If You Give a Kid a Pickle...

By now you should all know my unhealthily love for McDonalds. Only because I document it far too often on Instagram....but all it took was one trip that taught me a lesson that I will forever be grateful for. Seriously, who goes to a fast food restaurant and thinks that they will leave with anything more than high cholesterol or extra pounds? ๐Ÿ˜‚  I know I didn't, but sometimes things happen in the most unusual ways.

My daughter orders the same thing every time we go to McDonalds. A plain cheeseburger (only pickles) Happy Meal with extra fries and a small strawberry smoothie. It is always a guessing game between us on how many pickles she will get on her sandwich because it always varies. My husband was with us for our weekly Mickey D's run and he was quickly corrected when he tried to change up her order! Haha he lives in a house with very verbal women....poor guy.

So, Rowan gets her Happy Meal, opens up her cheeseburger, and quickly looks to see how many pickles she got. She shouts out "ONE!" I said "What? You were cheated!" She replied and asked me what that meant, the word cheated. And there I was stuck trying to explain the meaning of the word cheated to my 4 year old. Rude awakening. My husband tried to chime in a help pick me up while I stumbled over finding words she would understand. Unfair, deprived, and then I finally resorted to telling her that she should have gotten more than what she got. Her innocence quickly fired back with a "Why Mom? They didn't cheated me, I got one pickle. And it's a really big one too." 

I know I know you all are thinking what the heck does this have to do with anything or who cares, but it was a stop me in my tracks moment and instantly made me change my thinking. Why? Because in that moment I was reminded that my actions and words are shaping this young girl into what she will become. Do I really want her going through life thinking she was cheated because someone didn't give her more pickles on her cheeseburger? I hope you understand my point and where my heart is on this issue. It's not about the pickles at all, it's about everything in life. Why do we feel like we are so mistreated when we don't get exactly what we want when we want it? Why aren't we just thankful that we got one pickle? I scrambled to reply to my daughter that she was so right and how silly that was of me to say! I told her she was so lucky because she got a pickle! Yes, I know we ordered it and so naturally it should be there but when it's not, how do you want your child to react? I want my daughter to eat her cheeseburger no matter what and not think anything of it, like oh well at least I have food. It is not life altering in any way. Or go home and put on your own pickle.

Maybe you are thinking to yourself that this is so dumb and why would you teach your child not to stand up for what she wants or orders? Because life is hard & unfair already, I don't want her to constantly find the bad in everything she does. She will be let down so many times I won't be able to save her every time, but I can teach her how to think differently about things and situations, just like she taught me in that McDonalds drive thru. 

I remember before I was a mother, there was this great debate about all participating children receiving trophies instead of just the winners. I am not here to debate what is right and wrong, but I grew up not getting anything if we didn't win, but that just pushed me to practice more, try harder and to be a better teammate so we could win something. Too many times these days we expect handouts from life and when they don't come, we fall into a mood where we feel like a failure. Trust me, I have felt like this a lot and especially now as a mother and a wife. It doesn't have to be something great and grand to teach your children important lessons in life, or I guess it applies to adults to in this case. I am constantly learning from her. The spirit of a child is so innocent and pure. The joy they have where they just can't walk into the store, they have to skip, jump or twirl the entire way there. The way they love is so raw. They really love with everything they have because they know no different. So the next time you are walking into Target and your child is holding your hand, yanking it in every direction because they are skipping, look down and smile and maybe start to skip with them. Or the next time the waiter forgets something, teach them to look for the positive or ask politely. Find good in every situation and use the failures to teach valuable lessons. I now smile and wait for her to tell me how many pickles she got on her sandwich, because I know she is going to be thrilled either way. Today she got one again....and one big one. 

Start to treat people with the type of love you want people to treat you or your child with. Trust me, love can and will change the world. XO

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. Love your neighbors as yourself. There is no other commandment greater that these." Matthew 22 37-39

Letting Go of the Mom Guilt

I was out running the other day after my 2 week vacation and realized how much better I feel when I take time for myself. It was only a 4 mile run but it was something just for me. My daughter was at her favorite place, the gym daycare. Seriously. As I was running, I was smelling the air, listening to my breath, relaxed and thinking about how great I felt and how much I needed this. I forgot about me. Yes, I just returned from 2 trips but let's be honest that "vacations" with children are not vacations. I am mom just like every other day and still have the same responsibilities, just in another location. Please don't think that I am complaining one bit, just stating a fact! I love to travel so much and having just one child has allowed me to keep that lifestyle and stay sane at the same time, well most of the time. I was also taking the time to reflect back on my life and realizing how silly it was that I never allowed myself this time before, like there was always this guilty feeling. The dreaded mom guilt or so I call it. I love how running allows me to do this deep thinking thing, even with music blaring in my ear, I can still think and plan because isn't that what we do best? Multitask!

I finally didn't feel bad for dropping her off at the gym. I mean why in the world would I feel bad about that or even think to myself that it would ever be a problem? That's crazy. But at times I feel crazy. Maybe it is that I will only have one child. Maybe it is that my love for her is so strong I can't imagine life without her. Maybe it is that I am a total control freak and want her to only be with me so I can control anything bad that may occur. Because that is crazy to think in itself. I mean, she did get into an accident in my car while I was driving, but I still think that I can save her somehow. The burden that I carry around is serious and it has been quite the process letting go of all of this mom guilt. So many other mothers are so quick to give you the advice but if you have never had a child, it is scary. I did listen when my friends told me I needed to get my own life and get my daughter a sitter so I could still be a friend. I mean, I totally forgot about my old life and adapted to this new life as mom, which meant to me that I was stuck being the only caring for her.

I especially think that for me, because I stay home mom, I have become someone who feels guilty for paying for anyone to watch her. Isn't that the point of me staying home? Listen, I can tell myself all sorts of things to justify my actions but seriously, it is just plain crazy. I considered quitting my favorite Tuesday golf league when I couldn't find a nanny to come to my house. There was no way no how was she gong to a center to get sick or not watched. (insert crazy. I worked at a very nice one and would send her in a heart beat but I was convincing myself of anything to control the situation.) And I surely wasn't going to allow any of the nannies to drive her anywhere because what could happen if they were driving and something happened? Our current nanny now has a seat in her car to drive me daughter around....HUGE step for me, but it takes time!

So I had to let go. But how? Gosh, I can not be the only mom who struggles with this or has had these thoughts? I started small. Took her to a daycare center a few times while I golfed. I just re-read that statement and feel so dumb, but it was a major step in getting myself back to where I belong. I signed up for Stella & Dot. I loved fashion, accessories and it MADE me get out of the house and leave my daughter. I was like a new woman hanging out with all sorts of gals, meeting new moms and enjoying a glass of wine. Maybe I have learned a few things about myself along the way too. Like when I do something, I put everything I have into it. Was this my problem? Or was it a problem at all? I started saying yes to hanging out with friends sans kid or husband and eventually gained a new found confidence that I actually liked myself as a woman, not just a Mom. Being a Mom is great and all but it can not be everything. 

I bet you all remember the first time you went on a trip and left your child behind! I sure do! She was 9 months old, just stopped breastfeeding and I couldn't bear to think what was going on. She was with my mom of all people who clearly raised me. Well this is the feeling I get anytime I am leaving her, but the feeling I get now leaving her is unlike any other because I am free. Or maybe I should say I am free-er as I am still learning to let go. It is so hard!!!

I started this blog. I started cooking and baking again. Next thing you know I was applying for Liketoknow.it in hopes that I could be one of those awesome bloggers who make other women feel comfortable in what they are wearing and bring them great style made totally easy! I was accepted. I mean WHAT?!? It sometimes feels like this is all a crazy dream but I promise you, letting go of a small fraction of the guilt has allowed me to love and enjoy more things in my life. They say the best thing you can do for your children is to pray for them, and I do, but I also pray for myself. I pray that I can be the mom she needs and for me to do that, I have to take care of myself. It is not selfish, and really I think we both have grown from this. 

I still feel the guilt. Don't get me wrong. This blogging thing can get very time consuming but finding balance has become my greatest success and struggle. I am choosing right now, not to hire a sitter so I can work more on my "business" because I only have 2 more years until my daughter is in school full time ๐Ÿ˜ญ and I will have all day everyday to put my focus into this! I am doing it for myself and I love every bit of it. But I am setting aside hours of the day to complete the things that I need and want to do. Again, balance.

So why do we allow ourselves to feel so much guilt when we can not be everywhere every time for everyone? I hope that someone reading this can relate and know that there are probably so many of us moms out there carrying around this guilt. As Elsa would say or sing I guess, Let it Go! 

Cheers!! XO

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Stop Wishing it Away

Listen, I am just as guilty as the next guy. I find myself either saying or thinking, "Man I can't wait until..." Until what really? What exactly am I waiting for? More time to spend alone? Each stage comes with its highs and lows and I don't foresee the next phases of my daughter's life getting much easier. I look back at her as a baby and think "wow, why did I think that was so hard?" She literally laid there, ate and drank. But it was. Sometimesย I look at her and think to myself "who are you?" We are in what everyone refers to as the "Toddler Stage" and I don't get it. She doesn't toddle around, she is a raging ball of energy that consumes every ounce of my daily sanity. I have in fact re-named this stage to the "Trying to keep her alive" stage :). If you are a mother of a child around this age, then you totally know what I am talking about. I could make a million excuses why I have not blogged in forever but it is because when I do get a minute to myself I would rather watch some stupid mindless TV or shove my face full of food then to try to prompt my brain to work. Over the past few weeks I have had 2 working moms tell me they have no idea how I stay home with her because they are going crazy during the Summer. Yes, I do have my crazy days and I like to think I am getting good at crazy! Like my previous blog post, I have so much respect for working moms as I don't know how YOU all do it. But we are women and we always figure it out :). I don't want anyone to think that I complaining, because I am not at all! I am just sharing one mother's stories to share a laugh with that one mother who can relate. This is real life. Back to the stage I call "Trying to keep her alive". Seriously, the second I turn around she is into something she shouldn't be and she knows it! Making an extra mess on top of the one I am currently cleaning up. Then when I turn around to start on that mess, she has mastered the door handles and helped herself into the garage and has started learing how to use the power tools. It is quite comedic to see a 25 pound child carry a leaf blower, I guess I should just be thankful she can't start the mower. I don't know what I will do next when she learns how to unlock the doors....A few weeks ago I was calling her name because she was quiet and we all know that is NEVER a good thing, no response. So I kept calling and getting more anxious with each yell. I heard a few squeaks and laughs from her only to eventually find her in the dryer.....yes you heard me right. Happy as a clam making the dryer spin by crawling in it.

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I am seriously thankful each night that she is alive and well after the day's end because with each day it gets more and more risky! If I told everyone everything my sweet child has done, I would expect DHS to show up at my door step. I swear that is why play dates were invented. A mother's vent session on how we suck as parents, but hey it could be worse, right?! Like I said though, why do I keep wishing it away? With all of the stress and work that comes with raising a child, these are the memories I will always cherish and the stories I can't wait to share with her. Still when people ask me about having another baby, I kindly state that when God gives you perfection the first time, you just stop :) Haha. I don't tell them that in reality I would be in the loony bin with another child like the one I have. Her energy and spunk succeeds mine ten fold....and I AM young....or at least I tell myself that.

20 short months ago God knew exactly what he was doing when He gave me you.

I have heard of the "why" stage but we are in a whole other stage that is taking the cake. Everything right now is followed by two words. They may sound simple to you but when you live them daily, I am lucky I still have hair. She says "touch it" after EVERYTHING. Almost to the point where my husband I am actually looked it up on good ol' Google making sure she didn't have some disorder. I am not kidding. She is so inquisitive which is great, but does she really need to touch everything? At Target for instance, those stupid big red balls outside scream to children "TOUCH ME". So I am that parent taking her over to the ball to touch it to avoid a melt down. Or for instancec, we can be at home and she will say "fan" then I will say "yes, that is a fan. Good job." And with that comes a "touch it." WHY? Why in the world do I have to reason with my child in every department store as to why I cannot reach the lights on the 20 foot ceiling and that she really can't touch everything? So after another trusty Google search, I ran across an article that made me stop and think. She is learning, her brain is telling her body to explore and to touch what she is saying. Go ahead and laugh, yes I already know she is learning but to hear someone put it down in less harmful words changed my thinking a little. Like as if the article was like "which idiot googles with concerns of her child learning?". Really though, why do I let it bother me so much? What is a couple more seconds out of my day to allow her to explore? Well a lot actually. I have this plan and agenda for the day of how it should go and I did not put in pit stops for touches! Sounds so stupid when I type it out how I actually think. What could really be that important? I doubt if I don't let her touch somethings she will end up in a slow learning class because of it and no I don't remember if my mother let me touch and explore as much as the next person, but I am a very hands on visual learner and I have a feeling she is the same. I have to learn to let go of some of the control. It is a slow process but taking that step back is good for your body. I am not kidding. Being able to laugh about somethings and skip other things is kind of freeing.ย It's like the Island people. You go on vacation and they have no clue what time it is, no schedule and seem to have no worries. She has a way of knowing just what I need in life. I needed that small reminder to slow down and just enjoy this ride. It doesn't last forever. I want to be that Grandma walking into Target someday smirking at the sweet mommy and daughter touching that big red ball and remembering how I used to do that and how simple it seems.

Whoever invented bath crayons is a genius!

Finally what really inspired me to finally sit down and write a small post was at dinner last night. My husband works a lot of long hours and 95% of the time I cook dinner at home. It is much easier and I like to do it. Of course the other reason is that I have a 20 month old. Now you get it. So there is this new Mexican restaurant literally 1 mile from our house and they are usually not formal quiet places to eat so I thought perfect place to grab a bite. I made the mistake of telling the gentleman that we did not need a high chair if we had a booth. For the first 3 minutes she sat down then proceeded to spill the chips, knock over her water, and get the refried beans all over the seat. Nothing to harmful, just stressful when you are trying to eat and not piss other customers off in the process. I know I shouldn't care what they think or say but if I am honest, I do. I get anxious thinking that I am a bad parent and I can't get my child to behave. I could be like that woman in the paper who fed her child a margarita in her sippy cup and claimed she didn't know it had alcohol in it, but then I would be lying. EVERY mother knows what has alcohol in it :)

Of course we had to TOUCH the fish :)

My husband was sitting across from me, not helping the situation of course and I found myself getting mad, like almost snapping at her. She was climbing all over me, standing behind me on the booth pushing me forward, playing with my hair, and hands around my neck in a hug like form. I ย snarled and told her that I am with her all day long, you would think she would be sick of me by now. But as soon as I said that I don't know what came over me but I simply told my husband that I should just cherish it because in a few short years she won't even be eating dinner with us and she may not want to love on me like that. My mind was screaming at her but my heart was full of grace. I turned to her with my teeth still clenchedย together and smushed both of her cheeks with my palms and gave her nose kisses and told her that I loved her, like I try to do multiple times each day when I really just want to scream or cry. She let out a giggle and put her baby arms around my neck and said "ahh mama, lub you." My heart is hers forever. She has no idea the stress and angst she can cause me to feel but somehow she can simply make everything bad go away in an instant. Those blonde curls and gapped front teeth are the most precious thing I could wish for and here I am thinking it would just hurry up, grow up, and then all would be well. Again, just writing this out is hard because I can not think of anything worse that could happen, is her growing up and not needing me anymore and I just wished it away. So for now, stop the wishing away and start living in the present. You are needed.

With love, Lady and Red