Monday, January 30, 2012

Mastering the Art of "NO"

Look at that face. How can you say no to that, right? Well, here’s how:

No! Stop licking your brother’s head.
No! You know you’re not allowed to jump off the side of the couch.
No, we don’t use potty talk unless we’re in the bathroom.
No, cookies aren’t breakfast food.
No, I can’t help you build a train track right now.
No, we have to stay inside this morning.
No, I really need you to go take your nap. I’m sorry I don’t have time to cuddle.

Let’s face it, sometimes we have to tell our kids no. But lately I’ve been finding myself saying “no” when I really should be saying “yes”. Why? I’m not proud of it, but I’ll be honest. It’s because I can’t seem to say no to other people (who try as they might just aren’t as cute as Grouchy Pants and Stinker).

Freelance writing projects. Preschool holiday parties. Volunteer time. Even social gatherings. They’re all getting the best of me and my family is getting what I have left over. Which, given that whole feeding the toddlers thing and not sleeping consistently, isn’t all that much.

So I’m making a change. I’m embracing those two little letters that pack a huge punch. And, since I didn’t use them aggressively enough to begin with, I’m starting to use them in self-defense. (Let me tell you, if you thought it was hard to say no to begin with, it’s about ten times harder to say no once you’ve said yes.) I don’t feel good about backing out of commitments (if you know me you can probably imagine how much I’m beating myself up about it), but I know it’s what I have to do.

For my sanity. For my family’s happiness. For now.

Someday I’m be saying:

Yes! I did write that article you read in that parenting magazine.
Yes! The publisher loved my book.
Yes! I did help plan this wildly successful school fundraiser.
Yes! I did host a dinner party that didn’t include paper plates.

But for now I’m saying:

Yes, I said no. Again.
Yes, let’s build a fort.
Yes, let’s get outside for a bit.
Yes, I did talk to my parents today.
Yes, I love being a mom of two boys—especially to my cute little monsters.

And I’m quickly learning that all those yeses make the nos a whole lot easier.

What are you saying no—or yes—to these days? Any tips on how to make it easier?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Speed Bumps

As overly cautious as we are about protecting our children these days, it’s a wonder any of us survived our own childhoods of yesteryear.  Heck, many of us probably rode home from the hospital on our moms’ laps IN THE FRONT SEAT OF THE CAR (without a seat belt, no doubt)!!  All this fragility makes me wonder if our kids are missing out on some of the good old-fashioned fun that we got to experience way back when.

What started me thinking about this whole thing is the recent fascination my kids have shown over speed bumps.  They think it’s the absolute greatest thing in the world when I don’t slow all the way down before driving over them (the bumps not the kids).  They giggle and howl and hoot and holler as their little booties bounce up merely half an inch off their booster seats.  (Now, granted, I’m barely going 25 mph, but when you’re five years old, that’s practically a full-speed wheelie!)

It reminds me of when I was a kid and would ride in the very back of my dad’s mini van with the seats pulled out so we could lounge on the floor.  We would pile in with a group of my friends (totally illegal now, of course) until there was little room to move.  We would beg and plead for him to gun it over all the hills in the neighborhood so we’d spring so high up in the air that we’d bang our heads on the ceiling.  Sure it smarted a little bit, but that was completely overshadowed by the excitement of it all.  It was like our very own suburban roller coaster, and we loved every minute of the ride.

Unfortunately, though, I would likely be handcuffed and turned into DHS for such a stunt in today’s world.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m by no means advocating the abolition of seat belts.  I happen to like my children best when they aren’t flying through a windshield, thank you very much.  I’m just saying that I kinda miss some of that carefree attitude of days gone by.  Don’t you?  Just a little bit?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are You Bleeding, Choking, Or On Fire?

"Are you bleeding, choking or on fire?"

I ask my kids this about once a week. This is the only response they will get from me when I am in the bathroom and their tiny little fists pound on the bathroom door. It doesn't matter if I am showering, blow-drying my hair, or tinkling. These are the only situations that I allow to interrupt me.

I have had other mom friends lament the fact that they have not gone to the bathroom alone for nearly a decade because one of their children follow them in or weep inconsolably at the door.. Their children just can't live without them for any amount of time.  I've been there.  And now I'm putting my foot down.

I believe that the 23 1/2 other hours of non-bathroom time that I devote to my children assure them that I do indeed love them and are available to help, hug, and listen. I don't believe any moderate crisis can be solved by my shouting through a wooden door and also believe that any minor skirmish can be successfully dealt with after a thorough washing of hands. Major catastrophes such like bleeding, choking and flames, however will be dealt with promptly.

Full disclosure - I have been an open-door policy kind of gal for a few years now, but as my boys are old enough to distinguish the difference between a "pee pee" and a "princess", I feel this policy should cease to exist. I've begun to lock the bathroom door, even if I am home alone. I sometimes even run the water so nobody can hear me tinkle. The fact that people can hear me pee is slightly embarrassing.  Even if it's my husband. If I am feeling particularly bold, I will skip the running water if I am home alone. Maybe.

Other families don't mind a little company in the bathroom. Good for you. My recent epiphany is not a one-size fits all families type of edict, although after a certain age, get ready for the "where is the rest of your pee pee, Mommy" questions to insue.

But, if like me, you want a little time to yourself, take it. Your children will survive. It might be good to learn basic boundary issues so they don't rush into their boss's bathroom stall in a couple of decades.

From those who say it wouldn't work with their kids, I politely disagree. Bathroom locks were invented for a reason. And, with consistency, they will figure it out. They are smart kids. And, like my kids, they will stop knocking (or slink away when reminded of what constitutes a bathroom interrupting emergency).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Birthday Note to My "Bear"

{Emotional Advisement: Pregnant women need not subject themselves to the unecessary sappiness that follows.  If you are sufferring from postpardem or empty-nest syndrome, please feel free to skip to the next post.  The following tribute is to my firstborn and may cause a few ridiculous tears or the possible gag-reflex.  Please bare with me through the trauma of losing my baby boy to the startling reality of big-boyhood.  I reserve the right to sentimentality on this day every year for the next 5 decades.}

Yesterday morning as we walked toward your school, you let my hand go and told me you didn't need to hold it. I saw you look at some of the older kids - two girls standing by the gates - when you asked me for your bookbag and lunchbox. You slipped one on and took the other in your hand, you who usually complain that they're too heavy and can't I please just hold them for you?

You will not remember this moment, but I will. It's the first time you pull away from me, the first time ever that you don't want to hold my hand not out of rebellion, but because others are watching. I say nothing. I go along with this as if it's all perfectly o.k., when really, my heart is deflating.

As we near the school building, you reach over and grab my hand. Again, I say nothing, but you smile up at me when I give it a little squeeze. Oh, I realize that very moment, he's not quite ready to let go.

But the point's been made: you've turned a corner, and the desire to pull away from me has been sparked.

Away, not apart.

I say this more for myself, so that I don't completely lose it.

I'm not wholly surprised; I believe a big part of my job as your mother is to help you grow away from me as confidently as possible, and I've been working on that for years now, all those moments when I help you learn something or push you to figure it out for yourself or tell you you can do it, it's o.k., and hold you to it, refusing to rescue you. But still, that first sign from you that the shift I knew would come is glimmering in you, and - wow. A mom can't ever fully prepare for that, I guess.

Sweet boy, you're so bright and quirky and stubborn and chatty and sensitive and full of laughter. I love the way your sense of humor is growing, and that you want so badly to be good and helpful. I love how free you are with your affection, and the way your face betrays you when you do something you're not supposed to.

You drive me nuts with your constant challenging, with the way I have to repeat things like 3,000 times, with the moments where you make dumb choices and I have to let you feel the consequences of your actions.

You are maddening and the source of so much worry and frustration and wonder and elation. And every day my love for you deepens, and the jolt of that truth when it hits me never fails to startle me, because I thought I already loved you more than humanly possible.

And so, with you turning five today, I understand that I must help guide you through this new phase of your growth toward independence. I have to be o.k. with you pulling away, encourage you sometimes, even. I have to show you in whatever way I can that you can do it and that I believe in you, so you should believe in yourself, too.

But no matter what, I'll always be ready and willing to hold your hand, and yes, I'm going to give it a little squeeze.

Happy Birthday, my precious big boy. Whether you are five or fifty, you will forever be my little “bear”.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Four-Year-Old's Guide to Party Ettiquette

If there’s one thing I look forward to (besides a Dora marathon) it’s hitting the birthday party scene. I’m not ashamed to say I like to party. I party HARD. One memorable birthday bash I attended had a bottomless make-your-own-cupcake bar AND a bouncy house. On the ride home I barfed all over myself. Luckily my goodie bag was unscathed. Good times. 
While my mom’s social life has dwindled to almost nada, mine is a flurry of excitement. (Thanks to the preschool “invite the whole class” mandate).  With my own birthday a mere moments away (2 days), I felt it important to go over a few party rules.

Your dance card filled? Here’s how to maintain some composure at your hottest social events, even if you’re hopped up on sugar and you’ve missed your nap. 

DO dress for the occasion
You might think it’s “cool” or “hip” to show up to a party sporting your peed-on jammies from the night before, but that is just plain tacky. Also, swimsuits are only appropriate for swim parties. And, please, before you get yourself all revved up for a marathon stand-off with your mom, remember, clothes are NEVER optional party attire. 

DO keep your hands off of the cake
Don’t give in to temptation and shove a handful of cake in your mouth, blow out the candles yourself, or wipe your boogers on the forks. That kind of bad behavior is sure to make your friend burst into tears and inevitably an adult will demand “The Apology.” Think about it. Do you really want to deliver a forced “sorry” with a face full of ill begotten frosting? 

DON’T keep the birthday gift for yourself
When bringing a gift to a party, be sure to politely hand it over to the birthday boy or girl upon entering the festivities. No grabbing the box, shrieking “It’s mine!!!” and running out into traffic. 

DON'T drink yourself under the table… or, for that matter, drink under the table. Yes, the juice boxes will be flowing, but are you going to want to stop what you’re doing to get to the potty? If you’re not yet potty trained, it’s good form to go easy on the liquids — nothing will make you feel less like a “big boy” than being carted out like a giant baby for a diaper change.

DO beware the party favorsGenerally those little goody bags are filled with useless items that your friend’s parents threw together at the last minute — an assortment of choking hazards and lead-based painted toys. Upon entering the car to go home, simply dump the contents of the bag on the floor. That way you’ll always know where they are.

DO know when to leaveDo try to coincide your exit with your nap time. But if you absolutely can’t put your meltdown on hold, at least try to refrain from punching, kicking, and biting as you’re dragged out by your arm. Remember, your friend will have another party next year — and you don’t want to be left out. Make a good impression. Don’t be a douche.

Did I miss anything?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Power of Words

"Stop your crying. Seriously, it's getting on my nerves. Why do you cry so easily?!" I screeched at Grouch, my extremely sensitive 5-year-old son.

The minute the words left my mouth, I immediately regretted them. The look on his face was one of shock, frustration and disappointment.

Disappointment in his mother...someone who is supposed to support and love him, no matter what. Even if he was crying over something that seemed downright trivial to me.

It had been a particularly tiring day, draining me of every ounce of energy I had left...and it was only 5:00 in the evening.

The last hour had been spent battling with Grouch and Stinker to finish their dinner so that we could get ready for evening church, but they persisted in yelling at one another over who was to be which superhero in their pretend game of fighting the evilness in the world. .

And the level of noise in the house was quickly wearing me down. It used to never bother me...the noise, that is. However, after having children, I seem to be hyper-sensitive to the endless chaos and commotion that happens within our home, 16 hours a day.

My head ached and pulsated, begging for relief. My blood began to boil, forcefully lurching me to a place I didn't want to go.

I knew this was the point where the situation called for me to retreat. Simply walk away, Michelle.....I told myself. Take a breather. Go outside and run around the backyard. Lock yourself in the bathroom and take a few deep breaths.

"Do not allow yourself to say anything you'll regret. Words hurt," my inner voice reminded me.

And yet, despite my conscience warning me against verbal damage, I did it anyway.

When I told Grouch to give me a minute to cut out the game before WWIII broke out, he burst into angry tears. Just like that. No quivering of the lip, no teary eyes, nothing.

The waterworks turned on with very little effort and I completely lost my ability to stay in control...and that's when the poisonous words spilled out of my mouth.

I'll be the first one to tell you that I don't spank Mr. Grouchy Pants. We have in the past and learned early that with this one, time-out works so much better. I can hold myself back from swatting him over the most serious of situations. I prefer to have conversations with him.....ones he'll learn from and use in future situations when he faces yet another challenge.

Yet, I forget that words, too, can hurt...just as much as a spanking can. Words can't be taken back. Once they've been spoken (or screamed), they linger in the a foul stench that won't go away.

Sure, I can apologize, which I often do...but the damage has been done. I've crushed their little spirits...perhaps even tainted their view of me as a mother who is supposed to be loving and accepting of their good AND not-so-good qualities.

So what if Grouch cries easily? That's just who he is. I should know that if he wants a red apple and all I have are green apples that his first response may be to cry. It's his form of expressing immediate frustration and I can't hold that against him, no matter how exhausted and defeated I feel.

Because I grew up hearing nothing but negative, hurtful words from my father, I'm even harder on myself than I should be. Without proper role models, I'm constantly floundering in this stage of my life called parenthood...forever worrying that I'm permanently screwing up my children's one shot at a happy childhood.

At the same time, I realize I'm only human and, as much as I want to control every one of my actions, I will fail time and again.

What's a mother to do?

I'm not exactly sure. It's a never-ending learning process, I suppose.

But I do know that every day is a fresh start...a new opportunity to shine as the mother I strive to be. One who opens her mouth and speaks kind, loving and patient words. One who accepts her children's quirks and downfalls for what they are and doesn't worry that others may find it annoying or embarrassing.

In the end, my hope is that my children will understand that I'm doing the best I can. I struggle, I face challenges and I smile through the tears (75% of the time).

Most of all, I want them to be absolutely who God created them to be and feel loved for who they are.

My wish for myself is that I can be stronger when that inner voice is warning me to walk away.

Words hurt. It's something I must always remember.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Parent of The Year, Right Here!

When it comes to parenting, there’s definitely not a clear-cut right or wrong way.  Every family has its own way of doing things that works best for them.  Now I know that I am certainly not the poster mom for parenthood, but compared to some of the shady characters that I’ve run into lately, I’d say that I’m doing pretty alright.

I’m sure that most of you would agree with me that caffeine and toddlers do not really go together.  That would be like giving the Tazmanian Devil a truckload of crack, right?!  So when I saw this one particular woman recently feeding her two-year-old son Mountain Dew by the Big Gulp, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow.  I mean, honestly, what possesses a person to think that ramping up an already jacked-up bundle of energy is ok?  And did I mention that these caffeine blasts were taking place at the beginning of a 6-hour school day?  Yeah and lucky Grouch just so happened to be sitting right next to this major parenting failure in preschool.

I also recently came across a mom at the park who was so enthralled with her own conversation that she completely blew off the fact that her kid was totally bleeding all over the place.  The poor child approached her mom for help, blood streaming from her arm and tears flowing down her face, while the mom repeatedly shushed her away so that she could finish her ever-so-important chitter chatter.  I had to purposely bite my tongue to keep from offering to take care of the boo-boo myself while her self-absorbed mother continued to shoot the breeze out of absolutely nothing at all.

Then there was the parent I ran into who had apparently taught her kid that rude is definitely the best way to go in life.  This little weenie of a kid felt it necessary to talk smack to anyone and everyone who happened to make any kind of eye contact whatsoever with him.  My poor toddler made the mistake of looking back in his general direction, and you would have thought that he’d stabbed him in the gut with a kitchen knife.  He immediately began LOUDLY griping to his mom that he “didn’t like that boy looking at him like that.“  And wouldn’t ya know that his clueless excuse for a parent just laughed it off as if it was the cutest thing she’d ever seen.  Manners CLEARLY were not her strong suit, so she didn’t even attempt to teach him the right way to behave.  I have a feeling he’ll end up being the next Charlie Sheen.

So if it really is true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, then we are in a world of hurt here, people.  There are one too many a-holes in this world who are breeding even more a-holes like it’s their job.  Common decency should really not be a thing of the past.  I guess at the very least, though, the a-holes sure are making the rest of us look like we’re candidates for Parent of the Year, right?

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Invisible Mom

There’s a baby boom in Edmond, America right now:  And seeing all these beautiful knocked up women waddling around with their big old moon bellies fills me with longing. 

But for all the wrong reasons.

See, I'm a Libra, which means that I am a drama queen often enjoy a little attention once in a while. (Ok, some of you are probably thinking "Thank you, Captain Obvious, for this startling insight into your psyche. But we figured this out several posts ago.")

When you're pregnant, it's like you're the center of the universe. People pay attention to you. And as your belly gets bigger, it's gravitational pull increases, drawing dewy-eyed gazes, warm smiles, and the usual checklist of questions.   For example:
"When are you due?"
"Do you know what you're having?"
"How are you feeling?"
"Do you have any names picked out yet?"
"Are you sure you aren't having twins?"

People hold doors open for you when you're pregnant.

You get your H1N1 shot without having to wait on line like everyone else.

You can fill your grocery cart with as much chocolate ice cream as you want without being judged by the woman at the neighborhood market.

Even when your  (c)ankles rival those of an elephant, and you're lumbering down the candy aisle at the convenient store, people tell you you're beautiful!  You're glowing!  You're just the cutest pregnant lady evah! 

(And you believe it.)

This solicitousness peaks when you reach Critical Mass: All eyes are on you during the last few weeks of pregnancy, as you become that proverbial 'watched pot.'  

Your partner, friends, family, strangers, are all holding their breath, just waiting for your water to break.   At the time, you may be irked by all the attention (i.e., you sneeze, and your hubby makes a beeline for the hospital bag…)  but you’re probably also reveling in it, too. Or at least you should be, because it’s all about to change.


After so many sleepless nights, you finally get to stagger into the hospital or the birth center or your magical homebirth tub --  your hands dramatically clutching your contracting belly, your head held high, smiling serenely while shaking on the inside because aside from worrying about the health and safety of your baby, you know that you might be one of those women who poops herself during labor.

And throughout it all, it never occurs to you that your spotlight is about to dim.

You see, once you're a mama, you become invisible.
Sure, at first there's a flurry of emails, calls, and wall-posts on facebook, but after a few weeks, people lose interest. Instead of asking how you're doing, everyone asks about the baby. It's as though now that the baby is out, it no longer matters how you are feeling, or whether or not your needs are met. No wonder Postpartum Depression can strike around this time. I mean, not only do you have this huge hormonal letdown,  but you finally realize that you were just a vessel for new life. And while most new mamas can handle this, those of us who thrive on attention, (ahem) are at a loss.

When faced with the harsh reality of becoming the Invisible Mama, some women become uber-competitive, fighting tooth and nail to make the best cake for the bake sale, or bring the most healthy but delicious snack to the playgroup.  Other moms are able to throw themselves back into a career, and forge a new identity based on a lot of hard work and a lot more caffeine. I, on the other hand, got pregnant again. (Believe it or not, with the help/no-help of birth control.) 

But now, Mr. Stinky Pants is two-years-old – he’s toddling out of babyhood leaving a trail of cracker crumbs in his wake.  And, the idea of going through it all over again  -- the upside down days where night becomes the new morning, the colic and acid reflux phase, the near-biblical deluge of baby poop (ten diapers a day, people!)  for a measly nine months of stardom seems a bit… desperate.  (Like Tom Cruise making another Mission Impossible.  Oh wait.)

That said, I miss the feeling of butterfly wings fluttering inside me and knowing that it has nothing to do with the beans I ate for dinner.  I miss my sweaty and oily glowing skin, and the roadmap of stretchmarks on my stomach and thighs.    I miss missing all the things that are forbidden:  Tuna sandwiches and raw cheese and wine and crack and three cups of espresso.  I miss feeling swollen and engorged and peeing fifteen times a night, and  having to sleep propped up because everything I eat insidiously creeps back up through my esophagus, and  God Forbid I should sleep for more than an hour at a time without waking up to change positions because sciatica is an evil you know what  is brutal. 

And yes, I miss knowing through it all that I better savor every minute of it because this too shall pass.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Kids Need Moms to Pray in Secret With the Door Open

In a warp-speed world that grows kids up too fast and too soon, mothering can feel like running a marathon - at a 100-meter sprint pace! At least in my own experience raising these two little hellions! Mom of four and author, Angela Thomas spent seven years as a single parent and offers hope and encouragement to those traveling the mothering road. In 52 Things Kids Need from a Mom, Angela shares how to love your kids through lots of forgiveness, become a marvelous mom and a better "you" along the way. I picked up this book awhile back and started it. I realized that probably wasn't going to do the trick. This was more of a "challenge". The book is separated into 52 chapters, outlining different needs that your child has and ways to meet each of those needs. A lot of them are spiritual needs and physical needs, many emotional and mental. Some seem trivial and some seem obvious. As I've reviewed each chapter, I realize however, that each need is warranted. So I've taken on the task of daring myself to be a better mom in 2012. It's my number one priority, hardest job, yet greatest privilege. I need to take it more seriously. So these Wednesday posts are about to delve a bit more serious than the normal mommy-rants that I'm used to throwing at ya. I don't think you'll regret it though. Take some pointers along the way with me and leave me your feedback! Let's tackle this mess of motherhood together.

Chapter One: Kids Need Their Mom to Pray in Secret With the Door Open

In my first years as a mom, I desperately wanted to keep a passionate spiritual life with God. I wanted to read my Bible. Sit quietly and pray. Maybe even keep a journal. It's just that my little people would not cooperate. I had two babies in 2.5 years and neither one of them was on board with my plan. My heart keeps longing for the days of summer camp, the spiritual highs, the amazing nights of enlightenment at a women's conference. I want my spiritual life to go back to the way I'd always had it. Alone. It has taken me quite a while to realize that being a mom means you might never be alone again. (and the terror sets in!)

When I read the topic on chapter one, I thought, how in the world am I going to get ANY privacy to pray?! I barely get too poop in private anymore! Getting a moment to myself to pray is completely out of the question, just ask my two little monsters. . .who obviously could care less about my "quiet time" with God. She gives us plenty of pointers; from having a short bible study during their bathtub time, to waking up an hour before your household, to praying out loud in the car on the way to daycare.

I would love to tell you that my struggle ended in a moment of brilliance. But I am way too tired for brilliant. It was just one mid-morning, somewhat like the author's experience. I put on some cartoons for the rugrat gang and fled to my bedroom for some solitary time. I figured now was as good of time as any to squeeze in some prayer time. Lord knows, my patience was running thin this week with it being winter break and too cold to enable us all to escape outside and have a break from each other. We'd been cooped up like caged animals and the "pouncing" had already started this morning at breakfast. So I sat down in the middle of my closet and bowed my head. Lord, give me strength not to kill them today. Or tomorrow. Or the weekend. Because I love them and I want to be a better mom. Please make me a more patient mom. . . .and thus the sound of pitter-pattering feet down the hallway into my room. Instead of stopping what I was doing, I just remained, praying. Of course they bursted right in and started the "MOOOOooooommy" calls. When I didn't answer, they peeked in the closet. I bet you can guess what happened next. They crawled on me. They played with my hair. They wiggled their little faces up to mine. "Mommy, what are you dooooing?" asked my youngest. "Praying. . ." a calm, non-frustrated voice spoke from inside me. "Ooooh, it looked like you were sleeping!" My oldest chimed in. An honest mistake. It's been known to happen, I must admit. What happened next was amazing. Both of them sat next to me, crossed their little hands together, squished their eyes shut and prayed too. Mr. Grouch prayed for new toys (shocker) and Stinker prayed some babble about Superman. And it lasted 2 minutes and then they scurried out to watch the rest of Phineas and Ferb. But they prayed. My two little men prayed because their mommy was praying.

I agree wholeheartedly with Angela Thomas and her ideas of "praying in secret with the doors open" She says that she heard God speaking to her very clearly about this, saying:
"Come to me messy. Come when you're tired. Let the children lay on top of you. Let them interrupt you. You do not have to be perfect. . .just come to Me and let them see."

It seems like some of the more important lessons we want to teach our kids are transferred--and not because we sit them down in the living room, pass out ten pages about being spiritual, and then give them a long-winded lecture about how our family is going to follow God. The thing that shape them most deeply is that you and I pursue God in everyday life. Our spiritual lives becoming the backdrop of their childhood. Bibles left open are normal. Mom doing a bible study at bathtime, routine. A kneeling, praying mom is an ordinary sight.

So, I'll leave you with what God is telling me this week from this study. . ."I want your kids to see you being with Me." Though most days, I can't be "alone" with Him, I'm learning to adjust. I hope and pray this week that you will allow your kids to see you praying in secret with the door open as well.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lay Off My Cell Phone!

I recently read a blog post on written by a grandmother who thinks that moms' and dads should get off their cell phones and enjoy being with their children. All the time.

And I quote: "I see more caregivers (moms and nannies) talking on the phone while pushing a stroller than not. I think it should be like “no texting while driving.” “No cell phones while caring for a small child!”"

Turns out, my mom feels the same way:

“When I see parents on their cell phones ignoring their children, I say something. “ She said. “Get off the phone and pay attention to your child for Heaven’s sake.”

I leveled her with a look – a look culled from hours – ok, days – of lost sleep. A look shaped by the never-ending worry of being knee-deep (well, neck deep) in the ever-loving moment of parenting a preschooler and a toddler. A red-eyed look. A deep-socketed look. An “I haven’t slept for the past, oh, I don’t know, almost three years, and there are days when I forget to brush my teeth and put on deodorant, and my husband and I haven’t spent more than an hour alone together since I was pregnant with our first-born, and could someone please pass me a double shot latte and a bottle of wine, and what the heck am I going to make for dinner tonight, and Imma cut the next person who tells me how to raise my child” look.

LOOK. If my kid is playing with matches and licking dog poop off of a lead toy while sitting in the middle of a busy intersection, then sure, tell me to get off my cell phone and pay attention to my child. No, really. I may be (finally) having a little adult interaction with my best friend who lives on the other side of the world, but I want to know if my kid’s in danger. Because believe it or not, my priorities are pretty intact.

But otherwise? Give me a break.

After all, Mom, you get to give the kids back to me when you’re done playing at the park or having a very earnest discussion about how the wheels on the bus go round and round. (Lest we forget.) You get to go home and have a quiet dinner, or eat at a restaurant that doesn’t have a kids menu and crayons. You don’t have to sleep with one eye open, waiting for the inevitable wail.

Deep down I know that this too shall pass. But it’s hard to be Zen when you’re only sleeping two or three hours a night.

And surely Mom, you remember the crushing exhaustion of a croupy 2 year old. You must remember the midnight and two am and four am parades to the potty. You know what it’s like to be judged by grandparents who are sure they know better (and probably do know better, but that isn’t the point.)

And if you had had a cell phone back in the day, maybe you would have been on it commiserating with someone who understands. So cut me a break once in awhile. Por Favor.