Monthly Archives: March 2009

Psychotic

“Hey mom?” the seven year bellowed at me from the TV room,

“What does psychotic mean.” 

Hmm, I thought.  What is that kid watching?

“Well it means someone who’s kind of lost their mind and gone a little crazy.  Like they’re not grounded in reality anymore.”  I hollered back.

“HUH?  he replied quizzically.

“It means someone that maybe doesn’t think right anymore.  Someone who can’t control themselves or say things that make sense anymore.  Do you get it now?”  I said.

“No,” he said, about ready to give up.

“DANNY,” I tensed up, “you know how mommy gets once a month when I tell you I have PMS.”

“Yes” he said.

“THAT’S how someone is when they’re psychotic.”  I said.

“OHHHHHHHHHHH” he sang. 

“Thanks mom!”

“Not a problem,” I replied.

Yet another moment of complete understanding between a mother and son.

Parenting Tip of the Month:  I always tell the boys when I’m having a bad day and need to spend some time by myself.  I want them to know it’s okay to not want to be around people once in a while as long as you’re up front that you’re not going to be very good company.  Now, as they’re older, when they’re not having a good day, they are up front with me and go to their rooms or stay by themselves until they’re ready for company.  With so many people living in one house, knowing when someone isn’t able to be social is a must.

I Never Knew Her Name

Many of you may have already read this but my moratorium for republishing it is over now (yes I actually got paid for this one), so I wanted to put it out there.  I submitted the following in response to a Editor’s Query.  The questions was:

“Tell us about a time a total stranger made a lasting impression.”

My response: which I think every single mother can connect with:

There are some days when everything goes right.  But I’m a mother of four children, and, honestly, those days are not the rule.  When things get crazy and I am about to lose my mind, I remember the words of a stranger after a particularly difficult outing.

At the time, I had a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, an 18-month old and a new-born.  I won’t relate the gory details; let’s just say that at the end of our family hike that morning, my four sweet boys were all in their car seats screaming, and I was standing behind our SUV, throwing strollers and yelling.  Finally, I slammed the door shut and sat on the truck’s rear bumper with my head hanging down, bemoaning my abysmal parenting skills.

Just then, two women appeared and started getting into their car.  I looked up, a bit ashamed, and said,

“Very tough day.”

They smiled back, and, with no condescension, one said,

“Don’t worry; there’ll be other days.”

Her comment didn’t judge my mothering skills or my children or offer advice on what I was doing wrong.  It was a purely kind thing to say, a statement of hope and perspective that reminded me that no matter how tough things can get, there will be times that make it all worthwhile.

Parenting Tip of the Day: 

Now that my boys are older, our separations are a bit easier so the use of the Hershey kiss jar in my previous post isn’t necessary.  Still, after a holiday like Valentine’s Day I stock up on small stuffed animals when they are marked down to a quarter or so.  Before I leave (yes I’ve had a few separations from them) I spray them with my perfume and leave them on the boy’s beds.  I’m told the squeals they let out when they discover their gifts at bed time are truly heartwarming.  Sometimes I even leave one for my hubby.

All’s Fair…

I remember when they were little guys I worried about leaving them for even a minute.  I was sure they’d tumble down the stairs, tumble off the couch, fall from their high chair or choke on their applesauce.  In any one of those scenarios I was SURE they’d kill themselves.

I imagined the days that I would have four relatively functioning human beings in the house that could chew and swallow without monitoring, walk up and down stairs while holding onto the railing, and get up and down from the couch like they were pros. 

They can do all those things at this point in their lives and I realize I don’t worry they will kill themselves, I worry that they will kill EACH OTHER.

Did I KNOW that if placed properly the cushion from the couch made a great sled to slide down the stairs?

“NO.”

Did I KNOW that if two brothers each pick up a leg of a third and start swirling in unison that the exact WRONG thing to do was yell:

“STOP THAT?”

(Because they WILL stop that and boy number three will go flying head first through the air to land squarely on the only rock for 100 yards.)

“NO.”

Did I KNOW that despite various warnings to quit playing so hard, giving the obligatory 1 to 3 countdown and then standard:

“Don’t make me come over there.”

Did I know that those steps would not impact their decision to use a slingshot and a rock as an artillery piece to remove their sworn enemy brother from the swing set?

Again I say:

“No.”

 I was raised with one other sister; a sister.  Now certainly there was some physical interaction that might not have been um, ladylike between my sister and I, but for the most part we really didn’t mess with each other on that very visceral level.

We were sneakier.

We would start fighting and then run and hide as our mom hunted us down with an egg turner. 
THAT was fun.

We would spit secretly in the others milk and then smile like a cat eating a canary as the unsuspecting sister took a big ole gulp of the white stuff.

THAT was fun.

We would figure out what tiny little thing, filled with nuance, would bug the HELL out of the other one but look perfectly innocent to our parents and if we were really lucky would actually get our parents angry at the victim and not the silent attacker.

THAT was a fair fight for my sister and me and

that is what we chicks bring to adolescence, perhaps even adulthood. 

Even today when my husband and I are fussing I’ll do something I KNOW will bug him to death, but not be grounds for divorce.  Trust me with him it isn’t too difficult, since the way the toilet paper rolls over the holder is a point of concern. 

When we were newly married I would often get up first and find something in the room to move just a few inches to the right or left.  I’d watch as he went through his bleary eyed morning routine somehow knowing SOMETHING wasn’t right.  He’d sit in his chair visibly uncomfortable and would finally with a look of relief stand up and fix whatever it was he’d found out of place oblivious to any hand his loving wife may have had in his torment. 
Just those few moments of discomfort were enough for me to feel “even” if in my mind he’d done something I’d seen as unreasonable the night before.    I’d sit there hugging my legs on the couch just about ready to BURST with delight.

Passive aggressive?

Maybe.  What would he prefer, a slingshot and a rock?

He’s just lucky he doesn’t drink milk.

Parenting Tip of the Day:
     Small children find it difficult to measure time when we’re away overnight.  If you are going on a trip where you’ll be away from your children, consider leaving them a treat per night in a jar they can see (perhaps a Hershey’s kiss per night for example).  As they eat their treat, they’ll be able to see how many are left and can understand that when their treats are gone (at the rate of one per day dad), mom will be home.  An alternate idea is to have marbles in an “Away” jar and each night they can move one marble into a “Home” jar.   It’ll give them more of a sense of control and you can answer the “When will you be home mom” with a concrete answer like “When all the kisses are gone from the jar mommy left for you.”

How Come?

Things I don’t understand:

      Why egg pans are round and egg turners are square.

       Why there are signs on entrances that say:

               “Seeing eye dogs allowed.”

       Who is that for?
    
       Why they say “sleep like a baby” when anyone who has ever had one knows what a joke THAT is.
 
       Why people that have plastic bags pulled over their heads on television dramas don’t just pop an air hole at their mouths and then turn around and knee their attacker.
   
       Where the HELL that shoe comes from that I see in the middle of the road.  WHOSE shoe is that and what happened when they got home.  Did they open the door of the car, go to get out and say:
   
                         “OH – WHOA—Man, I lost my shoe!”

I don’t understand:
 
       Why the inside of my washing machine AND the inside of my dishwasher BOTH get dirty.  Don’t they get cleaned every stinking time I run the machine?

       Why my husband thinks that just because he helps more than his dad did that he

                       “Helps out a lot around here.”

        Why a clean diaper is like pulling into a gas station and saying to the attendant:

                            “Fill ‘er up!”
I don’t get why:

        Me being PTO President and spending hundreds of hours at my son’s school didn’t impact my youngest son’s teacher’s decision, ONE FREAKIN’ IOTA,  when it came time to send him to see the assistant principal after only 13 days of the new school year.  Can’t I get a TINY, LITTLE, BREAK HERE? JUST A LITTLE ONE?

        I can give my boys  a hot cooked meal every night yet when the teacher asks them what they eat for dinner they say chicken nuggets and french fries.

 How come:

       My kids act like they’ve just gotten struck from behind by a shovel when I tell them to take a shower. 

       A second baby is not just twice the work.  That little baby seems to take 100 times the effort he/she ought to.

       I felt guilty when the nurses took my first baby from me in the hospital and by the fourth I was buzzing the nurse to come:

                  “Because Danny misses the other kids”.

I can’t figure out why:

       Women that stay home feel guilty they aren’t working and women that are working feel guilty they aren’t staying home.

       Why I’m supposed to understand and handle puberty when they cannot understand and handle PMS.

       Why sleeping men HARDLY EVER hear the babies cry. 

       Why sleeping men HARDLY EVER hear kids throwing up, or breathing with colic, or women going into labor. 

       Why my husband ALWAYS heard me moan when I was nine months pregnant with a 10 pound baby saying the next morning:

                             “You kept me up all night.”

And how come:

         I never used to cry when I listened to the news.

         I never used to donate to the Children’s Hospital or appreciate the work of Marlo Thomas and her dad.

         I didn’t ever see all those pregnant ladies that are ALL over the place.

         I didn’t pat a mom having a hard day on the back and tell her to hang in.  I just passed judgment that:

                               “She wasn’t ready for kids.”

         I get pissed that they’ve labeled her the “Octomom.”  Yes, I think she’s going to be in terrible trouble, has incredible issues, and is perhaps in need of psychological help, but must we create an image that rivals a “Spiderman” Movie in order to humiliate her. 

         I never noticed that the wind in a babies face makes them smile, even if they don’t want to.

I don’t know why: 

         I never realized how brilliant my husband’s blue eyes were until I saw them in my boys.

         I never fell to my knees thanking GOD for what He’s given us, before I had children.

         I never used to offer my help to a mom in line with a fussy child.  I do it all the time now, but never even thought of it before my boys.

         I never understood how my mom could forgive my brother AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN.

       I realize now:

          That regardless of what I’ve accomplished personally, the GREATEST way I will impact the next generation is through my children.

How come:
           
          I get this now and not 12 years ago?  There are really only four reasons I can think of.

Thank You Gentlemen:  for making everything so much clearer.

Parenting Tip of the Day: 

Don’t listen to people who tell you that holding your baby will spoil them.  You hold them every second you want to.  You’ll know if they’re getting spoiled.  It is certainly NOT going to be because you love them too much.  When you turn that love into giving them too much, then you need to step back.  Too many hugs never hurt anyone.

Belly Buttons

I tell my boys:

“If you have a belly button; you have a mommy.”

Now that I am a mommy I want them to know,

“if you have a belly button there is someone who was once a woman that wasn’t defined by children.”

I want them to know that they exist because a woman decided to bring them into this world.  A woman decided to make them her focus.

I know how they see me. 

I’m “theirs”:

I’m their mother.

I’m married to their father.

I cook their dinner; take care of them when they are sick.

I hold their hand when they are scared.

I love them and make them feel the safest they will ever feel in their lives.

I want them to know that if they have a belly button, they have been given a special gift.  They’ve been given someone who has taken her own passions, her own dreams, her own goals and changed.  She will never again be who she was.  It’s not possible.  She’s “theirs” now. 

I hope they grow to realize if they have a belly button, there’s a woman who transformed overnight to be theirs and I hope they realize all of this way before I did.

Thanks mom…I think I’m growing up.

Parenting Tip of the Day:  Stay true to yourself in some small way to keep yourself whole when your children are young.  Let them know that you have feelings that they hurt when they’re rude, you have goals that you still hope to accomplish as a woman and a professional, and while you love them, you are a person too that deserves their respect and some time to yourself.  You can’t give everything and still have something left.

Damaging Children 101

My husband and I are damaging our kids.  I know we are.  We don’t mean to, but as much as I read, research, and seek guidance; I’m positive there will come a point in their lives where they will look back and, as they talk about us, will say;

“I used to HATE it when my mom/dad would (fill in the blank).”

I imagine their wife, their psychiatrist or perhaps their cellmate, gasping as they cover their eyes and say;

“Nooooo, you’re kidding.  I’ve never even HEARD of that.”

There was the time for instance, that Steve got angry with the boys at dinner and raised his voice as he commanded:

“Don’t chew with your mouth full!”

I watched the boys stop chewing and ponder what their dad said.  I mean they considered how they could possibly stop chewing with their mouths full.  I’m pretty sure that caused damage.

Then there are my own contributions to their Xanax futures. 

Sammy recently came home and said he had a math test the following day on division and multiplication of decimals. 

“Are you comfortable with that stuff” I asked.

“I am with the division” he said, “but I don’t really understand the multiplication.”

“Okay”, I said, “Let’s do a problem.”

I then proceeded to write:

                          72.78
                    X   12.36

The boy was absolutely dumbfounded.  He couldn’t even do the first step.  I mean he didn’t know the first thing about how to approach the problem.

I freaked out.  How could he possibly be going to school every day and not know the first thing to do in order to solve the equation.  For two hours I ranted and raved, taught, fussed, and cajoled as I taught him every aspect of multiplying decimals.  Finally, after the tears and protestations, he got it.

In bed that night I told him how badly I felt that he was having trouble with math and that I had no idea.  I was so stressed personally and feeling completely out of touch with my kids.  I’d have to quit work, no more blogging, no more facebook.

“That’s IT” I told my husband.  “My focus is back 100 percent on the boys.”

The next day Sammy got off the bus and of course my very FIRST question was

“How’d your test go Sammy?”

“Easy, breezy, pumkin, squeezy” he answered.

“Terrific!” I felt able to breathe again.  “Do you remember any of your questions?”

“Well there was one that that was 19.99 X 2.”

“19.99 X 2?” I said.

“Sam-we were working 4 digit multiplication last night with digits, counting in, estimating etcetera.  That problem was really, really easy.  Were there harder ones like we worked?”

“Nah” he said, heading to the television.

“We haven’t learned that stuff yet.”

……..…..

Now, I’m not sure if this is an issue of communication, overreaction, or pure mommy guilt on my part.  But I have GOT to figure out the right questions to ask before my liver fails.

Parenting Tip of the Day:

Hey if you’re about to be a new mom, don’t pack and repack a diaper bag every time you’re going out of the house. Buy a double of everything and leave one bag in the car.  Put a pack of diapers in the trunk, single servings of formula (or better yet just breastfeed), some ziplock baggies for those diapers that need to be isolated at your friend’s house, and some bottled water.  That way you can just grab the baby, some clean bottles (if breastfeeding isn’t your thing) and you’re out of the house.  You’ll never have to think “oh darn, I forgot the baby powder” again.