This is going to be a hard post to write without crying, laughter and a whole lot of reminiscing…
“So where are you from?”…”Uhh what do you mean?“… “You know, where did you grow up?”… “Like where have I lived?“… “No, like where were you born?”… “Well that’s different than were I’ve lived.” … “Well where do you call ‘home’?”… “Does that mean where I lived the longest or where I wish I still lived?”
Where are you from? Is one of the most open ended questions you can ask a military brat. Because in the military, “home” goes from being a place to being people. The military is a revolving door. No one stays put for very long.
You hear of the military member, and the military spouse and unless you’re in the military, you don’t hear much of the military child. We are the behind the scenes of the military spouse who is behind the scenes of the military member.
My dad is an Air Force Retiree. He served 26 dedicated years to his maintenance career as a C-130 Crew Chief. We lived 5 different places in my lifetime on the Air Force’s terms. Where we had to go and how long we got to stay was something we had very little control over. Change is more than a verb- its a lifestyle in the military. You learn to adapt quickly.
In the 26 years he was in, I went to eight different schools. Pre-k and kindergarten are a given. But the three elementary schools, the middle school and the two high schools I went to were another story.
By the time we moved to Colorado I was meeting friends who had lived there their whole lives. Seeing the rooms they grew up in, with painted walls, recounting the memories there… I was green with envy. I’ve always wished I had a a physical place to call home, to reflect back on the house I grew up in.
Because us brats grow up making best friends that sometimes last a few months before they leave and we have to find new best friends. We go to schools to be the “New Kid” more times than we’d like, many times in a foreign country. We have cried too often while seeing off our newfound and “long term” friends at the airport terminals. We watch as it takes a toll on our parents’ relationships as we say goodbye yet again while moms and dads prepare to go on another deployment not knowing if this would be the last time we see them.
So we hug a little longer, cry a little more, and love a little harder than normal.
While it made me sad to think about when growing up– as an adult I am very thankful for the life experiences and the revolving door that is the military. I have met sooooo many amazing people, lived in a foreign country I am blessed to have lived for as long as we did, in a culture I am forever thankful to have known.
I have family in all corners of the world. Our homes are in the hearts of people sprinkled around the world.
There is so much more I could say about it all. But I will close with this. As brats, we are cultured, we are united by the military culture, we are the distant echo from an unheard cry, we have sacrificed, but we always bounce back because we are resilient.
So you know Santa? How about the Easter Bunny?… Tooth Fairy?
I think my oldest does, too… Or she thinks she does. So I’m going to write this in the order of the ones she still believes in, to the one she now [unfortunately] knows the truth about, and what I did wrong.
[Not so] Pro Parenting Tip: Remember the lost tooth. (I know, silly right?)
The one I’m currently struggling with is the Tooth Fairy. She’s at that age where she’s looking more like a hockey player than my sweet girl. She lost her first tooth over a year ago when she was away from home so I didn’t have to deal with it then, but the first tooth she lost with me was when we were on vacation.
“Mom, how is the Tooth Fairy going to come if she doesn’t know where I’m at?!”
Good point, kid. We’ll save it away and tuck it under your pillow when we get back home. Long story short, the tooth never made it under the pillow and she ended up losing another one before that one was remembered and she was mad that she was jipped. Found the tooth in our luggage months later, put it under her pillow, she got a dollar.
I’m not so sure she really cares about that one because it’s money, but she hasn’t said she knows its me— yet.
[Not so] Pro Parenting Tip #2: When they get older, keep it simple…
Do NOT go overboard. I know its totally not the time of year, but Christmas only six months away. This year is halfway over! Here’s my next mistake.
So I thought I was being this super proactive, awesome, mom by taking a picture of my living room on Christmas Eve and “photo shopping” Santa in there (it looked legit!), and doing that PNP (Portable NorthPole) App where Santa talks to your child through a customized video for your kid (that app is awesome!), and by taking her to see Santa at the mall. Exceeeppppt she’s seven, and she’s picking up on small things like “That Santa’s beard isn’t real“, or “That Santa was fatter than the other Santa” and my favorite “Why are there so many different Santa’s and who was it that came into our house on Christmas eve!?”
Yeah, explaining that Santa is only one person and that he has soooo many helpers around the world to help him do his job was a hard one to explain. He’s magical, he’s everywhere, he’s always watching. But even Santa needs help.
If you’re going to use anything and they’re a little older.. use the PNP app. You can make multiple videos ranging from Santa calling to make sure they’re behaving or to tell them they’re doing awesome, to having Santa tell them what they need to work on to remain on the nice list, to a video on Christmas Eve. When Santa told her she needed to work on her attitude the horror on her face was so real.. SO for now this belief is still alive and [barely] thriving.
Mom FAIL. I did too much!
[Not so] Pro Parenting Tip #3: The Easter Bunny might not seem like a BIG deal, but he is.
To be honest, I don’t even really remember exactly what she said but it was along the nature of “I know the Easter Bunny isn’treal“… But I do remember saying “You’re right… Mommies and Daddies help make Easter fun, we buy [the things], and we do [the stuff] to make things fun for our babies” (or something close to that).
Instant regret crept it’s way into my heart as her face sank. She sat on the couch and tried to silently cry. My brain started pinging…
“But she just said she knew!“, “WHY did I say that??“, “Can I retract my statement??”
“How do I fix this?”
She wanted to believe, she really did. She wasn’t asking for the truth she was seeking confirmation that he was real. So I held her, and being that in my household we believe in God, I told her what Easter is really about. (Of course before I calmly explained that to her, I frantically texted my dad asking what do I do?!). I was sad that I just bursted her bubble. I know they’ll all figure it out one day, and I really thought she had… for the Easter Bunny, anyway.
So if you have an inkling that your kid still believes or wants to believe, don’t do what I did.
I learned this from an old co-worker of mine and our new motto in the house is “If you believe, you will receive“.
Its 6:07am (yes, exactly that) and my alarm goes off.
I snooze it.
Then again at 6:11, 6:16, and 6:21am.
I snooze each one.
This morning I was able to. Both baby sitters I have, including my backup, were unable to watch my youngest. Lucky me. No, really. Lucky me. It’s a rare occasion I get to be home and “bum it” with my kids (yet its hardly ever really bumming it).
7:15am. I hear my youngest chatting away in her crib, and thats my cue. I get up, start the coffee, and head to her room. Exactly as I expect, she’s peering between the bars of her crib and her changing table. I see the smile in her eyes as I enter the room and make my way to her. Her eager arms reaching out to me, I swoop her up.
“I missed you last night“, I say kissing her cheek.
We wander to the kitchen with her weight on my hip and an arm around my neck. A waffle for breakfast- her favorite.
“Mo nom-ah nom-ah!“, she squeals.
I pour a cup of coffee, add my creamer and we sashay to the living room. We sit on the floor at the foot of the chaise with my legs out in front and her on my lap. She leans back against my chest as she devours her waffle.
“Mommy left her coffee¹.”
She doesn’t care. She’s snuggled up with mommy bobbing away to Paw Patrol. So I wait.
Finally she runs off and I get up to get my coffee. Its in the same spot, just lukewarm now. So I top it off with some from the pot.
Pitter patter, pitter patter. “Mo nom-ah nom-ah!“, she goes again. This time its for her Sippy (which is also Paw Patrol). So I put my coffee down² and reach for her cup and fill it up.
We walk back into the living room and she has me chase her into her princess tent, and we play.
When she runs out of the room I go back to my cup-same one- but this time I dump a little out since the red light is still on indicating the hot plate is still heating the almost-hour-old coffee, and once again I top it off.
Thud, tumble, tumble. “Ma maaaaaa“. I abandon my coffee³ and scurry to her room. There’s no crying so I’m not in full sprint, but more of a brisk walk (think a 4-5 level) on the treadmill. She looks up guiltily as she’s moved her dirty clothes hamper and managed to unplug her nightlight/white noise machine and pulled it down from the shelf by the cord. I roll up the plug and stow it away until it makes its way back out for bedtime.
But this hamper she’s moved… its been tipped over, displaying the cootie-clad clothing from the week splayed out on the floor. It’s begging me to bring it downstairs to be washed- so I do it. I also bring another load up from the dryer and I sit on the floor and I fold. I fold and I fold until I remember I have a [probably frozen] coffee waiting for me. The light is off on the pot. The remainder of the coffee is no longer warm enough to make mine any warmer. So I open the microwave as a last resort and I reheat my coffee. *cringe*
While its heating up I decide to throw in a pizza (yep, its lunchtime now). I set the oven to 450° and the microwave signals that my coffee is ready⁴. So I crack the microwave door while I finish putting in my pizza.
15 minutes passes, out comes my lunch and shortly after we both share my pizza. Once its consumed I stand up, wash my plate, and place it in the dishwasher.
I turn around…and freeze. “Sh*t, my coffee“.
I take it out, walk to the sink, and dump it out.
I look at a bottle above my fridge. Is it too early for wine?! I grab a glass and the bottle to open it up…
• this story is based on true events • (in probably every single house that has a coffee-drinking mom). I really hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed reflecting back on my day!
If you have kids, you know what I’m talking about. Mom Bods.
I need to find humor in it some days to make myself feel comfortable in it. Here’s a quick true story.
° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° A Day at the Pool
Me showing off my stretchmark-clad body: “Lets get in the water.” Friend who feels overweight: “No.” Me: “Why not?” Friend: “I feel like a hippo” Me: “Well I look like a Zebra. Let’s just go to the watering hole together!”
And we laughed about it, and still didn’t go in the water for another half hour. The end.
° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° °
So lets get down to what makes a mom-bod.
The stretch marks (in places you never knew you could get them!), the loose skin (mine will probably only go away with a tummy tuck- that I’ll pay for when I win the lottery), the cellulite, the arm flab, the all around weight gain, the transformation of your hoo-hah for the next few weeks post-partum, the c-section scars, the boobs (or lack-thereof). Unless you’re one of those freaks of nature, whose bodies just bounce right back to being normal without a trace of a baby being in there- in which case I’m going to say is not normal. (I have quite a few of these friends. I wish I could hate them).
I mean, my body shrank back down to size, but my stretch marks got stretch marks! My calves got stretch marks. And boooooyyyy did my thighs get stretch marks. My oldest did some work on this mom bod.
Orrrrrr… maybe it was all the midnight Whoppers, and early morning root beers on the way to work. Or the fact that I took “eating for two” and ran with it! Either way!
It took me a long time to embrace the changes to my body. Even with working out and managing to get visible abs, the loose skin was still a problem. I lubed up my belly my whole pregnancy to try and prevent stretch marks, but didn’t know my thighs were my problem! After I had her, I swore off shorts for the rest of my life because of how purple they were. Yeah. That lasted all of 2 seconds since the house I lived in had no A/C. I tried to find creams to fade them faster, hoping they’d disappear. That didn’t work for me either. And these boobs? They were great when breastfeeding (aside from the pain of clogged ducts and the struggle for supply), but when I gave up on it… they gave up on me.
So I gave up, too. I mean.. I still wear bikinis, not to flaunt my stretch marks, but because I still feel beautiful. I just know that no matter what I look like, mom-bod or not, that there are so many other people out there who just don’t give a crap about my body. Even girls with “perfect” bodies, hate something about the way they look. I know the way I beat myself up about my looks and my body, almost every single other woman out there is doing the same, too.
I may complain about this or that or mentally pray that my husband still thinks the same of me, but we met when my oldest was two. So you can imagine the horror I felt at the thought of being intimate for the first time. We’ve been together 5 and a half years, and I still hide my body from him. I know, if he didn’t care then, that he doesn’t care now, and that I shouldn’t either.
I wouldn’t trade my mom-bod for my pre-pregnancy bods because I have learned to love my appearance more than I had before (and I thought I was hot sh*t, before). I mean so in a more humble way. I respect my body and the capabilities it has to form life within it. If Ihad my pre-pregnancy bod, I would not have my two beautiful children.
My version of what I expect my body to look like differs from what you expect your body to look like. All mom-bods are accepted forms of beautiful. We just have to learn to love our new bodies in a different light- and that may take a while. That is okay!
“One Size” does not fit all, when it comes to our bodies.
P.S.- I still love all my freak of nature friends, even if you don’t have to deal with most of these issues.
Is this something you think to yourself? I do. Daily.
I’m a bad mom.
Today I gave my toddler snacks for breakfast until it was time for breakfast, but luckily for me she was still hungry. Today, I let my oldest have some of my coffee. Last week I yelled at my oldest for forgetting her chores for the umpteenth time.
I’m a bad mom.
Many mornings I just want to lay in bed until the last possible second and then I rush my oldest off to the school bus. “Hurry, the bus is coming”. “Hurry and eat your food, you only have [xxxx amount of] minutes”.
I’m a bad mom.
A few days ago I wouldn’t let my toddler play with the floor vent she picked up from its hole in the ground. Then proceeded to drop an f bomb within sounds’ reach of her innocent ears, as she slammed it on my toes in her fit of rage. [Not at her, just at the fact that it hurt like a mother].
I’m a bad mom.
Some nights when I’m exhausted from working 12 days in a row, when it comes to bedtime stories and back scratches, I skip pages, and fib about how long five minutes is. Then lay my youngest down half an hour early so I can save a little bit of what’s left of my sanity, hoping she puts herself to sleep sooner rather than later.
I’m a bad mom.
Because sometimes Nickelodeon is my babysitter… what makes me even worse is that sometime’s it Spongebob & Patrick.
But the thing is… if I were really a bad mom– I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for making my kids sad for telling them “No”. And neither would you.
I’ve come to the point where I’ve realized, frozen chicken nuggets, french fries, cereal, or cheese slices for dinner aren’t going to kill my kids. That turning on the TV to keep them preoccupied so I can get things done around the house (or even just so I can sit by myself for even just a few minutes), won’t brainwash them for the rest of their lives. That disciplining them when necessary isn’t going to traumatize them, but mold them into [hopefully] respectful teenagers/adults one day. Even if that means I feel guilty or get too hard on myself for it because their momentary heartbreak, really breaks mine more.
I feel like I can always do better or I should have done this or that. So I asked my oldest the other day, after getting frustrated for asking her to take her things down to her room for the millionth time (that I ended up doing because she “forgot”), “Are you happy?” She said “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”. The guilt that was weighing on my shoulders lifted from hearing that simple answer. I need to learn to let go of the guilt, not hold onto it and move on. My kids are happy, they are fed, they are well taken care of, and most of all they are loved.
I need to stop telling myself I’m a bad mom. So do you.
I’m not a bad mom. I am a good mom. I can always better myself, but I’m not a bad mom. Neither are you.