Childing 101

adulting

I love that we have begun using “adult” as a verb.  Take note of this definition from Urban Dictionary:

Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.

Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8am and appears well groomed.

Here’s the thing:  I think I’m actually moving backwards. Regressing.  Retreating.  Re…childing.  Is that a thing?  Maybe I’m not adulting anymore.  Maybe I’m childing.  I feel more like a child today than I ever have.  As the old saying goes…the proof is in the pudding.

Here’s my pudding.

College Michelle – worked full time, didn’t drink, didn’t sleep around, was in a serious, committed relationship, managed a 4.0 most of the time, had an apartment, a car payment and a dog, showed up for my 8 am classes smelling and looking good

“Adult” Michelle – works random part time jobs, drinks a little most times, drinks a lot sometimes, flirts all the time (my husband is aware), doesn’t really pay any bills, spends her time writing angry poetry, spends her time working on a novel, goes to the bus stop in pajamas with crazy bed head and is obsessed with running

What the hell happened?  Did I adult too young?  I think the answer is yes.  I didn’t have the typical college experience. Not to say that everyone has to go out and get rowdy to have a good time in college, but, the truth of the matter is, I love to get rowdy.  So why didn’t I?  I don’t know how to answer that.

Why have I reverted now?  Well, I’m sure that question is best answered by my therapist, but maybe I feel like I missed out on something.  I didn’t indulge in the selfish behavior one is supposed to indulge in during their 20s so they can get it out of their system.

Perhaps my “childing” is a result of feeling like I never got to be selfish.  The problem is….I have kids, and a husband.  I really can’t afford to be really selfish.  So, I take my selfishness where I can get it.  I write, I run, I drink, I flirt.  And I try to balance it all with taking care of my family.

These are all total random thoughts brought on by a conversation I had with a friend this morning about sleeping in. They said,”I had my fair share of sleeping in days.”  My first thought was I didn’t.  I never did.  I was responsible.  So, today perhaps I will lay in bed, watch movies, nap, eat nachos.

That would be childing 101….hiding in bed to avoid whatever it is I’m trying to avoid.  Alas, there are things to be done. So maybe I will write and lay in bed before I run.

I need a new verb.  I’m not adulting yet I can’t fully child. Any suggestions?

The Un-Decision

A few days ago would have been my 15th wedding anniversary to my first husband.  Keywords in that sentence: would, have and first.  My marriage didn’t last.  In fact, it was over in record time.  Okay, not Kim Kardashian/Kris Humphries time, but, when you expect it to last forever, two years seems like a really short time to be married.

I think about my first marriage every October 28th.  Not because I long for what once was. <insert laughing> My marriage sucked.  My relationship sucked.  There was nothing that would cause longing in me.  I think about it because I am truly amazed at how far I’ve come in the last 13 years.

Thirteen years ago a decision was made.  A decision to end my marriage.  It was the best decision that was ever made for me.  That’s right, I didn’t make it.  My first husband and the woman he was sleeping with for six months of our two-year marriage decided they loved each other and wanted to be together.

Okay, it was not that cut and dry.  I caught them cheating.  He left and after months of indecision about the state of our marriage, he decided to leave me and pursue a relationship with her.

I fought for my marriage.  As insane as it seems, I wanted to stay in that miserable relationship.  I was not one who gave up easily.  I wanted to make it work so I wouldn’t be a statistic.  Granted, this is not a great reason to stay in a relationship but it was my reason and I was sticking with it.

Alas, it was not solely my decision and he chose otherwise.  It’s what I have started to refer to as my un-decision.  A decision for which I had no choice but to accept the consequences. It was this decision that turned out to be the best decision of my life.

I had spent eight long years in a relationship in which I felt like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole.  I was emotionally and verbally abused.  I was too weak to make the change I knew I needed to make.  

His decision for me led me to the three greatest decisions of my life. Decisions I chose this time.  They are, in order of appearance: Kevin, Maddie, and Jane.  Without being forced out of my first marriage, I never would have had the chance to start a relationship with someone who truly accepts me and my special brand of craziness.  Without him, I would never had the joy of giving birth to the two most precious gifts God has ever bestowed upon me.  All of these wonderful things started with the un-decision.

So on October 28th, I choose to celebrate the un-decision.  As a type A, control freak, I am not one who likes to give up decision-making.  I long to believe that I am in control of my life at all times. This vastly differs from what I know to be true.  Yet, I hang on to the illusion that I know what I’m doing.  

For the most part I do.  I make little, inconsequential decisions every day.  I make big decisions sometimes.  And other times, they are made for me. I’ve learned to embrace it.  For the best moments of my life could come from someone else deciding something for me.   And at the end of the day I have learned how to cope, adapt, persevere.  I’ve learned to be okay with whatever happens.

be okay

Words, words, words

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So, a couple of weeks ago my 5th grader came home excited about a lesson she learned in art class about graffiti.  She was really enthusiastic about the project and told me all about a video the teacher showed her in class about tagging.  I was excited because it’s rare my child comes home happy about anything she did in school.

I thought nothing more about it.  Until…..I recieved an automated call from the school district informing me that they were aware that the video shown contained a few “bad” words and they were handling the matter internally.  Interesting.  I asked my 5th grader what “bad” words were in the video and she told me, “the a word.” My initial thought was that the video was full of F bombs.  That would probably warrant a few parent calls.  But ass, really?  

I get that some parents are getting to get upset over this. I’m not judging the other parents.  It’s your decision what to teach your children and what they should be exposed to; however, I’d like those parents to consider that some words are worse than others and it might not be the ones they are thinking about. 

My children have heard me say every “bad” word imaginable.  I have, what would be considered by some as, a filthy mouth. I make no apologies for this.  I love the way a good curse word makes me feel.  If I’m having a bad day, there is nothing like a good fuck to make me feel better.  If I miss the school bus because the kids are being slow, I love to shout shit.

There have been studies done about how cursing when in pain has been shown to relieve the pain and make the person feel better.  I could look these studies up and be more specific but I’m too fucking lazy today.  I truly believe that my children hearing these words from me will not make them any of the following: psychopaths, drug dealers, prostitutes, animal abusers, murderers, bad grade getters, mean girls, or assholes.

I believe that there are far worse words in the english language.  Words that I would never want to hear come from my children’s mouths.  What are those?

  1. Stupid – don’t call anyone stupid especially yourself.  People learn in different ways and at different speeds.  At the end of the day, learning comes easier for others.
  2. Retarded – this is the worst word my children could say to me.  I was blessed with two healthy children at birth.  I know people whose children were not healthy.  They had disabilities at birth.  Do they feel any less blessed by their children?  Absolutely not.  They love their children and see their worth despite the fact that others may not.
  3. C.U.Next.Tuesday…..don’t say this one to me.  This is not just a bad word.  This demeans women.
  4. Any word that classifies someone by race.  Don’t do.  I don’t like being called a cracker so don’t call anyone else something that judges them based on their skin color.

I curse to express myself.  I never curse to make someone else feel bad.  I curse because sometimes saying fuck is better than keeping in my bad mood.  Why some people decided words were bad and offensive is beyond me? I’ve taken the power away from words.  Fuck is just another word. So is ass.

Years from now, if one or both of my children come home and say, “Fuck. Today was a bad day.”  I will look at them and say, “It fucking happens.”

If they come home and call someone retarded. They will lose every privilege known to man.  That is the way I parent.  Don’t judge me or my mouth.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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And I’m not talking about Christmas.  It’s the week before school starts.  Before you judge me, let me say that I never thought I would be one of those parents who counted down until their kids went back to school.  When my oldest was about 3, I cried when she had to go back to preschool.  I knew she had to go.  Socialization, learning, blah, blah, blah.  But I was genuinely distraught over not being with her.

Fast forward 8 years and another child later, and I’m ready to take them to the bus stop with a sleeping bag and some lunchables and wish them luck. Okay, it’s not that bad.  I really do enjoy the time I get with them.  We’ve made some great memories this summer but mommy needs a break.

Granted, I am writing this after spending a total of 20 hours in a car and five days at the beach with four girls; two, who are on the cusp of being teenagers, one who has her own hashtag on Instagram (#janeisanass) and one who never stops asking questions…..ever.

There’s a certain craziness to summer that I can’t handle after a few weeks.  Life just seems to get away from me.  And I can’t ever seem to get a grip on it.  For one entire week this summer, we had no food in the house.  How does that happen?  I remember thinking I should go to the grocery store but we were too busy.  I’m not sure what I even fed my kids that week.  It was all a blur.

Some mothers love the summer and I can appreciate what they love about it.  No homework or projects.  No early to bed fights with the kids.  No lunch packing.  I get it.  I really do.  But at the end of the day, I thrive on structure and schedules.  It’s the only way I can successfully manage my life.  Three different, random jobs, two kids, a house, a husband, a Chewie, some farm animals and my desire to never stay home to clean, cook or shop for food, apparently, leads to the utter destruction of my sane, productive life.

So while I will miss their smiling faces as we are sitting by the pool, I am going to cherish Thursday when I send them on the bus and off to school.  It’s going to be a much needed respite. A chance to get my life in order and my brain unfrazzled.  At least for six hours…until they get off  the bus and I have to help them complete three different assignments due on the same day while simultaneously studying for a test all while driving them to and from activities.

What’s that cliché?  Oh yeah, the grass is not always greener on the other side.  Sigh.

You want me to give up what?!

‘Tis the season. No, not Christmas. Lent! This time before Easter is actually one of my favorites. It marks the beginning of the holiest time in the church. According to Wikipedia, the traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, atonement and self-denial. Sounds fun, right?

lent

Actually, I find Lent to be the most spiritual time for me because it is one where I give up something I love for 40 days (not including Sundays) and really try to focus on what God gave up for us.

This past Sunday, my little one was sick so Daddy stayed home and my oldest and I ventured out to church by ourselves. At breakfast, after church, we had a discussion about what Lent really is meant to be. She is starting to understand what it means now that she’s older. I loved this conversation. I was filled with joy and feeling wonderful that we were connecting. I was so overcome with happiness that I decided that it would be a fantastic idea if we got to pick for each other what we would sacrifice this season of Lent.

I went first. I chose for Maddie to give up junk food. She’s a great eater. She will eat whatever I put in front of her with little complaint. Everything from baked fish to boiled kale. But if she is given the choice between chocolate and kale, like any child, she is choosing chocolate. I really wanted her to take some time to cut the junk out and to understand what it feels like to eat healthy all the time. This felt like a huge victory for me. What was she going to do? Say no to God! Nope! Mommy – 1; Maddie – 0

She contemplated this for a while as she picked at her cheese omelette and bacon. Then she planned everything she was going to eat in the next three days to satisfy her junk food cravings until Easter.

Her turn. She looked at me thoughtfully and asked, “So, it has to be something you really love?” “Yes,” I replied. “Great. I want you to give up Netflix,” she said with the biggest grin ever.

“Ummm…well, see, umm…” I was literally stammering. I had no response. She couldn’t possibly be serious. Netflix? 40 days plus Sundays without Netflix?? I still have 28 episodes of Friends to watch. What will happen if I can’t watch the rest? Mommy – 0; Maddie – 1

This was the moment I actually stopped and listened to the crazy that was running through my head.

Here was my child, engaged in a meaningful discussion about God, Christ, Lent, and sacrifice and I was actually almost panicking because I couldn’t watch the rest of a television show that I actually watched in its entirety when it was actually on television.

This was the moment I realized that I was in a place to teach my child something. I was in a place to do something I didn’t want to do and to do it anyway because it is the least I can do for God who made the ultimate sacrifice for me.

So, I did the grown up thing. I told her yes. I would give up Netflix. So, now as I sit here and type, I’m listening to a podcast from Joyce Meyer. I would normally be watching Netflix as I work. To tell you the truth, so far, I’m not missing it. Granted, it’s been only 3 hours but I’ll take small victories.

The bigger victory at the end of the 40 days will not be that I taught my child by using words about sacrifice and Lent but that I was able to show her the love of Christ through my actions. And, finally, the biggest victory will be knowing in my heart the meaning of true sacrifice. Not Netflix or candy, but what God sacrificed.

Say it with me: For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

At the end of Lent, the math will look like this: Mommy – 1 + Maddie – 1 = God – 2

Amen.

The Best Worst Valentine’s Day Card…..EVER!

My beautiful Jane made me a Valentine’s Day Card. So thoughtful. So caring. So wrong, in so many ways. Let’s break it down, shall we.

The Cover:

valentine1

We’re off to a great start. She wants me to have a happy Valentine’s Day and I got two hearts…not one.

Fantastic.

valentine2

The first line is fabulous. She thinks I’m a dear mother. The second line, however; is better than the first. She is thanking me for giving her life. “I am happy that I am born.” Next line: “I liked the movie.” This one means the most to me because she should be grateful that I spent 2 hours sitting through Spongebob.

Moving on…”and I wish I could get a Valentine but no one makes me one. Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, Jane.”

Really, really? My child used my card to express her irritation that I didn’t make her a Valentine. Nevermind the clothes from Justice, the stuffed animals and the candy. And the fact that her sister made her one and she got 18 of them yesterday from her classmates.

The back cover:

Are you ready for the kicker? The best worst part of this Valentine’s Day card.

valentine3

She drew a picture of me handing out Valentine’s Day cards with the caption “Here Kevin, Here Maddie.” Do you notice what’s missing? Her name! She drew a picture of me handing out Valentines to everyone but her.

Despite the not so passive aggressive undertones of this Valentine. I know she loves me and the fact that she spent any time making me a card warms my heart and I get the added bonus of being able to hold this over her head for years to come.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mommy’s Not Cleaning It: Recap of Day 2

Good morning! Day 2 started like any other. Kevin and I worked out and Jane was the first of the children to wake up. She gets dressed and heads downstairs. But, wait! What is she carrying? In her hands was the giant box of goldfish and a box of graham crackers. This was it. I could feel it. I was certain she was going to ask what the two boxes were doing on the floor of her bedroom.

She puts them on the couch, stares at me with those big, blue eyes and asks, “Can I have some Cheerios with milk?” Then she proceeds to turn the television on and eat the goldfish!Jane with the goldfish

Oh, well. Maybe later she will realize. Back to my day. I went about my chores. As I was unloading the clean dishes and then loading the dirty ones into the dishwasher I realized one of the great benefits of my experiment is that there are less dishes to be done because they are all laying on the floors of my messy children.

Maddie came down as usual and fixed herself some Cheerios with bananas. She left the banana peel and the empty cheerio box on the counter. Ok, I admit that as she was making her breakfast, I was secretly hoping that she wouldn’t throw the banana peel away. I really wanted to toss it on her floor. Score for Mommy!

We all got ready to leave for school and the questions began. They all started with, “Where is_______?” (Insert any item here: shoes, bookbag, jacket, kindle, etc) They couldn’t find anything! I always answered the same way. “I don’t know. I haven’t seen it down here.” Snicker, snicker.

The girls left for school and I assessed the damage. Here’s what I put in their rooms:

banana peel
2 cereal bowls
plate
fork
deflated balloon
Valentine’s Day cards
books
pencil sharpener
sock
duct tape (really!)
nail polish remover
hair ties
empty cheerio box

The result was this:
maddiesroom
Janesroom

Oh, and the pear was still there:
pearunderpillow

Sigh.

We were very busy after school and didn’t get home until 7. The kids never said a word. Not one word. Until, Maddie went to bed. This is how it went:

Maddie: Mommy, this nail polish remover isn’t mine.

Me: Well, you left it out so I thought it must be important to you.

Maddie: Oh. (Silence) Well, what’s this banana peel doing in my room?

Me: Well, you left it out so I put it in your room. Figured you needed it.

Maddie: Really? (with all the snottiness of a full fledged teenager)

Me: Yup.

Maddie: My room needs some serious help.

Jane: Maddie, there’s mac n cheese in my room too.

Me and Kevin: covering our mouths so as not to laugh hysterically

The next 15 minutes were a mix of our explaining to the children what we had done and Maddie screaming and throwing a tantrum swearing she’s not messy and Jane saying, “ok. I’ll clean it tomorrow.”

Maddie was pissed. Pissed with a capital P. She screamed, cried and basically told us that we hated her. Twenty minutes later she apologized and then spent the next hour cleaning her room.

Thank God it’s over. I can’t wait to have my house back in order. We warned them there would be no screen time at all until their rooms were cleaned and we would continue with the process of tossing everything in their rooms if they didn’t learn to throw it away or put it away.

I feel victorious. I know it’s a long road ahead of keeping them on track but I feel like they finally get it. Let’s hope that they not only get it but implement the changes needed.

In the meantime, I’m going to sit back, relax with a cup of coffee and listen to them groan as they make their beds. Groan away children, groan away. Mommy won.