Thursday, November 19, 2009

What About Me?

Recently, I realized that I was no longer me.

Somewhere along the way, we mothers lose ourselves. We are no longer the women we once were but instead become Trace/Ross/Julia/Jenna/Ryan/Emma’s (fill in your own blank) mother. Our lives revolve around the early milestones of our babies and evolve into taxi services transporting our older children from activity to activity. Before we know it, we spend most of our waking hours taking care of our children’s needs and neglecting our own.

I’ve pondered this lately. I love being a mom, obviously. If I didn’t I would have stopped with kid #1 or 2 instead of having 6. But lately, I feel that my children’s needs have over shadowed my own, almost to the point of my own resentment. When is it my turn? When do my own needs count?

I had the most wonderful opportunity to go away for 4 glorious kid free days. I met an amazing group of women, fellow bloggers, some of whom I already knew via the internet, and some I had never even visited their blogs. Thirteen of us shared a 5 bedroom, 3 ½ bath house in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We laughed until we cried. We talked and bonded and created terms that will forever have new significance whenever we hear them (Hot Dish-Both Ways and That’s What She Said, to name a few.) I didn’t change a single diaper, serve a single child, wipe anyone’s nose, break up any fights. I fixed my hair EVERY DAY. I wore it down instead of my usual pony tail. I wore makeup and clothes without snot or food smeared across my shoulders and pant legs. I focused on me and I asked another mom the second day “Am I a bad mother because I’m not missing my kids even a tiny bit?”

I came home refreshed, relaxed and was greeted by a house full of children happy to see me and instead of being ready to jump back into my life, I came back reluctantly, unwillingly, and wanting for more. And like any “good” mother, I beat myself up one side and down the other for feeling that way. What kind of mother am I??? Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy to see my children but I continued to ask “What about me?”

Where along the line did we mother’s think that we had to give ourselves completely to our children and our spouses, leaving nothing for ourselves? And worse yet, when we do take time for ourselves, why do we find ourselves consumed with guilt?

I’ve tried to understand coming home from my trip only wanting more and I think I finally know. I’ve been running on empty for awhile and one trip didn’t fill up the “me” tank. Maybe giving myself permission to write a book and take a trip without my kids only made the need for me more apparent.

Our children are selfish creatures. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it's human nature. So the fact is that we will never give our children enough. They will always want more. It occurred to me this week that maybe we’re actually doing our children a disservice by focusing all our attention on them. They grow up selfish and egocentric. Maybe we’re actually doing them a favor if we show them that we’re real people, with real needs that sometimes have absolutely nothing to do with them. Maybe we’re teaching our daughters that it’s okay for mothers to have interests outside of their children. Maybe we’re teaching our sons that their future wives need time to themselves. Maybe, just maybe, we’re teaching our children that life isn’t all about them and to think of someone else’s feelings, even if the person just so happens to be their mother.

November has turned out to be the month of “me.” I’ve focused on writing my book so many nights dinner consists of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese. I took my trip. This week I have activities 3 nights in a row (Wicked last night, New Moon tonight, a girl’s night out tomorrow night) and part of me feels guilty. But the fact remains that I’m there for my kids most of the time. I’m still taxi mom. I still kiss the booboos away, whether physical or emotional. My children still know that they are my favorite preteen/little girl/little boy/baby girl in the whole world. I read them books, tuck them at night and they know, hopefully without a shadow of a doubt, that I love them no matter what, with a love that knows no depth nor limit. And maybe, just maybe, if I love myself a little more, I’ll have even a little more love for them. The key, I think, is finding the balance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kansas City Ink - Family Style

A few months ago I posted about Kansas City Ink's newest artist, Emma.

She had just made a big splash onto the Kansas tat scene with her wide range of talents.  In true LA Ink style, Emma made KC Ink a family shop.

Meet Kansas City Ink's newest tattoo artist, her brother Ryan.  I had no idea that Ryan had any type of tattooing skills until this morning when I discovered him tatting his sister.

 Emma was a very patient client and willingly stayed still while Ryan worked on his master piece.

While Emma's designs lean towards more free form with flowing lines...

 Ryan's designs are much more linear.  (I suppose taking my children to church is paying off.  It looks like Ryan is giving Emma a cross.)

This was a joint effort.  Emma had already inked herself when Ryan decided to add is own touches.  If you look closely, you can see who contributed what.

Apparently, Ryan is now taking new clients.  Reserve you space today!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chasing Rainbows

Almost 4 years ago I learned that life is short.  You can plan to do things "some day" but some day may never come.

When I was a little girl I loved to read.  I also loved to write.  In the 4th grade I had a dream that I loved so much I decided to write it down.  I got a spiral notebook and hand wrote 40 pages, front and back, before I stopped.  I don't really remember what the dream was about but I still remember the burning desire to take the dreams in my head and put them on paper. I still have that burning desire.

My blog has reincarnated a part of me that was long lost, the writer.  I love putting our crazy stories into words (and photos.)  I love being able to use my imagination to come up with some of the off the wall ideas that make it on my blog.  But there's a part of me that wants more.

I was writing the story of Darrell's accident and death.  I know there's a story to tell but it's a painful one.  The farther I get from it sometimes the harder it is to revisit it.  So, for now, that project is on hold.

This past summer the seed of an idea was planted in my head.  The idea of a story.  The story grew, and changed and by September I had a plot of a novel.  I researched.  I organized my plot in a flow chart on a dry erase board.  I wrote part of my first chapter, the seed that grew into the plot on my board.  And then I stopped.

Writing a book is a daunting task.  There's a lot of words.  There's a lot of planning.  Characters, plots, subplots, motivation.  But there's also fear.  What if I can't do it?  What if it's bad?  The entire month of October, two people lived in my head begging to come to life but yet I couldn't do it.  What if I failed?

November is National Novel Writing Month.  Over a decade ago some people got together and challenged themselves to write a novel* in a month, 30 days-- the month of November.  They named it NaNoWriMo. (* A full length novel is actually 80,000-100,000 words which is my ultimate goal.)  I decided NaNoWriMo was exactly what I needed.  I also needed to realize that a first draft can suck, in fact usually does suck. Once I realized that it gave me the freedom to write without fear.

Now on November 8th, I have written 14,071 words, 17, 569 words total when I include what I wrote before.  My story is flying onto the keyboard and the amazing part is that I love it.  It's a first draft, so it's far from perfect, but I love it nevertheless.  But even better is support that I have gotten.

I expected people to call me crazy.  I expected looks of "oh isn't that cute, she thinks she can write a book."  I never expected the full on support that I have received. I never expected people to be excited about my book.  I have been blessed beyond belief to have people ask how it's coming, cheering me on.  This morning at church, my 10 year old nephew Zach asked me what my current word count was. My friend Kathleen, a doctor, answers my every medical research question, even the most mundane,  and is happy to do it.  My friend Kristi, a medical transcriptionist, answers every question I have about the job of a transcriptionist.  I've had 3 people offer to edit my book when it's done.

I ask myself, if all these people believe in me without hesitation, how can I not?

And so I write and my heart fills with joy with every word that goes onto my screen and I think maybe, just maybe, I've finally found myself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Holiday Card Giveaway

A couple of weeks ago I told you about my friend Tommi who made a beautiful digital scrap book for Emma's adoption. In the process, she created her own website and desided to start offering her services to other people.  To promote her Christmas card designs she's offering a Holiday card giveaway and since I've been such a tightwad lately and haven't had one in ages, I decided to pass on the information on hers!

Ready to send out your holiday cards? Thinking of the hassle and stress that comes with along with it? Worried about the extra expense this year? Let us help!

A holiday card should come from the heart, but should not have to cost a fortune. It is a simple way to send a warm smile and share the season with your friends and family.

By purchasing your Holiday Photo Cards at Ladybugs and Red Thread Scrap, you are also sending a smile to a child across the world. 5% of each order directly benefits the children of Vietnam through our charity Moms for Vietnam. Our current efforts are focused on Typhoon Ketsana relief packages, which include emergency food and blankets. This terrible storm left hundreds dead and thousands without shelter. With your purchase, you can help make a difference this Holiday Season!

Enter to win a complete set of (25) Holiday Photo Cards with the design of your choice! The GIVEAWAY begins Friday, November 6th at 10:00am EST. The GIVEAWAY ends on Tuesday, November 10th at 10:00am EST when the winner will be announced!  Visit Ladybugs and Red Thread Scrap Shoppe to
Enter the Holiday Photo Card GIVEAWAY!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some Things Are Better Shown Off At Home and Not School

Ryan has made remarkable progress since he started preschool. Since August he now knows all his colors and can even count. I wrote his name and Julia, Jenna and Emma's names on index cards and he can point to each card and tell me who's name it is. But when he sees the letter "R" he doesn't call it an R, he points excitedly and says "That's my name!"

This morning he was writing on a dry erase board as I was preparing to take him to preschool and I wrote an "R" on the board.

"That's my name!"

"Yes, it's the first letter in your name. It's an R." I drew another one and told him to try to write one. He wrote a P so I told him that the R was missing his "leg." I added one and finished loading the dishwasher. When I checked back on him I found that he had written several R's.

 On the 3rd R, Ryan decided to personify it.  The Mr. R has a face, hair, arms and hands.  And something else.

How do I know it's Mr. R? Ryan excitedly showed me that the R had a peepee. Anatomically correct letters, yeah.  Hopefully Ryan won't show off his new found writing skills at preschool today.