I have to say, my rantings about Halloween are itching to come out, though everything was trumped by the cries of our carbon monoxide detectors tonight. Or should I say, last night? Here we are at 3:34 in the morning and all three children are laughing hysterically at Little Bear hanging upside down in a tree. yeah--that's right. 3:30 IN THE MORNING. I know it's that late (or is it EARLY?!) because there were no fights about the viewing selection. I also know it's that late because we all have the shakes. If you didn't know better, you'd think you stumbled upon a dark alley in Philly, but alas it is our bedroom. Our bedroom that is registering 58 degrees. Fahrenheit, It all began when our furnace stopped working.
I guess that made the story sound like it was going to be more in depth than it is. Our furnace stopped working. That's all. My children were limping around on their frozen toes, so my husband decided to use the fireplace (that we've NEVER used in the year we've lived here) and to get a space heater. It turns out the space heater has no significance in this story at all. So why do I mention it, you ask? BECAUSE IT IS 3: (40 now) IN THE MORNING AND I'M NOT IN COLLEGE ANYMORE. Where was I? The fireplace. I had a raging migraine all day (side bar) which isn't really unusual, but this one felt a little different. I thought it was because of "Snowtoberfest" and just tried to deal with it. After Dave did whatever it is you need to do to shut down a fire before bed, we headed upstairs. I felt a little lightheaded, but again--when DON'T I?! We checked the kids and crawled into bed. A few minutes later we hear an alarm that could wake the dead (NOT a complaint!) accompanied by that lovely voice that greets you on several voicemail services and the self-checkout at Wegman's or Target. You know--the one who gets annoyed if you place too many items in the bag before she's ready for you? Her. Well, she informed us in her haughty voice, "Carbon monoxide...carbon monoxide, CARBON MONOXIDE!" I swear she gets more insistent with time. The back up carbon monoxide alarm started going off as well. GOOD TIMES.
Now, here we are with a stranger telling us that there is poisonous gas engulfing our babies as they sleep and contrary to popular belief (mostly because I SAID I...didn't like them very much sometimes. When I'm TIRED (which could be argued is ALL THE TIME...)) I love them with every fiber of my being. That said, I did not want to panic. I also did not want THEM to panic. Mostly I did not want THEM to panic. Dave called 911, we carried each child with minimal belongings and plopped them in their car seats. About a second later, the fire trucks arrived. 11:30--I'm certain the neighbors LOVED that show! The paramedics told me all that I needed to know about going to the hospital and I was concerned with how my children would react. They were so understanding and as I opened the door we heard loud laughing coupled with "Yeaaaaaaahhhhh--wooo-hooooo--Fireside girls PAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTTTYYYYY!" Not sure what it meant, but pretty sure I didn't have to worry about panic ensuing. That was close.
You may think that they would be a bit freaked out about forty firemen and eleven paramedics in their driveway, but you would be wrong. You might think that they would be concerned when one of the firemen yelled, "It's at 96 upstairs...that's high--they should probably go to the ER," but again--you would be wrong. You may even think that two of them would be a bit freaked out when they were told they had to go in an ambulance on their own because only two patients were allowed in an ambulance at a time and you would again be wrong. In fact, when Brayden and Ryan heard (after clebrating the fact that they "...got to ride in an AMBULANCE..." that they were going to move to their own ambulance (I of course wanted to "break it to them" in a way that wouldn't scare them, but there was no time for that since they JUMPED OUT OF THEIR SEATS and said, "Let's go!" Sadly for them, the second ambulance had to actually DRIVE to our house, so they were stuck with me for ten more minutes. The paramedic gave them each a stuffed animal, which was so sweet. Of course, Brayden's bear said, "Daddy's Little Girl," so when I went back for my purse (and a lesson on woeter versus watter--Jersey-talk versus Buffalo talk) a purple boa intertwined its way around his body. QUITE the score for a seven-year-old. The poor lady who got stuck in THEIR ambulance is now up for saint...dom? ...hood? She's a saint. She told me my life story as we entered the hospital because it can evidently be told by a first and second grader in the fifteen minutes it takes to get to the hospital! I had one person asking about Montana and another telling me the Sabres lost (like my night wasn't crummy enough)!
After vitals, we all entered our triage room. The entire Corwin clan in separate corners--FINALLY. I wish I had my camera. THAT would have been a GREAT Christmas photo--each of us in our separate corners hooked up to oxygen--unbelievable! Addison kept taking hers off to see what the numbers would do. Ryan kept asking Dave (who seemed to think that he was exempt from all of this...) questions like,
"What is this I'm breathing?"
"So air? I'm breathing AIR?"
and, "Now what is the deal with carbon monoxide again? I wanna get this straight...can we go to a store or something after this?"
Poor Brayden acted like an old pro--from taking the oxygen to giving his blood, nary a peep came out of that sweet boy. The fact that this was old hat to him was a little disconcerting, but at least it wasn't traumatizing, right? He even asked if we could just please sleep there. "I hope not..." was all I could grunt between puffs.
At around 3:00 (YES...IN THE MORNING) we were deemed healthy and were discharged. The slumber party in triage came to an end. Corwin, party of five (plus a snake, a bunny and a crazy looking stuffed baby-doll--ALL wearing oxygen masks with bags) meandered out of the hospital, their goodbyes echoing through the hallway. Here we are at 4:21 and Dave is the only one out. They gave me meds that are so good, I'm afraid to sleep. As much fun as it was, I feel like I'm done with slumber parties. Especially those that happen at the hospital.
With a solid two hours, I would be appalled at this post. Luckily, my children won't even give me ONE...
I hate them. I do. Not because they don't listen to me. Not because they are nasty to me.Not because if they heard me say hate they would go on for hours about the "bad word" I said and give me a lecture about the fact that "we don't SAY hate." Not even because they ruined my body. I hate them because I LOVE sleep. And with every one of them I lost even more sleep. I haven't slept--REALLY slept--since 2003.
I know what you're thinking--"I can't BELIEVE she would EVER say that she hates her children! What a HORRIBLE mother!" Whatever. You know that you would trade your youngest for seven uninterrupted hours without batting an eyelash--you just won't admit it. There are people I have had FULL conversations with in the last eight years that I don't even REMEMBER. The conversation, the PERSON, LEAVING the house...it's all a fog. Granted, I've had some health issues, but don't tell me that a lot of those weren't exacerbated by the fact that I had little to no sleep. When I went undiagnosed for years I would say, "They are probably thinking, 'Yeah--of course she looks and feels like garbage--she has THREE kids!'" Recently I saw a comic on facebook with a woman (looking (sadly) a lot like me sitting on an examination table. The doctor walks in and says, "You've been diagnosed with having children..." I'm pretty sure that no one laughed (or cried!) as hard as I did at THAT one! The thing is, three isn't even that many. People have more, "SEVENTEEN and counting..." (though now I think it's NINETEEN and counting! What do I know? It's probably thirty-three and counting at this point--what does SHE care? She looks well rested. BECAUSE HER CHILDREN ARE RAISING HER CHILDREN...I hate when I judge. I'm just---so---TIRED.)
It goes both ways, you know. They hate me, too. If they didn't, would they take turns keeping me up all night? They are almost 5, 6, and 7. There is NO reason why they shouldn't be able to sleep--THROUGH THE NIGHT. IN THEIR OWN BEDS. For AT LEAST seven hours (though I would be HAPPY with five). THEY don't appear to be exhausted. I swear it's a conspiracy. And on the off chance that they DO sleep (which I REALLY don't REMEMBER when THAT was...), my husband chimes in with his incessant snoring. See...? They ALL hate me.
I want a dog. I mean I REALLY want a dog. I used to NOT want a dog. At all. I remember when I first lost my desire to have canine company. I was sitting in my sun room in Virginia anticipating (or dreading...depending on what version of the story I'm telling and what mood I'm in that day!") the arrival of my second child (Ryan. The girl. Just thought I should clarify.). Until this point in my life, I desperately wanted a dog. A Golden retriever named Molson or Murphy or a red one named Killian or something equally as cool and "suburban" as those. I was looking in the pet section of the paper (yes, I know there is a better name for it, but I don't feel like thinking about that right now) thinking that a mutt would be fine...it just needed to be retriever-esque or lab-ish. Brayden (18 months at the time) was sleeping and I SHOULD have been [sleeping].
I nodded off for a second and awoke with a sudden fear and panic. "I DON'T WANT A DOG!" I yelled to no one. "WHAT WAS I THINKING?!" I called my husband at work."I DON'T WANT A DOG!" I yelled in his ear. "Ummm...oookaaaayyyy...?" He responded. "I CAN'T TAKE CARE OF A DOOOOG!" I continued. "Ummm...oookaaayyyy..." he said again. "I CAN'T EVEN TAKE CARE OF MY CHILD OR MYSELF OR THE NEW BABY..." My panic was getting the better of me. "Okay...wait a second. First of all--we don't have a dog. We were never going to GET a dog. You CAN take care of your babies--you are doing it right now and you don't HAVE to be able to take care of a dog because we aren't getting one. EVER." After the first pregnancy, he knew how to address my hysteria, so I calmed down a bit. The problem is with that EVER comment. The problem IS, now I WANT a dog. And our circumstances are worse (though the hysteria has subsided).
Brayden is severely allergic to dogs. And cats. And eggs. And some nuts. AND [MOST of the time) any orders from ME. My only concern for the intents and purposes of this post is really with dogs. He gets slight asthma and serious excema when he makes contact. with certain dogs. Some dogs are worse than others for some reason that I could probably learn about if I would just look it up, but I am far too lazy to do that. I think Ryan may be slightly allergic as well because when we are around certain dogs she gets hives on her face that are similar to what happens with Brayden and his excema. Addison...well, Addison is a completely different story and I blame her for my desire to have a dog.
When they were younger, both Ryan and Brayden had an appropriate fear of dogs. I say appropriate, because they didn't freak out when a dog came near them; they were hesitant to approach and were taught to put their hands out for dogs to smell and to ask permission before touching. I KNOW--they actually LISTENED to something I said! I need to write this DOWN! Oh yeah...I AM. Anyway...the "fear" was more hesitation when meeting a dog for the first time or even the second or third. Addison, however, never had appropriate fear or any fear of dogs for that matter. When she was still crawling, an extremely large dog jumped on her and we all stopped breathing for a moment while she decided on a response. A collective sigh passed through the room when she began giggling and playing with the dog instead of shrieking and crying like we assumed would happen. Since that time, I have seen her natural love of dogs grow. Wherever we go, Addison is first drawn to the dogs. In fact, our very dear friends from Montana (who completely spoil Addison) have dogs and Addison talks about the dogs more than she talks about the actual PEOPLE. Their dog, Maya is a weiner dog (and quite possibly the best dog I know--sorry everyone else!) and is quite literally Addison's best friend. For ten months, Addison would talk about how much she missed Maya. I would mention the names of people and she would say, "Ohhhh, yes--I do miss dem too--but I reawlly miss MAYA!"
Every time we talk about their family visiting, Addison jumps up and down, claps and says, "YAY! I git to see MAYA!"
"What about Miss Natalie (another dog person and Addison's favorite person), Addison?"
"Ummmm--YES. AND I GIT TO SEE MAYA!" It's the same with any person we mention. Addie would rather spend her time with dogs.
SO (am I boring you, 'cause I think I'm boring ME!), Addison was the first reason why I decided I wanted a dog. I hope I didn't lose you...it's going to get interesting...NOW.
At the end of summer I met a high school friend at a mall near us. We were early, so we decided to bring the kids into the pet store (which is usually safe because I have NO DESIRE to take care of or clean up after ANYTHING else!) to see the animals. The nine-year-old at the register (yes, I believe they allow CHILDREN to work in these stores. The boy did not even hit puberty yet--he COULDN'T have--and I refuse to believe that it isn't that HE is young...it's that I am OLD...) was holding a rust-colored Pomeranian (I'm not sure if that is how it is spelled and yes, I know that I could have an answer in seconds, but this story is already taking SO LONG to tell...) and suddenly I was holding it. This pup burrowed his nose into my neck, gave me a not-too-wet kiss and snuggled back down again. It was like I was carrying the BEST baby EVER. I LOVED that dog. It was months ago and I still feel the love for a dog I spent minutes (Okay, to be honest, I wouldn't let him go for at least a half hour!) with in the pet store. It was so hard to release him (and I say "release" because I'm pretty sure I had the death grip on him)--until I saw the sign that said he was 1500 DOLLARS--he'd better poop gold for that price! Who am I kidding? I don't want him to poop ANYTHING for that price! Not only should he not poop, he should clean, do laundry...
Of course if my husband didn't A. Hate to spend money and B. think he did not want a dog, I may have been convinced to spend that on this amazing dog. You only need one kidney, right?) I know I promised you interesting, but it's a story about wanting a dog. Did you REALLY think it was going to get better? Maybe NOW...
When we got home, I decided that we need to get a dog. Addison needs a dog, and so do I. Dogs love you and cuddle with you when you need them. Dogs don't touch you when you don't want to be touched. Dogs don't whine, "Momomomomomomomomomomomomomomomomomom" when you don't listen to them the first time and they don't poke you when they want something. Dogs don't follow you around and yell at you and others when you try to have a telephone conversation and they DON'T push the keys on the computer when you try to type. Most of all, you can correct a dog's behavior without it acting like you've beaten him with a stick and are the worst person on the planet. I NEED a dog.
I researched different types of hypoallergenic dogs and wanted to get one immediately. It turns out, it's pretty hard to figure out this "hypoallergenic" thing. My husband will never go for paying for a dog (aside from the $75 shot fee at the SPCA) and I don't know how easy it will be to find a hypoallergenic mutt who is mild-mannered, won't poop or pee in the house and won't bite or eat anything he isn't supposed to [eat or bite]. I am, however, on a mission, and I CAN'T WAIT to be able to write about my new friend! I'll keep you "posted..." (Bad puns are kind of my thing--sorry!)
It turns out, I used to be hot. No--it's true. I KNOW what you are thinking..."I KNEW her then (whenever "used to" was...) or dated her then and she was NOT 'hot'," but I'm sorry to say it--you are wrong.
I looked at old pictures the other night and didn't even RECOGNIZE the person in those photos. I literally ran (yes--LITERALLY) to the mirror to do a comparative study. The result? I used to be hot. Now...well, let's just say I USED to be hot. It's really all relative.
Here's the thing--I never THOUGHT I was hot--or even too pleasing to the eye. I knew I wasn't a heinous abomination or anything and children didn't run screaming from the room when I entered (though they don't do that now, either--unfortunately...), I just didn't realize just how good I looked. Comparatively speaking. You see, if we all had a glimpse into what COULD happen, we would be far more secure with ourselves and our present state of...hotness. Compared to the facial hair-ridden-under-eye-bag-wearin'- child-totin'-overweight mess I've become, I would even go as far as to say I was SMOKIN'. Yeah--that's right--I said it. And I will not hear otherwise from naysayers.
I look at pictures of high school and college friends and they look like they walked off of the Desperate Housewives set. Perfect makeup (pshaw...MAKEUP!), perfect hair, perfect bodies...I think they may even...SHOWER. REGULARLY. Bitches. Just kidding--excuse the language. Especially since those of you reading ARE hot--and have kept your hotness throughout childbirth and parenting. Some of you are even HOTTER than you were (as if that could even be POSSIBLE!). Instead of calling you names, I need to be happy for you--and I am. Really. In fact, there should be some kind of an award or something for those of you who didn't lose it...I know how hard it had to be considering how hard it was for ME to be HERE! Yes...it could get WORSE...I need to do something about it. TODAY.
So if I get "hot" again, will I know it, or will I constantly be reaching for something that is unattainable? I think of when I used to babysit (I didn't stop until I was like thirty--I made more money doing that than what I made TEACHING. So sad...) and some of the moms REALLY had it together and were still hot. Some of the moms, however, didn't start to look (their degree of) "hot" until well after their children left the toddler years. Don't get me wrong--no one got THIS bad and they were all pretty--I'm talking about HOT. You could tell they missed it and when they got it back, they took frumpy by the neck and laid it out for good. THIS inspires me. A little laser-hair treatment (a dear friend asked me after the chin hair debacle why I haven't done this yet. Money? Time? Complacency? Good question!), regular trips to the gym (instead of four days on...one week off...one day on...two weeks off...three days...you get it), clothing that doesn't look like I got it from the PE lost and found...THESE things will help in my quest. And THIS time I will appreciate HOT. I will embrace it, love it and nurture it like it is a deserted baby on a stoop. Hopefully then, it won't leave me again.
So it started out with three ugly hairs. Three wiry, disgusting hairs poking out of my chin; firmly standing erect and ready to fight, like The Three Soldiers standing on the National Mall. At first I plucked. I plucked every time I sensed they may peek out and introduce themselves to others. I even tried plucking when they weren’t visible—digging a canyon into my chin that Arizona would envy. I’m sure the bloody gash was MUCH more appealing than any hair would be.
Junior year of college is when I’d had enough. Those lonely hairs poking through the scar on my chin were really cramping my style.
I lived with New York’s version of Snookie and she insisted on waxing them. She wanted my disgusting friends to be set free, and she knew she was the one to do it.
“What about regrowth? Won’t it create more hair?” were questions that were answered with scoffing and a hair flip. “Everyone knows that after waxing over a long period of time, the hair eventually goes away completely.” Not EVERYONE knew that, but I decided to take her word for it.
The day finally came. In a huge kitchen in a soon-to-be condemned college house, Snookie went after those hairs like a mother gorilla to the gnats buried in her baby’s fur.
When she finished, my chin felt smoother than ever. It WORKED! By the end of the month, the hairs were back—and they had a friend. Waxed them off and the chin was smoothe. Wax on, wax off --Mr. Miagi style--that’s what happened each month with my chin and every time we “waxed off,” a new friend would appear. At this rate, I would look like Lincoln before the end of the year, but I couldn’t stop. After several years of this (along with three babies, two hysterectomies and changing hormones), I finally threw in my waxing towel and decided to go back to plucking. I didn’t want to battle my husband each month to see whose chin hairs were longer. After winning several times, I knew there was a problem.
Thanks, Snookie—because of your brilliance and insistence that waxing wouldn’t do anything but help, I live in fear that my son will ask ME how to maintain his beard properly.
I was an English teacher. My Aunt says I AM an English teacher. Always will be. Contrary to the misspellings and poor grammar I use on THIS site (and contrary to the fact that I NEVER want to stare down PILES of papers to grade EVER again), that is what I am trained to do. There are certain professions that enable a person to truly see other sides of a situation. An actor for example HAS to quite literally walk in someone else's shoes. That means putting aside any bias or judgment and understanding the character's motivation. English teachers [should] do the same thing. We need to teach our students to REALLY understand a character--good or bad. We need to teach our students to objectively look at situations and not deem them good or bad. We need to step out of situations personally to really understand characters in the works we read. We should not have politics. We should not have religion--at least not in the classroom. Our job is to somehow get our students to do the same. To understand if not to agree. To sympathize if not empathize.
My son came home a few weeks ago and nonchalantly mentioned that he thought he was being bullied at school. The reason he "thought" and didn't "know" is because he used to say he was being bullied whenever he didn't get his way or whenever someone didn't want to play with him. We tried to teach him that when people leave someone out it's not always nice, but it's not necessarily bullying. He seems to get it now. Evidently some girls (yes, girls--they can be vicious--YOU know!) are calling him "fairy-boy" and have been since the beginning of the year when he made his "All About ME" board. It seems my son thought it would be funny to put a picture of himself as a toddler dressed in a princess costume on it. He showed me the picture and laughed and I said, "I'm sure there are other pictures that you will love even more..." to try to talk him out of it. I'm not proud of that. I'm not proud that I live in a world where I have to be afraid of eight-year-olds bullying my son for wearing a costume of ANY kind. I'm not proud that people MY age--educated people--are teaching their children (by example) that this is tolerable behavior.
I'll tell you what I AM proud of these days. My son. He told me about the bullying AFTER he went to his teacher. He told me, not as a victim, but as a concerned student. He told me, "I really don't care, mom--I'm just worried that they will do it to OTHER kids. Kids who MAY care. Plus, I don't get it. It was funny--like--the first DAY. Why are they still doing it now? NOOOOOOTTTTT FUNNNNNNY ANYMOOOOOORE!" When I spoke with the "Anti-Bullying Liasion" at his school, she was equally impressed. Evidently he shared his concern for "...kids who aren't as secure" as he is and told her he didn't want the bullies to take advantage of "weaker" students "who might not be able to take it as well." I must be doing SOMETHING right...
I wrote this a year or two ago, but thought I would share it today. I was given the topic: What is/was your defining moment as a parent? This was a contest for a mommy blog--I should post the name here, but I forgot it! I will get back to you on that one. Maybe I SHOULDN'T share this--it's not like I won! We all know I'm going to share it...I hope you enjoy (even though it is a loser!):
What counts as a "defining moment" as a parent? The time your toddler enters the pantry (for the seventeenth time) only to have a can of clams the size of Detroit BOUNCE (yes...BOUNCE) off of his brow, spewing blood around your kitchen like some sort of CSI scene? Or diving into a hotel swimming pool (fully clothed) because your preschooler PRETENDED (yes, PRETENDED) to be drowning all the while keeping an eye on the toddler who refused to swim, but now wants to jump in with you? Perhaps it's when your preschooler SLAMMED (are we sensing a pattern here?)--and almost cut off her sister's fingers in the door--the edge closest to the door jam (another CSI moment!)--in a new town with no friends or family around and--oh--that's right--ONE car that was being used by their soul provider--on the ONE day her mother decided to do a serious workout including squats (stupid Cross Fit). Needless to say, Mommy wasn't moving very well, but the scream was enough to fly her up the stairs in seconds Add to it the "big thaw" which really meant three feet of water floating on top of four feet of slick ice, so carrying the child out is not an option.
After having children, nothing is "defining" anymore. Before I had them I was the best mom ever! No one could TOUCH my parenting skills. Child number one came along and it was like I had never seen a baby before--EVER.
Sadly, I babysat and nannied until I was twenty-eight, but once I had my OWN baby, I didn't know what to do with it. Yes, "IT." I held my sweet boy in front of me like a peeing sack of potatoes and while decorating the walls of our home (which were quite nice the way they were) with baby-urine, I sobbed, "What am I supposed to DO with it?" to my husband for what seemed like hours. After that first week (and a visit from my mother so I could SLEEP), I was back on as MOTY. I knew I had been weak (it was, after all, our first night at home and I was exhausted. Still am...) and vowed to make up for it. I did a great job with OTHER people's children--surely I could handle my own.
I was lucky--my son was a GREAT baby, only I didn't know HOW great. I was so naive--other people would talk and complain about getting up with their babies and I would commiserate. It wasn't until "perfect baby #3" that I realized that these people got up with their babies and were up for HOURS! I was complaining about getting up, feeding the child then going right back to sleep. I didn't realize that SOME children actually stay up for a while and make their parents stay up WITH them.
All three of my children were wonderful babies. I remember each time I got pregnant (after my first) my aunt would say, "You'd better watch it--one of these times you're going to get a REAL baby..." Well, don't be too jealous. I have a theory that they make you pay at one time or another, and my children chose to make me pay as my first one became a preschooler, my second was a toddler and my third was...pre-toddler? All the parenting I had done so well for my first went right out the window as my second tried to do all the things he knew were wrong. At the age of three he would tell his two-year-old sister (YES--we KNOW how it happens--all parents with more than one do, so you don't have to keep ASKING us), "It's dangerous to jump off of the furniture," but by three and a half his motto was, "If you can't beat'em, join 'em." By the time my youngest was two, her siblings would say, "It's okay if she bites me, Mommy--she's just a baby," which explains why (as adorable as she is) she is such a brat (don't tell HER I said that--she might bite me). Between my foggy mommy-brain and their apparent compassion for her, we had created a monster. The CUTEST MONSTER EVER, but a monster nonetheless!
Once we were outnumbered, I became confused--and still am. I spend most of my time counting to make sure I have them and the rest of my time making sure they don't hurt themselves or others. I often wonder about people like my sister (who has five) and a girl I met who has TEN. How do THEY make it work when I lose my mind each day with only THREE. Drugs. Lots of drugs. They must be medicated, right? Or are their brains just numb to it because they have replacements? "Oh, we lost Joey at the zoo, but Bobby looks a lot like him minus the dimple. It's still loud and chaotic in the house, so we should be fine..." Maybe it's just that they have so much to worry about on a daily basis that their brains protect them from the little things. A friend told me about her sister who allowed her son to write on the walls at a relative's house. Her answer (after everyone noticed but her)? "Isn't he so creative? We like to encourage his artistic side. He was just expressing himself--it's fine." When I heard this (as the BEST non-parent on the planet), I was grossly appalled. Not only was she rude for not apologiing and fixing the problem, she was teaching her son that it's okay to deface someone else's property. My new take? She was tired. Tired of saying no. Tired of giving time-outs (and fighting with them every step of the way), tired of worrying what everyone else thought of her, and tired of being miserable around her children.
I think that my mommy-brain is too ADD to figure out ONE defining moment--it rarely pauses on one thing for that long. My brain seriously is at full capacity. Unfortunately it gets rid of important details and replaces them with things like, "NO, you CANNOT put your sister in the washing machine," and "PLEASE stop coloring your sister's eye."
It came together one night when my older two were at a sleepover (YES--BOTH OF THEM! I KNOW!) and we took our youngest to dinner. I looked around the restaurant and saw moms everywhere. The dads didn't stand out as much. They were all seated and drinking, eating or laughing. The moms, however, were another story. Each one had a scowl or a look of determination on her face. Some were opening and passing out straws and drinks. Others were cutting up food. One was lassoing (is that a word?) children in every direction as she looked at her happily eating husband for a hand that was not offered. I looked at my reflection in the window and I realized what it was. Mom-face. I had it, these moms had it, my mother had it and so did yours. It's the face of all the reponsibility when it looks like you have none. It's the face of wanting to have healthy, happy (ironically enough), polite children who are welcomed in public and anywhere else besides your home. It's the face of unconditional love masked by ridiculous levels of stress. It's a face I'm trying to lose. Thusfar the closest replacement I have is, "I'm bordering-on-the-edge" face. Maybe I should ask those other moms for their prescriptions...then I'll have the, "I really don't care what you do, I'm just going to sit here and smile" face. MUCH prettier. When I die, I'm coming back as the dad.
Well, I started a different blog about my mother and her disdain for my recent topics (it seems she DOESN'T want me to discuss my family drama with all of her friends she so kindly asked to view my blog (SO NICE of her, I know!). Who knew that the big "D" was so upsetting to so many people? Okay...I did. Though I was trying to help myself and others--I swear!
Anyway...I will post THAT later. My daughter Ryan just came downstairs with her Halloween costume on--she created it herself and she is QUITE pleased.
"I'm going as "fun" for Halloween!" she boasted, wearing red and purple flowered stretch pants (that end at her knee), a black and orange jack-o-lantern tutu and a black, gray and pink shirt with an enormous pink, purple,teal-colored butterfly-eagle that has the word "Fubu" worked into the design with a layer of gray tutu and a layer of pink tutu at the bottom (though the sleeves reach just past her elbow, which leads me to believe the pants and shirt belong to Addison).
"Fun. Don't you know what "FUN" is? I guess not," she snidely remarked.
Facebook is TOTALLY underrated. People will readily pay hundreds--even thousands of dollars on therapy and not think anything of it--I know, because I've been there--yet the therapists I've encountered haven't really done much for me. ONE nice comment or word of inspiration from a great friend (or sometimes a friend-of-a-friend--or even an acquaintance!) can do what hours of therapy can not--give me a feeling of worth. A feeling like I'm not alone in the world--like I'm "connected" in some way with another human being. My "daily words of affirmation" come when I see the little red box light up in the top left corner of my computer screen. I anxiously click on it in hopes that SOMEONE has commented on SOMETHING. Maybe I shouldn't discount therapy just yet...
I've noticed several things since my relationship with facebook began. 1. I DO have an addictive personality. 2. I have HILARIOUS friends (who also have HILARIOUS friends). 3. I know some pretty amazing and inspirational people. 4. My husband hates facebook.
Now the "addiction" to facebook is being shared with my "addiction" to blogging and I think that the "addiction" is not really to those things at all. I'm addicted to being validated. I'm addicted to "hearing" nice things about myself and funny things about the world. I'm married to a man and have three small children, hence there isn't a lot of communicating or validating going on around here. I turn to my facebook "friends" to provide me with what I need emotionally in life. That sounds so sad, doesn't it? P-R-E-T-T-Y pathetic. But how needy would I be if I expected the people around me to constantly comment, compliment and validate me? It's what we as humans truly want, but it's exhausting to do--at least in person (Can you imagine walking around saying, "I like that" and coming up with something inspirational to say to a person ALL day?!). I know--I've tried.
I'm a "validator" and a "complimenter." I'm not bragging--there are many things I'm not (a housekeeper or organizer for instance...a mathemetician or accountant...a super model or centerfold...you get it), but I began working with children when I was a teenager and from that I learned that people feel good when they are complimented and validated and I like to make other people feel good about themselves. For eleven years, I would begin any...disagreement...in my relationship with, "You are so great at..."cleaning the kitchen, folding laundry, playing with the kids..." and I really appreciate you, but..." Unfortunately, in the eleven years, my husband only hears the"...BUT..." which really makes me into kind of a jerk. Facebook lets me not be the jerk and I REALLY like that. BUT...it really became an issue in my relationship (which I WILL NOT get into again. I PROMISE!).
We moved to Kalispell Montana before I was ever on facebook. I don't know if you know this or not, but Montana is on the OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET! I even called it MonFREAKINtana before we got there (and even when we WERE there at first--until my four-year-old son told my mother how much he loved "MonFREAKIN'tana." Then I stopped.). For several months it was me, my children (who were 4,3, and 2 at the time) and my [cranky and exhausted] husband. No one else. I am a talker (SURPRISE!) and although I had the phone (you KNOW how great small children are when you are on the phone...), I had no other adult contact...EVER, because my husband was quietly enduring whatever it is that men endure and was not letting me in on ANY of his secrets.
I finally joined TWO mom's groups (I tried to join a third, but it was thirty minutes away and I felt guilty for joining three!), which helped IMMENSELY ( I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS!), but at the beginning I still only had superficial relationships. On February 14, I decided to join facebook. My friend, Chrissy talked me through it (and she and her husband were my first "friends") and I couldn't stop! It felt weird only having two friends--like sitting in thehigh school cafeteria alone--and I couldn't help but get the feeling I had when I moved to Lockport in the second grade or Williamsville in the tenth--what if I ask them to be my friend and they say..."NO!"?! Chrissy assured me that this feeling would go away soon and that I would be surprised at how many people would say "yes" and then, would even ask ME to be THEIR friend! (I'm SUCH a geek--I know!) I spent all day thinking about facebook and how many "friends" I would have. We went out to eat for Valentine's Day--our first date in months (I dropped my kids off at a "drop-in" child care facility--a few moms snubbed their noses at that, yet weren't offering to watch my kids...don't get me started on WHY we need to SUPPORT each other in ALL that we do. That's a topic for another day!) and my husband looked over at me and said, "You're thinking about facebook right now, aren't you?" For the first time, I was the one who was somewhere else, and I couldn't stop! We watched a video when we got home and my thoughts were on facebook, which I immediately logged onto when the credits were rolling. I was on until the wee hours of the morning and it was FANTASTIC! Chrissy and her husband "commented" that I had more friends in one day then they had in four months. Chrissy wrote, "Wow--you've been busy!" and she wasn't kidding. I finally felt "connected" with other human beings and I was LOVING it! I even made a secret deal with myself (I do that...it's not weird...) to write a funny status each day. I would "write" them in bed at night. I would "write" them in the shower (on the off chance I was ABLE to shower!) and I would "write" them while driving. I cracked myself up, though I'm not sure if I was "cracking up" anyone else! All I cared about was getting it out there and (hopefully) seeing the little red box light up in the corner!
The thing is, I have made a lot of amazing friends through the years, but I am HORRIBLE at keeping in touch. I sit up at night and think, "Oh my goodness--I really need to call her--it has been so long!" or "Wow--I forgot about him--I wonder what he is up to these days..." and "I really wonder what my students will end up doing with their lives..." and would feel sad about the people I would probably never talk to again. Enter facebook. I still remember people and try to "find" them and "friend" them, but it was amazing to see how many people "found" me. Now I have "chats" with people I haven't seen since middle school. I reunite with distant cousins and make friends with my friends' friends. I am able to see former students and their babies (not the best perk--I can't believe I'm THAT old!)--NOT because they were having them in high school, but because they found me (or I found them!) on facebook after they were grown and married. I often think that I want to have a facebook reunion (or would it just be...union?!) and get all of my fb "friends" together to meet. I have maybe 500 friends and I would say at least 450 are people I genuinely would love to hang out with on a regular basis. These are good (and funny!) (and brilliant!) people who have so much to offer the world--not just facebook--and I often think about "fixing them up" with each other because I know how well their personalities would mesh. I feel great after I've "chatted" with all of them. Of course, then there is the guilt over not staying in touch on facebook...that's what happens when your raised in an Italian Catholic family...guilt just becomes part of who you are.
These days I try not to be on facebook for too long--I don't look at ALL the updates (though some days I try to), however I want to stay connected. I feel sad if someone posted something funny or news about their family and I didn't see it. I'm not so much concerned about what they ate for dinner (unless it's something I MUST make!) or if they just got back from the store (unless it's a store I MUST go to), but my friends use those posts sparingly. They, like me, are in it to inspire or humor. And what could be wrong with wanting to stay connected to THAT?!
I feel a lot of pressure. Yesterday, I posted something very personal, and although I welcomed so many positive responses on here and on facebook, I know that two serious days in a row will scare people away from the blog. Never leave the blog, people. Some days will be funnier than others--some days will be HILARIOUS (I'm really full of myself these days, aren't I?!) and some days will be...not-so-hilarious. You have to read to find out, right?
I have to say that after I hit "publish" yesterday, I was fully prepared to hear crickets. AWWWWKWAAAAARD. Luckily, that wasn't the case. I think we all go through similar things and secretly hope that others are going through them as well. It doesn't make us cruel or mean--it makes us human. It makes us feel more normal (it's all relative!) to know that the same words, actions, fears...whatever, are going on in at least one other human being's life. I guess I shouldn't speak for "us" (That's another problem I have which resulted in the topic we discussed yesterday--speaking for my husband. In my defense, he doesn't really speak for himself, so SOMEONE needs to start talking!); maybe YOU think I'm crazy (again with the relativity) and YOU would NEVER feel any of the feelings I discuss in my posts. Contrary to what I just wrote, that would make me happy. I really should pick a side and stay on it, right? Either I'm happy for people or I want them to endure whatever I'm enduring. The thing is, I feel both things. It's nice to commiserate when things aren't going great and to compare stories when they are. On the flip side, I wouldn't wish misery on anyone and would be happy to hear of people who DO NOT go through the things I've shared. I only share so that those who ARE going through things are able to see that they aren't alone. And when you are talking ALL the time, yet no one is listening, you tend to feel alone, right?
So today I need to be funny. There is nothing funnier than a person who is forcing humor. Pretty soon I'll start explaining the jokes, too. THAT is always a knee slapper. Who even SAYS that anymore?! See--this is what pressure does to a person.
I could tell you about Addison's latest antics ("Mommy, I want you to eat me so dat I can be a baby in your belly again! Just don't eat me wiff yowor teef orI wiwwill be a dinosaur!" WHAT?! Not really sure what that was all about, but I AM pretty sure that we need to explain some things to her before she starts terrorizing the preschool children with visions of dinosaurs climbing out of bellies!) or Ryan's rants ("I just look STUPID (evidently SHE'S not concerned with the "bad word" list!) when I wear a coat and am warm. NOBODY else is warm!" Seriously?! I don't even know what that MEANS!). Brayden is always good for some insight, (Mommy, I don't think you should let the girls hang out with those boys because they use curse words and the girls aren't mature enough to know they shouldn't repeat what they hear." REALLY? Who is running this show anyway?! Now you know why we call him "The Professor!") and there is more information posted than you EVER want to hear (funny or not) about my relationship (as evidenced by yesterday's post).
What kind of makes me laugh is that a dear friend of mine called to say that she couldn't stop laughing at yesterday's post. This is one of my closest and dearest friends--she has known me for DECADES (which makes me so sad because I am old enough to know people for DECADES, but it beats the alternative, right?) and actually LIVED with my husband and me at one point, so she knew that I was actually TRYING to be funny in the post. I know the "D" word (No, not DUMB! Or the other one!) is really not a light topic, nor is it something that should make you laugh. THAT'S why we found it funny. We tend to think that things that are inappropriate to discuss or are said to be private matters are funny, mostly because no one wants to talk about them (think "fart" to a first grader) for fear of doing something wrong. I've learned two things in my old age. 1. If you act like something is wrong, then it becomes wrong and you feel like a failure or a bad person for doing it. 2. Saying something out loud (or on paper) makes it real and also helps you to see the absurdity of it. Holding on to something gives it more power--letting it out or sharing with others takes the power away for some reason. That's why I share. A lot. Almost to a fault. Okay...maybe not ALMOST to a fault...
For those who are concerned, I am not getting a divorce. In fact, since we have been speaking these things OUT LOUD to each other, our marriage has gotten better. A new friend told me to take a look at my marriage and think, "How would I feel if my husband walked in (to wherever)with another woman and my kids--knowing that this other woman was raising my children?" and to ask him how he would feel if I were to do that to him. It made me think. We made a choice to be together and we have the ability to choose to stay or not to stay. Once the decision is made to stay, we need to commit to that decision and to do whatever possible to make it the right decision. For ourselves, for each other and for our children.
I almost got divorced last month. I SAID I ALMOST GOT DIVORCED LAST MONTH. Yes, that's a bit personal, but I think that things need to be talked about so that we don't explode. Which is precisely the reason why the big "D" almost happened. Don't worry--I said ALMOST and we don't have to whisper--my husband knows--he was there. To be fair, we didn't actually SAY we were going to actually DIVORCE. We said we were going to separate (which really means divorce, let's be honest. How many people "separate" so that they can get back together and everything will be fine? None. I know.) while each of us figured "things" out. It took us all night, but "things" were figured out before the "separation" actually took place. Maybe they weren't "figured out" exactly, but they were addressed, which is a BIG step for us! The good news is (aside from the fact that we did NOT file the papers) we peoved that we could actually DO something--I always thought we would be too lazy to get a divorce or to even DISCUSS it. See? Growth.
Now don't get me wrong--I'm the one who talked about "separating" first. My husband is...well...a man, so his communication skills are...well...lacking. Add to that the fact that I come from a very...YELLY (that is now a word) and dramatic family and he comes from a family where the most emotion they muster up is:"Yes--that is very nice," (over, say, getting a promotion or winning a million dollars). As for sad events or things that make them angry...nothing. It is simply not discussed or mentioned. One would think that they are always just...content with whatever situation arises.
I've known about our differences since before we got engaged, but being a...woman...I thought for sure that time with me would help him to feel...emotions like excitement and elation (or even anger and rage). Yes, I know you are thinking it--I thought I could CHANGE him. Don't we all? And he did change...a bit. Once we added children to the mix, he definitely changed--and so did I. The problem is, I became crabbier and he became happier--at least with them. Still not so much with me, but we're working on THAT.
In our eleven years of marriage, we have been through better, worse, worse again, a liiiiiiittttttttlllllle bit better, then worse. We've been through poorer, then richer, then even RICHER, then REALLY poorer still, then a little bit above poorer, but not quite richer. We've been through health, then sickness, then more sickness then...I think you get my point. We covered all of the bases except the "...death do us part," and with the way we were feeling about each other, that was going to be soon.
My husband is a genuinely nice guy and quite easy on the eyes. You would like him--EVERYONE does. This should be a selling factor in a relationship, no? NO! There were times in our relationship where I despised...yes, DESPISED my husband. The anger and rage consumed me. I think some of it was post-partum depression, but most of it was...him. Just kidding--it was me, too and my need for validation. I would compliment and validate him and would in turn expect (or at least HOPE) that he would do the same for me. Instead, he was like the crabby uncle at a reunion. He would sit in his chair with nothing to say. The rage came when those around us started thinking that HE was the nice guy and I was the b*%#h (this IS PG).
I had always been the nice one--it was MY thing and suddenly he took over with his passive-aggressive ways and made ME into the mean one. His family didn't even get to meet "Nice Nika." People who met me after we met don't even know her. I used to be afraid to leave my name for the pizza guy for fear of doing something wrong in turn making him think I was mean, but I finally established that SOMEONE needed to leave a name or NO PIZZA FOR US (which really should be our motto these days anyway!). I was always the ridiculous tipper. I was a waitress for years and fully believe that someone may truly be having a bad day, so as long as they aren't mean to me, they usually get 20% plus a dollar (which changes the percentage to something I should probably know, but I don't and the NEW me won't apologize for that). If they are rude? 15%. I used to have debates with every boyfriend (and even my mother!) about that. My husband? Not only did he follow suit, sometimes he will even leave 50% (especially if the waitress is hot--don't think I'm fooled!). It's like he was trying to "out-nice" me. And it worked. Especially when we had no money and he was leaving 50% on a check. Enter "Mean-Nika."
The nice and mean problem was most prevalent in our early days as parents. I know most couples go through this--first we have to learn to live with another person, next we have to learn how to run a small town (yes, I know my metaphors are slipping, but it honestly FEELS like a small town!) as co-leaders. No easy task. Luckily, we had most of the same parenting philosophies--most of which went out the window when we realized how absurd it was for us to have "philosophies" on something we had never done. Or maybe I learned that and never told him. Maybe he's not the only one who needs to work on communication after all...
There are a hundred dead bodies in my kitchen. They are splattered around the walls like a Trading Spaces episode gone wrong. Personally, I would rather have some freak of nature PAINT MY WHITE CARPET RED (WHAT?! It REALLY happened--back before having children destroyed my hang-around-in-my-PJs- (I was going to say UNDERWEAR, but I want you to be able to sleep tonight) and-watch-random- television-shows-days) than have a hundred dead bodies covering my walls. Just sayin'...
I finally snapped on Monday night. I couldn't take it anymore. The last time I felt this way it was about the floor in my house in Montana THREE years ago and there were no dead bodies. Thankfully, though my husband and children were pushing it. That particular time, I was scraping hardened oatmeal off of the floor for the ELEVENTH time that week (it was Tuesday) when some poor child had the misfortune of being THE ONE who dropped frozen (yet defrosted enough to REALLY do the job) blueberries. On my head. And on the floor. That I had JUST cleaned and washed. On my hands and knees. With my freshly showered hands. Yes--I took a SHOWER that day. THAT was definitely the straw.
Anyone who met me after January 17th 2009, knew a person who NEVER washed her floor. EVER. Everyone who knew me BEFORE that date knew a person who RARELY washed her floor. BIG DIFFERENCE. People would come to my house and try to take their shoes off and I would accost them at the front door noting,
"My floors are far dirtier than your shoes could EVER be and you will probably leave here with peanut butter and chili on your sock."
"You made chili?"
"Two weeks ago...and I don't want to TALK about the peanut butter."
This was my way of dealing with THAT breakdown. That was BEFORE little gnats (or fruit flys) invaded my home. I don't believe those bugs (and they are called "BUGS" for a REASON!) exist in Montana. *SIGH* Montana...(cue soft music for my brief reverie...thank you). Who would have thought that a place I referred to as "MonFREAKINtana" before we lived there would be so close to my heart. I love Montana. FRUIT-FLYLESS, GANGLESS, ROAD RAGE-LESS, Corwinless, Montana. But I digress...again. I KNOW what I was talking about because a little gnat is CRAWLING ON MY SCREEN and when I smash his little face in, I'm not sure if my husband will be pleased that I can no longer use the computer, or ticked that HE can no longer use the computer.
I decided to wait it out with the gnat. He's looking at me and I at him, but no one is making the move. The thing is, I will be able to "visit" him later with my (now broken) hot pink swatter that took care of hundreds of his little buddies. And my glass cabinet. And a vase from my mother. And almost my middle child. Yes, sacrifices had to be made, but don't judge. On Monday night I went all Norman Bates on their...wings? and slashed through my kitchen like Freddie Krueger on Elm street. Yes, I am aware that most of you weren't even IN THE WOMB when either movie came out, but EDUCATE yourselves, people. Watch a little "Remember the eighties (seventies, nineties...)" on VH1 (YES, it IS a channel) and come play when you are done. You won't be disappointed.
So now I have black-spotted crown molding and little black splatters all over my ceiling. My cupboards (the ones that did not break in the attack) have a faux-bug-polka-dot finish. When I get going with my (now broken) (yes, I know I told you, but I'm really annoyed that a gnat the size of a sliver (and equally as painful) was able to split my swatter in half at the top. NO--I DON'T THINK I HAVE RAGE ISSUES--THANK YOU.) hot pink fly swatter, no one is safe. I heard my husband say to my children, 'Mommy's gone to the bad place again," and knew he was right. Though I AM winning the fight and will not go down until every last gnat-fruit-fly-bug is splattered somewhere in my house. Even if it's under the dried oatmeal and blueberries.
So Friday afternoon as we are walking by our toaster (if you are just joining us, there is--WAS-- a toaster in my driveway) after a long day at preschool, Addison says, "Mommy--it's a sunny day and the toaster's not wet." I know you are jealous because you will NEVER have this conversation with your child. EVER.
Anyway, she was noting that it hadn't rained (like it had the two or three days prior) when she pulled out the hardened charcoal that was once a roll, but now looked more like a bagel (from a Tim Burton movie!) with a big hole in the center looking it over as only a four-year-old can, and she started to lift the toaster up from its new (Who am I kidding? It had been there almost a week!) home.I ran to help her as my husband (who was home sick on Friday...he's feeling better, thanks!) opened the door.
"What are you doing?" he asked me.
"I'm helping her lift this because it's very heavy."
"What?! Well, what're you going to DO with it?!"
"We hafta bwring it IN Daddy...'cause it's not wraining anymower, so now it's dwry," she responded for me as she attempted to lug the enormous appliance by herself.
"Well, what do YOU think we should do with it? Should we just leave it in the yard?!" I asked (a bit snappishly, I'm thinking now...).
"I thought you said you were going to 'write a letter'?!" Yeah--I'm GOING TO WRITE a lot of letters. He knows that. I know that. My daughter who is toppling to the side knows that. "There are probably ants in there."
He is probably right and I am NOT a fan of bugs (I will get to my GNAT issues later), but what would he have me do? Create a shrine to the toaster while I write the letter (which, let's be honest here, probably won't happen) mail the letter (not-so-great at this, either),and wait for a response...the four-year-old knew that the toaster had to go. We brought it to the garage.
"Nyeah, 'cuz we don't want owar toastewer to be in the YARD, wright, Mommy? 'Cus dat would be SILLY?!" she laughed, thinking that we BOTH knew this to be true. At least we have our CHILDREN to take care of us.
So we are driving with my son (Brayden) and his best friend on Saturday and his friend is telling a story about these boys he befriended in his neighborhood. One of the boys, it seems, likes to use curse words. ALL of them. "I shouldn't say them, right Miss Nika?" he innocently asks. "NO!" my husband and I (finally doing something ALONE and TOGETHER) yelled and practically jumped out of our seats.
"I mean, that's okay--it's good that you know they aren't okay to say. Sometimes friends aren't told that their words are wrong or that they can hurt other people. Sometimes it hurts people's feelings just by SAYING the word, even if it isn't meant as an insult," I added, trying to deflate the fear he may have felt when the two of us jumped on him.
"Yeah," Brayden contributed. "I know the 'H' word the 'S' word the 'D' word and the 'F' word and I wouldn't want to hear ANYONE say them!" He nodded, knowingly.
My husband and I exchanged glances and I asked, "Really? I'm glad you know not to use them...you won't be in trouble for saying them now...I don't mind, do you, [best friend]?" "No! What are they, Brayden?"
"Hatestupiddumbandfreak!" he shouted in one breath. "And I'll try not to say them. EVER."
I was exploring on here, clicking links and buttons, and evidently I sent out email links to this site. Not one. Not three. EIGHT. Eight emails from me at one time. The problem is, I don't know WHO got the emails, so I cannot contact them (by email?!) to apologize. Hopefully after being bombarded, those who got the emails will see my apology. My brother just called to inform me of the situation and I am MORTIFIED! Please forgive me...all the whining about the blog was really supposed to be funny--it wasn't supposed to crash your computer. i REALLY need to work on my material.
Picking up my youngest from preschool is the BEST JOB EVER! The minute she sees me (which is usually after four preschoolers scream at the top of their lungs, "AD-DI-SOOOON---YOUR MOOO-OOMMY'S HERE!), she runs at me with every bit of her 39 pounds, beaming from ear-to-ear and tackle-hugs me. Given that my children have never been snugglers, I LOVE it! She squeezes for a full minute or two then repels off of me to begin the "goodbye tour."
Before we leave the school, Addison needs to go around and hug everyone--it's like an Italian funeral. Or Sunday dinner. Or anything Italian, really. Which stands to reason, since I come from a huggy-kissy Italian family. Though I thought these things were learned, not inherent and we've been away from family for a while now. At any rate, Addison spends a good five minutes saying goodbye. The same thing happens when I drop her off...she does the "hello tour." All of the three through five-year-olds gather around to yell "HELLL-LLLLOOO ADDISON" and push each other out of the way to give her hugs first. It's like watching eight-year-olds with Justin Bieber. Only she seems to exclusively sing Selena. "WHOOOO SAYS...WHO SAYS YOUWAR NOT PEWERRRFECT..WHOOOO SAYS YOUWAR NOT WORWF IT..? WHOOOO SAYYYYYYS?!" (That would be Addie singing Selena. It's MUCH cuter in person, so if I ever figure out how to post the video...stay tuned!)
Yesterday, after my hug and the beginning of "the tour," Addison ran back to finish a picture she made for me. It was one of five blue birds she had drawn and colored. PRET-TY talented, I'd say. Last week she was drawing pumpkins. It's funny--she gets a stencil, draws the first picture and then pushes out twenty more free-hand like she's Ms. Xerox or something. As she was finishing the beak, the little boy next to her informed me that HE was drawing HIS picture for ME. It was a bright, blue star he drew from the stencil and he added some purple to make it "sparkle." When Addison saw, she gave him a questioning look, finished her bird and demanded we leave. "Now."
I thanked the little boy and as we left Addie asked, "Why wouwood he wantta give his stawar to you when youwar MY Mommy? Did you make HIM sit in time out, too?"
So today it was Brayden's turn. I'm not sure what it was that he was DOING for twenty minutes in his room, but when I went back to see him (for the THIRD time), there he sat, seemingly doing nothing at all. He wasn't making his bed. he wasn't cleaning his room. He wasn't dressed (or GETTING dressed...or even CONTEMPLATING getting dressed, it seemed). He wasn't reading a book, singing a song, writing hate mail to me, picking his nose...he was just sitting, evidently to simply irritate me and send me over the edge. Mission accomplished.
I honestly try (really, I swear) to start off talking with my children in a nice, calm voice...singsong even. By the third time, I look like the bride of Chucky with eyes bulging, nostrils flaring and head contortioning...it isn't pretty. The fact that I'm quite certain my neighbors DOWN THE STREET can hear me in the winter is a problem I'm trying to fix. My fuse seems to get shorter the older I get. Or is it the older THEY get? Either way, it's ugly. I want to patiently wait for my children (and quite honestly, my husband) to do what I ask after I ask them the first or second (or even THIRD...) time, but I feel that MAYBE THEY CANNOT HEAR ME AND SO I HAVE TO YELL. And let's be honest--I usually have to ask TWENTY times before they even THINK about moving. Why do they hate me? I swear it's a conspiracy.
I have friends who very calmly and peacefully interact with their children. Some have children who just automatically do what their mothers/fathers ask them to do. THE FIRST TIME they are asked (or even TOLD) to do it. I swear--I've SEEN it and SOME of you are living it. Secretly we hate you, but don't take offense. I also have friends who ask their children to do things and their children blatantly disregard them--and THEY DON'T CARE! They don't become raving lunatics (like one blog-writer we know), they simply continue on as though nothing happened. HOW?! When three(make that FOUR) people ignore my existance on a regular basis, I start to feel like I'm not even really here. I look around and ask strangers, "You see me, right? I'm not, like a ghost or anything, am I? You're not experiencing a Bruce Willis/Sixth Sense moment with me are you? 'Cause I KINDA feel like I may be a figment of my own imagination..." I often wonder if I'm speaking out loud or if it's only happening in my head. And the longer this..."epidemic'? "condition"? goes on, the more I find that at times I'm really NOT speaking out loud--the line gets grayer with time--and frustration.
It's about significance, really. If none of the people around you find you significant enough to listen to you, you start to feel...well, insignificant! Suddenly you are ranting at mom's groups and exploding at WalMart to the nine-year-old stock boy (seriously--how old DO you have to be to get a work permit these days?) who REALLY wishes you WERE a ghost...And you are yelling. Yelling because you are angry for them not listening to you, yelling because you actually want them to do the thing in question and yelling so that you know you are actually still alive. Okay, so maybe not YOU as much as ME...but you (this time I really mean you!) see where I'm going with this...right? I'm not sure even I see where I'm going with this...no wonder no one listens to me--I don't make any sense! I said I DON'T MAKE ANY SENSE! But you (yes, YOU) already knew that--even BEFORE I started yelling.
My son just came home with a note in his agenda about...being late for school. Yep. Today (and yesterday...) we didn't get to school until 9:30. School STARTS at 9:20. At 9:20, they eat breakfast (I think we've covered that) and evidently, due to the fact that he has been "...arriving VERY (I would underline that if I knew how to) late to school," " he is starting to miss part of his Anthology lessons and morning greeting. [Could I] try to be at school by 9 am? Thanks! Have a Fantastic Night!"
Sure--I'LL have a fantastic night. I really hate that I am THAT parent. When I taught I swore I would never (again with the never...) be THAT parent. But they are KILLING me. I am fully aware that I had to sign my children in late...AGAIN. I am fully aware that there is always SOMEONE screaming and crying at my house. Sometimes it's even the children...I am also fully aware that they need to be at school. On time. No, I'm not holding them back each morning because I want to spend more time with them--I PROMISE. And I'm pretty sure I won't have a fantastic night--but thanks for thinking of me. I'm SURE she is REALLY concerned about the kind of night I'm having.
Brayden just came to me in a panic because he forgot his ANTHOLOGY book at school. Yes, that's right, his ANTHOLOGY book. the same book that is used for the "lessons" his negligent mother can't seem to get him to SCHOOL for these days. I'm glad she noted the time. She even gave me fifteen minutes to work with. Surely I can have him to school by then.
My daughter is in her room now, crying because of the way she treated everyone this morning and because she didn't eat her lunch...again...so I gave her Rice Krispie treat from breakfast (THANKS AGAIN, SCHOOL DISTRICT...) to her siblings. Let's be honest--she's only crying because of the Rice Krispie Treat. At least SOMETHING is getting through to her. Perhaps I should dress her NOW for school TOMORROW. THEN Brayden will be there on time. Unless it's HIS turn to push me over the edge tomorrow... I'm not sure how this "tag-team" thing works exactly. Sometimes they rotate daily, sometimes weekly, sometimes hourly. they like to keep me on my toes. I'm being punished for whatever I did to those parents when I was teaching. I'M SORRY! I guess I should be prepared for tomorrow's letter of reprimand...
The thing is, mornings around here...suck. There really isn't a better word for it, so I'm sorry if I offend you. Actually, there are SEVERAL better words for it, but I need to keep my PG blog rating. From the time my son was ONE, I swore that we could get up at FOUR and still not make it out of the house until TEN. What did I do to fix the problem? I had TWO MORE BABIES. Almost back-to-back. Ask me how THAT helped things on the morning front...go on, ask. Let's just say it didn't. I thought it would get better with time. I have really (no, REALLY) independent and obstinate children. Look at the toaster--if my appliances behave that way, imagine what the tiny humans are capable of...I just got a chill down my spine.
Okay...obstinate...independent children. I'm back. I swear they came out of the womb barking orders at me, telling me that they "...KNOOOOOOWWWWW" how to do WHATEVER I ask them to do (yet oddly, DO NOT ACTUALLY DO any of it). I remember being so proud (and yes, I'm sure I gloated--don't judge. We all act like jerks SOME time--some of us just make careers out of it--and NO I am NOT getting into politics on here--today...) So please stop interrupting--I have a hard time even following MYSELF. I was SO PROUD, because my son was picking out his clothes and dressing himself (matching his outfits and looking better than any of us) by the age of two. I'm not sure if I said it, but I'm pretty sure I wanted to make a bumper sticker about it. "My two-year-old dresses better than your middle school honor student..." or something along those lines. I didn't. Make the bumper sticker. Thank God. I'm so glad I'm not THAT person. Instead, I'm the person who writes about it on her blog and makes EVERYBODY read it. Seriously, I think my fb "friend" list dropped significantly when I started calling everybod out BY NAME to read my blog. Who do I really think I am?! Let's not dwell on that for too long--I may start BELIEVING it and then I may stop writing and to be quite honest, this has been very cathartic for me. Nevermind the people who are reading this nonsense...
Where was I...independence...dressing himself...blah, blah, blah...MORNING. SUCKING. That's right. I know that mornings aren't a favorite of many, but in my house they are truly horrific. I know all of the "tricks" and people keep reminding me of them--and I DO them--yet I still have problems. Yes, I make lunches at night. Almost always. Yes, I pick out clothes at night. Almost always. Yes, I have them get their backpacks ready at night. Almost always. Yes, they take showers/baths at night. On the rare occasion that we actually CLEAN them...that's a discussion I only need to have with Social Services, thank you. And this is just making me realize how much our NIGHTS must SUCK.
It doesn't matter how prepared we are for morning, it is almost always disastrous. My children usually tag team--you know, "I'll get on Mom's every last nerve today, you do it tomorrow. This way we can push her just to the edge, pull her back and repeat." On the rare occasion, they all like to do it at once, just to see if I will actually GO over the edge. It hasn't been pretty. My daughter, Ryan (Yes, I KNOW that Ryan is a boy's name. My grandfather reminds me of that on a regular basis, but thanks for the input) has the most beautiful clothes. I'm not saying that to gloat or to be a jerk--I'm saying it because it's true. My beautiful and well-dressed neice gives my girls her clothes after she grows out of them. Being the youngest (and ONLY girl) of five, she REALLY gives us an abundance of quality clothes. This works out so well for us because she is so girly and dainty that none of the clothes even look worn. The problem is, my girls have been known to ruin some of those clothes WITHOUT EVEN WEARING them. Seriously?! I swore I would never be (oh--by the way--NEVER say never) (Great--I can't even SAY that without singing Justin Bieber in my head--make it stop!) the mother who got upset for my kids BEING KIDS, but REALLY? Ruining it BEFORE you wear it?
I've come to realize that she (Ryan) may be ruining her clothes on purpose. She is NEVER happy with her clothes. I've tried everything. I choose three outfits--tell her to pick one. I find a top (or bottoms) and tell her to find the bottoms (or top). I even tried to let her pick out the entire outfit on her own, but she ALWAYS finds the one thing that is still 18 mos that I forgot to give away with the rest of the baby clothes and she ALWAYS puts it together with the OTHER thing I forgot to give away with the baby clothes. And the two NEVER match. Not only do they not match, they are ALWAYS the exact opposite. Green and yellow polka dots with fuschia and purple flowers. Orange and red stripes with hot pink and bright green frogs. Did I mention that these outfits almost always have holes? THIS is what I'm working with now. And THIS is [one of the reasons] why mornings suck.
This morning, for example, Ryan had a full-throw-yourself-on-your-bed-and-scream temper-tantrum. Last year she had those because I suggested that she wear jeans. Today she had one because I DIDN'T suggest that she wear jeans. Luckily, I believe that since she is so terrible about this now, she won't be so bad as a teenager. THIS is what keeps me going--please don't ruin it for me. I think I need to start drinking. Now.
Eight and ten. No, those aren't the ages of my children (keep up--I have THREE--ages four, six and seven). Eight and ten tell how many times my husband and I (respectively) walked by the obstinate toaster yesterday without picking it up and actually PUTTING it somewhere. Four and two. The number of times we walked by it TODAY (and yes, it's raining--on an electrical appliance--in my DRIVEWAY...). In fact, as I write this I can see the cold,damp toaster just sitting there--waiting for someone to make a decision about it. Good luck with THAT one, toaster. Perhaps you should talk to the yogurt container--I mean, "bug collector" in the garden.
Andrea mentioned yesterday that it would be a great Halloween theme--appliances in the front yard with chairs and other items strewn haphazardly about...interesting. I'll keep you posted. At any rate, that toaster needs to be gone soon or I am going to have to rename this blog: "Toaster Time" or something equally as unnerving. I had so many things buzzing around my brain to "discuss" today and they all popped out (so to speak!) when I saw the toaster. Again.
There's a toaster oven in my front yard. It's been there since Sunday. Today is TUESDAY. Yes, I am master of the obvious.
[NEW PARAGRAPH--See--I can learn!]
Where was I? Oh yeah--Tuesday. Toaster Oven. Here's the thing--most human beings don't store their household appliances in their front yards (driveway to be exact). Of course, non-human beings don't HAVE household appliances (or HOUSES for that matter) to store ANYWHERE, but that's a conversation for a later date. OUR toaster oven is in the front yard because on Sunday morning, it fought back.
The T.O. (that's what I'm calling it, though probably not consistently--fair warning!) is not even a year old--my son bought it for me for Christmas last year (or, my son made my husband buy it for me...you get it) and he was SOOOO pleased with himself. The toaster we were using burnt everything and looked like it would blow up at any time. It only "popped" when it felt like it, and then it would only do it when we least expected it to. THEN it would shoot the bread out at us like a soldier combatting enemy fire. That toaster needed to be put down for good. It never spent any time in the front yard.
The thing is, I don't particularly LIKE toaster ovens. If I want to toast my toast in an oven, I'll use THE OVEN. My son, however, was so very proud of his purchase--there was (and IS) no way I was going to tell him that I didn't absolutely LOVE it. I don't really use it too often. Half the time we have things piled on top of it (which never seems to phase my husband who goes right on toasting with the papers on top waiting to catch fire) and it is under the cabinets which are just DYING to go down in flames. I've even cleaned it a few times (which I can't really say about the demon toaster we '"let go" last year). Which leads me to WHY it is in the front yard.
On Sunday morning I decided to use the T.O. I took everything off the top, cleared the counters around it, put the bread in and turned the button to the "toast the toast" picture. I was in the middle of a psychotic episode over how many people were following my blog, so when the beeper went off, I thought I would just leave it and warm it up if I needed to when I finished "blogging." That IS what I'm doing, right? Blogging? We'll get into "tweeting" another day. Anyway, seconds later, the smoke detector "detected" a problem and when I ran to see, the T.O. was ON FIRE. I called to my husband who was frantically opening and closing the door to get the smoke out (he just assumed I had burnt another meal). I didn't panic, which kind of worried me--I mean, wouldn't you panic if there was a fire in front of you? I simply watched the toast melt in the flames that engulfed the inside of the oven and calmly asked, "Well, what should we do?" The answer? Unplug it and take it out to the front yard where it will sit until...?
I feel like we put the T.O. in time out (HA-T.O. in T.O. get it? I need a life!) because it was naughty. It did after all try to KILL us. The last toaster went right to the garbage and that was it, but this one is forced to face the shame of sitting in the driveway where all of the neighbors can see how BAD it was. Either that, or I have to face the fact that we are now white trash and the inside of our house is now throwing up on the outside of our house. WE are the people who just don't get around to picking up ANYTHING around our house--the people who make homeowner's associations crawl into the fetal position and rock back and forth. Some of you may have even BEEN in our homeowner's association, so YOU know. I'd much prefer to think that we haven't yet come up with an appropriate punishment for our T.O. and when we do...we'll probably bring it to the BACK yard. It will blend in with the broken grill and deflated pool toys. At least then there won't be a toaster in my front yard.
So I'm NOT going to look at this again today. I'm at seventeen, though I believe I joined TWICE! Also, counting my husband (who doesn't know he joined!) and my mom (who really HAD to join) a person may be tempted to look at the half-empty glass. Luckily, I'm not that person and I never have a half empty glass. It would be FANTASTIC to wake up tomorrow to see that I passed twenty, but I will not make the entire blog experience (for those of you who were nice enough to join!) about whether or not I have people following me. Perhaps I should spend my 'free" time (bahahaha! Like I have FREE time!) searching for a blog that will help me mentally...
I have a problem. At first it was funny, but now it's bordering on psychotic. I check this blog and my facebook at least four times a day to see if I have more readers. I'm sure a therapist would have so much fun with me. Am I seeking approval? Am I not loved enough? Or is it simply that I am finally able to be heard and I want more than thirteen people to listen? I need to spend some time with Freud...
Evidently paragraphs are important. I taught English for 10+ years--I should know this. I also have a problem with hyphens, ellipses and exclamation points. My English professors (who were like a hundred when they taught me a hundred years ago--did I mention I have a problem with hyperbole as well?) would be horrified to read my blog. IF they could figure out what a blog is. I'm still not sure I know...
So paragraphs. Apparently they are pleasing to the eye. Who knew?! I am a ranter--when I talk and when I write--yet it is a BIG no-no (as far as English teachers (myself included) are concerened). I talk in one big run-on sentence (as if you didn't figure THAT out yet), so to get my point across, I write like that as well. Only, I'll never get my point across to people who give up because my non-paragraphed--hyphenated--ellipsied--hyperbolic work pushes them to the next blog about the most money ever paid for a cow or a blog chronicling the life of a fruit fly.
The problem is, it seems I rarely have an actual POINT. I just like to talk--or write--about whatever pops into my brain at the moment. As you can imagine, it has gotten me into a lot of trouble over the years. This..."condition" has worsened as I've aged. It frightens me because I'm beginning to understand the crabby old ladies I once waited on in grad school. You know--the ones who seem to have Tourette's because they yell out obscenities or rude comments, seemingly unprovoked. It turns out they WERE provoked. Years of being "nice," "keeping their mouths shut" and "doing the right thing" all the time finally caught up with them and they stopped worrying about what others thought. Or felt. Hmmm--maybe I need to work on this now...
So I'm reading my facebook posts last night and a dear friend posted about her son favoring her husband. Another friend posted about the woes of single parenting (and I have to say, NOW I understand why people stay together for the sake of the children--it's about not KILLING them!)and not being appreciated for all that she does. It brought me back to a day when I felt so loved--those days are rare--when everything seemed to really go well in our home. No one fought about what color bowl they wanted at breakfast. No one pushed a sibling out of THEIR chair. No one whined about the food selection. everyone patiently waited for me to get breakfast ready and they spoke NICELY to me (and to each other)about school, their dreams, whatever came to mind. This day is so vivid, because it only happened once. ONE TIME in SEVEN years (or if we are counting from the time I had three, one time in FOUR years. Still depressing, no?) we had a nice morning that wasn't filled with yelling, screaming and whining. Just before we needed to leave for school, my youngest ran to me and gave me a huge huge hug coupled with a sweet sigh. "Oh, Mommy," she cooed. "I just love Daddy best!"
So New Jersey (or at least Vineland) is imposing this new "healthy breakfast" program on its schools. They boast that since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, students perform better when they have it. Duh.
I'm not naive enough to think that every parent feeds his child breakfast every morning, so in theory, I promote this new program. In practice, however, I have a real problem with it. In a nation with skyrocketing childhood obesity cases, I would think that the "healthy breakfast" would include those foods that parents who are not feeding their children breakfast probably don't consider. Apples, oranges, grapes, peaches, any fruit, really would be acceptable. Any vegetable would be fantastic. A lunch bag with Fruit Loops, animal crackers, juice and milk is NOT acceptable, nor is the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal bar and the chocolate chip "muffin" (let's be honest--it is really cake disguised as breakfast). The one thing I have been able to control as a parent and the one area where I have been successful as a parent is now being undermined. My children get eight to ten fruit and veggie servings a day. They eat (or at least try) almost anything and their sugary treats are limited.
This isn't to brag--I am lacking in SOOOO MANY other areas, this one is just important to me. I suffer from hypothyroidism, fibromyalsia and an autoimmune disease that went undiagnosed for years. I packed on weight without really eating anything at all. During this time I knew that people (especially teachers and doctors) would assume that I consume junk and therefore feed it to my children. I had to be extra vigilant in my quest to serve healthy foods. After all of my time in waiting rooms, I read more Prevention, Health, Self and food,health and parenting magazines than anyone should ever have to think about in a lifetime. I got to the point where the newer articles were refuting the old, and the newest articles confirmed the old. What I didn't read in doctor's offices, I would look up myself. I became obsessed with feeding my children properly. Don't drink sports drinks or soda: check. Limit or eliminate fried foods and trans fats: check. Eat whole foods and limit juices to once a day or not at all: check. Incorporate whole grains and omega 3s into your diet: check. Eliminate or limit sugary cereals and desserts: check.
Minus. I couldn't take away all treats--especially when they would eat so well. I tried to make even the yummy stuff healthy, for example, I put oat bran and ground flax seed (and sometimes even spinach) in brownies. I make oatmeal with kefir, flax seed, oat bran, and berries. My kids love these things and I love rewarding their phenomenal eating habits. This all came to a grinding halt the first day they were offered Fruit Loops , animal crackers and fruit juice at school. How can I continue to instill in my children the need for healthy foods when the school is providing them with the food I tell them we need to limit or eliminate? It took me years to convince them that "FRUIT" Loops were not really fruit at all and they are actually not healthy at all. They finally were on board and now the school is saying otherwise. As a teacher, I am always rallying for the schools and the teachers, so how can I now tell my children that the school is wrong?
I told them that some kids don't get ANY food, so it's nice that the school is feeding everyone, but we eat a healthy breakfast--usually the oatmeal from above with a piece of fruit or a spinach and kale smoothie, before they leave in the morning. I decided to treat the school's "breakfast" as a snack. In my brain, if they were to have a snack of cookies and juice each day (which was the case in many child care centers where I worked when I was younger) it would be similar. Of course, then I would have to complain about the cookie and juice intake each day. Maybe it's ME...? Nah! The biggest problem I have with all of this is the fact that they are making me into THAT parent and I HATE THAT parent. But seriously, could it hurt them to throw a banana at the kids every once in a while?
I drag my girls out of the bathtub and the youngest one runs away from me--streaking, laughing and collapsing in a fit of hilarity. I scoop her up in the towel and say, "No one wants to see that! No nudies running around my house--we need cute confy pajamaed girls (I make up words. ALL the time) in this house!" My daughter contributes, "Yeah and no nudie mommies either. No one wants to see all that yucky hair on your body!"
My youngest daughter is in preschool and loves it. In fact, when I leave her there, it is all she can do to turn and say goodbye to me. This is why when she cried this morning and said she didn't feel well, I believed her. We had a low-key day and when my husband got home, she asked him to go outside to play with her. "No--when you are home sick, you need to stay inside," was his reply. "But I'm not REALLY sick," she laughed. "I was just twickin' Mommy."
I am a former teacher/ SAHM of three who needed to do SOMETHING so that we would all come out of this alive and unscathed. I don't really have a blogging philosophy, though I have many THEORIES...for example, "In THEORY, it would be a great idea to get off of the computer and wash a dish..." yet here I sit. I have a THEORY that my musings may help people to see that they are not alone--or maybe they will just make ME realize that I AM alone...nah--I'm sticking with my first one. Better than therapy, I tell you!