On Turning a Half a Century Old

Upon turning a half a century old, I have a lot to reflect on. Some good, some bad, but all valuable in its own right. Does life really begin at 50, or is it basically just the beginning of the end?

On turning a half a century old, reflecting on good, bad, and valuable lessons. Does life really begin at 50, or is it just the beginning of the end?

I remember, vividly, the day I turned 25. I was depressed…so depressed. I knew, as the not-so-happily married mom of one almost four-year-old daughter with a “real” job and real bills, that I was no longer a kid anymore as soon as that clock struck midnight. I remember the week leading up to that day, crying regularly, knowing that day was the “beginning of the end” for me. I remember staying up until the clock turned, just to see if I felt different. I totally did. I felt grown, I didn’t feel like I was in a good place, and I was depressed as hell!

That year, my mom helped my then husband and friends in my neighborhood host a party for me. By host, I mean she basically planned and paid for it. She was worried about me. We still call it Suicide Watch 25 because it was THAT BAD in my mind. So bad. I really wanted to be a Toys ‘R Us Kid forever. The party happened, it was fun, and obviously, I didn’t commit suicide (because that would have been just a bit too dramatic, even for me). Life went on.

In fact, life’s gone on for me for an additional 25 years. The ups, the downs, the MANY more kids, the divorces, the marriages, the job changes. I’ve handled them all like an “adult” because that’s what I am and it’s what I’ve been since that day 25 years ago.

So, 25 years later (THE WHAT? I cannot be 50), I’m still trying to figure out this adulting thing. I’m still depressed about it, at times. I still long for that day, the one that lasted for a full 24 hours before that clock struck midnight, 25 years and one day ago.

My husband says I should wear this age with a badge of honor. A lot of people “don’t make it” here (well thanks, babe, that’s depressing). Not many have raised as many kids, have accomplished what I have, still look as good as I do (his rose-colored glasses are so refreshing to me, y’all), and a lot of people still don’t have their shit as together now as I did back then.

Sure, easy for him to say since his badge is 10 years younger than mine. Whatever. Grain of salt, but I love his sentiment and I definitely try to take his words, and sentiment, to heart.

But still, I’m 50 y’all. FIFTY. A half a century. I’ve seen a lot of shit in my life. I’ve seen global walls come down, and global walls go back up (thanks good and bad U.S. admins). I’ve seen my babies be born and grow, I’ve had my heart broken, I’ve seen failing health in family members, and I’ve witnessed the birth of my third generation. Literally, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days…OH, you know.

My life’s been a good life. The wait for the rollercoaster always seems long and annoying, but it’s always worth the ride. Sure, I still get as depressed as I did 25 years ago about taking this adulting thing to a new level, but (other than the wrinkles) I don’t think I’d trade any experience (good or bad), any bit of knowledge I’ve obtained, or any nook and cranny of this long, crazy life for anything in the world. I could ditch the heartache (that’s a song for another time), I could ditch the aches and pains that catch up with you from being a tomboy on the playground in elementary school, a cheerleader in the 80’s, the ex-wife of an abusive crackhead, the mom of four kids by c-section and two kids by marriage (step parenting is *super fun*), but I would NOT be the person I am today if I skipped any of those stages in my life.

I’m a pretty freaking awesome person, if I do say so myself.

Do I wish I were a younger me? You bet your ass I do. I was gorgeous back then, but in a way, I’m more gorgeous today (I just have to be a little more inventive when I take selfies for you to see that on the outside). Do I wish my clock weren’t ticking so quickly? We all do. I still have littles to raise, a husband to care for and love, a family that means SO much to me, and work goals I need to accomplish.

Am I ready to give up? Hell no! I’m middle aged in my mind. I watch Good Morning America, people live well into their 100’s. It’s my turn to do this 25 year old depression again, and then again…again.

So, if you see me today, know that I’m fragile. I’m dealing with half a century of emotion…of love, of joy, of experience, and of pain. Understand that I might not be “myself” today, but tomorrow, when that clock strikes midnight again, we’re all cool. Be gentle with my heart. Today, as odd as it as it sounds, I’m feeling 25 again and I’m just trying to figure out where to go from here in this next chapter of my life.

Today, I turn 50, and I’m just not certain how I feel about turning a half a century old, you know?

On Raising 2 Kids on Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

For what it’s worth, I’m just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

For what it's worth, I'm just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

I’m raising two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and it’s weird, y’all. So weird and challenging. By spectrum, I’m not talking the autistic spectrum that some of my friends (man, those mommas are superheroes in my book!) have to deal with; I’m talking spectrum as it’s defined in Webster, just in general.

Spectrum: 

Used to classify something, or suggest that it can be classified, in terms of its position on a scale between two extreme or opposite points.

Two extreme or opposite points? Yes, that’s my Kylee (Bug) and Zachary (Bubby) to the millionth power. They are at opposite points in everything…eating habits, vocabulary, scholastic skills, social skills, clothing preferences, futuristic goals…you name it, one is red, the other is violet…just like the opposite ends of the rainbow spectrum.

As a mom, the daily struggle is so real, it’s exhausting. How do you address their differences without hurting the other? How do you teach them academically without confusing one or losing the other’s interest? How do you cut up with one’s friends, while realizing the other doesn’t really have any? How do you celebrate one’s grades without making the other feel less? How can you tell one to finish the food on their plate while you tell the the other (the picky one) that you’ll get them something else because you completely understand?

How do you balance it all, knowing you love them both equally, but knowing that, although they share the same DNA, their makeup is so completely, utterly different on so many levels?

HOW?

I know you’re going to tell me that every child/person is different, and you’re completely right. I have six children of my own, and although they are all unique in their own way, no two people/children in my life have ever been more dissimilar than the two I’m raising right now. And yet, thankfully, they love each other, as they should. But they’re so different.

Kylee loves all food except for shrimp, bananas, ribs, and American cheese. Zach eats no food other than peanut butter and honey sandwiches, chicken patties (no nuggets), cereal, pizza (not homemade, and the gooey cheese of good pizza grosses him out), and spaghetti (only mine).

Zach has the vocabulary of an intelligent 40 year old; Kylee struggles to understand what he’s talking about on a daily basis.

Kylee struggles with school, standardized testing (don’t get me started), getting along with teachers and authority figures in general, and homework. Zach is a straight A student who is off the chart on standardized tests (like he brings additional funds into the school with a handful of others), is a teachers’ pet, and comes home and willingly does his homework daily, even before playing his beloved video games…all on his own.

Kylee has a more active social life than I did at the age of 21, while Zach struggles socially because no one his age seems to understand him, nor share his interests (that one really breaks my heart!).

Kylee loves wild, bright clothing while Zach prefers plaids and khakis, or plaid with plaid (even better).

Kylee wants to swim with the dolphins when she grows up (that’s a cool aspiration, I must admit), while Zach aspires to be a game developer (totally cool as well, my kids are pretty bad ass) or an engineer.

The spectrum is covered in my house, but it’s so very rough.

Praising Kylee’s eating habits while not making Zachary feel like he’s less because he’s picky like his mom…is a struggle.

Fostering Zachary’s love of words while not trying to lose Kylee in conversation…is a struggle.

Hanging Zach’s straight A report cards and test scores on the refrigerator while trying to explain to Kylee that she IS enough and she’s raised her grades by 2, 3, 7, 10 points (she tries hard most of the time, y’all!) is the hugest struggle of all (but I do continue to encourage her and her report cards are hung right next to his for the record!).

Allowing Kylee to have her friends spend the night, or accepting another sleepover invite, while I hear from Zach’s teacher that he is struggling socially is both invigorating (that she’s so popular) and heartbreaking (because he’s so funny and it’s not his fault that other “kids” don’t get him) all at the same time.

For what it's worth, I'm just a mom raising 2 kids on opposite ends of the spectrum and the struggle is real. Every day life poses challenges that only other moms on this rollercoaster can understand!

This all might sound superficial to you in light of today’s tumultuous times, unless of course you are the parent (and I know you’re out there) of two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. I don’t know if I’m asking for help, or just venting. I just know I’m exhausted and I want them, both of them, to always feel like they’re enough (they are so enough) in this world and it’s an exhausting challenge on a daily basis to raise such opposing personalities in the same space, at the same time.

I love them both, equally, and I hope they always know that. I love how they love each other no matter how much they fight and I hope that they’ll always support and love one another, despite their opposing sides of the universe.

One day, although they’ll always be horrifically different humans, I hope they lean in and help each other to fit in better in the areas they don’t belong. One day, I hope they notice that I was always in their corners and that I struggled to foster their differences, no matter how real that struggle was. I hope that they, some day, read this and know that, no matter what, I tried…I always tried…to raise two kids on two opposite ends of the spectrum as fairly, and as lovingly, as I possibly could! They’re both important in their own right. I love them both, differently and equally, despite their differences.

I hope they know I know they’re amazing, both of them. Their similarities, and their differences, make them the beautiful people that they are now, that they will always be. Only a mom can see this, you know?

Are you raising two (or more) children on opposite ends of the spectrum? If so, please tell me how you deal with it because it’s rough, y’all, and I just want to do the best that I can for the little humans that I’m raising now…on opposite ends of the spectrum.

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

Just so you know, I did receive product from Oriental Trading Company to facilitate this Mardi Gras home makeover, but I promise I’d be sharing our DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor as I do every year, regardless. As always, all opinions are entirely my own.

From beads, to lights, to masks, to archways, and more, DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor is way more fun and affordable than you might think! [ad]

As soon as you walk in my front door at this time of year, you know that we’re approaching the Mardi Gras Celebration! Every nook and cranny is adorned in DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor so that our house dazzles in the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold. It’s a little gaudy, it might even be a bit over the top, but it sure is a whole lot of fun, and we love it! From masks, to beads, to archways, and more, if you’re looking to decorate your home to celebrate this year, it’s way more affordable than you might think!

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

Mardi Gras is right around the corner, and I couldn’t be more excited. Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, has a moveable date that occurs on any Tuesday between February 3rd and March 9th. It’s always the day before Ash Wednesday, and falls precisely 46 days before Easter. For those of us who live in Galveston, it’s nothing short of a huge celebration that we look forward to each year!

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

Our latest decoration is nothing short of amazing. Pictures do not do it justice, but this 3D Bourbon Street Mardi Gras Archway that stands large and in charge in our living room over the TV is pretty freaking awesome and the perfect pièce de résistance (see how I went all French right there?) to everything else that’s going on in the house right now. This would be perfect if you’re hosting a Mardi Gras party this year because it would be great with a backdrop behind it for your guests to take fun photos in front of.

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

The decorations don’t have to be lavish, because honestly, Mardi Gras is all about the lights, the colors, the masks, and the beads; all of which are quite inexpensive and they’re the simplest way to set the mood for the occasion!

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

These backdrops we have on a few walls throughout the house are always a huge hit! I have this one behind the couch that I work from and every video meeting feels like a party because this is what everyone sees behind me. Shouldn’t every meeting feel like a party? I think, yes!

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

Our Mardi Gras DIY Dress Up Station is always a hit. This mantlepiece is fun because it’s simple to put together, it’s colorful, and if you’re having a party, your guests can just grab a mask and/or some beads and be dressed for the occasion.

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

Obviously, no self-respecting islander would let their Tiki Bar go unadorned for the celebration. Again, just some simple beads and masks turn this spot into a fun and festive place to gather.

DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor

It doesn’t matter where you live, it doesn’t matter if your area of the nation celebrates Mardi Gras or not. You really don’t want to miss the chance to celebrate this holiday because it’s just that fun! Make your own party, whether it just be a small gathering with your family or a big shindig with friends, it’s super easy and affordable to turn your home into a venue that just screams celebration!

If you’re still looking for DIY Mardi Gras Home Decor before Fat Tuesday rolls around, there’s still time. This year, Mardi Gras is running from 2/18 to 2/28/17. Celebrate, have fun, and enjoy the colors. If there aren’t any parades in your area, make your own! How do you Mardi Gras?