Friday, January 23, 2015

I Don't Hate Many Things, but...

I'm sorry, but I have to say this...

I hate homework.  It is my least favorite part of the day.  I have tried everything to get it done, and it just sucks.

I have tried screaming and yelling, I have tried simply not caring, I have tried not doing it at all, I have tried doing it before we pick up other kids, I have tried doing it while I cook dinner, I have tried doing it before bed.  There is no good time.

So now here's where all the teachers hate me, and I have A LOT of teacher friends.  I went to Longwood...hello!

Why the hell does my 2nd grader need to do homework?

She spends 7 hours a day in a classroom.  She spends 3 hours at home every night.  In that 3 hours we must eat dinner.  We also take a bath most nights.  We try to read books.  We like to play.  And these are nights that we have nothing else going on...no errands to run, no practice to go to.

So how in the world am I supposed to also fit in 20 minutes of homework with a child that does not want to do homework because she's been doing work all day in the classroom?  And by the way, it is not 20 minutes.  Last night, it was almost an hour!!!  One third of my night!

I already know what you're going to say.  Teachers don't have time to teach everything that needs to be taught to stick with state standards.  Am I right?  Well, I don't care!!!!  And I'm not screaming at the teachers here.  I love the teachers in my life and I know how hard the work.

So I'm screaming at the system.  It's ridiculous!!!

Last night, we come home and sit down to do homework before we pick up the boys.  She is not focused.  She wants to eat a snack and talk about other things but we don't have time to eat a snack and talk about other things.  Because we have to draw a stupid graph about storms.  And then write all the facts we possibly can about them in the graph.  I read the directions to her 5 times, she read them, she still did it wrong.  Because she's totally not interested.  Her brain has been working all day, she wants a break and I don't blame her.

I don't go home and get on my work email.  Why should she have to come home and do more school work?

And while we were reading the packet about storms, she kept just telling me all these random facts about storms that were correct and not in the mandatory reading book.  So obviously, she has learned something in school about storms, because I assure you, we do not sit around the dinner table discussing Tornado Alley and Hurricanes forming over the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico during warm months.

So after a half an hour of reading this packet, and then 20 minutes of pushing her and begging her to do the graph right...I said screw it, she obviously knows the stuff.

I try to take that attitude with homework, but it's hard.  I don't want her to fall behind, because even though she knows about storms, she doesn't do as well with math.

I really don't know what the answer is.  Any advice?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Faking Confidence

Parenting is the hardest job I've ever had.  I think a lot of people would agree with that statement.  I have a job, sometimes it is hard and busy and sometimes it is not and I can write a blog post :)

But parenting, never leaves my thoughts.  I become consumed with how I'm raising my kids, am I doing it right, will they be screwed up forever, how do I avoid mistakes that will turn them into horrible/sad/asshole/(insert any terrible description here) people?

I know in my head that kids become their parents.  I am so like my mom.  In so many ways.  I don't really look like her and we don't really have the same personality.  I can be very moody (like my dad), I rarely see her in a bad mood.  I can wallow (like my dad), I never see her do that.  Sometimes I feel like the whole world is against me and things are unfair (like my dad), but I rarely hear my mom complain.  But sometimes I'll hear my voice or catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror or in a picture and it almost takes my breath away at how much I am like her.

So one day, Ainsley will probably think the same thing.  How do I make sure that she ends up with the best parts of me?

I have never had the best self-esteem.  I don't have a lot of confidence in myself.  I'm shy and I often worry about drawing attention to myself.  I make excuses.  I never admit to being good at anything.  I never want someone to think I'm loud or obnoxious, so I stay quiet.  I do not take compliments well.

But I wasn't always that way.

As a kid, I loved to put on shows and act in plays and sing in church.  Anything to get on stage and draw attention.  And better yet, I thought I was amazing at all of it.  At some point that stopped and I just wanted to be invisible.  I wasn't bullied, wasn't picked on more than any other kid, wasn't abused.  No mega trauma happened in my life.  Yet right around middle school, my whole personality changed.  I can remember walking through the halls and just trying to blend into the walls so no one would talk to me or notice me.

High school was the same.  I can barely remember any kids from high school.  There are a few that I was friends with and there are a few others that I am Facebook friends with.  But this year is my 20 year reunion (sidenote: WTF?!?!?  How is that possible?) and I ended up in the Facebook group and I have no recollection of these people.  I've been looking them up in my yearbook to try and remember faces.  And I can, with 100% certainty, tell you that they have no idea who I am either.  Because in high school, I perfected being invisible.  Never too good or too smart or too friendly, but not bad either.  Just right down that average line.

I'm getting off on a tangent here, because this post isn't about me and my issues.  It's about Ainsley.

My girl, who is so full of energy and happiness and sunshine.  So totally over the moon about herself.  She can stare at herself in the mirror for hours if I let her (I did the same).  She loves to sing and dance (so did I).  She'll try anything.  Loves to be the center of attention.  Adores pictures and videos of herself.  She even has started her own "how to" video series.  All her idea.  This girl has so much confidence...

but...

Lately, she's been saying things.  She and Freddie will play a video game and she'll quit, saying "I'm not good at that, Freddie is way better than me."  She and a friend will do cartwheels or rolls and she'll want to stop saying "I can't do those."

And then, at the end of one of her videos...How to make Mint Chocolate Cupcakes...she was icing a cupcake all by herself for the first time ever.  And on video she said "So this one I put green icing on...it looks horrible I know, because I'm terrible at it."

And my heart broke.  Tears stung my eyes.  Because here she was being so brave to do something she had never done, on camera, to post to You Tube, and she was talking about how bad she was at it...

Just. Like. Me.

And in that moment, it finally sank in.  Something I've known since I was pregnant with her.  Something I've tried to instill.  But something I have never practiced in front of  her.  I can not expect to make her a strong, independent, confident woman unless I show it to her.

So really this is a post about my issues, because I can't let them become Ainsley's.  It's not easy to change 30 years of doubting myself, judging myself, criticizing myself for every move.  But I'm trying.  And I'll keep trying until I truly believe it so Ainsley can keep her confidence.

Here's her first video..."How To Brush Your Teeth and Hair"...more to come.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Non New Year's Resolutions

I don't make New Year's Resolutions.  There are 3 reasons.

#1 - All the normal stuff that people resolve to do, I am always doing every day of the year.  Okay, so no, I do not always eat healthy and I barely have time to exercise and sometimes I use a credit card...but for the most part, I am always trying to be healthier, trying to work out, trying to keep our finances in check.

#2 - Setting a New Year's Resolution is just setting yourself up to fail.  All the hype and excitement that comes from the New Year fades and you're left feeling like a failure.  And if you're in to making New Year's resolutions, you have to wait a whole year to start again.

#3 - It's only for a year.  If I change myself, I want to do it for the better and for always.

So I don't make New Year's Resolutions.

I do, however, make non-exciting, non-holiday resolutions all the time.

First up, I'm trying to blog more.  I probably resolve to do this once a month.  But I'm now putting it in my blog, so I'm responsible for it.  I think about blogging all the time.  I mean, like every couple hours of every day I think about writing a blog post.  It's just the actual time it takes to sit down and do it that I have trouble pushing through.  So now, if you don't see a blog post in awhile, nag me.  Do it, I'm giving you permission.

Second, I'm going to get healthy.  You would think that chasing after three kids and never sitting down at home, and being up until 11pm at night would keep me active and healthy.  You'd be wrong.  I am currently at my heaviest (non-pregnant) weight ever.  And weight doesn't matter, I keep telling myself that.  But it does if you feel unhealthy, and I do feel unhealthy.  I sit all day at work.  I sleep less than 6 hours most nights.  We eat "conveniently" more than I'd like.  Clif bought me a Jawbone Up for Christmas.  And it has made me realize how much I don't move.  How bad I eat at times.  How little and lightly I sleep.  I need to make better changes.

Third, I don't want to be so self-involved.  I think I am a compassionate person.  But I don't really show that to people.  Honestly, I am busy.  I am going from 5 am until 9 pm Monday through Friday.  Then the weekends are left to catch up on housework and errands and any kind of fun family time.  I don't volunteer, I don't donate, I don't even send freaking birthday cards.  My focus is always on me and my family.  It's happened because I run out of time, but I need to fix it.  I need to pay more attention to the life around me.  I try to be a good friend, I try to pay it forward.  But damn, it is hard to find the focus and the energy and the time to be all of that.  So I am going to try and send birthday cards and I am going to try and do one random kind thing a month.  It's the only way I'm going to raise my kids to be good people.  I can be a good person in my head all I want, but until I actually do something...I'm just a jackass.

Finally, and this is big and this is one reason my resolutions are not of the New Year's contingent.  I want to write a book.  I know it won't be this year.  It probably won't be next year.  It may not be until Cohen is married.  But I want to start laying the foundation.  I want to actually put it my head that I'm going to write a book and take steps to make it happen.  I've wanted to be a writer for a gazillion years.  Writing does not pay my bills.  So I work in jobs that I never love.  I want to make sure that I'm doing something I love, even if I'm not getting paid and even if I have to do something else to survive.

So those are my resolutions.  Ones I've been thinking about or acting on for months now.  Do you make New Year's Resolutions?  Or do you make any-time-I-want resolutions?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Broken

Remember when you first brought your first baby home?  And remember how scared you were?  How you were afraid of every little thing?  I can remember lying awake with teeny tiny Ainsley in a cradle next to my bed, just listening to her breath.  Every catch in her breath would draw me from bed to check on her.  I can remember literally thinking...Do I really need sleep?  It's not that important, right?

Then time moves on, the baby becomes a toddler, then another baby comes along...and there's still always this underlying worry about "things" but you move about your days and that worry just becomes something normal and it's not a constant, daily, minute-by-minute fear.

Then something happens, anything...big or small...and it all comes rushing back and suddenly you're treating your 18 month old like a glass doll.

The other night, Cohen fell in our kitchen and hit his head on the corner of the wall.  I wasn't looking at him when it happened.  We had just gotten home and it was our normal "walk in the door, walk the dogs, get dinner ready, do homework - all before bedtime" chaos.

I was going through Ainsley's homework book when I heard the thud.  I turned around and Cohen looked up at me with an eye full of blood.  In that moment, I just reacted (freaked out) thinking his eye was gone.

At an octave I don't normally reach, I squealed "What happened?!?!  Oh my gosh, what happened?!?!"

I scooped him up and grabbed paper towels to wipe the blood.  I was relieved, but still shaking when I realized it was his forehead and not his eye.

I took him to the hospital as soon as Clif got home.  I didn't remember toys or snacks or diapers...just drove off feeling very helpless and scared.

He got 5 stitches in the ER...so nothing terrible.  He was never in any danger of losing too much blood or going blind or dying.  But I was just so freaked out.  And I've found myself hovering over him more the last couple of days.  Less okay with his fearlessness to climb anything, jump from anywhere, run always.  He wasn't doing any of those things when the fall happened.  I'm not exactly sure what he was doing, but I know he was standing in the kitchen one second and looking up at me covered with blood the next.

So one little accident and I'm suddenly that terrified new mom I was 7 years ago, afraid every move I make with be the wrong one.  Sure that one decision will upend my perfect life.  Thinking that one mistake will break my baby and I won't be able to stitch him back together.

He's fine, by the way.  Barely cried when it happened.  Cried during the stitches, but was ecstatic when they brought him a red Popsicle.  He's resilient and awesome and other than the line of stitches down his forehead, you'd never know anything had happened.  But I think I'll always wear the scar.







Friday, December 19, 2014

One of Those Times

Sometimes, I so rock life.  I mean seriously...I kill it.  I workout 3-4 times a week, homework gets done, the house is relatively clean, Clif and I get a night out, we eat our veggies, laundry is put away, everyone is happy and healthy and we are totally winning.

Then...

Well then there are the other 51 weeks in the year.

Kidding...but seriously, then there are those times...well, I completely and utterly fail at all aspects of this little life we have.  I'm in one of those times right now.

I ate fast food this week.  I haven't eaten fast food in a very long time.  I did go to the gym on Wednesday, but that was definitely negated by the fast food.

One of the dogs pooped all over the hall last night.  That was fun to clean up, while also yelling at Ainsley to do her homework at 8:30 at night.  Did I mention that she hasn't done it all week and bedtime is 8:00?  And I'm not a crazy homework nazi, but she did miss a week of school while we were in Disney.  Then she got sick, and missed 4 out of 5 days of the following week.  So I feel like she's a bit behind.

My house...oh boy.  It is baaaaaad.  Like, really bad.  Like, I can't even bear to be awake and in it, bad.  Good thing I've been so busy that I haven't spent any time there.  Probably also the reason one of the dogs defecated in the house.  They were left there from 7:30ish yesterday morning until 7:30ish last night.  That's not normal, but it has been kind of par for this past week.

Other than the actual Wendy's fast food this week, we've also eaten out every night...or ordered in.  There's so much to do that I just can't even seem to get home before 6:30 or 7 and then it's just too late to do anything but order a pizza or send Clif on a dinner mission.

Last night, he called to ask if he should pick up food and I said yes.  He asked what I wanted and I said "I don't care, can you please just make this decision?"  He said okay, but what did I specifically want from a certain place.  My response..."Just make sure it doesn't have mushrooms.  I'll eat anything else."

And when I'm in one of these times, I just want to curl up in my bed and cry and sleep.  I don't want to finish Christmas shopping, or clean my house, or wrap presents, or make dinner, or even be present in the evening. Every night, at bedtime.  I go upstairs and tell Freddie to put his PJs on 734 times.  Then I change into my own PJs, lay on my bed and say "Can the kids put themselves to bed and I just stay here?  And while people and things are doing their own stuff...can Ainsley's lunch pack itself, and the kitchen floor mop itself, and the stupid elf move itself?  All while I sleep?"  Then I go to Freddie's room and find him half naked and give him the same lecture I give him every night about doing what I ask when I ask it.

I know it will pass...but it sure sucks while it's happening and there just seems no end in sight.  No end until the big ole Christmas Day deadline when shopping and wrapping and cooking and baking and cleaning and everything else in the world must be done.  Is it any wonder that this is not my favorite holiday?  I will take a nice cold beer on a warm 4th of July day over December 1st-23rd EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!

Now December 24th and 25th are pretty freaking awesome...it's just the lead up that gets me.

So until then, I will be over here all zombie and bah-humbug-ish.

Monday, December 15, 2014

To the Woman in the Booth Over There

Dear...Woman/Lady/Patron,

You'll have to forgive me, I didn't catch your name.  Honestly, if I passed you on the street, I probably wouldn't recognize you.  I'm not sure what color hair you have or how tall  you are.  I don't know your age or where you're from.

All I know is that you sat near us at Outback on Friday night, so I could make certain assumptions about your life, but I'm not going to do that.  I'm going to do my best to give you the benefit of the doubt.

So for a moment, let me tell you about us.  We don't eat out very often.  When we do it's normally at one of those counter service places.  You know the ones that are just a step above fast food.  We go to places like Chipotle, or Chick-Fil-A, or Firehouse Subs.  Oh and pizza...we do pizza quite often.

We work.  My husband and I both work full time.  And we have young children...as I'm sure you noticed.  So on nights that involve errands or dropping off cars for oil changes, well, it's very hard to get home and get dinner on the table before bedtime.  So on those nights, we do eat out.

Rarely do we go to a sit-down restaurant.  It's not very affordable for a family of 5 and really the kids are much more happy with chicken nuggets or pizza.  But on occasion, when we're feeling financially optimistic, we will go to a place like Outback.  Before Friday night, I'm pretty sure I hadn't been to an Outback in over a year.  The food is okay, and it is very pricey.

I won't take my kids to a nice restaurant.  If I'm not sure what kind of place it is, I always call and ask about the noise level and if they have a kids menu.  I am always very conscience of my children in public and how they're acting.  I never want them to be perceived in a bad way.  I know they aren't bad children, I know they're just children.  But some tend to jump to conclusions based on a momentary meeting or impression.

So Friday night we decided on Outback, and so did you.  I didn't even notice you.  I was very busy cutting up grapes for the baby, finding ketchup for the preschooler, and walking my 2nd grader to the bathroom.  There were definitely some tears from the baby at the beginning, and maybe towards the middle when the grapes ran out and he had to wait for more.  You see, we're in this crazy kid phase.  He doesn't want to be in the highchair but he's really too young for a booster seat.  He loves the booster, but he doesn't like to stay put, you know?  Maybe you don't.  Again, I don't know you at all, so I don't even know if you have children.  But trust me, 18 month-olds are terrible listeners.  Asking them to sit and quiet down simply does not work.

It was as we were finishing our dinner that you made  your presence known.  You walked over and very politely said "Excuse me, I have a request for you."  I looked up and don't think I didn't notice that you were directing this at me.  You didn't even glance at my husband.

You continued..."The next time your son is screaming at the top of his lungs, please take him outside as to not disturb the other guests in the restaurant."

Or something like that.  To be honest, no one has ever said anything like that to me before.  And at this point my husband was talking back.  Like usual, I can never defend myself the moment I need to.  I'm much better at taking the time to write it down.  Plus, while all this is going on and you and my husband are exchanging words (and again, don't think I didn't notice how you kept looking at me, even though he was doing all the talking, like "A mother should control her children.")  I'm very aware of the fact that we have 3 sets of little eyes watching us.  Three sets of little ears hanging on every word.  Three little minds and personalities being shaped and impressed by everything we do.

There was an exchange, a heated one.  I think the only thing I did was thank you for informing us of how to be good parents.  Some smart ass comment, that probably didn't even come out the way I intended it to because I really suck at that kind of thing.  Then you left.  I can't remember what you said after your initial "request" and I can't really remember any of my husband's words...just the look on his face.

So here's the thing...I get it.  At least I'm trying to get it.  I'm trying to not be all judgy and rude, like some people.  So I'm saying to myself...maybe this was her and her husband's only night out all month.  Maybe she's never had children, or maybe she does have children, and she just doesn't know or remember.  Maybe this is the highest quality restaurant they go to.  Maybe my baby did ruin their meal.

If any of that is true...I'm sorry.  Really, I'm sorry if my child caused you grief and annoyance.  I'm not being condescending or sarcastic.  I'm really sorry.

But I think, maybe, you owe me an apology too.  Because what were you hoping to accomplish?  How does informing me after the fact that my child has ruined your night, do anything but make me feel terrible?  How does approaching people about the way they handle their children fix anything?

That night I went from being embarrassed to upset to angry to confused.  But here's the thing, if you were sitting in front of me right now, and I had the time to think about what to say to you so that I didn't cry or scream.  I would say this.  You have every right to a have a nice dinner.  But I have every right to take my family to dinner at a family restaurant.  You have every right to be annoyed with my kids.  But they have every right to act like kids.  Newsflash...we all live on this planet TOGETHER and we all have to figure out how to work it out and get along.  

So next time you're sitting near us in a restaurant that's meant for families, please feel free to ask for another table.  If I notice, I may be a bit self conscious but I will understand.  Please feel free to roll your eyes and cover your ears.  Again, it may bother me a bit, but I get it.  But please, do not stroll over in all of your high and mightiness and tell me how to sooth my baby or raise my children.  I've got that covered.

Sincerely,
The Woman with the Screaming Kid at Outback

Monday, November 17, 2014

Officially Retired

I thought that maybe I'd nurse Cohen for 2 years.  Ainsley went 14 months, Freddie went 19.  So I thought I could take Cohen a bit further.  However, I've known for awhile that I may not be able to get the night weaning to really work if I didn't just stop all together.

Then last week I went to Oregon for work.  I was gone 4 full days.  I pumped and got next to nothing.  So I knew I was done.

Even before I left, I thought that this trip might do it.  Might get him over the hump.  Might be enough time apart for him to realize he doesn't need it.  So on Monday night, before I left, I nursed him and I knew that it might be the end.  I'm glad I thought about that and took the time to sit and rub his cheek and hair.  I'm glad I focused on just that for 10 minutes so I can remember his little face like that.  I can distinctly remember the last time I nursed each of my kids.  I've been lucky that I've always known when the end was near.  I've always been able to plan it out.

This time it's a bit different.  I am done nursing...forever.  And the weight of that makes me sad, because it means that I have passed another stage, checked off another box, moved forward a bit more.  My baby days are over.

But overall, I'm okay with it.  I didn't collapse into tears in my hotel room when I realized I wasn't making any more milk.  And I didn't cry and give in when he asked for it a few times this weekend.  I will miss his little fist on my shirt, big blue eyes staring up at me, repeating "NiNi?  NiNi?"  I will miss nights rocking him to sleep in the quiet of his room.  I will miss the power to soothe him instantly.  But I forgot the wonderfulness that comes when nursing ends.

Up to this point, a nursing mother provides nourishment for the child and the child comes to rely on that as a way to soothe and comfort.  But this weekend, without the nursing, Cohen actually cuddled up on my lap and just sat there with his head resting on my shoulder or nuzzled in my belly.  He's never done that with me.  With Clif, yes.  He hugs his siblings willingly.  But not really with me, because I'm the boobs.  He is comforted by nursing.  So now he can snuggle me without that getting in the way.

So now the girls are officially retired.  Maybe I can finally buy a bra and wear it for longer than 6 months.  Maybe I'll finally know my actual size.  I'll  never again have sore nipples or engorged breasts.  I have completely enjoyed the 4+ years I've nursed my babies and I will always look back at those times as some of my most precious.  I will forever remember the sound a nursing baby makes, the feeling of let down, and the smell of milk breath.  But everything has to end, and I'm glad I was able to do it on my terms.  I am thankful for that and ready to take the next step.
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