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mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

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Comic Relief

Because laughter is the best medicine. Even better than wine.

Introducing Blue Ivy and Locating the Whereabouts of my Brain

Did you think I croaked? Well, almost.

I turned 40.

I have a lot of catch-up to do  on the blog since I last wrote, but in the mean time I just have to get a quick share out to y’all. I just read a quote that so preceisely sums up my thought about life and Motherhood that I couldn’t stand to wait to share.

(But first – and in my typical hyperactive-brain style, a tiny bit of background info is needed.)

Not too long ago (May 7th, to be exact) I posted a link to another blog on my Facebook page. I never posted it here, but, wow did it resound well with my FB friends.. even becoming a neighborhood anthem of sorts with the women around here. Some of you already know where I”m going with this, but for those of you are not reading my mind yet, you must go here and read, laugh, breathe and then come back to this post.

My Mom is here visiting from my native Mississippi for my big 40th birthday (also known as the rise of my character and decline of my body, but more on that in later posts). After posting/sharing the “Beyoncé the big metal chicken” blog post back in May, my Mom has sent me many photos and references to the chicken (which is oddly, really a rooster.)  I’m still waiting for the time frame where this blog doesn’t make me laugh so hard that my 40 year old bladder isn’t challenged to maintain its muscle control.  I don’t even really know why exactly I find the post so off-the-charts funny. It isn’t because those types of exchanges are happening in  my house.  The truth is that my WAPI is pretty great and rarely – if ever – has a problem choosing the appropriate battles to pick with me.  And he’s not so crazy as to ever use the word “forbid”  with me in anything other than jest. So, though I can’t much relate to the exact towel-forbidding issue that prompted the purchase of the big metal chicken, I do find the fact that men don’t understand the great importance of something like the need for new (from Macy’s obviously) towels greatly odd and equally as frustrating.

Anyway, Mom’s birthday visit has been wonderful for a litany of reasons, but probably my favorite highlight was this (on my birthday):  – at 7 am, there was a pounding at my door. I opened it and there, on my doorstep….

….is Beyoncé the big (little) metal chicken.  Bearing a yellow “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” sticky note. A gift from my mom.

KNOCK KNOCK!

Starting the morning laughter.. it sure makes getting older a lot easier to swallow.

Mom has referred to the gifted chicken as “Baby Beyoncé” while telling me the stories of BB’s many adventures through airports and suitcases to get to me here in Florida, so I’m now calling her Blue Ivy.*  I think my friend Blue Ivy may just randomly show up on my friends’ doorsteps with a note attached that “this chicken will cut you if not returned to..”  Then all the husbands in the neighborhood will ask about the chicken, hear the story and all hate me for sharing it with their wives. And we will all just laugh.

And yes, of course, I had Blue Ivy standing on a bar-towel in my WAPI’s home office (on top of his bar, you know, because every office should include a bar – with towels) when he got home from work that day. To which he responded, “I forbid you to put metal chickens in my office.”  🙂 See, he gets that I think it’s funny too, even though he doesn’t know why. And while he isn’t as entertained by her presence, Blue Ivy has had my Mom and I rolling laughing since she made her entrance into my 40-year-old life.

———————————————————–

Now, to my point for sharing all the chicken history.

My Mom and I have a few differences in personality that become evident sometimes. Such as the fact that I read this one blog post about the big metal chicken and immediately rolled with it, never even so much as looking at the rest of the blog. My Mom, however, not only read the rest of the blog, but also researched the author. (Logical progression.) It turns out that the author of the blog has penned a memoir called “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. Mom shared it with me on her tablet. But just as I did with the blog, I haven’t gotten past the intro, because I loved it so much I had to share it right away. At this rate it will take me until I’m 80 to finish this book…

“This book is a love letter to my family. It’s about the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments – the ones we want to pretend never happened – are the very same moments that make us who we are today. I’ve reserved the very best stories of my life for this  book… to celebrate the strange, and to give thanks for the bizarre. Because you are defined not by life’s imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. And because there is joy in embracing – rather than running screaming from – the utter absurdity of  life. I thank  my family for teaching me that lesson. In spades.”

Now my friends, have I not been saying these very things all along?  I just knew I was missing part of my brain; I am apparently sharing it with Jenny Lawson.

* You may want to google the real Beyoncé. Strangely enough it was brought to my attention that Beyoncé (the real one, not the big metal chicken) and I, coincidentally share the same birthday.

Gravity Sucks.

I can’t stop creating someecards.  I need an create-ntervention.

 

Serious Writing Slump

Since I am in what appears to be an extended writing slump (somehow I don’t feel as creative and inspired when the kids are with me 24/7), I am resorting to creating someecards and posting them so you don’t all leave me forever.

 

 

Ice Cream Scoops and Buckets of Frozen Margarita (The Liquid Store Chronicles – Part 1)

 

Motherhood can make you do some crazy stuff.

We all have that list of things we have done as a mom that we NEVER would have imagined ourselves doing pre-motherhood.

We’ve all been vomited on, seen things come out of our children that are either all too recognizable or completely, unimaginably, unrecognizable.  Our once pretty/clean cars now look like a crime scene. We have watched our bodies pay the price: sagging and bulging and stretching and wrinkling.. and on and on. And while those things can drive a person pretty crazy, those aren’t quite what I’m talking about in this post.

I’m talking about those times when you’re on completely exhausted, sleep-deprived, auto pilot and before you know it, you have  done ( or said) something that never would have happened before entering your motherhood.

We’re talking about the things that would have mortified us in our previous lives.

But alas, here we are in the motherhood with a resume that is full of embarrassing, disgusting, and down right terrifying job requirements. Still worse are those instances – oh goodness, all the instances – where level-headed, well-educated, socially adjusted, rationale was simply lost to the motherhood… in retrospect I wonder how we (me and my 3 little birds) made it this far.

~And so it is… M.O.M.-fession Time~

My list of horrifying moments includes the fact that I have taken a picture of my child’s, well… fecal matter… that was on the floor outside of the bathroom and emailed it to one of my best mom-friends in a fit of frustration over potty training.  – I plead “potty-training insanity” on this and therefore you cannot judge me for it.

{Insert pause so you can process what you’ve just read.}

I know, it’s gross.  I can’t fathom doing such a thing now, but honestly I was in a toddler-induced haze. You can’t think straight when you’re dealing with potty training, because honestly, whose brain really can deal with the fact that all those years of education are being put to use by trying to get a kid to rid him or herself of their waste in a toilet instead of having them sit in it?! The brain’s only option is to completely shut down and process nothing. It’s a self-defense mechanism, really.

Somewhere during that same time-frame (go ahead and wrap your head around it.. I had a ~ kindergartner, a ~3 year old and a one year old.. oh, and a traveling husband) I realized that things like sending disgusting pictures to friends weren’t the best way to deal with my stress and mommy-frustration.  Nor was the giant bowl of ice cream I was eating each night.  (Again.. given the circumstances, there was no such thing as a “work out” at this point in my motherhood, unless it involved chasing a naked kid who just got out of the tub and wouldn’t let me get them dressed.)  But we all have to have our motherhood survival tools.

Though, I could entertain the idea of cutting back on the ice cream a bit (but would not retire my ice cream scoop, instead re-purposing it), I was still leaning heavily on venting, prayer and a big cup of “Mommy-juice” after the kids went to bed each night.

Yes. Prayer and alcohol.  Jesus turned water into wine.  And He knows what He’s doing. It’s a good combination.  But the prayer comes first. Always.

Add it to the list of MOM-fessions.

Even better ones are coming.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I look back and think of those days (and how much fewer the MOM-fession instances are now that they are older), I am reminded of how many of my mortifying moments stemmed from having to take them all grocery shopping with me.  I was doing all of my shopping – groceries and otherwise – with all three kids (and oh how much less stressful life is now that I am not forced to do so).  You all remember how that routine goes. Something a bit like this:

(The only thing wrong with the illustrations here is that in the right column, my hair would have been in a pony tail, I would be in yoga pants – though not having done a lick of exercise – and my clothes would have spit up and Cheetos stains on them.)  Ugh. Doing the grocery store with kids is the stuff Mommy-nightmares are made of. Especially considering the following facts surrounding my particular situation:

I had a rambunctious and inquisitive 5-year-old boy, an almost-3 year old who was still potty training and did NOT stay still unless she was sleeping, and the piece de la resistance: an almost 1-year-old who was crying screaming if I wasn’t holding her and in complete protest of being weaned.*

I’ve mentioned that the child was blessed with an insane amount of cuteness. which saves her now, but then?  Well, at that age – it drew a lot of attention from strangers everywhere we went. Especially the grocery store. Every stranger that walked by felt the need to lean over into her cute little face and tell her how adorable she was. Little did they know that she was opposed to any one existing on the planet other than me.. which resulted in her rejecting their compliments with a hateful grimace, a good loud “NO!”, and a good solid swing of her hand. Yep. My kid beat up strangers in the grocery store – even before her first birthday. I would just walk around mindlessly saying, “I’m Sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.” over and over like those were the only words I knew. — Except maybe for the interjected “NO! Put that down!” and “Sit down in the cart!” to the other two, in between apologies.***

(Oh, and have I mentioned that my WAPI husband was traveling for work 4 – 5 days a week?)

The important thing to note here is that just next door to our local grocery store that year – was the Liquor Store. {YES!!}

Wine = Mommy’s Little Helper. (Or instead of my now-preferred wine, buckets of margaritas at the time – yes the big buckets that you put in the freezer. – When I decided to cut back on the ice cream, I would use the ice cream scoop in the bucket of frozen margarita, just like had with the Mint Chocolate Chip.)

After reading the last few paragraphs maybe you’ll understand WHY I was crazy enough to feel the need to take three kids in the liquor store.

And I did. All three of them.

The first time I braved the Liquor Store with the kids I felt some apprehension and guilt for doing so… I wondered if people walking by would judge me for dragging my littles in there with me. I wondered if the people who worked there would even let me in with the kids. That would have been much worse than the judgement from others, to be quite frank. My fear didn’t last long, though, because as soon as we got through the door my soon-to-be-friend behind the counter reached down and pulled out the BIGGEST glass jar full of suckers** to give to the kids.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only Mom in the neighborhood who strapped the toddler in a stroller (so as not to let her pull the shelves over), hid in sunglasses and a hat and snuck into the Liquor Store with her brood of children – all the while hoping that the establishment wouldn’t tell me, “You can’t have kids in here.” (Because then I would have been faced with the temptation to leave them outside the door of the Liquor Store while I got what I needed. What? It was a strip mall and the wall/door were entirely made of glass. I could have seen them the whole time. — OK, I’m just exaggerating here. I was WAY too much of a paranoid, over-protective Mom at the time to EVER actually do that.)

And that jar of suckers was all it took for this to become part of my new routine. Grocery store, then Liquor Store.  And sometimes, Liquor Store then Grocery Store. I traded in my 5 minutes in the freezer section by the 1000 cartons of ice cream, for 5 minutes in the Liquor Store.

Here’s the thing: my oldest, The Owl, was around kindergarten-age about this time in my motherhood. And by the end of kindergarten he could read. I mean REALLY read. Almost anything you put in front of him.**** He would have read through the entire Magic Tree House Series by the end of that year and would wait with great anticipation for Mary Pope Osborne to release each new one in the series. We pretty much lived at Barnes and Noble.

I had worked with him for a long time on his letters and phonics, so I’m not sure why I didn’t see the next piece coming. But I didn’t  (I blame that on potty training brain, too).  One particular errand running day (before he started kindergarten) we went to the grocery store, but instead of going into the Liquor Store, we left and began the drive home. It was then that (from the back seat) the 5-year-old Owl yells, “Mommy, wait! Don’t you need to go to the Liquid Store?!”

WAIT-WHAT??!?! How do you know what it’s called?! Did you read that?! And oh crap, are you telling your teacher and friends that your mommy takes you to the grocery store and then the Liquid Store for suckers?!  

I wasn’t sure whether to be mortified that I had conditioned him to this liquor store routine or amazed that he had actually gotten the “qui” put together  from reading the sign out front or laugh at his very literal interpretation of the word he was reading.

So, I defaulted to another one of my motherhood survival tools: venting/sharing… and I called my mom, dad, sister and brother to share with them that their grand-son/nephew was a genius..  and that child protective services may be contacting them soon to take my children and check me into Betty Ford.

Yep..add this to the list of mortifying, I-can’t-believe-I-did-that MOM-fessions:  I’m the mom who taught her kid to read via the Liquor (Liquid) Store sign.

And yes, when my kid asks me what word did he first read, I will have to tell him that – technically – it was Liquor. To this very day, our entire family no longer uses the word “liquor”, but instead, it is always “The Liquid Store.”

Now, don’t worry. This isn’t the end of the Liquid Store stories..  by any stretch of the imagination.  Stay tuned for the next installment. It gets even better. And more mortifying. I may actually need to have a drink and say a prayer before I confess the next edition of the Liquid Store Chronicles…

(To be continued…)

* I’m not sure which thing has produced more nightmares in  my motherhood: Grocery shopping, Potty Training, or Weaning!

** I was just informed by a friend from the Northeast that some of you don’t know what I mean when I say “sucker”.. but that’s the Southern way of saying lollipop.

*** It wasn’t a big town.. it’s a wonder that word didn’t make its way around not to approach the crazy “I’m-sorry Lady” with the light-weight champ, disguised as a cute little toddler. (Can I call her a toddler if she wasn’t officially walking at age one?)

**** Oh how different each kid is.. one reads before kindergarten and another struggles to read in 2nd grade.

My Favorite 4-Letter Word

I mentioned in a earlier post that my Mom-in-love came to visit recently for Spring Break. (I call her this because mother-in-law has such a negative connotation, and she is not your typical mom-in-law.. she’s wonderful, and I thoroughly enjoy her company. She coined the term “in-loves” instead of “in-laws” a while back, and there is no better use for it than to refer to her as Mom-in-love!) Shortly after her departure my youngest little bird (who is 8) was goofing off with her wonderful-and-pretty-incredible Dad when she yelled (with great fervor) at him, “You scared the HELL out of me!” Emphasis on the word “hell”, of course. – He explained to her that terms like that are not appropriate for kids to use.. then we quietly laughed after she went upstairs.  I decided that it was far too convenient not to jokingly blame Grandma for my little Starling’s new addition to her repertoire. BUT if I’m being honest, it is more likely to have come from me.  My only shred of hope that I hadn’t taught my child to speak this way was hanging on the fact that “hell” is not usually my favorite choice of 4-letter words. I try so very hard to reign in such things around the kids (and everyone else), but honestly, when I’m tired there’s one sneaky little word that has a mind of its own. It just comes out without any cognizant decision on my part. It just happens.

And that got me thinking.

Thinking about the beginnings of my blog – one email in particular that I wrote during a really rough motherhood week a few years ago. My “there’s been some damage” girls used to get (and send) emails like this often, but their encouragement and response to this one was what would eventually help me work up the courage to start this blog.

And so, the following post IS that original email.. copied from my sent box and pasted here. With no editing or revisions.  Though that part was hard, because this was written to the kind of friends you can (and do) say anything – and everything – to. This conversation would have been edited had I been sending it to almost anyone else. That’s your warning. It’s real. And a bit raw for me. And it is likely a bit TMI at moments. BUT this is how I survived the early years of my motherhood (VENTING), and so I’m sharing it. In its entirety.  Transparency is a scary, vulnerable thing. But I’m doing it anyway.

Because after all, the whole premise of this post is that using certain words sometimes just make you feel better. Here’s my word:

From: Jenny
To: Christy; Julie
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 9:49:43 PM
Subject: Sh*%.

I’m tired. I’ve been cooped up in the house with sick kids for 8 days. Their fever is high enough to keep them out of school, but not out of my hair. They wake themselves coughing at all hours of the night and come get in the bed with us. I woke the other night with a knee to the rib to find two of them that didn’t belong in the bed with us and me clinging to the edge so as not to hit the floor. I’m tired.

The oldest has decided to be difficult and has developed a mental block towards having to write. All they do in Florida schools is write. Day in and day out. They write. I should have taken stock in those damn marble journals because I had to buy 16 of them at the beginning of the school year. And 14,000 pencils. Every time he has to write for homework, he throws a fit (picture an almost 10-year-old throwing a full-blown 2-year-old pounding and kicking on the floor of the grocery store style fit), fights with me and tells me “I’m not doing it and you can’t make me.” or my favorite: “I don’t care if I flunk out of school.”  His teacher goes to our church. Her daughter is in the Sunday School class next to his. We talk. She’s finding it challenging to get him to write at school, as well, though she will not give up on him and continues to challenge him in this area. He missed recess 4 days in a row week before last (he was out with a fever the entire last week) because he refused to do his classroom assigned writing. Lovely. Again today, he fought me all afternoon about writing his homework.

My husband came home at 5:30 in time to eat the dinner I cooked {have I mentioned that I hate cooking?!}  while fighting said kid over said writing homework. The husband promptly stated that the current fever-running kid was in desperate need of a bath from a parent because she doesn’t really clean herself. I say “go for it” – he says he has to go to a meeting at church. Note to self. One extra night without sex at the end of this cycle. ** {I can’t believe I am leaving this part in here . PLEASE see my footnote.}

Which by the way I just started AGAIN today on day 24 of my cycle. Again. It won’t stop. Pre-mental-pause. I typed it that way on purpose. Apparently I should have also bought stock in the Tampax company.

My nose is stopped up. My head feels swollen and is pounding. I buy vats of Ibuprofen and will probably die an early death from whatever disease I am getting from taking too much of it. If I had purchased stock in Ibuprofen, I’d be rolling in money and could pay someone else to make the boy do his writing homework. I am running the lowest grade fever ever. Just enough to make me feel exhausted, but not enough to curb the appetite I have because of said “period”  coupled with the “I’m-bored-stuck-in-the-house-and-eating-everything-in-sight” binge I’m on. And there is Valentine candy in the house that I am supposed to be putting in cute little baggies to send to school. But instead I am putting it all into my not-so-cute mouth which is currently covered in a very large and uncomfortable fever blister. Lovely. (Have we reached the point of too much info, yet?). Nope, we haven’t.

The pediatrician told me to start giving stinky kid #2 myralax twice a day to help with some issues that she is having.. that have nothing to do with the fever she is currently running. We are on day #2 of the stuff that helps her go #2.  Today it worked. Very well apparently. And apparently the low grade fever is just enough to prevent her from being able to lift her arm high enough to find the flush handle on the toilet. Every toilet I have been to in the house tonight has brown water with little floaters in it. Now you wish I had stopped at the last paragraph. But I’m about to make it worth the reading of this paragraph.

Refer back to paragraph #2 and take it into consideration as you read the following. Today was the big 4th grade “FLORIDA WRITES” day. State-wide “testing” they do in 4th grade to evaluate how effective their writing grants have been. The teachers are evaluated greatly on their class average on said writing test.

So, I get a phone call today and the caller ID showed that dreaded Name of the County School.

I answered it despite my fear.. because  this usually means one of  my kids is sick and I have to pick them up.

“Jenny, this is Shelby.” (My non-writing son’s teacher. All I can think is.. ”Oh hell”….)

“Your son gave me a heart attack today. He wouldn’t write during our testing time. He just sat there with an angry look on his face and twirling his pencil… with the veins in his neck protruding..”

Here it is ladies.. the moment that will make you so proud to be my friend….Have I ever told either of you that I curse without realizing it when I am tired?

And that [the WAPI husband] has even made jokes that he was surprised none of our kids’ first word wasn’t “shit”.. because I would say it in my sleep when they would start crying to nurse in the night.. or even still when they come in and wake me up in the middle of the night. (Ok, fine. In the morning, too.)

I like the word “shit”. Sometimes it just makes me feel better to say it. You know, just release the tension with the word “shit.”  Apparently it made {my Pelican, aka kid #2} feel better today too. Shit coming out sometimes is a good thing.

BUT — not so much in this moment.

On the phone – with my son’s teacher – I let out a loud.. all caps, bold, with exclamation point… “SHIIIIIT!”  Yep. I cursed my kid’s teacher today.

It just happened. Kind of like when I am asleep. You know.. at that point where you are too asleep to control what you are doing but awake just enough to be conscious of it? Before any conscious thought came to my head at all – like an out of body experience.. you know like you are listening to someone else say something in your head?

“SHIT.”

Blame it on the tired or the pre-MENTAL pause or the PMS.. or the combination of them all, but still it doesn’t negate the fact that I said it.

To the teacher.  On the phone. Who was calling to tell me… after my inserted “SHIT”.. that my son made her so proud, because after sitting there for 15 minutes.. almost breaking down, almost crying,  he recovered his composure (which she was surely realizing is a trait he did NOT get from his mother). And he did it!  He wrote the prompt in the given time allowed and put his pencil on this desk with a giant smile of pride on his face.

I can’t ever go to church again. I might see her and we’ll both be thinking about my big “SHIT” all the way through mass.

Sharing is good. If you can’t bring laughter through totally embarrassing moments, then you’ll just have to crawl in a hole, right? 🙂

I’m going to put these kids in bed and pour a glass of wine and dream of our girls weekend!

{End email}

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

** OK, I’m going a little outside of my comfort zone by not editing this part OUT, because yes, even I believe there is such a thing as too much information – but in the spirit of trying to be honest.. that’s what I really said in the email, so here it is. For the entire world to see.  Even though I didn’t really mean it and only said it in attempt to be able to laugh at the situation.  My WAPI husband is such a good sport – I’m thankful for that. I’m also grateful that he is comfortable with my open-book style in this blog. See? Wonderful and pretty incredible.. EVEN when I’m at the end of my rope with the little birds and take it out on him.

Notice the Absence of “Cooking, Baking or Culinary Arts” Among My List of “More” Goals

I told my wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband back when we were dating that if he was (in some misguided way) under the impression that he was dating a gal who would end up staying at home raising kids, barefoot in the kitchen, then he was sadly mistaken.*

Who knew that 18 years later, I would be the stay at home mom of 3 – goes to prove you should never say never.

On one point, however, I knew what I was talking about.

I don’t belong in the kitchen.

First, I should tell you that I admittedly have a few “eating quirks”. For instance, I can’t eat any meat that looks like it did when it was alive. And I can NOT handle raw poultry that is still on the bone. I find it disgusting. I only buy boneless skinless chicken breasts. And you KNOW I don’t eat the dark meat, because there’s too much slimy stuff in that part (what is that?!).

Brace yourselves for what is next… 14 years into our marriage I have yet to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. Because I’m not rubbing on a dead turkey carcass or stuffing crap into its hind end. (Don’t judge me.)

I trim the fat off of meat like a top-notch surgeon, because I all I can think about is the fat pocket that used to be a cute round cow.

No egg yolks.. really, y’all that’s the baby chicken!

Seafood is out – for a multitude of reasons, but I blame this on those young years where my cousins and I would line up around my grandparents’ looooooong table in assembly line style to devein and pick shrimp by the dozens of pounds. Pulling the little beady-eyed heads off of shrimp was bad enough, but when my aunts or uncles (or whoever happened through room) would walk by and remind us to pull the veins out, I would about vomit. Noting my disgust, my cousins would then find entertainment in telling me that the odds and ends of slimy pieces were the shrimp’s.. well, feces.  Over.  Peel it, devein it and clean it, yes.. but never eat it. After all it was just alive on those shrimp boats just a few hours before and I killed it. At least it could rest in peace somewhere other than my murderous stomach. And it’s way to chewy.

My aunt used to have a large piece of land in Mississippi where they raised all sorts of animals. Some of you would call this a farm, but it wasn’t really a full-fledged farm.  They did, however raise rabbits and turkeys for  a while. When we would leave our city life behind for a visit, I LOVED hanging around the rabbit pins. They were so very cute. I wanted to have rabbits at our house, too. Then my cousins told me that they would EAT the rabbits. What the hell?!  My mom is lucky that I didn’t break them all out of their pins and stow them away in our car to save them.

During my teenage years, I recall eating at an Asian restaurant with a lot of my extended family.. where my Uncle ordered some insane soup that came with a whole — intact — fish head on top of it. I was sitting directly across from him and the freaking beady little fish eyes were staring right at me – wide open. I could only envision that it died with its eyes that wide open. No fish for me. And quite frankly, this is also why a trip to China or Japan in no way interests me.

… And then there was the time we pulled up at another aunt and uncle’s house, welcomed by a cute Bambi-looking deer hanging upside down from a tree in the beautiful front yard, with blood dripping out of its mouth.  — When I protested they talked about how they were about to skin it so they could have it prepped for meat! These are people that can afford to go to the store and buy meat that someone else has already prepared, now mind you. They just did this for fun?! NO. Maybe I should just go ahead and become a vegetarian. Oh, yeah, and all you people who post your (and your kids’) hunting accomplishments on your Facebook page? You gross me out. (But I’m not judging you.)

When I was young and would try to cook with my mom, I remember repeatedly screwing up the measuring of ingredients and then her frantically trying to figure out how to salvage the dinner I destroyed. Yeah. That about put the nail in the coffin of my cooking interest.

Honestly.. why do women have a strange fascination with aprons? I have never found one necessary or useful. Most likely because the majority of the meals I make have been prepared by someone else – usually with names like Kraft, Betty Crocker, or Perdue.  I just mix and heat, at best.

Now, there are a few things that I actually do make. Hummus: Easy. Hamburger Stroganoff: Also easy. Potato Salad: Really simple – just throw everything you have in the fridge in there. Red Beans and rice.. to be completely honest, I can’t make rice unless it’s boil in the bag OR I have assistance of a rice cooker. And my one and only baked good that doesn’t come from a box? Hershey Bar pie.

But aside from those few, my kids don’t know the difference between some Pillsbury cinnamon rolls out of those cans and homemade ones. Really I don’t think they know that the home-made part is an option.. the dough just magically appears in the cans.

Speaking of cans.. I cut my finger on one just a few short months ago. A can of green beans. Of course this domestic achievement happened on a night when I didn’t have time to do anything about the cut – you know why, right? Because of the 4,000 activities my kids are involved in. (see here) And since I didn’t have time to wait a million hours at the Urgent Care facility on that night, I ended up being scolded in the E.R. the next day because I didn’t get there in time for the stitches I needed.. with this as my parting gift:

Because that’s just how I roll.

And not too long before the can-cutting moment of glory, I burned my arm  on the oven while taking out a pan of biscuits which I slaved over (read: I took them out of a bag in the freezer and sprayed the bottom of the pan prior to slapping them on the pan, placing it in the oven, and setting the timer.)

Oh, then there is the topic of my timers. So… it would probably seem that with the low skill level required for the type of “cooking” I do, one could never mess it up, right? Wrong. I HAVE to set a timer or it’s over. I am amazed at those cooking shows where people can have 4 different things going at once and know just when it’s time to take something off the heat. Not me. I’ve burned dinner twice in the last two months. Once because there was no timer to remind me to stir the red beans. After that sad catastrophe I was a stickler for setting timers to keep my child-induced ADD from winning out over an edible meal. However, I underestimated its power one night when I was so distracted by all the things running through my head that I apparently turned off the timer without realizing I had done it. — Dinner? Sushi take out.

June Cleaver, I am not.

No Stepford Wife here. (Just go ahead and insinuate such a thing and watch me lose my cool.)

What is the name of that book.. the “ UN-domestic Goddess”. Had to have been written about me.

Lucky for me, my husband’s expectations of his stay at home wife do not include being a Domestic Goddess. He’s just happy he doesn’t ever have to step foot in Wal-Mart of Target – or worry about whether we have toilet paper.

And even luckier, he actually enjoys cooking! When he has the energy to do so, he gladly takes over the reins in the kitchen. MY HERO! Back when I was working full-time, we had a standing agreement that whoever cooked didn’t have to do the dishes. I would rather do the dishes than cook.. any day of the week.

But the good news? I cook anyway (most of the time). And I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the fact that it isn’t a gift of mine. I actually feel good at the end of the day when I have pushed through my displeasure of being in the kitchen and put a meal on the table for my family. No matter how little skill it took to prepare it OR how many sacrifices of person and property that had to be offered up in doing so.

But I still won’t be wearing any aprons.

* (When I told other people this, they would always say something along the lines of, “Oh, you’ll learn how to cook.” Whatever, people. I don’t WANT to learn.)

“..She Can Do It All WITHOUT Mixing Vodka and Xanax. It’s Amazing.”

My mom called me (many months ago) on her way out of the movie theater to tell me that I HAD to see the movie, “I Don’t Know How She Does It”. She told me that the main character (played by the great SJP) is a working Mom trying to juggle it all, but still thought of me (a SAHM) all the way through the movie, knowing that I would love it.

Fast forward 6 months.

Sunday afternoon: Overcast and super windy with ominous clouds looming. One of those rare days where we actually had free time at the house. My wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband had a late lunch with friends and then they were going to the local NFL franchise’s stadium to choose their season ticket seats*, so I was at home with the kids by myself for a few hours. They were occupied (I use the term VERY lightly) with the electronic babysitting squad. I mistakenly thought this would be a perfect time for a movie that no one else in my house would particularly love seeing, and I purchased ”I Don’t Know How She Does It” ON DEMAND. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did this.. I should have known that as soon as I was engaged in something enjoyable for myself, their superpowers would turn on and they would instinctively know… converging on me and circling like vultures.

I did it though. I finally watched it. Although, the one hour and 29 minute movie took me roughly 4 hours to watch beginning to end. I’m not kidding.

I have no idea how many times I had to pause it, because… let’s face it, I can’t count that high, but I do know that I had to restart the movie no less than 5 times, because those pauses lasted so long that On Demand timed out and went back to its menu. It took me so long to get through the movie that the WAPI husband had time to eat, pick out seats and get home before I finished it. He then loaded up one of the 3 little birds (who all definitely felt like Woodpeckers this day) and went to the nursery to buy mulch, returning before I was more than half way through the movie.

In a moment of frustration, I actually told the Pelican (middle child, older daughter) – with a big sigh, “It’s going to take me 14 days to watch this movie!”  This was triggered by the 643rd interruption, when she came in to tell me that she and her Dad were back and they “GOT 25 BAGS OF MULCH FOR THE YARD!” – She loves to narrate life to me. Every minute (as in, every tiny, infinitesimal, minuscule) detail of it. And yes, dear wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband, I do realize this is a trait that she got directly from me.  I love her little self and admire her passion for living a lot. Although I can’t quite comprehend the reason for her passionate excitement over how many bags of mulch they bought, and frankly I wish she would have toned the passion down for the afternoon, because it was driving me nuts. (Dear goodness, I must drive my husband nuts, too!)

Anyway, my children walked into the room to ask me a question no less than 50 times, really. It felt more like a thousand. I had to pause the movie for all sorts of things. Door bell ringing (multiple times). Phone ringing. At least 9 “I’m hungry”s.  One ball kicked hard into the window right next to my ear – which of course required me to stomp outside. Opening and closing of the back door 1200 times.. each time the blinds (that are broken and not attached to the door on the bottom) swinging back and forth, banging the door multiple times.. loud enough that I had to rewind to hear the dialogue… and on and on.

Is this the appropriate use of the word Irony? Watching a movie that is all about the struggles and challenges of motherhood (titled “I Don’t Know How She DOES It?”) – all while my children purposefully (I’m certain) try to drive me nuts. I think so.

When the yard work was finished and my husband came in and sat down next to me.. still 20 minutes left in the movie.. he comments “Why aren’t you watching this in HD?!” – I may have let an expletive slip at this point. HD?!?! What the hell? I’m just trying to hear the next line before I forget what the last one was. HD?!?! The only thing High Definition about this scenario was the constant noise that my children were making to prevent me from being able to hear the movie.. forget seeing it more clearly. (What is it about men’s obsession with high-definition? Quite frankly I’d rather him not see my wrinkles, etc. in high-definition.)

At the end of the movie, I literally stood up and did a little celebration dance – throwing my hands in the air in triumph, because quite frankly I didn’t think I was going to see the end of it. Not because I didn’t want to or because the movie was bad.. quite the contrary.. but more because I didn’t think the little Woodpeckers were going to allow me to finish it.

When I started the movie, you know, 14 days ago… I intended on writing a blog about it that concentrated only on my thoughts about the movie’s topic. What I ended up with was a blog on one of my own great motherhood struggles. Although, I’m pretty certain this topic resonates with most moms. Sometimes it feels like Woodpeckers are pecking at your head.. like you’ll never get a moment’s peace.  (BATHROOM!)

In spite of the unplanned direction the blog ended up going, I do still feel like the subject matter of the movie is worth talking about. A lot.

I’ve already established that I am waaaay behind on the viewing of this movie. Which also probably means I waaaay behind the curve in reviewing this movie and writing about its subject matter. There are probably about a thousand other mom-bloggers out there that have done this already. Here’s my two cents on it, anyway:

If you’re a stay at home mom and haven’t seen it yet, watch it (even if you have to drink espresso at 5 pm and stay up til 1 am, so you can watch it in peace after they’ve gone to sleep. Which is what I’ll do next time.).. you’ll get a glimpse into some of the issues that are different for a Working Mom than for us SAHMs. And you’ll be able to appreciate the battle that a working mom fights in the working world among men. Or at least, I did. It made me want to go put on my kids’ karate hand-pads and start swinging at certain characters in the movie.

In watching this movie, I  confirmed my notion that there are a lot more similarities than differences between the struggles of a working mom and that which I struggle with as a SAHM. Maybe more than a lot of people in this “great debate” realize, even.  Seriously, who among us doesn’t relate to the quote, “300 presentations last year, and I never messed up once.. It’s not my fault! The pregnancy did something to my brain!”  It may not be a work presentation for us SAHMs, but the mess ups are just as present in our daily lives.  And I don’t know which is worse: dropping the ball while trying to prove yourself in the world of men or dropping the ball while trying to prove your intelligence and worth among the world who sees you as nothing more than a Stepford Wife. I’d say they are both equally frustrating and humiliating. See.. same, but different. Different, but the same.  And that scene where Kate (SJP’s character) is lying in bed mentally writing her crazy child-induced-ADD-brain-List in sharpie on the ceiling?! Priceless. And so VERY me — and probably every one of you, as well.  I would bet that’s common among us all.

I felt some sort of solace in the fact that this stay at home mom could relate exactly to SJP’s character and not at all to the SAHM characters. They were stereotypical and harsh. And while I know they were only characters, behind their judgment, I recognized something of their struggle. I wish, however, that more SAHMs in real life dealt with their mom-struggles better than these SAHM characters did. I’m happy to say that the SAHMs here in my circle of friends are not at all like that. Whew!

If you’re a working mom and you watch (or have watched) the movie, know this – I know VERY few, if any, stay at home moms who are judgemental like these stereotypical ones in the film. Most that I know keep themselves so busy with projects and volunteer work that they are, in fact, just trying to juggle it all.. much like you.  Most of the SAHMs I know struggle more with their peer’s perceptions of them (and probably our self-perceptions)  than they do judging other moms..  But I do know that those judgmental moms are out there. On both sides of this debate. And that’s a shame. Maybe talking openly and honestly more will help lessen that divide that many experience between the two.

Far too often women turn their own self-doubt and guilt – or struggles – into defensive feelings that come out as anger, judgment, and even an attack on  other moms. But we never really make ourselves feel better by judging others or making them feel bad. Modern-day society makes it hard enough on women, we have to practice understanding and supporting each other more, instead of piling on. SAME TEAM!**

To quote myself in previous posts: “Just because my family’s circumstances, needs, and personalities lend themselves better to me being “at home”, doesn’t mean that is, or should be, true for every mom. I know that for a lot of women, working makes them an even better Mom (this was true of my grandmother – even back in the 1950’s and 60’s!), and I love that we all thrive in different environments.  — All Moms struggle.  It doesn’t matter what your particular “motherhood” circumstances look like:  1 kid or 10 kids. Working outside of the home or stay-at-home. Married or single. With a house keeper or a house full of dust. It doesn’t matter what your situation; if you’re a mom and you’re being honest, you struggle. With different things, maybe. But struggle still.”

And yes, Mom, you were right! I did love it!

* See?! We’re both doing a pretty good job of having friends and making time for ourselves.. so that we “both have something to bring to the relationship” as my mom says.

** I’ve said it before, but really.. we should be a united force – all Moms, no matter or work status – coming together to defeat the real enemy. The kids.  (I’m kidding.. don’t freak out!)

“Ah-ha” Moments

I had a great visit at the bus stop this morning with a very wise friend who has children ranging in ages from 5 – 15. Yes, that’s a baby in kindergarten and a teen in high school. Plus she has two more in between.  Obviously, in my eyes she would fall into the “expert” category of moms.  I’ll be leaning on her a lot.

My oldest is now a teenager. And wow. When the “teenager” moves in, he moves in all. the. way.  Without getting into too much detail, my kid has been taken over by an alien. The teenager alien. It’s turning him from my sweet and sensitive little man to a mean green monster!**  Coincidentally, 3 years ago in a school art class he was required to draw a split face self-portrait. He drew himself as a green alien type monster. I guess he saw it coming before I did.  Fore shadowing. Maybe I should have him do an updated version of the drawing, where he shows his current ratio of teenage-alien-monster to sweet precious little Owl (If you see me refer to the “Owl” on the blog, I’m referring to the oldest – the boy – of my 3 little birds). It would surely be at least 90% green. He’s almost fully become a teenage alien now.

This fact has brought me some dread and some strife in the last few weeks. However today, my dear friend at the bus stop (my neighborhood mommy-expert) said something to me that made this whole teenager mess a big giant happy PLUS in my goals as M.O.M.*** — She said something along the lines of (please forgive if I put my own twist on the words), “I think God gave us these awful teenager years, so that it’s easier for us to let them go when they turn 18.”

So, the worse the teenage years, the happier I’ll be when they go?

Sweet!

I may just be able to make my wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband eat his “you’re going to be pitiful when they leave” words, after all. I will NOT be pitiful and sad when they fly the coop. Based on the only example I have (my own teenage years), I’ll be dancing and jumping for Joy!

*Someone please bookmark this post and re-direct me to it in 5 years.

** I hate green monsters. Like the Incredible Hulk. Irrational childhood fear carried over into adulthood.

*** Mind Over Motherhood = there’s going to be a “ME” at the end of this “motherhood” that doesn’t struggle to find her identity without the precious little aliens!

“My Bathroom is NOT The Visitors Welcome Center!”

Vent.

Not the one in the bathroom ceiling that is infuriatingly attached to the light you want to use, but don’t because then you have to listen to that annoying humming from the vent fan.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Just typing this sentence makes me thankful for that third light switch in my bathroom that is devoted solely to the vent fan. And never used. — My house: also known as the land of too many useless light switches (three years in and we still have a couple of switches that do nothing. Or at least, nothing that we see.)

– Okay, sorry. My child-induced ADD just kicked in. Refocusing in 3.. 2..1 –

Back to the word of the day: Vent. As defined by Merriam Webster.com:

1vent

verb \ˈvent\

Definition of VENT

transitive verb

1 : to provide with a vent

2 c : to give often vigorous or emotional expression to <vented her frustration on her coworkers>

3 : to relieve by means of a vent <vented himself in a fiery letter to the editor>

I find it funny that the “her” example implies that she let loose on her coworkers like some sort of hormonal fit, yet “his” example implies that he wrote a logical, yet convicted letter. – Or maybe I’m overly sensitive, and my perception of the definitions say more about me than the actual examples say about our society? Maybe I need to do some self-examination on that point more in a later post, but for now, let me attempt to keep myself on topic from here on out:

The real mistake that the Webster’s people made was neglecting to put a photo of me by the word “vent” in the dictionary. Vent is one of my favorite words. Because it’s one of my favorite things to do. Ask my wonderful-and-pretty-incredible husband. It drives him kind of nuts (in a loving way).  Ask my “there’s been some damage” girlfriends – burning up those venting emails for years with me. They know.  And my neighbors at the bus stop? Yep, they get it, too.

I believe in venting. I believe that when we try to pretend everything is all rainbows and sunshine (when in fact we screamed like a crazy person at our kids as we tried to get them to the bus on time), we do ourselves and other parents a dis-service. I also believe that letting it out has the same effect as a great big yoga exhale. While venting might not be as peaceful as a good long yoga session, it makes you feel better when you’re done, just the same.

So, let’s do some of it. Venting time.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How do they do it? How do they know?

I think it was those disgusting prenatal vitamins that the doctors made me take.. Maybe they weren’t really for nutrition and healthy formation of the baby, but instead they contained some strange magical super power (or maybe kryptonite for moms) that allowed the children to develop this weird 6th sense. You know the one I’m talking about. That one.

That one that makes them come running from the next street over to ask you a question the minute you get on the phone with a friend you haven’t spoken with in a while. Never mind that you were perfectly available to answer questions for two hours, but they waited until the split second you get on the phone to decide they need you.

It’s that one that makes a sleeping baby/toddler wake up the second you sit your butt down and put that first bite of yummy food in your mouth, requiring you to get up and let the plate of food get cold.

It’s the one that sets some alarm off in their bodies and switches them to seek and destroy mode the minute you are peacefully in your bathroom with the door closed. –

Oh, how the bathroom has changed since my motherhood began. Showering? This is when they decide for the first time ever that they need to follow the house rules and ask (and it must be face to face.. never through the door) before they get that snack out of the pantry. And tomorrow, the need to bust in on my nakedness – which isn’t pretty – will be for some other equally as frustrating reason (“The phone is ringing!”, “Did you go to the grocery store today?”, “We’re out of cereal!”, “Do you know where my ipod is?”, “She came into my room!”, “He breathed out loud at me!”, etc.) But the scenario will be the same.  They will fling open the door, ask for what they want (or complain about something), get yelled at, sulkily walk out and leave the door open so all the cold air comes into my warm showering haven.  Every day. — I’ve started taking showers late at night after everyone is asleep, because oh, how I love a nice long hot peaceful shower. And that’s not gonna happen if they’re awake.  I’m fairly certain that any day now there will be some sort of metamorphosis of the super magic powers and they will add the ability to sense in their sleep that I’m in the shower (waking them from their slumber so they can bust in on my shower time).

Sitting on the toilet?  Tattle time, every time. If I go to the restroom, they go to fighting. And one or more of them ALWAYS comes tearing into the bathroom with guns blazing, yelling at me about how they have been done wrong by a sibling.  (Mind you, this means they have to open not one, but THREE closed doors.) I then yell at them.

All logic, reason and calm/consistent parenting that I have ever strived to achieve goes out the window for the entire day as soon as one of my kids busts into my bathroom. It makes me crazy, and then it makes me feel like a crappy mom for having let it get to me.

Much to my relief, I discovered that I am not the only one. Last week I had the good fortune of meeting 3 of my hilarious – and very wonderful – friends for breakfast before we broke for our “work” days (some in offices and some in our homes).  So many great topics came up – but one is particularly worth sharing.  My very favorite quote of the day came about when we were on this topic of venting the frustrations we have with our little blessings. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the passion with which my friend delivered the line: “I just want to yell at them, ‘MY BATHROOM IS NOT THE VISITORS/WELCOME CENTER!!! I’M NAKED! GET OUT!’ ” – in reference to the fact that her children bust into the bathroom each time she’s in there getting dressed.

There’s comfort in venting our own frustrations.. and there’s comfort in hearing a friend vent about the same feelings/experiences you have.  When I heard her share her bathroom frustrations, I wanted to stand up in my chair and scream, “YES!!! ME TOO!! WOOHOO!! I’M NOT THE LONE CRAZY MOM!”  The truth is, I always default to the idea that if I’m experiencing it behind the closed (but never for long) doors in my house, most other motherhoods probably look (and sound) fairly similar. Whether they like to publicly admit it or not.

I have no idea how to strip the kids of their kryptonite-like superpower and keep them out of my bathroom (and phone calls, etc.), but I do know that since my friend’s bathroom confession, I have been much more apt to laugh at the visual of the “Welcome Center” sign that pops into my head than I am to yell at them when they bust into the bathroom. So that’s something.

So, vent it out, and just maybe it will help flip that light switch inside of you, so things become funny instead of completely frustrating.

**And as a bit of a post script, I think I just figured it out!! My bathroom is the only one in the house that has a separate switch for the fan! THAT must be why everyone always wants to be in there!

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