Friday, December 21, 2012

Don't Make Me Turn This Car Around!

It's the holiday season and for many of us, it is the time to load up the car and go over the river and through the woods to visit family and friends. Traveling during the holidays is typically not a fun event. Traffic, bad drivers, and poor road conditions due to wintry weather makes even the most holly jolly driver turn into a bird-flipping, bah-humbuggin' Grinch.

Each year, we suffer from either amnesia or a heightened sense of optimism and we forge ahead with our travel plans, even though for many of us, it will not be merry and bright. This is especially true for those of us who travel with kids. If you have never been stuck in a car with kids or have conveniently forgotten how you were as a child, just imagine sitting in a small confined space with monkeys on crack. Even the most well behaved child will act up in the car.

Our daughter, S, suffered from motion sickness when she was younger. Without fail, every time we tried to travel more than a few miles, she would vomit all over herself. It happened so often, we always traveled with an extra change of clothes, old towels, baby wipes, a trash bag, and air freshener. One Christmas Eve, we took a trip to the North Georgia Mountains to visit my parents. We stopped twice to mop up toddler puke, change clothes, and Febreeze the inside of the car. Once we reached my parents' cabin on the top of a mountain, we gave S a bath and washed her clothes. Later that evening, dressed in our Sunday best, we jumped back into the car and headed down the winding and weaving roads to my parent's church for Christmas mass. S couldn't take the switch-backs and tossed her cookies again. This time we did not have a change of clothes. The Hub pulled the present he was going to give to me from the trunk and told me to put on S. It was an alpaca sweater. Our daughter walked into church looking like a little shepherd boy.

A few Christmas Eves later, we added a second little passenger and made our way up the mountain once again. Our other daughter, B, started to scream as soon as we placed her in the car seat. It takes about an hour and a half to drive to my parents' cabin. After an hour and a half of enduring blood-curdling screams and violent retching coming from the backseat of our car, while fighting holiday traffic, The Hub and I walked into my parents' cabin with our teeth clenched and demanded hard liquor. No one was surprised when we said we would not make the trip again until both kids were older.

But, the joy of driving with kids is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year. Kids are like wild animals. They long to be free to roam in the open fields, not tightly bound in a rear-facing car seat. Kids are naturally wired to move. They have to kick the back of your seat to release their pent-up energy. Kids, especially my kids, are music critics. They are not shy about their distaste for our "old people" music. (Heaven forbid I change the channel during a One Direction song.) Kids have no concept of time and demand ad nauseam to know if we are "almost there yet." Someone always has to pee when there is not a rest stop for miles. Someone always wants the other passenger to stop looking at them. Kids ruin road trips.

And it's not just on long car rides. It takes us exactly 13 seconds to drive from our house to my in-laws' house. It takes 5 minutes to load the kids into the car to make that 13 second drive. Every single time we get to the car, the kids fight about who gets into the car first. When we bring our dog Bailey with us, we have to lift her 65 lbs. butt into the car because she does not like car rides. This cracks my mother-in-law up to no end. It looks like this:

I don't WANT to ride in the car, mama!

We could walk to their house, but where's the adventure in that? Besides, we live on top of a very steep hill. Getting there is easy. Walking back is not.

I know I deserve all this traveling-with-kids drama. My two sisters and I put my parents through vehicular hell. When I was a little girl, my mom was rushing to get us into the car to get somewhere (I can't recall where, but it was important that we made it there on time.) Like always, my two sisters and I battled over who got to ride "shotgun." I wrestled my way into the front seat and my middle sister and I continued to fight. Completely distracted by our chaos, my mom backed out of the garage, failing to realize that the passenger side door was still ajar. She ripped the car door right off the hinges. We did not make it to our destination that day.

Until I had kids of my own, I never understood why my dad strictly enforced the "no talking while he was driving in traffic" or "while the radio is on" rule. Those rules eventually turned into the "no talking in the car ever" rule. I didn't understand why my parents would grumble, "just wait until you have kids" when we finally made it to our destination and all they wanted was hard liquor to calm their frayed nerves.

Well, once again, payback is theirs and rightly so. Every time I yell, "knock it off, you two," or "just get in the damn car, already," or the ever popular (yet never enforced), "don't make me turn this car around," I find comfort knowing that one day my kids will have to drive their kids around. To my dear parents, I am sorry I drove you nuts while you drove me around. I accept my just desserts. To The Hub's parents, I am sorry for all the mischief he caused on your cross country travels... Like the time he shoved that drinking straw up his little brother's nose, causing him to bleed all over the backseat of the car. Rest assured, we're paying for that, as well.

Karma is a car full of cranky kids and no rest stops for miles.

Honestly, has anyone ever turned this car around?
Photo Credit:

I wish you all safe and peaceful travels. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fear, Guilt, and Carrying On (One Mom's Personal Reaction to the Sandy Hook Massacre)

Sometimes a "No" can become a "yes." It turns out, I have a full time job now. So much can happen in a span of a week. Long story extremely short: The fourth job I interviewed for and turned down, called me back a couple of days later with a new position and a better offer. (I guess they really liked me! Which is good, because I really like them.) I will start January 2, 2013 and work during my daughter S's school hours. B, my youngest daughter, will go to daycare. The best part is that I will still have plenty of hours during the day to help with homework, run errands, and work on my blog and book. It's the perfect situation for me.

Of course, with the excitement of additional income and a new adventure comes nervous feelings. I've been a stay at home mom for over three and a half years. In a little over two weeks, I will have to completely adjust my schedule. Gone are the days of wearing my yoga pants three days in a row. I'll have to get completely dressed before 6:00 AM, get both kids up and dressed, and send them off to their respective schools before I can start my day. I remember what it was like to work full time with just one child. Getting it all done with two is a daunting task. I'm nervous about how B will respond to daycare. She has extreme separation anxiety right now. B has to be by my side at all times. She panics when I close the bathroom door. If I walk out of the room, she follows me. I wake up at 3:00 AM with her laying on top of me every night. I almost pity her daycare teacher. The poor lady will have her hands full. 

Those were the fears whispering in my ear all week. They were little doubts that I could reason through and assure myself that it was all going to be okay. I knew it was little jitters due to change and when I would feel overwhelmed, I would imagine the training montage from Rocky IV and know that I could do it. Then Friday afternoon, I learned of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people lost their lives in a shooting rampage. Twenty of them were very young children. Four of them were the same age as my daughter, S. Suddenly, the nerves I had about the new routine were replaced with a new fear, a completely unexpected terrible fear. That could have been my daughter.

I could feel the blood drain from my face. And then, I cried. I sobbed. I yelled. I sat still and quiet. I could feel a sharp pain in my chest as I read the names of the adults and children lost. I crumbled at the sight of children running for their lives. I cursed the monster who did all this damage. (I refuse to write his name. Evil does not deserve a name.) I asked questions. Why? How could you? I couldn't imagine how terrified those little babies felt. I couldn't imagine how terrified the parents and teachers felt. I praised the adults that did everything they could to protect their children. I cheered on the first responders and all the men and women who jumped into action. I questioned God and my personal faith. (I'm sure I wasn't alone.) I did not know a single person who died on Friday, but as a mother, the instinct to protect our young went into over drive and I felt a sharp pang of sorrow for the parents who had their children ripped from their lives on a random Friday.

I became fearful of other people... The shadows that could very easily take my children from me without warning. I feared for their safety in school. I questioned if sending my youngest to daycare was a good move. Through all of my emotions, I took great strides to hide them from my children and kept them blissfully unaware of the events. Neither one of them had a clue. To them, life was normal, except mommy was hugging and kissing them a lot more than usual. I debated over and over if I should tell S about the shootings. The Hub and I initially agreed that we would not tell her, but after further thought, we decided it was better that she hear it from us, than from a school bus mate. School bus mates never get the story right.

But, above all the sorrow, anger, and fear, I was glad it didn't happen to us. That sparked the guilt.

Here I was, about to post a funny blog that afternoon before I heard the news, complaining about my kids (in jest of course) and there are parents who would do anything to hold their children again. Then, I thought of all the parents who have lost their children in freak accidents or illness. I am so lucky to have my daughters. They are healthy. They are free from injury. The challenges in their daily lives never go beyond the normal challenges kids face. Our biggest issue right now is who started the fight first and finishing the vegetables on their plates. I spent the whole week worrying about how I was going to get my butt out of bed early enough to get the morning routine done. I worried about the inevitable tantrums the first week of work... B's and my own. The parents who lost their children would give anything to face those challenges again because that would mean that their life was how it used to be. We are the lucky ones.

This afternoon, I heard a weird banging noise coming from the hall bathroom. I walked in to find B hanging from the towel bar like a little monkey. One side of the bar is barely attached to the wall. I yelled, "Don't hang from the bar! You'll pull it down!" That was the first time I raised my voice in three days. It was the first time I was fully aware that I was in a haze from all of this. I realized that I let fear and guilt overcome me this weekend and I wasn't fully doing my job. I was dwelling in the negative and half-present in my life. I shouldn't feel guilty because I'm not experiencing ultimate suffering. I should be grateful. I should honor the parents in mourning by doing my job as well as I possibly can. I need to raise loving human beings and send them out into the world, hopefully making it a better world. That is my job. My kids are going to misbehave. I'm going to discipline them. My kids are going to do funny things. I'm going to laugh at them. My kids are going to drive me crazy and I will want a break from them, but I will continue to love them with every fiber of my being. I need to show them how to be brave... which means I must be brave. I need to teach them that even in the face of darkness, the light within us will give us courage and strength. Life will go on even when it feels like it won't. I am going to continue to share my stories about crayon marked walls, scraped knees, grocery store tantrums, parenting fails and all, because that is what I do. I will honor every parent by continuing to tell them that it will be fine, even when it feels like it won't be. They are not alone. It is good to laugh. It is good to live. It is good to keep going. But, maybe we'll try harder. Maybe we'll love more. Maybe we'll help each other out and work as a team. Maybe we'll argue less and try to come up with a real solution. Maybe we'll take more moments to recognize just how good it all is. Maybe we'll appreciate just how fragile it all can be.

Photo Credit:

**Here is an ABC News article listing all the ways you can help the Sandy Hook community. Click this link: How You Can Help Newtown Connecticut Community Affected by Shooting - ABC News

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Answer is No.

When I became a parent seven years ago, I had a pretty good idea of what was expected of me. I had to fulfill certain requirements like clean up messes, cook, and kiss boo-boos. You know... mommy work. What I didn't realize was that I would also face a lot of disappointment. It's not so much my disappointment, but the disappointment of my children. I say the word "no" a lot. It turns out, I am a dream crusher at least ten times a day. It goes something like this:

Kid: Can I have candy for breakfast?
Me: No.
Kid: Awww! 

Kid: Can I run through the lawn sprinklers? 
Me: It's the middle of winter. No.
Kid: Awww!

Kid: Can I have an iPhone?
Me: I don't even have an iPhone. Besides you're 6. No.
Kid: Awww!

Kid: Can I cut my own hair?
Me: Hell, no.
Kid: Awww! (Sneaks off with scissors and does it anyway.)

I also say "no" to jumping off the couch, to getting dessert without finishing dinner first, to driving the car, (my 3 year old thinks if she keeps asking, I'll eventually give in and let her take the family sedan for a spin), to wearing bright red lipstick to school, and to staying up late to watch Family Guy. (But, mom! It's a cartoon!)

Over the last year, I have tried to get a job. I had four great opportunities and none of them worked out. Three of those times, I got a "no." I didn't fit their requirements in one way or another. The fourth time happened today. Unfortunately, they didn't fit my requirements and I said no. It's difficult to hear the word "no" when you really want something. When it comes to employment, it can really be dream crushing. While waiting (sometimes several weeks) for the results of your interview, it is easy to daydream about how things will be once you get that "yes, you're hired" phone call. I had the next two years planned out. My nights were spent dreaming sexy dreams of a time when we could quickly pay off our debt. We could fix up the house. We could go on a real vacation. We could actually save a little for rainy days... or what I like to call, "Dammit! The water heater is leaking!" days. But, then the answer is no and little dream bubbles are popped. You wake up and decide if you're going to let that "no" stop you. When my daughter wanted to cut her own hair, she didn't let my "no" stop her. Of course, she regretted that tenacious move once she found herself in the nearest Great Clips watching what was left of her long blonde hair fall to the floor. Regardless, she didn't let a "no" stop her.

And neither will I.

I'm going to say yes and hire myself. I think I am a good fit. I know I am driven and I have fantastic ideas. I think I can produce some amazing work. I have the potential to do something big. I can make one hell of a pot of coffee. I'm the perfect employee for me. 

I have big plans for 2013. First, I want to really turn "You'll Be Fine. I Promise." into something wonderful. I'm talking new design, new features, and forums. I want to sell YBFIP merchandise. I want to start a charity or a program where we... you, my very fine readers, and I can help out and be love. I want to see just how far I can go with this little blog. That means more posts, more Facebook posts and Twitter tweets... or twits... tweeps? I'm going to network like hell, people. It scares me, but I'm going to put myself out there.

Second, I have set a real goal to finish my children's book. I started it earlier this year, but like my P90X DVDs, the manuscript remains untouched, ignored, and provides a great deal of self-imposed guilt. This year, I will finish it. You read it here, folks. Now, I have to do it. Shit. Now I HAVE to do it.

I've already shared my goals with a few of my pals. I get the same response, "Yes. Do it. It's about damn time, Terese." They also ask me how they can help. I give them the same answer:

Read my blog and share it with everyone you know.

That's it. If you enjoy my stories, please share them with others. It sounds so simple, but it is a huge deal for me. I am grateful for every page view, every comment, every share. I'm even grateful for the dirty birdie who googled "30 year old tits" and clicked on my post, "Birthday Wishes of a 30-Something Year Old," not once, but twice in the same day. I'm a little creeped out, but grateful for the traffic.

So, stay tuned. I hope you are as jazzed about this as I am. Also, if you have any suggestions or ideas of things you would like to see here, let me know. I want this blog to be a kind of community. Granted, I'll be the one doing most of the talking, but I want you to join in, too. 

I have a dream and a goldfish in a Ziploc baggie...
Who's coming with me?!
Photo Credit: Sony Pictures