Saturday, March 30, 2013

Oh right, the Easter Bunny.

There is no fucking Easter least not in our household.

Screw Pinterest and you creative people that are celebrating with natural-dyed eggs, solid chocolate bunnies and pastel-colored outfits you've bought for your children. Really, my kids are lucky I remembered to snag a few items to put in their baskets. And thank God their grandmother supplemented our treats with some traditional finds (chocolate bunny, malted chocolate eggs).

My daughter is asking questions about the Easter bunny and Santa Claus, and she's smart people, really really smart. Our baskets are upstairs and empty and today they helped me shred some construction paper and newspaper with which to line the baskets. Yeah, that sounds pretty "green" of me and it looks hip but it makes a fucking mess. The story I'm going with is not much of a story at all- we reuse our baskets year to year, we brought them up a week ago and they've remained empty. Story goes here that they're empty until Mom & Dad fill them the night before. Yes, that's right. We're forgoing the Easter Bunny myth.

Seriously, the Easter Bunny?! What a stupid story and I don't think my kids will miss out if we just tell them it's stupid fuckin' story that's being perpetuated by lying parents everywhere. Okay, we won't go that far. But after months of talking about Santa (yes, of course HE exists. I'm not totally lame.) I just don't have it in me to talk about a fucking bunny who visits our homes just to leave us with candy and, coincidentally, Target $1 Spot finds,  all in the name of Easter.

Tomorrow, when my precious children wake, they will find their baskets filled (okay, that is an overstatment... I better shred some more paper to fill the gaps) and we will celebrate the day with church (I'm holy, people, haven't you ascertained this by now?!), a shared meal (even that I sort of forgot about) and Easter baskets. It will be a great day, a great day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Feeling beautiful.

Watching my daughter look at herself in the mirror this morning brought such a smile to my face. I had just pulled her hair up into a ponytail sitting on top of her head (as requested), and she went to the mirror to see how it looked. This huge grin appeared as she admired how she looked. She said, “I look beautiful,”and headed out the door.

I look beautiful.

When is the last time I looked at myself in the mirror and genuinely thought I look good without adding, except... to the end of it. It’s been awhile, I suppose. And why is that? For all you honest assholes out there you might list out what you think is un-beautiful about me, but I’m not paying any attention, you hear me?!

I look beautiful.

Hmmm, what does that mean? Is there a definition of beautiful and whose opinion truly counts? And moreover, why do I give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks?

I look beautiful.

Alright. I just said I look beautiful aloud in my writing space and I have to tell you, I didn’t exactly own it. No, I said it quietly because what if someone else hears me? I don’t know why this is so hard!? My six year old daughter can say it, own it and head off to school, whereas I feel wrong if I so much as whisper it to myself. If my daughter were to come to me and say, I don’t think I’m beautiful, I’d be so sad! I would listen to her all while wanting to hold her tight telling her you are beautiful! Then I’d list out the many reasons and hope that she sees herself as I see her. But I’m convinced that it’s not about being reassured of one’s beauty; no, it’s about FEELING beautiful. And that’s the issue. That’s the problem. What is the harm in FEELING beautiful?! Nothing. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing. Let’s let that shit go, people!

I’ll go first.

I feel beautiful because...

  • my hair looks really good today and it feels soft.
  • my belly is rounded and it’s getting stronger as I continue to practice yoga and Pilates.
  • the skin around my eyes crinkle when I smile.
  • my nose is defined and has this little flat spot on the bridge.
  • my breasts bring nourishment to my son and he loves to drink milk from them.
  • my legs are strong.
  • my smile makes these little lines appear and it makes me feel like I have dimples.
  • my arms are strong enough to hug my children tight.
  • my knee has a little scar on it from when I fell as a child.

I feel beautiful because I am beautiful. I am not flawless, I could not make a career in modeling high fashion, I would not be photographed for a fitness feature in a magazine. I don’t fit into my pre-pregnancy wardrobe. My eyes look tired and I have dark under-eye circles. I have cellulite and I feel a chin hair that needs to be plucked. My toenails have peeling nail polish that needs to be removed, and I have flat feet. I am all of this and more and that’s okay. It’s better than OKAY. I’m real and this is MY BODY. If I don’t love it, who will? Can I eat better, move more and wear sunscreen faithfully? Yes. But why wait to love my body until then? It is what it is. No one has to tell me I’m beautiful or reassure me that my body is worthy. Because I feel beautiful. And that’s all that counts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dear Children.

To my three children.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

I want only good to visit you and be with you, but I know you will have moments of bad, and in advance I want to tell you I'm here for you in those times of trouble.

I want you to feel love, to give love and to know love, intimately and without fear. I want you to know just how awesome and amazing and fabulous you are. But I don't want you to think you are faultless and perfect because that does not exist. And when you make a mistake or act like a shithead, I want you to apologize, because people like that, and it'll feel good in your heart to accept responsibility and to try to right your wrongs.

And when you're figuring out how to love someone, don't forget to love yourself. I might advise you not to put someone else's needs above your own, but there may be times when you want to put his needs first. But make sure your relationship fosters teamwork and taking turns.

Someday you will grow older and fall in love. When this happens, I will celebrate with you and smile as you talk about her and tell me how amazing she is. I will be excited when you share with me stories of your times together, and I will celebrate your growing relationship. But if she decides she doesn't want to be with you or you decide you don't want to be with her anymore, I will be there, showering you with my loving support. I will hold you as you cry or listen to you as you rant. And I'll feel for your heartache. I'll remind you that even though it hurts, that intense pain and sadness doesn't last forever. I promise.

I want you to feel passion but do not rely on passion to power you through a life-long relationship. It takes work and it takes communication and it takes respect. Find someone who will bring all of these things to your relationship.

Lastly, please, never be nervous to tell me about the man or woman who captures your heart. I will love you all the same and will welcome that person into our family regardless.

I love you. I love you. I love you.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Can you get me...

My husband hears me ask this question frequently, and while I like to mix up the language, it's generally a request to BRING ME SOMETHING.

Can you get me a drink? Can you bring me a diaper? Can you fix me a snack? 

There are times when I ask for something and I wanted it YESTERDAY and can't figure out why it's taking my husband SO FUCKING LONG to answer my request. For example, I asked my husband to fetch me the Nose Frida (a fabulous alternative to the shitty, ineffective bulb syringe that is literally given away with every newborn) this morning. I was laying with the baby (laying, lying?) on our bed, nursing my little snorty babe and I wanted to suction his nose. Instead of getting up to fetch the Nose Frida, I asked my dear husband to bring it to me. Get up while settled comfortably next to my nursing babe? I asked, he said "yes" and then....nothing. I listened to him walking around in the other room, all the while my baby is snorting his way through a feeding, getting sleepier and sleepier. I want to suction him before he falls asleep and where the fuck is my Nose Frida because our son is falling asleep and didn't you hear me ask for the stupid snot sucker-upper? I'm lying in bed (again, laying or lying? Why didn't I learn this?!) fuming and it feels like there is smoke billowing out of my ears.

I was feeling so angry. At that moment, I was so angry and pissed and suddenly all the things that have frustrated me in the past are zooming into my brain. Seriously, where is he? If I raise my voice to get his attention, I will bother this sweet child of mine. And if I get up, I'm going to disturb my son and he'll wake and cry. ALL I WANT TO DO IS GET HIS NOSE CLEARED AND LET THE KID FALL ASLEEP PEACEFULLY! 

In literally the two minutes it has been since I made the request, I'm pissed about baseboards that need to be repainted, our sidewalk that needs to be shoveled, and I'm wondering why I always have to be the one to clean out the motherfucking filter in our dishwasher. My blood pressure is rising and my once content mood has turned pretty sour all because my husband has forgotten to fulfill my one request. It'd be my luck he decided he was done with the busy-ness of our house and ran away from home.

And I have to tell you, just as quickly as my judgmental ways have overpowered my moment with my son, something comes over me and settles me. Thankful for having pressed pause on my escalating temper, I close my eyes. It has been a couple minutes and my son's eyes have closed. He finished nursing without the world collapsing. Yes, he's congested, but IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. Why do I have to act like everything is such a big deal? Why do I let my temper get the best of me? Why can't I just cool the fuck down and react in such a way that doesn't make me feel shitty? 

My husband walked in and I quietly asked him, "you bringing in the Nose Frida?" to which he replied, "oh, I'm sorry. I forgot." He turned around and returned with the fabulous contraption ten seconds later.

And that was that.

I have to stop myself from getting so angry, so quickly! And it's hard. It's really hard. It's worse when I'm tired. But that's no excuse. And so I'm working on reigning in my temper and using better coping techniques when I'm frustrated.

I'll let you know how it works.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Am I ready?

I am returning to teaching today. It is my first time in an educator role since my son was born last fall, and I have to admit, I can't wait.

I'm nervous and excited and I'm anticipating all that will come with stepping into this awesome role just months after having given birth.

First, it's incredible to have the opportunity to journey with expectant parents as they prepare for birth and parenthood. The parents that step into our classroom arrive at our doors with a variety of experiences, back stories and beliefs. I cannot assume anything, and my only job is to listen, share evidence-based material, and provide loving support to the people that sit with me in class.

Teaching is not about me and my experiences as a laboring mother or a breastfeeding mother or a mother of three, and yet I am all of these. What I bring to my classes and interactions with the parents-to-be clearly is influenced by my own experiences, and yet I have to be careful to keep my story out of my teaching.

I'm curious how it will feel when we're discussing the stages of labor and I demonstrate a contraction during active labor. As I moan and move my hips back and forth, how will I keep my mind from traveling back to that cool night in November as my body prepared to birth my son? What if I ramble on and on about how birthing your child will change your life, whether the birth happens at home, in a hospital bed or in a surgical setting? What if my educator's brain melts into my mama's heart and I can't help but gush on about how you will fall in love with your child, and that may or may not happen immediately after birth?

And I have two older children, well past the stages of infancy; how can I keep myself from commenting that even though the early days of parenting your newborn feel impossibly exhausting, it doesn't compare to the later challenges of parenting your toddler, preschooler or older child?!

I trust when I walk into class today, I will know what to say and what to keep to myself. It is not my job just to give information; it is my job to help parents find the information and figure how it applies to their own personal journey. I respect where these parents are in their journey and I TRUST they will make the best decisions they can with what they have at any given moment.

Childbirth preparation is not just about getting ready for that one moment. It's about communicating with your partner on issues that will affect you, your baby, your relationships with the people on your birth team, your own belief system. It's about prioritizing your preferences and figuring out what to do when your expectations don't pan out. Childbirth preparation looks at the bigger picture, and it's time for you to spend focusing on you, your baby, your partner. Parenting starts with decisions you make prenatally and is intensified the moment your child is in your arms. Expectant parents may have an idea how they want to parent their newborn, but you really have no idea until that baby is HERE and yours to hold.

And I'm excited for today. I can say that I fully trust my instincts, skills and knowledge to help the expectant parents I will meet today.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making Time.

I want to make time for myself.

And yet at this stage of parenting I'm so, so limited.

I like to think of my life as BB3 and AB3. Before Baby 3 and After Baby 3. BB3 I was living an easy life with two children, ages four & six years young. They'd wake up in the mornings, fix themselves a bowl of cereal, get themselves situated with Netflix Watch Instantly or while my husband and I slept. It was glorious. They'd dress themselves, we'd make our way to school, I'd head to work and life was grand. And get this, at the pool last summer, I READ A BOOK WHILE MY CHILDREN SWAM. I told you life was grand.

Now, AB3, I am kind of back to the beginning. And I have to tell you, I was fucking scared that I would somehow be resentful that I was having to respond to the needs of a newborn. But lucky for him I love him so much. I love the kid so much I'm leaking milk just thinking about him.

As much as I love him, however, I still want to make time for myself. And this, my friends, is a challenge.

Here's what's working:

Sign up for a class. I signed up for a couple yoga classes. And a Pilates class. And I fucking love going to them. I take my child to childcare at the gym and I head off to my class. Just once the childcare goddesses came to get me because my babe was needing me, but I am confident he is in good hands and well-cared for. And even though I miss him and my mind wonders to him during my classes, I appreciate having that time where I can focus on me...most of the time.

Go to work. I am blessed to take my son with me to work, but I'm actually going to be returning to my part-time work WITHOUT my baby periodically and then will transition back to work while my babe stays home with his dad. I love what I do at work, so I count this as MAKING TIME FOR MYSELF. I consider myself lucky to be in this position!

Say no. I can't be everything to everyone, including my own children and husband. Sometimes I need to just say I'm not available or I can't take on that extra responsibility. If I'm going to be a good partner, mother or friend, I have to be happy within myself. And so I say no just so I have the time to soak in the tub, shamelessly use the computer or otherwise do something that brings me joy.

Everyone has time, the same amount of time, actually, and it's just a matter of what your priorities are. And I challenge you to fucking make time to just do something for you.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Taking Turns

It's your turn, I say to my husband as I hand him our crying son.

It's not that I don't like my baby, it's just that I feel at a complete loss for what to do. No, scratch that. I'm not necessarily at a loss. I have ideas for what may work, but THEY DON'T FUCKING WORK. I've changed his diaper, I've put him to the breast, I've walked with him, I've put him in his swing, I've worn him in my carrier, I've taken his clothes off, I've put his clothes back on, I've taken a bath with him...


And it's pissing me off. It's making me feel inferior and stupid and worthless. 

I want him to tell me what he needs, what he wants. WHY CAN'T HE JUST TELL ME?

I hear him crying, still, in my husband's arms. We're tired. We're losing patience. It feels like he's winning whatever game we're playing. 

My husband puts him down in the swing, again, and yet still he cries (the baby, people). My husband walks away. He needs a break. I get it. But instead of letting him cry, I need to get him. I walk to the swing and my husband asks what I'm doing; I'm getting our son, I say. But you wanted a break; it's okay if he cries, he says. 

I know. I know. 

But I can't let him just sit there and cry, I think. I wouldn't want to sit there and cry by myself. I'd want to be held, soothed, comforted. 

So I pick him up.

He stops and looks at me, and we're both at a loss for words. It's quiet and we're both still, just looking into each other's eyes...

And he starts to cry, but this time I just hold him without searching for answers. I hold him, and I let him be, just rocking and walking, hushing and humming. We're chest to chest and just letting him be feels right. I'm ready to hold whatever it is he gives me- his tiredness, his loneliness, his tears. Not only today but for always. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Day Tripper

This week is Spring Break for my children; five days of fun, right?

Days like today make me think back to when I was mothering them full-time, before they were enrolled in school. Days where we would wake up without a schedule to worry about; we'd spend the days together, running errands, spending time in the community, hanging out at home. I did my paid work in the evenings (makes me sound like a prostitute), so my days were truly centered around my children's needs.

Those days, when my children were younger, felt like they'd never fucking end. Days would start at 6am, and by 4pm I'd be wondering whether it was too early to put them down for bedtime. Seriously, it just stretched on. and on. and on. But then something happened, and time seemed to just pass me by. The first day I brought my daughter and son to preschool ON THE SAME DAY and left by myself, I cried. I knew this was the end of an era. I was no longer in the stage of lazy days, exploring the world with my little ones. Instead, they were enrolled in preschool programs, and I was spending my mornings working. We were all expected to show up at a certain time, and suddenly my children and I were very independent of one another for three hours every morning. It felt sad and fucking amazing at the same time. My babies!!! My sweet daughter and darling son!!! Mommy misses you!!! And at the same time, THANK YOU JESUS for bringing me back some sanity and space.

Just when things felt fucking calm and straight-forward, my husband and I decided to add chaos to the family and see if we could get ourselves pregnant. BINGO! It worked and last fall we had ourselves another son. Suddenly, though I knew to expect it, our world was no longer lazy. Our older children, independent enough to fix themselves a bowl of cereal and get dressed in the morning, were a huge contrast to how our lives were going to be for the next several years.

Now I'm back in baby-mode. My body stretched to accommodate our son and is now revolting against my previous wardrobe. My breasts leak, my clothes smell like spit-up, and I'm living in a wasteland of laundry that needs to be acknowledged.

This week, as we're wrapping up Spring Break, I've been reflecting on the time I spend with my children. My daughter, six years young, is at an emotional, challenging place; she seems to be figuring out how to be, and this feels exhausting to support. I thought the challenges of what to do with a newborn would be my biggest issue with having our third, but it's really been figuring out how to mother my oldest. Everything seemed to happen at the same time- her need for increasing independence  smashed right into the issues that happen when a baby enters the picture, i.e., jealousy, feelings of being left out, not having enough time with Mom, etc.

My son, almost five, is exploring his place in our family and already seems to model some "middle child" characteristics (I don't know if these are characteristics we'd be seeing anyway, but it seems I should just get used to blaming everything on him being middle child, so there); he comforts me when my daughter is mouthy and mean. And he desperately wants to show me what he's doing and wants to please me with his drawings and writing samples. He's finding a lot of pride in being a big brother, which is fucking awesome since I anticipate he'll be pissed by a screaming, tantrum-throwing toddler. Good luck, son(s).

Tomorrow is our last day of the break; I only hope that we can appreciate the time we spend together, because it all goes just too fucking fast anyway.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Fog Has Lifted

Amazing what difference a day brings.

Yesterday felt so dark, so raw, so fucking real. One of those days where you're not quite sure why or who or what or when. And today feels so good, so good. Not fake, smiling when I feel like screaming good. No, real good. Genuine, I'm happy to face the day good.

And I didn't even rely on my list of what I thought I needed. Here's what helped.

I napped with my baby. I tucked myself into bed, next to my darling boy. We sunk into this perfect mixture of sleeping and nursing. I woke a few hours later, feeling amazingly refreshed rather than groggy and grumpy.

I opened up to how I was feeling. I didn't hide my mood from anyone; I fucking wrote a blog post on it. While that may feel icky and awkward and embarrassing to some, it wasn't for me. Knowing that others feel those same feelings feels reassuring and gives me the promise of a better tomorrow.

I came to a realization. I need to talk with the person I love most in this world. Not talking is easy and lets me stay in my own fucking head rather than address my issues and problems. But that just leads to feeling sad and lonely, and I don't like that. So I'm going to try and actually talk...and listen.

I took a walk. It wasn't exactly a ball buster of a routine, but it felt good to leave the house, plugged into my headphones, without anyone else. I found myself walking by our corner coffee shop and walked right on by; a cafe mocha was calling my name but I didn't need it to fill the empty space. And that felt good to push through that craving and rely on my own endorphins instead.

I have great support. I'm not alone and just knowing that makes me feel good. I have an amazing partner, loving friends and supportive family. It's a huge fucking deal to have loving support and I'm so blessed to have it. I also know where to turn if the world is feeling too fucking overwhelming and I can't handle it on my own. Good stuff.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

run away and escape.


Days like today make me want to just run away and escape. Fuck peace, fuck loving support, fuck patience. I am a good mom, kids are stressful, I know. Seriously, you can kiss my ass if you think you're going to tell me something I don't already goddamn know. It's not going to help me out of this. But I think I know what will...

I need a fancy drink. I don't care if that shit costs $$ at this point. Who cares?! My drink of choice during day hours is a cafe mocha. Seriously. it's fucking espresso, milk and chocolate, but I'm a sucker for it. Somehow this makes me feel better.

I want to fill my body with food. I'm pulled towards junk food when I'm feeling stressed. Comfort food? Hells yeah. I know that filling my body with processed foods will only contribute to me feeling like a piece of shit so it's horribly contradicting knowing what will taste good will only make me feel worse. Self-awareness blows.

I need an alcoholic beverage. I want a few drinks to numb the stress. I want to get shit-faced and laugh the night away with a friend. But you know what else drinking does for me? It makes me introspective and sad and that's just too fucking depressing when you're already feeling like shit. So until I'm feeling more in control of where I am, drinking is off the list. But damn, it sounds good.

I need to touch and be touched. I want a massage. I want to be hugged. I want to snuggle into someones shoulder and just be. I want to lie down with my children and feel their sweet breaths on my face. I want to be kissed so hard and with so much passion it makes me cry. I want to get laid.

I need to talk. I need to just talk my fucking heart out and get out all that's crowding my brain. I don't want to explain or justify or rationalize. I just want to blab on and on without a worry that I'm too fucking much for someone to handle.

I need to pray. I pray. I was raised in a prayerful home. And you know what the fucking irony is? I forget to pray when I need to the most. I need to lift up my worries and concerns and trust my prayers will be answered.

I need to move my body. I need to get my body moving. I need to stretch my body and feel its strength. I need to sweat and breathe hard and feel the blood moving through my veins. I'm gifted with an able body, and I need to fucking move it.

That felt good. This feels good. I don't have any answers and I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. But I have the tools. I have the skills to get over this. I am stronger today than I was in the past, when I felt like I didn't know what the hell to do with these emotions. And that feels fucking amazing. That brings a smile to my face just knowing that I can feel these hard feelings, and I can have extremely tough days, and I know I'm going to be okay. I'm going to better than okay. I'm going to fucking thrive and grow. And I will have the strength to show others the same loving support that I give myself.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Go with the flow.

You're probably wondering how on Earth I'm so relaxed and cool. It's pretty simple, actually. Here we go.

Lose the motherfucking guilt. Stop wracking your brain about stupid shit, like how you wish you were thinner or how you yelled at your kids the other day. When you worry, you're wasting prime energy you could be using on other tasks. Instead, when you start to feel anxiety or concern over something, ask yourself what you can do about it. If the answer is nothing, then send that shit up to the heavens above and If, on the other hand, you actually can change what's causing you guilt, then you have some work to do. 

Sit down and do nothing. Put away the laptop or your fancy phone. Shut off the TV and sit the fuck down. You'll start to feel fidgety and restless. Sit with it and let it wash over you. Take a deep breath and notice how it feels to fill your body with air. Listen to the sounds around you. Close your eyes and just be. Notice how your body feels and whether you're tensing your muscles or letting your body be relaxed. Just be in your skin and let the world do its thing. Breathe. Loosen those muscles. And when you're ready to get up and move ahead with your day, go for it. 

Dance. I don't care if dancing means tapping your foot or nodding your head along to the beat. You could fucking breakdance or jump around the living room waving your arms above your head. It really doesn't matter. But put on some music (any kind that speaks to you) and let your body move. Children have a great way of just moving their bodies without giving a care what someone else thinks. In fact, I'm pretty sure my kids both think they're hot shit when they're dancing because that's the vibe I'm getting from them. Maybe you need to dance when no one is around, that's fine. Just let your body move and feel how good that feels. 

Laugh. Some of my favorite moments are when I think about something and I laugh. As in, LOL people. I absolutely love laughing. Kids laugh all the fucking time and they just find joy in the littlest things. I realize I need change in my life when it's been a while since I've really laughed. And I'm not saying you have to laugh all the time and let life be one big party in your pants. No, what I'm reminding you is how good it feels to laugh and smile. And not necessarily when you're watching a funny movie or show, though that is good, too. No, I want you to laugh and smile with other people. That's when the magic happens.

Feel what you feel. You just have to feel whatever it is that's inside of you. I've been so low before I wasn't sure I'd ever make my way back to a good place. But fighting those feelings is sort of pointless for me. I find that if I just let myself sit with those feelings, I'm then ready to start healing with the help of loving support.  

It's like the Cat Stevens song, "If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out." 
Well, if you want to sing out, sing out 
And if you want to be free, be free 
'cause there's a million things to be You know that there are 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Keeping Things Hot

I have been married for nearly ten blissful years. And I'm sure you're curious how in fuck's sake I keep the fire alive. I'm here to reveal some tips for marital bliss. Read on.

Hold hands often. Holding onto that grubby, sticky hand attached to your two-year old comes naturally; you're probably just keeping him from running into the street or creating havoc wherever you are. Holding your partner's hand may not be as instinctual, but this is one of the easiest ways to connect with you partner, I kid you not. Simply holding hands may bring you back to the days when you were first dating and life was much simpler. Of course, if you were easy back then and skipped the hand-holding stage, then I suggest you take a trip back to the days of pure and hold your partner's hand next time you have a chance. You're welcome.

Say good morning, goodnight and goodbye with a kiss. Kissing your partner sounds so obvious, but something that is easy to forget. With all the busyness of life, especially once you have a child, kissing just doesn't happen as often as it should. Kissing each other is a way of expressing your love, especially when you are purposeful about it. Of course, I'm not saying you have to have a make-out session at 6:00am as one of you is waking up, unless of course that's your style. But leaning in for that kiss helps both of you to press pause on the rest of the world and focus on each other, even for two seconds. There. Done. Let's move on.

Surprise each other with acts of kindness. What would make your partner really happy? Surprise her by doing something that you know will bring a smile to her face. It doesn't have to be big; it could be filling up her gas tank on some cold morning (my head's in the fucking gutter because these sentences sound pretty suggestive to me). Maybe you can surprise her with her favorite beverage, a new book or magazine and a bubbly bathtub so she can have some time to relax (this means wrangling any kids from interrupting this time!). Encourage your partner to hang out with his friends, if he doesn't have much time to do so, and make the time for this to happen. Whatever it is, do it without being asked and do so with a smile (again, gutter...).

Accept your partner for who s/he is... You established a relationship with this person because you were attracted to him and you wanted to be in a partnership. Maybe you were initially attracted to his spontaneity and his ability to live in the moment, but now you're just annoyed with his inability to plan ahead. Revisit those reasons of attraction in the beginning and see how that can (still) be a positive attribute. Yes, relationships change and mature, and life circumstances are not what they were when you were first dating and your relationship felt (possibly) easier. But, if you share loving support and respect, revisiting those traits you first found attractive and seeing how you may benefit from them may bring back the spark.

...but lovingly support your partner when they want to be a better version of himself. If your partner becomes interested in running but you think it's a fucking stupid waste of time, think about how you can lovingly support your partner's interests. When your partner feels fulfilled and at peace with where he is in life, he'll be a better version of himself for the entire family. You don't have to have identical interests, mind you, but including your partner can also keep the flame a burnin'. This may just be playing that song you've been learning or sharing what you're reading in that book club you joined. And as the partner listening, it's a good habit to put your phone aside or close that laptop to really listen. I know, you may be bored out of your fucking mind listening to her talk about that new Nicholas Sparks book she's reading, but it's important you give her the attention she deserves.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Parenting Tips 101

As a mother of three, I consider myself an expert on all parenting matters. That's right folks, you've heard it here. I am the shit when it comes to anything related to raising children. Here are some basic rules to follow if you want to be the bomb at parenting.

1. Don't be so rigid in your rules and expectations. You can't expect your children to have great behavior (i.e., behavior that doesn't annoy the shit out of you) all of the time. That's impossible. You try to have someone older, bigger and more powerful than you always on your ass and see how you feel. Wait, that reads a little more dirty than I wanted. Let's move on.

2. Greet your children with love and happiness. Now I'm not saying you have to squeal and jump around like an asshole. But get down on their level and give them a smile and express your love in whatever way works- a high five, a hug, a kiss. Something that communicates your love. Because you know they're going to do something ridiculous sooner than later that will make you want to flip your lid. So take advantage of that first moment when all is good with the world and your child is not acting like a b-r-a-t.

3. Observe aloud when you see something you want to reinforce. There's lots of ways to change behavior, which probably include the words stop, don't, and you've got to be fucking kidding me (just kidding about that last one...obviously). But I try to notice the great choices my kids make by recognizing what I see. I think it's more effective to be specific than to just say "good job" over and over throughout the day.

4. Be as kind to yourself, oh Great One, as you would to another parent. This one will be easy, unless you're a true judgmental asshole to other parents. If that's the case, then you're shit outta luck. But if you'd offer loving support to another parent, then turn that around and treat yourself with love. This means letting go of the shitty parenting mistakes you've made.

5. Look for ways to be better, not perfect. Think about one or two areas you'd like to improve on then take small steps to get there. It's not going to happen overnight and you will have times when you regress. But the important part is to be aware of areas you know need improvement. Because really, we all want to be pleasant enough people to those around us, and if we know we're kind of a douche in certain areas, then the smart thing is to work on improving.