Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Dinner and Laundry.

When you reflect upon your childhood there are often commonalities that people of similar age groups recall…. My Buddy, Kid Sister, Pound Puppies, GI Joe, My little Ponies, specific movies and tv shows…Full House, Saved by the Bell, you catch my drift. To go along with that, there are often specific meals that people of similar economic status can recount, mine being what some of my co-workers have labeled as “poor person food” and to include mashed potato cakes, goulash, spaghetti…things that are, of course DELICIOUS, but served another purpose of being able to be made in large batches or being able to still have flavor when reheated the following day…or week! There are also things that so many kids recall….Cedar Point, Disney, spring break in Florida….I don’t have those recollections, but I do vividly remember long cross country road trips with no entertainment that ended with a week of tent camping in the mountains and bathing in ice cold mountain lakes. Our vacations were not elaborate, but they were meaningful and I truly believe that I could speak for hours about all of the seemingly minute details.
I made a quick stop today after work to see my parents. I only live 4 miles from them, I see them seldom…because of…life! I’m busy, or at least I feel that way. Soccer, swimming, work, 4-H, meetings…again…you catch my drift! I do have to admit, it was a selfish after work plan. I needed my mom. (That will never go away) I needed to ask her how she did it. How did she work 40 + hours a week as a teacher in a classroom of 25 children and then come home and work until bed? How was there a daily full course meal on the table, how was my laundry always clean, how did she get me to ALL of my after school activities and NEVER MISS A GAME? How? Because as I count the hours in the day I’m just not understanding…. She must have a secret…or she’s a witch (which I believed to be true through the majority of my teenage years). But seriously, the house had clutter, but there were never left over dirty dishes, never gross sinks in the bathroom, laundry was always done and FOLDED.…yes…FOLDED…ALL OF IT! How? So, with tears welling in my eyes, I asked….I asked how there was always an amazing dinner, how we all sat down together every day to eat the amazing dinner, how she managed to feed the horses, dogs, goats, bunnies, cats, and her family? And how was there never dog hair on the furniture? Again…I ask…How? My children often have “Make your Own Dinner Night” or “Fruit Night” that consists of me rummaging the fridge and pantry for fresh and canned fruit, fruit snacks, fruit pop-tarts, things that have the word fruit in the label….and having a free-for-all! So…How?
She paused for a quick moment and said, “I had only two priorities. Dinner and Laundry. I always knew we had to eat and I always knew people needed clean clothes. Just those two things. And when I had time, I vacuumed.” Later in the conversation, she said, “You were young. You don’t remember the mess.” And that is when I suddenly felt that there was something in my eye…I’m not crying, you’re crying! I’m pretty sure though, that I do remember…I remember that after she came home from work, she worked more. She fed the animals, she got me to practice, she cooked dinner, she set the table (every night), she did dishes…and then she rested…if you can consider sitting down for a few minutes before bed as “resting.” I remember her weekends being filled with laundry, but still making time to be wherever I needed to be.  I also remember always laughing at how tired she was and picking on her for not being able to stay up late to watch TV. I remember her waking up every single day before anyone else in the house. I remember her clinging to that hour of “alone time” every morning with her coffee and toast that she peeled the crust off to let the onlooking dogs have their morning snack. I remember. Dishes and Laundry. I keep saying those words over and over in my head….dishes and laundry. Thirty years later, she thinks her only priorities were dishes and laundry. She has no idea how much more she did.  Dinner and Laundry. Dinner...And....Laundry. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

My Baseball Princess.

She must have told me 1,000 times today that she loved me. Hug after hug, kisses on my cheek. She grabbed my face to make me bow my head so she could kiss my forehead. She held my hand, my leg, helped me coach  volleyball today, cleaned her room, and then told me a million more times  how much she loved me. She told me I was the best mommy ever, her  favorite person. Today was a good day, one of those days that a parent  doesn’t always have, one where they feel appreciated. It was a good day. 

And then tonight, after the bath, as I was helping her get out, she was still happy and amazing and perfect. Her perfect little four year old self. Then, as she stepped out of the tub, she sucked her cute little belly in as far as she could and said, “I wish my belly was flat like this.” I was stunned, I had no words at that moment. My heart sank. Why? Before I could  utter any words, she said, “I wish my legs were skinny. Then I could run  faster. When I sit down in Daddy’s car, my legs get really big. I wish they were skinnier.” Where is this coming from, did I do this? 

I grew up with body image issues, it’s quite honestly something that is  forever on one’s mind. Once it’s there, it is always there. Every time you  eat anything, you think about it. Every time you exercise, or don’t  exercise, you think about it. I’ve grown up, become a mother, and realized how unimportant a flat belly or skinny legs really are and it has been a  practice of mine to preach health and happiness, even though the other  stuff is still there...on your mind. I’ve tried to be an example for them.  We stay active, we love sports....we also love pizza and cake, but that’s  beside the point, everything in moderation right?! They watch me coach  sports, they watch us play sports, they run with me, ride bikes, play  basketball....But where did I go wrong, it broke my heart. 

I explained to my beautiful daughter that bodies all look different and she could run faster than a lot of people, and if she didn’t that’s okay too! I told her that her body is so healthy and the way she looks means she is  strong! I said it all with a smile, even though I was crying on the inside.  She’s so perfect, that’s all I could think of.... YOU ARE SO AMAZINGLY PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. But not enough girls believe it. It is easier to  believe the negative, that there’s always something to fix, that you should always be working on something, changing something, being better, doing  better. And it starts at age 4?

Here’s the thing girls, and yes, as I write this I’m sure there’s a special guy out there that I will hear from soon that is probably going to tell me  that I should believe the good things as well....but it is hard....but again,  here’s the thing.... YOU ARE SO AMAZINGLY PERFECT. My daughter, at age 4, is one of my biggest inspirations in life because she has always  marched to her own beat. As a baby, her eyes lit up an entire room, so  bold and beautiful, and she’s always so happy. She has never cared what  people thought, she wears her princess dress to play baseball and it is  AWESOME!!! My thoughts are consumed with this fear that “they’ve got her.” They say she needs to be...and she will try to be.... 

I hope when she wakes up tomorrow her worries of not being perfect  are gone forever. I hope she dreams of playing ball, playing with horses,  riding her bike, and everything else she loves, and when she wakes up she will feel perfect again. Because she is so great, so inspiring, and so  perfect. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

And Then We Danced

    It was a rushed day, as usual. I feel like most days are. We got home, my house was atrociously messy, dishes overflowing because...well, I'm lazy...and my goal was to get the house cleaned tonight. The kids played outside while I cooked a quick dinner. Before finishing dinner and dishes, they had already turned a movie on...Space Jam, their new favorite! Okay...just for tonight, dinner in front of the TV, while I continued dishes. This is quality time with my family, right? Yeah, yeah...but I could live in filth no longer! 

    Time passed, quickly as always, and it was time to finish dinner and take some baths. They needed to be in bed on time, I knew they were tired from a previous fun filled day outside playing with their grandpa and the litter of new kittens at his house! I went into the living room to urge them to move quicker...that never works, but I continue making the attempts! The movie was over and credits were playing...with music. 

Me: "Come on guys! Let's go! Time to be done." 
Presley: "I'm busy. I'm dancing." 

So, instead of fighting the losing battle of rushing kids, I joined in. While Ben sat in the chair making memories of how silly his  mom looked, Presley and I danced like crazy people! No rhythm, slow danced to fast songs, fast danced to slow songs, it didn't matter. All three of us scream sang I Believe I can Fly. 

With the schedules, school, work, appointments, practices, homework, and bedtime I often forget how awesome my kids are and how much happiness they unknowingly give to me...when I let them. I'm sure within a few days, or weeks, they will have long forgotten those few minutes, maybe not, but I know that I will remember that snippet in time forever. They are little pieces of something amazing in this world, and as much as all parents love their children, I don't think I'm the only one that sometimes forgets to join in the fun. It won't last forever. 

Thank you Ben and Presley, for the memory tonight.  

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

He Found my Kryptonite

Today was the day. The day all parents try to hide from their kids. Without warning, without any type of indication, they found it...they found my kryptonite. I’ve worked incredibly hard for 6 years to make my children believe I’m a superhero. They think I’m strong, they think I’m smart, they think I have my SH** together! I should be paid for this incredible charade I’ve kept up for so long! all ended today, harshly, quickly....shamefully. 

We arrived home after school and work as usual. Being one of the first amazing days after winter, the kids were pumped to change clothes and head back outside. Presley ran through the doors and headed straight to her bedroom. I heard a piercing scream. My heart stopped. She’s not a screamer, and definitely not about anything in her bedroom. She came running down the stairs crying. 

Me: “What’s wrong?” 
Presley: “There’s a snake in my room.” 
Me: “WHAT?!?”
Presley: “There’s a snake in my room.” Still crying. 
Me: “Where did it go?” (Not sure why I expected her to have stayed to watch it.)
Presley “It’s in my room.” 

My first thought was that her door needed to be shut to trap the snake in her room, and my second thought was...THERE’S NO WAY IN HELL I’M GOING UPSTAIRS! My third, fourth, and fifth thoughts were to burn the house, move out, or call SOMEONE. I began the list of numbers to call, but nobody would be here fast enough to hunt a snake. We were about 17 seconds away from getting in the car and leaving EVERYTHING behind, including the dogs. It’ll be fine, we can begin a new life somewhere miles away where the python won’t find us. 

And then Ben laughed a little. 

Me: “What did you do?”
Ben: “Nothing.” 
Ben: “Nothing.” 
Me: “LIAR.” 

He then asked Presley if it was fake. My heart is still pumping, I’m nearing a full panic attack. And then I wonder what happens when I pass out and die and the “maybe fake” or “maybe real” snake eats me? I’ve never taught my kids how to dial 911 from my cell phone. Surely we will all die within days. I forced myself to pretend to be mad instead of scared. 

Me: “Go get the fake snake Ben.” 
Ben: “No! I’m scared of snakes.” 
Ben: “No.”

So, I don’t usually let my kids say no when given a direction, but how could I force him to go handle the situation when I couldn’t even handle it? Parenting is hard. Adulting is hard. I read all of the What to Expect books cover to cover, twice....THIS is not in there. 

Presley walked me upstairs. She held my hand and led the way as if I were the child.  We needed to see if the snake had moved. I still wasn’t completely convinced it was fake. (Stop judging me for attempting to force my 6 year old to conquer a monster. I can’t help it.) Presley tiptoed into her room far enough to see IT. She screamed and ran back out. She said it was still in the same place. OMG..... I tiptoed in, just far enough to see it’s hideous face...not moving. 

Meanwhile....Ben stands behind us pretending he wants to see it and laughing. I made him get a plastic garbage bag to put the monster in and throw it in the garbage OUTSIDE. On our way downstairs...he threw the bag with the FAKE snake in it at I screamed. He’s still laughing. I’m sure that little nut is laughing in his sleep. 

He figured me out. Now I will forever live in fear. Fear of April Fool’s Day. Fear of summer and the words, “Mom, I have something for you.” Fear of a fake snake floating in my toilet in the middle of the night. FEAR. I’ll be continuing my life, but with a new xanax prescription.  

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Your Mom Still Takes Care of You

It shouldn’t take a four year old to remind me how spectacular and lucky I am to have such an amazing mom. I know it, I think it, but I am so used to it that I don’t always appreciate it. 

My little lady was very bored tonight, four year old bored....meaning that her response to every suggestion was, “I’ve already done that or I’ve already seen that toy today.” All of that translates to, “Mom...entertain me.” Those of you that know me well, know that I’m terrible at entertaining my children, especially if it doesn’t have to do with sports or movies! Anyway, she was desperate for entertainment and asked if she could sit on my lap and watch me work on the computer. Yes, of course, that’s easy, and how can anyone say no to a perfect little angel face asking to sit on your lap? can’t. So as I lifted her once tiny body onto my lap, I pretended to struggle to lift her...she always laughs at this! 

Me: “Oh my gosh Presley, you’re getting so big. I can barely lift you anymore! (She giggled) I don’t know if I like you getting big.”

Presley: “You want me to stay little?” 

Me: “Well, I just like you being little because then I can take care of you.” 

Presley: “You can take care of me when I’m big too. I’ll let you. Your mom takes care of you. She cooked you dinner today, and gave you water, and loves you.” 

Of course then I wanted to cry. She was right. Very right. We visit with my mom often and she has never stopped being a mom. We go to visit and play, she feeds me. I mention needing a phone number for something, she finds it. I mention having a headache, or any other type of ailment, she makes a diagnosis! I get hung up at work, she picks up the kids from school and handles the afternoon routine. 

“Momming” never ends. I should know this. A lot of people are fortunate to share this experience, but I think it goes unappreciated by so many. Our little conversation also reassured me that I’ll still be able to take care of my babies forever. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How Could I Say No?

It’s only November 17th, a few traditions were broken today in my house...but how could I say no? The Christmas Tree went up today. Lights on, decorations hung, star lit. 

They’ve been asking for a couple of weeks now, I think I did a stellar job of making a million excuses about why we needed to wait to decorate for Christmas. “It’s not even Halloween yet.” “We don’t want to confuse Santa.” “Umm...your room is too messy.” “It’s against the law to turn on Christmas lights too early.” I gave in today, and did the unthinkable, or at least the unthinkable in my book....I bought a fake tree. I’m going to refer to it as a “prefabricated evergreen” just to make myself feel a little better about this decision. Never in my life have I had a prefabricated evergreen for Christmas, although I do distinctly remember begging my mom for one when I was little, mostly because I was positive we consistently picked the prickliest tree that shed the most needles every year that I continued to feel in the bottom of my feet months after Christmas. My mom always stayed strong though, always a naturally fabricated evergreen. I convinced myself that a prefabricated evergreen would allow for quicker set up, less clean up, and fewer puncture wounds to the bottoms of my feet....JUSTIFIED! If done right, I may not even need to remove lights or decorations, just find some muscles to carry it to the basement for me. We shall see! 

Once the prefabricated evergreen was assembled by the adult that instructions indicated was required, Ben and Presley were dragging boxes out of my closet full of decorations. I sat back and watched them unwrap every ornament with the same kind of excitement that they open Santa’s gifts with. They liked hearing stories about the ornaments they had previously made or the ornaments that were given to our family on their first Christmas. As they ran through the house with decorations, and so independently hung them on the tree I was sadly reminded of how little time I have left with believers of Santa in my life. 

If I’m lucky I’ll have two more years. Two more years to use Santa as a behavior management tool, two more years of convincing them that Santa enjoys pizza rolls and Captain Morgan rather than cookies and milk, two more years of making reindeer food, and two more years of waking up to two excited kids screaming about the things Santa left under the tree. Two more years....maybe. 

So how could I say no to setting up the tree a tad early? I couldn’t. I want to hold onto this forever. So, the stockings are hung, the tree is decorated from kid arm’s reach and lower, and the colorful lights are on...because they wanted it. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A few things I've learned from Presley

She told everyone to arrive promptly at 40 O’Clock and the only things she requested for her fourth birthday were a teddy bear with blue eyes and cake. When asked how she felt about being four, she very excitedly stated, “My arm seems longer!” Her happiness comes from experiences, not toys. She’s happiest with her cousins and friends and snuggling on the couch with me before bedtime. The little lady who’s eyes have always made an entire room light up is now four. 
It was exactly one year ago when my life unexpectedly changed. The family that we had worked so hard make would change forever. My husband informed me that he wanted a divorce. Something I never imagined would plague my family. I’ll never know the outcome if we would have remained married and I will never know what outcome would have been best for the kids. I can say that a few wonderful things have happened and my outlook on life is completely different than it was just one short year ago, much of this is because of my girl. 
Although only 3 until yesterday, I’ve learned a lot from her and I’m so thankful for the little person that was placed into my life a few short years ago. Little does she know, she has quickly found a spot in all of our hearts and taught us so much...
Life lessons from Presley: 
Smile: Your eyes are so beautiful when you smile, and even if you’re sad, depressed, sick or tired, smiling at yourself in the mirror for long enough will trick your brain into being happy! Smile at your reflection every morning and say, “I’m so cute.” 
Forgiveness: There’s no reason to stay mad. It’s okay to be upset, and it’s okay to tell a three hour story of why you’re upset to anyone who will listen, but tomorrow is a new day. People make mistakes, life goes on, and the person who pushed you down on recess today can still be your friend tomorrow. 
Hugs: Physical touch is a great way to mend a broken heart. Hugs for no reason are the best!
Paint Nailish: Yes, Paint Nailish. Painting your fingernails and toenails is a great way to clear your brain and focus. It is especially nice to allow someone else to apply paint nailish to your toes and fingers (notice I said toes and fingers, not toenails and fingernails!) Very relaxing!
Animals: Connect with animals any chance you get. Ride a horse whenever possible and hug your dogs every day.
Love: Talk about who you love often, spend time with those you love, tell those you love how much you care, even if they don’t always want to hear it! 
Happy Birthday Presley! You are growing up to be something amazing!