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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Facebook Quitters

What’s with people quitting Facebook? I mean, personally, I find it to be the perfect social situation. I’m a stay at home mom who spends all my days socializing with my children. Having 3.5 children and being pregnant for the last ten years (give or take) means I haven’t had the time or energy to actually “go out” and be social. And when I do get out, it’s to take my children somewhere so that they can socialize.

Facebook is my lifeline to the outside world. The beauty of it is that you only have to participate when you damn well please, and talk to only whomever you choose. It doesn’t require any awkward or “polite” conversation. It even offers a second chance to get to know the people who, for whatever immature or superficial reason, did not make it into your social click back in high school (and if any high schoolers are reading this, you’re gonna feel like an idiot for this in a few years. I missed out on some obviously awesome people). And, it seems to me, that giving people the option of seeing their words in writing and having a chance to THINK before they speak, or type, is a far more effective form of communication. For the most part, in my Facebook world anyway, people are kinder and gentler, have a fantastic sense of humor, and show a genuine interest in people other than themselves. (Have a birthday as a Facebooker and you will feel like the luckiest person in the world from all the people who took five seconds to acknowledge your special day.) And if they are not these things, they can (and will) be gone with the push of a button. I have vanished only two people from my Facebook world, and it was simply because they were HUGE downers. I have no tolerance for whiny grown-ups. I can listen to and politely engage in differing views and opinions with others. I can brush off the frequent incredibly boring and unnecessary status updates from some. I can certainly sympathize with the person going through a rough time and looking for some support or just needing to throw their woes out into the Facebook universe. But that bitchy drama queen who is certain that we are all here to listen to her saga and feed her egocentric paranoia while she broadcasts her drama all over Facebook, or that whiny man bitch who’s hourly status updates consist only of road rage rants, assholes out to ruin his day everywhere he goes and all the idiots who are idiots because they don’t think exactly like him about everything, they don’t stand a chance in my Facebook land. They’re like aliens on the wrong planet.

My status updates are typically inspired by my family (and I’m quite sure that there are people out there who have or have considered axing me for that reason, to each his own). It may sound, at times, like whining, but by the time I post it, I have usually found the humor in it. When i find out I was pregnant with baby # 4 just nine months after baby #3 came along, I didn’t have time to panic, I was too busy composing my Facebook status update to share the news. Or when I saw the scale tip towards a devastating number at my last OB appointment and Darren told me I would cry when I inevitable hit that number, a lesser woman would have sobbed with fear, depression and resentment. Not me, I chuckled with thoughts of sharing his gentle response with my Facebook friends. Overall, it helps me laugh at any potential nervous breakdown triggering situation. My hope is that it may bring smiles and chuckles to others, some of whom (parents) will surely relate. My misery is not looking for company, it’s just looking on the bright side.

So why do some suddenly feel compelled to disconnect with a declaration of independence from some sort of Facebook stigma? What is it about this social environment that makes it feel so taboo? Are people actually unable to function and be productive human beings because they are so busy posting on Facebook and stalking their friends? How long can that take? What is it about cutting themselves off from all of their long lost friends that feels so liberating? My best friend led her own mini-revolution away from Facebook a few months ago, with the typical valiant final Facebook sign off. Shortly after, she sent me a text asking me why she was the last to know that baby #4 was a girl. “Sorry, I posted it on Facebook, I guess I forgot about your boycott.” This is what makes Facebook so convenient. The great thing about best friends is that you can go months without speaking (because life happens) and still pick up right where you left off when you do finally have the time. But Facebook kept us connected during that down time. It was perfect. And then she ditched me, for no good reason.

A few weeks ago, I watched the Facebook CEO on 60 Minutes. Granted, there was something a little off about the guy. He has a slimy edge. But it’s not like we pay him to keep us connected. And while I know that the people behind Facebook occasionally have the gall to rearrange our Facebook layout sending our comfortable cyber world into a tailspin, the shock seems to wear off after a few venting status updates expressing our disgust.

When I turn on my computer, I am eagerly anticipating a few positive thoughts, some silly sarcasm, an interesting point to ponder, a few smiles, the chance for a little high school reunion, and always the possibility of a good laugh or an enthralling conversation. And I can keep the opportunity for any of the above close by. It takes the mundane edge off of folding clothes, doing dishes, sweeping floors, making dinner, etc, knowing my computer is on just a few feet away. And while I devote my time and energy of each and every day attempting to entertain, negotiate and reason with my children, I maintain my sanity knowing that an adult conversation or even a grown-up random thought is just a click away in my carefully crafted Facebook land. And if anyone thinks I must be ignoring my children to sit on my computer Facebooking all day, their name has obviously never been “mommy” and they have clearly never tried ignoring three little people with rights to that name. It’s simply not an option. Sitting is rarely an option.

I am grateful for Facebook. I can’t help thinking that the outside world would forget all about me if it wasn’t for this social network. And I’m also pretty sure my family, and even myself, would not seem as cute and funny if I didn’t have the chance to reflect on and share all of our quirky little idiosyncrasies. It is very introspective and never fails to remind me how very, very lucky I am.

My name is Kristin, and I genuinely enjoy Facebook. There are worse things.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ungrateful little bitch

Disclaimer: I would never call my little girl an ungrateful little bitch (yet). No, I’m actually referring to myself when I was a child. However, my daughter IS me, through and through. So, you do the math.

I’ve learned so much about my mom since becoming a mother. Like, despite my certain belief that she was crazy, she was actually pretty damn patient. But I’ve learned even more about what a pain in the ass little bitch I was to her. Every time Madeline does something infuriating and I hear myself nag or lecture her, I think to myself “this speech sounds very familiar”. (I find my own nagging just as annoying as I did my mother’s. I’ve even told myself to shut the hell up once or twice.) The similarities are so striking that I can’t help thinking my mom is up there pulling some strings making it all happen; An angelic little puppeteer just watching and chuckling her ass off.

Because I’m especially “lucky” to be raising a child EXACTLY like me, I have an even greater understanding of how fortunate I am to still be alive and unscathed. If she were still here now, I would thank my mother for not shaving my head or ripping my hair out when I was little and I turned grooming into a war zone. And I would acknowledge a few of the millions and millions of things she did for me, daily. Or apologize for being such a scatterbrained child who constantly lost things and had a room so messy we had to leave the door shut. The other day I barked at Madeline “shut your bedroom door please! Your baby brother could crawl in there and die in that mess.” She flashed me her best evil eye and said “you are so mean!”

I would also apologize for all those years of thinking I knew more than she did. At seven, my daughter doesn’t think she knows more than me, but she has made it clear that just because I’m mommy does not me I always know everything. This was her point this morning in fact, when I laid out a sweater for her to wear that she didn’t like.

“Mommy, I am me, and you don’t know if I like something or not. Only I know.”

“True, but I can still know that this is a great sweater, even if you don’t know it.”

I somehow convinced her to wear it and when she came home from school, she reluctantly confessed that she did get a few compliments on that sweater. She may know stuff, but I will almost always know better.

Yes, my little clone is already pretty challenging at times. She is as sweet as she can be to the rest of the world. Her teachers have always used words like “cooperative, polite, kind and considerate.” (I’ve begged her to bring that child home from school some day because I would love to meet her.) So clearly, she saves all of her strong willed, stubborn seven year old frustrations for her mom. Rightfully so, I suppose. I mean, it only makes sense she takes it all out on the one who’s world revolves around her; the one who spends 90% of her time trying to make her life as wonderful as possible. I guess it’s only fair that if something is amiss in her world, it is all my fault.

But I can take it. It helps to know that, since she is me, she too, will one day be really awesome and wise enough to be grateful for what I’ve done for her and sorry for what she put me through. And she will also have a daughter and continue the “payback is an ungrateful little bitch” cycle.

Yes, at seven, she infuriates me, but she does not scare me. However, she will, one day, be teenage me, and that terrifies me. I’ve already decided to be (somewhat) honest about my teenage mistakes, mostly because I know that it is only by the grace of God that I survived my own teenage stupidity and I do not think it is a good idea to push our luck having her repeat those mistakes. I want her to know that I too was a teenager who was inanely convinced that I was invincible and that I knew EVERYTHING and my parents knew NOTHING; I was, also, stupid enough to think that I had a better grasp of the world’s realities than they did, even during my drug experimenting years when my main goal was to escape those realities. In reality, I was an idiot, just like her.

I want her to know that I too was so selfish and self-centered, that I could not understand why my parents couldn’t just BACK OFF and let me live my life MY WAY. It never occurred to me that it hurt them to watch me make such bad and destructive decisions because they are the very people who’s world as they know it would end if something terrible had ever happened to me. I too, never thought about the fact that when I stay out all night and don’t bother calling, my mother was praying that I was not dead, even more than she was plotting my death IF and when I finally did stroll in the door and inevitably and infuriatingly asked “what’s the big deal?”

I want her to know that I know, just as my mother did, that when she says “I HATE YOU!” and MEANS IT, she doesn’t mean it. And despite her attempt at choosing the right words to cut me as deeply as possible, I will heal, and love her still. I will wish for her to understand that unconditional love is something only her parents can give her, and is NOT the love she has for her boyfriend who is a dick and cheats on her (but she loves him and he loves her and that’s all that matters). Spare me.

I am eternally grateful to my mother, not only for loving me unconditionally, but for teaching me to love this way. I’m even grateful to her for wishing a child “just like me” on me. It makes me feel like I am repenting for all of my ungrateful -little-bitch sins against her. I deserve it, and I will do so willingly and whole-heartedly. And I pray that she will rest in peace, knowing that every day of motherhood gives me a greater understanding of how magnificent she was, and what and ungrateful little bitch I was. I will consider myself a success if I too, never beat the hell out of my idiot teenage daughter.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

spelling test confession

The other day, Madeline got off the bus looking disappointed. “Mommy, I didn’t get a hundred on my spelling test”, she sadly confessed. She had a perfect record, five for five, on her spelling tests so far this school year and she (and admittedly i) was quite proud of that. I knew there was a chance that she might have tarnished her record last week because she (and admittedly I) forgot to study her words the night before and the morning of the test as we always do. The test was on a Friday which was also a half day at school. I guess I pretty much just write those days off, like they’re not really school days, just a massive play date for a few hours. The test never crossed my mind.

“Yeah, I know, we forgot to study last week. So what did you get?”

“I got a 94. I got one wrong.”

I went to give her a high five and she seemed a bit confused, like she didn’t deserve it.

“Honey, you certainly don’t have to be perfect every time. A 94 is awesome.”

“I know, but I wanted to be perfect on all my tests.”

I realize I’m walking a fine line here. I want her to have high expectations for herself, but I don’t want her to strive for perfection so much so that she is actually disappointed when she falls short. I watched my mother struggle her whole life with unrealistic expectations for herself and others (mostly herself). I heard tales of her sometimes difficult childhood with a father who demanded perfection and belittled emotion. I recall these stories the very moment I see my daughter’s crushed little face as she “breaks the news” to me. But, like any good parent, my mother worked hard to improve her children’s childhood over her own. It was challenging for her to learn to accept her own shortcomings, as well as those of her very imperfect husband who didn’t mind his flaws a bit, and her two children who both took after him. “You’re just like your father!”, she would often resentfully utter.

I flaunt my imperfections for my children. Ok, maybe they’re just wildly apparent. But I really do want them to know that it’s ok. As a parent, I feel like I fall short A LOT. I struggle despite giving it everything I have all the time. But I know that this is the greatest challenge I will ever have in my life, raising my children. And like any other worthy and rewarding experience, it does not come easy, you have to work at it, hard, and you will still screw up along the way. And your children will screw up too, which just feels like another indication of your screw ups. Each time, you are meant to learn a little something that is designed to help you deal with the bigger mistake lurking around the corner. Yet, all the while, you must remain calm because too much crazy can diminish your credibility. I have my moments, but I’m pretty sure my kids think I’m only a little bit crazy. I hope that my daughter now knows that I am certainly not crazy enough to be disappointed when she brings home a 94 on a test. And I hope that she made a mental note of the fact that I was just as proud of that 94 as I was of all the 100’s before it.

My mother’s well meaning but sometimes unrealistic expectations sparked my rebellious sprit so much so that in hindsight, I consider myself lucky to be alive; to have lived and learned. So my hope is that my obvious and admitted shortcomings, despite my obviously very best efforts, will teach my children that they don’t have to be perfect to be awesome!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A message from my guardian angel, brought to me by the Jehovah's witnesses (who would have thought).

A Message from my Guardian Angel, brought to me by the Jehovah’s Witnesses (who would have thought)

I’m afraid of 2012. I feel like a freak about it. No one talks much about the world possibly ending in a couple years, as once predicted. There may be mention of it every now and then, but even the media doesn’t really seem to be jumping all over that story. I imagine Fox news will use it as a right wing campaign strategy in the 2012 elections; GIVE US BACK THE WHITE HOUSE AND WE WILL BAIL US OUT OF DOOMSDAY, but for now, nothing. I’ve brought it up once or twice in “casual” conversation and while people were familiar with the rumored impending doom, no one seemed terribly concerned, just me.

I have decided that my uncharacteristically pessimistic obsession with this is because I have an amazing family with 3.5 beautiful children and an all-around wonderful life. I look at my precious little ones and become all at once, overwhelmed with how much I freaking love them, and terrified that I can’t protect them from all of the lurking danger in the world. I feel so fortunate and blessed that it scares me. I have felt this way before, and then suddenly my mother was gone. Life cannot feel perfect for too long without waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It doesn’t help that I allow myself to get sucked into the political debauchery of cable news whose mission it is to spread the news (fear) that if we do not succumb to their agenda, we ARE doomed. And both sides are adamant that they can save the world and rescue us from the destruction of the “other side”. And even when one side has already brought us to the brink of devastation, we are seemingly willing to give then another chance because the other side isn’t rescuing us fast enough and even has the nerve to ask us all to do our parts to help us save ourselves and our future generations from…ourselves. If you’re paying attention the news isn’t good.

I have definitely thought to myself “I wouldn’t be surprised if God got a little tired of man and his sinful ‘free will’ and just decided to wipe the slate clean and start over.” I’m sure he’s ashamed of us. I mean, even though most of us are good people, we’ve somehow managed to hand his world over to the selfish, greedy, soul-less leaders of our world. We have sold our souls to the devil and now there is strong opposition toward any attempt to get it back and redeem ourselves.

A few weeks ago while I was outside cleaning the pool I was blindsided by some very kind women toting their gospel. I’m not gonna lie, if I were hidden inside, I would not have answered to door. I have nothing against these good people who walk around all day attempting to spread some good news. I just do not have the time to sit down with them for a cup of tea and some religious schooling. But they found me.

They observed and commented that I looked busy and I concurred. So we had instantly and politely reached an unspoken agreement that I would not even be opening the gate and inviting them in any further. But my voice of reason, kindness and tolerance told me to give them five minutes.

They ask me about my fears, and I told them about my doomsday paranoia. They opened their bibles and recited five or six lines about how the evil in the world will one day be eliminated and that the earth will remain forever and the “meek will inherit the earth”. Again, I’m not gonna lie, my heart sank, not from fear, but from ease, like it was no longer about to burst out of my cheast from terror. I’m plenty meek, not in the timid or submissive way, but in the mild and gentle way. I mean, I was voted most nonchalant in my senior class. Isn’t that a synonym for meek?

Those five minutes, five lines, and five percent chance that they would catch me outside all alone gave me some genuine relief and faith. I told them so. I know they get many doors slammed in their faces, if even opened to them. I know they are only a nemesis to most who are certain that they, too, already have it all figured out, or a nuisance to those that just don’t give a damn. But their intentions were only good and their efforts were triumphant. “You did good work today ladies. I feel much better. Thank you.” And I did. No, I am not converting (which is the single most frequently
asked question when I tell this story). I am just thankful and faith-filled, again.

Someone sent those people to me at that just-the-right moment (someone who wants me to cherish and make the most of every second I have with her beloved grandchildren whom she misses terribly) to tell me to let go of my worries; to see my children’s future in their eyes rather than my own fears; to live in the present, blessed and thankful.

Thank you, Mom. You’re right, again.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Llife of Leisure?

My manager at work has accused me of having a life of leisure. I know what you’re thinking (at least what my fellow moms are thinking); HOW DARE SHE!

Before I go on, I should explain that she is a wonderful woman whom I genuinely adore. And I’m not just saying this because we became Facebook friends just as instantly as we became actual friends and so she will probably be reading this. She’s otherwise awesome, really.

But she mistakes my lack of desire (refusal)to work more than two days a week with laziness, like I’ve grown too accustom to my “life of leisure”. I let her get away with this slander only once. The second time she made this accusation, I gently spoke up:

“Listen bitch, (I really did call her a bitch, but only because she really is my friend, really), I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about with this whole life of leisure bullshit! I have three kids at home! What in the name of God do think could possibly be leisurely about that!”

She’s a mom too; A single mom, with a daughter who is 2. So while I know she has her struggles with spending many hours working and away from her child, she is not capable of completely grasping full time mommy-hood with THREE children. . She doesn’t understand that I go to my part time job both to pay some bills, and to take a break from my full time job which doesn’t pay well.

She can’t really know that meeting the demands of my three children, as well as trying to maintain some order in our household, is actually a lot like her job of managing a restaurant and its feisty staff, who respects her but still loves to torment her, and it’s often impossible to please, demanding customers. Take her job, and multiply it by a couple of hundred, and we have the exact same job. She just makes more money than I do, and probably doesn’t love her job as much I love mine.

She may also consider me a “kept woman” and a little spoiled, not spoiled acting but just very well cared for. I am. I can’t argue with that. But I work very hard for my family and it is important to me that my loved ones feel as fortunate to have me as I do to have them. And THAT is why they come first. That is why I can’t work until 11 p.m. or later, four nights a week, just to spend the remaining three days and nights exhausted and cranky and unable to be the wonderful patient mother I strive (and sometimes struggle) to be.

I just sat outside all alone and dipped my feet in the pool for about ten minutes. I’ve done the dishes, did some laundry, cleaned the kitchen, played with children, fed children (twice), got children to sleep at the same time, picked up the broom, put down the broom, and went outside for a moment of SILENCE:

“Screw this broom! It’s my only quiet time of the day (naptime) and I am going to squeeze in one moment of NOTHING! I don’t think the world will end if I don’t sweep the floors right now so that they can be dog hair free for the next hour.”
It was blissful. Ten minutes of doing nothing, saying nothing and hearing no one! Blissful. And while I was out there, I had to chuckle at my “life of leisure”. She thinks I lay around, floating in my pool all day, and here I am wasting two precious minutes of my ten minute break thinking “I really should get up and sweep the pool…again.”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Laptop Lesson Learned

Ok, I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. It’s been at least three months and while I can’t exactly look back at it and laugh yet, I can, at least, tell the tale without getting the blood boiling shakes and wanting to re-ground my daughter all over again.

It was one of those early, beautiful summer like days when spending time outside is still a novelty after hibernating all winter. So I couldn’t really blame her for wanting to lug MY laptop outside to play with at her brand new playground, complete with the perfect little table to set up post. What was not yet complete, was the roof that was supposed to be over that little table. It might have made all the difference, but we’ll never know.

I’m chatting with my sister-in-law while our little ones are enjoying the new playground when I see my six year old round the corner carrying MY laptop. I stop mid-sentence and give her my very best oh-no-you-didn’t stare, to which she responds, with her oh-yes-I-did smirk, “what? I’ll be careful.” Famous last words. It’s at least 4 p.m. by now which means I simply do not have the energy left for this battle, and she knows it (Ha ha, Mommy’s weak now).

The next day:

Madeline: Mommy, did it rain last night?

Me: I’m not sure honey. Why?

Madeline: Well, remember yesterday when I brought your computer outside?

Me: What???????????????

Madeline: Well, you were the last one in.

ME: EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!!! GO GET MY COMPUTER!!!!!! AND YOU BETTER HOPE IT DIDN’T RAIN LAST NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Please note here, that the all capital letters and multiple exclamation point rage did not kick in until AFTER she has passed the buck to ME!)

As she scurries outside (now well aware that she has said too much), I turn to look out my window to see if it did rain last night. Of course it did. And suddenly I recall waking up in the middle of the night to the soothing sound of rain on the rooftop, and thinking “how nice, we haven’t had rain in a long time.”

“What happened? Did she leave her DS outside?” I can’t even speak. How do I tell Darren, the man who has been telling me for months not to let our six year old have such free reign on MY laptop, the laptop that HE bought me out of the kindness of his heart, that…I still can’t find the words.

She returns and hands the computer over to her father (round one of punishment) who stands there holding it, waiting for ALL the water to POUR out of it. He is calmly angry at Madeline, and entirely unsympathetic to poor me. He told me so, told me so, told me so, but never reminds me of this. He doesn't have to. I can hear the words echoing from his subconscious and they will continue to taunt me for days.

All that’s left now is to decide on the punishment. And in doing so, all I can hear is that unapologetic voice telling me “well you were the last one in.”

No television, no computer (obviously) and no DS for two weeks! While I know this is a life altering punishment for her, she takes it like a champ. She is guilty, and genuinely sorry and unable to look either of her parents in the face for the rest of the day. But even in the moment, I am still aware that everything happens for a reason. Even while I am now computer-less and cut off from my stay-at-home-mom-sanity-saving-lifeline to the outside world, and still attempting to plug it in and turn it on hoping for some sign of life, some last breath that allows me to once again see the hours and hours of writing/pouring my heart out into this now lifeless machine. Even knowing that I don’t have a chance in hell of my overly generous boyfriend buying me another laptop (after all, I didn’t listen, and I too, can take my punishment like a champ), I am still grateful for two week of watching my daughter do ANYTHING other than watch TV, play her DS or sit at MY computer. I often find myself feeling guilty about not having the time or energy to dole out enough one-on-one time to each of my kids. It’s amazing how much easier it becomes with less background noise and distraction.

Madeline and I both learned a valuable lesson about guilt. She would go to school and tell her classmates and teachers what she had done and what her punishment was, and I would later hear some critique from parents and teachers that the consensus among the students was that we were way too hard on her as it was “just an accident”. But I knew that she had conveniently left out how she “accidentally” blurted out that last punishment changing accusation which sealed her fate. “well, you were the last one in.” I mean, I knew that I had some responsibility in this too, and you would NEVER hear me suggest that it might not have been so bad if Darren had just finished building that roof (wait, did I already mention that?)

I’m a lucky girl. I’ve been given a second chance with a new laptop (which I never would have expected but he is as forgiving as he is generous). And in turn, I have offered Madeline a second chance to show that she can use it responsibly. And I remind her, occasionally, just to be safe:

Me: "Madeline can you clean your room?"

Madeline: "No".

Me: "Remember when you destroyed my computer."

Madeline: "Ok."

Me: "Madeline can you get me a diaper for your brother?"

Madeline: "No".

Me: Remember when you destroyed my computer?

Madeline: "UUUUUUUGGGGGHHHH! Ok."

You get the idea; leverage.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Baby #4-The Road Less Traveled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

...Robert Frost

I came across this quote just a day or two after finding out that I was pregnant with baby #4. It offered great perspective, and a sigh of relief. I was always the handful, the problem child marching to the beat of a different drummer, blah, blah, blah. I was lost and my parents spent many sleepless nights praying for me to find my way. Little did I know that I was on the right path the entire time. Admittedly, it was a bumpy road and I stumbled a lot. But a smoother, shorter, easier path could never have prepared me for what fate had in store for me: FULL TIME MOTHERHOOD.

Years ago, pre-children, I always said “I want to have five kids, all boys.” It sounded like so much fun. Sure, boys are reckless and I would probably be mothering with my eyes closed, hands clenched and heart in my throat most of the time while they are racing motorized whatever they can get their hands on, jumping of the highest anything into the hopefully deep enough something, picking up the nearest anything and everything that may or may not resemble a weapon to use on the nearest whomever, etc., etc.. But at least they wouldn’t be so damn snotty, constantly challenge my every request, keep me up all night worrying because she’s too stubborn to pick up a phone, refuse to accept that the world just IS more dangerous for young girls, always demand the last infuriating word, etc., etc.! I hate to be so gender biased, but this was my experience with kids. Sorry Mom and Dad.

My first born was a little girl. It’s only fair. I had it coming. And she is exactly like me. I had that coming too. My mom spent my teenage years wishing it on me so it was inevitable. She’s six now, and has already begun paying me back on my late mother’s behalf (whom I often hear giggling from the great beyond). I’m hoping she’s getting it all out of her system before her teen years set in and I’m forced to pound it out of her (figuratively speaking, I hope). She’s still young enough to be honest about her antics; “I’ll try to be better Mommy, but I can’t pinky promise because it’s REALLY hard sometimes.” I find her honesty refreshing and I dread those teen years, again, when I will have to decipher every lie to find a clue to a morsel of the truth. I’m starting to sweat at the thought of it all. Maybe her three brothers (wishful thinking re: baby #4) can form some sort of road block when she starts taking wrong turns. My poor only brother wasn’t able to deter me all on his own.

So I am about to be a mother of four, a STAY AT HOME mother of four! Few people would choose this path. In fact, the news of my continued journey into motherhood leaves most speechless. But now, I understand that I could never decide on a career because my path, my purpose was already determined. This is my destiny. My success as a stay at home mom would be measured by my steadfast patience, my sanity, my SURVIVAL, the character of my children and happiness and values of my family, not my income. And as an overwhelmed, overworked, exhausted, underappreciated, underpaid, undervalued, jack of all trades, master of none, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy I could not be happier. It continues to be the bumpier, far more challenging and less traveled path, but it makes all the difference now that I know exactly where I am going and that I am paving the way for my four little passengers.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Keep the tooth fairy and easter bunny in check!

Madeline recently lost her first tooth. We placed it in her special tooth fairy pillow and anxiously awaited the first arrival of the tooth fairy. Sure enough the faithful little fairy made her debut in our home. She was very nervous, having no idea how stressful it would be trying to pry that little pillow out from under a sleeping child’s head, knowing said child was determined to wake up and finally catch a fairy in action. Those fairies are always messing with her and she has yet to catch one red handed. This was her chance. But somehow, a very jittery and sweaty palmed tooth fairy managed to pull it off undetected.

The next morning, Madeline came running out of her room holding her gift from the tooth fairy, with a big missing tooth grin on her face. “MOMMY THE TOOTH FAIRY CAME AND LEFT ME ONE DOLLAR!” She was thrilled.

The next day, I overheard her telling a friend about her tooth fairy experience. “You only got a dollar? The tooth fairy leaves me $15 dollars.” Madeline looked at me in horror. I was tempted to knock out a few of her friend’s new big girl teeth, just to see how much those would be worth. But instead, I looked at her and said “your tooth fairy (a child psychologist, no less) must have trouble seeing in your room at night because she clearly screwed up.” And that was the end of that. No guilt on my end, just utter disgust towards the parent who’s fucked up values just cast a shadow on my daughter’s first tooth fairy glow.

It used to really annoy me that I would have to justify this stuff to my child, like why her friends got video games or a new bike from the Easter Bunny when she only got candy and bubbles. Now I welcome the opportunity to teach her a little lesson on values:

Madeline, in this family, we earn those special things. Remember last month when you worked so long and hard planning your little brother’s birthday party and I was so proud of you for doing something so kind for someone else that I took you out and got you a new webkinz, or when we got you that new DS game a few months ago because you brought home a perfect report card, or when I finally took you to the toy store to get that special fairy box that you had been working so hard for because, despite telling me over and over again how very nervous you were to get up and perform at your first piano recital, you raised you hand and volunteered to go second and got up there and played beautifully? You earned those things, and you should be very proud. I sure am!

We hear a lot about children today having a false sense of entitlement. Our society is doing a terrible job setting an example for them. We want them to be successful in a cut throat, do or die, eat or be eaten business world where they’ll have to work their life away and strive for upper class or else struggle to have food on the table and a roof over their head, yet we have created a world in which we raise them to think that fairies and bunnies are going to bring them whatever their hearts desire.

I told my daughter that if these (spoiled-I struggled to omit this word for her sake) kids are getting $15 for a tooth, or getting toys for easter that could never fit in an easter basket, then their parents are the ones getting these gifts for them. Yes, she may blow their cover, and I’m not sorry.

Save the overindulgence for Santa Claus. He has that big sleigh to haul gifts and a whole tree bottom to fill up. And even he has a naughty list!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Little Leo is 3

Little Leo is 3!

It’s was a very roller coaster ride of a week. It began with the first anniversary of my mother’s death. It was actually worse than I thought it would be. I was just beginning to remember my mother in good health again; a beautiful soul that will live on forever, not a tired, failing body gasping for every conceivably last breath.

I went to bed the night before and prayed not to be awake to see the clock hit 5:56 a.m.. I never want to see that time again, but particularly on that day. I managed to dodge it that morning, but I was awake every hour of the night at some point, and each time I opened my eyes, I saw my mother suffering and struggling for that last breath to bring her some peace, and me a devastation unlike anything I foolishly thought I was prepared for. And I ached and grieved all over again, all day long, as if it had just happened. And just to add salt to the wound, my 92 year old grandfather had a heart attack on this day. It’s no coincidence. He wants to go be with his daughter, I know he does. But he is still here, and he is still mourning. It is a horrible day and I find it hard to believe that it will ever be anything but.

Four days after my mother’s death comes my mother’s birthday, right on time. It truly feels like a gift from God; his way of telling me to cheer up! Yes, her death was terrible, but her life was precious. And her 58 years of a well served life cannot be overshadowed by one year of a slow and painful death. And on her birthday, her life as my mother played like a lovely slideshow before my eyes. She was healthy and beautiful and never nagged me a bit (thank you again Lord, for the selective memory).

Two days after my mother’s birthday, comes my little Leo’s birthday. I am so excited to celebrate my childrens’ birthdays that I am always up before them, eager to spend the day meeting their every desire. Yes, I spend every day waiting on my children, but birthdays are about their wants, not their needs (it makes for a rude awakening the following day when the moment has passed and mean mommy has returned).

But this one is even more important, because as hard as I try, I cannot remember much about Leo’s second birthday last year, just 6 days after my mother died. It’s all a blur and it’s terrible and I am so wrought with guilt that it takes everything I have not to buy him the $2,000 John Deere tractor that he falls in love with at the tractor supply store on this birthday morning. Thankfully, he is equally delighted by the John Deere hat we got instead.

This year, however, I am so captivated by this excited little 3 year old who has no idea how amazing he is or how much joy he has brought me that I have almost recovered from the re-death of my mother just a few days earlier (until next year). And I am thankful for Leo’s Poppy when I see him sitting across the room at the birthday party because I know that he still brings Grandma with him everywhere he goes. She wouldn’t miss this.

And now, it has all passed. I am still trying to sort through all of the emotions. Even as I reflect on it here and now, I have cried and sobbed and smiled and giggled. Poppy made a DVD of what I am sure is a beautiful tribute to my beautiful mother, and gave it to those of us who cherished her most. It was a Christmas gift. I haven’t watched it yet for fear of losing myself in my tears and heartache. I had told Darren that we would watch in on her birthday (he’s ready whenever I am, to be my rock). I couldn’t do it. I’ll try again on Mother’s day, but that too is now a day full of ups and downs and inner conflicts.

Most importantly, little Leo is 3. We had a perfect day that I will never forget, and almost good enough to allow me to forgive myself for allowing his 2nd birthday to be overshadowed by my mother’s death. In the reassuring words of hope and healing offered by my favorite minister at my mother’s funeral, “the sun WILL rise”. My children are my sunshine.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

oh, now i get it; KIDS MAKE YOU CRAZY!

I was voted “most nonchalant” in my senior class. I have always prided myself on my patience. And before I had kids, I always said that the one thing I would surely do differently from my mother was to just not be so CRAZY.

I always thought that if she would have just asked nicely instead of nag or talked openly and calmly when I screwed up instead of scream like a lunatic, surely I would have been more willing cooperate or hear her side. But too often, I just wrote her off as crazy:

“She’s only this angry because she’s crazy. I mean, who cares if I threw a big party in her house while she was away. And who asked her to sit up all night waiting for me to come home just because she had no idea where I was. That’s her problem. She’s crazy. I’m glad I’m not crazy.”

A few months ago, I was outside my front door trying to hang a wreath. My 6 year old and two year old were playing in the living room, loudly, and my nearly two month old was sleeping, finally, upstairs. My m other-in-law, who lives next door had just dropped the kids off after taking them for just a moment so I could try and get the baby to sleep after a long day. I stood in the doorway and said, “please quiet down, the baby is sleeping upstairs.” “Ok” they respond, half-ass through the grandma induced sugar rush they are clearly burning off. Two seconds later (literally) , two sugar induced screams wake my finally sleeping baby. I turn around and yelling;

“Great! Thanks! Now you woke up your brother."

“You’re welcome” my daughter snarls in some sort of sick delight.

Now comes the screeching at the top of my lungs, the kind of screech that scratches your throat and gags you mid-rant;

“EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE TALKING TO? AND WHAT EXACTLY DID YOU NOT UNDERSTAND ABOUT WHAT I JUST SAID!?”

The screeching has stopped both kids in their tracks for a moment. The gagging from the screeching adds a little extra crazy and actually makes them think mommy might be turning into some kind of monster right before their eyes. And in this moment, I turn to attempt to hang my wreath again when my mother-in-law rounds the corner with a step-stool in hand to help me. My throat is still scratchy as I thank her.

There is a good chance that she has heard me lose it like this before. After all she does live next door, but having to look her in the face while my face is still bright red from the blood curdling screaming makes it far more humiliating. She has, kindly, never mentioned it.

One time, when I was maybe 7, I got a brand new pack of crayons and begged my mom to let me take them down to my friends house just a few doors down. She reluctantly agreed. And when I returned with one missing crayon, she marched me down to that house where we found it under the deck which she then sent me crawling under to get it. “How silly…” I remember thinking, “it’s just a crayon.”

I was reminded of this crayon story the other day when I found my daughters brand new box of crayons laying recklessly in the garage, with crayons missing, and then found myself rambling on (to myself) for the next five minutes;

“That is it! I’m just gonna hide these crayons until she can be more responsible with them. But then she’s just gonna keep asking me if I know where her crayons are, just like everyone asks me where EVERYTHING is before they even bother looking for it! And when I finally cave and give them to her, she’s gonna ask me where the green crayon is! And when we can’t find that, she’s going to insist she needs a new box of crayons because this one is now incomplete!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Who knew crayons could be so infuriating.

I have gone crazy. But usually after a good self-induced guilt trip from the burned visions of my children’s terrified little faces in my mind, I can find my way back to calm again. I don’t enjoy it at all. It is always exhausting, sometimes embarrassing, and rarely effective in the long term. It is also a certain reminder of what a frustrating child, infuriating teenager and ignorant soon-to-be-mother I once was.

Rightfully so, my daughter is the mirror image of me, both in looks, and in exasperating little idiosyncrasies. I used to HATE having my hair brushed. The other day during our daily hair brushing battle, I wrapped my daughters hair tightly around my fist a few times and, through clenched teeth threatened;

“I DON’T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND! WHEN YOU WHINE AND MAKE ME CHASE YOU AND BEG YOU TO STAND STILL EVERY MORNING YOU MAKE ME WANT TO GRAB YOU BY THE HAIR LIKE THIS AND TAKE YOU DOWN!”

It happens all the time. I have a battle with my children that makes me crazy, and inevitably reminds me of myself and my poor mother. I hear her chuckling in amusement all the time at what seems to be her premeditated retaliation from the great beyond. Sometimes I even give her the long over due credit she deserves; good one, Mom.

I can only hope that she has forgiven me, or at least that my insanity stops being so amusing to her before my daughter becomes a teenager. I do not want to meet my 16year old self in ten years any more than my daughter wants to meet her crazy mother who has been sitting up all night waiting for her and thinking she was laying in a ditch somewhere.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

beating a dead horse (hope he has health insurance).

I enjoy a good debate. And this health insurance debate is up there with the best of them. While it has turned many a grown man or woman into a bitter, name calling fool, I have been fortunate to take part in a healthy tit for tat with a family member, thanks to our mutual respect, and would like to take the opportunity to share my latest tat.

This will be brief for the moment, I think, as I am exhausted from working until after midnight last night, was up a few times with baby and then up early to start my full time job, mommy, which doesn't pay much so thank God I am blessed with a good daddy (like yourself) to provide for us. If I were on my own i could NEVER work a full time day job, pay for childcare AND CERTAINLY NOT afford health insurancefor all of us as my job is not condsidered worthy of health insurance. See, i think in your paranoia about the lazy losers who take advantage of the system, you have forgotten about the people who work very hard and are still struggling. You are very fortunate in having the wealth that you do. But i can assure you that there are millions who work even harder than you do, and are barely scraping by. it's not about you paying for everyone else's health insurance, it's about fixing a painfully obviously broken system. With all due respect, I think your good fortune has turned you into one of those people who thinks that only those as fortunate as you deserve the "privilege" of health care, and that if people can't afford it they must not be working as hard as you. That is very (obviously) wrong. Yes, i think payihng 40% of your income to Uncle Sam is plenty (more than enough). My family does the same, and yet Darren still understands that our system is in need of an overhaul. Maybe our kids will be paying for this fix, but i would much rather our, and their, inevitable tax dollars go to something so obviously necessary rather than foolish wars and corporate bail outs and bonuses. We are in a pickle, and it's going to take some sacrifice to make this a better place for our children. Count your blessings that you are still so well off. Imagine the people who work harder than you, make less than you, still give their 40%, can't afford health care, and can't give their kids everything their little hearts desire. You are blessed, and should consider yourself lucky rather than cheated. Ok, this was longer than planned. i enjoy our tit for tats, despite finding you incredibly hard headed. i'm sure you could say the same. I will conclude with something friend wrote to me yesterday:

"I don't get it. I went a damn decade without health insurance WHILE working full time. I now have health insurance and sure don't mind spending a little extra money for somebody that needs it. Also, I am the same person now that I was 7 months ago when I was full time as a waitress. Why do I deserve it now and not 7 months ago? I have to ... believe that the majority are people like me...that work hard but can't afford the outrageous health insurance prices. Who can't agree with that? I just don't get it!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

confessions of an overprotective mom.

The other night, my little Leo set out for his very first sleepover. He was with his big sister, his (practically) aunt Amanda and her son, and boy was he excited! I was fishing for some signs that he was still my little baby boy and was not yet ready for this milestone:

“Are you really sure you want to go with them? You’ll be there all night. If you wake up in the middle of the night, I won’t be there.”

“Get my jammies and put them in my backpack” (like big sis).

He wore that backpack proudly as he stormed out the door on a mission. I couldn’t take my eyes off him until he was out of sight, and he never even looked back.
I decided to relax and enjoy a rare, quiet evening at home with my love. I sent out (what was meant to be) one last text to Amanda to see how things were going. She promptly responded that all the kids had been sound asleep for over an hour and everything was fine. She even followed with a very sweet picture of the three kids sitting side by side on the couch eating popcorn. Everything was fine (although popcorn always makes me nervous with its possible choking hazard).

As I lay on the couch with my head on Darren’s lap, I was indeed relaxed and even dozing off. And then, “crazy mom” woke me up. I could not stop thinking of things that could go wrong. And if I tried to close my eyes, I could actually see all of these things playing out.

“I better text Amanda and remind her to blow out the candles before she goes to bed” I say to Darren, waiting for him to second my paranoia, but nothing. Sure she’ll think I’m being a little crazy, especially since she had no candles burning. But she’s a mom, she’d understand.

“No candles burning” she quickly responds.

“I better remind her to lock the doors.” Still no back up from daddy.

“Doors are locked” she assures me, even before she got my text. (Isn’t she clever).

“Maybe I should…”

“Why don’t you just go get him!” Daddy finally chimes in.

“Do you think I should?” I ask, pretending the thought hadn’t already crossed my mind and that I hadn’t been fighting that very urge for the last hour.

“Well how many texts do you plan on sending?”

“I’ll just send one more…to tell her that I’m coming to get him.”

“Really?”

“He’s our little baby and it’s his first sleepover.”

“Yes…it was” he concludes.

“Why don’t we all go and we can stop for some hot fudge Sundays?” Darren suggests. I may be crazy for wanting to go wake up our sound asleep two year old to bring him home but now he’s suggesting we wake up our 4 month old and drag him out for a hot fudge Sunday.

I send the text and put my shoes on.

“I’ll be right back.”

“Wait, what about my hot fudge Sunday?” I hear as I race out the door before any of my visions come true.

On my way to rescue little Leo, Amanda calls to assure me that he is fine. I tell her that while I do feel a little crazy, I’m already on my way.

“Really???” she says confirming my craziness.

“I know, but it’s his first sleepover and he still wakes up during the night sometimes (or at least that one time last month) and what if he wakes up and doesn’t know where he is and what if………………………………..” I think I’ve made my point.

As I walk out with my sleeping child in tow, I thank her for indulging my paranoia, invite her for breakfast in the morning, and ask her not to mention this incident to anyone (despite already composing this blog in my head).

Leo wakes up in the car:

“I just missed you honey and I had to come get you, okay?”

“Okaaaaayyyyy”, he tiredly grumbles. I can tell he’s relieved, or at least not pissed at me for crashing his party.

The next morning, Amanda arrives with my daughter and her son, both of whom ask me why I took Leo last night.

“I was just worried about him. He’s a little guy.”

“Well, he was fine ya know.” I’m being ridiculed by two six year olds.

Leo will be three next month. He is transitioning from my little baby who I always felt so bad for because he couldn’t keep up with the big kids, to a strong willed and independent little guy who is more than willing to at least try. It’s a difficult line for a parent to walk. I want him to be brave and capable, and I want him to need his mommy. I want him to tough it out, I only wish I could tough it out. I want to enjoy time alone with my love, and I want to know my children are safe under our roof. I want to loosen my grip, but I will NEVER let go.

I ask Leo if he was happy that I brought him home:

“I was sleeping in the big bed like a big boy and I wanted a drink of water but I couldn’t get the door open so I went back to sleep in the big bed.”

Thank goodness I rescued him. Poor little thing was thirsty!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This is a lecture I have composed in my mind many times when I imagine myself sitting down with my children and attempting to simply reason with them rather than my usual rant. Ironically, it is similar to the lecture I imagine giving to the decision makers of our nation if I were the President (yes, I have actually imagined this). Some of it may sound a bit childish for the United States Senate, and some of it may sound like it would go right over the little heads of a 6 year old, 3 year old and 4 month old, but I think it could strike a chord with both. Call me naive…too:

Ok guys, I need your help here. I know that before I took on this responsibility I was naive to think that I had all the answers; that I knew what it would take to run a tight ship; that good intentions, a heart in the right place and asking politely would lead to progress. But I was not counting on having to rely so very heavily on your cooperation, that I would have to plead it out of you every step of the way, and that explaining myself incessantly and simply asking nicely and respectfully would not accomplish anything. And I certainly had no idea you would be so STUBBORN!

I realize that it’s not always easy to get along and work together. But it’s crucial. There are endless responsibilities in seeing that we are all taken care of. I am only one person and despite my very best intentions, I simply can’t do it alone. And it is my job to lead you, to make clear what is expected of you and to see that you meet these expectations.

I know it may be hard to believe, but it is NOT always about what YOU want, it’s about what is best for all of us. I know that you genuinely believe that YOU always know what that is, but again, you’re wrong. Your life, for instance, does not depend on getting that new toy and it is not, in fact, more important to buy that this week than to buy groceries for our family. And no, you do not absolutely NEED that book RIGHT NOW simply because your sister just picked it up while you were nowhere near it. You didn’t care about it before, don’t pretend you do now just because someone else has it.

I do not care who started it or who did it. What’s done is done. What matters now is how we end it or fix it.

We need to understand that we will all make mistakes, yes, even me, but that we need to learn from them and move on, never to repeat them again.

We need to respect each other, and to respectfully disagree.

We need to look out for each other, even when we are frustrated.

We need to love each other, even when we are angry.

We need to be thankful for what we have, and to be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good even when we think we deserve more.

We need to help each other, even when we…just don’t want to.

We are a family, we are in this together. If we can’t work together, we will never accomplish anything around here.

Please.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

lost in translation

The other day one of my facebook friends responded to one of my posts. I don’t remember exactly what my post said but it’s usually something that my kids have done that was amusing, or that others may find amusing because it’s happening to me and not them. I usually find the humor eventually. I write it to vent frustration and then I read it for a laugh.

Her response was “awww, your posts always make me want another baby.” I was very surprised to think that my love for this motherhood thing was still somehow apparent through all of my venting/ranting; that my love for my children is not overshadowed by how crazy they make me at times.

Things are often getting lost in translation in my world. It’s inevitable when you’re communicating with children all day. Logic takes on a whole new meaning in their world. It still exists but on an entirely different level and one that is actually tricky to argue with sometimes.

I once told my mom that I had this “mom” thing all figured out (before I actually had kids, of course). My daughter is only six and I’m already stumped. The other night I attempted a very positive and upbeat lecture on how we both had responsibilities and one of my responsibilities is to teach her to be responsible, to be the best person she can be. It was my attempt to convince both of us (more so myself) that I am not a nag! I’m a mommy.

“You have to learn to do things for yourself so that you don’t always need your mommy to do EVERYTHING for you ALL the time. Wouldn’t it be funny if someone who was a grown up still had their mommy cooking for them and getting them dressed in the morning?”

“MOMMY! That means that you want me to die because you’re NEVER going to cook for me again and you want me to STARVE!”

How did we go from asking her to put her dirty clothes in her hamper to me wanting her to die? And how does one respond to this logic?

I find myself being equally as unreasonable sometimes;

“Madeline could you please pick up these books and put them back on the shelf.”

“No.”

“DON’T MISTAKE MY ASKING YOU TO DO SO AS A QUESTION! I’M NOT ASKING YOU, I’M TELLING YOU!”

I also vowed (pre-motherhood again, of course), that I would NEVER say “because I said so” to my kids. I always found it half-ass and infuriating when my mother “said so”. I have only said it once and Darren called me on it immediately (I forgot that I vowed it in front of him once). But it is ALWAYS on the tip of my tongue. And to be honest, I now understand its validity. Sometimes, it is a perfectly acceptable response to the 3 millionth “WHYYYYYY MOMMMY” of the day. I’m mean, by the end of the day of a stay at home mom, the mind and body just do not have the explanation and energy left to hold a conversation with anyone under the age of 30, never mind trying to reason with a two year old.

And it’s not like they don’t pull it on me;

“Leo, why do you NEED to put your jammies back on for nap time?”

“BECAUSE I DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Yes, they are evil little geniuses whose mission it sometimes appears, is to test my patience, something I had always prided myself on (before I had kids, of course). And I love them dearly and with all my heart, obviously.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Fairy Helpers

We have fairies living amongst us in our house. They play with Madeline. They leave her little notes and trinkets. They play hide and seek with a special magic stone that we have been finding in the oddest places over the last three years (we haven’t seen it in a while though because the fairies have a short term memory issue and cannot remember their last clever hiding spot). They protect her (with the help of the family dog) from ghosts, goblins and strangers at night when she is in bed, and on occasion, they bring little reminders of Grandma down from heaven.
And sometimes, they work for me. Like the “Tidy fairies” who pick up toys that sloppy little kids leave lying around.
“Don’t worry honey, I’m sure they will bring your DS back when they think you are ready to be more responsible with it.”
The other day, my brother took his kids and my two oldest to the store and told them they could each pick out one thing. Madeline picked a bag of those nasty little conversation hearts (lumps of sugar) that you give to your friends of Valentine’s Day. It was a big bag filled with twenty or so little individual bags. On the front of the big bag were the words “classroom size”. This, however was not enough to convince her that the bag is intended to be shared with her classmate for her Valentine’s day party. She genuinely intended toeat the whole bag all by herself;
“I DO NOT have to share these if I don’t want to! And when I get home I’m going to hide them in my ‘Madeline hides stuff’ spot.”
The next morning while I was doing laundry I found the “Madeline hides stuff spot” behind her hamper.
Very shortly after she got home from school she ran into her room to get her stash, and quickly came stomping back out;
“MOMMY! Where is my candy?”
“What candy?”
“The candy I hid in my “Madeline hides stuff spot”!
“Uh-oh. I bet I know what happened. I bet the “greedy fairies” came and snatched it because you said you wouldn’t share.”
CUE THE MELTDOWN
“I WANT MY CANDYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! I HATE FAIRIES! I DON’T EVER WANT TO PLAY WITH FAIRIES AGAIN AND I DON’T WANT THEM IN MY ROOM ANYMORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I’m a little taken aback at her over-reaction. For a moment I reconsider as I really don’t want her to hate fairies. But there’s no going back;
“I’m sure they would bring them back if you could convince them that you have decided to share them with your friends, and maybe even your brother.”
“NEVEEEEEEEEER!”
A while later (a pretty long while as she really had to think long and hard about it), she came back and told me that she told the fairies she was ready to share and was now just waiting for them to bring back her candy, which they did.
You know what they say about raising kids, it takes a village…of fairies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Fetching Milestone

As a parent, there is one milestone in particular that I really looked forward to with each child, the day they learned to fetch. It’s the beginning of a whole new life sprinkled with a moment or two to sit down during the day.

I started very early with my first two. The moment they were independently mobile I was trying my luck asking them to get something for me. It was worth a shot to ask my seven month old babies to crawl over and get himself a new diaper.

But there is a catch. Just because they may have learned the skill of going to get something all by themselves doesn’t mean they will actually do it for you. At first it’s all about them. They are excited to discover something new that they can do and will eagerly oblige. But it doesn’t take long for the novelty to wear off and suddenly they realize that they are just doing “work” that Mommy is supposed to be doing because Mommy does everything. And labeling it “help” and trying to explain that concept to a five year old is really no help at all.

And then there is bribery (admit it). I know bribery is not the ideal route, but I have convinced myself that if I use it, it will at least get them into the habit of helping; I’m training them, if you will. (Now that I see this logic written in front of me it’s screaming “backfire”).

And thank goodness for humor, like when I ask Madeline to get her shoes and coat on because the bus is coming and she comes back moments later barreling through the kitchen on roller skates…with no coat. Or when I ask Leo to go get me a pair of jammies from his room and he comes back, very proudly, with his Handy Manny wrench. “Here Mommy, I got you this”, as if he knew better than I did what I really needed.

I struggle with hypocrisy here too. It’s hard to explain to my six year old why I ask her to pick up some of her two year old brother’s messes. She won’t accept the fact that trying to get him to do certain things is really just more work for me. I have to pick my battles.

She gets her revenge however. Like when Leo came back with that wrench instead of his pajamas. She thought it was hysterical. I gave up and asked her to PLEASE go get them for me;

“He’ll get them Mommy, just ask him again.”

“You just want to see what he brings back next don’t you?”

“Yeah I really do” she giggles.

I have to admit, I’m curious too. But in the end, Mommy would get the pajamas, because Mommy does everything, (and because pajamas=bedtime).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The other night Darren said he didn’t care if the house was a little messy for a bit. I think he noticed that despite my very good and sincere efforts, I cannot keep up with the mess these days. He must have forgotten what happened when he told me that he didn’t really mind if my legs were a little hairy sometimes.

It’s so kind of him to notice that I try, and impossible for him to not realize that I’m losing the battle. And I wish I could just say f#$% it and let it go, but if it is this disastrous now, I can’t imagine what it this place would look like if I didn’t spend every waking moment trying to maintain some order. I swear, no matter what else I may be doing, I am always picking something up, wiping something off, putting something back…always. And yet, there is ALWAYS more.

It’s hard to not feel like I’m coming up short. As a stay-at-home mom, I certainly consider it one of my responsibilities to keep the house in order. But, as some sort of sick joke, it appears that it is everyone else’s job in this house to be the biggest slob they can possibly be.

The other day, just moments after a “please pick up for yourself” plea, Madeline asked me where her Spongebob bag was. I sent her down the hall to her brother’s room where she found the bag, and then walked back down the hall emptying all of the contents of the bag in a trail-like fashion thru the whole house.

It’s the nature of the beast (kids); if I don’t need it right now, I’ll just drop it where I stand and move on. And then I will demand that Mommy know where it is the next time I want it.

“Mommy where are my roller skates?”

“I put them away.”

“Away where?”

“Where they belong.”

“Well how am I supposed to know where that is?”

She’s got me there.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Disclaimer: He’s my boyfriend

I still prefer the term boyfriend. It sheds a “young love” aura on our relationship that keeps us genuinely in love. I despise the term “significant other”. It casts shadows on relationships that make you see that significant person in a new, dim light.

But “boyfriend” does not seem to imply to most people that we have been committed to each other for seven years and that he is indeed the father of my children, all 3 of them. Nor does it suggest that we all live together in one beautiful, love filled home. Instead, it evokes many questions. I’ve answered those questions for many years now. I won’t be doing it again here.

Instead, I simply wish to clarify that the poor man who has the occasional “pissed of girlfriend/lunatic mother of his children” rant posted on the world–wide- web in his honor is my boyfriend, my parental teammate, my love.

He works very hard to provide us with a beautiful life. He is kind and generous, and not because I require and demand so much to be happy and if I’m not happy he’s not going to be happy, but because he loves me.

Sometimes we both forget how hard the other one is working to keep our life in balance. Sometimes I secretly curse him because he gets to leave the house everyday to go to work. Sometimes he secretly curses me for getting to stay home with our children all day. Most of the time, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sometimes, we both feel unappreciated. Most of the time, we can’t find the words to tell the other how very thankful we are for everything they do.

Sometimes, we both feel overworked. Most of the time, he inspires me to try harder, and I inspire him to stop and smell the roses.

Sometimes I annoy him with my aloofness, like when I forget to pay a bill or he asks me when I last checked my oil and I say “I’ve never checked my oil. Am I supposed to check my oil?” Most of the time he considers it part of my charm (I hope).

Sometimes he infuriates me with his ability to tune out or children, like when Leo has been asking (whining)for a bowl of cereal nonstop for 15 minutes and he is standing in the kitchen but does not seem to hear the question (whining) that I can hear all the way upstairs. Most of the time I am just jealous that I don’t have that power.

He is my boyfriend; the perfectly imperfect patriarch of our perfectly imperfect clan, my fourth muse.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Excerpts from a Saturday morning.

It all began before I had even opened my eyes.
“Mommy can I please have some cereal, mommy?” '
He may have the sweetest little voice in the whole wide world, but to begin the day with the first of a million requests (500 of which were for this bowl of cereal) complete with two of the million plus “mommies” I would hear throughout the day was a bad sign.

Do you have any idea how much you love me?”
This line accompanied the always sweet kiss goodbye from my love who was off to the gym. At the time it was both sweet and cute enough to almost make up for my rude awakening, but still not enough to drag me out of bed.

“MOMMY I NEED SOME CEREAL!!!”
“Go ask Daddy. He’s in the kitchen. Hurry before he leaves.”
I just needed five more minutes in bed.

“Daddy can I have some cereal.”
“I can’t. I gotta go. I’m late”.
Apparently the treadmill does not like it when you’re 8 seconds late for a workout.

“MOMMMMMYYYY! I NEED SOME CEREAAAAAAAALLLL!”
I had to get up NOW, and on the WRONG SIDE OF THE BED!

I got the cereal while simultaneously trying to make my coffee and curse my boyfriend and his now obnoxious and infuriating comment this morning. All of this was serenaded by the self inflating whoopee cushion Santa brought (strike three for daddy this morning).

“Mommy, can we go in the hot tub?”
“Sure, after breakfast”.
Breakfast over. Clothes off.
“You didn’t eat your cereal, the cereal your life clearly depended on five minutes ago."
“We want to go in the hot tub”
I want to throw the bowls of cereal across the room but I can’t even conjure up lunatic mommy before my first cup of coffee. She requires a lot of energy to sufficiently snap.

“Mommy, can we go in the hot tub, mommy…mommy…mommy….hot tub…hot tub…hot tub.”

“Yes, after my coffee” I tell my naked, impatient children.
In the meantime…

“Maddie you smell like your butt.”

“Leo, touch your butt to my butt.”

“Mommy, there are four more months til warm weather… and I did four air biscuits this morning.”

MOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMYMOMMY

And finally, or what I had meant to be final, “I’m not Mommy right now, I’m just a lady in a hot tub.”

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I resolve to make a better effort at being the cool, calm and collected mother I swore I was going to be before I had kids.
I resolve to spend less time screaming at my kids in frustration and more time communicating with them with patience.
I resolve to worry less about the toys scattered all over the house, and to sit down and play with them, and my children more.
I resolve to understand that my six year old, despite being a very capable little girl, is only six (and just like her mother), and all of my psychotic ranting and raving about lost mittens and shoes, a messy bedroom or a feisty little attitude is not going to change that, thank God.
I resolve to stop scolding my six year old for something and then laughing at my adorable two year old when he does the same thing.
I resolve to stop going to Target just because it's too cold to play outside and I cannot play farm and tractors all morning again for the eighth day in a row and I need to get of us out of the house before we all drive each other crazy.
I resolve to suck it up and go play outside more, even when it's a little cold out.
I resolve to spend less time wishing my children were perfect little angels, and more time enjoying the child in them.
I resolve to spend more time with the child in me.
I resolve to stop wondering why my children do the things they do, and to remember that I once did the same infuriating things.
I resolve to woman-up to the responsibility of helping my children become the genuinely good people they are meant to be.
I resolve to finish what I start, and to teach my children to do the same.
I resolve to write more; to stop using motherhood as my excuse for being creatively lazy and to rediscover my three greatest muses.
I resolve to cook more, maybe.
And in honor of my mother, I resolve to get organized (I just wish she were here to give me my annual day planner/organizer for Christmas this year, the one we both knew I was never going to use). I resolve to make us both proud.
I resolve to go easier on myself when, despite my best efforts, some things are left unresolved.
I resolve to be a better mom.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tale of a recovering potty mouth

“Oh shit, in need more sprinkle cheese”. It’s funny to hear a two year old utter his first curse word, and couple that with the words sprinkle cheese and it’s downright adorable. But why is it so shocking? “Where did he pick that up?” I say, trying to skirt responsibility. It strikes me that it could be from his primary care giver; the woman who prides herself on being a stay-at-home mom in an effort take on the challenge of teaching and molding her children to be good people, the woman who thought she was a reformed curser but is merely a recovering truck driver mouth who will never be fully healed and obviously still has the occasional slip ups.
But why is it that these tiny little words are the only ones echoed by these tiny little people? How is it that in the midst of a lengthy rant, it is only the “f bomb” that makes an impact (so that’s where that term comes from)? And how am I supposed to explain to my six year old daughter why the word “poop” is infuriating and NOT FUNNY but hearing her little brother say “fuck” cracks me up? She doesn’t mimic me anymore either. Instead, when she hears me curse she gives a punishing “MOMMYYYYY”. “Oh, I’m sorry honey.” Yeah, I’m sorry I just got caught and scolded by my kid.
I remember when I discovered the joy of cursing. One day my best childhood friend and I were frolicking through the woods around our neighborhood and decided it was “shit day”. We threw the forbidden word into every sentence we spoke, confident that there were no adults to reprimand us in our happy place. It was very liberating.
Another time, I was at school where my father was my fourth grade teacher. At recess, my friend shouted “shit!” during and intense kickball game. Instantly, and out of nowhere, we heard my dad’s voice crash down onto our playground (along with, as I remember it, a crash of thunder and a bolt of lightning on that lovely spring day). She was sent inside to mull over her mistake, my father’s version of which was purely uttering the word, and our version of which was uttering the word anywhere other than the middle of the forest where no adult had ever been sighted. At the end of the day, my dad would call her mom and tell her what had transpired. She was grounded, and I was thanking my lucky stars that our teacher, my father, had not had to call my mother, his wife.
Now if I could only learn to control myself around my children as I did around my parents; never curse when you know they will catch you! Save it for when you are all alone. Oh, I just realized the snag in my plan. I haven’t been all alone in six years and three kids. That’s a long time and a lot of temptation for a recovering addict.