Monday, January 26, 2015

The Change

It's happening.  It's really happening to me already.  You know...the change.  I'm not even 40 yet and it's already started!  No, I'm not talking about the hot flashes although when I get mad enough I'm pretty sure I can have those.  No, I'm talking about something much much worse.  That's right my friends-the gray hair has started.  And I'm certainly not talking about a hair here and a hair there.  No friends-it's a full on salt and pepper war on my head.  It wasn't until we had family portraits done for the Holidays that I realized how bad it really was.  I had always joked that given my family history- I would be totally white by 40.  Well that's only a few short years away and now that it's actually happening full on panic has set in.  I decided in an effort to make myself feel better I would do what every one does...I googled "influential women with gray hair".  To my disappointment, this was what I found...

this is the first picture to pop up...
Thanks google.  Now I'm feeling better watching some woman who looks like she has seen holy terror in relation to her gray hair.
Next picture please...
REALLY?  YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME! There's that 2%&* snow queen again.

Third time is the charm right??
Next picture.
 Now, we're talking.  Halle Berry's rocking some gray hair...maybe it's not so bad right??

So naturally my next step was to examine in the mirror...
I'm looking-okay, I'll count them...I'm sure there are only a few.  WRONG ANSWER.
I had to stop counting.  I left the bathroom totally defeated.  So I went and asked Big Daddy a very important question looking for some supportive answer.

Me: "Will you still love me when my hair is all gray?"
Him: "well, you're already a quarter of the way there so I guess so".

Again, the whole world is against me.

All my life I knew this was going to happen at some point.  My grandmother and my father were totally white around their 40s and genetics just don't lie.  Years ago I used to dye my hair all the time with highlights, lowlights, etc.  But kids came along and honestly, it's so freakin' expensive with all this hair I have.  And if you know me at all, I'm pretty plain.  I've always said, I'm just going natural.  But for all the times I thought I was okay with it, I really wasn't.  Recently, I went to a new hair stylist (who is a good friend) for my most recent hair cut.  I was tired of the quick trim at Great Clips and wanted a new style to feel revived.  She went to work on my hair after I said, "do whatever...just make me look good".  Without batting an eye, she said, " you are beautiful."  (I smiled thinking of course you'll say're my friend).  But as she was cutting she talked about texture of my hair, etc.  I jokingly said, "do you see all that gray?"  and she replied, "yes and I love it."  For the first time, someone wasn't trying to change it.  I always feel like the first option when they notice it is, "well you can dye it".  Suddenly, I felt some confidence come back.  I actually looked at her and said, "really?".  and she said, "'s awesome".  So I left feeling a lot better about my hair, thinking maybe it's not so bad after all.  I've been checking out all my friends hair in the mean time...wondering if those around me are in the same boat.  Either everyone around me dyes their hair or else I'm by myself in this ocean.  I've resigned myself to the acceptance phase.  There's not a whole lot I can do-other than dye it (and honestly, I'd rather pay for the maid).  So with the help of some chardonnay and some good friends, I'm trying to kick back and enjoy the change and enjoy this new mantra.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Race

You know how you wake up and some days it's like you just can't get it right?  Well today was that day for me.  I was wide awake at 4am pondering the bizarre things one ponders at 4am..."if I make chili in the crockpot should I have Big Daddy cut it off before he goes to work?", "Did SK brush her teeth before she went to bed?", or "how come no one told me it was possible to be so totally in love with your husband but wish that some days he would just take a long freakin hike?"  And so began my messy day. I got up, made the coffee...before that was done the baby is screaming bloody murder at 5:30 wanting to eat.  I drag myself up there...feed her, while checking facebook, the news, and I might even glance at a quick devotional-and I mean quick.  Back downstairs to shower, get dressed, dry the hair.  By that point SK is up standing in front of me sobbing and tears pouring.  "what's wrong?"  Between sobs she says, "I miss Poppy (my dad)".  I say, "oh honey we all do!  But Poppy doesn't hurt anymore...he's having a party in heaven."  After more tears, we all take a deep sigh now ready to begin the day.  Except, Big Daddy is sweeping the kitchen while we all listen to Jake Owens "what we ain't got".  Now he and I are even more depressed.  We just celebrated 8 years married and it seems more like we are in a rat race than a loving committed relationship.  "you take the girls to practice, I'll cook dinner" or "since you're working Saturday, we need a sitter" or "did you buy more diapers"...these are the conversations we have resorted to of late.  It's a far cry from that moment you say I do in front of God and all those witnesses-or how Hollywood portrays marriage.  Don't get me wrong, I love my husband more than anything on earth.  But it's like we are somewhere in a valley-stuck in a rut that we just can't get out of.  Like quick sand...we're fighting to stay afloat between schedules, work frustrations, and the kids.  Most days I just feel defeated.  We have lots of discussions about how a lot of people are worse off than us-we have friends dealing with things a lot worse off than us.  But it doesn't change how we feel in these moments.

By this point, I'm headed out the door as he is feeding the girls breakfast and playing chase.  And can I just say, why does he get to be the "fun" parent??  I'm always doing the boring mundane things and he's doing the exciting ones.  I get in the car and driving down the interstate and listening to sappy love songs wishing for that spark...that new love high you get when you first met him.  My mind was wondering thinking about all our friends and how I feel like they all have these happy marriages.  I finally get to work and walk in-turns out the ladies in the office were having a soup lunch today and I wasn't invited.  Suddenly, the tears start falling.  I'm texting A saying, "I'm totally sobbing because I didn't get invited to lunch".  She replies she is sobbing "because of an extra dance practice."  We are so done for the day and it wasn't even 8:30am.  It wasn't really about a silly office was driven by a desire to be wanted.  Don't get me wrong, as I've said, I know my husband and I love each other deeply, but every day is not glorious-that's for sure.  Out of desperation, I called a friend and said, "I'm having a really bad day".  Of course, apparently most everyone around me was today.  She replied, "yep, me too."  But she went on to say,"whats wrong?"  I said, "SK was crying about my dad this morning, I didn't get invited to lunch, and we just celebrated 8 years and I feel like we are struggling more in our marriage than ever-it's just sooo hard to juggle it all!"  And her response has brought me to a halt today.  This wise friend who has been married 25 years and has 3 almost grown children said: "Honey, it's hard work.  But it's not a's a marathon.  Pace yourself and keep working at it".  and there it was.   I was so wrapped up trying to keep up my sprint that I lost sight of the prize-We love each other deeply and are committed to each other for a lifetime-through the so called race injuries, the miles when you have to push yourself beyond your mental breakdowns, and the celebration of accomplishment when you finish the race.   So tonight there will be a deep conversation about how we can better train for our marathon and focus on each other in the midst of the madness.


Monday, January 19, 2015

It's not about the cheeseburger

I don’t feel stressed. I mean I know I should be [see earlier blog post] but I just don’t feel like it. Maybe my threshold has just increased. Maybe I’ve become immune. I mean when my new babysitter who was supposed to start on Monday at 8:30 am called me on Friday at 2 pm to tell me she can’t watch the kids I didn’t even bat an eye. It was the same level of annoyance as when my free xm subscription expired earlier that day. I mean it sucks but it’s merely annoying. It’s not the end of the world. 

Normally something like this would send me into a full blown panic. I was beginning to feel proud of myself and how I can now take such crises in stride. I’m really getting the hang of this thing. I even [sort of] saw it as a blessing. “Another chance to spend some extra time with the kids might be nice,” I thought. I have truly grown as a person and I am expanding my horizons.

And then I went to Hardees. 

I had everything planned out for the flawless execution of my day. After K’s morning nap we would get into the car and head to the hubs’ work to pick up the dog since we had dinner plans with his parents that night. I even thought “Heck, it might be nice to pick up lunch for him on our way.” So I called and surprised hubby with our offer to drive through Hardees and eat lunch with him. Now anyone who has ever had a baby knows the importance of squeezing errands in between nap times. There is the kiss of death if my children fall asleep in the car. Even if it’s only been 20 seconds they awake thinking they have had their nap and they should now be allowed to play. So I’m a little psycho about nap times. Okay, a lot psycho about nap times.

But we had enough time if only just. So we pull into the line at Hardees which was a bit long but this is fast food right? It took about 5 minutes to get to the squawk box where we quickly placed our order. Nothing crazy or difficult- just two number twos. We then waited another 10 minutes before we got to the window and paid. At this point I began nervously checking the clock. We would now only have 30 minutes to get to hubs’ work and eat. This is doable.

Then the drive thru girl came back and asked me to pull forward. I grudgingly oblige. This was when I began to time the ordeal. Please note this was also when time began moving in slow motion. I tried to distract myself by checking FB. After reading the entire newsfeed I switched over to instagram. Having exhausted my social media networks I checked the clock again. We had now been sitting for a total of 20 minutes since ordering. I could feel my anxiety rising.

I quickly did the math. I now had only 20 minutes till it was time to head back home. “It’s okay,” I soothed myself. I had now switched over to pinterest and was alternating between searching clever homemade valentines and counting the number of cars who had ordered and left since I had been sitting.

I started to wonder if they forgot about me. I started to wonder what all these people had ordered that was so readily available yet my cheeseburger was not yet ready. I mean what else do they even serve at Hardees? There had been 12 cars that had ordered, paid, and received food since I pulled forward. What could they possible have gotten? Surely someone out of those 12 cars had ordered a cheeseburger. Maybe they ordered a different size cheeseburger. I had ordered 1/4 pound burgers. Maybe those other people were ordering 1/3 or 1/2 pounders. Surely they couldn't have all just ordered drinks. I knew it couldn’t just be the fries holding us up. I know how long it takes to drop a basket of fries and it’s not 30 minutes. “We’ve been here 30 minutes!!!!!”
At this point I can feel my face flush with anger. They have ruined my lunch. I will not have time to sit down and talk with hubs. This will probably ruin the baby’s nap which is a short nap anyway since RJ and DC have to be picked up from school. 

The seconds ticked by. I felt my heart pounding in my chest and the blood rushed in my ears. Two more minutes crawled by. Every time the door opened I sat straight up like a prairie dog to see if it was my food. I start texting Ziggy.

“There is nothing fast about the food at Hardees.”
“I’m so angry I could scream.”
“If I hadn’t already paid I would leave.”

And then it got darker.

“I hate them.”
“I’ll never come back here.”
“You should never come back here.”

And it was real. These feelings were so real they were palpable. It was a burning hatred.

As I was contemplating marching in to “speak” [yell] to the manager the door opened and the drive thru girl emerged with a bag of food. She casually sauntered up to my car and half threw, half dropped the bag into my lap. I swear she rolled her eyes as she did it. And without saying a word she turned and walked away.

Now that was almost too much. Not a “I’m sorry about the wait ma’am.” Not a “Thank you for your patience.” Nothing. NO-THING.

My blood boiled and I wished horrible things on her. If I could have hexed her I would’ve. I angrily threw my car into gear and stomped on the gas. Furious. She had ruined my day. Now it was a total waste, a total loss. “I hate her,” I growled. And I did. I had never felt such burning anger toward a single human being in all my life.

I spent the next few hours stewing in my own batch of “I hate you” soup and lashing out at everyone including hubby. I slung his food at him when we walked into his office. I was angry that it was HIS lunch that had caused me to go to Hardees in the first place. If it hadn’t been for HIM I wouldn’t have been subjected to such an outrage.

It wasn’t until much later when I was recounting the atrocity to a friend [and she was hysterically laughing at my reaction] that I realized maybe it wasn’t about the cheeseburger at all. Maybe, just maybe, the cheeseburger was the straw and I was the camel. 

And suddenly it all came into focus and I too realized how wildly disproportionate [and misplaced] my anger was. 

We all have these moments though. The ones where we lose our footing. Lose our sanity. (At least I hope it’s not just me.) It feels so real at the time. I can only thank God that I have dear friends to pull me out of my delirium. And I hope you do too. We all need someone to slap us across the face every once in awhile and yell



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

From Hell: The Birthday Party

A wise friend once told me the worst part of being a parent is going to other kids' birthday parties. Truer words have never been spoken.

Add to this the fact that the hubs works on Saturday leaving me with solo duty for all three kids. A few things result from this.
1. We do not attend many parties as the task is just too daunting for me to even consider.
2. I am the parent that has to sheepishly call the host mother and beg for an invite for the other children.
3. I am sometimes forced to hire a sitter and pay $10/hour so that I can take a child to a birthday party (because princess parties are just getting weird for my 3 YO son).

So overall you can see it becomes an issue. However I have learned to cope and I have just enough desperation in my eyes that other mothers generally take pity on me and help me with one (or two) of the kids. I can't help but glare at those blissfully unaware parents who have both parents present and just one child. I don't mean to hate them but in the moment I kinda do. At least until one of them adopts one of mine for the next 2 hours. But sometimes it all gets to be too much.

This leads me to tell you about the worst birthday party experience of my life. It was a while back but I had to wait for substantial emotional healing before I could write about it.

It was our first invite since the new baby and I was in the throes of potty training DC. Needless to say we didn't leave the house for months. The party was at the local gymnastics place which we have frequented so this was familiar territory. I thought it was probably time to venture out- after all we couldn't remain hermits forever. So I began the planning.

Now for us to leave the house at 9:30am on a Saturday I need to begin planning by 3pm the preceding Wednesday. I had the car packed by Friday night. The diaper bag for K, the potty bag (complete with M&M rewards) for DC, the extra pants and 3 pairs of underwear for DC, the nursing shawl, extra nursing pads, the gift, and so on and so forth.  You get the picture. I had the timeline all planned out.

7:00 am : wake, get kids breakfast, nurse the baby while they're eating
8:00 am: put on yoga pants and giant sweatshirt, attempt makeup, tie hair in messy bun (its hip right?)
8:30 am: dress thing 1 and thing 2
9:00 am: nurse baby again
9:20 am: begin strapping kids into carseats
9:40 am : (because for some reason it takes us 20 minutes to get in the car) leave the house
10:00 am: arrive perfectly on time

It was flawless. Now my plan of attack once we arrived included getting all the kids out of the car and safely into the building. I had what would rival a strategic war tactic in place.

1. Get the baby carrier
2. Let RJ (5) out of the car- hand her the gift
3. Let DC (3) out of the car
4. Herd said children into the building (praying I can find a good parking place)
5. Send RJ to drop off the gift and into the party
6. Shuffle the boys into the bathroom and make DC go potty
7. Wrestle his 2 pairs of training underwear, rubber pants, and jeans back onto him
8. Send him into the party with a prayer that he doesn't pee his pants in the foam pit
9. Change the baby's diaper

There were a lot of moving parts but I'm proud to say that I executed them all flawlessly. I emerged from the bathroom with my freshly changed baby triumphant. "I AM SUPERMOM!" I victoriously shouted in my head. "I CAN DO ANYTHING!" I walked into the party ready to show off my new precious darling and receive the accolades of my mommy friends. "How do you do it with three?" they would ask. "You are amazing!" they would say. "And look at this precious angel, I just don't know how you do it." I could hear them now.

There were tons of parents and children milling around but I couldn't find my group. You know, the ones you do the birthday party circuit with. As I got further into the gym I still saw no one I recognized. And then a horrible thought hit me.

I made my way to the front desk and panic stricken asked the girl "Um, who's birthday party is this?"
"Jenny's" she replied.
[Jenny!! Who in the hell is Jenny?!] I screamed in my head.
"Not Ava's?" I pleaded, my voice beginning to crack.
She sadly shook her head and as I looked up from the desk I saw RJ darting towards me tears streaming down her face.
"IT'S NOT AVA'S PARTY!!!!" she screamed.

The adrenaline kicked in and I went into full combat recon mode. I quickly told RJ to go and find our gift in the pile and to bring it back to me. I strapped the baby back in the carrier as quickly as I could and scanned the gym for DC. He was happily bouncing on a trampoline with several kids we had never seen in our lives. I ran to the edge of the trampoline and knowing there was no reasoning or explaining to him what was going on I did the only thing possible.

With a big smile on my face I motioned for him to come to me. He happily bounced his way over to me and as soon as he was within my reach I snatched him off the trampoline and bee-lined for the door. I scooped the baby carrier without even stopping just as RJ came running back with our present and we were out the door.

Before the kids knew what was happening I had them strapped into their carseats and we were squealing tires out of the parking lot. It was at this time it sunk in...for both of them. And the wailing and tears started.


This was when I snapped. I too burst into tears. It could have been my cocktail of sleep deprivation and hormones. All the pent up stress of the morning and the planning  and flawless execution had culminated into this. This terrible horrible no good very bad day. And (having mentioned that I had snapped) did the only thing I could think of. I drove directly to my hubby's work. Bawling. With 3 screaming kids in the car.

He was taken by surprise to say the least when we pulled into the parking lot. (He happened to be outside at the time.) I could barely catch my breath in between the sobs and the shudders. My nose was running my mascara was running and I couldn't even get out what had happened. Surely something awful he thought as he held me when my knees buckled in despair right there in the gravel parking lot.

"It *gasp* was *gasp* the wrong *gasp* week," and the sobs took over again.
"Wait. What?!" He looked perplexed.
"The party *gasp*- next week." And I looked up at him tears streaming down my face. Surely he could see what a failure of a mother I was. That this was all too much for me. That I had ruined everything.
He pondered a moment giving me a quizzical look and then he burst out into the loudest guffaw I have ever heard.
"Oh man!" he shrieked. "You are going to have one hell of a blog post!"

And that, my friends, is the birthday party from hell.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What the *#** Happened?!?!

So, yeah.  We just realized that we haven't blogged since September.  Oh we've both written a few things but never actually published them.  I'm sure there are so many of you that have been asking what happened to Ashford and Ziggy..or there are plenty of you who have not even realized we went missing.

So what happened to us?  Well between the two of us there are 5 kids under 5, 2 husbands who work non-traditional hours, 3 dogs, church committee meetings, dance classes, basketball practice/games.  There have been road trips to Charleston (hopefully Ashford can someday share with you the joys of being on a sailboat for 5 days with her breast pump), San Diego, Tennessee, Raleigh, Georgia.  There have been ER visits for ruptured ear drums, possible broken jaws, the flu epidemic, teacher meetings at school because the child doesn't act exactly how they think he/she should.  And of course there was that time at the bounce house when RJ got her french braid stuck in the velcro at the top of the giant slide and a rescue misson followed.  One of our nannies had to have emeregency open heart surgery sending childcare into a complete panic.  There's time set aside to pump/breastfeed in the middle of the madness-bc any woman knows that burns better calories and counts as exercise!

Both Ashford and I have been on a rough work journey this fall.  Both of us have been forced to evaluate our jobs and fight to keep them-for different reasons but still a similar struggle.  One of us deals in rare genetic disorders and the other gets to deal with all the problems in education that no one seems to have the answer for.  Both of us are the primary bread winners in our homes and that brings enough stress-but when you add the stress of possibly losing some of that income?  Well it's almost emotionally paralyzing.   At the core of where we are is feeling like we have failed or let ourselves down for things that are ultimately beyond our control.  There are marriages to try and hold together all while keeping the house from not burning down or falling apart.  Most days by the time everyone is fed/bathed/in bed, it's all we can do to even speak 2 words to our spouses.  Suddenly you realize it's been months since you actually got dressed up and had a date with your husband-and your too tired to realize you actually miss and need that.  You realize you haven't seen that neighbor you were dying to live next to in months because you just can't get away.  It always sounds like you have an excuse yet it's not even excuses. It is simply life. 

Add to this "life" that is so hectic the crushingly overwhelming need to give our children "magical" childhoods. There are apples to pick and pumpkin patches to visit. Desperately trying to schedule in a pumpkin carving session in between the trunk-or-treat and the family pizza/movie night. Trips to the mountains and the aquarium, trips to Boo at the Zoo, handmade turkeys with thankful lists on each finger and leaf rubbings to do. And then it's Christmas. There are dance parties and class parties all of which require some semblance of a home-baked pinterest-worthy reindeer themed treat (that is nut free, dairy free, and gluten free). There are Polar Express train rides to see Santa, the mall trip to see Santa, the live Nativity, the traditional family Christmas Light trip, and church Christmas pageants. Don't even get me started on the damn Elf on the Shelf- which caused insomnia for the entire month of December when I would wake every night in a panic at 2:30 am and struggle to find a cute and creative fun thing for "Jack" to get into and then not be able to fall back asleep for hours. Just don't mention the elf to Z-she's totally against it because she's instead focused on the Perfect nativity advent calendar and trying to make holiday happen for the families she works with. The pressure to do it all and to "make memories" and to make it all count. Make sure you're in the moment and not just going through the motions. "Embrace this time because they grow so quick and you will miss all this."

And then you find yourself struggling against the emptiness of the futility. "Why am I killing myself to be so perfect?" "Does my job even matter?" "Does anyone even read this damned blog?" "What is it all for?"

Ironically, when we set out to write this blog we did it because we felt like we were always hanging by a thread and there were so many people who could relate to what we said.  The truth is that we've been absent because we weren't really hanging by a thread anymore, we had cut the thread and were just trying to not drown. We know we aren't alone.  Whether you stay at home or work...whether you have 5 kids or gets entirely too hectic.  We all have our struggles.   

Z texted me today asking what my New Year's Resolution is this year. "Survival" is all I could muster. I'm doing it. I'm making these magical memories and I'm pulling it off....even if just barely. I did get a Christmas card out (even if it got mailed on the 22nd) and I did manage to make homemade pumpkin pies from actual pumpkins (not the canned stuff). I managed to keep my house from being condemned and bathed the kids at least twice a week (most weeks). They haven't missed a meal and they wear clean clothes but again just barely. We are all doing the best we can to hang on and keep it looking good. Check out my Facebook feed....we are the picture perfect family. At least I'm experienced enough to know that we are all in this boat. We are all presenting our best selves despite the dirty truth. We are not alone.

So here's to a New Year and hoping you all survive right along with us. And maybe, just maybe, we'll make a few magical memories along the way.

-A combined effort as we only have time to write half an entry. Hey....two halves make a whole right?