Friday, May 29, 2015

The Time When My Computer Died

Alternatively Titled: I Realized How Having Both Kids in School Was Like My Freshman Year of College

Last week, my computer unexpectedly died.  There I was, cleaning the desktop and trash bin, when I decided to install the latest software update. 

There were scary screen twitches. The info at the top of the screen was a dark red color covered with black and gray etches.  It was very Carole Ann and the snowy TV screen from Poltergeist.

Sometime around 12:15am, I gave up googling triage options and made an appointment at the Genius Bar. 

And then I cried. Not silent tears of defeat. No, these tears were more like from toddler tantrum meltdown. I was irrational. I had no words. 

I felt helpless. 

I couldn't write my blog post. I couldn't work on some other essays I wanted to submit. School is almost out for the summer and I barely accomplished anything!


And then that's when it hit me: this was so much more than a broken computer. 

For months, I've had this underlying feeling of discontent.  I always fantasized that when both kids were in school full time, I would rule the world.



Take care of the house!


Have lunch with friends!

Volunteer at school!

I would do all of the things and still feel refreshed when I skipped on down to the bus stop and started the after school/dinner grind.   

At first it was awesome.  I exercised during normal daylight hours instead of waking up at before dawn.

I went out to lunch almost every day. This was glorious!  When I was a junior high teacher, I only had 20 minutes to eat AND go to the bathroom. When I was home with babies and toddlers, it was just enough to go to Target for diapers let alone sit in a restaurant to eat a meal.  Eating food that I did not prepare nor having to clean up felt like I! Had! Arrived!

Turns out that once I worked out and had lunch, I didn't have as much time as I thought to do all of the things.  Honest Mom totally articulates my feelings here.

I spent most of this year rearranging my blocks of time in various orders to try and fit it all in. And I couldn't. I was constantly falling short of my expectations.

This totally reminded me of my freshman year of college. I thought it would be this party and I would be besties with my roommates as we giggled through all-nighters and ate soft serve ice cream in between classes. 

Freshman year was the opposite of that, actually. It was a lot of hard work, and I hated my roommates.  Plus, there was no unlimited soft serve ice cream.  (That along with endless nacho cheese came during sophomore year at a different school – which is a story for another time).

So during this breakdown, I had a breakthrough.  I have a tendency to build something up in my mind and create standards that are impossible to meet. 

Freshman year was just one example.

There was that time I though seventh grade would be like the Sweet Valley Twins series.  (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.  These were, in fact, the worst years of my life).

Or when my flowery image of natural childbirth courtesy of TLC’s Baby Story did not match up to my unplanned C-section.

And then the time I thought teaching junior high in an upper middle class school would somehow be a mix between Dead Poets Society and Mr. Holland’s Opus.  (It ended up being more like Mean Girls).

This constant feeling of letting myself down because I can’t reach my unattainable expectations chips away at my happiness and self-worth. 

And I don’t want to live like that anymore.

I’m not sure how to stop this since it’s clear that I’ve been doing this my entire life.  I’m a doer; I believe I can *DO* anything.  I just need to manage my expectations.  Upon writing this post, I also think it’s imperative to reexamine how much I let media infiltrate my visions of success.

I didn’t expect to have a broken computer fix my perspective, but I am grateful (and grateful for Neil at the Genius Bar for not only installing my new hard drive, but being very gentle with this fragile soul).

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot The Time When My Computer Died Genius Bar

Have you had a recent breakthrough?  How do you deal with reality vs. your expectations?

So excited that my post about the moment I realized I was no longer a full-time stay-at-home mom was picked up by Huffington Post Parents. I would love it if you clicked on over and let me know what you think!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What I’m Reading: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

 Since both kids have been in school all day, I have rediscovered my love for reading. I have read over six books since September.  I have not done that since Marie was born nine years ago.

I forgot how therapeutic it is to become totally absorbed in someone else’s story.  I love the feeling of being transported to a new place and seeing life from someone else’s viewpoint, yet finding myself at the same time.

I’m really drawn to books about self-discovery right now.  For me, having kids has really forced me to figure out who I am and what I stand for.

That is why I love Wild. She was out there alone on the Pacific Crest Trail, mostly in silence to figure out who she really was.

 Away from her circumstances.

 Away from her vices. 

Away from her sadness.

With the beautiful and challenging backdrop of the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl was able to take an honest look at her life, the good and the bad, and make sense of it so she could move on.  I loved reading about how she was able to think critically about her family and come to a place of understanding.  I think my favorite part of the book (without giving away too much) is when she had an opportunity to repeat a recurring mistake and instead of feeling right, she felt empty. 

Through her physical journey, she was able to make her way back to her true self, evolved by transitions and revelations.

I don't think it is currently in my life plan to hike the PCT alone, but I do think that I am in a transition of sorts. I am learning that it takes more courage to be honest with myself as opposed to a muted version that is more concerned with pleasing others.

I am making peace with things that didn't go so well in my life, and celebrating the things that did.

I am working on accepting other people's shortcomings, especially my own. 

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot What I'm Reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Did you read Wild? What did you think?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

To Marie, On Your 9th Birthday

 Dear Marie,

This year, your birthday falls on Mother’s Day, and you are so excited about this.  To be honest, I am glad that you are excited because having your day happen on Mother’s Day feels really special to me.

The day you were born was a sort of a rebirth for me.  If it wasn’t for you, I don’t think I would have the courage to figure out what I truly wanted from life and actually make plans to achieve it.

To be a better person. 

To develop healthy personal boundaries. 

To write. 

To stop saying sorry all the time for things I don’t need to be sorry.

It wasn’t until I was responsible for someone else did I realize how poorly I thought of myself.

It didn’t bother me enough to stop associating with people that did not treat me with kindness and respect.

I didn’t realize that perfectionism was just another form of self-loathing, and in fact, NOT one of my most positive personality traits.

It didn’t occur to me that it was not normal to go through life with a general and overwhelming state of malaise.

There was no way I was going to take a beautiful, brand new human down that same road. I knew that you would be watching me, and I wanted so much better for you.  And I if I wanted better for you, I would need to be better. 

If you were truly to know deep down in your bones that you deserved to be happy and treated with kindness not only by others, but from yourself, I would have to lead the way.

So I am learning how and doing my best everyday to be a positive example for you.

But we are all on own paths to happiness, and it breaks my heart to see you struggle with our common thread of anxiety. As much as I want to pave your path to happiness with all the lessons I have learned, I understand that I cannot do it for you.

My birthday wish for you is to find light and love throughout your journey.  I want you to know that you are worthy of true happiness simply because you are you.  You don’t have to earn it.  No one can give it to you, and no one can take it away.  

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Birthday Wishes Mothers Day

You are enough, my dear, just as you are.

We both are.

Love always,


Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Birthday Wishes Mothers Day
My first Mother's Day. You were only a few days old.

Erin Janda Rawlings Mommy on the Spot Birthday Wishes Mothers Day