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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!