Raising The Next Generation

Look around the world today and you’ll be greeted with stories of social injustice, anger, and confusion. It’s overwhelming and stressful to see. I say this, knowing that my stress isn’t even a fraction of what’s being experienced by the people truly living it. As a parent, you have to walk the line between protecting your children and raising them to be kind, productive members of society. My parents worked hard to raise my brother and I to be open minded and to see people as a whole being, not just their individual characteristics. My Husband’s parents raised him the same way. I didn’t realize how much this shaped my world view until recently.

You see, because I was raised to see people as people, I failed to recognize that in this day and age there were still people who truly despised others without even knowing them. I know now that that’s a form of privilege. While I have firsthand experience with discrimination based on my sex, I have never faced the kind of discrimination many around the world do today. I have the privilege of not having to truly see it because I’m not forced to live it.

I remember crying when I found out I was having daughters. I was scared because raising girls means difficult conversations about personal safety. It means worrying that their clothes may be too provocative and catch the eye of the degenerates of society. It means knowing that one day they may be told that their sex is getting in the way of their dreams. (I’m all fairness, I worry about that last one for The Boy as well.) We have a long way to go before it’s time for them to choose their paths, but as a mother, I still worry.

So what can I do to make the world a better place for my children? What can I do to make my children better for the world? I cannot live the experiences that others have, but I can choose to open my heart and mind to their struggles and learn from them. I can ask questions. I can accept that while I don’t agree with someone it is still possible to recognize them as a fellow traveler in life. I can choose to fight for those who don’t have a voice through my actions and words. I can choose how I raise my children and how I behave based on my knowledge of others. I do what I can to introduce them to others who look different, believe in different things, and have different life experiences. I try to show them through both my words and actions that when we embrace our differences we have the opportunity to create a beautiful world. If they learn anything from me I hope that it’s this: 1) Remember that all human life has dignity and value. 2) Do the right thing even when no one is watching. 3) Don’t be an asshole.

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Let’s! Get! Weird!

Life gets weird fast. Yesterday my daughter somehow managed to slam my nipple in her board book, I cleaned out our gutters while under a tornado watch, and my husband spewed muddy water into the kitchen while trying to fix our water pump. The day before that my daughters had to be bathed three times because they kept getting dirty and during the final bath one of them pooped in the tub. A couple of weeks ago, my garbage disposal made a weird noise and when I tried to show the Hubs it completely detached from the sink. (Its fixed now thank God). Never a dull moment in my life right? Sassy Queen Latifah God has fun with me a lot. I probably deserve most of the weird stuff that flies my way and I actually enjoy having something to laugh about.

This weekend we braced for a hurricane. Everything I prepared for didn’t happen. The power stayed on. The house didn’t flood. We didn’t even eat all of our hurricane food. (Probably because I hid it from The Hubs and told him he was in for it if he ate it before the hurricane hit.) Life got weird in a different way for once. Suddenly I didn’t have a thousand things to do. It forced me to slow the hell down. I took TWO naps! TWO! For those of you that aren’t parents, that’s incredible. I cleaned the Twins’ room so it finally looks like a nursery. I washed laundry AND PUT IT AWAY! I made an amazing hot dog with beer cheese fondue, homemade sauerkraut, and grilled onions on it. (It was a glorious party in my mouth.) I feel like super woman. To top it all off, The Hubs made me tacos and bought me cheese & M&Ms.

It opened my eyes to how busy I always let myself be. One of my favorite books is Love Does by Bob Goff. I highly recommend reading it. In it, he talks about how he says yes to opportunities that come his way all the time but tries to quit one thing a week. Some things are obviously unavoidable but it’s time to start making time to slow down. That’s going to mean better managing my time at home and not just at work. Less time mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and calling it “me time.” (We all know that’s not fulfilling anyway.) Less time watching stupid videos and more time taking care of things so I don’t have to stress about them. (Ugh. Makes me feel like an adult and I sort of hate it.) Here’s to making time for more of the fun weird and less of the stress weird! Happy Monday everyone!

The Little Bad Dog

I’ve written before about Luna, my Little Bad Dog. Luna was the very first part of my little family. I got her and the rest followed. Recently I told someone the story of how I brought her home and thought I’d share it with you.

Before The Hubs and I met, I was in a long term relationship. We’ll call him The Ex. We spent 3ish years together and I was hopelessly devoted to him. Hopelessly devoted but unhappy all the same. I spent too much time and energy trying to be someone that I wasn’t. I blame us both for that. The relationship was rocky and had been extra rough for three or four months before we broke up. We made it through Christmas and things were looking up until New Years Eve rolled around. That night, instead of having the party that we’d planned, we broke up. I drove out to my Mom’s where I proceeded to have a meltdown and be an absolute disaster for a few days. Enter The Little Bad Dog.

You see, and this should have been a red flag, The Ex always talked me out of getting a dog. He made up a thousand excuses why. I worked too much. I was never home. Whatever. So on day two of my melt down I angrily blurred out that I needed to get a dog. I quickly talked myself out of it but my Mom started looking. It’s important to note here that she claims not to have been looking but magically found a post about a dog near her house the next day. After seeing her picture, I decided that I had to go take a look at her at least.

Of course, I brought her home. She was so damn cute. Look at her! I couldn’t resist! I should have taken her back after she pooped in my car the first time. It was a sign but I ignored it. If you’ll recall, she’s the one who’s poop I fell into in my Bad Naked! post. She’s my baby though. She was the first member of my little (okay, big) family.

The Hubs and I like to say that she doesn’t speak English and is part raccoon. We call her the Tiny Terrorist, Duna, and A**hole most of the time. Crazy Eyes once said that we should change her middle name to Doughnut because she was so sweet. I told her that it should be Butthole. Now her full name is Luna Doughnut Butthole Barnes. She doesn’t listen, eats everything within her reach (which is a lot because she can jump like a cat), and likes to bark at everyone who enters our house (including us). She’s also the best cuddled in the world, sleeps by my side every night and in our laps during the day, and loves Crazy Eyes to death. I get the feeling she’s still waiting on The Hubs and our other dog and all of the kids to go away but she handles it well most of the time. As much as we fuss about her, we wouldn’t trade her for the world….well The Hubs might. Haha!

Sharing Hobbies with My Kids

Okay so the other day I wrote about my Empty Cup and how I’d picked up an old hobby to keep from going insane. My awesome best friend has taken up embroidery and inspired me to pick it back up. She makes pretty things for her baby. They are dainty and beautiful. Up till now I’ve just been screwing around on a pillowcase and trying to learn new stitches. I’m not great, but I enjoy it.

Last night while at my in-laws I decided to do a little embroidery on a pair of cut-off shorts for Crazy Eyes. She has a booty that fits in a 4T but is so tall that she needs a size 6 so I’m making shorts for her out of old pants. When you have a bunch of kids that are growing like weeds you save money when you can. Any way, while my mother-in-law bathed the twins I got to work. To my surprise, Crazy Eyes, The Boy, and The Oldest were all interested in trying what I was doing. If you ever want to test your patience, try teaching three kids how to hand stitch at the same time. To their credit, they were also pretty patient with me. I’m pretty sure I re-threaded each of their needles about 4 times at least. The Hubs even stepped in to help. The most interesting part was seeing how their styles and ideas were so different.

The Oldest wanted to make something with her fabric and thread. She saw it as a means to an end. “If I sew this fabric together I can make a bag.” Her stitches were small and fairly uniform. She got frustrated when they weren’t in a straight line. She asked me questions about how I learned to sew and what I could make. (My grandmother taught me hand stitch and I can’t make much.)

The Boy took a different approach to it all. He initially claimed not to be interested in learning to sew but, once he learned that Daddy and all of his grandfathers knew how to sew, he decided to give in to his curiosity. His approach was the most like embroidery. He had no interest in making a useful item. He just wanted to do something with his stitches. He made his stitches into a square and a triangle. They were uneven and a little weird but they were obviously what they were intended to be.

(I swear to God we bathe her and make her brush her hair!) True to her spirit, Crazy Eyes was the least interested in the final product. She just wanted to play with the needle and thread and make stitches. This isn’t to say that she didn’t get frustrated and pout a little when she saw that her older brother and sister were struggling less. She frequently made strange mistakes and unthreaded her needle every couple of stitches. After explaining to her that getting better takes time and practice and that I mess up sometimes she was pleased with what she’d done and moved on. Zen in all the important ways.

It’s easy sometimes to lump my kids into categories and judge them accordingly. It’s “my older kids” and “the twins.” It was good for me to sit and watch them explore with something new and scary and a little risky. I got to see them be perfectly themselves and learned some patience in the process. As an added bonus maybe they’ll be able to sew their own buttons on when they get older.

Mom Bod

I’ve written before about my struggles with my body confidence since having the twins. It’s not something I really anticipated before having kids. I think I just blocked the thought of it out and hoped for the best. When I was younger I didn’t like my body. I worked hard to learn to love it and now that that’s gone again I often get upset about it. Last week I was disappointed to learn that my waist is bigger than it’s ever been without a baby in my belly. For someone that used to pride herself on her “Brick House” measurements, (36″, 24″, 36″) this was a bit of a gut punch. Exactly what you want to learn the day before you take a trip to the beach right? Ugh.

I was determined not to let it ruin my trip though. Determined to make sure that I was in pictures of our first family trip to the beach. It’s such a Mom thing to be the one taking the pictures and not in the pictures. There are so few pictures of my Mom and grandmothers because they were always behind the camera or didn’t like the way they looked. I want my kids to see that I was myself with them. Thicker waist, jiggly thighs, and all the parts I don’t like. (I say jiggly thighs because my child, of course, felt the need to point them out while we were in the pool. Kids are a-holes.)

I’m so glad I got over myself and flipped the bird to that ugly voice in the back of my head. I had so much fun with my babies. When I look at the pictures I still see all the parts I don’t like but I also see the laughter. We spent like ten minutes trying to get pictures of us jumping in the air. It was a bit of a fail but it was hilarious and we had fun.

At the end of the day I even felt a little bit sexy despite being sandy and gross. I felt stupid for wasting so much time worrying about how I looked before our trip. I felt a little mad at myself too. It’s easy to forget that this body has done wonderful things. That it works hard every day to keep going so my family is taken care of. So here I am, rocking the Mom Bod and making my kids and husband laugh.

Please Say Hi!

Hey Folks!

So it’s been about 8 months since I started on my blogging journey. Since starting I’ve connected with many people via Facebook, Twitter, and other people’s blogs. It’s crazy to have people that I don’t know follow my stories but it’s also super cool.

I saw a fellow blogger who goes by the name “V” write a post asking her followers to reach out with a comment and I just loved the idea. It hit melike a smack in the face. I don’t know all of my readers. What are they like? It’s strange thinking about interacting with my readers but I’d like to do it more. You can read V’s post here. I really enjoyed the comments section on this post in particular. Their blog #Milleniallifecrisis is fun to read so I definitely recommend that you go check it out. So here I am, admittedly borrowing their idea.

If you enjoy my blog drop me a comment. Tell me who you are, what your blog is and what it’s about (if you have one), where you’re reading from, and (because I love positive thinking) what the best part of your day was. I look forward to getting to know you!

Have an awesome day!

Diana

My Empty Cup

This month has been insane. I haven’t slowed down enough to even think about writing more than once a week, if that. You know how they say “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? Well yesterday my cup ran dry. Back to back weeks of sickness raging through our house coupled with stress at work and The Hubs working strange hours had me giving more than I had in me. To put it into perspective, I had to take my husband to the ER this weekend at about 3am and then go to see Crazy Eyes in her first ever dance recital about 12 hours after we got home from the hospital. She was amazing, by the way. She missed nearly every step but she did it with confidence and pizazz. I couldn’t be more proud. (I was also proud of myself for carrying her up four flights of stairs on my back afterwards.)

I couldn’t have survived this far into the month (or this long in parenting really) without my family and friends. My parents and in-laws kept the kids overnight to let me rest when I was sick or to keep them from getting exposed to The Hubs’ cooties. Friends watched The Twins for us while my Mom and Bonus Dad were out of town. My brother called and harassed me to keep me laughing. My best friend sent me messages of encouragement. They all did their best to help keep us afloat. They cared for me and tried to keep my cup full.

You can imagine my shock when I suddenly realized that I’d given all I had left to give. I thought I was doing okay…well….surviving at least. Then yesterday I broke down. I told my Husband that I didn’t want to parent even though I hadn’t taken care of the twins since Friday morning. I cried and told my Husband all of the things that I’d been feeling but didn’t want to say or even think. A lot of what came out was guilt. (Good ole Catholic right?)

I feel so much guilt any time I try to take care of myself. I know that it’s irrational and misplaced but I really struggle with it. I feel guilty if I’m doing something creative that’s not food related because I feel like I should be spending time with the girls or cleaning the house. (Food is essential to life so I can’t feel guilty about it. *eye roll* I never said my logic was sound.) I even write my blog while multitasking 9 times out of 10. I feel guilty asking my parents to keep the girls overnight for anything that’s not necessary since they watch them so much and I work all week. I feel guilty spending money on myself because we have bills to pay. I gave in to the guilt over and over again and got lost in it. I tried to be super woman and got my cape caught in a jet turbine. I made excuses for why I didn’t have time to do anything for myself. Tried to pretend that putting bubbles in my morning bath or listening to audiobooks while I drove was enough to sustain me. (Putttinh bubbles in a 10 minute bath doesn’t make the bath any more relaxing in case you were wondering.)

So last night I picked up one of my old crafts. Within minutes I felt better. The most amazing part to my guilt-addled brain? The girls were fine. My husband was fine. The house didn’t burn down. No one scolded me for not spending every possible moment with my kids. I watched them play while I tinkered around. By the time they went to bed I felt like myself again. I was excited to snuggle and love on them as I tucked them in where before I just wanted them to go to bed and stop crying and leave me alone.

Hopefully I’ve learned my lesson. If not, at least I have this to look back on.

Dear Future Self, Stop being dumb and go refill your cup!!! Sincerely, Past You