Posts Tagged ‘being a grown up’

Doing My Best (Question Mark) (Exclamation Point)

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Once a week or so my Facebook, which skews heavily towards moms, blows up with a post or article from the interwebs about being a better parent. Posts about putting down your phone and paying more attention to the present, posts about why you should never yell at your kids, posts about how teaching your children patience means letting them take 45 minutes to put on their coat, posts about all the ways you are probably scarring your children and ruining their lives because you aren’t perfect.

Basically, posts about how someone else lives their life better than me. I suck.

I made the mistake of reading one of the posts about yelling on a particularly bad day. I had just been hit with pregnancy symptoms, I had been solo parenting for weeks, the holiday planning was making me feel overwhelmed and stressed and instead of providing me with a hilarious list of animals that look like characters from Downton Abbey the internet punched me in the face with guilt.

Of course, any day is probably a bad day to read parenting advice. I cannot remember a single day since having kids where I was perfect. Pre-kids no one was really expecting me to be, you know?? As long as I didn’t commit any major crimes no one cared and the majority of the advice aimed at me was how to build a work wardrobe for under $200 or how to plan a dinner party for 12. But once you biologically become a parent people suddenly expect you to be a great parent all the time, although no one can even tell you what that means. There isn’t a handbook. There isn’t even a PAMPHLET. And even if there was, I’d still be doing stuff wrong.

Even on days where the kids are angels and I’m a saint, we probably didn’t eat all-organic, locally-sourced, home-cooked meals. We probably ate McDonalds. On the days when we eat a real, fully-balanced meal made with ingredients from the farmer’s market the kids probably watched 4 hours of iPad so I could make the damn thing.

Some days, I toss something in the trash, miss, and then just stand there staring at it on the floor, hoping it might pick itself up. I make sure my children are not physically suffering and then lie down on the couch. The kids eat Pop Tarts for dinner with a side of Pop Tarts for dessert. I yell. I am unfair. I cannot wait for them to go to bed.

As far as I am concerned, both of those days are my best effort. I am giving 100% of myself. All the parts that aren’t being used to keep me alive are going to my children. But I’m a person too, and some days I need all of my own energy to function. I need an extra hour to sleep instead of doing a craft or to watch House Hunters instead of PBS. I need 10 minutes of silence instead of breaking up another argument so I just let them argue. I need to lock the bathroom door so I can pee my pants while I throw up privately instead of with an audience. Again. I NEED those things, the same way I need air and food.

I assume if my life circumstances changed, I would find more to give. Working moms do way more than I do and survive. Single moms do way WAY more an survive. Literally a billion other mothers do more than I do and survive. But right now, at this moment, in my own life, I am giving 100%. You are probably also giving 100%, whether that means making those all-organic meals every night or taking even more naps than I do.

It’s not as hopeless as it sounds. Most nights I go to bed feeling like I had a successful day and not beating myself up over my mistakes (I figure in another four and a half years I might stop doing it all together). Even when I am totally drained I am lucky to have this life – and I really do feel lucky instead of just saying I’m lucky. My kids are great kids, despite my mistakes, and so far show no signs of permanent damage from either cheeseburgers or Disney Jr binges. Since I realized I cannot do everything – and don’t even WANT to do everything – I have gotten much, much happier. Just don’t show up unannounced or I won’t let you in to see my messy house, screaming children, and wet pants.

Thirty And A Half is the New Thirty And A Half

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

I recently realized I am closer to 31 than I am to 30. For some reason, that difference feels dramatic. Maybe because now I’m “in my thirties”, as opposed to saying “Oh I just turned 30, so you know, barely a real grown up. Let’s stay up until 2 a.m.!” Funny enough, I still feel like I’m 22. Or 19. Or 16. I used to wonder how moms turned into Moms – the women with baggy pants and minivans and short hair dragging a gaggle of kids behind them. Because obviously that was NEVER going to happen to me. I am young and fun and will always be young and fun no matter how many kids I have! Exclamation point! Except that today none of my jeans fit and my kid threw yogurt on me this morning and I didn’t have time for make-up so here I am, in my minivan and yoga pants, looking like all the other Moms in the preschool drop off line. But somehow I still don’t FEEL like a Mom inside. My inner self – the one who looks out through my eye holes at the world – has a hard time believing the person in the mirror with the crow’s feet and stretchmarks is really ME.

But you know what? THAT’S OK. During every single one of my 31 years so far I’ve learned something important. Basic human skills (eating without getting food all over myself was a good one), important interpersonal skills (listen when people tell you who they are), and practical skills (like how to sew a skirt or knit a hat). There are some things I have to re-learn once a day – why oh WHY do I never take my eye makeup off before bed?! – and some I have to re-learn on a minute-by-minute basis – eating just one more cookie is not a good idea now and won’t be a good idea 8 cookies from now.

All those lessons meld together to make me who I am, and the person I am today is a much better person than I was a decade ago, and not just because I’ve crossed more things off my bucket list. Growing older surrounded by my friends and family is a joy. Every year I get to spend with my kids is the best year of my life (although it is so true that sometimes the days can be extremely long). All 30 and a half of my years so far have made me who I am today, and I wouldn’t give up a minute of it. How do celebrate your age? Do you still feel 16 inside even when your face tells you you’re not?

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At Least We Both Agree Keeping Them Alive Is Important

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Because it is a Monday and it is not raining, I have exactly 90 minutes between the moment E walks in the door and the moment he leaves again for hockey practice. 90 glorious free minutes during which I can take a shower unassisted by a toddler (“Mama, BOOBS!”) or fold laundry using both arms or sweep the front porch without anyone running through the piles of dirt and tracking it straight into the house. 90 precious minutes to fit in all the chores and errands that are a struggle to do with two kids but should really be done sooner rather than later.

“I’m just going to run to the post office”, I said to E as I grabbed my keys. “Caroline just woke up so she probably needs a diaper [I throw a diaper and a clean outfit in his direction]. You don’t have to get her dressed though, if you want to give her some of this watermelon I cut up she’ll get all messy anyway. Just put her in the high chair. And there are apples in the bowl if you want to put some in her meshie, although it might be in the dishwasher but those dishes are clean so you could get it out.”

E looks up from the remote. “How long are you going to be GONE?”

And that, right there, is the cause of 99% of our fights. I think taking care of the babies is a full time, active job that involves fruits and vegetables and songs and flashcards and cute outfits and playgroups and tummy time. E thinks it involves making sure everyone is breathing and relatively non-poop encrusted.

In the end, we are both right. There are plenty of parenting moments that are nothing more than sitting on the floor with the kids, playing “how big is the baby?” or “where’s your belly button?” or “how hard can you whack daddy in the nuts while trying to climb on him?” But as the primary childcare provider*, more of my time is spent feeding, changing, dressing, rocking, nursing, chasing, holding, and disciplining children. My default mode is to PROVIDE.

So when I hand over the parenting reins for a few minutes I expect my husband to stay just as busy. No, Caroline isn’t going to STARVE if he doesn’t give her some watermelon during the twelve minutes I’m gone. But I was the parent who was home while E went to the post office, those are all the things I would have been doing. I feel like shared parenting means sharing all of it – not just the interesting parts. On the balance sheet of taking care of kids, he doesn’t get to cross of “get hugs” and “read books” while I’m stuck with “offer the baby eleven different foods to throw on the floor” and “let the toddler spit out the apple skin he refuses to swallow for the umpteenth time into your hand.”

But my parenting advice never goes over well and the more times I suggest – Honey you should…Honey why don’t…Honey I think… – the more annoyed E gets and, ironically, the less likely he is to pitch in. Not because he is spiteful and mean, but because who wants to keep doing something you are told over and over you are not good at? (I mean BESIDES blogging, because obviously no one can stop me from sucking up more than my share of the interwebs. I’m in yur bandwidth, writtin down mah rambling thoughts!)

We need to find a compromise that DOESN’T involve either of us threatening to move to Australia.

*And hey, who wants to talk about how totally messed up it is that childcare costs a frickin ZILLION DOLLARS, but watching one’s own children doesn’t count as a job? Oh, you don’t have time to discuss one of the most written about parts of motherhood ever? How about just an Amen?