Tag Archives: Babies

SAHM

Over time I’ve come to realize that some days seem explosively important when you’re in them and turn out to mean nothing. Other days pass unnoticed until you see them in life’s rear view mirror. So after great thought I recognize that the most important day of my life was the day I bought a pair of bright yellow crocs.

You know the shoes; crocs? Those much maligned much cajoled, much defiled boat like foot coverings that scream middle age. I know what you’re thinking. In a world filled with Prada, Gucci, and Fendi, why would anyone, especially a woman with some modicum of self-respect, choose to walk around in big pieces of rubber. The answer to that defines the importance of the day.

Yesterday or what seems like yesterday; I graduated college and embarked on my life as a young, professional woman. My mantra at the time was that I could do anything. I rebelled against the traditional roles I had associated with my wonderful stay-at-home mother and vowed I would not have children immediately, would not look to marry quickly, and would certainly never be dependant on anyone for my lifestyle. I’d come to believe that being anything short of an independent, professional, high salaried position was falling short of what I owed women-kind at large. What an ego.

I dressed meticulously to fit the demands of the day. Strings were cut from clothing, shoes were cleaned and shined, buttons and hair always in place. For many years I pushed myself physically, mentally, and emotionally to become a leader and mentor in my field. As time passed I developed a very positive reputation within my profession. And you know what? I loved it.

I loved the work and the people I worked with. I was intellectually and emotionally stimulated, and honestly couldn’t imagine a more fulfilling way to live my life. Then something happened during the last five years of my 20 years at my job. Well, actually four “somethings” happened. My husband and I had a family. In those last five years we were blessed with four little boys. Even with everything we’d done professionally, we recognized our four children would provide a greater impact on the next generation than anything we could accomplish at work. With the birth of our youngest, Danny, and after four years of managing daycares and nannies, laundry, and work, I knew I could no longer serve two masters. My children demanded as much as I had to give; so I left my go-to-work world and became a stay-at-home mom. Of course, I was still very much a working mom but at home my bosses were much more demanding.

To me my choice was best captured by a poster I admired of a world-class athlete. The caption beneath her photo read, “All it takes is everything you’ve got”. THAT, to me, was motherhood. I could see that perfectly toned, tanned and muscled athlete being replaced by a woman in a long baggy t-shirt, stretch pants, shadowed eyes and unmanaged hair. With a bottle in one hand and a diaper in the other, my poster child was readying herself for a sleepless marathon. As my new life unfurled, I could best explain some aspects of my days as drudgery. How many times a day could I mop up a spilled sippy cup? How many loads of laundry did I need to do in order to have a onesie with no stains when I needed it? And how many potties did I need to clean before one of my potty training boys would actually hit the toilet. There were days when I LONGED for my professional freedom. My memories of enjoying a meal sitting down rather than standing at the sink swallowing a child’s leftovers, or dressing in the morning in clean, starched clothes vice throwing something on with baby burp stains and nursing flaps; those memories were like forgotten lovers calling my name to come back. I was so overwhelmed I found myself coveting the lost luxury of being able to use the bathroom without four little heads peeking through the door.

Don’t get me wrong there were tons of sublime moments when my heart filled with joy and pride at the little men I knew I was so positively impacting. I cherished the feeling of having them snuggle beside me to watch their favorite children’s show, even if it meant I had to sing along with a big purple guy for 30 minutes. I daydreamed in the sweet scent of the backs of their little necks and loved the way they smiled involuntarily when the wind blew in their faces. But ashamedly, I was unsettled.

I often wondered why I found it such a challenge to handle the responsibilities and stress of staying at home with my own children. Women like my mom had done this for years. Yet this incredibly wonderful, incredibly frustrating and maddeningly sleepless reality of being a stay at home mom seemed to be kicking my butt. How in the WORLD did my mom do it? In a surprising moment of clarity I asked her. Her answer was simple: she decided to do it and to love it.

My mom decided to love the job of raising her children. Things were just as frustrating for her. She had four children, very little money and never learned to drive due to significant problems with her eyesight. She had a husband who was demanding, a house to keep clean, laundry to stay ahead of and meals to make…but she’d decided to make her life one of joy and fulfillment by accepting her decisions and living them with gusto. I, on the other hand, was so busy trying to be recognized as a working mom who was staying home that I’d lost how important it was to love my new endeavor. During a rare, very, very, rare shopping trip with just my husband, I decided to stop the madness and be a mom who didn’t make excuses for choices I’d made.

That day my husband and I went shopping was the day I bought my bright yellow crocs. That day I began to live my decision to stay home with the joy and commitment my mother showed me. I stopped thinking about what people might think of me and what people might think about my choices. I bought the crocs because they felt good on my feet. I bought them because I could run in them to catch one or more children making a break for the candy isle at Wal-Mart or making a dash across a busy street. I bought them because I could stand all day moving from one corner of the house to the next and not go to be with swollen aching feet and legs. My crocs were my statement that I was a stay at home mom filling probably the greatest leadership role I’d ever undertaken.

I’ve found that as the boys have grown I LOVE the freedom that being a stay-at-home mom gives me to support my children’s lives. I love being involved in their schools and in our community. I love taking those skills I’d used in the workplace to help others and make my boys’ entrée into life the best possible experience. When I show up at a school activity with all the boys in tow and people hear me squeaking down the hallway I feel good that they know our family’s team is coming. When someone asks at a PTO event “who’s in charge” and I hear them directed to “that woman over there in the yellow crocs” I am lifted that my description is a lighthearted one. Yes I am crazy with fatigue, frustration and the fabulous joys of motherhood but I routinely relish the fact that I am a leader and mentor to my children and that I am able to support others I might not have known if I hadn’t stepped out of one comfort zone and created a new one. The day I decided to buy those crocs was the day I realized that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and making a great difference in the lives of my family and others. Sometimes I wonder why my revelations took me so long, and how in the world my mom got so smart.

To see what I’m up to now like me at Girl Smarts LLC on Facebook

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“Why Me” (A Thanksgiving Reminder)

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?”, then a voice answers “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
Charlie Brown

We all get overwhelmed. We go to places that make us wonder what we’ve done to bring such challenges to our lives and question how in the world we’re supposed to cope when so many things are going wrong. The voice that tells you “Nothing personal…” is only slightly satisfying. I really believe you, and me, and everyone else, needs to look at the things in our lives that ARE working and that are, in fact, going better than we could ever have hoped for. When those things come to mind, we need to be just as diligent and ask:

“Why Me?”

When we are facing a challenge and friends rush to our sides to assist us:

“Why Me?”

When we suffer a serious accident, and somehow survive:

“Why Me?”

When we have a child who is struggling with school, and we have teachers who join with us to assist in moving them to success:

“Why Me?”

If we focus solely on the things that are challenges, we just don’t realize how each day brings positives we will miss when our head is down and shaking in dismay. We miss our opportunities to be thankful for today. I am not a Pollyanna, I have suffered many hardships in my life. As I’ve grown through them I’ve come to realize they were a gift that brought focus to the good times in my life. They provided clarity to my thoughts about “the routine” and sharp edges to what is really hard and what is just nonsense. They’ve helped me put into perspective how fleeting time really is.

Now when my sons, rush off the bus, jackets flying and backpacks bumping up and down; when they rush up the driveway in a full out race, laughing and fussing about cheating and head starts; all the time with their eyes smiling. I’ve come to understand that I am witness to the morning of their lives. That’s when I ask:

“Why Me?”

and that’s when I say thank you for all the moments that have shaped me and brought me to this place.

Imperfect Parenting

A friend recently told me she likes to read what I write. I let parents look at my imperfections. They get to read about about the things I’ve done right and wrong and they often identify with it.

I do make a lot of mistakes.

I remember taking the boys on a journey to New Jersey when they were very young. Danny was still in a stroller, just an infant as I recall. We stopped to go into a break area and there was a pond at the top of an inclined walkway that lead to the rest stop entrance. The pond was filled with goldfish so I stopped with the boys to gaze into the water. Cool right?

As the boys and I leaned over the edge of the pond, I heard a woman call to me:

“Ma’am, your baby.”

I looked around and saw to my horror that the stroller with Danny in it was rolling down the hill, about to hit a curb and jump into the road of the parking area.

What do you do at that moment?

What exactly do you do?

I had three toddlers by a pool of water, and an infant in a stroller; a stroller that was rolling into a parking lot.

I couldn’t catch the stroller. It had gone too far and was picking up speed. In those seconds that passed, I held my breath.

Literally, I held my breath and stood there paralyzed for what seemed like hours.

As the stroller picked up speed and rolled toward the road, God,

(I don’t often mention God actually taking the time to touch my life. I know it’s happened, probably more than I realize, but I don’t think he’s there waiting for me to screw up as a parent and come to my rescue)

at that moment God, sent me two guardian angels. Almost like it was choreographed those two angels stepped from behind the building and stopped the stroller.

They stopped it. It was kind of like they were waiting for that moment to do something amazing and stopping my baby from going into the road was that amazing thing they were there to do.

It was like going from panic to a perfectly normal moment in the blink of an eye;

in the blink of an eye.

Okay moms, then what do you do?

You get the little guys off the pond’s edge and you run, YOU RUN, down the hill and try to manage your mixture of relief, joy, and embarrassment. Relief that a moment of impending disaster has changed to a moment filled with tears, thank you’s, and joy.

“Thank God” drips from your mouth and little beads of sweat finally have the nerve to show themselves and run down your face.

Then, you feel the embarrassment.

You just did something SO FREAKING STUPID that you can’t believe that you’ve actually been entrusted with these four incredible, little lives.

SO FREAKING STUPID when you realize that, ONCE AGAIN, you screwed up.

Embarrassment since people are now shaking their heads at you:

“That’s why there’s a break on it lady.”

“Why’d she have that many kids so close together anyway?”

“Can you believe that she didn’t move?”

When you start to breathe again, you take your little boys and walk into the rest area.

You take them into the women’s bathroom with you and go into a stall telling them to stand

“RIGHT THERE!”,

watching their little feet under the door stall.

Then you vomit. You vomit everything you’ve ever eaten in your life. You vomit until your sides are sore and your stomach is squeezed in spasms and then, you wipe the puke off your face, and the tears out of your eyes and you go back out to those four little boys and smile and ask:

“Who wants a milkshake?”

There you have it. My parenting guide:

“Imperfect Parenting”: How to do a million things wrong, and still raise pretty good kids.”

That’s what I’m good at.

Making lots of mistakes, messing up the experts advice,

(most of whom have NEVER been stay at home moms or dads, and actually dealt with the day in and day out parenting realities most of us face),

and still raising children who are grounded, responsible and pretty darn cool.

Last night I found a little girl wandering away from the middle school where I was picking up my son. She was cute as a button. She had long pig tails, dressed real sweet, and just walking like she owned the road ahead of her.

Problem was she was way out of anyone’s sight and I didn’t see anyone near her. I knew she’d slipped away.

I jumped out of my car, walked quickly to her, and talked to her.

“I can’t find my mommy.” She said. She was four.

We started walking back toward the school together and after I got a pretty good distance toward the door of the school I hear from way over at the baseball field:

“Skyler, Skyler; What are you doing?”

We looked and there was Skyler’s daddy running full speed toward us. I started walking toward him and Skyler and I did “knuckles”.

“Thank you SO MUCH.” her father called to me and little Miss Pigtails went running toward a very important discussion with her father.

“No problem dad.”

“I’ve been there.” I yelled as she closed the gap between her and her dad.

Phew, I thought.

Guardian Angels – 2

Imperfect Parenting – 2

As long as it stays a tie; we win.

Things I think:

Things I think:

1. If it is flameless…it is NOT a candle.  It’s a light.

 2.  If you are one of the four out of five women that cannot read a pregnancy test, you should NOT be having children.  You are stupid.

3.  Even if you didn’t take a little blue pill, any erection that lasts longer than 4 hours requires medical attention. Frankly, your wife needs to get examined too!

4.  Future episodes of Degrassi on the Nick TV channel should NOT be advertised during iCarly reruns; especially the ones about lesbianism.

5.  You should NOT check the “Correct Blemishes” box on your child’s school photo ordering sheet.  Kids should not think they need to be photo shopped to sit on their parent’s shelf.  They are perfect.

6.  Teenage kids should not be able to express themselves by wearing any part of a military uniform unless/until he or she has worn it in combat or in service to their nation. 

7.  Stay at home moms deserve the right to represent what they do at career day.  They don’t stay home because they are unable to do anything else.  It’s because they are putting their considerable talents into raising their children.  Trust me—it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

8.  If you are a commissioned officer in the United States military (or a retired officer drawing retirement pay) and you use contemptuous words against the President, you are in violation of Article 88 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and are subject to a court martial.  Yes.  If you are retired they can reactivate you and court martial your butt.  That is the case even if you do it with a wink and a smile and a nudge.  Clean up your act.  You fight for democracy, you don’t live by it.    

9.  Skinny people do NOT eat McDonald’s food. 

10.  Going to the McDonald’s drive through, ordering coffee and having the little black box ask you “Where’ve you been?” is NOT a good sign.

11.  If you have 18 children, that’s enough.  Really, 18 of anything is enough.  If you cannot control yourselves please stay in separate rooms.

12.  If someone offers you a reality television show you are odd.  In some way you are odd and there is nothing good going to come of it.

13.  If you do get a reality TV show, when things in your personal life go to crap please, please, please don’t go on the talk show route and talk about the intrusion into your personal life.  Refer back to #12 and probably #2.  You are odd and you are stupid. 

14.  If airlines are going to sell food or alcoholic beverages then they should have adequate change for people who buy the food and beverages they have to sell.  I’ve been flying in airplanes since I was 16 years old and they STILL announce they can’t make change when you buy a drink.  Is this rocket science?

15.  If you are 24 years or under – you don’t have a “life story”.  Don’t write a book.  It makes us 40 somethings mad.  Only people that have lived longer than a horse should be able to write a book about their life story. 

16.  The world changes when both your parents have passed away.  If you are in this situation, you know what I’m talking about.  Home is no longer someone or someplace you go to visit.   There is a  painful hole that you will never fill with anything but sweet memories.  I respect the process and the whole circle of life thing, but I miss my mom and dad.

17.  If for some reason you are not speaking to one of your children, you need to fix it.  You are the parent, you are the grown-up, and you need to fix it.  It may hurt and it may be the last thing you think you need to do or you owe to your child; but someday you will die.  When you do, you want to leave someone grieving your loss.  It means you impacted a life. 

Your tombstone will not say:

“I was right by God”. 

and…

even if it does;

No one will come to read it.

Parenting Tip of the Day:  We struggled with our decision on letting the boys see their Grandmother’s body.  My husband was traumatized by that process when he was young and we all worried that perhaps our boys were too young.  In the end, we asked them for their thoughts.  We were very frank with our children that the body was not their grandmother that she’d left.  In honesty, they did not know her very well.  She was sick for about the past seven years.  They opted to be a part of the service and I’m glad they were there.  They heard me speak about her legacy and they rallied around me in support.  And the oldest, the one that did know her, he cried.  I’m glad he cried.  Some things are worth being sad about.

Things that Suck!

A guide to things that suck:

  •      Men that cheat on their wives.  They suck.  Hey buddy-have the guts to say something’s wrong and work on your marriage.  I’ve seen brilliant, beautiful, amazing women who’ve had their self respect and their family torn from them because he thinks he has the right to go outside of their marriage.  “She didn’t make me feel special anymore”.  Really? Grow up!  You are pitiful and you don’t deserve the women I’ve seen you tear up. 

 

  •     Women that cheat with married men.  They suck.  Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t take something if it wasn’t yours.  IT’S THE SAME THING.  He’s taken.  He’s not yours.  Leave him alone and find your own man.  If he tells you what is wrong with his wife DON’T LISTEN.  He needs to work on his marriage PERIOD.  It is NOT your job.  There is NOTHING he is telling you that is true.  Honestly.  Even if she is as bad as he says-it is not your right to insert yourself into their marriage.  Have some self respect. 

 

  •     Moms that pass judgment when another mom messes up.  They suck.  I left my sweet, sweet son standing with his coach in a dark field (I mean pitch black) with another mom, and had to endure her calling me “ridiculous” for being late.  Hey lady, you suck.  And the coach that didn’t return my sincere note of apology with at least an acknowledgement – he sucks too. I was in a panic when I dropped the oldest at football practice and turned back to pick up my son on the soccer field and realized the sun was setting too fast and I would never make it.   I was nauseous when I got out of the truck and called to Sammy and heard his voice come back “I’m here mommy”.  YES, I SCREWED UP.  I should have, could have, and needed to do a million different things to NOT have that happen.  But I screwed up!  My son has accepted my apology; two nights later I’m still laying awake tormenting myself in that special way that we moms do when we err in our judgment and now I have to face this coach and this mom, still angry and ashamed of myself and somehow understanding and getting their judgment my of actions.  I PRAY I have more compassion the next time a mother does something wrong and take solace in the fact that I will stand there with her child waiting for her and when she shows the slightest angst about being late I will tell her “we’ve all been there and you need to forgive yourself”.

 

  •      People who throw their cigarette butts out the window.  They suck.  I hate seeing your mess on the side of the road; seeing your absolute disregard for the planet and for any sense of civility.  Grow up and clean up your act.  I don’t want to see your butt.

 

  •      Mean people. They suck.  Every time they talk mean to someone; either a waitress or a store attendant or an elderly gentleman driving in front of them; their children watch them and think THAT is the standard for humanity.

 

  •      Bullies.  They suck.  I see my children and other children dealing with the little snips and snarks that come from kids that are brought up thinking it is okay to hurt other kid’s feelings.  Not enough for a sixth grader to ask mom to intervene, but enough to hurt his feelings.  We have a family that is deeply involved in their faith living in our school sector.  Their commitment to their church and faith is terrific, but their son is tormenting another child in the neighborhood at school.  Get a hold of things and make sure that your kids are practicing what you preach. 

   

Some might say people who make statements like this suck.  Then I suck.  I do take a stand on things I think are wrong.  I HATE injustice and I hate feeling like I’m not making life better for someone.  I guess that is what I think life is all about.  Spreading the good and speaking out when you think something sucks.

Parenting Tip of the DayLet your children know that there are things that people do that are wrong.  FLAT OUT WRONG.  Not everything can be put into context or should be understood.  Teach them to stand up for things that are right.

There’s a Booger on my Lampshade

There’s a booger on my lampshade;

 a bunch sticking near my bed.

I’ve got quite a good collection

by the pillow near my head.

I don’t want my mom to find them

‘cause she fusses all the time;

about my picking and my digging

“It’s like you worked inside a mine”.

Sometimes I like to flick them;

they go clear across the room,

but I have to do it quickly cause

my mom could walk in soon.

“Don’t do that” she will holler;

first she’ll gag and then she’ll wretch.

Then she’ll rub my nose clean off

with some stupid, pink Kleenex.

I just can’t seem to help it,

there’s some in there I can tell.

 I love to clean them out but,

“No tissues near…oh well.”

There’ll be boogers on my lampshade;

and some tucked beside the couch.

A few flicked on the doggies;

maybe one inside my mouth.

But what’s a kid to do,

it brings me so much joy;

I simply must continue digging

after all, I am a boy!

The Life Cycle

“I killed it.”

 Well I guess I should say,

“We killed it.”

Not sure what the cause of death is officially, but it was a long time coming and the smell, once death was pronounced, the smell was awful. 

We had 22 good years together so I can’t complain.  How many things in your life do exactly what they’re supposed to do for 22 years? 

Oh sure, there were times it was overwhelming.  All the bending and lifting; crossing the line between dirty and clean over and over again. 

Nothing in my life has brought me such grief and such joy as that which I am now laying to rest.

Goodbye washer.

Goodbye dryer.

You’ve served our family well.  I don’t think it was the first 10 years that were too tough on you.  After all it was just the two of us. 

It was these past 12, all the itty bitty socks and t-shirts that became hundreds of pairs of sweat socks you repeatedly cycled around and around.  All the baby clothes laden with food spills and unspeakable matter, the description of which is too foul to print, spewed across the front and back.  All the candies you were forced to reduce to silver slivers of paper, slivers that became trapped in your vent; and of course the occasional red marker and game boy game that you sadly rotated to oblivion knowing they would never function correctly again.

The pain of watching your kids pull those small rubber bands that go on their braces from your inner workings; listening to them as they howled after realizing their favorite Pokémon card or DS game was destroyed in your rinse cycle. I’m sure it took its toll. 

We did share some times didn’t we?  Remember those hours upon hours of me folding clothes; me talking to you about how recently we’d just washed a pair of those exact same looking jeans.  My screaming exclamations of:

“THESE AREN’T EVEN DIRTY.”

or

“OH MY GOD; WHOSE ARE THESE?  THEY’RE DISGUSTING!”

As I stormed from the laundry room calling one boy or another, preaching what is now a well known sermon that we wear pants 2 or 3 times and underwear only once!

All the times, in the middle of the night, I came rushing in with sheets covered in whatever midnight body functions had shown themselves in one of the boys rooms.  Starting your soak cycle, filled with Clorox or any other germ killing detergent I had at the time. 

We can never get those times back can we?

You never complained. 

I bought your replacements yesterday.  They’ll be here next week, and the men in white jackets will take what is left of you to the recycle bin.

I asked Steve if we could keep you.  Maybe put you out in the yard and give the boys some screwdrivers and let them have at it.  It would have been hours of fun for them,

 and I sure would love to know where that yellow sweater went.

But I was overruled.  I think my husband worried that I’d want to start stacking up our used tires in the yard, and maybe get a chicken or two.

I don’t have much faith the two shiney, white, brand new replacements coming from Maytag will live up to your reputation.  How could they?  They’re so young and naïve.  With all their fancy cycles and steam clean options.  I won’t be able to share the same stories and midnight visits with them I did with you.  After all, the boys are older now and I really don’t have the emotional energy to invest in another relationship like the one we shared.

In retrospect, I probably hung on too long.

Even after you wouldn’t stop cycling when your lid was lifted,

I kept you. 

Even after your cycles wouldn’t stop without manually turning your dials to “off”,

I kept you.

Even after your tub would slam so violently from side to side during the spin cycle that I could watch you dance out into the hallway,

I kept you.

After all, you still cleaned the clothes, and well; frankly,

I’m pretty cheap.

But once I heard you screaming; screaming so loudly I couldn’t run you through your drills and not wake the boys; when the smell of rubber was so pungent it burned my nostrils. 

I knew it was time for us to part. 

Enjoy retirement dear friend.  You have served our family well and you will be missed.  I just hope your replacements are ready to be put through the wringer.

Parenting Tip of the Day:

If you have many children, that means many, many socks.  To keep them straight mark their socks with a laundry pen when you get home from buying them so you can match them to each other and to the child who owns them.  I used the “dot” system; one dot for the first born, two for the second and so on.  That did two things.  I was able to couple socks when they came out of the laundry and send them off to their rightful owners; and I could also immediately pinpoint which son thought it was okay to leave their dirty, smelly socks on the dinner table.