Binge

I am a binge-er.

I binge on most everything you can think of (except, maybe that…I’m too busy bingeing on dreams of sleep to that to a binge-level).

I binge-watch TV. Netflix? It was made for me. I used to binge-watch Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy and Friends because I had those series on DVD…but NOW?! Now I can binge-watch EVERYTHING. Whole seasons, whole series one show after another after another after another after another – there is NO END to how much I can binge, and all without changing a single disc or getting off the couch. DREAMY.

Truth.

Truth.

I binge-read. Books, blogs, gossip, magazines – I devour the written word. Some of it is escapism, which our dad would get SO mad about when I was younger, and some of it is pure curiosity (hello, how does Brangelina do it??). But most of it is an unadulterated love and comfort with the written word. Bad day? Read. Bad week? Read. Scary thoughts? Read. Lists won’t shut up in my head? Read. Want to be awed and transported and thrilled and moved? READ. And I can read a whole book in one sitting. When I was growing up, our mom would buy me books specifically for vacations at the cottage, telling me not to read any of them until we got there. I’d always have them read before we even got in the van to make the drive. I limit how much I read now, because an adult stuck in a book all day and all night long does not a good parent make.

I also binge-surf, which can lead to trouble with watching children. There have been times I’ve been scrolling through a Pinterest rabbit hole and realized someone has been calling my name for a minute or so. Tricky. Luckily, I hear screaming through all of the project- and recipe-wishing.

But the biggest binge that causes the most problems for me, is binge-eating.

I am the queen of drowning my sorrows, my boredom, my anger, my anything-feeling in food. And more food. And more food.

GET IN MY BELLY.

GET IN MY BELLY.

I can eat 2 1/2 pounds of chicken wings in one sitting…after eating a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of Oreos…after a whole meal. I can eat a whole bag of M&M’s…you know, the bowl/party size…in one go. I can totally eat a whole loaf of freshly baked bread, or most of a batch of cookies, or a bag of chips, or 4 chocolate bars (Snickers, Wunderbar, KitKat and Coffee Crisp), without breaking a sweat.

Do I feel like crap afterwards? Absolutely. Am I consumed with guilt and shame when all the food is gone and my belly aches and my head hurts and I know (I KNOW) I’m going to have a sugar/food hangover the next day? Yes. But does that stop me in the moment? When I’m hurting or unhappy or ridiculously craving crap after eating well all day? Nope. Not one bit.

Because I feel like there is something missing inside of me. I feel like there’s an empty cavern, aching to be filled, and so I do. I fill it. With all the food.

Of course, this is why I am chubby. This is why I am overweight. This is why my butt has more jiggle, and not in a Kardashian way, but in a dear-god-think-of-the-chairs kind of way. And it’s the reason that I feel like crap more often than not.

I had it under control after my miscarriage and after Isaac was born – exercise and healthy eating and sleeping and hobbies filled my time and space between parenting and housewife-ing. Not only was there no time or energy for binge-eating, but I filled up that empty hole in my face and brain with endorphins, friendship, and fulfilling activity. I lost 30 pounds. I was fit. I felt fantastic. And I wasn’t tempted as often and when I was, I wasn’t sucked into eating all the food all the time.

But this May I ran a half-marathon…and it was really hard and it took a long time to recover from it mentally and physically. I took a break from running and exercising for about a month…just in time for me to severely roll my ankle…twice…and lead me to be unable to put any weight on it for weeks. Which lead to more laying around, hating life, and wishing I were anywhere but on my couch.

So the hole in me grew…and grew…and the monster inside that wants all the chocolate and crap food started screaming again, demanding to be fed, demanding to be noticed and heeded. To answer the cries, I did what any smart person would do. I caved. I gave in. I fed it all the food in the world.

Now, my pants are tight. And my back has more rolls. And my arms feel flabbier. And the hard as rock calf muscles in my legs have been replaced by marshmallows…literally.

I sank. I’m sinking. I’m drowning in the itch for the binge, for the feeling of being so full I can’t move and something else hurts instead of the hurting that started it all.

I refuse, though, to go down without a fight. Refuse to let the monster and hole consume me. I don’t want to be that person again. I don’t. I want to be strong, and fit, and enjoy food, not look at it like a means to an end. I want treats to be treats and not the regular nighttime ritual. I want sugar and chocolate to be the exception, not the rule. And I want to stop feeling like all the food in the world must be eaten.

So, I’ve started doing things a little differently.

I’ve stopped buying crap. No more chocolate-bar or chip or junk-food runs after the kids are in bed. What we have in the house is what we have in the house, and since I don’t buy all the bad stuff during our regular grocery shop, there is no more crap here.

I’ve replaced eating with drinking…green tea. At night, when the craving to consume the world comes over me, when my stomach is desperately trying to convince my brain that I’m STARVING even though I just ate a good meal, I turn to drinking a cup of tea. Not only is it good for me and calorie-free, but it gets me all warm and sleepy, perfect for going to bed (unlike the sugar and caffeine rush from chocolate and crap I’d get from binge-eating).

And the big one? I’ve started MOVING again. I’m walking in the mornings. I HATE how I feel while I’m doing it – I ran over 21 km, people! A walk shouldn’t kill me. But, I don’t make the twice-daily trek to school anymore (which racks up about 4 km while pushing 25-55 pounds in a stroller), and I don’t go running anymore, so, I’m walking in the morning, with the goal of running again in September (giving my ankle plenty of time to really heal before I start pushing it). I’m resentful of how far I’ve fallen, but I know that getting it back little by little is the only solution.

Now, I need to know – do you binge? Or do you have magical self-control? And if you do binge, what are your tips and tricks for keeping your head above the water? Because I know at some point, I’m going to want to put all of the things in my mouth again…and it will be SO hard to say no.

~ Julia

Hate is a strong word

But, I’m going to use it.

I HATE CLEANING.

So glad to get that off my chest.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a job well done, I love meeting other people’s expectations (I’m a people-pleaser), I love just being able to cook without having to Jenga my kitchen first, I love walking on my floors and through my hallways and not tripping or dodging or obstacle-coursing around. I do. I really, really love it.

BUT.

I HATE CLEANING.

The only thing I hate more than having a dirty house is cleaning.

It was always this way. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. My mother, my poor cleaning mother, will tell you that my room was ALWAYS the messiest. ALWAYS. That if you could see floor it was a good day. If laundry made it near my closet, I was a success. That she hounded me about my disaster of a room more than anything else. It was my worst trait, my most horrible habit, my cardinal sin. I was a good kid. I was a MESSY kid.

Remember when I asked you to clean your room and you told me, "No!" and slammed your door? Well, I donated all your toys so now you won't have to clean your room anymore.

When Ben and I moved into our first apartment, it was the same. At the beginning, there was a novelty to cleaning up things, doing dishes in our sink, working together on tidying our space…until that second week. And then the shiny, the glimmer, the newness of cleaning up our space went away. And we kept it to the point where we could salvage it if someone came over, but generally it was an untidy mess that didn’t get cleaned. In fact, I had a friend comment after I had vacuumed for the first time since we moved in, that our carpet was kind of nice-looking when I vacuumed. That is how infrequently I clean.

Our house is the same. Before we had kids, we were slobby. Stuff everywhere. Dishes not done until they HAD to be done. Laundry not dealt with until it HAD to be dealt with.

Funny how to do your laundry infographic

Some days I would clean up our bedroom and Ben would be in utter shock and awe that it could be cleaned. Imagine that.

Wow! The house is so clean! Was the Internet down today, or is someone coming over?

Add some children, some mental illness, some more children, some sleep-deprivation, and voila! The cleaning has not only gone on a back burner, it’s not even opened. It’s at the back of the pantry, getting dusty.

At this point, though, I’m starting to understand cleaning. I’m starting to get what my mother was going on and on and on and on and on about when we were growing up. Things like, if you put it away you’d know where it is (Hi, it’s under my bed. Case closed.). And why put the dishes on the counter above the dishwasher, instead of in the dishwasher? And if it’s empty/full/broken/needs refilling, why don’t you do what you need to do instead of waiting for someone else to do it?

I get it. I still don’t LOVE cleaning, but I get that an organized home is so much easier (and nicer!) to navigate when you’re in a hurry and you’re running late and you need to find the elusive toy that will make the day instead of break the day. I get that walking across a floor and not having to brush the crumbs off is a nice perk. I understand now that stepping on and over and around stuff takes up precious energy. Energy I don’t have to waste on making my home a Spartan Race. I get it.

And yet…

My house is still a disaster.

I work at it. I spend hours washing dishes, sorting-washing-drying-folding-putting-away laundry, sweeping, steam mopping, dusting, vacuuming. I do. BUT.

And this folks, is the BIG BUT.

BUT I have these…children. And they’re not helpful. Cute, but not helpful.

My house was clean. Then the kids woke up. The end.

They don’t have a wonder of cleanliness to show them the way, so they don’t have innate cleaning genes.

They do have innate let’s-destroy-the-house-and-watch-mom-lose-it genes. IN SPADES.

There are a couple of scenarios caused by these adorably infuriating children.

The first one is obvious: I clean, they destroy. Sometimes not right away, sometimes they don’t wait, sometimes it’s concurrently – they’re messing it up AS I’M CLEANING IT – but they like to undo every thing that I do.

Organize and put away toys. Feel a sense of accomplishment. Watch as it’s taken apart in 5.6 seconds.

Fold laundry. Painstakingly put it in drawers by type of clothing and size. Watch as it’s tossed around like nobody’s business and BOOM can’t find socks.

Do dishes. Put all Tupperware away. Watch as children take out Tupperware, use it for rocks and dirt and goodness knows what. Watch as they put their sticky hands, mouth, feet all over it. Watch as it falls all over my not-so-swept floor. Cry.

Sweep floor. Feel like a superwoman. Watch as children drop cups of milk and water, pieces of toast with peanut butter, saucy chicken, spaghetti AND sauce all over the floor. Sob.

See? Brushing your teeth and Oreos, I tell you.

Cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.

The next one is not so obvious. It’s the one that mothers DON’T TALK ABOUT. They don’t share their secrets, so I’m asking you, dear audience, dear readers who probably excel at cleaning and everything around it, whose houses I could drop by and feel very bad about myself because you’re doing it SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME, tell me: how do you clean without letting your parenting fall all to crap?

I’m talking about trying to do the dishes, but then the baby starts screaming. Do you let him scream until the dishes are done, or stop and take care of him and then go back never? And what do you do with the toddler who would make MORE DISHES while “helping” you with dishes? Do you ignore them? Let the TV parent them? What do you do with them?

Cleaning with a toddler around is like raking leaves during a hurricane.

And when the babies are napping and all you want, all you NEED to do, is sit for a few minutes because you’ve been chasing babies ALL DAY LONG, do you pick cleaning and chores over rest, knowing the chores will make you cranky and unbearable later? Or do you pick the rest, knowing it will make you a mother you’re proud of, one that doesn’t lose her temper or get frustrated or freak out because I JUST CLEANED THAT FLOOR, COME ON!?

Could you tell me? Because I think if I had some ideas, maybe I wouldn’t HATE cleaning so much. Just generally abhor it, but still do it because the benefits would eventually outweigh the moaning and complaining that I’d put up.

~ Julia

Momfessions

I am a stay-at-home mom. In another life, where I had time to straighten and then curl my hair, where I didn’t drink coffee because I didn’t need it, and where there was far less crazy around me, I was a professional corporate writer. Super sexy, I know.

Now, I wear jeans every day, except bad days or days when the laundry is waaaaay overdue, and then I wear yoga pants. Or pyjamas. All. Day. Long. (Living the dream, right here).

My standard hairdo is a messy bun that inevitably comes apart as I chase babies, sit on couches under babies, and change countless bums. Oh, the poop.

My fancy, or the bit of sparkle in my outfit, is found in the pearl earrings I wear and the eyeliner and mascara that I count as part of my daily uniform. Without these three things, I feel tired, depleted, and run over.

There is an underbelly to this super-relaxed-yet-never-relaxed lifestyle that I want to expose. Things that I feel kind of dirty about admitting. And things that I feel other moms or dads or people whose job it is to chase children will understand. Here are my Momfessions (mom+confessions = I’m super smart).

I brush my teeth in secret. Sometimes. Not all the time, because technically I’m supposed to get my babies to brush their teeth all the time too. But sometimes, when I just don’t feel like hauling out four different toothbrushes, two different toothpastes, and helping one daughter balance on the toilet while the other one hogs the sink, I sneak a teeth-brushing. It’s bad, I know. And kind of sad. But let me tell you – I LOVE brushing my teeth. It’s like a massage for my mouth, it makes me feel fresh and clean even if I can’t remember the last time I had a shower, and I hate having bad breath. Or worrying about having bad breath. So sometimes, I quietly uncap the toothpaste, slowly turn on the water, maybe flick on the bathroom fan to cover me, just so I can brush my teeth without having to help other people spit or clean up the spit that just didn’t make it into the sink.

I have admired Sophie’s hair while she was puking. Sophie, my oldest daughter, is a puker. Any car trip longer than 15 minutes can turn into a full exorcism of everything she’s ever eaten, ever. We have a stock of Gravol on hand and she has become quite adept at puking into a large plastic cup while we’re driving and not getting any on herself. One time, when she wasn’t carsick, just flu-sick, I was holding her hair back as she heaved over the toilet, I noticed the stunning, natural highlights in her hair, the way her hair beautifully gathered and fell in her own version of a messy bun, and how shiny and new it was. And then I got jealous. Of my daughter’s hair. While she was puking.

I can fit a whole Oreo in my mouth. And then chew it without giving myself away. There are moments when the chief cook-and-bottle-washer needs a little treat. And usually those moments require that I don’t share the treat…because who wants to give their kids sugar right before lunch or right before supper or in the middle of the afternoon or ever, really. This skill can be transferred to spoonfuls of peanut butter, handfuls of chocolate chips, or cold chicken wings leftover in the fridge.

I would rather keep driving than go home when the babies are asleep in the van. Waking up sleeping babies is against everything I believe in and the quiet that comes from babies asleep in a moving vehicle is like no other. I wish that gas were free so I could keep driving forever, so that they would be asleep for longer, and it would be quieter for just a few more moments.

I cherish the quiet outside of the van. In fact, it is one of my favourite moments in a day when we have appointments we have to drive to. Normally, Ben has the van and, as a one-vehicle family, we walk or stay put. But on days where wrangling everyone out of the door includes seats and buckles on top of the usual winter clothing and negotiations, my favourite time is when all the doors are closed, when the screaming is contained, and when all of them are strapped into their seats. There is nothing more peaceful than being by myself for a few seconds, no matter how fleeting.

My favourite day of the week is Thursday. And not because of the hot TV on at night (Grey’s and Scandal…SO good). But because of the flyers that come in the local free paper. I love flyer day. It’s the day that I get to sit down and find the best deals on groceries, dream about shopping at the local crafting store with the 40%- and 50%-off coupons, and then satisfyingly recycle all of it, clearing away a pile of paper and clutter. LOVE Thursdays.

I hate that the girls like bacon. There was a time, not so long ago, when both Sophie and Lillian couldn’t eat bacon. It was too chewy for them and either they would choke, or simply chew and chew and chew and then spit it out. So having bacon and eggs meant that Ben and I got some of the delicious salty pig and the kids did not. Now they are older and their eating is more sophisticated and skilled. And they actually like it. In fact, Sophie will often ask for more than one piece and with all of the fabulous counting skills she’s learning at school, she knows when it’s divvied up fairly or not. Hate that we have to share our bacon.

Momfessional over. I’m not sure if I feel better or not.

Anything you’d like to share?

~ Julia