This week, Will passed out birthday party invitations to his class at day care. It's the first time he has invited a class of friends to his birthday.  What's even better is that he planned this party himself - invited people before Mom and Dad had said okay to a party.  

The RSVPs have started to come into my email box - none of his school friends can attend.  Apparently, one of the little girls in his class is also having a party on the same day at the same time. I had no idea.  An invitation to that party was never placed in Will's cubby at school and so all his friends will be at that party and not his.  It breaks my heart each time my Inbox beeps with another response. 

Trust me - Will's party will be just fine. Friends and family will be there. This week is all about him at home so he will turn 5 with fun and presents and love just the same. I doubt he will even realize any of that happened.  

But I realize it.  And I feel it.  

It's a familiar feeling - I get it often with Grace.  When I see the other kids in her classes and activities giggling together.  When I hear about birthday parties she isn't invited to.  When she is home after school and on the weekends with no social plans outside family stuff.  

My sweet big girl and adorable boy.
I have come to realize that the level of parent socializing is directly related to the social experience kids have.  And when your mom is extremely introverted and anxious when it comes to meeting new people, you are pretty much doomed.  I'm not on 17 PTO committees and I can't be at weekday school events and we don't live in an area with a neighborhood pool and activities and tot lot to hang out at.   My own social circle is small and that protection I have placed around me in that way has leaked into my kids lives. 

My kids are smart, loving, empathetic, loyal and funny.  They are great kids.  They want to run and play and be part of the gang. I know it's part of growing up but it hurts like hell when I see them hanging outside the circle - when they are friendly with their peers but not included when it comes to social events.  I remember that feeling and it sucks. 

The Buddy bench - have you seen that article? This is what that is about.  I wish there were Buddy Benches everywhere!!! 

As I am writing here, I don't want anyone to think "oh poor kids". I want people to look around - maybe that casual friend who is standing outside the circle just needs an invite to join you.  Maybe they don't know how to join in the activity or maybe they are a little anxious about approaching the larger group. Your child may find a new friend. You may expand your network of colleagues.  Maybe you will learn something new from that person.  But for sure you will make the day of your new friend. 


A Note Left for Mom

You hear all the time that once you are a parent, nothing is ever the same.  That everything changes.  And it does - there is no denying that.

Its been almost 12 years since I first became someone's Mom.  It amazes me still that those nurses let me leave the hospital with a brand new baby with no users manual or schedule or task list - nothing but me and the Hubby and our new car seat.

Every phase is hard.  You miss hours of sleep and then you worry about food allergies as they learn to eat. Eventually they learn to walk and can destroy a room in 4 seconds flat.  Don't forget about those epic temper tantrums in public places!  Its exhausting.

In our house, there are three kids - all in different phases....one toddler almost preschool age, one pre-K, and the oldest almost in middle school.  We are parenting in three different styles at all times. Often, people comment that the baby must be the hardest one.....actually, no.

Right now, navigating the new world of the Preteen has consumed my parenting.  Because she is preteen, I have to start editing what I share about her - its her story to tell when/how/if she decides. What I can tell you is that smiles hide insecurity, un-returned texts are sometimes a way to hide jealousy, and friends who never leave your side no matter what mean everything.

I am constantly fighting a battle with myself - am I giving the kids enough attention? Do they understand that late nights at work aren't my choice - but I am doing it for them, to make sure they have what they need.  Do they get it when there is a little tough love to learn that life isn't always fair but that we love them all the time?

Parenting is hard............but notes like this left on my desk make all those hard moments completely and totally worth it.


How I Feel Five Years Later

"Well, isn't it great that all of that is behind everyone now?" An innocent comment - and pretty logical too - when I mentioned that this week is the five year anniversary of one of our most major medical issues.

But it's not behind me. It's always right in front of me and behind me.  That experience changed me so deeply that I am not the same person I was the day before and I'm not sure I am the person I am meant to be yet either.

Shivers - feeling cold even in the summer
Rapid breathing - can't catch your breathe
Inability to focus or complete a task
Need for quiet
Aggravated by even simple requests
Exhaustion but can't sleep
Fear of letting the emotions out

That's what it feels like when the anxiety attacks.  Sometimes there is a warning and I can adjust to keep it at bay - to keep it from overtaking my carefully guarded self.

It won this week.

Five years ago, I almost lost The Hubby.  It was a simple surgery gone bad. It was terrifying.  It was hours and hours and hours of unknown outcomes and trusting doctors I didn't know to save him.  If you want to know what was happening at this exact time five years ago, I can still tell you. I can tell you what I was wearing.  I re-read that blog post I wrote -- and all exactly accurate.  What I never wrote was the surgeon telling me that she didn't know if he would survive.  That for a couple hours in the middle of the night no one could say the outcome would be a good one for him.  It didn't tell you about the hours I sat in that room, listening to the machines beeping asking for a miracle.

Yes, I understand that it is over and that the outcome was the best - Hubby came home and recovered. Doctors even now remark that they are amazed he survived what he did.  I know all that. I acknowledge all that and I am so so so grateful for it.  All of that is very logical.

Anxiety and PTSD don't care so much about logic.  They are always there, lurking in the background for me. I manage those feelings pretty well - I think - by simply making sure they don't get the best of me - I smile when I want to scream, I take a deep breath when I want to crumble and cry.  And I just keep moving forward, one step at a time, when the overwhelming waves of worry and fear and sadness try to take over.

Life goes on and other things need my attention - my children need my love, my job needs my creativity. and my husband needs his wife.  We are okay - we are all here. Together.  That is what matters.


Making It Happen - The New Plan

I just finished a huge event at work - over 2,000 people at a regional trade show.  Pretty great event if I say so myself....and I am pretty psyched that the evaluations agree with me.  Who doesn't like when their work is validated that way?!

Now that life isn't focused around the crazy pre-event days or the late night work sessions after the kids' bedtimes, I find myself a little lost. There are so many things on the normal to do list but I am struggling to focus my energy.  

Those who know me well know this about me: I do best in crazy times.  Give me 3 deadlines, a school event, house projects, and for good measure - add a medical appointment or two.  I may be running around 15 hours a day but I thrive in that.  I focus, I prioritize, and it gets done.  It all happens.  

Give me downtime and my mind wanders.  I think about the 17 different paths to accomplish one goal and guess what - at the end of the day, I haven't started down any of those paths.  

Is it the fear of the downtime that keeps me from getting this list completed? If the list is never done, there is always something to rush around to complete. Do I just secretly want to not accomplish these goals - are these goals one I THINK I want but deep down really don't? I have no idea. 

Finding a way to keep myself on task and motivated is the newest biggest goal - first step - HOW?! Since I know that I need external deadlines/pressure to "make it happen", I am creating that myself in my office.  A white board - on my wall for my boss, my coworkers and even my visitors to see.  Every Friday, I will spend an hour organizing the week ahead and posting the 5 top priorities/tasks to complete.  Having them up there for everyone to see should help me ensure they get crossed off - because nobody wants to be questioned about why your to do list for 5 months ago is still posted on the wall! 

Today is Friday. Step 1 complete - hang whiteboard. Step 2 --- off to find some Dry Erase markers!