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Take Five

6 Dec

In an effort to combat what my friend describes as “a case of early-onset crochety”, I am going to take 5. Five things that generally a)make me crazy b)stress me out c)lend themselves nicely to a rant and turn them into things I can be thankful for.

1. My kids. They are d)all of the above. Because of them I am broke, hungry, generally unshowered and sleep-deprived. But because of them I am also incredibly amusing. [Side note: Lil’ Sis just discovered the hide-things-behind-your-back-and-walk-sideways-so-Mommy-can’t-see-my-contraband trick. I wish you could see her.] And because of them I am also fulfilled, grateful and never, ever alone.

2. My car. It groans and creaks and is lacking two of its hubcaps, which of course, have to be special-ordered. But that baby got us to and from Kansas City last week, and can I just say how nice it is to have a whole row between us and our two Nosy Nancys? Wanna know why we take all these roadtrips? A full tank of gas and a portable dvd player are just about the only way we get to have an actual conversation.

3. My job. Because who really wants to work? I’ll tell you, it’s not me. I find work very inconvenient to my do-whatever-I-want schedule. But how in the world did I land a job that allows me to pretty much work when I can fit it in and where my bosses like Brother Bear (who generally tags along) more than they like me?

4. My personality. Let me just be honest. It is exhausting to be me. (Hence the sleeping on the bathroom floor routine.) The emotions I experience in an afternoon would last Mr. Dad a month. Or two. But I can be thankful for all this upheaval because I’d sure rather be unstable than bored. [Wish granted.]

5. My limitations. Gah. This is the one I’m finding most difficult to be thankful for. I want to do everything and do it to perfection. Unfortunately for me, I’m not that girl. I do lots of things, just not always well. But if I were perfect, none of you would read my blog. Because, admit it, you come here for stories of destruction and upheaval. I’m glad I can help. Consider my shortcomings a special Christmas gift to you–and one that never runs out.

What are you grrrr-ateful for today?

Attitude of Grrrrr-attitude

3 Dec

Whine: Morning and I do not get along. We never have. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of waking me up can attest to that–I once hit a girl who tried to wake me up on a long road trip (So sorry, Carmen). And yet, thanks to the magic of parenting, I no longer need an alarm clock.

Cheese: Despite an early-morning wake-up call, I haven’t hit anyone. Today. (Poor, poor Mr. Dad.)

I hate waking up so much that my mother used to come in my room blowing a whistle and banging to pot lids together like cymbals. And after I finally stumbled into a darkened bathroom to take my shower, I’d lay a towel on the floor and catch a few more minutes of shut-eye before my mom figured out that the shower wasn’t actually running and came back with her homemade marching band.

And here I am, a mother myself now. But I definitely have the opposite problem. These kids don’t need clanging cymbals to rouse them in the morning. The fluttering of a moth’s wings two doors down is sufficient. And forget about trying to use the bathroom between the hours of 5 and 7 am (which happens frequently when you are up with little babies) unless you want really crabby company for the rest of the day.

But mornings aren’t all bad. The fact that Brother Bear woke me well before 7 is the only reason I have time to blog today. So even though I grunted and scowled my way through the first few paragraphs, I’m almost glad to be awake. (It’s still before 9am; let’s not push it.)

That’s what we’re working on these days. Replacing cranky, whiny, stinky attitudes with gratitude. And the kids are working on it, too. At first there’s definitely a little more emphasis on the grrrr. But as we keep flexing our thankfulness muscles, finding the good stuff gets a little bit easier every time.

The other day, I wanted to try out this handy new reframing habit. I could hear the sisters were bickering in the back of the car. I couldn’t completely make out the words, but the tone was enough to inform me of their malicious intent. So I interrupted them and told them to each say something nice about the other.

Big Sis looked over at her beloved sister and said, in all seriousness, “Lil’ Sis, I like the way you have snot running out of your nose.”

Sigh.

In a related story, Christmas is a total beatdown for parents. Not just because of the hustle and bustle and teetering around financial pandemonium. But because of the challenge of teaching our kids to be content with a house bursting with toys and games they mostly don’t play with, despite the fact that they desperately need a whole ‘nother house filled with MORE toys and games for them to use once then ignore.

Which leads to pretty continuous conversations about what everyone else has and how much and how we can never be happy because she has the super-deluxe-edition dolly and I only have the regular-deluxe-edition one. Isn’t life SOOO unfair? And right as I’m schooling my sweetie that the best cure for a raging case of envy is to find all the good stuff you already have, I catch myself drooling over the souped-up 2011 minivan with all of its hubcaps that is driving by.

So I guess I’m thankful that I have kids that force me to face the sad, five-year-old state of my heart so we can learn contentment together. Or should I say grrrateful?

 

*Come back Monday for Part 2 of this post. Two posts in a week? Now that’s something to be thankful for.

 

Off the Charts

2 Jun

Whine: While feeding Sir Eats-A-Lot takes up many hours of my days (and nights), I am no longer the calorie-burning machine that I once was. I am actually going to have to cut down to two desserts a day and no more, I mean it, if I ever want this extra layer of baby blubber to come off. It’s not like I live on an ice floe and need the warmth for crying out loud, it was 98 degrees today.

Cheese:  On a positive health note, the children were making me sooooo insane the other day, that as soon as Mr. Dad got home, I left them and went jogging. That should illustrate exactly how crazy I felt because I really hate jogging. But exercise is exercise, even if you are doing it out of spite.

I took Brother Bear to the doctor today for his two-month check up.

Let’s just say he’s doing fine. Ok, more than fine. Alright, I’ll admit it, he’s spectacular.

After the nurse came and measured him, the doctor came in and plotted all Brother Bear’s info onto the growth chart. Or, in regards to his height, more accurately OFF of the growth chart. As in, here’s the 100th percentile over here, and there’s Brother Bear way over there. That kid is tall. (I told you so.)

His jammies have little weiner dogs all over them, just to illustrate the fact that he is an unusually long baby.

And so of course I’ve been beaming and bragging all day about my exceptional son. As if my genes have anything to do with that. And as if being tall is better. Because as a [ahem] petite woman, I would beg to differ.

No, I think I am just excited because I finally have a piece of paper that proves what I have known deep down in my heart from the minute the nurse settled all screaming nine and a half pounds of him into my arms just two months ago. My son is extraordinary.

Of course he is. He’s mine.

And I’ve watched him grow and change since before he was even born. Watched him blow tiny bubbles through the grainy screen in the sonogram room. (Now that I know him, he was probably snoring.) Watched him shed that flattened ‘just born’ face and turn into a handsome little guy. Watched his expressions change from those hazy newborn gazes to the sweet, responsive smiles he saves just for his Mommy.

How could I not think he is the most amazingly gifted kid on earth? Even though I read the Expecting books and know that kids all over the world have been growing and smiling at their Mommies for all of time, getting to watch it happen in front of my face makes me think that no other person could possibly understand what a prodigy he is. ‘Look, he can turn his head away to protect himself from the sister onslaught now. How sweet.’

People keep asking me how it feels to have a son now. At first, besides the obvious need for much quicker diaper changes, I thought it really wasn’t that much different because he was small and wrinkly and cute, just like his sisters. Not old enough to reach for the Tonka instead of the Cinderella, I really felt like he was more baby than anything else.

But then something caught me by surprise (although I’d been duly warned). I fell in love with the little booger. (He already has a lot of those, is that weird?). I certainly don’t love him more than his sisters, it’s just different. I love having that tender mother-daughter connection with my girls. So with a son, missing all that handy estrogen, the bond comes from another place.

Already, so much of what makes him him comes directly from the person I love most in this world. His daddy. The red hair. The incredibly long legs. The snoring.

Baby Mr. Dad

Is it just me or do I have clone situation on my hands?

I think there’s something about seeing my beloved hubby in miniature form that just makes any response other than melting adoration inappropriate, if not impossible. And I’m sure someday the charm will wear off, at least a little bit, but it will be replaced by the gratification of getting to put at least one of the very adorable, but trying men in my life in time out.

Mr. Dad and his brother Ngo Minh. I can't decide which of them is more adorable.

Look alikes? Case closed.

All of this is to say that even though your kid may or may not be tall, when it all comes down to it, we all think our kids with their long legs or giant heads or amazingly accurate impressions of a scarlet macaw are the best.  And they are. Because our love for them is what makes them off the charts.

PS Speaking of off the charts, Aaron’s vocal range in this video is amazing. Too bad he was born a few generations after the Bee Gees.

PPS Yes, I am a horrible, horrible person for recording this. But the cuteness was just too much.

PPPS He’s fine now. I promise.

Private Eyes, They’re Watchin’ You

12 May

Whine: You know you have a problem when you’re straining your cold Diet Coke through a sieve to see if it’s still drinkable after your two-year-old takes a sip with a mouthful of half-chewed peanut m&ms. It’s not, by the way.

Cheese: I have a new blog design. For Mother’s Day I gave myself the gift of letting Mr. Dad do the dishes while I monkeyed around with Photoshop to make my very own Whine and Cheese picture header. And it’s darn cute, if I do say so myself, although it kind of makes it look like I have twelve kids. Yikes, even I’m not that crazy.

That video was fun, wasn’t it? What’s not fun about an ironic 80s mullet and shoulder pads?

I recently made the mistake of taking inventory of my post-Brother-Bear physique. (Can you still call it a physique if it’s made of 97.25% JELL-O?). The highly scientific process of pinching my ample muffin-top and other related squishy parts revealed that it was high time to get off this couch that I’ve been sitting on so long I’m actually not sure where it begins and I end. Afraid to brave The Gym with The Children, I settled for getting verbally slapped around by a woman who has abs that look like they were built by the third little piggy and his bricks. Mine look more like the abs of the actual little piggy himself. Although in my defense, my abs have had to accommodate whole other human beings and whatnot, but Jillian sure does not care when she’s yelling at me to DO. MORE. CRUNCHES.

Anyway, what was I saying? I get easily distracted when I’ve had to dump most of my Diet Coke down the drain. Ah, yes, my helpers. So I was huffing and puffing (can you tell what book we’ve been reading around here lately?), doing pathetic girl pushups and Lil’ Sis was climbing on my back. You know, like you see in those movie montages about people getting all buff and having other people sit on their back to demonstrate their buffness. Except in my case I can’t even support my own weight, so adding hers really didn’t do much because I was basically just lying flat on the floor anyway. I thought maybe Jillian would give me an A for effort. But then again she would probably just kick me in the head, but I’m not sure.

Then Big Sis stripped down to her “workout attire” which was a pair of blue tights with strawberries on it and not a whole lot else. So we were all in the living room doing jumping jacks and crunches and hip circles with varying degrees of success and grace, and I was doing my best not to jump, crunch or circle on top of anyone. We all managed to survive the workout somehow, although my trek to the shower was slow and agonizing. Did you know that lunges hurt even worse after you stop doing them and try to walk?

I got in the shower. Have I told you about my new shower?? It’s like my own personal sanctuary. It’s the nicest room in my house, actually, designed and built for me by Mr. Dad, the Michaelangelo of tile design. It has pretty new fixtures that aren’t chipped and rusty, little custom insets for my shampoo and a bench. It’s glorious. Our water bill is really going to be awful now, because I’m going to set up a permanent residence in there. Sorry, I told you I was distracted today. . . I was sudsing up when I heard a tiny voice paging me from other side of the shower curtain. Since I was halfway through shaving my leg (which is so much easier in my new shower, have I told you about my new shower? with the bench? for leg shaving?), I had no other option but to let my tiny interloper hop into the shower with me. Which meant answering lots of questions about exactly what I was doing, and how exactly do you explain leg shaving to a two-year old who imitates everything you do? I could see exactly how the gory reenactment would go. So I tried my best to be surreptitious and get out of the shower before her internal danger-magnet fixed itself on my razor.

My exercise and leg-shaving exploits got me thinking about motherhood. Right now I spend much of my life as I imagine the people who train monkeys do: “Sit here, eat this, don’t pee on that, wave on cue, please don’t stick that in your mouth.” But what my chronic lack of personal space, property and privacy has shown me is that motherhood is about a whole lot more than telling people to eat their peas, which is a good thing because they rarely do.  For me, motherhood is about shaping people with values, and not just the ones you can get at Wendy’s for 99 cents.

But values don’t come around just because I try to do the right thing in front of my kids. I can eat my peas and drink my water to try and trick my kids into eating a decent meal, but eventually one of them is going to catch me squirting the whipped cream directly into my mouth and then the jig is up. I’m busted. (No, seriously. I got off the phone with someone the other day so she wouldn’t have to listen to the hissing of the aerosol can as I gulped down that creamy goodness. Did I mention my gelatinous physique? I wonder if there’s a correlation.)  I can also tell my kids that in our house we use a kind voice and we don’t dissolve into hysterics just because our sister decided she also likes the color red and if you don’t stop yelling you’re going to time out. But if I throw a conniption fit when they dump a cup full (or ten) of water onto my bathroom floor, I’m pretty sure I’ve negated the whole “we use a kind voice” baloney I was trying to feed them.

I’m not saying I have to be perfect. I mean, I’d really, really like to be perfect, but that’s not the point. The point is that I can say the right thing most of the time and I can do the right thing lots of times while my kids are looking, but in the end, what I really care about is going to show up and ooze out, and I just hope it’s not whipped cream. I’d love them to pick up on the fact that I think the book is always better than the movie and helping a friend matters more than almost anything else. I hope what they see when I think they aren’t looking is that I think their Dad hung the moon even if I once and a while slug him in the shoulder. And that even if I sometimes lose my cool over bathwater, I really believe that they are the Most Amazing Kids in the Universe.  So as long as that’s who I am and what’s inside of me, I think that’s what they’ll see because, believe me, those little eyes don’t miss much, especially if you’re trying to hide your m&ms.