Caring is Hard

IMG_0485But I care. A lot.

Like most parents, I want the best for my children. But to give them the best means putting my own wants and needs on hold which can be very hard to do. It means putting my phone down, turning my distracted mind off, and interacting with them. It means reading books together when I’d rather not, going for walks when I’d rather not, playing games when I’d rather not. It’s fighting this feeling of not doing anything worthwhile. It’s reminding myself that these are the things that are actually worthwhile. These are the ways to create a fulfilled child. (You know, the whole reason we bring these little people into the world in the first place.)

Just the other day my husband and I received the highest compliment you can get as parents of young kids. A woman sitting near us in a restaurant said that we had lovely children who were so well-behaved. Granted, she might’ve had a little too much vino and we had only been there about 20 minutes before she left, so she saw them in their prime–while the crayons were still keeping them busy and the sugar from their chocolate milks hadn’t kicked in yet. Nonetheless, I stood up to accept my parent of the year award and to make a heartfelt speech about sacrifice and selflessness to our fellow diners. Kidding. We thanked her and then snickered that boy had we fooled her.

Why should I care what this complete stranger thought when I know my kids are well-behaved? I’m well aware of what it’s taken to make them this way–most of my sanity and all of my patience. At least in that moment it felt like my hard work had paid off. I guess that’s what I was thanking her for…for noticing.

I have so much I want to accomplish, yet by the time I’m done trying to mold my mini-mes into self-sufficient decent human beings who feel loved and understood, I’m just too mentally and physically exhausted to do anything but zone out to the world and keep ignoring everything I’ve put on the back burner. So I remind myself that this time in their lives where they actually want me to be a part of everything they do is short-lived and that my time is better spent sharing life with them even if it costs me my own.

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Weird is Good

I was reading to my daughter like we do every night before bed. She interrupted me like she does every night, but this time she said something that caught me off guard.

She said a kid called her weird. She sounded so sad, and for a minute, I was too.

My first reaction was to tell her to ignore this kid, but I paused and tried to think of something better, something that would help her for the next time it happens.

Then it came to me.

I told her that being weird is a good thing. It means you’re not like anyone else. So the next time someone calls you weird, you should say thank you. She laughed a delighted little giggle and I felt good, like I’d said the right thing at the right time.

As I was reveling in my parental sense of accomplishment, my daughter turned over, laughed again, and deliberately farted on me.

I couldn’t sum up parenthood more perfectly if I tried.

My 15 Seconds

While some people get 15 minutes of fame, I’m thrilled I got 15 seconds!

Last week I was surprised to learn that one of my tweets made it onto Good Morning America!

Yes, that Good Morning America, the one on national TV.

Someone messaged me on Twitter saying that George on GMA read one of my tweets about back to school. Surely that can’t be right, I thought. This person must have me confused with someone else.

I tuned in for a few minutes before getting the kids ready for school, but nothing. Then I rushed back home after drop off, knowing that I might have a chance to catch it, if it was true. So I got my phone ready (we don’t have a DVR anymore) and waited with my finger over the record button. And this is what happened…

It really was my tweet! I was shocked and elated! To say it made my day would be a massive understatement.

Immediately I sent the clip to my husband and my mom and awaited their reactions while doing a happy dance around the living room. They were so excited. Of course my husband asked what I got out of it and of course my mom said she watched it repeatedly and sent it to everyone in her phone.

While it’s true I didn’t “get” anything out of it (except for bragging rights) it taught me an important lesson that you shouldn’t hold back or edit yourself because you never know what might happen.

Twitter used to be a place where I could get my thoughts out without second-guessing myself, but the more my account grows, the more I doubt and question everything I write. I didn’t think this tweet was anything special, it was just a true account of something in my life. It made me laugh, but I knew it wouldn’t be overly popular, certainly not morning news program popular.IMG_1759

But that’s where I was wrong. Apparently it was morning news program popular and the crowd’s reaction, whether it was genuine or played up for the cameras, was very much appreciated. It gave me a boost of confidence and taught me not to doubt myself.

I soaked up every last second of psuedo-fame, knowing that the next morning I wouldn’t be featured on TV and it’d be back to doing dishes, packing lunches, and folding laundry…you know, all the things that inspire great tweets.

 

 

 

For the Love of God Eat Your Dinner

If there was an award for world’s pickiest eater, I would’ve held the title when I was growing up. It drove my mom to the edge, and now my daughter is exactly the same. There are a handful of things she’ll eat: peanut butter sandwiches, no jelly, just peanut butter, which isn’t crazy, but still, c’mon. She won’t eat hamburgers or hot dogs, but she’ll eat the buns and even dip them in ketchup which sounds repulsive, but I did it too when I was little. She’ll eat string cheese but not mac & cheese, no pizza, no grilled cheese, not even spaghetti. None of the “normal” things that kids eat. She’ll drink smoothies, and eat an entire carton of raspberries in one sitting, but god forbid she even try a tiny bite of potato or carrot. And forget eggs unless they’re baked into a cake.

The only thing that brings me hope is that I was the same, and today I eat way more than I did in my childhood. For me it was all about texture. I couldn’t eat anything slimy or chewy. There were many nights I had to sit at the dinner table alone because I refused to finish my pot roast or my broccoli smothered with mayonnaise…makes me gag just remembering. I used to tell my mom that certain foods gave me the shivers when I had to swallow them which makes me laugh now and think, god I was ridiculous and she must have been so frustrated with me. I’m ashamed to think of all the food I wasted.

I wish I could give my kids the three-course dinner gum from Willy Wonka minus the whole turning into a giant blueberry part. Somebody please make that happen while my kids are still young. It would make dinner time so much easier. I wouldn’t have to cook a meal that no one will eat while simultaneously keeping my kids from killing each other and burning down the house in the process.

It’s no wonder that there are people who love cooking and then there are parents.

 

And So It Begins…

The day my three year old started preschool was a momentous moment in my motherhood career. I was finally going to get a little break and a breather while she was at school for three glorious, whine-free hours. I wasn’t going to be one of those moms crying her eyes out because she couldn’t leave her child, but I was going to be one of those moms with tears of joy streaming down her face doing a happy dance of freedom.

happy dance

Just like this

The morning of my daughter’s first day, she got dressed, donned her horsey backpack, and stood in front of the fireplace to have her picture taken. Once she would finally listen to my direction, and I was able to get a good one, we then took another one standing by the front door. And another one next to the car. Now that I think about it, I was trying to stop time, capture every moment before she was officially a student.

Driving her to school, I was nervous. How would she do at drop off? She’d never been to daycare and had only been left with family members up until then. Would she cry and scream? Throw a tantrum? To calm my nerves, I turned on the music. And wouldn’t you know it, that damn Frozen soundtrack was playing. Of course it was on, Let it Go. Of course.

let it go

But not the movie version, the Demi Lovato version, which made it all even worse. My eyes filled with tears. What the hell was wrong with me? I told myself I wasn’t going to cry. And there I was driving my daughter to her first day of school, realizing that this was the beginning of the end, and she’d be off to college before I knew it. Which doesn’t sound all that bad now, but let’s face it, it’s terrible. I’ll be so old and exhausted by then, that is, if I even survive the teenage years.

It was not so long ago that my little girl was a little baby, and now she was going to school for the first time, and the enormity hit me like a gust of icy wind. Here I was releasing her into the real world, sending her off to make her own path, and it was too much to process. Luckily, whenever I get emotional and overwhelmed by the feelings of motherhood, my kids know just how to distract me by having a complete meltdown or needing one of their million needs met. They keep me from over-thinking things, or thinking things at all, really.

So by the time we pulled into the parking lot, my avalanche of emotion stopped short by their cries to get out of their seats, and I was able to collect myself. We went inside her classroom, only after taking more pictures outside the door. Everything went well. She didn’t cry, she wasn’t afraid, she was a little unsure, but it didn’t stop her from sitting at the table and playing with the freshly made playdough. It went better than I imagined. She was ready, the only thing I had to do was let. her. go. Oh god, here come the waterworks again. Damn hormones.

And so begins her journey to success, and Mummy’s journey to freedom.

Why I Cried

Why I Cried

 

Welcome to Parenthood, Check Your Life at the Door

At times, the first year of parenthood is a literal shitstorm. And on top of that, it’s a shitstorm of emotions.

Our lives change overnight. One minute we’re just a couple of normal, carefree people and the next we’re mothers and fathers in charge of a tiny infant who we want to have the very best life. But we’ve never done anything like this before, so we feel as though we’re screwing them up no matter what we do.

Now that my kids are toddlers, it’s hard for me to even remember the first year of parenthood. It’s all such a blur of random memories. Thank god for pictures because a lot of it has been lost to sleepless nights and crazy chaotic days or just my own self-preservation.

And speaking of pictures, #NewDad, is an awesome new picture book for adults.  A first time dad documents his journey into parenthood with humorous photographs and funny anecdotes that we, as parents, can all relate to. When I say “picture book” it’s almost like his Instagram account has jumped off the screen and into your hands. The opening page is a photograph of the author, Josh Gloer, resting his head on the steering wheel of his car while the caption reads, “Just took a nap…at a stoplight.”

newdadBeing a new parent is utterly exhausting and this sums up every parent’s life well beyond the newborn stage. You think  you’re just going to close your eyes for a brief respite, and the next thing you know, you’re drooling and a police officer is shaking you awake.

From being sprayed with spit-up, to “nailing” a work presentation with poop on his arm, to being in bed on a Friday night by 9 o’clock, Gloer captures the quintessential milestones in the life of a parent perfectly. Never do we feel more unprepared and more unsure of what to do when we become parents, but the best thing to remember is that we’ve all been there, it’s normal, and as Gloer puts it, “If you’re a #NewDad…you get it.”

Picture Perfect

It’s no surprise that my kids drive me crazy. They are the loudest, most demanding little soul-suckers that ever walked this earth. Couple that with my extreme fatigue and we’re just a shitstorm waiting to happen.

Whenever we visit my mom I have an out of body experience where I see myself as the frazzled, exhausted cliché of a mom that I’ve become. Wearing the typical “mom” uniform of crusty yoga pants and T-shirt, I vent to her about my frustrations and wonder how she survived motherhood without downing three bottles of wine a night.

It’s not always like this though. There are snippets in between the madness when everything is lovely. And those snippets are what I put on Instagram for my friends and family so they see the illusion of my “picture perfect” life.

beach scene

waves

running

While scrolling through all my photos it looks like my life is pretty great, and at times it is, but I never have the chance to sit back and reflect on it or even enjoy it because everything is so damn crazy!

However, this morning the girls and I sat at the desk and watched a slide show of old photos play across the computer screen.

holding handswalking away

snuggles

beach

I held one on my lap while the other leaned against us and we all smiled while I explained the pictures and for a couple minutes I was aware of my luck. Then the little one tried to propel herself onto the desk while the other one tried to smash the keyboard and just like that, it was all over.

Parenthood is exhausting and frustrating and beautiful and heartbreaking. I never realized that it would be living for these tiny, fleeting moments where everything comes together and breaks apart all in the same instant. It’s wanting to pause every happy moment and fast forward through the rest of the chaos. It’s wanting to keep them this way forever and wishing they were already grown up. It’s everything all at once and for this reason I’m happy to have my wineglass waiting for me at the end of the day.

wine