Talkin’ bout my girl.

There’s this chick that I know. I’ve known her since she was five years old and I was a freshman in college. She comes from a really fantastic family, with a sister who’s pretty freaking awesome too. They took me in as their own whenever I had any struggles while I was in college, and as I tried to figure out life as an adult. I spent every single Friday night with this family and this little girl who has turned into a woman.

 

When I met Isabelle, she was having a playdate with my sister. I thought she was cute and I have always been a damn good babysitter. I told my mom to give her mom my number in case they ever needed a sitter.

 

About a month later, Isabelle’s mom, Kelly, called me and asked if I could come over and watch the girls. I said sure.

 

I literally spent twelve hours babysitting at their house. Twelve hours where I learned how passionate, smart, and stubborn Isabelle was (pretty sure she told me to fuck off at one point during that day, and I was rather impressed). I’d babysat tons of kids, but she was different.

She was five years old and she had the wisdom of someone who had lived a full and beautiful life. She sat on the swing at the playground and begged me to push her, just one more time. We’d sit on the seesaw and she squealed with delight as she bounced up and down. She and her sister both demanded root beer at a local Mexican restaurant after every single park day. I spent countless nights tucking Isabelle into her bed while singing her to sleep. She loved to hear my voice and sometimes we sang together. She has always a had a passion for music, and if I screwed up a lyric? She would correct me immediately. When I would pick her up from school, she’d charge down the stairs and run up to me with a giant hug.

We’d go back to her home, a few blocks away, and we would all play karaoke or just dance for hours on end. She and I would sing along to the songs and twirl around the room with abandon.

 

Sometimes, she’d be pissed at me. And let me tell you right now, Isabelle is not someone you want to be pissed at you. She has given me the silent treatment, the crying treatment, and the extremely sarcastic and mean treatment.

Just like any another kid. Just like myself when I was her age. One time, when she was a tween-ager, she got mad at me about something. I ignored her anger and went about my day. Later on, after she had gone to sleep, I noticed her iPad was open. It was open to a google search engine, and the search was… ” How to Tie up your babysitter in a closet…”

I admired her creativity skills for that one.

She’s too damn smart for her own good.

There came a time when I was driving her mom’s car to the movies. Her sister was in the backseat with her, and we were jamming to 103.5, Chicago’s pop radio station. I was driving down Diversey and out of nowhere, a bus tried to kill us.

 

Ok, that’s my version of the event, but clearly, it’s not true. The bus was picking people up. The bus had a sign that said, “DO NOT CUT ME OFF MOTHER FUCKER”, but I did. And in the process, I took out one of the side mirrors on the car. I made both of the kids swear that they wouldn’t say anything to their parents until I did.

 

Well, somehow the night ended and I hadn’t had a chance to tell her parents what had happened because it was late and I needed to get home. Honestly, I think I forgot at that point.

 

The next morning her mom texted me something like this, “So, Izzy filled me in on what happened to the car…”

I made that kid pinkie swear to me that she wouldn’t tell her. She broke our trust pact.

 

HOW DARE SHE!?!?! 

I secretly think she enjoyed seeing me sweat.

 

At night she would make me sing Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. If I started to sing and didn’t include the, “muh muh muh muh”, she would make me stop and start over.

 

Isabelle is an amazing person. She’s an amazing friend. She’s an amazing daughter. She’s an amazing student. She’s an amazing employee.

 

She excels at any task you ask of her.

 

 

She has changed my life. The first time I met her, I knew I would never be the same. She has taught me patience. She has taught me unconditional love. She has taught me the art of a good sarcastic joke. She has taught me to throw my insecurities out the window and to just dance. She has taught me that beauty comes in every form. She has taught me the lyrics to every song in the top 40.

Isabelle graduated high school and was accepted to Elmhurst College in Illinois. When she got her acceptance letter, she called me. I cried like a baby. She was ecstatic.

Image-1*First day of college!*

 

IMG_0845*Oh hey girl, hey.*

I’ve never been more proud of anyone in my life.

 

You see, Isabelle has Down syndrome. But, that doesn’t matter.

AT ALL.

img099*Could she be any more beautiful?*

She’s an excellent student and works her ass off to get good grades. Her parents and sister have given her the support and love that she needed to spread her wings and fly.

IMG_0846*PROM BABY!*

And she did. She did it.

 

We facetimed the other night from her dorm, and she showed me her room. We talked about school, her roommate, my kids, and more. My heart was bursting with pride.

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That’s my girl.

 

That’s my girl that you may have treated differently because you thought she might have had a disability. That’s my girl that you thought wouldn’t accomplish anything. That’s my girl that you thought was different from you.

 

She is an incredible human being. She is what we all should strive to be.

IMG_8931*My babies love Izzy*

 

 

Strong. Beautiful. Determined. Generous. Kind. Sarcastic. Smart. Amazing.

 

 

 

October is Down Syndrome awareness month. If you’re reading this and you thought someone with Down Syndrome was different, weak, or unable to attend college and create a life of their own… you were wrong.

 

This girl is changing the world. One day at a time.

 

IMG_0847

My girl.

 

 

The Art of Kindness and Motherhood.

Last Sunday, I started writing a blog about an experience I had at Aldi. I had typed out some stuff about it, but I never finished it. I was kind of pissed at myself because this blog has become my main outlet for creativity, and creativity is a huge part of my life. Most days, I hardly have time to brush my teeth, let alone sit down and write a blog. I keep forcing myself to do this because it’s my self-care. Self-care is so hard when you’re a mother, and yet sometimes it is what keeps you going. It keeps you alive. Every few days this past week, I kept thinking that I had to sit down and finish the damn blog.

 

But, for some reason, I didn’t. I couldn’t really figure out why, until today.

 

Last Sunday I took Maeve, my middle child, to Aldi to buy some random shit. I love Aldi. I love Aldi because I love the fact that you can be looking at a mango on one side of the aisle, and on the other side of that aisle you can check out some pillows, sippy cups, and perhaps, a new garden hose. Aldi is the random friend you invite out to dinner because you want to spice up the evening. You never know what Aldi is going to bring to the table.

 

I digress.

 

Anyway, I was at Aldi, throwing crap in my cart while trying to persuade Maeve to stop chewing on it. She likes to chew on carts. I have no logical answer for this. I’m glad I vaccinate her. She has probably been exposed to more things while chewing on that hard metal than I have in my thirty-one years of life.

 

We headed to the checkout line. I noticed the woman in front of me had two carts full of food, along with her three children. I saw her counting items as she placed them on the counter to be scanned. I could tell she had a budget. I could tell she needed to make sure that she stayed in that budget. At the same time, she was also desperately trying to get her three kids to calm down so she could get the hell out of there. Her youngest threw a pen in my direction. I picked it up and handed it back to him. She thanked me. I said, “I have three kids of my own, and I think you are doing an amazing job right now.” Her hair was in a messy bun. She was wearing yoga pants that she probably slept in. I could see she was sweating. She was worn out and exhausted. I said one kind sentence to her, and suddenly the color came back to her cheeks.

It doesn’t take much to turn someone’s day around.

 

I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I couldn’t figure it out at first, but then I realized a few hours later, I am her. I am the mom with the three screaming kids. I am the mom who has one pair of yoga pants that I sleep and shop in. I am the mom who is just trying to get through the day without crying. I am the mom who thinks all stores should blast air conditioning all day every day because shopping with my kids makes me sweat like I’m running the Chicago marathon.

 

I felt lucky that morning. I only had one kid with me. I normally have all three, and sometimes I also have the damn dog.

 

There have been so many times in the checkout aisle, where I pull my sunglasses down off my head and over my eyes so that no one can tell that I’m about to cry. I have spent hours in the grocery store trying to plan meals, trying to make sure my children get enough vegetables, trying to make sure I’m picking out the wine that’s on sale… it ain’t easy.

When I’m in the moment, I feel awful. I feel fat. I feel horrible. I feel like I’m a failure. I’m not the mom in the wedge sandals, blow out, and pink lipstick checking out at Whole Foods. I’m the mom who looks like she’s near death at Kroger, pulling coupons out of my ass and trying to bag my own groceries at Aldi while my children try to kill each other.

I still couldn’t stop thinking about the Wonder Woman mom that I saw at Aldi. I spent this entire past week wondering how she was. I hope that the small encouragement I gave to her helped pull her through the week. I’m not sharing this because I think I’m this amazing person who changed someone’s life by saying one sentence to her…I just had to share it with her. I saw so much of myself in her, I wished in that moment, that someone would say that to me.

 

Fast forward to today.

 

I decided to take my seven month old and my two year old to Aldi on a Sunday at two pm. Just so you know, that’s the absolute WORST time to go to Aldi. I speak from experience. I have no idea why we still went, but we did. I’m sure everyone in the store heard me scream at Maeve twenty different times. I’m sure everyone also heard my tell my seven month old to stop trying to escape the Ergo I was wearing her in.

 

We walked up to the checkout aisle.

 

Once again, there was a mom in front of me. A mom with one kid. I hadn’t even put one item on the counter yet, and she stopped what she was doing, turned around, looked at me and said, “You are a rockstar. Look at you! Wearing one baby and helping the other. You are doing an amazing job. I am in awe.”

 

I almost started sobbing. I was so unbelievably grateful for her kind words. It took me about a minute to realize that what happened last Sunday was now happening to me.

It takes such great courage and strength to be a mother. It also takes great kindness to lift up others, especially mothers. Everything happens for a reason. I’ve always believed in that, but this experience has really made me smile.

 

There are so many mommy wars, right? Everyone has an opinion, and you’re a horrible mom if your opinion isn’t the same as the next. It’s so rare that we raise each other up in such a way that changes our view of our own self worth.

 

This was a stressful week. A lot of shit went down, but all I can remember is the joy I felt telling a mother that she was a mother f*cking rockstar, and having someone else say the same thing to me.

 

This motherhood thing is tricky. Moments like this make it so very clear and wonderful.

 

Raise each other up mamas. Raise each other up.

 

 

Identity.

I remember turning twenty-five years old and calling my grandmother, GG. I was sitting in our two bedroom condo in Chicago, as I watched the red line go past several times. I was engaged to my boyfriend of seven years, but I still felt like a child. I had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do with my life. I loved performing, I loved theater, and I was working on my masters in education. Even with all of that, something just didn’t feel right. I called her as I had done so many times before in my life and I said, “GG, I’m having a quarter life crisis. When I was a kid, I thought that by twenty-five I would have my life figured out. Did you feel that way too?” I can’t remember her exact words, but she said something along the lines of that everyday, every single day, we are all trying to figure our lives out. I’m pretty sure shortly after that she told me a dirty joke, and I went on to have an absolutely fabulous twenty-fifth birthday. I didn’t know that that would be the last birthday phone call I would ever receive from her.

A few months later, while I was still planning my wedding, my beloved, amazing, wonderful GG died. She was surrounded by her children and grandchildren, all holding hands, singing her favorite songs, guiding her into my Grandpas arms in heaven. It was, without a doubt, one of the most profound moments of my life. I had spent hours and hours talking to her on the phone about life, her life, and how she became the incredible woman that she was. But I no longer had her on the other end of the line. I felt lost without her. Utterly lost.

I should have buckled up, because my life was about to turn into a HUGE rollercoaster. Four months after she was gone, I got married. Three months after that, I was pregnant with our first child. Five months after that we packed up our entire lives into boxes, left our beloved city of Chicago, and moved to Michigan. It was a complete whirlwind.

 

I still had no idea who I was.

I kind of felt like I was standing in the ocean as a big wave was coming towards me. As it got closer and closer, I gave into the wave and floated with the water, riding high until I crashed into the sand.

I crashed into the sand on May 23, 2013, when my daughter, Fiona, was born. The second I saw her I knew exactly who I was. I was her mother. This was what I had waited for. Just like the ocean pulling back from the shore, revealing the wet sand and shells it left behind, I felt like I had left behind my youth and my desire to have it all figured out. I was a mother. I had given up my body as my own to grow this tiny human inside of me for nine months. It didn’t stop once she was outside of my womb. My breasts, which had previously enjoyed low cut shirts and push up bras, became her source of nutrition. It wasn’t easy. I cried. I screamed. I dealt with postpartum depression and anxiety, but I knew who I was. I was a mother who would sacrifice anything to be the best mom I could be for this tiny creature.

This was the outline of my life, which repeated itself over and over for five years. I was a mother. I was a strong mother. I was a mother fucking woman, my body was amazing, I was a warrior. I was breastfeeding ’round the clock. I celebrated national breastfeeding week, which always fell right around my birthday. I wore my babies, because it was easier to breastfeed them this way. I did every single thing that I possibly could to ensure that I was doing what I thought was best for my children.

Somewhere in that mix, I lost myself without realizing it. I became a selfless woman for these kids. If the kids couldn’t sleep at night? No way was I going to let them cry! I was their mother. I would hold them, cherish them, love them. No one slept, but I figured it was ok, because I was giving it my all.

Sure, I hadn’t showered in ten days, but damnit! I was becoming the best version of myself for these kids!

 

Fast forward to a month ago. Lucie (my third baby), at six months, decided to wean herself from breastfeeding. I breastfed Fiona until she was almost two. I breastfed Maeve for nine months, when she self weaned, but I blamed it on my unexpected pregnancy with Lucie.

 

I was devastated. It had been a hard summer. I broke my shoulder and partially tore my rotator cuff. I wasn’t able to wear her as much as I wanted and we did a lot of traveling. Lucille just decided she wanted to do her own thing. She wanted bottles, and she wanted them now. I could have pumped, but that would have taken time away from my other kids. It all felt really complicated to me. I would post stuff on Facebook about how “fed is best” and all that shit, but deep down, I felt like a failure. My identity as this breastfeeding superhero mother was gone. My child no longer wanted my milk. I thought maybe I wasn’t making enough, maybe my body had failed her.

All of a sudden I had no idea who I was again.

 

I’m part of a bunch of breastfeeding groups on Facebook. I have friends that are lactation consultants. I have a lot of friends who are still breastfeeding.

I absolutely loved breastfeeding all three of my children, and I spoke over and over again about how much easier it became with each kid.

I no longer have that.

 

So, who the hell am I?

 

I’m still a mother, and yet I feel like less of a mother.

 

I think I feel this way because of every single message that has been sent to me over the past five years about how breast is best. Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt! Breastfeeding past one year is amazing! Your kid will be smarter if you breastfeed longer! You can pump! Don’t give up!

 

Ok yeah, but what if your kid is like, “Nah, I want to hold my bottle of formula and go on my merry way.”

 

She’s a happy baby. She’s fed. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s thriving.

 

So, why do I still feel so awful? I had been thrown into motherhood so fast, and so unexpectedly. I held onto my identity as a dairy queen mother, breastfeeding everyone in this household as infants, and I’m having a very hard time accepting myself after this.

 

I’m a logical person. I know formula is a fucking BLESSING. I am also very lucky that my mother-in-law, who’s a nurse, is able to provide us with as much formula as we need. She has made this whole transition a hell of a lot easier, without worrying about the cost of formula.

I have read about moms making their own formula. Should I be doing that? When would I do that? How could I fit that in?

 

Right now, I’m trying to figure out who I am as a woman who has shared her body with three other human beings for the past five years. I have given birth three times. I have breastfed three babies. I have gone to the darkest depths of postpartum depression and anxiety. I have wanted to die, because I have felt less than adequate for these kids. I survived that storm, but was unprepared for the aftermath that hit me like a ton of bricks.

 

I wish I could call my GG. I know she’d have something incredibly wise and funny to tell me. I think about her often as a mother. She was not only a mother to the children she birthed, but she was a foster parent to countless children and adopted two of them. I constantly think of what she taught me growing up. I think about the values I learned from her about family, love, and a good bottle of champagne.

 

This is a new chapter in my life. I have forgotten what it feels like to be in my body. My body is my own again. I have no idea how to process that, but someday I will.

 

And it will be great. I will be a better mother, because I can face this body. I will love and respect this body for what it has given me and what it has given my children.

 

I’ll always be searching for my identity, but aren’t we all?

 

If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it.

It’s hot in here, but I’m definitely not taking off all of my clothes. (Sorry, Nelly.)

Yo. YO. YOOOO.

What the FUCK is going on with the world? It’s September 22, 2017. It’s the first day of fall, my absolute favorite season. Growing up in New England, I spent a lot of time walking around town while viewing all of the beautiful foliage. People travel from all over the world to see the leaves fall from the trees of Litchfield, Connecticut. If you aren’t familiar with Connecticut, sit down and watch an episode of Gilmore Girls. (But lets be real, you can’t watch just ONE episode of Gilmore Girls.  You have to watch the entire series, and then you have to watch the Netflix special that came out last year.)

I am a basic bitch. I like the leaves. I like wearing Uggs. I like thick wool sweaters from England. I like leggings. I like layers. I LOVE PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES. IMG_0297* GIVE ME THE PUMPKIN SPICE*

But, I can’t enjoy any of those things right now. Why?

 

BECAUSE, I’M SWEATING LIKE IT’S THE FOURTH OF JULY AND I’M RIDING A FIREWORK STRAIGHT INTO THE SUN.

My children turn into monsters in the heat. They’re thirsty. They’re hungry. They’re hot. They need me to hold them all at the same time. They just CAN’T walk anymore because their feet hurt. They need ice cream. They need popsicles. They need a ton of useless shit, but all I want is a cool breeze, a fuzzy blanket, and a pumpkin spice chai tea latte.

I’ve been doing some thinking, and I think the only way to get over the fact that it’s EIGHTY-NINE EFFING DEGREES IN MICHIGAN RIGHT NOW is to call up Mr. Trump.

Yes, I am going to call that asshole. I need someone to blame for my extreme uncomfortableness while I slowly sweat away into a puddle of nothing.

I would like to say, “Hey, dick head! IS GLOBAL WARMING REAL NOW? What do you think? Actually, you’re probably in luck. Because, if it’s nice and HOT outside all year round, you can start getting an ACTUAL tan instead of that orange spray tan shit that you seem to enjoy so much. Also-MOVE ASIDE. MOVE. ASIDE. Al Gore is on his way back to the White House with a little film for you to watch, An Inconvenient Truth. I’m pretty sure there’s also An Inconvenient Truth: 2. 

All I’m saying is, I want to put away my summer clothes. I want to put away all of my kids’ summer clothes. I’ve tried to like six different times. I hate having shorts and cozy fall leggings next to each other in the drawers. It gives me anxiety. And, I’m sick of fucking sunscreen. It gets everywhere. Underneath your nails, on your eyeball, sometimes in your mouth. IMG_7539*It’s the simple things in life…apple cider and donuts from Yates Cider Mill*

I’m going to bitch and moan about this heat wave until it starts snowing. When it starts snowing, I’ll probably write a blog about how much I love sunshine and warmth. The grass is always greener, unless you’re dealing with a draught right now, which is a very real threat. For now, I’m going to sit here with my AC running at max, a very cold can of Diet Coke in my hand, and my middle finger up. Fuck off global warming! I want FOLIAGE AND COFFEE.

That’s all.

 

IMG_0482

How do I keep pants on my two-year-old? (and other questions…)

 

I’ve been a mom for almost five years now, and I still haven’t figured it all out. I doubt I ever will, but I wanted to share my own questions. I can’t be the only mom wondering about these issues…

 

  1. WHY THE HELL DOES MY TWO YEAR OLD RUN AROUND NAKED ALL DAY LONG? (That escalated quickly, but I’ve cleaned up pee off of my hardwood floors more often than I’d like to admit.)
  2. Why do my kids faces change when they’re about to have a tantrum? It’s like seeing that horrible scene in “Insidious”, when the devil is right behind that guy in the chair and you’re like, “OH NO! I NEVER SAW THIS COMING!”. Fiona does this thing where she bites her lip and gets all pouty and big eyed. I hate it. I know I’m going to fall for it, and she does too.
  3. Why do my kids throw every single roll of toilet paper in the house into the toilets? This isn’t the scenario where you clog the toilet, because you’re full of poop. This is throwing the entire roll into the toilet like it’s the final four during the NCAA championship and you have to make that shot. I tried to dry one of them out once. As you can imagine, it didn’t work. I’ve been reduced to using paper towels at times.
  4. Why do my children stare at me while I’m asleep? There is nothing more horrifying then rolling over in your bed, opening your eyes for a split second, and seeing another pair of eyes staring at you. My kids jump from bed to bed every night, so I should be used to this. IMG_0008* Hello, it’s me*
  5. Why do I bother cooking meals for these kids? They eat air. They survive on nothing. Unless it’s something sweet. I have to hide cookies and candy in our house, because the kids go nuts over it. A few months ago, Fiona walked into the living room with a cookie in her hand. I asked her if Maeve had given it to her from the pantry, because I had locked them up, but Maeve is a ninja, so you never know. Fiona replied with, “No, she found it in the garbage. Still tastes good.” What I took away from that convo was that I can cook fancy meals for dinner, but my kids will probably find something better in the garbage.
  6. What the hell is so hard about being in the car? YOU DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE. You can sit in your little car seat and watch a movie. Read a book. Color some shit. I don’t know. Just don’t be an asshole. Maeve cried for seven hours straight on one of our car rides to visit with family. SEVEN HOURS. Not cool Maeve, not cool.
  7. Why do my kids rub their boogers on me all the time? Every single time I wear Lucie in the Ergo, she digs her nose into my chest and gets rid of all of her snot on my boobs. It’s the grossest thing to happen to me aside from that one time I was pregnant and shit my pants. (I’m not quite ready to divulge that story yet.)
  8. Why do my children think it’s ok to scream all day long? They scream when they’re happy/excited/sad/scared/upset/angry/amused/joyful. It’s cute at first. Then it’s not cute at all. A few days ago I said, “IF YOU DON’T STOP SCREAMING MY BRAIN WILL EXPLODE.” They didn’t even bat a lash. They were probably thinking, “Oh, really? I’d love to see that.”
  9. Why are car seats so IMPOSSIBLE?! Who decided to share the instructions in some foreign language only 2%?of the people understand.. There are so many rules. I can’t keep up. I obviously want to keep my kid alive, but there’s so much stress to have the right car seat, with the right straps, with the right little cup holder for your toddler. I’d like to just buckle them in, hand them a book (haha, just kidding, I’ll hand them an iPad), and a snack and call it a day. Instead, I look back in my rear view mirror 1,000 times as I drive to the grocery store.
  10. This is incredibly common, but I still need to ask it. Why can’t I just use the restroom alone? Do my kids get some sort of joy watching me pee? Sometimes I have to run. No. That’s not accurate. Sometimes I SPRINT to the bathroom, getting there just in time to lock the door. By the time I’m sitting on the toilet, there are several tiny humans banging on the door asking for string cheese and Sesame Street. I’ve given away all my modesty and dignity. I’m going to do it to them one day. I look forward to that day, let

Frequent Flyers.

I like to think that I am a very confident, well prepared parent, when it comes to traveling with my children.

12247069_10101365326232567_9200985302409892997_n*waiting to board*

HA. HA. HA.

That’s not even slightly true. Traveling with three children is a disaster. Traveling with even one child can be a disaster. But, it’s always worth the long drive or the delayed flight. My husband and I have no family in Michigan. We moved here after living together in Chicago for almost a decade, where most of his family is. Most of my family is on the East Coast ( shout out to the constitution state)!, and we make a pretty good effort every year to visit both of these glorious destinations. We did our first family road trip when Fiona was only three months old. It went pretty well. That was the last time any kind of family travel has gone well for us. But, with all that said, I feel it’s my moral duty as a mother to share my *tips & tricks* for traveling with tiny, loud, little creatures.

 

  1. Don’t. Just don’t do it. If you can persuade people to travel to you instead, then convince away! Unless they have more kids than you. If they have more kids than you, you pack up that minivan, shut your mouth, and drive. Vroom, vroom.
  2. If you must travel, make sure you take plenty of yoga classes before hand. You need to know that you have mastered the art of meditation. I’m serious. You need that shit. You might need to reach your arms to lengths you never knew possible. What if you’re on a plane and your kid throws her favorite crayon three rows back from you and you’re in coach? YOU REACH THREE ROWS BACK AND PICK THAT SHIT UP. What if you’re in the car and your six month old throws her bottle at her sister, but is still screaming as if she’s been starved for most of her life? YOU CLIMB THROUGH THE CARSEATS, STRETCH THAT LEG OVER THE BABY, REACH OUT BOTH ARMS AND GRAB THAT BOTTLE. See? You need yoga.
  3. Don’t waste your time on packing. You can try to organize, you can make lists and cross each item off, but you will forget at least, AT LEAST, five or six crucial items. Just lower your standards right now, and somehow persuade your family to lower theirs as well. For example,” Oh no! I totally forgot to pack those pink socks that match your Elsa tutu. Is the world going to end now?” Your child will probably scream and cry that, yes, the world is surely going to end now. I’m at the point now where I just throw random shit in the 70,000 suitcases we have to bring everywhere, and just hope for the best. 10402843_10100807529217257_8336257470765009581_n*She thought she could just pack herself*
  4. If you are offered some sort of adult beverage on a plane ride, drink it. I don’t care if it’s 5 am. Just say yes, please, and thank you.
  5. The only exception to #4 is, if you have a child in your lap, don’t drink anything. Don’t eat anything. Don’t even put that stupid tray thing down in front of you, because whatever you put on it, it’s going to get kicked. We were on a flight to Disney World last year when my husband ordered a Bloody Mary. Maeve kicked that shit STRAIGHT up into the air. That was fun.
  6. If you have an iPad or tablet, fill it up with extremely useless apps for your kids. Don’t download some educational thing. They won’t want that. In fact, they may be SO PISSED OFF about this educational app that they might try to throw the iPad at their siblings, or even a poor unsuspecting stranger. (Sorry about that black eye dude! My kid doesn’t want to learn her ABC’s today!)
  7. When traveling by car, make sure you have noise cancelling headphones. Have you ever had three kids scream for twelve hours straight? I have.
  8. If you find yourself driving in complete silence, due to the fact that all of your children are FINALLY all asleep in the car, DO. NOT. STOP. DRIVING. You have to pee? TOO BAD. Your leg has a cramp? NO ONE CARES. If you stop that car, those kids will wake up and resume screaming. Pee in a Snapple bottle if you must, but don’t you dare suggest pulling into a rest stop.IMG_5264*You wake her, you take her.*
  9. Make sure you bring your dog on your road trips. Why? Because, everyone is going to fart in the car. Everyone. Even you, you dainty little princess who never passes gas. You need someone to blame the farts on. Blame it on the pup.14650166_10101712599893367_4454690081221321115_n*Who me? I didn’t fart.*
  10. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the flight. Sometimes, you learn more about yourself and your family during the journey. It’s ok if the drinks get spilled. It’s ok if you find French fries in your kids carseats three years after the actual trip. It’s ok if everyone spends the entire journey screaming at each other. It’ll all be worth it when you reach your destination. It always is.

13010676_10101509307692567_6306754719767367476_n12993500_10101510170378737_7065752049401675142_n*My sisters always know how to make us feel welcome*

Body Bliss.

I just finished packing up for our family vacation to California this year. It’s pretty chaotic trying to pack for three tiny humans and myself, but I thought we had everything we needed. Until, I paused for a second, like I always do, while packing my bathing suit.

I looked at it and I imagined how I would look on the beach in it. Would I look fat? Would my stretch marks show? Did I have a cover-up that I could wear on top of it? I don’t want anyone to see what my body has become. Whenever these thoughts come up, I cry. I cry a lot.

I cry because I have spent most of my life telling myself that my body is perfect the way it is. I cry because I never want my daughters to experience the self-hate that I have been drowning in since I was a kid. I cry because I don’t know how to change the narrative in my mind about the way I look.

Earlier this summer the girls and I spent a week at my in-laws. They have a beautiful, heated pool that my kids love. I didn’t pack a bathing suit for that trip. I had just had a baby. I was fat. I was ugly. I was lazy. I planned on sitting on the deck and watching them enjoy the water with their Grandma and Papa.

After a few days of watching them splash and giggle with glee, I convinced myself that I needed to be part of this. I needed them to have the memory of their mommy with her postpartum body, wearing a bathing suit and enjoying the water with them. I needed that memory for myself, as well.

IMG_2827*making memories*

It has never been easy to practice self-love. When I get dressed up to go out, I have to text my sister. I send her pictures of what I’m wearing from every angle. I need her to tell me how I look, because my own view of myself is so distorted. She is a beautiful and extremely self aware eighteen year old. I can’t trust myself, but I have always been able to trust her.

I am thirty-one years old and I can’t look at myself in the mirror and smile.

IMG_4120*I wanted liposuction when I took this picture*

That’s fucked up. That’s STUPID. I can’t answer this question, but I am constantly asking myself, “Why am I placing my self-value on how I look? That’s all I have to offer this world?”

 

When I was twelve there were a lot of changes happening in my world. I was about to become a sister for the first time. I was going through puberty. I was moving into a new house. Looking back now, I can see those events as really happy times, but in the moment I felt completely out of control. I noticed how other girls my age looked at their bodies.

“OH. MY. GOD. Look at my chin. I have a double chin. I’m so fat!”

“My thighs are so huge.”

“My arms jiggle, they’re so gross.”

“I have cellulite everywhere!”

 

Instead of dealing with the changes in my life, I decided to change my body.

I entered the word of Anorexia with complete abandon. I decided to be strong. Strong girls don’t need to eat. I read that if I ate certain foods, I could actually burn calories while chewing and digesting them. I found every single book I could get my hands on about eating disorders and treated them like my bible.

I turned peoples stories of recovery into my own damnation. It was easy to slip into the abyss of hunger. No one noticed.

At first.

The hate I had for myself grew and grew. I would wake up everyday tired. I would worry about how many calories were in the orange juice my mom gave me with my breakfast. I would do crunches until my stomach hurt.

My best friend’s mom knew something was wrong, and she decided to reach out to my parents. They confronted me. We all cried. I went to the pediatrician and found out my urine had high levels of ketones in it. My body was in starvation mode and was literally eating itself. I was scared. I realized this was serious and I could die. I started seeing a therapist and tried to pretend that I was ok.

Fast forward a few years. I sat in an emergency room with my mom and dad waiting for the doctor to come in and give me a referral to an outpatient treatment place for eating disorders. I had cuts on my arms. I was puking everyday. I drank ipecac syrup. I binged on bread, bacon, ice cream, cereal, and anything I could get my hands on. I wanted to be numb and pretty.

If you had looked at me, you might not have known how sick I was. I wasn’t rail thin. I was skinny, but not too skinny. You never would have known how much my heart raced, how I couldn’t sleep, how I would count every calorie over and over again. I started outpatient at the Institute of Living in Connecticut my second semester of my sophomore year of high school. We told people I had mono. It was unimaginable to tell them I was slowly killing myself with starvation and purging.

I wrote earlier about the shame associated with postpartum depression. This was shameful too. I couldn’t tell people the truth. I would pick at my nails and think over and over again, “Shame. Shame. Shame. Shame. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. Fat. Fat. Fat.”.

Treatment was ok. I followed the rules. I met with the nutritionist. I did the art projects. I started to feel myself coming out of the fog.

I also spent every single second looking at my peers who were also in treatment and compared my body to them over and over. After a few weeks, I was discharged and went back to high school. I continued seeing a therapist and nutritionist and I allowed my family to believe I was better.

 

I was not better.

 

This awful cycle happened again and again until I was half way through my first year of college. I spent a few weeks at my mom and stepdad’s house during my winter break. I was binging and puking any chance I got. I was also fed up with doing this shit. FED UP. I wanted to live my life.  I sat them down and told them I needed help again. They told me they were waiting for me to say something. They knew, but they wanted me to seek treatment for myself. So, I did.

This time was different. I was an adult. I had the world at my fingertips and I realized I was throwing my life away.

Eating disorders never go away. Just like an alcoholic, you can be sober, but you still have the disease. You can quiet the disease, but it’s always there like an annoying little parasite.

Every single time I see a mom in a bathing suit, I think to myself, “I wish I was that brave.” A few seconds later I also think to myself, “I wish I was that thin.”

 

I’ll never forget the moment when we found out our first baby was going to be a girl. I was prepared for a boy. I figured if we had a boy, I was less likely to fuck him up. I saw her beautiful little body on the ultrasound screen and felt such terror inside of myself.

I never wanted her to grow up hating herself the way I did.

I never wanted her to look at her adorable belly and call it fat.

I never wanted her to feel anything other than powerful, strong, capable, smart and beautiful.

IMG_2830*This picture was taken about a week after I gave birth to my first, and all I could think about was how fat I thought I looked*

I have to remind myself, almost daily, that this body that I’ve spent most of my life hating? This body has given birth to three human beings. This body has provided nutrition for those three babies. This body was meant for so much more than self-hate and self-doubt.

This body fucking rocks and I desperately want to wake up every day loving and respecting it. I have to be an example for my children. I refuse to watch them grow up denying themselves of so much joy, because they are so consumed with self-hate.

We have a rule in this house. We don’t use the F word.

Ever.

Well, if I’m being totally honest, I will spell it out for my husband on particularly hard days. It’s not easy, but it’s our rule. It’s important.

FAT has no place in this house.

I wanted to share all of this, because I wanted to be able to hold myself accountable. It’s easy to say how I want to change my internal dialogue without making any actual changes. I have to start a new chapter with this body of mine. I have to show my girls that we are all beautiful, regardless of what the scale says.

 

I’m going to wear my fucking bathing suit in California. I’m going to feel the ocean on my body. I’m going to laugh as the waves tickle my daughters legs. I’m going to teach them how to ride a boogie board. I’m going to help them build sand castles and take in the ocean breeze.

I’m going to do all of this in that damn bathing suit and I’m going to feel fucking beautiful for once in my life.

 

*Blissfully enjoying Lake Michigan*

 

It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worth any value ever is. I look forward to the moment where I finally realize and acknowledge my own beauty, as a mother and as a person.