Monday, July 30, 2012

My Way Is NOT Best

I often joke about the negative things motherhood has brought to my life- lack of sleep, no free time, an acceleration of the aging process, increased need for wine, etc.  The truth is, motherhood has brought an innumerable amount of positive things to my life as well.  In addition to the great things about my kids, becoming a mom has developed a more compassionate and non-judgmental side to my personality that I might not have had otherwise.  Instead of being annoyed or just walking past the mom with the screaming baby in the grocery store, I’m much more likely to ask if there’s anything I can do to help.  When I see someone with a different parenting style than mine, I try hard to understand and be respectful of the fact that we aren’t all the same, instead of automatically assuming what they are doing is wrong. Believe me, this skill has developed over time.  At first, I was one of "those moms" too. Thinking that I knew what was best, but after many a sleepless night, uncontrolled tantrums (not mine), and moments of realization that I had NO IDEA what I was doing as a parent, I've opened my eyes to a new perspective. No one has it figured out! Everyone has moments of utter desperation, and everyone has moments of triumph in parenthood. No one has a right to think they have it all together. 
I think part of my hesitation to judge others, especially other moms, comes from the fact that my own parenting and lifestyle choices have been judged by family and friends.  And honestly, it doesn’t feel too good.  I had a conversation with my mom the other day regarding correct ways to discipline. We all do it differently.  I must admit, before kids, I was the stiff in the high heels looking down my nose at the disheveled mom who wouldn't bend her unruly child over her knee for a swift "coming to Jesus" moment. What are these mom's problems?! What this child needs is a good beat-down! But as a mom, I realized in a quick minute that all children are different and the discipline that works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. Another judgement that was made by a few friends was my choice to not breastfeed. In all fairness, I had some extenuating circumstances surrounding my delivery that put off my ability to breastfeed the boys the first few days of their lives and after those days, my body decided that milk wasn't necessary. Thanks, boobs, for the vote of confidence. After some discouragement, I decided not to continue to try any longer and that decision seemed to be a big deal to some. This was a decision that many new moms make, but I’m not going to judge someone who chooses something different that what I did.  (By the way, the intention of this blog is not to start a debate about the acceptable amount of time to breastfeed.)       
I’ve had others question a variety of decisions I’ve made, from how much weight I gained during my pregnancy (Holy 72 lbs!), to what I feed my kids, to how much tv I let them watch.  The interesting thing is that it’s mostly been moms who do it, less out of concern, but more because I’m doing something different than how they’d recommend.  I would think that every mom has experienced this at one time or another, so moms should be the most sensitive to this kind of criticism.  Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case.  My feeling is that unless a child is in danger (which definitely isn’t the case in my situation), most parents know their kids better than anyone else.  They are trying to do a good job of raising them and making the decisions they think are best.  It’s fine to offer feedback when asked, but be careful about telling someone they aren’t doing something right just because it’s different.
I think this lesson can apply in many aspects of life, not just parenting.  Our society tends to judge anyone who is different for whatever reason:  because of their size, religion, income level, political views -- the list goes on and on.  I know it sounds a little idealistic, but I think it would be nice if we could learn to understand and accept differences instead of always assuming our way is the best way.
What do you think?

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Goodnight Mooning

One of my absolute favorite things to do with my kids is to read to them. . .ok, I'm lying. This is a big, fat, lie, seems how they can never sit still for a whole story and insist on creating what should normally be a calming bedtime ritual, a circus.  Since I happen to have a borderline obsession with children’s books, though, I get absolutely giddy when they want to share in my love of literature (kinda).   That’s why the bedtime story is one of my most treasured times of the day (eye roll) — that is, until one of my little monsters decide to moon me right in the freakin’ middle of Goodnight Moon.
And so it was the other night, when we all settled in to my sons room to get all cozy with a good read.  My oldest was snuggling Rocky, the dog we seem to be fostering for the time being, as he "adopted me" on one of my nightly runs last week.  The little Stinker was hanging from his bunk bed like a monkey, and my hubby was listening from the next room, playing some form of Zombie-killing game.  Now this may seem odd to some families, but to ours, this is pretty much the general state of the union around here.  Yes, everyone was totally and completely mesmerized by the brush and the bowl of porridge and the red balloon.
But just as I was about to wrap up my tale-telling for the evening, my youngest son, the comedian, took it upon himself to squash the warm and fuzzy mood in the room in one fell swoop.  He stood on his bed, turned around, and promptly dropped trou right then and there.  I glanced up from the book just in time to see a bare naked little tushy wiggling from side to side in front of me.
Really, dude?  Now how was I supposed to act all parent-y while my son was so proudly displaying his first official “full moon“?  So I did the only thing I could do.  I made a beeline out of the room so he wouldn’t hear all my giggling.  And then I gave him silent props for giving me a very witty end to our story time. Goodnight Moon, indeed, child.  Touche'.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Dear Younger Self. . .

Oh, the things I would love to tell the younger me!  I know we've all thought this way. . .If I knew THEN what I know NOW. . .  Sometimes I just want to find that infamous time machine, go back ten years and have a sit-down-pow-wow with younger Michelle about what is to come.  Words of wisdom from a bit more experience; life management tips for the future.  Could I have ever used the help! Ha!  Life strategies are something that as women, we typically accumulate through time, growth, trials and triumph and also, a great deal of hard work. When I look back on the past, and my winding path of poor choices in to womanhood – a process that is very much still in the works – I think of all of the valuable lessons that grew from my mistakes, the wisdom that I have gained through the years, and the glorious, humbling, powerful hindsight that often comes so specifically from looking in reverse. There are many ways to live, and many life techniques that one generation can impart on another. For my part, here are some of the most fundamental, liberating, and oh-so-if-only-I-had-known-it-then life strategies I would tell my younger self now, if I could. Much like the knowledge handed down to me by those amazing women who came before, perhaps these lessons will serve as a little roadside assistance on the journey of younger women, or at the very least, fair warning. Either way, here is to hoping that the next generation does it all slightly more gracefully than I did.

1. Beauty Is Not Found on the Cover of Cosmo
Mirror, mirror, on the wall… who is the fairest of them all? This age-old question is one that has evolved for me over time. Naturally, in youth, we are more focused on the outward – how we look, how we compare to others, how our weight compares to those on the cover of the latest Cosmo, and how we can use appearance to fit in, stand out, or communicate who we are. It is only through experience that I think we truly understand the value something deeper, the value of this life lesson: look closely and you will likely find that the most beautiful women you know, regardless of their individual appearances, all have in common a passion for life, a caring and generous spirit, a great sense of fun, and a confident, positive attitude. This is no coincidence – it is the simple fact that true beauty really does originate, grow, blossom and thrive from within. It is important to take care of your outer appearance, of course, but the key is to balance that effort with nurturing all of those wonderful, graceful and loving inner qualities that truly enhance your natural beauty and allow the world to see how stunning you are through and through.

2. Be Completely Yourself - Always
This life strategy can be very challenging to practice at a young age as maturity is an evolving process and who we are develops in stages. For me. . .it was a rocky road.  I was never satisfied with who I was ten years ago.  It is natural to want to fit in, and even to sacrifice some of our own preferences, values or beliefs to make that happen. The truth, however, is that you really are the only one who knows for sure what is right for you, and your voice is worth fighting for. The number of times in my past that I didn’t trust my instincts, communicate what was true for me, or held back on my personality out of fear of what people would think is truly a testament to my knowledge that it is so much better to embrace those things that make you a beautiful individual. Be true to yourself and honor your own identity – your personality, your likes and dislikes, your outlook on the world. In my experience, the more of yourself you celebrate, the more likely you will be to find those who share your interests, passions and views, and think you are wonderful exactly as you are. I wish this confidence had come to me earlier!

3. Save Your Nickels!
Oh my goodness, if I had a nickel for every time I should have saved a nickel instead of spending it on "you-name-it", I would have many ‘a nickel right now, let me tell you! As un-glamorous as it might sound, this is one of the most important strategies for living I can impart on the younger generation: the sooner that you start saving for your future, the more options you will be creating for yourself down the road. I am huge believer in investing in travel, education, real estate, and Jimmy Choo shoes, or anything that is of value to you individually, and the more consistently you save by showing a little short term restraint, the more of those things you will be setting yourself up to enjoy over the long haul with greater freedom from debt. Plus, in today’s uncertain global economy, a girl really cannot be over-prepared for the ups and downs of the job market. Do yourself a big-picture favor and begin a savings plan – you will be surprised at how quickly it accumulates and how satisfying it feels to have a little something set aside for a rainy day.

4. Bad Boys Are Just That - BAD.
Having married a quintessential “nice guy” I may seem biased on this point, but believe me, I spent a shocking amount of my youth chasing the player/jerk/all-round bad boy, and guess what, with very few exceptions – that really only serve to prove the rule, in fact – bad boys are actually bad. Heed my advice, and add this to the top of your list of life strategies moving forward – relationships should be built on mutual trust, respect, honesty and caring, and those values are absolutely worth the wait. Yes, you may be one of the few lovely ladies out there with a bad boy who treats you right, or maybe you just prefer this type of guy, and that is your call, but for all those women working unhappily to stay in the favors of their not-so-nice-guys, keep in mind the adrenaline you feel trying to “win” over the rebel with the brooding attitude and list of rules is really not worth your time or efforts. You deserve someone who will love and respect you from day one, because for the record, you are amazing and your nice guy is out there.

5.Cherish Your "Homegirls"
No matter what stage of life you are in, a good friend is a blessing unlike any other. When you are young, however, you are often able to dedicate more time to enjoying your girlfriends, prior to husbands, children and other commitments that can take priority as you mature. Thinking of life strategies, I know if I could go back, I would tell my younger self to spend far more time cherishing my female friendships.Create more experiences with them. . .take more "girl vacations", host more cocktail hours, invest more in midnight talks. . . After all, when I think back now, it is truly those moments we shared together that resonate as some of the happiest, most supportive, wonderful times of my young life. A good girlfriend never goes out of style, so take advantage of the time you have together today.

6. Your Body is Truly a Temple
There are many different ways to live when it comes to diet and exercise and each woman has to find the path that works best for her. Lord knows I've been up and down more roads than one when it comes to "revamping" my health and wellness! When I was younger, however, I believed, like so many women do, that my metabolism would stay the same, I had plenty of time to develop good fitness habits, and I could truly treat my body with far less respect than I should have. Well shoulda, coulda, woulda’s aside, life lesson learned, because my body has changed with the years, two kiddos, and waaaay too much fast food, and now I am working to catch up. And truth be told, I have realized in maturity that loving and taking care of your body goes well beyond the valuable reasons for maintaining a healthy weight, it ties in to stress management, feelings of empowerment and self-esteem, and it can open the door to enjoying life in a truly healthy, centered way. Your body really is your temple and the better you are to it, the more it will give you in return.

7. Live in the Moment
The final point on a list of life strategies I would tell my younger self if I could really is the key to finding so much happiness, fun and joy in life for me, yet I can confess that it is a lesson that eluded me for many years – live in the moment! Being present for each day, truly invested in what is going on around you ensures you are not unproductively dwelling on the past, or wrapped up in what may happen down the road. Instead, you are awake for the now and able to better enjoy the blessings you have today, and be more prepared for the ups and downs life throws at you. Not every moment is going to be ideal, and I think we can all attest to the inevitable heartbreak that goes along with life at some point, but by living the moment you can put in to practice one of the most widely recognized and successful life techniques: the ability to hone in on the one moment you are capable of changing, relishing in, and truly maximizing.

It is never too late to adopt new life strategies, and while there are many things I would tell my younger self now, if I could, the road to the lesson is so much of the experience, there is very little I would change in the end. If you are part of the next generation of wonderful women, currently exploring your teens and twenties with the same innocence and optimism I did, I encourage you to find ways to live that speak to you, and to embrace the wisdom of those who forged the path ahead of you. And, if you are part of the maturing generation who assisted young women like myself, then I can promise you we are all grateful for your guidance and fail-proof advice. In that spirit, each one of our amigas, young and old, no doubt has a range of experience to share – what life strategies can you add to this list, ladies?

I'd love new wisdom to impart to, well. . .ME! Let's hear it!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I Cry at the Sight of Tighty Whities

As a parent, it’s not only exhilarating but also necessary for survival to get away from your kids every now and then.  Cause let’s face it, as cute and as sweet as they are, they can be a giant pain in the hind quarters.  Am I right, or am I right?  However, as much as I enjoy escaping them, I somehow find myself missing the little devils not too long after I’m gone.  (Pathetic, I know.)

Take, for example, this past weekend when my husband gifted me with an afternoon away to myself.  I was beyond ready for some adult alone time since I’d refereed more than enough sibling wrestling matches and driven my car to the farthest ends of the earth between one activity or another for the last week.  So I packed up my stuff, actually put on make-up and something other than my comfy pjs, and headed out to the mall to enjoy some retail therapy.
The day was fabulous! I bought some "non-mom" outfits for the upcoming vacation to the beach, did a bit of reading in a plush chair at the bookstore, sipping a caramel macchiatto in complete peace, and actually knocked out some long-overdue blogging. All was rejuvenated, refreshed, and right in my world. So right that I actually thought twice about going home and instead contemplated heading for the border.  Have we talked about how much I want to hang up my mommy-hat and lounge in Thailand for a looooong while?? I thought so. . .(see My Glorious Mommy Meltdown HERE.)
Funny enough, though, as I was digging through my purse at the Barnes and Noble counter to find my wallet, a single pint-sized tighty whitie tumbled out onto the floor.  I immediately recognized it as my son’s, and I felt a little pang in my heart.  Here I was so anxious to get the heck out of dodge, and I turn to butter at the sight of one measly little Hanes.  WTH?!  But, you see, that’s what happens when you love someone more than anything in this world.  And when you’re a mom, you always carry around a little piece of them whether you realize it or not….

Friday, July 20, 2012

Parenting By Pinterest

I love when I hear about a new system or a handy tip for doing things. Mostly when it involves training my kids (FOR THE BILLIONTH TIME) to pick up after themselves.

To date, nothing has worked.

But recently, thanks to good ol’ Pinterest, I saw something that I think might actually work. It goes something like this.

If you see stuff laying around different places in the house that doesn’t belong there (Lego parts, baby dolls, tooth fairy money) you collect it, put it in a large bin or trash bag and hide it in a safe place. Except for tooth fairy money. That goes in your wallet. But I assume that was a given.

Anyway, Mr. Grouch goes looking all around for his favorite toy that he left carelessly on the floor in the kitchen and when he comes to you and asks if you know where it is you’re all, “as a matter of fact I do. And if you’ll look on the fridge at the handy dandy posted sign, you’ll understand what happened to it.”

And then he’s all, “But I can’t read.”

And then you’re like, “Heaven help me, must I READ FOR YOU TOO?”

Except you don’t say that last part out loud. That would make you a bad parent. Instead, you take Mr. Grouch by the hand and show him how his beloved toy is being held for ransom. And that to get it back he has to do a chore.

It’s a brilliant plan.

And so I will put this brilliant plan into action tomorrow. I wrote the cute little poem on an envelope, drew stars around it and taped it on the refrigerator door. And as I stand back admiring my handiwork, I noticed something.

My frowny-face man looks a lot like Adolph Hitler. And while I’m trying to send a message of order and discipline, it is not my intention to promote antisemitism. I hope my kids know this about me.

The best part of this new system for keeping order around the house is getting to make up chores for the kids to do.

I thought about the obvious ones like sweeping the kitchen, picking up the toys in the living room, wiping all the handprints off the windows . . .but it's kind of difficult to come up with things that they won't want to do.  Stinker and Grouch actually enjoy doing some of the cleaning up with me. No, those may not work. I had to really think of stuff that they would not only hate doing, but that would totally benefit me.

Here are some that made it to the yes pile. 
 *Brush Mom’s hair for 30 minutes. And sing her a Demi Lovato song.

*Run a bath for Mom. Use the good bubble bath. You know, the one she hides in her bottom drawer so you won’t use it.

*Mix Mom a cocktail. Don’t forget the mini umbrella. Or fresh limes.

*Knock on the neighbor’s door and ask him to stop parking in front of our house. Mom’s too chicken. He's a retired fireman. Go on, do it. You want your toy back, right?

*Gather all the documents needed so Mom can file her tax return. You don’t know what a tax return is? You’re probably going to prison for tax evasion. Good luck with that.

You know what? After reading over these chores again I think I might be losing sight of the idea behind the lesson. I should probably take a parenting class.... And file my taxes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Just Because. . .

Have you ever reached a point throughout the day when you were tired of hearing yourself talk?!

I'm so there.

My kids are reaching the point where they want to know the "How's, Why's, Where's, and Who's" of everything.  They need a Reason for almost every idea under the sun. "Why do I have to pick up my toys?. . .What are we going to do after this?. . . .How does (insert any random item) work?. . .Why do I have to do it that way?. . .What would happen if we didn't wear our seat belt/we jumped off a bridge/we swallowed our own tongue/our eyeballs fell out/we got lost in the woods/our house burned down/we ran out of gas/we fell off the world?. . ."  I'm exhausted. And tired of hearing myself explain things. I have naturally curious children who are intent on finding out how the whole entire world works and I should be thankful that they are so inquisitive and harbor such a love for learning.  But I'm tired.  I am not God.  I do not have all the answers.  I have reached the end of my rope and am starting to default to the "Because I said so" and "That's just the way it is" answers. They aren't buying those.

Right along with the constant questions about the meanings of life and other ponderings that they consistently come up with, I'm also battling for ultimate trust and control.  These little monsters will argue with me til the cows come home about every single request or demand that I feed them throughout the day.  They are relentless.  I roll my eyes in frustration constantly at their unending supply of manipulation tactics.  I'm running out of my own.  They feel as though everything is a negotiation and I find myself wondering if in my attempt to reason with them, I have lost control somehow. Is anyone else smelling what I'm stepping in here?  Do your rugrats do this, or am I just raising the next Johnnie Cochran?  I feel sometimes as though I've lost the balance between allowing them to understand and exerting control over their welfare. In short, Because I said so, is not cutting it for them anymore!  And I feel as though that's just too dang bad.  I'm done. And what Mommy says is a Done Deal! Got it, munchkin?!  And so I raise my voice, use my firm vocabulary, and try to lay down the law and what I'm met with is EXTREME opposition.  They don't like me anymore, to say the least. Lovely.

I know this is just a phase that we all reach in parenthood. When it's not about teaching them how and why the world works the way it does anymore, and becomes more about Just trust me because I'm the mom and I know what the heck I'm doing here. I'm turning the reasoning and negotiations off. I'm tired of my own voice. The way it is, is the way it is, in Jesus Name, Amen. End of story. Like it or love it, makes me no difference. But you will clean your room or suffer the wrath of a very exhausted mama bear!

Sometimes parenthood is fun.  It's a constant learning process for both the child and the parent.  It's exciting to be the one that they run to and can find all of life's answers.  We can get caught up in being the Source for all of their questions about life and love and the future.  But there also comes a time when they have to trust that the simplest answer needs to be the only answer that they need.  Because I said so, needs to be the end-all sometimes. There must be a level of respect for the authority and security that we possess in their lives.  If you have little monsters like mine, they will fight tooth and nail for reasons beyond the Because I said so, but on those days, when you just can't handle even one more inquiry, one more pondering of their cute, little, persistent heart, join me in reclaiming control.  Take back the promise that you made to yourself all those years ago when you swore you wouldn't say all the things that your parents said to you. Trust that they knew what they were doing, what they were talking about. Trust that just like us, they reached their boiling point and had every right, just like we do, to utter those horrid words. . . .

Just Because. . .

The end.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I'd Rather Pee My Pants

You know when you’re watching your favorite TV show and they go to commercial and it’s about some drug for whatever (depression, erectile dysfunction, overactive bladder) and the list of “possible side effects” takes longer to recite than the actual commercial? And not only that, the “possible side effects” sound WAY scarier than having a condition where you pee your pants uncontrollably. I don’t know about you but I’d much rather wear an adult diaper than potentially grow pubic hair on my face because I’m taking some pill to keep me from wetting myself. But that’s just me.

So BECAUSE I’m me, I’ve come up with my own list of “possible side effects” for overactive bladder.

1. May cause you to poop corn, even if you don’t eat corn, like corn, or have corn in your house.

2. May cause you to answer “I like to do the Cha-Cha” when anyone asks you a question.

3. May cause you to bite your shoulder upon hearing a car horn.

4. May inhibit your ability to turn right causing you to only be able to turn left.

5. May cause you to fart at really inappropriate times and then shout, “YEAH BABY, THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.”

6. May cause you to run through the house screaming, “Someone has taken my hand! My hand is missing!” Only to find it exactly where you left it–attached to your arm.

7. May cause you to forget about personal space so you mouth kiss everyone you come in contact with thus alienating your friends and family. And people at the grocery store. And the principal at your kids’ school.

8. May cause you to wet your pants anyway.

Wait. I just reread this and it sounds more like things I do when I’ve added Malibu to my cool-aide than the side effects to some overactive bladder medication. Don’t judge me.

Does anyone else think “overactive bladder” is funny? It’s like your bladder is a hyper 7 year old boy who’s forgotten to take his ADD medication and his mom is on the phone with the nurse saying, “But Billy is just so active.”

Yes, I named my bladder Billy. You’re really surprised? I mean after all I am the same girl who gave everyone in my family a "-Pants" name.

Just add, “May cause you to name your organs” to the list of side effects. Whatev.

Also, add the word *organ* to the list of words I hate.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Ode to Single Parenthood


Being a single mom sucks.

Really that sentence pretty much sums up my whole last week. But for entertainment purposes, I will elaborate.

In the summer, the hubs is gone a lot. He works for a video/production firm and is traveling here, there, and everywhere on video shoots and getting to experience so many different places in the U.S.  I can say openly that I am jealous, as traveling is a passion of both of ours. I'm so happy that he gets to do what he loves.  But I am left to do my job at home, with the little monsters.

It's been during the last 3 weeks, of which he has been traveling TWO of those, that I have gotten a small taste of what so many of your lives as single parents is truly like. Granted, my other half has returned, so my situation was temporary.  But let me just say. . .I feel ya!  It's ROUGH!

I have NO IDEA how you all do it.  The woes of normal parenthood seemed to be magnified.  All the moments that I thought were already persistent pains in the arse were escalated to raging 2X4's the the skull.

We all know how much I've already felt like changing my name and moving to a foreign country lately. . . .but without the option of "daddy" in the house, the amount of times my name escaped my monsters lips was ear-splitting. I almost could not take a much needed private poo without someone moaning "Mooooommy...." from under the bathroom door. I've learned to do what was once always private, in full-view of an avid audience.  I'm a performer, I tell ya.  One of my many talents.

One thing that I realized in my time as a (temporary) single mom was that sacrifice is no longer a daily choice but now a 24/7 mandatory function. I take for granted that I can have moments of "alone time" to soak in the tub or go for a nightly run. I look forward to the times when I can tag-team my other half and have a non-interrupted conversation with a girlfriend on the phone.  The last few weeks, those moments of regaining my emotional sanity have been WAY too few and far between. Without someone else to take the reigns now and again and let me collect myself, I've found I have a lot shorter fuse than I originally thought. I rarely answered the phone when it rang. . .I'd be ridiculous to think that I'd actually get to hold a full conversation with someone. My showers consisted of spraying down ever-so-quickly and poking my head out of the shower every 2 seconds to make sure that no one was screaming their foul head off.  Forget shaving!  That has become a luxury that I'm only able to afford in the baby wading pool in the backyard as the kiddos are splashing around.  Yes. . .this is the only time that I could find the time to tame the forest that was growing on my legs. It was out of control ya'll.

Another thing I realized during this time was how much of parenthood is emotional and not as much behavioral.  Let me explain. Anyone can go through the motions.  Anyone can cook and bathe and launder and provide for a kids physical needs. Making sure that all of their emotional and spiritual needs are met is another beast entirely.  I came to the conclusion that without help (and time to regroup, myself), I had very little to give.  I recognize that being a single parent means that you have to take better care of yourself so that you are able to have something left over to offer your children.  It's so much easier when there are two parents who are allowing each other moments of refreshment ever-so-often.  But as I did it all alone, I had to schedule that time in more intensely, so that I didn't end up in a pile on the kitchen floor, crying over spilt juice.  (yes, yes I did).

Another thing that I took for granted is how much balance having two parents brings to a kid's life. Please do not misconstrue my meaning here.  I know many of us are in situations where it was more detrimental to have both parents around and being a single mom or dad turned out to be the ideal situation for a child. I grew up with a mom and dad who divorced in my tween years. I know firsthand how much the emotional scars can stick with a child whose parents could not get along. I also know how hard it was to have a hole in my life, where a father was supposed to be. I think as a mom, it's easy to think sometimes that since we are generally the ones that meet our children's most immediate emotional and physical needs, that being single wouldn't be that different than being married. Since I'm a stay-at-home mom, and the one who does 99% of the cooking, cleaning, bedtimes, and kissing boo-boos, I think I was lost in this reality. Daddy being away won't affect them much. He'll be back before they have time to miss him. Boy, was I wrong!  During bedtimes, after I tucked the little boogers in and threatened them within an inch of their lives if they got up again, I hear whimpering and sniffles from my youngest. I return to find him crying to himself, whispering for his daddy. This is my "mama's boy"! The one who refuses to let daddy lay with him at naptime or rock him to sleep. My little man missed his daddy. It hit home pretty hard. I remember those nights.  Those tears. And I was so thankful in that moment that what we were going through was only temporary. Daddy would return and all would be right again in his little world. But for so many others, that is not the case. And my heart hurts for the fact that sometimes, it's inevitable that there will be a whole left in a little one's life.

Lastly, I just wanted to acknowledge all of you moms and dads who do this daily. I had no idea how difficult it could be.  I have so many friends who's spouses are in the military, and are in the middle of deployment.  I have so many friends whose marriages have unfortunately not worked out.  There are so many of you who wake up every morning and have to be supermom or superdad because you have no other choice.  I seriously commend you for not tying your children to the couch and running off to happy hour everyday.  There you are, working harder than I've ever had to do until these last few weeks. You inspire me. I want to give you a gold medal, a digital hug, and a cocktail the size of Texas.  You are my heroes, and I'm sure, your little one's heroes too.  Don't doubt for one minute that they won't grow up and realize the immense courage it took to do it all by yourself.

As for me, my normalcy is again intact. Luckily, my hubster returned today. I'm sure that the sight of me with bloodshot eyes and Afro, and the kids in meltdown mode was a warm welcome!  I'm so thankful to have a partner through this journey.  Not just someone who can give me a break once in a while, but someone who loves these little monsters just as ridiculously as I do. I won't be taking that for granted again any time soon.

Monday, July 9, 2012

If Motherhood Were A Job, I Would Have Quit Already

Yes, ma'am. I said it.

You know you've all thought it. Maybe just to yourself. Maybe to a best friend. Maybe to the clothes in your closet as you sat in the corner and cried for "who-knows-why" because you just didn't feel as if you could do it anymore.

I feel ya.

I've been having a few weeks like this. Weeks where I know motherhood is a gift and a privilege and I am so blessed to be a part of it. But it certainly did not feel that way. It felt more like I was slowly but surely being pecked to death by the most adorable little bird. But pecked, nonetheless. Where every single hour of my "stay-at-home-mom"-ness was constantly consumed by needs and wants and gripes and whines so severe I felt like I was being swallowed whole. Every time I turned around, someone was demanding something else of me.  "Mommy, let's do puzzles. . .Mommy, I want a new toy. . .Mommy, this food looks GROSS, I want something else. . .Mommy, look at me. . .Mommy, lay down with me. . .Mommy, help me find my IronMan mask. . .Mommy, come wipe my bottom. . .Mommy, Mommy, MOOOMMY!"

Friends. . .I want to change my dang name and move to Thailand.  Like, yesterday.
I've done my research. I can have my very own guesthouse on the beach for $9 a night and because of the language barrier, I doubt anyone ever would call me "Mommy". It would be seven degrees of heaven, I assure you.

But let's be realistic here. I can't just quit this job like I've quit so many.  Even though sometimes I simply want to run down the street in my pajamas and hitch a ride with the first loser who feels the pity to stop at my thumb in the air. It doesn't matter that some days I feel trapped and that I'll never escape the continual tugging on my legs for more attention and more and more of them and less of me.  How much of me do I have to give up?!

Before you all call the loony bin and commit me for severe mommy-depression, just know that I am fully aware of my diagnosis.  I'm aware that as a mom, we all go through emotional stages and these last few weeks, I've been going through one of my valleys.  But I am also a whole lot more "spiritually sound" because of it, and I know how to keep-on-keeping-on.  I know this is not a carhop job at Sonic. I know that I cannot get fed up with my little attention mongers in the same way that I got fed up with coming home everyday smelling like corn dogs and slush and give my two-weeks notice. I know that this is not like that job at the grocery store where I felt overwhelmed with managing 12 cashiers who just could not clean up after themselves, therefore, leaving mess after mess for me. Somewhat familiar to the messes I clean up today, ironically, but yet, I can't walk out in frustration, leaving my name badge on the counter like I did there. And I also realize this is not like so many of my years in the apartment leasing industry.  When trying to find the perfect home for high-maintenance, gripey residents so much resembled trying to find a pair of shoes for my toddlers that didn't look/feel right to them because of their current mood. I can't just say, "Screw it! Go find another apartment. I'm through trying to please you!"  I couldn't then, and I certainly can't now. Cause shoes, you know, are quite required and mandatory most days. Even more mandatory than my sanity, it seems.

So I decided after a lot of screaming and yelling that "Mommy needed a quiet time!" and begging my husband for 30 minutes to run off some steam every other evening that something had to give. So I reverted back to all those times when I felt trapped in a job I hated and desperately  needed an out, and decided to do what I did then.

No, I did not quit and move to Thailand.

I decided to start making prayer more of a priority. I decided to play a quick game of "Hide-and-Seek" with the little monsters and retreat to a quiet spot in the back of my closet (thus buying me at least 10 minutes of solitude) and plead with God to make it all go away. Though I might have meant "the madness of being a mom" to go away, what actually went was my feelings of entrapment. Don't get me wrong, they still creep up on a daily basis, but those are the moments that I go back to my "mom cave" and ask God to help me not want to quit my job today. It may sound a bit ridiculous.  It may sound cheesy to some.  But the strength I receive from just knowing that He knows what I'm going through and that I'm unhappy in that moment, brings me more comfort than I can tell you.  I know He is giving me the patience and strength that I need to deal with these valleys of mommy-depression that I suffer from.  I know that the days of parenthood bliss will return and I will once again feel like frolicking in cornfields holding my children's hands.  But today is not that day. Today it's still hard.  But I know He is holding me together. And sometimes, I even sense He is holding His hand over my obnoxious kid's mouths!

So I'll leave you all with this. If motherhood were a job, I would have quit already. But it is once again being brought to my attention that motherhood is not a job. It's a ministry.  It's a mission.  It's a calling. Those are all things that you can't quit. They are as much a part of you as your heart and soul. So. . .if I do move to Thailand, I have to bring two little monsters there with me. . . .now, that may not be a bad idea. . .