One or the Other

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There are few things more stressful than getting kids ready for school in the morning. I’ve even compared it to diffusing a bomb because if one little thing goes wrong, it could blow up the entire day.

From the moment we wake up, the timer on the time bomb starts ticking down until the final minute when we have to be ready with lunches packed, backpacks ready, and out the door. Oh! And then there are the minor details of the kids being fully clothed, fed, and cleaned up too!

The stressful part isn’t all the simple tasks that need to be done, it’s repeating the simple tasks over and over to children who don’t listen. If my kids actually listened maybe it’d be a different story. But no, they wait until I turn from this:

June-Cleaver

pillar of patience

into this:

willow monster

death monster spewing rage

You can’t have a good morning and be on time, it just doesn’t work that way. You must decide which is more important. For me, being on time is important and is the reason why I turn into a lunatic in the last couple minutes before we leave the house. I’m always hopeful that they know I don’t mean the things I say in these last two minutes. They’re not listening anyway, so I think I’m okay.

My good morning starts as soon as I drop them off at school and drive away. That’s when life gets easier for a few short hours, at least, easier in the sense that I’m not breaking up fights, serving snacks left and right, or looking for an obscure toy they haven’t played with in months.

Maybe we have a “good” morning every now and then where everything goes pretty smoothly and we still make it to school on time, but it takes a boatload of effort, not to mention a boatload of coffee. It also takes a lot of biting my tongue and grumbling my string of obscenities walking from one side of the car around to the other while the kids are inside deaf to my cursing. In other words, the stars have to be aligned, not to mention all the socks, shoes, and sweaters too, preferably right by the front door for ease of grabbing as the final countdown hits.

 

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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.

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.

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.

Making Memories

Memories have always been important to me, and now even more that I’m a parent. I’m always taking pictures of my kids, recording videos, trying to capture a specific moment in time. For what though? So we can show them when they’re older? Look here, see, you loved smearing food all over your face, and here’s the time you were running around the front yard naked. I guess it’s to remind ourselves of everything because we’re too busy living it to remember it.

It’s interesting what triggers our memories. The other day I saw a navy blue S that reminded me of going to the bank with my father when I was little. The bank’s logo was a blue S that somehow engrained itself in my memory and popped up out of nowhere. All of a sudden I was standing inside that dark, musty bank playing with the metal chain holding the pen in place at the counter, running my fingers down the felt ropes as we waited in line, and hopping on one foot to the other envisioning the donut I would soon select. I hadn’t thought about going to the bank with my father for 30 years, so it seemed like a strange thing to remember, but I was glad that this forgotten time and place came back to me. I didn’t even realize it was still in there, and all triggered by this random blue S.

We took our girls to see Inside Out awhile ago. It was the little one’s first trip to the movie theater, so naturally I committed it to memory. She loved it all: the popcorn, the fruit punch, and the giant TV, as she called it. Her little face was lit with excitement the entire time.

As much as the movie is about memories, it’s also about emotions —  joy, anger, disgust, fear, and sadness to be exact. Even though my girls are young, they’re walking, talking, screaming, fighting, loving bundles of emotion, so the movie thrilled and terrified me, giving me a look inside their crazy, little heads. I know as they get older things will only get more complicated and I should just enjoy this time where everything can be fixed with a snuggle. Way easier said than done.

As parents, we try so hard to give our children the best of everything thinking it will ensure an amazing upbringing. It’s one of the reasons why parenthood is so difficult because things aren’t always so easy and nothing ever really goes as planned and we worry too much. Writing this it dawned on me that what made going to the bank with my father special was not what we were doing, or that I got a donut out of the deal, but that I was with him, holding his hand, being his little sidekick. It all seems so simple then. Hold their hands, be with them, and they’ll remember that more than anything. And also, take them to get a donut every now and then.

 

 

Motherhood, Interrupted

We went, we selfied, we danced…because that’s what you do when you go to Las Vegas as a married mother of two.

Moms Gone Mild, Sin City 2014

My mom friends and I loaded up our Mom-mobile stocked with every snack and necessity known to man (cause we’re moms)…

before

On the Road

…not to mention practically every shoe from our closets (cause we’re girls)…

Never Enough Shoes

Never Enough Shoes

…and headed to Vegas this past weekend. None of us cared that the drive would take several hours, in fact, we welcomed it. We were happy to finish one conversation and only take care of ourselves. It didn’t matter what we were doing as long as it involved getting away from our children. We love them to death, but when you spend as much time with them as we do, you need a break. So that’s just what we got, and it was the best time ever!

My Girlz

My Girlz

We were able to forget the very thing that brought us all together in the first place (motherhood) and enjoy our freedom. We got our hair done, we shared clothes and jewelry, and never stopped talking or laughing. We danced the night away into the wee hours of the morning, (my feet still have the blisters to prove it.) Surprisingly, no one lost anything, except our voices, and there was not one moment of drama, but plenty of inside jokes and new dance moves.

Getting Down

Hershey Rollin’

For three stress-free days we didn’t have to be moms. We didn’t have to worry about the things we worry about on a daily basis, and it was exactly what the four of us needed. Now it’s back to our regularly scheduled lives of playdates, tantrums, and bedtimes, but for those three days when motherhood was interrupted, man, did we live it up.

Cheeeeese!

Cheeeeese!

What I Love About Motherhood

My mom has told me repeatedly that babies are cute for a reason…it keeps us (parents) going. With all my complaining about motherhood because I’m exhausted and beat down I decided to write a quick list of the moments that keep me going and to maybe prove to you that I do indeed love my children.

The Top 10  Moments I Love the Most

1) When they’re quietly reading books together

2) When they’re napping

3) When they hug each other

4) When they’re napping

5) When they wrap their little arms around my legs

6) When they’re napping

7) When they smile for no other reason but they see me

8) When they’re napping

9) When their laughter is the only sound in the whole entire house

10) When they’re napping… for the night and I don’t have to hear them for 12 glorious hours (if I’m lucky)

Obviously there are a million other things I love about my children (and a million other things that drive me absolutely insane too) but I thought if they ever come across my ramblings then maybe they won’t hate me as much if I throw a sappy one in there every now and again.