled with love and laughter. And if you are still one of the houses that has their Christmas lights on each night, well c'mon, get over it; the cherry blossoms are blooming!

So here are my Top 7 Promises to Myself aka My Resolutions for 2012 that I think will make me a better person this year, that is, unless....

1. I promise to not get stressed out or guilt-ridden every time I get a new email or flyer offering me another amazing Lake Kayaking, Masters Art School, French as a third language, Lego robot-building, Early Physicists or SAT/College Prep for 4th thru 6th graders course that my kids aren't currently taking along with their swim team, piano, Cub Scouts, Brownies, snowboarding, basketball, ultimate frisbee, violin, math club and Magic the Gathering activities they already have! Although I am sure I can finally put my college education to good use and somehow squeeze another 30 minutes out of our week somewhere!

2. I promise to eat more healthily by finding new recipes for organic sea weed and parsnips and paying $20 for the relaxed, free-roaming chicken and its beautiful brown eggs and either find or invent an organic deoderant that doesn't leave me smelling like a barnyard on a rainy day by 6pm!

3. I promise to try and be the mom I want to be when I wake up so I can screw my kids up just incrementally less than I'm screwed up; you know, that mom with 19 well-adjusted kids that home schools all of them and smiles as she speaks in a really soft and happy voice all the time. That would be instead of the crazed mom I seem to impersonate by 6pm, around the time my organic deoderant stops working and I'm walking around in confusion trying to listen to a measly 3 kids all talking to me at once about anything that pops into their head as I try and fix snacks, make dinner and not get mad about the $6 gallon of organic milk that just got spilled at the same time! (No, I did not make them lick it off the table, but I thought about it!)

4. I promise to send back all the nickels and dimes this year that the Paralyzed Veterans of America send me every month along with 100 more address labels that I can't seem to use quickly enough and I don't have the heart to throw away because I might need them one day. Don't they know that it's all about e-socializing and e-pay now and nobody even writes letters anymore?! I guess I need to write and let them know...

5. I promise to either meditate, do yoga, Sudoku or a crossword puzzle each day so that I no longer mindlessly try and open the front door of my house by pressing on my car's remote key button, wondering why it isn't opening, forget that I put a quesadilla for my son in the oven about an hour ago or annoy my kids because I can't ever remember who likes Blue Doritos in their lunch and who doesn't!

6. I promise to try and not be that uber-competitive mom who yells "TRY NOT TO BREATHE!!!!" at her 7-year old son (yes, it's on tape...) as he races down the pool lane, convinced that the pride in his winning this one race is somehow a reflection of what a great mom I am... (I know, sad, but true...)

7. And finally, I promise to write a blog post every 2 weeks and to not use so many exclamation points! And I promise to start next month!

Enjoy your weekend and if you've got any great resolutions, I'd love to hear them! I'll be back in a couple of weeks, I promise!