Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A real mom

I probably have friends who start to think I'm one of THOSE moms.....the ones who are crafty and who keep a neat house and who are patient with their children.  

And then they remember that I'm Carrie, a tell-it-like-it-is mom.

So I'm gonna tell it like it is...

1. I do crafts and projects so that I don't have to play Star Wars or Superheroes and Barbies.

2. I make ugly birthday cakes for the kids because of #1 and because I am a cheap-ass and don't want to pay Kroger to make a cake that I can make for pennies.  

3. My house may be neat, but my bathrooms are FUNKY.  My kitchen floor is rarely mopped.  Neatness should not be confused with cleanliness; they are different beasts.  

4. At least a week and a half out of every month I have to take extra antidepressants so I don't rip my children's heads off with my bare teeth.  

5. If you haven't heard me screeching my children's names at Target, then you don't live within a 10-mile radius of the Target we frequent.  

6. I generally wear the same pants a few times a week.  When I notice a snot stain, I change.  But I have to notice it.  

7. I don't know what I'm doing.  In general, but especially when it comes to mothering my children.  

See, not one of THOSE moms.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My 5-year boy

(I'll be busy this week making an ugly birthday cake/cake pops, so I'm posting this a couple days in advance.)

Dear G,

When I learned during my 37th week of pregnancy that you were breech, a dear friend of mine said you wanted to forge your own unique path into the world.  Her comment gave me pause and comfort.  I should have known you'd be a determined, do-it-your-own way boy.

Comin' out ass just like you.

Your first smiles were huge, and they continue to be to this day.  When you are happy, your smile takes over your entire face.  Your eyes crinkle in delight!  Your laugh makes me laugh, especially when it is that deep belly laugh that you cannot stop.  

You generally tend to go whole hog....headfirst into a new experience.  Full of excitement and enthusiasm.

E is for energy too!

You are very curious and strangely quiet at times as you observe and investigate.  You love to ask questions, and Daddy and I get such a kick out of the off-the-wall queries you often pose to people.  You sense our delight with this and often ask, "Mommy, was that a great question?"

You like to be helpful, often asking me if you can throw laundry into the washing machine.  You feel proud when you can help others.

You are also a tremendous ham-bone, doing things intentionally to try to make other people laugh.

As fearless as you sometimes are about big things, you can be a scaredy cat about noises or things that I wouldn't expect you to fear.

 You held your ears through the aquarium.  The entire time.  

You are a constant whirling band of motion and loud noise until you are tired at which point you become a whiny, lazy bag of bones.  I don't how many times a day I tell you, "Mommy just can't tolerate the whining."  Daddy even found an old Joe Piscapo skit from Saturday Night Live called "The Whiners" to show you what you sound like (which you thought was hilarious).

Even when, or especially when I think you haven't been listening to a word I've said, I find you mentioning something later on that shows you had your ears on the entire time, taking it all in.  

You have always had your own unique, G way of doing sucking your pacifier and your thumb at the same time when you were a baby.  Daddy called this your thumb condom.

Or insisting on wearing your shark helmet to the Mall.
Or being super persnickety about how your socks and shoes feel on your feet.

You do push my buttons and I often think of you as my "challenging" child, but I also know that it is because you are so much like me.....persistent to a fault, high energy, hard to settle.   You are just contending with the genes and personality life handed you.

There is so much joy in you, and you bring so much joy to me, even when I am frustrated.  Life works in mysterious ways, and there is something life wants me to understand which is why it made me your mom.

Words cannot express the deepness of my love for you, my amusing and spirited 5-year-old boy!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

My writing "niche"

I've known for a long time that my blogging style is better described as "bitching."

It seems that my freelance writing niche is "discussing uncomfortable topics that most people avoid like the plague but that I personally enjoy mulling over because 1. I am a glutton for punishment and 2. I think some things need to be said/admitted/shared to make people feel not so alone."

I've written about my mood disorder.  I've written about how I sometimes feel like beating the holy hell out of my children.  I have a piece coming out soon in which I interviewed couples who had gone through marriage counseling....a topic most couples don't readily admit to having done because it seems like it is a failure if you pull an objective, trained coach in to help you navigate the challenges that marriage can bring.

The hardest part is finding people who are willing to be interviewed.  Not everyone like to discuss those "unpleasantries" of life.   I suspect, though, that when people read what I've written they think, "Thank g*d she said that.  I feel the exact same way."  It makes me feel good that perhaps I've helped someone feel not so alone.

I am really enjoying all aspects of freelance work--the constructive criticism my editor gives me, the elation I feel when I take a wonky end paragraph and work it into something that just feels so right.  I was never a sportswoman so I can only imagine that nailing an ending is like shooting one from half-court.

I enjoy telling the kids I am "working" on a writing piece.  Although I do work around the house all.the.time, my kids seem to take my freelance work more seriously.  They are apt to give me 15 whole seconds of peace instead of the usual 3.

It astounds me a bit that I've been writing for my magazine for 2-and-a-half years or so.  I'm not sure how long this will last, so I'm going to enjoy the ride and continue padding my portfolio.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Birthday plans

Next week G turns the big 5, a milestone that saddens me a bit.  I remember so much from N's first 5 years.  As my one and only for most of that time, I was able to focus all of my attention on her growth and development, to notice every single change.  

With G becoming the middle child 11 days after he turned 2, I have to queue up the home videos to remember much of his toddler time.  N started elementary school around the same time so distractions abounded.

We are doing it up big this year---a My Gym party with playgroup and preschool friends.  I've purchased the Avenger plates and napkins.  His presents are awaiting wrapping.  And I am thinking about the treats for the occasion that I have brewing in my imagination.  

I am making Avenger-inspired cake pops for his My Gym party, but I want to have a little something on his actual birthday which falls a few days earlier.  So I think I'm going to make a small Hulk cake topped with cake pops that may or may not end up looking like Iron Man, Thor and Captain America.  I'm sure it will be ugly......but made with love.  

Once again I'm swallowing that uncomfortable feeling I get when people RSVP and ask what G would like as a gift.  A part of me wants to say, "Oh don't get him anything," but I know people won't do that, and I know that as a 5-year-old, G wants toys.  I'm always amazed by the kids who forego presents to make a donation to a charity.  I think it is great and kinda freakish (but then I'm a selfish prig so what do I know).  

So I just say something vague like, "Anything your boys would like," or "He likes typical boy things." A non-answer answer to their kind question.  

I am a big book giver, a gift-giving habit I find many people do not share with me.  My kids rarely, if ever, get books as gifts....unless I specifically tell one of the grandmas that the kids want certain books.  Santa, the Easter Bunny and Mommy/Daddy always give books.  A child can have too many toys and clothes, but never, ever too many books.    

G pulled a typical "mind-changing trick" on me.  He asked for a large Captain America doll action figure, but then earlier this week when we saw it at Target  he decided he wanted Iron Man or the Hulk.  I'm hoping his elation over his big party will ease the pain of getting Captain America.  (M is getting the Hulk....because I just cannot buy 2 identical gifts for the pains me to even think about having 2 identical toys in my house.  I can't explain this phobia.)

So next week will be chock full of homemade cake and buttercream icing making, as well as wrangling with fondant and sugar sheets, substances I have never used before.  

My hopes are high, as they always are.  Reality never, ever matches my dreams, but that is the beauty of children's birthdays. 

In the end, if it has sugar and icing, they so don't care. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

First full week of "normal" and I'm beat

I seem to remember signing up for 2 classes once.....the fun kid classes where I get to spend quality time with the kids in an environment where I don't have to clean or do laundry or get snacks or any of the 4 trillion other things that distract me from spending quality time with my kids at home.

Anyway, once we took 2 classes at the same time, and I think I remember saying I wouldn't do that again.  But I did.  And now I'm tired.

Because now, in addition to 2 classes, I'm working out 2 mornings a week (not the same mornings as the classes).  And then there's M's playgroup, which also isn't on the class mornings but is on the workout mornings.

Suffice it to say, my house looks crummy.

Of course, I have been working on the outside of the house now that it is less than 100 degrees outside.  Sealing/staining the swingset.  Working on landscaping in the front of the house (which D and I finished today).  I need to take down the compost bin (which has ripped and is no longer turn-able).  There is also the garage re-do....painting and reorganizing....on the agenda this fall.

I'm also doing birthday preparations.  Buying plates/cups/napkins last week.  Buying stuff to make homemade cake pops this weekend.

As busy as things are right now, I'm not complaining.  Really.
Because I am getting a break from my kids, they aren't watching tv all freaking day, and I am not having the pack the cooler and drag life vests from the car to the pool.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

She moves in miserly ways

Today I dropped off close to 200 items (toys, books and kids' clothes) to sell at a local ginormous consignment sale.  It makes me a little sick to my stomach because that is a lot of sh*t.  And my stack was nuthin' compared to a lot of the other moms who were dropping off all their stuff.

I like to play a game as I'm considering what to purge at these consignment sales.  It's called, "I Didn't Spend Money on That."

Most of the stuff I sell I didn't actually buy.  This doesn't mean I only sell stuff that other people give the kids.  It means that even though we have oodles of kid stuff, a sizable chunk of it comes from other people at Christmas and birthdays.  From where I sit at the kitchen table, I can see 5 toys:  Lincoln Logs, a Thomas the Train ride-on toy, a Fisher Price Little People tall ramp, a Fisher Price Little People small ramp, and a Fisher Price Little People Batman ramp.  D and I purchased one---the tall Fisher Price ramp.  Everything else was from an aunt/uncle/grandparent.

I tell myself that aunts/uncles/grandparents would prefer that I sell gently used items so that I can purchase the clothes/shoes that I put on the kids' backs during the next season (which will then be sold down the line).

I buy a lot of G's stuff at consignment because as a boy, he generally doesn't care what he wears, whether it matches, or whether it has "bling" on it.  And boys are hard on clothes....all that wrestling in Target and all tends to take its toll on fabric.  Since I know M will one day wear whatever I purchase for G, buying gently used is especially thrilling.  If I can get some pants for $3, I've only spent a dollar and half per boy.  Huzzah!!!

I've gotten to the point with N that I don't want to shop with her (because that is just annoying), but I don't want to shop without her (because she is so darn picky, and I don't want to spend money on something she won't wear).

Hey, I made a reference to another U2 song without ever actually intending to.  Cool.  

As I'm going through kid stuff prior to consignment, I sometimes wonder if I am a complete miser.  I have friends who just donate their stuff to like....anyone.  I am not so giving.  I have certain giving requirements, which is that the recipient is either family OR needy (as in 18, unmarried or unplanned pregnancy or all of these).  I don't just give stuff to my stay-at-home mom friends, most of whom are like me, upper-middle-class suburban moms whose husbands make decent (if not really great) money.

I've had friends just give me stuff, but I always, always offer to pay them.  I wish they would let me....mostly to lessen my feelings of miserliness when I don't give them stuff.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Marriage and appliances

D and I have been married almost 15 years.  Since we went from our parents' homes to our own own, we bought everything new or was gifted it as a wedding present.

This means that now everything has broken or is hell-bent on just being an ass and completely unreliable.

This summer we purchased a new dishwasher, microwave and refrigerator.  This weekend it was a new vacuum.  I will be glad if we don't have to purchase or repair anything else for a good long time so we can recoup the savings in our accounts.

It seems the demise of appliances is akin to the demise of marriages.  It seems like every week I hear of another couple whose marriage (in the 13-18-year range) has gone caput.  As much as it saddens me to spend money, it saddens me more to hear of heartbreak.

Like the human body, none of this stuff just up and dies.  It is a slow decline.  Time and routine and monotony and injury and dust and defective parts play their roles until it seems best just to euthanize it and move on.  Cut your losses.  Find someone (or something) new.

And while there is excitement over having something new, it is brief.  Something gets spilled.  The stainless steel finish becomes covered in fingerprints.  The reality of the $6,000 credit card bill sets in.  There is loneliness and regret and buyer's remorse (or dating remorse).

In 15 years or less, these appliances will be dated and worn and become completely unreliable.

The cycle continues.