Category Archives: not on my “mother of the year” application

my day…on the half hour

I don’t have the energy to comment on my day, so I’ll just give you the “on the half hour” recap and let you interpret for yourself.  Here it goes…

12:30am…I’ve slept two hours straight…could be a good night…

1:30am…uh oh…awake, achy, sore & feeling fluish…I know this drill…Mastitis

2:30am…still awake, still feeling icky & now feeding a hungry H

3:30am…too uncomfortable to sleep… decide if I’m up, I should be productive so I start doing the dinner dishes  I had abandoned on the kitchen counter

4:30am…a break from dishes to change T’s diaper after a middle of the night poop and a half hour to get him back to sleep

5:30am…I fall asleep

6:30am…husband , H and I all awakened by E coming into the room; time to get the day started; hey, at least the kitchen is clean

7:30am…E is dressed, fed, her lunch has been packed, her coat and backpack are ready and she is headed out the door with dad who will drop her at school; I need to get the rest of the kids and myself ready because we leave in 20 minutes for my 8am dentist appt.

8:30am…I am at the dentist office, midway through my appointment.  Our babysitter is in the next room/lobby with three of the kids since that was the only way our timing/sitter logistics could work out today.  I am concerned she may begin screening my calls, since I can hear H screaming while she tries to help T change pants (because, of course, this was the day he wanted to wear big boy underpants for the first time ever…grand scheme-this is a good thing – HOORAY, T!!! – but my poor saint-of-a-sitter…I lugged a portable potty around all day, by the way…), while S is announcing over the din that the water won’t stop coming out of the water cooler and is that why T filled 4 cups of water without drinking any??? because she didn’t think we were allowed to do that…  I eventually left the chair and went to the lobby to help.  Dental bibs make pretty good nursing wraps, by the way…

9:30am…ignoring my cell phone ring as I drop S off to preschool half-an-hour late, then checking this voicemail in the parking lot, “Mrs. S?  This is X from the dentist office.  I believe you might have left a small toilet in our lobby.  Would you mind coming back to pick that up?  I’m so sorry we didn’t notice it before you pulled out of the parking lot.”

I’ll bet.

10:30am…at our weekly Wednesday playgroup,with our potty in tow.  T is ecstatic because playgroup is at the library’s storytime session, the book theme for the day is “dinosaurs” and – coincidentally – he has a dinosaur on his shirt.  (He did have dinosaurs on his pants too, but we left that pair at the dentist office)

11:30am…at the doctors, where I am officially diagnosed with Mastitis

(by the way, has anyone reading this post noticed that it’s only 11:30am at this point?!?!  I just had to highlight that for a second…I’ll get back on track now…)

12:30pm…at the pharmacy, picking up meds, which I realize I can’t take yet because I just had lunch they must be taken 2-3 hours after eating.  whoops.

1:30pm…arriving home after picking up S from preschool and realizing that I haven’t changed H’s diaper since we left the house at 7:45am this morning.  As luck would have it, I was unable to locate any diapers this morning other than T’s, so 4 month old H was wearing a diaper designed for a 2 year old.  Worked like a charm (though after almost 6 hours, I’m not sure which weighed more, H or the diaper he was wearing…)

2:30pm…helping everyone into coats in preparation for walking out to pick up E from the bus stop and finally getting to take my first dose of medicine, which will hopefully cure the Mastitis and all the flulike symptoms it has bestowed on me today…chills, aches, fatigue, the works!

3:30pm…snacks and stories with the kids after school…today’s picks: Little House on the Prairie (E),  Dr. Seuss (S) and Mo Willems (T) for mom to read, and a Magic Treehouse book that E reads to us as part of her homework each day

4:30pm…laundry during the kids’ “quiet time”, because we’re on our 4th pair of big boy pants already…

5:30pm…baths for everyone, because I was too tired yesterday (and the day before)

6:30pm…made and served dinner for everyone (except me, since it’s time for more medicine, which means I can’t eat for an hour).  Did I mention that I’m supposed to take these pills 4 times a day, always on an empty stomach, while nursing a newborn?!

7:30…big kids in bed, sort of…dinner for me…

8:30…E re-emerges; T starts hollering through his monitor that he needs a tissue, and H is ready for his dinner

9:30…blog post, then bed, because tomorrow there are 2 teacher conferences, a birthday party, choir practice, E’s weekly homework completion deadline, and Science night at her school…

Maybe they have a scientific sleep-study in need of participants!

Or maybe someone wants to research the societal reaction to the random scattering of small toilets throughout the community on a given day!

Either way, I’m in.

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“Does this mustache make me look distinguished?”

I don’t usually post full images of the kids, but since H is in disguise here…

-2

If you can’t see what I’m talking about, click the image to make it larger…

(I couldn’t resist!  We have to document the perils of having 2 older sisters!  : )

You’d think I’d be better at this by now…

More catching up from 2012…

In the last post I emphasized how excited we all were to meet baby H.  The kids were naturally excited, and we encouraged that, telling them all what great siblings they would be, how much the new baby would love them, showing them the ultrasound pictures, reading books about new babies, moving all the car seats around early (so no one felt displaced or relocated right after the baby was born), etc.  We heightened the excitement by telling them we thought the new baby might even bring them a present and by letting them place a hand on mom’s tummy to feel their new sibling give them a high five.

We thought we had done a pretty good job preparing them, until they all came in to meet baby H just hours after he was born.  The girls (ages 6 & 4) were thrilled to meet him and thrilled with their gifts – little wooden dolls they could cover in paint and glitter.  Both greeted their new brother then immediately started doing their designs on the couch of our room.

T (age 2) was also thrilled to meet his little brother and ecstatic over his present – a train named “Diesel 10”.  In fact, he was so excited about the gift that he actually wanted to call his new brother “Diesel” (which I thought was an awesome moniker, by the way…and the nurses told us since H was at least 2 lbs bigger than everyone else in the nursery, he would have been totally able to carry the name…)

Well, it was all going swimmingly until two year old T paused from his train play, walked back over to me to take another look at the new brother I was holding, and said,

“He’s so cute!  But where is his mom???”

Oops.

Cue the damage control monologue from me:

“Oh!  T!  Sweetie!  You know how I’m your mom and E’s mom and S’ mom at the same time?  Well, I’m his mom too!  I’m going to be everybody’s mom.  And, as your mom, I’m telling you that I love you so much! And now he loves you too!  Isn’t that good?!”

“Oh!” T says, totally taking that in stride (to my great relief).  And then he follows up with this…

“Guess what?! I brought the new baby a present!  It’s a choo choo…”

To which I respond, “T, that is SO NICE of you!  I see it!  It’s one of your choo choo’s!  And you’re going to share it with our new baby?! That is SO NICE!  He just loves it; will you show him how to play with it?  He’ll learn so much from you!”

To which T responds, “Yes!  I will!  And I really want him to have it! (and this next part said with such wonderful intent and complete pride in his generosity as a big brother… ) “You know, when he leaves the hospital, he can even take this train back to HIS house with him!!!”

Oops, again.

I guess somehow, in all the baby prep and high fiving and “you’ll be a great big brother!”, we neglected to state in a very pointed and specific way that the new baby would be coming back to our house and living with us.

Quite an oversight.

And while normally, there might have environmental cues for T (such as a crib for the new baby to sleep in our house…), the reality at was that we began a massive renovation just a few days after H was born (a month-long 3 room construction project).  In other words, while our hearts were completely ready for H, his room didn’t get built until many weeks after he was born!  Our environmental cues were all chaos, blueprints and contractors, with no sign of a crib!

Fortunately, T was ecstatic to hear that we got to keep the new baby at our house.  (Beyond ecstatic…jubilant!)

Whew.

Still, I am astounded that with all our baby prep, we never managed to convey specifically to T that I would be the new baby’s mother, and that the new baby would be coming to live in our house.

Don’t know how I missed that 2012 Mother of the Year title…

: )

Thank God for my wonderful, loving, open-armed (albeit unprepared-despite-my-best-efforts) kids.

DSC_0876

Why? Which character did you think I would be?

So my brain has been operating on a delay recently…

I could offer a litany of excuses: long-term sleep deprivation, pregnancy brain (I hear recent studies show it’s a real thing, you know…), an overwhelming end-of-school calendar, low iron-levels (which mean fatigue and slower cognitive function, apparently), or simply the one billion distractions that hit every day and cause me to lose focus on whatever task was supposed to be at hand…

What was I talking about again?

Oh, right…My brain…

Anyway, I asked my husband last week if he had noticed that my mental capacities seemed to be failing more often during these frenzied last few weeks of school.  He wisely responded, “That is a trick question that I refuse to answer.”

But kids will always tell you the truth, even when you don’t ask them.

Perhaps that’s why last week, after S had to remind me THREE times that I had been walking across the kitchen to get her drink out of the fridge

(seriously, three of those “What was I doing in the kitchen again?” moments within a span of ten minutes…)

Anyway, after she had to remind me three times that I had been walking across the kitchen to get her drink out of the fridge, I finally said, “I’m so sorry, S!  I think there’s something wrong with my brain today!”

To which she responded, “I know!  You’re like Dory from Finding Nemo!”

She then launched into the song from the Finding Nemo musical.  Dory sings,

I guess I should explain…
I got this problem with my brain…
Things get really scrambled in my head…
I have no short term memory…
I forget things almost instantly…
I’m not even sure what I just said…

La La La La La La La…

Can you imagine?!  With all our expertise in every princess and heroine to ever grace the pages of a storybook, I am most closely associated with the forgetful fish.

Oh well.  At least Dory is known for being positive through it all.  I’ll just try to focus on that part of it, and do a better job of emulating her cheery outlook.  How does her other song go, again?  That’s right…

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.  Everything will be ok…

I won’t eat it, and you can’t make me. (alternate title: photo of the week)

I call this photo: “I won’t eat it, and you can’t make me.”

Yes, he has THREE pacifiers in his mouth.

This was a failed attempt at going sans high chair.  He took one look at his plate, hopped up to get his pacifiers, then staged this little sit in. Of course, it was so cute that I couldn’t be too upset.  (His mama is a softie, after all!)

Two additional notes:

(1) We are back in the high chair now.  No more hopping up to get pacifiers at dinner.

and

(2) This is with ham, mashed potatoes, and bananas in front of him…all things he will supposedly tolerate.  You should have seen what happened when I added a green vegetable to his plate!

Love you, T.  Even when you spew half chewed peas onto my dinner : )

Maybe *I* am the Redneck Woman…(I do love the song!)

Yesterday, S found two single dollar bills and an unopened condom on the ground near our mailbox.

A deal gone bad? (rejected because of the low bid??)

I don’t know, but certainly an awkward pause from me as my 4 year old shared her discovery…

Also, a lot of handwashing after I realized she had picked up both bills…

Fortunately, we were all distracted from the discovery by three things:

(1) the letter in the mailbox to S from a friend at preschool (a teacher-initiated project…how fantastic is that!)

(2) the neighbor’s yardman, wielding a weed-whacker and wearing his headphones, all while belting “I’m a Redneck Woman” at the top of his lungs (sing it, buddy!)

and

(3) the bird that flew into the house during our quick trip to the mailbox, began panicking in the kitchen, and had to be shooed out after I opened all the kitchen windows and removed every screen (the bird has since abandoned the beginnings of the nest he was building on our front porch, which is truly disappointing…)

Did I mention that all of this happened before 8am in the morning?

Sometimes I really wish I drank coffee…

Thank goodness this question wasn’t on the exams for my teaching certification…

So I taught middle and high school, but am unable to help my five year old with her Kindergarten homework because the questions are clearly beyond what my intellect can handle.

This past week, E was assigned to visit two businesses and answer 5 questions about each.  The first question on the list was “Does this business provide a good or a service?”

Well, since we were going to Burger King for the free St. Patrick’s Day fries anyway, I thought that would be a great place to begin our research.

Of course, while we were there, it occurred to me that I have no idea whether Burger King provides a good or a service.

Fortunately, it also occurred to me that this was not my homework assignment.  So I asked E, “Burger King…good or service?  What do you think?”

Without batting an eyelash, she told me it depended on whether you went the drive-through (and left with a good) or ate inside (enjoying the service).

Booyah!  (Does saying that make me an obnoxious parent?  Do I seem less obnoxious if I admit that I don’t know if I spelled it correctly?  Maybe I should just say it differently…Here it goes…E came up with that answer all by herself while her mother stood in the corner trying to get the cobwebs off her cognitive brain function, and I think it was an excellent answer.  I admittedly know nothing, but it seemed thoughtful and it was hers, and I was very impressed!)

Anyway, since E’s response essentially turned a multiple-choice question into an essay, and she is just now learning how to write, she still faced additional challenges while completing the assignment.

Until she decided to step back and simplify.  Her answer to the question, “Did the business provide a good or a service?”  now simply reads, “Both”.

Whew.

Then onto the next business and its set of questions, which involved a special trip to Hallmark, where E and I chatted and toured with a wonderful employee while S & T had a fabulous time destroying the displays.  I wanted E to see Hallmark in particular since in the project’s final presentation, E has been assigned to “work” in a mock card store (while her classmates man other storefronts in their creative community and the parents use pretend money to purchase goods and services from the kids).   This occurs five days from today.

I am in so much trouble, because apparently the “real work” starts next year, when E enters first grade.

Notice that I said I’m in trouble, because clearly, E will be fine.

P.S.  I do realize that this post makes me seem like a bit of an idiot, but just to prove that I’m not completely brain-fried, know that this social studies website doesn’t know whether restaurants are providing goods or services either, listing “food” as an example of a good and “fixing you dinner” as an example of a service.  And yes, I do realize that posting this now makes me appear like an idiot and a nerd, but I’m over it.  I actually think this stuff is interesting and looked it up for my own edification, NOT for any conversations with E!

“Martyrmom”

So I have realized recently that I have a daily mothering M.O. that – while appearing selfless on the surface – is actually not good for me or for my family.

The M.O. is presenting myself as the mommy martyr. In practice this means putting someone else’s needs before my own, (possibly announcing to the family that I’ve done so…though not always), sighing, and then internally celebrating what a selfless mother I am.

Examples:

We’re having dinner, and after I’ve hopped up for the 15th time to get something for someone, a child asks for more milk. My response: “Yes, I’ll get you more milk, but I want you to realize that I haven’t even gotten to eat a bite of my own dinner yet”. Sigh. Steps to the fridge, pour the milk, martyr, martyr, martyr.

Or

“Yes, I’ll get out the tea set for you, but I want you to notice that I am cleaning up the whole house while you’re doing that, so I want no arguing about who gets which cup. Sigh. Clean. Martyr, martyr, martyr.

Or this could also apply in more adult situations.

At 5am, internally thinking, “I am exhausted, but I’ll get the baby, again.” Martyr, martyr, martyr.

I could list about 100 other examples: Sigh…I have too many family demands to go out tonight…I’m always taking the burnt piece of toast (I always just do this one, never announcing it)…etc, etc, etc, martyr, martyr, martyr…

I’m not saying all of these actions are bad. I love my family, and I love doing things for them. Also, I do think sacrifice is an important element of parenthood and that generosity is an important character trait. I also want to emphasize that my family is amazing: they appreciate and respect me, do their share (and more!) around the house, make sacrifices, and encourage me to live and follow dreams big and small. This is not about them.

Instead it is about recognizing that my own mentality and some of my words – at the dinner table, during cleaning hour, when I’m invited to do things outside the house, etc. – need an adjustment.

This recognition struck recently when I read a story that made me think about what I’m really doing when I continually present myself as a martyr to the family.

I haven’t been able to find the story since (I’ll post an update if I find it…) but it goes something like this…

There is a mother on her deathbed who realizes that she has sacrificed everything about herself to devote herself to her husband and children. Instead of the expected celebration of the selfless mother content with her life of service and devotion, the story presents the mother as one overwhelmed with regret. Paraphrasing as best I can remember, the mother laments that by always putting herself last she “made myself resentful, taught my daughters they weren’t worthy of respect and taught my sons to treat their wives badly”.

Again, I am NOT in that situation (my family is too fantastic for that, and I’m not nearly that selfless), but I think as mothers, there is real danger here.

I mean, if I’m being honest about why I’m denying myself, it is often to

(1) make my own life easier (it’s just easier to deny yourself that to deny someone else in the family, or to make another piece of toast to replace the burned one, etc…) or

(2) to create some ridiculous “bank of chips” that aren’t necessary (no one in the family is keeping count) and that I’ll never cash in anyway (i.e. the mentality of “once I’ve taken a girls weekend once, I’ve cashed those chips and may never get to go again!” so I’ll sit here and bemoan the fact that life just doesn’t allow that…martyr, martyr, martyr…)

So I have been consciously trying, for the last few weeks, to drop the martyr mentality.

I have actually told the children: “I’d be happy to get you more milk, after I’ve eaten my own dinner. Please wait.”

And guess what? Everybody’s fine. My kids learn to wait. I get to eat, and I’m forced to drop that “woe is me” mentality. Win, win, win.

I have actually said, “No tea party right now. We can’t get out more toys when the house is already a mess. Let’s clean up together, and when we’re done, we can play whatever you want.” There is often whining, the clean up takes longer, and the result is not “adult-did-it-perfect”, but the kids learn to pitch in, and again, I am forced to drop that “Must I do everything?” mentality that is unhealthy for me and a bad example for my kids. Bonus: tea party together…

And guess what? I have the ability to say to my husband, “The baby was up so early this morning. Can you take the kids for an hour this Saturday so I can take a nap”, and he’s happy to do it. I go from martyr, martyr, to an appreciative (and rested) wife. And my husband feels good about being my afternoon hero. How’s that for a good transition?

I feel like someone could read this and think I am dumb for missing something so simple, but honestly, it is really hard for me to find the balance. I am a mother. My family comes first. It’s easier to clean the room myself. It’s easier to eat the burnt toast. It’s less of a battle to hop up and get the milk. Sometimes getting away for a girls’ night is honestly just too much work for me, and too hard for the kids. Those things are legit… but if I cross the line, and

– become too proud of those sacrifices,
– or become resentful,
– or start to enjoy the power that giving bestows (as opposed to being the one to receive and express gratitude or even feel indebted)
– or let my family take the sacrifices I do make for granted,
– or make them feel guilty about something I’m doing for them, when in reality they should know that true sacrifices come from love without emotional price tags,
– or deny my family a chance to feel the pride they earn when they do things for me,
– or deny my children the praise they earn when they patiently wait,

then I’ve gotten out of balance.

I don’t want to be a martyr. I want to let go of all the self-importance that title provides me and I want to share an attitude of “let’s take care of each other”. It’s going to be hard work, and I will miss the peace that came with kids who are momentarily satisfied (because mom got that milk right when they wanted it!) and the ego of one who “must always be the one who [insert task here]”.

But there’s a chance that if I made a few choices differently, the inflated sense of self-importance that “martyrmom” provides me with could be replaced with a sense of appreciation for my family (who are so happy when they do something for mom) and some important lessons about how things work best when we all practice patience, generosity, and tell each other what we need to be happy.

I want to stop the sighs, have the sacrifices I do make come from a place of love (not martyrdom), and trade that sense of self-importance for a sense of gratitude, because there are two truths here:

(1) My family is fantastic, and will do what I ask them to.

And

(2) I don’t want to be a martyr. That attitude doesn’t actually make me feel good or help my family. The truth is, I just want to be a good mom.

P.S. This was a hard post to write and I’m worried it won’t say what I mean it to. I hope it conveys that (1) my family is wonderful and (2) I have found a(nother!) flaw in myself that needs my attention.

For some reason, as I write this, I also feel the need to admit that the dishes are piled in the sink, the laundry is overflowing the hamper, and that I lost my patience more than once today with the kids. I think I feel the need to admit all that because I’m worried the post could be misinterpreted to read that I have erred on the side of being the always-at-attention, ready-to-serve, never-neglectful mother, when what I’m trying to say is that I was aiming for that, and even in the midst of falling short, am beginning to think that the martyr mentality that sometimes (for me) accompanies that outlook is bad for both me and the kids.

P.P.S. I wrote this post, and the P.S. above, over a week ago and have just hesitated to hit publish until now. Can you tell I am nervous about how it will come across?! I should also include – as an emphasis on how blessed I am – that last night I went to bed early because I was too tired to deal with the house and planned to tackle it this morning. I woke up this morning to find a pristine kitchen and most of the laundry done – all a nice surprise from my husband who just thought I might appreciate a break. Pretty amazing, that one…

Yellow and Blue Make Green!

Yellow and blue make green!

I added an exclamation to that sentence because my kids are all excited about that fact this week.

Want to know why?

Well, this week I finally got around to cleaning one of the bathrooms, which involved squirting that blue soap stuff in the toilet, and one of the kids asked me what would happen if they peed on it.  It turns out that – even in toilets – yellow and blue make green.

I post this just in case you were wondering what we do around our house for entertainment and in the name of scientific discovery.

And to prove again my point that cleaning the house is pretty much pointless when you have young children: one step forward (a pristine toilet!), then two (green!) giant steps back.

“Help me… Help you… Help ME help YOU!”

There are so many moments when – as a parent – I am desperately trying to help my kids do something that is good for them (i.e. get into a carseat, put on shoes, change into a clean diaper, etc.),  and they are resisting with all their might.

In one of these moments today, I actually said the words, “Help me help you.  Help ME help YOU!”

As soon as I said it, I realized I had just quoted a movie.

Anyone recognize it?

Anyone?

That’s right.

In my moments of greatest parenting desperation, I inadvertantly channel (not Dr. Phil, not any of the great mothers I know, but the one and only…) Jerry Maguire.

I thought that was very odd of me, so I went to youtube and watched that whole scene of the movie (1 minute, 2 seconds).  To my amazement, it actually sums up the worst emotions of a parent quite well.

Imagine yourself eliciting stares in the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office because your child is screaming at the top of her lungs that she “will not ride in a carseat!”  Or in the bathroom at Target completely covered in poop because your 1 year old won’t quit squirming on the changing table.

While all of you is loving your children (as I do mine, always, even – and especially when they need it – in those hard moments!), wouldn’t a tiny part of you be thinking this?

Jerry Maguire:

“I am OUT HERE for YOU.

YOU don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU.

It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about.

OK?”

[Jerry attempts to pull his own hair out, then continues…]

“Help me…”

“Help me!”

“Help me…Help you…”

“Help ME Help YOU!”

The best part is that after this rant by Jerry, Rod sums up what my family would absolutely be thinking if I were ever to say all of this out loud.

Rod:   “You are hanging on by a very thin thread.”

(He then adds, “…and I dig that about you”, but I don’t know if my whole family would agree with that part : )

Here’s the youtube clip if you want to see the whole scene.  You just have to (1) mentally replace Jerry Maguire with me, and Rod with one of my children, (2) remember that the “Help me Help you!” was the only part I actually said out loud, and (3) remain non-judgmental by recalling that I am either being screamed at in a parking lot or being smeared with poop or had just taken newly shooed foot to the face when this internal “help me help you!” rant started.

In that spirit, here’s the link (And yes, my kids make that same facial expression sometimes!).

“Help ME help YOU!”

Ha!

(At least next time I’m in one of these positions, I will chuckle to myself remembering the movie!  My kids – who I love always! – are going to wonder why – in these moments – I start calling them “Rod”…)