Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why My Expectations as a Mom, Sometimes, Quite Literally, Just Suck.

Kids, sometimes taking you on a little mini-vacation, isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I'm sorry, but it's just not. Of course, you do learn a thing or two though.

A few weekends back we had a big family weekend in the city. Chad and I debated on whether or not to bring the kiddos with us and it went something like this:

Family weekend away in a fun place at a nice hotel


Weekend away for just mommy and daddy in a fun place at a nice hotel.

Family weekend won, due to guilt begrudging both of us and actually some pretty fun anticipations of how excited the kids would be seeing the city and all of the lights....[cue Kanye].

Boy did I "f" this one up.

Here's the image of sugarplums I had dancing in my head:
Get to the city early enough to walk over to the tree and Kriskindle Market on Daley Plaza,
Then, see the windows on State Street and head in to Macy's to see the tree in the Walnut Room.
Grab some hot chocolate on our way to dinner at Bandera and then
Head back to the hotel for a late bedtime and snuggle time with the kids in their Christmas jammies, and me in mine.
Wake up the next morning and walk to breakfast, then head over to Millennium Park for some ice skating, maybe even hitting up a few shops on Michigan Avenue on the way back to the hotel, oh, maybe around 2pm or so.

Here's what actually happened.

Checked-in at the hotel and the kids didn't want to leave the room.
Got to Michigan Ave. and we had to spend an hour in the Disney store. (Yes, I know it's a big one, but really?)
Got to Watertower Place and spent another hour between American Girl and Lego.
[Cue whining about taking new toys back to hotel room to play.]
Chad and I trying to figure out best place to eat because now it's 5pm.
Anyone who knows me also knows that if I'm hungry, I'm really cranky too.
Chad suggesting we eat in the hotel room...kids listening. Yup. 3 to 1 odds here.
Walk over to Bandera- YAY!
Waited an hour and a half to eat - BOO!
[Cue kids whining about taking new toys back to hotel room and wanting to order pizza in hotel room]
Drank two Blue Moons while waiting - YUM!
[Cue kids still whining about taking new toys back to hotel room and wanting to order pizza]
Food comes...
Ava wolfs it down.
Graham doesn't like his. Of course.
I'm drunk so I really don't care.
Finish dinner and it's back to the hotel room to play with new toys and watch tv. IN CHICAGO! Goddammit. Now it's 3 to 1 again. I lose. And, it's 6pm!

Kids go to bed at 7pm.

We all wake up in the morning refreshed, but I'm still bitter about the way things went down the night prior. So we get up, I lay out all of my expectations as clearly as I can for this day, so it's "better"...meaning, for me, and we head out.

First stop: Corner Bakery for a very yummy breakfast where we were all happily eating and mama's got her morning cup of java so that's wonderful. Then, onward...

As we attempt to walk to Millennium Park, we get sidetracked by the sale at flagship Gap, plus Graham needs mittens...40 minutes later we leave and continue to head to the Park. We're finally on our way and I stop and look around. The kids are cold, and they're tired from what I can only imagine is the let-down of their spastic energy from the day prior. Chad's willing to fight the wind and carry a child all the way there while the whining continues and I say:

"Let's just go home." But not resentfully, more like sincerely. As in, I'm sincerely done with this little family vaca and want to get home as fast as f*ing possible. I love my kids, I love my husband, but this weekend was not meant for us all.

As I think back I realize, one, I had way too many expectations, especially for the ages and temperaments of my kids. They would've been happy staying at a Motel 6 for the night just for something different. I overshot it. I won't next time, at least, I'll try not to. But what can I say? I had the best of intentions...for me. And that leads me to number two. I should've realized what I needed out of this weekend, which was really afterall, time for a grown-up night out with my husband. I let guilt make a decision for me. Gonna try not to do that again too.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Hudson's Not Crawling and Other Piss-Poor Parental Comparisons

I gotta be honest here folks, I'm not a super big fan of hearing how great other people's kids are. I'm really not. I'm just gonna put it out there.

It's not that I like you any less as a person or your kids for that matter, but something happens to me when I start hearing about the amazing accomplishments of your youngsters, from crawling, to reading. I start second-guessing my parenting, my kids' own accomplishments, and nearly deem my whole family to hell. I start googling professional assessments, scheduling OT/PT, and school conferences, and nearly drive the rest of my friends, who I know won't tell me how great their kids are, probably completely insane.

Today someone who no-doubt loves their child immeasurably as I do my own (see my own validation there already?!), posted a video of their child crawling. Ugh...commence the churning stomach, and the immediate panic quickly sets in. Hudson's not crawling. Fu*k.  I hate this feeling, but I know I do it to myself. Do I really care that he's not crawling yet, I didn't think so until I saw the unnamed's post. Ahh, crap. And he's my third!

But I remember when Graham didn't crawl.

Then I remember his moves like jagger. And the story of Ava walking for the first time in the neurologist's office as we awaited her test for cerebral palsy. And I look at them now:

And I remind myself that I'm being ridiculous. Hudson will crawl, and walk, and jump, and climb and run and talk and wrestle with the other two.

And be amazing like the other two.

And that's my ridiculous comparison.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Are You F*ing For Real?

So kids, it's another one of those nights where there's literally crap all over the house from your cute-but messy little asses dumping shit everywhere and then just leaving it for mommy today, but I'm writing. Because I want to and because the house is quiet and I'm drinking coffee. And, I'm bemused. Last week, as we were watching The Polar Express together, out of nowhere comes this blaring, highly colorific, sexually exploitive preview for one helluva classy show called Teen Mom on MTV.

So cute, and all the bright colors! Kids love bright colors!
So I decide, I'll write ABC and let them know how I feel about it. Here's what I wrote:

"To Whom It May Concern: While watching The Polar Express on ABC with two of my children, ages 3 and 6, I was extremely disturbed and infuriated at the commercials and previews taking place for Teen Mom on MTV. While I understand that this show was at 7pm, it is a family movie, in fact I think it's even rated G. It's upsetting to me as a parent that while I strive to censor the images they see and what they hear that is outside of their age range, we were taken advantage of by your network as you felt it necessary to plug a very sexually explicit, inappropriate commercial, and targeting it to children and families. Please work at being more mindful of your audience when selecting the commercials you're choosing to play during family movies. Thank you." (By the way, I liked it. I thought it was pretty good.)

Here's what they wrote (today):

"Thank you for your email and sharing your concerns regarding commercial content during THE POLAR EXPRESS. This movie was a presentation of the Disney Channel. Unfortunately WLS-TV Chicago, although part of the Disney family, has no input into or connection with programming and content on the Disney Channel. Visit the link below for contact information for the Disney Channel. http://disney.go.com/guestservices/faq?id=disneychannel18 We hope this is of assistance."

I can totally see how this relates to Polar Express, right? I mean, no doubt. Don't all children who believe in Santa strive to grow up to tattoo their baby on them? I mean, that totally makes sense.

Uh, no. It's not actually of assistance. Because here's what I read when I finally got the Disney site:

"How do I contact Disney Channel regarding programming suggestions or concerns? For questions and concerns on Disney Channel programming, please call our 24-hour Audience Relations line at 1-818-460-7477. You will be able to leave a sixty second message with your question or concern. Also available at this number are instructions for sending an email or postal letter to Disney Channel, information about the Disney Channel website and information on how to show the Show Schedule for Disney Channel programming. Messages will be reviewed on a daily basis. Did this answer your question?"

Really? Are You F*ing For Real? So what I do I do? I'm leaving a message...and sending an email. All for the sake of audience censorship. Someone's got to, right?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Where Do You Find Parental Inspiration?

Look outward, outside yourself, outside what Char Wenz (author, speaker, professor, therapist) has once called, "parenting myopia" (when you can't see the forest for the trees pertaining to your own children).

Where does your inspiration for being a good parent come from?

Websites on parenting?
Family members?
TV shows?
Church and Religion and/or Spirituality?

How about mistakes?
Can you be inspired to be better by the parenting mistakes made in the past? I think so. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that many of us strive to do better after we've had a bad day with our children. Or better than what our parents did. Mistakes are a tool to grow by, to learn from. We don't like how they feel once we've figured out we've made them, but the growth that comes afterward is pretty great.

Hold onto the great moments, because those are also tools for growth.
They're also times when you get to say, I did a great job today.

I look outside myself constantly for parenting inspiration, and I have much to chose from. Do you?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How Well Can You Roll With It Kids?

Sometimes you need to be strict, stick to your guns, have really strong boundaries. Like, when someone tries to pressure you into something that doesn't feel right, or when you believe in something with a passion so fervent you can feel it in your core. Or, if you have crazy in-laws. I don't, just for the record.

Being strict, doesn't necessarily mean strong though. I've met many people who are strict in their self-guided rules and disciplines, their thoughts on everyday life, what their children should and should not do, who happen to have a really hard time when life throws them a curve ball.

If I had a choice, I'd be balanced. But, I don't. My biological makeup means that I'm more tense and more of a spazz than I'd like to be. I have a hard time being flexible, it takes work. Lots and lots of work. But I have a lifetime membership in this department, and luckily, this is something I get to work on everyday.

Life throws curve balls. It just does. We have two choices when this happens: Burying our heads in the sand and pretending it didn't, or, being mindful, feeling it, and learning from it.

What I'm trying to pass on, is the importance of being able to take a step back, away from any problem, big, small, in the middle and say this, wholeheartedly:

"This is going to be okay."

Oh, and just one more point I'd like to pass on...Just because you're willing to roll with it, doesn't necessarily mean it's painless. Pain is part of life. As is growth. The two go hand in hand if you can see it. But, when you can't, it's not the time to throw curve balls at others, it's the time to reflect, quietly to yourself and confidants only and see things not just as what they are, but what they could be.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

And Here's the Thing About Happy Moms

Happy moms also love happy fashion, and happy time for themselves to find some :)


let it snow

Okay Kids, Here's the Thing About In-laws

When you get married, if your spouse still has a relationship with his/her parents, so will you. I've heard about many, many gnarley in-law interactions. One of my favorites is when a friend of mine, pregnant with her fourth child, went to share the news with her M-I-L. After doing so, the MIL got up, walked out the door, and drove away.

I can't say that some of the stories I've heard aren't humorous, and just like marriage, there really are no "perfect" relationship when it comes to parents, but there are definitely positive ones.

The number One reason for in-law discord: Boundaries. Have healthy ones, insist that those in your circle respect them, and if they don't, make a change.

My mother-in-law has been here for the past 24 hours. She's uber-helpful, respectful, and loves, loves my kids. Plus, we laugh. It's a pretty good time, and I appreciate her. And, I need all the help I can get right now.

I would love to hear your greatest in-law moments!

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Scent of a Baby

I can smell Hudson's sweetness on me tonight. I fed him his nighttime bottle (or baba as we like to call it) and then Ali put him to bed. It's been an hour already and I can smell him on my shoulder. He sat snuggled, facing forward with his hand over his eyes sipping his baba as though we haven't missed a beat.

Ali's been amazing. She picked up with the kids where I left off. It's a beautiful thing we've come to create, this sister dance we do with the kids. She loves them as I do, snuggles them, kisses their boo-boos and puts them to bed, in so much of the same way I do, with the love and the comfort. I sleep well at night knowing that when I'm resting during the day, much is well around me.

Something I saw in my mom yesterday changed my view of her forever. I realized as she snuggled Hudson, sounding like me, saying the same things I say to him, cozying and cuddling and loving him with so much that you can feel it touching your heart, that I am an extension of her in this way. We are all passing it on.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Good Stuff to Pass On from Mind in the Making Author

Mind in the Making author Ellen Galinsky will be answering your questions about parenting and child-raising from November 7th through the 11th. Click on her book below to be directed if you're interested. Check her and her stuff out! It's good.

Mind In The Making by Ellen Galinsky

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mama on the Run

I am running. I've actually stopped running for exercise and now only run around. In circles. All week long. I'm getting so tired and the phrase I used over and over this past week was "running on empty." Here to there, there to here, I've shuffled, hustled been late, and tired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How Well Can You Keep It All Together?

If you are a rockstar at organizing all of your kids' papers, projects, and plans, please post your suggestions, recommendations and even pictures so that I can partake in your infinite wisdom! Our house has been taken over by paper and it's really cramping my feng shui!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mom ADD...Is The Diagnosis Real?

I swear that since I've become a mom, I've developed a problem staying on task, finishing a task to completion, concentrating, focusing, and feel that without my now three cups of coffee each day, I'm walking around in a foggy trance. I've heard many a mom complain about pregnancy- or postpartum (biological and adoptive) attention deficiancy, and while I've absolutely 100% experienced this for myself, on a near daily basis, I wasn't quite sure of it's conception, or certainty for that matter.

Now I go out with the girls on occassion for mom nights out, girls weekends away, and love, love, love that and absolutely recommend it to every mom I know. But I'm telling you, we've all talked about Mommy ADD and wondered whether or not it's real or diagnosable. I don't have a professional answer for that, only an illustration:

Today, as everyday begins for me, I brewed a half pot of coffee. As I opened the dishwasher door to grab a clean cup I hear, "Mom, I huuuuunnggrryyy...." and little feet and hands are grabbing and clawing their way up my leg dragging me to the refrigerator. "I want orange juice," I grab the OJ. "I want a yogurt," I grab a yogurt. Next, one needs a spoon, and in between I'm trying to fill up my cup. Then the baby who was content as could be, begins crying in his bouncy. I've got to grab him, go set him down somewhere else for five more minutes of playmat entertainment. From there, it's back to the kitchen, grab the half and half, pour it. One sip...ahhh. Set the coffee down. Start unloading dishwasher. "Mom, I want more yogurt." Grab the yogurt, put it on the table. Baby's crying. Shut dishwasher, go to baby. Bring baby upstairs for nap, come down. Open dishwasher again. "Mom! Can I have some water?" Grab cup, water, give to second child. Take a sip of cold coffee, put it in the microwave for first of seven warm-ups. Sip, distraction, another distraction, warm-up. Repeat.

I don't have Mommy ADD. I've got kids.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Find a Passionate Expert

ChildCare Resource & Referral
Here's something worth passing on: It is so immensely beneficial to know people who love what they do.

In my quest to find the right preschool program for my three year old, I used a network of individuals who are passionate about early childhood education, and the kind of play-based curriculum most beneficial to three- and four year-olds, and as equally passionate about helping me find the right place for my child.

I started by using recommendations of friends. As it turns out however, it's not just the school that I needed to be mindful of when choosing one, but the specific teacher, and their style of working with young children as well. The recommendations I'd had from friends, worked well...but for them. They got lucky in their child's teacher, or they'd known a specific teacher to request. I wasn't armed with that part. From there, well, you know what happened as I mentioned in my previous post (Why Can't Kids Play in Preschool?). Hundreds of dollars of deposits down the tubes. But after this last experience, I got smarter and I started listening to people who had an edge in on the field of early childhood education.

A few of my I-will-absolutely-keep-in-my-back-pocket-for-the-future resources: Patrice Sullivan, Director of Hobson Cooperative Nursery School, Trish Rooney, at ChildCare Resource and Referral in DuPage County, and Chris Bzdon, Executive Director of ChildCare Resource and Referral for Will, Grundee, Kankakee, and Kendall Counties. Let me tell you folks, these people know what they're doing when it comes to what to look for in a quality early childhood preschool program, and how to find one that suited our family. I can't thank them enough for their guidance and expertise. Each one of them spoke passionately about children, their developmental capabilities and needs, and ways preschools can help them thrive.

I'm happy to pass on, that by working with the above mentioned individuals, I found a place that warms my heart and I can't wait for my three year old to reap the benefits of his new found preschool. Cool stuff to pass on. :)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why Can't Kids Play in Preschool?

I'm excited. Finally. We're visiting another preschool tomorrow that I'm sure uses play in their preschool. I'm sure. I hope. Well, we'll see. This is been the hope I've had in the nearly five or six preschools I've had my son enrolled in in the past year. Yes, five or six, given one or two. I've lost hundreds of dollars on deposits, sleep, and some of my sanity over choosing an appropriate preschool program for my son, Graham. I'm sure my husband and friends are completely done talking to me about it. So, I turn to you, blog and readers to vent, veg, and pass on a little.

But first, let me tell you about the kid I'm looking into preschool for. Let me tell you about Graham. He's three and a half. He loves dancing, singing, spending time with me and the rest of the family, and is really the most amazing little boy I've ever met. He'll have you laughing within minutes of meeting him, and simply put, is pure joy. His personality is easy, it's always been, and he goes with the flow of nearly anything. Graham is any teacher's dream come true kid. But I fear he's been taken advantage of.

He doesn't get nearly enough time to play the way he needs to, or laugh, or be silly, or paint, or be a boy at his preschool. And this makes me frustrated. You see, I know what my children need in order to be independent, thriving and striving young people. I know what they need to grow and learn and become self-motivated learners and thinkers through their lives. And I know that sitting in circle time rehearsing letters and numbers for 45 minutes isn't part of the curriculum that supports his growth and development.

Unfortunately, much of my community disagrees with me. And so instead of painting and jumping and walks outside and laughing, he's been sitting, and sitting, and being talked at instead of with, and then sitting some more, in a program that advertises itself as being play-based.  When the energy level of the boys gets out of control, the class then does yoga to "relax" and "calm down." Don't get me wrong, I love the benefits of yoga for adults and children alike...love it. But that's not why I send him to preschool. And I'm fearful he's learning that being a rambunctious boy is a bad thing.

Since I know what he needs, we're moving on. Chalking this up to yet another failed attempt at preschool...just as soon as I find a new one. When I do, I'll Pass It On.