Tag Archives: Boys

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


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.


Real Parenting

I had a hard time with my eleven year old last night. The trouble started when we went to his brother’s basketball game.

Now Sam HATES to unwrap himself from his computer games. He’s also not a big sports guy. I understand computer games are his passion right now and while we set limits to it, I try not to mess with his “on” time. When we have a game though, I like to have us all go and root for the brothers playing. We usually have fun ribbing and joking with one another while we’re watching the game but last night he was having NONE of it.

He was surly, angry and just unpleasant to both his brother and me. Eventually he moved to the other side of the bench and his younger brother Dan, decided he too could be rude to momma. Dan said a couple of unpleasant things and scooted over as well.

That was it. I was done. I was NOT going to be treated rudely by people whom I loved and cared about and act like it was okay. I stood up, motioned to his father that we were leaving and walked out. The two boys came running after me.

“No momma, we’re sorry; we’re sorry.” they cried after me.
Sammy was so upset he started crying saying

“I want to fix this. Let’s go inside and I’ll change my attitude mom. I promise.”

It took everything I had not to hug him up and tell him it was okay. That I understood and that I’d be happy to act as if nothing had happened.

But I didn’t.

I wanted him to know and understand that I have feelings too. That he and his brother couldn’t treat me poorly and expect everything would be okay as soon as they said they were sorry. I didn’t yell, I didn’t fuss; I just left. When we got home I went upstairs to my room and didn’t speak to them again.

I laid down that night with the youngest and explained to him that you cannot treat people you love rudely and expect them to automatically forgive you. I told him it hurt my feelings and that I didn’t particularly want to be around him when I got home which is why I went upstairs.
Of course he was sad, and he apologized. I told him I loved him and said goodnight.

Then Sam came in to say goodnight (I’d actually gone up to bed). He was breathing deeply like he does when he is stressed. I said goodnight and hugged him and told him I loved him. It wasn’t until this morning that we talked about what happened.

“Do you know why I was so upset last night Sam?”

“Yes mom.” he said.

“I won’t be treated poorly by you or anyone else Sammy. Do you understand that?” I asked.

“I do.” he said quietly.

As he left this morning I hugged him and said;

“I missed you last night Sam.”

“I missed you too mom.” he said.

So no funny stories for this one; just wanted to share some reality and say that as hard as it was and is, I think it is really important to teach your kids how to treat you. Some things are not okay and unless you set that standard with them I don’t think anyone else will teach them.

I shared this story with my exercise partner this morning. She told me that her nephew was complaining that his mom called him every day and he fussed at his mom somewhat rudely, saying sons don’t talk every day with their mothers.

“That’s a daughter thing.” he said.

“Do you love your mom?” my friend asked her nephew.

“Of course I do”, he replied, “I’d die for that woman.”

“Vince”, she said, “She’s not asking you to die for her; she’s just asking you to call her.”

Later that night she saw Vince heading upstairs with his cell phone.

“I’m going to call my mom” he said to my friend.

She smiled.

I guess it is never too late to learn a good lesson.

Have a brilliant day!

Yes Virginia

Yes, Virginia there is a Santa; but in truth he’s a bit oversold.

There’s a bigger person that’s working the season.

Now, that’s a story that ought to be told.

While Santa works hard for the holiday mirth and is often considered the cause,

 the real muscle and brains, as each woman knows, comes directly from one;


She hangs up the stockings, she preps all the lights, she shops for the elves, and maps out his flights.

She buys for his office, preps food for his parties, she hangs out the wreathes, bakes cookies and tart


She shops for his brothers, his sisters and aunts, she matches his outfits, nice shirts with nice pants.

She brines the turkey, she preps the sprouts, she’s taking the photos and getting cards out.

Yes, he works hard and his work pays the bills, but without her this season would fall flat on its’ heels.

I mean really does he even know the elves’ sizes?

What type of dessert, Prancer’s favorite pie is?

No-he’s round and he’s jolly, and hangs with the kids, has not even a clue where the mistletoe is.

She wonders sometimes if all this toil matters;

then an elf wanders in, steals a cookie and scatters.

Pretty soon three more elves slip through the door,

“Man, those are great, can we PLEASE have some more?”

They walk away smiling, and munching and shine

“Gosh she’s just the BEST, don’t you LOVE Christmastime?

And amongst all the ribbons and glitter and cheer,

Mrs. Claus nods…


 and sniffs back a tear.

Parenting Tip of the Day:  Hide those receipts.  I know you’re hiding the  presents but don’t forget that those little guys learn to read and if they find the receipts or the open bill from the credit company–YIKES LUCY–you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

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”. 


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.


When the boys ask me why I rest my hand on their father’s leg when he’s driving, I think about all the miles my family would travel in the car on summer vacations.  I remember looking to the front and she’d be sitting there with her hand resting on daddy’s leg.  They didn’t speak too much but occasionally they’d look at each other and smile.  When I touch my husband’s leg, or reach over and hold his hand in the car I tell the boys:

My momma taught me that. 

When I come down in the evening in my PJs and the boys come rushing over to sit by me, Sam will raise his head and say:

 “Ohhh….you have on that perfume don’t you?”

 I think about hugging my mom over the years; burying my head into her neck and smelling her perfume.  I remember it warmed me and made me feel safe and loved.  So when the boys snuggle down next to me taking in long breaths of whatever perfumed lotion I’ve slathered on, I think:

My momma taught me that.

When I give a stranger a couple of dollars  I remember watching my mom reach into her pocket book and pull out money at the grocery store.  She’d help the person in front of us if they were a little short.  I’d walk away from the register holding her hand, looking up at that beautiful face, and feeling so proud.   Charity is one of the things she taught me.

When I start to put together a meal, I think about all the meals that she made in our kitchen.  Meals weren’t just something you ate, meals were an event.  Meals were cornbread and pinto beans, collard greens with ham hocks and sausage gravy and biscuits.  Saturday dinner was a steak, always a steak, sometimes in the kitchen or sometimes in the dining room where you “dressed” for dinner and ate by candlelight.  The kitchen table was a place of ritual and family, sometimes heated discussions and always good food.  When people ask me where I learned to cook I tell them:

My momma taught me that.

When I stand on the porch and wave goodbye to family and visitors pulling down the driveway and I take a moment to say a little prayer for their safe journey, I remember all the times I left my home on May Avenue, watching momma wave to me as I pulled away.  I know how important that last wave is and I think:

My momma taught me that. 

Even as mom started her slow journey from us, even when she didn’t always know who I was or where she was, even then she’d hug me and tell me she loved me.  That was her nature. 

I wonder if I would want to live the last years of my life as my momma did.  I can’t help but think about how much comfort and joy she brought us by being there for us to visit, to touch and hug.  We’d sit and share a cup of coffee, maybe watch a cooking show or take trip out to the garden.  Sometimes we were strangers, sometimes we were her daughters but always her gentle nature recognized us as friends. 

She gave so much and continued to ask for so little.  I’d want to do that for my boys as well.  She allowed us to let her go slowly and when it came time to say goodbye, we did.  My sister was there when she left us.  As gently as my momma lived, she died.   

Many years ago, right after my grandmother died, I found my mom in her bedroom writing down her thoughts.

Through her tears she said:

“You can read this when I’m done.”

She wrote pages about the things her momma did that made her world so full of love.  

If you wonder why I thought it important to write these things down now,

through my tears I can only tell you:

My momma taught me that.

                                                            Janice Irene Austin (Barrett)

                                               October 17, 1923 to November 7, 2009

                                             Every good thing I am; is rooted in you!


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.

Apple Season

I always smile when other moms tell me their children are in the “gifted” program.  Not in a mean way.  We’re all proud of our children and life is all about setting and achieving goals.  I’ve set some goals for my boys too:

Goal #1:  Please stop eating your boogers.  It’s gross.

Goal #2:  Please put the seat up when you pee and down when you’re done.  Up…Down…Up…Down…

Goal #3:  Please don’t choke your brothers.

Goal #4:  When choking your brothers please mind the glassware in the house.  It breaks.

Goal #5:  When I have to leave on business; please have everything that was alive in the house when I leave, alive in the house when I return.  That includes fish, parrots, humans, dogs and my plants and flowers.  I know it calls for upkeep but it is my goal for you.

I was pleased recently when Benjamin, on the way from one football field to another, told his daddy about one of his goals.

Dad to Benjamin, “Did you eat the apple you brought?”

Benjamin to dad, “Yup”.

Dad: “Okay Ben, pass the core up to me and I’ll put it in the garbage bag up here.”

Benjamin:  “I can’t.”

Dad: “You can’t, why not?”

Benjamin: “I ate it”.

Dad: “You ate it?”

Benjamin: “Yup”.

Dad: “You ate the seeds?”.

Benjamin: “Yup.”

Dad:  “You ate the inside pieces?”.

Benjamin: “Yup”.

Dad: “You ate the little brown bottom and the stem?”.

Benjamin: “There wasn’t a stem but if there was I’d have eaten it.”

Dad:  “Why?”

Benjamin: “I try to eat one whole apple every year; been doing it since kindergarten.”

Dad:  “So now you’re good for fourth grade right?”

Benjamin:  “Yup”.

Gifted?  Probably not; but in this mom’s mind it is one step closer to setting a goal and achieving it. 

Maybe next I can get them to put the seat down.


Parenting Tip of the Day:  All my boys have different eating habits.  I don’t know why or how it happens.  Some of them eat salads and veggies and some of them cannot stand the idea of anything green.  I work on it slowly and now one of them has started eating tomatoes.  As long as I’m getting them a spread of vitamins, I’ve had to ease up on it a bit.  The dinner table is together time for us; not a time for fussing and tears.  That’s the homework table.