Finding the Gold in the Dark

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My family shows up. We are never alone.

It seems lately as we approach the holiday season and should be surrounding ourselves with all things “joyful” that instead, so many families I know, including my own, has been forced into one tragic event after another.

One of these awful tragedies was the death of one of my cousins a few weeks ago. The unexpected loss of this great young man leaves behind voids that I can only begin to imagine. I will say, however, that the intense grief, love, unwavering faith, and even some good ol’ fashioned laughter that I experienced during my brief visit with friends and family for the services left a remarkable impression on me. Seeing his teenage children weep for the loss of their father. Or the strength in his wife as she constantly kept watch over her two kids to make sure they were okay when the easier thing to have done was to simply not get out of bed. Hearing story after story of the lives my cousin touched and the hundreds of people he’s helped to better their lives. [That certainly made me realize how very little I actually do to make this world a better place. But that’s a different therapy session for a different day.] Seeing and being a part of such deep, emotional experiences left me spinning. Whether you’re 21, 41 or 91, these are pivotal moments in a person’s life. I do often wonder why it takes the death of someone to have some of these “Ah Ha” kind of realizations but I suppose no one ever said hind sight was anything less than a bitch.

But anyway after I got back home after the services, I spent the next week or so just asking myself “Why” over and over. And then later in the week, I came across a line in a book. It read:

“There is gold in every piece of your story.”

As simple as that line is, it stopped me in my tracks. Because my brain does not think that way. I focus only on the negative, and it ends up being a downward spiral of one bad thing after another until I’m only seeing bad things in every situation. And that’s not life. But seeing that line made me realize that I was asking myself the wrong question. Because at the end of the day, the “Why” will never be understood nor will it change the outcome. So instead, I started thinking about what I should be learning from this situation and what I would want my children to learn. I wanted – I needed – to see “the gold” in this part of my cousin’s story because from the outside all I saw was heartache. When I started thinking about the situation in a different light, I was amazed at all the “good” (and I use this word loosely in relation to anyone dying) things that I had seen and heard just in those two days.

While I could ramble on, for me I simply wanted to focus on what I believe to be THE most important message or the “gold” that I gained out of this situation. And that is simply: I AM [YOU ARE] NEVER ALONE. Life can be shitty. This year in particular seems to be exceptionally awful for so many. But damn, what I witnessed at this funeral, and even others this year, has just been phenomenal. Friends and family come out of the woodwork during these tragedies. And maybe you don’t see or even talk to them that often but just knowing that they are indeed there should provide some level of comfort. Because even when you think you’re at your lowest; when you think you’re all alone and no one can help you, all you have to do is look around because there will always be at least one, or 10 or even 100 people right there, wanting and waiting to help you.

For some reason I’ve always thought that it was best to deal with my problems by myself, inside my own head. (Brilliant, right?! Insert eye-rolling emoji.) But that simply isn’t how life should be. I suppose I can say I’ve always known that but I think this funeral actually helped me see that. Don’t stay inside your head. It can get dangerous there. Try to find the gold among even the darkest parts to our stories. Because it is there; it just isn’t always easy to see. God or Buddha or the Stars or Someone gave us each other for a reason. Remember that. And repeat after me: You Are Not Alone.

Be that Inspirational Friend

IMG_4313Throughout our lifespan people weave themselves in and out of our lives. As kids and teenagers I feel like we strive for quantity over quality because we place popularity on such a pedestal and are trained to think the more “friends” we have the better off or cool we are. Yet the older I get the more I’ve learned that, in fact, just the exact opposite is true. The quality of the friends and people in our daily lives exponentially outweighs the quantity. Sure I have plenty of acquaintances and people I’m friendly with, but the number of people that I can truly say are my good friends, or “ride or die bitches” as we like to call each other, has been happily narrowed down over the years to a few select groups of people. These are the people that I talk (well okay, text with) on the regular. But even if we miss some time here or there, that’s okay too. These are the ones that we actually go out of our way to make plans to hang out with each other. Because we all know that life happens, but we’re important enough to each other to make it a point to still see one another on at least a semi-regular basis. These are the ones who know each other’s secrets, we don’t judge (or if we do, we certainly judge openly… And that’s okay too). These are the ones that make each other laugh until we cry, that give the best hugs, and always have each other’s backs.

They say that everyone comes into your life for a reason. And that I do believe. Sometimes, however, we can’t be rid of the crazies quick enough, but still I believe we have something to learn from everyone. A few years ago I was introduced to someone who today I consider to be one of my most special friends. When we first met, you can believe I was full of all sorts of judgement as I checked her out with her beautiful hair, perfect body and infectious smile. Thankfully my ridiculous judging didn’t last long once we started talking, and I discovered that it was truly possible to be both beautiful and a genuinely kind human being. And though we’ve only known each other for a few years, she is one of those people that has taught me so much.

Recently this sweet woman has been thrown a huge life curve ball. I feel deflated, heart broken and completely helpless. Yet while I have no control over the future of anyone’s life, what I can control are my words and my ability to share the important life lessons that this special woman has taught me. Because everyone deserves to have such a special and influential friend in their lives.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned from my friend is the importance of simply showing up. Despite all the grief I give her about her various luxuries in life, this woman works her ass off on the daily to provide for her family. To be there for them. And is constantly going out of her way to do special things for her girls to simply reinforce her love for them. But even after all that, out of our little local core group, it’s almost always her that is taking the time to plan outings for us or just simply dragging our exhausted mom asses out of our houses. She’s the one that’s sending out the group texts reminding us of the date for Wine Chat Wednesday, even though it’s supposed to be the same date every month. And even when it’s -50 degrees outside and all I want to do is lay on my couch in my fat pants, she has taught me that that simply isn’t good enough. Because friends show up for each other. Friends make it a point to hang out. And anything less simply isn’t an option.

Another huge lesson my friend has taught me is simply how to forgive. If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s holding a grudge (just ask my husband!) My friend is so much smarter than me. She knows that harboring anger and ill thoughts does nobody any good. She’s been such a great role model to me in simply forgiving, letting go of any negativity and moving on. Because life is just too short not to. The world would be such a better place if we all followed her example.

Along the way there’s also been several other “smaller” life lessons, although in my opinion just as equally important.

  • Bless this woman’s heart her taste in music could use some improving. However, even when surrounded by horrible music, she’s proved to me that it truly is possible to have a good time.
  • Not only is it normal, but it’s absolutely crucial to slow down every once in awhile and simply remember how to feel. We often get so caught up in our chaotic daily lives that we don’t necessarily give ourselves the necessary and imperative time we, as humans, need to acknowledge our own feelings.
  • Believe it or not, body suits can actually look good…on the right person!
  • Everyone has their own insecurities and faults. But if we can’t own who we are, we need to reevaluate. We’re all human and none of us are perfect. But there comes a point in our adult lives that if we don’t feel confident in who we are, albeit good or bad, it’s our responsibility alone to change what we don’t like.

Life is confusing, at times difficult, and every once in awhile it simply knocks you on your ass. And in these moments may we all be blessed enough to have a friend as special and inspirational as this one is to me. And more importantly, may we all be that friend to someone else.

The Year of the Cup

IMG_9001As parents we experience hundreds, if not thousands of milestones. Our kids’ first food, first steps, first word, first sleepover and the list goes on and on. I think for the most part, we’re pretty familiar with the basics and what to expect. But there’s always those ones that end up sneaking up on you – the ones that you may or may not have even known about, making them that much more… well interesting, let’s just say.

This year my son tried out and made the “travel” baseball team. And when I say travel, it just means the next town or two over. Thank God, we’re not shelling out millions for long road trips and hotels…just yet. This kid absolutely loves baseball. When asked, his favorite things in life are “baseball and family.” Although I’ll have to admit I wonder if he realizes his sisters are part of that whole “family” thing. My husband has him pretty well trained, and he knows more facts and stats about the Cubs than probably most adult Cubs fans. He’s obsessed but it’s a good thing. Anyway, apparently for this travel team one of the rules is that the kids must wear a cup. Now as an adult and mother, I know what that is. I know its job. Basically I know the minimal basics that surround this contraption. Thankfully my husband handles 99 percent of all things related to baseball, which just so happens to include any necessary supply shopping. (PHEW!)

Now picture this if you will. I’m busy cooking dinner one evening and trying to get things ready. In walks my son and husband from somewhere. I tend not to ask too many questions when the husband takes any of the kids, because all I really need to know is I’m down one less kid to worry about. Hooray. Anyway, my son immediately heads to the bathroom and walks out a minute later. He walks right up to me and says, “Mom, hit me in the wiener.” I may or may not have gotten whip lash from turning my head so quickly to him as I was still trying to compute what was just said to me. I quickly put two and two together and figured out the surrounding story to his insane request and while secretly dying inside, calmly reminded him to please don’t ever ask ME (or anyone for that matter) to hit his privates.

To say this kid was excited about his new piece of equipment would be a complete understatement. I guess maybe I kinda sorta understand if you can equate it to getting one’s first training bra? I don’t know but regardless it resulted in a lengthy show and tell to his sisters. Explaining what it was for. Inviting them to inspect it (not on, of course!) It was all pretty comical. But I think the icing on the cake, however, was when he asked me if he could SLEEP WITH IT AND/OR WEAR IT TO BED. Yes, you read that right. My kid wanted to sleep with his cup – like it was his beloved stuffed animal or pet dog. Certainly not a request I ever imagined I’d hear. Alas my husband just reminded him it’s simply part of our uniform and we don’t wear our uniform to bed.

Children certainly are odd creatures, but it’s these kind of moments that I revel in as a parent. The nutty. The unexpected. The hilarious, yet innocent, requests. These are the things that are meant to be remembered (well for me that means written down because I can’t remember what happened five seconds ago) and used as possible blackmail when your children are older. Because every kid learns to walk and talk. But not every parent gets to experience the hilarity of being asked if their kid can sleep with their cup. This milestone is undoubtedly one for the books.

Is There an App for That?

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My toddler on her phone

As a parent in the thick of things with three young kids, I often find myself complaining about their irrational, naughty and even just plain dumb behavior…because well they’re young kids with undeveloped brains and that’s just what happens. And trust me when I say I fully believe in the theory of little kids = little problems vs. big kids = big problems.

However I also think it’s safe to say that the equation has been altered even from when I was a kid. Nowadays I think it’s more like big kids + social media = HUGE problems. And damn does that scare me. Because I remember being a big kid. (Hell, I still think I am one half of the time at age 41.) And yes, while we had the capability of making decisions – good and bad – that could potentially alter the course of our future, for the most part our parents’ main competitors for influencing us were our core group of friends. And in my opinion that alone was some fierce competition. Unfortunately, parents these days have to fight against not just their kids’ friends, but friends of friends. And acquaintances. And in essence, every single other person out there thanks to sites like Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat and all those others I haven’t even heard of because I’m older than 10.

Privacy no longer exists. Bringing a few cases of beer to the middle of a cornfield for an impromptu secret party can’t happen because someone chose to broadcast it to the universe one hour ago when that person then sent a Snapchat invite to their friend who then took a screen shot of it and posted it to their Facebook account, and so on and so on. As adults we get and understand the potential plethora of horrific consequences that can essentially ruin a person’s life simply because they made one wrong decision and then someone documented it and shared it with the world. The possibilities are endless. But kids are wired to only think in the right now. And on top of that, they also think they’re invincible. We’ve all been there. We’ve all thought that.

I recently read an article explaining the reasoning why social media is indeed so bad for middle schoolers (and really all young kids in my opinion). And when reading it, of course everything makes perfect sense. But what makes sense and what works in reality don’t always jive. I sent the article to a close friend who herself has middle schoolers. To summarize her response: it [the article] is absolutely true. And if a parent can hold out against giving their kids that smartphone or access to various social media accounts, good for them. But she’s witnessed numerous occasions where her kids are now being left out of activities and ultimately even friendships simply because she doesn’t have access to Snapchat. How can we be good parents and do – or not do – something we feel strongly about when we’re fighting against the world? How can we hold steady against giving in to social media when our kids are coming home after school every day crying because they’re being made fun of for “not being cool enough” or not getting invited to something when everyone else was. I have no problem being the mean parent. But I do have a problem when my kid is getting hurt. So how does one parent this generation? I suppose that’s the million dollar question.

Looking back, my dad always used to tell me that it was easy for him to catch me doing something stupid because he’d done everything before. He knew what to look for and he knew how kids thought. Unfortunately, my generation cannot say that. We don’t have the first-hand experience with social media or even just the technology alone. I have teacher friends who have shared stories with me on the technological ways in which kids cheat these days. Another friend shared with me the app that she found simply in order to decipher all the various codes kids have come up with to keep things from their parents. Yup, when they say “there’s an app for that” they weren’t kidding. I suppose my next question would be is there an app to teach me how to use and/or find all these other methods that kids use to communicate with each other?! Because who knew that face-to-face communication would become so obsolete.

Parenting is nothing more than trial and error. But for my generation, the stakes have been upped exponentially. And for now I may be coasting along in the little kid tantrum years, but eventually my time will come. My husband and I will have difficult decisions to make regarding the use of social media and the appropriate age for smartphones. And I can only hope that when it’s our turn, we make whatever decision is best for our kids and our family. And if nothing else, maybe by then there will be an app for that, one that simply tells us how to properly parent our children. Because why not, there’s an app for everything else.

Mistakes Aren’t Just for Idiots

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My pride. My joy. The reasons I stress.

Although the weather certainly hasn’t been given the memo, based on the calendar, warmer temperatures are certainly upon us sometime in the (hopefully) near future. And with the warmer weather comes a plethora of fun-filled outdoor activities and fun in the sun. BUT…how come there always seems to be a caveat associated with good things?

Warmer temperatures mean WAY warmer cars. We’ve all seen the horror stories in the news. We know about the accidents. We know what can and has happened. And we all think no way in hell could I ever be that irresponsible. And for the most part I think none of us really are. However I wanted to share my experience from the weekend which hopefully just gives everyone the gentle reminder – okay, I’m actually not going for gentle here; I’m going for IN YOUR FACE PSA – that shit happens, and as parents it’s simply imperative to always be on our A game.

So the hubs was away this weekend, and since we finally had some nice weather, I used the opportunity to get some yard work done. Meanwhile, of course, I had the kids play outside. But before all this, for some strange reason I made a horrible judgement call and took my herd to Costco. (PSA #2: Never, ever take your kids to Costco by yourself on a weekend! You’re just asking to end up needing a stiff drink before noon.) Anyway we were in and out as quick as can be… and by quick I mean barely less than two hours. Insert through-the-roof stress levels here. We got home and I had all the kids help load in the 100 pounds of Goldfish we bought along with a few other things. Once we got everything put away, we went outside. Now normally I always park in our garage but since I knew the kids would be carrying stuff inside I parked outside thinking it would be easier for them. I checked to make sure the kids closed the hatch and the car was locked – which they both were.

Now growing up in small town I don’t think I ever locked a car – like truly not ever. My dad didn’t even think he owned a key to the house. So even in the burbs I don’t necessarily worry about theft at my house, but my husband did make a point last summer to stress the importance of locking the car, if for no other reason than so the kids couldn’t get in. Like on a hot summer day. And be trapped. And while I typically forget 99.9% of the things my husband says to me, I actually did remember that one. Hence me remembering to check to see if the car was locked.

But moving on with my story. Now my son had gone over to the neighbor’s house to play baseball, and I had seen the girls follow him. As I was moving around in the yard I noticed that my littlest wasn’t with the others, and of course no one seemed to know where she went. Frustrated – but not worried – I began looking for her. I didn’t see her anywhere in the yard, or the neighbor’s and she wasn’t responding to me when I called for her in the house. At this point I was starting to get on edge just a little. Mind you it had only been maybe five minutes since I’d last seen her. But after a few more laps both in and out of the house, my mind started racing and I began to think of ALL the nightmares that could potentially be waiting for me. Now after probably another two minutes, my middle daughter found her – IN THE CAR. Somehow the car, that I had even checked to make sure was locked, had the driver’s side door open even though all other doors were locked. I have no idea how that happened. But it doesn’t matter HOW it happened, it only matters that it DID happen.

Of course I pulled her out immediately, and she was happy as a clam rubbing chapstick all over her face. BUT she was soaked in sweat. She was in there less than 10 minutes and it was barely 70 degrees outside. Now granted she got in through the driver’s side door, which does not have the child safety lock on it so technically she wasn’t trapped. But she’s three and had crawled in to the backseat. The odds of her being able to figure out to climb back to the front and open the door are slim.

After quite a bit of swearing and yelling and crying – followed by drinking a giant beer – I did a whole lot of thanking my lucky stars yesterday. Because while I may be an idiot when it comes to a lot of things in life, the safety of my kids is certainly not one of them. HOWEVER…I also know how I get. I get focused. I lose track of time. I get on a role in getting things done. I ASSUME my kids are playing together, because the majority of the time they are. And while I do make a point to check on them fairly often, sometimes there may be like 20-minute gaps in between me actually seeing what they’re doing. It’s been proven kids need approximately 0.02 seconds to get into trouble. Or maybe that’s just a proven fact for my kids?!

Now for my own mental well being I refuse to dive into the what ifs. And by dive into I mean write the words here. Because don’t think I haven’t thought about them for two days straight. Instead, I’m using this as a teaching moment for myself and all of you, my loyal five followers. (Insert smiley face.) This is real life. I’m a real person. I’m not an idiot, but I’m human. We don’t always get second chances, so we must always use our first ones wisely.

(PSA #3: Don’t count on your five year old to monitor the three year old. It doesn’t always work out like you think it should.)

Four-Legged Family Members are Real

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The night we brought Desota home.

Well today my three-year-old daughter pretty much summed up life. She said, “When you turn into a grownup you have to do tricky stuff.” As kids you don’t even ever really think about just what all the “tricky stuff” ever entails either because a) you’re a clueless kid and b) if you have good parents they tend to shield you from the tough stuff.

Well this past weekend was one of those tricky adult situations for my husband and I. It started off great. We had a date night where we drank too much awesome beer and ate too much awesome food. But the best part was yet to come – we were going to be able to sleep in! However around 2 a.m. I got my first wake-up call when my dog barked as she needed help up. Ok, sure. I was sort of getting used to these barks as they were becoming more frequent. So I helped her up and didn’t think much of it. Then around 4 a.m. the same thing happened. Only this time she wanted outside and refused to come back in. She looked awful, and I began to fear the worst. I got my husband to help carry her back inside and we both sat with her, afraid to leave her side. Eventually we attempted to go back to bed even though I merely laid there willing my dog to peacefully drift away on her own. But around 7 a.m. we heard her bark again and we repeated the process. She went out in the snow, lied down and refused to get back up. At this point, the tears were flowing, and we pretty much knew what we had to do – you know that whole tricky adult thing where you’re forced to make awful decisions that you know are the right thing yet every bone in your body screams “No!” Yeah, that.

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Desota was often used as a soft pillow for reading time.

Now even as I’m writing this I get that it sounds like I’m talking about a person. And for anyone who isn’t a dog/pet lover, they probably think I’m crazy. And maybe I am, but these dogs and these pets are more than just animals to most of us. They become a huge part of the family. Desota, in particular, was my husband’s and my first pet as adults. We got her shortly after we were married and she was our baby. We trained her (well, we tried, she kind of flunked out of puppy school.) We scolded her when she ate pair after pair of my flip flops and at least three remotes. We panicked and chased her down when she ran away. And we found out when she was sneaking things while we were away at work. We basically went though all the same things with her that we’ve gone through with our three kids – well except maybe not the flip flop part. But overall, Desota was the starting foundation for our family.

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Wet kisses were given out often.

I’ll never forget bringing home Jaycob for the first time. Desota was very curious and very anxious. She knew that something was different but wasn’t quite sure what. She paced the entire night of his first night home. But after that, she never left his side. With each kid we brought home, unfortunately she received less and less attention. But she adjusted and continued to love on all three of them. They climbed on her. They pulled her hair. They fell on her. But she never even flinched and was always rewarded with plenty of spilled food and snuggles. Even up until recently when she no longer was sleeping upstairs with us, any night there was a storm she would pace and whimper all night unless I left the kids’ doors open so she could go into their rooms and check on them. She was the most loving and kindhearted dog any family could ever hope for. She helped raise my kids, and like my aunt said, I suppose she did kinda sorta help raise me too.

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Desota never turned down a hug.

Maybe I’m slightly biased being raised as a veterinarian’s daughter, but in my opinion, dogs, and just animals in general, are such an important part of growing up. They provide unconditional companionship and love. They teach responsibility. They help clean up your floors. And eventually they help with processing the biggest lesson of them all – the circle of life. At 41, I’m still struggling with that lesson.

Sure they’re a pain in the ass at times. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of hair that floats through my house. I’ll be cleaning that up for years to come. They cost a lot of money. They require a lot of maintenance and care. And when they’re gone you’re left with a giant-sized hole in your heart. But you know what? It’s all worth it because I’m also left with 13 years of memories. And no amount of grief can erase all the good that we got from her. I can only hope that our next dog, whenever that may be, will be half as good as she was. (And yes, I’m already Googling puppies…do NOT tell my husband! It’s for therapeutic grieving purposes only. Wink. Wink.)

Rest in peace, Desota. January 10, 2006 – April 28, 2019.

Don’t Forget to Feel

Life is hard. Adulting is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenthood is hard. Working is hard. You get where I’m going with this. It all is, and we all have our ups and downs, good days and bad days. But that’s normal. And if anything, it’s kind of a necessity in life because it simply means we’re living. Yesterday was definitely one of those harder days for me. Which is kind of weird because it’s not like anything even bad happened. It was just one of those emotional-roller-coaster-kind-of days.

I ended up going to my grandma’s house and having, in essence, my final walk through and deciding if there was anything else there that I wanted. Now unlike my other grandma (and myself) this one was a complete minimalist. So it wasn’t even about the “stuff” at her house really, because she didn’t even have much of anything to go through. But the memories! Wow. I spent a few hours basically just strolling from room to room and back again. Can’t say I even did anything really. And yet by the time I got home later that day, I was completely spent. And I know that sounds kind of ridiculous but I was truly amazed at just the emotional toll that it had on me. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a fog not really doing much of anything, just kind of wandering around my house, picking at things here and there.  And then the kids came home from school. So by the time we got through snacks and our normal after-school chatter, I could feel myself being on the brink of falling off that emotional cliff. You know the one; we’ve all been there at some point. So like the good parent that I am, I herded my kids outside and got myself a beer.

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Sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 feelings.

Now one of the few things that I did bring home from my grandma’s house was a giant painting that my mom had done. She was a great artist, but her prime was in the 70’s. So as a result, most of the paintings that I’ve seen or even have of hers are pretty bright, and boy, did she seem to love the color orange – so not my style. But this one in particular is mostly black, white, gray and some green – pretty neutral, which obviously is way more me. I remember it being hung up at my grandma’s house my entire life and I was always drawn to it for some reason. Maybe it’s just the simple color palette, maybe it’s just because she painted it, maybe it’s just because it’s of a castle and doesn’t every little girl dream of living in a castle? Who knows. Regardless it’s mine now, and thankfully, since it’s not orange, it’s going up in my house.

Anyway back to getting around to my long-winded point of this post. With my beer in hand yesterday, I sat my ass down on the couch and I stared at that painting and cried. If someone asked me what I was thinking or why I was even crying I would not be able to answer them. Because honestly, I don’t think I thought about anything. I suppose that’s as close to meditating and having a blank mind as I’ll ever get. And in between some kid coming in the house every other second needing this that or the other, I remained on that couch for a good 30 minutes drinking my beer and just being. Now during this break, I sent a brief text to my friend mentioning how exhausting the day had been and that I was just having a hard time. Her reply: “That’s normal.” And you know what? She’s right. People talk all the time about the importance of self care and all this crap and most of us just roll our eyes and think yeah right. I’ll get to that after I take care of my kids until 8 pm. After I’ve cleaned up the house. After I’ve done the upteen loads of laundry for the day. After I’ve cooked dinner. And on and on and on.

But her simple text just reminded me that self care isn’t always about getting a massage or escaping to the gym or having alone time. Sometimes it’s just about remembering to feel. I think as parents a lot of the time what we feel revolves around our kids, with maybe a few thoughts thrown in about our spouse from time to time. We’re happy because our kids did well at school. We’re frustrated because the kids fought all day. We’re mad because our spouse did or didn’t do X, Y or Z. But how often are we actually focusing on and channeling our own personal feelings about what’s going on with ourselves? Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m so strung up half the time these days because my own thoughts and feelings just get pushed to the back burner in order to make room for all the other crap that hangs around in my head. I rarely take the time to process my own feelings outside of what I feel for everyone else. Because who’s got time for that? And at the end of the day when you do finally get some peace and quiet, at least for me, all I want to do is veg out in front of the TV or read a book. Certainly not think about my own feelings!

So to my friend for responding to my heartfelt exhaustion with the most simple and obvious response that what I was was feeling was totally normal: Thank you for that impactful reminder. Because it IS normal to have your own feelings. And it IS okay to have your own feelings. Just don’t forget to make the time to feel them.