This blog is four {and renewed}

My blog turned four two weeks ago. Surprised? I was. I didn't even realize it until my Time Hop told me that last year I wrote about my blog turning three. It's sad that this birthday has come and gone without much fanfare. But maybe that is just age and maturity. Like when you stop making a big deal out of your birthday after you turn thirty.

Four years ago I started a blog to make myself feel better about motherhood. I started this blog to be honest about my failures and obstacles as a mother. I knew that I wasn't the only one out there royally effing up their kid, so I thought that if I talked about it, if I admitted it, I'd be joined by other mothers just like me. I also knew that I had something to say, something that was important to me, and I was tired of waiting to share that voice. So with no knowledge of what it took to start a blog, with no list of what to do and what not to do, I grabbed a basic template on Blogger and wrote. I wrote most days, just whatever struck my fancy, and whatever I wanted to say. If I got any comments it was from friends and family. And I was totally okay with that... Until I found another blogger.

I'm not going to tell you who she is, or where she blogs, because wouldn't you know, I've actually met her. I don't want to seem like the stalker I already feel like, because my heart honestly skips a beat when I see her at a certain blog conference. But I found her blog and it was suddenly everything I wanted my blog to be. I wanted the beautiful photography with the camera I would never be able to afford on a stay at home mom's salary. I wanted the beautiful furniture. I wanted the food I cooked and the things I baked to look as wonderful and delicious as the ones that she posted on her blog. I wanted to master "tutorials" for re-purposed items, jewelry from whatever she had in her junk drawer, new curtains out of thrift store bed sheets. She was beautiful, her life was beautiful, and her blog was beautiful. It was everything I wanted my blog to be. Honestly, she was everything I wanted to be.

So I spent the next year "building" this blog. I linked up to every link up know to blog-kind. I posted recipe after recipe, tutorial after tutorial. I posted about anything and everything. I joined round robins and follow backs and blog parties. I worked and worked and worked so hard to become a "Blogger". And in a way, I did become a blogger. I made so amazing and terrific blog friends. Some that I have now met in real life. And these bloggy friends supported me and I supported them. We gave each other follow backs and shout outs and shared each others posts. And by the end of year one, I had followers and readers that I didn't know in my real life.

To celebrate my first year of blogging I did my first big giveaway and I totally felt like I had made it.

Which is totally laughable today.

By my second year of blogging, I had higher hopes. I didn't necessarily want to be like my "blog idol", but I knew I wanted to be a writer. This was the year that I went back and forth with sponsorships and paid or promoted posts. I realized I worked so hard to get these posts up, and that no one really read them. In my head I thought that the key to being published was to do the giveaways and the sponsored posts. I thought that if I did some promotions and got paid for them that the money would eventually start rolling in. It didn't. But I kept doing them anyway, and then the jealousy crept in when bloggers who were just starting out were getting more sponsors and comments and money. With the jealousy came some ugliness and I had to re-evaluate what I really wanted out of this blog. And what I really wanted to do was to write. I wanted to write and get published. I wanted magazine articles and bylines and a book.

So by year three, I had taken a step back from the promotions and the sponsors and began to concentrate on my writing. By year three I was having some major traffic spikes, I wrote so things that went semi viral. I was published on BlogHer three times, and I was getting comments from people I didn't know at all, not even the blogging world. And again, I was convinced that I was on the cusp of "making it".

Yet, four years came and went without much notice. It's a little poetic that I got a really awesome anonymous comment on my fourth birthday. Proof that maybe I have made it a little. This last year of blogging was really hard for me as a writer. I had so much to say, but with a full time job, I had little time to say it. I took some chances last year with fiction and my regular stuff, I continued with my honesty, even when it may have been faulty. I didn't write my heart out like I had planned. I did less writing last year that I desired. I kept thinking that as long as I kept writing it would all work itself out. Some days were better than others, but overall I wanted more for me and this blog last year.

So here I am, four years old. If I can be totally honest it took a lot just to get me here tonight to write this post. My blog turned four almost two weeks ago with zero fanfare. And that's sad, because this is the only thing I've done consistently in the last four years of my life. I've gone off diets and back on them. I've started exercise programs and quit them, only to start new ones again. How many jobs have I had? This blog is the one thing that I have kept, even if I only get to this space once a week. I'm still writing, I'm still fighting. But it's getting harder and harder daily.

Today I had a epiphany. I realized that I didn't really have writers block, that I have actually been suffering from Blog Block. I've been so focused on getting something, anything, up on the blog, that I have been putting off writing all together. I've been so worried about traffic and followers and commenters that I have just stopped bringing myself to the keyboard. I constantly worry that all the hard work, all the readers I've been privileged to acquire, all the time spend building the traffic has been for nothing, because I just blog less and less every month. I worry that I will never get published if I don't blog every day. I worry and worry and worry. All the while not writing out of fear and loathing that I'm not hitting publish on this blog.

Stupid, right?How stupid is that? How stupid that I'm so worried about hitting publish, and that I have basically ignored the advice that I have given time and again to bloggy friends: just write. Just write it out, maybe you hit publish, maybe you don't, but for the LOVE OF GOD KEEP WRITING.

I'm going to keep writing. I'm going to take my own advice and not worry about that bright orange publish button. I have to keep writing. I have to fall in love with writing again. I have to take it from feeling like a chore, to feeling like the love that I know it is. I never wanted this blog to feel like work, but suddenly here I am. In the beginning I wanted to be a blogger, the kind with the beautifully styled life and blog. And let me tell you that I wrote every kind of post to prove I was a blogger, the kind with the top knot and infinity scarf and the outfits of the day. When that didn't really fulfill me, I decided to do more writing from the heart, and that helped a little. But when I really let go and decided to write for me, that is when I gained traction. Unfortunately I've lost a little of that traction since I've returned to work, but I still have the desire to write and use my voice and let it take me where it may.

This blog is four, and it will again take on a new year with a renewed life. It will most likely be a journey that my voice and heart will decide on. At times it may be random, both fiction and non fiction. Don't be surprised if I share a recipe I think is really tops, or some outfits I put together. But don't be surprised if some weeks I may share nothing at all. As hard as I have tried, I can no longer ignore the voice that is telling me to write, even if I will never hit publish. I can't ignore the pull to fiction and poetry and some stories that I'm just not ready to tell.

So please, dear readers, hang in there. I promise, I'm still writing, I'm still occasionally hitting publish, and I'm still Absolute Mommy. I'm just a little older, a little wiser, and ready for wherever my writing life takes me.

The Staycation {January 2015}

I didn't realize how truly burned out I was until the week school started after New Year's. I felt like I had been running on that hamster wheel of motherhood, moving my legs so quickly with no where to really go, and I was finally at the point where I was exhausted. Exhausted and bitter. A month before I had requested the weekend of January 16th off because it coincided with the Hubbs birthday, but of course I had almost forgotten about that by the time it got here. I realized that I was at a point where I just wanted to be quiet. I wanted to be left alone. I wanted to sleep.

Really, I just needed most was to recharge.

I had big plans for my four day weekend. I was going to write and blog. I was going to catch up on all my favorite TV shows. I was going to read all three of my new books. I was going to do laundry and grocery shop and be lazy and not wear any make up. Big plans for doing what I wanted to do, for doing what I need to do, but then something kind of amazing happened.

I didn't really do any of them. I sat on the couch with the Hubbs and watched some pretty great movies and TV shows. Not the ones piled up on the DVR, but whatever we found while sitting there together. I held my baby, who will be five this year, in my lap while I read that one book she wants to read every single night. I held her hand, that is still so impossibly small, and knew that this wouldn't be forever. And I had to take a moment to embrace it, to recognize that time doesn't stop moving forward.

I laid on the floor of my bathroom while the girls painted my toe nails. Making a mess of the bathroom and me. Because they had been begging to do it for months, and I had plum run out of excuses. I knew they would make a mess. I knew that at some point one of them would spill polish that would never come out of the cream colored bathroom rug. I knew that eventually one of the girls would spill the polish remover all over the floor. I expected to have polish all over my toe nails and feet. But what I didn't expect was how much they would enjoy making this mess. How much fun they would have talking to me like I was a "Client". Do you have children? Would you like to pick a color Miss? Where do you work? I never expected to lay in the floor and relax, taking in the deep breath of motherhood and ignoring the smell of polish and acetone, while my hostesses pampered and prepped. I didn't realize that all they wanted their mother to do was to slow down and say yes. Yes to making mess. Yes to ruining a ten year old bath mat that had seen better days. Yes to being one hundred and ten percent in the moment.

It will come as no surprise that I didn't do one stitch of writing. That I opened my laptop maybe once. That I put my phone down for most of those days. Only picking it up to take pictures of the little memories we were making of the mundane. If I would have asked, they would have let me. Let me write in the corner of the kitchen table, at the bar, or even in our office. They would have let me shut the door and listen to Pandora, and get a pretty good chunk of writing done for me and this blog. But I didn't ask. I just let it go. I just let it be. I wanted to take the time I was given and enjoy every drop. To be with my girls and take selfies of us being alive. Of us breathing. Of us relaxing because Mommy didn't have to work for four whole days and nights.

When the staycation ended and we went back to real life, I was quite a bit behind. I wrote a few things, but before I knew it, I felt rushed all over again. I don't want to feel rushed. I don't want to ignore one life for the other. So I did what I should have been doing for years. Let go. Release some of the guilt and let life be my guide. Does it really matter that I have a list of things to write about? Does it matter that I'm reading two books at the same time with no desire to finish either? Does it really matter that we are knee deep in life again with laundry and dishes waiting at the ready? It doesn't, not really.  It took a vacation from the obligations for me to realize that I really need to enjoy what really matters, living the life I've always wanted. This life right here.

Honestly, it's been staring me in the face this whole time, and it's finally time time to pay attention.

Checking in {A letter from the editor}

It seems like it's been weeks since I last sat down to write in this space. Truthfully it hasn't been that long, but I never really got a chance to focus on my writing last week. Even with three days off. Mostly because I took a much required and very welcomed four day weekend. And I totally immersed myself with all things family. I spent a little time on social media. I spent a lot of time with my girls and the Hubbs. And I spent a lot of time making lists and writing down little outlines of what I wanted to write. But I never sat down to write. I never devoted myself to this space. Instead I devoted myself to this life. The only one I'm going to get. So instead of being a slave to the blog or journal or novel I've been wanting to write, I was just me. Megan. And for the first time in a long time it felt really good. So this is me checking in. Letting you know that I have things to write and things to share. And that I will do that. I will get caught up. But tonight just isn't the night.

The noise {no-reply commenters}

There has to be something poetic if not ironic about receiving a very negative comment on the same day your blog is having it's fourth anniversary. I mean four years ago, any comment would have made me swoon. But last Wednesday? Not so much. Negative comments can sting, they can piss you off, but more than that, they can really make you think.

I've never claimed to be an expert on anything, well, maybe Grey's Anatomy. But I sure as heck have never considered myself an expert on motherhood, stay at home or otherwise. Still, I can understand that sometimes I can come across as a know it all. This is also a problem in real life too, so when I wrote my Working Mom post last week, I was kind of nervous at how working moms would receive it. It wasn't that I was pitting one group of mothers against the other, I was just saying, Hey you warrior mamas, I get it now. I get that I was once a whiny cry baby about things that were kind of stupid, and it took becoming a working mom myself to realize how hard motherhood in general is, no matter what side of the grass you stand on...

But not everyone read it that way.

Here is the thing about last week's negative comment. It had an air of truth. I am a constant complainer. The Hubbs would tell you that I am constantly and consistently a "half empty" person. I fall into shame spirals daily. I am hard on myself. I constantly want to be perfect, even though I will preach day in and day out on this blog that perfection is stupid. Perfection is stupid, but that doesn't mean it still doesn't bug me and jeer me from the sideline. And so I complain when things are less than perfect.

I'm also lazy. I'll admit that too. And spoiled. I am an only child, so for the better half of my life the world really did revolve around me. If you knew my parents in real life you would totally understand.  I don't put my dishes in the sink. I never make my bed. I will procrastinate and check Instagram one million and three times before changing the laundry, doing the dishes, or starting dinner. And if one of my favorite shows is on, forget it. You will find me binge watching whatever marathon is on. That is just who I am.

So when I read some negativity last week about me as a person, I took pause. Then I got pissed, because there was some truth to it, but then I got really mad because I couldn't respond to the commenter. There was no way to start a conversation...

She's a no reply commenter.


And no, I don't want to reply just to rip her to shreds. I want to reply so that we can share more of our stories. She says that I should grow up, like her and her ten hour a day job, with two toddlers, that she made a conscious decision to have. That I should stop being a constant complainer, which is a major reason she quit reading my blog. And it's great that she has her own opinion of me, but what about my opinion of her? Can I really form one? Maybe that ten hour a day job is one that she loves, one that she put herself through school to do. Maybe she does it well, and maybe, since she's always worked her babies no longer cry for her on a constant basis. Maybe she feels zero guilt. Maybe she is living her dream, and stupid mommy bloggers like me shit all over her ideals and goals. Maybe she is a hero for us all, with clean baseboards, homemade baby food in the fridge, and kids who sleep in their own beds and through the night. Maybe this is what makes her happy.

Because if she is happy, then that is fantastic. I'm happy for her.

My story on the other hand is very different. Even though I live my life on this blog, maybe I haven't always been honest about how I got here. For this no reply comment to imply that I'm not an adult who didn't make a conscious decision to have children really ticks me off. I'll be thirty seven this year, and while I may be a thirty seven year old complainer, I did make a very conscious decision to have children. I also made the equally conscious decision to stay home with them. That has been the plan from the very beginning. But when we could not financially support that anymore, I made the conscious decision to go back to work so we could stay in our house and keep Mackenzie in school. Me working outside the home was not my dream, not right now anyway, and I get to be devastated and sad about that. I get to be disappointed that I'm not longer the room mother. I get to be disappointed that I've missed a majority of Mackenzie's years just before she starts school full time. I get to be sad about those things. No matter what some no-reply commenter has to say about it.

I also take offense to the fact that because I complain about things on my blog it must mean that I complain about them all the time at home. Sure, I do complain at home, but this blog is my release. It's where I come for therapy. It's where I write all the ugly down, and then let it go when I hit publish. To imply that I'm setting a horrible example for my girls is just plain bullshit. I'm setting one hell of an example for my girls. My girls will always know that they have a choice and a voice. They will always know that they can express their emotions, even if they may not be favorable, let's say for example, if they are complaining. My daughters will always know that Mommy has multiple endeavors at any given time that include, motherhood, writing, working, or career. My daughters will always know that I love them and that this choice is temporary. That one day, Mommy won't be in this season. They will know that love is unconditional, and that life is hard and sometimes a little foggy.

All of that is okay. Because life is okay. And my life will always be different from yours fellow reader and/or no-reply commenter. Because we want different things, like different things, and believe different things. And all of that is just fine. In fact, my daughters will be better for it.

The most important lesson though is that my daughters will always know that they can use their voice. Just like I'm using mine, and always sign their name to it. You see, for every no-reply commenter, there is a person, behind a screen, silencing her own voice. Silencing her very own opinion. That is not the lesson I'm teaching. I'm teaching my daughters to use their voice, put their stamp on it, sign their name to it. I'm teaching them not to hide. I'm teaching them to shout from the mountain tops. Even if their opinion is unfavorable. Even if it sounds like they are complaining.

Receiving a negative comment was a bummer. In the four years I've been blogging, I can count the negative comments on my hand. That can't be a bad thing. Because for every negative comment, I receive four more. Four good, thoughtful comments, oftentimes thanking me for using my voice. For writing down the things that others are too afraid to say. Thanking me for talking about the hard stuff, even on the days it sound like complaining. Yes, that's right, sometimes I'm thanked for all the complaining that I do...

Who am I to complain about that?

The want for you

I had a blog friend text me the other day. A friend of a friend that was a blogging acquaintance. I say that now, because after such an intimate conversation via text, I consider her a friend. A fellow confidante, in the trenches of motherhood.

She's like most of us. Or maybe how we once were. Simply drowning in the every day motions of motherhood. The littlest things, the morning wake up calls from tiny humans; the breakfasts that are fit for a short order cook; the struggle to get dressed, put shoes on, maybe get out of the house today... She's there. Right there is the middle of the chaos and joy, trying to find her place and herself before she loses her grasp on both. I see her, hell, I recognize her. I was there once, and it's a battle to get to the other side of it. Luckily, she is a fighter, and her first step was to admit some truths.

Truths like hating days where they can't leave the house because daddy has the car. Days where one kid will wear clothes, the other will refuse, and the third just won't stop crying. Days where your best laid plans of making waffles or pancakes from the box mix are dashed because you're out of syrup or eggs, or the kids won't stop screaming about Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Days that feel like months, where showers and hot meals allude you. Those truths, where you love your kids, but running away looks damn good right about now. Running and never coming back seems super reasonable.

But in your heart you know it's the most unreasonable thing in the world. And for even thinking such a thing must make you the most ungrateful, horrible, mommy dearest on the planet.

I've got news for you. It doesn't. It makes you human.

She admitted that she just wants her life back. "I just want me back".

And so I told her. That is the worst part of motherhood sometimes, the want for you. The you that you used to be. The you that had sure footing and made great decisions. The you that had grace under pressure. The you that had all her shit together, in the right places, at the right time. The you that wore make up and showered, on the same day even. That you. The one that you long for, and cry for at night.

In a way she is gone, but also still here. I can tell you, as I told her, from experience, that she will come back to you. Changed and perhaps hardened, she will come back. But first you have to do the hard stuff. The messy diapers and spit up stuff. The taking it day by day, night by sleepless night, the three different dinners for three different children, kind of hard. And all the hard stuff is going to feel like it sucks and like it's never ending, and that you may not survive it.

But you will survive it, and from my experience you will one day look back and miss the hard stuff. Even though you didn't enjoy it, even if you wished it to pass you by faster, one day you are going to stop in your tracks and miss it. Miss the sleepless nights with a baby. Miss the sweet sleeping baby in your lap at nap time. Miss chicken nugget dinners for one, grilled cheese for another. One day you will miss those little bodies that climb into your bed at night, so silently that they don't even wake your weary tired self. You will positively miss that stuff.

No matter your experience in motherhood, you will still long for you. Even though you have changed, you will still want to feel like your old self. The one who knew a thing or two about life. The one who still had time for her husband who sometimes feels like a stranger since having kids. The you who knew herself. Knew her fears and hope and dreams, and knew how to get what she really wanted out of life. That you, who seems so terribly far away.

My advice to her and my advice to you, let it all go. Let go of that plan. Let go of the idea you had about motherhood. How it was going to be for you and your baby. Let go of that plan to be perfect and make you own baby food, breast feed exclusively, not let your kids watch TV all day every day. Let go of that. Let go of the idea that there is a formula for a perfect and put together mom. That there are rules to live by. That there are right ways and wrong ways. Let go and embrace what you have now. The mess and the chaos. The babies that like only foods that are orange or will only eat apples on Tuesdays at three. Embrace the messy house, that isn't hoarders, but isn't exactly company ready either. Embrace the new plan, the one that allows you to be happy. The one that allows you to be you, honest and true, the plan that let's you breathe and be grateful for the mess.

Embrace all that is good about you, and your family, and your imperfect mess.

You will always have a want for "you", because "you" are always changing. No matter how old your children get or how many you have, there will always be room for change. Change is good, change is what makes us interesting and strong. So change, shed your skin again and again, find your happiness and your grace. And embrace you chaos, always. Mostly, make sure you continue to find yourself, even on the darkest days.

I know from experience, that "you" are totally worth it.