Monday, August 14, 2017

You might have noticed that I don’t really blog anymore. It’s mostly due to the lack of toddler escapades and constant going. X-Man has a full schedule of things that are strengthening him and really helping him. Unfortunately, he can’t yet drive himself. Nor can any of the children drive themselves anywhere. So that’s why I spent the weekend out of town at another soccer tournament. I believe it was called the “Out of Our League” games. I can home in time to be able to drive Baba to 8am conditioning for her future high school team. So while I was sitting in the car, not exercising like I was supposed to be, trying to figure out how to get three children to four places at the same time, I got an email.

I have done this to myself. I know. 
It wasn’t the email I was hoping for. I’ve gone and created at “storyline” for myself I suppose. I have five children enrolled in fall soccer. I have all the regrets. There was that fleeting moment where it seemed like a good idea….I LOVE fall soccer. The weather hovers around 70 degrees, but there’s a light breeze with just a touch of crispness in it. And who doesn’t want to watch four year olds chase a ball around? It’s fun and cute….until the older kids have games an hour away. And practices.  Practices are the true challenges because somehow everyone seems to practice at the exact same time in very different locations. I have almost everything planned out….but I’m stuck waiting for an email from X-Man’s team letting me know how big a monkey wrench they’re gonna throw into this mess. 

So now I hover on edge, figuring my life is about to become vastly more complicated but not knowing how. It’s frustrating.

But that was NOT the email I received. At all. Instead it was a request from a radio station to do an interview about an article I wrote. At 4:30am my time tomorrow morning. And I can’t remember this article, which may or may not be an issue. But I’m assuming if they want to talk to me about “The Vocation of Motherhood” I should remember what I said. Then again, maybe they too misread the title and saw it as “The Vacation of Motherhood” which I did at first and then cried.

I’m also guessing they are unaware of the fact that my blog title is “Moments in Mediocre Motherhood.”  I mean, I wouldn’t really take advice from me. But that’s worthwhile advice I suppose.

So I still don’t have a clue what next week’s schedule is, but I have plans for 4am tomorrow. Provided I can find whatever it is that inspired them to contact me. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Well, it appears that the thing de jour is to rant about something current. Bonus points seem to be awarded if it pertains to things feminine. Well, I've never been one to turn down the opportunity to rant so, here's something that's been eating at me for a while.
Motherhood is hard. This really is unnecessary to say. Heck, it's the reason why this blog exists. So yes, we do seem to understand that motherhood is hard. 

And nowhere is this better understood than in online groups of women, well mothers anyway. There's plenty of commiseration, venting and reassurance seeki

ng. Post after post begins "tell me if I'm a bad mom if I......" which of course, being a civilized (mostly) society, results in the mother be reassured that no she's not a bad mom if she feeds her kids cereal for dinner three times in one week. 

I admit I've been comforted by knowing that mothers I respect have hit up the drive thru on the way home. That they've allowed their kids to wear shoes with no socks occasionally. I'm reassured knowing that all moms struggle. Because, I hope, it means I'm not doing to so very badly.

But there's a danger in wanting to constantly be reassured that we're not "bad moms." Maybe, sometimes, out consciences are pricking us for all the right reasons. If we have to seek out comfort, repeatedly, to be reassured that we are indeed doing it right.....maybe we aren't.

I don't know what it is that makes a good mom. Because I know so many of them. And they are all so different. But there are similarities that unite them all. Giving. Extreme giving. Not slash your wrists and bleed all over the floor or the cross or whatever, but genuine giving spurred on by love. Giving your all. And that looks different family to family. But it's there, always. Parents, not just mom but dad too, giving it all to their family. And not even realizing it.

When we love, when we invest fully, we don't realize how much we've given. We just give. So the night of cereal dinners in front of the tv doesn't matter. If that's all we have to give. We give it and we keep on. But if we can give more, we ought to. Because we've brought these little people into our lives. They didn't ask for our drama and our insecurities. They ask for unconditional, constant love. They ask that we love them with our love languages, which is why our families look different.

I know that I am not a "good mom" because I have my son enrolled in speech therapy. I know I'm not a "good mom" because I drive my kids to sports practices. I know I'm not a good mom because I've read my son's IEP. I know I'm not a good mom because I read to my kids.

I'm just a mom.

There are responsibilities we take on when we embrace motherhood. There are obligations we assume. That we raise our children in a balanced, secure and consistent environment.

So sometimes that means we wear yoga pants all week and our kids are three weeks behind in their haircuts. It means that I don't keep up the blog that I loved doing. Because I've given everything I could to my little army of crazy people who are destroying my home as I type.

It's not about what we do, it's about the love with which we do it.

Friday, December 23, 2016

"Mom. I want Santa to bring me a baby sister for Christmas."


"But X-Man, you already have a baby sister."

"YEAH. ME!" Cinco is not amused.

"No, She's not cute. I want a baby sister. Babies are so cute."

"NO!" Cinco feels strongly on the issue. "I AM CUTE! DADDY SAYS!"

"Cinco is not a baby she's a girl. Maybe that bird can bring me a baby sister." Yeah keeping trying kid.

"X-Man, Cinco isn't a baby anymore, you're right. But she will always be your little sister, your baby sister. You don't need another one."

"I want a baby sister!"

"NO! THERE ARE LOTS OF KIDS IN THIS FAMILY AND I AM THE LAST!" Cinco is now kicking her legs rather hysterically. Baby and Baba are both doubled over in their seats in the car. Somehow Cinco's reaction is both ridiculous and totally predictable.

"No. I want a cute baby sister, who is so tiny and cute. And I can hold her." Ah, we're on to something. X-Man's visiting baby cousin is now officially toddling about, and completely uninterested in being held by X-Man.

Meanwhile, Cinco is bordering on hysterical rage. "NO! I AM THE BABY! Daddy wants it that way!" That's probably news to the father figure who was mentioned he would mind another baby or two. Maybe he and X-Man can work something out with Santa. I'm ok not being involved in this go around.



"NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!" Cinco is tantruming as completely as her booster seat will allow.

"YES!" At this point it's clear, X-Man is as interested in poking the beast as he is in actually getting the super cute baby sister.

There's a fine line to walk here. One that makes clear to X-Man that Santa is not going to be bringing him a baby sister, with or without the assistance of some weird Rudolph/stork hybrid. And also one that makes it clear to Cinco it's high time she gets a grip.

"Well guys, babies are very special....."

"Yeah like me!"

"Cinco, please don't interrupt Mommy when I'm talking. Babies are special, and they come to families when God wants them to. And that's why your baby sister Cinco is so special, and that's why you are so special. You came to us when it was the right time for you guys. When you were the right thing for our family. Ok?"


"Yes X-Man?"

"I want Santa to bring me a ukulele for Christmas."

I'm not sure that's an improvement.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Celebrate with me! Only ten more days until Cinco and X-Man stop asking me every morning "Is it Christmas yet? Can we open presents? Why not? We want to open presents!!!" Insert hysterical tears here.

From what I can tell, no one is overly impressed with 2016 and everyone is planning on upgrading to a new model year very soon. I certainly fall within this category. It's been a crazy time, there have been moments here and there that I think "oh I should blog this before I forget." But I've become so efficient in my old age, that I forget things without even blogging them.

Not that there haven't been highlights. Like within X-Man's first month of school, first month of any of our children's experience in a school, we'd been to the principal's office twice. Cinco has decided that we aren't all hopping to quite as promptly as she belives we should. I believe her exact words "Everyone needs to do what I want always." Threeanger indeed.

Around Halloween, it was the traditional Kindergarten field trip to a local pumpkin patch. For X-Man's sake, I accompanied him, he's an intense guy and without someone with five years of experience with him, it can be overwhelming for all the parties. We clambered on the bus and took our seats. I attempted a couple of selfies with my boy, remembered that selfies are dumb and settled back. X-Man looked across the aisle and noticed a row full of girls and yelled "hi duys!!!" (he is still working on making his hard g sounds). He caught himself and tried again "Hello ladies!" He threw in three blown kisses for good measure.

It did not escape my notice that he deliberately choose words that he could say clearly, or that he was puting the moves several young ladies at once. I admit that my first thought was "dear lord he will be written up for sexual harrassment three weeks into his time at this school." Truly that seemed par for the course. Two of the girls ignored him and one kept giggling and say "hi" back. I kept a lid on the sauve moves much to her disappointment.

That's my X-Man. Sweet, stubborn, charming and clever. He also has been dealing with several challenges, each of which makes life in today's busy world that much more overwhelming. Recognizing these challenges and determining the best path for him has been a time consuming process. It has also drained me emotionally. Completely. I can't fathom what he goes through daily, physically, mentally and emotionally.

He has been met with scorn and judgment, by those in positions of authority who should have been caring for him. They were quickly to label, but didn't realize what looks like tantrums in toddlers and non verbal children is often actually panic attacks. He is bright boy. Smart enough to know that he is not understood, that he's not fitting into the world as his peers are and people sometimes don't like him.

We started out the academic year in a private preschool. I had discussed with them his challenges and they claimed to be welcoming. Interestingly enough, I never felt comfortable leaving him there. For each of the five days that I did. Day six there was a misunderstanding with his "teacher." X-Man wanted to do something, she wanted him to do something else. I had explained that X-Man can get upset and almost hysterical when he thinks he's not being understood. It takes a couple minutes, but simply getting at his eye level and calmly explain to him that while you understand that he wants to do this, we will be doing that instead. What's essential is simply clarifying to him that you know what he is trying to say and that you are not denying it or ignoring it because you don't understand him, but rather because it's not an option at this time.

X-Man spent four years barely being understood verbally. He had at least two full years of knowing what he wanted to communicate and not being understood. It truly is a trigger for him if he thinks he's not being communicated with. And he panics, which with a non verbal child, often looks like a temper tantrum.

His "teacher" said she was fine with his needs. But it was clear to me that she disliked him from day one. And he told me his teacher didn't like him. Now X-Man is a hand full and a challenge. But he is a sweet loving kid who just wants to do well. He just struggles with processing what well is, and filtering it out of all the other sensory stimuli that overwhelms his brain. I am fine with structure and discipline when it comes to X-Man, he craves it. But I expect compassion as well. He's walking a much steeper mountain than most of us will ever experience. And I expect the adults I pay to assist him in learning to actually attempt to assist him, and not tell me "I think he has problems."  Because honey, we all do.

So that's how X-Man ended up in a specialized kindergarten classroom at our local public
school. It was bumpy as he tested the limits and figured out how serious they all were. But, as I told the father figure, these were people legally required to help him. But they are also very invested in helping him. And help him they have. He bounces out of his classroom every day bellowing "I did a gleat job at school today!" (he can't say his g or r yet)

Getting X-Man all the help he deserves, fighting our insurance to cover it, doing all the exercises at home he's suppose to, takes up most of my time. But when you see a little guy so motivated to improve and trying so hard, it's worth every minute. But those are minutes I don't have for blogging anymore. Hence the radio silence.

And that's fine with me. Because while this takes up so much of my time, it's really not my story. And I feel that it is certainly not my story to tell. X-Man deserves his privacy. I like to encourage others to learn from my mistakes, to seek out the help that is available and to advocate fiercely for their kids. But the details, those are X-Man's. He deserves to be seen for who he is. His challenges are not who he is. The warrior boy who chooses to smile, chooses to joke, chooses to try, deserves to tell his own story. In his own time. In his own words.

Meanwhile, X-Man yelling at me for not driving him to Santa's house....that's a story I'll share. Soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

X-Man was disinvited from preschool. Well, I don't know if that's really what happened, but an active little boy who already knew his letters and numbers and therefore got bored quickly, wasn't the right fit for a small room in a small preschool. So, he's off to kindergarten where there are four adults to the seven kids. Which is a better ratio than he would get at ok.

It's been an experience. I was worried about the seven hour school day. It seemed.....excessive. And in X-Man's mind it most certainly was. His teacher is sympathetic. Especially when he melt down onto the floor wailing "I'm so sleepy." So, we're doing the whole half day thing.

Half days are excellent because they give X-Man the opportunity to eat his heart out. Really. His teacher has started to swipe an extra breakfast for him because he is more than happy to join the class and eat breakfast. Again. Because I've made sure to feed him before school. But he goes ahead and eats second breakfast. But only after selecting his hot lunch option. It's not that I'm too lazy to pack a cold lunch for him. It's just that his cold lunch has become his elevensies. And post recess snack. In the four hours that X-Man is not at school, he's probably packing on a pound an hour. Although his teacher says that he is burning it off at a rapid rate. Which sounds quite plausible.

Part of the reason for the school's flexibility is the fact that I drop X-Man off and pick him up every day. A necessary part of this equation would be car keys. And this morning I most certainly could not find them. I had them last night. And they were no where to be found. I searched everywhere. I ripped apart the couch, searched the fridge, where I had put the groceries after coming home last night. I called the father figure, convinced he had taken them inadvertently. Because, he's done that before. Under X-Man's bed...nope. In the pockets of coats I haven't worn in the months....nope. In the dryer.....nope. I sent Baby, Baba and Mac out to search the car. Individually. Baby returned saying that X-Man said that the keys were in the rocket that was on the moon. Which was certainly helpful.

I was holding the phone, getting ready to call the school. It was hard to come up with a delicate way of saying "I lost my car keys....they were right HERE!!!!" But I was working on something as X-Man and Cinco stumbled into the house and announced "here they are!!!" The keys. They were in X-Man's pocket because he wanted to fly to the moon. He had actually explained all of this to Baby when in the car....and she listened as well as kids do.

We were twenty minutes late.

So even though I haven't been writing. Rest easy......nothing's actually changed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

It may have not escape the astute reader's notice that I have not been writing much recently. This is due to many factors. First of all, this blog exists mostly to detail my children's exploits. They have been reigning in the crazy in recent months, dare I say, almost well behaved. Or, which is as plausible, they have determined it is better to be crazy without an audience. Furthermore, it is the summer. I always envision remarkable days of achievement and accomplishment, adventures and memories made. Rather, the summer becomes a long session soccer camps and swimming lessons and soccer tournaments. And the sinking feeling you were supposed to get a lot more done than you have.

X-Man and Cinco have spent the summer in a soccer camp. It was glorious. Mostly because, for the first time ever, X-Man was not only age appropriate behavior-wise, but he was the best. He was the most physically capable, the fastest and the most confident. All of which was to be expected since he was the oldest in the class. However, Cinco was nipping on his heals. She has definitely made the most of her years, quite literally, of hanging out on the soccer sidelines. She's looking like she should have a bright future on the field. She also paid tribute to her Italian heritage by flopping quite a bit.

I didn't think anything of it at first. Cinco fell down, but she's my kid. She's Baby's sister. Falling comes quite naturally. Baby scored a winning goal in a tournament years ago, after running out of her shoe. The ref looked perplexed and as if he thought he should probably blow his whistle, but Baby was on a mission. She scored, much to the chagrin of the opposing team's parents who were certain there was a trick play at work. Rather, it was just poor parenting as Baby explained "My MOM tied my shoes." She hopped back to the ref and held her foot up Cinderella style and then asked him to tie her other one as well. Just in case.

But two weeks into soccer camp, I noticed that Cinco had a strategy to flopping. It happened only if X-Man beat her to something AND (this is an essential element) her coach was near by. Her coach was a young enthusiastic young man who was very concerned each time she hit the ground. He'd help her up  and she'd hold his hand for the next few exercises. If he was paying attention to other students, Cinco would suddenly find herself on the ground. And if he didn't notice, she'd move closer and collapse again. Other girls in the class pick up on this trick as well, collapsing to the group if his hands were holding other students hands.

Eventually, I got annoyed with the whole thing and yelled "You're embarrassing yourself! Get up! X-Man's beating you!" This certainly had the desired effect for Cinco, she popped right up and chased down her brother. Then she stole his ball but at least she did it on both feet. Of course my outburst drew some attention from the other parents. They did not approve of my style. Or my dismissiveness towards any potential injury. But I didn't care. I'm a red blooded American who doesn't fall down and most certainly doesn't raise girls to need boys to pick them up thank you very much.

I was pleased that Mac, Baba and Baby all insisted on coming to watch the soccer camps. It was sweet that after years of being watched, they were all excited to watch X-Man and Cinco. And they did indeed put on a show.

During the course of typing this, I've had to institute the new, and extra cruel rule, of no tea parties on the stairs. Which apparently is the only plausible location for any festivities in the house. I also
nixed the whole cereal and milk at the tea party idea as well. Although honestly, it had moved passed the idea stage and was actually being smuggled to the stairs when I intercepted them. See what I mean about keeping the antics on the down low?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

X-Man and I share a birthday. Of course we do. Because that’s what X-Man does, chooses a challenging way of announcing his existence. For the first four years, my little party crasher didn’t bother me. But this year, around 10pm the night before, I found myself annoyed by…..just everything. Mostly trying to assemble Lego mini machines for a cake that I still needed to bake. 
Followed the next morning with children who chose to air their grievances very loudly. And, the hardest part of all, I had to deal with a super excited little boy who was turning five. So clearly, the solution was to spend the day at a river. Because my children and open water… could that go wrong?

And it didn’t….really. It was relaxing and peaceful. It actually helped settled X-Man down. And he had a fantastic day. It cumulated with him hugging me and yelling “I LUFF MY BIRFDAY!!!!” after opening all his gifts.

The father figure took the children shopping for my birthday gifts. It was fun because they each picked things out for me that I loved and I see them in. Apparently as they unloaded their wares before the checker, she asked “Is your mom having a birthday?” So clearly they did quite well.
X-Man too got fun toys. One of his gifts was Candy Land; it was a mild disappointment when he discovered it wasn’t actually a box full of candy. But he recovered. He and Cinco have been playing well with each other.  But I did cringe when I heard X-Man bellow “Give me my color people!!!!”  Referring of course to the tradition Candy Land playing pieces.

It’s a new year so I decided to start working out with the kids. Baby and Baba are serious athletes and need to incorporate some speed and agility training into their routines. So I decided to participate in their new drills. So there were Mac, Baba, Baby and me running up a hill, forward and backwards. Duck walking up a hill, lips not required, bear crawling and frog jumping. Well, I didn’t frog jump. I’ve had five kids. It was not going to happen.

X-Man rolled down the hill repeatedly. Cinco simply sat at the top and every time I jogged up would “Can I watch My Little Pony on your phone?” Mac kept talking, until I pointed out that if you can talk you aren’t working hard enough,

Meanwhile, my legs were shaking. Like fall down shaking. I get that I haven’t been the best about 
working out this summer, although I walk three to four miles during soccer practices, but this seemed absurd. Also, impossible to hide from Baba and Baby, who were sweating but not quivering. I felt just a wee bit judged. Also, I am pretty sure Baba was contemplating how she would drag me to the car, while keeping X-Man and Cinco in check.  She’s a quiet thing but I think she’s been around long enough to know that she should have an emergency plan in place…..always.

I didn’t actually die. But my ego is just a wee bit bruised. I kinda thought I could hang with….MAC at least. Although the boy is on a swim team now. Apparently my fitness level is equal to X-Man. So I too will join in just rolling down the hill. This will probably come as a great relief to Baba.