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.