Thirty Nine {and counting}

On Sunday I'll be thirty nine. THIRTY. NINE. Weird. I don't feel thirty nine. I don't remember aging. I still feel every bit of twenty nine, even thirty, if only in spirit. In my mind I'm still young. My spirit hasn't aged a day, but my body has. My mind and my heart have grown up too. I have aged everyday to discover that on Sunday I will wake up and start by thirty ninth year. It's wild.

This week I gave a lot of thought to turning thirty nine. That digit so close to forty, it was a little shocking. I thought, wouldn't it be great to be twenty nine again? Ten years younger? When my hair was thicker hair and I had zero crows feet. To be on the cusp of motherhood again, and really if I'm honest, adulthood. I was truly still a newlywed ten years ago. I remember looking better, and that independent spirit. The freedom of being a twosome. Sleeping all day on Sunday. Rarely grocery shopping. If I didn't do laundry on Sunday night the only person without clean panties was me. If I didn't cook dinner, I was the only one forced to forage in the pantry. Sure I was married, but the Hubbs rarely cared about such things. The Hubbs and I were young and free and didn't answer to anyone but ourselves.

Then the memories slowly started to trickle in. I was pregnant the year I was twenty nine. I remember I spent that birthday eating ice cream and gluten free cake until I was almost sick. I remember propping up swollen ankles and marveling at a growing belly, loving every minute of "being fat" with a purpose. For the first time in my life I regarded my big belly with pride, not the shame that had followed me since junior high. I was elated that soon I would be a mom. Some one's mom. Welcoming a little girl into the world. Knowing that it was going to be the best thing that had ever happened to me.

As many of you know it was. And it wasn't.

Twenty nine and thirty were just about the hardest years of my life.

I've been told that twenty nine is the perfect age to start a family, and sure, for me it was. By twenty nine I was out of college and in a career, not my chosen one, but I was making money. I had lived enough to know that hangovers were total bullshit so tried to avoid those at all cost. Thanks to a financial savvy husband I was spending smarter, saving better. It made total and complete sense that he and I waited to get married and waited a little longer to start a family.

But there was something sinister about twenty nine.

By twenty nine, I knew what failure looked like, and I knew what failure felt like. By twenty nine I had floated on a string of successes since graduating from high school. In my mind I was well on my way to being the best mother and wife the world had ever seen, because why wouldn't I be. Hadn't I always achieved great success just by trying? In my mind motherhood was going to be just like everything else I had done in my life. I would work hard, and poof. I would be perfect at it.

At twenty nine I was also dumb, naive and not even a little bit ready for my new life.

To be young again.

Nope. Never mind. I don't want to be that young again.

I don't want to be the scared first time mother who just knew mind body and soul that she was messing up her kid every single second of the day. I don't want to be that zombie of a mom who spent close to a year going through the motions. I don't want to be that sleep deprived ever again. I don't ever want to be that angry ever again because I couldn't breastfeed, sleep-train an infant, or finish the laundry before my husband came home from work. I don't want to hate my body that much, because I couldn't lose the baby weight, because I was eating my feelings. I don't want to suffer from such a level of self hate, or such an insane level of self doubt ever again.

I don't want to be that twenty nine year old new mother, stumbling and hating every minute of it.

That shit sucked. That year sucked. Twenty nine sucked.

The best thing about twenty nine though, the ten years that followed didn't suck. In fact they were fantastic.

Somewhere around thirty one I found my footing. I became a better mother because I realized that it wasn't any one's business if I bottle fed or co slept. I became a somewhat better wife, but only because I realized that no one really notices base boards or dirty laundry. I found some joy in the monotony of motherhood, solace in the semi-scheduled life of my toddler. Then as soon as I got my "sea legs" I got pregnant again and right around thirty two welcomed my second daughter. This time I was ready. That breast is best bullshit went out the window. I put a twin bed in her room next to her crib, made sure the TV in there had cable, knowing I'd spent a lot of time in that nursery. I knew the routine of a new born, more of less, and wasn't scared this time. This time around motherhood brought me joy. Regardless of the chaos and the bullshit. I found that happy place where it all intersects.

By thirty five I had found the power in the written word, regardless if those words were written by me. I had always loved to write, but starting a blog changed everything. It changed the way I felt about myself. It brought me such a feeling of success when I hit publish even if my mom and best friends were the only ones reading. Blogging, fueled by motherhood, made me brave, made me strong, made me realize that I had worth. Writing helped me find my new self. The one who had laugh lines and grey hair. The new me that had an extra ten pounds that wasn't ever going away. The new me that was born the day my first child was born. The me I was always supposed to be, but was never brave enough to recognize.

Recently, as in the past year, I've given up on a lot of things. Like my weight. I go to the gym, and have a love for running that makes me absolutely loathe myself (in a good way because what kind a masochistic bitch loves to run? oh yea me). I also like to eat, and Paleo diets are full of fat, so as I count down to forty, I realize that this is my size. I'm not shy about saying I run to eat. No boot camp, ab challenge, or cleanse will do it any justice, and at this point, I'm fine with that. I also wear jeans that are higher waisted because I can't stand for my ass crack to show. Call me crazy but that just isn't cute on an old lady like me. I no longer worry about the "rolls" that hang over the waist of pants and skirts. The ones on my back and under my arms. My body is just softer and rounder these days. Ten years ago I would have bought new clothes to cover them up. Today, nah. I'm some body's mother. And lets be honest, no one is looking at the old lady in cropped jeans and a flannel anyway. I don't turn heads, and I'm totally okay with that.

My forehead wrinkles in my selfies. There are lines around my eyes. My make up doesn't do the same tricks that it used to. My hair is mostly grey these days, thankfully I spend most of my money on box dyes. Still, I wouldn't go back. I wouldn't want to wake up twenty nine again. I don't think I could do that shit twice.

On Sunday I'll be thirty nine. I'm grateful. I'm happy. I'm content. I turned out okay. I've learned a lot in ten years. I'm still an okay wife. I'm a pretty damn good mom. Ten years ago I ached for this life. I yearned to be this person. Self assured, confident, adjusted, happy. I wanted so much to be the mom I am today, I just didn't know it. I didn't know that being completely imperfect in every way would complete me in a way that would make me weep.

The question is, who will I be at forty nine?

I'm excited to find out.

We don't have time to pee... {December 2016}

I've done nothing but sleep and read since the day after Christmas. That's not the whole truth, but it's 95% of it. December was a blur, and not in the cliche way, like it was so magical and jammed packed with fun it just flew by. No, it was a blur because it was jam packed with obligation and work and school and homework and unnecessary class party bullshit.

Oh. Wow, that took a turn. Sorry. Rant over.

Seriously, though. Can I be honest for a minute here? December was kind of a shit show. Between dance and Girl Scouts and dance recitals and school and homework and oh yeah, actual work, we were scheduled to the very minute. Every single minute of every single day contained a task, a plan, a to do list, some kind of obligation. I know what you're thinking. You do this to yourself, Meg. You say yes, you want to be the room mom and the scout leader and the mom who does all the fun holidays stuff like make sugar cookies and gingerbread from scratch. Yes. You're right. I'm guilty of wanting and not wanting to be that kind of mom, simultaneously. But if over scheduling a life was an Olympic event, I'd be a gold medalist to a Michael Phelps degree.

I didn't plan for an over scheduled holiday season. You would think since I'm a retail warrior I'd plan better since Christmas ornaments hit the sales floor on October (not even kidding). You would think that since I spent the week before Thanksgiving in Disneyland that was decorated within an inch of its life for Christmas I would have been better prepared.

I wasn't.

Fully aware of the calendar I still didn't even have a chance to make cookies with the girls until the week of the 17th. The 17th I made the dough, the 18th we cut them out and baked them, and on the 19th after school and before dance we decorated them. I'm not even joking a little that these were 110% scheduled. Within an inch of our lives.

Christmas shopping was done via Amazon and my weekly day off. It's almost impossible to shop on the weekend with kids who are old enough to know what kind of Santa shit you are trying to pull. I took an extra day off to wrap gifts. And then actually followed through and wrapped gifts because if not nine days before Christmas then when? Never, it would have never happened.

One afternoon during a Target run, in between dance (Mackenzie) and dance (Caitlin), I actually told Mackenzie, "We don't have time to pee". Bathroom breaks had not been scheduled for this Target run, and if we stopped we would be late to the next pressing appointment (dance). Don't worry, I'm not a monster, I took her to the restroom. Still I said the words, because I felt them with my entire body and soul. They were cold hard facts, I had not scheduled time to pee.

We made some good memories. I promise we did. The kind of memories that come with having a harried over scheduled slash over achieving mother. My daughters will always remember the "great boot hunt of 2016" the night before the Christmas program, staying out at the mall until 9 at night when we should have all been in bed, or at least homework for that matter. They will always remember the winter dance recital where their mom didn't realize how long it would take to do hair and make up on her two daughters plus herself. Which meant a breakfast of French fries and Dr Pepper courtesy of Jack in the Box, which they bragged about all day. My girls will never forget the last minute dash to do all the things: ugly sweater selfies, teacher gifts and making reindeer food in the 11th hour on Christmas Eve. Not even kidding when I say that we made reindeer food, put that shit out and went to bed. 

These are the moments that allow great children to become great adults. I promise you. Carefully curated Christmases are for psychopaths. Or so I continue to tell myself.

We had a fantastic Christmas. Was it sparkly and Instagram ready? Of course not. But after almost ten years of motherhood, it my brand of perfect. I wasn't ready, but I'm beginning to think I never will be. Not all the decorations made it out. The craft supplies that were supposed to be our 2016 ornaments are still sitting in the bag. The wreath I wanted to re-do has be carefully repacked into its bin. That beautiful chocolate gingerbread cake that I planned on baking in October, is still waiting to be baked. I never did see Love Actually all the way through. I never did read Jolly Postman Holiday to the kids. But none of those things matter now. Not really. We could do all of those things now, in January. In preparation for next year. Maybe the key to fitting in all the things in December is to start doing them in January. Eureka! I'm a genius. 

Now, in the most cliche way I have blinked and it's January. Actually it's January ninth, and my kids go back to school tomorrow. We are back to our regularly scheduled programming, and December is but a blur. Except for the fact that I still want to sleep all day and read all night. But I've held that belief since college. I'd like to say that December 2016 was the hardest and worst of the Decembers yet, but that would be a lie. The truth is, living on the edge, over scheduled and overwhelmed is exactly how I roll ninety nine percent of the time. That's where the naps come in. 

That my friends is how you win at December-ing. 

Goodbye December/ Goodbye 2016

It occurred to me an hour ago that I had not posted a single thing in the month of December.

I should have realized this sooner, but the truth is, I was too busy. Too overwhelmed. Too distracted by a season that should have been more focused.

My last post to this blog was November 8th, and after that it seems as though I have blinked and today is December 31st.

To say that December was hard is a complete understatement. Busy became a four letter word. I struggled the entire month to hold on tight to traditions, my knuckles turning white, and seemed to fail regularly. Christmas cookies were a three night project. I took a day off from work to wrap gifts. Class gifts were forgotten, gift cards were chosen last minute, even my regular binge of Christmas movies didn't happen before the 25th.

I spent the last 10 days before Christmas in a panic. How would it all get done? The class parties and the dance lessons, and the parties at the dance lessons. The Girl Scout party, the "Adults only" Christmas party, the family celebrations. As usual, they all fell into place, some last minute, some by the skin of our teeth. Some things we just had to let go of, because there were never enough minutes, barely enough moments.

That is why I woke up on Christmas Eve and decided to be happy. I made the conscious effort to be content. That is why I watched all five of my favorite Christmas movies between the 24th and the 26th. All in bits and pieces, I only saw my favorite scene in Love Actually (Hugh as the PM dancing, because duh); half of The Holiday while Santa worked furiously putting together a doll house. I switched back and forth between A Christmas Story and Scrooged. Home Alone on Christmas Eve afternoon while I baked cakes. It wasn't pretty or perfect, but I saw enough of them to soothe my soul. To make it feel like I was ready for Christmas.

Because I needed to be ready, for my family, for my kids, and I wasn't quite in the Christmas spirit. But the bits and pieces came together and made it feel whole enough to tear open gifts and eat candy first thing in the morning. To enjoy gifts of coloring books and colored pencils. To laugh with and at cousins I don't see regularly. To make reindeer food last minute with my girls who couldn't go to bed until the milk and cookies were out, and the reindeer food sprinkled.

We spent a rushed Christmas happily. All the traditions we didn't get to were forgotten Christmas morning. We didn't look back, we were too busy celebrating.

Truth is we are still celebrating. Our tree is still up, the lights are still on the house.

We haven't finished quite yet.

Because we made it to today, with a few bumps, but we still made it.

I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful for today and all the yesterdays of 2016. Even if some of them were complete and total bullshit. Even if some of the days included loved ones getting life altering diagnosis. Even if some of those days included fights about politics with family members. Even if some of those days included mom fails and wife fails and all around adulting fails.

I'm grateful I'm here. With my health and my family. With the people I love and those that love me. Tonight I'm heavy with reflection as I say goodbye to 2016. I'm heavy with hope for 2017. Mostly I'm happy and thankful as I greet a new year. It's like opening a fresh notebook. Blank pages just waiting to be filled.

Cheers to filling them well.

Chapter One...

30 Day Writing Challenge {Day 1 /Social Media}

November is National Novel Writing Month and every November I promise myself that I'm going to hunker down and write my novel. I haven't, but what I found was a 30 day writing challenge for the month to spark some creativity. I found this pin on Pinterest, and have been following it, mostly. I've also used this one too. 

As you can see, I'm publishing these out of order, the only reason is that I'm just writing the prompts and they are piling up before I can get them onto the blog. Day 1 was "The Problem with Social Media". I write these on my phone and leave them pretty much unedited. If you want to join in the challenge, check out the pin and jump in!

At first glance the obvious problem with social media would be the time it can consume, the envy that it can bring, the bullying that inevitably follows, and the overall idiocy that continues. Right now social media is a mirror image of what's happening in our lives. The election, black lives vs blue lives, trashy Halloween costumes, celebrity scandals and gossip. People are bullied. Families are divided over Hillary vs Trump and everyone is offended.
I could write for hours on all the problems and issues that plague social media.
Instead, Here is what I know is great about social media.
I'm connected with friends and relatives that I normally wouldn't be. Some live near, some live far, but thanks to Facebook and Instagram they are a click away.
I like that my husband and I speak meme, fluently. We can send each other memes all day long and talk and laugh about them later. I love those direct messages from him.
I love that social media allows me to connect with people I would never meet otherwise. Two of my dearest friends are products of the blogging world. We've only met up three or four times in real life. We text every day. Without social media, I wouldn't have them in my life and that would be a crime.
I love that people all over the world can have a heart felt connection over a cat video or a sheriff dancing in a high school gym. Real connections. Sharing comments.  Being kind or showing support. It's fun to read positive reactions instead of the negative ones usually highlighted on social media.
I love so many things about social media, about my iPhone, about Internet connections. For all the awful and negative aspects of this new age of communication, there are so many positive ones. It's true that my children will never know about a life without Facebook or Instagram. A life where real, tangible mail ruled. A world where you couldn't just download the best selling book or movie the night it was released. Standing in line on press day, waiting for the five o'clock news, having to wait for a rerun of a favorite show, are just tales of lore. Stories of yesteryear.
Still there is something to be said about watching a table of ladies, grandmas and great grandmas to be specific, taking pictures of each other, then taking selfies. Maybe they all have Facebook accounts to keep up with the kids. Maybe they have Instagram accounts for all the filters. Maybe one of those cool grannies even has a Snapchat and added the deer filter. I have no idea, but from where I sat last Saturday in a restaurant, those ladies were happy as can be. Armed with iPhones and great filters. Giggling and laughing at what technology is doing for them.
Oh to be that cool one day.

30 Day Writing Challenge {Day 2: Earliest Memories}

November is National Novel Writing Month and every November I promise myself that I'm going to hunker down and write my novel. I haven't, but what I found was a 30 day writing challenge for the month to spark some creativity. I found this pin on Pinterest, and have been following it, mostly. I've also used this one too. 

Day 2 was "Your Earliest Memory" and I had a few to share. This was fun to write, even if it was just on my phone while my girls were at dance. If you want to join in the challenge, check out the pin and jump in!

I can remember going to preschool, Bo Peep and Ms. Jean was my teacher. I always wanted to get the "good egg" award. It was given to the most well behaved children at the end of the day. It was a card stock egg, on a string. It was coveted by all the children. I remember the beautiful schoolhouse that was once an actual house on a street in town, and it had neighbors. I remember celebrating my fifth birthday with the most beautiful cupcakes from Pollyanna bakery. White cupcakes with white butter cream air brushed to look like grass, with jelly beans and candy eggs on top. The privilege of being a spring baby. I remember the playground. Filled with play houses with real food boxes, recycled for play before people did such things. A large fort with real logs. Play cars that I literally fought over. Because the red one was always mine. I remember the most delicious sugar cookies, their tops packed with “nonpareils”, every color of the rainbow. I nibbled that cookie all the way down to my fingertips but refused to eat more, because my hands were dirty from playing outside. My request to wash them denied, my need for clean, germ free hands, intense. But I remember the cookie, still thirty four years later. The buttery film it left in my mouth, the crunch of the non perils, the heartbreak of losing the last third of it to dirty hands.

I remember my first quesadilla. Jack cheese on corn tortillas. More please. I always wanted more of whatever My grandma Chila was cooking. We sat on the porch of her house, watching the cars go by, the afternoon sun fading, a glorious day for Salinas. A rare fog free day. We waited there for my mom to pick me up after work. Maybe I was four, maybe I was five. I remember my Grandpa's red and white can of Budweiser, the sharp tang of the Monterey Jack cheese, the soft shell of the corn tortilla. I can still see the angle of the sun on the porch, and know all these years later that I was barefoot and in shorts. I can still feel the sun on my back from the beautiful Salinas day.

I can remember the first time I wrote my name, in a picture book. Over sized capital “E” and “A”, as though I had a preference for vowels. I had been writing my bike in the driveway and stopped to look at the book. The sun was bright and I had to squint to see my name on the page. The first time I remember reading was with Mrs. Perkinson my kindergarten teacher. I read her flash cards of colors, orange and red, purple and blue, then of words like house and cat. I can still remember the paste in the jars, the stamps on the back of my hand when we were good, the lunch that my grandma would pack… One half ham sandwich on white, one half banana, red juice in a plastic barrel that she had bought at Monte Mart, because I didn’t like milk.

For the month of November I'll be posting the things that I write in this challenge. It just takes me a few days to get them from my phone and edited. I hope you liked reading as much as I liked writing.