Why Sometimes It’s Okay to Not Like Your Kids

Whoahh okay, before you all jump down my throat about the title let me be clear about something: I DO NOT hate my children. Far from it! I LOVE them more than I could describe in words. Any mom would agree with me that the love for our children is unmatched. BUT, sometimes those precious little humans we birthed can be little you-know-whats, (starts with an “s” to clue you in a little). Also, every mom on the planet can agree with me on that one!

The thing is, kids have no filter whatsoever, and can be so cruel without even trying. So, most of the time when they want to say something it just comes out with little to no thought behind it. Like my four-year-old son who, no matter where we are, will declare for whoever is within earshot that he’s farted. Or my eight-year-old daughter who when she saw my newly chopped hair immediately said “I HATE it Mom.” Sure makes a girl feel good about herself am I right?

When I was a new mom I remember holding my son and trying to imagine ever putting him in time-out or actually yelling at him. Oh boy was I naive! Of course when they’re tiny and can’t really talk yet it’s impossible to see what little monsters they can become as a toddler. Yes, the terrible 2’s are real my friend. As are the terrible 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, and so on. Every age has begun a new phase of parenting, and they’ve all had positives and negatives to them.

No matter what stage of parenthood you’re in though, it’s all just plain hard. Being a parent is THE hardest job in the world, but on the flip side also the most rewarding. When my husband Jess and I decided we were ready to start a family we had no clue how hard it really would be, I mean no one does, but we knew we were ready to try our best and to do it together.

Today was just a hard day for me as a mom. It happens to everyone. It got so spectacularly emotional for me that I needed to leave the house tonight by myself and just have some alone time. I went and sat by my mom’s graveside and had myself a good ugly cry. My husband gracefully finished dinner with the kids, cleaned up, and they all were ready with hugs and “sorry’s” when I came back. What happened you ask?

Well, first off, I was exhausted from a terrible night of sleep. The aforementioned flatulent four-year-old has a terrible habit of coming into our bed at night that we just cannot break. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he HAS to be on top of me, usually on my face. I have nicknamed him the “face hugger” which is a nod to the movie ‘Alien’ for those of you who don’t get the reference. So, starting off my Monday tired was not good.

We also are currently packing for our move to Nashville which has been no small feat. I am already stressed up to my eyeballs about that, and our house looks like a literal bomb went off because of it. Clutter and disorder in my living space really throws me off mentally too, so add that to the list. Also, my husband is leaving for Nashville this Friday with our first moving truck. He will be gone for several weeks and when he’s gone I tend to be extra emotional and vulnerable.

Then, when the big kids got home from school the mom-shaming began. And no, it’s not the same as mom-to-mom shaming. This is straight from the mouths of the babes you gave birth to telling you how crappy of a job you’re doing. Oh, they’re so sweet when they can’t talk yet, but once they can form sentences they also form little opinions, grudges, picket lines, committees, and okay I’m exaggerating juuuuust a bit. Once they can, your kids will judge you for everything! Your clothes, hair, makeup, how you drive, what you watch, your music, your cooking, how you talk, I mean this list is endless. Basically nothing is safe from them, and you are forced to take a good, hard look at yourself from the perspective of a ruthless child.

So, I actually got dressed today! Woo! What’s the big deal, right? Well, on a normal day I usually am never in anything but workout clothes or comfy T-shirt’s and sweats at home. But today, despite being tired I actually got up and went to the gym in the morning! I usually do go, but never until the afternoon because I’m too tired and unmotivated. So, since I was done early I went home and showered and got dressed in a decent shirt and jeans. My oldest son, when he saw me said:

“Where are you going?”

To which I replied:

“Nowhere, why?”

To which he replied:

“Oh, you are just usually never dressed up.”

Dressed up?! You’re joking, right? This ain’t dressed up honey, but this momma is allowed to actually put some effort into herself even if she isn’t going to go anywhere!

Granted, my son didn’t mean for his words to shame me, but I really was offended by it! So silly right? But it’s not! We as moms should not feel like just because we may spend a majority of our time at home, that we have to dress accordingly. There really is no “mom uniform”! Yes, most days gym clothes are what’s best for me, and that is GREAT. But today I felt like putting on makeup and doing my hair on a weekday and that’s okay too!

From there, it all just went downhill.The two oldest could not agree on anything it seemed. A game they were playing ended in tears because one wasn’t “playing fair”. Then building of forts turned into a battle of who was getting the most blankets which also ended in tears.

I was making spaghetti for dinner which should be easy right? WRONG. One kid doesn’t like spaghetti but she loves sauce, another one loves the noodles but no sauce, and the third? Well, he ate everything without complaint (bless him!). But the two who were complaining just wouldn’t let it go. So as I’m making a meal all I’m hearing is whining whining and more whining. THEN the same two children started fighting in the other room as I’m cooking. I listened for a few moments hoping they would work it out, but is soon escalated to hitting and crying so I intervened. I sent them both to their respective rooms and maybe raised my voice a little more than was necessary. My oldest son on his way out stopped, looked me in the eyes and said:

“I always knew you hated me.”

Whoah. Okay first of all, not even a little true! But no, you know what, it’s a little true right now. I love you so much son, but right now I don’t really like you and how you’re choosing to act…… is what I SHOULD have said to him. Instead, I stayed silent and kept making dinner, praying for bedtime to come quickly.

Dinner was no better with the bad behavior. By the end of it, I slammed my plates in the sink, grabbed my car keys and purse and headed for the garage. My husband knew what was happening and told me he would handle it.

My kids love me, but sometimes they have a crappy way of showing it! Kids tend to not realize how hurtful they are, until it’s too late. But that’s what we need to make sure to teach them so they are aware of what’s okay and not okay to say and do.

Sometimes I feel so beat up as a mom like I’m some sort of mommy punching bag. That’s where I was last night. When these times come and I feel myself spiraling down it’s okay to step back and take a few moments for myself. We mom’s are doing the hardest job in the world: raising little humans to be loving and good adults! It’s not an easy business and sometimes I just DO NOT like my clients, and you know what, it’s okay!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Golden Girl

Colours are the smiles of nature – James Henry Leigh Hunt

One of the things I love most about the change from Summer to Fall is the changing of the leaves. Here in Utah, the changes start up on the mountains around late August. By the end of September, the mountains and surrounding canyons are an explosion of red, yellow, and orange.

The vivid colors never cease to not impress me, and I always find myself saying “Oooh!” And “WOW!” like a cliche tourist. But I’m not ashamed to say that these beautiful colors ignite my soul, because they do. We all ought to enjoy the beauty of nature and her canvas of color in Fall.

Mellow Yellow

A popular drive this time of year in Utah is called the Alpine Loop. It’s a 20 mile loop from Sundance to the American Fork Canyon that takes you through gorgeous Aspen trees, views of the Wasatch mountains, and Mt. Timpanogos. I had the opportunity to drive up there three times this past weekend and enjoyed every minute of it!

One of my favorite things in the loop is the groves of Aspen trees. The impressive white trees are just as dreamy in real life as they are in photos. They were definitely my favorites this weekend, and their leaves right now are a gorgeous yellow.

I felt myself very drawn to the yellow leaves more than the red and orange ones. I found it interesting that yellow would be so prominent with me this weekend when it is not a favorite color of mine. I have talked before about colors and their meanings in reference to chakras. The Solar Plexus Chakra is located in your diaphragm and is associated with the color yellow. The meanings associated with this chakra are:

  • Will power
  • Taking Control
  • Independence
  • Identity
  • Making Decisions
  • Confidence

What’s interesting to me about this is that lately I have been making some huge decisions with what I want to do with my life. I have been setting goals and making dreams and taking certain steps recently that will hopefully make them become a reality. It was scary to take these steps, because when isn’t it scary to venture out of your little comfort bubble? But I have felt more free and confident in myself than I have in a long time now that these things have been set into motion. Even though things are a bit chaotic and unknown at this point, I feel settled and peaceful with where life is headed.

That Sunny Warm Feeling

My mom has been visiting me in my dreams every night for almost three weeks now. I go through periods where she doesn’t appear to me at all, and then like now, she will come to me every night. I revel in my time with her in dreams, and I have found myself waking up feeling comforted and given a little boost. I know she has been visiting me because I have been making these big decisions that have been hard to do.

On top of that, being a mom lately has been very hard. Some incidents have come up with my children and I have felt lately that my hold on the reigns of mothering my children has not been the firmest. Specific things have happened that I was in no way prepared for so it threw me off, and have caused a lot of heartache and crying myself to sleep. There have been so many times lately I have ached for my mom, and she knows it, so coming to me in dreams is the only way she can.

Also, the yellow leaves. Yellow was her favorite color, and will always remind me of her. She painted two kitchens in two of her different homes yellow. At her funeral we ordered her casket spray in a beautiful yellow display which was absolutely stunning in the middle of bleak February.

As my husband and our kids hiked around yesterday amongst the aspens with their yellow leaves, my heart felt very full, and my mind was drawn suddenly to my mom. I knew she was communicating to me that she was there and loved me.

Hiking in the crisp mountain air, hearing my children laughing while hand in hand with Jess I felt a sense of calm. Being in nature in general always settles the anxiety storms inside of me, but this weekend I felt like the difficult life choices and work I have put in lately are not for nothing.

Also, this unmistakable warm feeling came over me and helped me to see that I am not failing quite as bad at this mom stuff as I think I am.

Going into this next week, I will try not to doubt myself like I have been. I need to give myself a little more credit than I do. We tend to be our own worst critics am I right? So here’s a word of advice to all of you:

Cut yourself some slack!

I need to take my own advice here too. We are all doing the best we can with the best we have been given in this life. That’s not to say we cannot improve ourselves, of COURSE we can. But when you’re giving it your absolute best, there really is no shame in the outcome.

So, go out there this week and lift your head a little higher. You have so much to offer, and are valuable and can contribute so much. Use that Solar Plexus chakra and think happy, positive thoughts.

Better yet, make them sunny yellow ones.

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

Photo by Jeremy Robert Photo

Fists of Fury

“5 Activities to Help You Be A Good Mom”

That was the caption under a pin on Pinterest I scrolled across a few days ago. No sooner had I read those words, an intense rage boiled up inside of me. Not just normal rage- “Momma Bear” rage. My husband likes to joke that I am sweet until someone brings out the “Philly Fire” in me and then people better watch out! And nothing stokes that Philly Fire more than my momma bear instincts. Why was this stupid Pinterest pin making me so angry? I wanted to punch the fake smiling mom in the photo in her face. Okay, that’s a tad violent, but who is she to tell me I’m not a good mom? And why would her activities ensure I was a good one? She doesn’t know me or my life!

I truly believe this is why so many women feel like they aren’t good enough. There’s this constant flow of ads on tv, magazines, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram making us feel like we are falling short. Social media in general can make one feel extremely bad about themselves if they are not careful.

Mantras For Mommas

Repeat after me ladies: I am NOT a bad mom!

Whew! Doesn’t that feel good to say out loud? Take it from my own experience: I hear at least once a day from one (or all) of my darling children that I’m “stupid” or that “I’m ruining their life” or that I am the “worst”, etc. etc. – you get the point. Normally these just bounce off of me because I know they don’t mean those words, but on those occasional bad days when their words do cut me down, actually saying I am NOT a bad mom out loud to myself helps! I’m serious! Next time you are feeling pretty low about your ability to parent, just repeat those words to yourself (or any personal variation) and you will feel better.

Some other popular mantras I like to repeat to myself are:

It’s Almost Bedtime

Mommy Is Not A Maid

Tomorrow Will Be Better

Mommys Need Time-outs Too

They’re All Alive So I’m Calling It A Win

I mean, this list is pretty much endless, and yes most of these are supposed to be funny! I would not get through most days without a little humor (and caffeine!)

If you’re day is going south fast, just take a few minutes to yourself. Take a breather, take your caffeine source of choice, sneak one of those treats you hide from the kiddos, repeat a good mantra to yourself and head back in there! It will all be okay.

The Year of No

By May of this past year I was feeling extremely burnt out. Between my kids sporting events, art classes, my sporting events, our church callings, Scouts, traveling, Jess needing to leave for Boise in April until September, my work with the American Cancer Society and with the Rape Recovery Center I was feeling at the end of my rope. We were just TOO busy! I felt like we weren’t spending enough time as a family unit, and it was starting to show. Not in any huge obvious way, but as a momma I could tell my kids were struggling with it.

In June after the Hope and Healing Gala I helped with for the Rape Recovery Center, and my epic trip to Rwanda with my Grandpa, the kids and I made our way to Boise to spend the rest of the summer with Jess while we worked. After the first week of pure summer fun and no plans whatsoever I felt so recharged, happy, and steady. I decided I needed more of that in my life; this coming school year, we would start saying NO!

This means that other than the things we have to do, we will not add more to our load. If we don’t need to commit our precious time we could be spending together, then we won’t. Our kids actually WANT to be with us, and who knows how much longer we can enjoy that? I really felt like we as a family needed some time without extra responsibilities and stress. We are going to focus this time on spending it together and strengthening our family unit while the kids are still little. I stepped down from helping with this year’s event for the American Cancer Society because frankly I was feeling so burnt out, and I needed to spend that quality time with Jess in Boise. Coming home only after a week or two would have not been a good decision.

Without any prompting, our kids have started saying no as well. Calvin after much debate decided he didn’t want to play football. I was proud of him for making that decision on his own, because I knew it was hard for him. Jess and I did not put any pressure on him to play or not, and he felt like it was not something he wanted to pursue this year. He has many years ahead of him left for sports, so I am not worried at all about him “falling behind” or any of that mumbo jumbo. Him not playing  has been a huge change for us from last fall in a positive way. He had practices every day and games every Saturday and by the end of the season he, and us were exhausted! It was fun, but a lot of time commitment. It was also a time commitment that Memphis and Shay had no say in.

So far this school year has been easy peasy. Our days aren’t as hectic and full as they were last fall, and it’s just what we needed right now.  I’m sure next year we will pick right back up and be busy with activities, but I am glad I listened to my gut and decided to start saying no.

Put Up Your Dukes!

As a mom it’s extremely easy to get offended and defensive when it comes to our kids and our ability to raise them. A prime example is me and that pin that made me so angry. I mean really, I have no reason to get so riled up by 9 words, I already know I am an amazing mom to my kids. The word that sticks out in that sentence is MY. These children are mine, and I am the only one who knows them intimately, and know how to cater to their individual needs. No one else would be able to do that! Each child is different, and each family is different.

All I know is, that I love my children fiercely, and I try my darndest to do my very best to raise them right. I make sure they go to bed every single night with kisses and knowing that they are loved. My husband and I parent together with what we feel is right for our family, and what’s right for us isn’t right for the next family- and that’s okay! Every family has unique challenges and beliefs and that’s what makes this world so diverse and beautiful. Our differences and acceptance of those differences is what makes a community better.

So keep doing you moms of the world, cuz you’re doing great!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

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Wahclella Falls and the Fish Hatchery at Bonneville Dam in Oregon

What a weekend! We drove up to Portland to visit my family and we definitely packed as much as we could in the 4 days we had up there. I wish we could have stayed longer, but it’s just a good reason to go back! We took two days to explore the breathtaking Columbia Gorge. There’s so many hikes and waterfalls- it would literally take a week maybe two to see it all! Because we have littles and little legs we needed to pick holes that were kid friendly.

The first day we went to the gorge, we hiked Wahclella Falls. It was not a flat or easy hike, and Memphis protested and demanded to be held several times, but we survived. Us out of towners were pretty cold at first and all had our layers on, but by the time we reached the falls I was sweating! The weather here is so unpredictable but we got really lucky and it ended up being sunny and pretty warm.

 

 

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The hike itself was gorgeous. I still cannot get over the moss covered trees! My kids called them “fuzzy trees”. My stepdad Rick was a fountain of knowledge pointing out every plant we passed and telling us what it was stinging nettle, and Poison Oak which thankfully no one walked through or touched! We even picked some delicious wild raspberries along the trail, but also saw salmon berries,Oregon Grapes, and huckleberries! We saw a few garter snakes and Rick picked it up while the littles squealed with delight.

The Falls were quite impressive. The greenery surrounding Wahclella makes it seem like you should be in Ireland instead of Oregon. It was quite magical really. We made our way to the water which was too cold to swim in, but the littles had a good time throwing rocks in the water for a long time. Okay, the adults threw some rocks too! The kids explored a cool dripping cave, and then we headed back down the trail to the cars.

That same day, we visited the Fish Hatchery which is across the road from the Wahclella Trailhead at the Bonneville Dam.

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We saw lots of fish, and even Bigfoot! It was worth driving over to see the hatchery.I had never been to one before, so it was very interesting to walk by all the huge tanks holding the baby fish in them. Tons of tiny fish were leaping out of the water which the kids enjoyed watching. We moved on to the Rainbow Trout which were so vividly colored, and the kids liked throwing in fish food and watching a giant writhing pile of rainbow fish fight over it.

From there, we moved to the sturgeon viewing areas. Man, were these prehistoric fish impressive! They even had a viewing window under their pond so you could watch them swimming underwater. The largest one they had must have been at least 10-15 feet long! Memphis loved looking at their eyes, and Calvin loved to point at the pieces of dead fish along the bottom of their tank. Shay just couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that they are as old as dinosaurs.

Once we were done watching them, we drove up to the actual dam. Inside, we took the elevator down so we were underneath it, and they had these viewing windows where you could watch the fish swimming up the ladder from under the water. We maybe saw one fish from under there, but were much more interested in the alien-like Lamprey which were suctioned to the windows! Their alarmingly sharp little teeth made it look like a horror film! Honestly, I could have watched them all day. I never knew that they are basically leeches and suck the fluids out of the fish they attach to! Calvin started talking to a group of people and told them that “They are basically related to Dracula!” which made us all laugh! He’s such a good tour guide!

We walked outside to watch the fish leap up the ladder from the top of the water. Sadly, we saw plenty of fish but none of them were jumping so we didn’t stay long. We got a good view of the dam from up there, and then called it a day.

It was such a jam-packed day of fun and we really lucked out with the weather being so nice and sunny! I snapped this photo of Memphis when we pulled into my birth mom Sherri’s house.

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You know it was a good day when he’s asleep in the car (which he never does anymore) AND covered in dirt!

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette

The Beat Goes on

IMG_1956.JPGFrom the moment I opened my eyes this morning that famous song by Sonny and Cher has been playing over and over in my head. I have no idea why “The Beat Goes On” chose to be on repeat today but I think it may have something to do with the fact that it’s my mother’s birthday. This is the third birthday we have had to commemorate since she passed away, and the sting of her being gone is still a sharp one.

Thankfully, we were exploring the gorgeous Columbia Gorge in Oregon for most of the morning and afternoon with my birth mom and her husband so I was distracted. But now that we have been on the road back to Boise (I took the first shift driving), I had a lot of time to sift through my feelings of what today means.

There is no direct link that I have with that particular song and my mom, although I know she loved Sonny and Cher back in the day, but those four particular words just kept standing out to me. It took me back to the night that she passed away. The wave of initial shock of her passing had gone, and my siblings and I had moved to the hallway from the hospital room she had been in. I decided to go back in for a few minutes to be with her alone. It was peaceful in there now that all the machines were off and all I could hear was my steady breathing as I sat on the edge of her bed. I held held her hand in mine. It was now cold and seemed foreign without her life inside it. I couldn’t physically speak but was sending her my love through my broken heart as tears silently slid down my face.

My eyes were drawn to the watch she was wearing. It was a beautiful silver one my dad had given her a few years before. I stared at the face for a moment and watched as the second hand was still ticking away- completely unaware that it’s wearer was now deceased. The thought suddenly was impressed upon me that this was not the end for her, but just a small part of eternity. Her mortal life was over, but there was much more ahead for her in the afterlife. Life continued on. It was a tender mercy for me to physically be able to see and feel in that moment that life doesn’t end here. It goes on.

Life has continued, and even though she is gone mom lives on in us. I feel her with me so often and I know she makes it a priority to check in on us. She lives on in her three children, her six grandchildren and countless friends and family members. Her spirit and who she was and what she stood for gives others inspiration.

I know she wouldn’t want me to be sad on her birthday, and I kept feeling her presence as I watched my birth mom with the littles today. They are as much my mom’s grandchildren as they are my birth mom’s. It’s beautiful, really to think about the fact that these two women who never met have a motherly (and grandmotherly) bond. I could not have spent my mom’s birthday in a better place than I did today, and for that I am thankful. My heart wasn’t as heavy today as I was dreading it to be and I know it’s because we are continuing this  crazy journey of strengthening my bond with my beautiful birth mom. Mom would not have had it any other way. Through our hardest trials and heartaches comes change and it always opens doorways to new roads to travel down. It’s pretty crazy, this life, and I am thankful to know that life and the beat goes on.

 

Happy birthday Mom.

XoXo,

Heather

The Raw Brunette