Being A Mom Is The Best Ever. Except It Kinda Sucks Sometimes.

As Featured On The Huffington Post:

I have an account at a bank that typically has $1.37 in it. I have had the account since high school and only keep it open because it’s in a different state and would take too much effort to close it.

I check the balance every once in awhile, just to make sure all is well.

So you can my surprise when I checked it this week, and there was $4,001.37 in it! Back in March, a $4,000 deposit was made. I immediately called my mom because she is the only person who even knows the account exists. And she’s the most generous person I know, so it wouldn’t have been beyond her to have done something crazy. Looking over her meticulous accounting records, though, she found no trace of the deposit.

Thus began our mother-daughter recon work.

I hoped the money was some sort of miracle sent to help me pay off bills from the most expensive summer of my life where everything in my house seemed to break.

My mom went down the rabbit hole of QuickBooks trying to find an accounting error. Surely, she had deposited a check in the wrong account?!

We both wondered aloud if my husband was living a double life. I’m kidding. 

We both like a good detective show, so we pretended to be super sleuths and hashed out the possibilities for over an hour…never once considering that the money may not actually be mine. I mean, the money was deposited in March. Who doesn’t notice they’re missing $4,000??

My mom discussed it with my dad, who, unlike us, does not play detective in his free time. He is a lawyer and actually pays attention to things such as “facts” and “reality”. And, like any good lawyer (and dad), he would prefer for me to stay out of prison for embezzlement, so he suggested I call the bank and ask for a copy of the deposited check.

Darn him and his quest for truth.

The bank emailed me the check, and much to my dismay, it was not my money after all. The check was written to a man sharing my husband’s name, but it was very obvious it was not for us. Unless, of course, he IS living a double life, and his secret alias is a trust fund kid from Indiana.

It turns out that the person who doesn’t notice $4,000 missing is a trust fund kid from Indiana. 

I told the bank of the error, the money was given to its rightful owner (I presume), and my bank account returned to its piddly $1.37.

Even though it turned out to be just a crazy story, the possibility of $4,000 appearing out of nowhere felt like the most incredible miracle in the midst of a very hard week.

Because, friends, this week kicked my butt.

Before becoming a parent, I had magical dreams of teaching my children beautiful virtues and strong moral character. I dreamed of the parent I hoped I’d be. Instead, I am pretty much drowning in the sea of good intentions with very little execution of those hopes. Which is equal parts necessary to surviving the dailyness of life and disheartening that it feels like I can barely do more than survive.

This week included my husband teaching my son why it is inappropriate to draw a giant penis on Moses at Sunday School. And I threw up a little in my mouth when another son wished that toilet paper turned his poop into Nutella. Beautiful virtues continue to allude us. 

During a potential hurricane, our roof started leaking. Impeccable timing.

My children fight…and fight…and fight. And just when I think they have nothing left to argue about, they fight again. And while they fight, they destroy the house at an alarming rate.

My never-sick kids can’t seem to stay well. It’s nothing major, thankfully, but it’s unusual for them.

I really try not to complain. I try to take it all in stride and focus on the good. There is so much good. I know all problems pass and life happens. I know my kids are growing up fast. But this week…it all felt like too much.

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photo cred

The way I handle stress is by cleaning. So when I was overcome with all of the frustrating emotions of the week (and month…and year…), I stayed up until 3:30 one morning to really clean my house. Which is really smart when you have four children to parent the next day. 

While I mopped my floor, I bawled my eyes out. Yes, life is hard. And right now, the circumstances of life are overwhelming me to the point of tears on a regular basis.

But those weren’t really the reasons I was so upset.

As everyone slept peacefully in their beds while I mopped in the middle of the night, the pain of how unnoticed I am came pouring out.

Being a mom is awesome. And fun. I adore my kids and think they’re the greatest ever. I love being a mom more than anything. Except that sometimes it kinda sucks, you know?!

At any given moment, there are a million things swirling around in my head…

The physical needs: appointments, sports schedules, meal plans, laundry needs, school work…

The emotional needs: am I spending enough time with each child, who needs what from me, why does that child seem a little off today, will the whining ever stop…

The spiritual needs: am I passing down my faith, are my kids kind, do they have decent character…as evidenced by Moses’ penis, you can see we have some room for improvement. 

The job of a mom never ends. More often than not, I am okay with this. I know it’s what I signed up for. I mean, I didn’t really know, but I figured it out pretty quickly. A mother’s sacrifice is par for the course.

But there are some days that I just want someone to notice all I do and how hard I work.

Because I think the hardest part about being a mom is how no one really notices me. 
If I didn’t show up for a day or two, it would be very noticeable.
But when everyone’s laundry gets done and meals get made and they all get to their games on time, the approximately six million things I do in a day go unnoticed.

While intellectually I know my family appreciates me, it doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes, I’ll get a sweet thank you as a reminder that I am not as unnoticed as I feel. But every once in awhile…and by every once in awhile, I mean about once a week…I throw myself a little pity party for one. Because my house is a wreck, everyone complained about dinner again, and the laundry is overflowing…and while everyone is having champagne wishes and caviar dreams, the visual reminder of my six million unnoticed jobs overwhelms me. And I bawl my eyes out.

I don’t really have some catchy inspirational way to end this. I wish I did. It’s just I think a lot of us moms sit at home, thinking we are alone in this. Because, after a hard day, we all wake up the next morning, throw our hair up in messy bun, and pull ourselves together to face the world. We are all interacting with each other’s best self, and we convince ourselves that everyone else has it together and that no one else is struggling.

I may be struggling more than most as I am barely hanging on by the thread after a very long week, but I have yet to meet a mom who has it all together. Most every mom I know is a great mom. And every great mom struggles and cries and loses her crap once in awhile. Every great mom doubts herself and doesn’t quite know if anything she does is actually working. But we are all putting on our game face and hoping that our best is enough. (Spoiler alert: it is.) 

You aren’t alone. Next time you fall apart and have a nice long ugly cry, don’t believe the lie that you’re the only one having a hard day. Believe me, you are not alone.

Being a mom is the best ever. But it still sucks sometimes. For every single mom.

 

 

My Evolution of Fashion (AND a LuLaRoe Giveaway!!)

Fashion is not something that comes naturally to me.
I am not great with clothes. I’ve worn generally the same make-up since high school. And my hair is…long? That’s about the only adjective I have.

I don’t even know how I got a boyfriend in college, much less a husband, because I was not good at anything that guys tend to notice. My very cutest shirt back then was a Gap Favorite T. As in the very boring, basic cotton shirt. I had one in every color. I wore sweatpants in public, on the regular. The rest of my closet pretty much came from Goodwill. I wasn’t even broke; I just overvalued comfort, apparently. My sister may or may not have wondered aloud many times why I dressed so stupidly and suggested that possibly my horrifying fashion choices may be the reason I couldn’t get a date. So no one was more surprised than her that I eventually landed a boyfriend.

A boyfriend who happened to have a job in a little place called the National Football League. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The NFL is known for many things…wearing unfortunate clothes is not among them.

So when my boyfriend-turned-fiance invited me to a team event, to say I had no idea what to wear would be the understatement of the decade. I inherently knew my Gap Favorite T wasn’t exactly the look his teammates’ wives would be rocking.

Because I was still in college (and also because it’s my favorite store), I went to TJ Maxx and dropped some cash on the cutest outfit I could find. I knew I wasn’t a trophy wife, but at least I could be a participation ribbon.

When my man picked me up for the event, he noticeably gasped. The smile on his face told me that I had made a good decision. And I can only imagine his relief when I looked presentable, rather than what he had come to expect of me (which was a college student who looked as if I had just rolled out of bed). (Because I had just rolled out of bed, usually.) I remember thinking that it did not take much more effort to look cute than it did to wear sweatpants and a Goodwill shirt, yet I felt a so much better about myself.

Much to my sister’s delight, I prohibited myself from buying another basic cotton shirt for a full year. If I were going to buy clothing, it had to be something cute. That was my new rule. I wasn’t fashion forward, but I was no longer a tragedy either.

Fast forward, I got married. I had a couple of kids. My body changed. I was exhausted. Cute clothes felt like a waste of time when I was covered in spit-up and wiping booties. Yoga pants and t-shirts became my official mom uniform.

My horrifying college wardrobe set the fashion bar quite low. I never thought it could get worse. I was wrong. Motherhood had gotten the best of me. The only pieces of jewelry I owned were Christmas gifts from my husband’s sweet grandma who could never understand how I could leave the house without earrings on. And my clothes were…sad and boring.

As I was nursing my baby girl one afternoon, I turned on the TV. Oprah was featuring a group of Frumpy Moms who wanted to improve themselves.

(This obviously isn’t Oprah. But the message remains the same.)
(I sadly cannot find the actual episode.)

I believe it was Tim Gunn who offered easy tips to transform these moms from frumpy to fabulous.

The tips were truly so easy that I decided to transform myself. I followed his every rule, and for the first time since becoming a mom, I started to feel normal again.

I understood, once again, that it’s not that much harder to dress cute…but it makes you feel so much better. I reinstated my original fashion rule and did not buy a cotton shirt or comfy pants for an entire year.

Over the years, as I have added a couple more kids and have *somewhat* aged, I am finding, more than ever, the value in feeling good about myself. The great part about getting older is that I like myself on the inside more and more, and I don’t see any problem with reflecting that on the outside.

It feels good to feel good. And though it does not come naturally to me and I will never be so on trend, my fashion has definitely improved. I can now attend social functions without being terrified of my closet. I have cute jewelry to accessorize any outfit. Sweatpants are still enjoyed, just in the comfort of my own home. My make-up and hair…well, I am a still a work in progress.

I still don’t dress cute everyday. I am home with my four kids all day and constantly cleaning, so around the house, I dress comfy. But when I go out with friends or on a date with my husband, I like to leave my mom role behind and feel good about myself.

In the weeks to come, I plan to highlight some of my favorite places to shop…if you’re a frumpy mom looking for a boost, a fashionable chic who loves all things cute, or anywhere in between…I think you will find something new and fun!

One of the hottest growing companies right now is LuLaRoe. And when my friend Elizabeth offered for me to try LuLaRoe, I was all about it! So many of my friends are obsessed with LLR, and I couldn’t wait to see what the hype was about.

The thing that stood out to me most about these pieces is the versatility. The Cassie skirt and Classic T are comfortable AND stylish. My fashion goals, if you will. This outfit begs the question, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEEN ALL MY LIFE, CASSIE?” (Note: you must join Elizabeth’s FB group to see the clothing.)

Working moms, you will look fab at your job then transition easily to carpool lines and sporting events. No need for a quick change in the car!
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I will be honest. I was not hopeful about this skirt. I have some junk in my trunk, if you know what I mean, and I have a history of skirts not flattering me at all. I was VERY pleasantly surprised to learn that this skirt, in some magical way, fits well. LuLaRoe is known for fitting in a flattering way that other clothes just don’t.

Paired with a sassy pair of earrings, this outfit also transitions well to a night out with your girlfriends or a date night with your husband!
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I cannot say it enough: I am so impressed with how versatile LuLaRoe clothing is. As a person who still tends to overvalue comfort (at the risk of being a fashion emergency), discovering that LLR clothing allows you to be cute and comfortable is pretty much the best thing ever. I wish this clothing line was around when I was having babies…when nothing seemed to fit my ever-changing body very well.

The other thing that I appreciate about LuLaRoe is how drastically it has improved the mom uniform. These leggings that “feel like butter” paired with an Irma tunic are a much welcomed upgrade from my worn out yoga pants! And once again, the versatility is so great!
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This LuLaRoe combo is easy to wear around the house and looks put together when you need to run a quick errand or go to soccer practice.
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The Irma looks great with leggings and also pairs well with jeans for a great Fall look.
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Now that you know of the gloriousness that is LuLaRoe, how about a chance to win a free pair of leggings??!!!

It’s so easy! There are many ways to win!
Required:
Click over to and “Like” Elizabeth’s Facebook Page (5 entries)

Optional, for more chances to win: 
Post a comment, telling her your favorite LuLaRoe piece (5 entries)
Share this blog and tag three friends (10 entries)
Set up an online pop-up party with Elizabeth (20 entries)

I will draw one winner on Thursday, September 1.
Elizabeth will send the winner a free pair of LuLaRoe leggings!!

Shop her site today! You will be glad you did.

Photo credit: Rosa Puente

Featured jewelry:
Tradewinds Necklace
Nebula Earrings
Simplicity Hoops
Emebet Necklace
Water Drop Prism Earrings
Catalyst Earrings
Dreamer Necklace

 

 

You Are Fine. I Am Fine. We Are All Fine. Except We Aren’t Fine.

As seen on the Huffington Post:

The Love Your Spouse Challenge has been circling Facebook for weeks (months?) now. I laughed with my friend about how nobody has tagged me in this challenge yet. Which is funny because I love my husband AND I like him.

Even if, in his words, he’s “been tagged eight times but isn’t into that type of thing.”

Knowing me well, my friend said, “I am surprised you didn’t participate anyway because you love that sort of thing.”

She is right. And opposites do attract. I am totally into that type of thing and typically do not miss a single opportunity to brag about my husband. He’s hot. He’s funny. He’s kind. And after nearly twelve years of marriage, we still have a lot of fun together.

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Dancing with my man at a wedding earlier this year (photo cred)

But I didn’t post about this for seven days.
Not because I have anything against the challenge.
Quite the opposite: I enjoy hearing people’s histories and what makes each relationship unique and awesome. I love knowing why people fell in love. I believe in celebrating marriage. Even when it’s imperfect. 

The reason I didn’t post went much deeper than the challenge itself.

I don’t quite know how to explain it, but the emotional climate of our culture bothers me.
One of our deepest needs as humans is to be known. To be heard. To be understood.
The world is a hard, oftentimes lonely, and very messy place.
People are suffering. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.

But when asked how we are, “I’m fine,” is almost always the response.
You are fine. I am fine. We are all fine.
Except we aren’t fine. 

I understand this answer is an automatic response to a question mostly asked to be polite.

But it explains the reason I chose not to participate in the Love Your Spouse Challenge.
My marriage actually is fine.
But I know many (most?) marriages aren’t.
I want to be a person who knows people, who sees people.
And if someone’s marriage isn’t fine, I want to be a safe place for that to be said.
Which is why I intentionally try to limit the amount of bragging I do on social media.
I don’t want to be perceived as “so fine” that my friends are unwilling to admit when they’re not fine. Because I also want to be able to say when I’m not fine.

Whether or not you participated in the LYS Challenge is not the point…believe me, I’ve done more than my fair share of bragging on social media…I am, in no way, trying to make you feel bad about that. To some degree, the very nature of social media is to highlight the awesome parts of our days. No one is gonna stop in the middle of lecturing a child to snap a picture. No one is going to film a fight with their spouse and post it to Instagram. No one is going to screen shot a difficult texting conversation they just had.

And if they do actually post this sort of thing, we all kinda feel like we need to divert our eyes from the train wreck. You know it’s true. 

Social media is what it is. A highlight reel of our lives. With the occasional sarcastic and honest snippet.

My frustration is not with social media.
My frustration is with the inability to say, “I’m not fine.”

The ultimate cost of this is the alarming suicide rates in our country.
Most people thankfully don’t go that far, but still, we aren’t fine.
Diseases ravish people’s bodies. Addictions abound. Marriages sometimes end. Relationships get strained. Bills go unpaid. Kids are hard. Insecurities creep in. Cars break down. Houses fall apart. Depression and anxiety can be crippling. Expectations aren’t met. Job security is non-existent. Natural disasters hit without warning.

Life is good in so many ways. But life is hard.

And I don’t really understand why our culture’s goal seems to fake like it’s all okay.

It’s okay to not be okay.

Even in friendships where we are brave enough to say, “I’m not fine”, we still apologize for saying so. This is especially true when our hard things are mostly first world problems.

Something I’ve said many times that my same friend (mentioned at the start) reminded me: Just because your hard isn’t as hard as someone else’s doesn’t make it not hard for you.

To admit life is hard is not complaining.
To say things are overwhelming does not mean you’re ungrateful.
Asking advice about a tough situation doesn’t mean you can’t handle it.
Don’t apologize for realizing you can’t be it all/do it all/have it all.

It’s okay to not be okay. 

OK?

I think the place to start is to stop apologizing when you share the deep parts of your soul. If a friend can be trusted with your hard stuff, she doesn’t want you to feel bad about sharing it. If your marriage is hard or you don’t like your child at the moment or your boss is a jerk, don’t apologize for how it affects you.

Similarly, when asking someone how they are, genuinely care and listen for the answer. Better yet, listen for what isn’t being said. Not everyone is looking to bare their soul, but in a constantly communicating world that has very little quality communication, I have found that most people are willing to talk to someone who will listen.

Everyone wants to feel valued. Everyone wants to be heard and seen.
And I believe everyone wants a safe space to say, “You know what? I am not fine.”

Be the person who can listen. Be the person who sees. Be the first to admit, “I’m not fine, and here’s why.”

I guess I answered my own question. I am bothered that our culture is so disconnected (even though we feign connectedness) that we feel the need to pretend everything is just fine. Because we have made ourselves believe that no one really wants to hear otherwise.

But that’s untrue. People do want to hear otherwise. I know human nature. I know the friends with whom I am mostly deeply connected and the reasons why. I know that we are all longing for friendships where we can be our full selves. Where we don’t have to apologize for what brings us down. Where we can admit the hard. Where we can find love and comfort and hope and belonging. And…bringing it back to the Love Your Spouse Challenge…celebrate the awesome!

This is my challenge to you: call someone today that could use a good friend and a listening ear. Ask how she is really doing. And tell her how you are really doing.

The dysfunctional emotional climate of our culture won’t change in a day, but you surely can make someone’s day today.

 

You Are More Than A Human Trash Can

There I was. At the base of a waterfall, at the end of the most beautiful hike I’ve ever taken.

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We stopped at the gift shop to enjoy some delicious ice cream. Because grandparents always say yes.

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My kids gobbled up their ice cream at a super human pace (we may or may not have underestimated the hiking trail and brought exactly no water or snacks). One by one, as they finished, my kids all handed me their trash.

As they all ran off to play in the gorgeous wide-open space, I looked down and laughed.

I just never expected to be a human trashcan. You know?

Especially when an actual trashcan was right beside me.

A human trash can. Just add that to the list of thankless things I do.

Human cow.
Butt wiper.
Hair brusher.
Carrier of all the things.
Snack giver.
Back scratcher.
Clothes washer.
Grocery getter.
Activities coordinator.
Puke cleaner.
Bedtime sergeant.
Did you use soap? checker.
Song singer.
Covert spinach hider.
Water pusher.
Appointment maker.
Lunch packer.
Chauffeur of The Fight Club. (Obviously, my kids can’t discuss the fight club. That pesky first rule and all. But the back seat brawling tells all.)

Shall I go on?

You know exactly what I am talking about.

You do approximately six million small things everyday to love your family well.
And somehow all six million things go unnoticed.

And if you’re anything like me, it’s very hard feeling unseen and unappreciated.

Evidenced by the fact that I give every ounce of all I have to raising my four people, and yet somehow I can still cry myself to sleep at night replaying all the ways I have failed that day.

It makes absolutely no sense how I can do my very best yet never feel like my best is enough. And I know I am not alone in this.

But, as I sat at the base of the waterfall that day, watching my kids run wild, I was overcome with the assurance that being a human trash can matters. So to speak.

The six million thankless jobs matter.

Think about the Great Wall of China. It took over three billion bricks to complete the wall. No one individual brick is all that impressive, but the culmination of them is magnificent.

And that’s exactly what you are doing.

Each time you do yet another thankless task, you are building something spectacular. You are investing in a relationship that will echo for generations to come. The little daily parts of raising kids that feel so very daily are actually way more valuable than we think.

Being a human trash can matters. Because you are so much more than a human trash can.

On the surface, it seems like ill-mannered short people throwing their discarded goods your way. But look a little deeper. You are the only person with whom they have this level of comfort. You are safe. You are predictable. You are a place where they belong and are known.

There is no love like a mother’s love.

And to get to serve your family in six million little ways is sacred work.
It’s hard work.
It sucks oftentimes sometimes.
But it’s sacred. And it matters.

You don’t have to be thanked for what you’re doing to count.
Every minute of lost sleep. Every moment of cleaning up the bodily fluids that flow so freely. Every mopped floor. Every dinner cooked. Every small sacrifice is building love, confidence, security, and belonging into the heart and mind of your children.

Do not despise the things that no one sees, appreciates, or thanks you for.
Because your children do see. They cannot begin to comprehend what you do in a given day, but their hearts affirm that what you do is important.

Greatness happens one brick at a time. One small act of love at a time.

Mama, do not lose heart today. The endless list of what needs to be done and who needs what can be overwhelming. You’re not just completing a to-do list. You’re building something spectacular.

Brick by brick.

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Photo cred

 

An Anthology Proving That Summer Is Kicking My Butt

I love and adore my children to an almost disgusting degree. I am obsessed with them and think they’re the best four people ever made. I even like them. I don’t have to wipe poop anymore, so I am particularly fond of them at this moment.

But there are some things I need to talk to you about. Some things that I must speak out to the World Wide Web before my husband comes home and finds me rocking back and forth in the fetal position saying to no one and everyone, “Does anyone hear me? Is anyone listening? Can anyone hear the words that are coming out of my mouth?” Over and over and over.

Life has been a teensy bit stressful lately. If you couldn’t tell by my dramatics (see above). And there are two things I do to cope with stress: I write and I clean.

Because these bedrooms were spotless 12 hours ago…

…I just can’t with the cleaning right now.

So I must write. You’re welcome.

My breaking point came yesterday. I was peeing in front of the audience that is my offspring and said for the 4,579,846th time, “Please let me pee in peace. We can talk about Minecraft in literally 45 seconds.”

Peace. I go to the most bacteria infested, stinkiest, grossest part of my home to find peace. Peeing is the most peaceful part of my day. Well, theoretically. Realistically, it’s mostly me explaining (again) how girls don’t actually pee out of their butts to my curious son who lacks boundaries and a basic understanding of human anatomy.

It got me thinking about this glam life I am living. And what a weird paradox life is that there is nothing I would rather do than raise these savages my children, but there are so many parts of parenting that make my eyes roll so far back in my head that I am surprised they aren’t stuck that way. Yes, I have become my mother. 

There are many, many things that I understand about kids:
They’re sticky. Soap and water are stressful. 
Their standards of cleaning are low but are on par for their age.
Listening is a learned art that takes time (which some people never learn).
Obeying commands is really hard. Even at my age.
So I get it.

But I don’t get how they can go hours without speaking to me, but the moment I sit down on the toilet or pick up my phone THEY HAVE QUESTIONS! SO MANY QUESTIONS! AND IDEAS! AND PLANS! AND LET’S PLAN MY BIRTHDAY RIGHT NOW BECAUSE IT’S ONLY EIGHT MONTHS AWAY!

The same goes for bedtime. I actually am one of those annoying moms who loves tucking my kids in at night. I enjoy a bit of brief chatter, but I would also be perfectly fine if the deep philosophical discussions happened around 4 pm instead of the exact time when JoJo might be falling in love for the 17th time. Don’t children understand priorities?? 

Dear children, I love that you have so many questions. So many wonderings about life. How exactly does gravity work? Does someone die the moment someone is born? Why is the sky usually blue but sometimes it’s not? I know I homeschool you and answering these questions is sort of my job, but JoJo likes to date men who wear excruciatingly tight pants and until I make sense of that, please save your questions for the morning.

But I stay and listen because I’ve learned that my kids don’t want answers nearly as much as they want to be heard.

On my good days, I soak in their awesomeness.
On my not so good days, I think to myself, “Why. So. Many. Questions.”
But only say aloud, “Ask Dad.”

The tell tale sign that I’ve given up on parenting for the day is when my answer to everything is, “Ask Dad.” I simply have reached a point where my mind can no longer process endless requests and questions.

My children have a very good, involved dad. He knows a lot of things. He is compassionate and kind. And will approve a PG-13 movie 85% more often than I will.

So it is a bit confusing to me how he can be sitting on the couch with our children…I can be eight states away without cell phone service…and my kids will still find a way to ask me questions first.

This ability is so innate that they even do it in the middle of the night when they’re not fully awake. My husband sleeps closest to the door (which, side note, I figured out after like eight years of marriage that he does that as a protective thing…how cute is that?!). The distance to walk around our giant king size bed to me takes some added effort, and yet 100% of the time, every kid is willing to go the distance.

And the weird part about it is that the amount of compassion I have from 1 am – 6 am is zero. My child could literally have a missing appendage and I’d be like, “It’ll still be missing in the morning. Go back to bed and stop bleeding on my sheets!”

I do not parent well in the middle of the night, but my kids are pretty dedicated to regularly testing to see if this has changed.

 

In fact, I think they have formed a union dedicated to testing me. And according union by-laws, they’re required to see how far they can push me before I explode. They do this by:
– asking to play electronics every minute of every day
– having selective hearing
– deciding that hitting is the answer to all of life’s problems
– and if hitting doesn’t solve it, then surely name calling and screaming will do the trick

And when exactly no one in my family can get along and everyone ignores my instructions/corrections/etc, I explode.

Losing my crap on my children is the worst feeling in the world that generates the best possible outcome. Imagine the peace I would find in life (toilet peace, notwithstanding) if my children chose to listen and obey the first time I asked something. But, no, that is impossible for the ten and under crowd.

They must wait to listen until I lose my ever loving mind, when I make the most empty threats known to mankind, practically lose my voice because I am not typically a yeller, and if I am feeling particularly mad, bawl my eyes out.

There is nothing that straightens my children up faster than tears and rants and threats and Mom completely freaking out.

Hello, my name is Sarah. Welcome to my crazy.

The thing is, I don’t feel great after my freak out is over. I actually feel pretty crappy. I don’t understand how I am a grown woman who can hold my stuff together like 90% of the time, but should my hormones shift in any way, I unleash the fury on the sweetest, cutest, most innocent people in my life.

But then I emerge from my bedroom (because what good is a freak out if it doesn’t end in collapsing on your closet floor, wondering why life is so hard?!?), my house is clean and my kids are getting along and everyone wants to hug me. And I apologize and get over my guilt and mostly think that losing my crap was kinda worth it to have peace and a clean house for the next 23 minutes.

So basically what I am trying to tell you is that SUMMER IS KICKING MY BUTT.
The dog days of summer are upon us, and as much as I love the lazy days spent by the pool, the savages children are wearing me out.

It’s not like the start of school magically makes life easy and stress-free. But in between school, football practice, dance lessons, work, and a steady routine, the crazy somehow feels less crazy.

And I am kinda looking forward to less crazy. The school year is its own kind of crazy, of course. But the fuller days and cooler weather means more time outside (at least where I live), less fighting, more things to do, less boredom.

And if I’m really lucky, this might just be the year I get to pee alone. Don’t be jealous.

 

Tell me: are you still loving summer?? Or are you ready for school??

White People, Our Silence Is Very Loud

You may have noticed (because I shouted it from the rooftops) that The Huffington Post published my recent blog, detailing my perspective on the racial climate of our culture.

I wrote it because I felt compelled to be a voice of support to the black community.
I wanted to my black friends to know that I see them. I see what they face each day. I see the obstacles the color of their skin present. I see the outrage in their souls when another injustice rocks their community. I don’t necessarily understand it all because I have not walked in their shoes. But I know it’s there.

I obviously could not have known to what degree my words would resonate with people.
I expected some support. I knew there would be some backlash.
I received more support than I could have ever dreamed and less backlash than I would have thought (go, America!).
But what I did not expect is the incredible conversations I’ve had in the last week.
I cared about bridging the racial gap before, most definitely, but after this week, my passion for the cause is immeasurable.

I thought I would write one potentially controversial post and return to life as normal with my suburban mom blog that mostly wonders why boys can’t get their pee in the toilet.

I assure you there will be more urine chat in your future, but for now (and maybe forever), we need to camp out for a bit on my experience with the racial divide.

Even those who vehemently disagree with my blog agree that there is a race problem in America. But what I realized this week is that we have also have a major compassion problem.

Before I explain, I do want to acknowledge the amount of awesomeness from all variety of races that shared my post and talked about their experience (with racism, white privilege, etc.). I read through people’s words with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart, proving what I know to be true: most people in America are not racist.

But what I heard over and over this week is that white silence is very loud.

More on that in a moment.

Back to the compassion issue.

Every single person (literally, every single person) who disagreed with what I wrote cited the exact same argument: “Look at the statistics. Statistics say…” And they would go on to prove their point, the argument rooted in numbers.

The glaring problem with this is that people are more than just numbers. People are stories and histories. We are complex. Smart. Emotional. Spiritual. Prone to fear. We experience deep love and deep wounds. It is impossible to boil people down to a number, to a statistic.

Every race and culture experience consequences of past generations’ poor choices. Statistical data completely removes context. And in the race conversation, context and experience is everything.

Numbers are self-serving and can be skewed in any way your bias chooses.
Numbers don’t tell the full story.
Numbers lack compassion.

One reason we cannot heal the racial wounds in our country is because we lack compassion. We hold so tightly to our own experiences, agendas, political parties, and ideas that we refuse to see it any other way.

I am, of course, not speaking to everyone. I have witnessed so much compassion on this issue. But I am answering those who filled my inbox with their rebuttal:

The root of the issue is you lack compassion. 

Which is why I gave every single person (who gave the exact same argument against my post) the exact same answer: ask your black friends about their experience.

Compassion removes your own pretenses, mindsets, and experiences and looks into the eyes of someone who looks nothing like you and asks, “What is your experience with this?”

(P.S. This applies to every aspect of life, not just race.)

You can tell me every statistic you can find (and how much Jesus they need), but when you look into the tear-filled eyes of a black man or woman and hear their story…those numbers hold exactly no value.

(Sidenote: we all need Jesus. But that has nothing to do with the color of your skin.)
(Because news flash: Jesus wasn’t white.)

The issues of race will not be solved in a day. But we can move toward healing by opening our clenched fists, extending our arms across the racial divide, and saying to a person of color, “Tell me what life is like for you.”

The stories you hear will move you. The ugliness they tell you about will break your heart. The experience they share will leave you changed.

I am always open for dialogue about issues we face, but when you spout off statistics, I know for sure that you’ve never had this important conversation.

Before you send me any more e-mails (I am not even caught up on the ones I have), have this conversation first. Because rest assured, I will not respond until you’ve done so.
(For my back logged inbox, consider this my reply.)

As I said, the negative response to my original post was far less than I expected, and we could definitely all use a reminder of the importance of compassion (including myself). But, as I also already said, I know most people are not actually racist.

But it is not enough for us (white people, I am talking to you) to be “not racist”. Our silence is actually very loud. We must speak out against the racial injustices we see.

Something I heard from my black brothers and sisters over and over this week is, “Thank you. Thank you for saying what needs to be said. It seemed like white people don’t care because so few are saying anything.”

I know the main reason compassionate white people (who stand with black people in their hearts) don’t say anything is because we are afraid to say something unintentionally dumb or hurtful. In not wanting to unknowingly contribute to the pain, we say nothing.

To which my friend, Michele, responded (paraphrased), “Of course you will mess up. But that’s how you learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to mess up. But please still speak up.”

White people, let’s not let fear keep us silent. Even if we fumble and fail, let’s do our best. We say we live in the freest country in the world, yet people walk around everyday who don’t get to be truly free. Be the voice of freedom and the companion of the mistreated.

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I have the same dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. where “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” My children were born into a race where they aren’t judged by their character, but I dream of a world where no one’s children are. And I can only pray the content of my children’s character is such that they will not stand for racial injustice.

For this dream to be a reality, silence is no longer an option. The amount of times I was called “brave” this week for no longer remaining silent on something that burns deep in my soul is evidence enough that our silence is noticed.

The same caveat I’ve made before remains true: I do not have all of the answers.
But we don’t have to know everything to start somewhere. Start with the previously mentioned conversation. Ask a black person their experience. It will inevitably vary, but the undertones remain the the same.

You will be changed. You will undoubtedly do better because, in the words of Maya Angelou, “Those who know better, do better.”

Let’s do better. Refuse to be silent. Speak up. Learn from others. Open yourself to the idea that you may not know everything. Be willing to change. And for goodness sake, stop reducing people to numbers.

Love is always the answer. Compassion always wins.

I leave you with these words because they are as profound today as they were in 1963:

“I refuse to believe the bank of justice is bankrupt. I refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, I’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. 

I have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now…Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”
(Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream”, mildly paraphrased)

#BlackLivesMatter Is Not Just A Trendy Hashtag

What can be said that hasn’t already been said?
Why contribute to the noise on social media?
No one is being heard. No one is listening.
I’m too white to understand the plight.
I grew up upper middle class. Who am I to pretend I understand?

All questions I told myself are valid.

Then my friend Osheta challenged a group I’m in, “Help me understand why you have an abundance of compassion for our brothers and sisters suffering in Africa but no so much for our African-American brothers and sisters suffering here.”

And I had to face what I knew to be true: I haven’t written about race because I am afraid.

Afraid of so many things.
Afraid that black people will think I’m too white.
Afraid of what my white friends will say.
Afraid that my police officer friends will misunderstand me.
Afraid for the opinions that will follow. (I prefer to stay neutral on controversial subjects.)
Afraid for how it will effect my brand. (I write to moms in suburbia, who are mostly white.)

So I will take the advice I give my children:

If you can’t beat fear, do it scared. 

So here I am. Writing scared.

Let’s begin.

I wish I didn’t have to preface this with saying that yes, all lives matter (which is just code for white lives matter) and blue lives matter. The reason that Black Lives Matter trumps these is because we already believe white lives matter and blue lives matter.

American history has always supported the fundamental belief that white people and police officers have value.

Saying that Black Lives Matter is NOT saying that no other lives have value.

It’s saying that we’ve put up with the bull crap long enough. And it’s time for black lives to matter as much as all lives. Black people aren’t trying to matter more than you. They’re trying to matter as much as you.
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If you tell yourself that every person in America is treated equally, you are wrong.
If you tell yourself you are colorblind, you are lying.
If you think racism doesn’t exist, please tell me more about this rock you’re living under.

I could reference study after study to prove racism is still very much alive.
I could show you how communities are purposely built to oppress black people.
I could show you statistics of black people overrepresented in prisons and underrepresented in colleges.

Instead, I will speak of personal experiences. These are not as difficult as police brutality and unjust murder, but they shed light on the systemic racism that we must acknowledge exists. And we must fight to change.

This weekend, some of my black friends and I were discussing traffic violations.

And one casually said, “The officer first asked if I had any weapons…” and continued as if that were totally normal.

Let me tell you the number of times I’ve been asked if I had any weapons: 0.
And guess which of us owns more guns?

Systemic racism says, “You are black. You probably have a gun. You are white. You are safe.”

Another time, a neighbor was moving. He said, “Don’t worry, I will be sure to find a buyer suitable for you.” Implying he hoped a white person would purchase his house.

(A neighbor suitable for me is one who doesn’t report me to the HOA for the number of infractions I violate daily.)

Systemic racism says, “Let’s keep our little white suburbs white.”

Racism will not be solved in a day. We’ve spent hundreds of years oppressing black people. It will take time to undo. Ending slavery and the Civil Rights Movement each served to move us in the right direction, but we still have so far to go.

Which is why I am compelled to speak up. Black people have been beating the drum that Black Lives Matter long before it became a hashtag. But they cannot do this alone.

It is time for white people to join the fight.

White people are the overwhelmingly majority race in America.
And as long as we let racism stand, it will stand.

I know that most white Americans are not racist.
But our silence is doing as much damage as the haters’ hate.
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If this makes you uncomfortable, I am glad. It should.

2016 feels like it’s going to hell in a hand basket. This has been the worst year I can remember in my lifetime. But we do not have to be afraid. That which was meant for evil can be turned around for the good.

This is our Rosa Parks moment. This is the time where we can metaphorically take a stand and say, “NOT ON MY WATCH!”

It’s been a long day. I am tired of watching black men and women lose their lives at the hand of men who vowed to protect us.

(I will make the unnecessary disclaimer that somehow becomes necessary that I know most police are incredible people doing a very hard job, but that does not mean we do not hold those accountable who have seemingly misunderstood the oath they’ve taken.)

(Just as most doctors are good. But those who commit medical malpractice should pay.)
(Same goes for literally every profession.)

(The fact that I even need to explain this should be enough indication of the problem.)

As I was saying. It’s been a long day in American history, so to speak.
And our black brothers and sisters are tired of moving to the back of the bus.
They’re tired of being mistreated. Tired of not getting jobs they’re qualified for. Tired of being killed. Because they’re too black.

White people, I implore you to join the fight. At the risk of overusing the Rosa Parks metaphor, give your black friends your seat on the bus, and let them rest for a minute. Stand up and fight for them. They’ve been fighting their whole lives. And because I know they won’t actually take a rest, imagine what change will take place if we stand up and fight together.

And don’t let yourself believe you are only one person, and one person doesn’t change anything. History says otherwise.

If you’re new to this conversation and are questioning if it’s really as bad as they say, let me help you:

Do you remember what it felt like to go to the movies for the first time after the Aurora, Colorado shooting in the theater?

Do you remember what it felt like to send your kids to school the day after the massacre in Newton, Connecticut?

Do you remember flying for the first time following 9/11 and the eerie feeling of the onslaught of TSA agents?

Do you remember how hard it was to suppress your fear in the aftermath of those horrifying events?

Imagine living your life like that every single day. Imagine that a broken tail light could cost you your life. Imagine that your son playing with a toy gun at the park may not make it home today. Imagine praying every day that your husband, sons, and brothers would simply make it home alive. Because the color of their skin may determine otherwise.

This is the horrifying reality. And if you’re privileged enough to not experience it, congratulations on being white. But just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean it’s not true.

It is happening. Every day. #BlackLivesMatter is not a trendy hashtag. It’s meant to rally together to bring the very necessary change we need.

If #BlackLivesMatter bothers you, I encourage you to ask yourself why.
If you didn’t feel the same outrage about Alton Sterling and Philando Castile as you did about the Dallas Police Officers who lost their lives, why? If All Lives Matter, then all lives should matter. Seven men lost their lives the same way: tragically and unnecessarily.

This is just the beginning of the conversation. There is so much more to be said. Awareness is a start, but it is certainly not the end. I do not pretend to have all of the answers, but I will not stop asking the questions.

Black Lives Matter.
Let them matter to you.

A place to begin: Concrete Ways To Be An Actual Ally To Black People.

You can’t change everything. But you can do something.

White America, it’s time to join the fight.

(Please allow me to make the disclaimer that I used a lot of “us” and “them” in this article. I did this as a means to make a point, not to further divide.)

(Also, I told you I don’t know everything. If I said anything that is ignorant or wrong, please advise me. My goal is to open the dialogue, but I know I will do that imperfectly.)