If We Are Lucky: Another Post About My Mom

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Emily and I circa 1995

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”

– Elizabeth Stone

 

Recently, I went to pluck my four year old sweet boy out of bed. Upon entering his room, I heard the sweetest words that have ever been spoken.

“Mom, I’m pretty lucky to have you as a Mommy, right?”

Now, please. Don’t take this as a pat on my own back. Indeed I would like to think my children feel fortunate to have me as a mother. But, for some reason, as soon as I heard those words, I thought this.

I’ve taught him what being fortunate is. I’ve taught him that not everyone has the same people and things. I’ve taught him that the people in your life that you love need to be told. More than we remember to tell them.

I have been hugging my little people closer and cuddling with them longer ever since my oldest niece, Emily, went to study abroad in Australia. As proud and as excited I felt myself being for her, I had an outpouring of sympathy for my sister in letting her go.

My sister and I both studied abroad in college and remember well how we needed to get away, soak up the experience, the culture and the people. She went to Vienna, I went to London. Our trips abroad were a decade apart but had the same function.  Independence. Adventure. Freedom.

Then why did I find myself feeling so scared, so nervous, so sad about my niece going off to Australia? Why did I find myself crying to this song during naptime the day she left? Why did I feel so gosh darn sentimental about finding the picture at the head of this post recently?

Because now I am a Mom. And now a trip abroad is much, much more than just a rite of passage in college. It means that my sister’s heart will be walking on the outside of her body for a stint of six months— on another continent.

When I exchanged texts with my sister about how emotional she was that day, I commented, in jest: “At some point or another, we all turn into Mom.” The subtext was: Mom cried at everything, Mom had trouble letting us go. Mom was always so sappy about leaving us.

But it’s her quick response back that I will always remember (and what even brings tears to my eyes right now).

“If we are lucky.”

And that’s it, right? This blog has been nothing if not one large apology to my mother. Through my own experiences with my children, I have seen that my mother is the sole reason I am able to be the sweet, loving, encouraging person I am. She is the person behind those words that Parker said a couple mornings ago. He is lucky to have me because I was so lucky to have her.

Eventually, I want to write a book about my Mom, so I won’t give you any spoilers but one thing that has always amazed me about her is that her own mother left her when she was just four years old. Meaning, essentially, that everything she did with us and for us was—- winging it. She did not have her own model, her own blueprint of the person she has turned into. She was the mother she wanted to be possibly because she knew what she might have wanted as a child.

And upon realizing this, I have become the most weepy of Mommies lately. Whether it’s the new book I’m reading (which is introduced in a video here) or the fact that I have not seen my mother in much too long (since Christmas). Or just the idea that eventually my little girl will take off on her own adventure to a far away land and I will be on the phone to my sister about it, reliving this feeling.

If we are lucky, we have families (not just mothers or sisters or children) that hold us tight and help us remember who we are and where we came from. If we are lucky, we can joke about the faults (or peccadilloes, we’ll call them) of our mothers as fluidly as we joke about the faults of our friends. If we are lucky, we have a friend or a sister or a mother to call when we fill out Kindergarten paperwork, or college applications or passport paperwork to say, “Can you believe it’s already time for this?” If we are lucky, we have photos and cards and stories and videos that remind us again and again that we are lucky, we are rich and we are blessed to have people to share the crazy experience that has never been better described as your heart walking outside of your body.

 

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#JugglingCircusMom: My Awkward Moment at Target

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Like Murphy’s Law, my reign as #ninjamommy has come to a very abrupt end. While I do feel like I have been a #zombiemommy at times. I also would like to introduce you to #jugglingcircusmommy. She probably needs very little introduction. Juggling Circus Mommy mysteriously keeps all balls in the air. She seems like an optical illusion. She is amazing. She is strong. She is ever-so-efficient. But, unfortunately, jugglingcircusmommy has no idea whether she is coming or going. She is a little confused, frazzled and quite obviously overwhelmed. She takes on more things to juggle with aplomb but often seems like she it teetering, just on the edge, of losing all of it. She’s a circus act. In every sense of the expression.

And with that allusion, I bring you my story that will be called going forward: My Awkward Moment at Target.

I wasn’t even wearing red. I was wearing pink. I was feeling blissful and rebellious. I had fulfilled all my lunch and dinner making responsibilities for the day– even got in a workout– and was delighting in the wonder of a trip to Target alone. Meaning by myself. Meaning my kids were at home. Oh they weren’t alone, my husband was there. But I was alone. Did I mention I didn’t have my kids with me?

And like all funny and terrible stories start– that’s when a lady I can only refer to as Blind- like really blind-lady, “where are the sweatshirts?”

I blinked at her and paused ever so slightly. She could not be implying that me, standing there looking at workout pants– me, who just juggled myself through a horrendous day—me, who was wearing PINK could possibly look like a Target Team member.

She COULD NOT be implying that the woman who had wiped butts, made lunches, tutored kids, graded papers, led discussions, sent professional and eloquently worded emails, shuffled children and attempted to potty train a two year old all-in-one-day could possibly look like she had a second job in retail?

Really, lady? Really?

I saw the look in her eyes. You obviously have a sloppy cart and an almost red shirt and an all business look about you— so you must work at Target. She followed up with the classic, “Wait you don’t work here?” The sting of imminent tears tugged gently, followed by the instinctual desire to make a joke of what just happened. But I was not ready to laugh about it. Not at all. It took the whole rest of the shopping trip and my ride home to assuage my complete (and—I realize— irrational) anger. Knowing I shouldn’t marinade in these feelings, I texted a friend. While I know she had a good laugh, she also was able to agree with me in thinking that this woman must have been completely crazy and possibly a little bit color blind. Because, well, that’s what good friends do.

Please don’t misunderstand. Being mistaken as a Target salesperson is not the ultimate insult. I have worked my fair share of retail (Welcome to the Gap!) and food service (“Iced grande non-fat caramel macchiato for BILL!”) jobs. But, on this particular day, at this particular time, I just wanted to be a Working Mom by herself at Target.

There’s a backstory here. As there always is. Minutes before my unfortunate Target encounter, I had confided in another Mommy friend through text how conflicted I was feeling about my return to working out. I have relished in my time at the gym or a spin class after work while I knew my kids were playing hard on the playground. Taking the extra time for myself is both unnatural and at the same time glorious. Wouldn’t a good Mom rush to get her kids? (Answer: Never ask any question where you are trying to categorize what a good Mom and a bad Mom do) Have I undone all the quality time spent this summer by just a few weeks at work? (Another ridiculous question, shut up) Are people in my spin class wondering where my kids are while I just exercise as if I am a single woman with no obligations? (Now this is just pathetically vain– because how would they even know you have kids?)

Guilt as a Mom is at the same time the most frequent feeling and the most useless. But peel back the pluck of any poised and put together Mom and you see it. Big. Fat. Guilt. Glaring at you, with yogurt around its mouth, and unfolded laundry strewn about its feet. Big, looming Grade A, top of the line–guilt. The kind only a jugglingcircusmom can understand.

I dedicate this blog post to all of you who juggle. To the stay/work at home Moms, the working Moms, the stepmoms, the foster moms, the like a moms and the in place of Moms, I salute you. May you never have a woman at Target who makes you unintentionally feel crappy. May you be able to juggle without dropping a ball, and if you do drop a ball, I hope you have a slew of friends on speed-text to cheer you up. And when you get sick of the juggling, sick of the tug of war between laughing and crying, I hope you remind yourself that if you weren’t worried about being a good Mom, you wouldn’t be there here juggling to begin with.

Juggle on, Circus Mom. I see you. You’re awesome at juggling, awesome at multitasking, awesome at laughing at yourself and more than awesome at being a Mom. So don’t let anyone (even a lady at Target) tell you different.

FYI Moms: We are in this together

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FYI Moms: We are in this together

Wow. I have never seen blog banter like I have the past few days. And like any shameless, opinionated blogger, I feel the need to weigh in.

But I’m not going to give you my take on whether teenage girls need a little education in social media or whether boys can only think of towel-clad girls after seeing such in photos. I will say this: all of these Moms are saying essentially the same things. To save you time from reading blog post after blog post, I have summarized them for you here:)

Dear Teenage Sons and Daughters of America,

Here’s a list of lessons I have gleaned from a set of blog posts from some very loving, thoughtful and respectable Moms. They have had a LOT to say, but I just gave you the bullet points here.

Respect yourself. And respect me enough to understand that some things I tell you won’t make sense until you are older.

Express yourself, just maybe not in a public forum or text or email via photograph. Choose wisely.

Don’t think a photograph represents everything you could possibly learn about someone. Or—don’t let a photograph be the exclusive reason you are attracted to any one person. I hope you like his/her personality, sense of humor, mind, values, etc.

Make mistakes and fix them. If you lose people along the way because of your mistakes and can’t mend the relationship, they probably weren’t worth it anyway.

Attention from your peers be they romantic, affectionate or something more is something every teenager wants. You just have to choose what type of attention you want to trump all others. You have many amazing traits and talents that have nothing to do with how you look, just so you know.

Protect your reputation. On your worst days, it’s all you’ve got. People will tell you to “live your life without regret” or “don’t care what anyone thinks.” These are things that people say who have a lot of regret and who also happen to care a lot about what people think.

If you see a girlfriend, sister or brother selling themselves short, in any way, clue them in.

Love yourself first. Don’t let any number of likes you receive on a photo be the metric of your worth.

If you are having a day when you are not loving yourself, call a friend, a brother, a sister or your Mom and Dad. Or anyone who you know will always love you unconditionally.

Don’t ever do whatever you call that thing Miley Cyrus did. Just don’t. Like ever. I mean it.

Beware of any man that talks about blurred lines. All boundaries having to do with you and your dignity should have very precise, crystal clear lines.

Remember who you are without having to look at a Facebook profile or Twitter handle for help. Know what you stand for in your real life face to face relationships. Because those are the only ones that will really ever matter.

And, while you’re at it– make sure you thank your mother for the 76 blog posts she read and commented on deliberating what were the most important values to instill in you. Because, she, like every Mom, wants the best for you and the people you may choose to love someday.

Guest Post: 10 Steps to Driving Your Mother Absolutely and Totally Bonkers

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This list is not for the faint of heart. It takes dedication and spirit to be this infuriating. But, in 10 easy steps, you can watch your mother have a thirty three year old version of a temper tantrum that is truly entertaining.

1. Saying “I’m thirsty” 127 times in a row. Before 7am. When I know she hasn’t even made coffee yet.

2. Planting my elbow/shoulder/knee somewhere- anywhere on her body so she yelps in pain.

3. Slowly. Doing. Anything. Especially when “someone” is in a bit of a rush.

4. Insisting on redoing something that really is ridiculous but playing like if you aren’t allowed to redo in, you might start foaming at the mouth.

5. Calling her back into my bedroom not once but about seven times by saying,”I just want to tell you something.” Stretches out pre-bedtime unnecessarily. One of my favorite hobbies.

6. Repeating the word she said in a hushed whisper under her breath and shouting it. “GOD DAMMIT!” That will teach her.

7. Effectively repeating Mommy so many times that she locks herself in the bathroom and said she needs “privacy” (aka Oreos).

8. Learning the way around her pathological lying. When she says the donut place “doesn’t have donuts today,” I like to make statements that will really just make her feel super guilty. “I wonder if the children in that car got the last donuts?” Do you like your coffee served with a side of lifelong resentment, Mom? I thought so.

9. Realizing that we FORGOT to do the one thing we SAID we would do at the beach/mall/playground/museum/ pool and have a nuclear meltdown. It really helps seal the deal when she gets all “I’m an amazing Mom” at the end of an outing.

10. Dumping out a bin of toys. And then promptly leaving the room and not playing with one of said toys. Not. Even. One.

If you have any questions, or need help in driving your mother bonkers, just message me here. Mom is pretty good about passing along my messages.

20 Reasons My Toddler is Losing His or Her Mind

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Okay, so I totally stole this from these Daddy blogs here and here. But, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The summer schedule has been great. The lazy mornings, the sandy feet naps and sunscreen greased pigtails. Popsicles, ice cream cones and S’mores. My kids are having the best summer ever and I think some of the credit goes to their dear old Mom here. After all, if I still am able to organize craft and story time after seeing each of them, on a daily basis, lose their mind over various not-really-apocalyptic events, I think I deserve a great, big, sparkly gold star. And a hot bath. And a pedicure.

Reasons my Toddler is Losing His or Her Mind.

1. I have mentioned that hot dogs are for dinner and he does not eat hot dogs, he only eats hot dog buns.

2. He’s NOT TIRED and I have implied, said, thought, or looked at him in a way that has indicated that I think that he could possibly be— tired.

3. I’ve asked her not to take her diaper off after she poops.

4. I did not “catch the bubbles” that he blew over my head.

5. I would not let her bring her wet towel to bed with her.

6. He pushed his straw into his juice box and can’t get it out.

7. His sister ate the breakfast that he didn’t want that has been sitting at the table for the past two hours.

8. I am not able to pick up the toy he dropped and know exactly where it is on the floor while I am driving the car.

9. The restaurant we went to “just ran out” of chocolate milk.

10. I am not able to dice up his waffle 3.4 seconds after putting it onto the plate in front of him.

11. I did not let her hold the entire bag of chips as she took a bite of each chip and put it back.

12. I got sunscreen in his mouth when he shook his head while I was applying it.

13. I’ve mentioned a word that rhymes with, has the same connotation as or somehow implies the word “nap.”

14. I won’t let him bring the Ipad in the shower.

15. I am trying to put pigtails in her hair.

16. I keep switching her shoes from the wrong feet to the right feet.

17. I won’t let her put on a hooded sweatshirt on a 98 degree day.

18. I won’t let her play with Windex.

19. I’ve mentioned the word “banana” and HE DOESN’T LIKE BANANAS!

20. I’ve asked if maybe he would like anything other than a butter sandwich on the beach.

 

If you have any reasons YOUR toddler is losing his or her mind, feel free to comment below!

 

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Reasons I Will Not Sell My Daughter to the Gypsies (Today)

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Reasons I Will Not Sell My Daughter to the Gypsies (Today)

1. I would miss her sweet little voice saying “No, no, noooooo!” when I ask her to give me a kiss while we are cuddling in bed in the morning.

2. She’s not potty trained. That would be a bummer for gypsies to steal diapers from other Moms. That ain’t right.

3. She probably didn’t mean to bite me on our bike ride today.

4. I don’t want Parker to be an only child. Read: I’m not having any more kids- no way, no how.

5. She looks cute when she’s sleeping. She makes you forget that you had to basically body check her into her car seat on three occasions that day.

6. She will probably remember her Dad and miss him when she is living the gypsy life.

7. In keeping her, 50% of my children will actually eat dinner each night. Without her, 0% of them will. Numbers don’t lie.

8. She will probably grow out of the nose picking phase.

9. My Mom said I had it coming. Time to pay the piper.

10. Who will I paint my toenails with?

Oh, okay. I’ll keep her. But, in case you are wondering, I am not the only one who considered this avenue in parenting. I don’t have to post on anonymous message boards though– I’ll come right out and say it!

If you have any gypsy/ children stories, please share. Especially if you actually sold your kids and then wanted them back, I’m sure it happens all the time.

Friday’s Toddler Talk: Listening to Your Headvoice

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Having a full week off for the recent holidays with two toddlers should have really been a blessing. But, with sickness, bad weather, holidays, a revision of bedtimes and naptimes (Parker started sleeping in!) and all-too-much-together-time, I was exhausted by the amount of discipline I was dishing out. We did a marble jar, rewards, movies, took away toys (fake phone call to a parent where I said I was bringing over Parker’s Christmas presents) and threatened with the ever so cliche, “Santa Claus is watching and is putting you on the naughty list for next year.”

In today’s post, I’d like to introduce you to Headvoice. Headvoice is something we all have. You know, that uber awesome Mom that operates in your head, always correcting your bad Mommy behavior and telling you “what good Moms” do. Headvoice has been living up in your melon since the first time you ate a hot dog while you were pregnant. Or drank diet soda. Or washed your hot dog full of sulfites down with your diet soda full of Nutrasweet. You ignored Headvoice at times (Screw her!) and other times you let her win (Me? I guess I’ll have a salad). But no matter how much you silence her or allow her to vent, she is always there.

Once in a while you help to drown out your friend’s Headvoice. Good Mommy friend at work shares that she turned the monitor off and went back to sleep the night before and you cheer her on—and you do it LOUDLY. “Don’t feel bad. Don’t feel guilty,” you say. You then maybe share some other Mommy mistake you made as a tit for tat. “I zipped up his penis in his feety pajamas.” (True story). Where Headvoice can be a total bitch, your friends can be understanding and ease your guilt. And maybe help you laugh at yourself.

The Problem: All of these things, as resourceful and humorous as they may be have a terrible way of making you feel like a very, very bad Mom who is doing a very, very bad job. You are embarrassed of how fresh/bold/angry/defiant your kid gets and think it directly reflects upon you. And, well it does. If by reflect you mean that it makes every ounce of blood in your body boil, then yes, that kid is reflecting all over you. Be careful.

The Solutions That Don’t Work:

Guilty Rewards: Guilt never produces anything positive. Gifts from guilt, apologies from guilt and food given out of guilt never has true happy results. Headvoice makes sure that guilt begets more guilt. “You’re doing all that cuddling because you feel bad for yelling, you know.” Anything a Mom does out of guilt is tainted as if to say, “I’m doing this because I really suck at that other thing.” You admit your own defeat.

Blaming Your Spouse: About the only time you listen to Headvoice loud and clear is when she points out that the crime of your toddler is not to be attributed to you but to your husband. You go along with this plan because blaming is part of marriage. Now you have two responsible adults arguing over why you should not flavor milk with orange Mio for your child’s cereal (True story, AGAIN) and really, now, the toddler has now formed a team with the Headvoice and they are just going to take over the liveliehood of the entire family. Don’t. Fall for it.

Going Apeshit: Do temper tantrums work for your three year old? Do you need to be reminded they don’t work for you? Yes, you do. Headvoice is all over it. Are you happy now?

Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater: When bad behavior rears it’s ugly head, you often want to take away every-toy-on-the-face-of-the-planet and tell your child he is going-to-his-room-and-never-coming-out. Be careful how far you go with your threats. Like the aforementioned Going Apeshit, giving yourself no future carrots to offer for good deeds kind of paints you into a corner (Are you fed up with the metaphors yet?). In other words, don’t be the parent that tells them they are never going sledding again for the rest of their whole life (true story, I can’t make this stuff up) because next time they go sledding on a nice snowy sunshiney day they are thinking— “Remember when this schmuck said we would never do this again? What a pushover.” Enjoy everything in modertation. Even discipline, my friends.

The Solutions That Work and Are Foolproof:

Uhm…

 

….well, do YOU know any?

 

I guess where I arrive is the fact that we all have Headvoice—and this Headvoice is not just a Mommy voice, it can be the voice you hear when you spend money, yell at your husband, forget to call your mother back or any time you doubt yourself.

We doubt ourselves more often than we should- as mothers, as working mothers, as stay at home mothers, as wives, as daughters, sisters, friends. We give Headvoice time to speak and soon are feeling the effects on our self esteem. Every doubt is a chink in the armor of a Mom.

So, I encourage you to mute your Headvoice. Get back to being the Mom you are, not thinking about the Mom you are not. Think about the things that drive you crazy about your own mother— your kids will have the same list (okay, maybe a bit longer). But what they will cherish more of the times you were sure of yourself in your parenting. The times you did not waver, did not stray from your beliefs as a parent. The times you “stuck to your guns” and were the Mom that Headvoice never tells you you are: a good one.

And it’s important to remember– even through the tears and tantrums— that the fact that Headvoice does pipe in now and again means that you are a good Mom who only wants to be the best for your kids. And no Headvoice or real voice could argue with that.