Mommy Madness

I had a long weekend.  A sweet precious wonderful weekend but also a hard one.

No matter how good things are with me and the trio over the weekend, I end up losing my temper because they don’t listen and disobey.

I come from a long line of temper losers.  And actually, my long line was worse about it than I am.  So I’m sort of improving on history, but mercy do I have a long way to go.

I don’t talk to any people in my life like I talk to my kids.  I love on them and hug on them and affirm them regularly, but I also get overwhelmingly frustrated and then I yell.  I actually tried to use other words for it that sounded softer, like raise my voice, but it’s yelling.  Maybe bellowing even.  Sigh.

We have good days, like today, where really the only shouting was the zillionth time trying to get the boys to stay in their room after bedtime and when we were crossing a busy street at the grocery.  But Friday I was fried and probably drained from a long work week, and my frayed emotions let small things that the kids did pick at me in a way that it shouldn’t have.

It seems to me, and maybe I’m wrong, there’s a lot of mommy madness going around.  I talk to my girlfriends who are struggling with it.  I read blog posts about different moms takes on how to be better, and I really do read and try to incorporate those suggestions.  Heck, there’s even a whole website devoted to one mom’s work getting over her temper with her kids.

I think it’s because so many of us mommies today are plum worn down.  Wiped out.  Spent.

So many moms like me have to balance a career, pressure to stay fit which requires time to work out and shop for organic kale (bleck), time for your husband, time for your kids, time for your extracurricular activities (seeing girlfriends, serving the community, etc.), time for your kids extracurricular activities, etc.  I just got a master family calendar so we could see who was doing what when.  And that is with the hard and fast cap on only one activity per child (just so happens this semester they all picked a different one) and significant limits on what we accept by way of outside invitations (we decline dinner parties, birthday parties, etc.).

I don’t have a ton of wisdom to offer yet because I haven’t mastered the art of how to love better and yell less.  But this is what I’m working on:

1.  State their age.  There is tremendous power when you speak it before you lose your temper because you realize they are 2 or 13.  This week I said to one, “would you stop whining and act like a five year old.”  I wasn’t yelling at the time and still it stopped me in my tracks.  Remember, he is still just five.  Five year olds whine.  You shouldn’t let him whine all the time or no one will marry him, but cut him a little slack

2.  Say you are tired (if you are).  I started saying recently, I am really tired and trying super hard to help you color your picture and make dinner, but it’s wearing me out.  Can you let me finish this one thing before we move to the next thing?  Fill in whatever it is, that’s just an example, but somehow it helps your kids realize you aren’t superhuman and that you’re doing as much as you can as fast as you can.

3.  Take a break from being called mommy.  You can’t do this often, and it’s only for moms of littles, but it ended up cracking us up and lightening the mood.  With all three yelling mommy, mommy, at the top of their lungs, all wanting something different or ratting the other one out, while you’re trying to pull clothes out of the dryer and check on the chicken in the oven and pull on some shorts lest the mailman see you in your drawers, well it’s all too much.  So I told them, “you can continue to speak to me but you may not call me mommy for five minutes.”  I just needed FIVE minutes without the whining of my name.  They kept talking, but I got everything from “Gindi” to “hellooooooo,” and it made us laugh a little and realize each one of us might need to relax.

4.  Laugh.  If there is any possible way you can break the tension with a joke or a silly face, it sure serves as a wet rag on a fire about to blaze out of control.  We try to create a funny moment just before things reach a boiling point.

I get it wrong every day.  I’m always praying for patience.  (That’s a terrible thing to pray for by the way.)  As far as resources go, there’s a lot of insight in Lisa Jo Baker’s 10 Things to Do Differently Before You Lose Your Temper.  I love her acknowledgment of the apology which I use often, but I want to get past having to apologize.  Not all the time, but I’d love to go a week without having their five year old impatience trigger my own.  The Orange Rhino set her goals much higher than that, and her website is filled with wisdom from when she set out to stop losing her temper for a full year.  I am reminded by Ann Voskamp that a parent must self-parent first before running all helter skelter judging her child.  And we’re all just a work in progress.

So cut them some slack.  Cut you some slack.  And try to work in a family nap.

Fashion Fridays: In Defense Of Pantyhose

I was visiting with a friend who has a big interview coming up, and we were discussing the right outfit for her to wear.  In the debate over skirt suit versus pant suit, the topic of stockings came up when she exclaimed, “Pantyhose are so 1985!”

Au contraire mon frere!

Pantyhose are so 2015.  Seriously, I get that most of us women don’t actually enjoy wearing stockings.  They have some serious downsides.  Particularly if you live in the South where it’s summer 8 months a year.  They can be uncomfortable, a pain to wash, hot, and they will run if you’re not careful.

But…they ADD polish.  If you had any doubt:

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You do not have to have Her Royal Highness in your title for pantyhose to make an outfit more sophisticated and smooth your figure.  I’m certainly not advocating for pantyhose every day but, depending on the degree of formality of your profession (teacher = 2, Wall Street investment banker = 10), you may need them more often.  Certainly as an attorney, I would never go into a courtroom wearing a skirt suit without stockings.

Here are some tips for when you SHOULD wear pantyhose:

1.  When you have selected a skirt or dress option for an interview.  There are likely a handful of professions where an exception applies, but not most.  If you opt for a sophisticated dress or a suit for a work interview, then wear stockings.  There are several ways to do it – with nude sheer stockings or with gray or black sheer stockings.  But don’t select a power suit for an interview and then forego stockings.

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2.  When you want to stand out.  Stockings don’t just have to be for conservative job interviews.  They can help you stand out as fun, edgy, quirky, or fashion forward.  Whether its opaque tights with a bright pop of color or sheer stockings with a retro dress, these can be just as important of an accessory as your scarves or necklaces.

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3.  When you want to up the polish quotient.  If you buy the right pair, not sparkly or fishnet or patterned, stockings can add an element of luxury.

4.  When you have a meeting with executives.  Dress for the job you want.  As many female executives as I spent time with last year, I never met one that wore a skirt suit without pantyhose (now many of them wore pants, as do I most of the time, but at events where I met them in skirts, pantyhose came along for the ride).

5.  When you have an evening event and need to lose 10 pounds.  The slimming effect of pantyhose is incredible.  Especially if you splurge on a pair of Spanx pantyhose.  They come in a solid variety of sheer colors and come over your ribs to slim from mid torso to toe.  I’ve had people remark on how lovely my legs look because they don’t even realize I have on pantyhose until I tell them.  For a cocktail event with a closed toe pump, I highly recommend them.

What about you?  Have I converted you from the anti-pantyhose camp?

Kate images courtesy of Ask Allie. Women in suits courtesy of Marie Claire.

Accommodating Change

I have been a lawyer now for over 16 years.

Thankfully, I experienced constant employment during that period although twice I wondered if that would be the case.  I have worked for four employers and have been in my last position for two years.

Why the employment history?  Well, during all 16+ of those years I have had an office.  You know, the kind with walls where you hang your overpriced framed diplomas and talk loudly on the speaker phone because you can shut the door.

Until yesterday.

That’s right.  No walls.  No doors.  Just open air all around the entire floor for me and my colleagues.

Holy crapoly.  (You know my colleagues are saying that even louder.  See my penchant for speaking loudly on conference calls noted above.)

Since this is a post on what is typically “Leadership Tuesday,” maybe I shouldn’t be so honest about the fact that I needed a brown paper bag when I saw the little cubby I would be sharing with a co-worker for five months until our permanent digs are ready (which will also be wall-less, but at least my wall-less space won’t be shared).  I was one of the first to arrive, so as I unpacked my little moving crates, I could see people’s faces as they walked in and surveyed our very new working environment.  By the time full-scale panic set in for the people in my little area, I started passing out hugs instead of paper bags (I only temporarily rose to the occasion).

Interestingly, we were watching Pollyanna in our house.  It takes us about three nights to make it through the movie, so when I arrived home last night, Day 1 of my new office down, we were in the thick of the glad game.  Do you know classic Haley Mills Pollyanna?  Oh, you must watch it.  I cry at the end every time.  In the movie, Pollyanna has had a hard life but her father taught her the glad game.  That no matter how hard the circumstance, you find something to be glad about.

Well, that Pollyanna knew something about successful leadership.  All the research actually bears this simple principle out: optimists lead well.  And change takes some serious optimism.  Whether you are leading the change, and casting your vision for the potential on the other side of working through the change, or whether you being caught up in the change, and engaging others to keep moving even when the change is remarkably unsettling, it is critical to keep a positive outlook and even a sense of humor.

If you are accommodating change in your life, then channel your inner Pollyanna (it’s there somewhere) and play the glad game.  Write it down.  Canonize the good because that internal voice will hound you with the bad if you’re not careful.  So here’s my glad game list from yesterday – not epically visionary for the most part, but glad nonetheless:

1.  I’m glad for the awesome new bathrooms.  Well, more specifically the toilets.  Y’all, don’t laugh, this is serious business.  There are two kinds of toilets: the kinds with handles you have to flush, icky germs, and the kinds that automatically flush and inadvertently flush too early and you get pee-pee water on your bottom.  C’mon, let’s be honest.  It’s happened to you, right?  Just nod your head diplomatically in either event.  But THESE toilets, well you just wave your hand over this sensor and then they flush.  Revolutionary in public bathrooms!  No icky germs and no early flush spray!

2.  I’m glad for my girlfriends.  I have some precious girlfriends at my work.  Friends like I’ve never had at any other job before.  Girls I’m excited to go to lunch with or moon over the cupcake shop together (and yes, I’m glad there’s a yummy cupcake shop – glad and sad simultaneously).  Girls I’m going to take a Pilates reformer class with because we like each other enough to show our uncoordinated, less than perfect self.  I love that we can just pop up and see each other and say, “hey, let’s run up the stairs for a cup of coffee.”  What a gift.

3.  I’m glad for being shaken out of my comfort zone.  Sixteen years in an office has been nice.  I am SAD my walls are gone.  But the people casting vision for the new campus (which is really beautiful, for which I’m also glad) designed it for the next generation.  To build bridges and increase collaboration.  I think there are going to obstacles in the legal world, but I also saw today that I did in fact bump into more people and ones that it’s good for me to bump into.  Even if it is hard, it will stretch me and that’s where growth comes, right?  From the stretching.  Moving into the learning zone as the authors of How Remarkable Women Lead put it for leaders.  Out of the comfort zone and into the learning zone.

So take a deep breath, fill that glass half full, and begin accommodating changes hurling toward you this New Year!

The Gift of Girls

This was a gift of a weekend.

And absolute cotton candy, pure joy sort of weekend.

When the babies were born, I bonded with the boys the weekend they were born.  Little bit took a little longer.  She was like a cat and the boys were like dogs.  She just wanted me to feed and change her, but the boys were all cuddles and cooing.

That has changed.  I mean, the boys are still like puppies, but little bit has become my favorite buddy.  Not as in my favorite child, but we LOVE hanging out together.

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At the last minute, Bray ended up taking the boys to the ranch to play with their cousins, so it was just me and my girl.  Friday night we ate at the mall (lord have mercy, I NEVER go to the mall), explored every inch of the American Girl store (she is all about dolls and loved the exploration without ever asking for one), and then shopped for a birthday present for a classmate.

When Bray is gone, I’ll let one of the kids sleep in our bed.  I figure that their interest is nearing its expiration, but for now it’s considered quite a treat.  Instead of staying up to get on the computer or watch t.v., I went to bed when she did and we read stories and snuggled up and just laughed.  As terrible as my memory is, I don’t think I will ever forget having our faces inches from each other’s and giggling until we had to go to the bathroom.  If I could bottle that moment, I would do it and take a sip every time I felt gloomy.

Saturday we were like women on a mission.  We had breakfast with one set of girlfriends, FINALLY got my phone after it took a bath on Monday, and then had lunch at a birthday party.  We napped and played games and looked for Easter dresses and watched a silly movie.

Sunday was a lazier day but was just as perfect.  We went to church together and at the end of the service she said, “Mommy, I want to say hi to the pastor.”  We have a new pastor and she’s only met him once, and I’m not the type to stand in line to chat with the pastor after church.  But wait we did, and as he got down on his knees to visit with her and she threw her arms around him in the kind of hug only a preschooler gives, I thought I would just burst into tears.  I am so grateful for my church and for knowing the people who lead us to know God more every Sunday.  So grateful.

We came home and painted the bottom of our crazy multi-color neighbors table and cooked and played more games, and she preached in the driveway on Bray’s workshop stool.  (It was hysterical. I videoed the event.  I won’t ever post it because it’s her thing, but trust me you would have fallen out.)

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We got cleaned up and in p.j.s and watched some Pollyanna while we waited on the boys arrival.  Oh we were so grateful to have them home.  But I am so grateful to have had these sweet moments with her.  I know she’ll probably hate me when she’s 14, so I’m going to hold on to every ounce of this.  Because mercy, it is just that good.  To quote her as we left the store holding hands, “I love holding hands with you mommy.  It makes me happy.”

Fashion Fridays: The Leggings Debate

When’s the last time you saw this?

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This afternoon probably, right?

I mean not at the office.  (Hopefully.)  But you saw it somewhere else this week.  At the airport or the grocery store or the birthday party or the movies.  It’s sort of everywhere.

So what’s the verdict on leggings?

This might be the point where I say all views expressed here are my own and not necessarily reflective of the most edgy fashion advice in the marketplace. I’m not 20 and I live in Texas and I have a career at an oil company – not exactly the hallmarks of cutting edge fashion.  But I do think I have a good sense about sense.  That’s right, a little common sense in a fashion marketplace that seems to be losing most common sense.

However, I don’t wear leggings and would love to master them because without them, as I’ve mentioned, wearing riding boots over my jeans give me elephant knees.  Here are the rules I have gathered based on my market research:

1.     Leggings are NOT pants.  If the occasion calls for trousers do not substitute leggings/jeggings/or any other eggings.  This includes anything work related if you have a desk career and are ambitious (in the best way).

2.     Cover your rear.  Y’all, there is nothing that bugs me (and certain of my friends) more than seeing someone wearing leggings with a shirt that stops at her waist.  Uh-uh.  No sirrie bob.  Cover your rear.  It may be a sweater or a long tee or a blazer but cover that up.  (See rule 1, leggings are not pants!)

3.     Test drive fabrics.  Leggings intentionally cling to you.  You may not have one spot of cellulite in which case you don’t need super heavy duty fabric but a lot of us, me chief among us, do have it.  And you can see that stuff right through leggings if you don’t test drive fabrics and materials.

4.     Don’t buy cheap.  Not only does the fabric often come too thin (see rule 3), but it doesn’t wear well, it fades or pills, and it cheapens your outfit.  Not to mention, all too often cheap comes in an assortment of bad patterns.  Please avoid bad patterns on your legs.  There’s WAY too many out there.

If you’re going to do leggings, here’s some great ways to do it:

The jegging with oversized top and boot. 

Perfect for running the kids to a party on Saturday or for meeting a girlfriend for shopping.  And think of colored denim when you’re investigating jegging options – a great way to combine several fun trends.

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My girlfriend recommends Jag Jeggings from Nordstrom’s.  Gap has an assortment, and they have them in black as well as denim.  From Anthropologie (for the budgetless among you) to Express, you can find a panoply of options just be willing to make returns if you buy on line.

Winter cozy.

Combine a patterned sweater and oversized scarfs or layers to make your outfit downright huggable.  For those of you in the great north, this look could work for you all the way til April.  For us Houstonians, we basically have one more month of this – by rodeo we’ll be done til next November.

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Sophisticated chic.

The best way to do this is with a gorgeous blazer.  Dress it up further with great accessories like oversized pearls.  (Are you dying for that gorgeous orange jacket?  I can’t find it!)

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The legging option with footwear other than a boot.

From chic flat to sophisticated pump – the legging can be paired with something other than a riding boot though that’s the look dominating the fashion field.

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So tell me, what’s your take on the legging?  Do you wear them?  What’s your favorite brand and way to keep them sophisticated?