Listen To Your Mother

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Do it, listen to her, she probably knows best.

But really…

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I didn’t know much about this national show when I first heard about it last year in a professional sense. Someone I’d come to know through work had sent me a press release asking for people to audition with stories of motherhood — stories about their own mom, about being a mom themselves, watching their wife or partner be a mom… I instantly thought, “Michael should do this!”

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Right then he was elbow deep in intense momming. Miles was going to preschool for just three hours a day four days a week and Owen was just a few months old. I had only been in this new position for a few months and was working way more hours than any one person should along with being gone a lot of Project Reveal and other various commitments. He was doing a lot of the momming. I say “momming” because that’s how the outside world saw what he was doing.

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Really what Michael was doing was being a parent. He wasn’t being Mr. Mom; he wasn’t “babysitting;” he certainly wasn’t doing me or us as a couple any favors. If the roles were reversed and he was working 60 hours a week and helping run a nonprofit not a single eye would bat.

Am I right?

But there was some batting. There was even some finger wagging. And I’m sure some gossiping as well if we are to be completely honest here.

Anyway, back to Listen To Your Mother… I sent him the press release and blurbs about the auditions no less than 28 times. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration; it may have only been 18 times. But I thought he would be great. Michael is a genius writer; so much better than me (or is it I, see, he’d know.) And he’s hilarious. I am only ever funny unintentionally. I mean, I can be funny but it is typically at my own expense like I’ve fallen or am clueless of some well-known pop culture reference.

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But alas, he refused to apply.

“There’s no way I’m getting on a stage. NEVER!”

The second year rolled around. I tried again. And again. And again.

On try 33 he said, “OK, if you’ll do it with me and you’ll finally leave me alone I’ll do it.”

But this was about 10 p.m. the night before the last audition. We hadn’t prepared anything. He was working until midnight. We hadn’t arranged for childcare the next day for the auditions.

All keys to success. Right?

So, we essentially wrote the piece back and forth over Facebook messenger while he worked (don’t mind us Courier & Press bosses) and read through it one time around 1 a.m. when he got home.

The next day we packed up our crazy, heathen children hoping for the best thinking the bribe of “really awesome, fun, exciting stuff” after the audition would keep the quiet for five minutes.

Fall 2014

“Five minutes, please,” I begged of Miles in a sincere whisper.

“Of course,” he said, with an evil, little glint in his eye.

We started and not 30 seconds in they started bouncing off the walls. I see chocolate scattered about the table for those auditioning. I grab for it blindly, still reading our piece, maddeningly unwrapping the crinkly foil and the boys scream and prance about turning into howler monkeys in mere seconds literally pounding on the windows.

I start tossing the chocolate on the floor hoping for just a few seconds of silence. I don’t think twice about the sugar, the artificial whatevers, the germs… none of it matters. There’s a few moments of peace.

Who knows if our piece is any good. The true reason we made it in the show was the chocolate tossing.

Thanks boys!

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Come hear for yourself as we are joined by 12 other incredible women telling stories about motherhood. Part of the proceeds go to benefit 4C Play and Learn. It is 7 p.m. Saturday at AIS Diamond (Old North High School on Stringtown.) Tickets are available at the door for $20 but online for $15 by visiting www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2505159.

 

Be nice, seriously

The lessons learned as a child are endless. And while as a third grader I didn’t always understand them (especially any of them involving math) or realize how they would impact me well beyond childhood, I’m eternally grateful for the things my parents taught me.

Kindness was one of the most valuable lessons. But this idea of “kindness” is kind of (see what I did there) nebulous. I mean, if I were to tell Miles, “Make sure you’re always kind,” his immediate 4 year old response would be, “What’s kind mean momma?” Because this kid, ever a journalist’s kid, is FULL of questions.

So, in my never-ending quest to be 1/10th of the parent to my boys that my mom and dad were to my sister, I’ve been working to instill the importance of kindness. One way I’ve tried to illustrate it is by including EVERYONE.

I remember as a kid when we had a birthday party we would have two choices — we’d invite every girl in the class (because, ewwwww, boys!) or our two closest friends. It was an all or nothing kind of thing. If you invited seven of nine… now that’s just mean. Or even worse, eight of nine. Imagine being that ninth little girl without an invitation!

Guess what guys, I’ve been that ninth little girl. And woman. Yep, apparently everyone didn’t have awesome parents like mine. Nope, they didn’t have parents who taught them the importance of kindness and including everyone. No, you don’t have to be every one’s best friend. Heck, you don’t have to be everyone’s friend. But would it kill you to be kind?

Let me help you out… the answer is, “No.” Not only will it not hurt you to be kind, it will also help teach your children the importance of that lesson. We may think we are teaching our children something by telling them to do it, but if we ourselves aren’t modeling it… well, it’s just not all that valuable.

OK, my tree-hugging, kindness-loving self is going to go meditate in my office. Go do something kind now.

 

Embracing my inner worrywart

As a mother, you worry about everything, all the time. At least I do.

“Is that cough OK? Should he be walking like that? Is that rash normal?”

And it seems like, when discussing your concerns about your kids with other parents, the conversation almost always ends with the same expected, well-intentioned answer.

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“Don’t worry, he’s fine. Everything is OK.”

I’ll be the first to admit this is true most of the time. Probably like 98 percent of the time.

But sometimes it’s not.

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That’s why it’s so important to trust your parental instincts.

For us, what set off warning bells was Owen’s speech, or lack thereof. At 15 months old he wasn’t talking, at all.

He’d eked out one word. I was blessed that the one word he chose to scream over and over again was some variation of “mom.”

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In the next month or so he added “dada” to his vocabulary. But that was it.

From 16-18 months babies typically are saying 20 to 50 words. Owen was saying two. So at his 15-month checkup, our pediatrician didn’t say, “Everything is going to be OK.”

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Instead, she said, “Let’s go ahead and refer him for early intervention.”

I was so prepared to just hear, “everything is fine” that hearing something different was a bit of a shock to the system.

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We had our assessment with the First Steps program Tuesday and are looking forward to getting the ball rolling with speech and physical therapy to address some other issues discovered a few weeks later.

Meanwhile, in the weeks leading up to his first speech appointment and at nearly 19 months old — like a car that only works right when the mechanic is looking at it — Owen’s vocabulary has exploded, relatively speaking. He now says “TV,” (T) “Mickey” (Icky), “ball,” “hungry” (gee,) “night-night,” “dog,” “baby,” “hi” and “bye-bye,” among a few others.

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He even counts “one-two-three” and can identify and say the colors yellow and red — at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

He’s still behind, but it’s a good start. And it certainly didn’t hurt anything to look into getting some extra help.

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I am a worrier. It comes along with motherhood.

It’s also genetic; I come from a long line of worrywarts. Even as a toddler, I’m told, one of my most frequently spoken phrases was “I no worry!” — spoken while literally chewing my blanket with my whole body shaking.

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So I do need to hear quite often that, in fact, “It is OK.”

But sometimes it isn’t OK … and that’s hard. But it isn’t the end of the world.

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You can’t use my kid to cover up your hate or fear

I bite my tongue a lot. I’m afraid of offending friends or family or possibly sources. But what good is this blog, my blog about MY opinion and thoughts if I don’t get a little controversial every once in a while.

So I’m done. Please stop using your kids as an excuse to be hateful.

Here’s what Target said, among other things, in a recent statement that is causing the good ol’ world of Mommy blogs and the far right (among other extremes) to call for a protest of Target:

“Inclusivity is a core belief at Target. It’s something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.

“We believe that everyone—every team member, every guest, and every community—deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally.”

I’m struggling with finding the danger in this. Let’s all hold our breath and quiver as we read about the scary, scary world of acceptance. A world where we respect and welcome people. OH NO!

Specifically, Target says they welcome transgendered team members and guests to use the bathroom or fitting room that corresponds with their gender identity.

Naturally, many are under the assumption that these transgendered guests or staff are all sexual predators just waiting for Target to loosen the reigns on their policy and are just waiting to grab up our children to assault them.

So of course… let’s protest! I hate it for Target because it is bad for their bottom line. But I’m happy to not be rubbing elbows with people filled with such hate.

I mean, what are you scared of? Do you think Target telling people they are accepted all of a sudden makes your kids at risk?

“The left has always won on gay marriage, and now they are slowly making more perverted things acceptable.

It should be left up to private companies, and not state governments, to set bathroom policies. But why would anyone feel safe in Target… especially women and young ladies? How can parents feel comfortable sending their daughters into the Target restroom?” From thepoliticalinsider.com

There are folks protesting on Target’s Facebook, and LOTS of blogs and angry, indignant Facebook posts. Here’s one: “Will never spend another dime at target as long as Targett supports men in women’s restroom. Way to promote Pepping toms and perverts” (spelling is not mine.)

The thing is, that little placard with a straight-legged stick person or a stick person with a triangle bottom outside of it before wasn’t going to protect our kids. Nope. So this new policy — a policy of acceptance, tolerance and equality — doesn’t all of a sudden make our kids in mortal danger.

And for people who are scared of things they don’t understand or know, or even worse for people who don’t like it or hate it, to use the excuse “but I’m protesting out of fear for my child (or your child/wife/daughter/sister’s) safety” …. NOPE! Big, fat NO.

You can’t use my kid to cover up your hate or fear.

Lifetime of memories just starting to be made

These days, it seems like every little moment with the kids is one of those things that makes me understand just how fast they’re growing up.

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And just how little time we have to soak everything in.

It can be hectic having two little kids — especially when both of them happen to be boys. The noise, the messes, the half-eaten dinners, the refusals to go to bed — it can absolutely be overwhelming at times. There are moments where I’m so exhausted I could cry.

But then there’s the first tee-ball practice, a kindergarten orientation, even an after-school dentist appointment (no cavities, thank you very much) that make you understand just how important it is to take stock in the moment and count your blessings.

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And that was just with one kid, just last week.

At tee-ball practice last week, Miles stepped up to the plate with his brand-new green bat — he’s very proud of his green bat — and smacked a ground ball between first and second base. He stood there as everyone cheered and shouted for him to run for first.

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After a few seconds he remembered to run, taking off for first base — then, halfway there, took an abrupt left turn, diving on his own ground ball, reminding us all what it’s like to be a kid — grass-stained pants and all.

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Michael was so proud.

“He totally sold out for that ball,” Michael said. “He’s like the Pete Rose of tee-ball.”

That’s the kind of story parents tell about their children for a lifetime.

Other people often tell me when I’m out and about with the boys, “Make this time count, it goes by too fast,” and it seems like that has become extra true lately for some reason.

It seems like just yesterday we were bringing Miles home from the hospital for the first time, going 20 miles an hour the whole way, excited, nervous and in no way prepared for what being parents was all about.

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Suddenly, that little boy is nearly 5 years old and is preparing to start kindergarten. We toured his new kindergarten. I feel like if I keep saying it, somehow it will seem more real and less scary. I just can’t believe how the time has gone by just like that.

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Owen turned 18 months just about a week ago. He’s already making couch cushion forts in the living room, dancing and singing along with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, getting into anything and everything he can. We know that it won’t be long before we can’t (or at least shouldn’t) call him “the baby” anymore.

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And as bittersweet as it can be to see them growing up so fast, I am incredibly lucky.

There have been — and still will be — moments of frustration, tantrums and tears, from them and me. And in those moments I may be counting down the minutes to bedtime. What I’m choosing to focus on is the lifetime of memories — mostly amazing — yet to be made. There’s a world of firsts ahead.

And knowing that is the best blessing of all.

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KINDGERGARTEN round up day!

It’s here; it’s here! I can’t believe the day is here.

I’m trying so very hard to focus on the excitement of today — Miles gets to meet his new teacher, see his new classroom, visit is new school!

Yep, I keep repeating those things in my head — fun, exciting, new!

Fun!

Exciting!

New!

Fun! (Did we make the right decision?)

Exciting! (Is he ready?)

New! (Will he fit in?)

I’m going to throw up!

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Seriously, I’m not just saying that. My stomach has been doing flip-flops all day. I’ve done so much anxious toe-tapping and ankle jiggling that my feet are for sure going to be beach ready. All that’s missing is the pacing, and the closer it gets to 4:30 (start time for round-up) the more likely I am to be worked up to a full-on panicked, pacing parent.

Michael won’t be able to join me; he has to work. Thankfully my aunt is going to watch Owen so I don’t have to juggle into everything 1 1/2 year old extraordinaire and I can 100 percent focus on Miles, who is 100 percent unfazed by this daunting undertaking.

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“Kindergarten, cool,” he said this morning.

I’m sure we made the right decision. OK, maybe we didn’t. Who knows? We’ll never know. We’ll always second guess. EVERY DECISION, right. I think that comes with the territory.

We will ALWAYS wonder if he is ready. Again, I think that’s parenting 101 and totally a moving target. I still wonder if I’m ready. I often turn around and say, “What, I own a house? I’m someone’s boss? I have to adult today? Am I ready for all that?”

And I’m terrified about him fitting in. Heck, I don’t know if I fit in or if I want him to fit in… How I want him to fit in? This parenting stuff is SO HARD!

Back in the saddle

miles momCan I blame being a working parent for the fact that I haven’t kept up with my blog about being a working parent?

I’m the worst; I’m sorry.

But I’m vowing to be better.

My admission about being the worst is the first step. You see, what happens is is that I say, “OK, it’s been three days since you last posted.. what’s one more day?” Then it is four days… and then five. And then I’m like, “Yikes, it’s been two weeks since you last posted. You have to post. And it’s been so long it has to be incredible. It has to be so good. Your legions of fans (AKA your mom, well maybe not even your mom anymore because I think you still haven’t rebookmarked the page after she got a new laptop and your mom knows nothing about RSS feeds — let’s be real, you know nothing about RSS feeds) have been waiting.” So those huge expectations are tough.

And a couple of weeks turn until nearly a month.

So I put a stop to it! I bit the bullet. Instead, I’m writing about… not writing. Yep; I’m that cool. Here I am, blogging about being a terrible blogger. And, once again, vowing to not be so terrible.

I’ll fail, again.

If you read between the lines, this is pretty true to real life, at least for me. Life is kind of like this. We expect things to go one way. And for a good long while they do; they go swimmingly well — perfect, smooth sailing. Daily (or mostly daily) blog posts, or whatever life’s equivalent of that is to you. And then there is some small hiccup. A busier than normal day and you don’t get a blog post up. Life throws a curve ball at you; a unexpected bill, an illness, a child does something you never expected. That small bump in the road gets a bit bigger, and in what seems like an instant it turns into a giant pot hole.

And in the right circumstances it could turn into the Grand Canyon. Man, I’ve been there.

But we have to realize that it’s OK.

We’ll be OK.

We can pick up the pieces.

We can start again.

What is important is to be forgiving of ourselves and to remember that as we need support and forgiveness in the times of chaos and turmoil in our lives, we too need to provide that support to those around us who may be facing bumps of their own.

Be kind.

Parental amnesia

Parental amnesia — it’s a thing. Honestly, without it the world would cease to exist. If we didn’t forget lots of things (the swollen feet, contractions, sleeping in 20 minute intervals, discovering crusty spit up 2 hours into your work day) we’d never venture back into the baby making business. But it doesn’t stop at those early first few months. Oh no…

Just the other day, Michael and I were having a rough day and I thought, “We should go out to dinner, a nice treat.”

Hahahahaha!!!!!

I know, I know, I know. Those of you not suffering from parental amnesia or in the throes of living in my world who haven’t blocked out what it’s really like know how silly of a thought that really was.

“Honey, let’s go out to eat. It’ll give us a break from dishes, cooking. You wanted Mexican the other night. Let’s go!”

We walk in and are immediately seated in the “kids section” which started to rouse me from my parental amnesia.

I looked over at the nice couple with the well behaved, I’m guessing 6-year-old girl, dining quietly. There was an entire row of empty seats and the host sat us literally RIGHT ACROSS FROM THEM. Owen could nearly swat them with his grubby little hands.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

This is the kind of dining we'll stick to...

This is the kind of dining we’ll stick to…

I didn’t say this with my eyes. Nope, I meant it so much I said it with my words, an apologetic smile and my eyes. Throughout the meal as my amnesia quickly cleared away I was tempted to apologize by pulling out my wallet.

There was running around. There was lots of non-inside voice usage. There was food tossing. There were beans smeared in hair. Very little food was eaten. Very little adult conversation was had. The only thing I think Michael and I felt treated to was some judgement from other diners.

How quickly we forgot our pledge to never leave the house with toddlers again. If I look back on this very blog I will see similar posts written about similar outings taken with just one kiddo. Now that my amnesia has lifted I recall one trip quit vividly… there were several spilled drinks, countless tantrums and I can’t count how many times I picked his cup up off the floor… But the other day, I’d blocked that out completely. I’d blocked out the promise Michael and I had made to ourselves and all Tri-State dinners to stay home so everyone could eat in peace.

So, once again, we take the pledge.

Until parental amnesia sets in again…

 

 

Ready for kindergarten?!?

It can’t be possible.

Just yesterday I was encouraging him to walk.

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Wasn’t it last week that he was smearing a peanut butter sandwich in his baby soft ringlet-filled hair?

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But it is… and I have to.

Today, this afternoon, in about three hours I’m registering my kid for kindergarten.

I CAN’T BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT OUT. I still haven’t been able to say it aloud. That makes it real, right? It becomes a thing if I verbalize it, right? (And we all know what happens when it becomes a real, live thing, right? I cry. I cry a lot!)

In addition to not feeling like it is possible that my little guy is growing up, I also have conflicted thoughts. Is he ready for this? I’m a planner (shocking I know) and in my head he was going to be in preschool another year.

That was the plan. Well it wasn’t always the plan…

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The original plan was for him to start preschool at 3 (he started nine days after his third birthday actually) and to go two years, the first just a few days a week and the second on a more fulltime basis to prepare him for Kindergarten.

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It was all planned out in my own head. But then the outside world weighed in.

“Oh, you can’t start him in school this young!” “Boys need more time to mature before starting school.” “You’re setting him up for failure!” “Let him have more time to just be a kid and play; there’s plenty of time for school.” “He’ll never be ready for kindergarten that young!”

Shhhhhewwwwww….. (that’s the sound of the wind releasing from my sails.)

So, I did some Googling (I know, it’s a terrible idea) and found all kinds of articles to support the idea that boys who are a “young 5” struggle with the adjustment and are better off being “held back” a year. Miles’ July 20 birthday puts him just 11 days before the cut off.

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I was convinced. He CAN’T possibly be ready for Kindergarten. The new plan was hatched.

Fast forward nearly two years… I stop by the office at my son’s preschool asking about registering him for next year.

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“Won’t he be 5 by the cutoff?” the secretary asks me.

“Yes, but we’re choosing for him to stay in preschool an extra year,” I respond plainly… doesn’t she get that that’s the plan? It’s already been established.

“You can’t do that. It’s not an option.”

CRASH. SLAM. BOOM.

There goes my plan.

Several panicked phone calls, some more Googling and a few tears. I learn she’s right. We could choose to enroll Miles in private preschool but if we want him to stay in the public school system he will be starting kindergarten this year. GASP.

I once again opened myself up to advice and insight. Some of the same folks who two years ago thought it would be a terrible idea gave me encouraging thoughts. They knew Miles and said he was ready. His current preschool teacher was supportive, other family and friends calmed my fears as well.

And guess what, the good ol’ Google found me several articles supporting the fact that my kiddo actually will survive. And maybe, just maybe, mom will too.

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So… moral of the story, heck I don’t know. I’m too worried about registering for Kindergarten to make any sense today!