Momfession #57: Busy doing nothing

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I guess you could say I have been busy, although that seems like a lame excuse. Who ISN’T busy? Lately, though, I have been feeling especially unable to fit anything else into my life. I have a schedule that is beginning to drive me insane. Not only is it packed, but it is so predictable, and so ordinary, it’s maddening.

But instead of wallowing in self-pity, I thought I’d let you in on my daily life. Because if I’m feeling overwhelmed, there’ve got to be other moms that are feeling the same way. As you read, try not to feel jealous over the glamour of it all. And if you can relate, please comment. It will make me feel much better to know that you all have busy, boring lives too!

So without further ado, I present to you…

The Momfessional’s Daily Schedule

  • 6:20am- alarm goes off, I press snooze at least once.
  • 6:45-ish- finally drag myself to the shower. On the way, I not-so-quietly open up the door to our daughter’s room to start her wake up routine. She is not a morning person. My son has already been up for at least 30 minutes, watching some (hopefully appropriate) shows on Netflix
  • 7am- dry my hair while my daughter runs screaming into my room because she doesn’t want Daddy to change her, or look at her, or talk to her.
  • 7:10-7:20am- attempt to simultaneously dress myself and my daughter while my son storms around the house because he either: a) can’t find his Pokémon cards, or b) doesn’t want a bagel for breakfast, or c) can’t wear shorts in 10 degree weather. Then coax/prod/force my daughter to eat at least a few bites of something before we leave the house.
  • 7:30am- drop daughter off at daycare. We have perfected the goodbye and the entire dropoff now takes only four minutes. Unless one of her teachers starts chatting with me about her latest potty training regressions.
  • 7:45am- Run through the train station parking lot to catch the train, which has just arrived. I squeeze through the doors just as they are closing and flop myself into a seat.
  • 8:30am- Arrive at the office. Breathe. Have my first cup of coffee.
  • 8:30am-4:30pm- Work, rarely take lunch, sometimes fit in a call to G’s school, the doctor, or my husband (since morning conversations are pretty much impossible)
  • 4:50pm- Catch the train home. Always board at the last minute, usually sweaty and breathless.
  • 5:30pm- Arrive home, drop bag, immediately start making dinner, attempting to ignore the cat at my feet and the fact that I have to pee. Around the same time, my husband arrives with the kids. They burst through the door, my son asking if we can order pizza (no), my daughter announcing that she peed her pants. I secretly wish I could just pee my pants too.
  • 6:15pm- Dinner. One or both kids complain about one or more things on their plate. I ask my son to sit up straight and eat over his plate approximately 30 times. I unsuccessfully attempt trick my daughter into eating at least one vegetable. Any attempt at adult conversation is thwarted by the two jabbering/screaming/complaining children.
  • 6:50pm- Fight with my daughter to take a bath. Fight with her to brush her teeth. Fight with her to get out of the bath. You get the gist.
  • 7:30pm- Stories are read, kisses are given, dollies are tucked in to bed. My daughter screams and demands I stay for “five more minutes”. When I leave, she screams for anywhere from 5-20 minutes.
  • 8pm- Start bedtime routine for our son. Thankfully, my husband does this as I am just about to lose it and I still have to pee.
  • 8-9pm- Clean dishes, tidy house, do laundry, fill out permission slips, write in son’s agenda, make school lunch, feed the cat, run out to grocery store because we have no milk or bread, again. How is it possible that we use SO MUCH milk and bread?!
  • 9pm- Sit down. Sometimes do work while watching Netflix. Or watch trashy Real Housewives episodes. Or blog (as you know, this one rarely happens anymore).
  • 10:30pm- Start my own bedtime routine. I’m tired, but what makes me even more exhausted is thinking about doing it all over again tomorrow.
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Momfession #56: Heartbreaking work

It all started with a conversation I had with a potential client over coffee. Both being mothers, we began talking about the challenges that we and all parents face when raising kids, no matter what stage those kids are in. She has a teenaged daughter, and, after telling her about how hard I felt those sleepless-nighted, poop-ridden, hyper-vigilant baby and toddler years are, she proceeded to enlighten me about life with a teenager. She painted a less-than-pretty picture which included slammed doors, secrets, and still sleepless nights (I guess some things never change). While we talked I began to feel a slight shiver spread across my body, but it left as quickly as it came. I have years before I have to deal with that stuff, I thought.

A few days later, a friend of mine posted this video on their Facebook wall. If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch. It so poignantly revealed how fast life goes, and how quickly your kids grow from sweet-smelling, helpless beings to independent, responsible adults. Again, I felt it: this time, a bone-chilling sensation that made the hair on my arms stand up, coupled with a tightening in my chest and a wave of nausea. What the heck is wrong with me? I thought. Why am I so bothered by the idea of my kids growing up? They’re still so little!

But last week was the real clincher. I received a phone call from my son’s school one afternoon. I was told that he and another eight-year-old were “being silly” and were making sexual-ish gestures and innuendos. I dealt with the teacher quickly, assured her that he was not exposed to any sexual material in our home, that he must have heard about that kind of stuff from his friends, and that we would have a conversation with him that evening.

When I got off the phone, I was shaking so hard I had to leave my office. Tears welled up in my eyes. I felt like I had been sucker-punched in the belly. And one thought began running through my head.. “Not yet. He can’t grow up yet.”

The longer I am a parent, the more I realize how hard this job really is. When the kids are little, you think it is tough. And it IS. Sleepless nights, screaming babies, and diaper explosions are not for the faint of heart. But as they get bigger, it gets harder. True, once they start taking care of themselves the morning routines become a bit easier, but the tradeoff is that they begin to lose their innocence. They need to become independent, and you have to let them go a bit more every day, releasing them into a harsh, often confusing world filled with innocence-killers around every corner.

They will hear and see things you wish they hadn’t. They will learn about adult topics from their friends, no matter how many times you give them “the talk”. They will make bad decisions and you won’t be there to stop them. It breaks my heart every time I think about our kids growing up and losing their innocence. It makes me want to grab them as tightly as I can, and squeeze them as long and hard as humanly possible, for the rest of my life. But that’s not what being a parent is all about. I think it’s about building your kids a solid foundation, so that when it comes time for them to make their own decisions, they are well-equipped to make good ones.

And as I am learning more and more each day, it is simultaneously the most beautiful and heartbreaking thing I have ever experienced.

Momfession #53: Control freak

Last night, while playing volleyball, I sprained my ankle. As soon as I landed (on a member of the opposing team’s foot, after a failed attempt to block a shot) I knew I was in trouble. The pain was so overwhelming I could do nothing but lay curled on the floor for a minute. It was the kind of pain that makes you want to throw up; anyone who has broken a limb or gone through labour knows exactly what I mean. My mind immediately started racing: what if it is broken? What if I have a cast? How will I get to work? Do I need crutches? How am I going to drop my daughter off at daycare? There’s no juice for breakfast…how am I going to go grocery shopping if I can’t walk? And on, and on.

My husband says I worry too much. That I should just relax and accept that sometimes, things just happen that I can’t control. And it is true. But when you have people depending on you, it is easier said than done. For one thing, I recently started a new job at a new company. When I say recently, I mean that today was my third day. And I have already had to take a sick day. I don’t think I have taken a sick day in over a year, and here I am, already taking time off. What must my new company think? I wonder. That I am a complete spaz? That I am one of those people who is always getting hurt? That I am a liability? Of course none of those things are true (although my spaziness is up for debate), and my new job and boss are awesome, but I still worry about the impression that this situation makes.

And then there’s the kids. Although they were really great today (K offered me her “comfy blanket” this morning and G helped me hobble around the house), I feel guilty about my state. I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store last night and they had no juice or milk at breakfast. I couldn’t carry K upstairs the way I normally do before bed. And I was extra irritable tonight with them as a result of my pain and discomfort. I felt like I failed them in the mom department today, although I am sure they didn’t notice one bit.

Maybe this is life’s way of telling me that I can’t always be the one in charge. That things will still be OK, even if I need to lean on other people for a change (literally and figuratively).That I can’t control everything, all of the time, and I need to accept that. And that worrying isn’t going to change any of that.

For me, and I think a lot of other moms, it is an extremely difficult challenge to overcome. We are used to being the ones in charge: running the household, booking the appointments, building our careers, nursing the boo-boos, setting the bedtime routines, and generally managing our lives and those of our family’s. So when I lose even a little bit of that control, I tend to panic. But in reality, any amount of control I think I may have over my life is a bit of a sham; there is really no way to control this great, crazy, unpredictable world that we live in. So why try? There are going to be sprained ankles and missed meetings, lost lunch bags and failed tests, natural disasters and financial issues, whether I like it or not. I guess I just need to put my feet up and accept the imperfection of it all.

So if you need me, I’ll be at home tomorrow, resting my ankle. I’ll be the one on the couch watching Netflix, wallowing in self-pity and cupcake crumbs.

Momfession #51: It’s potty time

My daughter is exactly three years, one month, and 24 days old. And until yesterday, we had never seriously attempted to potty train her. Sure, she’s pooed on the potty a few times; which mostly consisted of catching her in the crouching-quietly-behind-the-living-room-curtains act, quickly carrying her to the bathroom, and plopping her down on her Dora potty seat. But that was the extent of it. Whenever we’d mention the word “potty”, she’d scream and writhe on the floor. When we asked her if she had to pee, she would run away shouting, “Nooooo!”. So, I chalked it up to her being extremely stubborn and decided that she would let me know when it was time. While all of my mommy friends talked about their little ones using the potty, I (somewhat shamefully) admitted that we weren’t even close with K. When I would see kids a full year younger than her asking to use the potty, I would point them out and say, “See K? That little girl uses the potty…don’t you want to?” (to which she would cross her arms, scowl and say, “NO! I NOT WANT TO!”). But although I was slightly embarrassed about it in social situations with other moms and kids, I was actually pretty OK with the no potty thing, and I wasn’t sure why.

This weekend, K went cold turkey. We took away the diapers, put on some princess underwear and hoped for the best. And except for a few accidents (she peed on Mike while at the park, and peed on the basement stairs), she was fine. She went from screaming and running away from the bathroom to peeing on command in a short 24 hours. I could see how proud she was of herself; she wouldn’t let me help her with the toilet paper, or her pants, and she even brought her favourite doll into the bathroom to show her how it’s done. And I was proud too; although I knew there were kids much younger mastering the same skill as my three-year-old, I was still absolutely blown away at how quickly she caught on.

Last night, after the kids went to bed, my husband and I were talking about how proud we were of our little girl and the progress she had made. All of a sudden, I burst into tears. Right then and there, it hit me. My baby was no longer a baby. She was becoming a beautiful, independent, smart, awesome little person that needed her mommy just a bit less every day. And as proud as I was of her, it was also heart wrenching. As I blubbered about time moving too fast, and my little girl growing up, my husband calmly said, “but Col, that’s a good thing.” And he’s right; it IS. It is a good, beautiful, amazing experience to see your children flourish before your eyes. But for this mommy, it’s also bittersweet.

So perhaps that’s why I wasn’t too bothered by the lack of potty training success up until this point. Maybe a part of me wanted to keep her diapers, as a last-ditch effort to keep my baby a baby just a little bit longer. A subconscious attempt to grab onto time and slow it down, just a little, until I felt ready to have a “big girl”. Completely unrealistic, and totally selfish, but it’s the truth.

On the bright side, I’m going to save a lot of money not buying diapers. Which will come in handy, as I think I am going to have to step up my weekly wine consumption. This parenting thing is a freaking emotional rollercoaster sometimes!

Momfession #49: The phone call

mom on phoneThis evening, I had to make a quick business call from home. Thankfully, it isn’t something I have to do often any more (once, I had a psycho boss that would call my cell at all times of day or night just to “chat”). I knew it would only take a minute, and the kids were playing relatively quietly in the living room, so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. “Hey guys,” I said, to both kids and the hubster who was playing on his iPod, “I’m just going to make a quick call for work…can you just keep it down?” They all seemed to acknowledge that they heard my request, so I dialled the number.

Not two rings in, something happened. My kids instantly went from playing with each other and speaking in normal tones, to running around me in circles, screaming. They became possessed beings, laughing maniacally and chasing me while I ran from room to room, laptop in one hand, cell phone wedged between my shoulder and ear. I apologized profusely to the person on the other end of the line, who certainly must have thought I had 10 kids instead of two, and tried desperately to sound light hearted and playful, while mouthing “STOP IT” and putting on my best mean mom face. I ended up in the only room in our house with a lock on the door: the bathroom. As I attempted to finish my call, with my laptop balanced on the sink, my two lovely children screamed and pounded on the door. And where, you might ask, was my husband this entire time? In the living room, still playing on his iPod.

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Momfession #48: Whatcha want? Whatcha really, really want?

mindfulness

Yesterday, I was working from home when I received a Groupon email. It was advertising a highly discounted, two month membership to a local gym. Since I have been feeling especially disappointed lately with the 20+ post-preggo pounds that I still haven’t shed (three years later), and my general lack of activity, I clicked on it. But as my mouse hovered over the “buy now” button, I spotted the candy-covered gingerbread house that my kids and I made for Christmas, perched nicely on the counter, just five feet away. My eyes darted from the frosting and gumdrops, to the fit, smiling, six-packed lady on my screen. “Sweet, cookie goodness now, and the hope of a tighter ass in two months,” I thought. So, I went for it. I grabbed a giant chunk of gingerbread roof and got ready to make yet another New Years promise to get in shape. But just as I was typing in my billing info, I stopped, and a single, clarifying thought entered my mind.

Do I really want to do this?

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Momfession #46: The other side of bullying

Every Monday evening, our entire family attends a program for boys with behaviour challenges. Gabriel goes to a “boys group” and they play games and work on developing strategies to deal with their anger and frustration that don’t involve violence, expletives, or hurling large items at their teachers. Mike and I go to the parent group, where we learn parenting techniques to help assist us in raising our challenging sons. And Kailyn goes to the daycare, where she makes crafts and dances. It is difficult to make it there for 6pm every Monday; the kids eat “dinner” (PB&J’s and goldfish crackers) in the car while I fight rush hour traffic and Mike acts as mediator between two very tired and cranky children who would rather be home. But, over the last two months, we have seen some positive changes in both ourselves and Gabriel, and albeit small, they are enough to keep us going.

Tonight, our topic du jour was bullying. Perfect, I thought…this is something that I have been wanting to discuss. How do we get our kid NOT to pick on other kids at school, when at home he is a loving, empathetic child (most of the time)? Surely, since this was a program for kids with behavioural issues, we would be discussing the “other side” of bullying: what do you do when your kid is a bully. But, the discussion didn’t go that way. Instead, we discussed how to find out if your kid is being bullied, what to tell him, and how to advocate for him. And, while I believe that those are all very important things to learn, it left me wondering: what about us?

Continue reading “Momfession #46: The other side of bullying”