Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Good Enough Mom

Today was a crappy day. The kind of day where one thing after another keeps going wrong. Any one of those things wouldn't be enough to ruin your day but add them all together and you get a day when you'd rather just go back to bed and start over.

After struggling through the day, we got to the critical point that comes every afternoon: after school but not yet dinner time. During this time ever single day, the little people in my house fall apart.

"She hit me!"

"He is looking at my stuff!"

"I need pribacy (privacy) and she won't leave me alone!"

"He stole my toy!"

You get the picture. We were at that point this afternoon when I decided to join the ranks of the Tired and Falling Apart. I separated the kids and forbid them to even look at each other. I stomped my foot. I pointed my finger. I yelled.

Oh yes, I did.

When I finally left the room to make dinner, they were playing nicely together. It was then that the guilt set in. I lost my cool over my kids acting like...kids. It has always been a pet peeve of mine to see adults chastise kids because they aren't acting like adults. I have sworn never to do it. Yet, here I was standing in my kitchen on the verge of tears because I allowed a bad day to get the best of me.

I'm not saying that I'm usually perfect or that I never lose my cool. Let's be real. It's just that I knew as I stood there that my meltdown earlier was because of me and not because of anything they did or didn't do.

By the time Big Daddy got home, I explained the whole thing to him near tears.

"This doesn't make you a bad Mom," he offered.

I knew this. I really did.

As Moms, we tend to beat ourselves up over the tiniest of decisions, words and actions. We expect nothing short of perfection from ourselves and when we don't deliver (because it's impossible!) it takes forever to get over it and move on.

The difference between being a Good Mom and a Good Enough Mom is realizing that you messed up, apologizing for it and moving on. I spent the afternoon feeling like Good Enough Mom was miles above me. I assure you that tonight I will fall asleep thankful to be a Good Mom.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Kindergartners

Alternate title: Things That They Don't Tell You When You Give Birth

So, I know you're all tired of my ranting about how emotional I am now that Sister is spending all day at school and I promise that this isn't the same type of rant. It may be a distant cousin of that rant but it's not the same.

Let me give you a quick review of the things that are being discussed in our house now that we have a child in Kindergarten. Things I thought wouldn't come for a few more years.

We don't kiss boys at school. It pains me to type this and I can't provide many more details for fear of breaking down and needing one of you to come over and pick me up from the sobbing mess I'll become. There is a boy that has asked my daughter to be his girlfriend. She promptly told him that she wasn't allowed to be a girlfriend until she's 28 because her Daddy said so. He then asked if maybe someday they could get married. She said she would think about it. Then, she kissed him. It was just on the arm but people, it took her five full minutes to get to that part of the story and by that time I was hyperventilating. Oy.

It's ok to be "girlfriend" to a girl. Ok, wait. I definitely will elaborate on that one. Sister has a good friend at school who one day called her "girlfriend" in a way that was like, "Hey girlfriend, let's head over to the monkey bars." Sister, sticking to her guns on this rule, explained that she can't be a girlfriend until she's at least 28. I'm not sure we ever actually told her this but hey, at least she's trying to remember something we taught her while she's out kissing boys learning physics and phonics.

Sometimes boys are mean to you because they like you. The first two weeks of school, we thought we had a bully situation on the playground and Sister was upset about it. I was furious that this was happening so early and I went to chat with the teacher about it. Turns out, it's the boy from the first rule up there and he was just being, you know, a boy. Also, he's being a boy when he runs to hug her goodbye every day and asks her to marry him. Is it wrong to wish I could send Brother to school with her to beat this kid up?

For the love of all things holy, stop rolling your eyes. Stop saying words that aren't allowed here but happen to be just dandy at the house of your friends. Stop acting like everything I say is wrong. (Seriously, she went from believing every word that came out of my mouth to doubting me when I say ANYTHING. I'm pretty sure she doesn't even believe I'm her mother anymore.)

I did get a glimpse of the girl I used to know this weekend when she came and curled up next to me on the couch to snuggle while we watched a movie. That night, we were talking about our favorite part of the day and she assured me that her very favorite part of every day is her snuggle time with me. I'm holding on to that, little girl, I'm holding on to that so tightly.

I wanted to tell you all, I'm over at Beth's place (I Should Be Folding Laundry) today guest posting while she's away. Take a look!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hey Mama, Welcome to the 80's

As a child of the 80's, you'd think I would be thrilled as I take notice of the fashion trends that are making a comeback from the fair decade of my childhood. You'd think wrong.

First, my body isn't the pre-pubescent wonder that it was in the 80's. (Try to contain your shock.) Therefore, you won't find me donning the floral leggings that are all over my local Target.
Of course, they wouldn't be quite as flattering as these beauties I ran across at Express:
I'm not going to point out how the Target model is more 2008 me and the Express model is more "Maybe someday but probably not until I'm in Heaven" me. Nope, not even going to mention that.
Next up: Argyle. It's back, baby. Drag out that sweater that you wore in your 5th grade school picture and you're high fashion. Of course, I'd have to gap up my bangs the way my Mom did for my school picture to really feel the memories but I don't want to talk about that, either.
Yes, I'm feeling right at home with these trends. They take me back to a time when life was carefree. A time when the only concerns I had were if I finished my math homework or if the zit on my chin would go away before Monday. Those were the days. Wait a second, I wonder if that zit on my chin is gone away yet?
What are some trends you'd like to see come back? Some you'd like to see disappear forever? Personally, I'd love to see the skinny jean quickly disappear and never come back.
Now excuse me while I drag out my leggings, jean skirt, argyle sweater and jelly shoes.
**Click any of the above pictures to be taken to the page where you can buy them. You know, if you're inclined to do something like that. This is not a paid endorsement. Trust me.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grocery Shopping With a Three Year Old

Brother has become my grocery store companion lately and for the most part, he's awesome in that role.

No matter where we are, Brother loves to engage people in conversation and tell them stories. Since we shop at the commissary on base, we encounter a lot of senior citizens who have retired from the military. They always show Brother extra attention and he loves every second of it.

Before I continue, I'm just going to throw in a little tidbit of information about Brother. He only has one level of volume and that is LOUD. Now that I've put that out there, let's move on.

This morning as we did our shopping trip, an elderly gentleman approached Brother and asked how he was doing.

"Good, thanks!"

As the man patted his head and walked away, Brother turns to me.

"MOM, HE ONLY HAD ONE TOOTH. WHY DOES HE ONLY HAVE ONE TOOTH? WHERE ARE HIS OTHER TEETH?"

I tried to distract him with Disney character shaped graham crackers but he wasn't having it. He just needed to know. Everyone around giggled except the man, who didn't turn back to look at us and I'm just praying that he didn't hear.

Two minutes later, we were in the meat aisle. I'm browsing the hamburger sales and Brother decides it's time for a little heart to heart.

"Mom, why don't you ever pray to God?"

Looking around to make sure our Pastor isn't shopping today, I say, "Son, of course I pray to God."

"YOU DO?"

"Yes, Brother, I do."

"Well, I think you need to stop right now and pray with me."

"Brother, you really want to pray in the grocery store?"

"Yes. I think you need to pray right now and ask God to give us a baby. We need a baby. And, a pet. So, let's pray now."

Ya'll, I wish I was making this up. By the time this conversation was over, I expected people to start kneeling and laying hands on me in the hamburger section. They were so engaged that I had to smile and run away to keep from taking part in the "Ask Jesus for a baby and a dog" party that was about to take place.

Dear Lord, I pray that I can get my shopping done from now on when Brother is in preschool. Amen.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Strangers

Remember the days when kindergarten was all about recess and coloring? Going to elementary school was fun and you always felt safe. Those days are behind us.

Recently, Sister came home from school talking about a drill they did that day. She was excited to explain it to me but couldn't remember what it was called. After a guessing game on my part (Fire? No. Tornado? No. Hurricane? No.) she just described what they did.

Without describing the whole thing, I'll tell you that it was in preparation for the worst thing I can imagine happening. It was an Intruder Drill. My Kindergartner was practicing for what they'd do if a "stranger" came into the school and they needed to be safe.

As she talked about it, I felt a tightness forming in my chest. Hot tears were welling in my eyes. I am so thankful that the school has the foresight to practice this. Yet, I'm extremely sad that it's necessary. I'm glad that she viewed this drill as something routine and even a little fun. Yet, I'm panicked to think that I need to have a discussion with her about why this was necessary. She's five. There is such an innocence in her thinking and I don't want to rob her of that. It will be stolen away by the craziness in this world very soon and I'm trying to cling to it for as long as I can.

I've thought about this a thousand times since she told me and I hate where the thoughts take me. I'm comforted by two things. Most importantly, I know Who she really belongs to. I know that nothing will happen to my children that will surprise God. Secondly, she told me that her teacher made them a promise. When she told me, I felt a strange sense of calmness.

Her teacher said, "I promise you that I'm not going to let anyone into this room who shouldn't be here." I believe her. She's a mom. I was once a teacher. We are two women who would do anything to protect the children given to us, no matter what.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pa Pete

Thirty one years ago, I was born to a seventeen year old girl. My mom was young and unsure of what the future would hold for the two of us. There were two people who were absolutely sure that they that would take on whatever role necessary to secure a good life for me.

My Grandparents were amazing people. From the moment I was born, they were helping with every aspect of my raising. They faced choices that it pains me to think about when they learned that their oldest daughter was sixteen and pregnant. The choice they made was to support her and as a result, to support me.

I called them Mamaw and Pa Pete. While they were both very special to me, I found myself driving today with tears rolling down my cheeks because the words of a silly country song reminded me of something funny that Pa Pete used to say. I missed him as much that moment as I did the day after he died in my arms over thirteen years ago.

I've heard that the Pa Pete that existed before I was born was a stark contrast to the man he became after I came along. His children remember him as a tough and often unemotional man. They say that the image I have of him is viewed through rose colored glasses. Perhaps that is true but my memories are just that...mine.

I remember him as a man who loved to be with me. We didn't need an occasion. We didn't need to talk, though we often did. We just needed to be together for me to feel the love he had for me. When I was a kid, I'd tag along anywhere he needed to go just to have a few minutes of him all to myself. We'd stop for a fast food breakfast and I'd laugh at the funny things he'd say. His sense of humor was the best. He was gentle but firm. He was loving and kind. I don't remember him ever being angry with me or punishing me yet my biggest fear in life was letting him down. That didn't come from a real fear of him but rather from respect for him. His fiery red hair and fair skin were so beautiful to me. I have him to thank for my freckles, pale skin and sometimes feisty personality.

I get teased often in our family because I'm one of the only people who ever got what I wanted just by asking him. I knew that if my parents said no, I could call Pa Pete and my wish would be granted. Isn't that what Grandparents do? There was a time when I went shopping with my Grandparents and I saw a stuffed monkey that I loved. That thing had the wildest hair and when you squeezed it, he made the most awful monkey sound. My Memaw rushed me on past it and told me I didn't need it. Pa Pete followed without saying a word. A few weeks later, Christmas morning came and the last gift passed was to me. No one knew about it until he brought it out of his closet. Bought and wrapped all by himself, he presented with me something he wanted me to have because he'd seen the way it made me giggle several weeks before. No one knew how or when he did it. He didn't want any accolades for doing it. I get teased to this day about Petey (the name I gave the monkey) and my ability to wrap Pa Pete around my little finger.

The day we found out that he had cancer ranks among the worst days of my life. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and he'd had an awful cough for weeks that just wouldn't subside. We finally convinced him to go to the doctor, something he rarely did. The diagnosis was lung cancer and my world changed in an instant. From that moment, it took so little time for my Superman to become very weak and ill from the treatment, more than the cancer itself. My view of him never changed. He was still Superman but now I got to take a turn and do things for him. I could have never done enough to repay all of the things he'd done for me but I was willing to try.

Often, I'd get to drive him to and from doctor appointments. One day after an appointment, he asked me to take a turn that wasn't on our way home. I didn't question him, I just took each turn as he directed. Soon, we were in front of his former workplace. I took a parking spot away from the front and we sat there. I asked if he wanted to talk and he didn't. He just needed to see that things were going ok without him. We sat in silence for a few minutes and through tears, he told me he was ready to go home.

Within the next week, he handed me an envelope and gestured for me to take it without questioning. I opened it to find money in a neat stack. He told me that he knew that the deposit on my dorm room for college in the fall was coming due and he wanted to pay it. I tried to hand it back and he simply held up one hand and said, "I'm doing this." What those words really meant to me were, "Please let me do this. I'm so proud of you but I won't be here to see your dreams of attending college come true and this is all I can do to be a part of it."

A very short time later, I came home from work and sat down on the footstool in front of his spot on the couch. He seemed to be doing so much better than he had been in the previous days, even joking with me a little. I filled him in on my evening and went to bed. A few hours later, my Memaw woke me to say that he had fallen and she needed help to get him up. I went into the living room and he was laying on the floor. I sat next to him and he leaned over into my lap. I knew that he didn't need help getting up. I just needed to hold him. And so, I held him. He took his last breath with my arms wrapped around him so tightly, afraid to let him go.

Forgive me for the length of this but this could well be the first time I've put all of these thoughts, memories and emotions together in the thirteen years since his passing. For years, I couldn't get through the anniversary of his death without mourning all over again. Today as the thoughts of him flooded my memory, I realized that I hadn't been sad at his memory in a long time. That broke my heart but I know he wouldn't expect me to sit around mourning so many years later. I realize that I've become who he dreamed I'd be. I truly believe that when his teenage daughter came home and announced that she was pregnant, he knew that his responsibility was to give me a future. He held up his end of the bargain and sincerely hope I'm holding up mine.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My BFF(s)

I'd like to introduce you all to my BFF lineup. I've talked endlessly about my real life friends and I think it's high time to introduce you to the group of folks who fall into the category of "Friends Who Don't Yet Know They Are Friends." Following will be a list of people whom I obsess over adore and feel that I should share their greatness with you. You're welcome.



Stacy London & Clinton Kelly

Oh, these two. I could watch them endlessly. I love hearing their fashion rules. I love hearing Stacy shout, "Shut Up!" when she gets excited. Clinton is as cute as they come. I love it when he says something harsh about someone's ugly clothes but then immediately tries to make sure they feel the love so they won't be hurt. Don't even get me started on Stacy's hair. The woman is gorgeous. She's right on with every single thing she wears. Clinton, I'm sorry I can't say the same for you, sweetie. Don't worry, by the end of every show, I've convinced myself that you look adorable despite what I thought at first glance. (See what I did there? I pulled a Clinton trying to make him feel better about just busting on his striped pants with plaid sweater.) I don't dress nearly as badly as the folks on their show but I still secretly hope that they will spot me at the mall on a particularly horrible day and teach me their fashion ways.


Paula Deen
I wouldn't be a good southern woman if I didn't love Paula Deen. She reminds me of so many women that were important to me when I was a child. I love her southern cooking. I love her cute little accent. I love her sons. Ahem. She's just all around adorable. Paula, Stacy and Clinton all occupy most of the space on my DVR. Sister loves Paula even more than I do. Friday nights, I let her stay up a little late to watch Paula's show with me. We talk about the recipes and which we'd like to make. We talk about how pretty her hair is. If you don't tell anyone, I'll admit to you that there may have been a time when I told Sister that it was ok to call her Grandma. Moving on.
Sharon Couto
If you aren't already reading Sharon's blog and checking out Mom Generations, stop what you're doing and go there now. I adore Sharon. She's classy, beautiful, hilarious and has a relationship with her daughters that every Mom dreams of. She once wrote about "Rules for Raising Daughters" and I've read her list so many times that I've almost got it memorized. She's the kind of lady you want to be like and you desperately want to know better. Every time I read her blog, I come away wondering if she'd be willing to adopt me. As for fashion? Sharon could teach Stacy & Clinton a thing or two. Just look at her. (I'm purposely overlooking the fanny pack incident here, for the sake of her daughters!) Want to know something else I love about her? She is still so madly in love with her sweetie of 32 years. She knows he's the hottest guy around isn't afraid to say it. I love that.
There you have it, friends. This is my top three BFF wanna-be list. Feel free to share your list with me because I'm always looking to expand my list. I'm friendly like that.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rebel Mom

After taking Sister to her first day of school earlier this week, Brother and I headed to Barnes & Noble for a little play time on the train table. A friend of ours was there with her kids, having just dropped her oldest off for her first day of kindergarten as well.

After Brother finished playing on the train table, he found a book and sat down to read. I helped him with some of the concepts (it was about learning to tell time) and when he was done, he got up to get another book. I was standing less than three feet from him as he chose his book. I was watching every move he made. He was browsing the books on one of those round spinning book shelves. Before long, he realized how much fun it was to watch it spin so he stopped looking for books and was just spinning, watching and giggling.

Let me back track a little to tell you that we visit this store often. Often enough that I could pick the employees from the kid's section out of a lineup. This day, there was a young man back there that I hadn't seen before. To say that he didn't look pleased with his assignment to this particular section would be putting it mildly.

Onto the story.

As I'm watching Brother, I hear someone say, "STOP spinning that!"

He was talking to Brother. I shot him a glance and then asked Brother to stop and come over with me to find a book. Without acknowledging me, the young man went back to typing on the computer.

We found a few books and went back over to the stage. When we were done reading, Brother and our friend's daughter started playing on the stage. Brother (need I remind you that he's a boy and he's three and we are in a KID'S section?) was jumping around.

Next thing I know, I hear the voice yelling from across the way.

"Stop jumping!"

Ok.

I may be a slacker mom but I was right there. I was watching him. I knew he was spinning the dang rack and I knew he was jumping. I also knew he was so close to me that I could reach out and grab him without leaving my spot. Again, I'll remind you of where we were and how old my boy is.

This guy didn't once acknowledge me. He just snapped at my son. I was angry and embarrassed.

I chalked my emotions up to the fact that it was Sister's first day of school and I was desperately missing her. Maybe I was overreacting? My friend that was there witnessed the whole thing and assured me that I wasn't. But, it was her first day as the Mom of a Kindergartner so maybe she was emotional, too.

Fast forward a few hours. We went to pick Sister up from school. No one told us anything about this process so I arrived early so I'd have time to figure out what to do to retrieve her. I parked the car and Brother and I started heading towards the front of the school. The parking lot was devoid of people since we got there twenty minutes before we were supposed to pick her up.

"Ma'am! Ma'am! Excuse me!"

I looked around and saw a woman coming from the front of the school motioning to me.

"Ma'am, usually we have buses and cars using this parking lot so I'm going to have to ask you to practice using the crosswalks when you are at the school."

At that point, she was done and turned around to leave. I was on the verge of tears. I just wanted my daughter. I wanted to know where to get her. I was trying to get everything figured out before the chaos started.

Knowing that I needed to just suck it up, I called back to her. "Ma'am! I assure you that when there are buses here, I won't attempt to walk through them. I have no idea what I'm doing because this is my first day ever at this school and I'm trying to figure it all out. If you'd kindly point me to the place where I can retrieve my daughter after the bell, I'll happily walk 3.5 feet to the left and be within the lines of the crosswalk."

People, you are in the presence of a Rebel Mom. I let my kids wreak havoc on innocent bookstores and refuse to abide by the basic pedestrian laws. I color outside of the lines. Next thing you know, I'll be letting the kids eat ice cream for dinner or eat food after they've dropped it on the floor. Watch out, hang on to your books and get your buses out of the way!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On The First Day of Kindergarten

Sister had her first day of Kindergarten today. There were a lot of smiles (from her), a lot of tears (from me) and tons of pictures (still stuck on the camera).

She made two new friends within her class. Apparently, these three girls (Sister and her friends) did everything together and decided that they are going to be best friends all year. I'd love to tell you the names of her friends but she forgot to ask. Names are a mere formality to a five year old.

As for me, I did ok. Just ok, not great. When it was time to leave her there, I started to cry despite willing myself for the last three days to just hold.it.together. Thankfully, I still have Brother and he didn't stop talking from the moment we left the school until we returned home with Sister this afternoon.

When you have a infant, all of the parents of older children go on and on about how fast time goes and how quickly they grow up. I would usually smile, nod and not really get what it was they were saying. I mean, sure. Time does go by quickly but come on. When you aren't sleeping through the night, you think it will last forever and just wish we could move on to the next phase already. Suddenly, it happens and you want it all back. You'd give anything to be up three times a night because it would mean they still need you. Being up to feed them every few hours would mean that they were still all yours, depending on you for their well being. Before you realize that you shouldn't have spent all of your time wishing for the next phase, you are sending them off with a larger than expected backpack to spend the majority of their day with someone else. Even though the someone else you are sending them to is a mother, it's not the same.

I'm almost done with my emotional overload over The Kindergarten. I promise that as of tonight, I've accepted it. I'm moving on. Until next week when Brother starts preschool. I need another baby, STAT.