Shock, review, and happiness.

Shock


Notice anything strange about this soap? Like the fact that it is unused? Yes, folks. I just unpacked this from one of my sons upon his return from 4 weeks at camp. All I can say is that I hope he gave the shampoo double-duty. Otherwise, ewwww. Just ewwww.

Review

I was sent a full size sample of the NEW Downy UNSTOPABLES™ from Vocalpoint, so fter researching to be sure it was safe in a high efficiency washer, I decided to give it the test of all tests.

Yes, I’m talking about the musty, filthy, disgusting clothes the boys brought home from camp.

I’m not big on a lot of scents, so I started slowly. The first load came out smelling amazing! So, I tried a little more in the next. And the next. And now, I might be hooked.

Yes, I’m still going to need to burn some of those clothes. They may smell fresh, but they’re never (and I mean never) going to get clean. But the clean clothes? They’re both clean and fresh and the boys’ rooms smell better than ever since I hung the clothes up in their closets. Win/win.

I am a happy mom.

Happiness

But the real reason for my extreme happiness? We’re all back together again!

Confessions of a Good-Enough Cook

Guest post by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple – the authors of Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood (which I reviewed last week – how cool that they wanted to guest post for me. Thanks girls!)

This is Becky’s sad truth: She’s a terrible cook.

OK, maybe that’s not entirely true: She can boil water, roast a chicken and even make risotto. But despite a few attempts to truly master the skill, she’s never quite gotten the whole kitchen thing down. Often, when she hears Hollee planning some extravagant menu, she feels a tinge of remorse: Too bad my daughters don’t get to eat the kinds of meals Hollee’s sons do …

Becky remembers hosting a play date when her oldest daughter was a baby — back when she was still vying for that gold medal in the Supermom Olympics — and deciding that she needed to whip up an impressive lunch for the other moms. One was a vegetarian, so Becky did something involving grilled eggplant. She spent hours preparing the dish, both the night before and the morning of the play date. The process made her miserable, and the dish failed utterly. (Who knew eggplant slices could look so sad and limp — or make everything around them so soggy? Not Becky).

The problem, however, wasn’t so much Becky’s culinary skills, although those were obviously a factor; it was her attitude. She was trying to show off, even though she didn’t like cooking and wasn’t really committed to improving. She was determined to fit some mythical image of the Perfect Mom.

She hadn’t yet discovered the New Perfect.

Flash forward several years, and here’s what we’ve both learned researching and writing our book on working motherhood: Perfectionism is a liability. And, when it comes to juggling work and family, it may just be our generation’s greatest liability. When we looked at two types of women in our data — those who focused on “being the best at everything” (the Never Enoughs) and those who strived to be “good enough and happy, both at work and at home” (the Good Enoughs) — you know who found more success, both at work and at home? The women who cut themselves a little slack.

The women who defined success on their own terms.

And that’s what Becky eventually did with cooking. She embraced her culinary imperfections and focused on the easy, healthy dishes she could do well — and let her husband do the hard stuff. She let herself off the hook so she could focus her time on the things that truly mattered to her. We could go on and on about our findings on motherhood and perfection; some of them really surprised us. But, for now, we’ll simply tell you what happened when Becky learned to accept the Good Enoughness in her cooking.

She wound up happier. Evenings became easier. And she took all the time she might have spent furrowing her brow over the stove and devoted it to writing a book.

Some might call that perfect. We call it the New Perfect.

Becky and Hollee’s new book, Good Enough Is the New Perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood, is available at http://amzn.to/newperfect . They blog about parenting and work/life balance at http://TheNewPerfect.com.

What is perfection?

Like many women, I was raised to believe that I could have it all. My parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be – accomplish great things – and be a wife, mother, sister, friend.

And I believed them.

I watched the younger moms in my neighborhood (including my Aunt Phyl, my across the street neighbor whose children I babysat for, and others) look happy and balanced with exciting careers and families. Honestly? It didn’t look all that hard.

Fine, I was young and naive. How could I have known?

So I grew up, went to college, and started working. I loved my job in advertising and quickly rose in the ranks. And in 1994 (wow, that’s a long time ago!), I was made a partner at Bozell Worldwide. I’d made it! The job was terrific, the people were amazing, and since it was just Andrew and me, it really wasn’t an issue that I worked 60 hour weeks and read trade pubs over the weekend.

In Fall, 1994, I was pregnant. How exciting! Now, I’d have the perfect career, a loving husband, and a cute little munchkin!

I toured daycare facilities and realized that I’d be happier with a nanny coming to the house. It’d be a breeze. So I started interviewing. While I was a little shocked and dismayed by some of the applicants, I found a young woman who seemed a perfect match. She started work when Davis was seven weeks old.

One day, I came home from work to nurse (I lived so close!) and found the nanny out back smoking while Davis was in his crib crying.

You can imagine my dismay.

My next hire was a dream. Jinn was wonderful, loving, sweet. (We’re still in touch! She rocks!) But, still, I cried like a baby when I came home one day and she told me that Davis’ first tooth was coming in. Why didn’t I know? It was so unfair that she made the discovery. And it was that day that I realized that I needed something to change. If I was going to be the mother I wanted to be, I could not be working long, long hours and traveling. So I gave notice and worked for months to make a smooth transition at the firm and then started my own business. The rest, as they say, is history. I have work that makes me happy and fulfilled, but I’m a mother first and foremost. Sure, my kids are teens now and the demands are very different. But I have built a world for myself where I can be their mom and feel great about it.

I just finished reading Good Enough Is the New Perfect by Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Hollee Schwartz Temple.

Oh, how I wish I could have read this years ago! I found real comfort (and did a lot of head-nodding) reading the first hand accounts of some really remarkable women – women who struggled with the same issues, the same struggles, the same frustrations that I did. What amazes me is how isolating it is to be in the throes of trying to balance (what is balance anyway!?). It feels as if no one has ever had to deal with such stress and angst. But it’s not the case!

Reading the stories in the book, I began to evaluate my current choices in a different way. Becky and Hollee talk about moms who think they are “never enough” or “good enough” and you know what? They’re right! They have

“discovered a paradigm shift in motherhood today: more and more mothers are losing their “never enough” attitude and embracing a Good Enough mindset to be happier, more confident and more successful. Filled with inspiring firsthand accounts from working mothers and drawn from the latest research, is a true roadmap for the incredible balancing act we call motherhood.”

So sure, I love research and love that it’s a big part of this book. But the reason I’m glad I read it and the reason my life will be enhanced is because I now know that I am good enough.

Doing nothing.

I’ve been putting my life out there publicly for a long time now. Sure, I keep a lot to myself. And yes, I only share what I want to share. Because, seriously there are some things that just should not be public.

That’s just how it is.

And I’ve been really quiet about what’s been going on with me lately. And that’s because I just didn’t know if I wanted to share. I didn’t know if I wanted the attention. Because for all my smiles and sunny disposition, I really don’t like it being all about me.

So, on Monday, I’m having surgery.

I’m having an Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. (Warning, it’s kind of icky to watch the video.) Basically, I’m having 2 discs in my neck replaced and having 3 vertebrae fused together with titanium.

And no, I won’t make the security bell go off at the airport. And yes, Andrew asked that question. Was I amused? Maybe just a little.

I’m not looking forward to the surgery or the recovery. I think it’s going to suck.

But I am looking forward to having pain-free use of my left arm. Being able to fold sheets, carry a stack of plates, sleep through the night without pain. Okay, I take that back about the sheets. I think I could be just fine without folding sheets.

Truth is, my activity has been limited for some time now and this really just has to happen.

What is my biggest concern?

Down time.

Yes, I’m supposed to take it easy for two weeks. No work. No driving (for three weeks). No lifting anything for quite some time.

I’m just not that good at doing nothing. On the other hand, I’m great at doing too much. True fact.

So if you want to think good thoughts for me next week, I’d be grateful.

Peace out.

A door closes, a window opens (or breaks).

When we bought this house in February, we had a few things to do to make it ours. Paint. Move a few cabinets. Replace some (really disgusting) carpet. And our contractor said that we needed a dishwasher. The one that was here was pretty darn corroded. Ewww.

So, he went to Southern Sales and picked one up. Can you believe I did that? I just said, get the nicest model you can in our budget. And it wasn’t a big budget.

Yet, he came back with a really nice Eurotech. Sweet, huh?

I loved it. Very European. The only drawback is that it was a little hard to open. (Just ask my mom!)

And then, yesterday it happened.

Someone (and I’m not naming names) pulled the handle hard and it broke off.

I’m not kidding. Now the dishwasher will not open. We have to replace the whole top front assembly.

So now, I’m washing dishes by hand. (And yes, we not only have 5 in our family, our personal chef/Andrew uses more pots and pans per meal than the average bear.)

But I’m kind of enjoying it. I know, crazy, right? I just get in the zone and wash.

And I channel back to Mrs. Leffler, my home-ec teacher in junior high who taught me this song (to the tune of Yankee Doodle):

Glasses first and silver next and then the dishes after. Then the cutlery then the pots and you will finish faster.

And you know what? It works.

Suzy Homemaker, signing off. G’night!

Being a good example.

I slammed my door today. The door to my office.

I was frustrated. My computer was acting up. Andrew and the boys were having fun in the living room. Playing a game. Music blaring. I couldn’t concentrate. I was pissed that I wasn’t having fun and they were. I had work to do. I was behind. With no end in sight.

I called out for them to turn the music down.

No response.

I tried again and again.

And I slammed the office door.

Was it mature? A good example?

No.

But it sure felt good.

Being.

It’s a quiet Saturday morning.

Looking out the window, I see the wet leaves gently swaying. The coffee is good and strong.

Still in my pj’s and surrounded by the cats, it’s so peaceful.

When I realized that Andrew and I would have a whole Saturday to ourselves, I imagined us going to flea markets and antique shops. I imagined heading to Bethesda to see the art fair and to go shoe shopping. I imagined a lovely al fresco lunch at a charming cafe.

Sounds dreamy.

But when we woke up this morning in our new home, alone for the first morning ever here, all bets were off.

We marveled at the peace. At the view. At the opportunity.

To just be.

Sure, we might venture out at some point.

But for now, I can’t imagine any place I’d rather be.