We just got home from a last-minute trip to Florida with the kids. It wasn’t their spring break. We just needed a moment away together as a family so we all played “hookey” for a week and snuck away.
We’ve gone to the same place in Florida for the past 5 or 6 years (30A), but I think this was probably our last (for lots of reasons). But it was good to go back one final time.
It was a great trip. It took me a few days to settle in (which I’ll share more about below) but once I finally did, I was all in. Diving over waves with them. Racing in the pool. Playing games at dinners. Cuddling on the couch watching murder mysteries. I hope our kids remember me, and JP too, being parents that were “in it’ with them, really playing with them and making memories with them, instead of just watching it all happen. That’s been a new change for me in the past few years in my parenting, and it feels really good. Something I wish I would have done years ago.
But I guess that’s the beauty of life, being able to change and evolve and grow – even in motherhood.
There’s been a lot on my mind the past few weeks, and I’m excited to just pour it all on a page, so let’s jump right in. Here’s what’s been on my mind & heart lately…..
Feeling waves of overwhelm, even on vacation
While our trip was wonderful, for some reason, I struggled on it too.
I couldn’t settle in. Have you ever felt that way?
You’re so excited about your trip, it’s what you’ve been looking forward to, but then for whatever reason it doesn’t feel “like you imagined” it would.
I kept thinking….when are you going to relax? This is supposed to be fun. Be happy.
But it was a struggle.
I had a lot on my mind; with our life back home, with work, with me personally. I felt mentally pulled in a lot of directions and I couldn’t get into vacation mode (which of course then kicked in the guilt. So now I felt overwhelmed and guilty. Perfect.).
It made me critical of a lot of things I normally wouldn’t have been. Why is the house dirty? Why are the kids fighting? Why’s it so cloudy today?
I know when I get this way, when I start being critical of things around me (the kids, the house, JP), it has nothing to do with whatever it is I’m actually venting about, there’s something bigger going on with me.
A week later, I can honestly say I’m not sure what it is/was going on with me (and to be honest, not sure it really matters), but I know the problem was me (and not in fact the kids or the overcast weather).
By the third or fourth day I finally “shook” the heavy feeling in my chest and I could feel myself settle in. But it took me a minute, which isn’t usually like me. I felt really guilty for wasting our precious time as a family being “in my head”. But it’s where I was.
And I too, just like I am with the kids, need to be ok with myself not always being perfect and “on”, even on vacation. Maybe my mind and body were just so exhausted that they needed a rest. I’m not really sure. Just sharing that sometimes what you see on social media isn’t the full story. And that ALL of us, no matter how mentally strong/healthy we are, have days when things feel heavy. And it’s ok. It’s all a part of it.
And sure enough, just like our overcast first few days in Florida, it passes as quickly as it comes.
Letting go of expectations around holidays
When JP and I first started having kids we did all the traditional things around the holidays that we did growing up. Going to church, having certain meals, doing things in a certain way.
Over the years though, that’s slowly shifted. We’ve had some internal struggles coming to terms with what is really ours, and what doesn’t really feel like us. Stepping back and consciously choosing what we value most and how we want to raise our own kids.
Last year, around this same time, we were in California for Easter, and it was the first time I really had the chance to put into practice shifting what some of these traditional holidays looked like. And it felt really good. We had donuts on the beach Easter morning and it felt really aligned for us.
Which is why this year, it took me by surprise with how my perfectionist part really came out Easter morning.
JP and I had made the conscious choice (along with the kids) that we weren’t going to do anything for Easter this year. And yet, somehow, I found myself biking into town, before dawn, Easter morning on the hunt for cinnamon rolls or any baked good I could find to put on a platter in hopes to create a magical moment when my kid’s eyes would light up and they’d dig in.
Of course, nothing was available.
As I rode back home, with an empty basket and tears in my eyes, I felt really taken aback by how much I still felt this need to create these picture-perfect magical moments for our kids.
Would they be disappointed? Did I mess up? Ugh, why didn’t I plan something yesterday and run out to the store then?
When I got back home, JP and I made breakfast for the kids with whatever we could find leftover in our rental house (which wasn’t much). But the funny thing is, the kids didn’t care. In fact, they loved it. We made PB&J’s, rode our bikes to the beach, and spent the morning swimming as a family.
The kids didn’t care about cinnamon rolls, baskets, or chocolate bunnies. But for some reason, if I’m being really honest with myself, I still did.
It caught me off guard how I was still placing value and my worthiness as a mother on whether or not I “did enough” or “did it well”. Placing my worth in the external things I created; curated moments with matching outfits, kids smiling for cameras, and swoon-worthy meals on a table.
I thought I was past all of that, but was I?
A big part of my identity was challenged that morning, and I had to be really honest with myself about why I was feeling such conflicting emotions. Wanting to be this mother who didn’t place her value/worth in the external things. No longer controlling situations, experiences, family events. And yet at the same time, a little scared. Vulnerable. Nervous to disappoint my kids, JP, even me. Did I make the wrong choice….?
I had no choice at this point but to lean in and trust this new version of me as a mother. The one who trusts that just by being there, being present with my kids, was all that truly mattered.
But it’s hard letting go of old identities – and it’s not a straight line.
I’m still defining who I am as a mother, but I’m proud of my growth and how far I’ve come. And although I know I will still have more moments when a part of me wants to rush to the store for cinnamon rolls, I’m hoping more experiences like this build my confidence to continue to trust this new version of me. I guess time will tell…..
Recognizing how much our words matter
I’ll share more in a longer post soon, just not quite ready yet, about an incident I experienced when I was out in public with Sloan last week that really stuck with me. I’m not sure when or how (or even if) I’ll find the words to share. So for now, I’ll just say that it made me really sensitive and aware of the words we use, and how there are always people listening.
Our words, especially around gender, race, religion, have such deep impacts, regardless of our intentions.
I liked to believe that I did a fairly good job of being conscious of the language and the words I chose, but am realizing now that I could do better. So I’m challenging myself, and all of us, to be a little more conscious and aware of how our words could be more inclusive and considerate to ALL.
Wow, I guess I had a lot to say this week. As always, thanks for being here, and being a safe place to share so much of this with. I always love hearing feedback from this community. So if there are things you want to talk about, topics we should dive into, or other things on YOUR heart & mind – Let me know. After all, this space is for you, for me, for US.
Wishing you all a weekend ahead filled with ease & peace.