Feb 21, 2014
This is not a new concept, the importance of knowing.
Except, it’s one of those I keep saying ‘aha’ to.
I really didn’t want that job at the television station even though
it was amazing I’d gotten it.
I really didn’t need to be married at the age of 23 even though
you couldn’t tell me not to be.
I’m good with knowing I don’t want to meet the end of my life wondering what may have happened
if I’d just tried…
to have another baby, to create a career that was fulfilling,
and to stop being afraid of my possibilities.
I want to thrive and show my children life is cram packed with fun possibilities.
I will raise them knowing life waits for us to squeeze and shake
every last lovely hurrah that we can out of it.
Try everything, edit later.
PS. It’s OK to not know what you’re doing too.
Feb 12, 2014
Around the world, many families are cared for by a stay at home caretaker or housewife or husband. I am one by both default and by choice. I was unwilling to work only to pay for childcare so I am focusing on my writing career and blog and am in charge of our children and all things domestic. I’m truly proud of how good I am at this, but I get the feeling others may not be proud of their role as caretaker. And I understand that too. I get overwhelmed and feel powerless to add money to the pot.
The flip side is that I may make it look too easy. Which results in me feeling a little overwhelmed and under staffed. Unlike me, my husband is no way compelled to rush to my aid me as I’m cooking, handling a screaming baby, and directing my son through his chores before the school bus arrives. I feel like there’s an outdated unspoken agreement between he and I, maybe not too dissimilar to the ones made by other parents through the centuries, which states this is your job and that is mine. You do X and I do Y. This arrangement doesn’t always work for me. Our age, lifestyles, and head count have changed and the time has come to rewrite the rules for the roles. And separate the truth from the untruth.
The primary fallacy: If my man is bringing home the peanut butter and jelly sandwich makings, my downtime relies on his availability first. In other words, I would get little time off from the baby if he’s got work related tasks to take care of. He’s a freelancer and all of that working adds up to new jobs.
But, if mama doesn’t get some time off to do things hands-free like vacuum, dye hair roots, or even, dare I say, do something leisurely like get a manicure, this Momma feels resentful. Bad mojo Mommy means everyone suffers. I found myself beseeching him and justifying my request for him to have a baby day and that doesn’t set right with me.
My biggest misstep was in creating a situation where I won’t let go of care-taking everyone. And the second is in not asking for my needs to be met. This combination makes me a martyr and I don’t like the sound of that in the least. I’ve been a doormat before and here I’m recreating it with people I love? The spoiled are made by a spoiler. And since hubby can’t read my mind, I’ve got to shut off the closed captioning. Out loud or nothing changes.
So I have begun to change stuff up. I asked what sorts of breakfasts the boys would be willing to make for themselves. And they’ve been doing it. Next step is scheduling these on the calendar so everyone, including me, knows when and what Mommy‘s not doing. Lesson number #153, what you do for them, they’ll expect.
I once considered saying I was going out for milk and then calling to say I stopped by for my long overdue pedicure. Then I managed to jam this task into a stroller nap. In the end, it’s still my choice to give it to me. I don’t have to steal what I’m entitled to.
I am thinking I just need to get a little more honest and a little less codependent. When I get mad at something, I’m usually madder at myself for a choice I’m making or not making. How about I say, “Mommy’s off at 7pm so get your needs met before that“. Or “Tonight’s a leftover night, I’ll be upstairs soaking in the tub“.
I finally started booking time with the husband on the calendar for his baby care time. It helps that he’s not terrified of her anymore. Only took 9 months. Sadly, just when I started to enjoy a weekly babysitter for 4 precious hours, she’s off to college. Sigh.
Here’s to commanding, borrowing, and scheduling all the Mommy free time you can get. I always tell women, “You know your driving, right?” I believe we really are the family decision makers in many ways. And taking care of ourselves ensures that our family is better taken care of as well. Model self-respect and your children will grow up to respect themselves. A happy Mommy means a happy family.
Jan 24, 2014
This is a piece I published on Divine Caroline two and a half years ago. Back when Eamon was an only child. My son is nearly nine now but I always liked this piece. So enjoy the rebroad.
I really hope my six-year-old turns out sweet and functional. I am doubtful, especially when I realize my humanity will be to blame for his dysfunction. Never have I been so aggravated or heartbroken by anyone. Not even by my ex-husband, a man who yelled first and was bigger than me. My son was two when I realized I was the “yeller” mom I’d sworn I’d never be.
There are weeks when I could blame my PMS or the full moon for the discourse in my house. It still doesn’t make it less stressful. And if I’m not feeling like the strongest, wisest, most confident mother, the little guy can smell the doubt like a predator smells blood. And that’s his cue to go into uber-obnoxious mode. Maybe because he’s scared that if I’m not driving, he’ll have to? It amounts to a car wreck all the same.
My husband told me last night that, after being tested one and two and three times by our son during bath time, for which he had to calmly reply, correct the child, or just wade through the wreckage, he said he was done. I said imagine having that feeling when it’s only nine o’clock in the morning and you have the rest of the day to be tested. Guess what? You fail the parent test.
There is this June Cleaver expectation in my head that I’m supposed to be calm and patient and easygoing with my child, always. Stern and gentle. Wise and silly. Instead, I feel like I’ve spent a good part of our six years together tolerating him in public, berating him in private, and not being proud of myself in my head.
The morning of the Little League parade, he chose Shredded Wheat cereal for breakfast, let it get soggy, and then demanded a bagel instead. This was not the first time this had happened. As I knew this would happen, I fought my first inclination to yell. Instead, I engaged him in a conversation about what led to the sogginess and what he thought we could do to solve this ongoing problem. He suggested he could talk less and eat more quickly. Bravo for both of us.
Throughout the day, when applicable, I reminded him that Mommy had made a better choice that morning by not choosing to yell. Leading by example is easier said than done. Even if I could just find the power to nod and smile because he’ll move out soon enough. Surely, the feelings of incompetency will diminish after he’s gone to college. And here comes three months of summer! Wish him luck.
Apr 26, 2013
I recently had to explain to my seven year-old why I was shooing the kitty away from the house and away from the girl kitty who was acting kinda funny. We were having a birds, the bees, and kitties talk in which we discussed how boy kitties have spikes on the end of their winkles to ensure their parenthood possibilities.
My poor son will never be able to shake the images of that conversation. Good. He did understand there’s a biological imperative for species survival. They don’t even realize they are programmed to continue their existence. People too. And our job is to ruin their job when propagation is a bad thing.
If left up to their funny business, this is how cats would multiply and procreate. One mommy kitty can have three kittens three times a year. So she can potentially spawn 9 kittens per year. Second year and you multiply those 9 kitties by three and three again and now you have 81 kittens. And by the third year, 775 cats in your backyard howling and spraying.
So we treated our girl kitty to a cab ride to the clinic and unkittened her. Because I feel that if you’re going to feed them, then you need to make sure there will be no other mouths to feed later.
We’re just lucky enough to have an old country vet down the road who’ll take their crazy furry butts out of the trap and fix ‘em up. My husband and I live near a river and this is a highway for all animals. We have taken care of at least 50 cats in one way or another in the past 12 years. And, although it’s been heart wrenching at times, it’s also the least we can do.
One week ago, we lost our Butthead to a surprise case of cancer. And although we got him from the streets of Denton, actually in a parking lot, that is no place for kittens. So please do an extra good responsible action toward an animal and spay or neuter or call the local authorities to humanely and compassionately end or deter future suffering of any animals. Our bigger brains suggest we are smarter. Right practices of any sort are a choice.
Jul 20, 2012
One school day, I reached down into my kid’s book bag and pulled our a triangular scrap of paper. I asked what’s this. Oh something I wrote. And I asked him to read it to me. I was more than blown away.
This is the translation.
Black vs. White
“Ya’ ready?” said White. ”Yeah!” said Black.
“Cloud!” said White. “Mist!” said Black.
They both fainted. “Nobody won!” said the announcer.
When I asked him about the story, he said this, “I like that nobody won, he said. It’s fair. And I don’t want to make White look bad. Or Black.” Out of the mouth of babes.
I love my kid and I love the world I live in. I read this and it makes me hope that our children will make the brave choices. They will choose to not make the differences of people or cultures or opinions a personal problem they need to avenge. And they will look further than themselves and their bank accounts to the greater world beyond them and make choices that embody compassion and integrity. And make a living doing so.
Our children are our hope. And will learn as we do. You can screw the small stuff up but the big stuff is what we choose to courageously stand for every day. Start by not buying stuff sold by people who are evil or not local if you can help it. Or take your kid to the voting booth with you. Or just stop playing the parent role and be a respectful equal to them for a little while. Ask them what they value and what they want to do about it. The empowerment and self-esteem of our children will rescue us from our present world predicament.
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