We. Are. Tired {first half week of school}

 It's Wednesday and the exhaustion has set in. The first week of school is always the hardest, but this year, this year is kicking some serious ass. We are happy, we are having fun, but we are very, very tired.

Today drop off was a breeze, but it was early release and before I knew it, I had to be back to pick up Mac for kinder pick up. Then forty five minutes later back for Caitlin's pick up. With the temps hitting over one hundred today, I was exhausted after shuffling and shuttling kids for the better part of an hour.

But with early release comes some fun. We spent the remainder of the afternoon with my grandparents who are the girls great grandparents. This is one of my life's greatest gifts. To see the joy on my grandparents faces when my girls come over and bring all their noise and chaos. My grandma who will always and forever have a two gallon bucket of ice cream in her fridge year round; offers it as if it's the perfect snack day or night. My grandpa who asks ridiculous questions like if there are bears at school, or if their teachers bark like dogs, can always make the girls laugh. Mackenzie took a nap there. Caitlin did her homework. I talked to my grandpa about baseball. All in all, the best way to spend an afternoon.

By dinnertime, I was in no mood or shape to cook. Did I mention I went for a run at 5:30 this morning. Usually I wouldn't "brag" or "toot" my exercise horn, but my neighbor and I wanted to get a jump on the day, and did we ever! However, waking up that early requires rest that I didn't get last night because, Buzz Feed videos. So by dinner, I was wiped out. Chicken nuggets, Mac and Cheese, leftovers from Monday. Whatever they wanted really. Then I sat. I regrouped. Before I knew it, it was bedtime.

It's Wednesday and the exhaustion has set in. We are so very tired and we still have two days to go. We can do it. We are the little engines that could and can and will always keep going. But really, I just want to sleep in.

And also, I really miss summer. Back to school recaps to follow when I can string together coherent thoughts again.

Back to School we go

Summer ends tonight. As we try, in vain, to get the kids to sleep before midnight, the Hubbs and I will mourn the passing of Summer. It doesn't seem possible that we are headed back to school tomorrow. That Caitlin is a third grader, and Mackenzie a kindergartner. I want more summer, which is an odd battle cry, as mother's everywhere are rejoicing that school is starting again. Still, I want more. This summer was so relaxing and enjoyable. It was so nice to breathe again, and spend time with the kids with nothing to do but live. Our schedule was random at best, but we liked that. We thrived in that.

Despite the fact that the school supplies are bought and back packs are packed, I'm not ready for tomorrow. The girls are excited to wear new shoes and new outfits, and I'm dreading every single minute of a harried morning. Dreading the lunches to pack and the ticking clock to follow to make sure drop off and pick up are seamless. I'm not ready to surrender to a schedule, to dive back into a routine. For the first time in my life I loved the "fly" approach. I loved the "I'll do it tomorrow" attitude that I had left behind when I re-entered the work force. I forgot how lovely and carefree motherhood could really be if you let it. If you just let it fly.

My kids didn't read every day this summer like suggested. They didn't crack open any math or phonics work books. We did read some Harry Potter together, some Wimpy Kid when we felt like it, a little Frog and Toad before bed. They did however play outside. They rode their bikes and played with neighbors, and swam. They swam like little fish. They stayed up late and went to bed late and did that vicious cycle that seems impossible to break. I was okay with that. In fact I welcomed that. Some of my best summer memories are of staying up late with my mom. Eating freshly baked cookies well after The Tonight Show started, or heck, ended. My kids will have some of those memories too. Ice cream at ten at night. Smoothies before bed. Cookies for breakfast and lunch some days. I bought McDonald's more times than I'd like to admit, but french fries and cokes are what my childhood memories are made of. It seemed right to let them experience it as well.

Our carefree summer days are coming to a close. We have schedules to make and keep. Dance classes to attend, Girl Scout meetings to plan, mom has to go back to work after taking an entire week to soak up the last little bits of summer. That slow morning crawl that we have enjoyed so much will cease to exist, save for the few Sunday mornings that mom isn't at work. We are all sad to see summer go, even if the excitement of the first day clouds our judgment.

We, as a family needed this summer. We needed to regroup and relax. We needed to refocus. I, personally, really needed to refocus. For me, I'm sad to see summer go, but I'm so happy I really lived it. I'm so happy that I was present, and that I didn't squander it. Maybe we didn't make that Solar System mobile we saw on Pinterest. Maybe we didn't bake all the gluten free goodies we had planned. For me and my girls, that feels okay, because we filled our days and nights with people and family. We filled our summer with memories of sparklers on the Fourth of July, the comfort of neighbors who moved back for good, and swimming with Grandma late into the evening.

We didn't worry this summer. I didn't worry this summer, and it was so freeing. Without the weight of worry I was able to really focus on what matters the most. My family. My husband. My girls. Me. We made memories and took lots of pictures to post to Instagram. We took our sweet time most days, and didn't let the little things make us sweat (save for the 100 plus degree heat of Fresno). I was able to really enjoy the day, with less stress, and it felt amazing. In fact, I don't want summer to end, because I don't want this feeling to end. And even though life today is nothing like life was about twelve weeks ago at the start of summer, I'm happy. I'm okay and quite content with how the cards fell. I realize that there is something to be said for "slow", something to cherish in "uncomplicated".

I'll miss our carefree and uncomplicated days. Life is about to get super complicated and chaotic. I'm not afraid this time around. I have a different mind set as we enter the last part of 2015. I got a gift this summer. The gift of time. The gift of reflection. The gift of really knowing what it was like to make good solid memories. Not just for my girls and my Hubbs. But for me. To sustain me when things get complicated again, when the hard things have to be done. I will have the sweet whispers of this summer's memories in my ears reminding me that life really is what you do with it, and what you make of it.

"Mommy, play with me" {A mother's secret}

Playing Barbies or Shopkins or whatever the Hell my kids are collecting these days is not my favorite. I know, I know, I'm a horrible person. Believe me, and trust me when I say, I love my kids. Both of them. Equally. In fact I love being a mother, even when its hard. However, for the love of all things holy, I just can't do the whole, let's play on the floor thing.

I'll bake with them. I'll paint their nails. I'll help them comb their dolls hair, but that's it. That is where my ability to "even" ends. Trust me, we've had dance parties. Picnics on the living room floor. Bring me a book or a thousand books and I'll happily read them. But babysitting baby Elsa is for the birds.

I'm not sure where the standard of parent/child interactive play time came from. My mom certainly didn't play Barbie or Strawberry Shortcake with me. I know. You all are horrified, considering I refer to my mother as the patron saint of mothers. My mother had other interests. Don't get me wrong she loved me, loves me now, but playing was not her thing either. My mother read books. Millions of them. My mother watched television and movies. Mother liked to go to bed late and sleep in. I don't think she ever once said yes to Barbies, and for the most part I don't remember asking. I'm one hundred and ten percent okay with that, in fact I believed I turned out just fine.

Just so we are clear, I'm not blaming my mom for my lack of participation with my own kids. I don't think it's so much as a learned behavior as it is just a way of life. I don't enjoy Barbies anymore. I don't really like playing baby dolls, in fact I never really did. What I do enjoy is crafting or baking with my kids. I also love to read and watch movies with them. Even better, I love taking them on lunch dates and sneaking away for Icees at Target. Sometimes though, I feel guilty. I should be down on the floor with one hundred and one Shopkins, playing with the girls. Why do I feel guilty? Is there a standard on playtime with my kids? I engage them. I talk to them. It's not like I ignore them, but if I'm honest this "helicopter" mom mentality has me like "Ugh". When I was a kid, it was up to me to entertain myself. Hence my imaginative personality!

All that aside. All the mom guilt and the standard on interactive play with your kids, I found a great way to play with my girls. It happened on accident. It was after a night of staying up way to late and getting up way too early. I was lying on the couch and Caitlin asked if she could play with my hair. It was about eight at night and we were done with doing anything more than laying around, so I said sure. This got the ball rolling and soon Mac was in the mix. Next thing I know we are playing beauty salon, I'm the client, and one is doing my hair and the other is doing my nails. I fell asleep.

Genius. Why didn't I think of this before? I just laid on the couch and I was totally playing with my kids. Easy. Simple. Very little exertion. Eureka! What else can you play beside "Spa Salon Client"? Well you could also be "the baby". I was the baby a few weeks back. Again, I was laying on the couch watching TV with the Hubbs and the girls brought me a blanket and a bottle. They also "fed" me baby food, and totally cracked up when I cried for more. The girls loved it and begged for more. Being the "baby" has it's perks. Also, I'm not going to put it past myself to be the "patient". Sometime in the near future, I'll be on the couch again and one of them will say, "Mommy, play with me", and I'll say sure, I'm sick, can you be the doctor? And they will come with their doctor kits and fake band aids and fix me right up. Again, I'll most likely fall asleep, which they will probably have already prescribed.

I'm sure you are reading this and thinking, "Wow, this chick. What a lazy ass", and you'd be right. Sometimes I want to be a couch potato more than I want to play with Monster High dolls. Sometimes I want to read a book with no pictures, or watch a show that doesn't have a laugh track. I've never said I was the world's greatest mother, and I've never claimed to be perfect. I'm just giving you some real life talk right now. I'd rather be the "patient" any day. I'd rather have them treat ailments like "lazy and tired mom disease" or treat me to a "spa day" than have to dress another doll. They're happy and I'm happy. World peace follows, at least in my house.

Trust me. The next time the kids want you to play, and you just want to chill and have a drink, tell them to book you for a "spa" appointment. Or tell them you lost the ability to "even", and that you need a doctor to treat you for it. Then grab your pillow, refill your drink, and breathe. You've just played with your kids, and quite possibly, the world's greatest mother.

Raising Good Humans {It's what Jesus would fricken do!}

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I've done really well with my temper this summer. I guess I can thank slow mornings, an entirely different work schedule, and no school for that. I'm more relaxed, and my children have noticed. Sure I'm still a "yeller", and sometimes I do have to use my outside voice, especially when my girls are fighting over "Shopkins" or "Barbie" shoes. Aside from that, it's been a pretty drama free summer...

Until last week.

The back story is that my oldest daughter has a mouth like her mother (poor kid) and the attitude of a fifteen year old. She's eight going on teenager most days. Recently she has been picking on the little guy who lives next door. He's four and she's eight and she is bossy as all get out and the combo rarely works. I've noticed from time to time that she singles him out, takes things out on him, and leaves him out of games and play time. When I catch it, I speak to her about it, explaining that she is the oldest and needs to set the example. In our neighborhood all the kids play together, and nine times out of ten she is usually the leader because for the most part she is the oldest. I've told her more than once that if she can't play something that includes everyone, then that game/toy/whatever can't be played when we are all outside. Period.

Last week as the adults were all huddled in one of our yards, talking, scrolling our phones, and making jokes, the little guy next door's mom, picked up on some interactions with Caitlin. She just shook her head and made the comment that Caitlin is always mean to him. This bites my ass in a way nothing else does. I can't stand when someone else catches the shortcomings. I hate when another parent has to show or tell me about my kids behavior. Maybe it's because I want perfect kids, or maybe it's because I'm mad I didn't catch it myself. Either way, I used my outside voice a little too aggressively. I asked her at least three times what happened, and when she wouldn't answer me I told her she was to go to her room. She refused. I repeated myself. She refused. I repeated myself. And after about the fourth time...

I used my scary mommy voice and demanded she go into the house NOW. Thus breaking up the neighbor party, embarrassing my husband, scaring my youngest, breaking the heart of my eight year old, and pissing myself off to no end. Yeah. That was me. The asshole.

Here is the thing. I'm trying to raise nice, kind, compassionate humans. I'm trying to raise humans that aren't going to go into the world and be complete assholes. I'm trying to raise good humans for the next generation.

I'm not trying to raise a kid who is mean to the little guy.

Once we got into the house I sat on her floor while she cried on her bed in Scarlett O'Hara fashion. I talked to her about why she was bullying the little guy next door. Why was she constantly picking on him? Why did he push her buttons? She gave me a few reasons that the Hubbs and I listened to, but seriously, she didn't have many. All I could gather was that she wanted to be the "boss" and he didn't always follow her instructions. To which I replied, "Well honey, that's life".

We had a really long conversation about how there will be people in life who will not always follow our lead. Just as there will be people in life who we won't want to follow either. I explained that there will be people in her life that she may not like the best, who won't necessarily be her best friend, but that doesn't mean that she shouldn't be kind to those people. No matter who we come in contact with, our default and reception should always be kindness. Even when it's hard and that person may be mean, that person probably needs kindness more than the rest of us.

At eight years old, she kind of understood this. We used examples of boys in her class last year that had been disruptive or may have said mean things, and we talked about how we were kind anyway. We talked about how sometimes we had to walk away when they were throwing mud or sand or whatever they were doing that wasn't in line with the rules. I told her it was okay to walk away from someone who was mean, to take herself out of that situation if she felt like she couldn't be kind. Walking away is better than being mean.

In her defense, she kept repeating that she was treating the little guy next door the way he was treating her. Using a louder voice, not wanting to play the things he wanted to play. She said, "Mom isn't that what you do? You treat people the way they treat you?". I stifled a laugh and told her she was half right. The actual rule is to always treat people they way you want to be treated. She cried a little harder and said, "But what about them? Why do they get to do it the other way?". This was just the beginning of a conversation that went in circles for about twenty minutes. Why should she be kind if the other guy wasn't? Why should she always treat people the way she wanted to be treated if they wouldn't do the same? Why did she have to be the kinder and bigger person? It went on and on with me explaining that it was just the way of the world. I was almost to the end of my patience again when I just ended by saying, Because I'm your mother.

I said, "I'm your mother and raising you as a good and kind human is my job. I'm not their mother. I'm not raising them. But you, you are mine and I want to raise you to be kind and loving. And when you are anything but kind, I feel like I'm not doing my job". What I wanted to do was to quote Izzy Stevens (Grey's Anatomy) and say, "Because it's what Jesus would fricken do!". It's the first time in this phase of my parenting life that I really feel like we needed some Jesus around here. I mentioned that to the Hubbs. He said that was another conversation for another time (another blog post too). But isn't it. Isn't it what Jesus wants us to do? He wants us to be kind. To embrace others for all their faults even when they are mean. Even when they are the little guy next door who would rather have the My Little Ponies crash into each other like monster trucks than have them host a tea party? The answer is yes.

By this time, Caitlin and I were both exhausted. Mac was crying because sissy was crying, and the Hubbs was giving me serious side eye about where the conversation was going to go at this point. I repeated the golden rule a few more times. We talked about being kind even when it's hard. Then I asked her to help me out a little when it came to my job as her mom. I asked her to help me raise her to be a good human. Because at eight, she is old enough to know better. She is old enough to make good choices and set a good example. And she is old enough to understand that I'm doing my best. That we are all doing our best, and that we are far, so far from perfect. It didn't seem too much to ask for her to follow the golden rule and just be kind. It's something that we can do together.

Can you imagine if we all offered each other just a little more kindness every day? What would that world look like? Sure, there will always be people who aren't exactly the nicest or our favorites, but maybe they deserve it more. I'm no expert, but I'm on a mission to raise good humans. Kind and loving humans. I don't want to be the parent with the kids that are total and complete assholes. Sure they need to have a backbone, but kindness isn't about being passive. Kindness is about being strong. Strong enough to know when to fight and when to walk away. Kindness is something that is free, but more valuable than diamonds. We could all benefit from a little more kindness in our lives.

Plus it's exactly what "Jesus would fricken do".

Our Back to School Breakfast {Not even a little Pinnable}

It is that time of year again. Summer is coming to a close and mothers everywhere are pinning ideas on how to send their children off to school the right way. Scrapbook paper apples and banners welcoming the new school year are filling my feeds on Facebook and Instagram. I got so inspired, I thought I'd write my own back to school post!

Here is what our Back to School Breakfast will look like:

6:35 am
I will have hit the snooze button no less than six times. Even with my "sounds" at full volume, my children will still be in a coma like slumber that will necessitate the use of force to wake them up.

6:46 am
I'm still in bed checking Facebook to see what kind of effort I'll have to make today, to make it appear that I give a few fucks about the first day of school. Let's see... Chalkboard sign? Nope. Apple shaped pancakes? Nope. A perfectly cut and hand crafted banner welcoming the school year? Hell Nope. Great. Maybe the kids will let me off easy with a trip to Starbucks on the way to school.

6:56 am
Realize that I've wasted too much time comparing myself to all the "Good Mothers" on Instagram and now have zero time to get myself ready. Aw. Look at that, I'm already back in my "back to school" routine.

7:00 am
Wake each child. Start by kissing them and saying sweet things like "Good Morning, Love" and "Wake up, Lovey". Then poke them a little. Then kiss them some more. Then try to turn them over so they can look at you. Finally contemplate prying their eyelids open with my fingers.

7:10 am
Physically pull each child out of bed, and help them zombie walk to the couch where the TV is on and Cartoon Network is blasting. Give them both cups of sweet tea because caffeine is a very important part of this back to school breakfast.

7:20 am
Realize that both children are refusing to wear the Back to School outfits that they picked out , themselves, two weeks ago. Argue with them about all the kids in the world that have to wear uniforms to school, try to convince them that they are "lucky", instead of telling them that they are spoiled rotten. They are now protesting the new clothes by sitting in their underwear. FML.

7:30 am
Ask them if they would like pancakes or waffles. Offer to cut them in fun shapes like apples or butterflies. Both children look at me like you are unrecognizable, because their mom doesn't cut out "shapes". Offer to add sprinkles. They wrinkle their noses. Finally ask what they want. One Chocolate Chip granola bar and one serving of Pringles, respectively. How am I going to Instagram this breakfast of Champions?

7:38 am
Beg them. Bribe them. Threaten them. If they don't get dressed in five minutes they will go to school in their panties. They whine and complain but put on previously mentioned Back to School outfits. Then spend the next four minutes doing six different hair styles on each one, because they are girls.

7:43 am
Neither child can find their new shoes specifically bought for this day. This is because they refused to listen to me when I said, "Do not wear/move/lose your new shoes before school starts". Rant and rave about how they never listen to you. Ever.

7:55 am
Shoes are on. Hair is done. Oh shit. Lunches.

8:05 am
Lunches packed. The day has been saved. Now run, rush, and hurry to get in the car to drive to school and meet the new teachers. Yell a little. Then yell a lot. Where the in the... Where are the back packs?

8:10 am
We made it. We are at school. We are on our way to meet the teachers.... And stop right there and smile. Mommy needs a picture so she can upload it to a photo editing app, so she can write what grade you are in and stuff, because who has time for chalkboard DIYs? Also dole out mini peanut butter cups in my purse (for emergency purposes) because there was no time for Starbucks and also there was some yelling. These peanut butter cups will wash away the guilt. My guilt anyway.

8:15 am
Warning bell. Kisses. Zero tears even though my baby is entering kindergarten TODAY. Because there is no time for tears. I'm rejoicing that my kids are at school, with clothes and shoes on, hair combed, and they have food to eat. Praise the Lord.

8:20 am
Wave as they walk into their new classrooms. Walk to my car in tears of relief, joy, and sadness. I made it (relief), they will be in school until three this afternoon (joy and elation), but my baby started kindergarten (sadness), and your first baby is in third grade (more tears). Resist the urge to write a very cliche post on Facebook, using the word bittersweet.

8:35 am
Sit in my favorite chair. Instagram the girls pictures that I have edited to show that today is the "First Day of School", adding their correct grades. Realize that they are both squinting in the sun, and not smiling. Make a mental note to take another one, but I know myself and will most likely forget. Catch up on some shows that use inappropriate language. Contemplate writing a blog post about how time movies so fast and back to school is hard. Decide it's better if I wait, because I will overuse the word bittersweet. Take a nap instead.

I can pretty much guarantee that this will be our first day of school. It's the same reason the leprechaun doesn't come for St. Patrick's Day and pee green in our toilet. It's why we never have fun crafts for Arbor Day or Flag Day. It's the reason that it's "National S'more day or National Doughnut day everywhere but here. Because life. Because chaos. Because I'm crazy enough without a Back to School Breakfast to prepare the night before, when not a single person in this house will fall asleep before midnight.

Cleaning and baking {trying new things}

I cleaned my house last week. When I say cleaned, I mean I spent the better part of a Sunday and Tuesday cleaning out closets and filling trash bags with old toys for Goodwill. I hate to clean, in fact it usually infuriates me. I'll admit, there were times on those days that I wanted to throw up my hands and quit, but I'm glad I made it to the end. The girls' rooms look so much better, their little play area in our hallway looks so much better, and we all feel so much better. I did however make the announcement that is was it for the year. The one time I would be cleaning. I'll be honest, I wasn't joking at all.

I've never understood that feeling. I have friends and a husband that love to have a clean house. Don't get me wrong I love a clean house too, but not when I have to clean it. I just enjoy so many other things than cleaning a toilet or mopping a floor. I'd rather read or watch my favorite show. This summer however I've had extra time on my hands and it's been a much welcomed blessing. I've tried to apply my time and myself to things that I'm not used to doing. Like cooking dinner that isn't grilled cheese and chicken nuggets. I've taken to straightening up the living room because then I'm not so embarrassed when my neighbors come over. I've done a much better job at making sure the girls pitch in too.

Yesterday Caitlin brought me one of her "princess" cookbooks and showed me a recipe for Monkey Bread. This brought forth a challenge because she is gluten free, so we have to experiment a little. When we went shopping yesterday I bought what we needed, and this morning we set to work. This time I let her get her hands dirty. I let her knead the dough, and shape them into little balls, then roll them in cinnamon. This morning I let go of the burden of "doing it myself", to make sure it was being done right. I just let it be. I just let us go forth into the experience of baking, together.  It was messy, and I realized that it would have been just as messy either way, with or without the help of an eight year old.

They didn't come out so great. In fact they were a little dry, even with a nice smear of butter. So we are going to try again, with a different baking mix, with more butter, and with some of the same patience we used today. I'll be honest, I really surprised myself this morning. I'm usually not this kind of mom, but I like her. I'm usually more uptight and type A in the kitchen, mostly because I'm not the best baker or chef. This however was fun, and a little lesson in letting it go, and letting myself breathe.

There is still laundry to do. There are still dishes to be put away. Are my floors as clean as they were last Tuesday? No, not even close. Yet, I have the desire to mop them again, and that is a good thing. I blame these new feelings on my dear friend and neighbor, who recently got me to start running again. She tricked me a few weeks ago by inviting me for a walk, then a few minutes into the walk she said, "You're ready for some couch to 5k, right?". I was already there and couldn't say no, peer pressure and all. The thing is, I felt great afterward, even with the side stitch and gasps for air. I woke up the next day sore, but stronger in mind, if not yet in body. On one of our jogs, she spoke about her "90 day" plans. Simple goals that she has committed to doing for ninety days, because after ninety days it becomes a habit. That got me thinking about some of my simple but attainable goals. Like running again, three times a week. Sweeping and mopping the floor more often than not. Cleaning the bathroom while the kids are in the tub. Not saving the laundry until Sundays. Little things that make you relax a little more, and breathe a little easier.

Little changes that have big payoffs later down the road.

No one is perfect, and I'm not even close. Still, I'm looking forward to more "Couch to 5k", cleaner floors, and clean laundry for all. Will there still be grilled cheese and chicken nugget dinners? Absolutely. Will my bathroom counters sparkle every day? Fat chance. But I can try to make small changes. The kids have requested "Taco Tuesday" after seeing it on the Lego Movie, so that's what we are going to do tonight. I'm going to make the best effort to put the laundry away and start a new load, by then end of the day. I'm looking forward to making small changes, easy and attainable goals, so we can be a little more organized as we roll into the new school year. Even when it's not my favorite thing to do. Like clean my house. Even if I really like a clean house, but I hate to be the one to clean it.

Changing Faces {The thing about quitting}

I read an online article the other day about quitting the blog life. I read it because the thought has crossed my mind a few times. Presented as a series, part one was about a blogger who quit blogging after eight years and more importantly to me, a book deal. She had some really valid points. She stated that it's nearly impossible to churn out engaging content day after day, and blogging starts to take over your life. You begin to ignore other parts of your life to make sure your content is up, publishable and relevant. This becomes harder if you have a full time job. For many of us, blogging is a hobby and a way of life. I will hit five years in January and what started out as a hobby has morphed into a routine and a burden at the worst of times, and a joy and a blessing at the best. Some days it's hard to tell the difference but I still love blogging. Even on the days when my traffic is damn near non existent, I still love to write and hit that publish button. 

But the idea of quitting has given me pause. The last year of blogging has been tough. I went back to work full time just about a year ago, and from that time on, my content and my consistency faltered. It is almost impossible to work full time, be a mom, a wife, and a blogger in my opinion. I like to read. I like to look at Instagram and Facebook. I like to watch television. Add those into the mix of dinner, laundry, making lunches, and homework, and it's a recipe for disaster. Since blogging has always been and still is very much a hobby, it was the first to fall off the to-do list. Pushing myself to the computer, cutting deals with myself to put up interesting content, made blogging seem more like a chore than a hobby I used to love. But I pushed through, because when I went more than four days without writing, my heart hurt. 
It was then that I realized that I just needed to write what I wanted. That shouldn't be a shocking realization if you are a writer, but if you are a blogger it feels like suicide. Blogging, a lot of the time feels like "Keeping up with the Jonses", where writing for me never has. Blogging, for the most part,  is about engaging content, sponsors, paid campaigns, and product reviews. Sadly, this blog isn't that kind of blog anymore, and truthfully it never was. In the beginning I was very interested in how this blog could make me a millionaire. I'm not kidding. I wanted to get big sponsorships, I wanted all the "big bloggers" in my sidebar. I wanted to be "discovered" and have my book written and on the shelves at Target by the years end. I had big dreams for this little blog, I really did. In the end, I realized that it was going to take a lot of time and a lot of hard work to get there. I was willing to do it, but as I dived into the world of paid sponsorships and affiliated campaigns, I realized that I was losing my voice. The voice that drove the traffic. I realized that my readers didn't stop by Absolute Mommy for the group giveaways or the review on carpet cleaner. They stopped here to hear about motherhood, messy kitchens, unfolded laundry, and fights with my toddler. I also realized that it was going to be impossible to keep up with it all and still think of and produce interesting content that sounded like me. 

I know many bloggers who work endlessly to put up interesting and engaging content every day. They are mothers and wives and friends, and they do one hell of a job. I envy them. I commend them. I wish I had an ounce of their drive an determination. They work hard and it shows in their traffic and their sponsorships. One blogger I know has told me that she has stayed up well past four in the morning to make sure her "group giveaway" or "sponsored" content was up by morning. She has three children, and I was like how in the world? I even told her so, I told her that she was a rockstar, because she is. She has the drive. She has the determination. She has the sponsorships, the free merch, and the traffic to show for it. I'll be honest, on most days I do not have that kind of drive for most things in my life, let alone blogging. It was this discovery that I realized that I'm really not cut out to be a blogger, not in the traditional sense. I'm so thankful for those friends that have successful blogs, with new content daily, and new products and sponsors to share. I read those blogs, I engage with those blogs. They have also allowed me to ask them questions about traffic and SEO and sponsorships. They have offered me valuable advice and invaluable support. 

With every year that I blog, I find myself changing faces. Recently I printed the majority of my content from the first two years of blogging. Please for the love of all things holy, do not go back in my archives. It's a bit scary. My writing is horrid, my voice, choppy, but there was real promise there. By my third year, my content was so much better, my voice so much clearer, and if I look at my traffic, it showed. I'm sad because I hit some momentum that I feel would have gotten me somewhere as far as traffic goes, but everything happens for a reason. Lately the reason seems that while my voice hasn't changed, how I blog is about to change. Blogging for me will remain a hobby for now, which will help cultivate my writing. I'm beginning to gain confidence in my writing, branching out and trying fiction. I will still write about what it's like to be a mother, the kind of mother who would rather (insert other activity here), but I will also branch out a little and write some fiction. I'm not ready to quit. Quitting seems like the easy way out. If I took away the ability to hit publish, I would never be motivated to write. 

I know a few bloggers who have stepped away, and I've been wanting to reach out to them and ask they why. They were very successful and popular bloggers when I was starting out. I still see them on Instagram or Facebook, and they still lead lives that are blogable. Still, I wonder, what was it about this blog life that made them walk away, what was it that made them hit pause. Like with most things in my life, when I realized that I didn't have to be perfect, I finally realized I could be good (John Steinbeck said it better, I'm paraphrasing). When I finally realized that my voice is what drove my traffic, I started to use it again. 

Today, my traffic is shitty. I haven't posted new content in over a week. Instead I've been ghost writing, and getting paid, which is amazing and wonderful. Hopefully a start to more paid commissions. I've been going over old posts from this blog to see if I have enough to compile into a book, even if I'm the only one who buys a copy. I've been cleaning out closets, packing up old clothes to giveaway, and taking my girls to get french fries at McDonald's. Because sometimes those things are way more important that sitting here. 

And then I remember that I'm still a writer at heart. I'm still a blogger in my bones. I'm still going to write and hit publish, because even when the faces change, my heart doesn't have to.