Featured

Yo.

Hi, y’all!

I’m Christy.  I’m a 4th grade teacher from Wisconsin, where I live with my husband (also a teacher) and my 6 year old daughter, A, and my 4 y ear old son, E.  I have always loved to write and make people laugh, and lately it seems combining the two has brought some joy!

Before I had A and E, I got pregnant with twins after suffering from infertility. They were born too early and died when I was 24 weeks pregnant.  Since then, I have looked at life so differently-I try to be grateful for the little things.  When things get overwhelming, I also try to remember that I have lived through that, so I should just take a deep breath and keep going.

I love life, even though it’s messy, and I like laughing at the really silly parts of it.  Almost always when something is happening to me that feels really awful, I think to myself, “Well, at least this will make a good story later!”

So, that’s what I’m here to do: tell you those stories.  Hopefully you can relate to one, or something I say resonates with you and you think,”Oh, if this is happening to me, at least it’s happening to Christy, too.”  I think there is such a big power in just having that, “Oh, you too?” moment.  With everything going on in our lives, it’s nice to just have that connection.

I’m a busy mom and I work full time, but I care about you-so drop me a message or a comment whenever you can!

In the meantime, it’s nice to meet you!  Let’s get to know each other!

Buttons

Today, my 4-year old son pushed EVERY button that I have.  I swear, there are days when he is like a little tornado and he breaks or hits or spills or ruins EVERYTHING in his path. By dinnertime, my patience was completely gone.

And when my patience is gone?  Everything just gets worse.  So, instead of me saying, “Oh, that’s too bad that you spilled your milk again.  Please clean it up and now you can have water for the rest of dinner,” it turned into me yelling, “SERIOUSLY?  I swear all you did all day was make giant messes for me to clean up!  GO get a towel, right now!”

So, of course, instead of cleaning it up, he pounded his fist on the table and screamed, “EH!!!!” and gave me a look.

His sister looked up from her dinner plate and quipped, “Geeze, mom, it looks like E is not listening to you at ALL today.  Are you going to take his lego train away?”

Daggers.  DAGGERS in her direction.  HOW, oh how do kids get so sassy?

Then, of course, and I bet you can guess what I did next, I yelled, “I have had enough!  It’s time for a time out!”

You guys.  I don’t even use time outs.  I don’t even really think they work in the way that people use them.  I think a break from something or time away can work, but the way I was handling this was failing miserably.

2 minutes later, we were both sitting on the floor, hugging each other, and crying.

What I know:  my kids feed off my attitude, my demeanor, and my actions.  I also know that my son is very physical and busy and he spills and breaks things all the time and I know that he (almost always) doesn’t do it on purpose.  I know that I need to show him that I’m serious and show him that he can’t push me, but that I still respect him.

Right now, my husband is in another country, and he’s going to be gone for 3 weeks.  My anxiety is high, I’m not sleeping, and I don’t have another adult around to coach me (my husband and I coach each other or tag team when things get rough, so we don’t have things like this happen).

But, now I’m sitting here, feeling like I’m the worst mom on the planet and wondering how I was ever allowed to have kids.  I’m debating whether I should write out how I really feel, which is a failure.  A complete and utter failure.

A friend of mine once told me, “Be careful not to take too much credit for what your kids do that is great, because if you do, you’re also taking responsibility for their mess-ups.”  I totally loved that when I heard it, and I try to remind myself that only so much of what I do has anything to do with how they act.

But, then, there are days when all the parenting articles and books I’ve read and all my teaching experience just gets thrown out the window, and I’m sitting on the floor, hugging my kid and sobbing.

I would tell anyone else, “You are a GREAT mom!  We all mess up!  Go easy on yourself!” and I would mean it.

But, not for me.  For me, I think, “You suck so bad.  How can you do this again?  You’re going to ruin your kid for life and now he’s crying because you can’t even handle being a parent.”

I’m tired, tonight.  Weary.  Right now we’re watching our 3rd episode in a row of some terrible show on Netflix because we tried to do art and I got out all the paint supplies and my daughter painted her brother’s face and he threw his paint brush at her because he was mad.

Tomorrow will be a new day, though, and after they go to bed I’m going to watch 2 episodes of Scandal without anyone saying “MAMA!” and eat some chocolate, and attempt to get a good night’s sleep.

And tomorrow I will remember that although I’m not perfect, and although I mess up, my kids are going to be ok.  Maybe even great.

Just need to breathe-we’ve got this, you guys.  Whether your struggle is with your spouse or parents or children, just take a breath.  Give yourself a pep talk.

On we go.

 

Notes from a 24-Hour Trip

  1.  That whole thing where the kid asks, “Are we there yet?” over and over and over and over?  Yep, it’s legit.  NON-STOP.
  2. My children refuse to be convinced that their dad is ALSO in the car with them.  I’m telling you, I heard, “Hey, Mama?” 1,456,800 times in a 2.5 hour car ride.  At one point, one of them said, “Mom, why is Dad going on this trip, again?”  I swear.  Somebody should follow me with a camera to freeze my facial expressions.  I said, ever so calmly, “I don’t know.  Maybe you could ask your dad, who is sitting next to me.”  No, lie, I got:  “Mom, can you ask dad why he’s going on this trip?”  irritated.gif
  3. Swimming in a hotel pool….I mean, it’s just never fun.  Either other kids are acting a fool, or your own kids are being naughty, or you’re certain by the look on an adult’s face that they’re actually peeing in the pool.  Also, I have been reading/listening to WAY too much stuff about True Crime, because this morning, I saw this man with an approximately 12-year-old girl, and I was convinced he had kidnapped her and I spent the whole morning trying to make eye contact with her so she could let me know she needed help.  I’m just now realizing that they probably thought I was trying to kidnap her.  Huh.  Oops.
  4. Rest stops.  They make the perfect place for kidnapping.  And for my son to decide to throwback to his 2-year-old days and whip the stall door open while I’m in mid-wipe.  Awesome.
  5. Children’s Museums.  These are the places where I can see a microcosm of everything that’s wrong with how we’re raising children.  My kid can’t play because all the good toys are being used by the grown-ups.  My kid can’t get to the toy because the grown up is “helping” their child use the toy (i.e. doing it for them).  My kid takes a toy from someone else, or does a normal asshole kind of kid thing, and the parent wants to have a fight.  I mean, I want to let the kids work it out, but whatever.  Then someone’s kid does something to my kid and the adult apologizes to me 87,000 times and I’m like, uh, it’s totally fine.  Today I saw a grown man holding his 8 year old so he could slide down this hill thing.  UM LET THE KID FALL THAT IS HOW THEY LEARN.
  6. Diet Coke.  Girl, you know it’s true.  Ooh ooh oooohhh, I love youuuuuu.
  7. And….early bedtime tonight, yo.

 

Before and After

The thing is, I can’t put my finger exactly on when it happened. Was it after we lost the twins?  Or was it starting even before that?

If you’ve ever experienced a tragedy, you know that there’s often a very defining moment.  Your life is split into two:  Before and after.  But then, later on, the edges start to blur a little.  The fuzziness takes over and you can’t quite remember what you were like before compared to after.

Before the twins died, I don’t think I was anti-social.  I don’t remember preferring to stay home than see my friends.  I can’t recall feeling as awkward socially as I do now, or as worried about what people think of me.

Being funny has always kinda been my “thing.”  It’s how I cope, how I’ve always coped.  Growing up, I had a father who was always yelling at me. Calling me names until I cried, and when I cried, new names followed.  I was always on edge, waiting to accidentally do whatever the thing would be that would set him off.  I hid in my room a lot when I was little, and I read books.  So when I was around other people, I put on this act that I was the happiest person around.  I smiled and laughed and joked.

But then, as soon as I got my driver’s license, and a job, I was off.  I couldn’t wait to see my friends.  To get out and away!  I’ve never been a drinker-I’m still not-and my friends and I, we just watched movies and played mini-golf.  But I loved being with them.  There were 6 of us in high school, and we did everything together.

College was even more social for me.  My parents were going through a nasty divorce, and I was being threatened and guilt-tripped and so I did what I knew best-I became the funny, spontaneous girl who would laugh at anything and act silly and do whatever anyone wanted to do.  I had a friend, D, who was pretty much the most fun friend I’ve ever had, and he pushed me to do all sorts of random stuff (he kidnapped me once, blindfolded me, and drove me to St. Louis to Six Flags, lol.) that made me love life, even when I hurt.

I’ve always been really lucky in the friend area.  With a few exceptions, I’ve had a lot of loyal friends, always sticking by me when the shitty stuff happens, and helping me celebrate when the good stuff happens.

Even so, I’m totally anti-social now.  I make plans because they honestly sound fun, and then when the time comes to go, I panic.  I make excuses as to why I can’t go.  A few days before, I start trying to figure out how I can get out of the plans without looking like a bad friend or feeling like a liar.  My closest friends know that I have anxiety and that sometimes I just can’t do it.  It’s the in-between friends, the ones I want to get to know better, or the ones I’m hoping to show that I really do love them, that I worry about.  Do they think I’m a flake?  Do they think  I just had something better come along?

I’m such an open book in my life, because I find so much value in knowing that I am not alone, and so I figure someone else wants to know this, too. That I’m not the only one who experiences these issues and that I’m going to be ok.  But, for some reason, this one is hard for me to admit.  I feel like I’m….I don’t know, lazy, maybe?  Like I don’t want to be compared to someone who is afraid to leave their house to even go to the grocery store, but as I get older, I can totally see how easily that may happen to someone.

My husband is leaving the country next week and will be gone for 3 weeks.  My friends are all, “Tell us what you need!  We’ll help!  Let’s hang out!”  But once the time is actually here, I totally retreat.  I hide.  I do everything by myself because I don’t know how to do it any other way.

But, like I was saying before, I don’t exactly know when or how this happened.  Was it slow, or was it sudden?  Did I lose the twins and just decide I didn’t want to have social engagements again?  Everyone in my life knows not to call me-I won’t answer.  I’ll text you back, but I won’t answer the phone.  I used to spend hours on the phone, talking and laughing and sharing stories.  Now, when I feel it vibrate, I tense up, and stress out.  I mean, seriously.  Stressed out because my phone is ringing?

I’m working on it, though.  One thing I have learned about myself in the past few years is that I need time to myself.  I need time when no one, not even my lovely kids and amazing husband is talking to me or needing something from me.  For me, self care comes in the form of absolute quiet.  I guess it doesn’t really matter anymore when this started, or why, it just is.

My husband is great, and we have what I consider to be a pretty phenomenal relationship.  But, it took him a while to understand that I needed alone time and that it had nothing to do with him at all.  I’m sure it sounded bad, like, “Oh, hey, what I mostly need right now is for you to stay away from me.”  And even though you can say, “It’s not YOU I need to be away from, it’s that I need to ONLY be with me,” it’s a hard pill to swallow if you’re not familiar with anxiety. Thankfully, he understands now and supports me.

The thing about before and after, is that you don’t get a choice.  I can’t just wiggle my nose and be back to who I used to be. And, honestly, I don’t think I’d want to be that person anymore, even if I had the choice.  But, I also don’t have to accept everything about my “after.”  Life is all about change, and adapting to change.  Right now, I’m still figuring this all out.  How can I honor my needs and practice self-care, but not be a terrible friend/daughter/sister/mother?  It’s a balance, that’s for sure.

Have you changed in certain ways in your life?  What are you working on?  Whatever it is, you’ve got this, yo!

F-I-V-E

  1.  My 4-year-old baby got his tonsils out today.  I spent the whole morning weepy, worried about him.  The second he opened his eyes, he said, “Mama?  Where’s my wheelchair?  They said I’d get to wheel it myself, mama!”
  2. I have read 3 books in the last 3 days, and somehow or other, they are all about murder.  You guys.  That’s not smart!  My dreams?  Dude.  I can’t even.  Last night I couldn’t sleep because of the tonsil surgery and so I was having extra-extra whacked out dreams.  In one, I was walking through a swamp, and suddenly I noticed that Vicki from Real Housewives of Orange County was there (I am SO sorry if you do not know who she is-you should probably google her) and I was on my way to tell her I was glad she broke up with Brooks and then I realized she was trying to kill me.  Yep.
  3. Have you ever noticed that sometimes people really make themselves at home when they really shouldn’t?  This morning, I was sitting in the waiting room, with my mom, reading, when I watched this lady come in like a tornado.  She had like 4 bags, her purse, a small pizza in a box, and a Big Gulp.  Oh, did I mention this was outpatient surgery?  Anyway, she TOOK HER SHOES off, put her feet up on the love seat, opened her pizza box, took out a magazine, and then put her phone on SPEAKER and called a lady I have endearingly named the “Second Most Annoying Person on the Planet.”  She was SO LOUD and I had to look at the bottom of her feet and I just wanted to know if she really had someone in the outpatient surgery or if this is just where she comes to hang out.
  4. You should go watch the docu-series called “The Keepers” on Netflix
  5. After all these years, I still wish I were Kristi from The Baby-Sitter’s Club.  I would have SO rocked that presidency.  And I may have kicked Mary-Anne out, because, let’s face it, she liked boys more than she loved the BSC.

Give me your five!  What’s up with you?

Love/Hate Relationship…

with people.

I love Zumba Class.  I especially love Zumba Gold, which is geared toward the “Older Adult” crowd, and it’s usually the only class I can make with my schedule.  Sure, I love the feeling I get from dancing, and I love the endorphins of exercise and all the rest, but mostly?  Mostly, I love watching how different people are.

The thing about Zumba is that you are basically required to shimmy, shake your hips, and back that thang up.  And so you get this glimpse into people’s personalities.  I swear, whoever is dancing next to me in class must laugh the entire time whenever they see me try to shimmy, because I can not do it.  Also, I am totally unable to make a sexy face when the instructor tell you to “strut.”  I just look constipated.

So, in the Zumba Gold class, there are people all the way from age 20-something to probably 70-something and maybe even 80-something.  And there are people at the Y from all walks of life-you can almost see it in their eyes.  You’ll see one lady wearing this crazy-huge Zumba pants with straps hanging all over them, and another lady just basically wearing her normal, everyday clothes.  I’ve seen a lady Zumba in leather pants, and another woman wear what looks to be a homemade Halloween Costume, I’m not actually sure.

Anyway, the instructor is amazeballs and man, can she MOVE.  Her hips move in ways that I do not even understand.  Lately she’s been doing this choreo that mimics one of those Hawaiian bobble-head dancers you’d put on the dashboard of your car.  By the time we’re done with that song, I know that 1) my hips don’t work and 2)neither does my bladder.  Belly Dancers must have some strong kegel action, yo.

Looking in the mirror is the best because I can look anywhere else but at myself.  I hate watching myself dance.  And, I swear to you, when I watch the others, I don’t judge them at all.  Well, there is one exception to the judging.  I only judge the lady that makes out with herself in the mirror.  I need her to STAND BACK.

Anyway, I love watching everybody try to keep up, and none of us can quite do it like the instructor, so we all pretty much look hilarious and like we are having the best time of our life.  Smiles and laughter and cheers and hip shaking.  The best part of this is that we have all different backgrounds.  In our neon, too-tight workout shorts, nobody knows how rich we are, or what we do for a living, or if we are married or even how many kids we have.  We aren’t democrats or republicans, we aren’t for “the wall” or against.  Nobody pays attention

And so, some of us (me) act like every dance is our audition for “So You Think You Can Dance” and some of us just literally rock back and forth on our feet because the moves just don’t seem to do it for us, and others go left when you’re supposed to go right.  But, we all still laugh and sway and shimmy and yell, “WOOHOO” when the instructor demands it.  There is a guy who makes moves so big that he starts in the back row and ends up in the front and on the opposite side because he is so into it.

I love all the people at Zumba, you guys.  I smile and dance and move and we are TOGETHER.

Until they talk.

And then, the magic is over.

Like today, when I heard someone behind me whisper,  during the cool belly-dancing song, “What kind of dance is this?  Isn’t it, like, a terrorist dance?  I look like such a r*t#rd right now.”

I seriously didn’t know what to do.  I mean, we all know what we are supposed to do when someone uses derogatory terms (especially a string of them!) but I’m in the middle of doing a dance where I can barely breathe, and OMG I come here to get AWAY from this!

I tried to pretend like it didn’t happen.  But, now, of course, I hate myself because I should’ve stopped and said, “Look, we just don’t use those words anymore.  And if you do, don’t use them to me.”

Sigh.  My love/hate relationship continues on.  What do you do in these situations?  Would you have stopped and told the lady off?  Any similar stories?

 

There is a pile of Christmas lotion in the staff bathroom.

Bath-Body-Works-Vanilla-Bean-Noel-Holiday-2012-2.jpg

 

This past Christmas, my son was about to turn 4.  Both my mom and my mother-in-law are awesome gift-givers.  What I mean by that is that they like to pick out fun stuff for their grandchildren, but they’re ok with me giving them advice about what they’d actually want.

I had gone with my mom Christmas shopping, and actually picked out the Thomas Train set that my kid would FLIP to have.  I was kinda actually a little jealous that she got to give it to him!

Anyway, cut to Christmas at my mom’s.  My son, E, started to tear open the gift wrap and before he had it all off, he started screaming, “I didn’t want this one!  This one is NOT the one I wanted!  I don’t LIKE this one!” and had tears running down his face.

I was MORTIFIED.  I swear to you, every day something comes out of one of my children’s mouths and I am like, “OMG WHO TAUGHT YOU THAT?  THAT DID NOT COME FROM ME?  ARE YOU THE DEVIL BECAUSE SERIOUSLY!”

(On the other hand, there are things they say where I’m like….”Uh…oops.  That’s my bad!  I’m not perfect, yo!)

My mom, who just wants her grandkids to be happy, started with, “Oh, no, E, don’t worry, Grandma can take it back and get you the one you want!”

I walked over to whisper to my mom and was like, “No, mom, absolutely not, he’s good.  He’ll love it in a minute.”  And, well, he did love it, but I was still just…mortified.  Gratefulness is just one of those things for me.  And, I have talked with my kids at length about how if you get a gift and you don’t like it or you already have it, we’ll figure it out once we get home (I mean, they make gift receipts for a reason, you know what I’m saying?)

Also, I want to say, that I do realize my son is only 4 and I can’t really expect that much out of him, and don’t worry, I didn’t punish him, I just talked about it with him.  I know this is TOTALLY not a thing that only my kid does, kids are learning, and all that.  Still-it’s so important for me to know that my kids are on their way to learning to be grateful.

Cut to today.  Today was the last day of school (work, I’m a teacher) for me.  This week, in talking to a few of my colleagues, 2 of them mentioned that they had been up until 1 or 2 in the morning getting their end of year gifts ready for their students.

I have to be totally honest here-I used to give my students tons of gifts.  Something for Halloween, a Christmas gift, Valentines, and end of the year.  I’ve done personalized books with messages and dollar store items to match their end-of-year awards, and mad-libs, and scarves, and pictures of our class in frames.

I don’t, though, anymore.  And, it’s not like I don’t want to.  I seriously adore my students. When I’m out shopping, I think to myself, “Oh my gosh, G would LOVE that!” and I think how cool it would be if I could financially and appropriately buy them something they’d love.

It’s also not really about the money, although I will say that adds up, yo.

A few summers ago, I was out hitting up rummage sales for books to build up my classroom library, and I checked the inside of a book for some reason.  In it, I saw this heartfelt message from “Mrs. Applegate” where she told the student all sorts of things they are great at, and wished them well.  Ok, well, I mean, I guess we don’t hold on to everything, so whatever.

Then, I was at one where they were selling a winter felt scarf with “Love, Mrs. M” attached on a tag.  I asked  how old it was and the child replied, “Oh, I just got it this year.  I just don’t like it.”

I imagined a teacher, spending her whole Sunday, deciding which fabric would fit which kid, cutting it up, lovingly putting on the ties, and delivering each one as a gift to her beloved students.

I had kids tell me, “I don’t like this book.”  Or, “Does anyone want my mad-libs?  I don’t like these.”  Or, I’d find them left behind under their hooks at the end of the school year.

So, I stopped.  Kind of like I stopped buying my kid something crappy from the $ section everytime we walked through.  I stopped getting Happy Meals, because we just threw the toy away.  I stopped buying 600 presents for Christmas (hyperbole, people) and only choose one gift for their birthday, and no gift at all if they are having a party.

***Full disclosure here, I did just take my kid at 7:00 a.m. to a local grocery store before school because he wanted sunglasses to make him a “cool-dude,” but hey, we gotta do it sometimes, right?  LOL!  

Do you remember this post, about the bean bag beans?  This was one of the best days I’ve ever had in a classroom.  I wanted my students to remember how fun it can be to just let go and have so much fun, even though it’s making a gigantic mess.

I had 2 photos printed for each of my students, and I wrote a message on the back that said, “Remember: Always be kinder than is necessary!  Love, Mrs. W, 6/2/17.”  Then I gave them this big speech about kindness and fun and told them that they mattered.  It was time for the assembly, so I said, “Ok, chickadees, go put these in your backpacks, and line up in number order to head down to the gym!”  I was feeling so good-the last day of school is so special when you spend so much time building a community!

They line up, I go to the door, and in the wastebasket, right by the door, were two of the pictures I had SECONDS BEFORE given to them as their gift, crumpled up and tossed in.

Here’s the bad part.  I started to cry a little.  Tears sprang to my eyes.  Call it exhaustion, emotions, fury, whatever-I started to cry.  I was SO embarrassed.  “Get it together, Christy!  You can’t cry in front of your students!  You need to pull yourself together!  You’re letting a 10-year-old hurt your feelings!”  I just felt like it was something so special, and got a little too caught up in, “Dude, you are rocking this teaching thing, changing lives, totally so special!”

Today, a boy said, “I love this picture so much, I’m going to take it with me to my dad’s for the summer so I’ll never forget you.”

I got a hand-written card from a 5th grade student who said I was like her older sister and that I had totally helped shape her into the person she is today.

One of my students picked out a metal bookmark with a Thoreau quote on it and told me, “Don’t worry, I’ll mention your name in my book someday when I get published.”

But, you know what I keep thinking about?  That crumpled up photograph in the trash.

I know I am dealing with kids.  Kids are learning.  My son wasn’t trying to be ungrateful-he was sad because he wanted the “one where Thomas jumps over the ice.”  But, you guys, there is a MUCH bigger issue here than these incidents.

I just think we owe it to them to teach them what it means to be grateful and say thank you, and for goodness sake, wait until you GET HOME to throw the thing away that you don’t want.  I mean, do they know how many snowman mugs I’ve given to the Salvation Army?  And I don’t see myself as ungrateful, I just don’t drink coffee.  🙂  I think we owe it to our kids to stop buying them every thing they want.

A friend of mine recently returned her daughter’s birthday gifts because she was whining they weren’t good enough.  I was like, “Um, you GO, I think you are so awesome.”

At my work, we have had hurt feelings over collections for some staff members and not others at Christmas time, and some teachers give certain staff members better gifts, and…yeah.  Even as adults we don’t so much have it together.

We’ve gotta band together though. Collectively, we need to decide that enough is enough. Time to stop giving each other “Holiday Bell Swirl” lotion and pine scented candles at Christmas just because we think we “need” to give someone a gift.  Go to coffee and talk.  Write each other a hand-written note.  Tell the person why you love them.

And then, when you see something in the store that will truly bring that person and you BOTH joy, you purchase it for them. Because you want to, not because you have to.  I want to see the spontaneity back into gift-giving and gratefulness!

I’d love to hear your experiences/advice/thoughts on this!  What do you do with your own families that works?  What do you think?

***Disclaimer:  I think teachers who give their students end of year gifts are AWESOME.  My daughter LOVES LOVES LOVES every gift she’s ever gotten from her teachers and regularly talks about them.  I think you ROCK and I am NOT saying you shouldn’t do it!!!!!!  Mwah!