Dear School Cancellation,

Dear School Cancellation Days,

I am truly lucky to have four children. Two boys and two girls. I have known so many people in my life that have struggled to have children of their own so this gift is not lost on me at all. I swear. But, I love school. I love it with every fiber of my being. I love the influence of the teachers in the myriad of ways that they speak into my children’s lives. I love the sense of responsibility that’s fostered in them through things like homework and book reports and making their OWN lunches each day (since I apparently don’t know how to put anything “good” in there). I love that they get to expand their mind through art and music and science. I love watching their interpersonal relationships grow through recess and lunch, albeit twenty minutes short. I love school from drop off to pick up…..

Can I just say to you, school cancellation day, that you are cramping my style man. The very week I decided to paint my entire main level floors white you go and give my kids not one but three days home from school. I get it – there’s a negative fifty degree windchill in Minnesota this week, but seriously. Can’t we all just bundle the little love bugs up and send them your way? We have gloves and stuff. And for those that don’t I will personally nominate myself to hand extras out at the door. I am being eaten out of house and home. The snacks are gone. The television is literally fried from over use and is heating our home faster than my furnace can keep up. My voice is hoarse from yelling at them to stay off the floors I’m painting. I mean, come on school, take one for the team here. These kids have things to learn. I have a blog to write and floors to paint. And I’m out of food. Our games are “boooooooooring”. I will say, however, that laundry has been a dream this week since no one seems to think they need to change clothes. There’s been ample hot water since the opportunity to bathe occurs to zero children. But, their teeth are literally falling out for lack of brushing. And apparently reading a book is akin to water boarding.

School, you are a portal to happiness for all of us. You are every mother’s break. You give us time to think and sit and do and grocery shop. Four children home from school for three days means we have digressed to WWA wrestling tryouts and my entire basement has become an obstacle course. Not that I mind and all it’s just that if I have to put out one more fight I’m gonna go cra-cra or body slam them myself.

These floors are getting painted come Hell or high water, but they are in the direct path to the kitchen. At least by now there’s no more food so the traffic has slowed dramatically. I would like to request that the powers that be consult the mother’s far and wide before you go swiping right on whether or not those educational doors open.

Sincerely,

Mother of The Year (with beautiful white-painted floors and no more food)

Beauty And The Beach

I sit on the Beach in the warm Florida sun with the breeze on my face, salt in the air, and the sound of waves crashing just 20 feet away from me. I can taste the salt in the air and smell the suntan lotion and my senses tell me I am home. This is Heaven for me. I am a Cocoa Beach native and no matter where I live in the world this will always be my true home. This is where my heart feels most content. A surge of peace takes over me at the beach. A gentleness takes over my pulse.

I can hear the laughter of my children. I can hear them hollering to one another make-believe scenarios like “getting away from robbers” and mermaids coming ashore as they body surf the cresting waves and I smile. I know I am gifting them with the same experience that made up nearly every day of my childhood. My heart fills with deep contentment. I could sit there all day. I could sit there all day as we chase the sun down out of the sky.

I sit there glued to my chair. I’m glued for many reasons. I sit locked in because I relish in the feelings of peacefulness and the symphony of pleasant sounds that surround me. Not a wandering crab or a flock of birds is lost on me. This beach is to me the most beautiful haven on the planet.  I also sit locked to my chair because of deep-rooted insecurity. If I get up and stroll to the shore “what will others think when they see my body and this swimsuit” I wonder. How can a place that is dripping with a sense of home also be welcome to my entrenched body image issues and shame over my appearance? How can a negative internal narrative show up for a forty year old mother of four? Aren’t we over this stupidity by now? It’s a mystery to me how I can feel such a sense of peace, but simultaneously be glued to a beach chair so no one sees my body. How can I feel such joy and yet choose to be locked down to a stupid striped chair so that I don’t feel the rejection I’m projecting from my neighboring beach go-er … whom I don’t even know. I skip out on the fun with my children because I’d rather stay tied to my chair then give a passer by the opportunity to think I look “fat”. I full-blown lie and tell my kids “mom just loves to get a suntan” when I refuse their request to come play. The truth is mom is deeply insecure in her own skin and simply cannot get up. Won’t get up. I decline their request to show up at the water’s edge because it’s too cold I tell them. The truth is my negative internal dialogue is robbing me of the ability to show up for them with any level of participation.

I hate this scenario. I hate how my self-doubt sits on my chest like a beached whale. I hate that I am choosing to skip out on writing notes in the sand and building castles with motes and drawbridges. I hate that I opt out of a stroll to collect shells because I fear the opinion of people watchers that are all foreign to me and nowhere near my inner circle of friends. I hate that I let shame and insecurity rob me of memories to be made. I hate that I let my insecurity be bigger than my strength and resolve to show up for them. The barrier to my full, true joy is that I give a sh*$ what other people think of me instead of being a badass mom with four children having a little fun while centering myself in presence.

This has to change. Insecurity, humiliation and a negative internal dialogue are not things that we deliberately pack in the bag of sand toys. Yet they show up in full force.

I love watching the tide. It comes and goes at a rhythmic pace. As does our positive and negative narrative running through us. Unlike the tide however we have control over our thoughts and the freedom they allow us. We have to deliberately attack our negativity with life-giving thoughts that unlock confidence and resolve to get up out of a chair and care not what the world sees apart from a mom engaging wholeheartedly with her children. You might be thinking that I’m really glued to the chair because of simple vanity. I assure you that’s not the case. We live in a culture that values thinness and rewards it with compliments and we brutally judge one another on the daily. We live in a body centric environment and have raised one another to think that thin is beautiful and anything outside of that needs to be reigned in. In order to be counter-culturalists we have to choose to value who we are on the inside over what we show or see on the outside. This takes effort as we go against the tide of our society. But it’s a fight to the death of the joy-robbing, presence stealing moments like these.

I believe in us and the power to go against the tide, to get up out of our chairs, to inhale freedom and to exhale presence. Now, I have a mermaid to rescue…..

Dear Trampoline Inventor

Dear Trampoline Inventor,

I both thank you and simultaneously regret your ingenuity.  This thing of yours is a bouncing portal for intermittent urine if I ever saw one. Four children out of this body…. You do the math on how things function “down there” before you go judging my bladder control. What is the deal?  You literally step foot on this thing and you have an instant headache. Our children are the Pied Piper to this experience waiting to happen, however our spine is literally screaming at us “don’t you dare… you’re 40 you idiot.” But, alas we go at their whim. We go because they call for us to show up as “fun mom” and we don’t want to go down in their memories as the opposite of that. Ever.  (SIDE NOTE to you kids: this is not the jarring, pee-soaked underwear kind of fun we moms want. I have an idea….. wait for it: Let’s play “Resort”. How about that? I’ll lie right here on this couch and you can bring me things like orange juice. Only, let’s have fun and ramp up the OJ with some adult bubbles. Sure – you can rub my feet. That’s what happens in “resort land”…. How about that? I can fun-mom that all freakin day long) Trampoline Guy, no-one wants to play “Resort” they want you to “bounce them down”, “crack the egg” and “flip the mummy” on a big black stretch of pee producing woven material on a thousand springs that occasionally pop off.

Life is a blast sometimes. Kids are the best sometimes. I love this contraption of a trampoline sometimes because they’ll play on it all day long. But, when they call for me – when they call for “fun mom”….. there is great sacrifice at play here. I mean it.  Don’t think my 100 “not right now’s” is easy for me. It’s hard to say no to their plea for me to be amazing. Believe me. It’s just that I want to show up for them in seventy-two other ways outside of bouncing my way to a headache and wet undergarments and a fight over who purposely tackled whom.

You are a billionaire. No question…. And so is a Chiropractor. You guys had a meeting of the minds didn’t you? You guys are in cahoots with the roller coaster inventor and the paint gun inventor and the person who suggested reading books to kids at night at the end of a long day. Now that’s another super touching moment as I glance at the clock twelve times guessing how many more minutes until I’m finally alone with my thoughts. I feel awesome as I wonder if I can sneak in a flip of a couple extra pages with this next turn.

I’m a good mom. A great one. I promise. I just need you to know that “fun moms” all over the world have a love hate relationship with you, trampoline inventor.  We feel the pressure to show up on this thing when all we intended to do was to stuff our kids inside and zip the thing close and….. walk away.

Cheers to you though! Thank you for your contribution to the American family nationwide. You have done wonders for boring summers because you’re always an option for play. You have done wonders for birthday parties and neighbor kids coming to our house and for moms all across the land who get to say “just go jump on the trampoline” when we’re told there’s “nothing” to do. But, I tell you what.  You snuck this one in on us. We didn’t know we’d be required to be a part of your equation. So, here’s the thing. Can you go back to the drafting room and invent some stadium seating INSIDE the trampoline for the “fun moms”?  This way- we’ll technically be on it, but our underwear will be dry, our heads won’t ache and that non-insurance taking Chiropractor will quit getting all my money after we experience your “fun”. Get to work guys.  You can do better than just a flat piece of fabric on a thousand springs. Get us the Mom Seat please. We beg of you.

Sincerly-

Changing my Clothes Now Mother