Sunday, October 30, 2011

Second Time Around

Parenting doesn't get any easier. Ever. Anyone who tells you that it does is a big, fat liar or childless. You just adapt faster. Or you are so sleep deprived that you don't have time to think or worry. Keeping the kids fed, bathed and clothed are the most attainable goals you have. In addition to post-partum depression, I had 3 bouts of mastitis after I had our first child, Sara. Let's just say that I was a scary, hormonal mess to be around. And I made people stick around. I was terrified to be left alone with her. Who in their right mind would leave me with a child unsupervised??? I rallied all the troops - my working mother/sister-in-law, out of town friend and my father were all fair game. When my husband had to leave town for work, I had my sister-in-law work a full day, leave her 2 kids and keep my newborn and me company. I had no shame and I would do it all again. She even brought dinner. When her shift ended at 10 pm, my friend finished her waitress shift and drove 30 minutes to be with me overnight. Next on deck was my out-of-town friend who had NO experience with children. Within an hour of her arrival, my darling daughter peed on her. Baptism by fire, so to speak. I even extended her prison term when Paul was delayed. Did she really think I would turn her down when she offered to stay?

Sara turned four when we had our second child. I felt slightly more qualified to mother another live being. Not much. I figured I had kept her alive for 4 years in a row so my chances were pretty good. As we settled back into life with a newborn and around the clock feelings, I realized that I wasn't the nervous wreck I was last time. I didn't panic every time he cried for no apparent reason. I didn't read every parenting book and freak out because they all contradict each other. I was not convinced that every decision was vital and wrong and scarring him for life. I actually sat back and enjoyed watching him grow and discover the world around him without worrying about all the harm I was doing to him. I wasn't consumed with crazy thoughts. Am I playing with him too much? Not enough? Am I holding him enough or too much? I could actually shower and not panic that evil men would break in and kidnap him. They say that grandkids are so much fun that you should have them first. I think we should all have our second children first. Or learn to sit back, relax and enjoy it. Because, before you know it, they are in school and busy with their own lives. And they have developed the verbals skills to say 'no!" to everything you say. Makes you long for the days when you had all the control and they couldn't talk back.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The never ending quest for good socks

When did socks start consuming so much of my time and brain power? First there is the hunt for the right size sock. Not as easy as you may think. Sara is crazy picky and her feet grow every 5 days. They must not bunch at her toes. They must not slip into her shoes. And, to add more stress, sometime she likes to mix and not match. Once the proper socks have been purchased and brought home, the fun begins. The socks come to life and play a sick game of hide and seek. What happens between the hamper, washer and dryer? Which, by the way, are all kept in the same 3 foot space. And then begins the time consuming matching up of socks. Going to college, finding your soul mate, falling in love, planning a wedding, getting pregnant and giving birth to 2 children has taken up less time and caused less stress and fristration than matching up socks and their owner. I've decided that Christian will wear only white socks. Sara will wear anything but white socks. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to kick a kid to the curb to catch a bus then discovering that she is trying to put on her 3 year old brother's socks. Maybe we should move to a warm climate and only wear sandals.

Our world is upside down

Paul and I have very specific roles in our life. I am the delicate flower. I am allergic to everything with fur. I catch every cold, flu, throat and ear infection. I have suffered from sciatica, strange hives, plantar fasciitis and food poisoning. He rarely gets sick. In all the years I have known him, he has had 1 knee surgery, 1 unexplained migraine headache and accompanying spinal tap, 1 strange bug bite that almost turned into gangrene. That's it. That is the sum of his medical history. He is annoyingly and reassuringly healthy. While accompanying him on his rare trips to the ER, I go all Shirley MacLaine, Terms of Endearment on everyone wearing a lab coat.

I am the organized one. He is the calm, rational, reasonable and logical one. I am anything but. He is the repairman. I am the reason for most repairs being needed. So, when he gets sick, it really throws our world upside down. Unlike most men, he is not a crybaby. He is annoyingly stoic and refuses all attempts to help or nurture him. He has been afflicted with kidney stones. While I strenuously disagree that passing a 3 millimeter stone is comparable to birthing a 10.5 pound baby, I am sure it is painful. I know this because my husband actually went to the hospital AND stayed home from work. I think I just saw a pig fly past my house.

So, Christian and I have been nursing him back to health. We have one (and only one) very vital role. We are in charge of water. I open the freezer. Christian puts 5 (no more, no less) ice cubes in the cup. I fill it with water. Christian carries the water to Paul and orders him to drink it. Then he kisses Paul's belly.

I really hope our world returns to normal soon. For everyone's sake.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Teacher conferences

Every teacher conference I have ever had about Sara has gone the exact same way: She is very bright, excels academically but, for the love of all things good and holy, can she please try listening occasionally? And, by the way, she is the most stubborn and obstinate child on the planet. The phrase should be changed from stubborn as a mule to stubborn as Sara. And, why on earth does she think she is on equal footing with the teachers? She does not have the right to negotiate, and/or argue, debate every little aspect of her education. And, if there is a more unorganized child, no one has ever met him or her.

Don't get me wrong. I have a very open mind and would love to get some insight into my child. 99% of the time I am in the teacher's side because we face the same challenges at home. We need all the support we can get. And if someone has a brilliant plan to help us handle our smart but stubborn child, I am all ears. I fully support teachers. I know how challenging their job is and how over-worked and underpaid they are. I could never face what they face every day without developing an anger management and drinking problem. I fully support any and all efforts her teachers make to help Sara excel in school, academically and socially. Sara can be her own worst enemy. She loves people and wants to be friends with everyone. Sometimes her eagerness gets in her way and she scares people off. Luckily, her teacher this year sees this and works with Sara in a very effective manner. I'm drafting a proposal for her to live with us continually until Sara goes off to college. I think she may go for it. She's a teacher. She is a glutton for punishment, hard working and willing to work for little pay. Now I just have convince Paul and her teacher to accept it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happy birthday, Dad

We recently gathered back home to celebrate my dad's birthday. It was a great occasion for a great man. His friends, children, grandchildren, sister and friends came to celebrate.

I have always been a daddy's girl. Growing up with 5 older brothers, I needed to be. He made sure I felt special. I got to watch him shave on Sunday mornings before church. I went to the office with him on Saturdays. Every year, we went shopping for my new winter coat. He skied with me on the bunny hills because he knew I was afraid of the chair lift. He held my poles for me and let me wait until a chair came around that matched my coat. When I was 15 my mom passed away and he had a new role to fill - mother to 6 children. Suddenly he had to learn how to grocery shop, cook and deal with a teen age girl with no reinforcements or backup. He worked full time. He rearranged his travel schedule to be home more. He hosted slumber parties for my friends. He went prom dress shopping with me. Note to all fathers - bad idea. He wanted me to wear a burka. I wanted to dress like a Vegas showgirl. We found a compromise. Whenever possible, he brought me on his trips. He made sure we visited all my brothers at college. Everyone came home for every holiday. He planned vacations for us. He drove us all to college. We each got a calling card so we could call him or each other anytime. If one of us was unlucky enough to be in a fender bender, his only question was if we were all right. He wasn't perfect. For example, he is the last person to go to for dating advice as a teenage girl. His advice always involved me sitting home in a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers. If I came to him with a problem, he listened and offered good advice. Not that I always took it. I was a teenager and knew it all. Now, I live a state away and talk to him every day. I call to tell him funny stories about the kids and keep him up to dat on our lives. As a grandfather, he attends every baptism, First Communion and graduation. He visits as often as he is invited.

This weekend, Sara had a choice about how to spend Friday. She choose breakfast at my dad's house and spending the day with him (no mom or brother around to interfere). Those two are quite the duo. She asks a million questions and he answers them all. He listens to her with 100% attention. He is completely and utterly unable to say no to her. If its legal and safe, he will let her do it. Sometimes I cannot believe the things she has conned him into. They have a special tree they share. Each visit, she insists they visit 'The Sara and Grumpy Observing Tree' and no one else can come. She waters all his plants. They play checkers and she shows him her journal. Then she has to jump on his bed and hide notes for him around the house. As kids, we were never even allowed in our parent's bedroom much less sit or jump on their bed. Different rules for different generations is his defense/excuse. Each accomplishment or milestone reached warrants a call to him. Each time, he reacts like the grandkids have discovered gravity or cured cancer and Alzheimer's. You have never seen a grown man be so impressed with a child who used the potty for the first time. We potty trained Sara by promising she could call Grumpy every time. He took each call with appropriate delight. It make me wonder what his secretary thought. Until we moved to Indiana, the kids and I had weekly lunches with him. As a result, my father probably knows my kids as well as I do. He knows their moods, likes and dislikes, favorite foods and toys. He sends postcards from every trip and cards for every occasion and holiday. Sara keeps them in a special box called her "things that make me happy box".

When my kids know he is coming over, they perch at the dining room window and wait impatiently. My son spends three days after a visit looking all over our house for him. It's the saddest game of hide-and-seek ever.

At the party this weekend, several people gave toasts. My oldest brother talked about what an amazing father and family man my dad is. From him we learned the value and importance of family. His colleagues spoke about what a well respected attorney he is. His friends talked about their long friendship. If you asked my father to describe himself in a few words they would be -father, grandfather, brother and friend. From his example. I hope my kids learn that family is forever. Family comes first. Be there for the people in your life. Because of his example, I have friends in my life that I have known since I was 4. I hope I spoil my grandkids as rotten as he spoils his.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Family- you gotta love them

We just spent a busy and fun weekend back home celebrating my dad's birthday. The kids and I headed home Thursday night. We invaded our second home, ate dinner and dessert, messed up their house then snuck off to our hotel. While I unpacked all of our earthly possessions, the kids played with the unplugged telephones. Why are they so obsessed? Every time we are in a hotel they spend an insane amount of time making pretend phone calls.

The next morning we showed up at my dad's for the traditional made to order breakfast. Yes, my Harvard educated father impresses my kids with his eggs and pancakes. Ever the well-mannered kids, Christian insulted the bacon and stole my aunt's bagel. Sara decides she is going to spend the day with my dad and aunt (without asking them first). After Christian's nap, we meet the family for lunch. Christian barrels in, grabs a waiter, places an order and sits down. Sara and my dad share their traditional soup. I take Christian to a friend's house. Sara decides to bond with her teenage cousins with my dad playing chauffeur. Seriously, she has him wrapped around her finger. He would rob a bank for her if she asked and justify it as a necessary monetary transaction. That night we had a family dinner at my brother's house. See a pattern here? We show up at people's homes and they feed us. The next few hours are a blur of the kids running around like maniacs trying to play pool. Or convincing Christian that the bear skin rug on the wall will not come to life and eat him alive.

Saturday was spent trying to keep Sara and Christian from falling in the river while feeding the ducks (throwing bread at them) at the cider mill. Saturday night started with trying to convince Christian that wearing a tie and dress shoes will not inflict fatal pain. We also had to convince Sara that my dad's birthday party is not the time or place to show off her new baton twirling skills. The kids were fairly well-behaved at the party. Only one coat rack was knocked over. Christian gave a wonderful toast. Well, he stood up and screamed "happy birthday, Boppy!" I thought it was cute. Some people looked vaguely frightened. But, really, at this point they should really know what to expect from my kids when they are out in public. And they have to put up with us because they are family.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Battle Plan

Tonight, my kids tried to stage a coup. They were almost successful. My defenses were down and I was out-numbered. We went to my brother's house for a family dinner. There were 25 people running around their house. Ok, there were 23 well behaved guests and my 2 children. Sara spent the night following her teenaged cousins around. Christian chased everyone around or tried to play pool. His hand-eye coordination isn't quite up to snuff. Maybe when he can see over the pool table he will improve. After several hours of eating and playing, I decided that it was time to call it a night. It was 2.5 hours after their bedtime. Seemed reasonable to me. Here is how our departure went- several warning to clean up toys and gather belongings were ignored. Several feeble attempts at saying goodbye later, I had rallied the kids. I thought. Suddenly I realize Christian is only wearing one sock. I hunt down the missing sock. Now I have to hunt down the missing boy. I find him under the pool table. We finally make it to the front door. We gather up our multiple bags of belongings. I think we are ready to get in the car. Wrong. Neither child can find their coat. Coat hunt ensues. At this point, I am ready to just buy them new coats in the morning. Coats found. Next comes the great shoe debacle. Sara gets one shoe on then decides everyone needs one more goodbye hug and kiss. Now Christian is insisting he can put in his own shows. Sidebar- he can't. After several agonizing attempts, he admits defeat and lets me put them on. I issue this order - get your bags and get in your seats. Apparently it came out in Parseltongue because they just stared at me blankly and tried to go back to the party. We finally get in the car and head back to the hotel. Suddenly, they have lost their energy and are whining about how tired they are. They BOTH want me to carry them all the way up to our room. And all their stuff. Then Sara came up with what she thought was a brilliant solution. She wanted me to put them and their stuff on a luggage cart and push them to our room. Channeling my inner mean mommy, I made them walk to the elevator and to our room. Once in the room, they get a second wind and chase each other around the hotel room. I issue some dire threats and they rediscover how exhausted they are. Sara makes her hotel nest while I put Christian to bed. Her hotel nest is different from her home nest. It's an intricate set up of 6 strategically placed pillows. It literally forms a nest and she climbs in the middle. Heaven help housekeeping if they disturb her nest. She leaves them notes. And as all things involving Sara, they obey her. Now if I could just get her to obey me life would be good.

My legacy

All these weird facts have emerged about Gaddafi after his death. It makes me wonder what people will say and discover about me after I'm gone. Here are some possibilities:

Who will invite themselves over to our house now?
What finally killed that germ freak?
Was she chugging a diet coke when she died?
Did she ever discover her brain brake?
Was there anything she wasn't allergic to?
Did she ever learn to behave at work and family functions?

7 weird facts about me:

Yes, I'm a total germaphobe. I even wiped down a play set once. No one else was there so I thought it was ok.
In my fear of being late for things, I arrive early then drive around.
I have never bathed a child under the age of one, not even my own.
I can only snap with my right hand.
I have an irrational fear of fire. I cried at my 6th birthday because I was convinced my ponytails would catch on fire.
I had an imaginary dog who ran away.
I have never balanced a checkbook.

Aside from all my "quirks", I can be a lot of fun. Really. You should invite me over some time. I'll be well-behaved. Really.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mommy Brain

Mommy brain can be tricky. At times, you have the ability to multi-task. I can cook dinner, empty the dishwasher, help with homework and refill a sippy cup all at the same time. On the other hand, I have completely lost the ability to hold intelligent conversations or maintain a train of thought. People are tired of me stopping mid-sentence to ask "I had a point. What was it? " I also have no short term memory left. I walk into a room and forget what I was looking for. I've called my husband only to forget what I was going to ask. He has been known to use this to his advantage. I have been duped into hosting holiday parties for his office, attending faculty dinners, and hosting in-laws on 1 hour notice. His all time best caper was convincing me he had told me he was attending a conference at a posh hotel in Florida while the kids and I survived a 5 day rain storm.

The kids and I were engaging in our favorite pastime- mooching dinner and trashing someone else's house. Note - we did make the feeble empty gesture of offering to clean up. My friend, seeing straight through me and tired of feeding my family, said it was not necessary and told us not to let the door hit us on the way out. Lest you think I'm completely without manners, when I found out her husband had not eaten dinner, I did not steal the leftovers. She HAD made my favorite dinner on the planet so this did show great maturity and restraint on my part. I had invited some other neighbors over to share dessert (see- I have manners). As the 4 adults tried to converse, 7 children were running amok. I realized I could not follow a conversation or contribute in any way. I was completely fried. I had just driven 3.5 hours in the rain through the cornfields. I just sat there, nodded and smiled. When did this happen to me? Is it because I have stayed home for the last 7.5 years? Is it because my days are filled up with mundane errands and household chores? I follow the news. I like to consider myself well-read. But I realized I had nothing of value or interest to contribute, unless complaining and whining count. This may be why I avoid attending work functions with my husband. If I stay home,we save money on babysitting and his co-workers don't realize I have mommy brain and nothing to contribute to any relevant or meaningful conversations. Am I going to suffer from this diminished mental capacity forever??

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Was that out loud?

My daughter is 7. She thinks she is 17, complete with the attitude. Not a good idea. Paul is out of town so it's 2 against one. She thinks. I will not out-numbered or out-maneuvered. I am not a benevolent dictator. I am a dictator plain and simple. Do what I say. No questions. No arguments. No debates. No discussions. No negotiations. I took the kids to their art classes. I let Sara play on the computer. I took them to a friend's house to decorate Halloween cookies. We had to stop at the store briefly. Sara made the fatal mistake of saying (complete with snotty tone) "if I can't ride in the cart, then I will not cooperate". WHAT??? Did my 7 year old really just say that to me? I looked at her in the rear view mirror with a combination of shock, horror, rage and disgust. Then I pulled over so I could handle this incident safely. Her attitude quickly changed when she realized what she had said. Punishment has been rendered. She has lost cherished privileges. In addition, she is not allowed to speak to me until I decide she can do so politely. It's sort of a reverse silent treatment. Guess what? It freaks her out. Brilliant on my part. Not to mention a few peaceful minutes in the car. I may be on to something. It may be very quiet in my house when she is a teenager. We may have to brush up on our sign language skills.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One Tough Mother

My day was like the Titanic's maiden and final voyage. It started out smooth sailing. No choppy waters or bad weather. Kids marched off to school. I had a great workout. Christian took a 3 hour nap. I got a lot of PTO work done. Cleaned the house a little. Sara did her homework and took a shower with no fuss. Paul was working late so I decided to give the kids a rare treat. I announced that we would eat dinner at Chick-Fil-A and they could play in the play area. Those who know me will understand that my germ phobia prevents the kids from EVER playing in those Petri dishes. I might as well reserve an ambulance and call them in sick to school right away. Brace yourself, folks. The iceberg is straight ahead and I'm steering right towards it. Before we even walked into the restaurant, I explained that they would listen, eat, not fight or we would leave immediately. As we approached the counter to place our order, one child touched another. A minor scuffle ensued. I broke it up and made the kids stand on either side of me. Problem solved? Nope. I quickly placed our order. As I reached into my wallet, they started fighting again. Aha! Perfect teaching moment. I apologized to the cashier, canceled our order and put my money back in my wallet. The kids looked at me with that deer caught in headlights expression. They were completely baffled when I grabbed their hands and said we were leaving sans food. I was proud of myself for seizing the opportunity to teach them a lesson. I warned them. I threatened them and got to carry it out. When I issue a threat (or promise), I carry it out. I mean business.

Sara goes to CCD. Christian and I go to his soccer class. Peace and sanity have been restored. Mostly. We come home, remove shoes, wash hands and eat some food. No back talk, no fighting. Maybe this ship won't sink tonight. Maybe we will be rescued off the iceberg. I put Sara to bed. I bathe Christian. I can see the rescue boat's headlights. I'm almost saved! Sara comes into the bathroom with claims of a bad dream. Being the fabulous and sympathetic mother, I tell her that her nightmare is just beginning unless she gets into bed and stays there. (It is rare for her to pop out of bed). I'm reading with Christian in his room. I'm climbing into the life boat, folks. I'll be a survivor...... Wait, why is Christian's door opening? Intruders? Aliens? Nope, Sara comes in, dragging her giant stuffed duck. "Mom, my duck's tail is ripped. The stuffing is coming out. Can you fix it?" I give her a death stare that sends her back to bed, leaving the duck on floor with a trail of stuffing. I tuck Christian in, complete the placement of his animals and blankets, kiss him and head for the door. I pick up the DOA duck and a thought finally strikes me. HOW did Sara know her duck was bleeding stuffing when she was supposed to be asleep? Busted! I go into her room to ask this and the answer is clear. Toys are spread everywhere. Desk drawers are open. The final clincher? Her guilty look. So, her duck will be in surgery and recovering for awhile before he can come home to her. She is in solitary confinement. I mean, she is tucked into bed, sleeping sweetly. At least, she better be.

Wrongfully indignant and 3 years old

My son is a big hypocrite. He has one set of rules for himself and a whole other set of stricter rules for those around him. Today, he marched out of school full of 'righteous' indignation because "Cole hit me back". I know what you are thinking. The nerve of that kid. How dare he defend himself? I can just picture Christian's thought process on this. How dare he hit me? Doesn't he see how cute I am? Doesn't he know I'm only 3 and I can use that excuse for most of my wrongdoings? Doesn't he know that rules don't apply to me unless I decide they do? Only I am allowed to hit whenever and whomever I want. At home, he is trying to implement his set of separate and unfair rules. He is trying to convince us, his moronic, slow on the uptake, sleep deprived parents, that all food is his, regardless of who is eating it. All toys in the house are his exclusively. His sister should be willing to play with him whenever he wants. Also, she should be willing to play whatever games he chooses and play them according to his rules. Anyone who commits an offense against him or breaks any rules should be punished immediately and severely. Except him. He is above any and all reproach. Demanding an apology from him is cruel and unusual punishment. Not to mention completely out of the realm of possibility. He is like a medieval lord reigning terror over his fiefdom.

He has a couple things going against him that prevent him from being a criminal mastermind. First, he doesn't know how to commit any crime undetected. He gets caught 99.9% of the time. He is neither stealth nor sly. Second, he doesn't know how to lie convincingly. When caught, he gives us the deer in headlights look then confesses repeatedly. He thinks he will escape punishment by tossing out a quick and insincere "I'm sorry". Then he looks genuinely shocked, appalled and offended when he is punished. I know, his has wacky and unqualified parents. Poor kid.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Picky Eaters

Last week, Shine ran an open letter from an aunt to a niece about the pitfalls of being a picky eater. See the link here:

If I were the parent of that child, I would be seriously annoyed and offended. Do you think they need your help feeding their child? Do you think they need you voicing your opinion so publicly? Do you think the parents are not aware that they have a picky child and have tried everything under the sun to expand their kid's food repertoire? I am all for encouraging kids to expand their palettes. I draw the line at humiliating some young girl on the world wide web. My kids are not overly picky or fussy eaters. This is not because of some secret skill we have as parents. I think we just got lucky. My kids are greedy little moochers. And if someone has something they don't, well..... that person better be prepared to share or hand over the whole thing. I don't pontificate to my friends and family about how to feed their children. They have minds of their own and pediatricians. Unless they pay me or ask for my advice, I keep quiet. It's none of my business. And, most pediatricians will tell you that picky eating is a phase. If the kid is happy and healthy then don't get too stressed about it. I don't know if the aunt/author has children of her own but if/when she does, she better be prepared to get an earful of unsolicited advice. Before we have kids, we have this image of ourselves as perfect parents raising perfect children. News flash - there is no such thing. Even Jesus wandered off at market and scared his parents. They reprimanded him for worrying them and taking off without permission. So, if Jesus wasn't the model son and even his parents had to yell at him in public for wandering off, then maybe the idea that I or my kids will be perfect is completely out of the realm of possibility. And, maybe it doesn't always take a village to raise a child. Maybe auntie should leave the discipline and health care to the parents. She should be happy to be the fun aunt who gets to spoil the kid occasionally.

So here is my open letter to the nosy aunt:

It's easy to judge from the sidelines. Have you ever tried to convince a young child that eating whatever you put on their plate is not (a) an evil plot to ruin their life, (b) poison, (c) garbage covered in slime and heated for our sick amusement? If you have ever experienced the hell that is feeding a small child, then you would have the sense to mind your own business and trust that we are doing the best we can. Since we are sharing unsolicited opinions, here are some on the way YOU live. You are a nosy, intrusive, pontificating know-it-all. When your life is perfect, feel free to approach us about how to raise our children. Until then, feel free to visit on birthdays and holidays with large presents. Otherwise, don't call us. We'll call you.

To the aunt, I add these thoughts. You are entitled to your own opinion. You don't always have to share it. And you don't have to publish it on the Internet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Man up, Christian

My 3 year old son is slightly less than stoic. He has my coping skills and low level of frustration tolerance and flair for dramatics. If someone dares to deny him something, his response is to wail "oh, no!", cover his face with his hands and cry. If he gets frustrated, he stomps his feet and growls. Have I mentioned that he is the laziest 3 year old on the planet? At nap time, he collapses on the stairs and needs to be carried up. Do I indulge him? You bet. To get him to take his 3 hour nap, I'll carry him, sing and dance for him. If it isn't child abuse, I'll do it.

Yesterday, when he awoke from his slumber, I promptly trotted upstairs to retrieve him. Because if you make the little prince wait, he will chastise you and make you feel guilty for slacking off. "Mommy, I called and called and then I cried because you didn't come get me". I told him our friend, Maggie was here. This is the conversation that followed:

"Maggie here? Really?"
"Yes, she is downstairs waiting."
"Is she eating my num nums?"
"No, she isn't."
"I play with her?"
"Yes, stand up so we can get you dressed."
"I can't. I don't have my toes."
"Where are your toes?"
"I don't know."
"Did someone take your toes?"
"Yes, a big mean guy stole my toes."
"Well, if you don't have any toes, you can't go downstairs to play."
"Hmm..... You can carry me."

At this point I knew I had to take charge of the situation.

"Christian, look! I found your toes. You can walk."
"Hmmmm...... ok, I guess."

See? I showed him who is in charge. For the record, I didn't carry him upstairs at bedtime. Nope.

I made Paul do it. See? I AM in charge.

Motherhood - it's not for wimps

John 16:21
A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world.

It is a strange, scary and wonderful experience. It's a 24/7 job with no training or pay. You don't get a mentor. You don't even really get to retire. You don't get a grace period. There is no learning curve. You never get promoted. They just hand you a kid and say "go, take care of It and keep it alive and safe". The kids play mind games on you. They don't listen to you. They trash your house. Then, right when you are drafting the child for sale ad on eBay, they cuddle and kiss you. You get to wear your pajamas a lot. You think you are the boss but you most assuredly are not. You answer to little people who cannot feed, bathe or clothe themselves. Your day starts at the first wail of a hungry child and ends when the house is clean, dishes are washed, laundry done, lunches packed, kids are fed, bathed and asleep. Luckily, there are places to go and groups to join where you can bond and commiserate with other moms. I'm in a MOPS group and I love it. I learn that I am not the only mom who feels overwhelmed and under qualified most days. My kids are not the only ones who fight and don't listen. Best part? They watch your kids and feed you while you listen to each other's parenting woes.

You have to be strong yet flexible to be a mother. Kids throw a lot at you (all at once). You have to at least pretend to handle it with grace. Kids are smart and perceptive. They can sense things you may not even be aware of. My kids pick up when I am angry, stressed or distracted. We need to teach them everything. We need to teach them to care for themselves. We also need to teach them to care for and about others. We need to show them their place in the world. We need to hope we instill in them the skills, compassion and patience they need to be happy and successful. It is a daunting job that never ends. It's a job that can scare and thrill you all at the same time.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baggage or Memories

I have tons of memories from my childhood. I remember my imaginary dog who ran away. What can I say? I was terrified of real dogs. I remember my brothers taking my brand new doll carriage wheels to make a go-cart. Even better, I remember my parents punishing them until the end of time. I think they are all still grounded. I remember them telling my my parents had arranged my marriage to an icky boy who was a family friend. The worst part? My dad was in on the prank. Luckily, my mother straightened us all out before I took my vows at the convent. I remember the scary prank calls my brother's made to me while I was babysitting.

I remember my brother teaching me how to ride a bike in first grade while we waited for the school bus. I remember waking up at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning and crawling into my brother's bed to wait until our parents allowed us downstairs. I remember turning 16 and being allowed to drive alone to Ann Arbor to spend the day with my brother. It was amazing. We spent the whole day together. We ate burgers at the Full Moon. We had ice cream at Stucchi's. I kept the blue Jansport backpack he helped pick out until I was 27. It was held together with safety pins but it was a souvenir from a great day. I remember spending weekends at my brother's house after college. We would wake up, drink Diet Coke, eat Pop Tarts and watch cartoons.

As Roches, we have many interesting quirks. Some might call them annoying habits. We are off the charts OCD. We relish our routine snd habits. We cannot admit if we are wrong. We have very short fuses. Our ability to hold grudges makes the Mafia look like weak pansies. We watch the same movies over and over. As my brother said once (only half-kidding), "Why would you watch a move you've never seen? You don't know if you like it." People tell me that they get used to us walking around the house while we brush our teeth. What can I say? Some habits die hard. It's even more disturbing when a couple of us are in the same house. People start slamming doors on us. Rude, right?

On the plus side, we are fiercely loyal and family oriented. We will do anything for our family and friends. We are steadfast and reliable. Especially if you supply us with Bud Light, Diet Coke and chardonnay. And if you don't, we will follow you around until you give them to us.

The Simple Things

Forget expensive toys that blink, talk and move. Today, my son was enthralled, fascinated and amazed by throwing leaves into a waterfall. We had some extra time
before his art class. We spent 30 minutes throwing leaves into the waterfall and watching them float away. He was completely mesmerized and thrilled. It was so simple. He had a blast. Every time he threw a leaf and it floated away, he would squeal and giggle with delight. My 3 year old can use an Ipad with some impressive dexterity. He can put together a puzzle with the speed of MacGuyver diffusing a bomb. He knows how to use my iPhone better than I do. Yet, he spent a blissful 30 minutes watching nature at it's finest. It was a beautiful thing to experience with him.