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Posts Tagged ‘mom’

There is someone out there who likes me enough to put my writing on her blog. This person is JD from Momagement Matters, who I recently got the chance to hang out with at Bloggy Boot Camp. Over post-conference drinks we hatched a plan for me to write a guest post for her blog, which deals with the particular challenges of a working mom. She writes with humor and heart, she’s super cool, and is totally adorable. I guess the last one doesn’t really directly affect her blog, but it’s worth mentioning.

So go check out Momagement Matters, become a fan like I am, and read my post which answers the age-old question: who has it worse SAHMs or WOHMs?

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When I was little all I wanted to do was “help” my mom cook. She never really let me, always saying that it’s just easier if she did it herself. I thought she was mean.

When I was little all I wanted to do was “help” my mom clean. She never really let me, always saying that it’s just easier if she did it herself. I thought she was mean.

When I was little my mom used to sometimes ignore me completely while talking on the phone to her friends. Try as I might I could not get her to hang up the damn phone and pay attention. I thought she was mean.

When I was little my mom only let me play with play dough outside. She thought it was messy. I thought she was mean.

Well, as I type this my kids are outside in the cold playing with play dough while I ignore them and pay attention to my computer instead. Before busting out the play dough and sending them outside, I considered a cooking project, but just couldn’t bring myself to face it. The mess, the grossness of their runny noses and germy fingers… ugh. Another project I have to do is clean the house. REALLY clean it. Both kids are in heaven when handed a spray bottle and a rag. Even though I usually clean with a vinegar/water mixture which the kids can safely handle, I know from experience that my kitchen will be a puddle of vinegar because they both prefer spraying to wiping. So I’ll just do it myself.

Conclusion: I learned to be mean from my mom.

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It’s Mother’s Day – a day when we give and receive flowers and chocolate as a way of saying thanks for something that is impossible to properly say thanks for. Where to begin when thanking and appreciating your mother? Thanks for enduring all the discomforts of pregnancy, and sorry I kept kicking you in the bladder? Also, sorry I didn’t come out on time and you had to be pregnant for way too long. Oh, and thanks for giving birth. You did a bang-up job and I appreciate all that effort. And all those nights when I cried?Sorry about that.

Is it possible to begin there and still manage to properly thank a woman who still cares for me and helps me all the time and has for 35 years? Of course not. The only way to properly appreciate a mother is to become a mother yourself. Even then, it’s impossible really. Now I get the pregnancy, birth, late nights etc, but I still can’t properly appreciate her for the teen years, the 20’s, and as a grandmother. Trust me, my mom needs A LOT of appreciation for those teen years. Sorry about all that, Mom.

A couple of months ago my mother watched my two kids for 5 days, after gifting T and I enough airline miles to get us to Puerto Rico for a vacation. How freaking amazing is that? I can’t imagine surviving motherhood without her help. She has 5 grandchildren and has a real relationship with each one. Each child knows and loves Grandma, trusts Grandma completely as a caregiver. Lucky Grandma is close enough to these kids that she sees the real (read: bad) them that is usually reserved just for parents. How do you thank someone for that? For loving your kids?

The answer is you don’t. Such is the nature of motherhood. There is no possible way to thank, appreciate or repay my mother. So, all I can say is: Thanks, Mom. I know you spent so much time caring for and worrying about me. I kept you on your toes and certainly didn’t do anything to make your job at all easy. But I turned out OK. Thanks to you. Your unwavering love and support gave me the chance to go out and explore, because I knew I could (and would) always come back in the end. Now I have my own little hard-headed child and I can begin to see just how annoying challenging I was. Hopefully he’ll keep his authority-defiance to a minimum and I won’t have to suffer all the calls from principals and camp directors that you did.

You’re so freaking good at this mom-thing that you make the rest of us look bad. Happy Mother’s Day!

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In the town where I grew up there is a park with a great sledding hill. The hill is wide enough for dozens of sledders, has some pretty steep parts, sections with a more gentle grade, and a huge flat area at the bottom where a sled can safely come to rest. I have vague memories of sledding here once or twice. We only went once or twice because we had hills in our yard. Although not nearly as fun, they were right outside. I didn’t understand why my mom didn’t take us to the park more often. I mean, it was clearly so much more fun. And she could sled too instead of being stuck inside watching us out of the kitchen window.

Now I get it.

My town is currently under 2 feet of snow. I can’t put S down in it for fear she’d drown. L can’t walk through it, and when he falls he is unable to get up since pushing himself up with his hands results in sinking to his armpits and face-planting. Nevertheless, L and I have romped around in the snow at our house, and S even seemed to enjoy herself on my back as I went snowshoeing. So, with much stupidity, I took the kids to the park to go sledding.

I should have turned around at the gate when I discovered that the parking lot had not been plowed. Previous sledders and x-country skiers had furrowed a narrow winding trail to the hill at the far side of the parking lot, perhaps the length of a football field away. Both kids are bundled up, how bad could it be?

S started crying the second I took her out of the car. I considered buckling her into the baby sled to pull her along, but the trail was too narrow, and so deep that she’d certainly tip over. So I carried her, screaming, dragged her sled and encouraged L along. L fell down every 2 or 3 steps, complained that pulling his sled was too hard and basically moved about as slowly as a person possibly can.

Finally we meet our friends at the top of the hill. There is no place I can put S down. She continues screaming with enthusiasm, and my arms begin to ache. L makes his first attempt down the hill, sliding about a foot before getting stuck. See, with sledding, the depth of the snow has to be proportionate to the steepness of the hill. This hill is great with 4-5 inches of snow. With 2 feet, not so much. My arms are full of screaming, miserable S and my blood pressure is seriously on the rise, so when L finally reaches the bottom and begins to throw a fit about having to come back up with his sled I have no patience and am ready to go home.

I let L take 3 runs. Each return trip requires some “encouragement” (yelling and threatening) to get him back to the top. S never stops screaming. I’m wishing to be anywhere else than out in 2 feet of snow forced to hold a slippery 20 lb screaming child. I’m torn between embarrassment and who-the-fuck-cares as I yell at and threaten L and try to make light of the fact that S is crying harder than she has since she had colic as an infant.

Miraculously, L agrees to depart and we begin the long trek back to the car. This time I’m in front setting an unforgiving pace and each time L cries that he can’t keep up I shoot him a look that lets him know he’d better. Apparently, I’m very good at this look. Afraid to cry full-out, he whimpers and does his best. All in all, the walk to and from the hill take significantly longer than the actual sledding. We were out for about 45 minutes, 9 or 10 of which were spent sledding.

Between the hell of the outing itself, the process of getting both kids dressed for it, undressed from it and the sheer volume of wet clothes to contend with afterwards, I can easily guarantee that we will never do that again. So, like me, L might have vague memories of a sledding hill in his town; and I’m looking forward to many years of being stuck inside watching from the kitchen window.

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Generally I feel confident in my abilities to do just about anything. I figure if someone else can do it, then I probably can too. This is the attitude I had at 9 or 10 when I decided the bar in my closet needed to be raised from little kid height to normal height. I got my dad’s tools and removed the brackets from the wall, repositioned them, re-screwed them in and replaced the bar. I did a fine job and the bar is still holding strong today, level and everything. It’s the attitude I had when I decided to try galloping and jumping a horse for the first time, when I traveled alone through Kenya, and when we moved to the middle of nowhere and I decided I could just take L everywhere by bike.

Lately though, I just want someone else to deal with it. Like yesterday when I was driving through the freezing rain with a very cranky, teething S and I got a flat tire. Sure I could have jacked the car up, struggled with the bolts, and put the spare on. As I imagined myself out in the freezing rain, I thought: “If I look sad and helpless enough, some guy will surely pull over to help me, right?” That’s right, I wanted to pull the helpless female card. Instead, I decided to go ahead and ruin the tire by driving it to my mechanic, so he could change it.

And it wasn’t long before I was a damsel in distress again. Just before 3AM this morning the cat started going nuts. She was chasing something, which I presumed was a mouse, all around the bedroom.

“T, do you want to get up and see what that is and take care of it?”

“Nope.”

He rolled over and went back to sleep and I stayed in bed listening to the hunt. Sure, I could have gotten up and taken care of it, but mice make me scream and stand up on furniture – something I’m not proud of, but accept about myself.

This morning, after a sleepless night, I got my favorite cords down from the shelf and as I began putting them on, a squirrel fell out of them and ran under the bed. A squirrel was in my pants!! Naturally I screamed and jumped up on the bed. L came in at the sound of my scream, and when I screamed again as the squirrel darted across the room he began to freak out. We huddled together on the bed while I (unsuccessfully) explained that the squirrel is more scared of him, that it won’t hurt him etc. My periodic shrieking did not support my claim.

Finally T came out of the shower to find me screaming and L crying on the bed. He informed me that the bed is not a safe haven. Apparently the whole ordeal started when he felt an animal (non-cat) on the bed in the middle of the night and kicked it off. That’s right, folks. The squirrel was on our bed and T just went back to sleep. I scooped up L and ran from the room shutting T, the cat, and the squirrel in there together.

T eventually caught the squirrel and released it, and later I’ll have him put poison or traps in the attic. I know that if he had not been home, the squirrel and cat would still be locked together in the bedroom and I’d stay out of the house until he came home tonight to deal with it.

I know that I’m not presenting best example of female strength and ability for my kids. I try to be the mom who can do it all: I unclog toilets, rewire stuff, put together new toys, mow the lawn, cook fabulous meals with a baby on my hip and bravely receive flu shots. But a squirrel in my pants? Changing a tire with snow on the ground and sleet coming down? No, thanks. I’ll outsource those. After all, the ability to delegate needs to be modeled too, right?

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L has been startlingly more obnoxious than usual. I’m used to him knocking S over or grabbing her toy when I’m not looking, but lately he’s been doing those things openly, blatantly, more forcefully. Also, he’s taken to throwing (soft) objects at her at close range. Right at her head or face. In fact, he’s taken to throwing things at my head and face too. WTF?

Feeling very low, I just had a great ah-ha! moment. I remembered something Al said. She said that it will get worse, before it gets better. That L will notice a change in my reactivity and he’ll try his damnedest to get me mad again. To try to regain the power he had – the power to make me lose it. (By the way, he usually succeeds. He’s a persistent little guy.)

So, his horrible behavior is actually (maybe) good news. Here I was thinking that I’m doing a terrible job. That my son is too far gone towards the dark side, and I’m a lost cause completely. After all, I’ve been failing at Al’s plan. I have lost my temper a number of times. But I must be doing something right, at least going in the right direction if he’s noticing it enough to push back against it, right?

I’m grasping at straws here. Al said it would be worse at first. And she said that in 3 weeks we could have a whole new dynamic. If this is really the “worse at first” part then maybe she was right about the whole new dynamic part too! Of course, this could just be L becoming more and more out of control and not at all a reaction to me trying to be a better mom. I’m hopeful though. I have to be. This feels a lot like rock bottom. Things can only get better from here. Right??

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Do you ever stop and take stock of yourself? Are you where you expected you’d be? Are you who you expected? Doing what you expected? The answer is a resounding NO! to all of these for me.

I never thought I’d be:

  1. a stay at home mom;
  2. a person who plugs her son into a portable DVD player for long car rides (I soooo thought I wouldn’t do that and I sooooo love that DVD player.);
  3. friendly and chatty with strangers (This I attribute to isolation and having days when L and S are my only company. You better believe I’ll be chatting to you, Check Out Lady!);
  4. a person who hasn’t traveled abroad in almost 4 years;
  5. living in a podunk rural area not far from the podunk rural area I grew up in, and hated.

The fact that I am all of these things that I never expected isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole point of life is to live, learn and grow, right? So that means changing along the way. Truthfully, I’d hate the life I fantasized I’d have when I was a little girl. I thought I’d live in some big city, have some glamorous job, constantly attend glamorous events in fantastic gowns, and I think I looked a bit like Barbie and drove a pink convertible in those fantasies also. Well, on that front, I can tell you that Mattel is not banging on my door to design a doll in my likeness any time soon. And I love my Subaru and hate how messy my hair gets in a convertible anyway. (And ball gowns, really? Clearly I had never worn strapless, backless bras and spanx before! Ugh.)

I used to complain mercilessly to my parents about living in the middle of nowhere. It was so boring. Funny how much I love coming home after a weekend in a city now. Home to fresh air, quiet, space. I also used to roll my eyes at my mom who chats with everyone she sees. “They don’t care about your cat (or trip, or kids, or whatever), Mom!” But now I realize that her other choice was to just talk to me! And although I thought I was fascinating, I can now appreciate that talking about how awesome Bon Jovi is, or how unfair my teacher was, or how much I needed more jelly bracelets was not my mom’s idea of sparkling conversation.

Am I turning into my mother? Nope. She’s waaaay more relaxed and happy than I am and manages to get along great with L. But I am turning into someone. Someone else’s mother I guess. Some lady who lives in the boondocks, drives a station wagon (and loves it), talks to strangers in the park and is decidedly unlike Barbie. Funny how it all turns out sometimes.

So is your life like you imagined?

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