Category Archives: parenting

Happy Mother’s Day

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I’d like to think I’m everything in that saying. Wise, full of strength and dignity, brave and kind. And I am, sometimes. But I’m also full of BS,wearing in yesterday’s clothes, terrified about the future and sometimes not-so-kind to the Hubs, the kids or myself.

And that, right there, is the joy of Motherhood. My kids are the love of my lives and the biggest pains in my butt. They are my every joy and happiness as well as the cause of a lot of my fear and tears. There are days I look around waiting for the real grownup to step in, because clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing.

Motherhood is messy and heartbreaking- but it’s also my biggest joy, triumph and privilege. And I’m beyond thankful to be surrounded by women who feel the same way about their families regardless of if their babies are itty-bitty or if their babies are raising their own kids.

To my Mother, my Mother-in-Law, my sisters and my friends- I’m in awe of each of you and your strength, your determination, you kindness and your grace. I’m also appreciative as heck when you you’re none of those things and keeping it real, raw and honest because I need to see that too.

To my friends and family longing for a family of your own- I feel your pain and hope your dreams are realized, one way or another, soon.

 

 

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Quiet, Part 2

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This week the kids have off from school. The game plan was for them to hang out with me all week which is fine- if not particularly exciting for any of us. So when my mother-in-law, who lives some hours away, offered to take the kids for a few days we all jumped at it. The Hubs and I get to work guilt free and the kids get to do something other than play video games and watch movies while I shush them during the hours I’m trying to be a professional.

We handed the kids off yesterday and I miss them like mad. I constantly feel like I’m forgetting something- this is both the longest they’ve been away from me and the furthest they’ve been without the Hubs and I. My poor mother-in-law has fielded more texts from me in the past 36 hours then she has all year.

But I’m also giddy. Do you know what I did today? I worked and was 1) early to work and 2) didn’t have rush right out to pick up my kids. No one fought in my car today and I didn’t have to threaten to pull over at all. I went to work out AFTER work (which was odd) instead of at 5:30 am. I came home and made a dinner I wanted. I didn’t have to fight with anyone over electronics at the table (the answer is always no- why do they keep asking?!) or what was on the menu. And now at 7:30 pm, I’m freshly showered, in my PJs, getting ready to watch The Walking Dead from last night on TV because there are no children around to be scarred for life about what’s on. I won’t remind my kids 10 times (with increasing volume) to brush their teeth or stay in bed. When I go to bed tonight I don’t have to worry about anyone waking me up due to nightmares or puke.

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Yes, I miss my kids like a limb and I cannot wait for them to get home. I miss tucking them in at night and hearing about their days. I miss the hugs and the kisses and incessant chatter. But that’s not going to stop me from loving the short-term silence.

 

Crazy 9’s

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So, you guys- none of you told me that 9 year olds are nuts. Because they are. I never associated 9 with being a tween- I still pictured 9 year olds as little kids, but nope, the hormones are a raging and the mood swings (slight as they may be) are starting.

And not one of you warned me.

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Our morning routines have been the same since the kids were itty bitty: eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, brush hair, pack up backpack and put on shoes. That literally hasn’t changed in 6 years and yet, some morning we (read: the kids) struggle with following that pretty basic task list.

Last Thursday was a rushed morning. The kids have 50-odd minutes to get ready in the morning and breakfast took up 30 minutes because they were messing around. I scooted them off to get dressed and told them very clearly that they had 2 minutes to do so (their clothes were already laid out- God bless uniforms). 2 minutes go by and Bean is dressed, but Scorch is making some sort of tunnel system under my blankets so I told him that he lost electronics for the day and that he had 1 minute to get dressed. He got dressed in 37 seconds and proudly proclaimed that he earned back electronics. When I told him that it doesn’t work that way, he sobbed. And raged. And sobbed some more. I yelled, he yelled, the Hubs yelled and the Bean acted like a perfect angel just to tick her brother off even more.

The sobbing continued on the ride to school with deep, gulping breaths telling me how hard the mornings were because all I did was yell and he was so overwhelmed because I gave him 3 things to do at the same time and he was only human. When I very calmly suggested perhaps he had a part to play in this by not doing what he was asked the first 4 times, Scorch protested loudly that he always does what he’s told and that I still yell all the time.

After 10 minutes of this, I started to doubt myself. Maybe I do yell too much. Maybe I should be more understanding. Perhaps I do give him too much to do at once- I mean, he’s 9 so maybe telling him that he has to get his shoes on, pack up his backpack and find his coat *is* too much. Maybe I don’t give the kids enough time in the morning and I set us all up for failure. Maybe *I* am the problem.

I apologized to Scorch and we brainstormed a new way to run our mornings to see if things can go smoother. By the time we got to school, the sobs turned into little hiccups and he calmed down. When I parked, I told the kids to get their stuff and hop out so we could head in. Scorch asked for a tissue to dry his eyes while the Bean went inside. I asked (calmly, I may add!) Scorch to get a move on because we were late so he leaned forward to throw his tissue away in the little garbage can I keep between the center console and the dashboard.

After he threw his tissue away, I told him to hop out, but be kept leaning forward further. And then further more. Next thing I know, he’s literally trying to wedge his head between the windshield and the dash. When I asked him what in the world he was doing because it was time to go to school (for those keeping tracking at home, that was the 3rd time he was told that), he told me he was trying to see if he could get his head stuck.

He. Was. Trying. To. See. If. He. Could. Get. His Head. Stuck.

That was when I realized that nope, it wasn’t me, it was that 9 year old boys are crazy, emotional, inattentive, pains in the neck.

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Someone told me that the honeymoon is over and this is the start of the crazy train for at least the next 4 years. Hold me.

 

Thankful Heart: Days 4 & 5

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You guys, this week has been amazing. 70 degrees and sunny almost everyday. That is crazy weather for up here this time of year. Snow is much more likely than this Indian Summer weather, so I’m ridiculously thankful for this heatwave. But I’m also thankful for other things..

Day 4: Work Life

It’s been a little over 2 years now since I was laid off from my job of 13 years. That was one of the most tenuous, scariest times time as we tried to figure out how we were going to live without my salary. But we did it. I was blessed with a few great part time gigs (which I still miss!) to tide me over until I found this job at the University. About half my coworkers at the University work remotely, but this week my whole team was in the office and it was wonderful. It’s a special kind of joy to work with people you like and respect; people you would have picked to be friends with even outside of the office.  This week was full of lots of meetings and more work to add to the to-do pile, but it was also full of lunches outside in this gorgeous weather and lots of laughs.

I really wouldn’t recommend getting laid off to anyone, but losing my job has instilled in me the confidence that somehow things will work out. Maybe not on your timeline and maybe not in the way you think it will, but it’ll happen. Trust me.

PinkSkiesDay 5: Deodorant

Scorch is 9. Bless his sweet heart, he’s not anywhere near starting puberty. But some of his friends are, which means some of them are wearing deodorant.  This is the year that the kids in Scorch’s school start changing for PE, so he’s seen just how many boys are putting it on and he wants to be one of those kids so badly. So, so badly. To him deodorant means growing up and getting closer to becoming a teenager and that is what he wants. Never mind that my sweet boy still sleeps with the same lovies that he has since he was 1 or that his bed is littered with stuffed animals. Never mind that he’ll still hold my hand in public and doesn’t like going to bed without being tucked in. Never mind that at heart, he’s still a little boy – there is still a part of him that is starting to pull away from his childhood. And it’s kind of breaking my heart.

This morning, unbeknownst to us, he stole the Hubs deodorant and put some on while I was making lunches. He slid up to me in the kitchen, eyes aglow, with a huge grin cracking open his face, vibrating with excitement and glee.

Mom, I put on deodorant. Can you tell? Can you smell it? Smell me, Mom- smell me.

Today I’m thankful that I get to witness these very small milestones- the stuff they don’t tell you about in the baby books- that bring my kids so much freaking joy that they can’t stand still. I’m in no hurry for my kids to grow up, but it’s hard not to laugh right along side them when they do.

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You’re The Worst

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The other day, I shared a link on Facebook to an article called “The Curse of the Second-Born Child.” It uses a heck of lot more curse words than I would have, but it essentially says that your second-born child is an absolutely amazing, crazily loved asshole sent to earth to break you.

Truth.

The love I have for the Bean is boundless. This child is a bright spot in my life- she’s funny and smart and clever and quick and gorgeous. She’s also been working my very last nerve for a good month now. If something can be a battle, it is. I realize I have a hand in all this too and that I need to disengage but man, it’s so easy to get sucked into to battle of wills with her.

Monday the Bean’s homework was to write out the contractions for “it is,” “you are,” “I am,” we are” and “he will” and use them in a sentence. Her schools gives out homework passes for various reasons and she has a bunch she can use so she chose to use hers on this particular assignment so she could play all evening instead. That was fine until she came home yesterday with classroom work involving contractions that she bombed. She didn’t have any homework last night, so I told her that we were going to do Monday’s homework as review to make sure she understood the concept.

She was furious at me for this injustice. There was wailing, gnashing of teeth, yelling and tears. There were dropped pencils that she “couldn’t” find and pencil tips that were broken on “accident.” In total she probably spent under 5 minutes writing the sentences and 40 minutes fighting with me about having to do this. Any time I tried to help Beaner, I was snapped at but any time she asked for help and I didn’t jump immediately she reigned hell fire down.

Fun times, man.

I kept my cool. I didn’t engage, didn’t yell and told her firmly what behavior was and wasn’t acceptable until the 5 freaking sentences were written. Beaner would let me see what she was writing, but I knew it was going to be good and she did not disappoint:

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I’m thinking that my mom is mean. It’s so mean that she making me do amaroke (I assume that’s “homework” and she was just too full of righteous fury to sound it out). We’re not going to the playground. He’ll got to the store. You’re the worst.

You guys, I may frame that sucker.

Happy Mother’s Day

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9 years ago on Mother’s Day Scorch was born. He was the first kid born in our county on Mother’s Day so we were on the news. To say that I looked nothing like Kate Middleton hours after giving birth is like saying Mt. Everest is a big hill. My nose was swollen, my face was puffy and I was squishy all over. I was proudly wearing clean PJs for the first time in 24 hours along with the blessed mesh underwear stuffed with ice packs that they give you in the hospital. I have never felt more beautiful.

Fast forward, today my day was filled with two crazy kids, an amazing morning at church, seeing friends and having an fantastic evening at home with my kids, husband, parents, brother, grandmother and aunt. It was full of cleaning and cooking and washing and socializing and laughing and love. I have never felt more content.

The space between these Mother’s Days, 9 years apart, have been filled with a lifetime of memories and moments. Joy and tears. Laughter and yelling. Some days I look at these gorgeous creatures the Hubs and I made and their sheer perfection takes my breath away. Other times I look at them and I legitimately count down the days until they leave for college. Sometimes I do both on the same day.

You will never, ever hear me complain about being a mom. You will hear me complain about my kid’s actions and attitudes along with our crazy life full of rushing from here to there, laundry and cooking. But being a mom is *the* best job in the world and raising Scorch and Bean is a privilege that I know I’m damned lucky to have.

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To my own Mom- thank you for showing me every day how to parent with compassion, grace and humor. Thanks for reassuring me that I’ve got this when I call you to cry because I think I’m screwing everything up. Thanks for telling me how it is in the nicest way possible and for loving my kids so unconditionally. I love you more then you’ll know.

To my Mother-in-Law- thank you for raising the Hubs to be a good father. He may never, ever cook and he may hate talking on the phone, but he’s a damn good father and that is all thanks to his upbringing! My kids are lucky to call you Mimi.

To my sister, aunts, and cousins – I feel like I was raised surrounded by strong women who weren’t afraid to love me like my own parents. Thanks for continuing to build this amazing family for my kids. We may not live as close to each other as we did growing up, but your influence is always felt. It’s been a joy watching my sister and cousins turn into moms I’m so proud to know!

And to my friends – thank you for being my sounding board and for telling me I’m not crazy. Thank you for loving my kids like your own and being willing to pitch in when ever needed. Thank you for the girls nights, the real talk and hours of laughter. Thank you for raising kids I’m so happy my kids are friends with.

Happy Mother’s Day, all!

 

 

 

Really, Mom? Can You Not?

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It may come a surprise to no one, but I like myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin 95% of the time and don’t really care a lot about what people think. Scratch that. I do care- but sometimes I get so lost inside my own head or in the moment that I forget to care. That results in me dancing on the sidewalk as I’m walking the kids into school. Or singing under my breath to the songs in the grocery store (not loudly, not obnoxiously- you’d have been right next to me to even notice). Or holding impromptu dance parties in the car or the kitchen. I’m both a horrible dancer and singer, but sometimes the feeling over takes me and my feet are moving. I also like to greet everyone I know with a smile and a hello, using their name which is awesome 99% of the time unless I call someone by the wrong name. Which I’ve done. Multiple times.

Scorch is my son through and through. He doesn’t care and will more often than not join me dancing and talking to random people everywhere we go.

The Bean, however, is her father’s child. More private, more subdued and more prone to being completely embarrassed by me (or the Hubs or Scorch- we’ve all sinned against her). The Hubs and I are lucky enough to take both kids to school together most mornings. The kids start their day in an L-shaped hallway, with the door to their morning assembly being off the longer part of the “L”.  Guess where she makes us say goodbye to her now? Yup- the short part of the “L”. Kisses must be short and quick and no long hugs are allowed because someone may see us. That stings more then I thought it would.

You guys, do you know how hard it is for me not to walk down the halls of Bean’s school singing and dancing to “Shake It Off?” now? So. Hard. If it was me and Scorch, I would and we’d both laugh until our sides hurt and go on with our day. But not the Bean, she’d want to melt into a puddle and be so mad at me so I resist the urge to boogie.

I try to be respectful and kind and considerate. I’m trying to find that middle road where I can still be me while still taking the Bean’s feelings into consideration. There will be times I will unintentionally embarrass my kids and there will be times I very much intentionally embarrass them. Right now I’ll save my dances for the car or our house and mind my manners in public in the hopes my daughter still lets me hold her hand and hug her when I want to.

Snippets

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The Bean is playing flag football. She said she wanted to play, so we signed her up and then she lost her mind over the fact that we dared to do what she had asked us to do. Needless to say, getting her to her first practice involved a combination of lying (“Coach won’t have a full team if you’re not there- you don’t want to let the other kids down, do you?”) and bribery (hello dinner at Friendly’s!). But we got her there and she loves it. Can’t-wait-to-go, why-can’t-we-play-every-day loves it.

She’s the only girl on the team full of sweet, funny, nice 5 and 6 year old boys. Last week during the game, one of those sweet boy went up to the Hubs and asked completely out of the blue, “Coach, can I date your daughter?”

The look on the Hubs face was priceless. “No, you can’t. Pay attention to the game.” Then, as an after thought,  “Plus, you’re too young.”

That sweet little boy walked away, then came back 2 minutes later and very seriously asked the Hubs if he could date the Bean in 10 years when they are both 16.

I melted and the Hubs had an internal panic attack.

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The other day I was with the kids and we stopped by a Catholic school. The kids read the name of the school, written on the building in old fashioned script and promptly informed me that it was a Pinocchio school.

It took a lot of persuading to convince them that, no it wasn’t a Pinocchio school- it was a parochial school. Still not sure they believe me.

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We have an Elf on the Shelf, Buddy. Buddy’s been with our family since Scorch was 3 and his return every year after Thanksgiving is a Big Deal in our house. Thankfully Buddy is a lazy elf, so he doesn’t get into trouble or make messes- he just moves from spot to spot every night, finding a new vantage point from which to spy on the kids and narc to Santa.

Except for last night. Last night, Buddy didn’t move. He stayed right where was was because he didn’t want to go to the North Pole to have to tell Santa how rotten the kids were. Instead, he left them a note telling them (nicely) to shape up or face the consequences. I wasn’t sure how my delicate snowflakes were going to take Buddy’s letter this morning- but damned if we didn’t have the most peaceful morning in recent history today.

I’m hoping that elf is feeling verbose and isn’t afraid to drop a stray threat or two as needed the rest of the month!

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This morning on the way to the work, I passed a field of cows and sheep. So, as I’m wont to do, I pulled over, hopped out of my car and took some pictures with my phone (all the while cursing the fact that I didn’t bring my good camera today).  As I got closer to fence separating me from them, all the sheep turned tail and ran away. Then they all stopped at pretty much the exact same time and all turned to look at me. The absurdity of the group-think going on cracked me up, so I laughed the whole walk back to my car.

Babes- lots of them.

Is it any wonder that I got texts from 3 different people asking if I was OK by the time I got back to the car? Gotta love small towns where everyone driving by knows you and wonders at your sanity.

Root Bear Baby

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The Bean was taking her bath tonight and when I went into check on her, I found this:

BeanerBath When I asked her what she was doing, she told me she was a teacher, teaching her class and her husband (that good looking fellow with the blonde hair and the khaki shirt next to the orange blob) math. Thanks to the crappy quality of the picture, you can’t tell that she has written 5+?=9 on the wall.

“What?!” I said. “You’re too young to get married!”

“I am not, I’m a root beer baby so I’m older then I look!”

This took me a second to puzzle what she was saying out.

“Do you mean you’re a Leap Year Baby?”

“Yup, that’s what I said!”

“No, that wasn’t what you said and even if you did get it right, being a Leap Year baby technically makes you younger, not older.”

“Oh, then let’s just not mention this again,” she replies.

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My kids make me crazy sometimes. They make me question my sanity and my intelligence and they have been known to push me thisclose to the edge. .But they are two of the funniest monster I know and I wouldn’t trade the privilege of watching them grow for all the money in the world.

This Is Why I Love the Internet

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Earlier today, one of my friends on Facebook shared an article entitled The Default Parent. I made the mistake of reading it at work and I almost hurt myself trying to stifle my laughter because that? THAT is my life.  And honestly, I thought I was the only one.

I’ve always been the default parent. The Hubs is an amazing, wonderful father- but he didn’t have the boobs, so I was the go-to person when our newborns cried. Up until Scorch was 5 and the Bean was 3, the Hubs had a high-stress job with erratic hours and a ton of travel. On top of that, we owned a business 45 minutes away that took up a fat ton of the Hubs times so I was the one around the vast majority of the time. It wasn’t because the Hubs didn’t want to be there, that was just how life was.

My kids have literally walked right past the Hubs sitting in the kitchen and banged on the closed, locked bathroom door to ask me to get them a drink. Are you kidding me?!

As funny as the article is, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Is this nature? Is Mom always the default? Is it because I was around more when they were little? Is it because I have SUCKER written on my forehead?

Regardless, I don’t mind being the default parent 95% of the time. I like being my kids go-to person and I like knowing all the crazy silly details of their lives – it makes the control freak in me happy. As the kids get older, this default role seems to be evening out a bit – the kids know a lot of their own info and Hubs is around a ton more which is wonderful! It gives me hope that the next time I go away for a 5 day business trip, I won’t have to leave a 3 page detailed note about schedules, menu and carpooling.