My Good Mom Challenge

I’ve been pretty hard on myself lately. I haven’t been giving lil’ ol’ me enough credit.  I feel like my house is always a disaster, my kids are always bored, my husband and I are always fighting, we’re always broke, we don’t eat healthy enough, I could go on all day.

You might have read my recent post on Mom Guilt. The post garnered more attention than I had expected, which led me to believe that I’m not the only one walking around wondering “who the hell let me be in charge of another person’s life and entire upbringing?”

So I’ve decided today’s post will be on a much more positive note.  I owe it to myself to give a little credit where it’s due.  We all do.  We aren’t bad parents, and we’re going to prove it.  Today I’m challenging myself to find ten things that make me a good mom. This way, whenever I question my skills at this shit-show called parenting, I can bust out this little list as a reminder that maybe I’m not so bad after all.  And I encourage you to do the same, fellow guilt-ridden friends!

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Okay, now.  Where to start……

  1. We dance.  My daughter, especially, loves to dance.  She’ll shake her little tail feather to almost ANY song she hears, even the theme to Star Trek (much to her daddy’s delight). So I take advantage of the fact that this is the easiest activity on earth that we can do together, and we do it almost every day.  True, there are selfish incentives (i.e. this is my version of “going to the gym”) but the bottom line is that it makes my kids happy, and really, it’s so damn cute watching them bop all around the living room that I don’t mind at all.
  2. I bake muffins.  Like, I mean, I’m the kind of mom who bakes muffins. And I do it all the time. I even do stuff like hide veggies in them and scale back the sugar to make them healthier.  Yes, I’m sure lots of moms bake muffins. But if somebody had told me ten years ago that I’d be an apron-wearing, muffin-baking mom of two someday, I’d have been all bitch please. So the muffins are kind of a big deal to me.
  3. I breastfed.  Now, don’t go all OMG on me for saying this makes me a good mom, because there are at least a zillion moms out there who formula-fed their kids and could easily run circles around me in the parenting department. I’m NOT saying that breastfeeding makes anyone a better mom at all.  What I am saying is that the very act of allowing another human being to nibble on my BOOB for thirteen months straight is kind of a marvel in itself, when you think about it.  And my daughter barely ate any real food (she still doesn’t), so my boob basically kept her alive for over a year. It’s pretty cool, in a sorry-for-talking-about-my-breasts-so-much kind of way.
  4. We go to the park. And let me tell you, I HATE THE PARK. In fact, I’m currently brewing up a blog that will effectively convey my contempt for trips to the park with the kids, so stay tuned for that one.  From the germy equipment and booger-eating children to the boiling hot sun and bitchy parents, I hate practically everything about the park.  But still, we go.  As soon as the weather starts warming up, I drag my sorry, playground-loathing butt to the nearest set of snot-covered swings and slides as often as I can bear.
  5. We read.  I loved to read as a child and I really want my kids to love it just as much as I always have.  Now, if I said we read together every night while everyone drifts off into a peaceful slumber like they do on TV, I’d be flat-out lying.  But that doesn’t mean we don’t still read a-plenty.  When my son was younger and obsessed with dinosaurs, I used to read the dinosaur encyclopedia to him almost every day.  The DINOSAUR ENCYCLOPEDIA.  Did you know that there is no such thing as a brontosaurus anymore? And that a T-Rex’s tooth is roughly the size of a banana?  Well, I do. Because we do the book nerd thing around here, and we’re proud of it.
  6. I say no.  Sometimes, saying no is a lot harder than it sounds. It would be a lot easier to just say sure, you can have ice cream for breakfast.  Or sure, you can give your sister a smack for throwing your Lego creation across the room.  Or sure, you can watch Walking Dead with me. It would be easy to just let them do what they want and avoid the meltdown at all possible costs. But instead, I draw the line. I’m sure you do, too. We keep the Pandora’s Box of “sure you can” closed most of the time.  It makes us better parents than we realize.

Just so you know, I’m struggling to come up with four more, which is rather contradictory to my original objective, which was reminding myself that I’m not really a crappy mom.  Like, really, Jeannine?  Six things?  That’s all ya got? Ugh.  I need a coffee break. I’ll be back with 7-10, and they’ll be much better than “I bake muffins.” Hopefully.

  1. I let them help out. Would the muffins taste better if my daughter didn’t stir the batter for fifteen minutes? Probably. But what fun would that be (for her)? And taking out the garbage would be a lot faster if my son didn’t insist on helping sort the recycling every time, but I think it’s teaching him an important lesson about the environment that he should know. Letting them help can be a pretty big pain in the ass, and it requires a LOT of patience, so it doesn’t happen EVERY time I’m doing something.  But we do it as often as my patience allows, which is often enough.
  2. The love is in the little things. I can’t walk past a really cool Super Mario tee-shirt without getting it for my son because Mario is his absolute favorite. And I let my daughter pinch my arm until she falls asleep every night because it relaxes her, even though it kinda hurts like hell.  And I hug them and kiss them and say “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” at least a hundred times a day. And I have cutesy little nicknames for each of them that I’ll probably still be using when they’re all grown up and embarrassed by it.  And I let them use up all the hot water for their baths at night because they have fun in the tub even though it leaves me with nothing but freezing cold water for my own shower.  The little things are so little on their own, but they add up.  May not always seem that way, but they do.

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    Good Dad/Good Uncle alert! That’s Big M as Mario and my brother as Luigi. It was at least 95 degrees that day, but they sweat it out, giving Little M the best birthday ever.

  3. I take pictures.  Zillions of pictures.  And then I place them into labeled family photo albums in chronological order. It sounds like the sort of thing that someone with OCD would do, right?  But I’m far from OCD, so I’m kinda proud of this habit.  It’s really important to me that my kids have these childhood pictures to treasure as they get older.  Pictures are memories, after all.  And who knows?  Maybe if they have all of these bright, shiny, smiling images to look back on, they’ll forget about all the yelling….
  4. I originally wanted to make #10 “I’m doing my best.” But then I thought: what the hell IS my best, anyway?  What does that even mean?  Some days I play with my kids for hours at a time, keeping them happy and busy all day long. Some days I need to clean and do laundry and cook and do all that not-so-fun stuff that keeps a home functional. On those days, my kids are entertaining themselves.  Some days I’m the best mom in the world, and some days I totally suck. I mean, can anyone really say they are doing their best when there is no real definition for “best”?  So instead I will make #10 be that I care. I care about my kids. And my husband. And my home. And even myself. I care and I think it shows in the things I do.  I can’t give everything and everyone 100% all the time – no one can do that! But I always care, and I do what I can for the people and things that I care about.  Isn’t that all we really can do?

So now it’s your turn.  Take the good mom challenge with me.  Stop wallowing in parent-guilt and tell me what makes you a good mom or dad.

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The Lighthouse Award

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My girl Kerry over at Kerry’s Winding Road recently nominated me for The Lighthouse Award, which is given to those with blogs that inspire.  I’ve never really thought of my blog as very inspirational until Kerry nominated me for this award, but upon much thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that I inspire others to not be so hard on themselves as parents.  It’s my first blogging award, so I’m pretty psyched to be nominated and I really appreciate the nomination.

Kerry’s blog is both funny and inspirational.  In it, she describes her travels through “the beautiful and bumpy road of motherhood with two children”.  Beautiful and bumpy, indeed!  I highly recommend you go check it out.

So the rules of the Lighthouse Award are simple:

• Display the Award Certificate on your blog.
• Write a post and link back to the blogger that nominated you.
• Inform your nominees of their award nominations.
• Share three ways that you like to help others.
• Nominate as many bloggers as you like.
• Have fun!

So here’s how I like to help others (in true Highchairs & Headaches bare minimum fashion, of course :))

1. Despite numerous threats, I have yet to back over my husband’s PS3 with our car.  He counts as “other people”, right?

2. My children are singlehandedly keeping Nickelodeon in business.  You’re welcome, Nick!

3. I am not an asshole, as detailed in my blog post “I Love It When People Aren’t Assholes.”  By not being an asshole, I feel that I help influence others not to be assholes either. It’s my own personal effort to end the vicious cycle of assholes being assholes to other assholes.

Okay, so now I have the pleasure of nominating a few other blogs that I’m pretty big on right now.  It’s not going to be easy to narrow down, because there are SO MANY amazing blogs out there!  But here are my nominations:

Stay at Home Fodder

The Wine Wankers

The Pinterested Parent

My Foray Into Food Storage

Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane

Nishita’s Rants and Raves

Game of Diapers

Go check out these awesome blogs if you, like me, are inspired by stuff like food, wine, Pinterest, parenting, and books 🙂

Thanks again for nominating me, Kerry!

 

You Know You Have A Picky Eater When…

Every time I sit down at the table to eat with my kids, I wonder how they can be mine.  I watch as they poke, prod, and scowl at the contents of their plates while I quickly devour my own meal with much ease and enjoyment, and I think how on earth are we related?

Because I like food.  Hell, I love the stuff.  I love to make food.  I love to buy food.   I love to watch food being made (sup Food Network?). And most of all, I love to put food in my mouth and eat it.

My children, on the other hand, generally want NOTHING to do with food.  To them, the four major food groups are: potato chips, chocolate, lollipops and fruit snacks.  Everything else is “for grown-ups”.

To his credit, my son has made a lot of improvement since graduating toddlerhood.  These days, he’ll even choke down a piece of lettuce every once in a while.  But my daughter?  Is the WORST.  Much, much worse than my son ever was.  She drives me insane.  I don’t think she’s ever eaten a whole meal in her life.  I don’t even understand how she’s still alive.

At almost two and a half years old, she weighs in at a whopping 22 pounds of teeny tiny toddler.

Here’s a fun fact: actual babies have emerged from their mother’s womb weighing more than my daughter does right now.  Seriously, I looked it up (and you thought your chunky nine-pounder was a butterball).

I'll tell you where you can put that dinner....

I’ll tell you where you can put that dinner, Mom….

Basically, I know a thing or two about picky eaters.  So are you in the same boat? Let’s find out!

You know you have a picky eater when:

1. Your child is much more interested in the utensil itself than the food she is supposed to be placing on it.  I once left the kitchen for a minute during lunchtime and returned to find my daughter eating her mac n cheese with a screwdriver (note to self: remind Big M that it’s only okay to leave a tool within arms’ reach of a toddler if he at least plans to fix something with it at some point).

2. The very prospect of running low on your child’s favorite food, otherwise known as the ONLY thing they will happily eat, is enough to keep you up at night, tossing and turning and contemplating a 2a.m. run to the supermarket.  And running out of it altogether?  Can we say DEFCON 5?

3. You will give into almost any food request.  I made my daughter a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich (!) the other day, and apparently that wasn’t heavenly enough for her because she refused to eat it until I slathered some butter over the top, too.  So guess what?  I whipped out that Breakstone’s tub and smeared like nobody’s business. Guess what else? She still didn’t eat it.

4. Remember the days when you honestly believed you would always cook just ONE meal for your whole family and everyone would sit down and eat it together? “I’m not a short order cook!” you would exclaim. HAHAHAHAHA!  Wasn’t that cute?

5. You rarely make your own lunch because you now live off of untouched leftovers.  Same goes for the dog (who’s looking like he might need a diet soon).

6. You often find yourself wondering how your child has not yet starved to death, considering that if you went that long without a meal your stomach would leap from your body and drive itself to the nearest McDonald’s.

7. You’ll do practically ANYTHING to get your child to eat, including but not limited to: airplane/train mimicking, deception, book-reading and TV-watching during meals, singing songs about food, dancing to songs about food, buying toys that look like food, allowing them to cook their own food, and prying open their clamped little mouths and just shoving the food in yourself.  For the most part, none of that ever works.  But you’re unfailingly willing to try.  My daughter sometimes responds well to a hearty round of applause after every bite she takes.  Yep, you read that correctly: applause after EVERY SINGLE BITE. It’s like being in the Wheel of Fortune audience while trying to eat dinner.  Isn’t it amazing that I haven’t jumped off a cliff yet?

8. This is a disturbingly familiar routine:  your child tries something new and LOVES it, finishing off every last bite until the plate is scraped clean.  You practically fall off your chair with excitement, then immediately hightail over to Costco to buy a six-month supply– only to find that she suddenly hates it and refuses to touch it the next time you give it to her.  Or ever again.

9. Dinnertime in your house is pretty much a three-ring circus.  One kid is hopping dangerously up and down on her chair while the other is trying to eat his soup with his toes.  One kid has to get up to pee three times and the other follows him into the bathroom.  One kid is crying hysterically because there are vegetables on his plate while the other is crawling around on the table and tossing food into the dog’s mouth.

10. You sometimes harbor actual feelings of animosity toward anyone with children who are good eaters, secretly wishing years of obesity on the whole family (okay, not really….but maybe just one kid….).

11. You resist the urge to roll your eyes and scream whenever people without children dish out unwanted advice on how to improve your child’s diet (I’m looking at you, Rachael Ray).  Come to think of it, this is your same response to ANY bit of parenting advice given by someone without children (now I’m looking at you, Supernanny).

12. There is absolutely ZERO chance of your child eating a single piece of food when company is over, or on play dates, at parties, or basically anytime there is something even the slightest bit interesting or distracting going on.  Well, at least until it’s time for cake and dessert.

13. There is no limit to the excuses your child will give for not eating, since they know they can’t use “I’m not hungry” every time.  Here are a few examples, courtesy of my son: “the cereal is too spicy”; “I’m too tired to eat”; and my favorite “but I ate dinner yesterday!”

Okay, I'll give you "too tired to eat" this time.

Okay, I’ll give you “too tired to eat” this time.

14. You’ve contemplated buying stock in Pediasure, since you could have purchased a used car by now with the ridiculous amount of money you’ve spent on the stuff.  Seriously though, are crushed diamonds their secret ingredient?

15. You’ve found yourself examining the ice cream carton for calcium content, and you’ve conceded that a few squirts of ketchup is perfectly acceptable as a serving of vegetables.

16. Going to bed without dinner is neither a threat nor a punishment to your child; it’s more of his preference.

17. You would happily travel to the end of the earth (or pay for international overnight shipping, anyway) for anything your child likes that has even the slightest amount of nutritional value.

18. All poor eating habits seem to magically disappear at Grandma’s house.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about!  She ate her whole dinner for me.” Argh.

19. You’ve witnessed your child eat random, inedible objects off the floor since the day she learned how to crawl, yet she still won’t eat anything you put in front of her.  Apparently, Cheerios taste better after marinating in dust bunnies under the couch for a month.

20. Bribery. So, so much bribery.

Mom Guilt

I’m a sucky mom.

Well, realistically, I’m probably not all that bad.  But I still think I suck at parenting.

Please don’t give me that stupid “you’re a GREAT mom!” spiel that people deliver whenever you whine about your mom guilt.  I don’t need to hear it.  It doesn’t make anyone feel better and we both know it.

You’re probably a sucky mom too.  I’m guessing that’s why you’re reading this right now.   Well, you know what?  Your best friend also sucks.  So does your sister, and your cousin, and so do your coworkers, and your neighbors, and every single stranger you pass on the street.

We all honestly believe we suck at this mom thing.

Mom guilt is one of the shittiest feelings you will ever know, and it NEVER goes away.  Once you have kids, you’re a victim of mom guilt for the rest of your life.  You are destined to spend the remainder of your days on this earth second guessing every decision you’ve ever made when it comes to your kids, comparing yourself to every other mom you know, criticizing your parenting skills (or lack thereof), and regretting your choices before you’ve even made them.

Today my daughter asked me to read her a book, but I was in the middle of folding two million loads of laundry so I quickly put the book away and turned her attention to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Awesome parenting right there.  “Sorry baby, The Very Hungry Caterpillar can wait until later.  Ooh look at the TV! It’s a special DOUBLE EPISODE! Woohoo! Now please go take your zero-nutritional-value fruit snacks to the couch and watch your show.  Folding Daddy’s underwear is slightly more important than your growing literacy skills right now.”

So then I stood there like a jerk, folding away, feeling all crappy because it wasn’t the first time I did that to her and it surely wouldn’t be the last.  I almost felt bad enough to change my mind, but by then she was so engrossed in Mickey that shutting the TV might have caused a meltdown that neither of us were in the mood for.

Stupid social media doesn’t help with the mom guilt either.  Because people don’t exactly Instagram pictures of their kids parked on the couch watching Nicktoons on a warm spring day.  No freaking way.   And when it comes to old Facebrag, EVERYONE is mom of the year.  They’re all taking their kids to parks and museums and libraries and freaking Disney World, and all of their kids are reading way above grade level and getting straight A’s and joining NASA’s space program, right on track to becoming the first preschoolers to land on the moon.

Just once, I want see someone post: “The school called today.  Junior farted in someone’s face at lunch and landed detention for a week.”  It would be a refreshing change, donchathink?

Some pictures don't make the Facebook cut.

Some not-so-shining moments fail to make the Facebook cut. Why do you hate Mommy?

Social media antics aside (because as you probably know, I could go on all day about that topic), when it feels like everyone else is raising the perfect kid, it’s hard not to feel like you’re doing everything wrong.

But I have a secret.  And no, it isn’t that everyone is a wonderful parent – because that’s just not true. Some parents really do suck, like in real life and not just their head.  You do know that, right?  That you aren’t the worst mom in the world?  ‘Cuz I’m pretty sure Casey Anthony grabbed that title a few years ago.

My secret is that there is NOTHING you can do about the never-ending mom guilt. Nothing! It will always be there, hanging over your head like a poison-filled rain cloud. Okay, maybe that’s not such a big secret, but it sure makes me feel better.

You can practically bust your ass trying to be the MOST AMAZING MOM EVER, planning enough activities, outings, and educational moments to fill every waking minute of every day, but it will never be enough.  In your mind, you are still going to scar your children for life somehow, and you’re going to give yourself a nervous breakdown in the process.  Stop trying to be perfect.

No one is perfect.  There is no such thing as the perfect parent.  Some parents appear perfect, and I don’t know what the hell is the deal with those people, but they aren’t perfect either.  They probably just put on a good show and we’re all buying it.  Behind the smoke and mirrors of those so-called perfect parents you will find regular old people, like you and me, who feed their kids chicken nuggets and let them watch all the Spongebob they want.

I think the trick with mom guilt is to channel the guilt.  Embrace it.  Learn from it.  Pinpoint exactly what you feel shittiest about and use it to motivate the hell out of yourself.

I’m not telling you to do it every day.  Hell, I’m not parent of the year and neither are you (right?).  But once in a while, when you get those days where you are just feeling like one big steaming pile of mom garbage, and you are literally on your hands and knees praying that your kid doesn’t turn out to be a giant asshole because you suck so badly as a parent, you’re going to have to take action.  Pick your sucky ass up off the floor, grab those crazy kids, and go do something awesome together.  Anything at all.  Whatever will put a smile on their little faces and alleviate the sting of mom guilt for at least a day or two.  Like I said, it will never go away, but at least there can be a temporary fix. And that’s better than wallowing around in self-pity, right?  Hmm, I guess there is something you can do about it after all.

Oh, and don’t forget to post the pictures from your day on Facebook 😉

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