Thursday, March 31, 2011

Messages about being a woman

I really work hard to send my daughter positive messages about being a healthy and satisfied-with-oneself woman.

I eat well with occasional treats allowed (and no saying, "I was bad. I had some cake.")
I exercise as much as I can given that two little boys in the house wake me up through the night on an all too regular basis.  
I don't wear makeup at all (thereby sending the message "I am fine as is").
I don't dress skimpy or provocatively.  (A nursing bra flap hanging out does not count.)
I wear my hair short because it looks good on me (thereby sending a message that women can still be feminine without long hair).  

And I try to tell myself that it is what she sees me do that is most important.

But I sometimes worry what message I am unintentionally sending when I get my subscriptions to Allure and US Weekly magazine, which are chock full of women all gussied up in expensive clothes, Spanxed to death, with at least 2 layers of makeup on.  They look fantastic, but they aren't real.  Because on top of all the primping and sucking in, they are Photoshopped to boot.  

And then there was the time I wanted to purchase new underwear when N and I were at the mall, and so I went to Victoria's Secret.  I just wanted some panties that weren't all stretched out from pregnancy, but since I haven't stepped into a VS in years (since before my first pregnancy in 2003) I forgot how sexy everything is.  How luscious the models are with their pictures lining the store walls.  It made me feel more than a little weird with my 7-year-old standing there taking it all in.

Of course, truth be told, I feel weird in a VS by myself.  I'm pushing 40 but I still don't feel like I'm grown-up enough to be there.

I'm not losing any sleep over this, but I do wonder how N will perceive her body and her femininity as time goes by.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My notes to myself

I finally bought a small notepad to keep in the car so that I can write down all the junk that runs through my head as I'm driving or waiting at stoplights.  I have some of my best blog ideas while driving.  And things I need to do also tend to pop into my brain while I'm on the road.  Of course once I've got a couple of pages filled in my notepad, I tear them out and bring them into the house where they then linger on my desk.

So in bold are the words I jotted down in my notepad and everything else is what I wanted to say about them.

One day after picking N up from school I saw a bumper sticker that read, "You don't have to believe everything you think," which reminded me of how my brain operated during the worst of my nervous breakdown in 2004.  I go for many months most of the time without thinking about my anxiety, my OCD, my mood issues, my breakdown.  But then something will remind me.  My brain used to be far more critical of my mothering than it is now.  Perhaps I'm just too busy taking care of the kids that I don't have the time or energy to give it much notice.  I have learned that my brain sometimes thinks what it wants, but that doesn't mean it is right or true.  Or that I have to go along with it.

My brain was critical if I wasn't spending 99.9% of my time fawning over N.  Now with both the boys and trying to keep up with them and stay on top of the house and N's activities and school work, it is simply an impossible task to spend oodles of time directly in G and M's faces, or in N's on the weekends.  I have finally accepted that there are some things I kinda suck at and dislike about SAH mothering and some things I am really exceptionally good at.  I like to think my enthusiasm for learning, for reading, is something I transmit to the kids.  And that my desire to experience life, to get out and do and see, is something they will take with them.  It is a good thing to get excited by watching animals, squealing maybe a little bit when a bunny runs out from behind the bushes.  And I'm talking about reaction.

I have eaten a tremendous amount of crow since having my children.  All the things I used to see parents do and "poo poo" in my head are things I now do on a regular pick up a box of crackers, open it in the middle of the aisle, and stuff my kids with them, sometimes paying for an empty package by the time we reach checkout.  But I will not have tvs in bedrooms.  D and I don't have one in our bedroom (because, honestly, like I need something besides the 3-foot tall stack of books on my bedside table to distract me from having sex).  Our kids will not get tvs in their bedrooms.  I have told D that the kids will not have computers in their bedrooms. The chances of them getting cell phones is pretty slim.  I, of course, reserve the right to change my mind, but I just have serious qualms about kids having a vast array of technology at their fingertips to use in private.  Of course, I live in the stone age and have never texted before.  I have been accused of being a Luddite.

And yet, here I am blogging.

I heard a show on NPR and learned that I may or may not be a Gen Xer, as I always thought I was.  Apparently I need to read the book Boom, Bust and Echo.

G has been a good source of material in my notepad.  He about blew my mind when he asked, "Mommy, turn it on "Ih Ovatakes Me."  At first I had no clue what he was talking about, but then I realized he was requesting a Flaming Lips song.  Is my son totally AWESOME or what???

And then a couple days later, on 3-23, he said, "That cloud looks like a dolphin."  And it did.

Ok, I can now commence with throwing these small snippets of paper in the garbage.
My thoughts are saved for posterity.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

She will not make it to teenager-hood

Today I have gotten a glimpse of what my daughter will be like as a teenager:  a complete shithead.

She has been resisting doing her reading journal for school for awhile now.  The reading itself is not the problem.  As best I can tell, she is at a high 3rd grade/low 4th grade reading level.  She just doesn't want to take the time to do it.

To make a long story short, she asked me to buy her a book set at her school's book fair two weeks ago.  I told her I would buy them but that she'd have to earn them by being cooperative and respectful about doing her reading responses.  She was better during the time she was "earning" her books.

(When she does them, she can either read aloud to me or read silently to herself.  Either way, I ask her questions about her reading afterwards to ensure she understood what she read.  And then I ask her questions to help her write her extended responses when she does those.)

Today I told her she could read while I was putting G down for a nap and then we'd talk about what she read afterward.  When I came downstairs and started asking her about her reading, she kept saying, "I don't remember," to which I replied, "Well read right here, then, to refresh your memory."  I tried asking her my question in a different way in case I was phrasing it awkwardly.  Still, "I don't remember," followed by my prompt to re-read.

After about the third time, she started to just be sassy, so I told her she wouldn't be able to play at her Mamaw's house tomorrow.  Now I generally avoid using time with grandparents as a disciplinary measure (just as I generally don't take away bedtime reading time since it serves a good purpose on its own), but I had told her yesterday that she would have to do a reading log on Saturday and Sunday before going to Mamaw's house.  If she was being uncooperative on Saturday, I figured it would be even worse on Sunday.  Perhaps the threat of not going to Mamaw's would snap her into shape.

She immediately said she'd be cooperative, so I told her if she did anything disrespectful to me or her dad the rest of the day she would NOT go to Mamaw's tomorrow.

And dammit if that child didn't do the EXACT same "I don't remember" crap and refuse to reread the part she didn't remember.

The next half hour was her crying, threatening that she would just walk to Mamaw's house tomorrow, begging, pleading, telling me she hated me, blah, blah, blah.  And then when I said I was going to the grocery, she begged to come with me, that she wanted to stay with me.  I unequivocally told her NO WAY, that I didn't want to spend the next two hours listening to her beg me to go to Mamaw's.

I told her that while I really hated for her to lose her fun time with Mamaw, apparently she will only be cooperative about doing her reading logs when she can get something for the books or playing at Mamaw's....and that in our house we are cooperative with each other because it makes life easier for everyone and is the respectful way to be.

This whole episode discombobulated me to the point that I, EGADS, forgot my coupons in the car when I went to the store, requiring me to leave my cart after walking around the store for a good 20 minutes and go back to the car to retrieve them.

D said she slept for 45 minutes while I was at the grocery, evidence that tiredness played a role in her mental collapse.

But I'm still holding firm, tiredness as a cause or not.

I hate having to deprive her of something fun as a disciplinary measure, but I also don't think kids who act like assholes to their parents and fail to take their schoolwork seriously deserve to get whatever the hell they want.  There are consequences to treating people like shit and not doing what needs to be done in the real world.  She needs to understand that.

But it still sucks.
For both of us.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dear Justin Bieber (and other wonderful writings)

Dear Justin Bieber,
I've got a poster of you, a notebook, a folder, a catalog of you.  One time I wanted to paint a picture of you it didn't workout!  I love the song Never Say Never.  I love you!  I know that your dating Selena Gomez!  Your and Selena Gomezs songs are the best!!!

Love, your fan N
I am seven years old

P.S. Your cute and I never saw your movie.  :(


A New Monkey Friend

Once there was a monkey named Caroline.  She didn't have any friends.  One day she went to the park.  She went on the monkey bars first then she went on the swings next.  Then another monkey came  His name was Nathan.  Nathan was an African monkey.  Caroline was a zoo monkey.  Nathan looked differinter than Caroline.  Caroline looked pretty to Nathan.  Nathan said "Will you play with me?"  Caroline said "Sure"!  "Great"!  Nathan said.  So they played happily ever after.  The end.  

I saw that a local magazine was having a contest for young writers, ages 6-10.  The topic was to write about their super hero....someone from their real life.  N wrote the entire thing, and I very gently helped her edit it.  

I admire my friend Maya.  She is funny and huggable.  She play’s games with me like card games in the gym in the morning.  At lunch she shares cheese balls, cheese sticks, brownies, and all kinds of deserts but not cake.  She is my number one friend.  I’m her BFF.  I love her.  She is nice and kind.  She gave me a  pencil when there where no more pencils in the out box.  I had asked all the people at my table for one but they didn’t have any.  She wears pretty clothes.  And she is my super hero.


Sunday, March 13, 2011


I don't think I'm a particularly naggy wife.  
A nagging mother.....ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY.  With kids, you have to repeat yourself 10 gazillion-trillion times before they finally get it through their thick skulls.
But apparently, I am a naggy wife.

My husband's work does a wellness check every six months as part of our health care....checking glucose levels, cholesterol, waist measurement, blood pressure.  D has had high triglycerides for years, even before his company started this program.  This last go-round, though, his good cholesterol is too low, so I told him he needs to see the doctor so he knows whether he should begin medication.

Now there are two reasons for me saying this to my husband.

The first and least important reason is because his company gives cash incentives to employees for keeping their health steady or improving it from one assessment to another.  And by cash incentive, in the past it has been up to $250 per person twice a year  So together, D and I could basically earn up to $1000 a year just by maintaining our health.  And if your assessment shows a new issue, but you speak to the clinic doctor and deal with it, you may still be able to qualify for the incentive.  As we are going to Disney in June, I sure as shit am not going to sniff at an extra $500.

BUT the second and MOST important reason I want him to see the doctor is because he has had high triglycerides for a number of years, now has a new issue, and his dad who also had high triglycerides died at age 58 of a major heart attack.  His dad died entirely too young.  He didn't get to see N's first birthday.  He never met our two boys.  He hasn't been able to experience all this great stuff that has been our lives for the last six years.

Apparently, asking once a week for the past month is nagging.
Apparently, it takes hours upon hours to make a phone call or walk downstairs to make an appointment at the clinic in person.
Apparently, my children are not the only thick-headed people in this house.

SAHM, professional household manager, domestic engineer.....

Blogs I read often act a springboard for my own writing and reflecting.  And then life events are obvious fodder.

Recently my friend K blogged about how she likes the description "homemaker" and is happy with her choice to be one for the past seven years which, like many of her blog posts, got me thinking about my own experience as a homemaker.

Within the same week, I heard a phrase I hear fairly often which is, "I don't know how you stand staying home with your kids."  Again, more reflecting.....

I am always glad to be a stay-at-home mom for the following reasons:

1. Young childhood is the shortest stage of a person's life, and I want to experience as much of my children's as I can.

2. If I am going to spend 35-40 hours a week with anyone's children, I want it to be my own.  I loved teaching, but I think it is far more important for me to be with my own kids during the years of greatest developmental change than with other people's.

3. It would cause me an insane amount of stress trying to do manage the logistics of working outside the home full-time with very young children.  I know other people do it, but I don't know how.   I would be striving to be the good teacher I wanted to be, as well as the good mother I thought I should be and succeeding in nothing.  Because a person simply cannot have it all at the same time.  It is impossible.  And I have no desire to be a whirling dervish by trying.

4. My husband is simply not the type of guy who could manage getting 3 young kids up and out to daycare or school every day on his own.  He is very skilled at what he does, but wrangling kids is not his forte.  If he had to do this, his misery would know no limits.....and neither would mine.  

5. I get to wear jeans/yoga pants

However, there are plenty of reasons why sometimes I hate staying at home.

1. Although there is considerable flexibility for a stay-at-home mom since I don't have to clock-in at a certain time, my day's schedule is dictated by my children....their hunger, their activity level, their sleep needs.  My "little bosses" control my day.

2. Young children are extremely ego-centric, even when you do everything in your power to help them be respectful, and there is nothing fun or rewarding about having shit demanded of you 8-10 hours a day.  At least most grown-ups in the workplace know how to act civil.  That is not the case of the under 4 crowd.

3. Without a paycheck, an annual review or the like, there is often very little appreciation shown to a stay-at-home mom.  The appreciation that is shown is obsessive with little ones clinging to your legs constantly or crying uncontrollably when you leave....they simply don't think they can function without you.  Which sounds ego-boosting except that it means you are responsible for everything.  And everything weighs a ton.

4. One's brain does atrophy a bit when one doesn't get time to engage one's brain on an adult level by reading books, conversing with other adults, developing or enhancing one's professional skills/credentials.

5. An at-home mom can accomplish an extraordinary amount in any given day and yet it seems like nothing.  I can call 3 electricians for estimates, make 3 beds, do 2 loads of laundry, make supper, take the boys out somewhere fun, feed morning snack, lunch and afternoon snack, read 3 books to each boy before nap, pick the older one up from school and help her with homework, pay bills online, take the recyclables out to the bin, and clean up the living room 8 times.  And yet none of this is worthy of conversation or memorable as having been accomplished.

All of my days at home have an ebb and flow, and within those tides I move between being glad to be where I am and wishing I could just escape for awhile.

I never, ever wish I was working outside the home, though.  As hard as doing what I'm doing sometimes is, I never want additional work.

So I guess that means I'm satisfied.....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Advertising phraseology that drives me nuts

Today my dear mom stayed home with the boys so I could run some errands---picking up play sand and lava rock at Home Depot, buying a frame at Michael's for N's new Justin Bieber poster, picking up $5 tees at Old Navy.

As I was leaving Michael's, I happened to notice the ad they had stapled to my receipt which read, "Buy More, Save More."

Is there no more irritating and oxymoronic advertising phrase on the planet?
How on g*d's green earth is it possible to buy more (otherwise known as spending money) and still miraculously save more money?
It is, as Vizzini says in The Princess Bride, INCONCEIVABLE!

As much as I love to save money, if I could save more money by spending more money I would have started doing it a long time ago.

No wonder we have debt problems in this country.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fall out boy

There is a reason I don't very often break the routine of my days.  Today was a good reminder of why.

Yesterday was my nephew's 6th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.  The party was scheduled for 1:30 which is G's naptime, but I knew that he would hate to miss the party.  And I also knew that N probably would not be able to keep her mouth shut that she had been to the party.  So I took him with the intention of coming home around 3:00 to get him down for a short nap before we headed to Mamaw's for our regular Sunday evening meal.

Hell was paved a little bit yesterday with these intentions since when I checked my watch it was 3:05, and they were getting ready to do cake.  I couldn't pull G away at cake, so by the time we left it was nearing 4:00.  He hadn't thrown a fit upon leaving and didn't seem to be in too bad of a condition, so I decided to skip the nap and go on to Mamaw's.  And the whole night he was really well behaved.

Which should have been my clue that there would be all kinds of hell to pay today.

He was fine throughout the morning, did great at his speech session, but I decided to swing by Target to get pull-ups (we are off the potty-training bandwagon because G holds his pee, refuses to go in the potty, and will only do his business in a pull-up anyway).  

G knows the routine at the store is "Get Mommy's stuff first, and then we look at toys," and he is usually a-ok with this, especially when I let him look through the Dollar Spot before checking out.  It feels like he's getting visits to two toy sections instead of just one.

But today when I told him, after a few warnings, that it was time to go to the Dollar Spot and then checkout, he started screaming, throwing a tantrum that was like 5 times the size and scale of his normal tantrum.  It started in the toy section and continued throughout the store until we got to checkout (I skipped the Dollar Spot).  I couldn't even hear what the cashier was saying because G was screaming so loudly.  I think she may have asked me, "How are you today?" to which I replied, "How do ya think?"  (This chick clearly doesn't have kids.)  I had put G in the basket but he kept standing up, trying to hit me as I was paying, screaming that blood-curdling, make the dead roll in their graves scream.

And the screaming continued out the door, into the parking lot, in the car, all the way home.  Unfortunately, when G screams, M usually starts too, so for awhile I had both of them at it in the confined space of the car, and it was at this point that I shoved pieces of kleenex in my ears.  At one point, when G took a breather from screaming but M continued, G yelled at me, "Mommy, MAKE M STOP SCREAMING!  It's hurting my ears!"

Which would have been funny if I wasn't so completely undone emotionally and frackin' exhausted from having to contend with him during this entire episode.

Days like this are the reason I do not exercise on a regular basis.  Who the fuck has energy after this kind of shit?

Friday, March 4, 2011

A month or so into speech therapy

Maybe it's my imagination, but G seems slightly easier to understand.  Could be the speech sessions or him just adding a month or so to his development or both.  I had to call the dentist, whom we just saw on Wednesday, about his palate, which is high and narrow according to the therapist.  I don't know if they will even do spacers for kids as young as he is, but if so, that could be in the near future.

I am going to try to make a real concerted effort to only allow him his pacifier at rest times since I know that affects the shape of his mouth.  With that being said, there will be some occasions when I just let him have it because I am not willing or able to tolerate another tantrum.  He is 3, after all.  By the time D gets home from work sometimes, G and I are having knock-down dragouts, or at least it feels that way to me.

And I'm going to start giving him "real" cups now instead of sippies.

I guess I've sorta forgotten this from back in the days when N was a newborn and I had to do PT on her for her torticollis, but one of the hardest things about parenting is doing health-related things for and to your kids that you know is best for them but either 1. hurts them, 2. pisses them off, or 3. makes your life at least 9 times harder than it already is.  Like one more thing to do on your list of never-ending things to do.

If I'm honest, there are some words I really don't want G to say properly because saying them wrong is just so very cute.  Like ameeyals for animals.  

Of course, if saying animals incorrectly was the biggest of his speech issues he wouldn't be in speech at all.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I've never been HERE before

My original plan was to nurse N until she was 2 years old, but a nervous breakdown, mastitis and a ductal yeast infection in the same effin' breast,  and her disinterest in extended nursing foiled those plans.  She weaned at 12 months.

With G, I wanted to get to 12 months, and he weaned at 14 months.

With both of them, it got to the point where they only wanted to nurse right before bedtime at night, and would latch on for 15 seconds before instantly falling asleep and biting my nipple.

Now M is almost 17-months-old and is a total boob dude.  He loves to nurse, especially in the morning when I've got 12 hours worth of milk just sitting there waiting for him.   I finally night-weaned him in December, but he probably nurses 5-6 times a day, and sometimes even more.  And when he wants to nurse and for some reason I can't nurse him, he cries and pulls on my shirt and bangs his head into my leg and just makes for a very unpleasant baby.

He refuses to drink cow's milk.  So I keep nursing him because 1. he obviously likes it, 2. he needs milk from somewhere, and 3. I seriously don't want to deal with him being fussy and unhappy all.the.time.  Because I don't mind nursing him.

But here's the rub.  I've started to get comments.  From people that I can't really tell to go fuck themselves.  (Believe it or not, there are some people, although very few, to whom I would not say this phrase.)

The comments aren't made to me, but to M, on the order of, "You don't need that, you big boy."

Now to my way of thinking, if he comes up to me, cries to be held and then pulls on the collar of my shirt to nurse, I think that is his way of saying, "I do need this, people."

By the third kid, you think you've been there, done that, but then voila!  A situation you've never experienced before.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I'm glad I'm not the only one

I'm glad I'm not the only mom going through a funk.  Midwest Mom and MO Mommy are both in states of emotional disarray, of sorts.

In the past month, I've booked a vacation to DisneyWorld.  This week I've hired a carpet cleaning company to clean every staple of carpet and tile in my house to the tune of $600+ as a means of refreshing the house.  I have begun a list of outdoor things that need to be accomplished as soon as the weather is consistently cooperative.

Even though I don't feel particularly out of sorts, I am apparently in need of change, of a stirring things up. The monotony of winter, of gray, of cold has gotten to me.

I have even been thinking about growing my hair out again.  And buying myself some Old Navy new shirts for the warmer months.
And purchasing some sandals.

You know something is amiss with me when I am daydreaming about shopping and for goddamn sandals, at that.