New Blog Series: Super(Bad)Moms

Moms so rarely get the recognition that they deserve. Moms get shit done on a daily basis, yet rarely receive any accolades. At the same time, we try to hide our faults for fear of judgment or that our facade of perfection will be shattered. This leaves moms feeling isolated, defeated, and inadequate. Not anymore!

Mama Tries Blog is thrilled to announce a new blog series: Super(Bad)Moms. Super(Bad)Moms will feature incredible, inspirational women who are perfect on paper, but beautifully flawed. These amazing women are not superhuman. They are real.

For me, that’s where the inspiration lies. Because if we can share lows, we can certainly work our mom asses off and accomplish some highs along with inspirational women whose lives we often see as unattainable.

Remember – there are no Supermoms. There are just moms who hide their “bad” side better than others… until now!

Our first Super(Bad)Mom will be featured this week!
In the meantime, if you are a Super(Bad)Mom and/or know someone who is, and would like to be featured contact me at: contactmamatriesblog@gmail.com.

What to Know Before You Compare Yourself to A Photo on Social Media

alb lady project launch

This is a picture of my friend Lea and me, taken two nights ago. As of right now, it has received over 140 likes and around 30 comments. I can’t recall if the photos announcing my children’s births got that much action. As the accolades were pouring in yesterday, a vain part of me was a little thrilled, but that bigger, empathetic mom voice in me was stronger. “You are contributing to an unfair Facebook highlight reel. This is not your real life.”

Except, it is. But it’s only a part of it. A tiny part of it.

This was taken at the end of an incredible night that we’ve worked hard for and a post to celebrate our success was warranted. We have been working for months with a team of incredible women to launch a local chapter of Lady Project, a nonprofit women’s group celebrating awesome women doing amazing things. This was the night of our sold out launch event. We’d just hosted a room full of inspirational, driven, passionate women excited to support one another and our community. We had reason to celebrate with a selfie. But, before anyone feels deflated upon seeing a glamorous snapshot in their news feed, they must know that none of this came easy.

A picture might speak a thousand words, but this one speaks a thousand lies. Let me tell you the real story.

  1. I did not wake up like this. While my husband took my children to run errands, I spent an ungodly amount of time on my hair. We’re talking hair dryer, straightener, and two different types of product – neither of which was dry shampoo. It was excessive.
  2. I am wearing about 13 pounds of makeup in this picture. I used foundation primer for God’s sake! This was covered in actual foundation and two different types of concealer. There were then roughly 17 other makeup items piled on top. I think Kylie Jenner would have told me to tone it down if she, you know, hung out with moms in their late 30s.
  3. Lea and I both hate shopping, yet spent two full hours at the mall days before this picture was taken in order to find perfect ensembles. I ended up wearing a blouse I bought in desperation, and she ended up wearing an old one of mine because she’d left her brand new, steamed blouse at home in her rush to leave a house full of kids. She realized she wasn’t wearing a bra when we got to the event.
  4. Shortly before this picture was taken, I was standing barefoot on a city street because I could not tolerate wearing my stiletto heels for one more second. I literally ripped them off my feet on a freezing, dirty sidewalk so that I could rummage through my bag to find a pair of flats I had packed for such an occasion. Sophisticated.
  5. Two Words: Photo Tricks. I don’t really look like this! Are you kidding me? First we found a spot out of harsh light. We then worked on the angle. Several shots were deleted until we settled on this one. And then, the piece de resistance – Instagram filters. After that process, I could make a picture of my elbow look hot.

And then there’s the event itself. We bombarded our Facebook pages with event teasers and advertisements. We used words like “excited” and “thrilled” but we left out the ones like “terrified” and “freaking out.” We didn’t put up any posts bragging about letting our kids watch two straight hours of YouTube so that we could figure out how to sell tickets on Eventbrite. There were no pictures of the pile of laundry that was accumulating at the top of my basement stairs posted to Instagram. I most certainly did not tweet about the amount I sweat the day leading up to the event or the stress dreams I had about speaking in front of a crowd. Nope. To the world of social media, we seemed like two confident working moms doing it all. Ha!

So, before you go comparing yourself to pictures and posts you see floating around your social media page, it’s best to know the truth. Sure, I might have a special evening once in a while, but most of the time, I’m rocking dirty hair and jeans I’ve worn two dozen times without washing. And you better believe that those special evenings mean that I’ve dropped the ball somewhere else.

If you don’t believe me, allow me to share a video my daughter took of me literally licking wing sauce and blue cheese off of a plate – taken less than 24 hours after the aforementioned photo. Also note that I didn’t post this one to Facebook, even though it’s more “me” than a night spent in stiletto heels.

Video

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make that first photo my profile picture in case any ex-boyfriends happen to search my name…

WMDW: Fast Food Edition

Listen, no one’s nominating me for Mother of the Year. I let my kids watch way too much YouTube. I bribe them with treats in order for them to listen to simple directions. And we all know I feed them too much mac and cheese and myself too much wine. I have sung our bedtime song at warp speed for the last week and I didn’t even know my older kid had a day off from school yesterday until the night before. The one area I could feign superiority was fast food.

I can count the times my kids have eaten fast food on one hand. Three of those times, all they ate were a few fries. Each trip to a fast food joint was done out of pure necessity while finding ourselves in no man’s land on a road trip. I have never stopped at a local fast food joint on a whim and I have certainly never, ever brought fast food into my home.

Until tonight.

I have a lot of work to do. And the girls had dance class just down the street from a local hotbed of fast food restaurants. And I bribed my kids with their first Happy Meal. “If you get dressed immediately after class without argument, we can get a special treat.”

And now this is sitting on my dining room table.

wine and mcdonalds

I literally have nothing left to make me feel a false sense of superiority over any other mother. Well, I did read a story about a mother putting root beer in her baby’s bottle… I’ll hold that image close tonight. Cheers!

MMYFB: Another Mac and Cheese Post

Tonight, I changed into my running clothes in order to stand in front of the stove and eat my kids’ leftover mac and cheese.

I had good intentions. I really did. I was totally going to run. I put on my running clothes, fit my newly short hair into a little pony, and laced up my sneakers. Then I just checked Facebook “really quickly” and gossiped on the phone with my mom “for a bit.” The next thing I knew, my kids were whining about me feeding them because it was apparently past dinner time.

I still told myself that I’d run. Then, because apparently tonight we are living in an alternate universe, no one wanted any leftovers. Far be it from me to let leftover mac and cheese go uneaten. Seriously, has any mother in the history of boxed mac and cheese thrown out leftovers? No! Good mothers eat that shit directly from the pot while their children aren’t looking!

And since I am a damn good mother, I literally just found myself standing in front of my stove, eating mac and cheese from the pot, in running clothes I never ran in. Let’s be honest, this means I’m not wearing running clothes at all. I’m wearing stretchy, comfy clothes that I don’t have to pretend “shrunk in the dryer.” I’m also quite certain that the eating of the cheesy carbs has negated any last whispers of athletic motivation I had left.

leftover mac and cheese
What mother in her right mind would toss this?

Are you feeling bad that at 6:30 on a Friday night you’re already starting to drift off on the couch? Feeling guilty for ordering pizza yet again? Feeling lame that your wild Friday night consists of drinking wine and catching up on the latest episode of This Is Us (I’ll be right there with you in about an hour)? Well, Mama Makes You Feel Better tonight. Just think of a sad, delusional mother wearing running gear in order to shove cheesy carbs down her throat. I guarantee, whatever you’re doing is more glamorous.

 

Perfect on Paper

supermom

I have a friend who once dated a guy who was perfect on paper. Attractive, athletic, grew up in Europe, was Ivy League educated, and was working for an impressive firm in New York. He also turned out to have serious problems with communication and an internet browser history that was more than questionable.

The moral is, lots of people look fantastic on paper, but resumes, social media pages, or a friendly chat at the playground don’t tell a complete story. Still, we constantly make unfair comparisons. This was true when we compared boyfriends in our 20s and it’s even truer now as we compare ourselves to other moms in the carpool lane.

When we look at highlight reels of our peers, we can feel inadequate. As a woman and mother of daughters, I want to build other women up. I want to celebrate their accomplishments and provide other moms the accolades they deserve. But I’d be lying (as if I’ve never done that before) if I said that a little green monster didn’t infiltrate my thoughts now and again.

It’s totally natural to feel jealous. At least, it is for me. When I look at a mom who has it all together, I want desperately to feel happy for her, to acknowledge how hard she’s worked to get where she is. Many times I do. Sometimes, though, it’s just easier to feel deflated. Instead of looking at these successful women as an inspiration, I look at them as superhuman, someone I shouldn’t even strive to emulate.

And then, just the other day, I thought, “F*@k that!” I’m pretty damn good on paper, too. I work full time, write a blog, have had my writing featured in international publications, and am about to launch a local chapter of the Lady Project, an amazing non-profit women’s group, in my city. At the same time, I am raising two precocious, spunky daughters, volunteer at school once in awhile, run (okay, jog) pretty regularly, and try to get to a hot yoga class a few times a month. I have a circle of friends who are more like sisters to me and, with the help of incredible grandparents, my husband and I get more date nights than most. Also, my husband’s a stud and we genuinely love spending time together.

Maybe there are people out there who think I’m superhuman! I mean, on paper, that all sounds pretty impressive. If you’ve been following my blog for a while now, you know there’s more to this story. So much more.

Yes, I am successfully maintaining life with several balls in the air, but I’m also the epitome of a mom fail. I am a complete slob, I have anxiety about nearly every decision I make, I snap at my kids more often than I’d like to admit, and I might love wine and bourbon a teensy bit more than I should. If anyone takes a look at the “on paper” Teresa, they might feel inadequate.  If they were to see me right now, laying on my disgusting couch (seriously, one cushion has a smell), with my greasy hair up in a messy bun (not the cute kind), while I allow my children to go into their second hour of YouTube video watching? No one’s jealous. Maybe they’re starting to feel a little better about themselves (and a little sorry for me).

I am happy to announce the official mission of Mama Tries Blog:

To make all mothers feel empowered, supported, and inspired through life’s accomplishments and utter failures.

I want to celebrate women, both in their successes and in admitting their defeats. We are all part Supermom, but we are also all part Bad Mom. By admitting both, we can be inspirations and support systems to one another. Isn’t that what every mom needs? Well, that, a bottle of wine, and some sleep…    

Please stay tuned for a new blog series that brings the mission to life!

Mama’s First Meal Kit

meal k

Mama’s drinking wine tonight because she’s trying to convince herself that the novelty of a meal kit will result in her children actually trying chicken.

My children are picky eaters. I take that back. My older daughter is a picky eater. Her little sister is a big follower (seriously, that kids needs to learn some leadership skills). This means dinnertime without a drink is just basically masochism.

I tried to seriously pump up the picky one about meal kits until she was literally begging me to order one. Well, the day has come and the menu is chicken. Tomorrow’s menu involves mushrooms. These are two of her least favorite foods. I must also note that she’s never tried a mushroom in her life.

So, this wine is going to get me through the process of following a multi-step recipe to create a meal I am pretty confident my kids won’t eat. Cheers!

Liar Liar: Lies I Tell Myself

I’m a liar. I’ve admitted it before and I’ll admit it again: I am an equal opportunity liar. I lie to my kids. I lie to other adults. And today, I’ll publicly admit that I lie to myself. Hey, I may be a liar, but at least I’m fair. Here are my 5 most frequent offenses.

liar

I’m not drinking any wine tonight.

At 7 a.m. I am ready to face the day. I’ve got a cup of earl grey in my hands, the day is set before me, and neither of my daughters has sobbed because their sister is looking at them. I think to myself, “You know, maybe it’s good to take a night off once in a while. I think I’ll skip the wine tonight.” Come 5 o’clock and I’m trying to prepare dinner with one of my kids screaming in time out and the other crying on the couch because her sister just hit her for knocking over a block tower, and the only solution is sauvignon blanc. Then I tell myself that my dry day will be tomorrow.

mommywine

Organic mac & cheese is healthy.

Dehydrated cheese in any form probably shouldn’t be considered a healthy option, but the word organic is like a glorious invitation to lie to myself. You slap the words “organic” or “natural” on a box or wrapper and I’m willing to set everything I know about health and nutrition aside, if only to mitigate my guilt. If a company’s marketing department plays their cards right, I serve up mac & cheese or cheddar snack mix to my kids with the confidence of Jamie Oliver serving his kids kale chips and hand-battered baked fish fillets.   

mac n cheese

I can give my kids a haircut.

You know what happens when you mention homeschooling to a teacher? They start asking about parents’ teaching certifications or master’s degrees in the field of education. Well, guess who else has specialized training in order to learn their craft? In my time as an amateur children’s hair butcher stylist, I’ve transformed luxurious locks into an uneven bob and may or may not have given one of my children a mullet after a particularly unfortunate attempt to trim some bangs. Every single haircut I have given my children has ended in tears – there’s and mine. Yet, every six months, when their hair is getting a little long and ratty at the ends, I think to myself, “Well, I could probably manage a little trim…” And the cycle continues.’

mullet kid
You’d cry too if your mother made you look like a medieval page boy.

Someday my house will be clean again.

I have a friend who has been impeccably neat since birth. When we were in high school, her bedroom was immaculate while you couldn’t even see the floor in mine. She had a system to organizing her CD’s, while I once spent the better part of a week sleeping next to a pile of clean laundry on my bed. Now that she has three children, she has let her house go a little bit. Meaning – the horror – you might find a stray dish in the sink when you enter her kitchen. Someday, when her boys are older, her house will be clean again. Mine won’t. This does not, however, stop me from constantly  blaming my messy house on my kids, and crying that old mom lament, “Someday my house will be clean again.” Not if it never was in the first place, it won’t.

messy room
The kids are, truthfully, only about 60% to blame for this.

I’m not going to get upset if I read the comment section.

Yes I am. I most certainly am. Comment sections on the internet are where the world’s sociopaths like to come and play under the shroud of anonymity. They judge, they spew venom, they hurt, they enrage, and then they go on about their daily business while their innocent victims cower behind their computer screens and wonder what kind of world they are raising their children in. Every article I read on the Internet turns into a game of Russian Roulette. I hover my cursor over the comment section, thinking “maybe this time I’ll find some like-minded people and some mature discussion.” I won’t. It’s a bullet every time.

internet comments

You may be thinking that five lies isn’t so bad at all. That’s the life of a realist, not some delusional freak who lives in a fantasy world of her own creation. You’re right. Five lies isn’t bad. But I’d clearly be lying if I claimed that these are the only ones I tell myself. If I were you, I’d be pretty confident that a “Lies I Tell Myself: Part 2” was in the works…

Secrets of a Successful Mom: How to Manage Family Life Smoothly

By Guest Mama: Zara Lewis

If you’ve ever met a successful mom who hasn’t struggled,  she’s either not actually a mom or she’s in absolute denial that she, in fact, isn’t holding it together. And that’s okay – we’ve all got our coping mechanisms.

Taught that failure is the ultimate embarrassment and asking for help a sign of weakness, we tend to stumble and fall. Sometimes we fall so hard that our whole bodies and mind hurt when we try to get up. But once we do – the rise is as sweet as a Magnolia cupcake. But it’s hard, it’s so darn hard.

For all of you amazing moms out there, we get it – I get it. It sometimes feels like you are continuously failing, despite doing all in your power to make things happen. But, you are not failing. There’s no such thing as smooth operating – not when it comes to a family.

You are not alone; we mothers are in this whole jam together. To help you and your journey, we are giving you a few useful tips that will definitely have an impact on your family life.

Remember to Love Yourself

While you may think that you are doing just fine, you are probably not. If you spend more time convincing yourself that “I’ll be okay” than you spend actually being okay – it’s time you change something.

Remembering to love yourself is crucial. If you don’t, you won’t be fit for a functional life and your family will be affected.

Go back to what you used to love doing – writing, painting, DIY, drawing, singing, yoga, etc. – whatever has been relaxing. Go back to reviving your business, and do it from home. Renovate your home office, move from a standstill. You’ll be happy that you have.

What I did was buy one of those electric cargo bikes to blow off some steam and channel stress while working out. I’ve also reached out to my freelance employer and asked for my job back. I’m now 10 pounds fitter and much happier. On my way from work I can do all the shopping, while exercising and contributing to our family budget (again). It’s been only three months.

Establish Boundaries

Yes, you are a wife and mother and, somehow, it goes by default and without saying that you will be the one taking care of everything. Nobody’s denying your strength and capacity, but that’s not the point. The point isn’t to break – the point is to be fulfilled and happy about things that you do.

Don’t let anyone intervene with your “me” time. Ban the kids from your office, have a set workout time, or make a regular coffee date with friends. Let your husband take over while you go “away,” and do the same for him. If you set the rules early on, you’ll actually manage to have some time for yourself.

Know Your Family’s Rhythms

The key to properly designing your day is going with your family’s rhythms. Consider your children’s needs, your peak work hours, your husband’s meetings for the week, etc.

For instance, as I usually take a nap after lunch, I schedule all the work that doesn’t require too much focus for the afternoon and do everything that requires the most mental energy before lunch. If your kids are little, try to get them to sync with you to make your life easier. If, however, they’re already grown, consider all their habits and yours and make a schedule for the upcoming week.

Get Help

These are not the ‘60s and there’s no rule that says spouses, children or hired hands can’t help a mom out.

If you can’t go to your parents or in-laws for help, hire a student, or arrange a babysitting swap with neighbors. Use this time to get focused on your work, your leisure time, or fitness. Ask your spouse and the kids to help with housework or hire someone to come in and clean. You don’t have to do it all yourself.

Embrace Routine but Stay Creative

Staying on a routine is very important for both kids and parents. A healthy morning routine is crucial in starting everyone’s day right while other daily routines contribute to an efficient day. Nap time, leisure, self-improvement, work, hobbies, bedtime, dinner, after school, homework – they all benefit from routine.

However, don’t get too attached to routines, otherwise your life will start looking dull and suffocating. Be flexible. Routines change, naps go away, meetings get cancelled, kids become more proficient at chores. Shuffle things around so they benefit your personal, inner routine of, finally, loving yourself.

Dear fellow moms everywhere, your power is grand – don’t ever doubt it for a second. Your kids already believe in you, so it’s time you start believing in yourself. We’re in it together!

Zara Lewis (Twitter: @ZaraELewis) is a mom, fitness & yoga enthusiast and a regular writer for High Style Life. She is devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of life of her family and friends. She loves to share her parenting tips and is always open to learning some new skills, because for her parenthood is like going to school forever. She enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling and baking.

The First Leon: A Man Child’s Christmas

Mama’s drinking wine tonight because her third child is driving her a little bit insane. Didn’t know I had a third child, did you? You thought I only had two precocious little girls, right? Yes, in addition to them, I also have a man child.

That’s right, I have a 38-year-old man child living in my home, though, to be fair, I usually just refer to him as my husband.

What did he do to force me to reveal his true man child identity? He messed with Mama’s Christmas ornaments. Like he’s the sort of mischievous Elf on the Shelf that bored as hell creative moms have living in their house.

I bought some fun, festive LED-lit letters this week to jazz up our dining room with some Christmas spirit. I left the room for one minute. ONE MINUTE. And this is what I come back to.

He then proceeded to talk about how great it would be if we had a friend named Leon. He was dead serious.

Glass of wine poured.

 

An Uneaten Lunch

A single glimpse of my daughter’s lunch box brought me to tears this morning. It’s just a canvas case, clad in multicolored butterflies, and dirtied by peanut butter and the crayon she once used to proudly write her name on it. I saw just the top of it peeking out of her backpack and a wave of sorrow crashed over me.

Today marks four years since the Sandy Hook shooting. Four years since 26 lives, 20 of them first-graders, were snuffed out in a violent, senseless rampage. At the time, I was a mother of a two-year-old and a 5-week old.

Living in a postpartum daze consumed with diapers, feedings, and sleep schedules, I was somehow able to live for days seemingly unaware of the nightmare that occurred 3 hours from my home. I knew mostly what happened, but, perhaps out of sheer biological defense, I did not allow myself to fully register this cataclysmic tragedy. At a time in my life when a Target commercial could send me into hysterics, my hormones somehow came together to shield me from this event, knowing I was too fragile to handle its gravity.

It was several days after the shooting when reality came crashing down upon me. I happened across a letter written by Nelba Marquez-Greene to her daughter Ana, one of the first graders killed on that day. Her letter was a beautiful tribute to the little girl she would never hold again, but one line struck me to the core.

The layers of this are complex and while we may not agree on all pieces- perhaps we can agree that no parent, grandparent or caregiver should ever again put their child on a school bus only to have their backpack and uneaten lunch returned to them by an FBI agent and police officer- because their child was executed at school.

An uneaten lunch. Ana and her classmates never got to eat their lunch that day. Instead of being greeted by a child’s hug after school, 20 sets of parents were approached by FBI agents holding their children’s uneaten lunch.

For weeks I thought of these lunches. What do you do with an uneaten lunch meant for your child who is no longer on this earth? Do you eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that they couldn’t? Do you save the bag of popcorn as if it is a relic of your lost child? Do you throw it away?

For a few days, I had been able to disconnect myself from this tragedy, perhaps because the very idea of it was unfathomable. I was able to avoid the innocent faces that flashed on my television screen, willing myself to look away and not recall the color of their eyes. The image of an uneaten lunch? That I could not escape.

Parenting is difficult. There are days when I question every decision I make, from what I’ve served for breakfast to how I rushed through a bedtime song. I worry that I’m not giving my children everything they need. I lament that they don’t listen. I complain when they have exhausted my patience. I have made my parental rants, jokes, and self-proclaimed mediocrity part of my personal identity. Today, however, I remind myself that, while parenting is hard, loving my children is the easiest thing I have ever done.

Today, my older daughter is in first grade. She was sent to school, her lunchbox tucked safely away in her almost matching backpack. She was sent to school just like 20 other first graders were sent to school four years ago.

Today, I am a mother who must remain confident that my daughter will come home, as she always does, with her face revealing the evidence of a lunch that was eaten. She will give me kisses that leave me with the light scent of her cherry yogurt, and I will know how truly lucky I am.

Today, I will not get annoyed, as I too often do, that her lunch box is filled with crusts and dirty napkins. My reminder to throw her scraps away at school can wait for another day.

Today, I will be grateful for the privilege of packing a lunch for her again tomorrow.