People Think I’m a Bitch

the-office-quotes-9

They’re wrong. Well, for the most part. I’m actually a pretty nice person, once you get to know me. My problem is that I am separated from the outside world by a very thick cement wall of social anxiety, and it prevents me from functioning normally when interacting with people I don’t know very well.

Whereas most people can have a normal conversation with an acquaintance and then proceed to go about their day as planned, I will spend an additional half hour after our interaction has ended psychoanalyzing every word I said and wondering if I sounded as stupid aloud as I did in my own head. I’ll wonder if I spoke too loudly and called unwanted attention to myself; if others were gawking at the tiny rip in the sleeve of my jacket or the mud peeking out from the bottom of my shoes; if I was regarded as a shitty parent because my kids weren’t using their “inside voices” (while also publicly beating the crap out of each other).

In short, I will waste a lot of time psychotically obsessing over a whole world of shit that DOESN’T MATTER AT ALL. And it’s not even that I really care that much what other people think of me (hence this entire website devoted to my half-assed parenting and other personal problems). I just don’t enjoy the uncomfortable feeling of being scrutinized and consequently unaccepted. It kinda makes my stomach hurt.

So that’s why I tend to avoid 99% of unnecessary social interactions with people I don’t know.

Because I’m the idiot who is incapable of handling basic conversations with other adults without the help of alcohol or maybe narcotics. I’m the babbling moron who hasn’t mastered the art of small talk and probably never will. I’m the jerk who will pretend I don’t know you at all even though I have walked past you while picking my child up from school at least 100 times since he started elementary school three years ago. I’m the asshole who would rather stare at my foot, a tree, parked cars, my phone, anything in the vicinity without a pulse, just to avoid making eye contact with you, person who I kinda-sorta know but kinda-sorta don’t.

And speaking of picking my son up from school– there is no other activity within my daily life which I despise so vehemently.  Talk about social anxiety to the max. Everyone’s chatting, Lizzie lost another tooth, Joey got a soccer award, yada yada yada blah blah blah. I don’t totally mind discussing the difficulty of the recent second grade math test with these ladies, honestly, but I’m just not the type to walk right up to you and start the conversation. It feels weird. What if you don’t really want to talk to me? What if you just want to talk to this other girl who is suddenly approaching us and you don’t want the responsibility of introducing us? What if you don’t introduce us and I just stand there awkwardly while you start talking about someone I don’t even know, inching away ever-so-slowly, silently begging the powers-that-be to make my son’s class be dismissed first today. And then I will say another prayer that he doesn’t ask to stick around and play with his friends in the schoolyard for a little while, thus extending this unpleasant social situation by an extremely painful extra half hour.

This is where I could continue to list the myriad of stressful situations for a socially anxious parent like myself, running the gamut all the way from play dates to birthday parties. But I won’t. If your anxiety is anything like mine, you know how horrible they are. Let’s not even get into it.

If my behavior sounds silly to you, then you clearly aren’t plagued by social anxiety. You are the head of the PTA, the Class Mom, the good neighbor, a person with social circles galore. You and I will never be the same. Which is okay.

Just please understand that I’m not really that much of a bitch. If you approach me and mention that pain-in-the-ass math test, I’ll agree that it was difficult. I’ll talk about how much my son hates studying too, and commiserate with you over how many days are left until the summer vacation. I’ll be surprisingly friendly and kind, maybe even a little bit funny.

But just know that afterward, I will silently berate myself for every weird thing I’ll definitely think I might have said and then wonder if you think I’m the biggest idiot you have met in your life. And the next time we see each other, don’t expect more than a half smile or tiny wave as I rush wildly past you to go hide behind a tree.

I swear it isn’t you. It’s me.

This is How I Know I’m Failing at Adulthood

Am I the only one who has that single spot in their home that is just a constant, infuriating reminder of how epically they are failing as an adult?

For me, it’s right here:
20150320_144614

When it’s clean (semi-annually), it’s supposed to be the counter where you’ll find kitchen utensil storage and perhaps a place to store a few pieces of new mail. There is a little stack of post-it notes and a pen or two nearby for scrawling messages, like people in tidy homes do for each other when one isn’t home. There’s a calendar hanging up, not at all buried under a plethora of reminder notices and kids homework assignments. It’s an orderly, functional area of the home. Or at least, it’s supposed to be.

The thing is, this kitchen counter is more than just a ridiculously cluttered spot in a home that is almost equally disorganized. It’s more than an inside-out junk drawer that seemingly threw up on itself.  It’s more than a mere representation of my extremely messy personality.

It’s like…… a symbol of adulthood as I’ve come to know it.

Look closely. There isn’t just random junk mail and school art projects strewn carelessly about (though you will find an abundance of those too).

There are actual important documents in that pile. Things that should be dealt with immediately or at least put away neatly. Things like unpaid bills. Important school notices. Insurance paperwork. My income taxes. My daughter’s first ever “report card” from preschool. Copies of the magazine I work for — my own words literally published in print for the first time in my life. Like, seriously important shit.

It’s as though everything that is vitally significant to my existence resides within a chaotic stack of crap on my kitchen counter, sandwiched between loose crayons and old Costco catalogues.

It’s not like I really have time to clean it. I sometimes distractedly stop what I’m doing and grab one or two things off the top to either toss in the recycling bin or file away somewhere safe. But then I take a second look and think “who the hell am I even kidding?” and give up to stick my head in the fridge to find something to snack on while flipping through the TV (which I also technically don’t have time for, but…..).

Basically the stack just grows higher and higher with each passing day, more and more art projects and potentially important documents piled on top on a regular basis.

Sometimes I walk past that counter and I’m just like, holy shit. If being an adult were a class in school I would be seriously flunking out. If growing up were a video game, I would lose one life every time I added another “Final Notice” to the never-ending stack ‘o’ crap. If the fate of the entire free world hinged on my ability to be an actual, mature, grown, human being, there would be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions.

I think that kitchen counter represents the apocalypse of my ability to have my shit together. My shit has never been so UN-together in my whole life. I thought it was bad when I was in college and only did laundry when my clean underwear ran out or when I was tired of dousing my waitress apron with coffee to cover the split-pea soup stains. But these days I only do laundry when the dirty clothes in the laundry basket are no longer stackable and begin heaving themselves onto the floor like a Jenga puzzle.

When you’re young, you have this built-in notion that someday you’ll enter adulthood and just automatically grow up. Like it happens overnight or something. Maybe the domestic goddess fairy will sprinkle some fairy dust on your pillow one night and you’ll wake up the next morning as June Cleaver or at least Monica Gellar.

How idiotic, right? No one ever seems to realize that keeping your shit together is hard enough when you only need to care for yourself, but it’s exponentially more difficult when you’re suddenly taking care of others as well. Why did no one ever tell me this? Guess it doesn’t matter now.

Here’s a funny thought: I just realized that the time I’ve devoted to writing about my messy kitchen counter could have been spent ACTUALLY CLEANING IT.

Ha! As if.

Mom Guilt: The Working Parent Edition

work mom delilah

Want to hear something ironic? I work for a parenting magazine, and a huge part of my job is finding fun stuff for people to do with their kids and sharing the stuff I find with the community. But I spend so much time looking for fun stuff other people can do with their kids that it takes a load of time away from me doing fun stuff with MY own kids.

First, let me say this: I love my job. Let me repeat (and not just because my boss may or may not browse through my blogs from time to time), I LOVE my job. I can’t say I’ve ever had a job that I love, doing something that I truly enjoy, and feeling like I am making valuable contributions to society using the skills and creativity that I have always known I possessed. As much fun as it was slinging pastrami sandwiches at a kosher deli in Brooklyn for eight years, it wasn’t exactly my calling.

But this job? This is as close to “my calling” as I’ve ever been. Don’t get me wrong, it comes with quite a bit of stress and pressure, but what job doesn’t? At least, what CAREER doesn’t?

I did the Stay at Home Mom thing for a very long time, and it certainly had its ups and downs. Now that I’m working, I never realized just how much of myself I was available to give to my children when I was literally always available for them. We could pick up and go whenever we wanted. There were no schedules to coordinate, no deadlines looming, no emails to answer first. If we wanted to go to the park, we went. If we were low on groceries, to the supermarket we’d go. If they wanted to watch all three Toy Story Movies in a row, I knew we would just play together later. We were together all the time and they loved it.

And I…liked….it. Kind of. Well, as any Stay at Home Mom will tell you, being around your kids 24/7 can be draining. There are no breaks, no real help from anyone else. It’s on YOU to keep those kids happy around the clock. It’s tough stuff. So when the opportunity arose for me to take a job where I could keep a flexible schedule and often work from home, well, mentally and financially speaking, turning it down was never an option.

So while I’m very familiar with the Stay at Home Mom depression, I’m new to the whole Working Mom guilt. And, boy, is it something else entirely. When I tell people I can work from home, I think they envision this utopian ideal wherein I’m simultaneously baking cookies, overseeing fun craft projects, and emailing my boss all in perfect unison. How lucky I must be, to be able to accomplish so many tasks at once!

Well, in fact, I DO accomplish all of these things at once, but perfection it is NOT.

Allow me to set the scene for you.

It’s 3:30pm on any given weekday. My son is working on his math homework, that hellish Go Math common core homework book open in front of him. He’s crying a little because he doesn’t understand how to solve 15-7 by “making a ten” first. Quite frankly, neither do I, and I’m about to cry along with him. At the same moment, my three-year-old daughter is climbing on my back, shoving her Princess Sofia floor puzzle in my face and begging me to help her finish it. I glance over at the clock and see that if I don’t start dinner soon, I’ll have hunger meltdowns thrown into the mix. So I get up and head to the fridge to start cooking.

I wash and chop and slice and prep while my son reads his “book buddy” to me, hoping he’s actually reading what it says and not just making up random things to avoid using his brain. My daughter lingers dangerously over the cutting board, narrowly missing my razor-sharp knife with her tiny fingers as she tries to reorganize the veggies in a futile attempt to “help” me cook. I stop for a quick minute to check my work email, remembering something important I’d forgotten to do earlier. I see that I have 15 new emails and realize that the thing I forgot to do has spiraled into into an entirely new problem, and I absentmindedly spend another 20 “quick minutes” attempting to rectify it.

Suddenly I hear the sizzle of hot liquid hitting the stove and I realize my potatoes are boiling over, which is my reminder to check the oven and find that I’ve overcooked the crap out of the chicken. I look up and find Princess Sofia puzzle pieces and sliced vegetables strewn about the living room— my daughter’s passive aggressive way of displaying her resentment for my ignoring her. My son hands me his homework to check and I try to explain that “We bilted a snwmn” is spelled incorrectly, which immediately prompts a tantrum because, according to him, it IS spelled correctly and I’m the MEANEST MOM EVER and he just wants to go play video games but I WON’T LET HIM and his homework is DONE…..

And then my night-shift-working husband emerges from hibernation, bitching about us all making too much noise and waking him up, and wanting to know why the house smells like burnt chicken.

Fast forward a few hours; dinner is done, baths are done, husband’s off to work, kids are tucked in bed. And me? I’m on the couch, laptop open, typing away—finally able to get some work done.

The sad part is that I actually AM lucky to be able to do this with my family because I’m home from work in time to make dinner and oversee homework. Some working parents don’t get home until well after the kids are sleeping. And as insane as the afternoons with my family are, it’s a whole other type of insanity when you don’t even get to see your kids during the day at all.

The part I hate is when my daughter looks at me with her heart-meltingly innocent baby blue eyes and asks me “mommy can you play with me?” and I have to say no because I have work to do. Or when my son’s school sends home a note about yet ANOTHER school fair and I try to move heaven and earth to make it there, every single time, because I never want to let him down.  Or when I’m up very late, typing away into the wee hours of the night, and it causes me to wake up like Oscar the Grouch, ready to bite the head off of anyone who dares to ask me for plain Cheerios after I’ve already poured milk on an entire bowl of the honey-nut ones.

Sometimes I worry that my kids’ happiest childhood memories will be overshadowed by mental images of Mommy hiding behind a computer screen.

I love that I love my job. I don’t know how many people can say that and mean it, but I love having a job I enjoy, a job I’m proud to do. And financially speaking, I REALLY love that I can finally start putting some money away to someday, somehow, possibly, hopefully, maybe be able to afford my family’s first real home. Or our first trip to Disney. Or maybe even start up a college fund (well, after I’m done paying for my own college loans).

As stressed as I feel most of the time, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. I’m sacrificing a lot, I know. But I do believe that in the end, it’s worth it.

I just wish it wouldn’t feel like my kids are the ones making the biggest sacrifice. Hopefully someday they’ll understand why.

Putting My Kids First: A Nasty Habit

Do you have a nasty habit of putting your kids first?

Well of course you do.  You’re a parent. It’s part of the job. It’s unavoidable (kind of like Frozen, which I’ve chosen to weave into today’s blog after my daughter watched it on repeat all morning).

If you didn’t bother to put your kids first, I would think you were a total jerk.  And I’d be right.

Because once you have children, you can no longer claim your life as your own.  Your children are now your number one priority, and everything you used to do for yourself gets pushed all the way to the back of your to-do list.

There are times when you have to try to put yourself first, usually only when your own sanity is at stake, but realistically the kids come first and they always will.  It takes some getting used to at first, but after a while you realize that what you want just doesn’t matter anymore.  Because all you really want is to make your children happy.  Sacrifices are made, and all of that “me, me, me” crap becomes a thing of the past.  It’s all just another part of raising children.

olaf-frozen-quotes

But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still kinda suck.

So here’s how I know I’ve got that pesky “putting the kids first” bug:

  1. My wardrobe sucks, but theirs sure as hell doesn’t.  Winter, spring, summer, fall– these kids need new stuff every time the temperature jumps a degree or two.  New sneakers, coats, dresses, tee-shirts, the works.  Brand new everything, practically all year round.  But my summer wardrobe shopping? Basically consists of a grabbing a few tank tops off a “3 for $10” table at Old Navy and calling it a day.  I’m actually still wearing the same pair of banged-up old sneakers I wore when I was pregnant with my first child SIX years ago.  I guess my style sense flew right out the window with my common sense the day I whispered the words “it’s okay, I’m on the pill”.
  2. I haven’t been to the hair salon in over a year. Who has time for that? Have you ever heard of the “hombre” hairstyle?  The one where half of your hair is one color and the other half is a different color altogether?  Well, that’s the only stylish thing I’ve got going on in my life, and it was a total accident.  Apparently, going a full year without redoing your color or highlights is “trendy” these days.  I never thought that cosmetic negligence would actually someday become fashionable, but this is awesome. I don’t know who this hombre is, but let me tell you, he is mi mejor amigo.
  3. When I receive Visa gift cards for birthdays, Christmas, Mothers Day, etc., I usually use them on diapers, kids’ clothes, groceries, or gifts for someone else.  I like when I get one with special instructions, like “this is for a manicure and pedicure”.  Because then I slap a nice coat of polish above my overgrown cuticles before I head over to Pathmark to cash in on my “gift”. I do like to pamper myself.
  4. Date night is dead.  It’s gone from fun, romantic dinners at swanky restaurants to basically anytime my kids fall asleep before 8p.m. on a night when there is a good show on and a bottle of wine lying around.
  5. I know every word to every song on the entire Frozen soundtrack, but the only way I can identify a new singer on the radio is if they’ve ever starred in their own Nickelodeon show.  That’s actually okay though.  Reindeers are better than people, just like the music of my youth is better than today’s shitty pop music. (Off topic side note: reindeers really ARE better than people.)
  6. My lunch consists solely of sandwich crusts, spare chicken nuggets, and leftover mac and cheese. I sometimes look at healthy food and feel a twinge of nostalgia, remembering the pre-baby days, when I used to have those fancy salads for lunch because I was watching my girlish figure. You know, the ones with the cool, retro ingredients like arugula, dried cranberries, maybe some hearts of palm.  And I remember when I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting calories on fast food because I just spent an hour on the treadmill and didn’t want it to go to waste.  Gosh, I can’t believe I owned a treadmill. And I even USED it! Sigh. The memories.
  7. Vacation options have gone from anyplace with white, sandy beaches and exciting nightlife to anywhere that grown men and women dress up like giant cartoon characters and then make you wait in line to charge you twenty bucks for a picture.
  8. Book choices are not quite the same, either.  I used to read like a maniac, plowing through the year’s bestsellers faster than Amazon could deliver them to my door (back in the prehistoric, pre-Kindle era).  Now the only books I have time to read cover important issues like overeating caterpillars, misbehaving dinosaurs, and home-destroying, hat-wearing felines.
  9. Sometimes, in the winter, I DON’T wanna build a snowman.  But I do it anyway. Because I’m not shitty like Elsa.

I know I do a lot of complaining about raising kids.  It’s just really, really hard so I can’t help it. Plus I’m kind of a chronic complainer so it goes along with the territory.  But just to be clear: I love my kids more than life itself.   And I’m sure those of you with this nasty habit of putting your kids first feel exactly the same way about your own little ones.

olaf 2

Hockey Basics for Parents

I will start off this entry by openly admitting that I’m not AT ALL a big sport person.  I don’t play and rarely watch anything sports-related.  However, I make an exception for one sport and one sport only: hockey. And if you currently have a pulse and live anywhere near New York, then you know our Rangers are vying for their chance at the Stanley Cup for the first time since ’94.

Oh, 1994. I’ll never forget when they won that year.  Overjoyed fans everywhere took to the streets, cheering, screaming, and celebrating. Horns blared and sirens sounded–the world around me seemingly erupted into a cascading sea of red, white and royal blue.  It was unforgettable. I was just eleven years old and I didn’t know much about hockey, but I knew that something pretty damn huge happened that day.  And I’m ready to see it happen again, now twenty years later.

Unfortunately, the LA Kings are currently leading the series. Tonight could be the end for our boys in blue.  But sometimes you gotta have a little faith, right?  Here at Highchairs and Headaches, there’s enough to go around.  Maybe I can even bring them a little extra luck.

This blog entry is dedicated to my brother, who is definitely the biggest Ranger fan I know.  This is for him, not just because he proofread the whole thing to keep me from sounding like an idiot, but moreso because he single-handedly helped mold me into the Ranger fan I am today.  And if they win, I’m pretty sure he’ll be so excited that he’ll buy my kids their own Ranger jerseys so they can stop stealing mine.  Hint, hint.

image

Now, this is not exactly ESPN, so don’t think I’ve suddenly switched gears on you. I won’t be getting very technical, nor will I start talking about players or other teams (but feel free to leave a comment letting me know if you agree that Henrik Lundqvist is one of the hottest men in sports…or alive).   There’s a good chance that many of you reading this don’t even understand the rules of hockey. And if so, thanks for sticking with me. In my opinion, most sports are way too complicated.  But hockey doesn’t have to be.  Why, you ask?  Because, my fellow moms and dads,  it has finally been put in terms you can understand!

Below is a list of common hockey terms, translated into a language that anyone with children will easily understand.  Read on, soak up some hockey knowledge, and then watch the Rangers kick some King ass tonight!  LGR!

Icing – when you trip over a Lego and it goes flying across the kitchen, through the dining room and ends up in the living room.

Off Sides – when you trip over a Lego and YOU go flying across the kitchen, through the dining room, and end up in the living room.

Face-Off – when there are two hungry kids but only one chicken nugget left.

Body Check – action taken by a child against their parent after witnessing the parent attempt to dispose of a broken toy.

Penalty Box – where your child is likely to end up after that body check.

Attacking Zone – any area outside your child’s room after bedtime.

Zamboni – like the vacuum cleaner, if it were on ice.  And drivable. And had a really cool name.

Breakaway – when your child gets out of his own bed and makes a quick beeline for yours.

Neutral Zone or Center Ice – the area where the most Nickelodeon shows are watched and the most toys are usually strewn about. Often referred to as the living room.

Fighting – every other minute of your life since your second child learned to steal toys from your first child.

Hat Trick – when a potty training child pees on the couch for the third time in the same day.

Minor Penalty – when your kid drops his crayons in the toilet.

Major Penalty – when your kid drops an f-bomb in the supermarket.

Roughing – typically ensues once a player loses the chicken nugget face-off.

Overtime – when your child is up after his bedtime.

Sudden Death – when your child is up after YOUR bedtime, and it’s a battle to see who closes their eyes first.  Note: parents never win in sudden death.

Interference – when you’re trying to give medicine to your sick child and she slaps it out of your hand before it reaches her face.

Power Play – when one kid is in timeout and his sister hears the ice cream man coming……

Shorthanded Goal –  …..and she gets her ice cream but her brother gets nothing.  I know, that would be pretty mean of mom or dad.  But you don’t win a game of hockey by being nice.  And you don’t win at parenting that way, either.

Misconduct- when your child commits an offense punishable by at least one week without TV and/or dessert.

Tripping –self-explanatory.  See here for more info on the worst “trip” I ever took.

Butt-Ending – Basically, this is just getting poked with a stick. Kind of how you ended up with kids in the first place.

And that concludes our hockey lesson.  It also concludes any discussion of sports on this blog, pretty much ever again.

LET’S GO RANGERS!

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!

unnamed

 

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.

    552410_982561826225_1282382149_n

    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.

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 😉

`

Portrayal of a Pregnancy Test

A detailed venture through the mind of a woman who has just peed on the proverbial stick:

Did I pee enough? Maybe I should have peed longer than five seconds, just to be sure.

What if I peed too much? Can that happen? I should have read the directions more carefully.

I’m losing it. Directions to pee on a stick? Sometimes I wonder about myself.

But what if the pee stream was too strong? Is it possible that pee can break the test? No, no way. Well, probably not.

I don’t want to look yet. I’m going to wait three WHOLE minutes this time.

There is no freaking way this will take three minutes.

Ok I’m looking.

Is that another line? I can’t tell. Ok I’m going to put it down and wait until a FULL three minutes pass. No more peeking.

Omg, if that was really a second line, then I am pregnant. Nine months until I have a sweet, beautiful little angel in my arms!

Nah, that wasn’t a line. I’m not pregnant. Ok, good. I can drink as much wine coffee as I want now.

If it’s a boy, I love the name Nathan.

But girl’s names are cuter. Maybe it’s a girl.

I hope I don’t get morning sickness. Or heartburn. Or hemorrhoids.

But, honestly, am I even ready to have a BABY right now????

I can’t afford a baby.

I am going to look SO FAT in maternity clothes.

How the hell has it only been two minutes?

I need to clean this toilet. I can do that while I wait. Where’s the Lysol?

Wait. If I’m pregnant I shouldn’t be using cleaning chemicals in such a small space. Right? I’ll clean the toilet after I find out whether or not I’m preggers. I’m all about priorities.

My friend’s sister got a false positive once. I always thought there was no such thing as a false positive. Maybe my friend was lying. Or maybe the test was broken. Maybe she peed too hard. I knew you could break the test with strong pee!

My other friend didn’t know she was pregnant for like five months. She was getting her period and everything. Crazy stuff. Good thing she wasn’t a big drinker.

Ok, screw this three minute bullshit. It’s been long enough. I’m looking.

Is that a second line or what? I think it is. But it’s so faint. I can’t tell. I don’t even know if it’s really there. Am I seeing things? Am I hallucinating right now???

*Holds test up to light* I totally think it’s another line! I’m pregnant! OMG!!!!!!!!!

Wait. IS it another line? I better take another test.

Or two more tests.

Or ten.

images (4)

Note to my mom: No. I am not pregnant. Well, probably not.