Tag Archives: mom’s interest

For Mother’s Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a heads up for the folks who have read a lot of my writing, this one isn’t funny.  It’s a bit sad, hopefully a little inspiring and it likely won’t happen again.  This thought has been rolling around in my mind for weeks now, and I can’t get it out of my head, which usually means I am meant to write it down.  So here we go:

Moms experience almost constant worry and guilt.  From the moment our children are born, or even when we first feel those little flutters and kicks, it consumes us.  We worry about our children every second of every day and for many sleepless hours in the darkness of night when things are dark and quiet and our minds can really take control.  And this worry and guilt, it’s forever.  With one child now in high school I am grappling with the very real fact that in three short years, she could be living somewhere other than under my roof.  I can only imagine what my nighttime thoughts will be then…. Moms worry about every single step of parenthood.   Did I stop breastfeeding too soon? Did I breastfeed too long? Should I have tried harder to breastfeed? Was it wrong to let them cry it out?  Was it wrong to pick them up right away? Did I start solids too early and cause allergies? Did I wait too long to start solids and cause allergies? Do they eat enough vegetables? Do they eat enough of anything? Should I be more firm?  Why do I yell all the time? Why aren’t they speaking?  Why aren’t they walking? Why won’t they use the toilet? Am I pushing them hard enough in school? Should I push them harder in school? Should I know their friends better? Should I respect their privacy? Should I have let them quit the team?  Should I have pushed them to try out for the team?  And on and on and on and on and on, and the emotions are always the same.  Worry and guilt.  Because no matter which direction we took, or which decision we made, we always feel guilt about the outcome and question if we are somehow letting our children down.  It’s exhausting. But I have a message for all of you amazing moms out there.  It’s going to be ok.

When I was a little girl my parents rented a farm for the first truly memorable years of my life.  My father was an alcoholic and a pathological liar, so obviously things were not easy for my mom.  We were extremely poor.  My father spent every penny that he could get his hands on to buy alcohol or eat out at a local pub, while his children and wife were at home with nothing to eat.  My mom doesn’t talk about those years very often, but I am always surprised when she does.  There is such sadness and regret in her voice when those memories resurface.  She talks about the fear, and the sadness and the poverty.  About feeding my brother and I oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner because it was filling and there was no money for groceries.  She talks about buying large men’s jeans at the Salvation Army and using them to cut and sew overalls for my brother and I.  She talks about surviving thanks to our large garden and our animals.  I can hear the guilt in her voice.  I can hear how desperately she must have wanted a different life for us.  But here’s the thing.  I don’t remember what she does in the same way at all.  I remember a magical place filled with rolling fields and animal friends.  She remembers a crappy plastic swimming pool and a rusty swing set.  I remember a place where I pretended I was in the ocean on hot Summer days and swings where I used to imagine I was flying to far off lands.  I had no idea that our garden was the only reason we would have food into the Winter.  I remember that a carrot pulled freshly from the ground while she was weeding, with a bit of dirt still clinging to it is delicious.  I remember watching her can and preserve and the jars filled with colour and the time with her in the kitchen.  I remember her showing me how to knead bread and the laughter we shared while doing it. I had no idea that our chickens were the only reason we ate some days, I just remember how proud I was when she showed me how to collect the eggs and then made it my own special job. I didn’t know that we were “missing out” on store bought yogurt.  I only knew that I loved the goats that provided our yogurt desperately, and that I got to help my favorite goat bring her triplets into this world when I was a very little girl.  I remember adventures across fields where the wind blew the tall grass, taller than I was in some areas, to find the fiddleheads hidden in the dark, cool woods.  Or to where the chokecherry bushes were, and helping my mom pick them and then watching in our kitchen when she made jam.  No matter how much pain, frustration, desperation and yes, guilt she may have been feeling, I don’t remember.  I had no idea.  I know she worried constantly about not being enough and not having enough, and she didn’t need to.  I remember a woman who was always laughing with us.  A woman who always had hugs and cuddles and read us extra stories no matter how exhausted she must have been.  I remember a woman who knew how to grow anything, cook anything, bake anything and who taught me to respect animals and respect the earth, probably without having any idea she was doing it.  I remember thinking my mom was the strongest person in the world.  And that has never changed.

Fast forward to my twenties.  Even though my mom went on to leave my dad and eventually meet my step-dad and our lives changed dramatically for the better, I still managed to meet and marry a man almost exactly like my father.  And I had my first two children with him.  He was also an alcoholic with assorted other addictions and emotional issues and life wasn’t easy.  After our children were born I spent almost every day worrying about what I had brought them into.  I was consumed with guilt that this was their lives and I felt powerless to change it for them.  If the funds were not available for their father to spend on his assorted habits or whatever material possessions he felt would make him happier, he would turn into an angry, emotionally abusive person who would fill me with such fear and dread that I would simply give in.  Letting him have what he wanted kept the peace.  Until the money ran out….and then while he got what he wanted, I couldn’t pay our bills and struggled to buy groceries.  There were countless dinners of hot dogs and macaroni because I knew the kids would eat it and it was all I could afford on our insanely tight budget.  So many hot dogs…and I worried and worried about not feeding the kids properly.  I felt like a robot.  I was getting up every day and doing what needed to be done to get through the day at work and then the very long nights.  I remember the guilt of feeling that I wasn’t emotionally available for my children.  There were no vacations or special activities because I couldn’t afford it.  But there were walks in the swamp and the woods, and frog catching and turtle finding.  And yet I always felt I wasn’t doing enough as we watched other families go away on amazing trips, or head off to weekends at water parks.  And then the money became even tighter if that was possible, and I couldn’t find the funds to indulge their father’s whims.  And he became even angrier the yelling and insults increased tenfold.  So, we stayed in the tub far longer than we needed to or should have, every single night, waiting for their father to pass out and for the coast to be clear.  And we sang and sang and made up games and stories in that bathroom, and we survived.  And the guilt continued to consume me.  How could I let them live this way?  And finally, one day we ran.  And we didn’t go back.  And life became so much better and so much easier, and I married an amazing man who is an incredible father to all four of our children (we had two more).  And even though we left that life behind, the guilt followed. And the worry followed.  And I still questioned every single day what damage I had allowed to be done to my children by staying for so long.  And then one day, my older two children and I were watching television together and the people on the cooking show were asking what memories people had of their childhood kitchens.  What did they smell and feel like?  And my oldest son turned to me and said, “Mom, do you know what I remember from being really little?”  And I cringed inwardly.  Here it was, the moment I had been dreading.  And then he said, “I remember hot dogs and love.”  Hot dogs and love? Really? I was as shocked as I was relieved, and then of course amused.  So the three of us started to chat a bit.  And the kids talked about all the songs I sang at bath time that they loved so much, and the extra stories at bedtime.  They talked about how funny it was to watch mommy climb into the muddy swamp barefoot to try and catch them frogs, and the countless walks and animals we spotted and trips to our free local zoo.  Whether or not they remember how truly awful things were at times, what they have focused on is the love.  They remember the time I spent with them and the loved I showed them.

So here’s the thing….this Mother’s Day let’s just take a little break from the worry and the guilt shall we?  Life is challenging and heartbreakingly difficult at times.  But at the end of the day, what our children remember are the stories we read, the snuggles we gave, and the time that we shared with them.  The time we spent showing them how important they are and what they mean to us.  When we made them feel safe and valued.  Those are the memories and moments that will sustain them through the hard times in their lives.  And we can worry ourselves sick and let the mommy guilt eat us up inside, but all that truly matters to our children is that we love them.  And that we show them every day.  Love.  That is what they will remember the most.

Reasons Why Parenting Teenagers and Toddlers is Exactly the Same Thing

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If you are currently parenting toddlers, you probably tell yourself daily (over a glass of wine or six) that it’s just a phase.  The assertion of independence, the tantrums, the sleep deprivation…I could go on.  But as someone who is currently parenting at both ends of this spectrum I have to tell you to buckle up butter cup. That light at the end of the tunnel is really, really far away.

You will, after the toddler years, hit this wonderful twilight zone of time where your darlings suddenly seem to understand the importance of wearing pants, and you might actually get out the door without losing your mind and even make it to places on time. I know!!!! It’s crazy talk!  But wait, there’s more.  You will suddenly feel somewhat rested and in control of your life.  You might even make the brave and noble decision to purchase new furniture or, and yes this is really hard to imagine I know, make dinners that your children will eat!  It’s like a dream really.  A beautiful parenting paradise.  And you will think to yourself, “I’ve got this.  I am a parenting pro. ”  And then, suddenly and without warning, your little darling or darlings become pre-teens.  Pre-teens and teens are really in same category here because the only difference is that the teens are taller and can drive, otherwise, the same. And suddenly, you will no longer have any control over your life, punctuality will again become a joke, you will be stocking the pantry with boxes of wine (because braces are expensive and you can only afford the cheap stuff now),  and that new furniture, let’s just say party food is always full of artificial colour.  All of a sudden you will be entering the world of parenting giant toddlers….And here are the reasons why nothing really changes:

1.) Bedtime:  Babies and especially toddlers are notoriously good at avoiding sleep.  The never ending trips out of bed because apparently bedtime is a cause for extreme thirst (drinks of water) and hunger (but I’m STARVING), and monsters, and missing stuffies, and one more story and one more hug etc etc.  It can literally drive a person to the edge of sanity.  If you are one of the lucky ones, your children will at some point learn to go to sleep a little more easily and actually stay asleep, thus the parenting paradise I mentioned earlier.  Once the pre-teens/teens hit, you will again have children that refuse to go to sleep.  Also appearing to have constant and spontaneous needs for drink and food, only now you will also be battling the television or the all consuming cell phone.  “So just go to bed” you may be thinking, but no.  Toddlers may be awake because they can’t explain why they can’t sleep, but pre-teens/teens are often awake because they won’t explain why they can’t sleep.  So, now my dear parents, you will lay awake in your own bed all night worrying yourself into a frenzy about what could be wrong.  Is it school?  Is it a friend?  Have they joined a cult? Did they start an underground smuggling ring of snacks filled with artificial colour? Worry, worry, and no sleep.  And we have officially returned to the land of total exhaustion.

2.)  Morning Routines:  Yes, toddlers are typically early risers, but that doesn’t mean they care what your agenda is.  They just happen to be up early.  The fact that you want them to be ready to go somewhere on time is irrelevant.  Guess what?  pre-teens/teens also don’t care.  Even when the agenda is their own!!!! Early morning sports or other extra-curriculars that they love during waking hours? Meh. School? Super meh.  Have you ever tried to wake up a pre-teen/teen? It will challenge you to the very core of your being.  The very core….I don’t want to compare the experience to climbing Everest but….there will be screaming, crying, begging, pleading, bribery, threats, the sudden and inexplicable inability to locate a left shoe….sound familiar yet?  And guess what?  There goes that precious punctuality you had come to cherish.

3.)  Food:  Toddlers will eat boogers, bugs, dirt and other assorted delicacies, but the mere appearance of a vegetable or a new food on their plate will send them running like you have just tried to feed them rat poison.  You constantly worry about whether or not they are getting enough to eat and the proper nutrients.  Guess what?  Food issues all return in the pre-teen/teen years. Pre-teens/teens will eat literally anything that has artificial color, saturated fats, artificial flavor and essentially anything that comes out of a vending machine.  They have their own money and often access to a local corner store or school cafeteria and you can no longer monitor and police everything that they put in their mouths.  So we are back to constant worry about nutrition and fights over healthy meals.  I will admit that pre-teens/teens bring a whole new food issue.  Cost of groceries….seriously, I can walk into my house and leave $400 worth of groceries on the kitchen floor while I run to go pee and come back out to find it all mysteriously gone.  Except of course the broccoli.  They are kind enough to leave that behind.  See, this is another reason why you will now be drinking wine from a box.  Silent, ravenous ninjas.

4.)  Music and Television:  Toddler years are filled with music and television that no one understands.  “Teletubbies”, “The Wiggles”, and the always awesome and rage inducing “Caillou.” Your road trips will be filled with the sounds of whatever kid friendly music they love at that moment.  Today, I had to hit repeat on Bing Crosby’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” more than thirty times because it is my two and a half year old’s current favorite.  I used to like it….Fast forward to the pre-teen/teen years….I could seriously live my entire life as a parent with Youtube.  If my pre-teen tries one more of those godforsaken Youtube challenges, or explains to me again that everything will be ok because he is going to be a famous Youtuber one day and make tons of money being, as far as I can tell, a jackass, there will not be enough boxed wine on this planet to keep my sanity intact.  And music? Music?  I shudder….have you leaned how to “dab” yet?  Or “juju on that beat”? You will….oh yes….you will.  See? Music and television that no one understands.

5.)  Clothing:  Toddlers usually have very specific clothing preferences. My four year old only wore shirts with dinosaurs on them.  My two and a half year old wants to wear a princess dress every single day.  It’s white.  I guess I should be happy that she stopped insisting on dressing as a unicorn every single day.  That costume is also white.  So is my favorite wine, but I digress….even though toddlers may insist on wearing a certain theme or color, you can usually force them to leave the house looking presentable and relatively clean with faces washed and teeth brushed. You know, on a good day.  Pre-teens/teens also have very specific ideas and demands regarding their attire.  The problem is that they are much bigger than toddlers, and angrier, and supposedly capable of washing their own faces and brushing their own teeth.  But they don’t…they just don’t.  Oh, and if you think taking a pre-teen/teen shopping for clothing would be easier than taking your toddler shopping for clothing, you are in for a world of hurt in a few years.  A world of hurt my friend.

6.) Tantrums:  Oh the toddler tantrums.  The screaming and crying for usually unknown reasons or unrealistic and often impossible demands. They are asserting their independence you tell yourself.  They are trying to communicate their emotions…fast forward to the pre-teen/teen years.  Exactly the same scenario, for also usually unknown reasons, as well as unrealistic and often impossible demands.  Only now they are quite possibly taller than you. Toddlers trying to express intense emotion and pre-teen/teens dealing with hormone overload cause exactly the same response in the human brain.  Ok, I don’t actually know that for sure but I would be willing to put money on it.

So there you have it.  Enjoy those years between toddlerhood and the pre-teens because you will need those times sustain you and keep you strong.  Good luck my fellow parents.  Pass the wine.

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Body after baby…it’s ok.

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Other than a healthy baby, is there anything that concerns a pregnant woman more than wondering, “Will I ever get my body back?”

The answer is no.  At least not the way it was before you became pregnant.  You cannot grow a human being for nine months, go through labour and push something so big out of an area that is so small and expect to have the exact same body that you started with.  Seriously…you will have some stretch marks, or some extra weight, or perhaps your feet will be a size larger and your rings will be tighter.  You may find that your boobs, hips, any number of body parts don’t appear to be in the same spot they were before….and you know what?  THAT’S OK.  Really!  It is!  It’s perfectly normal and we all need to just calm the hell down and give ourselves a break.

Nothing makes me more crazy than these front page stories about movie stars that are showing off their amazing “post baby bodies after only six weeks”!  “Learn how they did it”, the ads scream at us while we stand in line to buy diapers with a crying baby, in our sweat pants and a pony tail unable to remember the last time we showered.  So we buy the magazine.  Desperate for a miracle.  And we read about the special foods she ate and the exercises she did and we wonder why we can’t get our s&*% together.  Well, can you afford a nanny, a personal trainer, a home gym, a personal chef and a nutritionist?  You can’t?  Neither can I.  That’s why.  And again, THAT’S OK.

And yes, there are those women who appear to walk out of the delivery room looking even better than they did before they peed on the damn stick, but I am 100% certain those people are robots.  Fitness clubs are paying some government agency to build them, and place them into society as pregnant women to force us all to run out and buy gym memberships the second we realize our pre-pregnancy jeans don’t fit us anymore.  I haven’t been able to prove it yet, but I will…oh I will.

Body image is a struggle for many of us from start to finish, and I am certainly not going to pretend that I have found the magical solution to feeling completely comfortable in my own skin, but I’m working on it.  I have had four babies and the one thing I have learned about this topic is that we have our entire lives to worry about how we look.  What we don’t have, is all the time in the world with our precious babies.  They grow.  They grow really, really fast.  One second you are smelling the top of your precious newborn’s head, dreaming about who they will be and feeling your heart swell with joy and the next second you are watching your thirteen year old head off to a grade eight dance…it happens in a heart beat.  And you can’t get it back.

So don’t waste a second of that precious fleeting time worrying about how you don’t stack up to the model on the front page of the magazine, or the neighbor who strapped her baby on her back on ran a marathon two hours after giving birth, or the robot walking out of the delivery room looking like someone else had her baby.  Don’t do it.  Take a deep breath of that amazing newborn smell and let it go.  Then have a cupcake…because you know what?  THAT’S OK.

 

People I Have Encountered as a Parent That I’d Like to High Five in the Face…

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Since becoming a mom, I have encountered a number of people that really need a high five in the face….sounds a bit violent?  Well perhaps once you see my reasons you will understand.  Here they are:

1.)  Time Management “Experts”

First of all, these people never have kids.  Seriously, if I only needed to manage my own time I would be a Time Management Expert as well.  Nothing is more frustrating than a perky, beautifully put together, recent college grad telling you how to better organize your day.   When I had my first two children I worked full time, and commuted to get to the office.  This meant that everyone had to be out the door on time, but also with all the gear for the day in tow as well as looking presentable.  My employer at the time liked to have the occasional seminar for us where a Time Management Expert would come and talk to us about how to be on time, organize our day etc. etc….She would tell us things like, “Try leaving the house fifteen minutes earlier than you have to, to create a buffer for yourself if you start to run behind.”  Lady,  I could leave the house an hour before I am supposed to, since I probably haven’t been to bed, but these things are still going to happen:  First, the toddler will get fully undressed while I am buckling the baby into his seat.  Then, while I am dealing with redressing the toddler, the baby will either spit up or have a diaper explosion which will require me to remove him from the seat to change him.  While I am doing this, the toddler will undress again, this time losing one of her shoes in the process.  Then, the baby will decide he does not want to go back into the seat and will refuse to sit, thus causing a wrestling match that will go on for several minutes while the toddler tosses the shoe I just spent fifteen minutes locating out of the vehicle.  I won’t notice this until I arrive at daycare, and will then have to go back and retrieve the shoe.  So, take your fifteen minute buffer and stick it.

Then she would tell us about how to allow ourselves time to get ready and look professional when we arrive at work.  My favorite tip was to lay our clothes out the night before for the next day….really?  First of all, anything I lay out the night before is going to go missing since my toddler likes to hide things in the toy box, laundry hamper, any available drawer, under the bed.  I was late for this seminar because my car keys and cell phone were stashed in the caboose of a sit and ride train toy…Second of all, I could lay my outfit out a month before I have to be at work, it isn’t going to stop the baby from spitting up all over me, the very second I cross the threshold into daycare….

If you want a working mom to take a Time Management Expert seriously, hire another mom…have secret underground meetings about tips no one tells you about.  How to hog tie, and bribe with Smarties….just a suggestion.

 

2.)  Grocery Store Eye Rollers:

Oh I’m sorry, are you not enjoying my child’s tantrum?  Strange, because I love it!  In fact we rehearse this before we leave the house because it makes running a bunch of errands sooooooo much easier.  If you aren’t going to get off your high horse and help me carry this stuff to my car while I desperately cling to this writhing, screaming child, then at least keep your eye rolls to yourself.  Thank you.

3.)  Doctors that Don’t Listen:

There is not a team of scientists on this planet that can rival a mom with a sick child and access to Google.  We will do anything to help our children, so don’t treat us like we are overreacting when we show up in your office.  We don’t get paid to worry this much, you do.

4.)  Parenting “Experts” with No Children:

NOTHING and I mean NOTHING is more infuriating than someone without children telling you how to parent your children.  How on earth can you even call yourself an expert in something you have never actually done?  Do you need some engine work done on your car?  Well I just read a book about it so why don’t you tell me all about what a terrible parent I am while I tear your car engine apart for you?  I also took a course recently online about the importance of cardiovascular health.  Why don’t you hand me a scalpel and I’ll take care of that blocked artery for you while you tell me why I shouldn’t bed share? Seriously, stop it.  If you don’t have children, don’t tell me how to raise mine.

How to Speak Toddler….a Basic Translation Guide

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Toddlers are pretty amazing little people, because they are in fact, little people.  All of a sudden they are no longer squishy little babies who are content to simply sit or lay down all day while you put them wherever you want to put them or take them wherever you decide to go.  Suddenly they have their own ideas about what they want and when they want it, and they are incredibly dedicated to their own little whims.  If you have ever had the opportunity to care for a toddler you will know that this is putting it extremely mildly…..a toddler who wants something that you either don’t understand, or are not able to provide or allow is very much like a tornado, and you my friend are a trailer park.

Heading into the land of toddler myself for the fourth time, I thought that a translation guide of sorts might be helpful.  So here you go:

1.)  “No!”  Or “I not!”

Remember in College when you were insanely dedicated to a cause and decided that you would join your fellow  protesters in a sit in?  Nothing, and I mean nothing was going to deter you from making sure your message was heard and that change was implemented.  This is now your toddler…..if you plan on accomplishing anything on the day that these words are uttered, clear your schedule and make some calls, because you are not going anywhere anytime soon.  These words are usually used when it is time to leave the house and socks, shoes, or possibly pants are required.  These words are also very popular when trying to buckle a toddler into a car seat when they will suddenly decide to “plank” and use their super human toddler strength to prevent you from doing up the buckle.  These words are almost always used when you have to get to work, or you have an appointment which you are likely already running late for.

2.)  “I try it.”

These words will be used during mealtimes.  They mean that your toddler is now going to abandon their own plate, which contains the exact same food that you are desperately trying to eat yourself, and will now proceed to eat every scrap of food on your plate.  For some reason, toddler logic dictates that your food is better than theirs, even though it is exactly the same…it’s best to just develop a taste for cold, tiny bites of food because unless you hide in the kitchen to eat, you may be trading plates for awhile.

3.)  “I no did it.”

These words will often be uttered when you have been out of the room for a few minutes.  It absolutely means that they did something….the trick is what is it?  Sometimes it will be obvious because there will be a puddle of something or the writing will literally be on the wall.  However, if it is not obvious, do not assume that nothing has happened.  Search high and low until you figure it out because this is one of those times when weeks from now you will be wondering what on earth that smell is, only to discover half a banana crammed into the back of the toy garbage truck….

4.)  “No worry mommy.  I clean it.”

This is also usually uttered when you have been out if the room.  This one is a bit more alarming.  It’s nice that they have taken ownership over whatever havoc they have caused, however they have also attempted to clean it up.  So, what was the mess?  And what exactly did they “clean” it up with?  This often involves a defective sippy cup and a throw cushion from your couch, or, worst case scenario, a diaper and an afghan…probably knitted by great grandma and irreplaceable.

5.)  “I big helper.”

This is a tough one because it is so darn cute…but it’s a trick.  Do not be fooled by the big innocent eyes or angelic smile….this does not meant they are going to help you.  This statement means they are going to, under the guise of helping you, do absolutely everything in their power to prevent you from getting the activity done.  If you give in to this request, as I foolishly do at least once day, pour yourself a coffee and just abandon all hope of getting anything accomplished.  Oh, and make sure you allow for time to clean up whatever messes will now be caused by your “big helper.”

6.)  “I hungry.”

Brace yourself….you are about to be told no to every single option of a snack that you provide and even though the toddler could actually be hungry, there will not be a single food item in this world that will be acceptable.  If there are older children in the home, your toddler will also be aware that you have cookies….so you know that sit in from College?  You are about to meet the sit in King or Queen.

7.)  “Mine.”

Toddlers are only capable of understanding their own needs.  So this statement could refer to a toy, a toilet brush or even your left shoe.  It doesn’t have to make sense.  In fact it often doesn’t.  Just assume that everything they see, touch, hear or smell belongs to them in their little world and roll with it.

8.) “It so pretty.”

This rarely means that you will find whatever is happening “pretty”.  It could mean that those paints and crayons you thought you had hidden have been located and in the time it took you to pee, your little artist has provided you with a custom made mural in your living room.  This mural will likely include walls and your couch.  It could mean that somehow your toddler has found a pair of scissors (even safety ones will cut hair) and given themselves a “pretty” new haircut.  Or, it could refer to the fact that your toddler located a tube of lipstick in your purse and has given themselves a “pretty” new makeover.  It could also refer to the fact that you have thirty seconds to get out the door for an appointment and your toddler has removed every scrap of clothing you put on them and opted for a diaper and a tutu, a pair of your underwear on their head and one glove instead….they may combine this with the lipstick make over….

I will be happy to provide more translations for common toddler lingo as they arise….now if someone out there could provide me with some translations of pre-teen language…that would be great.

 

Parenting induced insanity the sequel….

 

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9.) Bathrooms:

This is an area that I thought I was prepared for….the trouble with bathrooms is that the level of issues simply change with the changing ages of the children in the home. So, there are always any number of things to push you over the brink. Wet towels are a constant. Mountains of wet towels. I don’t know why one preteen needs four towels for every shower, but apparently they do. I also wonder if my big kids are running a secret dog grooming service that I am unaware of. The amount of hair left behind when they finish in there is terrifying. For some reason, whenever hands are washed (if hands are washed) some sort of flood happens and the area surrounding the sink looks like something out of natural disaster footage on the 6 o’clock news. Oh, and someone will always place a full roll of toilet paper directly in the flood waters. This means that the next time you reach for some, you will be met with a lovely pile of mush. Potions will be made out of half full bottles of shampoo, sculptures will be carved out of bars of soap and no matter how much you beg, plead and threaten, things that should be in the toilet will be found on the outside of the toilet and things that should not be in the toilet will regularily be a cause for some emergency amateur plumbing. And it won’t matter how often you clean that bathroom. Within two minutes of you leaving triumphantly with your cleaning supplies in hand, that room will look like the nasty truck stop bathrooms you once refused to use.

 

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10.) Car trips:

This may be the only other area of parenting that can rival the family portrait for causing a typically mild mannered parent to completely and absolutely lose their mind. Family trips always seem like such a wonderful idea. Until you actually set foot in the car. If you already have children, and those children travel well, you are my hero. My children do not….at all…even a little. There is a brief window of time when your infant sleeps peacefully in a car seat while you embark on a six hour road trip with the occasional nursing stop. When this period ends, so does life as you know it in a car. There are an assortment of travel types. The barfer, the crier, the “are we there yet?” and the kid who is always sooooooooooooo bored. Someone will always be hungry, thirsty, nauseous, or need to pee. No amount of pre-planning, snack packing, gravol dosing or activity providing, will prevent any of this. At some point in the trip a fight will break out in the back of the mini-van that will rival that of a professional cage match, someone will spill something that won’t be found until it starts to smell, and a diaper blow-out will leave you on the side of the highway trying desperately to clean up and air out. By the hundreth “are we there yet?” your husband will ask that you book the van in to have privacy glass installed behind the front seats. The memories made once you arrive at your destination will make this hell on wheels all worth it, but when heading out, maybe dose yourself with some gravol, and perhaps invest in some ear plugs.

 

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11.) Gum:

Kids LOVE gum!!!!! In our house it has always been a rite of passage.  A sign that one has now matured enough to be trusted with not swallowing this mouthful of chewy joy.  But not swallowing gum is merely the tip of the ice berg in gum induced insanity. Somehow the gum rarely stays in the child’s mouth.  I don’t know how but they seem to manage to leave chewed gum everywhere.  Under the couch in the rec room, by the bathtub,  on nightstands, beside the garbage can but not actually in the garbage, in hair, on clothes and on the floor of the minivan…..My husband outlawed gum in the van after this discovery in what we now refer to as “The Great Gum Prohibition of 2014”.  However the ban was lifted when he recalled the few minutes of silence that could be purchased when offering gum on those fateful road trips.  Parents are shameless back trackers and hypocrites when it comes to trying not to lose their minds.

 

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12.) Homework:

Have you done any grade four math lately? Open some wine and brace yourself when that time rolls around.   How about a family tree when every single person in the tree has been divorced and remarried more than once? Did I mention you are also required to give this project pizazz and it’s grade two, so you need to find a way to explain why there are so many folks on the tree without paying for a lifetime of therapy?   Or, my personal favorite, the research project on the Canadian Beaver?  When your turn comes I have two of those Beaver projects in my basement.  Just let me know….it will cost you a bottle of wine.

Rarely mentioned causes of parenting insanity…

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Parenthood….it’s amazing, magical and fulfilling in ways that you never imagined possible. However, it is also more than a little exhausting and chaotic at times…or all the time…..As parents there are a lot of little details about this that we like to keep to ourselves. I mean let’s be honest. If we share all of the things that make this journey challenging, no one else is ever going to join our little club of crazy. Children are simply incredible. Watching little people that you created with your own body as they grow and learn and develop their own personalities and interests is nothing short of miraculous. Every day brings a new skill, or giggle, or facial expression that sends all of us parents into a state of complete joy. However, with all the miracles of development come the frustrations. Those things that babies, toddlers, preschoolers simply do not understand yet. They have a completely different set of logic than we do. You will notice I left out preteens….that’s because they lack logic completely. Or so I’ve decided…It’s these breakdowns in communication or lack of understanding that send all of us as parents to the brink of total insanity at least once a day. At least. We all know about lack of sleep and the impact it has on our sanity and our ability to function so I’m going to skip that completely. It’s common knowledge. Let’s cover some of the other sanity crushing moments in parenthood:

1.) Color Changing Dinky Cars:

I don’t know if they even make these anymore, but for my nine year old son they were a really big deal when he was little. I hated them then as well. My two year old stumbled across one the other day. Turns out he only likes the color of the car when it is cold….try explaining to a two year old clutching a dinky car in his hot little hands, why it won’t stay the same color it is when you run it under cold water. Try explaining this for hours….

I believe that the inventors of this “technology” should be punished. They should be given a bucket of color changing cars in cold water and placed in a Nursery School class. Then, take the bucket away and leave the cars with the children. Good luck to you sir…good luck.

2.) Voice Automated Phone Systems:

Have you ever tried to call your bank, hydro company or a government office while home with children? Most of these places have hours that require you to call when all or at least most of your children are in the house, and awake. “For customer service, press or say one.” “Mommy!!!!!! Red truck please!” “We are sorry. We did not understand your response. For customer service, press or say one.” “Mommy!!!! Red truck! Mommy!!!” “We are sorry. We did not understand your response. For customer service, press or say one.” “Mommy!!! Mommy!!!! MOMMY!!!!!” “We are sorry. We did not understand your response. For customer service, press or say one.” But at this point you have already given up. And I know what you are thinking, just take the phone into another room and shut the door. It won’t matter. Somehow those systems are designed to process the voice of a child, while you are on a different floor, in another room, with the door shut tight. I am pretty sure they are designed to prevent anyone with children from bothering them.

3.) The Family Portrait:

Sigh….will any single attempt at anything in this world cause a parent to morph from a logical, mild mannered adult into a fire breathing, foaming at the mouth, raging lunatic faster than the family portrait? Usually you have paid someone to take this photo for you. So, time is of the essence. Suprise! Toddlers have no sense of time and zero interest in the fact that you are paying the photographer by the hour. Interestingly enough, neither do preteens. Toddlers also have no interest in personal hygiene. Imagine you have just bathed a group of puppies and you need to get them to a dog show, but on the way to that dog show is a large puddle and a cotton candy factory. It may also start to rain chocolate at some point in the journey. This is essentially the same thing as trying to keep a group of children, in their lovely new clothing, clean long enough to take a decent family portrait. If you do manage to get that group of children in front of the photographer while still clean, brace yourself. They will not, at any point in time all look at the camera at the same time. Nor will they all smile together. Every family portrait we have shows two parents with extremely forced smiles on their faces, one child smiling at the camera, one child trying to run away while I am holding them from behind, one child scowling and looking at their feet and another child, looking back at the rest of us. If you are brave enough to attempt a family portrait, put something strong in that coffee cup….you are going to need it.

4.) The Pantry:

Every family has the cupboard that houses all the snacks. They are not out on display like the fruit bowl, because children will bug relentlessly for a package of cookies, not an apple. For little ones, once they see their older siblings taking delicious, usually forbidden treats from this magical cupboard then it’s game over for mommy. You will resort to insane threats to keep your older children from getting busted by the little ones. Things like, “If they see you, you will lose your electronics FOREVER!” Or, “Honestly I will sell you to a travelling band of gypsies!” This same cupboard brings up the issue of trying to keep snacks available for school lunches. If I didn’t have to buy a steady supply of convenient and school safe snacks for my kids lunches I am pretty sure I would be a millionaire by now. So, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to threaten them within an inch of their lives for constantly ( with ninja like stealth) cleaning those snacks clear out of the pantry. In fact, if it wouldn’t increase our hydro bill I would rig up some electric fencing around the pantry. It’s my only logical solution.

5.) Valentine Cards:

For any parent out there with a school age child, this is one of those things that require very little explanation. I will admit that I am a huge dork when it comes to holidays. I love any excuse to decorate the house and bake themed cupakes (and eat a jar of icing with a spoon while hiding in the laundry room). However, convincing a small child who cannot sit still, to sit still long enough to “help” write out 25 or more Valentine Cards is pretty close to my definition of hell. Also, this year my toddler is experiencing his first Valentine’s Day celebration in nursery school and he is convinced that I am stealing his Hot Wheels Valentines Cards. He simply does not understand that there will be an exchange of cards. He is determined that I am a Valentine stealing monster and I had to hide them. I can’t even utter the words “Valentine’s Cards.” Should be an interesting party…..

6.) Working From Home:

Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The best of both worlds. Watching your little angels grow while earning an income all snuggled in your cozy home. Bliss. Picture this if you will: You are on a conference call in your home office (kitchen table). You have Treehouse on the television, fishy crackers in a bowl, all the bases covered to keep little ones busy for a few minutes. Then, just as you are about to contribute your brilliant marketing ideas that are sure to take the company to the next level, you look over to the livingroom. Your two year old is standing at the baby gate, naked, holding a poopy diaper. As you watch, completely helpless, that diaper becomes a lariet, being swung around and around while he squeels with glee, spreading the contents as far as the eye can see. And because you must remain professional, there is nothing you can do about it. Not a damn thing. You will simply use your tears to clean up the poop when the call is over. If that doesn’t push you over the brink, check your pulse. It may be too late.

7.) Family Movie Night:

We are all determined when we become parents that we will never yell and we will certainly never tell our children to shut up…I mean what kind of monster would ever do that? Enter Family Movie Night. We go into these evenings with the best of intentions. A lovely evening with our family together all comfy and enjoying a movie together. Sadly there are very few movies out there that will hold the attention of a preschooler for two hours, the baby couldn’t care less and the fidgety eight year old is determined to get his blanket and position just right while chatting incessantly about what just happened in the movie while asking questions about what happened next because he was talking and missed it. The preteen will constantly scowl and hiss angrily at the eight year old for talking, the preschooler will choose that time to fire up his battery operated guitar, and a fight over the blanket will ensue causing the bowl of freshly popped poporn to hit the floor. If at some point in the evening, you do not reach your breaking point and suggest that everyone just shut up and watch the movie, you are a better parent than I.

8.) Television:

Try and explain to a toddler that their favorite show is over…..I dare you. I will be especially impressed if you attempt this at 3pm when said toddler has not had a nap.

 

Taco Tuesday….

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Most directions for making tacos read something like this:

1.) Brown 1lb of ground meat in a frying pan with some oil

2.) Add seasoning mix and water

3.) Warm tortillas in microwave and serve with salsa and sour cream.

 

So, when the kids very excitedly asked if we could have “Taco Tuesday” I thought sure, what the heck.  My directions for making tacos would read a little something like this:

1.) Start browning 1lb of ground chicken in a frying pan with some oil.

2.) Open seasoning pouch and attempt to pour into frying pan.

3.) You are completing these directions while balancing a sick baby on your hip and while using the spatula with your right hand even though you are left handed,  because the baby will cry if switched to your right hip.

4.) Because of step 3 you will now flip the spatula out of the frying pan, sending it to the floor along with the seasoning pouch.  The seasoning pouch will be open.

5.) You will now use your foot in a frantic attempt to stop the dog from licking the spatula and eating the seasoning mix off the floor while still balancing the baby.

6.) At this point both of your older children will enter the kitchen in need of something and no it can’t “wait just one bloody second!”

7.)  You will now give up on the mess on the floor and ask the dog if she would like some @#%&* sour cream.

8.)  The smoke alarm will now go off because in all the excitement you forgot to turn the burner down and the meat has scorched in the pan.

9.)  The smoke alarm will upset the baby.

10.)  You will now pull a pizza out of the freezer and inform the house that the next person to utter the words “Taco Tuesday” will lose their electronics for a month.

 

You might be a mom if…….

I recently compiled a list of sorts of the signs that I feel truly define the fact that you have become a parent.  You might be a mom if:

1.)  You don’t recall the last time you sat down to eat anything.  Any food typically served hot is consumed by you when cold, and foods that are supposed to be cold are consumed by you while lukewarm and quite possibly melted.  The last “meal” you had was quite likely part of a chicken nugget with one or two half eaten carrot sticks or the crusts of a grilled cheese sandwich and a leftover apple slice, depending on the time of day.

2.)  You haven’t shaved your legs in weeks because if you actually manage to have a shower, you don’t have time to shave and also wash your hair.  Let’s face it, only so many of us look good in hats but pants look good on everyone.  So, if the choice is between the hair on your head or the hair on your legs , the head wins every time.

3.)  Your definition of a “vacation” now falls under, grocery shopping without the kids.

4.)  There are enough fishy crackers and cheerios on the floor of your mini van to feed a small country.

5.)  You drive a mini van.

6.)  Your idea of success has shifted from getting that big promotion at work to getting everyone out the door in the morning wearing pants….and both shoes.  Both shoes are a true sign of just how high up the ladder you have climbed.

7.)  You can’t find your car keys, however you can locate a red balloon, a green crayon, a bandaid and a piece of bribery gum at a moments notice if required to do so.

8.)  You know what I mean by “bribery gum.”

9.)  Most of the electronics in your home have mysteriously stopped working.  Upon inspection you will find the cause to be foreign objects jammed into places they should not be.  Things such as crayons, cookies, the wing from a toy airplane….and your car keys….

10.)  You are blogging with one hand while a baby is nursing on your lap, which is apparently the only place she can possibly be at all times because she simply could not care less about mommy’s attempts at a writing career.  Or perhaps that’s just me.