Even perfect moms have guilt

I’ll be the first to admit, when it comes to being a parent, I really hit the jackpot. Jeff and I had great jobs, we’d been married just over a year and a half, we decided it was time to start planning to have a baby, the next month I was pregnant. Nine months later we had a perfectly healthy beautiful baby girl. I decided I wanted to stay at home with her, we made that work. She was about 18 months old, we decided maybe it was time for another, a month into trying and bam, we’re pregnant. Nine months later we have a perfectly healthy baby boy. One of each, party over. Healthy pregnancies, healthy babies… Now I have 2 beautiful children (that’s personal opinion, but a vast majority confirm this on a regular basis), they’re both very smart (that’s confirmed thanks to standardized testing), they’re well behaved (at least their teachers tell me so, they tend to test that at home), they’re kind and compassionate (they’ve won awards proving this), and they love the Lord. I really couldn’t ask for any more….

There are days I look at these 2 wonders God gave me, and think, I am the most perfect parent in the world. I’ve done an awesome job. I keep them healthy, I’ve raised them right… And, then I realize I really had very, very little to do with any of that perfection. It was only by the grace of God that I hit this kiddo jackpot. He knew he had to give me perfect kids or I would totally screw them up and they’d be terrible members of society.

I’m not trying to brag on my parenting here, I’m just making the point, that I am richly blessed and would have to totally wreck the train to get to a “bad” point with my kids. But, even with these “picture perfect” kids, I still have tons of mom guilt. I don’t read with them 20 minutes a day, we don’t do family devotionals every night, I loose my temper and scream (I know you’re all very surprised by that), my house is a disaster 90% of the time, I don’t fix 3 well balanced meals a day, I don’t ______. Fill in the blank, whatever it is, I am constantly second guessing myself and holding myself to a crazy ridiculous standard. Why do we do this to ourselves as parents? Can we just let ourselves off the hook and agree that by the grace of God we are doing the very best we can?

My most recent mom guilt struggle is playing favorites with my kids. I love both my kids with every ounce of my heart. I’d kill myself before choosing a favorite between the two. Granted there are days….. but, that’s a whole other story. But, I’ll admit, to the rest of the world, it would easy to assume that Lexi Kate was my favorite. She commands triple the amount of my time that Sam does. I spend thousands on her dance each year, we have weekends away, we do lots of mother/daughter stuff. Honestly, I just get LK. She truly is my clone. We look the same, but more than that our personalities are the same. She is more outspoken, and commands more of my attention. Not to mention, the pure logistics of the amount of time she requires getting her where she needs to go and supervising her activities. She always has the next bright idea, something to do, somewhere to go. She’s almost a full time job. This weekend we were away at a dance competition staying at a very nice hotel and I just felt terrible laying in bed thinking about what Sam wasn’t getting from me.

But, I wonder is this something I really need to feel guilty about? I am 99.975% sure that Sam doesn’t feel slighted. Sam doesn’t command my attention that often. He has no desire to go and do all the special things LK wants to do. I guarantee I could ask him to have a special day with me and he’d want to go to Target, buy a toy, get an iTunes card, come home and play with said toy all of 15 minutes, then he’d want to go to his room by himself and play Legos, watch videos and chill. Going and doing something all day long, much less all weekend where he had to focus on “us” would be torture for him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a lover and engaged in our family. He loves him some mommy snuggle time each morning. And, you just better be ready to be kissed on the lips, and tell him you love him 1000 times a day. But, he just doesn’t want much from you. He doesn’t need me to spend thousands on activities, because he’s happy just chilling at home. I’m constantly asking myself how can I parent Sam better, how can I love on him more. And, I come up empty. I don’t know what I’d do different. Maybe learn to play Minecraft with him…. But, I’m just not there. Otherwise, he just doesn’t need much.

This is a long rambling post, but the point is all mom’s feel guilty, no matter how good you seem to be doing. I constantly feel like a jack of all trades and master of none. I wish I could erase mom guilt from the world. No matter what a family looks like from the outside looking in, I guarantee they all have crap. You may not be able to see my crap, but trust me it piles up just like yours. You may sit at home and wish you could be like me, wish you had done it like I had, and had your kids turn out like mine. Don’t. Run your race. Pray for God to give  you grace for your journey. Your kids aren’t like mine, I’m not like you. We all just have to do the best we can and love on each other. Support each other, and realize we all feel like we are totally screwing up this momma gig.


10 Ways to Love Someone Dealing With a Grief they Don’t Understand


In memory of the day my world turned totally upside down, I thought I’d write a post of how to love someone dealing with a grief they don’t understand. First of all, we all experience grief very differently, and there is no one way to expect people to go through the stages of grief.

In case you don’t know me, here’s a little background of my story. At 7:00am on February 11, 2014 I called my grandmother to wish her a Happy 80th Birthday. During the call she told me that mom hadn’t called or stopped by that morning to wish her a happy birthday. Knowing my mom, I knew something really wasn’t right, but I tried to brush it off. At 7:30am my mom called to tell me she had gone to the ER because the cold she’d had for 3 weeks was keeping her from breathing. She of course tried to convince me that she was really fine, but they were going to admit her to drain some fluid off and get her back in no time. Of course she insisted I didn’t come home. Of course, I didn’t listen to her. My gut told me there was much more to this. I threw some clothes in a bag and headed out the door, and made it to Mayfield in record time. One thing led to another and mom was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and viral cardiomyopathy. I took one look at the scans they were doing, and I knew she was in big trouble. I should have insisted at that moment she be transferred to a heart intensive hospital. I didn’t, and they assured me with a lasix drip she’d be fine. Fast forward to 2:00am the morning of February 12, 2014. I was “resting” in mom’s room when I noticed she was seizing and coding. I pushed the nurse button and went into the hallway screaming for help. Nothing like hearing a code blue over the hospital speakers, and knowing it is for your mom and there is nothing you can do to save her. As they were shocking her back to life and doing CPR, I just stood at the end of the bed begging God to save her. Within 30 minutes, she was back, wide awake, alert and talking. She even got up and went to the bathroom. A miracle. I thought we were in the clear….. for 2 hours until it happened again. And, once again, they were able to bring her back to life. At this point, I was pretty sure I would lose my mom. It’s just a gut feeling you have. But, I couldn’t focus on that. I just focused on those moments I had with my mom. Around 7:00 in the morning, she coded for the 3rd time. Paddles, injections and 45 minutes of CPR couldn’t bring her heart back. The electrical signals from the brain were full force telling her heart to work, she was fighting to survive, but she just couldn’t. It was the very worst thing I have ever witnessed in my life.

I went months without sleeping. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see in vivid detail what happened in the hospital that night. To this day I can still tell you exactly what every nurse and doctor that came into the room the entire night was wearing. I can see blood shooting all over the place and hear the sounds of her ribs breaking as they did CPR. Months of therapy got me to a place of accepting I had PTSD- post traumatic stress disorder. I wasn’t really eating, but I gained over 60 pounds, and my body wasn’t functioning. I mentally couldn’t process relationships. I had several friendships fall apart and my marriage struggled. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get my shit together. And, if you know me, I’m a “I’ve got my shit very together kind of girl.” I was always the type of person who felt like you couldn’t control what happened to you, but you could control how you reacted to it. I’ve had several “crazy” life events, but I refused to let them make me crazy. And, honestly, I thought I could do that with my mom’s death. I wouldn’t be that crazy girl who lost her mom and fell apart. Except, I was. People asked me what they could do for me, how they could help, how they could love me, and I didn’t have a clue what to tell them. Now, that the fog is starting to settle, here’s a list of how I think you can love someone dealing with a grief they don’t understand.

1) Understand that it isn’t about YOU. This is especially hard for us “Southern Ladies” who like to “DO”. YOU need to bring the casserole, visit, send flowers, hug them and hold them. YOU want them to eat and be happy. They may need to lay in bed with a bowl of ice cream and wine. Don’t write them off if they just don’t feel like seeing anyone, hanging out, hugging, or being social. For me, all those things were things my mom taught me to love. And, doing them, even with people who loved me deeply, just hurt. So, I stayed home.

2) Accept the fact that they’re going to have some very unlovable moments. I did things and said things to the people that I love very most in this world that were very hurtful and painful. Not intentionally of course, but it was almost like the “misery loves company philosophy”…. Hurt people, hurt people. No way in my right mind would I have done and said some of the things I did, but I know they happened. I forgot special events of very special people. I could not spend Mother’s Day with my kids or my mother in law. I broke trust in some very important relationships. I had many, many very unlovable moments. I am thankful for some pretty strong family and friends who weathered the storm and loved me when I was unlovable.

3)Understand they can’t tell you what they need from you, because they don’t know. People kept asking me what I needed. I would say nothing because, honestly, I didn’t have a clue. If they had come in my house, they could have figured out some things pretty quickly, but I was in a daze. I didn’t know what I needed or wanted. Except, I both needed and wanted my momma back and I knew no one could do that for me.

4)Be there, even when they don’t seem to want you around. I told people not to come, and if they came, I am certain I acted like I didn’t want them there. But, I do know that as the numbness started to wear off, I was very lonely. I found myself wishing friends would come by or call, but I would never ask them to.

5)Let them check out for a minute- or a month- but always check in with them and be there when they’re ready to come back. This is very similar to some of the facts above. I know this is hard. But, again, it isn’t about you in this season of friendship. Your friend is grieving, let them write the play book. And, they’ll eventually need (and want) you again. Despite them being unlovable, and acting like they don’t want you to be around.

6)PTSD is very real, and very common for people who are grieving. I really didn’t understand this. I thought PTSD was something military people had, and I didn’t really understand what it was. But, I spent thousands of dollars at therapists and doctors, on running many different tests, and many different medications to realize that losing someone close to us, especially if we witness their death, triggers PTSD for many people experiencing grief.

7)If they’re on your mind, let them know. It’s probably because God knows they need to hear from a friend. Just shooting them a quick text, phone call, email, or dropping a card in the mail. Just, hey, you’re on my mind, you’re important to me, I’m thinking about you.

8)Let them know it’s okay for them not to have their crap together. Heck, maybe even scoop it up for them- but don’t tell them you did. This may not be as big a deal for some as it is for others. But, for us type A, OCD, control freak personalities— having our crap together is very important. And, when you’re in crisis you’re crap comes out your pants and goes all over the place. I had some friends that were fabulous at picking up the loose ends I left straggling all over the place. I had another friend that loved to remind me of all the things she fixed that I’d left hanging. Of course, in the nicest most southern girl way you’d expect to hear. “Hey, sweet girl, just wanted to let you know that you forgot to fix your kids lunch for the 7th day in a row. But, it’s no big deal. I’ve taken them a 5 course all organic meal to school each day and sat with them during their lunch period.” For the record, that isn’t a real scenario, but was about that petty. If something they would have normally taken care of, needs taken care of, just do it for them. And, no need to even mention it. There’ll come a point they realize someone else covered their ass, and they will be all the more grateful.

9)Understand that the death of a loved one probably isn’t the only relationship loss they’re grieving. Loved ones dying often changes multiple relationships. For example, in my situation, I was suddenly faced with a changing dynamic with my step-dad. He practically raised me, he and my mom were married when I was 2. Now, all of the sudden we had no “legal” bond. At first I told myself it was no big deal, things would be the same between us. He loved me, I loved him, all was good. But, things did change. He got all new friends, he even got a girlfriend. He totally changed as a person, starting a new life that he could feel comfortable in after losing his wife. So, I was grieving the loss of the identity of a person that was still living. It was weird, and it was hard. And, we don’t really know how to communicate those things. We realize this type of grieving and hurt sounds selfish and totally irrational, but we can’t really get over it either.

10)Accept the fact that we probably won’t ever be our normal old self again, and learn to love us as we are now. For me, it was a total culture change. What I had always thought was important became pretty irrelevant. We were finally “living the life”. After surviving the housing market crash with 2 incomes based on the housing industry, Jeff and I were finally “making it big time”. We had just come out of a year making the most money we’d ever made. And, pacing to make even more the year mom died. I had a plan in my head of what that was going to look like for a family. And, suddenly, I would have given every penny of it away. Actually, I did give a lot of it away, and completely wasted a good chunk. I forced myself to do “normal old self” things, and it made me miserable. What I expected out of life, out of people, and out of friendships really changed. I went from the 30 good friends model of life, to the 5 great friends. I just couldn’t emotionally keep up with tons of people anymore. There are lots of things I used to love to do, that I just can’t do anymore. I was always the “doer”/“giver” in the friendship, and I learned to be more of “taker” in a friendship. I don’t lean as heavily on people now, as I did last year. But, I still actually let people help me. And, I am less likely to volunteer to carry all of your load too. It’s okay. I’m not exactly the same person I was 2 years ago. I’m older, wiser, more grounded, and I certainly know what is important in life.

Losing people we love is hard. We know God is real, He is for us, He will walk along side us. But, it still sucks. Dreams and visions come crashing down in an instant. What we need most is those who are left around us to carry us through until we learn to walk again. And, if you happen to be a person in this stage of grief, please do a couple things for me: 1)Seek professional help. Trust me, you need it. 2)Surround yourself with a community that understands what you’re going through. I was blessed to have a support group of young women at church who recently lost a parent. And, had a couple really good girlfriends walking this road at the same time. I don’t wish this on anyone, but I know I wouldn’t have survived without those girls that knew what I was feeling. 3)Don’t turn away from everyone that loves you. It is so hard to let yourself be loved, but find a way to let at least a couple people in. We need it, and they want to give it.

Hello my queen, welcome to your castle….

How may I serve you today? First of all, let’s back up and tell you a little about me. I get up early, but I’m not particularly a jump out of bed and go morning person. Here’s how I need things to roll….. Alarm goes off at 5:00, I get up and stumble to Keurig, I start coffee, I let the dog out of her cage and take her outside, cold air jolts me awake, I come back in and doctor my coffee, I set down and drink my coffee, read my Bible Study, and start to become a human being. Interrupting this routine doesn’t usually go well for the perpetrator. If the routine is completed, I’m pretty good to go by 5:30-6:00. Whatever you need, I’m on it. Unless, I of course hit snooze 3 times and my routine has to be sped up.

Anyway, 3 mornings this week, as I am standing at the cabinet fixing coffee Grandma has rolled up in the kitchen wanting to know what we were fixing her for breakfast. I do not respond nicely. First morning’s response, “This ain’t the Ritz Carlton. If you want breakfast get to fixing it.” Which was met with, you’re standing right here, why can’t you just fix me breakfast while you’re fixing yours. Well, you see. I am not fixing me breakfast. I am fixing coffee. I will not be eating breakfast for another hour or so. I cannot dilute my coffee. It needs my body to be empty so it goes in full throttle.

The second morning, Jeff was in the kitchen. I didn’t even see her coming. And, out of no where I hear, “Are you fixing my breakfast.” Jeff responds, “Nope, but there’s your half loaf of bread to make toast.” Read the previous post about how much she eats to understand why he said there’s your half loaf. She looks at me, and I gave her, the don’t dare speak before I’ve had at least 10 sips…..

Today, we were asking for it. She ate all the bread yesterday, and I didn’t really have anything for her to fix for breakfast. Sure enough. We roll into the kitchen. Doing the coffee thing, she comes around the corner. “Jeff, what can I have for breakfast.” Daddy boy was on his game this morning. He was already making homemade biscuits. Only because we were out of bread, frozen biscuits, and canned biscuits.

After I come out of the shower, she says, “You’re so mean and hateful.” I hadn’t even said a word at this point. Granted, I probably didn’t speak to her while she was talking to me during coffee hour. I know I hollered at her when she walked in my bedroom this morning  as Jeff and Sam were getting dressed and I was getting ready to get in the shower. I conveniently forget those moments…. “What? Why am I mean?” You talk to me like I am a dog and tell me to fix my own food. You only let me have 2 pieces of bacon, and 2 biscuits. Well, technically based on your diet restrictions, I should let you have none. So, I’m 200% nicer than the doctor already…

In the afternoon, I come home before I pick the kids up from school. Partially, I need to unload my stuff. Mainly, because I want to make sure Gran hasn’t kicked the bucket and the kids walk in and find her. I have all kinds of messed up nightmares about that one. But, I digress…… I mean as soon as I walk in, she starts barking orders at me. Clean the kitchen, why is all that stuff on the kitchen table, what are you fixing for dinner, why did no one come to visit today, nobody even called me on the phone, hand me the phone and call Peggy’s number, something’s wrong with the dog, she’s been sad all day, I need more depends, I’ve been a mess today, get me some prunes, I haven’t been able to poop today. I straight up lie to her and tell her I have the runs too just so I can go to the bathroom and sit in peace and quiet until I run out and get the kids. The funny thing about her demanding I do laundry and clean the house, is that she leaves her lunch mess all over the freaking kitchen. It is baffling. If I sit a glass down for two seconds she is pouring it out and wiping the table it was sitting on. She leaves bowls of soup, plates, pots, whatever sitting out all over the place.

This afternoon, we came home from school, LK got dressed for dance, and I took Sam and his friend with us to dance. Quick side not funny story about that….. I don’t usually take Sam with me on Friday’s. But, since he had a friend, I didn’t want them staying home with Gran, and I hadn’t talked to Jeff to see when he’d be home. So, they went. At dance, there’s this little corner under the cafe bar where all the little boys always sit and play video games. I don’t know why they get under there, but they do. Dance was over, LK came out, I talked to a couple moms, and we walked out….. I totally forgot I had taken Sam and his friend to dance. They never go on Friday’s, so it didn’t even cross my mind again about him being there. Truly, out of sight, out of mind. Thankfully, it hit me before we got out of the parking lot. Whew! Can you imagine the other mom calling me later this evening asking when I was going to bring her son home. Because, for real, those boys would have sat in that corner until their iPads died. Which would have been after the studio closed. Hot mess….

Anyway, we all come home, and I delivered Sam’s friend to his mom before I forgot I had him again. LK runs up stairs to get ready for her friends’ talent show. I was wrapping flowers for her to take. No joke 17 times in 12 minutes she asked me when and what I was fixing her for dinner. Each time, I replied, I am going to fix something very soon, as soon as I get these flowers cleaned up out of the kitchen. As I am getting leftovers out of the fridge to fix us plates, I asked LK what she wanted first so she could be eating and finish getting ready. And, her comes Gran. “I told you, I’m hungry! Get in here and fix my dinner.” Yes ma’am. It’s your world, we’re just living in it. Happy to serve you. What is so freaking frustrating is you ask what she wants, and she always says, “I don’t know, just fix me something.” Or, “I’lll just have what you’re eating.” Nope, it’s leftover night. We all get something different. Pick your poison. Because, as soon as I fix my plate, you’re going to want that and I am going to be ticked.

I really wish I wasn’t getting so annoyed with her demands for service. But, I think it is the demands that are making me so angry. If you know me, you know, if you ask me nicely for something, chances are I am going to die trying to make it happen. But, the moment you tell me I have to do something, I lock up like a bird dog mid hunt. I will not move. I really wish I wasn’t like this, but just count it as one of my many faults, I don’t enjoy being Cinderella before she became Queen. And, there’s only room for one queen in this castle, and at the moment it doesn’t seem to be me.


Some days are Grandma days

I’ve found that I have started getting annoyed when Grandma asks me to do stuff for her. Maybe it’s because I’ve had a little more on my plate lately. In case you haven’t heard, I merged my real estate company with Benchmark Realty, LLC. In the long run, this will give me some more peace of mind. But, in the short term, there is a lot of stuff that just has to be taken care of. And, I’ve just been mentally over processing and making tons of checklists….

Anyway, yesterday was Grandma’s day. I didn’t go in to work. I just planned my day around taking care of some things for Grandma. Our first stop was a 9:00am cardiology appointment. For the most part, everything was perfect. It was her first, “improving” visit in months. They’re still curious as to why she can consume over 4000 calories in a day and not gain weight. She has been diagnosed as diabetic, but honestly with a few diet moderations, we’ve got those numbers more in line. She isn’t on insulin at this point. But, she eats a TON of food. For example, an average breakfast is 4 pieces of toast with butter and jelly, a bowl of cereal, and bacon/sausage/eggs. But, good news is her ticker is improving and we don’t have to go back to see her heart failure specialist or electrophysiologist for 6 months.

After those appointments it was lunch time. Remember I said Grandma likes to eat. Well, we’ve been avoiding processed foods, and especially fast food. When I told her I’d take her to Hardee’s to get a hamburger you would have thought I told her Ed McMahon and the Publisher’s Clearing house crew stopped by. She was ecstatic. This one stop alone probably bought me more “screw up” forgiveness points than anything I’ve done in the last 9 months.

After tickling her tummy, I took her to get her hair did. Let’s just say her hair is a hot mess! Since her last heart attack, something has gone bad wrong on her head. Between the hair cut and style, lip, brow, and chin wax, she was ready for the Mrs. America pageant. She kept telling everyone how pretty she looked. She thought she needed to go out dancing.

Well, instead of dancing let’s go to the podiatrist. It’s about foot work, but maybe not as much fun. This woman has some nasty feet. For the love, if Lexi Kate doesn’t take me for weekly pedicures when my feet start getting old and nasty, I will haunt her butt. Never mind a pedicure, just chop my feet off. I know I am going to have her feet, because my feet already aren’t awesome. But, I work hard to keep them from not scaring away the world, because I will be wearing flip flops at least 8 months out of the year.

By the time we finished this it was time to go home and get the kids. Grandma was pooped. I wasn’t in great shape myself. She really was much better behaved than normal.  think a lot of that was just needing to get out of the house. It has been so nasty lately, she hasn’t been able to get out. And, like my other 2 kids, she really prefers to be the only child. So, when she has me all to herself, she is much happier.

Grandma ate her dinner and went to bed. I went to work for the first time of the day. The one thing I am most grateful for about my career is the flexibility to work around my family’s needs.

I’m racking my brain for a funny story to share, but I don’t think we’ve had a good one lately. So sad, because I know that is the only reason the 3 of you read this blog. Lexi Kate starts her competition dance season next week. That adds a whole new level of excitement to our lives. Don’t expect a ton of blogging about Grandma the next few weeks, we’re just trying to keep the wheels on the ground around here.