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When Life is TOO Much

I have raised my kids to rush from place to place and I only come to terms with it after I’ve found my sanity in the bottom of a bag of potato chips with my makeup running down my face. Call it a ritual at this point. I don’t stay this way of course, as I usually find myself taking advice from a five year old taking pity on me, covering me up with a too-small blanket and asking me to just take a break.

But I can’t just take a break. The world would stop spinning.

I live on a hamster wheel and there are times when I do stop but only if I spin out first.

Look, it’s no surprise that being a mom of 7 kids is chaotic and downright exhausting. And you can go ahead and say it: What did you expect? You brought this on yourself. 

But the alternative is what? A dull life? Sheer boredom? Living the same, day after day piloting two, maybe three kids? If the short end of the stick means that I occasionally experience the blunt force trauma of having a life of 7 kids catch up with me, then so be it. I wouldn’t want a normal life. I’m happy to not even know my freaking name by the end of the night; to be so tired that I sleep well—that means I’m happy right? And when I wake up and it’s a new day, I can get dressed knowing that I’m not fooling anyone—I’m not living a life that I really didn’t want. And I’m definitely not going through the motions. Going through the emotions, maybe, haha…but definitely not caring whether or not I’m coloring inside the lines with raising a family.

The thing that gets me through it all is being different—unconventional. Taking a traditional upbringing and turning it inside out. What does this build? Character? Self-awareness? Resiliency? I think yes to all the above. Our big family does not have a solid foundation—it is always moving; changing so much the concrete can’t set. As a result, someone is always unhappy, someone is always thrilled, or lucky, fulfilled, crying, feeling left out, or feeling too crowded. The list goes on, the emotions are always changing and sometimes just as fast as their ages.

 

To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t clone myself if I could, because even she wouldn’t get it right. I’d wind up firing her for fucking up, for not being me. There is no one else that could do this job. No one else probably would. But it’s all the same because it’s exactly who I am and I wouldn’t do any of it differently. These kids are a very different extension of who I am, of who I wanted to be and I’m so happy to see so many versions.

Crunch crunch crunch,

So Called Mom

Where are We Going to Live?

I think one thing we can all agree ranks fairly high on the stress-o-meter is the buying and selling of houses.  Both Pippin and I have sold homes before, and high stress has always been a given. Even when we were late getting out of the house during the winning bidder’s showing, they said to us as we exited, embarrassed: so sorry for the stress. 
So we decided this time we were going to try to do it differently: stress free.  I invite you along for the ride.
Last Friday we closed on the sale of the home we have shared for the past five years.  It was nothing special – really only one real bedroom and one bath. We essentially shape-shifted the rest, turning the living room into a shared bedroom for the two youngest girls, and coaxing a few more out of the large basement.  The market is booming in Portland, and we sold in the first weekend.  Now we have less than a month to get out.

True to form, we have no idea where we are moving.  I should be nervous as hell, cause I’m not that chill about the unknown,  but I’m not….yet.  Pippin and I had a conversation in advance and agreed that it could either be stressful or stress-free—that the road would be the same on the way out and the choice would be ours if we wanted it to be enjoyable. He makes a good point—but it’s not easy to just switch to that mindset.

To be honest, It takes great effort to push off the fear that keeps trying to creep its way in.  I am forcing myself into mind over matter mode, because if I don’t there will be a guaranteed meltdown by yours truly, which I just don’t have time for. In addition, and ssshhhh…we haven’t told the kids, but our vacation might need to be delayed.  Living stress free doesn’t come without compromise.  Anyhoo…I decided it’s time to start the search.

That’s step one.  But if we really are serious about purchasing the lot we’ve had our eyes on, we oughta start doing the research about home building in Portland.   At this rate, I’m concerned that we won’t even have time to build.  In any event, we need a Plan B.  I know enough that we aren’t rolling all our new cash into a house rental with no equity.

Of course I know that building a home is expensive, but I still have faith in our collective resourcefulness.  Portland is currently experiencing such a boom, there’s nothing remotely in our price range. I’m convinced we can build something far more space-efficient and have exactly what we want.
It’s a pleasant change telling my habitual free-ranging stress to take a seat. I’m going to join forces with Pippin’s unbridled enthusiasm for this up coming year. So this morning as Pippin fantasized about finally having a garage and a shop to work out of,  I decided to join in and imagine what it would feel like to have enough space for everyone, and everyone’s accumulated life-stuff.
How lovely to be able to imagine spreading out a little more. For now, at least, our world is wide open.
Deliberately Stress-Free,
So Called Mom

 

Me Time Part 2: Stay in Shape

The toughest thing about being a mom – or at least the thing that my friends and I complain most about – is staying in shape. There’s no time; it’s too hard to get to the gym or yoga studio – or I waste money because I never go; there’s no privacy. I’m here to argue that it’s so important for your sanity, that you need to make time. It’s not an option to do nothing. What follows is my simple fix.

I have four things I try to rotate on a regular basis (and I’m not suggesting you try all four, but just for options):  yoga, dance, strength training, and things for flexibility or stretching.

My rule of thumb is simplify!  I do most of my exercises in my bedroom. I wear as little as possible (so I can see my muscles at work), add some music and let it rip. It is me time with the aim of being disrupted as little as possible.  Of course, this rarely happens, but as we say in yoga, it helps me to stay “On the mat” – which means stay focused.  I used to stop what I was doing when they burst through the door, but I have learned to keep going and they either camp out on my bed and watch or even join in.

 

I use a blank wall for balance exercises and my dresser like a ballet barre, and the small space around my bed for everything else. Sometimes I focus on resistance training basics – you know, those exercises we all used to hate (and still do!)—I do as many sit-ups as my abs can handle, 10 pushups and about 120 leg lifts and lunges on each side. We have a pull up bar installed in our bedroom doorway, and I do 6 pull ups.  Of course, butt exercises are a must.

Always push yourself – easy to say; hard to do. But try to always increase the reps.  When you do pushups, start with ten and add one more every other day.   The same for plies and planks and any other exercise in your routine. Mix it up.  And most importantly, breathe. If you are holding a difficult pose, picture it as one of life’s challenges.  Picture the air intake enveloping the muscle group you’re working on and use it to breathe out as a stronger woman.

Remember to use your workout time as your time. Let your kids see you taking care of yourself, there is no need to hide behind a locked door or stow them in childcare at the gym all the time. My kids see me dance in the kitchen when I’m putting dishes away. I read vogue while sitting in pigeon pose. When you integrate simple activity like this into your daily routine, and stagger it throughout the day, you give your metabolism and mood a boost. And, you don’t let a lack of time (or money) be your only excuse to getting the strength and endurance you want to feel great.

At the very end of the day, unwind in a tub of epsom salts, stretch out and massage your sore muscles in the warm water. You’re worth it after all!

Your Simple Fitness Guru,

So Called Mom

How to Makeover Your Teens

I’m a believer that when you look good, you feel good. And looking good involves a good hair style and make-up. It may not be the most ardently feminist position I could take, but it’s always worked for me.  (frankly, this is not just for girls, but the teenage boy seems to be more generally resistant).  And looking good doesn’t have to mean looking like everyone else or that you have to be classically beautiful.  In fact, it shouldn’t. Sure, that girl is pretty. But how about you? There is no need to look like anyone else, as that look is already taken. I believe you can be yourself and still be fabulous.

Hence, the make-over lesson.  Which in my definition means more than just a hair and clothes overhaul, but also self-care which starts with skin and make-up.  One thing you can be sure of, if you don’t teach this stuff, the internet will.  And that usually doesn’t end well, with some pretty caked on versions of so-called contouring.

So far it looks like only one of my four girls is ready to start this conversation, even though technically Milla and Em are the same age. Milla has already decided, I look good enough without makeup, thanks anyway.  And she may forever be that person, content with who she is.  The other two girls are still too young.

But Em and I are going to play.  (added value is a great bonding opportunity!)

Next up:  A Good Haircut and Shopping Spree!

Your Sophisticated Lady,

So-Called Mom