Gratitude – Not Just for Thanksgiving Anymore

Gratitude Edited

I hope everyone had a relaxing Thanksgiving.  But the truth is, most of you probably didn’t.  Many of my readers probably missed their children because it wasn’t their year for Thanksgiving (myself included).  Others, had them but they talked about “last year with _______, we did ______, and it was awesome”, while you smile politely and try to sound excited.  Lastly, there are the co-parents who have the shittiest deal, and have to swap halfway through the day.  These agreements are written by attorneys who obviously are not divorced, and do not know that seeing your ex halfway through the day and having to deal with children in transition sucks giant hairy donkey balls.  It all sucks no matter which of the above you were this Thanksgiving.

All that said, we don’t need a holiday to be grateful.  Besides, we celebrate the Natives assisting the Pilgrims in the month which has been assigned Native American Heritage Month (bet you didn’t even know we had one of those), in which we pretend all is well.  But, it’s like watching the Titanic movie, we know the damn thing sinks and we feel the same about Thanksgiving thinking, “run, they’re gonna take your shit!  Also, thanks for the corn.”

I know it’s hard, life is hard.  But, we can choose how we view it.  I feel like all I do is work and do chores.  What does that mean?  It means I’m employed.  I wash dishes because I have food to eat, and people to eat it with.  I do mountains of laundry and wash millions of tiny socks because I have two beautiful daughters.  I scrub out dog crates because I have companions that I don’t have to explain myself to and they are always happy to see me.  I have floors to mop because I own my own home and I want it to be well maintained.  I fall in the toilet at 4AM because I have a fabulous male friends who accidentally leave the seat up.

You don’t need to stand around a table and talk about what you are grateful for once per year while secretly being pissed when, “fuck, that’s what I was going to say.”  You can choose to be grateful for those you have even if it isn’t 100% of the time.  I’ve heard about gratitude journals but I’ve never been disciplined to keep up with one.  I simply make note that when my kids are upstairs screaming at each other, that I would never do without one just to stop the yelling.  The truth is, life is tough and as co-parents, we have a whole other set of rules and dynamics.  That said, we can embrace them and appreciate what we do have.  I don’t know about you, but I’d take those two girls 50% over 0% anytime.   

Happy Easter! Thinking Differently.

Kermit

This is how much I like Easter….I REALLY love Easter.  Easter in our house is bigger than Christmas.

You know why?  Because I didn’t use to see my girls for any other holiday (other than Halloween which often falls on a weekday and is not shared with family).

People always gasp when I say this and I explain that I agreed to this.  I didn’t have a large family at the time and I wanted the kids to keep the same traditions they had always had.  I feared change and every parenting book said they’d become serial killers if we didn’t have consistency.  I now know it’s all bullshit, but I didn’t know that then.

Regardless, I’ve learned to think differently….and I’m not just making the best of it.  I truly enjoy the traditions and way of life that we, as a family, have created.

I don’t need to make a big fuss over Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas morning.  We celebrate those when we feel like it.  In fact, making a huge celebration out of Easter means that I have less competition.  No one cares if you want Easter dinner at your house, no one complains that you saw this parent/family member for Thanksgiving so it MUST be our turn, etc.

When your children have multiple homes, you have to be creative.  Not the overused, “think outside the box”, but instead, think differently. It’s only a problem if you make it a problem.  Alternately, anytime can be a celebration.  We love making Christmas last an entire weekend.  It may be a week after Christmas but who cares?  We love having everyone over for Easter because most don’t have other obligations anyway.

Anything can be special if you make it so.  Pick a day.  Maybe in your house Wednesdays are special.  Maybe you have a water balloon fight every year on Secretaries’ Day.  Perhaps Boxing Day is popular in your home (no, I have no idea what that is but it’s on the calendar, and I don’t judge).  It doesn’t matter.  Your kids will remember traditions because they were important to you.  Not because Hallmark told you you needed to make it so.

Nothing Has Gone Wrong Yet This Year!

I hope each of you had a fun New Year’s Eve and no one ended up vomiting excessively or slipping in someone else’s urine (I say this because I almost ate it coming down a urine soaked staircase leaving a club….classy).  Today is by far my favorite day of the entire year.  It’s so full of promise.  This year is perfect so far!  Nothing has gone wrong yet!

Whatever happened last year is done and gone.  We move forward to a year that has the potential to be a wonderful year or at the very least, be better than the last.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore.  The average person keeps a New Year’s Resolution for 120 days.  Me, I eat one salad, hop on the scale, see no change, and decide to order a pizza (and cheesecake).  My resolutions last about 47 seconds.  It’s a waste of notebook paper to record them and dangerous for the annoying people who keep asking me what my New Year’s Resolution is this year.

I do however take stock of the previous year and decide what serves me and what doesn’t.   As I do this recap, I think of my successes and know not to be stupid enough to be smug.  Why?  Because right after that, I review my failures.  No sugar-coating, no embellishments, just what I screwed up.  I actually out loud, exclaim “Ug!” at my stupidity over some of the idiotic things I’ve done and hope to hell I don’t repeat these mistakes.

Learning to let go is a skill most parents need.  Only you can change certain things, only you choose how you react to things, and only you can start being the change you want to see.  I know that’s a lot of “yous” and you are already exhausted.  Take a deep breath….you got this.  Take a nap, have a glass of wine, and review last year’s photos.  I guarantee there was more good than bad, and this year is going to be even better.

Ringing In The New Year – Let’s Learn to Thrive Not Just Survive

Invisible Edited

So we’ve made it through another round of holidays and another year of co-parenting (or any parenting for that matter).  You should totally be high fiving yourself right now…I know I am.  Some days, when the kids are fed and alive by bedtime (even if not clean), I consider it a success.  If they are bathed, ate something resembling a vegetable, and didn’t look homeless when they left the house, I feel like the fucking master.  I’ve learned that much of parenting is simply survival.

Now, as we move into a new year, we reflect on the past as well as look forward.  My goal for you this year is not simply to survive, but to thrive.  Now, I am by no means telling you to start baking your own bread, going on an all kale diet, ironing underpants, and cutting out sugar/gluten/alcohol (God forbid)/red meat or whatever else people get on kicks about to feel better.  No one actually keeps all that shit up (at least not for long).  I’m not saying these are bad ideas, but this is not what I mean by thriving.  Here are some examples:

  1. Do one thing every day for you.  I know, I know, but I’m a selfless parent and even if I wasn’t, where would I get the damn time?  Everyone has time for what is important to them.  Make yourself important to you, and make the time.  You may think your priority is your kids but if you work 60+ hours per week, they aren’t.  Look at how you spend the majority your time and that will tell you what you are making important and who you are making feel important (or unimportant).  You are a person with feelings.  Everyone in the house is happier when the person in charge is.  Learning self-care is a valuable skill (and I do mean a skill to be honed) that needs to be learned by every person, but for people raising people, it is a must.
  2. Listen to your children.  Children are people and they want to be heard too.  You will be amazed at how the bullshit declines when they don’t feel like they have to be little assholes to be seen and heard.
  3. Learn balance.  Yeah, I don’t have it either but I work on it every single day.  For every task you do for your kids, do one for you, one for your spouse (if applicable), one for work, etc.  Learn to put everyone on your to do list (see #1 – yes you too).
  4. Remember to enjoy your children.  I know this may seem like a no-brainer but I see too many parents panicking over cooking/cleaning/did I remember their vitamins?/why-the-fuck-did-I-agree-to-bake-9-dozen-cookies-for-that-bitch-who-runs-the-bake-sale?/dammit he needed a purple shit for school today/I forgot to buy dog food and now I’ll have to feed the cat to the dog….the list goes on.  STOP.  Your children are growing up so quick that while you are freaking out, YOU ARE MISSING IT.
  5. Drink because you want to, not because you have to.  Cultivate an environment that is filled with laughter and fun.  If this sounds like I’m living in Oz then take a step back and see what needs to change so you don’t dread getting out of bed in the morning.  Is it work?  Quit.  Is it your ex?  Put up firm boundaries.  Are your kids acting like dicks?  Learn another form of discipline.  Too busy?  Learn to say “no”, and remember that just because your phone is ringing does not mean you have to answer it.

Go easy on yourself this year.  People spend too much time beating up themselves and others.  There is enough bullshit to go around and no one is perfect.  Much of parenting is survival.  This year, make it a point to thrive.  That doesn’t mean work out, eat better, get more sleep, etc.  Unless that’s actually what you want.  Seek happiness, not perfection this year.

I “Merry Christmas” The Shit Out Of You!

Happy Holidays Edited

I “Merry Christmas” the shit out of all of you.  Not because I don’t care what your holiday of origin/choice is; I really do.  It’s just because it’s how I was raised.  I also love Easter, not the “Jesus rose from the dead” bunny, because that’s just weird.  I like Christmas trees, not “happy birthday, Jesus plants”.  I just want you to enjoy your holiday and not get mad because I don’t know what you celebrate (there’s only so much space in my head for information, guys).

If you’ve noticed, political correctness is lost on me.  Why?  Because it wouldn’t occur to me to look down on someone based on their appearance, color, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and so forth, so remembering that people might think I’m being insensitive is new to me.  OK, let me rephrase, me being insensitive is not new, just how people interpret it is.  People are so touchy these days…..

I try to remember but the truth is….I just like people.  I think they are flawed and messed up and I get that (and I secretly enjoy it because it means I’m not alone).  I think people are too hard on themselves and each other.  I don’t expect people to know my affiliation any more than I am going to remember that you’re a circle-completing-cat-sacrificing-whatever-you-call-it.  I hear you, and I respect it, but truth is, I’m not going to remember.  I barely remembered to put on pants before leaving the house this morning.  Shit, I didn’t remember, now I have to go home for pants.

The important thing is, it’s the holidays.  Whatever holiday you are celebrating, this is the time to enjoy your family, not the time to put on your sassy pants.  More importantly, it is the time for your children to learn about your holiday traditions, religious or otherwise.  I used to think that being a kid on Christmas was the best thing ever, (this was quickly remedied by constantly getting socks and underwear for Christmas).  Now, I know that having kids on Christmas is way better.

My girls get so excited about things.  I wish I was that excited about ANYTHING.  Seeing their faces on Christmas morning (whenever we celebrate it), makes all the overtime and swing set assembly worth it.  Making my girls smile is so important to me.  It doesn’t matter what day we celebrate, as long as we are together, it can be whatever day we choose.  Don’t let anyone tell you that one day on the calendar is superior to another.  It’s not when you celebrate, but how.

My girls’ father just told me they are getting a BB gun and a 4-wheeler for Christmas from my ex-in-laws to play with on their new property.  It’s like they read the, “kids can hurt themselves with these, buy them for Christmas” catalog.  But really, it’s not my place and that’s the job of grandparents.  To buy them crap and feed them shit you, as a parent, wouldn’t.  With their dad and grandfather present, they are not going to get hurt….much, (I will not miss an opportunity to say “you’ll shoot your eye out”, though).  So, I let it go and let them have fun with family, who enrich their lives.  That’s what the holidays are about.  Tolerance, confidence, and togetherness.  Whatever that means for your family.

No holiday is perfect.  Remember that they are happy to spend time with you and your holiday counts.  Stop worrying what others think/post, and remember that you know what is best for your kids.  Your holiday of choice is going to be great.  Why?  Because you adore your children, you’ve worked hard to make it nice for them, and they love you unconditionally.  Have a wonderful holiday, enjoy your children, and when they head to the other’s parent’s holiday celebration and you are worried that it may be better….drink wine and remember that they love you equally.

Happy Thanksgiving – Be Grateful, Not Homicidal

Thanksgiving Edited

See that woman up there?  Do you remember her?  Yeah, me neither.  My mom gave it a good run but it always ended in her pretending to be that lady up there, and instead terrified the rest of us.  Ten bucks says that woman up there isn’t even that woman.  No one is that damn happy.  Happy holidays!

In all seriousness though, holidays are stressful.  Does anyone not cringe when they see the holiday decorations appear in stores or hear Christmas music in the mall?  How have we allowed this magical time of year to become such a stressful burden?

This year I can confidently say, with Thanksgiving 3 days away that my “rest of the year self” has finally taken hold of my “holiday self” and beaten it into submission.  I am not stressed and I am not panicked.  I do not spend the holidays (or any other time if I can help it) with people I don’t like or that make me feel bad about myself anymore (I used to feel obligated, but I found this passes with age).  As such, if I mess something up, they will forgive me and therefore, there is no need to worry.  The key here is who you choose to surround yourself with.  Learning to say “no” helps here.  Avoid twatwaffles.  If they show up, add wine.

Thanksgiving is not about having the perfect family because no one does; more than half the population is divorced folks.  It is not about being the perfect cook; thank goodness because my family is screwed there.  It’s not about having a perfectly decorated house; by the time I remember to decorate I don’t feel like dragging that shit out, just to put it away again two weeks later.

Thanksgiving is about being grateful that your kids love you unconditionally even though you are an idiot.  It is about being glad you have someone to fuck up (yes, I said “fuck” in a holiday post, that’s just how I roll), cooking dinner for in the first place.  It’s about having had a relationship to make these beautiful kids even if it failed (maybe it’ll teach you something for the next one).  Thanksgiving is awesome because it isn’t about buying crap for people out of obligation and running up debt.  It’s about hanging out with people you like and eating (which is always fun) and drinking (also one of my favorite things) and bullshitting (because they like you too and want to listen).

Thanksgiving is about being grateful, not about being perfect.  This Thanksgiving, focus on your family not on obligations or appearances.