More Pie to Share

Sometimes one of the hardest things about becoming a parent is feeling like you have given up a big part of yourself that you used to share with your spouse. Before children, I had the time and mental energy to be a better partner and friend. I used to cook real food, host more parties and be more than a hot mess of being annoyed and cranky with anyone who comes into my line of sight. Now it seems like most of myself goes into being a mom and all that goes with it, and my husband and I are more like co-workers in this asylum. By the time the inmates are asleep, we’re ready to clock out.

sliverWith every child who’s come along, it feels like the “pie” that is me gets cut into smaller and smaller pieces with the lion’s share going to our kids and mere slivers remaining for my husband and me. The kids get all the whipped cream, cherries and yummy goodness. All that’s left is some forlorn soggy crust and some crumbs (and of course a mess for me to clean up.)

It’s easy for me to complain about how much parenthood can suck, but sometimes I need to stop and take a step back. I’m always reminding my kids that the things in life that are the hardest and take the most work and practice, are usually the things that end up giving us the most joy and satisfaction in the end. Things like learning to read, ride a bike, or to play an instrument or sport — all take a lot of work, frustration and falls along the way. But the sense of accomplishment in the end and the joy these things can continue to give us the rest of our lives is worth it all.

I need to remind myself that parenting is the same way. Right now I’m in the throes of the hard, frustrating work that it takes to raise kids who hopefully will one day be amazing, independent, intelligent, caring adults who will change their piece of the world for the better. Believe me, there are days when it feels like I’ll never make it through and I’m just raising a bunch of future serial killers. But then I look at the great things they are doing — like working hard at school and being a kind person, to feeding themselves and properly using the bathroom…well some things are still a work in progress… but they’re well on their way.

But this still doesn’t address the problem of no pie left for my husband and me. Pie is good, and not having enough pie in life makes for a cranky person. So on Saturday, he and I had a “date day” and it was wonderful. We went to see “The Post” (it was fantastic and very thought provoking.) While seeing the movie was great, I think my favorite part was the time before and after it. Just getting to ride in the car and talk with him uninterrupted, not having to break up an argument or answer “Are we there yet??” Instead we were able to catch up on what was going on in our lives — more than what we normally get to do in the evening when we’re both exhausted. We sat and enjoyed coffee together, had an insightful conversation about the movie, laughed a lot and actually reminded ourselves that we still like each other! Instead of just bitching about the insanity of life, to-do lists, the kids doing shitty things and being tired — we were able to step back and laugh about the funny and great things the inmates are doing. It was refreshing to take a breath together.

img_20150917_144558422_hdr-1.jpgI’ve come to the realization that instead of just cutting up the pie into smaller pieces, maybe I just need to make more pie. Having the babysitter come and getting away with my husband was well worth it and filled me up — it gave me more pie to share. While my children do need to be the main focus of my life right now, I know I need to be better about taking care of the other important relationships in my life. I mean if I had a job at an office, I would probably get at least 2 weeks of paid vacation. The purpose of vacation is to relax and recharge. When companies encourage their employees to take time off, they benefit by not having a workforce of grumpy, unproductive and burned out employees. So why don’t I take more time off from my job of being a stay-at-home mom and recharge? Wouldn’t my kids and husband benefit from a mom and wife who’s refreshed, recharged and hopefully slightly less surly? I’m sure they’d appreciate more time away from me too!

So dear husband and friends, I’m coming for you. We’re going out for pie a la mode. Pie’s awesome, but sharing it with people you love makes it all the better.

Advertisements

This Day Needed a Re-set Button

reset

You just know it’s going to be a day when you wake up with an earworm rattling around in your head –“Zombie” by the Cranberries in my case…RIP Dolores O’Riordan. Sorry. It’s going through your head now too, isn’t it?

So yeah. By 9:00 AM I was already done with this day. I got up early so I could actually take a shower this morning. It was a special occasion, as I was supposed to meet a friend for breakfast during my sweet two hours without children. As I was mindlessly singing, “in your heeeaaad, in your hea-ea-ea-ad,” I picked up my phone to find a text from said friend, “I’m out for breakfast. K spent the night throwing up.” Yes. Let’s all take a moment to bow our heads in silent reflection and sympathy for my sister from a different mister. This is the third person in her house to get hit with the plague. Last week, when everyone was gloriously supposed to go back to school, her other daughter and husband were down with it for most of the week. What kind of crappy karma is THAT?! I mean a sick kid is bad enough, but then a husband on top of it?! Eesh! She may need to consider calling in a priest for an exorcism if she has any hope of surviving this.

After texting my condolences, I decided I better start rousting my inmates to get ready for school. My 6 year old is a morning rockstar. His Lego Batman alarm goes off, he gets up, sprints to the bathroom, gets dressed and comes down usually with a smile on his face. My eldest…ehh…not so much. I usually have to brace myself before entering his room — for fear of what tornado of crap I will trip over, or his level of surliness when I wake him. If I smell sulfur, I run. (Maybe my house needs an exorcism…)

As I said, today wasn’t a great day. I opened his door and forced a cheerful voice, “Good morning, young Jedi!”

Evidently the dark side was strong this morning and I got a, “Jeez, woman! Why can’t you let me sleep! Will you just leave me alone?!?” Yep. He had been up late secretly reading. He desperately needs his solid sleep, and every time he messes with it, the world pays.

I went back downstairs to pour my first precious cup of coffee. This mama ain’t dealing with that shit until coffee’s on board. Soon I heard him thunder over to the bathroom, body slam his little brother who was on his way out and snarled at him, “Your face looks like a butt crack!” Young son shoots back, “Well, you smell like one!” [Doors slam.] Is it bad that I inwardly cheered?

My amusement was short-lived when I heard, “You idiot! You forgot to flush the toilet! AAAA-GAIN!” Pummeling ensued.

“Moooo-oooommm! He hit me in the penis!!!”

“He deserved it! He and his stupid junk can’t even flush a dumb toilet!” [Sigh. Pours more coffee. “Baileys would be really f’ing awesome in here this morning,” I thought.]

Now all three of us were surly. Dear daughter threw open her door, came galloping downstairs, hugged my butt, gabbed the Cheerios out of the pantry and sat down in her chair and patiently waited for me to get her a bowl and milk. Well, at least one person in our house hadn’t caught the asshole virus yet.

The boys continued their bickering and hatred for the next twenty minutes while I snarled multiple requests for them to eat their breakfasts, get their shoes on, find a snack and so on.

Meanwhile, I heard my husband in his office on a conference call say, “Guys… Guys!… GUYS!! Hold on! Now, I’m a simple man…can you please explain to me…” So anyone who knows my husband, knows that nothing good EVER comes after his “simple man” line. It’s usually a good cue to keep your head down and hope for the best. Great. Now he’s in a mood too and I’m just waiting for him to come storming out complaining that he can’t hear anything over the nightmare that is going on in the kitchen.

Finally it was five minutes before the bus came, and by this time I was completely worn raw mentally from the shit storm that had been my morning thus far. Young son got ready and went outside while his older brother started yelling at me for yelling at him and demanded I find his shoes. Fine. Backpack, coat and shoes got thrown into the garage and he follows. I’m done. Good luck teachers, they’re all yours.

I turned around to find the warrior princess writing all over the table with the milk she had sloshed out of her bowl. [Sigh.] I cleaned her up, got her dressed for school, wrangled her into her carseat and kicked the tire on the mini van for good measure. Take that.

The hostility of the morning evidently was running rampant in our entire town, as I got tailgated by no less than 3 different people who felt that 10 mph over the speed limit was not nearly fast enough and that stopping at stop signs was for sissies.

I finally arrived at school without getting into an accident or the victim of someone’s road rage. [Deep breath of impending sweet freedom!] Not so fast. My daughter wanted nothing to do with school. We got to the classroom door and she braced herself between me and the classroom door like an angry cat who didn’t want to take a bath. Eventually her dear, sweet teacher pried her off of me and I made a run for it. I locked myself in the mom mobile and just sat there and let the silence wash over me.

I’d like to tell you my day got lots better after that, but sadly it did not. As I type this, everyone in my house is asleep and I should be too. But I’m taking this time to detox, decompress and just plain go numb for awhile until I have to wake up to face yet another day of my little psych ward here. Hey. At least tomorrow’s Friday, right? Oh. Wait. That means it’s the weekend and there’s no school. [sigh] Oh well.

Toys of My Childhood

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately trying to come up with something to write about, so I Googled, “blog writing prompts.” It came back with, “What were your favorite toys as a child? What did you like to create?” As I thought about it, lots of weird things came to mind. Frankly I’m surprised some of them didn’t clue my parents in that I was a bit off, but…

When I was in fourth grade, my parents and I moved from Wisconsin to Bismarck, North Dakota in the dead of winter. Yeah. It was as hellish as you’re probably imagining, and it didn’t get much better over the six years that we lived there. I had gone from having lots of friends in school and in my neighborhood, to a couple of marginal ones at best.

To get through my loneliness, I found myself coming up with more and more elaborate stories for my Barbies, complete with subplots, love triangles and cliffhanger endings until my next play time.

beauty secrets barbie

My favorites involved Beauty Secrets Barbie (what those secrets were, she never told me) and her friends Western Barbie and Ken with horse, Dallas. (Ironically, I think most of my more sordid and scandalous story lines came from watching the show, “Dallas” every Friday night.) At some point, Ken knocked up both Beauty Secrets and Western Barbies. One of my old Little People dolls was the love child. Some days Western Barbie would bitchily gallop off on trusty Dallas, throwing a “F-you, BS Barbie!” wink over her shoulder. (Western Barbie had a button in her back you could push and she would actually wink with her heavily mascara-ed and blue eye-shadowed eye.)

western barbie and dallas        western ken

I never had the Barbie Dream House or tons of accessories — I made those. My Barbies even had a pimpin’ water bed made out of a shoe box and a ZipLoc bag filled with water, complete with custom-made bedding and throw pillows I had sewn out of my mom’s fabric scraps. I probably embroidered it with counted cross stitch. Like I said, I was lonely and bored.

I have no idea what fate befell BS, Western, Ken & Dallas. Maybe they’re in a box somewhere in my mom’s basement. Or maybe they went the way of my husband’s GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip — there is still a hot debate whether or not his mom gave it away or threw it out. When we were still dating, to help ease my husband’s loss, I bought him his very own vintage GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip on Ebay.

IMG_20180112_142452852Never in my life have I spent so much money on something so ugly. It was that Christmas that my mother-in-law knew that her son loved me and we were destined to be together. Thinking about these beloved toys, I wonder what my children will look back on as their prized possessions of their childhood.

Now that we finally have Christmas behind us and some semblance of routine back after nearly 3 weeks, going back to school for the boys couldn’t have come soon enough this week. I know I’m not the only mom who did an embarrassing happy dance in the driveway as the bus pulled away on Monday. Just hearing the roar of the engine, the hiss of the brakes and the intoxicating smell of diesel exhaust put an extra skip in my step and twinkle in my eye. But now Monday is yet another day off. Crap. Isn’t this just cruel and unusual punishment? I mean I fully support the MLK holiday and all, but couldn’t we move it a little bit later? My family can’t stand the sight of each other yet, why torture us so soon? I need to find something for the inmates to do so the cops don’t end up getting called. Maybe I’ll give them this mission: “Go through your toys and put aside those things that don’t inspire you. Maybe they can inspire another kid who could use a toy.”

Oh hell. Who am I kidding? I know they’re just going to give me the equivalent of the Western Barbie F-you wink and go back to their electronic devices. *sigh* As long as they’re not killing each other…

 

My 3 Gs for 2018

Happy New Year!

New Years is always a very thought-filled time for me. I find myself thinking back over the year and ask myself, “Was it a good year? What were the positive things that happened? The negative?” And then I try to take some time to be happy and grateful for those good things, because I’m guessing I didn’t take enough time to do so when they were happening. When I think about the bad things, while I still may feel angry/sad/scared/frustrated/confused about whatever it was, I also try to remind myself that I survived.  Maybe they seemed horrible and hopeless at the time, but when I look back at them, maybe they weren’t such a big deal after all. Or maybe I’m stronger than I think. Just taking the time to acknowledge these things, good and bad, is sort of cathartic I guess.

I stopped making New Years resolutions a long time ago. Instead of being something positive and motivating for me, they always left me feeling defeated or that I was a failure when I wasn’t strong enough in my resolve. To make matters worse, I usually didn’t accomplish what I set out do in the end anyway because I just gave up. [Cue more feelings of failure.]

So instead, I’m going to come up with a list of things I’m hoping I can do better. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  1. Grace. I’m not talking about being poised and elegant (I mean me and roller skating…remember??) No. I’m talking about cutting slack and unclenching about some things — for myself and others. If I think about all the stupid little stuff I get upset about, it starts adding up to a huge pile of yuck. Then I get overwhelmed and even more anxious and angry. Maybe if I let some of those little things go, my life won’t be so cluttered with crap…literally and figuratively.
  2. Gratitude. So often I get all anxious and wrapped up in the things that I think are going wrong, that I forget to be grateful for all those that are going right. I get mad and frustrated with my kids for being ungrateful for all the toys and nice things they have in their seemingly easy lives. Well, duh. No wonder — if their own mother can’t be grateful enough for those wonderful things in her privileged life, why should they? Dope slap. What if I said, “You did a great job putting your clothes away without me even having to ask!” or “I like how you were so kind with your brother when he was feeling sad today.” — instead of the million critical things that usually come spewing out.
  3. Goodness. I’m going to try to acknowledge the good I see in people. Why do I keep nice thoughts to myself? What if I took 5 seconds to say or even text to someone, “I always admire how patient you are with your kids,” or “Thanks for having me over today — the rest of my day has been better because I laughed and got a friend fix.” Or sometimes someone just needs to hear, “You are rockin’ that messy bun today,” or “You have the best laugh…It’s always so contagious!” Sometimes you need to tell your friend’s husband, “Do you know I can always tell when you’ve texted something sweet to your wife? Her eyes always light up and she smiles when she reads it.” Because I know when someone give me a compliment, it always makes me feel better. When it comes on a day when you really need it or when it’s something good you never even saw in yourself, well. That’s worth 20 compliments, now isn’t it? And more often than not, it usually motivates me to keep doing one more good thing.

As I think about these things, I know I won’t remember them every day and little crap will make me furious sometimes. But maybe if over the course of the year, more positive will outweigh the negative. And to you my dear reader — for whom I’m grateful — I wish you a year filled with grace, gratitude and goodness. Pass it on.