One vs. Many: I Believe In Love

Unity and Strength
Source: Foundations for Peace

The last two weeks have been incredible. I think many in our country and throughout the world are sitting and simply trying to process some of the unspeakable things that have raced across news headlines.  Manchester, Egypt, Portland, Paris (the Accords), and now London. We have seen first hand the tragedy that arises when hate and evil and ignorance win.

Yet, in the wake of every tragedy, I see love abound. Continue reading “One vs. Many: I Believe In Love”

Surviving Parenthood: Kidless and Carefree

  

My husband and I escaped to Mexico on vacation for four days and three nights for the first time in twelve years. My oldest son is nine, so that gives you some perspective. That vacation was the smartest thing that we have done since we had kids.

As parents, we know that our kids come first almost all of the time from the moment they become part of our lives. As moms, I think we tend to take on even more. We are less likely to take time for ourselves, and our lives become all about everyone else – kids, spouse, work, home, ….

As you spend every waking moment (or at least most of them), doing things for other people, it’s easy to lose yourself,  to lose the “us” in your relationship, and slowly, to lose the joy that you get from the life that you have always wanted in some way.  You get angry, frustrated, and even a little hopeless.

Ironically, I think that I had reached that point over the last few months. My husband changed jobs and it was messing with our schedule and my plans. I was frustrated all the time and constantly distracted.  The only thing that I really enjoyed was my job, and while I busted my hump for my kiddos, I didn’t always want to actually spend time with them. I was drinking a glass of wine (or two or three) every night. I was overwhelmed and on edge and stuck.

And then this trip happened.  We were literally forced into it. My husband’s best friend got married in Cancun this past weekend, and we had to be there.  It was kid-free, and the bride and groom’s goal was that we would all be able to enjoy ourselves.  I won’t go into the disaster that was getting childcare for the weekend after a few sitters fell through, but on Thursday, when our Uber picked us up at 6am  – with me in tears and terrified – and my 34-year old brother with no kids in charge, I wanted nothing more than to cancel.  I was leaving my kids and going to a different country. I hadn’t prepacked lunches. I didn’t know if they would get sick. Clothes weren’t ready for the weekend. What kind of mother was I????

Then, we slowly fell into the trip. By Thursday night, I knew that everything was ok at home. I just had to let go. Who cares if they stayed up late one or two nights? Who cares if they aren’t eating the dinners that I had planned for? My kids had more fun with Uncle Alex and Whitney (since his amazing girlfriend pitched in too) then they would have ever had with us.

And, my husband and I got to rediscover ourselves and each other. We got to talk again about nothing for the first time in years. We got to sleep in until – wait for it – 8am – with no interruptions three mornings in a row. I went to the spa and sat by the pool to read cheesy books, and he got to play golf and nap to his heart’s content.  We ate too much and drank too much. It was heavenly.

More importantly, I learned something about parenthood. A lesson that took nine years to figure out but may have saved me from years of unhealthy habits and anger and hurt.  I learned that you are allowed to leave your kids to focus on you and your adult relationships.

Kid-free time is critical on this crazy journey where we strive to survive parenthood intact. Being parents makes us grow, but we can’t be who we want to be to our kids if we can’t remember who we are independently.  Remember not to lose yourself or you can’t help your little ones find who they are. You must lead by example.

 

A Hell of a Ride

We lost her this morning, but she fought like hell. Thank you so much for teaching me what a strong woman truly is. Love you forever, Aunt Shirl! #cancersucks #toughashell #alwaysafighter

Playdates and Presentations

Cancer pic

My aunt is a tough-ass broad. I say this intentionally, and hope no one is offended.  She truly is the toughest, most loving, woman that I knew.  I grew up in awe/fear of her – one of my mom’s little sisters. She always has her shit together (and is very likely to swear while telling you) and never (EVER) hesitates to say what she thinks. She had the “becoming a woman” talk with me because my mom was embarrassed. She tells my little brother when he is being an ass.  She’s amazing.

When my mom needed her the most 25 years ago, my aunt was there without hesitation. My mom had to start over in a different state with my brother while I was in Texas, and my aunt was the one to help put together the pieces.

She was an X-ray tehnician back in the 80s and 90s. She opened her…

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Thanks for the memories

Today is a day of food, football, family and friends.  My entire house is quiet, enjoying a late start and a holiday weekend.  I made the mistake of getting up to start the coffee and turkey and came back to this scene…

family sleep

Needless to say, I wasn’t going to fit back in the bed again today.  What to do when the turkey is on and you don’t actually have to be anywhere or do anything for another hour? Well, write for a few minutes, of course!

When I woke up this morning, my mind was replaying Thanksgivings of the past.

Meals when I was 8 or 10 at my Aunt Gaby’s, my first experience with fancy matching plates, glasses for water and “wine” or sparkling cider for the kids.  We dressed up in fancy clothes, and my hair actually had to be combed.  It was that classic Thanksgiving dinner you see in the movies, some family drama included, but completely surrounded in love.

In high school, I remember the wonderful chaos of Leza family Thanksgivings at Abuela’s house in Texas! 150 people or more eating in shifts at her two-bedroom house as various tias (aunts) carried in multiple turkeys, mashed potatoes, green bean and corn casseroles, Mexican rice, beans and more. Someone always made the candied yams with marshmallows – which I never ate because they were BRIGHT orange.  It was loud and lovely, with people laughing and yelling and singing (because the mariachi music always starting playing by the end of the night).

Then, we move to college Thanksgivings. For some of us, we couldn’t afford to get home for Thanksgiving. And in those moments, I learned how friends really become family too.  My freshman year, a collection of us stranded students attempted Thanksgiving, it was a fantastic disaster in the dorm common room but amazing at the same time. As the years went on, my best friend and roommate started to let me tag along with her to off-holidays (Thanksgiving/Easter). We’d make the trek to northern Minnesota from South Bend, IN – smoking cigarettes, watching for cops in Wisconsin because they are all about getting the out-of-state drivers for speeding, and singing at the top of our lungs to everything from Smashing Pumpkins and Cake (my picks) to Rage Against the Machine and Marilyn Manson (her pick).

Now, as a married mother of three, I start to think of my own Thanksgiving traditions.  Because even though I don’t feel grown up, my 6- and 8-year old will start to remember these days as they grow older. Our traditions will be different – they will be a mix of the amazing history of traditions that both Craig and I experienced. They’ll be good, with a little bad (as I will likely yell/scream at some point trying to get the house ready for the in-laws). But they will be loving.

Love

The key about Thanksgiving is it’s not about how pretty your table is, or if the turkey is perfect. It’s about FAMILY. And family, regardless of how they came to be, is love and really “all you need is love…”

Enjoy your day today, even if it isn’t perfect. Be kind! Give someone a hug! Call someone you love, even if you wouldn’t normally do it.

I am eternally grateful for my families. I grew up and still live surrounded by love, and I am blessed.  On this day of thanks, I am thankful for you – all of you who have been there for me when I needed it most. I send my love across the miles to my friends and family scattered around the world.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Must-Have Toys: Magna-Tile Mania

As we enter the holiday season, I am planning to focus on those things that we think about most during the holiday season – food, toys and fun.

Magna tile 4

The hot thing in the Sheehan household this month has been Magna-Tiles (or whatever knock-off brand that I found on Amazon several years ago).  These magical little magnet building blocks seem to entertain children of all ages.

Continue reading “Must-Have Toys: Magna-Tile Mania”