Thursday, February 4, 2016

I got to watch a fight while dropping X-Man off for school. I briefly considered getting involved, but if two grown men want to act a fool, who am I to get in the way. Even if their cars are blocking the parking lot exit. I’ll just let them know that yes, they are the awesomest men to ever man. It’s a dead tie and you morons left your car doors open in the pouring rain.

Yesterday we found ourselves without hot water. Typically we find ourselves in hot water, so this was definitely a change of pace. After dinner, it was clear this wasn’t an issue of running the washer and dishwasher at the same time. So, kitchen cleaning was a challenge and bath time became a Geneva Convention violation. And it occurred to me that I could take this opportunity to be a good mom. I encouraged the big kids to tidy up as best they could, I told them we could turn something on for the littles and play a board game. I’m pretty sure I read that on page 57 of the Good Mom’s Handbook. Maybe not so much littles watching Netflix, but I didn’t need their assistance while trying to investigate the water heater, and determine that it hadn’t actually exploded. And then try to relay this information to the Father Figure, who of course, was out of town.

So we all got settled to play a board game.

We picked colors, set everything up and began.

The first problem was that the kids kept laughing. You can’t have fun if you are trying to discourage the littles from crashing the party. I mean, they’ve been living with these monsters for how many years now?

But, as I suggested it, it was completely ignored by my children. So, soon enough Cinco emerged. She was already angry because X-Man took all her friends. And by all her friends she meant “Lego Friends.” I might have to consider therapy for her even earlier than originally anticipated. X-Man wanted to watch the Halloween episode of Littlest Pet Shop, and the whole alternating option lost all appeal to Cinco as soon as it was X-Man’s turn to select.

So, already outraged, Cinco joined us. She told on X-Man, got no sympathy, and decided “I play too.” Her first move was to gather all the pieces off the board and announce “Dese MINE.” I forgot to read page 59 of the Good Mother’s Handbook, which says Do Not Place Board Games on Coffee tables. My bad.

We wrestled the pieces back from Cinco, who was temporarily mollified when she was handed a die. Trying to work with the completely rational two year old, I offered to let her role for me.  She threw the die under the couch, but at least it was a start. Until I tried to move.

There’s something you should know about me. I am always the red piece. There’s no reason to not be red. It is THE color.

So I moved my red piece. And Cinco collapsed crying. “NO! You dis one!” and thrust the green one towards me. That prompted outrage from Baba “No I’m green! Mom’s red.” Cinco yelled back “No you lelow.” This left Mac without a piece. Somehow as we all tried to explain to Cinco that we indeed had selected our own colors, she ended up holding them all again. She handed the appropriate colors out to each person. And Cinco was the only satisfied person in the group. I told them to move their pieces on the sly as we tried to distract Cinco, but she was not one to be fooled. So every roll was trauma filled.

Fortunately X-Man emerged to announce his episode was finished. And both ran back in a desperate attempt to select the upcoming episode. Cinco was due a turn and did not select a Little Einsteins episode with a train and so X-Man was crushed. And the only balm for his soul was participating in our game with us.

Again, I tried to welcome him to my team. X-Man, not being a control freak of a toddler, was comfortable letting everyone chose their own color. However, he felt strongly about holding the cards and reading them. Something I had been doing previously, as I actually can both read and speak. X-Man is certainly making progress in the speaking department yelling loudly “NO I DO IT!” And again I tried to mollify him with the die.

X-Man is older and wiser. So he knew how to roll the die. He carefully put it down on Mac’s turn. He made sure it was a six. Baby objected strongly and demanded a reroll. Mac obliged and rolled a four. X-Man then objected and carefully adjusted it to the six he had “rolled.” Mac happily acquiesced to 
X-Man’s demands. Baby did not object when X-Man “rolled” her a six as well.

He had a system. He cupped the die in both his hands and manipulated it with his thumb until he had the desired result. And the desired result, when it was my turn, was a one.
It’s shenanigans like this which have convinced me, along with his teacher and speech therapist, that cognitive delays are not a concern with X-Man.

X-Man was clearly Team Progeny. And his siblings were perfectly content with the set up. That is, until Cinco’s episode was completed and she reemerged. And panic commenced. First of all, X-Man had her die. Not cool. And people were moving the wrong colors!!!! Mac was trying to move his piece six paces and Cinco was trying to force a green piece into his hand. X-Man was horrified, because if he knew anything, he knew that red was supposed to be in the back. And everything was broken everywhere.

So actually, it was the quintessential family game night. There was cheating, crying and fighting. And somehow I came out the bad guy. Of course the father figure came home and discovered the reset switch on the water heater—who knew—and ended up the hero of the evening.

Of course.  

Monday, February 1, 2016

tasteful, in numerous ways
Scary Mommy is an interesting site. I think it intends to be funny and witty and probably succeeds occasionally. I did not find the article Your Facebook Life Doesn’t Fool Me to fall within either of those categories. I don’t understand the author’s anger at what her “friends” share, or don’t share, on social media.  It might seem odd, since I make a point to share an unvarnished life on my limited social media profile.  But, that’s because, in all reality, that unvarnished life is my domestic bliss.

We don’t have a right to anyone else’s life. We don’t have a right to their struggles. And we shouldn’t demand that our friends share anything more than they’re willing to. I figure that’s what makes it so much fun when people do share the topsy turvy antics of their kids.

There seems to be a loss of privacy in the world today. It used to be good form that you didn’t share the ugly side of life, the fights, the messiness, the chaos. Now, apparently, it’s letting down the sisterhood. Nothing stands out in a sea of dirty dishes, there’s nothing unique about an overwhelming amount laundry. We all have the consequences of life in our homes. And who wants to see that nonsense during their escapes from reality. The big wide World Wide Web is not the place to air your grievances with your spouse, your in-laws, and your siblings. It is the place to chuckle about the chaos cause by a tiny army you not only created but invited to live with you.

at a luncheon no less
The nitty gritty is just that. No one wants to see it. We live it every day.  People share that which makes them happy. For most people those are the happy things. The beautiful moments, the special times that make them tingly with glee. And they want to share with their circle of friends. And that desire is human, relatable and understandable.

Who doesn’t want to put their best foot forward? Isn’t that why we brush our teeth and our hair before venturing into public? We wash our kids’ faces before school and have “school” clothes… know, the unstained shirts and jeans without holes in the knees. Why wouldn’t it be the same for social media?

It does not make one a liar.

at least he knew to hide in shame
Yes X-Man is screaming at me right now because he wants to take a shower. He’s soaking wet, wrapped only in a towel, freezing, because he used up the hot water during the last shower he took. The only that ended ninety seconds ago.  And yes, it’s a struggle to work with an oversized four year old, who really ought to be playing linebacker for a pee wee football league somewhere. And yes, I’ve laid awake worrying that he won’t ever talk, won’t ever understand….won’t ever many things. 
this is why I don't bake.

But what mom hasn’t?

So we share the beautifully perfect photos, the crafts and cookies, the good times. To show that it’s possible to crawl out of the haze, it just for the moment. And for those of us who don’t do cookies or crafts…..we share well…..other things.

My life is good. It is well in my soul.

the start of my day

It doesn’t mean the father figure always picks up his dirty socks. Unless by always it is meant never. It doesn’t mean my children obey me immediately. Or ever. They fight. They ignore the rules. They don’t pick after themselves. They turn their noses up at my cooking. And the father figure is irritating. Especially when he doesn’t do what I want.

the day got worse
I enjoy sharing my kids’ exploits, because in general they make me laugh. One of my favorite social media experiences was sharing the destructive streak my kids were on one summer day. I laughed, maybe cried a bit, but laughed more and, more importantly made others laugh. But, I keep them in context. And I don’t share everything.

The thing is I share the things I want to share. I share the things that make me laugh. It’s a constructed image, at least in part, and that’s ok. They’re my family. They’re my kids. They’re my monkeys and dang it if it’s not my circus. But it’s mine to share.

And yours to enjoy. 
this was a good shot.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This is a Princess potty seat. It is the bane of my existence.

First of all Cinco likes to carry it around and make sure that everyone acknowledges the princesses who adorn it. She also prefers that you recognize them and greet them before assisting her up onto the seat. Of course, this happens while she is dancing out her need to use the toilet. So it’s a rushed procedure, but one that she demands be acted out each and every time. Yes, it does require her pointing to each princess. And also the horse.

It’s not that she needs the seat. She is perfectly capable of using the toilet anywhere else without it. 
Cinco’s preference for it has only grown the longer she’s been potty trained.  The bitter part of it is that she can take herself to the bathroom by herself…..if she doesn’t use the seat. With the seat, it’s a bit too tall for her to climb up. I think that’s part of her master plan. Also, keeping X-Man from using it. It’s not that her older brother has any interest in anything that pink or that princessy. It’s just Cinco is so convinced of its awesomeness that she’s concerned someone might try to illicitly use it. So, she tends to charge the bathroom every time X-Man is heading in. This results in mass chaos.

X-Man tends to wait three seconds longer than he should to make a break to the bathroom. And his break for the bathroom involves him running while pulling his pants down.  Now, throw into the mix a desperate two year old, hastily trying to save her precious princesses from whatever indignities she believes X-Man will inflict on them. Two bodies hurtling towards one narrow door yields just the results you might expect. Crashing, weeping and yes…..spraying urine. It’s yet to occur to Cinco that X-Man doesn’t sit down every time he uses the restroom. So the hysteria could certainly be reduced, but then where would be the fun in that? Not to mention, X-Man no longer clutches his rear end while racing to the bathroom when needing to sit and use the potty, so I guess a girl can’t be too careful with her guesses.  

And can we take a minute here and talk about the absurdity of the message “Glamour begins with Confidence.” What does that even mean? And why is it plastered across something that the user cannot read? Even if super genius toddler was using it, super genius is still SITTING on it. How about, “being the only high schooler whose mother has to change her diapers will be super lame.” I’m not sure how this seat is supposed to build confidence, Cinco is incapable of using the potty with the seat, too tall, and unwilling to use it without, mostly because it is necessary to stand on it in order to reach the medicine cabinet thus pilfering through all sorts of interesting stuff. Good times.

Cinco has taken to carrying the seat around with her to make sure X-Man doesn’t even look at it. X-Man has taken to locking the door while he uses the bathroom. Neither of these are desirable outcomes. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

I’m wrestling with a behemoth of my own making. I’m trying to find space in my weekly schedule for two voice lessons. Both Baby and Baba want to develop their musical repertoire, which has been poorly served by me so far. It’s needed for sure, but I am stretched pretty thin. As X-Man’s schooling continues, and adding extra speech therapy on, the few remaining hours of the day not filled with work obligations for me, or schooling for the kids, are pretty much packed. Shockingly, the girls’ voice lessons instructor does not have a wide open schedule allowing us to parachute in whenever we see fit. Too many balls in the air, not enough hours to catch them.

This is chaos of my own creation. I try not to complain too much, I did this to myself. A helpful father, not the father figure, pointed said “this is all your fault, you had all the kids.” Well yeah, true enough. And spoken like a man.   Four kids in activities might just be the straw the breaks me. Well, more like a four by four.  While trying to arrange carpools, I get sympathetic comments from moms along with the comment “You’re such a good mom. Nicer than me.” I smile and desperately hope they are right. I do so want to be a good mom.

I’m fairly certain that the complexity of my schedule is not an accurate measure of my fittingness as a parent. I hope it’s not a strike against me. I figure it simply indicates when it comes to my children; my primary love language is acts of service. 

There’s an overarching theme to parenting these days. Maybe it’s due to social media, maybe it’s Pinterest. But mostly likely it’s just the human condition. We seem to assume that the more difficult something is, the nobler it is. The harder something is then the more superior it is. And if we make things harder for ourselves then we are better for it. This mindset seems particularly prevalent when it comes to modern motherhood.

Look at the modern trends and fads in online mothering. Cloth diapering. Baby wearing. Extended nursing. Co-sleeping. Unmedicated childbirth. Homemade baby food. Homeschooling. All of these are wonderful things. Not one of them makes one a good mother. The whole kit and caboodle won’t guarantee anything. Nor will the failure to practice one or all of these condemn your children to a subpar childhood.

Motherhood isn’t supposed to be martyrdom. Motherhood of itself is sacrificial. There’s no need to make it more challenging. Your children will do that enough for you.  Whatever works for your family, that’s enough. But weighing yourself down under a yoke that is overburdened with unrealistic expectations from an online presence won’t bring your children anything better. Suffering shouldn’t be the measure by which we judge something.

The measure of anything, but most especially motherhood, should be the love by which it if done.  When we think about what we owe our children, it’s not artisan steamed vegetables consumed while wearing hemp diapers. We owe them the peace and security that comes from a loving home, a stable home. And that peace, that love, that’s going to look different in every family. It’s going to look different child to child. It might take the form of a baby wearing mother who shares her bed with her babies. It might take the form of a mom who utilizes daycare disposable diapers. Maybe even looks like a mom who spends every night running to soccer practices.

It’s not about what we do. It’s about why we do it. The varying love languages and personalities make sweeping statements and general conclusions impossible about love. At least as it is manifested to the outside eye.  We all want the best for our children. We all want to give them the world. But we don’t all have the same abilities and circumstances, the same personalities. And so we can’t give the same. But that’s not a failing. That’s not being a lesser parent. And more importantly, that’s not denying your children anything. Motherhood by its nature is sacrificial. You give of your body, your mind, your heart, your energy. Motherhood is the hard path. Making it harder for yourself doesn’t make it better.

If your kids enjoy playing multiple sports, then have them play several sports. But having your kids in multiple sports doesn’t make you a good mom. If homeschooling works for your family, then embrace it. But don’t homeschool because that’s what good moms do. If exotic home cooked meals aren’t your gift, don’t force yourself into that mold. That path just ends in frustration and exhaustion. Give what you can to your children. Give yourself. Give who you are. Because that’s who they want.
All of this rambling doesn’t actually help me with my current predicament. But it’s my source of comfort as we look forward to another week of crockpot meals. Which is good because Cinco’s asking me when she gets to take swimming lessons. Also, she wants to be on the pink soccer team. Sign me up. Or commit me. It really could go either way.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

If you make jokes about my family size, let me spare you the trouble. See, I’ve heard them all. They’re not funny. And your timing is off.

I’m a little sensitive to the subject at the moment. I went to pick up a prescription the other day. It’s a prescription I’ve been taking for a while……also the reason why I’m not drop dead tired ALL. THE. TIME. Anyway, for the first time ever when picking it up the pharmacist asked me “You’re not pregnant are you?” Uh…..

The answer was no. I knew the answer was no. But I still ended up just a little flustered. Maybe after one surprise pregnancy that only occurred to you to look for after three Long Island Ice Teas, you become just a little twitchy at the thought of getting back on that ride. Then again, maybe it was the prescription I was picking up and the fact that they ask you to contact them if you get pregnant while taking their medicine. Because they want to know what happens. Good times.

My day continued onward. And to the doctor. I was sitting in the waiting room listening to the nurses discuss what they would do with their ten zillion dollar Powerball winnings, I shared my plans. Change my name, buy an island….let my kids keep the house. They thought this might be the plan for success.

Anyway, off the doctor’s room. As the medical assistant was reviewing my medical history he asked, and I kid you not “how long have you been pregnant?” I pulled myself together fast enough to answer “about 45 months.” It was his turn to do a double take. “No, I mean right now.” Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of “Well, about thirty seconds.” “So, you’re not pregnant? “ “Not that I’m aware of. But it seems like it’s something we should ask Siri as this point.” “Huh weird. Let’s check your blood pressure.

It was 160/90.  Last time it was that high…….I was pregnant.

The guy stepped out and popped his head back in. “I took a look at the computer out here and I can’t tell who checked the box saying ‘pregnant’ but it’s been checked since 2003. That’s weird.
Now, I have spent a good part of the years between 2003 and 2016 pregnant. But I am fairly confident I have not been pregnant ALL of those months. And not pregnant in the months since Cinco made her delightful debut into the world. But at this point I was flummoxed. And in came the doctor.

You’re pregnant? Congratulations! But we should talk about your treatment plan…..
Me “I’m pretty sure I’m not pregnant.
Med tech “Oh I figured out how to get it off your chart! Ok, that was weird.”

I still almost swung by Target to pick up a pregnancy test.
And I’m ready to rethink this whole electronic medical records thing…….

Monday, January 11, 2016

I saw the new Star Wars. Back in the 1980s.

I mean I understand the need to remark a classic. It was clearly missing Emo Vader. I mean, they took the most terrifying cinematic villain ever and gave him a pashmina and some eyeliner. And feelings. Lots and lots of feelings. 

J.J. Abrams isn't renowned for his thinking outside the box. So I wasn't surprised to see Voldesith and Skywalker the Grey introduced. But seriously, the whole Emo Vader thing just didn't work for me. I was overwhelmed with the urge to yell "put your man pants on before your caftan of evil!" It's clear what happened. Numero Uno fighter pilot was the first born. He was the jock, good at everything and very popular. Mom and Dad appreciated his skills and the fact he was good at things that interested them. Then came Emo boy. Who was supposed to be born in a galaxy far far away, but his soul is from Portland. Where as super duper pilot boy was good at fighting bad guys, Emo boy was good at poetry. And constructing Artisan light sabers. From hemp, or something.   I'm sure there were plenty of slammed doors and "You guys don't even understand!!!" Dad would get him a leather jacket, so he could be one of the guys, when all he wanted was a scarf!! It make both the rage and the tears much more understandable. 

Which is why I spent most of the movie certain I was behind Emo Vader at the coffee shop the previous evening. And certainly why Mac announced "that guy was too whiny to be Darth Vader." Then again, considering the schnoz on Emo Vader, maybe they were doing an homage to a different terrifying space villain.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This lovely image is a picture of Bath and Body Works top selling scent, A Thousand Wishes.  According to the description the scent includes:

  • Top Notes: Sparkling Champagne, Twinkling Star Fruit, Golden Quince
  • Mid Notes: Crystal Peonies, Purple Freesia
  • Dry Notes: Gilded Amber, Almond Crème, Sugared Sandalwood, Velvet Musk

I don't know what any of that means. Especially what twinkling star fruit smells like. But the combo creates a wonderful, lethal scent. 

Yeah, I forgot to mention that over the holidays, in a brief foray in attempting to look and smell presentable, I almost killed the father figure. 

Twinkling star fruit? Turns out the father figure is allergic to it. Or possibly golden quince. Maybe glided amber. Whatever it was, or the combo of all of them. he nearly died. Or just couldn't breathe and sneezed constantly while in my presence. If we had actually ever updated our life insurance policies like we've talked about he would have had reason to be concerned.  As it was, he just has another reason to detest that store. 

Right before Christmas I got a pedicure complete with snowflakes on my big toes. I'm pleased. X-Man is quite smitten. First because he kept referring to it as a snowball. And tried to throw my feet repeatedly. This was better than what he moved on to. Catching snowflakes on his tongue. A pleasant enough experience during our recent snowfalls. But he got that look in his eye while I was sitting on the couch. With a twinkle that only he gets, and usually means something unpleasant coming my way,  Sure enough, the boy said "Look mom, snowflakes!" and promptly tried to like my toes. 

I did not kick him in the nose. Some days I impress even myself.