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Next Life, NO Kids: July 2015

July 28, 2015

5 Perfectly Good Reasons You are NOT a Bad Mom

The Internet seems to be the greatest place in the universe to find out whether or not you're a bad mother. The litmus test of "bad" mothering these days seems to be as simple as leaving a comment about literally anything related to raising children, or disagreeing (even respectfully) with someone's standpoint online. Apparently, total strangers really are the best judges of our character and determining whether or not we deserve to have kids. There seems no good reason why we shouldn't all take every opportunity to share our opinions regarding other peoples' abilities to parent; even if they're in no way based on actual evidence.

So, because everyone else seems to be doing it and I'm just as susceptible to peer pressure as the next person, I've decided to share my two cents. 

1. I don't believe there is such thing as a "bad" mom. 

We are all just doing the best we can with the tools we have. If your mind immediately jumped to, 'Yeah, but what about those moms on the news who...' understand I mean those moms too. Some mothers suffer from untreated mental illness, and sometimes the voices win. Others struggle in different ways effecting their ability to connect or empathize due to situations out of their control. 

I personally believe all mothers do the best they can with what they have. Unfortunately, some are unable to access the tools and/or support needed to overcome their struggle. It does not make them "bad" mothers. Just because someone does something we view as bad, doesn't mean they are bad.

2. You care. 

Let's pretend "bad" mothers actually do exist for a moment. Let's assume they don't waste precious bad mothering time contemplating whether or not they're good mothers. So long as you care to ask the questions, you might also be willing to grow and change as a mother and adjust based on who you wish to be. These questions are healthy and set a great example for our kids by acknowledging that there is no perfect. We're all works in progress.

3. "Perfect" does not exist. 

Often times it appears that moms who don't measure up to the unattainable standard of perfection are deemed to be "bad." Whether it's others placing the label on us or we're putting that shit on ourselves, it doesn't matter. Since the idea of perfection is as real as The Tooth Fairy, so must be the idea that not achieving it proves "bad" motherhood. I suck at both math and science, but this seems pretty logical to me. 

4. You're doing your best.

Even on the days you can't even - the days you perhaps don't make it out of bed - to work, weekly playgroup, or even the store - you're doing your best. On the days you lose your temper and yell or lock yourself in the bathroom so you don't, you're doing your best.

Maybe you decide to try again tomorrow, or perhaps you make yourself do the things you don't want to. Either way, you're not giving up.

5. Because I said so.  

What? I did mention these opinions don't have to be based on anything factual. If you're at all willing to believe someone else who might suggest you're a "bad" mom for no good reason, I hope you'll indulge me as well.  

I think you're a great mom, and I'll tell you every day. Although I'm totally guilty of placing these labels on myself at times, I don't believe they help anyone. If you're struggling, I want to help you. I have absolutely no desire to make any part of your life harder. I wish to encourage you to be whatever kind of mom you want to be because I know what it's like to struggle with motherhood. I know what it's like to be the non-custodial parent during a discussion about how "children belong with their mothers." I know what it's like to wrestle with something beyond my control and have it spill into every aspect of my life. I know what it's like to feel like a "bad" mom.

I know Judgment, but I also know Hope.

I understand I don't have power to change how you feel about yourself, but I want you to know you're NOT a bad mother. I want you to know that anyone who feels the need to take stock of your mothering abilities and use them against you is probably just struggling with their own insecurities. I want you to know you have support; because I know there's very little we can't get through with help. 

I want you to know you're not alone. As you read this, there is a group of mothers waiting to show you understanding and judgment-free support.  

All you have to do is join us. 


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July 27, 2015

Mom Rule 35: DO NOT Let Your Kid Watch TV All Day

Before I had kids, I had a list of things I'd never do. I'd never raise my voice, or make them sit at the table until they ate all of their broccoli. I'd never make them wear clothing they didn't like, or say things like "Because I said so." I'd never let them see me angry, and I'd thoroughly enjoy all the things. 

Once I became a mom, reality set in and I realized that I may have set the bar a little high. I'll admit, I've failed pretty miserably at maintaining every standard I've ever set for myself. I'm by far my own worst critic, and I compare myself to other moms on the daily. 

Last weekend we hosted a birthday party for our youngest. He's in love with Daniel Tiger, so the theme was a no brainer. We headed into the party store three days prior to allow ourselves plenty of time to getter done before the gig. I scoured the store for that obnoxious adorable little tiger, but found nothing. A little sweaty, I approached a sales associate to inform her someone had forgotten to put out all of the PBS supplies, and she dropped the bomb. 

They don't carry any. Oh... and I shouldn't bother trying another store, because no one does.

After I stopped panicking, I decided I was totally competent enough to take Pinterest by its glittery horns and do it myself. 

Piece. Of. Cake.

Now, there are many reasons Next Life, NO Kids is not a DIY blog. The two most important are my totally benign terribly concerning issues with perfectionism and bankruptcy in the patience department. 

I forgot. 

Naturally I threw caution to the wind, bookmarked every unrealistic project on Pinterest that should be left to the professionals, and headed straight to the craft store for supplies.

The next day I tried to chip away at the project, but found it nearly impossible to sit down with a three year old and a pair of scissors without reliving scenes from Chucky.

Friday morning I made the decision that it was do or die time. I was desperate, and those times call for desperate measures. 

I knew what I had to do.

I sat my three year old in front of the television for eight straight episodes of Daniel Tiger on Demand. It took about 40 seconds for the guilt to creep in and consume me. I heard a voice inside my head say, "Everyone knows good moms don't let their kids watch TV all day. Worst. Mother. Ever."

I used a life line, and phoned a friend. She didn't judge, confirm my suspicions, or tell me about all the times she'd completed far more complicated tasks without the use of an electronic babysitter. She just listened to me. 

When I was done informing my friend of all of the reasons I was failing as a mother, she gave me permission to cut myself some slack.

She reminded me we all have off days and do things we said we'd never. We're all just doing the best we can with the tools available, and none of us is perfect. I'm so grateful that on the days I forget that, I have other moms in my corner to remind me. 

I value the friendships I have with these honest moms who don't pretend or project that motherhood is easy. I understand how lucky I am to have judgment-free relationships in my life. These friends don't inspire me by being perfect, but by their willingness to admit they are not. Motherhood doesn't have to feel like a competition, and we get to leave those conversations feeling empowered to be better moms! Everybody wins.

Did I kick and scream at construction paper and tape that day? You bet your brass bucket I did. Did I need to put myself in "time out" a few times so I wouldn't karate chop my kitchen table in half? Obviously.

However, after all the tantruming (mine), I managed to pull it off and it was a huge success!

Let's be honest. My son probably won't remember the day I sat him in front of the TV all day so I could make a million ridiculous party favors. What he just might remember is the greatest Daniel Tiger themed birthday party he ever had.

Because seriously, I'm never doing that ever again. 

I am so excited to officially announce my partnership with Similac and their Sisterhood of Motherhood program! Its mission perfectly aligns with MOMmitment, and its purpose is to encourage support! My parenting struggles are always lessened when I'm surrounded by other parents who understand it takes a village, and in that spirit I'm thrilled to bring you #UniteMonday!!

Did you break any of your parenting rules over the weekend? Have you forgiven yourself yet? Tell me everything, and share your confessions via your social media channels with hashtag #UniteMonday, so we can all be reminded we're not alone!!

This post is sponsored by Similac and The Sisterhood of Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

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July 15, 2015

The Irony of Loneliness and Social Media

I have more friends than I've ever had in my life. I have people reaching out to me all day every day. My schedule is chocked full of connections with other human beings; coupled with very honest, loving, and sometimes beautifully intimate conversations.

Yet somehow I'm ridiculously lonely. Maybe it’s because the majority of my social interaction is via social media. 

No wait... that's definitely the reason.

A couple of weeks ago, our family had to deal with something shitty. A situation that was somewhat out of our control, and one that had me all fucked up emotionally. I don't like uncontrollable or unpredictable situations. I don't function well within or around them, and I know it. It most likely definitely has to do with the trauma of my past, but I dig control and manageability. I feel safe there.

So this thing happened; and my mind started to spin in all sorts of crazy directions - I lost my footing. It doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but it happens, and when it does I have the tendency to shut down and turn myself inside out. I then tell myself that no one wants to be around me all broken and guts hanging all over the place, and I isolate. I even feel sorry for my husband for having to be married to someone so fucking busted in half all the time.  

It’s pretty awesome.  

Anyway, this thing - this situation - was something I wanted to talk about, but I couldn’t bring myself to do more than give details. I wanted someone who knew me to call me out and say, "WTF, Dude? This is clearly messing with you. Talk to me,” but no one did. No one called me out because I have a ton of friends who don't know me. I connect with other women on the daily; about life and really intense, meaningful shit. I cherish each and every one of these relationships and the trust these women put in me. I have found a sense of sisterhood online that has in many ways saved me from myself. My gratitude is beyond words.

Then I shut my phone off or close my laptop, and they're gone. Shortly after, reality kicks in - I don’t really have many friends.

It's not for lack of trying, really. I do reach out to my "in real life" friends, and ask them to hang out, but they're often busy being awesome and saving the world. When we do make plans, life inevitably happens and one or both of us forget or has to reschedule. 

Even when I do meet up with people, it often feels stressed and awkward. I'm sure it's me. I feel out of practice or something; and there's often the matter of my guts hanging out. Lately, in between the awkward silences, I'm met with comments about all of my success online and innocent banter about my “internet celebrity.” 

These interactions leave me wanting to scream and also hide. They make me want to run home and send out emails apologizing for any disappointment I may have caused by just being me.

I have always been driven by human connection and service. Even before I got sober, I was the drunk girl at the party "helping" other people with their problems. I'm that woman. If you come to me holding something broken, I make it my mission to help you fix it. The problem is, I often put my own broken shit down in order to free up my hands to help you. The other problem is that I have legit ADHD and often see something shiny and forget about my broken thing - that thing I needed to do - and it makes its way to the very bottom of my "TO DO" list.  

It is while helping others through incredibly painful, traumatizing, and extraordinary shit that I have made peace with much of my own. I am convinced that when I meet someone suffering through something I’ve experienced, it makes whatever pain I endured during that thing make sense. 

This gift has allowed me the opportunity to help so many women and in turn help myself. I am eternally grateful for all of these moments, whether online or in person, and I know in my heart I was born with this purpose. Everything I have ever been through has prepared me for this role, and most of the time I wouldn't change any of it.   

Today though, I'm lonely. I feel empty, like I have nothing to offer anyone, and therefore useless. I'm tired of reaching out to real life connections who don't call me when they say they will, and I don't feel like chasing or begging people to be my friend anymore. I just wish this shit was easier, and I kinda want a hug from someone who isn't contractually obligated.

I don't know how to find balance between the safety of my online friendships, self-care, and the realities of real life.

Because those relationships feel like real life.

Then I shut off my phone or close my laptop, and they're gone.

Whether you love what you just read or hated everything about it, let's connect and talk about it! I'm always open to honest feedback. Come be social with me!

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, or on my Facebook Page!

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July 14, 2015

Don't Love Cheese and Chocolate? Don't Read This.

I don't usually do giveaways, but I really want to do something nice for you guys. I recently got my hands on a $50 gift card to The Melting Pot and I want one of you to use it! I want you to know how much I adore you. I want to make it very clear how much I appreciate every single one of you, and how much it means to me to know you exist. When I started this silly blog, I felt all alone and hopeless, and you have helped me feel connected to the world again by identifying with the good, bad and ugly, and helping me laugh again. 

I'll probably always be in awe that people actually read my blog. I am so grateful for all of the support you have all shown this site, Sober Mommies, and the #MOMmitment campaign. 

You are always leaving such supportive and loving comments for me and each other on the Facebook page, and let's face it...you're all a huge sack of awesome. When I'm having a rough day or feeling like the worst mom on the planet, you always brighten my day, and I want you to know it means the world to me. 

Okay, enough blathering already!!

To show my appreciation for all that you do and your complete fantabulism, I'm giving away a $50 gift card to The Melting Pot! That's right, one of you lucky sonzabitches is going to walk away with a chance to swim around in two of my favorite things... melted cheese and chocolate!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Whether you love this or hate everything about it, let's connect and talk about it! I'm always open to honest feedback. 
Come be social with me!

Find me on Facebook, Twitter, or on my Facebook Page!

Watch the video!!

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