Just Wait, Kids. My Turn is Coming

I have had some rough mom days lately. Eventually, I’ll have the wherewithall to sit and write them out, find perspective, reason out my mom fails. But as a I sat down (read: collapsed into a chair) to write, I am reminded that one day, I’m going to miss this. I’m trying to hold on to that..

Stop the sentimental crap you say? I hear you. Being a mom is not glamour all the time, not all sunshine and rainbows.. In fact, sometimes it’s hard and downright aggravating.

So, instead of spouting the fabulous-ness of being a mommy, I’ll plot my revenge instead.

  • I love you 5 year old son of mine, but the first time you bring a girl over? It’s bare-bottomed picture time. THAT will be for the 500th time you asked me why when I asked you to clean up.
  • The pictures will be at the ready. And they increase in volume every time you say no…

  • You may scream no at me every time I ask you to do something, 23 month old beautiful daughter of mine. A glimpse into the future? No, you may not have the credit card to go to the mall and buy those jeans you wanted. However, you can share the ad with mommy ,who will pretend she’s  younger than she looks by purchasing a pair herself.
  • Or at least a great pair of shoes.

  • You think you’re cute, do ya little man? That’s okay. As Daddy said in a pearl of wisdom to you, 5 year old son, “Be nice to your sister or she won’t let you date her friends when you’re older”.
  • I’m still not sure whether that is the best advice ever or deserving of a daddy time out.

  • Oh, you LIKE being up at 2 and 3 am in the morning, do you sunshine? The early hours appeal to you, dear daughter of mine? I gotcha. Fast-forward a few years and when your alarm does not need you up until 7 am for school, I will be sure to have you up at 5 am. Because, you know, you don’t want to miss anything in the wee hours of the morning (or so you claim these past few days).

Okay, make me feel better and less alone- I can’t be the only one who has a few of these lined up! Your thoughts?

Yes, I am “just” a mom

People. I am a mom.

Here’s the thing. I do not believe that being a mom should solely define who you are in every aspect of life. I completely get how mommyhood can consume us; it’s just the way it is. But it’s our job to maintain the me in mommy. Or at least enlist the help of someone to help us maintain our sanity. But accountability? It lies with me and only me. It is my job to seek out my happiness, my refuge, my serenity. I get this and (mostly) embrace it.

But people. I am a mom.

Yes, I love my husband. Yes, that time to spend together, to connect, to be a couple, to be alone.. well, that time is amazing. I love the opportunities to reconnect, I love the chance to be alone, I love the chance to sit and just simply talk..And you know what? It’s even more amazing because of the life we share. Because of the sacrifices we’ve made together, the blessings we’ve experienced together, the challenges we’ve faced.

But people. I am a mom.

I wear many hats. I am strong, intelligent, opinionated woman. I spent hours last night on my computer, completing various working tasks while obsessing over each and every detail that flashed across CNN’s screen. Politics has always been a fascinating subject for me, the dynamics of our country under strict scrutiny for such a small time each year. It seems to me we could accomplish much more if we focused a fraction of effort and passion into the political arena the rest of the year instead of waiting until it’s time to cast a vote.

But I digress. Because people. I am a mom.

I have strong opinions, a healthy dose of confidence, a well-earned degree. I have an amazing husband, beautiful children, and an ever-changing address. I will achieve a great many things in my lifetime- of this I am certain. I will accomplish goals I set for myself, I will exceed my own expectations, and live to fulfill some dreams I don’t yet know exist.

But people. I am just a mom.

Nothing will ever mean more to me than the look on my children’s faces when they wake up in the morning and see me there. Nothing will ever compare to the pure joy of flying down a slide with my daughter in my lap. I can’t imagine a moment more precious than my son asking me to give him just one more hug before I tuck him in, or a sweeter memory than my daughter smacking her lollipop-flavored lips at me for a final bedtime kiss.

Yes, there are a lot of important things to tend to in life. There are chores to be done, and things to be seen, and tasks to be addressed. I will go places, I will see things, I will meet people. I am sure I can do a lot of things.

But people? I am a mom. And I will raise my children with all of my heart.

Because, no matter what else becomes important, what else enters my life, what challenges I face. .

I am a mom.

And today? I’ve decided to let that define me. Because people? There’s no role in which I’d rather be.

This post is a good ol’ fashioned-spill-your-guts for Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can’t Say. Go link up- Shell is the best blogger. Ever.

Attitude Already? Parenting Challenges

Parenting challenges come flying my way on a daily basis. My daughter can set a world record for the amount of times she can say no and my son delights in putting her toys out of his reach. Embracing my role as referee and tantrum-stopper, these challenges I can handle. However, my children are two very different creatures. My daughter is certainly more high maintenance, and at age 20 months, a lot for my laid-back four year old to want to deal with at times. However, lately I have seen my sweet, loving, eager-to-please little boy hiding- in his place, a moody teenage impressionist. I think I have been afforded a preview of the teenage years lately with my four year old. The “no” and “I don’t want to” and “fine” responses, accompanied by the raised voice or whining response has had my patience wearing thin.

It is so frustrating when you are pouring your heart and soul into your child and they snap back at you. As we approach my son’s fifth birthday next month, I miss his baby days. Of course I’m nostalgic for the tiny baby he once was, the mellow toddler days (yes, seriously- don’t hate me, my daughter makes up for it). Gone are the days of snuggling endlessly, though if I’m lucky, he will still climb into my lap when he’s tired. When he does this, I squeeze him tightly, holding on to these precious moments. I adore my son with my all my heart- so how do I get him to shut it up?

I understand he needs to exert his independence and grow into new stages. I understand that he is approaching the time where mommy is no longer cool and I will have to accept his need for me to hold back. It is hard enough when he resists giving me a kiss at the soccer field (don’t worry, I stopped trying to embarrass him there. I save it for school drop-off in the morning). But the attitude? I thought it was too early for that. When the biting responses come to my requests to do something, I resist the urge to ask for my sweet baby boy back (barely). I try to explain to him that the way we treat people is important, and that it his job as a kid to listen and be respectful. With various requests and things to do, I try to give him choices and an opportunity to do what he is supposed to do without my demanding it. But still, the attitude comes in spades. It is hard to feel helpless and unsure of what to do as a parent, and it leaves me second-guessing myself more than anything else ever could.

Ahh, the parenting challenges continually come, demanding our concentration and accepting nothing less than full dedication to solving them. The arguing and tantrums I can handle; the indifference and attitude hurts. I know this is a stage and am thankful for the loving little boy that is still in there- I just hope he returns before the teenage years.

What parenting challenges are you facing right now? Share with me!

This post is linked up to Pour Your Heart Out over at Shell’s Things I Can’t Say. Go visit her because she is one of my favorite people!

Becoming a Soccer Mom

Tonight will be my son’s first soccer practice- making me an official soccer mom. I know sometimes people are not prepared for the title or do not wish to use it- that is not the case with me. No, although I did not always know that this would be the path I would take in life, I have settled comfortably (most of the time) into the mommy role. I look forward to cheering on my son as he and his teammates run back and forth on the field (hopefully in the right direction) and all the chaos that comes from a group of four and five year olds attempting to learn a sport. I have my camera charged and ready for the thousand and one pictures I will be taking and look forward to letting my toddler daughter run out some of her energy on the sidelines of such a game. I was all ready to go, feeling confident and prepared.

Until I thought about what to wear.

Now, I’m sure some of you are shaking your head and laughing, wondering why on earth does it matter what you wear to a soccer practice? Because, my friends, I have well-earned fear of playgroups and I realized that this is going to be a similar situation- I am going to be in another situation with a group of parents. Also, between my husband’s insane work schedule and traveling, it is not very likely he will be attending very many of these games. So now I’m back to worrying about petty details and trying not let insecurities creep in before I go.. which is so hard to do. While I am confident in my parenting, it is not always easy to connect with other moms in person, and first impressions (both mine and theirs) are stressful situations. As a result, I am doing what any rational, prepared, mature mom does;

I’m stressing about my clothes.

Sigh.

This post is linked up to Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out over at Things I Can’t Say- go visit to read people pouring their hearts out!

Please be sure to join me on Twitter this Thursday from 10-11am where I’ll be hosting #beanchat, courtesy of Gevalia. We’ll be discussing everything from activities with your toddler to getting back to school (and sports!) with your older ones. Please please please join in because this is my first Twitter Chat and y’all can’t leave me hanging, okay?? Hope to see you there! check out the event link here: http://www.facebook.com/GevaliaCoffee?ref=ts&v=wall#!/event.php?eid=155400251138670&index=1 and join on in here: https://sites.google.com/a/kineticfin.com/gevalia-assets/beanchat/how-to-join-beanchat. Come help me navigate my first twitter chat!

Being Mommy is -Part- of who I am

I may need an attitude adjustment, and I am thinking my post is going to lose me some readers. I want to first clarify that I in no way find being a mom easy. No way, no how, not at all. I wish there were a parenting manual and a how-to guide to dealing with all the headaches, challenges, and complexities that come with being a mom. I struggle to find the right way to raise my kids on a daily basis. However, I seem to be missing something. It may have a bit to do with reading Laura Bennett’s book called “Didn’t I Feed You Yesterday” and her strong focus and enforcement of being an individual as well as a mom. It may have to do with the time I have been spending with my kids, from stressful days at home to hopping in a car and taking a road trip, or even some of the great conversations I have had with some good friends lately. Either way, I am losing patience with the people who claim to lose themselves in mommyhood and don’t know who they are anymore.

Now, keep in mind I have two children. I do not think that it is easy to be a stay at home mom, nor do I think a working mom has it any easier (well, most days I believe it’s the same. Some days I envy the working mom- before I realized that I would then have two jobs. Gulp). In either case, it is hard to be a mom. There are challenging days when you can’t seem to put that screaming toddler down or you run out of hours to get all of your errands done. Finding time for yourself can be a bit of a challenge, if not at times impossible, but we can’t always put our own selves on the back burners. If you do not take care of yourself and put yourself first sometimes, who else is going to?

I become very confused by the people who claim not to have an identity anymore once they become a mom. Why on earth not? I get having frustrating days and feel the need to get out alone for awhile. So go ahead and do it. If you feel like you are losing yourself in your kids, then quite frankly I think you are doing it wrong. My kids are an amazing part of my life and an extension of who I am. I have become a better person in being their mom- a different person, yes. My days and my priorities do revolve around them, but it has made me stronger not question who I am as a person. I do not understand the constant lamenting of being a parent or that it affects your appearance.

My great friend Lisa is a perfect example. She despises sweatpants.  She thoroughly hates them and we have had more than one conversation in which she has said, just because I am a mom, why can’t I dress nice? Granted, I love a good yoga pant day here and there, but I semi-agree with her. I do not take my kid to preschool in pajamas or shopping in sweats. If I wanted to, then I would- dress to your comfort level, and if that’s in sweats then more power to you. It is all about being comfortable in who you are and if dressing down has a negative effect, then skip it. I prepare myself for the day in clothes I feel like wearing. I could have on cute leather boots or comfortable sneakers- but the point is, I put myself together. Just because I am a stay at home mom does not mean I do not care about my appearance. Who does not feel better after putting on a fabulous pair of shoes? Even if your toddler is the only one who is going to see them, it puts you in a better frame of mind.

Then, there are the days where my husband walks in the door after a ten hour day and I simply hand him the baby, tell him the 4 year old is destroying the living room and go upstairs and lock the bathroom door. I take a bath, whether he got home at 5:30 or 8:30. Yes, he had a busy day, and more days than not we try to make sure he has some downtime. But guess what? He’s their parent too and he can do his part. My husband never complains either, nor does he think this is in anyway not fair. Sometimes, its will be calling up a friend, and if we’re too far apart in distance, we’ll each pour a glass of wine and have a long chat on the phone But the point is, I create the break that I need. How much good can I do my husband or children if I am at the end of my rope? Not much. Sometimes you need to stop and take a breath. When my husband is traveling or working long hours, then I create the time after they go to bed (which is not quite the same, but helps).

I suppose I have just become increasingly frustrated- moms have such labels and images, such as “working mom” “stay at home mom” “she’s feeding her kid this mom” . There are so many ways to stereotype, to label, to judge. it’s either the “Oh, that’s not work, it’s just what moms do” mentality or it is “this is so hard it’s nearly impossible”perception. Having kids is not easy, staying at home with them is hard, and I can’t begin to imagine working with kids, but I assure you that hourly Facebook updates telling us how tough it is are not going to help your situation (have you read The Mommyologist’s post about 10 reasons why facebook totally sucks by the way? Genius.) I am not denying the sisterhood here. There are challenges we face as moms that are so beyond what we can even imagine at the moment, and those challenges will only increase as our children grow. There are judgment calls, temper tantrums, and crying breakdowns (and the kids to think about too!). It is not easy to be a mom. But, at the end of the day, we are responsible for ourselves first- and we need to own that. We need to remember that there is someone in there besides mom, that the you you used to be hasn’t disappeared, only evolved, making us stronger women, stronger moms.

This post was updated from one of my original Deep South Moms post. I miss the community greatly but wish its founders luck! This post is also submitted to Pour Your Heart Out over at Shell’s Things I Can’t Say (you must follow her blog!)

Be sure to visit My Blog Frog Community and tell me what defines you!

Okay kids, go watch TV

I have to admit, I gave pause to posting this. We are often consumed of what others think of us, whether it is the opinion of friends, families, strangers- or in this case, my blog readers. I love the support and connections I have found through blogging, so I found myself ranging in emotions from being skeptical that this is pouring my heart out to realizing it really is- I’m sharing one of my mom insecurities.

Sometimes, I just have to send my children to watch television.

There. I said it. I know, I know, I am a terrible mother and am prepared to have my supermom crown taken away. But alas, it is true. Amidst the endless criticisms that exist, the fervent warnings of the repercussions, and the judgment of other moms everywhere, sometimes the television gets turned on.

Let me explain my process. I am a stay at home mom. You know, the mom who spends the day cooking and cleaning, attending to her children’s every whim, cultivating little minds with expert craft projects and bestowing my endless wisdom upon them. I never lose my patience, never raise my voice. I know just what to do at every turn and never make mistakes.

Yeah, I don’t believe that either.

I am not sure why it is automatically assumed that because we are stay at home mothers, we have an easy job. I am also not sure why it is assumed that we do not have the desire to go to work. I can tell you that there are days that I salivate over the idea of putting on a suit and heels, dropping the kids off with a sitter, and spend the day being intellectually stimulated and working on the tasks that I spent years getting an education for. I treasure the ability to be able to be with my kids, but some days are very long, even if the years are short. I have never been an anti-television mom, even before I had children. But, I sure have encountered others- both with children and without- who have quite the opinions on the subject.

With the month of July ending, I am feeling a bit stuck on that end, while enduring the unbearable heat of this crazy summer heat wave and the ensuing irritability of my children. I’m cranky, I’m irritable, and I’m tired. Now, with the allure of summertime quickly disappearing into a memory while anticipation for fall (and cooler weather) increases, I’m running out of ideas and my patience is short. I am having one of those weeks where I just feel the need to scream.

I strongly dislike this frame of mind I’m in, and then I become frustrated with myself and guilty. It is a little ridiculous at times how much pressure you can feel to reach that June Cleaver level of perfection. (Although without some type of medication, I’m not sure that’s possible) I know that sometimes I’m going to lack motivation and need to take a break. It really can be easier said than done, I suppose. It can be so hard to remember that even though we may be mom, we are still human.

So you know what? Even though winter will come and we’ll be indoors more for movie days and television days, I’m creating my own Christmas in July and allowing my children to watch a little extra television. And I’m saving my sanity.

What do you do when you have just had enough and need a break from your kids?

This post is linked up to Pour Your Heart Out at Shell’s Blog, Things I Can’t Say. Be sure to visit and follow her!

Photo credit here

Summertime: chaos or structure?

Note: This post was originally posted on the Deep South Moms Blog, a part of SV Mom’s Group that recently decided to shut down. As a result, I’m posting some stuff here that I originally contributed- with an update of course! This particular post suits Shell @ Things I Can’t Say’s (you’re reading her right? Because she’s fabulous) pour your heart out meme, as it touches on that all too-familiar feeling (you know the phrase is coming..) Mommy Guilt.

Summer is coming. I know this is inevitable every year, and I do love the warmer weather. However, all I could think about lately was last summer and the many long days I spent with my then 3 year old and 5 month old, trying to juggle activities and meet both of their needs. It was a very long summer before his preschool began. So as this summer approaches, I find myself wondering, what am I going to do with my son all summer long?

I realize this does not sound like the best statement for a stay at home mom of two to make regarding one of her children. However, last week my four year old son was home for the week from preschool for the Spring Break. I was so excited to spend the week with the two kids. I had planned adventures to the park, kid-gourmet picnics on the beach, strolls down to the marina. Yes, the three of us were going to have so much fun enjoying Spring Break.

And then reality set in.

The first day was a lot of fun. We ventured to the park and played on the swings and slides until the kids were exhausted. It was a beautiful day and we came home, tired but content. I put the kids down for their naps (at the same time, no less!) and settled into my household chores. Not more than twenty minutes later, my fourteen month old was up crying in pain, as those vicious molars are trying to push their way through her poor swollen gums. So of course, the four year old wakes up and is done with napping and is in a cranky state of mind. This sets the tone for the rest of the week. Pure chaos. Indeed, the days are long even if the years are short.

As the week drew to a close, I realized something else- summer was not far behind. I was going to be experiencing this every week, not just once in awhile. Two kids on two very different schedules, one who needs the naps and the other who is forced to be stuck at home while this happens. This was simply not going to go well. I realize people with multiple children do this all the time, but I just find myself wondering how.. because there was no way we were going to survive an entire summer by trying to find playgroup activities that suit both their ages (these do not exist, I am convinced).

Luckily, my son’s preschool offers a summer program. This will be great, he will have activities suited towards his age and get to interact with other children, my daughter can still get her naps, and I can keep my sanity. However, the mommy guilt slowly creeps in to encompass me, not entirely without credit to comments  made by friends and acquaintances. What kind of stay at home mom enrolls her child in a summer program? Is it not my job to be able to take care of and entertain my children on a daily basis? What kind of failure is this?

The answer: none. My child needs regular interaction and a structured schedule. I can provide that for him but without nearly as much fun as he will have going to a summer camp of sorts, with field trips and endless activities. I decided to enroll him in the half-day option. The best part for him is that he will be surrounded by kids his own age instead of a teething toddler. And we all will still have the afternoons together. It is the best of all worlds, and once I let the mommy guilt subside, I realized it was best for him too. So, my four year old goes to his summer camp program- and we all can enjoy our summer.

**Update: Since I posted this with the Deep South Moms Blog a while back, the Summer program has since begun. My son adores it. I spent the entire first day worrying that it was going to be too much. When I picked him up, his face was shining with excitement about what was coming tomorrow. When I asked if he wanted to spend more time at home with mommy, he looked at me with pure bewilderment and said “Why mommy? I wanna come back here.” Any guilt or feelings of inadequacy quickly vanished. He is thrilled and having a great time. And as my husband points out, I will have plenty of time to bond over the endless soccer practices and games that begin later this summer. Nothing like perspective to ease that Mommy Guilt.

Simply.. exhausted

Let me start by pointing out my adorable little girl in the picture. That was when she was only weeks old.. and now she is 16 months old! Where does the time go? Anyway, on to my point. I have writer’s guilt going on here. Not writer’s block- no, no, I have plenty of ideas. It’s writer’s guilt that is plaguing me at the moment. Am I the only one who has approximately ten half-finished posts waiting for their witty completion in LiveWriter? I have posts ready about my momfails, about the various states we have lived in, how my smartphone makes me dumb, and about maintaining a happy marriage just waiting to dazzle you. But quite frankly, sometimes life is just exhausting!

We have had a crazy few weeks. We traveled to Pennsylvania to watch my sister graduate from college and then we came back to my son’s end-of-year activities. Last week he had his preschool performance in which we confirmed he will most likely not enjoy a future in show business (sorry Broadway). This week has consisted of running around getting together Father’s Day gifts for the grandfathers and working on gifts for Daddy with the kids. Have you ever noticed how, as a mom, each holiday includes the requirement to purchase about ten times the gifts as you used to? Way back in the day, Father’s Day meant I bough my dad a gift and a card (usually a gift card, incidentally). Now, however, I need to get a gift to my dad and my husband’s dad, both cleverly including the kids in some way (can we say framed pictures of the adorable grandchildren people??). Everything has to be purchased, created, wrapped, and shipped in time for them to receive it.

Now, this time frame varies depending on what state we happen to be in, but this all combines with creating the perfect Father’s Day gifts from my children to my husband (on top of finding the right gift from me) and the end of year festivities of preschool. Not one to resist creating a tasty treat for preschoolers who would probably enjoy a bag of candy as much as my labor-intensive creations (remember the bunny pops?), I set out to create a summer-themed snack. It should also be noted I forever seem to be the last one to see the sheet. Napkins must be signed up for at approximately 6 am, and there is also the matter of the mom who signs up for the cookies every time—and buys them at the store. Now, I am not against store-bought treats, but do you know how many cookie cutters I have?? Come on lady, cut me some slack!

Sigh. I digress. Anyway, despite my limited craft abilities, I figure that I might as well make the effort. They’re only little once, and since I am a stay at home mom, I figure I might as well be “that mom” who creates completely adorable, if useless, snacks for the preschool parties. So, after spending the evening wrapping up tea-themed mugs for the teachers and finishing off the beach-themed cupcakes my son quickly ran out of patience in helping with, my brilliance is limited. I also suffer from a touch of perfectionism- I have such clear ideas on how I want to finish some of my posts so I refuse to allow myself to hit publish until I do. Except.. this leads me back to where we started, in which I am exhausted and run down from too much frenzy and left with ten unfinished drafts in Live Writer.

So, for now, my friends, I leave you the promise of dazzling summer posts delving into my deepest thoughts, and some posts about our recent mini-trips and family adventures. And, a photo of our cupcakes:

How do you keep your creativity when life exhausts you? (And is there anyone who gets to nap like that above?) How do you maintain that time for your writing when life is hectic?

Sick Day

We’re having a sick day here today. No, not me (at least not yet) but my four year old son. He is throwing up and running a fever, while my fifteen month old is a teething mess, wanting to play with her big brother! So for today, I’m calling in a sick day and would love to hear some advice from everyone!

What are your tips and tricks for when your little ones don’t feel well? What have you found works best? Please, share your thoughts & ideas in my comments today- I could use all the help I can get ;)

Sending healthy vibes to everyone!

Top 3 Thursday: One for the Ages

Get ready for tomorrow and the Ultimate Blog Party!! I will have an exciting announcement and a giveaway opportunity!

Be sure to go visit Elizabeth at Confessions From A Working Mom to link up your Top 3 Thursday this week!

What are your Top 3 favorite ages? (Or, your Top 3 favorite ages for your kids?)

I’m going with my Top 3 favorite ages for my kids so far!

3. Newborn Okay, the lack of sleep is not my favorite (though I did have it pretty easy with my son, my daughter more than made up for it!). But there is no feeling in the world like snuggling your new baby, feeling the weight of them as they snuggle into a deep sleep while laying on your chest. The act of opening their eyes and looking at the world around them is so significant it takes all of their energy. Knowing that you created this amazing little life and the endless possibilities that await this little person is an awe-inspiring feeling that is like no other.

2. Age Four. My son is about 4 1/2 right now, and it is such an amazing age. He is thoughtful, helpful, and a little crazy! He has so much energy and excitement about life. He wants to know about everything and retains information like a sponge. It is great to see his little boy personality rising out of toddlerhood and watch him become a little man. It’s amazing to watch how thoughtful he is, how he protects his little sister (even while taking toys from her!) and asks if we need anything when we are all sitting around. This sweet little boy makes me so proud and I love the little person he is becoming.

1. The teen months. I love the time between 1-2 years old. This is when I got baby fever so intense with my son that we stopped birth control immediately and spent the next two years trying for our daughter. They are these amazingly adorable little people at this age, perfecting walking and learning words for the first time. They become explorers, little adventurers learning about the world around them. Everything is new and exciting and when they do things for the first time, it is hard to say whether it is them or you who enjoy it more. I love everything about this age, and as they learn they still look to you for love and excitement. It is pure bliss, and the age my daughter is in right now. Hopefully this time the baby fever stays away..

Leave me a comment below and tell me what your favorite ages have been- for you or your kids!