Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mom Guilt and What Do I Do All Day?

August 2014

Dear kids,

I went out to lunch today with my dear friend. It's not the first time I've gone to lunch this summer while you've been stuck at home watching television for 10 hours in a row, but it was maybe my second. You gave me this look like, "what?" and I saw in your eyes that you wondered why on earth I thought it was a good idea to do something without you or not for you.

I'm sure that over the last several weeks you have wondered why I keep pestering you to pick up your stuff off the floor in the playroom, or return your dirty dishes to the kitchen (when they aren't supposed to be out of the kitchen in the first place), or get your chores done for the day.

I know for a fact that it has bugged you when I asked you to do something that wasn't "your job." I do appreciate you feeding lunch to your siblings or even making an easy dinner when I wasn't around. I don't think I've asked that much more of you than you are normally accustomed to.

I'll admit that I had a little guilt today while I indulged in myself for 46 minutes of uninterrupted "me" time with my friend while we discussed the joys of raising our children, messy houses and piles of laundry. The entire time I had a little guilt because I knew you were wondering why the heck I was going out to lunch with a friend while you were left at home.

Let me explain a little bit to you why I so selfishly allowed some time for myself today and why I refuse to feel guilty any longer.

I set my alarm today for 5:45 so I could wake one of you up for cheer practice. I worried that I wouldn't hear my alarm so at 3:20 I wasn't sleeping so I went out to the television room to watch an episode of The Waltons. I found someone asleep on the chair and put that child back to bed after changing their wet sheets and underwear.  I feel asleep on my second episode around 5am. I awoke at 5:30 to find my cheerleader child watching t.v. on my computer downstairs while eating breakfast.

I closed my eyes for 40 more minutes before going to make sure that the next kid was awake so I could take both of you to football/cheer practice. Before we left, I took the cover off the bean bag so I could throw it in the wash. I got another load out of the dryer and set aside to fold later.

I got home and took a shower after moving more laundry that did not belong to me. Then I went to a meeting for my job at church. On my way home, I conducted business on my phone for booster club.

When I finally got home, I moved more laundry then took it upstairs to sort and fold to be distributed back to bedrooms. On my way downstairs, I asked you to do your chores and you whined and complained at me even though I knew full well that you had been watching television all morning. I continued to my desk where I started cleaning up all the dirty dishes and soda cups (none of which were mine) so I could sit down and type up the notes from my meeting earlier that morning. I admit that I did blog for an hour and checked my Facebook.

Yesterday I took four of you to the Dr. for well visits/physicals so you could play sports next school year. That took two hours to get you cleared and all your shots. It was super fun for me reminding you to keep your voices down and stop dropping toys on the loud wooden floor. When the lady whipped her head around and gave me a dirty look, I just smiled. I held you while you cried before the nurse ever poked you with that needle.

On the days you actually got your chores "done" like clearing and wiping all the counters/tables, I cleaned out the gunk in the silverware drawer and wipe down the insides of the fridge. I washed fingerprints off the appliances and cupboards. I vacuumed rugs that didn't get shook when you swept and mopped the floor.

The day you brought your laundry down, I move loads of laundry for you. I put it in a pile in the dining room because it wasn't your assigned day and I didn't have time to sort through it all and put it back in your room like I would have if you had brought it down on your assigned day. I asked you to take care of it and you ignored my request for a few days.

Last month I drove you to football, basketball, cheer, softball and whatever else you needed a ride to. Several weekends, I sat on the hard bleachers for hours because I was the only ride available to you and your teammates to get to the tournament. I paid for gas, I bought drinks for your friends and I tried to make sure you knew I was glad to be there even though there was so much I needed to be doing at home.

I dragged you to do some service for a friend coming home from the hospital and you were so unhappy at me. I tried to ignore it and remind myself that you will be grateful for the opportunity to serve someday.

I forced you to go swimming with your younger cousins when I knew what you really wanted to do was sit in front of the television. They loved that you played with them and had fun even though we didn't stay long. They will always think of you as their cooler older cousins who spent time with them.

I have sometimes cleaned up after you and mostly ignored a messy house most days because of you. You have been well fed even if you had to make it yourself. I haven't had many opportunities to watch television on the big screen because I don't have time to just sit and relax, I have to sort/fold laundry while I watch my shows on the little television in my room while you are watching your shows on the big tv in the family room.

I have taken you to see movies I didn't want to watch, went swimming with you at Sunsplash when I'd rather stay home. I followed you around the library helping find the books YOU wanted when I just wanted to sit and read what I wanted. Don't even get me started on how many times I've dropped what I wanted to do and bought you a Polar Pop from Circle K nor the amount of money I have spent there.

Let's not forget that I have had to go to work in the blazing sun for those free Sunsplash passes,I buy you soda and popcorn every week at the movies and I had to use some of my extra money in the budget to buy a library card at the neighboring county just so I could go to a closer library to ensure we went more often.

My desk is a disaster because you are always sitting at it watching Netflix, I have had to go on "mini" dates with your dad just to find the time to get some one on one time with him, and I am sick of the clutter, un-organization and lack of scheduling that comes with summer time.

But I love you more than all that so I'm happy to take care of you and sometimes your friends. In fact, there isn't anything I'd rather be doing than spending time with you. In fact, after writing all this down, I have even less guilt than I did before so I think I will plan a river trip again with my friends...as soon as I make dinner, supervise the clean up and get everyone off to their activities tonight.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Cost of Things

Recently, the topic of sacrifice has been something crossing my mind nearly every single day. I see it in Facebook posts of those who want better jobs, want to make better life choices, or even those who want to lose weight.

To get what we want, there is a cost. Sometimes we have to give up something we like in order to have or do something we like more? I'll give you an example. Ben is a great employee at his company. He works hard and has the potential to move up the ladder if he wants but he keeps taking new jobs at work that aren't promotions, they are more like lateral moves. Why? Because he loves to coach football. There have been many times when he was up for a promotion (including a significant raise in salary) but chose not to take it because it would conflict with his ability to work from home and have the time needed to coach.

Some would call this a bad choice but for our family, but always the one we knew was right. We may never be rich and he may never have the prestige at work that so many long for, but he is able to do a job he enjoys while loving his job as football coach, which brings a different measure of prestige in itself.

What's my point? My point is that no matter what you want in life, it is going to take sacrifice. Mostly, it will cost you time and/or money.

Time - To lose weight, you can't expect a magic pill to do all the work for you, you will need to invest some time into exercising and strength training. Training for a race will take some time away from home to get you to the fitness level you want to compete at, and going to school is time spent in class and studying. Only you can decide if the time is worth sacrificing.

Money - If you want to lose weight, it may cost some money to join a gym or invest in a diet plan. If you want to run a triathalon, it may cost money for equipment and clothing. Maybe you want to gain some technical skills for your job, you may need to invest in a class or some training. Only you can decide if the money is worth sacrificing.

Most things take a little time AND money to accomplish. Only you can decide if the sacrifice is worth it.

For me, I have a tight budget caring for my large family so my investment of time is where I focus my efforts although I do pay for a gym membership because I love the variety of machines I can use. I generally have a very hard time paying for something I know I can get cheaper or free somewhere else. Someone once told me how lucky I was that it was so easy for me to be so "skinny." It was hard to take it as a compliment because this person obviously didn't know me very well. I work very hard to be the size I am and I love appreciate my body and what it allows me to do. I exercise fairly regularly and I don't watch television. I do a lot of coaching and volunteering and my family spends a TON of time outside together.

I make very detailed grocery lists for home cooked meals with lots of veggies, fruits, whole grains and lean meats. I rarely have chips, crackers, cookies or frozen quick meals available to my family. (Although we drink too much soda, I'll admit that). Some days I wish we had a sugary snack in the cupboard to satisfy my sweet tooth but yet that rarely comes true for me because I know I would eat an entire bag of candy corn if it were placed in front of me.

So, what is it you want? A better job? To run a marathon? A better relationship with your spouse? To lose some weight?

What do you want and what are you willing to sacrifice?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Challenger Cheer and my Growing Heart

My girls are back and we're off to a great season already! This year we have four returning girls and two new ones! We had to grow our coaching staff to provide some more one on one for our girls so we also have 5 varsity cheerleaders who coach with us. AND IT GETS BETTER! One of our girls last year turned 18 and is now my assistant coach! How lucky can we be? That makes 7 coaches and 6 girls, woot woot!!

Our squad has been working hard since the beginning of August learning our cheers and chants for the football games. We have been perfecting our jumps and our tumbling as well. This year we are with the Flames football team and we couldn't be more excited about that because Coach Marc loves us as much as Coach Larry does.

Photo Courtesy Kim Skinner www.kimskinnerphotography.com
I've mentioned before that my heart grows every time I'm with my girls. At a Varsity football game recently, one of my cheerleaders was sitting in the stands and saw her coach (who is a varsity cheerleader) and kept gesturing to her mom that she wanted to go down there and cheer with her. She absolutely LOVES being a cheerleader!

I feel so much love when I show up to practice because of all the hugs and attention I get from each of them. At the end of practice we ask each girl to tell us what they did well at or enjoyed about practice and at least every other practice one of them mentions that they just love their coaches and teammates. They also mention how proud they are of the new skills they have learned.

We have been invited to participate in the Regional Cheer Competition in Southern California again and are in need of sponsors to get us there. Last year there was about ten of us and it cost around $2500 for hotel, gas, food and fees for each girl and one parent as well as our coaches. This year there will be at least 18 of us so our cost will go up considerably.

One thing that is great about the South East Pop Warner league is that we never ask our parents to fundraise or pay for one thing. They have enough on their plates. We have had our shirts donated (THANK YOU COACH MARC) and even new uniforms purchased all free of charge. We want to keep it that way so we need your help. If you feel like you are able to donate to our cheer squad, please send a check to:

SouthEast Pop Warner
Attn: Challenger Cheer
PO Box 282
Queen Creek, AZ 85142

Your donation will allow my girls and their parents go on a quick trip to Southern California where they will show off their skills as cheerleaders, coaches and let's be honest - extraordinary human beings.