Thank You 2016

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As 2016 comes to an end, I am anxiously waiting to tear the page off of the calendar to embark on the new challenges, chances and adventures that most hope a new year will bring. Because 2016 has been rough.

 So rough.  

I started the year with the loss of a dear friend to suicide and ended it in with the loss of one of my closest friends in this entire world (juvenile statement – perhaps? Shut up! Stop judging!) to an incurable and very rare cancer, so yes, I can say with confidence that 2016 has been a rough and crappy year. 

With all the life crap that has happened between these two defining moments of 2016 I learned some very valuable lessons:

 Take control of your life: 

·         Don’t like your job – go find a new one.

·         Bored with life’s mundane groundhogs day routine? Sign up for an art class, take yoga, go for a damn walk.

·         Hard times financially? Pick up extra gigs; you have a skill set – use it.

·         Want to lose weight? Eat right and exercise.

Step up, step up to the plate that is your life and take control of whatever you need to take control of and make your life worth living. 

 Respect and love yourself:

·   Take care of yourself.  Make yourself the priority.

Not much to say about this one – this is about that oxygen mask theory of self care – put on your oxygen mask before you can put it on for anyone else.

 Be transparent:

·         Husband, wife, partner, friend hurt you or let you down? Let them know respectfully or let that shit go.

·         Feel them emotions- all of them, don’t bury the sadness, the anger, the love, the joy.  Feel it all.

There is no room in life to lie to yourself or others. The truth will always catch up to you.  I am seeing with my own two eyes how the guilt associated with the lies that someone has told themselves and those they claim they loved eat away at them and it’s ugly.  Someone once told me that guilt is a useless emotion unless you have something to be guilty about.  Ain’t that the truth.

 Keep your mouth shut:

·     There is a time to talk and there is a time to shut up.  

I learned this one very late in 2016.  I said too many things in 2016.  Shame on me, but moving on.

 Just Show up:

·   If you EVER question whether to reach out to someone during their darkest days,  during the hard times, don’t …  don’t question it one bit – SHOW UP – call, text, drop off a note at their house, anything.  The person you are reaching out to will respond, it may not be immediately but they will respond and when they respond it will because your effort will have meant more than anything to that person during those dark days.

My sister- in-law’s BFF gave me this advice four years ago, and it got put to test this year more than ever. Showing up for my best friend and her family was imperative, and I am so glad I got this advice. Thank you Lileen!

Value yourself:

·    You are WORTH It.  Don’t let anyone devalue your worth. Everything you want in life, YOU DESERVE! You’ll make mistakes but that doesn’t mean that you are not valuable.  Something is clearly wrong with a person for them to want to deliberately be rude, hurtful and mean to another human being, to do this purposely with the intent to devalue is awful and even more pathetic when it is someone they supposedly love.  I am telling you at this very moment – YOU ARE WORTH IT. Believe it, own it, live it!  My favorite quote:  “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Ant that’s it. Those are the lessons I learned in 2016.  When life unfolds and the crappy parts are laying at your feet you need to realize how important these life lessons are for survival.

We make life much harder than it really needs to be – we are our own worst enemy.  STOP, collaborate and listen (c’mon I had too!) I lost a lot  of me this year. I let too many factors seep into my soul and destroy a part of me, couple that with losing two friends under the age of 45 and yeah, it messes with you. But I know from experiencing the loss of my father that life moves on. The mourning does not end in a year, two years and I imagine never but if my dad’s death taught me anything it taught me that all the questions I have will be left unanswered.  Trying to find the answers that will never be found is a waste of energy and thus you’ll be wishing your life away.  You need to live through the mourning.

You have choices.  

Make the good choices.

Life moves on.

Move with it.

Live it.

You deserve it.

And as cliché as it sounds I plan on honoring the lives of my friends while living my own. I expect that I will continue to have good, bad and ugly days, and during the rough spots of my journey I fully expect my friends to guide me, they may haunt me as well but they will guide me.

Happy New Year!

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I Am An Average Mom

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  • I pack my boys’ homemade lunches every day, healthy too! – HA!
  • I get all the laundry done every day – well, it does depend on the week
  • I help my children with their homework – mostly never, I’m on special projects – the Hubs handles homework
  • Their clothes are always ironed – all of the time, it’s an obsession of mine
  • I clean my house – rarely ever — I outsourced that job
  • I get my children to school on time – more often than not
  • I cook a seven-course healthy meal for my family every night – not exactly
  • I listen intently to every word that comes out of my son’s mouth – 99% of the time – I trained myself to stop what I am doing (even if it’s mid-wipe) to listen to my sons, if they’re talking I am listening (mostly!)
  • I attend every single game of my sons – seriously? Not only is that impossible but sitting at a 9-year-old baseball game is like watching paint dry for 2 hours
  • I never scream at my children – hello, do you know me? I am Italian and from New York
  • I am consistent with my threats and always follow through – totally working on this

When I was away with my besties on our ‘girls weekend’ we were barely two hours and five ciders into yucking it up, feeding off cheese, downing wine, rum chatta and shoving nine months of barely seeing each other into a 53-hour weekend that I proudly and honestly declared to my friends that “I am an average mom.” That I am nowhere close to knocking the cover off the ball of this thing called “Motherhood.” I am not making home-made costumes for Halloween, there are no seven course meals at my house, my laundry is barely folded and put away. I forget to the move the Elf – – on the daily.  And sometimes I rerun the dishwasher cause I don’t want to unload it – c’mon – there are more dirty dishes (don’t you dare fucking judge me, I am completely aware that I am ruining the environment when I take that extremely lazy route). Oh! If I can outsource any job in my house, I will.

One a scale from child protective services to June Clever. I am right in the middle.

I am an average mom.

I mean – the name of my blog could have given ya a clue right? Me and motherhood, 12 years later and we’re still getting acquainted.

My children know it too.  When I told my youngest son that we have to bring in cupcakes for his in-school birthday party – he said “Can we please make cupcakes? I don’t want to be one of those kids that bring in store bought cupcakes.”  I kid you not – this is verbatim from my soon- to-be nine-year-olds mouth – ya see, he was that kid for eight years- he knows damn well that I am average too.

My ride-and-dies agreed. None of us feel like we are living up to the expectations of what some of the other moms in our world are doing – the pressure of parenting is … So. Much. All. The. Time.

Who is holding us to the fire and putting this pressure on us? Is it the mom whom plans the insanely fun playdates?  The parenting magazines that tell us to bento box our kids lunches? The stay-at-home dad who built the ‘American Ninja Warrior’ course in his back yard? Could it be the endless declarations from parents across the globe (mmmm Facebook) that their kiddos are on the high honor roll, just hit a homer on their elite travel baseball team or that little Susie took the stage at Carnegie Hall?  Or is it the senseless expectations I put on myself when the little buggers came screaming into world?

It’s definitely all of it, but mostly the expectations that I put on myself.  Why would I do that? Did I watch way too many Brady Bunch episodes?  Wait, that couldn’t be cause I am clearly in the running with Peg from Married with Children.

Let’s face it –being a parent is hard. It’s hard if you stay-at-home (frankly I think it’s harder if you’re a SAHM/D) and it’s hard if you go and foster a career. And it is by far 150% harder if you going at this parenting thing alone.

My “Come-to-Jesus” moment was when I realized it was okay to be an average mom.  I could breathe knowing that it is okay that some weeks I may just decoupage the crap out of some school project and other weeks it is perfectly find to run last-minute to 7-11 to bring in stale store-bought cupcakes.

About two weeks after I made my average mom declaration to my best friends I was in the car with my sons and husband.  From the back seat of the car I hear my 12-year-olds voice “Mom, Dad” , I quickly turn down the music, I mean it is the rare moment he looked up from his phone – “in class this week we had to pick a person we wanted to sit on a bench and talk to.”  Before I could say so “who did you pick?” The 12-year-old said “Do you know who I picked?” I instantly thought it was his dad or either one of his grandfather’s — I mean his dad is his hero, as well as his grandfathers. Over the hum of the tires rolling down the road the 12 year-old sweetly stated “I picked you Mommy.”  In complete shock — tears filled my eyes, I  proudly looked over at my husband- I must admit in an ‘in-your-face-moment’- I BEAMED with joy, I mean, this was my total Sally Field moment  – my sons never pick me over their fun daddy!

Well hot-damn – I’ll be an average mom any day of the week!

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Death Becomes Me

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I’ve been around death for a long time. My parents didn’t shy away from taking my sisters and I to wakes, funerals or burials. Being a part of a very large Italian family, I attended a lot of these ‘events’. I knew what to do at a wake, I understood them, I appreciated them and on some level I liked them. It meant I got to spend time with my family albeit grieving or not, being with my family always made me happy.

Fast forward to the tender age of (yea not giving that up); I have now attended wakes and funerals of the elderly, young, middle-aged, and newborn — of my immediate family to the distant friend and everyone in-between.

And because of this – I thought I got death and grieving.

But I was wrong. It wasn’t until two years, 8 months, 6 days, 13 hours and 51 minutes ago (but who is counting) when my dad died that I finally understood what death is and what grieving is really all about.

Grieving is like ripping out a piece of paper from a notebook, shredding it into tiny little pieces and then being commanded to glue it back together – all those tiny little pieces of paper are my life – trying to glue them back together – is complete fucking nonsense.  Paper is everywhere, glue is sticking to my fingers – and in my hair – it’s a damn mess.  

 It can’t be done and it shouldn’t be done.

Because it’s impossible.   

Death changes a person.  My life will never the same.

I was forever changed after my dad died. A piece of me died with him.

And now, having to say goodbye to Julie.  One of my closest friends. My bestie. My ride-or-die. My soul sister.

I am changed again. Now two chunks of my heart are missing.

Death has become me. 

It is now the references of “before my Dad died” or “when Julie was in the hospital.”

It is the “I gotta tell Dad that he’d laugh … crap dad is dead” (yes that blunt) moments.

It will be the listening to all of the saved voice mails from Julie as I sit paralyzed in my driveway.

It’s trying to keep all these memories alive with every story I can possibly tell to my sons.

Death is exhausting. Death is ugly. Death sucks.

And grieving? Grieving is awful.  It’s like a tsunami.  Each wave is a wave of grief that hits me in my chest. Every. Single. Day.  It’s the wave of guilt, a wave of the what’s if’s, the wave of if I said that, done that or the wave of I should have had the hard conversations. It’s the wave of complete desperation and longing for the person that has died.

Death is Death is Death.

Death robs me of my willingness to live.

And because I know what that grief tsunami is – inconsistent and can knock me down whenever the hell it is wants.  

I am now terrified to grieve for Julie.

Grieving leaves me speechless. Renders me useless. It is the screams at my children. Grieving is the irrational anger. It’s not wanting to get out of bed. And the uncontrollable crying as I am driving alone in the car.

Driving alone sucks. That tsunami of grief is always ready and waiting for me when I’m alone in the car.

Grieving can be logical too – what’s the point of being angry? The erratic nonsense? The Debbie downer’s?   

Why do this when at the end of the day, I am at the same place? 

My dad is still not here.  Julie is gone.

Death happened. I can’t change a gosh darn thing. None of this behavior will bring back those I love.

Should I not go through those emotions?

Yes I must. That is what I learned when my dad died – I gotta move through each emotion to get through the other side. And the other side isn’t pretty. It’s actually awful.

But it’s necessary.  The other side is basically the realization that wow I still have to live. I cannot run away from the world. I still have to feed and nurture my kids. I still have to go to work. I still have to go food shopping. I still have to do the laundry.

I still have to live. 

Because the pain never goes away. It may dull from time to time but the pain never dissipates.

Living a life doesn’t mean that I’m not grieving — life just becomes a distraction to the grieving

Life is now a distraction to grieving for the people I love and miss. Terribly miss.  

As I continue to make my way through the insurmountable grief of losing my dad and now my Julie – I understand death and grieving more than ever.

And that sucks.  

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