On Saturday I went out with my college girlfriends. They're awesome and I wish I saw them more than 3 times a year. They are funny and smart and they've known me for 20 years, but they are not my family. Yes, we are all wearing the same owl shirt. See?! Funny, but not my family. So, obviously I was plagued with guilt. We had just gotten back from a week away, which could mean that since I'd just spent nearly every minute (really ev-er-y minute!) of the last 7 days with my family, that it was no big deal to be gone for a few hours. But instead, to me, it meant the following: I shouldn't have left today. There's loads of crap all over the house to be put away. The kids are going to be a collective pain in the ass as they settle back in. My husband will be saddled with all the work and he'll be mad at me for going and ditching him . . . and on and on. Because of all of that I promised to be back before dinner, thinking that would ease the pain of being left. However, (and this has happened before . . . more than one time) I didn't make it back in time for dinner. I had to sheepishly call at 5:00 and confess that I wasn't going to make it. More guilt! And, my husband was a little put out. Rightfully so. He wasn't planning on making dinner.
When I got home the kids were bathed and fed, the crap was still all over the house, and my husband was not irritated with me. He'd gotten over it. Lucky me! There are all sorts of morals to this story but the most important take away for me was this: life in my family goes on just fine without me. That doesn't mean they don't need me. They just don't need me ALL THE EFFING TIME! Also, I deserve to have a break. And, also this: my partner is competent and capable. I'll say it again, he is competent and capable and he loves our girls just as fiercely as I do. And that's awesome. It doesn't diminish what I do. Being a full time parent and caretaker of the house is an enormous amount of work, but our partners (or babysitters) can handle the kids for a few hours, while we take a break. In fact it diminishes them when we suggest that they can't do it without us. Of course they can! And the guilt? We gotta let that shit go. It's not good for any of us.
One of my dearest friends has proclaimed that she "hates nature". For a long time I thought that she was just saying this to be funny, but I think it's true. I don't get it, but I think it's true. Even while she is busy hating nature, she is also busy spending as much time as possible lazing in Our Park while her kiddo runs, scooters, climbs trees, and skips merrily through nature. I bring this up, not to point out the flaw in her nature hating logic, but to point out that she knows how important outside is for our kids. (and for us too!!) She's found a way to be outside with her girl that works for her and her nature hating ethos.
It doesn't matter what you do, but find something that works for you and works for your kids. Go outside. Draw with chalk on sidewalk. You read a book while your kids draw with chalk. Walk around the block, go hiking, lay on a blanket in the park while you let your little monsters run wild. Whatever, just get out.
This is just as good as This!
If you're interested in the full article from the University of Michigan, check out the link below. It's interesting. Actually, it is. http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm
Before we had A we (Daniel and I) talked about the most important thing we could teach her. There are lots of things to teach. So effing many actually. You might think that boiling it down to one thing would be hard. Turns out, it's not. Be kind. That is the thing.
At dinner we all share a high light and a low light from our days. Yep, we're that family. Actually we're not, usually Little E shares some made up tedium that happened to her imaginary brother or sister and A hems and haws and says she has to think about it, and as soon as Daniel or I start to share, bam! she's ready and then she sulks because she has to wait. Oh. My. God. This sweet ritual is now super irritating and obnoxious. Sometimes, though, it goes smoothly and we learn a bit about what happens when we're not around.
During the dinner in question, high lights and low lights went smoothly. Little E shared that she'd gotten two extra stars from her teacher and A shared that she too had gotten an extra star from her teacher. Instead of applauding my girls, I said (probably in a defeated and exhausted voice), "I wish someone would give me an extra star." "Who?", A asked. Exactly. Who?!
The next morning upon entering the kitchen I found this note, complete with extra star. I should maybe tap out now before I mess her up because it seems like possibly, she's getting it.
I yelled. And it felt shitty. My sweet girl was scared. I was mad. Really mad and incredulous and irritated. And mad! "Just do your fucking homework," I yelled as I slammed a little pink eraser down on the table. It feels awful to lose your cool. If it's never happened to you, then stop reading and go to some other blog where the author is perfect. Oh, wait there exists no such person? Hah! Then keep reading, because it will happen to you one day. Probably.
I stormed back to my computer where I was futilely trying to print my completed tax forms (I can't file electronically this year because my (and my entire family's) identity was stolen and my taxes filed by some A-hole bad guy. But that's another post). I couldn't get it to print, then I did and I ran out of paper and I printed on the back of old Christmas paper. Then I ran out of ink and had to replace a cartridge. Oh. My. God!!! Why is life sometimes so difficult?!
No wonder I was pissed. Probably it didn't have much to do with A and her homework after all. Or it did and she's just so empathic that she felt my stress and took it on and turned into a little stress ball herself and therefore couldn't do her homework without a lot of tears and whining. Which I had no patience for because I was stressed. Damn it!!! Parenting is so effing difficult.
In case you missed it . . . It didn't have much to do with her and she is so sensitive that she took it upon herself to feel super stressed out on my behalf. Not that her behavior wasn't super irritating. It was! But, she's 7. She's doing exactly as sensitive little 7 year olds do.
I stepped outside and took a couple dozen deep breaths. I came back in and apologized. It felt good to say I was sorry. That yelling was my mistake. I hugged her and hugged her. She cried and said, "I'm just so stressed out. I don't know why." Oh sweet baby.
Today was the much anticipated PAJAMA DAY at Little E's preschool. She has been talking about this for over a week (which is a long time for a kid that still doesn't get the concept of tomorrow). She wanted to go like this. No kidding. That is actually pajamas. In fact it is the much coveted Snow White nighty. I made her put it on properly with her arms in the arm holes. There were many tears. So many. After the tears she donned turquoise & brown striped leggings (which are very cute with the turquoise and brown spotted dress that she refuses to wear) and rainbow striped socks. I didn't take a picture because we were running late due to all of the aforementioned tears. Trust me, she looked ridiculous. . . I mean adorable in a quirky sort of way.
It reminded me of a time when A was about this age and I put a post it note on her back that said "I dressed myself". I have since stopped doing that sort of thing and embraced the
fact that they will dress themselves in questionable and unconventional ways. So unconventional that they will not be held back by such hindrances as assigned arm holes or leg holes. Actually, the truth is, I have not embraced this. It irks me to no end that my girls will not wear the pieces of an outfit that go together. Or the winter clothes in the winter and the summer clothes in the summer. Also, I know, some people get their shit together enough to switch their clothes around for the season (winter clothes away in the summer, summer clothes away in the winter). I don't do that. Half assed homemaking remember?!
We should embrace their creativity though. I know. I'm working on it. I have learned to bite my tongue. I do love their spirit and I'm trying to understand their styles. If only so that I don't waste money on clothing that they will never wear.
Today we brunched! We brunched like we meant it. And the exciting part of the whole brunch business was that I offered to host this brunch at 10:30 last night while holding my sweaty- so- exhausted- because- she- danced- her- pants- off (literally, right off) at- the- wedding- sleeping 3 year old. I was TIRED! When it was time to go home, my friends (who live far away and had travelled great distances to attend said wedding who I also almost never get to see) stood around debating the merits of one brunch place after another. Did I mention I was TIRED!? Because I couldn't bear one more moment of holding my 700 pound child and because the thought of standing in line for many hours to get into a loud restaurant where I would just spend all my time trying to talk my girls into coloring or participating appropriately in the conversations that they did not understand and I wouldn't actually get to visit with ALL the friends . . . for all of these reasons, plus I was TIRED! I offered to host brunch. A mere 12 hours from then. All 12 of which I planned to spend sleeping.
Let the half ass homemaking commence! Woot woot!
We had a perfectly lovely time. I did not iron napkins. Does anyone actually do that?! I didn't make the yummy sounding breakfast bars that I had googled a recipe for at 11pm. I did provide clean champagne flutes and clean coffee cups and some mostly clean cutlery. And, I visited with ALL the friends and we even had mostly delicious and respectable food.
If you're interested in the recipes for said food. Check out the recipe tab.
Also, sometimes one forgets to invite guests. And sometimes one forgets that there is no lunch bunch available at the preschool, so one's children must eat their lovingly packed lunch at home. In the presence of royalty so as to avoid tears.
So, I'm a super big fan of picnics in Our Park. Yep, I capitalized that. I can see it from my porch, we have played in it since before we had kids and now we spend nearly every day after school there and also weekend days too. It's ours. The Mamas and our offspring, and if we're lucky, some of our significant others can spend 8 hours picnicking and frolicking and lazing there on a warm Friday afternoon-evening-nighttime.
There is a climbing tree in this park that draws kids at a faster and more consistent rate than even the ice-cream truck, which somewhat futilely circles the park's perimeter.
I will never tell you “You’re going to have to learn that life’s not fair!” This is not a lesson that you need to learn from your mother. I will strive to show you that the world is basically good, and on occasion, not fair, because this is truly what I believe. I will teach you that being kind and gentle is the most important thing; to other people, to animals and to the earth. The best way that I know to teach you this is to remember to be this way myself and to surround you with people who also behave this way. I will include you in our community of friends (who are really more like family). They are kind and gentle people who love you.
I will strive to make your home your safe haven where you can always be yourself. I will teach you that you are never, ever a “bad girl”, by calling you a “good girl” when you are docile and quiet, implying that when you are the opposite, loud and contradictory, that you are the opposite of good. You are never, ever “not good”, although I may not particularly like your behavior. I want to make sure that you believe this at the very core of your being.
I will always love you, no matter what path you choose in life, what friends you make, or what trouble you may get into along the way. I will strive to make sure that you never feel you have to keep any secrets from your parents because you feel ashamed. As your parents, we will face problems with warmth and guidance, not judgment and fear.
I will never hit you or pinch you or bite you. Putting these things down in words makes me see how ridiculous they really are. I made this promise the day you were born and I will not break it. I make this promise again and again when I am calm, so that I may remember it when I am angry. I may lose my temper and yell, but this is my mistake and I will strive to be rational next time.
I will never force you to eat things you do not want to eat. Nor force or coerce or suggest that you hug or kiss when you do not want to hug or kiss, even if it embarrasses me or hurts people’s feelings. Your body is your own and only you know when it is hungry and when it wants to give or receive affection.
I will try to resist the urge to shield you from pain when I know it will help you to grow. I will strive not to smother you, and to let go when I am sure it is best for you, even if it hurts me.
Since I wish for you not to interrupt people when they are talking, I will not interrupt you while you are talking, or ignore you when you are asking for me. I believe that children deserve this respect as much as adults.
As I care for you every day, I will remember that this is my job. I will give you my attention and my time. I will treat this as seriously as I treated my teaching jobs in the past. This is the most important work I will ever do and I will strive to remember that every day.
I will not expect you to act older than you are. When you are a toddler, as you are right now, I expect you to act like a toddler. When you are a teenager, I will expect you to act like a teenager.
I will strive not to confuse my desires and my to do list for what we “have” to do or where we “have” to go.
I will not remind you of how much money I have spent or how much time I have given. If I cannot give without doing so, I will not give. I will not play the martyr in order to gain while giving.
I'm Molly. I'm all in for parenting. I'm all in for good food. All in for big and small outdoor adventures. And really only partly in for homemaking. I want a Martha Stewart home and meal, but the truth is, we mamas just can't do it all. Not really. This shit is tricky!
This is a collection of musings and missives about parenting like you mean it. I mean really mean it. About how you can pull off a really mostly decent meal, keep your house kinda clean, do some of your laundry, and also even remember to usually feed your pets. But mostly about how being a mama is hard and we can totally rock it, but maybe that dream of perfection has got to give a little.