What’s your legacy?

What’s your legacy?

“What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” —Hamilton, “The World Was Wide Enough”

When I was younger I used to think that your life wasn’t worth much unless you had acquired some sort of fame. I desperately wanted to be an actress; and not just because of the fame (I really did/do love acting), but I thought I could never label myself an actress unless I was famous. I think it was a combination of what my parents and myself considered to be successful. I truly believed that until I had “made it”, that I couldn’t acknowledge myself to be known as anything. And to be honest, it wasn’t until recently that I realized fame has no concrete affirmation of determining who you are and what your legacy is.

With the risk of sounding like a cliche – motherhood changed me, and not just in the most obvious ways. It changed me so deeply and cracked my heart open in ways I didn’t think possible. I feel like I see clearer now as it opened a whole new world of what’s out there and what it means to really live.

I recently got to see Hamilton for the second time. It’s amazing how one show can really pull at your center and drop you into a new part of yourself. I loved getting to see it a second time because I really had a better understanding of the story they were telling. It’s such a beautiful show that I was so overwhelmed the first time I saw it. I cried so much I didn’t know how to bring myself back to reality. But, this last show had my undivided attention. I felt like I really could comprehend the definition of legacy and what it stands for in each of us. It doesn’t matter how much money we make, how many friends or followers we have. What matters are the seeds we leave behind.

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It’s no secret that I still have dreams bigger than life; which I think is one of the most healthy parts of existing. But, I no longer feel that my life won’t be worth anything unless I’ve reached fame. My fame comes from behind the gray eyes of my son. From the raw hugs as he digs his way closer to my heart.  From the desire to play games, snuggle, watch movies, and just be together. He loves me.

I went to dinner tonight and I witnessed two young teens rush over with such excitement to their dad as he walked into the restaurant. Each of them jumped into his arms and gave him the biggest bear hug. Before stepping away one daughter held onto his hand and led him to the table, looking at his face with such love and adoration. It really warmed my heart. I can only hope that my own son will continue to greet me in this same way. I would be so honored for my legacy that I leave behind to be how much I loved my son. That would be enough.

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I’m Not A Regular Mom

I’m Not A Regular Mom

“Just taking my mind on a visit, back in time ‘cuz I’ve missed it.” – Blake Shelton

About a month ago I had the opportunity to be free of any sort of responsibilities for about 24 hours. It honestly was the rejuvenation I didn’t know that I needed.

If you know me, then you know that my teenage years were spent glued to TRL, googly-eyed over NSYNC, and dancing to my hearts content. If you could see me right now reflecting on this time in my life, you’d see me with a smile on my face. Anytime that I get to reminisce it takes me back to the days of being carefree and just simply having fun. I can still remember my first celebrity crush: Jonathan Taylor Thomas. I thought I was LIVING with his poster taped to my wall. But then Titanic made its debut. I moved on to Leonardo DiCaprio and dial up internet was all the rage.

My dad wouldn’t let me go on the internet alone (because of the pop up ads!). So he would sit with me as I printed pictures of Leo to put on my notebook for school. This is one of my favorite memories; it’s hysterical and honestly, what a guy!

Leo soon faded to the background the second I went to my first NSYNC concert. My parents took my sister and I; along with another family. Have I ever mentioned how awesome my family is? If not, now would be the time… they are amazing! I mean, what parents would willingly do this?!

Anyway, NSYNC (and the pop/boyband era) was the forefront and center of my life for a very long time. The best way I can describe it: fun. It was so much fun. I just had the best time loving them.

Of course as you get older life moves forward and the best of times become your past times. I still love music more than I can even describe. And I still will go to every concert that I can. Which is why going to see Justin Timberlake was a definite must.

I went with one of my best friends, who may just love JT just as much as me – if not more! 😉 We were on the floor right in the front of the stage living our best lives. Everything about it was perfect. The dancing, the stage, the singing, the band, the lights, the people. It was amazing. It’s really funny to think I have seen JT in concert too many times to count and he has no idea who I am. But he doesn’t need to. It’s just fun.

Coincidentally in the same 24 hours NSYNC was having their Dirty Pop Up shop in Hollywood. I had to go.

My friend dropped me off the next morning and I thought he’d be back in a couple hours to pick me up…. ha! Did you know that NSYNC still has thousands of fans?! I really thought I was going to be the minority. Boy, was I wrong!

I waited 7 hours (YES 7) before I finally made it inside. Luckily, I made 9 new friends who were so generous and kind. It really helped pass the time when one offered a bottle of wine!

I even met one woman who flew in all the way from Boston! We were almost to the front when I just about had a breakdown and wanted to leave but then cheers erupted. I quickly stood up to see what all the commotion was about – Lance and Joey had come! Honestly, if they hadn’t come I’m not sure I was going to make it much longer. They went inside the store for a bit and then made their way down the line. I wish someone could have recorded my face as they walked down – I know I for sure had a creep smile on my face!

After another hour or so we finally made it inside! Probably to an outsider it wouldn’t have looked like much, but to me it held so much nostalgia. They had many photo opportunities, new merchandise, huge blown up posters from past tours, and of course NSYNC music playing. I wasn’t expecting to feel so emotional but I was. It wasn’t even about the band anymore. It was about me and what my life was like and where I am now.

My son has no idea about that life and he will never know exactly what it was like. But I hope to give him snippets of who I was before I was a mom. I think it’s important to remember and to not let that person go completely. I truly hope he loves something bigger than himself one day, and I can be there to share that experience with him…as much as he will allow.

Before I sign off, I want to give a shoutout to the 9 other amazing ladies that I met in line. I will never forget those 7 hours (mostly because my legs hurt so much) but also because each and every one of you made it so much fun. I had the best time reminiscing about the experiences we shared. Oh and to the girl with an NSYNC tattoo – you are my hero!

Self Care Is Not Selfish

Self Care Is Not Selfish

I often say that it’s bittersweet sharing time with my son. At the bottom of my heart, I wish that I could spend every single day with him. But, I know that it’s not an option, so I choose to make the most of my time with him and without him. The first year of his life, I did not spend more than a couple of hours away from him. His dad lived more than an hour away and I was nursing him. Oh, and did I mention I had a really hard time pumping? I gave up on my pumping dreams when he was about 4 months old. Nursing was a really big priority for me, so we were attached (literally) for 13 solid months.

During the first few months of B’s life I was apart of the most wonderful mommy and me group called: The New Mom School. I met some of the most amazing women there; all journeying with me in our new role as “MOM”. I remember at the time a lot was said about taking care of ourselves, making sure we carved out time in the day to clear our heads so that we could continue to be the best mom that we could be. They called it “Self Care”. Self care? What was that? I was a single mom and didn’t have the luxury of self care. I remember wanting so badly to go to a friends birthday dinner without my son. I tried all day to pump and I just couldn’t. I had two choices: to stay home or bring him with me. I brought him with me. It was hectic and scary but we both survived. And it was from that moment on I made the choice to always bring him with me where ever I went (within reason of course). I didn’t want to be a slave to my home because I am the furthest thing from a homebody. And I also didn’t want to be a typical single mom who couldn’t enjoy her life.

When the time came for Braden to spend time at his dads house, I slowly started to feel like I got my groove back. I started to make plans with friends, day trips to LA and DIY projects at home. But, it wasn’t until Braden was about 3 years old where I finally started to feel like myself again. For a long time I really struggled with watching my friends with kids who were married going on these great family vacations, buying homes and new cars. I felt so behind. I wanted to stay home with my son, but I also wanted to start building a life for the two of us.

After I started working full time it felt like I was coming into my own. It was and still is a very tough inner struggle and a huge balancing act being a working single mom. I never want B to feel that he is missing out on anything because I work. I wish I could put into words how much of a juggle it is – but it is really important to me to be there every single second I have available. I have some friends that say I can’t do it all, or I can’t be there for it all, but so far I haven’t missed anything. And I will be damn sure to be there for everything. I know that in the end I am doing what’s best for me and my son. Even though I may not be where I wish I was but I know that every day I am working towards that goal.

With that said, when B is with his dad, that is my time for self care. I didn’t get much of it in the first few years of his life, but I think I’m making up for lost time! It’s not often I get to have a full weekend “off duty”, or really ever? But you better believe I will soak up the 36 hours every week, that I get to myself. It isn’t much, but I’ll take it!

And honestly, I am pretty damn lucky in the coparenting department.  Our coparenting relationship has not always been this way, but I am so grateful that we have made it to the place that we are. I know a lot of people tell me “I’m so lucky”, but this is not luck. We have both worked equally as hard to get to this place for the sake of our son (and our sanity). Without him and his wonderful girlfriend I wouldn’t be able to do some of the things I enjoy doing. Especially my fabulous weekend with NYSNC (more on that later!).It truly does take a village to raise kids – especially if you are doing it solo. And if you are, please take those moments you have to yourself to remember who you are because we were somebody before we became a mom. Self care is not selfish!

Before I end this I just want to say,  if you are struggling in your coparenting relationship, please know that if you truly want it to work, it can! I wasn’t sure we would ever be in such a good place, but we are, and I am so grateful. So please, stay hopeful and continue to do the work – you’ll get there!

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Moms’ Night Out

Moms’ Night Out

During school breaks my son gets to spend that time with his dad. I love it for many reasons; one being that B gets that quality time with his dad, and two, I get some “me time”. This past week was spring break – which meant I had 3 full nights with no kiddo! Every time I get a break I tell myself I’m going to take advantage and go out every night. But more times than not, I don’t do it. As the day (or night) gets closer, I end up longing to be at home either just lounging or during work around the house. However, I rarely am social with friends when my son is home with me. I don’t get to have him at home all of the time,  so I want to soak it up as much as I can. Plus, I have crazy mom guilt when it comes to leaving him; especially at bed time.  He’s in a phase where he really wants me home to put him to bed. I figure this isn’t going to be forever, so I do want to make the conscious effort to be there whenever I can. However, he was gone this past week so I chose two nights at home and one night out with friends… hey, it’s a step!

In my twenties I worked at a restaurant in Laguna Beach with some of my best friends. Many of us worked there on and off for many years; it was essentially our home away from home. If we would have been allowed to sleep there, I think we would have! The owners are a sweet married couple that always had their arms open for us to return any time we wanted. I had a lot of fun during that time of my life. We all did!

I was lucky enough to meet up with a few of my old friends/co-workers at our old stomping ground. We laughed so hard remembering all of our crazy adventures… Well, what we could remember of it anyway! Life before kids was such a different time. It’s always so interesting to look back on what our lives were like and how far we’ve come. You never think your life is going to change that much, but it does and it becomes a blessing.

While I got to escape from being “on duty”, I never feel like I’m “off the clock.” I don’t know if this just happens to moms or if it’s a parent thing; but my mind is never too far from my mom responsibilities. It’s really hard for me to turn that switch off and completely let go. Not that I’m being paranoid or I’m worried about my son, but it’s more that my whole being is a mom now. While I have an identity outside of being a mother, “momming” is a huge part of my soul and I genuinely love that part of my self. But, I know I really need to work on being more social in adult setting. It’s really hard for me to do that – but I’m working on it!

When or how do you make time for yourself? And when you do; do you ever feel like you can just turn off being a mom? If so, how do you do it?! Leave a comment below – I’d love to hear!

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Avila’s El Ranchito in Laguna Beach.

Grab a seat, order a taco and sip on a marg.