Category Archives: Guilt and motherhood

Just Thought I’d Ask

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As much as I try to deny it, my children are growing up. (Damn.) My sweet little two year old C.  is going to be three this summer. I have even begun the process of enrolling him in school part time this fall. Its hard to believe that in a mere nine months, I won’t have a child home with me full time.

How did that happen?

And where does that leave me?

In 2003, I quit my full time job to be home with my children. And soon, over five years later with two kids in school and a huge gap in my resume, I have to figure out how I am going to help earn more for this family. Times are tough everywhere. We are lucky my husband is even employed. I am an able bodied person, so back to work with me. If this all sounds familiar, it should because I have been stressed about this issue before. Its one I go round in circles about. I think we all do.

But here’s the thing. This past year, some amazing things have happened for me. I am beginning to feel that I need to pay careful attention to whats going on around me. The signs are there.  It seems that something real may waiting for me in my future. I know this sounds like I am buying into some new age hocus pocus… *Shrug* Well. I don’t know. Maybe I am. Because I almost feel like the universe – and all that is beyond me – is quietly trying to tell me something. You might remember I have noticed this before. And all of those crazy signs I was talking about then still just keep popping up everywhere.

This way, this way. Over here. Come this way…

So, if we are going to go there, and get all spiritual up on this blog, I think I am going to go ahead and practice a tried and true lesson from the heavens. I have heard that in order to get what you want, you must ask for it. So that’s what I am going to do. I am going push aside those feelings of “I shouldn’t ask for anything, I don’t deserve anything more, I have enough” and just simply ask the powers that be for a little favor.

To all that are listening, whether they be up at the pearly gates or right here next to me as I type this post (cue the inspirational Enya music, switch on the hallowed lights from the heavens) – this is what I hope I can do to earn my keep around here:

I want to write.

(Shocking, I know.)

But I want to be paid to write. And I adore blogging, really I do, and I plan to keep doing it. But am I the next Dooce? I don’t think so. My life is really not interesting enough to have a well paying blog about… err… little ol’ me.

But I would love to write articles, be paid to post on other blogs, write reviews, write editorials in magazines or online… shoot, whatever it is, I just want to write and make some extra scratch for groceries or (eeks, this seems like a lot to ask) maybe even a car payment.

Now if you are a parent blogger, writing from home like I am, I am betting you are having a good laugh right about now. Because this is probably exactly what you want too. You know how great writing is. You can work from home and then be there for your children when they get home from school. You set your own hours and you take on as much work as you can handle. Its kind of ideal, right? Yeah, that’s what I think too.

Well, even if every other parent blogger wants to do what I hope to do, so what. It still can’t hurt to ask, right?

So. To the powers that be. Whoever is out there, up there, over there, right here pushing mystical buttons and pulling heavenly levers… could you just make a note? Maybe tag me and set me aside for something that seems to fit my needs down the road a bit? I’m not asking to be Editor in Chief of Redbook or the next Jen Weiner, I just want to love what I do… and write. Then maybe I can help pay some bills around here and make sure T. is getting his homework done before he turns on the Wii. It’s not too much to ask, right? I hope not.

Anyway. Back I go to stumbling down this path, with no clue where it will take me, uncovering the tiny little signs that are pointing me this way.  I know I keep checking myself, questioning my faith in it all, saying “Well, I don’t know, I’ll try it for now but lets not get our hopes up.” But then, right at my feet, another sign will appear. And if I look very, very closely it says the same thing that they all do. It simply says “write, write, write”. So I am.

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Filed under Blog love, Deep thoughts, Destinies, Guilt and motherhood, Identity crisis, Panicking, Reality check, Self-analysis, Signs, Spirituality, Working moms

Be a Better Parent without Forgeting about Yourself

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This is a post for parents. For mothers and fathers whose lives have done an entire 180 and have landed *splat* face down on the sidewalk since they have had children. After five years of parenting, I consider myself entirely too enlightened about one key factor: the you, the “you” you knew before your kids were left in a bundle on your doorstep, will become a scarce, mythical beast, read only about in fairy tales, lest you corner that old “you”, wrastle it to the ground and trap it in a place you can access on a daily basis.

What am I on about? Parents know. Its the days of wearing old t-shirts because your breasts are leaking constantly. Its cutting your hair because you are tired of having it yanked out a strand at a time. Its crushed crackers in a diaper bag, while all the cute bags slowly fade out of style in your closet. Its Friday nights asleep on the couch while a well intentioned DVD plays in the background. Its the groundhog days filled with time outs, thrown applesauce, nails down the chalk board screams, flushed toys and poopy diaper wrestling. It’s considering your annual trip to your OBGYN “a day out”. It’s never having a private moment in the bathroom. Ever.

Please. To all my brothers and sisters in the trenches of parenthood. Take a look around. When was the last time you went on a date with your partner? When was the last time you wore something “dry clean only”? When was the last time you left the house without diapers, snacks, sippy cups, and an outift change? When was the last time you slept somewhere away from your children and then – gasp – allowed yourself to sleep in past 7am?

It is so very important to remember what makes you happy. Yes, yes. Your happy child makes you happy. So does 8pm when they are (God willing) in bed finally. But what makes YOU tick? Before kids. Did you like to read? (And I don’t mean board books.) Did you have a hobby? Did you see friends often? Did you exercise? Did you have actual leisure time?

Did you?

Do you have any of that stuff now? No??? Go find it. Quick. Hire a sitter, even if it costs money. Figure out a girls night out. Have a friend take the kids for an afternoon. Check the guilt at the door and do something for YOURSELF.

Because if you don’t, you will truly lose yourself and your mind. You will forget who you are. You will actually forget what you truly LIKE to do. All of the sudden, ALL that you know about yourself is being… well… a parent. Take away the kids, and suddenly there is nothing left. Your identity is simply… a mom. Or a dad.

And it can happen so quickly. You’re there and then *POOF*, suddenly, you’re gone.

No disrespect of course. Being a parent is an incredible and, yes, noble job. It is an honorable identity to assume, and every parent should claim that title with pride. As my aunt always reminds me, parenting it the hardest job there is. Yeah, you bet your animal crackers it is. And THAT’S exactly why its so easy to loose yourself. There is so much to do while parenting that when you forget about the “you” stuff, the “kid” stuff seeps in and fills in all the cracks. There is always a sippy cup to fill, a puzzle to make, and a nose – or bum – to wipe. Just let someone else do it once in awhile, that’s all. It will still be there when you get back. No one will take the title of “mom” or “dad” away from you. Just be your first name, the name you had before “mom” or “dad”, once and awhile.

Have you still not shaken your parental guilt to consider more time for yourself? Don’t forget that when you are happier, you are a happier – and therefore better – parent. And then theres the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. When you take some time away, you do miss your kids. And upon your return, you and your partner will actually fight for the chance to change a poopy diaper. Seriously, it happens.

And I know the tough times of parenting are fleeting. I am betting my wiser readers who have been parents longer than I have are pleading to me “Oh but enjoy these tough days. Enjoy your child before he grows up. They will be gone in an instant!”

Sadly, I know that. And I fear that. Everyday I bring my 5 year old home from school and I hold him tight tight tight because I can literally feel his mind and body growing in my arms. But that is also my point. They DO grow up so damn fast. And then in an instant, they are off to college. Where does that leave you? If your child went to college today (forget that he or she is a 2 year old toddler) – who would you be right now? How would you identify yourself? What kind of fun would you have with your spouse? Do you know? You need to know. Think about it.

Now please do not assume I actually have this figured out. (Snort.) Honestly? I am writing this post while deeply in the trenches of an extraordinarily all consuming phase of parenting. My husband is just about to begin his season and that will require him to work six days a week, working as late as 10pm. But in the midst of this time, while I raise these wonderful but tough kids of mine and my husband works so that I can take care of these wonderful but tough kids of ours, I am trying to keep track of myself. For instance, I write when I have any time, from my home, with the kids here next to me. While multi-tasking this mommy stuff, I am hoping to piece together some clue so I can be a better (potentially paid) writer “when I grow up”. And I have started running. Insane, right? But I’m into it (I’ll even go before my husband leaves for work) and now dream of finding some way to have my kids watched so I can run a 5K.

Granted, I keep reminding myself to keep my expectations reasonable. Diaper changing, referreeing the rules of sharing and helping with homework is just what I do for now. But dreaming, and clinging stubbornly onto what truly makes me tick, does allow me to be more than just “Mom” – but “Caroline” too.

The picture posted above is of me with my boys. It was taken about a year and a half ago and might be titled “Me as Mommy”. It is one of my favorites as I am caught in a very typical, absolutely wonderful, however all consuming parenting moment.

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Filed under Aging, Boys, Children, Deep thoughts, Family, Fathers, Growing up, Guilt and motherhood, Identity crisis, Marriage, Mothers, Parenting, Reality check

Michelle Obama as First Lady, Feminist and Mom in Chief

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I can’t help but empathize with Michelle Obama right now. As a mother of two small children myself, I keep trying to imagine what she is going through as she prepares her family for life in the White House. I think about her little girls growing up in Washington DC as I did, attending a school right down the road from where I grew up. And as I empathise with our future first lady, my ears perk up when I read both about the support and criticism she is receiving as an accomplished woman who has decided to make her role in the White House “mom-in-chief”.

There can be no more daunting task than trying to raise the First Children. Can you imagine? Your daughters must live in a virtual museum with some of the tightest security world wide. There is no spontaneously running over to a neighbor’s house to play.  They will be isolated and protected from the world and yet they will have the most public lives of any child.

And so Michelle Obama has chosen to make parenting these children her priority. However, within days of learning about her future in the White House, Michelle had already received her fair share of advice. Hillary has jumped in to say her piece. Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, had a few things to say. And even FDR’s grandson offered some words of wisdom. While Michelle did not formally ask for Laura Bush’s advice, the current first lady did share her suggestions with the press later.

I wonder what comfort she has taken from all of this advice, if any. I wonder how much more advice is coming down the pike from other celebrity parents or those with political agendas or even advice from your average “Jane Parent” who always thinks she knows better anyway.

However, while Michelle prepares her girls and faces all of this advice, she must deal with those who already criticize her decision to put her girls first. Michelle is certainly an accomplished woman. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she continued on to work as an associate at a law firm and hold six board of director positions. She founded programs, she lead community outreach – she made “change” happen long before it was cool for an Obama to do so. But now, as her husband has been elected to be President, she has chosen to bring her career to a screeching halt and just be… well… a mom.

In a fascinating article written by Rebecca Traister at Salon.com, Michelle’s choices to focus on the traditional worries of a First Lady leave the author concerned. 

“…some of the most extraordinary [qualities of Michelle Obama] — the ones that set her apart from many of her predecessors in the East Wing — are already falling victim to a nostalgic complacency about familial roles, and to an apparent commitment to re-creating Camelot with an African-American cast, but little modern tweaking of the role of wife and mother.”

She argues Michelle could push the envelope and bring a more career minded feminist into the role of a first lady. She seems disappointed she has chosen to put her role as a mother and wife first and foremost, while leaving all the rest behind.

Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post discusses the ever present question that arises between married parents such as the Obamas: who will work and who will raise the children?

“The brutal reality is that, like our president-elect, most men do not wrestle quite so strenuously with these competing desires [to work or raise your family]. So when the needs of our families collide with the demands of our jobs, it is usually the woman’s career that yields.”

She implies that Michelle was not given much of a choice in this matter. When Obama was elected President, her career had to end. And there was no other choice but to make her children a priority.

But has Michelle truly failed as a feminist by focusing on her children? Is her career an utter failure because she is stepping aside from it for the meantime? Has she lost all credibility as a potentially new, modern, variety of First Lady?

According to Geraldine Brooks at The Daily Beast, she can make parenting her priority while still representing women as a powerful example.

“She is smart enough and subtle enough to have worked out that so-called Mom issues can make for meaty public policy.”

And then explains that her position as a mother in the White House will in fact bring much needed attention to women who struggle daily as they balance their careers and family.

“Work-family balance? What is that, really, but a polite way of putting the feminist agenda of equal pay and decent childcare back on the table after so many years of neglect?”

Meghan O’Rourke at Slate.com sympathises that, once again, no matter if a woman chooses either work or parenting as the priority, they will be criticized for their choice. And most of often a woman’s biggest critic is herself. She then goes on to make this final point.

“The best way Michelle Obama can act as a role model for women right now is not by making the decision any one of us would make (because we’d all make different decisions), but by reminding us that life is fleeting, and we ought to immerse ourselves in the opportunities and joys of our own life as it exists. Not as it might exist.”

And so my identification with Michelle Obama remains true. With two small children, and a mountain of advice, she must trust her instincts and raise her girls the best way she knows how.  There is no doubt in my mind that she will change the role and perceptions of the First Lady. And however she shakes things up, she has already made it unapologetically clear that she will make her girls her priority. In my mind’s eye, as a mother and brilliant leader able to remain fluid in her many roles as a woman, Michelle will make an excellent “First Feminist” indeed.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under daughters, Election, Equal Rights, Family, Fathers, Feminist tendancies, Guilt and motherhood, Hillary Clinton, Inspiring people, Marriage, Michelle Obama, Mothers, Obama, Parenting, Politics, Women, Working moms

Kindergarten Mom or Crazy Lady: You Decide

When it comes to my son and any accessment about his education or development, I seriously lose my mind. No I mean it. I’d like to think that with most things in my life, I can keep a fair, rational, logical perspective on things. I don’t cry too much. I am realistic. Whatever, I can be cool. But for some reason, when it comes to my son and school or anything to do with how he’s growing up, I completely and utterly lose my frigging tree. A crazy lady, frothed and pleading, takes over my brain and there seems that nothing can be done. Are you relating to this? Or are you fanicated by another parenting train wreck post from me? Well, go ahead. Read on. I’m warning you though. I’m a nut job and I’m going to prove it.

When my wonderful Aunt S. was raising her son, she used to tell me about this insanity thing that happens to moms. My Aunt S. is a speech pathologist. And apart from being super smart about children’s development, she just kind of “gets it”. She is surrounded by amazing resources and she has been blessed with a very level head about raising children. But she used to tell me all the time that when it came to her discussing own child, all reasoning went out the window and some crazy lady took over. She would just kind of… loose it.

Oh. Seriously. You would not BELIEVE how I get what she was saying now.

Ever since the day my son was born, I have hung on every word any “specialist” might share with me. As I’ve mentioned before, my son had a pretty rough start. So if I am talking to ANY variation of child expert (and I mean ANY kind), I kind of loose it. Friends or family that happen to be teachers, substitute teachers, doctors, nurses, speech pathologists (I’ve got two in my family), or even just moms… or even people that have maybe even seen a kid before… once, I babble endlessly to them about my son. And I can’t stop. When they ask “How is school going”, I know they are expecting a quick “fine” back. Huh. Well, not me. My mind simply sees a green light, social norms fall away and I just… go for it. I launch into a detailed account about his social and educational development. What this teacher said, what friends I think and hope he is playing with, what test score he got, what I think is REALLY going on, after all I know best, I’m his mom. Right? RIGHT?!?!?!!! And as they quickly try to change the subject, I corner them into telling me that T. is doing “Great. Just GREAT. Really. He is.” And I calm my panting, wipe my brow and scramble to get a grip.

The irony? T. is a pretty smart kid. He really IS doing great.

(I’m holding back here. Really. I am. Don’t go on about Caroline. Don’t do it, girl!!!)

So yeah, he’s a smart kid. But that doesn’t satisfy me. And it’s not *HIM* that I am pushing (I don’t think?) it’s everything around him. If he is acing his reading, I wonder if the school is challenging him enough. If he is struggling with subtraction, I gasp and shake my head and fold my arms and ask my husband outright “Who the hell thinks subtraction is a good idea in Kindergarten? I mean, Come on!!!”

And what did me and my crazy lady within get to experience last week? The first parent-teacher meeting of the year of course. (Bum, bum BUM!!!) So there we were, early for our appointment. I paced out front, the children tackled each other on the sidewalk, and my husband stood there with his hands in his pockets, kind of breaking out into hives about being anywhere NEAR a classroom. (A brilliant man, but clearly he’s never been a fan of sitting still for class. Did I tell you he’s a college coach?)

When they called us in, all I could think was “Be calm. Be normal. Be NICE. And most of all. DON’T BE THAT PARENT.” We sat down, them across from us, record books cracked open, guarded smiles on their faces. And I know exactly why they were guarded too. Because they have dealt with freak after FREAK of parents marching in and demanding and flipping out and gushing about how THEIR kid is so uber amazing. Poor teachers. How annoying. Not me, not this parent, I GET it.

“So yes. Mr and Mrs. Morngsidemom, T. is doing very well. Very quiet. Pays attention….” And on it goes. But the more they talk, the more I butt in “Yes, did I tell you about his birth trauma? Oh, she knows but you didn’t hear about it? Maybe its just good you know, just to give you some context.” or “Hes very quiet because he is a ‘LISTENER’, thats how he PROCESSES the world (Heh, like I’m some expert.). He may not respond right away because he is LISTENING and is taking every bit in, I promise you.” “Mmmm, hmmmmm….” they say. 

But c’mon. Even *I* know better. I know he’s off thinking about light sabers and speeders and which Star Wars episode is his favorite. But its like I can’t help it. There is some strange urge within to justify everything he says or does. To explain it. To tell them he is BRILLIANT DAMMIT, BRILLIANT. And by the time I have jumped into hyper-speed talking and gesticulating and demanding and flipping out and gushing about how MY kid really IS uber amazing… I realize, the teachers are just sitting there. Blink. Blink. With guarded smiles plastered to their wonderfully patient faces. Oops. I did it YET again.

So then, when we got back home from the meeting, per the Math teachers suggestion, I calmly (nervous laughing as I type this) sat down with T. and his subtraction homework. “Hon, maybe a number line is a good idea. You think? Here’s how it works! Stop coloring. Pay attention. Hey. Think dammit! A number line. Ok. Count forward or backward… ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION??!!?!! YOU’RE SUCH A SMART BOY YOU CAN DO THIS!”

Ok, I swear, I am not like that. Ask my husband, he sees “homework time” go down. But thats what the freak show, crazy lady, jumping around in my head is saying. Fer real.

Anyway, so I showed him the number line. And we worked on it together. And he got it and sailed through his homework. And that was that.

However. Have I wanted to harass his lovely (really, shes so wonderful) math teacher with a little follow up email??? Oh ho, yes. I wanna so bad. I bet it would go something like: “I printed a number line for him, it really works for him, if you’d just make sure he has one when he’s doing his work, that would really help, because he really understands the concepts, he’s such a smart kid, really, I swear, its just the WAY he PROCESSES things, a LISTENER, remember? I’m his mom, I know, so could ya get him a number line? MMM, thanks. That would be greeeaaaat.”

But nope. I haven’t done that yet. (Restraint being my middle name and all…) Although, I asked T. in the car yesterday, “So!” (-all calm and relaxed like-) “Did you tell your teacher that you would like to use a number line with your subtraction?”

“No.”

“Oh! Oh that’s ok. So.” (Clearing my throat. Totally chilled out about the WHOLE topic.) “How was your quiz then?”

“Gottahundred”

“OH!!!!! OHBABY!!!!!”

(SCREEEEEEECH, my car swerved all over the road, I was filled with utter glee.)

“I am SOOOO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!” (beaming at that point, cars honking everywhere, but I. Am. BEAMING.) “But, uh, how did you do it without a number line?”

“I just used the one in my head. Mom? C. is picking his nose again. And wiping it on me….”

Yeah, well. THAT about sums it up, right?

Anyhow, for those of you who have made it all the way through this rambling post, this is only one small chapter in my epic novel of parenting madness. Someone needs to just tell me to frigging quit it. Someone needs to smack the crazy lady OUTA me. Someone needs to make sure I am not completely screwing him up at school. I don’t want EITHER of my kids to feel like they need to be perfect. I just want them to try to do their best.

And me. As a mom. Wondering (desperately, wildly, dramatically) how my kids will turn out, I guess they can’t expect me to be perfect either. I just am going to try to do my best.

(As for all you “experts” who I corner on a regular basis? My most humble, insanity riddled apologies. At least I am aware of the problem. Oh and by the way? C. hasn’t even started school yet… bum, bum, BUUUUUUM!)

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Filed under Education, Guilt and motherhood, Mothers, Panicking, parental fear, Parenting, Self-analysis, Teaching kids

Spank My Kid, Hate Myself

Yesterday, my 2 yo son was entirely too ripe for naptime. And he was pissed about it. At 33 lbs, and taller than ANY of his peers, he is a force to be reckoned with. Watching him stand there in a froth of tantrum and exhaustion, I came at him low – like a wrestler – to keep my balance and scoop him up before he took me out. As anticipated, the fight was on. Kicking, screaming, thrashing – I did all that I could to hold on to him and make a break for the bedroom. And as I was almost there, he took a huge swipe at me with unclipped finger nails. He scraped my face and it hurt. Anger flared inside me. And then, as I passed through the doorway to his bedroom, he thrashed out yet again and managed to push hard on the door frame with his feet. As a result, drove me – hard – into the door frame on the opposite side. And it HURT. So what did I do? I put him on the ground and swatted at his bum.

Horror.

I have NEVER spanked either of my children over the 5+ years I have been a mother. And I said I never would. But I did. NOT because I thought it was a good idea. NOT because I thought it would teach him something. I did it because I was really mad and wanted to get him.

Wow. There I said it.

Oh, my stomach clenches at the memory – I felt so terrible in that moment. I scooped him up and rocked him and whispered to him while those horrible waves of mommy guilt washed over me, seeping in, soaking everything.

How was he? Well, when I swatted him, he hardly noticed. I think he thought I was pushing him into the room. He cried no more or no less. He only slowed his crying once I started rocking him. He was so damn tired, that poor baby. So I put him in his crib, he laid right down, I rambled about a thousand “I love you”s, and that was that.

But that wasn’t that for me. After all these years, after all the thousands of temper tantrums that I have muscled through, why did that one drive me to spank him?

Ok, so lets talk about spanking. It’s really one of those hot button topics with moms. Some do it, some don’t. Either way, parents tend to feel strongly about why they do or don’t. And we can all get uppity and self righteous about why we do or don’t – but I don’t judge another parent’s choices on that. I just decide how I want to parent my own children.

And what are my feelings about spanking? I don’t think it works. I don’t think it particularly hurts a kid physically, but I just don’t think it accomplishes a damn thing. If anything, it sends a message that hitting for a bad behavior is ok. I think it tells your kid it’s ok to strike out physically in a time of anger. I am just not a fan of negative reinforcement. I have managed to get my kids to mind – or not – just fine without it.

(Until now. Gulp. Just swimming in guilt here.)

Now, I was spanked. Am I all screwed up because I was spanked? Nope. Did I learn to hit people because I was hit a few times when I really got in trouble? I don’t think so. So knowing that, I don’t judge anyone who spanks their kids – or I try really hard not to. I have just been pretty dug in about the fact that *I* don’t want to do it with my kids. Bottomline: I don’t want any hitting under my roof, I don’t care for what purpose, and that’s that.

So, I broke my rule yesterday, and swatted my baby’s bum. And, as I’ve mentioned, I am up to my nose in a sea of mommy guilt. But I have friends who are rolling their eyes so loudly right now, telling me to get over it. Telling me he needed a good swat, telling me to stop being so damn guilty all the time, telling ME to stop be so damn self-righteous. Telling me people screw up and none of us are perfect parents.

Eh, I guess.

I still had to call my husband and admit my mistake. And while he agrees with the no spanking thing, he was hardly impressed. Just kind of “Oh wow… What was HIS problem?”

But I think the other thing that bugged me about the moment was my intention. Again, I didn’t spank him because I wanted to teach him a lesson and felt this would be a good method to do so. I did it because I was hurt and mad – and I snapped. Obviously, I hardly went crazy. This wasn’t child abuse, I know that. But it scares me how me – miss “anti-conflict, peace loving, can’t we all just get along” Caroline – could snap and want to hit her very own child.

I know I am not alone here. I know parents are driven to moments like this. I know friends who have had to walk away, lock themselves in their bathroom and count to 50, with their child pounding on the door outside. The everyday, monotonous, groundhog day, water dripping on our foreheads constant of whining, crying, hitting, kicking, throwing can just… get to us. No matter how much we love them. However, we should never NEVER act on that anger or frustration in the heat of the moment. Never.

No matter how unhurt he was (or even if he hardly noticed), spanking him in that moment (when I don’t believe in doing it anyway) was wrong.

So, yeah. I need to let it go. And blogging about it is my way of publicly apologizing for it I think. So this is my penance. Please don’t call child services on me. I learned my lesson, that’s for sure.

But you might want to call the Mother of the year Award committee and tell them 2009 is probably out for me too.

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Filed under Children, Guilt and motherhood, Mothers, Panicking, parental fear, Parenting, Reality check, Self-analysis, Teaching kids

Using his words.

My poor two year old. He has so much to say but so few people understand what the hell he is saying. It is as if he is living in a country where he understands the language but, no matter how hard he tries, he can’t speak like the natives. We have taught him some sign language, which has helped a lot. But his thoughts are more complicated than the few limited hand gestures he knows. He wants to talk like a big boy. And he is trying his damnedest too. He comes at us with his big open cherub face, blue eyes gleaming “woog ah mee da!” (translation: “Look at me, Dad”) My sweet boy, he’s trying so hard.

Every afternoon, I pack C. into the car and we drive a half hour over to T.’s school to pick him up from kindergarten. They are still “tweaking” the car pick up line (apparently) and the wait tests both of our patience. This afternoon, 15 minutes ahead of school dismissal time, we pulled up to the endless double row of cars, found our spot in line and I turned off the engine. It’s Florida, in August. The sun is hot. The parking lot’s tarmac is just as hot. I rolled our windows down for some breeze and texted my husband. It was then I heard a little peep from the back.

“I wan doy.”

“Um hmmm, one sec.” texttexttexttexttext…

“I wan doy.”

I turn around. “What do you want, hon?”

“I wan doy!”

“Toy? Which toy?” And I scan the crap on the floor of the car from something special that caught his eye.

‘No. DOY!”

“Not toy??? How about a book?”

(Sharp yell of frustration.) “DOOOOY!”

“I don’t understand honey. How about some milk?”

“AHHHHHMMMMAAAAAHHHHHHAAAHHH (high high, VERY high pitched squeal ensues.) DOOOOOYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

He’s purple now, mad. Straining against his car seat straps. Pointing at something in the center console.

“Well, honey” (and I can’t believe I said this) “You need to use words. Screaming is not going to get your way.” And with that, I turned back around and dialed the school’s office. T. would be late to school the next day due to a dentist appointment and I wanted to be sure they knew. Better not to give this tantrum any reinforcement, right?

Well. Stand back. A full throttle, kiss my grits and call me Sally, 2 year old, practically epileptic FIT wound into high gear in the backseat of my car. He thrashed, screamed, squealed, “DOOOOY!!!!! DOOOYYYYYYY!!!!! DOOOOAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” He was frothing at the mouth, the car was rocking ever so gently, he was pointing at my console and kicking the utter crap out of the seat in front of him. Meanwhile…

“Yes, This is Caroline, T.’s mother. (“BAAAAAHHHHAAA DDOOOOOOOOOHHHHYYY!!!!!”) I would just like to (WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH) let you all know (WAAAAAAAAAAAAH) that T. will (MAAAAAAAHHHH DDAAAAAHHHH) be late tomorrow due to (EEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHHDDDAAAAHHHH) a dentist appointment. (EEEEEEEEEEEEE…. – can’t hear it any longer but I swear dogs are barking in the distance at this point.)

Eventually, I start the car, I am sweating like a mad woman and crank the A/C. We inch up. The tantrum doesn’t slow one teensy bit.

“Oh hon. WHAT?!!!! WHAT! IS! IT!” (EEEEEEEEEEEE) Seriously, I was going to loose my mind. What. The. Hell.

“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And as I was moving along the car line, slowly but surely, annoyed mothers all around me, I glanced down at the center console. There sits a dime.

“C. Do you mean a… coin?” And I hold up the dime.

Silence.

“YEEEEEAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

And a smile explodes across his face – seriously, its one like you’ve never seen. Utter, pure, joy, relief, even ecstasy. A Doy. A COIN. Cripes.

So, while he chants “DOY! DOY! DOY! DOY!” from the backseat, I hand over the dime. And he could not be happier. Just like that, all was solved. He talks to the coin, he has a full blown conversation with it. Don’t you dare tell me it’s a choke-able either.  (I’ll show you a %$&#@! choke-able…) And grateful, relieved for the peace at last, I pay him off with a variety of coins from that center console. I hear “Dis lillwwwew doy” (translation: “This is a little coin.”) and “Dis BEEEG (gruff voice) doy!” (translation: “This is a BIG coin.”)

Doy. You gotta be kidding me. My poor baby IS using his words, I just need to figure out how to hear them.

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Filed under Children, Communication, Educating myself, Guilt and motherhood, Language, Talking, Teaching kids

Mother of the Year Award: I’m Not Gonna Get It and I Don’t Care.

Dear Distinguished Members of the “Mother of the Year Award” Committee,

Let me just do you guys a favor. I am respectfully bowing out of this impossible race and now ask that I no longer be considered for your award. Why? Well. It’s August. And let’s just say I have had a lot of “quality time” with my 5 and 2 year old this summer. So, I am going to admit it right up front to you all.

I am sick of them.

That’s right. This mother is admitting it right out loud. Enough. I am so DONE with my boys right now. They are driving me insane. So go ahead, I’ll let you take a moment to scroll down your lists. Go ahead, do what ya gotta do….

CAROLINE

Because I am a MOTHER for cripes sakes. What MOTHER doesn’t want to be with her children? I made the choice to have these two children. I took on the responsibility to raise them, feed them, clothe them and find all their cute, little intricacies adorable, brilliant and endearing.

Folks, they are sooo not endearing to me. Not right now. 

They scream. A lot. They scream because they want what the other has. They scream because they got what the other had. They scream when they’re happy. Mad. Excited. Thoughtful. Sleeping (I swear to you).

My house is trashed. Couch pillows are for throwing, stacking and jumping on. One child actually likes to recreate an annoying little TV show called “Wipeout”. And as he hurls himself off of my hardly sturdy “Rooms 2 Go” furniture (that I paid off for an entire year), he, indeed, wipes out and takes everything (pillows, tables, throw blankets, cups, toys, the cat) with him. Random puddles of water can be found seeping into the pergo floors. Crayon on my actual wood dining room table. Cheese sandwich ground into the carpet. Books (theirs and mine) and photo albums strewn about the room, dropped open and promptly walked across. Laundry unfolded and tossed about. Window shades askew. Diapers ripped off and left. Grapes stuck in speakers. Snot smeared on sliding doors. Plants dismembered. Toys, toys, toys… God help me, they’re everywhere, the TOYS. The place is in utter shambles, and I want it back.

And then the expectation that I be some sort of Mary Poppins, whipping up newer and more exciting adventures with just a nod of my head as soon as I hear the sweet little whiney sound of “I’m bored.” A phrase I must hear ten thousand times a day. My ideas are never fun enough, or exciting, or cool. “We did that yesterday.” or “that makes me even MORE boring” or “that’s not something fun.”

Can’t they figure out something to do by themselves? What happened to make-believe? Or coloring? Or quiet little games of Candyland at the dining room table? … No, I am not smoking crack. I swear to you, that’s what I did when I was a kid. Didn’t I?

And the TV has been taken hostage by the Disney Channel. And Noggin. And PBS. You see, my 5 year old has a natural affinity for A/V equipment (damn uncle’s genes rearing their ugly head). As a result, he has figured out how to find the free kids on-demand channels. And record them. And play them back ad nauseum until I rip the entire entertainment system out with my bare hands and stuff the still smoking cable box into my underwear drawer. And then -I’ll admit to it now – I cackle evilly while they throw themselves into heaps on the floor, sobbing. “Oh the humanity, mother took away the television” (at least that’s what I think they said). 

Muahahahahaha…

See? Torturing my children has become sport. FUN, enjoyable sport.

Let’s talk about food now, ok? “I’m hungry” does not mean I want food. It means “give me something I will actually eat.” Which usually means straight starch foods (pasta, crackers, bread, cardboard) or anything at all withsugar. Which I usually don’t have unless its fruit, and that will do. Which they consume in mass quantities if I don’t stop them and then must deal with crazy bouts of bowel movement issues. 

But back to food (because you are still in the mood for that topic now, I am sure).

If I actually cook, I mean REALLY cook and follow a recipe and everything, it is sure to “taste funny”. The eldest will put some in his mouth and then store it in the pocket of his cheek until it liquefies and then, finally, he gags it down, with tears running down his face. (Usually with me behind him, glaring, telling him he will never watch “Wipeout” again.) And the youngest? He straight up takes one look at it, yelps “nope!”, pops out of his seat and thats the last I’ll see of him. (I have NO idea how he is in the 99th percentile for weight. NO idea.)

Did I mention I am raising boys? I’m not sure about the males you have been in contact with but my boys beat the crap outa me. They are just so damn physical. The simple statement of “Look mommy!” usually includes one arm wrapped around my neck and pulling my face down into choke hold while shoving whatever it was into my nose and screaming “SEE! SEE?!!?!!!!” Um, yeah I see alright.

My boys grab ahold of me and jump, swing, pull, spin and twist. A simple snuggle on the bed? WWE… every single time. Diaper changes for my two year old? They require full baseball umpire-like padding.

The crap. Is beaten. Out of me. I am telling you.

I’m just tired. And weary. And OVER trying to match up with whatever expectations you all have for the “Mother of the Year”. Right now, I am not appreciating them. I am not awed by the life I have created. They are at my heels, they are on my case, they are busting my stuff and I need to just scream “ENOUGH!”

You’re convinced now, right? Good. I mean, I bet there are way better contenders out there. I bet NONE of the other moms get sick of their kids. I bet they all do super creative crafts and sing songs together and eat their carrots together happily and all dress alike. I bet I am the only one like this, burnt out, fed up and slugging down a glass of Pinot after a long day.

Good luck with your search. Let me know who you pick. I’ll send her a cheese basket or something.

And maybe a HUGE, chilled bottle of Pinot.

Sincerely and realistically yours,

Morningside (kind of sucks) Mom

14 Comments

Filed under Boys, Children, Guilt and motherhood, Parenting