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Yelling at Strangers

I am so tired, I feel that shit deep in my bones.  After a busy work week, with plenty of added jobs, I also had my daughter’s birthday party to prepare for.  In the past we have had her family party at our house or my sister in law’s house (they have a big house with lots of space and a pool, which they have generously offered to us to use for the party many years).  This year, I decided to keep everything super simple.  No theme, no extensive decorations, no tons of planning.  I’ve done it all in the past and I usually end up exhausted.  Frankly, my daughter doesn’t care about all that stuff anyway.  She simply wants a day with her family, playing with kids, opening gifts, and ice cream cake.  She REALLY wanted an ice cream cake, which I found out later on.  This year, I stepped outside my comfort zone and rented a pavilion at the beach. Our town allows you to rent out a pavilion at a reasonable fee.  This spoke to me.  Laid back, beach day, with sun, sand, water, and a playground close by to keep everyone entertained.  I pictured getting leis for the people coming, keeping the food cookout style, and I would simply jump on the grill and it would be a relaxing day for all.

I booked the pavilion, and figured all was well, until my anxiety popped up.  I had this unshakable feeling that we would arrive to set up only to have strangers at the pavilion, and I would be forced into getting someone from the rec dept to have them leave.  I asked the woman at the rec dept what would happen if that situation occurred.  She said “go to the gate and they will have someone come over and sort it.”  Ok, sounded decent, and I tried to not worry.

Then the weather turned. A scan at the Weather Channel app was a rollercoaster of emotion.  I also realized they have likely no idea what the upcoming weather would be.  The weather changed day to day, varying from horrible thunderstorms to partly sunny and warm with a nice breeze.  Each day was a new adventure as far as the meteorologists were concerned. Every day I waffled between seeing we’d have a lovely beach day or a monsoon.

The day before the party, (THE DAY BEFORE!) my phone rings.  When I heard the woman on the other end say she was calling from the rec dept, I KNEW something was wrong.

“So, there is an issue…..we made a huge error on our end…….DOUBLE BOOK………we want to make it right….other alternatives……heading to the beach now to see what can be done…..”

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I offer to meet them at the beach, and headed off with daughter in tow.

I arrive at the beach and meet up with two women from the rec department.  They honestly couldn’t have been nicer, and were up front with the fact someone had booked the pavilion in June for a gender reveal party and somewhere there was a mix up.  The pregnant woman who booked it had come in freaking out and irate after hearing about the issue.  I can tell they were nervous about speaking with me but were grateful when I kept calm about it.  They offered a different area, said they would set up tents etc, and offered a few options.  The wind that day was coming off the water so hard it was blowing my hair straight up in the air.  I looked at them and said “Look, if the wind is anything like this tomorrow, which it likely will be with storms coming at night….a tent is going to LAUNCH”.  After all was said and done, the options they gave me didn’t feel right and likely would have been a nightmare.  My other brother in law graciously extended an offer for us to have it at his house since they have a large deck and lots of open space.

I excused myself and stepped aside to talk quietly with my daughter.  She said she would be perfectly happy wherever her party was held When she saw me look upset the plans had been all turned upside down, she whispered in my ear “mama, it’s not your fault.  I appreciate all your hard work, but please don’t be sad, it’s OK!”

I’m not crying. I swear.

I walked back and told the women my daughter was ok with us moving the party and the other woman could have the space.  One of the women leaned over and told my daughter how kind and special that was, and how nicely she and I were taking a bad situation and making the best of it. I was promised a full refund, but that I would need to bring the parking passes I had prepaid for all the guests in to get refunded for those.  I wasn’t happy I’d have to retrieve them all, but agreed I would try to bring them in.

I headed off to get my daughter an ice cream cake, which I found out she had really wanted (but would have been impossible at the beach). I let her pick the flavors, the design,etc, and I had a very happy little girl.

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING: The party was a success, we all had a great time, and my daughter was thrilled.

Yesterday I took the passes I had and went to the rec center.  It was my daughter’s actual birthday and we had a lot of stuff planned.  I was still recovering from all the work involved for the party and I felt that extreme tiredness in my SOUL.  One of the women I had spoken with at the beach was at the counter and smiled when she saw me. She wished my daughter a happy birthday and handed over a huge bottle of bubbles for my daughter as a gift and as a thank your for being so understanding.  I thanked her and explained I didn’t have two of the passes, but could they let it slide due to the circumstances? She said she’d have to clear it with the other woman, but felt she would probably say yes, because we had been so gracious about the error and so lovely to work with.

Just then, another lady who works there and who I have watched berate another employee there in front of me chimed in and started getting loud with the woman helping me. “WHY WOULD YOU EVEN SAY THAT? WHY WOULD YOU SAY SHE PROBABLY WOULD?” The woman helping me looked extremely uncomfortable.

Not today, Satan,

Not today.

“HEY! DON’T YOU YELL AT HER!”  I shouted.  “This office made a mistake, and could have ruined my daughter’s birthday party.  These two women have been honest about the error, tried to make it right, and are trying to rectify the situation in a positive manner, which is the ONLY reason I have not created a big issue here.  This is not the first time I have seen you berate your coworkers, so why don’t you sit there and go back to your paperwork and make sure this situation doesn’t happen again?”

She huffed.

“GO HUFF IF YOU WANT BUT DON’T YOU BELITTLE HER!”

Yeah.  I became that person.  I became the woman yelling at a stranger over a partition wall because I hate seeing nice people given crap for something when they are just trying to do the right thing.

The woman getting yelled by Grumpy St Bitterbritches is always super sweet and friendly to me.  The last time I went to the office to get the parking passes I watched the other employee belittle another woman who worked there, get sarcastic with a town resident, and make a sarcastic comment to another.

Not today.

I can let a lot slide if people are honest and apologetic.  Accidents happen, mistakes can be made.  A sincere apology without excuses goes a LONG way with me.  My daughter and I had been very accommodating all things considered, which the 2 women we spoke to at the beach were clearly grateful for.  I am sure they saw it was a birthday party for us and a gender reveal party for the pregnant lady and thought it was going to be miserable for them either way because of the mistake.  Instead, it went relatively smooth.  They knew I wasn’t thrilled, but I was honestly kind of ok with it.

To be honest, everything was less stressful for me in the end.  No worries about weather (we had everything outside but moved inside later on so we missed the rain).  I had a fridge, freezer, and everything I needed at my fingertips.  My daughter had the cake she desperately wanted, and a good time was had.  I got to invite more people.  At the end of the day, things fell into place.  Plus, I am getting refunded the money I spent.

But don’t test me, bitter lady in the back of the rec office.

Mama don’t play that.

 

 

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She Can Do It All, Until She Can’t

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I grew up the daughter of parents who never made me feel I couldn’t do something just because I was a girl.  I was taught I was equal to men, could hold my own, and to be fiercely independent.  I lived in a two parent household, and my parents stayed happily married until my mother died.  Of course, there were some stereotypical roles that fell into place.  My mother was a stay at home mom, and my dad worked to support the family.  My mother cleaned the house to spotless perfection and looked after me, dinner was on the table each night at 6, and she was the arranger of all the plans.  My mom was the glue that seemed to hold us all together.  My father traveled extensively for work, sometimes even for weeks at a time, and my mother was always the figure in the home who held down the fort.

With that being said, my mother always made it clear that she had been the primary breadwinner before we moved to the US.  I knew she stopped working to look after me, and also because it made more sense financially.  She always told me to make sure I was ok on my own if I ever needed to be, and to make sure I always had my name on the house, cars, and other assets as well as my husband.  She’d had friends who had gotten divorced and ended up screwed because they hadn’t looked out for themselves as well.  In other words, while my parents lived in many ways an old fashioned set up, I was always taught to be a modern, independent woman who could look after herself, and why that was so important. I also learned that I could be a good wife, a good mom, and that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do just because I was a girl.  Women in today’s society are told we can have it all, the career, the family, the home, and all that comes with us.

We can.  Many women do.  But sometimes, it’s really hard.  Like, really, really hard.

I hesitated to write this, because it’s hard to be vulnerable.  Usually when I admit a vulnerability, it gets thrown back at me.  That being said, I am who I am, and unapologetically so.  I own my mistakes, I own who I am, both on my best and worst days.  The other week someone tried a jab at my parenting when I “lost” my daughter.  (More on that in a future blog). Yet still, I owned it. At the end of the day, I am bluntly, without apology, or explanation, myself.  With me, you know what you are getting.  My filter isn’t very good, and my face will say my thoughts anyway.

So with all the things.  The work, the parenting, the house, the jobs, the peopling, the endless obligations that have stacked up….it’s gotten to be a bit much to manage on my own. My husband is always supportive of me in everything I do, but he works long hours and our schedules are opposite, so much of the stuff around the house and scheduling the kids falls to me.  I am trying to hold all the pieces together of the life puzzle and I ran out of hands.  I’m left tired and drained.  They always say on a plane to put your oxygen mask on first so you can help others.  I have been doing the reverse and I ran out of air. The more I couldn’t focus on a few things, the more everything started to spiral where it got to be just a bit more to manage.

This week I hit a wall.  I’ve only had it happen a few times in my life, but this week was one of them.  This week something snapped.  The year of yes came to a crashing end and I just wanted to say no. I looked around and for all I was doing, it just wasn’t amounting to what it should.

And I stopped.

I cried a little, I’ll admit it.

And then I did what I hate doing the most.

I asked for help.

I hate asking for help. I always think it’s an imposition.  It feels like I am failing at something, and I sort of hate that.  The funny thing is, I always encourage others to ask for help, and always am willing to help others.  I suppose we are always hardest on ourselves, right?

I’ve suffered from depression since I was a teen.  I went through some very bad times with it, went on medication, until I finally got it under control.  The fact is, I will likely always have it, but for the most part I rarely suffer these days.  I haven’t been on meds for it for years, but I do stay very mindful of when it feels that it’s starting up.  Yesterday I realized I need to stop and breath.  I looked around, and realized I needed to ask for help to ease the burden of things for a little while.  I called my dad and said I wanted to come visit and have a mini vacation.

I had an honest chat with my family and the response was amazing. I said I am overwhelmed, and they stepped up to ask how in turn they could each help. That’s family. Even the little things stack up to help.  This morning, my husband offered to run the kids to camp and returned home with a coffee for me.  He called from work to check in, just to make sure I am ok.  He knows that usually, I keep it all together, but when I am struggling, he is there to check in…just to make sure I am hanging in there and to see if I need anything.  The reminder that he is there to back me up and lift me up if I fall is a great source of comfort.

The next week or so is going to be busy.  Much to plan, to do, and to coordinate.  That being said, I will be pausing to breathe more, saying no when I get overwhelmed, and asking for help if I need it.  I will try me best to take care of me a bit better than I have been.  Maybe I’ll even use that gift certificate for a massage my aunt sent me.  Seems like a perfect time to use it.  Rest and recharge amongst the chaos, so I can minimize the chaos.

Yesterday, when I felt my worst, I looked around at ALL the THINGS that needed doing, and I felt like a failure.  My mom had always made things seem so effortless.  I look back and realize how much I took for granted.  I realize I looked at her and she made it all seem so darned easy.  I came home from school to find my laundry done, the house clean, a meal on the table, and I never really comprehended the amount of work that went into making all of that happen.  I also realized she would have told me that while she was a stay at home mom, I work full time.  I have less time for some of the things than she had. I know she would have reminded me of the times when she seemed short with me or stressed that she too struggled with getting it all done.  She would also remind me that sometimes, you just have to go and take a nap and figure it out later.

When you grow up and you watch your mom do it all, you think you can too.  There is a big push on social media and the media in general to be the mom who can be perfect.  Everyone portrays themselves to be super moms.  They post and pin and they present the perfect outside image.  Their immaculate houses, their vacations, their endless smiles.  The fact is, I’m sure there’s a lot of women who feel they too need to pause, take a deep breath, and escape from it all for a few.  To not have ALL the THINGS in their heads and to do lists every moment.  So I’m waving to those ladies, from my yard that needs weeding, my house that needs cleaning, surrounded by all the jobs I need to do but have no time to do them in because there’s only so many hours in a day. I hear you. I see you. I’m one of you too.

 

Let Them Be Chickens

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So, it’s official.  I am officially on the PTSA board of our school as of today.  I am still wondering if I have done the right thing, and also just what I have gotten myself into. My default is to jump in with both feet, and have already been brainstorming some fundraising ideas.  I was told to relax, hold back, and take a “let’s see” approach.  That’s not really my style.  On one hand, I am chaos personified.  I’m the mom screeching into the parking lot at the last minute, but I get there.  I am the mom who gets it done, even if it doesn’t look pretty.  There is some method to my madness, and I usually need at least a baseline plan in place to keep the stress levels down.  I’m not very structured, but I need a basic idea of a plan to get started.  At the moment, I’m floundering and I feel dazed.  I’m not a fan. I will therefore sit back, and try very hard not to think too much about things.  It just won’t be easy.  I’m more of a doer than a not think about it type of gal.

After getting voted in, I was chatting with a mom friend about the changes, about summer, after school care next year for her daughter, and she asked how I manage to work from home when the kids are home.  She was surprised by my answer.

“Well, the older one will play video games or read and entertain himself pretty quietly, and the younger one plays outside or with the neighbor kids.  I’m trying this whole “free range parenting” thing out.”

She looked stunned.  The video game comment gave her pause and a raised eyebrow.  The free range parenting comment made her appear quite surprised.

The fact is, my son is an old soul.  He is extremely smart (way smarter that me, to be honest).  He’s responsible, a rule follower, and very mature.  (Not like me).  He gets great grades and is respectful and kind.  That, along with some chores, is his “job”.  As long as he is doing his job, and his grades are good, I don’t sweat the small stuff.  I let him play video games with his friends after school.  Sure, I keep the time down to a decent amount, but I let him play.  It’s a form of socialization, and he enjoys it.  It’s also sparked an interest in coding, which could be good for him.  He accompanied me to the apple store and jumped into a coding class there.  The instructor was very impressed with his knowledge and demeanor.  I may take him for more.  Currently, my son and his bike have disappeared down to the school to go hang out on the field/playground with his friends.  He has his sister’s ipod which has wifi, so he can text me if he needs me.  I’m only a few minute drive away.

The little one looks most forward to racing outside each day.  I can see her from my home office window.  I can call to her.  We have a system, and it works.  She never leaves the front of the house without telling me where she is going.  There are also a group of great kids in the neighborhood that she plays with.  The parents know each other, watch out for the kids, and text each other when kids are on route from one house to another.  It’s working.  I now have a happier child, who enjoys being outdoors and playing with friends.

For years, I have struggled with balance.  Work vs home, fairness  with the kids, and a constant battle of how their childhood is vs mine was.  When my son got older, my daughter was still 4 years younger, so it was easier to keep them both inside.  With my work schedule, there wasn’t any time to just hang with the neighbor kids.  Growing up, I raced home, did homework, and jumped on my bike.  I rode the back roads about a mile from my house to my best friends, and we would go back and forth between our houses, playing, riding, laughing, and making memories.  I did this when I was about 8 or nine.  My parents trusted me to do right, to call when I arrived, and to do be responsible.  And you know what?  I WAS.  I DID.  I called, and I was responsible.  I knew quite clearly that bad behavior, or not doing as I should would eliminate my freedoms.  Looking back, I believe my mom would drive the neighborhood to make sure I was safe and keep an eye on what I was up to.  I fell off my bike once and she was there in minutes, without a phone call.  (no cell phones when I was a kid, folks!).  Nowadays kids have technology at their fingertips.  Luckily they have ipods and the neighborhood is a wifi hotspot, so they can text me if they need me.  That’s more than I had as a kid.

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The fact is, kids were kids, but in many ways, we were more grown up than today’s kids.  We had more freedoms and we learned to handle those freedoms appropriately.  We learned responsibility.  We had street sense.  The small freedoms I received made me feel more grown up, and I behaved better.  Why? Because I didn’t want to lose the privileges I had been given!  Cause and effect is an important learning tool.

It occurred to me one day my kids might not really know how to cross the street safely.  As in, which lane cars drive in, where to look, how to listen for cars, how to double check.  I was horrified.  The fact was though I was always with them and guided them. I started teaching them more street sense.  How to manage if I wasn’t there.  How to be safe, and to help their friends be safe. I started taking them on bike rides, to learn the layout of the neighborhood, where cross walks are, and how to read the traffic signals.  It’s an ongoing lesson, but an important one.  I keep an eye on them, but I am allowing more freedom and choices their way as they get older.

I notice other parents doing the same more than before.  Maybe I’m just more in tune with it because giving the kids so much freedom is a bit daunting at first. The fact is, I am raising future adults.  I have to balance teaching them a healthy dose of reality (ie. stranger danger, car safety, etc) vs teaching them to be independent and responsible.  I need to teach them that outside is where magic happens.  Healthy habits, spending time in nature is good not only for the body, but for the soul.  Not to mention, they sleep AMAZINGLY now.

I’ll still be nervous.  I’ll still keep an eye on them when they don’t know I am watching.  At the end of the day though, this free range parenting, allowing the kids more freedom and responsibility has thus far been a good thing.  The better they do, the better I will do. There are parents allowing their kids to navigate the city by themselves, take the subways, etc.  I’m not there yet.  We’re keeping with the neighborhood and going from there.

 

She’s a Bleeder! A Hungry Bleeder! And on the PTA?

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I should have known.

The moment on Sunday morning, when my husband laid next to me in bed and said “I’ll have to see if the fridge is cold”, that it was going to be that kind of week.  At first I looked over at him and lowered my glasses…thinking his statement was similar to “I’ll have to see if a rock is hard”.  But then…realization kicked in.  My eyes widened, my mouth opened.  “The fridge is broken?!?  Oh NOOOO!”

Look.  I’m not a monster, but I’m a (relatively) healthy woman with curves.  I like food.  To be honest, I didn’t realize how much time the fridge and I spent together in a day until it died.  I make dinners, snacks (husband does school lunches), but I go in the fridge a lot.  Suddenly, there was a freezer that worked, but strangely, no fridge.

We spent Sunday going form store to store looking for a fridge.  Do we get a cheapo fridge to tied us over for a while until we eventually got something we loved?  Do we get what we love?  Do we get that sweet ass fridge that was wicked expensive but you could knock twice on the window and it would light up a drinks compartment?  Our budget set the tone.  We ended up with a great fridge that had what we wanted, lots of space, and no water dispenser.  Why? Because we didn’t want the hassle of getting someone to hook it up.  Do you know how hard it can be to find a fridge without a water dispenser?  No easy feat.  The only issue? It won’t be delivered until Saturday, so I’m using a bar fridge for a few days.  I feel like I am back in college but there is no tapioca pudding in there.

To add insult to injury, I also got sick.  Effectively, when I breath, it CRACKLES.  If you need to imagine yourself by a roaring, crackling fire, just have me come stand there and breath.  The crackling is no joke.  My voice is wrecked too, which means I fluctuate between Herman Munster and some high pitched squeaky baby voice.  Interesting, considering that I teach classes online.  Every day is a surprise!  I never know what sound will emit from my head.

Something else I wasn’t expecting to emit from my head was blood. I was sitting in my office when I realized I got my first nosebleed.  I ran to the bathroom, leaving a blood trail.  Then, I coughed. I coughed so violently, blood went EVERYWHERE.  Now I look like I got punched in the face, there is crime scene looking blood splatter, and I don’t really know what to do, so I start wiping it up, while i’m bleeding. Then I hear my daughter so I shove paper in my nose and frantically start cleaning before she sees it.  She comes down just as I am getting up a big plop of blood on the counter, and seems amazed I have never had a nosebleed (She gets them somewhat often).  I start to feel the cough coming, so I jam my face in a wad of toilet paper to catch the spray of blood while I hack and wretch violently.  Of course once one of these coughs starts, it just won’t stop.

“You should probably sleep with an ice pack and a bucket” she says, kisses my shoulder, and heads up to bed.

I just cleaned up the blood trail in my office.

I hate blood, by the way.  Hork.

Nosebleeds can be kind of scary but mostly are kind of funny.  What makes the body just go…”ok, bleed through one of those front smeller holes!” And one size of your nose just becomes a disaster?

But again, I digress.

Our school district is under complete chaos.  I’ll write more about it probably tomorrow, after I’ve rested and mulled it over.  Tonight, however, I am left with decisions.

Y’all, they asked me to consider being one of the PTA moms.

ME.

You know that scene from Bad Moms when Mila Kunis is trying to get the kids to school, and the dog ends up having to go to the vet, coffee is spilling, life is chaos, etc?  That’s my life.  Only I’m chubbier, drive an SUV, can’t walk in heels anymore and need more coffee to survive. In other words…I’m the antithesis of the stereotypical PTA ladies.  Hell, I’m not even a lady.  I’m the mom who accidentally drops an F bomb without realizing it (and then honestly not caring that much).  I am the mom who makes it to the functions, just in time, screeching in to the parking lot and running in the door while rubbing lipstick off my tooth with my finger (because I’m British and have a snaggletooth…the struggle is real, y’all). That being said, I make it.  I’m calmer now, and I’ve got this two kids deal in control much more of the time. I’m a full time working mom, with two kids, a husband with an opposite schedule, and I do what I can. I do my BEST.  Sometimes my best sure doesn’t add up the way I want it to, but my best is what I’ve got.

The PTA moms find me to be ok.  I’m that mom they warn their friends about before meeting me, but they seem to like me.  I’m the mom that took on coaching the boys soccer team when nobody else wanted to step up.  I make it work in my own way. My kids are polite, well behaved, so they know I must be doing something decent.  I think I have a reputation for being direct and honest. I say what I think, but I look at both sides of things.

But PTA? With my already having no time self?  I dunno.  Part of me wants to be a part of something great for the school, especially during a tough time the district is going through.  I want to show my daughter and son I can do it. Maybe I want something warm and fuzzy to melt my cold little heart.  Plus, I’m kind of honored they want me to consider it.

I have some things to mull over.

Right after I clean up those blood spatters I just noticed on my floor.

 

Little Assholes and The First Ride

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bikeSometimes. kids are little assholes.  As parents, our jobs, should we do it successfully, is to not raise little assholes, but it has to be said, some parents are failing mightily.

Let me explain.

This is the year I have been giving the kids a bit more leeway and independence.  I let them play out in the neighborhood more, my son goes on bike rides with his friend who lives around the corner.  Now that they are a bit older, it’s time to trust them more, and I know they will keep an eye on each other.  I can watch them out the window, or from the front stoop, but they are feeling more responsible and independent.  Part of this was their age, but a big part was knowing at even the little one’s age I was always out playing or riding bikes with friends.  I went out right after homework and stayed outside until the street lights came on.  I had no cell phone.  I was fine.  It taught me responsibility, street smarts, and I got fresh air.  My friends and I all looked out for each other.  It made for a good childhood.

My children, on the other hand, haven’t had as much of that.  With my work schedule, they got home close to dinner time.  After homework, it was already starting to get dark.  I was nervous about them being outside while I was cooking.  There weren’t too many kids on the street.  The result? Too much screen time, not enough fresh air.  Another result? My daughter is almost 8 and couldn’t ride a bike without training wheels.  This never bothered me, and it didn’t bother her either.  That is, it didn’t bother her until the asshole neighbor kid started commenting on it. Then of course, the other kids had to tell the tale of when they learned how to ride a bike. I watched my daughter’s face crumble a bit, then tighten with resolve.

That night, I knew.  I grabbed a wrench and took her training wheels off.

The next day, I took her outside and started showing her how to balance on her bike.  She was nervous, but I could see strains of confidence beginning to appear. Just when I thought we were almost where I could start teaching her to use the pedals, the asshole kid came up.  He started again with the brag.  Not even a humble brag, but a full on, almost neener neener kind of brag.  I tried to be an adult.  I told him she was learning, and it would be more helpful if he cheered her on.  I said “let’s keep it positive!”.

He persisted in his assholish behavior.  I told him to go home.

At that point, I picked up her bike and wrangled it in my car.  “Hop in” I told her, “we’re gonna learn how to ride that bike!”  I drove down to an office park, knowing on a Saturday it would be a ghost town.  We got down to business, practicing balancing.  There was some whining. Some self doubt appeared for both of us.  And then, just like that, her feet hit the pedals.  Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when the braces come off and you see that sudden realization and determination in his face?  That was the same look she had.  Within 10 minutes, she was whizzing around the parking lot.

I clapped.  I cheered.  I danced.  I teared up a little.

I was just so damned proud.  I was proud of her for sticking with it.  I was proud of her grace when that kid was giving her balls.  And, if I’m honest, I’m proud I was able to teach her.  Riding a bike for a kid is a big deal.  I always figured I’d never be able to teach them, and that my husband would be the one to do it.  Yet I managed to teach both kids, and I think they’ll remember it was something I was able to do for them.  Kids remember our successes.  They remember (and sometimes land in therapy because of) our failures.  We don’t get an instruction manual.  We’re winging it every day as parents.  So that little success of “I can do it! I can teach her how to ride that bike!” was LIFE for me in that moment.

Parenting is just like writing a novel.  There are characters and stories, twists and turns, heroes and villains, successes and failures. We as parents work tirelessly, endlessly on our greatest works of art.  Our kids.  We love them, nurture them, and hope that their story will have more smiles than tears, more success that failures.  We are just one character of many in their story, but we play very important parts to that story.

When we got home, she hopped on her bike, and rode is smoothly down the sidewalks and back.  The kid who had given her a hard time came by and was shocked to see her riding without training wheels.  The other kids in the neighborhood also looked surprised.  “You learned to ride that in one day?” he asked her.

Yep, my mama taught me how.”

Best sentence I’ve heard in a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  In my last post, I revealed I need to start working out.  It hasn’t been an easy process.  I HAVE been going to the gym and pool.  So there’s that.  However, after I am done, I want ALL the calories.  ALL the calories in the world! In.My.Belly.   I’m thinking that’s not going to work in my favor as far as losing weight, so I need to make some changes there as well.  Right now, the goal is just to move more than before, and take things step by step.  More changes will come, but for now, I’m starting with making moving around a new habit.

Look, I am a firm believer that most people don’t really change all that much.  People are who they are, and that’s that.  People don’t magically become a totally different person, and if they tell you they are, they are full of shit.  People’s edges wear off a little, they get new habits, but the core of who they are is what it is.  For example, I have a temper.  I have a batshit crazy, will rip your face off temper.  I also am a grown woman who knows it’s not cute to be losing her temper and doing the crazy stuff I used to do when I was younger, so I work hard at trying to maintain my temper.  Don’t be mistake, I can snap back to the rage of my youth in a New York second, but for the most part, I keep it on the level.  I am a woman who loves ice cream and chocolate.  That’s not gonna change.  I just know that I’m at an age where I need to eat more salads these days.  So I will give it a go….

….after I take the kids for ice cream tonight, that is.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In other news, I had a great trip visiting my dad and stepmother this weekend.  The kids and I drove down to his house, about a 5 1/2 hour drive.  They watched the kids for me the first night so I could make a few stops to see friends.  The first stop was my good friend’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.  Yes, my vacation started off with a 90th birthday party, and it was amazing.  We didn’t tell her I was coming, and surprised her.  I spent a lot of time at her house in my early 20’s, and she was like another grandmother to me.  I walked in and she looked absolutely delighted to see me, giving me hug after hug after hug.  She hadn’t aged a bit since I had met her, even though decades had passed.  We were so happy to see each other (it had been about 5 years) and it was an utter joy and honor to be there for her birthday.  My friend’s family and other friends were there and I hadn’t seen many of them in years.  People were coming up to give me big hugs and ask about my husband and kids, asking how we all were.  Some of the folks there were kids when they first met me, but they remembered me and ran up to give me a hug.  I was so touched by all the love and friendship.

After the party, I headed the half hour back to where my dad lives to have a late dinner with another one of my good friends.  It’s funny, my friends down there are all parents, and we don’t talk much on the phone.  We’ll send the occasional facebook message, or touch base a few times a year, but as soon as we get together you can’t shut us up.  We fall right back into our friendships like not even a day has passed us by.  We’re all the same kids who were running amuck back in the day, creating chaos and hanging out for days on end.  These are some of the people who know me the best.  They know who I’ve always been, where I come from, and they know that I’m still that same girl, if not a little older, wiser, and ok, calmer. We’re all very different from each other, and there’s a lot we probably disagree on.  But what we do have is a history of good and bad times, a solid knowledge of each other, and we agree to disagree. It’s times when I go down there to visit that I am always touched by how long we’ve been friends and how lucky I am to have had friends that long.  While she doesn’t live down south, I am still friends with my first best friend from school.  If something happens, she knows me through and through. When I do a facebook post about my mom, she and my friends from down south always comment.  They knew her well and loved her too.

Sunday and Monday I hung out with my dad and step mom.  We went boating, went out to eat, fished, and sat around talking with my step brother and his family.  I wish I could have stayed a few extra days.  There never seems to be enough time with my dad.  He’s the quiet sort.  He has a lifetime of amazing stories that he never thinks to tell anyone, until he suddenly will mention something off hand and I have to say “wait…what?”  I’m fascinated by all the things he knows and has done, but I know he’ll never tell me it all.  Not because he doesn’t want to, he just doesn’t think to.  I don’t think he realizes how interesting he is.

The drive home with the kids was actually one of the best long road trips in a while.  The three of us laughed and laughed, told stories, listened to comedy shows on netflix, and it was a nice no-pressure time.  I didn’t have to be mom, which can sometimes be exhausting.  Momming is hard, man.  I’m a mom first, their friend second.  With the husband working, I have to be the bad guy more than I’d like….having them pick up after themselves, reminding about homework, saying no to stuff.  Sometimes it’s nice to just be another person in the car.  My daughter asked why I call my dad’s house home as well as our house.  “Wherever your parents are is home” was my response.  “When you grow up, and have a family of your own, or a career of your own, wherever Daddy and I are will be your home too.  You’re always welcome there, you’ll always be loved there, and home is where the love is.”  I’m glad I got to tell the kids that.  They both seemed to like that answer, and I saw them both settle into a little smile.

Well, life is short, and ice cream is yummy, so I’m off to treat the kiddos (and myself).  Tomorrow, I’ll try and eat a salad.  Everything in moderation.

The Day to Day

During football season last year, I used to think to myself “it’ll be nice once football ends and things calm down a bit”.  Then the holidays rolled around, and I thought “imagine all the things I can accomplish once the holidays are over with and thinks calm down!”.  The fact is, things never really calm down for me for very long.  Even the mundane, day to day stuff keeps me pretty busy.  Currently I have the little on in gymnastics one night a week, tutoring one day a week, but aside from that, I still find myself wondering when “quiet time” will be available.  Life is just always so BUSY FEELING.   I can’t say it’s a bad thing, but some nights I must say I wish for a little bit of piece and quiet.  In the past few weeks alone, I have had major car issues, unwanted drama, have been on a hunt for another car, have been in the process to change my citizenship, and oh yes, did I mention balance all that with being a wife, mother and working full time?  So here’s how my life on the daily has been going.

For starters, our brakes on our family car started making a grinding noise.  At first it would grind for a minute or two, then stop and not reoccur.  Then one day, my husband drove the car and reported the brakes were grinding full time.  Our usual mechanic was out of town, so I drove it to another shop who works on our cars.  $600 bucks later, we had new brakes, new rotors, replaced bulbs, had had the car smoke tested, and a  cracked part replaced that the mechanic believed was causing the check engine light to come on.  Our car is due for emissions/registration, so I needed the check engine light issue resolved.  3 days later, the light was back on.  A scan of the codes indicated the right catalytic converter and 02 sensor were bad.  $1100 later, the car was fine.  Until the light came back on, this time indicating the OTHER catalytic converter was bad.  I have never seen pity in a mechanic’s face before.  He cleared the codes and told me to wait until the monitors set.  The next day, the monitors had set…no light.  He came and picked up my car and took it for emissions.  It passed!  A week later, husband drives it and the damned light comes back on.  I drive it, the light goes off.  I am chalking it up to the car doesn’t like the husband.

After all the car issues, we decided since the car is almost paid off that it might be time to look for another car.  Y’all…car shopping SUCKS.  Dealers sack you with hidden fees, and if you’re a woman, you can often also get the pleasure of being talked to like you are mentally impaired.  Did you hear the sarcasm there?  Yes?  Good.  Trying to find a car with something that every member of the family wanted was important.  We finally found a car, but dealing with the dealer has been a nightmare.  I had to turn into a difficult asshole and demand everything in writing.  I’m still unsure if the deal will go through, but I will find out in a few days.  Luckily we aren’t in a rush, so if it doesn’t go through, we have time to wait and keep hunting for what we want. Also, apparently if you speak to any dealer about a car, they will call you, daily, forever.

In the midst of all this, I had to travel an hour away for my immigration appointment.  I have been in the US legally as a permanent resident for most of my life.  I got my permanent residency as a child and never switched over due to a few factors. My dad got his US citizenship a few years ago and recommended I get mine.  Frankly, I didn’t have the money to do it.  He offered to pay for it for my birthday, so I decided to move forward with the process early last year.  Needless to say, my time here in the US, the fact I married an American 12 years ago and have 2 children make me a pretty easy case.  People think that becoming a citizen is a quick and easy process.  I can tell you, it’s not cheap, and for most people, it’s not easy nor quick.  Some people wait years.  I am lucky, as mine processed earlier than the government’s website even projected, and my case is really one of the easier ones.  I waited all of last year to get my interview appointment, and as luck would have it, it was scheduled for January 11th….the day after my hysterectomy.  I had to reschedule, which is typically a big no-no, but I couldn’t reschedule my surgery.  I called to reschedule, was told it was sorted, only to get a letter a couple of weeks later saying I couldn’t reschedule over the phone.  I frantically wrote a letter and mailed it off the same day with the form.  Then I berated myself for being a dummy and not sending it certified. I finally got a new date and time, and off I went.  If I’m REALLY honest, part of the reason I waited so long to apply is because I was afraid I would fail the civics test portion of the process.  They have 100 questions and ask you 10.  You have to get 6 right to pass.  I got the first 6 right, so the interviewer wasn’t going to ask me any more.  I said “can you ask me the other 4? I need to prove to my husband I studied and am not a dummy!”.  We had a good laugh.  I got all 10 right! This week I go for my oath ceremony, and then I am officially a US citizen.  It’s exciting. Apparently I can apply for a passport right at the oath ceremony, and I believe I can also register to vote as well.  I never had much desire to vote throughout my life, but now I can’t wait!

In the midst of all the happenings, I also had 2 birthdays in our house and drama as well.  Thankfully the drama has gone away, and it’s peaceful.  I had originally said I would move my blog, and I still might, but I’d prefer not to.  I see no reason to stop what I enjoy (writing) because of someone being a dildo.

My birthday was rough this year.  Two kids with the flu, everyone feeling a bit down, expensive car repairs, etc.  I ended up having to make some really tough decisions that day.  My husband sent me off for a pedicure and some down time, which was much appreciated and extremely needed.  Even though the day was rough, I entered 44 feeling pretty grown up, hopeful, and happy that so far I hadn’t caught the flu. I consider it a win.  Within two days of my birthday I woke up feeling light and happy.  It was like a weight had been lifted.  It was fabulous.

My Husband got us tickets to see the Dropkick Murphys, a favorite band.  He ended up staying home with the poor kiddos who were still sick, but sent me and a friend.  We had general admission, and spent the show 2nd row center, partying our asses off.  We dodged moshers and crowd servers, and even got up on stage for the last song.  I can’t explain just how awesome it is being on stage in a huge arena with a fantastic band, but it’s exhilarating!  It was exactly what I needed, and I got home feeling incredibly happy.

My son’s birthday was a couple of days ago.  I can’t believe he is 12.  He was born during the best and worst time of my life.  In the span of a few months, I married my soulmate and love of my life, had my son, lost my mother to cancer, found out my dad had cancer, moved house, went back to work, and had a bunch of other life changes.  My son was a primary factor in me getting through the tough times.  I can’t say I would have managed nearly as well had he not been born.  He gave me focus, a reason to get up each day and he taught me how to woman up and handle myself better than I ever had before.  Now he’s almost as tall as me, smarter than me, and an all round awesome kid, if I do say so myself.  I’m so lucky to be his mom.  For his birthday, he wanted some quiet time to play video games, then wanted lunch, to play mini golf (outside in the cold no less) and then to play laser tag.  Luckily our local sport place has both mini gold and laser tag, so off we went.  I had such a great time I am looking forward to going back again.  I left laser tag sweaty, red faced, and a little winded, but happy as could be.  My son was thrilled his parents jumped in and played, and a good time was had by all.  We got home and his neighbor friend came over to play video games with him.  A good time was had by all.  The next day the extended family took him out for dinner and cake.  He was thrilled.

It’s been a busy year so far. I started it by getting a major body part removed, and have been trucking along since.  People ask me all the time about the hysterectomy.  It’s honestly the best thing I have done in a while.  While I had a few tiny issues, the end result is that I feel fantastic. I went back to work 2 weeks later (working from home) full time, and haven’t looked back.

While I was in the citizenship appointment, the interviewer asked me a series of questions about whether I had been a part of a terror organization, or a drug cartel, among other crazy scenarios.  I burst out laughing and said “I’m a football/gymnastic mom of two, married to a man with an opposite schedule than mine, and I work full time. I wouldn’t even have time nor energy for that stuff!”. My life on the daily is not super exciting.  It’s not really all that interesting.  Last night I spent 3 hours trying to unclog a toilet, for instance.  Not exactly exciting stuff.  Still, my little life keeps me super busy, and happy.  Sometimes it’s about perspective.  When times get bad, there are always silver linings.  When people are jerks, there are always amazing people to be there for you.  When life gets too busy, a snowstorm will slow you down.  When luck isn’t on your side, know that better times are around the bend.  I’m looking forward to new experiences and changes!