My Love/Hate Relationship With Motherhood

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There are times I really love motherhood–like at night when my children are in bed and there are times I really hate motherhood–like during the day when my children are awake. Ok, maybe hate’s a strong word, and I don’t “hate” it in the true definition of the word, but I sacrificed everything (including my lady biz) to become a mom so I’m allowed to say I “hate” it and if you disagree well nobody asked you.

I love making fun of motherhood while also embracing the soft, squishy Hallmark side of it. It’s this blending of inappropriateness with sentimentality that comes naturally to me.

I hate motherhood for taking away my sanity and ability to form one complete thought but I love motherhood for replacing it with the craziest kind of love.

I love motherhood for showing me how good life was before kids came along but I hate motherhood for making it so damn hard to complete anything.

I love motherhood for helping me find the funny in stressful situations but I hate motherhood for creating all the stress in the first place.

Motherhood makes us into schizos who fiercely love our children and fiercely hate all it demands of us. So it really is a fine line between love and hate and the trick is to straddle that line like a mother…a mother-effin’ boss.

 

 

Time Flies When You Don’t Want It To

This too shall pass is simply a polite way of saying you’re screwed for now and parenthood is an endless loop of waiting for things to pass. So basically, parenthood = you’re screwed. Math has never been my strong suit, but that’s an equation I can understand.

At some point in parenthood you might find yourself wishing the time away because it would make life a little easier. Like just a few months ago when I was grumbling about our lunch routine and how awesome it was going to be when the big one had lunch at school. Cut to now and I’m sad that the three of us won’t have that time together. WTH? I was seriously just complaining about it and now I’m getting all sappy over it? Parenthood is such a weird thing because what drives us crazy one day will be the very thing we miss the next.

It’s so hard not to look to the next stage of my children’s lives even as everyone is telling me to cherish the time while they’re little because one day I’ll wake up and they’ll be starting school, and before I know it, they’ll be full-blown adults. Some days I’m like, yes, I want to be as present as possible and soak up every second with my amazingly brilliant kids and other days I’m like if they don’t leave me alone my eye is going to twitch so hard it’s going to pop out of my head.

So I’m finally learning to be careful what I wish for when I’m busy wishing things would pass because it’s taken me this long to learn that I might be screwed for now, but not forever.

Shake it Off

Maybe by teaching my girls not to care what others think I’ll finally be able to learn it for myself.

Last month my daughter skipped up to her classroom wearing a panda mask. Happy-go-lucky until we got closer and someone said, “Lookit!” while giggling and pointing which made everyone laugh. My daughter ripped off the mask and broke into tears, thinking they were laughing at her. It hurt my heart because I don’t think they were making fun of her, I think they thought it was funny, but it didn’t seem that way to her. It saddened me knowing she’s going to have many moments like this because, as we know, kids are cruel and we all deal with some sort of bullying at one point or another.

It took me back to my sixth grade bully who said I stared too much, which I still do…and that I needed to get a tan, which I still do. I now realize that staring was just my way, part of my process of writing and observing the world around me. And the tan thing, yeah, I’m naturally pale, this skin freckles and burns, it was not intended for the sun. While my pint-sized bully may have just been stating the obvious, he was trying to hurt me, however, I knew that his opinion never really mattered. Maybe this was because I had older brothers who teased me anyway so I was used to empty, lame insults, or maybe it was because my parents instilled a strong sense of self from an early age.

We all get picked on, we all get our feelings hurt, but it’s what we do with it that’s most important. My daughter is still young so to explain all this to her would’ve been overwhelming, but I wanted to do the right thing, tell her the right words so that the next time she feels this embarrassment she’ll be able to laugh it off and not take it to heart, but all I could do was hug her and act like it wasn’t a big deal.

I would’ve reacted the same way. It’s taken me a long time to be able to laugh at myself and I still struggle with it sometimes (just ask my husband who has been glared at more than once for me misinterpreting his laughter). So when I picked her up from school I told her that the girls were laughing because her mask made them happy and they thought she was being funny not that she looked funny.

I love that she wore her mask. I want her to embrace her silliness and individuality and have the confidence to do what she wants and to stand up for herself when anyone tries to make her feel small. So, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, I ask her to shake it off. I guess it’s never too soon to learn that the haters are gonna hate so never let them see you sweat…or burst into tears.

Fun in the Sun

I don’t know what I was so worried about…traveling with kids is a piece of cake. Wait, did I say piece of cake? I meant, takes the cake, as in, takes every ounce of energy and patience you’ve got saved up.

All kidding aside, our trip went very well. Almost too well. Going there the little one fell asleep for two glorious hours and I didn’t even drug her (although I thought about it beforehand). While she snoozed with her head on my lap, I held my breath and watched an entire movie in one sitting! It all seemed too good to be true.

Don’t get me wrong, traveling with two small kids who depend on you for most everything is a big pain in the ass. However, much to my surprise, flying was one of their favorite parts of the trip. The little one squealed with delight when we landed. See below.

From the moment we got to the resort we jumped in the first pool we saw and stayed until we were all pruney. That’s how the whole week went, only getting out of the water long enough to eat ice cream and slather on more sunscreen.

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Between all the swimming and sunblocking, I finished a good book and even had time for one tropical cocktail.

We saw some gorgeous sunsets…

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had a celebrity sighting…

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and only brought home one stowaway…

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So am I glad we went? Yes, because now they can’t say we never took them anywhere, I mean, we had the best time and made a million magical memories to last a lifetime. Would I do it again? Ask me again in a couple months when I’ve fully recovered, I mean, of course…in a heartbeat. (wink wink)

Don’t Make Me Turn This Plane Around

Let’s call this family vacation what it really is…a mistake.

Okay fine, not a mistake, but not really a vacation either. The word vacation implies relaxation, sleeping in without thinking about an itinerary, lounging by the pool with a daiquiri in one hand and a book in the other, not the hectic, unpredictable madness that is traveling with small children. Yet, spring break is almost upon us and so is our first official family trip. Despite my complaining, I’m looking forward to sharing and making memories with my girls and their cousins, I’m just not looking forward to the amount of work it’s gonna be.

The thing I’m most nervous about is the actual traveling part, flying to be exact. We’ve never flown with our children and just the thought of it fills me with anxiety. I’m worried about entertaining them for five hours while we’re stuck in a huge flying contraption in the middle of the open sky over the wide Pacific ocean especially when I can’t hide in the bathroom like I do at home. It’s not like I can threaten to turn the plane around if they refuse to stop fighting and yelling.

On a recent trip without our kids (the only kind my husband and I usually take) there was a couple flying with a little boy. As they took their seats directly behind us (just my luck) the dad passed out bags of M&Ms to all the surrounding passengers. They knew their son would most likely have a meltdown at some point and wanted to make everyone smile with an unexpected treat. I’m a sucker for candy, so naturally their little plan worked on me. Plus, there was that whole “I’m a parent, you’re a parent” understanding going on. Plus, there was free wine. Again, another thing I’m a sucker for.

I hope that we have a few understanding parents seated next to us, ones who will be on our side if things start to go awry. But maybe I should stock up on some M&Ms (and also a few mini bottles of wine) just in case. Who am I kidding, I’ll have chugged all the wine before we even board the plane.

I know everything will work out fine and we’ll have an incredible, memorable trip with many laughs and uncountable smiles, and who knows, maybe it’ll become a tradition. But something tells me I’ll need a vacation from my “vacation” when it’s over.

Walking Boots

My father grew up walking the country roads of rural Georgia. He spent his childhood walking everywhere–to town, to school, to the neighbor’s farm that was miles away. He passed down his love of walking to me and now I’m hoping to share it with my daughters. They’re finally old enough that we don’t need a stroller anymore, which is nice, but stressful in different ways. They’re loose and I’m outnumbered and there are no sidewalks here and I have to corral them like wild turkeys.

When we were young, my brothers and I went for walks with our dad almost every night after dinner, now that I think about it, it was probably to give my mom a break from our constant noise because normally she stayed behind.

We’d set off on our usual route and along the way I had my small detours like balancing along the bricks of a certain driveway or a shortcut through another. We always passed The Purple Lady’s house, where, I kid you not, every single thing was purple–the house, the car, the flowers, even her hair!

Strolling along, I’d ask Papa to tell me stories from his childhood. Sometimes he’d tell me all about going to school in a tiny one room schoolhouse, walking however many miles with a group of kids he could still name as if he’d seen them the day before. And he’d tell me about the first pair of glasses he got and how he was so amazed he could finally see ants on the ground. Or how he and his older brother JR got into all sorts of mischief, pulling pranks on everyone. Toward the end of our walk, I’d run ahead and put my hands and feet in the imprints on the sidewalk on Lancaster St. right before saying hello to the yellow lab that always barked at us as we passed by.

We forget pieces of our childhood until we have children of our own and they remind us what it used to be like. I hadn’t thought about these walks for a long time until I took my girls for one yesterday. Just like my detours, they found their own along a rocky pathway, where I followed behind, feeling that long-lost spark of adventure. Then they hopped from one stepping stone to the next at the house on the corner. The big one pointed out pretty white blossoms blooming on a tree while the little one picked dandelions to carry, and I felt like a kid again, which is to say, happy.

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5 Years Later…

Dear my sweetest E,

Happy 5th Birthday to the girl who makes me smile with my whole face and laugh with my whole body! You are the ultimate gift, my hilarious lil spitfire, and I’m so lucky that you’re mine. It’s unfathomable that five years have gone by so quickly, and you’ve grown and morphed into this person who I couldn’t be more proud of and more excited to know. You surprise me and delight me (and frustrate me) to my limits, but that’s how I know you’re mine because I see myself in you and I see all the ways you’re not like me too. It’s all these other ways that I’m so grateful for. Because that’s the best part of this parenting business…finding out who you are gonna be regardless of my influence, all the ways you’re not like me. The way you’re obsessed with horses to the way you take charge of a situation and speak your mind. Never stop doing that.

You deserve the absolute best birthdays and I hope this one didn’t disappoint. Shoot, it might be the first one you remember. Realizing that just gave me a mini heart attack. I think it went pretty well though. From the balloons to the pancakes to the trip to the museum and the butterfly grove, and then the chocolate cupcakes with our friends, and of course, THE PRESENTS, and more cupcakes and ice cream, I’d say, you enjoyed yourself. And don’t forget my favorite part, dancing and twirling just the two of us in the kitchen. I’m not sure if you were aware, but I was committing it to memory, the feel of your hand in mine, the way you laughed, the ease of the moment.

You’re 5 now. I’m almost 35. There might as well be a million years between us, yet you remind me of what it’s like to be thirty years younger every time I look at your marvelous face. Happy Birthday to you, Miss E! We love you like crazy!