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mind-over-motherhood

Being more than "just Mom".. honestly.

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Losing It

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.

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Making Friends with my Limitations

{Although it may appear so in the first few paragraphs, this blog post is not about my physical health and my love for yoga, so if the yoga mantras are corny to you or my rambling about my injuries gets on yours nerves, please hang with me anyway.. it moves beyond that.}

If you’ve been following along a while you know that I’ve been battling some injuries that make some of my “MORE” goals a little difficult. My last post about seeing the Ortho was followed by an MRI and some interesting news. My issues (this time) are because, well.. I’m getting old. The hip issues I thought I was having were actually caused by degeneration and arthritis in my back. I think the exact words they used were, “Have you been really active all your life, because your spine looks a lot older than it is?”  Me: “What do you mean?”  The PA: “Well, it doesn’t look like it’s 80 years old or anything that bad, but you do have more degeneration in your spine than you should at your age.”

—Just great. Because my saggy ass and boobs, wrinkly skinned stomach and knees; sudden mass of wiry grey hair, failing eyesight; joint issues, surgically repaired hip, stiffness; high cholesterol, early onset mental-pause, failing brain, and terrible memory weren’t enough to tell me that I’m old and just NOT what I used to be.   What I really needed was medical confirmation that not only am I getting old, but I’m doing it at an unusually increased pace.  (What I’d really love is if my run pace were increasing as well. Instead, it has completely halted.)  {Refocus, Jenny}  —

I’ve now been in physical therapy for a few weeks, and while my hip is better, the issues in my back are much more evident.  Each day it was slowing me down more and more. And I don’t do slow very well.  I keep reminding myself that this is a tiny little hiccup in my life and nothing – at all – major, so I should not complain. But the truth is I have given into the frustration here and there, too.

You may have also noticed in my blog writing that I mention yoga a good bit. I’ve come to really love it over the last 7 – 8 years. (WHEN I could manage to make it a priority.) Around the time that I went back to the ortho for hip (back) issues a few weeks ago, I also quit doing yoga. I’ll be honest, the whole “Don’t use your full range of Motion” directive from the doctor really took something away from the idea of my yoga practice. The part I loved was pushing myself to that full range of motions and beyond.. in order to get that super-stretch. Now, not able to do so, I figured I wouldn’t get what I needed from yoga. *

Realizing that quitting because I couldn’t do yoga “all the way” was really childish and stupid, I made the decision to go back last week.

The first yoga session went OK.. I could do about half of the poses with no pain, and fought the urge to be frustrated by my limitations in the one place that I used to be able to let it all go and reach my fullest expression of a pose.. and of quiet prayer. Yes, I know that this place should be church, but my three little woodpeckers birds are always with me in church, and truthfully I’m a little distracted by my efforts to make sure that The Starling doesn’t lift up my skirt, pull down my shirt, or tear a bracelet off my arm – sending a hundred beads flinging across the entire place.. bouncing around and creating a serious hazard for the rest of the parishioners. (Did I describe this in too great of detail to pretend that I don’t have firsthand experience with any of these?) And if by some true miracle The Starling is behaving (read: my WAPI husband has saved me and wedged himself between her and me – despite her protests), The Pelican will surely be in a needy, passive-aggressive, I-need-attention mode, which always means she’s attached to my side like a leach and leaning her entire body weight on me.. while I’m wearing fun wedges or high kicks (because it’s the one time a week I get to forego my flip-flops or running shoes). It’s like having a defensive lineman coming full-on from the blind side on a quarter back wearing big pretty wedges… now, you know the wedge-wearing QB is going down.  – Much like The Owl, who ALWAYS, I mean always, mysteriously falls sick on Sunday morning and puts on a pitiful case of “the Sunday Virus” – complete with his attempts to sprawl his 13-year-old, 100+ pound, 5-foot-4 self across the pews in the middle of mass.  None of these scenarios are very conducive to me (with my child-induced ADD) to focus on prayer. I know God understands and is just happy to have me – and my attacking little birds – there.

{Apparently, this is going to be one of those blogs where I go off on tangents a lot and have to bring myself back to the point I’m trying to make. Back to yoga class we go…}

Yoga has no bracelet-flinging, tackling, or angry teenage birds coming at me from all directions, so you can see why it’s a lot easier for me to find prayer time there. When a pose is hard and I’m shaking, I just think of my Warrior-God and offer up the intentions of my friends and loved ones. When flowing through poses I pray the “Our Father” in my head. During those moments of stretching surrender, I rest in His Grace and listen to what He needs me to hear. So why didn’t I focus on those things instead of giving it up all-together when I was given some physical limitations?

The good news is that I went back for a second class on Thursday. And the yogi began this class with something new.  These words: “Lately there has been a lot of talk about yoga causing injuries. But yoga doesn’t cause injury. Injury occurs in yoga when a person ignores their body and listens to their ego. Ignore your ego. Dismiss your expectations. Embrace your limitations.”

Yeah. Ok. Talking right to me.

Her words struck a chord with me and reminded me of another yoga class I used to attend regularly – one that is actually a Christian-based alternative to traditional mind, body, spirit practice. Each and every class begins with the instructor reminding us that “Our bodies are the Temple of the Lord. Honor your body. If it hurts, don’t do it. Be still and allow God to speak. Let go of expectations. Let go of judgment. Let go of competition.”

Somewhere in that second “return to yoga” class I made friends with my limitations. I let go of the competition I had with my “old” self. I let go of the expectations I had of myself, and I opened myself up to what good could come from my limitations.

And guess what? Although I couldn’t do every pose, I felt better when I was done. Physically and mentally. The tension was gone from my shoulders/back and my mind was at peace.

No matter what your particular religious beliefs are OR what level of fitness is (or is not) part of your life, there is a good message to be found in this yoga-speak…. And one that not only applies to our aging Mommy bodies and minds. But one that even better applies to our motherhood. My personhood (for lack of a real word).  The realization hit me that the physical limitations are equaled in frustration by our personal limitations.

Making friends with my personal limitations is a little more daunting than making peace with my physical limitations.

In the last couple of years I have realized something important about myself.

My stress threshold may be a tad bit lower than a lot of other people.

In the past, I have found myself getting resentful of – or even angry with – others because I felt overwhelmed with the level of commitment or expectations that were required of me. Sometimes it happened in the work world (way back when), but even more so since I have been a SAHM.

You already know my feelings about the way I think we overdo sports for kids. (The World Has Gone Mad) And there really are SAHMs out there who take everything they do to super levels.  (She Can Do It All..) I’ve been involved in PTO at multiple kids’ schools, and let me tell you, some of the PTO Moms could take over Major Corporations and take them to a WHOLE new level. In doing so, they commit themselves totally to the role in the PTO and forget that others may not be willing or able to do the same.

And I’ve been involved in other organizations recently that also expected serious – and very  specific levels of – commitment. Every time I would get overwhelmed and frustrated in any of these realms, I would automatically default to venting about how it was TOO MUCH or the expectations were RIDICULOUS.  My level of stress always became someone else’s fault.  And while it may be true in some cases that moms/parents have taken the levels of expected involvement (their kids’ and their own) to over-the-top levels, I realized that the real problem wasn’t always them. Sometimes it was me.

My stress threshold may be a tad bit lower than a lot of other people.  I get stressed OUT and require venting a lot quicker than a lot of other people (especially moms) that I know. The time, commitment and stress level involved that it takes to achieve an award-winning PTO is just simply a bit over of my acceptable threshold. (This is not meant to come across as me “bashing” myself.. I have my strengths, we all do. This is also not to say that I can’t handle a fairly big load of responsibility or stressful situations. I can. But I have come to recognize where my stress threshold is, and I know that it isn’t high enough to ever be the PTO President. Nor do I want to be. And I’m OK with that.)

As a Southern girl, I’m a pleaser. ~ A yes girl. ~  I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings or let anyone down. While I embrace that part of my character – and it serves me (and others) well in many circumstances, at times it takes its toll on me, too. The problem I have with myself in this scenario is that – in the past when I felt the pressure – my natural inclination was to resent the people around me who seem to be handling more than I can.. or that I want to handle.  At some point in my motherhood (much like my “a-ha” yoga moment), I realized that I could not control everyone else’s expectations of me or change how much anyone else is willing to do, but instead I could work on getting to know (and get comfortable with) my limits.  I can be OK with the fact that I’m not willing to sacrifice my life and sanity to my (or my kids’) extra curricular  activities **, while not being bitter that others around me may be hoping for me to join them in their trip to the loony bin. Figuring out how to be involved within the confines of my comfort zone (not theirs) is the tricky part, but I’m getting there.

So here’s another area of life where I’ve been striving to find some balance… between that giving, want-to-be-able-to-do-it-all, yes girl – and the girl who is well-adjusted and self-aware enough to know when to say no. And be OK with it.

I realized this fact last year, and I made the decision to be ok with giving only what I was comfortable with.. even if it wasn’t as much as someone else was able to do (or expected me to do). And yes, even when I that means I have to walk away and focus my efforts in other places.

So I resigned a couple of my positions. Without feeling anything negative at all.  I found that “place” inside myself where I realized I wasn’t doing anyone any good “helping” when it prevented me from doing any aspects of my life well.

I’m working on getting more comfortable with approaching projects and volunteer work with an attitude of “This is how much of my time and energy I am able/willing to give to this particular thing. If that works for others or is helpful to them, then I’m happy to be part of it. If they need/want more than I can give while maintaining a semi-sane state of motherhood, then I’m out.”

It’s that simple. Or, at least, it should be.

If it hurts, don’t do it. Let go of expectations. Let go of judgment. Let go of competition. Ignore your ego. Dismiss your expectations. Embrace your limitations.

Identifying and accepting each of our own personal limits WITHOUT resenting others for not conceding to our limits takes constant work – for me.  — And here I thought that the physical limits were the hard part of growing up.  My arthritic back, failing memory and saggy skin have nothing on my attempts to get to know and accept my personal limits. So, I guess the newest addition to my “MORES”  is: making friends with my physical AND personal limitations – getting comfortable with them, so they work FOR me, not against me .

Just to be clear – making friends with my saggy skin is my least favorite on the list. I really wish my “Saggy” would just move out of the neighborhood, so I wouldn’t have to work so hard to befriend her.

*  Ironically, my back has gotten worse since quitting yoga.. even WITH PT.

** And I owe my kids better than a stressed out, over-committed mom.

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.

I Think My Mind May Be Losing to The Motherhood..

— Or maybe I’ve already lost my mind?!

So, I’m doing pretty well right now at maintaining the “mores” in my life, and I’m steadily working on my goals. The home organization projects are continuing (and being maintained), I’ve read 2 books already in 2012 (that’s a lot for me!); I have some volunteer opportunities in motion; I’m getting back in a regular exercise & yoga routine. Had a great date night with my husband and friends this weekend (lots fun and dancing!). I even managed to make (and keep) a hair appointment, and have lunch with my sister!  {Yo-God, Lunch date with my sister, and a haircut all in one day was like a mini-vacation all in 6 hours! Aaaahhh.}

The point here is that – for the time being – I’m managing to find a decent (though delicate) balance between my motherhood and the “mores” in my mind.

It’s my actual mind that I can’t seem to find. Or at least the part that remembers anything. Some recent examples of what I’m talking about:

  1.  I forgot that I had a pot of red beans cooking on the stove and burned them. Burned — As in, scorched beyond being able to salvage anything. (If you aren’t familiar with the Louisiana/Mississippi tradition of Monday Red Beans and Rice, you can find a good recipe here.)
  2. When trying to sign in for my Yo-God class (Yoga with purpose: an alternative to mind/body classes) and couldn’t find my name on the list. Turns out that the letter M – with which my last name starts – comes after the letter K. Momentary loss of alphabetical order.)
  3. I paid $20.00 for monthly fitness class, but when I logged my payment I wrote $2.00. It had to be pointed out to me by the kind lady that was standing next to me. (I guess that third zero was too much for my mind to handle.)
  4. I lost my sunglasses.. looked for them for at least 15 minutes ALL over the house, dumped out my purse, scoured the car, only to discover that I had actually put them in their case. Where they belong. And didn’t remember doing so.
  5. Forgetting that I put someone on hold to catch another line.. after hanging up the second call, the phone rings back to me and I act surprised, because I forgot that we had been on the phone in the first place.
  6. Conversations with friends have been a bit tricky lately, not due to lack of making it a priority, but more due to the fact that I  have trouble finding the right words and just blank out in the middle of a sentence while my brain tries to reach back and retrieve it.
  7. During a conversation with my husband about a potential volunteer position that would require me to give people tours, he (lovingly) giggled at me and asked if I thought I would be able to regain the ability to use complete and coherent sentences by then.

I’m sure there are many other examples (probably even better ones), but ironically, I can’t remember them. Yep. It’s bad.

I used to have a fairly high functioning brain. I was by no means MENSA – ever – but I was in the gifted program in my early school years, followed by Advanced Placement classes in high school. Although, I will readily admit that I was far too focused on social things and breezed right through school making B’s with little to no effort, so I doubt I impressed anyone as being overly intelligent at that stage in life, either. It’s a shame, really, that I didn’t use it while I had it, because it’s almost certainly gone now.

Over the last few years, I have developed a theory about why this happens. With each childbirth a piece of the brain is sucked out and a portion of the oxygen flow to the remaining brain is cut off. – So the kids did this to me, right? I seem to be on a roll lately with blaming them for things. –  The biggest hole in my “blame it on child-birth” theory is that my grandmother gave birth to 10 children, worked as a pharmacist, owned and ran her own business 7 days a week**, and still managed to speak in intelligent/coherent sentences. I’m certain there were many times in her motherhood that she “lost it”. Maybe even daily. However, when the kids were grown and on their own, and I was in the picture, she always came across as an intelligent, well-informed woman. – So, maybe by the time the kids are out on their own our brains will recover?!  At least, partially? If indeed we are able to recover some of the function in our minds when the kids are grown and gone***, then maybe I am wrong in blaming it on child-birth.

If it is a temporary state (which I hope and pray is the case), possibly the root of the problem is steeped in something else. – Perhaps, it’s overload. We’re overloaded. — Trying to remember the multitude of daily action items and planning ahead, even just the items for the kids.. well, it’s exhausting and overloading our brains.   Add on trying to fit in the “mores” into your motherhood’s massive and constant to-do list; something’s got to give. Apparently, for me, it was my ability to remember to zip my pants, call my kids by the right name, and how to spell my own.

– And have you ever noticed that the Dads, even the best and most involved of them, don’t seem to have this problem? What is that? Not fair.

I had a conversation with my husband and a friend of his along this subject a while back. We sat peacefully in the living room while all 3 kids were out and about playing with friends in the neighborhood. We were in the midst of a real, deep and philosophical conversation. It occurred to me that I almost NEVER get to have conversations like that… and moreover, that they regularly do. It also occurred to me that they were sitting there able to throw their whole mind into that conversation without another thought in the world. And that they had probably been able to think about the topics we were covering before and actually form an opinion based on something other than an initial reaction.

As for me? Not so much. I shared with them that while we are sitting and talking, my brain is also running a million other thoughts through it. It didn’t seem fair that I didn’t have the luxury of turning the rest of the world off. “Because if I did, who would be concerned with the fact that the 7 year old (who has no boundaries and very little impulse control) was running around between the neighbor’s trampoline and the pond, and I needed to be watching and listening. And where is the oldest who rode his bike down to the basketball court with friends? Should I be checking on his whereabouts? And is the third one over-staying her welcome at a friend’s house? And what activities do the kids have tomorrow that will require me to make sure that a uniform is clean? Did I sign everyone’s school planners on Friday and am I supposed to be sending anything in to school tomorrow that will need preparation? And what am I going to feed this house full of people tonight? And tomorrow is grocery day; I haven’t made a list.. do we need toilet paper…”  with each additional item that came out of my mouth their mouths fell open a little more. When I was finished with the list (can it really ever be finished?) my husband’s best friend looked at me with a bewildered expression and said, “You’re really thinking about ALL of that?! Right now? All at once?”

Yes. All of it. All the time. No wonder my brain pushes out the simple things like an insignificant little zero. And it’s this way for Moms everywhere.  (Or at least I like to think so. If it’s not, please don’t tell me.)

A little while back I was in a class at church, and the presenter was telling us about a book,  Men Are Like Waffles–Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences by a husband and wife team. I have to admit that I have yet to actually read the book myself, so I can’t tell you what this whole “delighting in our differences” business is, but in the brief overview of the book I did gain some valuable understanding of the difference.

The premise of the book is that a man’s brain is very much like a waffle with individual boxes or compartments. In each square of the waffle is ONE and only ONE thing. (Can you imagine that, ladies?!) Each square has little walls like a waffle’s squares, so nothing can seep over into another square. Everything is compartmentalized.

They have a square for work and a square for tinkering in the garage and a square for the TV remote and a square for the house budget. They have a square for each of their emotions/feeling and a square for each of their hobbies and a square for sex (I would bet there are multiple sex squares.. maybe even, every other one), and actually even a square for nothing.

They can actually sit in their “nothing” square and think of nothing. So when they look all lost in some deep thought, and we look at them wonder what is going on in their minds, then ask and get the answer “nothing”… well, while we can’t believe that this could be true, it might actually be the case!?!  All the many times I’ve gotten my feelings hurt and felt that he didn’t want to share his feelings with me.. and all along he really COULD have been thinking about nothing?!   Huh.

On the flip side, this book’s theory maintains that us girls.. well, we have a big blob of over cooked and sticky spaghetti  in our heads. Each strand for one thing, but all intertwined and impossible to separate without tearing it all up. It’s all connected. With buttery glue. And Parmesan cheese.  And extremely difficult to separate. And I would bet there isn’t a single spaghetti noodle for “nothing”.  – The book surmises that this is why we are typically better at multi-tasking than men.  (Overview of the book found here.)

I surmise from this that the most used spaghetti strands are the ones that grow the longest/strongest and have begun to strangle the lesser used  (or lesser significant) ones.. you know the ones that remember that there are three zeros in $20.00 or that M comes after K in the alphabet.

While admittedly, I’m a huge pasta fiend, I wouldn’t mind having a little more waffle in my life – and my head. Waffles are good. Especially all drowning in syrup. (See, even waffles aren’t just waffles in a woman’s brain.)

* Please tell me I’m not wrong in my assumption that this is normal for a ~40 year old mom who is beginning mental-pause!?

** Along with my grandfather, who would tell anyone who would listen that she was the brains and the muscle behind their business. He was the smiling face behind the counter.

*** I will not be sad. I will not be sad. Repeat it with me and just maybe it will be true. I will NOT be sad.

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