Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I shouldn't live on an island, even if the scenery is fabulous.

Today I met up with an old Mommy friend from when my daughter was in playgroup. From the age of 1 through about 6 I met up with my daughter's playgroup one to two times a week. We finally stopped when all of the kids started kindergarten. It was just too difficult to get everyone together. Now that she was in school I thought she had outgrown playgroup. What I failed to recognize was that I hadn't. In fact, I need it now more than ever, I just didn't know it. While sitting with this playgroup friend today we started discussing our children and how annoying they can be. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you either have no children or a lot of nannies.)

By nature, kids are annoying. They think the world revolves around them, they have no qualms about LOUD public displays of emotions. Embarrassment over crying and whining in public hasn't hit them yet. Heck, farting and burping in public doesn't even seem to embarrass them yet. They chew with their mouths open. (Please don't tell me that my 7 year-old is the only one that does this.) If they don't like something they will loudly proclaim that it is "gross" even if you drove to three different stores for ingredients and slaved hours over the stove to make it. (Please don't tell me that my husband is the only 46 year-old that does this.)

I was starting to feel like either I was the worst mother in the world because I wanted to lock myself in my room every time my daughter got that look on her face that said some serious whining was on the way or I had failed because I haven't been able to teach her how to reign in her emotions. I thought I was the only Mom going through this with the only kid on the planet who didn't act right all of the time.

It's so easy to forget that there are other people out there going through the same things. With juggling work, exercise, child care, groceries, dinner, tidying up the house, lunch, breakfast, dinner, back to school, end of school, summer camps, dishes, oil changes, vacation planning (I don't mind this one too much), packing, traveling, unpacking, discipline, family activities, laundry, homework, tracking TV time, and don't forget Husband "activities"; I'm pooped. I forgot about seeing my friends, hanging out and talking. I was on an island of my own making and I was alone. Very alone.

Without playgroup I didn't get to see other kids interact with their mothers and see that I'm not the only one. I forgot that we all struggle to be a good parent. Because being a good one is a heck of a lot harder than being a crappy one. Imagine how little pressure you'd feel if you didn't bother yourself with worrying that you were raising a polite and loving human being. You could just let them run around like little heathens, say yes to every request, never waste your precious energy laying down the law. You could plop them in front of the TV and go about your business with no worries about the killing of their brain cells.

And to know that you are not alone is a powerful thing. Didn't Hilary Clinton write a book called, "It Takes a Village"? For some reason I moved out of the village into a house way high up on a hill and I was not better off for it. I was all alone with no one to tell me that they too want to either lock their children out of the house or lock themselves in a room alone. But today, I stumbled back into the village. I was lost, but luckily I found my way back. And I hope I make more of an effort to spend time with my friends again and not get caught up in day-to-day life and forget that I don't have to live it alone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How Did I Get Here?

Today I volunteered at my daughter's school. They were testing all of the children's hearing and vision. I wasn't sure what I was going to do. Maybe I would shuffle the kids from one line to the other. Give a "quiet down" look to any kid that started to act up. But test their vision? Don't they have more qualified people than me?

I'm not stupid, but it is really hard to see myself as competent enough to assess someone's vision. Maybe it's because inside I'm still young and inexperienced. I forget that I'm an adult. I forget that I'm someone's mother, even if that someone is standing right next to me.

Last year I volunteered in my daughter's art class. The woman running the class was speaking to the students when she mentioned her age. She was 36 - my age. I stood there, shocked. Surely she couldn't be the same age as me! She was mature, knew what she was talking about and she was an ADULT. I think that was the first time it really hit me that I'm an adult too.

When I see a doctor and they are close to my age I start to freak out. If they are my age they are WAY too young to have the responsibility of any one's life! I still can't believe that people I went to college with are nurses, lawyers and teachers; or they have jobs with VP and Director in their titles.

Am I the only one who looks around me and can't figure out how I got here? How did I go from being the kid in school to the college student to the married woman to being some one's mother? It happened over the span of decades, but it was so fast that my brain hasn't caught up to my aging body.

In my head I'm still that goofy kid. I still like to make up songs when I'm bored. At six my daughter still thinks that is fun. I'm sure in the not-so-distant future she will scowl when I do that because she is standing on her tippi-toes and stretching up as high as she can so she can touch adulthood sooner.

Sometimes I think that I can't be the only one who feels 18 inside while the outside is slowly morphing into my mother. But to not be alone in this feeling is kind of scary because that means all of those people in whom I trust my life are freaked out teenagers inside. Is that stoic airline pilot wondering how he went from paper airplanes to being responsible for hundreds of lives? Is there a surgeon that stands over his patient, ready to cut, wondering how a kid who used to eat paste can now put his hands inside someone's body?

I shudder to think about such things. So I'm going to tell myself that those people, those with so much responsibility, are a little older inside than I am. They were always surgeons and airline pilots inside. I can't picture those people doing keg stands in college or making out with some stranger in a bar. No. I need to picture those people - those responsible people - as diligent students who enjoyed a discussion on Chekhov and never understood what the big deal was about partying.

Unfortunately for all of the kids at my daughter's elementary school, those people weren't available today. They got me instead. I pointed to the eye chart, watched them point which way the E was facing and did my best to get it right when I said, "Yup. 20/20." and sent them on their way. But if I'm the only thing that stands between those children and blindness, I hope they are good with white canes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I like you, I really like you...

Most nights at about 9 pm my husband and I convene on the couch in our living room. He watches whatever riveting science show he's recorded and I lay on the couch next to him and read. Most nights I'll fall asleep and my husband wakes me up when he goes to bed.

The other night I was laying there with my eyes closed, but was having trouble falling asleep. Then I heard the sound go off of the TV and what sounded like a giggle. I opened my eyes in time to see the back of my husband as he tossed a stuffed animal back and forth with our daughter.

It was now about 11 pm and I'm kind of a hard ass when it comes to sleeping. I really don't allow any BS at night and get mad when my daughter gets out of bed for no good reason. Bleeding, vomiting, etc... are exceptions.

My daughter knows this so if she is sick she usually comes to me, but all other excuses usually necessitate her going to Daddy and praying that I don't wake up. Mommy doesn't play when it comes to night time shenanigans.

So on this particular night I opened my mouth to tell our daughter that she needs to go back to bed, but saw my husband put his arm around our daughter and start walking her down the hallway towards her room. There he was smiling and looking down at her and she was smiling and looking up at him.

And both of them were beaming.

Tears sprang to my eyes.

I've heard the saying that to have a child is to have your heart walking out of your chest for the rest of your life and I really believe that to be true. But to truly give your heart to a man and for him to cherish it is yet another thing.

To see the two people that I love the most in the world looking at each other with such love was almost too much to bare. It was so beautiful to see the love my daughter has for her father and the love that she gets in return.

They say that the most important relationship a girl has with a man is with her father. This is the relationship that all others are compared and modeled after. My daughter may not be able to articulate it right now, but the look on my husband's face said it all.

He loves her, he will protect her, and she is the most important thing in his world. And the biggest thing that I saw as they looked at each other was that he liked her as a person.

We all love the people in our families. But we don't always like them. Love may not be a choice, but like is. My husband and I tell each other that we love each other a lot. However, we save the biggest complement for more poignant moments. When we tell the other person that we LIKE them an awful lot, we know we are doing pretty damn well.

After 10 years together and 6 as a family of three, I can honestly say that I LIKE my family.

And that night my family gave me the gift of seeing their love and like for each other. After seeing their blatant display of affection I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep so they wouldn't know I had invaded their special moment. It was hard laying still while my heart was so full. I know it is cliche, but I honestly could not think of a better way of describing it than my cup runneth over...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Not-So-Good Old Days...

I just spent five days with my family and another family on vacation. The other family has two boys, one is six like my daughter and the other son is almost two. I had forgotten what it was like with a two year old around.

The constant, "Momma!" and pushing of buttons and whining. And this kid was about a 5 on the annoying scale to my daughter's 10 at the same age. He didn't scream so loud that my ear drums would rattle. He didn't bolt the second he was put down to go climb something he shouldn't. My Step Dad called my daughter the "Roof Baby" because if we couldn't find her she must be on the roof.

I can't believe how much of my daughter's behavior I take for granted now. When she was two I was wondering if she would be in Juvi as a teenager or in rehab.

It was that bad.

Now days they call kids like this "sprited". What a crock of crap! "Sprited" is politically correct speach for "your kid is an obnoxious pain in the ass". When she was two it was relentless. She had so much energy and no amount of playing, running, or bouncing would get it out of her.

I remember being at playgroup with kids of the same age and watching them play. My daughter had picked up a little play lawn mower and was "mowing" the lawn. She was happily marching back and forth across my friend's lawn over and over again. One of the Mom's remarked that she would sleep good that night.

Huh? I honestly had no idea what she was talking about, because - seriously - a light stroll while pushing a plastic lawn mower was NOT going to do a damn thing!

Here is an example: One day my daugher went to a three hour sport camp outside in a park. Then we had a picnic at the park and she played on the playground equipment for two more hours, then we went to the sprinkler park for a couple more hours so she could run around in the sprinklers and climb their rock wall. Was she tired after that?

Nope. Just hungry.

The worst part was that everyone didn't really believe me about her energy. They only saw her for a couple of hours at a stretch. They had no idea that she sustained that level of energy ALL day long. One of my friends learned this first hand when she moved away and we went to visit her.

On the second day my daughter was being her normal relentless-energy self when my friend got exasperated and yelled, "My God! She is SO annyoing!"

After she said it she kind of gasped and stared at me wondering what I was going to do. Later she told me that she really thought the friendship was over because of it. No doubt I was surprised she said it. But it was the truth. I looked at my daughter, looked at my friend and said, "Thank God! Someone finally admits it!"

I was so relieved that FINALLY someone else had seen what I saw. I wasn't just imagining it. My friend saw that my cute little, adorable - and very much loved - child was a big pain in the ass sometimes.

All kids are at some point or another.

Anyone who says that their kid is all sweetness and light, ALL of the time, is a liar. I put them in the same category with Stay At Home Moms who say they never need a break from their kids.


All of them, I tell ya!

After 5 days in a house with a two-year-old it all came flooding back. How quickly I had forgotten what it was like to have a two-year-old around. Years down the road all of that emotional and physical exhaustion that I experienced is but a distant memory. At the time I felt like a failure as a parent and was holding onto my sanity by just my fingertips. But now I know that it was just a phase.

It may have lasted for more than three years, but it was still just a moment in time.

Not a lifetime.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Women are from Mars and men have a penis...

So my husband just did something to me that just seemed downright rude. At least the women I know would think so.

The men, probably not so much.

My husband was in the garage working on some project or other. I guess men would like to know what kind of project, but since I'm a woman, I don't care. All you need to know is that it involved a saw.

I was just about to leave for the store and he asked me a question. I'm not even sure what the question was, but I do know that I was two words into my answer when he turned around, flipped on the saw and cut some wood.

Umm 'scuse me. YOU asked me a question, I was answering and you freaking turned on the saw??!!

Who knew those things were so loud! I just yelled, "I was STILL talking!" and got into the car with my Mom (who was visiting for Thanksgiving) and left. The ride to the store gave us ample time to dissect what had just happened.

The man asked ME a question. Since he asked the question, I would assume that he would be interested in the answer.

Apparently not.

My Mom said that he's got the part down about acting interested in his wife by asking questions. He just forgot the part about listening to the answers.

He's a work in progress I guess.

If you think about it from a logical stand point it is universally rude to turn on your saw while someone is talking to you. Whether you've got an outie or an innie down there you would be offended. Right?


See it wasn't that he knowingly turned on the saw while I was talking. His mind just took a detour from listening to my answer and went to Planet Man that said, "Oh. Here is some wood I'm supposed to be cutting. Must cut wood." There isn't any room for, "Hmmm, my wife is talking. She might take offense if I turn on this loud contraption while she is talking."

It's a bit ironic that my husband would do something like this because the man hates noises. Any noise. Why he married me, a loud and klutzy woman who constantly drops or bumps into things, I don't know. However, every time he rolls his eyes at my loudness I just remind him that he knew this going in. It wasn't like I hid my loudness until I got him to marry me and then went about banging pots and pans and screaming at the top of my lungs.

My husband's most recent nemesis is my blender. I've been on a pretty rigorous diet over the past year and it requires me to drink a lot of protein shakes. I have at least two a day. One in the morning and one at night a couple of hours after dinner. Unfortunately, those are the two times a day that my husband isn't at work so he hears my blender a lot.

And it's loud.

The other day he even said that if he ever divorces me it will be over that blender. If that happens I'll make sure that he gets it in the divorce settlement.

Okay, back to that damned saw.

My Mom and I had a good time on the way to the store and back laughing about the difference between men and women. Men could do something completely egregious and 5 minutes later have no idea why their wife is upset. Women, on the other hand, will hold a grudge for days. We made each other giggle as we recounted such incidences in our marriages.

As we pulled into the garage my husband was still working with his saw. Luckily it was off for the moment. As we got out of the car I told him that he gave us a good laugh with the, "saw incident". He looked at me and said, "What 'saw incident'?"


So here's the question: If your wife talks while you are running your saw, does she make a sound?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I'm not a "Parent" person...

It's happening already. My daughter is not quite 6 years old and she already has her very own "Mean Girl". Isn't it a bit early for this?

I thought I wouldn't have to worry about this until 6th grade at the earliest. I guess I better shut off my Parenting Cruise Control and get my head back into the game! I think I'd rather answer detailed questions about where babies come from than navigate this sticky situation. It's not just the perpetrator that is a problem, it's the girl's mother.

The mother thinks her child is all sweetness and light. She frequently comments on how "friendly" her daughter is and how she would "never do anything to hurt any one's feelings." When that comment was made at our playgroup me and the rest of the mothers sat there silently with our eyes as big as saucers.

*Blink, blink*


This is the child who frequently cuts in line, bosses the other kids around, does her damnedest to make sure someone - anyone - doesn't get included when playing, finds a kid's week spot and picks at the raw nerve until her "friend" is left in a sobbing heap on the floor. Did I mention that she's 6 1/2?

I know that's young, but you've got to meet this kid! She is a master manipulator. Her parents believe everything she says. I wouldn't go so far as to call her "The Bad Seed" or anything, but you know...

When my daughter told me that the "Mean Girl" hit another girl while playing in her room I felt compelled to tell the "Mean Girl's" Mom. The girl she hit corroborated my daughter's story as well, but the woman didn't care. She told me afterward that her daughter said that she didn't hit anyone and she believes her. Mmmmkay...

Are you calling my kid a liar lady???!!! (Okay, I didn't actually say this. In fact, it didn't dawn on me until much later that she was calling my kid a liar. I'm a little slow...)

The funny thing is that this "Mean Girl" loves my daughter. She always wants to play with her and sulks at playgroup if my daughter isn't there. So I have no clue why she would be mean. The only thing that comes to mind is: Because she can.

Her parents don't stop her.

I used to think of myself as not really being a "kid person". I LOVE my own kid, but other kids got on my nerves. Then I realized that the kids' abhorrent behavior is usually a direct result of lack of parenting.

I've heard it SO many times. "He won't go to bed at night. He must have insomnia." Um. No. He won't go to bed because every time he gets up you feed him a treat, let him watch TV, and then lay with him for HOURS until he falls asleep. Sounds like getting up is a lot more fun than staying in his room by himself and sleeping!

Or, "She just has a hard head and doesn't realize I'm talking to her." Um. No. She hears you, she just doesn't care. She knows that you are too lazy to get out of your chair and do any parenting so she ignores you. As usual you will eventually give up yelling at her to stop hitting her sister and not do anything to discipline her. So she can just walk away, act like she doesn't hear you and there will be no consequences.

There are sooooo many more instances I can give of this. But I'll stop there. As a parent it's hard to think that a lot of the "problems" our children have are a direct result of something we're doing or not doing. It sucks when it's our fault.

I'm not the perfect parent. My daughter's pig-sty of a playroom can attest to that. I'm not consistent enough about getting her to clean it up. Most of the time I'm too tired at the end of the day to deal with it.

Sometimes I think, "I'm too tired to be a good Mommy today. I'll be a good Mommy tomorrow and have her clean it up." But then the next day comes and I use the same excuse.

One time I even saw my daughter hit another child while they were playing outside in our backyard. I sheepishly admit that for a moment I thought, "No one else saw it. The kid who got hit isn't crying. I can just sit here drinking my tea, talking with my friends and not have to get up and put her in a time out."

Luckily the Good Mommy Angel on one shoulder told my Lazy Devil Mommy on the other shoulder to shut up because I needed to do the right thing. Even if it meant getting off of my ass.

Every day I fight my laziness in order to do the right thing. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. But I'm always trying! I just wish that everyone else was too.

This Mean Girl Junior is just the first of many who will pop up in my daughter's life. I can't protect her from all of them. So I've got to teach her to protect herself from them. But how?

I don't know.

On the positive side. Having this "Mean Girl" in my daughter's life has been a great learning experience for my kid. I can tell her a million times to stand up for herself, but she is the one that has to do it. Better to learn now at almost 6 than when she is a teenager and some girl is taunting my daughter because she's too "scared" to jump off of a bridge like everyone else.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Labor pains...

Parenthood has been an interesting thing. Sometimes I marvel at the fact that I gave birth to this thing that constantly tortures me. But I also love her something fierce. I'm thinking it's somewhat like Stockholm Syndrome where you fall in love with your captor. Except that your captor is your kid.

Your child is the worst of you and the best of you all rolled into one. Not to mention the constant work involved. As my husband says, it's like trying to push water up hill.

My induction into parenthood was on November 10, 2003. The day my daughter was born. The labor itself wasn't too difficult because I had an epidural. It is a glorious invention! After 25 hours of labor at home and some serious sciatica pain, I was ready for some relief.

I have a friend who heard that you needed to ask for your epidural early so you can get in line sooner. She was worried that they would forget about her and it would be too late for the pain medication by the time they got around to her. She told every person who came into her hospital room that she wanted an epidural. I don't know what she expected that janitor to do about it, but her request was duly noted.

I have no shame in saying that I had an epidural. Why turn such a momentous occasion into a painful and traumatizing experience? It's not like you get a plaque on your wall stating that you gave birth without pain medications or anything.

Nobody needs a hero.

Because of the epidural I couldn't feel anything from the waist down. I do realize that that was the point and I was perfectly fine with the numbness. Which came in handy because I did have a pretty serious tear.

Down there.

My legs were in the stirrups for at least an hour while the doctor sewed me up. He - yes HE - had to lean in pretty close to make sure my sutures were right. It was then that I passed gas.

Right in his face.

And he jumped up startled, flapping his hands like a sissy. That's right. I said sissy! Man up dude!

It's not like I projectile peed on him or anything! Haven't these doctors seen it all? Or at least could have pretended that they had?

So that was my introduction into motherhood.

Joyful, messy and woefully humiliating.