I’ve been blogging for a while now and I’m consistently inconsistent. My plan is to start blogging more regularly; I find it helps me maintain my sanity. However, one thing I’ve been doing consistently ever since I found Renée Schuls-Jacobson’s blog Teachers & Twits is reading it. She is fantastic – makes me laugh, cry, and think. I tend to read her posts while drying my hair in the morning. And while I love Renée, she has been solely responsible for some pretty bad hair days.
So, it is with no small amounts of blogging awe (nerdy giddiness?) that I’m linking to her blog because today I’M HER GUEST BLOGGER!!! Me, she of the inconsistent posts and bad hair.
Please click on her picture below (I know, I know … she’s beautiful and smart) and comment at her place. Her place! Because that’s where I am!! (Have I mentioned that Renée has some of the best discussions in blogland in her comment section?)
I talk a good parenting talk. It goes something like this …
I’ll not be a helicopter mom, bulldozer mom, snowplow mom, or tiger mom. I’ll not look at my phone while my kids are talking to me or at least won’t talk to my kids while I’m messing around on my phone. I’ll walk that line of involved but not intrusive. I’ll be a fun-loving disciplinarian and practice structured flexibility. I’ll balance the roles of cheerleader, leader, stand-up comedian, mentor, counselor, tutor, confidant, and parental authority. I’ll teach my children about suffering and the need for compassion while sheltering them from some of the harsher realities of our world. I’ll live in the moment while planning for the future. I’ll nurture while challenging, protect while stepping back, and go to battle while letting them fight their own fights. I’ll keep my superhero cape pressed at all times and I will make homemade crackers, organic.
But, regardless of all these good intentions (or sometimes because of them), I’m instead the mom who sometimes forgets to sign the permission slip, who has to carefully select the picture for Facebook that doesn’t show the laundry basket of shame, and who sends the kid to school with clothes that didn’t have time to fully dry in the dryer. Fortunately, I do normally manage to compliment the wet clothes with mismatched socks.
I occasionally bulldoze and frequently text. I sometimes step forward when I need to stand back. I discipline out of anger and give in out of exhaustion. I am human – flawed, tired, and misguided.
But today, in this moment, I’m going to stop.
I’ll stop measuring myself and comparing everything to some elusive, imaginary standard. I’ll face the fear at the root of my expectations – the fear that I’ll leave my babies wanting, leave them less than whole, less than prepared. I’ll acknowledge my fear that I will fail them in ways so much more important than permission slips and laundry.
So, today I’m going to stop, take a deep breath and enjoy them. And tonight, when I fall asleep, I’m not going to evaluate and replay and second guess. I’m going to pray.
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to love so powerfully in my life. Thank you for the moments to step outside of expectations and fears. Thank you for their growing minds and tender hearts. Thank you for making me, with all my flaws and fears and expectations, their mother. Thank you for making me enough. Thank you.”
Kids are obnoxious. It’s not their fault, obnoxious is a developmental stage.
But there is nothing (NOTHING!) that raises their obnoxiousness to new levels like when my kids have a song stuck in their heads. Repetition does not faze kids. Things do not stop being funny. They are relentless.
I respond with my parental repertoire of encouragement, redirection, bribes, threat, and (finally) either hysterical laughter or tears.
Then, once they finally stop, I come face to face with the horrible truth that these songs are now stuck in my head … for forever.
So, in order to share the misery serve as a warning to all parents, I present you with the top two songs my kids have been torturing me with lately.
Peanut butter and jelly anyone?
How about a little circus afro?
The only solution is to fight fire with fire.
Oh yeah kid? I see your Circus Afro and I raise you a Mahna Mahna.
What songs have your kids been torturing you with lately? Parents of older kids, does it ever stop?
We don’t have blinds on some of our windows yet. The reasons for this blaring, privacy-prohibiting oversight are things like indecision and blinds on back-order. (Of course, personally, I blame Keith.)
Our new next-door neighbors are also somewhat blindless, which only seems fair. I’ve become used to scenarios like David pronouncing from our dinner table that the next-door neighbors are watching basketball again.
It’s a great way to get to know the new neighbors.
However, it’s also like performing nightly on an open stage. I’m fairly certain that the neighbors are not overly concerned about any of the activities in our family room. (And by “fairly certain” I mean I know they’re not. I never see them watching us when I’m watching them. Scared yet?)
However, it does make those oops the shirt I need to wear is in the laundry room moments a bit awkward. So, I’ve mastered the crouch walk that keeps me below line of sight (at least in my head). I’ve learned to sprint through the family room when wrapped in a towel. And I’m getting fairly good at making it look like I’m lovingly correcting the children when I’m, in fact, yelling at them. (Thank God they don’t have a sound feed into our family room!)
I feel like making these efforts is just plain neighborly. Good neighbors don’t flash each other.
I was tempted to make this blog post about feeling exposed. I thought I could explore how we expose ourselves every day through social media and that we should be more aware – apply some filters, hang some blinds.
But I’ve decided not to do that. This post is just about my efforts to not flash my new neighbors. Because I think we need a bit more of that in the world. And I know I’m not the only crouching, sprinter out there. Just know you are not alone. And, one day, you and I will both have blinds and we’ll remember these days.
Keith – please don’t read this post. Or at least skip past the beginning part. Thank you.
I don’t wear socks to bounce houses. (Can you feel it coming? That’s right I’m about to hit you with some advanced parenting wisdom.)
I don’t wear socks because you have to wear socks to go on the various bouncy things. And if a child gets stuck on one of the aforementioned bouncy things then the parent with the socks ends up going to save the child. On more than one occasion my sock-less self has sadly said:
“Sorry, Keith, I don’t have socks on. It’s against the rules for me to climb up the 20-foot tall inflatable rock wall, low crawl through the inflatable tunnel filled with children, and plunge down the inflatable slide with our crying child. Sorry. Rules are rules. **sigh** If only I’d worn socks.”
Yep, it’s not my first rodeo.
Despite my use of the sock-less technique, I was relieved when my normally fearless three-year-old decided not to climb up the giant tower. (Sometimes Keith counters my “I have no socks!” technique with his “I’m 6’3!” technique.) Emily, however, plunged her 7-year-old self right into the daunting structure.
She soon realized that it wasn’t just the height of the tower that made it challenging. There weren’t solid floors at each level – just interwoven belts that you push aside to climb through. When other kids pushed the belt aside the whole “floor” would wiggle and you could fall through to the level below. This realization paralyzed her around level two or three.
As I prepared to show Keith my sock-less feet and he started to stand up as straight as possible to highlight his awkward-for-bounce-house height, a kind child helped Emily down. (For shame, Keith. For shame.)
Emily was a bit thrown off her game. She’s not used to being the child who needs rescuing. She went off to one of the other bouncy things and bounced reflectively for a couple of minutes. Then her smile came back, she walked up to me and said:
“Mom, I know what I did wrong. I looked down and I worried about the wigglers (wigglers = interwoven belts). This time I’m looking up and I’m going to think about me going down the big slide at the end!”
She marched up to that tower and did exactly that, wiggly floors and all.
That’s my girl.
May the metaphorical wiggly floors of your week end in amazing, metaphorical slides. May your feet be sock-less and your partner short. May you find wisdom in unexpected places!
Kids come up with cute names for their grandparents all the time. My kids apparently never received the memo that the nicknames should be cute because they lovingly call my mom “Gring-grom.” (We’re not sure how to spell it. I’m fairly certain it’s Klingon.)
It’s possibly not their fault because the cute nickname gene does not run strong in my family. My siblings and I gave our grandmom the nickname “Grandmom in Texas.” We were nothing if not geographically aware.
(That’s a joke, by the way. My sister once went from Chicago to Kansas City via Indiana. But that’s another story for another time …)
I’ve been thinking about Grandmom In Texas quite a bit lately because she is single-handedly making sure that my children are entertained. She sends unique gifts. Her gifts are the type that engage the imagination and encourage creativity. (Engage the imagination and encourage creativity = code speak for incites loud outbursts of giggles and glitter.)
Sometimes I fail to thank Grandmom in Texas for all her wonderful gifts. (Because I can’t keep up with them all!) So this would be a wonderful opportunity to thank her publicly for her awesomeness.
However, that’s not what I’m going to do – I have a complaint to lodge.
First, some background: Grandmom in Texas is a walking Encyclopedia of knowledge about everything. She can talk about the gardens of queens, sing any song from any musical, describe in detail the chronology of any historical event that ever happened, casually bring up major advances in science, and entertain children with lesser known facts about dinosaurs and ninjas. David, my nine-year old, finds her fascinating. They literally spent hours discussing the Aztecs, volcanoes, and Greek mythology. David kept coming back to her with increasingly random questions and she always knew the answers. The flow of their conversation was impossible to follow for anyone other than Grandmom In Texas and David. David had a look of relief the entire time as if he was thinking, “Finally, an adult who knows things around here!”
Grandmom in Texas is very involved in her church and community. She is an Assistance Leaguer, an Episcopalian, and a member of Army Daughters. She is obviously an Army daughter, an Air Force wife, and the mother and grandmother to Air Force officers (okay, okay, some of her children and grandchildren went Army – we can’t all make good decisions all the time.)
She is a lot of wonderful things so, frankly, I was a bit surprised by a recent gift.
My Grandmom in Texas bought my nine-year-old son flatulent putty. It’s called Flarp.
It’s putty. That makes fart sounds.
Just in case I haven’t described it clearly enough: It’s a can of putty that can be manipulated to sound like someone needs an emergency run to the drug store for some Gas Ex. The person in possession of the offensive can is my NINE-YEAR-OLD SON.
And the person responsible is my lovely, eloquent, wise, tea-party-throwing Grandmom In Texas.
I know she loves David but I feel I should remind her that I was her first grandchild. And I’m fairly certain I’ve always been her favorite. (Right, Grandmom?)
On a side note: Grandmom, we’re really hoping to visit you sometime this summer. We’ll be packing the Flarp.