Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Several Truths And One Big Lie About Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I did not have an excellent Mother’s Day. I’m not saying that to make my family feel bad or shame anyone. I’m saying that because there’s a pretty good chance YOU didn’t have an excellent Mother’s Day either and I want you to know you’re not alone. Those perfect, smiling, happy families on Instagram and Twitter probably didn’t have flawless Mother’s Days either. They might have had a very nice day. A spectacular day. But it was not perfect – perfect is the lie. Kids – even kids big enough to understand the concept of Mother’s Day – don’t stop being kids just because it’s the second Sunday in May. Not once has saying “But it’s Mother’s Day!!” to a tantruming child solved the problem. They do not suddenly stop being tired or hungry or frustrated and pull a bouquet of flowers out from behind their back and say “Oh dear mother, I had simply forgotten! Shall I fetch you a coffee or a glass of wine?” If that is your life, Mother’s Day or not, I hate you.

The problem as I see it is that Mother’s Day is supposed to be Special and things that are supposed to be Special just lead to disappointment. That is why women become bridezillas about their One Special  Wedding Day and freak out that every single second doesn’t go according to plan. The pressure of that ONE DAY is just too much. Mother’s Day is the ONE DAY a year we are supposed to be indulged and pampered and appreciated above ALL the other days. Sleeping in and breakfast in bed and champagne brunch and a family picnic and a manicure and a relaxing nap and a romantic dinner date and a thoughtful gift and a homemade card and flowers and a bottle of wine. If you family really loves you, they will do all of that. Except no, they won’t. And even if you don’t really need them to…even if you try really really hard to keep your expectations super low…even if you say “I will be happy if all I get is a card the kids made at school”…it’s hard to stare into the face of social expectations and be OK with not having a perfect day.

I actually would have had a pretty good Sunday if it had just been a Sunday. I got to lie in bed for an extra hour. My husband picked up lunch for all of us. I got to buy and plant flowers with the kids. And we finished the day by having s’mores for dinner on the newly cleaned patio. But I also did laundry and dishes and changed diapers and made decisions (ugh, DECISIONS) and dealt with tantrums and took the kids with me to run errands and bought paper towels. I really didn’t want to have to buy paper towels on Mother’s Day.

Let me tell you what I really want for Mother’s Day. I want to be a dad on a regular Sunday. I’m making generalizations here for the sake of simplicity, but in my social circle moms are almost always the default parent; the one the kids go to first for everything no matter who is closer/more available at that moment. On Mother’s Day, I want to be the dad. The fun parent. I want to say “Everyone jump in the car, we’re getting ice cream!” and not worry about if it’s too close to dinner or if we need to stop at the grocery store later to pick up stuff for school lunch the next day. The fun parent pees alone. The fun parent has time to read a book or a magazine or the back of a cereal box without being interrupted. The fun parent doesn’t always have one ear open for children’s whines or screams or cries or problems or squabbles 24 hours a day. The fun parent says “We’re out of mustard” into the fridge and, magically, mustard appears 24 hours later.

And then MAYBE on Mother’s Day all of us default parents will get a card and a bouquet and a nap not because it’s our One Special Day but because the fun parent wants to do something to acknowledge being a mom is kind of a tough job.

But since I am not a monster, I did in fact enjoy many parts of my Mother’s Day. The big kids – Caroline especially – remembered it was Mother’s Day and reminded me constantly I was supposed to be having The Best Mother’s Day Ever. There were s’mores. And now whenever we sit on the front steps for the bus we can admire the flowers we planted, together.

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She said the plants needed love to grow.

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Just A Mommy

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
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Mommy uniform: Messy bun, cardi, statement necklace, leggings, boots, phone in her purse, camera and of course, her Baby Jesus.

 

A few weeks ago, my daughter had a career day at school. When I asked her what she wanted to be, I was only half listening, since in my head I was trying to figure out what dress up we could repurpose as “Doctor” or “President” or “Nobel Peace Prize Winner”.

“A MOMMY!” she shouted.

I have been a stay-at-home-mom for 6 years now. I wipe tushies and noses and hands. I do laundry, then some more laundry, then do all the laundry again. I take kids to ballet and swim and doctor’s appointments and baby signs and birthday parties. I cut coupons and make lists and menu plans and 12 trips to the grocery store and then still end up serving tacos and spaghetti two nights a week.

I wear a lot of yoga pants.

“Oh,” I said. “A mommy,” I said. “But wouldn’t you like to be something else AND a mommy?? You don’t have to be JUST a mommy.”

I flinched when I said it. The words floated out of my mouth and hung right in front of my face where I thought about how it was a stupid thing to say. I know better.

Being a mom isn’t just keeping children alive – although some days that is all I seem to manage. We can’t just feed and clothe them, we have to raise them up and impart everything we know into their empty heads. We are turning small squishy lumps of need into tiny humans who then turn into actual real humans and grow up to be, well, everything. We teach patience because one day they’ll need it while discovering the gene that cures cancer. We teach kindness because one day they might build hospitals for villages in need. We teach the alphabet so they can write the great American novel. We clean up a zillion finger paint messes so they can become great artists. Someone right now is wiping the butt of a future president.

I want Caroline to know that she has the option to be whatever she wants when she grows up, especially right now when she’s capable of dreaming about future careers without worrying about their practicality. I remember telling my mother I was going to be a ballerina marine biologist and her saying “That is a great idea”. I want her to find a passion and explore it and love it and then change her mind. I want her to change her mind a million and one times before she actually finds a career. I want her to reach for the stars…or the bottom of the sea…or the top of a mountain…or wherever it is that super successful and happy people reach. Because as cliche as it sounds, I only want her to be happy.

I don’t want anyone to ever tell my daughter she HAS to be a mother or that she can ONLY be a mother, but if she wants to be a mother – even if she wants to be JUST a mommy – then I would be very, very proud of her.

When she came home from career day, I asked her what her friends dressed up as. “Logan was a motorcycle guy!” she explained, “And all the girls were princesses!”

So maybe Mommy is a bold choice for a 4 year old after all.

And hey, I must make being a mommy look like a lot of fun if it’s something she’s looking forward to. Although it might just be because she wants to be the boss.

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Life With 3: Update 1

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

It is 11:25 am and I am watching The Price is Right, which means life is really good right now. That’s how I judge my level of happiness: am I able to be home, eating a sandwich, between the hours of 11 and 12 so I can watch Drew Carey give away cars? Yes? Success!!

Tomorrow Linc will be 1 month old, and I’ll start doing monthday updates again. I have big plans to do a same-spot monthly photo like I did with Caroline’s tutu, but I am TERRIBLE at following through with stuff like that so we’ll see.

It turns out the hardest part of having three kids isn’t the third kid – it’s the first two. I thought I had done a really good job teaching Evan and Caroline to play on their own without needing me to intervene or referee much. But in reality I just didn’t realize how often I had to step in until I was stuck on the couch under a sleeping or nursing baby and couldn’t break up their squabbles. There has been a LOT more yelling than I like (and I’m not even strictly anti-yelling) just because I CAN’T walk into the other room and deal with them calmly. Caroline has started shouting “Moooooom Evan is TORTURING ME again!” and Evan shouts “DON’T COME UP HERE!” and then I have to stomp up the stairs while they both shout “NOOOOOO! We’ll be good! We promise!!!!” It’s fairly exhausting just to listen to them all day, plus the stomping is really rough on my knees.

Luckily, I only have everyone home for one more week before school starts. School itself is going to be a challenge – Evan’s bus comes REALLY early and I’m kind of nervous about how he’ll behave during a long ride to school – but the quiet I’m going to get while both big kids are gone is going to be life-changing. I can start blogging again. I can edit photos. I can finish knitting one of the 5 baby hats I’ve started but not finished. I can start taking pictures for other people so I can start saving up for the new lens I want.

And I can do ALL that stuff because Linc is a super easy baby. I have absolutely NO delusions this has anything to do with me or my parenting whatsoever. It’s luck. Just luck. Maybe there’s a little truth to the idea that because I’m not tense and nervous and stressed the baby isn’t tense and nervous and stressed, but that’s anecdotal at best. I know plenty of people whose second or third baby was WAY more high-needs than the first one. I just got an easy one this time, for which I am unbelievably thankful. With E gone almost all the time I would be seriously, SERIOUSLY losing my mind if I had an inconsolable, colicky baby.

The day my mom left me alone with all 3 kids I looked around and realized my house was clean and organized, and if I could just MAINTAIN that current level I could avoid a disaster. I’ve been doing really well – right now there’s only one load of laundry not put away and all the dishes are in the dishwasher – but I’ve given up on the kids’ room. Until they go to school and I can spend a good 3+ hours in there purging it’s hopeless. Luckily the rest of the house is still in good shape, so I can just shut their door and ignore it. I’m also ALMOST done with Linc’s nursery – I still haven’t ordered the crib and I need my husband to build me a shelf – and I’m really excited to share it.

Now I have a very important episode of House Hunters: Where Are They Now? to watch while I make a grocery list and a meal plan and enjoy this slightly annoying update while I can. I feel like the next one (after the 6 am wake ups and lunch packing and school drama) will be…much less smug.

 

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Don’t Forget

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Evan is 5 years and 3 months old.

He refuses to let me cut his hair, even though it is getting long and shaggy and gets stuck in his goggles when he tries to swim. Swimming is the only sport or activity he wants to be signed up for, although he said in the fall he’d like to try football.

Evan loves cereal more than any other food. He would rather eat cereal than ice cream or candy or soda or anything else. Sometimes it’s understandable (who doesn’t love Lucky Charms?) but sometimes it’s something really random, like Honey Bunches of Oats. This week it was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which he had never actually eaten before but INSISTED I buy at the grocery store. He ate 4 bowls between noon and bedtime.

He is a really good helper and will try to do anything you ask, even if he’s not physically capable of doing it. But he is willing to TRY and then ask for help if he needs it. It’s such an amazing grown up skill that even a lot of real grown ups struggle with.

If you ask him to describe himself, he’ll say he’s a ginger and he’s brave.

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Caroline is 3 years and 7 months old.

She thinks all “3”s and “C”s belong to her personally, so when she sees them on signs or in stores she wants to take them home.

All of her toys have basically the same name. Her toy horse is called Horse. Her zebra is named Zebra-Zeeb. A stuffed duck is named Ducky Duck Duck. The only exceptions are her two baby dolls, who are named Baby Memba and Baby Jesus. Obviously.

Caroline calls herself a “curly girl” because people are always commenting on her beautiful hair. Then she finger-twirls her curls because she’s in an invisible contest for the cutest child ever.

Today she told me that “duplicate” is when there is more than one of you, like when you look in the mirror.

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Both children have no fear or strangers or people. They will ask to be friends with anyone and get sad when their “new friends” (aka the girl they met in the waiting room, the bagger at the grocery store, a random guy who held the door at the mall) leave.

They ate 3/4 of a watermelon today. A real full size watermelon.

They are best friends. They often try to kill each other. I hope nothing changes.

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Dance Mom

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Caroline had her first ballet recital on Friday night. She’s taken 13 weeks of classes and she’s only three and half, which means about 75% of the performance was her staring into the wings to watch the teacher and 25% was her screaming the words to “Deep In The Heart Of Texas” with a giant, dramatic point at the audience for every “Texas!!!!!!!”

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That was pretty standard for the entire class, although there were a couple of girls who you can imagine on So You Think You Can Dance in 15 years (or whatever the 2030 equivalent is – So You Managed  To Not Let Technology and Common Core Ruin Your Life And Are Capable Of Expressing Emotion With Your Movement Directly Into Our Brains??). They’ll say things like “I’ve always loved being on the stage” and “I can just feel the music and connect with it naturally.”

Caroline will probably not be that girl. I mean, this is a really early prediction and far be it from me to crush her dreams in any way and if she wanted to spend the next decade in dance classes I will be NOTHING but supportive. But I do not thing dance is going to be her thing.

Dress rehearsal was…long. And a little stressful. The class is through a local town’s parks & rec department but the instructor REALLY wants the kids to do a good job so she can be capital-I Intense. There may have been some yelling because the 3 year olds didn’t have the laces on their ballet shoes tucked in. There was some public scolding about an improper hair clip. The teacher is basically a SAINT for dealing with. like, 100 kids whose parents don’t care enough to pay for fancy dance but want a recital anyway, but even saints lose their shit a little bit right before curtain.

By the end of rehearsal, when all Caroline had left to do was the Hokey Pokey with the rest of the little kid classes, she lost it. She was the kid – the only kid – who ran off stage crying that she wanted her mommy and didn’t like dance anymore. I left Evan to misbehave in the audience while I tried to coax Caroline back on stage.

When I say “coax”, I mean I tried every single thing I could think of that didn’t involve physically dragging her on stage and leaving her there. I told her she needed to be a big girl. I told her she could quit if she wanted to and we could go home. I told her she was being ridiculous. I promised her ice cream if she would JUST STOP freaking out. I told her everyone got scared before they went on stage and it was totally OK and I loved her no matter what. I told her dancing was FUN and she LOVED dancing and why didn’t she want to do some FUN DANCING on the stage?

I don’t really know what my parenting style might be called, but it is definitely not “consistent”. I have no idea what I am doing.

The next night, before the actual performance, she threw a fit again. I was supposed to drop her off with her class back stage but every time I tried to leave her eyes filled with tears. There was an incident with her hair bow (apparently it was on the wrong side and needed to be moved despite the fact that no one had EVER said ANYTHING about WHICH SIDE it needed to be on before WHATEVER I DON’T CARE) and she started crying again. I went back to comfort her (mistake!) and she started the clinging/crying/yet insisting she DID want to dance cycle all over.

I left. I sat in the audience with all my crossables crossed that she at least WENT on stage, even if she just stood there.

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And she did great! Once she was out on the stage under the lights she performed and hammed it up and blew kisses. She loved the applause and the cheering and being the center of attention. She did both routines as perfectly as I could have hoped from a 3 year old. It was adorable.

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But even though it ended well, I’m not sure how I feel about signing her for more classes. I don’t want to be the mom who pushes her kid to perform when she doesn’t want to. I didn’t like snapping at her not to mess up her hair or smush her skirt. I am embarrassed that I was embarrassed when she was upset and even though she knows I am SO proud of her I don’t want her to feel disappointed in herself if she messes up. I loved dance class when I was a kid but never really loved the recital part. To this day I have that nightmare where you show up backstage and realize you have NO idea how the routine goes.

I am probably (definitely) overthinking this. Caroline is 3. If she says she wants to take ballet again in the fall, she can take ballet again in the fall. If she DOESN’T want to do the recital next June, she doesn’t have to do the recital. I do not have to have a philosophical discussion with myself over Intro Ballet or Beginner Tap and whether or not I am turning into a crazy Dance Mom after ONE recital. If you ask Caroline right now if she liked performing she will say “YES!” and shout at you about the stars at night and their largeness and brightness. That’s really what matters. But I think I learned something about myself and my parenting I am not sure I’m totally sure I like what I learned.

Let’s ignore my poor parenting and just squee over how adorable my daughter is instead.

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Adorable cowgirl themed finale costume handmade by me…HAHAHAHAHA NO, I bought it on Etsy. I could have tried to find her some jeans and a bandanna but this was easier to do from the couch.

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