Lowering My Expectations

I can't help but wonder if I've written this post before.

It's an on-going theme, really. I make plans, set expectations (invariably too high, both for me and for everyone around me). Then when life intervenes and falls short of my expectations of perfection, I beat myself up (and often everyone around me).

It should have been obvious, really. As I wrapped up my time in New York and zipped the final suitcase to get onto the plane, my expectations were sky high (no pun intended). I would have a full month to relax, re-connect with my family, decompress and re-center before beginning my new career adventure - and the next phase of our family life on the Left Coast. Every time there was a frustration or set back in New York, I told myself that everything would be better as soon as we got to California. I had images of Mary Poppins-like family bliss as The Hubs and I spent countless days bonding with our boys in the humidity-free splendor. I dreamed that the few excess pounds I'd picked up in the pack-a-palooza stressfest would fall off as I dedicated myself to eating clean and training dirty so that I could begin my new job in peak physical condition. I imagined rejuvenating our marriage as we had the time to slow down and truly enjoy each other, without the pesky day-to-day details of schedules and commute and homework and the like.

I am an idiot.

It never occurred to me that moving across the country was actually a BIG F*CKING DEAL. That the stress of leaving everything that anchored each of us, both individually and collectively, would naturally result in reversion for each of us. The boys immediately took to whining, complaining and using baby voices (my single biggest pet peeve is a fake baby voice). The Hubs is taking it all like a champ, but he's been thrust into a new environment after an ENTIRE LIFETIME living and working within the same 30 mile radius. And while it's great for me to be back home, the last time I called this place home was nearly 15 years ago. I was a grad student with no job, no mortgage and no real responsibilities - just starting out on the next phase of my career.

So today, The BadAssMama is lowering her expectations.

This isn't about admitting defeat. It's about being more realistic. Moving is tough. Moving across the country with a family of four is insane. To expect that we could have backflipped our way into a perfect life as soon as the last box was unpacked in our temporary apartment (or ever, really) was ludicrous. Today, I'm going to let my kids be kids (in all their whiny, at times irritating splendor). I'm going to give my husband space to find his way in a completely new environment. And I'm going to try to give myself the space and time to settle in - without the consistently playing perfection tape running in the back of my brain.

Wish me luck....

Family First

Today we laid my grandfather to rest. While it was an incredibly difficult day, I found joy being surrounded my hundreds of family and friends. I particularly found joy watching my children play with their first and second cousins. While they may not have met many of them before, it didn't matter. Family knows family, and they were fast friends.

A Love Story


This Saturday, we were set to celebrate my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. Last night, I had the honor of being with my 93 year old grandfather one last time before he went to be with the Lord.

One of my assignments for the anniversary party was to chronicle my grandparents love story - how they met, how they fell in love, how my grandfather proposed. With the craziness of the past few weeks, I only completed a draft yesterday morning.

While it may not be my best work (and I am too distraught to attempt an edit), it is the best tribute I can imagine to the love of a 93 year old man who raised a family of ten children with an 89 year old woman whom he called "his best girl" until the day he died.

I love you, Grandmom and Granddad.

Samuel and Barbara Smith – A Love Story

When we think of love stories, most often the plot lines of classic romantic films or Elizabethan sonnets come to mind. The love story of Samuel and Barbara Smith, however, is much more simple than that. And after 70 years, I think you can agree that the best things can indeed be the simple things.

Samuel and Barbara met in a school cafeteria in Oklahoma. Barbara, who was 13 at the time, was introduced to Samuel by a mutual friend. Barbara had never seen Samuel at school because, at the age of 17, he was regularly pulled out to work - as was common custom at that time.  After their introduction, the two had a casual friendship, occasionally meeting at school basketball games.

Shortly after their friendship began, there was a tragic car accident involving several students from Oklahoma City High School. Many of the students involved in the crash passed away, and the funeral became a focal point for the city. Barbara’s mother attended the funeral, and on her way home saw Barbara walking home with a young man. Upon further inspection, she noticed that the two were holding hands. The young romance was now public, and Barbara’s mother quickly made her displeasure clear. When Barbara returned home, her mother asked, “What do you think you’re doing?” At  the age of 13, Barbara’s mother felt that she was much too young to be in a relationship.

Time passed, and Samuel eventually moved to Northern California to begin his career as a carpenter. Barbara was accepted into the University of California, Los Angeles to begin her undergraduate studies. She moved from Oklahoma to California to attend school, living in the home of family members who owned property in the area. While Barbara was studying at UCLA, Samuel asked for her visit him in San Francisco. Their relationship strengthened even with the distance between them.

While Barbara enjoyed her studies at UCLA, she became increasingly uncomfortable travelling alone to-and-from school to her relatives’ home. She eventually returned to Oklahoma to be closer to her family. After her return to Oklahoma, Samuel asked for Barbara’s hand in marriage. She happily accepted and took a final solo trip to California by train to join her soon-to-be husband.

Seventy years, 10 children, 20 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren later, the love story of Samuel and Barbara Smith continues. While not the epic drama of your typical romantic novel, theirs is a love that has stood the test of time – standing as a testament to the power of simple, true love.

Just Another (Brand New) Day in the Life of a BadAssMama

Oh, hey there! Remember me? It's been about three weeks since I've been here. But let's be honest - it's been more like 3 months since I've written on anything that might even slightly resemble a consistent basis.

Let me explain.

As I mentioned in my last post, I've taken a new job. After 15 years in the entertainment industry, I've decided that it was time for a change. There are lots of reasons for that change that I won't go into here, but suffice it to say that when this particular opportunity came up, The Hubs and I had a heart-to-heart and decided that I would be an idiot to not go for it. And these folks must have decided that I'm as awesome as my moniker on this blog, so they offered me a job!

The great news is that it's an AMAZING company, with an equally amazing opportunity to contribute and learn and grow and show all of the professional stuff that I'm good at (including, but not limited to grammatically incorrect run-on sentences). The crazy part is that it required relocating The Hubs, the kids, Bailey the cat and Fishy Torres from New York to California.

Sounds great in theory. In practice, that shit was insane.

The past 6 weeks have been an object lesson in perpetual motion - even more so than my typical perpetual motion-filled life. There was the expected clean-sort-purge-a-palooza involved in any move, but the last time I did this I was a single 27 year old moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a room in a two bedroom apartment. I could pretty much fit all of my crap into one big suitcase and limited my company-sponsored relocation package to a bed, dresser and 12 inch TV.

This time, there was a house to sell, a new house to buy, 2 small children, 2 pets, an unreasonable number of cars (both people-sized and of the Hot Wheels variety), a 4 bedroom house worth of 15 years of stuff to pack and ship. There were doctor appointments and summer camp deadlines, wrapping up one job while prepping to start another. True, most of the packing was done as party of my new company-sponsored relocation, but there was still an inordinate amount of crap to do before our flight took off for the left coast on July 17.

And now we're here. While the journey was insane (I'm going to need a few more weeks of decompression before I can even THINK about describing the utter hell that was our actual cross-country move day), the landing has been remarkably smooth. The boys are adjusting nicely (who couldn't get used to a weather forecast of 80 degree days with 0% humidity as far as the eye can see?). The Hubs is slowly but surely finding his footing. And while I'm still in a heightened sense of alert (kind of hard to go from 60-to-0 in 10 seconds flat if you're not a Ferrari), I am beside myself with glee to be back home.

Last Sunday, I had a dinner meeting with 4 of my 10 aunts and uncles, to plan my grandparents' 70th wedding anniversary. This week, The Hubs and I looked for houses then got down to the serious business of re-connecting as a family after 6 weeks of pure insanity. We've gone to California's Great America, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and spent today lounging by the pool at our temporary apartment. I hope to spend the next few weeks before I start work continuing my East Coast decontamination shower (no offense), reconnecting with family and friends and preparing to throw myself into the new job.

I'm writing this from our roof deck (partly because it's awesome, but mainly because the Wifi only works here  or in Victor's bedroom where the router is. So much for the advanced tech of the Silicon Valley). The kids are sitting next to me eating Oreos in their pajamas after showering from the pool. The sun is shining, there is a gorgeous breeze, and not a cloud in the sky.

I could get used to this.

Just another (brand new) day in the life of a BadAssMama...

A Lesson Re-Learned

You would think that  I'd know better.

I have a major life transition on the horizon (for those of you who don't know, I have accepted a new job with an awesome company out West and am packing up the whole family to move from Long Island to California, like, next week). After many years of taming the panic/anxiety/depression beast, you would think that I would know the right way to manage this transition.

Be kind to yourself. Allot extra time to get things done. Be patient with your family. Make time to decompress.

Yeah, not so much.

How did this genius set herself up for a cross-country-move with The Hubs and 2 kids in tow? (Mind you, the last time I did this I was a single, 26 year old ready to take on the world with a fierce handbag and 3 hours of sleep). Things started off well enough. As soon as I decided to take the job, I made a plan  - including transition time at work, purging and donating excess stuff, finding schools, arranging temporary housing, etc.

The plan worked well for the first  few weeks. Now that we're down to the wire,  I am, quite frankly, a hot mess.

Instead of reveling in my last few days in New York, I find myself cursing the traffic and the smells of summertime in the city. Instead of appreciating my last few days in the office, I'm overwhelmed with trying to schedule time to connect with every person who has ever meant something to me. Instead of enjoying some much-needed downtime with The Hubs and my kids, I'm yelling at them approximately every 15 seconds for any conceivable slight and inconvenience (including yelling at BOTH kids this morning when they complained of achy knees and ankles after a day in the pool yesterday).

Yeah, I'm a hot mess.

I knew that things were falling apart after I rushed Victor to the hematologist this morning.  (He complained of pain in his right ankle. When it didn't pass overnight, we assumed it was a sickle cell crisis from the cold pool. It wasn't. His bloodwork is better than mine). As soon the doctor gave him a clean bill of health, I lost it. The tears began to flow and I couldn't hold them back. To the point that Victor looked at me like, what the hell is wrong with you, lady?

The understandable, but largely self-imposed pressures of the past few weeks had finally come to a head. I dropped Victor back at home to spend the day with The Hubs (no point in going to a half day of summer camp), and headed off to my doctor for a physical (because there is nothing more soothing than  having your blood drawn and official weight taken, right?). After an honest discussion about my stress levels, she made a few recommendations, wrote a prescription to help me get over the hump and reminded me to be kind to myself.

So I will.

Rather than rushing home to complete more of the never-ending-but-increasingly-time-limited to-do list,  I took myself to lunch. I took a seat at my favorite tea parlor and began to unwind over a cup of Sencha Green Organic. After an hour to myself (the indulgence!), I came home to watch the kids while The Hubs ran out to complete more items on his crazy-long to-do-before-we-move-NEXT WEEK list.

We know what we should do. But it is so easy to fall back into the same old destructive habits. Running ourselves into the ground just to get it all done (and done perfectly, at that), rather than taking time to check in on what we really need.

These final days in New York are a reminder of exactly what I DO NOT want in my life moving forward. I am not just building a new career in California. I want to build a better life for myself and for  my family. And that means consciously moving away from destructive, stress-inducing behaviors. I can get things done without sacrificing myself or my family in the process.

I don't have a list of requirements for this new phase of my life, but I definitely have a list of things that I don't want. I don't want to sacrifice what matters most for what matters least. I don't want to lose track of the days in front of me while frantically planning for the years ahead. I don't want to be so busy doing that I fail to get around to living.

This post is nearly as much of a hot mess as I am, but I needed it to be raw and real. The BadAssMama does a great job of smiling for the camera and keeping it together on most days. But I have come so undone in the past 2 weeks that I can't even keep a poker face. My emotions are on display for everyone to see. I used to think that was a bad thing. Maybe I needed a few (or a few dozen) people to ask me why I looked like I wanted to kill someone to prove to myself that I needed to slow down and take inventory of what was really going on inside.

I don't have a clear plan or next steps . But what I do know is that it's time to do something differently.

I promise to keep you posted. Warm thoughts and prayers are welcome!