Category Archives: kids

Eye Contact.

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Eye Contact.

I think we are all aware of how important eye contact truly is.

In some cultures it is considered rude to not make direct eye contact.

It would seem untrustworthy in a job interview to not be able to make eye contact with your prospective employer/employee…

If I were on a date, I might find it odd and unnerving if my date couldn’t make eye contact…or even trying to talk with a loved one or friend about some topic I was concerned about…it could lead me to think they thought otherwise of what I was saying, or knew more about the topic than they let on.

Regardless of the circumstance, eye contact is important.

And it seems to bug me a lot lately.

It’s not my husband…he is a pro at eye contact…at holding one’s attention when speaking…albeit a little long-winded, but able to hold his audience’s attention.

Especially with my kids.

Not my older kids…I know when they don’t make eye contact with me, it’s because they are up to no good…and can call them out on it before they can blink.

I have such guilt about my lack of eye contact…with my little ones.

It’s me.

I know I spend 99% of my days with them. I wake them, feed them, help dress them, entertain them read to them…but rarely look them in the eye.

Just typing that hurts.

I am consumed with NOT making eye contact with them…with doing the necessities so I can go back to what I want to do- whether its daily chores, work, painting, reading an article, grocery shopping or just zoning out on social media (the worst of it all)…I feel as though if I make direct eye contact with these precious little faces, they will suck me in…I will never get anything done. I will have to play Barbie’s or a board game or matchbox cars, or color…God forbid I stoop to their level and interact with them in their world…yet I expect them to behave at all times in my adult world of rules, chores, grocery shopping, work and Twitter updates.

I am ashamed. But I am guilty of this.

I will occasionally succumb to the world of all things imaginary, but after doing it with the older kids, and faced with doing it for another five to ten years, I feel deflated…defeated. Like…”when the hell is it gonna be about me?” kind of feeling. Or I get that charming reminder from family or friends that we CHOSE to have more babies later in life…

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Marley attempting to hold her almost 11 pound baby brother, Chance, five years ago.

Yes, we did ( what can I say…we like each other…a lot!).

And I will own that choice. But I am no good to my babies, old or young, if I am defeated and deflated.

I guess I can’t look them in the eye because of this…my guilty feeling that I feel like I deserve more time to myself because I already did this for twenty past twenty years…I am tired, beaten down and older…

But I promise those sweet little faces in my picture above, that they will have more of my attention. I selfishly want time to belong to me, but their time as little ones is so short…

I will promise them to look them in the eye each day, and tell them I adore them, and ask them what they want to do with me…that may open a can of worms, but it is the job I signed on for, and the guilt is too much to bare some days…so…

I promise I will be a better mother, mommy… a better me. I will look all of my loved ones in the eye and remember why we became a family in the first place.

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Snapshots.

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Snapshots.

After very little sleep last night, I decided to take a quick cat nap this morning after getting the kids off to school. Knowing I have a long full day ahead, I usually cannot nap and don’t like to, but thought it was necessary.

I closed my eyes and immediately had a dark sensation overwhelm me. I thought how lucky I was to be afforded this time, and also how peaceful it was at that very moment, but how quickly things can change in an instant.

After a stressful morning and short fuse, I really needed this rest. But my peaceful moment was now being flooded with memories swirling like snapshots in photographs…

Within seconds I was there again…so clear and vivid…so chilling.

My mind was telling me a story again that I think about occasionally, but always on this day…every year…for eight years.

The time span of these snapshots this morning was not even thirty seconds maybe, but enough (coming fast and furious) to bring me to tears and wide awake.

The hotel lobby…the room…the smells…the pool…our luggage…

There were no cat naps or resting now.

I remembered the dark room in the spa. The knock on the door. The annoyance visibly spread over the masseuse’s face. No one ever interrupts a massage.

This was my moment of relaxation after several days in Disney with family-we finally planned it right…de-stressing from a whirlwind five days in Disney, now in Clearwater at a quiet hotel on the water.

The de-stressing never happened.

The car ride to Clearwater was more stressful than the visiting of the parks…the children were tired and cranky. We became tired and cranky…we should have just headed home.

But after several trips to Disney, we saved for this treat, knowing we always wished to find some chill out time after long full, yet fun days in the parks.

The following morning after we arrived in Clearwater, I was treated to a massage-a little Mommy pampering (maybe a belated birthday gift from a few weeks prior?), then back to the husband and kiddies for some beach or pool time…whatever we wanted at our own pace…we were relaxing…finally.

The knock on the door during my massage immediately made me think something was wrong with the kids, or maybe my husband’s 98 year old Grandmother back home who wasn’t well before we left…

The girl at the door told the masseuse it was an emergency and I needed to find my husband right away.

I quickly got dressed and found my phone buzzing away and noticed several missed calls from back home…oh shit.

What on Earth is going on????

I walked back into the vast lobby and see my husband charging down the stairs white as a ghost…where are my babies?

What is going on?

My husband was running to the car to search for his cell phone after getting a call in the room from a friend back home…

It’s gone…all gone.

Our home burned, not to the ground…but everything is gone…

The rest of the story now leaves me in tears as I write this…the hysterics on our children’s faces as we tell them what happened…

Their toys, their clothes, pictures…everything…their stuffed animals and trophies…their beds…

Where will we go?

What will we do?

The nightmare trip home of begging to get on a flight…only to have it delayed overnight because birds flew in the engine…

Are you frigging kidding me??

Why? Why now? How much more bad karma can one family take?

It could be worse, we were told…after almost 24 hours trying to get home, then arriving to family and friends covered in soot with tired eyes and heavy hearts…

These snapshots will haunt us forever.

We rebuilt a stronger and safer home…our family and community surrounded us with love and food and shelter and clothing…even Halloween decorations to cheer up our girls…

We came out of it all that much stronger…

When we feel weak and can bare no more, we remember these snapshots as I did this morning from eight years ago today, they lift us up and tell us we can and we will be stronger.

 

October 20, 2008

“Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. Strength comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t”- Unknown

 

 

Selfish.

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Selfish.

I would like to be selfish.

I want to sleep in till seven…or eight. I want to sit in peace and quiet and sip my coffee.

I want to figure out where to begin my day…do I put on yoga pants and take a class, or go for a long walk?

I want to say no to the class, and get myself dolled up and go shopping and get my nails done if I so choose.

Or maybe take out my painting clothes, and go get dirty out back and be creative on a piece of furniture.

I want to be selfish.

I want to not worry about making lunches or what’s for dinner, or laundry that needs to be done and folded and put away.

I want to not worry about dusting or vacuuming or dirty bathrooms.

I want  to not worry who has what activity after school and how I will pick everyone up on time.

I want to not worry about college kids that need supplies packed up, rides back to campus, and more spending money.

I want to not worry about late night phone calls or texts from a homesick college student who misses us desperately.

I want to not wake up ten times during the night by little ones coming in to sleep in my bed, then kicking me through the night.

If only…

Well, I am allowed to be selfish…today.

I have been granted that wish today…

My Mother-in-law has come to my aid.

I have another week of 24/7 parenting until my husband returns home. I am told to go do whatever I want…all day. And yet I have no clue what to do with myself…and no desire to be that jerk I talk about above…my selfish lists are thoughts tucked away in my brain of all these little things that annoy me on a daily basis-that make me want to be this obnoxious uncaring person. They are just wishful thinking when I cannot deal for another second with countless lists of mundane tasks day in and day out.

 I know others have it way worse, but I am an overwhelmed mother of five sick kids with pneumonia-all healed or healing, with countless doctor visits, and charts of who gets what medicine/breathing treatments and how and when I can get everyone back to school and activities and healthy again…on top of the meals and laundry and dishes…I am officially overwhelmed.

So I am being selfish today for a little bit.

I will take these few hours to vent  on this blog, and go wander aimlessly around a store, and maybe even buy something for myself…but that’s about it.

I have definitely lost myself in life and all that goes with it. I crave knowledge and being creative again.

But I don’t really and truly want to be that selfish woman. I will never be that woman…other than the one who puts on her painting clothes and goes out back with paint and sander in hand. Or write a blog about everyday boring life events…that is me.  

My time will come someday soon to have all day to do whatever I want, and the kids won’t need me as much and there will be fewer messes to clean…so I will take these few hours today to be a little selfish, to reflect on my tough days to appreciate the good ones, and remember how precious these days are with my growing family, as overwhelming as they can be…

This is my life.

I will be selfish…just for today.

The Choice.

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The Choice.

Warning…many will take offense. Some will hate me. Or pretend they do not know me anymore. Some will even pity me…

That is THEIR choice.

It was about ninety degrees on June 1, 1991. It felt like 110 in the shade as I lay on the steaming hot pavement in my own vomit…retching. Sobbing.

I will never forget this day…ever.

It was a few weeks before I was barely about to graduate high school. I had just fooled them all at my senior prom. I could have kept up the facade for a little longer…but I didn’t have a choice, I was told this was the only way out…

As an adult now, I realize I did have a choice.

But when you run away from home, or get kicked out and are reliant on others…you feel like you have no choice.

I woke up on the table after being sedated, in the midst of it all…the loud noise, the lights, the people hovering over me.

I believe that is the moment that haunts me the most…waking, even groggy still from sedation, knowing what was happening. More so than the cowardly way I slumped in my chair in the waiting room before it began…wondering if the others were feeling the same way as me.

I cried myself to sleep in the back of the car, begging for fresh air to cool my face, covered in dried vomit and tears.

Somehow I managed to make it to my bed, and awakened hours later…pain so bad I could tear my own heart out…not physical pain so much, but because it was my heart that was aching…

And the empty feeling in my belly. I clawed at my stomach screaming to make this madness stop. To undo what had happened.

Next thing, I am given a Valium…out cold again.

I was in a dark place mentally back then…before this all happened.

It was literally my first time…and then I was pregnant. A senior in high school. An aspiring fashion designer. A child who just wanted her divorced parents’ love and for them to stop fighting.

Well, this got their attention alright. They found out a while later…they shed no tears for me…just more anger and pain. I was ashamed. I kept my story to myself… I was absolved of my sin by a priest after my family found out. Time to forget it forever…put it behind me.

SHAME.

I live with this every second of every day.

I couldn’t put it behind me. Even as life moved on.

But in no way shape or form, did life fill the void in my belly...in my heart.

Did I want a child at eighteen? No…I had no clue what I would have done. But there is not one day since June 1, 1991 that I do not think of him…I know in my heart it was a boy.

I swore God would never allow me to be happy again…my Catholic guilt growing larger everyday.

God was good enough to let me heal enough to graduate and temporarily mend things with my family…but I knew that he would punish me. The little girl in me said I would never be a mommy because of what I did that day.

Almost five years later, I was granted a gift. After almost losing my baby and  my life during my pregnancy, God gave us a beautiful baby girl…I lost an ovary through it all, but I felt like I had truly been absolved…that there was a God and that I had to suffer a little to finally appreciate what I had.

And I did. Life was challenging then, but I had this beautiful baby and thought I would never have any more after losing an ovary and all that my body went through to deliver her safely. And yet I was given a second chance… 

I had to embrace it.

Three more amazingly beautiful children later and almost nineteen years of a happy marriage with a husband who has heard this all and held me as I cried over and over, and I feel like God forgave me…but why am I still not forgiving myself? Is it that Catholic guilt or shame? Or simply because it truly wasn’t my choice?

I cringe everytime I read an article on this topic. I cry. I mourn. I had a choice. Maybe I made the wrong one, but my life would be very different today if I had fought back and said to them that  I had a choice in the matter.

He didn’t love me…and I didn’t love him.

Yes I was a fool…but I was just looking for love after years of being lost and made a terrible mistake.

I will never tell anyone to rid the world of abortion… There. I said it.

Abortion.

It is an ugly word. Our world has made it ugly.

But what about that girl who is raped or molested?

What about the girl like me?

What would I have done?

I would have been sent packing to live on the streets pregnant and alone…fearful of what my very catholic family would say…or maybe worse…maybe I would have killed myself or attempted to from the deep depression and shame that was setting in.

Or maybe turn to adoption…but that was never an option for some reason and I was too naive to think these things through as an eighteen year old fighting the world and everyone in it.

Do I believe that maybe I could have beaten the odds?

Found the strength to fight back and keep my child?

Found a way to finish school and pursue my dreams as an artist?

Make it work?

Hell yeah…I thought that an hour ago, and last week, or last summer when I almost had a nervous breakdown about the lie I have lived with for so long.

I know girls that did beat the odds and persevered alone with their child…yes, they have struggled to make ends meet and finish school and find love again while raising a child alone…

Some will say I gave up too easily.

Shame on me.

But even more shame for hiding it…it is part of who I am…he was part of me and will forever be my fifth child…my first. I ache for him, as any mother would over a child lost…even more so when I see how cruel life can be and take our loved ones away in an instant.

So why voluntarily do it?

My eighteen year old self said she did it because it was the only way out and because they told her to.

My Forty-something year old self says it was the shame and guilt that the scared girl couldn’t bare to face.

She did though. Faced all of it…

Took countless blows to the chin, and then when the dust settled, tucked her dirty little secret away…until now.

We all have choices in this life…and we have to live with the consquences each and everyday.

I feel that hot pavement from that day on my face twenty-four years ago like I  am living that moment now…it was a choice…one that will follow me like a dark cloud till the day I die.

Judge me, hate me, pray for me.

Do whatever you like. But I will not lie or hide this part of me anymore. My older girls know my story now. As a lesson to make better choices…but no one should make those choices for you…no one.

Today I honor the love that I lost, and all that I have gained…most importantly…

Truth.

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I smile today…I am owning this. My first ever tattoo…proudly wearing a badge forever of all my babies…four born, one lost, and one gained.

Hugs.

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Hugs.

I am a Mother of six.

I carried five, gave birth to four, and love one unconditionally as one of my own.

I am not perfect. 

I am, on most days, a scarred and bitter person. I can hide it well…sometimes.

But on this very day, all that matters, is that I am a Mother.

I feel urged to write this to a younger confused generation, with too much information at their fingertips, not enough social interactions, and way too many emotions pent up that seem to bring anger and resentment to the world around them…

And not enough hugs.

We had dinner the other night with some family, and ended it with me bringing up the “Twenty Second Rule” of hugs…which gloriously ended in enough hugs to make all of us leave the restaurant with content bellies and warm hearts with big smiles on our faces…

Because it works.

But is not happening enough anymore in our world…we are all guilty of too much “me” time…maybe grabbing some extra Facebook time, or binging on a favorite t.v. series, or spa and gym days…

Don’t get me wrong, these are all essential for us to stay mentally healthy and balanced within ourselves…but some days, we may overlook something…our duties as parents…we need to put our needs aside for even just twenty seconds…

I challenge you…PLEASE…go to your child right now and tap them on the shoulder, as they are staring at a cellphone, t.v. or laptop screen….and jolt them out of this…

Tell them you need to talk. As they rise to go to talk with you, take them in your arms and hold them…for twenty seconds…or more…then tell them you are sorry…that no job, or t.v. show or phone call is more important than this…holding this child in your arms and remembering all those moments that brought you here…tell them you love them, and that they can tell you anything, no matter what…

Mothers…we come in all shapes and sizes, colors, genders and no matter what..our babies need us. Our duty is to them right now, and forever…

Today is a day for our children to celebrate us, but without them, there would be nothing to celebrate…So grab your babies/toddlers/teens/grown children/fur babies and tell them you love them and start squeezing.

Twenty second hugs are good enough.

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Tired.

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Tired.

I am whooped.

All the time.

I am pretty sure the only time I ever sit is to go to the bathroom or write a blog.

From 5:30-ish (depending on how many times I can hit snooze without causing a panic attack) in the morning, until I lay down with my little ones at 8:30 at night…I do not stop moving. I keep expecting to pass by a mirror and see a Cindy Crawford type body…

But it is still me…

Frazzled, droopy-eyed, flabby me.

That’s okay…I have slightly accepted middle age…minus my thinning hair, constant confusion, stress, and of course…exhaustion.

I do not ever remember being so tired before kids. I know I do not sleep well, but never have since I was little.

Even when I worked seven days a week at two jobs and then went out late to the bars with friends, I was not this tired.

I know I hear many people swear that a nice glass of wine or cocktail can help with a good night’s sleep…not working on this lady! Even two or three sometimes have zero effect on this mommy.

I pump myself full of vitamins and supplements daily, eat better than ever…

Except for my terrible addiction to pork roll.

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Maybe I should just accept that the ten minute cat nap occasionally as I get my toddler to nap, or the twenty minutes of dozing off as I try to read a book to the little ones at bedtime, is all I really need at this point in my life.

I read once that Martha Stewart only sleeps like four hours a night…I could handle that. 

I could get ALL the laundry done AND folded, make lunches, dust, answer emails, write a blog more than once a week, prep meals…just no vacuuming…that wouldn’t be fair to a house full of peacefully sleeping kids and hubby.

Maybe even slowly build an empire based on early morning crafts/baking/organizing…

Or maybe not.

I don’t want to be up at four in the morning anymore than any other mom reading this…

I would love peace and quiet occasionally, and less clutter, AND sleep…

But I will settle for maybe five or six hours tonight since I just got the laundry all done AND put away, vacuumed (half the house), and cleaned up dinner ALL before bedtime…

I deserve that extra half hour of slumber tonight.

And hitting snooze a few times.