Monday, July 10, 2017

Totally Unprepared Road Warrior

We drove straight to the beach. The kids piled out of the minivan and ran into the ocean. No bathing suits. No towels. Just sheer excitement and a hell yeah we drove a billion hours to get here we are going to jump in right away kind of attitude.



We arrived three hours too early to check into our rental house, so we eventually found a public bathroom to change out of our wet clothes from our spontaneous ocean dive and into our bathing suits. But nobody remembered to pack towels, so we drove to the nearest gift shop. I searched for the cheapest towels in the shop. I found some for $6.99 a towel. They weren't the most colorful but they would dry us off, I hoped. 

The towels did indeed dry off the kids as they got out of the ocean. But they were also the kind of inexpensive towels that left little bits of cheap terrycloth all over after patting dry. No need to wonder which kid was mine on the beach....not the one with the bright orange rash guard, nope mine was the one with little bits of blue terrycloth sticking to his wet/dry skin. 

Who drives a billion hours to get to the beach and forgets to pack towels?  This experienced road tripper, that's who.



That story is from last year's road trip. 

I leave tomorrow for this year's epic journey across a few states. I'm feeling nervous because I'm not packed and my plans are loose. But then I think about how unprepared I was last year, and really every year, and how much fun we've ended up having.

If there is one thing I've learned after driving thousands and thousands of miles with my four children over the last decade, it's that road trips are the best of times and the worst of times and make for the MOST INCREDIBLE MEMORIES THAT LAST A LIFETIME AND MAKE THE GREATEST STORIES.

Forgetting the towels is one thing, driving through Georgia in a minivan with no air conditioning is a whole other thing.  But yeah, I did that too. It was so hot, but funny and ridiculous and we survived with some funny stories.

One year we were (okay, me, I was!) obsessed with The Sound of Music. We watched the movie and sang the songs through six states. My motto if anything went wrong was "what would Maria do?" The answer was usually sing a song and feel better, so that's what we (I) did.

A lot of times I forget to plan beyond the destination. Like the time my goal was Graceland. After we did the tour, my kids asked "now what?" and I said "I have no idea."

One year I didn't really have a plan of where or what we were doing, but I made T-shirts for everyone. Priorities! 



Up until last year, I didn't use my phone or even a navigator thing-y. Nope, I looked up the routes on my laptop and wrote it out on whatever I had handy the night before, usually paper plates. That sounds so old school but remember using maps?! I mean what a lost art. Maybe I'll go old school and use paper maps one year. 

Over the years, we have collected maps; had countless McDonald's fries and milkshakes; spontaneously stopped at the birth places/museums of former presidents and inspiring people like Helen Keller and Martin Luther King Jr.; we've stumbled upon amazing art exhibits and fun free concerts in parks; we took goofy pictures everywhere with state signs and different props; bought peaches every year from our favorite fruit stand in Alabama; seen sunrises and sunsets over mountains and oceans and highways that are simply unforgettable. 

We have been road trippin and finding silly photo ops for forever. This picture is pre-Wade.

My favorite place that sadly closed down after a million years. SOOOOOO glad we stopped several times over the summers. When in doubt, stop and experience...that's my motto on road trips.

We always look for the genie.



I LOVE tours.







We've visited family and stayed connected to people and places that help tell the story of who we are. We've laughed over and over and fought with each other, and laughed again. We've learned so much about our country and people and ourselves.






Looking through old pictures and memories I found this from 2015 and it is the perfect reminder of WHY I keep doing this and why I hope I always will:

"Hitting the road with no real plans, a minivan full of kids and a heart wide open helped me be less afraid.

This road trip wasn't full of fairy tale endings, monorails, parades or fairy dust--it wasn't Disney World. 


Instead it was a real world adventure that connected my kids and me to pop icons, civil rights leaders, inspirational women and political leaders and cousins and family members, and a region that has a complicated heritage, and the idea of slowing down and listening and learning and paying attention, making the most of wrong turns and hitting the open road, and it connected us to each other."



I'm completely unpacked and unprepared, but here we go. 
We leave tomorrow for THE summer road trip.

Friday, July 7, 2017

fortysomething

When I turned 40 I thought I had figured some things out. I thought well, now I've totally got this. I know how to say no and set boundaries, I've had the babies and I'm over that stage, I got a couple jobs and became a working mother, I didn't think twice about panty lines or a little extra  weight, I felt accomplished because I was still in love with my husband. I mean I really had my shit together and I was ready for the 40s and beyond. Or so I thought.

I've been 43 for about a month and I can tell you, I'm way less certain about everything.

The 40s aren't exactly like I thought they would be. I'm still wildly happy in my marriage and still have a couple jobs to manage. But this parenting older kids worry coupled with perimenopausal hormone surges and anxiety, um it is rough.

This is how I felt right before I turned 39. This picture was taken at my first Listen To Your Mother show in Detroit.


This is me at this year's Listen To Your Mother show in Detroit. Um, yeah..pictures are worth a thousand words. This is how I feel about 43 and beyond.



It's weird because I feel stronger in some ways and more accepting of myself and others now that I'm in my mid-forties. But I also feel so worried about everything---my kids driving, putting too much pressure on my kids, not putting enough pressure on my kids, drugs!, people I love getting sick, me getting sick, football, not enough money, college expenses, global warming, war, my kids driving, drugs!....and the worry loop continues. I mean I'm not worrying about these things every minute, but the worries get so big with big kids and it can be overwhelming.

I'm still a positive person, but also a worry person. I'm more vulnerable and I'm trying to find strength in that instead of just resentment and fear. I guess the older I'm getting the more I appreciate everything and I'm so grateful for my life, and I'm afraid of losing it (it being all the good stuff).

That's my truth right now. This is my fortysomething. This is me at 43.

              ***************

People may accuse me of being a little kooky and a worrywort or an oversharer and a lot of other things. BUT they can never accuse me of being a poker face or unemotional. I own it. I'm cool with it. I actually find it pretty funny.

This made me laugh...




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wait Wait Wait, I Love You


"Wait wait wait, I want to tell you something," he said urgently.  "I love you."

One of the sweet little boys in the preschool where I work wanted me to know how he felt about me before I left the area where we were together. I was just walking into a new play area in the same classroom, but he wanted me to know that he loved me. It was important to him that I knew how he felt right then and there in that moment. That moment was his everything, until the next moment...that's how a preschooler rolls. Their moment, their right now, is THE most important. It's their everything. 

Being an assistant preschool teacher may not pay a lot, but boy there are perks. To be a witness to so much sweetness and love and the power to embrace a moment like no adult I've ever seen; to also support these precious little ones and their families for a school year...it's priceless.

Friday was my last day of my second year working at the preschool.
Not to sound all "I learned everything I needed in kindergarten"  but I really have learned so much about kids and myself and people and empathy and love and being truly present in so many moments and letting go and more. And yup, I didn't learn it in kindergarten, I learned it in preschool.

In the classrooms I have been in, the children don't care what color you are, what language you speak, how tall or short or fat or thin you are....they just want to play and find answers and engage. All of the children are different. It is fascinating to watch them interact with each other, or not. Some children need to sort, some children need to sing, some children need to jump around, a lot; some children need to look at a book alone and some need to have a "best friend" with them all the time. As one of their teachers, it's my job to figure out how to reach each child and how to make them feel safe and happy.


There's no judgment, just support and encouragement. The only certainty about preschool is that there are no good and bad children. Every child has a bad moment, or two or three. Kind of like all people. The difference is, preschoolers feel their moment and live it and then let it go (almost always). Teachers do step in and help encourage conflict resolution and coping skills, and then we all move on to the next moments of all kinds.


                          ***********


We were sitting on the front porch having dinner as a family. 





We were laughing and talking and eating. Pretty soon it was just Peyton and Tim and I sitting at the table. We were talking about baseball and summer vacation and road trips and football. We were trying to figure out how Peyton will get back from our road trip in time for high school football camp. I started to feel a little panicky and upset. 

"What's wrong mom?," Peyton asked.

That's when I went all Meg Ryan/When Harry Met Sally on him. "It's just...you...you...are going to be moving out soon and...," I cried.

"Mom, I have three more years of high school before I go to college," Peyton reminded me.


"I know! but it's happening! And I love you and I don't want you to go but I don't want to hold you back and I want you to go to college but I don't and...," I wasn't hysterical but I was a little cry-y.

Peyton put his hand on my shoulder and smiled a knowing, kind, older-than-15, it's-going-to-be-all-good smile.

He let me feel my moment. 

Just like that little boy in my preschool class I wanted to stop everything and say, "wait, wait, wait, I love you." I wanted my son, and my family, to know how much I love all of us right now before we move into the next area, or phase. That area and that phase will be good too. I know. It will be a new wonderful, a new important moment. 




But right now? This moment? I've learned from preschool, I'm going to really feel it and then figure out how to let it go. 

















Friday, May 12, 2017

Mother Yourself


I've been a mother for fifteen and a half years. 
In this picture I had been a mother for 2 days!!!!

I know a thing or two. I know that, sweet Jesus, it can be different for everyone. Like an autoimmune disease, motherhood is full of symptoms/characteristics that are unique for each individual. 




Some of us love the baby years. Some of us love when the kids get older. Some of us hate being a stay-at-home mom. Some of us struggle being a working mom. Some of us are helicopters. Some of us escape into our phones and reality TV. Some of us are totally chill and some of us need Xanax. Some of us loved being pregnant. Some of us didn't. Some of us thought it would be different. Some of us are surprised that we can love someone so much.

All of us have our own mother story--how we became mothers, why we wanted to be mothers, what we did to become mothers, how much we love our own mothers, how much we miss our mothers, how we survived our mothers...yup, everyone has a mother story.

Mother's Day is a chance to celebrate or honor all those stories. 

And you can do that however you want. Mother's Day can be about brunch with all the kids and in-laws if that's your thing. It can also be about going on a long run alone to think about everything good and bad or nothing at all. No matter what our story is, I think Mother's Day should be a day of self care. Mother yourself. Do something that makes YOU happy. Sleep in. Hug someone. Do not feel obligated to celebrate Mother's Day, or any holiday, in any way that makes you feel shitty or unauthentic (seriously, it just makes bad feelings worse and life is too short for that). Forgive yourself (for imperfections, expectations, and everything). Think about people that mothered you but weren't your mother, and maybe call them or text them. Smile and think about how mother stories are all of our stories.


Baby Wade

I posted this picture on Instagram with this caption:
I spent a decade with a baby on my hip. And a lot of those years were at a ball field like this picture. We are still at the ball fields, but no babies. In fact, I'm staring down/at the beginning of a decade of teenagers. Taking deep breaths. Trying to find a balance between freaking the fuck out and we totally got this. Miss the babies but love seeing who they are growing up to become. And so grateful for the chance to mother my kids. #motherhood #momoffour #mothersday #gratitude #throwbackthursday

Kind of dig these mom papparazi photos I've been finding lately.
I love looking back and remembering what it was like mothering little kids. I'm one of those moms who freakin loved it.

My kiddos when they were little kiddos.


Awww, I'm one of those annoying dog moms too! 



This was Mother's Day just a few years ago and woah, they all look so young.




Some Good Mothers Day Stuff:

  • Such a f*&%ing good commercial. 

(Click here to watch the video)



  • One of my fav go-to songs about motherhood and life.

  (Click here to watch the video)

  • This video made me cry. It also gave me so much empathy and mad respect for mothers of sick kids.

  (Click here to watch the video.)

  • This is a moving piece/video tells the story about mothers in jail and how that impacts families.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/opinion/mothers-day.html?_r=0


  • This mom movie will always make me laugh. I LOVE it.

(Click here to watch the video)

Happy Mother's Day to Everyone!
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Friday, May 5, 2017

Knowing My Truth


"You know your truth, you know who you are. Not everyone has to get it, and that's okay. As long as you are being kind and honest, it's okay. People won't alway get you or understand you, and that's okay." That's what I always tell my kids. And what I had to tell myself this past week.


We all put our lives out on social media. We open ourselves up to judgment and ridicule. Normally I'm okay with that because I know my truth. I own my truth...good and bad. I live authentically and I guess you could call me an "authentic poster." Yeah, that means all my dumb happy kitchen dances are legit. I am really that ridiculous. My love of finding light and rainbows is legit too. But so is my struggle with anxiety and ADHD and trying to make enough money to pay our bills and parent my four children and understand how having a complicated mother can still screw me up even though I am a middle aged woman. I live in a rental house, my yard sucks (my neighbors will vouch for this), but I love my stupid front porch and post pictures from there as much as I can. I try to keep it real and not worry about what people think.

I also write a blog and co-produce a storytelling show. I used to have more time for a YouTube channel and vlogs and sponsored blog posts with all my kids. I have put almost everything out there. And most of the time, I'm cool with it. I've enjoyed being creative, connecting on a deeper level with so many people and getting opportunities to do really cool things through my "possibly-over-but-authentic-sharing."
The kick ass theater where I've co-produced a show for the last four years in Detroit.


The newly refurbished upstairs of the theater where I want to renew my vows for my 20th in 2020. For real.

Back-stage selfie.


My co-Angela/Producer after the show. 

But sometimes, when someone doesn't get it, or get me, and says something to me, about me, that I find incredibly inaccurate and hurtful and upsetting....it just sucks.

That happened to me recently. Someone said something about me without really knowing me and it stung. At first I rolled my eyes and laughed. But then I felt incredibly shitty, even a little heartbroken. Then I got pissed, then reflective, then thoughtful, then pissed again. And if you know me, you know that was just the first five minutes after reading/hearing the accusation. Now, after a few days and a little soul searching and gut checking, I think I'm closer to acceptance.  Here's what I kind of have figured out for now....I know my truth and I'm going to do my life.

I got part of that great advice from a comic/positive attitude idol of mine--Goldie Hawn. She was being interviewed on The Tonight Show this week and talked about what getting famous really fast when she was young was like. "Everyone sees you from their perspective, they don't see you," she explained. "They see how they project on you. It helped me not buy into love, not buy into hate, or bad reviews or good reviews. I just sort of put one foot in front of the other and did my life."

Right  on Goldie!

In a way, I'm grateful for the person that said the thing that made me feel pretty shitty. It's a reminder that even when you are a pretty secure, keeping-it-real kind of person, words can hurt. Hopefully that will make me a more empathetic parent as my kids navigate their way through growing up in this social-media-loving-everybody-has-an-opinion world. Hell, I hope it makes me a more empathetic person in general to all of us projecting all of our shit onto each other.



I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing my life, knowing my truth, sending good vibes to other people, searching for light, loving rainbows and loving the hell out of my kids and my front porch.


My whole world on my front porch.

Looking toward the light. Finding opportunity and humor and compassion and lessons in everything, everywhere. Doing my life. 

My truth. My heart. My love.
Volunteered in Wade's class during for art projects and I was in love. Look at all the colors!!!!
The little brothers watching their big brother play baseball. Full truth...this is right before they got in a fist fight and were throwing rocks at the lights and we had to leave. :)
I love this picture. It's like parenthood paparazzi caught a moment where I was making my teenager laugh. And not like a oh my god mom you are so dumb laugh. Ahhhhh!!!!!
This kid is joy and energy and light and love.
In honor of keeping it real,  Tim is showing them a clip from The Family Guy. That cheapens this cute family picture doesn't it? Lol. It wasn't a horrible clip. It was the one where the talking fly can't figure out how to fly out the window....do you know that clip. It's funny.

A parent of a student at the preschool (where I work as an assistant teacher) made this quilt for me. SHE MADE IT BECAUSE I LOVE RAINBOWS!!! I mean, what! Amazing. I cried. 
Looking for the light, walking in my truth and trying to teach my children to do the same. Love and light forever and ever and ever and always and summer I can't wait for you.

LOVE this message. This was the song playing at the end of the show on Sunday.


(Click here to watch the video).


LOVE this song too.



(Click here to watch the video.)