Tag Archives: mom

Before I Was A Mom…

 

…crying children were like nails on a chalkboard. Now? I frantically search until I find the source to make sure a parent is there taking care of the distraught little one.

…I slept as late as I wanted to on the weekends, which wasn’t very late, but still. I slept until I wanted to get up. Now? Wake up call in our house is 6am. Every day. Every. Single. Day.

…my husband and I could have a little romp in the hay, mid-afternoon, take a little nap afterwards and do it all over again. Now? We have to schedule time. And then keep/remember/have the energy for “the date.” Afterwards we say, “Mmmmm. That was nice. Let’s not wait 3 months for the next time, k?”

…having the money to go out was no big deal. We did what we felt like. When we felt like it. Now? We have to tack on $40-50 more to the budget for the babysitter. Ouch!

…I always remembered to shave my legs. Now? Please don’t look!

…I had seen every single Best Picture nominee for the Academy Awards. Printed out my ballots and threw a big bash so we could eat popcorn and Twizzlers and comment on the tuxes, dresses, and  speeches. Now? Do they still have those awards shows? After our nightly Curious George episode our tv is off.

…I loved my husband. Now? I adore, cherish, am continually amazed by, LOVE my husband. He is such a wonderful father.

…hugs were nice. Now? Hugs are sticky, slimy, sweet smelling, cozy little wonders all day long.

…my skin was fresh with not a wrinkle in sight. Now? I’ve earned every single “laugh line” quite honestly. My children set me into a fit of giggles at least once a day.

…I wondered how I was going to make a difference in the world. Now? I’m shaping the future with my bare hands.

(Sorry for the re-run. My sister is in town (for 10 days!) and she doesn’t even know I blog. And I’m not telling her now. So, I’m going to be a bit scarce. I’ll try to sneak online but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorite posts. Enjoy your week!)

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Filed under children, Moms, Motherhood

And A Zen Mother’s Day To You!

image from the New York Daily News

May you find some zen, some quiet, some relaxation this Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day to all my favorite moms out there!

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Filed under Holiday

The #1 Little Piece Of Information NOT To Share With Your Child

It was a feminist literature class. On the contemporary reading list was The Joy Luck Club. A book chock full of mother/daughter relationships.

The assignment?

An interview with your mother.

The questions we were required to ask were predictable. How did you meet my father? Why did you choose marriage at that time in your life? What was your life like before kids? How far did you take your education? What did you learn from your mother about parenting?

What was your reaction when you heard you were pregnant with me?

“Defeat.”

Huh? Did I hear her right? Did she really say defeat?

Uh. Yes.

She did.

I knew I didn’t really want to hear any more. A glutton for punishment, I asked her to explain.

“Well. When I married your father I knew I wanted to go to college. He wanted to start a family right away. So I made a deal with him. We would have sex one night in the month of March. He could pick the night. If I got pregnant, fine. We’d start having kids. If not, I could start school.”

Oh.

“I was looking through college catalogs and I felt a little sick to my stomach. Then I realized I was a few days late for my period. I knew your father had won. So I threw the catalogs in the trash and here you are.”

A consolation prize?

“You know. I never wanted to be a mother. But that’s what was expected of me. So I did it.”

Four times. What were you thinking?

“You kids kept me from getting my degree for 10 years. But, I eventually got it. So I guess it all worked out, right?”

Uh. No.

It didn’t.

Your response explains a lot. It explains the heavy sighs. The crabby days. How we always seemed in your way. Why we all scurried every time you came home. Your nightly vodka tonics. How some days you could barely look at us.

But it didn’t work out.

Not for me, anyway.

And when you completely forgot my birthday this year? No card. No phone call.

At least now.

I know why.

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Filed under Moms, Motherhood

My Baby Is Heading Off To College. Help!

My baby. My sweet, adorable angel. My amazing little girl is heading off for college. College? Seriously? Oh, how I feel like my grandmother when I say this but here goes….Where DID the time go?

I love being a mother.

Wait.

Did I just say “love?”

I ADORE being a mother.

It has been, hands down, that absolute best job I have ever had. No commute time. Loads of benefits. Company car. My coffee breaks aren’t timed. I can take a lunch whenever I want. No company parties to attend. Free daycare. Casual dress code.

And, I’m my own boss. (Well, most of the time.)

But it’s one of the rare jobs out there with a limited lifespan and forced retirement. Oh sure, I’m still her mother. But no longer the day-to-day chef, nurse, chauffeur, laundress and maid.

Hmmmmm. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.

As much as I’ve complained about picking up after her, attending to her crisis-of-the-week, cooking the dreaded tuna noodle casserole (her favorite), I’m going to miss that little stinker.

She is bubbly and bright. A stinging sense of humor. She quick with a witty comment or a heartfelt hug  just when you need it. She entertains her little brothers for hours on end. She has the magic touch when they are sad or frustrated.

I am going to miss her. So much. Four hours away seems like forever away.

My heart is aching and excited for her, all in the same beat. Such a pivotal and exciting chapter in her life. But I’ll be on the sidelines, with binoculars, from oh-so-far-away, watching and cheering. I’d like to think it is going to be a pivotal and exciting chapter for me, too.

But right now?

I just miss her so much.

 

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Filed under children, Growing Up, Motherhood

Selective Memory – Crazy or Coping Mechanism?

I have selective memory. It drives my husband crazy. It drives me crazy sometimes.

For example…

This past Mother’s Day was wonderful. One of the best ever. And my husband was an absolute angel, treated me like a queen. When my sister asked me how my Mother’s Day was, I told her it was fantastic.

I asked her how her’s was. Less than fantastic. In fact, it was horrible and it all started on Saturday night when her husband….

Oops. Wait. I remember now. Mine wasn’t so hot. Well, it was, but it didn’t start out that way.

(Let’s play a little Mad Libs, shall we?)

You see, on Saturday, my husband decided to (insert activity) even though I asked him not to. It was something he does (time reference) and I usually have no problem with it. In fact, I never have a problem with it. But it was Mother’s Day weekend and it was sure to (verb) with Sunday. He did it anyway. So at (insert time of day) when he decided to (insert activity) and it (past tense verb) me, I was more than ticked. Mother’s Day started off with a (adjective.)

But the rest of the day was great. Fantastic. Magical, even.

My Pollyanna brain chooses to focus on the magical and forget the awful 24 hours preceeding Mother’s Day. Simple as that. It keeps me sane.

But there is something about my selective memory that really bother me. It eats away at me. It’s a nagging thorn in my parenting manual. What about my childhood memories of my mother?

I try. I really, really try, to remember the positive. You’d think, with my Pollyanna approach, the positive would be all I’d remember. But I can’t. I have fuzzy images of her smiling or laughing – but it either feels forced or it’s in a large group and she’s putting on her show.

There are pictures of her reading to us. But the only memory I have of her reading to me involves us cuddled together on an oversized chair while she lets me have sips of her White Russian (at age 5).

By the time I was a teenager I had learned the art of manipulation. My mother is a shopper. And when you’re in her good graces, she buys you stuff. Lots of stuff. And my parents had the money to buy us lots and lots of stuff. I remember a few shopping trips with me finagling some pretty pricey items (leather jacket, designer jeans, cashmere sweater, jewelry) because I was “Golden Girl” for that week. I was happy in that moment. But the little black cloud of being indebted to her makes that happiness fleeting.

I try. I rack my brain, picturing kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th grade, 9th grade. Nothing. She is absent from any real memories. I can see my dad. My grandparents. I see my cousins, aunts. No mom. And if I do see her she has her arms folded over her chest and she’s glaring.

What childhood memories do I have?

Testing the waters each day to gauge the mood she was in and wondering if this was the day I could ask her about: going to a friend’s party, staying after school for a project, going to the mall or a movie.

Making vodka tonics for her when she got home from work, waiting anxiously for the bad mood to pass and her “couldn’t care less” attitude to take hold.

Keeping my three younger sisters quiet because she was studying or she was sleeping or she was sick.

My mother pulling my sister by the hair to get her to do something.

Laughing when we flinched if she made a sudden move, thinking we were about to be slapped.

The way she would barge into our room with such force, without knocking or calling out, and how we’d jump three feet into the air, hearts pounding.

Fists through the wall. Broken glass. Slamming doors.

Yelling. Lots of yelling.

Silence. Tip-toeing. Daring not to disturb the sleeping giant.

Because I have so few happy memories with my own mother I am panicked that I’m not creating them with my own children. I quiz my daughter, acting as if it’s a light-hearted exercise, “What’s your favorite memory of you and I when you were in grade school?” or “What’s a favorite vacation we took when you were little?”

The exercise is two-fold. I’m trying to reassure myself that I AM doing a good job. That I’m not repeating my mother’s mistakes. But I’m also trying to ingrain these positive memories, praying that she doesn’t forget the good times.

This is a part of me I’m not proud of. This insecurity I carry is unattractive and stifling. But I can’t seem to let it go. It keeps me focused. It keeps me from repeating negative behaviors.

And I desperately pray, it keeps the good childhood memories flowing for my precious angels.

(This post is part of the Five For Ten project at Momalom. Please visit their site for more wonderful posts on Memory. Or click the button below to find out how YOU can participate!)

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Filed under children, Growing Up, Moms, Motherhood, parenting

Yep, I’m THAT Mom

Midway through  my daughter’s gymnastics career I was waiting with the other moms for her practice to finish. One of the mothers asked me a question about the upcoming meet. Before I could answer, her 6 year old son piped up, “Mom, what are you asking her for? You said she never knows anything!” Gasp. The other moms stopped talking. Some were stiffling a giggle. But who could blame him? or her? It was true.

When my daughter was trying out for another team – a much more competitive team with coaches from Russia and practices 4 hours a day, 4-5 days a week in a gym one hour from our home – another mother at the try-out introduced herself to me. We chatted for a while and then she asked, “Does she have her kip?” I asked, “What’s a kip?” She smiled with satisfaction –  convinced my daughter would never make it. Then she asked me to point her out. I did. They were on the uneven bars and evidently, my daughter had her kip. I watched the mom’s face fall.

I used to be a competitive swimmer. And then I coached competitive swimming. I’ve dealt with many a pushy parent. Armchair coaches, we called them. The ones that saw a few races on television during the Olympics, but never swam a day in their life and thought they knew everything. I prayed that my daughter would chose a sport that wasn’t competitive swimming. I wanted her to choose a sport I knew absolutely nothing about.

And she did.

I was thrilled. And she turned out to be pretty good. Then, at the top of her game, she quit.

Off to another sport I knew nothing about. Rowing. I love the water but I knew absolutely nothing of this sport. And the kind of boats? I just had to look up on Wikipedia what kind she raced. K-1 and K-2. But it was so much fun to watch.

And then she discovered a sport I didn’t even know was a sport. Competitive Cheerleading. I had to do everything in my power to keep a poker face when she told me she wanted to try out for the squad. Cheerleading? A sport? Whoop-de-doo. Learn a few chants. Let someone stand on your shoulders. Do a few cartwheels. That’s hardly a sport.

Boy, was I in for an education!

Not only is it a sport, it’s a very dangerous sport. Sixty-five percent of all catastrophic injuries to young women in high school involves cheerleading. You better believe once I heard this statistic I educated myself about this sport. Back in my day doing a cartwheel or a round-off got you on the squad. Now? At my daughter’s school it’s required that you have a standing back tuck. On top of that you need: round off back handspring front layout, round off back handspring full, strength training, dance skills and the ability to stunt. I was thrilled that when she made the squad her position was a base. I did not want her to be a flyer (that’s the one that gets tossed 30 feet in the air.) When we went for her physical her doctor asked what position she was. When I expressed my relief that she wasn’t a flyer the doctor smiled and told me she sees more injuries from the other positions (broken noses, broken clavicles, dislocated elbows and shoulders). What has she gotten into?

Before I signed anything (and you better believe there are release forms for this sport!) I spoke with the coach. She’s a former gymnast and competitive cheerleader, certified, trained and educated. They go to another gym for tumbling where again, they are certified. I breathed a tiny sigh of relief. She’s in her third year and so far, so good.

But beyond me checking out the safety of her coaches, gym and squad I still know very little about the sport. We just returned from the state championships and they made it to finals. A couple of the moms and I were sitting with the coaches at lunch after sectionals. I asked a question. Evidently, a bit of a dumb question. I saw those knowing glances all over again between the moms as the head coach patiently answered me.

I will never be one of those moms that sits in the stands with her pen and schedule, making notes on the other squads, counting how many fell, how many stepped off the mat, how many didn’t complete a stunt. I have no idea how to rank them, how many points are deducted for a fall or what the judges are looking for. I had to ask my daughter a few moments ago to tell me the names of the things she does during her tumbling run. She gave me that look, too.

But that’s ok. I will be my daughter’s cheerleader. I will watch diligently from the stands with eyes on her praying she doesn’t get hurt. I still know less than half of the girl’s names on her squad. I know she gets annoyed whenever I ask, “Now, who is Chelsea?” for the 50th time. But that’s ok. I’m there for her. I’m so proud of the hard work she puts into this sport. It’s a team sport that still showcases her amazing gymnastics ability. Her work ethic is fantastic. She performs in front of thousands of people. She is a consistent athlete. And she loves her teammates. I can’t ask for anything more.

 (Not our squad but an example of what a competitive squad does from last year’s championships)

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Filed under Moms, Motherhood, Observations

What Do You Do With A Goofy Sailor?

Our youngest, age 5, has become a little too comfortable in his classroom of late and his teacher brought it to our attention. I asked her to text me with updates. It’s been well over a week since we talked so I thought things were going well. Yesterday morning we received our first text from her.

“#2son has needed constant redirection and has been excessively silly today. Have a great weekend! – Mrs. Wonderful”

I begin to laugh. And then I think, there’s some great blog fodder in here, I know it. But I’m laughing too hard to type.

First, let me say #2son’s teacher truly is wonderful. I love her to death and she is perfect for our son, hence the name Mrs. Wonderful.

But there’s this part of me that wants to say, then deal with him. What can I do about it from home?

Then there’s the part of me that wants to do what my friend suggested and text her back with “Well, then TGIF, right?”

Then there’s another part of me that knows exactly, EXACTLY, what she’s dealing with and I’m with her – what can we do about it?

And still another part of me is still cracking up over the quick little sentence closed with “Have A Great Weekend!”

#2son is the class clown. And adorable. And sweet, imaginative and funny. Needs redirection? All. The. Time. Excessively silly? You betcha. He wants to be an actor. He performs in front of the mirror constantly. He is continually in Imaginary Land. His world is punctuated with sound effects. One day he’s fighting aliens. Or a sailor on the high seas standing on the couch with his spyglass looking for shark. The next day he’s a pirate, or Yoda, or Spiderman (especially funny when I see him trying to adhere to the walls).

 

When he got into the car at carpool I asked him how his day was. “Good,” he replied. That’s not what Mrs. Wonderful said, I told him. “Oh,” he said. Long dramatic pause. Then he said, “Well, it sure was good to ME!”

See what I mean? I started laughing all over again.
Thank goodness my husband is the disciplinarian in our family. Obviously, I’m not cut out for this.

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Filed under children, funny, Motherhood, parenting

The Not-So-Secret Ingredient

One of my hobbies is cooking. I wish it were something I appreciated and enjoyed when my grandmothers were alive because they each had some amazing recipes, techniques and food stories I would so enjoy learning about today. I watch cooking shows. I sit down and just read cookbooks. Friends and family seem to enjoy what I prepare. And I receive requests for certain specialties.

One of my specialties is my cranberry relish. My family requests it at every holiday. My sister and I love it when there are leftovers. We sit together at the kitchen table, each with a spoon, and share the bowl, all on its own.

My mother doesn’t enjoy cooking. She’s not a bad cook – it just isn’t her thing. Every time she asks me to share the recipe (which I know she’ll never make)  I say, “No. It’s a family secret.” Of course, I’m teasing. She argues that she IS family. She tries to get it from other family members. And she spends time guessing what is in it. She gets all of the ingredients right, except for one. Now I’ve shared this recipe with other members of the family; all people I know will make it themselves. I’ve even given it to fundraiser cookbooks for our school and church. It’s not a very complicated recipe. Just very, very yummy. My mother has watched me make it before. She’s even seen the “secret” ingredient as I’ve chopped it up and put it in the bowl. But, still, she pretends to forget what it is and we do the dance all over again when we’re eating our turkey or ham and the bowl gets passed around and is practically licked clean.

The funny thing about this recipe is it used to be much more complicated. But one particular holiday I was visiting my sister and things were crazy. Between the two of us we had 4 children running around under the age of 5. Our husbands were out doing guy things. We had so many people coming over and I decided to take a major short cut. I would use canned whole cranberry sauce (horrors!) instead of starting from scratch. That particular year there were no leftovers. Everyone claimed it was the best batch ever. I’ve never gone back.

 ginger3

1. Open up a can of whole cranberry sauce. Pour into bowl.

2. Add to the bowl: 1 finely chopped thin skinned orange (the whole orange, including the skin. If your skin is a little thick just add less skin), 1 cup golden raisins…..and for the not-so-secret-ingredient….2-3 T. finely chopped crystallized ginger (to taste — I like more rather than less).

3. Mix well and refrigerate for 24 hours. This step is very important as it allows all the flavors to meld.

4. Enjoy! We serve this all year round with turkey, ham, roast chicken and pork.

(The inspiration for this post came from this wonderful blog: http://countryfriedmama.com/)

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Filed under Holiday, Recipe

I Thought I Knew

I taught a high school composition course and one semester, the way the schedule fell, there were only females in the class. Can you imagine? Well, I suppose you can if you teach in an all-girls school but this was a dream class for me. And since it was a private school I had a bit of leeway with the curriculum. So with a snip here and a stitch there I tailored the class for young women. It was an amazing semester. Full of women’s literature, women’s essays and short stories. They wrote and wrote and wrote and it was great fun. And true to my collaborative style THEY came up with an assignment: Interview our mothers and then write about the responses, how we felt about their responses, what we expected and how we were surprised. And then they added one more requirement. I had to participate, as well.

I was in my mid 20’s and had a co-dependant, close relationship with my mother. Secretly, I knew I was the favorite of her 4 daughters. I thought I knew her inside and out. I wouldn’t even have to call her. I knew how she would respond.

The questions all revolved around how our mothers approached relationships with boyfriends, parents, husbands and children. We would interview our mothers and then report as a group some of our findings before we sat down to write.

I called my mother, told her about the assignment and began asking questions.

Q. So, Mom. Why did you marry Dad?    A. Because I knew he’d be a good provider.

What?!? Didn’t you love him? Didn’t you love how funny he was , cute, endearing, fun to be around? I was stunned. She was very matter of fact. She said she grew to love him but no, she wasn’t really in love at first. She just wanted to get out of the house and go to college – which her parents didn’t want her to do. They felt college for a woman was a waste of time. She knew he loved her and he was college educated. That was enough for her.

Q. How did you and Dad decide to have me?    A. Your Dad wanted kids and I didn’t. I wanted to go to school. So I gave him one night during my fertile time and if I got pregnant I’d be a mom. If I didn’t, I’d go to nursing school.

Guess what? She got pregnant. With me. And then 3 others in the span of 3 years. At one point she had 4 children age 3 and under (the two youngest were twins.) How’s that for karma?

Looking back, after years of getting over my stunned reaction, it makes so much sense now. She resented all of us. She resented how we kept her from getting the career she wanted, when she wanted it. She did, eventually, go to school and become a very fine intensive care nurse. Once we were all in school, when society deemed it acceptable for her to have something of her own, she went to school. And worked nights. And left us to take care of each other. In elementary school, I made all of our lunches and would envy the kids who went home after school to a mom complete with milk and cookies. By the 6th grade I was making dinners for the family. I taught 6th grade one time (never again!) and do you know how tiny they are? Granted, we ate a lot of spaghetti, french toast and scrambled eggs, “Madhatter Meatballs” from the kid’s Betty Crocker cookbook – the few things I could make. But still.

I used to say I wouldn’t be the woman I am now if it weren’t for my mother. Back then I was talking about the person that made school a priority, lived an independent life. But now I see that my crusade to make sure EVERY child is wanted stems more from her example than anything else. I made a conscious decision to adopt. I made a conscious decision to have a biological child. I’ve welcomed foster children into my home. I preach birth control because no innocent child should have to be a “consequence” of your actions. I pray for a world where abortion is unnecessary.

I had no idea where that conviction to “save the children” came from. Until now.

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The Dad He Used To Be

When I got the idea for this post I tore the house apart to find a particular picture of me and my dad. It’s a favorite of mine. I was about 18 years old, walking down the street, holding hands with my dad and my grandfather. My two favorite men in my life at the time. I couldn’t find it. So I said, well, I’ll just find another one. And then I realized. There ISN’T another one. My dad is still alive. I’m in my 40’s and I don’t have another picture of him and me.

Now I believe that every family is dysfunctional. What distinguishes us from other families is the degree of dysfunction. Ours has its fair share. My mother has Borderline Personality Disorder. She is high functioning. When we were kids, friends would tell us how much they admired our family. My sister and I would look at each other like they were nuts! Seriously? You’d enjoy not being spoken to for days? Being pulled around by your hair? Getting in trouble for leaving 2 kernels of corn in the sink? Testing the “waters” every morning to gauge the mood? Doing everything in your power to make sure Mom was happy? Because we all know — if Mom ain’t happy then nobody is happy. That was never more true than in our house.

When I was young my dad was good at diffusing the “situations.”  He’d say, “She’ll get over it.” He’d calm her down – sometimes. And if that didn’t work  he’d take us out of the house for awhile. As a result, we were able to develop a relationship with him. He’d take us fishing. To baseball games. I learned about songs he liked. Heard  stories about him growing up. When we moved out of the house things began to change.

I guess because he no longer had his daughters as a distraction he began falling under my mom’s spell. Things that angered her now angered him. The whole cycle of putting someone on a pedestal, worshipping everything about them and then tearing them down and throwing them in the dog house – he follows now, too. My mother, ever so impressed with titles, would brag about their neighbor “the Supreme Court Judge.” (Before you start guessing who – not the Federal Supreme Court,  the State Supreme Court) Anyway, then she was telling me a story about the Spinster next door and I said, “Wait. I know about the Supreme Court Judge neighbor but who is the Spinster?” And she said, “The Supreme Court Judge IS the Spinster. But she’s not really a Supreme Court Judge anymore. She’s retired.”

I envy my friends who have lunch with their dads. Talk to them on the phone without someone listening in. When my parents lived closer any time I’d stop in to see my dad at the coffee house he ran he’d hurry and call my mom to join us. Oh, I could do things alone with my mom. But I couldn’t with my dad anymore. She’d get so jealous. She’d accuse us of loving him more than her. And to survive her wrath my dad gives in to her demons. I once asked him whatever happened to the man who used to say “She’ll get over it?” He rolled his eyes and said, “That’s minimizing her feelings.”

I read in a self help book on BPD that spouses and children often take on the traits of their partner/parent and can become BPD themselves. My sister and I ran in the other direction as fast as we could. We constantly check in with each other, a barometer of sorts, assuring ourselves that we’re making sane choices with our husbands and children.

I miss my dad. But I’ve come to realize I miss the dad he used to be. Or at least, the one I thought he was.

(I still can’t find that picture. But I promise, if I do, I’ll post it with this entry.)

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