Friday, April 20, 2012

Why Can't We Be Friends?

There has been a lot of judgement in the press lately. Especially judgement against mothers. Which type of mother is the best? Stay at home or working outside of the home? Can you even consider a stay at home mother as having a job in the technical sense? All I know is there is a lot of debating and hard feelings being created by the very people who should be standing by each other: mothers. No matter what we have that in common.

Most of the time motherhood is a thankless and exhausting job. Honestly it is voluntary servitude with moments of pure bliss and satisfaction. Most of the time I only appreciate my mothering moments when I look back upon them months or often years later. Day to day, I just try to survive and manage and then feel guilty that I have wished away another day.

I really can't say which form of motherhood is best because I have really only lived one: working out of the home (is the the PC term now? I can't keep up and no matter how hard I try, I offend someone.). I love being a mother. I love my girls and my husband. I just don't always feel like I'm doing a good job (see 90% of my blog posts). From my point of view, I am usually torn in two or more directions giving half of myself to either one. Everyday feels like a life or death decision. Every turn I make, I worry that I am making a choice that will harm my children irrevocably. It probably doesn't help that I spend my day with other people's children. Children that I can be more patient with than my own. In a haze of sleep deprivation, trying to decide whether to stay home with my sick child, feels like Sophie's Choice (I'm dramatic when I am tired).

Mothers as a general group don't get much respect. A child gets hurt or does something foolish and people ask "Where was his mother?" When Rob stayed home with Caroline as a toddler, he was praised by stay at home mothers for bringing her to school dressed with barrettes in her hair. When I picked her up, it suddenly would become obvious that she was dressed in something foolish like shorts in December and her barrettes were crooked. Those same mothers would look at me like I had lost my mind and should have my Mommy Card revoked. Or did they? Was it really them or my paranoia?

I started blogging was to vent and share my funny little stories. What I discovered is this is a way to give a "I hear you, sister!" and some "That'a girls" to other mothers. I think I am really the only one judging me and truly, who the heck am I to judge anyone. It doesn't matter how we do it, the ultimate outcome is we are creating and leading the next generation. In the long run it isn't going to matter how we fed them as babies or where they slept. It won't matter if we were home all day or only at night. What matters is did we teach them to be kind. Did we love them? We are all mothers regardless of title. Don't you think that it is time we offered each other some kind words? "Way to clean up that poopy diaper! No one grounds a teenager like you! You go sister! I've got your back."

Sole Comfort

At this late stage in the game I am beginning to understand why shoes make so many women happy. I have never been into shoes before. Mostly due to the fact that I can't/won't wear heels. I even wore sneakers to my wedding. Honestly I am too clumsy for heel and I would rather wear comfortable shoes. Unfortunately, in my youth I chose poorly. Sure China flats and moccasins were comfy, but they wrecked havoc on my knees, arches, and heels. Now in my middle age, I am strictly a "healthy" shoe person. Clarks, Birks, Naots.... ahhhh! Not only are these shoes comfortable, they come in super cute styles (and super high prices). I've taken to pursing online shoe catalogs, drooling and dreaming all the way. Of course Facebook is tracking these visit and tempting me with even more sites to visit. Well, it beats eating chocolate.

Monday, April 16, 2012

I am Not a Wino

Oh my goodness! Yesterday Lily and I were sitting at my mom's house chatting with my sister in law and the subject of wine came up. Lily very sweetly puts her hand on mine and says (no silliness at all) "You drink wine, Mommy, when you aren't feeling well. And... you drink it in a wine glass! ( as opposed to what, the bottle? An empty Big Gulp cup?)" My sister in law choked back her laughter and I quipped "Oh my goodness, what things do you think that she tells her teacher?" (remember this is the kid who told her first grade teacher that she didn't want to go to her mommy's school because there was too much head lice there.). Lily looks at me in shock and replies "Mom, I wouldn't talk about wine at school; that's not a school topic." Not to be left out, Caroline strolls in and adds something to the effect of you are funny when you drink wine. Well, I can see that one. For example Friday night after an extremely long week, I had one glass and followed that with Peeps and Fun Dip (don't knock it 'til you've tried it). I guess after that I was a little punchy. I think Caroline is also remembering her uncle's wedding when I had a few glasses and told the kids they could "have as much cake as they wanted." By the way, I think Lily's fascination with the wine glass comes from the fact that I still use the wine glasses that Rob and I bought in 1994 at Walmart. Does anyone remember the glasses that had a clear glass top and blue glass stem? Well, Lily thinks they are gorgeous and not at all dated or tacky.

The truth is it takes me a month or more to finish one bottle. I am such a light weight, that I been known to get buzzed after half a margarita. I think that it is funny that my girls have collected these "Mom and her wine" stories. It is probably because it is one of the few times they get to see me when I am not checking off a list or barking orders.

It makes me wonder what other amusing stories they have collected about me. Do I amuse them as much as they amuse me? Highly doubtful!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Put On a Happy Face

I remember learning in psychology 101 that smiling releases endorphins which tricks your brain into feeling happy. These days, I must look like quiet a sight to those who are in the surrounding cars during my commute to and from school. I drive along on auto pilot, drinking jasmine green tea, listening to loud rock music, and smiling all the way. I don't have another choice. I don't feel very happy right now, so by golly, I'll fake it. I am lucky that I get to spend most of my day working with children. They have a way of moving your focus off of yourself. The flip side is I go home to my own personal child who wants the focus on her and her alone.

Lily is definitely going through something right now. I spend so much time arguing with her. She won't cave. I ask her to clean her room and she responds "make me." It is enough to make me want to spank her, but I know that will get me nowhere. What it does get her is timeout. She's spent a lot of time in timeout in her room. I know that this will pass.

I have some odd ways of dealing with stress and melancholy. I tend to gravitate towards very bittersweet books. I don't even hunt for them. I pull a book off the shelf and it matches my mood and current situation. I can fake happy all day, but at night I can dive into sadness. There is nothing wrong with being sad, as long as you don't let it take you over. Towards the end of this week I did feel like it was in danger of taking me over, but today has been better. I got some sleep for one thing. I didn't get much else done, though. All of that cleaning that I did last week is gone now.

Not only did I spend last week tricking myself into feeling happy, I was super mom. I was an unbelievably efficient organized working robot mother. That explains the tiredness.

I don't know how long this will go on. I just need to go one day at a time and do the best that I can each day. I end the day trying to focus on what I was able to get done and being thankful for my blessings. I am not always successful, but practice makes perfect.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

She Who Must Get Things Done

In times of stress I become brutally efficient. It doesn't make for a fun vacation (it's spring break), but it does ensure that the world doesn't come crashing down around us. Unfortunately, once I am in that mode, it is hard to switch off. I become She Who Must Be Obeyed and Must Not Be Crossed. During times like this Lily counters by turning into She Who Will Not Be Denied or Ignored.

My efficiency comes from my mother's side of the family. Lily's attention seeking comes from my father's. Together it is like gasoline and matches. I clearly remember my father emerging from the bathroom with his head shaved completely bald the evening of my grandparent's 50th anniversary party. I also remember shaking my head in shock and my step-mother referring to him by a name that starts with an a and ends with an e. In hind sight, I know he wasn't trying to piss us off. He was nervous and it got out of hand. I really can't put how I understand it into words. I just get it now. This knowledge has kept me from throttling Lily this week. She doesn't mean to be so obnoxious, she just doesn't know what to do. I, on the other hand, am too dang tired to deal with her.
I have this intense need to organize this place. It took an entire day to clear out her bedroom. The end result was three trash bags, three donation boxes, and three Advils for Mommy. Not only does Lily take after my father, she takes after my paternal grandmother. My grandmother could not throw anything away. After her death, we found closets full of unseen photos and mementos, all along side of scraps of felt and half finished craft projects, all of which had been nibbled by mice. Lily's room was very much like Gramma's closet. As I was throwing away broken bits of toys and scraps of paper, Lily kept peering over my shoulder and hissing "What was that?! I might need that!" I almost snapped at her "Gramma, calm down, I'm not throwing away anything important!"

Luckily, the rest of the time the weather has been beautiful and I have been able to send her outside.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stop The World, I Want Some Sleep!

Sometimes I wonder if it ever gets easier. Do you ever reach a moment when you can sit in pure contentment and feel that it has been a job well done? My To Do List has reached novel like proportions. I really don't think that it is every going to be finished. I am trying to be all things to all members (dog included) of this household and my school and honestly I feel that I am doing it poorly. Although show me a mother who feels that she is doing well and I'll show you a delusioned liar.
Things have been rough around here. Emotions are high and so is stress. I am standing here in the middle trying to keep things calm and diffuse potential battles. I am beginning to think that the first person who started small talk about the weather was a mother. Mothers can turn anything into a conversation: the blooms on the tree, an interesting cloud, the antics of a squirrel, or the next meal.
Unfortunately, my high energy youngest child does not handle stress well. Stress tends to amplify her personality quirks. When I am tired, what I normally find charming is mind numbing and grating. She has been openly defying me. No amount of punishment in the world seems to be making a bit of difference. I am so torn right now, I want her to mind, but I also don't want to wish away these last sweet moments of her childhood.
I am trying to do my best right now. I feel like I have been phoning it in lately. Next week, is Easter and Caroline's 14th birthday. I am going to try my best to make both events appropriately memorable. Provided Lily still isn't grounded.