Tag Archives: Mother

Mother’s Day: The Everyday Moments Are the Greatest Gift

Mother’s Day—underneath it all, it’s just an ordinary day. This one, though, is wrapped up with a pretty bow. Get up, ooh and ahh over the effort of pancakes for breakfast that I know husband really put forth; ten minutes in, tell someone to stop saying stupid; decide that going to a park for the day would be the greatest way to spend a beautiful day because that’s what we normally do. Hugs from my kids, now those are the moments I really cherish.

Gush over the cards the kids made, the ones husband gently urged, then nagged, and then threatened them about for weeks. Daughter made hers with plenty of time to spare. Someone else slapped six words to paper and called it done. After a week of battles, who can blame him? I forced him to practice the dreaded recorder. I made him go to bed at a decent hour. I told him to please for the tenth time put his dirty underwear in the laundry room. He called me lazy and that didn’t go well, followed by a very long reminder of who washes his underwear and makes his dinner every night.

A dozen questions this week started with, “I know you’re going to say no, but…” And then I did.

The kids still give me presents, ones that teachers made them do at school but they are proud of nonetheless. Things my kids took care to hide from me, to surprise me with. I love every drawing, every bit of glue and string and paper. After, their part done, my kids run off to play Legos or get ready for the park.

Mother’s Day is just a day. For me, it’s more about the moments that aren’t forced. The times when one of the kids buries a head in my soft gut and reminds me he isn’t too old for me just yet. When I sing “You Are My Sunshine” to my daughter and her eyes fill with tears every single time. When I walk into my room and find a note that says, “Mommy you’re the best!” When the child who would never hold my hand now grabs it and doesn’t let go. When in the quiet of a new day, a sleepy boy snuggles up to me and doesn’t need to say a word.Mother's Day

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After 10 Years of Parenting, I’m Still Learning

When your daughter mentions from the backseat that her stomach hurts, throw her a bag and stop the car. That’s all the warning you will ever get.

When your kid who doesn’t like beans loves hummus, don’t screw it up by telling him hummus is made of beans. Keep that little secret to yourself.

Sometimes I’m still not that sharp when it comes to my kids, even after ten years of surprises and managing chaos on the fly. I guess I’m still perfecting my technique.

By now I hoped I’d be much more of an expert on parenting. With a son who just turned ten and a daughter following in his footsteps, I at least thought it would be easier with her. The truth is, I stumble through every day as much as I did when the kids were young. Sure, it’s nice now that the kids can talk about their problems and fears, but those problems and fears are real. They rival my own. They are big. My job has gone from chasing and wiping to tutoring and therapist. I feel like a babysitter who’s been promoted to principal without all of the qualifications, a bit out of my realm.

Sometimes you get your training on the job. And in motherhood, there’s really no other way. Here’s what I’m still working on:

My kids were complex people from the time they were born. I think I had an idea that I could make my kids do things or be things that I wanted them to be, mold them into the dream I imagined. From day one, their personalities emerged. They are who they are. I have to remind myself constantly that it’s my job to help them understand what’s part of them and to embrace it. It’s much harder than I thought it would be to merely guide.

Every bad thing that happens to my kids is not my fault. I can’t take responsibility for a diagnosis. When my kids get sick, it’s not because I am a bad parent. When it’s something more, I hate telling my child I don’t have the answers. When my kids don’t get picked for something, don’t get invited to a friend’s party, or lose something they really wanted to win, I have to remember it will make them stronger. They didn’t miss out because I wasn’t better friends with the other kid’s mom or because I didn’t prepare them better for the contest. It’s about their relationship and their performance.

My kids know more than I give them credit for. I was a kid once. I was capable of handling pain and fear and grief and mean kids. Sometimes I just have to be OK with letting my kids experience the world. I don’t cushion them from the bad stuff, but I certainly worry more than I should about it. I have to remember that mean kids made me tough. I learned to stand up for myself. Tears helped me shed my pain. I learned through my mistakes and my successes. It’s hard to watch my kids mess up and not know the answers, but I know the value of what they’ll learn from it. After all, I’m still learning every day.

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The Women Who Showed Me How to Mother

When I was a little girl, there were three things I wanted to be when I grew up: a teacher, a writer, and a mother. My choices hardly changed throughout my life. Those were always the choices I juggled. I chose a career that allowed me to write. I married a man who wanted kids. I have never taught in a classroom, but being a mom certainly qualifies one as being a teacher.

Hardly a day passes that I don’t think of at least one of the women in my life who has made a lasting impression on me and given me the skills I’ve needed to become the one thing I’m most proud of being: mom.

Here are the women who showed me how to do it.

My mom. When I was young and my sister was in school, I played dress-up in my mom’s closet, donning her wedge heels. I pretend-shopped in our kitchen and hid in the cabinets. My mom would take me out for lunch to a Chinese restaurant where I loved the fried rice. It was our thing. When I was sick, she stayed up with me and rocked me to sleep even though I was too big to fit on her lap. She nursed my weekly migraines. Even though I wasn’t the most gracious of teens, she still has bouts of empty nest syndrome. She has always loved me, a lot. She is the reason I stayed home with my kids.

My sister. It’s not that I doubted my sister would ever have kids or that she’d be a good mom. It’s just that when we were kids, she used to line up all of her dolls on her bed. Facedown. And she’d stand back with a belt and run up and whip them. We certainly weren’t punished this way. But I had to wonder if she’d be a bit of a disciplinarian when she had a family. Good news. She turned out OK. When my niece was born two years before I had kids, my sister filled me so full of knowledge about those early years. I laughed. I cried. If it weren’t for her, motherhood would have been a rude shock because she is the only person who gave me the truth about what would happen to my body after birth, clued me in that kids don’t really sleep through the night at three months, and made me realize that most of the time you want to pull your hair out but you love your kids anyway. She gave it to me straight.

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day love from the kids.

My mother-in-law. I am lucky to have married a man with a wonderful, loving mother. She must be one of the most generous women I know. When her own mother became ill, she put her life on hold and moved several states away to cook meals, clean, and care for her aging parents. When it became clear they needed more care and they moved into a nursing home near her, she visited them almost every day. Knowing the tricky relationships mothers and daughters can have, this has always moved me. She showed me that mothers care for their loved ones no matter what went on in the past. Love has no bounds.

My friends. My husband and I have no family nearby. When I had my son, it was one of the loneliest times of my life. Having a baby who wants to be held all day and no friends to talk to was rough. I joined a moms’ group at a local hospital where I met moms with newborns who cried and screamed, moms who were tired and who wanted to talk. We formed a playgroup of 18 moms and we met every week. We went on field trips. We formed friendships. Now, nine years later, I still keep in touch with nearly half of them. All of my friends have helped me survive motherhood. They have become my second family. We moms take the kids and bike together, teach our kids to cook, hold crazy science experiments in our back yards, play in the creek or the lake, camp, or just hang out. Us moms talk about the challenges each new age brings. We laugh. We cry. We advise. In spite of our different parenting styles, we embrace one another and learn from each other. They inspire me.

I can honestly say I am a better mom because of all of these people. I think it really takes a village to raise a mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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The Time Cover: An Example of Why I Hate the Mommy Wars

The TIME cover. While it’s about Dr. Bill Sears and attachment parenting—extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and wearing your baby around all day—the image and headline “Are You Mom Enough?” have fueled another fire in the Mommy Wars.

I hate the Mommy Wars. This is the reason I never played well with girls. I can’t stand the cattiness of it all. I try not to get involved. But the headline did strike a chord with me. Women are moved to judge by such things. It pushes buttons. It infuriates. It should only educate.

I do have a take on nursing, the mommy war over it, and why it needs to end. Every woman and child has a different experience, a different need. While I look at that TIME cover and can’t imagine that life for me, who am I to say anything about that mother? She is doing what she believes is good for her child and herself. The reason I can’t imagine that life for me? Nursing is not for everyone. I wasn’t able to nurse my firstborn and could barely do so with my second. And being judged for that wasn’t much fun.

My experience with nursing my first-born was hell. When the lactation consultants at the hospital tried to help us, they got things going for a few minutes and then my son would fuss. We went through this dozens of times with countless nurses. I was tired. My baby was hungry. I was a new, worried mother of a newborn who after 36 hours had had only drops of nourishment.

Every time I tried to nurse him, I changed positions, techniques, said prayers, cursed, relaxed, tensed up, cried a little, and wanted to freaking scream. I mashed the call button for help, but I knew the nurses wouldn’t be going home with me. I had to do it myself.

They realized my son’s frenulum, that long connecting tissue under the tongue, was too tight and he simply couldn’t nurse. They said it could stretch in time. They offered to cut it. My husband and I said no. They started bringing in all kinds of contraptions for me to try. A pump to get my milk flowing. I felt and looked like a cow and after all of my effort, I didn’t have an ounce of milk.

The nurses hooked me up to some tubing so I could finger-feed my son with my breast milk. I felt like someone’s science fair project and my son was still only getting drops of milk. He continued to fuss.

All the while, the lactation consultants kept telling me not to give him formula. It would be detrimental to my milk supply and to him ever latching on. I did as I was told, but my heart was quietly breaking. None of it felt right. I felt like my son was starving and I was sitting by watching.

By the middle of our last night in the hospital, another feeding just wasn’t happening. I knew what I wanted to do, but I was hesitant. The nurses had made me feel incapable. They were set on me not sabotaging nursing. My heart was more set on providing for my son. In the day and a half since he’d been born, we hadn’t had one tender moment of feeding and closeness. It had only involved strangers, contraptions, and too many opinions. I felt like we hadn’t bonded.

The nurse on our night shift was an older woman, and I asked for her honest opinion. She said she would give him a bottle. Relief washed over me and for the first time, I fed my son in peace. And I have never once regretted it.

I continued pumping at home but I never had enough milk. Nursing was not for us. And I have never felt guilty about it.

That was the first tough decision I made as a mother. It hasn’t been the last. So yes, I am mom enough. Because I don’t listen to anyone else. I don’t care what others are doing. I listen to my gut. That’s what makes me a mom.

http://lightbox.time.com/2012/05/10/parenting/#1

http://www.scarymommy.com/


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Paybacks

When I tell stories of parental woe to my mom, she sympathizes. She commiserates. And she often laughs. Though she rarely says it, I know she’s thinking it: paybacks. Paybacks for the many nights I woke her from her dear slumber because I feared some crazy in my closet would drop screws in my ears or because the giant teddy bear on my shelf cast Jurassic-size shadows on my walls. Paybacks for stomping down the hall protesting a dinner of pork chops, scalloped potatoes, and green beans instead of the good ol’ mac and cheese standby. Paybacks for never letting her have a conversation on the telephone without “Momma, Momma, Momma, Momma.” And yes, even paybacks for informing callers to our house that she couldn’t come to the phone because she was on the toilet and it would be awhile.

I see now what I put her through. I know when I relay my children’s escapades from the week that she must hang up, throw her head back, and give one good mighty howl at the pleasure that I am finally paying my dues. Yes, indeedy, paybacks are often what they say they are. Though she has no part in the matter, my mom gets to watch me suffer the annoyances of motherhood that I put her through. For her and many mothers, that is quietly payback enough.

But this mom has an urge to fight back. I try to quietly and calmly deal with whatever my kids throw at me, but at night I de-stress by plotting my revenge. I’m keeping a list of the things they do. I’m sure I won’t follow through, but if my kids don’t shape up as teenagers, I’m getting even.

1. Wherever they are in the house, I’ll come find them and announce that I need to go to the bathroom, number one or number two. If their friends are visiting, I’ll loudly whisper it in their ear.

2. I will happily clean, read, or do whatever keeps me happy, but the second they talk on the phone, I will scream at the top of my lungs and then chase them around the house and pound on their door when they close and lock it.

3. I’ll hand them my tiny bits of trash, bypassing four trashcans in the process. When they refuse, I’ll sneak it in their pocket or later they’ll find it stuck to their shirt.

4. Every time they kiss their boyfriend or girlfriend, I’ll cover my eyes, fall to the floor, and scream, “Is it over?”

5. In the middle of the night, I’ll stand two inches from their face and wait until they wake up. I won’t need anything except to be put back to bed.

6. I’ll come in their room early on Saturday morning and tell them such important details as “My butt itches.”

7. My wardrobe will consist of plaid shirts, striped leggings, and pink tutus, and I will insist that it matches and that I venture out in public with them dressed that way.

8. When they refuse to let me drive them to the movies, I’ll stomp away in a huff and shout, “You never let me do ANYTHING!”

9. As soon as they fluff their pillows, snuggle deep into the couch, get everything just right, I’ll tell them that’s my pillow. When they get comfy again, I’ll tell them that’s my blanket too.

10. When they wake at noon, before they’ve chewed that first bite of cereal I’ll roll off twenty questions in ten seconds about Harry Potter and then tell them about the new pillows I want to get next and what color and where I want to put them and explain that the old ones just aren’t squishy enough and do you think J.K. Rowling will ever write another Harry Potter book? What do you mean you don’t like Harry Potter anymore? I thought you loved Harry Potter. Don’t you remember in book four when he grabbed the Goblet of Fire and it was a portkey? That was awesome!

I love my kids with every fiber of my being, but I don’t always love what they do. And they don’t always love what I do. I guess that makes us even. So there.

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Filed under About Mom, Can't Get a Break