Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Importance Of Sunhats and Bacon

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Memories

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I’m eight and a half months pregnant. It’s the end of June and it’s hot. I alternate between sitting in our small 3rd floor apartment in front of a fan and driving to air-conditioned places. Lately these places have been stores…Target, malls. I am on a quest for a floppy, white, cotton, baby, sunhat. For some reason, this has become all-important. I can’t rest until I find this item. It’s my Holy Grail. Fear of the unknown and this huge upcoming change in our lives has morphed into the need for this little sunhat. It seems to be the one solid thing I can focus on right now. Making sure this little baby has a sun hat will make me a good mom; I’m convinced of this.

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I have always wanted to travel to Africa. I find a volunteer organization that places people in Tanzania and send for information. Somehow this leads to me signing up for this trip! How did this happen? I’m so excited though. I find skirts and flip-flops and special heavy-duty bug spray. I plan and plan. I write out my boys’ schedules and have back up people for every eventuality. I am leaving things well-organized. The week before I am scheduled to leave for three weeks, I go grocery shopping. As I wander down the aisles, my eyes begin to tear. What the heck is going on here? I am holding back a big, messy cry. I end up at the meat display and begin filling my cart with burgers, pork chops, chicken, sausages and bacon. All of a sudden I feel that stocking my freezer with meat is the most important thing ever. What if I die? What if I never make it back from Africa? Well at least my family will have meat. This makes no sense what so ever but I feel a little bit less panicked now.

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I did find the perfect sunhat and I’m sure it made all the difference in my parenting skills! I also did make it back from Africa safe and sound. The freezer was still stocked with meat.

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How Do I Do This?

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In my last blog I said I think I read the wrong parenting books. I was joking, but as I think about it more, I really did. I needed some realistic, how in the world do I do this, advice. The kind you can only get from another parent who is in the same trench as you. I recently spoke to a woman who shared a story about when her child was born and the photographer came into the hospital room. He asked her husband and her if they wanted to change the baby’s outfit for the photo. They said, “Um-we don’t really know how to do that yet.”

That’s the kind of story I needed to hear as a new mom! I remember being so mad at a commercial where the new mommy was sitting in a rocking chair in the beautiful organized nursery, with hair and make-up done, looking happy and well rested as she gazed down on her little bundle of joy. The thing that pissed me off the most was that she had on a cozy, attractive bathrobe and (matching!) clean white socks.

My reality was more like–no shower in who knows how many days, hair sticking up all over, dirty nightgown, bare boob hanging out, and screaming bundle of joy who needed a diaper change.

None of us knew what we were doing, but somehow we started to figure it out and continue to do so.

Sometimes I just have to remind myself, on those tough days, to focus on the basics. These are the things I have learned so far, in my 15 years of being a mommy, that are the most important to me. So here’s my parenting book, in a nutshell…

Let your kids know you love them everyday

A hug, a hand on the shoulder, saying, “I love you”, or whatever works for you. Just let them know they are loved. All kids deserve this basic knowledge.

No hitting kids

We learned this in preschool and I think it’s a lesson for the ages. There are so many better ways to teach kids to do the right thing. Having clear expectations and teaching kids that there are consequences for choices are important. Consequences should make sense though and hitting doesn’t.

Be consistent in trying to be consistent

This one is so hard for me! Some days it’s just exhausting to be consistent and follow through with things. We can only keep trying!

 Celebrate each child’s strengths and interests

It’s so easy to compare my boys, but all kids have their individual strengths and may need help discovering them sometimes. We can help them with this.

Let your child see you make mistakes

We all make mistakes and it’s important for our kids to see how we handle this. Do we get defensive and deny it or can we say we’re sorry and do better next time?

Let your child see you have emotions

It’s okay for our kids to see us cry or get angry sometimes. How we handle our emotions is what’s important.

Let your child have emotions

Kids should know that all emotions are okay.

Ask for help

Some kids are just more challenging and sometimes, as parents, we need help! Asking another parent or a pediatrician for support and resources has been a great place for me to start.

Laugh a lot

Sometimes I just have to find the humor in a situation! And if I can do something wacky like my terrible Chewbacca imitation to get everyone else laughing, all the better!

Model compassion

My kids do play war type video games and watch some R rated movies. We have just not been able to totally avoid violence in this way. But my kids also see how my husband and I try to treat others with kindness and compassion and expect the same from them.

Enjoy the little moments

It’s so hard to be in the moment sometimes when things are busy but I have really made an effort to do this lately. When one of my boys is sitting down on the couch talking to me, I close the laptop or my book and listen. They know how important they are to me and I can savor these important moments.

Give yourself a break

This is a freakin’ hard job sometimes! My dad always told me that I didn’t need to be an ‘A+’ parent every day. ‘C’ days are realistic and totally fine!

And remember, sometimes it’s okay to let the photographer change the baby’s outfit for you…

I Think I Read The Wrong Parenting Books…

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I think I read the wrong parenting books. What To Expect When You’re Expecting did NOT tell me that I would ever say the following to my 2 boys as they grew from toddlers to teens:

 

No letting your dinosaur eat a big hole in the window screen.

I don’t care HOW hungry he is!

 No sword fighting in the front yard with sharp metal shish-ka-bob skewers.

At least do it in the backyard so a passer-by doesn’t have to come tell me what you are doing!

No hiding on the roof for a game of hide and go seek.

I just thought that was a given! Apparently not.

No throwing little metal balls from some toy at the window.

Windows are made of glass! Glass breaks!

No standing in the toilet and flushing to see if you will spin around.

And why try to deny it when your brother tattles on you and you have soaking wet feet?

No carving your name in the windowsill.

Or after I caught you, carving your brother’s name in the furniture!

No eating bugs.

Is this like a right of passage for preschool boys?

No putting your tongue on cold metal outside in the winter.

I thought that watching “A Christmas Story” would be warning enough. I think it just gave them the idea.

 

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My Top 10 Mommy Confessions

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1. I don’t ever empty the clean silverware from the dishwasher.
It’s just a pain and I figure people can just grab what they need out of the dishwasher. My husband finally noticed this practice of mine after years of never being able to find a clean knife in the silverware drawer.

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2. Matching socks are overrated.
I don’t stress about having matching socks, but if for some crazy, cosmic alignment reason, my kids do have matching socks in the morning, it’s a party day. My husband recently got smart and bought 3 huge packs of the same white sport socks so it’s become a non-issue. Pretty brilliant if you ask me.
3. Sometimes the agreed upon “house rules” get broken when my husband is out of town for work.
For example, somehow the dogs are allowed on the couch now. And once in awhile a new pet such as a Bearded Dragon Lizard, Russian Tortoise or Guinea Pig shows up to join our family zoo. What can I say? When the cat’s away…

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4. My house is messy.
I admit that housekeeping is not my strength and there are often piles of laundry on my dining room table. HOWEVER, I once decided to hire a housekeeper and she left me a note saying my house was too messy to clean. Her partner had allergies and she asked if we could vacuum more often before they came over because of the pet hair. WHAT?
5. Romance has changed and I’m cool with that.
The last time my husband and I went on a “romantic get-away” we ate junk food and curled up in bed, reading and sleeping for the whole weekend.
6. I don’t call home.
When I go away for a girls’ weekend, I do not call home. I figure, what can I do? If there’s an emergency there’s 911. If it’s a non-emergency, than it will be handled. That’s why I went away. NOT to handle it.
7. I really hate my kids’ school events.
Terrible I know, but there you go!
8. I watch reality TV.
I recently watched a couple of seasons of Dance Moms and Toddlers in Tiaras. At first I felt like a relatively superb mom, but then I just felt like I was enjoying someone else’s train wreck!
9.  I keep a pretend therapy account open in my brain.
When I screw up with my kids I put money in their virtual therapy account and when I have a rockin’ good parenting moment I take some money out. I currently owe quite a bit!
10. I love traveling by myself.
I adore my family but I have traveled to Africa twice and there is something wonderful about stepping out of your roles for a little while. I was recently reading my journals from these trips and I wrote that I was experiencing “moments of pure happiness”. To go somewhere totally unfamiliar with people you don’t yet know is awesome. It’s a way to be a kid again and experience everything with fresh eyes.

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Helpers

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I’m feeling so sad. The tragedy in Boston really hit me yesterday. Sometimes the terrible things in the world just seem overwhelming. On Facebook there were many posts about Boston. One person made a joke that was pretty inappropriate and lots of people responded angrily. And then some people vehemently defended the first person. I guess we all handle feelings of fear and helplessness differently. Some of us joke, some of us get angry, and some get sad.

I read two quotes today that I am finding helpful. The first is by Glennon Melton of Momastery.com:

“When the world seems loud, we must be quiet. When the world seems evil, we must be good. When the world seems terrifying, we must comfort each other.”

I will keep this quote nearby today.

The second is a Mr. Rogers quote:

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This is a good reminder that when someone does something so utterly terrible, there are also so many people doing wonderful things. I will try to be a helper today, in whatever small ways I can. That’s all I can do. And in order to do this, I need to be brave and seek out my helpers too.

Just by reading this, you are some of my helpers. Thank you.

Filling My Bucket

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On a recent weekend morning, I got dressed and headed out to the grocery store. Then I sped home and put my pajamas back on, deciding that I just wasn’t ready to face the world yet. My bucket was empty. I really like the bucket analogy. We need to fill out bucket so that we can have enough energy for life. When my bucket is empty, I don’t have anything to give my students, kids, husband, friends, or anyone else.

So how do we keep our buckets filled? Here are some simple, realistic ways that I can remember to fill my bucket. It’s important to do little things like these frequently because once I let my bucket get totally bone-dry empty, it’s daunting to try to start filling it again.

  1. Spend some time writing in a coffee shop
  2. Laugh–about anything
  3. Go to a show, concert or play
  4. Spend time near water
  5. Browse in a bookstore
  6. Watch a good escape movie (Jurassic Park and Harry Potter are awesome)
  7. Listen to music
  8. Dance (not in public!)
  9. Go out for a really delicious meal
  10. Take a fun class
  11. Do some photography

It is not selfish to spend time filling my bucket. A full bucket lets me be my best, true self out there in the world.

How do you fill your bucket?

 

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Coma Fantasy

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“I’m having my coma fantasy again,” I say to one of my mommy friends.

“I have that one too,” she says.

It happened more when my kids were little and it was hard to find a moment to myself. But even though my kids are teenagers, there are still those days, and today is one of them. We’ve all been sick for a week and a half, I couldn’t sleep last night because I was busy coughing up a lung, my son is failing 7th grade, my house is a germ-filled disaster, and there is nothing to eat in the fridge. Work required a level of patience I just couldn’t muster this morning. So… coma fantasy. Just for a couple of days. Lying in a clean, white, quiet place while people take care of me.  And I don’t have to do a thing. I don’t need to be a grown up. I can just sleep.

And this fantasy totally beats the old “Calgon take me away!” line. There is not enough cleanser in the world to make my tub clean enough for me to sit in. Blech!