If You Were A GOOD Mom, You Would Be Sad…

At the beginning of every summer I feel such a loss in my heart when the “summer schedule” begins because the kids spend every other week with their dad. As you all know, I thrive on schedules and I feel comfort in predictability, so the change is tough on me. That first week (or even two) when the kids are gone, I withdraw. Everything makes me sad and I crave to talk to them nonstop. At the beginning of this summer, I was driving alone down the road listening to my Broadway Show Tunes (as “ALWAYSSSSS” the kids say) and the song “Learn To Live Without” came on. Although it is written about divorce, I fell all to pieces. Here’s the song:

Sadly, the sentiments are the same for me in the summer… I have to learn to live without.

The funny part of it is that I don’t just miss the good stuff about the kids… I also miss the not-so-great stuff. Sure, I come home to an empty house without 5 gabillion plates and cups in the sink, but it doesn’t bring happiness to see the shiny silver at the bottom of the sink (I know?!?! I didn’t know it was shiny silver either!!!!). I miss the smell of Axe body spray in an attempt to cover up that someone REALLY needs a shower. I miss the piles of dirty clothes (even the inside-out Nike Elite socks that I have to reach my hands into to turn right side out). I miss walking up the stairs and feeling a little panic at the overwhelming smell of nail polish remover.

My first few weeks of summer are spent in mourning. I don’t know why I let the change affect me like I do, but it just happens. I have no control over it and all I can say is, “BLESS JOE’S SWEET HEART” for having to deal with me.

Then something changes.

I come home one day to an empty sink and rather than feel an emptiness, I smile. Not in a “I wish life was like this every single day!” kind of way, but in a “I can handle having no real worries for short periods at a time.”  My life goes from learning to live without them to hopping in the car on a Friday and heading out of town while knowing the kids are all taken care of.

Picture me riding down the road singing this song (bizarre video, but the song is amazing):

Last week, I received an email from a reader who is also in a blended family. Her letter said:

Hey lady!!! I have a good idea for a blog…. Hopefully I’m not the only one who feels this way. We have had all 5 kids for over a week together straight. Which we love every second of it! Then today when they all went to different homes, the feeling was such relief. Even though I miss them terribly it’s wonderful to sit down and eat without dealing with teenagers or take a walk, etc. Just wondered if that feeling was just me…. Am I alone with this?? Now I always miss them but….. It is a positive to having another house for your children to go to!

And she is right! There is a sense of relief when you come home to an empty, CLEAN house. There is peace in knowing that when you walk in the door from work you won’t be bombarded with questions – “Can we go to the mall?” “What time will dinner be ready?” “If I finish my homework, can I go fishing?” “Can we paint?” “I’m starving, can I have a bowl of cereal since dinner isn’t ready?” For me, I like that I don’t have to rush home from work, so I can go do things that make me happy. While the kids were gone last week, I went to dinner with my sister-in-law at my favorite restaurant, then went to the library and walked around looking at books until they closed. (I must be maturing if I am closing down a library instead of a bar!) It’s just nice to be able to do what you love without having to worry about the kids.

BUT THEN THE GUILT HITS.

My friend’s email hinted on this “Mother’s Guilt.” It is real. We have been trained (and our kids encourage this way of thinking) to think that we should be home and feel sad when our kids aren’t around. Joe and I went to the beach a couple of weeks ago without the kids and one of them said, “Why do you always go to the beach without us?” IT WAS OUR FIRST TRIP OF THE SUMMER WITHOUT THEM, but that one question made me feel guilty for going without them.

Let me say it loudly, YOU SHOULD NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR ENJOYING YOUR TIME WITHOUT THE KIDS WHEN THEY ARE WITH THEIR OTHER PARENT!!!! Being a mother is tough, so if you want to spend the entire Saturday in bed reading a book while your kids are at their dad’s house, then DO IT.  If you want to take a trip with your husband to New York, then DO IT.  I feel strongly that if you focus all of your energy on your children while they are with you, then you have earned the right to live your life to the fullest when they are not with you.

To stave off the guilt, I make sure to focus 100% on my kids when they are with me. When one of them speaks to me, I make sure to turn toward them and look them straight in the face. We wonder why kids always have their noses in their electronics… it’s because that’s what they see their parents doing! I also make sure to work extra hours when they are away so that I don’t have to work as much when they are with me. I understand mothers who feel guilt if they are always doing their own thing when the kids are gone, so then they have to work nonstop while the kids are with them. They don’t get to spend any quality time with their kids! That would make me feel horribly guilty too! If you do everything in your power so the kids know, wholeheartedly, that they are your priority, then you can feel free to enjoy a little quiet time away from them.

You don’t have to be sad to be a good mom. Don’t let that mother’s guilt fool you into thinking that way.

Plus, we all know that in another couple of days…. THINGS WILL BE RIGHT BACK TO NORMAL.

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My Mother’s Day Wish?

Mother’s Day is only a few days away and I can’t believe that I will be saying “Happy Mother’s Day” to my mother for the 39th time. I would do the math and tell you how old she is, but I have learned that certain things only anger her, so why light that match? (Mom, if you are reading this, you are just as young and beautiful as I remember you from my childhood!)

Speaking of my age… I am getting ready to have my 14th Mother’s Day as a mother myself.

Wait………… WHAT? My first baby is already 14 years old? Something just doesn’t add up there. Where are the little babies who relied on me for everything? We used to worry about diapers and formula and detergent allergies, but now we are worrying about high school and peer pressure and bad attitudes.

How is it that everyone in my life seems to be getting older (except me, of course)??? Every day on Facebook lately I have noticed that another one of my friends has turned 40 years old. FORTY!

I may be holding on (not so gracefully) to 39 with every ounce of my being, but lately I have noticed a few things that may be indicators that I really am older than I think I am…

I know more about beauty/anti-aging products than I would care to admit. My conversations with my friends used to be about milestones our babies had reached, but lately I have noticed we spend more time talking about glycolic acid, retinol, fereulic acid, vitamin C serum, and tretonoin. Instead of comparing dates like we did in our twenties, we are now comparing day creams, night creams, eye creams, and fillers. Most conversations begin with, “Your skin looks so good, what do you do?”

I can’t do everything I used to do. In our youth, most of us enjoyed spending entire days out on the beach greasing up with baby oil mixed with iodine, drinking bottomless beers, and smoking cigarettes. Now we know that every ray of sunshine becomes an age spot, beer belly is a real phenomenon, and smoking makes your skin wrinkle up like used wax paper (not to mention CANCER).

The recovery time after a fun night is brutal. It’s just not worth it. I have to recover for days and often feel worse for wear on day two after a big night, then I did the day following it. The bags under my eyes are tell-tale signs that I either had too much wine, stayed up too late or ate too many salty chips with my margarita at the mexican restaurant.

Sleep is a NECESSITY now. I used to enjoy taking naps just to get a little extra energy, but now, if I don’t get a full eight hours of sleep a night then I am pretty worthless the following day. I have to take a nap or I am no good to anyone. My brain is cloudy and I spend every waking second focused on when I can go back to bed. And that is to SLEEP, not to “nap” (wink, wink). I’m so tired of being tired.

WHY IS MY BODY TURNING ON ME???? What was once enjoyable would now wreak havoc on my body.

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This would make my rings tight and my eyes puffy for DAYS…

Life goes by too fast. Maybe I am older than I’d like to admit. I do not feel old enough to say that I have been doing anything for 23 years, but I have officially been driving that long. I feel like I was just in college a few years ago, but in actuality, I graduated from college 19 years ago. I often find it hard to believe I am married, let alone married for the second time. And my little babies, whose lives revolved around me, now choose to spend their time with friends or locked in their rooms.

Things sure do change in a hurry and admittedly all of the changes are not necessarily bad ones. I feel so much wiser than I was 15 years ago. I have learned so much by becoming a mom, living through a divorce, and being a single mom for so long. I’ve grown to value the importance of a well-planned schedule and I am not late for things like I used to be. I love others more than myself now too, which wasn’t always the case before having children. I am more passionate about life, my hobbies, and my marriage than I ever was before.

However, it would be ideal to have the wisdom I have now with the skin and energy I had at 30. Yep, I think that will be my Mother’s Day wish……….

Follow Valerie DeLoach on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LifeinaBlender2

I Love Being A Mom – Even in Winter Storm Pax

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No one is playing basketball today!

This has been one of the longest weeks that I can remember… and it’s not over.

Those close to me know that I am a very anxious person at times.  It’s not something I am plagued with full-time, but often situations that are out of my control are very difficult for me to handle.  This week’s weather left so many uncertainties that I was an absolute trainwreck.

My husband was in Greensboro for work and two of my kids had to get from their mom’s house to our house and the other two had to leave our house to go to their dad’s house.  Mind you, Greensboro is about an hour and a half away and both of our exes live about thirty minutes from our house.

Add in the potential for “debilitating,” “crippling,” and “devastating” weather (thankyouverymuch for that national news) in the south and it’s a recipe for a mom meltdown.  We are just not equipped for this kind of weather – physically or emotionally – so my anxiety has been in hyper-drive.

As a mother, one of the hardest things about my divorce has been letting go of the kids when they go to their dad’s house.  It’s not that I doubt him in any way, because I know they are well taken care of and that he makes good decisions.  My problem is I am not there to hold their hands.  I’m not there to clean scrapes or kiss bruises or wipe tears away.

Now that my kids are older, that fear is more related to safety issues beyond my control.  So this week, the potential weather had me in a frenzy with all of the “what ifs.”

What if I go in to work and the kids get out of school and I can’t get home to them?  What if Joe goes to Greensboro and can’t get home to us?  What if I need to go get two of our kids from their mom and I can’t drive in the snow?  What if they are pulled on the back of the four wheeler at their dad’s and hit a tree?  What if their step-mom gets stuck in traffic taking them out to their house and they are in danger and I can’t get to them?  What if the power goes out for days and I run out of fire wood and Joe is still not home?  What if the water stops working? What if… what if… what if…

If you have anxiety, then you know that all of that was running through my head AT THE SAME TIME last night while I was trying to fall asleep.  I think it was close to 2am before my brain finally gave me a rest and I fell asleep.

I woke up this morning still feeling anxious until I got a text from Joe that he had gotten up and driven back to Raleigh at 5:15am to avoid any bad weather.  He said he was going to pick up the two kids with their mom and would be home.  I instantly felt an overwhelming sense of relief. That was a major weight off my shoulders.  I had been an absolute basket-case worrying about Joe driving back in the bad weather just one day after out 9th month as husband and wife.

Thankfully, I brought my laptop home and had my calls forwarded, so I was able to work from home and didn’t have to worry about leaving my kids alone.  That is such a blessing on days like today because I was able to work all morning in my bathrobe and know my kids were safe and not alone.

I can’t explain the peace I felt in my heart when my husband and two kids came walking in the door this morning.  It’s that amazing feeling like a part of your heart that has been missing is back.  Slowly but surely I felt peace returning in my chaotic brain.  My children were picked up by their stemom and driven out to their dad’s house.  The snow had just started and I was a keyed up mess for the entire 30 minute trip until I got the text that they were home safely.  At that point, the snow was falling steadily and hard.  The news soon after started to show people deserting their cars on snow covered roads.

My entire family was where they were supposed to be and safe, so I did what any mom would do… I took a nap.  And it was such a good one. I slept hard and woke up to a beautiful snow falling out the windows by the sofa.  What did I do next?  I mixed a little drink and took a long hot shower… and then painted my toenails.  We cooked a nice dinner and ate together as a family (minus two).

Unless you are a mother, you cannot possibly understand the realm of emotions I have felt today – fear, hope, worry, love, relief, peace.  I have hugged all four of my kids a little harder today.  I have snuggled with my husband while watching the weather. I talked to my kids earlier at their dad’s house and was relieved to hear their voices (again).  I’m so thankful that they enjoy talking to me and telling me all about their day because I just can’t get enough of them.  I hung up with an “I love you so very much” and a smile… My cup has runneth over with love today as I have dealt with my fears and seen God take over and keep everyone safe.  It was one of those days where if I could actually hear God speak, then I am pretty sure he said, “Val, chill out… I got this.”

And then just to ease my stress even more, I got the call from work that our office is closed tomorrow.   That means when I climb into bed with my handsome husband in a few minutes, I can sleep well knowing that even if the power goes out or if the ice storm really does cause damage, we are safe at home… together.

The house is quiet right now, but I am not lonely.  My husband may be asleep in his recliner and two of our kids may be snoozing away already upstairs, but my heart is happy just because being a mom has to be the scariest but most rewarding job I have ever had in my life.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Get Off Your Phone and PUT A SHIRT ON!

I know I have written about it before, but teenage boys are such an interesting breed of crazy.  I remember feeling a little fearful when the ultrasound revealed that we were having a boy.  I remember thinking, “I don’t know what to do with a boy!”

He has been ALL BOY from the beginning...

He has been ALL BOY from the beginning…

And admittedly, everyday, I still think that.  Boys are such different creatures than girls.   At least I understand the feelings and thoughts my daughter has, but I don’t get boys at all.

My sweet boy at 13

My sweet boy at 13

And I love my son. So much.  Even though he smells like a weird mix of fish and grass and dirt most of the summer.  I love him.  Even though he won’t talk to me about anything I am interested in but insists on talking to me about every little thing he can think of that I do NOT want to hear.  I love him.  Even though he is most of the time just a smaller version of his father.  I love him.

We were on vacation last week at the beach and where was I while the rest of the family went to the aquarium with my parents?

I was sitting in my car at the park while my son practiced basketball.

Here I sat...

Here I sat…

While he was at the AAU National Championships in Myrtle Beach a couple of weeks ago, Bobby Cremins, a well known retired college basketball coach, spoke to the boys and told them that if they were not working out 5-7 hours a day in the summer, then they weren’t truly committed to advancing to the next level.  So all I hear from my boy these days is,. “That’s fine that he doesn’t do drills… if he wants to stay on the same level.” or “She must not care about practicing because she just wants to stay on the same level.”  He is all about advancing to the next level and his desire to work out constantly is proof.  Every night at the beach from about 9-10pm he was on the street in front of the cottage doing ball handling drills.

He’s also all about shoes.  If I hear another thing about LBJ’s or KD’s or Kobe’s, I will scream.  I get texts from him with screen shots of the shoes he wants next.  He has even started trading shoes with friends if he likes their shoes better than his.  I try to block out his talking when he starts telling me about how many pairs of Lebron’s his different friends own.

Apparently he has "SHOE GAME"

Apparently he has “SHOE GAME” – two pairs of MANY

He says he plans to have a shoe room when he gets older.  Not a shoe closet, he said… but a shoe ROOM.  I wish I could have seen my face when he was telling me about that for the first time.   Incredulous is a good word.

I may need to call the plastic surgeon to take advantage of their botox special….. because I feel like I use that face pretty much every time he speaks.

He knows this look well... I may need to take up my plastic surgeon on their botox special this month!

He knows this look well…

Hey, at least I listen.  Most of the time.  It’s not like he listens to me!  I feel like life passes him by because he spends a majority of his time with earphones in listening to Spotify.   Last Tuesday night we were pulling out of Bojangles and I saw a hot air balloon, so I pointed to it and said, “Look at that hot air balloon!” And he plainly said, “It looks like a hot air balloon.”  As seems to be the norm lately, I looked at him with that same incredulous look… and he said, “What?”  Turns out he had not heard me and only saw me point.

Sometimes I wish I could tune him out like he tunes me out.  13 year old boys want to fill you in about the new Call of Duty Map Pack and all about Jay-Z and Beyonce being part of Illuminati.  They are either “starving to death” or they won’t eat saying, “I’m fine.”   I sometimes feel like a recording on repeat alternating between, “Put your phone down” and “Put your shirt on.”   He cannot understand why in the world it is important to me that he wears a shirt while we are sitting at the dinner table.   I’m often called into the basement while he is playing X-box so that he can show me some sort of “kill shot” or a video of his alter ego on the screen jumping off a building on a skateboard and landing into a crumbled pile of pain on the pavement below.

It seems that everything revolves around the shock value.  It’s the fart in the car or the “What the freak?” with a little too long of a pause on the beginning of freak…  He wants to keep me on my toes.  Yesterday he called me at work and started the conversation with, “Have I told you today how beautiful you are?”  Yeah, he wanted a friend to spend the night.

On my way into work this morning, I started talking to a lady in the parking garage elevator.  We chatted as we were walking to our offices and she said, “Have your kids started school yet?  My son started kindergarten yesterday.”  I could see the fear in her eyes and I remember that fear all too well.

It made me think about how far we have come since my sweet boy went to kindergarten.  He was constantly being moved and we had to go to parent/teacher conference after parent/teacher conference.  I can’t tell you how many times in elementary school I heard things like, “I hate to use the word ‘class clown,’ but….” or “He seems to work better by himself away from the rest of the class” or my personal favorite, “He can be sitting next to a friend, so I move him to sit next to someone I know is not one of his friends, and by the next day, they are best friends too…”

This same kid moved to Raleigh four years ago and decided to run for Vice President of his new school in fifth grade… and won.  He volunteered to be the manager of the basketball team in 6th grade (since you can’t play until 7th grade) and then made the team in 7th grade.  This same kid ended up making all A’s & B’s in the final quarter of 7th grade.  After years of worrying about his behavior and grades, he finally seems to have found his routine and it is working for him.

Summer of 2002 and Summer of 2013

Summer of 2002 and Summer of 2013

I am so proud of my boy… and even if I never understand why he tries daily to shock me and even if his underarm hair is now getting too plentiful for me to count, he is still that little boy who used to like to sleep in my tennis shoes and insisted on wearing belts (even with gym shorts) so he would have something to hang his light sabers on.

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And I cannot wait to see the man he becomes…