motherhood Jen and John Speak

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Great and Now I Feel Guilty…

I am a bad mother.

As much as I love my children, there are some things that other mothers think are SO fun and are so delightful that make me want to run and hide.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago my daughter received a letter in the mail. It was from one of her friends. It told her she was now part of the “Sticker Club” and all she needed to do was mail a pack of stickers to the girl listed on the letter, then add her own name to the letter and mail it, along with a blank copy, to 6 other friends. Within 2 weeks she would apparently receive 36 packs of stickers!

Shoot me now.

The letter sat on the hall table for a week just staring at me before my husband started badgering me about it. Pointing out the fact that good mothers had probably already gotten on the ball and sent theirs out.

What he didn’t understand was that first, I had to figure out what copies I had to make, what addresses I had to find, how many stamps I had to buy, and also run out and buy a pack of stickers. Then I had to set aside time to hand write all the addresses, make all the copies, etc.

I barely have time to wash my dishes.

I finally sucked it up and mailed out the letters with my daughter last night. She was of course clapping her hands in delight the whole time. (insert mommy guilt.) I’d also like to point out the fact that I was a week late in sending these out. Which means there will be other disappointed girls who don’t get their stickers on time.

Sigh.

Now I feel guilty about all the other moms we probably stressed out with this project. (If you get one and you’re reading this, I’m sorry!)

How do supermoms do it all? Because I sure can’t figure it out!

Your thoughts?

When Did I Suddenly Get Old?

This December I will turn 40. I honestly didn’t think that was that old. I feel great. I exercise more now than ever before in my life, and eat better too. I can keep up with my kids. I rock out to Just Dance 3 on the Wii with the best of them. So honestly, I think of myself as pretty young.

At least I did until I watched the Grammys the other night.

Now there are contemporary artists that I like. I work out to the Black Eyed Peas every morning. I enjoy songs from Katie Perry, Adele, etc. But I have to tell you…the majority of the performances I saw (until I finally turned it off) sounded like noise to me. Not music.

Then I saw this: http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/who-is-paul-mccartney

OMG. Am I really that old???

I Want to Be Supermom But My Cape Ripped (And I Don’t Know How to Sew)

My patch-less brownie 🙂

I am a working mother.

I have a husband who makes sure the household stays running smoothly so I can take the lead in running our company. (God bless him.)

Our roles are often reversed. Parents in town sometimes make the mistake of coming to me to make plans with our kids. After giving them a blank look, I send them to the master schedule keeper (John) who will also most likely be the one who shows up for the playdate or birthday party with kids in tow. He also does the laundry and the taxi driving of the kids. (God bless him.)

We really do like the way things have worked out, even though it’s rather non-traditional. But sometimes it’s hard, too. I’m on the road a lot and miss performances and things. I try to show up for things when I’m around, like caroling with the Brownies.

But I also sometimes think about moms in generations before ours. Those superwomen who cooked and cleaned and got the kids where they needed to be (in heels and pearls, God bless them.) The definition of supermom back then was a lot different than it is today when we’re balancing work and family and everything else we want to do.

Heck, they even knew how to SEW (a talent I simply do not possess.)

Case in point…brownies. I have written before about the stress the whole brownie patch thing has added to my life. I still haven’t added the last 2 patches to my daughter’s vest because I’m not sure where they go. When we went caroling with the brownies at the nursing home, I figured I’d check out the vests of the other girls and then do my daughter’s.  Only when we got there, EVERYONE’s patches were falling off. And it made me feel better. LOL Maybe it’s not just me.

So even though I try very hard to be supermom, there are simply things I’ll never be able to do like June Cleaver. I still haven’t attempted to attach the brownie patches. My husband doesn’t ask me to sew hems (he asks his mom.) And yes, I’ll miss the occasional child activity.

But you know what? It’s OK. It’s what we’ve chosen. It’s the life we created. The kids are happy most of the time.

Even if I don’t know how to sew.

When is Trendy Too Expensive? Finding Balance

My daughter is of the age when she’s beginning to notice not just WHAT her friends wear, but where it came from. Because jeans are apparently cool when they come from Justice, but not nearly as cool when they come from Target. Even if they look exactly. the. same. (And don’t even get me started about people who wear pants with stuff written on the butt. Over. my. dead. body.)

And I struggle with this.

Now I lean very much on the practical side of things when it comes to outfitting my children. When they will wear it just ONE season before they grow out of it, the thought of blowing my hard-earned cash on expensive clothes is ridiculous to me. There are perfectly trendy clothes at Target, Old Navy, etc. (and for that matter, the rummage sale and second hand store) that look just fine. And this is coming from someone who is all about dressing well.

But I also remember what it was like growing up and NOT shopping at the trendy store. I struggled to fit in as a child on many levels. This was one of them. And so I can relate to my daughter’s desire to shop at Justice and buy the cool stuff in order to fit in and be cool.

This all came to the forefront when a girl down the street got a diary from Justice. She had it out at the bus stop every morning, and all of a sudden my daughter DESPERATELY wanted a diary from Justice. I told her she could have one from Target (who didn’t, apparently, have one with a lock.) I’m all for encouraging things that encourage writing. We compromised by finding one at Barnes & Noble (where I had a coupon.) And she’s been having a great deal of fun writing and drawing in it. Even though it didn’t come from Justice.

But I wonder about the culture that says to our kids they must have exactly this from exactly this place in order to be cool. And by the way, you have to spend a lot of money to achieve that status.

I want my kids to be aware of current culture. But I also want them to realize that it’s not the label that makes you cool or not. And I want them to have the confidence to carry that message without me having to stand there and tell them that.

I think we achieved that with the journal. It’s serving its purpose and she’s happy.

But she also knows that I think Justice is way too expensive and I don’t intend to shop there. I wonder when that will come to a head. At some point I’ll probably give her the option to spend her own money there if she wants to. But she’ll understand she gets less for her money by shopping there than elsewhere.

What are your thoughts on this? How do you approach it when your kids want the trendy thing from the expensive place? Would love to read your comments.

Every Woman Needs a Fabulous Pair of Red Shoes

I am of the opinion that every woman needs a pair of fabulous red shoes.

It’s an emotional well-being thing.

When you walk down the street in a pair of fabulous red shoes, people notice. They compliment you. That pair of shoes can make you stand tall and feel fabulous all day.

Seriously.

Too many women sacrifice looking and feeling fabulous for comfort (in the guise of ratty old sweats.) It’s not necessary. You never wear a set of old sweats out and get compliments. You never stand tall or feel great.

Don’t do it to yourself. It’s possible to be comfortable AND look great. Find out the type of jeans that compliments your body shape, and buy yourself a couple pairs of stylish ones from Target each season. Get rid of the shapeless t-shirts, and trade them out for ones that highlight your assets. Put on a necklace, and some earrings with your jeans.

Don’t try to hide behind shapeless clothing. Sure, be comfortable. But do it in clothing that looks great on you. If you’re not sure where to start, do a Google search on “Dress for Your Body Shape.” You’ll find lots of great info to get you started.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to dress in ways that make you feel good. Heck, I do most of my shopping at Target and Old Navy, with just a few select pieces for work from New York & Company and Macy’s. But you deserve to feel and look good. It affects everything…the way you feel, the way your husband reacts to you, the way you parent your children, the confidence you have…the list goes on.

The pair of red shoes are the icing on the cake (I have purple ones too!). They make people notice that you feel great about yourself. What a gift to give yourself!

What’s your favorite item of clothing that makes you feel great?

Being There

As I write this, I’m sitting on a train headed to Washington DC. I didn’t see my kids this morning because I left too early (although I gave them extra hugs last night). And I stuck little notes in their lunches for today, letting them know I love them, and that I’ll see them when they get home from school tomorrow.

As a working mom who travels a lot, one of the things I struggle with is being there for everything. I have missed the occasional school performance, birthday (although we celebrated when I was home), etc. And I have struggled with guilt over this. Because I know I need to do my job to make the money needed for the family. Yet I also want to be the good mom. The one who is always there for my kids, with baked goods waiting as they walk in the door from school.

I know it’s not a unique experience. June Cleaver messed us all up. We struggle to be supermom while dealing with the realities of today’s society. I’ve tried to be the stay at home mom. And I nearly lost my mind. It just isn’t me. I crave the challenge that comes from my business, even though I also love being with my kids. But it does mean I can’t be there all the time.

And so I’ve learned to cut myself some slack. Heck, I might even be teaching my kids a few lessons that relieve some of the guilt for them when they become adults. I hope I’m teaching them that they are incredibly important to me, and their celebrations matter. They just might not always happen on the exact day. They will, however, happen (even if it means I have to watch that performance on the DVD). And when we’re all together, they get my full attention.

They’re also learning what it means to work hard. They know full well that getting the toys they want, the roof over their heads, the food on the table, is a direct result of John and I working hard, and me being away sometimes. It’s our reality. (And they’re actually pretty fortunate in that when I’m not traveling, I work from home. So they may actually see us more than the average kid with 9-5 parents.)

And my kids are still happy, funny, and secure.

Am I June Cleaver or Supermom? Nope. But my kids know I love them, and they’re learning how hard work translates into a good life.

And that may be even more important.

How do you balance it all? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments.