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Posts Tagged ‘mom’

Death by Popcorn

I tend to fixate on a thing after I hear a horror story about some kid dying. You know, the terrible, tragic and freaky stories about dry drowning, hot cars, and of course lithium batteries. Brenna from Suburban Snapshots recently wrote about her reaction to possible lithium battery ingestion, and it reminded me of some of my own neuroses. For me, it’s popcorn. Honestly, I fear popcorn. I once heard a story about a 6-year-old (6!!!) choking to death at the movie theater with his mom. Apparently popcorn is impossible to Heimlich out of there. So, I live with an unnatural fear of it.

For awhile I had L convinced that Pirate’s Booty is in fact popcorn, but he knows the truth now. I try not to out myself in public as a crazy mom when popcorn is around, and I really do know that L will probably not die from eating it, but I’m terrified. So, if you see me at a fair staring madly at my son, rocking back and forth, biting my nails, you can bet he’s having popcorn.

Do you have any fixations like this?

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I’m sure you’ve all been wondering about and losing sleep over L’s poop issues. I was going to write this great post about how he hasn’t had any Miralax for almost 2 weeks, and he’s been going, without that much of a fight, a couple of times per day with nary a pooped-in pair of undies to be tossed! I’ve been ruminating on this great update post in my mind for the last day or two.

Then just now happened. Just now is not a good mommy moment for me. It’s bedtime. The kid has gotta go. It’s obvious. He stands like he’s gotta go; he squirms like he’s gotta go; he smells like he’s gotta go. So, I tell him it’s time to go.

“NO! I DON’T POOP ANYMORE! I WILL HOLD IT IN FOREVER!!” Out of nowhere. Suddenly tears.

Next comes me trying reason, trying kindness, trying scary-serious voice, trying wrestling and finally giving up and picking the kid up, tossing him into his bedroom while saying (yelling), “Fine! Then you can go straight to bed with no books, no PJ’s, and no brushing your teeth! Your teeth will all rot right out of your head!” Door slams.

He’s upstairs now crying, “Get me out of here!”

I am the best.mom.ever. Anyone want some advice? Come to me! I’m sooooo good at this. I can’t believe that it’s actually my job to raise this child without entirely fucking him up. Clearly, I’m not capable of this.

Hang on, here he comes….

OK, it’s now 20 minutes later. L came down fairly calm. I asked if he was ready to go and he said yes and went. Then asked, “Are you so proud of me?” I told him that I was not. That I would have been proud if he just went in the first place. Mean, I know.

Well, now he’s in bed fully evacuated at least. I suck at this job.

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I’m a wimp. I don’t like being too hot. I don’t like being too cold. My good parenting is directly related to the weather. At 78 degrees with no humidity I’m a great mom. Increase the temperature or humidity and I start to suck. I’m probably a pretty good mom even down into the upper 50’s, but the suckiness takes over again much below that. Too bad I don’t live in a remotely temperate climate!

Today for example: It’s about 90 degrees with so much humidity that stepping outside feels like stepping into someone’s mouth. I am not taking the kids to the pool. I am not playing outside with the sprinkler. Instead, I’m inside on the computer while L is plugged into his second movie of the day and S is searching for things she hasn’t already destroyed.

I wish L was not watching TV. I wish I was reading him books and building forts and painting and making rice krispie treats. But I don’t wanna. A better mom would. Hell, a babysitter would.

When L looks back on his childhood summers is he going to remember all the TV he watched? Ugh. Or am I still in a safe zone thinking he won’t remember this because he’s only 3?

The guilt is killing me!!! But, it’s not strong enough to make me build a fort. Maybe this afternoon…

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OK, for all of you moms who see L’s behavior and say “my kid would never do that” or “I would never stand for that” or “my kid would do that exactly ONE time” tell me what it is, exactly, that you would do if your kid calls you stupid? Or if your kid rudely blows raspberries at you?

I’m at my wit’s end. I’ve tried ignoring, punishing, acting hurt and yelling and they all don’t work. What is it that you would do? All you people who constantly tell me how your kids would just know that it’s not allowed? What are you doing as parents that is so much better than what I’m doing? Please enlighten me. Seriously.

OK, OK, I know that you are my readers and probably not the same people who say these things to me. But I’m told this a lot. That this behavior just “wouldn’t fly,” that these other kids just seem to know that it’s not OK. What is it that I’m doing that makes my kid think that it’s OK to totally disrespect me? T and I don’t talk to each other like that, or to L. I have never, ever stuck my tongue out at him. I swear!

And then there’s the “exactly one time” parents. What is it that they’d do that would be so dramatic that their child would never, ever dare to offend again? Cut off a finger?

I feel like I have the rudest kid in the world. I certainly didn’t blow raspberries at my mom when I was a kid, and I haven’t seen any other kids doing it either. Why is L so bad? Why does he have so little respect for me? Clearly, I suck as a mother to have created this child. The worst part is that I was given great raw material. He’s naturally (or was) a happy little guy, but lately he seems intent on being angry. Any help?

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When L was about 1 he began to show a strong preference for his dad. It started with pure excitement when T was around. This was sweet. It evolved, though, to more than that. Instead of simply being overjoyed at T’s presence, he began to be disappointed and dismayed at mine. Each morning I’d go into his room to get him up and he’d start crying and throwing his pacifiers and lovies at me from his crib. When he started talking, the first time he strung a few words together was during one of these fits. He said, “No! No Mommy, Daddy!”

Knife to the heart.

And so began my tumultuous relationship with L. Everyone said that babies go through these phases of preferring one parent over another, but L’s preference has not wavered and he’s now 3.5. (By the way, just about every day since that first sentence, when I go in to get L in the morning he cries, tells me to go away, and says he wants his daddy. Nice.)

Now let’s bring S into the mix. My darling, sweet baby. The baby who has been the teeny apple of my eye for 11 months now.  Who required my full-body full-time attention in those early, colicky weeks where I constantly carried, bounced and shushed her. Who I bathe, feed, sing to, care for, soothe and admire. Whose giggles and squeals I deftly extract. Whose preferences I alone know. My baby.

It started innocently enough. As T walks through the door each night to L’s running delight, S began to flap her arms excitedly too. It’s developed to her crying when she hears his voice as he comes through the door until he comes and picks her up. And then to her suicide dives out of my arms and into his if he crosses her line of vision. And, finally, her first word: “Dada.”

I know, I know, “Dada” is easier to say than “Mama”. Fuck that. I say “Mama Mama Mama Mama” to her all day long and all I get in return are coos and dribbly raspberries. Not even the slightest effort or interest. T walks through the door and clear as a bell, “Dada! Dada! Dada!” That bastard gets all the glory.

Meanwhile, I have snot on my shoulder. The left side of every single one of my shirts is all stretched out from the way S pulls at my clothes as she sits on my hip. Half the time my entire left breast is exposed to the world thanks to her tugging at my top. I’m the one who wrestles with her to cut her nails, brush her teeth, get medicine into her, put cream on her eczema, change her diaper etc.

Motherhood is a dirty job. All I ask for is a little “mama”. Maybe some excited arm flapping. Instead I get the moan of discontent which means: “Hey, you, slave-lady, fetch me more Cheerios. NOW!”

Knife.To.The.Heart.

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I saw a friend of mine yesterday with her brand new, less than a week old baby, her third. I asked her how she was and she said, “fragile.” I can’t think of a more perfect description of myself immediately after having each of my babies. I felt like a broken live-wire, with my emotional nerve endings frayed, buzzing and sparking in their new exposed state. The slightest touch or breeze and they’d shock and jolt me. When kindly people came by to drop off a meal, meet the baby, see how I was, I lied and said “great!” when asked.

Here I am, self-proclaimed teller of motherly truths and I perpetuated a very damaging lie to brand new moms. I was not great, not fine. I was a mess and felt like I should not be trusted with this brand new baby. By the time S came around, I knew the baby would be fine, but I was again shocked, raw and frayed. In a moment, I could go from rapturous wonder at my new perfect baby, to despondently crying. My moods shifted on the slightest notions. I was fragile.

I had been told I’d be hormonal. And the few people who saw my emotional flare-ups reminded me that I was hormonal. But this was more, different. I had been hormonal before. Afterall, I just finished pregnancy. But pregnancy is different. It feels transient and thus less real. This felt permanent. I felt crazy. And I hid it.

Of course it was not permanent, and I was hormonal. Slowly my self emerged again, well, maybe a more tired shadow of my self. The fragility gave way to a new brand of strength. An ability to hold it all together, to move forward, to lead myself and my kids through each day no matter what presents itself: days of no sleep, weeks of colic, illness. This is the stuff that makes a mom a mom. It’s not something I could have predicted or had heard about. And even though I experienced it with L, I doubted it when S came along. But it did come back, reinforced and stronger.

I’m certainly not saying that my life is without challenges and I’m without days when I feel harried, emotional, and like I can’t possibly take another minute. But it passes and I do take another minute. And another after that. I don’t really know what the purpose of this post is. It kept me up until 1:30 AM writing itself in my head. Maybe I just need to publicly acknowledge that I lied to everyone when I first had my babies.

I have a few friends who are expecting their first baby and I hope they read this. It’s just my own experience, but in case you’re feeling fragile in the days and weeks immediately postpartum, know that you’re not alone, you’re not a bad mother, you’re not crazy, and that you will come out on the other end as a bona-fide mom. If you need help, ask for it. And if any twit tells you anything stupid like “it only gets harder from here,” or dismisses your overwrought anxiety, you can punch them in the face and blame your hormones.

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That NY Magazine article has me thinking. How can we change the pressures that parents, specifically moms, put on ourselves with regards to our parenting? If each of us as individuals know that parenting (sometimes) = misery, then why don’t we collectively acknowledge that? Why is it a dirty little secret?

PARENTING (sometimes) = MISERY!!!

Even when I’m virtually shouting it I feel the need to dampen the message by qualifying it with “sometimes,” lest people think I’m a bad parent who doesn’t love her kids enough. But the real truth is that it’s miserable a lot of the time. The day-to-day tasks related to taking care of (my) small children are not fun. They are not rewarding. They are not fulfilling in any way. Broadly, (very broadly), my kids are fulfilling. But this elusive feeling hits me only under specific conditions: 1) They are sleeping or in someone else’s care; 2) I am reasonably well rested; and 3) I have a glass of wine.

Why are we so secretive about this? Why does each mom have to find out all alone that it’s not what she expected, not what it’s cracked up to be? Then we each have to struggle with feeling inadequate, like we’re not doing it right, like we’re failing in a very important way because we are not loving ALL of what having children means.

My life is different; my marriage is different; my body is different. Arguably, these differences are all for the worse. Would I change it? Not have my kids? Do I regret having them? No, of course not. Why? It’s hard to explain but my best guess is because I’m crazy. There’s some evolutionary programming in there, the need to replace oneself etc, but there’s a good helping of plain ol’ crazy in there too. It is crazy to take a perfectly good life, a perfectly good marriage, and a (only in retrospect and by comparison) perfectly good body and add children into the mix.

Crazy. Crazy I tell ya.

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