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mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

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Parenting

It is Not for the Weak of Heart and Mind.

My Birds Don’t Fit Into Their Pretty Little Easter Baskets Anymore

(Don’t think you’re seeing things. I really have posted twice in one week after months of .. nothing.)

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While I haven’t written in a long while – and I haven’t managed to spend any time reflecting on last year’s goals, much less make new ones of this year, I have had an eventful 2013 anyway.

For instance, I registered a kid for high school in the past month. Which may not seem to be a big deal to those who have already done this, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. While we busily went to meetings and interest sessions and learned about optional academies and scholars programs, etc., etc. I felt floored by the fact that high school now requires almost as much preparation as college did when I was the Owl’s age. While that was a revelation in and of itself, nothing – and I mean, nothing – prepared me for that moment when I was parked in the high school parking lot having just dropped off my little bobble-headed toddler’s high school applications. That’s when all the busy stopped and the reality hit me. . My time with him under my roof is shrinking at as rapid of a rate as he is growing. We only have four years left with him.

I have to look UP to him. His shoulders are broader than mine. His feet no longer fit on the steps of our staircase. At last check he was 5’6″ and 126 pounds. I get startled almost every afternoon thinking there is a random man in the house, only to realize.. it’s him. My kid. With a booming, deep voice.

Oh, and I took the Pelican to MIDDLE SCHOOL orientation. (I can’t even elaborate on middle school. It speaks for itself.)

And she has started borrowing my shoes (because they are now her size.) And coming into my bathroom each morning before school to borrow my flat-iron for her hair (there has to be some irony in the fact that I loved her baby blonde curls so much and all she wants now is to straighten them). And I had to teach her how to shave under arms.

They’re growing like mad.

I’m pretty certain that here on this very blog I’ve stated that I will not be that mom who is lost when my little birds have all flown the nest. But suddenly, I feel panicked.

Easter always makes me feel so nostalgic for little babies with blonde curls adorned by bows, monogrammed/smocked dresses, and peter pan collars… kids who would still sit with the Easter Bunny and take a photo. Toddlers who would run barefoot through the grass hunting Easter Eggs while their hair and linen dresses tried desperately to keep up with the speed at which they sought out those glorious candy filled eggs.

My kids could not care less about Easter Egg hunts anymore.

The other 51 weeks of the year I am quite happy that they are big and over all that stuff, but this one week of the year, I wish they were little again.

The years are flying by. Really. And I am panicking. Because I know what’s next: they’re going to hate me soon.

So, for the moment, I’m taking a nostalgic look back (blocking out what the reality of those toddler years was like) and missing them. And then soaking up the beauty of the stage they’re in now. While I can.

And just to end on a positive note, thank goodness my sister and brother waited years behind me to have kids, so I could have baby/toddler aged nieces and nephews now.

Easter 2000 2004 2006 0000585049324 Egg Hunting at Amy's on the Bayou - 2004 Easter 2003 Easter 2003Lauren was obsessed with Libby the puppy dog - 2005 (Some things never change.)

Be Kind. Love Real.

I have been sitting on this Connecticut horror for days.

On Friday I was at least able to mutter these words on my personal Facebook page:

“What if your smile, hello, or kind words made the difference for someone who felt lonely and unloved? What if you choose to say something nice to someone – something that makes them feel good about themselves – instead of being brash and saying everything you think? What if choosing to be kind is the thing that makes the difference in the life of someone who is on the edge? Be kind.”

And – at the time – I believed that was the issue at its root. Until this morning when I read this blog:

https://reallovecoaching.net/blog/greg/2012/12/the_connecticut_school_massacr.html

 

Specifically, these words:  “Children are not complicated. What they need more than anything–more than video games and iPhones, even–is to feel loved by the people around them. Unconditionally loved, especially by their parents. And yet very few children ever experience enough Real Love to qualify as anything close to a consistent pattern. So these children grow up in horrifying emotional pain–every bit as real and disabling as physical pain–all their lives.”

Now let’s be clear. This isn’t a beautiful read. It isn’t a moving, inspirational read. It’s actually kind of a hard read, if we read it with an honest view of our own parenting style in mind. It is extremely real and extraordinary important. Because in truth, the accessibility to guns is NOT what has changed in this country since these awful things have started happening. But instead what has changed is that the culture of Love and anti-violence – that used to be prevalent in our country – has taken a drastically different back seat to selfishness and anger.

We, as parents, don’t love our spouses and parent our children the way our grandparents did. Marriages and families (much like the rest of our lives) have become disposable. Stability and a feeling of real connection – in families and relationships – are becoming more and more rare. Our society has become a culture of selfishness, where we have lost much of our compassion and ability to love.  And children need love. Nothing more than to feel loved. Children who grow up missing love, instead feel pain. And in the absence of love… the strike out in some way.

I’m not preaching here.  This – at least, at certain times in my motherhood – applies to me too, and that’s the truth.

And don’t think that I’m neglecting the subject of Faith in all of this. Each person has their own set of beliefs, and while I am aware of that, my beliefs make it glaringly obvious to me that children who are taught of God’s unconditional LOVE for them, feel that Love through their parents as well.

It isn’t just being kind to strangers and friends and others in our communities. It’s being selfless – in our community, yes, but even more importantly, in our homes.* It’s loving our kids with Real – UNCONDITIONAL – Love. Maybe if more kids grow up feeling REAL, unconditional LOVE, these things will become less frequent.

 

We all have work to do.

 

In the mean time, I just pray.  Because, truthfully, sometimes there are those cases – which honestly, this Connecticut one seems to me to be – where disorders and mental illness causes a human being to become very un-human. It prevents them from being able to make social or emotional connections with people and does not allow them to feel.  And when a person can’t feel and can’t connect…  what can we do? But pray.

 

* Now, how do we do that AND still make room for taking care of ourselves?

 

Wordless Wednesday: Where in the World Have I Been?

Carry On

Today I pray for all the Moms that have had to sit their children down and tell them that it was time to say the long goodbye to their Dad.. and then figure out how to carry on in her motherhood on her own. Honoring and remembering those who have given their lives – and especially those who have had to carry on..Image

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Mirror, Mirror On the Wall (from the Huff Post)

I just read an article on the Huffington Post Life & Style Blog, and it really hit home with me.

Kudos to this list! It’s spot-on in terms of what I strive for in my motherhood. (And it supports my blog premise perfectly, so that’s a bonus.)

And if you only read the bold parts of the lists, you’re missing out on the real meat of it.

Read the list here: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

#1 – Find things outside of your motherhood that help make you happy.  (The MORES)

#2 – (THIS is a HARD one) Learn to say no to some things. Find your stress threshold and accept that yours may not be the same as the Supermom on the PTO, and that’s ok. Your kids need you happy, not winning awards and stressed out.

#3 – Make time for yourself and your spouse (significant other). Find a good sitter and don’t feel bad about leaving the kids behind to focus on your relationship. It’s better for the kids!

#4 – (THIS is an even HARDER one) I love the quote she uses here. I’m practicing so I can become more like this, but I admit it: I yell first and apologize second sometimes. I think it’s equally as important to admit when you lose your cool and explain to your kids that it happens, because I’m human, too. But the important part is to come back and do it again with a level head, so they realize that (though my response may not have been ideal) what ever behavior set me off needs to be corrected (just like I had to make my overly emotional response right.)

#5 – I’ll be their friend when they’re adults. Right now I have to get them successfully to adulthood. No, I’m not letting you have a Facebook page when you’re 9 and then posting pictures of you posing in the mirror like a seductress and tagging you in them.  You’re the kid. I’m the parent.

#6 – Two of my favorite quotes:  “I have learned more from my mistakes than from my successes.”  and  ” If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”  — I’d much rather that my little birds make the mistakes (THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE) now, while they are young and under our guidance and love… learn from those mistakes and put what they learn into practice as they move out of my tutelage.  Mistakes are the portals of discovery.

#7 – This one gets easier as they get older.. but I still struggle with it. I keep reminding myself that if I want them to be good decision makers (just like anything else), I have to give them the opportunity to practice making decisions.  Sometimes this means I have to stuff the urge to stop my 8-year-old from walking out of the house like this:

#8 – Again, I remind you.. this list doesn’t mean to say we have to be perfect, but these should be our goals. I hope my children don’t one day judge me based on the tone of our mornings, because I’m not a morning person and getting ready for school is a tricky one for us. None the less, I keep trying to improve on it.. and then we always end the day with our “BESTS” – Gratitude for the day. Sometimes I follow-up by praying for a little more patience in the morning. They pray with me and know I’m trying. (But the likelihood is that when they are adults, they’ll be telling their therapists horror stories about their childhood mornings..)

#9 – My kids get rewarded based on effort rather than results.  Performance evaluations and performance-based bonuses will soon be implemented in my house. (No, I’m not kidding at all, and there will be a blog post about that in the near future.)

#10 – Well, on this one, if you’ve only read the bold print, you’re covered.  Real isn’t perfect, and perfect isn’t real.

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.

When Cathedrals Begin to Take Shape

They are rare. Sometimes you can’t remember the last time one happened. Yet, I’ve experienced them twice in less than 24 hours.

We’ll come back to this, but first you probably need a little background info to fully understand what I’m talking about.

Just like us Moms, each of our children has their strengths and weaknesses. They each struggle with some area of their life. And therefore, we, as their Moms (parents) struggle with some area of their lives. Sometimes that struggle with your kids feels all-consuming.

Watching your child struggle through the tough spots is just about as excruciating as it gets.

The last 2 years, really 3, have been quite a struggle (felt more like a full-on battle) – socially and educationally – for our youngest, The Starling. She is actually a very intelligent child. That is evident and always has been, however her behavior (even since she was a wee little one) has been less than promising at times. My mom and I have joked for years about whether she would use her powers for good or for evil.*  When she was little she was quite the demanding child, to say the least. When she was a toddler, I would refer to her as a little tornado. – Climbing and destroying everything in her path.

But goodness, she has always been cute. I’m not just talking about her big baby blues, precious (though sometimes quite mischievous) grin, or long blonde locks, but her personality is as funny and entertaining as they come. She could win over the Grinch in a split second. And you should see her dance. I can be angrier than you can imagine with her about one of her impulsive mishaps, but that will always be when she pulls out something absolutely hilarious or incredibly precious, making it all-together impossible for me not to laugh or smile.

I’ve been convinced for years that her extraordinary cuteness was a self-defense mechanism given to her by God, because it has saved her many times. Like when she flooded the house. But that’s another story for another time.

The Starling had always been the confident, strong-willed child. Full of passion for life, incredibly creative and out-going. Exuberant and funny, expressive and strong. Knows no stranger. Lives life out-loud – in the best way.

However, we have seen a change in her these last two years. The child who instantly knew everyone when we moved here 4 years ago was becoming somewhat of a loner.  The confident, self-assured child we once knew, had turned into a somewhat fearful, self-conscious shell of who she used to be.

In addition to her sudden lack of confidence, in these last couple of years all the “tornadic” (for lack of a better word) behaviors that used to seem like a lag in behavioral development didn’t go away. In fact, they got worse. And at age 6 she still wasn’t able to follow directions with more than 2 steps. Or recognize all the letters in the alphabet consistently. Or find her shoes. Ever. Or remember her friends’ names. Her BEST friends, mind you. She couldn’t sit and finish a meal. Not one. She would get frustrated to tears when trying to ask me a question, because she didn’t know how to verbalize what she wanted to know.

My nerves were shot by the 6th – 7th year.

At the time, I was convinced that she was making the choice to push the limits. That she just thought her cuteness and knowledge of when to use it would get her out of anything; therefore she didn’t have to work – you know, the typical last-born, “I’m the baby; gotta love me” syndrome in the birth order debate. And, I’ll admit it : there were times that part of the problem was that I was tired.  I wasn’t able to put in as much time and  consistent parenting with her, as I had been the first two.  My grandfather’s (who had 10 children) words came back to me on more than one occasion, as well: “Once you have three kids, it doesn’t matter how many you have. Once you’re out-numbered it’s chaos.”

Out-numbered. Husband traveling. Tired. Not enough of me to go around. Not enough consistency in my parenting. Birth-order. Her personality.

I didn’t really know what to blame it on, so I blamed it on a combination of all of it.  I hoped that with time, maturity and development  – and maybe if we could  get their WAPI Dad in a job where he wasn’t traveling.. well, maybe then I’d have more energy to invest in being more consistent, and maybe then it might get better.

Then, my WAPI husband changed jobs and was home all the time – just as she began kindergarten.. and the year progressed, but she didn’t.  I began to get concerned that her challenges were something more.. something that maybe – just maybe – she and I didn’t have control over.

Now, if I were to go into detail about the events and examples and trials and tearful, sleepless nights we’ve had in the last couple of years since Kindergarten, I would officially be publishing a novel instead of a blog post, so I will skip it and just say this: It’s been a difficult road. With potholes that seemed to be bottomless and speed bumps that you couldn’t possibly see over. I’ve cried a lot. And so has she. And I’ve been so frustrated that I thought I might stroke out. And so has she. — Same goes for my WAPI husband. And her siblings have paid quite the price for her all-consuming needs. When you have three kids and one needs at least 75% of your time, the other two aren’t left with much.

(And try though you may, you can ONLY give 100% of your being. All that crap you hear about “giving 110%”? Well, that’s just the biggest load of B.S. ever. No one has more than 100% to give. No one.)

Teaching her to read (and actually retain what she was learning) has proven to be more difficult than weaning, potty training, and sleep training combined – times 1000.

In addition to severe reading challenges, her particular learning issues have caused very atrocious hand-writing – to the point that it was often illegible.

BUT. Thanks to a lot of exploring, hard work, testing, diagnosing, commitment on our part, some bi-focal glasses, and one pretty spectacular teacher, we have begun to make headway.

Finally. (When I put it this way, it seems so simple. But trust me, it wasn’t.)

Not that the bumpy road will ever be completely smooth for her, but it’s getting better.

Now, at the end of 2nd grade. The work is finally beginning to take shape.

Last night I watched my once-struggling reader lie in her bed tucked into her daddy’s chest while she read to him by Kindle-light.  The reading was good. Really good. She flowed through the pages.  No help required. When she hit a word that stumped her she remained confident and stayed with it until she figured it out on her own. And it never took long. REAL second grade words and all. And she was happy.

There was something about the moment – with her precious little face framed in her reading glasses (it’s hard to learn to read when you can’t see the book OR the board) and lit by the blueish-white glow of her newly purchased Kindle Fire – I stopped and took a mental picture. So relieved that we were finally at this point, where she could confidently read and really fully enjoy her love of books, that I couldn’t even step away to get my camera** for fear that I’d miss the moment all-together.

It was a moment that made me smile so big that my face hurt, and my throat burned from trying to hold back the tears of joy.

As if that reading break-through weren’t enough, there’s more. Until today, I can’t remember an instance where I could read an entire piece of my daughter’s writing without having to ask her to translate a good portion of the words … or skip them and pretend that I knew what I just read, because she needed a confidence boost.

But here it is.  A Mother’s day gift that’s two-fold. I’m not sure what moved me more: the message.. or the fact that I could read it. All. By myself.

And this is what I meant up there in that first line.

Every once in a while in our motherhood, a moment happens where you can see a glimmer of the fruits of your labors. A moment when the endless laundry and meals and sleepless nights and cleaning up stomach viruses and all that other crap just disappears and you actually get to see the worth in what you are really doing. Where you realize that in between all the crap-jobs that are the major daily work of motherhood, you really are doing good work. Really good work. Important work.

Something makes you step back and get a preview of what it is going to look like in the end.. before you throw yourself back in to the work so closely that you can’t see it in your line of sight. The foundation is being laid and suddenly something makes you see the form of the cathedral beginning to take shape.

The reading by the kindle-light and the writing of a Mother’s day note. Twice in 24 hours I got a glimpse of the beauty that is The Starling’s Cathedral.

Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

And if you haven’t had one of these moments in a long while  — hang in there.. your Cathedrals ARE taking shape. Even if you’re a little too close to see it yet.

* I typically inject some humor into difficult situations, not to belittle them or make fun of my kids or myself, but because it helps me gain some perspective.

** Those that know me know how huge a moment has to be for me sacrifice taking a picture of it, because I don’t want to miss it in person.

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.

Silly String Wars, Lemonade Stands, and Chocolate for Breakfast

In other words: Spring Break.

Today is the first day the kids are back in school after a 10 day long Spring break. Brace yourselves for the next sentence.

I was NOT ready for them to go back.

I know. That’s sick, right?

Every mom – especially one who is attempting to maintain a sense of self in the midst of motherhood – should be jumping for joy at the sight of that big yellow bus coming to pick them up, right?

Not so for me this time. —  I’m as shocked as you are.

As you can tell from the lack of blogging in the last two weeks, I got totally lost in the motherhood (family), and here’s the thing..I loved it. Really loved it.

Actually our break from the regular routine began a little early, as my kids’ wonderful Grandmother came in town to visit the Wednesday prior to Spring Break beginning. So we’ve had almost two weeks of solid fun. Which also meant two weeks of blog-free living for me. WOW.. talk about a worth-while break from blogging! {Soon there will be a real blog to follow this one that delves more into the incredible things we experienced in the last two weeks…}

That’s just part of the balance we seek in our motherhood, I suppose. When to turn off the world and go all-in to the motherhood.. and when to come back out and find a little of myself  again. Today I get back to doing a few things for just me. If there is one thing I have learned so far in my search for that balance is that I should NEVER feel guilty for stopping every now and then and feeding my soul. Whether it be prayer time or expanding my mind or just plain fun me time.  It’s good for me and in turn, makes me a better mom. So, today, I’m taking MY OWN Spring Break – that has nothing to do with my motherhood.

I’m headed out to meet my sister for a day at the beach.  (And counting my blessings that I’m able to do so.)

Then tonight I’ll be loving mom with lots more patience and energy.

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