Parenting, Uncategorized

The Sneaky Moments of Motherhood

Motherhood is full of moments. Moments that are new, moments that are scary, moments that are frustrating, moments that are full of emotions. Motherhood is this string of moments that sometimes just seem like one long, everlasting moment.

Sometimes you wish for these moments to disappear forever. You wish some away so desperately, because they’re fucking hard. Sometimes you wish you could remember what you felt like in certain moments because things happen so quickly. Time is so accelerated within motherhood. Sometimes you wish you could relive the moments over and over and over because they’re so full of love.

Tonight, I had a moment.

It was a moment with a familiar emotion…but it’s an emotion I have a difficult time describing. It was a moment that I have a difficult time explaining. But it’s worth noting because I know every mom feels this. I know we all have these moments.

It’s this moment of realizing that your child is yours. That your child is growing. That your child is maturing. That your child isn’t little anymore. They’re these moments you realize…it’s happening. They’re becoming…them.

It’s this moment that I can only describe as those “sneaky moments”, because, for me, it’s an emotion that totally sneaks up on me and surprises me from time to time. It overwhelms me.

These moments aren’t to be confused with those of “firsts”. Not like their first word, first step, or first day of school. They aren’t to be confused with moments we’re flooded with pride because of good grades, or a good game, or where their kind heart shows. It isn’t that feeling of simply feeling how much you love them or appreciate their existence.

No. None of those are the same.

Tonight, as I was watching my daughter get ready for bed, she put on some music. This song Capsize that she loves. She sang every word, words that I couldn’t quite make out, but she knew them. She sang these words with such passion and confidence. She was brushing her hair and singing as she looked in the mirror.

She didn’t know I was watching. I was just observing her. All 4’5″ of her 8 year old self. All 74lbs of her.

It wasn’t anything new or out of the ordinary. But I had that sneaky moment. That moment where her life kind of flashed before me.

That moment where I realized she is the same human that was once 7lbs2oz in my arms. The one I didn’t know what to do with as a newborn. The toddler that that loved the word “uh-oh” and that hated sleep. The one that loved her purple baby and her green hospital pacifiers. The one that hated P.E. in kindergarten and didn’t want to learn how to ride a bike until she was almost 7. This is that same little, tiny human that grew inside of me. None of this felt possible in this moment, it didn’t feel real.

These moments take my breath away because it’s kind of too much to take in. It’s too much to reconcile in my mind that this is happening, this tiny human is growing up and becoming a bigger human. In these moments, it’s when I’m blindly reminded that I’m responsible for who she’s becoming and that she’s who she is because of me- the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s these moments where I catch a glimmer of me in her actions, or her body language, or her mannerisms.

It’s in these moments that I feel cheated because I let too many moments go by without noticing.

You know these moments?

I’ve had these moments before, like the time she told me she was embarrassed when I kissed her outside her classroom this past year. And like the time she told me I didn’t need to walk her to class anymore. Or, even in less obvious moments, like the one tonight, and sometimes it’s happened when she simply says something like, “Bye, mom. I’m headed out to play. I have my watch-phone on if you need me”.

Some days, these moments pass me by without evoking that feeling of sneakiness. They’re just another moment of motherhood. But, these sneaky moments. They’re real. They’re powerful. They’re beautiful, magical, scary, and almost frustrating all at the same time. Frustrating only because you know one thing is for sure: you can’t rewind, there is no replay. This is it. It’s happening.

I’m certain some moms have these moments more than others. I’m sure maybe these moments don’t even feel sneaky to other moms like they do to me. But I know we all know these moments. These moments, they’re different. They’re defining. They’re earth shattering, to some degree. They’re sobering because you’re reminded of the tremendous job we have as moms. The enormous and wonderful responsibilities we have to these little humans.

These moments are teaching us. Sit with these moments and listen. Absorb these moments. These moments are telling us ever so subtly to slow down. And they’re also telling us we are doing one hell of a job.

Don’t blink, mamas. The moments are all around us.

 

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Parenting, Relationships, Uncategorized

The Function in Dysfunction

I talk a lot. Sometimes too much. I’m an over-sharer and sometimes I feel the need to word vomit in the most simple of conversations. It’s just who I am. Too transparent. But it’s certainly led to some interesting conversation.

I was talking to someone affiliated with my work world, someone I had just met, and she was asking me about life, in general: kids, vacations, etc. Just small talk. She asked if I was married and I said my usual, “No, but her dad and I are still in a relationship. We’re together but don’t live together”.

She gave me the same perplexed look that everyone else does. People don’t understand this type of unconventional situation. I get it. She is quite a bit older than me so she seemed more concerned than most do about my answer.

And then she said this: “Well…that’s an interesting set up. So much dysfunction for kids these days. I guess broken homes are the norm with all of the divorces. No one stays together anymore.”.

Dysfunction. I loathe that word in relation to describing a family.

Broken. I loathe that word in relation to a home.

It got me thinking- why, and how, on earth did we ever start describing families of divorce as “dysfunctional”?

Totally rhetorical but my annoyance remains.

This idea that divorce is synonymous with dysfunction and brokenness should not be perpetuated. Those are temporary states, or emotions, within divorce at times, but not adjectives that should describe families.

What a horrible label. It’s something that I have heard less and less of since divorces are so common, but these ugly words we use to describe families that aren’t the fairytale version of marriage and family- “dysfunctional”, “broken”? Let’s stop that.

My family is not dysfunctional. My family is not broken. And my child does not need to think otherwise. If her father and I would have stayed in a marriage, a relationship, which, at the time of separation was completely unhealthy- arguments, tension, unhappiness, amongst other things- wouldn’t that have been broken? Wouldn’t that have been dysfunctional?

The difference is now, yes, she has two houses. She spends the night at one house twice a week and the other house the rest of the week. There are challenges that go along with this. There is navigation involved. There were certainly concerns for my child when this drastic change was made, but at the end of the day, she has two parents that love her. She has a family that functions despite the title of “divorce”. We all still function. No one is broken.

Hearts might have been broken, sure, but they’re in some phase of repair and they certainly won’t stay broken, so let’s not call anything broken. We were living in more dysfunction before, prior to divorce. So let’s not call our new normal dysfunctional. Let’s get rid of that ideal, of that perfection, in relation to what families look like and how they function. Perfection does not exist. Anywhere. We all know this. Let’s stop with the stigmas.

Everyone functions because they have to. They navigate their new normal- all of us do that have been through a separation and a divorce. None of it is easy, most of it is not pretty. And it can certainly get downright ugly. But it was most likely ugly as the textbook definition of marriage, too.

It’s redefining. Not dysfunctional. Not broken.

We know our children do not go unscathed by divorce. We, as parents, we know this. We do not need ugly labels to reinforce this, however. We do not need this global idea that we simply gave up on marriage, that it was that easy. That we didn’t try. No one lives behind our closed doors. Only we know our reasons, only we know what we had to do to function and thrive the best way we know how.

This obviously also goes for divorced families that now have new marriages, maybe step-children. They’re beautiful, extended, blended families. At least most of them are. Not all of them are the families pictured together at the kids’ soccer games, or at Disney together, as one big happy family, donning the shirts labeled with their specific role in the family, (this just isn’t realistic for every family of divorce), but they all function to the very best of their abilities. They all love.

Once again, love wins. Love for our kids, it wins. Always. We, as parents, make every decision with our children at the forefront of our minds. That’s what we do. And the last thing we want is for them to be labeled as “broken” or “dysfunctional”.

Can we do better, collectively? Can we look at a divorce situation objectively and just silently acknowledge that this family did the best the could then and they’re doing the best they can now. I did not grow up as a child of divorce but so many of my friends that did are badass, full-functioning, successful, functional people. No worse for wear and definitely not broken.

All families are beautiful. They are all unique. They are all functional in some way, shape, or form. They do not need perfection. They just need love.

 

 

 

 

Parenting

6 Ways You Can Judge Me On My Parenting.

As much as we all like to say we’re not judgmental, let’s all come together to confess right here and now that we all judge one another. It’s a human race thing. I know it thrives in our DNA to rip each other’s morals, values and ethics to shreds and pat ourselves on the back for doing everything perfect. We certainly wouldn’t be doing the things we do if we didn’t think they were the right way.

I have noticed, especially recently as my daughter gets a bit older, I seem to be a bit of an unconventional parent. And I know we all know that we are the best fucking parents ever to have lived! But seriously, parents judge one another so harshly because, let’s face it, it’s the toughest job known to mankind to be a parent. There’s no training manual for it, there’s no salary involved, and we are literally creating human beings, trying to raise them the best we know how without completely fucking them up. So, we become one another’s worst critics on how not to turn these little humans into drug dealers and prostitutes.

Judging one another certainly doesn’t get us anywhere with the whole solidarity thing, but because I know it’s what we do, I offer you some of the ways you can judge me as a parent…

  1. For pulling her out of school often to do fun things: So, there’s this thing called life that passes us by while we’re all working our asses off 50-60 hours a week and if we’re missing out on life, our kids are, too, in some ways. When I was young, my dad worked a gazillion hours a week, however, there was never any shortage of awesome memories. My parents used to take me out of school for about 3 weeks a year for vacations. They were never extravagant, usually just to see family or take a week at a lake, but it was time together. Honestly, it could have been at the hotel down the street for all I cared. It was a change of scenery. Yes, kids needs structure, absolutely, but I’m that parent that plans a quick weekday getaway (in advance so school work can be attended to) just so she can see that on the other side of all of this work, there’s fun. Life is too short. Childhood goes much too fast to not let my daughter see that work is a necessary part of life that allows us to also have fun. And no, I don’t plan on wavering on this as school gets more difficult. As long as she’s pulling decent grades, I’ll probably allow her even more time off.
  1. For not raising her with organized religion: This is a big one and I could probably write an entire chapter on this. Let me start by saying, I recognize that organized religion works for many, many families and I think that’s amazing and wonderful. Faith is an integral component of life. I get that, however, it looks different for all of us. I am agnostic and her father is an atheist. I’m just as firm in my agnostic beliefs as others are in their religion. And that’s ok. I don’t believe I’m going to hell, just as other believe I will. I have respect for others beliefs, just as I will have respect for what my own child believes.
    Religion played a role in my life as a child and I arrived at my own belief system by simply growing up and living, not by what was shoved down my throat. I hope she will do the same, minus having to navigate through what was shoved down her throat. Personally, I have just been privileged to entirely too much hypocrisy within that space, within the church. It certainly doesn’t make sense for me to tell my child what to believe when I don’t own those beliefs myself.
    I do not turn my child away from religion or fail to acknowledge more mainstream, traditional beliefs. She attended a Catholic pre-school and she attends a Methodist summer camp, so she’s deriving a general understanding of Christianity. She has enjoyed learning about the bible, and I’m so glad she’s getting that exposure. However, now that she’s 7, I’m cognizant of incorporating other religions into conversation and I’m beginning to have open discussions about how different people believe different things about God, Jesus, and what religion means to them. Here’s what she knows for now: love and kindness are our religion. That should be the basis of any religion anyway, right?
  1. For not pushing her to play sports: I had her try soccer, gymnastics, tee ball, and flag football…all between the ages of 3-7. The rule was, if I signed her up for the season, she had to finish it but if she didn’t like it, she didn’t have to sign up again. And exactly that has happened with each sport. Listen, I’m not going to ruin my Saturdays and any other practice day during the week so I can push her to do something that’s supposed to be fun, yet hearing her bitch all of the while about how hot and sweaty she is, asking how much longer until it’s over. Not worth it for either of us. I will admit, I wanted her to latch onto a sport, and maybe she still will, but it hasn’t happened yet. If this isn’t the way she expresses herself and isn’t something she enjoys then I’m fine with that. Something will be her thing eventually.
  1. For not limiting her screen time: to my last point, right now her thing is YouTube Minecraft videos and some extremely boring game called Slither.iO or some shit. She likes gaming and she like Legos. Those are her most creative outlets for now. Of course I monitor what she’s watching and I do make sure she’s exercising at least one hour a day but if she wants to sit on her iPad for an hour…or two…or six- no problem. This also allows me some time to do a load of laundry or clean the house a bit. It’s a sanity saver a lot of the time and to be honest, she tends to self regulate her usage. She’s never sat on a device for an absurd amount of time. Like anything, she gets bored and moves onto the next thing within an appropriate amount of time. I might know way too much about Dan TDM and RoBlox but hey, it could be much worse and she could still be watching Stampy Longnose.
  1. For not doing more than the recommended reading homework: School has become a bit of a different beast than what it was when I was young and I’ll just say it: I think it’s bullshit how our children are being pushed beyond what I consider normal limits. The tests, the homework, the Common Core shit that very few of us as parents can understand…it’s too much. The work she was completing at the end of 1st grade was that of a 3rd grader in my day. What was wrong with the way we did it? Yes, I’m sounding old, but seriously, what’s with the intensity these days? Why not play more, homework less? All of this pushing and testing cannot even be proven effective by research so why should I push her beyond her limits? I love when she reads and wants to read. I certainly encourage it but if 20 minutes is her limit, fine. We are done and we are going for a bike ride.
  1. For allowing her to be her own person:  No.Matter.What. My daughter doesn’t conform to gender norms. Never did and probably never will. She has been wearing boy clothes since she was 3 ½ years old, has only ever played with boys toys, likes being called a boy and gravitates towards boys as friends. And guess what? I don’t care. And neither should anyone else. I find it odd when people immediately proclaim her a tomboy or ask what I’ve done to “make her this way”. Y’all, she’s just who she is. I’m not making her any way. It’s not my choice to individualize her or choose her identity. Even if this wasn’t what makes her different, I’m open-minded to her just being her no matter what that looks like. I don’t need a label for her. She doesn’t need a label. She is just her.

I’m sure there’s more to judge about my parenting, like feeding my kid so much processed food that she will have a shelf life of hundreds of years, or that I tend to cuss around her quite a bit so the word “shit” doesn’t even remotely make her wide-eyed anymore. But, the thing is, we are all in this with the same end goal: raising humans we can be proud of. So, if my daughter ends up to be a devil worshiping, illiterate, deviant who doesn’t know how to be part of a team, I will be one proud mama. Ok, so not really, but I would have sure as hell tried my hardest to do what I felt was best for her.

Parenting is all about throwing shit against the wall to see what sticks. None of us have any concrete answers and there is no true right or wrong. Here’s to hoping the right components of what I’m throwing against the wall sticks.

And I’ll accept your judgment if you’ll accept mine. Solidarity in parenting, friends.

Parenting, Uncategorized

Being an Only Child, Raising an Only Child.

Being an only child is interesting. And by interesting, I mean it’s fucking awesome.

Clearly, it’s all I know but as I raise my own only child, it’s brought up a lot of thoughts, conversations, and emotions.

As a child, I remember looks and words of pity from other children and parents alike about my sibling status. I remember adults making judgmental statements about being certain that I was a “spoiled brat” and almost being fearful of my personality prior to even knowing me because surely, only children can’t be nice, don’t share well with others, and must be socially awkward. While pieces of all of those things may be true, I never understood why some viewed, and still do view, these as exclusive traits to only children. I know plenty of assholes and mentally unstable people that have siblings.

To be perfectly honest, yes, I lived a pretty charmed childhood. I was raised in a middle class neighborhood by parents who worked their asses off to give me a good life. I didn’t truly want for anything. There were no younger children in my extended family which translated into me being the center of the universe in my younger years, and maybe somewhat in my not so younger years, but I digress. I had three step-cousins that grew up down the street from me and they were the closest to siblings as I could possibly get. I loved my life.

I did pretend to want a sibling in my elementary school years because it sounded like a semi-good idea but the truth was, I really liked being an only child. I had plenty of friends, I learned how to share well (eventually), I became extremely generous as I transcended into adulthood, I was always taught a strong work ethic, I am extremely self-sufficient and independent, I formed a bond with both of my parents that was unprecedented amongst my friends, and I was extremely social. I liked my own space, and still do, I was bossy as a child, and I was very particular, and still am, but again, I’m not sure those translate into any kind of “syndrome” from being an only child. We will never know, right?

The biggest negative for me of being an only child  is now, in the present. I’m pushing 40 and now is when I do sometimes wish I had sibling. Watching my parents age, especially with a father who has been in extremely ill health for the past year, is tough to do alone. But who’s to say if I had a sibling that we would have some unbreakable bond and be able to lean on each other for support? Not every sibling relationship thrives. It might not even be considered a wish to have a sibling, it’s more of a curiosity of what that relationship would have looked like.

I now have unbreakable bonds with a few friends and cousins. No, they’re not a sibling replacement of any kind but none the less, they’re strong bonds and a thick foundation for all that matters in life: family.

So, raising an only.

Needless to say, I can’t imagine it any other way. I knew when my daughter was first born that I wold never have another. Motherhood was way too intense of an experience for me from the beginning to go through it again. Now that might be a result of having a small family or being an only child, but again, who knows?

What I do know is that I’m raising her, like we all try to do, to simply be a good person with good character. And guess what? I can do this without having another child.

She is taught to share with friends, she is encouraged to socialize, she is taught the value of money and hard work, she is rewarded for positive behavior and punished for undesirable acts….just like children with siblings.

Now that I’m raising my own only child, the looks of shock, surprise, pity, disgust and the comments of, “You cannot just have one child!”,  “You have to have another child, for her“, or “Oh, she must be so spoiled”, are truly offensive, not only to me as a mother, not only to my parents for having an only, but to my character because I am an only child.

My daughter is not suffering because she is an only child. It is not some form of torture. I am not turning her into some horrible human with malice intent because I decided to not have another child. I am a fairly well-adjusted adult raising a child to the best of my ability and having a sibling for her would have no bearing on this.

Is she spoiled? As much as I hate that word, yes, I guess she is. No, she doesn’t get everything she wants and demands, but she has a charmed life. And if she had a sibling, he or she would be living a charmed life as well. Why? Because I can. Because I work my ass off to do so. And I can do so with also teaching her good morals and values, just as my parents did for me.

In reality, it’s all in the way each and everyone of us are raised, sibling or not. I turned out alright and so will my daughter.

Uncategorized

How To Turn Your Child Into a Germaphobe In A Few Easy Steps

To the parents of Facebook posting about their child’s current viral battle, I would like to explain to all of you how you’re increasing my anxiety and therefore teaching my child that irrational thoughts are totally acceptable. Yes, it’s your fault, not mine. At all.

It’s that time of year again. No, not the “holiday spirit” time, none of that shit. The time of year when every second or third Facebook status in my feed is comprised of giving graphic details of vomiting and/or feverish children.

Look, I’m totally guilty of it, too. Misery loves company and when your child is sick, at my age you know that at least 200 out of your 500 Facebook friends can relate to what you’re going through, maybe even more. There’s comfort in that, I get it, but let me tell you how my brain processes these status updates:

Step 1: Analyze severity of said virus. If virus is more severe than a common cold, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Analyze where this friendly Facebook poster is geographically located. If they’re in Florida, move onto step 3. If they’ve been in direct play contact with Lily within the last 3-7 days, go directly to step 5.

Step 3: Begin Six Degrees of Separation analysis. Ex: If they’re in the same county, do they go to Lily’s school? If not, how do I know them and who knows them that I interact with? If there is any link to Lily or me whatsoever, move onto Step 4. If there isn’t a link, continue checking back to poster’s Facebook page to make sure said child is better just in case it’s possible that Lily will somehow come in contact or linked to sick child in the near future. Or perhaps the virus is contagious through the computer.

Step 4: If there is any indirect interaction with Lily within the last 3-5 days, begin preparing for said illness: Vitamin C load up, make sure OTC meds are stocked, wash linens, etc.

Step 5: OMG LILY IS GOING TO GET A STOMACH VIRUS AND THEN I WILL GET IT AND THEN I WILL DIE AND LILY WILL NOT HAVE A MOM.

These are the joys of living with high levels of anxiety. You make everything into a catastrophe.

So, ok. Now I’ve read the statuses and my brain goes into survival mode. Must.prepare.for.worst.virus.ever. Logically, I go to Lily and sit her down for a heart to heart:

“Lils, listen. There are a lot of germs going around right now. You know what that means?”

“Mooooooommmm, yessssssssssssssss!”

“Well, what? Tell me.”

“I need to wash my hands every few minutes at school, don’t eat anyone’s food, don’t put my hands in my mouth.”

“AND?????”

“And don’t touch anyone.”

“Right. Good girl. Not even the teacher because all of the kids touch the teacher. And don’t touch the lunch table.”

Eye rolls ensue and the child asks to leave the country to get away from me. Kidding. She’s not quite there yet.

Currently, it’s as though I’m playing this weird game of musical chairs in my head with my ex to see who will get “sick Lily” in the middle of the night. Who will be the one to get that sick sounding, pathetic voice in the middle of the night? Will it be mom or dad? No one knows. It’s bound to happen though based on the statistics I’ve derived from my Facebook analytics.

Anyone see that movie “Bubble Boy”? Someone please tell me where I can buy one of those bubbles. Thanks in advance.